Lani's household consists of Steve, the long-suffering coding genius and computer security guru; Jim, Lani's tall, red-headed and handsome son, currently finishing his second year of college; Hunter, Jasmine, Himari, Chenault, the miraculous Onyx and the even more miraculous Resk, undisputed feline rulers of the house; and Jesse, the man-hating green-cheeked conure.
Ann's household consists of Don, who is not just a computer genius but a pilot, a builder, and a damn good father; their son Steve, the marathon-running, college-bound, funniest teenager I know; and wonder dog Tater.
Other family members are Laurie, Lani's beautiful daughter who teaches at elementary levels; her handsome son Alex, aka Alexander the Great; Mary and Bo, a/k/a Mom and Dad, and Bud and Ann, Steve's patient and wonderful parents.
Truly, having all three of us in one place was fantastic. I had the best time! Here's some photographic evidence of the fun that was had:
On Saturday we went to Estes Park. It was gorgeous, the weather was perfect, and the sun was BRIGHT. We walked, we shopped, we ate lunch, we talked and laughed -- it was great. On Sunday we hung out at home, made homemade pasta which was both harder and easier than I thought it would be and every bit as delicious as I had hoped, and generally enjoyed ourselves. Here's photographic evidence, complete with Ann chopping cucumbers with a kukri, which Ethan actually purchased from Nepal and gave to Steve last Christmas. She scorned our knives, which I have to admit are about as sharp as cement blocks and need to be replaced. Fortunately, the kukri has a blade like a razor.
And finally, for Ann and Charlotte, here's a picture of the art I bought in Estes finally hanging on the wall. I'm probably going to tweak the hanging position a little bit, but at least it's up! And yes, Charlotte, I went back for the table AND the vase ... you had to know that was happening.
We are so doing this every year from now on. We could even go stay at the cottage and relive our teenage years ... what a shame the Miracle Strip closed down!
1. We've had quite the interesting spring here. After a very cold but very dry winter where it barely snowed at all even though we hit -20 on a fairly regular basis, it's done nothing BUT snow in April and well into May. We're actually forecast to get snow showers again tonight. We need the moisture -- after the Fourmile Fire last year and the Golden Fire earlier this year everyone who lives in the mountains is running scared. Still, what you see in these pictures isn't exactly what you expect to see going into Memorial Day weekend. 2. After all the late snow we've been very worried about our hummingbirds, so I'm happy to report that the snow has melted over the last couple of days and the hummers have stuck their pointy little beaks out from wherever they've been hiding and are eating me out of house and home and sugar-water. The fox is plump and happy, which may have something to do with why there seems to be a scarcity of chipmunks this year. The bear has been notably absent from our yard, although he's been seen down the road from us.
3. Jim had a SUPER semester, all As and Bs, and is taking another full load over the summer. He's very positive about school and seems to be taking it very seriously, which makes me very proud and very happy.
4. One of the things that has kept me busy is taking some courses at the Culinary Institute of the Rockies just for the fun of it. Steve offered to pay for a couple of courses for me, and I offered to pay for Jim to join me (such dedication to school deserves a reward!). We decided to take two courses, Sushi Madness and Dim Sum ... and the Dim Sum course was so much fun we took the followup, And Den Sum, the next week. Here are a couple of snaps of Jim (and other class members) during the sushi class. 5. What did we learn in our sushi class? Glad you asked! We learned to make sushi rice, of course, and we learned how to make all sorts of rolls, both inside-out and regular. Our first rolls were, well, not very roll-ish; but we got better, and while none of us are going to give professional sushi chefs a run for their money by the end of the class everyone could put together a respectable looking roll. We learned how to make nigiri, which I never knew was so complicated. We learned how to choose fresh fish, which was something I really wanted to know, and got tips on where to get good fish in Colorado. AND we learned that we really enjoy taking these classes. Steve has already reaped the benefits of our new-found culinary education; I made him a sushi dinner on the Sunday after this class.
6. And the dim sum classes? I loved those more than the sushi class, which I wouldn't have believed going into it. Here's the list of recipes from the two dim sum classes; we made every single thing on this list, and ate until we waddled out the door of the institute swearing we'd never eat again.
Basic Yeast Dough and Roast Pork, which combine to make Steamed Buns with Roast Pork Filling (Char Siu Bao) Potstickers Scallion Cakes Vegetarian Spring Rolls Pork Dumplings with Spicy Peanut Sauce Wheat Starch Dumpling Dough, used to make Steamed Shrimp Dumplings Chicken, Sausage and Rice wrapped in Lotus Leaves (He Ye Bao) Braised Chinese Broccoli Crap Shao Mai Hot & Spicy Squid Garlic-Stewed Spareribs Golden Phoenix Claws (chicken feet in black bean sauce) Shrimp Stuffed Mushrooms Pearl Balls (steamed pork balls in glutinous rice) Ma T'uan (Sesame Seed Balls) Mango Pudding Custard Tartlets
Steve has been happy we took this class too, since Jim and I have made Char Siu Bao, Potstickers, Boiled Pork Dumplings and Scallion Cakes already and we're planning another dim sum meal this week. He absolutely loves the Bao and has made me swear to keep the freezer stocked with them so that he can have spur of the moment steamed pork bun lunches.
7. Third Sister is coming to visit in a couple of weeks! I'm very excited and have been trying to put together a list of fun things to do while she's here. She's only here for a few days though and I don't want to pack too much in .. I want some time to just relax and enjoy having her here. And of course some time to play with her pasta-maker attachment for my KitchenAid so I know whether I want to buy one for myself or not ;)
8. All the cats are doing well, as is Jesse. Resk is amazingly healthy and happy and well adjusted, especially considering everything he's been through. He also gets along well with all of the other cats with the exception of occasional run-ins with Onyx, who is very jealous of his human, and it isn't uncommon to see cat-piles on the bed.
9. We broke down and bought a king-sized bed. Six cats? It was self-defense.
10. What #9 means is that we now have a spare bedroom again (Jim having moved into the previous spare bedroom meant that for a while there wasn't one). Guests are welcome. Hint, hint.
1. Knitting - I am finished! That shawl I've been working on forever is DONE! I will be washing and blocking it this week, since I am lucky enough to be working at home all week, and I'll have pictures to show. While I've been working on it I finished one sock, and about half a baby sweater. The shawl required concentration and good light, none of which are always available, so there were some other projects that snuck in.
2. Since I posted last, we celebrated Don's birthday on April 15. Don and I were both traveling that week (of course) and we managed to meet in Boston on the 14th, then went up to visit our friends, Dennis and Cheri. Don wanted a helicopter for his birthday (no, not full size, this time it's a model - we already have two airplanes!), so I ordered the model and had it mailed to Dennis. I sent him a note letting him know it was coming - and then didn't notice that the note bounced. Did I mention that Dennis' birthday is right after Dons?? I'm sure you see what's coming, unfortunately I was bouncing from coast to coast that week and was oblivious. Yep, Dennis received the box, thought it was for him, and opened it. Then he sends Don a note telling him he's playing with the helicopter and it's really cool. Then - it gets worse - Don sends a reply saying "if anyone but you was playing with my birthday present I'd kill them." Dennis was mortified.
Well, it all worked out in the end, since we left the model helicopter with Dennis and got Don another one, but I felt pretty bad. Don and Dennis are still laughing about it.
3. I am doing some work on acquisitions for my company, and was talking to the team this morning. I asked where my next trip would be - last one was Paris - and they said Hawaii. I told them I was born there but hadn't been back. There was a silence, and then one of the guys said,
"I'm going to need to see your birth certificate."
4. In the last week I was in Zurich, London, somewhere outside London that involved an hour and a half train ride to get there, and a day trip to Paris. I have officially decided that is too much travel for one 7 day period, and my ankles agree. Even with the lovely elastic tights I have to wear now, when I got home I had cankles. Ick.
5. Steve ate two-week-old turkey, got food poisoning, tried to tough it out and wound up calling 911. He then spent the night in the hospital. This happened, of course, while we were out of town. Steve called our good friend, Dr. Ann, who ditched whatever fun thing she had planned on a Friday night and went to the hospital to make sure he was okay. And he was. He says that he's not ever eating turkey again.
6. Steve got Dr. Ann an orchid for Mother's Day, which was an appropriate response to #5. Steve got me an orchid for Mother's Day, which I thought was very appropriate as well. It's in my office.
7. Our niece, Kristin, graduated with her MBA. Don was in New Jersey, I was in New York, so we managed to make it to her graduation ceremony. It was great to see her, and I hope she will come to visit this summer. Don's brother, Dennis, (not the previously mentioned Dennis, Don's friend) cried at the graduation, which made me cry.
8. Steve has finished school for the semester and he got a job at Panera. They call it "Planet Bread".
9. I am at home for an entire week. 7 blissful days.
10. And for a belated Mother's Day thought have a look at this. I can just add - Amen.
This week we were in Lakeland for Sun 'n Fun on Wednesday, and returning home on Thursday, which turned out to be really good timing on our part since they were hit by a tornado on Thursday. Have a look here.
We saw Tom, and he had his plane there, but we talked to him on Thursday and both he and his plane are fine. He says that using a sledgehammer to put in his tie-downs saved him, and I will tell you that when we take Don's plane to Osh Kosh or Sun 'n Fun the sledgehammer is coming with us. It's just heartbreaking to think of how many years go into building a plane, to have it torn apart in an instant. Don thinks it may be 40 planes that were totaled, including one built by a Boy Scout troop that was due to be auctioned the day after the tornado. Heartbreaking for sure.
Well, in better news, Don and I spent Thursday in Tampa/Clearwater and went to Sea Sea Riders. When I first met Don we would go to lunch there, and they had this awesome dessert called a Kitchen Sink. Well, that was almost twenty years ago, so when we went last year of course it wasn't on the menu.
Without me knowing anything about it Don corresponded with the owner of the restaurant, and when we went this year for lunch he surprised me with a Kitchen Sink. Turns out the chef who was there 20 years ago had left long ago, but had just come back to work for them, and he had created the dessert originally so he re-created it. Here we are with the Kitchen Sink, and with the chef. No other pictures, nothing more to show but same-old knitting. That shawl will be with me for the next however many months, I'm making progress but it just looks like a slightly larger version of the same thing I've shown you twice already. I did finish one of a pair of socks except for the kitchenering, but I'll save pictures until I have a pair to show you.
I'm off today for London, then a one day trip to Zurich on Tuesday. That is my first trip to Switzerland, so that should be interesting. Then back to London for a few days and home on Friday. Then off to Las Vegas for a conference on Sunday, April 10, then Las Vegas to Boston on Wednesday for another conference, and Don will join me in Boston on his birthday. After that I hope I get to stay home for a few days before I go to visit Mom and Dad!
Hope all is well on top of your mountain and that the bears coming out of hibernation haven't gotten into your house, cars, garbage cans, or anything else. Let me know what's going on - the blog seems more "Sister" these days than "Sister, Sister". (hint hint)
So I just got back from two days in Cleveland, Don just got back from a few days in South Carolina working on the airplane. I am leaving this evening for a conference in Dallas (must remember to bring the hairspray and blue eyeshadow), then will go from Dallas to New York, and finally home again on Thursday evening. Whew.
Lots of knitting being done on the planes, but it's not very exciting to show. I am (still) working on this shawl (Ravelry link, sorry if you can't access), and I think I might still be working on it in November. Seriously. It has 168 rows, and you increase 6 stitches every 4 rows, so you start with 49 stitches and end with 301 stitches. I am on row 68, only 10o to go! And it takes longer each row as it gets bigger . . .
After I finish all these rows, then I get to do the knitted on edging. In terms of actual stitches knitted, I believe I may have completed 10% - maybe 15% - I'm afraid to do the math. I restarted it three times, and now I am using every device that I can think of to make it easier. There is a lifeline that I move every eight rows (that is a piece of yarn threaded through it so it can't unravel beyond that point, for those who don't know) and stitch markers every six stitches so I can't lose track of where I am. That seems to be working, ever since I put in the lifeline I haven't needed it. This is clearly the most complicated thing I have ever knit but I am enjoying the process. Picture below - not that it's much to look at right now. In other knitting news, I'm back in the baby sweater business. Two of the men I work with will have new babies in their families this year. One a girl, and the other unknown as of yet. I'm still deciding what sweater to knit for the girl, and will be looking through the stash for something to start on this trip. Maybe purple . . . maybe with beads. . . . who knows?
And - totally unrelated to the above - we came back from our morning breakfast-and-take-Tater-for-a-drive this morning and found a critter in our yard. I have no idea what it is, it is the size of a small cat but looks like a large rat (ick). I first thought maybe a ground hog, but it has a bald tail. It's not a possum, it doesn't have that long snout. I am still trying to identify it, but mostly I'm just grateful that it was OUTSIDE and I didn't meet it in the kitchen. I tried to get a picture but when I went inside to get the camera it disappeared.
That's all that is exciting here. How about up on your mountain?
On Monday, Feb 28 (Mom's birthday) I went out to dinner with a group of ladies from work and here we are toasting to Mom. Happy Birthday!!
I got stuck in London over the weekend, which I wasn't too happy about but it turned out okay since I decided that I had to entertain myself instead of mope in the hotel room. I went here Friday night, and found my favorite horse painting, Whistlejacket. He's life size and is absolutely gorgeous.
Then on Saturday I met a friend from the office and did this , then we went to lunch, and then I went shopping to Liberty of London. It was FABULOUS! An entire floor of fabrics, yarn, needlepoint, crewel, other crafty things - a wall of buttons. I restrained myself and still came home with a few things. Very lovely!
For all of this moving around I got a day pass for the Tube, and of course you need a map of the Tube or who knows where you would wind up. This is the cover of the Tube map these days. I want to go to Laughter, Brilliance, Joy, Awe and Compassion. I'll skip Fame, Pride, Envy and Perfection, please. I did fairly well and took all the right trains, which I was very proud of. It's such a great system - tube stations are everywhere. I figured out at the end of the day that a day pass gets you not only the tube but buses and water taxis too, all for about 6 pounds. What a deal, and what an easy way to get around London!
So, my favorite thing that happened this week was a realization I had. This is my second trip to London with this company, and our office is at the corner of Wood St. and London Wall Street. I've said this to lots of people between taxi drivers and others I'm meeting with, but as I got in the elevator my last day there I looked out of the glass wall of the elevator and noticed that there is what looks like a ruin right next to the building. Then I looked closer, and realized it was the wall. As in The London Wall around the city, built by the Romans in the 2nd or 3rd century - that wall. As in - that's why it's called London Wall Street.
So I walked outside with my camera. My office in London is the building on the left in the first picture. I can't even tell you how awed I was to be looking at something that was built that long ago, and to think about living in a time where a wall like that would actually protect you from your enemies. So before the next visit I'm determined to read a bit more about London history and to see more (perhaps I should just say to notice more . . . )
First of all just let me say that truthfully, sometimes I think that this sister-sister thing isn't just a blog. The circle cloth you made for Mom? In yellow and white? Yeah. My February cloth for her is a circle cloth, in yellow and white. I'd attach a photo, but the cats are REALLY insistent about helping with photography today so you're going to have to wait.
Next, my car! Go, Subaru of America -- I got my car back on Wednesday with a new turbo and new short block, all covered under the warranty. Given that I'm only 2,000 miles short of the end of that warranty, I'm counting my blessings that this happened now and not a few weeks from now! Essentially I now have a new engine; I went on and had them do a lot of additional service to the car including replacing the timing belt since the engine was already out of the car, so this baby should be good for a nice long time now. They made me sweat a bit about it, but honestly once I got them the last of my maintenance records they were very quick to reassure me that everything would be covered, and to get the work done for me. My faith in my Subarus is entirely intact!
And finally, some photos of what I did last weekend. I was a bit bored, what with snow and carlessness and all, so I decided to try my hand at making candy (with somewhat mixed, but overall positive, results). Here are the fruits of my labor: That plate includes divinity, caramel brittle (my first batch of caramel didn't quite turn out the way I had planned!), homemade marshmallows, homemade marshmallows wrapped in caramel (I've decided that my middle initial E stands for Excess, not Elizabeth), and ... wait for it ... tiramisu truffles. Yes, they ARE as good as they sound.
I learned a LOT while doing this, not the least of which is that because the boiling point up here near 9000 feet altitude is lower, you have to cook sugar to a lower temperature than you otherwise would. My first attempt at caramel to wrap the marshmallows resulted in caramel brittle; even my second attempt was much stiffer than I intended. This will obviously require further experimentation!
I also learned that I will never, ever buy marshmallows again, because they are dead easy to make, incredibly delicious, and they melt into the most fantastic fluff imaginable on top of hot cocoa. I learned that divinity is stupidly easy to make up here where the humidity was hovering around 20%, except that it sets up insanely fast so that next time I'll be making it in a pan instead of trying to make little swirly drops.
And finally, I learned that Steve and Jim can eat more candy than you would think possible for two relatively skinny guys, and that it makes them very happy for me to play around with candy-making. Shocking, right?
I've spent this week, and the first day of this weekend, trying very, very hard not to catch the plague that one of my coworkers brought back to the office from her vacation, which includes a high fever and a racking cough and which is decimating our office. I think maybe I've beaten it off; if that is indeed the case, tomorrow I'll be making (a) The Cake, and (b) chocolate-sauerkraut cupcakes. Yes, I did say chocolate-sauerkraut. I'm debating on peanut butter frosting or caramel frosting, although a kielbasa topping was suggested by Jim, who as you may guess is somewhat skeptical about this project. I'll keep you posted.
EDIT: Sock Summit! I had planned to go last year but the signup filled up literally in seconds, and I wasn't able to get a spot. Frustration wasn't the word. I'd LOVE to go with you though ... let's see how they handle signups this year.