Friday, November 27, 2015

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cake Time!

I am not a cook. Not at all. (Ask my husband.)

But, I was raised in the South, so any time we get invited to a party, I open my Big Mouth and ask if I can bring something, as if I'm some kind of Paula Deen.

Image from Google

So, when our sweet neighbor Belinda invited us to 60th birthday party for our other sweet neighbor Janet, I asked what I could bring.  Belinda listed several things, including dessert, which I sometimes can pull off.  

Thinking I did not want to "clash" with the cake, I e-mailed to ask what kind she'd be serving.  

That was my first mistake.

She wrote back and said it would be wonderful if I'd bring the cake.  So, I figured I needed to step outside my comfort zone, and actually make (not buy) the cake. 

That was my second mistake.

I then e-mailed to ask Janet about her favorite kind of cake.  She wrote back and said Boston Cream Pie or Angel Food.

As a child, I'd watched my Southern Mother make an Angel Food cake in a special Pan-with-Weird-Handles turned upside down on a Coke bottle, but I didn't have a Coke bottle...or anything even resembling that pan.

Image from Google (obviously...Mom would NEVER have used a DIET Coke bottle!)

So, I figured I'd make a Boston Cream Pie, although I've never even seen one in real life. 

That was my third mistake.
Image from Google

Undaunted, I found a "Boston Cream Pie Mini" recipe that reviewers said was "quick and easy," with a prep time of 20 minutes, and a total time of less than two short hours.  It looked less frightening than the real pie recipe, which called for making nice, flat, even layers ~ have YOU ever made a cake layer that was perfectly flat, much less even?  Sure, you just cut each layer with a knife; I've tried that. It wasn't pretty. Or flat. Or even. Or bloodless.

So, instead, I gathered the ingredients for the harmless-looking little mini cakes, and in less than THREE long hours, I had these:

Not too bad, right?  Hey, I was proud enough to take a second photo, to show that more than one of them came out OK:

I was on a roll!  I even arranged them in a "60" shape, as I'd seen in a Martha Stewart Living Magazine, first doing a "rough draft" with plain pastel liners:

...and then creating the final masterpiece with "Happy Birthday" muffin cups (I went all out):

I think I'll quit teaching and open a cupcake shop!

What?  What's that?  Did I hear someone say something about a FOURTH mistake...

Thursday, April 4, 2013


This is the most beautiful sight in the world.

OK, so maybe that claim does need a little explanation.

You see, the rain and snow we've had over the past couple of days means we're once again able to joke about Colorado's three seasons:  winter, mud, and construction.  

For the past few years, there's been no joke. It was winter or wildfire season. 
Nothing else.

This year, we're hoping the mud season stays for a while.  I used to gripe about slogging through the wet, slurpy mix of mud and manure, but never again.

I welcome the rain.

The animals might not be quite so thrilled, though.

"Stupid rain. I'm wet, and cold, and hungry."
(She's ALWAYS hungry.)

"Stupid mud."
(And she's ALWAYS grouchy.)

"Feed me. Now."

Some things never change...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy New Year!

Every year, I'm amazed at just how cold it can get for the New Year, and every year, my husband reminds me that THIS is nothing ~ the cold weather is still on its way.  Yeah, that makes me want to get out of bed in the mornings...

Well, at least the cold brings special beauty with it ~ these unusual icicles were decorating the barn recently, shimmering in the morning sun.  In trying to figure out how these beauties were formed, I almost forgot how cold I was, until I realized I couldn't feel my finger as I pushed the button on the camera!

These icicles reminded me of pea pods, but I think that's because I have gardening on my mind!  We're going to try to start our Community Garden again this year at our schoolhouse, and I just can't wait! Please feel free to check for updates on that garden at our other blog:

I like how the icicles weren't all the same; diversity is good!

Look at that delicate top; how is this heavy icicle still up there???


Mother Nature continues to amaze me daily!  I think the icicles were a metaphor for hanging on, even when times get tough (or COLD)!

Hopefully, your New Year won't require much "hanging on," and it will be filled with beauty and WARMTH ~ Happy 2013!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Proposal

OK, so this didn't happen in the mountains OR at school, but I just HAD to write about it:  MY SON BRANDON GOT ENGAGED!   

Months ago, he told me about his plan to propose to his girlfriend Dani during a horse show at the National Western Stock Show arena in Denver on November 30.  It was simple, he said:  He'd ride in at the end of her performance and give her the ring. 

All it entailed was getting permission from the show managers, asking the judge to allow a little "time out," inviting both families without Dani's knowledge, coming up with wild stories to explain how said family members all just happened to get the day off from work at the same time, getting the ring and hiding it during their trip down from Cheyenne, scheduling Dani to be last in the lineup (so as not to interfere with other competitors), making sure the announcer could stop her from leaving the arena, changing into his "spiffy" clothes at the last minute, and having a buddy get his horse ready (thank you, Ben!). 

This from a young man who usually realizes at 5 p.m. on December 24 that he probably should go Christmas shopping; who calls to ask if yesterday or the day before was your birthday; and who renews his license plates only when reminded to do so by the nice officer who pulls him over.

In other words, he's not exactly what you'd call a "planner."

Just knowing Brandon was willing to tackle all that made me realize he had found The Girl.  I'm so thankful she said "yes" ~ welcome to the family, Dani!

NOTE: I was hoping to post the video I took of this amazing event, but I was shaking so much that it didn't turn out well.  Luckily, the professional show photographers also knew the plan (Brandon had taken care of that, too!), and they took some fantastic photos, giving us permission to use them as we please (thank you, 3 Lazy J Photography)!  

As they enter the arena to surprise Dani, who's more excited, 
Brandon or Blueberry?

Now, who's more surprised, Dani or her horse Socks?

Socks thinks the ring is a treat for her!

Socks wonders why Dani is getting her treat.

Why are engagement rings always so hard to put on?

Socks wants a hug, too.

Socks is so DONE with this.

The happy couple leaves the arena, to the loudest clapping of the day.

Aren't they adorable?

Aren't their HORSES adorable?  (PS:  Dani's Mom and I have already asked, and the only plans for grandkids are four-legged and furry ones.)


It's a bit disconcerting to wake up at 4 a.m. to the smell of heavy smoke when you live in a forest.  

Walking outside before dawn this morning was like standing next to a campfire, with the wind blowing the wrong direction. The  yard light illuminated tiny spirals of ash swirling all around, like snow flurries.  The moon glowed red overhead, adding a sinister note.

We're pretty sure all the commotion is coming from the big fire in Rocky Mountain National Park, which is due west of our house.  At least we hope it's not anything closer.

It makes me think of family members and friends who care for us, asking why we choose to live in such a challenging place.  It's hard to explain, but like the people who live on the coast where hurricanes roar in, or on the plains where tornadoes rip through, we stay because this land calls to us.  It's home.

Update:  Our prayers go out to the families evacuated by the Fern Lake Fire in Estes Park, and to the firefighters trying to control it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Out of the Ordinary

I knew my life was a little out of the ordinary, but did not realize just how much until we spent Thanksgiving with my extended family in Arkansas.  I was helping clear the dishes, and asked if I could put the food scraps in the trash, since the garbage disposal was indisposed at the time.

My cousins' wives gave me polite-but-quizzical looks, clearly wondering why I would ask if I could throw away something that was obviously trash.  

That led me to explain, matter-of-factly at first: 

"You see, there's no trash service up in the mountains where we live, so we just take our own garbage to the landfill..." 

Their brows furrowed (politely of course; after all, they are Southern ladies). I got a bit rattled, but forged on:

"...which means we can't throw away food in the trash, because we have to store that trash for a while...''

They looked a bit askance. I rushed to explain why we store trash: 

"...and we have to make sure the trash won't attract the bears..."

By now, I could have been a little green woman, stepping off a space ship. I shrugged as I delivered the coup de grace:

" we just freeze it." 

All conversation stopped at that point.

It was uncomfortable.

Finally, someone broke the silence by bringing in more dirty plates.  I've never been so happy to see dirty plates.

It made me think about how unusual my life truly is.  I thought about it for the rest of our visit, wondering if my husband and I are truly, um, you know..."odd."  

Should we be more normal, and live where Trash Day comes once a week, and freezers contain only edible items?  Should we live where bears are a nice decorative theme, not a reality?

Then, we came home.  We arrived at night to a black sky swimming with stars I hadn't seen all week due to the street lights.  I stepped out into the mountain-fresh air, and heard no sound but the wind, after a week of listening to trains blast their warning horns at a nearby rail crossing, and C-130s drone overheard as they flew training missions out of a nearby airbase.  
No, I thought to myself, my life is NOT odd.  It's simply a bit out of the ordinary ~ you know, as in extraordinary.

This was our welcome-home committee the morning after we arrived home; please excuse the blurry shot ~ can you see all five mule deer bedded down just off our back patio?  They LOVE the buffet of freshly cut Ponderosa Pine branches!