February 2009


Sorry!!!

No SkyWatch

or

My World

(or anything else)

posts until I get caught up. I will be visiting you, but there will be nothing here to see for a little while.

For my regular readers, there is a more detailed explanation in the post below.

For everyone, go visit SkyWatch and My World to see incredible and beautiful skies as well as intriuging and interesting places from all over the world. You will not be sorry!

In my last pseudo-post I said I wouldn’t be posting because I was so far behind.

Well, this is a post, and I am still behind (and I am even going to do another immediately after I finish this one), but I am going to explain some things.

First, last Monday I was not “gone on holiday,” it WAS a holiday. President’s Day to be exact.  That meant there was no school and I took Chic and Chicklet to an indoor jumping place with some old friends who we almost never see anymore since Chic (and the friend) started school in 2007.  I was just out for the day, not gone to some exotic location. Sorry to disappoint. The only pictures from that probably will not make it to my blog. I have not even uploaded them to the computer yet.

So my point here is to say that I will not be posting for an undetermined amount of time. (The next post will tell you that I will not even be doing the two weekly memes in which I always participate.) My reasons here are nothing more than I am behind and cannot catch up. I got behind in reading blogs when I visited my family in Missouri mid-October of last year. I have not been caught up since. NOT. ONE. TIME. Once or twice I maybe have gotten my reader into the 300′s, but it has been over 1000 countless times, and I am sure over 3000 at one point. Right now it is at about 700, and today is SkyWatch which takes up more than a little of my time.  If I post a photo for it, it will take up a lot more time. So I am not going to. I am not posting anything until I catch up. I have decided that I never WILL catch up if I continue posting, and I am tired of not reciprocating your kind visits as much as I would like.

I have plenty to say, and things I want to say, but my somewhat OCD personality needs me to catch up first–to see what you have to say and show before I keep putting my own things out there. And I learn more from your posts than I do my own anyway. It is sort of like talking. I have always said (and drill into my children and TRY to instill in my art students) that one learns much more when his mouth is shut than when it is open. I learn much more when visiting you than creating my own posts.

I do not know how long I will be “gone.” I hope not too long, but I really have no idea. Thank you for your continued visits, and now I WILL get to you soon… REALLY!

I leave with you with a photo of my New Mexican sky as seen from my bedroom window last week. I’ll see you soon–just  not here for a little while.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

Sorry, no

post today. I’m behind. It’s a holiday. I’m not even home. I will be visiting other My World posts and trying to catch up in my reader later, but I am just too behind to do a post right now.

However, for some interesting tours around the world, go to the My World blog and check out other posts!

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When Prince Charming and I first started dating, he had some difficulty with me in the department of gift-giving.  I personally believe I am relatively easy to please (and do not expect gifts in the first place), but to  him, I was an alien creature.

The first thing is flowers. Let me state for the record LOUD AND CLEAR that I do not MIND red roses. If anyone is in a mind to get me anything–no matter what it is, I am elated at the mere thought of it, grateful and appreciative. However, if the gift is flowers, I prefer something besides red roses. My reason for this is that red roses can be common. Every male knows about buying red roses.  I have always been a little “different” (as those who  know me in real life can affirm) and liked to be different, so why should flowers be any different for me? Red roses are beautiful, but peach roses, orange and yellow roses, white roses with red tips, anything else besides red is less common. Less common means I like them  more. And although I love roses, I am quite as happy with other flowers like unusual mums, giant sunflowers (my favorites), tulips or anything that is not quite so common. And if it is clear that the male in my life (which has been Prince Charming for almost 12 years) put some serious thought into it, my heart is completely stolen.

img_0461sunflowersThis was an adjustment for Prince Charming because being a thoughtful guy, he had given the flowers some thought and had decided that all women want red roses all the time. He was educated that I am not “all women” and that also, most women might appreciate some variety once in a while. In this he has been a brilliant student.

(Please do not leave me nasty comments about how I should appreciate any gift. I do. I appreciate all gifts. I appreciate gifts I loathe because someone thought enough of me to give a gift.  I just see nothing wrong with educating my husband (or intended husband, as it was) about my preferences. He was grateful.)

Next was jewelry. Apparently one of the easiest gifts for men to give women is jewelry; it is a sure-fire hit every time. The problem here is that I do not wear jewelry. None. Not the tiniest little thing. (I will admit to wearing an engagement and wedding ring for a few years, but neither of us wear them anymore. And I will also say that when he was shopping for engagement rings, I assured him I did not want a diamond because everyone has a diamond. We did see some brown diamonds I liked, but I wound up with an alexandrite, which I loved because it was quite rare. The expense of rarity was not important to me, but the  having something different was.) So Prince Charming was at a loss when we first started dating. No red roses, no jewelry. But he was up for the task!

Prince Charming became personal friends with the sales people at Bath and Body Works because I love bath stuff and candles and great scents. I still get gifts from there occasionally–quite enough to keep my Friday Night Bath scented and varied. But my “difference” has presented him with the opportunity to show how wonderful and creative he is, which he did yet again this Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day can be another problem because I am the accountant in this household. I know how much flowers cost on Valentine’s Day, and I think it is preposterous to pay that much for them. I have at times gotten grand bouquets the week after because he SO wants to get me flowers (as he is also personal friends with a local florist), but it is definitely taboo to get me flowers for the holiday.

So Friday I was wondering what he would do. It would be fine with me (really, it would) if he did nothing, but he is the romantic, and he will always do something.

He arrived home from work bearing the above-seen pie. I genuinely squealed. One of my favorite desserts is Key Lime Pie, and I had some when I was in Orlando last month and have been hankering to have it ever since. Was that not a terribly creative gift for someone like me?!

Yesterday morning I got a beautiful card and some wonderful chocolates as well (including Godiva), but the hit for me was really the Key Lime Pie. And the best part? My girls are not that enthused with it. That means it is all for Prince Charming and me. And he is at a meeting this morning, so that is what I am having for breakfast.

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I hope all of you had Valentine’s Days as wonderful as mine! (And I hope to have time to get to at least a few blogs today to find out about it!)

It is cold here. Extremely cold. It was 12 (F) when I got up yesterday. OK, it is not as cold as some of you have it, but my house is cold inside. COLD. (Note: That was the outdoor temperature. Inside it slightly warmer!)

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

Because our elevation is around 5000 feet, our heat depends on sun. Thank goodness we have a lot of it–310 days a year. However, this week has been short on sun. Tuesday was a day with mixed snow and sun. There were large snow squalls all day. Toward the end of the day I thought it was actually going to get busy and snow, but three minutes later the sun was shining.  (I am not sure what made me so delusional. Probably wishful thinking about the possibility of no school on Wednesday–”art day.”)

The first photo is one I took on the way to an appointment. I loved seeing part of the city obscured in a snow storm while it was perfectly clear where I was. When I left, however, I drove about 500 feet and got in a mini blizzard myself.

The next photo shows how hard the pellets (yes, usually they were pellets, not flakes) were coming down at times. If these episodes had lasted more than a few minutes, we would have been buried!

click photo to enlarge and see snow detail better

click photo to enlarge and see snow detail better

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

This week I am taking a break from Orlando, but I will go back for at least one more week in the future.

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A couple of weeks ago my daughter’s 1st and 2nd grade class went on a field trip to Explora!, the children’s museum in town.

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This is the only children’s museum I have visited (though my girls have gone to ones in other cities in the summer when we travel), so I do not have much to which to compare it, but from what I can see, it is a pretty good museum.

There are buttons available all around this for children to control what is happening with the water.

There are buttons available all around this for children to control what is happening with the water.

There are lots of exhibits on different topics like water, electricity, etc. There are areas specifically designed for certain age groups, even babies. It is clean, and the staff is extremely friendly and patient (more so than I would be if dealing with unruly kids all day every day), and it is just downright fun.

I wonder if being a science teacher is more fun than being an art teacher.

I wonder if being a science teacher is more fun than being an art teacher.

Since it was a field trip, our agenda was a bit different than just an ordinary visit, but it was really a lot of fun. We spent an hour in a class (about magnets–a whole hour of experimenting with magnets!) and an hour in the rest of the museum. An hour is not really long enough to cover the rest of the museum (But it is long enough for Chicklet to disappear for 15 minutes. I never even found her; someone else did.), but we still had a nice time.

The kids could not believe they could make the magnets do this themselves.

The kids could not believe they could make the magnets do this themselves.

I had 4 kids in my car, including my own 2. They were amazingly well-behaved and did not get on my nerves at all. (Except for disappearing Chicklet.)

I had 4 kids in my car, including my own 2.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

Potato-Leek Soup in Bread Bowls

Potato-Leek Soup in Bread Bowls

During the winter months, we always have soup and bread on Friday night.  This tradition began when we moved to New Mexico, I became a stay-at-home mom and actually began regular cooking again. (In Missouri Prince Charming was in graduate school while I worked full-time. He did a lot of the “cooking” then.)

Friday nights are quiet at our house. Sabbath begins at sundown, and the pace changes. It is my favorite time of the week. Probably the entire 24 hours until sundown on Saturday night is my favorite period of the week, but Friday night is especially slow and quiet–a true blessing. (And it is host to the bath.)

Because Friday nights are special, I like to make something special for dinner. It cannot be complicated, however, because I also do the cooking for the next day on Friday as well. There just is not enough time to prepare two elaborate meals.  So Friday night dinners are simple, but special. That is how the soup and bread tradition came about.  All of us love both. If there is not the scent of bread baking in our house on Friday, something is wrong. (Or it is summer, but I usually bake some type of bread then anyway).

Last Friday night I made one of Prince Charming’s favorite soups. I tell you this because it was sort of for his birthday, which was at the beginning of January. Poor guy! If there is anything worse than having a birthday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is having one just after Christmas. He always gets the shaft. At the end of November and beginning of December, I had a whole slough of birthdays which got their own blog posts. Did Prince Charming? No! And it had nothing to do with him, but everything to do with when it was.  He did not even get his favorite meal until three weeks after his birthday. So I threw in the soup as a bonus later the same week.

So, without further rambling, here are the recipes:

Potato Leek Soup in Bread Bowls

4 lg potatoes, peeled and diced

4 large leeks, sliced

8 c chicken broth

1 tsp salt

1/2 c cream

pepper (optional–I never opt for pepper, but I know a lot of people use it in everything, and it was part of the original recipe)

Bread Bowls: Bowl-size round loaves, unsliced (4-6, depending on how many people you are serving), 2-3 cloves crushed garlic, 4-6 tsp olive oil, 4-6 T graded Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, combine potatoes, leeks, broth, salt and pepper if desired. Heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce to medium-low, cover and simer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile make bread bowls (recipe below for Italian bread which we love, but you can purchase them ready-made, or you can just serve it with bread on the side): Cut top off of loaves. Hollow out bowls leaving 3/4″. (Reserve leftover bread for croutons or bread crumbs). Rub inside of bread with garlic, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with cheese. Place hollowed out loaves and “lids” on baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit over for 10 minutes.

Puree soup in batches in a blender or use a hand-blender. (If you don’t have a hand blender and make soup, get one!) Stir in cream. Heat through.

Spoon hot soup into bread bowls and top with parsley as a garnish if desired. Makes 6 servings (with some leftovers for lunch next week!)

Italian Bread

(This is our favorite non-flavored bread. I do not make it all the time because it takes a long time, but I have figured out when to start it so that the first rising is while I pick up Chic from school since she gets out at 12:30 on Fridays.)

2-1/2 c warm water (115 degrees F)

2 T active dry yeast (or 2 packets is OK)

8 c all-purpose flour

1 T salt

1 egg white

1 T water

Optional: Butter and cornmeal to put on baking sheet before baking bread

Note: I do this in a Kitchen Aid mixer on Speed 2 with a dough hook. The original directions were not for that; if you do not use a mixer for bread, I am sure you will know how to convert this. And if you use a bread machine, I am sure you can figure that out, too.

Pour warm water into warm mixing bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in 2 cups of flour. Beat well. Add salt and gradually beat in all but 2 cups of the flour. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Continue mixing gradually adding as much flour as needed. (In my dry, high altitude setting, I can usually add another 1-1/4 – 1-1/2 cups.) Continue kneading for 3-5 minutes after last flour is added. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover with wax paper, then a damp dish cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down and let rise to double again, about an hour.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and form small, round loaves (for bowls) or longer loaves (10-12″ long). (Since there are 4 of us, when I make this soup, I make 4 bowls with half of the dough and a long loaf with the other half of the dough. Otherwise I make two long loaves.)  Place loaves on baking sheets that have been buttered and sprinkled with corn meal (if desired, I never do this anymore). Add 1 Tbls water to egg white and brush top and sides of loaves. To cover, prop up dish towel around and over loaves using glasses OR make a reusable cover by lining the inside of an appropriately-sized box with aluminum foil and storing in a plastic bag to keep clean. (I have to let my bread rise in the oven with a dish of water because of the lack of humidty in this region. Propping up a dish towel with glasses is not feasible for me, so I made the box as described. It works fine. I use it for some of my other bread recipes as well.) Let rise until doubled. I check it after 45-50 minutes which is usually enough, but sometimes it takes longer, depending on how warm the oven has remained.

Place a shallow pan on the bottom rack of the oven; fill with boiling water. Bake loaves in center of oven preheated to 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. Remove and brush with egg white mixture again. Continue baking for 20 mintues longer, or until well-browned and done.

The bread can seem a bit intimidating because of all the steps, but it is really no worse than any other yeast bread if you plan the rising times when you can be doing other things. However, it is not something you can decide late in the day to have for dinner. If you do not eat the extra loave(s), your neighbors will LOVE you if you give a loaf to them, and it freezes splendidly.

Recipe  Credits:  Soup–Glamour Magazine, about 25 years ago. Bread–not sure.

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