Sunday, August 30, 2009

reaching the summit

I got a phone call this afternoon from Dan and Bob (DS and DH). They were on their way back to the campground after standing atop Long's Peak (pictured above) in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado this morning! I am so happy that they made it up and down safely and before the weather turned bad. They hit the trail at 1:15 AM and there were other hikers ahead of them. Seems a little extreme, but has proven to be the smart way to conquer this mountain. It is a strenuous climb, with some treacherous paths, and a milestone to complete. Bob has done it before, a few years ago with my dad (who must have been in his 70's at the time) and then another attempt with Brita (DD) a couple years ago. That trip resulted in turning back due to bad weather, and there's an interesting story that goes along with it. Bob and Brita had gone a major portion of the way and were resting in a little hikers' hut, taking shelter out of the cold wind. No hikers were going beyond that point, and other people that had reached the top had descended below them. There were 2 other guys in the shelter, and Bob and Brita wanted to record their own accomplishment on film for posterity, so they asked the guys to please take their picture together with the peak in the background. Imagine their surprise when they declined! Turns out they were Amish and their religion forbids taking pictures (something to do with false images, I guess). What a weird moment--the only people on the mountain to snap the picture and they couldn't!
I had totally planned to spend the day sewing and quilting, but instead have been cooking. Zucchini bread because we have a bunch from the garden but it only used up 1 zuke. Spaghetti sauce because I have a lot of basil in the garden but it only used up 1/10th of what's out there. Meatballs to go with the spaghetti. Chicken stuffing hotdish. Beef roast in the crock pot. Lots of dirty dishes! Some of this is going into the freezer, some going to friends. Since I'm home alone for a few days there's not a lot that will get eaten here. But it's fun to indulge in a cooking fest once in a while.
Now maybe I can sneak in a bit of quilting before it's too late to focus!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

several things

How's that song go? "We are the champions, we are the champions" or something like that! Yes, Bob played a tough round of golf Sunday, went into overtime, and came home with a big grin on his face! That's my guy!
This followed a perfect cabin weekend on Potato Lake (near Chetek, WI) with friends Bob and Debbie. Bonfire with s'mores, pontooning and fishing, reading, knitting, sitting by the lake, golfing, paddleboating, lots of laughs and plenty of good food. Just a couple highlights:
Also did a little nature study:
The spider was identified as a Nursery Web spider and it was larger than the ordinary spider but no one wanted to get close enough to stick their hand in the picture for some perspective. I'm guessing it was about 4-5" across the legs. Sitting on a nest of eggs, which is what really has Debbie creeped out because that means there will be more! Not sure what the mushroom is, but it sure was a bright yellow on top.
Brita's bridal shower platter is done just in time for Bob to take it with him on his drive out to CA. He leaves tomorrow for Colorado, spending time in Estes Park with Danny and planning to climb Long's Peak together. Then to Mammoth Lakes for a couple days with Dan before going to San Francisco where we will meet up for nephew Scott's wedding. Fun things happening!

Friday, August 21, 2009


What a great 4-letter word!

Finished up this Marilee quilt this morning, and I love these fabrics! Batiks are always nice to work with, and these rich colors make it a double delight! The pattern is Between Friends from the Terry Atkinson book Happy Hour. The quilting design is a pantogram called Splash from Willow Leaf Studio. Now my next quilt to do is coincidentally the same pattern on a smaller scale! And Christmas fabrics:
Otherwise, the update here this morning is that it isn't raining! The sun is shining, so I got my 3 mile walk/run done, picked the garden, and am working on packing up stuff for a weekend away at Bob and Debbie's cabin in WI. We have been trying all summer to find a time when we could go there, and here it is the end of August and this is the first chance we've had. And we always have such a fun time there, so we didn't want to let the opportunity escape even though there were challenges to working it out! We do need to get back in time for Bob to make his scheduled round of golf Sunday afternoon, it had to be postponed due to bad weather this week. Bob sure loves his golfing, he is in a weekly league and rarely misses those nights. This particular game will be the finals of the league match play, which started out with 64 golfers competing and now down to 2! Maybe I should go along to caddy for him! With my lack of golfing skill and knowledge, I'm afraid I would be more of a hindrance than a help. But I can definitely show up for the celebration when he wins!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

pick up the paintbrush!

This picture should be labeled "Before", since it will be changing over the next few days into a finished serving platter for Brita and Ben. Let me explain--at Saturday's bridal shower, I brought along an unpainted pottery platter and all the guests (well, anybody who chose to participate) contributed a squiggle or a flower or initials in one of the squares. This morning I took it back to the Paint Pot in Plymouth and finished up by painting over the drawn lines. Now it will be glazed and fired and transformed into a wonderful memento with some practical use. It was a fun project for the shower guests and something for Brita to always remember. The Paint Pot was a great little shop and workspace, giving me the tips and advice and paints that I needed to make this project successful. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The witches are flying

The witchy ladies are flying on out of here--finally! This quilt isn't huge but sure seemed to stretch on for a long time due to many interruptions. Of course, the interruptions were for some very fun and important things, like weekends away and visits from kids and wedding showers! So here is the quilt:

And here is a glimpse at the shower:
Brita and Molly, who hosted the shower and is the Maid of Honor
Grandma Sally, Aunt Ruth and Grandma Ruth
It was nice enough to enjoy the backyard, which was gorgeous with all the flowers planted there. Even though it was a very hot and muggy weekend, we needed the outdoor space to have all the guests seated for brunch. This was a combined group of high school friends, college friends and family from all over, all together in one smashing party for Brita. I was amazed at all the beautiful and generous gifts that were shared, what a testament to the love and support for Ben and Brita as they build their life together. Thank you so much to Molly, Katie, Barb and all the others who helped out, I really appreciate all the time and effort. The shower was followed by a night out in Minneapolis for the bride and 6 bridesmaids, of which no pictures will be shared! I did accompany them for awhile to serve as photographer and cheerleader, but I have no idea of what happened after I excused myself about 6:00 and that's the way it should be! They are a fantastic group of friends and truly wonderful people, all living positive and productive lives. Can it get any better than that??!! Oh wait, yes, I get to see them all again in October!

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm his #1 fan!

Just got done listening to my amazing son, Dan, speaking on Sirius radio! He was interviewed by a talkshow radio host on the Martha Stewart radio network during a segment about festivals. Each Friday they talk to someone around the country about a local festival, and Dan was promoting the Mammoth Festival that is happening this weekend. I have to say that I think he did a good job of thinking on the fly to come up with the best responses to the host's questions in an accurate and understandable way. I don't normally listen to Sirius but Dan tipped me that I could get a free trial so I signed up for that in order to catch his talkshow experience. Now I just wish I could go to the festival! Wine, food, music, art and mountains--how good can it get?!
As I'm listening, I'm cooking berries and it smells delicious! I am preparing them for the sangria that I will be serving tomorrow at the bridal shower brunch for Brita, a very special event for us! Brita and Ben are "home" this weekend for golf and girlfriends. Ben is enjoying an annual tournament of friends, 24 golfers from all around the country that flock back to St. Paul/Minneapolis to enjoy the heat and humidity. Since Tiger Woods and other greats are also in the area for the PGA tournament, maybe they should plan a little get-together? Sounds like Ben had a good showing yesterday, maybe he could pass along a few tips to Tiger to help him get his game on! As for the girlfriends part of the weekend, Brita is going to be the recipient of showers of happiness followed by a night out on the town with her bridesmaids-to-be. Molly, marvelous maid of honor, is hosting the brunch at her cute house in St. Paul. I am trying to help out by bringing an adult beverage, a concoction that I have been developing. This stems from a white wine sangria I tasted last spring which has now been modified and named the Minnesota Mixer. Want to sample it for yourself? Here's what you do:
Mix 3 parts chardonnay, 1 part gin, 1 part mixed berry puree, 1 part 7up or sprite, and 1/2 part simple syrup. Pour over ice and enjoy! I am using the frozen assorted berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.) and cooking them a little to get them softened. Then I puree them in the food processor and then through a strainer to eliminate the seeds. A little bit of work, but worth not having seeds stuck in my teeth!
Hope you are enjoying this fine summer day! I would like to be quilting but need to finish up these berries, take my car to the mechanic to see if they can tell me why the carpet is soaking wet, and then take Bob shopping for new dress-up clothes. Maybe tomorrow I'll get back to the witches!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What's on the frame today

It's been a little witchy around here lately as I am having some fun quilting up these broom-riding babes. Witchy Woman Nancy pieced this quilt from the Buggy Barn book "Frightfully Crazy". Very clever construction and legs that dangle! Lots of homespun plaids mixed with other appropriate purple, black, grey and green fabrics. Should have it done before too long and I think it might show up on the Bear Patch fall class schedule.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The fruits of Bob's labors

A shift has occurred in our gardening habits at the Hansen house over the past few years. Used to be I was the gardener, couldn't resist getting into the dirt. Bob was my go-to guy for the heavy work part of the gardening, lifting and toting, fetching and hauling. Gradually, I have become less enchanted with the garden work, although still drawn in by the need to get my hands dirty now and then. Maybe it was the recurrent end-of-the-summer feeling of having had enough of the picking and weeding that just wasn't fun anymore, and no one else seemed to care if they had fresh green beans for dinner or not. But Bob has stepped up his game and taken charge of the vegetable gardening (hallelujah!) and doing a fine job! This morning I have been taking care of tasks at home on this fine summer day, can't resist showing you:
Zucchini and green beans picked
cherry tomatoes starting to ripen
basil awaiting the transformation to yummy pesto and a little acorn squash
We still get some nocturnal visits from neighborhood deer, we never see the critters but they like to nibble the tops off the green beans. Deer repellent works as long as someone remembers to put it on now and then. But all in all, we are having a good summer for produce in the back yard!
I made 2 batches of pesto last night, one using the traditional pine nuts and the other with walnuts so we can do a comparison. I just made a yummy bowl of pasta for lunch using rotini, tomatoes and calamata olives with a heaping spoonful of the pine nut pesto. Here's my pesto concoction: 4 c. packed fresh basil leaves, 3 T. toasted pine nuts (or walnuts), 3 tsp. minced garlic, 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese and 1/2 c. olive oil. Put it all in the food processor and let it chop until there are no chunks left. I plan to make some to freeze, but for now I just put it in a plastic container (with plastic wrap pressed down to the surface to slow down the oxidation that makes it turn darker color) and have it refrigerated.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The beans are always greener on the other side of the fence

One of the prettiest sights I can imagine is the rows of beans and corn spreading across the acres of lush farmland. The heartland. The nation's breadbasket. Home sweet home. Even though I love the lakes, the mountains, the coast, I consider myself lucky to have come from the rich black dirt of northwest Iowa. My dad asked me if I remember when he used to pull me and my sister, Jan, in a little red wagon tied with a rope behind the tractor as he cultivated the fields. I absolutely have no memory of this, my explanation is that I must have had a head injury from bouncing around in the wagon! Or maybe the head injury was incurred during all those years before seat belts existed! Or when we rigged up a trapeze with a metal pipe and baling twine in the haymow, until it collapsed with a direct hit on the head? Or when we dug tunnels into the snowpiles, ready to cave in when the temperature warmed? It's a miracle any of us survived!