Thursday, January 16, 2020

Seven Things Making Me Smile Right Now

Photo by Paul Mealey

1.  The first thing making me smile right now is Turbo, of course!  He's six months old now and is turning out to be great dog.  Loves people, loves other dogs, easy to train, and has a calm and confident temperament.  Too bad his guardians aren't the same!     

He is very cute.  People are always saying, "My, he is really cute," and all I can say back is  "Yes, he sure is!" And he really does respond to people.  I'm thinking he might do some work as a therapy dog when he is older since just seeing him prance towards them makes folks smile.  

Being a dog owner is hard work and takes a lot of time.  I think I'm outside with him about two hours a day, and then there are other disadvantages, as reflected in this little poster I found on Facebook.  

Luckily for me, I have Ben and Paul to help.  Ben enjoys Turbo, and Paul and Turbo are especially close as Paul not only helps train him but snuggles with him and generally hangs out with him.  

 2. The beauty around me.  The other day I realized that when we kept the shade open on the upstairs north facing window I'd see this view of the Sanitas mountains when I awake each morning.  What a great way to start the day.

3.  And then there was the full moon the other night.  One great side benefit to having a dog is that when you take them out at night to "do their business" you see the night sky.  I think otherwise I wouldn't have even known there was a full moon. 

4.  Diann over at  Little Penguin Quilts turned me onto the Virgin River book series by Robyn Carr and I've been enjoying it.  I guess they are romance novels, but there's more in them than sex, and even that is portrayed from a more feminist view than what I imagine most are.  I'm up to book 4 and am glad there are many more ahead of me.  (The Netflix series based on this one is good, but has a a very different plot. )

On her blog Diann also recommended Jennifer Robson's historical novel, The Gown, which I also enjoyed. 

5. I'm loving this Brighton wallet that my generous sister, Jean, sent me for Christmas. She said it reminded her of all the wonderful traveling we've done together, and, indeed, today when I got it out while grocery shopping -- have I ever told you how I really dislike grocery shopping?-- it cheered me up to have that reminder. 

6.  And speaking of traveling, I smile every time I think about how Ben and I are going to Maui soon!  Not only do I anticipate the pleasure of the trip, but I remember what a great time we had there in July of 2018 to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.  Since we'll be there in the winter this trip, we'll see the humpback whale migration, which should be cool.

7.  To end, I'd like to say a word of praise for clean sheets.  Ben is away ice climbing this week and both Sheba and I are missing him at night.  She's been given a heated blanket to sleep on since she doesn't  have Ben's chest to snuggle into. And I have clean sheets to make my night sweeter.   Not the same as having Ben there, but pretty good!

Linking to my friend LeeAnna's "I Like Thursdays" at Not Afraid of Color

Friday, January 3, 2020

Happy New Year!

 And now the holiday season is past and we welcome another new year.

We took down the Christmas tree yesterday, and I do mean "we."  I took down the ornaments and lights, Paul looped up the light strands into tidy bundles and secured them with Velcro ties,  Ben got the water out of the tree stand and I think both fellows dragged the tree out to the curb for pickup today.  I'm glad I missed those last few steps, as I always find it sad to see the once majestic tree de-decorated and dropping needles as it leaves the house.   

No white Christmas this year, but no one cared as we needed a break after the 20" of snow we got at Thanksgiving and which seemed to hang around forever in the cold and dark days of early December.  And there was plenty of snow up in the mountains, giving us lovely views of the snow covered high peaks. 

We had a lot of fun the past few weeks.  We ate good meals at home, at friend's houses, and at Boulder's excellent restaurants, and I gained four pounds which I hope to lose in the next couple of weeks.  The photo below was taken after a memorable meal at Blackbelly's, a place known for it's fine beef.  Martha, in the blue jacket, lives in Wyoming and had spent the past year in Boulder learning to be a Pilates instructor.  Before she left she wanted one more taste of Blackbelly's fabulous hamburgers.  We'd actually decided to go to an Italian place instead but when we got there found that it had closed, and had a "Goodbye Boulder" sign on the door.  We were a bit shocked and sad as it was a good place, until Martha quickly realized that this might be her chance to get that burger and proposed Blackbelly's.  We were lucky enough to get a table and had a great meal of burgers all around.  

On Christmas Eve Ben and Paul and I drove around to see the pretty light displays and then Ben and I had a late dinner at Frasca's, a special restaurant in town that was featuring a "Seven Fishes" tasting dinner, an Italian tradition.  We did, indeed, have seven small courses of creatively prepared dishes, each featuring a different fish.  The one shown in the photo below was one of the largest courses; this is the type of "important restaurant" with seriously gourmet food, and you don't go away stuffed.

You do go away relaxed and feeling well-tended, and pleasantly surprised and amazed at what can be done with great ingredients in the hands of talented chefs.  Ben and I both enjoyed the evening. 

Christmas Day was relaxing and fun with the three of us opening our presents and helping Turbo open his (he got a cool rope toy), followed by a pancake breakfast which we all ate together.  (That last detail is important to me since the three of us rarely sit down and eat together.  It's one of the best memories from a wonderful holiday season.)  Later Ray and Paula and Paula's mother and sister and our friend Dan came over for a Christmas dinner of a prime rib roast.  It was from Blackbelly's butcher shop and Ben cooked it perfectly, so it was amazing.  Since John and Dawn were visiting her family in Minnesota, I was especially grateful to celebrate the day with such good friends.  

On New Year's eve Paul played a gig downtown and Ben and I went up the hill to a party hosted by our friends Bob and Inger.  That was a fun time and after we watched the ball fall in New York, we went home to bed and slept till nine in the morning!  We'd been on the holiday express, chugging along for a few weeks of work (buying presents, cooking, decorating) and fun (friends, lights, music).  

 Now January is here and we're ready to crash for a bit.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

One Week to Christmas!

It's just one week to Christmas, which in my mind means it's time to par down the "to do" list and simplify!

A while back we got a few snowflake lights hung, just in time for the big Thanksgiving snow.  We added a wreath and that's it for this year.  It's not much but it makes me smile when I come home.

Last weekend we made a quick trip down to McGuckins, our local hardware store, and with very little fuss found a suitable tree.  We weren't sure how the tree would be received by our puppy and Sheeba, the rescue cat that came to live with us in the spring, so we let it sit in the living room a few days without any decorations.  They both seemed remarkably uninterested in it so we added lights.   But we only put on about half the usual ornaments, and you know what?  It's just fine. 

After all, we have so many great holiday lights and decorations to enjoy in downtown Boulder.

I spent about two weeks doing some holiday sewing and decorated the living room with a newly made wall hanging and a table runner.

The wall hanging was a kit, meaning that I bought a package created by Maywood Studio called "Most Wonderful Time Projects" and it came with all the instructions and fabric for the wall hanging.   I usually don't buy kits or even patterns, but I fell in love with the luscious thick flannel supplied with this one.   I liked it so much that I bought some extra fabric to make two more projects, a table runner for me and one for my wonderful sister, Jean.

Here's the wall hanging.

I did a lot of free motion quilting around the various motifs, which was just plain fun. 

For my runner I did some straight stitching with a cool variegated threat, which I loved on the black flannel. 

I didn't use a pattern for the runners but just put left over fabric pieces together.  The panel on Jean's runner was included in the kit, but I had to figure out how to border it so it would be the right size for her table.   

I had a lot of fun making these pieces and still have scraps leftover.  Yesterday I saw them and thought "It's not too late to make a little runner or mug rug."  But then I remembered it's only a week to Christmas and it is too late!  I'm not going to stress out this year, but just sit back and relax the next few days.  Well, and think about food.  We are making Christmas dinner and then doing a special meal on New Year's day.     

One reason I feel like we've done enough already and are ready for a calm week is that we had 13 new windows installed last week.  Our windows were thirty years old and not in good shape so it was time to replace them.  It was a slow process for the workmen since we had installed our new Hardiboard siding and trim last year and the trim had to be uninstalled, the windows carefully taken out, new windows put in and then the trim reinstalled once the windows were in.  Of course this meant nothing could be in front of the windows while the work was being done, so it wasn't a good time to get the tree or otherwise decorate.  But it's done now and the new windows are great.  Our workmen were nice and competent, but I was glad when we got our house back! 

Here's a before...    

And an after.  The double hung windows are gone, replaced with lovely casements which provide an unbroken expanse of glass and big openings which will be so great in the summers, since we have no a.c.  

Well, I'm almost done but I have to give a brief Turbo report. 

He is 5 1/2 months old now and is acting more grown up.   I'm already nostalgic for my little puppy, but I'm not missing that puppy biting!  

Here he is with his new friend Milo, sitting "like a proper dog," as Paul says.  It looks like Milo taught him, doesn't it?

He loves most other dogs and all people.  If we're walking and someone comes towards us on the sidewalk, Turbo wiggles all over with the anticipation of meeting a new friend.  If the person doesn't want to meet Turbo, he is one disappointed pup!

Here he is on a puppy play date with Delta, who lives up the street.  They mostly box and bite and roll around and have a great time; this was one brief moment of quiet.

Don't tell, but Turbo is getting a new dog bed for Christmas, having just about outgrown his little round one.

I'm all done Christmas shopping and am now ready to just enjoy the holiday lights, food, music, and, of course, seeing people I love.

I also like my annual hunt for a really good Christmas book.  Over the years I think I've read all the classics, but I keep trying to find something new that's good.  My latest try was Wrapped up in Christmas which read like a Hallmark movie, which made sense when I realized it was published by Hallmark.  I liked it for a while but lost interest and skipped ahead to the end.  Guess what? She got her man and he got his woman.  A quilt was involved which is why I read it in the first place, and it was okay, but not really good.  Nice cover, though!

Maybe I'll have better luck with Nancy Thayer's Nantucket Christmas.  If nothing else, it will be fun to read about Christmas in charming Nantucket!

Wishing everyone a relaxing and joyful holiday!

Linking to my friend LeeAnna's "I Like Thursdays" at Not Afraid of Color

Monday, December 2, 2019

On the Camera

This was the scene last Tuesday when we awoke to 15-20" of sugary snow that had fallen Monday afternoon into Tuesday morning.  The snow continued to fall lightly throughout the day and we ended up with 20.5 inches here in Boulder.  It was the kind of storm that shut down everything, even here where snow is fairly common.  

Turbo wondered how he was supposed to get to the bathroom, all the way past the patio and out into the yard, when the snow was as deep as the steps leading out that way.  Eventually we shoveled him some paths, but the first day was a bit challenging.  

And getting out for a walk was an adventure.  We were happy to find that some dogs had already broken the deep snow in the nearby cemetery. 

Ben worked most of the morning to shovel out the driveway and clean off his car so we could get out.  And where better to go then to drive the half mile up the snowy streets to Chautauqua park?  We drove as far as we could up into the park and then slowly hiked up towards the Flatirons, which looked striking after the storm.   It was such a treat to be up there in the fresh snow and without very many people around.  

Turbo led the way back down, bouncing and jumping in the snow and occasionally turning back to  check up on us.   

On Wednesday my friend Lotus and I braved the snow to get down to Denver to see "Claude Monet; The Truth of Nature" exhibition.  It's a temporary exhibit for which you need advance tickets and we weren't giving up our chance to see it.  Luckily for me, Lotus is an excellent driver with lots of experience in the snow,  and got us downtown  and back without any trouble.  The show had many lovely works, including a painting of the bridge at his garden in Giverny.    

I loved this later work which also shows the bridge.  I didn't realize Monet did abstracts!

On Thanksgiving we went to Longmont and visited with Ben's brother and his wife and family, as well as their good friends who had flown in from Virginia for the holiday.  It was fun and Dawn's cooking was delicious.

 And on Friday John and Dawn were kind enough to include us when they took their friends to dinner at the Flagstaff House.  It's always a treat to be up there, looking down at the city lights as you eat, and especially special when you're with family and friends. 

And now suddenly it's December and we have a nice couple of sunny warm days ahead, perfect for getting all this snow melted.  As much as I love big snowstorms, the aftermath does get tiring and I'm looking forward to walking without dodging snow and ice!

Christmas preparations are beginning, with mysterious packages arriving at the house and plans to put up a tree this coming weekend.   We had a White Thanksgiving, but will we have a White Christmas?