Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Candy gone, house intact

Happy Halloween!

Every year I swear that the next year I am going to buy my Halloween pumpkin early. And every year I don't. Suddenly it's Oct. 30, I'm leaving work at 10 p.m., and oh shit, I have to get a pumpkin! Last year I had to go to three grocery stores before I found one crummy small one. This year, I pulled up in front of Safeway, and lo and behold, there was one, single, large pumpkin sitting in the middle of the pumpkin pallet.

Could I be that lucky? Well, sort of. The top of the pumpkin had rotted and the stem had fallen inside. Ew. I did a quick turn around the inside of the store. No pumpkins. Oh heck. Went back out. OK, just the top is rotted. The rest is solid. Can I work with this? Yes, of course I can. Carted the rotted pumpkin in. "Can I get a discount?" They just waved me off. Take it! Take it! Cool. Free pumpkin. Free rotted pumpkin, yes, but sometimes you just have to be thankful for what you've got.

And what did I get? A darn fine pumpkin, as it turns out. Cut off the gooshy bits at the top, cleaned out the inside (not rotted), and carved away. Decided that a bandanna would work to cover the hole, so ... pirate! Less tricky eye carving that way. I secured the patch with my nail gun.

Stuffed a bunch of lights inside, put it on the porch with candy and called it a day.
At my old house I never had trouble leaving candy out for the kidlets while I was at work; there was always a little left when I came home. We'll see what it's like here.

(Update: Success!)

The most creative dog costume I've ever seen

I'm generally not in favor of doggy dress-up (probably because Sophie hates it so), but:
Absolute brilliance, courtesy of Cute Overload.

I'm working on my pumpkin! Pictures later.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Check your trees

As the leaves come off the trees, secrets are revealed. This wasp nest is bigger than a basketball, and will have residents again next year if it's not taken down.

Happily, it's several blocks away from my house, so not my problem. If I see the homeowners, I will point it out to them.

This is also why you want to make sure any bare wood on your house is painted. The wasps will actually gnaw wood to make the pulp for their nests. I discovered that on my old house, and had to have some piece of trim replaced. A coat of primer will protect the wood from both wasps and the elements.

Pascal's progress

Once again, here's a picture of the downstairs bathroom, with the lovely cast-iron clawfoot tub. The tub is original to the house, I believe. The previous owners had it re-porcelained, so it is perfectly white and smooth.

But I have been afraid to use it because the inspector pointed out that one of the floor joists beneath the bathroom had been cut through, and another had been notched.

Pascal to the rescue! He managed to get into the crawl space – no small feat, as it's quite a tight opening, about five feet off the floor of the basement – and build a sturdy framework. See that pipe? That's the gas line. If the tub had crashed through the floor, it could very well have blown up the house.
Meanwhile, the bookcases are also progressing. Here are the kitchen shelves. Notice the smaller cabinet door above the broom closet. Pascal rebuilt it with new trim and stained it to match. The ceiling molding is in now, too. There are little triangular shelves that will go in on the right to tie the shelves in to the angled wall. (You can click on the Books tag at the end of this post to see what the space looked like before.)

He's also started on the shelves in the upstairs hallway. (I forgot to take a "before" photo, whoops.) There will also be a shelf over the bathroom door, and he'll run the trim up the ceiling part of that triangle on the end so it looks like the space there is part of the shelves (which it will be).

Once the hall is done, on to the Safari Room. When all the shelves are in, he'll paint everything. Then there's the wainscoting for the guest room and retrimming some oddball woodwork in the living room.

I'm glad I'm able to get all this work done now, as he told me he's planning to move back to France in another year or so.

Mom suggested shackles.

Monday, October 29, 2007


This is Amy. Contrary to her sign, she is not a crone. Nor is she olde. But like her soaps, she is bewitching! Especially with her very fetching witch's hat.
Amy makes fabulous soaps using all-natural ingredients. They smell heavenly, of lavender, honey, mint, lemon. Some are for skin, some for hair, some for the kitchen, some for guys ... plus she offers other body luxuries such as lip balm, sugar scrubs and deep conditioner for your hair.
I bought this lavender mint shampoo soap about a month ago. I wanted to use it for a while (and get a photo of Amy) before I posted about it. I was skeptical about its lathering abilities (shampoo in bar form? really?) but it lathers up very nicely, and it's got a very soothing but not overpowering lavender mint scent. It smells very fresh and not perfume-y at all.

It leaves my hair feeling very clean, and I notice that my hair doesn't get as frizzy as fast as when I use ordinary shampoo.

I was just browsing through Amy's website and noticing all the different products she offers (I was too distracted at the farmers market today, the last one of the season). Luckily, she takes online orders, too!

If you're looking to pamper yourself or someone else (the holidays are coming!) check out

(Oh, and props to Amy for having a well-designed website that is simple yet attractive, easy to navigate and gives you all the information you need plus some good laughs. It's amazing how rare such a site is these days.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

More fashion plates

We were supposed to dress as something scary.
Bride of Frankentstein, check. Skeletons, check.
Dead undertaker-type, check.
And then my offering, which frightened everybody: "Damn kids! Get off my lawn!" Haaaackhackcoughcough hack. "Listen, honey, let me give you some advice ... " hack coughcough

I was runner-up to the Bride of Frankenstein for creepiest costume.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The new pretty

I love to check out the fashion blogs, though I am far from a fashion plate myself. Go Fug Yourself is a favorite for snarkiness, and the Sartorialist for the beautiful photos of fashion on the street around the world.

I'm not about to start blogging fashion myself, but couldn't resist getting a shot of this cute outfit on Megan, who works in lingerie at the new Nordstrom. She reminded me a lot of Sandra Bullock, very perky and personable, and was able to pull off the leg warmers where few people could. She was very helpful, too, and helped Mom find some things she liked. Well-played, Megan!

Friday, October 26, 2007


Dinner par-tay, that is. Good food, good company. Mom did all the work.

OK, I helped a little.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Treats and disappointments

If you ever need to get your nails done in Denver, I highly recommend Fifth Avenue Nails, on Third Avenue (go figure) in Cherry Creek. They do a great job, the prices are good, and the place is spotless. My favorite part is the neck and shoulder massage you get while your nails are drying. I treat myself to a pedicure there every couple of months. One interesting note: all the women who work there are Mongolian. Turns out there's quite a sizable Mongolian population in Denver.

Another "treat" today, a purple-frosted cupcake in honor of the Rockies. Who, I'm sorry to say, are blowing it in Boston. Darned Socks!

Even the City and County Building is all gussied up in Rockies purple, such a pretty color (and much better than my college team's harvest gold, which I just couldn't wear without looking completely jaundiced. Because, you know, it's all about me):

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


My aunt's house-remodeling project led Aunt, Mom and me this morning to the Children's Hospital resale shop, La Cache, before we had lunch with my cousin. La Cache sells high-end, estate-sale-type stuff, much of which is quite droolworthy.

I wonder who will take these crazy chairs, of which there were at least 10. In the right space, I suspect they might be fabulous. In the wrong space, horrid.

This celluloid dresser set was quite pretty.
But at $150, admiring it was all I planned to do.

I found something else to admire that was also way more than I was willing to pay, especially for something so tiny. That's my pinkie in the picture, for scale:
I may go back in a few weeks to see if it's still there, since they drop the price 20 percent every two weeks. I have a really fabulous poodle pin that my honey gave me, so I don't feel too jones-y about this one. But it does fall within the parameters of acceptable poodle kitsch.

See, I don't want to be one of "those people." You know, the ones whose houses are overwhelmed by every possible permutation of their favorite thing, tasteful or crappy. You like Strawberry Shortcake? Great! Get some nice framed prints and maybe a pair of pajamas. Don't upholster your couch with Strawberry Shortcake fabric, make curtains of same and cover every horizontal surface with figurines.

Pajamas, cute. Curtains, scary.

(And yes, Strawberry Shortcake pajamas frighten me, too. I'm just using it as an example since I don't know anyone who is even remotely obsessed with Strawberry Shortcake. If you are, and I've offended you, please seek help.)

So anyway, I tread carefully with poodle-themed stuff. And my friends know that just because something has a poodle on it doesn't mean it's The Perfect Gift. A pin, a magnet, a handbag, a handy ruler ... that's about the extent of it.

I don't object, however, when friends send me poodle-related stuff like this:

Clydesdale masquerades as poodle
for Halloween.

Doberman hides from The Law
in poodle disguise.
Thanks, friends! With love from me, the not-so-crazy Poodle Lady.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, shopping. Then lunch:
Cava Greens offers "custom hand-tossed salads." The salad was good, but kind of pricey, and they serve it in the big aluminum bowl it's tossed in, which is awkward to eat from. What's the deal with these salad places? I know of at least three different mini-chains that specialize in the "create your own" thing. I like the salads, but I wonder how they can all stay in business.

Photos sooner

Well, photos later of Mom's paintings, the bookcase and such. But I had these on the camera already.

This is the view from my bedroom window. I love to open the shade in the morning and gaze out for a minute. It may not look like much here, because the camera just can't capture the sweep of the sky and the clarity of the mountains. Happily, digital zoom plus cropping and enlarging and sharpening gives a slightly better idea (click on the photo below to see it larger in all its glory):
That snow is right where it belongs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Busy, busy

Having Mom here is keeping me off the computer. We spent the morning pulling out a bunch of her paintings that were boxed up 10 years ago when she moved out of the house I grew up in. (A moving truck came out here with all sorts of furniture and stuff.)

We found some good ones, and walked around the house figuring out where to hang them.

Pascal was here to work on the kitchen bookcase some more and measure for the ones in the upstairs hall.

I baked a loaf of bread and made corned-beef hash. Then I had to get to work.

Photos later when I have the time!


Hazy, blown-up shot through the dining room window. Just because.

Monday, October 22, 2007


The Colorado Rockies' ticket website crashed, and only a few hundred tickets for the World Series were sold before they suspended sales.

Helllloooooo. What did they think was going to happen?

Please hold ...

The World Series is coming to Denver!

But the tickets are available only online, starting at 10 this morning. I can't get into the site because it's "experiencing heavy loads at this time." Gee, ya think?

It won't kill me not to get tickets, but it sure would be fun to go. I feel sorry for the die-hard fans who are tearing their hair out right now.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Out in it

Didn't get to the farmers market until 11 or so, and found out there had been a few vendors there, but only one was left. (Apples. We got some.)

I feel sorry I missed the Amy the Soap Crone! Next week is the last farmers market for the season, so it had better be nice out. Or else. (Shaking fist at sky.)

Yesterday's high: 81 degrees. Today: 39.

Holy cow!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ramen with No Reservations

Mom has not been to Oshima Ramen before, and since were going to a movie right next door, it was the logical option tonight. I had the hot and spicy ramen with kimchee. It's not all that spicy, really, but it is yummy and filling.

We had some time to kill before the movie (I overestimated how long dinner would take), so we wandered the aisles of Whole Foods for a bit. I abandoned my impulse buy (Mrs. Meyer's lavender-scented dryer sheets) after standing in a non-moving checkout line for about 5 minutes.

Only to go stand in a non-moving movie ticket line for about 20. Their ticket printer was broken, and they were out of change. It was a zoo. Which I should have anticipated, it being the dollar theater on a Saturday night. Or rather, the $1.75 theater, as it turned out.

We missed the first few scenes from "No Reservations," but since it's based on "Mostly Martha," we weren't really lost.

As adaptations go, it was fairly faithful to the original, except for the Hollywood-ized ending (eye-roll). Though I find it irksome that they felt they had to adapt it in the first place. "Mostly Martha" is a wonderful movie, but most Americans just won't tolerate subtitles.

And speaking of subtitles, when the movie ended, we found the hallway packed with several hundred Indians all waiting to get into the theater we'd just left. Surely they weren't all waiting to see "No Reservations"?

Ah no, it was a screening of a movie in Hindi called "Athidi." If Mom hadn't been with me, I might've stuck around to see that. But I think they were sold out, too. It was a big crowd.

Speaking of crowds, or lack thereof, tomorrow is the farmers market, and like last week promises to be kind of miserable. Except colder. Eighty percent chance of snow!

Pear ginger cake

I bought some pears at the farmers market last weekend, and the ones I hadn't eaten yet were getting soft. Time to make pear cake.
I've made pear chocolate cake from Donna Hay before, but my cookbooks are still in crates in the garage, so I Googled around and found this recipe.
I liked the idea from the comments of using ginger instead of allspice. I was also out of cloves, but I didn't think it would matter.
It didn't. The cake turned out moist and tasty.
The ginger was very light. I will make this again, but mince some candied ginger and add that, too.

At one point Mom came into the kitchen and said, "This is the slowest cake I've ever seen in my life!" Which it's not; I was just being very leisurely about putting it together. "I'm not criticizing you," she said when I reacted negatively.

"Mom, if you took a poll, 99 people out of 100 (the one person being you) would consider 'This is the slowest cake I've ever seen in my life' to be a criticism."

But she liked the cake and I'm over being 13. For now.

(P.S. Made another cake with more ginger. Post here.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tasty math

The salad is romaine and arugula with pears, apples, shredded carrot and pomegranate vinaigrette. The steak is cheap top sirloin, salted for 15 minutes, rinsed, patted dry, then dried further in a warm oven, then grilled. Served with garlic butter on top. Really really good.

Wet dough

I got new yeast, and the rise was closer to 30 hours, which for some reason yielded a very wet, sloppy dough. This is one reason I'm looking for a smaller Dutch oven, maybe three quarts, which will force a higher rise.
Still, it looks pretty good, smells good and is crackling away as it cools.

We're going out for dinner, but no doubt we'll be having a taste of this soon. To test it, of course.

No-knead bread recipe here.