Sunday, December 27, 2009


For Christmas I got John and me snowshoes. Today we were able to try them out. We headed to the Sycamore Access area of the bike path to get started. There were a lot of tracks from cross country skiers, but we were the first snowshoe tracks. It was very quiet, we only met two other people the hour and a half we were out.

John is much more coordinated on the snowshoes. He can actually jump. I almost fell over after posing with one foot in the air.

I really enjoyed snowshoeing. I'm looking forward to spending a few hours a weekend in the woods getting some sunshine. I think it will make winter suck just a little bit less, and that is a darn good thing.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

For Christmas John got me my dream mixer. It's the KitchenAid mixer with the bowl lift. I love it. It's heavy duty, which means it quietly kneads dough while I do other things. Bread making is now a breeze. I kicked off what is sure to be a winter full of baking with some cinnamon swirl bread. It makes some amazing toast.

Not only did I get to use the mixer with this bread, I also got to use my new French rolling pin and spatula. I am excited to have more kitchen gadgets to play with.

Merry Christmas

I had a wonderful Christmas. I hope you did too.

I had so much fun I can't possibly describe it, so I'll just post a few pictures.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

tulle academy

Yesterday I saw something in a store and today I made it without a pattern or directions. It sounds cooler than it is, as it was just cutting ribbon and tulle and looping it around elastic.

Most importantly, I got Carnahan to craft with me. She is a notorious craft hater, so it's kind of a big deal. I may have even talked her into sewing lessons next year.

And for those of you wondering, I didn't make a tutu for myself, Carnahan and I each made one for her daughters.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snowed In

Des Moines is in the midst of a horrible winter storm. It has stopped snowing, but the wind is still blowing. It is blowing so much it isn't worth shoveling yet. That means I get to dread shoveling until the blizzard stops. I am not looking forward to digging out of hip high drifts.

As I'm stuck inside hearing the wind blow I decided to spend some time baking. My house smells great, and I don't have to walk to the grocery store to buy bread. Unfortunately the PB & J muffins are a little bland. Luckily the guys at work will eat anything, so I can get rid of the them.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Collar

Cooper got a new collar. He's had the same one since 1995, so it's kind of a big deal.

Bambino's and the Cumming Tap

Last night we ventured to what was once the town of Orilla, which is located between Cumming and West Des Moines. There isn't much there, other than Bambino's , a delicious restaurant. I've heard of Bambino's for years, but I had never been. It exceeded my expectations. They make their pasta, rolls and salad dressings from scratch, yet it's affordable. It's worth driving a half hour for food that good.

We had dinner with TC, Melissa, Ryan, and Allyson.

After dinner Melissa headed home to relieve the baby sitter. The rest of us headed to the Cumming tap for some cribbage. Allyson helped TC out, as he hadn't played since college. Ryan and John beat TC, Allyson and me 2 out of 3 games. I've been loosing at cribbage a lot lately. It does not make me happy.

Thanksgiving Eve

Aunt Kathy and I originally planned on driving up to Cedar Falls the night before Thanksgiving Due to the weather and me working late we decided it made more sense to just get up and go Thanksgiving morning. I was sad, as that meant less time with my family. It ended up being OK, however, as I was able to catch up with Michelle.

Michelle moved to Omaha last summer. She's managing the Twisted Fork in the Old Market area. As sad as I am that she's not here anymore, I am happy that she is making new friends that aren't total losers (other than Stimmel, Derek, and me her friends in Des Moines are not super awesome).

We headed to the Continental for some tapas and basil martinis. John and Nich stopped in to say hi before they headed off to dinner. We all enjoyed catching up and sharing stories. It was a great night.
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ice Skating

After a year of harassment I got John on the ice last night. He had never skated before. As you can see, he wasn't very excited about it.

I, on the other hand, love ice skating. I can't get enough of it. Ever since I learned at the the pond at the Grotto I've loved getting out on the ice. There is just something about quietly gliding along.

Skating is also special to me because I used to do with my Dad. In Jr. High Dad took me skating a few times. To this day he is the best ice skater I've seen that isn't a professional. I'm not nearly as good as him, but I don't fall down (and I think that is enough to be proud of).
John is not a "strong" skater. It reminded me of roller skating with Conor. John held my hand and tried not to fall down. I skated and pulled him along. It worked great until he fell. He kind of pulled me down with him. I even have the bruise on my knee to prove it. I don't think it counts as falling on skates if you are pulled down.

I'm looking forward to getting a lot of skating in this winter. I just don't think John will be joining me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Winter Market

You may have picked up on my love of the Downtown Farmer's Market. Sadly, the market only runs though the end of October. That's a shame, because greenhouses allow for fresh greens almost year round. Eggs, meat, and cheese can also be produced in the winter. Granted, most people wouldn't spend most Saturday mornings in January out on the street, but I would.

Luckily the market and I have reached a compromise. One Saturday in November and one Saturday in December there is an indoor Winter Market. John and I headed there this afternoon. I picked up some Maytag blue cheese, Kim's Christmas present, and some bok choy. John picked up some cheddar and a 25 lb turkey.

We ran into Carla and Sara from knitting and exchanged fall market recipe ideas. John didn't seem too excited about the butternut squash soup that uses tofu as a thickener, but I can't wait to try it. We also talked to some vendors, one of which convinced me to join the Iowa Food Cooperative. That will allow me to buy directly from farmers year round, and my order will be dropped off at Merle Hay Mall, which is closer to my house than Hy Vee.

Holiday Promenade

Last night John and I headed to the Holiday Promenade in the East Village. The shops were open late and crowds packed the street. The store formally known as Smash and now known as Raygun even had a renaming party. They even had a new shirt for the name change that reads "Raygun the store that used to be called SMASH until some a holes in California made us change it."

We spent a lot of time at Ephemera, my new favorite store. I picked up some cards and Ellie's Christmas present there. I would have liked to have picked up some photos of Des Moines too.

It was nice to get out and enjoy the local businesses. It is nice to see the East Village thriving. Thanks to all of the great stores I'll be able to get all of my Christmas shopping done without heading to the mall. And that is the best gift of all.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Early Morning Ice Skating

This morning I headed downtown at 6 am to get a little ice skating in. The Brenton Skating Plaza opened this morning. They had free skating, breakfast, and coffee. Skating, breakfast, and coffee happen to be three of my favorite things, so Jamie and I made arrangements to meet there.

Something must have come up with Jamie because she never showed up. I still had fun, but I did feel weird skating around by myself. After a half hour of skating alone I headed into work. I'm hoping to talk John into skating there tonight. It is much more enjoyable to skate outside when it is 50 out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sci After 5

After work tonight I headed to the Science Center of Iowa for Sci After 5. I was on a trivia contest team with my friends Justin & Neal and some of Neal's co-workers. It was a fun night. We dominated the competition and easily won first place.

There was a lot of heated debate at our table when discussing what our answers should be. Our team consisted of 4 or 5 attorneys, so there was a lot of organized arguments. Justin and I devised a system where we would give each other "the look" when we knew we had the right answer. When utilizing "the look" I knew that I had at least one other person on my side.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hand and Foot

Aunt Kathy visited today. We played two very competitive games of Hand and Foot. I'm pretty sure she cheats, but I don't know how. John won the first game and Kathy won the second game. I'm not too upset, even the losers got to eat baked macaroni and cheese (the traditional Hand and Foot meal).

Hiking at Lake Ahquabi State Park

Hot Toddy and I were able to get out and enjoy the nice weather last weekend. We headed down to Lake Ahquabi to try a new hike. Ahquabi is just south of Indianola, which makes it a quick afternoon trip.

There is a four mile loop around the lake. It was classified as a hike in Hiking Iowa, but it really is more of a four mile walk on a mowed pathway.

We entertained ourselves by pretending that it was as difficult to hike as Ledges.

After crossing that hike off of our list we both agreed that when we only have time to do a quick hike we'll still head up to Ledges. It's only 30 min more round trip, and it is definitely worth it for the scenery and hiking.

Cooper & John

This is what my house is like whenever John lets Cooper out of his kennel. It's pretty entertaining to watch. It ends whenever one of them gets tired.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tommy Johnagin

Last night we went to the Funny Bone to see the early show. Spencer had some extra tickets and was nice enough to think of us.

I had pretty low expectations. The tickets were free and his bio stated that he doesn't curse on stage. I was blown away. I had never laughed so hard at a Funny Bone show. If you have a chance go and see him.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fall Hiking at Ledges

Last weekend Hot Toddy and I headed up to Ledges for a fall hike. There are still a few leaves on the trees and we felt like making the most of a nice fall day.
The road down to the main hiking area was closed, so we were able to hike down into the park and back up to some of the trails. The parking area was full, so along the main trail we ran into a lot of people.
Once we got off of the wider trails we had the park to ourselves. Unfortunately that meant working our way through some downed trees. It was worth maneuvering around trees to enjoy the view.
Proof that some leaves were still on the trees.
The worst part about hiking down into the park and up to trails on the other side is that when you are ready to go back to your car you have an 866 foot climb. The first few times you make the climb it isn't so bad, but after an hour or more of hiking climbing limestone steps doesn't seem like as much fun.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gena and Kiel's Wedding

My friend Gena got married a few weeks ago. I was lucky enough to be in the wedding. It was a wonderful time.

I had a lot of fun catching up with her and her sister Carmen.

Carmen and I were two of the bridesmaids. We had a lot of fun goofing off before the ceremony.

I was able to see what an interesting dancer her husband is.

This is the groom, Kiel. He's a really good guy. We have the world's worst roommate in common (Sleepy).

It was a beautiful day. It's so nice to see two of my friends start a new life together.

Cook Off

This weekend I was involved in a cook off. It was a fierce competition. Neither Bailey nor I take any prisoners in the kitchen, and we can both be competitive.

Our ingredients for the challenge were a secret that was revealed to us at the start of the 30 minute cook off. The ingredients were eggs, honey, apples, English muffins, and tomatoes.

As soon as we found out what our ingredients were we started cooking. We were both pretty quiet as we cooked. We needed to concentrate.

After cooking and plating our meals we headed in to the judging area. The competition was pretty intense.

Bailey made a tomato and cheese omelet, baked apples, and caramelized toasted English muffins.

I made honey baked apples, English muffin French toast, and a tomato grape and apple fruit compote (which was surprisingly delicious).

Bailey and I are even competitors now. I am worried about our next cook off. By the time she gets to junior high she's going to be a better cook than me. I will happily eat her cooking any time.

Before & After

New paint & shutters

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Farmer's Market

I went to the downtown farmer's market last Saturday. It was a new experience for me. I had never been to the market while it was snowing before. I defiantly needed coffee to stay warm. I greatly appreciated the sparse crowd. It was nice to pick out all of my veggies without tripping over dogs and kids on leashes.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lace Scarf

For two months I've been working on a lace scarf. It was kind of frustrating. Sure, the wool I used was beautiful; soft merino wool is a great material to work with. I liked the yarn, I just didn't intend to spend so much time with it. Lace just takes forever. DK weight on size 3 needles? No thank you. After an hours worth of work I only worked about 3 inches. And, as my friend Sara put it, "lace looks like cat barf before you block it".

But I muddled through, and I'm very happy with the result. I think you should know: you will get sick of seeing this scarf. I intend to wear it a lot. Inside or out. Jacketed or shirted. It doesn't matter. I love it and you can't make me take it off. Get used to it.
This was my first lace knitting experience, and probably my last. Don't get me wrong, lace is fun to knit. I just don't see me taking to wearing lace. Also, blocking lace is a pain in the butt. I got lace blocking wires for this project, which helped with the process. I don't think I ever would have blocked it if I didn't have them. Like biking, having the right equipment makes a enormous difference.