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.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Today was the fourth annual Ourtoberfest. It ended up being a beautiful day. A little chilly, but nothing too bad.

We started out with lunch at Fong's. They have great pizza. I had crab on my pizza and Allyson and Seymour had something filled with meat with corn on it. We were all pretty happy with what we had.
TC's brother Dan joined us from Florida. He was pretty impressed with the helmet you get to wear when you have a kamikaze.

After Fong's we headed to the Royal Mile. That's where the competition for Bar BINGO really started to heat up. We had to initiate a few rules after a few heated arguments.

After the Mile we headed to CABCo.
At CABCo we discovered that Dan is an actual cartographer. He's won awards and everything. He was very annoyed at the Court Ave. district maps, which are pretty much awful.
Group shot (from L to R): TC ,Dan, Seymour, Allyson, John, me)

After CABCo we hit up El Bait Shop. At El Bait Shop they have some amazing pumpkin beer. I was in heaven.
Seymour and John did not have pumpkin beer, but they still had a good time. Seymour was especially happy because he won Ourtoberfest Bar BINGO. I got second place and TC got third. We all got prizes. Matching shirts, prizes, and an afternoon of eating and drinking...yeah, it was a pretty good day.

The last spot on the list was the High Life Lounge.

At the High Life we played some Silver Strike. I was not on my game. I actually got so frustrated with myself I started complaining about the state of the machine. The roller ball didn't roll freely, but normally I wouldn't complain about it (after all, who wants to be so in to video bowling she gets upset at the machine?).

One of my favorite parts of Silver Strike was how TC wouldn't put down his menu to bowl.

As far as Ourtoberfests go, I think this one was the best so far. In fact, you could say it has a high score. Unlike Seymour, who only got the second highest score....in Silver Strike.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

For Claire

My cousin Claire e mailed me today and told me that I needed to blog more. Claire is not just my cousin, but she's also one of my best friends, so I pretty much do what she says. So here you have it; a post just for Claire. She better leave a comment.

I've actually come to relate to Claire a lot over the past few months. For the first 5 years she was married to Gjergji they lived in different cities. I often thought about how difficult that must have been. I can only imagine how hard it is to love someone and have to live apart from him.

Lately I've reached more of an understanding of how Claire must have felt. For the past month John has had migrations pretty much every night. That means that even though I get to talk to him every night I only get to see him on the weekends. I could try to explain eloquently how that feels, but I find that two words sum it up best: it sucks.

Claire has always had my respect. She's wicked smart. She's funny. She has great taste in wine. She admits that Jordan might be gay (even though we've learned that Jon was really the gay New Kid). Lately she's earned my respect on a new level. To be with someone and live time zones apart for years...that takes a lot of strength....we're talking the amount of strength to be a book club selection for Oprah. So kudos to Claire. Seeing how happy she and Gjergji are now proves that not seeing each other was worth it.

So thank you Claire, for all of the advice you've given me over the years. I treasure your friendship.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


It's cold out. So cold that it's cold in my house. It wouldn't be a big deal, but I'm cheap and refuse to turn on my furnace in early October. I have on two sweatshirts and two pairs of socks, but I just can't shake the chill. So I broke down and did the reasonable thing.

No, I didn't turn on the furnace. I baked. Bake something at 350 for an hour and you can raise the temperature of my little house at least one degree. And you get a treat at the end. The furnace never gives me a treat, just a higher utility bill.

I've been baking a lot lately. Panith lent me her red KitchenAid mixer, and I want to make the most of my time with it. I love the mixer. I don't own a stand mixer, and I'm not sure why. They make baking so much easier. I love making bread when have a machine to do most of the kneading for me.

So today I whipped up some gingerbread. I'd never had real gingerbread before, so I thought I would give it a try. I figure when you are freezing your butt off in your own home, you might as well enjoy the spicy scent of gingerbread baking.

I think I might break down soon and turn the furnace on. Once it gets below 60 in here I'll turn it on....or I'll make cookies.

Hiking with Hot Toddy

Today Hot Toddy and I decided to go for a hike. Pressed for time we headed to Walnut Woods State Park, which is only 15 minutes away. Of all of the state parks I have been to this one is the lamest by far. It is pretty small and doesn't have much to offer.

The one hiking trail they have is shared with horses. Luckily it doesn't seem to be used much, as we didn't have to avoid much poop. It was flat and wide, which is good if you want to walk in the woods but don't want to bother with hiking. We discussed taking up cross country skiing this winter, and the trail would be perfect for that.

Even though the hike was pretty easy, it was nice to be out in the crisp air hanging out with Todd. It is cold enough out that a cup of hot cocoa sounded pretty good when I got home.

Knitting with Ivy

This morning I met my friend Ivy for coffee and knitting at Grounds for Celebration. Ivy and I went to grad school together, so we both appreciate being able to sit still for a few hours and talk without discussing a case study. We were able to talk about our love of spreadsheets - she has one for holiday baking that tracks the recipes she makes and the ingredients used. She also works with Hot Toddy, further proving my theory that Des Moines is a really small town.

It was such a relaxing way to start the day. On a gloomy and cold day it is so nice to sit by a fire, drink coffee, and knit the morning away.

Hairy Balls

I got a plant named Hairy Balls for a graduation present. Chris and Becky thought the name was hilarious, so they picked it out. Now that it's fall you can see where the plant got its name. It has small hairy balls on it. Weird name, cool plant.