February 24, 2008

The birthday girls

Ooooohhhh, we had a great birthday party last night for the girls. Raine is 16 today and Ryann turns 21 in nine days. As is tradition, we do one big party with two cakes. That way, the girls get their cake choice and all the family doesn't have to come two weeks in a row. And with Ryann now in Minneapolis, the logistics are a bit more difficult.

Last night, there were 20 people gathered at the Glass Nickel to celebrate the occasion. Among them, 5 grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and dear friends were in attendance. In my opinion, this is what makes the girls so fortunate in life, their close family relationships. Even today, they have two great grandmothers that they are very close with as well as grandmas and grandpas with whom they have their own rhythm, stories and experiences.

For that, I'm grateful. Add to it a couple of things: longevity in the genes, the propensity to breed early and close family proximity and you have the opportunity to create awesome human beings.These are two amazing women and I'm so happy to have been involved in their lives. And since I'm the Mama I get to say just that.

Here's a photo gallery of last night's events.

Damn, I love these girls!

February 20, 2008

lunar eclipse

We had a wonderful evening view tonight. We spent some of the night watching the lunar eclipse - it took about an hour from start to finish. During the middle of the eclipse we had a complete red moon. And at -10 degrees, the sky was pretty clear! Todd and I both agreed that this was the first lunar eclipse we actually were aware of and witnessed. If that's the case, it might be another 30-odd years before we see another one....

February 17, 2008

Peaceful Day

So today's snow storm has meant that we can't go for a walk. It's 5:00 in the afternoon. The dogs just don't seem too concerned. Today, we trimmed Cita - so she kinda looks like a poodle again. I love to be able to see the eyes of my canine companions. When I looked at the Valentine photo I shot of Cita, I knew the time had come for a trim. Because it is winter in Wisconsin, I won't have her sheared - she needs her fur to keep her warm on our daily walks. Here's a cute of shot of Teiko, snoozing by my feet this afternoon. Even in sleep, this guy will grap for his toys first and foremost if you come anywhere near him.... The fuzzy toy you see, I made from left-over fabric of my quilt. Because of the tight weave of the polar fleece fabric, it takes Teiko a couple of hours to rip apart - as opposed to other fabrics which take seconds.

The Ice Storm Cometh

This is not really the kind of winter wonderland storm you want to have. Our latest storm has brought us a good 1/2 inch of ice before turning to snow. This morning the trees were coated in ice - and this is what causes them to break.

And our poor young arbor vitae are doing their best to withstand the pressure. The ones closest to the house have sustain the worst damage. If you try to shake the ice off - the branches just break. Hopefully being young, the trees will recover and straighten back (with some help from us).

If you have four-wheel drive, you can get around but it's not advised. The city buses were pulled off the road at 8:30 this morning because of the icy conditions. Even Hillary Clinton postponed her Madison town-hall meeting today due to the storm.

But never fear, my friends, Wisconsinites are used to weather conditions like this. Went to the grocery store yesterday and have supplies. Today is just another relaxing winter day. We'll make cornish hens for dinner tonight. That's about all that's on the agenda.

February 15, 2008

Readers from all over

It's pretty cool to see that my little blog gets visitors from around the country and globe. Here's a screen shot from today showing recent North American visitors. If you click on the actual widget in the right column of this blog - it will open a new window - you can then click on a flag to see what city the visitor has come from. A visitor's privacy is kept - as the map doesn't say names, street addresses, etc. I can guess some friends as I know their city but there are visitors from all over the globe and from places I've never been.

So far in February, the blog has had 150 unique visitors. Considering that I don't promote the site, and only write about my own thing, that's a lot of visitors. When I look at the stats, I see that last month several visitors came for the Dutch recipe for frikandel that I posted on the blog last May. For example if you google "frikandel recipe" my blog entry is number 5 - there are a lot of people that would pay good money to get that kind of placement on Google. From a search engine optimization standpoint, I'd say this is a result of good content, good file naming, and good web structure.

February 14, 2008

Be my Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day from the pups! Hope you are all feeling some love today!

It was such a nice morning - a balmy 20 degrees - which made for a great day for a long walk and posing for our Valentines day photos.

February 7, 2008

Quilt Update

Sorry if I am obsessing about the quilt thing lately, but I just have to write this out. And since this is my blog, I can do pretty much that.

Anyhoo.... I took GBoo's (grama boo) advice and brought a nice polar fleece queen size blanket. This week, between work and snow storms, I cut the blanket down a few inches to fit the quilt top. Again, not really a having a clue to what I was doing but following instinct and GBoo's advice, I stitched it all together.

I still need to tie the two pieces together so I don't have what GBoo calls a "parachute", but I'm still amazed.... Two nights ago I tested it out on the sofa....and I must report, it was cozy warm. Total awesome feeling" And I must say one hella warm quilt.

Because of my reconnection with this quilt top that I stared 12 years ago, I was inspired to read a book by the Madison author, Jennifer Chiaverini, called The Runaway Quilt. In this wonderful story, Sylvia explores her own family history through quilts and a memoir left by a great aunt. So imagine my surprise when one the patterns discussed in the story is my own pattern called "Shoo Fly". And I learned that all my mistakes can be called "Humble blocks" because as the story goes only God can make perfection. So I'll sign on to that one.....

I think I might have the quilting bug - if only until the next obsession.

February 6, 2008

Quilt 2 idea

Okay, totally disregard my earlier comments about quilts - and me never doing another one. I think I might be hooked. I actually like the order and zen-like drive that occurs with designing and building the top. Here's the design I created in photoshop and illustrator to work out the ideas I'm thinking about for the next quilt. I love technology!!!!!

Ohmigod, the snow just keeps coming...

5:00 pm: It's been snowing since last night and now we have about 14 inches of fresh snow on the ground. WOW. I think we are going for a record breaker this year. Earlier this morning, I took Nanuk here out to play - as snow frisbee is his absolute favorite game. Bonus for Raine! Madison canceled school again today - twice in one week.

Here's a gallery of photos showing the progression of the snow from early morning to the final blowing of the driveway. If you click the photos directly it will take you to my picasa gallery where the photos are bigger. The best shot? The one showing Todd clearing snow away from the mailbox.

February 4, 2008

Home Improvements - Decision time

Last night, Teiko helped Todd and me decide on what color slate stone to use in the sauna room. He's so cute!

The room you see below didn't actually exist when we first brought the house six years ago - it was simply a earth shed-thing under the house that was never finished. After hauling a couple of tons of sandy construction dirt out, having a doorway cut through the foundation to connect to the house, Todd closed the area in. One weekend a couple of years ago , I even helped haul and mix 5000lbs of concrete to make the floor.

Todd, our intrepid improvement guy, built the cinder block wall, installed windows and the glass doors, finished the sauna room and added a new shower stall. This weekend Todd roughed in the cedar walls. We are going to do the cinder wall and the shower stall in slate. The room when finished will have a cool - nordic spa feel to it - at least that is the plan.....

February 2, 2008

Easy Apple Pie

Last weekend, we had an awesome "home-made" apple pie. I use the quotes because the apple mixture was a home-made canned concoction and the pie crust was pillsbury. The homemade apple mix was a christmas present that Mary received from Uncle Bear and Aunt Marlene. Mary brought the ingredients for the whole dinner on Sunday. All I had to do was throw everything in the oven. Raine did a nice job making the lattice top with the "S" signature.

Pretty lazy day

All in all, it's a pretty lazy day, I could be doing a bunch of stuff (ie: cleaning, laundry, shoveling) but I'm just sitting here posting pictures and telling stories. Even Teiko, is lazy. Here's a cute shot Raine just took of the boy lounging at my feet. Which is where he always is, right next to the mama.

The first quilt is ready for finishing

I've finished the borders and my first quilt top is now complete. Like I said before, I really had no idea what I was doing when I made this - but in the end it kind of finished up well. I just found out that the pattern I used is called the shoo-fly and can be used to create some awesome designs. Some great advise from Grama Boo will have me finishing this baby in a few days. I'm going to buy a queen size fleece blanket and stitch the two pieces together - then I don't have to deal with the batting.

It feels good to finish something I started 12 years ago.

The new E

I've had the car for a few days now, and I love it. It handles sooo much better than my old Element. The four-wheel drive makes for a much safer driving experience in ol' Wisconsin winters. Here's a pic of Raine on the night I brought the car home - she was pretty excited to get to drive.

Ooohhhh, poor Mama's Cita

Spent the early morning at the vet's because Cita threw her patella (kneecap) out of whack this morning and needed to have it manipulated back into place. Poor Cita - she was hopping around on three legs with her back leg locked in a curled-up position - which is what happens when the kneecap slips down or up. This pup was born with a crappy knee joint. Here's a photo of a recovering Cita - in her usual spot on the sofa. The ultimate remedy will be surgery to correct it - but I'd like to prolong that as long as possible. Our wonder vet, Dr. June, showed me how to massage the patella back into place - when it happens again.

February 1, 2008

Madame President


I've been elected president of the Madison Northside Business Association. Being a business owner and a northside resident, I have found great camaraderie with the members, nice access to city leaders who visit us regularly and great steak dinners we get each month at our meetings at the Esquire Club.

You can call me Madame President.

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