Monthly Archives: November 2009

It’s always best to go when it’s snowing outside

Dan and I seem to make it to the zoo at least once every winter. We usually try to go when it’s snowing outside, which seriously cuts down on the crowds and screaming children, but yesterday we just needed some exercise and so we decided to walk to the zoo, crowds be damned. It was actually pretty cold, so there weren’t as many people as there could have been, and there were lots of cute babies and little kids.

There were also lots of animals. Here are some of the good photos I got.

Peacock looks for forbidden snacks in strollers parked outside the Tropical Discovery building.

Cheetah in repose. Usually he’s pacing because there are kangaroos in the next enclosure over but they weren’t out that day.

Rhino hanging out right near his paparazzi.

Same with Komodo dragon.

Polar bear feet are REALLY BIG.

Just hangin’ out with his giraffe homeys.

Two-headed lion

Funny-looking bird is funny-looking

We spent a good amount of time, as we always do, in the Great Ape area. On display were the two bachelor brother gorillas (rather than the big silverback and his family) and they were amusing themselves. We spoke with a docent who volunteers in the Great Ape area, who told us a lot about the apes that we never would have known.

The Denver Zoo may not be world-class, but it’s still a pretty good zoo, and, all things considered, an excellent deal. Plus, walking to and from the zoo is good exercise for us during a weekend of sloth and gluttony!

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Loki loves Petra


Petra decided to hang out with my knitting on the couch, where she almost never goes. Loki decided to hang out with Petra.

How to process a pumpkin: a pictorial essay

Materials you will need:

1 sugar pumpkin (not the kind you carve)
1 knife
1 cutting board
1 9×13 pan
aluminum foil
oven
large spoon
colander
food processor
cheesecloth

Preheat oven to 400F.

1. Using big knife, cut pumpkin in half across the middle.

2. Scoop out seeds using your hands or a spoon. If you want to keep them, do it over a colander under running water. Separate the seeds from the strands, rinse, and place on a cookie sheet to dry for a day.

3. Use a spoon to scrape out as many of the strings as you can. It’s not a big deal if you can’t get them all.

4. Place pumpkin halves flesh-side down in the baking pan and add about 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the pan. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 45-60 minutes or until flesh is soft when poked with a fork. Let cool.


before


after

5. When pumpkin halves are cool enough to handle, use large spoon to scrape soft flesh from rind. Put 1/4 of the flesh in the food processor at a time. Process until very smooth (the consistency of baby food). Add processed pumpkin to a bowl and repeat until all the pumpkin is pureed.


6. Cut a length of cheesecloth big enough to create a pouch, making sure you have several thicknesses layered on top of one another. Place square of cheesecloth over a colander and spoon some of the pumpkin into the middle.

7. Gather cheesecloth up over pumpkin puree and make a little sack with your hands. Use your hands to massage and squeeze as much water as you can out of the pumpkin without squeezing flesh out the holes in the cheesecloth. This may take a while.

8. Put now-dry pumpkin puree into a different bowl.

9. Repeat steps 8 and 9 until all pumpkin has been dehydrated. (If you aren’t in a hurry, you can spread all the pumpkin over cheesecloth in a colander in the sink and let it sit for several hours so the water runs out. I am not that patient.)

10. Voila! You now have at least one pumpkin pie’s worth of fresh pumpkin mush. You can rinse out and reuse the cheesecloth for another project. It will dry in a short amount of time and be only slightly orange.


Coming soon: making pumpkin pie from scratch.

(All photos by Dan except the one of the pumpkin seeds, which I took.)

Twenty years later

Not long after we moved into the new house in the ‘dale, Laurel turned three right around Thanksgiving. We didn’t know many people her age in town, so most of the party guests were Lissa’s friends, the neighbor kids, and their cousins.

L-R Kid, Laurel, Kid, Me, Kid, Lissa, Kid
Also, I just want to point out that whoever took the photo managed to get every one of our faces in shadow! hee.

Mostly I remember that the kids spent a good portion of the party jumping in leaf piles in the backyard. What’s a better activity than that?

Happy birthday, little sister. May every birthday be as carefree as that one 20 years ago was.

Things for which I am thankful

Good food

Healthy family and friends

Healthy pets

Getting to see my family via webcam and say happy birthday to my little sister.

Wine

That I found jeans that fit

That I am capable of lifting 40 pound bags of cat litter

A wonderful, awesome, and loving husband

A job that pays the bills

That I get to see snow fall, and sunny skies, and rain, and everything else that makes each day different from the last

Wrangler butts drive me nuts

It suddenly occurred to me last week that I had exactly two pairs of functional, fitting jeans, and one pair of pants that weren’t jeans and weren’t Nice Work Pants. So last weekend, we went in search of new jeans for me (and some for Dan).

Saturday’s excursion was singularly unproductive. Every singe pair I tried on, everyplace we went, felt like a pair of tights made out of jean material. Now, I understand that jeans go through fashion seasons and styles just like anything else. In my opinion, jeans are comfortable pants that are acceptable to wear in public. Personally, I don’t find tights made out of denim to be comfortable. I’m not “slim through hip and thigh” like every pair of jeans I tried on seemed to be. Even going up two sizes to fit the hip/thigh area created a bizarre waist gap.

Look, I’m not asking for a lot. I want a pair of jeans that look good on my ass, and aren’t creating sausage casings for my legs. I want to be able to sit in them and still have circulation. I like a bootcut or flared style to help counteract my enormous calves, and a dark rinse. Once upon a time, it wasn’t that hard to find what I was looking for, but Saturday was an exercise in futility. When we came home empty-handed, Dan brought up the idea of a brand of jeans I’d tried on before and never purchased, Cruel Girl.

Cruel Girl jeans are sold at the local cowboy superstore, Shepler’s. So on Sunday, we went down to the cowboy store and I tried on about 89983049835 pairs of jeans in every imaginable size, shape, rise, and iteration, and at least 6 different brands. I gotta say, if you’re looking for quality jeans at a decent price and a wide variety of brands, Shepler’s in Denver is a good place to go. Dan managed to find a new brand of jeans he liked, too, and I found one pair that I decided I had to get. They were 30 bucks and comfy as hell. They weren’t Cruel Girl, though, which I decided were just took expensive for one pair. Then, when we got home, Dan found that the brand he liked (Cinch) and Cruel Girl are made by the same company, a local company, that has an outlet in North Denver.

On Monday I took the opportunity to head down the 16th street mall and look for jeans at TJ Maxx and Cross Dress for Less. After several false starts, I found a pair that made my ass look fantastic for $20 on clearance (Seven brand!) so I bought ’em. I wore them on Tuesday, and probably should have washed them first, because they had sizing that made me itch all day and I got welts on my skin around the waistband. (They’re in the wash now). And then today I had off (unpaid furlough day, and don’t get me started), so we went to the outlet store that sells Cinch and Cruel Girl, and I tried on at least 20 pairs, with several I really liked, while Dan found a pair that look great on him on the clearance rack. But after buying 2 pairs of jeans already this week, and with the expense of having a Very Sick Kitty, I decided against buying any of the Cruel Girl jeans. Maybe next time.

Synchronicity

Sometimes I get a kick out of little things that other people might not notice.

The other day, I was at the gym, listening to my ipod, doing a cooldown crunches/leg lifts sort of deal after the cardio workout. On my ipod was a medley of Sublime songs. As I started my 100 crunches, I thought to myself how funny it would be if the song that were on, Jailhouse, happened to play the line “Had the ’89 vision” when I did crunch #89 (I count them in my head). Then I forgot about it until I got to number 80, when I realized it might happen, and then it did. I did the 89th crunch just as that line played.

It’s the little things in life that make me happy.