Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back in Colorado

We're in Colorado, but not home yet. We drove through, but mostly in front of the snow storm that's still having fun along our route, driving all the way to my brother's home in Paracute. We were going to spend last night here anyway, but arrived just after eleven at night one day early, and will leave tomorrow for our place.

It's been so good to see the snow after being in 90 plus degree weather in California just a couple of days ago. I have never done heat gracefully, but now it's pure torture. Actually, anything over 75° feels like punishment. We sure had fun with Ellen, though, and it was great seeing Ben and Ruth, Ashley and Kate.

We didn't get to see everyone we wanted, but in addition to family members we at least got to see Sherrie, Stacey and Hanne, Pastor Stan and Al and Becky. I'm thinking we'll stay home for the rest of the Winter, but that's not a sure thing. We might even go back or Thanksgiving. It's still up in the air. I just hate leaving home while the snow's on the ground and our property looks like an advertisement for Winter Wonderlands Are Us.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Asparagus with Gorgonzola Sauce

I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes with everyone. It's the way I prepare asparagus here at home as often as I can. It's great with or without the sauce, which I always serve on the side. I love the sauce, but a little goes a long way, as it's very rich. Since I can't get my friends to visit as quickly as I'd like, so I can cook for them all, instead I share some of my recipes occasionally. I'm hoping this will tempt them to visit—as if our gorgeous scenery wouldn't be enough...

Asparagus with Gorgonzola Sauce

TIME: Prep/Total Time: 20 min.

Ingredients for two servings:

  • 1/2 pound fresh asparagus spears
  • 1 Shallot
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons evaporated milk, half-and-half, or cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola


In a small sauté pan, sauté chopped shallots and stir fry asparagus until crisp-tender, adding crushed garlic during last two minutes.

Meanwhile, in another saucepan, whisk cream cheese, milk and salt over low heat until smooth. Stir in gorgonzola cheese and heat through.

Remove asparagus from pan and top with sauce or serve on the side.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ashley and Her Grandpa in Amsterdam

We came back to Ben and Ruth's home, tired and wet after a day of sightseeing in Amsterdam in the rain, and John collapsed on the couch, saying he'd go up for a shower in a minute. Then Ashley started bringing him her babies, and I picked up the video camera. I've cut twenty minutes down to three and a half so you can get a taste of how special their bond is. She is such a great kid.

Babysitters in Amsterdam

I've had some inquiries through my blog on how to find babysitters or babysitting positions in Amsterdam. Since I don't live there, only visit my son's family and grandchildren, I had to do a little checking to get this information. This suggestion comes from my daughter-in-law. I appreciate her pointing me in the right direction.

The American School has a Yahoo Group called Ashbuy where people post things they want to buy or sell. She has seen people post things there about babysitting. Part of this group is also Ash Business, where people can advertise their services. That may be worth checking out. People wanting to view postings need to become members of that Yahoo Group, but it's not difficult, and is free of charge.

I've made it very easy for you. To join the group, simply click here. I hope this helps, and thanks for visiting my blog.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cologne, Germany: Final Day, European Road Trip

Cologne, Germany was the one city we drove to and left, all in one day, without spending the night. I wasn't sure it would work out very well, but it did. We had a great time and managed to see just about everything. Of course, we were beyond exhausted by the end of the day. It wasn't so much a problem for John and me. We were in a nice quiet car. Ben and Ruth, however, had to listen to the Children's Choir all the way home. I understand Benjamin was close to screaming as well before the final mile was complete. In fact, neither Ashley nor Kate was willing to get into the car for a couple of days afterwards.

We didn't stay in the cathedral long, since the girls didn't feel like being quiet. The crowds were incredible in Cologne, too, and I think that might have been affecting them, as well as being in the car so many miles and walking so many hours for a couple of days in a row. Still, I give so much credit to Ben and Ruth for keeping the girls content. I never saw a single playground in Bruges or Ghent, but everywhere we went with Ben and Ruth, they managed to find one for the kids to run off some steam. I guess they just know where to look? Maybe they start praying for them. (Please, God, they need a playground!)

I didn't take as much video in Cologne, so this clip is shorter. (Did I hear some applause out there?) At the end of the video, we climbed the long flight of stairs and got in our cars, hit the autobahn, driving about four or five hours (I forget) back to The Netherlands to Ben and Ruth's home, and tucking away our Anniversary Trip memories to be played with later.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Remembering Our Anniversary in Luxembourg

Remember the first time you heard the song "When I'm Sixty-Four?" I was only nineteen years old. At that time, 64 sounded pretty old to me. Well, now that I'm not only closing in on it, but my husband has reached that age, I realize that it's still pretty young, and I'm not ready to get rid of him yet. In fact, he's a lot more fun now than he was at thirty or forty.

I'm getting more comfortable with iMovie, and have to admit that figuring out what music to put in the background was fairly obvious. Duh.

I really thought our 25th anniversary with Ellen and Johnny, when we took the cruise to Alaska and had balcony rooms was unbeatable. Those are still memories I cherish, but this trip was at least as good. I do wish Ellen and Johnny could have been with us, though, since they're so much fun. Still, it's hard to imagine we could have had a better time than we did.

Enjoy the show. If you ever get a chance to travel to Europe, I'd strongly recommend asking Ben for recommendations on places to visit. He set up our itinerary, and couldn't have done better. Thanks again, Ben, for the planning and for joining us in Luxembourg and Cologne, Germany.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ghent, Belgium—My Favorite City

Of all the places we visited, Ghent, Belgium was my favorite. We were treated so kindly, and it seemed less hurried there. Also, we did get more up close and personal with the history, and it's the place where we ran across that wonderful impromptu concert in the music conservatory while walking down an alleyway.

I've managed to put together a collection of slides and video clips that isn't too outrageously long (6 and a half minutes) which is pretty good, considering the hours I started with. I've tried to keep it lively. Let me know if I succeed. Otherwise, at least I have the memories stored for myself.

Meanwhile, whatever I get posted this week and next (when I'm not working on baby Max's layette) is going to be it for awhile. We leave for California a week from Saturday, and will be gone about a week and a half. (Excuses, excuses...)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Trip to Europe, Bruges, Belgium (edited)

I have so many great memories from our trip to Europe. Seeing Ben's family is right up there at the top, of course, being a mother and grandma first and foremost, but there were some things that happened that make me smile whenever I think about them, or see the photos or videos. Those are the things I want to start sharing.

As I mentioned in my last blog overviewing our anniversary trip through Belgium, Luxembourg and Cologne, Germany, we really enjoyed our visit to these cities, and took many photos. I'll include just a few more with these videos. They're all pictures that I took around the town, either in the cathedrals or wandering the streets and riding in the horse-drawn carriage on the tour. Just seeing them takes me back there. I honestly never thought I'd ever get to Europe. This was such a great trip.

I couldn't seem to get enough time in the cathedrals. The statuary and paintings, the stained glass windows and tapestries, marble floors, wooden kneelers and confessionals, all elevated my mind to a different place.

I loved seeing the artistry and attention to detail. Today our artists are concentrating on other things, I think.

I can't imagine being able to carve a statue like this one—actually, like any of them.

The pleasure of roaming around Europe, where you can look up and see these old buildings, often eight hundred to a thousand years old, was constant. Now that I'm back home, I find myself wanting to contribute to our own historic sites, especially on the local level. We need to keep what treasures we have.

The extra detail work on the building exteriors add so much. It's nice to live in a city like Loveland, where they have an Art in Public Places Ordinance, the first passed in Colorado. It assesses one percent of all the city's capital construction projects of $50,000 or more for the purchase of art.

Without this sort of community action, buildings like these, and statues like we have here in Loveland, would never exist (except in private collections for the wealthy).

John didn't look like he wanted to get too close to the horse during our "feed the horse" break.

I never found out what this building was, but it's beautiful. All of Bruges had a charm and beauty that we really enjoyed. It's one of the places we'd like to go back to, but spend a little longer than arriving one day and leaving the next morning. Actually, I think we felt that way about all of Belgium that we saw...

Here's the part I had to edit:

I tend to get confused, but luckily cameras date things, so I always think I can figure out where we were when things happened. When I originally wrote this blog, I went by the date on the video camera. I forgot that Ben adjusted the camera for the correct European time after we returned, but not the video camera, which made everything on that camera off by about a day. It was in Ghent, Belgium that for some unknown reason they upgraded us to a suite when we checked in, not Bruges. I finally got the video edited, but decided to replace it, leaving it at the bottom of this blog. Who knows why...

As I said, though, when they upgraded us, they didn't even mention that they were doing it. They just smiled and gave us keys to what must have been the best room(s) in the hotel. I can't imagine anyone had a better view than we did. I found out later that the impressive building, which in my mind must have been some sort of monument or at least have some historic significance, was "just an office building." When I started sorting out my still photos from Ghent, there was that office building in among the still shots of Ghent. Oops. So it now says Ghent on the video, and when you see the next blog, you'll notice photos of the same building there.

Here is the short but sweet, much edited video of me getting very excited about our hotel room, which I now realize really was in Ghent, as I first believed, rather than Bruges, as the date on the video convinced me it must be. I know that as excited as I got it's apparent I have spent too many nights vacationing in a tent. I will say, however, that even if I hadn't, this was a really great room in a wonderful hotel.