The Bling

As Bill popped the question, he took a rounded, silver, knob-like box out of his pocket and opened his hand. It was all sparkles. Especially in the candle light. All night (and the next day) the sparkles surprised me. The reflection at times was like a small disco ball.

And the sparkle sits in a band that is all me. If asked for direction, I might not have provided the feedback that lead him to choose this one. It is petite and detailed. The pattern reminds me of a sheaf of wheat. The filigree is gorgeous. And maybe the best moment was a few days later. Bailie states in her matter-of-fact way, “Mom, your ring is just perfect. Bill did a really good job”.

Of course, the hardest part about making a ring a surprise is getting the size right. Bill admits he tried to take a ring from my box one day, but I caught him (I don’t remember him looking through my jewels). So he guessed I was average. I am not. So after two weeks of a twirling ring and two almost complete slips off my hand, we took it in for resizing. And found out my fingers are an odd size: 51/4. This trip gave us time to also look at bands and get some ideas on matching or complimentary. We both agree that complimentary bands are more fun. Watch for another post that focuses on the “ring decision”.

Holiday Traditions

We have many holiday traditions in our house. What cookies we make. When and how we decorate. How we give gifts. Where we hang the stockings. How much we give to families in need. And the list goes on.

As much as a there is a holiday tradition that we abide by, we like to change things up too. Some times it is a new cookie recipe. This year, we are changing our new Christmas tree ornament tradition. In the past, a new ornament is found on Christmas morning in her stocking. This year, we are making ornaments.

Glass Blown Ornaments.

First, we needed to pick a day. So the girl called to figure out our options and book a time.

When the day arrived, we headed into the hot shop for our adventured. We were guided through the process…

  • First we picked from three shapes. Bill deviated from the girls by picking round while we went for tear drop.
  • Then we chose our colors. Bill went with traditional red and green. I chose red and brown. The girl selected teal and green like the sea.
  • Next, the blowing begins. The teacher picked a glop of glass and the student (us) rolled it in the oven to prepare it for the color.
  • Then it was time to add color and roll the color into the glass on the table top.
  • Back into the kiln to set the color.
  • Time to add the blown element. The teacher instructed us when to blow and how much as she shaped the ornament.
  • Then it was back in the fire to set.
  • Finally, a bead of glass was added to top. Complete!

Of course, it takes a few days to bring back to room temperature, so we had to return four days later to pick up our final creations. The memories and the ornaments will live with us for the years to come.

Mac & Cheese Plus

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Gather up a list of ingredients for the ultimate comfort meal.

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper

And for the topping, I switched up the recipe to crumbled goat cheese.

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs

And to bring it all together…

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese — in my case, crumbled goat cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Grandma Ki-Ki’s Banana Bread

Going through the recipe box to pull out the Christmas cookies, I found an old banana bread recipe from the Great Grandma Ki-Ki archives. And in the spirit of sharing…

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c banana
  • 1.5 TBL milk
  • 1 TBL lemon juice

Blend until smooth. Add dry sifted dry ingredients:

  • 2 c flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp soda
  • optional 1 c nuts

Bake at 350 until “toothpick” done. Usually 40+ minutes.

A Night at the Glass Garden

In the midst of the holiday celebrations, I was lucky to attend a company evening out at the new Chihuly Garden and Glass. On my bucket list for the last few months, this was a welcome opportunity (and the price was perfect too)!

I could try to describe the exhibits in detail. But nothing I could say would recreate the images in your mind like a few photographs. Enjoy!

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Once quick “one fine day” story before you go…

While gazing at the indoor garden exhibit, I thought wouldn’t this be a beautiful back drop for a wedding ceremony. Even mine. Then I remembered our short list of wants starts with “be outside for the entire event”. I hope someone I know decides to get married here!

Plan your visit.

Wicked With My Girl

We needed some girl time — and with Wicked coming to town durring school conference week, there was no better time for a night out. Just she and me.

Dinner :: Serious Pie
What better than pizza by Tom Douglas for mother/ daughter dinner out? We started with a salad, followed with pizza and were too full for dessert.

Bartlett pears, arugula, carpona ham, marcona almond purée

She: buffalo mozzarella, red sauce, fresh basil
Me: yukon gold potato, rosemary, pecorino

Accompanied by a glass of Italian Barbera for me, and soda for she. She ate a full pie, I had lunch for tomorrow.

Onto the show…

Achievement Reached: Gold

Warning: This is a shameless proud Mom post. Proceed with caution.

With Bailie’s third year swimming club well underway, we wrapped up the fall season with the divisional swim meet. So we packed up the car and headed to the State Capital for the weekend. For an 8 a.m. warm up time. Do you feel the love, yet?

Day 1 Races
200IM – She has never looked this focused in the water! She started the race with the first 50 fly leg shaving a few seconds off her personal best, and just used that momentum for the rest of the race. And it paid off with a time drop of over 27 seconds. Soon after the race, we learned that this meet was unique with final events for the top 12 swimmer to come back tonight and race in the finals. Yes, she earned her first trip to the finals!
50 Breast – The passion in her first race carried over into her breast, dropping over 5 seconds on a 50. She earned her first gold time and moved up from 33rd seed to swim in the finals for this race too.
100 Free – To finish up a great session, she dropped over 5 seconds in this race too.

After cheering on friends at the end of the sessions, it was time for a pool break. Bailie invited a friend to lunch and we headed out to explore Olympia. We only found lunch as the tour of the capital in the pouring rain was not so appealing today.

That evening at the finals, Bailie raced both events moving up a slot in her 50 breast and ending the same position in her 200IM. Luckily for all of us, she finished in the first half of the final sessions, so we still made our dinner reservations (and she ate like she swam three miles finished both her steak and her side of mac and cheese).

Day 2 Races
200 Free – Another stellar start of the day – and another final!
100 Breast – Guess what? Time drop. And, yes, another final!
50 Free – Yep, you knew it. Another time drop.

Before finals today, we found a McMenamin’s where she ate like there was no tomorrow and finally made it to tour the capital.

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For the 200 free final, Bailie swam her final 50 faster that she swam her 50 Free race in the morning. Which supports the coaches feedback all weekend to Bailie – no stroke corrections, only thoughts on how to pace, how to push, how to race.

Total: 6 New Personal Bests, 4 Top 12 Finishes, 1 Gold Time (First EVER)

Proud Mom’s Final Note: Less than two weeks ago, the girl choose to end her dance career and focus solely on swimming. It was fun to see her passion for swimming go to the next level this weekend.