Hello Friend

Wednesday, August 24

So here's a super quickie update of the past week

Guess what?! THE CHAIRS ARE FINISHED! And they are just so gorgeous! I just love them, now if only I didn't have a literal mountain of moving stuff in the dining room, maybe Steve and I could actually use them (notice this photo is taken at the front door, pretty much the only space available in the front of the house right now).

See what I mean? I spent last night packing all my sweaters and long-undies and layers (and reorganizing this massive pile, it was driving me nuts taking over the living space as it is). You wouldn't think I hate the cold as much as I say I do considering the surprising amount of layering pieces I have!

Do you think it'll all fit in the truck? I'll definitely keep you posted on that one!

Last Tuesday, these highly-anticipated-sexy-beasts arrived in the mail!

Yeah, that's right I chose fashion AND function!
It's okay ladies, you can be jealous (oh, and I also paid only 50% retail price for them)!
I know, wicked cute.
And yesterday, this came for me!

Sickest. Jacket. Ever.
Grass green, 600 fill 100% goose down North Face snowboarding jacket. Usable pockets abound, adjustable snow skirt with belt loop straps to ensure it doesn't move, and helmet compatible (and attachable) goose hood. 
So. Warm. 
And I only paid 50% retail, again. I know, I'm just so good.
Vermont winter, here I come! 
(I am so in love with my cute but wholly functional snow gear, I was tempted in Denver's 90-million-degree day to gear up, head to toe, farmer-john snow pants and all just to get a picture. Steve advised--wisely--against doing so. Besides, I'll have plenty of pictures when I'm actually trekking through the Vermont back-country on expedition!)


Friday, August 12

You'll never believe what I did yesterday!

 I can hardly believe it myself!

And tiny little stubby tails!
I am re-in-love with these little birdies (I lost one yesterday while working/rehydrating him; what? It's only been about 3 months....)


Again, I have no words, just jumps! (Monday, August 8)

So, after spending a wonderful day back at "work" playing with Bunny, I came home to two of the most anticipated events as far as school goes.
One-- my new computer has arrived and it just BEAUTIFUL! This is the best, most wonderful, and thoughtful gift from Steve for my school adventures across the country! I couldn't have asked or found a better computer without that gorgeous man!

Two-- I got my residency letter from Sterling...
Drum roll please!
I have been placed in HOUSTON HOUSE as a SINGLE!!!! Are you kidding me!? How amazing is THAT?!

Sunday, August 7

This one's for Leah

Organic green and white salad for lunch = pure Yum!
(hint: eating arugula the day before it goes completely bad makes for some spicy but delicious flavor)

Steve and I just got back from our little Denver farmer's market (something we aim to do together every Sunday morning) and got a bag full of amazing loot!

 For dinner tonight, it's 4-cheese tortellini with tomato basil pasta sauce (all store bought unfortunately. I haven't yet tried to make my own tomato sauces but I have a feeling, they're not too difficult and I would rock them; and with the gorgeousness of the market's offerings, I would be able to make some delectable renditions with a basic knowledge) with a plethora of market veggies: yellow and green zucchini, an eight-ball squash (I love the name of those little yummy guys), red, orange, and green bells, an Anaheim, and another yellow-green pepper of some sort (it just looked and smelled so delicious, I had to have it), snap peas, and because my lover needs (craves) his protein always, I threw in some sun-dried tomato and basil Tofurky dogs chopped up.

We also got a little tub of yogurt dip in the roasted red pepper spice flavor that I'll be sure to mix into the batch.
Top it with a little parlano cheese and I think we're set for guaranteed food babies!


An Hour and a Half Later....

And we have ONE fully completed.
It was 100% Steve and Amanda team work!

I just love it!


Projects patiently awaiting completion... Goal=8/13/11

About 4 years ago, Steve and I "purchased" these chairs from a neighborhood yard sale (I say "purchased" because it was really more of a neighborhood junk-swap, nobody actually sold anything and we all wound up less our own junk but with someone else's disposed of treasures).

My wonderful mom decided she was going to strip them of their tortured red paint slop and refinish them.

With flash to enhance their beautiful detail
we're talking wire toothbrush and tons of
steel wool necessary to get the thick sloppy
layers of knarly paint off of them.
I cannot stress enough how much work and
how appreciated it is on my Mom's part, she
is a treasure!

Unfortunately I don't have any before photos but here they are in their current gorgeous glory:

Steve and I will hopefully have the seats competed by the end of today (what you see now is merely the base layer of fabric that I did on Friday and wound up full on bruising my hand with the staple gun--hey, at least it has enough guts to punch through the ancient hardened wood)

And these sweet little guys have been sitting in the ceramics studio since late May. I know--that's crazy.
I have recently (with the suggestion of Steve--seriously, what would I do without that wonderful man in my life!?) decided to change the original handle plans to simplify (read: get it over with already!) so that I can have them completed by the end of the summer/by the time I leave Colorado.


Friday, August 5

Sterling visit Day 4 (Wednesday June 8)

Today I woke up at 5:30am to join the 6:15am Grazing Lab class. Let me just tell you, this was super amazing. I thought at first it was going to be moving the animals from one lot to another (grazing rotations) but it wasn't. Not any less fun or interesting though!

We hiked through several pastures on the property identifying, noting, and discussing different types of native plant species. Today the students were focusing on the toxicity levels for grazing animals of native weed plants. It was just fascinating watching the instructor tromping through this tall grass and sporadically stoop down, pull a weed out and ask the class what it was. She used hints like, it's has a square stem, or it has a spiral growth pattern, or it's kind of sticky/fuzzy/prickly/etc. Honestly, to a layman like myself, we were just walking through a bunch of grass but to the trained and educated eye, a 2x2 patch of "grass" was chock-full of different plant species (by the handfuls sometimes)!

Did you know that certain grazing animals learn from their previous generations which plants are safe and which are not? Others learn through a very specific communication system in their bodies, an animals will know almost immediately by way of direct communication from their stomach (or stomachs) which plants are good for them, which they need more of, which plants are healthier than others, and which to avoid due to the different levels of toxicity. Did you know that there are over 30 different types of Thistle species alone?! And, even more interesting, the Canadian thistle (the one we're all used to seeing, super spiky with those deceptively gorgeous purple flowers at the top) has one of the highest nutritional values for grazing animals! For obvious reasons, they simply chose not to eat it and therefore, their stomach systems cannot tell the brain to continue seeking and eating it! Did you also know that grazers will follow a certain grazing order per their needs and plant-diets? Yes, it's totally real, one type of grazing animal will eat only certain plants and move on leaving plenty behind (yeah, I didn't even know that animals could eat from a patch of "grass" so specifically) for the next round and the next round of grazers. 

At Sterling for example, the kids and lambs along with the Llama are first in line for prime grazing, behind them the draft horses, and last of the grazers are the cows. The chickens are actually sent in after all the other animals to clean out the grubs and bugs from all the manure left behind because this process of feed/drop makes for the most fertile and rich compost needed for the specific lands up here! Isn't that just AMAZING!? I mean, who learns this kind of stuff in the first place (I'm talking our Grandpa's great-great-great-Grandpa TOTALLY knew what was up)!!!

So the class has decided to begin an experiment based on the 10+ year research studies of a local farmer who has proven not only do grazing animals learn from each other, learn from their own internal communication systems, but they can be taught to eat outside of their comfort zone/normal dietary selection in a mere 10 days! The class chose to begin training the kids, lambs, and the llama to start eating the Canadian thistle (it's abundant up there and very good for them, just a little uncomfortable). So they set themselves a schedule, each day they'll break up the thistle from tiny to gradually larger pieces and throw it in with a "treat." Within 10 days, the animals will know what it is that they're actually eating (eventually the treats will be taken out completely) and they'll actually begin seeking it out on their own in the pastures (have no fear, the woman's study showed that she's never once in her 10+ years of researching this subject seen an animal get internally injured from eating prickly plants)!

I was quietly chuckling to myself for much of the morning thinking, who gets this excited about GRASS and DUNG?! I DO!!! It's not unlike Steve's super excitement over light bulbs and insulation (he even said to me at one point, now I know what it's like to finally have found the one thing that's so seemingly mundane to the rest of the world but just grips you with fascination and feeds that insatiable hunger to keep learning)! I can't wait to be taking this class myself. The whole morning I was wishing I had brought my notebook and camera but I didn't want to interrupt the real classmates as they were learning (at sunrise) and because I thought that we'd be moving the animals, I didn't want to have to keep track of a bunch of little things that could be lost, trampled, or dirtied and ruined. But you bet your bottom dollar I went right home and added the class title to my little list of "Classes I definitely want to take."

After class was over, I went back home and enjoyed a lovely little breakfast with Phyllis. I just love this woman!

The rest of my morning was spent in Literature of the Rural Experience; another class I thoroughly enjoyed! They have been reading My Antonia which I remember reading ages ago in junior high or high school. I certainly don't remember having the same appreciation for the story as these students had which made me want to read it again now that I'm in a much more mature, confident part of life.

One thing I haven't really been mentioning about these classes, aside from wildly interesting and gripping course material, these class sizes are 3, 6, 8 (I think there were about 8 students max in the Farmstead Arts class which was the biggest class size I've seen yet). There are 3 students in this literature class and there were only about 6 or so in the morning's grazing class. I just can't get over the amazing connections being developed here. With a class size of 4, there's no way you'll be lost in the crowd because there isn't one. I truly believe that Sterling wants nothing more than ultimate success in all of their students and therefore, they've built this gorgeous method for which it becomes inevitable.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in the Sterling library (testing it for it's studious/motivational environment; it passed). I had plenty of homework for my online literature class back home that I've been putting off in my pure awe of everything Vermont/Sterling. Not wanting to waste the rest of my semester, I forced myself to sit down and just get it done (plus, Phyllis has been on me like any Grandma would be "to keep it up, stick with it")!

On my way there, I ran across the Driving Lab class (yet another one I cannot wait to get into)! I haven't taken a lot of pictures today but I made sure to grab some of the horses I am so inexplicably enthralled with!

Thursday, August 4

July et al

I'm working to get the blog fully caught up in the very near future and learning that even though I'm long winded with most of my life (and speech) I don't necessarily have to be so on the blog. This is important because being long-winded = putting off the journaling and documenting of each day or each worthy event = building up of topics to be covered that are no less worthy of note when I finally do sit down and write about them = overwhelming load on my already stressed out life and I just don't have the motivation to continue in this perpetual "catch up" style that I hate.

So here's some other amazing things that have happened recently that I've been wanting to share (and without excuse, most will be sharing through photos because pictures really are worth thousands of words).

July 10, 2011
FREE tickets in the 15th row to see Sarah McLachlan with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra!

The latest on the knitting front: well, the beach wrap (or Bee Trap depending where you're from apparently!) didn't get completed in time for me to fully wrap it up for my mom's birthday but she loved it all the same. Admittedly, it's still not quite finished but it's getting there and I'm loving it! Having mom root me on with her wild excitement over the piece helped immensely as I told her the woes I experienced with it and how I always wind up hating my works because of things like that!

 After I complete the lacy edging, I just have to block it out and send it off to Florida!
Speaking of Mom's birthday, the party went wonderfully and everyone had a great time. Unfortunately, as is seemingly always the case, I didn't get any pictures (everyone else was working their camera's so hopefully I'll get some soon).

I wound up spending almost 2 full weeks down in Florida with my mom, it was loverly!

The Sunday night that Steve was there with us, it was just the three of us and Mom took us down to the beach for the weekly Sunday drum circle jam sunset worship! It was so much fun!
This guy was my super favorite (aside from the awesome
children of course)! He was so hoppy and wiggly, I didn't
get any good film of him to share though....