Sunday, September 19, 2010


Hello readers!

I have changed my blog over to a new URL on blogger until I can make a total switch (one day) to a new platform.

If you've been reading along here I hope you'll follow me over to my new page: Peonies & Pistols.  It's all the same, just with a new URL!

So, please change your RSS feeds and bookmarks to reflect the new site.

Thanks for following!

Friday, September 17, 2010

A bird in the hand

Or, I should say, a bird in the house, which is what we had a couple days ago.

Todd I were sitting peacefully working at the dining room table when whoosh! a bird came swooping through the dining room!  It bumped its way around the chandelier and our heads before flying off to the sun room.

We took off after it, including Rigby who was very interested in the lil' guy.  We found the bird resting on a window and...

We didn't quite know what to do.  We didn't have anything handy to catch it with, you know, like a net, but Todd found an old towel that we thought might do.  He sneaked up behind the bird slooooowly and ever so gently wrapped the towel around it and headed outside.

Todd sat the bird on the stoop to let it recover and do its thing.  Poor guy, he was stressed!  He was panting and didn't have the energy to even pull himself upright...

Finally, after a couple minutes the bird got it together and sat up...

Rigby had been watching the scene with extreme interest.  In the sun room he stood on point, staring intently with nostrils flaring, as Todd approached the bird.  And he wouldn't go inside until the bird flew off, which it did moments later.

Stay tuned for the next animal intruder story.  I saw a mouse in our kitchen!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


What the heck is Picklefritz?

Well, after dating Todd for a while now and visiting Wisconsin a few times I am convinced Wisconsinites have a diet of mostly cheese, beer, and pickled foods.

Todd's not too picky and enjoys just about everything, and in true Wisconsin form he does love a pickled something or other, to the point that his grandparents used to call him Picklefritz.  

He really wants "us," a.k.a., me, to try canning, which I'm not opposed to and have always wanted to learn anyway.  His mom even gave me all her old canning stuff so I have no excuse but to get my can on.

So, over the weekend, I decided to try my hand at it.

I chose a quick pickling recipe I've had hidden away in my recipe books for a while now.  It's called quick pickling because it doesn't require the boiling of the jars and all that jazz.  You just throw it all together in a jar and let it sit in the fridge for a week magic!...pickled...whatever you chose.

In this particular instance the recipe called for green beans, which we had in Old Fashioneds at his grandma's house last year.

It is super simple, too!  

The beans as they're getting snapped and thrown in the jars...

Beans swimming in spicy pickling juice.  This recipe calls for LOTS of garlic and some dried hot red chilis...

And Todd can't keep his hands out of them!  To really "pickle" they're supposed to sit for a week, but he keeps sneaking beans.  I have no confidence they will make it to the end of the week.  But I can see why.  This recipe is truly fantastic!  And, as I mentioned, amazingly simple!  

I highly recommend it!  You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New look

I'm sure you probably noticed the change in the blog.

This is going to be a gradual change done in stages.

First, the name has changed. 

Next will be the look.  The current header is only temporary until (hopefully) my coworker can whip me up a really cool one.  This will be at least another few weeks, however, because he just left on a two-week honeymoon.

And after that - the URL, which is the most out-of-date thing about this blog.  It is no longer my Colorado Countdown and hasn't been for quite some time.  I just couldn't hit on a new blog identity - until recently.

I didn't want my new blog to have the same theme as the last one - "big city girl" returns to the West.  I wanted it to incorporate Todd more and it to be about our comfortable, happy little life.  

Peonies are one of my favorite flowers.  I love how old fashioned and homey they are.  Jeff M. will probably never read my blog (not that he does now) because of the peony reference.  I had a large peony in our garden in D.C., and he wasn't a big fan (I think secretly he loves it though...)  Peonies are also the feminine and pistols is obviously more masculine, representing Todd.  

Eventually, I am going to move the blog to Wordpress and find a place to host it.  Blogger is making me crazy and it's time to move on.  I want greater capabilities and pages and my own URL without "blogspot" in it.

So, the change has begun.

Please be patient as I make all these new moves.  It's going to take some time to get it how I want it, but I think it will definitely be worth it!     

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Five alarm

I love fireplaces.

Ever since we moved into our new house Todd and I have been itching to try our living room fireplace.  This isn't a modern, new-fangled gas burner.  Oh, no!  This fireplace operates on old school chunks of wood.  I think gas fireplaces have their, well, places, but nothing beats the crackle and smell of a wood burner.   

The cool temperatures we've had lately gave us a good excuse last night to give it a go.  Here's Todd lighting it up...


The set up...


Success!  A very happy evolved man...


Rigby was not so happy.  He has a weirdness about fire.  He doesn't like it, or to be around it, or to hear it, or to see it...


But we were able to convince him to come near the flame with some well positioned dog treats.  Ok.  He still didn't really buy into it...


And then there was this...the smoke.  Being our first fire in this fireplace it's obviously a little trial and error, but I'm surprised our alarm didn't go off...


While Todd fixed the smoke I made dinner and dug in.  Whole wheat pasta with shrimp, olive oil, salt, pepper, halved cherry tomatoes, and sauteed onions, mushrooms and garlic...


And the all important wine...


I say again: I love fireplaces!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Oh, there ain't no lumberjacks in the city..."

That was the first line to a song my sisters and I made up on a trip to the mountains once when we were younger. 

We had an entire musical going on complete with a picnic table as a Conestoga wagon, male and female singing parts, and typical musical dance moves like synchronized "cartwheels" across the picnic table benches.

Oh yes, we gave Rogers and Hammerstein a run for their money!

But, as proven by the following photos, there are indeed lumberjacks in the city: Todd being one of them.

Todd has spent a lifetime working with wood - marking, pruning, cultivating and cutting trees.  AND he's from Wisconsin.  All he's missing is a big blue ox.

He's been itching to go a cuttin' ever since we moved in to the Casper house, which has a giant wood burning fireplace.  So, he and my old friend Jeff S. went out a couple weeks ago on a "man date" to chop and bring in some wood. 

They got quite the load!  Jeff really wants to use their new fireplace as a main source of heat, while I think we're only going to have an occasional fire.  You know, the kind you sit around sipping red wine while the winter winds howl... 

Some action shots...

I just liked this shot of Todd's lumberjack boot with the wood chips spraying...

Once Todd got the logs into more manageable chunks he'd split 'em by hand.  He's got such amazing aim!  More times than not he landed that ax right in the same spot.  I'd be all over the place I think.  And yes, we are doing this in our alley.  We had several neighbors stop to chat - and admire our pile of wood!

A perfect split...

Rigby's not too fond of the chainsaw.  He ran to me several times because I wasn't making such scary noises...

He is, however, very fond of this "stick".  Look at his cute little tongue go!  

The swirly colors of the bark on this chunk remind me of the hot springs in Yellowstone... 

I was the stacker.  This is the beginning of our wood pile...

And this is the end result!  Todd proudly told me I did a good job stacking (which is apparently a skill in itself) and that I could be his LumberJILL...

Males: Oh, there ain't no lumberjacks in the city!
Females: Oh, there ain't no lumberjacks in the city!
Males: So, come on down and find a girl that's pretty...
Together: Cuz there ain't no lumberjacks in the city!

The choreography really brings it together...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Somewhere over the rainbow

Check out this rainbow!  It was so bright and...solid! 

Todd even yelled at the neighbors through their window to come out and see how neat it was.  I think they were in the middle of dinner...

Up close...

I love a good rainbow!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Frontier Days booty

Cheyenne Frontier Days just isn't complete for me unless I find a special jewelry purchase or two at the Indian Village.

My goal is to get at least one thing each year I volunteer to mark my time at CFD.  I've been doing pretty well, but sadly, I lost a ring I bought a couple years ago.  It just disappeared - and oddly so has the post where I'm SURE I had a picture of it.  Cue the Twilight Zone music...

This year, I attempted to make up for my broken heart over the cool lost ring and purchased three things.  I couldn't help it!  There were some irresistible deals I just couldn't pass up!

There are so many stunning pieces in the Village, but I have never spent over $100 on any one thing.  One day, I will.  I have plans to save a little each month so when CFD rolls around one year I can buy, say, a Squash Blossom.  Or a turquoise and silver belt...  Or a truly dramatic turquoise and/or coral cuff - one that makes you look like a superhero!  Oh...the wish list goes on.

My purchases this year:

The double strand necklace was my first purchase.  I was very attracted to the more rough cut turquoise this year and while I've always eyed pieces like the necklace and ring below I ultimately have chosen jewelry that was a little more symmetrical.  The second purchase was the ring.  After staring at my friend Rachel's finger all week with a similar ring on it I decided to see what I could find.  I found this little gem and declared I was done.

But...then I decided to go back one last time to find Todd a hat band.  He has a cowboy hat as part of his work uniform and I thought he'd enjoy something for it.  The beaded band is what I ultimately found, but only after another irresistible find... That pendant.

The pendant on the left was a super steal!  If you hit up the Village toward  the end of the week the vendors are more likely to deal.  The vendor at that booth gave Rachel and I 50 percent off anything we wanted plus an additional discount for being volunteers. I wasn't even intending to shop for myself that day!  I just wanted a hat band!  But with that kind of deal I wasn't about to just walk away.

Then there were the three turquoise drop necklaces I got for my sisters and mom.  They were too good of a price!  And were really pretty.

So, everyone got a little piece of CFD.  And since I didn't buy it all for me I'm hoping for some awesome shopping karma next year...  and a Squash Blossom...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mellencamp melancholy

Tonight John Mellencamp and Bob Dylan are playing at the Casper Events Center.

I desperately want to go for Mellencamp.  I don't really care about Dylan.

You see, John Mellencamp was the first tape I ever got.  It was from Santa in my stocking when I was in 2nd grade, I believe.  That same Christmas my sisters got The Pointer Sisters and Bruce Springsteen.  Can you say children of the '80s or what?

I have had a mild obsession with Mellencamp ever since.  For awhile I owned about every tape you could of his.  I played his songs on repeat.  And when we moved from Indiana, his home state as well, to Colorado his music just meant something more.

I have never seen him in concert but it hasn't been for trying.  Fate just won't allow me to go!  Once, when I was in D.C., he played in Virginia.  I wanted to go, but couldn't get out of work in time.  Thank heavens I hadn't already bought a ticket!

Another time he was playing in Colorado.  I think this was right around when I had just moved back West and was jobless.  I couldn't justify buying a ticket and driving to Denver when I had no way to pay for it.  How was I so responsible in my judgement??

Tonight is strike three.  I heard a couple months ago he was coming and I was determined to go.  But we had the Jackson wedding last weekend, I have a flat tire that needs replaced, I have to save for some trips coming up...

I just can't go.

My coworker Matt sent me an email earlier saying he had heard Dylan was playing and he wondered if I was going to go.  I had no sooner explained I'd rather see ol' John Cougar, but couldn't justify the price to go when Matt emailed me a message he had seen on Twitter...

Matt's email:

I was just handed two tickets to a Bob Dylan concert in Casper TONIGHT at 6:30pm! Who wants 'em? They're free!
Find @UWInfoDesk on twitter!!!! HURRRYYYYYYYYYYYY
The first part is the actual tweet, the second is Matt's command to me.

I have never searched for, followed, and tweeted someone so fast.  I told Matt I'm sure I set a record.

Turns out you have to pick them up in Laramie, which obviously doesn't make any sense for me.

So, here I am.  Struck with Mellencamp melancholy.

One day I will see him!

I hope this isn't three strikes and I'm out!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kitchen Cravings

I have been having cravings for ethnic foods lately, something I love eating a ton of, but isn't readily available in ol' Wyo.

I will say, however, Casper does seem to have a pretty good taste for something different.  There are several Asian restaurants here and lots of sushi - what I've really been wanting - and I've heard an Indian restaurant is supposed to be opening soon.  Naan bread and lamb I come!

I've realized though, if I want something different I'll probably have to make it.  I've got several recipes for Indian, Moroccan, Thai and other fun dishes, but haven't given many of them a try - mostly because I used to be able to just walk down the block and find a restaurant that suited any taste... at any time.

A couple nights ago, however, I made Pad Thai, a traditional Thai noodle dish with a little spice and lots of flavor.

Pad Thai is something I never really ordered at a restaurant because I think it's pretty bad for you there.  I have tried it though, so I know what it should taste like and the following recipe hit the nail on the head.  I was SO excited.  And I didn't feel bad eating it because I knew what all went in it.

And it didn't really call for any crazy ingredients I couldn't find - except dried, minced shrimp, which I just had to do without.  It didn't affect the taste any.

I think I found this recipe in Shape or Cooking Light or some other healthy magazine.  Enjoy!

Shrimp pad Thai
12 oz. rice vermicelli noodles (I used the very thin, almost Angel hair looking noodles.  It didn't come out bad,  but I had to double the sauce to cover everything and it still seemed a little short.  I think the next time I will use a wider rice noodle and will still likely double the sauce.)
1/3 cup peanut or vegetable oil
1 tbsp. minced garlic

Start doubling here:
8 oz. shrimp, peeled, deveined and not frozen
5 green onions cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups of bean sprouts, divided
1/3 cup Thai fish sauce (this stuff smells when you start cooking it, but you don't taste it later.)
2 tbsp. EACH ketchup and sugar
1 tsp. red chile flakes
2 large eggs slightly beaten

Cilantro leaves
(optional) roasted, unsalted peanuts
lime wedges

Soak the noodles in a large bowl of very hot water until soft, about 15 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Pour in oil.  Add garlic, shrimp, and green onions and cook about 2 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in 1 cup of bean sprouts, the fish sauce, ketchup, sugar, and chile flakes.

Push shrimp mixture to side of pan and carefully pour eggs onto the other side.  Let cook undisturbed for about 1 minute or until mostly solid, then quickly scramble with the other ingredients in the pan.

Drain noodles and add to shrimp mixture stirring thoroughly.

Transfer to plates.  Top with remaining sprouts, snipped cilantro and peanuts if desired.


Just like the restaurants!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Kind of like Johnny Cash and June Carter - only we didn't get married in a fever.

But my friend Kara did in Jackson Hole, Wyo., which is where Todd and I scooted up to for the weekend!  I was super excited to see her get married and be with all my old D.C., friends - and for Todd to see this part of the state, something he hasn't had a chance to do yet.

Todd and I had planned to camp Friday night in the Teton National Forest.  We've had a few attempts at camping this summer, but both have ended badly - one with us coiled up in the front of the truck and the last with us laid out in the back of the Subaru.

No luck again this weekend.  We forgot the tent.  Almost to Shoshoni, Todd asks, "We have the tent, right?" to which I replied, "I don't know...we do...right??"  I packed the car, yes, but Todd had piled all the gear by the front door before going to work.  I figured everything we needed was there - not at the bottom of the stairs.

Consequently, we crashed with my friend Lori in her hotel room.  Not quite roughing least not for us.  Lori may have a different opinion.

The Grand Tetons...!  Pretty, huh?

The same Tetons only much more sinister.  Todd snapped this on our way to Teton Village for the night-before reception...

We didn't see a moose.  Or a bear.  I am destined to never see a bear...

Ok, we saw one moose at the Mangy Moose bar in the Village.  But being stuffed and hung from the ceiling doesn't really count...

The next morning we headed to the town square and had breakfast at this great little place called Cafe Genevieve.  It was so cute - and good - and I was crazy jealous of the hostess' clothes.  We went back the next morning too and she looked even cuter than the day before!  I hate how everyone in Jackson is so effortlessly mountain-laid-back with style!  (Translation - I want their closets.)  We meandered through the Jackson farmers market...

And took pictures under the famous antler arches...

And more photos.  This was very game warden appropriate, don't you think...?

My friend Kara, the blushing bride...

The wedding was at the Tennis and Golf Club, which was nothing short of amazing.  What a backdrop for the bride, huh?

The D.C., fam!  This picture makes me so happy!  We're missing a few folks though...

Sunday morning Todd and I took a different route home.  On the way to Jackson we took the more northern route through Dubois, Wyo.  On the way back we dipped into Pinedale and Lander.  We stopped for some impromptu fishing outside Jackson...

The Great Outdoors...

I didn't fish because I didn't have a license.  A big no-no, particularly when your significant other is a game warden...

In Pinedale, Wyo., we stopped for lunch at the Wind River brewery...

And had a pretty nice time sampling beers and eating outside - until the bill came.  Our waitress, though nice, hadn't listened to a thing we said.  One order of the sampler - not two.  We got the bill cleaned up and moved along...

As we were heading into Lander, Wyo., the tire pressure light came on in my car.  Come to find out, we had a flat.  Seriously?!

Todd put the spare on in the parking lot of a convenience store...

And we were off!

Linds H. has a photo of this and I've always loved it.  So, I decided to copy her and take one of my own.  The sign is for a house at Sweetwater Station that has a barn full of books for sale.  I really wanted to stop in, but the time we lost fixing our flat meant the place was closed.  There's an interesting article on the ladies who run the shop on Wyofile...

FINALLY we pull into town on our spare and pass this scene on the way to the house...A reminder to Todd that work lurked just around the corner...

The one scratching makes me laugh...  Oh dear...