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archive for April 2010

wizard within wands

Friday, April 30th, 2010

We had some of our favorite people on the planet over to our house for a nice meal and some catching up last month. There are those individuals with whom you can never have enough time to talk about everything on your minds, everything going on in your lives, all of the jokes and stories. Somehow in conversation, the topic of Harry Potter came up which led to the discovery that our friend makes wands.

Makes what?


lovely, elegant wands

M showed me her website, Wizard Within Wands, and I was hooked. I knew I wanted to order two for my nephew and niece. Heck, I wanted to order one for myself. I have enormous admiration for people who make things with their hands, make things from scratch. So I asked if I could come down to Boulder one day to see how she makes the wands and to maybe take some pictures.

variety of handles and wood

and you thought ollivander was a master wandmaker…

It all started because her daughter (an avid Harry Potter fan) wanted – nay, needed – a wand. And M thought, “Well how hard can that be to make?” The first one was hand-carved, hand-sanded, and a little warped. As anyone who takes a hobby to the next step knows, that was just the beginning. M learned from her early mistakes and she began to acquire more knowledge, skills, and yes – beautiful, gorgeous machining tools. [I’m quite in love with their workshop.] I watched, mesmerized by the fluid motion with which she shaped the wand on the lathe as she explained how careful she is about sourcing sustainable wood and following green practices.

wands on display

each comes in its own crushed velvet bag

These wands are a hit with the local elementary school crowd. Each one is a work of art. I stood there admiring the wands and their details – from the beautiful wood grain to the shaping to the designs on the base of some handles. M has always been creative, crafty, handy, and resourceful. She told me the more she delved into making the wands, the more she learned that you can make almost anything. I love that about her.

A wand is a great way to harnesses a child’s imagination and creativity – or perhaps set them free. If you are looking for a beautifully hand-crafted gift to ignite the imagination of your favorite wizard, fairy, or other wand-bearing person (because adults want them too!!), then have a gander at Wizard Within Wands, a local Boulder business.

discover your inner wizard

vanilla extract

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Recipe: homemade vanilla extract

As I get ready for another shoot, I find myself short on time – again. Consider it your lucky day because this post will be short on words, so you can scroll the photos and see a quick and oh so easy recipe at the end! We have snow in the forecast. A cold front is moving in with winds and that rain/snow mixture and I realized if I didn’t get myself down to Boulder before the storm, I’d miss out on the lovely local blooms. Here is some of our local color in case you think I always travel elsewhere to get my photo on :) Colorado is starting to burst with color and it will continue through October.

there are many different colors and kinds of tulips on pearl street

flowering trees are going gangbusters at the public library

and let’s not forget the lilacs

You can see the rest of the photos on the photoblog: tulips and flowering trees and lilacs.

I had read so much about homemade vanilla extract on other blogs that I knew it was my destiny. When I ordered a few hundred vanilla beans and gave dozens away to friends and family, I still had about 80 left. I’ve been making my way through the stash, but a few months ago – right around the time I made all of that beloved Buddha’s Hand Citron Vodka – I had lots of cheap vodka on hand and remembered what was stored in my cupboard.

when you have a lot of vanilla beans

slice them open lengthwise

**Jump for more butter**

seafood andouille gumbo

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Recipe: seafood andouille gumbo

Thanks to all of the good folks who entered to win a Wii console and a Wii Fit Plus package! While we normally have Kaweah pick our giveaway winners, we gave her a break this time. Actually, it’s because we weren’t sure if the Kaweah Method would pass muster with the law-talkin’ guys at Nintendo. But honestly, if you’ve ever met Kaweah, you’d realize right away that she is truly random.


So let’s get on with it! gave us 393 out of 516 comments. Our winner is comment #393 – Karna! Congratulations Karna! I’ll contact you via email to get your mailing address so Nintendo can FedEx your cool and exciting new system to you! I have to say I was really impressed that so many of you want to get active and fit. Even if you didn’t win the system, I still encourage you to get out there and do something. Whether you buy a Wii of your own or just start walking with friends, doing some exercises in your own home, trying out some yoga classes, or signing up for some sports teams to get you engaged and moving – it’s good for you. I’m cheering you on from here!

I was feeling pretty good on Friday, then had a big crash and burn Saturday (I am told it is not uncommon to hit a wall on the third day after surgery). Reality never seems to be able to keep up with the plans I have in my head. By the way, thanks for all of your sweet recovery wishes. I think I’m finally on the mend. At least I was feeling good enough for us to run a few errands in town and meet up with friends at The Kitchen Upstairs (part of The Kitchen) for Tasting Hour.

jeremy tried a flight

two of my favorite things: food and friends

Cold, fat rain drops plopped on my head as we stepped into a gray and wet Pearl Street. I like the rain. I guess I wasn’t this enthusiastic about it when I lived in Ithaca, NY. There is such a thing as too much rain. Here in the West, the rain is a nice change up from our typical gorgeous and sunny weather. Boulder is right at the transition into Spring where that bright green fuzz you see on the trees will burst into full on leaves in the next week. I drove us home in the rain, then the slush, then the snow. When we let Kaweah out for the night, it was snowing at a good clip.

takes my breath away every time i see it

What better weather for a hot bowl of gumbo? I’ve had this recipe dog-eared for a long time and I figured I’d make it when I thought to look for fresh okra. Lo and behold, I found it at H-Mart last week! Considering that I don’t even know when okra season is, this was a magical thing. I grabbed a pound of the stuff. I call it the stuff because I’ve never cooked okra before and I’ve only had it on three occasions – once by accident (the NASA Langley cafeteria – that was interesting), once in a sushi bar (tempura fried, can anything be bad if it is tempura fried?), and once pickled because my friend Melinda is crazy about pickled okra.

onion, pepper, green onions, okra, tomatoes

okra looks happy, doesn’t it?

**Jump for more butter**