Feathered Aspen


A Denver Life

A Little of This, A Little of That

In an effort to squeeze every last, delicious drop of freedom out of our last weeks of unemployment, adventuring, and general lawlessness, we have spent our time crafting, camping, hiking, socializing, and gardening to our hearts’ content. The garden is now a jungle (Denver is thinking about re-zoning just our yard), we’ve eaten buckets and buckets of greens, sampled dozens of sweet peas, and snipped our first large, gorgeously un-blemished zuchini. In the following post, I’ve made an attempt to summarize some of the highlights from our other pursuits:


I can barely believe that we have already been married for two years. When we stop to think about those years, we marvel at all things that we’ve managed to fit into such a short time, and yet, it does feel brief. We’ve been together for seven years (seven?!) now, and although these two years of marriage aren’t even half of those years, they have been two of the best. He is the best partner in adventure, travel, and life I could ever hope for or dream of.

Joshua and I fell in love when we were 17, and we have been lucky enough to continue falling in love with each other as we grow older – and sometimes wiser, sometimes not. No matter what else – the things that go wrong or get worse – this, us, gets better.

For our anniversary, Joshua made me the most awesome card using the comic strip function on his Mac, and he bought me a subscription to BUST, so that I may continue to betty-fy our lives. In return, I made him an apron and chef hat with the words, “It’s Business Time,” embroidered across the front of the apron. Joshua can’t wait until our next pizza night.

After a few hours of studying Spanish at our favorite cafe, we made reservations at Duo, a french-inspired eatery, and gussied up. Joshua wore his Fedora at my request, and I rocked one of my silk tops from Kathmandu.

Duo was delicious, and with E.’s generous donation, we ordered a half bottle of wine. For an appetizer, we had a pesto and watercress tartlett (which made our eyes roll back in our heads with ecstasy), and for entrees, we ordered the sea bass in an impossibly delicious cream sauce and roasted vegetables on couscous in tangine sauce. Both were incredible.

Back at home, a late afternoon rainshower had cooled off the house, and as we fell asleep, the breeze came in from our window, smelling of tomatoes from our garden.

Hat and Apron

Joshua picked out the pattern and fabric, and I produced a hat and apron, made to order. The apron was lacking a little pizazz, so I embroidered, “It’s Business Time,” in honor of one of Joshua’s favorite Flight of the Concords songs. Now, he looks even more handsome when he tosses pizza dough like a pro.


In other crafty news, much of my creative energies have been targeted toward Ms. Stacy P, teacher of a Denver charter school that requires all of its employees to wear collars.

I know you just gasped when you read that. I know I did. When Stacy told me, I considered the proverbial fashion gauntlet to have been thrown down. Shirking feelings of devastation, remorse, and dismay, we bravely went where no fashionista has dared to go before: collared-land.

After a number of visits to thrift stores, a couple of on-line tutorials on how to add collars onto shirts, and even a foray into removable-dickie-collars, I am very pleased to report that Stacy has an enviable, funky, and very collared (which sounds slightly politically incorrect) wardrobe. Now she just has to win over some of her charter-school-square co-workers.

Work Out Classes

I’m afraid to put this out into cyberspace, but in the name of fearless honesty, I will admit that I have injured my foot by running barefoot. But now, before you feel validated in your skepticism, let me first say that this was a user error. I am to blame. Not barefoot running.

After 10 miles of barefoot running over the span of three days, I began to feel a sharp pain in my transverse arch (the stretch between my pinkie toe and heel). I knew running wasn’t an option, so I called up Stacy and roped her into joining 24 Hour Fitness with me.

Since then, I’ve been working out like a maniac and taking classes on offer, including Body Pump, Step, and Turbo Kick. In Body Pump, I completed my first bench presses, and therefore experienced considerable chest pain the next five days. In Step, I made a fool of my uncoordinated self in front of some very talented old ladies and coordinated gay men. They were beautiful in all of their synchronicity; I was not.

This morning, Stacy and I showed up for Turbo Kick. While requiring some coordination, I was able to keep up much better, and during the super-speed tae-bo-esque Turbo Kick sequence, I believe my heart rate may have spiked up into the 200 bpm range. Consider me a convert.

Pizza Night

Two Fridays ago, Joshua treated Stacy, Kyle, Brian, Brittaney, and me to another lip-smackin’, pizza-lovin’ affair. Among my favorite moments from this night:

1. Watching my husband toss pizza dough. It’s pretty attractive.
2. Drinking margaritas with Stacy and getting rather trashed.
3. Explaining the role of Diva Cups in the menstrual cycle to a room full of people.
4. Playing “Loaded Questions,” a game the Devanes brought over.
5. Laughing so hard that I fell off my chair and my abs hurt the next day.

Green Mountain

On Sunday, we gathered the As, Devanes, and Ps for a reprisal and drove up past Boulder to hike up Green Mountain. Although the trail from parking lot to summit and back is only 4.5 miles, it took us nearly four hours. The first half was comparable to a stairmaster, and once we arrived at the top, a lightening storm rolled in. We took a peak and then beat a hasty retreat.

Collegiate Peaks Camping/ Mt. Yale

On Tuesday, the Devanes picked us up, and we droved to Buena Vista through the rain. Despite the foreboding forecast, we arrived at Collegiate Peaks Campground as the last raindrops fell. The rain held off all night, and then, the next morning at 5:30 AM, we ate a quick breakfast and headed for the trailhead to Mt. Yale.

The path from trailhead to summit covers roughly 4.5 miles, and it took us just under 4 hours to make it to the peak of Mt. Yale. Although clouds and mist shrouded the tops of the mountains and hikers who were returning from their summit told us that they hadn’t seen a thing from the top, we ran into some serious luck. About 5 minutes after we arrived at the top, the clouds parted, and all of a sudden, it was a clear day. The view was spectacular. Buena Vista sprawled out to the East, and to the North, we could see Mt. Harvard. In the South, Mt. Princeton stood tall, and to the west, we could see the tall, snowy backbone of the Rockies.

The hike itself was very nice. The first part traverses streams and walks through trees that gradually thin until you arrive at treeline. Above treeline, marmots perch on boulders, and peaks rise up on the abbreviated horizon.

The last hour before the summit begins the climb in earnest, and the last 15 minutes include a scramble over boulders. The scramble wasn’t particularly scary, and I would say that I have an average to healthy fear of precipitous drops.

8 hours after we had set off, we arrived back at the trailhead, and after a short drive back to our campsite, we spent the afternoon playing games, snacking, and talking. Definitely one of the best days of the summer.

A Weekend with the Ps

We returned to Denver on Thursday, cleaned up, stowed away our stuff, and laid low, giving our muscles a chance to recover (besides Mt. Yale, I had just completed my first bench presses, and Joshua had just run 13 miles – 8 miles barefoot). That night, we headed over to the Ps for a delicious P concoction of quinoa, kimchi, egg, and authentic soy sauce. While Joshua and Kyle talked logistics for camping, Stacy and I spent a girly hour admiring her new collared (I know, I can’t help myself) wardrobe and mystifying collection of glimmery powders and instruments that beautify.

On Friday, we piled into the car and headed for the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Joshua had called ahead to make reservations, but he was informed that reservations need to be made four days before-hand. So, crossing our fingers, we entered the first campground. All 100 sites were full. Then we checked out three more campgrounds. They were all full too, all 400+ sites.

Feeling quite dismayed and grasping at straws, we turned down a random Forest Service Road. Driving past cabins full of lucky people who own cabins, we stopped to gape over an Elk with a rack the size of a Buick. He was stupendous.

We drove on for a couple more miles, and then, wonder of wonders, we stumbled upon an informal dispersed campsite with other campers and – voila! – room to spare.

The next morning, we decided to pack up. Although the site had been a boon, Stacy hadn’t slept well, and after driving so much yesterday, we were a good distance from the trails we wanted to hike.

Following Joshua’s master plan, we drove to the trailhead of Mt. Audobon, a 13er in the Indian Peaks wilderness. When we arrived, a Forest Ranger asked us our intentions, and when we informed her, she asked us if we had our snow gear and then leveled her hand somewhere in the range of her forehead, to indicate the amount of snow.

Kyle looked down at his homemade footwear. He’d forgotten his vibrams. The rest of us looked down at our shorts.

We decided to try anyway. We could always turn around if it got bad, and it’s a good thing we did. Of all the hikes we’ve done, this was one of my favorites. Although we did cross a couple of snowy patches, they were hard-packed and easy to follow. Kyle, like the crazy person he is, hiked most of the 9 miles barefoot.

Quite a bit of the trail was above treeline, and the relatively clear day offered fabulous views. On our way up, we met an older gentleman and woman, and we bonded over recent trips to Nepal. We all agreed that this almost as good, the only barrier being our access to dal Bhaat.

On our way down, we got caught in a lightening storm, and we flew down the trail, desperate for treeline. Luckily, we made it back to the trailhead safe and sound, and although we all felt as wet and smelly as our happy dogs, we were definitely high on life.

That night, we returned to Denver, made Huevos Rancheros in the P kitchen, and played an unforgettable round of Cranium (Stacy’s new favorite game).

Starting Work

So that’s it. That’s what we’ve been up to. Tomorrow, bright and early, Joshua and I drive to our first day of Professional Development. Work begins. I’m actually coping rather well. I can’t say that I won’t miss our year (plus) of freedom and adventure, but I’m not freaking out, either. I’m feeling good. We’ve got friends. We live in Denver, and we’ve got each other (and Oscar and Thibodeaux!). Life is good.


Tangerine Tank

I confess that this has become a bit of an addiction. Yes. I spent four hours sewing today. Yes. I spent six hours sewing yesterday. Yes. I’m strongly considering beginning my next pattern tonight. Above you see the back of a tank top I made using the vintage McCall’s Pattern no. 6749. I chose view B, and although the mannequin madame looks very sleek in the illustration, the finished product is a bit shapeless. This could have a little something to do with the fact that I have a size 14 pattern, and I tried to make it smaller… Say, a vintage size 8 (which, after three successive projects – the first at a size 12 which was massive, the second at a size 10 which was also quite loose, and now, a heavily docotored size 14 which fits a little bit like a paper sack – I have ascertained to be my correct size. This is nothing if not trial and error.).

A bit baggish, but I love the color! It’s tangerine! Also, the slippery fabric was a bit trixie… The center seam in the back is slightly puckered.


Unspeakable Amounts of Greens and La Falda Ora

Here are a few images of my most recent sewing adventure, Simplicity Pattern 2226. I chose an ochre/gold polyester fabric with crimples (not a real word, but one that I believe should be added to our vocabulary). This is version C of the skirt.
Cute pockets. And, unlike the yoke, which was a slippery little sucker, they were fun to sew.
Miss 2226 is supposed to sit at my waistline. I measured and decided I was a size 10. Finished product sits about four inches below my waistline. I think I’ve done something wrong.
You can’t tell, but this zipper adventure did not go nearly as well as my first zipper adventure. (At the bottom of the zipper, there was much sailor-cussing, seam ripping, re-sewing, seam ripping again, and finally, a needle and thread to soldier in the sucker.) On the pattern it’s supposed to be hidden, but oh well. I still love it.

Josh asks, “how much does it cost to make a skirt like that?”

My response, “well, it’s no skirt from Goodwill, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Fabric: $3.99 a yard, on clearance. 2 yards.
Notions: $1 zipper, $1 gold thread.
Pattern: $9.95 on sale.
Labor: 2 hours of cutting (while watching trash TV. I refuse to tell you what show it was, and I have Joshua sworn to secrecy.) 6 hours of pinning, sewing, etc. 8 total hours of cussery (also not a word) and joy 🙂

As we were backpacking, I was fantasizing about sewing. My first completed project, the 50s Housewife Dress, gave a me such buzz, and I was tweaking for another fix. However, apparently sewing is a bit like heroine, and just as I snipped my last thread on the skirt, I was already scheming my next project. It’s time to break out the vintage patterns!

In other news, I have conquered Weed Invasion 2011. It took me 8 hours and a sunburn, but now we can see our sprouting rows of winter veggies. The tomatoes have politely seceded their burgeoning monopoly and additional branches have been tied to the trellis.

And the greens! We’ve been having salad for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I shall never grow sick of peppery mustard greens and mesclun. Delish 🙂


Scissor Happy

Joshua, Stacy, Kyle and I went to the Denver Roller Dolls Roller Derby today. We had a bunch of fun, and we even thought up a couple of would-be Roller Derby names for Stacy and me: Exstaci and Mrs. Derty. Anyway, I’ve been looking forward to going to the Derby for a while now, and I took the chance to dress up, and Joshua snapped the photo of me in my duds (above). The necklace is from Dharamsala, and the silk shift is one of my precious finds from Kathmandu.
Tonight, I finished my dress for Eamon’s Bar Mitzvah. Among the accomplishments: pin-tucks, darts, zipper, stand up collar, interfacing, facing, and sleeves. All went according to plan except for the sleeves. Trixie little f****ers. One is slightly longer than the other.
Here’s a view from the front.
Me: scissor happy; DIY proud.
Another gamine scissor shot 🙂 Joshua says, “you look like a 50s housewife!” I say, “mission accomplished. Do you mind picking up your socks and doing the dishes, sweetie?”

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Pin-Tucks and Zippers

Here’s my dress for my brother, Eamon’s bar mitzvah. I picked out the fabric and pattern this winter, but after I cut out the fabric, I was paralyzed with fear and moved not further. This week, I pulled out the sewing machine and got to work. It’s not finished (it still needs a hem and sleeves), but this photos shows you the zipper (which gave me nightmares). I’ve never attached a zipperfoot or put a zipper into anything before, but here’s my first attempt, and it looks pretty good!

Front view of pin-tucks, pockets, and bodice darts.

I’m making the one in the middle with the short sleeves.

These are some of the vintage patterns I found at the Salvation Army in Red Wing. I absolutely adore the one in the upper right hand corner.

I’ve been crafty too! Kyle’s mom, Gaylynn, was visiting Kyle and Stacy for the past couple of weeks, and she’s a master seamstress. We went to Hancock Fabrics, and I went a little crazy finding fabric for some of the vintage patterns that I had bought on the cheap from the Salvation Army in Red Wing. In the picture above, I’ve arranged the fabrics I bought and the patterns I intend to use. I’m going to make a couple shirts with the tangerine fabric, the short short sleeved dress with the black and white and magenta fabric, and a skirt with the magenta and ochre fabric. Someday. Hopefully. One at a time.

Although I wasn’t able to finagle a private lesson, Gaylynn did give me a bunch of tips, and I’ve been inspired to complete a dress that I started this winter. I haven’t finished yet, but I’ve posted the photos of the half-finished product 🙂