Saturday, February 28, 2009

Obsessed....perhaps slightly

Today we packed a picnic lunch and walked over in the sunshine to join Robin for a lunch date. Inside the arts building there are two giant ramps that our children have taken to running the entire length of them while squealing in delight. Robin and I can sit at one end of them and get in a decent visit and supervise our wild things at the same time, all the while catching glimpses from curious onlookers. 

We were perusing the bulletin board on our way back to the studio once the kids were sufficiently tired out from their ramp running and I pointed out a flyer seeking people with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) willing to participate in a study with the Psychology Department. We just happen to know the Dr. that had put out the call, hence the reason I probably took notice to the flyer. 

Robin chuckled and joked about his obsessiveness with clay, which has thus inspired me to blog tonight about our trip into Salt Lake City on thursday, just to clarify that he truly is obsessed. 

My brother Chris and Sarah had borrowed our vehicle to get themselves around while they were here in Utah this past week. We had arranged to drive down to SLC and pick up the car since they would be flying out at an incomprehensible time of day Friday morning. This way we were able to see them one more time, have supper with some friends and get out of Logan for an evening. 

Since we were going to the city anyways, our friend Joe had asked if we would make a stop in the industrial sector near the airport to pick up some materials that he had ordered thus saving him the 1.5 hour drive. We arrived at Harbinson Walker Refractories Company around 4 p.m. and had to cruise our way through a substantial warehouse district to find it. The attendant at the desk waved us around back and we drove our Jetta right up the ramp into a gigantic warehouse stacked from floor to ceiling. 

Robin's eyes lit up and his jaw fell open as he took in palette upon palette of refractory materials. Harbinson Walker is a business that specializes in high-grade fireproof ceramic refractory products and services for high-temperature applications. Hence, a wood firer's heaven. 

I teased him about his enthusiastic reaction to our short visit, but knowingly realize it won't be the last trip to Harbinson Walker for us DuPonts. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


My brother Chris and his girlfriend Sarah have come to visit us here in Utah! They've come to check out our digs, cuddle our kids and get a few turns in on their matching Faction skis. 

They flew into the SLC airport on Sunday afternoon, unfortunately in overcast skies which meant they didn't get to experience the stunning Utah mountains from the air. But their plan is to spend three days this week exploring those mountains on their skis.  

The first part of their visit was to get some quality DuPont time in. We had a full day yesterday with a trip north to some hotsprings in Idaho. The Maple Grove hotsprings are about an 
drive north of Logan, situated right on the edge of Bear River. The road into the pools was a bit sketchy, mostly because of the melting ice coupled with our balding tires, but a beautiful setting nonetheless. It rained for the most part of our time there but the mist and raindrops added to the experience. 

We hit the highway back south and decided on stop at an IHOP (International House of Pancakes) at Sarah's request. We all enjoyed a late afternoon feast of pancakes, complete with fruit and whipped toppings, but payed for it later. Once back home, we elected to go for a long walk around the USU campus to try and burn off our bellyaches. 

They've now headed south to ski at Alta resort and Snowbird and we'll meet up with them again on Thursday for a farewell supper in the big city. 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

25 random things about me

If you are a facebooker, then you may have come up against this challenge: Come up with 25 random facts about yourself. This is what I came up with......

  1. I have a hole in my heart.
  2. I have been hiking in Alaska, surfing in Costa Rica, sky diving in New Zealand and skinny dipping in Scandinavia.
  3. Robin and I first met when we were 16 in the stairwell of his high school - a mutual friend’s attempt to set us up. I ended up dating his best friend. Timing is everything. 
  4. When I walk, I only swing my right arm. my left arm remains stationary at my side. A physiotherapist discovered this when I was being treated for bursitis in my left heel. Weird!
  5. I sang Peggy Lee’s “Fever” in an underground jazz club once and secretly wish I could do that every weekend.
  6. I always cheat when I play Monopoly because I think the game takes too long to finish.
  7. I’ve never been very good at team sports. I tried to play field hockey in high school but ended up running all over the field after the ball with total disregard for playing my “position”. I fared much better at ski racing when it was just me and the clock.
  8. Sometimes I do things just because I like the sound of it; I once dated a guy because his nickname was “Bubba”, bought a bike because it was called a “Ditchpig” and dyed my hair red because the color name was “Cherry cola”.
  9. I am not a hot weather person and would way rather go on a ski holiday than sit on a beach and sweat.
  10. One of my favorite rituals is to sit down with a plump pomegranate and peel it entirely apart without eating a single seed until I’ve collected all the fruit, then I eat the whole bowl with a spoon. 
  11. I love my husband more than anything and would follow him to the ends of the earth, and I do.
  12. When I was 16 I lived on a small island in the middle of the Baltic Sea where I learned to speak Danish, gained 30 lbs and discovered that there was more to life than what brand of jeans you are wearing. I am forever grateful for that experience, and have a Danish flag tattoo as a souvenier.  
  13. I always wanted my first car to be a fern green 84’ Jetta VW with a ski rack. Instead my first vehicle was a mermaid blue 91’ 2WD Toyota truck. I now drive a silver 2004 TDI Jetta VW with a ski rack. Sweet! 
  14. I like to pretend that I know how to cut hair. I don’t. And I apologize to all those that have experienced this first hand.
  15. I almost lost a child at birth, cherish your children everyday.
  16. When I was growing up, my sister and I had nothing in common and I tried my hardest to be different than her in everyway. She is now one of my closest friends, my model for motherhood and the most giving and loving person I know. I would be lost without her.  
  17. I am a mouth breather.
  18. Sometimes I choose drama over logic, I figure it keeps life interesting.
  19. If I had an hour to myself I would spend it with a coffee and a pile of cookbooks.
  20. I never go to bed without first kissing my sleeping children goodnight.
  21. Some of the people I love the most, live the farthest away.
  22. I love to knit but only during cold weather months of the year. When I knit my feet move involuntarily with each stitch I make.
  23. I really want to have laser eye surgery but am still afraid.
  24. I like to buy my husband really good socks for Christmas each year and then wear them myself.
  25. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, oh wait – a jazz singer.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Project complete

well almost, I still have to sew the zipper in, but complete enough to have Roscoe model the sweater I made him. 

Like many of the promises that you make with yourself when you first become a parent;  I promise to never buy toys that require batteries, I promise to never take my kids to McDonalds, I promise to knit my children a new sweater every year until they are age five, you soon realize that they don't always hold.

I have managed to pull this one off though, but it'll likely be his last sweater for awhile anyways. I am quite thrilled with how it turned out, as it was my first attempt with using a cable tool. I made it a size two in order to get another winter out of it considering the many evening hours spent listening to the clackity clack of my knitting needles waiting for Robin to return from the studio. 

Perhaps there is a graduate school out there with a program for knitters? I could spend the next two years working on my portfolio of knitting projects and then whisk the family off on a continued graduate school experience in Wales, or Norway. Robin would have to keep up the blog of course.  

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sweetness is....

...early morning cuddles with sleepy-eyed Roscoe.

...enjoying my coffee just the way I like it. 

...watching Isla give her daddy a Valentine's Day card that she made especially for him. 

...getting to go out for the afternoon to go grocery shopping ALL BY MYSELF! 

...eating doughnuts with chocolate icing and pink and red sprinkles. evening with friends, wine, handrolled sushi and laughter. 

...sleeping in the next morning. 

Hope you found a little sweetness of your own on Valentine's day this year!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

One Walks, the Other Dances

Our little Took reached a major milestone this week. He is now officially walking. 
He's been dabbling in it now for at least a month, cruising along furniture with ease, taking the occasional step between the safehold of a parental leg to one of a chair's. Yet he didn't seem eager to put himself out there anymore than that. In fact, I was beginning to wonder what was his deal when I observed  a cause and effect reaction in play with his exuberant older sister. 

Isla of course adores her little brother to no end, but has a way of swooping in on him when he least expects it. I witnessed first hand Roscoe attempt a tentative free stand in the kitchen one morning, only to promptly plop himself down at the sight of his sister entering the room. And then I witnessed this same reaction again and again. The poor guy was afraid of getting knocked over. 

We explained to Isla that her enthusiasm was welcomed, but that we had to give Roscoe some space in order for him to really commit to learning how to walk on his own. She seemed relatively okay with this, and with several reminders has backed off, enough that
Roscoe trusts that he is safe to proceed with this whole walking experiment. Her attention has been diverted anyways by a package that arrived last week from her Nana, complete with ballerina slippers, bodysuit, leotards, skirts and a matching doll. She is truly prima! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Enough about me, what about the potter?

Okay, so I'm still feeling a tad smug about the whole cake thing, but let's get onto other topics of interest. 

The potter, remember him? Here he is in his modest studio space, surrounded by a month's worth of work piling up around him. The inversion did finally break last Friday and a group of students were able to fire up one of the wood kilns. Robin had a few smaller pieces in that particular firing, but rather is stockpiling his larger work for the end of the month when they light up the doublewide again. You may remember from a previous blog entry in the fall that I wrote about this massive kiln. 

It'll likely be another five day, fourteen cords of wood type of firing, but Robin is sure to get quite a few of his big jars in and a lot of information out. There will be plenty of variation in the work going in, such as the clay bodies he's made them out of, the different forming techniques; some coil built, some from a mold, paddling etc. 

I'm sure he will have lots to ponder about afterwards, with enough time to make some decisions about "what next" before his critique in March. Regardless, it'll free up some space in his studio and fill up our spare room in the basement with new work. Did I mention I might open an underground gallery during nap times? 

Monday, February 9, 2009

You're not going to believe this.....

The 'Be Mine, Clementine Cake' WON! 

By this morning I had long forgotten about the cake night blues. Isla and I were on to making muffins to use up some soft bananas, no more cakes for awhile anyways, when the doorbell rang. It was our Postie, our mail carrier Pam at the door. We first met Pam back in the summer when we moved into our little brick house, she had introduced herself and we swapped stories. Ever since we've been on a first name basis.  

Pam doesn't usually ring the doorbell when she delivers the mail, so I was surprised to see her. She had a package for us from Nana, a bill from the phone company and an unaddressed envelope for me. Turns out Pam was on the organizing committee for the Chocolate Festival and when they announced the third prize cake winner as Eden DuPont........drumroll.........and there was no one to collect the prize, Pam stepped up and said that she knew me and would deliver it to me personally. Now that is one awesome Postie! In the envelope was my winnings - a gift certificate to a local spa in town. 

I am still floored by the whole outcome, realizing it was worth all the effort after all.

I did manage to get this photo of the cake from a friend that attended the event.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Entry #26

I entered a contest! 

Last night Logan hosted A Chocolate Festival, a community fundraiser at the local conference center downtown.  I had heard about it earlier in the week through a friend that was planning to attend and had seen the poster for it as it was being held in the same building where Isla is taking a dance class. Out of curiosity I checked out the website and discovered that a big portion of the event was the dessert contest where amateurs could enter their favorite chocolate recipes for a chance to win fame and fortune. Well okay not fortune, but some recognition anyways.  

On Friday I decided, what the heck, I've got a great chocolate cake recipe from the Whitewater cookbook, all I had to do was figure out a glaze/icing, since the Betty Crocker carton wouldn't cut it in this case. So I delved into my other cookbooks and found a few different options:

Peanut butter chocolate glaze - decided too much hype at the moment around peanut butter recalls. 
Raspberry chocolate glaze - so raspberries to be found at this time of year and doesn't fit into my eating seasonally schtick.
Toasted Coconut glaze - I had some coconut milk and flake in the cupboard, hmmmm a possibility.
Orange chocolate glaze - no oranges, but plenty of clementines. 

I ended up making both the coconut and orange (substitute clementine mandarine) glazes and  
enlisted a handful of willing taste testers. The consensus was to go with the orange. So Saturday morning became a repeat of Friday and I spent several hours in the kitchen baking and frosting cakes. Isla helped cut out little orange peel hearts with her new big kid scissors while Roscoe foraged for peel droppings on the floor.  I called my entry 'Be mine, Clementine Cake', #26. By 1:30 p.m I had dropped off the cakes (one for presentation and another for taste testing) and picked up two tickets for the evening judging event. 

Sadly we'll never know if the 'Be Mine, Clementine Cake' was a winner. We had arranged a babysitter so that we could attend the event (you had to be in attendance to win), but as sometimes life does not permit things to go as planned, Isla had a huge meltdown at bedtime and was weary of the whole sitter thing. We managed to get her tucked into bed and out the door in the end, but arrived at the event just as people were streaming out the door. Suddenly the event lost it's appeal and we went home. 

Disappointed and frustrated for having put all that effort in, I certainly was. But that is life - it doesn't always go as planned. So you'll have to decide for yourself if it is a winner. Here is the recipe. Enjoy.

Chocolate cake
1/2 cup rolled oats 
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt

Combine oats and water, set aside
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs (blending in one at a time), add vanilla
Sift dry ingredients. 
Combine wet, oats and dry in thirds
Bake 30 minutes at 350 in 9 inch pan.

Orange glaze
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 Tbsp fresh squeezed clementine (orange) juice
1 tsp grated rind

Melt glaze ingredients on medium heat until smooth, apply to cooled cake, sprinkle with more grated rind. 

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tragedy strikes

Today we almost lost a limb. Isla's most cherished possession has fallen ill from too much love, I'm afraid.

The tragedy struck around noon just after we had picked up Robin from school and were headed out for a family lunch date. There came a high pitched squawk from the back seat and I turned around to catch a look of horror on Isla's face as she held Maggie the doll in the air with a left arm dangling by a few threads. 

Maggie has held up pretty well for the last 13 months. She first arrived on the DuPont scene a few weeks before Roscoe's birth in December of 2007. A gift from her Nana, meant for her to have a baby of her own since her mommy was about to have a real one. Maggie was immediately adopted as our 'third' child and has not strayed far from her keeper's careful watch ever since. 

Maggie also never wore clothes until about 2 months ago. She inherited a fantastic wardrobe, from Isla's older cousin Ryleigh back in October, which at first went completely ignored. But with some coaxing and a little time, Isla warmed up to the idea of dressing her doll and now does so several times a day. Hence the reason for the lost limb I am guessing. The wear on her soft core against the rigid arm and leg parts was beginning to show, and I fear this won't be the only limb Maggie will lose in the next little while.

While it did take several minutes to calm Isla down and retrieve the doll from her clutches to ensure too much stuffing wasn't lost, we did manage to have a lovely lunch out at a great Equadorian restaurant. 

And now I sit here with tears in my eyes, faced with the task of figuring out how to fix dear Maggie's ailment. The tears are not because I am worried about how to mend the doll's arm but rather that I am realizing the real job of motherhood and it's small but important gestures. 



Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In search of cleaner air

I was feeling guilty about driving the car this week and thus contributing to the red air problem, and tried to avoid any unnecessary trips to the store. But today I was fed up and packed up the kids in search of cleaner air. 

A group of moms and kids were headed out to Beaver Mountain to set up a kiddy corral so that the moms could get in some skiing. I decided, what could be better than spending the afternoon with some moms in the fresh air and sunshine AND getting a few laps on the trail (without having to haul 50 lbs of offspring behind me)! 

We had a great afternoon with three other moms and eight kidlets, all under the age of 4, spelling one another off. The moms were definitely outnumbered, but still managed to maintain some semblance of control. Isla spent a good part of the time on skis scooting around with the other kids, and Roscoe was happy as a clam to be pulled around in his sled by anyone that was up for it. 

There is supposed to be some weather coming through by the weekend, fingers crossed, just in time to lift the firing ban at the school. Some of the students are getting a little antsy with graduate shows coming up. Robin has forfeited his firing next weekend so that his fellow grad students can ensure they get their work in. He'll be contributing and participating in the firing regardless, just likely won't get as many pots in. 

He's continued making the large jar forms and has developed several new techniques to making them, including experimenting with some molds. A result of this has been his output, he can make them way faster now and his studio space will soon become engulfed by the voluminous, pillowy forms if the firing ban lasts much longer.  Let's hope for snow!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Blame it on the cows

We're back in the red. Air quality that is. Yesterday we woke up to another crummy inversion. As it was a Sunday morning, Robin wasn't as rushed to get up and out the door to school so we decided to pack the kids up and go out for a coffee and bagel before he had to be there later for a firing shift.  

We stopped in at the studio to pick up Robin's travel mug and met Tony (a fellow Canuck graduate student) just leaving. He was the one to inform us about the air quality warning. He had to make the call to cancel the firing that had been scheduled for the weekend, as there are strict regulations about firing on Red Days. There isn't anyone to blame but the cows apparently. I found out today that the agricultural industry (off gassing of ammonia) coupled with vehicular emissions are the major contributors to this smoggy problem.  

So it wasn't hard to convince Robin to take the rest of the morning off and go out for a real breakfast since his afternoon and evening suddenly opened up. Tony sold us on a greasy spoon north of Smithfield called LD's. We all packed in the car (including Tony) and headed up the highway for a couple of sausage patties, hashbrowns and eggs - over easy.  

The service was slow but the food hit the spot. It was great to have a chance to visit with Tony and spend the morning as a family.