Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dinner at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park

After the race on Saturday, Ellie went with Kohlton, Mark and Martine to spend the rest of the weekend in Nederland. Larr and I decided to do a quick overnight trip to Estes Park so that we could take our time going through the Rocky Mountain National Park. Grandpa Don wished us a happy road trip and offered to pay for a nice dinner somewhere. He recommended the Cascades Rest. inside of the Stanley Hotel. So, we booked a room at a motel, packed our stuff, got the dog and we were on our merry way very quickly.

The Stanley is a famous, historic hotel. "The Shining" and "Dumb and Dumber" were filmed on location at the hotel. That is why Larr has his face stuck through a door.
Larr ordered the trout dip with New York Flatbread crackers; it was wonderful.
House Smoked Colorado Trout Dip
sesame crackers, pickled green beans & charred lemon
Local and Artisanal Charcuterie Board - artisanal salamis, fine cheeses, house-made cranberry chutney & berry balsamic mustard.

This is something Ethan would love, so I am going to serve something similar when he comes home next month.

Rib eye Steak & Crispy Brussels Sprouts- red chili flakes, fresh garlic, olive oil - amazing and enough to feed me for breakfast and lunch the next day.

Larr enjoyed the Blackberry Cheesecake made with Haystack Goat cheese, local blackberries and a oatmeal streusel topping.It was very tasty. I had a simple rootbeer float and it was just right for me.

After dinner we checked out the grounds and found that they have a live butterfly display in the basement.
The next morning we had a mediocre breakfast at a cafe. It turns out that breakfast at The Stanley would have been the same or a slightly lower cost. Next time, I am going to remember that and have breakfast at the Stanley. Then we visited the park. Remmie had fun, too.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Hit and Run 5k

Despite the fact that Ellie's jaw still hurts and she can't open her mouth enough to each much of anything beyond things like yogurt and jello, my girl and Kohlton took on the "Hit and Run 5K" on Saturday. They had been looking forward to it so much that she did not want to miss it. She took it a bit easier than she usually would, but they still finished in under an hour and had a lot of fun. Crazy kids!

There were five different stations, each challenge involved large blown up things and water.
The organizers did a good job. The runners were set on the course in waves and so there were no really big lines to slow people down.

On the first one you had to run up the stairs and go across this balance beam type of thing while water was squirting you. If you lost your balance you simply slid down the side. I think some people did that on purpose. Then you went down the other stairs and on your merry way.
Then they ran for a while and went through an obstacle that involved walls with small doors that would surprise you all while there was water and people throwing dodge balls at you. Ellie skipped this one in the name of safety. I did not make it to that station, so there are not pictures, but it is included in the promotional video that I linked at the bottom of this posting.

At the next station you climbed the stairs again so that you could hurl yourself onto large inflated balls. The operators had Ellie go in the shoot next to Kohlton's, and I missed her bit. Kohlton bounced oddly and hurt his back a bit, but kept on going.

Then they ran around the stadium and back up to the other side to go through this obstacle.
It was difficult to photograph, but fun to do.

The last station involved large balls going round and round, while you tried to run across a blown up plank as a volunteer is throwing buckets of water at everyone. Many people said it was their favorite station. Many people did that one more than once.
Mark (Kohlton's dad) and Martine came along, too.

The finish was not far away. At the end everyone was hot and thirsty so they provided unlimited amounts of Core Power. Ellie and Kohlton both like the vanilla the best. We finished up the afternoon with a quick lunch. Then they went to Nederland, where Mark, Martine and Kohlton live. On the way they stopped to pick up the truck that Kohlton bought. Soon he will be driving, too.

I was impressed that there were all kinds of people taking part in this event, not just the super fit young folk like we see at some of these events. I might consider doing next year.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wisdom Teeth Debacle

Ellie was scheduled to get two of her wisdom teeth out on Monday as her other teeth needed more room. Sadly, it was a total debacle. It seems that the teeth were not really ready to be removed. One came out without its roots and the other is still too attached to come out.
As a result, Ellie is and has been in some serious pain. She bleed for about 8 or 9 hours. She cried for about the same amount of time. She had a hard time swallowing and she was so hungry since she was not able to eat the day of the removal.
Since it was the first week back to school, I could not be home with her the entire time. Thankfully, Kohlton was ready and eager to help Ellie and offer comfort. (I am currently short on time so I will tell you about this later.) Remmie made sure that he was with her once she was home and he made sure she was safe and uninterrupted. If you talked to loudly, came into the room too quickly, moved too quickly, looked like you might want to poke her, you got a stern, serious barking to. Remmie meant business. I eventually had to come home and do my work from the living room so that I could be available, too.

(I have to complete this post soon - I have a work deadline to meet.)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Paint the Town Red (or at least the door and mailbox) + Lots of Recipes!

The school year begins tomorrow with a week worth of teacher meetings and I am spending my day getting back into the usual school year routine. Ellie gets her wisdom teeth out on Tuesday, so I am making extra meals and things that she can eat as well. I've made mashed potatoes and several kinds of jello, as well as pudding for her to enjoy. I've also made several meals for the week as the first week back is always a bit crazy and stressful. I have shared the recipes below.

This last part of summer break is also a bit of a deal for me. Part of me wants to get some last minute relaxing and crafting done. Another part of me wants to cram in as much as I possibly can into the weekend. I want to take Remmie to his favorite dog park in Golden. I also want to read the end of the novel I started a little while back and I want to sew a few skirts, modify and tailor a dress for Ellie, plan a birthday party for Ethan, finish the mural I started in the foyer - you get the idea.

In the end I took Remmie to the park in Golden and I am sure it was the best day ever at the park for him. There was a wonderful mix of large dogs and they ran themselves silly. He slept the rest of the day and I think he might still be soar today as he is just relaxing under the computer desk.

I made one skirt with fabric that I love, but Ellie says that it looks like I am wearing a paper bag. This is due to the main color of the fabric and the fact that it is quilt fabric which is much stiffer than my usual gauze skirts. My hope is that it will look better once I wash it. And I did finish that novel. Now I want to pen a note to the author about how much I enjoyed it. Ellie and I have talked a bit about the party we will put on for Ethan. There is more time for that. The other stuff will simply have to wait.
The Before picture
The After picture.

Ellie and Larr have been busy, too. Larr painted the front door red and Ellie painted the mailbox to match. I think they look great. Larr says that the red mailbox screams, "Hey, notice me!" when you drive by. Ellie also painted over some dark wooden paneling in our living room and rearranged the photos, as well as the furniture. The changes look great.

I found lots of good looking slow cooker recipes over at "100 Slow Cooker Recipes" on Eat at Home Cooks.

This week we will have:
White Pizza (Pizza made with Alfredo sauce in the place of the red sauce on the cheese pizza.)
Honey Glazed Salmon with broccoli and roasted fingerling potatoes seasoned with olive oil, garlic and rosemary
Sweet Korean Beef with Carrot, Pepper, Broccoli and Brown Rice
Roasted Yam with butter and Parmesan Cheese
Tortellini with Red Sauce
Blueberry Muffins

Mexican Stuffed Shells
via: High Heels & Grills ( * I've modified the recipe a bit)

16-18 jumbo pasta shells (I think you could just as easily use lasagna noodles, or smaller noodles)
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
4 oz. {1/2 block} cream cheese ( * I did not have this, so I used Queso Fresca, one wheel, most likely 1 pound, that I cubed)
1 & 1/2 cup salsa
1 & 1/4 cup taco sauce ( * I did not have this, so I just used more salsa)
2 cups cheddar-monterey jack blend cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Fill a medium size pot with water and bring to a boil.

Add the shells and cook until al dente. {I like to be a lot more on the harder side because I've found that they rip if they are too soft and they still keep cooking later on.}
Once they are done, drain and run under cool water.

While the shells are cooking, brown the meat in a large skillet. Add the taco seasoning, according to package directions. Add cream cheese, cover, and let simmer until cream cheese is completely melted and then stir well.

Pour salsa into a 9x13 inch dish.

Scoop a spoonful of meat mixture into each shell and place in pan. Repeat until all shells are used. {Or until you run out of mixture.} Spread taco sauce evenly over shells. {Make sure to cover each shell completely to prevent them from drying out while cooking.}

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 27-30 minutes.

After baking, spread shredded cheese evenly over shells and bake for 9-11 more minutes, uncovered.
Top with desired toppings - green onions, black olives, sour cream, etc.

Great Mashed Potatoes

5-6 Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into cubes
1/2 cup warm milk or cream (Approximately. You can also use cream cheese)
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg

Boil the cubed (but unpeeled) potatoes in a large pan of lightly salted water. When they are soft enough to mash, drain them. Next, use a ricer or food sieve to mash.

While the potatoes are boiling, warm up the milk/cream and add in the butter to melt it.

With a wooden spoon, beat in the warm milk or cream and butter and season with salt, pepper and some freshly grated nutmeg, to taste.

If you want to make them special and a tad unusual, add a teaspoon of horseradish.

Oven Fajitas
via: Budget Bytes (slightly modified from the original)

1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp North Woods Spice (a smokey flavor from Penzy Spices - you could leave this out, or use a small bit of liquid smoke)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt (I did not add this in)
1/2 Tbsp corn starch

2 small (or 1 lg.) onion
2 medium green bell peppers (* I used red, yellow and orange peppers)
1 medium red bell pepper
1 lb. chicken breast*
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium lime
8 (6-inch) tortillas
½ cup sour cream (optional)
¼ bunch cilantro (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients for the fajita seasoning in a small bowl and set aside (chili powder, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, sugar, salt, and corn starch).

Cut the onion and bell peppers into ¼ to ½ inch wide strips. Place them in a large 9×13 inch casserole dish. Slice the chicken breast into very thin strips and add it to the casserole dish with the vegetables.

Sprinkle the seasoning over the meat and vegetables. Drizzle the vegetable oil over everything and then use your hands to toss the ingredients until everything is well coated in oil and seasoning. (* I placed the veggies and the oil in a large ziplock bag, turning it over to coat the veggies with oil. I then added 1/2 of the spice mix and shook it up to coat the veggies with the spice mix. Then I added in the meat and the rest of the spice mix, then repeated the process.)

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, stirring once half way through. Squeeze the juice from half of the lime over top of the meat and vegetables after it comes out of the oven.

Scoop a small amount of meat and vegetables into the center of each tortilla. Top with a few sprigs of cilantro, a dollop of sour cream, and an extra squeeze of lime if desired.

Slow Cooker Sweet Korean BBQ Beef Haystacks
via: Eat at Home Blog (She has a nice photo of the ingredients.)

2-3 lbs. beef (stew, roast or round steak)
1 packet Sweet Korean BBQ Campbell's Dinner Sauce (I found this in the spaghetti isle.It is in a foil bag.)
3 cups cooked rice

For Toppings
Broccoli, raw, chopped
Red Bell Pepper, diced
diced green onions (I did not use this)
Carrots, julianned
Sunflower Seeds

Place beef and sauce in slow cooker.

Cook on high 5-6 hours or low 7-8 hours.

Serve meat over cooked rice.

Top with your desired toppings.


Here's one I want to try:

Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken Sandwiches with Cucumber Mango Salsa
via: Eat at Home Cooks

Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken Sandwiches with Cucumber Mango Salsa

2 lbs. chicken
16 oz. jerk marinade
1 mango
1 cucumber
1-2 Tbsp. lime juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Rolls, for serving

Add the chicken to the slow cooker. Pour jerk marinade over chicken. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
Peel and dice the mango. Dice the cucumber. Toss together with lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
When chicken is cooked, remove to a cutting board and shred. If you want it extra spicy, stir 2-4 Tbsp. of the remaining marinade into the shredded chicken.
Serve shredded chicken on rolls, topped with cucumber mango salsa.

Skinny Beef Picadillo
via: Skinny Mom

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ cup onions, diced
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 lb extra lean ground sirloin
¼ cup stuffed pimento olives
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
8 oz can tomato sauce
brown rice
whole wheat tortillas

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onions, garlic, green and red peppers in extra virgin olive oil for 3-4 minutes until softened.
Add ground beef and olives to skillet to brown.
Season mixture with salt, garlic powder, red pepper, cumin, crushed red pepper and black pepper.
After meat has browned and is no longer pink, add tomato sauce and stir to cover and mix well.
Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes before serving.
Serve over (optional) brown rice or with whole wheat tortillas.
Nutrition Information

Per Serving: (½ cup)
Calories: 220
Calories from fat: 51
Fat: 10g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 60mg
Sodium: 348mg
Carbohydrates: 9g
Fiber: 2g
Sugar 4g
Protein: 25g
Calcium: 1%
Iron: 17%

Friday, August 08, 2014

Missa's & Sean's Wedding BBQ

We enjoyed Missa's and Sean's causal pre-wedding BBQ last night. Ellie was in charge of decorations. I helped her by making a tidy sum of paper flowers. I knew they were planning for an outdoor event and I worried about them when a huge, heavy rain storm moved through earlier in the afternoon. Thankfully, Mother Nature took care of the need to rain here at that time and only sent down a few spitting sprinkle later that evening.
Missa is Christy's big sister. We have known her since she was about 12 or 13. It is great to see her so happy. She is a graduate of our school.
Ellie did a lovely job decorating and using the flowers I made. Missa, Connie and Christy love the flowers, so I think they will find good homes instead of being thrown away. It is always nice when it goes that way.

Today is the last day of my summer break. I want to make it count. Ellie and I will meet up with Martine to get our nails done and have lunch, something I do not usually do. I also want to do art, sew, take Remmie to the dog park. My, I am not sure how to pick what to do first; I don't think I can do it all.

I am also inspired to carve some images and print them on fabric. This is because I saw what Lisa Congdon did at a workshop by Jen Hewitt. (I also appreciate what Jen has to say about making bad art. I struggle with that, too. I am not at such a peaceful place with it as she is.)And then there is the stuff that Geninne is making. I love how she does so much art. I am inspired by her painting, her claywork, her carving. I also have a little studio envy and wish that I was as tidy as her family appears to be. I'd like to meet her and work with her in her studio some day. I also want to buy one of her bird prints from her Etsy site.

Now that I have time to do more art, I both feel freed up and overwhelmed with all of the things I want to do. It is better than being bored.

We recently learned that Ethan will come home for about a week in September. I am excited. We will have a 21st birthday party and do lots of fun things. It has been since March that I was able to hug him and tell him how much I love him in person. I imagine that I will cry when I see him again.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Modern Medicine

Yesterday I had minor surgery to remove a cyst from my neck. Lucky for me, it was near the surface, making it easy to remove.But still, it was a bit scary, or rather, the anticipation was a bit scary. If my regular doctor had said, "hey, let's go ahead and take this out. I will numb it up and do it here." I would not have gotten myself worked up. But that is not how it went. I had to have a whole bunch of tests in order to get ready and make sure that I could have surgery. To start with, due to the pnemonia, I had already had six doctor's appointments with five different doctors and I had a C.A.T. scan. I also had my throat scoped. Then I had to have an echocardiogram to check that my heart murmur had not become a problem. I had to have a sleep apnea test and a host of bloody and urine tests. Having so many tests made me feel like maybe I was a little broken. Which I knew was a screwy response. If one of my friends had mentioned that he/she was having so many tests, I would have said that it was just precautions and information gathering. I had to remind myself to be kind with myself, the way I want others to be with themselves.

The first time he felt the hard marble like lump on the back of my neck he worried that I had some sort of cancer. I knew he would be relieved once I got it removed and tested.

Once the "let's really get ready for surgery" ball got rolling, I knew I was going to be fine. The folks over at Good Samaritan Hospital in Broomfield, Colorado are awesome. They were on time and very kind. They explained why they were about to do what they did and why it was important. They were interesting and funny. They treated me like I was a real, interesting and important person, instead of just a task to complete.

My doctor, Doctor McDonald, had warned me that the neck is a sensitive area that bleeds and hurts a lot. He prepared me for the idea that I might need to stay the night at the hospital. He told me what to expect, what choices he might have to make and how he would proceed. He was awesome, truly. I wanted to think that I am tough and that I would not need to stay the night. Afterall, I gave birth to my son without an epidural. I was hoping I could handle this, too. However, I did not have to as the anesthesiologist, Doctor Montez, was equally amazing. They prepped me, wheeled me into the operating room and I heard them getting ready, or at least that is what I thought they were doing. I was conscious the entire time, but I must have been pretty clueless. At one point I asked them when we would get started as I had not felt any pain yet. Doctor McDonald replied that he was almost finished, and he was. I did not feel a thing. Stubbing my toe is much worse than any of that process. I was then moved to the recovery room and was able to go home soon after that. I spent the afternoon napping and went to bed early, but that was about it. I did not even need any pain medication in order to go to my day long meeting. Since the wound was closed with something like super glue, I will not even have to go in for a follow-up visit. That is a good thing.

Larr later reported that Dr. McDonald said that the cyst was really pretty large, being about the size of the end of my husband's large thumb and that he is sure that it was a cyst, though it will be tested, just to be sure.

Yeah for modern medicine and quality care from all of the staff at Good Samaritan Hospital.