Friday, July 31, 2015

Jeffco Open Space Trail Stewardship Season - Ellie's Crew and Colleagues

The trail stewardship season ended with a fun picnic and a few prizes yesterday. I thought you might like seeing what it was like:

The crew leaders are in blue. The kids on the crews wear yellow. I've also included pictures of Chuck and Amanda, the supervisors for the program.

In the morning they would meet at the central office and then ride a bus to the work location. I am pretty sure that they only worked at White Ranch this year, which is unusual since they usually get to several parks in a season.

Ellie really enjoyed being a crew leader and was thrilled when one of the boys on her crew won the silver pick award, especially since only six kids win awards of this nature.
Ellie had fun and she also learned a lot. I would imagine that she would like to be a crew leader again, if she is not already employed doing something else next summer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Mountain Ranges + Thai Chicken Salad Recipe

I recently spent three days painting a mural of some of my favorite Colorado mountain ranges on the wall in the main room at Alpine Valley School.

The mural reminds me of the mountains that my father painted in my room in his house when I was little. I thought a lot about that while I was painting. I am thankful for being able to paint murals. It is really pretty gratifying to be able to create art.

Here's what it looks like:

I began by picking out images of the Colorado mountain ranges that I love. I did this, instead of just drawing random mountain-like shapes, because it helped me keep them looking realistic and to scale. After I created the image, I put superimposed a grid over it to ensure the right proportions when I drew the image on the wall. Next, I painted the top or back ranges. This was so that I would be able to easily paint over any drips that occurred.
Next, I painted in the finer edges on the top and bottom of the middle ranges of mountains. I did this so that the harder work would be done in the event that someone else wanted to paint along side of me. I also painted over the grid marks I made on the wall from when I drew the images on the wall.
I then painted them. From time to time I would also add in some clouds. I painted the clouds in small spurts as it was not so easy to stand on the foot stool I had and reach up as high as I could extend my arm and brush to paint the clouds.
I also went back over the top mountain range, touching up the paint where it was needed, as I would do with the other layers.
Now it is nearly done. I just have a few more clouds to add in.
I am curious to see if they will want the mountain ranges to expand onto another wall. When I posted the final image on Facebook, lots of people "liked" and commented on it. I hope it helps make the school feel just a bit more special.

Here's a nice dinner salad that we enjoyed:

Thai Chicken Salad
via: My Kitchen Escapades
(recipe adapted from Taste and Tell)
serves 8

Chicken marinade
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 Tb rice vinegar
1/4 C sugar or 2 Tb Truvia
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
dash of salt and pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts – about 2 1/2 pounds total

2 hearts of romaine, chopped
1/2 large head of napa cabbage, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 carrots, shredded
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 green onions, chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 C salted peanuts

1/4 C rice vinegar
1/4 C Thai sweet red chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar or Truvia
pinch of salt and pepper

Peanut Sauce
1/4 C natural peanut butter
2 Tb soy sauce
1 Tb rice vinegar
1 Tb Thai sweet red chili sauce
2 Tb water

1. In a ziplock bag, combine all the ingredients for the chicken marinade. Mush it all around, then place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours to marinade. Cook the chicken either on a hot grill, 6-8 minutes a side or in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Allow it to cool a bit, then chop up all the chicken into bite sized pieces.
2. Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, except for the peanuts, then add the chicken. Combine all the dressing ingredients then pour over the salad. Toss until the salad is evenly coated with the dressing. Dish out the individual servings of the salad.
3. Stir together the ingredients for the peanut sauce in a small bowl. If the sauce is too thick to drizzle, add a bit more water. Generously drizzle the peanut sauce over each serving of salad then top with the peanuts.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Of Paws, Chickadees and Good Friends

Thursday was a big day. I had a friend over whom I had not seen in over a year. Part way through the afternoon I received a call from Kohlton who called to tell me that my help was needed. Kohlton and Remmie went out to hike the trail that Ellie and her crew were working on.

They started down the top trail at upper White Ranch. It seems that the hike was very steep and rough. Though the hike was long, it was not the longest one Remmie has been on, but the rocks were hard on his paws. Once they were close to their destination, Remmie started trying to take a lot of breaks, something that is unusual for him. Kohlton thought that maybe Remmie was just hot, or in need of a rest. Upon closer inspection, he found that Remmie's main pads on both of his front paws had begun to tear off and flap around like dried bits of leather. This was alarming and worrisome, so a Remmie rescue took place. It was clear that he would need to be removed from the mountain without his walking the rest of the way on his own. Ellie carried him for a short while, then Kohlton took him the rest of the way. That part took Kohlton about an hour and a half to hike.
I am certain that Ellie would have like to be there to calm her dog down, but she had to finish her shift. Larr met Kohlton and Remmie at the lower parking lot to bring them home. I was going to go pick them both up, but Larr was able to get there faster than I was.

In the meantime, I arranged for a vet. appointment. Our usual vet was booked until the middle of next week, so Ellie and Kohlton took Remmie to my mother's vet. That visit did not go well; both Remmie and Ellie were upset afterwards.

That night Remmie was clearly ill and seemed to be running a fever. The next day was more of the same. As the evening drew near, Remmie seemed to be making a recovery. We were all relieved.

Today he seems to be feeling much better, and my, is he ever happy to be better.

Larr also did a wonderful thing for me. When we were much younger and new to our house, he put in a hook just outside of our bedroom upstairs. On that hook we hung a lovely, wooden birdhouse. I loved watching the birds at the feeder in the morning. Over time, the birdhouse fell apart and we did not repair it as we had become busy with baby Ethan.

Now that I once again have a bit of time to wake up in a leisurely way, I love to listen to the birds again and I told Larr that I wished that we still had a bird feeder. Later in the week he brought home a large feeder along with three kinds of feed to attract different kinds of birds. So far the chickadees have been happy to discover our feeder. I look forward to see who else shows up.

Ethan and a few of his friends spent the weekend in Wyoming have a great time hanging out together and going to the Cheyenne Frontier Days. They attended some of the rodeo type events, attended the Keith Urban concert. Ethan was impressed with the concert and how much heart and soul Keith put into his performance. By the time Ethan came home on Sunday night, he was sunburned, tired and all pumped up from having so much fun.

On Monday, Kohlton starts a brand new job. We are all excited for him. We hope it turns out to be a great opportunity for him.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Blue River Get Away - A Few Days of Beauty in the Mountains of Colorado

Even though I live in Colorado and have visited mountains often, I am always taken by the beauty of it all.

Larr and I spent a few days up in Blue River, near Breckenridge, exploring the near by mountain passes and relaxing.

We took the scenic route up to the place we were staying at. On the west side of Loveland Pass, we found this lovely place:
There seems to be some nice spots to camp near this location. I would like to camp near there some time soon.

Then we made our to the sweet little A-Frame house in Blue River that we rented through Airbnb.
It was neat, clean and quiet - just what we were looking for. The one small challenge was that the bedroom was in the loft, which meant that I had to go up and down a ladder in order to go to the bathroom. It was more fun staying there than it would have been staying at a hotel.

On Tuesday we went over Hoosier Pass, down into Fairplay, Como and so on:
Outside of Alma, we took Buckskin up towards Kite Lake:
We also visited mining mill near a reservior (whose name I cannot remember - sorry about that.) At this point, the altitude was getting to me. It never used to bother me, but now it does from time to time. Larr supported me through my frustration with the altitude issue and we were able to carry on.
By the time we were just about done visiting that area, it began to rain in earnest. It had been cold all day, and drizzley for much of it. It was clearly time to head back home.

We spent a quiet evening in the cabin watching "Best in Show" and "Atlas Shrugged III."

Today we took the long route home, going over Boreas Pass. I am pretty sure that it is my favorite pass. Here are a few reasons why I feel that way:

We took other back roads getting home, including stopping at the bison park near Genesee.

School starts up in a short while, so I find my thinking drifting back towards teaching related topics. I have a few books on hold at the library that will help me reframe some of the topics I want to focus on. I still have some time to play.