Benjamin, Fitness/Outdoors, Tabitha

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We did lots of fun things this weekend: went to REI, had a block party, played Bunco (me) and Catan (Matt), went to a pizza party at a friend’s house, had friends over for dinner, etc. etc. but probably the most memorable thing we did was a bike ride.

Because this wasn’t just any bike ride. It was a nearly 3 HOUR bike ride.

Normally when we take the kids to a new spot, we scout it out first. But we had … kinda. See it’s a trail we used to ride before we had kids and they recently added some pieces to it making what we thought was a full loop. Turns out we were wrong. It basically improved it and made about a 3/4 loop. Which because it isn’t a total loop we rode twice … for a 1.5 mile loop. Or 50% more. The worst part is that in addition to the 50% more, we took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at a dead end … at the END of a giant hill. And then we had to go down and back up another giant hill. It was exhausting and no one was having any fun by the end.

Hate that. BOO.

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Ben was the “total trooper” winner award this go around. Little if any whining from him.

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That kid is becoming an amazing mountain biker. Anytime he encounters anything where he needs more power, he’s straight out of the saddle and powering up the hill. He didn’t have to stop much at all. So cool.

2016-06-26 09.10.49Tabby tried hard and did pretty well, but she just doesn’t have the same stamina Ben has built up. Hopefully we didn’t permanently ruin biking for her and she can get some muscle built up.

2016-06-26 11.40.22We did have a couple of fun bright spots! Tabby was very excited to see the tipis above and even more excited to hear you can rent them out for a night (we will do this sometime this summer). We also got to see the goats!! Goats of all colors, munching weeds and making very funny noises. Glad to have a little bit of comic relief in a pretty brutal ride.

Life

 

 

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I’m pretty lucky to have my amazing dad and a bunch of father-types in my life. Strong men who value women have never been in short supply and I am old enough now to fully appreciate that.

#1 of course is my own dad, who has always been there for my sister and me in every way possible. He taught us great life skills like how to ski and balance a checkbook and mop a floor and always gave us hugs and told us we look nice and made it clear he thought we had something valuable to contribute to the world. If only all little girls were so lucky.

Now my kids get to call him Papa and of course, he is just as wonderful to them. Plus he gets to spoil them and dote on them and truly believe that they can do no wrong.

2016-06-19 20.47.08-3I was then lucky/smart enough to marry this catch. He is like my dad in many ways – hardworking, kind, fun – but with his own little crazy twists that make being his kid different, though no less awesome. He is an awesome dad. He got up in the night more than I did (I do not go back to sleep easily) and he’s the one that gets the kids off to school each day and usually welcomes them home too. We’re purely spoiled by having him work at home. We get to spend a lot of time with him! And it’s keenly felt when he has to be away for a week. We all adore him!

I am also so blessed to get to work on a daily basis with my uncle. He’s a wonderful role model in all areas of life – business, parenting, fun music and another one of my favorite people.

And on top of these two great guys, I have a wonderful father-in-law who is lots of fun for his grandkids and very good to our family.

And still further are all the amazing dads who I’m friends with – these guys are growing an awesome new generation of cool, fun, smart, thoughtful, kind kids with something to bring to this world.

And if that wasn’t enough, I get to remember two amazing grandpas and the great memories I have with them – time in the shop, collecting chicken eggs, going to Broncos games, the flea market, McDonald’s.

Let’s give it up for the amazing men in the world!

Camping, Fitness/Outdoors

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I love the outdoors, but I have always had a rocky relationship with camping and backpacking. It comes from my intense dislike of two things: 1) not sleeping well and 2) lack of shower. I have largely gotten over #2, but #1 was still plaguing me.

But last fall, two of my best girlfriends convinced me last year that I should really give backpacking another try. And my darling husband bought me a backpacking cot (!!) – pretty sure they didn’t have those the first go around. I also purchased myself a backpacking chair and suddenly, backpacking got a lot more comfortable. We went on one trip and had a great time. Good company + good gear = good time.

2016-06-18 17.01.40The kids are in on the act. They have their own gear – tiny adorable versions of what we carry (though of course, we carry the bulk of the gear) and they have a great time playing with their friends in the woods.

2016-06-19 09.15.20-1Well, mostly. It’s sometimes a bit harder for Tabby. The families we hang with have older boys and younger girls. Ben doesn’t seem to have any problems playing with the older boys, but Tabby sometimes finds herself at odds with the younger girls. I’m going to work on some strategies with Tabby to ensure she has more fun next time. I want her to enjoy this. Maybe I can find a way to bring along more books or some art supplies. That might go a long way with Tabby.

2016-06-19 06.43.47… because it’s so very cool – waking up to views like this…

2016-06-18 19.59.05-2And seeing the sun set on views like this. Ahhhhhh!

Asian, Chicken/Poultry, Clean, Cooking/Food, Family, Lighter, Quick, Recipes, Salads

2016-06-16 11.56.16Sorry this isn’t the best photo. I will try to replace it later with something more glamorous. But as a big part of this blog is to catalog the recipes that the family has deemed favorites, I want to get this UP.

To be perfectly honest, only the adult members of the family are gaga over this recipe, but both kids like it well enough. Tabby prefers to eat the chicken and dressing separate from the salad and add ranch or ceasar dressing (her faves) and Ben mostly just likes the chicken, but I think as they get a little older, they’ll come to love it like we do.

The original recipe comes from Skinny Taste and we make very few tweaks.

Ingredients:

SALAD DRESSING

  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp kosher 
salt and pepper

CHICKEN

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons Sriracha sauce (or more!)
  • 
4 tablespoons less sodium soy sauce
  • 
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • (2) 8 ounce cans water chestnuts, drained and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts

SALAD

  • 6-8 cups of mixed lettuce, chopped
  • grated carrots (optional)
  • random additions like snow peas or chinese noodles (optional)

 

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oils, honey, ginger, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste to make dressing. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the hoisin, vinegar, Sriracha, soy sauce, and ginger. Set aside. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray then add the chicken and cook until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the water chestnuts and peanuts to the pan. Pour the reserved hoisin mixture on top and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to heat through.

Remove from the heat and set aside. We like this very well when the chicken is fresh from the stove and even better when it’s been chilled in the fridge – very refreshing!

To serve, combine lettuces, carrots and any other additions. Top salad with chicken mixture and drizzle with dressing and toss.

Making

2016-06-11 13.48.24-2It was a good weekend. Mostly they are.

The highlight of the weekend was Denver’s Mini Maker Faire. It’s quite a bit different (smaller) than the main Maker Faire in Bay Area, but it was fun! And cheap ($20 for us all!). And we got to do some cool stuff. Like make little cars (above).

2016-06-11 13.54.43And try out weaving …

2016-06-11 10.44.19And make light up pins …

2016-06-11 09.04.50And show off my McGyver for president shirt (it was a hit).

We were there for over 4 hours and luckily it was a mostly indoor event, because it was HOT! HOT HOT! Summer is here.

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Afterward, we had naps (Matt and I) and then sent the kids off to the community center so we could have a date night. Ahhhhhhh Grown Up Time. I’m a fan.

In other weekend news:

  1. We had people over on Friday (jerk chicken cook off, natch)2016-06-10 18.11.28
  2.  Tabby got to kitty-sit (OH JOY!) and had a playdate.
  3. We finished off two more benches (except a little sanding and some sealing)2016-06-11 16.48.52
  4. Ben got his own playdate and some quality time on his skate board.
  5. We had (different) people over on Sunday for burgers.

Yes, no complaints. I do love me some summer.

 

 

Benjamin, Making, Married Life, Parenting, Tabitha, Woodworking

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Being as that I am a girl with no brothers, I have little experience with the boy side of scouting. Which is actually part of what makes Ben’s Boy Scout events so much fun. It’s lots of new stuff.

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For the uninitiated, like myself, the Raingutter Regatta is the maritime equivalent of the Pinewood Derby. You build a boat, paint it, make it a sail and race it in rain gutters against your fellow scouts.

We (of course) discovered that this event was sooner than we’d thought on Monday right after Matt left for a business trip (that wouldn’t have him home until today), so I got tasked with turning the rectangular wooden piece and dowel we were given into y’know … boats.

Fortunately, I have been paying attention during shop time. And I was able to complete the task with little fanfare.

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The kids painted them and off we went.

DSC_6322Ben competed against fellow Wolf Scouts and Tabby was in the “family” (mostly sisters) bracket.

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It was a double elimination tournament (I learned how those work yesterday), and both kids won their first 2 races and lost their third.

DSC_6360Which netted them 3rd place in each of their brackets!

DSC_6365Not too shabby for our first go. More importantly, they had a great time!

 

Cooking/Food, Tabitha

DSC_5743This kid loves to cook. So when I suggested that as a potential summer goal, Tabby jumped all over it. Better still, she decided she would be in charge of producing the dessert for our family meeting.

DSC_5773The first week, she tackled caramel stuffed chocolate chip cookies. I’d love to link to the recipe for you, but I have no idea where she got it. She found the recipe on her own, had me buy the ingredients and then she executed – beautifully. She did have me help chop the caramels and preheat the oven, but that was it. She even did cleanup.

DSC_5772And they turned out beautifully!

DSC_6257This week, she tackled pretzel cookies, which I’ve had pinned forever. I picked this one (it was my turn) partially because it intrigued me, partially because it was easy (we were coming back from camping that day) and partially because you could stuff them with ice cream and we had a 1/4 tub of vanilla in the freezer just taking up space.DSC_6268

The hardest thing about this recipe was making the “pretzel flour” in the food processor, only because getting the thing together so it will run without some practice is tricky. She had some help with that and stuffing the sandwiches.

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As you can see, they were a hit.

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I can’t wait to see what she comes up with the rest of summer! And maybe next summer she can start making dinner!!

 

Benjamin, Camping, Fitness/Outdoors, Furry Friends, Photography, Tabitha

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We got out of town Thursday night and headed Jackson Lake. It’s a nice state park about 90 minutes from our house. It’s also in the opposite way from most of the traffic, so it really is 90 minutes.

DSC_5825Though much of it lacks shade, we got a great loop to setup on and had decent shade. The first night, we setup, got the kids to bed and did some camp fire hanging.

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Friday was the beach day. I got to paddle board …

DSC_5991and the kids got to swim.

DSC_5837I’d say they had a pretty good time (this might be my new favorite pic of Ben – look at those freckles!!) …

DSC_6103… even this big girl who’s getting way too sassy.;)

DSC_5821… and especially this old man dog, who got naps and shade and pets and walks and illicit foodstuffs and a dip in the lake.

 

Life, Mom

Mom&Dad's WeddingDear Mom,

Today is your 68th birthday. I’m guessing you’re getting a pretty good look at the happenings from up in heaven, but it’s just not the a same as having you here to share it with us. We miss you, darnit. I want you here so I can give you a silly gift and we can take you to dinner and make you a birthday cake.

It would be so great to have you at work to share in the successes and joy in the company you loved so much and worked so hard with Jim and Grandpa to make into a warm, inviting, ethical, fun culture.

I want you to be able to play with the kids and not just see, but experience what amazing little people they’re becoming. How Ben can read and write so well now and how he picked up rollerblading like it was walking. How Tabby can do complex equations in her head and can bake the most perfect chocolate chip cookies without a lick of help from me or anyone. How they can both doggedly sit at the piano and learn new pieces.

I want to travel with you – to experience places that I know you’d love – France, England, cruising with Mickey. I want to experience entirely new places with you. I’d be fine staying home too. Mostly, I want you here so you can be sharing in all the fun we have. I don’t feel guilty about it. I know you’d want us to keep having fun, but I just want you here to share it with us. Just being with you would be awesome, even if it was at the bottom of the proverbial well.

Selfishly, I want your good advice and your caring words. I want hugs when the world gets just too rough. I want to be able to call you up on the phone for absolutely no reason at all but to say hey. To tell you about the great book I just read and the plans for the weekend and the pretty new sheets I bought just because I know you love that sort of thing.

Obviously I don’t get a choice, because this isn’t the one I’d make.

I think about you often and sometimes I can hear you. I guess either I really listened or you’re still talking (not so hard to believe, given your personality). I’m OK with either.

Keep shining down on us. We’re turning our faces up to you.

Jess

About


Hi! I'm Jess, a 30-something Colorado native making the most of life with my husband and kiddos. By day, I run the marketing department of a local contracting firm and in my ridiculously scant spare time, I love to run, ski, cook, travel (camp!), photograph and read. Thanks for stopping by!

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Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World
When He Was Wicked
Delicious
It Happened One Season
First Comes Marriage
Simply Unforgettable
The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills--and Leave a Positive Impression!
The Naked Duke
The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills
Grace and Power
The World of the Ancient Maya
On the Way to the Wedding
The Parenting Breakthrough: Real-Life Plan to Teach Your Kids to Work, Save Money, and Be Truly Independent
Rose Harbor in Bloom
The Pearl of Bengal
Surprising Lord Jack
Unlimited: How to Build an Exceptional Life
Anna and the French Kiss
The Lady Most Willing...: A Novel in Three Parts
Gone Girl


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