Long’s Peak

I had to wait a few weeks until I had a better attitude to write about this one. A few months ago, my husband asked me if I wanted to go to Colorado with some friends of his from work to go hiking. A trip to Colorado, away from hot and humid Kansas over Labor Day? Sounded fantastic! After the plane tickets were booked, I asked more about where exactly we were going and where we were hiking. I was thinking a nice 2-3 hour hike in the woods but apparently that was a little bit off the mark- the plan was actually to hike to the top of Long’s Peak. The link included was the first bit of information I read about the hike-

The Keyhole Route is not a hike. It is a climb that crosses enormous sheer vertical rock faces, often with falling rocks, requiring scrambling, where an unroped fall would likely be fatal. The route has narrow ledges, loose rock, and steep cliffs.

Wait, what?? The things this man gets me into. . .

More fun information that I found out- there are frequent, dangerous thunderstorms on the mountain, so in order to get up to the top and back down, it is recommended that you start the hike by 3:30 am! And that’s because it takes between 10-12 hours to complete the hike. Merciful heavens.

We arrived in Colorado Friday morning and made the drive up to Estes Park. (By the way, it’s recommended that you arrive about a week before attempting the climb to acclimate yourself to the altitude- whoops). We stopped at the trail head to check things out. We met a very nice ranger who informed up that the Peak was covered in snow and ice and the Peak should only be climbed by experienced ice climbers. Nick was disappointed- I was thrilled! Since we could only safely climb to the Keyhole, the section right before the final ascent to the Peak, we didn’t have to start hiking until 6 am. Woo-hoo!

Here I am- ready to go, head lamp and all!
image

Beautiful water falls on the way up!
image
image
image

So many stinkin’ steps, but at that point I was still smiling!
image

As we came up out of the trees, we started to get some amazing views.
image
image
image

I was feeling pretty good about myself at this point, I had basically been climbing stairs for about four hours straight in extremely thin air but I was still moving along! That is, I felt good about myself until I realized I was huffing and puffing like I was about to have a baby and my husband wasn’t even breathing heavy. Really?!? And then, just to really make me feel bad, some ultra marathoners RUN by us up the mountain. Nick looked after them longingly- sorry dude, stuck with me!

Once we got into the rocks, these little guys were everywhere! As you can see, he wasn’t very worried about us. He could probably tell by my face that I didn’t have the energy to mess with him.
image

So, about 6 hours of hiking later and one or two five minute breaks, we finally got to the boulder field. At this point I was so exhausted, my brain stopped working. This was probably a good thing or I never would have tried to climb up the boulder field. The fact that I am afraid of heights and have no climbing experience likely would have stopped me!

The arrow is pointing to the Agnes Vaille Hut at the Keyhole. It was built as a memorial after a climber died of exposure at the Keyhole after suffering extreme fatigue while coming down from climbing Long’s Peak in 1925.
image

See the guy climbing towards the right? That’s was how you had to climb to get up to the top- oh, it was hard, so many big stinkin’ rocks.
image

And here’s me, in the hut! That is a fake smile. At this point there were a lot of other climbers around and many were smiling and celebrating making it this far. Umm, that wasn’t exactly me. If I remember correctly I said something like this to my husband:
“I hate you so much right now. I am never ever doing this again!” A real special moment! ;)
image
I hid out in there and tried to get my crap together while Nick took these pictures.
image
Our altitude!
image

And finally it was time to go back down the mountain. I was hoping I could rest up a bit and take some nice breaks but wouldn’t you know it, those afternoon storms started to roll in and being exposed out on rocks with no cover didn’t sound too appealing in a lightening storm so quickly down the mountain we went! And a long 10 hours later I made it down to the bottom.

It’s possible that this experience is similar to childbirth- you know- it’s horrible and you yell at your husband a lot and you swear you’ll never do it again but before you know it you’re pregnant again. But I doubt it- pretty sure this is never happening again. But I am glad (now) that I did it. I pushed myself as far as I could go and it was an amazing experience. And I managed to limp back to the car before I started bawling! :)

Picking Apples

Last week we went apple picking at Cider Hill Family Orchard and had so much fun! Sure, it was cold and rainy but compared to picking blueberries when it’s humid and 90 degrees, it felt great!

I had never seen so many apples in my life. Luckily I was limited to how many I could carry or who knows how many I would have come home with! The trees were full of fruit and not very tall, so even Lainie could help pick them. We ended up with mostly Smoothie and Yellow Delicious apples but they had a bunch of different kinds. The Smoothie apples are really sweet and small and a great snack for the kids. And they especially loved this part of picking apples- you are encouraged to try them out while you are picking to see what you like!
image
image
The price is great as well- if I did my math right, they came out to about $0.67/lb, much less than what I pay at the store.

It only took about 5-10 minutes for us to pick our apples and then we took the wagon back to the entrance and enjoyed some apple cider and cider donuts by the fire. Do you think Lainie enjoyed her donuts? Not sure she could have stuffed it in her mouth any faster.
image

We came home with a bushel of apples (about 48 pounds). Most of them we will likely just end up eating as is, but I made a few batches of this applesauce (I didn’t have any apple juice on hand but just used water instead and it turned out fine) and we also love them chopped up with some cinnamon in our oatmeal.

Such a fun morning! Dear Fall, I love you!
image

So. . .I Did It!

Way back in this post in January, I said that I was going to do a 10K. I decided to do the Plaza 10K in September which seemed a really long time a way and I was sure I would have plenty of time to train and get ready. And before I knew it- Race Day.

Here I am fake smiling with my running partner, Angela, before the race. Notice I’m holding my stomach- that’s because I felt like I was going to throw up. I am really thinking “Why can’t I just go to Starbucks and do some shopping at Anthropologie?? What was I thinking? Sometimes I can’t even walk without tripping- how in the world am I going to run 6 miles?”
image

The start.
image

Can you guess when these were taken? Yep, right about mile one when we were still smiling!
image
image

And the finish- not quite as smiley now.
image

But about five minutes later we were back to being really excited and happy!
image

If you ever decide to run a 10K, I thought this was a great one. The course is as about as flat as you are going to find, it was well organized and the atmosphere and scenery of the Plaza is really nice. Even got some window shopping done while we were running by stores. :) Believe me, if I can do it, YOU can do it! Congrats on a great race to my friend Angela who just starting running for the first time in January. She got a little angry at me (I may have kind of talked her into starting to run and signing up for this) around mile 5 but she was very glad at the end. :)

My goal was to just finish the stinkin’ thing but I knew that if I didn’t run the whole way I would be a little disappointed. No speed records were broken (301st place in my age group with a time of 1:10:25- woohoo!) but I ran the whole 6.2 miles! I haven’t decided what my challenge will be for 2015 yet but I do want to continue to try things that scare me a little- not anything too crazy or dangerous but just scary enough to be really exciting if I complete it! I’ll take suggestions as long as it doesn’t involve roller coasters, enclosed spaces filled with a lot of people, or anything outside in Kansas in August!

Napa

image

I got to go to Napa for the first time with some friends and it was. . .wonderful!

These were growing everywhere it seemed- it was so beautiful!
image
image
image

Our favorite winery was Reynolds Family Winery. It was small, beautiful, and a lovely relaxing place to spend a few hours on a sunny day.
image
image

And even better than the wine was the food! Especially Mustard Grill. They have a HUGE garden right outside of the restaurant. I may or may not have made us almost miss our flight because I was wandering around the garden trying to look at everything! :) I still managed to get a few pictures before I was dragged into the car. . .
image
image
image
image

Ready to go back any time girls!

The End of Summer

It’s official now. Summer is over. Labor Day has passed,the little kids started preschool last week, the high was in the 70s this weekend and I planted mums today! Here are my three babies on their first day of school. And by the way, Lainie has decided she wants to pick out her own clothes now so you will only be seeing her in this dress, a striped dress, and a shirt with a cupcake on it.
image
image
image

I am sad to see my summer of fun end. I would imagine I am like a lot of moms who have a several small kids and who are on a budget- extensive travel just hasn’t really been a part of my life over the last few years! But somehow this summer, the stars aligned- we had a family trip to Omaha, a work trip to San Diego, extended family vacation to Table Rock Lake, a trip with friends to Napa and a quick weekend trip to Colorado with my husband. I will likely never go to so many places in one summer again but I loved every minute of it. . .well, maybe not every minute of the 10 hour hike up a mountain in Colorado but more on that later! :)

A few more pictures from our family vacation- we took the kids hiking on the same trail we went on last spring. The boys really, really wanted me to get some shots of these bugs. Just lovely, aren’t they?


These kids are great hikers!

Blake is really working on being brave and doing all the things his brother can do- we finally found a great way to talk him into doing things- his brother bribes him for $1. He owed him $4 by the end of the week! :)

Such a fun trip!


Dogwood Canyon

During our trip to Table Rock Lake, we spent a morning at Dogwood Canyon. We had thought about coming here on our weekend trip but paying for a trip to a park seemed kind of silly. I wish we would have though- it’s so beautiful there and worth every penny! A great place for a family bike ride with beautiful waterfalls all along the trail.
image
image
image
image
image
And some fun caves to explore along the way too!
image
image
image
And a few fun family pics to wrap it up. A great place to spend a day!
image
image
image

Table Rock Lake

We had a great family vacation to Table Rock Lake a few weeks ago. They all look relaxed, right?
image

Yeah, well we all kind of needed to sit in hot tub because my dear husband brought all kinds of equipment with him so we could all do family workouts in the morning! Hurray!

This was a favorite during one of the circuit workouts, not! Bear crawl through the sand.
image
image
image

As you can see, the kids participated as well!
image

And the course finishers!
image

And some other favorite activities from the week.

Number one, of course, was chasing each other with fly swatters.
image
image

And bean bag toss. We had some pretty intense face offs.
image
image

Water Slide!
image
image
image

More from our lake trip next time!

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Oh, goodness, this is delicious!
image

There have been several times this week that I wished I still had some of this ice cream in the freezer. . .

1. My oldest is back in school. That means the helper and peacemaker is gone for most of the day and his younger brother and sister are a bit lost without him. And I have to pack lunches again- boo!
2. My husband did a fitness challenge at work and did a plank for ten minutes. What?!? I innocently wondered out loud how long I could do a plank and the next thing I knew, I was down at the elementary school doing a six part competition against my friend. It involved a bear crawl 100 yards across a field, pulling a sled 100 yards with 65 pound weights, 100 squats, and more. I will never open my mouth and wonder anything ever again.
3. I had to stop at DSW with all three kids and return a pair of shoes. I also wanted to look down ONE aisle of shoes. But apparently to a five year old boy, if a store has a slatted wall, obviously it’s because they want you to attempt to climb it up to the ceiling. I have a feeling his father would agree. Once I got my son pulled off the wall, the boys thought it would be a great idea to play tag. TEN MINUTES BOYS- that’s all I’m asking for!!
4. Somehow in the process of drying off his hands, my son managed to drop the hand towel into the toilet. . .that he had forgotten to flush. I suppose I should be grateful that he remembered to wash his hands.
5. I have a two year old daughter. Enough said.

And here’s the recipe from Epicurious! We don’t eat a lot of desserts or ice cream, but every once in awhile (see above!) a little treat is necessary. I am lucky enough to have a huge pot of mint growing out on my deck, but if you don’t, this amount of mint can be pricey to buy at the grocery store. I would suggest checking out the farmers market- I’ve seen it for $1 for a large bundle. I also use raw milk and cream.

Isaac Mizrahi’s Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Ingredients:
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
2 cups fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions:

1. In large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar. In heavy medium saucepan over moderately low heat, stir together milk, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and mint. Heat until steaming but not boiling, then remove from heat.

2. Ladle about 1/2 cup hot milk mixture into egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent eggs from cooking, then slowly stir the egg mixture back into the hot milk, whisking constantly. Place over low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat back of spoon (finger drawn across spoon will leave clear path), 5 to 6 minutes total (do not let boil or custard will curdle). Strain through fine-mesh sieve into large bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids. Whisk in heavy cream. Cover and chill until cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.

3. Process custard in ice cream maker, adding chopped chocolate during last minute of churning. Transfer to airtight container and freeze until hard, about 3 hours.

Update!

It’s been awhile since I have done a post! I decided to take a few weeks off from blogging and have been busy traveling, hanging with my kids, running (that 10K is coming up soon!), and doing some redecorating. Well, actually trying to stay out of the way while my friend Angela decorates. I contribute smoothies and that’s about it! :)

I have also been doing some updates to my pages- hopefully this will make it easier to find recipes and other information. Check out my new and improved Eating Green page for some new healthy recipes. Here’s a few of my favorites:

image

image

image

image

I will be posting some new recipes and pictures from our travels over the next few weeks if I’m not too sad from going back to getting up early and making lunches for school. :)

Thank Goodness for Chicken Wire

It’s been a weird year for gardening. We started with our bunny problems now that our dog Sadie is no longer patrolling the backyard. Despite small children chasing them screaming and being sprayed by water jets, it would seem the bunnies are here to stay. After having my garden eaten down to the ground, we finally put chicken wire all the way around the garden. Hopefully I can get most of the plants to grow back before the end of the summer!

And guess what the bunnies never even nibbled on?
image

I haven’t had a lot of luck growing fruit so was thrilled with our cherries this year! We didn’t get a ton this year, our tree is still fairly small, but had a handful every morning for a week or so.
image

And little did I know when I bought a lime tree that limes from Mexico would come under the control of the drug cartel and double or triple in price!
image

I got my first jalapeƱo!
image

And the out of control green onion plant.
image

I have no complaints about the cooler weather and rain so far this summer but the tomato plants aren’t crazy about it- still waiting for our first big red tomatoes.
image

The watermelon and basil are a little behind as well but we’re getting there! I’m not sure I’m going to get to basil bush status like last summer. :)

But it does look like I will have cucumbers coming out my ears! I think these baby cucumbers are so cute!

I love my pot of mint! A recipe for amazing Mint Chocolate Ice Cream is coming soon.
image

Hoping for less bunnies, gentle rain showers every other day and an average temp of about 87 degrees the rest of the summer! :)