Tuesday, August 02, 2011

August. Seriously???

So much for good intentions. I really had hoped to make more frequent updates, but here it has been over a month since my last post... What happened to the month of July anyways?? How can it possibly be August?

July does happen to be the month of my birthday, and this year it was a big one. I hate to admit it, but I often use the fact that it is my birthday month to try and manipulate my family into letting me win a game here and there. It never works. But always worth a try!!

We just returned from a wonderful family trip out to Breckenridge, Colorado where I celebrated my birthday the very best way possible.. surrounded by my wonderful family!

I have always loved the mountains and love to get there as often as I can. Now with A & C living there and several other good friends, I foresee several trips a year in order! I have hundreds of pictures I could share.. so will just give you a snapshot of our trip...

R entertains A while we are shopping by making the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory bear come to life.

Steve usually really dislikes shopping, but made an exception today when he got to sit out in the beautiful scenery and watch little A. During naptime, he strolled up and down the sidewalk while A slept. Yep. No complaints from grandpa today!

Diaper changing options can be tricky downtown Breckenridge in the hot mountain sun.. UNLESS you have enough people. 4 seems to do the trick!

Short drives and hikes up in the mountains were wonderful. Makes for some great photo ops with fun poses as well!

And lots of time for grandma and grandpa to enjoy little A!

Loved having some time with A & C! Sure miss having them live closer... but love that they are enjoying Colorado.

It's just a blessing to be able to spend extended time together and I hope it's something we are able to do every year.

It's especially fun to get to know little A and his daily routine and his sweet little personality. K loved making fun noises with fingers and lips.

One of the highlights of the trips was an early morning surprise the day of my birthday. I was quite surprised when the alarm on Steve's phone went off at 4:45. He wished me Happy Birthday and said we had to go meet someone. My first fear was that it was a Hot Air Balloon ride.... I really am quite afraid of heights and really don't like to fly...

Let's just say I conquered one of my fears that day because it was indeed a Hot Air Balloon ride!!!

It was a perfect day.. Not a cloud in the sky and no wind. My heart raced a bit as we took off, but the peacefulness of the ride quickly calmed my fears. The landing was soft with barely a bump. Here is our basket of 12 as we prepare to touchdown...

Out of the basket and happy to have both feet on solid ground again. I just hope he doesn't surprise me with skydiving someday.....

The ride included a delicious breakfast afterwards including champagne. Would I do it again? Yes... on a cloudless, windless day. But there are other things on my 'bucket list' that must come first!

More surprises lay in store for me that day. The girls dressed me up royally in red and purple; complete with crown and wand and took me into Breckenridge for a coffee date.

Let's just say that I acted the part. And the girls all still acknowledged that they were with me!!

The last surprise of the day was a fun game that M had come up with which had clues to objects/things/people who were born/created the same year I was born. The clues would come up on the screen and we had to blow a whistle and guess what it was. Who knew that these things and more are as old as I am?

We cooked many of our meals in, but going out to eat is part of the fun of vacation. Twice we were able to meet up with dear friends. Paul and Sheri recently moved to Colorado and it was fun to not only meet up with them in Breckenridge, but visit their new home at the end of the week. A bit jealous that they now live in Colorado.. I'm also excited for them to be living their dream. (Their son also visited us as well!)

Jim and Beth are dear friends who lived near us for many years here in Iowa until The Navigators took them to Colorado. It was so hard to have them leave, but love the times that we are able to get together.. here and in Colorado. (With us here with their oldest son as well...) Already counting the days until we can head to Colorado again!

One of the special meals that we made in July for my and K's birthdays were these unbelievable steaks from my friend Mary's gluten free blog. I don't know if I have linked to it before, but she has amazing recipes. This is here recipe for Steak Au Poivre. My mouth waters just thinking about it!!

And it involves fire. How fun is that?

I would have loved to have taken Sophie with us to the mountains. She would love it there. But it's a 13 hour car ride, which is a bit much. She stayed here with a friend of ours and was well care for. I'm sure she'll be happy to have more visits from little A in the near future!! They are bonding quite nicely!

I will end with this final shot taken from our balcony the last morning in Colorado. Steve and A are pointing at a nearby mountain and making plans to climb it together someday. I hope they can.

So so thankful for the blessings of family and friends!!

Until Next Time....

Friday, July 01, 2011

Felting Frenzy.....

There has been a frenzy around our house lately. Several frenzies in fact. One being felted bags!! I'm not sure why we have decided that the hottest days of the summer are the best time to knit large bags with wool. Very curious. This is the first time that K has knit a felted bag. She started with this Ball Band bag.* Here it is before it's trip into the washing machine.....

And here it is magically transformed into this great bag. There is something so magical about the world of felting. And I think that K is now hooked......

She immediately picked out some fun bright colors and started on a Big Bag. Unfortunately we don't seem to have gotten a picture of it felted before she gave it away to a dear friend of hers... A very happy bag!!

I had a bag on my needles from who knows when, and decided it was high time I finish it. I decided to add the handles like the Big Bag onto my Ballband bag. Love how it came out. I actually think I am going to keep this one...

K immediately started another Big Bag and two days later had it in the washing machine felting. She is crazy fast!!! She's working on creating some fun striping patterns.... I see more of this coming of the needles in the near future. (In fact I can hear the clicking of the needles even as I type now!!!)

Most of this knitting was done during our 'girls time' when Steve was in Africa. He had a great trip and has been home for a few days. I've definitely decided that if he goes again next year that I will be by his side once more. I realized how much these people have come to mean to us over the past couple of years.

M came over several times while Steve was in Africa as well. I was glad that he had hung little A's swing before he left.

I had a surprise envelope in the mail today. My AARP card. I'm still in a little bit of shock. (And denial). I'm pretty sure it must be some kind of mistake. I mean I know I have a big birthday coming up and all, but do they really need to rub it in my face???? (Steve hasn't gotten his card yet and is having a little too much fun with this. Just saying.)

Sophie is thankful to be an indoor dog during these very warm days!!! She especially loves having her girl home for these months.

Next post I will share a bit of the baking frenzy that had been going on. Wish I could literally share some of the yummy things that have been coming out of the kitchen. If you are ever in the area, do stop by. Chances are pretty good something will be cooling on the counter....

Until Next Time....

*I adapted this pattern just slightly by casting on 41 stitches so that the pattern is the same all the way around the bag.....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Lately it has been a bit of a whirlwind around here. Lots of coming and going and different things happening! Took a very quick trip to Minneapolis last week for Y's final fling before she heads back to China tomorrow! I had found a great deal on Travelzoo* for the Radisson hotel with the big waterpark by the Mall, so K, Y and I headed up for a quick girls trip.

While the two of them enjoyed pizza and a movie and yet another trip to the waterpark, I went and had dinner with my two dear friends and met the new grandson who I was busy knitting the blanket for! Renae (the one in the middle with her grandbaby) and I have been friends since we were 4 years old. Hard to believe that was 46 years ago and that we are now both grandmas. Just doesn't seem possible....

He seemed to like his new blanket.. at least he was dressed in a matching outfit!! I already have more yarn ready to cast on another one!

We weren't home but a few minutes when my parents arrived for the weekend to visit and to help us celebrate little A's dedication on Sunday. They hadn't seen him since he was just a little guy in December! He had changed quite a bit!!!

We took a trip down to the Amana colonies. My folks had a bought a clock here years ago and needed to have it repaired. A great excuse for a fun outing of shopping and lunch at a yummy German restaurant.

They are also famous for their woolen mill. They have the mill open and running so that you can see the large looms in action.

M came along with little A. He is such a great traveler. And he travels in style. From his comfy stroller....

To the Baby Bjorn that is a little easier to navigate the stores with and gives little A a great view. One does have to watch his little hands as he loves to reach out and grab things off the shelves!!

He also was just held and carried by lucky arms that were quite willing to take him whenever!!

Sunday was a busy day as well. It was Y's final Sunday at church. She wore her beautiful Chinese dress that she has brought from home. We will miss her very much but can only imagine how excited her family is to have her home again!!

R and M had little A dedicated to the Lord on Sunday. It was a wonderful celebration and they were surrounded by many friends and family. Little A really was most interested in Pastor Johns beard however.....

All of the excitement totally wore him out.....

But by the time we were back at their house for a celebration lunch, he was awake and full of smiles again. He really is the happiest little guy

And I do think he's going to be an early walker.... Loves the feeling of the grass between his toes...

We ended the evening with a surprise going away party for Y.. which I will blog about in my next post... We are busy getting her packed to head home and Steve packed for his trip to Nigeria. The house is going to be far too quiet by the end of the week!!!

Fortunately the kitchen will still be humming with yummy creations by K. Lately she has been looking to perfect her 'made from scratch' Angel Food cake. Yesterday I think she achieved perfection, but I'm not going to tell her because I really want her to 'practice' a few more times. She may have guessed, however, by the lightening speed by which we consumed the whole thing...

She offered to share her recipe...

Angel Food Cake

12 egg whites
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar


· Measure egg whites to be equal to 1½ cups. Place in mixing bowl with paddle attachment and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

· Meanwhile, sift powdered sugar and flour together three times; set aside.

· Add cream of tartar, extracts and salt to egg whites. Beat on high speed.

· Gradually add sugar, beating on high speed (#8 of 10) until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form.

· Fold in flour mixture on lowest speed or with spatula, ¼ cup at a time. Gently spoon into pan. Cut through batter with a knife to remove air pockets.

· Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.

· Immediately invert pan over a bottle with a couple cans under the sides for balance; cool completely before removing cake from pan.

· Serve with cool-whip and strawberries.

Kirstin’s Notes:

· Cold eggs are easier to divide. Divide one egg at a time. If any egg yolk gets in, don’t use that egg for the cake. The tiniest bit of yolk will color the whole cake.

· Always use a metal bowl

· Keep batter away from any grease!! Never grease the angel food cake pan

· Don’t skip the sifting—gives the cake a nice velvety texture.

· Beware of “mice” while the cake is cooling

Well.. off to get ready for another day.

Until then, a few more excerpts from my '1000 gifts' journal....
#80. Medicines that work...
#83. Knitting needles and the gift of knitting..
#86. Friends and family...

Until Next Time....

'I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples. I will sing praises to you among the nations.' Psalm 57:9

*If you subscribe to Travelzoo, every week they send you an email of their top 20 deals of the week. It's one of my favorite emails as I love to pour through all of the many possibilities for exciting travel. Just wish I had unlimited time and money to take advantage of more of them!!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Loving Life...

I am loving this summer already. I know that it is going to go too fast, but I'm going to try to take each day and savor it. I start by savoring my morning cup of coffee.... My friend Sheri introduced me to this new coffee machine. Love it.

I especially love brewing an additional cup in the morning and putting it in the fridge and making an iced coffee later in the day.
Placed inside my favorite Tervis Tumbler covered in Japanese Cherry blossoms.

I also savor whatever K is cooking up for breakfast. Lately she has been experimenting with her Abelskiver pan.

These were filled with cream cheese and then covered in whipped cream and strawberries. I hope she feels the need to practice these often in the time she is home this summer!!

Loving the time that we are having with family. Have been able to spend some fun time with M and little A in the past week. He is such a cute 'thing'... :)

And he is so good to take out and about. We have had several shopping trips lately. Here we are in a new store downtown Cedar Falls.. Sweet Basil Market. Very cute shop. If you have never shopped downtown Cedar Falls, you really should. There are some very cute stores. Yesterday we took a shopping adventure to the Amana Colonies... More on that in a day or two...

K continues to enjoy doing fun nails for friends and family. What a great opportunity to spend some time visiting and catching up. Here she is with a dear friend of mine... I know that she'll be back for future manicures this summer!!

Here is just one close up sample... Aren't they fun? It's amazing how many people comment on them when we are out and about. If you are in the area and want your nails done, just give a call or stop by.... K would be happy to oblige.

Sophie is spending some final time with Y. She heads back to Beijing on Wednesday. We will miss her! It has been so fun having her with us for these 10 months and Steve and I are already planning on visiting her in China as soon as possible. But poor Sophie won't be able to come..

Busy weekend here. My folks are visiting and we will be celebrating little A's dedication tomorrow. More on that later next week.

Until then, a few more excerpts from my '1000 gifts' journal....
#67. Popcorn and M&M's...
#70. Your mercies... New every morning...
#72. Blue skies and sunny days...
#78. Sophies toys scattered around the house with purpose...

Until Next Time....

'Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.' Psalm 136:1