Category Archives: library

Weekend – Park hill tour, NBTS 15th anniversary party, 25th church anniversary


Friday we got home about 2pm, started laundry, then Grace and I went to see her friend who was in the hospital. Hospitals suck, so Grace wanted to go and hang out – I think she wanted the adults to leave the room (but we didn’t.) James made spaghetti for dinner, we watched some TV and went to bed.

Saturday James and I went to the library for a walking tour. The girls did not want to go walking, so they stayed home and hung out with friends. When we got to the library I had three different librarians (from three different Denver libraries) recognize me and they asked where the girls were. Yes, we go to a lot of library events. Our walking tour started at the Pauline Robinson library, she was Denver’s first black librarian, brought books from black authors into the library and was responsible for integrating Lakeside (amusement park.) Walking in this area you can see that it is starting to come back.

There was a strip mall fire that pretty much brought down the neighborhood that was already in decline (a food desert area.) So, when funds starting coming in from the city to add buildings and services, the community was asked what do you want? There is a new rec center, a boys and girls club, a new elementary school and a mental/physical health building that offers garden space (and farmers market), hydroponics (plants and fish), mental and physical health facilities, a pre-school and an alternative school for troubled kids.

I walked with a coordinator of the facility and told her that our HS group wanted to: tour the facility and host a Preschool Valentine party. I’m excited for both of those things. We continued up the street, walking in the road for the most part since this area was designed during the 40’s-50’s when Hollywood curbs were in and pedestrians were out.

This intersection in Park Hill was across from a park (which had a gazebo ordered from a Sears catalog, paid for and put together by local Girl scouts.)

The area had no access to grocery stores, markets, clothing stores, you name it. So a market district was introduced, some people thought this would be the end of Park Hill (1920’s), but obviously it was not. There is a book store co-op that was started by local Moms back in the 70’s at the end of the block that is still going strong. Here and there on the street and in alleys are guerilla art and gardens. Bringing a little plant life and a little quirkiness to the area.

There were also lots of ‘Little Libraries’ in the area, some were registered, some were not!

Hickenlooper lives around here, we saw his house, but I didn’t take a picture. We passed some old churches and one church that now houses two different congregations.

We finally made it to the Park Hill library and sat down for a bit, drank water and had snacks and listened to the story of the library. There were 9 Carnegie libraries in Denver (Byers, Decker, Park Hill, Woodbury, Smiley – still standing) and (Denver central – now the McNichols building, Warren- now lofts, Dickinson -now houses an architecture firm and Elyria – now a private residence.) Park Hill doesn’t look like a traditional Carnegie library, but it’s there under that awful stucco.

We passed by some of the Boulevards put in by Mayor Speer during the city beautiful movement. Some of the money that was used was questionable, but hey, we see wide lanes, lots of trees and green spaces, so now we don’t care. We continued our walk through the neighborhood and noticed missing streets. Our next fact was a math one, the streets were laid out in an oblong rectangle twice as wide as it is long. Some streets are numbered but have names (Montview), some streets are 23rd on one side and 24th on the other and some just disappear completely. Also the golf course at City park was once a field full of cows, there was a lot of dairy making going on in the area when it started. We got back to the Pauline Robinson library and thanked our guides and headed back home. We weren’t home long before it was time to go to the park for our HS groups NBTS party and 15th anniversary party.

We had food and more food, cakes and doughnuts, games, coloring, tattoos, a photo booth and glow sticks.

We met two new families and had fun catching up with everyone.

Trying to get all the kids in the picture was hard….

I had to save the table art in photos.

Sunday we went to church and Hannah got to try out the new middle school room she’s in, she liked it. We went back for a lunch at the church celebrating 25 years, 15 of those in this building and the previous years in an elementary school in the area. This church started out as Highlands Ranch Christian church, then a bit later became Mountainview Community Christian church. It was the first church in Highlands Ranch that was a new church, not a plant from another part of Denver or an arm of a church located elsewhere, just the first (non-catholic) church to build in the area. We’ve had some ups and downs as a church, a major pastor shift happened some years ago and some of the church split over that, but some of us stayed and continue to get fed (sometimes literally fed) and volunteer here.

We pretty much lazed away the rest of the day, making only one outing after dinner….

The week – school, worship dance, St. John’s music at noon, Kindness Krewe, park day, NIA, youth group, CRUSH fest, HS skate, TNO, youth fest outing, ukulele class….feels like I’m missing something….

Dinners – crockpot chicken enchilada casserole, Asian lettuce wraps, pan fried tilapia with tomatoes and feta, sesame beef with fried rice, chicken creole pasta.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves 
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced pickled ginger
1 dash Asian chile pepper sauce, or to taste (optional)
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir beef and cooking oil in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and discard grease; transfer beef to a bowl. Cook and stir onion in the same skillet used for beef until slightly tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir hoisin sauce, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and chile pepper sauce into onions. Add water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and cooked beef; cook and stir until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.
Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter and pile meat mixture in the center.

Sesame Beef

1 pound round steak
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons white sugar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Mix soy sauce, sugar, oil, garlic, and onions in a large bowl. Set aside.
Cut steak into strips and add to bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 30 minutes.
Cook in wok or frying pan until brown, about 5 minutes. Add sesame seeds and cook for additional 2 minutes.



Day in the life {Thursday}


Daniel 3 – 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

Grace got a head start on school today because she wanted to try her hand at making macarons. She did an English test worked on polygons and symmetry for Geometry, started on her Agri-Science slide show on farming (where she found some cool facts like – 1830 About 250-300 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels 5 acres of wheat with walking plow, brush harrow, hand broadcast of seed, sickle, and flail, 1834 McCormick reaper patented; John Lane manufactures plows faced with steel saw blades, 1884-90 Horse-drawn combine used in Pacific coast wheat areas, 1888 The first long haul shipment of a refrigerated freight car was made from California to New York, 1890-95 Cream separators come into wide use.) Physical Science was reading and gathering information for a lab involving paper airplanes. Hannah had a story to read, some Science to read and I don’t think she did math. Our read aloud biography was supposed to happen on Tuesday, but I forgot, so we did it today.

Right now we’re reading the bio of Helen Keller.

After lunch Grace started on her macarons while Hannah and I went to Chatfield to swim – we had the beach to ourselves.

We came back, cleaned up and went to the library for the Doodle-bot program. It was kind of hard to make the bots draw, the marker had to be in just the right place, it was a lot easier to make a bot that rolled around the table and bumped into other bots.

We had breakfast for dinner (instead of fish), dropped Grace at youth group and started watching Passengers.

Day in the life {Tuesday}


This morning I got up, let the dog out, read my Bible and colored a section. I had some me time before Hannah woke up, then she got started on school.

Hannah had English (reading Sympathy and another story and doing 2 quizzes), Science (reading about characteristics of life and taking a quiz), and Math (more variables and a quiz.) Grace had Geometry (use Algebra to describe Geometry – BUT WAIT! I thought we were just doing Geometry!), Physical Science (the scientific method), and English (narrators and their importance.) This isn’t from K12, but it’s just like the lesson Grace did.

Hannah is working on Jingle Bells on the ukulele, and it’s getting better.

Hannah spent some time taking pictures of her LPS with the ukulele that Joel got her. We’re going to have it restrung with better strings (they put cheap ones on there), maybe tonight. We ate lunch at home, then headed out to the library for some chamber music sing-alongs (and Rocket ice cream.)

When we got back home I took Grace to go get her river sampling done. We had a happy little cloud come and shade us, it was hot!

Fall colors are starting to peek through.


Right bank/left bank

Chicken tacos are cooking, we need to go by the library tonight, go by the guitar store and maybe James and I will feel up to jazz at Phil’s (we didn’t go to sleep until 12am last night, so we might be too tired.)

First day of 7th grade and a ukulele shows up


Hannah started 7th grade – English, Science, Pre-Algebra through K12 (CODA.) On our own – dance, ukulele, History (Joy Hakim), co-ops, art, volunteerism, etc.

She was worried about the new platform, so I showed her how to navigate the courses, discussions and such. The girls went to Chipotle for lunch with their BOGO library coupons and I ran some errands. Library, post office, $1 store for spa day stuff. When I got home Hannah tuned the ukulele from the library and got start on a song.

Joel bought her a ukulele and it’s coming, but this one finally came in on the hold shelf. I found 3 free classes for September that will help her out too.

The girls had dumplings for dinner while James and I went to the library to hear Gypsy jazz from La Pompe Jazz band. They were good!

You can hear them – here. 

We found a quaint, small, French bistro a few minutes away; without searching for area restaurants we’d have never found it! Bistro Barbes was so cute, very tiny, open garden window, amazing food, good drinks and delicious dessert.

I had the heirloom tomato salad (pictured), gnocchi with rabbit and we split the duck confit with kale and green chile cornbread.

It’s too bad I didn’t get a pic of the other food, presentation was gorgeous. The duck was tender and the skin crispy, just like it should be. Dessert was espresso cheesecake with dark chocolate ice cream, hazelnuts and cinnamon, so good. Definitely make a reservation, they seem to be a neighborhood favorite.

Solar eclipse, park day and first day of 10th grade


Bethany took Grace to Starbucks this morning, but they walked there (hey, that counts for PE!) While they were gone I opened up the co-op board, but a lot of people won’t be back till tomorrow (eclipse.) We did some school, this year Grace has (through K12 Destination Career academy of Colorado) – American History, English, Geometry, PE, Physical Science, Intro to Agricultural Science, FYP (like homeroom and guidance.) On our own – Marine Biology, piano, dance, River Watch site management/sampling/testing, co-ops, art, volunteerism, etc. Some NBTS pics.

Then we headed over to the library for their eclipse party. We got there right at 96% totality.

(This pic is about 45 min before that.)

It was cool to use the glasses, but the really cool part was watching the leaf shadows, or the light coming through the trees that formed the eclipse perfectly.

We had lunch then went over to the park a bit early. No one showed up, so we spent about 30 min walking around, finding turtles and ducks and watching the shadows.

Back at home Grace finished up a few more things for school, Bethany headed out to house and cat sit for a friend, Hannah took videos of her LPS and then we played games and read for a bit. I’s day it was a good first day back (Hannah starts on Wed.)



James mowed, we went grocery shopping, I made banana bread, we went to Koelbel-con, I read my book, we watched a Blake and ate barbacoa. I was a gypsy pirate for the con and as soon as I got there a little boy asked if he could take a pic with me. I was the first pirate he had seen that day, so I obliged and he was so happy – made my day.

Stuff this week – Sweet Cooie’s ice cream and art, plumber comes out (yay!), tinker boxes, working out co-op details, hike and swim, Lakeside night, kitten therapy and art walk, don’t know about the weekend yet.

Dinners this week (starting today)- Barbacoa, alfredo chicken squash, apricot pork chops, cornmeal fried fish, chicken taco soup, (art walk, diner out), grill night.

Summer Squash Chicken Alfredo

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 (8 ounce) package uncooked rigatoni pasta
6 slices bacon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 small zucchini, sliced
2 small yellow squash, sliced
1 cup Alfredo sauce
1/4 cup milk
6 sun-dried tomatoes, softened and chopped
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking dish.
Place the chicken in the prepared baking dish, and coat with the garlic. Bake 25 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear. Cool and chop.
(You could also cook it in a pan on the stove.)
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place the rigatoni in the pot, cook 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
Place bacon in a skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the zucchini and yellow squash until tender and lightly browned.
In a small bowl, mix the Alfredo sauce and milk. Serve chicken over the cooked pasta. Pour Alfredo sauce over the chicken. Top with zucchini and squash. Sprinkle with sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, Parmesan cheese.

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) can chili beans
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (12 fluid ounce) beer or chicken stock
2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Cheddar cheese (optional) sour cream (optional)
crushed tortilla chips (optional)

Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, beer, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning, and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.
Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and allow to cool long enough to be handled. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup, and continue cooking for 2 hours. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.