Category Archives: tour

Walk2Connect – Urban forest canopy

Standard

Today’s hike was brought to us by Walk2Connect, Denver Healthy Eating and Active Living and Rob the urban forest ranger. It was a bit chilly when we started out at the front of the Botanic Gardens.

We walked up the street and Rob started talking about street trees, specifically ash trees. There is a pest (emerald ash borer) that is eating ash trees and it’s currently in Boulder, Longmont and Lyons, so it’s headed this way.

They have a program called be a smart ash and cover you ash- http://beasmartash.org – that explains the treatment they are using, what to do if you have an ash tree and the alarming stat – 1 in 6 trees in Denver are ash trees. So, if you do nothing you will have a large percentage of street and park trees that have to be cut down and then replaced with smaller trees, trees that will take 30-50 years to grow back to give you what you now have. He also said that the city of Denver plants, for free, about 1,000 trees a year. If you live in Denver and have space for a tree and will be its caretaker, the city will send over a contractor to put in a tree. We walked on and talked about the various street trees. This graphic has some good info on the amount of trees in each city, not just street trees, and the benefits from them. We stopped at Cheesman park and Rob made note of a few things.

One is that in parks the trees are usually the same type (or a few variations) and the same height (because they were all planted when the park was made.) Cheesman recently went from potable water use to recycled water use and Rob noted that some of the conifers are doing poorly on the recycled water because the levels of certain minerals are getting higher. One tree was fading fast and might have to come down and this is a tree that is about 100 years old. You can’t plant a 100 year old tree, so the benefit that the tree gave you won’t be back for a while. Anyway, we walked to the pavilion at Cheesman park and Chris gave us some background on it. I knew it had been a cemetery, one of Denver’s first. Well, the city was growing and wanted to use that land for a park, they bought it from Congress (who had taken it in a treaty with the Indians) for $1.25 an acre. Part of the area was named Congress park, because they had owned it, part became the Botanic Gardens and part became Cheesman (named after a Denver pioneer Walter Cheesman, the pavillion fund was donated by his family.) But first, Denver had to clear out the cemetery. The Catholics were buried in the garden area, they were moved to Mt. Calvary, some were moved to Fairmount or Riverside, the Jewish bodies were moved to a Jewish cemetery and then to Riverside, the segregated Chinese bodies (mining and railroad workers) were shipped back to China. This left about 5,000 bodies, some were criminals, vagrants or first generation Denverites who had no family to move them. The city hired a guy to move the bodies, paying him by the coffin. That turned out to be a mistake as he started chopping up bodies and stuffing them into child size caskets, leaving bones and things from the coffins lying around for others to come and take (why someone would want to go grab a bone or a watch or whatever was falling out of the caskets is beyond me.) The newspaper found out about it, wrote a scathing article, the city fired the guy but they never hired anyone else. So, every time someone plants a tree, digs up a tree, lays down irrigation or breaks ground on a new parking garage, they usually find a few bodies. If you walk on the grass there are humps and divets in the grass, those are where the graves are. It’s a little weird. The trees have grown so much (and the buildings have grown so tall) that you can only see part of the mountains from the spot at the front of the pavillions, but 100+ years ago it was a different sight.

Here is a picture of the park from the front with raised platform, small trees and reflecting pool.

Image result for cheesman park 1900s

In the picture below you can see how they graded the lawn, took out some trees and planted flower beds. There is talk of digging up all of this and going back to the previous style, I think that’s a good idea.

Image result for cheesman park

From here we walked into the back part of the gardens, walked past some tree species that Rob pointed out were good for planting and listened to the xeriscape gardener talk about his area. We made one last stop to the small rooftop garden, then it was time to leave.

We had lunch at Chick-Fil-A, then headed home to put chicken soup in the crockpot and make cinnamon rolls for youth group. James and I went out to Phil’s for a drink, but it was late and eating places were closed – Waffle House to the rescue!

Advertisements

Walk to connect, Creativity club, perfect cream puffs

Standard

This morning we went on a Walk to Connect tour of Green roofs in Auraria. We took the train down.

Auraria was not the first city in the area (Grant Frontier was), but it was second, Denver was close on its heels and Auraria is named after a town in Georgia that also was a gold town (Au = gold!) After the flood of 1965 which wiped out every bridge from Highlands Ranch to downtown (and wiped out practically the whole city of Auraria) the area was turned into a ‘higher learning campus’.

We toured the first building, Confluence, which has a green roof.

There are areas that the different colleges use for entomology and other studies. The soil is light, a mix of mulch and soil, only 6 inches deep and lightly irrigated with an extra 4 inches of water per year (on top of what we get.) It makes for a nice view too.

After the first building we toured around the 9th street historic district, these are some of the original houses from Auraria that survived the 65′ flood.  Each one has the story of who owned it, the year, architecture and tidbits of history. Even better is that the colleges are using the houses for departments, so they get used and don’t just sit there.

Golda Meir’s’ house.

St. Catejan church, built in 1926 to serve the predominantly hispanic population during that time until the early 70’s.

The old Tivoli brewery is now a brewery again to serve the beer classes at the college.

We over to the Student success building to see another kind of green roof. This one is all succulents (seedums) and is just starting to come back after winter.

We parted ways (some people were walking on to Union station) and took the train back.

Then it was lunch and Creativity club at Whole foods. There were 2 other families there and we had a nice time drawing.

Back at home Grace made these amazing cream puffs for youth group, they turned out great!

Random turkey crossing the street near Eastridge.

 

DMNS co-op and Union station walking tour

Standard

Advent day 7 – So, the story with this song is that when I was a kid my church had a ‘pick the hymns’ night once a month or once a quarter. You would raise your hand and then everyone would have to sing the song you picked. I looked through that hymnal for the song that was the loudest (the kids would start screaming ‘DWELLING IN BEULAH LAND!’), but more importantly to me then was that Beulah sounds like Bueller and that was my nickname (because my maiden name is Buell.). This group doesn’t sing the song as loud as we did, but it’s a nice version. The lyrics mean so much more now, storms of life, I am safe, a fountain that will never run dry. It’s a good song.

Micah 5: 2-4 But you, Bethlehem, David’s country,
the runt of the litter—
From you will come the leader
who will shepherd-rule Israel.
He’ll be no upstart, no pretender.
His family tree is ancient and distinguished.
Meanwhile, Israel will be in foster homes
until the birth pangs are over and the child is born,
And the scattered brothers come back
home to the family of Israel.
He will stand tall in his shepherd-rule by God’s strength,
centered in the majesty of God-Revealed.
And the people will have a good and safe home,
for the whole world will hold him in respect—
Peacemaker of the world!

Whew, long day! We started at the Nature and Science museum and our group toured through the Dinosaur exhibit and the Amazing machines exhibit.

We liked the amazing machines better, there was more to read.

Like reading about this cool fish that can extend it’s jaw to get food in-between rocks, or seeing a fly that is so tiny that it has to clap with’s wings to fly through the air.

Some of us went to see the IMAX movie Dream Big.

It was all about engineering, building things like bridges or skyscrapers and it had a lot of women engineers in it, like I get it, you want girls to know they could do these things, but there’s no need to use just women. Once the movie was over we left, grabbed lunch and went to Union station (parking at Whole Foods garage, first 2 hours free with validation from WF.) Our walking tour was through History Colorado, we’ve done the Five points tour and it was good (and we will do it again, so much has changed down there!) Today was about the Union station area, starting with Union station, the wings were built in 1880 (just 10 years after the train came through Denver), the middle section was built in 1914 and has been going through changes since 2011. See?

1930

2011

2017

The Atrium building, a former warehouse, now office space with the old beams and pulleys exposed.

Ice House building.

In order for the Ice House to become lofts, they had to have windows put in. But, they wanted to keep the old ghost writing on the wall and make the windows part of the sign, they did a great job!

Old Union Pacific RR building, now Chophouse.

Back through Union station to the train boarding area, then down through the bus boarding area and back out the other side.

That was fun! Grace made Devil’s food peppermint crunch cookies for youth group, they are so good.

Weekend

Standard

Saturday we went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast, then headed to Rock Ledge for the Fall fest. CB had Christmas stuff out.

There were a bazillion people there, we got the last pieces of pie and the very last cider. The girls decided to turn in their tickets for soda as the candy scramble and hay maze were a bit juvenile.

We had a lazy day back at home, made pizzas for dinner and the girls went to see the new My Little Pony movie while James and I watched Father Brown.

Sunday we went to church where Phil gave a great message on being included. A dirty sinner, saved by Grace, changed and wanting to be part of a family, included, wanting to be part of the body of Christ and wanting others to join in.

Jesus,
Word, Life, Light.
The beginning of all things,
to this, His family.
Where He longs to be
a part of your life.
Included,
part of a community
but, more than that –
He wants family.
So bring your messy life
your hurt and strife
your questions too,
we are here for you.
There are no lost causes
no pain too great
we long to invest –
it is never too late
to come to the family,
come meet with Jesus.
His arms wait to hold,
to comfort and change,
for the lonely, to heal
to belong to a family
included –
and do life for real.

-Liese

Then we worked in the little’s room and we had dot markers for our craft, we don’t always have dot markers….because…mess.

After lunch James and I went on our Jack Kerouac walk with Walk to Connect. It was a great way to see the city and to connect the Beat movement and writings with Denver. Want to do one of your own? Start here – https://www.denver.org/things-to-do/itineraries/beat-legacy/

We started at Union Station,

and walked to Commons park and started with a brief overview of Jack and Neal. I like it when there are quotes sprinkled throughout the walk. Everything is changing downtown, 3 restaurants that we like closed, one opened as something new, we found a bunch of new restaurants and lots of lofts going up.

Quote​ ​#1​ ​-​ In a letter to a student in 1961, Kerouac wrote: “Dean and I were
embarked on a journey through post-Whitman America to FIND that America and
to FIND the inherent goodness in American man. It was really a story about 2
Catholic buddies roaming the country in search of God. And we found him.”

Quote​ ​#2​ ​-​ ​“Now I could see Denver looming ahead of me like the Promised Land,
way out there beneath the stars, across the prairie of Iowa and the plains of
Nebraska.”

Quote​ ​#3​ ​-​ ​“And there in the blue air I saw for the first time, in hints and might
visitation, far off, the great snowy-tops of the Rocky Mountains. I took a deep
breath. I had to get to Denver, at once.”

From there we walked over the train tracks, past the Denargo market (which is now apartments.)

Quote​ ​#​ ​4​ ​-​ ​“….I had a long warm conversation about our respective schemes in
life and before I knew it we were going over to the Denargo fruitmarkets outside
Denver, there was smoke, smokestacks, railyards, red brick buildings and the
distant downtown graystone buildings and here I was in Denver.”

We are hopeful that they are saving this old firehouse on 20th.

Walking past Coors field we stopped to talk about the statue out front.

This guy hired jackie Robinson and started the inclusion of blacks into baseball. We walked on to an old skid row area onto Larimer street. We stopped in at Biker Jim’s for a whiskey and soda. If you don’t know about the history of the saving of Larimer street – Dana Crawford was instrumental back in the 60’s getting investors to save the buildings rather than tear them down.

Quote​ ​#5​ ​-”He let me off at Larimer Street. I stumbled along with the most wicked
grin* of joy in the world among the old bums and beat cowboys of Larimer Street.
It was also the biggest city I’d seen since Chicago and the big city buzz made me
jump.”

Quote​ ​#6​ ​- Za Za’s was “run with an uncommon dignity uncommon to any Skid
Row.” “While Dad worked on his infrequent morning customers or sat in the
battered barber chair to rest his feet, I absorbed what I could of Liberty magazine
or the Rocky Mountain News.”

Quote​ ​#​ ​7​ – “the renaissance began on a sizzling summer day in 1963, when a
group of winos came to Crawford’s rescue after her puke-green Ford convertible
died on Larimer Street. “Vapor lock,” one of them rasped from the doorway of a
building on Denver’s skid row.

We walked on to Champa and 26th and saw the location of Neal’s home (now lofts), his Dad’s barbershop where they lived before his Mom and Dad separated (it’s actually the tiny brick structure between the big house and the garage looking building on the right), the place where his brother lived  (empty lot now) next to the Puritan Pie Company (now a storage place.)

Quote​ ​#​ ​8​ – “Finally, in last month of this hectic year, Neal got a two-chair shop
near the corner of 26th and Champa streets. In this sad little shop so filled with
contention, Neal and Maude shared the last year of their pitiful marriage ​…
Although food was short, at least there was always dessert, for in the middle of
the next block was the Puritan Pie Company, and on many a Sunday the shop
shades were drawn as Neal cut an employee’s hair in exchange for a pie or two.”

Now we were headed to Five Points, an area where African Americans flourished with jazz, barber shops, hotels, and independent business. The Beatnik generation was looking for something, Jack and Neal loved to sit in on jazz in Five Points, even though they might be the only whites there. They experimented with drugs, sex and looked at other religions (both were Catholic.) They were cruising America from the East coast to the West looking at America in a different way, trying to see if it was possible to experience life and not be attached to the materialistic mode of the up and coming suburban lifestyle.

From there we were just a block away from the Blair-Caldwell library and the baseball field where pick up games have been played since the 40’s. Not too far from this point was the elementary school that Neal went to.

Quote​ ​#10​ ​- “Down at 23rd and Welton a softball game was going on under the
floodlights which also illuminated the gas tank. A great eager crowd roared at
every play. The strange young heroes of all kinds, white, colored, Mexican, pure
Indian, were on the field, performing with heart-breaking seriousness…..Near me
sat an old Negro who apparently watch the games every night. Next to him was
an old white bum, then a Mexican family, then some girls, some boys – all
humanity, the lot. Oh, the sadness of the lights that night!” Kerouac, On the Road

Quote​ ​#11​ ​- “The school cafeteria in the basement was not used by the student
body since most of the children went to their nearby homes for lunch….But there
were a couple-dozen of us who did eat there; the city had appropriated a small
fund to supply the needy children, whose parents applied for it (Father put off
doing this for weeks); a noonday snack of milk and graham crackers.” Cassady,
The First Third

Neal was an altar boy at this church, don’t know if he ever came back to his faith during his wayward years, but he’s definitely an example of ‘saved by grace through faith, not from what I’ve done.’

We ended the walk at Sakura Square instead of My Brother’s Bar (which was closed.) Jack and Neal were all for inclusion, so this area (and Five Points) held a lot of Japanese Americans during and after WWII. It also represented the Eastern religious searching that the guys did while trekking around.

We ended our walk (5.5 miles) and headed to Pig and Sprout (one place we saw on our walk.)

They had interesting drinks and really big small plates. We ended up just getting 4 small plates instead of an entree. Everything looked and tasted really good, nice decorations inside and lots of seating. They are pretty new, so I bet they eventually fill up and get to a reservation point. Back at home we watched a Father Brown and headed to bed.

This week – snow!, worship dance, NIA, St. John’s music at noon, marshmallow roast park day, Creativity club, women’s movie night, Ft. Vasquez tour, hike, youth group, DMNS teen night, MCA teen night, Fall fest, TNO.

Dinners – Chicken tikka, pork roast hash, BBQ chicken and corn on the cob, chicken soup and grilled cheese, (Fri night kids are eating at the museum), not sure about Sat yet…maybe chili or tacos. I have a lot of chicken this week.

Chicken Tikka Masala

1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces 4 long skewers
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat a grill for high heat.
Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.
Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and 3 teaspoons salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro.

(You can toss the whole thing into a crockpot on low for 4-6 hours or cook it on the stove, no need to grill the chicken, jut adjust the cooking time to make sure the chicken is cooked thoroughly in the pan.)

Teacher day, camp

Standard

I set out a note for the girls to do some school stuff, Hannah was packed and Bethany was dropping her off at church at 4pm to leave for camp – I was heading downtown with my Schnooke for breakfast at Snooze and then to an all day teacher training event at the History Colorado museum and the American West museum.

Only a few of the teachers there knew we (there were two other ladies from my HS group there) were homeschoolers, but they were cool with it. We learned about the resources the museum has, field trips, docent tours, on-line archives, hands-on materials and then took a tour of the new Backstory exhibit which has DAM Western art and History Colorado artifacts paired to tell a story.

The pieces were pretty amazing, much better in person, but here are a few things.

Lewis and Clark’s telescope!

Alfred Miller, Shoshone Indians at a Mountain Lake. This painting is so tranquil and I love the way the tree and cliff are boundaries for your eyes that bring them back to the center of water and mountains.

Civil War drum and drumsticks. This is from a NY regiment.

Albert Bierstadt, Estes Park Long’s Peak. This picture is huge, it’s of the Estes park area. I love the way the light bounces off of the trees and the shadows that are cast.

Charles Russell, In the Enemy’s Country. There was a lot of detail in this small painting that you can’t see in the photo. The Indians that are further back are covered in buffalo hides to camouflage them as they trek though enemy territory. Sometimes reading the title of the piece is helpful.

E. Irving Couse, Crouching Indian by Fire.  I loved the brush strokes and color in this one.

Ernest Blumenschein.

W. Herbert Dunton, Black Bears. This one reminds me of an Emily Carr painting.

Kenneth Adams, Reapers (Harvest). I love the light and the flow of this one.

After that we had lunch, then went over to the American West museum, which I have never seen before, though I have passed the building many times. The building itself was just as impressive as the art it held – built in 1880 as a girls’ conservatory school, then it was won in a gambling match, lost in a gambling match, was a brothel, then a gentlemen’s club, an Italian restaurant, a gallery for art and now a museum housing salon style art of the American West (no pictures.) We went over Visual thinking skills and strategies, had a tour of the galleries, then were sent off on our own to investigate a painting. I chose this one:

Donald Crowley, Raindrops.

Image result for raindrops by donald crowley

Yes, that is an oil painting. We convened back at the tables and discussed the paintings we had studied, then it was time to go. The American West museum is free for school groups, so I’ll be setting one of those up. The art is just amazing, you could spend hours there.

Hannah made it onto the bus just fine, she was a little sad that she didn’t get to say ‘Bye’ in person, but I think she’ll have fun.

Fish hatchery

Standard

I wish that homeschoolers would show up to stuff. I went to the trouble of making a field trip at the Leadville fish hatchery, invited 300 people from 2 groups and no one came. I know it’s a 2 hour drive, but we took our time, stopped at Officer’s gulch to see the leaves and stopped in historic Leadville for a snack and to walk around.

We had a picnic at the hatchery and looked at the huge trout in the outdoor pond.

A chipmunk eating and running around.

The fish runs.

The hatchery is the second oldest in the country (Federal fish hatchery.) The building was built in 1889.

Our tour guide started us in this room. So, right now they are raising only Greenback cutthroat trout (a native species to Colorado that in endangered.) They hand squeeze the eggs from females (they are under anesthesia) to mix with milt (male fish sperm.) The male fish sperm only last 23 seconds – so they don’t add it until they are super ready. It also explains why these fish aren’t reproducing well in the wild, imagine a whole host of factors – getting the right riffle to lay eggs in, the right oxygen mix and water temperature and then finding a male who can come fertilize the eggs within that short time span. It works much better in the hatchery.

The next room was more a history of fish hatcheries, fish trains, the old wooden pipes they used (and used until recently when PVC was laid in the middle of the wooden pipe to transport water.) They used to hand fertilize back then too, and make fish food from grating liver and wild game.

They had fish hatching tables back then too, but they were a bit more complicated and you had to do the math.

A water level marker.

Then we got to go back into the part of the hatchery were the fish were growing from fry to adults. Unless you have a tour guide you can’t go see this part. Baby fry.

A fish run full of 5 ” trout.

The bins of fry are on one side, the Moms and Dads are on the other, separated in the runs.

They crossed a Greenback and a Rainbow trout and got some albino trout.

This multi-filtration system is filtering out iron and nitrogen as well as mixing the water to form more oxygen.

Scanning one of the fish. All of these fish are chipped and you can trace the fry to a certain Mom or Dad. The chips will be used when they are released to check on them at a later date – hopefully finding fish without a chip means that they bred in the wild.

The hatchery also raises boreal toads to send to Laramie, WY. These toads are endangered too.

After the tour we got to see one section of the old water pipes made from wood (the metal rings are to hold the wood in place when the water pressure builds up.) The 1890 pipes were replaced in the 40’s with new wood and though it now contains PVC inside the wood is still good.

Our last thing to do was to go feed the fish in the pond, they were hungry!

We stopped a few times on the way home to take pictures.

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

Standard

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.