Tuesday, August 30

Get Out of Denver (Bob Segar)

On a particularly long and hot driving day....think a 16 hour driving day...we decided to take some much-needed break time from the car.  We were driving through windy Rocky Mountain roads, and there wasn't any place to stop, but we were surrounded by Mother Nature's beauty...
We pulled off on the side of the road and slipped our shoes off to dip our feet in the rushing river.  The waters were moving so quickly...and they were SO cold!  Having never been to this area of the country before, it was all new and fascinating!
It was so difficult to fathom the water being that cold, when it was 100 degrees outside!  But as you looked at the peaks of the mountains, snow was clearly visible.  The rushing waters were the melting snow caps.  Just sitting, closing our eyes, and listening to the sounds of nature around us was a very soul-moving event.
If you live in, or travel through, this area of the country often, you probably take for granted the beauty.  How could you not?  We adore the ocean, but after a while, it becomes routine and we become complacent about this wonderful amenity nature has provided.  The Rocky Mountains were by and large the biggest mountains we've ever seen - and just a little bit scary to venture out on, when you have a gangly pre-teen!  

Sadly, our 'hour of nature' passed all too quickly, and it was time to get back in the car for some more twisty roads.  (Note : These ginger mints work super well for carsickness.  Even better than those bands.)  Had to keep on keepin' on!!

Colorado State Study

Wednesday, August 10

Save You (Pearl Jam)

We grow tons of fresh herbs in summer, but sometimes we find that we've ended up with far more than we can use!  Bartering for eggs or milk is our first choice, but when that's no longer an option, we aim for preserving the fresh herbs for later.

Storing Fresh Herbs
  • Rinse the dirt and and debris from the herbs after cutting
  • Wrap stems in a moist paper towel and put into a plastic bag with small holes in it
  • Keep in the refrigerator for no longer than a week

Four Preservation Methods
  • Freezing 
    • Y'all know we love our freezer to bits (check out all our freezer cooking recipes, if you're new here)...and did you know that you can freeze herbs, too?  Leafy herbs (think : basil, parsley, cilantro) are the best ones to freeze.  After washing, chop them up and pack them into an ice tray.  Cover each "cube" with broth or olive oil.  Once frozen, you can pop them out and store them all in a bag.  They'll keep for up to three months.
  • Oven Drying
    • This is the fastest drying method that we have tried (see below), and is perfect for humid environments.  After washing, spread herbs on a pan lined with parchment paper.  Put into an oven at 150° F with the door slightly ajar.  Check frequently and take them out when they get crunchy and crumbly - takes 1-4 hours.  Store in an airtight jar for up to a year.
  • Microwave Drying
    • So...this is supposed to be an even fresher option than oven drying, and we've heard good things about it, but have never actually tried this method.  Here is a great tutorial from Serious Eats about drying herbs in the microwave : Microwave Drying
  • Air Drying
    • After washing, dry thoroughly (prevents mildewing) and tie the stems together.  Hang upside-down in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place out of the sunlight.  If dust or sunlight is a concern, cover with brown paper sack.  Make sure air is circulating - takes 1-4 weeks to dry.  Store in an airtight jar for up to a year.

Learn more about herbs...
Simple Kitchen Fixes

Sunday, August 7

Allstar (Smashmouth)

The US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs is home to athletes and coaches as they train for the next Olympic Games.  It opened in 1978, and is able to provide housing, dining, recreational facilities and other services for up to 557 coaches and athletes at one time.  It also gives tours every half hour, for those who like to dream big!
The swimming pools are humongous; the weight rooms are tricked out with every possible weight-lifting technology, including some you've never even thought of in your wildest dreams!  They have some fantastic equipment here, and probably the best sports medicine facility around.  It was lunchtime, so the pool and weight room were fairly quiet during our tour.
The athletes stay in fully furnished dorms, and have access to an all-day-long all-you-can-eat buffet at the adjoining cafeteria.  It's the best of the best for the elite few who are lucky enough to be invited to train here...
We watched the boys' volleyball team in training games, and got to play around in one of the bobsleds...
One of the highlights of the day was springing along on the same floor that some of my favorite gymnasts have trained on!  Oh....to have one hour to play on that equipment!!!

Want to stage your own Olympics?  You'll want these resources!

Thursday, August 4

Shine On (Rascal Flatts)

Every summer, we come back around to the swashbuckling phase...donning pirate costumes and sword fighting for the glory (or chocolate!).  At our stopover on Roanoke Island, we took the opportunity to learn more about Blackbeard and the reasons why the area is called "the Graveyard of the Atlantic!"  We put together a pirate adventure just for you at the bottom of this post...

Graveyard of the Atlantic & Maritime Museum on Roanoke Island
More than 2,000 shipwrecks lie off North Carolina’s Outer Banks. A dangerous mix of storms, shoals, and strong currents earn the area the nickname “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”  Stroll along Manteo’s waterfront boardwalks, pass the Marshes Lighthouse, and spend some time at the Roanoke Island Maritime Museum. The museum, a free attraction, is a mistake to miss. Friendly staff and vintage boats at the museum educate visitors and locals alike about the craft and history of boat building on Roanoke Island.

Learn more about Blackbeard at Teach's Hole, with The Story of Blackbeard.

You may also be interested in a Marine Biology Unit or Lighthouses Unit.

It's a Pirate Adventure!!

We may have gotten a bit goofy with the pirate cut-outs.........