Saturday, March 2, 2013

Live Now...Not Later

This past week a beautiful lady, who was a past co-worker and friend of mine, passed away at the age of 59 from ovarian cancer. Karen was intelligent, vibrant, and compassionate, and I truly enjoyed working with her all those years ago at B. Schultz Company in Waterloo, Iowa. The tricks we played on our boss (like the rubber snake that went to Europe in his suitcase or the fake bat in the utility closet) still make me laugh every time! We attended each others weddings, supported each other when our parents passed, celebrated our kids' milestones, and enjoyed many girl moments that one can only share with a true friend.  

Karen inspired me to join the YMCA and get into a regular fitness routine because that was such a huge part of who she was; she was a runner and a cyclist who worked out daily and participated every summer with RAGBRAI (the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa). Karen was also active with her church and community projects and always there to help her family or anyone else who needed it. And she loved chocolate...

Fucking cancer. So indiscriminate. Just goes to show that it doesn't matter how healthy you are, how fit you are, or how much care you take to avoid putting too many potentially hazardous substances in your body...it just doesn't matter. So you might as well do what you want to. Right? 

In honor of Karen, here is one of the first recipes she ever shared with me...

TACO DIP

This recipe can be spiced up as much as you'd like! Brown 1/2 lb. ground beef or turkey, with a medium onion, chopped, add salt and pepper to taste. After the meat and onion mixture has cooled, spread evenly onto a serving plate. Mix 1.5 pints of sour cream with 2-4 tablespoons of taco seasoning (1-2 packets or your own mix) and spread over meat. Next, pour a small jar of your choice of salsa or taco sauce over sour cream and spread evenly. For the finishing layers, add shredded Mexican cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, and serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

And don't forget the margaritas...have two...hell, make it a whole pitcher.

Salud! 






Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Creative Life

This post is just a little bit about the challenges and rewards of doing a complete 180, from the standpoint of switching off from the usual 8-4 five days a week, and cranking it up to 7-9 or 10 most days a week, not because someone else is telling you that's what you have to do, but because that's what you want to do for yourself, for your own enrichment and fulfillment. 

It's been almost three years now... I was working at a JOB that I really didn't like too much, dreaming about all the other things I could be doing with my time. It wasn't like that at first, it evolved, those feelings that the rewards (paycheck with benefits) just weren't enough in exchange for an inflexible schedule, the daily commute, and all the other aspects of working as an employee. I'm a terrible homebody (sign of a true Cancerian), and every morning when I left to go to work my heart sank, and all I could do to make it through the day was to think about when I could leave. Don't get me wrong, I'm not allergic to working, its just that my priorities have changed. And you can't depend on others for your happiness.

I was used to following my left brain, making pragmatic choices, which is why I chose nursing, it was a respected career and it paid well, plus I truly enjoy spending time with people, talking to them, and listening to what they have to say. And even though I didn't like some aspects of the profession--night shifts, exposure to disease, personal injury, liability, etc.--I stuck with it. Then the time came to advance my education again to climb up the salary ladder, so I chose a graduate program in psychology instead of nursing. I gravitated toward women's issues and abnormal psych primarily because of my own personal experiences growing up with a mentally ill mother, that, and the metaphysical, Jungian dreamwork and transpersonal psychology. I loved college, I love to learn.

So now, here I am, an RN with a bachelor's degree in science, a master of arts in psychology, and I'm building a home-based small business Kreations by Kristi, and working steadily toward finishing the manuscript for my first book, a memoir, thanks to the encouragement and support of my critique group, the NoCo Writers. I also continue to practice nursing, but on my own terms. I'm self-employed and offer my services for a contracted fee with absolutely no hands-on patient care required, plus its very flexible and the pay's not too shabby either. As for my psychology degree, I use it daily, in my writing, in my relationships, in my life. I couldn't be happier.

Everyone's priorities are different, of course, and you have to do what works for you, but I think its important to reach beyond your grasp once in a while, and not just settle in because you're comfortable, or because that's what's expected of you. Challenge yourself. I realize some people don't always have a choice, or at least they don't think they do. And being a martyr won't get you far either, staying on a miserable path, convinced there's no other way when there are so many other alternatives. Whatever the situation, if you don't take the reins, something or someone else will--that's all I'm saying.

Big Horn Sheep near Cameron Pass in Poudre Canyon


I'd love to hear about how you're taking the reins in your life.
Until next time,

K

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Delectable Dips

In honor of the upcoming Super Bowl, thought I'd repost my Delectable Dips!

Outdoor summer cookouts are all about burgers, brats, and buns, and fantastic summer salads, but how about some delectable dips to go with the beverage bar? I must confess, I love food (in case you didn't already know that), and I love appetizers, especially when they're easy to make and oh so yummy! Here a few of my all-time favorites. (I love artichoke and spinach dip too, but my family.... not so much;()

Shrimp Dip

1 medium onion
2 tbsp salad seasoning with cheese
1 c mayonnaise
1 - 8 oz cream cheese
1 - 4-1/2 oz can broken shrimp

Mix it up and refrigerate for 3 hours before devouring with veggies and crackers.


Hot Crab Dip

1 round loaf crusty bread
8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 tbsp prepared horseradish
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 - 8 oz flaked crab

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut 1-inch slice from top of bread. Cut out center of bread leaving 1-inch shell. Combine ingredients in separate bowl, mixing well, then transfer mixture to bread bowl. Bake for 10 minutes or until heated through. Dip with veggies, crackers, and torn pieces carved from bread bowl.

Veggie Dip

1 c mayonnaise
1 c sour cream
1 tbsp dill weed
1 tbsp parsley
2 tbsp dried onion
1 tsp seasoning salt

Mix it up and refrigerate for 3 hours, again, before dipping your favorite veggies.

Taco Dip

1/2 lb ground lean hamburger or turkey, add spices and onion to taste
1-1/2 pints sour cream
2-4 oz of taco seasoning - 1-2 envelopes or 2-4 tbsp of your own recipe
Taco sauce or salsa of your choice
Lettuce, tomato, black olives, green onions, shredded Mexican cheese

Layer all ingredients on large serving platter. First layer, meat and onion mixture, then spread sour cream and taco seasoning mixture, followed by salsa, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, green onions, and any other complementary garnishment. Refrigerate for 2 hours then serve with tortilla chips.

So there you have it. This is just a sampling of my favorite dip recipes; there are way too many to list in one post;) If you have a favorite let me know and I'll include it in the next round!

Have a safe and fun 4th of July!
K


8 Hikes and Hot Springs

Where has all the time gone this summer? Seems like June started and July ended and everything in between was a blur. One month was lost to the fire, of course, and the rest I've spent trying to catch up, an impossible task. So much to do and so little time....

For those of you who don't live in this awesome state, there's always something to do, whether you're an indoor or an outdoor kind of gal, or guy. I've been way too indoor-ish lately, not all by my choice either, it's been waaay too hot. Even the dogs won't stay outside long. But it's cool in the mountains, and even though my schedule is still jam-packed for the next few weeks, I'm going to make every effort to squeeze in some hiking and hot springs before the summer is over, preferably in the next few weeks (honey, if you're reading this, hint..hint!). So I've done some research and here's my list of the top 8, in no particular order. They all sound awesome!

1. In the Steamboat Springs area Strawberry Park Hot Springs is in a beautiful natural setting with man-made waterfalls and private pools for total relaxation. For the hike, the Mad Creek Trail is nearby and starts and ends right next to the hot springs. Wildflowers are abundant and might even see a moose or two. The trail is moderate, 6.5 miles round trip and steep in places, but worth it with views of the canyon and aspen groves below.

2. Glenwood Hot Springs has just about anything you would want in a resort. These hot springs are said to contain 15 different minerals purported to heal aching joints at a wonderfully relaxing 104 degrees, exactly what you'll need after the hike. The Grizzly Creek Trail is challenging, climbing 2500 vertical feet alongside Grizzly Creek, and 7 miles round trip, but again, the lush forests and the canyon's famously colorful waterfalls make it all worth while.

3, Ouray features three natural springs, Ouray, Orvis, and Weisbaden Hot Springs. Orvis has seven pools at varying degrees, the steamiest at 112 degrees. Wiesbaden features two soaking pools, one of which is inside a natural vapor cave. Ouray is tailored toward familes with slides and shallow areas, but also has lots of green space for picnics and blanket naps. The Ice Lakes Trail is 7.6 miles round trip and rewards hikers with views of gentle waterfalls, several 13,000 foot San Juan peaks, tons of Indian paintbrush, columbines, and several other wildflower varieties.

4. If you don't feel like roughing it too much, near Durango is the Trimble Hot Springs featuring two geothermal pools, an Olympic size pool to cool off, two saunas, a spa, and summer music performances. There are various hikes in and around the Durango area but  here's on that's supposed to be the best druing autumn when the aspen leaves are at their peak. Goulding Creek Trail is a moderate 6 mile hike roundtrip, with a few steep switchbacks and lots of beautiful views along the way. To get there take Hwy. 550 north out of Durango for 17 miles to the entrance of Tamarron Resort.

5. This one sounds like a great backpacking adventure. Conundrum Hot Springs is in the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness area near Aspen and one of the few natural hot springs that has remained undisturbed by man. The springs are quietly secluded and can only be reached via a rigorous 8.5 mile trail, 17 miles round trip through a beautiful raw mountain setting.

6. Rainbow Hot Springs sounds a little more challenging but worth it. It's a natural hot spring just east of Pagosa Springs. There's a foot soaking pool and a main pool below the springs that spout from a crease above the west fork of the San Juan River. To get there requires a moderate 13 mile hike through dense forest on the West Fork trail with an elevation gain of 3600 ft. Take Hwy 160 East of town to West Fork Rd (#168), turn left, and continue across bridge over West Fork of San Juan River to the trailhead.

7. Hot Sulphur Springs Resort is near Granby and features 24 naturally heated spring-fed pools positioned in a maze of walkways. If you don't mind you and your swimsuit smelling like rotten eggs, I'm sure it's wonderfully relaxing and nothing a little vinegar can't cure! There are many hiking trails at various levels of difficulty nearby in the Never Summer Mountains, Indian Peaks, Neota, and Commanche Peak Wilderness areas.

8.This one is in a class all its own, and doesn't necessarily involve hiking or any other strenuous activity. The Desert Reef Beach Club is a clothing optional oasis in the desert near Florence, Colorado. It's not publicly advertised as to maintain some anonymity, and guests may need to rely on inconspicuous signs guiding them to the club's location. How mysterious. For that reason alone, I want to go;)


So there you have it. Now all I have to do is narrow down my choices and go! And don't forget about this weekend, Bohemian Nights at New West Fest  in Old Town Fort Collins! My booth is on Oak Street near the singer/songwriters' stage...yay! Can't wait for Alison Krauss & Union Station tomorrow night!

Maybe I'll be seeing you?!
K

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hey! I'm back!

I know it's been a while, my apologies. I like to be busy, but because of that, I frequently bite off more than I can chew. I just can't help it sometimes--well, most of the time! This past year I built a new business, a website, an Etsy shop, two blogs, and created enough inventory for the fifteen shows that I'd booked, all in addition to my nursing contracts with two pharmaceutical companies and trying to complete my manuscript. And then, of course, there's all those little incidentals, what you don't plan for--time suckers (that's another post). Whew! I'm happy to say it was well worth it, having just completed my last event of the year (the most successful one yet!). But, as you know, there's never any rest for the weary--just got to keep on keeping on!  

So, all that said...fall is my favorite time of the year. The mornings are a bit crisper and there's a wonderful smell in the air, a combination of dried falling leaves and wood burning in pot-bellied stoves. The only thing missing is the fresh smell of precipitation. In years past, we've shoveled at least three feet of snow by now, but not this year. And unfortunately, the extended outlook is rather bleak. We've had to start watering the smaller trees on our land, because if we don't, they'll die. That's how dry it is. Maybe with the arrival of the winter solstice on December 21st, some much needed moisture will come our way--that is, if we make it past December 21st! Just kidding, Christmas will be here before we know it. (But just in case, we're getting a generator.)

This beautiful buck is such a poser; he's obviously used to human admirers taking his photograph!



Until next time,
K

Monday, August 27, 2012

Palisade Peaches!

It's that time of year again for Palisade Peaches! Did you know, that next to the apple, the peach is the most widely cultivated fruit in the world? Palisade Peaches are grown on the Western Slope near Palisade (of course), Colorado, and they are super-versatile and can be used in all sorts of recipes, not just the traditional pies and cobblers, like in salsas, sauces, smoothies, and soups (say that three times in a row, really fast). Peaches freeze well too, and to use frozen versus fresh makes very little difference.


To freeze fresh sliced peaches:
Blanch peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then peel, pit, and slice thin. Add a generous amount of Fruit Fresh, mix well, place in a freezer bags or containers and store up to one year, if you can make them last that long! (Hint: A sightly over-full quart-size baggie is the perfect amount for a fresh baked peach pie;)

To freeze whole peaches:
Wash first, place whole peaches on cookie sheet and place in freezer. After they're frozen, just place them in a freezer bag until you're ready to use. Now wasn't that easy?

Peach Cobbler

First of all, preheat your oven to 400 degrees, then combine the following ingredients in a large bowl:
6-8 fresh peaches, medium to large
1/4 c. white sugar (or Splenda, Truvia, Stevia, or other natural sugar/substitute of your choice)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. cornstarch
Toss to coat evenly then pour into 9 x 13 baking dish and bake for 10 minutes.

While the peach slices are baking, combine the following in a second large bowl:
1 c. flour (any kind you like)
1/4 c. white sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Then blend 6 tbsp. unsalted butter (or coconut oil) chilled and cut into small pieces.
Stir in 1/4 c. boiling water just until combined.

When the peach slices are done baking, drop spoonfuls of the mixture over the top, and sprinkle with a combination of  2-3 tsp. of white sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Bake until topping is golden and surrounded by bubbly peach goo, about 30 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream topping. Mmmm.

And let's not forget the traditional peach pie! And to set off the peaches, add some blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries, which is what I used in my Peach and Blackberry Pie.

Or maybe you're in the mood for something cold with a kick...... how about a tasty Peach Marg?
This recipe makes 2: In a blender, place 1 c. fresh peach slices, 3/4 c. peach nectar, 1 c. ice, 2 oz. of tequila (your choice, however, I prefer a nice Resposado), and 2 oz. of Grand Marnier. Garnish with fresh peach slices and enjoy!

Bon Appetit!
K

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bats for Batman

What is going on around here?! Mass shootings, or should I say, mass murders, at the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colorado. Absolutely, unequivocally inexcusable. Whether the shooter is mentally ill, has mommy issues or whatever, there has to be 101 other ways to make it better. How is dressing up like the Joker and blowing people away going to fix anything? IMHO, the guy couldn't deal with the stress of it all--grad school, his uber-intelligence, a privileged life--plus obvious anti-social traits and a raging undiagnosed mental disorder(s).

So instead of getting help he takes the cowardly approach and enters a Batman premiere through the exit door and takes it out on adults, teens, kids, and even a 3-month-old baby, who were all doing something very normal--going to a movie. A theater should be a fairly safe place to be, just like a school or a McDonald's. But no, not anymore. Now movie theaters, just like schools, shopping malls, sporting events, or anywhere else where large numbers of people gather to do something deemed relatively safe, will have security guards and a larger police presence because some people just don't know how to behave.

James Holmes could be sent to an institution for the criminally insane to spend his life in a padded cell perfecting his cats-in-the-cradle technique with invisible string, or he could get the death sentence. Where ever he ends up, and because he has forever tainted the movie-going experience for all of us, may he never again enjoy a movie, not even a commercial-ridden rerun on a crappy community room television.

I don't know what else to say. Words can be so inadequate sometimes.

K