August 21, 2011

Celebration of Baby Standley...

I'm baaaack!
Well, don't count on it completely. I think I'm back, but won't make any promises as I pretty much left the blog idle for almost a year.

Last year was a crazy year with family ups and downs and sharing that via a blog didn't seem appropriate. But now, we have a huge reason to celebrate. We're about a month away from meeting our little girl (Little M or Giana - her nicknames thus far since we haven't wanted to share her name just yet). I've been getting teary eyed just thinking of finally meeting her. It's amazing that we are so close to meeting her now. Our family and friends have been so awesome in sharing our excitement and making plans to meet her as well.

Speaking of having a great support system here, on August 6th of this year, my boss and his amazing wife planned our larger baby shower. I already had a surprise one when I went to DC for a business trip in May. It was all of my Language Development team and they surprised me with a dinner at one of their homes and they had a nice dessert, balloons, a sweet card they they all signed and a nice gift certificate to Target.

So, back to this baby shower - I got to invite my coworkers and girlfriends. Yup, it was a girls only baby shower. It was started at 10:30am and she set it up as a brunch. I arrived a little before 10:30 and met up with a friend/coworker at the door. We were the first to arrive. We were greeted by Amy (boss's wife) and was in awe at all the decorations she had personally made - all so classy and just beautiful. These flowers and the individual cakes were all part of the favors each of us got to take home.

Her house is gorgeous, so that added to the overall look of the shower, of course. Soon, more and more ladies arrived. Amy had each of them sign a card that guessed when our little girl would arrive. She also hand made birthday cards with a year on the outside of each of them. Each guest would take a card and either write a note to her or to me for that year and decorate the card using all sorts of fun stickers and scrapbooking materials. I really hope to make this a special card that she'd get every year. It's very fun, for sure.

After each person had a nice mimosa (except for me), we went to the living room to play our first game. She handed out a card with little sayings or words and we'd have to match that word with a candy that she had posted on her fireplace. The winner would receive all the candy - yummmm (yes, I have a major sweet tooth right now). After that, we decided it was time to eat - I know Little M was ready to eat. Amy had a ton of food like cinnamon rolls, orange scones, crepes, asparagus salad, other salads, curried chicken croissants, etc. It was all amazingly delicious and I was quite tempted to take it all home. hehe We played another game at the table of guess Little M's name - it was fun.

We opened gifts after that game was done (no one guessed the name) and we were so blessed by all the outpouring of gifts and sweet cards from the ladies. By this point, it was about 2pm and everyone was ready to head out. Each person took their flowers, cake and baggie favor and were ready to head out. What a great way to celebrate the coming of Little M. Chris and I are so blessed by all the gifts, support, compliments and offering to help once she's born.

Here are a few more pictures.

October 26, 2010


Several months ago I posted about our beautifully blooming apple trees. All the pinks and whites absolutely covering the entire tree - so beautiful. Almost unreal.
This season, Chris and I enjoyed our small apples and even got more than we bargained for. You see, bigger apples make them more versatile because you can peel them, core them and use them for many things, such as apple pie. But we have small apples. They are about the size of a ping pong ball, so peeling them for recipes just doesn't work (at least not in my books). So, we found two main recipes to use them for: apple juice and caramel and chocolate covered apples.

I have to tell you more about each of these as they were amazing! First, the apple juice. Since you don't have to peel them, just core them, this became our #1 way to use the apples. I would core each of them - making sure that the apple didn't contain worms - and put them in filtered water, boiled them and added a touch of sugar. Perfect! Juice for the week! The flavor was outstanding! I could NEVER have ordinary, sugar water with apple flavoring and enjoy it again. The flavor of this "real" apple juice was as if you were biting into an apple. Tangy and sweet. Perfect. My parents even got to get in on all the apple juice making fun! Ha! (Hey, they volunteered!)

The other way we used the apples was a creation of Chef Chris. He made these perfectly wonderful apples with either a chocolate/white chocolate coating or a caramel glaze that was beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.

Chris made these for my parents when they came, his work and a church group we were going to. On the first batch, he didn't know to add milk to the caramel as they hardened a bit too much and they were hard as a rock as you tried to sink you teeth into them. Ha! My mom had a blast trying to work her way through it. But the next batches came out nice and silky.

I would say one of the downers of having so many apples was picking the ones up that fell on the ground.

We'd have to sweep almost every day to ensure we wouldn't have apple juice on our sidewalk everyone stepping on them. BUT we couldn't pick them up every day because our trash cans would get too heavy for the trash collectors. One day, we even found little boys from our neighborhood lining up the apples and smooshing them with their little feet on our sidewalk. I became the neighborhood witch by having to stop that - yuck! What a mess! And when it would be windy at night, we'd hear thumping and rolling sounds on our roof as the apples fell. Talk about keeping us awake at night.

Alas, we enjoyed our apples and the goodness it brought!

Oh, and yes, the title of this entry means "little apples" in Spanish.

October 03, 2010

Pack on the Back

Oh, and so it was a nice large pack on the back. Rewind:

For the past few years, we had a little tradition of going camping during the 4th of July weekends with our friends (I'll leave their names off for privacy). We had gone to the campsite where we found the bear nearby and Rocky Mountain National Park. Very nice camping trips. But this year, we wanted to challenge ourselves a little more. We decided to not pack our cars and go camping, but instead, we'd pack very large backpacks and go to our camping destination on foot, with allllll of our belongings on our backs. It turns out that I had about 30 pounds on my back and Chris had more like 40 pounds.

Yes, the dogs had to carry their weight too. So, they had to carry their own food and some of our stuff too. They carried them on their backs like it was nothing.

We rented our packs since we didn't quite know if we'd like to carry all of our belongings on our backs just yet. Off we went. We'd hike up half of the loop on that Saturday morning and come back following the rest of the loop for a total of 11 miles. The day was cool, so that helped make things pleasant. We had a nice lunch by a forested area and we kept going. What was interesting is that you literally can't carry all the water you need. That would just be back breaking. So, we bought this cool water bottle filter that kills the bacteria using UV light. The taste wasn't great, but knowing you can carry a lighter load by refilling was truly worth it!

Once we got to our campsite, our shoulders were just so sore from the packs. But the scenery from the campsite was unbelievable! There was no one camping close to us at all (only across the lake), so it was quite remote and beautiful!

That night we cooked hot dogs and smores and had a nice night by the bonfire. The surprising thing was that it was so coooold - I still get surprised by that since it was the middle of summer. I went to bed early with the dogs and Chris and our friends stayed up a bit longer. That next morning, we had our breakfast - dehydrated eggs - and our friends headed back to finish some papers for school. We stayed to enjoy the mountains for longer. We took a long nap and Chris and the dogs were rested enough to go for a hike to other surrounding lakes. The dogs LOVE Chris and his adventurous spirit. Chris runs down trails with them and encourages them to follow their hunting instincts. This time the victims were marmots - the dogs didn't catch any of them, but they got very close. This is the second lake Chris got to see.

In the meantime, I took naps, enjoyed the view, exercised a bit, re-filled our water containers and made dinner - again, dehydrated food. This is pretty much all you can take to eat since it's non-perishable, lightweight and very easy to prepare. We had more smores that night....oh, and it even snowed for a little while too. Did I mention it was cold? I believe this was one of my first experiences with camping without any toilets... I think the most challenging part was to find a spot to do your business that felt private. I always feared an animal would approach me in the middle of it all. Ha!

The next morning, we packed up all of our packs and headed out. It was a much nicer hike going back to the car - though we found out instead of doing a full loop, we actually did one segment of the loop twice. Oops! We had a nice picnic lunch, the dogs got to spoon and we were off to a nice well-deserved shower at home. The good thing is that our hike was close to Denver so we didn't have to drive for too long.

Backpacking - the next new tradition for us? We shall see.

September 16, 2010

Who Meeee?

This past Labor Day, Chris and I decided to go camping very last minute - which very last minute to us means that week. Ha! Though many campsites had to be reserve months in advance to secure a spot, fortunately for us, we live in a state where a majority of it is "campable" - meaning, you can put your stuff in your car, find a nice spot in the forests and camp. Being the "experienced" campers, we found a few sites that didn't have any running water, toilets, electricity - nothing. Those were the ones were had our eye on. I found one that I really liked and it happened to be right at the base of the tallest mountain in Colorado - no, it's not Pikes Peak (Pike's is only popular because there is a way for people to go to the top without having to climb - it's accessible - which makes it popular). Actually, we were in the between the first, Mt. Elbert, and second tallest, Mt. Massive (which Chris hiked last year).
I just thought it would be a nice view from our campsite, but Chris thought the campsite would be a nice view from the top of Mt. Elbert. When he mentioned we'd hike the tallest mountain in Colorado, I said, "Who? Meeee? I'm not a billy goat who just goes up mountains!" But, we decided to go for it - I would take on the challenge with one condition - a nice big dinner the night before.

We packed up our car and headed west. We stopped by a Chinese restaurant (classic camping food - ha!) in the small town of Leadville and we were offff. We slept pretty well that night, we had a quick breakfast, layered up (and our dogs) and we were off to the hike. It was generally not too bad of a climb until we got to about 12,000 feet and I was feeling quite weak. As in, I could close my eyes and take a nice long nap if I had the chance. The wind was so strong and cold... It was mentally challenging to put one foot ahead of the other. I got to the point where I didn't feel I could climb anymore and Chris came to the rescue. He pretty much led me through breathing exercises and that truly helped me get to the top - I apparently needed much more oxygen than I was getting by breathing regularly. Oxygen was the key. Once I got more oxygen, the last bit of the climb wasn't so bad. And....

We made it!!!

The views were pretty awesome. Chancho wanted to sleep and Lola wanted to say hi to everyone. So typical of them. They did get quite a bit of compliments - especially about their "fashion forward" coats. Oh goodness! They were cold and they have very little fur to keep them cozy. I do have to mention that my monkey Lola was so cute in that when she saw me climbing down (because Chris and the dogs had to stop to wait for me many times) she would climb up to greet me and climb down with me. So cute and concerned for her mommy!

On our slooooooow way back (yes, I was quite slow since I don't like the thought of falling on rocks) we had a little photo shoot. The first few ones we had to repeat since all Chancho wanted to do was sleep. Once he picked his head up, we were set.

This was quite the little family event. Though there were definitely moments when all I wanted to do was cry, I could say that it was worth it. It was nice to say that I've climbed a 14er and we got to do it as a family! On to the next adventure...

July 28, 2010

Ta Daaaaaa!

I had mentioned in an earlier post that I hadn't been blogging because a lot of things were going on in our lives (broken toes, travelling, etc). I am very happy and excited to reveal our biggest remodeling project to date. It took us about 6 months laboring and having this project in our thoughts. There was pretty much no rest as we were always thinking of "what should we do next?" or "wow - we didn't get anything done for this project this weekend" (with a feeling of guilt).

So, here are the before and after pictures of our beautifully remodeled kitchen:

I'm extremely proud of Chris because he always had a lot of determination and the boldness to try new projects he'd never tried before, like putting up the backsplash. Wow - that was a tedious process and having a perfectionist husband made it look much better and professional. So often I would tell him to hire a professional so we could get the job done quicker - hey, 6 months of not having a fully functioning kitchen is not easy. I'm so happy to enjoy such a beautiful kitchen now. It really made a world of difference. We love our kitchen - so come on over - we'd love to have you for dinner. ;-)

July 18, 2010

June 19, 2010

Introducing Gian!

IT'S A BOY for my brother and sister in law!!! He was born in April, but we didn't get to meet him until the end of May and he's just adorable. Cute little tiny boy who I can't wait to see grow. It'll be so fun to watch his soccer games and see him as he explores the world around him.

We had the great opportunity to be with him during one of his baths. He was actually really quite and comfy during the whole thing until he had to get out of the water and into his ducky towel...

To continue from the picture at the very top, we caught a glimpse of little Gian smiling and having a good ole time as he slept. Isn't that a nice content face? I bet he's dreaming of eating... Boys!

I'm truly proud of being an aunt to this fabulous little guy. He was born only a couple of days before my dad's birthday, so that was probably the best birthday gift my dad had ever received. He had been wanting a grandchild for years...