Sunday, September 19, 2010

Baby Nyla

On Friday evening, we had the opportunity to take newborn photos of sweet baby Nyla for a friend of ours.  She is four weeks old and just precious.  We were planning to get some shots of her with her two big sisters, but her oldest sister came down with a fever the day of the shoot, so we are hoping to reschedule soon to get photos with their whole family.  This was our first baby shoot, and we had so much fun capturing her little features and all her sweetness!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Food For Friday: Homemade Popcorn

In recent months, I've been on a homemade popcorn kick.  It's one of my favorite snacks, is a healthier alternative to other munchies like potato chips, and it is a whole grain and good source of fiber.  With the chemicals used in microwave popcorn having come under scrutiny as "likely carcinogens," a quick and easy batch of homemade popcorn is a tasty and healthier alternative.  If I can have a great snack in less than 5 minutes with no added chemicals and know exactly what ingredients I put in, I'd prefer to skip the unneeded chemicals that I can't pronounce!  (I don't miss the added fat either!)
You only need a large lidded pan, your stovetop, and three simple ingredients: olive oil, popcorn kernels, and salt.  And really, the salt is optional.  (I prefer to use yellow popcorn because it pops fuller, but it's a matter of taste preference.  You can use white or yellow popcorn.)  After experimenting with ratios of oil to popcorn, I've found my perfect combination to be 3 tbls. oil and 1/3 cup popcorn.
Put 3 tbls. olive oil in your 3 quart or larger lidded pan.  Add 2-3 popcorn kernels and place the lid on the pan, then turn on the burner to medium heat.  Give the oil a shake every minute or so until all the kernels have popped.  This lets you know that the oil is hot and ready for the rest of the kernels to be added.  Be sure that all 3 of the kernels pop or you risk getting "popped" with hot oil and a flying piece of popcorn if you remove the lid with an unpopped kernel remaining! 
After all of your test kernels have popped, pour in 1/3 cup popcorn kernels and quickly replace the lid.
Using oven mitts or potholders, lift and shake the pan side to side every 15 seconds or so, to move the kernels around in the hot oil.  It will start popping rapidly.  It's important to keep shaking the pan so the kernels don't burn.  If you have kids and a spot where they can see but not touch, they would probably enjoy watching it pop!
It usually takes just a few minutes for the popcorn to finish popping.  Listen for the popping to slow to several seconds between pops, and when it sounds like most of the kernels have popped, remove the pan from the heat.  Let it sit for a minute or two with the lid on, until any final pieces are done popping (since any remaining kernels usually continue to pop for a minute or so after you remove it from the heat.)
This is when I remove the lid, and add a little bit of popcorn salt to the top, give it a little shake, and dump it into a bowl.  Then I add a little bit more salt to the top of the bowl to make sure it's evenly salted.  It's that fast & easy!
Then grab a movie or your family & friends and enjoy!  I think popcorn is a perfect snack for the cooler temperatures of fall, and also a great snack for Saturday football marathons.  My hubby takes care of those in our family!

If microwave kettle corn is what you crave, there is one quick addition to this recipe that allows you to have delicious homemade kettle corn!  When you add the popcorn kernels to the hot oil after your test kernels have popped, pour in the popcorn, then sprinkle 3 tbls. of sugar on top of the kernels, and replace the lid.  Pop as usual.  I would recommend measuring the 3 tbls. of suger into a little bowl so you can quickly pour it in with the popcorn and get the lid back on before the first kernels start popping!  When the popcorn is finished popping, salt as directed above and immediately pour into a bowl.  If you let it sit in the hot pan for too long after it has popped, it will caramelize & burn.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A New Labor Day Tradition?

Ever since we moved to Denver a year ago, we've been talking about going camping.  We both went camping with our families growing up and love being out in nature, but we had yet to go camping together.  The leaves have already started to change up in the mountains, and in just weeks, it will be way too cold at night to camp outside (in my book anyway!), so our time was running out for a camping trip this year.  With the last days of summer looming, we decided that it was time to make it happen, and we headed out to Buena Vista for a Labor Day camping trip.
We spent 2 nights in the San Isabel National Forest and enjoyed these beautiful views of the Chalk Cliffs and surrounding Rockies.
Since we decided a bit spur of the moment to head to the mountains, and over a holiday weekend, the campground only had available sites for Sunday night, so we went a bit, uh, rustic (for me, not my backpacking-loving husband) on Saturday night and tried out dispersed camping.  Dispersed camping = a rock fire ring + no bathrooms and no water, but it was just us and nature, and these beautiful views.
We grilled over the open fire and enjoyed some delicious fajitas for dinner.
The views from our 2nd campsite were even better.  And there were toilets (a "luxury" even though they didn't flush).  I was a happy camper.
The weather was nearly perfect.  We took a short hike to see a waterfall.
We read in the warm sunshine while we listened to the Aspen leaves fluttering in the breeze, talked by the campfire after dark, and ate lots and lots of s'mores.
We played Scrabble in our tent at night by the light of a headlamp.
We had an awesome long weekend and made lots of fun memories on our first camping trip together.  We both love being out in nature and the slower pace that comes with camping.  Our time was refreshing and relaxing.  It felt like we were gone for longer than 2 nights and it was a peaceful, fun little getaway.
As we got in our car to head home, we decided this just might be the new Lo family Labor Day tradition.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Mountain Retreat

Have I mentioned lately just how very much I adore living in the beautiful state of Colorado?  Because I do! 

Lately, the trend has been that every time I get home, I get to unpack for a few days, only to re-pack my bags to head off on another trip.  This past weekend, we spent a few days up in the mountain town of Silverthorne with our Campus Crusade for Christ staff team for a fall planning retreat.  This was the awesome view from the porch of the condo we stayed in:

We are blessed to be just over an hours drive from gorgeous mountain spots and that we get to head to the mountains for our ministry retreats.  We spent hours sharing about our lives, dreaming about what God can do in the lives of students on college campuses across Denver, and creating strategic plans for our ministry this semester.  We cooked together and laughed over meals.  We even squeezed in some late night hot tubbing under the stars.

 On Saturday afternoon, our director and his wife planned a few hours of fun & relaxation for us and we took a boat out on Lake Dillon.  I grew up boating with my family and absolutely love cruising around a lake.  I think it's so peaceful and calming to spend time out on the water....especially with these gorgeous views!

We really appreciate the awesome group of people that we get to serve with.  They are a lot of fun, they love well, and they challenge us to walk closer with the Lord. We enjoyed this time to connect as a team after being spread out all over the world this summer, and to get to know our newest teammate better.

And, I'm thankful that my bags get to stay unpacked for the next month!  Well, after we get back from our Labor Day camping trip, that is.  Photos from more mountain adventures to come...