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happy birthday, neva

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Recipe: doggy birthday cake

This weekend, we celebrated Neva’s first birthday! Can you believe it? She’s now one year old. Such a big girl compared to that silly little puppy pup she once was. Neva has learned so much since we brought her into our home. She still has a lot more to learn, but we’re so proud of how far she’s come.


the little munchkin seeing snow for the first time



Neva has had a lot of time on snow in the ten months we’ve had her, and every single time she acts like it is the very best thing ever. How could I not love this girl? I guess this is why I love dogs in general – they have this undying genuine enthusiasm for living. Jeremy and I decided that we’d take Neva on a nice backcountry ski for her special day. She got lots of snacks on the way up and tons of running on the way down.

neva wagged the whole way up

waiting patiently for more treats

skiing out with a view east toward the flats (great plains)

sufficiently tuckered out that she had fallen asleep on the ski boots



After all of that exercise, we made sure Neva replenished those calories lost and then some. She partook of some raw beef (her favorite) and sampled a couple of strawberries (she likes those) and she had cake. Yes! She had birthday cake! I had done some quick research a few days earlier to make a nice dog-friendly cake for our puppity pup. It is mildly sweet (from applesauce and banana) and tastes like a bland, fluffy quick bread to us humans, but Neva LOVES it! Of course, Neva is a lab, so she loves pretty much anything. The recipe is simple and quick. The best part is that it is pretty well-behaved even at my elevation. Winner.

cream cheese, baking powder, egg, peanut butter, whole wheat flour, coconut oil, applesauce, banana



**Jump for more butter**

boom!

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Recipe: thai firecracker shrimp

What do you know? It started snowing earlier this week! It was only a few inches at first, so we didn’t get too excited, but it made for nice conditions skinning up the mountain and skiing out. It was especially nice as it actively snowed on us when we took Neva up the mountain for the first time. While uphill skiing is permitted on designated ski routes throughout the day, dogs must be off the mountain during the hours of lift operations (9:00 am to 4:30 pm). Neva had to be on a leash because she’s still such a puppy. She wants to bound off to greet every new thing she sees: snowmobiles, other skiers, other dogs, ski resort staff, ski lifts, sticks, balls of snow, snowflakes. She’s so crazy with energy, but she did great. No one got hurt (#1 priority), Neva had a BLAST, Neva was exposed to resort skiing, and the pup was completely wiped out when we got home.


she is ready for adventure!

happy happy girl



When we are in Crested Butte, I usually bring tons of work and projects in the hopes of making headway while here. I discovered a while back that it becomes so overwhelming, I don’t manage to get much of anything finished. These days, I limit the projects that come with me and my productivity has improved considerably. This includes several baby quilts that are finally materializing under the needle of my sewing machine. With any luck, I will be sending flannel rag quilts to babies and children across the country just in time for summer – the hottest season of the year. Go me?!

my favorite stages: selecting fabrics and sewing the quilt together

the “rag” side of the quilt – the left was just cut, the right has been washed dozens of times



The snow did eventually arrive here in Crested Butte, and we enjoyed some powdery turns on runs and in stashes that the spring break crowds don’t know about. But we are on track for spring in a big way with sunshine, warm temperatures, and no snow for the next week. Don’t forget your sunblock.

jeremy rides a wave of powder

it’s best in the trees right now

ski the pow, take in the views, repeat



Last month I hosted a Thai dinner for our friends and spent some time researching appetizer recipes before I realized it was just too much for me to get done for the party. I never used to let people bring anything, as if it were some failure on my part as a host. Now, I accept that distribution of labor is not a bad thing and it allows me to enjoy my own dinner parties far more than in the past. So I asked Wendy to bring appetizers, which she did – and they were wonderful. But I still had this recipe for Thai firecracker shrimp I had bookmarked and decided to test drive it.

spring roll wrappers, pad thai sauce, thai basil, water, shrimp, peanuts, cornstarch



These are simple enough to make, but a tad messy, so have a damp towel nearby for wiping your fingertips clean. The rolling of the wrappers is probably the trickiest step that took me a few practice rolls before getting it right. You will want raw shrimp with tails on but shells off. One issue when shrimp cooks is that it curls up into a C-shape. That’s fine for some dishes, but we don’t want the shrimp to curl in this case as it might bust open the spring roll wrapper during frying. To prevent the curling, three scores across the shrimp along the inside of the “C” will do the trick. Marinating the shrimp takes all of three minutes or so. Quick.

score the shrimp

marinate all but the tails in pad thai sauce



**Jump for more butter**

sweetness

Monday, March 7th, 2016

Recipe: pralines

We’re doing the happy dance over here because we finished our taxes this weekend! It’s not as bad as all that, but it isn’t a good time or something anyone chooses to do voluntarily – except for tax professionals. I will admit that taxes have gotten easier for me because I’ve learned to document and track my finances throughout the year such that it’s now a matter of tabulating the totals and entering the numbers. I like doing the incremental work so that we don’t have to spend more than a few hours getting it all together come tax time. Thanks, Past Self!

It means that we can spend our spare time skiing and doing other things – but mostly skiing! While Neva was at doggy daycare, we skied a “no dogs allowed” trail since we can’t ski it when we want to take Neva out in the snow. I had forgotten how nice it is to be able to climb hard and not have to stop for or worry about doggy issues. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my pup, but I don’t have to do everything with her. She had fun, we had fun, and we were all happy to see one another again at the end of the day.


slapping skins on for the climb

soft snow in the trees (kinda crappy out of the trees)

my reward was (half of) this amazing bacon cheeseburger at oak



And it’s not like Neva didn’t get to go play in the backcountry, because the very next day Erin and Banjo joined all of us on a ski tour! Neva is getting better about minding Jeremy and keeping clear of his skis (and those sharp metal edges). She’s actually best about avoiding them when they are moving. When we all stop to rip skins or shed layers, she starts hopping around and between the skis which is when she’s most likely to cut a paw. To help her obedience when we’re on skis, we alternate days working with her while we hike. It’s all about fun for Neva, but for us, it’s all about training her so she can be safe AND have fun for many years to come.

erin and banjo on the way up

getting neva ready for trail running season



I just booked travel to see my parents in Virginia this spring. Spring is a fine time to visit my home state because Williamsburg is thick with green leaves, flowering dogwoods, azaleas, and a host of beautiful birds. Any later than mid spring and I just can’t handle the heat and humidity. There are some staples that I always bring back to Colorado with me – like Virginia country ham, Virginia peanuts, and praline pecans. I never ate a praline on its own until a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean I never ate one. I consumed more than the legal limit when I was kid – all of it in the form of ice cream because pralines and cream ice cream was a favorite in our house and my parents used to own an ice cream store. Fast forward almost 40 years and I’m thinking “how hard can it be to make your own pralines?”

sugar, light brown sugar, salt, vanilla, pecans, cream, butter



Yup, that’s all there is to it. Basically you’re cooking pecans in caramel on the stove and agitating the caramel until it turns grainy. At that point, start dropping the pralines to form the beloved candy of the South. DO get all of your equipment ready ahead of time, as caramel waits for no one when it’s time to start dropping pralines. DO use a saucepan no smaller than 4-quart capacity because this stuff wants to, and will, bubble up during cooking. DO use a candy thermometer so you can track the temperature of your caramel.

toast the pecans

place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan



**Jump for more butter**