Friday, December 31, 2010

The Arrival of the 119

Winter Steam Festival is an annual tradition at Golden Spike National Historic Site. From May to October, both locomotives come out daily for visitors, but they get put away for repairs and maintenance during the winter. However, each year in December, one of them gets to come out to show off her steam in the cold winter air. This year was the coal-fired No. 119. She's beautiful. You never know who or what may arrive on the locomotive. This year, I saw three boxes of giant cinnamon rolls walk off that locomotive. They were the perfect complement to Ron's Dutch Oven Chili. Last year was the wood-fired Jupiter. That's when they roast hot dogs!

Can you find the STEAM in each of these pictures???

My favorite Park Ranger in the Universe helping visitors make a connection to the resource.

Ron, the Engineer

K's office and hat press at the Spike.

It's her time to shine and spout off a little steam!


This is my little sister and her family. They also live in Iowa, but it's three hours further East! This year, they were able to drive to Des Moines to rendezvous with us for the day. It was so nice of them to spend six hours on the road in order to see us for lunch and gifts, especially considering all the driving they regularly do. Good weather and roads at least.

This is my nephew, J. He and his brother enjoy reading, a lot. It pleases me to no end that they have been raised in a print-rich environment and are wide readers. J is becoming more smiley and talkative. I noticed that he's eating larger quantities as a fifteen-year-old sophomore. He has his learner's permit. J wasted no time sampling some of his Christmas sweets and I chuckled quietly to myself whenever he casually meandered over to the candy dish to sample some more of the bridge mix. I love my nephew, J!

This is my nephew, A. He and his brother enjoy technology, like most kids their age. A is twelve and in seventh grade. While visiting, he "confirmed" with me some things he had been learning in his Japanese class. He also gave his order to the waiter in Spanish at the Mexican restaurant. He plays the piano over the phone for me and sometimes composes. I love my nephew, A!

This is K's little bro, J. J puts up with me when I visit in that I force him to hug me twice, once hello and once goodbye. He is a superb gift finder at Christmas! This is the first time I've dared to take a picture of him. I knew he wouldn't really sit still, so it's kind of blurry because I had to act fast! J is a cutie-pie. I'm just repeating what all the girls are thinking.

This is K's cousin, K. They were very close growing up, so she's kind of the sister he never had. She is intelligent, witty, and accomplished. All I can say is "great minds think alike."

Walking in Snow

We stopped for a few minutes up on top of Rabbit Ears Pass in Colorado. The snow was just dropping from the heavens. In fact, driving down from the pass was like being on a sledding course--just stay between the two snowbanks on either side and follow the track down the mountain.

This is my first post-surgical snowshoe outing. It was tough breaking trail near Frisco, Colorado. Great to get out, though, especially in the middle of our long road trip. Like the cave trail in summer, I'm hoping our snowshoe treks will become a little easier for me as I condition myself.

There's a bit of a tradition at Grandpa's farm to take a walk after dinner. It was SO cold and blustery and windy that we decided to just go down the road a piece. However, it was SO cold and blustery and windy that we decided to turn around until K said, "We have to at least make it to the white sign." So we did. And then I ran ahead just a bit more to say that I made it farther than the others.

Attempts to capture the right glimpse.

There's my sweet hubby and his incredible parents. Inlaws=JACKPOT!

I think they call this building the...well, I honestly don't know. So many outbuildings: the barn, the shed, the garage...this one may be the corn crib. No idea, but this is where I asked about and finally learned the word cupola.

The Summer Kitchen. I think they used to butcher chickens, put up green beans, and do other sorts of farm work here. Still not entirely clear about the true meaning of "Summer Kitchen."

K noticed all of these birds congregating during the snowfall. So, of course, he grabbed the camera, ran outside, and snapped the photo. We parkies kind of roll that way.

We just hope we can continue walking, walking in snow.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Weight Gain

Peanut Clusters. K makes them bigger than his mom does. Um...I'm not even including everything here. Left off are photos of the happily consumed: chicken and noodles, Famous Dave's BBQ, chicken and wild rice soup, Pizza Hut Pizza, Mexican food from Pueblo Viejo, fudge, Old Chicago, jam thumb print cookies, Kobe An Japanese food, mint brownies, M&M cookies, ham dinner with mashed potatoes and corn, sloppy joe lunch with waffle fries, ETC!!!

Crispix Mix

Spritz Cookies

Sugar Cookies

Peanut Brittle. It was spot on this year. I don't think I even liked peanut brittle before I met these people. Now I am a True Believer.

Swiss Steak

Actual Almond Bark

Custard Pie. I know. It doesn't stop.

Candy Cane Cookies. This is a labor of love, let me tell you. The taste is so good because of the almond extract. Do you see how my mother-in-law totally gets the RULER out? Intense!

Cheese Ball. Sold as a fundraiser by the United Church of Christ in Melbourne, Iowa. The recipe is a total secret. Those church people are not talking.

Porcupine Meatballs. A lot of people wonder if we eat porcupine. No, we don't. When the rice cooks inside the hamburger meatball, it sticks out, which reminded someone a long time ago of a porcupine.

Apple Salad

Let's get back to the healthier foods and sane portions, shall we?