Philly!

Jon & I are in Philadelphia right now…celebrating our 1st anniversary (yay!), exploring highlights of our nation’s history, and checking out Westminster Theological Seminary. It has been quite rainy so far, but the colors of the leaves are absolutely gorgeous and compensate for the wetness. Since I am writing from my iPhone right now I will update more later and leave you with these pictures from Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed!

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The Pickles

If you’ve got a few hours to spare, pickling is really, really easy. There is only one essential tool I have to recommend: a mandoline. We used a handheld one by Oxo from Crate and Barrel…it worked SO well and cut each cucumber with ease and uniform thickness. One of my favorite new kitchen tools! Jon loved this, too. (Thanks, Susan, for suggesting this!) Anyway, the first step in making pickles is the longest, only because once you cut the cucumbers you have to sprinkle them with salt and wait 3 hours until you start the actual canning. The salt helps pull the liquid from the cucumbers, which is then drained off before you mix the other ingredients. So really, it’s only a long step because you have to wait…not because you are stuck in the kitchen for that length of time. Here are some pictures of our great pickling experience, followed by the recipe we used at the end. Enjoy!

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All finished...yummy bread and butter pickles, canned and sealed!

All finished...yummy bread and butter pickles, canned and sealed!

Grandma Stoddard’s Bread and Butter Pickles

1 quart cucumbers (English work best)
onion and bell pepper (optional)
1/4 cup salt (we used sea salt and it’s recommended not to use table salt)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp white or yellow mustard (whole)
1/4 tsp tumeric
1 liter apple cider vinegar (approx.)
canning jars (3-4 medium size)

1. Slice cucumbers 1/8-1/4 inch thick and place in a large bowl. Add chopped onion and bell pepper if you desire.
2. Sprinkle salt over cucumbers/onion/bell pepper and stir. Let sit for 3 hours.
3. Drain liquid from cucumber mixture & rinse in colander with water to pull off excess salt.
4. In a large pot add cucumbers, sugar, mustard, tumeric, and enough apple cider vinegar to cover. Stir and heat but do not boil.
5. Meanwhile, sanitize/heat jars in lightly boiling water. Heat lid seals in warm water as well.
6. Once steps 4 and 5 are complete, you can start adding the cucumber mixture to the jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of space to the top of the jar. Wipe off the edge of the jar to ensure a clean seal and put lid seal + screw ring on top. (You will know your jar is properly sealed when you hear a “pop” and the middle of the lid seal in inverted.)
7. The next day, unscrew the ring around the jars and wipe off the top edge of the jars again. They will remain sealed, even with the ring removed, and will keep for at least a year.

Happy pickling!

We still exist!

You’re probably wondering where in the world Jon and Lisa have gone…well, wonder no further. We are right here in our cozy home in Denver, CO…just being utterly lazy when it comes to updating this blog! I truly will attempt to update more frequently, although life tends to get in the way and supersede my good intentions to to do so. At any rate, we’ll give it a-go once again. 🙂

Let’s see…since April (the last post) we have stayed quite busy – whether it be travels, family, work, or hanging out around the Denver area. Here’s a quick rundown:

May: Mom and Dad (Lisa’s) came out to visit as Mom had an APU event to attend in Highlands Ranch. They stayed in the spare bedroom and we had a lot of fun pretending we were a B&B and spending some much needed time with them! Jon’s birthday was also at the end of this month and we enjoyed his 27th by going to the Colorado Symphony and hearing an incredible Brahms piano concerto.
June: The weekend before Lisa’s birthday we went camping in Rocky Mountain National Park (Near Estes Park) and experienced nearly every weather phenomenon from hail to snow to wind and rain. We still managed to have fun though and snuggled inside the tent and read and practiced knot tying when the bad weather hit. For Lisa’s 25th birthday (the 11th), Jon made an incredible afternoon tea full of scones and a multitude of tea sandwiches! I must also mention the tea, which was some of the tastiest I’ve ever had. It was called “Creme Caramel” and came from The Tea Spot in Boulder. For all you non Coloradans, you can purchase it here: http://theteaspot.com/creme-caramel-black-tea-bulk.html?catid=253. So delicious! Also this month Lisa’s whole family (Mom/Dad, Mendi/Kasey/Brian & Grant) came out to visit for a few days. Their time here was packed with river rafting on the Arkansas River, a Rockies game, Father’s Day/Patti’s b-day celebration, hiking…you know, all the essential summer Colorado activities!
July: The 4th of July we spent up at the cabin in St. Elmo. Each year on Independence Day there is a town meeting/potluck in the old schoolhouse. Built in 1882, this schoolhouse functions as the town’s last municipal building. STE2 We enjoyed meeting the other families that enjoy this ghost town just as much as we do and had fun with Jon’s Aunt Becky, Uncle Paul, and Grandpa at the cabin. Lisa also attempted to climb her first 14-er (CO term for “14,000 foot mountain”) but stopped shortly after 13,000 feet/treeline due to inclement weather. (Jon, being a major stud, went all the way up!). Still – the hike was gorgeous and educational if I do say so myself! Toward the bottom we encountered a man kneeling down below some Aspen trees picking gigantic mushrooms! They looked kind of like these http://doorbell.net/lukes/a090602.htm and told us they were delicious sauteed with butter. He even gave us one, but after much contemplation we were too scared to cook it for fear of it being the wrong kind of mushroom…the kind that could potentially cause paralysis or even death! Haven’t you heard those horror stories of expert mushroom hunters accidentally eating poisonous mushrooms?? Yikes!! Too scary!
August: The big event this month was Jon’s cousin Ben’s wedding in upstate NY, providing a great opportunity for a Stoddard family reunion! The wedding was beautiful and we also were fortunate enough to see Niagara Falls while we were there and pick up some delish Canadian candy. 😉

Nestle's yummy candy from Canada

Nestle's yummy candy from Canada

Jon and I went to NYC for the first time after the wedding festivities and had a blast, to say the least! We sat nearly 10 feet from the stage for the classic musical South Pacific and I never want to sit farther than that ever again…we were spoiled! We also experienced NY bagels…which really are better than any other bagel I’ve ever had in my life. Central park was another highlight and I was ready to burst out in song when we walked near the large fountain from Enchanted…it was a magical moment. Haha. Our other favorite part about NY was The Frick Collection – a beautiful mansion built in 1913 that now functions as an art museum, housing a large collection of fine European artwork, furniture, rugs, etc. THIS is the museum to go to in NYC…I’ve never enjoyed a museum so much and because it was a private residence at one point, there is something haunting, quaint, and intimate about it. Plus, it’s not nearly as crowded as the MOMA. Needless to say, we loved NYC!
September: Ahhh…enter Fall…one of my favorite seasons and truly gorgeous time of year in Colorado! This month we went up to the cabin again and spent several days re-building the deck as it was completely rotted (supports and all) unbeknownst to all of us. It was quite a task but Jon, Uncle Rex, and AT managed to get it done as Susan and I worked to stain the wood. Good thing too…we’d hate plummet through a six foot high rotted deck in the middle of winter! Jon also completed a Century bike ride this month in Boulder (aka a 100 mile ride) in 5hr 7min to be exact. Go Jon!
October: TBD! Nothing majorly exciting so far, but we are planning a visit to Philadelphia, PA at the end of this month to check out Westminster Theological Seminary. Celeste will be getting her Master’s in Counseling here starting in the Spring and Jonathan is considering going for a Master’s in Divinity sometime next year. Yes, you heard right…Jon is thinking about entering the field of ministry! Believe me, we have been praying about this decision non-stop. At this point in time, all we ask for is prayer as this is a big decision and one that we want to make sure is truly God’s calling and not solely our own desires. Keep your eyes peeled for a post detailing more about this from Jonathan in the future.

So that, in a rather large nutshell, is what has been happening in the Stoddard household. Until next time, au revoir!

St. Elmo Cabin Weekend

We just got back from a fun weekend getaway in St. Elmo, Colorado. Jon’s grandpa owns a cabin up there that he graciously allows the rest of the family to use any time we so desire.  The cabin is just west of Buena Vista, CO in the coolest little town, and by little, I mean little! In fact, I’m pretty sure no one actually lives in the town any more, save the people that own the Bed and Breakfast. There is probably a total of about 20 buildings in the town itself (just estimating) and many, if not most, are abandoned due to the fact that they were built in the late 1800’s when Colorado mining was at it’s peak. Here’s a website for more info on the town: http://www.st-elmo-colorado.com/

Anyway, Jon and I were eager to get up to the cabin one last time before the snow had completely melted so that we could do some x-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. We only saw 4 people while up there – 2 on snowmobiles and another 2 in a Jeep that were heading out of the town after digging their car out of a ditch they managed to get stuck in. Needless to say, it was incredibly peaceful! Here’s a video of some of our adventures, complete with Lisa almost singing her narrative and Jon doing a British narrative for some reason:

And, some pictures too! Enjoy!

sport stacking ever heard of it?

Never fear…neither had I. Until, that is, Amy Stoddard introduced us all to this unusual “sport” that she coaches at a local elementary school in Colorado Springs. Here’s a video you all must watch of the current Sport Stacking World Champion, a 10-year old kid!

Amazing, no?! We all tried this a few weeks ago at a family b-day gathering and it is super challenging. Not being so athletically inclined though, I think I would’ve enjoyed something of this nature in my elementary school days. It’s nice that someone is finally reaching out to the athletically-challenged/braniac kids out there and calling this a sport!

In other news, Jon and I are, of course, still loving living here in Denver. It snowed quite a bit yesterday although it will probably be clear by tomorrow (that’s how things work here). Right now we’re trying to plan something fun for our b-days (which are about 13 days apart) and we’re thinking that camping might be the solution. In Estes Park, CO there are some great camping spots w/ excellent hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. In addition to satisfying the nature-lover part of me, there are also many cute shops & restaurants plus the ultra-creepy Stanley Hotel made famous in the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Shining”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Hotel) You must watch this movie – theversion with Jack Nicholson – it’s a classic!
Featured in "The Shining" and "Dumb and Dumber"

i can't believe i get to live in this beautiful state!

i can't believe i get to live in this beautiful state!

Well, it’s time to wrap this up! We’ve got a Sport Stacking National Championship game to attend to!

-Lisa

OUR HOME!

At last…here are some photos of our townhouse here in Denver, Colorado! Hope you all enjoy 🙂

Reasons to come visit us in Denver…

…not that you need any! But here are some good ones anyway:

1. There are multiple Chipotle restaurants within a 3 mile radius!

2. The REI Flagship store is near us…and if you haven’t been there, you haven’t lived.

3. The Colorado Rockies. They’re not great, but they’re conveniently located and hopefully they will improve…

4. It’s not Hawaii, but we have actual seasons and virtually no humidity!

5. Lots of museums of all sorts.

6. The Tattered Cover Bookstore – which is absolutely amazing according to Jon.

7. Cute, clean, friendly, athletic, outdoorsey atmosphere.

8. There are approximately 15 million single people in Denver alone – wow!

9. It’s the mile high city!

10. There is more than one Five Guys, and if you don’t know what that is, you had better come experience it.

11. Nearby skiing and snowboarding on some of the best mountains you’ll ever experience.

The final reason:

12. We live here now! And we want to see you!

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