Friday, June 19, 2015

Manitou Springs, Colorado

The hubs and I have not had a break in parenting for a long bit (which, I guess you sign up for when having kids, but after the months we have had, we needed a tiny b.r.e.a.k.!) so I got a sitter for 24 hours, so we could clock out and go have some fun!  We decided to head south from Golden (as we most often head west) and decided on Manitou Springs. Here's a small photo dump of some treasures I captured on my phone on our short sneak away. 

We didn't take the highway that leads from Denver to Colorado Springs, instead we left Golden and drove mountain roads the whole way down.  It was great.  We had no timeline, so it didn't matter that this was not the most direct route (but actually, now that I think about it, the drive time was probably about the same, as we didn't encounter the traffic the highway brings). Along the way we went through several little towns, one of which reminded me of Big Bear in California, so I instantly called my brother, as we went skiing in Big Bear when he was living in LA and I went to visit him for my spring break. It was super nostalgic.

 After two hours of scenic driving through the moutains, we arrived in
 Manitou Springs.  What a quirky town. I can only describe it as 
1 part mountain town, 1 part eclectic artist paradise,
1 part Atlantic coast boardwalk town (see photo above)
 and 2 parts hippie haven!  Definitely a town where deoderant often
goes to die.

 Really cool sculptures throughout the little bustling historic town 
at the base of Pikes Peak.

My husband tried to school me a bit and shared
that Mr. Pike (clearly I was only half listening as
I have forgotten his name a week later) was the
explorer who named the Beaver Islands in 
St. Cloud, Minnesota (our hometown).
How cool is that!

I am always excited to find old Episcopal 
churches in cool little towns!  
This vintage Coke machine, built in!

 Fountains are scattered throughout the little town, kicking up the 
spring water that is rushing below. Historically people would flock to
these natural flowing springs for the springs healing powers.

Another fountain

 We cut across the springs to walk through a park and was excited to 
notice the little treasure stone mosaic goat, which of course
reminded me of the story of Billy Goats Gruff.

Someday I will own this very impractical light.  Those Edison bulbs 
sure don't produce a great light source, but this ridiculously cute lamp
(notice the water faucet handle for turning it on?) was made local and
 needs to be seen local, on my front table. I took the picture so Zac would 
be able to buy it for me. I am so good to him, I don't mess around
 with hints, just call me a straight shooter.  Haaaa.

Darn it, was too full from dinner for ice cream, but 
looooved the signage!

 I can't wait for the snow to clear, so we can go back 
with the kids to ride the rail up Pikes Peak.  Benny will
be in heaven!

How cool are structures, supported over the springs below. 

We explored Manitou Springs late into the evening and then
headed to downtown Colorado Springs for our hotel.  Of
course I took a totally rando pic of the wall of our room 
because I get a case of the shakes over old exposed brick.

The hotel was called the Mining Exchange and was gorgeous.  
It was a 10 minute drive from Manitou Springs, and then gave us a
 chance to check out downtown Colorado Springs at night.

 Two doors down from the hotel was a great little ice cream
shop called Josh & John's with a line out the door. Overpriced 
but delicious. Thankfully at this late hour we had room in 
our bellies to try some of the tasty flavors.

After a good sleep in sesh, we checked out of the hotel and 
was excited to see a Dutch Bros. Coffee 2 blocks from our hotel.  
We had this shop in our town in Oregon and I am so excited
 they are clearly moving east! 
I have missed this goodness in my life.

 On our way out of town we explored Garden of the God's. 

 When I was snapping this pic there were tourists from all over the 
country surrounding me and I felt like I was in a scene from the 80s
classic film,  National Lampoons Vacation.  Clearly didn't remember
that it is high time for tourists!

We left Garden of the Gods and back tracked through 
the mountains to home.  We stopped for lunch in Pine, CO
and had the most legit burgers EVER at Zoka!  We sat
on the big wrap around porch and enjoyed the lovely 
mountain breeze and ate burgers. The pic above is Kobe beef
burger on ciabatta topped with carmelized onions, sweet
bacon and melty brie.  It was outrageous.  Z ordered
a burger topped with a bacon and rhubarb jam that
was equally out of this world.  Who really thinks to go
crazy over burgers, but these were seriously the two 
best I have ever tried.
I told Z we shouldbuy a cabin in Pine for 
a) mountain biking and b) burgers
 Pine was hosting the town's Rhubarb Festival, so after burgers
we popped over to see and THIS WAS THE ONLY RHUBARB
WE SAW...on the sign! What the heck?  Rhubarb is our jam 
(and now bacon rhubarb jam is for reals our jam) and they had nothing
 rhubarb. Crazy.  It was fun to see a weird little cover band, and 
search for rhubarb...but I won't put the festival on my list for next year

Well, it was a great 24 hours, and I guess we parents (who don't have 
family around that sporadically take kids for the weekend) need
to remember that a 24 hour babysitter is worth every single penny!

Now, get to Manitou Springs.  

Monday, June 8, 2015

In the Backyard

Our house backs up to a park.  It has been such a big blessing as we walk down there throughout the day for biking, monkey bars, soccer in the field, yada yada.  The park as provided even more excitement in the last couple of weeks as we have had some exciting visitors.

First we were excited to welcome this old lady to the hood. 
 I was extra excited to see her because Logi and I saw a moose 
last summer in town and Zac asked me at least 50 times,  
are you sure it wasn't an elk?  
 Really, a moose looks nothing like an elk.  Cow, maybe?

Then tonight, I was bringing things into the kitchen from dinner, while
the kids were still out on the deck and Logi and Benny started yelling
for me to grab the camera.  I thought maybe ol' lady moose was back,
but instead we were excited to wave at a paraglider overhead.  

We quickly realized he was circling the park, for a land.  
Benny was screaming in excitement. 

 North Table Mountain as a backdrop.  
Seriously, this looks fake, right?

 Coming in for a landing!

Logi was so very excited to go talk to him, as
she really wants to learn to paraglide when she 
is bigger.  She made me promise to ask him
if he could land for her birthday party in August.
Love her.

Happy Summer!  May the exciting visitors out back continue!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pretzel Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches. OMG.

Just FYI, these are outrageous!

I blogged delicious brownie ice cream sandwiches a long time ago,
and was whipping them up yesterday as friends were coming to dinner
and I was wildly inspired (I am clearly deep) to roll the ice cream
edges in salty bits of pretzel.  Oh wow, that took deliciousness to a 
whole new level.  

PS sweet and salty for the win!

Click here for the original ice cream sandwich recipe. And then
get a rolling in pretzel bits.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Leap of Faith

A leap of faith is not life or death, but it is life altering and at times kind of scary. My husband's company announced a few weeks ago that they are closing up operation in Denver and offered relocation to Houston. I know, I know...people lose jobs every single day (hence, this is not life or death) but our cup runneth over with heavy stuff, this first half of 2015 and I just didn't know how we would mentally, emotionally and physically handle this big change.  We were forced to make a decision quickly, which we don't do well (hell, it took us years to get to Denver, where we really wanted to be, as we waited on just the perfect fit for Zac's career)

After a ton of talking: amongst ourselves, with our financial planner, with our parents, we decided that what we want in our lives, in this minute, is to be in Colorado.  We have a simple little life here (which yes, will be thrown for a bit as in essence Zac is quiting a job he loves) and we just want to see if we can make it work in hopes and prayers he finds something within his industry here in Colorado.  Anyone need a Petro Geologist?  I have the name of a good one.

Zac and I did prepare for such a time, as when we were young in our marriage we saw something on Suze Orman about setting aside 9 months worth of your living expense (at the time rent on our little apartment in Oregon, bills, fuel, food, yada yada) and never touching that money.  That would be the safety net, should we find ourselves in a pickle because of income lost.  So, we started stashing that money away.  We never touched it.  Through down payments on homes, cars, vacations, retirement savings, college saving plans...we pretended that money did not exist.  I am thankful we were wise to that suggestion at the time, and have that cushion for now. 

So, it is with a big gulp of excitement, a tad bit of nerves and a big load of trust, we are staying put.  We will work our tails off to stay here, and if the time comes that we face the reality that his industry has changed beyond recovery in Colorado, and we need to move on, at least we will know that we did all we could to try and stay.  It feels risky, but more so, it feels right!

I just read in a book (it was chick lit, so I am not citing the source, just trusting it as truth (yes, blindly) that the Chinese word for crisis is the same as the Chinese word for opportunity. Trusting in that.

Here are a few snaps of our life here, and I think it is quite easy to see why we love it so:

 The morning sun out my bathroom window.  
I will never tire of my morning view.

Concerts at Red Rocks are 10 minutes drive away.

We can drive an hour to watch amazing events, like my 
summer favorite, the Go Pro Games in Vail.

My love of boots!

Our park! Again, will never tire of this view!

Fall colors!

 Camping weekends!

I love walking to school each morning to drop Logi,
then again in the afternoon to pick her up.
 Neighbor friends are the luckiest of friends.
These kids will totally be a fierce bikey gang
in a few years, I just know it.

Editor's note:  My Chinese speaking friend, Qimin, totally debunked my heavy 
research on Chinese proverbs (reading the book Fly Away Home by Jennifer 
Weiner)...but I am now blindly pretending I didn't ask my friend.  
Ignorance is sometimes Bliss, after all (I knew I shouldn't have asked)!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Kate Spade SALE

OMG, before you call in for reinforcement, thinking I am drowning my anxiety in retail therapy, this is one more SUPER LEGIT SALE that needs to be shared.  ONE MORE DAY read: the hours and minutes are ticking check this out!  Up to 75% off bags, clothing, bangles and more...get you some!

I sensibly ordered this wallet.

Look below to see a few of the other items I responsibly 
turned away from.  So much cuteness, check it out!

How cute is this mini backpack.
I know I hear a few friends gagging at
the idea, as it feels totally throwback 
to high school and Cher from Clueless,
but I love.  
 I am always a sucker for a bucket
bag.  This one is adorable.  Marked
down to $139 from $328 quite the deal!
If I was having a baby, this diaper bag/carry all
would have found it's way into my virtual cart.
 Really.  Someone needs this bag.  
$159 marked down from $429
Sweetest little bangle!  I would stack it with others.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

West Elm SALE!

Ohhhh, may someone out there benefit from my duvet cover browsing.  I am not in search of a king size duvet cover, but just came across this stunner, that is on wicked discount.  King size sale price $39!  Get you some! 

Just add some crisp white sheets, you are set! I love most
anything with a Greek Key pattern.  It's a pattern that you will 
often find in old architecture and it always makes me happy.

I love this pattern, but also love the ticking stripes pattern in the
 picture below.  I switched out our bedding and our bed is currently 
covered in a lonely, coverless duvet.  Sad story for that poor guy. 
 I might do a combo of these two patterns.  

My love of ticking stripes always makes me feel like I should live
in the country and work at a general store.  It's a big love.

Bonus, this duvet is on sale for $39!!!  

I am thinking I will order the duvet cover in the ticking stripes 
pattern, along with two of the standard shams in the ticking stripes.  
Then I will order a Euro size (oversized and square) in the other 
pattern, to garnish the stripes.

Then look at this cutie in the same hue, that will sit pretty 
with the mash up of patterns. Ohhh, I am excited.

Now, must get my order in, before they run out!



Friday, May 8, 2015

Loaded Banana Bread

My dear, sweet Benny (2 years old) is really into bananas.  
His love of bananas runs deep.Yet, the depth of said love lasts only 
about 3 bites per banana and then he refuses to touch the half eaten 
banana again. And we must start over with another whole banana. 
I, being the practical 'thou shall not waste a perfectly
 good half of banana' mama that I am, 
started storing the remaining bananas in a container in the 
refrigerator and decided it was high time I create a go to banana recipe. 
So Benny, keep up the good work, I could eat this goodness all year long!

This recipe will yield 2 large loaf pans of outrageous 
quick bread or ~32 large scoop muffins. 

What you need:
1 cup of butter (soft)
4 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
With an electric hand mixer (or stand mixer) blend the above ingredients
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp baking soda 
Place dry ingredients in a sifter
5 ripe bananas (peel and mush finely with a fork) yields ~2 cups
1 cup finely chopped raw pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut (+ additional 1 cup for topping)

 Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in three heats.  
That way the wet dry integrates very well.  I always hand
mix at this point, as to not over mix.

Fold in the banana

 Fold in the pecans, coconut and chocolate chips

Use a large scoop if you are going the muffin route, otherwise 
coconut oil two large loaf pans.

For muffins I am borderline obsessed with parchment muffin
liners.  They do not stick to the muffins, like the fluted cups
sometimes do and they look so dang cute, which is obvy 
important!  I buy them in big bunches on the internet.

here's a little picture from an old post.  After coating
the pan with coconut oil, cut a piece of parchment paper
for each pan, allowing a bit higher up the sides, so after
baking you can run a knife along the two shorts sides
of the pan, then use the parchment like handles to lift the 
bread out, and transfer it to a cooling rack.  

Top with a good sprinkle of coconut 

Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes if baking muffins and I would
guess at least one hour to one hour and 15 minutes for 
the loaf pans.  Make sure you do the toothpick check!!

Although them to cool a bit and then get your gobble on!!

 Benny Approved!!