Celebrating a Birthday With a Short Fort Collins Retreat

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Happy Monday, friends! Yesterday was Chris’ (ahem) 34th birthday … happy birthday, love! So in one of our favorite long-standing traditions, we went out of town for the weekend. While we were originally thinking of Telluride, driving that far meant Chris and I would both have to take a couple days off work, and at almost 8 months preggs, I can barely go 20 minutes without needing to pee, so something closer felt more realistic and do-able. We finally settled on Fort Collins, which is only about an hour away, but still felt like a nice getaway all the same.

(As you might recall, Chris’ birthday trip last year was our first trip to Steamboat Springs—now one of our fave places — as well as our first trip as a family of three. How fitting that this year’s birthday trip for Chris was likely our last trip as a family of three, since Brand New Baby C will be gracing us with her presence in mid-December!)

Anyway, back to Fort Collins. My good friend’s sister lives there, so I hit her up for recommendations, and she definitely came through for us. On Friday night we checked into our hotel (note: There are so many cute Airbnb places to stay on Fort Collins, but unfortunately I booked too late and they were either all sold out or ridiculously expensive, so we ended up just staying at a Best Western. It was fine for location and the free brekkie, but next time we’ll hope to plan ahead and stay at an Airbnb.) and then headed over to the Jessup Farm Artisan Village.  It’s a super cute little outdoor area with a bunch of shops and restaurants and a brewery. We checked out the Jessup Farm Barrel House for drinks (for Chris, not me) before dinner, then had dinner at The Farmhouse. The Barrel House was a lot of fun and had a festive atmosphere with games to play outside, and dinner at The Farmhouse was tasty, but the inside was all booked out with reservations and a big party, so we had to eat outside which was slightly chilly. Note to self: next time you want to eat here, make reservations ahead of time!

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^^ This pretzel was every bit as delicious as it looks here. The one thing I’ll also note here is how friendly everyone in Fort Collins was. Twice we sat down at a table and had people join, and they were so lovely and nice and easy to talk to.

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^^ She kept this hat on for all of two seconds, but it wasn’t for my lack of trying to get her to keep it on all throughout dinner!

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On Saturday we grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel and jumped in the car for the 20 minute ride out to the Shoreline Trail to Horsetooth Reservoir. (It’s worth noting that there is a $7 fee to get into the park.) Colleen had noted that she did the hike earlier in the year with another pregnant friend (since I mentioned we were looking for something super easy, since I’m super slow these days!), and she was right that it was fairly flat, with only a modest incline for a short amount of the hike. Plus, the overall trail is less than 1.5 miles long, anyway, and it’s so scenic and beautiful, especially on a lovely fall day like we had.

It’s also worth noting that the drive out there took us along the Reservoir Ridge Trail as well, which was another hike Colleen had recommended and which was pretty even to drive along.

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After the hike I was craving cupcakes (yes, even after a 1.4-mile hike, so sue me!) so we headed into the downtown area to walk around and stop in at The Little Bird Bakeshop, where I actually didn’t end up getting cupcakes at all but did get a hot chocolate and a pumpkin whoppie pie and chocolate chip/macadamia nut bread to share.

After our little downtown break we hit up some breweries for Chris. First up was his new favorite haunt, Horse & Dragon Brewing Company, which was super low-key and relaxing. (Well maybe not relaxing, per se. Is anything relaxing when you’re doing it with a toddler?!) Anyway, we loved it there so much we went back on Sunday. After H&D we met some of Chris’ friends over at New Belgium brewery, which was a whole crazy experience and like a world all by itself. A lot of people like New Belgium these days, and the popularity showed at the brewery, because it. was. bumpin’! Seriously – so crazy busy and crowded, and definitely not what we’re used to when it comes to breweries. Still, it was fun to see it and say we went, even if we never end up going back 😉

After that Lotte was getting a tad antsy, so we headed back to the hotel and ended up having take-out dinner from the steak restaurant right next to the hotel, Charco Broiler. Chris ordered his traditional birthday steak dinner, but by this point I was pretty full from all my snacking throughout the day, so I went with a veggie cobb salad. Lotte had spaghetti and proceeded to make as much of a mess as you properly can in a hotel room.

Oops 😉

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^^ Chillin’ with dad after a full day of fun!

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On Sunday (Chris’ birthday!) we tried to have breakfast at Lucile’s Creole Cafe, but judging from the line out the door it would have taken forever to get seated. So we headed back into town and to the Silver Grill Cafe, which still had a bit of a wait but was totally worth it for their legendary cinnamon buns, which do not disappoint!

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^^ Blood Mary’s for the birthday boy, of course!

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^^ See what I mean? Ah-mazing.

After breakfast we decided to check out the trails at the Environmental Learning Center which, while serene and idyllic, were not exactly stroller friendly :/ Oh well, lesson learned! Lotte had fallen asleep in the car on the ride over, so it wasn’t worth waking her up and the birthday boy has muscles of steel anyway, so he could handle it 😉

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^^ And yes, we did head back to Horse & Dragon after our walk to try to recreate the family photo we took at a brewery on Chris’ birthday last year and to grab one last beer for the birthday boy.

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^^ Family selfie success!

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^^ And one of just this face, because … come on ❤

And that was it. Happy, happy birthday to the man who makes the most amazing father, husband and friend that a gal could ask for. We sure do love you, Chris ❤

Bis bald, friends!

The First Snowfall of the Season

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Happy Wednesday, friends! So remember when I said yesterday that we had lovely fall weather this past weekend? Colorado is the craziest of crazies when it comes to weather, because a gorgeous, fall Sunday can be followed quickly by a winter-white Monday, which is exactly what happened. Of course by Tuesday the snow had all melted and temps were in the upper 50s … but for a couple hours on Monday Lotte & I jammed out to Christmas music (yes, we really did), put on our snowsuits (well, Lotte did, anyway) and braved the cold to play in the snow.

Last year Lotte was too young to really understand what snow was, and while she’s still a tad too young to really get it right now, she was definitely much more interested in this cold, wet, white stuff, and she couldn’t stop staring at it. It was pretty adorable.

So, happy holidays, friends! At least for one day …

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Fawning Over Fall Days & Continuing Our Pumpkin Patch Tradition

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As I type this, it is snowing like crazy outside. Oh Colorado, and your crazy weather, you do keep us on our toes! This past weekend was glorious, however, and we spent a wonderful Saturday afternoon at the same pumpkin patch where we took Lotte with her grandparents last year when she was a mere tiny thing of two months old. We love Rock Creek Farm and the traditions we’re building with Lotte (and soon-to-be-new-Baby-C). I can’t believe next year when we head back it’ll be with both of our little babes in tow.

Life sure is funny and strange and beautiful and scary, isn’t it?

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Quick Vail Visits With Best Friends

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Happy October, friends! My friend Lisa came for a visit last week and it was so splendid. We actually headed to Vail for a quick overnight getaway on Sunday, where we stayed at Antlers and ordered food and walked around the adorable town and chatted and basically had a blast. An early fall snowstorm coated the ground in snow, which made it all the more beautiful and festive, if not somewhat scary to drive home in :/  We made it, though, and the trip was definitely worth the trek!

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^^ This photo is blurry, but I love it. Lisa & I have so much fun together, always. I seriously hope Lotte and new Baby C find friends like her in their own lives …

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^^ The view from our balcony. I would highly recommend Antlers – it’s close to a bunch of shops and restaurants and has a free shuttle to take you into the other section of town. We had a huge kitchen and living area with a fireplace, plus a balcony with a grill. We didn’t use the pool or hot tub area, but it looked glorious, as well.

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^^ Lisa took this shot on our porch – oh hello, third trimester! This pregnancy is seriously flying by, so I’m hoping to slow down a bit this season and savor the final few weeks of it (11, to be exact!) … as if that’s possible 😉

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^^ While Lisa & I were livin’ it up in Vail, Lotte had a fun little day date with her dad on Monday. He took her to the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center, which I think may have actually been more of a trip for Chris than for Lotte 😉 (Chris’ obsession with tarantulas borders on the insane … ) Look at this fun lunch he packed for Lotte for their little outing, though – how cute?!

We spent the rest of the week at home, taking walks, making trips to the playground, cooking delicious foods (well, Lisa cooked, I ate), and Chris & I even snuck out to the Red Rocks Thursday night for a date to see The Shins, which was amazing.

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^^ The Shins were amazing — such a good show! Thanks for letting us play hooky for a night, Lisa!

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^^ Three (ice cream) cheers to besties and the amazing times we have with them. Please come back soon, Loo, we miss you!

This Beautiful, Magical Place They Call Yosemite …

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Happy Monday, friends. I’m on to the last leg of our California trip, Yosemite National Park. We stayed in the most amazing cabin called the Birdhouse, which was part of the Scenic Wonders properties. It was right next to a babbling creek and had an awesome wrap-around porch with a grill and hot tub, plus a fully stocked kitchen, huge dining and living room area and a loft space with a King-size bed and two smaller beds, plus plenty of room for Lotte’s Pack and Play. It was perfect for our two-night stay, even if we did arrive a bit later than we expected to on Sunday night because things got confusing with closed roads due to a fire :/ Still, we arrived! And it was awesome! And we had a full day in Yosemite on Monday to explore, which included taking in the scene at Tunnel View, catching the Yosemite Valley Floor Tour (which takes place on a tractor!), seeing the Bridalveil Falls, having a picnic and checking out the Yosemite Falls, as well. Unfortunately two things we wanted to see — Glacier Point Road and Mariposa Grove with sequoias and Redwoods — were closed because of the ongoing fire.

Guess that just means we’ll have to come back 😉

The views:

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^^ Our cute little Birdhouse, tucked away and secluded in the Yosemite woods.

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^^ Our little fam at Bridalveil Fall. I was nervous about the trail leading up to the falls because it was marked as steep and dangerous, but really it was so short, it was no bother at all.

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^^ Ridin’ along on our tractor tour strapped to dad in an Ergo — that’s the way to go! Lotte was pretty good on the tour, which lasted two hours. She fussed a bit but I think she really enjoyed the motion of the tractor and being outside, and she eventually fell asleep in the Ergo, which was awesome. It also helped that our tour guide was seriously amazing. You could really tell that she loves her job — she even sang to us at one point — and she made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.
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^^ Checking out the scenery at Tunnel View. You can see the whole valley from here, and it’s so spectacular.

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^^ The only family shot at Tunnel View that we were able to get 😉

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^^ Ergo napping baby!

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^^ It lightly drizzled on-and-off during our picnic (that’s Yosemite Falls in the background), but that turned out to be great, because no one else was around!

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^^ This blurry photo of my babe and my hubs in front of the falls is one of my faves 😉 We didn’t do the actual Yosemite Falls hike, but you can take a short path up to the base, which was really beautiful.

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^^ Oh hi there, tiny humans of mine!

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Tuesday we had to head back to San Francisco to catch our flight home, but we took some time in the morning to head back to some of our favorite sites and snap some photos before leaving. Yosemite was so wonderful and majestic, and I’m so glad we got to take Lotte there. Even at her young age, you can still tell she’s noticing everything, and her favorite thing in the world to do right now is point and babble. She did that a lot along our California journey, and it felt great to be able to tell her exactly what she was looking at … just beautiful ole’ America, which is here for her to enjoy.

Bis bald, friends!

Amongst the Towering Sequoia Trees

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Happy Friday, friends! So last Saturday we hopped in the car to drive from San Francisco to a place I’ve been dreaming about for a while now — Sequoia National Park. Why exactly have I been dreaming about sequoias since I was a young girl, you might ask? Funnily enough, sequoia was actually one of the first words I ever learned to spell in my elementary school in Albany (I also took French there … super fancy, fancy), and I’ll always remember that because it was so hard to spell. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to go and visit.

Funny the things we remember from when we’re little, isn’t it?

Anyway, we hopped in the Jag around 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and drove about 4.5 hours to Sequoia, all with our little muffin in the back seat. We stayed at the Wuksachi Lodge, which was nice since it was right there inside the park. (This was much preferred to our lodging in Yellowstone which, although nice, was about an hours drive to and from the park each day. Definitely not recommended.) We originally thought we had a kitchen in our room and we had bought food to cook for the rest of the trip, but we didn’t, so we ate at the hotel restaurant. It turned out to be really nice, though, because the restaurant was in a separate lodge, which allowed us to explore a bit, and it was surrounded by windows which were surrounded by … you guessed it … trees!

So the sequoias are … absolutely everything I imagined they would be and more. We didn’t even have one full day to spend in the park, but we made darn sure to check out all the main attractions: The General Sherman Tree (the largest tree in the world by mass), The Congress Trail, the Moro Rock Trail (well I didn’t do this — too steep for my preggers self — but Chris did, and the views were spectacular), Crescent Meadow, and so much more. Chris even went for a run in the morning and came across a bear (he was trying to), so that made his trip!

Really, though, just to be there, walking among those beautiful, tall trees, that was all I needed to feel more relaxed than I’ve felt in … ummm… years?! It’s an amazing experience that I think everyone should make a priority at some point.

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^^ Here we are, just the 3.5 of us, in front of a big ole’, ginorous tree 😉

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^^ The bump was really out and about on this trip! Oh hey there, Baby Connor No. 2!

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^^ That’s General Sherman I’m pointing to in the background there. Perspective is a funny, funny thing …

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And that was Sequoia and King’s Canyon, in a nutshell. It was fast and furious through the park, but I really feel like we got to see a lot of it, and what we did see was glorious. Love you, sequoia trees. Thanks for being so amazing.

On Monday I’ll bring you the final leg of our trip — Yosemite National Park. Until then, bis bald, friends, and have a great weekend!

Final Summer Weekends in the Mountains

IMG_5804Hi friends,

I know, I know – there are still weeks left in summer, but to me, everything is already changing. The kids are back in school here. It’s chilly in the mornings. There’s lots of talk of snowboarding and skiing. I don’t know – it’s been a good summer, but I’m actually ready for the fall.

Late summer/early fall is one of my favorite times to visit the mountains, and we spent a lovely couple of days this past weekend in Beaver Creek and Frisco. We got a great deal to stay at the amazing Beaver Creek Lodge on Travelzoo, so we packed up the car and headed out. Even though we didn’t arrive until around 11 on Saturday, we packed it in. We checked out and had lunch (and gelato, of course) in the village, took a hike, Lotte & Chris swam in the pool (which they had all to themselves and Lotte was obsessed with!) and we went out to dinner. It was a really great day.

On Sunday we stopped at the Frisco Marina Park on our way home, took a little walk and grabbed lunch in town at Butterhorn Bakery & Cafe. All-in-all it was a great way to spend a weekend. Hope you guys had a good one, too, and are gearing up for some fun Labor Day plans! We’ll be getting ready for our trip to California next week (San Francisco, Sequoia and Yosemite! We’re so excited!), so it’ll be all packing and cleaning for us here. (Although we may try to at least take in the local parade.)

Have a great week, friends!

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^^ My sister got Lotte this onesie before she was even born, and it’s by far the outfit she’s worn the most in her life!

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^^ The ice skating rink behind this statue was closed during the day, but they actually opened it up at night when we came back for dinner. If I weren’t almost six month preggers I would have been all over that!

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^^ Gelato — yum! We had sandwiches and dessert at Rimini Chocolate and Gelato in the town square, which were all delicious, if not very overpriced!

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^^ While I’m sure Chris would have enjoyed a hike with more oomph, the 5 Senses Trail was just perfect for me in my current state 😉 It was also really cute for kids, with signs along the way about our five senses and how they relate to the wilderness.

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^^ Always trying to get a good family shot with the self timer …

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^^ And always failing!

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^^ It’s mountain bike season, can you tell?!

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^^ There were at least two weddings going on this weekend that we saw. Can you imagine a prettier backdrop?

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^^ My little fam ❤

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^^ The pool!!!!! This was actually Lotte’s first pool experience, and since she loves, loves, loves bath time, we assumed she’d love the pool, too. We. Were. Right! She was obsessed! She kept kicking her legs and moving all around – it was the cutest thing. Swim lessons, here we come!

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^^ All gussied up for dinner at Dusty Boot. (My shrimp tacos were seriously delicious, and we even ordered Lotte her own little salmon from the kids’ menu. Sigh. She’s getting so big.)

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^^ Frisco Marina Park!

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^^ And finishing up our trip with lunch (breakfast, actually) at Butterhorn Bakery & Cafe in the cute little town.

We sure do love you, mountains. Luckily my friend Lisa is coming to visit the first week in October and we’ve booked a quick night away in Vail, just the two of us, so I’ll back!

Bis bald, friends! And happy last week of August!