Oh, Christmas Tree …

img_0036^^ Our first Christmas tree in our new home. 

Well friends, we had to miss a holiday party this past Thursday at the Denver Botanic Gardens (which is currently displaying their awesome holiday lights … at least we’ve heard it’s awesome, we haven’t been yet) because Lotte was pretty stuffed up and sick after we got home from our Thanksgiving travels.

The things you do when you’re parents😉

Anyway, she was somewhat better on Saturday, and the weather was gorgeous (although as you’ll see from these photos, we still dressed our child like it was a snowstorm outside. Oops.), so we hopped in the car and headed off to the Christmas tree lot to find ourselves our first ever Christmas tree for our new home — and Lotte’s first Christmas tree ever.

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^^ Still a bit grumpy and snotty, as you can see:/

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Our home is definitely starting to feel festive for the holidays, friends. How early do you all get your holiday decorations up? It seems like everyone in our neighborhood had their trees up and the front of their houses decorated when we came home from Thanksgiving. I mean, I probably wouldn’t have minded doing that either, had we been home, but still, for some reason I was surprised.

Now I just have to wait for allllllll the decorations to come in that I ordered this past weekend, then we’ll be done. Man, I love the holidays.

Bis bald, friends!

 

Thanksgiving 2016 – Part II

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^^ These little cuties all together … it’s almost too much to handle.

Last Friday after Thanksgiving we packed up the car and headed to Pennsylvania to spend the weekend with my dad and stepmom, sisters, brothers-in-law and nephews. We had another Thanksgiving and my parents threw a little party for family to meet Lotte, so it was hectic, but a whole lot of fun.

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^^ Starting second Thanksgiving morning with donuts and coffee is pretty amazing in my books.

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^^ These two had a bit of a love affair going on, and it made my heart so, so happy!

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^^ Watching football with Papa. Hey it was a holiday, why not😉

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^^ This cute little family …

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^^ Both Jude and Lotte’s faces crack me up in this picture!

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^^ Party food!

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^^ Back at my mom and stepdad’s on Sunday night we had a couple people over to meet Lotte, as well. One of my best friends from junior high just had her first baby, too — baby Miles — so Lotte got to meet him. That’s auntie Moe in the middle. I’ve known these ladies for oh-so-many years, and I’m just really grateful for their friendship.

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^^ Miles is only about 2-months-old, so I love that Lotte is his older, wiser friend😉

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^^ This picture cracks me up! Look at my little Lotte makin’ moves on Miles!

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^^ Fell asleep in Aunt Stephie’s arms on Sunday night. She was totally exhausted after all her meet and greets, but it was just about the best time ever.

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^^ Grandpa Robert sure knows how to multi-task😉

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^^ And suddenly, before we knew it, we were back at Newark for our flight home. Amazing how fast time flies when you’re having fun.

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^^ This little angel mostly slept and ate on the way back home, which was so nice!

And that was it — our incredibly hectic, fun and full-of-love Thanksgiving break. I hope you guys had just as much fun.

Now … on to December!

Bis bald, friends!

Thanksgiving 2016 — Part 1

02_roseandgirls^^ The meeting between Lotte and my grandmother was one of the biggest highlights of this trip. I’ll never, ever forget it.

Well friends, last Thursday was Thanksgiving. And while I can hardly believe it’s over, and that we’re on to December and Christmas now, I can say without a doubt that we had a really good one. As our first Thanksgiving without my mom, I’ll admit I was a little worried about how it might go. But having a baby and being constantly on the move kept me from dwelling too much on the sad part of the holiday and helped me to focus on how much I do have in my life, and how much Lotte is so loved by all these friends and family of ours.

The day before Thanksgiving we stopped by the assisted living place where my Grandmother lives to surprise her with a visit. It was my sister’s idea to do that, and I’m so, so glad she thought of it.

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^^ Did I tell you about this child and her side eye?! I have tons of nice photos from my Grams and my daughter’s first meeting, but this one just makes me laugh every single time I look at it. Both of these ladies are too, too much.

03_roseandgirls04_funnyrose^^ Chris just kept taking shots while we were moving around the room, and this totally candid and ridiculous one has got to be one of my favorites, too.

We stayed at my sister and brother-in-law’s new house the night before Thanksgiving, which is only about 15 minutes from my aunt and uncle’s, where we would be spending the holiday. It was nice to have a little down time in the morning and to not have to rush too much to drive somewhere far away.

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^^ #parenting😉

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^^ Aunt Stephie and Lotte, in the outfit (shoes included) that Aunt Stephie bought for her for the holiday. Too. Stinkin’. Cute. Too bad a poop explosion caused her to only wear it for about two hours on the actual day. Oh well – at least we got a couple photos!

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^^ Meeting the extended fam.

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^^ My Grams and her two great-granddaughters – priceless.

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^^ The meltdown post diaper blowout and pre-outfit change.

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^^ You know a holiday was great when it ends like this😉

It was really so great spending time with our family for Thanksgiving, and the following day we loaded up the car and headed to Pennsylvania to do it all over again with my Dad’s gang. Can’t complain about two Thanksgivings, that’s for sure!

I’ll be back tomorrow with photos from our final couple days back east. Until then – bis bald!

Welcome to the Winter of 2016

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Well friends – winter has arrived in Colorado. And this winter is special, since it’s Lotte’s first one. Of course at the first sign of flakes yesterday I grabbed my camera and my child, shoved her in a snowsuit that is still way too big for her, and rushed outside to snap some shots.

This holiday season will be filled with mixed feelings for me – my first baby’s first Thanksgiving and Christmas … my first Thanksgiving and Christmas without my mom. How do you even deal with those conflicting things?

For now, I’ll deal by spending as much time in the winter wonderland with Lotte as I can. Next week we’re off to New York (baby’s first flight!) to spend Thanksgiving with the family, and then only a couple weeks after that Chris’s parents and sisters, as well as my sister, brother-in-law and stepdad, will be heading out way to spend Christmas with us. I’m looking forward to hosting our first holidays in our brand new house.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

1lottefirstsnow^^ Snowflakes in front of my face … love it!

2lottefirstsnow^^ Oh you know, just sittin’ on a bench in the snow. No big deal😉

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8lottefirstsnow^^ I’m sorry Chris didn’t make it home from work before it got dark (at like 4:30 p.m., mind you!), because we couldn’t take pictures with him in them. Something tells me we’ll have plenty more opportunity, though!

Scenic Sunday Drives in Golden

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Happy Monday, friends!

Upfront I want to say that this is not an advertisement for Subaru, although we did pick up our new Forester on Friday and take it for a drive around Golden on Sunday, and it was just a little bit of fabulousness!

We decided to take the wheels for an introductory spin up the Lariat Loop National Scenic Byway and stop by Buffalo Bill’s Grave. We also hit up Golden City Brewery on the way back home. (I’ve blogged about these places, as well as a few other Golden hot spots, here, if you’re interested.) If you’re ever in the Denver/Golden area, I would highly recommend checking out these spots, even if only for the amazing views you’ll get …

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fullsizerender-100^^ I let the hubs do the heavy stroller lifting these days😉

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fullsizerender8^^ That’s Denver there in the distance … oh hey, Denvy!

fullsizerender9^^ A pixelated up-close view!

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Is it just me, or does having a great Sunday make heading back to work on Monday just a little bit easier?

I hope you guys had a great weekend, too!

Bis bald!

Another Birthday Celebration in the Books, This Time in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

thumb__dsc5111_1024^^ Have you ever seen a happier dog? Can you blame him — look at that view!

Well my friends, we made it back from our first road trip with the Little, and we’re all in tact and, what’s more, we all had an amazing time. Chris’s birthday was this past Saturday, so we decided to check out a new place — Steamboat Springs. At only a little over three hours away, it was the perfect place to get our feet wet when it comes to traveling with a baby, and Lotte obliged us by being pretty much amazing the entire time.

What can I say — she has travel in her blood😉

For starters, we stayed at Nordic Lodge which, while totally bare essentials when it comes to amenities, was the perfect location, especially when you have a baby who needs feeding  and/or a good nap every couple hours and you prefer to do that at a home base. They had a Pack ‘n Play that we were able to use for our trip, which meant we could skip taking up room in the car with ours, and they were willing to upgrade us for free to a larger room to accommodate the Pack ‘n Play, although we opted to pay an extra $50 for the weekend and actually upgrade to a suite with a separate bedroom, that way Lotte could nap in peace and we didn’t have to tiptoe around her and whisper the whole time.

I gotta say — for newbies, I think we did well!

Here’s what we three got up to …

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^^ You know my child would have a onesie specifically dedicated to traveling, although I can’t take credit for buying this — it was all my sister!

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^^ Our first night in town we walked to Mahogany Ridge Brewery for dinner which, while a brewery, was in my opinion probably a little bit fancier than you should bring a baby (and a huge stroller!) to. So we really have to give props to Lotte for sleeping through our entire meal! Great job, kid! That certainly made us feel more comfortable taking you out for more restaurant visits throughout the weekend.

03fullsizerender^^ Chris’s traditional birthday steak dinner … just one night early😉

04fullsizerender_1^^ What you see here are parents who are ecstatic that their child slept through their meal!

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^^ The cute little town, all lit up at night.

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^^ Saturday started out with this adorable face … and some birthday present opening😉

02_dsc5002^^ After presents we made our way to Fish Creek Falls, a pretty little hike that was short enough to do with our 3-month-old strapped to Chris’s chest and long enough to make us feel like we actually did something — plus it was so pretty! (Bring $5 for parking! I had read that this place gets really packed, but during the off-peak season at like 7:30 in the morning, it was pretty much us alone on the trails — we only ran into two other (very small) groups of people the whole time.)

03thumb__dsc5066_102404thumb__dsc5060_102405thumb__dsc5033_1024^^ The falls!

06thumb__dsc5064_102407thumb__dsc5082_1024^^ The rising sun was not my photography friend on this hike, but the falls are there, if you look hard enough!

08fullsizerender_7^^ Again, slept like a champ throughout the whole thing! We made sure to rug her up so she was nice and warm, all cozy-like against dad’s chest for the hike.

09fullsizerender_10^^ After the hike we had a seriously delicious breakfast at Creekside Cafe & Grill, which just happens to literally be almost in the parking lot of the hotel where we stayed. Score! The back porch was closed for the season, but it was such a glorious day we could easily have eaten outside and been happy. Oh well — next time! 

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11fullsizerender_12^^ Bloody Mary’s all around!

12fullsizerender_13^^ Under the table and dreaming😉

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15fullsizerender_16^^ See? How cute is this back patio?!

16fullsizerender_8^^ After breakfast we went for a little walk in town to do some shopping and check out the fall colors. Although some things were unfortunately closed for the season (like back patios, for example, and the gondola), I would highly recommend traveling during this time. It was really quiet, which was nice, and the views were spectacular.

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^^ If you’re looking for a quintessential Western shop with cowboy boots, hats and the like, check out F.M. Light & Sons. It’s sort of an institution in town.

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21fullsizerender_20^^ Cowboy boots for days!

22fullsizerender_21^^ They had ’em for kids, too!

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24fullsizerender_23^^ See what I mean about the fall colors? Glorious!

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28fullsizerender_27^^ Elevated Oil is a fun place to check out if you’re an olive oil connoisseur. You can even taste test the oils, which I thought would be totally gross but actually turned out to be delicious! 

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30fullsizerender_29^^ After shopping we hopped in the car for a (super) short ride to Storm Peak brewery, which was a really fun little brewery with tons of delicious beers on tap. Plus the weather was so nice they opened the garage doors, making it even more fun to hang.

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32fullsizerender_31^^ Again, ecstatic parents that their child is cooperating …

33fullsizerender_32^^ Lotte did wake up from a short nap here, which allowed us to take some silly pictures. Always a plus in my book.

34img_7208^^ Silly pic No. 1 …

35fullsizerender_34^^ And 2 …

36img_7202^^ And 3 …

37img_7207^^ And 4 … and trust me, there were many more, but I’ll spare you. You get the picture.

38img_7116^^ We tried to hang at Butcherknife Brewing after Storm Peak, but Lotte had had enough, which was fair enough — you did well little one! So we headed back to the hotel so she could nap properly, and Chris and I ordered take-out from Rex’s American Grill & Bar. In all honesty, we only ordered from this place because I thought it delivered (it does not, I had to go pick our food up), but it turned out to be delicious, so it was a win!

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02img_7254^^ On Sunday morning we had to get rugged up again (which someone was not happy about at first), because we took a walk down by the Yampa River.

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07thumb__dsc5106_1024^^ On the way back to the lodge to grab the car we stopped in Off the Beaten Path, an amazing local bookstore that I highly recommend, if you’re into that kind of thing😉

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09thumb__dsc5120_1024^^ We definitely wanted to check out the area near the mountain while we were there as well. It’s really cute with lots of little shops and restaurants, and while you can tell it would probably be crazy packed in winter, again, at this perfect time of year, it was pretty empty, which is always amazing for a ski town.

10thumb__dsc5109_1024^^ Improvising when no ramp is available.

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14thumb__dsc5128_1024^^ We grabbed lunch at Slopeside Grill before heading out and ate on their deck. Chris was a bit upset they didn’t have more local beers on tap, but their veggie burger was pretty awesome (although Mahogany’s was better, if you’re keeping score) and the views were unparalleled. 

15img_7264^^ Multitasking at its best.

16img_7267^^ Views on the drive home.

And that was it, my friends — our first road trip with Lotte is officially in the books, and it was a great one. Her next big trip will be in November when we head back east for Thanksgiving, and that one involves a plane. Yikes. Wish us luck!

Bis bald, friends!

Finding Our Inner Child at the Carousel of Happiness in Nederland

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This past Monday we packed up our Matrix and drove about 45 minutes to Nederland, Colorado, to ride the Carousel of Happiness.

What’s so special about a carousel, and why would anyone drive 45 minutes to ride one? (Besides the fact that we are so obviously insane?) This carousel happens to be extra special, as it’s made up of 61 hand-carved animals (including 36 animals to ride and 25 smaller ones to keep those company, all of which were hand-carved by the same person!), which turns to the music of a 1913 Wurlitzer band organ.

The ride seriously does transport you to another time and place. You can read more about its origination, and what makes it so special, here. I have to say, for Lotte’s first-ever carousel ride, this wasn’t a bad one to visit.

_dsc4853_dsc4856_dsc4860_dsc4867_dsc4876^^ Look at these awesomely accommodating grandparents! Honestly, though, they loved the ride, so that was a good thing!

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^^ I love this photo — look at that little face, just taking in the world around her …

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^^ You can go upstairs from the gift shop and check out the carousel from the top, which I highly recommend doing. There are actually some cute little animals hidden on top of the carousel, as well.

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^^ This little kid’s face says it all, does it not?!

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^^ Mr. Fox keeps watch on the carousel animals from above.

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After our ride (which costs $1, by the way!), we wandered across the street to grab some coffee. We would have stayed and explored the cute town a bit longer, but a fire had started in the campgrounds near the town and we were worried the road home might get blocked off. Something tells me we’ll be back, though.

fullsizerender-90fullsizerender-91fullsizerender-92fullsizerender-93img_5804^^ Tuckered our from her full day of carousel fun!

Bis bald, friends!

Making Memories at Rock Creek Farm

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Fall has always been my favorite season, and now that I have a little one to share it with, it’s even more fun to really take advantage of everything the insanely wonderful weather has to offer. Along with long walks and fall decorations, one other thing I couldn’t wait to do with Lotte was to go pumpkin picking. So, at the ripe ole’ age of 10 weeks, we took Lotte on her first pumpkin picking (and corn maze wandering!) adventure at Rock Creek Farm outside of Boulder.

The experience did not disappoint, although I highly doubt Lotte will actually remember it😉 Still, I do believe a tradition has been formed …

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chris_jump^^ Going anywhere with a child these days requires lots and lots of mechanisms to keep said child happy, like jumping up and down in a pumpkin field. (P.S. Note the face … still not happy!)

4_family_selfie^^ Our family selfie game could use some work …

5_familyselfie2^^ Hmmm … better?? Lotte seems to think not.

6-fieldfamily^^ Much better when someone else takes the photo — thanks MIL!

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cornmaze^^ While the rest of the group may have been happy to take on one of the longer corn maze options, I, however, refused to. So it was the short loop for us, friends, and that was just fine by me!

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^^ The kids’ play section sure seems like something Lotte will love in the future!

And that, my friends, was about the sum of our first pumpkin picking trip with our daughter. Rock Creek Farm was amazing, but I’m pretty happy we went on a Friday, because one of the workers we spoke to said they get thousands of people on the weekends. Just something to keep in mind if you’re planning a visit of your own.

Bis bald, friends!

A Date Night in Olde Town Arvada

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While my in-laws were in town Chris and I had a chance to have a date night out in Olde Town Arvada, which I’ve been meaning to get to since we moved here in May.

We’ve been busy, to say the least.

Anyway, I did a little research and found Arvada Tavern, which, according to TripAdvisor, is the second best place in Arvada to eat. After checking it out for ourselves I have to say I was really impressed. The cocktails were spectacular — especially the seasonal pumpkin flavored one I tried — and the food was even better. Check it out when you’re in town.

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And of course after dinner we had to stop off at Scrumptious for some ice cream dessert. The best part about date night these days, though, is coming home to this …

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^^ I mean …

We actually got to do quite a bit while the in-laws were here. Lotte went to Boulder again, we got to visit a pumpkin patch and we even took the little one on her first carousel ride. I’ll have more on all that later, for now — bis bald, friends!

Our First Fourth of July in Arvada

MountainGoat^^^Mr. Mountain Goat says ‘Hi!’

Happy July, friends. I can’t believe that July is here, and even more so I can’t believe that with July comes the fact that my baby is due next month. I can barely even say that without getting my heart racing.

But for now, friends, Baby is safe and sound still where she still belongs, and we had a visitor over the Fourth of July weekend in the form of my stepdad, who tacked on a couple extra days out to Colorado to a business trip in Arizona. We did a lot while he was here — to include a pretty rockin’ backyard revival, which was totally unexpected but awesome — so it was nice having him visit for a couple of days.

One place I knew I had to take him was the Eagle Sanctuary at Standley Lake, because in college my stepdad actually used to raise baby Bald Eagles, so obviously I knew this was something he would enjoy.

And, luckily, he did😉

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^^^How completely adorable are these tipis which, by the way, you can rent to camp out in!?

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^^^ It seriously took my stepdad maybe about 7 minutes to spot an eagle. Then another. Then another. Of the four Bald Eagles that live at Standley Lake, we saw three … not too shabby!
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^^^ The cattle dog coming down the pathway should have tipped us off to what was ahead, but we were still caught off guard by this heap of goats in the field by the lake. So fun to listen to them chat to each other😉

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^^^ These geese, however … not so much fun! We tried sitting at this picnic bench by the water for a hot second after eagle spotting, but clearly the geese had other ideas. If we didn’t have any food for them, they made it pretty clear that we weren’t welcome!

9_BaldEagle^^^ I love that we also found where you can rent kayaks, paddle boards and the like at the lake … that seems like it would be so much fun!

On Friday night we ventured out into Denver to eat dinner at the Buckhorn Exchange, Denver’s oldest restaurant. While I’m not a meat-eater, I can still appreciate a fun steakhouse when I see one and this, my friends, was about as fun as it gets.

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^^^ Cheers’ing with my iced tea … always a good time!
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^^^ Not my meal, obviously (although the salmon I had seriously melted in your mouth, it was that delicious), but the boys really seemed to enjoy their meat which, I guess, is the most important thing at a steakhouse, right?!
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^^^ Grainy photo, but they had a live singer upstairs who was just about the cutest old man you ever could see.
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^^^ Again, not the best photo, but how funny is this sign outside the restaurant?

The boys left bright and early Saturday morning to check out Mount Evans, the highest paved road in North America at over 14,000 feet. When we went to the mountains a couple weeks back I found the altitude really affected me during pregnancy, so I decided to beg off on this adventure, but after seeing the photos, I definitely plan on making it out myself at some point.

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Despite all the hubbub, we did also manage to have Robert help us out with our backyard …

1_MannieFlowers^^^ All of these flowers are now officially in our garden!

… and we took a couple pretty nice walks around the lake, to include a sunset one the night before Robert left

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Robert will be back in August with some other family to meet our little baby girl, but until then, it was great having you, my dear!

Bis bald, my friends – I hope you all had lovely and safe July 4th weekends, as well!

A Final Weekend in June

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Hi friends,

Long time no write:/ Sorry about that. To be honest, 2016 has been a bit challenging so far, to say the least. Despite some of the biggest “ups” of my life [preparing for our first baby, for example], there have also been some of the lowest of the lows, like losing my mom. I haven’t felt much like writing here over the past three months, really, since that happened, but I’m trying to come out of my funk a bit, and this blog has always meant so much so me, so I figured I’d give writing here a shot and see how it goes … at least for now.

In other big news, Chris and I moved out of our downtown Denver apartment and into our first home in Arvada near Standley Lake, which is about 15-20 minutes from downtown Denver. So far, we’re really liking it out here in the ‘burbs, which is something that has come as quite a surprise to both of us [and our friends and family, too!]. Having the lake so close by certainly helps — Chris runs there multiple nights a week and it’s about all I can manage to drag my pregnant self on about a 10-20 minute walk most days, but whenever I do get out there, it’s simply gorgeous.

Like Saturday morning. We grabbed some coffees [decaf for me, of course ;)] and walked the five minutes to the lake entrance, then walked about 1.5 miles around the lake and back. It was the perfect length for me, and I really needed the change of scenery …

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^^ This photo is blurry because I zoomed in, but just look at those Flatirons! Gorgeous.

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We’ve definitely lived in some cities with some pretty spectacular views before, but I have to say, it doesn’t matter how many times we walk around this lake … it always stuns me with its beauty.

For Christmas my sister got me a membership to the Denver Botanic Gardens, and on Saturday we were finally able to get out there for a visit, which was really quite lovely.

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GardenGoddess04BotanicGardens05BotanicGardens06BotanicGardens^^ Just the three of us, out for a day at the gardens😉

On Sunday I met up with my cousin at Sassafras back in Denver for brunch, where I had the most delicious beignets and shrimp & grits that I’ve had since New Orleans!

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So friends, those outings — coupled with lots of outdoor porch time — made for a pretty nice weekend. I hope yours was as lovely … or that you’re at least finding some way to stay cool in the heat! My stepdad will be here for a visit starting Wednesday, so we’re really looking forward to that.

Until next time, friends … bis bald😉

My Birthday Weekend Getaway in Crested Butte

01 Road Trip^^ Country road views on the way from Denver to Crested Butte

This past weekend just happened to be my birthday [;)], and my husband decided to whisk me away for a couple days to the adorable little mountain town of Crested Butte, which is about 4.5 hours away if you don’t get lost (aka we did on the way there, no biggie!). We stayed at the Elevation Hotel & Spa, which is the perfect spot for either snowboarding (because it’s super close to the gondola) or snowboard watching (because it’s right at the bottom of the hill everyone comes down). It was also the closing weekend of the mountain, which meant lots of costumed skiers and snowboarders, as well as some shenanigans that were fun to watch and not have to worry about even pretending to take part in (thanks pregnant belly!).

Chris also treated me to my first ever pre-natal massage while we were away (thanks hubby!), which was truly a little bit of bliss.

Ah, Crested Butte .. thanks for a relaxing getaway. Now it’s back to the real world …

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^^^ We stopped for lunch in the cute little town of Salida on the way to Crested Butte. The Fritz had all kinds of tasty treats on their menu (and Shirley Temples were even listed on the menu!), plus they’re right across the street from the river, so it’s the perfect spot to stop for a while. 

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^^^ Crested Butte views

08 Crested Butte09 Crested Butte10 Dogwood
^^^ We stopped by The Dogwood before dinner at Marchitelli’s Gourmet Noodle our first night. The Dogwood is a craft cocktail bar, which is fun even when you aren’t drinking, because you can really push the bartenders out of their comfort zone by asking them to create a special non-alcoholic concoction for you, such as … 

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^^^ This fizzy blueberry cream deliciousness that our awesome bartender made for me. I couldn’t finish it all, but it was sure fun trying …

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^^^ Chris’  spicy jalapeno drink. Not my ideal, but he seemed to like it.

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^^^ Just to prove that I was there too, since most of my photos end up being of Chris since I’m behind the camera😉

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^^^ Early morning mountain views on our way to grab coffee and bagels from Camp 4 Coffee.

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^^^ We squatted here for a while in the morning to drink our coffee, eat our bagels and take in the scenery. I like snowboarding and all, but this is seriously my favorite part of visiting the mountains. People watching!

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^^^ After my pre-natal massage, we headed up to the rooftop restaurant next to our hotel to watch the skiers and snowboarders come down the hill in their crazy outfits. And we did see some crazy outfits — in fact, can you spot the hot dog in this picture😉

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^^^ Our little family of (almost!) three (can you believe that belly?!)

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Bye bye, Crested Butte! I have a feeling we’ll be seeing you again…

Hello From the Other Side …

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Hey there friends! Remember me? Your friendly Weary Wanderer? If not, I don’t blame you, since it has been a while since I’ve posted. I’m sorry for that. I’ve been taking some time to reenvision what I see happening for this blog in the future (more on that later), to work on some other professional goals (I finally attended this amazing children’s book writing conference in NYC the other weekend — I cannot say enough how much I loved it and how I want to go to every single conference they offer!), and perhaps the most important reason I’ve been busy is because — drum roll, please — Chris and I are expecting our first little baby!! Hence the above photo, which my husband so lovingly took after schlepping into the backcountry mountains at both Keystone and Breckenridge to find the perfect spot for the photo opp — good job, love😉

Anyway, besides all of the above, we have an amazing trip coming up to Japan, where Chris will be completing his sixth and final World Marathon series race in Tokyo THIS SUNDAY! We leave tomorrow, and I could not be more excited! (Except, you know, for the 17 or so hour long flight to get there:/ Normally I wouldn’t mind as much, but as a preggers, well this could be interesting. Stay tuned for a post on the things I (hopefully!) did to make it go smoothly.)

We’ll be back the second week in March, and I’ll be here to blog about everything we saw, but in the meantime, here’s a bit from this year, which has been both amazingly relaxing and crazy busy, all at the same time.

IMG_0253^^ Homemade cinnamon buns from my stepmom. Best. Gift. Ever! (And yes, they were every bit as delicious as they look … )

IMG_0327^^ So exciting getting this in the mail!

IMG_0358^^ Chris and I found out a few weeks ago the gender of our baby. We took the paper with the gender on it to our local bakery and had these cupcakes made up with pink or blue frosting inside to let us know. It was just the two of us, but it was really fun to find out this way, and I’m so glad we did. [I’ll keep it a secret on here for now … some things are more fun when you wait for them ;)]

FullSizeRender (1)^^ The most delicious (and addicting!) ginger cookies from Trader Joe’s, sent as part of a ‘first trimester in pregnancy’ package from a best friend and her (three-times-a-momma!) sister.

FullSizeRender^^ I mean … could these fortune cookies be more accurate?!

FullSizeRender (2)^^ A snowy day in downtown Denver.

IMG_0416^^ Chris and I planned to fly into Newark on our last trip back to New York because it was easier for my stepdad to pick us up there. Unfortunately that meant we had to have a layover at the Cincinnati airport, and when we landed we were given the unfortunate news that all flights into New York had been canceled because of weather. So that meant we spent the night at a hotel near the airport, which at first we were super bummed about, until my stepdad pointed out that the Cincinnati airport is actually in Kentucky, not Ohio (go figure!), and neither one of us had ever been to Kentucky before, so hello that totally counted and we can add it to our list of states visited! Of course we were so exhausted from the day (and our flight out to New York was at 6 a.m. the following morning), so we ended up doing nothing but relaxing, watching television and ordering in (which was delicious, by the way, see above). Still, we were in Kentucky for a night and a meal, so that counts!

IMG_0417^^ Not exactly the best picture, but flying into New York will always send my heart a flutter😉

IMG_0429^^ Celebrating my grandmother and her twin sister on their 94th birthday. Could there be anything cuter than these two?!

IMG_0433^^ Still in love, after 94 years together. That’s some soul mate action, for ya.

FullSizeRender (3)^^ Although I spent the majority of my time in New York with family upstate, I did get to meet a friend in the city for a couple days (we stayed at The Paul Hotel, which offered these incredible views and was close to the Empire State Building, as well, which was a lot of fun for us as former-NYC-residents-turned-tourists). It was so much fun to eat good food, roam around the city (although it was frigid that weekend!) and to just catch up in person. Sometimes I forget how much I miss my friends until I actually get to see them.

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IMG_0457^^ Catching up with another preggers friend of mine was definitely a highlight, but it got even better when she had her baby on the Friday before I spent all weekend long at the writing conference, which meant I actually got to meet little baby Fiona, which was beyond amazing!
IMG_0463^^ Lisa likes to jazz up photos we take when we’re together, and I like to look at ’em😉

IMG_0461^^ Ahhhhh, registering for baby shower stuff. Can we all admit that this is fun for about an hour or two, and then by hour three and four all you want to do is sit down and eat cake?

IMG_0526^^ Chris was only with me on this trip for the first weekend (for my grandmother and her twin’s birthday party), and not for my jaunt out into the city and for the writer’s conference, so when he picked me up at the airport when I flew back, he was waiting with these amazing flowers. What a hubby, am I right?!

And now we’re on to Japan, friends! We’re spending about six days in Tokyo and then four days in Kyoto, which I’m beyond excited for. Can’t wait to be back here with an update, and, oh, by the way, it’ll be March when I do! Crazy. How fast is this year going?!

Bis bald, friends!

A Holiday Getaway In the Mountains

IMG_0109^^ A blurry view of the snowy trees whizzing by on our way up to the mountains on Christmas Eve.

Hi friends,
As I mentioned yesterday, Chris and I headed up into the mountains for the holiday where we stayed at The Pines Condominiums in Keystone. The condo was splendid, with a fireplace, gorgeous mountain views from every window and a full kitchen with everything we needed to make a delicious Christmas dinner. I thought I’d share some pictures from our stay here.

_DSC2710^^Our dining room looking into what we came to affectionately refer to as our “Christmas nook”.

_DSC2711^^The kitchen

_DSC2716^^ Our Christmas nook, pre decorations.

_DSC2720^^ Chris spent most of his time stoking the lovely wood fire.

_DSC2725^^ Our Christmas nook, all decorated and lovely.

IMG_0132^^ Christmas Eve dinner was at the Black Bear Grill.

IMG_0139^^ Christmas eve entertainment was a roaring fire and some Christmas classics.

_DSC2731^^ Christmas morning Christmas nook views.

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_DSC2741^^ I thought this photo was artsy, with the Christmas lights in the foreground, but Chris just said it was confusing.

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And that was our lovely, snow-filled Christmas holiday, friends! I hope you all had a relaxing, fun time filled with friends, family and lots of delicious foods … now on to New Years!

A Final Two Days in New Orleans

_DSC2583^^ We sure do love a good bike tour😉

Sunday in New Orleans was a great day, because we actually hopped on a bike tour with Buzz Nola that took us into some really gorgeous parts of the city that we hadn’t seen yet. We stopped at P.J’s for coffee first (because we saw locals drinking this, so we figured, why not?!), and then met up with our tour, which covered:

  • The French Quarter: Where we learned about the city’s founding in 1718, the architecture, Jackson Square and the history of the French Market.
  • Esplanade Ave.: A historic oak-lined boulevard where the Creole elite live.
  • Faubourg Treme: A centuries old neighborhood, home to artists, musicians and history makers.
  • Louis Armstrong Park & Congo Square: The heart of New Orleans’ jazz tradition (and where the jazz festival was being held that we stopped by the day before).
  • Lafayette Cemetery No. 1: One of the many above ground cemeteries in New Orleans, where we learned about the tradition of interment and New Orleans’ funeral traditions.
  • The Lower Garden District: Where the original city of Lafayette, LA begins. Americans were the first to begin building their homes here when the they weren’t welcome in the areas where the French were already living.
  • The Mansions of the Garden District: Gorgeous homes abound in this area, and many architectural trends influenced the whole neighborhood.

Here’s some of what we saw …

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_DSC2609^^ This is Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, which has a really interesting history that you can read on their site. We came back here later Sunday night to grab some drinks.

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_DSC2634^^ Look at this beautiful mansion in the Garden District part of our tour. We saw Sandra Bullock’s house, the house where Eli and Peyton Manning grew up, John Goodman’s house, and a whole bunch of others.

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_DSC2668^^ Lafayette’s Cemetery. It’s a somber experience to be taking a tour through a cemetery, but just look at these gorgeous structures. It’s really a nice way to be remembered.

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_DSC2695^^ This sign was pretty much across the street from our hotel, and it made me laugh when I first saw it, so I figured I should take a pic😉

IMG_3681^^ Sazeracs at Dominica in the Roosevelt hotel for happy hour before heading out on the town.

IMG_9752^^ Hurricane’s at Lafitte’s on Sunday night before catching an Uber to dinner.

IMG_2801^^ This. A very scary creepy statue of Jesus that projects onto a church in the French Quarter at night. 

IMG_9760^^ Dinner Sunday night was at Baccanal Wine, which is totally off the beaten path, and totally worth it! The first part of the store is a wine and cheese shop, then you can go and sit in the backyard under the twinkle lights, listen to live jazz and order drinks and food from the little window over there to the left. It has a really laid back, low-key, homey type of feel — exactly what we were hoping for on our last night.

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Monday was our last day in New Orleans, and we were lucky that we had most of the day to hang out. We went back to Cafe Du Monde for breakfast, and this time we actually sat in the cafe, which was a lot of fun.

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Then we walked over to Canal St. and caught the Streetcar back to the Garden District, where we would be having lunch at Commander’s Palace.

So remember the other day when I said the Streetcars were cute, except for when you want to ride them? Well the truth is they’re pretty unreliable in terms of timing (ours showed up about 10 minutes late and took about 20 minutes longer than we thought to get us to our destination). If you aren’t strapped for time, though, it’s a pretty fun (and cheap) way to ride around the city at least once.

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IMG_9770^^ Us, totally badass after a delicious lunch at Commander’s Palace. My mushroom risotto was some of the best I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.

And that, my friends, was that! New Orleans in four days in a nutshell! It was fun and funky and splendid and wonderful — and I’d highly recommend it for history buffs, music lovers, those who enjoy fine food and/or drink, and party revelers alike.

Bis bald, friends! I’ll leave you with this – one last video of the amazing orchestra due we fell in love with and who we lucky got to see twice before we left. P.S. I do realize this is the same song as I posted before, just a longer version. I thought we taped them both nights, but unfortunately we didn’t. Oh well — it’s still a damn good show.

Day 2 in New Orleans: Food, Frenchman’s Street & Fun Outdoor Markets

_DSC2484^^ Ahh New Orleans … could you be any prettier?

Saturday was a splendid, exploratory day for us in New Orleans, my friends. We decided to walk the distance to try brunch (which was actually more like lunch, by the time we got there) at Elizabeth’s, followed by a stroll along Crescent Park (the photo above) and a wander through the French Market, where we bought some really amazing art work and I got a new pair of sunglasses and a fun face mask (hey, when in New Orleans, right?!).

On our way back to our hotel, we were trying to find St. Louis Cemetery (which we did, although unfortunately it was closed for the day) and we stumbled across Basin St. Station (definitely worth a look on your way to the cemetery for information on the evolution of transportation in New Orleans) and the New Orleans Jazz and History Festival, which was really fun.

Here’s a visual journey through our day …

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_DSC2472^^ We don’t have a dog, but I need this sign!

_DSC2473^^ Walking through the Marigny section of town to get to brunch.

_DSC2476^^ Beads are everywhere in New Orleans — be sure to  look in the trees, too, that’s a favorite spot for them to hang.

_DSC2481^^ Well deserved Bloody Mary’s after a long walk to Elizabeth’s.

_DSC2482^^ My eggs florentine, which were good, but I definitely had food envy over Chris’s …

_DSC2483^^ Crabby eggs (basically eggs florentine on top of crab cakes) and cheesy grits. Yum!

_DSC2488^^ Walking along the Crescent Park pathway, which gives you some amazing views of the city, and pretty much brings you right up to the French Market.

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_DSC2511^^ These kids playing right near the French Market were so awesome, we just sat and listened to them for a good 15 minutes.

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_DSC2548^^ Another second line parade that happened along our path.

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_DSC2564^^ Basically there are brides and bridal parties everywhere you turn in New Orleans. And who can blame ’em … what a backdrop!

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_DSC2579^^ A bit of a view from the Jazz and History Festival.

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IMG_9714^^ You can’t help but love these guys, right? They aren’t even getting married — they’re just celebrating life.

After a quick rest back at the hotel, we headed back out onto the town for some food, live music and art. We had been hearing great things about the po boys at Verti Marte, so we obviously had to check it out, and they did not disappoint. If you can get past the super sketchy feel of this place (it’s basically a small convenient store with a deli at the back where you order), you’ll be impressed with their po boy options, and even more impressed with the taste. Plan to either get yours delivered or eat it out on the street while you people watch on your way to your next destination (which is what we did).

After dinner we tried to get into Three Muses, but they weren’t taking any more people for the night. This is supposed to be a really fun place for tapas and live music, so if you can make it work, I’d recommend trying it. Lucky for us, though, there was a fun bar about two doors down (30/90) which had good drinks and a live band. So we snuck in there for a while, then wandered around Frenchmen Street for a bit, including the Frenchmen Art Market, which was so romantic with its white string lights and tables and tables of local artists selling their wares.

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FullSizeRender (97)^^ This picture doesn’t do it justice, but we walked home along Bourbon Street that night, and you can only imagine the insanity that ensues here.  Bourbon Street is not for the faint of heart, my friends. Keep that in mind😉

And that was our Saturday! I’ll be back tomorrow with Sunday and Monday (since Monday was a short day). Sunday included a bike tour, which was so much fun, and checking out a new section of town, as well.

But for now … bis bald, friends!

Let’s Talk About Amazing New Orleans: Day 1

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Well friends, we’re back home after a crazy couple of days in the Big Easy! We landed late Thursday and really hit the ground running Friday through Monday night, when we flew back. I feel like we got a good lay of the land from just those couple of days, but New Orleans is definitely a place I would say I’d like to head back to.

I figured the best way to go about blogging for this trip is to break it up by days. Friday morning we really wanted to just take our time and meander around the city, being sure to hit up some of the spots our many, many friends who have been before suggested we see. Here’s what we got up to:

Breakfast was take-away beignets and coffee from Cafe Du Monde, which we ate by the river while we listened to some locals jam away. Chris kept saying how the one thing he really loved about this city was how it seems to have a soundtrack of its own, and I couldn’t agree more.

_DSC2334^^ The Streetcars that ran along Canal Street were so cute — until we took one! More on that later, though …

_DSC2338^^ I took a lot of pictures of buildings people, because … I mean … come on! So gorgeous!

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_DSC2348^^ We decided to do take away from Cafe Du Monde Friday, but we were able to sit down at a table on Monday morning, and it was fantastic. The people watching alone is worth it, but to sit at a table and dunk your beignet in coffee — you’ll think you died and went to heaven.

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_DSC2381^^ Check out the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral in the background. Our tour guide on Sunday told us that Walt Disney modeled the Magic Kingdom castle after it, after coming to New Orleans and being blown away by its beauty. I could definitely see that.

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_DSC2395^^ There are no open container laws in New Orleans, which makes for a pretty interesting time. You can’t have glass bottles on the street, but there’s a lotta paper baggin’ it happening around here!

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_DSC2407^^ Look at this little kid, just playin’ his drum as he crosses the street. This is quintessential New Orleans, if you ask me.

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After breakfast we wandered around the French Quarter, down Bourbon Street and happened upon Cafe Beignet, where we sat to get some drinks and listen to the live band.

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_DSC2420^^ The first of many Sazeracs😉

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Lunch on Friday was at Lüke’s, which was close to our hotel but also happened to have some amazing food. We had oysters (but of course), Court-bouillon with redfish, crab, shrimp, oysters and Louisiana popcorn rice. Chris also had the seafood gumbo, while I opted for the Lüke salad. It was a spectacular lunch, to say the least.

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After lunch we took a quick rest back at our hotel. I should take this chance to talk a bit about where we stayed — The Whitney Hotel. This former bank has kept many of its old banking structures, which makes it super quirky and fun, and its location is enough removed from the madness to be quiet, but also just blocks away from where all the fun is. I’d highly recommend it for anyone’s stay!

_DSC2450^^ The front lobby.

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Our Friday evening consisted of some more exploring, with stops at The Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone (an actual spinning carousel — don’t worry, it’s sloowwwww — and live music make this place so. much. fun!), drinks at The Golden Lantern [which Chris says was his favorite bar out of all those we visited … even if it was a gay bar ;)] and a bit of a walk to Mimi’s in the Marigny, which is, as the name suggests, in the Marigny section of town. We had some delicious tapas for dinner there.

FullSizeRender (94)^^ One of the many second line parades we saw while in town. Anyone can register with the police department for any reason to have a parade, and they will be given real police escorts and everything. Of course you have to hire your own band, though — but those aren’t hard to come by in New Orleans. See the bride in the back? So much fun!

FullSizeRender (93)^^ Checking out the scenery at The Carousel Bar.

IMG_9652^^ So much fun!

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IMG_9665^^ The band in the background could be heard all the way up the carousel part of the bar, which was really cool.

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^^ Delicious dinner at Mimi’s. Tapas rock.

IMG_9695^^ My husband, up to something at Mimi’s, that’s for sure.

And that was our first jam packed day in New Orleans friends! I’ll leave you with this, amazing orchestra duo which we went back to see the following night as well, because they were just that good. Bis bald, friends — and I’ll be back tomorrow with more!

A Quick Trip to South Dakota to Visit Mount Rushmore

01_SouthDakota^^ Holy cow does it look cold or what?! Well it was!

Well friends, unfortunately it’s been about two weeks since we actually made the trek out to South Dakota to visit Mount Rushmore, but I’m only now getting the chance to post some photos from our little adventure. After arriving back into Denver late Monday night with Chris’s parents from New York after my sister’s wedding, we hopped in the car early Tuesday and headed off to add a new state to our list of visits this year — South Dakota. We booked a hotel in Rapid City called Adoba, which was awesome for its proximity to Mount Rushmore and also for the fact that it had a bar right across the street that afforded us the chance to watch the Mets game while we chowed down on some grub after a long day of checking out the sights …

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03_OregonTrail^^ Passing by markers for the Oregon Trail during our drive brought me right back to my American history days!

04_CrazyHorseMemorial^^ Our first stop in South Dakota was the Crazy Horse Memorial. Can you kind of see the face carved into the side of that mountain on the right? This landmark has kind of a crazy story in that it’s pretty much being entirely built by one family who refuses to take contributions from the government. You can read more about the monument here, but essentially the memorial is meant to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of North American Indians. If you’re in the area, I’d recommend checking it out, if only for the museum and the awesome amount of information you can find there.

05_MountainGoat^^ Yes, these are mountain goats, my friends, and guess who was super excited to add this animal to our list of animals we’ve seen this year …

06_MountainGoat^^ My husband was … that’s who😉

07_MountRushmore^^ Entering the Mount Rushmore area was a sort of out-of-body experience for me at first. I mean you spend your whole life growing up, knowing that this place exists, seeing photos of it in history books and reading about what it represents, and then you see it in person … and you’re just blown away.

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11_HotelSunrise^^ The sunrise view from our hotel Wednesday morning certainly wasn’t too shabby.

12_TrailView^^Wednesday morning we drove through Custer State Park and took the Wildlife Loop Road, which was amazing.

13_TrailView^^ We saw bison — hey bison!

14_TrailView^^ A vulture …

15_TrailView^^ You can’t really see it too well in this picture, but there’s a coyote a little right of center in this photo …

16_TrailView^^ There he goes, off to the right and into the woods!

17_TrailView^^ Prairie dogs!

18_TrailView^^ And more bison, super up close and personal.

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21_TrailView^^ Look at these little cuties! We sure do miss them when we’re not with them.

22_TheNeedles^^ We also got to quickly check out Needles Highway on our way back to Mount Rushmore on Wednesday (we didn’t have much time to check out the museum the day before), which was pretty stunning.

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30_MountRushmore^^ And then it was back to Mount Rushmore one more time to finish up with the museum and check out the monument again before heading back to Denver.

It was a super quick little two-day trip, but totally worth it. We were hoping to hit up the Badlands as well, but we definitely didn’t have time for that. Oh well, it’s on the list, still!

And we’re off to New Orleans tomorrow, friends! I cannot wait to check out this city that I’ve heard so much about. Be sure to follow me on Instagram for daily updates, and I’ll be back next week to post an update on the blog.

Until then, bis bald, my friends!

My Sister’s Wedding

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^^ Check out the amazing cabins that my parents rented for the weekend of my sister’s wedding. [They were in Fishkill, New York, by the way, and they’re called Willow Lake Vacation Rentals, if you’re looking for an amazing fall getaway in the Hudson Valley for next year ;)] We stayed there Friday night, got ready for the wedding Saturday and had a big family breakfast there Sunday before everyone headed out. The following couple of photos are all from the weekend of my sister’s wedding, including a tour of West Point that my dad was kind enough to give Chris’s parents on Sunday after everyone had left.

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12Cabin^^ This was a ladybug on Brian’s jacket, which we all determined was very good luck😉

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Life Lately: The Fall in Upstate New York Edition

Hi friends,

As much as fall has been a whirlwind, I was predicting that to be the case, and therefore I’ve been able to (as much as humanly possible!) stop and — to paraphrase — smell the changing leaves😉

Here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to in the past couple (crazy/insane/amazing) weeks …

01_Snooze^^ Snooze with some Aussie visitors before I left for my east coast adventure.

02_DenverCapital^^ Checking out the Colorado State Capitol as part of an expert (not) tour while our friends were in town.

03_PeekskillBrewery^^ Hitting up the Peekskill Brewery for dinner the first night I was home.

04_IthacaLakehouse^^ We rented a lake house in Ithaca for my sister’s bachelorette a few weekends ago, and it was the definition of heavenly.

05_IthacaLakehouse^^ Getting the party started!

06_IthacaLakehouse^^ Cayuga Lake in all its glory.

07_CiderTasting^^ Stopping at the Finger Lakes Cider House on our winery tour.

08_CiderTasting^^ These ladies.

09_IthacaBars^^ I bought these little party hats for our gang to wear out the night of Steph’s bachelorette, and I cannot lie, I kind of love them. What else can I wear this for?!

10_Gorges^^ Checking out the gorges in Ithaca before heading out Sunday. Oh fall — you just get me.

11_Ranger^^ This pup is soooo happy to have me home😉

12_BKWAterfront^^ I headed into the city for a couple days last week for a press event and to visit some friends. This pic was taken during  a walk along the river in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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13_StatueOfLiberty^^ There’s our Lady Liberty, standing all tall and proud!

14_BKNeighborhood^^ It doesn’t get more quaint Brooklyn wonderfulness than my friend’s adorable neighborhood.

15_FayeAndMe^^ Blurry  photo fun down in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

17_BryantPark^^ One of my all-time most favorite places in the entire world — Bryant Park. This little slice of heaven lives amidst all the crazy hustle and bustle of Manhattan, and it really is something special. I appreciate it even more now that I don’t live in NYC anymore …

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19_230Fifth^^ My press event last Thursday took place on the rooftop bar of 230 Fifth.  This place is pricey, but in my opinion it’s absolutely worth it for this view …

19_EmpireState^^ I mean …

20_FlatironBuilding^^ I had some time to kill before the event on Thursday, so I hung out in Madison Square Park for a bit and snapped this pic of the Flatiron Building on my way out.

21_BKPumpkins^^ Pumpkins in Brooklyn.

22_ProspectPark^^ A friend and I walked through Prospect Park in Brooklyn on Sunday before I headed home. Coming back to visit this city — and all the people I love who still live here — is bittersweet now. Still, this was the first time back since we’ve moved away that I thought, “I’m actually okay that I don’t live here.” As much as I adore New York — and I do! — this place can also be exhausting and stressful. Who knows where my life will bring me in the future, but it was a good feeling this trip back to be able to say that for now, I think we made the right decision leaving. Leaving the people there, of course, is a whole other thing …

23_AussieCousin^^ This Aussie cousin of ours is amazing. When he found out a trip he had already planned to New York was happening just days after my sister’s wedding, he rescheduled to be able to attend. Then he found out about our other cousin’s wedding that took place this past Saturday, and he rescheduled again! What a trooper.

24_Wedding^^ A glorious wedding venue.

25_Wedding^^ These two cuties are next!

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27_NewPaltzFall^^ Sunday was frustrating to me, with an unscheduled, unplanned and thoroughly annoying last-minute trip to an Urgent Care Center. The drive out there, however, was splendid in all its fall loveliness, so I rewarded myself with a stop directly in the middle of the road to take this photo.

IMG_8891^^ And this, from a walk around the neighborhood with the dog. Le sigh.

IMG_8574^^ Chris and I haven’t been together all of October, since I’ve been east coasting it — so sometimes we just have to cheers each other virtually, ya know?!

IMG_6118^^ Oh, and he sends me these, too, to melt my heart a little bit😉

And that’s been it so far, my friends! I’m off to the Poconos with a friend this Thursday, and I’m sure there will be plenty more to share with you in the coming weeks – so stay tuned.

Bis bald!

Yellowstone, How We Love You

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After spending a full day with the Tetons on Thursday, Chris and I packed up our belongings from the Tiny House and hopped back in the car to head over to Yellowstone National Park, where we would be spending the next day and 1/2.

A word first about where we slept — the Kings Inn Cody Hotel in Cody, Wyoming.  While there’s a lot to love about this hotel (the eccentric decorations in the lobby and stairwell and the free continental breakfast come to mind), and the town of Cody appeared to be really adorable and quaint and quintessentially mid-western (although we didn’t really get to explore it), Cody is actually quite a distance from the park (about an hour after you make it out of the park, which can take a while depending where you are), so I’d recommend trying first to find somewhere closer, if that’s possible (which it wasn’t for us).

Anyway, it doesn’t matter where we stayed, because we spent full days in the park anyway, and only made it back to the hotel on Friday and Saturday night to pass out. (We made it back so late on Friday that everything was closed for dinner! We had to order pizza from Dominos and save some for the following night, since we knew that would be a late night, too!)

So Yellowstone — oh, Yellowstone. Where do I begin? There’s just so much to love. For starters, it’s important to recognize that it’s been an incredibly active animal season in Yellowstone this year, which is amazing and also a bit scary. There have been some pretty terrible bear encounters, and even a couple of bad bison encounters at some of the parks recently. So we took our bear spray with us again everywhere, tried to hike only when we were with other groups of people and made lots of noise whenever we were in bear territory … the last thing you want to do is come up on a bear and scare or surprise him. Luckily we were safe the entire time, but it’s important to be smart and stay vigilant every single time you visit a park with wildlife. These are wild animals … and no matter how tame and calm they may seem while you’re watching them from afar, things can change in an instant and you really need to stay on your toes.

Okay — enough of that! Once you have properly educated yourself on the way to handle wild animal encounters (!), there is no end to what you can see and do in Yellowstone!

Here’s what we got up to:

_DSC1687^^ One of our first views upon entering the park — you see this and you just know it’s going to be awesome!

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_DSC1706^^ Our first animal sighting in Yellowstone — an elk!

_DSC1709^^ Overlooking Old Faithful from our hike up Observation Point.

_DSC1721^^ Old Faithful erupting! So cool.

_DSC1743^^ Walking around all the different geysers in the Old Faithful area was amazing — they’re so gorgeous and unique.

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_DSC1777^^ Bison!! The first time we saw one we were like “Woah! Look at that Bison!” Then we quickly realized that they are everywhere in the park … still cool though!

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_DSC1806^^ Big-horn elk!

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 ^^ Bear footprint! We saw this about 20 minutes before a black momma bear and her baby walked right up to our car as we were driving home. Chris and I spent about 10 seconds yelling at each other to “grab the camera! grab the flash flight!” before just sitting back and enjoying the sight. Ah, nature. Perfectly lovely, when you’re safe in your car and can watch from a distance😉

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_DSC1841^^ Guys, there’s a coyote in this picture, I swear! The park was especially active with coyote and wolves around this time, too. Unfortunately we were about 5 minutes too late to catch the wolves on our last night, but we saw some amazing pictures from people who did get to see them!

_DSC1845^^ See that big ole’ grizzly lumbering off to the right side of the photo! We were lucky enough to catch this sighting about 10 minutes after we got into the park on Saturday.

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_DSC1860^^ The Mud Volcano — there are a bunch of different geysers to see around this part of the park, as well, definitely worth checking out!

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_DSC1893^^ The Lower Falls as seen from our ridiculously steep Uncle Tom’s Trail hike.  You guys, this hike is absolutely worth it — if you’re feeling fit enough to do it. It’s definitely not a joke. Yellowstone is over 7000 ft. above sea level, which is pretty high, even for me, coming from Denver at 5280 ft. The hike itself covers a span of about 500 feet, and includes hundreds (I’m not exaggerating) of steps. If you take your time and acclimate before attempting this hike, it’s totally worth the view at the end, though. For those afraid of heights, the open metal stairs might pose a small problem, too. I’d recommend just holding onto the railing and looking straight ahead … not down!

_DSC1897^^ The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

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_DSC1909^^ See? Stairs … and lots of ’em!

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_DSC1943^^ This mom and baby big-horn sheep were grazing right next to the side of the road, totally oblivious to the cars and people.

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_DSC1966^^ Views on our Trout Lake hike. This hike is gorgeous (as you can see from the above photo), and it’s relatively short to get to the lake, but it is steep, and it’s deep in bear country, so do not do this hike without bear spray and lots of other people to make noise!

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_DSC1974^^ Not sure where this skull came from, or what kind animal it is, but let’s just say it was a bit unnerving to come across it while walking around such a serene, beautiful lake!

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_DSC2019^^ Dipping our toes in Lamar River, where tons of people were fly fishing, which is so fun to watch!

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_DSC2035^^ The prong-horn antelope in this picture practically blend right in — can you see ’em?!

_DSC2036^^ While the momma and baby bear was my favorite bear sighting, this was Chris’s. There’s a big ole’ grizzly in the middle of this photo (find him!), which some kind fellow watchers were nice enough to let us borrow their telescopes to see closer. He stayed in this field for hours, eating berries, chasing bison and just generally having a grand old time. It was really something to see.

_DSC2051^^ Another prong-horn antelope.

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_DSC2065^^ This bison and a friend of his wandered super close to our group while we were watching out for the wolves on our last night in Yellowstone. I was a tad scared, to say the least, but no one else seemed to mind, and he did end up minding his own business. Still, it was definitely a bit closer than I normally like to get to wildlife, unless I’m in my car. (Makes for good pictures, though!)

_DSC2086^^ There was a fire that had been started by lightening the whole time we were in the park, but it was far enough away that it didn’t pose any real threat to the visitors just yet. The park has a “let it burn” policy, actually, as this type of thing is nature’s way of rejuvenating the land.

_DSC2096^^ Final, farewell Yellowstone photo — gosh darn you’re amazing!

And that, my friends, is it. Our trips to Jackson, the Tetons and Yellowstone, in three succinct blog posts. Here’s what I’ll say — you could spend weeks here and probably see something new every single day. It’s an amazing, amazing place, and I hope to be back again in the future.

Bis bald, friends!

A Day in Grand Teton National Park

Jackson Lake, Wyoming

After settling into our amazing tiny house last Wednesday, we woke up bright and early Thursday morning, ready to tackle the awesome splendor that is Grand Teton National Park.  We got up around 6 a.m., made some coffee, and sat on our front porch overlooking the Tetons while we planned our day.

Here’s how the day went:

We started with breakfast at a cute little bakery right in the downtown part of Jackson called Persephone, where we ordered coffees, breakfast sandwiches and scones to go. It was busy, but we didn’t have to wait too long, and the food was amazing, so I’d highly recommend checking this place out if you’re in town.

After grabbing breakfast, we headed across the street to an outdoor store and grabbed some bear spray.

A note about the bear spray, people — it’s expensive, but it makes all the difference in terms of comfort level when you’ll be hiking (or even just standing!) in areas where there has been heavy bear activity, like there has been this year in both the Tetons and Yellowstone. For example — we ended up seeing four bears in Yellowstone … but that’s a post for another day😉

Anyway, after breakfast and bear spray, we started the drive out to the park. The road we originally wanted to take was actually closed down due to bear activity (see!), but no matter where you drive around the Tetons, you’re sure to see some amazing stuff.

Here’s what we got up to and saw:

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_DSC1591^^ Jenny Lake

_DSC1595^^ The views on our Hidden Falls hike.

_DSC1597^^ Jenny Lake as seen from the Hidden Falls hike.

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_DSC1650^^ After our hike, we stopped off at Dornans to have some drinks overlooking the mountains.

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_DSC1675^^ Doesn’t get much more Wyoming than this.

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On our way back to our tiny house, we stopped off at the grocery store to pick up some veggies and smores to grill and some wine to drink. Chris was dying to try out the outdoor grill that came with our tiny house, and I was dying to stare up at the stars all night long — so it worked out well for both of us!

We also decided to try out The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, right in downtown Jackson, which is about as cowboy/Midwest as you can possibly get. It’s definitely worth a stop-in for a drink if you’re in the area!

FullSizeRender (84)^^ You can’t really tell from this photo, but we’re actually sitting on bar stools that are saddles. Fun!

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_DSC1670^^ Grilling for dinner right next to our tiny house. It was the perfect way to end our day full o’ fun at the Grand Tetons!

The next morning we would be up early (again!) to head over to breakfast at The Bunnery in Jackson before driving about an hour or so to start our Yellowstone adventure.

But more on that to come later, my friends. For now — bis bald!

The Allure of a Tiny House for Vacation

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Well friends, Chris and I just returned from a four-day trip in Wyoming. While there we visited Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park, all of which was amazing, breathtaking and incredible — and we probably wouldn’t have done it at all without the generous courtesy of Fireside Resorts, which invited me out to try out their Caboose Cabin rental in the town of Wilson, about 10 minutes from downtown Jackson.

Now, I’ve heard a lot about these “tiny” houses over the past few years, but to be honest I hadn’t paid a ton of attention because Chris and I have managed to live in cities where, for the most part, our living spaces have been what can only be described as “tiny”. Having said that, there is something altogether different about the likes of the Wheelhaus tiny house that we were lucky enough to stay in through Fireside Resorts. These houses, while tiny, are not only beautiful and state-of-the-art, but the views simply couldn’t get any better.

Here’s a bit of what the inside looked like:

_DSC1521^^ We arrived Wednesday after dark, so our first impression of the campground was through the soft lighting of the resorts. That, plus the incredible starry sky, was all the welcome I needed to know this place was going to be amazing.

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_DSC1526^^ The master bedroom had a closed-off porch attached, which was right next to the grilling area and a babbling brook. Talk about idyllic!

_DSC1528^^ The loft upstairs held two beds.

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_DSC1546^^ The next morning we were able to see what the view from our cabin truly was …

_DSC1547^^ And take advantage of the coffee machine, of course😉

_DSC1549^^ Ahh, tetons. I could stare at you all gosh darn day!

_DSC1555^^ The brook next to our cabin.

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_DSC1564^^ Our first morning at the cabin was happily spent sipping coffee on the front porch, overlooking the Tetons, while planning our trip to the National Park that day.

_DSC1569^^ When the keys to your rental come attached to a Swiss Army knife, you just know your stay is going to be bad-ass!

_DSC1570^^ A side view of the house.

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I have more to say about this amazing place, but I’ll go ahead and talk about some other things we loved about it in future posts. For now, I’ll just say that if you have ever considered renting a tiny home in lieu of a regular hotel in the past, now is the time to do it. Seriously, do it! You won’t regret it — I can promise you that😉

Bis bald, friends! I’ll be back tomorrow with everything Grand Teton related!

Baseball and a New Brunch Place

01_Rockies Game
Last Friday Chris and I took advantage of his boss’s Rockies season tickets to take in our first baseball game at Coors Field. This was especially meaningful for us because the Rockies just happened to be playing … drum roll please … the Mets! Amazing.

And it was an amazing game, as well. (Go Mets!)

02_Rockies Game
On Sunday we decided to hit up Snooze (which is consistently ranked among the top places to get brunch in Denver). There are two locations near us — one in Union Station and another on Larimer. While the original plan was to get up early and head to the stand-alone restaurant on Larimer to hopefully avoid the (always present) crowds, let’s just say that didn’t happen because of someone (ahem … it was me. All my fault.), so we hit up the Union Station location instead, since there were places we could grab a coffee and hang out outside while waiting.

As a side note: I would highly recommend this course of action for anyone attempting to eat at Snooze on the weekend. We were told our wait would be an hour and 45 minutes (although I think it actually ended up only being a little over an hour), but we barely noticed because we grabbed coffee from Pigtrain and sat outside in the gorgeous weather watching the little kids and dogs run around in the water fountains.

Not too shabby.

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Our waiter was some kind of wonderful. He felt pretty strongly that, since this was our first time at Snooze, we should get to experience some form of delicious pancakes, and because we both ordered from ‘the art of hollandaise’ section of the menu (hello, eggs benedict!), he sent one over for us to try on the house.

And it was … spectacular!

07_Snooze Pancake^^ Behold, the Blueberry Danish pancake, friends. Commence drooling now.

08_Snooze Bennie^^ Chris and I both picked the ‘Benny Due Can’t Decide?! option from the menu, which allows you to mix and match two half orders of eggs benedict options (mine, above, was the Caprese and Bella! Bella! Benny with the prosciutto removed).

All told, while I have to say that there will always be a special place in my heart for The Delectable Egg, I can certainly see why people say Snooze is a must-hit when in Denver. We’ll certainly be back here again in the near future, that’s for sure.

Bis bald, friends!

A Saturday Spent at Rocky Mountain National Park

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Hey friends,

On Saturday, Chris and I hopped in the car and drove out to Rocky Mountain National Park, a 415 square mile park that encompasses some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve seen yet in Colorado — and that’s really saying something.

So to start, we decided to bite the bullet and purchase an America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass for $80. An individual car entrance for just one visit to Rocky Mountain National Park is $20, and we’ve already been to Arches National Park and have plans to visit Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park (we plan to visit Mount Rushmore as well, but there’s no fee to get in to see the monument there, and the parking fee isn’t covered by the annual pass) — so we figured it will probably be worth the cost.

Now let’s talk a little bit about the Trail Ridge Road, which was the first thing we tackled on our visit … holy cow, friends, it’s insane! From the park site:

Covering the 48 miles between Estes Park on the park’s east side and Grand Lake on the west, Trail Ridge Road more than lives up to its advanced billing. Eleven miles of this high highway travel above treeline, the elevation near 11,500 feet where the park’s evergreen forests come to a halt. As it winds across the tundra’s vastness to its high point at 12,183 feet elevation, Trail Ridge Road (U.S. 34) offers visitors thrilling views, wildlife sightings and spectacular alpine wildflower exhibitions, all from the comfort of their car.

The drive up to the visitor’s center is absolutely stunning, with plenty of places to pull off along the side of the road and gawk. If you’re lucky — like we were — you might even see tons of animals, like deer, marmot, groundhogs, squirrels and chipmunks and, our all-time favorite, the bighorn sheep.

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_DSC1488^^ Bighorn sheep! And if you look very closely, you can see a little groundhog trailing him …

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While the views here are unlike any you’ll find anywhere else, you will need to pay attention to signs of altitude sickness. At over 12,000 feet in spots, I definitely wouldn’t recommend taking visitors here on their first day in Colorado. You’ll need to give yourself time to acclimate to the higher altitude, drink plenty of water and take things slowwwww. There’s no shame in taking your time on hikes around here — no one wants to have to deal with the effects of altitude sickness … blech!

Oh and one other word of wise — wear pants and bring a coat! Chris and I were total rookies and didn’t even think about the fact that high altitude brings chilly weather (we’re talking 50s and low 60s here, people), so we were forced to buy sweaters from the visitors center just to be able to make it through the rest of the day!

We took a couple of hours to see everything we wanted along the ride (I would recommend driving all the way up to the visitor’s center first, checking that out and doing the short little hike near the center, then driving back down to make your stops), and we even pulled over at one particularly gorgeous spot to stop and have some lunch we had packed. After we headed over to the super simple Bear Lake hike, which is only a .6 mile loops with no incline.

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We were going to attempt the Alberta Falls 1.2 mile hike, as well, but at that point we were getting a bit tired and felt like we had jam packed a lot into our first ever trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.

But don’t worry, Alberta Falls — now that we’ve got our annual pass, we’ll be back for ya!

Bis bald, friends!