Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On Holiday... See You Next Year!!!

There aren't many bentos to be packed when we are on holiday! So we'll see you next year, when school is back in session.

Delightfully Over The Top Christmas Lights, It's Our Tradition



Every year, we load up in the car and hit our favorite neighborhood to view Christmas lights displays. This one house in particular always has the most over the top displays, which I tried to capture. Moving window displays, a choo-choo train, Santa sitting at the formally set dining room table, reindeers on the roof and in the yard! Enjoy.

Sorry for the audio, I put the music track over to distract from my chatting. Yes, I do say Baby Chuckie up in the window, in case you are wondering.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Gift For You, Organic and Delightful Steaz Iced Teaz

Let's not beat around the bush, I am a TEA FANATIC. Hot, cold, iced, spiced, sweet, unsweetened, plain, organic, black, white, green, chai, on and on... Tea, I love tea. Only problem with many ready to serve tea products on the market is that they are full of the stuff I loathe, high fructose corn syrup.

But a product I've been enjoying from Whole Foods Market, Steaz Iced Teaz is now available at Target! Can I get a hallelujah! We all know how often I'm at the big red store, so when I found out I could buy Steaz there I was beyond thrilled.
Steaz sent me a box of their canned iced teas for free, containing Green Tea with Peach, Green Tea with Blueberry Pomegranate Acai, and White Tea with Lime and Pomegranate.

Why do I love Steaz?

Before the tea arrived, I was already a Steaz fan. I'm a person that chooses to lightly sweeten my tea, when I make it at home. Typically I find that I have to brew my own tea to make iced tea because believe it or not, I like the flavor of tea and many times that gets lost in commercial brands. Steaz really sets itself apart in the flavor level. They understand the delicate balance that needs to compliment a tea leaf. Their tea is made from Fair Trade Certified tea leaves, which means the farmers are paid at fair living wages so they can compete in the global marketplace.

Ingredients make the difference. When the beverage you drink contains natural antioxidants, sweeteners that balance out the flavors not overpower it, and gentle aromas from fruits it just tastes better. For me, I feel better.

Even better, one winner will receive a free box of tea from Steaz! If you don't win, you can also print out a buy one get one free coupon for target here. Really everyone is a winner!

How to enter:
Share with me your favorite kind of tea in a comment below!

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Contest Rules:
1. Contest open from 12/22-12/29! Comments will close when the contest has ended.
2. 12/29 I will send out an email to the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond to my email.
3. I will need your name and address, to provide to Steaz, who will directly ship to you!
4. Comments that don't meet the criteria (response to my question) will be deleted.
5. You may enter as many times as you like!
6. If you don't have a blogger/open id account, please leave a valid email address in your comment for me to contact you .
7. One winner will be chosen at random, by random.org from the total number of eligible entries.
8. Good luck!

photo from Steaz flickr group

My Gift For You, Escape The Holiday Music Doldrums With Some Help From Dan Zanes!!!

One day about five years ago I found myself driving in my car, all alone. About ten minutes into my drive, it hit me, I was listening to my daughter's music. In my car alone. In that moment I felt silly, but it was a glimpse into how important it is to like the music you play for your children!

Right about now, I'm assuming we've all had it up to our ears with holiday music. Holiday music in the car, in the house, on the iPod, in the stores, at the doctor's office, in the bathroom of the grocery store. Holiday music, holiday music. Well, I've met my holiday music threshold. I know a couple of you haven't met your holiday music threshold, but soon enough you'll be looking for new music to fill the void.

A couple of weeks ago, a package arrived on my doorstep. It contained NEW MUSIC! We all know Dan Zanes, he's the bridge between music we love and our children love even more. The new 76 Trombones cd features songs from Broadway. There are certain parts of our day, that I find myself reaching for Dan Zanes' music to give my day a pick me up. 4 pm, we've had snack, the house is a total mess out of no where, I need to start dinner. The girls want to be zombies in front of the television, but I tell them no such luck. I pop in 76 Trombones and before I know it, the girls and I are dancing on our tip toes, spinning and twirling as we pick up wooden blocks and toss them with the beat into a basket. Dan Zanes, saves the day once again.

In the package with the cd, was a new dvd (with a bonus cd) called Dan Zanes and friends, The Fine Friends Are Here! It's a live show from Brooklyn, NY! YouTube teaser here! I love having the option to pop in a dvd of a live performance for the girls. About once or twice a year, we seek out hard to find kids concerts to bring the girls to. Now we can bring the experience into our home, which I adore. After popping the dvd in, my living room seems to be instantly transformed into a dance hall.

Great news, along with my copies of Dan Zanes new cd and dvd, Festival Five Records have offered up 2 sets for my readers!

So leave a comment below and tell me what you already love about Dan Zanes music or why you would love to win a cd/dvd combo of your own!
Two winners will be chosen at random.

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Contest Details:
1. Contest open from 12/22-12/29! Comments will close when the contest has ended.
2. 12/29 I will send out an email to the 2 winners, you will have 48 hours to respond to my email.
3. I will need your name and address, to provide to FFR, who will directly ship to the winners!
4. Comments that don't meet the criteria (response to my question) will be deleted.
5. You may enter as many times as you like!
6. If you don't have a blogger/open id account, please leave a valid email address for me to contact you.
7. Two winners will be chosen at random, by random.org from the total number of eligible entries.
8. Good luck!

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Fine print:
Festival Five Records, sent me the advance copy of the cd/dvd combo for us to enjoy. They also graciously offered up two sets as a giveaway to you!

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm Not Burning My Bra, But Mesmerize Me With Women's Wisdom

Over the past year, one of the most tender subjects I've touched upon here is my friendships. I wrote a post back in April called, Having The Courage To Say What's Missing. Really I was throwing myself a little pity party, but those feelings needed to be expressed. Today, when I sit here and think about my friends, I feel grateful. I feel content that they have all come into my life at various stages, but have amazingly stuck by me.

A few weeks ago I was asked to join a women's group. Quite simply put it's a gathering of 10 women (9 of which were strangers to me), kind of like book club with out the pressure to read a book. Heck, I've been in book clubs and the majority of the time we just wanted to talk about everything BUT the book. For me the women's group was an opportunity to experience something new, take a bit of a leap of faith and put myself out there to see what the group would be and feel like. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect.

I'm happy I did.

I believe now, after just two meetings, that women have a beautiful sense of wisdom when we allow ourselves the opportunity to share from an authentic place. It's a wisdom that feels like a warm hug, even with women you hardly even know. Then of course having deep conversations poses the question, how much do my friends know about me? We all have friends in our life that can handle our shit (like the true shit), some that can handle a version of our shit, and some that really only want your put together game face. Those words I say from a purely non-judgmental place. Now that I've gathered some perspective on my ability to be open with my friends, I recognize I need them in those ways that they have developed in friendship with me.

Creating space.

Many people may say, gosh I wouldn't go near a room with ten women working through their issues, whether it be something happening in the now that is more than likely fleeting or an ongoing problem we've grappled with our entire lives. That feeling never really crossed my mind. Truly, I have to tap back into the wisdom I spoke of. Sitting, listening, feeling other's emotions, offering our perspective with thoughts from our own experience is pure wisdom.

How words influence me.

The conversations that have transpired, whether it be prompted by me or not, have impacted my everyday reality. I feel more nourished. I don't feel so much longing for what I don't have. I know beating myself up about the house being unkept or the perfect long and lean body I want, is not the right space for me to bring about change. I realize that a little bit of self nurturing can bring about a wave of renewal, I never quite anticipated.

Wow.

Now, those moments in a phone conversation with girlfriends, emails, or a simple text have more longevity in my heart. I feel gratitude they are on this journey with me. I feel gratitude that I can embrace the wisdom from other women with not having to judge. Best of all, I feel gratitude for letting go of what my mind created a perfect friend should be, because all of my girlfriends have given a piece to me that helps make my life more complete.

I hope you all know, you mean the world to me. That is gratitude in wisdom.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

You Bento, But What About All This Stuff?

There comes that day for everyone who loves to pack bentos, where am I going to put all this stuff? Yes, the upside to packing bentos far surpasses the downsides, but organization is the key to successful bentoing.

See this drawer to the left? I have three very oversized utensil/silverware drawers in my kitchen. They allow me the luxury of storing items out of sight, that would typically be displayed on counter tops. I like that, it keeps my kitchen feeling harmonious. Only problem is, the bento accessories have taken over. This particular drawer is the one I use most often, the left side divider once contained our every day go to utensils. Slowly over time (since August) the bento items started to creep in. Cookie cutters, silicone cups, and picks are the main culprits. They are bento items I use every single day, I like to have them at my finger tips. But stealing my coveted utensil spot, not so much. This drawer is on my to-do list. Will update when I get to it.

I keep up above my kitchen cabinets, the actual bento boxes in a white tub. I have a surplus of Hello Kitty boxes that I picked up at a dollar store a few years ago, they were a real find! They aren't my first choice when packing a lunch, but sometimes their shape makes them the best choice. I know we'll out grow this tub soon, but I love the ease of being able to pull it out and have all the bentos in open view. It's funny how some meals work perfectly for a particular shape and sometimes the bento I want to use just isn't the best choice.

The blue bento is labeled, "access". That's the box I keep very small and easily lost bento accessories. See in the photo to the left. These are my highly coveted items that my husband has brought back from Japan. Living in Colorado it's very hard to find all these special little bottles, picks, dividers, and sauce holders. I have to make sure I keep them under wraps and organized.

To me, it's what sets my lunch packing apart. The little touches make it feel more special.

Wordless Wednesday: Pure Gratitude

100% of the credit for capturing this moment goes to the gracious, Gwen Bell

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When The Universe Is Your Cheerleader, You Can't Ignore It...

There are pros and cons to celebrating your birthday just two short weeks before one of the biggest gift giving holidays of the season. Con, at some point gifts evolve from birthday presents to Merry Christmas/Happy Birthday presents. Friends and family no longer decide to dig out cute polka dot paper for your gift, they use left over Santa paper. But with age, I've come to accept a December birthday as a blessing.

Why? The blessing of reflection.

I personally recognize birthdays as milestones. With milestones, one has the ability to take a moment to reflect upon the year that has passed. For me, I wondered if I accomplished meaningful things this past year, have I been kind and lived a conscious life? Then on the flip side, when blowing out the candles, hopes and wishes for the year ahead come rushing into my mind. Having a few weeks jump start on the New Year, I can begin working through my goals early, honing in on where to focus my energy come January 1st.

On Saturday, I was given the opportunity to blow out the candles on a beautiful cake. That day, leading up to the blowing out of the candles, I felt so much gratitude. I was in a beautiful art gallery, surrounded by girlfriends that I've met through various stages of my life. One of my oldest and dearest friends growing up was in the room, the girlfriends that arrived moments after giving birth to my hospital room, the girlfriends that have seen me with unwashed hair and a milk stained t-shirt over the course of my entry into motherhood, not once but twice. There were also girlfriends there that have only seen me with my best game face on. But the bottom line is, they all showed up that day for me. Just saying that, leaves me feeling so grateful.
I was asked to become a brand enthusiast for Nintendo. Part of the opportunity as a brand enthusiast is to have a Wii Fit Plus Party with a group of girlfriends. I kind of chuckle thinking how my life has come full circle. I loved Super Mario Brothers when I was growing up, even though ironically enough my family didn't own a Super Nintendo gaming system. My neighbors put up with me and my love for SMB morning, noon, and well into the night. Last October, I wrote about the girl that could save the princess. My husband and I have never owned a gaming system that quite spoke to me like the Super Nintendo of my childhood. After looking at my brand new Wii Fit in the box for a week, then being in the right place at the right time, we finally purchased a Wii for the family.

Recently Nintendo released the Wii Fit Plus. I personally think they should have called it the Wii Fit PLUS! in bold lettering with an exclamation point. The updates to the Wii Fit software are fabulous. Want to fit in a quick workout after overindulging, just simply click the routine that is programmed right into the software for you. Have family members that like to play together (even my 3 year old loves to try), simply click into multi-user mode and voile, no more clicking through the menus endless times. The four of us play after dinner and boy does time fly when your having fun! It all happens so seamlessly with the Wii Fit Plus.

Which brings me back to the universe. When I recognize the gratitude in my life, there's no denying the universe is my cheerleader. I've been struggling with about 15-20 pounds since giving birth 3 years ago. Sometimes the weight melts off when I least expect it and other times, I wonder who shrunk my jeans. Being 5'11" gives me the advantage of my weight fluctuating about 5-10 pounds really unnoticed, but I notice. I want to be slimmer. I want to feel healthy and have the glow of a woman that takes time to care for her body (as much as I care for my family). Becoming active has been a priority for me, that waxes and wanes. You can read more in my attempting to move posts. I feel like the Wii Fit Plus and the opportunity to become a brand enthusiast, is the gentle nudge I needed to focus on my goals. The beauty of the Wii Fit Plus for me, is that it's right here in my home, which is where I spend my days with my 3 year old. No need for babysitters, my husband to get home early to take care of the girls, nice weather, or money from my family budget. It also means no more excuses Denise, it's time to be the best you can be.

I can feel the motivation that exists from with in. Taking that motivation to the next step with fitness tools, is what will make 2010 (I'll be saying Twenty Ten) a year to remember. The year 15 or 20 pounds to lose becomes a thing of the past.

Fit and toned body, watch out I am coming to get you!!!

Look at that post-party glow...
On a side note, I have a very exciting opportunity to share with you within the next week or so. The details are being worked out, so please make sure to subscribe in reader, via email, or come by every few days. I promise it's the best opportunity from Eat Play Love yet!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's My Birthday & I Request A Do-Over...

Saturday I hosted a party, unlike any other party I've ever hosted. Details will be coming soon on my little gathering, trust met it deserves it's own post. I had a wonderful time. I laughed, smiled, and felt overjoyed to be able to hang out with my girlfriends, that have never gathered in one location together. This gathering made me grateful to have so many caring and generous women in my life.

There was even a surprise birthday cake for me, it tasted even better than it looked:
After my gathering and the girls went to sleep, I plopped on the couch and watched a little television. I kept my eye on the clock. It was getting later and later, but I had to make it to the toy store before closing. After some mental coaxing, I made myself presentable and headed out to the toy store. Truly it was the last place I wanted to be, but I needed to get in on the last day of sales they were offering. The toy store was worse than I anticipated, dirty, crushed toys in their boxes, some out of boxes, trash everywhere, abandoned full carts, crying children, and zombified parents. I kept telling myself in and out, easy peasy.

Good news is, I acquired the items I set out for. Bad news is, I started to feel a bit gassy while shopping. By the time I got home, I had a full blown stomach ache. I got over my disdain for antacid tabs and took two. I drank water. I moaned like a big baby. The gas, pressure, and uneasy feeling was getting worse. Sparing you the details, by 1am I was getting physically sick. I probably didn't get comfortable enough to get to sleep until 2:30am.

Morning arrived faster than I expected. Sigh. J let me sleep in, I think I finally opened my eyes at 9:15! Woo hoo... My stomach ache was gone, but I felt like I had been through the ringer. The big plans for the day, which included a trip to Denver to a restaurant I've been wanting to eat at for years, was postponed. I couldn't bring myself to leave the house, no less go out to eat. Eww, eww, eww.

But it's my Birthday!

So instead, I spent the day being a sloth. I was either on the couch lounging or in bed. My husband was absolutely caring and met my requests. I wanted the laptop in my bedroom, so he gathered up the modem and made it happen. I was able to get through my reader, yeah! I even had some uninterrupted time to read Nie Nie's feature called Climbing Back. Her story made me feel hope and grateful, especially on my birthday which is a wonderful time to reflect on life.

J was disappointed he didn't get to make the lavish breakfast he had shopped in advance for. Instead, I had a glass of water on our bamboo food tray, served appropriately enough in bed. Although I am happy to report, he did get to cook me risotto, which is one of the meals I love for him to prepare. By the time dinner rolled around, risotto was a perfect meal. I gobbled up dinner, having eaten just a few slices of bread all day.

No cake for me.

But it's my Birthday!

Now, I'm laying here thinking, I can request a do-over, it's my Birthday! I want the breakfast in bed, the cake made by J and the girls. I want to do our traditional drive around town to see the houses decorated in Christmas lights, sipping a cup of hot chai. I definitely want the rain check for lunch in Denver. Next Sunday has do-over written all over it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Date, Some Toy Shopping, and Disappointment...

My husband and I had a babysitter last weekend, Woohoo! So we decided to go Christmas shopping, BooHoo! Just kidding. Although things didn't quite turn out as I planned.

I'm over at Rocky Mountain Moms Blog sharing what happened...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: My Anthropologie Boots One Year Later, oh how I love thee...

*This post was not sponsored by Anthropologie, but I would be open to any freebies they would like to throw at me. I'll write all day and night for Anthro.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Frozen Windshield Washer Fluid, Really Is a Dilemma...

Have you ever been overly consumed with something so menial that you actually wrote a blog post about it? I'm sure I have explored menial topics over the past couple of years. But the last few days have been rough because of a little problem I'm having. Okay maybe it's not little, for you see I can't let it go.

Consumed to the next level...

In case you live in a lovely part of the country where it's not freezing out, hello it's
currently below ZERO. Unlike typical Colorado weather where it's snowy and cold for a couple of days, maybe three tops, the cold just doesn't seem to be going away. Cold and snow for well over a week now. No warm Colorado sunshine melting the snow, warming the house, warming my spirit. It's fine, I'm not really here to complain about the temperature, I'm here to complain about something much more urgent.

Windshield Washer Fluid

That blue stuff you pick up for a buck at the gas station, it helps keep your windows clean. Windshield washer fluid helps keep your vehicle safely on the road by maintaining a level of cleanliness that's essential to driving. Clean windshields are especially important during crucial moments on snowy ice packed roads, icy splashback from the car in front of you, or light precipitation mixed with the previous two conditions. Only problem is, when it freezes like a big ol' hunk of ice in your windshield washer fluid tank, it does you absolutely no good.

Well, it does drive you bonkers. But that's not good right?

Like any intelligent woman, I googled "how to unfreeze windshield washer fluid". Oh trust me there are a plethora of suggestions, but none of which allowed me to solve my problem. Thanks google. I can put my car in the garage, but I will be the first to admit it's not much warmer in there and that would also mean juggling all sorts of random stuff around to actually fit my car in there. Which doesn't seem appealing when the end result (melted w/w fluid) may not be attainable. I may have used a hair dryer on the blue hunka-hunka frozen fluid, until I felt like a total ass and ran inside hoping no neighbors saw me.

Instead, I just think about solving the problem morning, noon, and night. I ask my friends on twitter. No luck. Although I did entertain some interesting suggestions.

For the meantime, until the temperatures rise to melt my blue w/w fluid ice block, I'm avoiding the highway. My school commute to pick up Sj has been lengthened and well, we've decided to enjoy the view. The cows sure are pretty in one big clump, trying to stay warm from each other's body heat. That's why they are snuggling right?

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The Update:
Due to the overwhelming search driven response to this post I'd like to share how my dilemma was solved. The car dealership. My Highlander was overdue for an oil change. Just from my vehicle sitting in the work bay all morning, it unthawed miraculously on it's own. Of course within 24 hours, it warmed up above freezing.

Now it's only full of the high test pink stuff. So if you are desperate, go get an oil change. Some place that takes way too long for a simple task. It might just do the trick.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Returning Home, Fingers Crossed...

Finally, it's happening. My husband and I are taking our girls back to upstate New York to visit our families. Our youngest who is about to celebrate her third birthday has never made the trip back. The last time I was upstate she was in my belly. Incredible how the time flies.

Quite honestly during the winter is not my ideal time to visit New York. Summer is my ideal time, but this summer the airplane tickets were astronomical. Like so expensive that I could fly to Europe for cheaper. Random airlines, downturn in economy, jack up prices? We kept our search up, trying to work school schedules and my husband's work schedule, the stars aligned and we found decently priced tickets. Hooray!

We're already planning what we are going to do. We've got catching up to do. Three years is a long time and to think my daughter hasn't met the majority of our family, that's the hard part of living 1,800 miles away. I feel grateful that my parents come to visit about three times a year, so we won't be starting anew with everyone. It gets complicated like most families, but I just want it to be for them. I told J, this trip is for our girls. For them to see and know our childhood homes, have sleepovers with their cousins, make pizza in Nana's kitchen, get an ice cream sundae at Friendly's, and allow their grandparents to just enjoy the time of being with them. I envision book reading, game nights, movie time, lots of hugs, bouncing on laps, and tons of giggles. There will be big meals, running around, and a trip to Bella Napoli (Italian Bakery). J and I will even slip away for a night to New York City. We need it more than you can imagine. I know the time will fly by.

Fingers crossed we have mild weather for flying. Fingers crossed we have huge embraces and the time that has passed with our family will just seem like months ago, rather than years. Fingers crossed we can all remember that even though we are far apart for the majority of the year, we all love one another and can celebrate the precious time we have together. Fingers crossed it won't be another three years until we make it back. Fingers crossed our daughters will just melt their hearts and they'll decide they want to come spend more time with us in Colorado.

Fingers crossed...

Hot Bento: Mac N Cheese, Carrot Flowers, Pirate's Booty, & Red Peppers

This week started slowly. An entire week of break is a transition to bounce back from. Lucky for me, my husband has been packing Sj's lunch each morning. Which means, I don't have photos for posts. I think I need to get him on board, so we can have the "Dad Bento" perspective. He does a great job making a typical lunch and I am grateful for the help when I'm not back into the swing of things.

When I was cutting out the carrot flowers this morning, my daughter mentioned how she loves the creativity I put into her lunches (aka dad's been on duty all week). Really to cut out some flowers isn't very difficult. I will admit using the Japanese cutters I found made a huge difference. The flower cutters went right through the carrots like butter! As always, I put the carrot remains on the girls' plates with their breakfast. The gobbled them up first. Funny to think most people would discard them.
To accompany her carrot flowers, I cut up some red peppers. I added a small cup of Pirate's Booty, which I buy at Costco in the industrial size two packs. For a special treat I added some panda cookies, that are filled with chocolate from our local Asian Supply Store. The bento I used today is one typically reserved for my husband, but our daughter forgot her hot insulated bento yesterday! This was a first for her. So I am hoping to get a report that the stainless steel bento in an insulated lunch bag did keep somewhat warm.
As I write this, I realize I forgot a spoon. Oops...I'm sure I'll definitely hear about that today.

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Disclosure: As I have shared in the past, I have not been paid or sent free products, which were mentioned in this post. I simply like to share the choices I make for my family, as we try to eat healthy and as organic as possible.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bento Less Breaks, Whimsical Muffin Tin Meals At Home!

During school breaks, like last week, I didn't pack any bentos. Although I do occasionally make lunch or dinner in cupcake/muffin tins for my daughters. It's a refreshing change to see everything in little cups. They are a big fan of it and it makes dinner/lunch just a bit more whimsical for them. In the past I've also used ice cube trays as an alternative, it provides many small options which is perfect for a picky eater. Give muffin tin meals a try at home, surprise your kids. In turn they may just surprise you with their eating!

Wordless Wednesday: Man's Best Friend's Best Friends...

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Whirlwind Weekend: Girlfriends, Pedicures, Vampires, and Lunch

The weekend has finally ended. I have to admit, we need more Thursday holidays that are steeped in food traditions and gathering to be thankful. I vote for a quarterly Thanksgiving to keep us all grounded. Really to me the weekend was just epic. I started early in the week with some tea and conversation with a girlfriend in the evening. Sometimes it's nice to slip out of the house and have conversation at a coffee shop. We opted out of the meet for a drink because that's just our personality, we needed to vent, we needed warm drinks to fill us up. The chatting overflowed. Oh and there may have been a peppermint brownie involved. I was also fortunate enough to drag a friend along grocery shopping with me, Wednesday evening. Yes, the night before Thanksgiving someone was dear enough to join me at Whole Foods. Talk about that's what friends are for. She's a keeper.

After a wonderful low key Thanksgiving Day with my family, I snuck off with a girlfriend to see New Moon on Black Friday. You don't need my review, although I will tell you I really enjoyed it. It inspired me to actually finish book three and four. Which I am not abandoning like I did New Moon, I'm hooked. Did I just say that? Believe it or not, if the movie and tea weren't enough my weekend of reconnecting was not over!

Saturday afternoon, after my husband returned from a 45 mile bicycle adventure, I went off on my own adventure. Pedicure time. Picked up a friend and hit the foot spa! Although I am not to sure about paying for pedicures in the winter. I have this instinct to show my toes and with cold weather, that's not happening. So now, I'm not wearing socks or slippers around the house and my feet are cold. But my toes are pretty. My pedicure was topped off with a dinner with friends. Good food and laughs, our doggies all playing together just topped off the great weekend.

Believe it or not with all the socializing and going out I had all week, which was more than the last three months combined, I had plans on Sunday. ME?!? A lunch date with the most fabulous group of coworkers a woman could ever ask for. Seven of us, all met for lunch. It had been years since I had seen a few of the women, a few months for most of them. We all taught together about eight years ago and have kept in touch after all of us going our own ways. Out of the seven of us, not one of us still remains at the original school that all brought us together. It's hard to capture the feeling of being with old friends that you spent your work day with. They know you in a different way, they see the professional in me, but also the caring teacher, the tired teacher, the good and the bad. Now we have children and just can't believe where the time goes. Here we are, all eyes open, no! Lots of laughs trying, YES!

To top off this weekend, I stayed up until the wee hours working on presents from a photo website. Now, I need some tooth picks to keep my eyes open, the lack of sleep is definitely catching up with me.

To all my friends that graced me this past week, thank you. You all have an incredible way of warming my heart and keeping me grounded in life. To those that I didn't see because of travel or other plans, next weekend is open ;-)...I'm always here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Load Up The Family, We're Going To Staples!

Earlier than usual my doorbell rang. The rumble of the delivery truck followed. My girls exclaimed, "a package, a package". We're big fans of early morning deliveries around here, unless it's something work related for my husband. But on this particular morning, an envelope was sitting on the landing of our porch.

The girls were disappointed to see me holding an express envelope. I opened the envelope and found a gift card to Staples.

I was anticipating this gift card to arrive at any time now. I was delighted. I had spent the last week, perusing the website, trying to hone in on what I would buy. After visiting the website a couple of times, I will admit, I was surprised by the selection of electronics and variety of items that Staples carries. Every week Staples offers new deals on their website. Cameras, printers, cell phone accessories, GPS, teaching supplies, computers, art supplies, and of course the essential supplies to keep my home running smoothly.

This may make a few of you laugh, but I truly adore office supplies. When I was a teacher, I would create wish lists of items that I would love for my classroom. Of course, like many teachers on pay day I would treat my class to supplies for us to use. But now I'm home with my girls. We spend a lot of time doing crafts and activities. My first grader has truly blossomed as a writer in the past couple of months and she seems to go through notebooks weekly. I love special pens, highlighters, notebooks to keep recipes organized, and photo paper to make quick prints just seem perfect. Truly I could go on and on about my love for all things office supply related! Maybe I was an office manager in a former life.

Knowing how teacher's classroom budgets are shrinking, I sent an email out to my daughter's teacher asking him if he had any special requests for supplies he could use in the classroom. He was thrilled with my offer and did ask for some card stock. They make a lot of books and card stock is essential for the covers of the books and keeping it bound together. I was delighted to fulfill his request.

One of the top items on my list to purchase with my gift card was a new printer. I have a 8 year old HP photosmart printer that works great for everyday forms, recipes, and maps, but I wanted something more. Last year I borrowed a friend's printer that had a scanner as well. I loved it. I think about my files and books of pre-digital photos and wish so often I could have them in iPhoto for projects or just to reminisce. I started looking at All-In-One printers at Staples. I've had luck with my HP, so that helped narrow things down for me. I can't believe how much printers have evolved over the past 8 years! Finally I decided on the HP C4780 for the features and Staples awesome price, it was on sale so I couldn't pass it up. I also picked up some ink, HP makes XL ink cartridges which can handle over double the printing projects, so now I don't have to worry about having my Holiday Cards printed in a lab. I can print my cards right at home!

After shopping online, making informed decisions from home, I even took a trip into Staples to have a look around. Then the following evening after dinner my husband, girls, and I all loaded up into my car for our shopping excursion! If you could only hear the conversation on the way over about the notebooks, erasers, markers, clay, sketch books, and various other items the girls couldn't wait to find.

As you can see, we did quite well on our visit. We even came home with an item I didn't expect for my husband, an item from the as-seen-on-tv section, the Iron Gym. Hey, I asked everyone to pick out something they wanted and that was his choice! I told you Staples has everything you could possibly need and even a few laughable surprises. I'm off to see what they have brewing for their cyber Monday deals, I can guarantee there will be a couple of items I won't be able to pass up.

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Disclosure: As a contributor to Silicon Valley Moms Blogs (Rocky Mountain Moms), I won the gift card to Staples. I was simply asked to write about my shopping experience. I couldn't have been more thrilled to be the lucky winner, thank you SV Moms and Staples for the opportunity!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks...

Colorado pulled out a warm 60 degrees today, a gift to us for Thanksgiving Day. J and I were sitting out back on the patio, watching the girls playing ball, swinging on the swings, and just being kids. Our girls play well together, which we never take for granted. J looks at me and said, "we have a family". It was cute. Sometimes you just have to take a moment and appreciate the wonderful way life unfolds.

When you've spent half of your life with someone, it's easy to just go through the motions.

Today we did the exact opposite. We relished the moments. Even though holidays are an opportunity to be surrounded by friends and family, this year we took a step back. We spent the day together, just the four of us, cooking and hanging out. J is dancing right now with the girls in the living room. If only I could record a moment of the screeching and laughter. Pure joy.

I'm thankful for so many things in my life. I'm thankful for the screeching pouring down the stairs and the puppy we adopted in July, that just plopped down on my feet trying to escape the dance party. I'm thankful for the opportunity to spend some time with our family out of town before the year ends. I'm thankful for friends that call, email, write letters, text, and make time for me in their life. I'm thankful for my husband that is still dancing even though he cooked a fabulous meal and cleaned up to top it off. I'm thankful for holidays so my family can spend time together just simply being present and loving one another (which means I'm out of here!).

I hope you had a wonderful day, full of delicious food and laughter. I definitely didn't forget, I'm thankful to those of you that will read this, very thankful most of you have become friends and I just adore that. Big smiles.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunshine, A Caterpillar, and A Surprise Ending...

One unseasonably warm and sunny afternoon, I was earlier than I anticipated to pick up my daughter from school. The commute is a bit of a crap shoot as far as traffic is concerned, so I tend to air on the cautious side. I decided to drive through Eldorado Canyon and take a walk with my youngest daughter, GL. I've been visiting this same trail for over 15 years. It's one of my favorites, a very soft approach, just a small incline, a hand built bridge that crosses a creek, and plenty of trees to provide a bit of reprieve from the sun.

Early afternoon sun is the favorite part of my day, it's the peak of the heat. Especially in October, afternoon sunshine in Colorado is something that just lures you in. The sun's rays whisper to you like a spoon dripping with honey, soak me up.

Vitamin D deficiency, not in Colorado.

As we were heading off towards the bridge, to hang our feet and watch the falling leaves cascade down the creek, I noticed something on the trail out of the corner of my eye. It was fuzzy and moving slowly. I stopped mid trail, a little cloud of dust dispersed and I looked down to see the most interesting caterpillar. We are gatherers in our family, we find something interesting in nature, we collect it. We have a policy to always return it. GL requested we bring it to share with her big sister. I obliged. But we promised to return it the next day.

Little wiggly, ticklish, squirmy caterpillar joined us on the rest of our hike. Joined us in the car. It escaped a few times and I found it once crawling on the passenger seat. Sj was delighted with our find, she called it Mother Nature's treasure. We discussed the details of it's safe return to the exact location the following day.

When we arrived home, we built "Catty" a proper home in an old jar. We added some rocks, dirt, water, a few branches, leaves, and grass. As always, with any treasure we find the caterpillar spent the night on the girls' night stand.

Although we awoke to a bit of a surprise.

Catty didn't sleep that night, Catty must have been busy all night. Catty literally transformed in a 8 hour period. We woke to Catty, in her new form:
The fibers of the chrysalis were clearly Catty's former feathery self. If the light hits the chrysalis just right you can see the body of Catty, flesh tone like a skinny worm. Gone is her beautiful plume to create her next stage of life.

Enter my dilemma.

Catty was discovered in October. From what I've gathered on lovely websites such as Joyful Butterfly, the chrysalis phase is only a week or two long. Not a month or two. So I now sit here in regret, knowing Catty curled up and died in a Peppermint candy jar from Cost Plus World Market. This may sound silly, but I just don't have the heart to let her go. Instead Catty sits on a bookshelf in our living room.

Yes rather odd, I know.

I just can't help but hold out hope that just some day we'll wake to a beautiful butterfly...

Happy Thanksgiving Break...

Colorado Bento is on holiday! See you next week! Have a Wonderful Holiday!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where Colorado Locals Go: Craving Authentic Country Style Japanese? Domo Restaurant

Domo is a little oasis in a sea of random apartment buildings, a pothole filled street, and empty lots. To top it off it sits on a light rail line. There are excessive signs warning to not leave valuables in the car. I glanced over at my husband as we walked hand in hand with our daughters into Domo. I initially thought, interesting pick husband.

The front door is delightful carved wood, it feels out of place from the neighborhood. Just on the other side, an amazing experience awaits. The dining room chairs were all small stools made from tree trunks, little nooks are carved out in the walls to house Japanese items from hair combs to paper umbrellas. A table at the entry way of the dining room holds large chunks of ancient salt. The girls couldn't have been more intrigued waiting for our meal, I was right there with them. My eyes were on a journey to see what else I could discover.

To top off the lunch, just on the other side of a large door sits another gem that Domo offers, a garden. A small footbridge, shrines, huts, carvings, a prayer wheel. The owner came out of the back kitchen door with a large root of some sort, holding it behind him like it was his tail. My daughters were lured in by his playfulness and wonderful spirit. They ran around, full of adventure, the garden has a magical feeling.
As for the food, just glance at the pictures below. There's no way this food could disappoint. It was fabulous! Each lunch came with three country side dishes and miso soup, brown rice or white rice with barley. Lunch Menu here.

J and I both had Genmai Cha (green tea and sauteed brown rice), served in handmade cups that just had this feeling about them, they fit perfectly into our hands. I couldn't put my cup down.
We started with Gyoza (dumplings), that may have disappeared before we could snap a photo!

I ordered, Nabemono with Kara Miso (chili and Japanese bean paste) and Sake Nabe (salmon and vegetables).

My husband ordered Japanese Curry (with salmon):

My girls shared a huge order of Teriyaki Donburi (chicken):

Domo is one of those places that doesn't just feed your body, it feeds your soul. Definitely worth a visit, we arrived right at the start of lunch service and rumor has it the place gets packed for dinner. There wasn't a free table by the time we left.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Notes From A Tall Woman's Bathtub...

Breaking tradition tonight, I am writing this post from my bathtub. No I don't have a laptop precariously perched on my lap. I have a clipboard, a ball point pen, and some recycled paper precariously perched on the edge of a water disaster. In case you were wondering, yes my tub is also brimming with as-hot-as-I-could-tolerate water and some bubbles. Or maybe lots of bubbles, but not Hollywood bubbles.

Right now I feel a bit like Rev. Run, communicating from my tub at the end of a long day. Except for these few simple facts; I am not a bald man, inspiring the world with quotes from my gorgeous tub in the master suite of my mansion, with some made for tv bubble product that makes bubbles that could rise to the ceiling if need be.

I am using the Body Shop's Spa Wisdom Dreamboat Milk Bath to create my bubbles. It has a wonderful floral fragrance. Years ago I was an At-Home consultant for the Body Shop and I still have random products kicking around. They don't go bad, right?

Recently I've decided immersing myself in hot water for extended periods of time, until I can't take the shriveled up fingertips any longer, is absolutely delightful. Tonight my husband even placed a cup of hot tea and a lit candle on a little step stool next to the tub, which is usually reserved for my girls to reach the sink for proper washing up. But I go through phases with my interest in taking baths. I have an average sized American tub, but I am not an average sized American Woman. I'm 5'11". Which means, I have to decide at any given moment which part of my body I would like submersed in water because my entire body doesn't fit at once.

At one moment I may have my torso in the water, which means knees bent and freezing outside the water. Or I like to stretch my legs way up to above the faucet and let my legs make a nice 45 degree angle. Other times, I place my legs in the tub, in fetal position to warm them up. Or I have legs in torso out. Usually by the end of my bath, I flip like a fish and just rest my head on my folded arms, torso in, naked bottom exposed in the cool air, knees bent with calves and feet up in the air out of the water. Bath time, it's really a juggle. If you are of a shorter stature and fit comfortably in your tub, see what your missing not being oddly-tall?

I could use Rev. Run's tub, big time. Note to self, next house must have real sexy deep soaking tub.

The peace calm and quiet all seem to suddenly come to a halt when my daughters start to inquire as to where I could be. "Mom, MOM! Where are you?" says my oldest daughter. Then giggles follow as two sets of feet come stomping up the stairs. My bathroom pocket door opens, "Ooh, mom is taking a bubble bath," she squeals. My youngest daughter quickly chimes in, "I want in". Before I know it our Black Lab's snout is in for the inquiry to top it off. I'm right at his level, so he tries to sneak in a face lick. Eew.

In the moment I am trying to reclaim the calm, serenity, hot bath escape.

My tea gets quickly put on the floor. My daughter disrobes. The other one hops on the toilet. They are soaking their stinky little toes in my bath faster than lightening. They are grabbing handfuls of bubbles and smearing them on Milo's fur, just giggling with entertainment.

I wish my tub was big enough for me to just simply disappear into the depths of the water, out of sight.

Finally I convince my husband to shoo the girls out, but by now the water is cold and not as soothing as it was just moments before they burst in. I smile as they walk out the door. Even though they sabotaged my bath, I still adore them. Adore how they are so intrigued by fancy bubble bath and me trying to escape for a quick half hour in the confines of our home.

I let the drain out of the tub, but decided to stay in the tub. Have you ever felt the water draining out of the tub over your body? I spread out my finger tips at my side, felt the gravitational pull of the water over my body, legs out of course. What an interesting sensation and way to end a bath.

Very soothing. Very delightful.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Quick Cinnamon Buns (no yeast required!)

Delight your company, this recipe is easy and fool proof!

1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted to grease pan


CINNAMON SUGAR FILLING:
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted

BISCUIT DOUGH:

2-1/2 cups AP flour, plus flour for work surface
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled ***see note

ICING:

2 tablespoons cream cheese softened
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup confectioners sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to the upper middle position- preheat to 425. Pour 1 tablespoon of melted butter into a 9-inch non stick cake pan, brush to coat pan.

2. For Cinnamon Sugar Filling:
Combine sugars, spices, and salt in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the melted butter and stir with a fork until the mixture resembles wet sand, set aside.

3. For the Biscuit Dough:
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of melted butter in a measuring cup or small bowl. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients ad stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed (the dough will look very shaggy), about 30 seconds. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no longer shaggy.

4. Pat the dough with your hands into a 9 x 12 rectangle. Brush the dough with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Sprinkle evenly the filling, leaving a 1/2 inch border of plain dough around the edges. Starting on the long side of the dough, roll the dough, pressing lightly, to form a tight log. Pinch the seam to seal. Roll the log seam-side down and cut it evenly into 8 pieces. Place 1 roll in the center and the remaining 7 rolls around the perimeter of the pan. Brush with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

5. Bake until the edges of the buns are golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes. Use an offset metal spatula to loosen the buns from the pan. Wearing oven mitts, place a large plate over the pan and invert the buns onto the plate. Place a cooling rack over the plate and invert the buns onto the rack. Cool about 5 minutes before icing.

6. For the Icing and to finish the buns:
While the buns are cooling, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, for easy clean up. set the rack with the buns on the baking sheet. Whisk the cream cheese, butter milk in a bowl until thick and smooth (mixture will look like cottage cheese at first). Sift the confectioners sugar over the mixture, whisk until a smooth glaze forms, about 30 seconds. Spoon the glaze over the buns, serve immediately.

Denise's Notes
*** I melted the 6 tablespoons of butter separately as 3 ramekins of 2 tablespoons each because that's how it's spread out through the recipe. You don't actually add 6 tablespoons at once to the dough.

*** I didn't have buttermilk. I simply added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the milk, you can also use vinegar. It's the acid that is needed for the dough.

*** I maybe used about 1/3 of the icing mixture and it tasted great.

*** I cut the buns into more like 16 pieces, so the buns weren't huge. It made cute ones that were a manageable size. If you do this cooking time will be closer to 14-15 minutes so keep an eye on it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Woah! What Happened Here?

Let me start off with, I've been using the blogger "dots" template since I started this blog. It gets the job done. I don't pull up my blog and think, wow gorgeous, but I am okay with that. I really love to play around with HTML. Right now I don't want to dramatically switch up my blog until I make the switch to my own domain (coming soon, I hope). Thanks to Blogger Tips and Tricks, I tweaked my stock template to a 3 column design. Now while I know it's best to have your posts to the left side for SEO and all that blah, blah, blah, I kept my posts in the middle. It just looked better that way.

One thing at a time really.

Then I had to resize my header, with out it being gargantuan! Which it has been in the past. I am hoping these quick HTML fixes will quell my desire to complete change my domain and blogging platform, until the new year.

Hope you like it!

Jumpstart Escape From Adventure Island Wii Game & Fantastic Giveaway!

Jumpstart has come out with a new Wii game, called Escape From Adventure Island! I am a huge fan of Jumpstart products. My six year old daughter can manage her way around most Wii games fairly well, but Jumpstart games she can master. Quite often even with some of the games geared for her age, she runs into frustration easily. While realistically many game manufactures may envision parents sitting down and playing the game together with their kids, I like games that my daughter feels comfortable with on her own. Jumpstart Wii games always allow my daughter that independence.

Escape From Adventure Island of course comes with my daughter's two favorite activities, the fashion show and the house design program. As with most games, you can switch up your clothes, skin color, hair, outfits on your self created "Jumpee". With Adventure Island there is actually a fashion show stage! Escape From Adventure Island allows my daughter to learn while playing and I have to admit having so much fun she doesn't even realize that she's practicing math, spelling, or fine motor skills!

A couple of my favorite features:

Rubble Trouble: which contains math lessons, all while using the remote in a horizontal position to control the movement of your Jumpee in a little ball. There are also Punk Punks which you can squash very easily!

Egg Push/Pearl Push: are two games that allow you to roll spheres back into their resting place. What I really like about this game is that my daughter uses the control stick in her left hand while using the remote to flick the object back in place with her right hand. Using both hands comfortably is a great skill!

This game was sent to us from Jumpstart to preview and arrived on our doorstep during a snow day from school! It couldn't have been more perfect timing. What's really wonderful about the Jumpstart design for Wii is that the possibilities are endless. There are water adventures, caverns, coves, jumping, jet packs for flying, slides that are all just so much fun. There are helpers in the game, that talk to the player to help them along their adventure giving clues and tips. Best of all younger children can develop Wii based skills and control with the remote that will enhance their Wii experience as they grow with it. That to me is really important. As a parent there is nothing worse then buying a game that just leads to frustration and boredom. If you could hear my daughter giggling right now, you wouldn't hesitate to buy this game.

Thank you Jumpstart for keeping our kids best interests in mind.
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Jumpstart is having an incredible giveaway right now on their blog! 50 copies of Escape From Island Adventure and 3 Grand Prize packages are all available just by leaving a comment! Good Luck! Enter here!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Great Interview Experiment, Meet Motherhood in NYC!

Thanks to twitter, I have come to know many bloggers I read in a different way. Twitter allows a glimpse into small moments, which one may consider more intimate because an update typically hasn't been mulled over and edited like a regular blog post. Two writers that I really enjoy for their wit and sense of humor on twitter are Neilochka and MarinkaNYC.

Neil who writes, Citizen Of The Month, has created the Great Interview Experiment on his blog and this is my first year participating. Lucky for me, I was given Marinka aka Motherhood in NYC to interview.

Let the interview begin, for the record this is my first blog interview ever. I liked it, in a Chelsea Handler, not Barbara Walters kind of way...

Denise: I personally adore your sense of humor and always find myself laughing when I read your posts. Can you give us insight into how to find the humor in everyday situations?

Marinka: No, I'm sorry, that's a trade secret. But I think what I find humorous is exaggeration. My husband calls it "hysterical extrapolation". I just asked him about it and he said "you take one small thing and blow it up way out of proportion." Which is a complete lie and I've never ever done that in my life. Except I do it every day.

Denise: I'm just going to assume you eat cupcakes. My big burning question for you is Billy's Cupcakes or Magnolias? And what's your favorite flavor?

Marinka: I have never tasted Billy's. Because cupcakes are girls. Also, like a true New Yorker, I think that Magnolia is totally overrated. My favorite is the Cupcake Cafe, which has its main store on 9th Avenue, near the Port Authority and another spot at The Books of Wonder bookstore. Really, those cupcakes are like works of art. And there's nothing more delicious than art. My favorite flavor, like any normal person's, is chocolate with chocolate icing.

Denise: Can we talk about your avatar? While I adore the photo of your neck and beautifully coiffed hair, are you ever going to turn around?

Marinka: That photo was taken on my wedding day. After my second wedding I'll turn around.

Denise: Three bloggers that come to mind, that we all should have in our reader?

Marinka: insert obligatory there are too many blogs to mention here. But the ones that I've been reading since I discovered blogging and consistently love are Classy Chaos, Mamabird Diaries, The Bloggess and Queen of Shake Shake. Yes, I know that that's four. I'm having a four for the price of three visit.

Denise:If I came to the city for a visit and asked you to hang out, would you meet me and where would you take me?

Marinka: What, suddenly I have to take you around?
I love The Cowgirl Hall of Fame ( a restaurant) and then The Duplex, a piano bar. I went there with Vodka Mom and Comedy Goddess and Smart Ass Mom last year and it was so much fun.


Denise: Husbandrinka calls and tells you to pack your bags for the weekend because he's planned a getaway. Where did you think he'd take you on a whim? And what essential items would you pack?

Marinka: My Vivienne Tam mini computer, my Swiffer duster, oh. But really, a computer, my cell phone and charger and a book. Because I will never again go anywhere without a book. Also maybe a pair of jeans and a sweater. The last time that Husbandrinka and I went on a weekend getaway, we went to Quebec City, so that's what I'm envisioning for this getaway.

Denise: Last year you joked that you blog because you don't have the time, energy, or patience for writing a book. A year later and you're writing a book. How's that going, is it what you envisioned writing a book would be like?

Marinka: I started working on my MS (ahem) just last week. I keep emailing everyone I know things like "I'm working on my MS. I'm lonely!" I'm pretty sure that they are all in the process of blocking my email address. But it's going pretty well. Help me.

Denise: Do you like feet?

Marinka: The only body part that I hate more than feet is the belly button. Please don't mention feet again.

Denise: What's your favorite part of twitter, blogging, or your online life?

Marinka: The instant gratification. People respond, I get to interact with them, all without putting on makeup.

Denise: Do you think Brooklyn is really far away and do you hate going uptown?

Marinka: I do think that Brooklyn is far and I don't like going uptown.

Denise: Have you been to Colorado and what's the first thing that comes to mind when you read the word, Colorado?

Marinka: I've never been to Colorado and the first thing I think about is John Denver.

Denise: How do you feel about Bloomberg spending $100,000,000 on his mayoral campaign?

Marinka: It's his money, so I wasn't outraged. Except for that part of it that he spent having people call my house nonstop to ask if I'd be voting for him. Which I didn't.

Denise: Share with us something you love to do for yourself, that makes you happy?

Marinka: I get a massage every month. It's with a woman who does body work and she helped me a lot with my TMJ and back pain, so I call her it my physical therapy. It's a complete luxury and I love it. 

I would just like to end with a thank you to Marinka. She lives in an area of NYC that I spent time in last fall visiting an old friend, so I had fun focusing questions on her neighborhood. People who live in the West Village have an interesting psyche and Marinka solidifies my theory! I hope you take a moment to check out her blog, if you are the only person in the blogosphere that isn't reading her yet!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday, Maddie...


Today is the day, a girl with the cheeriest smile and radiating blue eyes should have celebrated her 2nd birthday.

Today is the day, I will think about Heather and Mike incessantly.

Today is the day Maddie would be two, if she wasn't a star in the night sky watching over her family...

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl.

Please spread your love at Heather and Mike's websites today, they can use some loving. Writing about Maddie today? Please link up with AMomTwoBoys!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Meet Big Green Couch...

This post is dedicated to my couch, my first real couch, that was purchased from the one and only American Furniture Warehouse. If you live in Colorado, you know AFW very well. If you don't, well just count your blessings. The owner Jake Jabs is a very charismatic man who likes wild animals to accompany him in a stream of never ending television commercials. But back to my couch. It as purchased seven years ago when we moved into our new home, our first home. When we purchased the couch, we went the route of AFW because it was affordable. It took hours to find something that had simple lines and plain fabrics.

Those simple lines in a sea of polyester southwest printed recliner lounging sectionals (as Jake ironically is modeling above), was a breath of fresh air. Heck, we even bought a matching oversized chair and ottoman to go with it. The sky was the limit at AFW. But let me end the wait, I'd like you to meet Big Green Couch.
Big green couch today is the kind that you almost sink to the floor in and really want to ask for an extra hand to help you get up from. But the beauty of big green couch is that the covers are machine washable, even if the washing over the last seven years makes those cushion covers no longer match the rest of the sofa. Washable covers are essential to me with the girls and the dog (who is NOT allowed on our furniture). Take for example Sunday, GL puts her smoothie on the arm of big green couch and big black dog milo's tail comes sauntering by and knocks the smoothie off the arm of the chair. Not onto the floor, but rather onto the couch, spilling on the cushions and the inside arm of the couch. Although it was a gigantic blueberry smoothie mess, it wasn't that big of a deal simply because it was big green couch. I mean really how could I get upset at the beast that's seen much worse?

Most simply stated, I'm a bit over big green couch. It's been such a good investment over the years. It has served my family well. But I can't help but peruse websites for a new couch. For big green couch's replacement. If someone said, ok Denise your time has come, go pick out whatever you want. This is what I would choose:Crate and Barrel's Canterbury Sofa. I'm at the phase in my life when I am not trying to find a couch to settle on, out of a warehouse of couches that aren't even close to my style or aesthetic. I want a beautiful couch, with some round lines. I'm not a huge fan of hard square edges. That's why the Canterbury is right up my alley. Oh and the lack of cushions in the back is even better. I've been jaded by my AFW big green couch and the filling of the back cushions has become all worn out and so they stick out into half of the seat cushions, which really annoys me. And to top off the beautiful look of Canterbury, it's eco-friendly. Click on the link for details.

I don't think it's time yet to commit to Canterbury, even though I find it affordable. I am instantly brought back to Sunday and the smoothie incident and if that happened around Canterbury, I think I would have cried and lost it. Gasp at the thought. Maybe I'll keep big green couch around until the IKEA opens up in Denver. Then invest in a reasonably priced sofa that can get me through the last of the sticky fingers, I spill everything, toddler years.

Then, just then, I hope Crate and Barrel still makes Canterbury because I can see it fitting right in my living room.

photo source

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dynasty...

Here we are yesterday at Warren Miller's Dynasty. The 60th year of ski movie magic.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Looking Back At Our Family Tradition: Warren Miller Style

When I joke about my husband chasing snow, it's really not a joke. He actually does scour the ends of the earth searching for the best and freshest snow to capture on film, every year. Oh and when I say FILM, I mean real 16MM Kodak Film. He is an integral part of making the annual feature length ski movie for Warren Miller Entertainment. The long and short of it is, he started out as an intern over a decade ago and let's just say he's climbed the ladder over the years. The tradition has always been to have a Friends and Family show at the Boulder Theater on a Saturday afternoon. The friends that have joined us have come and gone, some have stayed, and our family has grown. I always look forward to seeing the familiar faces at the Friends and Family show. To my friends who make it out, thank you it means the world to us.

I was just looking back at the photos and thought I would share. 

Last year 2008, Warren Miller's Children of Winter. This photo was randomly taken by a real photographer as you will easily see by the ones following.
These photos, are from 2007. Warren Miller's Playground. The perfect photo doesn't always happen on the first shot, especially wrangling the three of us:

Voile! Only if it was in focus....
Warren Miller's Off The Grid, circa 2006 or a 8 month pregnant me. Ugh. 
The year was 2005, Warren Miller's Higher Ground:
This was Sj's second Warren Miller movie, Impact. 2004. 
I don't think we got a shot in 2003, as I had a month old baby and we left at intermission. I was a nervous wreck taking my first born out into the crowds. I just remember her screaming half the car ride home as we were stuck in traffic from a CU Football game....

Oh the memories.. Today we'll grab a new family photo and add another year to memory book!