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!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Confession: It's Gone Too Far, This Mom Needs A Vacuum

I was sadly disappointed this morning when my girls woke me from a sound sleep. I immediately opened my eyes and felt grumpy. I wasn't upset because my girls woke me too early, I was well rested. The problem? I was in the middle of a dream, a wonderful dream. Believe it or not, it wasn't a beautiful dream involving anyone from England.

Rather, this dream involved my new vacuum. I was practically singing, heck there may have even been birds chirping, as I was trying out my new vacuum on my area rug. I recall joyfully listening to the sound of things being sucked up, proving how inferior my old vacuum was. I was so impressed by the power of my new home cleaning device. It was like a Dyson, but smaller. Maybe Dyson has a mini-version in the works? It had special settings for hard wood floors. It had an attachment with a dog brush on it, it sucked up the hair as you groomed. It barely made any noise, so Milo just sat delighted at his massage. Yes, it truly was a dream. 

Now I sit here thinking, my goodness I've lost my mind. Dreaming of new vacuum cleaners. And even worse, feeling disappointed when I awoke to realize I was dreaming. Maybe it's my fault, I've had vacuums on the brain. The dog hair these days is driving me bonkers and I even asked my friends on Twitter what they use:
Santa if you're out there... This may be a sign. The 10 year old Hoover Wind Tunnel clearly has seen better days. I already have visions in my head of saying goodbye to this old clunker... And quite frankly, I'd like to resume dreaming about things that truly one would consider to be a fantasy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dads Can Bento, Too?

Our morning bento routine, usually skips my husband. A couple days a week, he does pack our daughter's lunch. But usually his style is more, wax bags thrown in the lunch box. He's not really into the art of getting everything to fit pretty in the bento. BTW, may I add, I am almost embarrassed publishing these posts. I've recently become enamored with some bento geniuses and I feel, well quite amateur. But it's me, maybe we'll have the honor of one day looking back at my start, to see how far I've come. That's what I am telling myself.

With that said, I am super proud of my husband's attempt this morning! Almond butter and jelly sandwich, Cabot vintage cheddar cheese and Back To Nature Crackers, a chopped up kiwi, and a little chocolate tucked in the side. I love it and I loved it even more that I didn't have to make it. Just kidding, but it is nice to have a break sometimes.

In the mean time, I was packing snack for the class instead. Chopping ten kiwis and two pounds of strawberries.

Thursday 13: Ways Bloomberg Could've Spent the 100 Million Dollars...

Michael Bloomberg was re-elected for a third term as Mayor of NYC. The news headlines touted he spent 100 MILLION DOLLARS of his own money to finance his campaign. 100 MILLION DOLLARS. Say that again. Seems like a lot of dough to blow on an election. Many people mentioned the perk of using your own money is that no one bought him out by financing his campaign for their advancement.

But all I could think about is the state of our economy and how 100 MILLION DOLLARS would go a long way to help in so many different ways. Before I get to my list of ideas, I'd like to state some little facts I learned about Bloomberg when researching for this post.

Michael Bloomberg in 2008 made the top ten list of the wealthiest Americans. His place, eighth. Net worth, 16 BILLION dollars. So really 100 MILLION DOLLARS is like me going out and spending a thousand bucks. Gulp. In Bloomberg's defense, he is a well known philanthropist. He's given John Hopkins University 300 MILLION DOLLARS from 1996-2002. He's given away hundreds of millions of dollars to numerous organizations from small to big. In 2007, he contributed 205 MILLION DOLLARS to charity. I guess I can't really be down on him, he is doing good.

But what are some ways he could've spent 100 MILLION DOLLARS, other than chasing a third term as Mayor?

1. According to H2OAfrica a donation of $25 would provide safe drinking water to one person for life. Aka, 100 MILLION DOLLARS would provide 4,000,000 people with clean drinking water for life. Currently it is estimated 1.1 Billion people lack access to clean water around the world.

2. For $36.71 in New York City you can feed a family of 6 for Thanksgiving, with a donation to Box of Love. That would purchase approximately 2,777,777 boxes or feed 16,666,666 people. Their goal is to reach 7,000 families this year. Bloomberg could have done that for a mere, $259,000.

3. On October 30, there was a reported 8,930 families with children that were homeless in NYC. 37, 562 total. You don't need math to know even a mere 1,000,000 dollars could change homelessness for many of those people.

4. Students living in poverty are more than likely attending an underfunded school. On average schools in poor neighborhoods are receiving $1,500 less PER PUPIL compared to wealthier schools. Being a teacher, I know it's those underfunded schools that need at least $1,500 more per pupil than the average school. Bloomberg's money could have helped about 67,000 students that attended underfunded schools.

5. Let's just say the average cost of a college education is $100,000 dollars. Bloomberg could have paved the way for 1,000 kids to go to college, with out debt, living the American dream.

6. It is estimated that at least 100,000 people are still displaced from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The population was 450,000 before the storm and numbers are just hovering around 309,000 now. This area still needs help. I am sure 100 MILLION DOLLARS would make a difference.

7. According to Feeding America a $1 donation provides 9 pounds of food to hungry American men, women, and children. Can you say, hello 900 MILLION pounds of food? Incredible.

8. Donations across the country are down at charitable organizations in general. Heck pick out of a hat, 1,000 charities and knock their socks off with a $100,000 donation each. I am sure they would be forever indebted and I can't imagine how many lives that would in turn touch.

9. I wouldn't mind a small personal donation of like $1,000,000 it would certainly take the pressure off I've been feeling financially. Just think he'd still have $15 BILLION 999 MILLION to play around with.

10. 47 million Americans were without health insurance last year and that number is expected to rise to around 57-60 million by the end of next year. I am sure 100 MILLION DOLLARS could help change those numbers in a heart beat.

11. I can only imagine what charitable research organizations would do with 100 MILLION DOLLARS, say Livestrong, Breast Cancer, Parkinson's, Spinal Cord Injuries, March of Dimes, on and on... The world may be a different place.

12. A micro loan to change a persons life can be a donation as small as $700-$800 in a developing nation and approximately $5,000 in the United States. The money is given as a gift to help them start a business and fulfill a lifelong dream. Once again, 100 MILLION, would give many micro loans. Here's a link to a site that provides micro loans to women who are survivors of war to rebuild their lives. Women for Women.

13. I didn't even scratch the surface on animal saving charities, green charities for research and development on new technologies to stop our foreign oil dependence, charities to save endangered species and disappearing rainforests. The list would go on and on.

Yes, in reality New York City has a Mayor for a third term. But could you think of another way 100 MILLION DOLLARS could have changed the world?


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Circa 1979: Once A Yankee Fan, Always a Yankee Fan

The year was 1979. Gosh and to think, some of you weren't even born yet. It wasn't a memorable year for the Yankees, from what online stats tell me they finished fourth in the American League. But looking back at the roster, the names are forever imprinted in my mind. 

Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph

Bucky Dent, Lou Pinella, Reggie Jackson

It was the also year Thurmon Munson, the Yankees catcher, died in a small plane crash. 

Growing up in New York with three older brothers, I knew the time would come when I would don the Yankees Uniform. Oh how I waited in anticipation to put on the pin stripes. As you can see from my stick figure, I am sure that uniform would have still fit me well into the mid-80's. Looking back on the photo, my hair isn't too different today, I just have to pay for that color now. 

My father is "the" Yankee fan of the family, with of course my brothers following in his footsteps. If there was a soundtrack to my life, I swear it would have a Yankees' baseball game being broadcast in the background. When the Yankees weren't playing, we were watching my brothers play baseball at the local Babe Ruth Fields. Summer after summer, I spent many days sitting in the back of my father's Pontiac Station wagon watching them play. I'd always be begging my mother for spare change to buy a baseball shaped gum ball or a freezer pop when the New York humidity would get to me. Baseball was the essence of my childhood. 

I will be the first to admit, I rarely watch a regular season game. Occasionally I'll flip through and watch an inning or two, but the games are so darn long. I just don't have the patience or time to watch 81 regular season games. Or however many there are, which I know is a lot. But in my heart I'll always be a Yankee fan. Once a Yankee fan, always a Yankee fan in my book. 

As for the Colorado Rockies, it's fun to go to a game every season. I love taking the girls, sitting down watching a game, eating all the food that comes along with the tradition of a live game. But i'll always wish the Yankees played just twenty minutes from my home. 

As for tonight's game, well I can only hope the Yankees wrap up the series. I'll be rooting for the Yankees of course. The pinstripes may be gone, but the feeling never really leaves. 

Related post, my year playing t-ball in a boy's league: Odd Girl Out



Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Peppercorn in Boulder: Bento Selection

I stopped into Peppercorn on Pearl Street just a week ago to see what their current bento selection was. Here's a quick photo I took. It's kind of random, they were moving all their stock around on the floor and their bentos were actually on the floor! They are all from Japan and the price was about $22-$26 dollars each. I also picked up some Japanese cutters while I was there, it was a six pack of flowers and random shapes that are a bit sturdier then a regular cookie cutter. They have a thicker edge where you press down, to easily cut through harder vegetables and foods.



I thought maybe this would help some of you and save you the trip or encourage you to visit! The selection does have a nice variety that includes options for boys (which are harder to come by). This is where I purchased our panda bento, but they aren't currently stocking any. Click on photo to enlarge!

To Be Quite Honest, Part 2

Recently I was tagged by Psych Mamma who has come out of hibernation on her blog. Maybe it's her passion about vaccines and H1N1 or maybe she just misses all the fun! Stop by and welcome her back. 

I've written 10 Honest Things about me, back in July, but I'm giving it another shot. There must be ten more honest things inside of me dying to come out. 

The Honest Scrap award is given by other bloggers who consider a blog’s content or design to be brilliant. The awardees must then post ten honest things about themselves and pass the award on to other bloggers who fit the bill – in other words, whose blog is brilliant.

1. My words are like my voice. I write how I would speak. I find no thrill in trying to be something I am not and I am just fine with my little corner of the blogosphere, make up or no make up.

2. Sometimes when I am in the thick of a mountain of laundry, I enjoy the break of doing a load of towels. Folding all rectangles into neat squares is somewhat refreshing to me. I know, very odd. Oh and on a related note, when X amount of pairs of socks go into the washer and come out of the dryer, all matching, I am elated.

3. Even though I am lured into wanting bigger and better things, I am not willing to sacrifice the time raising my girls for a paycheck. Someday, I will have exactly what I want.

4. I still feel like there is something missing. I grapple with how to make myself feel more complete. Maybe I am wanting something that doesn't exist. Or maybe I'm too good at accepting, it is what it is???

5. I've been trying to cut down the time I spend on Facebook. Sometimes I hate how it makes me feel, like I'm missing something or the only one home on a Friday night. Less time focusing on what is not and more time focusing on the positive. Easier said then done, but I am trying.

6. I don't regret getting a dog, but I wish we waited to get a labradoodle. The hair from our black lab is putting me over the edge and we've only had him a few months. I feel like I sweep and five minutes later all the hair is back. I just invested in a FurBuster (brush) and I am hoping it helps ease some of my woes.

7. I love the way my daughters get along, play together, kiss and hug before Sj goes off to school every morning. Everything isn't all rainbows and roses, but they truly have a beautiful connection 95% of the time. It's one of the things that makes me most proud as a mother.

8. My father recently had surgery and I realized how much I wished we lived closer to one another. It was the worst feeling not being able to drop a dinner by or stop by for a few hours to give my mother a break. At least I was able to take some stress off with help from one of my favorite local businesses , that was kind enough to deliver a food order for me!

9. I've decided to commit to NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month)! What in the world was I thinking? Hey blog friends, got another MeMe, I'm so in. Sign me up, we all need the fluff days.

10. I love shoveling snow. I typically even shovel both of my neighbors sidewalks and walkways. It makes me very reminiscent of my childhood. Probably one of my most favorite ways to burn calories. Once again, I agree, very odd.
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I'm not tagging anyone, as I did in July. But if you need or want to get honest and write your own list, please grab the badge and post away! I'd love to read your list. Honesty is refreshing. 

Monday, November 2, 2009

Realization From Halloween Night

Even though I posted about teachable moments yesterday, I had already written a post about the impact the senior citizens in my neighborhood had on me Halloween night. I am over at Rocky Mountain Moms Blog today, with the original post if you care to check it out, Remembering Our Seniors On Halloween Night

Hot Bento: Quick & Easy Pantry Lunch; Mac N Cheese, Edamame, Canned Pears

I will be the first to admit, that about once a week I don't have it in me to pack a beautiful fresh lunch. Some mornings, I need quick go-to items from my pantry to help me with lunch duty. Typically it's because I am out of fresh fruit or bread, turkey or almond butter. Usually there is an essential component missing from our refrigerator. So, I always make sure I have emergency pantry items on hand, for backup. 
I don't mind making macaroni and cheese in the morning, it just takes about ten minutes. I buy Annie's by the case at Costco, so I always have mac 'n cheese on hand. While the pasta is cooking I can prepare the items to accompany my daugher's mac 'n cheese. Recently we tried edamame in her lunch, I only had the version in the shell (from the freezer section), so I shelled some, put it on tooth picks, and then tossed in a few extra in their shells. She loves to eat edamame out of the shell, so that was a treat to her! In the second cup, I had some canned pears, chopped it up and that's it!
Thank goodness for those pantry lunches, on a day when I am out of items. Faster than I know it, we are good to go!  What are some items you stock in your pantry that you keep on hand as your morning emergency go-to's??? 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween, So Many Teachable Moments!

Last night under the glow of the full moon, we set out Trick or Treating. I'd have to put myself in the fan of Halloween category. People really go either way with this holiday, but to be quite honest I think it's fun. As we went from house to house, I had a realization about the importance of Halloween in my neighborhood in particular, as we have many senior citizens living close by. It was really an opportunity for them to feel like a part of the community as a whole, not just looking at the world from behind their blinds. We took an extra moment or two to converse with many neighbors that live just a few blocks away, that live all by themselves. I could see by the smiles on their faces how delighted Halloween made them. 

Even though we aren't much into junk food in my house, we certainly do love chocolate. Many nights after dinner, we all share a square of dark chocolate as our post-dinner dessert, if I haven't baked anything. 

Last night, after arriving home from Trick or Treating, Sj dumped out her bag full of loot! She's always loved to line up all of her candy and sort them into piles. This year I took the sorting one step further. We placed all the candy into groups and then she recorded the number and type of candy in her math journal. We then turned all the data into a graph! 

It was fun to see how many types of candy she received with a total of 152 pieces! 

I'd just like to end with, if you aren't that into Halloween, think about the moment. The moment to reach out to others that you may never have the opportunity to meet. A person that may just live a few blocks away, but spends the majority of their time alone. Think about how happy they are when they see our children's smiling and excited faces. How a simple conversation may just be the highlight of their week!