Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday Tips: Girls Night, Games, Dinner, and a Movie.The Netflix and Wii Partnership!

Last month, I hosted some friends for a little gathering as part of my involvement as a Nintendo Ambassador. Let me be the first to say, I was over the moon about the new partnership between Netflix and Wii a few weeks prior to my party. Why was I so excited? In our home, we don't have fancy cable. We've never owned a DVR box. As of April, our basic cable was seriously downgraded, we currently have about 15 channels and most of them are the cbs/nbc/abc in regular or high definition, so technically we have about 6 channels. But I am okay with it because television is a major distraction for me and there is a laundry list of things I could be doing with my time instead of watching television. So less channels, less distractions.

With our decreased cable options, J and I would find ourselves running out to the .99 cent rental box at the grocery store or to a dvd rental chain. The second option became very pricey, every time we walked in the door we seemed to drop $12 bucks and that doesn't even count late fees. We always have late fees. We even had late fees at the rental box, so a .99 cent nightly rental was always $2 or $3 bucks. The other part of our problem was selection, we like a wide variety of films, not just the latest Hollywood blockbuster. We decided to give Netflix a try again. We were members for years, but gave it up after having the girls. Movie watching at night just didn't happen, instead I would fall asleep in about 10 minutes after popping the movie in. Now, we are in a different place and I actually stay up most nights past 9pm.

Then I learned about Netflix instant streaming via the Wii.

Aaah! Oh to my delight, Netflix streaming. It was so technically advanced for us, the consumers of very basic cable and a vcr in our bedroom tv to record shows I would miss. Don't laugh at me, I did use the timer, that's technically advanced, right? When you're a member of Netflix you can choose a variety of membership levels. Any level above the most basic allows you unlimited streaming via your instant queue and two or three dvds via mail at at time!

Here's the deal, the Netflix and Wii communicate via a wireless internet connection. Simply set up a instant streaming queue and then that list becomes available to you when you put the Netflix disc in the Wii. Now can I share a little secret, I love this feature because I no longer feel the pressure to get 20 dvds a month in the mail to make sure I am maximizing my membership. Yes, I am that person.

Bonus features I've come to love streaming the Netflix on my Wii:
  • NO commercials for our impressionable daughters to watch.
  • TOTAL control over what my daughters watch, I put movies/shows in the instant queue.
  • The British television series, SKINS. (Hello can't wait for season 3!!!)
  • Pause shows or movies and pick up where you left off with the click of a button!
  • Variety, not in the mood for the action adventure movie that came in the mail, watch a sappy romantic comedy instead, in an instant.
  • Cost, no more late fees, set fee every month, we pay $12.99 for 2 dvds by mail at a time and unlimited streaming.
  • Premium cable shows available to stream, so I don't feel left out of conversation at playgroup anymore!
  • I'm not mindless surfing the television, I watch what I intentionally wanted to see because I put it in my queue.
  • Lots of alternative movies and PBS documentaries. Yes, I'm geeky like that.

Back to girls night! I ordered in some pizzas, Italian sodas, and salad. My girlfriends came by with their significant others and their children. We laughed, played games on the Wii, and I showed them all the latest tips and tricks about how to set up an instant queue and even download games to play instantly on the Wii. The games are via the internet connection and are available on the WiiWare shopping channel. As you can see from the very top photo, I had to make my girlfriends play a little Super Mario Brothers with me. I promised them I would keep our serious gaming faces off of my blog, but boy did the room heat up with competition.

Then, the husbands and kids disappeared and the girls settled in to watch some movies. I of course, had to share with them Skins. I have absolutely fallen for this British series. I am probably too old to be enjoying Skins as much as I do, but oh well I really like it.

The next day I received phone calls from all of my friends sharing with me what a great time they had. I had a fabulous time too. Often we have girls night out on the town, drinks and dinner, and a movie, we drop a bunch of money and call it a night. It was nice to have a friends over and still capture that experience of dinner and a movie, but in the comfort of home.

Disclosure, As a part of my ongoing involvement with the Nintendo Ambassador campaign I received a free 3 month subscription to Netflix (I was already a paying member), food to host the party, a points card to hand out to friends who attended the party so they could download Wii games, popcorn to make movie watching complete, and a FLIP HD camera to shoot some of the live action.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I'm Stepping Back From Facebook

I adore the connections I've made and rekindled via Facebook. I love being able to hop on the computer and see what my friends are up to. The photos are great, glimpses into fun summertime trips, watching babies or puppies grow up, and just everyday moments. But lately Facebook has been bothering me, sort of rubbing me the wrong way. I almost feel like Facebook has become a replacement for a phone call or a letter that once arrived in my mailbox every few weeks. A couple of times in conversation lately I received the fast jump to conclusion, "didn't you see my facebook update". Most of the time I missed it. Then I start feeling like shit because I didn't realize that I missed something big in a friend's life because I missed a status update. Baby on the way, engagement, a surprise litter of kittens, a new home improvement, those things once meant reaching out in a more personal way than a blast to 500 of your closest friends.


I'm not giving up Facebook, I will reiterate it's a good thing, it's always felt that way to me. I'm just stepping back, focusing on reconnecting the way I once did for play dates, a night out, maybe a hike/walk, or a phone call to a friend that lives out of town. I'm even going to work towards my goal of mailing two letters a week, to be different and to let those in my life know I'm thinking about them.

Connecting is always good, but be forewarned I may be missing a status update. I promise, I'm always just a phone call away.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tiffin Lunch Box: Trip To The Zoo!

Last week we met some friends at the Zoo. With the hot days, we like going in the morning, packing a lunch, and leaving shortly after. I love my Tiffin Box for packing a big lunch in one container.

We enjoyed some whole wheat tortilla quesadillas with sharp cheddar, cheddar bunnies, graham bunnies, plain crackers, and watermelon.

Carrying the weight of transition on a little faith and a dream...

I'm feeling the weight of the transition that is looming on my shoulders. Each step forward feels like a leap to me. Selling our home and moving on is exciting and scary rolled into one big ride. Even though my memories won't fade into the abyss when I leave our home, I know a part of me clings onto the notion that being here makes them more real.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about how the move is going to affect my life beyond location. I wonder if it's the opportunity to let those that fail to be present in my life, just slip away. Does the location of my home correlate to the presence in someone's life? Currently proximity has no affect on how busy everyone seems to be, ah summertime. Or does a few extra miles mean just that, ten more minutes in the car, meet ups in a central spot, rather than around the corner? As the saying goes, time will tell.

The house hunting, has been interesting. We've been inside over a dozen homes in the part of town we are most interested in. We are moving ten miles away, but the real estate markets are dramatically different. The area we are going to has a very solid real estate market and even though we are doubling our home value, it feels as if we are starting over. The homes we are looking at for the most part are fixer uppers. They are all "quirky" properties, with things like a toilet in the closet open to the bedroom or sit adjacent to a busy street. The term non-conforming has become our real estate mantra. Non conforming bedrooms, non conforming addition. Breathe in open mind, breathe out non conforming. It's just one more step closer to our dream home, if we play our cards right this home may one day be transformed into our dream home. That notion alone is enticing. Walking my girls to school, is very enticing. Grocery shopping in the town I live in sounds awesome. Hitting a hiking trail in about five minutes that nestles mountains which nurture my soul is a dream come true. Having my husband pop in for lunch or spend less than 15 minutes on his commute via bicycle rather than at least 30 minutes in the car is fantabulous!

My faith and positive attitude is that it is time to move on. In my heart, I am ready for a change. I truly believe the stars will align and our house will sell, we'll find a new home that fits our needs even if it may be a work in progress. When I look out towards the mountains, I see my future waiting.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday Tips: Good Bye Plastic Sandwich Bags!

For the record, I do buy ziploc bags. We try to use them sparingly and I am quite fond of this alternative, Natural Value Wax Bags, I've been using for years. I purchase these bags at Whole Foods ($2.99 for 60ct) and use them all the time for snacks on the go. They are sandwich size, so perfect for most of the girls' needs. The bags do not seal closed so I only use them for snacks such as cheddar bunnies, puffs, or fruit. They are easily overlooked in the grocery store, so keep your eyes peeled for them!

I've also found them online, if you don't have a Whole Foods close by.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Running, Walking, Sprinting...

It seems as if I've been down this road before. Fitness, working out, running, exercising. I'm not exactly sure where the change occurs, but at some point there's defeat and I just stop working out. I almost feel like someone in recovery, telling myself this time will be different. Take each day as it comes and before I know it, maybe six months or a year will pass and I will have stayed with it. Whenever I update on twitter about running, I always add the hashtag, #trying. Really that's all I can do is try. I must add, I am certainly trying. I've gone from couch to running in just a few short weeks.

I joined a website called Daily Mile. It's a place to share your daily workouts and get inspiration from others. I've made a few friends there (that I know around the web and in real life) and they definitely inspire me. I'm always in awe of people's running times, for I am a very slow runner. I would love to go out for a casual five mile jog and run 9 minute miles. Someday. If you want to be friends, you can search eatplaylove or just click here. This is what the tracking looks like, my training the last four weeks (includes running, walking, hiking, and cycling):

At the end of May when I first started running, it also included plenty of walking. I would pick a set distance and challenge myself to run it. I would then pick the next set distance and walk it, knowing when I arrived at my mental marker I would have to pick up the pace again. Over the last few weeks the walking has decreased and the running has increased. Yesterday I had one of my strongest days running, with very little walking. I decided to run the same loop over and over until I can go from running/walking to running the entire way. I am about 95% to my goal.

I've logged 60 miles in just the past month, 11 hours and 27 minutes! Holy Moly! This is from me, a woman that balked at the notion of being a runner. There are definitely days I don't feel like going. Take tonight for instance, I fell asleep for like 15 minutes at 7:15 when J had the girls out on a bike ride, but I put on my shoes and headed out when I woke up. I know it's cliche to say this, but I truly tell myself, "just do it". No excuses, no defeat, just try. If I walk more, it's okay. If I feel strong and want to push myself that's okay as well.

The best part about running is that I'm learning a lot about myself. Stay tuned for a Thursday 13 post, highlighting the lessons I've learned so far.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Round Box Is Full Of Treasures...

Pushed in the corner of the top shelf in my bedroom closet is a hat box. My hats are strewn through out my house, so you won't actually find any hats in the hat box. Funny how that works, isn't it? A couple times a year I pull down the round blue box and take myself on a journey back in time.

I'm afforded the luxury of time travel via my hat box because it has become comfortably stuffed with letters and cards, saved over the last decade. Beautiful hand written treasures.

Occasionally I sort through the box to make room for new cards, but letting go of glimpses into the past is hard for me. I recently had a wonderful light bulb moment when I discovered I could just toss envelopes and it made way for plenty of room in my treasure box. But to be honest, the letters and cards don't come in the frequency they once did. Hand written letters arriving in my mailbox are close to non-existent. The Facebook private message, emails, or quick notes on my wall have killed most hope of a hand written letter from a friend that lives thousands of miles away. I do love the ability to communicate almost instantly, but I definitely adore the charm and romance of a hand written letter. Plus those letters, store so beautifully in my hat box.

Of course at the top of my favorites list from the hat box are letters from J from various stages of our relationship. We've been together a long time and my heart swells with joy when I read his words to me. I wish I could convince him to send me a letter every now and again. A love letter can be so simple, but yet very powerful and endearing. My mother probably takes the top prize for keeping Hallmark in business. All the big occasions, she sends a card, always with a special hand written note. Then I have handwritten letters from friends and many thank you cards. Speaking of thank you cards they are a dying breed as well, the last few weddings I have attended, I never received a thank you card from the bride and groom. Really what does that say about us today? Lets spend oodles of hours planning every last detail of the big day, but there's no time to recognize the people that came to celebrate the momentous occasion. Maybe our gifts weren't thank you card worthy. I just find it odd. Then again, I adore writing thank you cards (I even received one from a friend last month, it's safe in my hat box). I've tried to pass along the importance of gratitude with card writing to my girls. They send their grandparents cards and we always send a photo thank you card after birthday parties. Now that Sj is old enough to write letters, she will begin the thank you card, post-birthday party tradition. To me, it's the little things that can go a long way to brighten someone's day.

Maybe I shall take the initiative and send out some letters to my friends. I could only hope it would inspire a letter or two in return. Do you still write letters or save letters, I'm curious?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's Been A Whole Week!

I blog when I have something to say, I blog when the timing is right, I blog when I desperately need to get something out, I blog because I want to. The last two weeks have been busy and lazy all wrapped into one fun start of summer. My parents were here from New York, so we enjoyed our visit to the fullest. To top it off, J and I were able to have some quality time to go out.

So what have I been doing? This is in no particular order...

  • Eating my mother's homemade meatballs (grass fed beef, yum) and organic sauce.
  • I didn't do a dish for two weeks, we cooked, nana had dish duty!
  • J and I went to see the Crash Kings, then went to a bar with the band/crew after the show(they are super great guys). We got home at 2am. Hello, who am I?
  • I ran, walked, cycled, or hiked 40 miles during the last 2 weeks. Tracked via DailyMile, are we friends there (search EatPlayLove)? Join me, let's support each other!
  • With help from J and my father, we painted the soffit, gutters, trim on the lower level of our home. My pop painted our front door, it's now green (it's been white for 7 years)!
  • I saw SATC2 and had drinks with girlfriends.
  • I visited the Peds office twice.
  • We played lots of scrabble after the girls were in bed, fun times.
  • We spent a day at Tiny Town, had a picnic and rode the steam train.
  • The sandbox was cleaned out and I loaded 400lbs of play sand into the truck by myself.
  • I spent hours on the roof one day, scraping and painting one side of the upper level of trim.
  • J and I went to a bbq sans kids. I enjoyed myself and didn't spend one moment obsessing as to what the girls were up to.
  • We looked at some houses in Boulder.
  • We had a mortgage meeting and now have a $$$ amount as to what we can qualify for.
  • I said goodbye to a MOMs club friend who is off to call New Jersey home.
  • We purchased a hamster (Fluff) and a betta fish (Tasha).
  • It was in the 90's for days and is now in the 50's. Oh fickle Colorado.
  • I was caught in a hailstorm while driving that was fierce and intense, I watched a jackass hydroplane and wind up in oncoming traffic.
  • We relaxed and laughed a lot.
  • J and I had a wonderful anniversary thanks to my parents spending the day with the girls.
  • I watched my mom tirelessly push GL on the swing for hours, day in and day out.
  • Sj had her year end ballet gala, we dined at Ted's Montana Grill after. She's growing up so fast, she did a beautiful job, made my eyes well up. Those moments are so special, I feel so lucky my parents could be here to see her perform.
  • I hosted an old dear friend from NY that now lives in CO and her children for a bbq.
  • My mother and I went shopping casually with out the girls.
  • We ate cupcakes.
  • I celebrated a friend's 50th birthday.
  • I visited the Savory Spice Shop twice in a week (gosh that place is delightful).
I could go on, but I have to add, we had a great couple of weeks. Tomorrow I am solo with the girls. So from here on out, the real summer begins. I've been visiting craft blogs tonight for inspiration. Time to sign the girls up for camps!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Twelfth Anniversary, A Day in Photos...

The meadow where we said, "I Do!" 12 years ago. Along with a 3 mile hike.
Breakfast at one of our old favorites, Lucile's post-hike.
Oooh, spiced tea.
Creole Breakfast. Grits, red beans, 2 poached eggs, and a biscuit of course.
Dinner, onto Izakaya Den in Denver. First round of wonderful sake.
Dumplings with two sauces, yes those are jalapenos.
Calamari Salad, wonderful flavors!
Spicy Tuna on crispy rice, my favorite dish of the night.
Unagi (for me) forgot J's sashimi photo, oops.
Firecracker roll and the vegetable tempura roll!
Onto dessert at Rioja. Lemon tart and a glass of prosecco.
S'mores Pot de creme. Freshly made graham crackers, yum.
The remnants of the chalk art festival. The streets were clear, but the art was still going strong. Loved the Dali piece, the mirror in the center shrunk the art on the ground, awesome!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What is a Bento?

Tell me more about this bento thing! What in the world is a bento lunch? Today I am over at Mile High Mamas with a guest post introducing readers to Bento Lunch Making! Read more here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday Tips: Why Bento Lunch?

Today I wrote a guest post at Mile High Mamas about bento lunch making. Quite often people ask what in the world is a bento? I always answer it's creative and beautiful lunches.