Monday, December 14, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh...

We are recovering from the whirlwind that is known as The Nutcracker. Both girls were cast in this year's performance (yeah, throw confetti), but with that comes some give and take. Every year I have this romantic notion of securing a Forest Service Permit to go hike into the woods and chop down a tree. I imagine us taking hours to find the most lovely imperfect tree to grace our house.

But the reality is, we were picking up dinner at our neighborhood Whole Foods Market, and boom there were trees. The girls had ballet buns in their hair and leotards under their down jackets, when we said, sure pick one out! Squees followed when we said yes. Before we knew it, we had chosen a Nordman Fir and up on our car it went! This year, I've decided after we get the lights put on, the girls will carry on the tradition of placing the ornaments. Win, win.

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Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post! Content including photos is purely at my discretion. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Place I Live

There is snow on the ground and a blustery wind fills the air. The weather change seems sudden and hard, but I know a few days of sunshine will be warming things up (or so I keep telling myself). The wintery conditions don't bother me. I am well equipped with warm base layers, scarves, wool sweaters, fleece lined hats, knee high socks, and the appropriate climate to be rocking Ugg boots. Because somedays on my drive to work (I see this, below) and feel so fortunate I live in such a beautiful place.


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and that concludes 30 days of NaBloPoMo, thank you for joining me and allowing me to fill up your inbox this month. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

I Don't Buy Magazines

I no longer buy magazines. Wait, wait, wait, it's probably more realistic to claim I rarely buy magazines. On a road trip, I adore thumbing through the glossy pages with short articles to keep my attention. While waiting in line at the market I'll pick up a magazine and peruse it, but I never follow through with the purchase. Magazines are instant and disposable entertainment so in a way they don't really fit with my lifestyle. 

But then this happened…


…and yes I bought it and will cherish looking at it for years to come. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Finally, The Nutcracker Performance!

Finally our moment arrived to be an audience member for the Nutcracker performance. No more peeks at dress rehearsal, this was the real deal. There were 4 shows this weekend and I just couldn't wait to be seated, listening to the Boulder Philharmonic live, and witnessing the payoff of the countless hours of hard work the dancers have put into the production. Sitting there in Macky Auditorium, I was filled with a profound joy. A joy where your eyes well with tears and your cheeks hurt from smiling so much. After the show, all I could do was wrap my arms around my dancers and look them in the eyes and tell them how proud they made me. What a gift.



Friday, November 27, 2015

Holiday Time Savers


On Wednesday afternoon we realized we needed to start making the pies, as making them on Thursday just wasn't realistic (mainly due to oven space). All of us were feeling lackadaisical about making the crust, so we decided to pop by Whole Foods Market and pick up our favorite ready-to-bake pie crust. What a savior, we still made the filling from scratch for our chocolate cream and pumpkin pies, but the ready made crust worked perfectly! The crust is so good it made us realize that sometimes time savers are the way to go.

Here are some other holiday time savers from Whole Foods Market:

· Mirepoix & Pre-Cut Squash and Garlic – Mirepoix is the perfect “grab and go” item for your Crock Pot. And pre-cut squash and garlic will save you precious minuets of prep time in the kitchen

· Stuffing Bags – made-in-house stuffing bags from our bakery give you the taste of homemade stuffing without the time commitment.

· Frozen Rice in a Bag – makes rice cooking easy and worry-free, especially if you don’t have a rice cooker

· Frozen Rolls – fresh from the bakery department and frozen, so you can break these out and throw them in the oven when the dinner menu calls for rolls!

· Stuffed Cornish Game Hens – not only is all the work already done for you, but these hens are a wonderful alternative to turkey or ham for your holiday table

· Pre-made Appetizers – a wide variety of appetizers that are already plated and ready to serve can make attending a party while bringing something to share both easy and delicious

· Cocktail Shrimp Platters – again, ready to serve and be enjoyed!

Mmm…pie
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Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post! Content including photos is purely at my discretion. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Plentiful

Thanksgiving Day is definitely my favorite holiday, a day in the kitchen, surrounded by family and friends. My parents are in town, so the kitchen tasks were split out between the adults with help from the girls. The day seemed to be remarkably mellow and the food was plentiful. I think the cold and snow added to the feeling of the day, it just seemed perfect to be lounging around and celebrating the day off from ballet.


J basting the glorious bird! 



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Garnet Hill Inspired Bargain Sweater

Whenever the Garnet Hill catalog arrives in my mailbox, its glossy cover is met with both delight and disappointment. Delight for all the lovely items they carry and disappointment that I cannot order everything my heart desires. Of course with the change of weather, comes my deliberate combing over of their sweaters. Garnet Hill is most known for their cashmere and it's dreamy. I found a sweater I really wanted, a cashmere cape priced at $198. There's a 25% off sale right now, so I did the math and $148.50 did not sound as ridiculous at $198, but still I couldn't justify it (maybe for my birthday). The catalog sat for at least a week and a half open to the sweater page, so I could longingly stare at it daily. Here it is:


Now, for the exciting part…

Today I was out shopping with my girls and mom. I wasn't even on the look out for a sweater, but a camel colored turtleneck sweater caught my eye on a round of brightly colored sweaters. I picked it up and gasped! It totally reminded me of the Garnet Hill cape. Now, the sweater was not cashmere (boo), but it was $19.99. I immediately slipped it on and fell for it. And with a savings of $178, there is no way I could pass it up. It came home with me and I haven't taken it off yet.


ps….I need better lighting to compete with that gorgeous Garnet Hill model.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Nutcracker, Oh Nutcracker

We are deep in the throws of being a Nutcracker family, both girls were cast this year which means it's a complete team effort. Drop off, pick ups, changing rehearsal times, make up, sewing new elastic into ballet shoes, is it the performance space, studio, or auditorium, and let's not forget the bobby pins for one low bun and one high bun. The bobby pins seem to be found in the most random places and never where we need them when it's go time! The girls have been amazing through this and I have bitten my tongue on many occasions trying to keep it all together. I dare not complain, as we chose this and I feel so fortunate to have both girls performing. I've watched them grow as dancers and love the bonding between my girls and their fellow dancers that has occur over the past couple of months. The question is, will I encourage them to try out next year? My answer will always remain the same, I will support them through whatever they want to pursue!



Monday, November 23, 2015

En Pointe


On most ballet class days, I drop off and J picks up, and I rarely make it inside the studio to watch the girls. This weekend J was out of town, so I was on drop off and pick up duty. Although we typically agree to meet outside for a swift pickup, I decided to drop into the studio to see if the door to class was open today. I caught a glimpse of my girl dancing en pointe. It's hard to believe she's arrived at this moment, it feels surreal. What I captured is a culmination of her determination and hard work (and drive to work through the pain of learning Pointe). I couldn't be prouder. Pass the tissues.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Saturday, November 21, 2015

One Dozen Donuts

Top down:
chocolate glaze/w sprinkles, cake w/chocolate glaze, pumpkin
bavarian cream, chocolate kreme filled, pumpkin
bavarian cream, old fashioned, coconut
bavarian cream, old fashioned, cake w/chocolate glaze
                 











Friday, November 20, 2015

There Goes Another One

Brands are bought and sold all the time. It always breaks my heart when a fabulous brand gets snatched up by a conglomerate. Although the public is always told nothing is going to change, I have never seen that happen. Plus, when you believe in supporting small companies over large corporations, it's hard to forget who the parent company is. To my dismay, Intelligentsia Coffee Company was purchased by Peets. It felt disappointing, but not as disappointing as seeing your favorite red bags on the shelf in Target.

Goodbye Intelligentsia…


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hilarious Entertainment For Kids, Bean Boozled!


After the Warren Miller Movie we went out to dinner with a large group of friends. We were hanging out talking when the kids asked if they could go next door to the candy shop. My girls came back begging for Bean Boozled, so I agreed to buy a package (large box with spinner was $8). I can't believe how much entertainment came from a package of jelly beans, it bought the adults another 45 minutes of catching up. The premise of Bean Boozled is you spin and then you have to eat the color jelly bean you landed on, the only caveat is the color could be a great fun flavor or a disaster gross flavor! The kids had patrons of the restaurant stopping by the table to watch them take a spin! We even convinced two super cool Boulder Police Officers to play along when we were waiting for our vehicle that was right in the middle of a bomb squad call. If you are looking for cheap entertainment for a group of kids, I definitely recommend Bean Boozled!


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this is NOT A SPONSORED POST! just simply sharing a fun time that was had by all! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

She May Not Have The Ocean, But She Has The Sky

She set up her camp chair in the front yard, just on the edge of the shade, so her body would stay cool under nature's umbrella and her legs could effortlessly dangle in the full sunshine. Her feet slipped out of her squishy soled flip flops, her toenails recently painted a shade of coral, which started to chip in a way that makes her familiar. She's always been complimented by her imperfections. Her book came to rest on her right thigh, but there's something about sitting outside that doesn't make it conducive for her to read. Her eyes wander noticing the shape shifting clouds, comparing how the sky is pale blue off to the east, but just above her head it's a turquoise that would give the Pacific a run for it's money. She may not have the ocean, but she has the sky. The tips of the branches sway slightly, the leaves whisper and she longs to understand their language.



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free write, just sit and fill up the screen, sometimes it goes a little like this.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Oh What A Night!

Tonight I was invited to a free preview screening of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, which releases on Friday November 20th. Typically, I would decline a midweek drive to Denver to preview a movie, but I knew my girl would go absolutely crazy if I took her. I need to note, she's only been talking about the release of this movie for about 6 months. In the past few weeks, we've been getting the daily, I'm so excited Mockingjay Part 2 is coming out in 18 days, 12 days, oh my goodness, it's THIS FRIDAY.

I accepted the offer to attend and kept it a total surprise. On our drive down to Denver, I made up some story about a blogging event, and she was asking if some of our blogworld friends would be there. I played along right up until the moment we entered the theater. She could not believe it, her excitement was met with some anticipation and sadness because the moment had arrived that the trilogy would be over. There were parts of the movie I would cover my eyes, she definitely got a big kick out of my response. I also predicted the ending and I have not read the books yet (I think I have to now). It was a definitely a moment to remember, mainly because I know how much it meant to her to see the movie before it was released. We spent the entire car ride home breaking down the movie, she's already counting the days before she sees it again! I'm going to have to end with, two thumbs up.

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Disclaimer, I was given free tickets to attend the preview screening. I was not asked to post about the movie and as you can see, this is not a review. I just wanted to relish the moment with my girl. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Gymastics Is Not A Sport Of My People

Sometimes I have the funniest timed epiphanies. I was standing at gymnastics pickup, looking down at the grey speckled wall to wall carpet, avoiding a myriad of rambunctious toddlers, when I noticed a mom walk by with a pair of socks on I own. I'm sure you're thinking, so what's the big coincidence? There must be dozens of moms in Boulder own wool socks from Costco. What stood out about these socks, was that they went almost to her knee!!! They were peaking out of the top of her boot that went above the mid calf line. Woah. They are crew socks and this woman was so tiny, the sock went so far up on her leg. I'm not joking the socks are basically ankle socks for me. It made me feel tall and long, mainly because I am, but it was like WOW YOU ARE TALL. All that from a simple pair of socks.

Then, not even 5 minutes later a mom stands right next to me wearing a sweater I own from Anthro. At first I thought to myself, my that's a cute sweater, and then I realized hey I own that sweater! So what's the big deal about the sweater? Well, it went down past her butt. I swear, it barely hits the top of my jean pockets. Apparently she has a short torso and I have a oddly long torso because the same sweater looks dramatically different on me. And then I thought…Wow you really are tall, tall, tall, Denise.

Next week I am swooping in moments before gymnastics lets out, so I can feel normal and not compare myself to all the Mary Lou Retton sized moms. I mean seriously, what in the world is my tall child doing pursuing gymnastics, this is not a sport of my people.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Winter Starts Now


Another year, another movie. If we measured time by Warren Miller movies, 50 was the first one J worked on. This year, Chasing Shadows was the 66th film, so that puts about 16 movies in the can for J. In the can is old school lingo for a film ready to be released. I've decided I'm going to print up all of our family photos in front of the Boulder Theater marquis and frame them together, as a fun way to watch the girls growing up. It's such a wonderful tradition bringing friends together, watching the crowd get excited for the ski season that's upon us, so much excitement is always in the air at a Warren Miller Show! 

As the old saying goes, winter starts now...


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Her Web Is Glorious And It Sparkles When The Sunshine Hits It Just Right (see also, this post is about Loss)

Some very sad news arrived in my inbox tonight. I sat with my laptop screen open as the tears rolled down my face, I read the words over and over again. My mind wanted to pretend it missed the good news part, the holding onto hope part, but it wasn't there. While the news was not completely unexpected, it did not lessen the pain. It didn't stop my brain from fearing I may never see her again or reflecting upon the fact, if I only knew the Friday in August would be the last day I would see her. I let my mind process what it needs to. I let the tears flow. I cling onto all the moments I remember her pure laughter, her smile, the happiness I felt in her presence, and how it was always a gift to steal even a few minutes of her time to chat. I am overcome by how much goodness she has brought into my life, she is wise and I admire that about her. 

photo source
But the reality is we are losing a cherished and adored member of our community, someone I love and consider a friend. She is incredibly vibrant, outspoken, and driven by a very unique love of educating children with her whole heart. She is a fierce progressive in the most brilliant sense. We share a love for Twitter and it felt like our bat channel, where we commonly have late night conversations interspersed with interesting articles we were reading. She formed a special bond with my youngest daughter which in turn ignited a passion for learning in her, and I will forever be indebted.

It's not difficult to focus on the countless ways she's touched so many lives. I imagine the web of children, colleagues, and families she's inspired over the last two decades. The web is glorious and it sparkles when the sunshine hits it just right and it continues to weave into others endlessly. I wish I could carry around a little box of bandaids and put them over the small holes that have formed in our hearts in an attempt to help us through the healing. I want so desperately to fix this. My focus now is on sending her love and light and on the passage of time being peaceful for her, the way a heart centric person deserves to be held and honored through this time. My heart will forever hold a special space which has been carved out for no one other than her.




Friday, November 13, 2015

Why Are Our Hearts Shrinking?

More violence, more senseless loss. Another brutal attack on Paris, another blow to humanity. I live in a very insulated world where I believe human life is sacred and I refuse to live any differently. My brain struggles to comprehend reasons for war, murder, plots to harm, extremism in the name of religion, corporations that knowingly poison consumers. I want to live in a world where human lives are not disposable, where change comes from fighting the hard fight in peaceful solidarity. I fear the commonplace of insurmountable loss and contemplate why are our hearts shrinking?


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Discovering Music

Another violin has entered our home. I played when I was 9, quit by the time I was 12. My oldest has been playing since she was 9, when an orchestra program was launched at our school. Now, my youngest has chosen to join the orchestra and learn to play the violin. For three years now, G has joined us at performances and hung around school during orchestra practice watching her big sister.

When I took her into the local music shop to pick up her 1/2 size rental, her smile was wider than her face. It was obvious she was waiting for her moment. As it turns out, she's very focused. Unlike her big sister, she practices on average five days a week for at least 20 minutes per session. She would power through when her fingers were hurting from plucking the strings and her determination allowed her to quickly progress onto bowing. Tonight I sat on the floor outside her bedroom door unbeknownst to her. She sounded so wonderful for a newbie, it's hard to believe she's only a couple of months into lessons. I began to hum along with her song, after she finished she stepped outside her room to find me. "Mom, have you been listening to me this whole time," she inquired. I told her I couldn't help myself. Being a part of her discovering music, reading notes, placing her fingers, practicing songs until she gets it just right, is pure magic.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Snow Outside, Blanket Fort Inside

We woke to snow, a light dusting. Even though there wasn't much accumulation, snow still comes with the reality that it's cold outside. We talked briefly over breakfast about things we could do with our day,  but the majority of options were out of the house. The notion of staying in for the day felt so charming. With no activities to run to in the afternoon, we opted to stay put. The girls begged for a blanket fort and my oh my did J indulge them. He didn't just build a blanket fort, it felt like a rent controlled studio in the Village! The girls grabbed blankets and pillows, the space was so comfortable for lounging around, that's exactly how we spent our day. I'm surprised they didn't request to sleep in there, although they did ask if it could stay up through the weekend. Of course we said yes, if it means more relaxing, easy going days. Why are blanket forts so magical?


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

...But Where Do We Want To Go?


What if I could push my words, like I do paint on a canvas. I never quite set out to capture anything when I paint except for motion, lines, and making our eyes move with a flow. And my words? Can they move through the space on the page and create an image? I suppose that's rhetorical, for we know words can take us anywhere.

But where do we want to go…

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a little side note, I fell asleep last night with my laptop in my lap,  when I woke I was in a fog and thought I had hit publish. I'm correcting that now. Life. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Life Without Elbows?!?

I'm leaning in on a NaBloPoMo November Prompt  to help me get over the hump! What is the first thing you do every single day (I mean, after you hit the snooze button)? 

Here's a little insight into my mornings, which honestly borders on a confessional because sometimes it's hard to believe I have fallen into this routine. Every single morning before I get out of bed, I spend some time cuddled up with my girls. Well, not always my oldest because she's too busy in the morning checking instagram or complaining that the birds are chirping, but a few times a week I demand her to join us. This morning, my 8 year old walked in my bedroom, I opened up the covers, and she climbed in. I don't even know how the conversation started, but we started talking about what life would be like if we didn't have elbows. So to hold onto the moment, I took the thought to Twitter, where I received a few hilarious responses including a video.



We spent at least 15 minutes in deep belly laughs from our elbow tangents. We ran through the gamut of inventing new utensils because eating would absolutely be the most profoundly impacted by not have elbows. There was gesturing to try out our ideas, followed by more laughter. Then the girls carried on with their morning routine, lunches packed and breakfast prepared by J, water bottles filled, sweatshirts on, backpacks stuffed, all in time for our carpool pickup! I carried on reading in bed through the hustle and bustle of the morning rush and even when the calm settled in the house, as soon as the storm door closed.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Best Non-Toxic and Speedy Way To Clean Your Oven (yes, baked on grease!)

In preparation for my parents visit over Thanksgiving, I spent sometime deep cleaning my kitchen today. My mother loves to putter around the house and for fun I'll find her doing chores like scrubbing the inside of my toaster oven. In an attempt to give her some time to relax, I thought I'd clean the oven, toaster oven, and wipe down my cabinets before their arrival! I couldn't recall the last time I cleaned the inside of my oven, but it only took once glance to recognize it had been too long. Years ago (yes, I said years ago) I did one of those self-cleaning cycles, but to be quite honest I am not a fan of the fumes and when it's hot out, it's hard to convince us to run the oven all day. Then when it's cold out, who wants to open the windows to run the oven all day just to clean it, plus it seems like a waste of gas. There is no way I would ever buy those toxic smelling oven cleaners, so I've resorted to wiping out spills and quite often overlooked the baked on part. I set out to clean the neglected oven. Actually when you opened the door it looked a little like this:


That photo is after I scrubbed the inside of the door. I used my go to Choreboy scrubbers, Bon Ami, Ecover cream cleanser, Seventh Generation free and clear all purpose cleaner and the oven STILL LOOKED LIKE THAT!

Then I did some research and I learned a perfect non-toxic oven cleaning technique.

Let me share it with you!

1. Spray your favorite all purpose cleanser on the dark, baked in spots that will not easily come off with a cleaning cloth and a little elbow grease. I love Seventh Generation's All Purpose Cleaner. 

2. Wait 3-5 minutes. 

3. Use a razor blade to scrape the baked on, thick mess off! Make sure the parts you are scraping with the razor blade are still wet, this is very important. 

4. Wipe down with a wet rag following to shine and polish! 


I used a basic razorblade, I don't recommend this. Use a real scraper.


The after shot of my oven door! For real! 5 minutes later and a little scraping. No toxic cleaners were used, which is the best part! 

This is the type of scraper I recommend, they cost about $2 and are way safer! 

Happy Cleaning....

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All products mentioned, I purchase for use in my home. This post was not sponsored by any companies.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Just An Average Friday At Work, Hanging With Birds Of Prey

I casually strolled into an assembly today with my new camera in hand, to take some photos for the school's website. I thought I would grab some large group shots and a few close ups of the birds of prey an outreach organization had brought in to celebrate our 10 years as a Green Star School. There was an owl, a hawk, a falcon, and your everyday BALD EAGLE. But it turns out, I became an active part of the assembly. The birds were marvelous, I was as enthralled as the kindergartners in the front row. The entire presentation was captivating and interactive. One hour and over a 100 photos later, I snuck out of the back of the gymnasium and into my office as the younger kids were letting out. I decided to pass on staying for the second assembly with the older students.

My decision to leave would wind up biting me in the ass. It wasn't even 15 minutes into the next assembly when I received a text message with a photo of my oldest daughter interacting with the owl. I high tailed it down to the gymnasium, but I had missed the moment. As I was decompressing with a colleague about how disappointed I was, the newspaper photographer stopped to give us his card and he mentioned my daughter's name. The guilt rushed out of my body the minute I saw his amazing candid shots of my girl. He was even kind enough to email them to me within the hour. Thanks to the photographer for saving the day!

How cool is this moment:






Thursday, November 5, 2015

Greetings From Mt. Cotton Poly Blend

Girls bring me your laundry now!!! I yelled out to my youngest practicing her violin and my tween, enthralled with ballet on YouTube. My mind instantly takes me back to my childhood home, as they dump their bulging hampers onto the floor in front of me. The mountain of laundry grows as the washing machine and dryer simultaneously let out mechanical roars behind me. Growing up, I rarely saw a pile of laundry, if so it was always sorted into whites, neutrals, darks, or towels. My mother is a laundering goddess and when I say she could outlaunder Martha in a competition, I wouldn't give a second thought to doubling down on Barbara over Martha. She folds with precision and the utmost care, no whites every dulled, three sons always presented her with a stain challenge but none defeated her. Clean clothes never sat cold and wrinkled in the dryer because it was always promptly folded straight from a buzzing machine and put away while they were still warm. The woman can fold a queen fitted sheet to fit in a quart size Ziploc bag. Have I even mentioned she stayed on top of laundry with the utmost care for a household of 6?


I on the other hand have failed in all the ways my mother perfected the art of laundering. I will admit, I do have a mean stain fighting repertoire, but the wrinkles and the bottomless mounds leave me so uninspired and defeated. Defeated enough to be sitting here writing while I ignore the cackling from the three loads of laundry that sit on the other end of the sectional, waiting to be tended to.  It also sounds like the washing machine just came to a final spin and I give it a 3, 2, 1 until the dryer buzzes to complete the nightmare laundry trifecta. The loads weigh heavily on me and I can't help but wonder at what age is the perfect time for children to begin taking on some of their responsibilities around the house (says the woman who never did a load of her own laundry before I moved out at 18)? They do put away their clothes or I find myself begging them to match up the laundry basket of socks, but I'm dreaming about how exciting it would be to hand some laundering duties off to them…





Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Day 4 and She's Already Writing About Writing

The funny thing about setting aside time to write daily is that you may sit down with one idea and find a completely different post lands on your screen. Yesterday I was ready to blather on about my internet outage, but instead I focused on gratitude. It's strange how conscious I've been of this process unfolding in front of me, as it has been quite sometime eons since I've posted daily. This time around it's easier to sit with my words, to digest them, to reread, to polish. I find myself cutting and pasting and creating small paragraphs of the same text below the paragraph I'm currently working on and also having no qualms with deleting sentence after sentence. I'm looking at words in new ways, building sentences that simply flow with my thoughts, opening new windows and drafting two sentence ideas for other posts that arise in the moment. There's a lightness to my experience, by just allowing my words to be released. And there's nothing quite like the cliché of a blogger writing about their writing process. Be done Denise, be done.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tuesdays Are A Gift

Tuesdays feel like a gift to me, it's my regular day off of work. Everyone is out of the house either at work or school. I try my hardest to avoid turning Tuesdays into errand day, wasting the day running around in my car. Post office, grocery store, bank, or a return to Target can all wait until any day of the week other than Tuesday. Instead, I have a leisurely breakfast with a chai and allow the morning to simply spill into the afternoon. Today in particular turned out to be the most wonderful day weather wise, 73 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Surely those perfect conditions prompted a couple of hours reading in my hammock. I didn't even allow the crunch of the leaves under my feet as to prompt me to do something preposterous like, raking leaves. I mean, it's Tuesday after all.

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there was a delay in posting, my internet went out last night at 9:30 and wasn't back up until this am. Boo. 



Monday, November 2, 2015

Drawing My Curtains Back

September ushers in the strongest felt seasonal contrasts, the strange and unexpected fading out of morning sunshine. The sunlight feels too slow to grace us and the dark makes staying in bed too easy to do. A solution to combat my lingering in bed was to draw my bedroom curtains back, day and night. A few times in the wee hours of the morning by surprise, my bare windows allowed the intense glow of the moon to rattle me right out of a deep slumber. Although I find it's hard to be disappointed when natural light, be it from the sun or moon, finds it's way into my home. This otherwise hard to find pure white moonlight illuminates our bodies in the dark. My squinting eyes glimpse out the window to capture highlights on tree limbs and leaves, cascading deep shadows, light draping the landscape in a way sunshine never could. I roll over to my default fetal position, pulling my worn in cotton quilt over my shoulder, moonlight on my back, and fall back into a slumber.

Drawing my curtains back has proven to be one of my best ideas yet.



Sunday, November 1, 2015

2009, 2012, and Now 2015 NaBloPoMo

NaBloPoMo November 2015For some reason today, NaBloPoMo crossed my mind. I did quick blog search to discover, I participated exactly two times over the course of this blog's life, in 2009 and 2012. Apparently there's a subconscious three year cycle switch in my brain. Being a woman that takes a deep interest in numbers, I believe it would be a terrible idea to completely disregard I have yet again hit my three year mark in the NaBloPoMo cycle. Before I gave it too much thought, I added my name to the blogroll, and just like that I have committed. Let's do this 2015.

So here I am.

It's hard to express the multitude of times I still have blogpost ideas rattling around in my mind through out the day. I guess I no longer honor the urge to write and share, which feels awful to say. Today I have committed to change that, to honor my voice, and open up again. In an age when blogs are shuttering by the hour, I see the summit of this climb, and it has a date of November 30, 2015 stamped on the flag waving in the wind.

See you at the top.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Butternut Squash Soup, Inspired By What's On Hand

One of my favorite things about the weekend is having the time to allow food to drive our relaxing days. I love it when something delicious is simmering up for hours on the stove. Friday night we had a to-go cooked chicken from Whole Foods Market. The next day we turned the chicken leftovers into stock. Homemade stock is so wonderful and aromatic. We used the stock as a perfect accompaniment for the butternut squash we had picked up earlier in the week at the market. A lovely butternut squash soup was born again!

We are improvisational cooks and Josh is fabulous at whipping up soup. A special love enters whatever is being cooked when homemade stock is introduced, it takes the meal to the next level. With homemade stock, we don't feel the need to add cream to the soup to create the richness, the stock just naturally does that in a light and refreshing way. We definitely didn't miss the extra fat and calories this time around. As with every batch of soup that doesn't follow a step by step recipe, but rather a more casual what's on hand creation process, this batch was a favorite. Unfortunately it's harder to recreate, but we can pull in flavors again that worked well for us.

Here's how to make some stock, throw aromatics into a pot, vegetables, herbs, chicken bones/carcass, and cover generously with water. Give it plenty of time (a couple hours) to simmer and let the flavors meld. Drain out the goodness and set aside, discard all remains.

Roast the squash with sea salt, pepper, and olive oil. Scoop out and add to LeCrueset, with the stock. Allow the squash to simmer for about 20 minutes to meld the flavors. We then blend it with a hand immersion blender right in the pot. A lovely way to increase the flavor profile of butternut squash soup is with ginger and also roasting sweet potatoes and carrots with the squash.

We grilled up a panini to accompany the soup. We chose Asiago, tomato, salami, and spinach to adorn our herbed foccacia. Top the soup with freshly candied walnuts (honey, salt, and pepper in a fry pan).  Give your improvisational skills a try, utilize those vegetables sitting in the bottom of your crisper, you'll be surprised what you'll turn out!


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Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post! Content including photos is purely at my discretion. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Don't Miss Wild King Salmon 3 Day Sale at Whole Foods Market 9/18-20!


September 18-20th is Whole Foods Market's three day sale on Wild King Salmon Filet! The salmon is domestically caught from the Pacific ranging from California to Alaska. Although I love grilled salmon on thinly sliced lemon, straight on the grill, sometimes it's fun to dress it up!

Roasted Salmon Stuffed With Spinach, Feta, and Ricotta:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 center-cut boneless, skinless salmon fillet 
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese 
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese 
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt , divided 
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 
  • 1 cup packed baby spinach , divided 
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil , plus more for baking sheet 
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill 
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper , divided

Method: 

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Butterfly salmon fillet through the center, without cutting all the way through, so that it lays open flat in one large piece like a book. Turn salmon over so skin side is facing up and place on a clean work surface. In a bowl, mash together feta and ricotta until well blended. 

Season salmon with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, then spread fillet with mustard. Arrange half of the spinach on top, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Evenly dot cheese mixture on top of spinach, then top with remaining spinach. Starting from one of the long sides, gently roll up salmon and tie snugly with cooking twine at 1-inch intervals. 

Gently transfer salmon to an oiled baking sheet. Brush top and sides of salmon with oil and season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Scatter dill and oregano over top and sides. Roast until salmon is just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a serving platter, remove and discard the twine and serve.

Curious to learn more about the selection process for fish, here's some insight:

:

Delightful and easy Roasted Red Pepper Salmon w/Spinach by Elana's Pantry (another recipe to add to my rotation, since I picked up a few pounds on sale).

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Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post! Content including photos is purely at my discretion. 



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Some Things Remain Constant

Tonight was Girl's Night. We enjoyed a fast casual dinner and the girls jumped at the opportunity for a random weekday trip to the mall in our former hometown. With a few giggles, they asked if they could cut through the sand play area as we were walking towards the entrance. I nod, smile, and give them the green light to go for it. I watched them from afar, flashing back to years ago when we spent countless playdate hours in the same exact spot. Baby wipes, hand sanitizer, toddler arguments and tears over the coveted dump truck, spilled snacks, huddling the masses under one umbrella, vividly recalling the one friend from playgroup who always tried to escape through the bars into the water installation. Now my oldest could earn money to care for the toddler happily collecting all the shovels to keep right next to his sandcastle in progress. Her women's size 9 Birkenstocks fill with sand, she stops to dump them out just like when she was a little girl, and I realized some things remain constant even through years of change.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Drink Or Don't Drink, We Can All Be Merry!

There's really no easy way to say this, but abstaining from alcohol makes people nervous. Just have a drink- what's your problem, I'm headed to the bar are you sure I can't get you one, aww come on not even ONE glass of wine, are you on a cleanse, are you pregnant ?!? The commentary is plentiful. I keep smiling and decline, as I watch the glasses around me empty fast, the classic nervous swirl of the ice hoping to find one more chug hiding somewhere at the bottom. My water glass reaches my lips and I can't stop thinking about an excuse to head home.

Depending on the persistence of the company I am keeping, I'll have a soda water with a splash of cran in order to make people feel more comfortable. The truth is, if I have one drink it's just to appease people. One drink doesn't do anything for me and while on rare occasion, I'll have 2 or 3 drinks, I've decided I just don't like the way it makes my body feel. Now don't get me wrong, there's an hour or so of a euphoric feeling, but the next day the slow moving, headache, dehydration, and I'll just be holding down the couch feeling, isn't worth that little sliver of euphoria the night before.

Side note, are we following how this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever?

First, there's no getting around the blanket assumption in which too many believe, in order to enjoy one's self we must be in pursuit of intoxication. Now, let me state, if you are a person which loves going out to party, I'm not judging. Having a drink or three, eases the load for many people who don't indulge everyday. It even eases the load for those who's vernacular is controlled by, it's 5 o'clock somewhere... Please, don't be confused, I'm not preaching about how one should treat their body, I'm simply trying to highlight how easy it is to alienate someone that chooses not to indulge (especially for my friends that have chosen to live a life free from alcohol dependency).

Let's start with a common ground, we are all there to enjoy each other's company, to laugh, to decompress, to catch up, and have a great time. Of course offer to buy a friend a drink, but don't persist if they decline. Have gratitude for your sober friends, they may be the one driving you home or helping you to the bathroom or remembering how to unlock the bicycle combo. Don't ever take someone passing up a drink personally (it's definitely not about you). Take a moment to reflect upon past behavior when out with friends, have you noticed others goading those not drinking or have you been the one hurtfully joking around? Step in and help change the conversation.

Small steps allowing us to be conscious of our behavior can only improve a night out on the town with friends! I raise a glass of ice water to toast that sentiment! Cheers!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Colorado Peaches And Chilies, Eat Local And In Season with Whole Foods Market!

August is such a bountiful time of year, fortunately for us in Colorado it's peak Peach and Chile season!   Whole Foods Market is highlighting #inseason produce so we can find the freshest and most likely, locally sourced fruits and vegetables.


For the past three weeks, every time I head into the market I pick up a bag of no less than 8 peaches from the western slope and it doesn't seem to carry our family of four more than a couple of days. We've been adding peaches to crepes, plain yogurt, oatmeal, salads, sliced with cashew butter for an amazing snack, and even in a quinoa salad I made a big batch of to pack for lunches through out the week. I find they are the most perfect snack when hiking on a hot day. I often joke with cashiers that peaches should come packaged in an egg carton to protect them. I typically hand carry them out of the store to protect them from bumps and bruises on the commute home.

For more peach recipe inspiration, check out these links below!

Recipes from Whole Foods Market:
Rum Butter Glazed Grilled Peaches
Arugula Salad w/Peaches and Blue Cheese
Peach Coconut Freeze
Chicken w/Grilled Peach and Chipotle Salsa

Six Ways To Savor Peaches by In Jennie's Kitchen

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Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post! Content including photos is purely at my discretion.