Monday, July 25, 2011

Be Still My Beating Heart


Yes, folks, the moment I've been waiting for (for a long, long, LONG time) is finally here. As of July 27, Colorado will have its very own IKEA. Someone pinch me, I know I must be dreaming! Do you even know how many hours I've spent looking on their website, poring over their paper catalog, even driving out of state to visit? Most of you don't know, but trust me, it's more than is healthy.

It will be located in Lone Tree (or Centennial, depending on who you ask), a suburb at the very southern end of Denver, which also happens to house one of my favorite malls in Denver. And it's only 45 minutes away! I could even drive up after work if I had the sudden need urge to!

Turns out, it will be the second largest IKEA in the country; Chicago has the largest. And, it will be the first one in the US to utilize geothermal heating and cooling and one of only six stores to use solar energy.

People can begin camping at the entrance today (maybe I thought about doing it, maybe I didn't). Our 12th anniversary is the day after the grand opening, so I decided it was probably better to take off for that instead. :-) But you can be sure I'll be up there the weekend after! I don't care how long a line I have to stand in, I'll be happy just to be breathing the Swedish-tinged air.

Sidewalk Re-do


The area that leads from the front of the house to the driveway has always been a little boring, so we decided to get a little crafty and do something about it. We got a killer deal on some slate tiles, but they weren't the same size as the original pavers so we had to figure out what to do with the spaces in between. Enter $3 worth of river rock from a landscaping supply company (which I dug out of the huge rock pile w/ my bare hands, to find the flattest and most colorful ones). A little Thin-Set to hold everything together, and voila! Not too bad for a day's work w/ only a partial plan in place. Even the neighbors came over to check it out once we were done.



Friday, April 9, 2010

Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution

Everyone knows what school lunches are typically like. Lots of processed and fried foods that of course kids enjoy but that aren't doing anything for them. Here's what Jamie Oliver says on his website about the need for a Food Revolution:

"I believe that every child in America has the right to fresh, nutritious school meals, and that every family deserves real, honest, wholesome food. Too many people are being affected by what they eat. It's time for a national revolution. America needs to stand up for better food!

You live in an amazing country full of inspirational people and you have the power to change things. With your help, we can get better food into homes, schools and communities all over America and give your kids a better future. Sign the petition to save America's cooking skills and improve school food. It could be the most important thing you ever do for your family. America's health needs you now!"

Click here to read more about Jamie's Food Revolution. And please sign the petition to help him get enough votes to make President Obama, other politicians and the food industry see that this is an important issue to all of us.

First Lady Michelle Obama is already leading a fight of her own to improve food for America's children, including having a White House garden planted on the grounds (the first one since Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady during World War II!). Watch the video to see more.

Even though I don't have children of my own, I can't help but see the necessity of changes like these. As much as I love to cook, I know it's possible for us to make nutritious and tasty food for ourselves and our families, and even if you don't like to cook, it's important that our next generations have the tools and means to live healthy lifestyles.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rodrigo y Gabriela

If you haven't heard of this guitar duo by now, you don't know what you're missing. Just watch and listen to this amazing performance to get a taste and then go buy it on iTunes. Do it! I promise you won't be sorry.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Beauty Can Be Anywhere

I almost always take my camera with me, because you never know when you'll come across something beautiful or interesting or memorable in some way. These are flowers that are blooming right now at Roxy's favorite dog park.

A Lovely Breakfast

I found a wonderful recipe by Curtis Stone for Blueberry Compote and decided it would the perfect accompaniment to fresh peaches from the farmer's market and strawberries from the grocery store. The sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and mint from the Compote gave just enough sweetness to the other fruit, and the juice that resulted from the short cooking time was a beautiful, deep purple-blue. (The Compote is supposed to be put over the pancake recipe that it's part of, but I haven't tried the pancakes yet. They sound just as delicious!) I was thrilled with the result; I'm not sure Steven was as crazy about it as I was but he said he liked it. :-) I think this would also be excellent over ice cream, especially a really good vanilla or honey ice cream. Peach season is just starting in western Colorado and we plan on making a trip out there later this month to get a box or two. Then I'll really have to get creative to make sure and use them or put them up before they all go bad! Any recipes or preserving methods you would recommend?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mountain Getaway

We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary a little early by taking a trip to several areas in southwestern Colorado. Some of them were places we'd each been to before, but never together and not for a long time. Plus there was lots of 4-wheel driving available, with plenty of scenery (I took hundreds of photos!) and great camping spots. We got a late start on the first day so we found a camping spot in the Gateview area just outside Gunnison, about 3 1/2 hours west of Colorado Springs.

The next day we drove through Lake City (stopping to take advantage of the Wi-Fi so we could check the day's Tour de France results) on our way to the American Basin and over Cinnamon Pass (12,640 feet), part of the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway. Camp Redcloud, about 5 miles past Lake City, is where I lived and worked for almost a year when I first moved to Colorado after (finally!) graduating college in 1997. Although my personality and way of thinking have changed a lot since I worked there, I'm so grateful that this was my first exposure to Colorado and that I had so many amazing outdoor experiences there.

The American Basin is one of the most beautiful spots on earth, especially in late summer when thousands of flowers are in bloom everywhere you look. The extra rain we've had this summer was certainly in evidence, not only in the abundance of flowers, but also in how green everything was. Sometimes there were so many greens so far up the mountainside, it looked like a soft, verdant blanket had been tossed over it. If you feel like tackling one of Colorado's many 14ers (mountains over 14,000 feet), you can hike up to Handies Peak on the trail leading through the Basin. We didn't have a lot of time so we stayed in the lower area with all the flowers. Cinnamon Pass ended near the town of Silverton, which I'd heard a lot about but was a little disappointed in. I'd love to go back sometime, though, to ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

At our second campsite (probably the prettiest site we had on this trip) we met a couple named Bob and Shirley, both in their 70's, who had driven many of the 4WD passes in Colorado over the years. Steven had a great time talking with Bob and poring over the maps they had both brought. Bob's maps were over 25 years old. Shirley said she had never been scared while going over the passes, which helped relieve my mind (a little bit), since I'm very afraid of heights and kept imagining us tumbling over the edge.

The main 4WD pass that Steven wanted to do was Black Bear Pass (12, 840 feet). It's listed as "extreme" and "difficult" on most websites and maps, and while I have great confidence in Steven's driving skills, I was still hugely nervous about being along for the ride. The most difficult areas were The Steps and The Switchbacks; several of the switchbacks required 3- or 4-point turns, which involved much stopping and backing up and inching forward until we were safely around. The upper portion of the pass is one way only, for good reason--many times the road was literally the width of the truck. Thankfully I had my camera and the beautiful scenery (and Roxy in the back of the cab) to help keep me distracted, or I looked away from the exceptionally high drop-off we were driving next to, usually on my side of course.

In the end we made it with no mishaps and I would definitely say it was worth it. Steven is ready to go back and do it again but I might have to wait a little longer. The spectacular Bridal Veil Falls is about halfway down, past the most hairy switchbacks, and it was nice to get out and take a little break from gripping the "oh s**t" handle for so long. It's the highest free-falling waterfall in Colorado, with the former power plant for the town of Telluride nestled at its top.

The pass takes you into the town of Telluride, where we walked around for about an hour. No sightings of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes or Oprah Winfrey, but we did see many amazing old buildings and had some yummy homemade ice cream. Telluride is also a famous ski resort, with some pretty extreme runs and a mountain village set up away from the main town, accessed by a gondola. The gondola also runs in the summer, but we still had Imogene Pass to get over so we didn't ride it.

All along the way on every pass we drove, there were old mines and mining camp remnants. Sometimes they were so remote and precarious, I marveled at the mindset and the circumstances that would have driven people to take their chance at living there. One site near the top of Imogene Pass used to have dozens of buildings and even a public school, but it looked like you were on the moon because it was only rocks and shale as far as you could see, plus it was cold and windy. The mining deposits and runoff still affect the water; streams were cloudy and ponds were a brilliant turquoise/light blue. Apparently any fish you might catch from them are not recommended for eating.

Imogene Pass is the second highest pass in Colorado (13,114 feet) and turned out to be a little trickier than we thought. At the top you get an amazing view of mountains covered in iron ore, giving the mountains a vivid rust color. We made it safely down that pass, too, into the town of Ouray. In the winter, ice climbers converge upon this small town to tackle its many challenging areas. In the summer, the 4WD roads, hot springs, and proximity to other historic mining towns bring tourists from all over. One place we stopped had a "vapor cave", basically an underground sauna of sorts, but in a cave. I think I might feel a little too claustrophobic to stay in it for too long, plus it was really hot in there! I only took a picture of the entrance; I'm not sure how far back you actually go.