Friday, December 31, 2010

Hikes To Date in CO

In case you haven't figured this out yet... I'm a dork. I like to track things, like where I've hiked/snowshoed and camped in Colorado. Here's my HTD (Hike To Date) map:

Click picture to enlarge...

I think the icons are pretty self-explanatory, but here's the rundown:

Hikers - Hiked
Snowflake - Snowshoed
Tent - Camped
Blue dots - peaks climbed
Red dots - 14ers climbed

I hope to add a ton more icons in 2011!

2010 Highlights

Whew. 2010 has been a whirlwind of a year, and I just know that 2011 is going to be even better! Here are some highlights from 2010, in no particular order:
  • Hiked a 14er - Mt. Bierstadt
  • Trip to Florida
  • Road trip to Santa Fe, NM
  • Trip to New Hampshire and Maine
  • Celebrated the 4th of July in Jackson Hole, WY
  • Canada Trip - Planes, Trains, and Automobiles! Ontario, Montreal, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.
  • Car Camping
  • Hiking!
  • Slacker Half Marathon
  • Wilderness Trekking School
  • Visiting friends and family :)
  • 4 seasons in Colorado!
  • Broke in my snowshoes
  • Having a white Christmas in Georgia, the first since 1882!

Happy New Year! 

Favorite Books Read in 2010

I thought it'd be fun to list and share the books I enjoyed reading the most in 2010:

What were your favorites? Leave your list in the comments (hint hint), or better yet, blog about it and link it here!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reading: The Host

The HostThe Host by Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here is description/intro to the book:
"Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed.
Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves-Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.
Featuring what may be the first love triangle involving only two bodies, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel that will bring a vast new readership to one of the most compelling writers of our time."
I have to agree with other reviewers when they say this is Stephenie Meyer's real masterpiece. The Host is nothing like the Twilight Series (which I loved) and is better written, so people that didn't like Twilight may really like The Host. I'll be honest and say that the first 1/4 of the book bored me silly, but I do think most of it was necessary to set up the rest of the book. It was nothing like I expected, and I was surprised (like I was with Twilight) that I really enjoyed a book about aliens! There's not too much sci-fi, so you don't need to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy this book.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 20, 2010

Getting into the Spirit

I've been in denial about how quickly Christmas is approaching... Maybe it's because we didn't put up a tree this year since we'll be visiting family.

Koda picked her candy cane that Grandma (John's mom) gave her last Christmas out of her toy basket and went to town. It was then that it hit me... Christmas is this week!

I sent this picture to her Grandma,

I'm super excited to see my family in a couple of days. I plan to post closer to Christmas, but just in case... I want to wish you a wonderful holiday!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hike: Chief Mountain

A couple of weeks ago my friend J took me on one of her favorite hikes, Chief Mountain. We were planning to go snowshoeing but unfortunately there wasn't enough snow for snowshoes. Micro-spikes would have been great to have, and I regretted that I didn't have my own pair. So... a few days later I gave REI more of my money and bought Kahtoolas which were highly recommended to me by several people. I can't wait to break them in :). 

Chief Mountain with its peak at 11,709' is a fairly easy, though steep, hike. The short distance classifies this as easy, but I'd call the trail moderate. The trail is 3 miles round trip, with a gain of 1,100' in 1.5 miles.  We were rewarded with spectacular views for being a measly foothill peak! I think this is my new favorite trail to take out of town visitors :). That is, if I can find the unmarked trail on my own. The trailhead for Chief Mountain is ~11 miles west of Bergen Park on Squaw Pass Road... there's a wide shoulder pull off across from an abandoned ski area below.

We could definitely feel the altitude but we took short breaks to catch our breath and take pictures. It was really cold and windy at the top so we didn't stay long. In fact we did an about face and immediately headed back down! Here are some pictures from our hike, it was a bummer that the clouds hid most of the peaks.

We had a great time, I know I'll be going back again and again during different parts of the year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Craft: Painting Pottery

A couple of weeks ago my friend K and I went to one of those places where you pick out a piece of pottery, paint it, and then they fire it for you. We got great coupons through Groupon, so it was a fun, cheap (after coupon) thing to do together. We had so much fun, but it was also kind of stressful for me considering I just hand drew and painted the snowman on my plate (picture below). I'm a perfectionist. I prefer a template and to paint by numbers please. I was going from an example that the store had on display... but I really wanted to ask the person who worked there if she'd draw my snowman for me but I was able to restrain myself. 

We spent 4+ hours in the studio. K was all prepared and knew she wanted a plate and even had a picture of the snowmen she wanted to paint! While I on the other hand had no ideas. I think the first hour was spent figuring out what piece of pottery we wanted, and then paint colors. Plate or mug? Platter or ornament?  The rest of the time we spent drawing out our picture first, and then painting (or rather staining)... it takes 3 coats to get a solid color so that took a while. Here's a picture of my plate after I painted everything 3 times, and then outlined in black. Augh, the outlining... I thought I would pull my hair out!

Freshly Painted
I took the above picture with my iPhone at the studio, and when I showed it to my husband when I got home it dawned on me that my snowman only has one arm! Hahahaaa! So, I'm thinking his other hand is in his pocket, or he only pulls out his arms when he needs them :). K says he's picking a wedgie... Anyway, a week later our plates were all fired and ready to be picked up from the studio. Here's a picture of our finished plates together. Sorry for the crappy picture. I love how K's turned out and all the details! She was a lot braver than me :).

Finished Plates!
I love my plate, and all its imperfections. It's a work of love. I briefly considered giving it as a gift, but I just couldn't do it. Not this one anyway. I mean, who would love my one-armed snowman as much as me?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Natural Silver Cleaner

Last week I was looking through my jewelry and got really frustrated by how my silver jewelry is so tarnished. My body does not like silver, it doesn't take long for me to tarnish it so I try to avoid it for the most part. Of course, I've collected some pieces I really like over the years. I remembered seeing a natural silver cleaner posted on Gorgeously Green's YouTube page and decided to give it a try - it's all natural and CHEAP! I had great results!

Here's how you do it:
  1. Collect your silver jewelry (or actually anything silver you want to clean)
  2. Cover a shallow dish with aluminum foil and sprinkle a generous layer of baking soda
  3. Place jewelry or whatever in the dish and sprinkle again with baking soda, here's a picture of my first batch:

  4. Pour boiling water into dish until items are covered

  5. Let sit for 15-20 minutes
  6. Remove jewelry and wipe with microfiber cloth (be careful of hot water)

Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly LifeHere's the video from Gorgeously Green. This is a YouTube channel I check regularly for ideas, from everything on how to make natural cleaners and ways to use hydrogen peroxide to disinfect my cutting boards. I also have her book which I recommend, Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life.

Give it a try!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Reading: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my. I just finished this book and now I want to go out and buy the second one. Now. I don't think I can wait till it comes in at the library. I couldn't put it down, and stayed up into the wee morning hours reading the past 2 nights.

I was appalled at first by the premise of the book - how the government puts on a game show where kids are chosen as tributes by drawing names out of a bowl. The tributes are then put in an arena and forced to hunt each other down and be the last survivor on live television. Honestly, I didn't think I would like it or want to finish. I loved it. I'm so glad I was curious enough to know what all the fuss was about and requested it from the library.

The Hunger Games is well written with both lovable and despicable characters. It's a story of survival, love, and friendship. I can't remember the last time I've enjoyed a book so much! I highly recommend this book, though I think it more suitable for older teens and adults. This is not a children's book!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Pet Peeve: Unnecessary Packaging

I have to vent. If you don't want to hear another rant on plastic, move on. It's OK, I understand.

Last weekend I finally got a membership to Costco. I spent 3 hours on Sunday browsing the store. I was surprised by the selection of organic foods, and eco-friendly products. However, some of the packaging just killed me. Really Costco, is it necessary to package your fruits and vegetables in plastic? Seriously? I was so angry, I didn't buy apples... even though they had a great selection and good prices. Buying in bulk is a great way reduce packaging, I'm all for it... and then I see this and it makes me want to scream.

I was also disappointed that I bought a bag of frozen chicken breasts, to get home and realize that each breast was individually wrapped. :(

So here I am, trying to figure out how I can convince Costco (and other retailers) that they don't need to package their apples in plastic. For now, I will just not buy them. Next time you see something ridiculously packaged, please consider a different brand, or store to purchase such items.

OK, stepping off my soap box.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Snapshot Wednesday

Things have been quiet around here... I'm in the middle of a couple of projects right now that I'd like to post about but want to wait until they're finished. So, here's some pictures I took of Koda last week with my iPhone :).

She was trying to tell me she was hungry. Hungry eyes!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My 5: Thanksgiving 2010 Edition

Happy Thanksgiving! We are getting ready to go have dinner with extended family. John and I are on dessert duty today so I made Paula Dean's Pumpkin Pie, and John made his family's 60 Second Chocolate Moose Pie and homemade Baileys. Mmmm I can't wait to get my eat'n on... I worked out not once but twice today in preparation for our desserts! Hahaaa... I worked out 30 minutes before settling down with coffee in front of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and then snuck in 25 more minutes once the pumpkin pie was in the oven.

My 5: Thanksgiving 2010 Edition:
  1. Family - immediate and extended, my fabulous in-laws, and the friends I choose as family :).
  2. Koda Bear of course. She never fails to brighten my day with just a look and her fishy dance.
  3. Living in Colorado. I've had my challenges being unemployed, but really it's OK. Just about every time John and I are in the car together, or hiking, or doing whatever we look at each other and say - "we LIVE here!"
  4. My health. After watching both episodes of Biggest Loser this week (which both made me cry),  I'm so thankful that John and I have our health and are able to do activities we enjoy here in Colorado. The episodes were just a reminder that it's never too late to change your life, to do things you never dreamed possible. The body is an amazing thing!
  5. The internet. I know, weird choice... but I've met really great girl friends through this year. I never would have guessed I'd meet true friends this way, but I'm so thankful I did! For more info, check out my previous post about Meetup here.
Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Workout Playlist

Holy crow! Where has this month gone? I can't believe it's been so long since I posted. I need to post an update... I'll just have to catch up for the whole month :). For now, I'm just curious to know what you listen to while running or working out. I haven't run in a while. My excuses? My ankle. The icy paths. Whatever. I have been putting our Free Motion Elliptical to use though! I thought I'd share my playlist in hope you'd share yours with me. This is my new and improved list. I had to say goodbye (temporarily) to SexyBack, Lose Yourself, Pink, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and my others standbys... I needed to shake things up. So here it is:

I've really liked this list on shuffle even though it still has some of my old playlist songs. Mumford & Sons and Muse are new additions. Every time Uprising comes on it makes me grin and I want to clap-clap with every other beat... What gets you going? I'm still looking for new songs to add.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Meal Planning = Fun?

Looky at what I made today! I happened to stumble upon some meal plan templates during my blog hopping today (I wasn't looking for one), and five minutes later I had my very own.

I love it. I want a little easel to hold this... and maybe a different frame, but hey, this is a frame we had stashed in the basement. Literally, I downloaded the template for free here, printed it, grabbed the frame, and put it together in five minutes or less. I love LOVE that with the template behind the glass I can write my meal plan on it with dry erase markers.

I had to run to the Target anyway so I stopped in the home office section and found these beauties. 

Is it weird that when I saw this package of 8 double sided dry erase markers in 16 colors that I clapped my hands with glee? Yes? Oh.

I'm OK with that.

We were pretty good about eating meals at home for a while, but slowly we've fallen back into old habits of eating out 3-4 meals a week. We realized that we're eating out with friends on Friday and Saturday nights, then usually going out or picking up take out once during the week, and then there is the occasional lunch. It doesn't sound so bad, but we all know eating at home is healthier, saves money, and the food is just better (we know where it comes from). My goal is to have a plan for dinners each night of the week, and fill out my meal plan each Sunday. Doing this should save me a ton of time because I will be more prepared with a solid list to go to the grocery store each week (I heart my Grocery iQ app). Also, it will save me the stress and time spent trying to decide each day what I'm going to cook for dinner with the ingredients we have, or having to run to the store again. Now the challenging part will be keeping it up... but I have high hopes. The best part about meal planning is that it will help me be more creative with meals and trying new recipes. Why haven't I done this before? Well, I have half heartedly... meal planning is not a new concept, I just feel like I finally have my act together!

So now that I'm all set up, here is this week's plan (I've linked recipes if I found them online):

Monday: Fillet Mignon wrapped in bacon with roasted asparagus and couscous (today is a special occasion, we don't have fillets often)
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken with brown Jasmine Rice and salad
Wednesday: Slow Cooker Green Chili Pork Tacos
Thursday: Left over Baked Ravioli (defrosted) with salad
Friday: PIZZA, my go-to wheat pizza dough is here
Saturday: Eat out, or leftover tacos
Sunday: Chili with Pumpkin Cornbread. I'm going to re-attempt this chili...

    I'm pretty excited! I should have plenty of leftovers for lunches and to freeze. I may start blogging my meal plans each week... hmm, we'll see. So, are you a planner? What's on your menu this week? Really, I want to know!

    This post is linked up to these link parties:
    Just a Girl's Show and Share Day

    Sunday, November 07, 2010

    Review: The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

    The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme CourtThe Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin

    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    The Nine was my book club's selection for September. To be honest, I'm so glad to have finally finished this book. I feel like I should, but I just don't have much interest in politics. At times this book was torture to make myself read, but I did find some parts interesting. Overall, I'm glad I read (or rather listened) to this book as it gave insight into how the justices are selected, and what goes on behind the law. I do have to say that I did not think that this was written impartially (even if he tried), and Toobin made his agenda clear which put me off about 2/3 through.

    (Posted through

    Revamping Our Dinner Menu

    A couple of weeks ago I felt like boycotting cooking. I was so tired of our regular go-to recipes that I desperately asked for easy recipe suggestions through my facebook status. I only got a couple of suggestions, unfortunately. So I began a search on my favorite cooking (and other life stuff) blog, The Pioneer Woman and her recipe site Tasty Kitchen, and I found some keepers! Here are the ones I've tried so far that I recommend:

    Baked Honey Mustard Chicken
    by wasntmesb. We really liked this dish, the sauce is Yum-O. I served it over brown Jasmine Rice with sweat peas. I'll definitely be making this again.

    Baked Raviolli
    by Amy Lynn

    Slow Cooker Green Chili Pork Tacos by mcmom are next on my list from Tasty Kitchen, I can't wait to try these! I know, not quite a recommendation since I haven't made them yet, but they seem to be a TK user favorite.

    Last week Jessica Seinfeld was on Oprah for the release of her latest cook book and shared some recipes. The one that stood out to me as one I wanted to try was her Crock Pot Lasagna. I had never heard of making lasagna in a crock pot before! I made this last week for guests and it was a hit. I did change up this recipe a bit.. I added beef, used less ricotta, used only 1 heaping Tbsp of oregano (instead of two, since the comments said 2 was too much), halved the salt, and used less red pepper - though I think next time I'd use the full amount. 

    Have you tried a new recipe lately? If you have recommendations please put them in the comments! I'm always looking for good, easy, yummy recipes... and if they are quick AND easy, then that's even better :).

    Sunday, October 31, 2010

    Happy Halloween!

    Happy Halloween! I'm so behind... I still need to run to the store to get candy to hand out tonight, and a strand of halloween lights. Our porch light is not next to our door, but on the other side of the overhang (does that make sense?) so our doorway is always dark. I'm hoping I can find cute lights to hang around our front door!

    Last weekend we had some friends over to carve pumpkins and have a game night. Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures. I mulled some wine and I think it was a hit - I had to make more!

    I'd definitely make this again, but I think I'd cut the sugar in half. Here is the recipe, which I got from here.

    • 2 bottles dry red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
    • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 oranges)
    • 2 more oranges (one to float on top, and one for garnish wedges)
    • 3/4 cup white sugar
    • 1/4 tsp allspice
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 4 cinnamon sticks
    • 4 whole cloves

    Serves 6-8... sort of... it really depends if you want your guests to have a taste, or a bunch. I ended up doubling this recipe.

    Squeeze the oranges to get 1 cup of juice. I'm sure you could get away with using store-bought juice, but the pulp floating around is what's kind of neat about mulled wine; it's more rustic this way. And oranges are in season.

    Pour in the wine, add orange juice, stir in the sugar, and add the ground spices. Float the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves on top. Slice one of the oranges in rings, and float the rings on top.

    Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for 4. You want the wine to get as hot as a traditional hot beverage. 
    Ladle into mugs, and serve with a fresh orange wedge. When serving, leave the lid off and the crockpot on "low."

    Our carved pumpkins
    We had fun carving pumpkins, fishing out the pumpkin seeds (which I totally ruined by making them WAY too salty), and laughing at each other's carving faces. Apparently carving a pumpkin is serious business. No eye blinking!

    OK, I better get going before all the good candy is gone. Have a great Halloween night! I leave you with my favorite Halloween song (in my most evil scientist voice), the Monster Mash.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    I'm a Coloradan

    Peeps, it's official, finally! I can call myself a true resident of Colorado.

    I have...

    ... lived here for 365 days
    ... a Colorado drivers license with my mug on it
    ... the green and white mountain license plate
    ... a ski pass, also with my mug on it
    ... enjoyed all 4 seasons here

    And gosh darn it, I've hiked a 14er! :)

    Here are a few fun facts about Colorado (I got these from a page I tore out of a local magazine a while ago, sorry, but I don't remember the source):

    • Denver has the largest city park system in the nation with 205 parks in City limits and 20,000 acres of parks in the nearby mountains.
    • The 13th step of the state capital building in Denver is exactly 1 mile high above sea level.
    • Colfax Avenue in Denver is the longest continuous street in America. 
    • Katherine Lee Bates wrote "America the Beautiful" after being inspired by the view from Pike's Peak.
    • The highest suspension bridge in the world is over the Royal Gorge Bridge near Canyon City, it spans the Arkansas River at a height of 1,053 ft.
    • Colorado has more microbreweries per capita than any other state. 
    • Colorado has an estimated 54 peaks poking at 14,000 feet above sea level. 

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Random Update

    Happy Hump Day!

    Well, I was hoping to keep blog posts a regular thing... but between being sick and not having much to post about this blog has been neglected recently. AND, I failed to blog about water for Blog Action Day 2010. Oops. I did see that Kate from Twenty-Six 2 Life did a great blog post for BAD, check it out here!

    Not much is going on here... we had Survival Field Day for Wilderness Trekking School last weekend which was fun. We lit all kinds of things on fire (various fire starters, lint, steel wool, and stuff doused with Purell as an accelerant) and set up emergency shelters. I learned that the cheap-o space blankets are not what I want to rely on if I have to bivy under stressful circumstances - while it's storming, cold, or if I'm injured. They are pretty much aluminum foil and are not durable, as in, it would not hold up to a hail storm. As soon as we got home, John and I invested in real bivies from REI. I plan to post about WTS soon, it may end up being one big post we'll see.

    What else... We've been hanging out with friends eating lots of Thai and Sushi - good times! Ooh, I just got a Soft Hea®t Luxury Micro-Fleece Electric Heated Warming Blanket for our bed and it is AWESOME. It's not your mother's electric blanket... it's soft, and the wires are nearly invisible. Yeah... you know when I'm this excited about a blanket and climbing into warm sheets, that there isn't much going on. :)

    This weekend we're having a few friends over to carve pumpkins and have a game night. It should be really fun... I want to keep it casual so we're having grilled cheese (on homemade bread) with various toppings, tomato soup, mulled wine, pumpkin dip... and whatever my peeps decide to bring. I can't wait! Hopefully I'll remember to take some pictures.

    Here's a random fall picture for you... the view from my "office".

    Hope you're having a great week!

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Join in on B.A.D. 2010: Water

    Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15th that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action. 

    Blog Action Day 2010: Water from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

    Please join the global discussion on water, tomorrow October 15th.

    Friday, October 08, 2010

    One Lucky Earring

    Let me tell you a story of an earring... 

    A little dirty, but in perfect condition!
    Five months ago, we took a trip to NH to visit some dear friends of mine, for a visit and a wedding. I took my sapphire earrings with me, the ones John gave me on our first Christmas being married. I had them packed in a jewelry roll, attached to one of those earring holder thingamajigs inside. I thought they were safe. Until I realized there was only one there, with just the backing of the other staring at me. 

    I panicked. I had that feeling where first you freeze, then your insides melt into queasiness. Getting jewelry from the hubs is a rare thing as it is (they're just rocks he says), and this would not help my case. Well, naturally, I tried to retrace where the jewelry roll had been since it was packed... We went to the bachelorette party pretty much right after I got off the plane. We stopped at the house just long enough to change, and I took my make-up bag and jewelry with me to finish getting ready in the car. This means the earring could have been anywhere from inside my carry-on where it was packed, to the door to the garage, the garage, the driveway, the car, and the gravel parking lot in Boston. This was very sobering... I realized the earring was gone when we got back from the party at two in the morning. Nevertheless, my BFF and I were out in the driveway with flashlights, and searching the car in the middle of the night. No luck. The next morning we resumed the search, crawling around the carpeted floor with a flashlight, scouring the driveway and inside the car. We all kept looking for it the rest of the week, but it never turned up.

    A few weeks ago I got a text from T, telling me that her husband found the earring while cleaning! Apparently it was stuck in the runner carpet by the door to the garage. The amazing part is that the carpet had been vacuumed and even shampooed since we were there! I still can't believe he found it, even now after they mailed it back to me, and I have the pair together again. It needs to be cleaned, but otherwise the earring is in perfect condition. Thanks T & G!

    Now that is what I call a lucky earring.

    Wednesday, October 06, 2010

    Wednesday Randomness

    • Mumford & Sons. I love them. They are from the UK. They are my new favorite band. I had no idea who they were until John and I were sitting in the car last week and heard a song on the radio we both really liked. John had me shazam it, and that's how we learned about the song Little Lion Man, that led me to discover Mumford & Sons. Seriously, I liked it so much, I bought the song from iTunes while riding in the car (I wasn't driving!). Here's the video for Little Lion Man... Warning: this isn't the "clean version" there are swear words.

    • I am loving the fall weather! I noticed today that I can open the blinds during the day and the house doesn't spike to a bagillion degrees. I love how much natural light our house gets, but it gets roasting in here in the summer with all the windows. It's nice the rest of the year though, and helps keeps the house warm in the winter - so I won't complain.
    • Did you know that one in fourteen people in the world have a facebook account? It's true peeps. Isn't that crazy? 1 in 14 peeps, in the WORLD. 
    • I think it'd be awesome to work in a think tank for Apple, Google, or facebook. I don't want to write code, I just want to think cool stuff up and help implement the ideas. 

    Tuesday, October 05, 2010

    Hike: Maroon Bells

    Last weekend we took a scenic drive to Aspen to see the Maroon Bells Scenic Wilderness Area in all it's fall beauty. Unfortunately for us, it was hazy so we didn't get clear pictures of the peaks against a bright blue sky like we were hoping... though it did clear up a bit by mid-afternoon. I think I got a couple of good pictures. John took his DSLR but of course, I haven't seen those pictures yet. These were taken with my point and shoot.

    We hiked the Scenic Loop, and parts of the Maroon Creek and Crater Lake trails. We had a really relaxing day just enjoying fall in Colorado. On the way back we made Independence Pass part of our route. It was a beautiful drive (there and back), and we can't wait to go back and spend more time there.

    When we were hiking the scenic loop, going through an Aspen grove, I couldn't help but take this little video clip of the "raining" leaves...

    What are you doing to celebrate fall? Going apple picking, or to a pumpkin patch? A festival? 

    Sunday, October 03, 2010

    Got Talus?

    The other day, I posted about our class hike in Eldorado Canyon State Park. Well, when we were at Maroon Bells, I saw this slope and snapped a quick shot so I could show you an example. This is a slope of talus. Boulders are bigger, scree is smaller and more gravelesque (yes, I just made that word up). I am happy to say that we did not climb up this hill.

    I'm still sorting through my pictures that I took at Maroon Bells... but here's Koda wishing you a happy October too. 

    Hope you had a great weekend! 

    Friday, October 01, 2010

    Happy October!

    We celebrated the 1st of October in Aspen, Colorado enjoying the view of Maroon Bells and the fall foliage.

    We hiked the scenic loop and parts of other nearby trails. I hope we got some good pictures! More to come...

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Hike: Rattlesnake Gulch Trail

    Last weekend we hiked in Eldorado Canyon State Park along the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail, a moderately difficult trail that goes up to the Crags Hotel ruins, and on to the loop at the top for a total of 3.6 miles RT. Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures, and somehow managed to not take a picture of the continental divide at the top.

    This was a class hike (which is a whole other post), so we had to stop a lot to spend some time practicing skills. For instance, as a side trip (not part of the trail), we scrambled up a boulder field, crossed over it (boulders and talus which all moved), and then went down the scree... Some people do this for fun and call it "screeing". Basically, you are "screeing" by balancing on your feet and letting the loose scree take you down the rock slope. The key as we learned, is to relax and just go with the flow of rock.  Honestly, if I wasn't so worried about my ankle the entire time, I may have enjoyed it more... as I kinda like climbing boulders. But really, I think I learned enough about going down scree to know that I want to avoid it as much as possible. The purpose of the exercise was to get familiar with this type of terrain, and gain some confidence. This is common terrain when climbing mountains above tree line (like 13ers and 14ers). I really, really wish I had pictures of the boulder field and scree we went down to show you. It was pretty impressive I think :).

    You can see a little of the boulder field at the bottom of this picture
    We also practiced finding our location on a topographic map by doing triangulation with our compasses. I think I'm actually better at finding myself on the map by just using sight, than using compass bearings. But I was able to get myself "on the dime", in other words... close enough. The engineer in me wanted to be able to mark my precise spot. Oh well, it was easy enough to recognize my actual location from the plotted bearings, and I can see myself using this as a sanity check.

    View from the loop at the top, looking East toward Boulder
    Eldorado Canyon State Park is a beautiful area, I'd really like to go back and spend some time there.

    Movie: Life As We Know It

    Image by Warner Bros
    Last night, I had the opportunity to see a sneak peak of the movie Life As We Know It. It was a really good, cute movie, and did I mention the ticket was free? Considering movie prices are $9 around here, I call this a SCORE! Never mind that I spent as much on popcorn and a bottle of water...

    LAWKI is about two single people that become guardians for their mutual best friends' daughter after they die in an accident. This movie made me laugh a lot, and it also made me cry just a little. I have to say it was predictable, but that wasn't a bad thing for me. I really enjoyed it, and recommend this movie! So girls, grab your girlfriends and go. Heck, I think it's funny enough that the guys would like it too... or at least not hate it :). It comes out in theaters October 8th.

    I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars.

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010

    For the Love of Reading

    This year, I decided to embrace my preference to read young adult (YA) fiction. I don't care if you book snobs look down on me. I enjoy reading them, and gosh darn it, I'm going to read what I want :). I've easily increased my reading tenfold. Instead of trudging through some book media/society thinks I should read that just puts me to sleep at night, I fly through books now. Really, I read all sorts of books - from children/teen/YA to best selling fiction, from mysteries to select pieces of non-fiction - but my favorite genre right now is YA. Maybe this is a phase, who knows. I haven't read this much since before college. I realize this is mostly because I'm not working right now, but hey, I'll take it!

    This is what I call a successful trip to the library:

    31 Bond Street
    [Note: links go to book's page on which has description and reviews, images are linked to Amazon.]

    First of all the library actually had two books that I was looking for, the most important being my neighborhood book club book for October - 31 Bond Street, by Ellen Horan. Now I don't have to read the pdf version on my monitor. I downloaded the ebook from the library but it was DRM protected so I couldn't put it on my Kindle (at least not legally) - boo. I'm pretty excited about this book. It's a mystery, and historical fiction based upon some factual information. It's about the murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell, which was supposedly one of the biggest news stories in the United States before the Civil War.
    The Host: A Novel
    The library also had The Host, by Stephenie Meyer, though only the audio version. I've had The Host on my "to read" list for a while. The others I randomly picked up as I scanned the shelves. If I see an audiobook I want to read/listen to sometime in the future sitting on the shelf, I grab it. Mainly because the likelihood of it being there when I'm ready for it is usually slim. I just upload them to my computer and save them for a later date. Some people do not like audiobooks, they just don't like being read to... for me, I see it as another way to engross myself in a story. I listen to them while working out, showering and getting ready for the day, cleaning the house, doing dishes, and while driving. Though I admit, not all of the people chosen to narrate the books are created equal. I've heard some really, really bad ones, and some truly great ones.

    Extras (Uglies)Extras by Scott Westerfeld is a good example of a book I'll eventually read, but not ready for yet. It's the 4th book in the Uglies series, though I've only read the first book so far, Uglies. I found it to be a pretty interesting sci-fi, set in the future. Basically, everyone is required to get plastic surgery at age 16 to transition from an "ugly" to a "pretty" in order for everyone to have an even playing field... and to maintain peace. However in the process, your personality is also altered. It was a fun read with just the right amounts of action, suspense, comedy, and romance. It's followed by Pretties, Specials, and then Extras.

    All Unquiet ThingsAll Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab looked familiar from my browsing on So I looked it up on my goodreads app while at the library and it got pretty good reviews, so home it went with me.

    Something, MaybeSomething, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott was a random selection, and now that I read some of the reviews I think I'm going to really like the main character.

    If interested, you can connect with me on goodreads: