Saturday, May 15, 2010

The New Crystal Light?

Wow. I just saw this add in the April issue of Self Magazine (I'm behind on my reading...) for Crystal Light PureFitness.

I'm not sure if it's in stores yet, because the add says "Coming soon. Can't wait? Go to". I'm not sure if you can make out the text in the picture but it claims to have no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives, and has electrolytes to help rehydrate. Hmm... I'm usually fine with just water but I've been thinking about what to do for longer, more strenuous hikes... So I am really curious to check this out! I wonder what it is sweetened with (stevia?), and what are the ingredients - straight forward short list or things I can't pronounce?

If it's not sugary it sounds like something I may want to use in my camelpak for long hikes. Anyone know anything about this product yet? I would google it but I'm on a plane at the moment.

I love how products are responding to consumers wanting to live healthier. My mom was diabetic so I grew up on artificial sweeteners, mostly aspartame. It wasn't until I was in my mid-20s that I discovered I was highly sensitive to aspartame, and that it was causing me to have never ending headaches and migraines. That stuff is evil as far as I'm concerned. So I hope PureFitness is really as good as it claims.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Painting with Liquid Courage

Last night, my neighbor/friend P and I went to a place called Canvas & Cocktails, where we were walked through how to paint "Golden Poppies". Thankfully, no experience is necessary... and we had a BLAST! It helps that they serve wine and beer (along with non-alcoholic drinks), some snacks, and blare some pretty good music while you paint (everything from Lady Gaga to Journey to Bon Jovi). Nothing like having some liquid courage and music to "get loosened up and those creative juices flowing", especially for those Type A's like me. Have I mentioned that I haven't painted since elementary school?

Getting set up...
Canvas - check, brushes - check, paint - check, wine - CHECK!

My half done painting...
P's half done painting...
A refill of liquid courage is necessary to finish our masterpieces.
My friend P's masterpiece!
My completed masterpiece!
I love how we were following the same instructions and sitting next to each other, yet ended up with 2 very different paintings. I'm guessing there were about 30 people in the class, and all the paintings were different... some people even changed up the colors to have a yellow background with red poppies. I'm still not sure what I think of my painting, but I do know that I had so much fun! So much so, that P and I (and maybe M?) are planning on signing up for a painting class this summer. :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Snow... in May!

This was taken around 11AM when the snow was mostly melted. I'm guessing we got about 1", maybe 2" of snow last night. Yes, it is May 12th. That's Colorado for you... I LOVE it! Even if it messed with my plans for planting flowers in my window boxes and starting my vegetable garden.

It's supposed to be back in the 70s again by the weekend, so it's all good. My only concern is our trees... I hope they haven't freaked out and decide to loose their leaves! Here's a picture taken a couple of days ago of our flowering tree when the temperature was in the high 60s... it's in full bloom.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Santa Fe: The City Different

Do you know the way to Santa Fe?
You know, tumbleweeds...prairie dogs...
~ "Santa Fe", from the musical RENT

Last Thursday, we packed up the car and hit the road to Santa Fe with our friend and city tour guide Brian.  We took the scenic route along 285, and although it was mostly cloudy the sun eventually broke through and we stopped to take some pictures as we passed a bunch of 14'ers. What to say about that stop sign... grrr.

Eventually, the road straightened out and the only interesting things to pass was sage brush, farms (including a solar farm), cows with their calves, horses with their colts, pigs, geese, Colorado Gators (yes, they have alligators here?!), and the Great Sand Dunes. I would have loved to have stopped at the dunes but there was no time on this trip. We did stop for lunch at the Brown Burro Cafe in Fairplay (in the area that South Park is based upon), where I got yummy breakfast food. Definitely worth a stop if you're ever passing through the area. That was just the beginning of our weekend food fest... seriously, every single meal on this trip was good. So good, that I gained 2 lbs while we were there (thankfully it's back off now). 

We crammed most of this trip in 2 days since our driving days were Thursday and Sunday. Thankfully we had Brian to show us the highlights! Once we arrived in Santa Fe we headed straight to Tomasita's, a former railroad station, to have a yummy dinner of Chicken Enchiladas served flat with green chile, and sopaipillas drizzled with honey - DELISH! This is how my love affair with New Mexican food began...

Friday's agenda included: breakfast burritos (with green chile of course) at the Santa Fe Baking Co. Cafe; walking downtown Santa Fe through snow flurries (oh yes, in late April!); the Palace of the Governors; the New Mexico History Museum; lunch at The Burrito Co. Cafe (yummy chicken taco salad with red chile salsa); and the Museum of Indian Arts & Cultures on Museum Hill. Then we met up with Brian's family and had dinner at Il Vicino for some fire oven pizza.

Saturday we braved the weather turning bad and headed up to Bandelier National Monument to hike among the cliff dwellings of the ancestral Pueblo people. For me, this was the highlight of the trip! It was great walking through this area after learning about it's history the day before. We barely made it around the main loop and long house before the clouds, wind, and snow rolled in (it is May people!), but we did it! If you are ever in the Santa Fe area, this is a must see. It's only about an hour away from the city.

Here are pictures from Bandelier (click to open album on Picasa to see the details of these pictures!):

Oh, I was so excited to tell you Bandelier, that I almost forgot to tell you about the rest of our Saturday! Well, we had a fantastic breakfast at The Chocolate Maven. I had the cottage cakes with blueberry-rhubarb compote and cranberry-orange chutney, and the best Cafe Mocha I have ever tasted. When we got back from Bandelier we had lunch at the French Pastry Shop and Creperie where I had the spinach, mushroom, and chicken crepe... mmm.... Then we walked around down town Santa Fe and checked out the art (I have never seen so much art in one little town in my life). Then we went to the Jackalope, which is a huge market with all kinds of interesting things. My favorite part of Jackalope was watching the glass blowing (and I had to buy few glass things to bring home). To end the day, we met up with Brian's family for dinner at La Choza, where I had the chicken stuffed sopaipilla with green chile. So so yummy, I miss those sopaipillas!

Here are some pictures of the drive and of Santa Fe:

Sunday after breakfast at the Santa Fe Baking Co. we headed home. Because of the weather we decided to take I-25 back to Denver. We stopped in Trinidad, a little old coal mining town to have lunch at the Bella Luna Pizzeria where I had the Mean Mica Salad which was good.  I wasn't expecting the I-25 route to be so scenic, it was a good drive until we hit snow and traffic around Colorado Springs. But really, what a great trip. We are so thankful to have had a tour guide - thank you Brian! If you're ever in Santa Fe, and only have a few days, I highly recommend our itinerary and especially the restaurants. 

So, where have you been lately? I wanna know! :)

VOTW: Curtains for the Office Doors

Over on one of my fav blogs to read Design-Aholic, Amy holds a weekly "Victory of the Week" link-up.  I missed out on last week's because I finished my VOTW the night before we left town for the weekend. So... I'm going to try and sneak it in this week. 

My little (or really, huge for me) victory of the week (VOTW) was making my own curtains for our office doors.  I was inspired to make my own after seeing other bloggers do it themselves. After looking at other's tutorials, I had it all figured out - buy fabric and no sew seam tape, and 20 min later I'd be done. 

Yeah RIGHT! 

I should know by now to multiply the estimated time for project completion by 6 (at least).  It could possibly have been easier if I had chosen different fabric, but no, I chose the shear silky fabric that can't be ironed (so I couldn't use the no sew seam stuff). Yeah, that would be me. I don't have a sewing machine (much less know how to use one), and I don't sew.  BTW, the fabric color is hard to see in this picture but it's a taupe or champagne color that goes well with our entry way rugs. 

That's where my friend M came to my rescue... she not only let me use her sewing machine, but taught me how to use it and helped me measure and pin the first panel. I am so thankful, because after a couple few hours over a couple of days, voila! We have curtains to hide the sometimes mess of my husband's office, YAY! This is huge, because his office is the first thing you see when you enter our house and it was driving. me. crazy.

Let's all just forget that I fell in love with the bamboo/grass/natural whatever shades that I saw used for this purpose at our friend's home in Santa Fe last weekend. OK? OK. 

Hurray for the little victories :). Happy Friday - have a great weekend!

~ Jen

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

JO's TED Prize Wish

Jamie Oliver's TED Prize Award Speech:

"I wish for everyone to help create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity." 
~ Jamie Oliver, TED 2010
If you share this wish, please sign Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Petition here.

Some other TED talks that I have found fascinating and inspiring are:

Monday, May 03, 2010

Spring's Little Surprises

Happy belated May Day! We spent this past weekend in Santa Fe, NM and on May Day were hiking among the cliff dwellings in Bandelier National Monument. I will be blogging about our trip soon, and will probably be breaking it up into a few posts because there is so much to share! 

I have been meaning to share pictures of the flowers popping up in our yard this spring... it has been interesting to watch as this is the first spring we've spent in our new house. Everything is a surprise... now if I can just keep them all alive! I tried looking up the blooms I don't know with little luck. I'm going to have take pictures to our local nursery to learn more.

Daffodils, a little worn after the snow the night before...
Tulips, with it's poor leaves nibbled by the bunnies.
Bright pink tulips!
More tulips... with a view of the "lake" in the background.
Flowering tree (what kind?) outside our kitchen window! 
Beautiful! The buds are all blooming now.... need to take an updated picture.
Flowering bush in our front yard.  I think it may actually be a plum tree but not sure.
An unfocused picture of the pretty ground cover in our front yard flower beds. 
Earth laughs in flowers.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Hamatreya"

We also have a ton of bunnies, birds, and ducks around here along with a few snakes. Right after we moved in, a bunch of trees and ground behind our house (not IN our yard) were removed because it's supposed to be an area for water retention and drainage and apparently it was out of code for some time. I don't remember the lingo... but we were so sad and I was a bit (OK a lot) angry to see the trees ripped out. Never mind the fact that a few trees became many trees *sigh*. Well, now we have a pond... and a couple of weeks ago when we had a lot of rain, it was more like a lake. So now we joke that we have waterfront property! I have warmed up to our lake, as we now have Canadian Geese and ducks enjoying the water... Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the geese yet. But here are a few that were taken in our yard.
Taken through a window since Koda (or me) would scare it away.
One of the many kinds of birds, not sure what kind it is yet.
This guy likes to hang out next to the garden bed.

We've found a few snake skins since moving in... which I think are cool. As long as they're not poisonous, I think snakes are a good thing (I know, I'm weird).

So what changes have you been seeing around your house this spring? I'm glad to say that the short bursts of snow we've had recently (which don't stick or melt quickly) haven't seem to damage our flowers. I haven't planted anything new yet... I'm waiting until mid-May when supposedly there is no risk of frost. I have plans for a vegetable garden, and pansies in our window boxes!