On Friday afternoon, my sister and I headed on a mini-roadtrip to Aspen, armed with Redbull and all the winter layers we own. Our destination was the 15th Winter X Games at Buttermilk Mountain, where winter extreme athletes from around the world compete and where our favorite band, Twenty One Pilots, was playing.
Parking filled up quickly and we had to use our superior female intelect to find sneaky parking at the local middle school and shuttled to the mountain. We had a crazy amazing night of singing and dancing on the side of the mountain and walked 4+ miles back to the car instead of waiting for the packed shuttles. We channeled our inner Bear Grylls and crawled into expedition rated sleeping bags (thanks, Dad) in the back of the Subaru and “slept” for a few hours in the school lot, to be awoken by a dusting of snow and plows at 5am.
Loopy and just a little exhausted, we made our way into Aspen in search of caffeine and a bathroom (because peeing on snowbanks sucks!). We came across a little bakery (The Main Street Bakery and Cafe) on the main drag and headed in, figuring Starbucks would be packed with ski traffic.
I am so glad we did! We were greeted by the heavenly smell of baked goods and fresh coffee and seated near the window with a view of the snowy street before us. A pastry case full of beautiful croissants and danishes, bagels, muffins, coffee cakes, fresh bread, cinnamon rolls lined the front counter. We were brought our coffee and a beautiful white chocolate mocha, the foam infused with white chocolate-y goodness and ordered ham and swiss croissants. Still warm from the oven, the cheese was gooey and the pastry so incredibly flaky. The staff was so sweet and the atmosphere so beautiful. It reminded us of a bakery we stopped at in Florence and we reminiced and refueled and were on our way for a day of exploring.
I love Aspen. It can come off as hoity toity and yes, everything is ridiculously overpriced and the parking is nuts and it can be generally overwhelming, but its also a very sweet atmosphere. The quaint old buildings, the locals at the coffee shop and playing in the park with their dogs, the connection to the outdoors. I was so glad to get to share the city with my sister!
It’s that feeling, ingrained deep in your soul. The restlessness, the need for open roads and open skies, new places, new faces.
Its the desire to experience everything the world has to offer. Everything life has to offer.
I’ve struggled with wanderlust since I was little. As a kid, its easier to fulfill that burning desire. You can lose yourself in made-up worlds, run wild around the neighborhood, write stories to your heart’s content.
As I grew older and getting lost in my own head became less acceptable, that burning desire grew. I came across the word “wanderlust” and loved it.
But as I browsed pictures on Instagram and read blogs of all these true ‘wanderlusters’ I felt like maybe it didn’t apply to me. Maybe that’s not what I was feeling.
Because inherently, I’m scared. I hate change. The idea of moving away from Denver, away from my dad and sister and friends, the familiar places, scares me to death. On particularly mundane days, I research jobs in far away places and convince myself that next summer I’ll do it. Next summer I’ll move. But then reality washes over me and I realize that taking a different route home from work gives me anxiety.
This year, however, I’ve begun to realize that being scared, wanting a stable job, loving the city I live in doesn’t make my wanderlust any less real. I can be a wanderluster from my office. I don’t have to travel the globe and sleep in brothels, I can have a steady relationship and live on the grid.
What makes wanderlust real is the need to get out there, to experience it all. To leave the mundane behind. I get outside every weekend. I fill my lungs with fresh air and let my soul dance with the wind. I get wild hairs and go on drives at 11 o’clock on a work night. We never go to the same restaurant twice and I cook a new dish nearly every night. I daydream about the trips I’m going to take, I create, I plan, I dream, I scheme.
The mundane isn’t going to cut it for me.
I’ve been doing a lot of yoga lately, and I’m realizing that I need to breathe more, to be okay with where I am now, to accept what I am and who I am and dig deeper to create a better reality for myself.
Worrying about what I am and who I am and if I fit into the categories I want to put myself in is not what life is about.
I am excited to push myself this year, to breathe into my wanderlust and not play this tug of war game I’ve been playing since I was a teenager–throwing myself into it feet first, and then hiding from it.
I have some big things planned this year. I’m going to push my limits, to embrace my fear and use it to grow.
This is the face of my new blog, my new journey. Wanderlust with me. Breathe into it. Don’t fight it.
***Check out my blog’s new name, design and shop feature. My handlettering is live on Etsy! Use the code, IREADTHEBLOG for 10% off because I love it when people read my stuff! Which means I love you!
As 2015 draws to a close, I feel the need to commemorate it in words, as I do most things. We sent our Christmas cards this year, but didn’t do a conventional Christmas letter, me feeling like we’re a bit of an unconventional family.
So, instead, here it is. My 2015 re-cap for you. I promise if you read the whole thing, there’s some goodies tucked away at the end!
I started 2015 freshly graduated from CU Boulder with a BA in International Relations. At that point, I was working at Golden Goods, a toy and candy shop in downtown Golden and Topher was waiting tables at Thai Gold, also in downtown Golden.
Being graduated gave me some time for travel in January, which was much needed! I joined Topher and his family for a long weekend in Breckenridge in early January and I met my mom in San Francisco for another long weekend. I fell in love with the city all over again. Perfect weather, lots of good food, mother-daughter bonding time and the longest walk of my life from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge in Tom’s. It was lovely!
Upon my return, I accepted an internship at the Arapahoe County DA’s office doing a gang analysis project with one of my dad’s long-time friends. It was an incredibility interesting experience and it made by 12 year old wanna-be-international-spy heart very happy!
April was a very busy month for us!
We hosted 12 people for Easter dinner in our tiny apartment. It was quite an adventure but we were very proud of ourselves!
I switched gears a bit and left the toy store and the DA’s office for a job at Guaranteed Rate, a mortgage company in Wash Park, thanks to another friend-connection. I am so grateful for everyone we know–friendship really does make the world go round!
Topher finally decided that college was not for him. He withdrew from classes at Community College of Denver and began working pretty much full time.
My mom and her husband, Bob, came to visit as well and we enjoyed a long weekend of hiking, exploring downtown and fellowship!
The beginning of summer was crazy rainy here! We did our best to get outside, but all the creeks and lakes were flooded and it was chilly and overcast for most of May and June.
This summer was a hard one in many ways.
Over 4th of July weekend, my little sister Gianna picked up and moved to Oregon spur of the moment. She has been my very best friend since the moment she was born and it ripped my heart out to see her go, even though I was excited for her new adventure!
In July, Topher parted ways with the Thai restaurant and went through a stint of unemployment and unhappiness that lasted pretty much through October. I am of the mindset that quality of life always comes first. If you can’t stand the job you’re at, there’s not much purpose to your life. Although we tried our hardest to see the best in things, it was a tough summer both emotionally and financially.
Summer does always bring good things too. We went on some fantastic camping and hiking trips, Sally’s sister, Lindsay, came out for a weekend and became an instant Aunt, I celebrated by 21st birthday, we discovered we love to canoe, my friend Markie and I picked up yoga and decided we fail epically at paddleboarding, we bought a rock-solid Subaru!
I said goodbye to my best friend Ben as he started at the College of Idaho, which was another sad moment!
In July I got promoted at work from being an Operations Assistant to a Closing Facilitator (basically putting out all the fires before a loan goes into closing!) which came with a raise and monthly bonus, which was very much appreciated!
The very best part of the summer was another crazy long weekend trip with my dad. Since Topher and I had had to cancel our two-years-in-the-planning road trip, my dad decided he and I should go to Yellowstone. My dad’s been talking about a Yellowstone trip ever since I can remember and it was really awesome to go on a daddy-daughter road trip (something we haven’t done since Gianna was born!) We camped and hiked to the most beautiful lake in the Tetons. We explored Yellowstone and saw bison and elk and had the most amazing evening walk in the geyser field, with so many of them going off together right at sunset. It was definitely the trip of a lifetime!
Gianna returned to Colorado in late August and, although the circumstances were not awesome, I am so incredibly stoked to have my sissy back. I swear I will never again take for granted having her 15 minutes away!
In September my childhood best friend, Shelby, came down from Nebraska for a weekend visit and it was so nice to catch up with her!
In October, Topher and I went up to Aspen for the weekend to see the leaves change and I also went out to Oregon for a few days to visit my mom. We saw Bend and Newport and I got to see her farm, which was great!
In early October Topher started a part-time gig at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, running a tele-prompter for a show. Although it was only part time, I’ve never seen him happier. Theatre is his true passion and the change of jobs was night and day. When the show ended, he was asked to fill in an over-hire position building sets at the scene shop and, although technically still “over-hire” its turned into a Monday through Friday, 8-5 job! Its a lot of manual labor and he comes home tired and sore, but with the biggest grin on his face. Since high school, this has been his dream job and he’s finally made it! He would love to one day get into a smaller theatre where he has some more creative say, but he is very happy and hoping the job holds out!
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with Sally’s sister coming out and we celebrated Topher’s 21st birthday.
I feel like the holidays absolutely flew by, although they were a lot fun. I didn’t realize being an adult means having two solid weeks of Christmas parties and being gifted crazy quantities of wine by co-workers! Not too bad!
And here we are, December 30th. A crazy, long year is coming to a close. Topher and I are both content in our jobs, we’re happy living in Golden (although we’re putting our foot down and moving out of our drafty apartment in 2016!), and we just celebrated our 4 year anniversary. He truly is, the love of my life. McKenzie dog is still doing great, though slowing down a bit. She takes lots of naps in between playing in the snow and going on adventures. She will be 10 in January!
In 2016, I hope to travel a lot more. We’re already booked to go to New Orleans in March and I hope to get to Santa Fe with my sister and Banff with Topher. I want to canoe on Lake Louise!
I don’t quite know where the new year will take us, we’ve thought about moving, I’ve thought about changing job fields to something that matters a bit more. Wherever we end up though, I know we’ll be there together and I hope its accompanied by lots of laughter and adventure!
Have a wonderful and adventurous 2016 friends, family and random internet people!
(Now the fun stuff, as promised!)
My favorite restaurant discoveries of 2015
Mercantile-Denver, Union Station (see previous blog post)
I hate making sandwitches at home, so getting one out is always sort of a special treat. I know many of you may live on sandwitches five days a week, so I’ve come up with my three favorite, show stopper sandwitch joints in the metro area:
#1 Mercantile Dining & Provisions
Located in Denver’s coolest building, Union Station, Mercantile is a bit of everything; boasting a cheese and meat counter, meat curing room, coffee bar, everything from homeade pickles to homeade juices and a full service restaurant. You’ll never want to leave. Pro Tip: Split the Italian with a friend and leave room to sample a few cheeses.
Situated on Golden’s Washington Avenue, D’Deli is home to scores of crazy sandwitch combinations. Play it safe with classic combos like turkey and banana peppers or go for the wild side with toppings like nutella. Pro tip: Avoid at prime lunch time or you’ll be waiting in line and eating on the curb.
#3 Tom and Chee
In the shops at Southglenn, Tom and Chee is any carb and cheese lovers’ dream. A whole restaurant devoted to the grilled cheese sandwitch. Stop in after ice skating or shopping and warm up with their classic grilled cheese combos, or a crazy grilled cheese donut! Pro tip: Order a tomato soup dipper with your sandwitch; just enough to try the soup without filling up!
Yesterday’s attacks in Paris are at the front of all of our minds and hearts.
We’re remembering the horror the US felt on 9/11, we have friends or family in Paris, we’re remembering a vacation we once took there. We’re feeling compassion. We’re feeling fear. Whether we realize it our not, our hearts sped up a little as we heard the news. Because it hits a little too close to home.
Fear is the heart of terrorism. It is the goal. The goal is not to kill people. The goal is not to destroy. The goal is to instill fear. Because fear is a nasty, contagious virus that will destroy all by itself.
Fear takes over. It envelopes all the beautiful things about life. Terrorist attacks make us fearful of Muslims. Of Arabs. Of anyone that looks like they come from “over there”. Cop shootings make us fearful of the people pulling us over, the people protecting our schools and neighborhoods. Incidents like Ferguson make whites scared of blacks and blacks scared of whites. Elections make conservatives afraid of liberals and liberals afraid of conservatives. LGBTQ fear the religious right and vice versa. Young women fear the old men making laws about their bodies and old men fear the women changing their world.
We might not identify what we’re feeling as fear, but the symptoms are well felt everywhere. Fear breeds hate. It breeds violence. It breeds separation.
That is not what 2015 should look like. That is not what the free world should look like. Humanity must not give into the fear that threatens it daily. Instead, we must fight it with the one thing fear can never break.
We must love and respect and stand up for all our fellow humans. Muslim, cop, black, white, liberal, conservative, LGBTQ, religious right, young woman, old man.
We must set aside our petty issues and stand up to the real threats to humanity. We must unite as a people and crush radicalism. Crush racism. Crush human slavery and civil war, environmetal degradation, poverty, hunger, the opression of women.
We must not let fear tear us apart.
So as we pray for Paris and the horror the French people are going through, please, do not eye suspiciously your Muslim neighbor. Please do not fear the man in the turban at the airport. Please try to turn every hateful feeling you have today into love. Please quit looking at what makes you so different and focus on what makes you similar. What unifies you.
We are all humans and we all have a duty to crush the fear that faces us every day.
Paris, my heart goes out to you and I stand with you against the fear.
95% of the time I open my Snapchat app, the camera is facing my lap and I get an extreme close up of whatever I’m wearing.
I’ve begun noticing the patterns and textures of the threads. Its really wuite beautiful.
This week I took close up texture photos of what I was wearing every day in the natural light at the park. I think they’re pretty neat.
Don’t forget to look closer. And enjoy every day you can in the sun!
If you’re like me and have a hard time getting out the door with coffee and a lunch, let alone showered and having eaten breakfast this recipe is one you’ll use over and over.
Packed with good-for -you ingredients, quick, warm and delicious, this super food oatmeal is a go-to fall breakfast.
Steel cut oats
Nut butter of choice (I use peanut)
Pumpkin pie spice (or nutmeg/cinnamon blend)
Fruit of choice (I prefer berries or bananas)
Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of steel cut oats to a small mason jar. Add a generous layer of chia seeds, and a small handful each of walnuts and pepitas. Add a dollop of nut butter and honey and pumpkin pie spice to taste (remember these are the ingredients flavoring the oats-be generous!)
Add ~3/4 – 1 1/4 cups boiling water (add extra to the kettle when you’re making coffee for a timesaver) You may have to play with the water ratio. Generally, steel cut outs are 2 parts water to 1 part oats, but the gelling chia seeds will use up some water as well. Usually, I just pour in water until the layer of liquid on top is equal to the layer of solids.
Put fruit in a tupperware or ziploc, chopped if necessary. Screw lid on tight. Once at work (depending on commute time. Mine is ~40 minutes from kitchen to desk) the oatmeal should have absorbed most of the liquid. If not, pour off excess or let stand longer. If desired, microwave for 30 seconds to a minute, or enjoy room temperature. Add fruit before eating!
When my boyfriend isn’t home for dinner, I experiment.
My stepmom says it’s creativity and I’m creating recipes. I say, I’m following my taste buds which isn’t always fruitful.
Anyways, I thought I’d share tonight’s soup “recipe” since it was surprisingly good. Try at your own risk!
Warning: Not very pretty!
1/4 of a butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, cubed
A handful of baby carrots
1/3 can black beans, rinsed
Chopped bacon, pepitas, sour cream for garnish optional
Drizzle butternut squash and carrots with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast at 450° for 20-30 minutes (until squash is tender).
Combine squash, carrots and beans in a saucepan and add stock, not covering vegetables, but giving them enough liquid to work with. Add seasonings to taste, going very easy on the cayenne as you don’t want to overpower the soup. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 10 minutes or so.
Let cool slightly and puree in a blender until smooth.
Reheat gently. Serve with assorted garnish.
I’ve been on a butternut squash kick lately and the beans give this soup has such a dreamy texture. I’m going to play around with garnish options soon–thinking about subbing feta or maple syrup for the sour cream. Maybe adding in some hot sauce!
Wondering how to use up the rest of that squash? Check out my favorite recipes below!