4th of July & a Birthday Staycation

We have been off from work since 3:45 PM on Thursday and I am definitely experiencing “WHAT DAY IS IT??” syndrome.  Feels as if a whole lifetime — a lifetime that included a hail storm, a grill feast, the wonderful third season of Stranger Things, a morning coffee shop trip, a delivery of wood for our deck, a manicure, dinner at The Preservery, breakfast and the Farmers’ Market, a 7-minute ride on the light rail, a full day of acting like a tourist in our own city (more on that soon) and that Sunday night feeling of going to bed with a heart full of gratitude.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

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Got our firework fix at the Rockies game on Wednesday night

Maybe you’re one of those people that can’t fathom the idea of working on the 4th of July or maybe you’re like me and would rather have the 5th of July off and get an extra long weekend.  So we worked Thursday, but skipped out a bit early, hit up Home Depot for flowers, got home to plant them and then watched them get beat up in a totally weird hail storm??  Oh well, they looked pretty for a minute there!

We had to wait out the rain before we could grill dinner and then it had to be an indoor Independence Day Feast but it was okay because our lamb was amazing — let’s forget the moments of terror as we cooked these over an unusually flame-y grill — and also because I maybe wanted to watch Stranger Things anyway 😛

Andi didn’t seem to mind the fireworks last year but our neighbors were setting off some extra noisy ones that kept occasionally flying into our yard and our pup was not exactly having it.  We caved and let him sleep in our bed with us!

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Feta Yogurt Dip with watermelon (that I didn’t know was yellow until I cut into it!)

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Armenian Lamb and Grilled Vegetables with pita

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We had a plan to start our day off on the rooftop at Blue Sparrow and it was momentarily wonderful but we had to rush out when our Lowe’s delivery showed up with a bundle of wood for the deck Joey is building us.  Please give me full credit for helping move all the wood into our garage.  We probably could have been productive afterward but instead… more Stranger Things!  I did eventually have to make it to a manicure appointment though and get this, on my walk over to Base Coat, an older man in a convertible pulled up beside me and said “need a ride?”  Are you serious??

Anyway, after my color changing polish mani, we took our pup over to my parents’ then took ourselves to dinner at The Preservery.  I’d maybe been saying I wanted to go there since it opened… three years ago.  It was GREAT!  Back at home, we watched all but the final episode of Stranger Things which, in retrospect sounds insane, but I was definitely going to fall asleep during the finale if we continued on.

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A Saturday Staycation!  Look, I know some people like to go big for their 30th birthday, but that ain’t me.  I was more into the idea of a weekend trip, but then I remembered how much time it takes to travel and decided a staycation sounded best!  We looked into a handful of Denver hotels and landed on The Maven because we thought it would be cool to have a balcony overlooking downtown Denver, be within walking distance of Union Station and the MCA, and have so many good food options right at our fingertips.  I think it was the perfect choice!

First things first, though.  We biked over to the Farmers’ Market per usual but then did the unusual and had breakfast at Mercantile.  Turns out they have a pretty great little menu and it’s a casual order-at-the-counter-and-seat-yourself set up so we got to enjoy our food out on their patio.  Joey complained that it’s NOT a calzone unless it’s all closed up but looked pretty good to me, plus my ricotta pancakes were delicious!  Most importantly, peaches have arrived at the FM and I am so happy!!!

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Back at home, we quickly packed up and took the 7-minute light rail ride back to Union Station, then walked over to the Dairy Block to leave our bags and do a short walk through of the shops before heading to the Museum of Contemporary Art.  It was penny day!  So for 2 cents, we got to spend a little over an hour perusing the art then chilling on the rooftop patio (still one of my favorite Denver secrets ♥) before heading out to find lunch.  We maybe checked the menu at three other places before making it all the way to Hearth & Dram to find it closed for lunch.  But, conveniently, there were a bunch of scooters out front so we each hopped on one and rode toward the 16th Street Mall and had a lovely patio lunch at The Kitchen.  It didn’t even rain!

We walked the mall after lunch and it had been a while since either of us had done that.  It was, uh… interesting.  If you come in from out of town, my advice to you is just don’t go to the 16th Street Mall.  It’s just chain restaurants and questionable happenings.  Joey continues to refer to this walk as his favorite part of the day just to annoy me…

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By this point we were able to check into our hotel room, where we spent some time relaxing.  Our patio had a great view of none other than Coors Field!  Plus an airsteam trailer in the lobby serving up one complimentary drink per person 🙂  Most importantly though, we bit the bullet and finally booked flights to Italy for this October.  I am beyond excited and only a little bit nervous about that long flight and finding hotels ASAP.

Around 8, we made our way back over to Union Station for dinner at Ultreia, which turned out to be just okay.  I wasn’t impressed by my drink and the food was pretty lackluster overall, but we did grab Little Man ice cream at Milkbox afterward so it wasn’t a total loss.  Watched like 20 minutes of Wildlife in bed before we realized we were exhausted and went to bed.  A truly amazing day!

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Sunday morning, Joey ran downstairs to grab us complimentary coffees from Huckleberry (how perfect that our favorite coffee roaster has a location inside The Maven!), plus toast for me and a breakfast burrito for him and we ate both on our little patio.  Denver was much quieter (but no less beautiful) in the morning ♥  We checked ourselves out shortly before 11 AM, took the light rail (only a four minute ride on the way back!) home then picked up our little pup.  All in all, just a truly wonderful little weekend “trip” that I feel so happy to have experienced.  P.S. We watched that final episode of Stranger Things and my heart could hardly handle it.  “Please make this scene end!” is a real thing I said, while fighting back tears.  Also, Scoops Troop Forever!

And as if that wasn’t a good enough end to my 20s, my mom showed up at my office today with a red velvet cake!  How did I get so lucky??

Weekend Things: Viva Las Vegas

I think I stand in opposition to almost everything Vegas stands for — gambling, drinking, staying out late — but I’m always up for sight-seeing, show watching and going out to eat!  We took a little weekend trip and even though our flight home was delayed, delayed again then majorly delayed, I think we all still had a great time.  I got to see P!nk fly through the air, a robot mix a margarita and the last ever season premier of Game of Thrones on an iPad at 1 AM, so I feel pretty happy about it.

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We stayed at The LINQ and it had a lovely little promenade area with shops and you know, In-N-Out, but lots of other restaurants too!  Next door at The Flamingo, I got to see some of those pink birds hanging out in the sun.  Sounds like a great life, to be honest!  We go every time we’re in Vegas, but Gordon Ramsay Burger is just really good and they know how to cook a burger right.  We walked over to T-Mobile Arena afterward and WHOA, I was just blown away by how incredible P!nk was.  Not only was she dancing and soaring all over but she sounded FLAWLESS.  HOW??  That’s a concert I’ll never forget.

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The next morning, Joey, Lori and I hit up PublicUs for breakfast, then walked over to the Downtown Container Park — we tried to go last time we were in Vegas but the area was closed off because of some sort of festival — and were delighted to discover it was very nice and most importantly, uncrowded!  A jazz band was just about to perform so we grabbed a seat and watched for a while.  Then we walked down Fremont Street, got drinks made by a robot, watched the fountain show at the Bellagio, walked through The Forum Shops and made our way back to The LINQ to get cleaned up for dinner.

We ate at Roma and I had an amazing plate of eggplant parm with a side of what was just a simple penne in tomato sauce but somehow tasted better than any other penne with tomato sauce I’ve ever had?  Then, the real reason for our trip to Las Vegas: Donny and Marie!  In all honestly, I barely know who the Osmonds are, but when your mother-in-law is a major fan and it’s their last year in Vegas, you go!  Guys, it was so fun to watch them interact with the audience!  Women losing their minds over Donny Osmond is highly highly entertaining and look, I’ll be happy if I’m ever as good in high heels as Marie Osmond is!

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Our last full day started with a hike in Red Rock Canyon!  I guess I only ever hike on vacation now, but maybe that’s for the best because all of those hikes have been great.  The weather was perfect, the scenery was unbelievable and the company was the best.  We did what felt like rock climbing to me and Lori is a trooper for scaling rocks like the best of em!  There’s something like 26 different trails but we chose Calico Tanks and it had such a cool view of the city at the top.  Also, we saw a chuckwalla!

Post-hike, Joey ate In-N-Out and the rest of us did not because we were having dinner soon!  But then we got cleaned up and went to THE DORSEY!!!!  Aka a cocktail bar inside the Venetian that I had imagined to be on the top floor with big windows facing the outside but was actually a dark ground floor room with a view of… the casino.  But there was a library and that seemed very Dorsey-esque.  After, we had dinner at Mesa Grill which, honestly, I thought was going to be a lot better.  I wasn’t blown away and, with the amount of money we spent (especially since we ordered a total of two drinks!), I should have been blown away.  But the highlight of the night was “O” by Cirque du Soleil.  I am too old for a 9:30 PM show and maybe felt dozy a few times but WOW, it was the BEST Cirque show I’ve ever seen!

Mostly though, I feel real lucky that my family in-law is such a pleasure to vacation with ♥