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: Labor Day 2017

I just looked back at the titles of Labor Day Weekends past and I had called them all “Labor Day Weekend Things.”  Every.Single.One.  But, I’m changing it up this year and that’s pretty much the theme of my LDW in general.  Joey was out of town till Sunday night and at first I was sad that I’d have to spend a holiday weekend without him, but then I saw my bestie (and felt the baby!!!), had a sister date, cooked myself dinner and watched a movie, maybe openly cried during said movie and walked to Sunday breakfast with my parents.  Then Joey came home and we got to spend a perfect actual Labor Day together.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, this Labor Day Weekend may have been different, but in a good, refreshing, totally satisfying way that meant I got to spend time with lots of people I love, doing lots of things I enjoy and it all felt really amazing.  Except that part when I was in bed alone and a spider ran across my comforter…

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I met Hannah for happy hour on Friday and not only was she smart enough to suggest meeting away from Denver and (worse than normal) Denver traffic, but she suggested a restaurant I’d been wanting to try because: PUFFY TACOS!  It was all too good to be true.  But as good as the tacos, smoky salsa and vibrant pink drinks were, time with that beautiful mamma-to-be was still the best part.  P.S. She and Josh got me that perfect taco dishtowel and I can’t get over how funny it is!

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Saturday morning, I took a solo bike ride to the Farmers’ Market and made a bee line for the peach tent because I am loving so hard on those stone fruit beauties this year and I had a serious fear that they’d be out, or worse, done for the year.  I was relieved to find them there and in ample supply.  Phew!  Also spotted some cutesy baby melons and headed back home with shishitos, corn, aforementioned peaches and a loaf of Challah bread that I was seriously excited about.

Maybe it was the iced coffee I’d had with breakfast or my bag of peaches, but I felt so dang happy that morning that I almost skipped back to my bike.  Dug around in our tomato plants when I got home and found all these goodies!

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I had plans to take my sister to the MCA for some sophisticated art viewing and lunch on the rooftop but when I pulled up the museum website I was greeted with a lovely message announcing they were closed.  THE HORROR!  But oh well because we still biked downtown and had lunch at Mercantile (scored some salt while we were there) then walked through Union Station and maybe also through the fountains that all the kids were playing in.  That night, I grilled a brat and some corn and made a quick potato salad for myself.  I ate it outside in the backyard and decided solo dinners are underrated.

I watched Corrina, Corrina afterwards and look, I used to do this thing in high school where I’d put a movie (VHS!) on repeat while I slept so if I woke up I’d catch a few minutes and I’d do that every night with the same movie for MONTHS at a time, so those movies — the lines, the soundtrack, the wardrobe — are seared into my brain and this was one of those movies.  I hadn’t watched it in years but I’m happy to report it was as good (and heartbreaking) as I remembered it being.  Grilled a peach, then filled it with honey and yogurt for dessert and I need to do that way more often!

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I woke up Sunday and ran six miles for race training and now my legs are REALLY FREAKING SORE!  I’m scared!  But other than that, it all felt really good and afterwards I got to walk to breakfast at Sunny’s with my parents ♥  Isn’t it nice when you have a solid breakfast joint in your own neighborhood, no car ride required?  My mom gifted me that collapsible cup because she recently told my sister and I that my grandma used to ALWAYS have one (and a rain bonnet) in her purse and we’d never even seen/heard of such a thing.  How funny but heartwarming is that??  Food prepped us some lunch for the week and sauces for our Labor Day dinner afterwards, then JOEY CAME HOME!!!

We had dinner together then headed over to his aunt and uncle’s to see his cousin who was in town from Houston.  He did have to evacuate to Austin last week but luckily there was no water in his apartment.  P.S. I ate the best homemade Oreo cheesecake ice cream while were there, omg!

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Monday, we woke up and put that Challah to good use with French toast (topped with a miso-date butter that I ADORE) then relaxed until game time.  I just want to point out that Monday was the only Rockies game I attended and also the only game we won all weekend.  So the key to our success isn’t the offense or the pitching, IT’S ME!  You’re welcome, Rockies.  But the highlight of our Labor Day was definitely definitely dinner.  I hit up the butcher on Sunday and though what I was actually trying to buy was something more like lamb spare ribs, I ended up with rib chops and maybe it was a blessing in disguise because these turned out SO GOOD!

We marinated them all day in salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic and rosemary then Joey did the grilling outside while I cooked up some flatbread inside and then we put it (plus the sauces I made the day before, some grilled shishitos and an amber ale) all together and were in dinner nirvana.  I was so impressed with the flavor and with ourselves.  It was the perfect way to end a holiday weekend and to toast the end of UNOFFICIAL summer with (though I’m still living a summer lifestyle until OFFICIAL summer ends on the 22nd).

HOW WAS YOUR LABOR DAY WEEKEND??!!