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 & a Summer BBQ

You know when your weekend was so good that just thinking back on it has you doing a little good mood dance in your office?  No?  Yeah, me neither…

But seriously, this weekend we had a very chill Friday that involved cooking vegetables from our garden, a Saturday that started with a new coffee shop and ended with a summer BBQ with our friends and family and a Sunday that was so blissfully relaxed it almost felt wrong but mostly felt so damn right.  THE BEST!

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To say I had been looking forward to this dinner all week long would be a major understatement.  We pulled four cute little beets from our garden and used them to make this flatbread from my new cookbook and then I sauteed a HUGE bag of chard we harvested from our garden and Joey raved about it all through dinner.  I was like “it’s just some chard!” but yeah, it was actually VERY GOOD.  Also, I guess I’m just gonna quit my job and be a beet farmer now, okay?  Please tell us the difference between pizza and flatbread though!

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Everyone was coming over at 5 on Saturday and our house needed to be cleaned and burgers, sangria and broccoli salad needed to be made, but there is ALWAYS time for coffee first!  And Blue Sparrow Coffee was ADORABLE, so I’m 100% glad we made it there.  I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, RiNo is just the coolest neighborhood in Denver!  We got our coffee and headed up to this rooftop patio and had the whole thing to ourselves.  It was so cool and peaceful and quiet up there ♥  We went full-on dorky married couple and inspected those garden beds so hard.  I loved every single second!

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Afterwards, we cleaned and prepped (hallelujah for husbands who mow and pull weeds and water lawns and put out tables, chairs and cute little drink stations so that when you come outside everything is already perfect!) and it was all so low stress that I even took a hammock nap and finished a book afterwards.  WHO AM I?!

As for the actual BBQ, I loved it SO much!  Everyone brought such delicious things and Joey grilled the burgers (x3!) to perfection and everyone was like “this water with fruit in it is so good!” and I got to see and laugh with all the people I love best in this life.  It was magical indeed.  Also, for the record, the pregnant lady outlasted everyone else and was the last person out the door at the end of the night.  Guys, Hannah and Josh are having a baby boy and it is fucking fun to talk about HIM instead of IT now.

P.S. Totally ate a brownie while cleaning up after everyone had left.

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Started Sunday with a run breakfast at Sassafras and yeah, those roasted vegetable grits with goat cheese and a side of jalapeño cornbread were as good as they look!  Afterwards, while Joey being a bike mechanic in the backyard (don’t ask…), I I re-stocked myself on granola and made some hummus with extra virgin olive oil that Lori brought back FROM GREECE!  She also got me thee most stunningly beautiful blue opal jewelry and I am actually the luckiest daughter-in-law ever.

Then…our first Sunday Rockies game of the year (how?!) and we biked and had seats in the shade and won 13-3, so I was in my happy place for real.  Afterwards, we tried to move as little as possible and keep all the lights off because summer heat is not messing around this year.  Plus we had our groceries delivered and decided to wait till Monday to do our weekly salad prep so we really had nothing we needed to do.  It was honestly SO NICE.

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For dinner, I picked our first squash and tomato of the year (!!!) and then we ate outside and I was like “I LOVE SUMMER!”  Big Brother and Game of Thrones afterward!!!!  Ummm how incredible was that episode of GoT?!  I had literal chills so many times and even Joey couldn’t stop talking about how crazy good that ending scene was.  My sister and Wayne just started watching the series and I’m simultaneously jealous that they get to watch from the beginning and disappointed that they’re JUST NOW watching from the beginning.

This week, I have book club, birthday celebrations for my sweet mama and a weekend concert to look forward to so I think I’ll be riding this summertime high for a while 🙂