11–19 of 19 entries from the month of: May 2011

Behind Door #1

May 16th

Coors Tour

On Saturday morning, a new friend showed up with three bachelors in tow. They were his friends from the local sailing club — two of whom were in town for some event. Without us seeing each other, he placed me in one room, encouraging me to be a good sport, and told the men to have a seat in the other. He’d be right back.

He returned with beer for the men and a swift “this will be fun!” pat on the back for me. What were we going to do? Why, play the dating game of course! And he’d prepared questions. And wasn’t this fun? Is this what everyone does on a Saturday morning? And why are you turning a deep shade of embarrassed purple, Kelli?

Coors Tour

I was a good sport. And it did end up being fun, although it was humiliating too. He asked a few questions, we all laughed, I picked a suitor (bachelor #2!) and then we all went on the local tour of the Coors Brewery. I highly doubt bachelor #2 and I will ever go out, but he is cute and I made a good choice. They were all good choices. Sweet, funny, odd men who were game for something equally embarrassing to them — but they took it in stride. I also managed to get a great lunch and several hours of hysterical laughter out of it — so it was a good time.

Coors Tour

On Sunday, I tagged along to a surprise birthday brunch and my first Rockies game with a gaggle of new folk. My friend BJ invited me and — although there was a dramatic lack of game show questions — it was also a great time. I have no idea how people of Colorado think baseball spectator attire is a down jacket, but apparently here it is. Tank tops? Flip flops? Uh, no. Everyone was bundled up, and quickly tired of the girl from Arizona with the fading tan who kept asking, “Aren’t you cold? I am freezing! Don’t you know this is supposed to be summer? What the hell is wrong with this place?!”

Happy birthday Kristin!

Happy birthday Kristin!

First Rockies Game

First Rockies Game

I can honestly say I did not pay attention to a single play of the game. We were having so much fun goofing off in the Rock Pile that I had to remind myself why we were there.

Behind door #1, a great weekend in Colorado. Next up: more hiking, cycling and swimming. I am looking forward to getting outside more once this cold, dreary front moves along. I miss the sun.

~K

 

Posted in
Colorado, Community
Comments (7)

Cavegirl

May 14th

Sheila treated me to a homemade meal this week that was too colorful and delicious not to photograph:

For poaching fish

Citrus!

Dill

Fishy

Yum

Salmon, poached with dill and lemon; roasted acorn squash; plantains with cinnamon

This paleo/primal way of eating is tricky. Whole milk in my morning coffee, grilling sausage for dinner, eating cheese or greek yogurt when I want an afternoon snack? All fantastic. I am satisfied eating much less, with much more fat in my diet. My skin is clearer. My cravings are changing. I’m enjoying eating foods I’d previously banned on some ridiculous fatty prohibited list.

If I never eat a no/low-fat cookie, yogurt, ice cream sandwich again — it will be too soon. Bring on the fat. Hold the sugar.

That said — this way of eating is not convenient. Just like any significant behavior change, it takes a commitment and preparation. Working from home, I spend a lot of time now in coffee shops with wifi. Empty carbs are cheap and prolific. I can’t just have a bagel for breakfast. If there aren’t eggs on the menu, I’m either going hungry, or I’d better hope I remembered to grab something before I left the house. A wrap for lunch won’t work. Pizza for dinner isn’t happening.

Yet the benefits are worthwhile. When I move into my own little homestead (with wifi and a coffee pot) that produces vegetables and eggs from the yard? Well. It will make this all that much more convenient.

Who knew eating like a knuckle dragger would be so satisfying?

~K

 

Posted in
Homebody, Kitchen Talk, Paleo
Comments (3)

Pantry Dreams

May 12th

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I am an organization freak. I always have been. I can’t get out of a bed without making it (sometimes even at hotels). I wipe down the bathroom counter every single time. I have a google doc that tracks car repair and maintenance. (I once got two transmission flushes in a six month period because I didn’t have such a system.) My spices might be alphabetized.

Yeah. I’m nuts. For a long time I hid this, or attempted to, as to not have my OCD nature yet another point of critique. But recently I’ve come to the conclusion that we are all nuts. And life is just so much more interesting and fun when you let your freak flag fly. So, guess what? I love to clean. I love to organize. The Container Store? Better than a trip to Tiffany’s. Seriously. (No mining guilt!)

I have pipe dreams of having a side business organizing other’s spaces. There are some very specific tools and habits to keeping an organized home or workplace. And once these become routine, you are set. Plus, I look at these small daily changes in behavior as prevention.

  • Put in two minutes today to sort through mail, recycling every single bit of paper you don’t need, canceling catalogs, paying bills — you don’t end up with a pile the size of Everest on a Saturday afternoon with late fees and precious, sunny weekend hours wasted inside sorting.
  • Keep a “Goodwill” bag in your closet. Every time you add a new piece of clothing, you agree to donate. No one was infinite closet space. This limits shopping too; you only have so many hangers.
  • Make those hangers the same brand and color. Face your clothing all the same direction. You’ll be shocked how many new combinations you are able to create with the same materials.
  • Google docs and calendars are ideal for tracking birthdays and other important events. Make a plan on the 25th of each month to write out cards for the next month — with stamps and addresses handy. Then mail in two batches. Send thank you cards at this time too. I keep a running list. People don’t care when the card arrives; they want to know you thought of them. And a handwritten note might was well come licked by T-Rex, they are so rare.
  • Burn your CDs. Buy a backup hard drive. Buy another one. Get rid of your CDs.
  • Use the library. Clear your shelves of books you don’t plan on ever using again. Donate generously.
  • Clean out your wallet at least once a week. Face bills. Sort receipts. Keep a supply of stamps.
  • Minimize your cleaning supplies. Bleach, vinegar, coarse salt, lemon juice, a couple good rags and Magic Erasers. You don’t need much more.
  • Keep a trash bag in your car; empty it regularly. Keep a towel in the trunk. Wipe down your dash when things get hairy. This towel is also particularly great for the occasional $2 car wash. I run through these quarter car washes about once a month.

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When a friend recently asked me for some tips on how to be more organized, I started with an especially tricky space. Organizing a small space is even more of a fun challenge. A pantry under the stairs? One with deep shelves? Bring it.

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I started by pulling everything out and grouping like items. I spent $15 on two shelves (one long, to hold baby food and formula) and the other for canned goods, and one basket — for granola bars. Because in Colorado, one cannot have too many granola bars.

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Some 20 minutes later — voila. Because the shelves are long, I organized like items deep. In other words, they are stacked behind each other to the very back of the shelf. Use one, pull the next one forward. But here is the trick about organizing: this will only work if the behavior changes too. You have to learn to work with a new system to make it a system.

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If this were my pantry — I’d paint the inside of the door with chalkboard paint and keep a running grocery list.

And yes, I know. It’s nuts I took so much pleasure from this project. And yet? Better. Much, much better. Organization, cleanliness and frugality are the trinity of a smart home.

(Freak flag at full mast. )

~K

 

Posted in
Domestic Art, Good to Great, Homebody
Comments (25)

Scarf By Finny

May 11th

This post is the equivalent of all those who move to Phoenix and promptly adorn their homes with kokopellis. Nothing screams “NEWBIE!” like Native American metal imagery hung on the side of a house. (Except perhaps those who also add a lizard, rant and rave about Soleri bells and wander around a constant, crispy pink.)

Well. I’d say the same for the yahoo who stops to photograph a spring snow. Why run to my car when I can stop, twirl, try to catch a few flakes in my mouth, swat flakes away when they land in my lashes and then snap a few for giggles? Ten inches expected, with a winter weather advisory.

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It’s a warm snow. Right? A snow that will just further water and not kill the gardens I’ve spent so much time and energy helping with this week?

Yeah.

Mother Nature — bold move.

~K

 

Posted in
Colorado, Flora and Fauna
Comments (5)

Mines

May 10th

School of Mines

Sleepy Golden is home to the School of Mines — a university in the center of town. One of the foothills in town has a large white M painted on it for the school. Last night, the M was actually a 4. There are 4 days left in the school year. Those mining engineers are crafty with their celebrations.

Golden

I knew Golden was hilly before I got on my bike yesterday, but cheese and rice. I had to walk my bike at certain points, I was so out of breath.

Olive!

But oh, how nice it is to have this baby waiting for my morning commute.

School of Mines

And how fun it is to have these class projects waiting along my path to the coffee shop.

I'd hang baskets of flowers from the porch

And while I’m out today renting a home, I will be dreaming of this one. It sits in historic Golden, just a few hundred yards from both downtown and the university. It was built in the 1840s and is 3 bedroom and 2 bath. The fence has fallen over, so I got to see the tiny greenhouse in the backyard — a yard perfect for a few renegade chickens and a big goofy dog.

Can’t you just see this space with some giant herb and veggie boxes? This yard is begging for permaculture. The patio with baskets of flowers hanging from the eves? A beautiful bench sitting by the door? I’d line the walkway with small trees to create an arch. And I’d paint the trim a fabulous soft gray purple. I’d also be more than $450,000 in mortgage debt.

Pipe dreams.

So, instead I’ll make this little home in a much more affordable sleepy neighborhood to the north.

Oh, Golden. You are so easy to love. Your community center with art classes and giant indoor swimming pool.* Your library stocked with the latest best sellers. Your breweries. Your parks. I’m in love.

~K

*Because I’m a complete goof ball, I went to the community center yesterday, walked up to the info desk and said, “Hello! My name is Kelli. I just moved here. I love community!” I’m pretty sure the lady thought I was slow. Little did she know I am simply over-enthusiastic. Then I volunteered to coach a new masters program and she knew without a doubt I was over-enthusiastic.

Posted in
Colorado, Community
Comments (6)

Less Thor. More Thyme.

May 9th

sprinkles

Have you seen Thor? Well. If you are interested in a Brazilian all-you-can-eat meat buffet? For $12, this is a steal. Because the meat? It’s well done. I have no idea who the blond actor is, but he is a Legends of the Fall-esq Brad Pitt and he’s so easy on the eyes, there was more than one muscle-fueled scene when I blushed bashful. Plus for dessert you can have a side of painfully dumb Natalie Portman. (Agent? Fired. How do you go from Black Swan to Thor?)¬†Without giving anything away — because let’s be honest. This is a big Hollywood movie. Boy. Girl. Lots of violence. Minimal plot. Excessive noise. Crash. Boom. Bang. Happy ending — there is a bigger lesson.

Humility. Sucking it up to say, “Man, I am flawed. I have a lot to learn.” Don’t worry — I’m not lamenting how much I have to change about myself in this post. But it was rather refreshing to see a movie that made so much money this weekend focused on the moral characteristic. (And I’m sure that’s why people went in droves to see it. Not because of the flash. Or violence. Or exceptionally good looking cast. RIGHT.)

apples

There is also a smaller lesson: 3d movies make me sick to my stomach. Tilt your head just one way or the other and everything is out of focus. I don’t know how in the world James Cameron thinks 3d movies are going to save the box office, but he can’t count on my regular business. If I’m going to watch movies, make cracks about beef cakes and roll my eyes at the lobotomized female lead, I can do so in my jammies on the couch a la Netflix.

rhubarb

Plus, there is just so much to do outside at the moment. Everyone is planting their gardens in Golden. I’ve helped put in two this week — which means I put on gloves and stuck my hands in the dirt. Nothing more. It was particularly refreshing to visit some friends’ garden yesterday. They have just installed four hives. The have two acres, with a pond, a barn and a handful of raised beds. Then they showed me the freezer in their garage.

tomatoes, peas and squash

It’s moments like these when I’m reassured I’m the latest member of the hippie Colorado tribe. The freezer was full of colorful mason jars — each labeled with the fruits of last year’s harvest. Acorn squash soup. Pumpkin puree. Sour cherry pie filling. Peaches. Chard and sausage soup. Stewed tomatoes. Rhubarb and strawberry compote. Applesauce from apples grown in their very own yard. They work hard gardening three months of the year, spend a couple extra minutes making extra portions as they cook during the summer with their fresh ingredients to make portions for the freezer, and then are able to eat fresh year round out of their own garden.

YES.

A new vision for my little homestead has been set. Less Thor. More thyme. Fewer movies. More manure. Minimal beef cake. Maximized chicken coop?

Oh, good grief.

~K

 

 

 

Posted in
Colorado, Flora and Fauna
Comments (7)

New Library Card Day

May 5th

Golden

Our book club red “Into the Beautiful North” for April; having read “The Hummingbird’s Daughter” last year, we were looking forward to Urrea’s latest. This novel takes the current immigration conversation and turns it upside down. It’s the story of Mexican women from a small southern town who decide they are tired of living in a town without men. All of the men have gone north to the US for work. And so, they create a plan to go get their men back.

There are several notable characters and the writing is colorful. That said, writing a novel that competes with the beauty of “The Hummingbird’s Daughter” is tough. Kingsolver has yet to top “The Poisonwood Bible.” Marquez will never top “100 Years of Solitude.” Courtenay’s “Power of One” was the one.

So, “Into the Beautiful North” is fun, light-hearted reading. But it isn’t Urrea’s best. We collectively agreed we wanted more. More detail, more character development, more resolution.

Three of five bananas

Similarly, in the easy reading category — “The Solitude of Prime Numbers” is an enjoyable read. I bought this on a day trip to Colorado last month and managed to finish it in one day, with flights both directions. It is one of those novels that I looked up and 200 pages had gone by. I was fully engrossed in the characters. And these characters are memorable. I’ve found myself thinking of their story several times in the last month, wondering where they are today — as if they are long, lost friends.

This novel didn’t teach me anything new about culture or take me to some far off land where I’d never traveled. But novels like this teach me more about humanity, and as a writer — more about dialog and phrasing.

Four out of five bananas, absoloodle.

I’ve also read several health books lately while riding the primal eating train. The title is horrible, but the information was worth my time — “Why You Get Fat.” I won’t preach about primal eating, but I will say I’m seeing sweeping changes in weight for friends who are following it. In my half-ass attempts, I’ve noticed how grains effect my digestion. Like so many other wild claims and great intentions I’ve shouted publicly from the blog, I’ll instead say I’m working on eating this way. (Also, a great primal eating blog.)

Four out of five bananas.

DEER!

And a false start — I recently tried reading “The Diagnosis.” No go. I got 100 pages into this novel and I couldn’t enjoy the character’s mania dealing with temporary amnesia. As it goes with so many books I read, the content has to fit my mood. Thankfully, I got my Colorado library card yesterday and checked out four new novels for the next three weeks. (These lovely deer were chomping away in a front yard on my walk home. Oh, Colorado life — you are keeping things interesting. If I can make a suggestion? Fewer snakes, more deer. I saw my first evil slithery monster yesterday too. I would have taken a photo, but I was too busy screaming at the top of my lungs and fleeing in mania.)

First up, “The History of Love,” by Nicole Krauss.

What are you reading?

~K

Posted in
2011 Books, Media
Comments (14)

Mountain Life

May 4th

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My new commute to the coffee shop (with both the strongest espresso and wifi) takes all of 15 minutes to walk. Golden is a quirky college town. There are plenty of hungry students and the yuppie business sort. But the majority are this middle ground — working middle class folk, many of whom are employed at the giant Coors brewery in the center of town. The homes on either side of the creek run up to the foothills to the west and the mesas to the east. Trailers, apartments, mega-mansions and even one tiny commune all have their place in this community.

Over the river

There is so much to explore, and I’m surely naive to think I’ve got this town even slightly figured out. I’m enjoying being out of my car and on my bike, out of my office and instead working at my own pace. Yesterday I went dream house hunting and found two that was willing to consider selling a spare organ for. Garden space, stained glass, compost bins, big porches, tiny front yards bursting with tulips. I might as well be drooling over sports cars or a chateau in the Alps. Nonetheless, it is fun to dream.

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And in the meantime, I’m settling into a new routine that has very little on the calendar. A dinner with a friend here. A hike with my brother there. An ethereal amount of time to be outside, work in my friends’ garden and write. Working from home with the job I brought from Arizona is delightful. The stresses of office life have fallen away and I am worlds more efficient without a desk phone ringing or a coworker stopping in to chat. My need for a lunch hour has been reduce to eating leftovers quickly so I can play with the dogs in the yard. I simply make my list, complete my list and move on. It is rather refreshing.

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So, friends — I hope your summer is also off to a delightful start. I hope you too are enjoying lovely weather, time to stare at the clouds and a great book. If you’ve got a dog at your feet, a local beer in your hand and a garden full of tomato seedlings — even better.

Cheers,

K

 

Posted in
Colorado
Comments (11)

Boots on the Ground

May 1st

Literally. I’ve got new boots on and it is chilly in Golden! The drive was long, but manageable. I slept hard last night and I’m back to work today. Life in Colorado is beautiful.

I forgot my camera cord at a friend’s house the night before I left. So, until I unpack the duplicate, a few more photos from the scavenger hunt that Jason just emailed over: (He was on the team, behind the camera.)

Crazy Group Photo

Good Egg

Hanny's

Winners!

Obviously, we did not have any fun at all. Not a bit. (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit teary looking at these. I love these folks so much.)

How am I ever going to get all of these people to move north? Well. As the great Adele says, “Don’t under estimate the things I will do.”

~K

Posted in
Arizona
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