Las Vegas, short & sweet

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DSCN3633DSCN3637DSCN3645DSCN3730DSCN3732~> Every three years in February my guy and I take a work/vacation trip to Las Vegas. We go for the World Of Concrete convention and spend about half our time doing convention stuff and half our time doing fun stuff. This year we invited some friends from California to meet us there and spend the afternoon/evenings wandering around Vegas with us. It was awesome! Well worth the exhaustion, aching feet and sore back from all that go-go-go. My favorite thing was riding the High Roller at sunset. Beautiful! These are just a few of my favorite photos captured during our week away.

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Week In The Life

I love joining Ali Edwards for Week In The Life. Not really because of the week, but because I think it’s cool to go back to previous years and compare and contrast how or lives are the same or different. It’s interesting to see how our house has changed, our routine, our food. It’s an anthropological study of us.

Here’s a snapshot of my week:

Sunday

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Monday

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Tuesday

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Wednesday

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Thursday

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Friday

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Saturday

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» This has been a hard week for Colorado. Days of rain has led to unprecedented flooding in many areas. Towns have been evacuated, people have lost their homes. I’ve been lucky, safe, with power, my family and friends are safe. Not so for many of my neighbors. It’s a scary thing; living through a natural disaster. Colorado has seen fire sweep through it’s forests and leave only devastation in it’s wake. Now water has done the same. I’d like to ask you to take a moment and pray for our state, pray for the families effected, pray for recovery.

If you’d like to help in other ways Help Colorado Now is a great resource to help you be most effective. Thank you for your support!

{Weekending} with color

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We celebrated my birthday this weekend. Two days early, but since I’m a fan of week-long celebrations it was all ok by me.

Saturday was a day for trying new things. I’d been wanting to go to the restaurant at Fort Collins Brewery since we were supposed to go for our anniversary. That didn’t work out so I planned my birthday party to make up for it. I filled a table (or three) with family and friends. Hello, blessing!

Gravity 1020 was a bit more gourmet and fancy food than our normal Chili’s and Applebees fare. We tried several things, six appetizers plus a main…it was a perfect special occasion lunch. Everything was yummy, and I had a blast trying new tastes. Grilled flatbread with peaches and poblanos? Bring it on.

They also made me an incredible carrot cake birthday cake. I just asked for a cake and they did the deciding. It was great. A massive thing that was delicious!

We took a brewery tour as well, and sampled a dozen beers…5 full time, 7 seasonal. Sadly, we only really liked one of them – Wit & Wild. It was the experience that was so much fun. Trying new things, even if we didn’t love them all.

My family and I wondered old town Fort Collins after lunch. There was a car show happening and my car guy had to get in a little peek. Then for dinner we tried another new place called Scrumpy’s Hard Cider Bar. The tasting there went way better! Six different ciders and we didn’t leave any in the glasses. My favorite was Foxbarrel Blackberry Pear. Yum!

So, Saturday was full up of bright memory making awesomeness!

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Come Sunday I decided to quit staring at the square of blue on our bedroom wall and just go for it. And I did. I tackled painting our ceiling too, which is why I only got one wall done. I wanted to be done painting by dinner. The ceiling was more grey than I realized -fresh white paint will really show you some dirt.

For the wall color I choose to go with the pale blue in the quilt; a color called Sparkling Spring. I waffled with grey or a more grey-blue, in the end going with a brighter option. The hubs liked that color best anyway. I’m just ready for the lightness it brings our room, even though I find the dark gold of our previous color warm and inviting.

So, I painted enough to get the bed moved…oh yeah, I’m rearranging while I’m at it. Yep, hubs was super excited about that, too. He puts up with my indecisive decorator mind so well! He even got our bedside lamps moved for me so it feels like the one wall is really done. I’ve just a little more to do. I think it’ll be a busy week! It was certainly a busy, colorful weekending!

What’s been keeping you busy lately? Celebrating? Decorating? Life?
How was your weekending?

Weekending: Grand Mesa

When friends send you a text that says We want to go camping with you. You make it happen. It’s too good an invitation to pass up.

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You pack the Jeep, gather the furry kids into the back seat, and set out for a six hour drive on Friday night. South and West is your destination, into the mountains, into Grand Mesa.

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You are greeted in the chilly night air, happy to have arrived, excited for this little adventure. You set up camp via headlight at midnight and eventually crawl into the nest of sleeping bags and quilts.

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In the morning you greet the sun with smiles. You start a fire, working at it a bit in the damp. Making it happen, happy to see it flame and hear it crackle.

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You discover biscuits in a cast iron roaster over the fire are the best idea for breakfast ever. And smores are awesome anytime of day.

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You enjoy the views and the adventure. Spending your day exploring these mountains and lakes. When you go off-roading and slide off the trail it’s nice to meet new people as they winch you back to solid ground. It’s sad that with all the slipping, sliding, dragging, boulder scrapping your Jeep sustains no real battle scars to be a testament to the ride. But the story is there, and that is awesome.

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You fall in love with these woods, with this water, the plants that don’t grow in the mountains only an hour from your house. You fall in love with your state all over again.

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Hiking in the afternoon is undeterred by a little drizzle of rain. The trails are short and easy, but the company and the sights are perfection.

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You make plans to come back, with 35 different camp sites to choose from you might have to try a new one each time. One right on a lake next time? Yes.

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A chilly evening isn’t too bothersome by the fire. Good food, good drinks, and good company is warming and lovely. You’ve come prepared and turn on heaters in the tents for the sleep that must eventually come. Being so tired and not wanting to go to bed. Being sad that the next day you must pack up your retreat and trek home. Being excited for the next time, and making plans. Again and again.

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You begin your last day with smores! And also so grateful that life brought these friends back into your life and worked in such a way that they moved back to Colorado from afar. Life is an orchestra and the conductor has blessed you.

Weekending.
Sometimes it is just that good.

On my plate: Beets!

So, I was in Whole Foods the other day and I came across a bunch of beets; I thought ‘Gosh, I just have to have those!’ Today, I finally got to have them. For lunch!

Mm. mm. Good!

Roasted beets with sauteed beet green salad.
Glorious.

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To roast my Beets I first gave them a good trim and scrub to get them squeaky clean. I didn’t bother to peel them because after they’re roasted the skin just scrapes off super easy with the back of a knife.

I lined a baking dish with foil; I’m lazy and like easy clean up. Then, I drizzled a scant amount of olive oil on my beets and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. I folded over the foil, put the lid on my dish and into the oven they went. I didn’t even bother with preheating since this was my lunch getting made at nine in the morning. I cranked the oven up to 350° and set the timer for an hour and a half.

Your beets are done when a knife will slide in easily. The roasting process gives them a sweet, earthy flavor. I love it. I hope you will too!
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For my sauteed beet green salad I washed the tops/greens I cut off my beets and pulled the leaves off the stems. I de-stem the same way I do for collars or kale because the stems are tough. Then, I tore the greens into smaller pieces.

To a saute pan sprayed with a little Pam I added:
a handful of my beet greens
a handful of kale I prepped the same way. (You can easily use all of one or the other but I had kale that needed to get eaten.)
1/3 of a large portobello mushroom, chopped
1/2 a medium zucchini, chopped
1-2 minced garlic cloves

I let that saute until the greens began to wilt, covering the pan with a lid for a few minutes helps that process. Then, I added a splash of Worcestershire sauce, a splash of Bragg’s liquid animos (you could use soy sauce if you prefer), and a bit of chopped red pepper.

I let all that saute until my zucchini got a little color but the peppers were still crunchy. I moved that off the heat and got my beet ready to add on top.

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Holding my still hot beet with tongs I scraped the skin off and chopped it into chunks. Oh, it smelled so delicious!

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Finally, I piled my plate with my sauteed salad and surrounded it with beets. Not too long later the plate is empty and I am one happy herbivore. 🙂

I saved my extra roasted beets, beet greens and veggies for another meal. I’m just cooking for myself here, but you could easily make this for a crowd.

Do you love beets as much as I do? If not this just might change you’re mind. If you’ve only ever had them pickled, you’re in for a tasty treat!

The beet is on!

On my plate: Pizza! (V, GF)

Vegetarian, gluten-free, easily made vegan, awesome veggie packed pizza!

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It is so good.

I saw somewhere that someone (don’t you just love my vague memory?) had used a portobello mushroom cap as pizza crust. I thought that sounded brilliant! So I did, too.

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First, I scraped out the gills of my mushroom because I wanted to fill the space with extra veggies. Then I broiled my ‘crust’, first on one side, then the other, to get it a little softened.

While the mushroom was in the oven I sauteed a little onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and chopped kale together. When they were sufficiently wilted I added a quarter cup of my favorite marinara sauce. I piled this saucy, veggie awesomeness into my mushroom, added some cheese, and put it back under the broiler.

Two minutes later I had this…

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Lunch is served.
Quick and easy.
Perfect for my low cal. diet with only 180 calories.
Did I mention it was so good?!
What happy munchies are on your plate recently?

Eat Realization

I’d like to say Revolution but it’s too early in the process for that. So, Realization it is.

My friend Chris told me about this app she’s using to help track calories and eat better. It called My Fitness Pal, and I decided to try it out. I’ve been using it two weeks and have lost five pounds. I’m pretty excited about that.

Is reaching my goal weight possible? I actually think so. That might be the biggest deal of all. What would it be like to fit into a size I haven’t worn since high school? Heck, I thought I was fat then, getting back there and feeling good will be some kind of awesome.

Its been quite the realization to log my food everyday. To realize what I had been eating was extremely eye opening. To make choices within my calorie parameters has been hard only a few times. In general I like good-for-you food and so eating it isn’t hard. The hard thing is that I like bad-for-you food too. Saying no when it’s in front of me is my biggest challenge. Willpower is not my strongest asset.

Keeping the log in my hand, by way of my phone, is helping me make better choices. I’ve even sat down to eat something I thought would be good and wasn’t then said ‘forget this’ and dropped it in the trash. When you’re looking to make every calorie count you quickly decide eating something you don’t even like is a waste. I don’t waste my calories on things that don’t make me happy. That’s an awesome way to eat.

It might sound crazy but it’s new to me to stop and think about my food so much. It starts with ‘How many calories is it?’ But quickly moves on to ‘Is it worth that many calories? Will I enjoy it? Am I excited to eat it?’

It has also been fun to see what restaurants are really great to go to when watching your calories (hello Applebees) and which ones are to be avoided (hello Red Lobster). Actually, Applebees inspired one of my favorite lunches. It’s a mass of vegetables in a red wine reduction sauce. The restaurant makes a chicken and vegetable meal that’s similar and tastes amazing but I’m super excited about veggies so I nixed the chicken and unloaded the fridge. Here’s a picture of the restaurant version…

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And one of my tweaked veggie lunch…

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That’s a dozen vegetables, salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and red wine. Delicious. In fact, my only complaint about Applebees is that there’s not really vegetarian options on the under 550 menu. I’ve eaten meat the two times I’ve gone in the past two weeks. I actually ordered a steak for the first time in my life. I mean, I’ve eaten steak before but I’ve never ordered it in a restaurant. Mostly because there’s about a million others things I’d rather order off a menu.

However, at Applebees I did order a steak -so that I could get to a spinach stuffed mushroom side dish. I know that makes little to no sense. But, I’m really shy about asking for changes in a restaurant when it seems like it’d be annoying to the wait staff. I did take a picture of that meal -to remember that first and probably last steak order of my life. And, more importantly, to remember those delicious side dishes.

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The steak was ok. The mushroom was awesome! I’ll be making that for lunches too. I’m a big fan of spinach and mushrooms. It didn’t even need the cheese. I’ll probably leave it out and toss in extra veggies when I wilt the spinach, onion and bell pepper sounds like it would be great minced and thrown in. A little garlic maybe, a splash of Bragg’s, I’ll be good to go.

Ok, now I’m just making myself hungry! I also discovered a yummy low-cal soup in my Eating Well magazine this week —Quinoa and peanut. You can google it, it’s on their website. Of course since I’m the queen of never following a recipe I added a little mushroom and sliced sugar snap peas to mine. It was mighty tasty.

Well, that’s my latest getting healthy update. I’ve still been on the roller coaster, hopefully this time that I’ve gotten off I can make a permanent change. It’s a good thing to be learning to be more aware of what goes in my mouth and how much of it there is. It’s also a good feeling to finish my food log and have My Fitness Pal tell me if every day were like today I could weigh ten pounds lighter in five weeks. Watching that number drop is a good thing. One good choice at a time.

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