March 31, 2013

the land of enchantment

We are on the highway somewhere between Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Arizona border. There is nothing but gold sand, sage brush, and red flat-top mountains stretching out to the horizon on every side. The sky is a pale blue dome above us and thin, white clouds hover at eye level. Herds of horses and cows graze in small clusters across the fields.

Although we didn't spend this Easter morning in a church pew, I am overwhelmed by the power and beauty of God's love for us, reflected in the earth around us. We are often so caught up in the chaos and commotion of life that we can be easily distracted from seeing God in everyday things, but no one has ever stood in the wilderness and denied the presence of something so much greater than themselves. Worldly worries, possessions, fears, and successes fade with every passing mile of a land stark and empty, yet immeasurably rich.

It's easy to forget about all the "stuff" that fills up our minds, ears, eyes, and closets when looking at an expansive, perfectly painted landscape, and yet we are cruising along in a car that is stuffed to the gills with boxes, suitcases, and bags full of stuff. Meanwhile, a massive freight truck is carrying the rest of what we emptied out of our house, on the 1000 mile journey to our new place in California. Despite the value we place on objects, and our dire dependency on material things, this morning I am content simply watching out the window as the most beautiful slideshow of God's creation flashes by. He didn't have to make the world beautiful, but He did. He didn't have to make our eyes able to see vibrant color, but He did. He didn't have to make our senses able to smell, taste, hear, and touch the earth around us, but He did. He didn't have to save the world by giving us His only son so that we could have everlasting life, and live it to the fullest... but He did.

beautiful, joyful, happy Easter everyone!



March 25, 2013

{Thirty Things} Update #3



We are nearing our final week of fun in Colorado and our list is still largely incomplete. Unfortunately I feel like our priority is now packing and moving and not so much about getting delicious happy hour deals and sight seeing around town. Surprisingly, we were able to cross a couple more things off last week although we spent half of it in California trying to find a new place to live. We got back to Denver last night and were greeted by a foot of snow which makes doing anything along the lines of errands a bit more difficult, let alone enjoyable. We'll see how much we can cross off this week but here's a little update on our list:

1. Visit Keystone, build a fire and play in the snow 
2. Walk to Pinche Tacos happy hour
3. See a movie at the Denver Film Center down the street
4. See a concert or live show at a local venue
5. Happy hour margaritas on a rooftop in Boulder 
6. See the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit at the Denver Art Museum
7. Return books to the library, pay fines one last time
8. Dinner at the Rio downtown
9. Visit Breckenridge & Frisco
10. Have brunch at the Greenbriar Inn where we had our reception
Instead of driving up to Boulder on the morning of my birthday ( St. Patrick's Day) Dan pulled a fast one on me and we headed downtown for a fabulous brunch at Ellyngton's at the Brown Palace, where we spent our first nights of our honeymoon! It was 2.5 hours of food-coma-inducing bliss. 

11. Hapa Sushi happy hour
12. Take the New Belgium Brewery tour in Fort Collins
13. Have a dirty vanilla Russian chai from Dazbog around the corner
14. Meet Dan in Boulder for lunch
15. Visit Pearl Street and cute shops
16. Go to the Garden of the gods
17. Try to find original 1896 blue prints of our house
18. Find a coffee shop with live music
19. Walk around Cheesman Park
20. Try the new Udi's cafe down the street
21. Celebrate our birthday's!
We had a birthday-goodbye-thank you party for all our friends on St Patrick's Day which was a bittersweet blast, but we loved seeing our friends and co-workers who have made the past few years so special for us!

22. Do bad karaoke at a dive bar
(supposed to have occurred following the St Patt's shenanigans, but the party kept going until Midnight. I'm not sorry)

23. Drive up to RedRocks, stand on the stage
24. Walk around City Park
We had a beautiful sunny day, in between the massive snow storms, last week so we took the pups down to the park to play ball, chase geese, and roll in the grass. Then we followed up with their favorite treat, paw-benders (doggie-custard) from Goodtimes on the way home. 

25. Pizza at the Atomic Cowboy
26. Visit 3 microbreweries around the city
27. Get ice cream at Little Man
28. Play pool at Wynkoop downtown
29. Sell our house, celebrate with dinner at Fruition
30. Have a party!!
Thank you again to all of our sweet friends who came out to celebrate with us. You will truly be missed!!

We have a big, busy week ahead! I'll keep you posted on our progress and tell you the story of how our lives were changed for the better over a slice of tiramisu. 

Happy Spring Monday!


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March 19, 2013

Travel Tips: How to Drive 1,000 Miles in One Day... and Survive

We are getting ready for our 1,000 mile drive from Colorado to California for the final time. Having made the 19-hour road-trip about a dozen times over the years, we know the route and routine inside and out. By this point, we've stopped at every scenic viewing point, read every historic plaque, and taken every quirky detour, so the purpose is not to sight-see so much as it is to simply arrive as quickly, and safely, as possible. We usually leave around 4:00am and aim to get in by 11:00pm, taking turns driving every five hours or so. This time, we'll have all three pets in back which will certainly make for an adventure but our excitement of knowing that by this time next week we'll have a new place to call home in CA is motivating us. As we plan and pack, I started thinking of a list of little things that seem to make this daunting drive more bearable for us. 

Dailey Travel Tips: 
How to Drive 1,000 Miles in One Day... and Survive.


1. Give your car a little lovin': check the fluid levels and tire pressure, clean or replace air filters, and fill up the tank. If you have time, it doesn't hurt to clean out the inside and give it a good vacuum and wipe down. On cross-country or extra-long drives, you may encounter drastic climate changes (snowy mountains to dry deserts and smoggy cities) which can put extra pressure on your car, especially if you're constantly flipping on the heat/AC back and forth. By giving your ride a fresh start, you're less likely to hit inconvenient "bumps in the road". 

2. Dress accordingly: sitting in the same place for hours and hours (and hours) on end can make anyone feel claustrophobic but don't let your outfit contribute to this. Wear lots of layers and ditch the accessories- simple, soft items are your best bets. Wear slip-on shoes but bring along a pair of socks to wear in the car between bathroom breaks. Prepare the night before by staying hydrated, showering, blow drying your hair, and getting plenty of sleep. Try to be conscious of your appearance (crumbs on your clothes, drool on your face, etc.) before wandering into stores or restaurants along the road. While you may be fully aware that you've been awake since 4am, innocent by-standers may mistake your arrival as the zombie apocalypse. 

3. Pack a pic-a-nic: your number one priority is to keep your eyes on the road, gas tank full, and bladder empty, which can mean that most of your "meals" will be of a fast, hand-held variety. Stock a mini cooler or basket with healthy, refreshing snacks to help curb your appetite (or boredom) without compromising your natural curves. Some satisfying ideas are: sliced cucumbers and baby carrots, grapes, watermelon, apples, green machine smoothies, coconut water, dried fruit, trail mix, raw cashews, and lots of H2O! The less sugar, salt, and carbs the better since they'll just make you thirsty and sle..e...p.......y.

4. Make a playlist: think about your destination, the scenery along the way, or any special occasions you want to remember this trip by. Pick songs you love that remind you of these things and throw in lots that you've never heard before. Several years ago a friend and I drove parts of Route 66 from Colorado to California so playing lots of Johnny Cash, Roger Miller, and Pasty Cline made us feel like we were listening to a soundtrack about our trip. It's also fun to hear a song and think back to the open road, the good company, and the fun memories from your drive. 

5. Buy a book on tape: (or check one out from the library) We have listened to everything from sermons to poems on tape during our drives. After the first 10 hours, you may want a break from listening to the same songs or each other's voices for a while. A book is soothing if someone (not the driver...) wants to sleep and it also helps keep your mind engaged in something other than watching the miles roll by on the dashboard. 

6. Keep creature comforts handy: a pillow, blanket, sleeping mask, and ear plugs can make all the difference in getting some quality sleep in the car. There's nothing worse than falling asleep on the arm rest and waking up with a cramp in your neck, your leg asleep, and seatbelt lines across your face, which totally happens, FYI. So I've heard. 

7. Make the most of your stops: instead of just running in to the gas station to grab some corn nuts or use the facilities while you're filling your tank, take a few extra minutes to stretch and get the blood moving. With the dogs, we usually stop 4 or 5 times to walk them around which helps get our legs moving, but doing some jumping jacks or running a lap around the parking lot can help stimulate circulation and mental clarity- especially a good idea if it's your turn behind the wheel. 


happy road-trippin'!

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March 15, 2013

{Thirty Things} update #2!

Tyrone Wells, The Soiled Dove
The past week was busy for both of us at work and around the house but we still managed to have fun doing some of the things on our list, and the beautiful Spring weather has definitely helped! It's hard to believe that in just a few weeks we'll be settling into our new (yet to be determined) home in California, but we now have a pile of empty boxes in the middle of the living room, so it's starting to feel very real. I don't want to blink because I don't want to miss a second of our last days in Colorado but we are also so excited to begin this new chapter. 
Here's the latest update on our Thirty Things:
1. Visit Keystone, build a fire and play in the snow 
2. Walk to Pinche Tacos happy hour
3. See a movie at the Denver Film Center down the street
4. See a concert or live show at a local venue

Last Saturday we went to see the incredibly talented Tyrone Wells at the Soiled Dove Underground. It was our second time seeing him there, 3rd time seeing him in Colorado, and 5th time seeing him live. Great show, great company (as in, my husband, not the crazy housewives who shouted at Tyrone the entire time)...
5. Happy hour margaritas on a rooftop in Boulder 

I met the gals from my old job at Bliss in Boulder for happy hour on Weds! We tried a new place, so no rooftop, but the margaritas were good, the conversation was great, and saying goodbye was unbearable. If you are ever in Boulder, go to Bliss on 17th & Pearl Street and tell the girls I sent you. It's a little slice of heaven.

6. See the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit at the Denver Art Museum
7. Return books to the library, pay fines one last time
8. Dinner at the Rio downtown
9. Visit Breckenridge & Frisco
10. Have brunch at the Greenbriar Inn where we had our reception
11. Hapa Sushi happy hour
12. Take the New Belgium Brewery tour in Fort Collins
13. Have a dirty vanilla Russian chai from Dazbog around the corner
14. Meet Dan in Boulder for lunch

Due to some unfortunate emergency car problems, Dan's ride was in the shop for a few days, which mean we got to carpool into Boulder together (yay!). We got up there later in the day so we were able to grab lunch together before I dropped him off. It was a clear sunny day so we got to enjoy one of our favorite views of the mountains heading into town.
15. Visit Pearl Street and cute shops

I had a little bit of time before meeting the girls for happy hour in Boulder so I headed down to Pearl Street to walk around. It was a quiet afternoon but it made me miss the busy summer evenings when I would walk down after work to see a concert, go to a festival, or grab some dinner.
16. Go to the Garden of the gods
17. Try to find original 1896 blue prints of our house

I tried tracking them down at the Library but sadly they don't have any on file, but they said they do have more documents on the original owner, General Frank Hall, about whom very little is known, so I am excited to go in and try and track down some more details!

18. Find a coffee shop with live music
19. Walk around Cheesman Park
20. Try the new Udi's cafe down the street
21. Celebrate our birthday's!
22. Do bad karaoke at a dive bar
23. Drive up to RedRocks, stand on the stage
24. Walk around City Park
25. Pizza at the Atomic Cowboy
26. Visit 3 microbreweries around the city
27. Get ice cream at Little Man

I am so excited to have a last minute date with a friend and her baby girl this afternoon! When we met in college we were both newlyweds, new homeowners, and recent CA transplants!
28. Play pool at Wynkoop downtown
29. Sell our house, celebrate with dinner at Fruition
30. Have a party!!
...and I have a pretty good feeling we'll be crossing off some more of these this weekend! 
Happy Friday!
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March 12, 2013

Travel Tips: How to Book the Best Hotels


via

I am almost positive that when daylight savings snuck up on us, it decided to jump the clock ahead a full week just to see if anyone noticed. Seriously, where is time going and why wasn't I invited?!

Believe it or not (I'm choosing the latter), we are in our final few weeks before our journey west! Which means I have roughly 736 things to do in approximately 1,209,000 seconds...
1,208,999...1,208,998...

Do not panic! I have it under control. In fact, I crossed off some major to-do-list items yesterday by booking our mini-road-trip-vacation plans yesterday! Those four nights between Colorado and California are now the shiny, glorious carrot-of-resort-bliss that's dangling in front of my face as I begin the tiresome task of building a bonfire with all our belongings packing up our lives. After planning a few rendezvous in foreign countries as our household travel agent over the years, I have learned some tricks I thought I would share with you.

Dailey Travel Tips: How to Book the Best Hotels


1. Use (& abuse) the third party travel sites...

The major websites (cheaptickets.com, cheapcarribean.com, hotels.com, tripadvisor.com) are super user -friendly and make it easy to find, sort, and compare dozens of hotels at once based on specific criteria. They also help you get an idea of the hotel or attraction's ratings at a glance so you can get an unbiased idea of the quality overall. Reviews will also help reveal some major deal-breakers like hidden fees (parking, resort charges) or construction (is the pool out of order?) that hotels aren't freely advertising.

2. Compare your top choices based on priorities and criteria...

price, location, amenities, etc., so you have a clear idea of the pros and cons of each. This will help you sort through the shiny advertisements, photos, and larger-than-life descriptions and so you can make a confident commitment to your destination.

3. Go directly to the hotel's site...

Once you have narrowed down your options and are ready to make reservations, check out the hotel's actual websites to find additional packages and options. I have found that the packages hotels advertise on their private sites are superior in quality and inclusions than the "deals" you can find elsewhere. If you are having trouble figuring out how to get the most bang for your buck, don't hesitate to call up the reservations desk. I simply told the concierge what our plans and priorities were (nice room, spa treatments, meals, etc) and she was able to create a custom package for us that was a few hundred dollars less than if I had booked things individually. Some hotels also offer add-on menus with items at discounted prices ($100 dinner credit for $80, $50 spa credit for $25) that help you save up-front on things you know you'll take advantage of.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for freebies...

While on the phone with your new best friend, the hotel concierge, take the opportunity to toss in some details about how you're booking a very special trip (birthday, anniversary, babymoon, etc.). They will usually share in your excitement and offer to assist you with any special plans, but most importantly they often make a note in the reservation about your special occasion, which means a potential room upgrade or maybe some flowers, champagne, or chocolates will be waiting in your room on arrival which will impress your spouse and result in vacation-optimization.

5. Review hotel policies and be cautious about charging things to the room...

Hotel tax is outrageous, often upwards of 15%, which could get tacked onto that "convenient" continental breakfast you opted for each morning. Unless they are already included in your room charge or package, you could be stuck paying extra $$ in additional tax on your meals or activities because you added your bill onto your stay instead of paying for it individually. Obviously, vacations aren't cheap and you've likely already budgeted out your expenses ahead of time, but read into the fine print upon check-in before getting tempted to causally wave your hand and exclaim, "charge it to my room, daaaarling" while ordering that poolside pina colada. 


happy hotel hunting!!

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March 08, 2013

{ Thirty Things } update!

the Keystone condo
It's only been a week, but this one will definitely go down in the books as one of the most exciting, stressful, and patience-testing times of our lives. Our house came on the market a week ago and it went under contract last night! The next few weeks will be filled with travel plans, house-hunting, and packing but we are still hoping to cross many more things off our little list. Here's an update on what we've done so far!
1. Visit Keystone, build a fire and play in the snow 

We escaped to the mountains last weekend which was the perfect way to avoid the hustle and bustle of showings and open houses going on. We took all three boys (the cat too!) and spent the weekend relaxing and playing in the snow. 

2. Walk to Pinche Tacos happy hour

We found out last night that our house is under contract so to celebrate we headed down to get happy hour with some friends. Five hours later, it was another epic night at Pinche, and won't be our last before we move.

3. See a movie at the Denver Film Center down the street
4. See a concert or live show at a local venue
5. Happy hour margaritas on a rooftop in Boulder 
6. See the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit at the Denver Art Museum
7. Return books to the library, pay fines one last time

I returned my books but by some miracle, they never appeared on my account so I may be in the clear! 
Hailey, 1, Library, 7.

8. Dinner at the Rio downtown
9. Visit Breckenridge & Frisco

We didn't make it into Breckenridge this time but we stopped for lunch at a delicioso Mexican restaurant in little Frisco before making our way down the mountain. It was the perfect fuel we needed to sit in traffic for three hours. 

10. Have brunch at the Greenbriar Inn where we had our reception
11. Hapa Sushi happy hour
12. Take the New Belgium Brewery tour in Fort Collins
13. Have a dirty vanilla Russian chai from Dazbog around the corner
14. Meet Dan in Boulder for lunch
15. Visit Pearl Street and cute shops
16. Go to the Garden of the gods
17. Try to find original 1896 blue prints of our house
18. Find a coffee shop with live music
19. Walk around Cheesman Park

Each day this week that we have had showings (all but one!) I have loaded the pets into the car (yep, cat too!) and driven to a park, (or parking lot) nearby and passed the time. On a nice, sunny day this week we all went over to Cheesman and walked around (not the cat, he explored the car) and rolled in the grass (not me). Well, maybe me. It was a lovely, quiet afternoon amidst the chaos.

20. Try the new Udi's cafe down the street
21. Celebrate our birthday's!
22. Do bad karaoke at a dive bar
23. Drive up to RedRocks, stand on the stage
24. Walk around City Park
25. Pizza at the Atomic Cowboy

The evening we got back from the mountains was stressful as we had to unpack, clean, and get the house ready for showings the next day so we decided to hop over to get some dinner at AC. It was delicious as always but the chipotle ranch on top of the jalapeƱo pineapple pizza burned our tongues right off. They also happen to serve cold beverages, which we were forced to partake in, for medical reasons. 

26. Visit 3 microbreweries around the city

In Keystone, we had lunch at our fave spot, the Dillon Dam Brewery. It doesn't count as one of the microbreweries we want t visit, but it was delicious, and fun to enjoy this tradition one last time for a while. 

27. Get ice cream at Little Man
28. Play pool at Wynkoop downtown
29. Sell our house, celebrate with dinner at Fruition
30. Have a party!!

Happy Friday, friends!!
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P.B.&J. power smoothie


After our smoothie detox a few months ago, I have been on a daily blending spree. No combination of fruit, veggies, and protein is out of reach. Try out a new favorite of mine (and my tastebud's!): 

This protein & antioxidant packed smoothie tastes just like the classic childhood treat, without the sugar, and crust of course, making it perfect for all ages!


Blend together:

2 tbsp plain greek yogurt
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp coconut oil
1 c  spinach
1 c coconut milk
1 c frozen berries  (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc)
drizzle of honey



enjoy!


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March 05, 2013

reading list recap


Overall: *****

Summary: An autobiographical account of the author's battle with breast cancer and with finding herself in "the middle place"- the point between childhood and adulthood and vice versa. The story features two stars, the author and her exuberant father, a local legend, who ultimately faces his own diagnosis. 

What I loved: Corrigan's writing is phenomenal, equal parts funny and matter-of-fact. As I read, I imagined the story as one long conversation I was having with her in my living room. An absolute read for anyone who has been touched by cancer or for any reluctantly grown-up daddy's girl. 

Not so much: Understandably, the author didn't come close to sugar-coating the process of her diagnosis or treatment which can be heart-wrenching to read. Her tone is also heavily sarcastic and straight-forward, which I happen to love, but could come across as harsh to others... but she will truly grip you by the heart and make you laugh, cry, and beg for mercy.

* you may remember me posting this inspirational talk by Kelly Corrigan last fall *


Overall: ****

Summary: Set in the deep south and narrated by the book's main characters, a husband and wife share the story of how they found each other, married, and eventually built a once in a lifetime love, and ultimately coped with losing it. 

What I loved: Being able to recognize who was speaking by subtle nuances in their language and tones, the pure simplicity of the story, the raw and tender moments as the characters processed their grief was heart-breakingly honest. 

Not so much: The author plays on the deep southern stereotypes of evangelical Christians and uses one character as the target of mockery in the story. Though I actually found it funny it also makes me sad that the behavior of other's (however well-intentioned) can cloud people (even fictional characters) from seeing and accepting God. 



Overall: ****

Summary: A daughter suffers through a life of slavery and solitude as she is forced to witness her lover marry her sister, manage the family ranch, and care for her aging tyrannical mother, finding comfort in the only thing she enjoys: cooking. Spending hours pondering and preparing recipes passed down to her from previous generations, Tita finds that through food she is able to communicate to her ancestors, family members, and most importantly, her beloved. 

What I loved: The traditional Mexican recipes, setting, and characters are so rich and vibrant, the different personalities come through so clearly through the writing, and the whimsical storytelling felt like I was sitting in Tita's kitchen listening to generations-old folklore. It's ultimately a love story with a kick. If you love Amelie, you'll love this.

Not so much: The story is beyond-fictional with bizarre and unrealistic events at almost every turn which made me set the book down and roll my eyes once or twice but I read the entire thing in a few hours and it felt like watching a quirky independent film. 



Overall: ***

Summary: The author presents an idea of three distinct leaders based on the Biblical Kings Saul, David, and Absalom and questions the reader about whose rule they are under. By expanding on Biblical events, the author creates fictionalized dialogue and actions that help create a better understanding of how and why each King acted as he did and how we can discern such behaviors in our lives today.

What I loved: The book is written in two parts with the first being primarily teaching, introducing the reader to the various behaviors, actions, and personality types. Part two is mostly the fictionalized story of how the Three Kings came to be and how they each ruled their kingdoms. It made me step back and consider how I choose to lead my own life and how I perceive the actions of those who are in leadership positions in our world today.

Not so much: It was an oversimplified quick read, designed for everyone to understand and relate to, but it is repetitive and somewhat lacking in context. It reminded me of "The Shack", with the fictionalized ideas of the Trinity, which left me at the end with a giant "huh?" all over my face. 


. . .


Strangely, I have discovered I have very few, if any, favorite books by contemporary male authors...
I havent been able to finish East of the Mountains by David Gutterson and can't get through any Malcolm Gladwell's, much to my poor husband's dismay. I don't know what it is but I find that I can't hear their voices like I can with female authors, and their language, slang, characters, or style rarely connect to me. 
Who can recommend a great male-authored read?


 I am ready & willing to keep trying!

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March 01, 2013

{ Thirty Things } To Do in Denver


Keystone, 2007

Getting ready to say goodbye to the place you have spent the past six years is a strange process to say the least. The places and things that have been a part of our daily lives will soon be replaced with new commutes, new views, new restaurants, hobbies, and activities.

( Not to mention the people... but for now, I'm refusing to mention them because I wouldn't be able to hold myself together to write a decent post and since you can't actually see me having a melt down, you would simply be confused by my incoherent rambling. So, no, I am not mentioning the people. yet.)

But now that our days in Denver are seemingly numbered, I wanted to sit down and come up with a list of thirty things for us to do in Denver over the next month... in no particular order, and mostly involving food:


1. Visit Keystone, build a fire and play in the snow 
2. Walk to Pinche Tacos happy hour
3. See a movie at the Denver Film Center down the street
4. See a concert or live show at a local venue
5. Happy hour margaritas on a rooftop in Boulder 
6. See the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit at the Denver Art Museum
7. Return books to the library, pay fines one last time
8. Dinner at the Rio downtown
9. Visit Breckenridge & Frisco
10. Have brunch at the Greenbriar Inn where we had our reception
11. Hapa Sushi happy hour
12. Take the New Belgium Brewery tour in Fort Collins
13. Have a dirty vanilla Russian chai from Dazbog around the corner
14. Meet Dan in Boulder for lunch
15. Visit Pearl Street and cute shops
16. Go to the Garden of the gods
17. Try to find original 1896 blue prints of our house
18. Find a coffee shop with live music
19. Walk around Cheesman Park
20. Try the new Udi's cafe down the street
21. Celebrate our birthday's!
22. Do bad karaoke at a dive bar
23. Drive up to RedRocks, stand on the stage
24. Walk around City Park
25. Pizza at the Atomic Cowboy
26. Visit 3 microbreweries around the city
27. Get ice cream at Little Man
28. Play pool at Wynkoop downtown
29. Sell our house, celebrate with dinner at Fruition
30. Have a party!!



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