What To Do in Denver

You’ve probably noticed how much I love living in Seattle. I’m protective of Seattle. And at this point in my life, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

But sure, I could do without the grey, dark and dreary days in the deep of winter. I could definitely stand for a few less homeless bums at my bus stop downtown. And the Seattle freeze is a real thing, let me tell you.

You know those nights when you wear embarrassing sweatpants and eat way too much ice cream and probably binge-watch an entire season of some trashy show you won’t admit to watching? It can be really nice to take a break from your normally put-together life on hold and just… relax. That’s kind of how I feel about traveling. Sometimes, it’s nice to leave.

I’ve read in books and seen in movies that new couples like taking little trips early on in the relationship. They go to tropical resorts and stay in hotels with fancy sheets. I imagined fluffy robes and eating cheesecake in bed. White curtains floating in the breeze. Ok… maybe I was imagining a honeymoon in Paris. To each their own.

What John and I ultimately agreed on was a bit of an earthy adventure. We wanted to get on a plane. We wanted to go someplace we’ve never been before (Which is actually a lot harder than it sounds! We’ve been a LOT of places, but none of the same places. He’s Southern, I’m West Coast with family on the East Coast.) Finally, we wanted to get out of town and EXPLORE. (And I was secretly crossing my fingers for some sunlight!)

Denver seemed like the perfect mix. Far enough that we needed a plane, we’d both never been and after doing my research (books, blogs and magazines galore!) I realized that Denver had a few really cool places. IMG_0956After a 2 hour plane ride (yes, we were those embarrassing people taking couple selfies on the plane) we had arrived in the world’s weirdest airport. Not only does it look like a giant white circus tent from far away, but inside are the creepiest murals we have ever seen. Welcome to Denver, we are giving you some mixed messages…

IMG_0935IMG_0936First stop was Casa Bonita. A friend recommended the restaurant to John, telling him that there was a 30 ft waterfall and pirate shows. John was so excited that we basically left the airport, threw our bags into the hotel room and rushed off straight to Casa Bonita. The restaurant is an unmistakable pink steeple that looks like it belongs to a Mexican church and not a shady strip mall with bars on the windows. IMG_0941IMG_0949You’d never begin to imagine what was inside. Our waitress gave us fair warning, “The food isn’t great, but the atmosphere is what makes it worth it.” Not only was there a 30ft waterfall in the middle for us to sit next to (for perfect views of the pirate shows performed by high school theater kids of course) but there were multiple levels of rooms, with enough chairs to seat 1,000′s of people. Each room was decorated differently and my very favorite looked liked a French tea room. A close second looked like a cave, complete with stalactites and stalagmites. After wandering for a full hour, peeking our heads into each room, we left this weird dusty fun house with huge smiles on our faces. Who in their right mind would build this monster of a restaurant? And who’s decision was it to serve canned green beans and nacho cheese?

Our first full day was filled to the brim with embarrassing touristy poses… it’s alright if you want to scroll down and pretend like this never happened. IMG_0970

IMG_0968IMG_1029IMG_1028IMG_0965IMG_0969 (Extra curriculars: continental breakfasts, the most interesting hotel people watching, a king size bed, a total library boner, a less-cooler than Portland downtown shopping, Larimer Square: shortest historical block ever, Tattered Cover: an eh-bookstore, a “there’s too much oxygen in my nose!” moment, failed attempts at a romantic date night dinner in the Cherry Creek and Wash Park neighborhoods and driving past a LOT of fast food chains and 7-11′s.)IMG_0962Let’s talk about food. Denver is a stark contrast to Seattle in that it has a lot of chain restaurants and a LOT of fast food. It’s not that we don’t love fast food… we do. But when you’re on vacation, you want to eat amazinggggg food. And that was tough to find in Denver. Our favorite spot was hands-down Park Burger... and quite possibly the best burger that I’ve ever had. We stumbled on the Highland neighborhood on accident, we got lost. In a manic, starved state we combed the streets for something, anything… and Park Burger was cute. It was cute inside too.. kind of a retro Denver diner. He ate the Croque and I had the Double. It was so good, that I didn’t even take a picture of it. If you go to Denver, eat there. Please. Thank you.IMG_1037In all my research, I had a hunch that John and I would really like Denver Biscuit Company. And we did. The space was a retro-space age and filled with casual 30-something brunchers and young, hip families. The music was classic 50′s-60′s. There was an all-you-can-pour hot coffee station. And of course there were biscuits. John got a fried chicken biscuit sandwich (did I mention he was Southern?) and I got the classic biscuits and gravy. And while I’m partial to my boyfriend’s biscuits and gravy, the experience was pretty great. Finally, my research came in handy!

John and I have tried to hit up most of the Seattle museums, but much to his dismay, Denver takes the museum cake… in a BIG way. IMG_1049We stood in line for a whopping 3 minutes to get into Denver’s free Art Museum day and he got his fill of historical art while I looked at old movie posters and conceptual art. There’s even a very tall, windowless Burton-esque building that hides all more historical stuff while the contemporary art was housed in an airy, modern, spaceship-looking building!

He was very excited to go the Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys and honestly, I wasn’t too keen on going. How wrong I was! The museum was really an old home used (bathrooms and all) to display toys and dolls. The miniature house replicas were what really took my breath away. The care that went into every detail was astounding. It was a weird hour, but it was a surprisingly really fun trip. I would definitely recommend stopping by, spending a few dollars and taking a look around!IMG_0982IMG_0976And my favorite part of the trip was seeing dinos! The Museum of Nature and Science was HUGE and we had to tag team the exhibits: he took Gems, Minerals and Maya, while I took Wildlife… we shared Space, Mummies and Dinosaurs… we have our priorities after all! The dinosaur bones were incredible. I couldn’t believe that I was so close to so many ancient bones found in Colorado! They even had a glass wall were you could see the team brushing and cleaning off fossils. Incredible.IMG_1008IMG_1027IMG_1017^This is what some black bears look like!IMG_0993IMG_0994

Snow in Seattle

I admit, it did snow back in December and I was PISSED. I had spent the night at John’s and when I went outside in the morning, I realized that I would have to change out of my cute dress and tights to all the clothes I had with me… and wear tread-less ballet flats. Oh, and none of the buses were running, so I had to walk most of the way to work. Needless to say, I got into work freezing cold, dripping wet and mad as hell. Snow had betrayed me.

This time though, it was a perfect experience. Snow and I have since come to terms and made up. While I was curled up on the couch, catching up on the Opening Ceremony of the Russian Olympics, I realized that it was snowing outside. From the comfort of my warm house, I enjoyed watching the snow blanket the city. On Sunday morning, I bundled up in a snow coat and snow boots and took a long walk around the neighborhood, snapping pictures of the kids sledding down the hills and dogs rolling around in the snow. By Monday morning, the snow had gone and I could get to work with ease. Now that’s more like it!

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Round Up

I’ve seriously neglected this blog in a big way.

Rather than that usual nagging feeling that I get when I feel like I’ve given up on something… this really feels natural for me. In many ways, writing in this blog has helped me sort out my thoughts and pushed me to do new things. During the past six months or so, I’ve needed to write less. Maybe I’ve needed to share less as well.

Sadly, yes, it might have to do with having a boyfriend. Why type it out when I can share that thought or idea with the person that’s with me almost all of the time? But I also have a job that requires that I write blog posts for other people. I can imagine that it drains some of my desire to write in my spare time as well. And if you haven’t noticed, all of my social networks have taken a severe drop… with the exception of Instagram of course!

The fact is, I want to write to stay connected with other people. I’ve had college friends and family members respond in such a wonderful way to what I write that it makes me feel so loved and cared for. But I also don’t want our relationship to become one sided. I want to know what’s going on in their life as well!

So here’s a round up of the last few months, in case you missed it!

IMG_0073I FINALLY went to the Seattle Aquarium! And while I was spoiled, growing up near the Monterey Bay Aquarium, this one was perfectly nice… if less exciting. I was in wonderful company though!

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John and I have started a new tradition, Thursday night date night. From what started as a compromise, date night has turned into a fun weekly adventure of new restaurants and museum wanderings. We would both be completely happy with going to bed at 8:30pm (it’s happened more than I’d like to admit!) but going out one night a week is a fun way to try new things without becoming too overwhelmed with options!

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My crazy little sister came to visit for Christmas! We did all the touristy things of course, but we also did some things that I never get a chance to do, like get a manicure and go into new antique shops!

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New Year’s Eve is my least favorite holiday, but this year I spent it with a handsome man, eating lobster and steak at home and then venturing out to meet some of his friends for the big countdown. And in true Seattle fashion, it was too wet and foggy to see the fireworks!

January was admittedly not my favorite month. Lots of really hard, unfortunate things happened in in. But there were a few great moments:

IMG_0391 On the first day of the year, I baked something that I’d always wanted to bake. I’ve really lost my cooking itch lately, but small victories like this keep my faith up!

IMG_0404 I’ve started to go to the gym. And anyone who knows anything about me, knows that this is a VERY big deal. For the past 3 months or so, I’ve actually been really good about going 2-3 times a week. It’s a small, laid back place where I admittedly don’t do anything too strenuous… but I go! This escalator was closed for months, and almost everyday after the gym I would have to climb up that huge flight of stairs. I was pretty excited to see what it was working again!

IMG_0487January had it’s share of really stressful moments and I’m honestly pretty proud of how I handled them all. One of my biggest accomplishments and challenges of the month was remaining positive in this moment.

IMG_0515 A date night at a super cool oyster bar, one of the restaurants I’ve been pining for… the Walrus and the Carpenter! It doesn’t get better than that!

IMG_0420 Our 1920′s Holiday Party was stressful leading up to it… but the night was wonderful in so many ways!

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Leaning In and Taking the Next Steps

bookI’m not ashamed to be a feminist.

I’m so happy to be in the company of women like Sheryl Sandberg, who understand the importance of this label and feel compelled to take responsibility of their actions. If you are a woman with a professional career, or aspirations of one, please read her book, Lead In.

Don’t worry, Sandberg is very careful with the F-word and looks at the matter with humility. Her personal stories are relateable, and her hope for women isn’t unrealistic. She outlines very clearly in each chapter a strategy for getting closer to the mythical “having it all” ideal.

For me personally, this book came at the perfect time. I’ve been feeling lately that I haven’t been pushing myself in the same way that I once did. I haven’t been staying current or building my skill set like I was a couple of years ago. The book inspired me to opt for a mentor, take an online class and an in-person class for the month of February! I’ve even put a dent in some of the studying I’ve been meaning to do for an optional test at work! It’s definitely all feeling a bit overwhelming right now, but I know ultimately it will pay off for me!

 

Oscar Picks

Screen shot 2014-02-09 at 5.42.38 PMObviously, American Hustle had a phenomenal cast. The casting and level of acting was impeccable. The soundtrack was incredible. The costumes, hair and makeup were ridiculously good. At times, I felt like there was a bit of a lag, and the story could’ve used some fine tuning, but I left the theater feeling lighter, happier. This movie was FUN.

(And seriously, give the soundtrack a listen.)

Screen shot 2014-02-09 at 5.43.21 PMAfter August: Osage County was over, no one left the theater. (And, no, we weren’t waiting for a sneak peek to the next Marvel movie.) I think we were just all sitting there with the overwhelming feeling of SADNESS. All that fun from American Hustle? You won’t find it here. Yes, AOC had an impeccable cast. Yes, the acting was phenomenal. And yes, I’d probably give every actor and actress in the movie an award. But don’t go into this movie wanting to feel uplifted or inspired. There’s no soundtrack, there’s hardly a set or costume. It’s just dark and really, really sad… and what’s worse? It’s completely realistic.

(And Benedict Cumberbatch plays a simple American amazingly well!)

Screen shot 2014-02-09 at 5.38.25 PM   The film that took the cake was Her.

What I saw took my breath away. Spike Jonze created a world. Everything felt realistic without feeling real. It felt soft, airy, and fresh. I have never seen a movie like this before. I wanted to be a part of this world of high waisted pants and buttoned collars, sun kissed beaches and bright city lights. Still, weeks later, I replay scenes of this movie in my mind and smile. I just really, really liked it. I know a lot of people want to make this movie about so much more, but I truly just enjoyed escaping into the world of Her.