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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bass Pro Shop




When it comes to my adventure list, camping and fishing are towards the end…and hunting didn’t quite make the cut. So when I headed into the Bass Bro Shop just to check it out, I revamped my adventure list. Fishing and Camping, number one and two, and hunting number three! Who woulda thought?! But if that means I could have these hobbies and shop at this store, I would do it.
I felt like I was on vacation. The scenery does enough. Waterfall spouting after you enter, an aquarium, high wooded ceiling that gives off a relaxing cabin feel. Cozy combined with entertaining. There is a rock climbing wall, a shotgun museum and a game where you can practice your target shooting. Shopping would never be the same!
I thought I would pop in, walk for a few minutes, and pop out. And that is exactly what happened, except the few minutes turned to a wee bit more! And I didn’t even have any specifics on my list, like a new Shimano Calcutta TE 700 Round Baitcast Fishing Reel. But this store really reels you in for the good stuff. Everything you need, and things you didn’t even think you needed!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sazza




What do you get when you mix salad and pizza? A pizza salad? Close! But I was going for something more along the lines of Sazza, a restaurant in Greenwood Village that is serving up both, separately. Well, unless you order the enchilada pizza, you will have some lettuce on top! And they offer a gluten free crust, and you don’t have to order at least a medium pizza to qualify.
Sazza on Urbanspoon
Sazza’s secret is offering innovative and creative recipes that are unconventional, and the specials change with the seasons. Let’s take the fall special, roasted pumpkin pizza! The pumpkin comes from a local farm, and the crust is topped with mozzarella, garlic oil, caramelized onions, bacon, and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. Yes, I know, who would have dared, and yet made it so successful? Or you could go for something that is agreeable with most everyone's taste buds, a plain cheese pizza. Or really go for it, and get the cheeseburger pizza! Either way, it’s made right in front of you, and the salads too!
It is no longer out of the norm for restaurants to be sustainable, so to stand out they really need their niche. Sazza does everything right, the silverware and staff t-shirts were donated, the glasses are made from recycled wine bottles, they serve certified organic ingredients and everything recyclable is recycled.
And Sazza keeps the good tally’s coming by keeping their menu simple and the portions spot on. This is one restaurant that doesn’t encourage you to buy the large; they want you to leave feeling good. And you feel good being there, with friendly service and the owner, Jeff Rogoff, will stop and make sure you are all good. I asked him a few questions about the restaurant, and through his energy and continuous smile, you know how much passion he and his wife have for the restaurant. He will even turn the questions back on you. It’s an experience that is about so much more than the downright delicious food; it’s about feeling like you are home.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter WonderLights




Whoever said the North Pole is not somewhere you can head to on a whim, was wrong, in a wonderful kind of way. I found it at the Winter WonderLights, at the Wildlife Experience in Parker, Colorado.
The holiday experience starts by following a winding path, lit up with wildlife themed lights and decked with Christmas tunes. I would have almost been completely satisfied just with the cheer the lights brought…but there is even more cheer to pass around.
You betch your holiday spirit that I waited in line to see Santa, and hand delievered the note I jotted at the station inside. There is a small Christmas village, real life reindeers and you can sneak a peak at the “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in the theater.
Outside of Christmas fun, make sure to see the new exhibit “Globeology.” Taking notes, tests and filling out worksheets on the different biomes of the world never really did it for me. But this exhibit did because it accurately depicts eight different biomes. The most diverse night of my life started at the North Pole, and soon I was walking through the Arctic, Rainforest and Desert, where things really started to heat up! I thought about loosing the neck warmer and gloves because it is so real life.
And in case you were wondering what I wrote in my letter to Santa…I asked for a dozen tickets to next years exhibit… so make sure you stay in touch, I just might get that twelve pack.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Morrison Natural History Museum




A Tyrannosaurus Rex sized step back to one million years ago, and it’s only a Velociraptor-sized step away, just north of the town of Morrison, Colorado. This town, 20 miles west of Denver, was once covered with dinosaurs during the Jurassic Era but is populated now with 450 residents.
In 1877, Arthur Lakes discovered first set of fossils in Colorado. The prints were from an Apatosaurus weighing thirty tons and were the size of three school busses. Not only can the actual fossilized footprints be touched on nearby Dinosaur Ridge, but the museum, Morrison Natural History Museum, allows visitors to learn about other dinosaurs prints discovered later and the geologic area surrounding them.
The Morrison Natural History Museum opened in 1995 and is operated by the town of Morrison. On display, visitors will find surprising information on these fossils.
This is the only museum in the world where you will find footprints of a baby stegosaurus, which were also found on Dinosaur Ridge. Find out how Arthur Lakes and others along the way discovered these fascinating links to a geologic past.
The museum is filled with lively displays, plenty to read, and also leaves options for the hands on. Touch live reptiles, prep fossils with an air scribe, or dig for fossils in the sand pit.
Opening at 10 a.m., 45 minute guided tours are available to everyone starting at 10:15, and the last tour leaves at 4:30. Ticket prices for adults and teens (13-17) are $5.00, seniors and children 12 and under pay $4.00 and all children three and under are free. If you have a party of ten or more be sure to make a reservation.
The Jurassic Rocks, traded out for Red Rocks and The Rocky Mountains in the background prove that the Morrison Natural History Museum is a great place for anyone to discover, explore and later share their findings over lunch on the super quaint Main Street of Morrison, Colorado.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Deep Sea Diver B-day!


Who said a birthday party has to stick to cake, ice cream, some pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs? Need a way to spice up your birthday party, or party in general? Here’s an idea. Costume theme. Take a theme like “Deep Sea Diver’s.” You can have fun and it’s not even Halloween. I busted out the duck whistle, and sailor outfit. Other sightings of the night, goggles of all shapes and sizes, and a scuba diver that brought on the oxygen all night.
Costumes unleash the fun, and give an excuse to restock the Halloween candy! Trick-or Treat! The main treat of this night, was the PaRtY Bus! And we headed downtown on a Tuesday night, all Deep Sea Diver’d out! It was a ghost town, most people were at home gearing up for the Wednesday Work Day.
I would suggest swimming down the streets of Denver any night you need a little extra pizzazz to steer away from the so overdone pizza party.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thanksgiving Chills


The Thanksgiving excitement was running wild in me the Monday before. Still a week out, but that’s when my little bro came home for the holidays! Even running an errand with him to a car shop to fix up his car (four wheeling incident) meant more to me than finding a BCBG dress 70 % off at Nordstrom Rack. We jammed to new music, caught up on his school and even caught up on my latest working gig to gig.
I know this sounds crazy, but I had a blast cleaning the house, I mean we are talking deep cleaning. Cleaning is not one of my strong points. I even tried a spray that supposedly took dust away…just a quick splish splash and the dust would be gone! Except it wasn’t. So that day while we manually wiped the dust down, scrub a dub dubbed the floors, and vacuumed away, we turned on the old record player to some Marshall Tucker Band. The walls were rocking and the cleaning was progressing.
And Thanksgiving Day! To see my aunt, uncle, and two cousins. We laughed about the old times, but better yet, made new memories to laugh about. Like my sister mistaking a sign that said, “Shingles vaccine,” for “Singles vaccine.” And if that’s not a big enough mix up, asking the clerk, why you need to be vaccinated if you’re single. Hurry up quick, everyone grab a boyfriend, girlfriend stat!
It’s amazing to see my cousin, Dalton, reach his reach dream of becoming a police officer. And to see my cousin, Travis roll with life with an insane spirit, following his music passion. My cousin, Briana, was available only via phone, but spreading the good word being a teacher and coach in Texas.
Everyone is coming into their own. And what better way to see it than eating homemade cherry tarts from an experienced “Uncle Chef.” Even the whip cream, made from scratch. A great Turkey Day, scratch that, one of the best.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dunraven Inn




I can’t remember the last time a restaurant had me on my first step inside. Actually, I don’t think my cowgirl boots even hit the floor of the Dunraven Inn before I felt as if I struck it rich. We are talking $16,000 dollars rich. Bright, unique designed dollar bills line every two inches by five inches of the bar and entrance of the restaurant. George Washington’s stacked on top of each other saying things like the name and date the patron was there. Crazier things are said too; “Holla Holla for a Dolla.” It’s estimated that there is around 16,000 of these bills in the restaurant.
The dollar bills were enough to make the night. But there was more ahead. A chilly night in a log cabin, another tally mark. The service, tally that up as well. I asked our waitress what she thought of the ziti. When she told me the chef prepares it so there is a crispy layer on top, I was sold. And then she told me the seafood was flown in fresh that day. Now I was in a pickle! But they were famous for Italian first, so ziti it was.

The food…tally tally tally! And sure, why not one more? The Tomatoes Luciano went a little something like this. Sliced tomatoes, parmesan and mozzarella, paired with vinaigrette dressing and olives on the side. Ohh and the basil leaves on top! This presentation inspired me and I tried to recreate it the next night in my home…looks like I won’t be opening a restaurant.

I was so relaxed in the cozy atmosphere I felt like I was the star of Eat Pray Love, twirling the cheese of the ziti around my fork. I could hear classical music in my head. And Mona Lisa was giving me a small smile. No joke. The owner of the restaurant always picks up a Mona Lisa piece when he travels, and displays it in the restaurant. She is everywhere. Ya, we will tally that too.

Deep history and original, tally deserving. The name was once the Holland Inn in the 1930’s, and changed to the Dunraven Inn in 1970. Still here today, I really wish the dollar bills on the walls could talk.

And now there are at least 16,002 dollar bills stapled to these historic walls…of course we decorated one each! They even trusted us with the staple gun. I am glad I could leave a little something behind, and am sure next time I make my way North I will head back to see my dollar, and leave another.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Red Ball Fashion Show






Fierce fashion forward thinking. The models, designers and stylists owned the catwalk at the 2nd annual Red Ball Fashion Show. And I got to see the day start to finish to produce a video trailer for the website. Makeup and hair of the day started at 10 a.m. Over 90 models, each in a specially crafted fashion.

The event left no doubt in my mind that anyone will ever have to worry about fashion and design reaching a plateau. This show let anything go.

Things were done with hair that I never thought would be possible. It is possible for someone with hair reaching passed their shoulders to be formed into a Mohawk. Hot pink, royal blue, feathers pinned, jewelry infused, all explain the hairstyles of the night.

Make up of all styles. Glamorous to classic, all the way to neon shaded eyes, cheeks and lips. And designs for all occasions. Something that speaks to the Victorian Era, a daring night look, and even clothes to kick around in on the casual days. Every area covered.

Models with no experience, or even years of experience. And they all rocked it. Told to walk like two glasses of champagne were balanced on their shoulders, one foot in front of the other and to lead with their hips. All this in your mind and they still looked graceful. Round of applause.

I motion to take the glasses of champagne off their shoulders and cheers to cultivating the creativity in all aspects of fashion.

First-Take-Features Films Elite DJ's!





First-Take-Features filmed a promotional video for Elite DJ’s! A three-camera shoot allowed us to get this spectacular crowd on tape and keep the energy and memories of this night preserved forever. How could you not capture the four-year-old boy who thrives in the center of the dance circle? He undoubtedly was born with a beat! Or the groomsmen jumping up and getting down to any song the D.J. of the night, Matt Kenfield threw on. It was a vibrant crowd, and I never wanted to hit pause.

Elite DJ’s doesn’t want to be the spotlight of the night, but they will provide you with entertainment and constant beats to get the dance floor jamming. It is rare to see the entire crowd on the dance floor, but that was no rare for this reception! We are talking even the Gramps and Grams out there, throwing out there way to dance to the hip-hop. And the line to the open bar was empty at times, because the entertainment was that great.

Receptions are meant to be a celebration and good cheer. Elite DJ’s and Matt Kenfield definitely made this happen. If the party is lacking, he will pull out of the D.J. booth to teach the Cupid Shuffle or any other dances or songs the crowd would go for, to keep the beets bumpin! So Jump up and get down!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Four Season Denver



If it were up to me, I would wine and dine at the Four Season’s every season. You see, the wind was in full force, brushing my hair was a waste, because by the time I reached the inside it was in a tizzy! I was on Edge, walking into the Four Seasons restaurant, “Edge.” And even before I sat down I was off edge and on cloud nine. The friendly host had a warm smile, started a friendly conversation and walked me to the group of girls I was meeting. Thank you sir

Wilhelmina Denver hooked it up. The focus on fresh, local and seasonal foods brought out a fancy shrimp cocktail, a fresh bottle of merlot opened so elegantly, and a Maine Lobster. The plates are decorated so fancily, and yet are so simple. I soon learned that to work here you must be an artist along with a chef! Very considerate artists, you see I didn’t even have to crack open the lobster, it was laid on top of the shell for me. How convenient.

After all of us girls took a bite of the chocolate mousse. While I was melting I was trying search for the willpower. Despite a huge effort I just couldn’t find it! Ok, another bite, and another… I thought I was done until the waiter came back around and offered us all chocolate cow suckers! MOO, I mean BOO! More chocolate! How can you say no to such a cute little cow on a stick?

It didn’t matter that from looking out the large glass windows I could tell I was going to face the wind again, hair in a tizzy, winter coming. I just had one of the most enjoyable nights, and it didn’t require anything crazy as usual! Sometimes it’s nice to slow it down, just a little.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

B17 Bomber Site





A hike to history. Big history that could also be explored. Almost exactly 67 years ago (October 18, 1943) a B-17 from the Lowry Air force Base crashed on Stormy Peaks. A night training mission that was never completed, started in Rapid City S.D., and stopped when the plane was unable to clear the 12,148 summit. It took two days to carry the eight bodies down from the mountain. Left behind were the remains of the plane that many have made their way to explore.

As I strolled along the crash site I looked at the different metal parts, wondering where on the plane it once was. Parts of the engine, wheels and body of the plane could be identified. My curiosity had me wondering what these eight men were talking about. Maybe the holiday season, and if they would get to go home for Christmas or Thanksgiving, maybe even both. Maybe some had young kids and were sharing funny stories.

Finding the hike is not exactly clear cut. My Uncle, even with his topographical map, my mom with detailed directions, and both with an impeccable sense of direction had us a little astray…however we did take some detours trying to arrive to “gate check” sooner. I would suggest following directions to a T, even if you think you can hook up with trail the way mountain men do.

The hike is about 5 miles each way. There are no signs pointing to the B17 crash site. Start at the Pingree Park campus at the Stormy Peaks Trailhead, follow the signs to Twin Lakes and then follow the stone arrows. How nice of someone to set up the stone arrows, and how rude of my uncle to switch them to point the other way! Jokes jokes…seriously. Trust the arrows. And trust me, that this will be one the most unforgettable hikes you will ever take.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fit for Fire 5K



Exactly three weeks into November, time to grab the warm weather clothes and fire up the engines to support the Denver Fire Department, and the Denver Fire Fighters Burn Foundation. Today marked the Fit for Fire 5k around Wash Park. And fit was the word for the fire fighters that participated in a fun run with the kids after in their full on fire suits. Hot stuff. (Also in reference to the fireman calendar…whoo wee!)
Most all kids grow up admiring Fireman. They community support, get involved with schools, and are many people’s heroes. I might be past the elementary and middle school age, but to see the twinkle in the eyes of these little kids when they shake the hand of a firefighter is fabulous, and reminds me of when I shared the same light in my eye at the age. Still do today, especially as you learn what it actually means to risk your life.
And how great that the Burn Foundation can take some pain out of something as damaging as fire. It’s hard to think of anything as painful and severe as to what some burn victims endure. A slight burn from the oven has me in a hizzy, I can’t imagine the road to recovery.
Something as simple as running as 5K will hopefully allocate more resources, support and education to help the healing and goodness of such a wonderful non profit. Fire away!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Festival Frenzy ends




The festival frenzy is now over. Tallying up the ballots last night proves the audiences were generally ranking films in the “excellent” and “very good” quality. And the festival overall, would fit right in that category for me.

Screenings, exciting parties and receptions are all extraordinary, even when you are running on a mere four hours of sleep from night to night. The Late Night Lounge is another primary reason! You tell yourself, I am going to head in and out. But then you meet someone who shares your passion and production, and you keep treading the night. Until, what, the sun is already saying hello once again.

The energy and people of the festival keep you going. When you are about to catch yourself in a yawn, someone somehow will always inject the energy shot. Fascinating filmmakers, some of whom empty their own pockets to send out a message. A passionate staff that truly values the Denver Film Society and would never see this just as work. And benefactors and patrons who value and promote film in Colorado. I would start it all over tomorrow again if I could, and you betcha I am already gearing up for the 34th Starz Denver Film Festival.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A trip to the Greens (Golfing)



You know how people say to do something once a day that scares you? Well, I took that advice and went golfing. The day started on the driving range, and things seemed to go smooth enough. Time to hit the par three. Which I agreed to, thinking it was three holes. Well, nine holes later, I was wondering, what the heck? I could barely get that ball to go two feet, or straight. It was a rough day.

I thought by putting this off until snow is usually covering the ground, I could once again put this off until next year. I know I don’t have the golfing blood in me. And golfers would agree. I made divots and I struck out.

But really, lets be honest. I am glad I went. It doesn’t matter that I don’t foresee myself ever owning my own set of golf clubs, checkered pants, and fancy for golfing only shoes. And the more I golfed, the more I realized, it didn’t matter that I was in the foreign weed traps, sand, and playing I-Spy for my ball all day. I had fun. I learned to laugh at myself, even when others were laughing “with” me.

And best of all…I hear practice makes perfect. So I am going to keep at this. And I am giving you a fair warning. If you are driving near a par three and a ball flies past your car, maybe I improved my drive (not aim) and please feel free to look over and wave! Ill hit you with my best-shot…fire away!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ouzel Lake




Google Searched “Great hikes in Estes Park.” I was led to Calypso Cascades. And I couldn’t wait until my feet did the same. After a drive through Allenspark, must be a very desirable place to live because there is a spring there…free drinking water for all. But with a population of only about 500 people, that wouldn’t be so hard to do. You probably don’t even have to wait in line. After seeing most of the town, a few restaurants, a post office, we were ready to get wild!

We headed to the Wild Basin area. If you are anywhere in the Rocky Mountain National Park, you are set to have one of the best hikes, views and times. Waterfalls draw me in, not literally luckily. So when I read we would be walking along a stream to a waterfall, I clicked that red X on the internet page, no need to look any further.

The plan was set. Hike to Calypso Cascades, out and back, about four miles roundtrip. But then there was a wooden carved sign telling us if we kept going another mile we would be to Ouzel Falls. Done! And then would you look at that…another wooden sign, two more miles and we would be to Ouzel Lake. By golly, how could you not keep trekking? A snowy ridge was ahead and a couple coming down the trail warned us…but sometimes you have to experience it for yourself.

Keeping our heads down to avoid wind burn and snow in our eyes, it was a debatable decision to turn around. Shoes soaked from water puddles, I was getting the chills, and they were multiplying, but I couldn’t lose control….or focus! A wooden sign sang to me, and etched out the words “Ouzel Lake .5 miles.” Ohh ya we had this. The falls were great, the trails clear and people friendly while we were in the timber…but I stepped into something different at Ouzel Lake. A postcard. The serenity of it even took the chills out of my feet. A ten mile hike worth every snow covered step.

And another wooden sign…Bluebird Lake only 1.5 miles away?! Do we dare! Luckily there was a wise man that was also enjoying the hike, and talked us out of it due to the conditions. Summer is not so far away…and Bluebird Lake will be better enjoyed then.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Starz Denver Film Festival Opening Night




And it was dashing. Toasting Aaron Eckhart at the Four Seasons Hotel before the red carpet awaited him for the debut of a film he stars in with Nicole Kidman, "Rabbit Hole," will be a memory I have forever. The film uncovers the journey of a couple struggling to get back in the routine of life after the death of their four year old son. An emotional film with many comedic breaks, leaves no question why Eckhart recieved an excllence in acting award from the Starz Denver Film Festival. He makes you laugh, he makes you cry, and in despite of it all, gives you a sense of comfort that despite loosing someone you are closest to, it will somehow, somewhere down the road be OK.

I was unsure about seeing such a heavy film, especially before something as exciting as the opening night party for the SDFF 33rd year. Tears and party favors don't always coincide with one another. But there was a renewed sense by the end of the film that brought everyone inside the Ellie Caulkins Opera House just a little bit closer.

The crowd gathered for the kick of the 12 day event that will showcase over 200 films from around the country. The Seawell Ballroom was decorated extravagantly, the dancing was on, and the cheers'ing continued. So I will raise my glass for what's going to continue to highlight the film industry in the heart of Denver. Let's get it started in here!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thai Bistro Littleton, Red Bean Ice Cream



Have you ever ordered something that scared you? How about something like red bean ice cream? I suppose it sounds better than green bean ice cream. As I looked at the dessert menu at Thai Bistro in Littleton, Colorado, I wanted something that I hadn’t had before…typical. I have tried green tea ice cream, mango sherbet, and who hasn’t caved and tried a fried banana. (If you haven’t, tell me your will power secrets…see the comment section below ☺)
We spooned the red bean ice cream. Red tint and all. It’s a vanilla based ice cream, made with adzuki beans. These beans traveled all the way from Asia to sweeten up my smile.
I liked it. I mean once you’ve tried vanilla, chocolate, and cake batter ice cream, its only time to graduate onto something a little more authentic. Don’t ya think?
And these beans are known for their healing properties, and the amount of vitamins and nutrients in store…we’ve got magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, B Vitamins, …when’s the last time you saw that on your Dryers label? And it gets sweeter; the beans are high in potassium, low in sodium and help reduce blood pressure. And high in protein and low in fat. So what are you waiting for, get those red beans churning in the ice cream machine…there are plenty of recipes on line.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Broker Restaurant Denver





When you are at a restaurant like the Broker in Denver CO, you don’t want to be rushed. This is a sit down and take your time kind of place. Because we were in a hurry to make a show, our friendly waitress told us to relax, she would talk to the chef and we would even have time for the caramel cheesecake!

Ok, we took her advice and situated ourselves into the old bank teller’s booth. Yes, we were eating in a bank and even walked through two vaults (one that weighs 23 tons) on the way to our table. But this bank wont have customers knocking on your door needing to open up a new checking account to score that sweet new flip cam. DEAL! Opened in 1907 and was later transformed into the Broker Restaurant.

Much of the inside is still even in the original state…like the sign on the bar that reads, “Prices will be delayed 15 minutes,” in reference to the stock market. You will even notice the phone jacks and call switches to notify the security guards when a teller needed to exit. My favorite was the molding and artwork in one of the conference rooms, now that’s craftsmanship.

What a treat (even sweeter than the caramel cheesecake) for anyone to get to walk into a restaurant and be taken back to the early 1900’s. Can you imagine being one of the tellers, bankers or security guards that worked here, and to come back and see it today? They might even sit down and enjoy the delicious Broker Shrimp Bowl, one of the Broker traditions. A whopping bowl of complimentary shrimp.

Our dinner was soon wheeled out, oh I felt so fancy. My water was never left empty and no server ever walked by our table without a warm smile. And I forgot to mention, I will take ANYONE there on there birthday. (SHHH…Dinner is always free on your birthday!) That beats a cheesy happy birthday song and a slice of cake.

The meal looked like it belonged on a postcard; work was put into the presentation. Wanting to enjoy every bite in the historic interior I was pretty bummed out when I had to ask for a box, and another box to put the cheesecake into. But music to my ears! The manager of the restaurant asked if he could hold the desert and our dinner and we could come back after the show.

It turns out when your situation may look like a bit of a disappointment it could really be disguised as a surprise. Back to the Broker after the show. The real treat was in the tour the manager took us on. To see the old elevator shaft, the wine cellar in the basement, historic pictures of the original bank and the old conference rooms made the night spectacular. We were treated like royal highnesses and are just ordinary people that enjoyed an extraordinary restaurant for the history and service and delicious cuisine.