Monday, September 24, 2012

Test Drive Anyone?

     It's been a crazy week (sorry this has taken a few days to post) - Burton movie premiere, friend from Chicago in town ( I got to watch her 1 year old), trip to ER with a friend, so why not add car shopping to the list of things to do!  A couple weeks ago the car dealer called me, yes - they CALLED ME! Asking if I want to get rid of my car (2009 VW Passat) apparently there is a shortage of 2009 cars for sale (everyone call your dealership).  I told them I would stop by on Friday but seriously went in for the entertainment and didn't expect to land a deal.  As a female, I must tell you buying a car is right up there with trying on swimsuits or jean shopping - definitely not my idea of fun!  I'm in sales so I understand when I walk in that door the amount of schmoozing that is about to start dripping, especially being a woman, they love this and wait for us to come 'looking'...well, once again, my dad would be proud. I looked around, had an idea of what I wanted, had done my research and know that I can call my brother-in-law Darin if I need some questions answered.  I took the VW Touareg out for a spin, the entire time the guy trying to sell me on the features and benefits of a car he's probably been in twice. We got back to the dealership and he asked what I thought, "nice"- but I won't know until I try to take it to the mountains and considering it was Friday at 5pm I wasn't going to attempt that one but thought I could try it out for a couple days and see what I think... he laughed and said "we don't let people take the cars for weekend" -  to keep this story short - they did. I had the car until Monday at noon.
     I woke up Saturday and called my friend Jacqui, "are you up for a drive and in return I'll treat you to lunch?"I picked her up at 11am and away we went. I wanted to test the car on I-70... per Darin, that is the road to test the "pick up and go"... so we did. Jacqui was up for anything so we started our adventure through Evergreen, CO - to Morrison, CO taking the canyon road. We stopped for lunch at a favorite Mexican Restaurant and shopped then drove a mile down the road to Red Rocks.  If you aren't familiar with this...its an amphitheatre built into the rocks - Jacqui and I have been known to walk the stairs for a few hours, you can have picnics, they have great concerts and lots of hiking.  So, come along and enjoy our day!
The Morrison Inn - Morrison, CO is located 17 miles SW of Denver. Population is less than 500 and this restaurant has some of the best Mexican food and margaritas. They have a rooftop patio with live music and serve you chips and salsa (has a kick) when you sit down.
I was trying to capture this photo for Instagram (you can follow me at Kristin303)
Jacqui and I walked down the main road after lunch and stumbled across this boutique. They had new, old, china to clothes, vintage and lace along with jewelry and gifts. 
We both got a laugh when we saw this sitting on the shelf. Redneck Wine glass. 
Kristin and her new friend 
This was the drive in from the entrance off the main road in Morrison. Stunning. 

A glimpse of Red Rocks

This is the amphitheatre - Denver is in the distance.  These are the stairs we walk - add in some altitude and you have quite the workout!

Jacqui and I  - another beautiful day in Denver! The sun and blue sky never gets old.
This is worth a trip to Denver! It's a fun place to visit anytime of the year.  They offer group workouts on the weekends - if I tried to tell you how many people participated you wouldn't believe me. Colorado loves their fitness and workouts!
Vermont has become a favorite state of mine - as Jacqui knows whenever I need a little good luck I'll ask to see a Vermont license plate - well, look what we saw as we left the park! 
My new car! 2013 VW Touareg! It's black, beige leather interior and my first SUV. Can't wait for the snow to fall and my drives to the mountains!

As you can see the day was successful - not only did I get to test drive the car (I bought it today) but I was able to do a little exploring with my friend Jacqui!  Next up the Bronco game! I'll work on getting some pics posted and later this week I'll be heading to Summit County to stay near Keystone for the weekend. xo 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Taste of France!

     What does one do on a Sunday in September when your football teams aren't playing - not sure about all of you, but I made my first French Macaron.  I wanted to clarify they are French vs the American Coconut Macaroon.
     I went to Paris years ago and spent my vacation in Southern France earlier this Summer and I must say, the French KNOW their sweets! Chocolate filled croissants, crepes and my favorite the macaron (by the way it rhymes with phone)!! LOVE them! All the colors, the flavors and fillings - with a cup of tea or a glass of bubbly, delicious!
     My mom, sister and I have been talking about Paris a lot these days - talking about making a trip next year and it got me thinking...I want to make a Macaron!
     So here we go, started with the help of Google - how do I go about making a French Macaron??... well, thanks to Joanne Chang, a Pastry Chef that not only gave me a fairly easy list of ingredients, a written recipe, but also a video I could watch and replay throughout the course of events! Thank you!!
Ingredients ready - Kitchen Aid mixer prepared to bring it all together, parchment cut and placed on cookie sheets so let's get this cookie made. 
Egg Whites, Powered Sugar, Almond Flour, & Sugar - whisk it until the batter becomes a meringue - light, fluffy with peaks - YES, I had peaks. Success!! 
This is where the fun began - using a piping bag!  Just filling the bag provided a challenge for me but it all turned out OK.  Next time I will make them a tad bigger but for my first time, I'll take it. 
Fresh out of the oven! They have the glossy look, crispy and yet soft - I think they turned out onto the filling.
I made Chocolate Ganache, Vanilla Buttercream (I even scraped a vanilla bean), Chocolate Cream and Strawberry Rhubarb.  My friend Jacqui's mom sent me her homemade jam so I thought why not include that as a filling!!
TaDa!!! Here they are! I can't wait to make a cup of tea and bite into one.
I have dinner with some friends on Wednesday and I thought it would be the best surprise to bring along a taste of France!!
If I wasn't for Joanne Chang - today would have been much more challenging! Give her video a look and her recipe a try - I'm no longer intimidated to make a Macaron!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Welcome Peyton!

     This past weekend kicked off one of the best seasons of the year - I know you are all thinking it's not Fall yet, correct, it's FOOTBALL season! I love football - NFL, College, PeeWee...ok, kidding about PeeWee.  Tailgating, football pools, and gathering of friends to cheer on your favorite team!
     I grew up in Wisconsin and we LOVE our Green Bay Packers! I moved to Chicago years ago and I remember my dad wanting to talk to me about the move - I thought it would be about paying the rent on time, making sure to make my bed or never leave your dishes in the sink - nope, he wanted to make sure I continued to cheer on the Packers and just because I was living in Chicago there would be no room for a Bears fan in our household!
    When I moved to Denver 18 months ago I never thought in a million years I would be lucky enough to get Bronco season tickets (thank you Lisa!!) - I know what you're thinking and yes, I'm still a GB Packer fan, but c'mon the Packers have to play in Denver at some point!
     Again, I'm so grateful to have the tickets and did I share they are the 1st ROW and close to the end zone!  I'd never been to Mile High Stadium (now called Sports Authority Field) and I wasn't sure what to expect - I remember walking down to my seats...I stopped and started to grin from ear to ear, the seats are fantastic!
     I will share more posts on the games as the season continues but this post is all about a man named Peyton Manning - he's our new Quarterback - thank you Indiana for giving him up! Last season we had  Tim Tebow - great man, gives a lot to the community and brought a level of energy to the game/stadium that Denver definitely needed but he moved on to the NY Jets this season once Manning came on board, ok, sorry back to the game on Sunday!
    Sunday we played the Pittsburgh Steelers - it was a big game for both teams - we have a new Quarterback and last January we beat the Steelers in overtime of a Playoff game, 29-23!
Each game there are skydivers that land on the field before the National Anthem is played.

All eyes are on them as they glide in from above

Landed safely! National Anthem plays and the jets flew overhead! 
Let the game begin! 
This is my college friend Stacy, so lucky to have her and her family living in Denver and did I mention she loves FB even more than I do!  This photo gives you an idea how close we are to all the action!
Stacy and I grabbed a drink, Cheers!! Go Broncos!
That's him, #18, Peyton Manning!! He brought the stadium to their feet - he was on fire and it was fun to welcome him to Denver! We love you Peyton Manning!
Touchdown!!!! Look at the cameras! They are so good to us - we were on the jumbo tron a few times - last year for the season opener Stacy and I were on TV 6 times...crazy fun!
Another shot of Peyton - he brings a level of leadership to the team that is great to see.

Well, it was an incredible game! We were up, down, cheering, screaming, and waving our pompoms all around! The stadium was electric and fun to watch a new Quarterback bring another season of excitement to Denver!
We won! 31-19! Here's to another great season Denver - let the tailgating and cheering begin again in 2 weeks.  And for those of you paying attention, I may love my Denver team but my true love is still the Green Bay Packers!! 
This is from last season (Thank you Denver Post) but I had to wear both shirts since Denver was playing Chicago! See dad, I told you I would NEVER become a Chicago Bears Fan!! xo

Monday, September 10, 2012

Take a Hike!

     In my last post I talked about bucket lists - I should simply do a post on my list but it's much for fun to spread them out - there could be a quiz at some point so pay attention.
     When I moved to Colorado 18 months ago I told myself I needed to LIVE here, meaning, take part in everything this state as to offer and so I am.  Since I moved here I've heard people talk about '14ers' - "which one have you hiked" - "have you done a few in a weekend yet?" - whoa? What is this 14er you all speak of??
     Well, a 14er is a mountain over 14,000 ft above sea level - Colorado has 53 (or so that's the word on the street) and that's all I had to hear - hike, challenge, driving distance from Denver - Bring one on!
     On Saturday, my friend Jacqui and I hiked our first one, Quandary Peak.   Quandary sits at 14, 265 ft - it's located 6 miles southwest of Breckenridge, CO and is part of the Tenmile Range.
     We began our adventure around 5:30am that morning - stopped for a quick shot of espresso and away we went ( I managed to make a few wrong turns, and shout out some words my mother would have stuck a bar of soap in my mouth for saying) but at 6:44am we were on the trail and starting the hike.
Stopped for a Coconut Water - made an effort to stop along the way and take in the beauty of the area!
Jacqui took this pic of me - I loved the lighting, the color of my backpack and again, soaking up the moment
The path we took - lots of shale and loose rocks - this was the hike from the plateau to the top
We met up with another group that were hiking for their friends 60th birthday - we all got a good laugh when we thought we there and someone passing explained it was that next peak - yes, the one WAY UP THERE!
Here we are! Yes, we made it - 14,265 ft above sea level
Me! So proud of myself - I'm afraid of heights so this really challenged me but so glad we did it!
It still makes my palms wet when I look at this one - we stayed up here for about 30 minutes - soaked up some sun,  talked to people around us and had a mini picnic lunch.
Mountain Goats - the way down we crossed paths - we stopped to admire and thanked them for sharing their home with us!

It was a day I will never forget! We met some terrific people along the way, the weather was perfect - as you can see from the photos - blue sky, cool, crisp Fall morning - and we made it round trip in 5.5 hours.  Jacqui and I decided when we planned this hike that we were going to call it 7 miles of gratitude! We stayed focused on all the good things in our lives we are grateful for - friendships, family and health!!
Together we conquered our first 14er - a lot of laughs, a few blisters, and more importantly another check mark on the bucket list!  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hello NYC Fashion Week!!

     I love September - not only does the weather start to change, Football season starts, but Fashion Week in NYC takes place!!
     I'm sure you all have bucket lists - or maybe you call them something else, but one of my bucket list items is to attend a Runway Show in NYC during Fashion Week. I get so excited as you see the new lines coming out, the Designers making appearances alongside their latest creations, and simply just the buzz that covers the city!  The champagne, the flower arrangements, the cameras and trends! LOVE!
     One of the reasons I loved the show "Sex in the City" was for all the clothes, shoes and handbags! I must admit, I do own a pair of Manolo Blahnik - they make you feel sassy, sexy and on top of the world. I have many favorites - Gucci, Chanel, Marc Jacobs, & Burberry - Anthropologie and Nordstrom too (I'll do a post on those 2 stores another time) - it doesn't matter if it's vintage, modern or handmade, I love Fashion!
   For now, since I can't get to NYC for the week, I'll enjoy my catalogs and deliveries. Every month I await the Anthropologie catalog in my mailbox (this month was a bonus with the Nordstrom's catalog and the new Sundance one too).  Pour a glass of bubbly, curl up on the couch with my Sharpie and circle all the items I declare as my 'must haves' for the season.  Now you may find this funny, but I after I've circled what I 'want for my closet' I cut out my top 3 from each catalog and tape to my refrigerator door as my 'wishes' for the future - I have magazine/catalog clippings for that fabulous Chloe bag to a fun flirty dress from Anthro - its my very own fashion vision board.

Enjoy your Friday and enjoy Fashion Week in NYC!!! xo

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

When in Rome...

Villa  il Castellaccio - Tuscany, Italy
     A few years ago my sister asked me if I had thought about my 40th birthday - what would I want to do? I gave it half a second and told her "I want to rent a villa in Tuscany and see Italy!"  2 years ago this week that is exactly what we did - 9 of us took planes, trains and automobiles and met in Rome for a 10 day adventure. 
     As I started researching I found a website, Gira! Italy Villas.  If anyone needs help, contact them. Its a couple in Denver and they helped us out beyond words! They arranged the villa, helped me hire a chef for my birthday dinner and assisted us in renting our cars in Florence. 
    We flew into Rome, gathered our luggage and jumped on a high speed train to Florence (serving Prosecco on a train after you've traveled all night is spectacular) - once in Florence we gathered our rental cars and let the adventure begin. 
     The villa was better than we could have expected - Tuscany you welcomed us with bottles of wine and the most beautiful landscape I've ever seen!  I'll add captions throughout this post but I really want to let the pics speak for themselves! 
     In 10 days we saw much of Tuscany, drove to Portofino and spent a weekend in Rome! So much to see and I can guarantee Italy, I will be back! Enjoy my 40th birthday holiday!! 
Backyard of villa with pool - we spent many nights drinking wine and chatting about that day and plans for the next

Chef Jacopo Fendi - I hired him to make my birthday dinner
Naked Gnocchi (Spinach & Ricotta) with Butter & Sage; Bread & Vegetable Salad; Handmade Noodles with Mushroom Sauce; Roast Pork; Baked Vegetables with Oregano & Tiramisu and Apple Cake for dessert - YUM!
Jenn (college friend), myself, Katie (high school friend), Becky (friend from work)

Chef making 'Naked Gnocci' - He spent 5 hours creating, teaching and giving us cooking tips
My birthday dinner! Family, High School, College & Work friends
Thank goodness it was a working vineyard and it was on the honor system - we did take a pic of the wine bottles at the end of the week (didn't think it was smart to share that one)
Look what we do while in Florence - after a day of sightseeing, who doesn't need to stop for  a beer?

Musical in Greve de Chianti - wonderful town that was hosting their Annual Wine Festival with American Musical Favorites - Shrek, Mary Poppins & Grease
Pizza, need I say more, DELICIOUS! I may have had it every day! 
Jenn and I enjoying Champagne in Portofino. Portofino will go down as one of my favorite cities.

Wendy, Darin and I in Florence - the Duomo is in the background
3rd largest cathedral in the world
I should tell you all a little secret - Darin is my brother in law - amazing guy and we're lucky to have him in our family! He is not only patient to have me tagging along many times but he drove Wendy and I to the Outlet Malls and shopping while on vacation. 

Who would have known the Vatican served a slice of pizza and a box of wine?  If you are in Rome, no matter what your beliefs are - you must visit The Vatican. St Peters Square, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City and The Basilica

Locks of Love in Florence - a lover places their lock on the fence or rail and throws the key over the bridge to 'seal' their love