Tuesday, June 19

summertime pizzas --- peach and prosciutto

Hey there!!! Welcome to my blog :)

So these last few weeks our evenings have been filled with delicious and creative make-at-home pizzas. My husband and I are on such a fruit pizza kick right now! Definitely a healthier alternative than a store-bought or ordered pizza! I thought I should share some of our most successful recipes with you! I'll start with a DELICIOUS pizza we made last week ---

Grilled Peach and Prosciutto Pizza:


This pizza was inspired by a recipe I found in my Martha Stewart magazine. But as always, we made some adjustments to make it our own :)

Ingredients:
  • Betty Crocker Pizza Crust mix --- they are about $1 at Safeway and are super easy to make!
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (plain or flavored)
  • 2 ripe peaches, cut into wedges
  • Pam cooking spray
  • 2 cups of shredded (or 1 pound of fresh) of 2% mozzarella cheese
  • 1 package of prosciutto  (about 12 thin slices), cut in half
  • 1/3 cup of fresh basil
Directions:
  • Heat oven to 450 degrees, then make the crust as instructed on the packaging.
  • After the crust is prepared and rolled out, brush it with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and sprinkle mozzarella cheese generously over the whole crust. 
  • Pop the crust in the oven (on a pizza stone or cookie sheet) for 12 minutes. 
  • While the crust is cooking, heat up a frying pan, spray the pan with cooking spray, and grill the peach wedges, flipping, for about 3 minutes per side. 
  • After the crust has cooked for 12 minutes, remove the pizza from the oven and top with prosciutto slices, peach slices, and the remaining mozzarella cheese. 
  • Return the pizza to the oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. 
  • When the pizza is done, add the chopped fresh basil on top, cut the pizza, and ENJOY!!!

 Let me know if you like this recipe and want me to share more summer pizza recipes with you!
Thanks for stopping by :) As always, I love meeting new people and having new readers!

Cheers :)

mountain time = refreshing time

I hope you all had a wonderful Father's Day Weekend! Whether you are a father, have a father, have a son who is a father...we all know a father we'd like to give kudos to once a year :)

I was lucky enough to spend a day with my dad last weekend, hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. I love the mountains --- I am for sure a Colorado girl at heart. There is this beautiful serenity that comes from just being in the mountains. From taking a deep, focused breath in and feeling the sunshine soaking into your skin. A calm takes over me when I am hiking a trail that has a gorgeous green view and the songs of birds playing in my ears. And I love getting a good sweaty workout in --- which is exactly what we accomplished on our uphill hike! [We did most of Bear Lake and Fern Lake]

Here are a few pictures of our beautiful hiking day :)

With my beautiful Mom --- love the backdrop!

Colorado at it's finest!!!

found my happy face sweat band from Peers, 2004 :) decided to rock it for our hike!

into the beautiful green we go :)

the hiking crew

and then it rained for a minute! What better time for a family photo?!?!

 and then it stopped raining and there was sunshine


with my love.

 it felt like we were in a rainforest! so gorgeous.


my adorable parents

el padre

kisses.

I was SO happy to get my first hike of the summer in, and to spend a day with my family in the beautiful mountains! What a blessing!!!

What are your favorite Northern Colorado hikes? I am looking to try some new ones!
CHEERS!!!

reading rainbow

Hey bookworms!

So I am so happy to announce that I have completed my second book of the summer (books #4 and #5 of the year...still trucking along to my goal of 12 non-school-books in 2012!) I will actually be THRILLED if I make it through 12 leisure books this year! 

Book #4: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I first heard of this book from a friend who recommended it to me, then mentioned that Leonardo DiCaprio is supposed to star in a film adaptation of it at some point in the future. Uhhh if Leo is making a movie of it --- it has to be amazing, right??? When I went to buy the book, I had to purchase it in the US History section. WTF? I have never truly read a historical nonfiction book I don't think. I was skeptical, but the prospect of me reading a book that Leo will later star in won over the skepticism. 
 
I'm pretty sure I started this book in February...and it took me 4 months to read! Not that it is a bad book, it just alternates between entrancing and dull...

The chapters that had me hooked followed H.H. Holmes in the late 1800s. He is a wealthy physician with gorgeous blue eyes that make the ladies melt. He also has a habit of wooing then killing these ladies. Oh and he further dissects his cadavers in the basement of his self-designed mansion, that has a built-in sound-proof vault and a kiln for disposing of the evidence. (Leo is rumored to be playing this character in the film adaptation)

Between the H.H. Holmes chapters is the story of the development of the Chicago World's Fair, which took place in 1893. The architects, the landscape architects, the mayor, the builders...there were hundreds of thousands of people involved in the development of this fair, which included hundreds of buildings that overall covered over a mile of land just outside of Chicago. They faced setback after setback, whether it be another architect dying from cholera, a frigid winter that delays building, or one of many workman's' strikes that occurred during that time period. 

The story of H.H. Holmes and the Chicago World's Fair eventually collide, as Holmes uses the popularity of the fair to find his new victims. 

I actually learned a lot from this book, about Shredded Wheat, Walt Disney, the invention of the Ferris Wheel, and Buffalo Bill. Not the most gripping book, but certainly different from my usual book choices, and I really hope to be able to see Leonardo DiCaprio's interpretation of Holmes on the big screen in the near future! In summary, I recommend it, but grade it a B- .

Book #5: Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham (the author of the Confessions of a Shopaholic series --- aka Sophie Kinsella)

After reading a book as serious and dark as The Devil in the White City, I needed a girly pick-me-up book. I've mentioned to you all in the past how I like to alternate between serious and silly books, it keeps my reading life balanced somehow! 
 
This book follows three lovely London ladies, in the prime of their lives. Best friends, the trio works for an upscale London magazine. Maggie is the magazine's editor, is due any minute to have her first baby, and has absolutely no idea what to expect from motherhood! Roxanne is a sun-kissed freelance writer, whose heart belongs to a married man. And Candice is a perpetual do-gooder, constantly trying to better the world to compensate for the many lives her father ruined when he was alive. The three women each encounter life-changing challenges, and try to manage these challenges without the support of each other. 

A very quick read, it is a sweet story of friendship and loyalty. I recommend it if you need a bubbly pick-me-up and if you enjoy this type of writing style :) Overall grade of B+

Currently: working on The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham, re-reading Wicked by Gregory Maguire, and a few bedside table books. I think I'm going to start Divergent (by Veronica Roth) tonight, too!

On my summer list of books sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read, I have:
- Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo
- Little Bee by Chris Cleave
- Shine by Lauren Myracle
- Francesca's Kitchen by Peter Pezzelli
- Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
- Dog Years by Mark Doty
- Blink by Malcom Gladwell 

That doesn't even include books I don't own that I want to read!
- Bossy Pants
- The Glass Castle
- The Tiger's Wife
- Fifty Shades of Grey
- The Book Thief
- Chelsea Handler books

and I'm sure there are many more in my head!!!
Is there anything you think I should add to the list???
I will be pretty busy with reading but I would LOVE to make it through this whole list!

What are you reading right now? Read anything amazing lately?

CHEERS :)

Tuesday, June 12

national geographic

Hi there errrrybody!

Hope you all are enjoying June :) I know I have. Today I wanted to talk about the weather and nature. The weather has been beautiful here in Colorado. Beautiful and DRY. Which has actually been a terrible thing for our gorgeous state. It has been one fire after another, and the latest gigantic fire is only a few miles west of my hometown, Fort Collins. I am saddened by every news report I read, by every aerial view of the fire I see, by every heart-wrenching post I see on facebook about the fire. It has demolished over 43,000 acres of land, forcing thousands of people and animals to evacuate their homes. At this point is is ZERO percent contained, with over 500 firefighters working on it --- which is terrifying! I have been thinking about it a lot, saying prayers for the safety of people and animals alike, especially for the safety of those trying to contain and fight the fire. It is already tragic, with one life lost, and I am scared to see what continued damage this fire has in store. :(

I went camping near Bailey last weekend, and didn't manage to take any photos while camping. Which I can hardly believe! Usually I am a photo-taking fiend! Especially in the beautiful mountains. It was a weekend of bliss, lounging in my camp chair, enjoying the sounds of birds and the little brook we camped by. Must have been near comatose to forget taking a picture. 

Because I didn't take ANY photos, I decided to go to NationalGeographic.com to look at their astounding photos of nature, and share some beauty and devastation (nature's elements can surely be terrifying...as demonstrated by the recent fires) with you...

Volcano lightning picture: Iceland's Eyjafjallaj√∂kull  
Lightning during the April 2010 eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull Volcano. Photograph by Lucas Jackson, Reuters.

Photo: Birds and orange sky at sunset
Birds fill an orange sky over Germany’s Wattenmeer National Park. This coastal wetland, covered by the sea at high tide, is home to some 3,200 different animals and a popular stopover for many migratory birds. Photograph by Norbert Rosing.


 Photo: Giraffe necks in sunset silhouette
Here, three giraffes in Botswana's Okavango Delta stretch their necks above the horizon before a glowing orange sky. Photograph by Chris Johns.


Photo: A tent belonging to the expedition team on the rim of the Nyirangongo volcano
A cooking tent belonging to expedition scientists glows in the twilight on the rim of the Nyiragongo volcano—one of the most active in the world—in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photograph by Carsten Peter, National Geographic.

Photo: Adult leopard seal on the ice
An adult leopard seal scans its surroundings on the Antarctic Peninsula. Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic. 

Photo: Japanese macaques in a hot spring
Two Japanese macaques, or snow monkeys, interact in a hot spring in Jigokudani, Nagano Prefecture, Japan.Photograph by Tim Laman, National Geographic. I HAD to share this picture because the Japanese macaques are one of my favorite segments on Planet Earth --- it's insane how they have created a social status within their groups that determines whether you are allowed to stay warm within the hot springs or not. Unfortunately for the macaques of lower status, they are forced to huddle in groups amidst the ice and snow on land, watching as the more powerful macaques lounge in the hot springs.

Photo: Elephants drinking at a water hole
During the dry season, elephants in Chad’s Zakouma National Park drink at the last remaining water hole. Photograph by Michael Nichols, National Geographic. 

This is the great Japanese maple tree in the Portland Japanese Gardens. Photo by Fred An.

 
Photo by Andrew George. The Aurora Borealis in Iceland. I only hope to see a glimpse of the Northern Lights once in my life --- seems like a fairytale.

Photo: Frog on lily pad
A tiny green frog sits atop a large lily pad in the waters of Atchafalaya Delta. Photograph by James P. Blair. 

  
Man vs Nature Photo by Matthew Titmanis. Perth's Australia Day celebrations. In the battle for awe inspiring sky shows...nature wins.

 
A lion and lioness share some quality time with their cubs in Kenya. Photo by Brandon Harris. 

I hope you have enjoyed these images! Just a sampling of the beauty I found as I perused NationalGeographic.com this morning :)

Cheers ---

Thursday, June 7

pinterest night!!!

Howdy, y'all!

Hope you are enjoying a lovely Thursday afternoon wherever you are! Here in Denver it's getting dark and cloudy again, hoping it doesn't thunderstorm ALL night long again tonight! Kept me up forever last night!

So how many of you are pinterest fans? How can you NOT be? It's honestly just another way to waste my time online...but I have seen some awesome recipes, decoration ideas, cleaning tips, fashion moments, and cute ideas for that one day when I have a little munchkin of my own. I have posted probably hundreds of creative ideas on pinterest, and how many have I done? Probably under 20! 

One of my good gal pals Lindsey and I were fussing about how we never make anything we pin, and the idea of a Pinterest Night was born! We originally planned on doing like 10 things from pinterest...and it kind of turned into only 3 things. Haha. But moral of the story --- we had a blast of a ladies night, complete with trying new recipes while getting a little dance {and a little buzz} on :) Here is our evening --- documented in pictures, of course!

First --- we took the Bandana Brigade to the dog park :) Aren't these puppies adorable!

Of course we needed a fun drink to sip on while we made our first pinterest beverage :) NEW FAVORITE! Absolut Wild Tea --- mixed with Crystal Light lemonade --- delish! And low cal :)

Pinterest beverage success --- Ruby Red Grapefruit Margaritas! Did I mention we like limes?

Cake Batter Puppy Chow! OMG. To DIE FOR!!! Seriously heaven. So sweet. So good. Make it right now. And sprinkle with as many glittery sprinkles as you can handle!

Next treat of the night --- CAKE POPS! I have been wanting to make these for over a year! Lindsey brought over her fancy cake-pop-maker, and we made lemon cake pops with a cream cheese glaze --- and lots of sprinkles, DUH!

 

Full and happy, we hunkered down on the couch with the rest of our pitcher of Grapefruit Margaritas, and watched Letters to Juliet. I know, that flick has been out for a while, but I hadn't gotten around to seeing it! It was super cute --- and I just adore Amanda Seyfried!

And that, my friends, is how a Pinterest Night is done!

Cheers :)

Tuesday, June 5

not a good time

You know what's not a good time?

Having back surgery. 
Okay well I wouldn't call what I had a back surgery. 
I may be a tad dramatic :)

But in April I did have a mole scraped and sent to the pathology lab for them to determine whether or not it was of the scary kind. Pathology said it was halfway scary. On the scale of scary it goes "normal --> mild atypia --> moderate atypia --> severe atypia --> melanoma" --- and this mole was moderate atypia. 

Halfway to MELANOMA.

For years I have said that if I am going to have a cancer, it's probably going to be melanoma. I always said this with a laugh, because I know my love of being the color bronze is both stupid and dangerous. I am not a chronic tanning bed user (used it before prom, Mexico, and my wedding - I admit), and each winter is a serious struggle to not open up a tanning membership and get a little color on my pale skin. 

I've eased up on tanning outside, mostly because school is not conducive to spending a lot of time outside, but also because I know those UV rays are dangerous. It's like an addiction though. A stupid obsession that will not leave me. I suppose it's wrapped up in my self esteem --- "This color will look better on me when I'm tan."  "My legs look SO much better tan {truth}." 

I was kind of sick to my stomach when I heard I had moderate atypia goin on in my skin cells. And I was SUPER nervous last Thursday when I went in to my dermatologist's office to get my scary mole excised. Sounds like an EXORCISM. Yikes.

Other than getting my wisdom teeth out (for which I was totally out), this is my first surgical experience. I was literally shaking like a weak little fish on that exam table while she scalpaled me open. And it was REALLY odd to feel the skin lose tautness across my back, everything loosened up like it had been unzipped. Of course I just chatted the whole way through it, asking about the procedure and what tools she was using for the surgery. Thank God for Lidocaine, because it didn't hurt one bit --- except for the 12 pokes of Lidocaine it took to numb the area in the first place.

The aftermath hasn't been so pain-free though. She ended up having to do a 3-inch long incision and had to cut through multiple layers of my back to get the atypical cells out. I'm hoping she got out as much as she needed. This is what my Frankenstein back looks like:
Personally, I think it looks like someone sewed a worm into my back.

It's right next to my spine, which makes it incredibly awkward to do anything to...luckily I'm married to a doc-to-be who loves wounds and was thrilled when I told him I'd let him take my stitches out in 5 days. I swear he teared up a little at the news

I share this with you for two reasons:
1) I'm a whiner. You know this.
2) To spread the word about sunscreen.

Though this post is kinda sarcastic, I get sad when I think about the future of my skin. I wish I were always better hydrated, and I wish I wore more sunscreen over the last 26 years. I suppose it's never entirely too late to start, although a lot of damage has already been done. This back  exorcism excision has sucked and I don't want to have to go through more in my future. 

So that's all. 
Any neat ideas for the name of the worm that now lives on my back?

Cheers ;)

Sunday, June 3

staycation : the finale

After my very very LENGTHY last post about our Staycation, I'll make this final Staycation post brief :) {Not really as a courtesy to you, but mostly because the last day of our Staycation (Weds) was short}

Wednesday morning we woke up on our own, and were grateful not to have a band of drumming protesters as an alarm :) We went downstairs where, BEHOLD, Hotel Monaco officially won my heart over with complimentary iced coffee bar ---
complete with vanilla, hazelnut, carmel, and raspberry flavoring syrups!

For our last foodie adventure of the Staycation - we headed down to Crepes and Crepes, a charming little French restaurant that specializes in...well...crepes! 
We lounged at our little table, enjoying the sunshine and the light morning bustle of people at Writer's Square on 16th Street. A lovely, relaxing, delicious end to our Staycation :)

We said adios to Hotel Monaco, I promised to return for complimentary wine and coffee hours again soon, and we were off to Camp BowWow for a puppy reunion. At Camp BowWow they told us Penny's anxiety was minimal, except for the time where she jumped on the countertops and trampled the keyboards everyone was working on, or the time where she started eating the fence...but other than that, our furry little anxious girl managed for 48 hours without us :) Gryffin of course did fine, that social butterfly. 

I'm sure you are ready for the Staycation Chronicles to be over {as am I}, but I want to encourage you and your loved ones to plan a Staycation of your very own! Wherever your home is, take a few days to do those things you've been meaning to do but never have. Splurge a little for some luxuries life doesn't typically afford you. We all deserve it. Plus --- I finally feel like I can say I'm a Denver local!

Cheers!!!

staycation : part 4

Haven't been keeping up with "The Staycation Chronicles"? Realizing you've just clicked on part 4 in my little series documenting our adventures in Colorado in the last week? No worries - you can catch up here :) 

Tuesday morning began with a bang --- quite literally --- when we woke up to the sound of protestor's marching beneath our hotel room window! 

So that was interesting! Because we didn't feel like paying $10.95 to use The Brown Palace's internet for 24 hours {lame!!!}, we decided to pop down to Starbucks {like 100 feet away} to grab some bagels and chai, and to take advantage of free internet. I thought you might enjoy seeing the interesting way the cashier came up with to spell my name! haha
 And yes...I am checking in on my puppies on the Camp Bow Wow website :) They have puppy cams available online 24/7 so you can watch your furbaby during the day while they play with other dogs! Love it!

After our quick breakfasts - the time had finally come to venture to the Brown Palace Spa! I made appointments for us to have 50 minute Swedish Massages in the Couples' Suite, and had high expectations given the Brown Palace's reputation --- and let's just say that my expectations were totally beyond met! This was my first spa experience ever --- and it was amaaaaazing! Everything about the Brown Palace Spa is synonymous with LUXURY. I was escorted by a spa staff member to the ladies' spa lounge, where there was bottled water, yogurt-dipped pretzels, mixed nuts, delicious hot tea, and current magazines awaiting me. Before the massage began, I was invited to spend a few minutes in the steam room --- which I totally took advantage of! I had the spa lounge all to myself, and I totally reveled in having that time and space! The ensuing massages were so wonderful! My masseuse was soft-spoken and had serious skills! I usually find myself squirming a little as the masseuse finds the right pressure for my back, but this woman nailed it! What a relaxing hour it was, and it was so nice for us to both be getting massages together! Total splurge of our staycation - but I'm glad we did it!!!

After our massages, we went back to our private spa lounges again. I took a few more minutes in the steam room and then enjoyed the fun products they had for clients. The most amazing lemongrass shampoo and conditioner, silky lotions, and complimentary hair brushes and hair products. You had me at complimentary
 We said goodbye to our beautiful palace, in total states of zen, and hit the road to head to our next adventure --- INDOOR SKYDIVING!

On the way, we stopped for lunch at the Irish Snug - a fun little pub I have been wanting to try for over a year! I am that girl who orders eggrolls whenever it is on the appetizer menu --- Southwest Eggrolls, Avocado Eggrolls...I get them every time! The Irish Snug had Corned Beef Eggrolls! Essentially Reuben Eggrolls --- Yum! Had to try them. They also had the cheesiest, spiciest, yummiest, worst for you appetizer I have ever had --- Spicy Buffalo Waffle Chips! Mmmmmmmm

After that delicious lunch, we had a few hours to kill before our skydiving appointment, so we went shopping at Park Meadows. We had great shopping success at Marshall's, including these cute new shoes for me :)

Next --- we actually got to our adventure destination of the day! Indoor Skydiving!!! I first got the idea to go indoor skydiving from this website that lists "100 things all Coloradans should do" --- and so it has been on our list for over a year, and we finally did it! Tyler has done real-deal skydiving (for his 18th birthday), but this was my first taste of  skydiving! This facility has these incredible wind tunnels with simulated winds of 120 mph and it is used by novices and professionals to improve their skydiving skills. It was SO. RAD. 

 After indoor skydiving, we headed back downtown to check in at our second hotel - Hotel Monaco. As fate would have it, we arrived JUST in time for the hotel complimentary wine tasting! Score! They had a WONDERFUL watermelon sangria that I could drink by the bucketfull!!! But I didn't. They were out of buckets. 

For dinner, we decided to go to Marlowe's. I had eaten there once before, but Tyler had never been, so that's where we ended up! Marlowe's included some fab happy hour --- including this delicious melted bacon mozzarella appetizer!!! Delish.

Next stop --- Jazz@Jack's - a jazz lounge we have been wanting to try! It had a great atmosphere, some awesome funk music, and the most incredible frozen hot chocolate drink I have EVER had! Okay maybe it was the first and only frozen hot chocolate I have ever had --- but it was delicious!!!

Last stop of the night --- The Tilted Kilt, an Irish bar, and got a few drinks, because drinks had been in short supply that evening ;)

And then there's a chance Tyler was a little energized from all the Happy Hours we had taken part of throughout the day, and we stopped by the hotel gym for some quick hula hooping! And then we may or may not have had a dance party in our hotel room. All before midnight :)

Man, last Tuesday I learned that we really know how to pack 24 hours with fun!!!

Phew and Cheers :)