A wonderful Christmas!

GeorgetownLoop_2013We had a fantastic visit from my parents and Michael and Sarah for Christmas this year.  It was Michael’s idea to have the fam meet in Denver so Chris and I wouldn’t have to travel.  We are so grateful!

Unfortunately, there was a good amount of sickness in the house (who wasn’t sick this year over Christmas?) starting with me sporting a chest/sinus infection before Sarah arrived with her own sinus infection.  We all spent a good amount of time napping.  In fact, I spent the first four days my parents were visiting in bed.  Once my antibiotics kicked in, we were able to do some fun family activities.  We checked out Passport to Paris at the Denver Art Museum and rode the Georgetown Loop Railroad (see fun photo above!)

Even though my parents were here for ten days, it wasn’t enough time.  And Michael and Sarah were here for just four brief overnights!  Too short.

Sarah and Pete hosted a lovely Christmas Eve open house and on Christmas day after snoozing at home in the morning and noon mass, we went to Dianne and Dale’s for turkey sandwiches and games.  It was relaxing and a lot of fun!  On Friday, Christopher hosted my family for dinner at his house.  Lots of eating – lots of incredible food.


[Me, Baby Stroh and Dad at Chief Hosa]

Some highlights of the visit were making three huge pots of soup – sausage, french onion and vegetable – playing with the play-doh my mom made each of us, experimenting with vegan dishes (mmmm!) to accommodate my dad’s new diet and taking plenty of fresh air walks in Cheesman Park.

It’s hard to imagine that that next time we see my parents Baby Stroh will be here!

The beautiful Broadmoor.

C and I had the pleasure of attending the gorgeous wedding of a wonderful couple at The Broadmoor this weekend in Colorado Springs.

I was thrilled when I learned our friends were having their wedding at this historic resort. Rarely do we go to Colorado Springs and I’ve always wanted to stay at The Broadmoor.  I tend to forget how very different the Springs are from Denver.  It’s pine country and angled right up against the steep mountains.

From high tea on our arrival to a bagpipe processional of the wedding guests across the bridge over Cheyenne Lake to the Lake Terrace Dining Room, it was all pretty magical.  We stayed out celebrating until the wee hours.

Congratulations, Lisa and Stan!  We love you!

This morning, we enjoyed Sunday brunch at the resort.  It was incredible.

Broadmoor1So many kinds of salmon. [Wish I liked eating salmon.]

And then, we walked the resort’s acres and checked out the rest of the place, including the beautiful pool, retail shops, and many, many chandeliers.



I would like this one for my very own, please.

On our way home from the Springs, we stopped at Seven Falls.  Stunning!


Picture postcard.

C and I spent this past weekend at The Lodge at Vail with wonderful friends.

It was nothing short of fantastic, and just what the doctor ordered.  Two nights away in a very comfortable bed, fresh mountain air and lots and lots of sunshine and laughs.

On Friday when we looked at the forecast we were told we were in for highs of 65 and scattered thunderstorms.  That was not at all the case.  Mid-seventies and loads of sunshine were the order for the weekend.

Saturday, Katie and I took a leisurely stroll from Vail Village to Cascade along the wooded path and back, stopping for coffee and people watching.  We enjoyed some great pool time and then I took a late afternoon nap.

This was the view from the balcony of the Lodge on Saturday morning.  The Lodge is one of Vail’s original buildings and I think, one of the prettiest (and has one of the nicest views, as you can see.)


For dinner on Saturday night we ate really delish German fare at Pepi’s.

It’s a very European experience.  The staff was not too friendly or attentive and we waited FOREVER for our meals and for service really, but it was worth it.  Absolutely fantastic.  I had Jager Schnitzel and it was heavy and creamy and veal-y.  Ugh.  So good.  Everyone had wonderful meals.  C had the Weiner Schnitzel with spatzel.  We all shared beautiful desserts.  The apple strudel was the table favorite.


The Land of Big Sky.

Ah, Montana.  It didn’t disappoint.


I’ve always dreamed of a trip to Big Sky Country–well, since moving to Denver, at least.  I think often of the Tetons and Yellowstone and wide open spaces.

So when the opportunity came up to join Chris, Ludi and Amy and a few of their friends on a fly fishing trip a few weeks ago near Cascade, Montana, I jumped at the chance.  Chris drove up with Ludi and Amy on Tuesday and I flew up to join him late Thursday night.

Just like any trip with Ludi and Amy, an adventure ensued for those three on their drive up toward Great Falls.  A large screw in one of the car’s tires (which was towing a UHaul with fishing gear) ended up becoming a bigger deal than just changing the tire.  Helena, Montana, had little in the way of services to fix the issue in one or two days.  And so the crew ended up renting another UHaul pick-up truck, which they used to tow the UHaul trailer for a few days (stock in UHaul anyone?)  As Ludi so appropriately put it, “You know, at least we weren’t chased by an elephant.”  He’s very good at putting things in perspective.

On Friday, Chris and I stayed at the rented cabin while the rest of the group went off to fish different parts of the river.  We took a long hike down some abandoned railroad tracks in the morning with the dogs.  It was lovely – hot, but lovely.


Montana3 IMG_2405

*Can you spot the doe under the trestle in this photo?

When we arrived back from the hike we made some lunch and I plopped a lawn chair in the rushing river and settled in with my latest novel, Frances and Bernard (read it!)  I promptly dropped the book in the river when I went to put my feet up (sorry, Denver Public Library!)


Chris put on his wading outfit and fished for HOURS.

Montana5He is into it.  And looks the part, right?

The next day we went with the rest of the group to another part of the Missouri.  I started my next book, the new Jeanette Walls, The Silver Star (meh is my complete review) and took the helm while Chris and Bill fished.  It was another blue sky, hot day.


IMG_2438Lots of moo-ing cattle were taking a dip near the boat put-in.  Quite the busy scene!


We drove home on Sunday.  By the time we got to the border of Wyoming, I was praying for teleportation to be invented.

Overall?  Simply stunning.  Montana rocks.

Nifty Thrifty. Goodwill Outlet World Review.

Once I added thrifting for vintage Pyrex to my hobbies, I found myself wandering into the book and clothing sections of second-hand stores.  And after I found a brand new pair of Banana Republic pants for $2, it was all over.  I was hooked.

For me, recycling has never been so fun!  Generally, every outfit I wear has at least one thrifted clothing item.  More often than not, my entire outfit is from a thrift store.  What’s on sale determines my style, and I’m just fine with that.

I now have my favorite stores in Denver (skip the Broadway Goodwill and hoof it out to Leetsdale for better selection and prices) as well as the mountains (do not pass up Summit Thrift and Treasure–check it: one pair of Nike running pants for $1 two years ago.  I wear them for every race.)

When my brother first moved to the Bay Area, he talked about this massive Goodwill where clothing and other goods were dumped in rows in a warehouse and folks could pick through them and pay for goods by the pound.  I found out places like this exist in Denver too.  In fact, we have a few locations right in the metro area where items that do not sell at the retail outlets or are unsalable for some reason (grime, major wear, broken parts or items with missing pieces) come to be sold.

Goodwill Outlet World became my Friday afternoon destination last week with a girlfriend.  The first thing we did was read this review.  Then, I read more reviews to my momma over the phone.  We laughed a LOT.  Denver is host to such…descriptive writers.

We arrived around noon.  The small parking lot was full and when we walked in, we were immediately overwhelmed.  Though the space was probably the size of a regular Goodwill or Arc Thrift Store, there was minimal organization.  Basically, five categories existed,

1. Clothes and other fabric items (men, women, children, linens, curtains, covers)
2. Shoes (pairs are zip tied together)
3. Wares (household, toys, game, appliances, tools)
4. Books (99 cents a piece – no bargains here)
5. Seasonal (in our case on Good Friday, Easter baskets, raffia, figurines, candy dishes, candles, tsotchke)


Despite there being a lot of people there, the chaos was generally under control.  True to the reviews, when rolling carts are switched out for “new” items, everyone stands back.  When the locks are placed on the bin castors, the attendants tell everyone it’s okay to dig and they go to town!  There seemed to be quite a few families going through bins together, tossing items to one another and pushing clothing into carts.  They wore masks and gloves and aprons.  I wondered if they were looking for items to re-sell.  There also seemed to be quite a few folks who, like me, were looking to search out a bargain.


Despite the quasi-organization, it was still overwhelming, mostly because there was just so much stuff.

Our visit really got me thinking about the kinds of things we Americans BUY and then throw out.  Yikes.

But we did find some treasures, a beautiful wool Pendleton jacket for my girlfriend.  Score!



And here’s what I purchased.  Yes, that’s a mulberry-colored fanny pack.  It’s made for distance running (which some day, I plan on doing more of–right C?)  My best finds were a Columbia winter ski hat with the tags still attached, a Melanzana crew shirt (manufactured in Leadville, Colorado!) and a cotton bathroom rug.

Will I go back?  Bet your bottom dollar.

More ski sky.

With M as my guide and sidekick, just like old times, we skied Vail this past weekend.

I often give C and M a hard time about loving on Vail so much.  I sometimes find it pretentious, crowded and of course, overpriced.

But then there’s a weekend like this past weekend, where the perfect storm dumps on the valley and it’s been snowing at the peaks for days on end.  Weekends like this make me remember why Vail is an absolute paradise for skiers.

On Saturday we skied blues and groomers with Kay and Jessica.  On Sunday, sans Kay, the three of us took on the back bowls, filled to the brim with beautiful powder.  Even in the late afternoon, after getting off the t-bar at Mongolia, there was so much untapped fresh snow, we could hardly get through it.  Right there, on my first descent into Bolshoi Ballroom, I caught an edge ever so slowly and tipped sideways into a soft bed of perfect powder.  It was heaven.

Here are some shots of the weekend.

From Blue Sky Basin.


A beautiful, mostly soft, snow fell all day.

Waking up in Gypsum the next morning, we were greeted with a calm, early twilight and no snow!  It’s amazing the landscape looks so vastly different just 40 miles west of Vail.Vail_3

Early spring snow.

I’m doing something right now I very rarely do in the mornings.  I’m taking a little time to “coast.”

Last week, Annie told me she got up early, made some coffee, then went back to bed with her mug and did some reading, perused Pinterest and relaxed a little while longer before actually getting on with her morning routine before work.  She said her grandfather called it “coasting,” and that’s exactly what it is. (And when you tell people about it, you need to spread your arms out like an airplane, so they understand exactly what you mean.)  You could coast for 10 minutes or for a whole day.  Today, I’m going to keep my coasting to maybe an hour and a half.

After a wild snowstorm hit Boston yesterday morning and M thought it best to fly out of town early, in order to guarantee she’d be able to ski Colorado by Saturday.  She arrived in Mile High around 7 p.m. and I’m so glad to have her.  We had a pint and pizza at our pub down the street and were tucked in by 11.  Overnight, I felt very hot and opened the window in our bedroom.  Though it’s VERY chilly now, it’s just right under the covers.  Everything looks white from here in bed.  The sky out the window and the walls.  Songbirds are chirping in the early morning white and the cold air smells like snow.

This weekend, as M and I make our way to the high country, the state expects another winter storm.  I welcome it.

Because I’m coasting and very relaxed, here are some photos from our weekend in the Fraser Valley a few weeks back.


Apres ski on Saturday we took a lovely drive through the valley.

FV_6 FV_5 FV_4 FV_3



We drove until the road ran out.


Twelve 2012 Instagram Faves.

I got an iPhone for my birthday last year from C and for the past several months, I’ve taken over 1,800 photos with it.  I imagine that’s many, many more calls than I’ve made and received.  I think the first app I downloaded was Instagram.  I’ve had a fun time with it.

You hear a lot these days about digital photos never leaving the gallery and staying on a disk or in a server for the rest of time.  Below are some of my favorite photos enhanced by Instagram taken in 2012–shared now, with all of you.

Instagram11. Western skies on a pretty spring afternoon in Lakewood.



2. Brudder love on the Lake.



3. A special birthday morning.



4. It became very real we were getting married when Tiffany started arriving on Vine Street.



5. This darling tiger kitty is my favorite.  He gets a lot of love from Momma and Dad.



6. The most magical place.  When I need a time out, I close my eyes and think of the smell of the forest and the lake.



7. What a muse.  More of the same special place.


Instagram78. One happy camper on a Sunday morning in the Rockies.


Instagram89. Labor Day wool winners at the Columbia County Fair in Chatham.



10. Already pining for the Atlantic at the SeaCrest Beach Hotel.



11. First time at a Big Boy in Oh-hi-oh on our way home from R and J’s lovely wedding!



12. Charlie Brown’s.  Where it all started for me and C.  We love this place.


Boulder on Friday.

I had the day off from work on Friday and very limited responsibilities.

So I decided to drive to Boulder.  It’s been a long while since I’ve had a good stretch at the thrift stores and window-shopped along Pearl Street.

I was most distracted by the beauty of the ride along Highway 93 to and from in the muted light.

Taking that drive is a reminder to me of why I needed to move to Denver five years ago, leaving behind my pretty nice life in New York.  I needed this open space, this beauty.

I needed this adventure in big sky.





A most perfect Saturday.

Saturday was awesome.  It was maybe one of the best Colorado days I’ve had.  And I’ve had so many good days in this place.

Saturday was that good.

The day was practically perfect in every way.

Our alarm went off at three a.m.  C and I were well-rested (four hours) and raring to go (mountain time!)

Sandwiches for breakfast and lunch were packed.  Plenty of water.  Hiking boots.  Hats and gloves.

We got in the car and drove one block and picked up Katie and C3 and their friend, Jaleene.  I just love living one block away from Katie.  Heart it.

And then we drove into the darkness and into the great big wild.  Out of the city, down one of my favorite roads on the front range of Colorado, Route 285.

We pulled off near Fairplay and ended up trolling down a long, beautiful dirt road.  Cattle in pastures.  A moon in the sky above the muted landscape.

We parked, got dressed in our warm gear and started our ascent.  Mount Sherman – 14,036 feet.

We scrambled over piles of mine tailings.  We walked carefully across ridges as the wind blew so hard I could feel it whipping through my insides.  And at the top, once we high-fived each other  and other Mount Sherman climbers, we ate some really delicious sandwiches.  Katie promised that when we reached our destination and took that first bite of sandwich, it would definitely be the “best sandwich you’ve ever eaten.”  She was right.

I conquered my first 14-er.