Saturday, February 28, 2009

Last up for this week...

For our final dinner of this official Restaurant Week adventure, we went to the Barolo Grill in Denver.

Rich and I agreed that this was our favourite of the three; we had a simply wonderful evening. Though the place filled up while we were there, it was never noisy.

Rich started with prosciutto with shaved fresh horseradish, and I had arugula with toasted pine nuts, shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese, olive oil & lemon juice. Both were delicious.

For the pasta course, Rich ordered spinach tagliatelle served with bolognese meat ragu and I ordered the risotto with fresh crimini mushrooms, which I thought was just divine. We switched plates partway through as we often do, and we both liked what we ordered the best.

The entrees were delicious too! I had the seared salmon with lentils, spinach, and micro fennel salad. The fennel gave the dish a slightly licorice-y taste, and it was sublime. Rich had the beef short ribs with polenta, carmelized onions, and swiss chard which he raved about. He let me try the polenta but he didn't part with even one tiny bite of the beef. It must have been good! lol

Dessert was the same for everyone; a vanilla bean panna cotta with apricot passion fruit tapioca. The panna cotta was so smooth and creamy- with intense vanilla flavour, and the tapioca was citrusy and tart, a perfect complement to each other. We ate it in the tiniest little bites to make it last!

We both had the wine pairing to go along with everything and all the wines we tasted were really good.

Besides the food, what stood out for me was the service. The servers flitted between tables, always around, but never intruding and they were so friendly! They genuinely appeared to like their job and it was relaxing and lovely to eat there.

So. Overall, The Barolo Grill wins in our book. Great ambience, great service, sublime food- what more could you ask for? We will definitely go back.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Yesterday Rich and I took the girls to see "The Phantom of the Opera" at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. We bought the tickets months ago and it seemed then that the day would never arrive.

WOW. We all just loved it! It was truly spectacular. The singing, the costumes, the orchestra- the whole experience was just incredible. There is nothing like live theater, that is for sure. It's too bad we couldn't take photos, but we are not likely to forget the details for a bit...

We took the light rail into the city and it was such a nice day. We stopped and had pizza on our way home. A great day all the way around!

Here are a couple of photos we took in front of the theater. Not as exciting as Phantom photos would have been, but oh well! lol

Up next: Il Posto

We went out again last night (Wednesday) for a go at another new restaurant, this time Il Posto in downtown Denver.

I was going to rant a bit, but decided I will just list the good and bad, starting with the good. I am no restaurant critic, but I know what I like and what I don't.

1. The food was delicious- Rich says better than Opus, but I disagree
2. The servers were really friendly and knowledgeable
3. Once they let us move to the window, we had a nice view

1. They made us wait for almost half an hour, even though we made reservations (which they called to remind us of)
2. Too crowded- the servers had barely enough room to move around- which means service wasn't very attentive
3. Too noisy

Rich laughed at me when I threw his own observations of dining out back at him! When we go out to a nice dinner, attentive service is part of the experience, and I didn't enjoy being so crammed in. I DID however, enjoy Rich's company very much, as I always do. And so any time we are together, is a darn good time!

The food really was good and I guess we will go again sometime to see if the overall experience is any better.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I was just out watering my front garden- yes WATERING- because according to my friends/neighbors, this is what we do this time of year when we haven't had enough snow. That's the small price we pay for having a light winter. Thus far at least. Everyone keeps saying March will be winter. That's okay by me.

But somebody had better tell that to my plants out front... they seem to think it is spring! Things are starting to turn green! The early tulips and daffodils are up a few inches. I have had crocuses blooming for almost two weeks. And I did this watering in a t-shirt and jeans- and felt grateful for the misting of water the hose was throwing at me because the sun is so lovely and warm. What a change from what we are accustomed to. Wow. I have to tell you, I really love the weather here!

I guess because our house faces South and it gets the best of the warmth from every day, it would be easy to confuse those poor little plants. And I can't think the ground is even that cold, we haven't had any snow last more than a couple of days at most. We have only rarely pulled out our winter coats and boots, as light jackets- or no jackets- are usually enough. Colorado natives insist that this is an unusual winter, even for them, but I for one am very happy to have been broken in so nicely to our new climate.

We have seen neighbors landscaping and much of today's talk (I went out to lunch with a ladies' group that my neighbor invited me to accompany) was about gardening, birds, and the coyotes we have out back. I guess I had better get a move on and get planning what I am going to put where. And then, dang it, it will be time to go out back and clean out the space I want to use for all the veggies I think I am going to grow. Well, it will be well worth it if I can grow even a fraction of what we bought at the market last summer. WOO-HOO!

Monday, February 23, 2009

We are Foodies!

Every year at this time, Denver has Restaurant Week and this year we could finally go!

This is what the web site says about it:

"Denver Restaurant Week is a seven-day celebration of the culinary scene in Denver. For one week, participating restaurants will offer a multi-course dinner for the fixed price of $52.80 for two". 5280 is the number of feet in a mile- and Denver is the Mile-High City, for those who wouldn't know that (like me, before I met Rich). 5280 is also the name of the Denver magazine. We get it and it is a great resource...

Last night was the first night, and we chose Opus in Littleton. We have been there for lunch, back in the summer, but wanted to try it for dinner. Opus was chosen by the Denver Post as one of the top ten places to try during this event.

When we eat out, we usually try to get different things so that we can both try more. Rich had French Onion Bisque which came with toasted brioche in the bottom of the bowl, topped with goat cheese and chive oil. I started with a salad of leafy greens with walnuts, brie "croutons" (delicious!), topped with white balsamic. We also went with the wine pairing that was offered, so we got champagne- oops- sorry- sparkling wine with this course. I love sparkling wine! lol

For the entrees, Rich got Braised Beef with Celeri Potatoes, exotic mushroom sauce (and darn it, we forgot to ask what kind of mushrooms they were, they were so good!), red wine cabbage, and black pepper pumpkin seeds. I got Pacific Salmon stuffed with barley, shallots, and spinach, over persimmon butter sauce and with shaved fennel. Absolutely delicious, all of it. Rich got red wine of course, and I had a choice between red and white. I chose red, since I prefer that.

Dessert was a Granny Smith Apple crisp in an oat crust with vanilla bean ice cream (I LOVE homemade ice cream! Good thing we have an ice cream maker!), and caramel sauce drizzled on the plate. There was a candied burnt caramel garnish on top that was very elegant and tasty. We got a dessert wine with this that was divine!

The restaurant was packed and so it was a little noisy, but all in all, an outstanding dinner with terrific service and we would definitely go back another time.

We have reservations to eat out twice more this week- and two out of the three we have chosen were in the top ten to try. So stay tuned for more reports on our foodie experiences.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

More music!

Both girls had a busy music week.

Tuesday night, the advanced elementary school band (of which Chloe is a member), the middle school bands, and the high school band all played a concert at Columbine.

Each band played a couple of numbers and then they all combined at the end to play "America The Beautiful", and it sounded really great.

Thursday night, Normandy had their combination Knight Ringers/Troubadours concert at the elementary school, and it was a tribute to Colorado. The hand bell video has them playing "Where The Columbines Grow". The Troubadours choir sang a lot of John Denver songs and I enjoyed it very much. I love John Denver- always have. And since my life is basically a John Denver song, well... lol (I could even give you specific song titles that describe various aspects of my life!)

I am trying to remember how to post videos on here...I have two videos: one of the combined bands and one of the handbells- you can actually see Chloe this time! I apologize for the shakiness- I have to videotape using my camera and zoom lens and it is pretty touchy about picking up movement on my part- but I like to try and zoom in a bit on the girls so you can see them, since you don't know where they are in the crowd.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

A New Quilting Journey!

Yesterday was SO FUN!!! My new friend Mona and I went down to Monument to a quilt shop called "Wild Heather" to meet with the ATC trading group- and what a blast it was!

The group is run by a local designer, Liz Kettle (co-author of Stitch Journeys), and the store owner, Heather (who is a pattern designer as well), is also a member of the group. We were warmly welcomed by all, and so inspired by all of the work we saw on the cards we traded. We each had to talk a bit about how we got the idea for our cards and what mediums/techniques we used. It is an incredibly talented group, and I just want to try so many things now! lol

The quilts on the wall and the fabrics in the store were also awe-inspiring, and I have a idea now for two wall hangings- a series I think that will include more than two- that I can't wait to get started on. I have been sketching and all night I dreamed of thread and what elements I want to have in these quilts. I'm not kidding!

However, I am going to start with the Stitch Journeys book; I bought it yesterday at the shop. Liz is delightful in person and when I got reading the book, I found that her co-author is from Newmarket, Ontario- and the threads they feature are Canadian. Unfortunately, that means I can't get most of them around here. But that is what ordering online is for! lol

I will learn how to use all of these threads and the techniques that go with them, and then I can start my quilt. No patterns, no rules- just my creative juices flowing. Let's see if I can transfer what I see in my head onto fabric. (That hasn't worked so well for me in the past...but I will think positively! lol)

For now, here is just a sample of the beautiful cards I got in the trade yesterday. The theme was "words" and everyone saw it a bit differently. To see the collection of what I made and all of what I got yesterday, you can go to my Webshots album (link on the right side of this page).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Did I mention?

Did I mention that Friday the 13th is among my favourite days of the year?

It was on a Friday the 13th that after so long of only "knowing" each other by phone and e-mail, that Rich and I first laid eyes on each other- the day we met for the first time in person.

And seeing how my life has turned out so incredibly- how can any Friday the 13th be considered anything but the best of luck days for me?

(photo taken on our honeymoon in Quebec City, May 2007)

Friday, February 13, 2009

So far...

Well, I have managed to make a couple of things from the Beatles fabric, and am working on a third.

Heidi wanted a tote bag (she refuses to carry a back pack). I wanted to showcase as much of the fabric as possible, which is why both sides are different. I used a Laurel Burch for the inside as it was one of the only fabrics I had enough of- I don't tend to buy big pieces of fabric unless I am working on something specific. And I found great rainbow tote strap to make it sturdy enough to lug around books.

Chloe just wanted a little purse, and since she loved the "cutie cubie" as she renamed the Treasure Box pattern- I amended it a little to make it bigger, and she seems pretty happy with it. It is lined with a vivid batik.

Holly wants a wallet, which I have cut and am working on right now. I have made this pattern before too, but hopefully I will do a better job on this one- I misfolded the last one, though I did manage to make it work in the end. **Hey- while I have been waiting for the girls to get up so that I can get photos of their bags- I finished the wallet! I hope Holly likes it.**

I will still have a bit of fabric left over and I think that I will use it to make a little wall hanging for my studio.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Progressing along

Well, Chloe has been to three lessons at Coventry Farms and just loves it. They put her on a bombproof horse for her first lesson- Symphony- and found that she was a little beyond that.

The second week she rode Chocolate Chip and found it a little more challenging. Of course now she is learning to ride while standing in the stirrups and she is learning to post without stirrups. This girl will have some MAJOR thigh muscles before long! lol

They are still pretty much tacking up for her, even though she could do it herself- even the saddle. At Tina's, she couldn't lift the heavy Western saddle by herself, but now that she is using an English saddle, it isn't a problem. The English saddle is so much smaller and lighter. I told Chloe to ask politely next week if she could try tacking up by herself and letting them check once she is done. I know they mean well, but she wants to do it and won't learn properly unless they let her try.

This past week she rode Smokey, and will again next week. I guess Beth has found a good fit for Chloe. We didn't stay too long, just long enough to get some photos. If the weather cooperates on Saturday, I will be away and Rich will be taking Chloe to her lesson- but I am sure I will hear all about it in great detail once I get home!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Well-fed wildlife!

There is no shortage of wildlife here in the suburbs!

Rich is a bird-lover (and so am I), and he just got new feeders over the weekend for the squirrels and the birds both.

The backyard is always full of cheerful chatter even on horribly windy days like today. We get so many varieties of birds it's hard to believe. The birds and squirrels are downright FAT! lol

Saturday while Chloe was at riding, Rich and I walked the trail along the South Platte river and got some great photos of pairs of ducks. I wanted to get some photos of the Canada Geese that seem to be EVERYWHERE... everywhere except there, apparently! lol

Sunday morning as I got out of bed, a bit of movement caught my eye in the east window. It was a coyote. There is a pretty good-sized pack of them just back of here- we have green space behind our back yard- and we have all been warned to keep a track of our pets, especially at night. Many neighbors have had their cats disappear. Such is life when you live side by side with wild animals, I guess.

Anyway, I decided I wanted to see if I could get a picture, and ran out back with the camera. Good thing I have a decent zoom lens, he was a good piece away and looked right at me. There were three of them, and Rich said they were the healthiest looking coyotes he has ever seen. Up in the hills he saw them a lot, but they were much skinnier.

I think it is very cool living so near to so much life outside!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Quilters ATCs!

The latest rage in my sewing room is Quilters Artist Trading Cards (ATCs for short). What a blast I have had taking a foray into this particular arena!

I have experimented with a few techniques that I have hesitated to try on my quilting, like thread painting and embellishing with a variety of fun things.

I have made a new friend right in town here and she was the one who invited me to go along with her to a quilt shop she likes to trade these cool little treasures with a group of ladies she has taken some classes with. I can't wait!

I will put the entire collection of cards on my Webshots page (link at right) if you are interested. Here is a little something to pique your interest...

Fabric Adventure!

I had a GREAT day! I met up with my friend Joan who lives in Denver, and we went to the Rocky Mountain Sew Expo in Denver.
What a show- so much to see and touch and drool over. So many choices about what to buy and what not to buy.

I hadn't met Joan in person before today; she and I belong to the same online fabric postcard trading group and she nicely offered to go with me to the show, knowing I don't know a lot of people around here yet. We started out by having a leisurely breakfast first and then spent the next three hours wandering from booth to booth. Joan brought me a gorgeous moose pincushion as a "welcome to Denver" gift. Isn't it cute? Joan is a sweetheart.

I really didn't intend on buying any fabric, but the prices were so good and I saw some stuff I knew my girls would LOVE. They are bag-a-holics just like I am and any time I get cool fabric, they want a bag of some sort out of it. I have lots of bag patterns and I love making bags... so it's all good!

Next week my adventure continues when I will go to an artsy quilt shop with a friend I have made here in the neighborhood. We will be trading quilter's ATCs, and I have been working feverishly on them for the past couple of weeks. I will post later today or tomorrow and show you a little sample of my "art".

In the meantime, check out the cool fabric I got today. I am so excited!

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