Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas in Colorado

We spent this Christmas in Denver with Collin's sister + fam as well as his dad + girlfriend who flew out a few days before the 25th. It turned out to be a beautiful white Christmas! Denver got almost 12" so it really felt like the holidays even though we were away from 'home.' Collin and I had to finish our shopping on the 23rd (go figure) so we headed to the mall for some last minute gifts and then then met up with everyone else at the tavern at the Brown Palace for a drink before dinner.

I took this for my aunt! Gingerbread ship!
For dinner, we went to a newly opened restaurant, called Linger, in a hip little part of town. The back story to this restaurant is that it was originally a mortuary called O'linger which was purchased, gutted, and made into a swanky restaurant. They used the original neon sign and blacked out the O' = linger! 

The view of downtown Denver is just AMAZING! They also have a light-up bar made of Light Bright pegs.

The Light-Bright bar! How cool!

View of the restaurant from the 2nd floor bar
They serve tapas style dishes so Collin and I shared three plates: pad thai, muscles, and a korean beef dish (if I'm remembering correctly). Everyone but Collin was very impressed with the food. I would definitely recommend it, if for nothing else to see the view!

On Christmas Eve we had reservations at at micro-distillary in Boulder for a tour and tasting. Since they didn't open until 3p, we wanted to eat and the boys wanted to watch some football. Collin has been talking about this place called the Dark Horse forever. The Dark Horse Saloon is known for their chicken wings and burgers so everyone agreed to go. I was expecting a run of the mill bar but it was no such thing. I can't even explain it really. Sort of like a carnival, antique shop, taxidermy shop, and sports restaurant all combined into one place????? Check out the following pictures:

If you can tell, the women's restroom is on the right and men's on the left. Confusing...especially after a few drinks. Tricky tricky.

They also had an air hockey table (of course I beat Collin two out of two times.) Wings were excellent and food was great as Collin had predicted. We watched a few football games and I played a bunch of arcade games with Julia and Collin and by then it was time to head to the distillery.
It was called Roundhouse Spirits and they specialize in gin (and dabble in agave spirits--aka tequila [which is like Champagne in that it cannot technically be called tequila unless it is from a certain area of Mexico, interesting I thought!]) 

When we first walked into the distillery/warehouse, we were all a little unimpressed. We weren't sure what sort of "tour" they planned to give us because we could see every corner of the building from the front door. We were pleasantly surprised though. The owner was very knowledgable and pretty funny too. He definitely made it worthwhile and enjoyable.

His first still
Oak barrels to age some of the gin
Current stills
Bottling station

The tasting was obviously the best part. The gin was SO smooth. It tasted like a gin martini without having to add vermouth. The barrel aged gin wasn't my favorite but the guys really liked it. The guy described it as a "gin-skey," a mix between a gin and whiskey taste. The agave spirit (aka tequila) was smooth...I was told. I couldn't down straight tequila if they wanted me to keep my lunch down. The last thing we tried was the coffee liquor. Holy yummy. It was amazing and I don't even drink coffee. After all of the tasting we each got to choose two cocktails from their menu which were also delicious. Finally, our group bought a total of 12 bottles to take home with us and we were on our way. 

We drove back to Alli's from Boulder and continued to enjoy Christmas Eve with a few bottles of champagne and wine. All of the guys were sleeping by 8:00p (Collin was in bed by 7!) but the girls hung out and talked into the night. Late night we decided to cook up an asian dinner complete with pot stickers and pork stir fry...sorry guys, you should have paced yourselves! 

On Christmas morning, Julia, who usually likes to sleep in, was of course up early and trying her best not to wake people...on purpose anyway! After everyone was awake and had a cup of coffee or tea, we were ready to open presents! Julia wore her new footie PJs!

Complete with giant grow into! Her feet have already surpassed mine...not that that's hard to do...

 Santa came!!!

I thought that my Christmas was over as far as gifts were concerned because Collin gave me my new video camera before we even went up to Denver. Well, he had a little surprise in store for me! He handed me a big box and told me this was my last gift. I opened it to find the J. Crew purse that I have been wanting sooo badly!

I was certainly spoiled this Christmas!

After all of the presents were opened, Allison made mini-quiches for brunch!

We all showered up and relaxed for a few hours. Julia played with her new toys and crafts from Santa!

...then it was again time for champagne, a serious staple in Collin's family! We also had some fabulous appetizers before dinner: raw oysters and a variety of cheeses!

Chilled with giant icicles!

My shucker

Oysters in the snow!

I also got to video chat with my parents and family back home...and little C again!! I love video makes it so much easier to be away from home especially during times like the holidays. I got to show my presents, see some familiar faces, and catch up on what I was missing. It was really nice.

Christmas dinner was an amazing spread, just as Thanksgiving was. We had a turkey, a spiral ham, beef spare ribs (the best I've ever had!), green bean casserole, twice baked potatoes, cauliflower gratin, cooked carrots, homemade bread, and chocolate & vanilla swirled cheesecake!

Alli's cute dessert plates:

Our place card nutcrackers show how Collin ended up for the second night in a row...face down in bed...and early.

A peak into our Christmas:

We're back in the Springs now for a few days until we head off on our New Years adventure!

One last thing...I received a lovely Christmas card from my grandfather's nephew after we got back from Denver. Inside was a picture from 1934 of my grandpa and his siblings. It is so cute! I love it!

Stanley, Ray, Nadine, & Dale
I can see a lot of Tommy and Jamie in pops...

Merry Christmas from Colorado! I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday, where ever you are!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Suki's Christmas Shenanigans

A little taste of what kitty has been getting into this Christmas season. Her new favorite thing to do...besides knock ornaments off of the tree and sleep on top of the kitchen to watch the show Wild Russia with Collin and I. She is so interested in the animals and it's so funny to watch her watch TV.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Matisyahu Concert

This past Saturday, Collin and I went up to Denver once again. This time we went to a concert with his sister and brother-in-law. I was super excited, Collin--not so much. Allison bought tickets to see Matisyahu so we planned to go to dinner first and then head to the concert which was at a pretty small venue called Ogden Theater.

We were all in the mood for a good burger so Allison suggested we go to 'My Brother's Bar'. We were not disappointed in the least! They serve the burgers, bison or beef, single or double, with a huge box of condiments to share. My bison burger was amazing!!

After gorging ourselves with meat and french fries we still had plenty of time to kill before the concert started at 9...which was only the opening band. One of Allison's favorite bars was very close to the concert venue so that is what we decided on. It is called 'Sancho's Broken Arrow' and it is basically a dive-y Grateful Dead bar. Perfect.

I was already loving it and then I saw it...the air hockey table...amidst all of the pool and foozeball tables. Done deal. I love air hockey! Collin challenged me to a game and I accepted.

Painting/graffiti is all over the place along with Grateful Dead posters of all sorts.

Of course I beat him. Then Allison wanted to play, so Collin played a game with her and then I did as well. I won. Then I beat Acey as well. I was just on a roll! After we were all finished with the air hockey table, we were standing next to it at a table having some more drinks. Two guys came over to play and I kept watching. Somehow we all started chatting and it came up that I was the 'reigning champ of the table'. So of course, one of the guys proceeded to challenge ME to a game to really see what I was all about! Well, he gave me a gentleman's bow after I beat him! His friend, who was this huge meaty man, was laughing hysterically and kept repeating that he was going to post on Facebook that his friend just got his butt beat by a girl. I quite enjoyed it! haha! Everyone had a good laugh about it! The guy that I played was a good sport and offered to buy all of us a round of drinks. Unfortunately, the show had already started so we thanked him but had to get going!

We headed right into the Ogden a song or two before the opening band was finished and it was packed. After we got some drinks, Acey scouted out a perfect spot for us to watch the show.
I would describe Matisyahu as a Jewish rap/reggae/rock musician. Sounds kinda strange but I really love his music.
While he usually looks like this:
His given name is actually Matthew and he was born in West Chester PA!
When he came out on stage, I'm pretty sure everyone was a little shocked. He shaved pretty much everything off. No beard, 'stache, side curls...nothing. Not sure what that is all about but he sounded just as good!

Collin and I at the show! He ended up really enjoying it. We all had a blast!

A few clips from the show:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Many of you know that I love to follow blogs, especially makeup, fashion, and home decor-related blogs. A few months ago, I posted that I won a makeup palette from Bobbi Brown for "following" her new blog. Today, I received an e-mail from a blogger that I really like, stating that I was the winner of her giveaway! This blogger teamed up with a clothing company called Shabby Apple...a store that I also love! They offer vintage inspired clothing that I've been eyeing for a while. The 'prize' is an adorable high-waisted, black, pencil skirt with a large bow at the waist. To enter the "contest/give-away" I had to leave a comment on her blog and then she chose at random from those who commented. And I won!

How cute is that skirt!? Can't wait to get it in the mail! Lots of bloggers (I would estimate that at least half of those who I follow) do these giveaways, especially during the holidays, as a sort of 'thank you' to their blog subscribers. Hundreds or even thousands of girls usually enter to win, so if I really like the 'prize' I occasionally enter just for fun but obviously not actually expecting to win. Happy to have won this time though!! :)

On another note:
This weekend I was able to video chat with not only my parents but also my nana, aunts and uncles, brother, cousin, anddddd cute Mr. C! He opened his Christmas present from Collin and I and seemed to just love the little plaid golfers hat that we got him. Not too interested in the other clothes but I should have known that clothes are a bad gift for a toddler...but they're too cute to pass up!! It was so nice to talk to everyone but made me really miss being home for the holidays.

PS. A big congratulations to Penny for graduating this past weekend! YAY!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Tree & Castle Rock

We FINALLY went to pick out a Christmas tree! Hooray! The only place that I knew to go was the grocery store so Collin asked for some ideas at his office. The office manager told Collin that her son's baseball team was selling trees to raise money for their team. On Saturday, after a ton of errands we finally stopped for a tree. They had a bunch of trees laying on a pile, all wrapped up but the guy insisted that he cut one open so that we could see how beautiful it was. Collin told him that we'd take it as is but the knife came out he made sure that we saw it before buying. It was perfect and smelled soo good! (I think it's a Douglas Fir.) So we payed for it and they put it in the back of Collin's is, unwrapped. We both gave each other a funny look as they tossed the sprawling 7ft tree on the bed of the truck. Okie dokie then, I guess that's how we'll take it. When we got home Collin somehow managed to carry the tree up all four flights of stairs by himself...but not before dropping it down half of the first flight! It survived.

Collin's pheasant tail

Bird's nest for good luck

Pheasant wings

We planned to get wayyy more decorations but since Suki keeps attacking the ones that we have and the lower half of the tree no longer has ANY ornaments, we put that idea on hold for this year.

On Sunday, Collin and I headed up to the town of Castle Rock to check out the outlets. There is an antique store in Castle Rock called The Barn that I've been eyeing on the internet for some time now. I FINALLY got to go but I wasn't looking forward to it as much as I normally would have because I knew Collin's attention span was going to be way too short for my liking. 

The Barn is an antique shop and craft/gift shop, crafters and artists can "rent" a room in the barn (like this one) to display and sell their work.
Well, it must have been my lucky day because Collin pretty much loved (he would say "liked") the store! We spent an hour looking around and picking out Christmas gifts for our families (I could have spent 3 hours but one with Collin is just dandy too!) I DEFINITELY plan to go back!

After our unexpected hour at The Barn we drove a few minutes out of town to the outlets. Collin is in serious need of some more clothes for work so that was our mission. 

They had awesome sales and Collin even bought me another hat. I'm SO into hats these days. Well, I actually have been for years but I finally found the guts to actually wear them! 

Very different than my first one, which is more like a 1920's style wool cloche hat. This one is kind of a mix between a fedora and a cowboy hat. I guess this is the start of my hat collection! 

After Collin made out pretty well at the outlets we were starving. Since the antique shop was "downtown" we got to see the cute little town of Castle Rock on our way in and out. On the way out I saw a little bar that advertised "the best wings in town" so obviously Collin wanted to stop there for dinner. We parked and as Collin was about to open the door he gave me a look and I quickly said "um, let's go somewhere else!" It sounded like a biker bar fight was about to break out and I wasn't about to prance in there wearing a puffy vest and a new wool hat. Less than half a block down the street was the Castle Cafe which looked like a safer bet.

I was happy to see that they had "fishbowls!" Mario's Fishbowl is a bar in Morgantown WV that my friends and I frequented quite often and who served beer out of glasses like the one below. I was pretty excited and Collin even knew what I was talking about because he's been there with me too!

A Fishbowl!
 Our food was great! Home style and homemade. They're apparently 'famous' for their fried chicken and after seeing our neighbors meal I know why. They brought out a huge platter piled with pieces of yummy looking fried chicken...for two people. Our waitress, Janice, was also the sweetest person ever...I asked her which of their homemade soups she recommended and she brought me a healthy sample of each to decide for myself. Thank ya, Janice!

The main street of Castle Rock (Wilcox St.) had lights stung across for Christmas. The entire town was very festively decorated actually. I loved it!

A nice weekend!

Tonight I tried my hand at Parmesan Crusted Chicken Piccata. It turned out pretty darn well actually! (not on Carmine's level but tasty none the less!) After dinner we drank some prosecco and played Yahtzee! Haha!

A good night!!
Hoping yours is too!