Saturday, May 28, 2011


After a drizzly week last week, I'm happy to say that the weather has cleared up and today is turning into an absolutely GORGEOUS day. Unfortunately I have to work a wedding tonight so I won't get to enjoy it as much as I'd like. By some weird twist of scheduling, Shawn's been off the past three days so we took advantage Thursday night and had a cookout.

Strangely enough, on Tuesday night Shawn stopped into Mellow Mushroom after work (that's definitely not the strange part..) and happened to run into a guy that he worked with on the cruise ship! Cliff was here on a short break so Shawn invited him to come over on Thursday night when we were having Robyn and Justin (and their dog Buck) over.

We had pork ribs with Shawn's Secret Recipe barbecue sauce and steak. I made veggie kabobs with onions mushrooms and brussels sprouts and Shawn made what is becoming a cookout tradition--baked macaroni made with Annie's white cheddar shells and a toasted Cheez-it topping. Only this time he added a bit of crumbled bacon and some cream cheese so it was of course even more delicious. A side note about brussels sprouts: if you've never tried them before because you once saw on a cartoon when you were a child that they were gross and have just been believing it for the past 20 years, please try them! If you cook them right and don't overcook them into slimy little balls, they can be so delicious and a good way to mix it up if you're sick of broccoli and green beans. -end brussels sprout soapbox-

Anyway, the weather was nice so we sat up on the roof deck to eat. Enjoying one of those fabulous evenings talking with friends, drinking beer and eating good food. Basically, what life was made for in my book :) I meant to take pictures but well, we were lucky to remember to even turn off the grill, so blogging was not exactly on my mind at the time..

Never one to be idle, Shawn stayed busy during his days off, surprising me by taking Civ to get detailed (she was looking a little rough since the move) and bringing home a completely scrumptious Nutella crepe that I thoroughly enjoyed. A shiny car and a delicious pastry? *swoon*

He was also able to finally get the doorknob installed on the bedroom door which has been a sore subject for quite some time now. This glass knob was another gift he had surprised me with way back in Jacksonville way back before he went to Hawaii. So it's been around a while. At the time, he had tried to install it on my bedroom door but it didn't fit with the existing hardware. Then when we got here, we discovered basically the same thing. So after two trips to the locksmith, two episodes of the knobs breaking off their base due to Shawn trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole, a failed attempt at epoxying the knobs back together, and some filing out of the doorknob hole in the door, we have a working knob! And it sure is purty :)

Our aquarium of wonders has also gained a few more residents:

Sue the bichir fish.. She has an eel-like body and just two little side fins right behind her head so her movements are usually pretty odd. But she gets along with Lord Tennyson, which is apparently a difficult thing to do. It seems like every fish we want will either eat or be eaten by him. But I caught them both together in the hiding spot in our tank, so I'd say they became fast friends. Or luvaaaas.

When we went to the fish store the other day, we saw this really cool black knife fish that we were gonna get. Then as the girl is about to scoop him out, she casually asks us if we have frozen brine shrimp, since that's all he eats. We have frozen krill, is that okay? Since that's what Sue and LT eat.. No, he really needs brine shrimp, she says, since they're much smaller. And then she says, "What I usually do is get a little of the shrimp in a dish with some water in it so that they thaw out and then I use an eyedropper and suck some of them up and reach my hand down in and just squeeze out a couple at a time right in front of him..." Me and Shawn look at each other. "Uh, can we just get a snail?"

So now we have Gary:

I was not too excited to be getting a snail since I prefer my pets to entertain me, but Gary has proven himself to be a rather adventurous snail (climbing to the tops of the trees, above) and so he's won me over.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

oh freelancing..

This past week has been an adventure in the world of barely employ-ment... Tuesday night I found myself at the Denver Merchandise Mart working for a company that puts on "Girls Night Out" events all over the country. I just had to check people in so it was not too interesting or challenging... But I did get two swag bags at the end full of girlie goodies which honestly was probably my favorite part :) They had a bottle of this crazy water called MetroMint which I keep struggling to decide if I like it or am repulsed by it. It's unsweetened, with just water, mint, and cocoa essence listed as the ingredients. The thought of drinking an Andes mint doesn't appeal to me, but when I take a sip it's so refreshing and then I think I like it. Hmm.

Thursday I went to work with Buffy at Pink Posey Design. She had a couple weddings coming up this weekend to get ready for and needed some extra help. I think I made about 15 bouts and corsages. Whoa nelly my hands were killing me from those tedious little guys. But I always enjoy being back in the flower world. And I got to take home some extras which reminded me of my old Belle Fleur Fridays when I would bring home leftover flowers and then spend an hour or two arranging them, always making myself late for my Friday night plans :) But fresh flowers in the house are just so fun!

That night I was doing my usual CraigsList-ing and ended up with a gig for the next morning working with a photography company. So Friday I headed out to Red Rocks for the Chatfield High School graduation ceremony that they were shooting. It was actually pretty interesting, since I've worked in basically all the different areas of weddings/events but never photography. So I got to learn a few new things but it was also a lot of waiting around for the ceremony to start and then the speeches and yadda yadda yadda. It did make me think of those good ole high school days though and being involved with my own graduation. It's funny how everything seems SO important at that time :)

The weather was pretty nice to start with in spite of the unpleasant drizzle that had been around the previous few days. Then of course just as they're about to start handing out the diplomas, the clouds come along with the rain. And it was quiiiite chilly. We busted out our ponchos and the whole stands were filled with colorful umbrellas. I was helping a photographer at the spot where the students take a picture with the American flag background before they walk across the stage. So luckily I was semi-covered. But it was still pretty cold and definitely windy. We had to get a teacher to hold the background up for us since it kept blowing over. I felt so bad for those people in the stands and all the grads looked freezing in the pictures with their shoulders up and teeth-chattering smiles. It was pretty crazy too, two lines for 500 graduates, so 250 times I had to tell them how to hold the diploma and where to stand on the mark. "Hold it in your left hand, across your body, stand right on the feet." And it moves REALLY fast. Also, believe it or not, high schoolers are not the most attentive so rather than any single one of them paying attention and listening to what I said to the one before them... I got to say it to each of them individually. And then watch them try to figure out which was the left hand. Oh, the youth of today... ;)

It was cool to be down on the stage at Red Rocks though and I got a mini tour of the underground while we were waiting. There's a little tunnel system underneath the stage where all the dressing rooms are. Some of the rooms have part of the rock formations protruding into them. Basically every major band has played there, hanging out in those very rooms.

Then today I was back at the florist but this time to do some organizing and cleaning at the shop while waiting on people to come by and pick up their wedding flowers. Buffy is out of town for the weekend working on this insanely huge Alice in Wonderland themed wedding with a big event production company. She was telling me something about a hedge maze into a rabbit hole, an 80 foot long dining table, giant mushrooms, a floating Cheshire cat... pretty wild.

So I've been keeping pretty busy and Shawn is enjoying being at Bistro Vendome. Always finding ways to entertain himself, he got off work one day this week and was waiting for me to be done working so he decided to stick around downtown and make some new friends. When I finally was off, I discover that he has spent the evening hawking the wares of the local hippie population. They were apparently impressed by his success (I would imagine their usual sales pitch is much less exuberant) and so he received this picture as commission for a job well done:

It's a paper collage with a bit of marker drawing on some sort of building material scrap. Kinda cool. I think I'll hang it in the bathroom.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


It's been quite chilly here this past week (freezing-rain-bouncing-off-my-windshield chilly) which inspired me to whip up some chicken soup with rice. I didn't really use a recipe but I did put to use the chicken stock we froze a while ago when we made a super big batch. Mmmm it was so good. The stock added such good flavor. I precooked the rice for a bit since brown rice takes FOREVER to cook it seems. Probably could have cooked it a bit longer, but I was too cold and hungry :)

I was laughing to myself as I was taking these pictures (especially the first one) because it's kind of weird to stop in the middle of cooking to snap some pics. But I'm always a fan of a good mise en place. Have I mentioned my addiction to thingsorganizedneatly? Full of OCD images that just make my heart happy :) 

Shawn decided to snap a picture of this pizza from the other night:

I had carefully rearranged the pepperonis and he just thought that was the most ridiculous thing. I told him that in the grand scheme of strange organize-y things I do, this one's not so weird. Who wants to eat a mouthful of pepperonis in one bite and then only cheese in the next? Not this girl. He had a lovely time eating miscellaneous slices off to ruin my symmetry while we waited for the oven to preheat.

In other food news, we finally managed to eat all the Easter ham. I had frozen it in batches since I knew we'd never eat it all in time and after the ham and bean soup, countless ham sandwiches, ham and egg scrambles, and some ham just dipped in honey mustard and dijon for good measure... it's finally gone! The ham situation was a little out of control there for a minute.

Now I'm trying to come up with creative ways to use up this giant bag of potatoes we bought before they start growing their own potato farm in the pantry. I made some super crispy spiced oven fries earlier and I think my potato and lentil soup is juuuust about done.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Since I have quite a bit of free time on my hands, I decided to make Shawn a good ole fashioned Happy Birthday banner. He's holding up his membership card for the Denver Parks and Recreation Center I got him so he can get back into boxing. He has to go get his picture taken for it but for now I drew him a fantastic likeness.

Shawn's new job was kind enough to let him off Saturday for his birthday so we took advantage of the absolutely perfect weather and went up to the mountains. A nice 80 degree cloudless day for a hike. We packed some sandwiches and a bit of trail mix and set off for Rocky Mountain National Park. We were headed for the Emerald Lake trail which was pretty far in to the park. On the way up the slow winding roads we spotted some wildlife. Actually not sure what these are... elk?

We also spotted some patches of snow along the road and I secretly plotted a snowball ambush once we got out of the car. Oh how naive the little Floridians are. Upon reaching the trailhead, we realized we were the only ones in shorts and tank tops. Everyone else was wearing boots, pants, jackets, etc. But there were no clouds in the sky! The sun was warm! We put on some long sleeves that were hanging around in the car and decided to go for it.

As we cautiously walked to the beginning of the trail, trying to avoid the massive slush puddle that had formed there, we noticed some other wary hikers talking to the ranger. He was assuring them that they should still be able to hike, but to be careful because some spots would be slippery. At that moment a couple emerged from the trail wearing snow shoes and carrying ski poles. Ruh roh.

During the first attempt at taking that picture, Shawn yelled for me to watch out and I had to dodge out of the way of some downhill skiers who were swooping through. That's normal. Notice how deep into the snow the sign is buried..

It was only 1.8 miles to the lake and by about mile .2 I was DYING. Trudging through the snow was like running on the beach, only worse since you're using every muscle in your legs to stabilize you and keep from slipping. Then we'll just throw in the part where we're almost 10,000 ft about sea level. Wow. The snow is so deep in some spots that you sink up to your knee. I was having flashbacks to all those episodes of "I Shouldn't Be Alive" that I recently watched with my dad.

Meanwhile up ahead, Sherpa Shawn was bounding along, popping up to lookouts to get some amazing views.

He was of course also offering words of encouragement, "We're almost there!" "It's just around this turn!" Blah blah blah. All of a sudden, I shriek as my foot sinks in and literally my entire right leg is buried in the snow. I am doing a vertical split into the mountain. Not comfortable. After doing some very graceful writhing around I finally manage to twist myself up and out. By then, Shawn is by my side and looks down into the hole my body has formed in the snow. "Um, I think you actually fell into a tree." Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is so much snow that I managed to walk myself right into a tree top.

After a brief rest and a good laugh about the absurdity of this whole situation, we continue on to the Emerald City Lake. We eventually reach a huge clearing that seems to in fact be a frozen lake (the lake?) but some passing hikers (outfitted in snowshoes) inform us that Emerald Lake is just a bit farther along. Trudging trudging trudging through the snow and slush. Our feet were soaked through. There miiiight have been a few episodes of me falling over into the snow and stating/whining/potentially crying that I simply could not go on. Slightly dramatic I'll admit.

I wish I could say that we finally made it to the lake and it was so glorious and beautiful that is was totally worth trudging through the frozen tundra. However we reached a point at the bottom of a basin which seemed to be a dead end. There didn't appear to be any other path from the basin except straight up where some guys had just snowboarded down. Needless to say, that wasn't happening. There were some giant boulders around that were not covered in snow and thus a perfect place to finally rest. So after some bananas and Clif bars we called it a day and trudged back. (Did I mention we got a box of Clif bars for 50 cents at an estate sale a few weeks back? Along with a can of soup and a box of cereal?) I will say the return trip was much more enjoyable since it was mostly downhill. This allowed us to practice our foot skiing which eventually turned into sledding downhill on our freezing bums. Quite fun if not a bit uncomfortable on the way home.

On the way out of the park we stopped to enjoy a little mountain stream and then headed for a pint and a snack.

All in all, a successful day. Shawn did point out that his birthdays with me so far have gotten us into some pretty interesting situations. Last year we went camping at a spring in central Florida and ended up on a day long canoe trip with about 300 of our closest spider friends. Wonder what I can cook up for next year..

We survived!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

happy birthday shawn!

Today my beloved turns the ripe old age of 24. This is my favorite half of the year, when we are no longer 3 years apart in age :)

Some things never change..

Forever young... Love you boo!

Monday, May 2, 2011

also starring...

Lord Tennyson

The newest addition to our household :)

While Shawn was working the other day I took a stroll over to the enormous public library downtown (free entertainment, anyone?). After his shift he scooped me up and informed me that he wanted to "go get this CraigsList thing" he had just lined up. Of course I was curious but he insisted that it was a "surprise". Well, Shawn is not exactly the best person at surprises and so within 5 minutes he told me that we were going to get a 30 gallon aquarium.Which led to a discussion on the difference between a "surprise" and a "secret". Obviously my home decorating scheme had no room in our < 500 square foot apartment for an aquarium suitable for Shamu. He had clearly planned to pick it up and bring it home before I could resist. But he made a valid point that I've pretty much made every decision about what will be purchased and placed where soooo.. off we went.

Soon we were the proud owners of a gigantic aquarium with its very own faux wood stand. Hooray! Luckily it fit easily behind the couch with its base perfectly concealed. Of course an empty tank will just not do.. "CraigsList powers activate!" Next mission: African Clawed Frog. Which I was informed was actually the whole reason the aquarium was purchased in the first place. Shawn had his eyes on these frogs for a while and heaven forbid Lord Tennyson be confined to 15 or even 20 gallons.

We met the frog seller in the parking lot of a convenience store, giving the whole exchange somewhat of a drug deal ambiance. Shawn gave him the cash and he handed us a plastic bag containing a frog that was WAY larger than I had imagined he would be. We promptly placed him in a Big Gulp cup to keep him and his water from tipping over.

A second quick stop was made to pick up some free cat food and kitty litter (also a CL find.. just looking towards the future, ya know?) followed by a stop at the pet store (a real brick and mortar one this time, not another strange CraigsList animal dealer) and we were back home to set up LT's new habitat.

It should be noted that Shawn had interpreted "bottom feeder" to mean algae eater. A quick glance in the tank the next morning however confirmed that Lord Tennyson is in fact a minnow eater and he has continued to consume one at least every other day since he came to live with us. At least they are only 15 cents. But somewhat troublesome considering they're some of my favorite little guys to watch dart back and forth. Meanwhile the algae has started to grow and we are now in the position of having to buy a rather large algae eater lest LT consume him as well.

On a similar note, during a trip to the reptile store a couple weeks ago I witnessed a boa slowly consume a rat for the first time in my life. Supremely disturbing.

Anyway, LT has been providing hours of enjoyment and I must say that I am now happy he has come here to live. Since I realize not everyone is into amphibians and reptiles and such, I'll leave you with this pretty bouquet that was from an event I worked this week with Pink Posey Design to bring us back to Martha Land.

Ah, that's better.