Friday, August 5, 2011

Life in the 'Burbs Part 2

A little gem I found at Hobby Lobby. Will be hung above our bed.

I have been away for a bit, because Shane and I have been preparing for, and making, a big move.

To a new state? No
To a new country? No
To a ranch? Close

We just moved in with my in-laws in the Ranch!

Ranch [ranch] 
1. our sometimes affectionate little nickname for Highlands Ranch, Colorado; one of the most populous unincorporated communities in the United States.
Shane doesn't count the two weeks we lived there last summer, but I sure do, which makes this our third time moving in with my in-laws. We cannot get enough of life in the 'burbs, in the Ranch, where married people go to die, etc. No sirry, cannot get enough!

This time we had some goals in mind with our move; a new house perhaps, paying down debt for sure, a yard for the dog? Ok, that last one might not be a priority, but it sure is a bonus, which leads me into a segment I like to call, Life in the 'Burbs (Part 2).

I will again start my time in the 'burbs with aspects of the Ranch I have immediately enjoyed:

1. A yard for the dog. This is obvious. Since we don't have children, and children are not in our near future plan, Ipswich is our child and what wouldn't a parent do for a child? We moved to the 'burbs. Others might just take their dog to the dog park or provide food and water. Don't think we don't love our dog!

2. A grill. Besides the two times in the past we have lived with my in-laws, Shane and I have not had a grill in two years! That's a long freakin time. It's a crime really. We love our new grill.

3. Two decks. Why have one deck when you can have two? As long as I have known Dale (father-in-law), which is five years this month, he has talked about adding a layer to his second story deck. Sure, why the heck not? Across from our bedroom now, we have what's called the deck room, formerly Austin's room. It walks out to a beautiful deck with beautiful views.  We also have the original "not as cool views, but has a grill" deck. That's fine too.

4. Finally, free laundry. This past year we had to pay for laundry for the first time since dorm living and I was not pleased. I am happy to have free back.

These immediate joys are of course in addition to everything mentioned in Part 1 of 'burbs life. I may go into the negative aspects at another time, but this first week, it's nothing but positive baby.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Recap Heading into the Weekend

I have been lazy, but mostly because my last few weeks were anything but lazy. Here's a little recap told through the lens of my iphone.


Shane and I have been bike riding, watching the monsoons from our balcony, bbqing, walking with the dog and making time for other various summer fun in the city. Every minute of summer thus far has been completely enjoyable. I don't want it to end.

Happy Weekend! 

Ps, I can't believe I didn't mention this sooner...we are going to see the final HP this weekend! I can hardly hardly hardly wait! AHHH. Did anyone go last night to see it? I've heard it's the best. I am so excited.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 28th

My mother gave birth to me 26 years ago today. Thanks Mom and Dad. I've really enjoyed life so far.

Isn't my mother beautiful? And look at my father, quite the handsome "manz" man, isn't he?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Cocktail Series: Mixing with Blueberry Syrup

Last week Shane and I bought a big container of blueberries on sale. We ate a few, but I soon wanted something new to do with them, so I made a simple syrup using the rest. We've been using the syrup to try out new cocktail ideas. I experimented with vodka, sparkling clementine Izze, and the blueberry syrup. I also played around with rum and the blueberry syrup with some friends on Friday night. Here are the two recipes I think turned out the best and are very easy to make! And isn't the one pictured below so beautiful?

Clementine Blueberry Cocktail
2 parts* vodka
1 part blueberry syrup
2-3 parts sparkling clementine Izze (or any sort of orange soda)
1/2 part lime juice
Stir all of the ingredients together with ice in a cocktail glass

Blueberry Rum Cocktail
1 parts white rum
1 part blueberry syrup
2 parts Pomegranate Izze (I have been on an Izze kick-you could substitute with cranberry juice or pomegranate juice, or something of the like)
Splash of lime juice
Add ice, then I splashed club soda to top it off (makes it a little less sweet)

*I used a shot glass to measure a "part" for both of these recipes.

I think incorporating champagne with the syrup could be really delicious!

Shane also grilled up some delicious steaks and turkey burgers (it was not just the two of us eating).

Happy Weekend! We are going to a wedding for our friends Nicole and Nate tonight and are so excited to celebrate with them!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Things I Learned in Nashville

It was so so so much fun to be with my bestest high school girls two weekends ago. As I mentioned, this was the first time we were together in over a year and a half.

As a tribute, here are some things I learned in Nashville:
1. it's difficult to be the top of a pyramid, but with the right motivation, it can be done.
2. it's humid. all the time.
3. mid-sized cameras need to have the flash popped, every picture. otherwise it will be blurry and dark.
4. although it may seem like a good idea to spend the days sightseeing, it's a better idea to sit in and near the pool, with wine spritzers.
5. sit like a girl when wearing dresses. it's polite.
6. white rappers are my favorite.
7. kelly roth's facial expressions get crazier as the night progresses.
8. bestest has the longest arms ever. i mean it.
9. i will always be liz manz to my childhood friends.
10. pictures should not be taken after dancing incessantly in a hot, humid bar. they will not turn out pretty. and brushing your sweaty bangs off your forehead does not help.
11. it is possible, although not recommended, to fit 7 people in a kia sedan.
12. just because we don't see each other often does not mean that there will be no drama or tears shed.
13. people with grills are dangerous. you might cut your tongue.
14. and lastly, i learned that despite the time and distance, my high school girlfriends remain some of my most favorite people and i look forward to the next time we are together.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Weekend!

I am so glad it's Friday. My weekend is full of plans for pool side and roof top sitting, new cocktail recipes, friends, cupcakes, farmers markets, bikes, wine, and a wedding! I love summer in Denver.

Enjoy your weekend! 

I will leave you with the scariest, most emotionally charged, goose-bump-inducing trailer yet for HP7 Part 2.
(Sorry for the image It sure doesn't scream "Happy Friday")

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Busy June Bees

I had the best time visiting with my Mom and Nana and then I had the best time in Nashville (which I will post some pictures soon)! I realized that my mom came into town on the 2nd and it's already the 15th today! June, slow down pleeeease. You are my favorite month!

Here's what I have been up to since my return from Nashville...
A preview of our Nashville trip
Sunday, I got home from Nashville (seriously, we had such a good time) and took a two hour nap. Then Shane and I went on a date to the movies and ice cream. We went to the Mayan Theater on South Broadway and saw Midnight in Paris, which was super cute! Then we ate delicious vegan (and non-vegan) ice cream at Sweet Action. It was the perfect end to a crazy few weeks!

Monday night Mel got a few friends together to make her invitations for the wedding. I felt like I hadn't seen any of my friends in weeks, so it was fun to catch up and be crafty (and drink wine and eat!).

Last night we supper clubbed with some (hopefully) new friends from church. We had a feast! It was a picnic theme and we ended up on the roof for dessert, literally. The sunset was beautiful. I should have taken pictures. Plus it marked 2 weeks from my birthday. I have not been talking about my birthday on here nearly as much as I have been in real life. I am sure real life friends are tired of hearing about it. I freakin love my birthday.
mint brownie and chocolate hazelnet; and vegan cinnamon swirl-we were feeling quite hipster
Tonight I am heading to Brio for the best happy hour in Denver. I promise you, if you haven't tried it, you should. Maybe not the best ever, but it's definitely in my top 5 (maybe that's why Carmen and I go every week, shoot).
Ipswich sleeping between bags(and piles) of clothes to be donated
Hope you are all having splendid weeks and are enjoying the beautiful weather (Is everyone around the country having beautiful weather? I like to think you are. If not, you should consider moving to Denver. It's where all of the sunshine flocks)! Are you staying just as busy? Is June going too quickly for you too?

Ps, 13 days till bday time!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

An Early Birthday and the Denver Chalk Art Festival

My mom was in town this weekend, so we celebrated my birthday 24 days early. *Ah birthday months.* Shane, my mom and I went to the Broker Saturday evening for a drink before our dinner reservations elsewhere.
The three of us decided to skip dinner reservations and bar hop instead. In Larimer square, we stumbled upon the Denver Chalk Art Festival. I am so glad we did, because it was amazing to watch the artists at work creating art all from chalk (and are only temporary!). I can't believe how much time and energy was spent on each one.

Can you believe the detail?

This one was my favorite.

Corridor 44 for champagne cocktails

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer Cocktails: Strawberry Banana Daiquiri

Can you tell I am in summer mode this week? The weather brings it out! And maybe my lobster arms from the sun this weekend or the sunglasses tan line I am already rocking.

Anyway, I love summer so much and I love experimenting with new cocktails (whether I create it or find a recipe). I will have a series of Summer Cocktails that I will feature throughout the season.

First in the series is a Strawberry Banana Daiquiri. Let me preface it with, I would normally never ever choose this as a featured summer cocktail. It's traditionally so sweet and heavy and you can drink only one before moving on to something better. Then I discovered the recipe below. And this is how we stumbled upon it 2 Saturdays ago around 10pm...
Shane: Hey, you should look online for a daiquiri recipe. What goes in daiquiris?
Me: Daiquiri mix, which we don't have.
Shane: Really Liz, daiquiri mix? That's your answer? Can you just look up a recipe?
Me: Fine, but I am telling you that the answer will be daiquiri mix, ok?.
Shane: Can you just look online?

Needless to say, I found a great "homemade" daiquiri recipe, and then Shane started to demand fancier recipes, bringing us to this variation (did you know that daiquiris were this easy to make? Is it just me who thought it was some complicated recipe requiring an already made mix?). Enjoy!

Strawberry Banana Daiquiri

(found here)

1 1/2 ounces light Rum (we may have added extra rum)
1 tablespoon Triple Sec
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 banana
2 ounces strawberry puree  (we used fresh strawberries and didn't puree them separately from the other ingredients in the blender)
1/2 cup crushed ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend at high speed until smooth. Pour into a sour, champagne, or cocktail glass. Garnish with slice of banana and strawberry if desired (we desired).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Friendly Summer Competition

Shane and I have started a little friendly competition for the summer. Do you ever feel like Memorial Day weekend is kind of like the New Years of the summer? As though I need to make resolutions starting Mem day which will go through Labor Day. I am not quite sure what my other summer goals are (lots of sunshine, drinks, bbqs and friends usually make the list), but one of them is to read read read. Shane and I have entered a friendly competition, kind of like in elementary school, to see who can read the most books during "summer break". Didn't we use to have a book log in elementary school? I loved summer break...

Rules were put in place and shook on last night (mostly because Shane told me he was going to start reading the Bernstein Bears as fast as he could). 

Rule 1: We are counting pages, not books.
Rule 2: Pages only count if you finish the book.
Rule 3: Pages only count if the book has more than 100 pages (if it's a collection of short stories, it still counts)(this rule has a little bit of flexibility as long as the other person agrees). 
Rule 4: The pages need to be tracked on a google doc for public knowledge.
Rule 5: The competition began last night and will go through the Monday of Labor Day, at midnight.

And the winner gets a massage (not from the other person) at a spa! 

I don't want to get cocky here, but I plan on kicking his ass. Here's what's up first for me:
I have attempted to read this book before but never succeeded, so here I go again. Did you like it if you have read it?

Shane's first book of the "summer"...
Shane is notorious for starting but never finishing books, hence the "you need to finish the book in order to count the pages". 

Wish me luck, but I don't really need it!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Growing up Memorial Day weekend meant opening of the shore season in Jersey. We never ever had nice weather (dramatic, sometimes we did. Update: the weather is supposed to be beautiful in Seaside this weekend, obviously.), and despite it being "a work weekend", meaning we had to clean everything in the house, outside the house, under the house, over the house (why am I being so dramatic this morning?), it was the beginning of the summer. It was the beginning of the ocean, the salty air, subs, ice cream, sand, sun and special times with friends and family.

Every year that I am not at the shore for Memorial Day weekend, I am sad and I get a little reminiscent like I am now, but we have made a new tradition of camping in the CO and I can say it comes in as a close second to the shore. I mean, that's not entirely true. Nothing really comes in as a "close second" to the shore (so freakin dramatic). We are heading west to the Black Canyon. I am really looking forward to it, especially because I get to see my brother and spend the weekend with friends and the dug!

What traditions do others have for Mem Day weekend? What are your favorite long weekend activities this time of year?

Happy Memorial Day weekend to everyone (and a special happy picnicking to my family and friends at the shore!)!

Ps, so many sales going on this weekend! I want to shop everywhere but will instead be hiding in the mountains.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Beautiful Weekend

Our weekend consisted of friends, family, delicious drinks, great food, and long walks. I did not capture photos of all or even most categories, but I did capture a few, and of course, the photos are of the desserts and drinks.
Taken by my phone

Friday Afternoon/Evening: Left work two hours early, rested on the balcony with a book and glass of wine; enjoyed beautiful cupcakes from my husband, after a bad day; went out for Marc's birthday; and ate more delicious, birthday cake.

Saturday: Brunched at Shells & Sauce (delicious; have you been there?) with Marc and Jill; went for the longest walk with the dog; made some life decisions; cooked dinner for Shane's family; and finished the night with the best strawberry banana daiquiris-made by Shane (and is officially our summer drink-details to come), friends and reggae music (We were drinking daiquiris. We can dream of warmer climates, right right?).

Sunday: learned at a Pottery Barn entertaining class with Carmen; brunched at Shane's grandma's new apartment; spent time in the Ranch with Shane's family; quick tripped to the mall; ate delicious leftover enchiladas accompanied by homemade margaritas; and embarked on another long walk, while people watching at the park.

Did you all have a good weekend? What did you do? Were you able to relax?

A view from our balcony as a storm rolls in over Denver

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bagels in Denvahtown

There are very specific things I miss about the East Coast. Friends and family, obviously. The Atlantic, Dunkin Donuts, to name a few. Another one is bagels. All of you on the east coast don't know how lucky you have it. Bagels at every turn. We don't have that luxury. Sure there is a chain or two, but come on, what do they know? 
Today, life in the west changed for me and Shane. We stumbled upon a hole in the wall, neon signed, Bagel store next to the Hobby Lobby, in a strip mall. Pure gold. Just a counter with baskets and baskets of homemade bagels along with some other pastry goodies. And they have been there 33 years. That is saying something in Denver.

We ate one on the way home. We couldn't wait. It was paradise. I am looking forward to an egg and cheese sandwich on a bagel tomorrow morning. Yes, please.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Camping Myths

Camping season is fast approaching us in the wild wild west. Some people are campers; some are not. But as a non-camper, you can no longer claim the lack of basic luxuries as an excuse not to go.

Let me blow up some myths for you:

1. You do not have to sleep alone on the ground. Instead, choose a queen sized air mattress with sheets and blankets, with your husband. Bring the dog a bed too!

2. You do not have to get yourself a big, heavy backpack. I bring my carry on luggage camping. Wheel it to the tent and wheel it back to the car.

3. Sleeping in a bitty tent (that fits in the unnecessary backpack). Instead, get yourself a 6-man (or bigger, I don't judge!) tent. It is irrelevant that you, the husband and the dog are the only ones in there. How else will you fit the queen sized air mattress?

4. Hot dogs on a stick are the meal choice for every meal. Shane knows the only way for me to spend more than one day camping (ok, there are a few ways to ensure it) is eating well. Pack your family sized cooler with all food (and wine) you find valuable at home, pick-up some used pots and pans, and there you have it, gourmet cooking around the campfire.

5. No showering for days. We picked up a solar shower that sits on the car roof to heat. It may not have four walls, but it is better than sitting in your own stink day after day.

6. If you are outdoors and camping, strenuous outdoor activities are a must, ie hiking. To each his own, but I don't hike when I camp. I might throw the softball, but that's about it. Otherwise you will find me with a book sunbathing, or visiting the local wineries.

The best part about camping though, and the reason, even with these "luxuries", that I will go camping, is the time with friends and the husband and dogs. Some might say I am a prissy camper (You're thinking it; I'm just voicing it.), but Shane is just excited that I am a camper. I hope these busted myths get you as amped as we are for camping season. 
Happy Camping Happy Campers!

*I sniped all of these photos. Thanks to Greg and Nate for actually documenting our trip.