Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday Brewery Tour: Yuengling

Going to see family is the best way to spend the holidays....especially when a 150 year-old brewery is a short drive away.

This year, John and I traveled home to NJ to visit our east coast kin between Christmas Eve & NYE. Our trip has been fabulous - we've taken a drive up the shoreline to Asbury Park, had a fun night at an Irish Pub in Red Bank with my cousin, took a chilly stroll on the boardwalk and took an unbelievable trip to Pottsville, PA for a tour of America's oldest brewery: Yuengling
Built in 1829, Yuengling was in business long before prohibition....and refrigeration. Under the main building are creepy caves that were hollowed out by hand to lager the beer and assist in the fermentation process by keeping it cool. The tour includes a walk through the caves and a peak at what life was like many years ago.

Throughout the brewery are hand painted murals, gorgeous stained glass windows and a history of Yuengling signage and lables. The huge copper brew kettles, turn of the century kegs and fast-paced bottling room were an exciting sight for beer nerds and beer novices alike. 

At the end of the tour, we stepped into their tasting room to sample a few of our favorite Yuengling brews and took in their history in photographs, beer cans and bottle styles.

This tour is the best I've been on yet a must-see for all who love beer!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Favorite Christmas Movies

Christmas is my favorite time of year for several reasons; the touch of magic in the air, the smell of holiday baked treats, classic Christmas music and carols, and of course....Christmas Movies! 

My favorite list includes:

Christmas Vacation - "Clark, is your house on fire?"


Elf - "the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear"


How the Grinch Stole Christmas - "and the grinch with his grinch feet down deep in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? it came without boxes, it came without bags. it came without packages, ribbons or tags. he puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. then the grinch thought of something he hadn't before. maybe Christmas he though, doesn't come from a store. maybe Christmas....perhaps, means a little bit more"


White Christmas - "let's just say we'll do it for an old pal in the army."


Holiday Inn - "come out and relax on a farm, music, dancing, home cookng. open holidays only."


Take in each of these holiday classics over the next couple of weeks and you'll be all geared up for Christmas and full of holiday spirit!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Birthday Goals

Well, the 29th birthday is here. Four months have flown by and I haven't written many posts, but this year will bring more words and posts from me.....lucky blog readers. 

Also, in addition to blogging more often and along with my anxiety of wrapping up my 20's, I have long, long list of goals to accomplish before I turn 30! I'm reminded to use the SMART goals strategy to ensure I accomplish everything I want to do:


Well, happy birthday to me! Hope my last year in my 20's will be fun and productive! 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rock Concert Fall

RCPM - 11.7.09
My favorite band on earth is Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers. In November of this year, I saw them in concert for probably the 15th time. They have a 90's southwest rock and roll sound that literally shakes me to my core. I had invited some good friends along to experience their unique style, rowdy crowds and beautiful lyrics and had a very fun, very memorable evening!

The concert took place at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins, CO. They belted out their fan's favorites including Mekong (which is my favorite), Tow Chain, and Leaky Little Boat. I closed my eyes and swayed slowly with my spouse during Green & Dumb with disco ball lights twinkling around the room. I rushed the stage during the encore and sang along with every word!

Post-concert, in my usual groupie-fashion, I immediately ran out to the alley behind the Aggie where the band parks the bus. I smiled for photos and collected autographs from Roger Clyne himself as well as lead guitarist Jim Dalton. Always an incredible show, I can't wait until they come back in February at the Road 34 Bike Shop in Fort Collins. Tix are always cheap and everyone can dance and shoot tequila to an RCPM song, regardless of the type of music you like.

One of the best bands I have ever seen live is Social D. Mike Ness is truly one of the most talented singers/guitarists/song writers in the music industry today and since 1983 when the band was founded.

A southern California punk band, Social D. rocked the Aggie at Fort Collins, selling out the show in under 2 hours. Packed into the small theatre, surrounded by punk lovers new and old, Social D. played hours of favorite hits including Prison Bound, Mommy's Little Monster, Highway 101 and my favorite, the Story of my Life.

The only other time I've seen Social D. they were incredible, but the energy and excitement they created in the cramped little Aggie theatre took my concert experience far beyond most any I've ever attended. I hit up their website every few weeks to find out when they might be coming back our way!

Cracker - 9.1.09
A great band to see live is Cracker. Everyone knows Cracker from their top-hit, Low..."I'll be with you girl, like bein' low, Hey hey hey like bein stoned" but this band offers 17 years of alternative rock songs and just released their eighth album, Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey, in early 2009.

A Cracker concert is a special event in Fort Collins, CO due to Loveland-native, Johnny Hickman. As lead guitarist, Johnny puts on a incredible show in his home-area. Cracker fans are relaxed, they dance casually and sing-along to every word of the group's collection of great songs. Cracker usually stops by Fort Collins once a year or so, I'm looking forward to their next trip!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween Party Plan

My husband and I always love to throw parties....he does the cooking (cause I can't) and I do the planning! For Halloween, we decided to have a Cocktails & Costumes themed party! We decked out the house in fall leaves, spider webs, jack-o-lanterns and creepy candles. Stocked up the candy dish and stocked up the bar!

For our menu, we kept the main hors d'oeuvres simple and non-themed, however, the cocktails and desserts were definitely monster-bash approved! We offered guests an assortment of goodies including fondue with veggies, home-made tortilla rolls, a spicy cheese dip and crackers, chips & dip and lil' smokies.

For our fist drink, we concocted a bloody witches brew! In a cast-iron pot, we combine classic bloody mary ingredients with bright-green banana pepper slices and dry ice. The bubbly, red brew with green floating circles looked scary, but tasted great!

We also made a classic champagne fruit punch but placed ice frozen into the shape of hands inside the punch. The result looked as though a person was trapped in the punch and trying to push themselves out! Garnished with eyeball-stirrers and toe-tag glass identifiers, the drinks were about as creepy as they come!

The highlight of the evening were desserts that several of my girlfriends brought over. We had Appendage Cupcakes which were home-made brownies with tiny arms and legs sticking out, M&M cookies and incredible carrot cake shaped from candy corns and fondant to look like an actual Ear of Corn! It not only looked incredible, but tasted unbelievable!

With scary movies playing in the background, rock music filling up the speakers and beer pong in the garage, we had a great time with our guests including most of the cast of the Wizard of OZ, Greenskeeper Carl Spackler, a few SNL characters and classic costumes including a gunslinger and showgirl. Costumes & Cocktails was a super success!

Monday, October 12, 2009

East Meets West

An important fact about me is, I was born in New Jersey. At a very young age, my parents transplanted me to the mid-west and moved me around from Arizona to Wyoming and I eventually found my own way in Colorado. My family members have since dispersed, some staying in Wyoming and some moving back to where the majority of our clan is in New Jersey.

Recently, a group of fast-talking Jersey fam decided to take a trip out to visit CO and WY. For four days, the Front Range was taken over by the fabulous fashionista's of my east-coast kin. We kicked off the long weekend with lunch on Thursday at the Rio in downtown Fort Collins. Never a fan of the food, I guided my visitors their for one purpose: Margaritas. We imbibed mid-day on the tangy, sweet famous margs and snacked on their traditional mexican fare.

Post margaritas, we stopped at the excellent Starry Night cafe for a cup of joe and made our way to the shops of downtown FC. We spent most of the afternoon trying on sweaters, gushing over leather boots and chatting, chatting, chatting. We visited one of my favorite shops, Kansas City Kitty, where I purchased one of their amazing self-labeled sweaters. The store is a unique collection of fantastic brands, fun accessories and their own clothing label.

We then headed over to the famous New Belgium Brewery and took a tour of the facility while sampling the best of their microbrews. As always, their seasonal brew was delicious and unique offering the sharp tastes of extra hops! We stopped for another quick micro at Odell's Brewing Company and made our way up the scenic Highway 287 to Laramie, WY.

Once in Laramie, we made the rounds to all my favorite watering holes and eateries including 3rd Street - famous for great bartenders and very strong pours, Altitude's, Jeffrey's, Sweet Melissa's and the Buck. Friday morning came and went and before we knew it we were in Cheyenne, WY at Sanford's Grub & Pub with a group of about 40 people enjoying their hamburgers, ribs and for the non-meat-eaters, salads.

Saturday morning brought us up to Estes Park, CO where we drove to the top of the Continental Divide via Trail Ridge Road. Up there in the very thin, very cold air we took pictures of the glaciers and rocky landscape, looked for elk and took in the breath taking views only the Rocky Mountains can offer. We made our way back downtown to the village of Estes Park and enjoyed an incredible assortment of cheese, meats and wines at my favorite local restaurant, Cheese. Their eclectic assortment of cheeses and inexpensive yet delicious wine list make Cheese one of the must-visit places in Estes Park.

Saturday evening we all made our way back to Fort Collins and had a wonderful family dinner at Choice City Deli downtown. The menu, as always, was interesting and full of unique meats from Buffalo to Beef to Ostrich. My favorite item: Turkey Rueben!

The family headed out of town the next morning and caught flights back to the East Coast. It was a whirlwind couple of days with lots of yummy restaurants, gorgeous site seeing and great company!

Monday, September 28, 2009

SFC: Denver Art Museum

My fabulous friend, Jesse, had a brilliant idea that we've named the SFC, which means the Sunday Funday Club. Once a month, my closest gal pals get together for a Sunday afternoon activity that's a little outside our norm. It may be going to a museum, trying a new sport, taking a trip to a nearby town or attending a local event. We kicked off this great, soon-to-be tradition with a trip to the Denver Art Museum.

Enjoying a skinny vanilla latte, I sat in the backseat of Sheila's Passat in a green-and-white striped racerback jersey dress with black leggings, flats and a belted black cardigan sweater. Taking in the beautiful Colorado landscape, I stared out the window at the Colorado Rocky Mountains which jutted out of the earth, reaching to the clear blue sky with their dusted-white fingertips.

We arrived in Denver around 10:30am....and a note for future museum guests, the museum doesn't open until 12pm on Sunday's. With an hour and half to kill, we walked through the courtyard of Denver's Public Library looking for a snack and shooing pigeons (the rats of the sky). We came across a block with a couple of restaurants and viewed our options. On one side of the street, a green and yellow restaurant was bursting with families, a sign on the exterior promised of fresh baked donuts and the smell of coffee and brunch bounced along the breeze.

On the other side of the street, we took in an old mission-style building with a Brittish flag, red phone booth, wrap around front porch and not a soul in site but a very rugged, very muscular waiter. Intrigued, we took a closer look and discovered that it was not a breakfast restaurant, but a good ol' English pub, Pints Pub. Weighing our options....breakfast or beer....we chose the pub.

We enjoyed their home-brewed beers and a fabulous array of Brittish samplings. My plate included lox on a pumpernickel toast with tomatoes, onions and a wasabi mayonnaise. It was unbelievable! We took pictures in the phone book, talked about our waiter and enjoyed gabbing away with each other about life.

We made our way over the the museum a little after noon and found ourselves in a mecca of modern art. The museum building is a work of art in itself, with its surprising angles, modern titanium exterior and enormous courtyard sculptures. Inside, we found seven floors and eleven collections of art including African, American Indian, Oceanic, Modern & Contemporary, Pre-Columbian, Western, Asian, Textile, European & American and Architecture, Design & Graphics.

A little overwhelmed, we made our way through each collection noting pieces that were beautiful, inspiring, interesting, or...lets face it...just plain weird. An artist I am not, but spending the day surrounded by the creativity of individuals throughout time and all over the world awakened an inner desire to create something interesting of my own (someday...maybe).
Unfortunately, we weren't able to visit the 6th floor due to a exhibit in transition. The 6th floor held the Architecture, Design & Graphics and European & American Art collections, which are the two collections I'm most interested. Typical. However, the highlights of the Denver Art Museum included the Fox Games exhibit, the Buddist Art, the Design wing and the colorful painting and digital numbers in the foyer of Hamilton Building

All in all, I couldn't ask for a better day of friendship, food, beer and art! I will be back to visit the Denver Art Museum soon, to see the newest collections and take in the 6th floor!!

Look for an update about our October SFC....Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back Home....

Landing at the airport is so much more exciting when you see familiar faces awaiting your arrival with grins and hugs.....and champagne! After a long flight from Denver to the east coast, I was greeted by my mom and sister and A LOT of giggles for a quick weekend trip to NJ.

My whirlwind weekend included several fabulous restaurants: Mangiamo's in Toms River, Meg's Grill in Lavalette and Taka in Asbury...to name a few. I took a trip to the beach for seashell collecting with my mom and sister (see pic of Mom above), went to visit the Stone Pony in Asbury Park (where Bruce Springsteen got his start) and of course had lots of fun with cousins, aunts, and grandma.

While in Asbury Park, we stumbled upon an exciting and unique event, Yappy Hour at the Wonderbar!! Every Thursday and Saturday evening, the Wonderbar is open to man's best friend for a dog-friendly social event where the canines run leash-free! The pups enjoy some extra attention and adorn their newest doggie-garb while their owners sip cocktails and boast about Fido's latest accomplishments. It was truly one of the most fun activities I've ever enjoyed!

I left the trip exhausted, but couldn't be happier to have been with my family and on the east coast. On the flight back to Colorado, I thought about my life and family. Being with my mom and sister and seeing the ocean in Seaside always results in post-vacation personal reflection.

I am thankful for my family and cherish them deeply. I love the places I travel and the city I call home. I couldn't ask for a better husband, more fabulous friends or a more lovable dog and I thank God for giving them to me every day. I know this life is stressful and crazy, but reflecting on the wonderful, interesting people and beautiful places this world so unselfishly offers can calm my soul and ease unrest. It makes me happy to be alive and eager to enjoy what will come....which hopefully includes more Yappy Hours.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Seafood & Vineyards

We've just returned from a visit to our good friend, Matt, in San Francisco. It was an incredible trip, full of excellent food, gorgeous views, vineyards and A LOT of walking!

We arrived in San Fran on a Thursday aftenoon and went directly to Matt's neighborhood in Hayes Valley. Its a very up-and-coming, hip neighborhood whose high-end shops, trendy eateries and tight-knit community are sure to make it one of San Francisco's top neighborhoods. After dropping off luggage and grabbing a six-pack of local micro-brews, we hiked the hilly sidewalks to Delores Park, where we spent the afternoon admiring the camaraderie of hipsters, punks and dogs and soaking up the warm sunshine in a typically chilly San Francisco.

We soon found ourselves ready for dinner and were treated to an excellent sushi display at Domo, located in the heart of Hayes Valley. Top menu item: Firecracker Balls. We finished off the evening with a night cap at the Absinthe Brasserie & Bar.

The next morning we made our way up the coast of California, first crossing the Golden Gate bridge and then enjoying a scenic view of the country side to Napa Valley. Our first vineyard was Cakebread Cellars. A long time favorite of mine, Cakebread Cellars was everything I had hoped it would be and so very much more. Eager for the best of the best, we chose the reserve tasting room and enjoyed 5 tastings of the most sultry, complex and deeply satisfying wines I've ever enjoyed.

The afternoon brought a visit V.Sattui where we had an incredible cheese, bread and pasta lunch on the exquisitely landscaped property. We finished off the day with a tasting at Franciscan vineyards (another of my favorite wines) and headed into downtown Napa to check in to our hotel.

That evening, we ventured out on to Main Street and were surprised to find a free concert in a small park across the street from our dinner choice, Zulu. Zulu may very well be the best dinner I've ever enjoyed at the most reasonable price. Their tappas menu offers creative flavors, a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options and a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. Top menu item: Octopus over Fingerling Potatoes

Saturday morning, we ventured out to do more tastings. The highlights included Sterling Vineyards, with their beautiful tram to the top of the vineyard, Castillo de Amarosa...because well....its a castle, and Clos Pegase, whose obscure sculptures on on-site artist turned a tasting into a fantastic gallery visit.

Back in San Francisco, we enjoyed dinner at the famous Tadich Grill. Its crowded, traditional atmosphere, large menu, amazing serving staff and world famous seafood make it a must visit spot! Top Menu Item: Cioppino

Sunday we visited San Francisco top tourist locations including Fisherman's Warf, the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombardt Street and Alamo Square (the place with all the houses from the opening scenes of Full House...you know, you remember). It was day filled with cool breezes, clam chowder and crab, hill after hilly-hill and the great company of my husband and good friend, Matt.

Overall San Francisco was an incredible trip! I'd recommend Napa Valley to all wine-lovers and those who want to learn more about wine, Zulu to any person who enjoys food and Hayes Valley for a quaint, trendy and friendly part of San Francisco that you won't get to see on a tourist bus.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

28 is Great....

In four months I'll be turning 29....entering the last year of my twenties and inching my way closer to the unavoidable 30th birthday. I know its out there...looming out on the horizon, providing me a definitive time frame to do whatever it is one is supposed to do before the sun sets on my youthful playground and rises at..... Where does the sun come up on your 30th birthday?

I find myself wondering, at a place where I don't get carded at bars, but do get carded by 18-year old waitresses, am I really where I want to be in life? A marketing manager with my own home, happy husband, adorable pug and lots of friends....I'm certainly lucky and feel that hard work, a bit of determination, slightly neurotic tendencies and my one creative bone have landed me where I am today. But am I really where I'm supposed to be?
So I've spent sometime thinking about what it is that I enjoy in life...and what my purpose is.

Fitness, food, wine, beer, fashion, outdoors, art, dogs, travel and event planning pretty much sum me up. I admit, I'm not an expert (or even slightly knowledgeable) about any of the aforementioned topics but I find myself pouring over foodie articles about oysters and fois grois (even though I've been a partial-vegetarian for 8 years). I sign up for tastings at tap rooms and wineries...run a multi-thousand dollar art event and pet every dog I see. While I don't travel often, I find myself being asked to provide restaurant, hotel, venue and activity suggestions for those who do.... and often help plan a local event or wedding. I run triathalons and half-marathons and love to explore the Rocky Mountains. And like every other Jersey girl, I believe that deep down I really do have a flair for fashion.

So...I surround myself with the things I love....and I have decided that my calling in life is to share thoughts, words, secrets, ideas, things and smiles with those around me. This blog is my first step in sharing, in fulfilling my purpose. As I practice writing (Lord knows I need the practice) I hope to develop some level of understanding and deeper appreciation for all the topics I claim a level of interest in above. Before me is a map (clever...a navigation analogy to describe the journey of life...) and on my map, I hope to discover a path that leads me to a destination where in one year and four months, I wake up....at 30...and find myself exactly where I'm supposed to be.