Friday, September 22

My Fall Bucket List

Fall is my favorite season. When I was in high school, I used to say that Spring was my favorite - something pretentious having to do with "rebirth" or something. Although Fall is arguably the opposite of that (everything is literally dying), I've come to love everything about the season - the colors, the smells, the tastes, the comfort - and I couldn't be more excited about Fall in Denver this year!

So, what's on my fall bucket list?

  • Go apple picking -- I love apple picking, and I really missed it last year because I was so stressed and busy. I went picking every fall (multiple times) when I lived in New Hampshire, and I'm excited to find some orchards here in Colorado. Ya Ya Farm and Orchard looked especially good! I also anticipate going apple picking while we're in New Hampshire in early October. I will go a million times and be so so so happy. I'm also excited for apple cider and especially for apple cider donuts!
  • Go to a pumpkin patch -- It's not fall if you don't get a pumpkin, right? They're already out at Whole Foods, but I resisted getting one there because we're going to a real patch this fall! This one looked really promising. There's also a pumpkin festival happening from October 13-15!
  • Denver Oktoberfest -- It's this weekend and next, so I've gotta get a move on, here. I'm gone next weekend at a wedding, so it looks like I'll be stopping by this evening or tomorrow if I want to go. I've never been to an Oktoberfest before, and I would never say no to a German brat (not a euphemism, haha).
  • Bake -- If you know me at all, you know I love to cook and bake, though I'm much better at cooking. Baking requires precision, and I really like to improvise. Regardless, fall is the time for baking! Everything is spiced and has this amazing, warm depth to it; it's a time for eating earthy foods and wearing sweaters and drinking hot drinks. This fall, I really want to make mini apple pies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and bread. I've made all of the above before, albiet probably not very well. I make a mean mini apple pie (using pre-bought dough, of course), and I want to try to make a bread that's not foccacia. I have a really hard time baking with pumpkin, so now's as good a time as any to really spice up (ha) my baking repertoire!
  • Go ghost hunting -- I will be the first to tell you that I don't believe in ghosts. I see absolutely no reason, spiritual or scientific, as to how ghosts could or should exist. Does that stop me from being obsessed with every ghost show on the Travel Channel? Decidedly not. The Stanley Hotel (the one from "The Shining") is right next to Rocky Mountain National Park and has ghost tour nights for a pretty affordable price. J and I will find a way to go!
  • Go hiking-- As I said, J and I have done a pretty terrible job at exploring this beautiful state in which we live. I want this fall to be different - I want to go to Rocky Mountain National Park with J (I've been twice now and he's never been) and I really want to find a bunch of great trails to hike in the mountains. We loved hiking in New Hampshire, and although I'm afraid of heights, I really wish we made time to go hiking here... so let's make time!
  • Watch scary movies -- To be fair, we do this all the time anyway, but there's nothing like curling up with a hot drink and blankets to watch a scary movie! I'll have J start putting together his preferred list of movies since he has so many to choose from.
  • Make mulled wine -- I got J mulled wine spices last year when I visited Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He loves red wine and he really loves how mulled wine makes the whole apartment smell. They're pretty cheap to get, and it's such an indescribablly delicious smell when it's been bubbling over the stove for a few hours - spicey, rich, indulgent, and somehow really traditional, even though my family didn't drink it growing up. I feel the same way when I make chicken stock over the stove - it makes the whole apartment smell warm and homey.

Other things I'm excited to do?

What are you excited about for fall? Are you planning on doing any of the things on my bucket list? Which are you most excited about?


Thursday, September 14

Life Lately {vol. 63}

We're going all the way back to the end of July, when I was still in Des Moines! I avoided doing another "Life Lately" post because it feels like... nothing's happened? Or else, it's the same thing every day, which certainly isn't thrilling to read about, haha.

As much as I'm happy to be home in Denver again, I loved getting to spend so much time in Des Moines this summer. It's a truly wonderful and special city.

There was no way I was leaving DSM without going to HyVee at least once! For those of you not from the Midwest, HyVee is a grocery store that puts other stores to shame: great organic section, lots of healthy options, AND they carry my favorite totally-unhealthy chips!

After a wonderful morning at the Des Moines' farmer's market (where I had to carry Dash most of the time because he was so scared of the other dogs), I had a bit of an accident at home... I was sitting down on the couch when Dash jumped up right where I was trying to sit. In order to avoid sitting on him, I twisted my knee which hurt so bad! I had a legit sprain, so I tried to ice it and stay off it for the rest of my trip. Walking up stairs suuucked and I was a slower walker than usual, but otherwise it wasn't too bad.

Near the end of my trip, I had to drive to Indianola, Iowa - my college town - to pick up my parents from Ragbrai, a biking trip across Iowa. I took advantage of my time in town to stop by my favorite pace on earth: my sorority house!

Before I knew it, it was time to fly back to Denver. It was really bittersweet going back; I was so excited to see Jacob and the cats again, but I really struggled with going back to my reality - which, at the time, was barely employed and feeling insecure about my skills and abilities. Part of me wanted to stay in Des Moines forever, where I felt so comfortable and at-home. The other part of me knew that I needed to face my fears.

Thankfully, the airport had a pizza place that gave me a plastic bag that I filled with ice at the pop machine. My knee was still really bothering me, so I took advantage of my time before the flight to ice my knee and rest up.

I've been doing a terrible job reading this year, but I did manage to read (and finish) this book for my 12x12 project! It was really good - strange, but good.

This is my name now, by the way.

The week I got back into town, I got my first interview since looking for full-time work again! It was a great confidence-booster, and I loved getting to explore more of the beauty of downtown Denver.

I've been trying to spend more time outside. It's hard when I'm doing contracting work, because it often feels like I'm wasting time if I'm not working. Despite that, I try to remember how important it is to be in nature. It's not a waste of time to get out of the house - if anything, it's really important for my mental health!

I managed to get a haircut that weekend as well! I'm trying so hard to grow it out. It's getting to the point where I don't feel like it's a pixie anymore. I can put most of it in a ponytail now, which has really come in handy when I've been spending so much time at the gym. It's definitely at that "awkward" mid-way pixie point, but my stylist, Layla, has been doing an amazing job making me feel beautiful!

I stopped by my favorite coffee shop a few times for morning meetings! Weathervane also has some amazing oatmeal (served in mason jars) that I can't get enough of.

I have a classic banana bread recipe from my grandma, but I altered it a bit to add cranberries and walnuts! Ever since I made "Superhero Muffins" from Run Fast, Eat Slow, I've absolutely loved the combo! This banana bread may have been the best I've ever made. J was equally obsessed with it!

Influenster sent me two samples of Quaker Oat's new Overnight Oats! I've tried making overnight oats on my own before, but they never seemed to work out right - it was either mushy, or flavorless, or not "ready," so I was really excited to try their product.

Me and my best buddy. I love that I get snuggles the moment I get home, and I especially love how much James likes to snuggle as it gets colder out.

Iced coffee after a long day of work? Yes ma'am!

My favorite flavor of the Quaker Overnight Oats was the banana-blueberry flavor! It kind of tasted like blueberry muffin mix, which is my guilty pleasure. Yum! It was definitely sweeter than I was used to - I typically make my oatmeal with just a little bit of brown sugar or syrup, and this was *almost* cloyingly sweet in comparison. I'm also not huge into sweets anyway, so if you are, this will probably be just right for you. I still have a coupon, so I'll probably stop by the grocery store and pick up this flavor again.

I recently started a half marathon training plan! As of today, I'm on week  4, but at this point, I had my first 2 mile run. I really only have two pairs of running leggings that fit perfectly. It feels like the rest of them like to slip down while I'm running, so I'm constantly pulling my pants back up and it's really distracting on a run; so I've been alternating between the two, and I'm sure someone from the gym has noticed by now, haha.

When I work from home, James sticks by my side all day. It's so precious, and occasionally hilarious when he makes weird faces like this.

I went to my friend Kaitlin's house for dinner the other night and I was really feeling my outfit. It was simple, relaxed, colorful, and totally me. I also got these slip-on shoes from H&M recently. I was looking back at photos from London, when I bought these cheap white knock-off Keds. I saw these on sale at H&M and couldn't resist - they're not Keds, but they look similar enough that the vibe works.

I was having a stressful night a few weeks back, so I went on an evening walk. As I walked across this bridge, I saw this on the side. It seemed like fate - exactly what I needed to "hear."

Can you spot the heron? I love living so close to a river!

I saw my first wild cactus on the trail near our apartment!

My bestie, Hannah, does some amazing poetry with fridge magnets. I've started making my own poems, inspired by her.

I had my first 3-mile run during my half marathon training! I was so nervous - I hadn't run 3 miles at one time since 2013, but it turned out great. Hard, but great.

J and I were supposed to go to a show in RINO, but there was a mix-up with our tickets. J was super disappointed, but I just loved getting out of the apartment and exploring a new area, even if the reason didn't work out.

A few Sundays back, I went on a massive walk around Wash Park with my friend Kaitlin and her dog. We ended up walking 6-7 miles in total!

I was picking up J the other night when I saw this next to me on the road. Creepy, right?!

Our friends Jake and Sady got married about two weeks ago in Evergreen. It was raining right before the ceremony, which resulted in a double rainbow right next to the lake - it was too perfect!

My handsome date!

Me being a goofball and moved by love. You know, the usual.

I had my first 4-mile run last week. It was the hardest run I've done so far, for a variety of reasons - I hadn't taken any pre-workout, my breathing was off, and I just wasn't feeling the run... but I did it! I was so proud of myself for struggling through it.

J and I made up a drinking game last week called the Michael FassBENDER, aka, "Fassbendernacht." Rules: You watch a movie where Michael Fassbender is a supporting actor, and drink every time he comes on screen. I lasted through "300," then had to switch to water...

I love my little family!

I love the morning light in our apartment. We're right next to a birch tree, and the sun streaming through the leaves in the morning is just magical.

My funny kid.

Ready to go on another run (WITH PUMPKIN COFFEE)! After trying to save money by making larger pots with our Keurig (and reusable filters with ground coffee), I finally gave in and bought more K-Cups online. I love flavored coffee and J hates it, so I ordered him Caribou Coffee's "Daybreak," and Green Mountain's "Pumpkin Spice" for me.

Two+ interviews in one week is exhausting, but I was really feeling my outfit!

When I first started my half maraton training plan, I asked J if my runs would ever get easier. He told me that running is just hard. There will be good days and bad days, but running itself is just a hard thing, and the trick is just learning how to deal with that difficulty. Well, most of my runs have been hard (surprise, surprise), but I finally had one that felt easy! I did 2 miles the other day, and everything just worked - I ran at a good pace, my breathing was slow and controlled, my mind was focused on other things, and before I knew it, the run was over!


I was absolutely terrified for my 5-mile run on Saturday. You can see it in my eyes, right?! Well, it went pretty great, all things considering! It was so much easier than my 4-mile run the week before. I broke it down into smaller parts: "Ok, just run 2 miles. You know you can do that! Okay, run another mile. Awesome! ONLY TWO MILES LEFT, YOU DO THAT ALL THE TIME, YOU CAN DO THIS!"

Our cute little place! I bought more leaves at Trader Joes, and I love how much character they give a room.

Leif exists, I swear! He's such a little ham.

Have you ever trained for a race? Do you have any advice? Would you play Fassbender Nacht?