The Saturday Report: a view, a non-profit, and an artist

I touched down after my trip to SF and have been pretty much go go go since then. I just wrapped up another weekend away for some family stuff, but in addition to the travel, I managed to squeeze in some fun stuff this week too!

VIEW It’s no surprise that there’s a lot going on in Denver right now. From a growing food scene, to new residential and commercial structures, there is a ton of development in the works. A nice combo of this is El Five, a new restaurant in the highlands. The fifth floor location in the highlands has absolutely stunning views of the city and the mountains. It’s the newest property from the Edible Beats group (think Linger, Root Down, Ophelia’s – some of my favorites in Denver), so the scene was fun and drinks tasty. The food was ok, I went in week 2 so I have full confidence that they will soon work out the kinks, but you have to go for the VIEW. Grab a drink, sit on the patio for sunset. The buildings reflect the sundown and downtown is quite the sight at night.

SUPPORT Comal Heritage Food Incubator. I went to a Slow Food Denver micro-grant dinner at Coperta (one of my favorite new spots), which was a lively, tasty and educational affair. The dinner was a chance to hear from three local non-profits, which were eligible for different levels of micro-grants. I voted for Comal and they won the biggest prize! Their mission reminds me a lot of La Cocina in San Francisco, and I can not wait to try it. It’s already on my New in June list. From their website: Comal Kitchen is a heritage food incubator in partnership with Focus Points, a non-profit that serves families in the Globeville and Elyira-Swansea neighborhoods. Its goal is to provide skills in culinary arts and business to a cohort of women- many originating from Mexico, El Salvador, and Peru- to maintain and celebrate their traditions through entrepreneurial ventures.

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Photo from Clyfford Still Museum

KNOW ABOUT Mark Bradford. I joined the Denver Art Museum’s young professional group last year after my trip to New York, and have loved the exhibit previews and curator walk throughs. I’m so disappointed that I didn’t make it to the Mark Bradford/Clyfford Still exhibit event, but I just didn’t know all I would be missing. The exhibit is STILL on my list, but I have been amazed at how timely it is, since he is representing The United States at the Venice Biennalle, which has driven some top coverage. He was featured on the cover of the New York Times Sunday Arts section, as well as the cover of the LA Time Design Magazine, which I saw this weekend. It’s just amazing to me how you can not know about something and as soon as you are aware it pops up everywhere. I can’t wait to check out the Denver exhibit. He’s also in Denver next week and speaking at the DAM.

 

The Saturday Report: SF, wine country and Joni

You guys, I just had the most epic weekend in San Francisco. This could easily become a post of just that, but I will indulge you with a couple of other highlights too!

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VISIT San Francisco. It’s still home. Still comfortable. And on this trip, the wooing was quite strong, a fogless and cloudless city were only the start of a wonderful weekend. I was able to see several friends and wine and dine myself through the city, which was just what I needed. A quick recap of my favorite stops: Pastries from b. patisserie; the patio (and brunch on it) at The Tipsy Pig; Kokkari an SF institution I feel like is often not talked about, but worth every bite; drinks at Trick Dog (LOVED this atmosphere); dinner at Tartine Manufactory, this has been on my radar for a while, very good food and an awesome space; Butter, not for the faint of heart, a dive bar at it’s best with bacon shots, jello shots, and usually a good DJ.

VISIT Sonoma. There are so many wine country towns it can be hard to choose, but Sonoma is always a winner. I especially love Healdsburg and the Dry Creek Valley, but it’s 1.5 hrs away, which can really make the day feel long. Shaving off the 30 min to get to Sonoma makes it approachable and not an all day venture. We did a tasting on the patio at Gundlach Bundshu and actually enjoyed all the wines. We went to Bartholomew Park Winery after to picnic, wine not so good, but property is gorgeous and you can bring your own food. One of my favorite surprises of the day was coming across the original Williams-Sonoma store. As a former employee of the company I was sad to hear that Chuck Williams passed away a few years ago (at over 100 years old!), but was happy to have stumbled across this location so quaint and full of character. The Sonoma town square is charming and worth a walk around, and the surrounding streets between wineries are covered in trees, lined with beautiful homes and make a delightful day out of the city.

 

CALIFORNIA ~ joni mitchell

LISTEN Being in San Francisco and back in the lovely state of California made me think of the Joni Mitchell song. My mom really likes Joni, so I am familiar with some of her music, and I have always loved this one. It speaks to me as a native California with an affinity for European travel. I had just been thinking about this song while sitting in my SF guest room, when I heard it floating through the window from another apartment – what a delight. Having close neighbors isn’t all bad.

 

EAT il Posto. As if my list of SF to do’s didn’t have enough restaurants, here’s another stop – il Posto in Denver. They have a new location in Rino, and having not been to the other, I quite enjoyed it. I had a pasta with crab, leeks and asparagus, which was awesome. If you have not tried the pasta/leek/fish combo before, it really is a must. The space is striking as well, with several booths in the middle that feel like personal little cubbies due to their high upholstered walls. Can’t wait to go back and explore the menu a little more.

 

Visit: Hawaii

There are few things greater than the luxury of time. I wrote a marketing paper in college analyzing Ralph Lauren’s print campaigns and how they feature ‘upper class’ sports, tennis and polo to name a couple, which are considered as such because the time it takes to complete these long games is not something everyone has. Only a select few can take hours away from job and other responsibilities for a game. It’s an interesting concept and one that I haven’t thought about for a while, but given my recent trip to Hawaii, I can’t help but think about what true luxury it is to be able to kick back and relax for a full seven days.

Growing up in California, the chance to vacation in Hawaii was a bit more common than in other parts of the US. I didn’t realize until I embarked on this adventure from Denver, that it is nearly as far as a trip to Europe, making it all the more special. I can’t remember the last real vacation I took, one where you don’t have to think that hard and really come back rested and relaxed, so this trip was much needed and very much appreciated. We had the very good fortune to stay that the amazing home of some family friends, which meant lots of pool time, sleeping in and showering outdoors! We had a nice mix of relaxing days and adventuring days, after which I came home sans bags under my eyes and a fresh tropical glow to my skin. I couldn’t have asked for a better spring rejuvenation.

Here are the things I would highly recommend:

  • Molokini Snorkel trip with Trilogy – Not only did we go to Molokini but we went to a sea turtle location, seriously one of the coolest experiences I have had. We were up close to some rocks and saw 4 or so of them floating along just under the surface, feeding when they got close enough. I don’t like swimming with fish in general, but the sea turtles are non-threatening, albeit huge, and were such a sight under water. Trilogy also provided breakfast, a hearty lunch and cocktails to enjoy while the sails were raised for the trip home!
  • Surfing Goat Dairy – We spent one day in Upcountry and made a few stops including the dairy, but it was my favorite. Baby goats are just SO DARN CUTE and we got to feed them!! The tour is worth it, you get tour the property, feed the babies, learn the process and taste some cheese! Other stops we made – Ali’i Kula Lavender farm is a gorgeous property and while MauiWine didn’t have my favorite wines a tasting there with lunch across the street at Ulupalakua Ranch Store is worth it.
  • Tin Roof – The restaurant of two time Top Chef alum Sheldon Simeon is great. A little hole in the wall in an industrial area has limited seating and is only open from 10-2, but is worth timing it just right. He offers a small variety of seafood over rice and a daily fish special, but the chicken is a house specialty and very very tasty. You can also get dashi in a cup to go that I wish I had tried!
  • Kihei Beaches – There are so many beaches, it’s hard to go wrong, but we found beaches in Kihei to be slightly less populated and less windy than others. Be sure to go early regardless to avoid crowds and winds.
  • Paia Fish Market – The original location is in the cute northern town of Paia (also the town with my favorite snow cone of the trip) but the one we went to was in Lahaina. A variety of fresh fish you can have prepared one of a few ways, all of our dishes were cooked well and very large portions.
  • Local Markets/Produce – We stumbled across a cute farmer’s market across the street from Launipoko beach on our last day (only open Saturday from 8-12). It only had four stands, but the variety was great, everything from fresh baked banana bread to eggs to fruit to freshly made juices. I saw a few road stands to buy produce across the island, but not all of the goods were locally sourced, where as all of the folks here were selling goods from their own backyards or kitchens, which tasted wonderful and felt great.
  • The River of Doubt – Not related to Maui specifically, but I have to give a plug for my current favorite non-fiction book. If you have not read The River of Doubt go out and pick it up now. You will not be disappointed. It is about Teddy Roosevelt’s trip down an uncharted river in the Amazon in 1914. He is a pretty remarkable person and this book that reads like a novel is filled with adventure, history and keeps you wondering about how it all turns out.

// view from the house //// back yard beauties //// a glorious sunset //// pool approach //// banyan tree details //// sunset from Lahaina //// sailing day – look up//// sailing day – look down //// mai thai on the boat / Paia snow cone //// Surfing Goat Dairy – the December kids //// upcountry roads //// Alii Kula Lavendar farm details //// Maui Wine //// Ulupalakua Ranch Store – local beef, elk and lamb burgers //// Paia Fish Market in Lahaina //// Tin Roof / garlic shrimp //// upcountry cow //// last beach day //// last sunset //// Launipoko Farmer’s Market //// local eggs //// fresh produce //

Visit: New York City

I recently told someone that I had a life altering experience in New York City last year. While that statement sounds dramatic, it’s also true.

I had the chance to visit New York for work last August and something just clicked. Anyone who visits there speaks of the vibrancy, life and energy that exudes from those city streets, and I am no exception. From the minute stepping off the plane at La Guardia (even with its run down state) I loved being bombarded with different languages and aesthetics and just the magnitude that is New York City. The anything goes mentality and organic diversity is so refreshing, being very different from the rather homogeneous city in which I currently reside. I went out a few days before the work meetings, stayed with friends in Brooklyn and proceeded to walk all over Manhattan. It was August and hot and sticky, but it didn’t matter I was in it to win it and experience it all.

I thought I had wanted to move there after college and yet when the time came, I didn’t feel the intense pull after graduation that I needed in order to really make the leap. I then considered it again after being in San Francisco for a few years. I had a couple of phone interviews, but again I held myself back and didn’t fully understand why I was considering such a drastic change. I realize now that more of it was not wanting to leave the comfort of home in the Bay Area, but now having already pulled myself out of it, the lure of the city during this most recent trip had new appeal.

I came back thinking “This is it, I have to move. I HAVE to be in NYC NOW”. I have one other intensely driving experience similar to this – I was living in Berkeley right after college, dating someone very nice, but not particularly interesting, and I had gone to San Francisco for a night on the town with friends. While waiting for a cab at the end of the night, I had an epiphany that THIS is what I need to be doing. I needed to be living more, in a city, surrounded by new experiences and a vibrancy that my life then didn’t have. Three months later I had broken up with the boyfriend and three months after that was living in Germany, for one of my greatest adventures of all time.

Sometimes you need a kick in the butt to get things rolling and I have found that listening to your intuitions can lead to great things. I did come back from New York thinking that I needed to be there, but after deep consideration (and looking at apartment size vs. cost on craigslist), I came to the realization that maybe I needed to start with changing my perspective on being in Denver. Obviously I’m not able to recreate the emotion that runs through New York and brings it to life, but I could seek out more museums, arts, restaurants and diversity in the town where I’ve already made personal investments, instead of packing up and starting all over again.

So that’s what I did. Over the past eight months (how is it eight already?!?) I have made a conscious effort to truly engage in my life here in Denver – joining the Denver Art Museum, taking German classes, seeking out local activities and instigating evenings out, striking up new friendships and further developing existing ones. So far it’s been great. I feel like things are coming together and am grateful to have had this realization about what it takes for me to be happy and fulfilled in my life and to further prove to myself that many times one’s happiness is a factor of one’s own making.

I was back in New York again in February, and it was wonderful. More comfortable, just as exhilarating. At the same time, I wasn’t dying to pack up my life and move there again. It’s not completely off the radar, but for the time being I’m happy to know it’s there, I can go play whenever I want, and the rest of the time I can attempt to lead a big city life in little city Denver.


No individual experience was ‘life altering’, but here are the adventures and excursions from the last two visit:

August

  • Brazilian brunch at Beco
  • Walk through the East Village, drink at McSorley’s, macaroon from Laduree, down through SOHO into downtown to visit the 911 memorial.
  • Lunch at Russ and Daughter’s Cafe
  • The Whitney – recently redone, a lovely space and experience with great views of the city
  • The Standard Beer Garden – quite the scene on a weekend, but weekdays are just right
  • Walk through Chelsea, continuing up along the Hudson river
  • A visit to Grand Central Station after many years, I had totally forgotten about the wonderful constellations on the ceiling
  • The Breslin – continuing my obsession with April Bloomfield, Scotch egg, lamb and halumi sausage and lamb burger not to be missed
  • Her bar Salvation Taco was also on my hotel’s rooftop, obviously I went

February:

  • Walk through Central Park on my way to brunch with a friend at Bar Boulud from the Upper East side where I was staying
  • Coffee and a pastry from Dean & Deluca on the way because New York City
  • MOMA followed by an accidental detour to Queens on the way back – I should have known a Saturday in winter would be busy at the MOMA. I ended up buying my ticket online while I was waiting in line and easily skipped 40 people as a result
  • Broadway show – I saw The Present with Cate Blanchett, wanting to experience a famous person in the flesh and a play that would not eventually be traveling
  • Momofuku Noodle Bar – late night dinner post play, so excited to finally try a David Chang restaurant
  • Pastries and The New York Times at home for a leisurly Sunday morning
  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge with a quick detour through picturesque DUMBO before ubering to Greenpoint for a Superbowl party
  • High Street on Hudson for dinner on my last night, I had heard a lot about it and read about the seaweed bucatini, which I just had to try

 

Photos in order:

  1. Grand Central Station
  2. Pathway under a Central Park Bridge
  3. Brooklyn Bridge
  4. Brooklyn Bridge
  5. Kate Spade New York office
  6. 911 Memorial / Chelsea
  7. Sunday Morning
  8. Salvation Taco rooftop bar
  9. Russ and Daughters Cafe
  10. Times Square for the Broadway show
  11. Perfect resting view at The Whitney
  12. MOMA – I was not the only one
  13. View from The Whitney / piece I liked from the museum
  14. Super Bowl Sunday flag football

 

New in June 2016

It’s always hard to believe that a year can pass in a blink of an eye. After 2015 ended, I felt like I had passed the time in a not really ‘me’ way – minimal travels, feeling like I didn’t do a ton in general… I was new to Denver and transition years are always tough. This past year; however, was much more on the mark, filled with many travels, fun house projects, growing friendships and so much more.

I also managed to do New in June for the 5th year in a row! It was my second year trying out new things in Denver and getting to know the city a little better. I still so enjoy this annual project – it’s a great motivator to get out there and reteach myself to not be complacent.

Especially in Denver, with my own home that I love spending time in, it’s become easy to accept a slower pace of life. June continues to be the one month that reignites a passion, which lingers throughout the year. I love my usual haunts, but am continually motivated to try the new dish/bar/walk/park/run/project.

As 2017 is getting started, it feels appropriate to post this, albeit 6 months late. With the new year is going to come a whole set of new adventures and opportunities that I can’t wait to embrace – looking back on all that I did last June brings even more promise for what 2017 can be.

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  1. Reformer pilates at the gym
  2. Walking the trails in Greenwood Village
  3. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
  4. Pool time at the gym
  5. City Park Farmers’ Market
  6. First summer food truck at work (and very tasty gyros)
  7. Playing on the work volleyball team
  8. First time using a SLEDGEHAMMER – part of the backyard remodel
  9. Ratio Beerworks
  10. Meeting Anna Schnelle!
  11. Summer Art Walk
  12. Roosevelt
  13. Mountain Ranch Bar & Grille at Coors Field
  14. Mell’s Cheese
  15. Laying sod! Last step in the backyard remodel
  16. The Way Back
  17. Bike to work day – 16 miles!
  18. Rhein Haus
  19. New breakfast sandwich from Backcountry Deli
  20. Los Chingones DTC
  21. Museum Outdoor Arts
  22. Walking all the way down Shoshone St.
  23. Union Station Farmers’ Market
  24. My first back yard party!
  25. Walking around Rocky Muntain Lake Park
  26. Driving home in intense hail and rain!
  27. Live music night at the Marina at Cherry Creek
  28. Upstairs Circus
  29. Sculpture exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens
  30. Hillstone Denver

Japan

My sister has been in Japan for the better part of a year now. It’s hard to believe. She left last August to teach English in a small town two hours outside of Tokyo and has been in Japan ever since. I was so excited to return to Japan, mostly to see Laura, but also to be able to experience this place again (this time with a fresher eye) and to truly savor my last days before returning to work.

We spent 3 nights in Osaka, 5 nights on Ishigaki – at the southernmost tip of the Japanese island chain, and then I spent 3 nights in Hiroshima. As you’ll see from the photos I was most taken with the cherry blossoms and the coastal scenes, which left me feeling recharged. Ishigaki was the highlight for me, as it’s on a similar latitude as Hawaii with the same tropical feel, not to mention the bed and breakfast where we stayed was absolutely charming. Hiroshima was a close second due to the proximity to the water, the manageable size and general nature of the city as well as its location next to the hills.

I am so grateful to have been able to visit Laura during her year abroad just like she did for me. I realize these are not experiences that everyone gets to have with a sibling and to understand this place a little better with her was priceless.

 

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Iceland

2015 was quite a different year for me: new city, new job, a serious relationship, no big travel, bought a house… pretty monumental in some ways, but totally not me in others. Now that spending on the house has settled down and I have more time for myself, I’m on a mission to make the things I love a priority again – read: travel more!

A good friend of mine with whom I’ve traveled quite a bit suggested a last minute trip to Iceland, which has been on my list for a while, so I said yes! We gathered one more friend to join us and with only a month’s notice we were off for a long weekend.

Iceland was a cool place and yet a little different than I expected. We did a lot of driving: checking out sites, making our way to an ice cave tour, wishing and hoping to see some northern lights… And while the time in the car was a little more than we’d anticipated, the landscape is breathtaking and truly other-worldly. More than once we commented that we felt like we were on Mars with snow, or that we were in some magical other land. It’s easy to see how there is a strong belief in elves and magical figures, with the vast openness and desolation, snow dancing over the road in the wind, and mountains that come straight out of the earth without warning. I’ve tried to capture these feelings in photos, but as usual, sometimes a photo just doesn’t get it. There are some videos though at the bottom, that capture quite a bit in mere seconds.

The only thing that was really lacking in my mind was more of a sense of Icelandic culture. EVERYONE speaks English, there are droves of American and British tourists, and while it does feel more like Europe than America does, it wasn’t all that different. Still hipsters with cool coffee shops and modern stores with rose gold household accouterments, but I suppose that’s the where the world is headed… With internet, social media, blogs, etc. everyone, no matter where they are in the world, has the same access to trends and ideas that spread like wildfire across countries far and wide.
All in all, I’d recommended it. I’d love to go back in the Summer, because seeing the country without snow, partaking in summer outdoor activities, and seeing endless daylight would be in stark contrast with the Iceland I experienced.

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