Reconnecting In Monument 

Basking in the morning sun with glimpses of the Colorado mountain from the patio, I’m sorry to see the weekend nearing its end. Do you have a group of friends, that no matter the distance or how long apart it’s been, that once you are together it’s like no time has passed? I’m so blessed to have this in my life.  These ladies remind me who I truly am.  And that’s worth more than gold. 

This weekend was no exception. Our phenomenal hosts made the weekend even better than ever.  Thank you, M and J,  for opening your home and hearts! These flashes of reconnection are far too short. But, boy, do we know how to pack a lot of unadulterated adventure into a very short amount of time. 

Let me start by telling you a little bit about Monument, Colorado which sits a little over an hour from the airport. Monument is north of Colorado Springs and the United States Air Force Academy, and east of the Rampart Range, which is the eastern front range of the Rocky Mountains. It began as a settlement along the Rio Grande Railroad in 1872 and just happens to be a few miles from where J grew up, left, and returned a few years ago bringing M with him. A perfect spot for a Girlfriends reunion! 

Reunited and I’m So Excited 

Friday morning arrived with three of us arriving at the Denver airport. If you havent been to the Denver airport be aware that it sits out in the middle of nowhere and takes a bit to go wherever your going. The good news is that there are shuttles, for a fee, which will take you where you want to go. Just reserve one in advance and try to be on time. We missed the 10am shuttle by nine minutes. That just meant we had a few hours to kill over Bloody Mary’s at the Red Rock. 

Tip: If you are running a few minutes late call the shuttle service. They will often wait if you are running a few minutes late. Any more than that I highly recommend the Bloody Mary’s. 

After M picked us up from the Park and Ride we headed to her home to await the last member joining our party later. I know I mentioned how hard it is for everyone to get together before, and this time was no exception. Not everyone could manage the trip (you know who you are) and the group was a little smaller than in the past. But everyone was there in spirit… and a few of their stories as well. 

When B arrived, we kicked off the weekend gathering around the patio table to catch up. It was a beautiful Colorado evening made better by pizza, adult beverages and lots of smack talking over past adventures of which I’m sworn to secrecy. 

Local Farmer’s Market

The local Farmer’s Market called to us as we lingered over coffee and pastries, that J had graciously ran out to get, just for the ovarian vortex that had descended upon his quiet home with gads of giggles and  estrogen. M is so lucky to have him. 

If you get to Monument go to the Farmer’s Market. From fresh produce, local honey to fancy, long lasting lipstick you can find it here. 


Across the street from the Market is an eclectic shoppers paradise of shabby chic meet Colorado hip decor and wearables. For the shopper’s wingman there are comfortable rocking chairs beneath a shaded back porch.   Take advantage of those rockers, relaxing in the cool shadows. 

From there we headed to Bella Casa just around the corner. On a mission,  we all picked up a seasoning mix for yummy coated crackers that we had been snacking on since we had arrived. I’m going to call this mix crack-cracker-mix. Just saying it’s beyond delicious and you will want to grab lots of this mix to make at home. 


If I had a way of packing more home with me I could have done serious damage to my pocket book here.  Every nook seemed to hold something my heart desired. I’m addicted to housewheres and this little shop did not disappoint my addiction. 

Palmer Lake 

Palmer Lake sits a few miles from Monument. It’s J’s  home town plus it’s home to the worlds best ice cream at the Rock House.  Did someone say lunch!?! 

We piled out of the SUV and headed into The Rock House.  This small business hosts a case full of ice cream in an assortment of flavors, all especially made for the Rock  House, as well as some favorite lunch specials. Stop in, grab a BLT and indulge in a chocolate waffle cone with your favorite flavor of ice cream. Afterwards take a minute to find a trinket from the curio ship in back made by local artists. 

For those visiting the Tri-Lake area swing by Palmer Lake. It’s worth the stop. Visitors can enjoy a coffee, bakery, antique shopping, boutiques, and art galleries… and don’t forget the ice cream! Take a drive along Lovers Lane and if you have time get out for a hike. 

Celebration

Unbeknownst to me, my girlfriends surprised me with a birthday dinner. Not just any birthday, but the BIG 50.  Happy early Birthday to me! 

Dressed, and ready for cocktails, we headed to the Bistro on 2nd in Monument. This little Bistro has an amazing fresh take on fine dining in an upbeat, fun atmosphere. Thank goodness for that because we aren’t exactly prim and proper – quite the opposite. And the staff was ready to take us on, all good natured fun. 


From cocktails, appetizers, dinner to dessert the service was impeccable. Taylor took our high spirits in stride and played along while delivering impeccable service. 


I can’t speak highly enough of the service. And the menu is amazing! I think I could take a bath in the chocolate mousse. 


Not eager to call the evening over after dinner, we took the party outside to  the fire pit. Rick Velliquette, owner/operator/host-extraordinaire, made us right at home with a kick-ass platter filled with all the fixings for s’mores. I even indulged in a snow cone lemon drop martini – you have to try it! It was a beautiful evening, filled with good natured  fun, a few new misadventures shared, and discovering a fantastic Bistro in Monument. Too bad it’s so far away from Houston. 


Wow – what a fantastic birthday celebration – one I won’t foget. Thank you, Ladies, for loving  me and sharing my big milestone. It was a blast. 

Back to Houston

Before heading in different directions we talked about the next potential reunion. Vegas, baby! Can you feel it? I think I’ll bring my boots. 

Cheers!

❤️

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Flower 🌺 Power

“A flower does not bloom for itself, but for the world; do likewise.”
– Matshona Dhliwayo


Happy Monday, Friends!

On Sunday’s, I’ve developed a little HAPPINESS habit, I drive to Trader Joe’s and buy myself flowers (they have an awesome assortment). This week I selected a bouquet 💐 of beautiful pink and white roses. 

I place the bouquet next to my bedside lamp, letting their soft fragrance lift my spirits in the sterile hotel room that has been my home for 6 weeks now. 

What makes you happy?

Cheers!

❤️

By the way, go check out Cees Showcase of Photography for more inspiration! 

Chicken & Waffles and Catching Feelings

Day 3

Canyon Ranch Spa

Saturday morning began with a trip to the spa. I had a pedicure planned and my girlfriends were planning to get day passes. Stepping into Canyon Ranch Spa at the Venetian is like stepping into a little slice of heaven. The amenities offered continues to draw me to Vegas and a day pass is a fantastic value for everything it provides.

Tip: A day pass is $50 which includes full use of the spa ALL DAY!

I’m torn between which room is my favorite but I tend to return to the herbal room, the salt room and doze in the water room. C. adores the sauna and jacuzzi. I have spent many hours relaxing here nibbling on complimentary healthy snacks and drinking Spa water to ensure ample hydration after evening outs on the Strip.

If fruit and light beverages aren’t enough, check out the cafe for heartier options – including adult beverages.

This is a clothing optional facility and cell phones are frowned upon. Lock it up. Turn off the outside. Let the gentle zen atmosphere melt the stress away.

Brunch @ Bouchon Bistro

Tucked on the 10th floor is Bouchon, a Thomas Kellar, restaurant. The weekend menu features chicken and waffles – big enough to share. Actually, even though C and I shared, we still had left overs! This meal is one I return to whenever I get a chance. The baked chicken is savory and moist. The herb waffles are light as air yet crispy. Add the syrup and gravy and it’s a meal to dream of.

Tip: Chicken and Waffles are only served on the weekend.

We left the Bistro filled with goodness but it called for a walk to work off the indulgent meal. The afternoon slipped away quickly as we meandered our way down the strip to watch the water show at the Bellagio before heading back to the Venetian to pick up C’s car.

C and A were driving back to L.A. And our walk had already put them behind. With hugs and a bit of a heavy heart I said goodbye. Our weekend was fading into another memory.

Saturday Night Solo

What’s a girl to do Saturday night in Vegas all alone?

My original plan was to go see Willie Nelson. It was the last night he was playing. But I dawdled and it sold out before I had a chance to buy a ticket.

Tip: Plan ahead and buy show tickets early, especially if they happen to be Willie Nelson!

Deciding to keep things low key, I forgo dressing up (a sin I’m sure for some but it was just me). With a touch of lip gloss, I tossed on a pair of  leggings, my green Lucky  brand t-shirt and headed downstairs in search of a salad. I figured after staying out till early morning Friday night I’d grab a salad and head upstairs to pack and get to bed early.

Silly rabbit. The universe had other plans in store for me.

After enjoying a salad at the Steak House (yes, I know) I wandered the casino floor. A had given me a .49 voucher to play and I figured I should find a machine to feed. My ears perked up. I heard music.

Before I knew it I forgot all about playing the slots and let the sound of music magnetically pull me into Gilley’s. An empty stool, perfectly placed in a corner, appeared at the crowded bar as if waiting for me.

Alrighty then.

I reasoned one drink couldn’t hurt.

I kicked back and watched the dancers spin on the floor. I accepted a dance. Refused a dance. I hadn’t planned on dancing. I wasn’t dressed up, the opposite in fact. In my gold flats with my cross body bag swinging on my hip made for awkward dancing and I wasn’t comfortable leaving my bag alone on the bar. This is a crazy town and I’m kind of partial to my pink lip gloss.

And there I was,  when it was time to go, and then they walked in.

A group of six boisterous guys, fit, and very tall pulled up next me ordering a round of drinks. I’m only five foot nothing and I felt like I had been surrounded by a group of friendly giants – cute, but still giants.

I watched them now since I couldn’t see the dance floor through their backsides. One guy, heart melting smile, almost landed on my lap, he moved quickly away and apologized. Another lanky guy smiled, said hi, towering over me. What’s a short girl to do with a friendly giant? She invites him to sit down. “Please sit,” I almost pleaded, as the sky high beautiful men were making me dizzy from looking up at them.

Tip: Casual look, messy hair and lip gloss seemed to be a hit with the guys. It’s called being yourself. Big hit. 

He sat.

HELLLOOOO, R.

They ended up being a group of guys from Ohio. R introduced me to his 21 year old nephew who was celebrating his birthday. Ladies, this kid is adorable and so sweet. Yes, he’s technically a man, but when you are younger than my kids my brain has a hard time seeing anything else but an over grown child.

Anyway, I’m off on another tangent. Let’s get back to R. We talked. We laughed. R asked me to go with them to Senior Frogs. Again, what’s a girl to do? I went.

I followed a parade of gorgeous guys with R behind me, out one door, around the casino floor and into Senior Frogs. We never left TI but it felt like we had been transported to Mexico during spring Break. The night club music was pumping and young D came alive. R explained this was more his nephew’s speed. Plus his nephew had caught a glimpse of a pretty girl. That will do it every time!

Over water and a few dances R and I connected. The guys were mingling but always seemed to be keeping tabs on young D. I pulled R outside of Senior Frog and found a seat on the casino floor just before a fight broke out.

R congratulates me for leaving when we did.

Tip: Vegas, after midnight, and booze means it’s always time to go.

D weaves his way towards us minus the girl. He needs food and sleep. Stifling a yawn myself, I suggest the Coffee Shop across the casino.

D devours chicken wings. His uncle teases him about “catching feelings” for the girl in line. He vehemently denies it. Have I mentioned how adorable this kid is?

R gets up to pay the check. D leans over the table and tries to whisper but it comes out a bit loud and slurred that R is a great guy…a really good guy…

I nod, my eyes going to R, taking in his tall, lanky form, tattoos painted along his arms. His blue eyes crinkle in a smile catching me looking.  Yeah, I agree, he’s a good guy.

It’s time to say goodnight.

R walks me to the elevator. It’s 3:30 in the morning. I still have to pack.

We say goodnight and he takes the kid back to their hotel.

It’s always the unexpected adventures that are the best.

“You made me catch feelings.” I read the text over again. I smile.

Vegas, Baby… until the next time!

Cheers!

Previous Post Day 2 and Day 1

Cee’s Photo Challenge: Share Your World – January 30,2017

Cee’s Photo Challenge: Share Your World
Here is the basic format.
I will ask you: 
To answer fours questions each week. Bonus Question is always the same “What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?” Because we all need to be reminded that there are many things in our lives to be grateful about.  

Let’s get started (I’m so excited!):

What  is the most incredible natural venue that you’ve ever seen in person?

I have been blessed to have traveled and seen so many places. I know, living in Alaska, a living  post card, you might think I would share sights of the Last Frontier. But, no, I am going to share with you a place I discovered on a pilgrimage in the South of France. The Saint-Baume Grotto, thought to be the home of Mary Magdalene during her last years, sits high upon a hill by Marseille.

The pilgrimage begins  at the edge of an old woods with and a tree guiding the way. It was my marker to point me in the right direction as I headed up.

There are two paths up; the left or the right…either will take you to the Holy Cave. But the request is for silence and contemplation as you make your way up. Don’t forget to stop for a sip of holy water at the edge of the trail.

I arrived at the top just in time for Mass. I slipped into a pew just as the doors closed behind me and the priest began the service – all in french. If you get the opportunity stay for Mass – take the time, close your eyes and let the spirit fill you. I felt the spirit of the divine move through the few of us there and its a memory forever in my heart.

How many siblings do you have? What’s your birth order?

I have 3 brothers; one older brother and two who are younger, the youngest brother and I are twelve years apart.

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If you were a shoe, what kind would you be and why?

BOOTS! I’ve never met a boot that I haven’t liked. There just something about them that makes me happy…so much so that my girlfriends began calling me Boots years ago. We should all have girlfriends that love you unconditionally and I am soooo extremely lucky to have some of the best friends in the whole world. Did I mention a pair of Sorels are stocking me? Yep…everywhere I go online there they are just pleading for me to bring them home. But I’m ignoring them as best I can…I can do it… I can do it….but they are soooo CUTE.

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What is the strangest/weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

Since I have a pretty sensitive pallet I must admit that I don’t typically stray from tried and true cuisines. I know…just my adventurous side kind of turns into a  weenie when it comes to venturing out when it comes to food. I did dip my finger into the buttery, garlicy sauce that escargot sat in…that must count. No? well…darn.
Optional Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful for taking the plunge into blogging. I’m opening up to the unknown and I’m enjoying the creative outlet. And I am sooo looking forward to prepping for my trip to Vegas. Its just around the corner and I cant wait to share it with you.

Cheers!

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone & Those Really, Really, REALLY Cute Boots. 

Stepping out of your comfort zone can be, well, uncomfortable.

That’s just the nature of growth or so that’s the way it goes for me.

Thank goodness not all growth is that uncomfortable cuz this girl might need some retail therapy and my closet cannot house another pair of boots. Even though I saw a beautiful pair of Sorel’s calling my name on the Nordstrom website and pictures of it continue to follow me from website to website teasing me, begging me to bring them home. Anyone else experience boots haunting them online? Yeah – welcome to my world. I might need a 12-step-self-help program.

Back to topic…where was I? Oh, yeah – Mindfulness. Or at least I was getting there.

In some ways, it’s an overused word that causes some eye rolling. Just me? Ok, moving on. Now add a genuine smile and some humor to mindfulness and you have my attention. Laughter is good for the soul. And that’s what this is all about, right? Being present to enjoy this big ball of blue we happen to live on.

AnyHOO, part of my growth is discovering new teachers to get my butt moving towards mindfulness (or is that slowing down?). What have I learned? Teachers come in all forms and walks of life! Sooo – no epiphany there. What is amazing is that those teachers sometimes show up just when you need them most. Kind of like an Oprah Winfrey’s aha moment.
I’ll share a few with you who I’ve been virtually introduced to:

  • Tara Brach, Ph.D, author, physiologist, teacher of meditation and kick-ass-spiritual-awakener (my words) who soothingly threads motivational messages with science and humor. A girlfriend sent me a text to listen to her podcast. I’m so glad I did. One message I jotted down on my bright green sticky pad is “hate is too great of a burden to bare…Turn towards love.” Just wow. Listen to her message.
  •  Baron Vaughn, Comedian – Funny, funny interview on “The Hilarious World of Depression”, a podcast I stumbled on because, full confession, I’m a NPR geek. With ear buds on in the cube farm I work at, I listened to the interview with Baron quietly chuckling along to the cheerios diet (not recommended), how to apply imagination to anxiety and sound bites of his album “Raised by Cable”. Seriously – great escape from the grind as well as great for the mind to digest a not so funny subject. Listen to it.
  • Davidj, author, stress management expert and an all around amazing meditation guide. I discovered his meditations years ago during a painful breakup or what I like to refer to as a gawd-aweful-growth-period. It was my first step into meditation. And I find myself returning to his meditations when I need to find center. Take a listen.
  • The checkout clerk at my local grocery store who looked me in the eye, genuinely smiled and gave me the space to respond – with a smile. Have you ever noticed it’s pretty hard not to smile when someone genuinely smiles at you? Try it…and let me know what you learn. I don’t have a link to share with you for this one. But I’m betting that you have someone similar in your life if you look close. But turn it around and be the one to share a smile with the next person you see. We can all be teachers too.

This type A lady has gads of work to do in slowing down and focusing on the important things in her life. If you have any teachers you’d like to recommend I’m all ears. Please share them with me in the comments. Namaste.

And as always, Cheers!

💕

Cee’s Photo Challenge: Share Your World

Cee’s Photo Challenge: Share Your World

This week’s Challenge and rules:

To answer fours questions each week.
Bonus Question is always the same “What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?” Because we all need to be reminded that there are many things in our lives to be grateful about.

  1. Do  you prefer juice or fruit?
  2. Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it?
  3. If you were to paint a picture of your childhood, what colors would you use?
  4. Ways to Relax List: Make a list of what relaxes you and helps you feel calm.

Hands down I love fresh fruit. It’s natures treat. Even here in Anchorage I tend to keep fruit and berries on hand for indulgent weekend brunch.

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As I child I moved around quite a bit. It wasn’t until I moved to Anchorage as a young wife in my early twenties that I settled into a place I would call home. I’ve been here for almost 25 years!

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Let’s paint childhood with all the colors in the crayon box! Each color carefully explored across all mediums… including unexpected masterpieces drawn on walls with a child’s hand.

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Ways to Relax

  1. Bubble baths and candlelight
  2. A good read
  3. Baking feel-good-yummies with my grand daughter
  4. Spending time in the sun
  5. Laughing
  6. A cup of tea
  7. Some quiet time and just breathe

Bonus Question:

I’m grateful that the snow has stopped, daylight grows each day and that I’m so very blessed with family and friends. I’m looking forward to the upcoming week; I’m off to Vegas for a long weekend! Can’t wait!

Cheers!

💕

 

Iconic Sights and Sounds of New York City

Get lost in the City with the iconic sights and sounds of New York City.


Cheers!

💕

All Pictures by C. Lagunas and A. Carter