Summer Goals

On March 5, I had the painful discovery that I was human. I fell and sprained my knee….playing dodgeball.
I was pretty lucky that my injury wasn’t worse. But it did require me to do a few weeks of PT. My PT guy asked me what my rehab goals were, and at the top of the list was hiking. It’s my favorite thing to do when we camp, it’s my favorite summer activity.

So three months later, I was finally able to get on a trail. I picked a short moderate hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. I even brought a hiking buddy. Turns out hiking is his favorite summer activity too.

Trail Marker

Trail Marker

Blue Grouse trail is a .7 mile hike, one way. Elevation gain is only 700 ft, so I knew it would be a good start point to returning to hiking. And it was. No knee pain.

It was great to be back outdoors. With two camp trips in July, I know I’ll be able to tackle more of the trails at GGCSP. Here’s some pics I took on the hike:

My hiking buddy

My hiking buddy

Blue Grouse Trail

Blue Grouse Trail

Hiking views

Hiking views

A National Parks Adventure

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I was lucky enough to be invited to preview the new IMAX movie, National Parks Adventure, now playing at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

My family loves to be outdoors, and camping is a staple of our summer plans. I knew going in I would enjoy the movie. It ignites a desire to get out and explore the 400+ parks and historic sites.

If you didn’t already know about how National Parks became a reality in the U.S., this movie will catch you up. Everyone will enjoy the beauty of the landscapes, the playful wildlife, the adventures the characters partake in, and the wonderful soundtrack.

I’m excited that the coming school year sees my youngest entering 4th grade, which means we’ll be able to get a free National Parks pass. Just visit www.everykidinapark.gov after September 1st. If your 4th grader didn’t partake this year, you still have time to get a pass, but it will expire on August 31. All info is on the site. Why not take advantage of visiting a new destination? Or take your family someplace you spent time in your youth.

I look forward to posting pictures of our National Parks adventures- share yours online with the hashtag #findyourpark

Looking Back At 2013

Yeah, it’s been quiet in here. I’ll work on that. I’ve spent some of 2013 strengthening my relationships, and forgiving those who have hurt me. Letting go of having everyone like me was a good step forward too. But this year was a really good year for me.

Here are the highlights from 2013.

 

Hoping 2014 is amazing for my family- and yours!

D.C. Eats: Graffiato

My friends and long time readers know I’m a big Top Chef fan. On my last visit to D.C., I was sadden that I wasn’t able to see Mike Isabella at Zaytina, because he had left to open his new restaurant. In Fall 2011, Graffiato opened in Chinatown. I knew it would be on my Must-Dine list for my next trip to D.C.


Image courtesy of Graffiato’s website
Because of Mike Isabella’s popularity from his 2nd place finish on Top Chef All-Stars, I booked my reservations early. Graffiato has an energetic vibe, and Kelly & I loved the rock and roll music playing while we entered. We were taken upstairs, where the main dining area is.

Kelly persuaded me for us to partake in the Chef’s Tasting, a sample of some of the best dishes. As our waiter Jarrad said, it’s the stuff they are really proud of. I was nervous, since I do not eat seafood, but Jarrad was accommodating, saying, no one has ever been disappointed. The table behind us also ordered it, and as Jarrad had told us, not everyone will get the same dishes.

Our first course featured flatbread with pepperoni sauce. This sauce got so much attention when Mike cooked it in the finale, and was the one thing I really wanted to taste. Oh. My. It was everything I had hoped it would be. I wish I could have bought a bottle of it to take home! Also in the first course was broccolini with feta, walnuts and pepper relish, burrata (like mozzarella) with pearl onions, and a ham plate, with speck, smoked ham and bresole, drizzled in olive oil and honey. It was all divine. I could have stopped there and been happy.

Flatbread With Pepperoni Sauce

Broccolini, Burrata

Smoked Meat Platter

Our second course was roasted cauliflower with pecorino and mint and lobster risotto. I had let Jarrad know that I would be willing to try the risotto, which I did. I did not care for it, but Kelly loved it. Along with the cauliflower, it was the only leftovers we took home. Jarrad felt bad I didn’t respond well to the risotto and wanted to know what I really wanted to eat- he’d bring that out. Kelly told him I’m a meat gal, so he promised to bring that out next.

Cauliflower and lobster risotto

The third course offered hand cut spaghetti, wild boar, pork belly, and crispy brussel sprouts. I dare anyone to eat those brussel sprouts and not become a fan. We already liked brussel sprouts, but Graffiato preparing them with pancetta & maple pushed us to clean the whole plate. The boar was also excellent (it was my first time eating that). The pork belly was very tender, and the crispy skin on the outside was perfect. The spaghetti prepared so simply with basil and cherry tomatoes was delicious.

Hand Cut Spaghetti, Brussel Sprouts, Wild Boar

Pork Belly

Dessert was a chocolate tart with pine nuts and sea salt gelato. The combination of salty & sweet sent my senses reeling. A great ending to a fantastic meal.

Chocolate Tart With Sea Salt Gelato

I was well pleased with my meal at Graffiato. I appreciate that they use local ingredients and local farms, as well as supporting local vineyards. Kelly partook in the wine pairing with our meal, and was delighted to have a wine from a local vineyard she had previously visited. The atmosphere was fun, the food fantastic, and I felt we got our monies worth for our meal. I hope on my next visit to try the Porky’s Revenge pizza, which has┬ásopressata, pepperoni, sausage, tomato, stracciatella.

Check out Graffiato’s website to book your reservation, and peruse the menu before hand. You won’t be disappointed!

Colorado Camping

Family Camping Pic

Summer. It means we’re out camping. Our favorite spot is Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Just outside of Golden, it’s a real gem. We booked our site in March, allowing us to know we’d have a spot come June.

We really lucked out with the weather, it was perfect. Perhaps we can put the Armstrong curse (rain!) to rest.

We even took advantage of the talks put on by the naturalist. The first night, we learned about black bears. Prizes were awarded for correct answers, and we helped the boys score some granola bars.

The next day, the boys & I planted a letterbox, and attended the talk on pollinators. We went back that night to hear some stories, such as the Navajo story of the night sky creation.

On our last day, I convinced the family to hike up Mt Galbraith to hunt for a letterbox. The views it afforded made it worth while!

Enough words, here are some pics.

Camping Buddies

Dude's Fishing Hole

Hiking/Letterboxing on Mt Galbraith


 

Where I Am

I didn’t mean for 20 days to go by without blogging. I just haven’t been able to narrow down what I wanted to say.

In the time I’ve been MIA, we had a lovely drama-free trip to Canada. People who had never met Miles finally got to. This trip was too short, unless you count the long hours my loving husband drove there & back. I assure you, that portion of the trip was not too short. And Montana is beautiful!

Ask Elijah what was his favorite part about the trip to Alberta?

“the day I got to eat 2 donuts!” (a visit to Tim Horton’s with Gramma)

I promise to get back to blogging again soon. Once school gets going and I get two hours of freedom from Wingus & Dingus.