Holiday Chocolate Festival

When it comes to the holidays, I’m all for trying new things along with maintaining traditions. This year, I’m excited to check out the Holiday Chocolate Festival, Sunday December 9th from 11am-6pm, at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.

This is the fourth year for the festival, which features chocolate in so many different flavors and concoctions from truffles to chocolate martinis to over 70 varieties of fudge.

You’ll want to buy advance tickets by December 8th to get a discount. Admission is $5, kids 12 and under are free. Taste Tickets are available in pre-sale for one ticket for $1, 12 tickets for $10 and 30 tickets for $25. At the door tickets will be $1 per ticket. Buy tickets to sample all the treats, or simply check out the entertainment and shopping from local businesses. Entertainment will include wine and chocolate tastings by the Chocolate Therapist Julie Pech, holiday cupcake decorating ideas and practice with the Dessert Stand, Teresa Farney’s live interview with the owner of Sugar Loco, truffle & cake competitions, artist Noami Foster painting with real chocolate and so much more.

Does it get any better than that?

Water World

With summer winding down, and school getting ready to start, we thought it was a good time to do one last family activity. None of us had ever been to Water World, so Daddy took a vacation day and we drove to the other side of Denver to visit the largest water park in the U.S.

I’ll admit I was nervous, because I did not know what to expect. I mean, my only experience with water parks was the indoor park at West Edmonton Mall. Plus, my kids do not know how to swim. What would we be able to do?

Water World is pretty accessible to get to. The parking lot was huge, we had no issues getting there and getting in. I had read some of the FAQ online, so I knew where to get tokens for the lockers. If you are planning to open your locker repeatedly, you might want to opt for the day long locker, which is $8. I only needed to lock up my purse, so the $1 locker was good for us.

I found we could rent life jackets for the kids for free, so we set them up with those. They were fine with that, and it gave me more peace of mind. All we had left to do was pick what to ride first.

(map courtesy of Water World)

The park is spread out (translation- lots of walking!), and we started our visit by choosing Raging Colorado, a raft ride we could do as a family. Squeals of delight came from our raft, and begging to ride it again. So we did. There was a girl photographing families, but sadly our photos are unavailable. We visited the Thunder Bay wave pool (which incidentally is smaller than the one at West Edmonton Mall), and the kids got a big kick out of that.

Finally persuaded them to move on, where we went on their favorite ride, Lost River Of The Pharaohs. This too was a family raft ride, but it featured a dark tunnel with mist and mummies. They wanted to do it repeatedly.

We wrapped up our visit at Big Top, which features a water spraying funhouse, silly shores pool, and Monkey Business, a low-key slide for two. We took the gondola back up to the North Shore Area, where we had started our day.

You could spend all day there- there is plenty of shade. A lot of people brought big coolers in and set up a base camp with towels. Definitely something to consider. We opted to make our visit a short one, but with the fun all four of us had, we’ll definitely be back. Though Water World is a little pricey, discount coupons can be found! And consider going mid-week. The lines were not too bad for us going on a Wednesday, when school had already started in some districts.

* I was given free passes for my family to visit Water World through USFG. This review is my honest opinion.

CO Wildfires: Fundraiser Benefit

The wildfires that have been ravaging our state this year leave us wanting to do what we can to help. The American Red Cross & Qdoba are holding a Statewide fundraiser on Tuesday, July 10 to support families & communities affected by the wildfires.

Here’s the scoop: visit your local Colorado Qdoba, donate a minimum of $1, and get a coupon for free chips & 3-Cheese Queso. Qdoba is matching the collected funds (up to $50,000), hoping to hit their goal of $100,000.

It’s that easy. Even if you don’t have to time to stay and eat, you can stop in to donate and get your coupon.

If you are interested in other ways you can help, my friends have some links you can visit:

Mile High Mamas

Colorado Moms

Denver Parent

* As of July 6, The Waldo Canyon Fire, is at 90% containment. *

A Time To Heal, A Time To Love

It took nine months, and then I felt that my heart was ready to love a new cat.

We took advantage of Humane Society of Boulder Valley‘s free cat weekend, to go look for our new pet. I wanted a young cat, not a kitten, but not too old so as to deal with the loss of a pet again.

We left after a few hours with Castle (previously burdened with the name Octavio).

He’s been a welcome addition to my day. Someone to chat with when the kids are at school. Someone to cuddle with on the couch or bed.

While we didn’t have to pay adoption fees, he hasn’t exactly been “free”. I ended up having to take him to the vet, first to get a well check after we adopted him, and then 10 days later when he had licked his fur right off near his tail, revealing sores.

He’s pretty good with the kids, though they still need to learn to read the signs that they are invading his space. Geoff is convinced Castle is trying to remove him from the picture, by laying in wait at the top of the stairs in the dark of early morning.

But how could you not love this guy?

Sleepy Castle

What's up?

For Michael

Last week I learned that a wonderful man I knew had passed away. I searched through my Facebook friends in CA, looking for the post that should have alerted me to this. There was nothing, only the note shared by the prayer newsletter from my CA bible study.

I wouldn’t be who I am without God having placed Michael in our lives. This man we met at Woodbridge, who lived close enough to us, that he & his family drove us to church every week for a year. The year we did not own a car. His wife even drove my friend & I to Disneyland, and picked us up afterwards. The man who would scuba dive with Geoff. I loved getting Christmas cards from his family, and the notes he would write on them, “so glad to see your family doing well”.

Michael & my dad were both diagnosed with cancer within weeks of each other. And while my dad chose not to treat his cancer, Michael fought hard. When my dad passed away months later, I took comfort in the fact that Michael’s treatments were going well. It took cancer almost 9 years to take down Michael.

He was a remarkable guy. He was kind, wise, and Godly. I know his presence will be missed greatly, not just by the Armstrongs, but also by his wife, his daughters & their families.

Ski Trip 2003

(top) Stephanie & Michael, Lindy & Kris

(bottom) Frank & Cynda, Melissa & Geoff

2012- Here We Go!

Most people start resolutions once the new year begins, but I didn’t want to put off what needed to be done. I needed a kick in the butt, I needed to get back into exercising and getting fit. So mid-December I began the 30 Day Shred. If you are unfamiliar with it, it’s a 20 minute regime you commit to doing for 30 days. In theory, you’ll do 10 days at each level, starting with level one, working up to level three.

Today I finished day 23, which means I’ve been doing level three for three days. Oh my goodness, I’m aching. My goal was not to lose weight, but rather to tone. And it’s clear to me that I’m on track for that. Geoff has encouraged for me to have a plan for what will be next once this is over. And my plan is to do some of the exercises, and some Wii Fit yoga until I get back from my trip. Then I’m committing to another 30 days of doing the shred.

All this fitness has an end goal- I want to hike one of Colorado’s 14ers this year. A goal I wouldn’t have thought possible a year ago, but I totally think is achievable in 2012.

I hope I’ve inspired you to get active. Take baby steps if needed, and seek out support for accountability and encouragement. You can do it!

The Real World

So I see I have not blogged since October. What I have been doing in that time is living in the real world.

I signed Elijah up to participate in Destination Imagination, a creative problem-solving competition. He has to work together with his team to create a short play about toys. At his level, it is classified as non-competitive. I got roped into being the team leader, which has brought me some stress. I just don’t want to ruin the experience for any of the kids on the team.

I’ve been trying to volunteer in Elijah’s class on Mondays, which has been fun. I may also try to get back into Miles’ class to help out.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with Geoff’s parents, and as we get closer to Christmas, I’m trying to get all the shopping done. That doesn’t leave much exciting stuff to write about.

I did get to enjoy a girly night out with the Mile High Mamas at Sephora. There is something energizing about being with those women. I’m also trying to plan/organize our Christmas Open House, as well as a letterboxing event.

So that’s where I’ve been. I’ll try to get back to more regular blogging soon.

Get A Job

Easier said than done. And a little intimidating after being out of the work force for 6 years.

Armed with a high school diploma and rusty resume writing skills, I am searching for a part time job.

What do I want? Something that won’t steal all my free time away from my family, but still allow me to save some money to pay down debt and save for a family vacation.

My availability is limited by the fact that Miles isn’t in school full-time.

How will this end? Time will tell. Tomorrow I will write about online applications. And how fishy I look on paper.

The Brown Palace- A Denver Must-See

It’s a shame that I’ve lived in Denver for the last 8 years, and never set foot inside the beautiful Brown Palace. It has been in downtown Denver since 1892. I was able to attend their inaugural Tweet-up on Thursday night. 50 Denver area tweeps & bloggers filled the atrium lobby.

Atrium Lobby at the Brown Palace

We were treated to a sample of the Brown Palace’s restaurants & services. A fantastic five minute massage in the spa, allowed us to see the relaxing area set aside for couples massages. The Ship Tavern, the casual restaurant, offered prime rib, while the upscale Palace Arms sampled crab cakes & bananas foster. The lobby held for us a great jazz band, while drinks (champagne, The Rhuberry, and other signature cocktails) and a cheese platter were served. A visit to Ellyngton’s, home to the Brown Palace’s Sunday Champagne Brunch, tickled our tastebuds with a yummy selection of desserts.

My Dessert Selections

Cristina, one of the staff members of the Brown Palace, took us on our tour of some of the rooms you can stay in. There are 241 rooms and suites, ranging from a traditional room, to Top Of The Brown, all the way to the Presidential Suite. One of the cool add-on options in the Top Of The Brown rooms (8th & 9th floors), is the Butler Brigade. Your own butler. For real.

If you can’t getaway for the night, consider making reservations for the historic tour (Wednesdays and Saturdays). It’s $10/person (free for guests), and lasts 75 minutes. This hotel has a lot of history. They also have a ghost tour, which is quite popular.

Now for you Colorado residents, you’ll want to jump on this new program from the Brown Palace-Palace Preferred. By signing up, you get discounts on the spa, valet parking and the restaurants, as well room upgrades & a special price on room reservations.

Who doesn’t need to be treated like royalty once in a while?


*Disclaimer- I was not paid by the Brown Palace for this write-up. I was just a guest at the tweet-up who had a fabulous time. I did however win a prize- A free brunch for two at Ellyngton’s. Thank you to Turner PR & The Brown Palace for a great event!

Top Chef Tour

Richard Blais


Saturday May 7, the Top Chef Tour stopped in Denver. This was our 2nd time seeing the tour, and we were thrilled that Richard Blais, our favorite and winner of Season 8 All-Stars, was back in the Mile High City.

The set up was different than the previous year. Instead of having the chefs prepare a dish for us, the two chefs would have a “quickfire”, and we would get to taste both dishes. His competitor was Vail, CO’s Kelly Liken (finalist in Season 7).

Kelly Liken

I knew ahead of time they would be preparing fish, as it was voted on in a poll on Facebook. Yeah, you know I don’t eat fish right? But this finicky foodie made herself take a bite out of both salmon dishes.

Okay, here’s my foodie fail, I didn’t take pictures of the food! I was too busy taking pictures of Richard.

Richard produced a salmon & mustard sauce, while Kelly went the non-cooking route of raw salmon on a cabbage & orange salad. The judges they had sit in, chose Kelly’s dish. Perhaps because they were sandwiched in between the two cooking stations, which were adding to the heat of the sunny Saturday.

Afterwards, I got in line to get a picture with the chefs. This years tour was more widely attended, so I didn’t get the chance to talk to the chefs (pout). I’ll just have to pretend that Richard totally remembered talking to me last year.