2014-12-06 15.30.25

Obviously, I am a terrible blogger these days. but I really make no apologies for that because we’re just too darn busy enjoying … or at least getting through … life most days for me to think about blogging. But our little world is humming along and I don’t want to miss writing down the good stuff and even a bit of the not so good stuff.

2014-12-02 19.18.08

Well the kids are doing well. We got Ben’s sinus infection cleared up and it’s like he’s a new kid at school. He’s been bringing home mostly 3s (the max) on his daily reports and I’ve seen such an improvement in his reading and coloring and writing. So so proud of him.

And as shown in the first photo, he has successfully earned his next karate belt. This is so huge for him. He has had the skills since summer (since before Tabby even started back at karate) but couldn’t focus well enough in group class to move up. But his sensei has seen real improvement in him and he was allowed to test the first weekend in December and he got it!

2014-12-15 19.10.33Tabby is doing amazing as well. I cannot believe the stuff she is able to read, ALL ON HER OWN. And all she wanted for Christmas was BOOKS. So she’s probably getting quite a few of those. This is actually a photo from last night. I was working on a little Christmas project and she wanted to come in and sew. She was sewing tediously by hand (which I am TERRIBLE at) and so I showed her how to use the machine. She picked it up in no time flat. She’s also hitting piano and karate hard and having a really good year.

She gets frustrated sometimes that she’s “good all the time” (she’s not) and doesn’t get the same rewards for her continuously good behavior that Ben gets when he masters himself and does well. So we have been explaining to her that she does get rewards in the form of special privileges (staying up 15 minutes late to read, getting to use my sewing machine, etc.) and that we want to reward them for their hard work. Behaving and being on task is hard work for Ben and practicing piano is hard work for her, so she is rewarded for that. But man, she wants her money’s worth! which I really appreciate, actually.

2014-12-06 23.47.51-1Matt and I have been lucky enough to have a couple of date nights. One (above)  was at my company party and the other was back down town to look for a new engagement ring for me since I lost mine this summer while we were camping and we finally claimed the insurance on it. Oy. We never really got to actually look at rings thanks to some timing issues, but we got to hang out and have fun and that is just as nice.

2014-12-08 13.23.06We’ve been crazy busy at work, with everyone wanting last minute THINGS before the new year. Lots of budgets and reports and proposals. It’s a bit draining, but I like being busy and feeling like I’ve really earned my paycheck.

Plus, for the first time in A WHILE, I’m feeling pretty good (knock on wood). No sore throat, sniffles, headache, earache or anything else. I’ve been hyper careful about my sleep and after chatting with my doc last week, I’m finally getting out today to pick up some probiotics for myself and the whole household to work on getting some “good” bacteria back in our tummies. And fingers crossed … we can stay this way for a while. I want to really enjoy my time off after Christmas!!!

Matt’s dad and stepmom got in last night and now we get to have a great pre-Christmas weekend with them, enjoying some wonderful Christmas festivities and their excellent company. The kids are crazy excited.






1In a very round-about, long-story kinda way, we ended up going to Arizona for Thanksgiving. It is very rare for us to travel on Thanksgiving and honestly, it wasn’t numero uno on my to-do-list. I’ve been working like a rented mule and driving 10 hours twice over 4 days (as opposed to lying around in our jim jams for four days) didn’t sound awesome, but we had the opportunity to see my dad’s sisters and their husbands and it really doesn’t happen often, so we went for it.


The trip out was happily quite uneventful. We made quite a few stops thanks to driving with six people two of whom were small kids with small bladders.

3The scenery south of Colorado Springs into Arizona through New Mexico is not my favorite, but we got to see some cool things, including some “Javiers” or cacti as normal folk call them.

9We got in super late on Wednesday and had dinner at my aunt’s house. The kids were falling asleep at the table, but rallied nicely the next morning for Thanksgiving. We had a nice day together with breakfast and cooking and thanksgivings. And really, that’s how most of our time in AZ went. It was lovely hanging out with some family that I hardly ever see and seeing old photos and hearing some new old family stories. Ben and Tabby had a nice time getting to know some of that branch of the family too.

One highlight for me was getting to try out the brand new Rummoli board I made just before we left for AZ. Since I didn’t have time to gather up poker chips, we used glass marbles, which worked great in a pinch!

6But the big highlight for the kids was our critter encounter. My aunt and uncle had bid on and won a critter encounter from a reptile rescue at an auction the summer. So the critters came to visit on Friday afternoon. Both my kids are big into animals and this was an extra special treat.

4Ben’s favorite was this baby box turtle, Benny, who not only shares his name, but is also the pet he is very desirous of.

5My personal favorite was this super chill iguana named Tamale (because apparently they use iguana meat for tamales!) and Tabby’s was this pair of cool geckos, one of which is perched on Ben’s head.

7It was great because of the small group, the kids could really hang out with the animals. They just wondered around with us. I was less fond of this with the snakes, but I loved the tortoise (Sequoia) and Iguana. It was such a cool thing for the kids. What a treat!

10Heading home early Saturday morning was  a trial for all, especially this bed hog (his sister is pictured as well if you can find her!), but we made it. And now we’re spending the last day of break mostly just chilling.

Benjamin, Photography, Tabitha

1It was truly a great weekend – fall’s last hurrah! We had many wonderful adventures – riding our bikes to the movie theatre to see Big Hero 6, cooking up some delicious food in the kitchen, cleaning out some messy corners and, in my case, heading to Denver’s Botanic Garden not just once but twice to see the Chihuly exhibit.


Friday evening I went with my girlfriends to see the exhibit at night. The glass, expertly illuminated was gorgeous. And as always, it was wonderful to hang with some of my best friends.

4The weather cooperated beautifully for us and the rain/snow that had been forecast held off so we could enjoy the show.

2It was almost as great to just see the gardens after dark as anything. Here the moon rises over the science pyramid. I drank copious amounts of tea a chatted and laughed with good friends.

5After seeing my photos from Friday, Tabby begged to go to the exhibit. It’s something I’d been planning to take the kids to see … just hadn’t gotten around to it just yet. So I agreed and ordered up the only tickets we could get – for 9 am on Sunday.

7The second trip was just as great. I got to see all the pieces that I hadn’t been able to see at night …

10And see some others in a whole new light.

8And in addition to the beautiful artwork, we got to take in the beautiful fall scenery.

9… and make some cool discoveries, like these GIANT (they’re bowling ball sized, for real) turnips and a plaid cactus and a tree with ccamouflagebark!

6They even got to have chai lattes as a treat. That’s hard to beat.


2014-10-26 09.30.05It has been a glorious fall here. No wind. Not much rain. No snow. The leaves have stayed on the trees and we’ve had nice mild weather most days and even quite warm on others. I know it won’t last, but I’m enjoying it while it does.

2014-11-02 11.12.11-1
We’ve been spending a lot of time outside while we can. We are in the second week of C25K with the kids and that’s actually gone better than expected. There is some grumbling from Ben at the start, but he usually falls in line pretty quickly. I have the app on my phone and we run and walk according to its directions and everyone is (more or less happy). The big problem has been fitting in the three weekly runs with everything else we’ve got going on!

We’ve also been pulling out the bikes a lot. Ben is much more enthusiastic about riding bikes than running (despite loving to run when he is in charge) and his little legs have to pedal more revolutions than anyone else’s yet he keeps up really well. Tabby has learned to use the gearing on her bike and Ben is wildly jealous of this and desperately wants his own big-boy bike for Christmas (along with half the contents of the Target toy and electronic departments). This weekend, we made it 7 miles!! That’s not bad for most adults, but for little guys, especially those with no gears, it’s incredible! He had a 4 hour nap that afternoon as well …

2014-10-24 19.34.02Work has been a giant blur for both of us. Matt is on a big deadline and I have had my usual many little, medium and big deadlines. But it’s somewhat nice to be busy. Job security and all. We attended my trade associations’ annual awards banquet where we were honored with three awards, including a marketing award. It was at the Four Seasons and very fun with a James Bond theme and a casino night.

Snapshot 2 (10-22-2014 9-30 AM)The homework has kicked up another notch, adding book reports into the mix. Tabby has (appropriately) graduated out of picture books and now read a chapter book every other week and then fills out 4 pages worth of forms on its contents and characters. I personally wish she could read just for the fun of it, but I’m sure there’s some standard somewhere that wouldn’t be adhered to. Mostly, I really enjoy hanging with my girl and doing homework, but it really cuts into our family time and my personal free time.

Potholders2Speaking of free time, we’ve been watching a lot of movies and football in our spare time. Seems like cozy fall evenings and afternoons are perfect for it. And it’s been great fun to share some of the old classics with the kids (Mighty Ducks! Ghostbusters!). While we watch, I’ve been working on teaching myself to crochet. My favorite potholders are some my grandma made us (like those above) and I found the pattern online and learned how to do it from some You Tube videos – not too bad. The only problem is, my potholder came out smaller than what I anticipated. I’m going to get Grandma’s opinion when she comes over next time. Maybe I just need a bigger hook?

workoutroomThe other thing I’ve been spending a bunch of my time on is working out. Not every day, but I make it over to our little home gym most days to at least run. This week Matt’s installing my new pull-up bar, so I can have some high-flying fun as well. I also have some still rings on order. Love this stuff!  I hope to be able to do a good tour of that room soon. It’s really shaping up nicely.

2014-10-26 19.54.50And in the kitchen, I’ve been going great guns. We’ve really been focusing on eating at home, both for health and savings. We’ve been making tons of old family favorites and a good few new recipes thrown in (I’ve posted most but not all of those here). The mandate of having a single breakfast item for the kids has gone really well, so most every Sunday evening, I am to be found in the kitchen, prepping some sort of breakfast goodie for them. Oatmeal is the go-to because I almost always have the ingredients available: milk, fruit, oats. This week I made a bunch of breakfast sandwiches, cooking the eggs in a whoopie pie pan I picked up on Amazon for $7.

2014-10-30 22.58.38And speaking of this weekend, it was a pretty smashing one. We had a quiet Halloween at home this year, carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating. We didn’t get too many visitors (our section of the ‘hood isn’t too built up yet) … and the kids visited maybe 20 houses and had their buckets filled by homeowners eager to get the sugary stuff gone.

2014-10-31 18.34.06-1We had a black kitty and a jedi knight, two of my favorite costumes so far … mostly because they suit them so well. They were also warm! It wasn’t freezing here like last year, but there was definitely a nip in the air.

2014-11-01 16.55.40We also attended the wedding of a family friend (who I used to babysit for!!). It was a wonderful celebration of their love and I’m so glad to see them so happy and ready to start off on their new life together. 2014-11-01 18.38.51We all had a great time at the wedding, but particularly the kids who really lived it up. Tabby ate tons of crab and loved the mashed potato bar. Ben was a dancing fool, dragging me onto the dance floor to strut his moves. It was a real treat to just be silly and have so much fun with them.

And just like that it’s November and we’re heading into the holiday season!

Asian, Clean, Cooking/Food, Family, Quick, Recipes, Seafood

2014-10-20 18.28.39

I like anything I can get on the table for my family in under 30 minutes that is healthy, real food. Salmon almost always fits that bill because it cooks quickly and needs very little adornment to make it special. This dish is no exception and is a really great addition to any week night warrior’s repertoire. Add my summer squash hash and it’s a full, healthy, very yummy meal with leftovers for lunch the next day.


For the salmon:

  • 2 pounds salmon cut into 4-6 oz pieces
  • 1 lime
  • 1 T Sriracha hot sauce
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 2-3 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

For the Summer Squash Hash:

  • 2 cups cooked rice (brown is our fave)
  • 3-4 summer squash (zucchini or yellow squash) cut small or julienned
  • 1 T butter
  • S&P or salt and lemon pepper or garlic salt or … ?


Heat oven to 425. Start your rice cooking. Heat water on the stove or turn on the rice cooker and get it going. Then prep your summer squash. We use the mandoline on the fine grate setting and turn over 4 squash in just a few minutes. This is a good time to slice the green onions as well.

Next, cover a baking sheet with parchment or foil and place the salmon pieces on top. Zest the lime over it. Then combine the lime juice, Sriracha, brown sugar and sea salt together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the salmon and place in the oven for 16 minutes. We found this is the perfect cook time for us, but if you have very thin salmon or like it more rare, you should probably check after 10 minutes.

Now, use the next 16 minutes to cook your summer squash and finish up your rice. Heat 1 T butter in a fry pan and add the summer squash. Saute for 8-10 minutes until a bit soft. Don’t move it around too much, you want to move some moisture and start to get it a little brown if you can. Season with your desired spices and combine with the rice.

Sprinkle green onions over salmon and serve atop your delicious hash. Enjoy!


2014-10-20 18.31.22Notes: we do not find this to be a particularly spicy dish, despite containing Sriracha. The fattiness of the salmon seems to cut it nicely. Also, hash is equally delicious deconstructed (with rice and squash not touching) if you happen to have picky eaters.


Asian, Clean, Cooking/Food, Recipes, Seafood, Soup

2014-10-19 16.38.08

This is a recipe I’m posting at least half for my own record keeping as anything else. I still have some lingering questions about the recipe and I don’t have great photos, but I’ll share what I’ve got and try to update the next time we make it. But man, it’s too good to lose!

Backstory: Last week we went to Sweet Tomatoes as an atta-boy for Ben who had been struggling a bit with behavior at school and is now happily doing amazingly well, literally OFF-THE-CHARTS. Sweet Tomatoes (this is a salad, soup, pasta buffet with some baked goods and soft-serve ice cream thrown in) is a perennial favorite restaurant of the kids and Matt and I like it, but in a sort of we’ll put up with it for your sake kind of way. It’s generally not too innovative or interesting, but everyone can find something they like and it’s reasonably healthy if you’re careful with how much and what you pick.

So we got our salads and ate those and then Ben begged to go get mac ‘n’ cheese and I accompanied him, served his pasta for him and sent him back to the table. Then I wandered over to the soup bar where they had the usual array of 6 soups. They always have a bunch of the same ol’ but then have some seasonal offering … and this time, it was Lobster Curry Bisque. The seasonal soups are very largely hit or miss, but I almost always try them and this one was … OMG. Amazing. It was all I could do not to go back for seconds, thirds, fourths and bribe the people to send me home with the absurdly large vat of the stuff.

It was all the yummy stuff about regular lobster bisque but with coconut and curry flavors and just so so so good. It was kind of like a mixture between Tom Kha (a thai soup with a lovely coconut base) and regular ol’ lobster bisque. Awesome. I was already planning a return trip for this week when I realized that we were on the LAST DAY of the soup special. Disaster. Only if the soup is a huge hit do you ever see it again and even then, it could be easily a full year!

So I did what any sensible person would do. I googled. And I came up with the delightful recipe for Coconut Curry Lobster Bisque by a Ms. Natalie Paramore. I’d never been to her site before, but she showed a pretty good method and so I decided I’d give it a whirl. And just a couple of days later, I stuck it on the menu for Sunday night … along with another tried and tested soup (Beef Barley with Mushrooms) just in case.

Acquiring the ingredients was a bit more hassle than normal and included a trip to an Asian grocery store. But happily, an H-Mart has just cropped up on one of my more frequently traveled paths and Ben in tow, we were able to get lemon grass, lemon thyme, coconut milk and coconut cream powder (as well as some other Asian grocery store treats) while Tabby was testing for her orange belt on Saturday.

So Sunday was the regular crazy Nichols affair. We had a swim birthday party in the morning that we followed up with lunch with friends and then we met up with other friends back at our house shortly after that to do a little crafting (they wanted to make a CO pallet flag as well). They’d offered to bring dinner (after I’d already menu planned and done most of the shopping) but since I had something in the works, I said I’d just go ahead with that.

So while the wife was working with Matt on the pallet flag, I was in the kitchen cooking it up … and watching some football. I basically followed the original recipe with some modifications:


  • 4 Lobster tails (I forgot to see what weight I used, but they were small and I’m betting they totaled in the 3.5 lb range)
  • 6 cups water
  • kosher salt
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 stalks lemon grass
  • 2 sprigs lemon thyme
  • 1 T peppercorns
  • 3 teeny onions
  • 9 cloves garlic
  • 3 T red curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/4 C coconut cream powder
  • 1 lime
  • cilantro for garnish


As I said, this was all a bit on the experimental side. To my knowledge, I’d never even cooked lobster before, but what the heck! I’ll try anything.

So first step was to steam the lobster. I placed them in my soup pot with the water and about 2 tsp of kosher salt. Then, as the recipe directed, I brought them to a boil and covered to steam for 12 minutes. While that was in the works, as suggested, I chopped up the veggies. Lemon grass is no joke! It was crazy hard to cut and I ended up more or less sawing it with my serrated bread knife. Since the recipe said we’d be blending these things up, I just did the rough chop.

After the 12 minutes had elapsed, I removed the lobsters to a plate to let them cool. Once they were cool enough to handle, I dug out all the meat. I did this over the plate to capture the juices and dumped the juices and meat back into the soup pot. Then I added the chicken stock, lemon grass, lemon thyme, peppercorns, onions and garlic back to the pot and set it to boil for 45 minutes to make the stock.

Though this step was obviously not difficult, it is what would keep me from making this on a weeknight. In this case it worked out beautifully because I could prep everything for my other soup while the stock formed.

Once the stock was done, I strained it back into another pot as the recipe called for and here’s where it got a bit jinky. The author said to remove the whole ingredients and the lobster tail shells, but then it clearly showed those things being blended up and had referenced this fact before. Not wanting to lose out on any flavor, I opted to just remove the lobster tail shells and blend with my immersion blender. That technique works wonderfully on many of the soups I make, but the crazy lemon grass was really resistant and it was clear that ingredient would not blend nicely into soupiness. It just more or less ground it up. Therefore, I decided to run it back through the strainer once more. I was very happy with this move because it was clear that this fiborous stuff did not belong in there. I ended up squeezing it out to get all the liquid back out.

From there, the finish was easy. Stir in some curry paste (I just did a bit over half the jar, an estimated 3 T) and the can of coconut milk. The author had suggested that coconut cream was preferable but even at the Asian grocery store, there was none to be had. So I picked up the powder. The directions said to make it by putting the whole packet in a cup of water. But rather than do that, I stirred in about a 1/4 cup into the soup for just a little extra creamy. Next time I’d like to order the coconut cream off Amazon to see what difference it makes. Then I stirred in the lobster and squeezed lime over the whole thing and served it up!


All 10 of our guests (my dad and sister had joined us by this point) agreed – it was amazing. The kids all gamely tried it and ate at least half of their bowls. Any leftovers the adults were glad to bat clean-up on.

Work wise, this was honestly very manageable. I would guestimate that my hands-on time was around 1 hour and then add in the cook time around 1 hour. As I said, the only hard part was the uncertainty in straining the soup. I think I would be much quicker making it next time around, probably cutting my hands-on time to 30-40 min.

One might wonder though, how it compares to its Sweet Tomatoes inspiration. The answer is … quite a bit different, but possibly even better. The main difference was the texture. Sweet Tomatoes’ was much more thick creamy and this was definitely thinner, but still creamy. This had more the consistency of a thai coconut soup (Tom Kha). The flavors in this were a bit more subtle as well. You tasted everything, all at once, and nothing overpowered anything else. Lobster, coconut, curry, citrus.

To top it all off, the Broncos won, Payton captured the TD pass record, our friends have their very own CO pallet flag and we all had a very lovely evening.



2014-10-01 11.00.54Life has been getting in the way of my posting on here. I can’t really make any apologies for that. It’s been a fun and (as usual) crazy couple of weeks.

Last week we had a particularly stressful rush to finish and  drop off a proposal on Wednesday morning. After the eagle had landed, I coaxed my reportee into going to brunch with me so we could do his (very late) yearly review. It was great timing and we had a lovely brunch at Snooze, one of my favorite breakfast restaurants, in their new location – the newly renovated Union Station. The renovation was well done and they decided that only local restaurants could set up shop there, so we have some wonderful Denver restaurants there and it’s a great vibe.

2014-10-06 18.39.01It’s been great cooking lately. Fall/winter food is my favorite. Lots of comfort food and soups and pastas. We’ve made meatloaf cups (with baked sweet potatoes), some yummy skillet lasagna, and a really great peach salsa chicken in the crockpot. And of course soup! Broccoli cheese, lentil and chicken gumbo. I still want to recreate an awesome frozen meal (!!) I had – Evol’s Chipotle Chicken Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Maybe next weekend.

2014-10-07 18.24.25

We’ve been going on some lovely walks in the ‘hood. We figure we better get it in while we can. Already, it gets dark pretty early making it hard for us to get out in the evenings. Snapped this shot at the top of a hill in our ‘hood – wish it was a bit less street, but the sky was gorgeous and I’m glad I captured that. there’s also a big moon hanging over the lake, though it’s a bit hard to see in this view.

I almost hate to write it, lest I jinx it, but … in semi-related news, I’ve been running more. I finally gave up trying to work out early in the morning like I did for years. It just hasn’t been working since I frequently need to get myself to work very early these days and just getting presentable is enough for me. So Matt and I have been regularly using our workout room in the evenings and it’s been great. I actually spent 70 minutes on the treadmill last night. No idea how long since that’s happened!

2014-10-09 19.56.45-1School and activities are in full full swing. Tabby has homework every night and Ben is getting it on a weekly basis. We are fortunate to not have “crazy” level homework. Tabby gets a math worksheet every night and a spelling-related task  and Ben has a poetry folder with activities and sometimes some math every week. Tabby also has a take-home book, which at her reading level are pretty long and she rarely completes in a single night.

We have condensed karate into a single night where they both have a private lesson (though not together) for 30 minutes followed by the 60 minute group class. They would progress faster, I’m sure, if we’d take the time to get over there for another group class each week, but I can only take so much and so can they. Even with our limited karate time, Tabby is testing for her orange belt next weekend. We were hoping Ben could test a while back, but he still hasn’t reached the level of attentiveness his senseis are hoping for and he’s stuck at yellow belt ’til he can get that resolved. It doesn’t seem to bother him and they say he is making progress.

In our down time at home, we’re doing a lot of reading together. We’ve finished off three Little House books and are in the midst of the fourth (On the Banks of the Plum Creek). Out on the deck by the fireplace is a great spot for reading these books and both kids are enjoying them. I’m planning on reading some more classics to them after this – A Girl of the Limberlost, Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows. Eventually I want to read The Hobbit and of course, Harry Potter. Cuddled up on the couch with them is one of the best parts of my day.

Dream House

2It occurred to me last night while typing up my post on our pallet flag that really, quite a bit has happened in the kitchen/dining/mudroom area over the past two months that I should share. I am really loving how this space is coming together. I feel like I’ve achieved the look we were going for and infused a fun bit of color – so so important for me!


Almost immediately after I hit publish on the last post about this area, our friends came over for dinner. This particular friend is a construction guy and when he found the pendant lights hanging around in our pantry, he insisted they had to go up right then and there. So they did!

The old pendants, apart from being pretty non-descript (white glass, brushed nickle, on chains) seemed way too dainty for  our long island. They were just 4″ wide whereas these beasties come in at a beefy 10.25″ diameter. And of course being my signature green color and just $23/ea made them a slam dunk.

We also were happy to replace the ancient bar stools that were both 12 years old (!!) and too high. Those puppies actually came from Shopko for a whopping $10/ea and were the first furniture we bought in our apartment in Madison, WI! They’d been recovered and abused and owed us nothing, especially after Ben smeared frozen berries all over one of them. Oy.

I searched LONG AND HARD for a new ones. I knew the ball park of what I wanted (modern, no upholstery, maybe slightly industrial) but it was hard! I refused to pay an arm and a leg for the darn things but even looking at IKEA revealed that bargain basement (i.e. nothing you’d want) were $70/ea and anything that would last more than a few months was going to be at least $150/ea. I gave up for a while and then on a random search for “wood and metal bar stools” turned these up. Don’t get your hopes up – they’re not cheap – but I did get them on decent sale and I was able to pick them up at the West Elm downtown so I at least didn’t have to pay shipping.

They look great and clean up well after the kids smear yogurt on them.

mudroomMoving right along, the mudroom is all but done. I added baskets for our junk and a nice throw rug and some other little touches (hooks in our cubbies for our keys, a fake plant and a coin can). We still need doors to close in the cleaning closet and we’d like shelves for our shoe cubbies, but we are not in a big hurry.

flagAnd one last up-close-and-personal look at our newest addition to the dining room – the CO pallet flag. LOVE IT!


2014-09-28 18.52.32

I know I’ve been a bad blogger. Like terrible. But man, it’s been NUTS. Work got nuts. Then I got sick (strep-AGAIN) making work even more nuts. And of course it’s not like all the regular stuff stops when I’m sick or busy at work, so on and on it goes.

We’ve been kicking butt around the house. You should see the cool stuff we did last weekend. It’s not super photogenic (like this project), but we started the weekend with one vehicle (our pop-up) in the garage and ended the weekend with all three in there. We are ready (though not anxious for!) snow. We got tons of cardboard and boxes and random stuff gone and hung everything up. Then to top it all off, we installed landscaping lighting in the yard because the landscaping is going in SOON.

Anyhoo, the project.

Labor Day weekend when we were in Vail, we had the pleasure of dining at Mountain Standard, the sister restaurant to one of our perennial faves there, Sweet Basil. It is the same awesome food, but more of a low-key casual atmosphere. And directly above our table was a very cool industrial-chic version of the CO flag made from reclaimed wood. I loved it immediately and knew we had to DIY one for our house. We started asking around about pallets and in a ‘hood still well under construction they’re pretty plentiful. So last week in the middle of crazy, Matt suddenly jumps up and goes “roofers!” and runs out of the house. Apparently that was code for the fact that our super had told him that roofers always had pallets and he was tracking them down. Just an hour or two later, we had 6 pallets all to ourselves! For free! Score!

The first thing we had to do was disassemble them. Pallets are a hot mess of semi-crappy wood and nails, so we went to the interwebs to figure out the best way to do it. We read all up on pallets as well and ascertained that ours were in fact free from dangerous chemicals (these were actually phased out around 2007 so if the ones you get are new, you’re probably safe). So after reading up, we decided the best option for us was the sawsall! Matt of course owns one and he and his handy demolition blade made relatively quick work of two of them so we’d have our pick of wood.

2014-09-28 19.13.58

Then we laid it out. The wood was 40″ wide and in a wide variety of condition. Some had gotten wet, making it wavy, some had gotten knicked by the sawsall, some had mold (ick). And it was different widths. Looking at flags on the ‘net to determine ratio, we decided between 25 and 27″ tall was best for us, and we ended up with a couple of wider pieces and 4 narrow ones. We then used some of the other bits of reclaimed wood to nail them together along the back (two pieces total).

2014-09-28 17.08.49

Next I had to make a stencil for it. Using my mad chops from the days of art class, I used the little projector we have to project an image of the correct size on the wall and then taped a piece of cardboard (we have TONS) that I tacked to the wall. Then I traced the outline of the flag with a pencil and then cut it out with an exacto knife, maintaining the pieces to use as mask as we worked.

2014-09-28 17.00.26Then came the fun part – painting. Well almost, Matt insisted on running over it with some coarse grit sand paper first.  He’s exacting like that.

So finally painting!!! As with all painting, you work from light to dark, so I did the white stripe first. I actually only eye-balled this, knowing I could easily paint over the overspray.

2014-09-28 17.09.25Next the yellow.

2014-09-28 17.10.45Then the red.

2014-09-28 17.17.36

And finally the blue! We were a little over excited so we didn’t take as much time as we should’ve between colors, but fortunately that only meant a leeetle bit of touch up.

2014-09-28 18.52.32

And just for funsies, we figured out what it would cost us to buy one of these on the interwebs. Bargain price as $100 and we saw them for as much as $200. I am also very grateful to my state for having a pretty simple flag design. NY or CA’s flags are simply out of my artistic skillz.



2014-09-12 16.42.45It was a fairly relaxed weekend by our standards. The kids had their fun-run and carnival on Friday (here they are in a giant hamster ball). Ben apparently ran at warp speed and was at the front of the kindergarten pack.

I had to work later than normal (for Friday) since we had an interview team going in first thing on Monday morning. But I was able to join Matt and the kids for the second hour of the carnival. The first year we stayed all night, but this year (as with last year) it was really crowded and we didn’t stay long. Our school has grown and it’s a bit sad, but it’s still a wonderful school and our kids are luck to be there.

After the carnival we met up at our friends’ house for pizza and game night with a few other couples. The kids ran off to play and we were left in relative peace to chill and drink wine and be goofy. They’re all great people and we loved hanging with everyone.

2014-09-14 09.50.46
This was Tabby’s adorable Saturday morning project for her beloved teacher.
2014-09-13 12.02.38-1

Saturday we more or less promised the kids a stay-at-home day, but there were a few things we had to accomplish. We had a great workout in the morning and even Ben came up to join us and “run” on the treadmill. This charming fellow got out at some point along the line and tracked in the motherlode of muddy pawprints. I cannot wait for grass!!!!

Anyhow, we had to go out to grab a bit of food and a card but then we cranked the music while we worked on organizing the garage. We got a few things done, but barely scratched the surface before we had to leave and drop the kids at my dad’s house. He had a date planned with them including a movie.

While they were there, we went to Best Buy to pick up a replacement TV (our original one was defective) and then to West Elm to pick up new bar stools (more on that later). The evening’s activity was a wedding shower for a family friend and his lovely bride. It was a nice gathering.

2014-09-14 14.26.44Sunday we made it our priority to get stuff done before the kids came home. A little grocery shopping, a run to Good Will and that sort of thing. Then Matt and Ben met up with my uncle and aunt in the afternoon so they could all go to the Broncos game – Ben’s first. The previous weekend we’d watched them play and Ben was rather taken. He talked all week about the game, asking if the Broncos were playing that night and could we watch football?

So when my uncle had tickets, I knew who needed to go. We bought him his own jersey and after his disappointment that his carnival hair had worn off, we stopped at the Halloween store to get some blue and orange hair paint. That is one happy boy. He loved the game and when I asked him what his favorite part was, he didn’t cite the ice cream sundae he got in the 4th quarter, he immediately said, “Watching them play!!” I hope my papa (the original Broncos fan) is smiling down from above on his great grandson.

Anyhow, he apparently did very well at the game, happily watching all the action. Meanwhile, Tabby and I hung at my Dad’s house. Tabby played nicely and I did some work and we helped my dad cook. That evening he hosted all of us plus my sister and aunt and uncle for a very lovely dinner.

This weekend of course also marked the anniversary of my mom’s passing and the worst couple of days of my life. I definitely felt the sting more acutely a couple of times, but overall, I was OK. I had wonderful thoughts and messages from many loved ones and of course, that helps immensely. She is still held dear by many.



Hi! I'm Jess, a 30-something Colorado native making the most of life with my husband and kiddos. By day, I run the marketing department of a local contracting firm and in my ridiculously scant spare time, I love to run, ski, cook, travel (camp!), photograph and read. Thanks for stopping by!


Blast from the Past

Recipes by Category

I ♥ Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest

What I’m Reading

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World
When He Was Wicked
It Happened One Season
First Comes Marriage
Simply Unforgettable
The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills--and Leave a Positive Impression!
The Naked Duke
The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills
Grace and Power
The World of the Ancient Maya
On the Way to the Wedding
The Parenting Breakthrough: Real-Life Plan to Teach Your Kids to Work, Save Money, and Be Truly Independent
Rose Harbor in Bloom
The Pearl of Bengal
Surprising Lord Jack
Unlimited: How to Build an Exceptional Life
Anna and the French Kiss
The Lady Most Willing...: A Novel in Three Parts
Gone Girl

Jess's favorite books »