Sunday, September 30, 2012

Colorado: Awake

Love this video!   It highlights a lot of what makes Colorado amazing in under 3 minutes.   I feel blessed to live here rather than just visiting for vacation.   It really is a place where you come to life.

Friday, September 28, 2012

When to Let Go

This week's Five Minute Friday prompt is Grasp.    Something I'm having a hard time with this week.


The word grasp is often used in connection with words like reality. 

Grasping is also holding on too close - implying that the other party would like to be let go.   

Grasping for something feels different from reaching, striving, working, attaining.   It seems like you are going after something that you didn't work for or something that you couldn't achieve.   Grasping at straws.  

This week, I'm learning, sadly, about letting go.   When not to grasp too tight.   

My Chey dog has taken a sharp turn for the worse.   A little over two weeks ago we would go for 30 minute walks / jogs.   She chased tennis balls.  She played with the neighbor kids.     Now she can barely walk across the room or go out to the front yard.    Now she rests all day and I try to tempt her with peanut butter or homemade chicken soup.   

I'm thinking tonight I will try to entice her with a Pawbender from Goodtimes.    It's frozen custard with peanut butter drizzle.   She loves them.    I hope I'm not grasping at straws that she'll love it today.  

She's my first pet as an adult, where I am the one who has to make the decisions.   It's very, very hard. 


__________________To participate in these scribing shenanigans either today or next week visit Lisa-Jo's page here on Friday (or Saturday) then write for five minutes on the topic she provides. Then you can post a link to your post on her page. Finally show some love to the person who posted before you.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Counting Down to the Caribbean

I love the anticipation of an upcoming vacation.  It's almost as much fun as the trip itself.   That's why I always have something on deck.  Earlier this year, a friend asked if I'd like to go someplace warm later this year.    I suggested a cruise, and before she had time to think too much, we booked the trip.    It's been 7 years since I've been on a real cruise.     I don't consider the few days that I spent on the Louis Cristal in Greece "real."  It was a way from point A to point B, but not really a vacation in itself.  
My upcoming adventure has four ports of call - and since I picked the itinerary, I picked two new ports (and countries) to add to my list:  Cozumel, Belize (new!), Honduras (new!) and Grand Cayman. 
A cruise really is a way to vacation on a budget if you plan it that way.    Here was my approach:
1.  Paying for the cruise up front in cash back in May.   I earned some prize money at work and decided that rather than just putting it my checking account and hoping that I did something memorable with it, I would put it right away towards something awesome.   It's an interior cabin, but really, I'm only going to sleep there.
2.  Free hotel nights in Tampa, the departure port.   Yay for job perks!
3.  Paying for the airline tickets with my debit card.    I bought two one ways at good prices on two different pay days.   Spreading it out helped me pay with cash and resist the temptation to put it on a credit card. 
4.  Food.  The nice thing about a cruise is that your food is included.   Yes, you need to budget for alcohol and what you eat on the islands, but for the most part, you're covered.   
The last thing I need to settle are the shore excursions.   I'm pondering using Viator for some of them if the prices are better than the cruise line.   Shore excursions are definitely a way for the cruise lines to make money, but logistically it often is easier than planning a detailed activity on your own.

I can't wait!!! I haven't made a paper chain, like my sister and I did for Tanzania or Greece, but the excitement is still there and I'm counting down the days.

Recommendations for excursions for my ports of call?  Let me know!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Telluride (and special Colorado songs)

Here's a bit of random country music trivia for you.     On Tim McGraw's 2001 album Set This Circus Down he recorded a song called "Telluride."   It was not released to the radio.  I only know the song because I owned the CD (back when we bought CDs, you know).    When I moved to Colorado in 2005, I heard it played every once in a while.    Apparently since it's a song about Colorado, the radio stations here can/do play the jam.   Who knew?  
It probably also explains the local love of the song "Colorado Christmas" by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.   I'm pretty sure that one didn't make the cut when I lived in Nevada or Indiana.
But I digress.  I finally made it to Telluride in August after almost 7 years living in Colorado.   Every person I talked to said that this part of the state (Telluride and Ouray) were beautiful.    No lie.
The pictures above a just a glimpse of the natural beauty of western Colorado.   Enjoy.  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Wide Open Spaces

Who doesn't know what I'm talking about
Who's never left home, who's never struck out
To find a dream and a life of their own
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone

Many precede and many will follow
A young girl's dream no longer hollow
It takes the shape of a place out west
But what it holds for her, she hasn't yet guessed

She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

She traveled this road as a child
Wide eyed and grinning, she never tired
But now she won't be coming back with the rest
If these are life's lessons, she'll take this test

She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes
She knows the high stakes

As her folks drive away, her dad yells, "Check the oil!"
Mom stares out the window and says, "I'm leaving my girl"
She said, "It didn't seem like that long ago"
When she stood there and let her own folks know
She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes
She knows the highest stakes
"Wide Open Spaces" - Dixie Chicks

Happy Saturday to you!    This week's Five Minute Friday prompt was Wide.   Here we go.


The first thing that popped into my mind with this word was the Dixie Chicks song "Wide Open Spaces."   This was my theme song for much of my senior year of college and the summer I spent working at Yellowstone National Park.   That summer my friends and I would hop into the car, blast the CD player as we headed out on a road trip or elsewhere in the park to hike.   

There is something about wide open spaces that appeals to me personally.    I first went to Yellowstone the summer after my freshman year of high school.  It was my first time west.  My first time seeing the mountains.   I was in awe and told my mom that I would move out west at some point.   When I was interviewing for jobs to start after college graduation I really only looked at places west of the Mississippi River.    I needed the space.

I moved to Yellowstone not knowing anyone and then three months later moved to Lake Tahoe again not knowing anyone.   I wanted my space.  I wanted a chance to make my own decisions.   People were shocked that I was willing to just up and move.    It was my chance for adventure, so I took it.  

Even now, when I travel, I look for space.   I like to visit cities, don't get me wrong, but the things that usually resonate are the wide open views.    The ocean.  A big lake.  An expanse of mountains or plains.    It's heartening to know that there are big beautiful places that aren't jam-packed full of people.


To participate in these scribing shenanigans either today or next week visit Lisa-Jo's page here on Friday (or Saturday) then write for five minutes on the topic she provides. Then you can post a link to your post on her page. Finally show some love to the person who posted before you.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Traveler in the Kitchen Update - September 20

Stay hungry my friends....

Here are some of the new things I've posted over on Traveler in the Kitchen recently:

What I've made


Fresh Tomato Salsa

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Toffee Cheesecake Bars

Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies

Tasty treats while traveling

24 Diner - Austin, Texas

Mouse's Chocolates - Ouray, Colorado

O&H Danish - Racine, Wisconsin

What's the best food you tried this summer?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day.   If you do nothing else to celebrate this momentous occasion, you should switch your language on Facebook to English (Pirate).
Sail on matey!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sunny with a Chance of Focus

If I'm going to participate in Five Minute Friday this morning, it's going to have to be now.  As in early.   As in it's still dark outside, the weather is cool, the dog has been walked, and I'm enjoying a little me time with coffee and a breakfast cookie.  

Today's word is Focus.


I just looked at the word 30 seconds ago.  I've had no time to think or plan or determine what direction this 5 minute thing will go.   It's funny how we determine how to focus.   And what to focus on.   Sometimes it has to do with our hobbies, likes, dislikes and priorities.

I'm more focused on picking shore excursions for my vacation in November than cleaning my desk here at home.    Hmmm.  Ziplining through the rain forest or putting things away.   Big shock.

At work, focus is much different.   The nature of my job is people first.  The person in front of me is the person who gets my undivided attention.   Other projects can wait (and this is a good thing, because reconciling a spreadsheet may be a necessary evil, but it sure isn't number 1 on my Friday Fun Countdown).  

(I look at the clock and I'm four minutes in.   Obviously not having focus is hindering my ability to write something profound or entertaining.)

The real question for me is how to shift my focus from the things that are fun and that I enjoy to other things that may need my attention.     That's where entertaining personal finance blogs come in, I guess.  Thinking about budgeting or planning isn't fun when you say it aloud, but when someone puts a different spin on it, one that resonates with you, then it makes it easier to focus. 


Well now, my focus-mobile is up and ready for a great weekend.   Work then a rehearsal dinner tonight.  Fancy hair followed by some coffee tomorrow morning and then a wedding between two awesome friends in the afternoon.     Sunday even has some heavy scheduling, including facilitating a discussion at church, an 80 minute massage (!!!),  and the youth group kick off.    I won't have much time to focus on much else than a whole lot of happy.   


To participate in these scribing shenanigans either today or next week visit Lisa-Jo's page here on Friday then write for five minutes on the topic she provides. Then you can post a link to your post on her page. Finally show some love to the person who posted before you.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What to do with too much Ancient?

When you travel a long distance from home or visit a famous place, you feel a lot of pressure.   You feel that you should see and do all the "must dos."   I'm not sure who's in charge of creating the "must do" list.   All I know is that he/she does not allow enough time for just sitting (or standing or lying) around and enjoying.  

There isn't enough time for sunsets.  Or ice cream.   Or night markets. 

You might be in Yellowstone National Park.  You know you should go see the bubbling mud.  Instead, you'd rather sit on a rocking chair at the lodge and drink a bottle of Moose Drool.

You might be in be in a famous museum.   You should be paying detailed attention to each piece of art.  What if you miss the famous lilies - night - ship - lisa? Instead you'd rather be enjoying the view from their rooftop terrace.

I had this moment in Greece.    We saw a lot of ancient over the course of our trip.   After visiting the famous Knossos palace on the island of Crete, I had had enough ancient.   I didn't want to look at the ruins.  I didn't want to look at the gift shop.    I wanted to sit in the sun on a patio, drinking cappuccino, and just simply enjoy being.   Being in Greece.   Being on Crete.

You are the one in charge of your destiny.  Captaining your own ship.   Picking your own cliches. 
Your friends, family, tour director, boss, the media and prevailing wisdom can dictate what you should do with your life.  Your time.  Your money. 

But it's up to you.   Find your cappuccino.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Zumba = Grace? Not Really

Happy Friday!

Last week's topic for Five Minute Friday was change - and there was a lot for me last week.   Today I should call it Food Truck Friday.   Last Friday at my office we had the taco truck and an ice cream truck for our employees.    Today my friend and I skipped down the street to our sister property (where I worked until 2 weeks ago) to enjoy their Food Truck Frenzy party on their loading dock.   Four great trucks - of course, the Denver Cupcake Truck is dear to my heart and the special flavor today was maple bacon.   I had buffalo chicken pizza from Basic Kneads,  garlic fries from the Blue Bear Truck and a pulled beef taco from Verde.  

Today's topic for the five minute stream of consciousness writing is: Graceful.  


When I see the word graceful, the first thing that I think is "I'm not."  Other people look smooth and suave when doing things.  Skiing.   Wearing heels.   You get the picture.

Earlier this week I went to Zumba.   I love Zumba because the music is loud and an hour goes by quickly.   Of course coming from a family of flat butts means when you shake what your mama gave you  there isn't much to shake.    We danced to a particular song where a couple girls were shaking like crazy and there I am with my little hip shakes.   Having a good time, but not looking nearly as smooth.  

Going back to college, our friends from the middle east tried to teach us to belly dance.   Even then I wasn't sure how they danced so gracefully.   Even with a towel tied around their hips instead of a fancy skirt or scarf.   I can still see us up in the dorm rooms, or in the great hall at LAR acting crazy and not caring what others thought.  

Nothing else really comes to mind.   I'm not sure why I associate graceful with dancing.  I'm sure there's more than that.   You know what else makes me feel ungraceful?   The lack of big-footed shoes.  


There you go. My first second time participating in the Five Minute Friday.  

To participate in these scribing shenanigans next week visit Lisa-Jo's page here on Friday then write for five minutes on the topic she provides. Then you can post a link to your post on her page. Finally show some love to the person who posted before you.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What a Traveler Reads When She's Not Traveling - Blog Love

When I'm traveling, I try to live in the moment and focus on the people and the place.    However, the majority of the year, I'm at home in Denver and going to work like the majority of the world's population.      I tend to spend my morning commute on the light rail keeping up with some of my favorite blogs via Google Reader.   

Here's a little blog love for you today!

The Bloggers I Know
I love to read blogs written by friends that I know and support them in their writing adventures.

Sheer Ridiculousness -  written by a good friend here in Denver.     She has a passion for sports that I can't even pretend to understand.  She also writes about her love for the Chicago Bears over on Her Game Life

One Big Yodel - written by one of my college roommates about her life in Switzerland.   I get to explore Europe through her eyes.  Except when I go to visit, then I can use my own.

Twissted Swisster - written by the husband of the aforementioned college roommate.  Who, incidently, also lives in Switzerland with his wife. 

Baby Steps - written by another friend from college who writes about adventures in raising her family and homeschooling.

A godless Galilean - written by one of the pastors at my church.   That way I know I can catch up on his sermons if I miss a week.

Evolutionary Christianity - written by the head pastor at my church.   See above.

The Bloggers I Don't Know
Part of the blogosphere is connecting with others who write about things you find interesting even if you don't know their names.    Here are a few of the blogs I follow. 

Travel Blogs
Everything Everywhere
Uncornered Market

Personal Finance Blogs
For those who know me, you would probably NOT think I follow PF blogs.  These are the fun ones. If I want to keep traveling the world, I've got to keep money in mind
Budgets are Sexy
Punch Debt in the Face

Other Fun Things
The Smart Cookie Cook
Cordelia Calls It Quits
The Happiness Project

What else should I be reading?

Monday, September 3, 2012

National Parking: Black Canyon of the Gunnison

It's been a while since I've visited a new national park.   Rocky Mountain NP has been my fall back these past few years since it's easily accessible from Denver.    I used to seek out National Parks everywhere I went - both to explore America and to get a stamp in my passport.   I've been slacking as my travels have taken me elsewhere.
When I told friends I was venturing to Western CO in August, I was told more than once not to miss the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.     The running joke over our roadtrip was "What is a Gunnison?"   Our decision was that it was an unknown furry animal.   Every time there was a watch out for wildlife sign, it was because tourists should not be going around hitting Gunnisons.  It's not nice.  And it's hard on your car :)
The entrance of this National Park is unassuming.  The ranger told us that people will drive out to the park - you can't see anything of the canyon as you drive from Montrose to the ranger station - and then balk at paying the $15 entry fee and turn around and leave.    They are missing out.   It's a very dramatic and beautiful area.   I only wish we would have had time to drive down the steep hairpinny East Portal Road down to the river, but we still had a long way back to Denver after visiting the park.  
The ever present sign in this park was the "No Rock Throwing, Hikers Below" on all the trails.   Obviously on twitter this would be filed under #NationalParkProblems.
What's your favorite National Park?     

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Can I Have Some Change?

Today I was getting caught up on reading some of my friend's blogs and Laurie was participating in something called Five Minute Friday.    The goal is to spend 5 minutes each Friday writing on a specific topic provided by the blog host, Lisa-Jo.   Obviously today is Saturday, but since I didn't know this "write up" existed before today, it's going to have to be a make-up, write-up Saturday.

I'm setting the stopwatch on my phone and I will be really interested to see what happens.   I'm leaving to visit a friend in 10 minutes, so I better make these 5 minutes count.


Yesterday I was trying to leave work to start my holiday weekend and was actually counting change at 5pm.    I just transferred to a new office (with the same company) as of this past Monday.  Another change.    It was a great week.   I know both of my new office mates and they did a bang up job of decorating my new office so I felt welcome.    One of the cool thing was taking pictures off my facebook page and using them to create signs.     One said "Welcome to the Coolest Place on Planet Earth."   The best one was me holding a bumper sticker that said "I (heart) Tanzania."   They photoshopped the image so that it says "I (heart) JP and DLO."  JP and DLO are my two new partners in crime.     

Monday we were celebrating Purple Monday (for the Colorado Rockies) and my favorite, the Denver Cupcake Truck, came to the office for two hours in the afternoon.   Who doesn't love a cupcake on a Monday?   That was something new.  Change.  Tuesday I went back to my previous property to teach new hire orientation.   Sitting in my old office, but without any of my personality was also a big change.    Wednesday I went out for happy hour with the person who was promoted to take my old job.   She will be changing from working 60+ hours to a more reasonable, work-life balance friendly, 45.    Thursday.  Hmmm.   I don't remember anything.   And yesterday, I spent most of my day dining on the driveway with a taco truck.


There you go.   My first time participating in the Five Minute Friday/Saturday.   Quite a bit of change this week.   And all good. 

To participate in these scribing shenanigans next week visit Lisa-Jo's page here on Friday then write for five minutes on the topic she provides.   Then you can post a link to your post on her page.  Finally show some love to the person who posted before you.

Have a great Labor Day weekend!


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