Hometown Highlights

As I soak up my Colorado sunshine and meet up with all my favorite people, I also have the utter satisfaction of hitting my top places in Fort Collins.

I moved to Colorado when I was ten years old from Minnesota. Yes, I did have a sweet accent. Occasionally if you’re lucky it still comes out. Don’t ya knooow 🙂 While I did my elementary years elsewhere, Colorado has my heart.

So even though I moved away briefly freshmen year of college, and am taking a brief hiatus, Colorado is home to me. Did you know it is the sunniest state in the US? Suck it California! We don’t get those gross gloomy, smog days like you! We have pure, unadulterated, UV, beautiful sunshine!

And today of course was a glorious September day, basking in the awesome Colorado weather, so I set out to visit some of my favorite places.

1. The Cupboard

I love specialty kitchen stores. They totally speak to my heart. Beautiful plates, glasses, aprons, mixers, cookie cutters… Seriously I love them. The Cupboard is a love of mine, truly because it’s an institution in Old Town Fort Collins. This place has been around for +40yrs. If you are in Fort Collins, need a great gift, inspiration, or want to take a cooking class, please visit this place! You’ll love it too.

2. White Balcony

Source

This store is pure womanly magic. They have beautiful clothing, hats, cards, purses, books, notepads,wallets…. I could go on forever. I went in today and found a green sweater and shirt that I absolutely love. Boutique style shops can be a little pricey and sometimes too quirky for me, but White Balcony is a store I adore.

This water bottle jumped out at me, because of well, the Eskimo, and I thought it was cute and funny. Great for gifts, personal treasures, and gentlemen, you really can’t go wrong here if you’re looking for something for the lady in your life.

3. Big City Burrito

Burrito lovers meet Big City. Big City meet burrito lovers. Yes, I can hear all you Chipotle fanatics, but this restaurant has become a part of me. Literally, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve eaten there. I can thank Big City for keeping any kind of fat/muscle on my body in high school. Chipotle is good… But Big City is unlike any other.

My order: Regular tortilla (in high school I downed a super in less than 10mins, thing of my x-country past), Chicken Mole, lite on the black beans, rice, pico, corn salsa, hit of house hot sauce, sour cream… and the best thing: ask for a side of ranch.

This burrito is life changing. It is impossible to eat it and look attractive. Do not do as I did and go on a date here. It is shameful and unattractive. But delicious none-the-less.

4. Elements Day Spa

If you need a massage I beg you to go to Michelle at Elements. I literally just got one and I feel like a new person. She works on your knots, and tension and leaves you feeling like a melted pat of butter. It’s not painful, or hold your breath while she works out a knot… its bliss. Go. Do it. Now.

5. The Breakfast Club

This is a little gem. Forgive me as I get sentimental. Both my sister and I had our first jobs at The Breakfast Club, and its a wonderful old school place for breakfast. The man who hired me, Shawn, is the general manager there and whenever I get the chance to come in, its like being part of a family.

I worked there every Sunday for about 2.5 years. I was paid $5.75 an hour, and got a $5 credit toward breakfast. In a 14yr old’s mind, I hit the jackpot. My favorite two things to order, to this day: Breakfast Burrito. It’s a monster smothered in green chili. My mouth is watering right now. Just trust me on this, no place does it better. Secondly, french toast. There is something about the BC french toast. Its perfect, sweet, and dusted in powdered sugar. How can you go wrong??

I have many other places that I need to go to, but these are my favorites. I also want to write a favorite list for Boulder because I spent the better part of 4 years there. But I hope if you head to Fort Collins you enjoy some of my favorite haunts 🙂

Hope you all are having a great start to your week!

Goin’ Bananaz

Some people are not banana people. I witnessed this many times when I worked at a smoothie and frozen yogurt shop. It was like they had a panic attack just thinking about banana coming near their drink.

” You can take banana out of that right???”

“No ma’am the banana is now fused into the blender, the cup, and your soul. I’m afraid there is no way for me to take the banana out.”

::staring at me with a look of sheer terror::

“Yes, of course I can take the banana out you monkey”

I am a banana person. I like banana bread, strawberry banana smoothies, banana splits, banana pancakes… and I like saying the word banana.

Everybody now… BANANA. Come on its fun!!

So growing up when I smelled banana bread or anything banana of the sort I knew I was going to be happy…

If you don’t agree please immediately get some banana bread, heat it up slightly and put some butta (Paula Dean accent) on it. You will soon want to make out with the loaf of banana bread. You’re welcome.

This is the banana crack of all banana treats. Be prepared, it is sweet, banana-y, and friggen delicious.

Banana Bars

1/2 cup margarine/butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 t. soda
1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
3 ripe bananas (mashed)

You can use half Splenda/sugar if you desire…

Mix wet ingredients first. Combine dry ingredients and then mix into wet ingredients.

Use jelly roll pan, greased and floured. Make sure to shake off any excess flour. Bake at 350-375, 30 minutes

Frost with brown butter frosting
2 T. butter melted
1 t. vanilla adding
1 T. milk
Add powdered sugar to the consistency of “spreadability”
Shake of salt

I hope you make them and enjoy them. And if you are not a banana person, I’m sorry but you cannot take the bananas out of this recipe. That would just be bananas.

FYI: I used the word BANANA 26 times in this post. It’s seriously is a fun word.

Buggin

I feel like I need to check myself into an addiction clinic. Apparently I have a lot of them. I guess I’m programmed to become obsessed with things.

They don’t tend to be harmful though. So that’s something. They also don’t tend to be terribly expensive… I mean we already pay for cable, so my TV addictions are kinda a right off.. ish?

But there is one addiction, one obsession that has a tight grip on me. One that I can’t seem to shake….

I’m a grown adult. But I love me some ladybugs.

It all started when I was around the age of 8. My older sister, Elyse, had decided that she loved butterflies. I witnessed the power that this statement held on her birthday. She had tons of butterfly gifts. As a younger sister, I needed to find someway to copy this concept.

It couldn’t be something to close to a butterfly. I couldn’t choose a monarch just because the butterflies she liked where more colorful. It needed to be something different, something cute… something easy enough to find.

Ladybugs.

Red and Black. Cute. Tons of different items and options.

It started out simple enough. Some jewelry here. Some dorky clothes there….

But ladybugs took on a life of their own. It become a comfort thing to me. Whenever I saw ladybug stuff in a store, it made me smile… like it was there especially for me. And then my friends would say they thought of me when they saw a ladybug ____. It’s nice to have something that makes people think of me out of the blue 🙂

The good thing is that my mom has gotten especially creative on ladybug items. She knows I have plenty of earrings and I have more than enough ladybug stuffed animal (stuffed bugs?) but how fun are these??

Friends and family have joined in too… and I love my bugs. They make me smile and I remember everyone who gets me a new ladybug…

My college roommate got me this flattened wine bottle with the awesome Ladybug White label on it.

Trevor’s grandmother got me a ladybug pillow pal 🙂

And my parents gave me this yard flag when they came to visit.

Yes they are silly. No I probably don’t need them. But they are cute and make me happy. And well, I don’t care, I like them 🙂

Now if you see ladybugs I hope it makes you smile or roll your eyes because you know someone who really loves them. And maybe if it’s really cool you can tell me where to get it!

Do you have anything you collect? Something that people associate with you?

Final Rose

I, Jennifer, have an addiction to The Bachelor/The Bachelorette. I watch every week as someone “leaves broken-hearted”. I can’t help myself, I am deeply involved in the drama of finding their one true love.

Don’t judge me! I “know” it’s not all real, that scenes are set up, and their kisses aren’t natural.

But still it’s humorous and entertaining. It’s like watching a frat house fight over one girl… That concept clearly stamps “watch this ridiculously over-the-top reality show”.

I do as they say.

Tonight is, as Chris Harrison would say, is the final rose. Who will she choose? Who will leave devastated?!? Oh the drama.

Please allow me to introduce you to the Final Fellows:

  

Ben F.

Or as a fellow blogger calls , “Cave Groban”. This shaggy haired, Josh Groban doppelgänger, wine making man has won Ashley over with his gentle, sensitive nature. Laid back and sweet he has slowly come out of his shell and I’ve liked him more each episode.

Funniest Moment: Hearing the voice he uses for his dog, which sounds like a smurf
Biggest Turn Off: The stringy long hair… It just needs to be cut. Desperately
Cute Quality: His relationship with his family, obviously a strong and protective relationship with his mom and sister
Reason They Could Last: They both are equally quirky and it’s a believable relationship in that you can see their growing comfort level with each other.

J.P.

The guy that everyone liked from the start has made it to the final episode. He’s been pretty adorable with his nice smile, gentlemanly ways, and obvious crush on Ashley. He’s been pretty honest about how much he cares about Ashley from the get go… It’s endearing and sweet and you’re cheering for him cause he’s talked numerous times about a horribly bad break up from his last relationship.
Funniest Moment: Some of his kisses with Ashley make me laugh. It’s like he’s to nervous to actually go for it. Some of them are like bad junior high kisses,  he’s unsure of how to do it.
Biggest Turn Off: he’s been a little jealous Joe on the show. Could spell trouble for the post show tabloid bananza.
Cute Quality: Protectiveness. J.P. has put up with Ashley’s whines about other guys, and guys showing up after they’ve been kicked off and generally is most concerned with how she is. He’s always supportive and has been a good guy for when she’s needed a shoulder to cry on.
Reason They Could Last: The whole season they’ve seemed most at ease when they’re together. I feel like I can see them being home bodies together, watching movies and ordering take-out.

Yes I’m pathetic and analyze this show like a nerd! I’ve watched it since I was in junior high! Everybody has a guilty pleasure and this is mine!

So tonight I’ll be watching, glued to the drama… Switching back and forth about who I think will win. I’ll ignore phone calls and ask for quiet unless it’s a commercial. God help me, I’m addicted to this shallow vapid show!!

Who do you think will win?
Do you have a bad TV show addiction?

Berry Delicious

Little known fact: Alaska has wild berries growing ALL over. Up and down the streets, in fields, backyards, everywhere! So what’s a girl to do while she takes the dog for a walk but to pick some of these juicy, tart, sweet things?

Careful though… you might find some friends are hanging out by the berries too…

I don’t know what these ones are exactly. They look raspberry like, but not quite…

See the difference? It doesn’t have the raspberry cave, and the cluster is a bit different.

But I definitely knew what these were…

Blueberries!!! YAYYYY!!! Blueberries and I are BFF.

So I ended up with a pretty good size container of mixed wild berries.

Now in my family we have an obsession with this pie. It has turned into an enigma.We have it for birthdays, for celebrations, for nights when you need to use tons of berries. It’s just plain lick your fingers delicious. It’s supposed to be made with Huckleberries, but unless you have a hook up to WA then these suckers are HARD to find. So substitutions are ok and welcome!

Huckleberry Heaven Pie:

Heat until thick, stirring often:
• 2 cups of berries (use a mix of whatever is available – raspberries, strawberries,
blueberries, blackberries; or use frozen berries)
• ½ cup sugar ( I used 1/4c sugar, 1/4c Splenda)
• 1 Tbsp. cornstarch

Remove from burner and cool.

In separate bowl, beat until smooth and creamy:
• 8 oz. cream cheese
• ½ cup sugar ( I used 1/4c sugar, 1/4c Splenda)

Combine with 1 cup whipped cream (can whip your own, or use Cool Whip – (not fat free)).

Spoon into a graham cracker crust.

Top with cooled berry mixture.

My mouth is watering… I need one of these pies.. now

Now go get you some berries!!

A Dark Place

Friends… I was in a dark dark place the last few days. It was lonely, I felt isolated and sad. Out of touch with the “real world”.

I didn’t have a cellphone for 5 days.

Five days. 5 days!!!!!! Its hitting you now.. I can see it. The look of horror mixed with pity.

That’s right for 5 days I was a lone soldier facing the world without my iPhone.

It was a dark place guys. I had plugged my phone into the computer and it apparently needed an updated. The update instead sent shock waves through my life… It MADE me, twisted my arm, and snarled “You must ‘restore’ your iPhone”. These words made my blood run cold. Would my phone be ok? Would all of my precious apps remain? Would it be the same?!?!

No. It wouldn’t. The restore kicked my poor little phone off of the Verizon network. Which in Alaska means you’re SOL. We don’t have Verizon up here, and we’re really just piggy backing onto a local cellphone network. So when your iPhone needs life support it has to be overnight-ed (2-nighted in AK) to the trauma center.

Well not really. It just goes to Seattle. But still its traumatic.

So they fixed my phone, linked it up to the towers again and then my brave phone made its way back to me.

So in honor of my sad-lonely-no-phone days here are the apps I can’t live without… well not again at least:

This app is my long lost exercise lover. It is by far the best exercising app I’ve found. This little baby is packed with tons of different options, exercises, challenge levels, and oh by the way IT’S FREE.

 

 

Its genius really. The app lets you choose what kind of workout you’re looking for, what level you are fitness wise (beginner, intermediate, or expert), and what time limit. You can even do their Focus workouts to target specific areas. The app will sync up with your iTunes music that’s on your apple device and then direct you/encourage you/kick you butt through the work out. Seriously give this a shot. I really loved having it while on vacation so that I could get quick 30-45min workouts in without evening leaving the hotel.

 

 

 

AllRecipes Dinner Spinner. This thing is magic. Pure dinner/menu planning magic. The app allows you to search AllRecipes.com gigantic selection of popular recipes. Either by a specific recipe name, ingredient or even nutritional information this app will search for the dinner you’re craving. I’ve used my app to focus a grocery shopping trip, use up whats in my fridge or save recipes I’d like to tackle later. It also allows you to email recipes to friends, which makes for easy swapping after a successful meal. The Dinner Spinner has a free version and then a Pro that is a fee, but I’ve gotten on just find with the cheap-o version.

 

Finally I love Kayak Flight Status. Another free app that gives me sanity! This app will look up your flight with flight numbers, departure times, airlines and routes. Where this info is key for me is it constantly updates arrival times, gate information and even baggage claim. This is mostly handy for me when I’m doing airport runs to pick up friends, family, visitors, etc. Instead of having to bug them for all the information I can usually figure it out myself, and then I’ll know exactly when they arrive. Definitely takes the guess work out of flying, no more arriving to pick someone up that won’t land for another hour 🙂

Now that I’m back in the era of cellphones, I’m off to call everyone in my phone book and tell them how much I missed the idea that they could call me wherever I was…

Mad About

I am currently in a deep and committed relationship with “Mad Men”. My lovely friend has allowed me to plop myself in front of her television to continue my affair weekly. I’m seriously smitten.

Have you started a love affair with a TV series? I’ve had several trysts with Friends, Gilmore Girls, Sex and the City, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, and now Mad Men. I find every year or so I delve into a TV show so deeply that I can’t help myself… I watch episode after episode, season after season. I can’t get enough.
 

 

And then its over…

Mad Men has been a really interesting show to get wrapped up in. Between the subtle foreshadowing, the clothes, the advertising, and the beat-you-over-the-head sexism, I am infatuated.

Tonight I’ll be heading over for another fix… watching as the wife of the ad exec primps her hair for his return, as the ad exec has ANOTHER whiskey…

You gotta get in on this.

Do you guys have any show addictions? Something you couldn’t stop watching?