Fun: 10 Questions From Poptart Yogini

My friend Poptart Yogini recently posted 10 questions for her blogger friends to answer. I am a sucker for posts like these and these questions are pretty thoughtful. (PS – are you reading her blog? Check it out!)

  1. would you rather be able to dance, sing or draw? Dance! This girl has no rhythm, as much as I try!
  2. on pinterest, would you rather have the clothes you pinned appear in your closet, the decor you pinned show up in your house (and you can change it as you please) or have the recipes you pinned show up on your kitchen table? I vote decor – I have no concept of home design so it’d be fun to mix-n-match till I find a look that works.
  3. for the next five years, which five countries would you like to live in, changing every year (you would still work and have a life.  this is not a vacation.  feel free to state a city too)? (Nantes, )France; Costa Rica; (Toky0,) Japan; Scotland; Canada
  4. for the next five years, which five states would you like to live in, changing every year (you would still work and have a life.  this is not a vacation.  feel free to state a city too)? I’d hate to leave Denver but if I had to… Chicago, IL; New York City, NY (just for 1 year, right?!); San Francisco, CA; Portland, OR; Minneapolis, MN.
  5. in what event would you most like to win an olympic gold medal? My teenage dream was to be on the Women’s Olympic Volleyball team!
  6. which disney princess do you want to be? Meh – maybe Princess FIONA (is that Disney?) I like that she was different and independent. I guess Belle from Beauty and The Beast was too.
  7. if you were hosting snl, who would you want to be the musical guest? Ryan Adams.
  8. if you could take one class at hogwarts, what would it be? (Never seen or read Harry Potter books… can’t answer!)
  9. would you rather have the power to see the future or fix the past? I think see parts of the future – I don’t want to know everything!
  10. what is your favorite pop tart flavor (i’m running out of creative juices for questions and well you know, i’m a fan)?I don’t eat ’em – I did love Strawberry as a kid, though. 

Your turn! If you so choose to answer these, leave a comment below with your post! I’d love to read your responses.


Health: A Visit To The Chiropractor

It’s been 3 weeks since I woke up with extreme lower back pain and tightness. The tightness comes and goes – some days I can bend more than others – but it’s been constantly tight and sore. When the pain showed no signs of fixing itself, I started asking for recommendations for a local chiropractor.

If you’re like me and have never been to a chiropractor, you may be wondering what exactly does a chiropractor do? What is an appointment like? I’m not sure how typical or not my appointment is but this was my experience.

Yesterday at 4:30 p.m. was my first ever chiropractor appointment and I had NO idea what to expect. I went in with some reservations (are they going to listen to me? are they going to tell me what is wrong? or will they just crack my back and send me on my way?) and an open mind. Many of my friends (and you readers!) swear by the chiropractor so the least I could do was give it a fair shot.

(Oh crap… do I have to take my shirt off?!)

I walked into the small office and filled out new patient paperwork – describing my issue, other medical conditions that may be affecting or a result of back pain, etc.

I was then brought into a small exam room to talk with the doctor – we reviewed my paperwork and I described my pain to him and that this was my first appointment. He explained what the rest of the appointment would entail and told me not to be nervous. He would help me if he could and refer me to someone else if he couldn’t.

After our short chat, I was brought over to a different exam room where one of the assistants too my vitals and a photo for their records. This was the first appointment I’d been to that required a photo.

They used this fancy thing to take my blood pressure and pulse – it was big and bulky and felt almost like I was wearing my Garmin. It goes on the wrist and tightens much like the arm cuffs do but is more accurate, the assistant told me – no human error with counting.

I also stood on 2 scales to determine how I carried my weight – did I lean to one side more than the other?

I’m not sure how accurate this was for me – since she told me what it was measuring, I made sure to stand flatly with my weight evenly distributed (my numbers were essentially the same on each scale – 79.1, 79.1). If she had told me just to stand on the scales, I wonder if my reading would have been different.

Next the assistant took 4 xrays – 2 of my neck, 2 of my lower back – to determine if there were any fractures and to assess how my bones/spine is aligned. I never saw my xrays so I’m not sure what, if anything, they revealed.

After vitals, scales and xrays, it was time for the roller tables. The main space in the center of this chiropractor’s office was an open room full of these roller tables.

I laid down on my back with my head towards the wall, feet where the pillow is placed.  That white towel is a heating pad and directly below that is a hole in the table the length of my back. I got situated on the table and the assistant turned on the rollers – a rhythmic roller rubbed up and down my spine while the heat warmed my back to help loosen the muscles. I was on the table for about 10 minutes. It was a very strange sensation but as the minutes went by, my back did feel like it’d loosened up a bit.

After my time on the table was up, it was back into another exam room, with another crazy looking table. This time, the doctor came in and pulled my arms and legs to ‘re-align’ (see also: pop) my shoulders and hips. I laid on my stomach and he cracked my upper back. Then I stood against a wall and he popped a different part of my back.

And that was it.

In this last exam room, he told me that my xrays showed that my pelvis was twisted (which way? how? why?) and that it looked like I had experienced a trauma to my next at some point – had I been in a car accident? (no, never. Never had a neck injury or problems). He’d told me that my back probably hurt from a pinched nerve which could be attributed to a number of things like swimming, yoga, walking, volleyball (even though some of these are no/low impact and one I’m not playing and haven’t since September).

I never saw my xrays and don’t feel like I got a straight answer about why my back was hurting and what I could do to fix it. When he said pinched nerve, I asked if they go away on their own or was there something I should be doing to fix it? He said that I should come back Tuesday or Wednesday for another treatment (roller table + back cracking) and we could talk about it then.

At $40 an appointment, I don’t have the money to just stop in for a back cracking and some chit chat twice a week. Especially when my back isn’t feeling any better. I expected that I would have gotten better answers and a plan for what I can do to help my back get better. But I didn’t.

Is this typical of a chiropractor’s visit? I feel pretty disappointed in the experience – I wanted answers, I want my back pain to go away and I don’t want to drop $80 (and only 40 minutes per appointment) this week to talk to the doctor about it.

Knee: 4 and 6 Month Surgery Check Up

Friday I went to my knee doctor for a 4 and 6 month check up on my knees. Under normal knee surgery circumstances, I would only be seeing my doctor if I was having pain or issues with my knee but because I’m part of a study with the DeNovo product. (DeNovo NT is the name of the graft that was implanted into my knee)

What this appointment meant was a quick visit with my doc to check out swelling (none), movement (full range) and strength (getting there) and then lots of paperwork to complete about my knees.

For surgery follow-up, I’m tasked with rating my pain and ability to perform certain tasks post-surgery. I completed the same questionnaire before surgery (for both knees) and will complete the same/similar questionnaires through the balance of the study (specified intervals for 5 years).

It was fun to answer the same questions post-surgery because I remember what I marked pre-surgery and it reminded me how much better my knees are now. Since surgery, I threw down my crutches and haven’t looked back and this appointment forced me to consider how far I’ve come.

I was also given the 100% green light to start running, jumping, doing impact activities again. I know I’d run a few times 5+ weeks ago and I shouldn’t have – I was so anxious and excited to see what I could do that I didn’t want to wait. When my left knee (most recent surgery) became sore, I stopped all running. Sometimes my left knee is still sore – because it’s only been 4.5 months since I had SURGERY on it (duh, Lynne) but I know it’s not because my implant is ‘broken’, it’s just because it’s still healing.

In the Colfax 5k race that Alex and I did this past weekend, we ran the first mile and my knee felt great! It was a bit sore on Sunday but it’s back to normal today.

After this, my next post-surgery check up will be in 6 months – and I think it entails an MRI, too. I’m very curious to see what my ‘new’ knee looks like on the scan! (pre-surgery MRI images here)


I’ve been having back pain for 3+ weeks now. I’m taking y’alls advice and scheduled a chiropractor appointment for this afternoon. My fingers are crossed for a magic adjustment and that I leave the appointment with no back pain/tightness!

Fitness: Colfax 5K Run

Once upon a time, I signed up for 2 very ambitious races before I was even off crutches from surgery. I registered for the Cherry Creek Sneak 5 mile race – which I slept through – and the Colfax Urban 10 mile race.

Spoiler: I didn’t run the Colfax 10 miler.

The 10 mile race was this morning and I am in no shape to be running 2 miles, let alone 10. I had a brief stint of running (when I SHOULDN’T have been running) and called it quits when my left knee (most recent surgery) felt really sore.  So I’d planned to drop to the 5k weeks ago – even without running, I can still finish a 5k.

But even a 5k requires carbo-loading the night before (Friday).

Alex and I really dig the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix. We make and eat pizza probably every other week using this crust – it takes a fraction of the time of real dough and it’s tasty! This pizza had diced tomato, red onion, fresh jalapeno and turkey bacon. And LOTS of mozzarella cheese. Mmmm.

I was on beer duty last night and picked up 2 6-packs of beer that hail from the cities/states/region where we’ll be honeymooning in September. (Honeymoon post on Wednesday!)

This Deshutes Red Chair NWPA is good! I’m a big fan of hoppy beers like IPAs so the Northwest Pale Ale variety caught my attention at the liquor store. It’s less hoppy than an IPA and has a nice citrus aroma.

We woke up on Saturday morning for the Colfax 5k run only to find cold, gray and rainy skies out the window. For my first ‘race morning’ in a very long time, it was hard to get excited about getting out the door, knowing we’d be walking in the rain. But we changed our clothes, grabbed extra sweatshirts and sweatpants for the post-race warm up.

We got to the race and parked at 8:40 a.m. for a 9 a.m. start. The timing was perfect – Alex and I were able to find the tent to change our numbers from the 10 mile to 5k (should have been done at the expo Friday night but the Race Day Registration tent helped us out), pin on our numbers and get to the corral to start just moments before the race started.

Serendipitously, the rain stopped for a few minutes as the race gun went off and the first racers took off. Alex and I started off running at an easy, comfortable pace and made it just under the 1 mile marker before I needed to slow down. My body is not used to running! My knees and back felt okay but my muscles and lungs were dying.

We walked the rest of the race at a brisk pace. The rain drizzled most of the time with spurts of harder rain – it was very cold! My back really started to hurt at mile 2.5 (I am making a chiropractor appointment on Monday!) but my knees held up the entire time. I’m not 100% sure what our finishing time was – I never had a time goal for this race – but I think we finished in about 45 minutes.

I really appreciated Alex walking with me – he could have coped out and stayed home, under the warm covers, but he wanted to be out on the course with me. We spent the 3.1 miles talking and laughing, just being ourselves. No distractions, no other obligations. No talking or stressing about work or the wedding. Just being together. This paragraph is so sappy but spending the morning with my guy was the highlight of the race for me.

(Holla SparklySoul headband!)

…Until we finished and got to the food. (Kidding!)

But seriously, after we finished, we bee-lined for the food, hoping for coffee or hot chocolate – something to warm us up! Instead, we found the Garbanzo table!

They were handing out little plates of their pita sandwiches – a pita wedge, vegetable salad and your choice of hummus, tabuleh  and garlic dressing. Alex grabbed one but I didn’t. I wasn’t in the mood for Mediterranean food at 10 a.m.

Just past the Garbanzo table, I spotted a great big familiar looking bus – ELBY the LOVE bus!

Love Grown Foods is a Boulder-based granola company that makes some kick-ass granola. I love local companies who support local races!

The team was handing out little cups of Sweet Cranberry Pecan granola with a scoop of Brown Cow Yogurt. THIS is what I want to eat post-3 mile run/walk.

 There were tables with bagels, Sport Beans, Popchips, Body Glide, Pepsi Next (I grabbed one – 1 can is only 60 calories) and water. We found the coffee table at the end, grabbed a cup and headed back to the car. Once we stopped walking, the rain and wind really made us cold.

Despite the weather, it was a really great morning. I’m proud of myself for not chickening out and not going to the race – I had a long internal debate when I woke up about going: If I wasn’t running, did I want to just walk 3 miles in the rain? But I already paid for the registration so I should at least go get my shirt & other goodies, right? Did I care about the shirt THAT much? But I wanted to get my shirt and post-race swag, run my legs a little bit and walk my legs the rest of the way. It would have been easier and warmer to stay home but I didn’t.

Today was the Colfax 10 mile, half and full marathons – it was a much sunnier and drier morning/day for these longer races! It’s been fun to watch friends finish via Facebook and Twitter – congrats, guys! Hopefully next year, I’ll be ready to really run one of these races next year too!

Fun: My Love Affair with NPR and This American Life Live

I ‘discovered’ NPR in college through my favorite radio station, WNKU. Cincinnati radio is pretty dismal – made up of top 40, hard rock, oldies, easy listening and Christian stations. WNKU was different – it was a neighboring college’s excellent alternative radio station playing Rock, Soul, Blues, News and More.

The News part came in the form of NPR and once I started co-oping (interning but it took place of school classes and I got paid), I listened to NPR on the way to my job in the morning and on the way home in the evenings. Soon, it was the only radio station I listened to. WNKU gave me my first taste of NPR programing like World Cafe with David Dye and E-Town (which is recorded in Boulder!).

After moving to Denver and finding my local NPR station, KUNC, I happened to be in the car one Saturday morning and caught my first ever This American Life show. Each week, the host Ira Glass, features a theme and brings the listeners a variety of stories and perspectives about that theme. Themes range from switched at birth (<–it happened!) to garbage to the middle of the night. Each show is thought-provoking and interesting. It’s hard to turn it off because you want to find out how the story ends.

This American Life is, no contest, my favorite radio show. So when I saw on Twitter this week that This American Life was broadcasting a live show in theaters (the Invisible made Visible show) I knew I was going to get my butt to a theater and see it.

The show originally live broadcast on Thursday, May 10th at select theaters across America, Canada and even as far as Australia! Earlier this week on Tuesday, a few theaters were showing the taped show again – with only 4 theaters in the Denver and surrounding metro areas, I was lucky to find a theater relatively close by in Lakewood (15 minute drive from my apartment). I excitedly bought tickets for me and Alex – I couldn’t wait to SEE the voices I’ve come to instantly recognize and love!

The show was fantastic – it was 2 hours long and set up into 4 acts, just like the radio show. In between acts, the show featured dance, music (with OKGO!), a short film and a segment about photography. I won’t spoil any of the stories by describing them here – you should check your local NPR station and find out when this week’s This American Life is on and catch the radio version!

I will leave you with this humorous short film, created by Mike Birbiglia, that debuted during the orignal live show.

Well, readers, thank you so much for coming out to read  my blog.  (<–I love Terry Gross!)

If you haven’t heard This American Life, I highly recommend giving it a listen! There’s also a TV show version that you can find on the This American Life website.  

Are you an NPR listener? (<–is that ‘an’ or ‘a’? I know ‘a’ is grammatically correct.. but I would say ‘an’.) What’s your favorite show?

I also love Car Talk, Fresh Air, Marketplace, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me… actually, there isn’t a show that I don’t like!


Health: Killer Back Pain

For 2 full weeks now, I have had KILLER lower back pain. Like, can’t bend over to put my shoes or pants on, can’t sit comfortably, and can’t twist to look behind me. Holy moley!

It started the day after I swam + did yoga the same day. I woke up on Monday with a very stiff lower back – like nothing I’d ever felt before! The first few days were the worst and I chalked it up to 2 workouts that overworked my hamstrings. I tried stretching out my very tight hamstrings and as the week went on, the stiffness and pain seemed to dissipate.. a little.

After 2 flights, 1+ hour on-flight delay, 7+ hours in a car and many hours sitting this past week, I nearly cried Friday night because my back hurt so bad and was so stiff. I stopped at the grocery store on my way home to pick up some Bengay Ultra Strength pain relieving heat patches, ibuprofen and a bottle of wine – all necessities for back pain relief.

Some of the ladies at the conference I was at suggested a deep tissue massage to help loosen up the muscles in my lower back so I recruited my strong-armed fiance to rub my back. When he put pressure right outside of the bone, it hurt in the best way possible. After, I had him put on the Bengay patch and for the first time in 2 weeks, I could bend over! 

I woke up this morning feeling okay – not as much pain as previous days but still a dull throbbing. I went to a Hot Power Fusion yoga class this morning (hot room, less flow and more strong poses and stretching) to loosen up and still can’t seem to shake this pain. So until it vanishes (tonight, please?!) or I get to the chiropractor this week, I’ll be sporting my newest fragrance – Eau de Bengay.

If you’ve ever had killer back pain – please help! What should I be trying before I head to the doctor? Besides another glass of wine, of course – I’m already on that one!

Food: Travel Food + Tips

Whew! Day 3 in Missouri, day 1 of the official conference (kicked off with dinner + bar party at ‘Shorty Pants’ last night) and I am tired!

Something I do when I travel (which is frequently for my job) is to bring some snacks with me to eat because, especially on work trips, I don’t know when or where I’ll be able to get my meals or snacks. I’d rather bring something that I know is (mostly) good for me and tasty than to be stuck hungry and at a fast food joint with a rumbling tummy.

For this trip, I had the luxury of packing Blend treats in addition to my own. Some easy travel snacks I packed this trip include:

Popcorn (homemade)

I always bring my own water bottle (and usually my travel mug for tea) because I cannot stand spending $2+ on a bottle of water. It’s WATER!

This Bobo’s Oat Bar bar was excellent for a car ride. And tasted exactly like banana bread. LGSMASH approved!

More snacks!


An apple, more popcorn, The Simply Bar & Pure Bliss Eats granola.

LGSMASH tips for travel snack food:

  • Bring your own. Yes, you can buy smart snacks but I much prefer bringing food that I already know is good and that I like.
  • Think small! A big ass grapefruit will not travel well (trust me, I tried). Stick to something hand held size. You can pack more snacks and they’ll easily fit in your purse or backpack.
  • Think portable. Each item I bring is self contained – individual bags of popcorn or granola bars, single apple. They require no additional equipment, no additional or special attention.
  • Think WHOLE foods. When I travel for work, I don’t always have the ability to choose my meals (case in point: buffet of foods for dinner at the conference that I never would have ordered myself but a girl’s gotta eat! Maybe not cake AND cheesecake… but hey). So I try to pack good-for-me and whole foods so I am doing my body at least a little good.

And – if you’re ever traveling through the Denver International Airport, Terminal A, and are looking for a healthy meal option, go upstairs to Mesa Verde. Amid Pizza Hut, Ben & Jerry’s, Hope’s Cookies and Micky D’s, Mesa Verde offers a build-your-own burrito bowl/salad that kicks booty.

They don’t offer a ‘salad’ option but if you ask for no rice and extra lettuce, you have a salad! I like: lettuce, tomato salsa, 1/2 scoop of black beans, shredded chicken, fresh jalapeno and guacamole. Always the guac.

PS. DIA has a cool feature on their site that lists all the restaurants by terminal, food type, cost and amenity. It’s a slick way to plan ahead and see what foods will be available before your flight or during a layover.

Now that I’m in the thick of ‘travel season’ – I’m looking for new snacks to bring! What travel snacks to do you like to keep you energized and feeling good? I can only eat so much popcorn! (<– Not true. I could eat popcorn on end. But I do need more variety in my snacks!)

Fitness: Adult Swim Lessons

I made it back to the pool yesterday after a weekend hiatus to spend time with fabulous ladies at Blend. I expected the swim to be a bit rough after 3+ days off (I’m not great at swimming) but it wasn’t too bad.

I’m following this 0 to 1650 plan to build up my endurance to swim 1 mile for the Under Armour What’s Beautiful challenge. Technically, I should be on Week 2 but I’m going to be out of town this week with likely no access to a lap pool so I am going to keep Week 1 as my workout for this week, too.

Last night’s workout:

  • Warm up: 100m kick
  • 4 x 100 (12 breaths rest)
  • 4 x 50 / 4 x 50 kick (alternating)
  • 4 x 25 (4 breaths rest)

I can feel myself getting a bit stronger but I’m not really getting any better at swimming. I don’t have the proper form and once I start to get tired, I really struggle with maintaining any sort of pace or breath.

So while I was checking in at the YMCA, I asked about adult swim lessons! I felt silly asking – doesn’t everyone already know how to swim? I mean, swim lessons are for little kids, right?

Nope! The YMCA offers a few different options of swim classes (group, one-on-one, masters swim) that I’m looking in to. I want to improve my form and technique. When I watch other people swim, they splash a LOT less than I do and don’t look like they feel like they’re dying, like I do.

The coolest part about asking about swim lessons: In the locker room after I changed into my swim suit, a very nice older woman approached me and asked if I was the one who’d inquired about swim lessons. She had been checking in as I was speaking with the YMCA staff. She told me she’s always wanted to learn to swim but always thought she was too old. But after hearing me ask, I inspired her to get the swim lesson information and she plans to sign up for the summer group lessons. Too cool! If that’s not FitFluential, I don’t know what is.

After getting home, I broke into some Blend treats.

Homemade Birthday Cake Fudge from Colorado Fudge Maker

O.M.G. I don’t have a sweet tooth but this was the BOMB. It tasted just like confetti cake!

I also enjoyed my Ginger Cherry juice from CheriBundi. I tried a sample of the Ginger Cherry this weekend after Tiffany and Lena raved about it and I am on board. It’s less tart than normal cherry juice but still packs a nice punch.

One thing I look for when I buy juice is that it’s 100% juice. I’m not down with the watered down or processed stuff. If I’m going to drink juice, I want to drink JUICE! I choose pure fruit juice.

CheriBundi has 5 flavors in total – I foolishly didn’t try any of the others while I was at Blend but I’m keeping my eyes open when I’m at the store! Cacao Cherry is too intriguing!

Today, I’m off to Lake Ozark, MO for work for the week. A short plane flight + 3 hour drive to the lake = a LONG travel day. Good thing I packed some snacks!

Fun: Blend Retreat 2012

This weekend was full of blogger, friends and fun! Bloggers who were online friends who became real life friends and bloggers who became new real life friends and are now online friends.

This weekend was the first annual Blend Retreat. I’d never been to a blogger conference before (mostly a logistics and lack-of-extra money problem) but when I learned about Blend and that it was to be held in Boulder (a short 35+ minutes from Denver), I jumped on a ticket.

For me and Tiffany, our Blend weekend started a day early when Lauren got into town and invited us to meet her and her husband, Greg, for a drink at the wonderful RootDown in Denver. They were meeting friends for dinner so Tiffany and I stayed for a drink and bowed out when their friends arrived.

(Lauren’s photo)

Lauren’s blog is one I read regularly and someone I was really looking forward to meeting in person this weekend. And I’m happy to say, she’s just a fun in ‘real life’ as she is on her blog! :)

Friday night was the official kick-off for Blend and the group had a wonderful, gourmet dinner and dessert… So I heard. Because the retreat was held in Boulder and both Tiffany and I worked on Friday (and planned to carpool this weekend), we decided to not stress about getting up to Boulder for dinner on Friday. I also felt it was very important to spend a night with Alex – he worked 12 days straight (full Saturday and Sunday work days) and I am leaving on a business trip on Tuesday – Friday. So it was important to me to spend a date night with him if I was going to be gone all Saturday and Sunday.

Next year, though, I would definitely make plans to get out of work early to make it to dinner because it’s the first time everyone is new. And I heard the food and cupcakes were excellent!

Lindsay, Janetha and Katie could not have picked a better spot for this retreat – Boulder is easily accessible from the Denver Airport and is a great little city with a lot of character and at the base of the beautiful Flatiron mountains. And Denver/Boulder/Colorado is an active place with a giant outdoor playground – no better place for a bunch of women who enjoy health, fitness and food to spend a weekend!

(Tiffany’s photo)

I met Tiffany bright and early on Saturday to trek up to Boulder to meet the group for a fun day of hiking, Boulder beers and margaritas! But first – breakfast.

Breakfast was provided by XAGAVE which I’m very interested to try. I’ve heard about agave sweeteners but haven’t wanted to shell out the money to just try it at the grocery store.  So these little packets and the sample bottle they sent us home with will be perfect for trying! Apparently I can swap this stuff for sugar for fewer calories and less sugar… Very interesting!

After breakfast, it was time to head out for a nice, easy 4 mile hike.

(Kelly’s photo)

Hiking a popular trail with 70+ girls raises a lot of eyes and questions from the locals – in a good way!

We hiked the Royal Arch trail at the Boulder Flatirons which was literally, right across the parking lot from the cabins. I’ve hiked this trail once before but this hike was not as easy as I remembered it – lots of elevation gain in the 2 mile hike to the summit.

(Tiffany’s photo)

But the view from the top was worth it – a giant, natural arch!

More photos here.

2.5 hours later, the hike was over and it was time to EAT! Some of the group decided to hit up the Boulder Farmer’s Market, some went to a CorePower Yoga class and the rest of us went to Mountain Sun Pub for lunch.

(Lauren’s photo)

One buffalo chicken sandwich, copious fries and a beer (FYIPA) recharged my batteries instantly.

Next, we were off to Avery Brewery’s Tasting Room for some local beer. Avery’s tasting room is easy to miss – it’s in an industrial park, off the main drag. They have indoor and outdoor seating and offer a nice selection of their beers and a decent menu of food.

These little samples were only $1 and are the exact right size to get a feel for the beer. I only ordered samples – it was nice to try a variety of Avery’s beers that I hadn’t tried before. We had a large group at Avery and it was really nice to have some casual downtime to chat with girls I hadn’t gotten a chance to spend time with yet (Hi Kim! Hi Calee!)

A couple of hours at Avery later, stomachs started to rumble again. Trying to figure out what 20+ girls want to eat for dinner is no small feat – fortunately for us, it was Cinco de Mayo so, of course, we had to eat Mexican food. Many of us ended up at the Rio Grande in Boulder which is famous for strong margaritas.

Because our group was so large, we ate in tables of 4 rather than as a large group. I enjoyed my dinner with Lauren and her husband and Tiffany and then it was time to head back to Denver and faceplant in my bed.

Most of the girls stayed on-site in the cabins at Chautauqua Park – many of us Denver attendees did not. However, next year, I would absolutely stay in the cabins. Even though we’re only 40 minutes away, it would have been worth the time and money to stay with the rest of the group.

Sunday morning came WAY too early and Tiffany and I were back on the road to Boulder for breakfast and the ‘closing ceremony’. Sunday’s breakfast was provided by the retreat’s main sponsor, Chobani – and we even had the pleasure of meeting Lindsay and Emily from Chobani! These ladies are handle the social media and blogger relationships with Cho – it was really cool to meet the people behind the popular brand. And even cooler when they remember who you are just by name!

For the closing ceremony, Lindsay, Janetha and Katie raffled off prizes from the very generous sponsors of Blend. Everyone walked away with a gift – from Bob’s Red Mill gift certificates to boxes of ProBar to Keurig Coffee Machines, these giveaways ROCKED! I went home with a box of Peanut Butter Chocolate Simply Bars.

We had time for a group photos before it was time for the cabin dwellers to check out and girls had to make their way back to the airport to head home. The weekend was over just as quickly as it began.

(Lauren’s photo)

(Tiffany’s photo)

It was such a fun weekend and I’m already excited for Blend 2013. My fingers are crossed for another weekend in Boulder next year – it’s such a beautiful and accessible location!

When I got home on Sunday afternoon, I finally had a chance to dig through the Swag Bag we were given. The Blend sponsors seriously rock – they hooked us up! My arm hurt from carrying this in from the car – this bag was so heavy. Seriously!

I am looking forward to tasting and trying all of these goodies over the next days and weeks!

I will definitely go to Blend again next year – Boulder or not. The ticket cost was so reasonable compared to other blog get-togethers – only $70! Such a great deal considering the food and swag we were given. How can you say no?!

For those who are interested in attending next year: I highly recommend staying in the cabins with the group and not missing out on Friday’s dinner. I had a fantastic time but did feel like I missed out (my own doing). There was a bootcamp Saturday and Sunday morning at 7 a.m. that I could not pull myself out of bed early enough to make it to Boulder in time but if I’d been in the cabins, I could have woken up later than I did t0 drive and walked outside and been able to participate. Lesson learned!

I would also bring a real camera. I relied on my cell phone which is having major issues so I didn’t get as many photos as I would have wanted. Luckily – everyone else took photos. The beauty of a blogger event.

I met some really beautiful and inspiring women this weekend who have become really great friends (and so many Colorado bloggers I didn’t know were out there!). Lindsay, Janetha and Katie did a phenomenal job organizing this event – everything went off without a hitch and everyone enjoyed their weekend to the max. It was so nice to get together and just hang out! No speakers, no sessions, no pressure. Just a weekend to meet, mingle and make friends.

If Blend isn’t on your radar for next year, it needs to be!

Food: Foods I'm Loving Right Now

In no particular order, here are some food stuffz I’m loving:

1. Salmon. It was on sale last week at Kroger King Soopers so I bought 2 lbs, cut into 6 servings. I ate 4, Alex got 2. So good, so easy to make and so healthy. I really like cooked salmon the next day for lunch… cold.

2. Stone Ground Mustard. This stuff is the bees knees. Great on lunch sandwiches (with Udis Gluten Free Bread!), grilled chicken or hamburger patties. It costs a bit more and you get a bit less than ‘normal’ spicy mustard – worth it!

(P.S. WordPress isn’t letting me rotate that photo. Sorry folks.)

3. The Best Homemade French Fries. Ever. I have tried making homemade french fries in a myriad of different ways. Then, I remembered these delicious looking fries from Susan’s blog. Made them 2x (see Salmon above) in 3 days last week. So effin’ good! Who knew parboiling was the trick?!

And yes, I ate 2 hamburger patties. The cheeseless one fell on the ground and the cheese fell off… and I ate it anyway. You say, ‘GROSS!’, I say, ‘HUNGRY!’

4. Chocolate Chip Cookies. Made these with Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk (same recipe as here). Just as tasty! Unfortunately, most of the 3 dozen I made went to feed Alex’s office. But I kept a few for us. #BreakfastOfChampions

5. LaMar’s Donuts. Ho-LY COW. I’ve heard a lot about LaMar’s since moving to Denver but in the 3 years (exactly! Today!) I’ve lived here, I hadn’t gotten my mouth on one. This morning at my office’s brunch potluck, my world changed. Best. Donut. EVER. So fluffy, so melt-in-your-mouth soft. Happy Friday to me!

This weekend, I’m attending the Blend Retreat in Boulder and can’t wait to meet, hike, eat and drink with some fabulous bloggers (and non-bloggers!) and friends. From what I hear, I’ll be eating and drinking a lot more great food stuffz this weekend. I can’t wait!