Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hello, Summertime! Grilled Peaches & Whole Foods Market Gift Card Giveaway!

In Colorado we are fortunate to have access to peaches grown right in Palisades, which is on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. High Country Orchards and Kokopelli Organic Farms both supply the local Whole Foods Markets within days of harvest, so they are perfectly ripe and juicy. Even though I grew up eating the most amazing apples picked fresh from a tree, I don't think anything compares to a fresh Colorado peach.

This summer we've been experimenting with peaches and we have fallen in love with grilling them! Grilled peaches have accompanied our dinner, our dessert, and have even found their way into our breakfast!

The way we prepare them is to brush them with a little bit of maple syrup and some butter, than throw them on the grill. Yum! We make this salad with grilled peaches, but the recipe just calls for regular sliced peaches, it's turned into a go to favorite with chicken it makes a meal.

Summer Salad With Peach Walnut Dressing:
Ingredients: 
  • Dressing
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup chopped peaches
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
  • Salad
  • 1 head green leaf lettuce, leaves washed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce, leaves washed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 peaches, halved, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 8 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

  • Method: Put all dressing ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender and puree until smooth. Add a little water if needed to thin to a pourable consistency. Toss salad ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing, toss to coat well and serve immediately.
    Nutritional Info: 
    Per Serving:120 calories (70 from fat)8g total fat0.5g saturated fat0mg cholesterol,30mg sodium9g carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber2g sugar)4g protein
    I have a $25 Whole Foods Market Gift Card to giveaway!
    To Enter:

    1. A comment equals one entry, comment as much as you wish, I will transfer over FB comments. Please leave a valid email address if you comment as anonymous.

    2. Contest will close on Wednesday August 27th, 2014 at 10pm MST. 

    3. 1 winner will be chosen from comments by Random. Org and notified via email.

    4. Address must be provided within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected, the gift card will be shipped directly by the supplier of the giveaway.  

    5. Open to US residents only. 
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    Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post and giveaway! Content is purely at my discretion. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Best Drinks In Boulder! Bramble And Hare

Boulder is a great town for food, but when it comes to drinks I feel like I'm always at a loss. I don't have a go to place, but rather a few places that get the job done. It's important to make the disclaimer that I don't particularly care for sugar laden drinks, I do love Prosecco, but you can find that pretty much anywhere, so it becomes more about ambiance. I typically wind up at Pizzeria Locale because well, ambiance, drinks, and fun. Unfortunately their hours are limited for late night enjoyment. I do love the mojitos at Centro, but overall that scene isn't a huge draw for me. The Med has $5 sangria which is fabulous, but OY, the sugar. I really feel the sugar the next day. Plus the Med has the typical retirement crowd, which isn't really my vibe on a fun night out. There's also the St.Julian, meh hotel scene and the drinks are a bit pricey in my opinion, but there is dancing, bonus! We always stop into Japango for a drink, but that's only because of Stanley, the bar manager, aka Boulder's unofficial mayor. Oak has a great bar as well, but my palate just doesn't quite gel with their drink menu, then there's the noise and heat level inside that place.

But wait for it… I have a new place that I LOVE! It may be my place! I've been desperate to find my place. It's Bramble and Hare.

One night at Japango, I sat next to the bartender of Bramble before his shift. We got to talking and I really enjoyed his creativity and palate, I immediately thought I need to check it out. A bonus is that they serve food late, which is also hard to find in Boulder. Last week, on our date night, we weren't heading out until closer to 10pm so we decided to give B&H a try. I am so happy we did.


I ordered the, So Much More Than A Toy, which was vodka, beets, lemon, rose water. OH MY GOODNESS, it was beyond delightful and totally speaks to my drink sensibilities. There were many drinks I wanted to try, but decided to stick with this one for the night and try something new on my next visit. B&H also has the bartender's choice and the table next to ours was not disappointed with what he came up with on the fly. B&H offers small plates and I indulged in head cheese for the very first time, I felt like I was taking a dare when I tried it, as it turns out I really liked it. Bramble and Hare is the sister restaurant of the Black Cat Bistro which is next door. BCB is a farm to table restaurant and the chef owner, Eric Skokan owns the farm that supplies his restaurants. The long and short of it is, the food is superb and a great compliment to the drinks. Bramble and Hare is a fabulous way to get a glimpse of what's happening next door, with out the commitment of a sit down dinner.


Head cheese, salad, wings (some of the best wings I've ever had)

I think it's time to rally a girls night out and head back to Bramble and Hare. They have early evening happy hour and a late night menu with special pricing on drinks as well (I believe after 11pm). The kitchen stays open until 1am. 

Bravo Bramble and Hare, Bravo! 

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This is not a sponsored post, just a recap of my experience at Bramble and Hare! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Steamboat Springs, I Adore You!

A few months ago friends of ours invited us to the mountains to vacation with their family in early August and of course we eagerly accepted. Due to timing, I had to take the trip solo with the girls, so we opted for a mid week into the weekend getaway. I loaded up the car with mountain bikes, our stuff, and a cooler and hit the road for a 3 hour trip. After road tripping to southern California in July, a 3 hour car trip literally felt like a cake walk. Plus, traveling in Colorado is just as beautiful as you would imagine, the time just passes with oohs and aahs of the view out the window.

We rolled into Steamboat Springs, mid afternoon, for the first time in about three years. My first thought was, my where does the time go? I've always loved Steamboat, it's a very unique mountain town, where the locals may actually out number the tourists. In Steamboat there is no shortage of things to do. There are endless mountain bike trails, hiking trails, an alpine slide, tubing on the Yampa River which meanders through town, amazing hot spring pools, a charming downtown, Farmer's Market, and great restaurants. We seemed to dabble in a little bit of everything, we had the most relaxing time coupled with super fun adventures.

One of the highlights of our vacation was spending some quality time with our friends (our children are the same ages). We were able to hear funny stories about when they were babies, cook meals together, and the kids made some wonderful lasting summertime memories. I'm already thinking about our next trip to the 'Boat! Steamboat Springs, I adore you!

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

July Whole Foods Market Giveaway Winner!

30 comments and #21 was the lucky one!  Dawn D, I will be contacting you for your address! Thanks to everyone that commented, stay tuned next month for the next WFM giveaway.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summertime Love For Our Pollinators And YOU! A Whole Foods Market Gift Card Giveaway!

The most recent statistic I read stated bee colonies are dying off at a rate of 30% annually. THIRTY PERCENT annually is quite the dramatic number. Bees pollinate more than $15 billion dollars a year in crops, some which would totally disappear with out pollination, such as almonds. Can you imagine life without almonds. While the decline of the world's pollinators paints a very dark and gloomy picture, every single person can do something to help keep the bees alive.

Whole Foods Market suggests three ways everyone can help at home:

1.  Plant Flowers, isn't that a win-win for everyone?
2.  Make Space, native bees will dig nests in bare soil!
3. Go Organic, organic foods promote healthy ecosystems and a safe place for our pollinators.



Give Bees A Chance

I have a $25 Whole Foods Market Gift Card to giveaway!
To Enter:

1. A comment equals one entry, comment as much as you wish, I will transfer over FB comments. Please leave a valid email address if you comment as anonymous.

2. Contest will close on Sunday August 3rd, 2014 at 10pm MST. 

3. 1 winner will be chosen from comments by Random. Org and notified via email.

4. Address must be provided within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected, the gift card will be shipped directly by the supplier of the giveaway.  

5. Open to US residents only. 
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Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post and giveaway! Content is purely at my discretion. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I Enjoy My Socially Withdrawn Self

Lately I've been turning inward, examining life, contemplating... As always with reflection, my mind keeps getting hung up on how I've withdrawn socially and wants to pinpoint the exact moment in time when that happened. I don't quite think there was a defining moment. I think it was a series of moments, and simply the result was my lack of attention and energy to maintain a social life. Hahaha, a social life, in this very moment I don't even know how to define that concept.

Related to my situation and what comes to the forefront of my mind is,  effort to benefit ratio… 

I think that concept seals the deal. All I understand is that it's much easier to just put on my shoes, walk out the door and hike, than it is text 20 times and settle in on a date and time in the future to go with a friend. I'm that kind of socially withdrawn. It's the casual, we would love to see you guys, and no follow through until you run into the person again at Trader Joe's three months later. Part of me selfishly pulls away when I attempt to see someone and it becomes a thing. I'm spontaneous and for some reason the universe has brought planners into my life. Planning makes me socially withdrawn. I am notoriously the person to make contact, if I don't put the invite out, well you can probably guess where this is going. Over the course of time,  I just stopped putting the invite out and guess what, I'm socially withdrawn.

Maybe a better way to describe my socially withdrawn situation is that I'm in a phase of self discovery. I've become accustomed to walking down to the coffee shop and sitting at a patio table, taking in the view of the mountains, and people watching by myself. I just went hiking with Josh yesterday, but I typically take to the trails solo. I've recently gone to the movies, a concert, and even a weekend getaway to Los Angeles alone. Just a few weeks ago, I ran a 5K in a town I had never even stepped foot in, I crossed the finish line alone, but filled with self confidence. Being alone was once a daunting prospect, but now I enjoy solitude.

I enjoy myself.

I enjoy my socially withdrawn self.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hiking Bear Peak Solo, To Scramble Or To Not Scramble

As my eyes gaze west through out the day, there's a large peak that looms off in the distance. I often find this peak staring back at me, whispering here I am, why don't you climb me. Bear Peak is it's name, it is Boulder's tallest mountain, and it just so happens to be in my neighborhood. I have a direct view of the peak from my office window. Anytime I am driving around town or just staring longingly at the mountains, my eyes roll along the ridges and always stop at the very tippy top of Bear Peak. The ridge to the north is still visibly burnt out and the black tree trunks that remain just have a way of leading my eyes to the prize. 

On my last regularly scheduled day off before summer holiday, I woke up and decided my time had come to climb Bear Peak. I loaded up my Camelbak with water, a few snacks, and headed out. I wasn't quite sure how long it was going to take me, but I thought about 5 hours would do the trick. I am lucky to have a pretty direct route from my favorite hiking trail, so I was able to get to the top of the mountain in 2.5 miles. I saw exactly one person on my way up, a true gift, considering the majority of Boulder's hiking trails are typically well used. 

Bear Peak has a 2,700 foot elevation gain and the top of the peak stands at 8,461 feet above sea level. As I arrived just short of the summit, I noticed the Open Space and Mountain Parks trail marker sign pointing to Bear Peak Summit which was a huge pile of rocks. I took a moment to catch my breath and contemplate my next steps. Would I be happy arriving at the sign or would I get on essentially all fours and scramble (hey, that's the technical term) to the top, perch myself precariously on one of these red rocks teetering on the edge of sheer drops, and take a selfie... 

What do you think I did?

I scrambled. I went a bit, then I went a bit further, and well the true summit was incredible. See:


That's the view from the top. The city of Boulder is off in the distance to the north (top right of the photo). The University of Colorado can be spotted with the Italian tile roofs which just seem to coordinate lovely with the deep terra-cotta colored rock on the peak. 

In reflection of my experience, I was actually amazed at how gentle the climb was to the top of Bear. It was less strenuous and shorter than I anticipated, taking the Fern Canyon trail straight up instead of the Bear Peak West Trail Ridge. Now every time I catch a glimpse of Bear Peak, it grounds me, it reminds me of the moment I just said yes and seized the day. 

My next goal is to climb a 14'er which is locals speak for a 14,000 foot peak. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Break The Seal, Break The Seal!

After school let out, we had family in town, I took two trips in one week (one unexpected), and then we went on a family vacation that we extended because we just couldn't bear to leave so soon. After we returned home I opened up the compose screen every night to write a post. I didn't even get as far as a draft. UGH. I just need to write something to break the seal, so I can let my thoughts free. I have so many things to say, almost too many. I sometimes run into that issue, I can't focus on where to begin.

I'm publishing this dribble, so I can carry on.

My writing break has officially ended, starting now.

Our hard to leave vacation spot...





Monday, May 26, 2014

Goodbye Knee High Socks, Hello Fresh Air

For 7 years my blog header was a photo that always contained the 3 girls of my family in knee high socks, preferably with some mountains in the background. I've decided to let go of the whimsy I once felt for socks and mountains. The view from my hike today seemed to be the best way to capture how I'm feeling about my blog.


Far too often I've been contemplating the past and future of this space. I get a nagging feeling that I need to write and then it subsides when I think about just packing it up. Truly I don't want to pack it up, I just need it to evolve and grow with me. 7 years into the blogworld experience and venturing into all forms of social media, I recognize my experience online is for me. This is most purely an outlet to express myself. I watch people tirelessly promote and write crappy content to appease brands and sponsors, hoping someone will read their soulless words in attempt to keep chasing the next brand experience. All of that has faded for me, I have no lofty goals except to keep this part of me alive. Happily I can reflect that over the past 7 years in this space, I have always held my integrity high. 

Tomorrow morning I am setting out on a long hike by myself, it's my last Tuesday of freedom before summer comes screaming in. I gaze at this peak in my backyard every single day, longing to stand on top and put my arms up, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy the breathtaking view. Tomorrow, I shall do it. 

It's a new day at Eat Play Love, I hope you'll stay (I'm staying, pinky swear).

  
  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Go To Baking Mixes

I love baking from scratch, that's when I find myself being most creative in the kitchen. I switch up recipes a lot, write down what works and keep refining those moments of creativity. Which leads me to baking mixes. I always keep a few baking mixes in my pantry to help me out in a pinch when I find I need to whip up some treats last minute or when I just want to surprise my family.

I tried out NanaCakes baking mixes sold at Whole Foods Market, it can be used for pancakes, waffles, crepes, cookies, muffins, and cake! WOW! The results were awesome, my 10 year old made a batch of cookies with her friend, they added chocolate chips to this particular batch!


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Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post. Content is purely at my discretion. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Best Spring Cheese!

One of the reasons we are drawn to shop at Whole Foods Market for cheese is the selection and also the ability to try a cheese before actually handing over a chunk of change for something that may not suit our palate. I can't tell you how many times we've ventured out of our comfort zone because of samples and have simply fallen for the new cheese. I have written about creating a charcuterie board and I just find anytime we are entertaining, it's the perfect opportunity to dazzle my guests with a wonderful selection of cheese! Don't hesitate to tap into the wealth of knowledge the staff at Whole Foods Market offers, recommendations are always spot on when I simply give a basic description of our meal.



Spring Cheese recommendations:

Parmigiano Reggiano has a delightful range of flavors and textures ranging from nutty, sweet, grassy, creamy, grainy, and fruity. Great shaved on a salad (see photo).

Le Gruyere Reserve has a classic flavor profile, nutty, creamy and complex, with hints of fruit and spice.

Rogue Creamery Caveman Blue is rich and earthy, sweet and fruity with slight vanilla notes. (a fav)

Grafton Classic Reserve Cheddar is mature, creamy two-year aged cheddar with a slightly tart finish.

How to Create a Cheese Board:
Pick cheeses with contrasting textures and flavors, creamy, firm, sweet, pungent.
Old World with New World selections.
2oz cheese per person is a good rule of thumb.
Allow cheese to rest at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before serving for optimal flavor.

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Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post. Content is purely at my discretion. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hello, World

Hello
  Hello
     Hello
       Hello
         Hello

…when I first started blogging I would use strikethroughs and different sized fonts, maybe even switch up font color to add to my posts. Now I just want a reason to come back here and write, as push button publishing doesn't quite intrigue me anymore…


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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Taking On Words {with Audio}

live.travel.adventure.bless.
and don't be sorry.
-kerouac
Lately my mind has been seeking out words in books, words that guide, words that open up new worlds and ways of thinking. I seem to be in a in-search-of phase, but what exactly I am seeking is not quite defined. In these moments that string along into phases of inward focus, I'm not quite able to be out with my own words and discoveries. I sense a strong push back from the humdrum noise of many of my usual outlets that I often felt like were my home.

I'm a sponge taking on water, bubbles of soap fill some of my crevices, and a few toast crumbs are just sticking to me. I sense the cusp of my words being ready to be wrung out over the sink, splashing up on the sides, and maybe even leaving a wet stain on that nice new t-shirt.

Dammit.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lucky For You, Milk Stout Cupcakes

Happy St Patrick's Day! Today, I'm heading straight to the best part of the celebration with a batch of Milk Stout Cupcakes, which uses a locally brewed stout. They turned out moist and delicious!

Milk Stout Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, plus more for dusting finished cupcakes
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1 bottle Left Hand Milk Stout
  • 1 stick butter(melted)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese (softened at room temperature)
  • 1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar

Instructions:

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.In another medium mixing bowl, combine the stout, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, 1 at time. Mix in sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.Lightly grease 24 muffin tins. Divide the batter equally between muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 12 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake another 12 to 13 minutes until risen, nicely domed, and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool before turning out. To make the icing: Beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. On low speed, slowly mix in the confectioners' sugar until incorporated and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Icing can be made several hours ahead and kept covered and chilled. Top each cupcake with a heap of frosting and dust with cocoa.
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Disclosure: I am a Whole Foods Brand Ambassador, they have sponsored this post.