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I Enjoy My Socially Withdrawn Self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 As always with reflection, my mind keeps getting hung up on how I've withdrawn socially and wants to pinpoint the exact moment in time when that happened.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. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Off Trail, A Boulder Caught My Eye

Yesterday it reached the sweetest and most perfect sunshine filled 70 degrees. With a drop in temperature and snow in the forecast, I spent the entire evening after work outside.  The warmth was still lingering this morning when I stepped outside, which drove my motivation to head out for a hike. As I approached the very first intersection onto the main trail, my eyes gazed west at the heavy clouds that had rolled in, hiding the tips of the mountains. Before I knew it, the wind started to pick up. My hands were instantly drawn to the comfort of my fleece lined pockets. I realized this storm was blowing in faster than I anticipated. A mere 30 minutes ago, my choice of a down jacket seemed excessive, which made me snidely chuckle as my hood went up over my wool hat. 

The change in weather didn't bring me down. Living in Colorado you have to take it as it comes. I continued along the rutted out trail when a large boulder up on the hillside caught my eye. I'm not sure why, but I went off trail, stepping over downed trees, drawn in to the rock. I found one that particularly suited me and I raised my knee to my waist and pushed my leg straight to pull my body to the top of the boulder. My right leg planted down deep into the moss covered rock that had at some point been released from the depths of the mountains just to my west, as my left knee lifted as my foot planted into my inner thigh. Small little snow balls fell from the sky, the wind blew, and my arms raised to the sky as I completed Vrksasana (tree pose). My heart deeply and rhythmically beat, I worked to slow my breath. I found myself moving through other asanas, easily, it felt natural. 

Innate. 

It was innate to stop moving, tune in to the birds chirping, how the branches creaked as the wind blew them to their maximum bending limits. My senses were on, absorbing everything around me, reminding me of why I've called the Rocky Mountains my home for 20 years. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

When Night Falls

Sometimes at night when the house is so quiet and still, I can't bring myself to go to bed. At the moment there are little patters and thuds of snow hitting the roof. I'm just sitting here all curled up in a wool blanket with a cup of Lady Grey tea, intrigued by the storm. I know it's odd that I relish in the fact that snow falling is the loudest noise in my household, but the silence is so sweet.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Trader Joe's First Rodeo In Boulder, Colorado

Not even 8 hours after the grand opening of Trader Joe's in Boulder, the photo below captures the scene. This may have been their grocery managers first opening, if so I will give them some leeway for the grossly underestimated demand of granola. Hint, this is BOULDER. Pallets of granola should've been on hand. For the record, I didn't see one person buying that cookie butter stuff (once again, Boulder). 

Folks on Twitter, loved this photo. It's so Boulder. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Spread The Love With Whole Trade® Roses

Millions of beautiful roses will be given as a display of love this Friday, Valentine's Day. Fresh flowers are always a welcome addition to my home. It brings me great pleasure to split up a simple bouquet into smaller vases, so I can enjoy the blooms in multiple rooms of my home.

Have you ever thought about where your roses come from? My favorite flowers have come from my garden, but considering it's covered in snow, that's not really an option these days. Colorado does have green house growers, but many flowers this time of year come from out of the United States.

Whole Foods Market created a program called, Whole Trade® Flowers. Their guarantee seal means a single purchase brings more than joy to the recipient of the bouquet. Spread the love this Friday!

❤   Meet quality standards.
❤   Provides more money to producers.
❤   Ensures better wages and working conditions.
❤   Cares for the environment.
❤   Donates 1% of sales to Whole Planet Foundation®

If you'd like more information, please watch this Making A Difference video:




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Disclaimer, this post was written as part of my commitment to being a Whole Foods Market Ambassador. I was compensated. I apologize, I took a break from a giveaway this month, but it will be back next month!