Monday's Music to My Ears!

This Monday I thought I would post a video I came across by accident, but am so happy I did! This is Gregory Alan Isakov performing at Everyday Joe's in Fort Collins on December 27th, 2010.  Dan and I were at this show - probably the most intimate setting we'll ever be able to see him perform in- and it was incredible. This song is called "Girl with a Feather" and he prefaces by saying that for some reason, this is just 'one of those songs that doesn't want to be recorded'. I actually 'recorded' it onto my phone but the quality of this video is much better and you get to see him perform! A great song and a special, secret treat, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did that night!

Lost in Time at the Library

Saturday afternoon Dan and I decided to head downtown to the library to see if we could track down a copy of Robinson Crusoe and explore the library's historic documents and genealogy department.  

We found it, first try, without the use of the reference computers! Only trouble was that there were approximately 9 different versions and I wanted the exact version that I started reading via free iBooks download... turns out, it wasn't any of the one's above, but a forest-green bound book complete with... pictures!

I could wander the aisles of a Library, just reading the titles (sideways of course) for hours.

Then we headed up to the 5th floor, the Historic Documents & Genealogy Department! I was in heaven. Thanks to several heavy-duty research projects for school, I got to spend a fair amount of time up there, so I wanted to show Dan around. We (okay, mostly just me...) are total geeks for anything and everything related to Denver history- architecture, neighborhoods (after all, we live in a 115 year old house!), mining, cowboys, Native Americans, politics, the Victorian Era... love it!

We pulled open some of the drawers of the archives and found this awesome old map of the United States from 1855!! Dan was trying to pin-point our exact current location.

Dan appearing interested in the artwork, for the sake of a photo ;)

I love this.

We found this gigantic book of East Denver's neighborhoods, complete with building plans and city blueprints from 1940.

We found our house! 

 It was a great way to spend an hour of our Saturday afternoon. We may go back soon to try and find the original building plans of our house to see how it originally looked in 1896 when it was still one giant mansion. We know quite a bit about the original owners thanks to a little guide to Denver historic homes. It was built by General Hall who served as Denver territorial secretary from 1866-1874 and then city treasurer until 1895. He was also the mining editor for the Denver Post and Denver Times, and worked for the Butterfield Overland Dispatch Company which later became Wells, Fargo, and Company. Hall and his wife Susan bought our property in 1894 and lived in the 6,000 square foot home until their deaths in 1917(F.) and 1939(S.)...spooky! In the book there are a few photos circa 1900 and the house looks lovely with a nice green yard and balconies. The same little book says that "many unfortunate changes have been made to this house over the years", and we have to agree! In 1980 it was tragically converted into condos... luckily, the majority of the original exterior has remained intact and the inside still boasts a lot of historic charm, but the property simply hasn't been cared for as it should have been. We are hoping to get the other residents on board for a major landscape overhaul this summer to get the yard back to decent and an even enjoyable state before BBQ season begins! Wish us luck!


Taking things slow without really trying

This Saturday morning is all about taking things slow. It's about sleeping in and staying in bed after waking up from the sunlight pouring in through the shades. It's about a long, warm shower and spending an few extra minutes taking in the sweet smells of soap and shampoo. This Saturday morning is about making coffee with a French press and taking the time to enjoy breakfast. It's about getting outside for a long walk with the dog and letting him stop and smell all the roses (or dirt and tree trunks...after all it's winter in Colorado). It's about wandering the aisles of the library or seeing a matinee or finishing that project from a few weeks ago. Sometimes, without even realizing it, those slow-to-start Saturday mornings are really some of the most productive... I mean, just look at all the things we 'accidentally' did already today! Hope you too are able to take some time to sit back, relax,  and settle into a surprisingly un-lazy day of your own.


Thrifty Thursday's: Roasted Potato & Goat Cheese Salad with homemade sun dried tomato dressing

Thrifty Thursday's: budget friendly tips for making, baking, creating, and decorating to your coastal/country heart's content!

This is a long-time favorite meal of mine that combines the scrumptious flavors of herb-roasted potatoes, creamy goat cheese, red onion, and tangy artichoke hearts with the freshness of spring greens, all topped with a creamy homemade sun dried tomato dressing. Perfect as a main course with garlic toast on the side! Make it for a date night at home and let me know what you think!
(Disclaimer: I have never written down a single recipe, so please bear with my 'loose' instructions...I'm an interpretive chef). 

Roasted Potato & Goat Cheese Salad with Homemade Sun Dried Tomato Dressing

approx. $12.00-$14.00 (for 2)*
For the Salad:
2-4 baby red potatoes, cut into 8ths  (or a great short-cut: Alexia Reds Parmesan & Garlic frozen potato wedges)
1/4th of a small red onion, very thinly sliced (width-wise, into rings)
1/2 c. goat cheese crumbles
1 6oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 c. kalamata or pitted black olives
1 roma tomato cut into wedges
pine nuts (optional, to top with)
Olive Oil & Seasoning blend for potatos: Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Garlic powder
1   5oz package of baby greens spring mix (like Earthbound Farms Organic)
1 lemon wedge

For the Dressing:
In a food processor, combine:
1/4c. marinated sundried tomatoes (if using dried: soak in a cup of water for a few hours, drain and toss with herbs & olive oil)
1 small clove garlic (or garlic powder if you prefer a less intense garlic flavor)
1/4 c. olive oil
2tbsp balsamic vinegar
1tsp Dijon mustard
Salt, Pepper, & herb seasoning to taste
(you may have to add more oil/vinegar to keep the dressing smooth and liquid, depending on how your processor blends things).

1.Cut, chop, prep all ingredients so they're ready to go
2. In a large skillet, heat 2tbsp olive oil and herb seasoning, add potatoes and toss to evenly coat. Keep at med. heat, cover, watching and mixing so they don't burn, until soft in the middle and crispy-golden on outside.
3. Make the dressing (add all ingredients to a food processor, blend until smooth and creamy)
4. In a large salad bowl, toss greens with juice from lemon wedge, then dressing, separate on plates for serving
5. Top salad with potatoes, goat cheese, onion, artichoke hearts, olives, pine nuts, and tomato wedges (on side)
6. Serve with garlic toast & red wine or a tasty ale! (pairs well with BlueMoon's Rising Moon, Spring Blonde Wheat Ale).

* prices are based on the amounts of ingredients used, not the cost of buying the products in the store, and does not include pantry staples like olive oil, salt, pepper, seasonings


Oh, hello yellow!

It may be due to the fact that I am getting rather anxious for the sweet smell of spring or the extra dose of sunshine we've had the past few weeks, (Literally, we've had t-shirt weather for over 10 days, not bad for February in Colorado!) but I am feeling particularly drawn to all things in light and lovely shades of nature's happiest color: yellow! About a month ago I helped a friend decide on a canary & pewter  palette for her June wedding and today I came home with not one but two shirts, a v-neck and a polo, in the exact same yellow color for Dan (he has the perfect skin-tone to handsomely pull it off!). So I decided to put together a few pretty pictures showcasing this glorious hue. Hope they bring a little extra bit of warmth & light to your day!





Monday's Music to My Ears!

Like a lot of you out there, music is a huge part of my life. I have an infinite mental list of songs that at one point or another, I claimed were the 'soundtrack to my life'. While I love a broad range of styles and artists, the songs that leave the greatest imprint on my heart are the ones that tell great stories. Poetry set to music; words brought to life; a whole world created in just a few minutes. Some of the best songwriters (in my opinion of course...but what are blogs for?!) are simply incredible storytellers who happen to use an instrument or melody to help set the 'scene'. Some of my life-long favorites, who's songs I may know every word of but still consistently have stored on my ipod are: Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, John Prine, Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Roger Miller, and Cat Stevens. Over the past decade, 'newer' artists have made lasting impressions in my life and are also long-term ipod residents: Patrick Park, Catie Curtis, Tracy Chapman, Brandi Carlile, Gregory Alan Isakov, Tyrone Wells, Jack Johnson, Patty Griffin, Ray Lamontagne, Alison Krauss, Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, Amos Lee, Sera Cahoone, Ingrid Michaelson, Missy Higgins...oh my goodness and many amazing others! Each of these artists have touched my life in great ways with their stories over the years. Talk about the 'dream dinner party guest list'!! While I would love to hoard them all to myself and pretend that they have written music just for me...I have decided that each Monday I would post a link or video for one of my favorite songs, new or old, and hope that it touches your life in a special way, too! Stay tuned!*

*puns are my favorite cheap thrill.

Now, how to decide which song to post first?! According to iTunes, "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison is my top-played song (168!). Not only is it one of my all-time favorites, "into the mystic" is also engraved on the underside of Dan's wedding band. He calls me his gypsy soul and this song makes me want to grab Dan's hand and 'sail' into whatever the world has in store for us. Here is a great cover by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (the Swell Season, and Once). Enjoy!

psalm 39:2-8

I was mute and slient, I held my peace to no avail and my distress grew worse.
My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned, then I spoke with my tongue:
"Oh Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days;
Let me know how fleeting I am! 
Behold! You have made my days a few handbreaths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; a man heaps up wealth but knows not who will gather!
And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. Deliver me from all my transgressions!
Psalm 39:2-8

Last night as we were getting ready for bed, Dan opened up to me and started to share the things that were on his heart. He began by saying how short life really is and how scary it is to think about how quickly our lives can change. (Don't you love how these light topics flood our minds just as we are trying to fall asleep?) He shared his fears about the unknown and all of the scary things in our world: sickness and pain, violence and hate. It is no secret that we live in a broken and sinful world; after all, we are broken and sinful beings, but a world of pain was not God's design. He created the world to be a perfect paradise filled with love and fellowship with Himself and one another. Man was not around for more than 10 minutes (my own interpretation) before we really screwed things up by thinking that life would be "better" if only we were in control- if we took matters into our own hands, thus beginning our lifelong struggle with selfishness and pride and our desire to have things that cannot be attained by human effort. We were not created to carry the weight of the world or to live under these burdens- God had a different design- it's no wonder that pain and fear are two things we will never be able to truly manage; they will always feel foreign to us.

Until we really come to grips with the fact that all of our effort to control, contain, and categorize the world around us is in vain, we will be held captive to the power of fear. Not one of us knows the number of our days or how long we will have to live on this earth, but regardless of our personal convictions or spirituality, we are all aware of how delicate and fleeting life truly is. By nature we long to have a sense of purpose, of meaning, and so often we chase after worldly things in hopes of feeling the satisfaction of success. But until we realize that our jobs, money, homes, and hobbies are not the means to an end but rather tools, gifts, that have been loaned to us as means to the beginning, we will never find peace. Time, talents, and resources are not meant to be stored up and stowed away, but spent, invested into our relationships and making the world around us better than when we found it. The Lord lead Dan to Psalm 39 last night and he read it over until he fell asleep. It's not a prayer about giving our life a sense of purpose and helping us to better manage our days- it's simply a prayer asking the Lord to remind us how fleeting our days here on earth really are, so that we may seize each moment and cherish every day as a gift, and another chance. Another chance to be a better friend, a more caring sister, a more thoughtful daughter, a more loving spouse. Another chance to forgive and ask forgiveness as we are all deeply in debt to the grace we have been given.

We can all finally stop trying to conquer fear- The Lord has already done that! At the sound of his voice (a whisper!) chaos and darkness is stilled. Chaos- our earthly nemesis- does not scare God... in fact, he "hovered" over it peacefully before the world as we know it even existed (Genesis 1:2). What did Jesus say to the "chaos" and darkness of the water as waves were trying to consume the disciple's boat? "Shut your mouth!" (Mark 4:39). So enough worrying about tomorrow, or even today! Enough (Hailey!) worrying about our jobs, money, homes, health, and relationships! It's time to seize the day and find joy in all of the blessings we are surrounded by, pursue love and invest in growing into the best women, men, children, spouses, workers, friends, and family members we can be. Now take a deep breath. Let go. Doesn't that feel better?


So, I guess this means I have a blog?

Starting a blog is just one of the many things I have been wanting to do for a long time but, for one reason or another, have not yet. Well, that day has come and here I am, blogging-world! I had to finally get over the intimidation and pretentiousness of having an 'official' blog and decide that, more than anything else, this is simply a way for me to compile thoughts, memories, photos, and glimpses of all the things I love in one pretty place. I have always been sentimental and I love to write. I have kept journals my whole life and boxes of keepsakes that have a special meaning to me. I've had to convince myself that a 'blog' (honestly, could they have picked an uglier word?) is really just the 21st century version of the same idea!

But, where to begin? I am having flashbacks of cracking the cover of a brand-new journal and staring down at the first page, hesitant yet anxious to put pen-to-paper and start my first entry. Although my journals were always kept private, I always felt the need to introduce myself at the beginning of each book, just in case it gets buried in a foreign desert or lost at sea and someone happens upon it forty years from now and they become so intrigued by my adolescent ramblings that they long to know who the author is! So, maybe even as a child I over-thought this kind of thing way too much. I would spend hours contemplating not only what I would write in my journal, but how... would it read like a story? A prayer? A memoir? A scrapbook? This was not a commitment to be taken lightly! Alas, to date, not a single one of my journals possesses any great historic value, nor have any been lost at sea, but there is something so romantic and personal about them that encourages the reckless daydreamer in us all!

So maybe no one will stumble upon my blog years from now in hopes of gleaning details of a long-lost world of old. Perhaps this amounts to nothing more than a place for me to harbor my thoughts and memories of my every day, fairly quiet, somewhat ordinary life and my cat is my biggest fan. I don't know the exact path it may take and I see no real destination in sight, but what I do know is that I hope to fill the 'pages' of my new journal with all the little things I love. I know that I love antiques, art, our adorable dog Arthur, cooking, crafting, my darling husband Dan, decorating, daydreaming, eating, family, friends, gardening, our lovely cat Logan, music, movies, photography, reading, traveling and growing in my relationship with our Lord, so you (or I! ) can expect to see lots of these things here! Thanks for coming by and joining me in my little rustique retreat! Hope to see you soon!