Tag Archives: denver

Food on Friday: Bonus Photo Edition

Fall is here, my friends! With it comes cooler, snappy dry air, sweaters and tights, and my desire to eat things that involve apples and pumpkin. We had our first honeycrisps last week, and they were nothing short of fabulous. To celebrate my friend’s fall baby, I made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for her shower, and boy, were they tasty.

MLE’s pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (makes 12, plus a few additional cookies)

1.5 cups all purpose flour (or 1 cup white, 1/2 cup whole-wheat)
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp baking powder
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk or water
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpin
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour or add baking cups to muffin tin. In a smallish bowl, combine dry ingredients, set aside. In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar together until fully mixed, then add eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin. Mix in dry ingredients. Add milk or water if batter is dry. Add chocolate chips. Scoop into muffin tin and bake for 15-20 minutes. With any leftover batter, grease a cookie sheet and plop remaining batter onto sheet, leaving quite a bit of room between each plop. Bake for around 10 minutes. Makes 12 muffins and 7-8 large soft pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

Here are some photos I took on my way to work this morning. Everything is in transition; some trees have completely turned while others are just beginning.

City aspen will turn to gold when it Damn Well Feels Like It.

Here is the cake I made for Steve last weekend. I doubled this recipe, except I only used one cup of sugar and used bits of strawberry intead of raspberries. It was superdelicious.

And, apropos of nothing, a car in our neighborhood.

Yes, those are large, pink-lined, furry rabit ears.


Mas sopaipillas, por favor!

Casa Bonita.

For those who are fans of the TV show South Park, you may have seen the episode about this Denver-area institution. Despite having lived in Denver nearly seven years, I had yet to set foot inside this unique establishment until this past weekend, when we took Scarlett and Jason to celebrate her move to Denver.

I don’t think, even given the breadth of the English language, that I am capable of fully describing the Casa Bonita experience. Here are some things you may not know about it:

*It seats over 900 people
*If you are over the age of two, you must purchase a “meal.” I use that term only in the most official sense, as I wouldn’t say what I ordered truly was food. My “taco salad” consisted of half a head of shredded iceburg topped with five kidney beans, two slices of barely-pink flavorless tomato, tasteless cheese shreds, a plop of sour cream, a plop of something greenish that was supposed to be guacamole, all inside a fried flour tortilla shell. A small amount of seasoned shredded chicken came on the side. When I asked for some salad dressing, it took half an hour for the guy to bring it to me. The cost? $12.


*When you get inside, you go through a veritable maze to get to where you can look at a menu. Then you order. Then you go through some more maze and you grab a tray and a napkin roll. Then some lady hands you what you ordered, which just came out of the kitchen. Then you walk through some more maze until you get to the second hostess, who shows you to your table.
*It features a variety of live entertainment, including cliff divers, people dressed as gorillas, sound effects, mariachi bands, Black Bart’s Cave, and puppet shows.
*A little flag sits on your table, and when you raise the flag they bring you fresh sopaipillas.
*People come around to your table and try to sell you plastic glow-in-the-dark crap.

The area in which we were seated was set up to look like the inside of a mine. They had a recording of a snoring sound effect playing, which must have been near where I sat because I was the only one who could hear it. I guess there must have been a “miner” someplace nearby but I didn’t see it.

Photo courtesy Dan, who managed to get my camera to do a manual 5-second exposure.

After we ate, we watched some of the live entertainment. We saw some people dressed in costumes (including one in a gorilla suit, who of course ended up in the water). We saw a cliff diver. Then we explored the place a bit and found Black Bart’s cave, which was probably the highlight of the whole deal for me. We watched a “gunfight” and then decided we’d had enough.

Sign outside Black Bart’s cave. Obviously they care very much for their attractions.

When we got home, we spooled up that episode of South Park and watched as the visions of Casa Bonita dancing through Cartman’s head echoed our evening’s experience. “Food and fun and festive atmosphere!” Cartman sings.

Well, there was “food.” The sopaipillas are pretty good, anyway. Jason, at least, had a lot of fun (as did Dan, who hadn’t been to the Casa since he was in middle school). And it is nothing if not a festive atmosphere.

Casa Bonita: the ultimate cheeze factory; an experience I only needed to have once.

Plus, this winner was parked next to us in the parking lot.

In which we go up a tower and get some free Wurlitzer

When we left the Governor’s Mansion, we walked up Logan Street to head toward downtown and the 16th street mall, and along the way we passed by the Denver Women’s Press Club. This is a funny little brick building in the middle of a sea of parking lot, and we used to walk by it nearly every day, so I was always curious about it (and about why it was the only building on the block). It happened to be participating in the Doors Open Denver event, so we decided to stop in for a minute to see the inside. The members of the club (which is 111 years old!) had fruit and snacks available, and were super friendly, chatting up everyone who came in. Because of National Poetry Month, they handed out poems to each visitor. We poked around a little bit and then Dan realized that it was a good opportunity to work on the final project for one of his classes (a flash-based online tour of Capitol Hill) and he got to interview one of the members about the club, the history of the building, and the club’s role in the neighborhood, using the video function on my camera. I didn’t get any photos, but it was still a pretty neat experience.

Because of our detour, there was only an hour and a half remaining during which time the two remaining places we wanted to see would be open. We hightailed it across the capitol building area and hopped on a free mall shuttle (normally, we would have walked, but were pressed for time) and also, I desperately had to pee. Since it was Sunday I wasn’t sure what my options were (and I spent a good amount of time fruitlessly searching the Tabor Center for open restrooms) but finally realized that I could go in the basement of the D&F tower, which was our next stop. This tower has been around a long time and was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi. It’s been a Colorado landmark since it was built in 1911 as part of a department store. The store is long gone, but the tower remains, primarily serving as office space. We tried to go up the tower last year (the public is welcome to tour the 17th through 21st floors during the Doors Open Denver event) but the small lobby was super crowded and I got a little bit panicky and claustrophobic so we left. This year, Dan held our place in line while I looked for a bathroom, and by the time I came back it was our turn. Score!

We started on the 17th floor, admiring views and taking photographs. At this point, we were underneath the clock face, and had fun seeing the vantage point from all four sides of the building. Also, there were a ton of other people up there, most of whom had either cameras or babies strapped to themselves (or both).

View from 17th floor of the mountains.

Under the clock

16th street mall from the tower, also visible: the state capitol (capped with gold).

After we’d had our fill of 17, we headed up the metal staircase to the remaining floors. I found something interesting or unusual about each one, and enjoyed the minimalist ’30s decor (black chandelier!). There were interesting chairs on some floors and objets d’art on others. It was interesting to see that the mechanism that ran the clock was not very big at all (as compared to the ones you see in the movies.) On the topmost floor, there was one final super-narrow balcony (above the clock faces) and I leaned out to get a photo of the top of the tower, complete with flag. I’m glad the bell didn’t ring while we were there; we would have been deafened!

The clockworks.

Looking up the tower. I leaned out pretty far to get this. Luckily, the railing is about 4 feet high so only my head/shoulders actually leaned.

Flag detail.

Swanky and jet-black!

On the 21st floor, stairs leading up to the bell and the rest of the tower. Obviously not accessible to the public.

Finally, my vertigo got the best of me and I needed to get out of the cramped tower, so we headed back down the elevator and walked quickly up the mall to the Paramount Theater, which was once a movie house but is now a place where people like Patti LaBelle perform when they come to town. The sign outside said Organ – Free so we went inside and watched an old man play a Wurlitzer pipe organ. (Gee, Dad, it’s a Wurlitzer!) He played a few show tunes (including a rather dirge-like “Surrey with the Fringe on Top”) while we sat and rested our weary bones.

The organs were set on platforms that were lifted up to the stage.

What a cool machine.

By this time, I was pretty much starving, so instead of taking advantage of any of the other free museum days (free Modern Art museum, free CO History museum), we went home and ate homemade guacamole. It was a great end to such a grand Sunday adventure.

In which we get to see the insides of all kinds of cool buildings, part the first.

This weekend was Doors Open Denver, which I was looking forward to because we had so much fun last year. And this year my camera actually talks to my computer, so I won’t have to wait six months to post the photos of our adventure.

I actually forgot about it until Sunday morning, but ultimately I guess that was OK because Saturday it poured freezing rain all day long and the six inches of snow we got on Friday (wet, slushy snow) didn’t melt! Like, at all! The weather was gross and weird so the only thing to do was go shopping. The clothing acquisition part of the shopping excursion was mostly unproductive, because nobody seems to be selling work-appropriate tops or shirts that are knits (not button-down, since those just don’t seem to fit me anymore) that are less than a million dollars. (Seriously? I’m not paying $50 for a shirt that’s kind of ugly, Macys. You disappoint me.) I found a couple of things at Old Navy (one of which I’m sporting today) and a couple more at NY and Co, one of which was on clearance (woot!). Then we went to Blood Bath and Beyond and, with all our coupons and the remainder of a wedding gift card from Dan’s aunt and uncle, we got $200 worth of stuff for $80. Plus, did you know BB&B is selling toiletries and cosmetics now? I had no idea! We hadn’t been in there since sometime last year and when we walked around a corner there was a whole makeup and bath product section, and I found some brands of things I haven’t been able to find anywhere else in years. So I stocked up on my favorite conditioner and deoderant.

It turns out that Cost Plus World Market (next door to BB&B) no longer carries our favorite Russian chocolate (the best chocolate on earth, in my opinion) which put a damper on our recession-be-damned spree at BB&B, but the tasty blood orange sody pop kind of made up for it. (A quick consultation with Google tells me this is no longer available at all since the maker of the chocolate was bought out by Wrigley. Boo.)

But all that was on Saturday. On Sunday, it was gorgeous and sunny out, with a blue cloudless sky and water everywhere from all the rain and melting snow (highly unusual for Colorado at any time of the year). As Dan was making breakfast (pizza omeletes, breakfast potatoes made with sweet potatoes), I suddenly remembered that it was Doors Open Denver weekend and went to the website to look up what places were participating this year, since I hadn’t remembered seeing any of the signs while walking around. Luckily, there was a big list of places that were open (especially several museums which were FREE during the event) that we wanted to see, particularly a couple that we missed out on last year due to timing or claustrophobia (mine). So over breakfast we planned out an itinerary, showered, and headed out for the day’s adventure to explore the innards of some of Denver’s most well-known (and least-explorable on a daily basis) places.

Our first stop was the Molly Brown House Museum, which is in our neighborhood and only about a block away from our previous apartment. I’d walked by it oodles of times and always wanted to go in, so was really excited about going to see the inside of it for free. We got there about 10 minutes before the first tour but weren’t able to get in until the second tour because so many other people were excited about seeing it for free, too. To kill time, we wandered around the outside of the house taking photos and then (just like last year) my camera suddenly decided its batteries were low. I went into the gift shop to see if they sold them (no) and then I audibly exclaimed over some cute hats they had and was told not to take photos of them. Because I had a camera in my hand. This kind of pissed me off, so I snarkily asked if there was anything else in the gift shop I was prohibited from photographing (no). You know, there were a lot of things in that gift shop I might have wanted to buy, but there’s no way that I was going to buy anything after getting that from the salesperson. We hightailed to the corner store up the block and paid federal pound-me-in-the-ass prices for 4 AA batteries and got back in time to wait another 10 minutes on the front porch for our tour.

It’s also known as the House of Lions.

Succulent in the sun; the shady side of the house was still snowy.

Once inside, though, the tour was pretty awesome. I highly recommend it to any Denver resident interested in Denver history or Molly Brown (her name was Margaret, the tour guide told us, she never went by Molly, that was bestowed after she died) or what the houses of rich Victorian-era folks looked like. The tour guide (or docent, maybe? it is technically a museum) explained what the functions of each room were (entryway, with statuary holding trays for calling cards; formal parlor and what one could discuss in there (your family, my family, and I think maybe the weather?); library; formal dining room on the first floor (and an explanation of Victorian custom regarding meals, how many one ate a day, and nothing about how one stayed thin when eating 12 courses at dinner)), why photos weren’t allowed (something to do with the antiques that furnish the house, many of which are original, aren’t owned by the historical preservation society that owns the house but instead by other people? probably just a ruse to get people to buy postcards.) and what Margaret Brown’s life was like, her relationship with her husband, when/how they came to Denver, how they ended up with all that money, etc.) and then we went up to the second floor, where she told us about the Titanic-related stuff and explained the function of each room we would see. The second floor had a bedroom for their daughter (but not their son; apparently he was mostly away at boarding school), for her parents, for her, for him, and perhaps the original Man Cave aka his study. Also, one bathroom. For the entire household. But in 1894, to find a great big house with running water, indoor plumbing, and heat and electricity, it was probably worth every penny of the $30,000 they paid!

After we oohed and aaahed over the fainting couches and the gorgeous stained glass, we went down the servants’ staircase to the kitchen, with a dry goods pantry and a butler pantry. The back porch was closed in, and held the laundry drum and the ice box. There was one more room, I guess where they have different exhibits and you can watch a movie about Margaret and her family if you like. The exhibit we saw was about lingerie during Victorian times, aka unmentionables for men and women (13 pieces! for women. 13! Sheesh.)

After we left the Molly Brown House, we headed up the street to the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art, which was mostly full of paintings by Vance Kirkland and whole crapton of stuff like you might see in a Modern Art museum (you know, things like chairs and teapots that are DESIGNED but probably not especially FUNCTIONAL). We spent about 15 minutes walking through rooms that were so full of stuff that you couldn’t really SEE anything, but it was still kind of interesting. Plus, the building is where Kirkland’s studio was, and he was a short guy who felt that his paintings shouldn’t have an up or a down (he sometimes would sign in two different places to encourage this) so he had this funny rig set up so he could paint horizontally (and also used skateboards to move his unfinished paintings around. or something). It reminded me of Maude Lebowski’s paint swing system, so I got a photo of it.

Kirkland painting. We couldn’t use flash, so the photo isn’t great, but I was trying to get a sense of the texture.

Brochure for some sort of “snack server” suggesting you serve snacks after (or during) bridge, movies, golf, motoring(!), boating, and football games. What, no tennis? Mah Jong?

And here’s the “snack server.”

I didn’t find the painting underneath to be especially vaginal.

We headed south to the Governor’s Mansion (and yes, the governor of Colorado and his family actually live there, though only the first floor was open to the public) and admired the opulence of all the different formal rooms (dining, library, solarium, etc.). The mansion was first lived in by the widow of Walter Scott Cheesman (who now has a park named after him, since he’s buried there along with a bunch of other people) and was later bought by the Boettchers, a well-known wealthy Colorado family. Apparently most of the furnishings were purchased by the Boettchers and never replaced, so there’s a lot of Art Deco-ish stuff, gilded French decor and repeated motifs of things like flowers and faces. I enjoyed seeing the inside of the house and also the grounds, which would be a perfect place to hold a wedding and grand reception.

Fancy lighting.

A whole lot of stuff in the house looked like this.

Back of a chair – but there were faces everywhere.

Also in this room, but not pictured: the desk where Obama signed the stimulus bill (transported to the Nature and Science museum for the occasion).

Sign of habitation: laundry basket on the second floor.

Back side of the house.

Mountains, museum, no emergency room

My cousin Scarlett was visiting for this past week, ostensibly in town to attend an event at the school where she’ll be starting a graduate program in the fall, but also to spend some time hanging out with us (I love it that she visits us!) We were able to have some adventures on Saturday and Sunday, and yesterday I took the day off to enjoy one last adventure before she left.

Saturday, we drove up to Estes Park to show her a mountain town, because when she visited last year while headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park Dan ended up in the emergency room for several hours having a rusty roofing nail removed from his foot. Luckily, this year there was no need for a visit to a local hospital, so we drove on up to Estes and wandered around the touristy bit. I was able to check Jive Turkey’s twitter updates (knowing her water had broken) through Scarlett’s crackberry, so that was helpful. We watched the taffy pulling machine and admired the rocks in the rock shop and bought some fudge, and I was very disappointed to find that the glass shop was no longer there.


Water wheel
After determining that Scarlett’s wallet was in the car (and therefore her ID), we drove down the canyon to Fort Collins and had some lunch in Lucky Eddie’s (it’s kind of like old-west saloon meets Irish pub, and they have a big barrel o’ peanuts at the front and you can grab as many as you like and throw the shells on the floor. So we did. I was bummed that I’d left the camera in the car, because there were some seriously impressive peanut shell piles on that floor.

The line on the back said, “Their old flames.” My knee, she has been slapped.

Our last stop of the day was at the O’Dells brewing company, where Scarlett wanted to do some beer tasting. Dan sipped a bit of each, but he was driving, and I tasted one or two of them but only found one (I think it was a light-colored wheat beer) that I didn’t find thoroughly disgusting. I took a shot of Dan with the beer for his brother, who loves O’Dells, checked the crackberry again to determine that JT had, in fact, had a bouncing baby Spats (hooray!), and we headed back down to Denver.

I drank some of the one on the far left.

He’s a beer man.
Sunday we all slept in really late and didn’t get going on our adventure until the afternoon. It was also steadily drizzling rain all day long. Even so, we walked to City Park and went to the Nature and Science Museum. I found some cool things to take photos of and really enjoyed the wet air, such a rarity in Colorado. On the way back, we stopped in at the Tattered Cover on Colfax and spent some time browsing. We tried to get ice cream at Lik’s but it was closed for Easter.

Rainy flower

This makes a roaring sound when you put a coin in it. Dan said every time he hears it he flashes back to being five years old.

Mined in Colorado

Hee. Nugget.

Aquamarines, also from Colorado.


I love so many of the things in the Prehistoric Journey exhibit.

Spine and shadows.


This thing is enormous. How did they manage to hold their heads up?

Monday was gorgeous and warm, and Scarlett and I walked down to the commercial strip around first and Broadway. I’d heard a lot about the stores in the area (particularly Fancy Tiger) but had never been there other than to go to a movie at the Mayan. I also thought that Scarlett might be interested in some of the stores, and I was right. We ended up seeing all kinds of cool stuff in a shop called Decade (complete with a male cat named Stella, or Stella the Fella as the cashier called him) and having a fascinating conversation with a shop owner. On the way home, we stopped for lunch at the Spicy Pickle at 9th and Lincoln. When we got back to our house, Dan was home from class and eventually we returned to Lik’s and got ice cream, then popped into the pub next door for some beer (and girl beer for me; I call hard cider girl beer for those who might be interested).

Stuff is finally starting to put out leaves again.

It’s a candy store! and an appliance store? Floor wax and dessert topping?

It was a great long weekend and a great visit. Today I am still quite tired, and somehow with all the walking we did I appear to have hurt my leg again (same leg, different spot), but I’m glad we were able to have so much time to spend with my cousin. She rules.

Snow day: The Aftermath

We ended up getting about a foot of snow yesterday, all told, though most of that fell before noon. We had blizzard conditions for most of the afternoon and evening (high winds, whiteout, etc.) but the actual snow was powdery during that part of the day and didn’t add up to much volume. We had a lovely time hanging out, watching a movie, napping, eating popcorn, and drinking hot chocolate. I got some work done on my latest baby blanket. And this morning, we both had to go in to work, though we’ll both end up leaving early (Dan is already home).

I took my camera on our walk to the grocery store, but forgot to put the memory card back in, so didn’t get any photos of the snow in progress – but I did take some on my way in to work, and then of the view out the window closest to my cube.

Deaths, weddings, births, and ploofs – four life milestones

Things that are on my mind recently:

How I am far more bothered by people dying relatively young in accidents (Natasha Richardson, of course) than by people dying of old age or dying of diseases. Accidents are unpredicatable and scary, but there’s not much you can do to prevent them. I do my best to prevent illness and disease, but short of encasing myself in a bubble for the rest of my life and never being able to experience the world again, I’m just going to have to chance it. I’m really sorry for her family, though.

How even people who consider themselves to be nonconformist and easy-going can get all worked up about wedding planning, especially when looking at other people’s wedding porn (tm Ariel of Offbeat Bride). I confess to being this way myself to a small degree, but knowing the constraints of time, budget, and space, I never let myself get too worked up over stuff other people were doing for their different and/or unusual weddings. Ours, quite frankly, ended up being far more traditional than I expected but there were enough quirky touches to make it our own, I think. I remember posting on Hillary’s blog while she was still working out the last kinks of wedding planning, trying to reassure her that honestly, nobody will notice if the flowers aren’t exactly what you were hoping for. And you won’t notice, either. It’s hard to look back and think that reassurance from anyone who’s already gone through the whole wedding rigamarole would have helped matters for me, because you don’t really know until it’s all over. I hope my comment way back then helped Hillary, and I hope that in the hypothetical future when I am hypothetically doing things for weddings, I’m able to impart a bit of serenity.

That I know a whole lot of people who are currently in the last stages of gestation and will be giving birth soon. (JT, holla!) Am currently working on yet another blanket for an April arrival, and will probably do a hat and booties or something for a friend due in May because I just don’t think I’ll want to be doing blanket knitting once it really warms up.

That we just went through the warmest, dry-est winter I can remember since I moved to Denver. We’ve hardly had any snow at all and it’s been mostly in the 50s and 60s for all of February and March. What the hell, Colorado? Where’s all my snow? I only got to see ploofs ONE TIME this year. ONE TIME ploofspotting is not enough for my necessary ploof quotient. WHERE ARE MY PLOOFS? (I do realize that having written this, the universe will hear my hue and cry and we’ll get another March blizzard that dumps 2 feet of snow downtown or something.)

And tonight, we’re having an out-of-town friend over for dinner who we haven’t seen since New Year’s Eve of – 01 to 02 I think? Should be fun!