Renovation Weekend Bootcamp

When I included a dedicated “redesign” section on Colorado Pretty, I had grand ideas of posts filled with lavish “after” photos that came from uninspiring and drab “before” scenes of a living room, bedroom or office that I had swooped in and rescued. But dreams really do come true, and one day, sooner rather than later, those are what you will see. We’re publicly putting it out there into the universe now.

For now, let’s take good advantage of smaller scale aspirations as training for what’s to come. My spare room in my condo is a tiny one and has slowly been used as a place to literally throw everything that I did not want in plain sight. Until this weekend. The work began around 7 PM on Friday night and as I write this at 5:30 PM on Sunday evening, it has just concluded.

So here it is, the before (eek), during, and after of what was a major clean out. 





This desk, in white, is on its way from Wayfair and will arrive soon!


The Evolution of My Anxiety Dreams

Last night, I had an anxiety dream that I’ve never had before. Not only was it interesting because it was new but also because its events occurred in a different time period in my life than other dreams that I’ve had when I’m journeying through particularly worrisome times.

In the past, I’ve had two different anxiety-induced dreams. In both of them, I was in college. The more common of the two finds me during my senior year of college. It’s finals week of my last semester, and it occurs to me that there was one class that I enrolled in that was required to graduate, and all semester I had forgotten to go. There’s nothing I can do and I’ll have to stay another semester in college before I can graduate. Although this should be cause for celebration, delaying the real world for a few more months, I’m ruled by the emotions of sadness, fear, worry, and disappointment in myself. This is never a good feeling to wake up to. Maybe this dream occurs when I feel like I’m not living up to my full potential or am dissatisfied with what I’ve accomplished. This is usually a good indication to reflect on what it is I am proud of and to set some short-term goals to get my head and momentum going in the right direction. Insightful right? Don’t be fooled. I usually wake up and have to get going (to the gym, to work, wherever) so that reflection isn’t always likely to happen. Because life.

My second dream in my college-era occurs when I’m back at my college waitressing job. I’ve gone home for the night after work only to remember when I get home that I’ve left while all of my tables are still eating dinner and, therefore, must still be sitting there wondering where I’ve gone. This dream doesn’t leave me as traumatised as the former but again can be linked back to what’s happening in the present day. It’s likely that the resurfacing of this dream has some roots in my relationships with others and probably occurs when I feel like I’m neglecting friendships.

This brings me to my thoughts when I woke up this morning. In last night’s dream, college was over. I was now two years out of college, teaching kindergarten in Chicago Public Schools. It was the first day of school. Many people don’t realize that teachers go “back to school” about a month before the kids show up on their first day. So much needs to be done to get a classroom ready, lesson plans written, etc. In my dream, it was day one and my new students were lined up outside waiting for me to lead them to where they would spend the majority of their waking hours for the next nine months. All of the other teachers were talking about all of the work they had done to get their classrooms ready and were dressed in their most respectable “first day of school” teacher outfits. But where was I? Not only had I not set foot in my classroom, thought about a single lesson plan, or looked at my class list, I also hadn’t even gotten in the shower yet. I needed at minimum another thirty minutes to at least shower and look somewhat presentable before I could go out and meet my new students just to bring them back to my classroom where they wouldn’t find their names on their assigned desks or their nametags over their cubbies. What they would find was a teacher who was completely unprepared and had no plan. How could I have let this happen? It’s not surprising that lately I’ve had this same feeling of showing up completely less than prepared, somewhat panicked, and wondering how in the world I’ll be able to pull everything off.

I’m left wondering what event prompted me to graduate (in my dreams) from college and enter the real world, even though the real world I faced at 23 is completely different than the real world I face today. I’m also left with the realization that the subconscious is pretty freaking amazing, and I’d love to get to know mine a bit more intimately.

Manitou Incline

I’ve lived in Colorado for 4-1/2 years. Until recently, I had yet to hike the Manitou Incline. I had heard stories about how intense it is and noticed how those who had completed it wore it like a badge of honor. Climbing 2,000 feet in elevation, I had been warned that, somewhere along the less than one mile path, I would curse my decision to take it on.

Last weekend, as I finally got around to making my way up the incline, it didn’t surprise me that there were moments when I thought to myself how ridiculous of an idea this was. I wondered why Colorado had to be the state with residents that pride themselves on being so fit that it brought hundreds of people out to this trail on a Sunday afternoon. But these moments were few and far between.

Instead, I found that those moments were far outnumbered by the ones where it struck me how fortunate I am. I got to get away from the city (but not for too long), feel some muscles I haven’t felt in awhile, and breathe in some fresh air in the presence of some good company. The experience was so symbolic of quite a few journeys in my life. I turned around about halfway up and saw how far I’d already come, realizing that I had high and low moments behind me and knowing there would be plenty of both before I got to the top. Just like all of those other journeys, I was reminded that turning around before I reached exactly where I was headed would never be an option for me. The 4-1/2 mile trail winding down to the start offered the chance to take some deep breathes and realize that the outcome was well worth what it took to get there.

Manitou Incline Facts
Distance: 0.88 miles
Location: Manitou Springs, Colorado
Elevation at highest point (peak): 8,590 feet
Elevation at lowest point (base): 6,500 feet
Number of steps on Manitou Incline: 2,744

The Manitou Incline gains 2,000 feet in elevation from start to finish. The average grade for the trail is 45 percent and, in some places, it is as steep as 68 percent.

The Manitou Incline was originally built as a cable car to carry materials to build pipelines on Pikes Peak.

Essential Girl’s Guide to Traveling

I’ve been on a few trips lately and I’ve found the following small investments to make a huge difference before and during my travels. Let me know how these work out for you!

The “Not For Tourists’ series provides helpful neighborhood and city maps as well as places to go that are not your normal tourist traps. With this guide, no one will doubt that you’re a local. Not For Tourists Guide to London 2017

If you’re traveling to another country, you’ll want an outlet adapter. Pick up one of these before arriving at the airport and you’ll save yourself enough to buy plenty of magazines for the long flight. Travel Adapter, LKY DIGITAL Worldwide All in One Universal AC Plug Adapter Power Converter International Wall Charger with Dual USB Charging Ports for US EU UK AUS Europe Cell Phone (White & Black)

Cords and chargers and earbuds…oh my! Pick up this handy travel pouch to keep your wires from getting crossed and stow your portable power bank too. Carrying Pouch, iMangoo Hard Protective EVA Case Impact Resistant Travel Pouch Bag Power Bank Organizer Sleeve Pocket With Mesh Accessory Pouch & Carrying Strap for USB Cable Earphone Pink

If you’re traveling with a buddy, it’s much easier to listen to that show you’re both binging on Netflix when you have this headphone splitter. No more debating over who gets the left earbud and who gets the right. Belkin Speaker and Headphone Splitter

I’ve enrolled myself in a class to learn how to pack for a trip properly and efficiently. However, I’m the instructor. I’ve made some progress over the last few getaways and I attribute part of it to the use of the Whitmore Adjustable Garment Rack. I haul it out and hang up pieces that are appropriate for the trip, then make sure I have enough picked out to cover the number of days I’ll be on holiday and the occasions I’m attending. Transfer the clothes to my luggage and off I go!

One giant piece of luggage that looks like a big black hole? Keep things organized with these packing cubes. I’m not sure how I survived without them. AmazonBasics 4-piece Packing Cube Set | Small, Medium, Large and Slim

This little gem saved my life when hopping around London. Big enough to carry what you need with you. Small enough not to feel a thing. Derek Alexander Small Teardrop Bike Pack

Roasted Veggie Quinoa Casserole

Last week on a chilly winter evening, I wanted to make a casserole that gave the illusion of being ‘comfort food’ without the calories and heavy post-dinner regret. I came up with a very satisfying dish that left me feeling good! The quinoa and black beans in this dish are high in protein, making it a satisfying one-dish meal. 

Roasted Veggie Quinoa Casserole

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

  • 1 cup quinoa, any color
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large butternut or other fall squash (1½ to 2 pounds)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into ½-inch dice
  • ½ cup chopped kale, stems included
  • ½ cup canned no-salt or low-sodium black beans, drained
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons no-salt-added medium–hot curry powder
  • 1½ cups (375mL) low-sodium vegetable stock

HOW TO MAKE IT

Put the quinoa and water in a glass bowl and set aside to soak while you are prepping the vegetables.

You can use either frozen or fresh vegetables. Frozen veggies made this recipe a lot quicker to make but fresh vegetables will likely taste better. If going with the fresh option, peel the squash, cut it in half, remove the seeds and strings, and cut into a ½-inch dice. Add to a large mixing bowl, along with the carrots, celery, kale, black beans, if using, and garlic.

Drizzle the oil over the vegetables and toss. Sprinkle with the curry powder and toss until evenly coated. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Spray or oil a large lidded casserole dish. If you don’t have a lid, cut a piece of aluminum foil to cover. Set aside.

Drain and rinse the quinoa. Add the drained quinoa and stock to the casserole dish. Gently agitate the dish to distribute the quinoa evenly, while keeping it submerged in the liquid.

Carefully add the vegetables evenly on top, spreading with a spatula and keeping as much of the quinoa in contact with the liquid as possible.

Bake, covered or wrapped tightly in foil, for 35 to 45 minutes, or just until the vegetables are fork-tender.

Remove from the oven, uncover, and let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Never Enough Monograms

I recently bought quite a few monogrammed mugs as client gifts for the holidays. Here are some of my favorite ones! They are inexpensive gifts that scream thoughtfulness and class. Enjoy!

Monogram Mug on Amazon

White with metallic gold mug on Amazon

World Market White Glossy Porcelain Coffee Mug with Gold Monogram and Handle on Amazon

Black Letter ceramic coffee mug on Amazon

Quinoa. More please.

By now you’re most likely aware of all of the reasons why quinoa is good for you. Quinoa was first consumed by the Incas three to four thousand years ago (give or take) and “was the gold of the Incas” because they believed it increased the stamina of their warriors.

Quinoa is a good source of proteinfiberironcopper, thiamin and vitamin B6. It’s also an excellent source of magnesiumphosphorusmanganese and folate.

Knowing the coming work week may require the stamina of a warrior, I whipped up this recipe for dinner tonight and it did not disappoint.

Vegetarian Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad (Gluten-free, Vegan if you skip the feta)

What You’ll Need

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth (go with the veggie broth if you want more flavor
  • half a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 – 3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt to taste (I used sea salt)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese (optional)

How to Make It

In a medium pot, cover the quinoa in vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a slow simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Set aside.

While the quinoa is cooking, in a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, scallions, garlic, fresh mint and fresh parsley.

Once the quinoa has mostly cooled (it can be warm still, but not hot) add the cooked quinoa, olive oil, lemon juice and salt, tossing gently to combine well.

I found that is tasted yummier when I chilled it in the fridge for 15ish minutes before serving. A little hint of summertime flavor that tastes right any time of year.

Things I Learned about Relationships When a Relationship Didn’t Work

After exiting a relationship that left me wondering where the person had gone that used to inhabit my body, the biggest revelation I had was that I needed to take a long hard look at myself. As much as I liked the thought of how much I could have saved on my therapy bill by blaming everything on my former partner, that would have been taking the easy way out. At some point doing that would be the most expensive choice I could have made. We choose the people we’re with for a reason. As hard as it may be to admit, that reason may not always come from a healthy place. If you up-level to a healthier place, your odds of finding a gem increase exponentially. Here are some of my thoughts on how to pick the right person by being the right person.

1. Take a look at what you were taught about how relationships work. Do these jive with what your adult self believes? Think about the most significant relationships in your life and assess whether or not you and your person should have the same dynamic. It can take some time to tweak your beliefs and internal dialogue.

2. Don’t lose yourself.

3. Live your life like you could take care of yourself in the other person’s absence.

4. All other relationships are still important.

5. Don’t get lazy. Continue to be the smoking hot lady you are. Translation: take pride in every aspect of yourself even when you’re “off the market.”

6. When you find someone who has some lasting potential, choose that person every day.

Disclaimer: If you follow the steps above, buckle up. The objects in your review mirror may be closer, and potentially larger, than they appear (see the beliefs I refer to in #1). The good news, though, is that with time and some serious effort, they’ll disappear.

Spring Back to Vail

Last weekend I attended Spring Back to Vail, an annual spring bash celebrating the end of winter.  I was there mainly for the music, as well as for all of the other reasons that people find themselves unable to stay away from this little oasis in the mountains. Listening to the music on Saturday night, I found myself forgetting about all of the things that plague my mind day in and day out in Denver.  The tunes, the vibe, the company, and the scenery made me feel like the real world was so much farther away than the reality of my office existing just 90 miles east off of I-70.

I reluctantly left Vail on Sunday morning, and the Rocky Mountain high lasted well into Monday morning, and then it was gone. This trip was the perfect mix of so many things, so much so that, while standing at Ford Amphitheater on Saturday night listening to music, I found myself thinking and then saying “life is pretty good, isn’t it?” I know I’m not the first person, and most certainly not the last, who has wanted to bottle up the bliss that is Vail and take it with them when they go.

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