Fall in Aspen, or, Perfection

One of the most incredible places I’ve visited since moving to Colorado? Aspen. We headed up to Aspen to visit friends this fall, and I can’t get it out of my head. A few snaps of the weekend exploring.

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The drive to Aspen is incredible. On the way up, it was already dark, but Sunday was such a surprise!
Aspens!
Aspens!
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We pulled off the road to take in more of the view. This hardly does the scene justice.
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If one day I can live in a forest of Aspens, I’ll be very happy.
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While on the trip, we headed up the mountain on a lift and went for a hike. A must-do if you visit Aspen.
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This ragtag bunch made the trip!

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At the top of mountain is a little cabin which we paused at for a bit to rest and take in the view.
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The weather changes in a second. See the clouds in the picture above? Always on the lookout for storm clouds.
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Love having this guy home from Mexico!
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These two. Look at those smiles. Aspen is beautiful. So are the people.
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Remember when I said Aspen is beautiful? ❤ the mountains.

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Driving! We took Independence Pass instead of the main highway. Highly recommend it for the views.
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That said, it is not a drive for the faint of heart…
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Cheesing at the Continental Divide. By cheesing, I mean freezing. SO cold.
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Always thankful for tourists who swap photographer duties. Especially when they know how to use my camera better than I do.
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Very different scenery without the sun. Worth the pull off and quick walk on the path to see.

Can’t wait to go back to Aspen in 2015. It is a must. And now that Leo is back home for good from his international work adventure, we can plan it!

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St. Mary’s Glacier and Lake

Good friends say yes when you text them all but begging to go for a hike on week three of your husband being away on business. And then you get lost, drive like a maniac, take beautiful pictures, and enjoy a few hours of beautiful fall day in Colorado. So thankful that my Colorado community is so wonderful.

Beautiful, no?

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Just a quick hike up a nice path and the view opens up to this.
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Alex and I trying to get the pup to pose with us. Because when the scenery is this pretty, you have to take a picture!
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This girl. Love her and her perfect pup!
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These trees are straight Dr. Seuss on a twisted hillside. So creepy. But amazing at the same time. Such a great morning with these kids.
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Greg, Alex and Elliott… and Bailey! Great friends who I am SO grateful for joining me on a Saturday morning hike.
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Here’s the beach at St. Mary’s Lake. This lake is absolutely the coldest body of water I’ve ever felt. My hand lasted in the water for about two seconds.
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Colorado does clouds right.
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One more for prosperity.

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That, my friends, is a glacier. With people skiing on it. In 70* weather. Normal.
That, my friends, is a glacier. With people skiing on it. In 70* weather. Normal.
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When you lose your keys, drive an hour and then find them… you take another hour to drive around on dirt roads by yourself . And then you found the most perfect little serene spot. This is heaven on earth.

Dropping my keys at the trailhead was part of the adventure. We got back to Denver, I dropped everyone off, got home, ready to walk in my door, and realized my house keys fell off my keychain. No bueno.

I felt completely defeated. So I drove back up to the trailhead – an hour away – and just kept saying, “they’ll be there. I’ll find them.” And I did. Thanks for playing a little trick on me world, I appreciate it.

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Travel Wishes (on Sale)

Kate Spade sale with lots of travel goodies ends tonight! Just a few days after I learn that I’ll be traveling to Mexico City in the next couple months. Coincidence? I think not. If only the Playing Hooky bag was available…

The cross-body bag feels right for museums. This necklace may be coming home with me, too. And the casual skinny wallet that’s perfect for tossing in a bigger day bag with my camera, sliding into the cross-body with my museum guides and little memories (napkins, matchbooks, tickets, etc.) or carrying by itself for an evening out!

Excited to start planning my visit to the beautiful country of Mexico in the next few weeks!

(links are to the sale .. which expires in 4 hours. that’s probably annoying. sorry. hopefully I’ll update them later this week!)

 

Bon Voyage Necklace, Kate Spade
I’ll take one.
Santa Roalia Scout
Versatile for exploring, safe cross-body, great details.
A wallet for all the time, a stylish clutch for nights out!
A wallet for all the time, a stylish clutch for nights out

Dear 20-something news outlets: stop telling me not to go into corporate america

colorado, work life balance

If you read any news outlet aimed at twenty-somethings, you’ll read about what to do before joining the real world. There will be statements about doing what you love, about traveling, about taking risks, about moving to that incredible place you’ve always dreamed about.

What a novel concept of being middle-class and graduating college with options. I read these articles and am conflicted. Half of me says, “oh my gosh, why didn’t I think of moving to a new place or traveling the world?” Or, “why was I dying to get a good job out of college when I’d have my whole life to work?”
The other half of me thinks back to graduating college from a private liberal arts college in one of the most expensive cities in Chicago (oh how blessed I am, really). And how proud I was when I could pay my rent and start building my savings account because I found a good corporate job. And how planning my future was (and still is) a favorite activity.
I lived in a dump of an apartment with five girls and only four bedrooms in a less-than-safe neighborhood with month-to-month rent keeping us all “free” to leave if we needed. We had rat friends who would visit us when the storms were bad, probably invited by our pet rat (don’t ask).
But we had steam heat (a total luxury in older buildings). A seven minute walk to the train which took us anywhere in the city. A local grocery with the best prices, freshest produce and fresh-baked garlic sourdough loaves three minutes away. The energy of our college campus that we’d just graduated from down the street. And always enough money to grab a 30-pack of beers with our girlfriends.
When I graduated, I thought of nothing else besides finding a good job that afforded me these things – rent, small student loan payments (again, I’m lucky), and enough for a trip to TJ Maxx for new work clothes once in a while. Oh and beer, had to afford beer. That was my dream.
So when I found an internship that allowed me to maintain my 20 hours/week retail job because it started at 5:30 a.m. I was thrilled. And it paid? Done and done. I left my house at 4:30 to get to work on time. That means waking up at 3:45 everyday. And some days I’d work until 9:45 before commuting home. I couldn’t have been happier or more proud of what I have built for myself at a really tough point in the recession (I graduated in 2009).
The internship turned into the job at a PR agency that I stayed at for four years. I climbed the corporate ladder. I bitched at the water cooler about wanting more balance, less stress with the smartest and most incredible people. In reality, it was an incredible four years that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t been so damn driven to get a good job right out of college. Did I travel the world in a gap year? Hell no, and I wouldn’t have been comfortable doing it with the impending worry waiting for me when I’d come back. My dream was to work in a field that challenged me with awesome people and constant learning.
Work/life balance is a middle class construct, certainly, but it is a major component of a young twenty-somethings happiness. It matters, for sure. But I’m planning on a fabulous retirement. I’m planning on how I will have a house to raise a family in. Every week, I’m thinking about how my decisions prepare me for a long life of stability and happiness.
Travel is in that stable happiness. So is adventure. And passion. And love. And exploration. All of the things media outlets and trending articles on Facebook lead me to believe I missed out on by jumping into a “real job” right out of school. Stop it, news outlets. I don’t want to hear it and I find it rather disconcerting that you’re telling all these young, confused 20-somethings that getting a great job shouldn’t be their dream.
I didn’t miss out on anything. My best friends that I met in a cramped office closet during our internship are all driven, the people I spent time with at the water cooler at the big PR agency, the friends who also went hard into corporate America or nursing or teaching who I share beers with while talking about job challenges… these are my tribe. The people who took time off to find themselves before digging into their careers? Sure – their experiences are incredible. But I am glad I went to work. I am glad I work hard in an office while trying to find myself.
My dreams of travel and adventure have to fit within a corporate PTO calendar. My dreams of retiring comfortably fit within my 401k planning. Buying a house will be a reality because I chose to jump into my career right away.
Maybe my life would have been different and I would have a different outlook if I followed my dreams of traveling for a year or if I volunteered in a foreign country. But maybe my life is exactly how it was meant to be. And I love that my career is a big part of who I am. And that working is one of my passions.
I would love it if every 20-something writer would stop trying to tell me I should have done x, y, or z before starting work in the “real world.” Anybody else feel this way? Am I crazy for following a traditional path to success?
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A quick trip with girlfriends helped me realize how much careers matter and help us find happiness!

Living for the Moment

I had five weeks off of work. Ten days during that time were spent in Georgia with my family. And for the first time in a while, my camera never came out of my suitcase. And my iPhone camera was almost entirely unused as well save for one sunset. I enjoyed every minute with family and enjoyed Georgia, but I didn’t document every second.

Call me a twenty-something, but I’m all about having time where I’m just living. Not trying to capture the best Instagram shot or photos for this here blog. It went great – I had a great time. And on another recent travel adventure, I brought my camera only for a select activity. I’m digging this living thing.

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Why I Write

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With five weeks off of work, I’ve had plenty of time to think about what I love and why it makes me so happy. One thing that sticks out is writing. Sure I write a lot in my job, but this is a different kind of writing. Writing for fun, for joy! Maybe the best part of writing for me is that I can go back and read, especially my memories from travel.

In the past year, I’ve had a daily planner that I make valiant efforts at jotting a sentence or two down in about the day. While it isn’t a lot, it turns the mundane existence of daily life into little nuggets of memories. So, I write to remember. To feel the moments past. I post pictures to remember my favorite pieces of the places I visit. I write for myself and that is a darn good feeling.

2013: Year in Review

What a year it has been! This is about to be the longest post ever, and I’m writing it mostly for myself and my memories, so bear with me.

We started January of 2013 with good friends here in Denver who came to celebrate the New Year here. In February, we enjoyed cozying up in the cold of the month. I visited Chicago for work a few times and for Valentine’s Day, Leo I bought each other the same sweet gift – a half dozen chocolate covered strawberries. A favorite Valentine memory.

March brought us to Beaver Creek for some skiing/snowboarding with good friends. We celebrated Leo’s birthday with skiing and a great steak dinner in Denver (a must in our family).

At the beginning of April, my best friend in the whole world proposed to me at Red Rocks Park and I said YES! Certainly one of the best days of my life and no hike will ever top that one!

A weekend in Kansas City and a Saturday spent in historic Weston, Missouri with Leo’s dad and his girlfriend rounded out a great month of travel weekends.

The first weekend of May I spent time with family in Georgia for my grandmother’s birthday. We threw her a party and all of her kids that could were there to celebrate with her. The joy of having family to celebrate a birthday, especially for my grandmother, was immense. Seeing her that happy was a once-in-lifetime moment for sure.

The second week of May we were off to Miami for our five year anniversary. A work trip for Leo midweek turned into the perfect opportunity for me to fly out for the weekend. And what a weekend it was! That city is in my heart as a favorite destination in the entire world and I can’t wait to go back. I believe in pied-a-terres and pray one day my wallet can afford this belief in Miami.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we took a quick cruise into the mountains to spend the night with a good friend from Chicago and his now fiancee. Grand Lake always ranks high on our lists of great weekends in the mountains, and I much prefer it to the busy slope towns! The last week of May, and I was back in Chicago for work and then some more family time with my cousins.

The first week of June saw us in San Diego. My first few days in the great state of California were spent on an amazing business trip in LA, and then I took a gorgeous drive down the coast to San Diego to meet Leo, his mom and her husband. Off to a high school graduation with visits to a historic town in SD, dinner with old friends from Chicago overlooking a carnival and horse racing track and frequent stops to dip our toes in the cold ocean under the foggy skies. I fall in love with California every time I visit. San Diego was no different.

A quick trip to Chicago, and then down to Michiana (was it Michigan or Indiana? I have no idea) for a wine festival and bachelorette party rounded out a packed June. Over the last weekend of June, and into July, two of my college girl friends came to Colorado for some R&R – hiking, horseback riding, drinking and brunching were all we did for four fabulous days.

July started off at Lake Wawasee in Indiana for an incredible long weekend with one of our best friends. The house, the food, the company – all absolutely top notch and over the top, but in the most unpretentious way. My birthday came and went with good food and the love of my life treating me like queen! Kid Rock tickets – a favorite of mine – were the perfect gift!

August was another busy month with another bachelorette party in Chicago, and then 12 more days in Chicago at the end of the month for two extra special weddings of two wonderful girlfriends. The honor of standing up next to them as they start this next chapter was such a blessing for me, and we all had a great time!

August was almost a blur with all the excitement that carried into September. Tons of good friends came from Chicago to Denver for a whirlwind weekend of concerts and catching up. Then, another wedding, this time in Michigan City, Indiana, and another adventure. After flying in late Friday night and learning we couldn’t get the rental car we’d reserved, we hopped in a cab into Chicago and had a fabulous night out with friends. 7 a.m. came mighty early, but back to the airport we went to grab a car and drive down to Indiana for the wedding festivities. More drinking. More eating. More celebrating love with friends. A perfect combo.

Rounded out September in Georgia with my family. Kayaking, antiquing and cruising the old roads was just what the doctor ordered to close up shop on a super busy summer. I found my wedding dress that last weekend of September and waited to hear if Leo and I would be relocating to Mexico City. We aren’t (exactly) relocating, but the push to find the perfect dress with my family all around was well worth the initial stress.

The leaves turned and we were off to NYC for a quick weekend in October. Fall is a great time to travel – the colors, the energy of the upcoming holidays, the nostalgia of getting into the swing of the school year. We happened upon some great friends who had left Chicago for NYC and enjoyed catching up and seeing as much of the city as possible in two days, with a nice trip upstate for some army football.

The looming news of the pending relocation to Mexico City made October a blur, but we made it through. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it to two more weddings of good friends (one in Chicago, one in Dallas) at the end of the month. And then November was upon us. Before the Thanksgiving holiday, which we spent in Kansas City, I decided to leave my job for a new position here in Denver. A bit nerve-wracking leaving the comfort of your first job and certainly scary, but mostly thrilling and intriguing.

Our lovely Thanksgiving holiday with family (new and old) and old friends was perfect. And now it is December. A mere 20 more days until the new year, and plenty of time for reflection on a great year that is passing. December, thus far, has been about grounding myself in what matters. Relaxing with hardly a worry in the immediate hours, and spending as much time with Leo as possible before the Christmas holidays and the new year.

2013 was the best yet! Leo and I traveled the country together, spent time with family and friends, celebrated love (ours and many other couples) and enjoyed every minute of it. Feeling absolutely lucky and blessed this holiday season to have enjoyed such a spectacular year!

Travel: New York in the Fall

Does it get prettier than this?
Does it get prettier than this?

Leo’s company invited us to a West Point football game in New York a few weeks back and we stayed in Manhattan at the Omni Berkshire. I’d always thought that I wouldn’t like NYC because I don’t love big cities after living in Chicago for 7 years, but I was mistaken. I adored New York City. Everything about it had me dreaming of moving there right away.

After meeting Leo outside of the city when I flew on Thursday night, we took an early morning cab into Manhattan. Coming into the city, I had the same butterflies I have when I see the skyline in Chicago. A curious excitement. As we drove, I couldn’t take my eyes off all the little shops, the traffic, the people, the clothes, the energy of such a huge city. Hour 1 in NYC = hooked.

After checking into the gorgeous hotel, we only had a few hours before we had to start getting ready for dinner with the company. Never the one to shy away from touristy things, we hopped on a bus to drive around and see as much as humanly possible in three hours. It rained a ton, but there we sat on the top of an outdoor double-decker bus and took everything in. Seeing the neighborhoods fly by just made me more excited for my next trip! We will be exploring a few select neighborhoods next time instead of trying to see everything.

Look up. Always look up.
Look up. Always look up.

We had dinner at Carmine’s, and then grabbed drinks at the hotel before calling it a night. Had to be up early the next morning for some football! We drove out to West Point on a coach bus with Leo’s company and napped most of the ride up, but the view we woke up to was incredible. That campus is a stunner. The game was great, hanging out with Leo’s company and meeting all the folks I’ve heard so much about was great. Everything was great!

West Point's campus in the fall is a picture of perfection.
West Point’s campus in the fall is a picture of perfection.
We cheered loudly for the West Point team, such a great east coast college experience.
We cheered loudly for the West Point team, such a great east coast college experience.

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Docks on the river.
Docks on the river.
Really, this place is incredible.
Really, this place is incredible.
The colors of the fall in the hills of New York would make any summer baby fall in love.
The colors of the fall in the hills of New York would make any summer baby fall in love.
<3
❤ this picture – bummed it is a bit blurry!
The train station on campus with some of the incredible fortress-like buildings in view.
The train station on campus with some of the incredible fortress-like buildings in view.
A little pre-game tailgating in a tent on the water.
A little pre-game tailgating in a tent on the water.

I can’t wait until our next trip to NYC, which I imagine will be upon us in the next year. We spent Saturday night on the lower east side, and then headed back that way for Sunday brunch before I hopped on a plane home. Leo had a few more days of work in Connecticut, which gave me plenty to time to dream about living in that glorious city before we settle down. I’ll be back soon, NYC, and missing you until that time!

Lower east side breakfast: gruyere, egg and spinach skillet, perfect bloody mary, and bacon.
Lower east side breakfast: gruyere, egg and spinach skillet, perfect bloody mary, and bacon.
Freeman's - the cutest restaurant in a perfect little alley. Lower east side.
Freeman’s – the cutest restaurant in a perfect little alley. Lower east side.

Thankful

Tis the season to remember what we’re thankful for, so I figured a quick list was in order!

  • Family near and far, almost all of whom I’ve been able to see at some time this year
  • Friends, oh friends, how wonderful you’ve been this year! From weddings to smaller celebrations to walks for water and coffee in the office, I’ve been so lucky to have such great friends. Moving across the country last year was a challenge, but my friends, new and old, constantly remind me that I have so much to be thankful for.
  • My future
  • A great year closing out that was full of new experiences (engagement, Miami, New York, the list goes on…)
  • Leo – he continually supports me in every decision I make which makes life wonderful
  • Travel and everything that comes it, including the wonderful folks at Southwest who make travel a breeze, the strangers who have given us directions and recommendations…and I’m really thankful that I’m able to travel. I know it is a luxury that I work hard for, but I’m truly thankful for the opportunities I have to see the country. And next year – maybe another country. 🙂
  • Coffee
  • Books
  • People who recommend books
  • The Library! Since I started volunteering at the Denver Public Library, I’ve been extra thankful for this public service. They let you take books home for weeks at a time — FOR FREE. Imagine that.
  • Eggs (don’t judge – I love the little suckers and feel that all good meals made full of love often have eggs in them)
  • Technology. Say what you want about how important it is to shut down and turn off once in a while (I agree), but technology provides me a job, let’s me FaceTime with my parents whenever I want and keep in touch with friends and family around the world. That’s a great thing.
  • Chocolate and/or ice cream. It stands with coffee as one of those things that makes everything better.
  • Christmas. I love everything good about it and happily turn a blind eye to much of the negative aspects of the holiday season. There is enough good to downplay the bad.
  • Flannel shirts (times 7 because that’s how many I bought at a pre-black friday sale. Oops.)
  • Monogrammed everything. For this I blame the College Prepster and Cinco Powell. See, I won a customized monogrammed Cinco Powell bag on the College Prepster blog, and I’ve been getting tons of compliments and suddenly, I have a new obsession.
  • Writing, and more importantly, the time to do it in this month.
  • Lady Grey tea, a softer, more citrusy version of Earl Grey which has been in my cup almost as much as coffee this fall and into the winter.
  • Magazines – especially Town and Country, Smithsonian and Bon Appetit this month.

Like I said, I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Cheers to this year and the year ahead!

xoxo,

E

It’s been a while…

But here we are amid the chillier weather and family feasts, happy and warm. I cannot be more thrilled with the incredible year that is coming to a close this month. Some very scary and exciting things are on the horizon – hi new job for me! and position for Leo! – but for this next month, I’m slowing down and being thankful.

Before starting my job with a new company, I took some time for myself and am so thankful for the opportunity to really slow down and enjoy the holidays with my family and friends.

We got started this weekend visiting Leo’s dad in Kansas City, an absolute favorite city in America kind of place. While only one picture came from the weekend, I had a wonderful time being welcomed into a family’s home with 27 other family members. That is reason alone to be gracious and thankful!

 

Other stops on our weekend included Anton’s KC: a fascinating taproom, eatery and butcher shop. A+ service and a standout burger with fries. The Mac ‘N Cheese, while not the best I’ve ever had, was worth it for the table to share. Gouda makes for good mac ‘n cheese. If you go, make sure to check out the hydroponics system in the basement to see where your  spices and fish are coming from. Antons Logo

 

We also spent some time in Westport for beers and cocktails, including Harry’s and Buzzard Beach, with friends whose families live in KC. KCMO knows how to do a dive bar for sure! And of course, tons of football on the couch, some competitive rounds of Rummy and laughing with Leo and his family. A wonderful weekend for sure.