Friday, September 19, 2014

maroon bells, aspen (the good, the bad, and the ugly)

For months I had been looking forward to our Aspen trip. It had been two years since we last visited and this vacation was going to be epic. We, the Bermans, were going to take Aspen by storm! I had grand plans for our mountain getaway: we would eat fabulous food, pick up fresh pastries and fruits at the Saturday market, hike through Maroon Bells for hours, browse the shops, and spend quality time inside the new Aspen Art Museum (which happens to be designed by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, the Pritzker Prize winner and also one of my favorite dwelling builders). Yup, like I said, it was gonna be epic!

The drive up to Aspen went well. We made it in good time (under 4 hours with minimal traffic on I-70), and a pit stop in Vail for dinner helped break up the ride. By the time we got to the hotel both kids were asleep and the transfer from car to hotel room went smoothly…

And then, in the morning, things took a turn for the worse. 

Medium-intensity meltdowns during breakfast ballooned into full-blown tantrums by lunchtime. But I was undeterred. We were going hiking! It was gonna be epic! So we boarded a bus and everything was calm, that is, until we disembarked. By the time we got to the lake—that famous one right in front of Maroon Bells — it seemed like no one wanted to listen to instructions. Both kids kept putting their shoes in the water despite our pleas (I didn’t have replacements) and then the fighting began. Trying to distract them I said, “Look at the mountains! Look at the lake!” But nothing was working

After some deep breathing everyone was calm again and we set out for Crater Lake, a hike that is just under 4 miles round-trip. We were only about ¼ of the way into the trail when it became clear to everyone (at least to Matt and me) that this just wasn’t going to work the way we (I) planned. My seasoned, veteran hikers had other plans.

After another tantrum, and a few frustrated utterances by me, Matt decided to lead the boys back down the mountain and bring them back to the hotel. It was really nice of him to do, but my guess is that he probably felt he “owed me one” since he was going to San Francisco and then to Reno for a job related convention that would leave me with the kids for 5 days by myself, without backup. This was going to be my only chance at a break for a little bit, so I took it…

I climbed – alone –  for about 2 hours until I was joined by a group of chipmunks (my granola was leaking from my backpack). The leaves were gorgeous and the hike was spectacular. When I got back to the hotel, we all went swimming and then spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing. Instead of a fancy Aspen dinner we went to a restaurant where we ate relatively decent enchiladas and burritos. We then leisurely walked around the historic parts of town, and went to the playground. It was simple and unambitious; the kids loved it.

I mention all this because from the photos I have of our trip you’d never know there were, ahem, issues. I think it's important to be honest, especially in this forum. All too often things look picture-perfect, and more often than not they aren't. I also bring up our tribulations because I feel like I learned a valuable lesson. I, as a parent, have to adjust my expectations. I sometimes demand a lot from my kids—that’s fine and I hope in the long run it’s good for them. But mixed in with all the expectation there has to be the realization and the admission that I must not push them too hard. They need down time and a lot of rest. They can’t always be on the go, sit still for long meals, or hike for hours. I need to roll with the punches a little bit more. It’s really not fair to treat them as adults, because they aren’t—they are only 5 and 3 years old.

That said, we will continue to expose them to things we deem “adultish”- like this State’s beauty and great hiking. We will continue to take them to museums and foster their creativity. We will bring them to rallies and try to explain why it’s important to be engaged. And we will keep taking them on trips that have less ambitious itineraries.
No, Aspen didn’t turn out to be the picture perfect vacation I thought it would be. But looking back it was still wonderful, especially after I adjusted my expectations…

My favorite photo from the trip? This one of Theodore sitting at a table in a Himalayan/Indian/Nepalese restaurant in Silverthorne, Colorado. Taken by his brother Otis. 
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Saturday, September 13, 2014

friday favorites: wood!

This week’s Friday Favorites features wooden* accessories for the kitchen! What are some of your favorites?
Enjoy your weekend!

1. Cutting Board from Shop Terrain
2. Baguette Cutting Board by Lostine Minam
3. "Big Bear" Axo Bowls, set of 3 by Wolfum
4. 1.2 Cutting Board from Objets Mecaniques
5. Walnut Totem Cutting Board by Blade & Knoll
6. Modern Neon Hardwood 7" Salad Bowl by Nicole Porter via Etsy
7. Silicon Utensils by Universal Expert by Sebastian Conran for West Elm Market
8. Bottle Rocks by Brush Factory at Brighton Exchange
A fun resource for American Made products (filled with great walnut serving boards and rolling pins):

* Wood vs. Wooden? Read this.

Thank you Carly Loman of DLD PR for assisting mewith this collage. 

Note: This is not a sponsored post. I do not have any personal or business relationship with the companies mentioned, however the principal of my firm does have a working relationship with UE for West Elm. 
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Friday, September 12, 2014

denver's union station (+ the kitchen next door's beet burger)

Have you ever walked into a space and thought, "I'd like to take every single thing home with me? Those lamps would look perfect here, and that chandelier- despite its size- would look perfect there…" That's how I felt the first time I walked into the new Union Station in downtown Denver. The renovation is spectacular; the design is impeccable. Each piece fits the space and contributes to the historic feel of the station. It's gorgeous: the couches, the lamps, the desk lighting. And don't get me started on the crown molding and the restaurant decor…it's something you should see in person.

The summer is almost over and it feels like fall in town. Some mourn the end of long, warm days but I really love this time of year. I see it as a time for renewal, though I think most people turn toward spring for that feeling. I'm cleaning my closets, donating old clothes, making piles of books and toys that we no longer need or use since they are meant for babies (we're not having anymore…"two and through"), and scrubbing every inch of the house. I'm trying to organize all aspect of my life since I've made the transition from stay-at-home mother to working 1/2 - 3/4 time now that Otis and Theodore are in pre-school till 3:30 every day.

Recently I've found myself thinking about the past...

I miss those early days when Otis was first born (at this exact time of year) and we spent hours circling through Prospect Park. He was so tiny and it such a sweet time. I think about the first 6 weeks following Theodore's birth that we spent in our tiny apartment right before we moved to Colorado. My heart feels full when I remember how I spent so many afternoons with the boys exploring a city that was new to us then and that we now call home. 

I realize that I'm fortunate to have spent so much time with Otis and Theodore when they were extremely young, despite the trade-offs. But now there are only advantages - at least in my eyes- with both going to school for more hours as they prepare to enter "real" school next year. And for me, I'm excited to be working more and more. I actually love what I do. 

While it's been busy on the work front, last Friday afternoon I had some down time so I decided to peek around Union Station - this time with my camera and without my boys…

For more information on the history and amazing transformation of Union Station click here. For more information on the restaurants and shops click here. I wasn't able to photograph everything because some restaurants were already closed for the day (Snooze is open from 6:30 am- 2:30 pm) or had not yet opened (Merchantile Dining + Provisions opened on September 8th and I've been hearing great things), so check it out for yourself!
* * *

After walking around the station I grabbed a quick lunch at The Kitchen Next Door. I ordered the beet burger, which was topped with balsamic glazed onions, arugula and feta cheese. It was delicious! Lucky for me, and for you, I have the recipe. Thank you, thank you to The Kitchen Next Door for sharing this (below), and for your great work through community outreach and education! Enjoy.  

Beet burger photo courtesy of Davis Tilly Photography
Next Door Beet Burger
Courtesy of The Kitchen co-founder and chef Hugo Matheson
(Printed with permission)
Makes 5 6-ounce patties
1 ¼ cup mirepoix (diced carrots, onion, and celery)
1/8 cup olive oil
1 pound roasted beets, quartered
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 egg
¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
pinch cayenne
pinch smoked paprika

Preheat a pan over medium heat and add olive oil, then the diced carrots, onions, and celery. Sweat until soft and all excess liquid has evaporated.

Place roasted beets and cooked chickpeas in the food processor with the cooked mirepoix and mix, pulse until a rough paste forms. Empty mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg and Panko bread crumbs, and stir together. Add seasonings. Form into patties on a parchment-lined sheet tray and chill. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350°. Cook for 15 minutes until hot in the center but not too dry on the edges. The Kitchen Next Door serves the burgers on potato buns with balsamic onions, feta, and Arugula tossed in lemon olive oil.
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