Friday, September 30, 2011

Basic Survival Skills

Last night John and I made a trek out to Boulder to attend a free Basic Survival Skills class at REI.  

It was hosted by Ford Church - the founder of the Cottonwood Institute.  It's a great program, by the way - it helps kids (and adults) get outdoors and explore nature and the world around us!  From the website, it was founded "to inspire young people to initiate positive change in their schools, their communities, and the environment in order to strengthen their civic engagement, environmental stewardship, and leadership skills."

Pretty rad, huh?  Like camp, but WAY better. 

Anyhew, the class really just touched on the basics, but it was a great start for things to know if you ever get stuck in a sticky situation.  Here is a VERY basic list of some of the things I learned. 

1.) Be prepared before you even leave your home.
This seems pretty self-explanatory, right?  You'd be surprised how many people do not leave prepared for their hike in the wilderness.  Basically, have your map (and know how to read it), have your compass (and know how to use it), and ALWAYS tell someone where you're going.  

2.) Always be ready in case of an emergency. 
This means carrying things on your person (not necessarily in your bag, because it could always get lost or fall off a cliff - which has really happened!).  Our instructor says that whenever he goes on a hike or when he's teaching a class, he always has a good knife on a string around his neck, with a matchless striker attached to it in case he needs to start a fire.  Smart smart!!

3.) Shelter comes first. 
If you're lost, and darkness is approaching, food and water are not your top priority.  Staying warm is - and with temperatures dropping significantly in higher elevations at nightfall, well you better be ready!  You need to keep your body away from the ground on some kind of bedding.  You can do this with pine needles then covering yourself with them (it'll make a kind of "convection" of your body heat).  He gave us examples of simple lean-to's and things like that as well.  

4.)  Remember the simple rule of 3's.
3 minutes without AIR
3 hours without SHELTER
3 days without WATER
3 weeks without FOOD
And yes, these are in order of priority. 

We learned much more than that, but those are some of the bare-bones basics that we learned.  I could go into more detail, but I didn't take full notes about everything! ;) 

Some things that Ford suggested for us to always take with us in case of an emergency: 
- 3 different ways to start a fire (ex: strike-anywhere matches in a waterproof container, a lighter, and a matchless striker)
- cottonballs rolled around in petroleum jelly (he said it's a great way to get a fire started - just light the cotton in the middle, and it will burn much longer when it catches the jelly on the outside)
- A good knife
- An army surplus rain jacket (for shelter as a tarp, and many other uses)
- a space wrap (I may be calling this the wrong thing, but it's the really shiny super thin silver sheet that reflects your own body heat.  It can be used to signal for help by reflecting, or to hold in body warmth.)
- A flashlight or LED light (signaling for help - S.O.S.) 
- heavy string / twine (for putting together a shelter)

It was a very informative meeting, and I'm really glad that we went!  I really didn't know as much as I thought I did.  How about that?  

After the lecture, John and I headed out to find some grub.  We ended up at the Walnut Brewery & Restaurant, and enjoyed a pretty fantastic meal!  
We started with spinach & jalapeno cheese dip which was ridiculously good.  John got the 2:00am Burger (topped with hash browns, cheese, bacon and a fried egg - oh, my!), and I got their homemade Veggie Burger.  

Why, yes it's a heart attack on a plate.  But it's SOOOO GOOOOD!

 I really think this is one of the best in-restaurant veggie burgers I've ever had.  SO HAPPY that they weren't trying to offer me another damn Boca Burger.  Go for homemade!! :) 

And yes, that's mayo on the side.  Don't judge me. 
We also shared a flight of their beers, John went with the Buffalo Gold, and I got their ROCKtoberfest which was deeeeelish!

All-in-all turned out to be a pretty great date with my fella.  We learned stuff and we ate stuff, and it was pretty damn good!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tomato, Asparagus, Mushroom Pizza - plus, Das Hustlehoff 5k!

One of my favorite quick-meals to make is pizza with a big 13" tortilla instead of dough.  It's like having a pre-made pizza crust around all the time!  I like to buy the different flavors that they sell at the Farmer's market, but any kind will do.  I can eat a whole one by myself, but if you're watching portions, you could easily split this with someone!  

Tomato, Asparagus & Mushroom Pizza (personal-size)
- 1 13" tortilla
- 1/2 a heirloom tomato (sliced)
- 4-5 mushrooms (sliced)
- 4-5 stalks of asparagus (cut length-wise in half)
- tomato sauce (about 1/3 a cup)
- your choice of cheese (I used a mozzarella / provolone blend, with a little bit of asiago)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Meanwhile, assemble your pizza!  I use a spoon to spread out the sauce, then I do the cheese next, and the vegetable toppings last.  Like so:

I like to arrange everything so it's pretty-like! 

Next, season everything with a little bit of salt & pepper, and garlic salt if desired.  I like to spray the top with oil as well. 

Pop it in the oven and cook for about 5-10 minutes!  When the edges start getting crispy, it's ready to go.  Let it cool for a minute before cutting too - it makes it a little easier since the tortilla makes for a flimsy crust.  Using a large spatula, carefully lift each piece and transfer to a plate.  Enjoy!

Yep, I may have to have this again for dinner tonight!  YUM!

On another non-food related note - Fall is definitely here!  I loved the wind rustling through the leaves outside my work the other day that I took a pic while relaxing on my break... 

More lovely fall pictures to come soon! 

OH, and did I mention that Stacey & I finished our 5k last weekend??? Well we did!!  It was for the Das Hustlehoff 5k in downtown Denver - for Oktoberfest.  They encouraged people to come "in costume" so naturally, I did!  What's funny is that I already owned that costume - I've had it under my bed for ages just in case I needed it.  It came in handy after all! 


I love these shots of us crossing the finish line together.  We're so damn happy!  We finished in 33 minutes 38 seconds - no walking.  I was elated, and we already signed up for our next race!  WE ROCK!! :)

Stacey & I celebrating with free beer after the race.  I'm so proud of us!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Halloween PARTY - Decorating Ideas

I know - not for another month... well more than a month.  But I LOVE Halloween!  

This year me and my fella are throwing a big party, which will be a ton of fun.  I really want to go all out without spending a bunch of dough, so that means I'll need to get pretty crafty.  

I found some great ideas on Martha Stewart's website (which about half of the pictures below are from).  Any more ideas??  Anything would be helpful! 

I think this is a fantastic idea - and so simple!  All it would take is some black paper, a bit of time with scissors, and some tape.  And it looks almost pretty if you ask me! 

This idea would be awesome... if I still drank milk.  Well, I do drink Almond and Soymilk, but those cartons probably wouldn't work quite as well.  Darnit!

I kind of LOVE this idea.  On Martha's website she wants you to make the "mirror" yourself, but I bet just cutting out paper eyes and sticking them to the bathroom mirror would work just as well. 

I love the look of these fake ravens everywhere.  The only thing is that fake birds can get pretty pricey.  Maybe I could create a similar effect with cardboard birds?? 

This is great if most of the light for your party is coming from candles - any other light in the room wouldn't make the shadows.  It's a neat idea though! 

I think this is absolutely hilarious!!  
I think my favorites in this one are the owls.  You'll have to check out Martha's website on how to make 'em though! 

I think these apple "shrunken heads" are a total riot.  And pretty darn cheap to make too!  

OH, and just so you know - this is who I'm thinking of being for Halloween.  It's going to be quite a challenge, but I think I'm up for it!  What's even more hilarious is that John might be going as the exact same person.  Which is even more awesome. :)  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Black Swan

I finally watched "Black Swan" which I've been meaning to do since...oh, it came out in theaters? 

I actually rented it from the library, so naturally it took about 3 months to come in.  But it was worth the wait (and free no less)! ;) 

This was definitely an intense film.  Really beautifully shot, and Natalie Portman absolutely blew me away.  I mean, this girl is amazing.  And Mila Kunis was awesome too as her opposite!  I was very impressed with everything about this film.  It was dark, and strange and creepy - but really worth watching.  Click here for a great review and interpretation of it!

You can really tell that these girls worked their asses off to portray experienced dancers too.  And I didn't think that their bodies could get any tinier but they totally did.  And muscular - WOW!  I have heard that Natalie Portman was criticized because she used a body double in a couple of scenes.  Gimme a BREAK people!  This girl clearly worked unbelievably hard for this role, and so what if she used a double - she still did most of the work herself. 

I still don't know how people can move their bodies the way that dancers do - or deal with the pain and stress of it all at the same time.  Dancers are the most amazing (and most graceful) athletes on the planet! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday Funday / Sister's Birthday / Book Club!

Time to play a bit of catch-up! :)

A couple of weekends ago my friends all gathered for "Sunday Funday" in Wash Park.  We used to do these pretty much every Sunday during the summer, but everyone has been so busy that our first of the summer kind of ended up being the last!  Whoops!  

We still had a great time - there were plenty of games to be played, and plenty of catching-up to do with everyone.  It cooled off a lot at night too which was great! 

Oh my gosh - I'm such a dork.  Haha! 
I kind of love this picture of Katy & George!  Aren't they just gorgeous? 

What a beautiful evening, and a great way to round out the summer! 

This past weekend was quite fun in itself!  Thursday was my little sister's birthday, so we met up in the morning before I had to go to work.  We went to Watercourse (just one of our most favorite restaurants in Denver), and when the server found out it was Taryn's birthday, he brought her a little surprise! 

Yeah, that's a vegan sweet potato cinnamon roll.  That's what I call a happy birthday!

On Sunday we had Book Club - we read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland last month.  We also welcomed our newest member, Kendra!  Check out her blog A Grimm Tale - she just moved to Denver, and we loved that she wanted to join our little club.  She rocks! 

This pic is blurry, but Lauren decided to dress very Alice in Wonderland -like for the meeting.  It was totally adorable! 

Nikki also brought her little one, Nico - who was just born in July!  My mom couldn't stop asking about him - I think she was just thrilled to hold the little guy.  He's so adorable!!

Adorable AND fashionable! :) 

Remember those sweet potato cinnamon rolls I just mentioned from Taryn's birthday breakfast?  Lauren brought some to Book Club.  YUM!!!  I can never get enough of those!  All the other food was delicious too - I just wish I would've thought to take a picture before I started eating it.  I have no willpower. ;) 

There's Kendra - our newest member!  YAY! 
We sure do love talking about books!!

Hope you all had as wonderful a weekend as I did! :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Anywhere in the world...

If you had the choice to go anywhere in the world - where would you go? 

My Dad has made a crazy generous offer to his daughters: 
Name a place, and I'll take you - as long as I can come too. 

Last year my little sister went with Daddy to Fiji and Tuvalu... 

Where the heck would you go??  
No, really - I need ideas.  Please help. 

I've been to Italy, France, Scotland, England - I'd really like to go back to those places again and experience them in new ways, but I'd also really like to have an adventure somewhere else... 

Here are some of my ideas: 
I know what you're thinking - "you can go anywhere in the world and you want to go to ALASKA?"  Yes, I do.  Shut up.  It looks beautiful, and I bet there's plenty of wonderful outdoorsy things you can do there!

There we go!  Somewhere outside of the US of A.  And on the other side of the world, no less!  A completely different culture, a language I can't even begin to understand - and some of the most amazing sights to see.  Definitely on the list. 

Sweden / Denmark / Norway
Crap.  My dad has already been to Sweden (and relatively recently too).  I guess I'll have to find another place... unless he'd agree to go again??  I'd love to group together a trip to all 3 of these locations too since they're all attached. ;)

Machu Picchu
This would be one heck of a challenge (for both of us), but I'd love - LOVE - to make the trek up to Machu Picchu.  This picture is enough for me.

The Bahamas
My dad has been here too - but not for a while.  I might take this one off the list though... it would be an amazing choice, but I think I'd rather do this as a "romantic" vacation with my fella. ;)

Oh, how I've always wanted to go to Iceland!!  The volcanic pools, the northern lights, the beautiful scenery.  It looks absolutely amazing.  This is a big one on my list!

That's all I have right now!  Right now Alaska & Iceland are the two that I'm really leaning towards... but we'll see. :)

Where would YOU go?