Monday, April 26, 2010

Brand New Toy!!

This is my first official blog post using my new MacBook Pro. So far I am very impressed. Well, except for one thing. I can't seem to get my iPod Touch to sync with it, because I already synced it with my school computer. I guess the Apple Tech who calls me tomorrow will have to explain that one to me.

Anyhoo...this is my test post for not only my MacBook, but also iPhoto. I uploaded some pictures I took of the yard a few weeks ago, and I have been wanting to post them here. So without further ado, here goes nothing......

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Is It Friday Yet??

Some weeks are tough. But some weeks are even tougher.

This has been a tough week.

I lost a student. One of my 8th graders was killed in a car accident last Thursday. Even typing it doesn't feel right. It bounces around inside my brain and refuses to settle down.

Morgan was such a wonderful boy. He was sweet and always smiling. I never heard him say anything mean to any of his classmates, in spite of the fact that some of them treated him like dirt. He never once acted cool, but then again, he never worried about being cool. He was Morgan. He was extremely tall, and liked it that way. Everyone else was "shortie."

As a teacher, you see kids come and go every year. You never really think about something happening to one of them. But this is the second student I've lost since I started teaching in Colorado. Last year I lost a first grader to an ATV accident. It takes the wind out of your sails. It is exhausting to worry about what effect it will have on your other students. Will you be able to support them? Will you be able to concentrate and teach them anything?

I've been looking around for signs of spring, trying to pull myself out of the funk I'm in. I'll post some of the pics I took in the yard over the weekend later this week. By then, maybe my new toy (the MacBook Pro I bought with my tax refund) will be here and I can inaugurate it with a blog post.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sushi Sasa

Poor Devin. Everytime we go to a new place, the first thing I want to do is scout out the sushi situation. I love sushi. I mean, I really LOVE sushi. And I really do feel guilty about dragging him along all the time, but not quite guilty enough not to do it. He assures me that he likes it and it's fine with him. But I'm not so sure sometimes. I love him for lying to me, though. :)

I did some advanced sushi research before we left for Denver, and Sushi Sasa showed up on several best of lists. And pretty much by accident, on Wednesday after we toured the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, I asked the guy at the desk on the way out if there was any decent sushi nearby. And imagine my surprise when he mentioned Sushi Sasa was just around the corner!

Just to make sure I was good and hungry before we went in, we made a pilgrimage to the REI flagship store (which is just across the street from Sushi Sasa). This was a beautiful compromise for Devin and me. He gets to run around in outdoor store Makkah, and I get some very good sushi. Actually, he ended up not buying anything in REI, while I purchased a cute little handbag and 2 pairs of grown up socks (yes, Diane, REAL SOCKS). The ones I had on my feet were giving me blisters.

Anyhoo, after shopping at REI, we hopped across the street to Sushi Sasa. The girls at the front desk were fittingly snooty for a restaurant of its apparent caliber. When we told her two for dinner, she feigned disappointment and asked if we had a reservation. I answered no, we didn't, and would that be a problem? She showed us to a table, while telling us she had a reservation in an hour, would that be enough time? Enough time? Indeed. I made the most of my hour at Sushi Sasa.

I linked to their website, which includes their menu. We ordered edamame for a starter, then had the Big O Tempura, the BLT Roll and the Veggie Tempura Roll. I also had tuna and unagi nigiri.

It was indeed excellent sushi. And really, very reasonably priced. You'd think with the snooty service it would be more expensive!

I'm sure it will become a regular stop on all of our pilgrimages to the big city of Denver!

Vesta Dipping Grill

During my research for our trip to Denver, I came across the Vesta Dipping Grill on more than one list of the best restaurants in Denver. So I took a chance and booked a reservation there online.

The ambiance of the place is great. Our reservation was for 7:45pm, so it was all softly lit and candle-like, you know, romantical stuff.

The menu covers lots of territory. I linked to their page above, which lists their full menu. I had pretty much already decided what I wanted to get, but it took a little time there for Dev to make his decision.

I ordered as our appetizer the Vesta Roll, which was a tuna loin, rolled in toasted sesame seeds and panko, then quickly pan seared. It was perfect. A great way to start a meal...fresh and clean tasting. It was served with a sweetish-miso-soy dipping sauce.

For my entree, I ordered the duck breast. It was served with truffled farro and bacon sauteed brussel sprouts. Each entree comes with 3 sauces. You either take the ones suggested with it on the menu, or pick 3 from the list on the menu. I took 2 of the suggested sauces (black pepper aoli and cilantro pesto) but picked one of my own (coconut milk something). In my opinion, the sauces were completely unnecessary, which, I realize, is completely against the whole concept of the restaurant. But the meat was so perfectly cooked, and the sides were great the way they were. The sauces just seemed to mask the flavor of the main attraction. I really didn't use mine.

Dev ordered the smoked chicken served over bacon lentils. I don't remember his 3 sauces, but he didn't really use them, either.

The desserts were really good. I had sticky toffee pudding, served with creme anglais, chocolate ganache and strawberry coulis. Dev had the caramel apple, rolled in some kind of granola and caramel, then sliced and served with chocolate ganache drizzled over it.

The food was good, but next time I'd like to find a fondue restaurant, or something else a little more different, or exotic.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

This is the view from the evening (event) entrance to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Dev and I visited Wednesday morning...along with every school aged child within 50 miles of Denver. Ironic for two teachers on spring break- TRYING TO AVOID REMEMBERING THAT THEY WORK WITH CHILDREN EVERYDAY. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

What a neat museum! We went to see the iMax movie "Arabia." It was simply breathtaking! Narrated by Dame Helen Miren (sp), it was made by a young film maker from Saudi Arabia. He has been attending film school in Chicago, I think, for the last 7 years. It glossed over a bit of the uglier side of the regions history, but as a travel piece it was gorgeous.

The other exhibits at the museum included an Egyptian mummy room (really cool), regional diorama rooms for Africa, Australia, etc., a small insect exhibit, an educational room about space (with cool 3-d model projections and stuff like that), a Native American exhibit and a prehistoric look at the Denver area. I'm sure there was more stuff, but we had been there all morning, and we were getting a little tired of dodging children, so we left.

If you have kids, you really should take them there. Even if you don't have kids, you should go...just not during spring break. Go late in the afternoon. Just sayin'....

The Tattered Cover

Dev and I are both book store freaks. We simply can't walk by one without going in and killing an hour or two.

As we were both doing a little research before our trip to Denver, independently, mind you...we both ended up putting the Tattered Cover Bookstore on our lists. We didn't figure out until we were there that we both wanted to go.

We went to the downtown location, which has to be the coolest. It's in the 16th Street Mall area, on the corner of 16th and Wynkoop. It is huge, and it's covered with books. Plus, it has a cool coffee and tea shop right as you walk in the door.

We went twice during our visit, both times in the evening. I can't think of a better way to wind down after a full day of sightseeing. As usual, we separated the minute we walked in the door...Dev wanders off to case the joint...I walk directly to the cookbook section. An hour or two later, we will wander around and look for one another, just to check in.

We both showed remarkable constraint and didn't purchase anything (except t-shirts...his is a tattered cover one and mine just says "read.").

I feel sure that visits to the Tattered Cover will be a part of all subsequent Denver trips.

The Gregory Inn

When Dev and I began planning our trip to Denver a few weeks back, we discussed our itinerary before we discussed where we would stay. Remarkably forward thinking for us, actually. After looking at the map, we decided to stay in the "LoDo" area of Denver, which I think stands for the lower downtown district- or the older part of town. We looked up bed and breakfasts and came upon a little gem called The Gregory Inn. This picture is the view of the Denver skyline from our room.

I have to admit that as we drove off the highway to it, I was concerned. As in most American cities, the area of town where the Gregory is located was once a very posh address, but as the city has grown, the poshness left with it. To give you an idea, the Greyhound bus station is across the street. Nuff said.

But I'm so glad we hung with it. While you're inside, you completely forget where you are. We were met by the man that I assume is the owner (he lives in the house next door). I think he said his name was Stephen. I'll make sure to clarify that next time we go- and we will go again. Anyhoo- he was the nicest guy EVER. He let us into our room, showed us all the bells and whistles (gas fireplace, garden tub with massage jets, projection tv- already programmed to foodtv- a bag of ice in our freezer, etc). When we asked about walking around in the area, he told us that for the last 12 years they had had no problems. Then we asked about our dinner reservations and he recommended a very reasonably priced car service, as it would be very late when we would be getting back.

Our room was small, but so luxurious. The bed and linens were exquisite. When you sat on the bed, you just sank down into plushness and comfiness. The sheets were beautiful and so soft. There was a gas fireplace and a garden jet tub. After walking as much as we did the two days we were there, that tub was a wonderful thing to have. I didn't take any pics of the room because we were too busy enjoying it. I will next time, though!

We were able to walk to the 16th street mall area of town, which is a very trendy, shoppy place. It was about 7 or 8 blocks from the inn. If you prefer not to walk, there are public pay lots all around. On the mall you will find a shop for everything, as well as all kinds of bars and restaurants.

Speaking of pics, I did take some pics of the breakfast area of the inn. The place was very sumptuously decorated. It felt expensive, but comfortable. Take a look for yourself...

Now, let's talk about breakfast. The whole reason one stays at a bed and breakfast is for the extra service and the breakfast. The Gregory does not disappoint on either count. The first morning we were there, Tracey made vanilla silver dollar pancakes, ham and cheese omelettes, fresh fruit and blueberry vanilla yogurt parfaits. The second morning it was a crustless egg/green chile quiche with more fresh fruit and toast. It was heavenly. Next time we go, I want to trade breakfast recipes and take a peak in the kitchen!!

Next time you're planning a trip to Denver, I can not tell you how happy you will make yourself if you plan to stay at The Gregory Inn.

Breakfast...Thoughts on....

Hashbrowns aren't very photogenic, huh? I like them anyway, though. So we went to Denver this week and stayed at a Bed and Breakfast. Needless to say, we have come home spoiled. More on that later...

But I awoke this morning thinking about breakfast, as I often do. I love breakfast, when I have time to cook it. So I really should say I love weekend breakfast. If we eat enough breakfast, we can usually make it all the way to dinner with only a little snack in the afternoon to tie the two together.

This morning I went with scrambled eggs (Dev's favorite), a biscuit, some hashbrowns (my favorite) and some orange slices. As breakfasts go, this was a pretty good one. I had time to patiently scramble the eggs, so they had the desirable custard-like consistency (low and slow). The hashbrowns could have cooked a little longer to brown, but they tasted fine- although that had more to do with the ham in them than the cooking method, I think.

A great way to start the day!

Mental Housekeeping...

I really think everyone needs a day, now and then, to clean the cobwebs out of the corners of their brains. I'm going to do that today, since we're having a blizzard here in Rifle, and we can't really do anything else. Ok- well I could be lesson planning, but I'm putting that off for tonight and tomorrow.

I have many mental housekeeping tasks that need my attention. I need to blog our Spring Break trip to Denver (so much fun!). I need to blog the dried tomatoes currently festering away in my oven. I need to blog the home made stock simmering on my stove... You get the idea.

So, get ready for some blog spewing.
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