My Traumatic Brain Injury: Why I’ve Gone Dark This Summer

Not that anyone has honestly noticed, because, let’s be real, we’re all just on social media for ourselves, not really for other people, but some of you might have observed that I’ve been absent from things like Instagram and Strava for the last 6 weeks. [Edited to add: I’ve gotten back on Strava. Not Instagram though!] Unfortunately, on June 14th, I suffered a mild traumatic brain injury from a mountain bike accident.


The Story

In a nutshell, I crashed while working on my sick jumps at Ruby Hill Bike Park, which is still an awesome park and I hold no grudges towards it. It was about 7:45 on a Thursday before work, and I was with a couple of awesome, radical lady bikers who were coaching me on clearing small jumps. After sending probably 100 jumps, better than I ever have before, I guess I landed on my head during what was supposed to be my final lap through the Small line. I can’t say for certain since I don’t actually have any memory of the accident, and genuinely thought I had said goodbye and headed to my car to go to work. Guess not.


Apparently I was knocked unconscious for a few minutes, an ambulance was called and I was taken to Denver Health. I woke up there several hours later with a painful IV in my wrist wearing a hospital gown. I remember seeing Garrett and asking him why I was in the hospital – he told me I’d suffered a bike accident. A CT scan showed bleeding on my brain. I was surprised to see him – he had been up in the mountains for a work trip that morning. Hours had passed.


The next few days were rough. I don’t really remember them despite being semi-lucid. I ended up going home that night and proceeded to sleep for pretty much the next 5 days. It was worse for Garrett than it was for me, he tells me, not knowing if I would regain feeling in my feet or get my personality back. I’m lucky to have missed all of this, honestly. I slept through the worst of it!

What I feel today is that I’m closer to normal than not, thank God, and I’ve been getting better every day. I’m medically restricted to a part time schedule at work (which is being super flexible and helpful, thank god), I’m only allowed to walk 30 minutes a day (but I will eventually have my exercise limits increased, thank god) and I can’t drink this summer (but should be able to again, eventually, thank god). Emotionally I’m kind of a wreck – I get overwhelmed and stressed out over little things, I’ve been crying way too easily, I feel down about the reduced status of my life this summer, and while that all sucks it’s comforting to know that these are really common symptoms for TBI patients and I’m not alone or weird for feeling unstable and all over the place.

float tank

The Healing Process

My research into my concussion has sparked what I imagine will be a lifelong interest in the brain. Which, I’ve learned, we know basically nothing about.

Regardless, I am obsessed with healing, with getting better, with coming out the other side of this even healthier and happier than I was before, so I am learning. I want the fact that I didn’t die, that my neck isn’t broken, that I am walking and talking, to not be for nothing. I am grateful to be alive and I want to take this second chance seriously. This blog is what I hope will be the first of many posts, as well as the the first of other healing endeavors that maybe will launch me into the next chapter of my life.

As I’ve deep dived into an array of blogs, podcasts, primary research, Reddit forums, conversations with random TBI survivors (have you had a brain injury? I want to know EVERYTHING) what I’ve learned is that some in the medical community think brain injuries should really be considered diseases, since the symptoms can last a rather long time, much longer than a normal accident-related injury. My neurologist told me his patients see him on average for 9 months.

That is not okay. I want to ski again this winter.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to try ALL. THE. THINGS. Sensory deprivation float therapy (highly recommend, it is incredible), vibration acoustic therapy, binaural beats, cranial-sacral therapy, YIN yoga, you name it, I’ve tried it all (well, except for HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen treatment), and I have to say, they WORK. Each therapy has offered me something different and unique as I’ve traveled along my healing journey, and I’m genuinely grateful for the healing boost I’ve received from them all.

Above all, I credit the therapies, particularly float therapy, paired with a keto and an alcohol-abstaining diet, for my fast-ish road to recovery. My neurologist said he was impressed to see how well I was doing so quickly. Basically, if someone somewhere says it works wonders for TBI healing, I’ve tried it. And you know what? I think they work.

So here’s to wrapping up the summer with a newfound gratitude for my life and capabilities after having spent most of the summer taking it easy and tapping into a slower and beautiful way of living. I’m excited to get back on my bike (which I admittedly have dived back into despite the consternation of my doctors) and see where the rest of this interesting and changeful 2018 will take me!





So You’re Going on a Float Trip…


After three years of annual float trips, I think I have a good understanding of what it takes to make this kind of adventure comfortable and pleasant. What is a float trip, you ask? Well, it is not a whitewater trip, that is a totally different beast. These are lazy floats that even novices can do. Luckily enough for us in Denver, we have access to many, many float options. We pack up literally everything we can possibly fit on a big raft and spend two to three days in glorious, off-the-grid bliss. It’s like glamping, but on a boat.

While there’s a lot that can go wrong (and believe me, I’ve experienced some of those bad moments), if you are prepared and open-minded, floating with 10 of your friends down a beautiful river will be the highlight of your year.

To get started, you’ll need to do some research about the best rivers and outfitters in your area. Google will be your best friend to get started. Generally, an outfitter will provide the raft (we always choose 4-5 person rafts), an air pump, life jackets + paddles for each person on the trip, a toilet (yup), a fire ring, and the shuttle to and pick up from the launch and takeout sites.

Once you have the trip booked, it’s time to dig into the details!

Here are my tried and true tips & tricks to ensure that you have everything you could possibly need while out on the river.


Clothing and Personal Dry Goods

UPF shirt (a long sleeve shirt with SPF, like this)

Bandana (for neck/head protection, also doubles as a wipe for things)

Hat/visor (very important)

Sunglasses (polarized to avoid glare off the water)

Sunglasses strap (to keep your sunglasses afloat should they fall off, like these)

Warm long sleeved layer (for the night time)

Long pants (for night time)

Several bathing suits (to wear a clean suit each day)

Tech shorts (something that will dry quickly in case you pull over to hike or whatever)

Tech tops (again, something fast drying)

Daypack (something to keep things accessible outside of the big dry bags – layers, phone, sunscreen, SPF chapstick, etc. I’ve had success using a casual bag with a laptop sleeve so I have space to put my hydration pack bladder.)

Water bottle (gotta stay hydrated!)

Raincoat (just in case)

Water shoes (something that will stay on your feet while swimming)

Flip flops (for camp)

Sleep clothes

Beanie/gloves/socks/hiking boots (if it will get cold at night)


Sunscreen (bring more than you think you’ll need)

Lotion (because when you’re finally out of the water you’ll realize how dry you feel)

Baby wipes (for a quick wipe off if you’re dirty or stinky)

External charger (for phones, speakers, etc)

Portable speaker (for tunes on each raft)

Comfortable outfit for the drive there and back (this can be left in the car so you have something clean and dry for travel)

Dry bag (it makes sense to purchase something inexpensive so you can keep your clothes and things dry, even if you’ll be renting a huge dry bag from the outfitter. I have this one and consider it my float trip suitcase.)

First aid kit

Fun accessories, like big hats, flash tats, other river flare

Your own coozie

Personal mess kit (this one seems to be popular with my crew)

Sleeping pad

Sleeping bag

Sturdy tent that will survive a windstorm (just trust me on this one)

Camp chair

***Do not bring valuables, like irreplaceable jewelry!


Food and How to Keep Things Cold

Once you have your packing completed, the next biggest thing will be organizing food and booze. This is no small feat, especially for a group of 10-12. Here’s my best advice based on what’s worked for our groups.

  • Meal plan and shop for the whole group. We have found it easier to plan major meals for everyone in advance, for various reasons. It’s cheaper if everyone pitches in on the same food supply, and this keeps the number of coolers to a minimum. It also ensures that everyone has all the food they need for the whole weekend, and there’s no need for multiple grills or cook stoves.
  • Plan ahead. Since you know you’re not having eggs until the morning of Day 3, freeze cartons of egg whites in advance so they are finally defrosted in time for your burrito breakfast. Other meals we’ve eaten with success: burgers on the grill, pancakes, and my favorite, beer can chicken wrapped in foil and cooked in the campfire.
  • Set up your coolers for success. To keep the number of coolers to a minimum, structure your food and booze in different coolers organized by day. This means that the food you’re eating on Day 3 goes into a cooler labeled “Day 3” and taped shut so you know not to open it until then. This keeps the ice in that cooler frozen longer, and thus keeps your food at a safe temperature longer. Also, when a cooler empties out, you can fill it up with the bags of trash you’ll be packing out so they don’t take up too much space.
  • Dry ice is key. We dedicate one large cooler as the “ice chest,” where we place several unopened bags of ice over a single bag of dry ice. By keeping the bags unopened, the ice stays frozen longer and ultimately turns into an ice block that melts more slowly. Dry ice can be purchased at a gas station shortly before you launch your boats. The dry ice keeps the regular ice frozen longer so you can redistribute fresh ice each morning into any cooler that needs it.
  • Distribute booze equally. Let’s be real, a lot of our trip is oriented around drinking. For drinks, ensure that each raft has their own cooler so if your group gets separated, everyone still has access to cold beverages. Also, we like coolers that have cupholders built in to the lids so if the water gets choppy, you don’t lose your beer in the waves.
  • Bring snacks. We like to bring along snacks for the group, but just to be safe, bring along your own things. Bags of nuts, fruit, fresh veggies and various bars are good bets for the river.
  • Bring water. We bought several 5 gallon water jugs to bring along. We figure one gallon per person per day, and just make everyone fill their hydration bladders all the way up before launch. That water planning has worked out pretty well for us so far.
  • Don’t forget necessities. We like to bring along a big plastic tub with a locking lid for dry goods for camp. Inside we keep our camp pots, pans, cooking utensils, olive oil, s+p, other seasonings, dish soap, paper towels, toilet paper, roll of heavy duty trashbags, bug spray, machete + lighter for the campfire, propane grill, small plastic baggies to serve as dry bags for electronics, etc. We typically bring a second bin for non-perishable foods like cans of beans, bread for sandwiches, chips, etc.


Exploring the River

Don’t forget to pull over and explore when you’re rafting.

While on the Colorado floating through the Ruby-Horsethief canyons, we pulled over to do some cliff jumping and mud sliding. When we floated through the Flaming Gorge on the Green River, we found some excellent quicksand to play in that made the afternoon a blast. Other rivers offer extensive hiking and sightseeing opportunities. If you have a selfie stick or GoPro, this is a great trip to bring something like that along.


And that’s it, I think! Every year we learn something new, like the dry ice trick, because no matter what, you can always learn something from the river.

If you have any specific questions, let me know! Happy floating!

Six Things I’m Loving This Friday

Happy Friday!

One of my fave bloggers, Peanut Butter Fingers, runs a series every Friday where she features a few of the things that she loves in the moment. I woke up feeling chipper on this warm, summer-y morning and thought maybe now would be a good time to heap praise on the things that are most exciting ME as we head into the weekend.

1) Raw Tortillas

I bought a pack of these raw tortillas at Costco at the urging of my good friend Emily, and I am so glad I did. They are one of the best things to happen to my kitchen! They cook in a skillet in just a few seconds and are equally good served with some homemade pork as they are fried up in a quesadilla. The difference between store-bought ready-made tortillas and these is alarming – definitely pick some up and give them a whirl if you’re interested in changing your life.

2) Blood Orange Margaritas

Last night for Cinco de Mayo, we visited our favorite local bar, NOLA Voodoo Tavern, for a Colorado Youth at Risk fundraiser. On the menu were the most amazing margaritas from Ruben Cerda, who will begin selling his famous blood orange margarita mix in local Whole Foods locations soon. If you come across some, pick it up! Unlike most margarita mixes, this one was tart, not sweet, and made for the most delicious and intense margarita I’ve had in a long time. I’m a huge fan! And now I’m craving more margs tonight…which leads me to my next favorite thing!

3) Celebrating my Denver friends

Tonight, I’m excited to celebrate the birthday of my good friend Rachel. She has been an integral part of my Denver life since I moved here nearly 5 years ago, and I’m pumped to go out and get rowdy in honor of her. Plus – this means I get to visit Punch Bowl Social, a fun bowling alley/restaurant/bar that for some unfathomable reason, I’ve never been to in all the years it’s been open. So I’m excited to check that one off my list!


4) Mother’s Day and a crepe party

Sadly, I don’t get to celebrate Mother’s Day with my own mother this year due to pesky geographical differences, but I am excited to spend the holiday with Garrett’s mom! (Don’t worry, I sent my mom in Nashville a card and a gift.) I am preparing brunch at our house for Garrett’s family, and I got really psyched when the Smitten Kitchen, my all-time favorite food blog, posted this crepe party idea earlier this week to provide the inspiration for my menu. I’m really looking forward to it!

5) Walgreens’ candles


We burn candles in our house most evenings, so we pound through the rather expensive items at a rapid pace. On a recent trip to Walgreens, I was pumped to find these candles for only $10! I bought the vanilla cedarwood scent, and it’s earthy and woodsy with a hint of sweet that is just lovely. The wick is the kind that makes noise like a crackling fireplace, too, which makes the whole experience even better. As a plus, the candle has lasted over two weeks with daily burning, and still has a ways to go. I’ll definitely be purchasing another one when this one finally burns out!

6) The chickens

Obviously, these little avian dinosaurs had to be part of my list. This week the weather has been glorious, so in the mornings I’ve been moving the chickens from the indoor brooder to the outdoor coop. I know it’s probably lame, but there’s something about the early mornings, with a cup of coffee in my hand, the dog laying in the sunshine and the not-so-little-anymore chickies running around happily in the coop that really brings me joy. If I’m not heading off to work each morning like a responsible contributing member of society, at least I can make all the little beating hearts in my life happy. And they make me happy too. 🙂


What’s making you happy this beautiful Friday morning?




Basic Mountain Biking Gear That You Really Need If You Plan To Ride More Than Once, Ever

Let’s talk about mountain biking.

It’s on my mind because I kicked off my season last week with a ride through Betasso Preserve outside of Boulder. At the start of each new ski and mountain bike season, I like to assess my skill level and determine if anything has been lost in the downtime. Somehow, I always seem to pick up right where I left off.

Luckily, my first ride this season was no different. After a few hiccups, namely that it was SNOWING, I got back in the saddle and busted out some decent climbs, practiced my cornering skills and focused on engaging my core the whole time. Probably due to all the spinning I’ve been doing recently, I felt strong and capable. I also think that skiing, while a totally different beast, provides a similar mental challenge to mountain biking that seems to translate into ongoing gains as I switch between the two adrenaline sports. There’s something about picking your line, keeping your gaze up and out, maintaining your speed and quieting your mind so your body can do the work that applies very well to both.


A snowy but awesome first day back on the trails.

As I was riding along, I observed how far I’ve come from the eager but inexperienced biker I was when I started riding trails over four years ago.


But gosh I was cute. 😉

Not only had I never been mountain biking before, but I had barely ridden a bike as an adult for some odd, unknown reason. True story – one of my biggest regrets in life is that I didn’t own a bike in college. My walk to campus would have been SO MUCH FASTER if I had.

Anyway, much like skiing when I first moved to Colorado, I knew basically nothing about biking. What compelled me in the first place was my inherent love for nature and thrilling semi-dangerous sports, and that’s what keeps me going despite never actually being very good. 🙂

It sounds crazy, but mountain biking is incredibly meditative. Much like trail running or rock climbing, trail riding requires exquisite focus to the point that it crowds out most other thoughts. Out on the trails, it doesn’t matter if I’m unemployed, or if it’s snowing on me, or that I’m probably not going fast enough to keep up with the majority of my other biking buddies, because the only possible thoughts are, “Keep your upper body loose, point your knees out, gaze up, core engaged, attack position, whoo-eeee I just CRUSHED that drop!”


I may look like a noob but I was quite comfortable biking for almost 2 hours in 34º weather in this getup.

Of course, I’ve had rides where my thoughts are incredibly negative. Mountain biking can be hugely uncomfortable if you’re not prepared, which is bad news for a sport that requires all of your physical and mental willpower.


Don’t make my mistakes.

So here’s my advice on how to be prepared for the first time you go mountain biking, if you’re ever so inclined.

What You Need For Your First Mountain Bike Adventure

A bike – Duh. For your first time out, borrow or rent a bike. You definitely don’t want to ride something too small or large, so a good option is to rent a nice bike from a shop. If you decide you want to keep mountain biking, I definitely recommend buying your own bike, but that is an expensive move so make sure you love it before you buy! I’ve been riding this bike for the last three seasons, and it is perfect for the Front Range trails I frequent 90% of the time.

A helmet – Again, borrow or rent if you don’t own, but definitely don’t be an idiot and go out without one. You only get one brain, take care of it.

Padded shorts – I was so embarrassed to wear chamois (padded shorts) for the first time. They made me feel like I was wearing a diaper, they were awkwardly long, and they kind of dug into my thighs. But literally everyone else on a bike was wearing them, so I decided I’d rather be comfortable than prideful. The right chamois can make or break your ride. So buck up and buy a pair if you’re going to ride more than once, ever. My favorites? Longer inseam padded liners WITHOUT the little rubber leg grippies to wear under my mountain bike shorts (like these).

Gloves – Biking gloves will absorb some of the vibration from your ride so your hands don’t have to, and they provide extra grip on your brakes (which you will definitely overuse when you get started biking, that’s just natural). I prefer a full-fingered design, even in the summer.

A hydration pack – Especially at altitude, you are going to find yourself sucking wind when you first start biking (or possibly forever – my lungs always feel abused after I ride). I guarantee a bike water bottle will not be sufficient for you, so just go ahead and wear a hydration backpack. It will also hold all the extra stuff you want/need to bring with you, like layers, snacks, bike tools, your phone, etc. I loved my Camelbak for years until it started fall apart, and now I’m rocking an Osprey designed specifically for biking.

An open mind – Mountain biking might kick your ass. You might feel really out of shape. You might feel like your lungs are bleeding from breathing too hard. You might not know how to shift your gears, or navigate a turn, or ride over an obstacle. So don’t get defeated if your first ride isn’t perfect – as long as you are having fun, the other stuff will come.

And that’s it. Fundamentally, that is all you need.


But then, if you’re like me, you’ll start buying more stuff.

Nice Extras You’ll Probably End Up Wanting

First, I immediately saw the advantages of a clipless pedal/shoe set up. Having my foot attached to the pedal was super scary at first, but I got over it because I knew it would make me a stronger and more capable rider. So after a season riding with sneakers on flat pedals, I invested in this pedal and these shoes. An aside – I have no idea why what are fundamentally clip-in pedals are called “clipless.” But they were a great investment! I even spin in my biking shoes because it honestly makes a world of difference to be able to engage your whole leg, not just your quad, when you’re riding.

Then you’ll realize there are lots of tools you probably want to have on you in case of a mechanical emergency out on the trail. I carry a multi-tool, a spare tube for flats, and compressed air at all times. I want to be able to deal with my issues if I have bike trouble on the trail.

One thing I still need to add to my backpack? A first-aid kit.

After years of riding and falling on my elbows, knees, shoulders, etc, I’ve gained a healthy appreciation for how brutal the mountain can be against bare skin. Because of that, I recently added a set of elbow and knee pads to my mountain biking outfit. They may look a little more hardcore than I really am, but I’ve decided that I don’t care because they make me feel SO much more protected and comfortable as I gain speed and skill and am tackling harder obstacles.

Late last year, I added sunglass with interchangeable lenses to my set up so I could ride comfortably in all conditions, and while indulgent, I am really pleased with my purchase. Riding without sunglasses really isn’t an option, since dirt and dust can get into your eyes without protection, so this ensures I am safe and comfortable no matter the conditions.

This season, I’m sure I’ll find myself yearning for yet another piece of gear, since it seems I have an insatiable thirst for things that will make me more comfortable and confident in my sports. For right now, though, I think I’ve got everything dialed. Now it’s just time to get out there and ride!

Have you ever been mountain biking before? Interested in coming with me??? I have an extra bike. 🙂

Some Really Delicious Meals I’ve Made Recently

Even if I’m not clocking a M-F 9-5 these days, I’m taking my role as a stay-at-girlfriend very seriously. Garrett and I joke that I’m the “House Manager,” and I have to admit I’m pretty darn good at it. From being a full-time chicken mom to a vegetable gardener to a chef extraordinaire, I’m finding that domesticity looks alarmingly awesome on me.

seedling garden

Look at all the baby veggies! That I grew!

So I thought you might like to see what kinds of meals I’ve been preparing in my vast spare time.

A few notes:

  • Don’t be impressed by all the meat smoking I’ve been doing. We own a Traeger grill that is about as set-it-and-forget-it as it gets, outside of perhaps the Crock-Pot, so with all the time in the world to make each meal taste that much better, it’s not a burden to spend all day preparing dinner.
  • I am an avid meal planner and always know what we are eating several days in advance. This is mostly because I am very picky about how much food is in my fridge (I prefer a sparely stocked fridge with lots of negative space) but also because I hate to waste food. So I purchase ingredients strategically to ensure they all serve a purpose. Meal planning ensures that all of our food is accounted for and also keeps the bill down at the grocery. No items outside of my list are allowed!
  • I get the vast majority of my inspiration from Pinterest. Follow me to see what I’m craving and cooking! I follow through with quite a few of my pins.
  • That being said, I always read 3-4 recipes for any given dish I’m preparing. You better believe I’m going to educate myself on all the variations of a given dish to ensure I’m capturing the range of flavors, textures, preparations and approaches to make it absolutely as tasty as possible.
  • Garrett is the easiest person to cook for and has really encouraged my culinary development. Neither of us have any food allergies or aversions, and we are both incredibly adventurous eaters, so it is very motivating to cook and be creative for someone equally as enthusiastic about dining as I am.

Without further ado, here are a few ridiculously tasty creations to come out of my kitchen recently.


This was my take on a Vietnamese bun bowl, which is a filling but light dish that is surprisingly easy to prepare at home. Layered in the bowl is fresh chopped romaine, pork that was marinated for several hours in a fish/soy sauce combo with garlic, sugar, chili oil, pepper and rice wine vinegar, vermicelli rice noodles, homemade quick pickled carrots and daikon, sliced cucumbers, scallions, mint, chopped peanuts and limes. Garrett whipped up a traditional nước chấm sauce to drizzle over the dish for some extra zing, and it was so tangy and tasty. Such a healthy but hearty meal!


I hosted a little dinner party for some of my Heinrich gals last week and treated them to my take on the burrito bowl.

This mess of food consisted of layers of fresh chopped romaine (I’m really into fresh chopped romaine right now), my mother’s black beans (1 onion, 2 cans black beans, 1 can tomatoes + green chiles, olive oil, s+p and the secret ingredient: cloves), smoked chicken (2 halves that I brined for 3+ hours before rinsing, patting dry and adding a dry rub, then throwing on the smoker for 2 hours at 225ºF), raw corn kernels from a fresh ear, yogurt cheese shreds, fresh guac and an adobo cream sauce (1 chopped adobo chile mixed with créme fraîche) to top it all off.

The leftovers from this meal were even better than the first go ’round.


Pretty much the only recipes I don’t cross-reference to find extra ways to boost flavor are those from the Smitten Kitchen. Deb is reliably talented and her food never fails to deliver. These Spring Chicken Salad Toasts were no exception (unfortunately my photos do not do the recipe justice – click the link to see how pretty it is!).

Anyway, the toasts were quite easy but surprisingly flavorful. As my contribution to a lunch I hosted for a few of my gal pals who are also unemployed (it’s the Year of the Fire Monkey, I tell you), I was glad they ended up being a big hit. Good thing, because Garrett and I ate the leftovers for days! The recipe was simply chopped rotisserie chicken (my secret ingredient for SO MANY THINGS) tossed with red wine vinegar, olive oil, s+p and then thinly sliced radishes, celery, cucumber, scallions and dill, all on hearty toast with a horseradish créme fraîche spooned generously over everything. They were seriously so good!

Ahem, and this is what my friends contributed, by the way. Such a fun Friday! Cheese and beer and good company are pretty much the best. There are a few perks to being unemployed, I suppose…


And lastly, my pièce de résistance.

At the end of March, I smoked a corned beef and was so proud of myself.


Unfortunately, some of the tastiest things are also some of the ugliest. My open-faced pastrami sandwich was both of those things.

The pastrami was a labor of love. I started with a corned beef that had to be soaked in fresh water for 36 hours to leach out all of the salt, which would concentrate and become overly salty on the smoker. Then, I rubbed the meat with a mustard-heavy dry rub and dried the beef for another 12 hours before it headed to the smoker to morph into dinner over the course of 6 hours. I spritzed it with apple cider every hour or so, then finished the meat in foil with a bit more apple cider (this is called a steam finish). It was perfect sliced thing and stacked on rye bread with spicy yellow mustard, melted swiss and a mound of saurkraut heated through with fennel seeds. On the side, I served these potato pancakes with sour cream and apple sauce to round out the good Jewish meal. 🙂

Garrett proclaimed it the best dinner I have ever made and gosh, it really was good.

What’s the best meal you have made recently?

Why ClassPass Rocks [Plus a few of my favorite studios in town!]



If there’s an upside to being unemployed, it’s that I have time for a quality workout each and every day. I’m not bragging – unemployment is a really tough gig and it can be hard to wake up every day and face the fact that I actually don’t have anywhere to be for any reason.

But I’ve done my best to fight the melancholy, and have found exercise to be a primary factor in my overall mood and happiness. It’s simple. The days I exercise, I feel great. The days I don’t, I’m prone to bad moods.

Enter ClassPass. This gym membership-slash-app (think Uber for gyms) has turned out to be the best investment I could have made in my physical, mental and spiritual health over the past 9 months or so, and it has become even more precious in the 4 weeks I’ve been out of work.

So what is it exactly?

ClassPass is a monthly membership that grants you access to literally hundreds of exercise classes around your chosen city. In Denver, it means that some of the best yoga, barre, spin, pilates and boot camp studios in the city are available to you whenever the fancy strikes.

Using the killer mobile app, you’ll be able to scroll through a large menu of classes organized by date and time of day. Pick the class you want, reserve it, and wait for the confirmation notification onscreen and via email. You’ll also receive a reminder email a few hours before class starts.

And then just show up, check in at the front desk and enjoy your class! If it’s your first time at a studio, get there about 10 minutes early so you can sign any required paperwork.

And is there a catch?

Sort of. The $89 monthly membership fee only grants you access to a single studio 3 times in a given billing cycle. If I hit up my favorite yoga class three times, I won’t be able to attend another class at any of their locations for the remainder of the billing cycle. I personally don’t find this to be a challenge because I love bouncing from studio to studio and rarely hit my 3 visit limit, but this could be an issue if you’re a creature of habit. If that’s the case, this all-access pass probably isn’t for you anyway.

But if you love the variety, bear in mind that popular classes can book up fast since there are only so many ClassPass spots available for each one. So if you always like to hit up boot camp on Monday mornings, it would be worthwhile to schedule those in advance to ensure you get to go, especially if the class is at peak time.

Why do I love it so much?

Especially with my current schedule, I love the flexibility this pass offers. Based on how sore I am from my various other athletic pursuits, like skiing mad pow, I can choose to go to a mellow Yin yoga class, challenging barre classes or the madness that is spin boot camp. I tailor my searches to studios within a 5 mile radius, so I never have far to drive to get to a class.


I’ve always loved group fitness because I work harder and push myself further when I’m surrounded by a bunch other people all trying their best, too. I love the energy of a good teacher and the endorphins of finishing a tough class with the support of everyone around you. It’s literally my version of therapy.

It’s also really fun to try new things. Before ClassPass, I thought I wasn’t really a spin girl, or a barre girl, or a boot camp girl. Turns out, spinning is actually my favorite kind of group exercise class (after my beloved yoga, of course)! I had always wanted to try pilates on a reformer machine, but it’s prohibitively expensive. After attending my first class months ago, I was hooked!

But I do have some favorites. 


There are a handful of locations for this local chain of gyms, but I’ve only visited the location near me on Walnut and 26th. And it’s by far the studio I frequent the most for their innovative QiCycle classes, which are a perfect combo of spin and yoga. Set in an industrial part of town, this warehouse-style gym offers tall ceilings with exposed duct work, lots of metal finishings and a dark, gritty spin room with a garage door that opens to let a breeze in when it’s particularly hot.

The QiCycle classes all begin with 30 minutes of heart-thumping cycle set to loud, pulsing electronic music that the instructors use to keep the energy high. It feels like dancing on a bike to me. I really enjoy the surprising amount of upper body work these segments include, too.

After spinning, the class moves to one of the two comfortable yoga rooms for a 15-30 minute conclusion of core, yoga or sculpt, all of which are vigorously paced and challenging.

This studio definitely caters to a fit crowd, but the workouts are doable. If you’re looking for a creative and high-energy workout, I definitely recommend checking this spot out. But fair warning: parking in this neck of the woods sucks. Get there early or valet.

Corepower Yoga

I know, I know, Corepower is so corporate. There are so many incredible little yoga studios around and Corepower is the one I choose? Yes, for so many reasons.

The new studio at the Industry building is legitimately gorgeous. As a very successful national chain, they have the money to build luxurious studios, and this is the nicest location I’ve visited.  Additionally, I recently rediscovered my love for their C1 series, which I used to practice weekly during the free class at the Grant location. It was like going to church for me –  I never missed that class.

Flowing through the C1 class is like putting on a familiar pair of jeans. It feels so good. For all the yoga I do around town, I keep coming back to Corepower because it continues to satisfy. Set in a warm room and paced to include flow, core and various balance postures, the series includes everything I love about yoga. Most of all, this class is a mental release, which is what I look for most in a good yoga practice.


Oh boy, don’t hit up a class at this local chain unless you’re interested in having your ass kicked. Everything here is designed for the superior high-altitude athlete. From the advanced yoga to the hybrid spin/boot camps, these are the only classes in my area that show up under the “Advanced” filter in my ClassPass app. So take one at your own risk.

I joke that the more I hate a class because it is hard and makes me feel like a pansy, the more endorphins I’ll have when it’s over. And that is so true with the 45 minute Warriors class I like to take. I sign up towards the end of the week to balance out the inevitable heavy drinking I’ll be doing over the weekend (…if I’m being honest).

The class kicks off on Real Ryder bikes, which move from side to side like a real bike. This engages your core while you’re digging deep into a turn, isolating your lower body or punching, kickboxing-style, while riding. There’s some coordination involved. 🙂

After 10ish minutes, it’s time to hop off and perform a circuit workout of high intensity intervals (like box jumps followed by jumping alternating lunges) before getting back on the bike for another round of spin, followed by another round of bootcamp. It’s intense. But so so worth it! It makes me feel like a hardcore badass.

Wow, ClassPass sounds like it’s pretty awesome.

It really is. The fitness scene in this city offers absolutely everything for everyone, and I think ClassPass is a great way to explore that. If you find your new niche – great! I totally think folks should support their local studios with dedicated memberships. But if you have some freedom or need variety – this is the way to go. I love mine and consider it money very well spent.

What are your favorite studios or workouts around town?

P.S. I didn’t get paid to write this. I just seriously love ClassPass!

How We Ended Up With Eight Backyard Chickens

If you had told me a year ago that I would be a proud and obsessive mother to eight baby chicks, I would not have believed you. I actually still find it pretty weird that inside our cute little urban house, we are hiding barnyard animals in the basement.

Not only that, we are cuddling them (warning: there will be poop), getting to know their unique little personalities and treating them more like pets than anything else. Garrett call us Urban Homesteaders, and while I won’t lie and say they aren’t a lot of work, I have to admit I’m really enjoying this oddly domestic responsibility.

2016-04-15 20.42.01-1

Our little lap chicken. 

Here’s why we decided to get chickens. 

The house Garrett purchased last summer came with a gorgeous chicken coop. You see, Denver allows residents up to 8 backyard hens (no roosters) as long as a few easy rules are followed. The folks who lived here before us were pretty handy, and they built a compliant coop fit for chicken queens. When they moved, they took the chickens with them but the custom coop remained.

2016-04-12 16.33.00

They look so teeny trying out their coop. 

You should see this thing. It’s spacious with nifty upcycled elements, like an old wooden ladder for the ladies to roost. This coop is tall enough that I can stand upright inside, which makes it comfortable for both humans and birds. It has a fully secured, predator-proof run that drains well, functional plastic “shutters” that open and close for airflow or insulation, and it even has large indoor quarters built inside of the garage that the chickies can access through a little cutout in the wall if it’s terribly cold. I call it the Chicken Mansion.

So of course we had to get chickens.

And down the rabbit hole we went.  

The chicken bug bit Garrett first, and it bit him hard. One day he was just a normal 30-something Denver dude, the next he was ordering chicken books every morning through Amazon prime (1-click order makes it too easy!), sending me links to his favorite chicken breeds, and researching the most reputable breeders in the state.

I thought he was overthinking it.

At one point, he had me call Eric the Chicken Guy to get an opinion on silkies, Garrett’s breed of choice. (For the record, Eric doesn’t recommend them except as pets!) When Eric mentioned he was teaching a class for newbie chicken parents, we signed up. Yup – we attended a chicken class. We asked a lot of questions to prepare ourselves for the realities of baby chicks and left with a confidence that we could probably manage this whole chicken thing.

And after that class, I was hooked, too.

So then it was time to buy chicks. 

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get chickens right away like we had hoped. Turns out, like everything else in Denver, pullets (baby female chicks) are popular and will sell out. So we had to reserve some for pickup from some feed stores down South in three weeks. It was like Christmas morning when the day finally came that we could get them.

We had ordered two Salmon Faverolles, one Aracauna (who might instead be an Ameracauna or an Easter Egger instead, jury’s still out), one blue LF Cochin, one silver-laced LF Cochin, and one Russian Orloff.

Welp, when we showed up to collect them, only four of our six chicks had arrived.


They look small even in a shoebox.

So we did some quick chicken math and did something rash. We doubled our flock. Since the new chickies weren’t guaranteed to be female (this is called straight run), we assumed two would end up being roosters and got four more: two silkies and two barred bantam Cochins (which I’m convinced are actually Brahmas.)


And then there were eight. 

So now we have eight chickens. Things got out of hand quickly.

But we brought them all home anyway. 

During our drive back from the feed stores (yes, we went to 3 stores to collect all our new babies), we made certain the chickens were warm. They are basically just feathered reptiles and can’t regulate their own temperatures until their real feathers grow in, so I sat with eight warm beating hearts on my lap for over an hour trying to keep the heat above 95 degrees on a hot, sunny afternoon. The things we do for our children, right?

Luckily, we had already set the indoor chick coop up – adjusted the heat lamp, spread out wood shavings as bedding and set up the food and water feeders – so we were all able to get comfortable the moment we got back. Like the main coop, our house actually came with a custom built brooder, so the whole thing was super convenient.


Little cheepies in their brooder. 

I was definitely paranoid they were going to die in the middle of the night from being too cold, despite being under a 250W heat lamp, so I got up to check on them in the middle of the night. I think that solidified my “Crazy Chicken Lady” status.

And then I bathed a chicken.  

Due to stress, or the temp, each and every one of our chicks got something called “pasty butt” in the first few days.

I had heard of this and knew this was a potentially fatal problem, but it meant that I had to give my chicks a bath to clean them up.

If there’s an experience that officially distinguishes you from the average city dweller, it’s that. Hi, my name is Pamela and I wipe poo off baby chick bottoms.

And actually, cleaning a teeny, fragile chicken isn’t too hard when you know that they can die if you don’t, but gosh it’s a weird thing to consider.

Unfortunately, our bantam cochin (who probably is a roo) has suffered from pasty butt over and over again, so I’ve become quite deft at bathing him. On the plus side, he’s really quite cuddly when he’s wet. 🙂

And that’s our chicken story. 

Honestly, it’s been so much fun to learn about this totally foreign and yet so normal experience. People have said it seems like a lot of work for eggs. And I sort of agree. But I joke that I’m getting closer to my food and plan to eat them when they’re done laying eggs in 3 years (we shall seeee…), and truthfully it’s exciting to get to know “chickens” and not just “chicken.” They really are fun and have been a great addition to our little household so far. I would definitely recommend exploring the idea if you’re interested. There’s a great community in Colorado for chickens, and it has made owning and raising much them much easier to have such great resources available.

Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions! I could talk about chickens for hours (obviously) and would be happy to share something specific if you’re interested!







5 Denver Restaurants I Absolutely Adore


, , , ,

Since getting laid off, my cooking game has been on point. Certainly I’ve been applying to jobs, interviewing, networking, etc, but there’s only so much of that you can do before you go crazy. So, I’ve embraced my stay-at-home-girlfriend status and have really ramped up meal planning and preparing.

Each morning, I brew coffee and whip up a smoothie for Garrett before he bikes off to work, and each night, I put something tasty, healthy and creative on the table. Or at least I try to. (Last night I made this for dinner and it was delicious!)


A recent meal on our dinner table: dry rub smoked ribs, smoked salmon, rosemary roasted potatoes, asparagus and Caesar salad (with anchovy dressing and homemade croutons!).

But sometimes we just have to go out. There’s only so much dining in I can do before I go stir-crazy and beg Garrett to take me out for happy hour on Friday.

These are the places we go when I just need to get out of the house.

Please note that there is no way I can possibly do the dining scene in this expansive city justice (luckily 5280 does a pretty great job – I love love love this new monthly feature in their Tuesday Table Talk email!), but I can recommend a handful of tried and true restaurants that keep me coming back meal after meal. My tastes trend towards the casual, reliable and moderately healthy, with some cheap beer and wine thrown in for good measure.


After driving by for years and saying, “We should eat there!”, Garrett and I finally made the wise choice to stop into this oyster joint for happy hour after a crappy day a few months ago. And we are so glad we did. Their happy hour oysters are cheap ($1 each!), tasty and better than any we’ve had at fancy schmancy restaurants around town. They have wines on tap, toasted ravioli, and the best service I’ve experienced in all of Denver. (It’s worth noting that, overall, servers in this town aren’t really up to my snuff.) In the dozen or so times I’ve been back, our table has received a free app or glass of wine, each and every time. Most recently, one of the managers brought out an order of balsamic glazed ribs for our table to sample, and they were were top notch. Whether you dine by their busy bar, in the comfortable dining room, or out on the spacious patio, Angelo’s is absolutely not to be missed.

Nola Voodoo Tavern and Perks

When I moved in with Garrett, I did so very begrudgingly. I mean, my condo is located in the single best neighborhood in Denver and is walkable to a mind-blowing number of great restaurants – Annie’s, Stella and Tommy’s Thai just to name a few. So I was thrilled to learn that the one, single, only restaurant within walking distance of my new home was a totally awesome, authentic New Orleans-style neighborhood bar. Since our first visit, Garrett and I have been back almost weekly, walking over in a blizzard, on lazy afternoons and late at night for cheap beers, and each time we have been greeted warmly by Henry, the kind and generous owner. We’ve brought friends, neighbors and family to the casual spot to dine, and no one has ever left dissatisfied. If you’re looking for the best étouffée, red beans & rice or gumbo, and hoping to wash it down with some Abita on tap or a hurricane, this is the place to go.

Vine Street Pub

Part of the larger Mountain Sun business, this cash-only brewpub serves up literally the best wings in town. Hot wings + side salad = my perfect lunch. I first dined at this local chain in Boulder over four years ago and had an incredibly positive experience. The servers are hyper-friendly and happy, french fries and quesadillas are passed around to keep hangry folks waiting for a table at bay, and the beers are interesting, tasty and well-priced. Since I don’t make the trek to Boulder often, I was thrilled to learn about Vine Street Pub, located a short bike ride away. I’m not sure if it’s the casual atmosphere, the fabulous patio or the reliably good menu, but Vine Street is a dining location that my exquisitely picky group of friends will generally say yes to any time of day. You should too.

Kiki’s Casual Dining

Ever since my beloved sushi joint, Shintomi, closed in Nashville years and years ago, I’ve struggled to find a suitable replacement for their exquisite nabeyaki udon. Well, after an incredibly bland dining experience at a newly opened ramen joint, Garrett resolved to find an authentic and better option that led us right to an unassuming strip mall on South Colorado Blvd where Kiki’s is located. It did not disappoint. But while their ramen is tasty, their sushi is fresh and the ambience is straight from a Japanese ski resort, what sold me was their nabeyaki udon. Complete with shrimp tempura, thick noodles, fresh bok choy, fish cake and lots of mushrooms, this is only place I’ve found in Denver that rivals the soup from my childhood. I highly recommend this place, particularly if you find yourself in a winter snowstorm. It will not disappoint.

Pepper Asian Bistro

Americanized Chinese food is basically my comfort food. Whether for pajamas-only takeout or a casual date night, Pepper serves up the best pan-Asian cuisine in town. The location opened in a ratty old restaurant that I barely remember, and I was pumped to see it get renovated – it gave the whole rundown block a serious facelift. We showed up for dinner pretty much the first day it opened, we were so excited. After a great meal, we returned nearly every Sunday after Jazz in the Park for an easy dinner. We’ve never been disappointed in the dozens of times we’ve eaten there. Our current favorite meal is the wildly economic choice of a shared bowl of hot and sour soup, and a shared entree of Sizzling Black Pepper Beef. Dinner for two for $15? Don’t mind if I do. Again and again and again.

What are your favorite Denver neighborhood haunts?


I’m Baaaaack!

After years of neglect, I’ve decided to resume blogging.


I miss what this blog was for me: a creative outlet. While I’m always able to busy myself with to-do lists, occupy my time with adventures, and express my creativity with cooking, nothing fills my artistic needs quite like writing. I’ve felt a void where blogging used to be, so despite how time consuming the writing and editing and sifting through photos and promoting on social may be, I’m committed to getting this little endeavor started again.

Since I left off more than two years ago, not a lot has changed. Sure, there have been new jobs, new layoffs, new living quarters, new roommates, new stressors – but fundamentally my drive has remained the same. I’ve always been an outdoorsy, adventurous extravert with a passion for good conversation, tasty food and athletic challenge. When I last blogged, I was hiking mountains, drinking craft beer and biking around Denver. Today, I’m skiing with girlfriends, hosting dinner parties and mothering eight baby chickens.


But what I hope to accomplish here, with my little corner of the internet, has changed.

Before, this blog was essentially an ill-tended online diary with trappings of food, fitness and lifestyle, but none of these were fully realized enough to give any shape to the project. Today, with an extra few years of digital marketing experience under my belt, I feel much more equipped to create a cohesive framework around which to build my future posts.

So, just what exactly do I hope this will be? My plan is to funnel my nearly five years of Denver living into what I’m calling a “Denver Resource Blog.” During my time here, I’ve cultivated a solid understanding of what this booming, bursting city has to offer, and I’ve only fallen more deeply in love with each new experience. From the best coffee shops around town for laptop work, to the best trails for beginner mountain biking, to the non-negotiable features of the best ski jackets for women, I feel like it’s time to put all of my hard-earned knowledge to work. Now, when a friend comes to me asking for a restaurant recommendation for a work dinner, not only can I help her out with a few good suggestions – I hope to help anyone in Denver out.

I look forward to diving back into this blog with a renewed vigor and energy forged by its reshaped purpose. It’s so exciting to think about all the different topics I get to write about under this new overarching theme, and I’m eager to get going.

Look forward to my first real post (hint: it involves my newest obsession!) coming soon. I hope you’ll stick around long enough to see where all this goes. 🙂


Celebrating Colorado


, , , , ,

So , last week was the anniversary of my arrival in Denver two full years ago. TWO YEARS. What a significant amount of time! I mean, as you age each year becomes a smaller and smaller chunk of your overall life, so in comparison time seems to move faster, but STILL. How has it been two full years since I moved out of Nashville?

So much has happened since I came out here, it’s impossible to recall everything. Pretty much, things are just awesome no matter which way I turn, although I’m not without my fair share of hissy fits and down days, that’s for sure. But seriously, there’s no reason for bad feelings when things are this. good. One day my boss is praising me for a job well done (seriously? Best boss ever?), the next I’m dancing under a full moon with a crew of fun loving friends at Red Rocks, and then I’m mountain biking under a rainbow at sunset. It’s the best.

To celebrate my anniversary in this incredible city, I sought to accomplish something SO very Colorado – hike a 14er. This is one of the most popular activities to tackle out here, something that is distinctly challenging but very doable for the athletic folks who overwhelm the area. Since it’s close and not too hard, I chose to climb Grays Peak as my first 14,000 summit.

At 4:45 Saturday morning, I woke up and headed for the hills along with maybe 300 of my closest friends. We actually walked in a single file line up the initial ascent of the 3.5 mile climb because it was so incredibly crowded.

Truth be told, it was potentially one of the least scenic hikes I’ve done all summer. Sky Pond, Medicine Bow Peak, and the Meyers Homestead Trail have all been far more gorgeous, with streams and aspen groves and wildlife. Grays Peak earned its name – it was gray and rocky the whole way up, exposed and above the treeline. It was the hardest hike I’ve done all summer, without question, and my legs are still in pain from hiking straight up and straight down for 7 miles. I couldn’t breathe, and I live at altitude!

But here’s the thing: when you’re 14,000 feet in the air, you are on top of the world. Quite literally. And it is breathtaking no matter how winded you might already be.

Touching the sky.

Touching the sky.

The panorama of the earth stretches as far into the horizon as you’ve ever seen before on your own two feet. It’s the absolute best reward for a job well done.

AIrplanes don't count.

Gorgeous mountain ridge.

You can see Breck if you look closely.

See the peaks way far away?

While I can’t say I’m eager to do another 14er with all the crowds and the wake up calls and how I can barely walk right now, I am proud of myself for knocking a major To-Do off my Colorado list. It was an incredible way to celebrate two years of adventuring and exploring and generally loving life in this amazing state. I’m so happy to be here and so grateful to have such amazing adventures in my backyard. Living in Colorado is everything I ever hoped it would be, and more.