Great American Bird Count

We spent the morning participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count with the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies at Barr Lake. We saw so many friends — western meadowlarks, Canada geese 🇨🇦, white crowned sparrows, American goldfinches, house finches, American robins, an unidentified hawk, a downy woodpecker, and two bald eagles 🦅 🦅, among others.

The Great Backyard Bird Count goes until Monday and you can participate! Get more information and sign up here. It’s fun and easy and it helps researchers learn about how birds are doing.





We went camping this weekend, which is cool in the sense that camping is totally cool when you realize that you’re just sitting there under a Mexican yoga blanket with a min pin or two chilling because chilling is the only option that’s really available to you at the moment, which is great when you’re a busy adult who always has shit like laundry or cleaning up around the house or reading the preeminent text on the trivium as it relates to homeschooling (more on that soon) or doing squats or something else productive that you always end up doing instead of chilling, but not as cool when you realize that camping is kind of hard and three dogs are impossible to maneuver and always want to get their leashes tangled up and you totally can’t sleep while camping no matter what and you pretend you don’t care and stay up all night in the light of the inflatable solar lantern you wisely packed reading Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World on your Kindle but ugh fish-worshipping underground people who eat decaying flesh kind of creep you out when it’s just you alone awake in the pitch dark in the middle of nowhere and you wait for panic to descend on your brain but it doesn’t and then you move through the ins and outs of the next day like a zombie.

But the one thing you can do while camping, no matter what, is make really awesome food. We’ve been doing this thing with feta for as long as we’ve been camping, since I first heard about it from Oprah of all people. I’ve finally perfected it and it’s the best thing in the world to do while camping because camping requires, if nothing else, vegan marshmallows and something really delicious and special that you eat only when you’re camping.


Here’s what you do. Before you go camping (either the night before or the day of — it doesn’t matter), take a small jar. Fill that jar with freshly cut oregano from your garden if you can; otherwise use whatever fresh oregano you can find. Take some scissors and cut the oregano into little pieces. Add the following: a few very thin slices of red onion; three or four thinly sliced garlic cloves; a few sun-dried tomatoes, either sliced or whole, whatever you’re into; some pine nuts; freshly ground black pepper; red pepper flakes; and enough olive oil to just about cover everything. Close the jar and refrigerate. Transfer to your cooler along with a block of feta. When you’re at your campsite preparing dinner, place the block of feta on a largish piece of foil shaped into a bowl-like shape around the feta. Spoon the mixture, which will be slightly solidified as a result of being refrigerated, which is super great because that means oil won’t spill everywhere, over the feta. Wrap the foil around the feta and seal as best you can with the intention of keeping the oil inside. Wrap this in another largish piece of foil and seal as well as you can. Take the foil package and place it in or on your campfire for a while, maybe a little longer than you think, turning occasionally, until the feta is melty and the flavors have melded into something insanely delicious. Serve with some delicious crusty bread — it doesn’t matter what kind, really. We had this over cranberry walnut bread and it was great even though that sounds kind of weird. Put any leftover feta in the jar and allow to cool before putting it back in the cooler to save for later.

Enjoy, and remember that camping in reality is never as perfect as it is in your imagination. <3

January 1, 2014

This morning was brutal. The short version goes like this: sleep deprivation + hangover + PMS = a boiling cauldron of chaos and terror.

The long version involves a sleepover New Year’s Eve party. This sort of thing is always a good idea in theory, but my problem is apparently I can’t sleep anywhere other than our house, so I was awake almost all night thinking about how I couldn’t sleep, wondering if it was worth it to get up to drink more water, listening to my dog (it’s not a party without Sadie!) pitter patter throughout the house and wait for her to come back while wondering what she was getting into in a new place, reading about planets, tossing, turning, sighing heavily, and finally dozing off only to wake up a short time later. The same thing happens to me while camping. I probably need to take advantage of sleepy weed before trying to engage in slumber anywhere that isn’t my own bed. Why I don’t do this is a mystery for the ages.

My plan had been to get up around 7. Soren would either be sleeping (no) or running around the house with his friend screaming (yes). He’d stay there and Ben and I would bring Sadie home, feed the animals, make some coffee, get dressed, and head to Denver Kush Club by the time they opened at 8. What happened instead culminated in me standing in the kitchen in sweatpants, crying, losing my will to live, trying to get Ben to understand that I couldn’t go to the marijuana store looking like this but I was incapable of engaging in the activities that would allow me to look better.

I hate when I get all dramatic like this but sometimes it happens. I’m awful when I don’t sleep.

A glimmer of inspiration came when I got a DM from someone who was about to travel all the way from Boulder to buy weed in Denver on the first day of legalization. That’s when it hit me — holy crap, I’m a huge lame ass. I’ve been talking this up for weeks and acting like it’s the most important thing to ever happen, and what a stupid flake hypocrite I’d be to not participate in the day especially when there are several dispensaries within 5 minutes of our house. So I sucked it up, did my 3-minute makeup application, changed out of my sweats and back into the clothes I wore last night (sexy) but for Converse All Stars (don’t wear these if you’re going to stand outside and it’s at all cold), drank some goddamn coffee and said okay fine let’s go. Ben was relieved I finally got my shit together, no surprise.

We drove by Denver Kush Club at around 9:00. It was cloudy, cold, and snowing, and the line wasn’t horrible but it was a longer line than we really wanted to stand in right then. So we went to The Health Center and it was kind of mysterious. The lights weren’t on and nobody was outside, but we knew they were supposed to be open. It turned out they opened at 10. So we drove by DKC again and the line was even longer.

That’s when we figured we should get bagels and wait it out at THC. Bagels are delicious. We got a spot in the parking lot and hung out in the car. There were a few other people there with the same idea. It was pretty great. We sat there watching people drive up, park in a spot right by the door, and be told by the security guard that they couldn’t park there. We saw people walk up and be told that they didn’t open until 10. I was surprised when it was after 9:30 and people chose to leave instead of waiting. This would turn out to be a terrible mistake, because from everything I’ve heard, every other dispensary had a longer wait. We watched dispensary employees come and go with office supplies and whatever else they needed to get this exciting new branch of their business up and running.

At around 9:50, a few people wandered up and got in line so we did, too. There were just 4 dudes (lots of dudes in line!) in front of us. As you may know, I hate standing in lines for any reason, but this was the most pleasant line-waiting experience I’ve ever had. Pretty much every person waiting in line to make a purchase on the first day of legal recreational marijuana is fucking awesome. Everybody is friendly and feeling grateful to be there, excited that this is finally possible.

A few minutes after 10, the door opened and we got to go into a small room where you get searched by a security guard (Don’t bring any guns, bombs, knives, or grenades to the dispensary.) and show your ID to a woman behind a window. Then the first few people got to go into the next room. We waited and chatted with the security guard. When the guy who made the first retail purchase at THC exited, everybody clapped and cheered. It was awesome.

When it was our turn, we got to go to the display area, where we were helped by a super nice, enthusiastic dude wearing a hat. He asked what we liked in terms of indica/sativa/hybrid and described some strains to us. We smelled some and settled on Super Silver Diesel, which is a hybrid and smell-wise reminded me of hops even more than other strains of weed remind me of hops. The guy at the counter gives you a sticky note with your order on it, you wait for a few minutes, you go to get your order filled and elaborately packaged, and then you check out. (Bring cash.) We were out by 10:30 and the line outside was much longer.

I was pretty excited.

me & a bag of weed

And here’s what a bag of legal marijuana looks like.

super silver diesel

It was a freaking awesome experience and I’m so excited to have been a part of it. It’s cool as hell to get to go to a dispensary and choose the weed you want to buy. And, we made history today here in Colorado! And I’m really proud of how cool everybody was. I’ve been following coverage online and on the news, and by all accounts, people were mellow and not acting a fool or smoking in public. I hope the rest of the country and the rest of the world sees how Colorado is handling legal marijuana and it becomes legal everywhere because man, it should be.


Let’s go on a hike.

On Friday, Ben and I went on our annual drop-Soren-off-at-school-and-go-hiking date. We hiked the Herman Gulch trail, which is an out-and-back trail that ends at Herman Lake. This hike couldn’t have been nicer, seriously. It’s just hard enough to be a good hike but not so hard as to be annoying, and it’s rocky in parts but not overly rocky. Plus it’s dog-friendly and free.

From Denver, take 70 west to exit 218. Turn right and then immediately turn right again and you’re at the trailhead (which is the only thing at exit 218). There’s lots of parking and your usual stinky claustrophobic vault toilets.

I agree with everyone on the internet who says the trail is 3.5 miles to the lake. It took us about 1:50 to get up and 1:40 to get down, including stops for snacks and poncho application or removal (it rained for about half of our hike down, which isn’t my favorite because tree roots and rocks get slippery when wet).

If you’re looking for a super-awesome day hike near Denver, I highly recommend this trail. It might be my favorite hike we’ve done so far. Note: Bring a sweatshirt! It gets cold up there.

Herman Gulch trail

Herman Gulch trail

Herman Gulch trail

Herman Gulch trail

Herman Gulch trail

Herman Gulch trail

Herman Gulch trail

Herman Gulch trail

Herman Lake

Herman Lake

Herman Lake


Herman Lake

Herman  Lake

Herman Lake

Herman Gulch trail

Herman Gulch trail

More info:

Camping Food

We’re planning a very short (one night) camping trip (tent, no amenities or fancy shit like potable water, electricity, or plumbing) and I’ve been thinking about what we should eat. It shouldn’t be much — just a snack, dinner, and breakfast. Maybe dessert. We have some stale vegan marshmallows so we could make s’mores, but s’mores are always better in theory than they are in reality.

You’d be amazed by how much time I can spend thinking about two meals to have while camping. The thing is, I like having something to look forward to, however small, and I like having a little project to plan. So let’s roll with it.

For a snack, do-it-yourself faux Jiffy pop, or “campfire popcorn satchels,” which sounds much more awesome. (Instructions here.)

Photo: David Tsay/Real Simple

For dinner, I’m not sure. I’d love to do grilled pizza, which we’ve made at home with good results (and I love this guy’s instructions), but Ben (who, to be fair, does most of the cooking and pretty much all of the grilling) was all, slow your roll homegirl, let’s just do veggie burgers and maybe corn or something. That sounds reasonable.

For a side dish, if there’s room for a side dish, we’ll have campfire baked feta, because holy crap can you imagine anything more delicious? (Instructions here.) Campfire brie, maybe with nuts or some kind of fruit? Is that possible? (Yes.)

Photo: Travis Rathbone

Oh, as you may know, I’m a nacho person. I love the idea of fire-roasted nachos, but I know we’re getting into way-too-much-food territory. We’ll save that one for an evening at home with the fire pit in the yard one day when you can use a fire pit in your yard in Denver.

And of course there will be beer.

For breakfast, I want to go all out and have camping pancakes. This recipe for 5 Spot Banana Pancakes sounds awesome — we can mix the dry ingredients together before we go (including powdered egg replacer instead of an egg) and then add milk and butter (which I hope we’ll have room for in one of our coolers, what with all the beer), a tiny bit of water (for the egg replacer), and bananas in the morning and slap these puppies on the old frying pan we don’t mind using on a grill or over a campfire (which, fortunately, are currently allowed where we’re going — Colorado has had lots of fire restrictions this year).

Photo: James Carrier

Also coffee — grind the beans at home, heat water in a teapot over the grill/campfire, and use the French press.

I haven’t been camping since I was a kid and back then we didn’t cook at the campsite, but holy crap I’m so excited about this. It’s going to be awesome.