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  • Four Great Places to Eat in Boulder and Denver

    Colorado, the land of the free… to smoke marijuana. One of many reasons people across the US are flocking to the state. But not the reason that my guy and I have our heart pointed in that direction.

    Mountains. Snow. Outdoors. Cool people. Great beer. Chill vibe. Holistic lifestyle. These are the reasons we love Colorado.

    Over the holidays we drove 12 hours to visit the state from our home in Dallas. We spent three nights in Boulder and two nights in Denver. We had a blast.

    We ventured about Boulder on our first day in town. We caught the vibe, enjoyed the people, and dreamed about life in the small, college town. Spontaneity caught the best of us the next day as we ventured up the mountain for a day of snowboarding. Despite the unseasonably warm weather in Boulder, Eldora Ski Resort was cold with plenty of good snow.

    The second leg of our trip took us to Denver. We spent New Year’s Even dining at a fabulous sushi restaurant and rockin’ out to our favorite band, Nahko and Medicine for the People. A divine way to bring in the new year. On our last day in Denver, we took a driving tour around the city. We scoped out neighborhoods far and wide as we envisioned our lives in Denver in a few years.

    On our final night in Colorado, we ate at a hip local dive that filled me with energy. As we sat at the bar waiting for our table, I reflected on all the great restaurants we tried on our trip. None were planned in advance. Each one was picked one hour to 30 minutes prior to arrival. And yet we landed at the coolest locations. The Universe had our backs!

    Here are the four greatest restaurants from our trip:

    Boulder

    Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery: We chose this restaurant on our second night in Boulder after we walked the outdoor mall that day.

    The hostess wouldn’t take a reservation. But we were able to get on the wait list, which saved us 45 minutes. The hostess showed us to our table 10 minutes after we arrived. We didn’t even have time to order a beer from the bar.

    We sat down at a corner table that butted against the crowd of people who still needed tables. We ordered the brewery’s top rated beer and our meals. The food was delicious. I chowed down on a locally sourced hamburger while Evan ate the tempeh reuben. Good on him for eating vegan! I couldn’t resist the burger.

    Our waiter was great. He was super happy and friendly. He explained that service was shared at the restaurant, meaning we could ask a question or make a request of any of the staff and they would help out.

    It was a poppin’ local hangout. Every table was full. The bar was full. And more people were walking through the front door. And it was only a Thursday. Once we finished eating we decided to free the table for the people waiting to be seated.

    Fresh Thymes: We ate at this restaurant the Saturday after snowboarding. That morning I spent two hours at Boulder Medical Center Urgent Care. Snowboarding takes a toll on the body, especially during a time when I’ve already been having neck problems. Everything was fine. And we got on our way.

    We drove straight to Fresh Thymes for lunch. They offered healthy, unique foods like “Rad Thai,” which Evan ordered. It was a funky spin on the traditional pad thai. It was one of several meals listed on the board that could be prepared in the back.

    Or there were options on the counter labeled “counter food.” You could choose three sides or proteins or mix and match. I chose three sides from the counter: cabbage/kale coleslaw, garbanzo bean bread, and chicken curry soup.

    It hit the spot. Fresh, whole, warm and cool, and tasty!

    Boulder offered sweet eats but we were ready to see what Denver had…

    Denver

    Sushi Den: We made New Year’s Eve a special event by eating sushi. I researched quality sushi places, but it was hard to choose. There were several restaurants with 4.5 stars and great reviews. I originally planned for another place but switched last minute. And it was a great decision!

    The Uber dropped us off across the street from the restaurant. We stood on the corner a minute to figure out exactly where it was. We saw a restaurant on the corner with beautiful large windows and couples sitting at tables with low intimate lighting. I can remember thinking, “Oh, how romantic. I wonder what restaurant that is?” Then I saw the sign, “Sushi Den,” in small, slanted letters scrawled across the wall next to the door.

    We walked into the dimly lit restaurant, put our name on the wait list, and took a couple seats at the bar. We ordered wine while we waited and discussed our trip. I soaked up the atmosphere. It was the perfect romantic and intimate setting for a New Year’s Eve celebration.

    The atmosphere was on point and so was the sushi. It was pricey with drinks and dessert included. But we didn’t mind since it was a celebration.

    The hostess sat us at the front by the beautiful, large windows I spied from the across the street when we first arrived. Heaven!

    We ordered a couple classic rolls and a few unique rolls. Followed by tiramisu for dessert. The sushi was delicious, but I’ve had better tiramisu.

    Sushi Den was the perfect date night setting. For me, it felt magical with the dimly lit dining area and the beautiful Christmas lights on the trees and storefronts that we could see from our table. It was the perfect way to end 2016.

    City O’City: This was the last restaurant of our trip. We were cruising downtown the Sunday before we left, exploring what the city had to offer. We skipped lunch that day, so we were pretty hungry.

    I had to find a place fast because Evan’s hunger monster was coming out. I googled vegan restaurants and this came up immediately – even though it wasn’t the closest one to us. It had 4.5 starts on google with over 220 ratings. I knew this was a keeper.

    We made our way through downtown, taking one last peek at the city streets we drove by. We parked on the same block as the restaurant and questioned where to enter. It was hard to find since we didn’t know what we were looking for. I was suspicious at first. And I was unsure of how this would turn out.

    We found the front door and entered into a crowd of people waiting to be seated. The restaurant was packed.

    The vibe was a cool, chill, grungy, hipster vibe. Once we were on the waitlist we went straight to the back bar for a drink. We ordered a pretzel with vegan cheese and two beers. The pretzel and cheese were tasty, but the cheese could have been thicker. It was tasty but not as good as the vegan cheese we’ve had at HG Supply Co. on lower Greenville in Dallas.

    We didn’t wait too long before we were seated. I ordered savory waffles with vegetable ragu and a scrambled tofu topping. Evan ordered pasta with vegetables and a vegan yogurt sauce. Both were tasty.

    The atmosphere and vibe of this place were on point. It gave us a good idea about the scene we’d be getting into if we move to Colorado. It was fun to see groups of friends hanging at the bar and all the tables filled with customers.

    Looks certainly were deceiving with this restaurant. Hard to spot on the outside but popping’ on the inside.

    These are the four great restaurants we ate at on our trip. We didn’t only eat four times, though. We were blessed with free hot breakfast at our hotels. And other days we skipped meals, ate at cheap places, or ate on the slopes. It all worked out perfectly.

    Even though Addison (the area where we currently live) is considered the restaurant capital of Texas, I was impressed by the what Colorado had to offer. And I’m excited to go back and explore more!

  • Health
  • Why I Want to Move to California

    Imagine. Waking up to the bright blue and white light of the morning sun peaking in through your bedroom window on a Saturday morning. You stretch your arms above your head, rub the crusties from your eyes and gaze about the room in wonder of this beautiful light.

    You’re inspired by the light to smile, sit up, and get ready for the day. A full day of adventure lay ahead of you. Not any ordinary adventure but the kind that leads you outdoors into nature, where mysteries are solved, imagination runs wild, and insights pour into your system.

    These types of Saturdays can be made anywhere, but for me, I know these Saturdays are meant for me in the great state of California.

    The Trip

    I recently returned from a trip to Santa Barbara. This wasn’t my first time to California, but this trip was different. I was 15 on my first visit, too young and immature to truly enjoy the state and/or understand the impact it could have on my life.

    I held no expectations towards how the trip would be. I simply wanted to spend time at the beach, eat at great restaurants, and sneak in a hike or two. I knew it would be a short trip, so my expectations where low.

    I stayed a total of two and half days, not counting the half day trip to the state and the full day trip back home (lengthened by time zones). By my last day there I simply could not soak up enough California sun to last me!

    It was a Friday morning when I woke up to the beautiful California sunshine streaming in through my balcony door. I jumped out of bed and tore open the curtains to lay my eyes on the angled view of the beach and palm trees that lay ahead. The morning sun coated itself on top of the trees, beach, and nearby motels, kissing their cheeks with a sweetness unknown by the afternoon light.

    It was this light that inspired and energized me to get dressed and gather my belongings, because we (my boyfriend and I) had a full day ahead of outdoor adventure that we were piecing together as we pieced together our clothing.

    The plan: breakfast at a local spot that served the most amazing acai bowels, then a short drive to Gaviota State Park for a hike to the Wind Caves, and, finally, a detour through wine country. Go, team, go!

    We packed a picnic for our trip and were on our way.

    The day felt so natural and right. My energy level was so perfect. I felt full of life, vibrant, and enthusiastic about every aspect of the journey.  It just felt – so good. California felt – so good.

    The afternoon nap found its rightful home on our return to Santa Barbara and our new hotel. A quick rest before a night out on the town.

    That doesn’t end our trip.

    On our last full day in town we ate at our favorite breakie locale, bought a frisbee for playful times, and bunkered down on the most sweet spot on the beach. Sun made it’s intermittent and, at times, lasting appearance. The breeze cooled our baking skin. And a European family made camp nearby. At first, alarmingly close, but at second glance, endearing.

    We read our books, soaked in the sun, enjoyed our packed food, threw our frisbee multiple times, and even caught sight of whales and dolphins not too far off shore. The smell of the ocean soothed my soul. I melted into the towel on top of the sand with an utter surrender unknown to me during any other points of travel. The ocean does me over like no other geological feature.

    But, it wasn’t long, or so it felt, until it was time to pack up. The sun was our alarm clock. It tucked away behind a cloud and left a lingering breeze, cooler than the one before. We dressed ourselves, packed our belongings, and trucked to the car. It was time to prepare for our final evening in the great city of Santa B.

    Nothing too much planned that night due to my early flight the next morning. But – we made the most of it with Indian food and a stop by the Funk Zone. Yes – it’s called the Funk Zone. A place in Santa Barbara they’re trying to revive by promoting local artists and small craft breweries and wineries. We went to a spot based on recommendation, like many of the locations we visited this trip, and were, as usual, completely impressed.

    As we drove into the Funk Zone, I heard music and thought that for sure this was the spot for us, only to find out it was the spot recommended to us! We show our IDs and walk inside to a banging party at like 7:30 at night. At which point, I reminisce on all the conversations my partner and I have had about wanting a cool spot to hang and dance earlier in the evenings on the weekend.

    We grabbed a brewsky and listened to the groovy, reggae-soul band that was getting the crowd dancing. The night so cool and chill with a vibe of ease and happiness. A vibe reflective of the my experience in California and it’s peeps. A vibe I can get down with a regular basis.

    The Reflection

    It’s this vibe that draws me in. I can get nature anywhere, and California isn’t the only state with a beach. Texas even has a beach, for christ’s sake! But it’s the people and the all around vibe of the location that gets me.

    There’s a chillness in the air. A laid back feeling that life’s okay. That’s it’s okay to be healthy, to look good, to have fun, to enjoy yourself, and still move forward in life. Life doesn’t have to be drab or dull just because we have responsibilities but it’s meant to be fun and vibrant.

    Perhaps my vision is skewed because I was on vacation. I’ll accept this as a totally rational thought process, but my main squeeze talks about this vibe being present every time he’s there; and he visits frequently for work, not vacation.

    This gives me the notion that quite simply this place is filled with people that I want to be around. I want to enjoy a location that not only offer nature in its highest form but also people who care about their health. Health is a constant factor for this people. You don’t see as many overweight or unhealthy individuals in this state. People are thin, fit, active, and healthy.

    I want to surround myself with people like that.

    At the same time, California is a state of luxury. Luxury isn’t something I thought I overtly liked but I do love experiencing life in a fancy fashion. It helps that my partner does, too. California does an excellent job of combining an outdoor, healthy lifestyle with luxuriousness. And this is the type of lifestyle I’d like to live.

    Now, let’s get somethings straight. I’m not made of money, which is a huge obsticle to my moving to California, but that doesn’t mean I’m not blessed with the opportunities that arrive for me to experience life in a luxurious way. I am completely open to receiving these opportunities in however they choose to present themselves.

    And, one day, I’d love to be living in California, even if at the sacrifice of luxury, for a while.  I believe that California would be good for my Soul. It would also be good for my relationship(s).

    It’s a great fit for me and my man. I love the beach. He loves the mountains. We both love the outdoor and healthy lifestyle. I can’t see any other reason why we don’t work for California.

    I have zero expectation of moving anytime soon. I simply love fantasizing about all the possibilities and what could be. I believe the Universe thrives on my fantasizing and uses it to show me what’s possible for my life as well as begin building the road to its sure manifestation.

    I believe in a thriving and responsive Universe that hears all calls and answers these calls, should they be in the Highest and Best Interest of for the Good of All. And those are the only conditions under which I would want to move to California, or make any change in my life for that matter.

    With that said, Universe – I want to move to California (to the beach, specifically!).

    Any Californians out there withy any advice? Drop me a line…

    With love,

    Paula D Jones