Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekend in Steamboat Springs

We enjoyed a weekend with friends in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Sarah's team from work went  in together and rented a house for a colleague's wedding. The house and the company were perfect. The bride and the wedding was beautiful. A great weekend was had by all!

The views from the house were incredible:

The wedding was at a restaurant next to a river, just on the other side of the river from the Steamboat Ski Resort. You can see the ski jumps in the background, where the US olympians practice.

In lieu of a cake they had cupcakes, and the topper was a tandem bike made out of bent metal, it was very neat and so unique! The couple has a tandem bike they like to ride, so it was just perfectly them.

Our team from work.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June - Friends, Family, and the Beach!

June has left us worn out and tired, but with a month's worth of incredible memories and unforgettable moments. Mid-June Sarah worked at a Christian eating disorder treatment conference in Colorado Springs. It was a great experience, and was more of a retreat style event than a conference. The event was held at the Glen Eyrie castle in Colorado Springs, which is worth a trip to visit if you are ever in the area! It was fun exploring the hidden staircases and narrow corridors leading to secret rooms and "servant quarters." Very neat!

The next weekend, we spent time with Chad, Michelle and their friend Ross. We went our new favorite spot called Ale House, which overlooks all of Downtown Denver. We also met up with college friends Will and Keri who were in town from New Mexico. 

Sunday morning, Chris put me on a flight to Pensacola at 5:00 am, and Dad and Christine greeted me at the airport. I spent Sunday - Thursday morning on the white sands beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama with my parents, sisters and nieces. We had a great time and again concluded we'll make this trip again next summer. Though, by popular demand from the nieces, Uncle Chris may need to make an appearance next year!

Father's day lunch out on the pier.

Alayna's shell necklace she picked out

Posing for a picture with her peanut butter crackers snack on the beach

Aubri caught a jellyfish!

Alayna and papa with their walking sticks

Beach babe!

The family at Mikee's Restaurant getting fresh fish for dinner

Absolutely precious!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Colorado Summer - Off to a Great Start!

We had another busy weekend in Colorado, and enjoyed one another's company together. Friday evening we went to Gardens, Grapes and Hops at the Denver Botanic Gardens with our friends Katie and Jeff. We had a great time sampling cuisine and drinks from an array of local restaurants. One of the tents set up at the gardens was lined with lights on the inside, and it was beautiful sparkling in the night.

Saturday morning we were up early and waited in line for the quarterly REI garage sale. REI is the largest retailer of outdoor gear and equipment in Denver and each quarter they have a huge sale to get rid of any returned merchandise. We heard lots of rumors about this magical sale and needed to check it out for ourselves. It was a lengthy process to actually get inside - including a 'lottery' ticket draw and then groups of people allowed to enter for 20 minute interval shopping - intense! Fortunately, Sarah was very focused and came out on top - three new pairs of shoes including a pair of Chacos and Danskos at 75% off!

Next we were off to the annual Art Market where we ate breakfast with Chris' colleagues, as BKD is an annual sponsor of the event. We had a great time browsing artwork in the coolness of the Colorado morning :)

This art was Sarah's favorite - metal feminine sculptures of dresses made from leaves pressed in copper. They were a bit out of our price range, but maybe someday something like this will grace our hallway.

After the artshow, we did lunch with Michael and Stephanie Madsen who were passing through Denver on their way to Beaver Creek, Colorado for a vacation with their family. They live in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Michael works for BKD. We had a great brunch at The Coral Room in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver.

Saturday evening we went to the first of three summer concerts on South Pearl Street, just four blocks from our house. June's concert is BrewGrass and the place was packed! We enjoyed some great music and of course, delicious street food - wood fired pizza for Sarah and bbq for Chris. It was a very busy, but absolutely wonderful weekend in Denver!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

House/Yard Update

Our yard is beginning to take shape, but we're quickly realizing the yard is as much work as the addition was. Our sprinkler system is buried in our yard, because of the process to dig the foundation for the addition last summer. We've begun digging up the system, so we can remove the old system and put in a new system. So far, we've found one sprinkler head in the middle of the yard - but in the process - our front yard has started to look like World War II with the trenches...

We've had our several tons of rock on Craigslist for a couple of weeks now and have almost successfully had all the rock hauled away (for free!). The previous owner of our house had done lots of rock landscaping (see "before" photo below!) and unfortunately, we just don't need all that rock anymore. We'd prefer to have lush, green sod, but we've got to get rid of the rock first! Hopefully one more week and we'll be rock-free.

BEFORE - Rock everywhere!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Wineries, Company and Cars oh May!

Believe it or not, April went by in a relatively uneventful manner for us.  Aside from a couple days skiing, we tried to use our weekends for rest and relaxation as both conference season and audit season heated up.  Mom and Dad Gilstrap's annual gift of a ski pass came in real handy.

 May came in much like April, but the weekends were just a little (sarcasm) busier.  Mother's Day weekend saw the two of us headed east for work, Sarah to Chicago and Chris to KC.  Although there aren't a lot of photos to show off, there was plenty of wholesome family time as Sarah was able to squeeze in some time with Art, Shirley, Adri, Allison, Luca, Vitoria and Emily while Chris used the weekend to embark upon the great Missouri trail (Lee's Summit - Grandma Sherry and Grandpa Bob, Richland - Granny Powers, Granny Gray and Kay, and Republic - it was Mother's Day after all).  

We both returned to Denver for a quick four day workweek, pointing the Alero back east about 6:30 Thursday night.  Hays came and went shortly before midnight and with our friend Tyler Grimes as an additional driver, we decided to drive through the night, arriving in Springfield about 7:30 Friday morning.  We awoke about mid-day and had some good catch-up time with  Granny before she headed back for Richland.  Then on to a quick lunch with Katie, a few errands and our Springfield stay was well underway.  We stopped by a Drury alumni event on our way to the wedding reception of our good friend Carrie Winston (now Brown).  The entire SIFE crew was in attendance and as you could probably imagine, good times were had by all.  Although I am sure many gifts were thankfully received by the happy couple that evening, it sure feels like we received something getting to see everyone in such a wonderful setting!  Even Elvis was there!

Saturday morning saw the official close of a chapter in young married life as we handed the keys (and let's be honest, a little bit of ourselves) to the Alero to Kendra.  She has waited patiently for the little gold jewel, and even got herself a job to pay for it (and it's gas!). 

We were so distraught in parting ways with the Alero that we had to have Stuart drive us to Lee's Summit (it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that we were now car-less).   We had to get back to put the finishing touches on Rita's surprise retirement party.  Rita is by definition aware, planned and prepared, so as the hour drew close we begin to wonder if it truly remained a surprise.  Well, judging by the look on her face and the box of diapers in her hand (which she had brought as a gift for someone else), I would say the element of surprise was accomplished!

Annette, Christine, Sarah, Mollie and Bill pulled off quite the feat to bring together so many people that close to Rita in such a covert manner.  Although the argument could be made that people would congregate around Fillin Station BBQ outside in a blinding snow storm, we feel that it is more likely that the four-hour party (thanks to everyone to made the effort to come out and help us celebrate!) that ensued had very little to do with the food, it is probably more attributable to the selflessness and positivity that Mom has exhibited in both her personal and professional life over her career.  

Congratulations Mom on your retirement!  We expect to see you and the big rig out our way soon!

We returned to Denver on Sunday and tried to focus on an actual week of work.  

We enjoyed our first weekend of May that we were actually in Denver by going down to the Jazz Festival in the Five Points area of downtown.  Our good friends Chad and Michelle came up to see the juking and jiving (and not too mention the huge turkey legs and bratwurst).

And then came Memorial Day weekend.  Although we are a long ways off from expertise, we have developed our own palette for wine and it just happened to work out that Cabernets and Pinots, two of our favorites, are currently being perfected in western Colorado.  We reversed course from last year, giving ourselves a little more time in the Grand Junction/Palisade (the Grand Valley) area.  It is amazing that from a distance (as can be seen), the surrounding topography appears to the casual observer (us) to be arid and dry, terrible for grape growing.  But we assure you, quite the opposite is true.  The incredible engineering of the irrigation systems allows for the long days of sunshine and lack of humidity to produce great wine.

Mesa Park proved to be our favorite in the Grand Valley as the family owned hospitality provided a unique look behind the scenes.  Chuck, the father, walked us through the wine-making and bottling process.  We were so engrossed that we forgot to take pictures, but here is the view from the property.  

Day two of the weekend was spent in the Paonia Valley visiting some of our favorites, Stoney Mesa and Terror Creek.  The land appears a little more forgiving (green) and naturally fertile in this area as even in May the mountains are still holding on to their snow pack. 

We headed back for Denver Sunday night with our treasure, completely stocked up for another year!

  Although we had every intention of just relaxing on Memorial Day proper, the moonscape of a front yard beckoned us from the couch as we began to formulate our plan of attack on this summer's project.  It is hard to believe that a year ago, we had a huge hole in our front yard in preparations for the foundation of the addition!  A full day of weed pulling and rock raking resulted in our first efforts of at gardening.  Our neighbor has a privacy fence that extends about half the distance from our porch to the street, so we are trying to soften up the appearance with some tall grasses.  

Although not technically in May, the first weekend of June allowed us the pleasure of playing hosts to Katie and her friends, in town for a concert.  Little did they know that a visit to the Gilstraps' in Denver means not stop action.  We made the usual visits to REI and Little Man Ice Cream, went up to Buena Vista for some white water rafting, and even got to see Denver at it's out door finest as there were a couple of festivals going on downtown.  We also look forward to the chalk art festival.

And don't forget Lucille's!  We are always excited when people come our way and take it as a point of pride to send them home thrilled but tired.  Thanks for coming guys!

Katie and her friends also did us a huge favor by bringing out the newest member of our family! Her name is Stella.

We continue to count ourselves blessed, especially so after seeing and doing so much in just a month!  It was great to see everyone along the way and we know that as he summer rolls on, we will see you all again soon.  Take care for now.