Adventures in Cheese Making

I started this post a couple of weeks ago and never got around to finishing it. I had some extra time this morning. 5:45am Body Pump at the Athletic Club has me downtown before I have a chance to be distracted at home, and at the coffee shop before 8am. It’s a nice Monday morning ritual. This morning I wasn’t feeling particularly like writing, or that I had anything I wanted to dive into, but the process of writing itself is therapeutic for me so I found this post to finish up. IMG_2317

My diet has been a wreck lately. Basically since I started tapering for the marathon or even earlier, I started kinda sorta saying “F*ck it” and eating whatever I want. I’m still not going crazy but certainly not being mindful. It hasn’t done me any favors, so back on track this week. I have to say that eating meat has not done me any favors either so I’m back on little to no meat.

No matter how much will power I have, the one thing that will forever wreck my diet is my love for cheese…

A couple of weeks ago I took a Burratta and Mozzarella Cheese Making Class and it was so SO interesting. I must share. My boss’s wife signed up for the class and invited me and another friend to join. “You had me at cheese”, I said.

The Truffle Shop is a retail cheese shop in Congress Park, Denver, which miraculously I’ve never been to but will for sure be frequenting now that I know of it’s existance. Jim and I love to have cheese plates at home when we’re feeling fancy ❤ They also sell Fois Gras and I wish I didn’t know that.

Note: After spending some time at the shop and getting to know the owners, I would be confident that any cheese or meat that you get from this shop is fresh, ethical, and local as much as is possible BUT I don’t think there is any way that Fois Gras can be ethical, which is unfortunate.

Artisan cheese can range in taste, texture, color and smell but at the core of it, all cheese starts with just a few ingredients.

  1. Raw Milk*
  2. Rennet
  3. Salt
  4. Water

* You can make cheese at home with pasteurized milk, but you will need to add a yeast starter. 

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Let’s start with Raw Milk. Raw means un-pasteurized and un-homogenized milk i.e. milk that is unprocessed straight from the cow, goat, buffalo, etc. (a grass-fed, pasture raised animal). It is not easy for average consumers to get raw milk because it must meet very specific conditions in order to be safe and healthy.

Simply put, raw milk distribution would not be possible on the massive scale that our food system requires (and because most of the milk you get in the store comes from factory farms with unhealthy cows to begin with!), so milk that you find in the store is always going to be pasteurized and likely homogenized. Pasteurization ensures that all bad bacteria have been killed. During the process all good bacteria are also killed. Then, producers add vitamins back in. It is super processed.  Homogenization is a process that breaks down the fat in the milk so that the cream does not separate, further processing the milk away from it’s original state. IMG_0608

One step further, milk that you find at the store that can live on the shelf without refrigeration (like Organic Valley and a lot of shit your kids are probably drinking) has been ultra-pasteurized, which pretty much kills everything, good and bad in the milk so it has very little nutritional value left.

I’m not advocating that everyone switch to raw milk, but if you are going to drink milk it’s good to know some facts about what you’re consuming. Here is a website that discusses some facts about raw milk – www.realmilk.com . One thing I found very interesting is how the laws differ from state to state regarding how you can obtain raw milk. In Colorado, retail sales are not legal but you can buy into a “herd share” which allows you a certain amount of milk from your herd.

The second ingredient is one that I also have a bit to say about. Rennet. Well, I was surprised to learn that rennet is an enzyme produced in the bellies of baby animals and these animals are killed in the process of extracting this enzyme. I’ve spent half of my life as a vegetarian and never knew this! It’s kind of horrifying. IMG_5094

The good news is that animal rennet can also be genetically engineered so that no animals are harmed in the making of it. Sources say that up to 80% of the market share of rennet is GM.

What is the purpose of rennet? Rennet is the ingredient that causes the milk to form curds. It is important to the process.

If it sounds like I’m rambling, I probably am. I could just tell you how to make cheese but I think the more interesting part of this is the education what is actually in the cheese that we love and eat so much of.

The last ingredients, water and salt. No rant about these two.

Making cheese is actually really easy. My guess is that the hardest part is perfecting each step of the process, which probably takes a few batches of trial and error. There are plenty of recipes online.

Here is an outline of the steps we followed to make mozzarella.

Step 1: Warm the raw milk. You can slowly warm it on the stove, or you can use a set of bowls to create a double boiler. Warm it to about 88-90° F.

Step 2: Remove milk from heat. Add a few drops of rennet. Stir for about 30 seconds. Cover and set aside for a few minutes.

Step 3: When you check your bowl after a few minutes, you should see that the top is starting to jellify.

Step 4: You will then cut the top layer of gel into small chunks that become your cheese curds! Then separate the curds from the liquid (the liquid is what we know as whey!) Clean and drain the curds. Cheese cloths aren’t called cheese cloths for nothin, people.

Note, you can also buy industrial cheese curds and skip steps 1-4. 

Step 5: Add your cleaned and drained curds to a bowl.

Step 6: Add salt. Lots and lots of salt.

Step 7: Reheat the curds by pouring hot water (just below boiling) into the bowl.

Step 8: Use your hands to fold the curds and stretch them. Fold and stretch, fold and stretch, dip into water to warm in between. Eventually you will have one smooth elastic piece.

Step 9: Form the piece into a ball.

Voila – Mozarella!

Of course I don’t have a picture of the finished product, but here are a few from the process…

I haven’t tried this at home yet but revisiting this topic today has me wanting to give it a go. Now that my weekends are starting to free up again, I have time to do things like make cheese, with vegetarian rennet of course. I’m looking forward to experimenting!

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I don’t have a Monday music recommendation today but I started GLOW (which stands for Gorgeous Ladies of Wresting) on Netflix over the weekend and I’m loving it!

The show centers around two actresses and former friends who find themselves cast in a women’s wrestling show. The 80’s hair and fashion alone are worth the watch. It’s a fun, lighthearted show with some badass women. Mark Maron stars as the washed up director who stumbles quite frequently while trying to lead this group of women – a la Tom Hanks in a League of Their Own.

Go check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

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Rocking the Rim Rock Marathon

I feel like this is the moment I’ve been waiting for and trust me I’m so excited to say that I did it! I RAN A MARATHON! Yeah! I also can’t help but fight the “What’s next?!?” feeling. I think that means I’m officially a crazy runner person.

There were times while I was running that I know I was thinking… never again… but now that I’ve had a few days to reflect I’ve forgotten most of the pain. Rim Rock will not be my last, but it will always be my first.

This recap probably would have been slightly different had I written it on Sunday, but I’m going to try to recall all of my come to god moments in as much detail as possible. They are part of the fun of running, after-all!

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The Rim Rock Marathon is held in Fruita, Colorado and the course goes through  the insanely gorgeous Colorado National Monument. This year the race happened on Saturday, November 4. A date that seemed so far away when I started this journey a few months ago.

I’ve been training for this race since July! On and off training for something since February. Training for a full marathon is hard and, as I’ve said on numerous occasions, time consuming, but I trust the process. It was so worth it. I went into this race feeling super prepared. The course was challenging. Armed with my training, a perfect playlist and perfect weather, I had the upper hand. I was not thinking about my time during the race but I am proud that I came in with a time of 4 hours: 57 minutes: 37 seconds.

The race sold out at 550 participants (full, half and relay included) and according to the organizers, this is the biggest turnout yet. 107 of us ran the full marathon. From the beginning it was already much different than the larger races I’ve run, no expo, no fancy swag, no corrals.

At 6:45am on Saturday morning all of the marathon runners piled into a school bus and began the trek into the Monument. They dropped us off halfway up a hill in the middle of the monument, in the dark. I couldn’t tell you where we were. Actually I could tell you because there is a map, but at that moment I had no idea.

 

I did my stretches and warm ups, ate a Larabar, took a few pictures, turned on my playlist, then switched my phone to airplane mode. I wasn’t nervous, just a little unsure of what I was getting myself into. There was no official starting line. The Assistant Mayor of Fruita and the Colorado Mesa track coach sent us off with the shot of a handgun at 7am.

There wasn’t a true sunrise that morning. It was cloudy and perfectly cool. As the morning sky lightened, the monument revealed itself. Brilliant red, brown and orange rock formations stood grandly in juxtaposition to the deep canyons that they themselves produced. It was going to be me, my body and my thoughts, traversing this incredible landscape for the next 4-5 hours.

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Something happens when your eyes meet the landscapes out here. Since I moved to Colorado I’m constantly in awe when I literally feel emotions conjured up simply by seeing the mountains. You can almost feel them living and breathing. They can change you. I thought about this every step of the way. The monument became this force that I wanted to harness yet control.

I couldn’t begin to document what was going through my head at each mile. I tried not to think of it in terms of individual miles, especially at the beginning. I knew that the course had some challenging uphill portions including 2,600 feet of elevation gain in the first 4 miles. What I didn’t know is that pretty much the entire first half was uphill! I’m so glad we decided not to drive the course the day before because I would psyched myself out.

The first 5 miles were no doubt the worst of the uphill, but I really had to focus when 6, 7, 8 and so on continued uphill. I stopped at almost every aid station along the course. I ate a couple of gels, a waffle, and some gummy bears along the way. So much water, so much Gatorade. I usually avoid Gatorade but it was a lifesaver.

The whole second half of the race is downhill. Those running the half marathon get a full downhill race. For the marathoners, it was a long awaited and welcomed treat. I tried to make up time on the downhill portions but I was cautious not to push my limits. Even on a downhills I didn’t want to see paces that I never hit in training.

For me, the last 6 miles weren’t the hardest. The last 6 miles felt like a victory lap. The hardest part was 16 through 20. These are the miles when I had to dig deep and pull out the affirmations – you can do this… you’re already doing this… you are a badass…

The last .3 miles were also tough! According to my Garmin I had already hit 26.2 but the finish line was not yet in sight. Finally I saw some goats, then some people and then there it was – FINISH. I sped up and blew through the finish line then made it straight to Jim who was waiting with dozen roses and a beer mug. That’s my man 🙂

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I was alone for a large portion of the race. For this time and this setting, I preferred that. There were few spectators and few other runners. Few distractions. It was meditative.

I thought about the last couple of months and years and how much my life has changed.

I thought about how lucky I was to be in Fruita, Colorado in this breathtaking space.

I thought about my amazing husband who deals with my 5am wakeup calls, my long Sunday runs, my weird diets and constant need for butt massages. He never questions me, he tells me I’m crazy sometimes, but he’s always rooting for me.

I thought about my dogs, my family and my friends.

For my Rim Rock playlist I used my old go-to’s and asked friends to share a song or two with me so that I could think of them during the race. I stole this idea from someone and I definitely plan on doing it again. I put the playlist on shuffle and by a stroke of luck, ended up with an impeccably curated soundtrack for my run.

Knocked Loose, The Gospel, a hardcore song chosen by my hubby, came on around mile 4 when I felt like the uphill would never end. At one point the lyrics go… “F*ck, f*ck, f*ck…” Algiers came on around mile 5, when I was still on the Underside of Power and the uphill was still going strong.

At mile 8, ODB, Got Your Money gave me a much needed lift.

Around mile 11 or 12 I hit a point where I felt like I had crested the monument. It literally felt like I was running on the rim of it. The song Tezeta (Nostalgia) by Ethiopian jazz artist Mulatu Astatke came on up there. I had never heard this song before and the friend who recommended it said she hoped it didn’t mess up my pace, but it was absolutely perfect at that moment. Seriously, just listen to that song and pretend you’re looking out at this and imagine how you would feel!

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Around mile 18 Pretty Lights, I Know The Truth came on and then Queen, Don’t Stop Me Now. It was all downhill from here. I picked up my pace and the music picked up. I was actually going to do this, I was going to finish a marathon.

In the final stretch Dead Cross, Idiopathic came on and I powered through. Kelly Clarkson, Since U Been Gone was playing as I crossed the finish line. Don’t judge, it’s a great running song!

It was truly perfect. Here’s the playlist if you’re interested in checking it out.

Melissa’s Rim Rock Playlist 

 

 

Rock n Roll Recap

It’s funny how when you think that life is finally going to slow down you find yourself with new ideas, projects, commitments, to fill your time. I have some changes that I’m welcoming into my life and it’s nice to have the time to recognize and allow new habits and friendships to form. Now that I am in taper mode for the big run, I feel relieved that I have time to reflect on the last few months.

As I’ve said before, training for a full marathon is a hug time commitment. Training for a half fit neatly into my life with work, social life, food prep, writing, and all the other shit I do on a daily basis. Training for a full has led me to sacrifice a few of those things. Writing being one of them because I’ve had an hour more and an extra day of running in the mornings, and that’s a lot less time at the coffee shop.

In this time of rest I have to remember that I’ve put in the work and I am ready for November 4. I successfully completed my 20 mile training run a couple of weeks ago and I ran the Denver Rock n Roll Half Marathon last weekend. Though, I have been battling some knee issues so this period of rest is going to be crucial.

A quick recap of the Sunday, October 15, Denver Rock n Roll Half Marathon, because I don’t actually have too much to say about it. I started with a friend in corral 6 with the 2:05 pacers. I  lost my friend about a mile in when I stopped to take off my jacket – it got caught on my watch, took a minute longer than expected. I spent the first few miles trying to catch up with her but every time I thought I saw her, I’d get there and it wasn’t her. I pushed my pace early on and mistakenly was like “Oh, I feel great… sure, I can run at an 8:30-8:50 pace all day…” Well, I was wrong. Around mile 9 my knee was like “Nope, no more” so I struggled with some knee pain through the finish.

The race started and ended at Civic Center Park. From the starting line the course ran west and zig zagged through downtown Denver, we went up and down streets that I go up and down every day. We didn’t even go in front of Union Station!!

Between miles 5 – 6 we hit 17th street and began towards City Park. I was looking forward to running in City Park because I’ve never run there but it was less than exciting. We zigged and zagged through City Park and then back to 17th where we ran west on 17th and then back east on 17th, all the way back to Civic Center for the finish. I know I sound whiney but it was freezing, I thought the course was boring and it wasn’t my best showing. It was still fun! Racing takes a much harder toll on the body than training and it was good to remember that.

I finished in 2:07:50. Not a PR, but happy to be in the 2:05-2:10 range again and to have another race under my belt. There will be more chances for a PR 🙂 More chances as in, I kind of agreed with a friend that I would run one Half Marathon every month with her for the next year. Ha! 

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Hey! Monday Music Recco

The new St. Vincent album MASSEDUCTION is pretty fucking great.

Also, this band, Plague Vendor, who opened for The Bronx at Globe Hall last weekend. They are killer.

ME TOO

If you have been online in the last 48 hours you’ve surely seen the words “ME TOO” popping up all over timelines and Twitter feeds. This latest social media trend started when Alyssa Milano sent the following tweet on Sunday–  “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”

The response has been big because so many of us face unwanted advances every single day. As a woman I am constantly being checked out… cat called… touched… being told, you look different today… you look tired… you have pretty eyes… why don’t you smile…

ENOUGH!

This may be a silly social media movement to some but abuse, rape culture and victim blaming have become the norm. There is widespread acceptance of this behavior in society and it’s a very real problem.

It’s in Hollywood, see recently Harvey Weinstein.

It’s in sports. I haven’t sat down to watch a full NFL game all season. The organization’s response to domestic violence by players in the league is egregious.

Remember Brock Turner? Read these powerful words from his victim. Brock was released from prison after a 3 month sentence.

Also, Donald Trump is still president…sigh…The guy that has a sexism tracker online that qualifies for a long read on WordPress — Donald Trump sexism tracker here.  Even more dangerous, he is using his power in office to actively promote policies and laws that are harmful to women.

Me too. Her too. Us too. Hear us. Props to the ladies who have bravely led the charge by speaking up and telling their stories, and to those victims who haven’t yet found the courage to speak up, you are not alone. To all of the men who respect and fight for us, thank you.

To all of those out there who feel the need to make a pass at a woman on the street or in the office –We don’t want to talk to you. We know we look good. We don’t want to fuck you. We’re not tired, just didn’t feel like wearing makeup today. We may have resting bitch face (a term we had to make up in response to being constantly told to smile). We may just actually not feel like smiling because the world is so fucked up right now.

 

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From Witchsy (www.witchsy.com)

 

A blogger that I follow posted a great list of resources for victims of sexual harassment, assault and violence and rather than reproduce the list, I will direct you here: The Purple Almond 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Days are Getting Shorter and the Runs are Getting Longer

I ran 15 miles for my long run on Sunday! While this is technically less than where I should be in my training, I’ve been fighting hard for a month to beat the 12-13 mile slump that I found myself in. More importantly, I’m recovering well and continuing to work towards my last long training run before the big day.

I was nervous all week but when I woke up Sunday morning I was ready to go. I felt well rested and in good spirits. I fueled up with some almonds and a coffee protein smoothie! These have been my jam lately, recipe below. 

My playlist was stacked with two of the bands that get me pumped up the most, The Menzingers x The Bronx.

I had water, snacks, gels (ew, forever, ew).

The weather on Sunday was perfect. A sunny 70 degree, feels like fall, warm in the sun, cool in the shade, kind of day. . I hit the Clear Creek trail with a vengeance. This trail has has defeated me twice already. My turn. 

The Clear Creek Trail is a beautiful trail that stretches from Denver to Golden. On the trail you are literally moving closer to the mountains as well as passing many parks and lakes. A couple of weeks ago I saw thousands of painted lady butterflies on the trail as they migrated for the season. I’m sure it’s an amazing bike trail but it is not my favorite place to run.

Clear Creek Trail is good for long runs simply because it is so long but the sun exposure and monotony makes it tricky. It’s not good for heading out on a long run unprepared and getting 8 miles out to only be able to run 4 miles back (guilty as charged). That’s a little tough on the ego.

The last few weeks my focus has been on trying to take a more relaxed approach. I got myself a Groupon for a month at Core Power Yoga, which is going to be hard to say goodbye to when the month is up. I’ve been running fewer days during the week in favor of yoga as well as running with other people which has forced me to break up the discipline of training a bit.

I was talking to Jim on Saturday about how I was nervous for Sunday and he pointed out something that hadn’t even crossed my mind.

J — “What did you run last week?” 

M — “13.5” 

J — “Isn’t that the farthest distance you’ve ever run?”

M — … 

M — “OMG YOU’RE RIGHT!!!”

So rather than set out with a hard and fast goal on Sunday I set out simply to do better than the last week; to run farther than I had ever run before; and I did it!

I heard a quote on an MTA podcast a few weeks ago that I wrote on my training chart. Though I forget which guest said it to credit, it’s really stuck with me time and time again, reminding me to be grateful for my body…

“Take what your body gives you each day, and nothing more.”

We had a great relaxing Saturday which I’m sure helped put me in the right mindset for my run. I’ve been dying to get into the mountains to hike and see the leaves but it’s been rainy and cold. The crappy weather took enough of a hiatus that we were able to get in a good hike on Saturday. There is nothing better than being out in nature.

Hessie Trailhead to Lost Lake | Nederland, CO

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Lost Lake

AAAND I can’t forget the sweet, sweet BBQ that we found in Nederland at James Peak Brewery & Smokehouse. The folks were a bit strange but the food was quite delicious. If you ever find yourself in Nederland, I recommend checking this place out.

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My Coffee Protein Smoothie

  • Iced Coffee (3/4 of a Nutri Bullet blender tall cup)
  • Ice
  • 1 serving Chocolate Protein Powder (I like Vega)
  • 1 Banana
  • 1/2 Cup Blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • Coconut Milk (optional)

Blend together until smooth and you’ll have a refreshing & energizing iced coffee/smoothie hybrid. The final result will be closer to the liquidity of coffee than a standard smoothie.  *Ice is super important, especially if you’re starting with warm/tepid coffee.

By the way, I’m sure it’s GREAT for you to chug a giant coffee with a straw every morning 😀

 

 

Burn Out?

Training for a full marathon is tough business. It is a huge time commitment, especially as your long runs increase in the later weeks. It is a major physical commitment, it’s hard enough to run just one mile. It is also a commitment to being mentally strong in that there are many (MANY) challenges to overcome along the way.

What I’ve learned in the last couple of years is that I absolutely love running. Running is my meditation. Running is when I don’t look at my phone for a few hours. Running is when I listen to that new album that I love, uninterrupted. Running pushes me to test my physical ability and prove that hard work actually pays off. Running makes me feel healthy. Running makes me feel accomplished.

What happens when something you love becomes something you’re completely frustrated with??? I am weeks behind in my training. My long runs should be 17 or 18 miles and I have been stuck hovering around the 13 mile mark. I’m experiencing some muscle tightness and knee pain. I’ve been going to yoga as much as possible and it’s helping with my physical ailments but the extra workout is leaving me a little drained and less than amped to head out on a run, even after a few days of rest.

Am I burned out? Plateaued? I’ve been thinking about this and battling this thought for weeks. Finally it hit me – – – Stop taking it so seriously! Seriously. This is my first marathon. I was *perfect* with my half marathon training schedule and I have strayed, quite a bit, with this full marathon training cycle. Of course I’m not performing where I could be, but my body is still giving me a lot and I’m grateful for it. At this juncture I really need to be mindful that I am not overtraining.

I want to get out there on November 4 and kick that marathon’s ass. I want to PR in my October 15th half. Most importantly, though, I want to keep running distance in the future. Now I’ve got to focus and make sure that I don’t burn out physically or psych myself out mentally.

Also, I have some really amazing things coming up this winter that revolve around shorter fun runs and running with other people. Things that I’ve admittedly neglected in this quest for distance. Things that make running about more than just yourself, they make running about a community.

What else is new?

I’ve been experimenting with diet and still – despite the fact that I just ate a handful of Brookside chocolate covered acai berries, have you had these?! – Paleoish is still working best for me, even with the added mileage. When I’ve tried to re-introduce grain based carbs, I have felt tired and sluggish on my next run. I just really need to get better at eating enough high quality food to support the energy that my body is expending. It’s not reasonable to think that a 14 mile run can be done in a fasted state. This is where a nutritionist and a better understanding of macros would come in quite handy.

The Bronx have a new album out that is my new running jam. Bonus, they are playing at Globe Hall the night of my half marathon and I am pumped to be coming off of a race and having that show to look forward to. The War on Drugs (also have a new album out, which I have not listened to) are playing at the Ogden the night before my half marathon <- this is where balance and priorities become so clear. If I don’t PR in the Rock ‘n Roll half because I was out at a concert the night before, so be it. I’ll be happy nonetheless.

Also – best for last – I’m finally starting my own kombucha brew at home! My fabulous co-worker brought me my very own big ol’ slimy SCOBY from her home brew and I’m way too excited about it. I found this website to be extremely helpful in getting everything set up. I’m starting with Black Tea and I’m on the hunt for some cool glass to store it in so I can infuse it when it’s ready. Ginger is my favorite.

I drink ACV and eat pickles pretty much every day so the vinegar smell doesn’t phase me one bit. I hope my loving hubby can adjust to the smell and the live culture that will now grace our counter tops 🙂

 

xoxo

 

Ah, Paris!

Ah, Paris! *spoken in a French accent* is the reaction that’s met me nearly every time I told someone I was going to Paris. Paris is the city of love and romance. A cultural center for art, fashion, croissants. I’ve always wanted to visit Paris but never really knew much about it beyond how dreamy I thought it to be.

When I went to Italy a few years ago I flew into Paris for a layover. It was my first time on land in Europe. We landed at CDG airport as the sun came up casting a green glow across sprawling fields of yellow flowers, that I later learned to be fields of rapeseed. I awoke from a long flight and whether it was the effects of the Advil PM, or the fact that I had listened to The Flaming Lips album The Terror on repeat for the past 8 hours, there was something magical about that sunrise.

Last summer was crazy busy with planning a wedding and though we really wanted to go to Europe, we knew that we would just want to relax after the wedding so we did a quick beach trip and saved Europe for this year. It just so happened that with some foresight and a lot of messing around on Kayak, we scored an amazing deal for a Euro trip over our first anniversary. Go us.

This summer ended up being just as busy as last summer, and maybe we didn’t do the planning that we should have but I think that ended up making the trip perfectly us. We had a flight to Paris and a flight out of Amsterdam and the rest would fall into place. I am not the type of person to pick up a Rick Steves travel book anyway, but it helps to know a little bit about what you’re doing. I’m thankful for friends and my boss who gave us some wonderful insider tips.

We probably did the most research on Paris and which neighborhood (arrondissement) we wanted to make our home for the few days we were there. I was leaning towards St-Germain-de-Pres but we ultimately decided to stay in Le Marais, and we couldn’t have been happier with our decision!

Our flat was right on a main street, Rue Vieille-du-Temple. We surrounded by lively bars, cafes, street vendors, local father & son butchers, gelato shops, boutiques that sold makeup, clothes and emitted a fragrant scent of perfume that I later came to realize fills all of the streets of Paris. We could walk anywhere and if we didn’t want to walk anymore the metro stop was a few blocks away.

We left Denver on Thursday morning and landed in Paris on Friday morning. Both o fus hungry, tired and jet-lagged we showered up (and Nespresso’d up) and got ready for the day. Running on zero real sleep in one of the dreamiest cities in the world, in the rain, we were in a haze.

There is SO much to see in Paris. We armed ourselves with a Museum Pass. Typically the type of tourists who thrive on seeing neighborhoods and immersing ourselves in city streets and the local scene, we knew we were going to be attraction tourists in Paris. You can’t truly experience Paris unless you immerse yourself in the amazing history and architecture that the city has to offer. We checked a few off of our list on this trip.

Picasso Museum – All Picasso, all day. The man had a tumultuous love life and they really tell the story and trace how the love of his life, Olga and all of his mistresses are expressed and evolve throughout his work.

Notre Dame – Meaning “Our lady of Paris” in French is the famed cathedral that I’ve learned is a perfect example of French Gothic architecture. The details both outside and inside are incredible and it’s hard to believe that something of such quality was made by hand. The plaza surrounding Notre Dame was swarming with people who take photos in front of the cathedral’s twin towers, and wait in line to go inside to view the equally breathtaking stained glass that adorns the interior, and to light prayer candles in this ancient holy place.

Pompidou – Home of the Museum of Modern Art. The Pompidou is a neat multi-level steel building with really great views as you move throughout the levels of the museum. From Impressionist to Abstract to Surrealist and everything in between, this museum houses some cool stuff. My favorite was the Herve Fisher exhibit. Definitely a new favorite artist.

The Louvre – We almost didn’t go to the Louvre but we had to, right? We saw the famed pyramid in the courtyard and skipped the line to get in (thanks, Museum Pass!)This place is massive and crowded. There are endless halls of quite amazing paintings. The old oil paintings that I saw both in Italy and now here have colors and details that rival modern 4K television. The Renaissance subject matter is very human – wars, beasts, sex, gluttony. We saw the Mona Lisa and we saw Venus. Neither piece lived up to their hype in my opinion but still very cool to see these pieces of history.

Arc de Triomphe – The Arc de Triomphe stands at roundabout on the ChampsElysées, which is said by some to be the most beautiful avenue in the world. You have to go under the street to get inside. We figured that out after a few minutes of watching people play live frogger through a 12 intersection traffic circle. Once inside, we climbed a spiral staircase that seemed to go on forever – 284 steps of forever – and we were handsomely rewarded with an incredible view of the city from the top.

Eiffel Tower – We had one thing scheduled in each city and in Paris it was our Eiffel Tower tour. I planned it so that we would be in the Eiffel Tower on August 27 at 4pm (albeit local time), which is exactly one year from our wedding ceremony. The Eiffel Tower is the epitome of a tourist attraction. It feels like you’re going into an amusement park or waiting in line for a roller coaster the whole time you’re there. Being there in person is overwhelming. The cynic in me thought “It’s smaller than I thought it would be”, “I don’t feel any special mystique about it”, “So – f-in – touristy”… but being there, at this wonder, on our anniversary and thinking about how special and care free the day was and how here we finally were, in this moment – it was nothing short of magical. We went it all the way to the summit and sipped champagne at the top.

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A few more highlights…

We drank wine, ate cheese, held hands and simply strolled.

We ate Fois Gras at Le Dome du Marais. I still hate myself for it, but damn was it good.

We walked along the river Seine. I didn’t get to go for a run in due to rain and general exhaustion, but if I had, this is where I would have run.

We sat for breakfast on a bistro patio in the 6th, while a group of performers played live music on the street corner.

We had some killer falafel and gelato within steps of our flat.

We made friends with an Aussie who runs a cocktail bar in Le Marais. Had one too many Absinthe mixed drinks. (Really, if you’re in Paris, go see Julian at to La Resistance)

We raced to the train station on the morning we had to leave for London. Still in a haze. Maybe it was the drinks, maybe it’s just the city.

Ah, Paris!  The all encapsulating phrase that describes how stunning she truly is. Until we meet again, au revoir ❤