2015 Subaru Legacy road trip: Paint Mines Interpretive Park

I was provided a 2015 Subaru Legacy free for one week for review as part of the #SubaruLegacy blogger program. Opinions are my own.

Last month, I had a sleek and chic sedan for a week. A 2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited, which I told you much about in this post right here.

During the week I had the Subaru Legacy, I visited a few places nearby that I'd never been to before despite having lived in the area for more than thirty years. One spot I toured: the Paint Mines Interpretive Park in Calhan, CO. My friend Ruth of Cranium Crunches—a devoted fan of minerals, gems, and geological wonders of any sort—was in town for a day and was delighted to sit back in the comfy passenger seat of the Legacy and head off to the Paint Mines with me.

The Paint Mines Interpretive Park is an overlooked gem of a place many folks in Colorado and beyond may not...

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2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited: Out and about in a sleek, stylish sedan

I was provided a 2015 Subaru Legacy free for one week for review as part of the #SubaruLegacy blogger program. Opinions are my own.

subaru legacy

My friend Ruth, author and creator of CraniumCrunches.com, visited me for one day last month. It was perfect timing as I had just received a 2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited free for review as part of the #SubaruLegacy blogger program. The sleek sedan was the ideal vehicle for our day of adventure.

Ruth and I packed tons of fun into our time out and about together in the comfy car. We started off visiting—and walking—a labyrinth downtown...

subaru legacy 

Followed by a drive to the top of Palmer Park so I could treat Ruth to...

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Here and now: August 27, 2015

clock and book 

On my mind...

Wondering how people without decent health insurance survive.


Finished up The Mapmaker's Children last night. Starting Circling The Sun by Paula McLain tonight.


Brianna's new puppy, Max, each day at lunch. The nine-week-old can't get through...

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Here and now: August 13, 2015

In my world...

baby boomer lifestyle 

On my mind...

The fabulous time I had Tuesday with my friend Ruth from San Diego. She was in Colorado on business but took time out of her busy schedule to spend a day and night with me. In those 24 hours together we:

  • Visited a book store.
  • Walked a labyrinth—my first...
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Adult slumber parties, plus GRAND Social No. 147 link party for grandparents

Adult slumber parties

I hope your weekend was fabulous! Mine was, thanks to a slumber party I attended Saturday night. A slumber party at a mountain lodge with lovely women with whom I've been friends for more than 35 years yet I hadn't seen all but one of them in more than a decade.

We started with lunch at a yummy Mexican food spot then headed on over to the lodge. We talked and laughed and cried and reminisced and drank lots of wine until late, late, late. Then we got up Sunday morning and started all over again—with coffee instead of wine, of course.

high school friends 

It was a truly...

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On friendship, good fortune and new recipes

As it's the end of the week and everyone's brains are fried — it's not just me, right? — I'm offering up very little in the way of food for thought in today's post. Instead, I'm offering up real food. By way of three new recipes I just added to the Grandma's Briefs Recipe Box yesterday.

Friendship Cake 

First up — and just in time...

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4 things that make the Fourth of July

For some, it's baseball, hot dogs and apple pie that mark the fourth day of July as, well, the Fourth of July. And, of course, there's the fireworks, American flag and patriotism that most of us could never do without. 

 bowlful of cherries

For me, though, there are four more things that, without them, it simply...

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Wherein I attempt to master the selfie

I like to check my baggage when I travel. I know a lot of people prefer to carry on their items, but I prefer to check. Reason being that when I travel, I take my laptop (it's not an iPad or notebook by any means) as well as my DSLR camera. Once my camera is in a bigger bag with my purse, that bag and my laptop constitute my two carry-on items, while clothes and more are checked.

That said, I didn't check my baggage for my recent trip to Dallas for Bloggy Boot Camp, a fully paid trip I won from The SITS Girls. It was a quick trip with little chance I'd be leaving the hotel (which I didn't) so I left my camera at home, packed my laptop in my suitcase and lugged it all upon the plane.

Having no DSLR along for the trip meant I had to use my iPhone for any photos. An iPhone 4S, so it's not all that great, but it works in a pinch for most things.

I'm not so sure it worked all that well for selfies. Or maybe it's the camera operator. I tried, I really did. And the following provides proof.

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10 non-blogging things I learned at BlogHer '13

BlogHer '13 offered multiple and myriad sessions for gleaning new tips and tricks for the business of posting and publishing. I learned much beyond nitty gritty techniques to add to my blogging toolbox, though, things such as the following.


BlogHer '13

1. Don't be afraid to look foolish. BlogHer sponsors offer plenty of opportunities to look like a fool. I say "Do it!" Once you've donned fisherman gear or kicked back on a mattress in the center of a crowded conference hall, there's nothing else to fear others might see you do.

BlogHer '13 brands

(One caveat: With all the free booze flowing, you don't want to look foolish and passed out in the hotel lobby for all to see. Pacing yourself — or abstaining — is key.)

2. The coolest swag comes from unexpected places. Brands offer more than ways to look foolish. They hand out piles and piles of goodies (so much so that yes, the second suitcase is a necessity for the trip home). While the big brands hand out must-have items, I found my favorite to be from a pest control company. Yes, you read that right. Pest-control company Rescue! gave out mini kaleidoscopes. I love kaleidoscopes. Kaleidoscopes are cool.

Rescue! kaleidoscope

3. Brands are becoming more receptive to the baby boomer demographic. Speaking of brands, I was impressed by the number of brands who seemed sincerely excited about partnering with me — a baby boomer, empty-nester, grandma blogger. The most enthusiastic responses came from Manilla.com, FoodSaver, Bernina (at a non-BlogHer event), Serta, Chuck E. Cheese's, Cosmo Camp (also at a non-BlogHer event) and the reps for the National Restaurant Association's Kids Live Well program, to name just a few.

4. Lean Cuisine rocks frozen meals in unexpected ways. Still speaking of brands, I was invited to a luncheon sponsored by Lean Cuisine in celebration and promotion of their new line, Honestly Good. All I can say is Wow! And Yum! I'll say more later in a longer post specifically about Lean Cuisine's incredible chefs (real chefs, restaurant-owning chefs!) and dedication to fresh and healthy ingredients. It was an impressive luncheon accompanied by an informative — and tasty — presentation.

Honestly Good 

5. Next time, arrive the day before the conference begins. I didn't do this, which meant I had no time to experience what Chicago — a city I've never been to before — has to offer. Which meant other than photos taken of the Chicago River from my hotel room, this is my only touristy shot:

Chicago intersection

6. The best sessions have little to do with blogging and brands. Time with friends provided the most memorable moments.

Gino's Pizza 

7. Don't be afraid to go it alone. I chose to arrive late to breakfast one day and was a bit anxious about taking the shuttle without my friends and arriving late to the conference hall by myself. Going it alone, though, turned out to be unexpectedly rewarding when my shuttle seat mate turned out to be among the most enjoyable of women I met all weekend. Karen Malone Wright and I talked all the way to the conference hall, and we shared a breakfast table. We then ran into one another again at a party the next night, where Karen proceeded to be forever in my favor thanks to her gushing about how much I looked like Andie McDowell in Groundhog Day. How could I not forever appreciate such flattery?

8. The BlogHer Voice of the Year signs cost more to ship home than it would to make your own. The late-night antics that led to that realization? Priceless and memorable — and unmentionable in a public forum.

Voices of the Year sign

9. I want to be Tracy Beckerman. With her syndicated column running in 400 weekly community newspapers and her book, Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir, climbing the charts, what freelance writer and blogger wouldn't want to be Tracy Beckerman? Alas, I settled for her session on syndicating your work — one of my favorite sessions of BlogHer '13, in which Tracy explained how to be just like her. Stayed tuned for my transformation.

Lost in Suburbia

10. Conferences — and life! — are so much better when enjoyed with friends. Especially when those friends are (left to right) Jane Gassner, Sandra Sallin, Cathy Chester, Connie McLeod, Ruth Curran, Lois Alter Mark, Helene Cohen Bludman and Janie Emaus, all of whom — along with every other #GenFab member I hugged while there — made my BlogHer '13 experience so much more delightful than I ever hoped it might be.

BlogHer '13 friends

Today's question:

Which of the points above would you like to hear more about? (I just may write a separate post based on your interest.)

Picture this: Peace, courtesy a bug

I've been rather frazzled of late for a variety of reasons, the kind of frazzling that hurts the jaw when you realize come end of day that you've been gritting your teeth for hours. Yeah, that kind of frazzling.

Last Thursday, amidst the frazzle and dazzle, I went outside to bring the garbage can back from the road and nearly stepped on this as I headed back inside:

praying mantis

I grabbed my camera. I Googled. I was floored. Yes, that's a praying mantis. I've lived in Colorado more than 40 years and have never, ever seen one. So I did what anyone would do: I posted it on Facebook. I got several "Wow!" comments plus a couple from fellow Coloradans sharing how they once-upon-a-time saw a praying mantis in Colorado. And I got a comment from my friend Ruth directing me to read this:

The mantis comes to us when we need peace, quiet and calm in our lives. Usually the mantis makes an appearance when we've flooded our lives with so much business, activity, or chaos that we can no longer hear the still small voice within us because of the external din we've created.

<snip for length and copyright reasons>

An appearance from the mantis is a message to be still, go within, meditate, get quiet and reach a place of calm. It may also a sign for you to be more mindful of the choices you are making and confirm that these choices are congruent.

— from http://www.whats-your-sign.com/animal-symbolism-mantis.html

It brought tears to my eyes. And it brought me peace... courtesy a bug.

Today's question:

What brings you peace during frazzled times?

What I learned this week: Phenomenal women rock my world

This week, courtesy of my ever-phenomenal friend Ruth from Cranium Crunches, I was introduced to another phenomenal Ruth — Ruthie Foster. Specifically, Ruth shared with me Ruthie's version of Maya Angelou's poem Phenomenal Woman. Ruthie Foster has the most, yes, phenomenal voice. Take a listen:

That rendition of Maya Angelou's poem — a musical arrangement by Amy Sky (surely another phenomenal woman) so powerfully and soulfully belted out by Ruthie Foster — piqued my curiosity about the original poem. I, surprisingly, had never read or heard it before. So I searched, found, and share it here, read by Ms. Angelou herself:

That is what I learned this week: A phenomenal poem and phenomenal song that I just had to share with the phenomenal mothers, grandmothers and others in my world.

Cheers to phenomenal women! And an extra special toast to Ruth for sharing this week's lesson that so touched my soul.

Today's question:

What did you learn this week?

Friday free-for-all: Come vent with me

Come vent, whine, give kudos—to others or yourself—or anything your heart desires today. It's been a rough week. Now is the time and consider this the safe place to share whatever you choose for our Friday free-for-all.

As the grandma in charge, I have the honor of going first. Here is what's on my mind at the moment:

Photo courtesy Paola Gianturco• I'm nervous. I'm writing this yesterday (funny how such things work) but I'm nervous about today. I have the privilege of spending the day in Denver with Paola Gianturco, an amazing photojournalist who has published five books focusing on women. Her latest, Grandmother Power, is all about grandmothers around the world, and I've been invited to be her guest at a slide presentation about the book, her incredible adventures and her photography. This woman rocks—just look at her website and you'll agree. I'm nervous because I want to do right by her in all things I share afterward about her, her book, and our day together. I'm also nervous because I rock not even one-quarter as much as she does and I hope I don't bore the <cuss> out of her. Stay tuned for more—on Paola, not my idiotic nerves and insecurity. (Well, unless I really do bore her to tears.)

• I wish arranged marriages were still socially acceptable. That wish has nothing to do with my son-in-law Preston. Or any other official boyfriend of my daughters.

• I also wish I were more committed to exercising. I was pretty embarrassed to let myself see myself in the full-length mirror at JCPenney the other day. I either need to willingly exercise more often or install a full-length mirror near my shower to shame myself into doing it. Or both.

• I'm so incredibly grateful for friends whom I've never met in person yet have helped me secure (paying) writing and editing gigs. Thank you, Lisa, Mary Dell, and Carol.

• I'm still praying my grandsons fully recover from the crud. Bubby's cough—but hopefully not the flu—has returned and now he's doing breathing treatments, too.


• I'm also still praying for our fellow grandma Kelley, whose three new grandbabies were recently diagnosed with RSV. Everyone here is welcome to send prayers and positive thoughts her way, too.

There you have it. I feel better already. It's always nice to get things off your chest. Now it's your turn!

Today's question:

What's on your mind/heart/chest today?