Weekend Recap: Starting the Holiday Season

This was a super short weekend – but a festive one :)

On Thursday night, I was supposed to fly from Florida up to Saratoga, New York, to spend Friday with my family and then attend my brother’s holiday party that night. But on Monday, I was asked to lead a workshop on Friday that was coincidentally in Ithaca, New York. It cut my time with my family shorter, but it actually worked out pretty well. My mom was making the drive from Binghamton anyway, so she joined me for dinner on Thursday, and then drove us both from Ithaca to Saratoga on Friday afternoon. That still gave me a night with my brothers (my other brother was visiting from Charleston, so I got to see both!) and sister-in-law. Sometimes my work travel has its perks :)

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Not the greatest pic, and it doesn’t include my mom and sister-in-law, but I’m just so glad we were all together! From left to right: my brother Erik, my nephew, my brother Lars, my other nephew, my brothers’ mom (they’re actually my half-brothers, so we have different moms), me, and my dad.

Friday night was a lot of fun, but after the really rough week I had, I went heavier with my wine pours than I’ve done in a while. Around 1am, with the rest of the party in full swing, I called it a night and got ready for bed – then managed to sleep soundly through the beer pong that was still raging till 3am. Haha! Maybe not a bad thing I had that wine ;)

I was glad I had gone to bed then, though – I had to be up at 5:30am for my flight home to Denver, so I could be back in time for my work holiday party Saturday night. Fortunately, I’ll be back up to Saratoga for Christmas in just a few weeks, so I didn’t feel too guilty about sneaking out early.

I arrived home Saturday afternoon, with just enough time to do a few chores around the house and get all dolled up. On my way to that night’s holiday party, I stopped downtown to meet with my Champa House mentee before she watched Denver’s holiday parade, and that put me in a great mood for the holiday party!

Our holiday party theme this year was James Bond’s Casino Royale, and I had a lot of fun teaching a few of my coworkers to play craps at one of the casino tables that had been set up. In general, the people in the Denver office are those I rarely, if ever, work with – but it’s really nice when we all get to come together a few times a year. Pretty much all of us wish we could be in Colorado more instead of traveling across the country to work, and it’s nice to hang out / commiserate with people who are living the same lifestyle.

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When I have to go to a casino, this is my favorite game! Made even better when we’re playing for fake money instead of real money. (Though Saturday night I was doing pretty well on winning chips.)

Sunday morning found me sleeping in super late – I got up at 7am, which meant 9 hours of sleep! Glorious, because I had been exhausted all day Saturday but unable to nap. After taking care of some chores around the house, I headed out to meet my friend Lauren for coffee at a cute new-to-me place in Lafayette, The Brewing Market.

I hadn’t seen Lauren in months, and we had a great time catching up and discussing lots of career and lifestyle goals. It made me really happy to start my day with a good conversation like that – just a reminder that there are so many amazing people in the world, and I never have enough time for all the friends I want to keep up with!

After coffee, I stopped home to change into some lighter hiking clothes (it was 65° and sunny both days this weekend!), and then headed out to check out a trail I had done just once before. My neighborhood friend Chris introduced me to Rattlesnake Gulch one day this summer, and showed me a back way in from El Dorado Mountain trailhead.

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Starting at El Dorado Mountain Trailhead not only takes you through a cool passageway in the rock, but also helps you avoid paying state park fees :)

I thought I remembered the route, but I kept coming to forks in the road and not knowing exactly which way to go. When I pulled up the AllTrails map on my phone, I still wasn’t entirely sure – but I also saw that my phone only had 40% battery. Whoops! I finally figured out that I had missed a turn, and I put my phone into airplane mode to conserve battery life once I found the right way to go.

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Stunning views when I went the wrong way, though ;)

The trail was a lot easier than I remembered from the last time I had done it, and shorter than I thought too – it wasn’t too long till I was at the old burned down Crags Hotel site. There were two ways to go from here, and I was trying to figure out if I had time to do the loop at the top, so I took my phone out of airplane mode to confirm. And then, suddenly, my phone went from 37% battery life to 0%, and shut off entirely! I was so annoyed, as this meant I didn’t have podcasts to listen to and I couldn’t take pics from the top :(

With the technology glitch, I decided to take the shorter trail option – I hiked up the spur to the Continental Divide overlook, but didn’t do the loop around the top. And then since I wanted to get done faster now that I didn’t have entertainment, I ran down the trails back to my car.

It had taken me about 75 minutes to hike up, though I’d guess about 15 minutes of that was me getting lost and taking the wrong trail. But it only took about 40 minutes to run down, and I started thinking that maybe next time I’d try to run up and down the whole thing. There were a good number of flat sections so it might be doable?? Whether I run it or walk it, I want to go back really soon to digitally capture the gorgeous view from the top!

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My best pic was probably this one from part way up. I like it, but it doesn’t compare to the stunning views of the Continental Divide at the top.

After running back down to the car, I hightailed it home for a quick shower and late lunch. I managed to do both in record time, which was good, because I had a neighbor coming over to do me a huge favor.

I replaced the smoke detector in my bedroom a few months ago, but it somehow wasn’t networked properly to the rest of the house. When I asked my neighborhood Facebook group for electrician recommendations, a retired firefighter volunteered to come help me out gratis – and we ended up discovering that the wiring was fine and the new detector I had installed was faulty! I am so grateful to live in a community where neighbors help each other out so readily, and I hope I can pay it forward to other neighbors when something is within my realm of expertise.

To round out the weekend, I puttered around the house doing chores and finishing my holiday decorations. The last two years, I have been super lazy and not bothered to actually put my ornaments on the Christmas tree – but this year, partially motivated by this article on how decorating early can make you happier, I’m all done!

Christmas_Tree_Decorations

I mixed a few sets of ornaments I bought at an after-Christmas clearance two years ago. Love the simplicity of silver and gold!

I listened to the Nutcracker while I hung all the ornaments on the tree, and it took me back to childhood, when every fall was Nutcracker season. My favorite roles were when I was a party child and (of course) the year I got to play Clara, but I still remember the dances from playing a clown, a soldier, and a mouse. I love listening to the music and thinking back to when fall Saturdays always meant Nutcracker rehearsals, and I can’t help doing a few of the steps when I’m listening at home :)

The ornaments really didn’t take all that long to put up, and I can’t believe I skipped it the last two years. It only took me about 30 minutes, and made a huge difference in how festive my living room looks. Once that was done, my home was completely ready for the holidays.

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Isn’t it pretty?! It makes me so happy to see all the decorations!

After decorating, the rest of my night was pretty quiet and uneventful. I did the day 3 FitMas Challenge workout from FitLoDenver while I caught up on an episode of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Making the Team, which was a lot of fun. And finally, I wrapped up some more chores / packing for the week, cooked a quick chicken soup dinner, and headed to bed early before my Monday morning flight to work.

It had been a short weekend, but I was really happy with how I balanced a lot of different activities and still got some rest in for the week. Sometimes when the weekend is approaching and I don’t have many plans, I get anxious thinking I’ll end up with nothing to do (ack, my worst nightmare). I was worried on Thursday that would be the case this weekend! But this time around, it all worked out – and I’ll try to remind myself next time that spontaneous plans aren’t always bad ;)

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