“Count your blessings instead of sheep” – Rosemary Clooney sang this Irving Berlin song in the movie White Christmas. In the hustle and bustle and yes, stress of the holiday season, this is great advice.
So often we lay in bed worrying about packages arriving, money spent, who should sit next to who at Christmas dinner and whether Great Aunt Betty will forget to add the sugar to her cookies again.
Wouldn’t counting your blessings be a better routine after you crawl into bed?
1)Thank you for the giggles I shared with my daughter today.
2) Thank you for Taco Tuesday with family.
The holiday season is traditionally a time for gatherings with family and friends, this year was no exception in my home, (MB). My brother and sister-in-law provided our Thanksgiving meal at their home leaving me free to do something new on the Friday after.
Root Beer has always been a family favorite, to the point where some family members feel they can name the root beer brand with just a taste. In addition, we had a week-end guest who loved root beer.
The perfect combination to put together a root beer tasting party!
My criteria for root beer to make the cut was simple. It had to be in a glass bottle. While some would be old favorites, A&W, Dad’s, IBC; the rest would be unknown to me. I couldn’t be sure what my connoisseur had tried, so I simply picked up every brand I found.
A couple of the root beers came from the traditional grocery stores, in addition, I stopped in at our local ice cream and sweets shop for lesser know brands, Scrumptious, (if you ever have a chance to try their home-made ice cream, DO!), I explained what I was doing so along with the brands they had in the cooler, they found a new arrival in back. He also had 2 different types of root beer candy for my centerpiece. Thank you for your efforts on our behalf! World Market had a good selection of lesser known brands too.
I was unable to find A&W in glass bottles but it wouldn’t be a true root beer tasting without that fan favorite, so I settled for the plastic bottle. Barq’s was the only root beer that I could not find anywhere. In total, I ended up with 12 different brands of root beer.
I then began searching for small root beer mugs, something in the shot glass range. I found them at Party City. These I put in the freezer, root beer must be served in a frosted mug, right?
The actual tasting would be done in 3 flights of 4 each. I covered the labels, this would be a blind taste test.
Next, I put together a score sheet, covering 4 aspects, Effervescence, Sweetness, Zest, & Bouquet, along with their overall score for each one.
We did a 4th flight with the favorites from the previous flights to determine our winner.
I started the party with 2 songs about Root Beer to set the mood.
George Jones – Root Beer video by hankgwe
Who knew the Beach Boys sang about root beer? video by fatgator46
I made a point of opening the bottles out of sight of my testers. The A&W plastic bottle would be a dead give-away along with the possibility they might see and recognize a bottle cap.
Tasters were allowed to take as much time as they needed with each root beer. Some made their decisions quickly, others were very deliberate.
Comments from the tasters varied on every one.
“Strong Maple flavor”
“This one tastes like black licorice.”
“This one is so bland, now that I’ve tasted the others.”
The five root beers chosen for the final flight based on tester scores; although unknown to the tasters at the time; were: A&W, Dad’s, Dang!, IBC & Bulldog. One taster preferred Virgil’s over the rest but the others felt its anise flavoring was too strong, so Virgil’s did not make the cut.
Who’s #1 on our list? A&W was the hands down winner.
The Root Beers we tasted in addition to the above, were:
We had so much fun with this, we may try a cream soda taste test next!
What’s your favorite root beer? and why?
Here’s to a sweet life!
MaryBeth & Sherry
Let it Glow! Glow in the Gardens; Denver Botanic Gardens opened this week and what a fangtastic concept it turned out to be.
Heeding their cries, these sylphs drove on, “after treats and spirits,” we gasped, “we’ll face the specter head on”
Magically full, we crept back once more, now no gremlins blocked the portal of our haunted stroll.
Witch way should we go? Head for the demon, after all, demons are a ghoul’s best friend. (insert groan here). Follow the flow?
No, that way’s blocked by a hundred souls or more. Progress was hauntingly slow, petrify a right towards a boo-tiful pumpkin carriage from fairy tale lore.
Bat’s better, as we creep further into the darkness, luminaries lightening our path. Shadow figures surround us, spooky elves with their blood-curdling screams or little monsters expressing their wraith.
Cascading water casting a spell, luring us with its siren song.
Murky pools, ponds of doom, if you dare enter their gloom.
Mysterious orbs beckon us in, what lies beyond… is entering this labyrinth a grave mistake?
Scaredy-cats! What hides on the other side?
Hocus Pocus! He comes into focus. Dark Knight of Fire! Is it Arthur pulling his sword from the stone, so that he may sit on his underworld throne?
Or does our blazing rogue prepare for a fight?
Disguise’s a Dragon, hell-hound poor knight …
Disillusion of mystical ladies appears, supernatural enchanters are these dears.
What is she raven about? A myth, a fable, an unearthly lout?
Boil and bubble, do we got trouble? Rabid-ly we carrion.
Hex, om-ino-us is a glimmer light, phantom that!
Our ghostess of a hostess bids us farewell, as we grimly depart from our tour of ruin.
Have a devilishly Happy Halloween!
🎃 MaryBeth & Sherry 😈
We found the perfect fall day to visit one of our old haunts.
Olde Town Arvada is about to experience a big changes due to the light rail station. The increase in foot traffic will be great for the businesses. Parking has always been an issue in Olde Town, so the city has opened a new lot near the movie theaters and offers a shuttle to bring you downtown.
We stopped first at a newer pub, Homegrown. They have a nice patio right on main street, it’s a bit noisy with traffic in the afternoon, so we were seated inside near a window. The decor is somewhat industrial with a touch of antlers. It was quite comfortable, the servers were friendly and efficient.
If you want to try a truly delicious appetizer, have the brussel sprouts. They were amazing. We ate every bite, down to the last crumb. Then it was time for a stroll to see what had changed in Olde Town, turns out, quite a bit.
There were a few of the long-time businesses, such as the Arvada Tavern. We’ve eaten here a few times, it’s always good. They did have a Rockabilly group upstairs once in a while, not sure if they still do. As always the Rheinlander Bakery smelled delicious, they are celebrating their 53rd year. We hurried on by as our taste buds were yearning to go inside, but our waistlines said no!
We strolled on down to Arvada Bead Connection, a local favorite where the proprietor is very friendly. Sadly, he is having a going out of business sale. With the changing demographic, the rents are being raised and parking removed which doesn’t appeal to his clientele. MB made sure to scoop up several seed bead tubes for future crafting. We wished him the best and moved on.
Fuzzy’s Tacos across the street is said to be good, we haven’t tried it yet.
There are a growing number of new coffee shops, which we are sure will appeal to early morning commuters. If you want to make your commute really good, drop into the Rheinlander. Hey, you’ll be walking to the light rail, so it’s all good!
Our next stop was Third Eye Gifts, upon entering you feel the warmth of positive energy. The proprietor has several Himalayan Salt Lamps lit and producing negative ions. The negative ones are positive! The smell of incense was not overwhelming, just an added touch.
We asked about the singing bowls and the owner took quite a bit of time to demonstrate them and teach us how they work. We were definitely rookies when he had us try them. I think we’ll be back to purchase one soon. This may be a new favorite shop.
For as chilly as it was, there were still kids in the water park! Located in the center of Old Town, they offer movies here in the summer. During the day, it’s a spot for kids to play while the adults relax on the nearby benches and visit. Near the holidays, a Christmas Tree and other decorations are added. You can also take an old-fashion carriage ride through downtown. We have to admit, this is an improvement on the parking lot that used to sit here.
Schoolhouse Kitchen & Libations is aptly named as it is in the old Arvada School. We’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about this place. We happy to see them re-purposing the old buildings rather than tear them down. It helps to maintain the ambiance.
A local favorite with children of all ages is Scrumptious Ice Cream and their cement pig mascot.
He’s a Superhero today, just a few months ago, he was a hippie, but he’s always good for a kids photo-op. The shop itself offers some unusual and delicious home-made ice cream flavors, dark cherry and bourbon flavors are favorites. Everyday they have something different. On one side of the shop is the ice cream parlor, on the other is an old-fashioned candy store with bottled soda. On a hot evening, this place is packed. Right across the street from the light rail station, they’ll be busy all year-round.
We ran out of time to further explore, and there are so many new shops and restaurants to visit.
If you are in our neck of the woods, be sure to stop by Olde Town Arvada.
Here’s to a Happy Life!
🍁MaryBeth & Sherry 🍂
Road Trip – Part 3
Surrounded by wineries and not far off the highway, the inn is lovely, the staff friendly and helpful. While checking in, we solicited their advice about wineries they would recommend we visit. The woman at the desk asked us a few questions to get a feel for our taste in wine. Sherry answered as I rarely drink alcohol. 🍷Based on Sherry’s replies, she gave us a map and suggested a few wineries. As we had arrived in mid-afternoon and the temperature was 102° , she kept the list short. Most of the tasting rooms close at 5 p.m. Off we went.
There are bikes to rent at the hotel and around town that allow you to bike from winery to winery. For us, it was simply too hot. There are also luxury wine tours, horse-drawn carriage tours, etc. to personalize your visit.
Palisade’s motto is Life tastes good here all year long, and is known for its peaches, simply delicious. Be sure to try some. If you have time to visit the art galleries and lavender farms, do.
Our first stop was Canyon Wind/Anemoi Cellars. Surrounded by the vineyards, the tasting room has a few tables out on the lawn under beautiful shade trees. We said hello to a group of women enjoying their wine and entered the tasting room. There is a small storefront with a warehouse in the back. The owner gave Sherry a couple of samples, and discussed wine-making with us. Sherry bought a Chardonnay and we continued on our way.
In addition to wine, there are lots of fresh fruit for to enjoy.
As this was our second stop, it was hot and we were hungry, we decided to sit on their patio for a bit. We ordered a glass of the White Cabernet Sauvignon. What’s a glass without some brie, crackers and of course, chocolate! As a non-wine drinker, I can tell you that this white Cabernet Sauvignon is wonderfully delicious.
After an enjoying our light lunch, we moved on. A short drive up the road, we stopped at Colorado Cellars, they offer fruit wines and mead, in addition to their reds and whites.
I apologize to Colorado Cellars for not taking pictures, I’ll blame it on the glass of wine I had at lunch. I did purchase the blackberry wine and Golden Nektar Mead for tasting at my next family game night.
Just around the corner, we pulled into Carlson Vineyards. They are Colorado’s original winery.
Carlson Vineyards has a nice gift shop in addition to a tasting room. They offer a shaded outdoor area too. Here we sampled several fruit wines and browsed their gift shop. Although we did not buy wine here, they were quite good.
Our next stop was Hermosa Vineyards. Here we had the pleasure of the meeting the owner, he told us that he crafted the wines to his personal taste. He talked about his process and different grapes. He provided buckets for us to dump any leftover wine, which was probably a good idea as we’d been “tasting” for a couple of hours at this point. Sherry enjoyed all the wine she tasted here. I bought a Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and the Dessert Wine, which he had us taste with a piece of Dove chocolate. Heaven! Sherry purchased the Cabernet Franc.
We had a lovely visit at the Hermosa Vineyards tasting room but it was now time to head back to our hotel for a swim and a meal.
The view from the pool is breath-taking, the water cool and quite welcoming after a hot day. We dined al fresco, seated among blooming flower gardens and baskets. The meal was tasty, we recommend the macaroni and cheese. Yum!
We’ll be back in Colorado Wine Country soon we hope. It’s perfect for a Mother/Daughter, Girlfriends or Couples trip.
Here’s to a Happy Life!
MaryBeth & Sherry
Taking a short vacation with your girlfriends should be a mandatory once a year excursion, although who would argue with taking several a year?
We recently returned from a 3-day trip to La Jolla, CA. Eight women in a 3-bedroom house with ocean views within walking distance of beaches, shops and restaurants. It was heavenly.
Each of us is on a different life journey right now, which makes the camaraderie of girlfriends even more uplifting. Being with your girlfriends gives you the freedom to express feelings you may not otherwise be able to.
Advice, laughter, good food and a few drinks helps to create great experiences and a lifetime of memories.
Friends give you the courage to try things you wouldn’t ordinarily try. For MaryBeth, that was ocean kayaking. A singularly terrifying proposition, I was buoyed by the fact that there were 2 life guards and a very experienced kayaker in the group. With their promises to keep me safe, out we went. I am so happy that I tried it and guarantee you it will never happen again.
We had two items to take care of before arriving, 1) bring a small inexpensive gift for each member of the group; 2) bring a picture of yourself at age 18-20. The pictures brought laughter, compliments and a lot of “look at my hair!”
The gifts were fun way to break the ice and well thought out. Satin eye masks with witty sayings, linen spray, a RFID wallet, a travel journal, a small jar for sand and shells, and a tiny metal starfish reminding us to be grateful for our journeys. Each gift received was embraced and the giver complimented for the thought they had put into it.
Friends who rejoice in your accomplishments, boost your ego and refrain from the negative create a rejuvenating experience. They remind us there is a time for every season whether it be silly or serious and above all, a time to boost each other up with an understanding that is often missing in our every day lives.
Thank you ladies, it was a blast!
Here’s to a Happy Life! ☀️
MaryBeth & Sherry
Now’s the time to celebrate!
Day 11 1/2 – Gather your friends and family around you, eat drink and be merry! Relax and enjoy this time together. It may be hectic, children running, dogs barking, cats hiding from these ridiculous humans…
Just soak it all in and laugh.
And now we say good-bye to you all and wish you the best this holiday, we are off to enjoy our families.
Music is one of the best ways to lift your spirits. You knew we were eventually going to go here didn’t you?
Day 10 1/2 – Caroling – We hesitate to suggest this as a way to lift your mood on the off-chance you might ask one of us to sing. Be forewarned, this would be a terrible mistake.
In MB’s childhood home, Holiday Sing-along with Mitch was big. We often watched the Mitch Miller Show and sang along to the bouncing red ball. The thing is we didn’t sing well. We had a lot of fun though.
Must Be Santa was a big hit with us, even today we all sing along when we hear it.
For our children, it was the Muppets Christmas with John Denver or Disney Sing Along
Caroling with family is a great deal of fun. Be forgiving of those who can’t necessarily carry a tune but wish to take part, encourage those that can sing to lead and let your music ring out.
As our children matured, their tastes in carols changed a bit. And they cringed a lot when their parents sang-along.
If you really can’t bring yourself to sing in a group, then go to one of the free caroling events in your area. Karaoke anyone? Whether you Sing, Hum or Lip Sync, try caroling to keep the merry in Christmas this year.
Be sure to click on the links and sing along!
We often wish that our parents and grandparents had kept a written account of their childhood for future generations.
Day 9 1/2 – Write – Our 12 Days of Christmas are written to help you find serenity during this hectic holiday season. Keeping a diary is a wonderful way to not only reflect back on your day and express gratitude but to preserve your history for future generations.
Our advice would be to keep a separate piece of paper nearby if you feel the need to vent, then destroy it just as soon as you’re done. No need to save that for prosperity’s sake.
The journal should include names, whether they are a friend or a relative, dates and the experiences you shared.
We’d love to know how our childhood Christmases were different from our grandmothers.
I know that my parents grew up during the Great Depression so they usually received a hand-carved toy, rarely was it painted. On really good years they also received an orange. I don’t know if anyone came to visit, what they had for Christmas dinner, if Santa Claus was a fixture in their childhood.
Writing about everything you are grateful for helps improve your attitude.
Purchase a beautifully bound journal, have everyone in the family write a memory in it, add a few pictures, pass it down through the generations. Or start a private family blog where everyone can add their memories. Family members can read it anytime they like.
Documenting your family history is a truly a gift that keeps on giving.