london day 1

Seeing how yesterday was the first day since we left Paris that I didn’t wake up at 4:00am, I figured it’d be a good time to start writing some posts on our trip, while it’s still fresh in my mind.  The more I peruse our photos and relive the past couple of weeks in my head, the more I realize that it was the best ever.  I mean, we just got back from nine days in London and five in Paris and we are in our early 20’s and we’re not rich…we are seriously blessed.  That being said, here’s a peek at the day we left and our first day in London…

We left Denver around 5:30pm and landed in Reykjavik, Iceland around 6:00am. The flight was about seven hours long, which is fairly short as far as international flights from the middle of the country go, but these overnight flights…they are not my thing.  I thought we’d just stay up the whole time and then go to sleep at a normal time once we got to London, but they turned down the cabin lights and I got really tired, and couldn’t keep my eyes open, but couldn’t fall asleep either.  Our flight home, which left at 3pm and got to Denver at 6pm was much more my style.

We had about an hour and a half in Iceland, so we picked out some breakfast treats and got on our next plane – for London!

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We arrived at London Heathrow a little before noon, and easily found the tube and took the underground to Waterloo Station.  It took close to an hour, and was a little tough with our two large suitcases, but you can’t beat it for the price and convenience!

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Once at Waterloo Station, we found some pasties and potato wedges for lunch and ate them while overlooking the busy station.

DSC09021After we felt more like real people again with some food in our bellies, we tried to contact, Irene, our host in London.  We couldn’t connect to the Wi-Fi, and finally gave up and found a pay phone outside the station – but not until after we bought a few postcards in order to get some change for the call.

We finally found Irene and went to her apartment, and saw the room where we’d be staying for the next eight nights.  I forgot to take any pictures of our room, but you can check it out here.  It was really perfect for what we needed and if we went back to London tomorrow, I’d definitely stay there again.

We unpacked a few things and headed out.  We made a beeline for the London Pass ticket office, near Trafalgar Square, as we needed to pick up our London Passes before the office closed at 4:30pm.  Much to my relief, we made it just in the nick of time, as we needed the passes first thing the next morning for our visit to Kensington Palace.

From there, we went to the National Portrait Gallery and immediately came across their painting of Kate (and accidentally).  We saw some other paintings as well, but nothing as exciting as seeing Kate.  We then walked through Trafalgar Square to The Mall and down to Buckingham Palace and all around St. James Park, which after going to multiple London parks, I have decided is my favorite.

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From there, we walked to Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament and took in the outside of these gorgeous buildings.  We also stepped into St. Margaret’s Church, which offered us a very welcome chance to sit down for a couple of minutes.

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We walked along the Thames in hopes of finding somewhere to eat dinner, and ended up at an Italian restaurant right around the corner from our room.  We split a veggie pizza and potato gnocchi.  I remember it being yummy, but also our first taste of how expensive food would be on our trip!

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After dinner we unpacked a bit more and went to bed around 9:30pm, which was no problem as we were exhausted after our day of travel and an evening of walking around London!

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everyone loves august

You know me and writing my monthly recap posts long after the month itself has past.  This month is (obviously) no different, but I have a bit of a good excuse – we were out of the country for two weeks seeing London and Paris and I stayed away from things like email and blogging during that time.  So here we go, August 2014.

On August 1st, my manager at work retired.  She was the best boss I’ve ever had and she will be dearly missed at PPLD.  We had a breakfast party for her in the morning before the library opened up…and I think all of us cried at least a little bit.

Over the first weekend in August, Danny and I enjoyed going to the Parade of Homes here in Colorado Springs.  We went last year after I won a pair of tickets and had so much fun, so this year we decided to go again, and we had a great time.  We love seeing the different homes but our favorite part is how the interiors are decorated.  Here’s a few of my favorite things that we saw…really loving, from top to bottom, the beetle kill wood wall, the window seat, and the wall paper, plus the cozy looking headboards and all the gray!  So many fun rooms and ideas.

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My mom came to visit for a few fun days before she started school and it was the best.  She treated us to lunch at Hacienda Colorado (I know I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again, Hacienda Colorado is tops), we went for a walk on our nature path, and we hiked at Red Rock Open Space.

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This was the first time either one of us had been to Red Rock Open Space, and I mean, how could you not want to go back?!  It is truly one of Colorado Springs’ hidden gems, if you ask me.

Also during the first full week of August we met my parents at Adventure Golf in the Denver area and spent the evening riding go-karts and playing mini golf.  It was a blast.

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^^ Look at that feast my mom packed for us! ^^

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^^ And there was even funnel cake! ^^

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Over the second weekend in August, Danny had his big television debut as our friends Andrew and Lisa invited him to be a part of a scene in their House Hunters show.  We’ll let you know how it turns out when the episode premieres in December.  My friend and maid of honor, Andrea, came to visit as well.  We went to the zoo, ate at Seeds, checked out Poor Richard’s bookstore, and enjoyed the beautiful weather.  It was fun to have her finally see where we live and be able to see her off before she headed to Amsterdam, where she’ll be for a few months (jealous!).

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The third weekend of August we had dinner with Danny’s brother and his wife, as well as a high school friend of theirs, Ethan, on Friday night.  The sky was especially pretty that evening…

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On Saturday we went to a few more stops on the Parade of Homes…we both loved that pretty kitchen, especially with all its natural light!  And the bottom picture, where Danny’s showing off the headboard?  That’s a rug, framed by painted wood.  Clever, huh?

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In the afternoon we went to Park Meadows for some shopping – mostly looking for shoes and such for our trip.  We also had a delicious dinner at Lyfe Kitchen, a new restaurant just above Anthropologie.  It’s a little pricey, but it’s good, and has a great vegan menu too!  Danny had a burger and I had a wrap, and just look at that neat herb garden – in the middle of the restaurant!

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We stopped at Starbucks for a little treat after more shopping.  (This might be a good time to say that I think we left the mall with only one pair of shoes – we did a lot of looking but not a lot of buying.)  It was the first time I’d been to Starbucks since college, so it was really fun to ‘splurge’ a little (with a gift card from my birthday – thanks Sarah!) and, besides, the outdoor part of Park Meadows is so pretty!  I want to go there just to read and drink more raspberry green tea (or whatever that tasty concoction was).  And after that Danny was in a particularly sweet mood and went to the American Girl store with me as I relived my childhood and gasped at how high their prices have gotten!  I mean, they’ve always been high, but over $100 for just a doll?!

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During the third weekend of August, Danny and I went to a Sky Sox game where we both wore our winter jackets!  It sure has been a bizarre summer!  We spent Saturday at Red Rock Open Space (surprised?), the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and with our friends Andrew and Lisa, playing mini golf, eating frozen yogurt, and seeing their new house…

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On Sunday, we went to church, for a bike ride around our neighborhood, and on a date to La Casa Fiesta, a Mexican restaurant in Monument I’ve been wanting to try because of their awesome looking patio.  The food was good and the patio was great, but it’s no Hacienda Colorado.

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During the last week of August, I got to see my friend Jessica, who had just returned from spending three months in Jerusalem.  It was so fun to see her photos and hear about her experiences.  We also hosted our friend Chris (you know, who we went to see – along with his wife and daughter – in Boise back in May) all week long, which was a lot of fun.  He was pretty busy with seminary classes, but when he wasn’t, we enjoyed spending time together and catching up on the past couple of months.  Looking forward to when he might come back again in January!

And then it was Labor Day, which I wrote all about here!

August was really a fun month.  Overall we had good weather and enjoyed the opportunities we had to see family and friends.  This is where I’d normally say something about how I’m looking forward to September, but seeing how there’s only two days left, I guess I’ll just say this: September was great and y’all can look forward to some posts on our trip coming soon!

and we’re back! a few trip highlights

It’s hard to believe that our long-awaited trip is over and that we’re back to reality.  Today I had a work training at 8am, which was a bit of a rude awakening, except for not really, since I had been up for hours already.  Thank you, jet lag, for the 3:41am wake up.  I’m spending the rest of today unpacking, doing laundry, getting some basics at the grocery store, and looking through pictures.  I’m hoping to do a few posts on our trip at some point, too, but until I get on a better schedule and caught up on life, here’s a few of my very favorite photos from our time away, if you’d like to see…

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Happy Wednesday!

labor day weekend

There’s not much I love more than a good three-day weekend.  Especially the kind where we both have all three days off of work…which was the case this past Labor Day weekend!  In fact, we both had a half day on Friday, which made it all the better.

We spent Friday evening at H&M kind of on accident…Danny was casually looking for a suit so I took a look around, tried on more things than I can count, and went home with a bunch of stuff while D came away empty-handed!  My favorite find?  This pretty dress that I’ve already worn twice.  In fact, look for it later on in this post!

On Saturday we woke up early to go to the Colorado Balloon Classic.  Remember when we went to the hot air balloon festival in Canon City back in May?  And it was too windy for the balloons?  Well, we were not disappointed this time!  It was amazing!  A few pictures, if you’d like to see…

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On our way out of the park, we came across some parachuters from the Air Force Academy jumping from planes and into the field we were in!  It was so fun to watch them leave the plane and slowly get closer and closer and then land in front of us.

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It was definitely time for breakfast by the time we got back to the car, so we scoured my stash of coupons and decided to go somewhere nice: Waffle House.  I had never been there before (and felt like there was no need for that to change), but Danny had fond memories of going there in the olden days, back when he was in a band and blew all his money there after shows (his words, not mine).  Apparently we were a little ambitious in our ordering, though, as we both got two waffles and split three hash browns.  Next time, we’ll each have one waffle and split the hash browns.  See that?  Next time.  It wasn’t so bad after all.

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We spent the afternoon doing a bit more shopping, as I was/am on the hunt for a cognac cross body bag to wear on our trip and Danny was looking for insoles for his shoes.  After the shopping Danny played football with some pals as well.

In the evening, we went to the wedding of our friends Michael and Amy in Manitou Springs.  Danny was friends with Amy in high school, and he currently works out with Michael most days, and now all four of us are friends!  It was a beautiful wedding, and no doubt the fanciest one we’ve ever been to.  We got to see lots of Danny’s friends from high school and had a lot of fun dancing together and eating wedding cake.  And oh, look, there’s my H&M dress…

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We didn’t get home till the wee hours of the morning, where my parents and brother were waiting for us.  Well, my parents were asleep but Mysteridge was up reading.

On Sunday morning we all woke up and ate muffins…from Sprouts.  Since we had been up so late, baking something special for breakfast was the last thing I wanted to do, so I was thankful that my mom had thought ahead and picked up some tasty muffins from Sprouts. They even have fresh vegan muffins these days!

We went to church and walked across the street to Acacia Park afterwards because not only do they have a neat market there every Sunday, but my father-in-law was playing with his band, Gertrude Told Us So, there.  We listened to the great music, looked at some of the booths, and sampled some chocolate.  Afterwards, we went to my in-law’s house for a BBQ with some of the band’s groupies (friends and family).  It was a great time to see Danny’s siblings and their significant others, as well as some other family friends.  And so fun that my family was able to come too.

In the mid-afternoon, we made our way to Red Rock Open Space.  There’s no doubt that after discovering this neat place with my mom in August, it’s become one of my favorite Colorado Springs spots.

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DSC02064We went back to our place for dinner and all five of us pitched in the make fajitas.  We spent most of the remainder of the evening in the hot tub, or pool, for those of us not interested in the strange people with a 12 pack of Coors Light and cigarettes sitting in the hot tub (both of which are expressly prohibited).

On Monday we had a lazy morning.  We made and ate donuts for breakfast, worked out (you know, to make up for the donuts), and figured out what we should do the rest of the day.  We decided to go to Fox Run Regional Park and play badminton and frisbee and velcro ball.  The park was crowded, but a good time was had by all.

We met my grandparents in Denver for an early dinner at Hacienda Colorado (do not even get my started on how much I love that place) to celebrate the fourth anniversary of my Grandma’s successful kidney transplant (my mom supplied the kidney, btw).  Lunch was so good.  And because my mom’s meal came out about three minutes after the rest of ours, we all got free dessert.  Told you I loved Hacienda Colorado.  Twelve sopaipillas and one pound of chocolate cake later, we were stuffed.

After we all parted ways, Danny and I went to Park Meadows quickly to look at a few things and then to Ikea for a couple of household items before realizing that there was a fantasy football draft happening in about forty-five minutes.  We didn’t have enough time to get through the store and check out and get home before it started, so we sat in the Ikea cafe until they closed and Danny ‘drafted’ players for the upcoming ‘season.’  It was awful awesome.

So there you have it.  Labor Day weekend 2014 in all it’s glory.

september goals

September has really snuck up on me! But here it is…along with our big trip to London and Paris! I have so been looking forward to this month, probably since April (which was when we bought our plane tickets and made it official), and I am so excited that it’s finally here!

Time for a look back at my August goals…

1. Eat lunch six days a week.  I did pretty good with this one, primarily because Danny worked at home a lot during August, and he always eats lunch, and wants us to eat together too, so we did.

2. Find some good pairs of shoes for our trip and break them in.  I’m still working on this one.  I bought two pairs of flats (these in black and tan) in July that I finally found no-show socks for this past month and started wearing them to work, but I’ve realized that with the socks they’re too small.  So I think those are out.  But they will work for wearing to work, so that’s good at least.  I also bought these leopard print buddies and a new pair of Converse that just came in the mail, so I need to try them out this week.  I gave up on the boots.

3. Go on two dates with Danny.  Yes!  We did this!  We went to P.F. Chang’s one Saturday night after I got off work, and to La Casa Fiesta, a Mexican place in Monument with a great patio I’ve been wanting to try out.  And as could have been predicted, we had a lot of fun.

4. Buy stuff for trip.  This was a major success.  I’m not totally done, but I’m close and have decided to wait and buy some things in London/Paris (as opposed to doing so ahead of time), like our London Eye tickets.  I bought our train tickets to Paris, booked accommodations in London and Paris, bought Buckingham Palace and St. Paul’s Cathedral tickets, and a Paris Museum Pass.  I bought a black umbrella that won’t embarrass Danny, this practical and cute coat, and this scarf because I just couldn’t resist.

5.  Keep budgeting.  Keep reading.  Keep swimming.  Keep working out.  Keep hiking.  Keep getting together with friends.  Passed with flying colors on the budgeting but that’s about where the triumph ends.  I read only four books this month, only went swimming this past weekend when my parents and Mysteridge came to visit, and worked out sporadically but not nearly as much as I want to/should.  I went hiking at Red Rock Open Space three times, but I don’t know if that really counts since it was the same place over and over…but after seeing these pictures, I don’t think you could blame me for being a repeat visitor.

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Overall, August’s goals were fairly successful.  Now for September…

1. Blog four times.  

I’ve already done so once this month (see July’s recap here) and even though we’ll be gone for half of the month, I think I can get two more posts done.  I enjoy writing and going through our photos, but even more, I enjoy looking back on old posts.  It’s sort of like my online journal/scrapbook/photo album, especially since I don’t have one in real life.  By that I don’t mean that this one isn’t real, but it’s virtual so it’s a little different.

2. Back up our pictures somehow

After having both of our computers crash and burn within a year – and neither time with our photos/documents backed up – I need to learn my lesson and dig out my external hard drive or store photos on one of those online things (like a website, maybe.  I think Dropbox is one of those sites?) which I obviously know very little about.  I just keep losing so many photos, and since my memory is really quite poor, I really need photos to help me remember my life!  I want to do this before our trip, so I can clear off my camera memory card and not have to worry about filling it up while we’re gone.

3. Reduce the number library books we I have checked out.

Most of y’all know that I work at the library, but most people probably don’t know the problems this causes for me.  Every day I check in/check out/shelve/handle SO MANY books that look good to me, so I check them out.  Which is why I have 92 things out on my card right now, and a few on Danny’s as well.  I know.  It is a serious problem, so I’m finally admitting it because maybe it will help me overcome it.  I’m not going to set a number of items, because I like to be realistic, but I’m thinking somewhere in the range of 60 – 70 because let’s take baby steps here.

4. Have an awesome trip.

We are so incredibly excited and blessed to be going to London next week, and Paris the week after that.  I don’t think it will take much for us to have an amazing time, but I want to focus on being easygoing and just enjoying our time together.  I’ve poured so many hours into researching and reading and preparing that I could see myself getting stressed when things don’t go as planned (because it will happen) or frustrated when I get things wrong, like directions or opening times or whatnot (because unfortunately I’m sure that will happen at least once too).  So I want to try my hardest to just remember I AM IN LONDON RIGHT NOW or I AM WALKING THE STREETS OF PARIS EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY, because it’s true.  The bottom line is these are both places we’ve been talking about going for a long time now and I want to savor our time there as much as possible.  You know, linger at street cafes, walk along the Seine later than we should, take 300 photos at Madame Tussaud’s, and go to Kensington Gardens over and over in hopes of spotting Prince George.  Okay, so maybe not the last one, but the idea of doing the things we really want to do and enjoying the sweet, simple moments even if it ‘messes up’ my plans is what I want to hold on to.

I think that’s all for this month, because hello, see #4.  Yeah, I want to read (that would certainly help with #3) and work out and see friends and budget and all that jazz but I want to focus on preparing for and enjoying ourselves on our big trip this month most of all.

Happy September and welcome to fall, y’all!

the days of july

It is September.  I started this post on August 6th and was pretty pumped about it…only a few days past July instead of halfway through the next month as usual.  And now look, it’s September, and I’m finally finishing it up.  Oh well.  I have so much fun recapping our month and remembering some of the little (and big) things we did, though, that it’s worth it.

On the first of July, I met Danny for lunch at his office.  Seems silly to mention (especially since there’s no photos!) but I used to meet him for lunch at T. Rowe all the time, and this was my first time to meet him at Compassion for lunch!  Let’s not dwell on the fact that he’d been there for seven months by the time I finally came…

Our friends Ian and Haley are back from spending three years in Bangladesh, and Haley came to spend a couple of days with me while our fellas were busy with Brandon and Kate’s wedding preparations.  It was such a treat to be with her and we had so much fun together.  We went to the zoo, we made dinner together, we walked on the nature path next to our apartment (and spotted a turtle and a deer!), and we marched in Monument’s 4th of July parade together!

Speaking of the 4th of July, I had my aunt, uncle, and cousins over for a picnic by the pool, which was really great, but unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate and we didn’t get to swim at all.  Serious bummer.   We still had a good time together, though, and enjoyed a game of Apples to Apples back at our place while the rain was really coming down.    The evening of the 4th was Brandon and Kate’s rehearsal dinner, and the next day was, you guessed it, the wedding.  It was a beautiful wedding, and I’m so glad it rained on the 4th instead of the 5th, since it was outside.  I took very few pictures the whole weekend, but my friend Shannon snapped this of Danny (and our sweet friend Amanda) as they were walking down the field aisle…

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And I did get one at the wedding reception…

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Oh hey, Tasha and Jessie!  That’s my cute sister-in-law, Ali, plus some top-notch photo bombers.

On Sunday Danny and I went hiking in the morning since I had barely seen him for past three days and I had to work in the afternoon.  We hiked Mt. Cutler and Helen Hunt Falls.  I did Mt. Cutler with my parents and brother waaaay back when and didn’t remember it at all, and it was great.  A short hike (although very uphill) yet a great view.  Helen Hunt Falls, though, was sort of a let down.  In a word, it was lame.

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^^ At the top of Mt. Cutler. ^^

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^^ At Helen Hunt Falls, before ‘hiking Helen Hunt Falls.’  We didn’t realize this was as good as it was going to get. ^^

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^^ The falls themselves. ^^

That evening, our friend Shannon (not me) came to visit!  She was in town for Brandon and Kate’s wedding, and took some time to come see us and spend the night!  We made pizza and ate on the patio and it was lovely.  I have been in love with our porch this summer.

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And after dinner Shannon and I spent around three hours in the hot tub.  Well, we alternated between the pool and the hot tub since we kept getting so hot in the hot tub!  She really wanted to hike the Incline together the next day but I was finally honest and said no.  I’ve done it once and it’s just not my fav as far as hiking goes.  So thanks to Everett and Ella who went with her since I was being a bit selfish.

After Shannon left we had a game night with our friends Alex, Rachel, Amy, and Michael.  We played Cranium and I can’t remember who won (probably the girls) but I do know it was fun.  And this past weekend Amy and Michael got married!  So fun…and more on that in my August post!  ;)

The second weekend of July we went to Camp Timberline outside of Estes Park with my parents to visit my brother.  He worked there for half of the summer, so it was really fun to get to go and see what it was like.  I wrote all about our visit here.

We went to Greeley that evening and for the next four days as well.  It was the longest we’d been in Greeley since before we got married and moved to Colorado Springs, and it was the first time we were around during the summer, which was such a treat since my mom was off of work.  We ate outside (a lot), went for walks, and enjoyed being together.  I also got to see my friend Jan, and Danny and I had dessert with our friends David and Kaci.  Being in Greeley was definitely one of my favorite parts of the month.

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My mom and I spent our days doing lots of fun things together while Danny worked.  One day we went to Loveland and walked around the sculpture park, ate at Panera, and went to the camper store.  Another day we went to Fort Collins and went for a walk on the Spring Creek Trail, ate at the Rainbow Cafe (lots of great vegan options!!), walked around Old Town, and checked out the beautiful flower garden at CSU…

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Once we got back home to Colorado Springs, Danny’s grandparents were in town!  I had never met them, and Danny hadn’t seen them since his high school graduation, so we really enjoyed being able to spend time with them.  We had dinner with them a couple of times at his parents’  house and had fun playing games together as well.  On our last night together, we got a great picture together outside of our favorite Chinese place…

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Also during the third weekend in July, we had our friends Mark & Allison and Andrew & Lisa over for dinner and swimming.  We are really loving the new pool area this year, and even though it hasn’t been a hot summer, we’ve gotten some good use out of it.

One Monday I went hiking with my friend Kara in Castle Rock, and afterwards we had breakfast downtown.  Which was even more delicious than it looks, believe it or not…!

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Of course, I also worked my normal schedule, and then some.  Danny worked plenty, too.  I got my first smart phone, as seen here.  I read a lot, we went swimming as much as we could (it was chilly this July!), and planned our trip to London and Paris (one more week!).

And I think that about covers it.

Happy September, friends, and thanks, July, for being great!