Monday, September 29, 2008

Worlds Collide

On my way to coffee on Saturday I found myself at a garage sale. It was an unplanned stop and I didn't have cash to buy a couple trinkets I liked, but not to worry: In true Wyoming form one of the coordinators nicely gave me her number and told me to call later if I was still interested.

I was.

When I went back to pick up the stuff the lady asked me, what area code is 202? Is that D.C.?

Perplexed about how she knew that I answered yes, then...asked her how she knew that.

Turns out she used to live in D.C. - about 30 years ago when she was in her mid-20s. She worked for a House member, lived on Capitol Hill by the Marine Barracks, and loved it, she said.

She wasn't from Wyoming, but landed here when a friend from law school invited her out to work on a Senate campaign. Her guy lost, but she decided to stay - just for a little while until she could get things figured out. And here she was, 30 years later.

We had such a great chat!

Then she asked me how I was settling into Cheyenne. I was truthful. I told her it's been a little bit of an adjustment, but overall I think it's been good.

That's when she told me nicely but bluntly how she loves living here now, but hated it when she first moved. I think she was maybe overstating her sentiments in an attempt to be sympathetic, but still - I'm guessing that's not approved text by the Welcome Wagon, and that's not exactly how I would describe my feelings about life in Cheyenne thus far.

I mean, sure, I really miss having a swanky place to get dressed up to go out to on a Saturday night, but I don't think that's cause for me to hate it.

If anything, I've been feeling more settled in lately. And that makes me feel like things aren't all that bad.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Planty's New Digs - And Other Green News

Today I put Planty back in his old pot - the one he called home in D.C., for many a year.

I had to transfer Planty to a smaller, flimsy, plastic pot after the awful culling I had to give him earlier this year. With his smaller size and my "gypsying" ways the enormous, super-heavy old pot just wasn't an option.

After convalescing in the plastic pot for a while now, Planty has gathered his strength and some of his size back... It was time to move him home.

Before you know it he'll be completely his old self again - attacking people who come through my front door in the same way he prevented people from going in my kitchen at old 304!

In other plant news:

I bought a pretty pink plant the other day that I also potted this morning. I have no idea yet where to put it, but I think it will be a nice addition to the ol' homestead. The goal is to slowly rebuild my personal botanic gardens after I lost pretty much all my plants - except Planty (thank the Lord) and one other - during the move back.

And finally: the fall bouquet Jonna brought me as part of a housewarming gift last weekend when she and Linds came over for dinner. Aren't they nice!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Discover Cheyenne

I have a new place I like: Phoenix Books and Music, a used book/music store in downtown Cheyenne.

I wandered in there yesterday on my day off. I finished running errands and was looking for a way to spend the rest of my day. I figured I'd check out someplace new, and it was a good idea.

I wouldn't say the place is oozing ambiance, but I was pretty impressed by its selection of used books. Lots of good, recent ones I've been wanting to read, a nice selection of classics and history books, and a big children's book section - which I always love to browse.

I purchased three books for $16 and walked happily to my car.

I'm very pleased with my new find.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Fave

I took this last weekend while on a bike ride.

I wasn't aware there were enough cabs and limos about town to warrant a sign...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Book Review

When my parents were here my mom found this book at City News - my favorite coffee shop and little bookstore in downtown Cheyenne. She picked it up for one of my nephews who has a birthday coming up.

It is SO cute. So, so, so cute! The story, the illustrations...cute. I want to own it for myself, but I think mom got the last copy. It's nowhere to be found!

It makes the blog because it's all about going West.

A highly recommended read...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Avoiding the Inevitable?

Last week a local news report warned residents that car theft in the area is up.


We all know what that means...I'm somewhere on the hit list.

But I'm trying to avoid this inevitable fate.

The police chief said it was primarily due to people leaving their keys in their car. This I do not do. Yes, I know I did this once in D.C. - and it was the only time my car should have been stolen but wasn't.

Here people leave their keys in the ignition - with the car running. Particularly in the winter when you don't want to warm/defrost your car again after a five minute trip into the post office. I guess thieves are just now catching on that if ever there was a time to get the job done, this might be it.

Car theft/damage hit close to home a few weeks ago when my coworker's girlfriend's car was broken in to. Her purse, iPod, credit cards, phone, everything was gone. They left the car, however.

Being a victim of stolen purses, and stolen cars, and sometimes the two together...I could sympathize.

The cop told my coworker that car theft and burglary was on the rise, and there had been a rash of incidents recently around town.

I know I am an absolute magnet for theft, but I am determined to turn my fate around. They will not get me! Not this time! Not in this town...!

Do you hear

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Makin' It Real

I just came in from putting my Wyoming license plates on my car. I've had them for a long while now, but just haven't gotten around to getting it done.

In the last seven months Gwennie, my car, has worn "Taxation Without Representation" D.C., plates, "Greenie" Colorado plates, and is now sporting some shiny county 2s.

So, it's official!

Or at least nearly.

On Friday I went to get my new Wyoming driver's license as well. THAT will be weird. But I won't have to worry about it for roughly three to four weeks, which is how long it will take for me to get it in the mail!

I forgot this about Wyoming. I assumed I'd walk out with a stunning new I.D. in hand, like you do in D.C., but nope. Instead I have a paper version and my old D.C., license to tide me over 'til the real thing arrives.

I do get to keep my D.C., license, which is nice. Since I'll very likely never live there again it'll be neat to have proof that I did.

If only the picture weren't so terrible and my weight was correct...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

On a (Dinner) Roll

I am on a roll with entertaining these past couple weeks.

I hosted my first dinner party a few weeks ago with Lori and Shaq, and tonight I had my second.

Linds and Jonna drove over from Laramie to hang out and eat some grub. Jonna hadn't seen my apartment since I moved in - and Linds hadn't seen it since the addition of my living room rug - so it was fun to show them how the place has changed.

We had a roast chicken, sweet potatoes "fries," and a new recipe: asparagus with balsamic brown butter sauce that was an absolute disaster.

The directions call for adding a balsamic mixture to a pan of browned butter, the process of which completely exploded all over my stove and walls - sort of in the manner of a fireworks show. There were little explosions and splatters at first that rose to a grand finale of sprays and bursts before I could move the pan from the stove.

On top of that the recipe sucked. I will not be making that again.

However, I made another new recipe for dessert: Glazed Lemon Buttermilk Cake that we topped with mixed berries.

And that totally made up for the asparagus...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Fave

My nephews with their gifts from my trip to Yellowstone:

You're supposed to eat OFF the plate, Judd, not actually eat it:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Matt Lauer Lovin' Once Again

In general, I don't watch a lot of t.v.

It's not necessarily because I have some philosophical aversion to it, but mostly because I have other things I do with my time. And really, most times I'd rather listen to music than flip on the tube.

I know this totally puts me out of the loop on such water cooler topics as who slept with who on The Hills, and what contestant was voted off America's Got Talent, but I do have some favorite shows, for sure, and even some shows I've made a point not to miss.

One of those is the Today Show. I absolutely L.O.V.E. the Today Show.

My senior year of college Jonna and I decided not to spring for cable. And cable-free I went for years - even in D.C. - until about two years ago when I decided enough was enough with the rabbit ears and the fuzzy NBC, one of my favorite channels.

What a perk to see Matt Lauer clearly every morning - even though it's his voice I'm most accustomed to since I'm usually getting ready for work at that time and I obviously only have the show on for

When I lived with Carrie the t.v. was rarely on in the mornings - except for Tyler watching Plum T.V., the fun Vail channel. I didn't even care. And I can honestly say there was about a three month window where I barely knew what was going on outside my Vail bubble. A weird position for a former press secretary to find herself, but I was in a different state of mind then. I had a job to find. A life to figure out. I didn't have time to pay attention to Mr. Lauer and his...major headlines.

Now, with my own apartment once again, I have wireless internet through the local cable company, but I decided to revert back to the rabbit ears for a while. Only until I can either get my five months of unemployment figured out, or I have to make the major switch to digital cable, whichever comes first.

So, I'm back to a fuzzy Matt Lauer in the mornings. But the important thing is he's back. This means I've got me a steady morning routine. It means I'm getting back in the game.

Good morning Matt!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On"

One of the perks of a Cheyenne job is a more casual dress code, which means I can wear jeans to work and still look professional.

Today, I am wearing a pair of jeans I love from a big-name retailer:


That's right.

We do have shopping options in Cheyenne, being blessed with a Dillard's that carries several nice labels, and many other stores. But when I learned I would be working Frontier Days, spending hours in dirt and dung, I decided to find something other than my nice brand jeans to get the job done.

So, with 10 days of rodeo before me and five months of unemployment behind, I took myself to Wal-Mart to see what I could find.

I was very pleasantly surprised! Wal-Mart's No Boundaries brand beat Corral West in fit and, not surprisingly price. I picked up two pairs for less than half of what I could get for one at the cowboy store.

I thought I was choosing something expendable, something that was cheap and would get me through 10 dirty days of rodeo. Instead, my Wal-Mart brand jeans are keepers! Who knew? Certainly not me, who hasn't purchased Wal-Mart clothing in several years. Not so much because I'm a clothing snob, but more because in D.C., Wal-Marts are darn hard to find.

Now, when I'm choosing which pair of jeans to wear to work, I know that along with my city slicker Gap's and Joe's, my cute and comfy NoBo's will be more than fine.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Not the Only One

I just got off the phone with my friend Erin, who is a very close friend from D.C., and who recently moved back to California with her now husband.

She is in D.C., for the first time since leaving. She called to tell me she was staying in the hotel above the bar/restaurant Urbana, which is where I dragged a bunch of people when it was new and where I had the first part of my 30th birthday party. Super cool place.

Anyway, we talked about what it was like to be back for the first time after leaving. Turns out, I'm not alone in the way I felt when I went back for the first time.

Erin talked about the knot of anxiety and the overwhelming feelings of nostalgia she had as she crossed the bridge into town. She wondered if life in D.C., which she also loved and was such an integral part in shaping who we are, would become distant-feeling like her time in Argentina, a country she fell in love with and that also shaped who she was when living there for a year.

She said she told her mom it was weird to be there and not be living there. Yep.

And she talked about how her life is in California now, but D.C. will always have a place in her heart. Yep again.

I was afraid the feelings I had when I went back, as real as I thought they were, were just me being overly dramatic. Many would say that was probably it, but I know now that it wasn't. I'm not the only one D.C., meant a lot to and am not alone when it comes to missing that city like crazy.

Even though I really am happy to be back in my Western home.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Go Pokes!

Yesterday I went to my first Wyoming Cowboys game in about seven years. I was so excited!

I've been a good Wyoming alum while on the East Coast, attending watching parties, wearing my brown and gold, talking smack to folks from Colorado...etc.

But actually being at the stadium far surpassed any games watched at Crystal City Sports Pub.

Being there, I noticed how many things were the same - and how many things had changed! Like Tailgate Park. What?! And the giant screens on both ends of the field. When did that happen??

The student section isn't one bit different though, or the old War Memorial Stadium sign, or the view of the mountains from the stadium...all the same.

Oh, and we won! Beat North Dakota. Go WYO!

At Tailgate Park before the game with my friend Annie:
The UW Marching Band at Tailgate Park:

Annie and I with Wyoming's First Lady:

My friend Brandon and I in the Brown and Gold tent. If I look a little scared of Brandon it's because I am:

Good ol' War Memorial:

Jumbo what?

Part of the half-time show:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Like Goldilocks, Only Not

My parents left this morning after staying with me for a few days.

It was fun. They got to see the town, my office, the apartment, etc. The first day we mostly ran errands, but yesterday was a bit more eventful.

First off was a talk downtown by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia, which was really, really interesting. Not only was what he had to say entertaining, but he's just a funny guy. Of all the things I did in D.C., visiting the Supreme Court was not one of them. I guess looking back, I always sort of wanted to, but it just seemed like kind of a hassle. So, se la vie.

After the talk we busted over to Laramie so my dad could have a lunch meeting. My mom and I ate at the Overland, which I always forget about, and I always love!

When we got back to Cheyenne we checked out the Greek Festival which was insanely popular, but not exactly the scene we were looking for, so we took ourselves to the Little Bear Inn instead. I've been wanting to check this place out for a while now, and we were all glad we did!

According to the Website, the Little Bear, "In its heyday, it was a stop for weary travelers, a saloon and casino and a haven of sorts for outlaws." It's been going strong since the 1870s.

We enjoyed great steaks, good wine, and even a little singing entertainment by a local couple. It turned out to be just the place we were looking for - with kitschy things like this:

Weird and funny all at once...

Not exactly the cuddly teddy on their signs, but who can pass up a bear hug? I think I also may be this bear's cub, given the similar hair colors. This picture counts as my Friday Fave...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Night Vision

There are a couple things I've observed about nights in Cheyenne...

1. How 10-11 p.m. seems to be THE time for trains to roll through town. I live really nowhere near the tracks, but you can hear them whistle and blow as loud and clear as if I lived at the Depot.

2. It always, always smells like firecrackers around here. If you didn't know better where the smell is coming from - and I don't - you would think people were setting off fireworks in their backyards every night. My guess is it's the oil refinery. But I think fireworks is a more pleasant image, so I'll just keep thinking that...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Entertainment Tonight

Though it was really last night that I had my first real dinner party at the new apartment.

Lori and her fiance are in town this week and I invited them over for a nice home cooked meal.

I have certainly cooked in my spacious new kitchen, but it's only been for myself. Last night I put the kitchen to the test with actual guests and multiple courses. It passed.

We spent the majority of the night hanging out around the kitchen table talking and drinking wine while I prepared the food. It was just as a kitchen should be. Old apt. 304, as much as I loved it, could barely accommodate two people in the kitchen and during parties would sometimes look like a clown car emptying out. And as dear to my heart as the breakfast nook was, it was really only good for one person eating alone, or a nice selection of beverages during get togethers.

Lori, who spent quite a bit of time at my old place, and who also lives on the East Coast, appropriately appreciated the space.

Today, however, I woke to a kitchen absolutely filled with dirty dishes that I will have to wash by hand. Not having a dishwasher wasn't a deal breaker on taking the apartment or anything, but at times like this it sure would be nice to have that little upgrade!

The menu from my first dinner party:

Anti-pasta - olives, cippolini onions, roasted garlic, crackers, cheese, rosemary bread with olive oil for dipping

Main course - walnut and blue cheese salad, chicken thighs with tomatoes, olives and capers (one of the easiest and tastiest entertaining recipes out there)

Dessert - Linds H.'s mom's Swedish Cream. Always amazing! So good, in fact, that Lori took the recipe home to make for her parents tomorrow night.

Swedish Cream

Heat 2 cups of heavy whipping cream over low heat. Add 1 pkg. unflavored Knox gelatin, stirring constantly with a whisk until dissolved.

Chill 10 minutes.

Add 3/4 c. sugar and 1 tsp. of vanilla extract. Heat again.

Chill 30 minutes. Add 2 cups light sour cream. Blend until smooth.

Serve chilled topped with a mix of berries. (I usually just defrost a bag of frozen mixed berries.)


Friday, September 5, 2008

Parking Paradise

Today we had our monthly payday bowling outing for work. On the way to the alley, I stopped by my apartment to scarf down a salad so I wasn't tempted to eat bowling alley food.

As I headed back to my car I noticed my parking job and actually said to myself, "Wow! I parked really close to that car!"

In reality I was about a foot or more behind it, which is more than generous in my opinion. But it struck me then how my perception on acceptable distances between bumpers had changed.

I am the Queen of Parallel Parking - and not self proclaimed either. It has often been noted how I will/can fit a car into any spot. And I'll do it without damaging any vehicles. In D.C., you just have to be willing to do a little bumping if necessary, and know you will be bumped just as often. That's because the number of cars needing parked FAR outweigh the number of parking spots. Consequently, drivers squeeze themselves in as tightly as a can of packed sardines.

In Wyoming, I have all the parking space in the world! Actual inches, sometimes feet, between cars! I could park a semi in some of the spaces I've seen.

So, when I saw how (relatively) close I had parked my car to someone else's I was surprised. I still park close from time to time, but I usually correct myself when I do. I gave a guilty look around to see if the owner of the other vehicle was watching to see who the rude parker was...

And while I'm on the subject of parking...I'd like to note how nine times out of 10 there is parking directly in front of my apartment any day, any time. I have never, ever, ever had to drive around my neighborhood in circles for 15, 20, 30, 50 minutes looking for parking. Ever.

Now, I may miss a lot of things about D.C., but this is about on the bottom of that list.

It's like a parking paradise!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

'Tis the season

It is so fall here right now, and I love it!

Fall comes quickly to this part of the county, and unfortunately it leaves just as fast. A nice long fall is definitely one thing I will miss about the East.

But the short season won't hold me back. Unlike most animals that start to slow down during this time, my planning starts to ramp up.

This is my time for pumpkin picking outings and pumpkin carving parties...picking Halloween costumes and Halloween parties. I want hayrides, and corn mazes, hiking in the fall colors, and early morning runs where you can just see your breath. Fall makes me want to read bios and history books and classics. I also want to have more dinner parties than ever in the fall with rich, red wines and spiked cider around my new fireplace. This year I'm looking forward to Wyoming Cowboys football games, which I haven't been to in seven years.

And even though I hate being truly cold - like winter cold - I like planning cold weather events in the fall. Like snowshoeing trips, game nights with wine, and renting a cabin with friends. This year I want to try cross-country skiing, and I've got a trip in the works to go back to Arrowhead and Bear Lodges to hang out with Candice and do some snowmobiling.

But that's a different season...

Right now, in fall, I'm roasting a head of garlic and last night I made a loaf of banana bread. I like to cook in all seasons, but fall just drives me into the kitchen to slice root vegetables with one hand while sipping an awesome cab from the other.

Ahhh, fall.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I have a bunch of pictures from Yellowstone and the rest of the trip, but can't seem to find my connection right now to download those.  Yes, this is extremely annoying!

So, the Wyoming wrap-up is very text heavy, and consequently kind of long-winded.  

Hopefully it's still somewhat enjoyable.   

Monday, September 1, 2008

Wyoming Trip Wrap-Up

I'm back in Cheyenne after a long week of work and vacation. I made a huge loop through the state and saw lots of friends along the way - I absolutely loved my trip.

After I stopped working for the Senator I had no real reason to travel outside Laramie (where my girlfriends are) or Gillette (where my parents were), and after my parents moved to Colorado I really didn't get around the state at all. I could barely contain my excitement as I set out last week.

Because I was so busy I didn't have a ton of time to post, so let's do a little recap of the week...

Last Saturday I went through Casper on my way through Cody and stayed with my friends Jeff and Linda. It was so fun to see them and Paul and Carrie! We went to brunch at The Cottage, my favorite restaurant in Casper, then I stopped by my old apartment building before heading out of town.

I pulled into Cody on Sunday afternoon and spent most of the week helping out with a work event. After the event ended Wednesday night, I became a tourist in Cody, rediscovering how much I really like that town.

While I was there I hit about every coffee shop in town, sampled most major restaurants (including the Proud Cut, the Rib and Chop, Adriano's, the sushi place - which has a great eel roll and a FANTASTIC cab, and La Comida), had breakfast at several places including Granny's, the Irma Hotel, and a couple of coffee shops, and even attended a Rotary Club luncheon and an open reception for the Art Show at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.

Let's talk about the Art Show for a sec. It was absolutely amazing! First of all it was open to the public and free - including heavy hors 'd oeuvres, drinks and a band. And the art work! So much of it was incredible and I wished desperately that I had an extra $30k lying around to bid on something. I was completely impressed with artists like Carrie Ballantyne, Michael Coleman, Julie Jeppsen, Kyle Sims, Gordon McConnell and Robert Pummill.

I went into Yellowstone National Park on Friday, which I had only ever driven through once. I really wanted to see Old Faithful, which I had never done, and had my fingers crossed for some exciting wildlife like a wolf or a bear. Instead I saw about a zillion buffalo, which was still cool.

I eventually met up again with my friend Sam. We had drinks at The Irma then made our way out to Cassie's on the edge of town for what we thought would be a night of country dancing, but turned into karaoke, since there wasn't a band.

Funny story about this bar: several years ago I nearly got in a bar-room brawl with some biker chick...I was singing my signature song at the time, Nancy Sinatra's These Boots Are Made for Walkin', when she came up and told me I was singing her song. I said sorry, shoulda signed up for it before me. She proceeded to try to sing with me and man...I wasn't happy.

On Saturday I made my way through the Big Horns, which might easily be one of my favorite areas in the state, to my friend Candice's. Her in-laws own Arrowhead and Bear Lodge's, two tucked in the woods places that I want to go back to this winter. After a trip to the Medicine Wheel, we had a delicious dinner at the Bear, then went home to settle in for the night.

The next morning, I kept heading east towards Sheridan where I met up with my old friend Jesus and his family for lunch. I love the Sheridan downtown. It's just full of cute boutiques, fun old bars and neat restaurants. However, it being Sunday not much was open. So, I got back on the road for home.

I took a swing through Buffalo, another town I love, and Story, which looks just like something from the pages of a story book.

I finally pulled into Cheyenne around 7 p.m. Sunday night, eight days after beginning my little tour of the state.

It feels like I was gone forever! How time flies when you're having fun!