Thanksgiving in Austin with Daniel's cousin Gerren, his wife Morgana, and Morgana's grandmother. Nice to have family/friends in town. =) We cooked a full menu - turkey with gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, cranberry-walnut rolls. Morgana brought a decadent sweet potato casserole and pies for dessert. I'll post a few recipes later. For now - here's some pics of our feast!

For my going-away party in Gainesville I had a high tea with some very dear girlfriends. It was a lot of work, but I had a lot of fun putting it all together. I made paper flowers for decorations from here out of tissue paper, and Daniel found me a cute anime tea sign from deviantart for the door. For the menu we had:

Curried Chicken Tea Sandwiches
Swiss Chard Tart with Herbed Olive Oil Crust
Black Tea Fig Bread
Radishes with Goat Cheese on Toast
Hot Milk Sponge Cake with Whipped Cream and Raspberries
Spinach Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Fresh Fruit

I also made fig jam (roughly based on this recipe) and lemon curd, and we had homemade strawberry jam from the batch we canned a few months ago. Daniel illustrated cute labels for each. For favors I made 8 little coin purses from this tutorial with my mom's old 1970's colorful metal zippers. I wish I took more pictures during the actual event, but I'm glad I had one last chance to spend time with my Gainesville friends. I miss you guys! 

From Boulder we drove to the Estes Park entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park and did a 6 mile hike of 5 different lakes: Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Lake Haiyaha, Emerald Lake, and Bear Lake.

After Breckenridge, we stayed a night in Boulder and revisited some of our favorite places there.

Favorite Restaurants:
Pasta Jay's - Great American-style Italian food: everything is covered in cheese and baked individually. The open air brick building and traditional red checkered tablecloths make it seem like something out of a Disney movie.
The Original Pancake House - an unassuming old fashioned place with amazing variety of pancakes including my favorite: sourdough!
Dushanbe Tea House - See pictures above. My favorite place in Boulder, with a gorgeous building, wonderful tea, and perfect gingerbread.

Last trip we also loved:
The Kitchen - We didn't get to go there this trip ($$$$), but this place epitomizes what I like about Colorado/Oregon cuisine: fresh, organic, original, flavorful without being overpowering.
Salt - great fancy salads and buffalo burgers

Breckenridge was very touristy, with a huge Main street of shops selling typical bear figurines, outdoorsy clothes, and clunky jewelry. There was a nice bike trail, though, so we rented bikes and rode a ways. All downhill going out meant all uphill coming back, though, and it was pretty tiring.

Lucha Colorado Cantina - fresh-style tacos & etc that rivaled those of Austin.
Breckenridge Brewery - great food & beer, but a whole little league team next to us made the experience a loud one. The vanilla porter was wonderful with pork chops covered with fig-raisin sauce.

After getting to Breckenridge, the next morning we hiked the 2.8 mile trail to Crystal lake. Since it used to be an old mine the road was pretty easy, but the views were spectacular: green mountains with wildflowers blooming all over.

The trail to the Dillon reservoir was beautiful, overlooking a huge lake and the town of Frisco. The actual reservoir was a little disappointing, but the short 2 mile trail was worth it anyways.

Our first hike was a 1.5 mile trail to St. Mary's Glacier, which is just a permanent snowpack, not an actual glacier. There were a lot of dogs - including our favorite Burmese Mountain dog and one cute golder retriever puppy who came up to me for a belly scratch. Some people brought snow gear & skis, but the trail was hard enough for us without them. Short, but very steep and rocky the whole way.

We stayed at the downtown Sheraton in Denver for the first few days. It was right next to the 16th street mall so we just walked everywhere.

Favorite restaurants:
Rioja - fancy, $$$$, but cool and inventive. I want to try to recreate their lemon marscapone polenta and lemon tart with the cornmeal-pinenut crust.
Osteria Marco - Great (and reasonable!) thin-crust pizza with house-made sausage and rapini, Brushetta with fresh ricotta, prosciutto, and tomato balsamic jam
HBurger - fancy hamburgers and fries and best veggie burger to date- squash, carrot, beans, and egg - and crispy zucchini fries
Crepes 'N Crepes - Best crepes I've ever had. Crispy on the outside, made with homemade flour, and served with a french accent and a huge mug of hot chocolate.
The House of Commons - English-style tea room with a great tea selection
Corner Bakery Cafe - the equivalent of Panera bread, but the berry swiss almond oatmeal was wonderful - milk, yogurt, oatmeal, apples, cranberries, raisins, banana, and topped with strawberries & blueberries.

Favorite shops:
Common Era - cute clothes for $30-$40 each
Savory Spice Shop - an overwhelming selection and very helpful staff