HI! Hi, hi, hi. How are you? I missed ya’ this week! :)

We’re finally settled and I’m (nearly) caught up after traveling to Colorado for some fun in the mountains, and to attend my brother’s wedding last week. Take me back!

As we’ve done in the past, Ben and Lincoln drove so we could have a car for the trip, then picked Cam and me up at the Denver airport because a direct, 1-1/2 hour flight with an 11 month old > 10 hour drive. Can I get an Amen? Unlike last time, Cameron did mostly fine on the plane – thank you LORD. (↓ Reunited and it feels so good!)

After meeting up in Denver we hit the road for Steamboat Springs, where we spent a few days in a VRBO condo before heading to Boulder for the wedding. Steamboat has been on our Colorado bucket list for quite some time and it was gooorgeous. If you’ve never been to Colorado in the fall, get it on your radar. While the trees are still mostly green in central Iowa, the mountains were all shades of yellow and orange. Ben and I would look at each other every so often while driving and wonder out loud, is this for real?! (iPhone photos don’t do it justice, of course!)

The condo we chose in Steamboat was in the heart of the ski village…which happened to close until ski season the day before we arrived. Blarg! That meant no gondola rides to the top of the mountain, no kid’s zone to bop around in, and 99% of the village shops and restaurants were closed.

That said, downtown Steamboat was 1-1/2 miles away from our condo and had plenty of shops and restaurants, and a bar and grill with some KILLER gluten-free nachos opened like 20 yards from our place near the end of our stay. Plus, of all the places we’ve been to in Colorado, I’d say Steamboat is the most outdoor-adventure-friendly place of them all. There were countless trails to explore and we were able to walk out our front door and into the mountains for a hike several times a day. It ended up being the perfect, low-key vacation.

A couple highlights include hiking Fish Creek Falls – a popular tourist attraction, understandably, because the falls and overlook were breathtaking. We took the overlook trail, joined the picnic trail to the base of the falls, and then hiked 20 minutes or so beyond them.

Man oh man do I wish we had mountains in the Midwest. There is nothing like burning lungs and buns from a killer hike. And that mountain-fresh air?! OoohWEE!

Downtown Steamboat was great too. We enjoyed meals at Winona’s, Steamboat Smokehouse, Mambo Italiano (all had GF options,) and cocktails at Sunpies – a dive-y, Cajun/Creole bistro on the Yampa River. Ben and I sipped riverside bevvies while picking out cloud shapes with the kids. It was such a memorable afternoon.

After three days in Steamboat, we bid farewell to the sleepy ski town and drove to Boulder for my brother’s wedding. You know I adore weddings and when it’s family, it’s that much better. Especially because we had so much extended family fly in for the weekend. Opportunities for reunions are few and far between, which makes us appreciate them even more.

My brother Ryan and his new wife Kelly were married in an apple orchard in the foothills of the rockies (swoon) and the weather for the ceremony was SO Colorado.

Five minutes before the ceremony was to start, it began to pour through the sunshine. After a brief delay, the procession started and no kidding, the moment Kelly started walking down the aisle a double rainbow appeared at her back. If that’s not a good sign, I don’t know what is!

The ceremony was so personal (my older brother officiated) and there literally wasn’t a dry eye in the house as they read their incredible vows to one another. I mean…it was raining but truly they were the most heartfelt and touching vows I’ve ever heard. I snorted while attempting to hold back my tears. Yep! Not my proudest moment. Isn’t Kelly the most beautiful bride, btw?

Although Colorado is our spirit state we were excited to be home and back to a routine after 7 days on the road. Gosh, what a trip – we will cherish those memories for a lifetime. Until next time, CO – whee!

As I mentioned, I’m still getting caught up from being gone so until we get back to regularly scheduled programming next week, I thought we could catch up a little more with a round of “Currently“. Can’t believe my last one was in July – where or where does the time go?!

Without further ado…

Time and place: 2:24pm at the kitchen counter (aka my office.) The little boys are asleep and I’m waiting for the lawn service to come and winterize our irrigation lines. So help me if they ring the doorbell…

Obsessing: Pinch of Yum’s Best Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies. I’ve featured these cookies on Instagram stories like…a lot, though I’ve never shared them here on the blog – so sorry! Now, pretend you’re my 4 year old for a moment. Hold my hands, look into my eyes, and concentrate on what I’m saying to you: MAKE THESE COOKIES. Now repeat back what I just said. MAKE. THESE. COOKIES. You got it! Guys, these are the best CCC’s Ben and I have ever tasted – make that the best cookies we’ve ever tasted – period! I use King Arthur Flour Measure for Measure GF Flour and cannot get enough…which is why we make them weekly. I promise you have all the ingredients on hand to make them tonight, too. Report back!

Ordering: Petaled Tie Back Jumpsuit. My sister-in-law wore this jumpsuit to the wedding last weekend and it was beyond adorable. There’s only a few sizes left, and it’s final sale, but I ordered one anyway because I’ll find a way to make it work even if it doesn’t fit out of the bag. So, so cute – and only $15 right now!

Loving: Coastal Interiors Instagram. Can you hire an Instagram account to come design your house? Asking for a friend… Seriously though – #housegoals.

Reading: Beautiful Oops. I bought this book for Lincoln at the recommendation of a friend. Like most kids, my little man tends to get a little stressed out when he makes a mistake – spills milk, drops a lego creation, etc – and this book has helped, I think! All about making an oops into something positive. The book is filled with fun dynamic flaps and pullouts too. Super cute.

Craving: Roasted Jalapeno Vegan Queso. Dairy-based quesos can be so hard to get super smooth without using heavy cream or processed cheese (hello Chipotle’s new queso – more like ques-NO!) This cashew-based queso looks silky and creamy though. Yum!

Sharing: Weekly Meal Plan. I’ve had consistent requests to post weekly meal plans over the years and realized Facebook would be a great platform to do it on. So, be sure to follow IGE on Facebook and every week I’ll share ideas and inspiration to help you fill up your weekly menu. Question: would it be most helpful to post the meal plan on Sunday morning or Monday morning?

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chicken Enchilada Skillet is a healthy, 1 skillet, gluten-free dinner recipe that my entire family (including my 4 year old!) described as "really, REALLY good!" | iowagirleats.com

Needing: I came. I saw. I left early. Is this available in like, a forehead tattoo? Story of my life.

Devouring: Nature Raised Farms Chicken Nuggets. I picked these up on a whim to make for Lincoln as an occasional lunch because they’re gluten-free, contain no artificial preservatives, and the ingredient list didn’t make me cry. Gahhh, they are so, so good and the breading tastes like Arby’s curly fries! (RIP.) Lincoln took a bite and said, “Mmm, tastes like chicken!” Imagine that. I buy these in HyVee’s Health Market freezer section.

Practicing: Peace. Part of the reason I’ve held back from posting this week is because of the tragedy that took place in Las Vegas last weekend. Blogging about tacos when so many lives were lost and affected didn’t feel right. It’s hard to know what to do in times like these though. What can we do to create change? How can we help the victims? Their families?

I heard something on the news a couple nights ago that really resonated with me. What we can do in times of tragedy and senseless violence is to practice forgiveness and understanding in our everyday lives and personal relationships. Be a role model for peace. Listen. Talk. Work things out. Teach your kids to do better. Find a way to make a difference in your world, no matter how small. And, as the great Ellen Degeneres says, “be kind to one another.” 

Have a great weekend, everyone.