Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hammond's

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There's nothing more fun than a free factory tour. 
We've been meaning to visit Hammond's for a while now,
so when we found ourselves with nothing planned last Monday,
we decided to head up there to visit. 
Hammond's Candy Factory
Hammond's has been around for a while, I think most Denver natives are aware of it, but this was the first time for all of us.
Hammond's
My first impression of the Hammond's Candy Factory was a good one. It's got nostalgia, it's got charm.
Paper Hats
It's got free paper hats.
Mommy & Violet
And on Monday, it had our family of four to visit. Joy!
{Note to self: next time you go on a factory tour, avoid being stuck somewhere come naptime...}
Violet & Daddy
My advice for those of you thinking of visiting would be this: plan ahead. When we read on their website that tours are given every 20 minutes, we went assuming we wouldn't have to wait long...
Keeping Viv Happy
As it turns out, this place is busier than you'd think. We did have to wait. Long.
Luckily there was some 75 cent taffy to buy to bribe keep the girls happy with.
Eisley's Taffy
When the tour finally started, we were all shuffled into a room and shown a 5-minute video. Violet most certainly ruined the video for our tour group... but I don't feel that bad, because the video is basically a 5-minute commercial. Also, it's pretty dated. {Hammond's, I love you, but you need to update your video.}
Watching Candymaking
Finally we were shuffled onto "Candy Cane Lane." Basically a long hallway with several windows where you can watch candy making commencing.
There are TVs that give a more up-close view of what's going on, as well as a tour guide narrating what's taking place and giving information on the Hammond's history {the typical factory tour stuff.}
Making Chocolate at Hammond's
Here's what I really think of the Hammond's Factory tour: it's twenty minutes, 5 minutes of which is a lame video, and honestly nothing you haven't seen before on an episode of Unwrapped. While we enjoyed it, it's not something I'd pay money for. So I'm glad it was free!

And honestly, seeing as Violet totally lost it during the last 5 minutes of the "tour," I was actually pretty relieved it was short. So this is probably a good outing for those of you with little ones. 
Justin & His Girls @ Hammond's
Honestly? For me the best part of it was their candy shop. You are free to walk through the shop before and after the tour. You can also just visit the shop anytime, and skip the tour altogether.
Hammond's Chocolate Bars
Oh yeah! I bought two of these chocolate bars... I forgot to try them...
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I have always known about Hammond's hard candy treats, I wasn't aware they did chocolates, too.
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Yes, let's do get a closer look at these sweets, shall we? Yum...
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Oh, and their packaging alone is just darling! Well done on that note, Hammonds! Well done...

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A certain Easter Bunny might just have picked up a few of these candy ribbons for two pies baskets...
Hammond's Tour Info


So there you have it.
It's a fun enough tour, for being free. 
We've also enjoyed the Celestial Seasonings tour, but that was before having kids. 
We'll have to do it again soon.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This was meant to be...

First Family Bike Ride

Monday night we went on what we hope to be the first of many family bike rides. 

I grew up in a family that spent a lot of time together, and family bike rides is something I remember fondly. We even live pretty close to the Highline Canal, the same path my family used frequently, as it was literally at the end of our block.

Last spring, when I had a fresh new baby to smell and a toddler who was just getting into self-propelled travel, we took a trip to the local bicycle store to check out the family-friendly setups. 

To our dismay, a ladies bike {I wanted a cruiser} was at least $200.
A men's bike was more like $350+.
And the cheapest bike trailers we found were about $250.

We left the store pretty bummed out, to say the least. 
Those figures were just not in our budget, 
nor would they be anytime soon.

But alas, one of the benefits of my Pyrex addiction 
{which began last May}
 is that I frequently shop thrift stores now. 

And by frequently, I mean 3-4 days a week on average.
Heheh...

I'm happy to report that instead of the $800-$1000 we had anticipated having to spend to get our family equipped with bikes...

Justin gave me this bike for my birthday last year. I love it, what, with it's white-wall tires and all! 
Only $80.

Then, in the fall, we came across a nice vintage men's bike at Goodwill.
Only $24.99.

Finally, yesterday morning we thrifted the bike trailer, 
which we were shocked to find in brand-new condition.
We happily paid $50. 

Barely over $150 total, and our family of four is finally ready to go. 
Can't beat that.
:)

And if you're not yet convinced that this was "meant to be" for our little family, would you believe that last week a hitch mounted bike rack showed up in the corner of our yard. We have no idea where it came from, but after several days of no one picking it up, we claimed it as ours. 
Free.

_____________________________________


In fact, this morning we got up,
got ready,
loaded up our trailer & bikes,
drove 5 minutes to our church and parked our car,
and started out on the Highline Canal. 

We rode to Bible Park where we picnicked, and the girls played, 
and then we rode our bicycles back to our car.
We did somewhere between 5-6 miles,
and had fun spending family time together. 


__________________________________

Now all we need are helmets...
I want these for the girls
And this one for me. 
I think this guy would look rocking on Justin.

But then again, maybe I'll just thrift some.
_____________________________________

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Blessing of Friends

This post might make me look like a loser, but...



About a year and a half ago, I was a bitter woman. I was lonely, really. People think being a housewife is all fun and games {heck, I used to, before I was one} but really it's a lot of un-noticed work combined with loneliness. 

Don't get me wrong, I still love it and all the benefits that come with it, but don't kid yourself: it's harder than it looks

Anyway, back in 2010, I was a bitter girl. I was bitter at the {working}friends I had because I felt invisible to them. I was depressed, I was in a funk. I didn't tell anyone {except my husband and my sister} how lonely I was. 

I had friends, you see, good friends. But they worked, and I didn't. What I needed was mom friends who also stay at home or work at home, friends I could relate to. 

Like-minded friends. 

One day, in fall of 2010, I remember watching through my window as a woman pushed a stroller past my house. I was struck and shocked at my urge to run out the door, introduce myself, and ask if she was as lonely as I am and would like to schedule a playdate. 

I didn't.

She probably 1) was just a nanny, knowing my neighborhood and 2) would have thought I was a total freak running out of my front door shouting "ARE YOU LONELY!?! Because I AM!!!"

But what I did do in that moment was send up a prayer. I was desperate, I was sorrowful, I was lonely, I was tearful, it was the only thing I could do. 

I believe in the type of prayer that is to-the-point and no-nonsense. That's the Lutheran in me. We're not the types to strum a guitar and moan and praise God by repeating the same phrase, something like, "God, just, just, just be with me...lead me..." over and over...

not my thing.

So I prayed, without the "Dear God" or the "Amen," even.

I simply said, "God, send me friends."

I forgot about that prayer until about two weeks later, when my pastor's wife emailed me. She said that another young mom at church had approached her about loneliness and so she was starting a Bible study for young women. It was the answer to my prayers for a while. I immediately benefited from the weekly meetings {which were 80% chatting, 20% Bible study} and my spirits rose, my depression faded.

{During this phase, I even had working friends ask me things like, "Are we okay?" inquiring about our dwindling relationships--since I had stopped responding to the "I need a haircut!" texts after not hearing from these people for months, suddenly they "needed" me... My response, while I wanted to be emotional and say, "NO! It's not okay that the only time you ever think to call me is when you NEED something from me! I'm a person, I exist, and I deserve more!" instead the logical Heather--which is not the mythical creature you might think she is--said, "Yes. I'm just lonely, as a housewife, and I need some stay-at-home-mom friends who can relate to my sort of issues..."}

Then my pastor and his wife up and moved to England and I thought, "Well, that was nice while it lasted..." but since then,

I seem to have accumulated friendships.

In fact, it just hit me, this lazy Sunday afternoon, that I have a busy week ahead of me. Not to mention the busy last couple weeks. Every single day, Monday through Friday, it seems I have scheduled something with a different friend. 

I have recently made several like-minded Lutheran friends, friends who stay at home with their kids, friends who share the same political and moral beliefs as I do, friends who homeschool their children as I want to, friends about to embark on the stay-at-home-mom adventure and are asking me for pregnancy advice, friends who have two daughters around the same age as mine, etc...

I was even recently invited along for a retreat in September to the most gorgeous looking village in Texas, and I will get to meet some of the Lutheran bloggers I've so admired over the last several months.

God has answered my prayers.

What I had once taken so for granted, was given back to me once again--only now I had a new-founded appreciation for just how lovely it is to have like-minded, loving friends.

This post is humbling in that it's sort of embarrassing to admit you once "needed" friends...

It might seem like a silly thing to be in awe of, but I am. I was a very lonely girl a couple years ago. Today, I'm not so lonely. Thanks to the friends, the text messages, the emails... even if they're about seemingly mundane things like Pyrex or crafting or pregnancy questions. I'm feeling very blessed, and I know my short, 4-word prayer in 2010 was heard and answered. 

I have a busy week ahead of me... thank God.
____________________________________________

Don't ever hesistate to present your request to God, 
no matter how mundane your request might seem...

I don't just love God, I love His character. 

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Step Back In Time--Pyrex, Piggies, & Pork Barbacoa

When Justin's co-worker informed him of a new retro exhibit at the Lakewood Heritage Center, we knew we had to go: me being a Pyrex collector & all.
Cocktails & Casseroles: Entertaining in the 20th Century runs into September. So if you can find a time to go, you should! It's free {donations accepted}, and although a small exhibit, it's an interesting one.
I'm lucky to have a man & two little girls who love me for put up with my Pyrex/vintage addiction. They were happy to come along, and it made for a great free outing.
For someone like me, this exhibit was a dream. They even had collectible Avon bottles on display. Like the kind I sell in my Etsy shop.
I was hoping to see some Pyrex on display. There was a little, can you spot it?
Two pink Gooseberry bowls sat in the 1950s kitchen. Luckily, I own both of these bowls, so the jealousy was kept to a minimum.
Sometimes Pyrex was sold with these vintage mixers...
The 1960s exhibit {makes me depressed I had to postpone my Mad Men party...}
More Pyrex! These bowls came with this Hamilton Beach mixer. And, yes, I own them both as well.
My Grandpa Erickson grew up in Lakewood, and so this was a neat step back in time which felt familiar and hit close to home. I have looked through his Lakewood High year books, and I swear I've seen him in a photo just like the one on this wall, below:
I think it's such a great thing to be able to look back at history, reminds me that my T-mobile smartphone isn't so bad, compared to this switch board:
Ghost Eisley runs past the 1920s Model T. Our 2004 Volvo waiting in the parking lot, with a/c and a DVD player to keep us company on the way home. Just keeping things in perspective!
I especially enjoyed this little display, regarding the Belmar estate. I had no idea Belmar was named for an actual family of Lakewood...
And then there was the gift shop... this is honestly one of my favorite gift shops in Denver. If you need a good retro/fun gift any time soon, check this shop out.
If you should happen to need a retro gift idea for a certain birthday girl in June...{hint, hint} she might just enjoy this pink vintage-style Crosley princess phone... ahem, ahem...
But seriously, this was my sort of gift shop... complete with crocheted cupcakes to boot.
Yes, sir, if you're in the Lakewood area any time soon, you should definitely stop by for a look at their cute retro exhibit. It seems Lakewood was once the well-to-do suburb of Denver...
I never realized they had more to look at outside, it's very similar to the Littleton History Museum {which is also free & awesome.}
Sigh... I won't tell you what Viv found in the grass to snack on... but I will tell you, at this point I could probably write a book titled, "Things Violet Has Put In Her Mouth."
Apparently, historic old buildings from Lakewood's history, like Ethel's Salon, have been moved here, to the Heritage Center, instead of just being allowed to be torn down for updates. I respect that. How cool.
Not sure what this little diner was, but it's cute, isn't it? They even have a summer concert & festival schedule. I think we're going to have to keep a closer eye on the happenings here in Lakewood. It'd probably do my grandpa proud.
An old school house.
I wanted to move in to this one...
Sweet little farm house.
And plenty of farm equipment to marvel at. What on earth do you think this machine did???
It was a great place to take the girls, and we'll definitely be back to visit. I love resources like this, considering that we're probably going to home school. I think learning at places like this is priceless for children.
And then...

since I was in retro-mood Justin treated me to a few thrift store stops. I didn't find anything exciting. But we did head to Cafe Rio before heading home.
We love Cafe Rio. Where kids eat free quesadillas.
Their portions are huge! But so fresh & tasty. Sadly, for once, Viv was not in the mood for food. I think it was a little overwhelming. First the Lakewood Heritage Center, and now this!?
If you haven't been to Cafe Rio, I highly recommend their pork barbacoa salad. Oh. My. Stars. It's delicious. And so fresh, see:

Lakewood Heritage Center: visit it!!
Cafe Rio: pork barbacoa salad!!

The end. 
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