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Archive for the ‘Events and Festivals’ Category

This year, we have a little one in our family who has a burgeoning obsession with Santa Claus. So when I heard he was making a visit to Pearl Street to help Switch on the Holidays, I knew we had to be there.

The weather this year is anything but frightful, so we gathered with hoards of other families in front of the courthouse in the early evening on Sunday. Around 5pm, the Boulder Chorale came onstage and sang a few carols. Then at last, Santa appeared atop the courthouse, gave a wave and, in a flash, was down on the stage in front of us (with Mrs. Claus at his side).

And with a “ho, ho, ho,” the strings of Christmas lights draped across Pearl Street, winding up trees and bedazzling the courthouse came alive. Claire shrieked with excitement!

Boulder Chorale, Switch on the Holidays in downtown Boulder

Switch on the Holidays, downtown Boulder 2012

Santa makes an appearance!

Switch on the Holidays, downtown Boulder 2012

The big man himself.

Switch on the Holidays, downtown Boulder 2012

Ta-da!

Switch on the Holidays, downtown Boulder 2012

Switch on the Holidays, downtown Boulder 2012

Winter wonder.

We wanted to stay for the free ice skating show at One Boulder Plaza, but our rumbling tummies called us away to dinner. We’ll be back next year to catch the first annual glimpse of Santa Claus, the lighting of downtown Boulder and all the festivities. Maybe with a thermos of hot cider in hand next time!

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You know how I love me a bargain, and the GoLite warehouse sales are aisles, racks and boxes overflowing with bargains. Last time I went, the deals were incredible. I’m hoping for a repeat performance on April 23-25.

GoLite Warehouse Sale April 2010Reminder: For the best deals, you need to get there first thing on opening day, Friday, April 23. See ya there!

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Boulder Farmers' Market, Boulder, CO

Oh glorious spring! You’re finally here!

Saturday was the first day of the Boulder Farmers’ Market, a sure signal that spring has arrived and summer is just around the bend.

There were just a few people there to check it out.

Boulder Farmers' Market, Boulder, CO

Aside from a wee bit of wind, it was a lovely, sunny spring day. Vendors had lots of young seedlings, lettuce and other early crops for sale.

Boulder Farmers' Market, Boulder, CO

Abbondanza farms had a particularly large bounty, including a precious selection of eggs in unusual colors — aqua, powder blue, amber, brown and apricot. (Unusual, that is, to those of us who didn’t grow up around hens.)

They were steeply priced at $7 a dozen, but I’ve been searching for a small, local source for eggs (If you’ve read anything about the poultry industry, you know that “cage-free, vegetarian fed” doesn’t mean a whole lot when you’re talking about grocery store eggs), so I sprung for a half dozen to try them out. What the heck; it was the day before Easter!

Boulder Farmers' Market

Photo by Eric Gray.

Boulder Farmers' Market

Photo by Eric Gray.

The next day, I couldn’t resist snapping a few pics of the prized eggs before we fried them up for breakfast.

Boulder Farmers' Market eggs, Boulder, COBoulder Farmers' Market eggs, Boulder, COThey were delicious and had bright orange yolks, just as promised by the Abbondanza fellow at the market.

I’m so looking forward to a long season of discovering more treasures at the farmers’ market!

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Cello by stevendepolo on Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by stevendepolo, Flickr Creative Commons

Sadly, it has been many moons since Eric and I were good, supportive friends and made it to a Boulder Chamber Orchestra to hear our dear friend and cellist Rebecca Holley play. But we finally made it to a performance on Friday night at the First Congressional Church of Boulder.

The evening’s theme was Sounds of the Countryside, and although the pieces seemed obscure (at least to a classical music ignoramus such as myself), they were the most approachable and enjoyable I’ve heard the BCO play.

The first was made up of selections from Ten Armenian Songs and Dances by an Armenian composer named Komitas Vardapet. Upon introducing the pieces, Bahman Saless, the musical director and conductor, noted that the songs were intended to include some folk drumming, but as they couldn’t find anyone, they’d have to do without. A fellow in the audience stood and said “Excuse me, but I’m actually a drummer. I could stand in if you wish.” In faux surprise, Bahaman agreed that, why yes, that would be wonderful. The audience had a good chuckle and the drummer joined the orchestra on stage with his hand-held drum.

For the second piece, a clarinet concerto by Gerald Finzi, the featured soloist of the evening, clarinetist Jerome Fleg, made his appearance and impressed the audience with the sweet, floating sounds of his instrument. I was transported to a scene from a Disney movie, with little bluebirds and butterflies flitting around.

The final selection was An English Suite by Hubert Parry, a delightful, head-bopping composition that really did capture the essence of the English countryside.

With each piece, Bahman gave his take on why the music is historically significant and called out a few unique features to listen for during the performance. For example, he explained why he so admires Parry’s talent for symphonic composition and his ability to extend the melody through several bars before bringing it “back home.”

As I was looking around the crowd, which consisted largely of elderly folk and families of the musicians, I got to thinking that more people really should know about this experience. It’s not as stodgy and boring as you might think. Bhaman makes a concerted effort to bring some fun and learning into the equation — and he suceeds. And at the very least, you’ll find yourself in the sanctuary of a small church or theater, turning off your iPhone or Blackberry and getting carried away by the music — even if it is to drift off with your own thoughts.

Their next performance is The Lyricists, featuring violinist Lindsay Deutsch on April 2–3.

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I am not much of a film buff — I haven’t even seen Avatar yet! — but this year, I have vowed to catch at least one of the films in the Boulder International Film Festival.

I spent a little time tonight reviewing the 2010 program, and the lineup is exciting! Here are a few notables, at least one of which I will be attending:

1. Tibet in Song

Photo by David Huang.

It’s amazing what true artists will go through in the name of their work. While documenting Tibetan folk singing traditions, this documentary’s filmmaker was imprisoned and tortured by the Chinese for seven years. Only a little more than half of the footage made it out of China. The resulting film reveals a reportedly very insightful look inside Tibetan culture, and I’m very curious to see it. Thursday, Feb. 11, 4:30pm, The Church.

2. The Opening Night Gala and The Lightkeepers

The opening reception will include appetizers, chocolate and drinks; a screening of the film The Lightkeepers and a Q&A with one of the film’s stars — Blythe Danner — afterward. Yes, people, Gwenyth Paltrow’s mama is going to be right here in Boulder, answering your questions! Thursday, Feb. 11, 6:30pm, Boulder Theater.

3. I Am Love

I had a dream about Tilda Swinton the other night. In it, she was weird and eyebrow-less. Much like she is in real life. But maybe the dream was a sign I should go see this movie, an Italian film about an old-money family trying to adapt in the new world. In the publicity photos, it appears she has eyebrows, which is a good sign. Friday, Feb. 12, 7:30pm, Boulder Theater.

4. Rock Prophesies

Photo by Maryanne Bilham.

I am just a sucker for anything with Slash in it. And photography. And the “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll” theme. This film, about rock photographer Robert M. Knight and his adventures in the chaotic world of rock ‘n roll, is calling my name. Added bonus: I may be able to get my musician husband to join me for this one. Saturday, Feb. 13, 9:30pm, Boulder Theater.

5. Closing Night Award and Tribute to Alec Baldwin

You read that right. Alec Baldwin. In person. At the Boulder Theater. In between filming my favorite TV comedy, 30 Rock, and prepping to co-host the 2010 Oscars with Steve Martin in March, Mr. Baldwin is making a stop in little ol’ Boulder, Colorado, to accept the BIFF Award of Excellence. This is happening on Valentine’s Day, so the evening will also include “roses for the ladies; a romantic reception featuring music by Ralph Sharon, Tony Bennett’s piano player; cheesecake and coffee.” Bien sûr. Sunday, Feb. 14, 7pm, Boulder Theater.

There are tons of other films and appearances that look amazing. These are just a few that captured my attention right off the bat.

Which ones are at the top of your list?

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When someone invites you to a party with the words “Naked Ladies” in the subject line and the venue is the home of someone named Cher, you automatically RSVP “yes,” right?

I got such an e-mail from my friend Josie recently. Five seconds into the e-mail, I realized that, while it wouldn’t be as gossip-worthy as I’d thought, this so-called Naked Ladies party was a very cool, very eco- and budget-friendly idea. The concept is this: All the invitees clean out their closets and come to the party to swap unwanted, gently worn clothes with like-minded ladies who are all eager to do a little shopping — without spending a dime.

Here’s how it went down:

Josie, I and our lovely friend Lisa, threw a few bags of our old clothes into Josie’s car and carpooled to Cher’s apartment. We walked up to the adorable little Mapleton Hill house and dodged the wheel of a mountain bike, which was blocking a good third of the doorway, to get inside (can’t get more Boulder than that; love it).

Inside, clothes covered every available surface. The method to this madness was promptly explained to us: Tops and accessories were spread out in the living room, while bottoms were in a room off the kitchen. The kitchen itself was full of the delicious food that everyone had brought — freshly baked gluten-free bread, a simmering pot of squash soup, spinach-and-cheese fritters — and plenty of wine.

I began adding my clothes to the piles when a pale, leggy figure enter my peripheral vision — dressed only in her skivvies. “May as well make this as efficient as possible,” she said, trying on a hip little floral dress that ended up being a crowd favorite.

Once we all had a chance to peruse and try things on — with widely varying levels of modesty — each person drew a number from a hat. Number one (which just happened to be our lucky pal Josie) got first pick from the most-coveted items. She chose an adorable gray cardigan that had silver threads woven into it — one of the items that had everyone asking, “Why would anyone get rid of that?”

I managed to patiently endure the wait through numbers 2-16 and then quickly nabbed my (miraculously still-unclaimed) favorite item, this cute and comfy cotton fleece zip jacket:

Boulder Naked Ladies party

After everyone’s number had been called, it was free-for-all time. We all started grabbing what we wanted out of the remaining items, being courteous if other ladies were eying the same thing. I got a swimsuit that I’d almost purchased this summer (can you say “meant to be”?), a super-soft basic white long-sleeve Gap tee, a beautiful merino wool scarf (with the tag still on!) and a sweet, pointelle-knit cami.

Once the shopping frenzy died down, we basically drank wine, nibbled food and admired each others’ treasures.

Maybe the most rewarding part of the evening? Anything that wasn’t claimed was bagged up to be donated. And it turned out to be a enormous pile of really nice clothes. Hooray!

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When Eric and I heard Happy (which is the new, shortened name of Happy Noodle House) was having a prix fixe dinner and cocktail “social” on New Year’s Eve, it was a foregone conclusion that we’d be celebrating there. And having recently read something about how noodles are an integral part of traditional Japanese New Year celebrations, it seemed appropriate, too.

Oh, who am I kidding? I just wanted an excuse to get dressed up (having read the part of the invitation that said “formal attire” with glee) and really pig out at Happy.

A lot of other people did, too, it seems. That morning, I noted on Twitter that the event was sold out. Oh goody! I love a big crowd!

We arrived for dinner a tad late, but luckily a table was waiting for us at our favorite spot in the bar against the wall. On top of that, we found out that our favorite server, Chris, was assigned to our table! Let the cocktails flow and the fun begin.

We started off with an amuse bouche — mine was a taste of their intoxicatingly good carrot-coconut soup (seriously, I could live on this stuff) — and the Crazy 88, which is a refreshing, cucumber-kissed sparkling wine cocktail. The drinks and amuse went down the hatch so quickly that I missed getting a picture of them.

In our first course, the famed crispy greens from their regular menu made an appearance, this time joined by satisfying hunks of seasoned tofu and surprisingly tasty cauliflower bits. Accompanying was a Kiss the Sky — a zesty gin drink with ginger and lavender liqueur.

First Course, New Year's Eve, Happy, Boulder, CO

First Course

New Year's Eve, Happy, Boulder, CO

Kiss the Sky

My second course was a crunchy, fried egg roll served with a creamy sauce. Can’t remember what all was inside the egg roll, but I do remember I snarfed it. The drink was the El Presidente (being swilled by me, below), which was described as a rum version of the Manhattan.

New Year's Eve, Happy, Boulder, CO

Second Course - I couldn't hold back, so it's partly eaten here. Sorry.

New Year's Eve, Happy, Boulder, CO

El Presidente (the drink, not me)

The main courses were enormous (way too much considering what we’d already eaten). What I could manage to fit of the broth-y noodle bowl with mushrooms and garlic was soothingly delicious.

New Year's Eve, Happy, Boulder, CO

Main Course

The prix fix dessert was a tapioca and fruit tarte. Chris and I bonded as fellow tapioca haters, while Eric tried to convince us that “if we could just get past the texture….” Uh-huh. Instead I had a special off-menu concoction from the kitchen — consisting of miso, caramel and chocolate — that also got devoured before I could snap a picture.

All this, and THEN the official party cocktails started to arrive: a glass of champagne, a punch, the French Mojito and Death in the Afternoon (an absinthe drink that was a favorite of Hemingway’s and has an interesting back story that I wasn’t capable of absorbing at the time — ask Mark and he’ll tell you).

New Year's Eve, Happy, Boulder, CO

French Mojito

After toasting the new year with neighboring parties, polishing off a few more cocktails and taking a dozen pictures on variations of this theme:

New Year's Eve, Happy, Boulder, CO

we decided it was time to bid the wonderful Bitter Bar and Happy folks good night.

We stumbled over to the cab stand on Pearl Street and realized we wouldn’t get home until about 5am if we waited in the ridiculously long line.

I suggested we see if additional cabs were pulling up at the downtown hotels. We walked to the nearest one (let’s just call it the Mt. Mulien Motel & Mpa), and asked if they could call us a taxi. My inebriated husband may have given the slight impression that we had been guests at the hotel’s restaurant (you know, Mill’s), and before I knew it, we were being whisked home in a toasty warm shuttle van. For free. (Plus a whopping, guilt-assuaging tip.)

If the increasingly blurry photos above didn’t scare you off and you’re interested in attending a bash at Happy, I noticed they have a Valentine’s Day event coming up. My words of advice: 1) Ask for Chris. 2) Pace yourself.

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