Summer Fun in the Fort: the rodeo

As summer approaches its end and fall weather moves in, I thought I’d recap some of the things we did and didn’t do this summer.  Rather then shove it all into one post, I’ll do it as a series of posts.  Part one is about the rodeo.

Being a new resident of Colorado one thing I really wanted to do this summer was go to a rodeo.  I figured between the Greeley Stampede, Cheyenne Frontier Days and the Larimer County Fair, there was a pretty good chance we’d get to the rodeo.

Our first attempt was the Greeley Stampede, obviously because it took place first.  I left work early, the kids stayed home from camp, but we didn’t make it to Greeley until after the rodeo had started.  We were also starving so had to eat, and since it was a Friday afternoon the place was empty, which meant the kids were able to go on a ton of rides.  So we never made it into the rodeo.  In hindsight, we still could have gone, not realizing it would go on for a few hours.  We did go into the art museum (so fun with 2 rambunctious boys), the boys bounced in bounce houses, we took a stroll through the booths to see what people were selling.  And the boys rode a ton of rides.

When Cheyenne Frontier Days rolled around, this time I was determined to get to the rodeo.  We headed up there on the last Saturday of the event so it was a lot more crowded than Greeley.  The overflow lot on I-25 was closed, and the two lots near the fair grounds were also full.  We did manage to find a spot over by the mini golf place and it was free which is always a good thing.  Fortunately it was only a short walk to the fair grounds.  We purchased tickets in the general admission area, since the kids were free and it was the cheapest seats.  We watched the events for about an hour, then headed out to ride some rides and get a snack.  We returned to the arena for the last half hour or so of the event.  It was an eventful day to be at the rodeo – a horse rolled over a rider, a bull broke its leg and a rider got stomped by a bull.  My favorite part of the day was definitely the wild horses race at the end – hilarious.

We did also get to the Larimer County Fair, but did not see any of the rodeo events.  My husband was more interested in the Gnarly Barley Brew Fest, and the kids of course were all about the rides.  We did get to see the Splash Dogs a few times and caught the tail end of the pig races.  We just missed the kids rodeo and left before the regular rodeo events began.

I think the way we visited each of these events worked out well.  I don’t know that we’ll go back to Greeley next year, but I look forward to visiting CFD again as well as the County Fair.

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Posted in Outdoors, Rodeo | Leave a comment

Review: Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner

I hate cleaning the bathroom. It’s the chore I put off to last, and the day my husband agreed he would clean the bathrooms was the day I loved him the most. I dust, do all of the laundry and vacuum (that is, when the Roomba isn’t doing it), so it’s only fair that he take on the bathrooms.  When I do get bathroom duty, the toilets are my least favorite part.  So when Family Review Network offered the chance to review the new Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner, I immediately knew this was the product for us.  And then when later that same day, my husband asked me if I’d seen the new Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner, I knew we were married for a reason.

From Scrubbing Bubbles®:

The Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner provides a 360-degree clean, three times a day (no flushing required) by automatically spraying a powerful cleaner inside the toilet bowl, tackling unsightly toilet rings, lime scale and hard watermarks. Simply clip onto the toilet rim, add a new cleaning solution refill approximately every 30 days and the Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner does the dirty work for you.

Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner is currently available at Amazon.com and Drugstore.com.

When the product arrived, my husband installed it, and then monitored it over the following week.  So instead of writing the review myself, I interviewed him.

What interested you in the Scrubbing Bubbles toilet cleaner?
The fact that it would clean the toilet bowl for me, and extend the time between cleanings.

Was it easy to install?
Yes.  I read the direction just in case but it was self-explanatory on how to install the cleaner.

How long has it been in the toilet?  Has it lived up to your expectations?
About a week and a half. So far, yes.  I put it in the most commonly used toilet to test it well and it has done a good job so far, but we’d have to use it longer to see if it works long-term.

Are there any negatives to the cleaner?
Only expense, to replace the fluid monthly will get expensive.  Swishing the bowl is the easiest part of cleaning a toilet and I don’t know that the cleaner is worth the expense.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I wish I could adjust the number of times the cleaner runs each day, to make the cleaner last longer, especially in the less frequently used bathrooms.  I’d love to get one for our guest room’s bathroom, which is rarely used, but would only want it to run once a day.

Family Review Network and Scrubbing Bubbles® are providing one Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner to one lucky winner.  Leave a comment and tell me what your least favorite thing to clean is.  The winner will be announced on September 5.

This post was written for Family Review Network & Scrubbing Bubbles who provided the complimentary product for review and giveaway in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in giveaways, Product reviews | 6 Comments

Energizer SmartCharger

As parents of 2 boys, we go through batteries like crazy in this house.  Fortunately as the boys have grown bigger their toys have gotten smaller, reducing the size of the batteries, so we’re not blowing through C and D like we did when we had to power infant swings and bouncy seats.  So now our biggest battery-sucks are the Wii remotes and the Leapster.  So a while ago I saw a deal on Woot! for an Energizer charger that came with a 4-pack of AA batteries for $9.99.  Obviously I couldn’t pass that deal up.

Recently we bought another 4-pack of batteries as the old ones do seem to not be holding a charge as long as they used to.  Just today the 7 year old had to change out the Wii remote batteries.

So when Kailani at An Island Life posted an opportunity to receive a new Energizer Smart Charger, plus a $15 Target gift card, I knew I had to get in on this deal.

Check out the features on the Smart Charger:

  • Slow charge rate prevents damage to battery during charging and extends number of life cycles
  • Large LCD Screen displays charging progress via a countdown clock and fuel gauge
  • Charges 2 or 4 AA or AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries
  • ENERGY STAR-certified
  • Disposable and bad battery detector

Everything about this appeals to me.  The countdown clock and disposable and bad battery detector are things every charger should have.   And of course ENERGY STAR-certified is important in this day of green living.  Plus the design is pretty cool too.

Thanks to Kailani and Energizer for this great opportunity!

Posted in Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

Review: Herman T’s BBQ Sauce

In the 1950’s Herman T. Jones came up with what he believed was the perfect recipe for BBQ sauce.  30 years later his grandson recreated the recipe and mass-marketed it for production, and Herman T’s BBQ Sauce was born.

Can you guess which is spicy and which is mild? Mouse over for the answer.

Family Review Network offered me the chance to review Herman T’s BBQ Sauce.  The sauce comes in a packet and is mixed with ketchup and water and then cooked for 5 minutes.  The fact that it does not have to be refrigerated is a bonus, as it means one less bottle taking up space in the fridge, and since it is made as you need it you don’t have to worry about it spoiling.  It’s so easy even I could do it, although I didn’t either time we had it.  😉

We received 2 varieties, Original “Mild” and Spicy “Hot” and had it with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked on the grill.  The first time we had the sauce, we felt it wasn’t quite bold enough.  The Hot was slightly more spicy than the Original but it felt a little one-note, only heating up the tongue with no lingering heat on the lips or throat.  The second time we had the sauce, my husband (the cook in our house) used 1.5 times the amount of mix and we felt it was a big improvement.

To sum up my family’s thoughts on the sauce:

Me:  I really liked the sauce, especially the second time when more mix was used.  I thought the spiciness was strong without being overpowering.

Jon (the cook, and the picky discerning one):  He wasn’t really thrilled with the sauce, even after using more mix although he agreed it was an improvement.  He said he would continue to use the mix while we have it, but would not buy it.  I disagreed with this opinion.

Alex (the 7 year old):  He really liked the Original sauce but felt the Spicy was too hot for him.  I thought he would like it, as he generally does enjoy spicy food, so I was surprised he found it too hot.  But he gobbled up his chicken when it had the Original sauce.

Alex (the 3 year old):  He ate his chicken but wasn’t overly impressed by it.  He’s the ketchup lover in our house so I expected he would like this sauce more.  He finished what he was served but refused seconds.

Family Review Network and Herman T’s BBQ Sauce have provided me with 2 packets to give away to one lucky reader (US addresses only).

Just leave a comment below to be entered to win.  Giveaway ends at 12 noon mountain time on August 27.

This post was written for Family Review Network & Herman T’s BBQ Sauce who provided the complimentary product in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Food and Recipes, giveaways, Product reviews | 1 Comment

Upcoming Events

One of the things I wanted this blog to be when I first started it was a place for people to find things to do.  The Coloradoan always has things going on in the next 3 days, and there are various other places to go to find out what’s going on.  But what we need is a sort of one-stop-shopping.  The Discover Fort Collins magazine has a pretty good list of events and I try to grab a copy when I see it, but then I have to dig through all of the ads to even find the calendar.

So going forward I’m going to start listing things that are going on in the Fort Collins area.  This will only cover Fort Collins today but future posts will include Loveland and other surrounding areas where possible.

So I’ll start with what’s going on this weekend.

Friday, August 13 and Saturday, August 14

* 40th Annual Pack2School Event
Northside Aztlan Community Center
112 E. Willow Street
10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
At the Education and Life Training Center’s 40th Annual Pack2School event, students from low income families will have the opportunity to purchase backpacks filled with this year’s necessary school supplies for just $5 per child!

Friday, August 13

Perseid Meteor Showers
Soapstone Prairie Natural Area
7:45 pm to 11:00 pm

Saturday, August 14

* Meet the Animals:  Slide your hand over a snake, touch a turtle’s shell, listen to a cockroach lullaby! Join us for hands-on fun with the Museum’s live animal collection.
* Tracks, Scat & Fur:  Touch the tracks, match the scat, and feel the fur of Rocky Mountain animals. Play the Animal Poo game or make your own track field guide to take home
Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center
200 Mathews St.
11am to 2pm

* Drake Road Farmer’s Market
802 W. Drake Road
10am to 1pm
This week featuring peaches and sweet corn and music by Tony Rosario.

* Habitat for Humanity’s 12th annual “Pasta In The Rockies
Westminster Presbyterian Church
5:30 to 9 PM
Enjoy a fine meal of Pappardelle’s Pasta, Salad (from Grant Farm), gourmet desserts and live music. Free will offerings will be accepted.

Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinic
Lowe’s in Front Range Village
10 – 11am
Build a bug box

Sunday, August 15

* City Park Pool is closing for the season.  Sunday is the last day for the pool and the paddle boats!  Both are open from 10am to 3pm.

* Sunday night is the Pooch Plunge from 5:30 to 7pm.  Bring your four-footed furry friend for a swim at City Park to end the summer swim season.  The Pooch Plunge is also held Monday night.  Check out the City Park website for more information.

* Larimer County’s Downtown Farmer’s Market
Larimer County Courthouse Parking Lot
200 W. Oak Street, Old Town Fort Collins
8am to 12pm

* Rocky Mountain Old-Time Music Concert
Old Town Square Stage
5pm to 8pm
Come listen to local old-time music on the old town stage August 15th from 5-8 pm.  The concert, featuring musicians from several different local bands, is a fundraiser for the first annual Rocky Mountain Old-Time Music Festival in Fort Collins, CO (to take place on August 28, 2010). The festival will showcase traditional forms of fiddle and banjo-focused music with performances, workshops, and  dance.   Please contact Marke Foxworthy for additional information @ markewfox@yahoo.com

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Giveaway: CSN Stores

This week marks the one year anniversary of my family moving from New Jersey to Fort Collins.  I remember that crazy week like it was yesterday – arriving in the Fort on Sunday, closing on our house on Tuesday, moving in on Wednesday.  In those few days we also registered our oldest for school, bought school supplies and visited the Larimer County Fair over at The Ranch, which happens to start today, running through Tuesday, August 10.  We plan to head over there tomorrow for the Gnarly Barley Brew Festival and to see my manager’s dog in the Splash Dogs contest.

While living so far from our family and friends is hard, we’ve learned and grown so much in the past year.  We love living in Colorado – I still sometimes catch my breath when I get a particularly beautiful view of the mountains.  My husband loves the abundance of beer.  The boys love having so many friends nearby, and I love that they can go off and play and will be safe.  I’m still getting used to the fickleness of the weather but I definitely don’t miss the humidity.  I’ll take snow in May over that sticky, oppressive air where you can barely breathe.

So, all that is to say, in honor of my one year of living in the Centennial State, I am offering $40 to spend freely at any of the over 200+ CSN Stores.  Their stores include home decor, furniture, outdoor, health & fitness and many many more.

Terms and Conditions:

1.  Code expires after first use.
2.  Entire promotional amount must be used on first purchase.
3.  If the total cost of basket exceeds the amount of money from the promotional code, you are responsible for the difference
4.  Promotional code will be applied to all items in your basket
5.  Expires December 31, 2010
6.  The code does not cover international fees

To enter, leave a comment telling me what you would buy at CSN Stores.  Giveaway ends at noon (Mountain time) on August 20.

Posted in giveaways | 19 Comments

Recipe: Zucchini Bread

This year we joined a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – through Grant Family Farms, located in Wellington.  We did the single share, meant for 1 person, just to see how we liked it.  The single share is both good and bad, in that we get smaller quantities, so when there’s something we really like there’s not a lot of it, but if there’s something we don’t like or don’t know how to use, then there’s not a lot of that either.

Last week we got our first crop of summer squash and I knew I had to make my mom’s zucchini bread.  Of course I forgot to adjust for the altitude, and I used 1 cup of wheat flour with 2 cups of white flour, and I also forgot to reduce the time to bake since our oven tends to run hot.  But even with all of those mistakes the bread came out pretty good, if a bit dry.  This recipe makes 2 loaves so I froze the second one.

Zucchini Bread

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Salt
3  eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups zucchini; grated

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together.  Beat
eggs until foamy.  Add sugar, oil, vanilla and sifted dry ingreds, a little
at a time.  The mixture will be thick.  Add the zucchini.  The mixture
will be gummy. Pour into 2 well-greased 8.5 by 4.5 by 2.5 loaf pans, and
bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Posted in Farms, Food and Recipes | Leave a comment

Giveaway coming soon

Several months ago I won a really cool Lego set through one of the blogs I follow.  The company that sponsored the giveaway, CSN Stores, contacted me to see if I would like to work with them to offer a giveaway to my readers.  CSN Stores has been popping up around the blogosphere so you may have heard of this company that sells everything you  might want to buy – if you’re looking for a coffee maker, a bean bag chair, or a crib, it’s the place to go.

Keep an eye out for an upcoming giveaway to this great set of stores.

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Fairgrounds Park

I had friends from out of town who were staying in Estes Park for a few days for a family reunion.  I looked for a good meeting place for us to get together, preferably with a splash park for the kids to cool off.  I settled on Fairgrounds Park in Loveland and it ended up a good choice.

Fairgrounds Park was built on the old fair grounds, hence the name.  The park is bordered by Railroad Ave. to the west, the Big Thompson River to the south and 287/S. Cleveland Ave. to the east. There are 2 playgrounds, a covered picnic area that includes a sand area for preschoolers, a dog park, several ball fields, a skate park, basketball court, batting cages and walking/biking trails.  The river flows right through the park where people can float in a tube – a lazy river, literally.

We parked at the pavilion parking on Railroad Ave. so that’s the area I’ll cover in more detail in this post.  As you enter the park from the parking lot, you first encounter the spray park.  The spray park is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 10am to 7pm daily.  It does close on occasion for maintenance or inclement weather.  There are buckets that fill and dump, fountains that come up suddenly from the ground and pipes that spit water out at intervals.  This is a great spot for a hot day.

Continuing south into the park you enter the covered toddler area.  There are a few picnic tables, then the sand pit which is great for the little ones.  Whoever decided the toddler area should be covered is a genius.  Just outside the covered area is a frog slide, though the slide is in the hot sun and uncomfortable on a sunny day.  The bucket swings are also uncovered.  Continuing south you finally encounter the playground for bigger kids.  This playground has very unusual climbing structures that resembles a spider web, a large disc that spins, swings and other fun things to play on.

Just to the east the river flows through.  There are steps down to the river where you can wade and watch the people on tubes float by.  We were there on a day when the water was high and the current fast, so it is advised to stay within arm’s reach of small children and weak swimmers.  There’s a bridge that crosses the river and leads to the basketball court and skate park, with baseball fields to the east and south.

There are good and bad points to this playground area.  Obviously the covered toddler area is one of my favorite things in a playground ever.  The spray park is large with a lot of different fountains and other things to play in. Since the park parallels the train tracks, train lovers will be thrilled at the cargo trains passing through, and there’s a great view of the mountains in the distance.  There are plenty of benches for parents to relax while kids play.

However, I wasn’t thrilled with the actual playground.  There is one funky slide, that didn’t have actual sides to it so I was a little leery of letting my 3 year old go down.  The nets and discs are great for older kids but there’s an age range that doesn’t seem to be covered in the park area – kids too small for that structure but too big for the toddler area. I also didn’t like how far apart the spray park is from the regular playground, making it difficult for a single caregiver to keep an eye on kids who don’t want to stay in the same area.  This is one thing I really like about Spring Canyon, the spray park is adjacent to the playground and it’s easier to watch out for multiple kids.

I also hate to call the river a negative but the speed of the current made me nervous and I wasn’t the only one.  Perhaps on a day when the water isn’t moving quite so fast I would be less anxious about letting my kids wade, and I’m definitely not a helicopter parent.

I can see returning to this park on occasion but would most likely favor one of the Fort Collins parks over Fairgrounds.

Fairgrounds Park has several entrances, the one we used is at 700 S. Railroad Ave. in Loveland
Playground ground covering: Wood chips in the play areas, blue foam walkways
Playground water feature: Yes
Handicap accessible:  Not easily due to the ground coverings
Bathrooms:  Yes
Website: http://www.ci.loveland.co.us/parksrec/FairgroundsPark.htm

Posted in Loveland, Playgrounds, splash parks | 1 Comment

Fort Collins Foxes

As I mentioned in my previous post, on Sunday we went to City Park Pool in the afternoon.  While there, we decided to check out a Fort Collins Foxes baseball game.  The field, known as the Fox Den, is a short walk from the pool parking area and across the street from the City Park playground.

The Foxes are a member team of the Mountain Collegiate Baseball League, a wooden bat summer collegiate league.  They play local teams from Greeley, Cheyenne and Laramie, among others.  Each home game has some kind of promotion or giveaway and there are often local groups honored.  The game we attended had 2 Cub Scout packs and the Zach Foxes baseball team; the kids presented the flag for the national anthem and one of the Zach Foxes threw out the first pitch.  The Foxes also host birthday parties and other group events and offer a summer clinic for kids.

Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for kids ages 5-14 and adults 65 and over, and children 4 and under and those with active military IDs are free.  If you would rather sit in the outfield there’s plenty of grassy areas along the third base line, just bring camping chairs or a blanket and a glove to catch a foul ball. Most games start at 6:15, with a select few at 12 noon or 1pm.  The remaining games this season are all 6:15 games.

Each game is catered by one of three local business – Famous Dave’s, Culver’s or Jason’s Deli provide the food at each home game.  There’s also a concession stand, selling peanuts, Cracker Jacks and a small selection of candy and drinks.

We thoroughly enjoyed our evening with the Fort Collins Foxes.  If you want to take in a ball game but don’t want to pay MLB prices or drive all the way to Denver and want to let your kids run around chasing foul balls and playing catch, then the Foxes are the way to go.

Posted in Outdoors, Sports | 1 Comment