walking rino: street art with theo

I’ve got two little wildlings, Otis and Theo. We spend a lot of quality time together as a group, but it’s incredibly rare that I get to have one-on-one time with either one of them. So the other day, upon realizing that Otis had class and Theo’s school was closed, I decided to take Theo on a special adventure-- just the two of us. I toyed with the idea of journeying up to the mountains for a hike near Kenosha Pass, but then decided it would be fun to stay in the city and put on our explorer caps since we have plans to see fall foliage for the next three weekends…

Of course I had to seize the moment and catch up on some overdue appointments too, so before we took off on our local adventure, I took Theo to the doctor for a wellness check-up. In hindsight that might not have been the best way to start off our special day, for it was temporarily marred by the 4-year-old vaccination schedule. But eventually he stopped crying, and the experience led us to have an interesting conversation about viruses. It also helped us choose our word of the day: “antibodies.”

As a reward for displaying courage and good behavior (all things considered), I treated Theo to a chocolate croissant. He was amazed by its construction and started yelling, “There’s a real live chocolate bar right in the very middle of my treat? It’s real live!! Isn’t that amazing, mommy?” Oh that Theo. He’s got “a million sweet tooths” and is truly a little boy after my own heart. Not wanting to leave the coffee shop without something savory, I grabbed two spinach empandas before we set out in the direction of the RiNo Arts District…

Now I’ve blogged about the ever-changing RiNo before. It’s a neighborhood that houses some of Denver’s best restaurants, bars and coffee shops. It’s also the epicenter of the city’s best street art, and there’s lots of it. The new murals are spectacularly detailed and there brand new pieces thanks to #COCrush15 which took place last weekend. Some of my RiNo favorites include works from artists Mariano Padillo, Jaime Molina, Mike Martinez, Hollis & Lana, David Shillinglaw, Scott Albrecht, Hyland Mather, Mike Graves, Blaine Fontana, Robin Munro, Sandra Fettingis, Jake Mertens, Lolo YS, Jeremy Burns and Max Kauffman*…just to name a few.  

(*As I was about to enter Max’s art house I noticed that Theo was starting to get sleepy, so I’ll be back to check it out next week.)

I’ve always been a big fan of street art, but it wasn’t until my friend Risa and I had a conversation about its larger importance that I fully began to understand how beneficial and inspirational it is. You see, I’ve always appreciated street murals from a beautification angle; they provide design, color, and art to a wall that would normally be vacant or plastered with tacky advertisements.

But street art also holds a second (more important) purpose. Namely, it makes art accessible to everyone: to parents with work schedules that are incompatible with museum hours; to children who don’t have easy access to art or transportation; to neighborhoods that are often underserved when it comes to public investments. In short, street art can inspire a creative force in almost anyone, regardless of income.

It also makes for a really great one-on-one adventure….




For more info, check out this column and this column by Lindsey Bartlett.

Overheard Theoisms:
“Those guys have coffee bean heads. That’s silly, so very silly.”
“…and then these octopuses were fighting bad guys- the Storm Troopers- before they were beamed back up to space. Yes, that’s what it’s about…”
“Hey, why is that man walking a fish with a dog’s leash? That’s hilarious.”
“Mommy, do you think we can keep a pet giraffe in our garage?”
“I’m going to show them my sword of justice. Then they will know I’m a superhero.”
“These leaves look pretty, but they’re not real. At least they don’t look real to me.”
“Torchic (Pokemon doll) told me this was the best tour ever. Hey, Torchic sounds like tour.”
“Is this where the natural gas comes from? I want to see it.”
“That silly monkey is playing games with me. He’s a funny guy.”
"Please can I go in here? (Closed Populist garden) I promise not to trespass."

denver's union station (+ the kitchen next door's beet burger)

Have you ever walked into a space and thought, "I'd like to take every single thing home with me? Those lamps would look perfect here, and that chandelier- despite its size- would look perfect there…" That's how I felt the first time I walked into the new Union Station in downtown Denver. The renovation is spectacular; the design is impeccable. Each piece fits the space and contributes to the historic feel of the station. It's gorgeous: the couches, the lamps, the desk lighting. And don't get me started on the crown molding and the restaurant decor…it's something you should see in person.

Our schedules have changed a lot since the summer ended. Otis and Theodore are now in pre-school till 3:30 every day and I've transitioned from stay-at-home mother to working "3/4 time." Though it's been busy on the work front, last Friday afternoon I took some time to peek around Union Station…this is what I found.
If you want more information on the history and amazing transformation of Union Station click here. For more details on the restaurants and shops click here. I wasn't able to photograph everything because some restaurants were already closed for the day (Snooze is open from 6:30 am- 2:30 pm) or had not yet opened (Merchantile Dining + Provisions officially opens on September 8th and I've been hearing great things), so check it out for yourself!
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After my little self-guided tour, I grabbed a quick lunch at The Kitchen Next Door. I ordered a delicious beet burger, which was topped with balsamic glazed onions, arugula and feta cheese. Lucky for me, and now for you, I have the recipe. Thank you Kitchen Next Door for sharing your culinary creations and for your great work through community outreach and education! Enjoy.  

Beet burger photo courtesy of Davis Tilly Photography
Next Door Beet Burger
Courtesy of The Kitchen co-founder and chef Hugo Matheson
(Printed with permission)
Makes 5 6-ounce patties
1 ¼ cup mirepoix (diced carrots, onion, and celery)
1/8 cup olive oil
1 pound roasted beets, quartered
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 egg
¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
pinch cayenne
pinch smoked paprika

Preheat a pan over medium heat and add olive oil, then the diced carrots, onions, and celery. Sweat until soft and all excess liquid has evaporated.

Place roasted beets and cooked chickpeas in the food processor with the cooked mirepoix and mix, pulse until a rough paste forms. Empty mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg and Panko bread crumbs, and stir together. Add seasonings. Form into patties on a parchment-lined sheet tray and chill. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350°. Cook for 15 minutes until hot in the center but not too dry on the edges. The Kitchen Next Door serves the burgers on potato buns with balsamic onions, feta, and Arugula tossed in lemon olive oil.