Fighting The Right Battle(s)

2013 September 18
by Grace Boyle

As you might have heard, Colorado, specifically the Front Range has had some horrible flooding; a “biblical” flood. Last week I was on a work trip in Cleveland and I watched nervously from afar as we were headed back to fly in Thursday (where it came to a head). Our place is right on the creek, at the mouth of the Canyon and against the mountains – essentially ground zero for Boulder’s flooding area.


I refreshed Twitter madly on the airplane WiFi and felt helpless strapped into my seat, hearing about the water rising and the amount of rain we had already received (unheard of, we’re usually hoping for rain in dry fire-ridden Colorado). It’s a 0.1% probability of such a rainstorm occurring in any given year in Boulder County. This is the biggest air rescue since Katrina. It’s for real.

Boulder 100 Year Flood

I drove in alone from the airport, watching the wall of black against the mountains as I headed in to Boulder from the Denver airport. I only hydroplaned a few times and stopped at a friends place who was safe from flooding. I finally arranged for a neighbor to come and get me in a truck. It wasn’t possible for me to drive into our place, as the roads were already becoming rivers.

They had been manning our street, setting up barriers, diverting the flood water coming from all areas toward our complex. It looked like a third-world country when you got to our street and the water kept rising. A river of water was madly rushing where our driveway was, headed straight for the creek and through our side yard a steady stream hadn’t stopped flowing for a day.

We were on the second floor, so we were housing neighbors on the first floor. Half of which already began flooding.

Long story short – it was a scary 48 hours. We were up all night Thursday, unable to sleep and finally trekked to the third floor due to evacuation notices (we weren’t going to leave on foot as they suggested). We are lucky and much better off than many others. Our place is personally dry and we were able to finally leave Saturday as our road opened up.

I’ve been evacuated before amidst a national disaster (fire and flood warning in the past here in Boulder) and written about it here where you have to gather up the few things that are important and depart with a hopeful heart. As I put it: Where happiness exists and knowing that things are just things; so I’ve been there. I have found that the best and worst come out in people in disasters such as these. It’s inspiring to see people coming together, sharing, helping and doing whatever it takes for your neighbors and loved ones. People also lose their shit, but I understand why. It’s shattering and uneasy.

It reminds you that in the scheme of things, a lot of things don’t really matter. For instance, it drives me mad that James insists on wheeling in his bicycle into our small apartment. He leaves it right in the main entry way and in the kitchen. It takes up space, it is covered in mud from being ridden to and from work and aesthetically, I’m not into it. We don’t have a garage or basement, otherwise, bike inside is no big deal. We just don’t have a ton of space.

We have a private porch with bike racks and bike racks around our complex. I keep mine on our porch locked up. All of a sudden, he doesn’t want to do that and his lock doesn’t work that way. It’s a newer bike so he keeps it inside.

It’s stupid really. And compromising is important. We’ve finally agreed, if you insist on having it inside, that he can wheel it into the guest room so it’s out of the way and not an eye sore.

You know these little things that just bug you. You know they aren’t a big deal but it just gets under my skin. It’s a little thing. After all this, going through this together and the fear and rising water and being stuck in our place for three days, it just doesn’t matter. It’s worth letting these things go. After all, hundreds of people have lost their entire homes, lives have been lost, and some people are still stuck out there.

It’s about a paradigm shift and just realigning your priorities to what really matters. The bicycle? Really small detail in the big picture. Time to wake up.

Be Yourself Together With Target

2013 September 2
by Grace Boyle

As there are only a few more years left to my 20’s, I’m right in the thick of wedding season especially in the Summer. I like to think that I’m particularly good at gifting and although couples often are on registries, I love picking something that really resembles who I think the couple are and that it might mean a bit more coming from me.

As part of Target’s “Be Yourself, Together” program I’ve chosen one gift and as a launchpad, picked another gift that pairs perfectly, in our own unique way.

The first gift I chose is a Panasonic Lumix camera. I’m a food blogger and I love taking photos. I’m always capturing moments and love being behind the camera. I’m often the one friends go to, for photos of the event or gathering we had and when it comes to food, My Man is my wing man whenever we’re reviewing a restaurant or covering some new dish we’re whipping up in the kitchen.


The second gift I’ve chosen to pair with this, relates to My Man: I chose a three-piece chef’s knife set from KitchenAid. As mentioned, I’m always behind the camera and really, the best cook in this relationship is him. We’re always whipping up new dishes at home, so it’s a perfect way to collaborate together. I particularly love the chef knife that comes with the set. Makes sense, right?


This is a fun way to blend two unique gifts, that maybe you wouldn’t pick out together, but in our day-to-day life it’s perfect for us as so much of our time is spent in the kitchen.

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by Target, but all opinions and content are my own, as always. You can follow other posts at Target Wedding.

They don’t make ’em like they used to

2013 August 28
by Grace Boyle

Please excuse me while I rant a moment.


We’ve gone through our share of dog walkers, doggy day care, etc. We care a lot about our pup, Cerna, and as energetic as he is, exercising and tiring him out is really the best thing for everyone. We also believe in a high quality of life for him.

We have a great doggy day care we love, but it’s a lot of moola and we have to drive him there and pick him up, which when you have morning or evening plans sometimes it’s not as plausible. A few dog walkers have moved or gotten “real jobs” after college, so it has some turnover.

We always like to go off a referral and even one dog walker (a so-called “professional”) we found, proceeded to tell us how she doesn’t like pitbulls (he’s a lab/pit mix) and would never work with us in an accusatory tone, before James ended up calmly saying we didn’t want to support her then anyway and hanging up (Yelp review incoming). Just put that on your website and we would have been fine. Totally get the entitled to your opinions but don’t berate our well-behaved dog that couldn’t hurt a fly.

Recently, a friend mentioned they knew someone vaguely that might be interested and he was still in college. He followed up and seemed nice enough. He came by, met Cerna and we chatted price. He wasn’t free Tuesdays and Thursdays, so James and I agreed to take those days to bike home and let Cerna out. We came to an agreement and he came the first week.

Then on Monday, at 5 PM, I get a text that he forgot to tell me he had a meeting that day and never came to let him out. Great. I leave work early and let Cerna out as he had been home all day. Frustrating, but not worth ending things over. In general, just irresponsible. This isn’t just a meeting, but another animal we’re talking about.

Then I wake up this morning, and see that at 2 AM I get a text from him. I am incredulous. Word for word below, it’s “not worth my time” and “otherwise I am done.” Thanks for the warning and really pro of you to text us at 2 AM, giving us no warning.


I think I typed five different replies, as fast as my little fingers could. My eyebrows furrowed and huffing and puffing my way through it. Each time I deleted it and was reminded by James, to not get into it. Just say thanks, you don’t have to come then. Leave it at that. It wasn’t even like he was with us for long.

My thoughts on this situation specifically:

1. Since when is $12/hour (what we paid him) not enough for a college student?

2. If you had a problem with price (I can respect that), negotiate in person. Newsflash, he AGREED to this price and said that worked for him when we asked him and met in person.

3. Don’t text in the middle of the night. That’s not professional. Save the saucy attitude for your friends. Not employers that have been nothing but fair and nice. His tone is clearly one that is rude (look at his word choice) and thanks for the notice ahead of time, he was supposed to come that day.

4. Finally, when you are in college, walk this dog 3-4 hours a week, make your own hours and play with a dog for “work” beggars can’t be choosers. We’ll find someone who is grateful. Sorry to have done business with you. Like, at all.

Now, I didn’t have to post this. In fact, I rarely rant here. I mean, the kid doesn’t even know my last name, let alone that I have a blog. I’m not blowing up his spot and would never mention his name but I feel generally, this wouldn’t have happened years ago. It just wouldn’t have. What is up with this entitlement?

I try to imagine someone as ethical, virtuous and hard working as my Grandfather sending a rude text in the middle of the night, in a rude tone, being like “peace out” I don’t need to work. Maybe this is some rich, spoiled kid. I don’t know. But generationally, this just wouldn’t have happened. Therein, they don’t make ’em like they used to.

I never would have done this in college. I had multiple jobs and worked hard. If something wasn’t working out, I would be upfront and speak in person. Any transaction, I would take seriously. Now, I probably was less responsible when I was in college, but not when it came to jobs.

All of this makes me feel old, upset at the new generation and keen on how I want to my parent our some-day children. Seriously, buck up.


Thanks for listening. Am I crazy here or do you feel the same with entitled youngins?




Exploring Pharmaca + $50 Gift Card Giveaway

2013 August 20
by Grace Boyle

I was recently invited to visit and shop at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, to learn more about the Pharmaca Experience and also offer a special $50 gift card giveaway to Small Hands, Big Ideas readers!

I’ve been going to Pharmaca since I moved to Boulder (for about five years). It’s always a welcoming experience and I find that they have enough alternative healing and wellness items, alongside the regular staples you might need (for instance, I just purchased hydrogen peroxide there because I was out) to be a healthy balance.

Screen shot 2013-08-19 at 10.08.00 AM
My parents always had alternative wellness products and homeopathy the house and that’s often the type of doctors we saw were as well (e.g. Ayurveda, etc.). For that reason, and with Pharmaca’s licensed estheticians and practitioners, I always felt comfortable and safe in there, versusone of those big box drug stores.

What I purchase, always ranges, but I love their variety of Dr. Hauschka products, their multi-vitamins, there’s a music section, and I recently also learned of specifically their Gaia Herbs from Pharmaca and an interesting shampoo, Peter Lamas Chinese Herbs Stimulating Shampoo. This is a shampoo (under $20) that helps with weak hair or scalp, through the stimulating herbs and it’s totally natural and doesn’t damage the hair. See the variety?

It always smells nice in there (perhaps lavender or some of their essential oils) and whenever I go in, you’re greeted with a friendly hello and if you have any symptoms someone with quite  bit of knowledge, can help guide you to some herbs, medicine or vitamins that might alleviate whatever you’re experiencing. This is one of the main reasons I go there if I have an ailment or am not feeling well. I appreciate their breadth of knowledge and know I can trust them.

On the flip side, if I do need some sort of prescription, I can call it in and pick it up there as they are a pharmacy. Again, I feel good going there.

Before coming to Colorado, I didn’t know Pharmaca existed but I soon learned they have stores in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. It’s a store I’m happy I have locally and with such an important focus on health and wellness, I am glad they do exist.

$50 Gift Card Giveaway to Pharmaca:

Details to enter:

  • You must leave a comment on this blog post, sharing what you would purchase from Pharmaca if you won the gift card.
  • Please leave your email with the comment so I can contact you, if you win.
  • I will announce the winner by September 1st via email. The winner will be chosen by random.

Please note: The $5o gift card can only be used at a Pharmaca store (not through the online store) so please be sure to confirm you have a store near you.

**UPDATE**: Winner has been announced via random number selection. Congratulations Doniree!

Disclaimer: Thanks to Pharmaca for hosting this giveaway and blog post. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Make the trip

2013 August 16
by Grace Boyle


One of my favorite writers, Danielle LaPorte’s recent blog posts titled, “Your friends, your freedom, and getting off your ass for Love,” is a zinger. Hit right to the heart.

As each year goes by, it seems our lives become more compartmentalized. Work usually gets more intense, there are marriages, moving, buying houses, babies and well, priorities change. There is just less time for the things that aren’t in your day-to-day schedule, that perhaps aren’t mandatory.

In Danielle’s story, she recalls the few times of regret in her life were the times she missed out on time with friends. For me, friends are family and when we get caught up, those trips and time together become even more important. As my family-friends are scattered around the country (and world) I always know that the experience is something I would way more purchase than a physical item.

Last Summer when one of my best friends’ fiance died suddenly, without even needing to think about the decision, those of us from afar (Colorado, California, Australia), booked one way tickets home to be with her and to help pick up the pieces. I stayed at home with her and family for nine days. Nine days that when you have a full-time job, freelance work, a dog, a boyfriend, a life, a vacation planned over some of this time – is a lot. But I didn’t care. It was innate and the exact right thing to do. I cannot imagine not doing that. The part that also holds true, is without a doubt, she and the rest of our friends, would have done the same if the situation was reverse.

Life is filled with inconveniences and time, is of the essence. Time is also, extremely valuable. But time spent for and with those incredible friends, it is never lost or unworthy.

As life becomes busier and I become a bit more tired by my “adult” responsibilities, one thing doesn’t change, wanting to spend quality time with those kin friends (and family for that matter). At a time when making friends in your 30’s may be more difficult, cultivating and cherishing those friendships you’ve had for years, or perhaps your whole life, becomes even more vital.

Although circumstances and finances may not always allow for jet setting around, there are always ways to make the effort and to stay together.

I have a Southwest credit card to earn miles, might as well earn points while I’m spending money daily. On work trips, even though they’re often very rushed, I always rearrange my schedule to see a friend for dinner or in between meetings (it’s worth it). I plan ahead, think about timing and make sure to put the effort into planning for group trips, or coordinating when we’re all headed home. Just recently, I flew home to Iowa to see that very friend. There was no real reason, I just felt seeing my parents and close friends was due, and I did some rearranging. It is money so worth the spend. And that money spent on the somewhat more expensive flight than normal, I don’t miss it.

It is your choice after all regarding where your energy and time is spent. Cheers, my friends. Here’s to getting off our ass for love.

When it clicks

2013 June 23
by Grace Boyle

I’ve noticed when I’m trying to accomplish something challenging, for the time being, it seems unattainable.

For me, it’s often math or numbers I’m trying to crunch for budget or goal planning at work, sometimes it’s a physical feat or activity I want to crush but can’t get it right, sometimes it’s the very words for a blog post that laugh back at me as the cursor blinks ominously and sometimes it’s a mental lapse where I simply cannot express what I need and want to say.

Those times are frustrating. Although I believe very much in the power of intention and thought, I often simply cannot fathom doing what I need or want to accomplish. I say, “How am I going to get this? I’m literally stumped. I can’t imagine every doing X.” It’s not that I don’t believe myself either, it’s just that it seems literally impossible in the moment.

It’s not a good feeling.

Yet, we all go through it. It actually has to happen before the click can.

double-undersThe other day I was struggling through a warm-up at Crossfit that involved double-unders, gearing up for the workout (WOD). Double-unders involve getting the rope under your feet twice each time you jump in the air and require agility and focus.


While practicing, I realized I was getting a little better than last time. I realized I could modify the workout (a great thing about Crossfit) to get those double-unders but in a smaller amount than the total required (e.g. instead of 50, I did 25 and next round 15 instead of 30 and so forth). I always did singles in jump-rope WOD’s but realized, if I didn’t try double-unders in a real WOD, I would never get to doing them period. So I went with it. And that itself, was a step forward knowing I was signing up for more of a challenge.

I was the last to finish.

It required a lot more concentration and I was extremely frustrated the entire time (not unusual). However, when I finished I realized I got 5 double-unders in a row (my most in a row) and accomplished well over 55 double-unders (this was just a component of the workout).

I got through it doing a few in a row, messed up, then started again, did one, then a few singles, then one again – slow but steady and really awkward.

As I left to go home, I had a bit of an epiphany.

A few months ago, I couldn’t even do one double-under. It’s a long process. But I realized that all of a sudden when you get it, it just clicks. You go from not able, to able, and it can be in a moment of seconds.

Although I didn’t have full actualization of completing this physically and mentally difficult activity, I got a step closer and that step closer made me realize that clicking feeling was not too far off.

Have you ever had it click just right? It doesn’t come easily and it doesn’t come without hard work, but when it clicks, it just clicks.

General (Business) Etiquette

2013 June 20
by Grace Boyle

These are just a few random rumblings that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time now. I know we all have different values and needs, but I find it somewhat outlandish when people just “assume” all the above and don’t consider others in the process.

  • Before making an introduction between two people, ask that person who is the “helper” FIRST. This is the opt-in process. The, “Want to make sure you’re cool with this” and/or “Have the time and capacity to help this person/potentially a stranger to you?” It’s a common courtesy. It also gives them the heads up and context. A cold introduction between two people catches the “helper” off guard and obligates them or puts them in an uncomfortable place. I’m sure it happens innocently and it’s out of the goodness of wanting to help, but considering the other person’s time, bandwidth and potentially how many times a week they may get these “intros for help” is important.
  • Related – When/if you are asking for help from someone and you schedule something like to meet for drinks, coffee, etc. it is thoughtful and just to offer to pay for said drink/coffee. They’re taking time out of their busy day, to speak with you and offer you guidance or help (for free). Honestly, even if it was my best friend helping me I would offer to buy her coffee because it’s a give and take mentality and especially if it were a stranger that was doing it out of the goodness of their heart. It’s the least you can do for this person. It’s just good to do.
  • Be clear in what you’re asking for. This doesn’t have to do with the above mentioned, but does relate. Whether you’re pitching people, asking for help, etc. the call to action should be clear. Sometimes I find myself bumbling along and not being clear in what I need. That not only screws me, but the other person I am asking doesn’t have a clear line of action to follow. Being succinct, also helps.
  • Hold the door. I don’t care how much of a rush you’re in, it simply won’t hurt you to hold back a bit and hold open the door for the person behind you. It’s such a simple gesture, but in this day and age, it doesn’t hurt to look out for one another. Start with the simple pieces, hold the door so it doesn’t slam in their face as you scurry on your way.
  • Putting someone on an e-mail list they didn’t somehow opt into (there are some fine lines here in the business world) but what’s worse, is NOT having an unsubscribe button. There are a number of just straight emails where I’m BCC’d and I’m on a list. I was never asked to be on that group personal email list but it’s weird to respond to that person and ask them to remove me from their list because they are a friend, I’m just not their target or I’m trying to clean up my inbox. Nothing personal. Please have an unsubscribe or easy opt-in in all e-mail communication. It’s common courtesy and a best practice in marketing. Also, when you unsubscribe and they tell you it is “being processed” then a few days later you get another email from them, is no bueno.
  • Be on time. Should I say more? Probably not. Usually a good idea to be on time for meetings or calls.
  • Don’t have a meeting for the sake of meeting. I think so much can be accomplished without long, droning on meetings. They are necessary to gather the right people, but can be succinct and finalized, so everyone can actually do instead of sitting around. A day filled with meetings gets you nowhere.

I don’t mean to complain, but they’re just things I feel strongly about. Sigh.

What about you? What are your general etiquette musts?


Up and away

2013 May 23
by Grace Boyle

Today, two close friends and really, the best neighbors we’ve ever had, moved from Boulder.


We’ve come to love our apartment complex with our community that has been cultivated, neighbors, our dogs, our gardens, the creek that runs alongside us and the few blocks it is from downtown. But really, my 1970’s oven isn’t what makes it special, it’s the people.

We’ve been lucky to have wonderful neighbors there, where we have each others’ keys, we let each others’ dogs out if we’re in a pinch, we share meals on our porches and you can borrow anything from toilet paper (yep) to butter.

And these neighbors that are leaving, were directly next to us. Our dogs were best friends (maybe they were dating too), we stumbled out on the porch on hungover Saturday mornings to make eggs and bacon while our dogs ran around in the yard in front of us with too much energy, we’ve laughed more times than I can remember, we’ve had countless meals (we call them the five hour meal on Sunday afternoon) and generally, they’re just kind people that we’re sad to lose.

I’ve now been in Boulder for almost five years. I moved on a whim in 2008 on my own, with no job, no apartment and no idea what I was going to do next. Life has unfolded in a crazy, beautiful way since then.

One thing I’ve noticed, as we’re nearing our 30’s many of us are still hopping around from state to state, to country to country. Most of my closest friends have all moved from Boulder. Perhaps it’s because it’s a transient city, perhaps because it attracts seekers, perhaps it’s because those are the type of friends and people I love to surround myself with.

The: there-is-always-something-more-let-me-explore-do-it-up people.

I’m one of those.

But I still love Boulder. I’m happy here. But I’m sad. So many friends are dispersed across the world. I guess it’s wishful thinking we could all stay together. But my Boulder family and friends, has mostly up and left. Few are remaining from my original friends and although I feel as though I know so many people and have many lines and walks of groups here, today I feel sad. A little hollow.

I know that people come and go from our lives and we also change, but I do know that certain people will remain even if they’re not physically present. Holding on doesn’t do anyone any good, but there is a part of me that wishes I could at times…

Is it unrealistic to think your close friends you see will just always be there in the same place? We move so often these days it just doesn’t seem plausible especially with my generation.

How do you cope with moving and changes throughout your 20’s? Do you find constant in friendships or know that they’re always adjusting?

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