November 29 2012
If you’re shopping on Black Friday, this usually means you’re shoulder to shoulder with the consuming masses at your local Target, Best Buy, or other large department store trying to score the best deals for Christmas. I on the other hand try to avoid this at all costs.
So I spent my Friday afternoon walking the uncrowded streets of South Broadway here in Denver. I was window shopping and hitting up the Goodwill to drop off some items (go minimalism!) When I ran across this little gem – Hazel & Dewey.
Hazel and Dewey’s small pom pom covered cardboard trees in bright window sills welcomed me inside. I found clean and minimal shelves lovingly decorated with modern kitchenware and hand-crafted curiosities. I’m not lying when I say that I wanted everything in this store.
From artisan wooden cutting boards, to stone cheese plates, and elegant glass decanters, you could tell that each item has been carefully chosen. They also carry smaller items like gourmet flavored salts, straight from Etsy tea towels, and cute party supplies which I dig snag before walking out. Every item feels loving crafted and designed, creating a harmonious connection between beauty and effectiveness in the store.
The delicate porcelain bowls from Pigeon Toe made my eyes almost jump out of my head, I’ve been drooling over them for quite some time and never imagined to find them here in Denver. I daydream about a teal one sitting on my stove full of rosemary salt. How about this little hidden fox in this imm living ceramic cup? Just the right amount of whimsy for an evening cup of tea.
I left the store with some gray stripped paper straws, red and white twine for Christmas gifts, a cute gold embossed illustrated card, and the latest Kinfolk magazine which I promptly read at the nearest coffee shop. If you’re looking to support a small business and find the gift for the domestic in your life hit up this shop. Jenna runs the place, and she was super sweet (and obviously has great taste).
Hazel & Dewey
70 South Broadway
September 17 2012
I’m ashamed to admit that this weekend was the first time all season, that I’ve been camping. I usually try to go two to three times in the summer alone. I know – I hang my head. In Colorado, camping is one of our favorite pastimes and can range from all over the spectrum, from luxury cabin style to really roughin’ it backpacking around.
I grew up spending long durations of my summer at camp exploring rivers, riding horses and hiking. Or week long stints to the beautiful glaciers, valleys, mountains and lakes of Yellowstone with my family. Camping is in my blood. So you can understand the feeling of longing I have when I’ve been away from our Rocky Mountains too long.
This weekend my man and I ventured about 20 miles north of Nederland, CO to Peaceful Valley. Which I can attest, while not having the most unique name, it is still named appropriately. Our camping ground was tucked right a long the wooded Middle St. Vrain River. Set in a wide valley surrounded by tall wise-looking pine and bright yellow aspen trees. The sky was clear blue and the morning air crisp. We enjoyed our first night roasting s’mores and chatting about an upcoming trip to Pennsylvania in October.
Set at about 8,600 miles above the sea, at night the stars feel closer than ever. I couldn’t stop gazing at the abundant sprinkling above me. The subtle flow of the Milky Way dragging across the sky reminded me of our small existence and pulled me into a daydream state. Getting away to remote places really brings me back to simpler thinking and gratitude.
We spent the last morning exploring the sunlit Middle St. Vrain trailhead. A wonderfully mild hiking trail that leads through aspen trees and tall moss covered pines along the river. We even spotted a huge adolescent moose about 25 yards in front of us! After a 2 mile hike we made it to Timberline Falls – a series of small rapids that create a beautiful cascading of the river down the hill. I would love to go back on a backpacking trip through the area to St. Vrain Glacier and through Buchanan Pass.
It’s always surprising how many beautifully tucked away places exist in my homestate that I never knew were there. It always revitalizes that sense of adventure in me, knowing the next best place is right up the mountain.
*All photos by Observant Nomad
August 21 2012
Oh who doesn’t love some gratuitous classic car pics? I mean they’re shiny, candy colored, and have the most perfectly curvy lines. This weekend I went to the Super Chevy Car Show with my man and some friends. The show was held at the Bandimere Speedway, a not so far away race track from Denver that hosts car shows, drag races, and swap meets.
There had to be all kinds of Chevys. Some completely modified, others had all original parts. Most accompanied by a sentimental story involving an aunt passing away or a grandfather’s impulse purchase.
All of them were bright, freshly polished, and each one special. A level of detail and craftsmanship so professional, it was moving. One gentleman, Mr. Bandimere to be exact, had his Bel-Air repainted six times just to get a perfect turquoise match to the original color. I could feel all of their pride just radiating off the skin.
After pursuing the isles of Chevy beauties we sat and watched the 1/4 mile drag races, eating greasy BBQ and sweet potato fries. I took measure of the engines’ deep roars and the ear shattering blast of their take off. The beasts could move!
The showmanship was extreme. Men lined around sitting in folding camping chairs perfecting the ‘too cool for school’ scowl. Each one more excited than the last to offer a better view of the cars, just for my photo op. My favorite show stopper? Sprinkling the black top with silver glitter so it would dazzle in the sun, reflecting in the highly polished sides of his Camaro.
Cause real men don’t mess around. They use glitter.
It was a real treat sharing this experience with my guy, he’s an ex-mechanic who earned his stripes around a 350 small block with his Grandpa. Hearing him share his knowledge and deep love for something so beautiful was really special. Isn’t there something amazing when you’re learning from your significant someone? I think it really makes you appreciate them so much more.
*All photos by Observant Nomad
June 27 2012
The perks of working for an advertising & design agency, include some of the following: extra passes to high-end client events, free cocktails and tasty samplings from all around the city, and a private view of exotic animals in the most perfect of lighting. All included in one outing.
Trust me there are no so glamorous moments of client work. It’s plenty of hours and more often you’re trying to find more hours to stuff into the day. So when the perks come around, I don’t feel guilty diving right in.
And being the animal lover I am – I can’t turn down any good reason for a trip to the zoo.
See these images and more on my facebook page.
May 22 2012
The desert always brings to mind images of parched land and unbearable heat. But when your desert is a mile high above sea level, it changes. It becomes cool and comfortable. Colorado is exactly that, a cool desert state. Don’t get me wrong, we have vast rolling prairie, tall impressive peaks, and are usually blessed with blankets of white fluffy snow in the winter. But our annual rainfall is so low, that it actually qualifies us a bone fide desert.
Red Rocks Amphitheater is probably one of the best reminders of this juxtaposing fact. And in the window from February to June, Red Rocks is a paradise. Only a 20 minute drive from downtown Denver, it has trails at all levels of difficulty, a colorful concert venue, and is surrounded by some of the most stunning natural landscapes this side of the Rocky Mountains.
It has to be the staggering sight of jutting copper-colored stone walls, which line the theater, that draw the amazement and awe of tourists and locals alike. Living close has its perks, and for the active folk like me, one of them is being able to run the stadium steps and surrounding trails.
I know, I know, this may sound nuts. But I assure you that it is actually more common than you think. Many people use the stadium as staging for training for harder and more demanding marathons or ‘mud runs’. The open air and camaraderie of fellow red-rock-gym-goers is a great motivation for running, while the impressive looming stone faces inspire reaching for new heights.
I’m actually training for a ‘mud run’ which is coming up very soon, June 9 to be exact. In anticipation of the race, I’ve been running my legs off and building strength. The course is one of the most difficult of it’s kind and runs about 10 miles long with approximately 28 obstacles. Each one designed by British Navy Seals to test and push athletes to the limits.
I signed up for the course to do just that. One could say I have an adrenaline problem. And its probably why I find myself signing up for these crazy things and telling tales of ‘insert crazy life moments here’. I like saying I lived. So I figured what’s the best way to feel like you’re living than jumping into ice cold water, carrying logs up hills, all the while gathering scraps and bruises? I ran the stadium steps (the entire length of each row) in about 12mins, which had me feeling pretty good. I guess we’ll just have to see how good come race time.
May 7 2012
Forest Room 5 must be my all time favorite bar in Denver. Its a place I can grab a casual Happy Hour and food with a friend. Or I can get dressed up and hit the town here too. It seems like Forest Room 5 lends herself to your needs. The service? That’s another beast entirely.
We were lucky enough to be promptly served and waited on by a fabulous little blonde with a red dress. The night was cool and crisp, so we knew we had to stop by the 24-hour fire pits to warm up. They are oh-so cozy and when I can’t make it into the mountains for last minute camping, this outdoor seating area does the trick.
I’m completely head over heels for Forest Room 5′s small hidden alcoves, tucked behind trees, around timber staircases, and atop lofted cabin interiors. The long community table inside feels warm and inviting. The completely wild timber interior encloses you into a National Park escape without the drive. Outside, under the large projection screen and behind tall aspen, you can find white aluminum picnic tables and wood stools to cozy up around on.
And with drinks like Spicy Palomas, Ce La Vie, Beez Neez, and the Forest Fashion – a mix of local whiskey, sage bitters, and ginger beer, it’s no wonder that this place feels like a storybook escape deep into mystical woods.
Please don’t miss this little eclectic stop in the Highlands next time you visit Denver. And make sure you invite me. And thanks to Anna (@twopennykarma) for capturing some shots of me for this post.
March 30 2012
It’s Denver and it’s March. Colorado is a pretty amazing place in the Spring. The city begins to shed a wrapping of fluffy winter gear. The mountains start to get more mountain biking and hiking than snow related activities. And shops around Denver dust off the cafe umbrellas and open the patio bars…
My friends and I have been taking advantage of the wonderful weather here lately. Including meeting up for a late night dinner atop the Highlands located Linger restaurant, which offers this gorgeous view of Denver from it’s rooftop patio.
Spring is most definitely in the air, and my allergies can prove it. The sunsets are a warm pinkish gold and touch the ends of the mountains. The light barely makes its way into the city, but when it does, it peeks oh so brilliantly around jutting skyscrapers. Creating a sense of treasure to the spectacular creation.
I’ve also been finding more and more excuses to go out and walk around town, even if it is just to hop down the street for coffee and a vegan Sweet Potato Cinnamon Roll from Watercourse Bakery (next to City O’ City). Yum!
These early Spring days have been full of good friends and delicious bites. I shopped with a fashionable gal pal, Rachel, to pick up some cute pink satin shorts. A trend I completely love, yet am still figuring out how to wear. And had my favorite burger, the Portabello Burger from H Burger, downtown patio side with my hunky man for a little midweek pick me up.
But not to be outdone with my two besties and a trip to Sweet Action Ice Cream where I’ve cherished both Horchata & S’Mores flavors. Oh hello… take a look, think I’d like to snatch up some of that Pocky Red Bean. Don’t worry I sprinkled in some bike rides down the Platte River to keep me beach ready.
Yeah, did I mention I ate at Linger? Um. Yum. I love the upstairs bar for happy hour and think its got the right kind of vibe. Think trendy without trying too hard and just the right amount of weird kitsch that makes you look a little sideways at it. Perfect. It has a perfectly creepy/awesome story too – just like all interested things should.
Originally the building Linger resides in was Olinger, an old mourtuary located in downtown Denver. It had a neon sign that was enormous and could be seen from most places along the highway and spots in main areas of downtown. When the mortuary shut down, the owner/genius over at Root Down decided to open a new restaurant there.
They turned it into a hip little spot that is super packed all the time. Its open floorplan feels very casual, but it has a sense of drama and romanticism with retro floral wallpaper patterns, a bright light bartop, floor to ceiling 1950s mugshots, and the history alone helps. A must visit when in Denver in my books.
I sat 9 rows off the ice for an Avalanche vs Penguins game. It was more of a gift to my boy, than for me. But I had fun, and I know he had a blast seeing his team slaughter us :/ But on the upside I found a new favorite beer, Peroni and I made a killer Greek Pizza – and let me tell you. This. Pizza. Is. Not. Messing. Around. Jessica over at How Sweet It Is came up with this perfect pie and from one food slut to the world, I’m in love with it in every way. Which reminds me, I need to go make more now…
So I leave March with this last pic. A wonderful guy and a wonderful month in the city.
February 17 2012
Izakaya is a word, as in traditional oriental fashion, comprised of two separate words, ‘I’ meaning – to stay and ‘sakaya’ meaning – sake shop. Izakaya is a type of working man’s pub in Japan, a local after-five watering hole so to say. Izakayas are usually marked so with red lanterns, or akachōchin. And Izakaya Den in Denver is no different. This is where I took a sushi making class from owner and head chef Yasu.
I’ve made sushi before, but Yasu and his sous chef for the class Kobayashi, pointed out small suggestions to improve my western ways. Yasu makes the experience, with tales of growing up on a small farm in Japan, to how him and his two brothers run all their restaurants together from Japan to Denver – a true family restaurant.
The fish was superbly chosen (the youngest brother’s job back in Japan) and filling. The eager students laugh off the air of awkward first introductions immediately and the Sapporo begins to flow freely. After watching Yasu roll and trying my hand at a few, I noticed how delicate the art of sushi is. It is subtle and confident as you must roll tightly but not crush the rice together, avoiding a rock-like piece of sushi which is difficult to eat. A true Asian art.
The classes run every other week if not more often. Check the website for upcoming dates and make a reservation plenty ahead of time.
1518 S Pearl St
Denver, Colorado 80210
February 13 2012
The Grizzly Rose. A staple amongst all Denver country-music connoisseurs. I must say I enjoy the character of the unique glow of blue-collar-beer neon lights. Not to get analytical about a country music bar, but I love that there’s something transparent and honest to it. The glass overhead lighting, tissue thin plastic cups of light beer, and masses of bedazzled tasseled leather jackets. Did I mention a questionable amount of cheap corn-syrup laden shots?
I’ve been to the Grizzly Rose a handful of times, at different ages, for different reasons. It’s a transportation into an entirely different culture than my everyday scene. A treasured Denver icon and more approachable than you would first imagine. This time I went for a debut MMA fight of a friend of mine, and she was spectacular. Even though she didn’t win the fight her technical skills and Muay Thai were respectable. Next time I know she’s gonna be fierce.
If you decide to stop by, try a free two step dance night and make sure to make time to hit the mechanical bulls.
The Grizzly Rose
5450 North Valley Highway (Lincoln Ave)
Denver, CO 80216
January 19 2012
It’s much like an old library, that smell, tucked away into the archives of my youth and imagination. The smell of musty paper. I have loved that smell since I can remember. I suppose the blame belongs to my mother. She dragged me at all ages to the recesses of old libraries with their lofty ceilings and hidden alcoves. Much of it I imagine, was conceived straight from the books found within them. That smell is what has given me my obsession with all objects aged or worn. Especially the love of vinyl.
I admit it’s a new obsession. A recent hobby that has fueled me with a novel way to fulfill my love for all things vintage. But I’m fortunate. Wax Trax is right around the corner from my home and has a huge selection of vinyl to meander through while sipping hot coffee. As you walk by the main store entrance, you’ll see a hand drawn sign pointing to their separate vinyl shop two doors down.
As you walk in, the first thing you notice is that this is a store that warrants it’s own space. The vinyls are peaking out of cardboard filing boxes from the floor to the tops of the 10ft tall ceilings. 45s crowd cozily together, mixing and matching in the tight isles, almost as if Hendrix could shout over to Bill Withers and get his thoughts on the new Clash throwback vinyl that just settled in the box around the corner.
They had a huge assortment of instrumental and classical recordings, on top of any era of record you can imagine. The candy colored plastic of the 7″ records made me absolutely giddy. I had to pace myself as not to dry out my pockets too quickly. So I picked up a few records and hopped over to the testing station to make sure my Miles Davis wasn’t too warped or full of crackling feedback.
Instead, I again found the sounds that further captivate my love for vinyl. Sounds that I can only find in records. The buzz from the symbols of the drums, the lingering live-music intimacy that the reverberation of the trebles lend. A subtle bass which I had first mistaken for originating from somewhere else in the store, only to realize it was whispering almost hidden in the jazz set.
The sound of an old record loved, worn, and perfect in all its imperfect ways. Old vinyl has a character almost like those from the classic books of literature. Some scream for attention and reverence, as they blow the bass off your speakers. Others are sexy and subtle. Most however are worn, interesting, graceful and have a story to tell if you sit long enough and listen between the lines.
If you need any other reason to switch to vinyl, check out one of my favorite blogs: Turntable Kitchen – Top Ten Reasons To Buy A Turntable
638 E 13th Ave
Denver, CO 80203-2613