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Movie review: “Coco” Hits all the Right Notes

Coco is a beautifully decorated cake. On the surface, it’s coated with sweet buttercream and dotted with sprinkles and roses in every color of the rainbow. From the opening moments, Coco draws you in with laughs, detail, and striking animation. It looks good! Let’s take a piece.

Ooh, there are about 18 layers in this cake. Time to dive in!

Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) is a boy living in a small Mexican town. Everyone is in a flurry preparing for Dios de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. His family are the local shoemakers, going back several generations. He lives with his loving extended family and it is very understood he will learn to make shoes. The problem: He loves music. He sings and plays the guitar well. Most families would be proud and supportive, but not his.

Music is banned. Music is despised. Music is feared. It represents pain and abandonment.

While his home showcases a shrine to his dead relatives, Miguel has a secret shrine to his musical and movie superstar hero, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), the most famous person to hail from his hometown. When Miguel learns the Day of the Dead commemoration includes a talent show, he decides nothing will stop him from entering the contest—even feisty Abuelita (Renee Victor). When that dream is threatened, Miguel goes to extreme lengths to enter the talent show. In the process of risking everything, he makes a startling discovery that could explain why music is sewn into his soul.

That shocking moment lands him, still very much alive, in the Land of the Dead. Suddenly, there’s a person to find and a mystery to solve.

This is where the Pixar animation goes from stunning to breathtakingly stunning. Detail and color are almost overwhelming. The Land of the Dead sequence is one of the finest examples of animation I’ve ever seen.

Miguel quickly encounters his dead relatives, in skeletal form, as they cross the bridge to the Land of the Living for the annual cross-mortal visit. The clock is ticking, though, so if Miguel doesn’t find who he’s looking for in time, he will be stuck in the Land of the Dead forever. He reluctantly accepts the help of ernest Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal).

That cake keeps getting better, layer after layer. Animation, humor, music are all great, but the heart of the movie is found in family and the power of memory. Coco is an unusual movie in that it isn’t afraid to explore pain and regret, or ugly emotions like jealousy and hate. In the end, forgiveness and redemption save the day. Like Pixar’s Up, Coco is not afraid to get the tears flowing but then turn around and make you laugh.

Coco, by Pixar Animation Studios, released by Disney, opens on November 22, 2017. It is rated PG.

Win Tickets to Disney on Ice’s ‘Follow Your Heart’

Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart!  On Dec. 7-10,  this ice skating extravaganza featuring Disney Pixar’s Inside Out, Disney’s Frozen and other beloved Disney stories at the Pepsi Center. 

About the Show

 Just keep swimming with Dory, Nemo, Marlin and new pal Hank from Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory as they embark on a life-changing excursion to find her parents and discover the true meaning of family. Cheer with the Emotions from Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out –Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust– as they help Riley find the confidence to win the hockey championship and experience the emotional rollercoaster of growing up. Venture to wintery world of Arendelle where Olaf and Kristoff help reunite royal sisters Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen and learn love is the most powerful magic of all. See Cinderella, Rapunzel, Tiana and the Disney Princesses make their dreams come true through their virtues of bravery, kindness and perseverance. And celebrate true friendship with Buzz Lightyear, Woody and The Toy Story gang. Make unforgettable memories with Mickey, Minnie and all your Disney friends when Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart skates into your hometown! 
 
Denver Performance Schedule:
Thurs., Dec. 7:  7:00 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 8:  11:00 a.m.7:00 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 9:  11:00 a.m.3:00 p.m.7:00 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 101:00 p.m.5:00 p.m.
 
For more info about the show, please visit www.FeldEntertainment.com/PressRoom[feldentertainment.com.

Discount

Save $5 on your ticket using promo code HEART. 

Contest

Mile High Mamas is giving away a family four-pack of tickets on opening night, Thursday, Dec. 7. Note: These tickets are non-transferable. You may enter as many as five times. 

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27 fun Denver events this weekend

The holidays are in full swing! Don’t miss these candelight walks, Grand illumination at Denver Union Station, and the Rocky Mountain Train Show. See our event calendar for full listings. 

Mile High United Way Turkey Trot at Washington Park 
Nov 23 
Run your yams off at the 44th annual Mile High United Way Turkey Trot in Denver’s beautiful Washington Park! The four-mile race and quarter-mile family fun run is expected to host over 10,000 participants in support of Mile High United Way’s work in the community to improve the lives of children, families, and individuals in need. This year’s Turkey Trot will include a start and finish village featuring entertainment, music, booths and a beer garden sponsored by Great Divide Brewing Company.

Grand Illumination at Denver Union Station 
Nov 24, 6:00 – 8:30 pm
Join the LoDo District and the Union Station Alliance as they light Denver Union Station. Enjoy carolers and treats, drinks at The Terminal Bar, and the revealing of this year’s holiday lighting of the iconic station!

Old Colorado City Christmas Stroll at Old Colorado City
Nov 25 – 26 
Dickens on the Avenue will last two days this year! Come dressed the part and join in on the entertainment, food, pictures with Santa, and get your Christmas season started in the best way possible! Guests can look forward to original Dickens Carolers, Victorian Dances, parades and sing-alongs.

Tony Baker at Comedy Works South
Nov 24 
Tony Baker is a stand-up comedian and actor. He was featured on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central’s Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution, CBS’s Comics Unleashed, Starz’s StaannDUP!, and Aspire’s We Got Next. Tony has acted on TV and in film on projects like NBC’s The Carmichael Show, Amazon’s Just Add Magic, and the award winning film Whiplash. 

Mayor’s Holiday Lighting at O’Brien Park 
Nov 24, 5:30 – 7:00 pm
The Town of Parker officially kicks off this festive time of year with a slew of events that will get the entire family in the holiday spirit. Gather ‘round the Town Tree in O’Brien Park on Friday, Nov. 24, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. for an evening of classic holiday cheer at the Mayor’s Holiday Lighting. 

Zoo Lights Preview Weekend at Denver Zoo 
Nov 24 – 25 
Guests of this popular holiday tradition will experience a light safari with 60 brilliantly-illuminated acres of lights, featuring more than 150 animated animal sculptures that swing through trees, jump across lawns, hide in bushes and appear in places where they’re least expected.

Rocky Mountain Train Show
Nov 25, 9:00 – 4:00 pm
All Aboard! The Rocky Mountain Train Show will be steaming into Loveland on Saturday, November 25rd and 26th. For the hobbyist, it is an all scales show. There will be more than 50 vendors including Choo Choo are US and Thunder Road Hobbies. They will be selling trains in scales ranging from N to G.

Birdhouse Building for Kids at Barr Lake State Park 
Nov 25, 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Make a birdhouse in preparation for Spring or as a holiday gift for a bird-loving loved one. We will talk about why put up a bird house, what else you can do after mounting the house and then talk about the house wren. Kids ages 9 13 will put together a birdhouse kit to take home for decorating. Limit to 10 kids/10 houses. Call 303-659-6005 to RSVP.

Gypsy Farmhouse Holiday Market 
Nov 25, 9:30 am – 5:00 pm
Great event for the whole family. Shopping from more than 50 vendors, kids activities, music, food & a Little Market for the kiddos to do their shopping. Prize raffles every hour. Swag bags to the first 100 families after 9:30 am and also to the first 50 families after 4:00 pm.

Elizabeth Christmas Festival 
Nov 25, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
See Santa and his Reindeer, Petting Zoo, Pony Rides, Train Rides, Bungie Trampoline, Face Painting, Balloon Art, Kids can make ornaments with Santas’ Elves, while Parents select that perfect Christmas Tree and taste wine and food from local artisans Holly Acres Nursery and Christmas Tree Farm.

Arvada Fair for the Band 
Nov 24 – 25
Handmade Arts and Crafts Fair at Arvada High School. Join us to shop a wide range of unique, quality, handmade items made by talented local artists. Fri 9-6 Sat 10-4.

Santa’s Workshop at Colorado Adventure Point 
Nov 24,  9:00 am
We are open all day on Black Friday as an alternative to the lines and crowds! No present has greater value than one made with your own two hands. Come to CAP to learn the basics of woodworking whilst making a selection of gifts for your loved ones.

Family Film Night: Polar Express at CU South Denver 
Nov 25, 3:30 pm – 8:00 pm
The Polar Express is coming to Family Film Night again this year. Don’t miss this magical Christmas journey! There will be Christmas crafts, games, carolers, hot chocolate and a photo opportunity with one of Santa’s elves! Don’t forget to wear your favorite PJs!

Irish Christmas in America
Nov 25, 4:00 – 6:30 pm
The hugely popular Irish Christmas in America show, now in its 13th season, features top Irish music, song and dance in an engaging performance rich in history, humor and boundless energy.

Littleton Candelight Walk 
Nov 25, 6:00 – 7:30 pm
This Littleton tradition is a festive evening of holiday lights and music for the whole family. Sip hot cider, listen to holiday music and see reindeer! Donations of non-perishable food for Inter-Faith Community Services are accepted during the evening as well as toys for the Arapahoe Santa Claus Shop. 

Drums of the World at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex 
Nov 26, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Marimba, bongos, bass drums, woodblocks, log drums, boo-bams, Chinese cymbals, metal trash cans, darabukkas, talking drums, plastic pipe, acoustic guitar, toy trumpet, table spoons, Burma gongs, water can, crow call, tambourine, gankogui, and sleigh bells! These are just some of the percussion instruments that the virtuoso percussionists of the Colorado Symphony will be using in this dynamic concert that is fun for the entire family.

Farolito Lighting & Pinecone Ceremony at Tesoro Cultural Center
Nov 26, 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Join Tesoro as we usher in the holiday season and honor a member of the community who has enlightened the hearts and minds of others. Feel the warmth and watch as pinecones are tossed into the courtyard fire, sending good thoughts and prayers into the night sky. Sing along to Christmas carols from the 1830s and 1840s with music students from the Colorado School of Mines and other strolling musicians. Enjoy Mexican hot chocolate, hot cider, and traditional biscochitos.

Arvada Fair for the Band
Nov 24 – 25 
Handmade Arts and Crafts Fair at Arvada High School. Join us to shop a wide range of unique, quality, handmade items made by talented local artists. Proceeds go to the Arvada High School Band and Color Guard programs.

St. Nick on the Bricks 
Nov 24 – Nov 25
Kids of all ages can visit with Santa at the Downtown Boulder Visitor Information Center for FREE. Bring your list and a camera to capture priceless holiday memories.

Belliston Academy of Ballet: The Nutcracker 
Nov 24, 2:00 – 8:00 pm
We are excited to present Belliston Ballet’s 2017 exciting ‘all youth’ production of The NUTCRACKER. It is amazing to witness that which driven and focused young people are capable of achieving. Belliston’s Nutcracker has enthralled audiences with an impressive display of costuming, sets and dance for over 25 years. 

The Nutcracker Ballet 
Nov 24 – 26
This Thanksgiving weekend, the curtain rises for America’s favorite ballet, brought to life by Boulder Ballet and the Boulder Phil. Make your plans now for this thrilling and heart-warming spectacle, all performed to Tchaikovsky’s masterful score.

Ongoing Holiday Events

Blossoms of Light, Denver Botanic Gardens 
Nov 24 – Jan 1, 2018
This annual holiday lights extravaganza transforms our York Street location into a twinkling winter wonderland.

 

Santa’s Village at Chatfield Farms 
Nov 24 – Dec 24 

Santa and his friends are moving to Chatfield Farms in November! Chatfield Farms will be transformed into a magical village. Join us for a new and exciting holiday experience for all ages. Hop on the hayride to catch a short movie at Santa’s cinema and find unique holiday gifts in his workshop.

DEN Ice Skating Rink at Denver International Airport 
Nov 24, 2017 – Jan 7, 2018 
Once again, the DEN Plaza will be home to a FREE 34’wide X 60’length ice skating rink.

Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park
Nov 21 – Feb. 14, 2018
Ready. Set. Skate. Skyline Park is the place for fun this holiday season. The Downtown Denver Partnership invites you and your family to join us for FREE skating at the Skyline Rink, located at 16th & Arapahoe in Downtown Denver. Ice skating is free! You may bring your own skates or rent a pair for just $2. Through February 14.

A Christmas Carol at Stage Theatre 
Nov 24 – Dec 24
Essential to the holiday season in Denver, A Christmas Carol promises to “warm your heart and renew your holiday spirit” according to the Examiner. Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations.

 

 

Colorado Ballet’s The Nutcracker at Ellie Caulkins Opera House 
Nov 25 – Dec 24 
Recently recognized as the best-loved Nutcracker in the U.S., Colorado Ballet’s holiday classic The Nutcracker features timeless choreography paired with Tchaikovsky’s extraordinary arrangement performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra.

 

Frugal Hacks to Save Money for the Holidays

I’m not just a deals blogger. I honestly live a frugal life. I live by my budget and only have so much to spend. It seems like the holidays can be the worst time to blow the budget but here are a five of my top tips for a fun (and frugal) festive holiday!

  1. Who are the Jones anyway?

Just because the kids down the street have the newest, latest toy does not mean your kids need it. You also don’t need to throw a giant bash just because you always do. Maybe this is the year you should think about paring down your list. Do you really know the neighbors down the street? Just because they give you a present doesn’t mean that you have to reciprocate. Have a list. Have a budget. Stick to it.

  1. Give the gift of you, your talents.

I have several really talented friends (I’m lucky). The greatest gifts are the gift they give of themselves (and their talent). Maybe there is something you are good at. Can you cook? Make a meal or two to stock the freezer of a friend. Maybe you can take photos? We have a neighbor who takes family photos for everyone in front of the decorated tree (one year Santa was there, too). Maybe you can even offer to take your friends kids for a night so they can go shopping (and the kids can do a craft at your house so the kids can give their parents a gift too). Often older people (aka grandparents) have much of what they need materially – but they just want to spend time with you. One year my kids gave their grandparents “a day with the grandkids,” a special day just for them. They still talk about it as one of their favorite presents. Just think outside of the proverbial box (even if it is nicely wrapped with a ribbon and bow) about how you can give of yourself.

  1. Do the side-hustle.

This one may be a bit of a stretch for moms who are already a bit time crunched – but there are a lot of opportunities for side hustles at this time of year. Drive for Uber? Make crafts and sell them on Etsy (or at a craft show)? Offer to take photos (for money instead of what was suggested in #2 of taking the photos as a gift)? Are you a talented paper wrangler [wrapper] – offer to wrap packages for a small fee (this is an especially great side hustle for kids).

  1. Be creative with parties.

Last year I hosted a re-gift party. The only requirement was that you could not have paid for the gift in any way. A bit like a white elephant party, it gave my friends reason to be festive and not take out of their pocket. I also asked everyone to bring two dozen cookies and we did a cookie swap. No need to buy a bunch of ingredients. Plus, I did not have to spend much on food and drink.

  1. Plan Ahead.

I know that any financial expert would really tell you to put away a small amount each month starting in January – but let’s get real. I can’t seem to ever do that. But I do start collecting items in September or October. A lot of little things can add up. Stocking stuffers anyone? Wrapping paper? Spread out the cost of your holiday spending so it doesn’t hit your budget all at once. I also love to cash in the points that I have accumulated (in my case it is hotel points – but you may have other reward points programs) towards gifts or gift cards.

A bigger budget doesn’t not necessarily equal a more festival holiday. If you plan ahead and keep to your budget you can have not only a great Christmas but not feel the pinch of all the credit card bills come January. Do you have other fun frugal ways to stay on budget this season?

Black Friday Deals!

The penultimate date for shoppers has always been Black Friday…that was until a couple years ago. With some retailers opening on Thanksgiving Day (some like REI obstinately NOT opening that day), internet sales and also, consumers have gotten smart to the games of retailers (much has been said about retailers raising the price in the weeks proceeding Thanksgiving so that they can lower them and make them look like a sale on Black Friday). But there is still a certain amount of party and community for those who are Black Friday shoppers.
 
Colorado State Parks. Opt Outside on Black Friday and enjoy FREE admission to Colorado’s state parks. Turn Black Friday in blue sky Friday and green tree Friday and white show Friday…Fresh Air Friday!
 
Denver Zoo. Denver Zoo is getting into the spirit of great deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. From November 24 – 27, all membership rates are $11 off with promo code THANKS when you purchase online (packages begin at $55); Adopt an animal with 10% off any package. Use same promo code: THANKS (packages are $30-$105); or shop the market with an additional 40% off already reduced merchandise.
 
Castle Rock Factory Outlets. Shopping and fun begins at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night and the stores will remain open until 9 p.m. on Friday. While you are there enjoy the live entertainment (jugglers, magicians, balloon and caricatures); Midnight Madness Grab Bag Giveaway in the food court with all kinds of prizes; LED dance floor to literally “Rock Around the Christmas Tree,” Enter to Win opportunities and free pancake breakfast starting at 6 a.m.
 
Denver Pavilions Parking. Heading downtown? Don’t worry about paying for parking. Black Frida and Small Business Saturday. Denver Pavilions is offering parking for free in their underground parking garage. It’s simple, no proof of purchase required, no receipts to show. Just enjoy!
 
Olive + Finch Cookie Party. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, when moms and dads take to the kitchens to bake cookies galore to celebrate the winter season and of course, kids want to join in and “help.” Instead of turning your kitchen into a flour/sugar/icing war zone, bring the kids to Olive & Finch (3390 E. 1st Avenue – www.oliveandfincheatery.com) and let award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Amber Otis do the hard work. The Olive & Finch team will keep kiddos busy with a dozen sugar cookies, decorating supplies, hot cocoa to sip and healthy finger foods to snack, while grownups can kick back, relax and enjoy the fun while sipping on wine, cocktails and elegant O&F appetizers and bites. Every Saturday Thanksgiving through Christmas.
 
Uncorked Kitchen. You got plans – to shop. Don’t know what to do with the kids? Sign them up and drop them off for the Drop, Chop, and Shop half day camp November 24th from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. They will be chopping, seasoning, and cooking up lunch to bring home and share with the family while you’re out shopping (meal serves 3-4 people). The class is $84 per child/teen. Get 15% discount when you say you saw this on MileHighMamas and use promo code: BlackFridayMHM15.
 
King SoopersKing Soopers will celebrate 25 Days of Deals. From November 24 to December 24 Kings Soopers will allow you to save with awesome digital coupons to be downloaded each day. Several Free items will be part of the promotion: Mountain Dew Holiday Brew, Splenda Naturals, PowerBar Plant Protein Bar, Yasso Frozen Yogurt Bar, SunKist, Knorr Selects, and more!
 
Disney on IceDisney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart is bringing Disney•Pixar’s record-breaking animated feature Finding Dory to the ice for the first time in this live production produced by Feld Entertainment. The ice skating extravaganza featuring Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out, Disney’s Frozen and other beloved Disney stories visits Denver’s Pepsi Center December 7-10, 2017MileHighMama readers can get a $5 off your ticket when you use the promo code HEART when you purchase your tickets online.
 
Cloth + Gold. CLOTH + GOLD is a totally new business model that makes party planning fun and easy by offering fashionable dinner party essentials for rent and purchase to the Greater Denver-Boulder Area. Think of it as “Rent the Runway” for gorgeous tablescapes and a curated selection of consumables, making home entertaining essentially foolproof! (No more #PinterestFails). So, if your Thanksgiving was a stressful undertaking, don’t make the same mistake again in December! Hire the experts to handle decor…and the dishes! Additionally, CLOTH + GOLD offers a gift card, making it a perfect present for any hostess with the mostest. 
 
Friday Night BazaarFriday Night Bazaar is a one-of-a-kind makers market.  The excitement all started in the RiNo Arts District in 2015 on Brighton Blvd. with 4,000 people coming to shop, drink, mingle and dance all in one spot. An instant success, Friday Night Bazaar brought a world flare to Denver, blending the best elements of fashion, food, wine & cider and dance. Admissiion is free until 7 p.m. with GA tickets for just $5 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Make sure to check out the select vendors participating in ‘Deals Under $20’ in which they will offer their a selection of their homemade and unique gifts for under $20.
 
Open House. Join ADCO Hearing Products on Saturday, December 9th between 10am and 5pm for their annual Holiday Open House. This year we are thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase the latest products at prices you won’t see anywhere else – all in their renovated store.  Test out any product that we have on display, ask questions, and find the perfect gifts this holiday season. They’re making gift giving easier than ever with their FREE gift wrapping on ANY purchase and enjoy holiday treats and hourly giveaways all day long. Questions? Please contact us at 800-726-0851.

The Ultimate Holiday Guide to 50+ Colorado-crafted Gifts and Experiences

Colorado offers much inspiration for the holiday season. The state’s thriving culture and craftsmanship ensure there are many imaginative and thoughtful ways to give the spirit of the region. Colorado is also a real-life winter wonderland dotted with magical festivals, events, and activities to get visitors in the mood of the season. Below is a guide from all corners of Colorado to use as a tool in finding the perfect gift, or more importantly, to give the gift of a memorable holiday experience. 
 
Note: If online shopping is more your jam, be sure to go to Give10Back.com where you’ll save up to 75% OFF your favorite brand name products & everyday essentials. Give10Back.com has all of your favorite brand name toys, baby items, kitchen & home goods much more at the lowest prices on the web PLUS they donate 10% of EVERY sale to your school, church, or favorite charityGive10Back.com 

Step Back in Time

Roast chestnuts, ride horse-drawn carriages and shop for hand-made gifts in historic Georgetown and its outdoor European-style holiday market. Witness the joys, pleasures, and pastimes of the 1840’s at Bent’s Old Fort western trading post. The spirit of the season comes alive with wagon rides, games, toy making, taffy pull, piñata break, frontier cooking, storytelling, and other holiday festivities culminating in candlelight tours. Holiday activities kick off nightly with Gold Camp Christmas in Victor and Cripple Creek complete with a self-guided tour of the area’s decorated mine head-frames (the above-ground structure of the shaft) and the Elf Emporium loaded with gifts made by local crafters. Catch a glimpse of ancient Colorado history at Mesa Verde National Park’s Luminaria Holiday Open House. A visit to the Colorado Model Railroad Museum in Greeley brings out the inner child during its Holiday Festival of Trains.   

Georgetown

 

Revel in Holiday Markets and Festivals

Don’t miss some of the state’s best Christmas markets and holiday open houses including Greeley’s Festival of Trees and the Festival of Enchantment in Pueblo. The Boulder County Winter Farmer’s Market in Longmont is an ideal place for gift buying alongside seasonal local produce. Palisade Olde-Fashioned Christmas features a parade of lights, a soup challenge, and craft vendors. The holiday season also brings festive art fairs, pop-ups and maker sales across rural Creative Districts across the state: Mancos Creative District hosts the Mancos Olde Fashioned Christmas with an art fair and festive celebrations in town, Salida Holiday Festival features caroling, arts and crafts and tractor-pulled hayrides. Pueblo Creative Corridor hosts seasonal weekly art walks and sales throughout the holiday season.

A Natural Colorado Christmas

Visit a Colorado tree farm or acquire a Christmas tree cutting permit from the US Forest Service to harvest your tree. For a special twist, harvest your holiday tree on a trip with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Let pine-scented needles of ponderosa, fir, and juniper grace your doorway in a wreath from Llama Pack Farms in Masonville or create and decorate a wreath at the Covered Bridge Farm in Montrose.

Give the Gift of Going—or Staying!

Give the gift of a guest ranch experience, or better yet—bring your family to gather for a true cowboy Christmas at one of Colorado’s dude and guest ranches where packages include holiday meals, winter outdoor activities and more. Rural lodging and guest packages offer memorable staycations and include winter fun with the Ski, Swim, Stay weekends combining hot springs fun in Glenwood Springs with skiing at Sunlight Mountain, or a Monarch Mountain Snowmobile & Stay package at one of Colorado’s best-loved ski resort gems. For the non-skier, more relaxing winter stays with wildlife viewing, hiking and horse carriage rides are offered at the scenic the Platte River Fort. For those who love summer-season outdoor fun and challenges a weekend at the original Colorado camp for adults, Camp Shenanigans.

The Outdoors Gift-Wrapped

The world’s biggest elk herd, Gold Medal Waters, and epic vistas ensure Colorado is at the top of any outdoors person’s list. Stock the hunters’ shelves with equipment from Karifu or Denver Tents. Anglers will appreciate a Colorado-custom-made Bamboo fishing rod from South Creek Limited, hand-tied flies from Duranglers or ice-fishing excursions to various lakes across Colorado. Give the gift of exploration with a park pass to a Colorado State Park. For those that like to play in the snow, Colorado is home to leading manufacturers of must-have winter toys: Meier Skis for custom-made skis, Moots for fat bikes, and Mountain Boy Sledworks for traditional and iconic sleds.

Edible and Flavorful Gifts

 From single origin coffee beans by Bestslope Coffee Company in Fruita and Nuance Chocolate small-batch “bean to bar” chocolate makers of Fort Collins, to gorgeous bitters, botanicals, and cocktail making kits from Strongwater, there’s a bounty of craft selections for epicureans. Easily shippable gifts guaranteed fresh and made with love include peppered jellies from Minturn Saloon, rose-infused honey from hives across Weld, Larimer and Boulder Counties by Bee Squared Apiaries, cheese from Jumpin’ Goat Dairy, and mango salsa from Colorado Black Diamond Salsa. Or send the gift of Colorado via a basket of curated and assorted goodies from Colorado Crafted, or Cured in Boulder offers a discerning taste of native specialties including cheeses,  and salami in its Colorado gift box. Learn how to make your own holiday cheeses along with other seasonal gifts with The Art of Cheese in Longmont. Send the chef in the family mountain-inspired recipes with the new Half-Baked Harvest cookbook by Colorado mountain chef and food blogger, Tieghan Gerard.

Craft Beverage Gifts and Winter Warmers

Colorado’s award-winning breweries, wineries, and distilleries are reason alone to celebrate. Enjoy drinking or giving the gift of beer with some inspiration from Colorado’s top winter brews or gift a regional beverage tour, such as the Craft Beverages of SW Colorado. Head to Palisade for a winter wine tour, and for spirits from the ski slopes, visit Crested Butte’s Montanya Rum. Make your own Christmas cheer with Marble Distilling Company’s The Dude cocktail made from award-winning Moonlight Expresso coffee liquor. Get that whiskey lover something to treasure—a rare Maryland-Style Rye from Denver’s Leopold Bros—only available November-December.  

Made and Making in Colorado

Across the state, there is a wide range of crafters and manufacturers offering custom-made products including outdoor recreation gear, luxurious facial products, cowboy hats and homeware.
Fashion seekers will love hats, including fedoras from Greeley Hat Works or Dom wool hats from Icebox Knitting. Cooks will enjoy wooden crafted bar and kitchenware from David Rasmussen and western-lovers will covet leather goods from Zapata Ranch’s Ranchlands Store. Pamper loved ones with luxurious rose oil from Osmia Organics, or Lavender Hydrosol from Colorado Aromatics. Treat that preening man with beard oils and salves from The Vintage Grooming Company. Or why not give the gift of making: CoCo Crafted of Colorado Springs offers budding crafters the chance to create wall hangings, art, embroidery, and painting. More specialized classes include leather-working with The Makerie for fiber classes at Table Rock Llamas. For aspiring chefs looking to sharpen their skills, try an animal breakdown or sausage-making class at Boulder Butchery Guild.
 

After all that Planning…Some Colorado-Style Self-Care

You made the holidays special for everyone else, but don’t forget some self-care. Give yourself a little downtime with Colorado inspired spa treatments or a soak in some of the state’s natural hot springs 
 

Cat declawing ban passed in Denver

The proposed bill that would ban declawing cats passed unanimously on Monday during a Denver City Council meeting. 

Declawing, or onychectomy, is the operation to remove an animal’s claws surgically. All or most of the last bone of each of the ten front toes is removed, and tendons, nerves and ligaments that allow for normal function of the paw are severed. 9News has additional information.

Photo: Kelly Doty

“Wonder” Proves Kindness Wins

One of the most beloved best selling fiction books in the past five years is Wonder, by R. J. Palacio. Chances are you or your kids have read the story of amazing Auggie Pullman, a 10-year-old boy born with severe facial deformities. While not a true story, it is timely and rings true. Readers embraced the story of Auggie’s journey. He was sheltered by his well-meaning but fiercely loving family. With their help, he ventures out into a wider world where acceptance and friendship are made harder by prejudice and fear.

It’s no surprise Wonder found its way into movie theaters. With an all-star cast, including Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as Isabel and Nate Pullman, hopes are sky-high that the film version captures the spirit, humor, and heart of this very special story.

Jacob Trembly is a talented young actor you might remember from Room. He takes on the heavy, emotional role of Auggie with courage and warmth. His talent shines through layers of makeup and facial prosthetics, which is a huge feat. The makeup doesn’t wear him. He’s utterly believable.

Roberts exudes the fierce love of a mom with ease and grace. She truly shines in the role of Isabel and was a pleasure to watch. As a mom, I could easily identify with her heartache over her son’s pain but also the soaring joy over watching him overcome. Roberts is a treasure in this film. Owen Wilson as dad Nate captures the depth of a man who keeps everyone afloat with his optimism and humor, but he too is vulnerable.

Via, Auggie’s sister, is capably portrayed by Izabela Vidovic. Her complicated emotions add another layer to Wonder in an important way. In the novel, chapters revolve around the viewpoints of different characters, some major, some minor, but all lending insight into Auggie’s journey and their own. The movie version is divided in a similar way. We see Auggie through Via’s friend, Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell). We see into the heart of sweet Jack Will (Noah Jupe). These viewpoints build upon each other.

Wonder aptly captures the raw emotions of letting go, heightened by very real fears for Auggie’s well-being. Kids can be cruel, but where does that cruelty start? Can kids (and adults) learn to overcome prejudices based solely on appearance?

There are a lot of laughs and sweet moments sprinkled throughout the film. Be prepared with some tissues, though, because tears will flow. Let them come. It’s the season to celebrate the love of family and friends and to look beyond surface appearances.

Is it important to read the book before you see the movie? Do your kids need to read it first? No. Wonder, as a movie, stands on its own merits and strengths. I predict the book will be in your future, and that’s a good thing. Movies can’t do it all, but Wonder comes close. Wonder is rated PG. It opens everywhere on Friday, November 17th, 2017.

Your holiday bird: A guide for making the perfect turkey

JON EMANUEL roasts 200 turkeys a year. That’s about 199 more than the rest of us.

So when Emanuel — the executive chef at Project Angel Heart, a nonprofit organization that delivers meals to homebound folks across the Front Range — lays out his system for a moist, picture-perfect Norman Rockwell-style Thanksgiving roast turkey, it pays to pay attention.

“I use what I call the BATTT method,” Emanuel says. “Brine. Air dry. Truss. Turn. Temperature.” He swears that this progression, from seasoning to serving, results in an impeccable turkey every time.

Emanuel isn’t the only one with a set of foolproof turkey-roasting rules. Noah Stephens of Vert Kitchen in Denver (who cooks about 500 birds a year for his restaurant’s famous turkey sandwiches) and Mark Monette of Boulder’s Flagstaff House (who ships hundreds of complete Thanksgiving dinners for his national dinner-by-mail program) also lay claim to the secrets of a

Thanksgiving: Ideas for teaching kids gratitude

Thanksgiving is almost upon us! Not only is it the day you fill your stomachs with turkey, mashed potatoes, and apple pie, we can show our gratitude all month long. Here are some ideas for celebrating life and love.

  • Just say THANKS: Voicing your gratitude is the first step in becoming a great role model for your kids, family and friends. Share all the things that you’re thankful for on Facebook, Twitter, and in your own home. Send thank-you cards or have your children draw pictures and send them to loved ones. We love this inspiring video of a woman who took it one step further.

  • Share appreciation. A fun activity to do for Thanksgiving  is take a piece of paper for each person in the house and write down something you love about them, and give an example. For instance, I wrote that I  love how giving and caring my friend is for others. She saves soda cans in order to give to her son. When they have enough cans to turn in for money, they donate it to a local animal shelter.
  • Gratitude Challenges. Pinterest is flooded with ideas on daily gratitude prompts and printables. November may have already started but it’s never too late to be thankful.contagious
  • Gratitude tree. One of our annual traditions is to make a gratitude tree (or basket) out of poster board. We spend all month long posting “leaves” on the branches as we share our gratitudes. You could also have your family keep a Gratitude Journal or a Gratitude Jar that the children fill all month long and on Thanksgiving, you read it together.
  • Gratitude Pictionary or Charades! Each person takes turns acting out or drawing out what they are most thankful for.
  • What are your most thankful for, from A-Z? Fill this out with your family and your answers will range from serious to silly.az
  • Send a holiday care package or letter to a soldier. Many men and women in the military are out of the country and away from their families for Thanksgiving. Any Soldier is an organization that has provided care packages to over 96,000 service members. Check out their website at www.anysoldier.com to see the extensive list of popular items requested my soldiers overseas and thank them for their hard work and dedication to serving our country.
  • Serve Thanksgiving Dinner at a Homeless Shelter. Many donate food to the homeless for the holidays. Lend your hands at a local homeless shelter to prepare, cook, and serve a tasty meal for those in need. To find a shelter in your area, visit this searchable directory at www.homelessshelterdirectory.org. Call your local homeless shelter to see if they’re still accepting volunteers. If not, this deed is something to keep in mind for next year. All shelters are accepting food donations, which could help all those in need too!

What are some of the ways you celebrate Thanksgiving?