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Want to take a family vacation to Sun Valley or Snowbasin?

New for the 2020/21 season, your Vail Resorts Epic Pass takes you even further.

Denver families can take a road trip to explore one of Utah’s best-kept secrets with Snowbasin and the birthplace of North American destination skiing in Sun Valley.

Snowbasin

Snowbasin Resort is a perennial top ten for SKI magazine in categories like dining, service, lifts and grooming. Here’s how that translates: Snowbasin takes care of everything it can control, and Mother Nature does the rest. Snowbasin Resort is under an hour from Salt Lake City International Airport, but is also about 30 minutes from the historic and vibrant Ogden metropolitan area. This is a city with farm-to-table dining, great performing arts and museums, as well as a fervent love for outdoor recreation. It’s stunning to realize Ogden’s backyard includes Snowbasin’s 3,000 vertical feet and 3,000 skiable acres.

Sun Valley

Ranked the #1 Ski Resort by Ski Mag, Sun Valley is the place to be. They have it all – Bald Mountain’s vertical lines, Dollar Mountain’s family-oriented terrain, and limitless backcountry access. Bald Mountain’s 3,400 vertical feet of fall line terrain is complemented by Dollar Mountain’s family-oriented terrain park and limitless backcountry access that has earned the area the moniker “the Alps of America.”  While the mountain is epic, so is the backcountry. Sun Valley is hailed as “Nordic Town USA.” This is some of the best and definitely most immaculately groomed Nordic ski terrain in the US.

The Epic Pass includes 7 days at each, Epic Local 2 days, and a 4-Day or more Epic Day Pass can be used at either resort.

Be sure to check out our family’s adventures in Sun Valley and check back in the spring for details on next year’s Epic Passes!

There’s a pie queen delivering pastries all over Denver – with a side of drag

Martin Howard delivers pies as Chocolatina all over Denver. He calls it a “Party Package,” and it includes two pies, two quiches and one drag queen with a song.

Baking is a little bit science and a little bit rock ’n’ roll  — at least it is for Martin Howard.

“That’s another thing I like about being a chef — you don’t have to have serious hair,” Howard said, as he pressed pie dough into tins while tossing his pink-and-blue-streaked blonde hair. “I’ve never been one for serious hair. Party hair!”

Howard is an award-winning pastry chef who moved to Denver from New York City about 3 1/2 years ago. When the pandemic hit in March, the baker, who was working at a catering company, had to start thinking creatively once events were canceled.

“It’s just so up in the air this catering business, you never know,” Howard said. “The parties cancel real quick, or the numbers drop a lot.”

-Anne Herbst, 9News

Colorado Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” is coming to your TV

The magical spirit of the season comes to life in this acclaimed production and beloved holiday favorite that sells out every year. Tune in to view this special presentation of Colorado Ballet’s The Nutcracker on Rocky Mountain PBS. Join Clara and her army of toy soldiers as they battle the Mouse King and journey to the legendary land of Sweets.

Colorado Ballet’s The Nutcracker premieres on Rocky Mountain PBS on Thanksgiving at 7 pm.

The Nutcracker is Colorado Ballet’s longest-running production and a beloved holiday tradition for countless families. The loss of ticket revenue from this single production is substantial. With the spirit of holiday giving in mind, we ask Colorado Ballet’s patrons and the general arts-loving public to consider making a contribution this holiday season. In light of this need, Colorado Ballet has launched a Relief & Recovery Fund. With a fundraising goal of $3 million, this fund will help to cover a significant portion of the lost ticketing revenue, helping Colorado Ballet to emerge from this crisis as the strong company it has become over the past 60 years. 

View Colorado Ballet’s Relief and Recovery Campaign.

BROADCAST SCHEDULE ON ROCKY MOUNTAIN PBS:

Thursday, Nov. 26 – 7 pm
Friday, Nov. 27 – 3 pm
 
Friday, Dec. 18 – 9 pm
Saturday, Dec. 19 – 1 am

Thursday, Dec. 24 – 7 pm
Friday, Dec. 25 – 12 am

The Best Black Friday, Thanksgiving Meals and Christmas Deals

This will be the first year in recent memory that I won’t be at a store on Black Friday. It will look different – not only have stores been offering some deals for several weeks now, but many stores also will not be pushing sales that bring in crowds of people en masse. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t score some awesome deals. 

Also, don’t miss the 12 Best Denver Restaurants for Thanksgiving Dinner (Dine-in and Take-out) in 2020 and 12 Denver Holiday Markets. 

Some of the Best Deals. While I do tell you of these great deals – in our house, the best deal is always one that stays within your budget or are homemade. That being said, here are some of the best of the best.

·         Target – Family matching pajamas for just $5 per piece. Powerbeats Pro In-Ear are $160 (normally  $420). iRobot Roomba for $180 (normally $250). KitchenAid Pro 500 just $200 (normally $320).

·         Walmart – If you have not already gone to get your FREE Thanksgiving dinner at Walmart in conjunction with Ibotta (download Ibotta to find out more). Walmart will not be short on their TV deals, games and gaming systems that they have become known for.

·         Macy’s – Women’s Leggings just $5. If you wanted that Instant Pot from the last two years – it is 50% off at just $50 (normally $100).

·         Best Buy – Jabra Elite Earbuds are 40% off (two different models). HP Chromebook X360 for $380 (normally $580).

·         HomeDepot – HomeDepot announced their Black Friday deals will be all the way through Christmas. 

Christmas in Color Discount Code.  Looking for something to do with the family this year? What about drive-thru lights display? Yes, drive through millions of lights perfectly synchronized to holiday music you’ll hear right through your radio. Drive-by giant candy canes, snowmen, arched pathways and more. Two locations: Bandimere Speedway and Water World now through December 30. Get a 15% discount code when you type MILEHIGHMAMAS at checkout. 

The Curtis Hotel Black Friday Deal. If this year’s Black Friday is not all about shopping – it is still about deals. This amazing deal from Denver’s top retro-chic hotel The Curtis may be the one for you.  The unique property is offering discounted rates aligned with the Mile High elevation level – 5,280 feet. Locals and travelers can book a stay starting at $52.80 a night for a limited number of rooms. The discounted room rates will be live from Black Friday on November 27 through Cyber Monday on November 30. Rooms can be booked online HERE.

Gaylord Rockies Christmas. While not likely the least expensive thing to do this holiday season, but certain one that offers a lot of fun to the kids and an opportunity to get out and enjoy the holiday – Gaylord Rockies presents, “I Love Christmas Movies” an interactive fun zone. Tickets are normally $24.95 for adults and $13.99 for kids (aged 4 to 11). There is as Groupon offer for 20% off tickets.

Panera Coffee Subscription. Sign up for Panera+ (normally $8.99/month) and get unlimited premium coffee through the end of the year. Redeem the unlimited coffee offer on regular, dark roast, hazelnut, iced coffee or hot tea. As they say – your cup is always full. Use code FREETIL2021

Treasure Box Tours. Do you have someone that is a bit difficult to buy for? Try Treasure Boxes, subscription box-style kits featuring self-guided day-tour packets and, to accompany adventurers on the journeys, snacks and souvenirs from Colorado businesses. They are offering 20% off whey you buy it this weekend (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday) and use TBTSALE20 at checkout.

 StanleyDelivers.com for Stanley Marketplace. Stanley Marketplace is a lot of small businesses dependent on shoppers for their unique gifts, apparel, accessories, home décor, specialty foods and more. With StanleyDelivers.com you can have the items delivered via electric mini-truck if you are within a 10-mile radius (or shipped to you if you are outside of that 10 mile range). This is the most pro-local anti-Amazon thing you can do!

Hallmark Gratitude Pack.  Hallmark continues to show us the love so we can in turn show the love. They are offering another free three-pack of cards (they did this early in the pandemic). This pack is focused on saying a giant thank you and you’re awesome to teachers. To get your free pack click here.

 

Guide to Skiing Colorado in 2020/21: Updates, tips and COVID precautions for a memorable family vacation

As snow blankets Colorado’s high-country, Vail Resorts and Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) member ski areas are excited to welcome guests back to the slopes for the 2020-21 winter season. While many things in our lives are different, what guests have come to love about skiing and snowboarding will be refreshingly the same this season. The fresh, crisp mountain air and stunning scenery as well as the world-class terrain and world-class guest service Colorado is known for will be ready for guests to enjoy on a pair of skis or snowboard this winter.

Over the summer and fall, Colorado’s ski areas have been tirelessly working with local and state officials to prepare for the 2020-21 winter season.  Guests should visit ski area websites, social media and other channels to ensure they have the most up-to-date information on any COVID-19 protocols and understand what is expected during their visit. 

Many ski areas will be requiring the prepurchase of lift tickets, ski school reservations, rentals and other activities and guests should check with the ski area they plan to visit before and leading up to their arrival. Ski parties will be allowed to load lifts and gondolas together at full capacity. Parties that are not together will have at least one seat between them on lifts. Up to two unrelated parties can load a gondola together up to 50 percent capacity. Parties that are uncomfortable riding with other parties will be allowed to ride as a single party.

Ski school classes will be limited to under 10 and most ski areas will limit classes sizes to between four and six and offer half-day lessons. Ski areas will be following state and local guidance for indoor spaces, lodging, transportation and other activities where appropriate. Guests who are experiencing symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 are asked to self-isolate and delay their trip.

Below is a summary of Vail Resorts and CSCUSA member ski areas announced plans for the winter and the many resort improvements for the 2020-21 winter season. Check with each individual resort regarding purchasing tickets and COVID restrictions. 

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

Arapahoe Basin will not require reservations for season pass holders and will have contactless skiosks in the base area where guests can pick up pre-purchased daily lift tickets, which will be required. To go food and beverage options will be the norm and the Beach will remain closed until further notice. Indoor facilities are open for bathroom use or to purchase food only. Guests should plan to boot and gear up at their car with no personal locker use available. Guests are encouraged to avoid weekends when possible, enjoy afternoon skiing and avoid historically busy days. Specific COVID-19 information can be found here. New for the 2020-21 season, Arapahoe Basin replaced two of its lifts: Molly Hogan, serving the learning area, and Pallavicini, serving some of A-Basin’s most famous, expert terrain. A-Basin also added RFID pass scanning technology. For additional information, visit www.arapahoebasin.com.

Aspen Snowmass

Aspen Snowmass will sell tickets onsite at lift ticket windows, but pre-purchasing online is highly suggested to guarantee access. Rental, retail stores and restaurants will have capacity limitations to maintain social distancing in accordance with state and local guidelines. Additional outdoor dining and grab and go options will be available across all four mountains and guests can use the Aspen Snowmass app to order food to go. Aspen Snowmass passholders do not need a reservation at this time, but Ikon pass holders will need to make a reservation before their visit. The Aspen Highlands snowcat will not be operating this winter. Specific COVID-19 information can be found here.

New for winter 2020-21, Aspen Snowmass has replaced the quad Big Burn lift at Snowmass with a new $10.8 million high-speed six-passenger lift. At Aspen Mountain, 28 new state-of-the art energy-efficient snowmaking guns will allow for top-to-bottom snowmaking for the first time this winter. Snowmass will also welcome snowmaking to 28 acres, offering more reliable early season skiing and riding conditions. Two new restaurants, High Alpine and Alpin Room, replace longtime Snowmass favorite Gwyn’s offering market-style options at High Alpine and sit-down dining, including breakfast, at Alpin Room. For additional information, visit www.aspensnowmass.com.

Beaver Creek Resort

Beaver Creek might be best known for its World Cup pedigree and stellar children’s ski and snowboard school, but the most adventurous guests will delight in the seemingly endless glade skiing to be found. While locals may argue there are plenty of secret spots on main mountain, Bachelor Gulch is where the real fun begins. The tree skiing both off of Overshot as well as Aspen Alley (just to name a few) is where powder stashes can be found for days following a storm cycle. Rather than give them all away here, they truly must be explored, and experienced, in-person. For additional information, visit www.beavercreek.com.

Breckenridge Ski Resort

Escape it all at Breck by trekking to the resort’s highest peaks where unobstructed views and untracked turns often await atop Peaks 6, 7 and 8. Ride the Imperial Express, North America’s highest chairlift, and follow the boot pack up to nearly 13,000 feet above sea level to the famed Lake Chutes where the views, steeps and altitude will literally take your breath away. Or, hike out and up to the top of Peak 7 Bowl. While it may be hard to pass the allure of dropping into Whale’s Tail, travel a little further and you’ll be rewarded with steep, wide-open turns on runs like Y Chutes, CJ’s and Magic Carpet. If you’re up for a slightly longer hike, don’t miss Peak 6’s Beyond Bowl, Serenity Bowl and Six Senses.  For additional information, visit www.breckenridge.com.

 Cooper Chicago Ridge

Cooper will feature several new food and beverage outlets for winter 2020-21 including a pizzeria at Katie O’Rourke’s, a new grill on the base area deck, the Shamrock Snack Shack and the revamped Base Camp Cafeteria offering grab and go options. These new options will help lunchtime flow more smoothly. Also new this year is streamlined access with the Cooper Port of Entry, which all daily guests will need to enter for mountain access. Once a guest has entered, they will rarely need to scan tickets again, reducing contact and improving mountain access. For more information, visit www.skicooper.com.

 Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain will be implementing a parking reservation system this winter to help manage volume at the resort. Guests can book up to seven advanced reservation days throughout the season beginning November 9 and once the season begins make an unlimited number of reservations within a rolling 7-day window. As advance days are used, guests will be able to book additional advance days. Copper will open on November 30, to ensure that more acreage and lifts will be available on opening day. Copper’s three villages and naturally divided terrain will allow guests to spread out on the mountain and in base areas. Specific COVID-19 information can be found here.

 A new 127-room, four-story hotel will open at Copper in late 2020. Element 29 is located in Center Village allowing guests optimal access to the slopes, activities and dining outlets in the Village. The hotel will also feature an outdoor patio nestled along West Ten Mile Creek complete with fire pits and hot tubs. This season, Copper has also installed additional snowmaking compressors which will allow more snow-guns to be used during early season snowmaking operations. For additional information, visit www.coppercolorado.com.

Crested Butte Resort

Traveling to Crested Butte in itself is an exercise in getting off the beaten path, but CBMR also lets you spread far and wide across the mountain’s 1,547 acres. Want to escape from others or explore the natural environment? It’s easy. Bask in the views of the surrounding Elk Mountains from the top of Painter Boy Lift, but to venture even farther from the front side, take a cruise to Gold Link Lift. Not only can you soak in the scenery, but you might find a couple powder of stashes remaining near the trees along the side of Elko Park or Panion’s Run. Or get a taste for some of Crested Butte’s less traveled signature steeps by taking a lap through Teocalli Bowl off the High Lift. But for the ultimate Crested Butte experience, hike to the peak for 360-degree views from 12,162 feet above sea level before descending 3,062 vertical feet from the summit. For more information, visit www.skicb.com.

 Echo Mountain Resort

Echo Mountain does not have a reservation system planned for this winter, but online ticket purchases will be required in advance of a visit. Parking will be staggered to provide adequate space for guests and rentals will require a reservation online in advance. Specific COVID-19 information can be found here. For additional information, visit www.echomountainresort.com.

 Eldora Mountain Resort

Eldora will be implementing a parking reservation system this season to help manage access at the ski area. Guests can make up to seven reservations throughout the season beginning November 9 and once a day has been used an additional day can be booked for the upcoming seven-day period. Touchless transactions will be available for all food, beverage and retail purchases. Specific COVID-19 information can be found here. For additional information, visit www.eldora.com.

 Granby Ranch

New this winter, the Granby Ranch Patriot Pass offers all active duty US military members complimentary skiing and snowboarding at Granby Ranch. Granby Ranch will be making improvements to the guest experience with a major overhaul of the snowmaking system to ensure a better early-season experience. Also new this year is overhauled pass pricing with season passes priced at $344 and the new 3-Day Pack for $88. For more information, visit www.granbyranch.com.

Hesperus

Hesperus will announce additional COVID-19 specific policies closer to its expected opening date in mid-to-late December weather permitting. For more information, visit www.ski-hesperus.com.

Howelsen Hill

Howelsen’s lodge will be open for food and ticket purchases, but guests will not be allowed to consume food, hang out or congregate inside the lodge this season. Howelsen will have several outdoor warming huts this winter for guests to utilize and an outside lift ticket window to ensure social distancing. Specific COVID-19 information can be found here.  Howelsen Hill is the oldest continually operating ski area in North America and will be celebrating its 105th year of operation this season. Howelsen Hill will continue its popular Ski Free Sunday program again this season, with free skiing/riding every Sunday beginning November 29. For additional information, visit www.steamboatsprings.net/ski.

Keystone Resort

At Keystone Resort, kids have no age limit. It is a place where play is the root of all good, and play is for everyone. Keystone is a family playground where kids of all ages can discover the magic of playing in the mountains. Located in Summit County, Colo. and just 75 miles west of Denver, the resort boasts more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain including three incredible peaks, five above-tree-line bowls, night skiing, snow tubing, ice skating and more. Home to the industry’s-leading Kids Ski Free offer, kids 12 and younger can ski and ride for free every day, all season long with just two or more nights of lodging booked through the resort beginning December 8. Convenient touches like a Family Ski Trail, designated free family parking, and complimentary red wagons for carrying gear and excited kiddos, makes playing as a family easier. 

 Loveland Ski Area

Loveland will offer one of the longest seasons in the state, an average of 400 inches of snow and affordable ticket, rental and lesson options, but there will be operational changes. Guests will be required to prepurchase lift tickets, rental equipment and Ski & Ride School lessons online prior to arrival. The Ridge Cat, Loveland’s free snowcat service, will not operate this winter, but the terrain served by the cat will be open with hike-to access. On-mountain cabins and the Loveland Child Care Center will be closed. Specific COVID-19 information can be found here. For additional information, visit www.skiloveland.com.

 Monarch Mountain

At Monarch, in-person lift ticket sales will not be available on weekends or from December 19, 2020 through January 3, 2021 and guests are encouraged to prepurchase tickets online. Guests are asked to avoid weekends, historically busy peak times and be a weekday warrior. Childcare services and locker access will not be available this winter. The Gunbarrel Cafeteria will have grab and go options available and a new food truck, Fly-by Burritos, is available for outdoor food service. Specific COVID-19 information can be found here. For additional information, visit www.skimonarch.com. 

Powderhorn Resort

This winter Powderhorn will be prioritizing pass holders and may limit the number of daily lift ticket sales dependent on local county restrictions. Rentals and lessons will need to be reserved online in advance. Food and beverage services will include online ordering, grab-and-go and outdoor dining. Specific COVID-19 information can be found here. New for winter 2020-21, Powderhorn will welcome a new gravity-fed snowmaking system that will offer top-to-bottom snowmaking for the first time in the ski area’s history. Since it is gravity driven, it will be one of the most energy-efficient snowmaking operations in North America. For more information, visit www.powderhorn.com.

 Purgatory Resort

Purgatory will feature additional drop off areas and a general admission plaza where guests will need to be scanned once upon entry and not in each lift line for guest convenience and guest and employee safety. There will also be online food and beverage ordering options. Additional specific COVID-19 information can be found here. This winter Purgatory will have three new snowcats to maintain groomed terrain reliably as well as new energy-efficient snowmaking guns that will give snowmaking operations nearly double the snow production power during the early season. For more information, visit www.purgatory.ski.  

 Silverton Mountain

Silverton Mountain will welcome a new reservations platform for 2020-21 reservations and will continue its daily reservation system that guests are accustomed to using. The new platform will help further streamline the reservation process and help provide the most elbow room on the slopes with more than 26,000 acres of skiable terrain. For more information, visit www.silvertonmountain.com.

 Steamboat

Steamboat is not requiring reservations for pass holders at this time. Advanced purchase lift tickets, packages, and season pass products are the only way to access the mountain currently. Lift tickets will not be available for purchase at the resort ticket office. Stand-alone lift tickets will not be available for purchase between December 23 and January 2. Reservations for ski and ride school, rentals, some restaurants and free clinics are required. Night skiing will only be available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Steamboat will also feature two unique outdoor dining options, welcoming back the roaming Taco Beast as well as the brand-new Pizza Ranger, which will offer a pizza delivery option in the Bashor area. First tracks will also start earlier this year at 7:45 am to help spread guests out and additional skier drop off locations will be available. Specific COVID-19 information can be found here.  For additional information, visit www.steamboat.com.

 Sunlight Mountain Resort

Sunlight will feature new grab and go dining options as well as reconfigured base food stations to maintain physical distancing. Sunlight suggests that your car become ‘base camp’ for you and your family. Specific COVID-19 information can be found here. New this season, a fresh coat of paint inside and out will greet guests at the base lodge. For additional information, visit www.sunlightmtn.com.

 Telluride Ski Resort

Telluride will feature 20 refurbished gondolas offering dining options in Mountain Village as well as an expanded yurt and outdoor dining services across the mountain. Specific COVID-19 information can be found here.  Telluride will welcome new air service this winter with Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue adding flights into Montrose Regional Airport (MJT) starting in mid-December. Southwest will fly 2-3 times daily from Denver (DEN) and Saturdays and Sundays from Dallas Love Field (DAL). Jet Blue will operate from Boston Logan Airport (BOS) on Saturdays and select Wednesdays during the season. For additional information, visit www.tellurideskiresort.com. 

Vail Ski Resort

No other resort will allow you to escape from reality like Vail Mountain, where with 5,317 acres of skiable terrain, skiers can truly feel worlds away and completely immersed in nature. In Vail’s expansive Back Bowls, the views (and the powder!) are absolutely limitless. Want to go the extra distance to find your own secret stash? Make the trek out to Outer Mongolia Bowl, at the very Eastern edge of Vail’s vast terrain. Not many skiers make the traverse, so you’ll often have the rolling fields of snow and stunning quiet all to yourself. Beyond the legendary Back Bowls, Blue Sky Basin is no less than 7 miles away from Vail’s base area, and thus feels like a true remote backcountry ski experience. Enjoy the huge outdoor space at Belle’s Camp, where skiers can take a break and relax under bluebird skies with stunning views of the nearby Mount of the Holy Cross, one of Colorado’s tallest peaks. For beginner skiers, take a moment to relax on the peaceful Timberline Catwalk in Northwoods, where the glistening snow on the trees surrounds skiers like a magical wood. To allow for physical distancing, access to the mountain will be managed through a reservation system that prioritizes pass holders and limits the sale of lift tickets. For additional information, visit www.vail.com.

Winter Park Resort

New this winter is a mid-week pass that gives guests unlimited access on non-holiday Mondays-Fridays through the season starting at $539 for adults and $299 for children. Winter Park is not requiring reservations at this time. All rentals, lessons, activities and tours will need to be pre-booked in advance of arrival. Winter Park is also working to create as many contactless options as possible in all restaurants and retail areas. Specific COVID-19 information can be found here. For additional information, visit www.winterparkresort.com.

 

A cancer diagnosis and the man who changed our lives forever #givethanks

My husband Jamie had recently graduated from college and had started his own consulting firm when a lump starting forming on his neck. It disappeared after a week but night-sweats and flu-like symptoms emerged. And then the lump returned.
 
He tried a few home remedies to no avail and finally sought medical attention. After Jamie described his symptoms, the doctor said, “I think it could be either mono or cancer. And I don’t think it is cancer.”
 
He was wrong.
 
Jamie was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease, cancer of the lymph nodes. When detected early, the survival rate is 80%. Like all cancers, a later-stage prognosis is deadly. He was single, without insurance and living in Utah, far away from his family.
 
His doctor told him to apply for Medicare. He was initially denied. Miraculously, he was eventually able to get on programs for which she should not have qualified and his medical expenses were covered.
 
But then came his personal expenses. No longer able to work, Jamie faced a very bleak, daunting future. Amidst all this turmoil, he received a call from Tom Sawyer, an influential local businessman. Tom had risen above a horrific childhood to play football for LSU, become an engineer, work on the Eagle Lander for NASA, and by accident got into politics and landed in the White House as a trusted aide for Presidents Nixon and Reagan.
 
He is also a cancer survivor.
 
Jamie had met him only once before as they both assisted their Japanese friend Yodi with becoming an American citizen.
 
Tom invited Jamie to his office and upon arrival said, “Jamie, let me be straight with you. I hear you need some help. Tell me about your situation.” Jamie reluctantly divulged his circumstances, to which Tom queried, “How much do you need to get through the next month?”
 
Initially, Jamie refused but then realized this was an answer to prayers and he gave him a number. Tom told him to come by his office the next day and he would give him a check. The next day, Jamie showed up and Tom handed him a check for twice the amount they had discussed. Jamie pointed this out to him and he brusquely said, “Yeah, I know.”
 
The pattern persisted. Each month, Tom called Jamie to his office. Each conversation ended the same: “Come into my office tomorrow and I will have a check waiting for you.” This lasted the duration of his chemotherapy and radiation treatments and Jamie’s cancer has never returned.
 
This year, I have had many moments of serious refection as people very close to me have suffered deeply. With immense gratitude, I have looked at my life, my marriage, my children, my home. I have looked at the path we have taken. It has rarely been smooth or perfect. Times may be tough but we are fortunate to not be riddled with debt and recognize the miracles we have experienced to bring us where we are today.
 
This holiday season as millions of people #GiveThanks and celebrate the prospect of a new year with new beginnings, I am grateful for the man who gave us ours.
 
-Amber Borowksi Johnson
 

A Way to Give Back While Staying Home This Holiday Season

As we continue to think of new ways to celebrate and come together this holiday season, the act of giving back to our community feels even trickier. However, families can volunteer together in their own homes by decorating meal bags for the local non-profit, Project Angel Heart. Decorating meal bags is a great way to introduce kids to the ideas of volunteerism and philanthropy.

Project Angel Heart, a Colorado-based agency, prepares and delivers medically tailored meals to people living with life-threatening illnesses. Each week, their professional chefs and registered dietitian prepare thousands of meals, from scratch, and tailor them to meet the medical and dietary needs of those who are ill. Project Angel Heart generally uses about 1,600 meal bags every week to deliver more than 10,000 meals to around 1,300 Coloradans in need.

The focus at Project Angel Heart is on improving health and nutrition, but they’ve always worked hard to make sure there’s plenty of “heart” in the work they do. Most of their clients are extremely ill and, as a result, they’re often isolated. The volunteer delivering their meal bag may be the only person they see some weeks. The artwork on the meal bags is a way to bring a little cheer into their lives. It’s a good reminder to the clients that people care.

Not everyone has the time to volunteer in the Project Angel Heart kitchen or deliver meals. But decorating meal bags is something that anybody can do, and it can be a fun, interactive group activity for families. Bag decorating started many years ago when a volunteer group showed up and there weren’t have enough tasks for them in the kitchen. The group was put to work decorating meal bags. Clients loved the decorated bags, and a tradition was born. Many clients write or call to share how much they enjoy seeing different the bag designs each week. 

Meal bags can be picked up at the Project Angel Heart offices, decorated offsite, then returned to the offices. All ages may participate. Project Angel Heart offers a no-contact bag pickup and drop-off process at their offices in Denver and Colorado Springs. This is a great way to introduce volunteers of all ages and abilities to the service provided by Project Angel Heart and have a positive impact on the lives of meal recipients.

Please visit Project Angel Heart to learn more about this volunteer opportunity including specific instructions for picking up and dropping off meal bags and bag decoration guidelines.

Colorado Gift Guide: 75 Best Gifts for 2020

If loved ones can’t come home for the holidays this season, send a bit of Colorado love to them. Destinations across the state have launched “shop local” campaigns and this year, shoppers can find a campaign near them on a shareable map presented by the Colorado Small Business Development Center and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Communities across the state, from Limon to Durango and from Snowmass to Fort Collins, are taking part in a shop local campaign, and each community offers a variety of local holiday gift offerings. 

Why shop local? Shopping locally is one of the best ways to help Colorado’s economy during the pandemic. In fact, when shoppers buy $100 locally, $70 stays in the community by increasing employment, supporting the purchasing power of hometown workers and generating tax revenue to fund quality-of-life initiatives like local infrastructure improvements, public education and emergency response.

For the Foodie:

From the chocolate connoisseur to the aspiring chef, the four-cornered state boasts a ton of options for those who want a taste of Colorado from home. Uncorked Kitchen’s fabulous classes have turned virtual with online cooking classes.  A unique idea comes from the eastern plains, where Lebanese-owned Scaff Brothers handcrafts a mild salsa with cantaloupe grown from the region. For the passionate carnivore, Sweetwood Smokehouse Jerky produces a slow-smoked, double-wide fatty jerky stick that’s a far cry from those sold in most stores today. Nuance Chocolate is a bean-to-bar chocolatier with a wide range of cocoa-based products made by admittedly certified chocoholics. Those with a sweet tooth will also get a kick out of Enstom’s toffee, which has been hand made with only the finest, freshest ingredients since 1960. Helliemae’s Caramels has perfected a Sea Salt Caramel that satisfies both salt and sweet cravings. The home bartender in your life will surely love The Real Dill’s Bloody Mary Mix, which uses cucumber-infused water—a byproduct of their pickling process—as its star ingredient. And for the home cook who likes to sprinkle in some history, the Anasazi bean is an heirloom-variety legume that comes out of an agricultural plateau in Western Colorado, once home to thousands of Anasazi Indians who cultivated the bean.

(Enstom’s toffee)

For the Craft Libations Lover:

Get your loved ones something they can toast with time and time again. Ciders are a must for the season, and Bigs B’s is an orchard that has made its way into the hard cider industry before it was cool. The Family Jones has a limited edition Whiskey package that includes two 750ml bottles of American and straight rye whiskey, along with two more bottles of ready-to-pour cocktail classics distilled in Colorado. If your loved ones rather go for clear, get them a bottle of award-winning vodka from the Rising Sun Distillery, the state’s only Black-owned and organic distillery. Colorado is known for CBD, and Dram Apothecary’s Adaptogenic CBD Sparkling Water is a perfect beverage for someone who wants all the chill and none of the hangover. For wine lovers, Colterris Wines and the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey make great Centennial State-grown varietals. If they’re in it for the experience, a virtual wine tasting with Blanchard Family Wines is a great option. To give the gift of a fine brew, wrap up a six-pack from Dos Luces, a Hispanic-owned brewery with award-winning corn-based beers. Bring the Denver happy hour experience home with the Happy Hour Handbooka new compilation of appetizer and cocktail recipes from bartenders and chefs at Denver’s most renowned and beloved bars and restaurants that will also receive the proceeds from the book sales.

(Big B’s)

For the Adventurer:

What makes a better gift for the outdoor enthusiast than gear from the outdoor adventure epicenter?  Adventurist Backpack Co. is a new, quickly growing brand that designs minimalist backpacks, with a cause. For every backpack sold, they provide 25 meals to families in need across the U.S. Perfect for a day of play in Snow’s Perfect State, or being used as an everyday face covering, Knotty Tie has an array of neck gaiters that are ethically made in Denver. If keeping warm is the name of the game, get them Colorado-based clothing from Voormi, a premium outdoor apparel brand built for the road less traveled. If your loved one is hitting the slopes, a pair of Grass Sticks custom handmade poles with Colorado-made Wagner Skis might be the perfect gift to get them on their way. Need something indestructible? Consider protecting their gear with Otterbox antimicrobial products. Of course, this holiday, everyone is looking to get back to doing the things we love – safely, of course. Friction Labs recently developed its Secret Stuff Hygienic Liquid Chalk for climbers, made with a base proven by CU Anschutz to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 and keep hands drier, for longer. Wrap up The Hidden Life Around Us, a book with endless Colorado photography to bring a piece of the state home. For those who cannot make it to Colorado this winter, give the gift of backcountry knowledge with a free avalanche awareness course offered online by the Colorado Mountain School or give a fly membership with hand-tied flies from nonprofit Fishing the Good Fight, which leverages the proven therapeutic benefits of fly fishing to raise money for men’s mental health organizations.

(Adventurist Backpack Co.)

For the Health and Wellness Guru: 

Can’t make it to one of the many hot springs throughout Colorado? Worry not. The healing minerals of the world’s deepest hot spring, Pagosa Hot Springs, has been captured in the form of bath salts and sprays for home enjoyment. Carbondale-based Osmia is a clean beauty, woman-owned company with beautiful gifts that use all organic and Colorado ingredients. For the skincare obsessed, send them a bottle of a consciously crafted elixir made by Apothecary Company, owned by a holistic aesthetician who makes her products in small batches out of Loveland. Score goat milk soap, bath bombs, bubble bath and even CBD bath bombs from none other than Goat’s Goods, a made-in-Steamboat family-run business. For those tea lovers, Boulder’s famous Dushanbe Tea House is offering loose-leaf teas packaged in a tin modeled after the teahouse’s colorful and intricate ceiling.

Apothecary Company)

For the Arts and Makers Enthusiasts:

Support local makers and give a one-of-a-kind gift this holiday season. Have your loved one shine with a made-by-hand jewelry piece from Avery Lee Design. Know a coffee lover? What better way to enjoy your morning sip than out of a handcrafted mug from Love Emma Ceramics. Send them a design-forward letter from Inky Tomato Letterpress. If your loved one likes a challenge, Liberty Puzzles creates handmade wooden puzzles of Colorado’s most iconic mountain ranges – the Flatirons in Boulder and Aspen’s Maroon Bells (or get one custom-made). Need more ideas? Studio8369 in Grand Lake sells Colorado art, photography, pottery, gourd art, sculptures and so much more. Artisans of Mancos is an artist-owned and managed cooperative featuring 20 artists, who have an array of hand-crafted items such as jewelry, leather items, calligraphy and stained glass. For the makers themselves, give the gift of an innovations studios virtual art workshop from the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass.

(Liberty Puzzles)

For the Fashion Forward:

For the fashionistas in your life, get them a custom, quality-made Kemo Sabe fedora to top off their outfits. Royal Stag, a family-owned business, also makes high-quality hats honoring the traditional craftsmanship of the past, but with an eye towards the current generation of style-makers. Denver-based CoFi Leathers offers a Mollie Crossbody convertible clutch that is unique, practical and print can even be tailored to fit the exact style of your loved one. Western Rise offers versatile men’s clothing from high-quality materials for optimum performance, no matter the weather, season or occasion, and its holiday sale is on now. Rockmount Ranch Wear knows the West isn’t just a place but a state of mind, and one you can share with the western wear enthusiast on your list. Rockmount’s iconic snap button shirts have been featured in movies from The Misfits to Brokeback Mountain and the classic bandanas can make a fashion statement as a face covering.

(Royal Stag)

Indecisive? Give a Taste of Colorado With a Unique Gift Box:

Not sure what to get them? Not a problem. Transport friends and family to a “Higher State of Mind” with a gastronomical box from Blanco Cellars and Little Cheese Shop, which includes a variety of Colorado-made spirits, cheeses and more. Woman-owned and family-run, Mulay’s Sausage Specialty Gift Boxes offers a package that includes a wide variety of premium Colorado sausages and meatballs for meat lovers. Cured, Boulder’s specialty grocer and cheese shop, offers a Colorado gift box with craft products from all four corners of the state, and includes yummy cheeses, salami, crackers, peach-jalapeno preserves, hot sauce, pickled beans and chocolate. Colorado Crafted is a modern alternative to traditional gift baskets and offers collections of high-quality Colorado-made souvenirs, gourmet foods and artisan gifts packaged in a stylish box or tote.

(Colorado Crafted)

Holiday Markets (both in-person and virtual):

Holiday markets abound for Coloradans and out-of-staters via new virtual market offerings. Head to Durango for their socially-distanced Winter Solstice Artisan’s Market to cross off those hard-to-gift loved ones off your list. Leadville and Twin Lakes is offering an online Holiday Marketplace from Nov. 20 to Dec. 23 that features local artists, businesses and nonprofits. Support farmers and all things agricultural, by heading over to the ECAA Community Market to get a few food items shipped to you for your holiday dinners. A two-day virtual extravaganza will celebrate the best of Southern Colorado creatives, makers and artisans at Pueblo’s Holiday Bazaar. Visit Fort Collins recently launched an ecommerce site to drive holiday sales to local businesses, in addition to hosting a three-day virtual Makers Market. Denver’s best flea market, Horseshoe Market, is now digitized and features over 100 local entrepreneurs with items available by just the click of a button. Also, be sure to check-out High Mamas’ 12 Denver Holiday Markets You Don’t Want to Miss.

Give the Gift of a Safe, Self Guided or Private Colorado Experience:

For a unique experiential gift, Bridgestone’s Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs is the most fun you’ll have on ice. Designed with public health in mind, Treasure Box Tours is a Denver-based tour company that offers boxed kits that include a self-guided day-tour packet with snacks and souvenirs from Colorado businesses. Rent your own private hot spring and spend time soaking with a loved one at Mount Princeton Hot Springs. Households who would like a break from the everyday routine can safely roadtrip through the state via their very own 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter van rental from Aspen Custom Vans. Or see spectacular views of the Continental Divide and Byers Peak Wilderness from above on a socially-distant balloon tour from Grand Adventure Balloon. Need to keep the kids busy? Get a three-hour VIP tour of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to get one-on-one time with the zoo’s friendliest animals. Create your own private speakeasy with your household at Marble Distilling, an award-winning, sustainable distillery that’s female-founded. For the thrill-seeker, gift a Breathtaker Alpine Coaster ticket that’ll take riders through over a mile of forest at about 28 MPH on an elevated coaster track. The ultimate socially distant experience can be had with the Colorado Cross Country Ski Association’s season punch pass that provides 18 trail passes at ten resorts and Nordic centers across Colorado.

(Bridgestone Winter Driving School)

To view a shareable map of Colorado businesses presented by the Colorado Small Business Development Center and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, visit coloradosbdc.org/shop-local.

Creating Your Own At-Home Fitness Class

A recent report showed that nearly 60 percent of Americans say they don’t plan on renewing their gym membership once the COVID-19 pandemic passes, proving that the at-home workout craze is more like the new standard than a fleeting fad. We’ve seen the digital and home-based fitness market explode right before our eyes in the past several months, with more options and alternatives than ever before. That’s great, of course, but for many of us, all the choices can also feel a bit overwhelming.

Miss Fitness Classes? Us, Too

On top of that, if you’re one of the many millions of Americans who find working out as part of a group to be the most enjoyable and motivating, you may feel quite uninspired with just your jump rope and laptop in the living room. Others feel that classes are the easiest way to stay fit because they come with the guided, hands-on help of a professional. Luckily, with the advent of some awesome new fitness games and the following great ideas, you can reignite the same incredible feeling you get from going to your favorite fitness class right from the comfort of home.

Here are a few things to do if you want to start your own at-home class:

  • Create a Class Schedule — One of the reasons why classes tend to be so motivating is because they fall on specific days at specific times. There’s no flexibility or temptation to switch things around. This eliminates the stress of planning and decision making and also helps you make a workout a priority rather than something you just squeeze in where you can. Make your schedule and stick to it, but give yourself the freedom to reschedule if needed on occasion. After all, you’re the boss of your own home gym!
  • Invite Friends or Family Members — One of the best parts of a gym class is the social component. Working out in a group is proven to be more motivating and research shows that working out in a group lowers stress and improves quality of life more than working out alone. While now’s not the time to pack into a germ-riddled fitness studio, that doesn’t mean you can’t invite over a few close friends, family members or neighbors to join your class. Just remember to:
    • Keep it small, no more than five or six participants.
    • Stay outside and make sure everyone stays at least six feet apart.
    • Ask friends to wear a mask when socializing after class or if they need to go into your home to use the bathroom or get a drink.
    • Keep the group within your small social circle (no friends of friends).
    • Ask friends to bring their own water, yoga mat and equipment.
  • Choose One or Two Fitness Platforms — Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of digital workout platforms on the market today. Give yourself time to research and try a few different options before settling on one or two that suit your needs. Having too many memberships — both free and paid — can be distracting and can cause you to waste time deciding how to spend your workout time when you could be using that time to actually be working out!
  • Develop a Class Format — Whether you want to develop a DIY bootcamp from scratch or simply create a communal yoga space in your backyard, you want to create a consistent format that helps keep things organized. For example, consider the following formats for standard 60-minute at-home classes:
    • Classic Bootcamp: 10-minute warmup; 20 minutes of cardio; 20 minutes of bodyweight training or weight lifting; 10-minute cooldown.
    • Restorative Yoga: 10-minute warmup; 30-minute restorative yoga class on your preferred video platform; 10 minutes of savasana; 10 minutes of meditation.
    • HIIT Training: 10-minute warmup; 45 minutes of various HIIT exercises at two rounds of 50 seconds each; 5-minute cooldown.
    • Mix and Match: 10-minute warmup; 20 minutes of a fitness dance video; 20 minutes of a strength-training video; 10-minute cooldown.
    • Cardio Yoga and Strength: 10-minute warmup; 20-minute vinyasa yoga class; 20-minute yoga for strength class; 10 minutes of savasana.
    • All-Out Cardio: 10-minute warmup; 20-minute jog; 20 minutes of mixed cardio, such as jump-roping or hip-hop dancing; 10-minute cooldown.
  • Mix Things Up — While all of the above are simple formats anyone can create with virtually no special equipment besides maybe some free weights and a jump rope, they may get a tad stale over time. To prevent things from getting boring, be sure to incorporate fun, unexpected exercise elements into your classes. For example, we love CROSSNET, a four square and volleyball hybrid that’s perfect for your homegrown pandemic class because it can be set up in the yard or on the beach and can be played by four-plus players at a time. You may also want to consider switching up your location from time to time just to get a fresh change of scenery.
  • Consider Investing in Gym Equipment — If you intend to keep your gym class solo, you may want to look at the various new at-home gym options on the market. Whether it be a treadmill, a punching bag, a stationary bike or a mirror with built-in workouts, today’s new-fangled equipment is all digitally connected, which means you can simply hop on and jump into preset classes with other virtual participants.
  • Sign Up for Digital Workout Classes — You don’t need fancy equipment to sign up for most fitness classes, either. If you’re more of a minimalist, check out the many amazing new digital platforms that provide access to online classes with simple gear like a laptop and yoga mat. These classes require virtually no thinking on your behalf, so they’re perfect for those who just want to dive in without a ton of effort.

Working out at home doesn’t have to be basic or boring. On the contrary! With the right approach and the right attitude, you can turn your living room or backyard into a full-fledged studio that rivals the very best fitness hotspots.

In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

Pandemic Parenting is No Joke

Pandemic parenting’s no joke. But there’s still little bits of gold in this dark mineshaft that COVID has forced us into.

That mineshaft – our world – is smaller now. With less in the outside, we’ve turned inward, toward the people we live with.

It can be as intense as an overstuffed oven. I’ve had a parent-kid conversation that started talking about koalas that ended in a screaming match that might’ve set off the Richter scale.

And there is no “new normal.” One “new normal” would’ve been great. We’re on like our fourth or fifth “new normal” at this point.

I still remember March when our daughter came home with her entire bag stuffed with all her schoolbooks. Not lots of school books. Not most schoolbooks. All her schoolbooks. Watching her nearly buckle under that enormous load was all the sign I needed that we’d all be struggling for a while.

The other day my younger daughter got in a fight with her sister, went to her room, slammed the door. Annoyed at the racket, I followed her in.

 

 

 

 Matt Cavanaugh, CPR