BackCountry Blog

Tidy up for a February Freshening

Spring is nigh, and that usually means spring cleaning isn’t too far down on your to-do list. As February weather tends to keep you indoors anyway, this would be a good time of year to give your house a full, deep clean.

If you need a little motivation, sometimes it helps to just pick one project – like cleaning out your pantry, to get you started. Once you begin, you can keep that momentum going into cleaning and organizing the rest of the kitchen and then eventually move on to other rooms.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

DECLUTTER ALL OF IT

Start by getting rid of magazines, books, clothes, papers, desk supplies, boxes, throws, toys, equipment, and anything else that takes up counter space or floor space. Find a place for it or toss it – just get it out of the way. If you need inspiration, give Marie Kondo’s Netflix special a try and start sparking joy around the house.

START HIGH, END LOW

Like any major project, you need to have a plan. We recommend that you start high – as in the ceilings, light fixtures, window treatments, and hard-to-reach places, and then work your way down to the floors. As you’re cleaning higher-up places, dirt and grime can drift downward. And when you dust cabinets and countertops, that dust likes to kick up in the air and settle on lower surfaces as well.

DO THE WINDOWS

Start with the upstairs windows and then move down. Clean the glass first by lightly spraying cleaner all over the pane and then wiping with a microfiber cloth. If you have a squeegee, even better. Clean the outside of the window first, so when you clean inside you can see any streaks more clearly and get rid of them.

SCRUB THE KITCHEN

This room will probably involve the most work, so try and block out an entire day (and a few “volunteers”) for it. Start high by cleaning the ceiling over your stove, the top of the refrigerator, light fixtures, and higher shelving, and then work your way down to the countertops. Tackle any grease stains on your stovetop with a degreaser product and wipe all surfaces with warm soapy water and a microfiber cloth. Don’t forget to wipe down the inside of your microwave and the shelving inside your refrigerator. After all of your surfaces are clean, grab a broom and a mop and clean out all of the dirt and debris under your appliances.

BLEACH THE BATHROOM

While you mostly keep your bathroom clean every week, now is the time to roll up your sleeves and really get in there. Start by washing the shower curtain with a cup of bleach to get rid of any mold. Wipe down the top of your mirror and any high shelving. Clear out all of your products sitting inside your shower or tub and really scrub down the surfaces with a bleach product. Get down on the floor and clean behind the toilet and the sink. Then give the floor and the baseboards a good mopping.

ORGANIZE SHELVES AND DRAWERS

After you purge your clothes, desk supplies, beauty supplies, kitchen supplies, etc., wipe down all of your shelving and drawer surfaces with a multi-surface cleaner. Then invest in a few containers and dividers to keep your belongings organized. Clear containers work best so you can see the items inside, and drawer organizers help separate and extend the life of your undergarments.

Are you ready to spray and scrub your way to a perfectly clean house? Do you have any deep-clean pointers you can share? We’re all ears.


Go Green in 2019

As a Coloradan, you’re probably aware of the benefits of ecological responsibility and preserving our natural resources. Some of us are concerned about global warming. Others just want to save money on their utility bills. But most of us agree that making the planet sustainable for future generations is a pretty good reason to go green.

Not surprisingly, environmental preservation is the basis for the partnership that shaped BackCountry’s future. More than 25 years ago, the developer of BackCountry agreed with Douglas County, the Highlands Ranch Community Association (HRCA), and Sand Creek Cattle Co. to preserve the Backcountry Wilderness Area. They wanted to protect it for future generations. And this land adjacent to our residential community is a beautiful place – 460 acres – that amazes, inspires, and reminds us what it truly important.

If you’re looking for ways to work towards a brighter, cleaner future, here are a few suggestions we think most people can incorporate into their daily routine.

Recycle. But recycle responsibly.

The good thing about recycling is that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to be a good recycler. But keep in mind improper recycling can introduce impurities that mess up the process. Remember when tossing a bottle or can into a recycling bin that caps and lids can’t be recycled. Neither can pizza boxes or anything else with food waste attached. And that huge chaotic pile of plastic grocery bags? Take that to your local grocer – they have a specific recycling bin for them. Here are some guidelines for recycling in Highlands Ranch.

Make a commitment to stop wasting food

Food waste is a worldwide epidemic, so start finding ways to fight back. Americans, on average, throw away up to 40% of the food they buy. So commit to better food management and start shopping and cooking smarter. Only buy what you need at the store. When cooking at home, turn that uneaten food into leftovers. Donate any excess food to food banks and charity drives. And don’t just throw away food based on expiration dates – these are more about food quality than safety.

Build a compost pile

One way to deal with food waste is to compost. This uses food and yard scraps that would otherwise be thrown away to make a nutrient-rich soil for your garden. In order to make compost, all you need is a location – preferably in your back or side yard, away from street view. A compost bin is not the prettiest structure but the compost will feed your plants essential nutrients and make your soil more fertile. Here are instructions on how to create a compost pile correctly.

When you follow simple ideas like these for greener living, the small changes you make every day can add up to make a difference. We encourage you to educate yourself on ways to lessen our footprint on the environment and see what actions you can afford to make that can help preserve our future.


The Winter Of Our Disconnect

Now that we’re in the throes of a Colorado winter, it’s easy to hunker down with your phones, your video games, and your Netflix shows and hibernate inside your cozy Shea home until the sun stays up past 7 pm again. But don’t let the cold and the clouds keep you from getting out and enjoying unique and interesting winter activities. Put the charge cords away and check out some of these cool events over the next few weeks. Your warm and comfy Shea home will still be there when you return.

DISNEY’S NEWSIES: THE MUSICAL

January 18 – February 10, PACE Center

Watch a band of newsboys take on big business to fight for what’s right in turn-of-the-century New York City. This musical features a Tony Award-winning score including classics like “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” and “Santa Fe.” This performance is perfect for the whole family and every audience. Learn more.

CHINESE NEW YEAR CELEBRATION & CULTURAL FAIR

February 2, 12-4pm, Southridge Rec Center

Celebrate Asian art and culture with an array of educational art and craft displays and peruse items for sale. You can also see a performance by the talented Great Wall Chinese Academy, featuring dances, martial arts, and a choir. Get tickets.

CLYFFORD STILL & PHOTOGRAPHY COLLECTION

January 18 – April 28, Clyfford Still Museum

This exhibition spans the artist’s 60-year career, featuring approximately 35 paintings, 35 works on paper, and a sculpture. The narrative begins in the 1920s with traditional landscape subjects and Depression-era figure studies that transform into quasi-abstractions. Learn more.

NATIONAL WESTERN STOCK SHOW

January 12-27, National Western Center

One of Colorado’s preeminent tourist destinations, this stock show hosts one of the world’s richest regular season professional rodeos, one of the country’s largest horse shows, and Colorado’s largest western trade show. Come see what event attracts 650,000 visitors every year. Buy tickets.

STEAMBOAT WINTER CARNIVAL

February 6-10, Steamboat Springs

Now in its 106th year, the Steamboat Winter Carnival was created to help residents cope with cabin fever during the height of the Colorado winter season. The event continues to this day as a reason for neighbors to gather, celebrate winter, and experience a ski town tradition. Learn more.


Not Your Normal NYE Resolutions

Happy New Year to our BackCountry residents! And now that 2019 is coming at us fast, let’s talk about our New Year’s resolutions.

Every January 1st, you hear a lot of the same old, same old. “I’m going to lose weight!” or “I’m going to leave my job and start my own business!” etc. And while there’s nothing wrong with these kinds of resolutions, they tend to lose their momentum after the first few weeks and then are completely forgotten until next January.

This year, let’s get out of our rut. Let’s just shake off the past and set our sights on different horizons this time around. We’ve found these suggestions, which are definitely off the beaten path but could be really interesting. And isn’t that what life should be – interesting?

Drink More Water

Well, duh, we all drink water every day. But are you drinking enough? Water plays such a vital role in increasing your energy, metabolizing fat, and pretty much every important function in your body, you can’t afford to be dehydrated. In order to increase your water uptake, make the conscious effort to carry a 16oz. reusable bottle of water with you everywhere you go and to drink the whole thing at least four times a day. Remember to match every alcoholic drink you consume with one glass of water. And if water gets boring, add fruit to it or switch to sparkling water every now and then to mix it up.

Think Positive

Maintaining a constant positive attitude opens your mind to new possibilities, makes you more resilient, and can even help you live longer. But keeping a consistent positive vibe requires practice and time, so be patient with yourself. Avoid negative self-talk. Try to see the humor in every situation. Put a positive spin on any stressful situation. And surround yourself with other positive-minded people.

Reduce Food Waste

Did you know that Americans throw out 1.3 billion tons of food a year? This food waste accounts for 19% of landfill waste, which directly contributes to the production of greenhouse gases. You can make a conscious effort this year to reduce your own food waste by freezing or canning leftovers, and reducing the clutter in your refrigerator. Another tip: When shopping at the grocery, buy fruits and vegetables that aren’t perfect. The weird-shaped or smaller produce is just as good as the “pretty” produce, but ends up getting thrown out just for its looks. If you choose these misfit items, you’ll be doing your part to help reduce the amount of food the grocery store has to throw out.

Watch 10 Movies Written or Directed by Women

Most of the movies we’ve seen over the years were directed by men or had male leading characters. But do you really want to see the world through just one lens? Film helps us understand our world and develop empathy for people who have experiences different from our own. And studies have shown that the movies you watch can affect your career choices, your relationships, your mental health, and your sense of identity. So next year, try watching from a list of movies based on herstory, not history.

Intrigued? We sure are. We can’t wait to see what life is like when fully hydrated, thinking positively, buying ugly produce, and watching a few critically-acclaimed films. We’re pretty sure it will be “interesting!” We hope you have a happy new year holiday and we look forward to seeing you in 2019!


Inventive Gifts for the Whole Family

The struggle is real. The struggle to buy a really cool and thoughtful gift this holiday, that is. And we get it. Dad doesn’t really want a tie. Mom doesn’t really want slippers. Ho-hum can easily translate to humbug. It’s time to up your gift game and come out the hero over the holidays.

Your friends here at BackCountry have found a few gift ideas online that we think are pretty rad and can score you big points with the fam. No more cell phone cases, Swiss Army knives, and rom-com DVDs. Here are the presents people really want to open:

ClassPass

Don’t buy a gym membership for your family member who plans on “losing 20 pounds” in the new year. Get this person a Class Pass instead. With this pass, he or she can sign up for different classes at different studios around their neighborhood, trying their hand at everything from boxing to spinning to boot camp.

Star Wars Pen

Is there a Star Wars fan in the family? Instead of buying another action figure or video game, give them the gift of class with a pen from the Cross X Star Wars collection. These pens commemorate Darth Vader, the Millennium Falcon, and the Stormtrooper, and feature a powerful wide stance with strong lines.

National Parks Year Pass

This gift goes a long way for your grandparents setting out in their Winnebago or your college-aged kid who’s an avid hiker. A year-long pass to the United States National Parks and federal recreational lands is perfect for the adventurer in your family. You’ll even be giving the whole family an excuse to pack up the hiking gear and spend a weekend among the trees.

Cell Phone Sanitizer

Is there a germaphobe or “germ conscious” person in your life? Seen on both Shark Tank and The Discovery Channel, this gadget kills 99.9% of the bacteria on your mobile device with UV Light while charging it. This patented design is the only device out there that can sanitize your whole phone. It also zaps the bac off of pacifiers, smart watches, headphones, credit cards, and keys.

MasterClass

MasterClass gives you the opportunity to learn skills from the best — the literal masters of their fields — through online videos and material. Gordon Ramsay teaches a course on cooking. Annie Leibovitz teaches photography. Steph Curry teaches basketball technique. The list goes on. Perfect for that person who is constantly curious and always craving knowledge.  

Hopefully, this list put the holly-jolly back in your holiday gift-giving spirit. Are there any gifts you came up with this year that are truly one-of-a-kind? We’d love to hear more gift ideas – the more the merrier! Feel free to share and we can’t wait to see what everyone got in the new year!


Get Creative with Your Christmas Spirit

Are you ready to get into the spirit of the holidays? Nothing gets you in the festive mood like putting together lovely crafts while listening to Christmas music. Whether you’re by yourself and want to make something fun or surrounded by kiddos who need to burn off a little creative energy, your friends at BackCountry have found a few wonderful holiday craft ideas to help celebrate the season.

Fruit and Cheese Christmas Tree

If you’re hosting a big family dinner this year, consider starting off the meal with this fun and easy appetizer. All you have to do is arrange cubes of various cheeses with red and green grapes (stick layers of fresh thyme in between) to form a tree shape. A short stalk of celery at the bottom serves as the perfect tree trunk.

Christmas Light Cupcakes

Cupcakes offer so many possibilities for décor. These Christmas Light Cupcakes are sure to be a hit for any holiday party or even just an excuse to bake something with your kids at home. The M&M’s candies give it a nice 3D effect and the frosting technique is so simple. Tips are even provided if you want to package these for a bake sale.

Wine Glass Snow Globe

If you have any old wine glasses you never use anymore or if you can pick up cheap plastic ones at the dollar store (especially if you have young kids who like to break things), you can make your own holiday wine-stem snow globe with just a few materials. If you have a wine glass rack, consider hanging these up in the front of the rack where everyone can see them!

Foam Cup Snowpeople

If you have really young kids and it’s one of those afternoons where it’s too cold to play outside, then pull out a stash of foam cups and make snowfolks! This is one craft where kids can show their individualism and creativity by dressing each of these in their own style.

Pop-Up Christmas Card

This a superb craft idea – kids of all ages can make their own pop-up holiday card for their grandparents, teachers or friends. The trees in this card are based on the concertina paper folding technique and video instruction is provided. The end result is a hand-made card that will be cherished forever.

Gingerbread Sugar Scrub

This scrub smells so delicious, you’ll want to eat it! But refrain from nibbling and instead you’ll have the ideal homemade gift for the friends and relatives in your life. This scrub is all-natural, using ingredients you probably already have on hand. Sticker label prints are provided if you want to dress up the jar with a label and a bow.

Do you have your own craft projects that you and your family put together every year? Or have you discovered an elaborate Christmas treat for your big holiday dinner? Please send us photos – we’d love to see your innovative ideas!

 


Lights, eggnog, and mistletoe – ‘tis the season.

Seriously, what is your favorite part of December? Is it the twinkling holiday lights that make every evening sparkle? Is it the abundance of eggnog and assorted cookies at every social gathering? Is it the off-chance that you’ll be standing under a mistletoe when Chris Hemsworth walks by? Let us at BackCountry know – we like thinking about all the things that make this month truly amazing. (And yes, that Chris Hemsworth scenario could TOTALLY happen.)

As the year closes out, we’ve rounded up a few events for you to check out this month. We hope to see you around the neighborhood (or at our favorite watering holes).

CHAMBER MUSIC FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Thursday, December 13, 6:30pm-8pm, Highlands Ranch Mansion

Join your friends and neighbors in the Grand Ballroom of the Mansion for an enchanting holiday event. The program will feature holiday favorites arranged for a string quartet. This evening includes an hour open house for Mansion tours, viewing of a local artist’s masterpieces, appetizers, and a cash bar. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door.

HOLIDAY HOUSE DECORATING

Entry deadline is Saturday, December 15, 5pm

Does your house shine with holiday cheer? If you enjoy decorating your home’s exterior and want to share your efforts with the community, put it on the Highlands Ranch Holiday House Decorating Map. The homes entered will be added to a map and posted on the Highlands Ranch website, and then the public is invited to use the map to check out the displays.

THE NUTCRACKER

Through December 24, Ellie Caulkins Opera House

Colorado’s acclaimed Nutcracker is the largest in the state and has been named the best-loved Nutcracker in the U.S. by the 10th Annual Goldstar National Nutcracker Award Contest. With live music performed by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra, this performance is returning for its 58th year. Performances sell out, so get your tickets early!

THE HUMANS

Through December 22, Curious Theatre Company

The most lauded play of the 2016 Broadway season, Stephen Karam’s The Humans is an uproarious, hopeful, and heartbreaking show that takes place over the course of a family Thanksgiving dinner. Our modern age of anxiety is keenly observed with humor and compassion in this new American classic that won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Play. Get tickets.


Your Last-Minute Thanksgiving Essentials Guide

One of the many awesome things about living in BackCountry is that our homes are built to entertain. On the flip side, it probably means that everyone wants you to host all the events, so chances are good you got roped in to host your family’s (or friends’) Thanksgiving feast this year. No biggie — you got this!

In a perfect world, you’ll have prepped and organized the entire dinner in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Ha! Who does that? Who has the time? If you’re like most people, you’ll probably wake up the Wednesday before Thanksgiving with a panic attack. It’s okay! Take a few deep breaths, exclaim “Serenity Now!”, and then follow our tips for a few helpful last-minute Thanksgiving hacks.

Create a Timing Schedule

Make a list of all the dishes you have to make, list how much prep time each one will require, and then schedule them accordingly. Dressing can be prepped and then refrigerated overnight. Sweet potatoes need to start in a cold oven, so bake them first on Thursday morning. Give yourself at least 24 hours to brine the turkey. And don’t forget to schedule your own prep time (shower, get dressed, open a bottle of wine) on Thursday!

Keep the Right Tools Handy

You don’t need super fancy kitchen gadgets to pull off dinner, but the best tool you can have is a good instant-read thermometer to gauge when your turkey is done roasting. If you don’t have a roasting pan, borrow one from a neighbor or make one out of one of those aluminum disposable pans – you can use large carrots and celery sticks lined along the bottom of the pan as a “rack hack”. Kitchen scissors are also handy for snipping vegetables, opening bags, and trimming the fat off of raw turkey.

Simplify and Delegate

When it comes to deciding what to serve this year, keep it simple and stick to basics. This is not the time to test a new recipe or try a “spin” on a classic. Go with what you know. And when possible, outsource the easier necessities. Ask guests to bring the wine. Ask your friend who loves to bake pies to bring one of his or her masterpieces. And don’t be embarrassed to order a ham or a few side dishes from a local catering company or even your local grocery store.

Accept and Forgive

Holidays can be chaos and chances are good something will go wrong. A dish will be overcooked. A guest will bring another guest unannounced. A glass gets broken. Just let it go and roll with the punches. This is a holiday that’s more about spending time with family and friends and appreciating what you truly have. So focus on the positive, create a welcoming and accepting atmosphere, and let the memories roll off of the meaningful connections and conversations that take place this day.

What are your “holiday hacks” that you use to help take the stress out of preparing a Thanksgiving meal? We’d love to hear them. In the meantime, we hope you and yours have a Happy Thanksgiving holiday!

 


The Top Five Sips of the Season

The holiday season is upon us, which usually means family and friends come to visit and want to go out and celebrate! Or your local family and friends want to go out and celebrate. Either way, if you’re looking for an establishment that’s close to the BackCountry community and you’ve rounded up a designated driver, here are a few places you can belly up to a bar.

This time, our “top sips” focus is on local brewers. But we also added an option at the end for those who aren’t beer drinkers:

Grist Brewing Company

9150 Commerce Center Circle

Open since November, 2013, Grist is a 20-barrel brewhouse that aims to brew simple, approachable beers, which is perfect for those just starting to dabble in craft beer consumption. They also experiment with Belgians, spiced stouts, barrel aging, and hops/malts if you have a more sophisticated palate. On Wednesdays, pull together a team of up to six people and play Geeks Who Drink trivia.

3 Freaks Brewery

7140 E. County Line Road

This brewery focuses on small batch brewing — only 2.5 barrels at a time. This allows them to be creative while aiming towards the next “perfect beer.” The owner is a Denver born-and-bred career firefighter who finally realized his dream of opening his own brewery. The brewery maintains anywhere from 4-7 beers on tap daily, including four year-round releases.

Half Penny Brewing

5150 E. Arapahoe Road

This family-friendly neighborhood craft brewery specializes in hand-crafted beer with a focus on German and English styles. Their taproom features three distinct sections: The English Snug, the German Beerhall, and the American Tasting Room. Sandwiches and snacks are available.

Lone Tree Brewing

8200 Park Meadows Drive

Lone Tree Brewing is a European-style craft brewery that emphasizes small, handcrafted batch brews. Inside the family-friendly taproom you’ll find board games and televised events. Food trucks are parked outside Tuesday through Sunday — find out which ones are scheduled here.

Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery

1505 Park Central Drive

Although “brewery” is in the name, this restaurant offers a full-service bar with wine and cocktails, as well as a full menu featuring sandwiches, salads, entrees, and steaks. The beer is brewed on-site and served fresh, so you’re never being poured something that’s been sitting around for weeks or months in bottles or kegs. Tapping events and brewery tours can be found here.

Have you been to these locations yet? If your friends or family are not the type to drink, why not invite your neighbors, long-time and new, to explore a few of these spots? You just might form friendships for life. Cheers!


Let the Holiday Madness Begin!

It’s November already! Which means it’s now acceptable to listen to holiday music in public. It also means those colorful fall leaves you admired have now fallen and turned into piles of dirty brown leaves you have to rake. But the biggest November event of all is that one holiday that truly brings families together – Black Friday! (Or Cyber Monday for you introverts.)

We hope all your shopping dreams come true this season. In the meantime, we’ve lined up a few local events near the BackCountry neighborhood that will help you get the most out of your month.

DIOR: FROM PARIS TO THE WORLD

November 19 – March 3, Denver Art Museum

Don’t miss this truly unique and exciting event! This exhibition surveys 70 years of the House of Dior’s enduring legacy and its global influence. This collection of more than 200 couture dresses, as well as accessories, costume jewelry, photographs, drawings, runway videos, etc., traces the history of the iconic haute couture fashion house, its founder, Christian Dior, and the subsequent artistic directors who carried Dior’s vision into the 21st century. Buy tickets.

MY MAKE STUDIO – NEXT LEVEL CAKE DECORATING

Tuesday – Sunday, 6460 East Yale Avenue, Unit E60

In the past 10-15 years, cake has gone from birthday staple to extraordinary art, thanks to shows like The Great British Baking Show. My Make Studio offers two to three DIY classes a week, focusing on both holiday and recurring themed cakes. Cookie and cupcake classes are offered as well. Learn more.

THE DENVER GRILLED CHEESE FEST

Wednesday, November 14, 6-10pm, Mile High Station

The Denver Grilled Cheese Fest is the year’s most mouth-watering comfort food festival in the Rockies! Guests will enjoy festive grilled cheese tastings, tomato soups, tasty beer, and wine. More than 20 restaurants and beverage companies will be attending this year, vying for the best grilled cheese in Denver. The fundraiser benefits Imagination Library of Denver — a free book program for kids 0-5. Get tickets.

VIOLAFOURCE

Thursday, November 15, 6:30-8pm, Highlands Ranch Mansion

The Highlands Ranch Cultural Affairs Association is proud to present a three-part series of classical music showcasing the rich history of the mansion. Each evening will include an hour open house for self-guided tours and light appetizers. November’s performance is “Violafource” — a variety of original compositions and popular arrangements for four violas.

BACKCOUNTRY BAZAAR

Saturday, November 10, 4-7pm, Sundial House

Shop local for the holidays! The Bazaar is free for BackCountry residents and their guests. Light appetizers, desserts, and non-alcoholic drinks will be provided in addition to Indulge drink ticket giveaways and raffle prizes.


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