BackCountry Blog

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.


Take a Walk Through the Shadow Walk Collection

You’ve never seen a new home community quite like BackCountry, located in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Named Community of the Year by the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver, this amazing community offers a variety of homes, styles, and price ranges, and is surrounded by miles and miles of natural Colorado beauty. Our luxurious gated community also features truly exceptional homes from Colorado’s best builders.

The window for new construction in Highlands Ranch is closing, but BackCountry features some of the last available land in this gorgeous area. If you are looking for a new home, hurry over and check out the Shadow Walk Collection, built by one of Colorado’s most esteemed builders, Shea Homes Colorado. These homes will sell quickly, so make your appointment today!

The Shadow Walk Collection features six spacious plans, including ranch and two-story homes, ranging from 2,604 to 3,594 square feet and 3-6 bedrooms. Highlights include gourmet kitchens with large islands, flex living spaces, and 3-bay garages. And every home comes with the Shea Difference – quality construction and award-winning customer service.

SUNSHOWER

The Sunshower is a well-designed ranch home that masterfully integrates quintessential living spaces. In addition to a spacious master bedroom, you’ll find a two-bedroom suite with full bath. Contributing to this home’s openness are soaring vaulted ceilings in the morning room, a great room with a fireplace, and the master bedroom. This home also features a formal dining room, gourmet kitchen with island, oversized laundry room off the three-bay tandem garage, and covered dining terrace where you can experience peaceful time to yourself. If additional living space is desired, consider adding a second level as a game/media room, additional bedroom with loft, or a teen suite. With these options and a fabulous finished basement option, you can make this home exactly what you desire.

AUTUMN HAVEN

The design of the Autumn Haven captures the essence of stylish, yet sensible living. This two-story home with four bedrooms and 3-1/2 bathrooms features a great room with fireplace and vaulted ceiling, a gourmet kitchen with oversized island and breakfast bar, a morning room, a main-floor office, a mudroom off the two-bay garage with one-bay side-load garage, a separate laundry room, a master bedroom with two ample walk-in closets, and a loft. The covered outdoor dining terrace is sure to be the spot where you’ll kick back and relax. For additional living space, consider a practical basement finish option.

SOMERSET

The Somerset embodies modest grandeur with its gorgeous architectural detailing and design, including a charming front entry courtyard. This plan lends itself well to entertaining. No gathering is too big when guests can flow easily through the formal dining room, oversized morning room, great room with fireplace, fantastic gourmet kitchen with rounded island and breakfast bar, to the fabulous covered patio. This home has so much more. In addition to five bedrooms, including a main-floor bedroom, and 4-1/2 bathrooms, you’ll find a mudroom off the two-bay garage with one-bay side-load garage, and second-level laundry station and loft.

SKYDANCE

The Skydance is a distinguished home that exemplifies elegant beauty and character. This 5-bedroom, 4-1/2 bathroom home features an entry court, great room with 2-sided fireplace shared with the library, gourmet kitchen with island, morning room, formal dining room, main-floor bedroom suite with vaulted ceiling and full bath, second-level laundry room, and mudroom off the two-bay garage with one-bay side-load garage. Start the day with the morning paper and quiet reflection on the covered outdoor dining terrace.


Put a Little Fall Flavor Into Your Healthy Diet

Now that autumn is in the air, it’s time to bring it into your kitchen. And, as we all know, if you live in BackCountry, your kitchen was built for cooking and feasting!

We’re also keenly aware that our residents like to eat healthy AND eat deliciously. So, we’ve put together recipes that will help you take advantage of the flavors and aromas of this season and keep you in top form for all of your outdoor activities.

Autumn Glow Salad

If you love lentils, pair them with roasted butternut squash and peppery arugula to deliver a plant-powered salad boasting more than 50% of your daily fiber and 1/3 of your daily potassium! Not only does this salad taste good, it’s good for you. Even better, butternut squash provides an excellent source of Vitamins A and C.

Ginger-Roasted Winter Squash

If you’ve been looking for a recipe that makes squash taste amazing, this is the one. Fresh ginger and cinnamon really give this dish its kick. For winter squash that’s crispy on the outside and moist inside, cut it in half, roast it until soft, and then cut it into wedges and roast some more. 

Spaghetti Squash Pepperoni Pizza Boats

We’ve found a guilt-free way to eat a deep-dish pizza! All you need are two spaghetti squash and classic pizza ingredients. This recipe is easy and pretty quick to make. Feel free to add any other pizza toppings of your choice, like mushrooms or olives.

Butternut-Cauliflower-Coconut Curry

This cool-weather main dish brings about a range of textures – crunchy peas, tender vegetables, and silky coconut broth – and it’s incredibly satisfying. To speed up prep, look for pre-cut cauliflower florets in your grocery store’s produce section.

Poached Apples with Vanilla Yogurt

How about a delicious and low-fat dessert? This yummy recipe calls for your favorite kind of apple mixed with citrusy and cinnamon flavors, topped off with a thick and creamy vanilla bean-filled Greek yogurt.

Hungry yet? Just reading these recipes should make your mouth water. If you have any delicious and healthy fall recipes of your own, please send them our way. And if you make any of these recipes and have lots of leftovers, call us!


Get Your Halloween Costume On

It’s mid-October – do you have your Halloween costume together yet? Did that question just make you break out in a panic-induced sweat? We get it – the pressure is on this time of year. If you’re the kind of person who struggles with coming up with good costume ideas or a full-on procrastinator, don’t worry, your friends at BackCountry have scoured the internet and found some fun ideas for you, your family, and/or your friends – and these will be a hit no matter where you end up on Halloween!  

Easy and affordable

You don’t have to spend a small fortune to dress up this year. Find simple ideas on this Pinterest Board – all you need are a few office supplies to put them together. If you’re a fan of ‘80s movies, this Risky Business costume is easy to make at home – you just need a white button down, underwear, white crew socks and sunglasses. If you’re a notorious foodie, go as Chinese food take-out. All you need is this t-shirt and a take-out box with chopsticks.

Partners in crime

If you have a spouse or a best friend you can rope in on a costume idea, start off easy with salt and pepper shakers. For Netflix fans, be everybody’s favorite weekend with these Netflix and Chill t-shirts – they pair nicely with pajama pants, tube socks, slippers, and/or ponytails. And if you can rope in additional participants, go as a group of party animals!

Kids and family

If your kids allow you to pick out their costume, here are creative ideas that are sure to catapult you to Parent of the Year. First of all, how adorable is this DIY pinata costume? If you’re still wheeling a little one around in a stroller, doll him or her up with this Cabbage Patch Kid costume. If your kid insists on being a superhero, insist on this Superman costume. And some fun #familysquad costume ideas are to dress up like your favorite Starbucks drinks or a dinosaur trainer family.

Hopefully these suggestions will help you put together something clever and fantastic for the 31st. And please send us pics of your costumes (or tag @backcountryco on Instagram) – we love seeing what our residents come up with every year!


It’s official – October is the greatest month of the year

Okay, so every month on this blog, we tout why that particular month is the “best.” But let’s get real – October is truly the greatest month of the year in Colorado. Seriously! Not only is the weather outside perfect, this is the time of year where all of your favorite scary movies are playing on TV. All of the pumpkin-flavored goodies are in the stores. You always have that one creative neighbor who goes all-out with the awesome Halloween decorations (or maybe it’s you?). And, of course, on the 31st, you get to eat ALL of the candy that you want, no judgment.

October is also an event-packed month, from corn mazes to road races to spooky festivals. We’ve managed to cull down the list and highlight a few fun activities for our BackCountry family, including events in both Denver and Highlands Ranch.

WARRIOR BONFIRE 5K RACE

Sunday, October 7, 9am, Falcon Park

Jog off that upcoming candy binge! Run/walk a 5K through the open space trails in Falcon Park (and Cheese Ranch) to benefit the Warrior Bonfire Program. This program gives support to Purple Heart combat veterans. Sign up.

GLOW AT THE GARDENS

October 17, 18, 23, 24, & 25 5:30 – 9:30pm, Denver Botanic Gardens

It’s Halloween at the garden! Find pumpkin artists creating larger-than-life sculptures, dense displays of jack-o-lanterns, and ornately detailed showpiece pumpkins, all in a creepy-Halloween atmosphere. In addition, enjoy spooky storytelling, trick-or-treating, carnival games, and a scavenger hunt. Learn more.

CORN MAZE AT CHATFIELD FARMS

Friday-Sunday, through October 26, 10am, Chatfield Farms

Get lost in the 7-acre corn maze at Chatfield Farms! This maze can be viewed from two 15-foot tall illuminated bridges. The maze is open during the day, but at night time you can stick around for the After Dark Corn Maze, the Dead Zone Scream Park, and Fear Flicks. Food vendors are on hand or bring your own snacks and dine at the provided picnic tables. Get tickets.

THE BLOODY MARY FESTIVAL

Saturday, October 13, various times, EXDO Event Center

Get bloody this October! Well, get your drink served bloody – and then throw in various accoutrements crafted by aficionados. The Bloody Mary Festival is a celebration of the most beloved brunch cocktail and the largest event of its kind. Sample various concoctions and then vote for the People’s Choice Award for Best Bloody Mary in Denver. Tickets on sale here.

5TH ANNUAL CHOCTOBERFEST

Saturday, October 13, 10am-6pm, Arapahoe County Fairgrounds

If you prefer sweet to savory, skip the Bloody Mary’s and hit this chocolate celebration instead! Inside, you’ll find 25,000 square feet of Colorado’s most indulgent chocolate and beverage festival. Indulge here.

FRIGHT NIGHT AND HAUNTED TRAIL

Friday, October 26, Sundial House

Come join your neighbors for this fun, Halloween-themed event here at BackCountry.


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