WomenGive Provides Scholarship to Help Women Succeed

August 26th, 2015  |  +The Group Real Estate  |  CommentNo Comments


Although it wasn’t always this way, single motherhood is rapidly becoming a new “norm” in America. Whether or not this is due to the decrease in couples choosing to marry before having children or not, one thing is clear – single motherhood is unquestionably affecting family spending.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, single mothers often spend over half of their income on housing expenses and a third on child care, leaving them with less money for educational expenses. To help combat this statistic, The Group Inc. has become a proud mission sponsor of United Way of Larimer County and Women’s Foundation of Colorado initiative, WomenGive.

WomenGive’s goal is to engage local women’s compassion, volunteerism & financial resources to bring changes to issues that affect both local women and girls. Knowing that education is an integral component of self-sufficiency, WomenGive chooses to make an impact by providing childcare scholarships each semester to local single parents continuing their education to build a better life for their family. One of this year’s recipients, Jewels, shares her story about the incredible difference this initiative has made in her family, career and education.

 WomenGive Scholarship


In Her Own Words: Jewels

“My name is Jewels and I am a single mother with four young children. My boys (ages 13, 11, and 5) love playing baseball in the summer and the older two play football in the fall. My 9 year old daughter is a gymnast and spends most of her time upside down. The three oldest are involved in Scouts and Tae Kwon Do. Additionally, we love to camp. I also have two adult children and a granddaughter. Needless to say, we are a very busy family!

Pursuing a secondary education hasn’t been easy for me. I divorced my ex-husband after he was arrested for domestic violence. Additionally, the father of my youngest child decided he wanted no parenting rights.

I started school in 2010 when “Monkey” (my youngest) was just a few months old. I first started going to school for paralegal studies, but because of the difficulty in finding somewhere to intern in Fort Collins, I decided I needed to change majors. I changed my degree to general studies to transfer to CSU, to pursue something that was more in my heart, such as working with families dealing with domestic violence.

Throughout the course of my education, I’ve found it difficult to afford quality childcare for my kids, especially “Monkey.” B.A.S.E. Camp eventually helped me with reduced childcare costs for my older children. I eventually had to drop many courses at Front Range and, in 2013, I had to drop a semester entirely. I thought I was going to have to put school on hold until all the kids were in school full-time.

Later, I applied and was accepted into CSU and I soon began my studies as a Human Development and Family Studies major. Before I transferred to CSU, I had earned a certificate in Paralegal Studies. Without adding any additional time to my educational timeline I was able to add a second major of Criminal Justice/Criminology using my elective credits. With these credentials, I am opening up the possibilities for an amazing career of working with families in the legal system.

Timing is truly everything. Two weeks after being accepted into CSU in the summer of 2013, I was accepted into Project Self-Sufficiency (PS-S). My PS-S advisor, Maggie, helped me apply for one of United Way of Larimer County’s WomenGive scholarships for “Monkey.”

The day I got my award letter was so exciting!

Right now, I’m on track to graduate in May 2016. Since starting, my GPA has risen steadily each semester, with a 4.0 this last semester, and no classes have been dropped. I have been able to accomplish this because I could attend school and not be concerned about whether or not I could pay for the next week’s childcare. I am not sure how to express the gratitude I feel when I think about the burden taken off of me because of this blessing from WomenGive. I am so very grateful!

United Way’s WomenGive program has done more for me than just help with childcare. Two semesters ago, my car needed some serious work. I was able to utilize the emergency assistance fund and get the repairs done, and continue with school. Also, whenever I start to feel overwhelmed, a card of encouragement from WomenGive randomly appears in my mailbox at the perfect time. I truly treasure each one of the cards I receive and reflect on them when needed.

WomenGive allows women who would otherwise not be able to attend school the ability to reach their goals of self-sufficiency. For me, it not only took away the financial burden, but it also took away reliance on my kids’ dads for childcare and gave me back the power to reach my goals.  It is one of the greatest gifts I have received in a very long time.

To all those that donate to WomenGive, I hope you truly understand the blessing you have been in the lives of the recipients. I am sure I speak for most, if not all of us when I say that without your generosity, there would be many more families in our community who couldn’t obtain self-sufficiency. Thank you so much!” – Jewel

Since the initiative began in 2006, WomenGive has invested over one million dollars to help 510 childcare scholarships to 216 women and 291 children have benefitted from the quality childcare provided through these scholarships. In addition, 85 WomenGive scholarship recipients have graduated to date. To be selected for this award, the WomenGive Scholarship committee reviews closely whether or not a candidate is a continuing WomenGive recipient in good standing, whether the applicant demonstrates initiative through accomplishments, application form and nomination letter, whether or not she has a well thought out educational and career path, one’s graduation date, cumulative GPA, total semester credits and cost of childcare. Here is an infographic that shares the impact the organization can have on the community.

WomenGive Infographic


Before & After: An Outdated Living Room Turned Rustic Modern Lounge

August 25th, 2015  |  +The Group Real Estate  |  CommentNo Comments

Color is Good, Inc.

Designer: Kim Bradshaw
Company: Color is Good, Inc.
Follow her: FacebookHouzzLinkedIn
Style: Creating a “calm” through good design

“Helping you bring color into your life.”

Color is Good, Inc. (an interior design company) was formed in 2005 by Kim & Dwight Bradshaw with the desire to help people create spaces with color, texture, simplicity and functionality. Color is Good, Inc. helps you bring color and order into your spaces, helps you navigate through the countless design options available, and can assist you in being resourceful with your budget. All design packages include a style interview, which helps the company get a feel for your unique style, detailed measurements of your space, a floor plan (and when helpful a 3D design of your space), shopping for furniture and accessories, paint color selection, presentation of room design for your input and approval, ordering furniture and accessories, furniture and accessory placement, installation of window treatments and putting the final touches on your space.

Before & After Livingroom Remodel

Before & After Livingroom Remodel 2

Before & After Livingroom Remodel 3

Before & After Livingroom Remodel 4

Before & After Livingroom Remodel 5

Shown above is a “complete room design package” that Color Is Good, Inc. completed two years ago in Windsor, Colorado. This space was completely out of scale with a small fireplace and cluttered feeling bookshelves. In addition, the room was long and awkward opening to kitchen behind the existing half wall. A definite design challenge.

Addressing those design dilemmas, Color is Good, Inc. designed the new fireplace/TV wall to be simple, yet stunning with country ledge stone and warm alder. They also brought in a large sectional to fill the long, wide empty space and to provide comfortable seating for the family and guests alike.

The copper tables they chose to use are from Woodley’s, as is the art piece above the fireplace. Both items were very price friendly. Woodley’s is a great resource for their reasonably priced artwork. The arts and crafts-style floor lamp is from LampsPlus…and the curtains and pillows were custom made. These pieces really in pulled the room together. Texture, pattern and color make all the difference!

The butterscotch colored microfiber sectional is from Pottery Barn and was on already on sale, so with their additional 20% designer discount it was a huge savings. Color is Good, Inc. passes along their designer discounts to clients when they work together…and those savings really add up when furnishing a space. Everyone no matter the budget likes to save dollars during the design process.

The fireplace wall needed to step up scale-wise in this space and become a feature, so it really did change the entire room.  It also included some closed storage at the end for practical things like board games, etc. for family fun.

Color is Good, Inc. saved money where they could throughout this renovation project, but this room design itself was not a low budget project with the customized fireplace wall. Any structural changes made to a space add up in the overall budget, but sometimes it’s not just as simple as changing the furniture. If the room just isn’t working, instead of living in a frustrating space, changes can be made that alter how your family does life together. Those are things that you can’t put a price tag on!

“The budget if I remember correctly came in at around $25-30k mostly due to the large fireplace accent wall. The family is so happy with how the room turned out. They now really live in this space together…family rooms are meant to be lived in and functional, beautiful spaces. I really love my job!”

By Kim Bradshaw, Designer


Food Truck Friday: The Taco Stop

August 21st, 2015  |  +The Group Real Estate  |  CommentNo Comments

Part of our weekly #FoodTruckFriday series, this week’s featured food truck includes The Taco Stop, a local truck that specializes in street-style steak tacos and quesadillas. Don’t forget to share our post on Facebook or retweet our posts to Twitter to be entered in a chance to win a free entrée voucher!

“Our goal is to provide delicious food & customer satisfaction.”

Let’s taco about one great truck! Having started his “food trucking” career in 2012, Cesar Lopez established The Taco Stop to provide the Fort Collins-area community with his savory street-style, authentic tacos. In addition to his delicious tacos, Lopez also makes his salsas from scratch daily!

“I’ve always wanted to own my own business and offer great food. And having a food truck is a great way to start,” explained Lopez, who wishes to eventually expand his food truck menu into a restaurant someday.

Although a seasonal, summertime-only truck, The Taco Stop remains a big hit with the 21+ group due to its downtown location on Friday nights. In addition, the truck’s phenomenal customer service keeps taco-lovers always coming back for more.

“My favorite part of Fort Collins is that I get to meet new people. It’s a great, friendly town,” expressed Lopez.

Despite the long hours, Lopez believes that local food trucks have really been growing, and that each one of them offers unique food. It is his goal to make sure that his tacos stand apart from the rest and remain a Fort Collins favorite.

“If you were stranded on a deserted island, which one of your menu items would you want to have an endless amount of and why?”

“Steak quesadillas. They are delicious and I crave them daily.” – Cesar Lopez, owner, The Taco Stop


How to Prepare for the 2015 Snowbank Brew Run

August 20th, 2015  |  +The Group Real Estate  |  CommentNo Comments


Although snow isn’t in the forecast for a few more months, Northern Colorado residents certainly have the opportunity to chill out on Sunday, August 23rd at the Snowbank Brew Run beginning at 10 a.m.


A departure from the traditional, Snowbank Brewing focuses on innovation and a passion for the Colorado lifestyle. Although this lifestyle typically encompasses a yearning for all things active, many of the events at this year’s Brew Run require a slightly different set of skills. So, in order to best prepare for the run, here are five great ways to train for the event.


1) Lifts, Lifts, Lifts

One competition at the 2015 Brew Run begs the question, “Can YOU “handle” a growler?” This year, not one but two water-filled growlers will be ready for one lucky runner to haul. If this runner is able to complete the course in under 25 minutes, and without dropping, spilling or transferring the growler they will be rewarded a new growler, filled with a beer of their choice! So, stop by your local brewery and consider picking up a growler prior to the Brew Run to start practicing!

Plus, there’s an obvious end reward to this pre-run practice. (Note: This will also help you train for the event’s Keg Haul Relay, and potentially any drinking-related activities.) Want additional training exercises? Check out these unconventional keg workout strategies!

2) Improve Your Balance

This training exercise requires one plastic cup filled to the brim with water. Once these materials are acquired, place the cup in your palm and walk around, frequently steadying your balance.

How will this help you at the Brew Run? As one of their “Beer Olympics” activities, Snowbank will be hosting a Beer Balance Relay. During this activity, five teams of two will line up, with one partner balancing a half-filled beer while expected to run 50 meters and back without spilling. Meanwhile, partner two must continuously do burpees until partner one returns. Then the participants switch. When partner two finishes running the 50 meters, he or she must then chug the beer. The first team to finish their beer wins! To gain an extra advantage, consider reviewing SparkPeople’s Balance Training 101.

3) Squat ‘Til You Drop

How many squats can you do in one minute? How about while holding a half-filled beer on your head? At the event’s CrossFit Games Squat Challenge that’s exactly what you must do! The individual capable of completing the most full squats (with proper form and depth determined by a CrossFit instructor) will win the challenge! So, consider hitting the gym or developing your own at-home squat program to best prepare for this challenge. In addition, check out the Ultimate Squat Guide for over 35 types of squats to practice.

4) Hand-Eye Coordination

Because hand-eye coordination can greatly compromise your ability to exercise, it will be crucial for two of the event’s most famous activities – corn hole and flip cup. Here, eye-hand coordination comes into play, allowing the eyes to indirectly coordinate the movements of the hands.

This is important for corn hole, which involves teams of two lining up in front of a corn hole board. Next, the first partner must make a show while the other drinks a beer, then they switch and the first team to finish their beer and complete the second shot wins!

As for flip cup, teams of three will line up along a rectangular table. The first person drinks their beer, flips their cup, and goes into a plank. Then the second person must drink their beer, flips their cup, and goes into a plank. The first team to have their final person flip their cup successfully wins. To improve your chances of victory, check out these four easy drills to improve your eye-hand coordination.

5) Get Jumpin’

The last event of the Brew Run’s Beer Olympics is the triple jump. You must complete three broad jumps in a row, attempting to jump the furthest without spilling your beer. It’s important to note that the triple jump is an event which requires leg strength, technique and speed. For these reasons, learning the basics can greatly assist one’s performance. For an easy-to-read guide to the basics, check out these simple steps to mastering the triple jump.


Now that you know the best ways to train for the 2015 Snowbank Brew Run, it’s up to you to do the rest! At the event, the course will be marked with several volunteers along the way, and there will be one water station roughly halfway through the course. Water will also be available at the finish line, and dogs are allowed on both the course and the outside patio. At the conclusion of the run, each participant will receive one free Snowbank brew and fun swag. Happy training and see you there! Click here to register.

Additional Information:

  • Make sure to bring your ID, extra cash for additional brews, food and apparel for any weather
  • BRING YOUR GAME! Get ready for our Beer Olympics and a taste test challenge, winners get another FREE brew!
  • Snowbank Brewing is instituting a strict weather cancellation policy. If weather conditions present unsafe for participants (blizzard or lightning) we will do a Facebook post and send an email out to all registered participants 6pm the evening before the scheduled run.  Please make sure to check either or both of these if you are unsure if the run will be held or reschedule

Top 5 Peach Recipes: Preparing for The Fort Collins Peach Fest

August 18th, 2015  |  +The Group Real Estate  |  CommentNo Comments

Fort Collins Peach Festival 2015

‘Tis the season for sweet, juicy peaches! The perfect summertime fruit helps lead us into fall this August 22nd, 2015 with the fifth annual Fort Collins Peach Festival at Colorado State University’s Hughes Stadium! Yet, with so many different ways to enjoy the seasonal delicacy, we thought we’d offer you some guidance on the best ways to prepare our favorite fruit.

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has attended this event in the past, but we’re sure you’ll walk away with more peaches than you may know what to do with. However, no need to fret! We’ve got you covered. Here are five of the most mouth-watering peach dishes from MyRecipes.com, the largest collection of professionally-tested recipes online from food experts at the magazines and cookbooks you love and trust–including Cooking Light, Southern Living, Sunset, Coastal Living, Real Simple, and more.

Ginger Peach Cobbler Recipe

Ginger-Peach Shortbread Cobbler


  • 1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 cups plus 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar, divided
  • 7 to 9 medium-size peaches (such as ‘Elberta’), halved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
    2 teaspoons granulated sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Beat first 3 ingredients and 2 1/4 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer just until combined. Place dough on a lightly floured surface; roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut about 14 rounds with a 2 1/2-inch fluted round cutter. Place rounds in a single layer on a baking sheet; cover and chill until ready to use.
  2. Pulse ginger and 1/4 cup turbinado sugar in a food processor 5 to 6 times or until well combined. Stir together ginger mixture and remaining 1/2 cup turbinado sugar in a large bowl. Add lemon juice, peaches, and remaining 3 Tbsp. flour; toss to coat. Place peach halves, slightly overlapping, in a greased (with butter) 10-inch cast-iron skillet, and pour any remaining juice over peaches.
  3. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and nestle shortbread dough rounds among peaches. Brush rounds with egg white, and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake 17 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. 

Peach Upside-down cake Recipe

Peach Upside Down Cake


  • Parchment paper
    4 medium peaches (about 1 1/2 lb.), unpeeled and cut into 1/3-inch-thick wedges
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
    1 cup cake flour
    3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
    3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and divided
    1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
    1 vanilla bean
    2 large eggs
    1/2 cup sour cream
    Sweetened whipped cream (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Add 3 Tbsp. butter to a 9-inch round metal cake pan and place over low heat. Once butter has melted, sprinkle in 1/4 cup brown sugar. Stir until smooth, then spread mixture evenly in pan. Remove from heat and arrange peach slices decoratively in a single layer over brown sugar mixture.
  2. In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream remaining 4 Tbsp. butter and 2/3 cup sugar until light, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add one-third of flour mixture; mix on low speed until just combined. Mix in half of buttermilk, then another third of flour mixture. Repeat with remaining buttermilk and flour.
  3. Spread batter gently over peaches, taking care not to displace them. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes; invert onto a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Almond Pavlova with peaches, cream and salted peach caramel recipe

Almond Pavlova with Peaches, Cream and Salted Peach Caramel



  • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract


  • 2 1/2 pounds firm-ripe yellow peaches, divided
  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup whipping cream


  1. Preheat oven to 250°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and draw a 5- by 10-in. rectangle on each with a pencil; turn paper over.
  2. Make meringues: Pulse almonds in a food processor until coarsely ground. In a large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar with a mixer on high speed until frothy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar (about 1 tbsp. every 10 to 15 seconds), beating until whites are glossy and hold a straight point when beater is lifted. Scrape inside of bowl. Beat in almond extract until evenly blended, then fold in ground almonds.
  3. Attach corners of parchment to pans with a little meringue. With a long metal spatula, evenly spread half of meringue on each parchment rectangle, shaping straight sides. Bake, switching pans halfway through, until meringues are very crisp and pale golden, about 1 1/2 hours. Let stand in oven with door ajar until cool, at least 2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, make caramel: Peel* 2 medium peaches (wait till step 6 to peel others), pit, and finely mash in a bowl with a pastry blender. Cook 1 cup sugar in a large frying pan over medium heat, lifting and swirling pan occasionally, until sugar melts and turns golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in mashed peaches (sugar may seize up) and remove from heat. Let stand about 30 minutes. If you still have sugar lumps, cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until sugar melts again, 3 to 6 minutes. Spoon 1/2 cup peach mixture into a medium bowl, add lemon juice, and set aside.
  5. Strain remaining peach mixture into a bowl, pushing to extract liquid, then return liquid to pan. Stir in butter and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until butter melts. Stir in almond extract and set the salted caramel aside.
  6. Peel remaining peaches, slice, and stir into fruit-lemon juice mixture in bowl. In another bowl, beat cream and remaining 1 tbsp. sugar until softly thickened.
  7. Loosen meringues from paper. Set 1 on a platter. Gently spread with half of whipped cream, leaving a border. Spoon some of sliced peaches and their liquid on top. Drizzle with a little salted caramel sauce (rewarm if needed so it’s pourable). Repeat layers. Cut into wide slices and serve with more peaches and any remaining caramel sauce.

Make ahead: Through step 5, up to 1 day; warm sauces in a microwave until room temperature.

Note: To peel peaches, immerse in a pan of boiling water until skins pull off easily with a knife, about 15 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and peel them with a knife.

Grilled Peach Pizza with prosciutto and goat cheese recipe

Grilled Peach Chutney Pizza with Prosciutto and Goat Cheese


  • 1 pound peeled peaches, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 3 tablespoons semolina flour or polenta
  • 1 pound refrigerated prepared pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 cup very thinly sliced red onion
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups baby arugula


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (This helps with cleanup.) Toss peaches with lemon juice. Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
  2. Cook 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes or until sugar melts and turns a deep amber color. Remove from heat. Immediately add 1/4 cup butter, stirring vigorously. Spread caramelized sugar to coat bottom of skillet evenly, and sprinkle with brown sugar. Arrange peach wedges in concentric circles over sugar mixture, overlapping as needed.
  3. Split vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape out seeds into bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Beat vanilla seeds and remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup butter at medium speed until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add sour cream, beating until blended. Gradually add sifted flour mixture, beating at low speed just until blended and stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Spoon batter over peaches in skillet, and spread to cover. Place skillet on prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in skillet on a wire rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge to loosen.
  5. Carefully pour out any excess liquid from skillet into a measuring cup, and reserve. (It’s okay if you don’t have any excess liquid–it all depends on how juicy your fruit is.) Carefully invert cake onto a serving plate, and drizzle with any reserved liquid. Cool slightly (about 10 minutes). Cut cake into wedges using a serrated knife. Top with sweetened whipped cream, if desired, and serve immediately.

Peach Cinnamon Jam Recipe

Peach Cinnamon Jam


  • 1/2 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 4 pounds firm peaches, peeled, pitted
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


1. Combine juice and 1 cup water in a wide, heavy-bottom pot. Roughly chop peaches; add to pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until peaches are tender and just beginning to break down, 10 to 30 minutes, depending on ripeness. Slightly crush mixture with a masher, leaving some large chunks.

2. Add sugar and cinnamon; cook, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to high and boil rapidly, stirring constantly, until thickened and at the gel stage (details on how to do this here), 20 to 30 minutes. Skim off any foam from the top and discard.

3. Ladle jam into half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Process for 10 minutes using the boiling-water method (details on how to do this here).

The Fort Collins Peach Festival is sponsored by The Rotary Clubs of Fort Collins and will offer peaches from Palisade, a 5K Run/Walk, children’s activities, entertainment, peach pies, live music, delicious food and beverages, business booths and numerous other peach-themed events all day long! Want to be a sponsor? Sponsorship options are currently available, click here to learn more. We hope to see you at the event!


Local FoCo Bike Shop Designs Stage 6 Trophy Bike for the USA Pro Challenge

August 17th, 2015  |  +The Group Real Estate  |  CommentNo Comments


ATTENTION BICYCLE ENTHUSIASTS: For one week each year, The USA Pro Challenge, known as “America’s Race”, fills Northern Colorado streets with displays by many of the world’s most renown cyclists. This August 17 – 23, 2015, the annual week-long race will ride through the Colorado Rockies yet again, making it’s way to Larimer County for Stage 6 of the event on Saturday, August 22. Stage 6 will begin at 11:35 a.m. in Loveland at The Ranch Events Complex, and will conclude in Old Town, Fort Collins at 3:30 p.m. (men’s race).

New this year to the event, one local bike shop has been given a “big shot” by the USA Pro Challenge Northern Colorado Local Operating Committee. The Fort Collins-based cycling store, Big Shot Bikes, has been formally asked by the organization to design a custom trophy bike for the Stage 6 winner of this challenging, yet beautifully scenic race.

Since the stores founding in 2009, Big Shot Bikes has been Fort Collins’s most direct route to great quality, unique track and fixed gear bicycles.  Incorporating the company’s distinct style into it’s custom trophy for the event, Big Shot Bikes decided to utilize the USA Pro Challenge colors of red, white and blue while also including the names of all northern Colorado Stage 6 communities into the design. Mentioned on both the front and back wheels are Fort Collins, Loveland, Larimer County and Windsor.

stage 6

“We are excited and flattered to be chosen to design the Stage 6 trophy. This is a great opportunity to highlight our company and our products as well as support the race as it comes through northern Colorado,” said Matt Peterson, owner of Big Shot Bikes, in a press release. “We love that the USA Pro Challenge Stage 6 course highlights northern Colorado and the beauty of the area. Seeing our community highlighted and seen by millions of viewers around the world through the race is a great opportunity for northern Colorado cycling to be in the spotlight.”

Although the professional cyclist to win Stage 6 of the USA Pro Challenge will be awarded this custom bicycle during the finish award ceremony in Old Town the same day, obtaining a replica is possible. Big Shot Bikes created ten additional, identical bikes which will be available through the purchase of the USA Pro Challenge Northern Colorado Committee’s Big Shot sponsorship package.

“As we were working with Big Shot Bikes on the trophy bike, we saw a great opportunity for local cycling fans and northern Colorado businesses to get in on the action and be able to share in the experience by owning their own custom Stage 6 Big Shot bike,” explained Local Organizing Member, Eric Thompson.

For more information, connect with the Northern Colorado USA Pro Challenge on Facebook.


Planning to watch the USA Pro Challenge as it passes by your community?

The Downtown Fort Collins Business Association recommends Bingham Hill, Horsetooth Reservoir and Old Town as the best spots to relax and view the race.

All attendees are encouraged to ride their bikes to the event itself. It is also possible to take Transfort’s MAX, which will run every ten minutes on race day. There will also be two minor interruptions when the racers cross Mason Street, but the services will run as normal otherwise.

Rather volunteer than spectate? Volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks the day of the event. To learn more, visit the USA Pro Challenge Volunteer page.


Food Truck Friday: The Waffle Lab and Divine Ice Cream

August 14th, 2015  |  +The Group Real Estate  |  CommentNo Comments


Part of our weekly #FoodTruckFriday campaign, this week’s featured food trucks include Divine Ice Cream and The Waffle Lab. Divine Ice Cream offers a variety of fantastic frozen treats, while The Waffle Lab specialize in gourmet Belgian-style liege waffles and unique waffle combinations. Remember to share our post on Facebook or retweet our posts to Twitter to be entered in a chance to win a FREE entrée voucher from one of the participating trucks!


“We are indeed the tastiest experiment in town!”

Think waffles are for breakfast only? Wrong! The Waffle Lab, a favorite Fort Collins food truck, has proven relentlessly that when it comes to waffle creations and combinations, the possibilities are truly endless!

“We’ve always had a love for food, a love for creativity, and a love for entrepreneurship.  A food truck combines all three in an awesome package,” explained The Waffle Lab owner, Justin Brown. “Food trucks have become the leading edge of creative, grassroots food and we are excited to be on the forefront of that movement in Fort Collins.”

Although the truck’s own waffle movement has overall been a success, occasionally the weather will impact the company’s daily sales. According to Brown, if it’s too hot, he loses customers. Similarly, if it’s too cold outside customers are also not as likely to stop by.

“We’re kind of like Goldilocks…We want it just right!” joked Brown.

Yet, aside from the weather extremes, The Waffle Lab sees Fort Collins as a prime location. With so many festivals and food truck rallies available to attend, participation has allowed the truck to gain quite a local fan base.

“We love the people and the community feel. It’s hard not to walk down the street and see happy, familiar faces, and even those we don’t know are just nice. It’s a great town!” explained Brown.

Although a lover and supporter of the Fort Collins community, Brown loves to travel and try all the amazing food options across the country. In cities like Austin, Portland and San Francisco he’s noticed food truck parks adding a very cool atmosphere to the existing urban landscapes. While drawing inspiration from such areas, he’s noticed that many trucks are beginning to add picnic tables and bathrooms, easing some of the existing challenges not only to vendors, but to customers as well.

“The same thing that makes owning a food truck so much fun and interesting is also exactly what makes it so hard – our mobility,” expressed Brown. “Unlike a brick and mortar restaurant, we can’t just show up, turn on the lights and start selling. It’s never boring, but we’re okay with that!”

While mobility is currently very much a part of what The Waffle Lab’s business is, they are currently looking to expand into a brick and mortar restaurant. With their consistently high quality, outstanding food and a people-first approach to service, we’re ‘waffle’ sure that too would be a hit!

Now through the end of summer, The Waffle Lab can be found at 200 N. College Avenue every Friday through Sunday during business hours. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter to stay in-the-know!

“If you were stranded on a deserted island, which one of your menu items would you want to have an endless amount of and why?”

“The Caper-Easy – tomatoes, mozzarella and basil on our liege waffle, topped with sea salt, olive oil and a balsamic glaze.  It’s one of our most refreshing waffles so it’d clearly go well in the desert!  ” – Justin Brown, owner, The Waffle Lab.


“Authenticity. Nostalgia. Selection. Reliability.”

As the saying goes: You scream. I scream. We all scream for ice cream…and we promise you’ll shout for joy after trying a tasty treat from Divine Ice Cream! An American favorite from childhood, delicious frozen ice cream treats are Divine Ice Cream’s forte. As a locally owned and operated business here in Northern Colorado since 2012, Divine truly cares for its customers and provides them with an experience that is memorable for all ages.

Owner, David Himes, takes great pride in his mobile business, helping to pave the way to an official culture of food trucks in Northern Colorado. Since Divine’s founding, the company now owns and operates three ice cream trucks and one cart with aspirations to expand across Northern Colorado to cities within Larimer, Weld and Boulder Counties.

“As a kid growing up in Iowa my Dad built me a larger than life lemonade stand that was like a small building with a sales counter, shelves and a roof. I was inspired by running my own shop and I greatly enjoyed interacting with people of all walks of life,” recalled Himes.

Offering approximately 40 Blue Bunny frozen novelties and La Michoacana fruit ice cream bars as well miscellaneous drinks and snacks, everyone can count on Divine Ice Cream for a wide variety of treats from March to October. However, “Divine Season” tends to especially draw in younger or professional members of the community.

“Our business is driven largely by children and special events related to families.  Also, Northern Colorado has many wonderful companies that truly take care of their employees so we do lots of employee appreciation events,” explained Himes.

With such a diverse audience, Divine Ice Cream finds itself with lots of community business. However, even with ice cream-loving customers, Himes still recalls industry challenges including administrative tasks, daunting to any “food truck newbie”, and of course, mechanical issues. Yet, no matter the issue, Divine Ice Cream has a solution!

“Like anything else in life to succeed you must make a commitment. Don’t expect to try it out part-time, for a season, or simply see how things go. Owning a business is like being married. Determination and hard work are required to work through the challenges,” said Himes.

His truck is now beginning to distribute Blue Bunny and La Michoacana ice cream to various convenience stores, hotels, and other shops in the area. A long-term plan includes opening the first Divine Ice Cream & Coffee Shop in Fort Collins. They also just launched a promotional event for the month of August; standard event booking fees are now 50% off!

Today, Divine receives more calls and emails each year about events needing food trucks and other activities than ever before. These events can create an oasis of fun and entertainment wherever they pop up. Plus, as Himes notes, Fort Collins is one of the finest cities in the nation, with great people, climate, culture and with the majestic mountains. So really, what’s not to love? You can show your love, too by following them on Facebook or Twitter.

“If you were stranded on a deserted island, which one of your menu items would you want to have an endless amount of and why?”

“The Turtle Sundae Bar is the highest quality item on the truck. It is delicious and nutritious! Well, it does have chocolate and nuts!” – David Himes, owner, Divine Ice Cream.


Voice Your Vote! Lydia’s Style Magazine’s “Best of Style” 2015 Survey Is Out!

August 13th, 2015  |  +The Group Real Estate  |  CommentNo Comments

Lydia's Style Magazine Best Of 2015

As the late president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, once said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”

And now’s your chance to vote, Fort Collins! Lydia’s Style Magazine, a regional magazine featuring sophisticated content and reflecting the active, upscale Northern Colorado lifestyle, is now hosting its annual “Best of Style” survey. This yearly review is designed to represent the area’s top four favorite community places based on sheer popularity.

“This year we are experiencing a very lively response to the “Best Of”  and lots of surveys have already been filled out,” announced Lydia Dody, Publisher, Style Media & Design, Inc.

As in year’s past, the title of “Best of Real Estate” is up for grabs, and here at The Group Inc. Real Estate, we hope to maintain this title for a second consecutive year! To us, being “Best in Real Estate” means that we are efficiently doing our job in providing relevant news, updates and information to the Fort Collins community, all while finding the very best ways to help our customers buy and sell homes.

In 2015 alone, we have actively sponsored numerous events, donated to several local organizations including the Larimer County Long-Term Recovery Group’s flood/fire recovery fund, and awarded a full-tuition scholarship to a local high school student – just to name a few.

In addition to simply helping support your favorite local businesses, each participating voter will be placed in a drawing, making them eligible for a variety of spectacular prizes from Lydia’s Style Magazine. One prize to be awarded to a lucky voter includes a new pair of Beats by Dre™ Headphones‎.

How to Vote for Your Favorites:

When voting, please remember you MUST vote on at least 10 categories, and that your submission will not count if you only supply your name, age, gender and contact information. Voting will take place now through October 15, and the winners will be announced in December.

Vote for The Group, Inc. today! Your support is truly appreciated.


An Interview with Matthew Hazen, the Recipient of the 2015 Group Scholarship!

August 12th, 2015  |  +The Group Real Estate  |  CommentNo Comments

Whose ready for school to start? With the 2015-2016 school year right around the corner, some students are busy gathering school supplies, planning out their classes or enjoying the final bits of summer. However, while these are the more straightforward elements of school year preparation, many students across the country must additionally plan how to best finance their education. With the average student debt sitting at approximately $28,400 per borrower, this is often no simple task.

In an attempt to lessen student debt, and to help Colorado State University (CSU) attract the “best and the brightest” students from the local area, The Group Inc. chooses to provide one scholarship, equivalent to full in-state tuition, each year to an incoming freshman who graduated from either a Larimer County or Windsor high school and who possesses business leadership goals. With that said, we’re pleased to introduce you to Matthew Hazen, this year’s scholarship recipient! 


Matthew is a recent Loveland High School graduate with plans to major in Business Administration at Colorado State University (CSU) in the fall. To Matthew, receiving this award is an honor and a tremendous financial blessing, allowing him to affordably jump start his college career.

Having grown up in Loveland, Co., Matthew has always loved residing so close to the beautiful Rocky Mountains and has enjoyed all of the recreational activities they have to offer. In addition, he thoroughly appreciates the city’s small town culture.

During his high school years here, our scholarship recipient embraced his AP classes, the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) program and competitive sports. His senior year he served as a DECA State officer, president of the Loveland High School Business Student Advisory Council, and was inducted into the National Honor Society.

In his free time, Matthew enjoys being with friends, playing basketball, frisbee golf, wake boarding, snowboarding, working out, reading and participating in other outdoor activities. He also is in the midst of starting a water bottle company with three friends which features new technology in its design.

In order to be considered for the The Group Inc. Scholarship, Matthew was first accepted into the CSU School of Business. He then filled out the Colorado State Scholarship Common Application which was sent to The Group Inc., and a formal TGI committee interview was scheduled.

“I feel I was a good candidate for this award because of my background in business and my leadership skills that I have developed throughout high school. I challenged myself in high school by taking rigorous Advanced Placement classes and positioned myself in my roles of leadership at my school,” explained Matthew.

As for future plans, Matthew intends on owning his own advertising agency which would work with professional athletes, celebrities and major corporations. Ultimately, he wishes to continue to grow his business, give back and change the world along the way.

“Right now I am most excited for my business classes to begin. Learning more about what I am so passionate about is going to be amazing, and getting to develop who I am as a young businessman is extremely exciting to me,” expressed Matthew, who would love nothing more than to be able to remain in the area post-graduation.

Congratulations, Matthew! The Group Inc. wishes you much success in all of your endeavors!

The Group Scholarship has been awarded to 20 local high school seniors since 2000. To be selected, recipients are required to be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate students in the College of Business at Colorado State University, have an overall GPA of 3.4 or higher and demonstrate involvement in community activities.

Applications are then reviewed by a committee of The Group Inc. partners, and the finalists are each invited to an interview by the committee, who ultimately selects the winner. Applications are available from area high school counseling offices or online. The deadline to submit an application for next year’s award is March 1, 2016.


Before & After: A Cluttered Space Turned Chic Guest Room

August 11th, 2015  |  +The Group Real Estate  |  CommentNo Comments


Designer: Lisa Demberg
Company: Style Reboot
Follow her: FacebookHouzzThumbtack
Style: Creating fresh, visually appealing spaces
that enhance your lifestyle at any budget

“Experience the uplifting power of change.”

Lisa Demberg began Style ReBoot, a full-service interior and exterior design company serving Northern Colorado, Denver and Boulder in 2011 to pursue her lifelong passion for good design. She had recently moved here from Los Angeles where she concentrated on residential interior design and also worked in the film and television business. Throughout her design career, Lisa completed several projects incorporating both residential and commercial spaces. So, whether you are interested in modern, traditional, or eclectic design, new colors, refurnishing, renovation, new build construction, making your outdoor living space as inviting as your indoor space, or accessorizing, Style ReBoot will give your project the flair you are looking for.




This before and after picture of the guest room gives you an idea of our total room transformation. We cut egress windows into the old stone foundation, moved intrusive structural posts by installing structural beams, etc.

The Old Town 1906 Queen Anne Victorian originally had beautiful bones, just a claustrophobic and fussy feel. The new owners expressed that they wanted an open feeling, more flow and the ability to bring a modern sensibility to the home without losing its old-world character. In addition, they wanted to finish the basement, doubling the size of the house.

Initially, the basement was downright scary with a dirt floor root cellar, exposed fraying electrical and corroded plumbing, appearing to be a dumping ground for who-knows-what over the years. It was definitely a place I would recommend avoiding after dark – or even in the daylight hours!

We ignored the notion that basements should always be painted light colors and went for warm and modern. The floor tile was a place to save some money.  It is commercial grade quarry tile.  It had the slightly industrial look we wanted down here.

We decided to treat the downstairs as a clean slate that could be modernized more-so than the main floor. However, we planned to still relate back to the main floor with deep modern, neutral paint colors and floor tiles. Additionally, the guest room doors are modern versions of the upstairs original doors.

Although we redid the entire basement for approximately $75,000, it is difficult to estimate just how much of the budget went solely into this guest room. Ultimately, we got a lot of bang for our buck.

At the end of the day, the house went from being a tiny three bedroom/one bathroom house to a four bedroom/three bathroom house complete with family room, play room, laundry room and breakfast room. Finding the brick wall in this bedroom and exposing it truly gave the room a lot of character.

By Lisa Demberg, Designer