#MinimalistMonday | A Series on Simplification and Decluttering


There’s #ThrowbackThursday, #TransformationTuesday, and an Instagrammable subject for almost every day of the week. So we wanted to make sure beloved Monday was included in the fun. Okay, we suppose there is #ManCrushMonday, but the only way to tie that back to the subject of homes is by babbling about The Property Brothers on HGTV, and that’s already been done.

So instead, we chose to create a #MinimalistMonday series and highlight the minimalist style in a unique way. We couldn’t think of a better way to approach this subject than referencing some key ideas from Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” It covers the KonMari Method, a Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. The artist behind the art is Kondo, a professional cleaning consultant with a three-month waiting list.

Marie Kondo Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Kondo’s approach to decluttering is incredibly unique and frankly, unheard of. We have all read snippets of advice encouraging organizers to tackle a home room-by-room or even drawer-by-drawer. We’ve also pinned countless tutorials on organizational tools or methods on our Pinterest boards. Kondo throws all of the above out the window within the pages of this short but life-changing book. (And we’re not just saying that because “life-changing” is in the title!)

Instead of this gradual process that can often take months to achieve results, Kondo recommends a one-time, drastic overhaul of all of your belongings. She stresses the importance of feeling a sense of accomplishment and recognizing a noticeable difference in your home’s inventory. If you slowly get rid of things, you will not quite get this important sense of relief that will encourage you to keep your home in a state of simplicity.

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” also refutes the concept of organizational methods. Kondo even states that “storage experts can be hoarders.” Her theory is simple — if something you own doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it. You therefore have no need for it.

Kondo is also careful to help readers approach this overwhelming project in a tangible way by outlining the exact order in which you should declutter your home. She says it’s much more effective to go through your things by category rather than location. She will then hold your hand through this process, mentioning each specific category in the order you should work through them. She delves into categories you don’t even remember exist, like certain types of important paperwork. Kondo also helps you overcome emotional attachment to old relics or memorabilia. Her words are truly therapeutic and speak to clutter on the psychological level.

Marie Kondo Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

There’s much more to learn from this book than our quick overview. That’s why we decided to unpack her main ideas over the month of December within our #MinimalistMonday series. But don’t wait until next Monday to get the details! You can order “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” right now and get information and inspiration straight from the source. We recommend getting a head start on your decluttering by ordering the Kindle version of the book so as to not contribute to the ever-growing physical book collection you’ve created over the years.

Dig deeper with Kondo’s companion book called “Spark Joy”, an in-depth, illustrated manual that delves further into the KonMari Method. She gets into the specifics with this second book, spelling out the decluttering process in clear and concise language, accompanied by helpful line drawings. Learn from this minimalism master in order to create a home environment that truly sparks joy.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF: Slate, Erin Depew, The Mommy Blog and My Creative Photography


Support Local Artists at the Freedom Holiday Market


Remember our discussion about the best coffee shops in Fort Collins? If not, feel free to take a gander. If so, you already know all about The Bean Cycle, which shares a space with Wolverine Farm Publishing & Bookstore. Well, the two are not limited to sharing a building and the coffee and books therein. They also share a love for supporting local artists and the art community as a whole.

The Bean Cycle and Wolverine Farm are hosting their 7th annual Freedom Holiday Market on Saturday, December 5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This artisanal market will feature 15 Coloradoan makers who were carefully selected by a jury. In fact, there is a strict application process that ensures all vendors present will debut only handcrafted, unique, high quality and Colorado-made pieces.

This holiday craft fair is part of a series of markets, gallery shows and creative events occurring throughout the year, which function under a unique setup. At most events, including the Freedom Holiday Market, artists are not charged a booth fee that they are typically expected to pay at other creative expos. Instead, participating artists “pay” by sacrificing their volunteer time to help set up, clean up and promote the event. This approach encourages a sense of community collaboration and allows the market to go well as everyone is involved and invested in its success. As the Freedom Market says, “the events are everyone’s.”

Snatch a few free cookies up for grabs at the Holiday Freedom Market on December 5, and peruse the booths filled with impressive handcrafted items made right here in Colorado. This is the perfect time to get some holiday shopping done well in advance. And may we submit that a gift of this quality and character will mean all the more to your loved ones? If you just can’t wait to run your fingers through said art pieces, here’s a preview of what you might see at the Freedom Holiday Market.

Pick up an inspiring — and often hilarious — quote inscribed on pieces of wood with Lauren Larkin’s wood burning method.

Freedom Holiday Market

Or pick up a unique ceramic piece from Fort Collins’ own Made In Ceramics.

Freedom Holiday Market

Make your home emit winter fragrances with a soy Mason jar candle from And The People.

Freedom Holiday Market

Grab a one-of-a-kind handmade card from PageFiftyFive and scribble a sweet note to the bike lover in your life. You know they’ll appreciate the accurately labeled bicycle.

Freedom Holiday Market

You might just see a cardboard creature or two from illustrator and maker Allie Ogg. This girl has a wide variety of talents!

Freedom Holiday Market

Grab a little something for yourself, and improve your quality of life in the meantime, with a holistic herbal remedy from WildWoods Wellness.

Freedom Holiday Market

There’s something extra impressive about handwoven works. See for yourself by checking out Sarah Neubert’s weavings in the form of wall hangings and wearables.

Freedom Holiday Market

Vendors at the 2015 Freedom Holiday Market:

1. Lauren Larkin Art

2. Made In Ceramics

3. And The People

4. Stacy Sevelin

5. PageFiftyFive

6. Artofherown

7. Hannah Made This

8. Patrick Richardson

9. Allie Ogg

10. SheRise Ceramics and Illustration

11. WildWoods Wellness

12. Twelve Little Tales

13. Silver Poppy Jewelry

14. Sarah Neubert

15. Johanna Mueller


Choose Your Own Adventure: #OptOutside in Fort Collins This Black Friday


It’s no secret that Black Friday is an incredible money-making opportunity for businesses all across the country. In fact, several retail companies might consider it their most profitable and most important day of business within the year.

So the country is understandably displaying a synchronized jaw drop at the discovery that a prominent business in retail has decided to close its doors on such a day. Recreational Equipment, Inc., commonly known as REI, will be closed on Black Friday in order to stand behind the very message that they live by. They are even paying their employees for this time off, encouraging them to #OptOutside instead. And REI is encouraging would-be shoppers to head outside as well, on a day that is typically among their top 10 days for annual sales.

Furthermore, they are halting the processing of their online sales. Customers can still place orders on the REI website, but will be diverted with a cover screen that encourages them to venture outside instead. So don’t worry — you can still order those hiking boots from your iPhone while standing on top of a mountain!

REI #OptOutside Black Friday

REI created a website dedicated to their #OptOutside proposal, inviting people to share how they will spend their time outdoors on November 27. Adventurers can select the image and activity of their choice to share with the world, thus creating a ripple effect of this movement in cyberspace.

So naturally, this business move has created quite the buzz online, as REI is making a bold statement about its core values as a company. Their business centers on and promotes an outdoor lifestyle, so it only makes sense that they would divert attention away from massive sales and towards the very reason the company exists in the first place.

According to REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke, he “acknowledges the business is taking a risk by closing, but he’s more concerned with the message the company sends to consumers.”

We so admire REI’s brave proclamation and willingness to swim against the massive, overwhelming and ever-flowing current that is Black Friday. (Literally. Have you seen one of those mobs of angry moms busting through a store entrance at 5 a.m.?)

We stand behind REI’s #OptOutside mission and hope you will too. That is why we wanted to make your drastic transition from consumer to countryman as painless as possible. So here are some ways you can #OptOutside in Fort Collins this Black Friday. Trade in your peacoats and coffee cups for a windbreaker and water bottle, because it’s time to explore the great outdoors.


Take a Hike

Hiking is an outdoor activity that requires very little equipment and preparation but is a rewarding way to get immersed in your outdoor surroundings. We’ve previously mentioned a few hikes you can take to see the changing of the aspens, but this time we’ll leave the researching to you. There are countless hiking trails near Fort Collins that are worth exploring. (Hint: The Poudre River Trail is the closest trail to Fort Collins, and it is also paved!) This Black Friday is the perfect designated time off from work to spend hiking along your favorite and frequently traveled trail, or to map out your route on some unfamiliar terrain. Either way, clock in those steps outside that you would normally spend inside.

Poudre River Trail Fort Collins

Ride a Bike

Ah, yes. A section on biking while on the subject of Fort Collins activities. Who would have guessed? Maybe your bike has sat neglected in your garage the last few weeks because of the colder weather. This Black Friday is the perfect time to dust those wheels off, review our Survival Guide for Biking in the Winter, and get moving! You may also rest — well, pedal — at ease knowing that you are riding in a city that fosters a safe and enjoyable bicyclist community. So pick a trail, any trail and cruise around Fort Collins on a joy ride while shoppers everywhere are pushing and couponing.

Biking in Colorado


Hit the Slopes

Speaking of cold, bundle up in your warmest gear and hit the ski slopes on Black Friday. It may be less crowded with all the traffic directed towards the mall instead of the mountains. You probably have an idea of where you might go skiing or snowboarding if you’ve lived in the area during the winter season. But if not, might we suggest Eldora Mountain Resort, Loveland Ski Area, Berthoud Pass, Echo Mountain, Snowy Range Ski & Recreation Area or Arapahoe Basin? Whatever location you choose, you’re bound to have a mountaintop experience. Literally.

Loveland Ski Area


Stomp the Snow

If you haven’t tried snowshoeing yet — in any setting, but particularly Colorado — you are missing out on a unique and relaxing outdoor winter activity. But there is some work involved, as certain snow terrains can prove more difficult to stomp through. Some of the best snowshoeing locations nearby are as follows:

Upper Beaver Meadows: 1.5 miles one-way; gorgeous meadow trail with possible elk sightings

Odessa Lake: 3.9 miles one-way; strenuous journey with breathtaking views of Glacier Gorge, Mill Creek and Longs Peak

Blue Lake Trail: 6.9 miles; long but scenic trail to high-mountain lake

Rent some snowshoes from Jax Mercantile (costing $12 for adults and $5 for kids) and head to one of these places, or wherever else your floppy shoes take you! You’ll be surprised by the peace you’ll feel in such a setting, as the snow absorbs all sounds and the only commuters are rabbits, deer and fellow outdoor adventurers.

Snowshoeing in Colorado


Pitch a Tent

You might think camping is solely reserved for the spring and summer months, but there are several dedicated year-round campers who would beg to differ. In fact, after Labor Day, campsites in Larimer County tend to not be jampacked or reserved well in advance. So you will have a better chance of finding a spot and setting up camp as the weather gets cooler. Bundle up, check out the detailed information regarding campsites in the area and make a reservation if you’re willing to commit to #OptOutside this Black Friday. Larimer County Natural Resources operates campgrounds at several nearby parks, some of which include:

Carter Lake Campgrounds: 45 minutes from Fort Collins

Flatiron Reservoir Campground: 40 minutes from Fort Collins

Pinewood Reservoir Campgrounds: 45 minutes from Fort Collins

Hermit Park Open Space: 1 hour 15 minutes from Fort Collins

Horsetooth Reservoir: 18 minutes from Fort Collins

Camping at Horsetooth Reservoir


Tube and Turn

Speed down a snowy hill on board an inflated tube just about an hour northwest of Fort Collins at Beaver Meadows Resort Ranch. Choose a single or double tube and slide down Beaver Meadows’ powder-filled hill made perfect for tubing. And don’t worry about hiking all the way uphill towing a heavy tube after each ride, because they have a lift that will pull you to the top. And then you can do it all over again! And again. And again. After you’ve suffered a few bumps and a sore tailbone to prove it, sit back, relax and warm up at Beaver Meadows’ full-service restaurant and bar. So purchase a 2-hour, half-day or full-day activity pass and have the time of your life as you #OptOutside the Black Friday.

Beaver Meadows Resort Ranch Tubing


Cast a Line

Maybe you would prefer a more relaxing outdoor activity instead. Thankfully, there are several fishing spots around Fort Collins that will provide just the right mixture of outdoor activity and relaxation. One of our favorites is Georgetown Lake, located two hours southwest of Fort Collins. It might be a driving commitment, but we think the scenic drive to this lake is worth the commute.

Georgetown Lake hosts trout, browns, rainbows and brooks in its waters, and it has become very popular for winter ice fishing. In fact, even if you were planning on bringing a boat to fish from, keep in mind that Georgetown Lake does not permit motor boats. The only motors allowed are cars that sit on top of the ice during ice fishing season and for races!

You may keep fish over 8 inches in length, and the limit is four per adult and two per child. For those over the age of 16, you must purchase a fishing license in advance. If you don’t already have one, you may do so at Black Diamond Ski & Bike Rentals conveniently located just down the road.

Georgetown Lake Ice Fishing


Take a Sip

If all of the above sounds too strenuous or exhausting and you would rather sit back with a beer and some small bites, we invite you to do that very thing… outside. As you’re well aware, Fort Collins has an impressive selection of craft breweries and eateries, several of which have outdoor seating available. This is a most appropriate option in a state that seems to attract the ever-present sunshine. You might check out Odell Brewing Company, CooperSmith’s Pub and Brewery, Fort Collins Brewery or, one we’ve mentioned in regards to a certain cocktailCoppermuse Distillery. There are plenty more, but those suggestions might help get your mind rolling! If you get this route, you’re still choosing to #OptOutside, and there’s nothing wrong with kicking back on a typically stressful day.

Odell Brewing Outdoor Patio


Share your adventure!

Don’t forget to share with the world whatever you end up doing as you #OptOutside in Fort Collins this Black Friday.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF: REI, The Poudre River Trail, Front Range Ride Guides Ltd., Liftopia, Rocky Mountain Conservancy, Rocks and Sun, Coloradoan, TripAdvisor, Uncover Colorado, Ice Fishing Colorado and A Train Marketing


The Best Coffee Shops in Fort Collins [Interactive Map]


We personally think coffee is a necessity most days, but it is particularly vital as the weather outside changes along with the leaves. With so many wonderful coffee shops in Fort Collins, we thought we would let you know a little bit about some of our favorites. We even mapped them out for you so you can easily locate the nearest shop during your next caffeine emergency! So find the location nearest you, match the number with the corresponding coffee shop, or vice versa. Either way, we’re hoping this helps simplify your search for the perfect cup of coffee in Fort Collins!

View Fort Collins Coffee Shops in a full screen map

1. Alley Cat Coffee House

Open All Day Every Day

The door never closes at Alley Cat Coffee House, as they are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So at whatever hour you are seeking coffee or baked goods, Alley Cat is there to cater to your every need. Choose your favorite coffee or espresso option, specialty latte or steamer, smoothie or shake, or grab a delectable breakfast or lunch item. Keep in mind that they are especially known for their amazing Alley Cat House Chai, so be sure to try one during your next visit. But whatever you order, you’ll love your warm, unique and creativity-inducing surroundings at Alley Cat Coffee House.

Best Coffee Shops in Fort Collins


2. The Bean Cycle

Monday-Thursday 7 a.m.-9 p.m.

Friday and Saturday 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

Sunday 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

Coffee and books go hand-in-hand, and The Bean Cycle in Old Town has decided to capitalize on this celebrated partnership. They share a space with Wolverine Farm Publishing and Bookstore, so coffee drinkers are within feet of good reads during their visit to The Bean Cycle. This scholarly setting also happens to form an atmosphere conducive to studying or working on your laptop. And on top of it all, their coffee is worth writing home about as well. They of course provide coffee by the cup but also sell coffee in whole bean form, as they are in fact a coffee roaster. The Bean Cycle roasts their coffee in-house on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and open up their brew bar tasting room for their roastery on Friday afternoons.

The Bean Cycle Fort Collins


3. Bindle Coffee

Monday-Saturday 6 a.m.-6 p.m.

Sunday 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Remember the Jessup Farm Artisan Village we spoke of? On the grounds of this creative village teeming with activity lies Bindle Coffee. Husband and wife owners Andrew and Jenn Webb care deeply about where their coffee beans come from and how its farmers and consumers are treated. Their global worldview is obvious while inside their shop, as they have a large world map displayed on the wall, indicating where their beans are currently from. They then roast said beans in-house within the walls of their transformed 19th century mechanic’s shop. Bindle wants you to “Sit + Savor” a carefully crafted cup in their shop, and we encourage you to do the same!

Bindle Coffee Fort Collins


4. Everyday Joe’s Coffee House

Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m.


There’s something going on every day at Everyday Joe’s Coffee House — even when they’re closed on Sundays. In fact, that’s how this rustic shop even came to be! In 2002, Timberline Old Town Church started meeting in this space in Old Town on Sundays but it sat empty during the other days of the week. The church wanted to use their space to serve and benefit the community on those days, so Everyday Joe’s Coffee House was born. It is a non-profit, volunteer-powered coffee house, so you’ll know that every dollar spent there is going to a good cause in the community. Harvesting beans from roasters Oddly Correct and Huckleberry Roasters, Everyday Joe’s take great care when crafting the perfect cup of coffee for their guests. They also serve wonderful loose leaf teas blended locally by The Tea Table and make their own chai concentrate in-house almost every day.

Everyday Joe's Coffee House Fort Collins


5. Flat Hat Coffee

Tuesday-Friday 7 a.m.-3 p.m.

Saturday-Sunday 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

A new shop has emerged on the coffee scene in Fort Collins and we are so glad it did. Flat Hat Coffee opened its doors in the summer of 2015 and has been serving quality coffee ever since. Why the name Flat Hat? The term “flat-hatting” means flying an airplane so close to the ground that it flattens the hat of someone below. One of the Flat Hat owners, Eric Wisner, was previously an EMS helicopter pilot and his grandfather flew planes in World War II, so this term was very much in his vocabulary. The shop provides quality coffee and keeps things simple with their offerings. We submit that this less-is-more approach means they’ll have a much better product in the end! They too use Denver’s Huckleberry Roasters for their coffee beans, and receive tea and flavorings from Fort Collins’ own Old Town Spice Shop.

Flat Hat Coffee Fort Collins


6. Harbinger Coffee

Monday-Saturday 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Sunday 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

The word harbinger means “one that pioneers or initiates a major change.” And that is exactly what Harbinger Coffee is doing in the coffee world. According to their website, they are “dedicated to changing the way you think about coffee.” They certainly succeed in that mission due to their focus on serving some of the finest coffees from around the world and educating consumers in the process. They offer periodical coffee tastings and are so clearly passionate about educating about their coffees and the brewing process as a whole. Overall, Harbinger has a minimalistic approach to their shop design and coffee selections, which is both refreshing and relaxing in a cluttered society.

Harbinger Coffee Fort Collins


7. The Haunted Game Cafe

Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Sunday 12-7 p.m.

If you’re one who enjoys gaming — like Dungeons & Dragons or The Settlers of Catan — the chances are you also tend to stay up late and depend on coffee to get through the day. This combination means we have found the caffeinated gaming oasis just for you! The Haunted Game Cafe is a full-service retail game store and coffeeshop that offers a diverse menu of coffee, espresso drinks, chais, hot chocolate, smoothies and tea. But no gaming marathon is complete without food — particularly pizza and candy bars!

The Haunted Game Cafe Fort Collins


8. Momo Lolo Coffee House

Weekdays 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

Weekends 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

According to this next coffee stop, “Momo Lolo is a coffee house for neighbors and friends. It is a place to quickly come in to get a cup of coffee to go along with a bite to eat. It is also a place to hang out with old friends and meet new ones. It is a place for study and study groups. It is a place for business and for play. Our hope is that every time you leave the shop you are better off than you were when you walked in. That difference may be as small as a shot of caffeine or as large as a new lifelong friend.” We certainly agree! This cozy shop is nestled in the Campus West shopping center near Colorado State University. Come for the coffee and stay for the inviting environment!

Momo Lolo Coffee House


9-10. Mugs Coffee Lounge

The Oval Location Hours:

Monday-Thursday 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

Friday 6 a.m.-6 p.m.

Saturday 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

Sunday 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

Downtown Location Hours:

Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-9 p.m.

Some of our favorite qualities in a business include being locally owned, family owned, economically focused and community-centered. Mugs Coffee Lounge happens to possess all of these qualities and more. Stop by for a quick cup of coffee, hang out in their underground lounge or recruit Mugs to cater your next business meeting or event. Mugs Coffee Lounge has two locations — one downtown and one at The Oval — so wherever you are in Fort Collins, you you are not too far from one of the best cups of coffee.

Mugs Coffee Lounge Fort Collins


Who serves your favorite cup of coffee in Fort Collins?

We know full well that we were not able to include all the caffeination sources in the Fort Collins area. So tell us what we missed and we might even add it to our list!


PHOTOS COURTESY OF: Alleycat Cafe, The Bean Cycle, Bindle Coffee, Everyday Joe’s Coffee House, Flat Hat Coffee, Harbinger Coffee, The Haunted Game Cafe, Momo Lolo Coffee House and Mugs Coffee Lounge


Hosting The Perfect Holiday Party (Without Breaking The Bank!)


Hosting a holiday party might sound like an intimidating feat or something that only domestic professionals can achieve. We decided to straighten out this misconception and compiled some resources and ideas for hosting a holiday party without breaking the bank or losing your mind. Sound impossible? Read on!

Hosting the perfect holiday party



So you want to host a holiday party and you already have visions of sugar plums dancing in your head. Awesome. But you simply can’t have a party without guests! Make sure your friends know well in advance about this occasion so they can fit it into their crowded holiday schedules. You could opt to invite your guests via text, send a simple Evite with the details, or get crafty with one of these adorable invitations.

You can print one of these FREE printable party invitations from Greetings Island. Customize the card by filling in your own details and then download the printable file!

Printable Holiday Cards


Take it to the next level with this DIY woodland party invitation from Oh Happy Day.

Or print out this light garland printable invitation and grab your scissors! We love this fun look — plus it’s free!

Printable Holiday Party Invitation

Tone down the colors and turn up the class with a “Winter Wonderland” holiday invitation, customized through a graphic designer on Etsy.



Before any ovens are preheated or candles are lit, you must ensure that your home is properly decorated for the evening’s feast and festivities. We recommend doing this well in advance so as to avoid unnecessary stress or last-minute trips to the store on the day of the party. It also allows you to enjoy your hard work for a longer period of time. There’s nothing wrong with some late-November twinkling lights!

Here are some of our favorite DIY decoration looks that will brighten up your at-home venue and get your guests in the holiday spirit.

Greet guests with a friendly face by turning a plain white door into a life-size snowman.

How magical are these Anthropologie-esque snow globes made out of upside-down mason jars?

DIY Snowglobes for the holidays

Although this isn’t a visual idea, check out this list of ways to make your home smell like Christmas, because we think wintery scents are important for creating a cozy ambiance in your space.

DIY Christmas Scents - Stovetop Potpourri

Running late with your decoration timeline? Throw together one of these last-minute decoration ideas. We particularly like the lighted burlap garland for a festive table centerpiece.



Now that the scene is set and the guests have arrived, they might be a little puzzled to discover a dormant oven and plates hiding in the cupboard. Whether you decide to provide small appetizers or an entire holiday feast, food is a necessary component of a successful party. Once again, it’s important to prepare for this ahead of time by buying the necessary ingredients on any day other than the event date. But we all know food is tricky timing-wise, as you can’t make a dish too far in advance! Consider doing a trial run of your party menu a week or two before, to know how it will all pan out and what cooking hiccups you can avoid on the day of the party.

Here are a few of our favorite recipes and culinary ideas for you to consider. The possibilities are endless in this category!

You might serve this bright and beautiful Roasted Balsamic Cranberry and Brie Crostini as an appetizer.

Roasted Balsamic Cranberry and Brie Crostini

Or create these adorable pita bread and guacamole mini Christmas tree appetizers, which will taste as good as they look!

There are plenty of centerpiece roast recipes available but maybe a wintery pasta is the way to go for easily feeding the masses. It’s up to you!

Holiday Roast Recipes

Lighten the meal up with a fresh and festive winter salad. Our favorite is the green olive, pomegranate and walnut salad!



Continue the merriment with some holiday drinks for your guests to sip on. Even the colder drinks are sure to warm up your system internally, and they will perfectly complement the holiday dishes you serve. Select the drink from this list that intrigues you the most, grab the ingredients and serve it at your holiday party! You might also consider asking people to bring their favorite holiday cocktail to your gathering in order to lighten the financial burden of hosting, and to provide a wide variety of flavors for your guests. Cheers!

Sick of eggnog this time of year? Have no fear and scroll through these Christmas cocktails that proudly do not include eggnog. We’re dying to try the Fresh Cranberry Ginger Vanilla Margaritas served with sugared cranberries!

Fresh Cranberry Ginger Vanilla Margaritas

Give this wonderfully spiced, winter-warming mulled wine recipe a try! If you haven’t yet been bold enough to try warm wine, this is the perfect time. Not only will it taste great, but it has the added benefit of making your house smell amazing as it simmers!

Mulled Spice Wine Recipe

Sweeten things up with a White Chocolate Peppermint Bark Martini or a Homemade White Chocolate Liqueur concoction.

If you’re wanting to appeal to the 21 and under crowd, serve some Hot Wassail — a comforting combination of apple cider, orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.

Hot Wassail Recipe



No holiday gathering is complete without a decadent dessert of some sort. We’ve gathered our favorite rich, chocolatey, pepperminty and wintery desserts to top off your evening with. Once again, this might be a category in which you ask guests to bring their favorite dessert. But if you’re feeling ambitious, create one or two of these yourself to relieve your guests and provide a complete holiday party experience. These particular recipes are pushing our holiday dessert cravings over the edge.

Decorate your table and feed the masses with these adorable Melted Snowmen Oreo Balls.

Melted Snowman Holiday Dessert

Or create something your guests can easily grab handfuls of throughout the evening, like this sweet and salty Christmas Crunch Funfetti Popcorn.

Do you love Andes Peppermint candy? This recipe is for you! Keep the party rollin’ with this Chocolate Peppermint Roll.

Chocolate peppermint Roll Recipe

And how cute are these White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies?


Ta da! It’s time to party.

Now piece all of these elements together and invite your family, neighbors, friends and co-workers to your home for a holiday party they won’t forget!


PHOTOS COURTESY OF: Greetings Island, A Subtle Revelry, Whipperberry, Good Housekeeping, Neighbor Food, Food & Wine, How Sweet It Is, Adeline & Lumiere, Yummy Healthy Easy, The Girl Who Ate Everything, and Bakers Royale.


2015 Holiday Events in the Northern Colorado Area


The holiday season can be busy and hectic. But who could possibly complain about overindulging in candy canes and apple cider while surrounded by twinkling lights and gingerbread houses? So we find ourselves commuting from one holiday party to the next, baking numerous casseroles and desserts, and scheduling community events into our already busy calendars, in order to make the most of the festivities this time of year.

We are looking forward to several holiday events in the NoCo area and wanted to make sure you knew about them as well. There’s already a magical feeling in the air that comes along with the holiday season, and it will be made all the better with these festivities!


Friday, November 13:  Foothills Holiday Opening Festivities

6 p.m. | Foothills Mall | FREE


We have all anxiously awaited the unveiling of the transformation of Foothills Mall, which added several new stores to its retail repertoire complete with upgraded architecture. Since February 2014, the mall has undergone a “Renaissance on the Front Range”, and the results rightfully reflect its progressive and innovative outdoor-centric community. The renovations at Foothills Mall added Bar Louie, Cinemark, Grimaldi’s Brick Oven Pizza, Gymboree, H&M, Longhorn Steakhouse, Nordstrom Rack, Ross, Smashburger, Sports Authority, The Melt, Vans, Verizon and White House / Black Market to the layout.

To celebrate the completion of this enormous project, Foothills Mall is hosting a holiday tree-lighting event and the guest of honor is none other than St. Nick himself. These holiday opening festivities will take place in the Foothills Center Court on November 13 at 6 p.m. Santa Claus will arrive by firetruck to light the tree and will stick around for visits and photos. While you wait to have your moment with Santa, you can enjoy strolling carolers, facepainters and balloon artists, hot chocolate, cookie decorating, a visit with Cam the Ram, and of course all the holiday shopping you can imagine. This evening is a wonderful opportunity to kick-start the holiday season and celebrate the impressive improvements to this community staple!

Foothills Mall Opening Festivities


Friday, November 13: A Tuna Christmas

7:30 p.m. | Varying Costs


Head over to Bas Bleu Theatre Company for a highly unique performance experience this holiday season. “A Tuna Christmas” is in fact not about eating stinky fish products on Christmas; it is a holiday play that takes place in fictitious Tuna, Texas, played by a cast lineup consisting of two people. That’s right — two actors play 17 different male and female roles ranging from radio announcers to pre-teens to elderly aunts to a middle-aged business owner. In all of these roles, they are sure to make fun of the state of Texas in one form or another.

The curtains first open on Friday, November 13 at 7:30 p.m. and the ticket price is up to you! In other words, for this night only, the entrance fee is on a “Pay-What-You-Will” basis. On future showtime dates starting on November 14, tickets cost $26 for adults, $20 for seniors, $18 on Thursday evenings and Sunday matinees, $13 for students and $6 for low-income individuals.

The show will run until December 27, so you have plenty of opportunities to support the local arts by seeing “A Tuna Christmas” with your friends or family members. You may purchase tickets online or in-person at the Bas Bleu Theatre Company box office, but take a look at their hours before you go! Tuna and Christmas are an unlikely pair, but we think you’ll like them together in this context.

A Tuna Christmas

Can’t imagine what this show might entail? This might give you a better idea:


Monday, November 16, 23, 30: Up-cycle Books Into Holiday Crafts

6 p.m. | $15


Get crafty at Old Firehouse Books by learning how to Recycle Books Into Holiday Crafts during their three remaining classes throughout the month of November. They will be held on November 16, 23 and 30 at 6 p.m. and will focus on the repurposing of old books into holiday gifts or decorations. Attendees at the November 16th class will make book tree centerpieces by folding pages of an old book. The November 23rd class will teach the designs of three different snowflakes formed out of old book pages. At the November 30th class, the project consists of creating four types of ornaments out of — you guessed it! — old book pages.

Each class costs $15 and the fee includes all the supplies needed to create your masterpiece(s). So you’ll be able to take home several handmade products that you’ll be proud of and be able to display in your home throughout the season or gift to a loved one. This is a fun opportunity to do something relaxing and creative as you prepare for the more hectic days of December!

Visit the Old Firehouse Books website for more information and be sure to reserve your tickets by calling 970-484-7898.

Recycle Old Books Into Holiday Crafts


November 27-December 13: Santa Shopping Quest


Chances are you’ll be shopping quite a bit in preparation for the holidays, so why not enhance your experience and turn it into a game? This particular game gives you a chance to win big.

Participate in Downtown Fort Collins’ Santa Quest between the dates of November 27 and December 13. The game is simple and so much fun! First, pick up a Santa Quest Card at any of the 20-30 participating local businesses. Each of those businesses will have a personalized named Santa in their store with a gold star on it that you must record on your Santa Quest Card.

Once you locate and record the name of 15 different Santas, you can submit your card at any of the locations to be entered for a chance to win one of two prizes — either a $200 or $300 Downtown Fort Collins gift card! But it gets better! If you find all existing Santas, you will be entered into an additional contest to win a $500 gift card.

We fully endorse shopping at, and therefore supporting, local businesses. This is a wonderful opportunity to do just that — and to have some fun and participate in a friendly and interactive competition in the meantime!

Downtown Fort Collins Santa Shopping Quest


Saturday, November 28: Greeley Lights the Night Parade

5:30-7 p.m. | FREE


Journey to downtown Greeley to watch the town come to life as the flip is switched for the glowing lights in Lincoln Park. But before that anticipated moment, you can observe over 50 floats travel through downtown during a lively parade starting at 5:30 p.m. and ending at 7 p.m. This is the 20th year for the Greeley Lights the Night Parade, so you won’t want to miss it, especially because admission is free!

The parade starts at the intersection of 9th Avenue and 15th Street and ends at Lincoln Park with a lighting ceremony. And rumor has it that Santa Claus might just make an appearance at the park!

If you’re interested in entering a float for the parade, you must pay $30 and contact Sara Schell for more information. Whether traveling by float or by foot, we hope you’ll be a part of this festive processional tradition!

Greeley Lights the Night Parade


Sunday, December 6: Dickens Dinner 2015

6:30 p.m. | $72


Indulge in an authentic four-course Victorian feast at the Dickens Dinner at Fort Collins Country Club on Sunday, December 6 at 6:30 p.m. Not only will your tastebuds step back in time but your ears will as well, as guests will be serenaded with beautiful musical performances by elegantly costumed Dickens Carolers throughout the evening. The events of the dinner include a wassail toast, a parade of the boar’s head, a soup course, a full concert while guests enjoy their main entree of choice, culminating with a flaming figgy pudding. Wondering about that entree we spoke of? You can choose from Chicken Grand Marnier, Roasted Pork Loin or Vegetable Streudel.

Formal attire is not required, but guests are invited to wear their festive Christmas finery, which means it’s time to whip out that green velvet dress! Each table seats 10 people, so send this post to your nine favorite people and ring in the holiday season alongside them in one of the more authentic and classy settings we could imagine. You must buy tickets in advance for this event before November 24 — so hurry! This one-night-only dinner will sell out fast.

A Dickens Dinner 2015


Saturday, December 12: Dasher 5K in Estes Park

11 a.m. | $10-$25


Maybe after all that figgy pudding at the Dickens Dinner, you’ll find yourself wanting to burn off a few calories. Well, perfect! We have just the holiday event for you, and it even allows you a few days of recovery after that huge meal.

Dash to the enchanting town of Estes Park for the Dasher 5K race on Saturday, December 12. You can run or walk on the path of Santa’s reindeer training course in one of the most beautiful mountainous settings. The course starts at the top of MacGregor Avenue, weaves through downtown Estes Park and ends in front of Town Hall.

Kids can participate in a 400-meter dash at 10:30 a.m. and the Dasher 5K begins at 11 a.m. But stick around for the awards at 11:45 a.m., which will include various categories according to age and gender. After you’ve signed up online, show up for registration starting at 10 a.m. in front of Town Hall.

After all is said and done and you have the sweat on your back to prove your hard work, unwind with a day or evening spent perusing the shops at Estes Park to get some last-minute shopping done. You may end up looking like Rudolph with a red nose after your chilly run, so bundle up, grab some coffee or cocoa along the way, and spend some time in this charming and action-packed town.

Mark your calendars for the Dasher 5K on the morning of December 12. If a reindeer can run this course, so can you!

Dasher 5K in Estes Park


Ongoing Avery House Holiday Events


It’s also worth mentioning that Avery House hosts several holiday events throughout the season. Along the lines of the Dickens Dinner, visit this Victorian-style house dressed up in vintage decorations while enjoying live music, and receive tours from costumed hosts. Father Christmas may even make a grand appearance during your stay at Avery House!

You can also pick up some holiday gifts at the Avery Carriage House boutique, where you’ll find craft items, books, baked goods, homemade toffee and various gift items. Most events are free unless otherwise specified, but donations are appreciated.

The Avery House event schedule is as follows:

Tours & Boutique: Saturday, November 28 and Sunday, November 29 from 1-4 p.m.

“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”: Friday, December 4 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, December 5 at 4:30 p.m.

  • $3 per child
  • Includes book reading, house tour and refreshments
  • Reservations required (email poudrelandmarks@gmail.com or call 970-221-0533)

Holiday Open House / Tours & Boutique: Saturday, December 5 and Sunday, December 6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Holiday Tea at the Avery Carriage House: Varied dates/times available

  • For 10-12 guests
  • Email poudrelandmarks@gmail.com or call 970-221-0533 for details and pricing

Shop the Avery Carriage House Boutique: 11/28, 11/29, 12/5, 12/6, 12/12 and 12/13 from 1-4 p.m.

  • Crafted items, gifts, candy, baked items, books and more
  • Enjoy complimentary hot cider while shopping!

Avery House Fort Collins

PHOTOS COURTESY OF: Foothills Mall, Bas Bleu Theatre Company, Old Firehouse Books, Colorado State University, Greeley Unexpected, K99, Larimer Chorale, Best Events and Wikimedia


The Survival Guide for Biking in the Winter


If you read our list of reasons other cities are jealous of Fort Collins, you certainly gathered that biking is a significant part of our culture. Or just take a look around! The residents of Fort Collins are trading car keys for pedals more and more, as biking is widely accepted and celebrated in our city. In fact, there are whole organizations focused on fostering this activity.

So when the temperature drops and rainy mornings are a little less motivating for a two-wheeled commute, we wanted to make sure you knew how to survive biking in the winter. So read over this list and help prepare yourself for the colder days ahead.

It should also be noted that this resiliency is not recommended for everyone. Obvious extreme and dangerous weather conditions mean you should avoid this form of transportation altogether. But for those who are determined to cruise the streets year-round, here are some tips that may help you survive and thrive on the road.

Proper Warm Clothing and Footwear

Let’s start with something you’re probably most concerned about on the subject of biking in the winter — staying warm. However, this area is often misunderstood while preparing for a cold bike ride so make sure you clue into this piece of advice: don’t overdress! It’s easy to stack on the layers and overcompensate for the chilliness, which can actually lead to hypothermia or dehydration. Confused? Basically, your body will generate plenty of heat after you start riding, which will turn into sweat and make you colder when you stop pedalling at a stoplight, or some other reason for delay. And add wind to the mix and you’ve got an uncomfortable — and possibly even dangerous — combination!

Instead of bundling up like the kid in A Christmas Story, you’ll want to wear just enough clothing to keep you warm. In fact, a good rule of thumb is to wear what will leave you feeling a little cold as you start your trip. After enduring a few minutes of chilliness, your body will adjust and you’ll be perfectly comfortable and thankful you didn’t overdress.

If you’re like The Grinch, you may be asking yourself, “But what will I wear?!” We’ve got you covered (pun intended). We’ll go from your head to your toes.

Biking in Winter Colorado State University


Unless you’re nodding your head to a song, your head won’t be moving much during your ride. That means it is prone to getting much colder than the rest of your body and can be a significant place your body loses heat. So be sure to trap heat in with a warm head covering, such as a stocking cap. Make sure it fits under your helmet though! For added heat insurance, pack a scarf somewhere on board to throw on during the chilliest of days. Or start out wearing one and easily remove it if you get too toasty.

Base Layer

Your base layer should help keep you dry. Try to avoid cotton fabrics, as it will become a sweat sponge and since this layer will touch your skin, this will make your body temperature drop significantly. Gravitate towards polyester, nylon and spandex when choosing your base layer material. Choose something that will resist moisture, and will therefore keep you warm and dry.


Hands are another place you need to be wary of while gearing up for biking in cold conditions. You can picture it now — white, freezing knuckles exposed to the elements and enduring the harsh winds head-on. Not on our watch! Cover those fingers with the right gloves. Whatever the precipitation levels, it’s safe to stick with waterproof gloves just in case. But consider cycling gloves to ensure grippiness on slippery handles. It’s also smart to buy gloves that are flexible and will allow you to maneuver to adjust your brakes or shift gears.

To add to our list of movie references, it’s wiser to be more like Lloyd than Harry from “Dumb and Dumber” — on the subject of gloves at least.

Dumb and Dumber Harry and Lloyd Gloves


Outerwear is another important type of clothing to equip yourself with. Well, let’s face it — when dealing with winter weather and cycling through it, all items of clothing are important! Regardless, make sure you have an outer layer that will be a proper first line of defense against the wind and rain. If you’re traveling through cold but dry conditions, which is common during Fort Collins winters, a soft-shell jacket might just do the trick. It will keep you warm yet allow just enough wind to reach your body to counter the heat your body produces with physical movement. In cold and wet conditions, waterproof materials are a must. Consider a high-quality rain jacket with two-way zippers, so you can open the jacket from the bottom to allow some heat to escape if the rain pauses for a bit. Whatever the weather, it’s important to find an outer layer with a long back so it doesn’t ride up while you’re cycling.


Last but not least, let’s talk about your feet. Thick, wool socks are the wisest choice for properly keeping your feet warm and dry. But to further the dryness, you might consider adding waterproof booties on top of those. Now, how will all of this fit into those sleek and slender biking shoes? Maybe this is an area in which you might sacrifice your fashion for comfort and usability. You may need to wear oversized shoes or lightweight boots that are sure to fit your thick socks. Wear whatever footwear best fits your level of biking intensity.

But where do I get all of this stuff?

Consider buying bicycle clothing gear from a local Fort Collins company. Some of our favorites include The Gearage Outdoor Sports, Performance Bicycle, JAX Outdoor Gear and Khumbu Adventure Gear. All in all, we’re just trying to help you avoid looking like this guy:

Biking in Winter Fort Collins

Winter Bicycle Gear

So now you’re equipped with the right clothing and you’re ready to go! Not so fast. You first need to make sure your bike is ready to endure the elements as well.

Read this comprehensive checklist of winter cycling gear for your bicycle from a brave winter rider in Minneapolis. He explains the different components better than we could, due to his several years of experience cycling through harsh winters.

Biking in Winter Fort Collins

Road Conditions

The number one thing to remember while biking in the winter is to stay safe! It’s easy to forget that you’re riding in dangerous conditions once you get into a rhythm. The road surface can be significantly different in the winter, as rain and ice may make the roads slick. If it is too severe to handle, be sure to have an alternate form of transformation as a fall-back. No joy ride is worth a possible injury due to dangerous conditions.

It’s also important to remember that other commuters may be impaired due to the road conditions. Drivers are sometimes flustered in the rain, as their visibility decreases and they are more susceptible to experiencing sliding or hydroplaning. Not to mention, with darker lighting, they may miss seeing you as they change lanes or make turns. Be hyper-aware of distracted drivers and be on high alert, anticipating their every move.

Check out these more in-depth tips on staying safe while biking in winter conditions. If you are taking on this feat for the first time, it’s vital that you take all necessary precautions before doing so.

Staying Hydrated

It’s easy to forget to stay hydrated during winter rides because you already feel surrounded by moisture and the hot sun is not beating down on you as a reminder to drink up. So it’s important to be proactive in your H20 consumption by staying hydrated before, during and after your bike ride. This is a common mistake winter cyclists make, as they may be so focused on staying warm and dry. Don’t forget to take care of your insides just as much as your outsides by drinking plenty of water and eating the proper fuel food prior to your ride.

Biking in Winter Stay Hydrated

We hope you were able to learn a few things about surviving — and possibly even enjoying? — biking in the winter. It shouldn’t be a dreadful task, and can instead be enjoyed if the proper preparation is done ahead of time. So don’t be intimidated by the weather forecast during the winter months, and help keep the “beer, bands, bikes” trio alive year-round in Fort Collins.

Check out Recycled Cycles in Fort Collins if you’re in the market for a bike! They have thousands of new and used bikes for sale, suitable for all sorts of cycling.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF: Colorado State UniversityTumblr, TumblrTRI 102.5, The Coloradoan and Super Healthy Kids


Holiday-Inspired Dishes & Drinks From Local Fort Collins Restaurants


One of the necessary staples of the holiday season is the consumption of food and drinks. We gather around food to celebrate several occasions throughout the year, but the meals seem to be larger and higher in frequency once the temperature drops. To make sure you capitalize on the abundance of holiday dishes available in Fort Collins this time of year, we did some menu digging and discovered a handful of heart-warming dishes. And naturally, these plates won’t be available for long, so don’t procrastinate in your pursuit of holiday flavors!


Wheatberries and Roasted Squash 

The Kitchen | 100 North College Avenue

The name Wheatberries and Roasted Squash just sounds like it belongs in this season, right? We think so, too. That’s why it’s the plate served at our next stop during our tour of all things holiday dish related in Fort Collins. The Kitchen emphasizes “community through food”, and they do both parts so well.

While The Kitchen has been a well-established and highly regarded restaurant for several years, it graced our presence in Old Town in June 2014. And we are so glad it did, especially since this particularly dish is on the table. It is dripping in flavor, and is sure to bring you back to momma’s home cooking while still in the heart of a city.

Their Wheatberries and Roasted Squash includes wheatberries and roasted squash (of course) along with red onion, brunoise, cumin and cooked chickpeas. All of this goodness is topped with lemon juice and garnished with fresh fresno, cilantro, julienne red onion, cumin yogurt and olive oil. As mentioned, it will leave your Thanksgiving cravings satisfied, but will also prepare your palette for winter flavors.

The dish’s presentation blows us away, but the wild and rich flavors push things over the edge.

The Kitchen Fort Collins


Cream of Butternut Squash & Adobo Pork and Tomato Penne

Blue Agave Grill | 201 South College Avenue Suite 100


Head over to Blue Agave Grill in the heart of Fort Collins for guacamole made-to-order, house-infused tequilas, house-made sangria, and 13 different kinds of margaritas. Not to mention, they have a sophisticated menu that is primarily gluten-free. This contemporary southwestern grill hosts a fire-pit patio with five fire pit tables and deep cushion seating, and has a beautiful atmosphere throughout the space as a whole.  But this time of year, we are particularly excited about Blue Agave Grill’s seasonal dishes that emit warmth, comfort and of course — flavor.

Their Cream of Butternut Squash dish includes sweet ancho chili drizzle, seasonal micro-beans and is sweetened with agave nectar (how appropriate for the restaurant’s name!). We also have our eye on their Adobo Pork and Tomato Penne, which is filled with oven-braised pork, sautéed vegetables, red wine-tomato sauce and queso fresco.

Blue Agave Grill Holiday Dish

Blue Agave Grill Holiday Dish


Smoked Turkey Hash & Eggs

Silver Grill Cafe | 218 Walnut Street

There’s no reason to wait to devour turkey until Thanksgiving Day. Silver Grill Cafe is providing a unique representation of turkey during the time of year we crave it most. Their Smoked Turkey Hash & Eggs dish was extremely well-loved last season, so they’re bringing it back by popular demand! It includes smoked turkey, bacon, apples, caramelized leeks, roasted Brussels sprouts, artichoke hearts, cranberries, water chestnuts and crispy potatoes topped with 2 eggs any style, toast and a ladle-full of sausage gravy.

Are you convinced yet? Let the photo do the trick.

Plain and simple, the Silver Grill is a regional icon. It has been for 82 years. Guests are swept back in time by weathered wood floors, time-worn brick walls, diner-style seating and enormous turn-of-the-century windows that proudly showcase Old Town. The ever-present sound of clanking dishes, heaping breakfast and lunch creations, along with its signature Famous Giant Cinnamon Rolls, all combine to lend an old-style atmosphere that draws customers repeatedly back to The Grill.

Make the Silver Grill your next family lunch stop during the holidays.

Silver Grill Fort Collins


The Holiday “Cold Sweat” Cocktail

Social | 1 Old Town Square #7

Maybe after all of this holiday hype you’ll find yourself needing to unwind with a delicious festive drink. Thankfully, we know exactly where you might find such a thing.

Head to Old Town Square and find the old-fashioned street clock next to a staircase with blue lights leading down to Social, a locally owned underground cocktail bar. (You may remember them from our list of best places to get craft cocktails in Fort Collins)

Take shelter from the cold streets and walk down the stairs to immerse yourself in their cozy space with modern and industrial decor. Whatever you do, be sure to order the Cold Sweat, a wintery drink available for a limited time. And don’t let the name deter you from ordering it; it is sure to warm your insides while you enjoy the fun and inviting atmosphere Social has to offer. This concoction consists of Suerte Reposado Tequila, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, Kopke 10-year Tawny Port, brown sugar syrup and pistachio extract.

But wait. It gets even better! The Cold Sweat is served with spicy candied almonds, which are coated in paprika, red pepper, salt, pepper and honey, and baked to perfection.

This holiday duo is reason enough to visit Social, but once you’re there, we’re sure you’ll find other reasons to stick around. Their menu is stocked with an abundance of drinks to indulge in, and early birds will be rewarded with their daily happy hour from 4-6 p.m., along with other specials throughout the week.

Social Fort Collins


A Variety of Holiday Teas

Happy Lucky’s Teahouse and Treasures | 236 Walnut Street

You might wind down your chilly day with the comfort of a hot cup of holiday tea from Happy Lucky’s Teahouse and Treasures. Their cozy, seasonal loose-leaf teas are the perfect contrast to a cold winter evening. Choose from Harvest Moon, Apple Cinnamon Spice, American Roots, Cinnamon Spice Black Tea, Peppermint Pat-Tea, and Rooibos Cinnamon & Orange Spice. Because Happy Lucky’s specializes in tea, you’re sure to enjoy the highest quality of flavor with each sip. With their extensive list of teas to peruse, either by type or by origin, we know you’ll find the one that suits your palette.

Overall, Happy Lucky’s is a wonderful destination to enjoy a holiday tea alongside your significant other, family member or friend during the colder months. Their mission is “to awaken good feelings — through community, connection and the experience of great tea.” They emphasize community in their business model, which beautifully transfers to the four walls of their shop. As they wholeheartedly believe, tea truly brings people together.

Kill two birds with one stone by doing some holiday shopping while you’re sipping tea at Happy Lucky’s! They have some beautiful teaware and accessories for sale that the tea connoisseur in your life will adore.

Happy Lucky's Teahouse & Treasures


We know there’s more out there!

What’s your favorite Fort Collins holiday dish? What’s your favorite festive recipe to whip up at home? Let us know what we’re missing out on!

PHOTOS COURTESY OF: Happy Lucky’s Teahouse and Treasures, Silver Grill Cafe, The Kitchen and Social



6 Reasons Other Cities Are Jealous of Fort Collins


While talking with friends living in other cities, maybe you find yourself trying to convince them that the grass is greener on the other — well, your — side. You’re attempting to make them jealous of Fort Collins but are scrambling for tangible reasons for jealousy while under pressure. It’s just a feeling you have while strolling through the neighborhood — but you can’t quite verbalize it. Thankfully, we have gathered a list of reasons other cities should be jealous of Fort Collins. So feel free to reference this list during your next City Battle, or casually share it on your friends’ Facebook walls. Trust us — they need to know the truth.

1. Craft Breweries

As you very well know by now, Fort Collins is known for its love for and promotion of beers, bikes and bands. So it’s only right to start out our list with a prominent member of the trio — beer. Fort Collins hosts a ridiculous number of craft breweries within its city limits. In fact, we counted 15 on this list of breweries in Northern Colorado (which includes a very informative bio alongside each brewery). It’s also worth checking out the others on this list in surrounding NoCo cities, such as Berthoud Brewing Company or Loveland Aleworks.

But back to Fort Collins breweries. We are all aware of New Belgium Brewing, and rightfully so. And its probable that your friends in other cities have heard of them as well, as it is the fourth largest microbrewery in the nation. So do a virtual cheers to your friends from afar who are sipping on subpar brews, and be sure to display your craft beer snobbery with pride!

New Belgium Brewing

2. Beautiful Landscape

You don’t have to look too hard to notice this next piece of jealousy ammo. Let the photos of your most recent hiking adventure do all the talking, and make sure everyone knows these mountaintop views are right in your backyard.

Fort Collins is situated at the base of the Rocky Mountain foothills of the northern Front Range. Residents of Fort Collins can travel just 35 miles west to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, which hosts breathtaking views, gorgeous hiking trails and an abundance of wildlife. But there’s no reason to spend tons of gas on your next outdoor adventure — there are several hikes within the Fort Collins area. A local favorite is the Cache La Poudre River, which starts and flows in the mountains and ends up meandering through the city. The Poudre is the perfect place for fishing, swimming, tubing, kayaking and rafting. Or if you’re not wanting to get your feet wet, the area’s natural stunning beauty makes it a wonderful photo opportunity.

During the fall, the land in and surrounding Fort Collins becomes a gold mine of aspen foliage. Make sure you take one of these hikes during that time to catch the leaves changing at just the right time.

Cache La Poudre River

3. Abundance of Local Restaurants

Whereas many of your friends may be making their way to their local Chili’s or other franchise restaurants, your long list of local restaurant opportunities seems endless. In fact, Fort Collins has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the state and more than most cities in the country. This highly concentrated restaurant population means your taste buds will never get bored.

Fort Collins promotes the spirit of local businesses in general, which is an action we appreciate and admire. The city launched a campaign called Shop Fort Collins, which encourages residents to keep their dollars within the city for overall economic health and of course to support our neighborhood businesses. The city also hosts a Foodie Walk each month, which The Group, Inc. is proud to sponsor. This culinary adventure allows self-proclaimed foodies to explore new local tastes each month for absolutely no charge.

Fort Collins also hosts a robust food truck community. They have been seen dueling it out, but more often, you can find them living in harmony and celebrating the joys of mobile food together.

So chase a tasty local dish with a local craft beer and you’ll be living the Fort Collins dream. Well, the Fort Collins reality that is merely a dream in other cities.

The Mainline Ale House Fort Collins

4. Festivals and Community Events

Remember our talk about New Belgium Brewing? They also happen to host one of Fort Collin’s most popular festivals: Tour de Fat. “I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike…” is the anthem of this bicycle parade full of costumed riders that culminates at New Belgium. It is there that riders can enjoy music, food, beer (duh!) and games — even kid-friendly games! This festival aims to promote bicycling as a sustainable form of transportation, encouraging drivers to trade in their car keys as a commitment to commute by bike.

But that is only one of the myriad of festivals taking place in Fort Collins throughout the year. Some of the most prominent annual festivals include Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest, Colorado Brewers’ Festival, Fort Collins Peach Festival, FORToberfest, Taste of Fort Collins and FoCoMX.

Several of those festivals focus on music, which is another entertainment genre that Fort Collins has in the bag. Whatever you enjoy doing, eating, drinking or listening to, there is bound to be a festival in Fort Collins that celebrates it.

New Belgium Brewing Tour de Fat Fort Collins

5. Bicycle Culture

So back to that whole “beers, bikes and bands” thing. How are we going to get to these beers and bands without the convenient and beneficial form of transportation that is the bicycle? And look around you — just about everyone seems to be on board with this. Literally.

In 2013, the League of American Bicyclists named Fort Collins a Platinum Bicycle Friendly Community. Organizations like Bike Fort Collins are in place to be advocates for safe and enjoyable bicycling in Fort Collins. They are recognizing the city’s switch from four wheels to two, and understand the need to manage bike traffic to foster a safe environment for commuters of all kinds.

The city has a large network of bike trails for every bicyclist to enjoy, whether you bike like Lance Armstrong or would prefer to ride a tricycle.

So fully immerse yourself in Fort Collins culture by investing in a bike or dusting off that rusty one in the garage. We think the acceptance and celebration of bicycling in this town is unparalleled anywhere else.

Biking in Fort Collins

6. Less Stress

After discussing the many reasons to be jealous of Fort Collins because of its physical demeanor or opportunities within its neighborhoods, it’s worth evaluating the overall well-being of its residents. Huffington Post recently reported a 2014 study by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health that determined the least-stressed cities in America. And to our surprise (not really), Fort Collins came in at #7. Huffington Post speculates that this may be due to the high levels of exercise and activity acting as a stress-reliever. “Some 67 percent of the city’s population gets the recommended amount of weekly exercise (150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of rigorous physical activity),” which is the fourth highest percentage of the 500 largest U.S. cities.

So when other cities are feeling the stresses of life weighing down on them, they might be a bit jealous to observe the carefree attitudes of the residents in this chill town.

Least Stressed City Fort Collins

What else?

Because of the overwhelming list of the city’s positive attributes, we are guaranteed to have missed a reason to be jealous of our beloved FoCo. Please enlighten us, and let us know what we missed! Everyone has their own personal reason to love this city and we’d love to hear yours.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF: New Belgium Brewing, MWD Whitewater Rafting, Summit Post, Landscape Imagery, Colorado TourismThe Mainline Ale House, Ben Woloszyn Photography, UCHealth Blog and Unsplash


Laurel & Wolf: Affordable Interior Design at Your Fingertips


So much of what we do nowadays is online. In fact, that’s how you’re reading this very sentence, right? We shop online (for both homes and everyday items), get ideas and inspiration online, access entertainment online and even find potential spouses online.

As much as we promote stepping foot inside local businesses and making a physical transaction, we also understand the necessity of online interactions in this day and age. Let’s face it — it’s convenient. This Internet perusal can be done on your own time, from the comfort of your dining room table or favorite coffee shop, and oftentimes it takes less time.

That is certainly the case for services like Laurel & Wolf, which provides interior design at your fingertips. The website’s virtual nature means you have access to the best interior designers in the nation, no matter what your zip code is.

The process is simple. You create an account with Laurel & Wolf and complete a fun and free quiz that helps determine your style. We took this style quiz for fun! It involved choosing which type of room you would like to remodel and selecting “Love It” or “Leave It” on a series of photos that cycle through. You then answer more detailed questions about your space, including things like tastes and budget. Once you’ve done all that, you are then prompted to upload photos and provide dimensions of your specific floor plan to provide more information for the designers and a better understanding of your situation.

Laurel & Wolf Interior Design

(Via The Manchette Studio)

Several designers will then look over your design brief and submit “First Looks” back to you. Depending on which package you selected, you will either be automatically matched with a designer or you will be able to manually choose a designer to work with.

Now it’s “Design Time” and this is where your personalized look will fully evolve into something you love. You will have the opportunity to meet virtually with your paired designer using their online platform to plan out the design for your space. This process can last a week or more, depending on how many rooms are under discussion.

But how do these plans become a reality? We’re so glad you asked! Once the details are hammered out, you’ll receive your “Final Design Package” filled with all the necessities for a seamless execution process. This will include a shopping list, floor plan, final style board and setup instructions.

So maybe you’re thinking this process sounds convenient and almost magical. Awesome! But now you may be thinking this will cost you an arm and a leg, so you’d rather peruse Pinterest and make your own design decisions.

Laurel & Wolf has several pricing levels. In short, their Classic package matches you with professional designers and costs $299 per room. Their Premium package matches you with their most expert designers and is recommended for those designing a kitchen, bathroom or more complex space, and costs $499 per room. Laurel & Wolf also provides design assistance for commercial properties, costing between $499 and $899. Interior design assistance is often an expensive commitment, but this service brings the financial intimidation down a notch. And as mentioned, the convenience is hard to deny.

This 23-year-old chronicled her Laurel & Wolf experience, proclaiming “I Hired an Interior Designer Without Going Broke (And I’m Only 23!)”. Her sentiments are similar to others’ in that she was surprised by the affordability of a typically expensive service.

Browse Laurel & Wolf’s designer directory to check out the wide variety of styles available at your fingertips. You are looking at actual people scattered all across the country, with years of experience under their belts and the photos to prove it.

Or maybe you’re an interior designer yourself and want to further your client reach beyond your neighborhood. Get involved with the online design revolution! Apply to be a Laurel & Wolf designer and maybe you’ll be redesigning a Brooklyn flat someday.

Either way, we want to leave you with some serious home inspiration from interior designers who work with Laurel & Wolf. Which one is your favorite?

Laurel & Wolf Interior Design

(Designed by Gabrielle Santiago)

Laurel & Wolf Interior Design

(Designed by Studio Matsalla)

Laurel & Wolf Interior Design

(Designed by Courtney Bates Design)

Laurel & Wolf Interior Design

(Designed by Claire Zinnecker Design)

Laurel & Wolf Interior Design

(Designed by Erica Johnston)