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The events are almost free. The memories are priceless.

by | September 2nd, 2015

Free? Not quite. But for free or less than half the price of a movie ticket, these special events offer delightful ways to engage with your loved ones or neighbors. Without a single moment of passive screen time. Or a budget-busting amount of cash. So, BackCountry residents and fans, grab someone you love for some quality time and enjoy one of these September activities. Your treat, of course.    

Denver Firefighter Museum Free Day (Grandparent’s Day)– Sept. 5, 10am-4pm

Denver Firefighters Museum

Grandparents, this one’s for you. And your starstruck-by-firetrucks grandchildren. Both you (if you’re 65 or older) and they will enjoy free access on Grandparent’s Day. Built in 1909, Denver’s original firehouse is always worth a repeat visit, but if it’s your first time, you can look forward to innovative, fun, hands-on experiences, and an insider view of the living quarters, all the gear (including kid-sized), tools, and transportation, from horse-drawn to modern. From September 3-October 19, a special exhibit focuses on Denver’s immigrant firefighters. Learn more.

Empty Nesters Potluck– Sept. 10, 6pm-8:30pm

There’s always something fun in the works for empty nesters in BackCountry, from mah jong games to quarterly potlucks at the Sundial House.  Residents, join this active, sociable group for this quarter’s potluck, sure to serve up plenty of delicious food and conversation. Please bring a dish to share that will serve eight, as well as your own beverages. Log into www.backcountrylife.org and RSVP by Friday, September 5.

Highlands Ranch Days– Sept. 10-12, 9am-2pm

Highlands Ranch days at the Mansion

Namesake and arguably the soul of the community, the 121-year-old Highlands Ranch Mansion is the perfect spot for celebrating the heritage of this special place. Highlands Ranch Days features historical reenactments, Native American dancing, raptor demonstrations, blacksmithing, weaving, a petting zoo, a real chuck wagon, and more. Hayrack rides provide views of the ranch not typically seen by the public. Tours of the mansion will be held throughout the event. Tickets sold at the gate. Adult $5, Children $3 (free for kids under age two). Learn more.

Blues and Brews– Sept. 12, 4pm-7pm

Ah, it’s been a good summer at BackCountry.

Residents, let’s bid it adieu together at one last concert and food truck event, featuring an exciting blues performance by the Delta Sonics, and gourmet, locally sourced, seasonal goodies from Gusto’s Food Truck. While you enjoy the blues, kids can don a temporary tattoo in bright silver or gold, rendered by a flash tattoo artist. Tribal patterns and other crazy designs are sure to appeal to both boys and girls. Come early for special caricatures, too! Free. RSVP at www.backcountrylife.org by Friday, Sept. 5.  

$5 Day at The Butterfly Pavilion– Sept. 19

Butterfly pavilion Colorado
Only three Saturdays a year come at this less-than-half price. The Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster is the 30,000-square-foot home of more than 5,000 animals, including a tropical rainforest aflutter with 1,600 butterflies, plus an underwater world of sea creatures, and an outdoor garden and natural trail designed to attract other beneficial insects at all stages of their lives. Unlike a trip to the zoo, this gives you a chance to focus on nature’s smaller, but often breathtakingly beautiful, creatures. Learn more.

A neighborhood for the ages. Every single one of them.

by | August 26th, 2015

Some neighborhoods are all about young families and kids. (You know, the ones with porches packed with strollers, bikes, and scooters.) Others cater to empty nesters, even requiring a minimum age of 55. But BackCountry is uniquely multigenerational, naturally attracting every age group—which creates an interesting and inclusive place to live.

BackCountry Parks and Trails

Why is this the case at BackCountry? Actually, a number of factors are at play. Families with children tend to choose BackCountry for its access to quality schools, the safety of a gated community, good-sized homes (with custom homes available), community center with pooland all the activities that come along with parks and trailsa wilderness areaand a very active HOA. But residents in middle and later stages of life appreciate the activity, community connections, and safety just as much—along with the Whispering Wind Collection of homes that feature main floor living and low maintenance.

Because of the diversity of homeowners, the BackCountry HOA is always brainstorming ways to reach out to all residents. For example, July’s Kids ‘N Canvas event offered a painting class for children ages 6-13, and this month’s Back-to-School Pool party spoke to youngsters’ hearts with snow cones and pool games. On the other hand, the book club, cooking classes, comedy nights, and wine tasting events appeal to the adults. And you’ll even find empty nester-focused events, including potlucks and mahjong and bridge games.

Summer concert series in BackCountry Colorado

But we have plenty of age group mingling, too. BackCountry’s year-round roster of community events brings together grandparents, parents, and children. Summer concerts truly earn an E for Everyone. Little ones love the face painting and other kid activities, while the grownups enjoy the music, food trucks, and socializing. (This summer’s first concert, Doobie Brothers tribute band, Black Water, earned especially high marks with fans from the 1970s.) The 250 or so all-age residents who attended the annual, July 4th-ish Patriotic Country Music Concert enjoyed music by Colorado legends Chris Daniel and the Kings, along with a cowboy performing rope tricks and a glitter tattoo “branding station.” Who could resist that?

Like BackCountry itself, the residents are anything but one-dimensional. And so, BackCountry amenities, events, and activities respond in kind.  

BackCountry’s Drive–In Movie at the Amphitheatre

by | August 18th, 2015

BackCountry residents enjoyed root beer floats, popcorn and fun entertainment along with a family movie during the “Drive-in” Movie Night at the amphitheater.

BackCountry Back-To-School Pool Party Sundial Pool

by | August 18th, 2015

The children of BackCountry ended summer break with splash of fun at the Back-to-School Pool Party.

10 tips for babyproofing your new home

by | August 18th, 2015

Go ahead, pat yourself on the back. Buying a new home is one of the smartest safety decisions you can make for your child. Sure those vintage homes can be adorable, but the narrow stairs, cloth electrical wiring, lead pipes, lead-based paint, and asbestos? Not so much. Thankfully, you won’t have to deal with any of that drama in a new home!

New homes, like those in BackCountry, follow modern building codes that keep your family safe. After move-in, you may want to tailor your home further to keep the munchkins healthy and happy. First, let’s take a look in the kitchen, that pre-dinner playground where toddlers are tempted to cook up a bit of trouble.

baby proof home BackCountry

1. Use cabinet latches and locks.
Ideally, you’re going to move those toxic, under-sink cleaning products somewhere high and out of reach. If not, then be super-vigilant with keeping the cabinets latched, as well as other cabinets housing breakables and heavies. Of course, it’s a smart idea to leave a few cabinets unlatched with child-friendly plastic measuring cups, spoons and nesting bowls to buy yourself some precious cooking time.

2. Keep the pet food bowls behind a baby gate.
A bowl of hard, crunchy pet food looks so inviting to a kiddo, but it can be a real choking hazard. If you can’t separate the pet food from the living areas, stand by as your pet eats, then immediately remove the bowl. (And if you have stairs, you’re definitely going to need another baby gate.)

3. Install stove knob covers and a stove guard.
Kids do what they see parents do—which can lead to twisting stove knobs and pulling down hot, bubbling pots of pasta water. Avoid that scary scenario with devices that make the stove completely inaccessible.

In the living room:

4. Edit your houseplant collection.
While you want your child to eat his greens, there are limits. Some plants look tasty to a little one, but many common houseplants are actually poisonous. Give those bad boys to your single friends, or those with older kids, and avoid indiscriminate noshing of the rest by keeping all plants high and out of reach.

poisonous house plant

5. Soften sharp edges.
Coffee tables, hearths, TV stands, and window ledges can be right at eye level for short stacks. Cushion all those edges with corner guards until kids get a little taller and steadier on their feet.

6. Choose kid-friendly window treatments.
Window blinds get a bad rap due to choking deaths caused by dangling cords. They’re not off-limits if you choose blinds that are cordless. Other options include roller or motorized shades, or wood or composite shutters.

In the bathroom:

7. Lower your water heater to 120 degrees.
This helps prevent busy little hands from getting burned when cranking up the faucet. Of course, you should always test the water temperature before placing your child in the tub, too. And install an anti-scald device to the end of the bath spout and sink faucet.

8. Install a toilet lock.
These smart devices serve many purposes.  Little fingers don’t get smashed. No danger of accidental drowning. Prevention of icky, germy water play. And no flushing of toys down the toilet—common enough, as any plumber can attest.

9. Lock up your medicines.
First, see #1 regarding a latch on your medicine cabinet. Or if you opted for a cute bathroom mirror without a medicine cabinet, invest in a lockable medicine safe that can fit inside any cabinet or drawer.

medicine cabinet with lock

And basically, everywhere in your home:

10. Cover your electrical outlets.
Because inquiring minds want to know…if that thing makes the vacuum go, what will happen if I put this fork/finger/whatever in there? It happens. Outmaneuver your budding electrical engineer with these universal outlet covers, which slide shut when the outlet is not in use.

Paragon Homes Offers its Last Five Homes in BackCountry

by | August 14th, 2015

“Even though we’re technically building semi-custom homes, I think buyers will find that between our flexible designs and the scope of personalization we offer, they’ll be able to achieve exactly the home they’re envisioning and at a remarkable price point.”

That’s the description of Paragon Homes’ President Ed Venerable describing the five remaining opportunities to build one of his company’s Sanctuary Collection homes in the gated BackCountry community in Highlands Ranch.

“Whatever area of the home is most important to a buyer, the area they feel most passionate for, we create and execute a plan for a home that exceeds their wish list,” adds Venerable describing the process where buyers, along with the Paragon team, work within a footprint to create a home which reflects their individual tastes, wants and needs.

Paragon-Homes-Denver

An example of a Paragon home – just five opportunities remain to create a home with the builder in the gated BackCountry community in Highlands Ranch.

The Sanctuary Collection homes range from 3,200 to 5,000 square feet and are priced between $1.2 and $1.4 million. The five remaining home sites are non-walkout, each about one-third of an acre and all backing to open space.

Described as Colorado mountain contemporary, Paragon’s home collection is comprised of seven designs – two ranch plans as well as five two-story residences – that are notable for their oversized entertaining spaces, chef-worthy kitchens and walls of glass that, as Venerable explains, “blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces.”

Courtyards with water features and fireplaces, exposed beams, walls of stacked stone, and spa-like master baths are among the features garnering praise in the Built Green homes.

Adjacent to the 8,200-acre Backcountry Wilderness Area and located just south of the intersection of Broadway and Wildcat Reserve Parkway, the award-winning BackCountry neighborhood is a benchmark among the Front Range’s luxury communities.

BackCountry Beauty Mountains Trees

“BackCountry’s master design and vision, its rustic feel and atmosphere, and its dedication to quality and attention to detail really dovetailed with our company’s style and mission and is a big part of why we’ve enjoyed so much success here,” adds Venerable.

“The unmatched atmosphere in concert with our designs ensures the homes live comfortably for both entertaining and family life.”

Paragon Homes has been an award-winning, highly-acclaimed builder along the Front Range for more than two decades and counts hundreds of satisfied homeowners as clients.

BackCountry’s noteworthy amenities continue to progress and include the Sundial House, wilderness trails, the BackCountry Outdoor Pool and the community amphitheater.

The gated BackCountry community also draws from the fundamental strengths of Highlands Ranch’s highly-rated schools, convenient shopping, recreation centers, open space, trails, and a master planned hallmark approach for over three decades. BackCountry is situated on the last available land within Highlands Ranch. Easy access to C-470 puts residents minutes away from Highlands Ranch business parks, as well as Inverness, the Denver Tech Center, and other metro-Denver business hubs.

Begin your adventure by stopping at BackCountry’s Discovery Center, which can be reached by going south from C-470 on Broadway to just south of Wildcat Reserve Parkway onto BackCountry Drive and can be reached by calling 720-344-9600.  More information on BackCountry is available at www.backcountryco.com.

Meet the jeweler next door.

by | August 12th, 2015

For most of us, garages are for cars, bikes, and all kinds of dusty, forgotten treasures. But for some, they are the headquarters of a dream. Think Apple, Amazon, Disney, and Google, all of which began in a humble garage. And right now, something similar is happening at BackCountry with resident Carrie Schafer’s jewelry business, Original Hardware.

Ok, maybe we’ll wait and see about the world domination part, but Carrie’s wholesale business has happily expanded to the point that she will be moving into a retail shop in downtown Littleton on September 1. But faithful readers don’t have to wait for opening day. Shop her website now and get a 20% discount on your entire purchase using the promo code Backcountry at checkout!

And what can you purchase on the Original Hardware website? Handcrafted jewelry with a rustic aesthetic, ideal for layering with other pieces. You’ll find earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings in silver and mixed metal, with diamonds and other stones. Carrie and her team of two other designers use handcrafted components, ethically-sourced materials and 100% recycled sterling silver in an effort to “tread lightly on the planet.” So far, the jewelry has been sold in 100 high-end boutiques and the prestigious Sundance catalog.

BackCountry open space provides excellent photo ops for product shots like this, taken just outside the Sundial House.

BackCountry open space provides excellent photo ops for product shots like this, taken just outside the Sundial House.

“Everything is made in my BackCountry studio,” says Carrie. “Once the Littleton space is ready and we’ve moved in, I plan to keep the garage studio for a bit. I like to get up early in the morning as the sun rises and work on new pieces in there.” (Her garage studio does have some creature comforts, like a chandelier.)

Carrie’s career shift was dramatic. “I was working as a VP for a global software company when a coworker came into the office with a bracelet she’d made,” says Carrie. “I’ve always been fascinated with rocks and metal, and in some way my life has had some creative energy to it. Once I bought a few stones and jewelry supplies, I was hooked.” Beyond some basic metalsmithing courses, Carrie is entirely self-taught. She says that “everything else has been learned the hard way and I have the scars and Band-Aids to prove it!”

Carrie started the company in 2003 and she and son Evan, 9, have lived in BackCountry since 2008. “I’ve lived in Highlands Ranch for 20 years and I knew when BackCountry was starting to develop that it was something special,” she says. “And it really is. There’s nothing like it in Highlands Ranch.”

Also shot in BackCountry. Carrie and Evan, with significant other Chris McGinnis and daughters Grace and Abby.

Also shot in BackCountry. Carrie and Evan, with significant other Chris McGinnis and daughters Grace and Abby.

Carrie loves the trails, where she mountain bikes on her lunch hour, but she says that more than anything it’s the people that make it special.  “I’ve made so many great friends here,” says Carrie. “There are many creative entrepreneurs that live in BackCountry, some of whom I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with. What I love about this community is the genuine support I’ve received.”

Continue that support, BackCountry residents and friends, with a visit to the website, or in September when the Original Hardware shop opens at 2336 W. Main Street in historic downtown Littleton.

August is American Adventure Month

by | August 4th, 2015

August is an excellent choice for a month devoted to snagging some last bits of summer adventure. School days are looming, so before the kids’ homework and your end-of-year obligations kick in, try something outside the regular routine. Here are a few ideas to get your wheels turning.

Nature Connects: Art with Lego™ Bricks-Aug. 7-Nov. 1
Boasting a 400 lb. bumblebee, lion, and other creatures built entirely from LEGOs, this traveling exhibit at the Denver Zoo is sure to appeal to animal lovers and diehard fans of the classic toy building blocks. (Many families have both.)  This award-winning display of engineering and art prowess features more than 35 life-size-or-larger animal and plant sculptures. Scattered throughout the zoo, the exhibit makes a leisurely summer day even more of a visual treat. Free with admission, which ranges from $12-17. Learn more.

Lego Nature Connects Denver Zoo
BackCountry Bike Clinic
-Aug. 8, 9am-12pm
BackCountry residents, grab your ride (dusty or much-used) and head over to the Amphitheatre for BackCountry’s first-ever bike clinic. Tuned to beginner and intermediate riders, the clinics will be led by Cindi Toepel of Energy Xperience, a five-time World and 10-time National XTERRA Off-Road Champion. Bike safety checks, a snake presentation, food, beer, and more add to the fun and learning. Kids’ clinic from 9:15am-10am and adults’ from 10:30-11:45. Register at http://backcountrylife.org by Aug. 5. Open to BackCountry residents & their guests only.

USA Pro Challenge Bike Race-Aug. 17-23
Kicking off in Steamboat Springs, cruising through eight host cities, and then coming to a grand finale in Denver, this prestigious race offers plenty of places to watch the altitude-busting ways of the world’s top cyclists. New destinations this year include Arapahoe Basin, Loveland Pass, and Copper Mountain, but the Golden-to-Denver stretch makes the viewing easy for us locals. Learn more.

USA Pro Challenge go ride

Film on the Rocks: The Breakfast Club-Aug. 26, 7pm
Got your summertime Red Rocks fix yet? Don’t let the season slip by without a trip to this world-renowned venue. Without the hefty price of a concert, Film on the Rocks lets you enjoy a vintage film, live music, and spectacular views. This go-round features music by Jen Korte & the Loss with The Dirty Femmes, a Violent Femmes cover band, followed by The Breakfast Club, the coming-of-age classic about a cross-section of ‘80s high schoolers stuck together in detention.  $12. Get tickets here.

BackCountry End of Summer Luau-Aug. 28, 6pm-8:30pm
Somehow saying “aloha” to summer feels so much better than “goodbye.” Luau with your BackCountry neighbors at the Amphitheatre, enjoying dinner, dancing to the summery sounds of the Margarita Brothers, Hawaiian-themed balloon artistry, and a message-in-a-bottle craft for the kids. Reserve your spot at www.backcountrylife.org by August 20.

Aloha beach writing

BackCountry’s Kids Pirate Event

by | August 4th, 2015

BackCountry’s children enjoyed an afternoon of fun and games at the Kids Pirate Event.

Fun. It’s not just for kids anymore.

by | July 22nd, 2015

With all the pools, parks, and highly ranked schools, Highlands Ranch and kids go hand-in-hand. But uniquely, BackCountry reaches out to its adult residents as much as it does to its children, addressing sophisticated interests in ways uncommon in the suburbs. At BackCountry, grownups enjoy the best of both worlds: an engaging, adult lifestyle within a relaxed, suburban setting.

Sundial-Side-Exterior-Crop

Beyond the trails that beckon bikers and hikers of all ages, the Sundial House itself is an adult magnet. There’s the pool, of course, with lap lanes and lounge chairs. But inside, you’ll also find folks doing yoga and cardio or de-stressing with a facial or massage. Meeting new friends at a book club or empty nester potluck, or picking up goodies for an outdoor movie in the Amphitheatre or a time-saving and tasty “drive-by dinner.”

One of the favorite ways that adults unwind and socialize is at Indulge at Pike’s Pub. Located within the Sundial House, this weekend gathering place buzzes with residents enjoying wine, tapas, and flatbreads, made famous by the original Indulge Wine Bar. Live music adds fun to the vibe twice every month. Stand-up comedy takes the stage sometimes, too.

At BackCountry’s regular wine tasting events, residents explore themes such as Mediterranean terroir, the focus of this event.

BackCountryCO wine tasting

BackCountryCO wine tasting night

About once a quarter, residents gather for a cooking class at the Sundial House kitchen. At this one, Leah Eveleigh, Winner of Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, helped residents concoct a yummy Pacific Island menu. Read more about Leah here.

Chef Leah Eveleigh

Cooking class in BackCountryCO in action

Having an award-winning community center like the Sundial House is only half the story. Compelling activities like these hum along thanks to an active HOA and resident advisors who make sure the good times keep rolling—for every age group.

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