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‘BackCountry News & Events’

More fun: The best resolution ever.

by | December 30th, 2015

Lose weight. Save money. De-clutter. Yawn. How about a resolution with some real shelf life? “Have more fun this year” is a resolution we can all rally behind, and long past February. (Make your other resolutions, of course, but a few rewards along the way may help you keep them.) Besides skiing and snowboarding, fun activities are a little trickier to find in January—so here are a few suggestions to kick off your happiest year yet.

Winter Cultural Series: Arias and Ensembles-Jan 7, 7pm-8:30pm
Opera Colorado is coming to you, featuring a delightful evening of operatic and musical theater performances at Cherry Hills Community Church, just 10 minutes from BackCountry. Selections will be performed by Opera Colorado’s Young Artists—a talented crew of emerging professional opera singers—just as they would be on stage but without sets and costumes, creating an intimate and engaging experience. Tickets $7-15. Learn more about this and upcoming events in the series.

Highlands Ranch January events

Comedy Night at the Sundial House-Jan. 9, 7pm
What do you get when you cross a bouncer for the Rolling Stones, a veterinarian, and a professional stand-up comic? Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, a true Renaissance man, who mines his well-rounded life for lots of laughs. Performing for BackCountry residents at the Sundial House, Dr. Fitzgerald has opened for performers such as Bob Hope, Diana Ross, The Temptations, and The Neville Brothers. And yet he still maintains a busy practice at Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Denver. All ages, $25 per guest. Space limited to the first 65 residents. Register online through ActiveNet or at the Sundial House by Monday, January 4th.

National Western Stock Show & Rodeo-Jan. 9-24
Denver may be getting more uber-hip by the minute, but the Stock Show is our annual check-in with our rugged Western heritage—which is pretty cool, too. This 16-day show is a smorgasbord of entertainment and learning opportunities. Choose from rodeos (traditional, Mexican, and African-American), a BBQ Throwdown, Catch-a-Calf contest, fiddle contest, horse shows, livestock exhibitions, and much more. Ticket prices vary.  Learn more.

Princess & Superhero Party-Jan 21, 4pm-5pm
Residents! Hold onto your cape (or tiara): Batman and Princess Elsa are coming to the Sundial House. Which gives your kids the perfect excuse to dress up (again) in their favorite princess and superhero garb. Join us for afterschool snacks and fun, but be sure to RSVP by Friday, January 15 at www.BackCountryLife.org. Open to the first 40 kids who sign up. See a video of last year’s event here.

BackCountry Rapunzel and Spiderman

Southwest Rink at Skyline-through Feb. 16
Free ice skating is a wonderful way to enjoy the season—and maybe assist in another couple of resolutions too. At Skyline Park in downtown Denver, this seasonal outdoor rink invites you to skate, play broomball, and enjoy other activities like face painting, holiday movies, a photo booth, and hot cocoa. Skating is free; rent skates for $2 or bring your own. Free learn-to-skate lessons are offered every Wednesday from 11 am-12 pm and every Saturday 8 am-10 am. Learn more.

Surviving the Holidays 101

by | December 14th, 2015

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Right? Right??? That’s what we all hope for, but sometimes the reality of gift-giving, shopping, entertaining, traveling, and hyper-inflated expectations can lead to major stress. And feeling stressed can, well, add to the stress of what’s supposed to be such a joyful time.

Sometimes all we need is a little attitude adjustment. For BackCountry residents, serenity is as close as the Sundial House, where all can indulge in some healthy me-time. Work out solo in the fitness room, or take advantage of small group or individual training (email wildirisrecreation@comcast.net or call Kim at 303-909-7977 for details). Or, perhaps a deep tissue massage is in order, in one of the Sundial House treatment rooms. (For appointments, contact Jodi Holmes at 303-908-2717 or Karen Hanna at 303-523-9781.)

massages at BackCountryCO

We also invite you to call upon the collective wisdom of the Shea Homes Surviving the Holidays Pinterest board. Here are some highlights:

Let’s start with a few general ideas for calming. These 10 ways to instantly de-stress will remind you to chill in your spare moments by perhaps sipping a mug of green tea for its theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation. Or by lighting a lavender candle before bedtime, which is proven to aid in drowsiness.

And speaking of sleep, consider stretching before you turn out the light. Here are some specific stretch techniquesincluding 10 yoga poses you can do in bed, plus some hip-opening stretches perfect for those of us who sit in an office all day.

Being sick during the holidays is the worst. So ward off trouble with these five tips for staying healthy, including drinking lots of water to counteract all the dehydrating schnapps and spiked eggnog. Also, try scheduling your workout before your parties (after putting in all that hard work, you’ll be less inclined to overindulge.)

The holidays can be stressful financially, too. Counteract all the spending with these suggestions for cutting costs. Taking advantage of seasonal sales at the grocery store is just one example.

holiday entertaining roast chicken

Entertaining can bring its own set of challenges, from planning guest lists and menus to making sure you have enough stemware. These dinner party tips include the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for Perfect Roast Chicken along with suggestions for wine glasses, party games, and more. And should your guests stay for the weekend, here are eight ideas for keeping everyone happy.

With all the activities and busyness, kids can pick up on the stressful vibe. Slow down and try meditating with your kids with these step-by-step instructions for getting zen. If your children tend to get frazzled by the sensory overload of the season, check out these coping mechanisms. And finally, if you’re traveling with little ones, you’re entitled to call in for reinforcements. These tips for traveling on airplanes with kids suggest 20 travel activities and a bag of surprises to keep them engaged, as well as bringing along a pair of pajamas to induce sleepiness.

The family that plays together…

by | December 3rd, 2015

It’s true. Nothing brings a family closer than an impromptu pillow fight, game of hide-and-seek, or a side-splitting round of Apples to Apples. Happily, December holidays give us more time for the blissfully nonproductive, unrushed moments that we all crave. Whether your family’s traditions tend toward baking cookies or shredding moguls together, we’d like to suggest a few more fun activities, ranging from downtown to right here in BackCountry.

9News Parade of Lights-Dec. 4 at 8pm and Dec. 5 at 6pm
Scrooge himself couldn’t resist cheering on the festive floats at Denver’s most classic holiday tradition. In its 41st year, the Parade of Lights winds its way through two miles of Downtown Denver streets, starting at the City & County Building. This free holiday spectacular features marching bands, ornate floats, and a special appearance by Major Waddles the Penguin and Santa himself. Stake out your own spot or reserve limited grandstand seating for $16-19 here or call 866-461-6556. Learn more.

parade of lights

Hanukkah Begins-Sunday, Dec. 6 (sundown)
The large, active Jewish community in the metro area is bursting with ideas for celebrating the eight days of Hanukkah. Bring your family to a yummy Latke Taste-Off at Temple Micah on Dec. 5. The wondrous Festival of Lights (this year in Boulder), presented by the Colorado Hebrew Chorale, is on Dec. 6. And a heartwarming community Menorah Lighting is coming up on Dec. 9.

Cookies with Santa-Dec. 12, 9am-1pm
Holiday headliners are coming to the Sundial House: Santa, Mrs. Claus, and an elfin sidekick too. At this annual tradition exclusive to BackCountry residents, children can share cookies and Christmas wishes with these holiday celebs. Don’t forget your letters for Santa, wish lists, and cameras. Cookies and refreshments will be provided by Royal Crest Dairy. To minimize wait time, residents whose last names begin with A-L are welcome from 9am-11am, while those with a last name beginning with M-Z should plan to come from 11am-1pm. RSVP by Friday, Dec. 4th at www.backcountrylife.org.

santa and cookies

A Christmas Story, The Musical-Dec. 16-27
If you already know about the leg lamp, frozen flagpole, and “you’ll shoot your eye out!” from the 1983 movie, you’re sure to enjoy the musical version, direct from Broadway. Nominated for three 2013 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, the play is set in 1940s Indiana, where a bespectacled boy named Ralphie has a big imagination and one desperate wish for Christmas: an official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot Range Model air rifle. At the Buell Theatre. Ages 4+. Tickets start at $25.

A Night in Vienna-Dec. 31
After all that family time, how about a New Year’s Eve for just the two of you? Sit back and enjoy a Viennese-style concert of polkas, waltzes, and marches performed by the Colorado Symphony at Boettcher Concert Hall. Afterwards, stroll hand in hand down to the 16th Street Mall for fireworks and still be home to BackCountry long before the clock strikes midnight. Tickets from $29-$89.

 

Picture Your Pet | Official Rules

by | November 30th, 2015

Shea-Picture Your PetPicture Your Pet | Official Rules

Pets are important family members and can brighten our lives and our homes. This holiday season, we want to honor your four-legged, feathered, and scaly friends! Snap and submit a photo of your pet for a chance to win one of our fabulous prizes. Full contest details are below.

  1. From November 30 to December 11, 2015, enter a photo of your pet by posting it to the Facebook page of http://facebook.com/BackCountryCO. These photos can be of your pet in action, looking cute, showing off, hanging out with the family… Get creative! Add a caption to tell us a little bit about your pet and the photo. Please don’t forget to include your pet’s name.
  2. Only one entry per Facebook profile is accepted.
  3. Submissions will be gathered into a Facebook photo album located at http://facebook.com/BackCountryCO, which will be published on or around December 12, 2015. Photos must be received by 8 p.m. MST on December 11 to qualify.
  4. Voting is open from the time the photo album goes live until December 17, 2015. Vote for your favorites and encourage other non-furry family members and friends to vote too. To vote, voters will simply like their favorite photo. Please note: Only one action per Facebook account is considered as a vote.
  5. The contest is open to anyone age 13 years or older (per Facebook’s user requirements). Interested parties must enter and vote through Facebook. You are not required to be a Shea homeowner to participate, you are not required to visit a community or attend a sales presentation, and no purchase or fee is necessary to enter. Entrants must be legal residents of the United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, or U.S. territories and possessions. Void where prohibited. Employees of Shea Homes and its affiliates, and their immediate family members, are not eligible.
  6. By entering, entrants give permission for images to be used for marketing and promotion on social media platforms, on websites, and in e-newsletters.
  7. The photo with the most votes at the end of the voting period will receive a $100 gift card to Wag N’ Wash Highlands Ranch, photo with the second most votes will receive a $75 Wag N’ Wash Highlands Ranch gift card, and the photo with the third most votes will receive a $50 Wag N’ Wash Highlands Ranch gift card. Prizes are not redeemable for cash. This contest is in no way affiliated with or sponsored by Wag N’ Wash Highlands Ranch, the Denver Dumb Friends League, or Facebook.
  8. Winners will be notified on or around December 18, 2015, via Facebook. Prizes will be sent directly to the winners, at no cost to them. Delivery may take up to three weeks. Winners are responsible for taxes, if applicable.
  9. In addition to the prizes awarded during the Picture Your Pet contest, BackCountryCO will donate $1 to the Denver Dumb Friends League for each new page like received from November 30-December 17, 2015.

In entering the contest you subject yourself to the Contest Rules and are deemed to have reviewed, read and accepted the Rules.

We look forward to seeing your wonderful pets!

Why BackCountry smells so good

by | November 23rd, 2015

It could be all that fresh air, free of city traffic. The thousands of acres of open space rippling with sweet prairie grasses and wildflowers.

Or it could just be all the bath bombs residents are snapping up at Salus Bath & Body.

salus Highlands Ranch facial products

Salus, a Colorado maker of natural bath and body care products, is located in Highland Ranch’s Town Center, just a short drive from BackCountry. Opened this year, it’s the company’s third location; the other two are in Manitou Springs and Old Town Fort Collins. At the Highlands Ranch location, you can pick up customized, well, everything for your personal care: lotions, soaps, bath bombs, bubble bath, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, spa treatments, salt therapies, massage and body care, facial care, baby care, home fragrance, sport products, essential oils, and fragrances. Whew.

In a Denver Post article, co-owner Elissa Klaver (husband Jerell is her business partner) describes the shop as “Build-A-Bear meets Bath & Body Works meets Lush.” The Build-a-Bear reference speaks to how the products are handcrafted on the spot, per your taste. Customers choose among the many unscented products, then select from among 200+ fragrances and essential oils. Next, they watch the “Suds Team” mix up a freshly made batch just for them.   

salus bath products bath cupcakes

In the other half of the store, you can sniff your way through 200 types of bath and shower bombs and bath cupcakes, which have a bubble bath frosting and moisturizing “cake.” As fun as they are functional, these cupcakes are a clear winner in the stocking stuffer category.

Customers with sensitive skin can relax, knowing that all ingredients are labeled, and products are natural, organic, and paraben-free. Many are also gluten-free. If you’re allergic to fragrance, then simply forgo the scent.

salus shower bombs

Salus also has an active online business, so shopping from your living room (or bathtub) is always an option. Start shopping at http://www.shopsalus.com/aboutus.asp.

Interested in supporting other locally owned Highlands Ranch businesses? Read our previous posts about businesses, like Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs, BackCountry’s own CrossFit gym, and the artful floral arrangements at Abloom

Fall Photo Contest

by | November 12th, 2015

BackCountryCO photo contest

To all talented BackCountry http://www.backcountryco.com/community-of-the-year/ photographers and their photogenic families and pets: We want your pictures. Take a photo of your crew enjoying this beautiful season at BackCountry and you could win a $100, $50, or $25 gift card, courtesy of Shea Homes and the builders of BackCountry! Winning photos will also be featured on the community website and Facebook page. Submit your favorite pics electronically to Courtney Folkedahl at cfolkedahl@ccmcnet.com by November 20.

Do you heart art?

by | November 4th, 2015

November is National Gratitude Month, and if you’re a BackCountry arts aficionado, you have plenty to be grateful for. Why are there so many artsy events in and around Denver this time of year? Maybe because we’ve finally come inside after our long, lovely late summer, but haven’t yet surrendered to the upcoming holiday madness. This really is an ideal time to catch a bit of culture—and yes, perhaps bring home artful holiday gifts, too.

Denver Film Festival-Nov. 4-15
Blockbusters, documentaries, shorts, and indies. Whatever your cinematic taste, you’ll find something to love among 250+ screenings at the largest premier film celebration in the Rocky Mountain region. (After all, last year’s 55,000 guests can’t all be wrong.) Be the first among your friends to see cutting-edge films, since the DFF is widely recognized for presenting movies such as The Artist, Black Swan, and Brokeback Mountain well before earning accolades. Screenings are held at the Sie FilmCenter and Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Special packages including dinner and parking are also available. Learn more and purchase tickets here

Denver Arts Week-Nov. 6-14
Craft an experience all your own during this entire week devoted to artistry of every kind: visual arts, theater, music, film, museums, dance, opera, comedy, history, and heritage. On Know Your Arts First Friday (Nov. 6) you can stroll up and down seven of Denver’s creativity-rich neighborhoods, checking out the galleries—some of which will offer local art for as little as $52.80. Explore an exhibit devoted to Sherlock Holmes at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Or view 100 works by Andrew and Jamie Wyeth at the Denver Art Museum. Just the tip of a very artful iceberg. Learn more

Denver Arts Week 2015

BackCountry’s First Chili Cook-Off-Nov. 8, 2pm-4pm
A delicious, belly-warming pot of chili can be a work of art! Share your talents with your fellow BackCountry neighbors, and possibly score a prize for “Best Tasting” or “Most Unique.” Bring a crockpot of your favorite recipe to the Sundial House, but don’t tip off others as to which pot is yours. We’ll number each entry and guests will vote for their favorites. The BackCountry HOA will provide a toppings bar and refreshments, and will be showing the Broncos vs. Colts game. Those who don’t bring chili can pay $5 to participate. Please RSVP at www.backcountrylife.org

Denver Botanic Gardens Free Days and Winter Gift Market-Nov. 13-14
A world of handcrafted artistry (and holiday gift ideas) awaits you, including bath and body products, pottery, jewelry, specialty foods, clothing, antiques, and more. Plus you can stroll through our city’s lovely Botanic Gardens without an entrance fee. Denver Botanic Gardens’ Guild will also sell its popular assortment of homemade gourmet herbal vinegars and seasoning mixes made from herbs grown on site. Come to the Sneak Peek on the 12th for best selection, appetizers, wine, and beer along with live entertainment. The Sneak Peek is $15 for members and $20 for non-members. The events on Nov. 13-14 are free. Learn more

Denver botanic gardens winter gift market

Fall Photo Contest-Deadline Nov. 20
To all talented BackCountry photographers and their photogenic families and pets: We want your pictures. Take a photo of your crew enjoying this beautiful season at BackCountry and you could win a $100, $50, or $25 gift card, courtesy of Shea Homes and the builders of BackCountry! Winning photos will also be featured on the community website and Facebook page. Submit your favorite pics electronically to Courtney Folkedahl at cfolkedahl@ccmcnet.com by November 20.

Good stuff for guys at BackCountry

by | October 29th, 2015

Ok, let’s get the disclaimers out of the way. BackCountry is wonderful for both genders. And of course, men and women like plenty of the same things. But are there aspects to BackCountry that men seem particularly to like? Definitely.

Hop onto one of BackCountry’s trails and you’ll probably run into several of the community’s very active bikers. The in-neighborhood trails connect to trails within the South Rim, the community’s private wilderness of 467 acres, and then to 26 miles of challenging trails within the greater acres of the Backcountry Wilderness Area. Bikers never get bored here. As resident Craig Wilmes says, the trail systems “are very well-maintained and offer various degrees of difficulty from ‘not-too-bad’ to ‘that was really hard.’” An avid biker, Craig hosted a community bike clinic in August and encourages fellow bikers to join him and a group of fellow riders each Saturday during seasonable months.

BackCountry Colorado south rim

And while we’re on the topic of the Backcountry, some residents have enjoyed taking advantage of the Highlands Ranch-organized activities there, such as archery, camping, and hunting deer, elk, and wild turkey. Best of all, these activities, like the Backcountry Wilderness Area itself, are limited to Highlands Ranch residents to prevent overuse.

Six years ago, BackCountry resident David Angard organized the very first BackCountry Golf Tournament as a way for residents to get to know each other. This annual charity fundraiser, held at the Highlands Ranch Golf Course, is still going strong. Prizes, lunch, and game rehashing are always part of the fun.

Another resident, Doug Teague, put together a basketball team, the BackCountry Coyotes, that plays in the Highlands Ranch Men’s Sunday Night 35+ League. Doug says he’s met a “ton of great people from BackCountry” and is “always looking for good players and beer drinkers to join the team.” If you’re interested, contact Doug at dougt@csmdirect.com

BackCountry biking Colorado

Two other man-friendly options are monthly Cigar Nights and Poker Nights. Cigar Nights typically rotate between host homes, and include cigars, drinks, food, and conversation (women and non-smokers attend too, by the way). For more information, contact Tommy Yionoulis at tommyycomic@mac.com. Poker Nights are just getting off the ground, so contact Howard Wolsky at hwolsky@gmail.com if you’re interested.

Gents, here’s the bottom line: between the abundant, outdoor activities and active, highly social residents, BackCountry is an excellent place to be—dude or not.  

Fall. It’s more than pumpkin spice lattes.

by | October 8th, 2015

Finally, the days are cooler, the leaves are changing, and so are the coffee flavors at Starbucks. Life is good. But if all that is not enough for you, here are other ways to enjoy the month, including Halloween fun that goes beyond answering the door with a bowl of Skittles. So get out there and revel in one of the months Colorado (and BackCountry) does best.

BackCountry Colorado Halloween pumpkins

Honey From a Hive-Oct. 13, 2-3:30pm
Ok, so the bad news is that all your tasty homegrown tomatoes are gone. But the good news is that it’s now time to harvest honey. (Fun fact: It takes two million flowers to make one pound of honey.) Join Highlands Ranch’s resident beekeeper for an engaging program about honeybees, how they make honey, and how they do their crucial job of pollinating flowers. You’ll taste honey from different areas and meet some of these hardworking bees. For all ages. Residents $10, nonresidents $12. Group rates of $6-7 for three or more. Held at Metro District Parks, Recreation & Open Space Service Center, 3280 Redstone Park Circle. Register here

Denver Zombie Crawl 2015-Oct. 17, starts at 9am
Zombies on a screen just can’t compare with those in the flesh—or perhaps, remnants of flesh. Just in time for Halloween, the “largest zombie gathering in history” will get your heart racing one way or another as zombie hordes run, walk, or crawl around downtown Denver solving clues and reaching checkpoints along the Organ (yes, Organ) Trail for cash prizes.  Part Amazing Race, Fear Factor, and haunted house, the event also includes music, games, a parade, and after parties. Free and open to all ages, but do bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the Food Bank of the Rockies. Please register so organizers can get an accurate count and set the world record. Held at Skyline Park. Learn more.

Denver Zombie Crawl Organ Trail

BackCountry Haunted House-Oct. 22, 5pm-9pm
Everyone’s favorite place to hang out will take a turn for the terrifying when the Sundial House transforms into BackCountry’s first-ever haunted house, complete with ghosts, witches, werewolves, prizes, games, fortunetelling, and more. From 5pm to 7pm, the haunted house will be designed to accommodate kids ages 3-9, but from 7pm to 9pm, it will become a scare-zone fit for tweens, teens, and adults. Please RSVP at backcountrylife.org by October 16.

Trick or Treat Train-Oct. 31, 10am-4pm
Not only is the Colorado Railroad Museum a safe place to take the kids trick-or-treating, it’s a wonderful spot to while away a morning or an afternoon. Catch a ride behind a historic locomotive in vintage passenger cars hosted by costumed conductors. At special stops you can fill your treat bags, visit a not-so-spooky haunted railcar, the Olde Railroaders “graveyard,” and a pumpkin patch for a cute photo op. Museum members and children under two are free, $5 for ages 2-15, $15 for adult, and $10 for seniors over 60. Learn more.

trick or treat train

BackCountry Halloween Hot Spot Houses-Oct. 31, dusk-7:30pm
BackCountry is known for its friendly ways, and here’s one more example: neighborhood “hot spots” for trick-or-treaters and their parents to enjoy a hot drink and/or snack, plus a little chitchat along the way. The HOA is looking for one volunteer on each block to open their garage and provide light refreshments. It’s a wonderful way to get to know your neighbors and see all the spooktacular costumes. If you’re interested in hosting, please contact John Lyon at jlyon@ccmcnet.com by Friday, October 23.

A flower grows in the suburbs

by | September 9th, 2015

Here’s the thing about Highlands Ranch. After more than three decades, this is no upstart, amenities-lite suburban community. Highlands Ranch has all the shops, restaurants, and services you could want. Without the headaches and traffic dealt with by our urban friends to the north.

Abloom romance floral display

Regularly, this blog profiles local businesses that add to the richness of the Highlands Ranch and BackCountry community. Abloom is one of them. Located in Highlands Ranch Town Center, just 10 minutes from BackCountry, this florist and gift shop is a favorite for its creative floral designs and quality merchandise.

abloom wedding display

It’s the kind of place where you can come in and grab ready-made, but uniquely beautiful, flower arrangements—or you can put yourself in their very capable hands and let the creativity fly. (Their floral photo gallery attests to their refreshing designs.) Abloom’s arrangements can be found at weddings and major corporate functions, as well as everyday anniversary and birthday events.

Abloom navy plum display

When it comes to gifts, the shop’s owners travel throughout the United States and Canada, searching for unique, and often exclusive, finds. Their wares include jewelry, paintings, scarves, note cards, metalwork, and blown and fused glass. Many of the artists they represent are willing to create custom work per your request. While the quality of art is high, the attitude is down-to-earth. The owners go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome. Which is only appropriate in Highlands Ranch (and BackCountry), where residents prefer a bit of small-town heart with their city perks.

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