Around the Table in Colorado

We’ve spent the last three weeks in Colorado including Denver, Winter Park, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. We had a handful of legit folkie shows and the rest of our time was spent around the table.

Our first stop was in snowy Denver with the Stephan family. We were referred to them by a dear friend in Green Bay, WI. We parked street side in the new Stapleton Estates. Easy going, the Stephan’s made us feel right at home. We rested after a long trek across the plains states, enjoyed encouraging conversation and on our final night I had the opportunity to make a dinner for us all in their kitchen. Stocked with full amenities, all the bells and whistles, I was like a kid in a candy shop. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking in my bus kitchen, but this was a delight. We had organic Shepard’s pie, leafy greens and flourless chocolate cake for dessert, all from my ‘The Apron Strings‘ Cookbook.

   

The Stephan’s also connected us with a local charity, The Urban Farm and we were able to connect for a benefit show. That lead to us meeting a first grade teacher at Fletcher Primary, who invited us to come and share our Australian Folklore workshop with eighty 1st graders. They loved Craig’s mustache, and sang ‘Waltzing Matilda’ with all their might.

Next we stored our rig with our dear friends at Radiant Church and drove our mini-van up to Winter Park/Fraser to serve at Timberline School. The drive is terrifying coming up that pass but once we were there the beautiful sunshine and snowy mountain tops erased all the fear.  Our friends, Dan and Sarah Thomas are the directors at Timberline and we have always wanted to offer some sort of service to their efforts. So when we were planning our fall tour, we blocked out a week to pour in. We shared in song with the students, we joined them for most of the morning and lunch meals, we helped with child care, building projects and enjoyed making a meal or two for the Thomas’s. And, just a small family affair, we celebrated Graciana’s sixteenth birthday with a home-made pizza party. We had a french themed party for her in September with all of our friends in Chicago, but it’s special to celebrate on the day as well.

Back to Denver for a gig at Swallow Hill and short but sweet say with some of our old friends; Randy, Beki and Diego. Through out our travels we have met amazing kinfolk but there is something about a visit with an old friend. There is an ease to laugh, cry and share deep moments. This was just what we needed. We meet Beki and Randy at Lifest in 2007 and have performed with them and enjoyed community with them. Plus we were able to share a meal in celebration for Craig’s birthday, which falls right after Graciana’s.

On to Colorado Springs to spend a few days with the Penley family. We met them through the Thomas’s and have connected with them over the years. The Penley’s are generous and kind kinfolk. Younger than us but wise beyond their years. Their house was full to the brim with family and the laughter of children. With three children and fostering one, Christy is a super mom in the best sense. She is strong, organized and gentle all at the same time. And, Paul, he’s about the smartest person we’ve ever meet. We enjoyed conversations over delightful meals, a bon fire, quiet time of reading, baking with the kids and shared in song at their church, 1st Presbyterian. While there, Graciana connected with a new friend, discovering a similar taste in books, music and in the journey of being homeschooled.

 

We also had an opportunity to do a little sight-seeing, visiting the Olympic Training Center. Highlight was seeing the wide open arm span of Michael Phelps. That boy is big!

  

And our final Colorado stop was in Fort Collins with the Borden family. Dear friends from Chicago, Diane was my boss at Grrr Records and, the most encouraging person you’ll ever meet. We dove right in at the Borden house, cleaning and getting the garage space ready for about 28 folk to enjoy a Thanksgiving fest. It was a joy to sort through and organize (I’ll admit, I love organizing, I have been known to spend a good amount of time at the thrift store organizing the dresses by size, then color. Ha!) It was also a great visit for our kids, as the Borden clan is five strong. They watched movies, played a building video game called mine craft, helped prepare Thanksgiving decorations, put on plays with dress ups, and made funny movies on their I-Pad. We connect with kinfolk and got our worship on at ECC. Craig got his craftsman fix in by laying down a deck for the Borden’s. And, on our last night I made Asparagus/Mushroom/Leek with a wine cream sauce and Crepes for dinner.

 

We are thankful for our time in Colorado, for the community and encouragement that keeps us on our way and for the many meals shared with kinfolk, new and old.

Global/Local Holiday Gifts

There is much rhetoric about buying “local.”  The idea is to support our neighbors in order to keep our corner of the world thriving. I agree with this to the extent that it is important to support our neighbors, I just think our neighbors can be farther away than our postal code. We have connected with wonderful folks all over the country who are sharing their creative talents and striving to support their families in small business. So, this holiday season if you are looking to support the local market I have a few ideas to send your way.

I spent about three hours gathering all of their links. So, CLICK AWAY! 🙂

Art, Craft & Photography: There is nothing quite like an original piece of artwork. Commissioning an artist to take the sketch of your mind and make it 3D is a beautiful process. These folks all have fantastic skills, creative minds and most of all they are good listeners.  Bloom Photography, Out/Back Design,  Heidi Keys, Jason Seiler Illustration, Josh Kufahl,  Little Lace Lady, Off the Wheel Pottery, Photos by Beth Ann, Popelka Trenchard Glass, Richard Steinberger Photography, Nik Arnoldi Fine Art

Clothing & Accessories: These friends don’t shy away from a market driven by the mass desire for generic design. They are gifted and talented seamstress, treasure hunters and fine crafted jewelers, you want unique and beautiful check out these sites…  VillageBaby, The Brass Owl, ShoveIt Design, Refab, Larky Park, Gracie Designs, CityMade, Billy & Co., Wild Prairie Silver, If you are looking for name brand, check our our friends at Altrec

Food & Drink: Yum!  Authentic Feather FarmKabumParallel 44 WineryLa JavaDos ChilesGreen Plow Roasters, Kavarna

Body & Healing Arts: Great resources for body, mind and soul. Good Earth SoapTerry Naturally,  Kristie Lee GunsMardi Halvorsen YogaPeninsula ChiropracticMore MarriedShaping HerJerry Price CounselingMazzara Midwifery

Support non-profits & servant minded folks: These projects are both spiritual and practical, they are all run by individuals who have a desire to make this world a better place. They are trustworthy and supporting them would bring great joy this Christmas season.  Cornerstone Community Outreach, Timberline Lodge, Hungry Hearts United, Of Scars, Seven Loaves Project, The Suitcase Sideshow, Operation Elf Box, Bethany Erickson, Leadership Lab, YoungLife, Foundation Skate Ministry, Vapor Sports, The Fall Out Creative Community, Tribe of Judah School

Music: If you are looking for some great tunes try ordering directly from the musician. We have lots of favorites but these are some of our dearest friends. They are professional and creative musicians and I think you’ll love them.

Folk: Sammy Horner,  John Statz,  Patchouli,  Bill and Kate Isles,  Seth MartinGalynne Goodwill,  The Brothers Burn Mountain,  Beki Hemingway

Folk/Punk: Hillfolk Noir,  Men as Trees Walking,  Insomniac Folklore,  Destroy Nate Allen                                                                                                                                          

Indie: Nick JainaSoil and the SunRick Beerhorst

Electronic: Optimus PromWreckless Music,  Cloudburst

Jazz: Jana Nyberg GroupThe Unfortunate

Metal: The EternalSouthside Stranglers

Funtimes: Magic MamaCanon Ball

If you have other ideas to add, please feel free to comment.

Merry Christmas and Happy 2012!!