Alcott and High

a weekly story about Denver, life, and the things that interest us

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Month: February 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Help for the Curly Girls!

Growing up mixed-ethnicity with a White mom made figuring out how to style our hair more difficult than the average girl.  When we were little girls my sister’s hair was kinky-curly and frizzy, so my mom would try to brush it into submission.  Anyone with curls or frizz knows that the brush is your enemy!  My hair was wavy and fine, yet still frizzy, so my problem was always trying to find how to keep my curls in their natural shape.  I learned tips over the years (always leave some conditioner on your ends after you shower; mousse is better for holding waves, and gel is better for creating curls from frizz), but my most recent obsession is a custom cut by a curl expert.  Erik Emblem at Michta Salon in Cherry Creek has spent years studying the art of cutting and styling curls.  I used to think that any stylist should be able to cut anyone’s hair, so there should not be a need for a “curl expert.”  But once you sit in Erik’s chair and watch him work, you see that there are very specific cutting and styling techniques that are only for us curly girls.

Here are my BEFORE pics:


My hair does this strange thing when it gets too long – it separates and creates a shelf because I have different textures of curls in different places on my head.  When I start seeing the shelf appear, I know its time to visit Erik.

The first thing Erik does at your appointment is determine what type of curly girl you are (i.e., what type of curls do you have), which determines how he cuts it and which products he uses.  My sister has corkscrew curls and I have Botticelli curls/waves.


Erik cuts your hair when it is dry (another curly girl secret!) so that he can see how it curls in its natural state.  Erik is truly an artist.  He spends a very long time looking at nearly every curl, adjusting the cut to fit you perfectly.


Erik also does color, but I didn’t get any color during this past appointment.  His color technique is great as well.  He literally paints on the color to the individual curls so that it looks natural (I will never do foils again!)

After cut and color, Erik styles your hair.  He uses the DevaCurl product line.  The products are great, and he tells you exactly which ones work for your type of curl.  When styling your hair, he explains everything he is doing along the way.  The focus is on keeping your curls in their natural state, and preventing straightening them at any time.  So even when you are showering, he shows you how to cup your wet hair in your hands; when drying your hair, you are supposed to use an old t-shirt or a special towel that is micro-fiber because regular towels can damage the natural curl state; when applying gel, you throw your hair upside down and scrunch it from the ends up.   Next, Erik uses clips to at the roots to add volume and then puts you under a dryer.  He also uses a blowdryer with a diffuser.  After your hair is styled, Erik does one more study of your curls and cuts any pieces that do not lay perfectly.

Here are the AFTER pics:

I got married last summer and had grown my hair out and wanted something totally new.  I picked a long bob (aka “lob”).  This is the shortest my hair has been since I was 5 years old.  I am loving it.

Thanks, Erik!

Happy (70 degrees in February) Weekend

Happy Weekend!  It is going to be 70 degrees in Denver, so find something to do outside.  My version of being “outdoorsy” is walking to Little Man Ice Cream.


This weekend I am going wedding dress shopping with one of my favorite people.  I haven’t been to Emma & Grace yet, but I am looking forward to it.

I am also baby-sitting our friend’s toddler and baby so that she and her husband can go out without the kiddos.  Zach will be at an Avs game, so I’ll have them by myself – wish me luck!

And then girls’ brunch on Sunday!

I started a new job this week.  I am happy for a new opportunity, but it is always difficult start at a new office, make new relationships, and get to know all the different systems and policies.  To pump myself up each morning, I’ve been watching Beyonce’s Formation Video before I leave home:

Shannon is going to come to my office this weekend and help me decorate.  I think this is the look I am going for – minimalist with a touch of whimsy.  I also need a new plant because I have a south-facing window!  Any recommendations?


Scheduling Professional Family Portraits in Denver

Professional portraits can be expensive, but capturing a certain time in your life, doesn’t really have a price. We get portraits done every couple of years. I imagine our next ones will be maternity (eventually…) and then new family portraits. Through photography you can capture the days awaiting a new life, the first days of having a new family, the, if you get a great photographer, real moments, captured beautifully. I took these portraits of my friend a few weeks before her baby was born. She was beautiful and felt calm and confident. Avalos2013_(60_of_109)



A professional photographer took our engagement photos and three years later, another photographer took our anniversary  portraits.

eengagement pics

The engagement photos were taken a day before our wedding. When I look at them I remember the warm weather, that we were headed to our rehearsal dinner after, that I was drinking white wine in the first apartment we lived in together.  I felt excited to get to marry Marcos the next day.  In these pictures we were not yet married and its so fun to look back and remember that time.

engagement 2

engagement 3

When I look at our anniversary pictures, I think of how we rode our bikes to City Park, before we moved a block away. I remember that at that time we had recently moved back from Japan and I was about to begin graduate school.  So much happened between August 2011-August 2014.

Laura Murray took these photos of our family. Shelby and Zach used some of the portraits for their engagement photos so you can use the prints for a variety of purposes.

Laura Murray Photography, Rainy, Colorado, Engagement, Mountain

Laura Murray Photography, Colorado, Engagement, Film

Laura Murray Photography, Colorado, Engagement, Film

aniversary 5


Professional photos are worth the cost because you are captured at a certain time in your life, beautifully. Our photos hang in our home and they will continue to be hung as we welcome children into our home, our bodies and hair change, and we age. Photography freezes time and that’s an amazing investment.

Shelby and Zach at City Park, by Laura Murray

Laura Murray Photography, Colorado, Engagement, Film

Laura Murray Photography, Colorado, Engagement, Film

Laura Murray Photography, Colorado, Engagement, Film

Laura Murray Photography, Colorado, Engagement, Film

Photos above are by Dan Chen, Laura Murray, and me.

My favorite Denver photographers- I have worked with and love all of these photographers.

Laura Murray 

Rouxby -pronounced Rooby

Julie Harris Photography

and my site here 



Food Love: How To Do a Brunch

Recently Marcos and I hosted a brunch with our friends. (You can see the menu in the picture behind Alyce below.)



I learned a few lessons about hosting brunch with your husband… if he is cooking (I am pretty darn lucky).

  1. You have to ask how you can help…then actually do it.  We didn’t eat for about 45 minutes because I wasn’t doing my assigned tasks in the kitchen (having too much fun drinking mimosas!)
  2. Make a menu and stick with it.  I kept trying to add ideas, but Marcos already knew what would go together.
  3. The person not cooking (me) needs to host– ask people if they want coffee, mimosas, etc…because I was just chatting with my girlfriends and I think he might have felt alone in the kitchen.
  4. Each person hosting should have certain jobs and make sure they are done on time or it will be 1pm before you start eating! Ask you friends to help prepare the salad or serve drinks (people love to help, plus everyone always ends up talking in the kitchen anyway, so might as well put them to work).
  5. Doing some prep work the day before will save time on the day of the brunch.untitled-0058
  6. HOLIDAY_2015_(16_of_19)

The brunch was delicious:  we had a vegan scramble, a miso porridge with brandied peaches, a burrito bar with eggs, potatoes and green chili , a simply dressed green salad, and a fruit salad. We had friends bring the green salad and champagne for mimosas.




Now that I have learned my lessons from hosting our first brunch, we should start planning the next one.  Any suggestions for what we (come on, we all know its Marcos) should cook next?

Weekend Getaways- San Francisco

Marcos is a California boy and when he moved from San Francisco, he left part of his heart there. We go to the bay area several times a year to get our west coast fix.  This fall, we rented this Airbnb in the mission. The mission is our favorite place to stay because you can walk to everything. You walk down the street and look at the neighborhood’s world famous murals, get the BEST tacos, and there is always some new place to get a mixologist to shake up a cocktail.

Mission San Francisco

All I wanted to do on this trip was walk through Golden Gate Park to the ocean, eat dim sum, and try some new restaurants.  We ate brunch at Tartine Bakery, walked through Golden Gate Park to the ocean, and stopped for Green Tea at the Japanese Gardens half-way through the park. Also, I never noticed there were Buffalo in the middle of the park! We had dinner at Thai Farmhouse Kitchen and crazy good pre-dinner cocktails at Range.

I learned on the trip to wear good shoes because I chose cute ones and my feet were tortured on those hills.



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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We are already planning our next trip to the Bay.  Do you have new restaurant recommendations or things to do?  Please share in the comments!

Blanket Scarf

I was gifted two blanket scarfs this past Christmas. One from myself and one from Shelby. The weather outside is turning cold and the temperature at my work is equally frigid. The blanket scarves have been serving their purpose. I basically get to wrap myself  in a cozy blanket all day and have it be socially acceptable, and even stylish! The scarves are from JCREW and they are on sale right now.

Here are some different ways to rock the blanket scarf.

blanket scarf tutorial


At first, Shelby and I were confused about how to style them, but we learned a few tricks.  Wear with a simple shirt so that the blanket scarf is the main focus.  Make sure to fold the scarf before putting it on like one of the examples above.  Wearing your hair pulled back is best if you have long curls because the volume of the scarf can get in the way and you can look messy.  Blanket scarves are also great for just being cozy (and looking stylish) at home.

Do any of you have blanket scarves?  How are you wearing them this season?

Have a beautiful weekend!


shoesThis weekend we are going to attend the fashion show, art, and culture event at  Artopia at City Hall on Broadway. You can still get tickets! This event makes Denver feel as cool (we know its already  awesome but…) as New York or San Francisco. You can really dress up,no lululemon,  and fit right in. There is art, a fashion show, and a diverse group of fun people.

We will give you a full report of how it went next week! You can follow us and the event on instragram #artopiaDEN and #alcottandhigh

Have a beautiful, restful, good weather weekend.

Shoes pic from Vogue, Mulbury

Our Colorado Wedding (Shannon and Marcos)



We got married at the Chatfield Botanic Gardens in Denver. We were members of the garden so we got a 20% discount on the venue. It was the only venue we looked at and it was perfect because you get to rent the whole space so people could wander around with their wine and feel like they had the space to themselves. Our summer wedding was so dreamy that still, years later, think about it maybe twice a week.



Marcos and I saved and planned for this wedding for over a year.  Every detail from the flowers to the food (we invested the most in food) were intentional. While most people feel overwhelmed and stressed with the planning process, we actually had a great time planning, and then enjoying, our wedding.


We got ready at a family friend’s home that was only a ten minute drive from the venue. The rest of the event, thanks to our day of coordinator, ran like clockwork.




Our ceremony was in a beautiful meadow and we wrote the ceremony ourselves. Marcos’s cousin, a buddhist priest, married us. We did a hand fastening ceremony to show our commitment to each other, our family, and our community. The knots, which Shelby tied, are still in our living room. The vows, which we wrote and practice today, are tucked inside of our wedding album. I wrote my vows on a notecard and I love to pick it up and see how its still bent and has grass stains from the day of our wedding.

Shelby and my Mom walking me down the aisle. The emotion  flooded me as soon as we walked through that arch.

untitled_(21_of_100) untitled_(29_of_100)

untitled_(24_of_100) We incorporated the African-American tradition of jumping the broom to start off our life together. It was important for us to weave our culture into the ceremony and it was so fun to jump that broom, especially in my dress with a train!


This moment of elation is captured perfectly by Dan Chan. We did it!


During the toast Shelby and Marcos’s brothers Julian  and Nathan had us in tears of laughter and nostalgia. Shelby read an email I sent her after my first date with Marcos that was hilarious and embarrassing.  Our family and friends even did  a surprise flash mob style performance. They gathered around us and sang Aint’ No Moutain High and everyone had specific parts, it was amazing.




Marcos and I took dance lessons and danced to At Last by Ella Fitzgerald. We met working on the Obama campaign and we celebrated our one year anniversary at the Inauguration in DC. The first dance Barack and Michelle danced to at the Inaugural Ball, and we danced to in the audience, was At Last and that song holds special meaning to us.



Looking back at my wedding, I wouldn’t change a thing, though, I do have some suggestions for the process/day of.

  1. Marcos ended up doing a lot of running around a few minutes before the wedding. If you are a groom, this can happen. Make sure to designate a point person for the groom so they can feel relaxed right before their big walk down the isle.
  2. Outside weddings- 2 things not to forget: Plenty of bug spray and if you eat under the starts, a LOT more candles than you would think. They burn out quickly.
  3. Dress–I would make sure to get a dress that fits you! I  would not recommend going with an amazing dress, that is a sample size. My dress ended up having to go through major alterations and looked nothing like the dress I originally tried on with the bridal clips. I was crying in the dressing room a week before the wedding because it didn’t fit right. Just trust me–buy a dress that fits, and also, with straps! My dress keep slipping down as the night progressed.untitled_(17_of_100)
  4. Have  shot list- we had an amazing photographer but missed a few key shots, like the bridal party all together.
  5. Hire a great photographer, you will not regret this. I love looking through images of our wedding day. They are silly, romantic, timeless, and honest.
  6. untitled_(52_of_100) untitled_(55_of_100)
  7. Be present- I don’t feel like our wedding flew by. I enjoyed every minute of it because I took a few deep breaths before it all started and had the intention of staying present.
  8. Write your vows- The ceremony was my favorite part of the wedding. It was intimate, original, and we wrote vows that we actually remember, and practice today.
  9. Gifts- I sketched this image of me and Marcos on our wedding day and gave it to him as a gift. I had an artist make it into a glycee print, like an old poster. It hangs in our house today and its a nice everyday reminder of our wedding.  Marcos gave me a beautiful jewelry box. untitled_(77_of_100)
  10. A getaway car. Shelby hired a limo to take us from the reception to our hotel downtown. We could still stay in the dream, rather than crawling into my Pontiac and making sure my dress didn’t get caught in the door.
  11. Do something after- A group of close friends went downtown to Euclid Hall and we had some drinks. It was a nice little after- after party where we could actually talk with the friends who came from all over for our wedding.
  12. Remember to bring a piece of your wedding cake to eat later that night or for breakfast the next day. Why waste cake?!untitled_(22_of_100)All photos taken by the amazing Dan Ch

Food Love: The Easiest Meal Prep

Quick note: This is not a diet post. It’s my easy, and happens to be healthy (cause why not?) post about how I am figuring out how to prepare meals for the busy week ahead. 

funny shirt

I have over-thought my meal prep for years. I always pin the healthy meal prep ideas but the process  just seems like too much. I  end up going to Whole Foods on the way to work or doing a ton of unhealthy snacking because  I am not organized with preparing ahead. I finally found a system that is working for me. I prepare lunches on Sunday, or try to.

1)I prepare a green smoothie for breakfast with protein.- 3 handfuls of spinach, a banana (takes away the spinach taste) blueberries, a scoop of whey protein. I mix it in the vitamix on the smoothie setting. I drink it on the way to work.

green smoothie

2)I eat an apple or Laura Bar for a quick snack while the kids go to their specials classes.

3) For lunch- I buy romaine lettuce from the store and stir fry chicken breasts. The stir fry chicken works best because its already cut into strips. I put on some seasoning and then make a caesar salad.  Instead of caesar dressing I use vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and cover it with romano cheese.

5) For dinner, Marcos usually cover this…I just bought at instant pot so I’m excited to try some easy delicious dinners.



Weekend Getaways – Chicago

My husband and I love to travel, and if we had our way we would be jetting off to exotic destinations every other week. But with two demanding jobs and an active social life in Denver, we have to find other ways to satisfy our travel cravings. Sometimes that can be as simple as going to Uncle for a steaming bowl of ramen to take us back to our trip to Japan in 2012. We’ve recently found that a weekend getaway does the trick as well. A weekend is not long enough that you need to put up an away message on your email, or tell anyone at work that you will be unavailable, but it is just enough time to get the feel for a new place. A great friend got married in Chicago and we used the wedding as an excuse for a weekend getaway. Zach had never visited the windy city, and I had only been in and out on work trips, so we decided to live it up and be full-on tourists. We asked friends for recommendations on things to see and do, the cool neighborhoods to check out, and of course, the best food.

Because you have limited time to tour the city, you have incentive to take some time beforehand to plan activities and get recommendations on things to do in the place you are visiting. Multiple people told us to do the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s boat tour. It was great for us. Zach, the history buff, enjoyed the stories and facts that the docent on the tour provided, and I loved looking at the amazing architecture and beautiful surroundings on the Chicago river.

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Another great recommendation was brunch at Siena Tavern.  Zach had Lobster Hash and I was in a decadent mood and chose Tiramisu French Toast.

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We both love art museums, and the Art Institute of Chicago has some incredible pieces. This is where the famous American Gothic painting is. We had limited time but we got to see the “best of”: Monet, Van Gogh, Rodin sculptures, and a favorite artist of mine, Edward Hopper. Below is a picture of Zach checking out the Georges Seurat pointilism painting.


We went on a long walk around the city because the weather was great.


Loved taking pictures at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park!


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It was a great trip and the best part was Katie and Mikes wedding at Salvage one

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We would definitely recommend Chicago as a fun and easy weekend getaway!