Alcott and High

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

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Month: March 2016 (page 1 of 3)

Inspiration – Celebrating 90 Years


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On Sunday we celebrated Zach’s grandmother’s 90th birthday.  Pretty incredible.  Zach’s mom had a brilliant idea of making a list of the 90 things we love about Grandma Jean.  She sent a request to family and close friends a couple of weeks before the celebration and got back great responses.  Some people actually listed things like, “her love of reading”, but most of the submissions were letters expressing how Grandma Jean had influenced their lives.  The letters were touching – humorous, heartfelt, and sweet.

I noticed a common theme in all of her grandchildren’s submissions – she felt like home.  Whenever they were at her house, Grandma Jean made them feel comfortable and cozy.  I felt this immediately when I first visited Zach’s family in Bakersfield during a road trip in college.  I remember sitting in the kitchen eating a salad with vegetables she grew in the garden and laying around with a number of dogs and cats she had rescued from one place or another.  She has a nurturing soul.

The ’90 things’ were read aloud during the birthday party.  I learned a lot about Grandma Jean –

-She is an avid reader.  Sometimes she reads hours into the night.  She even got carpel tunnel in her thumb from clicking the next page on her Kindle!

-She grew up on a ranch in California and rode horses.

-She has been accused of cheating at gin rummy.

-She loves Enya’s music.

– some things were familiar, and some were totally new.  Which inspired me.  I want to learn more about my family and hear all of the funny and sweet and sad stories.

I don’t have any grandparents left – they all died either before we were born or when we were pretty young.  Shannon and I were closest to our mom’s mom – Grandma Caroline.  She loved coffee and pie (I never saw her eat a real meal, which is probably where my mom got it!).  She had gorgeous style – Shannon and I loved playing dress up in her closet at her house in South Dakota.  She was a career woman in Chicago when she was young.  We did not know my dad’s mom well, but I remember feeling warm and comfortable in her home.  I wish I would have gotten to know both of them better.  I think it is important to have connections to family and learn your family stories, so I have set a goal to get in touch with some of our living family members in South Dakota, Texas, California, and who knows where else!

Zach’s mom made a scrapbook and pasted in all of the notes and letters and cards on pretty paper.  I know Grandma Jean went home that night and got snuggled up in her cozy and clean house and poured over those.  It was a perfect gift for a 90-year old woman who lives a good, full life.

I am inspired to learn more about my living family members – how about you?

Yummy Non-Dairy Breakfast – Chia and Fruit Bowl

Shelby here, with a recipe for a delicious non-dairy breakfast that might replace your morning yogurt!  I have been trying to cut down on the amount of dairy I eat.  I am not a crazy person that is completely eliminating it from my diet (I love cheese way too much for that), but I am looking for subtle ways to cut down.  I brought my own non-dairy creamer into work to put in my coffee.  And because I frequent my favorite neighborhood joint for yogurt and granola a little to often, so I am trying to be frugal by making chia pudding bowls at home.  (It has a similar consistency to yogurt).



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All you need is a few ingredients.  Mix four tablespoons chia seeds with 3/4 cup coconut milk, 1/4 cup coconut juice, and 1/8 teaspoon of almond or vanilla extract.  Stir well and put it in the fridge overnight.  In the morning the chia seeds will have expanded and created a pudding consistency.  I top mine with fresh fruit and sometimes raw coconut or nuts.  Be sure to add the toppings last, after the chia pudding has set overnight.

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I started adding chia seeds to my diet many years ago, before it was so popular and every Pinterest recipe featured it!  Chia is a wonder food that provides protein, fiber, and good fats.  In addition to chia pudding I also add chia seeds to my smoothies or I sprinkle it on toast with almond butter and honey (YUM!).

I am curious if there are other non-dairy recipes you swear by – please share in the comments!

Great New Book – Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It: Life Journey’s Inspired by the Bestselling Memoir


In 2007, When I first met my husband Marcos on the Obama campaign, we took off on a weekend to Malibu to visit his brother. This was pretty early in the relationship. Marcos didn’t know that I imagined walking/running off the plane because I used to have an absurd fear of flying or that I went shopping before the trip just to look extra cute for the 48 hours we would be spending in CA.  I was 23 but I felt 43  and 13 at the same time.  At that point I was feeling pressure of adulthood. I was also on the precipice of a  big adventure and the world was simultaneously full of possibility and fear.

As we laid on the beach in Malibu I was reading Eat Pray Love.  Elizabeth Gilbert’s words spoke to me, and millions of others, about taking risks for love and for your happiness. Everyone was obsessed with this book but my response felt private and personal. Her words made me feel brave and okay. She messed up and I felt like I could mess up and I might even one day write a novel about it so it’s all good. The book helped me realize that you should  never being afraid to just do what you gotta do.

(In my case, it was finding, trusting, and marrying this man named Marcos)


These quotes from Eat Pray Love are wise, and funny, and true for me:

“In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place.” 

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

“There’s a crack (or cracks) in everyone…that’s how the light of God gets in.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

“You’re wishin’ too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

“I’m choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

and so something I would have said (Me and Liz could be BFFs)

“Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it’s what you want before you commit.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray,

I am honored to write about the upcoming book Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It- Life Journey’s Inspired by the Bestselling Memoir.   The book features a woman from Denver! and several other women who set out on life changing adventures inspired by Eat Pray Love.  To feel present, to feel brave, to feel authentically you, requires risk. This book will help you feel like much much more is possible for you.

Elizabeth Gilbert will be at the Paramount on May 5th!!!!!  I will be blogging from the event. Please join and we can all sit together and then get cocktails and obsess over it afterwards.

Here is the link for tickets 

See you there! Also, read Eat Pray Love again and then hop on Amazon and buy the anthology Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It: Life Journey’s Inspired by the Bestselling Memoir

The Secret to Finding Perfect Jeans

beautiful jeans

Shelby here, with a fashion secret I learned over the weekend.  I went shopping with Shannon and my mom on Saturday.  I started off in a bad mood because I was dreading what I had to do – buy jeans!  I have always had a hard time finding jeans that look good on me.  I have a small waist and full hips and butt and nothing ever looks right.  My usual jeans shopping goes like this –

  1. Tell the sales person what I am looking for
  2. Sales person pulls two pairs of jeans, thinking she knows exactly what will work
  3. I inform the sales person I will need to try on about a dozen pairs in a variety of sizes because I never know what will work
  4. I go to dressing room with optimism because, hey, if I have twenty pairs of jeans to try on, one of them will have to fit, right?
  5. I try everything on and every pair has something wrong – gaping at the waist, too tight on the thigh, not the right length, too baggy at the knees but snug everywhere else
  6. I leave frustrated and without jeans OR
  7. I spend money on something that sort of works, but is not great, and every time I put on the “just okay” jeans, I feel annoyed.

We went to a couple of stores on Saturday and the usual thing happened – I left feeling frustrated without jeans.  My mom stopped to get a Starbucks (she is addicted to lattes with too much whipped cream) and because the line was long, I popped over to Madewell to take a quick look at their denim selection.  I was exhausted by that time, but I am glad I made myself talk to the denim specialist and try stuff on, because I had a TOTALLY new experience that went something like this:

Yes.  I found “zing” jeans!

The denim specialist walked me through all of the problems I had been having and gave an explanation and a resolution for each one (she was like the best therapist you could have – she left me feeling GREAT about myself).  Now I am sharing what I learned with you all so you can always feel zing in your jeans.

  1. Buy jeans two sizes smaller than you think you are.  This is the most important thing I learned.  Apparently, there has been a scientific revolution in denim the last 5 or so years and all the new jean fabrics have quite a bit of stretch.  This makes them last longer and also fit better, but a lot of people don’t like it because they end up buying the wrong size and they think the jeans are bad.  It’s not the jeans’ fault, and it’s not yours either!  The trick is to buy two (maybe even three!) sizes smaller.  The idea is to get the tightest pair you can get into (meaning you’ll do the jump around, suck in as you pull up the zipper, dance in the dressing room).  The jeans are supposed to be very tight and then over the next couple of times you wear them they will fit to your specific body, and then stay that way.
  2. Embrace the high rise.  I was skeptical when the denim specialist sent me into the room with a pair of jeans called High Riser Skinny Skinny.  But the high rise it what solves my problem of the gaping at my waist.  They fit perfectly and I am in love.
  3. Wash your jeans less than you think is appropriate.  Because of the new fabrics in nice jeans, you don’t want to wash your jeans as often.  The denim specialist at Madewell suggested every 8 times you wear them (which translates to about once a month, in my case).  If you get a spot on them, try to clean just the spot, without throwing the in the washing machine.  If you feel like they need to be cleaned and it hasn’t been enough time to wash them, she suggested putting the jeans in a ziploc bag and placing them in the freezer for 24 hours.  This gets rid of the bacteria, apparently.  Seems weird, but she was totally sold on the idea.  I’ll try it and let you all know.
  4. Do not EVER dry your jeans.  This was one of the big mistakes I was making.  My last pair of jeans got baggy in the knees and so I would try to shrink them by putting them in the dryer for 5 minutes before wearing them.  Apparently this was a BIG mistake.  Washing and drying the jeans break up the fibers in the jeans and cause them to lose their stretch.  Instead of drying your jeans, do the right thing at first and buy jeans smaller than you think you need.  SEE No. 1.
  5. Always get help from a jeans specialist.  The woman at Madewell had literally been to denim school.  Part of her job training is learning all of this stuff about how jeans are made and the fabrics and how to care for them.  Plus, she made me feel great about myself, which is the best way to feel when shopping.

After our successful jeans shopping we treated ourselves to thai food and had a movie night.  We watched a great movie with Zoe Saldana (my family has been obsessed with her ever since this movie, which was a VERY important part of our growing up).  Zoe does the jeans look perfectly, so I thought she should be the featured image for today’s post.

image from Daily Mail

Have a Spring-y weekend

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Marcos and I are headed to California for the week. I am excited to eat In an Out Burger, see the ocean, sleep and read. We are staying in the city for a few days then heading to Inverness. We hope you have an amazing weekend.

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Scheduling Conversations

PAPER AND LACE WEDDING BLOGAt night, when we are typically emotional, tired, and when I naturally want to talk about everything, is not a good time for us.  Talking via email or phone is not ideal, so its been a challenge to figure out when to sit down and figure things out.  I wish I could just breath and let things work themselves out but sometimes you just have to use the words and sit and make a plan.

Working all the time, and not always having the weekends to connect, puts me and Marcos in a difficult spot for having those “conversations” that need to be had. Shelby said that somehow she and Zach end up  talking about serious things when they go out to dinner. Last week I told Marcos we  should  go to our favorite restaurant and make a life plan, haha, but really.

We had wine(not too much) and talked through some upcoming plans. Having a planned conversation, outside of the house is good for several reasons. 1) You are in a public place so crying and yelling is not reasonable (although its easy to cry in public…so whatev) 2) You have wine and good food so you can avoid feeling hangry  3) You are in a good mood and anticipating an planned conversation about the future. I felt more excited,  less emotional, relaxed, and like there was less pressure making plans in a favorite spot. When you have time to anticipate a talk you know what you want to say so it felt easy and natural. We are not always going to do this but it seemed to work this  time.

When/Where do you have serious conversations in your busy life?

(Marcos and I when we were babies in 2007 at a coffeeshop )

marcos and m

(Image above from paper and lace wedding blog)


Humble Pie in Denver

The Humble Pie Store is becoming one of my go-to places  when you ask yourself “Where should we go?” Shelby and I met for pies on Sunday and our friends Gina and Seth ended up stopping by and joining for a latte. It’s becoming a Colfax neighborhood gathering place. I love driving 5 minutes to eat here, although at 30 minute drive would be worth it.


They serve savory and sweet pies in two sizes. You can just get a snack by ordering a small pie or eat a meal with a large pie. We get several small pies and share sweet and savory options. Humble Pie also has a full bar. Who doesn’t love cocktails and a pie?

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If you mention that you live in the neighborhood you get a 5% discount. What are your go-to-places?

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Travel Planning

Hello! (Shelby signing on.)  Zach and I love to travel together and we have made it a priority to do at least one big trip each year.  Last year we went to Croatia in July for our honeymoon.  The year before that we went to Spain and the year before that, Japan.  Because I just started a new job, I feel like I need to get settled in before taking a long trip, so our next adventure probably will not be until November (when Zach has a break from teaching and coaching Soccer).



Zach in Montenegro last summer

Kyoto 2012

Planning trips are almost as fun as taking them. Zach and I usually buy travel books and sit down together at a coffee shop or at home with a glass of wine; we take notes on the local cuisine and top things to do, and use a calendar to plan an itinerary.

In Madrid 2014

We have both been wanting to go to Colombia, and also were thinking of the Dominican Republic, but now the Zika Virus has made us rethink those destinations.

In Croatia for our honeymoon last year

Here are some ideas we have been throwing around – please let me know if you have been to these places and what recommendations you have!


I went to Portugal with Alyce when we were studying in Spain in 2004, but I have been wanting to go back and Zach has never been.  I think we would spend only a couple nights in Lisbon and then rent a car and travel along the coast.  I would love to see this cave!




There is a direct flight from Denver to Reykjavik, Iceland, and quite a few people have recommended it as a cool vacation spot.  I think Zach would love the scenery and outdoorsy things to do.  I would be more into exploring the city.  I love The New York Times’ “36 Hours in –” series, and I often use it in travel planning to find restaurants and more local things to do.  This is the one for Reykjavik.



Pacific Northwest – Vancouver Road Trip

I have still never been to Seattle, and neither of us have been to Portland.  We were thinking it would be fun to fly into Portland, spend a couple nights being hipsters, and then rent a car and drive north.  We could spend a few days in Seattle, and maybe go to one of those beautiful secluded woodsy islands off the coast.  Then we would drive to Vancouver, which is another place many people have recommended visiting.  And I’m sure Zach would love to catch a Soccer game!

san juan islands



Machu Picchu is also on our bucket list. I did not see Peru on the map of areas where the Zika Virus is, perhaps because it is at a higher elevation where mosquitoes are less of a problem.  Although hiking is not my favorite pastime, I think we would need to do a trek to really get a feel for Machu Picchu.  A couple friends recommended this tour agency.



We will let you know where we decide to go.  In the meantime, please share your favorite travel planning resources in the comments!

Spring Happenings in Denver!

It’s officially spring! We probably have a few more snowstorms… but warmer days are ahead. We can’t wait to get out on our bikes and be outdoors.

Shelby and I have always been festival people. We love going to outdoor markets, walking around, people watching. Here are a few spring events happening in Denver and the surrounding area. Let us know if you are going and we can meetup!


Taste of Vail: March 30th -April 3rd 2016. You can buy tickets here. The tickets include drinks or tapas. You can walk around with a drink and feel like you are on vacation.


The Source Pop Up Market-Saturday April 9th and Sunday April 10th 10am-4pm. This event is free. I love the Source and they will have breweries and food booths. We will def go to this one.

Denver Flea Spring Block Party-Saturday April 23rd and Sunday  April 24th 2016. We ride our bikes to this. There is live music, food trucks, drinks, local artisans selling goods, and great people watching. The entrances are at 35th and Larimer and 36th and Walnut, plus additional festivities inside the EXDO Event Center.

Rumpus in the Park at City Park- Sunday April 24th 11:30-7:00pm. This event seems really fun and is down the street. I am going to invite my girlfriends with kids and setup a picnic. There will be DJ’s and Hula hooping.

Five Points Jazz Festival- May 21st 11-8pm. We go every year on our bikes to this festival. Its really crowded, loud, and fun.



Have a Cozy Weekend


This Sunday it will be Spring! It’s currently snowing in Denver to welcome in the Spring.

Tonight Marcos and I are having dinner at Potager. Shelby and I are having a girls brunch Saturday and we are doing our first interview for the blog on Sunday!

Thanks so much for reading and for commenting on posts, its so much more fun that way.

Have a beautiful weekend,