Alcott and High

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

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Category: Travel (page 1 of 3)

The Perfect Red

Red lipstick is my go to look that makes me feel instantly together. It gives a pop to an outfit and a hop to my step.  I like a red/orange look personally. The only problem with red is that it can become such a mess!

I should try one of those lipsticks that never come off that you see advertised all over social media.  Has anyone tried them? Are they toxic?  What ingredient makes the lip gloss never come off? I am skeptical…

The RMS brand, linked above, is my go to favorite right now in RMS Red.

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Hygge Away

This fall/winter I have mentioned the word cozy about 979,000. Half of those times, using the Danish word Hygge (pronounced HOO-GA). The word translates to cozy but more than that it is a way to be grounded in togetherness, community, light, comfort, warmth, and sweetness. The Danes have long dark winters and the Hygge way of life gets them through.  I bought The Little Book of Hygge and its been a coffee table staple.

Last year, around this time, was hard for me emotionally and physically. The darkness and fear I experienced during my last weeks of pregnancy was the most difficult experience I’ve ever had to work though. This year I am being intentional about taking gentle care of myself and creating an hygge and  nurturing space for me and my family.

Hygge Rules:

  • Get comfy. Take a break.
  • Be here now. Turn off the phones.
  • Turn down the lights. Bring out the candles.
  • Build relationships. Spend time with your tribe.
  • Give yourself a break from the demands of healthy living. Cake is most definitely hygge.
  • Live life today, like there is no coffee tomorrow.

My personal Hygge goals include wearing cozy socks, lighting my favorite candles, making soup, turning on the fireplace,  spending  time in nature, listening to podcasts and reading instead of tv and computers, and cuddling with my babes.


The She-Cave

Marcos and I spent  a lot of time in our upstairs living room after Fitz arrived. We did shifts where one of us spent half the night with Fitz while the other slept in our room. Those times were tender and hard. The blue walls of this tiny room, felt to me, like they were caving in.  I was craving something fresh and new. This was five months ago and guess what? I still feel that way!  Only now the space has also become a makeshift office and my computer, along with a bowl of chocolate covered almonds, is usually on the floor. Along with lots of baby finger prints on the screen.

I am in the process of creating a space haven for Marcos and I. M has given me full range for what I can the she-cave.  I want the space to function as our tv room and office. I am thinking minimal design. White walls, modern art, tribal rug, some gold accents to warm up the space.

I love these modern abstract prints. This artist is from the UK and his prints are the greatest (not so secret anymore).

This sputnik flush mount is easier than a chandelier and affordable. The brass color will add warmth to the room and replace the oversized brown fan we currently have in the room.

This tribal rug I love. My friend has the same one in her house. Not sure If I should go with something more neutral as the space is small. Thoughts?

Some new things

Well, we are in baby land over here, hence the long absence. We are learning a lot and want to share our adventures in new parenthood and pregnancy with you. In addition to travel, fashion, and all things for being thirtiesh woman in Denver, we are going to add some new parenthood tips, tricks, fails, etc… Stay tuned.  

5 Holiday Outings in Denver!

We have been feeling pretty festive over here and I thought I would share five fun and easy holiday outings to do in Denver with family and friends this holiday season.

  1. Brown Palace Tea-At this point you will have to sign up for next year or call for cancellations because they fill up fast! This historic hotel makes you feel like you are living in Downton Abbey and warm and fuzzy inside.The Brown Palace also has a bar. You can skip the tea and just enjoy a cocktail and the holiday decor. If you cannot get tea reservations at the Brown Palace try Castle Marne. Its charming, lovely, and they offer a Christmas tea in a  mansion about five minutes away from the Brown Palace.Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset
  1. The Nutcracker:This past Sunday we took our Mom to see the Nutcracker.  It’s like taking a shot of holiday cheer–for some.
  2.  Rhein Haus  has chandeliers and fireplace imported from Austria. The Beer Hall has a huge fire place, festival garland, white lights, sausage and beer. Perfect place to get a seasonal cocktail and relax after shopping.

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  3. Go see classic Christmas movies like ELF, Christmas Vacation, Home Alone and Love Actually! The Alamo Draft House is having parties where you watch these classics with other fans. We went to the ELF Party and we ended up ringing bells, tossing snowballs, watching syrup and pasta competitions and quoting our favorite lines.Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
  4. Blossoms of Light at the Botanic Gardens is beautiful. The garden is strung with light arrangements and its less of a scene and commitment than the zoo. You can get in and out in 30 minutes if you want and stroll around drinking hot cider as you admire the lights. I would recommend going on a weekday evening.



I love the idea of a Babymoon before the baby comes. Would you consider one? I love that it focuses on carving out time for just you and your partner before your baby comes to join.

Our Italy trip was an epic vacation for the two of us and I’m so glad we did it when I could still wear a bikini, tie my shoes, and put on pants, comfortably.  The trip wasn’t planned as a BabyMoon but it was fun bringing him along for the adventure about a week after we found out.

If you take a BabyMoon I would plan it during the first or second trimester. This way it’s still romantic, comfortable and easy to travel. By week 30 I was already feeling pretty uncomfortable on planes, cars, and in tight spaces. I am thinking about a little mountain overnight escape but when you are having constant contractions, its a bit nerve racking to take off to the hills, far from the hospital.

If I could blink my eyes and travel now it would be to Hotel Wailea in Wailea Hawaii. Where would you go? A Mountain escape? A Beach? Europe?



Tanzania – Safari

The last installment of our trip to Tanzania – SAFARI!

We did two safari trips while we were in Tanzania. The first was to Lake Manyara National Park. We crammed 40 people from Rolina into a bus that was probably supposed to fit about 25 people. We saw some amazing animals that day, but the best part of the experience for me was getting to watch the kids’ faces when they saw giraffes and elephants and impalas.




Cocaya made delicious lunches for all 40+ of us from the organic vegetables she grows at Shirikisha.





Jeff, Zach, and I also took Rosmin and Octavian on safari to Ngorongoro Crater. Octavian is studying to be a safari guide and it was wonderful to have him in the car with us to tell us all about the animals and birds and shrubs we saw. Rosmin was so happy the entire time. He kept saying this was the best safari ever (which is true – it was) and he would start a round of singing in the car. His friend, John, was our safari guide and he is amazing. His company is Powerful Kingdom Adventures and I would highly recommend it to anyone that is looking for an incredible safari experience!



After we got back from Lake Manyara, the girls at Rolina started teaching me how to say the names of the animals we say in Swahili. I’ve put the names below so you can learn, too!
















and baby toto


Ostrich mbuni


Wildebeest = nyumbu







I was blown away by the safari experience. It was not a central focus of our trip to Tanzania, because we were really there to spend time with everyone at Rolina and Shirikisha, but I am so happy we were able to go to Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro. It is a surreal experience to be surrounded by such beautiful creatures. At times I felt like I was in a different era on Earth – like we had just been dropped into prehistoric times and were taking a look around. Africa is a beautiful and intense and amazing place, and I cannot wait to go back.


Tanzania – Shirikisha and Mt. Kili

So excited to share more of our experiences in Tanzania today.  When the wonderful kids at Rolina were at school during the day, Jeff, Zach, and I would spend time in the neighboring towns outside of KwaSadala.

One of my favorite people in Tanzania (and maybe, the world) is Cocaya. She is incredibly smart and passionate and beautiful. She founded and runs a social enterprise that addresses the social and economic needs of disabled, disenfranchised, and marginalized people in Kilimanjaro. Cocaya knows sign language and uses it to teach deaf people how to sew. They make the most beautiful handmade textiles that they sell at their wonderful garden house.




Cocaya is so warm and welcoming – I never wanted to leave her beautiful house. There are gorgeous flowers all around and a lush garden. I could have sat all day with her. She is also one of those people who knows how to connect instantly. We had a number of deep conversations about our dreams in life, about family, about politics and race in America, and about being a female leader in Tanzania.



Please contact me if you are going to Tanzania and would like to visit Shirikisha.


One day while the kids were at school we caught a public bus to the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro and planned to go on a hike to a waterfall.


Along the way we ran into one of Jeff and Octavian’s friends (that happens a lot in Tanzania) who runs a coffee farm in the village – Hillborn Organic Coffee. Oscar took us to his farm and walked us through every step of harvesting and roasting coffee beans. One of the most important steps is singing while you shell and grind the beans!





Oscar’s coffee is without a doubt the best coffee I have had (and I am a coffee lover!).



Octavian, our wonderful friend and guide throughout Tanzania, stopped us along the way to point out a native plant or a local bird. We eventually made it to the waterfall and it was spectacular.



Afterwards we stopped at Oscar’s bar and met his family and had a dance party in the jungle. It was a great day.





Thank you to Cocaya and Oscar and everyone else we met in Kilimanjaro for blessing us with such wonderful experiences.

More on our Tanzanian safari tomorrow!


Tanzania – Rolina KwaSadala

Shelby here – it’s been a while since I’ve posted and I am excited to share my recent trip to Tanzania.  I’ll share various photos and stories over a series of blogposts this week.

Experiencing a new country is why we travel, but having an experience that changes who you are as a person is extraordinary – and that is how Zach and I felt after returning from Tanzania.






Zach’s fellow teacher and friend, Jeff, invited us to join him in Tanzania this summer (Jeff has visited every summer for the past few years).  We stayed at Rolina Orphanage in a town called KwaSadala at the area at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.  Octavian (in the photo with Zach below) grew up at Rolina; he was our constant companion and friend while we were there.  Everyone calls him “Zawadi,” which means gift in Swahili.




Rosmin and Paulina have taken in kids that are in need of family and a safe place to stay for 17 years. (Rosmin + Paulina is how their home became “Rolina”). They estimate they have had over 500 kids pass through their home over the years and when we were visiting there were about 30 kids ranging in age from 4 to 20 years old. The kids were the most incredible part of this trip. They have nowhere near as much as the typical kid in America but they are the happiest kids I have ever met. They are filled with joy. They sing all the time and they have beautiful voices. They loved playing jokes on Zach and Jeff and spent hours teaching me how to say words in Swahili.












Most of our days were spent playing with these beautiful kids.













Paulina, the matriarch at Rolina, is one of my new favorite people in the world. Even though we could barely communicate (my Swahili is not great!) we would spend time grabbing hands and laughing and smiling at certain points throughout the day. Paulina made these wonderful African donuts called Mondazi and she would appear with one and hand it to me and smile. The photo below is after she picked out African fabrics for me to wear.

One of my favorite days was when we took all the kids to a hot spring swimming hole called Chemka. It was so fun to see everyone – even the most shy little girls – splashing around in the water!






Every Sunday we went to church and the children sang and Rosmin and Paulina shared wonderful sermons.






Rosmin and Paulina and Octavian and all the wonderful people we met at Rolina are now like our Tanzanian family, and we can’t wait to go back and visit our family soon!



More on Tanzania tomorrow!



The last week of our trip we spent in Toscana.

We were exhausted by the time we got into Florence and still had a drive into the countryside to reach the argroturismo Podere Spedalone. The long process was worth it!


We rented this cute cream fiat and navigated through the windy hills of Tuscany late at night. We were welcomed with water, snacks, and a beautiful room.

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The next morning we ate a long leisurely breakfast overlooking the Tuscan hills. Agroturismos are all about the  experience of eating local farm foods and often staying on a local active farm. Podere Spedalone is a renovated Tuscan home with chickens, pigs,  and a bull. They make their own olive oil, honey and cure their own meats. If you are foodie, its heaven. If you are not, it’s still heaven. Marcos rolled pasta with the chefs and we brought back four different kinds of flour and olive oil to make our own pasta, with the Tuscan influence, back in Denver.

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Our days consisted of taking the fiat to local medieval villages, lounging by the pool, and eating 5 course family dinners that lasted over 3 hours many nights. People from all over the world book rooms at Spedalone  and over dinner we met people from Russia, Sweden, Germany, and China.

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The owners make you feel like you are at home. You can just chill and enjoy the good life.

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Spending a week relaxing in Tuscany was the perfect end to our Italy vacation.