10 Colorado-Sourced Gift Ideas For 2017

Each year we pick ten small businesses to recommend for possible Christmas gift ideas.  It is a privilege to highlight and bring attention to the artists and small businesses based in our state and community. Plus, it is such a fun article to put together!

As more and more people move toward looking for locally-made items, or services owned by those in our local community, the possibilities and choices expand each year. The hunt for Colorado-made gifts always turns up the unusual and unique.

Below are 10 independently-owned small and micro businesses in Colorado representing a variety of interests and industries. Step out and explore something new this year!

Take a look back at what we recommended in 2016, here.

1.  LEATHER AND PINE CO.

leather and pine wall hanging

Leather and Pine was created by Bethany Kicz of Denver. Her household decor items draw inspiration from modern art, photography, design, fashion, and her travels. Most notably, her designs follow a definite minimalistic element. Her simple, yet boho-inspired items range from wall hangings to the popular triangle hanging shelf, and even leather luggage tags. You can find Bethany’s Leather and Pine Co. on Facebook or her etsy shop.

2.  JAY DAVIS BAGS

JAY DAVIS BAGS

 

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I admit I have a weakness for leather bags. I discovered these stone and leather purses on Instagram and immediately fell in love. Her first leather bag was created in an 8th-grade history class after a unit on medicine bags. (It’s amazing where we get our inspiration for life!) All of Jay’s bags are handmade in Denver, Colorado with locally-sourced materials.

Order yours here (psst…check out the Wyatt & Jay series!) 

3.  JANE E ROBERTI (Men’s and Women’s mixed metal accessories)

Jane’s designs are a bit unexpected and lean towards a dark nature. I found myself drawn to how she repurposed vintage pieces, especially the flasks. Jane states, “As a Nature Girl and Literary Geek, I like to say I am inspired equally by both the beautiful and the terrifying things in nature and literature.” I can definitely see her personality in the creations. Well done, Jane! If you are looking for the interesting, and especially something for men, you’ll enjoy this shop.

4.  MAKE MY NOTEBOOK

I love that there is a large surge in people of all ages embracing their creative side. Whether it is lettering, drawing, writing, watercolor…or you just have a knack for organizing your day in a beautiful way, notebooks are everywhere. and for everyone. I’m always on the hunt for a great notebook (literally. I have dozens of notebooks that are full!) When I stumbled on Make My Notebook I’m pretty sure I just condemned myself to spend lots of money! To be able to personalize your notebook sounds like heaven for a writer, artist, or just someone who loves to organize!

Based and manufactured in the Denver area, it is a 100% US sourced product.

5.  GREENLEAF AND BLUEBERRY

Now that you know where to get that perfect notebook for you or anyone else, you can create an entire gift set for your artist family and friends!

Greenleaf and Blueberry is a husband and wife company that handmakes materials and supplies for the traveling artist. I was so impressed with their work. (Check out their hand-carved paint brushes!!) Their best selling items seem to be the travel tins of watercolor palettes.

One important note: Their products sell out quickly. They open their online shop on a regular basis and then all items are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. So get on their email list and keep track on when new supplies are being offered for sale!

6.  THE QUEEN’S TEAPOTHECARY

Coffee isn’t the only hot drink that is a hot item for gift giving! Tea is making a big resurgence (most likely thanks to our friends across the pond). What a joy to find someone who grows her own herbs in Colorado for artisan-crafted tea!

Her flowers and herbs are organically homegrown in Colorado Springs, hand-picked and oven-dried at the peak of flavor and freshness. They create their blends in small batches to preserve freshness.

They also offer bath items and other tea accessories. Click here to browse their site.

7.  DESERT MOUNTAIN STITCHING

Last year I featured another leather shoe/slipper maker from Buena Vista. There’s something about handmade leather shoes, bags, and accessories. In this case, Caity and Marcus have a unique heritage suitable for hand-stitching their adorable booties, mocassins, and backpacks with local Yak leather. (Marcus was taught to make moccasins by a native man when he was a child.) Tough, adorable, and perfect for that person who loves nature and being in the outdoors.

8.  COLE AND DAINER, MODERN STITCHES

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Winter and flannel love! Super cozy and gorgeous throws for toddlers to adults, as well as, crib sheets, burp cloths, and hair bows! Flannel and faux fur in colorful designs. While cute for kids, what adult doesn’t love a blanket to snuggle in too?! (You can never have too many!)

Shop here for adults and kids!

9.  POLISHED AT HOME

polished at home colorado springs

  1. Polished At Home is the only non-product suggestion on my list, but it is definitely something I want in my stocking this year (hint, hint)! Many ladies would love to have manicures more often than they do, but are usually so busy that when they get home, that the thought of getting childcare or jumping in the car to get a manicure just isn’t always a priority. As a result, Amber Turner founded a mobile beauty service, making beauty convenient and easy for everyone. Polished At Home serves northern Colorado Springs and Monument. (I think it’s a great idea!) Find out more about her beauty service and their safety and quality assurances here.

    10.  VAPOR DISTILLERY HANDCRAFTED SPIRITS

And certainly not to forget host/hostess gift ideas, the largest and most well-known of the companies featured on my list this year is Vapor Distillery. Craft distilling at its finest. They’ve won many awards and have several popular products that make great gifts, including their Rhok 114 Gin, and Pumpkin King. Based in Boulder, however, you can order your bottles online and have them in time for all your holiday parties.

We hope you enjoyed this year’s list and take the time to familiarize yourself with these wonderful Colorado small businesses. Let’s support our neighbors and community!

 

Resources for Teens with Special Needs

When families relocate to a new area, it can be stressful learning where everything is, making new friends, and finding all the resources needed for the family. In the case of raising children with social challenges, learning disabilities, or other special needs, finding beneficial resources for them are particularly important, especially for kids entering their teen and young adult years as their interests are growing beyond the walls of their family home. Parents can find themselves scrambling to locate resources for teens suitable for their child’s unique circumstances.

Teens With Out-Of-The-Box Needs

Whether children have autism, ADHD, Asperger’s, Down Syndrome, or even a physical disability, our once little kids, who had everything they needed at home, are starting to want to stretch their wings in their own way. Our kids have the same desires as anyone else, they just see the world differently than the majority.

Sometimes they need a specific type of environment suited to their parameters, or other times, interacting with peers who do not have social, intellectual, or physical barriers is appropriate and healthy.

I’m the parent of a child with Asperger’s and I understand how a high-functioning child can sometimes adapt to certain situations, but at the same time, needs options that fit within his unique interests and idiosyncrasies.

Still, other teens need greater support.

No matter the depth of the need or barrier, most of these kids do not see themselves as a person with “special needs”. They all have the perception that they are the same as everyone else – regular kids looking for opportunities to explore their gifts, talents, and interests. And they are right!

Finding Resources for Teens

As a result, finding programs or resources for teens that are engaging, social, and even helpful in their road to independence can be frustrating. Maybe you or someone you know has a teen or young adult with special needs but are not sure where to look for suitable options.

Listed below are several ideas and contacts to at least get you started finding the right fit for your teen. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but no matter where you start, each one can be a stepping stone to discovering a good solution for your family.

Homeschoolers

Many families with special needs children choose to homeschool. As a result, I’ve included a local resource if that is your situation. Colorado Springs has a very large, active homeschool community. The school districts are very homeschool-friendly as well. It makes for a win-win situation if you are thinking of moving here and wondering what there is for you as a homeschooler.

HIGH COUNTRY EDUCATORS: A benefit of the homeschool program is that the families are friendly and adaptive for children and teens with special needs. A good place to start is to get in contact with High Country Educators. They are the largest co-op of homeschool families – meaning their resources and connections are vast. They offer a support group and have classes on just about any subject or hobby you can think of.

While not specifically designed for special-needs individuals, this may be a non-threatening, smaller environment to explore an interest or take a class.

PIKES PEAK LIBRARY DISTRICT

As a parent, this became one of my favorite resources for my son. Again, there was not anything specifically for a special needs child, but they have a variety of classes or activities for teens that may be of interest. For example, they have a writing club that meets every couple of weeks. It’s a small group and the kids get to exercise their imaginations without fear of criticism or grades. It is writing for fun and enjoyment in a non-threatening environment (they even have pizza days!). The library also had computer classes, coding groups, a 3-D printer…so many options!

Hands down, my favorite resource is the Pikes Peak Library District. Obviously, this is more for high-functioning teens, but it’s worth taking a look. You never know. You might find a perfect fit for your child.

Sports-Related Activities

If your special-needs teen enjoys being active, then check out our local Special Olympics teams! They are amazing. Tennis, snowboarding, skiing, and more. All types of kids from physical limitations to social, mental, or emotional barriers. No matter their ability or expertise, it is a fun, encouraging atmosphere for teens and parents alike.

Work Training & Development

There are two organizations I learned about recently: Goodwill Possibilities and the School To Work Alliance Program (aka SWAP). I am so grateful they are available to us and our kids here in Colorado Springs!

GOODWILL POSSIBILITIES: One of the only programs of its kind in the nation. Discover Goodwill of Southern Colorado offers a multitude of resources for job placement, life-enhancing skills, and day activities. They focus more on individuals ready to be on their own, or need a place to go during the day. A town square built within their facility gives participants the opportunity to “practice” life skills and build their confidence. There are so many options available. You must check it out and even schedule a tour!

SCHOOL-TO-WORK ALLIANCE: A national program through the Department of Labor, the School-To-Work Alliance (otherwise known as SWAP),  operates through the school districts, specifically, for teens that may have barriers to employment. If your teen or young adult has a mild to moderate disability, SWAP is dedicated to coming alongside your child to discover and develop their passions, and even partner with local businesses. This gives them experience, confidence, skill sets, and opportunities many of us would never have. They understand the unique needs of each individual child. It’s an amazing program that I highly recommend for your young teen!

Other Resources

Depending on the level of need in your family, MOSAIC and The Resource Exchange (TRE) may be a great option for your child as well. Both programs offer a variety of care, support, and services.

TRE offers the widest options from Family Respite resources to child activities, autism resources, financial assistance and more.

Specifically, for those persons with Autism, the Alpine Autism Center provides training, rehabilitation, and day programs.

I hope this information has been helpful and I wish you all the best for your family!

 

Modern Architectural Styles In Colorado Homes

modern architectural styles colorado homes

Most of us are well aware of the housing boom that Colorado Springs is experiencing right now. Large master-planned communities and neighborhoods are springing up so fast, that if you avoid a certain area for more than a month, you may not recognize it the next time you drive by!

However, what is most exciting, not only in the new construction but also as part of the urban renewal projects, are the “new” modern and contemporary architectural styles being birthed out of a thriving economy and the passionate, creative influences of a new generation.

Continue reading “Modern Architectural Styles In Colorado Homes”

20 Autumn Activities Near Colorado Springs

AUTUMN ACTIVITIES

Every year, around August 15, I can sense a slight shift in the air. While the temperatures may say that it is still Summer, there is something subtly different in the air that lets me know Autumn is quickly approaching.

On one hand, I’m a bit sad that the sizzle and excitement of Summer are beginning to fade. On the other hand, fall festivals and Autumn activities will start filling up my calendar. It’s the busiest season of the year for shopping, outdoor adventures, harvest celebrations, and social gatherings prior to our retreat indoors for the holidays and the winter chill. Continue reading “20 Autumn Activities Near Colorado Springs”