Exploring the Highlands – Vert Beauty

Denver, Colorado – a mecca for healthy rehabilitation for many individuals, it’s hard NOT to run into a store providing all-natural alternatives for food, housewares, cleaning, and medicinal products. It’s strange to think that cosmetics wouldn’t be a common part of that list, seeing as our skin is our biggest organ. We’re so used to focusing on what we put into our bodies that what we put on our bodies is an afterthought. Luckily, Vert Beauty has moved into town to change all of that.

Opening its doors December 1, 2013, on 32nd Ave in the Highlands, Vert (pronounced “ver”) Beauty is the only location we have found that focuses on natural and organic beauty products in Denver, Colorado. Now, we don’t want to throw you off with the words “cosmetics” and “beauty products” because when we visited last Friday, we found products for any age and gender. Vert Beauty also supports multiple lines of product, making it easy for everyone to find something they like. Additionally, if there’s not a fragrance that tickles your fancy, create your own at their fragrance-bar located near the rear of the shop.

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Inside the Vert Beauty store – Steve takes a look at what they have to offer in their multiple lines of products. To check out the lines offered at Vert beauty, click on the picture to be taken to their website. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Dec 2013

The mission of Vert is to bring out your natural beauty utilizing natural products. Not only do they provide the goods, they also render services in application for special occasions, “just because”, or other consultation. Make sure to “Like” Vert Beauty on Facebook so you’re in the know on any special offers and discounts.

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Beautiful shop, friendly and helpful staff – Vert Beauty. Click on the picture to visit their Facebook page. Make sure you show your support and “Like” ’em!

If you’re looking for more information regarding natural and organic beauty products, here are a few of the sites we found helpful:

The Importance of Natural Products in the Age of Modern Cosmetics

A blog post from August 2013, this entry from the blog “Body Mind Beauty Health” provides some great insight regarding natural and organic products.

At-Home Spa Treatments: Relax Without Having To Pay The Bill

This article provides a list of natural ingredients you can pick up at the grocery store, and their multi-uses.

Ten Best Natural Beauty Products (per Totalbeauty.com, 2012)

Total Beauty provides unbiased reviews of 10 of their favorite natural products of 2012, some of which you can find locally at Vert Beauty.

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Hilarious in a Bad Way – The Book of Mormon

Another fantastic product of Colorado – The Book of Mormon, created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker – the guys who brought you South Park. I kicked myself for not seeing the most recent show here in Denver, but will definitely be ready when the tour returns in 2015! Check out this fantastic review from Bucket List Publications. Make sure you stop by their blog and show ’em some love.

Exploring the Highlands – The Matador

The Highlands of Denver is a place we haven’t ventured to very much as of yet; but last Friday, we changed that! Denverspeax decided it was time to go on our first, dedicated Highlands adventure. This is where we found a quaint, down-to-Earth part of town chocked full of thriving, small businesses. Our first stop was for lunch at The Matador, located at 32nd Ave in the Highlands.

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Warm and Inviting, the Matador in the Highlands. Fisheye lens. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Dec 2013

The Matador was one of the places we visited, and, boy, we’re glad we did! Like we were regulars, the bartender greeted us immediately as we walked in. Sitting at the bar, he helped us with drinks, suggested chips and salsa for a starter, and grabbed menus for us to peruse as soon as we sat down.

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Homemade chips and salsa at Matador. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Dec 2013

In addition to the appetizer, Steven and I purchased a Carnitas Taco Plate to split; the meal included two tacos on flour tortillas with shredded pork, shredded romaine, garlic sour cream, and Guajillo chili sauce along with large portions of black beans, rice, and spicy pico de gallo for added spice and flavor. We were told that their tortillas are one of the only products that are not made in house, from scratch.

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Carnitas taco plate from the Matador – check out other mouth-watering, Tex-Mex cuisine by clicking on the picture above to be taken to their menu! Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Dec 2013.

True to the Tex-Mex style of cuisine, both American and Mexican influence is present within their Carnitas. The burst of garlic in the sour cream compliments the sweet and tangy shredded pork; the chili sauce grouped with the pico adds that Mexican kick, welcoming a cold, limed and salted Pacifico on draft. Steve and I split the above plate, and were completely stuffed. We cleared the entire thing, and honestly, could have stopped there…but we found ceviche listed in the appetizers section of the menu. Please note, if ceviche is on the menu, we will order it. We gravitate to ceviche, and have to try any and everyone’s!

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Delicious ceviche by Matador. Click on the picture to be brought to their menu! Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Dec 2013

The ingredients are so incredibly fresh, and grouped with the saltiness of the homemade chips makes for a fantastic pairing. We finished every tart, chunky bite while draining another bowl of chips.

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Check out the tequila bar – there are so many different premium bottles! Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Dec 2013.

Aside from great food, Matador offers a large variety of tequilas. Many of which are on display behind the bar, reflecting light from the sunshine outside. Sounds like a place for tequila connoisseurs, carrying over 120 superior tequilas.

Be sure to stop by and check the Matador. Whether you’re looking for a snack, a full meal, a tequila sampler, or just grabbing a beer in the neighborhood, The Matador will satisfy your craving. Check them out on Facebook to learn more.

Denverspeax Band Photo

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If Denverspeax had a band, this would be our representative band photo – eat your heart out.

Tonight, we hopped “the 15” bus, and wandered on down to Sancho’s on Colfax; it’s a “thinking place”.

Actually, it’s a really relaxed, chill bar to meet and reunite with good friends, new and old. The Grateful Dead is blaring, and I can’t help but live up to the mantra, “a thinking place”.

Thinking about the website, denverspeax, and the great ways to go in 2014 and beyond…
Thinking about the travels that 2014 will provide…
Thinking about the small businesses in Denver that are putting their livelihoods on the line, and hoping we can help them out through the website…
Thinking about how we reciprocate in giving back to the Denver community through volunteerism…

So many things to think about and tackle for 2014. We are so glad you’ll all be there to witness and support. Without you all, there wouldn’t be any thinking going on at Sancho’s tonight.

Tuba Christmas 2013

After brunch at Osteria Marco yesterday, hundreds gathered in Skyline Park downtown to watch tuba players from across the country to play Christmas carols. Ranging in age from 6 to 90 years old, and with a variety of tubas, the group played for an hour. Not only was there beautiful music, singing broke out through the crowd as well. We can’t wait for next year! What a great way to join the community in getting ready for Christmas.

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Steven and Kirsten at Tuba Christmas, 2013. Credit: Scott, Dec 2013

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Hundreds gathered in Skyline Park in downtown Denver. Credit: Steve Mercer, Dec 2013

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Osteria Marco – An Italian Staple within the LoDo Community

Not sure if it’s the cozy ambience accompanied with the hardwood floors, or the simply-dressed tables sporadically placed within wine-bottled lined walls, but Osteria Marco was the perfect place to check out before seeing Tuba Christmas today; the restaurant provided the perfect setting to get us all into the spirit.

Friends had made reservations a week prior for brunch at Osteria Marco, a quaint, Italian-inspired restaurant situated on 15th and Larimer in downtown Denver. We parked near Larimer & 17th, taking a brisk, sunny walk down to the restaurant.

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Dining at Osteria Marco before Tuba Christmas. Click on the pic to be brought to their website. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Dec 2013.

We were greeted by friendly, knowledgable staff as we settled in and removed our layered clothing. Our server patiently waited to take our drink orders, suggesting a few of their specialty cocktails. Each drink has its touch of Italian flair, which made it difficult to choose!

The good old classic Bloody Mary decided on was impressive; spicy, hearty, and seemingly not easily recreated. It is evident that even the most basic of cocktail classics,  Osteria Marco goes above and beyond to deliver for their customers.

They cure many meats in house, as well as make a variety of cheeses. After hearing this, of course we had to order the Chefs’ Assortment of both.

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House-made cheeses and cured meats at Osteria Marco. Click the pic to check out their menu online. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Dec 2013

The menu has a variety of Italian-inspired appetizers, small plates, pizzas, paninis, and beyond. It took the table a while to read through all of the delicious-sounding options. Steven and I opted for their paninis, even though Osteria Marco is well known for their pizzas. With so many reviews raving about their pizzas, we will definitely have to visit again to try them out. Or, take advantage of their take out option!

Pictured below is the Italian Dip, a tasty twist on a classic favorite; the juicy beef is paired with sautéed-style onions and peppers, smothered in melted provolone, all atop of a crispy bread. The au jus was light and served perfectly tempered alongside a heaping pile of slightly salted and dressed arugula salad. The portion size was perfect; actually, the panini was so hearty that I was unable to finish it all! Luckily, my friends were able to help finish it off – I would’ve felt terrible if such a fantastic experience was left on the table. No panini left behind!

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The Italian Dip, a hearty and simple twist on an old favorite. Click on the pic to check out their full menu. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Dec 2013

Osteria Marco puts on the Italian charm without being forceful; while the wine list boasts nearly one-hundred solely Italian wines, the prices steer clear of pretentious, producing a more casual, fine-dining experience. Definitely aimed at the social eater, the menu is one that you can play Russian Roulette with – close your eyes and point; whatever you land on will be delightfully satisfying. Definitely a restaurant we will be visiting again, as we’re excited to continue to check out the items that make Osteria Marco a staple in the LoDo community.

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Colorado Gifts to Send Afar

We’ve done our research by being put through the Colorado Gift Basket wringer, and are here to save you from having to do the same. Here are our two favorite companies we’ve come across that pride themselves on creating beautiful and thoughtful gifts, utilizing Colorado chefs, artists, and companies. 

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Completely Colorado, LLC – Click on the link to be taken directly to their website to check out their great products! Credit: Completely Colorado LLC (Facebook), Dec 2013

Completely Colorado brings local vendors together in an online venue setting. Not only can you purchase single items, but they also combine different products of different local businesses to create outstanding gift baskets at more than reasonable prices.

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Pictured: The Taste of Colorado Gift Basket by Completely Colorado. Click on the image above to be taken to their collection of Taste of Colorado gift baskets. Credit: Completely Colorado LLC website, Dec 2013

The website is very user friendly, and has a variety of products from food, to jewelry, to yoga mats! We purchased two of the Taste of Colorado Gift Baskets to send back home to Michigan, and can’t wait to hear the feedback!

 

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Look at the beautiful boxes on Colorado Crafted by clicking on their logo above! Credit: Colorado Crafted Official Website, Dec 2013

 

 

 

Colorado Crafted presents carefully and creatively crafted boxes containing local artisan specialities. They scoured Colorado for delicacies so you don’t have to, grouping these delicious morsels into a variety of gift boxes for purchase. Quantities of items are limited due to the small supply created by each local artisan, creating even more of a crave for these extravagant boxed gifts. I know someone who will be impressing their boss this New Years!

 

 

 

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The Bijou Creek Box, available on the Colorado Crafted website. Click the picture to be taken to their complete collection. Credit: Colorado Crafted website, Dec 2013

 

There you have it – two exceptional websites offering amazing products that can be shipped to family and friends (or bosses) afar. They don’t have gifts solely for the purpose of Christmas – think of them for a friend’s birthday, or an anniversary….. or for yourself because you’re so awesome. Stop by and check them out!

Completely Colorado on Facebook
Colorado Crafted on Facebook

Smokin Yard’s BBQ – High Fives All Around

Our friend Thomas started talking about Smokin Yard’s at approximately 7 am Saturday morning, and didn’t stop until we visited the place on the way home from Keystone. He continuously described what sounded like the best BBQ in Colorado, not leaving out a single, juicy detail. Because of my family ties and our time spent in the South, he needed to know what we (Steven and I) thought about it.

After a fun day skiboarding (some of us ski and some of us board – “skiboard”, pronounced “skuh-board”, originated in the Michigander from some silly friends, and just stuck), we drove through Idaho Springs to find Smokin Yard’s BBQ.

[Thomas]: Yeah, yeah… just keep driving through town until you feel like you’ve gone too far… Then, when you feel like you must’ve missed it, it’ll be on the left hand side of the street.

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Steve (left) and Thomas (right) showing the Smokin Yard’s pig some lovin’. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Dec 2013

He was right – there it was!

Located at 2736 Colorado Blvd, Idaho Springs, Colorado 80452, Smokin Yard’s is right off of i70 – perfectly situated on the way home from a day out on the mountain. As soon as you walk in, you notice the friendly environment and the low-key, easy-going staff. The inside wasn’t crowded, but you could immediately tell that they have their base of loyal, repeat customers. The menu is posted on the wall right when you enter, consisting of faves like different cuts of brisket, styles of pulled pork, and other smoked meats.

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Catfish Po’ Boy at Smokin Yard’s in Idaho Springs – click on the link to check out the full menu! Credit: Steve Mercer, Dec 2013

Right away, Steven noticed they had a Catfish Po Boy, and had to try it out. Thomas ordered up the pulled chicken on bun while I opted for pulled pork without a bun (in order to have enough room for the important part!).

Also featured on the Smokin Yard’s menu is a list of comfort sides, like french fries, cole slaw, baked beans, and mashed potatoes with gravy. We each picked a different side to go along with our respective meals, and a beer to wash it all down.

Our friend definitely wasn’t lying; the smell of the food made my mouth water, and the taste brought back memories of my home down south. There was nothing fancy about any of the meals served- just genuine, authentic Southern BBQ, cooked with the customer’s happiness in mind. When our server (and other staff) came by and asked how it was, we provided a round of high-fives to show our appreciation and admiration for the incredible job well done. We may or may not have gotten a little creepy with our gushing compliments.

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Pulled pork, mashed potatoes, and Smokin Yard’s three original sauces. Check out their menu by clicking on the picture. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Dec 2013

Three sauces are placed on each table: a sweet, a bold, and a spicy, all of which created by the geniuses at Smokin Yard’s. I doused all of my tender, pulled pork I had ordered in the bold sauce and enjoyed every minute of it. I would have totally licked the paper tray it came in, but wanted to keep some sort of composure in the restaurant.

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Pulled chicken and fries, pre-doused in sauce. Click on the picture to check out Smokin Yard’s website. Credit: Steve Mercer, Dec 2013

To be honest, we had a brief conversation regarding not posting about Smokin Yard’s strictly because it is so awesome. Of course, the conversation, like I said, was brief; the whole point of DenverSpeax is to get the word out about these fantastic places and celebrate the great job they do.

Smokin Yard’s is a place we will drive for. Check out the reviews on their website as well as their Facebook page if you don’t believe us – not only do they understand how to do BBQ right, they understand how to treat their customers by showing they truly care. Stop in next time you’re on the way home from shredding the mountain, or hop in the car and take a quick road trip to Idaho Springs. You won’t be sorry!

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Sushi Bay 17 – Creating raving fans, one Denverite at a time.

Over the past few months, an overwhelmingly amount of Denver friends have asked, “Have you been to the new sushi place on 17th?” and “Hey, have you been to Sushi Bay 17?”.

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Five girls, one giant wheel of fortune, er sushi.  Thanks, Shawna, for letting me borrow this awesome picture! Credit: Shawna Jones, Dec 2013

All questions were accompanied by positive feedback, “Dude, you HAVE to go…” With this many people talking about it, in such a positive light, we had to go check it out! A band of 5 awesome women gathered at Sushi Bay 17 last Thursday for their group-formed, monthly Ladies Night to see what all the talk was about.

Sushi Bay 17 is located at 1728 E 17Ave
Denver, CO 80218 within the City Park neighborhood. They have a parking lot as well as plenty of on-street parking. Weather permitting, we always suggest riding a bike, especially through this great neighborhood.

Together, we ordered edamame for an appetizer, 9 sushi rolls, a few miso soups and one ginger salad. All of the food was very fresh, and beautifully presented. The ginger salad is a heaping portion, which was surprising at $3; even better, the ginger dressing is incredible! The amount of tangy and spice was just right, which has been hard to find in the past. The edamame were warm with the perfect amount of sea-salt – they also offer edamame with different seasonings on them, which we will have to check out next time! Take a look at the full menu from Sushi Bay 17.

Out of all of the rolls we ordered, house specials and old classics included, the Spiderman definitely received the most raving fans. Each roll was presented beautifully, with fresh ingredients that all worked well together; after this experience, I feel Sushi Bay 17 is one of those restaurants that you can close your eyes and choose sushi at random, never getting a bad roll.

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Sushi bar at Sushi Bay 17. Check out their Facebook (and LIKE ‘EM!) by clicking on the photo. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Dec 2013

Although Sushi Bay 17 is moderately priced, they run so many great specials! Daily Happy Hour specials on sushi, appetizers, and drinks occur from 3 – 6 pm, and AGAIN at 9pm – close. While we were visiting for Ladies Night dinner, the Broncos game was on, which meant $2 short, draft beers. On Sundays, order the all-you-can-eat sushi option for $27.95 per person. For our friend Annelise, this means unlimited Spiderman rolls on Sunday for about $30 bucks – how can you beat that?

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No sushi piece left behind- that’s our motto. Check out Sushi Bay 17’s website for more info. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Dec 2013

Our bill averaged $20 per person, plus tip, and we were all fat and happy. Not one piece was left behind. Sushi  Bay 17 also has a wide variety of amazing-sounding desserts, but unfortunately all of us were too full to try them. Desserts are definitely on the list for next time! The price is inexpensive comparing the value of service, atmosphere, and attention to detail with the products that Sushi Bay 17 provides. We can’t wait to bring more people there and create additional raving fans!

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