this week’s guest post is from jenny stockton. she reads, she bakes, she travels, she does lots of good for this world. she certainly seems quite wonderful! (we’ve never met but denver just keeps getting smaller and smaller: we do have some mutual friends.) go check her out. i especially love her discuss posts — thoughtful links to stuff worth knowing about.

if you ask me where i want go out to eat, chances are pretty good i’ll be suggesting any place that serves a big ass margarita and endless bowls of chips and salsas. that will be my request for my last meal. so when jenny came to me w an idea for a guest post that involved letting us all in on the secret of her favorite mexican restaurant, well, i couldn’t wait to see just how big those margaritas are.

A Denver Home Companion | la loma

I first ate at La Loma almost ten years ago, when some West Denver natives took me for dinner. I was volunteering with a youth organization, tutoring and mentoring teens, and the folks I was working with were intent on teaching me about all the best food the Westside had to offer.

One of my favorite things about La Loma is that it’s been around for so long, serving excellent authentic Mexican food. I’d even go so far as to say it’s the best Mexican food in Denver. 

When my husband and I went for dinner recently, we had the honor of sharing the experience with my baby brother for the first time. By the end of the meal, the two were cracking each other (and themselves) up with jokes about how La Loma “is no Casa Bonita but…”

There are three main reasons to eat at La Loma: green chile, tortillas, and tequila.

If you are a tequila connoisseur (I am not), La Loma has something to offer you. If you are a margarita enjoyer (I am), you should probably get a medium and make your underage baby brother drive you home (I did). I like margaritas on the rocks with salt, and La Loma uses only “tequila reposado 100% de agave”, which means it’s aged no less than two months but no more than a year and is made with no glucose or fructose sugars. The margarita de la casa is the perfect balance of flavors – tart and citrusy without being too sweet or sugary.

A Denver Home Companion | la loma

The flour tortillas are made from scratch, which is really probably all you need to know.

Luckily, the green chile comes as a side option with a number of the dishes. I have been known to order a bowl of it with tortillas for my dinner. Either way, you really shouldn’t ever leave without having at least a spoonful (or dipping one of your tortillas in the bowl your brother got as a side with his chimichangas).

If you have room for dessert, the sopapillas are some of the best. They’re light and crispy, but soft and fluffy enough to fill with pockets of honey.

So the next time you find yourself in Denver craving good, authentic Mexican food, go to La Loma. You won’t be disappointed.

A Denver Home Companion | la loma


thanks, jenny! i’ll be trying to talk jp into margaritas and burritos for lunch today!

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this week’s contributor is hannah from heart to heart. hannah is a fellow denver blogger and we met via another mutual friend who also is a denver blogger (man i love all these connections!). hannah’s blog is beautifully and genuinely written: a mixture of recaps of what her and her hubby have been up to (happy one year anniversary!), thoughtful musings on larger issues in life (faith, love, community), anecdotes, and personal goals. there’s a little bit of everything and she’s not afraid to speak honestly and i love it. today she gives some insider’s info on what has helped make south broadway, in the baker neighborhood of denver, her home. enjoy!

A Denver Home Companion | heart to heart

I walk out the door and down the street. As I walk, I pass a hipster strolling along with his dog and a girl pedaling down the road on her cruiser. A few homeless men are hanging out outside Badger’s Pub while the aroma of Famous Pizza lingers in the street air. The shops that line the streets of Broadway boast vintage furniture, thrift store treasures, used bookstores, boutique shoes and accessories, and everything in between. If you walk through the neighborhood behind the busy thoroughfare, the eccentric trim colors on the historic homes definitely get your attention and line the skies with every shade of the rainbow.

For this and a million other reasons, I love my neighborhood. Baker and South Broadway, you have my heart.

With its hipster reputation, you may think it’s pretentious or assuming; however, what I’ve come to love about my neighborhood is that everyone has a place here. Whether you’re a hipster or Hispanic, gay or straight, young or old, rich or poor, you will be represented and hopefully celebrated somewhere along the streets of Broadway.

If you happen to find yourself in the neighborhood soon, there are just a couple things you must do…

A Denver Home Companion | heart to heart

Stop off for a coffee and homemade pop tart at Sugar Bake Shop, making sure to write a love note or poem on their type writer before you head out the door.

Next, if you’re the beer loving type, go to TRVE (the local heavy metal brewery) and try their prehistoric dog- a salty wheat beer that is both delicious and surprising.

The Mayan is a great place to catch a flick if you’re in the mood. Built in the 1930’s and boasting some beautiful, ornate architecture, this is the place to watch that indie film other theaters may not show.

A Denver Home Companion | heart to heart

In search of beautiful fabrics? Looking to be inspired? Want to try your hand at sewing lessons? Need some handmade threads? Well, then you must check out Fancy Tiger Crafts and Clothing. Everything about this place screams inspiration.

Broadway would not be Broadway without Sweet Action Ice Cream. You should start with a sample of their famous Stranahan’s whiskey brickle and if you’re feeling really adventurous, try one of their less traditional flavors: kettle corn, nerds, or white Russian (just to name a few).  The flavors are always changing so there will definitely be something new and awesome to try every time you go.

Next, there is Decade, the cutest boutique in all of Denver. Whether you’re looking for locally made jewelry, or vintage furniture, or the perfect gift for the woman or man who has everything, or unique home décor, or a new outfit for baby, this place has it all. Your bank account may take a blow after visiting, but I guarantee you will leave with a smile on your face and an arm full of treasures.

A Denver Home Companion | heart to heart

Now this is only part of all the wonderful things to do and see in my neighborhood, but really, most neighborhoods in most big cities have great coffee shops, and restaurants, and boutiques. All over Denver, there are wonderful neighborhoods that people love, so I guess what makes Broadway and Baker unique is the pride we feel to live here.

A neighborhood is made by the people who live in it, and the people who live in it are made by the neighborhood.

I have changed since living here. I see things differently. I see beauty in the alleys and the restaurants, in the diversity of the people who walk the streets, the graffiti and the artwork. All of it works together to create a place that I feel proud to call my home.

So even if you never visit (although I think you should) and even if you live on the other side of the country or the other side of the world, I hope wherever you are, whatever neighborhood you may find yourself in, that you feel at home, in love, and constantly overcome with goodness to celebrate.

A Denver Home Companion | heart to heart

Cheers, Hannah.

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thanks, hannah! i don’t get down to south broadway a lot, so this little walking tour is quite helpful and interesting. thanks, also, for including your thoughts on home. it was inspiring to read.

if you are interested in contributing to A Denver Home Companion, please submit original writing (or ideas!) to emily [at] adenverhomecompanion [dot] com. though i may not be able to publish everything, i certainly consider all of them.

this week’s contributor is bowen from Bowen Appétit. bowen and i went to high school together and i was thrilled when she reached out to me after she stumbled upon my blog (friend of a friend’s twitter or some such loveliness like that!). bowen caught me up on her going-ons since we last saw each other over ten years ago(!), explaining that she’s taught cooking classes in LA, worked professional sustainability jobs, and over the last year, has started publishing essays, articles, and recipes in various places. her writing is all about food, focusing on homestyle, sustainable cooking, and how important all of that is. currently, her and her hubby are at the end of a 13-month trip around the world on some pretty amazing adventures (you can read their travel blog: a world of gemütlichkeit). in a month or two, they’ll be making their new home in madison, WI. today she writes about how cooking their own food was given them a way to make a home no matter where they are. enjoy!

A Denver Home Companion | bowen appetit

Ten months ago, my husband and I took a giant leap of faith – we quit our jobs, sold or gave away most of our belongings and packed up the rest, and embarked on 13 months of travel in the United States and around the world. We worked incredibly hard to be able to do this, saving up and discussing it for years before we finally made the decision, and last July we embarked on this incredible, terrifying, and life-altering journey.

So for most of the last year, we’ve lived out of suitcases, backpacks, boxes, and the trunk of our car. We’ve slept in a tent on an icefield in Canada, in a grass hut on the edge of the Amazon Jungle, and an open-air house in the middle of a rice paddy in Indonesia (we’ve also slept on a tile airport floor in Chile, in a bed with wet sheets in Bangkok, and more windowless hostel rooms and uncomfortable overnight buses than I care to remember). We’ve gone kayaking in Halong Bay in Vietnam, hiked up mountains in Peru to see the sun rise, and watched one of our best friends perform a solo at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Before we got to where we are right now (Vienna, Austria, where we’re staying for five weeks), we hadn’t slept in the same city for more than six nights consecutively, and even that’s happened only a handful of times.  We’ve seen and done and experienced an incredible array of things, and it’s hard to believe there’s only a few months left.

A Denver Home Companion | bowen appetit

But I do miss having a home. I miss having space to myself, and having a normal daily routine, and choosing from more than four shirts when I get dressed in the morning. Living out of suitcases and backpacks and boxes for over a year isn’t always easy. Arriving in a new city every few days can be isolating and exhausting, and staying in hostels and hotels and homestays and campsites and all the other sorts of places we’ve stayed can leave us feeling untethered and restless. Each day is different than the one before it, and while most have been absolutely amazing, there are definitely days I wish I were home (wherever that might be).  

A Denver Home Companion | bowen appetit

The one thing we’ve found that helps us feel more at home is to cook for ourselves. We cook whenever we can; whenever we have access to a kitchen and can use it without feeling like we’re missing out on important local culinary experiences. Sometimes the process of getting what we need to cook – figuring out what ingredients and tools are available to us – can be stressful, but it’s given us some of our best travel experiences since it usually means we’re interacting with people and going places tourists don’t normally go. We’ve cooked in hostel and hotel kitchens, at campsites, at friends’ houses, and wherever else we can (on our road trip across Canada last fall we definitely cooked on our camping stove out of the trunk of the car in motel parking lots, at least a few times). Most of the time the meals are far more simple than things we’d cook at home, but sitting down to a meal we’ve prepared for ourselves – even in the most disappointing of hostels, the most barren of campsites, and the most understocked little rental apartment kitchens – takes us away from the constant sensory overload of restaurants, cafes, and street stands and helps time slow down a bit. We’re finally able to focus on ourselves and on each other and to have the sort of normal, everyday mealtime conversations like we used to in our actual home. It makes us feel like we are home, even if we’re in a place for just one night.  I love cooking for my husband and he loves cooking for me, and in a life where we’re not always able to do things for each other the way we used to, preparing food together has become an important way for us to connect.

A Denver Home Companion | bowen appetit

A big reason we decided to take this year of travel was to figure out more about what sort of home we wanted. We hadn’t been particularly happy living where we were before, and we often talked about why that was so that we could pick somewhere better for the next time. We talked about having friends nearby, green places to go hiking, good grocery stores and farmers’ markets. We talked about not having to drive everywhere and about building a good community of folks around us for when we decide to have kids. We talked about bike paths and weather and cost of living and open-mindedness and all kinds of other things that would make living in a place enjoyable, meaningful, and easy. Then we went around the world to experience all kinds of different neighborhoods, communities, and landscapes and to see how we might spend our time when we didn’t have work and other daily life to deal with, and we’ve learned a lot about ourselves and what we want our life and our home to look like.

We’ve learned, for instance, that while that other stuff is definitely nice and we’ll certainly enjoy having it at our new home, what we love most is sitting at a table with each other and our loved ones, eating something we’ve prepared.  It’s the center of our home, wherever we are.

thank you so much, bowen! what an adventure you’ve been on and i wish you the best of luck as you venture into settling down and doing some homesteading. safe travels!

if you are interested in contributing to A Denver Home Companion, please submit original writing (or ideas!) to emily [at] adenverhomecompanion [dot] com. though i may not be able to publish everything, i certainly consider all of them.

this week’s contributor is erin from an appetite for color. erin is a former denverite who, it turns out, i’ve met a couple of times out and about before i knew about her blog. well, i’m a dedicated reader now. those stunning photos! her simple and thoughtful recipes. her family’s dedication to living the good life. sheesh. it’s all quite wonderful. in her guest post today, she generously provides us w a tasty and nutritious recipe for warm-weather cold treats that little ones will love. recipes such as these are becoming more and more important to me as i find ways to get ramona excited about eating and eating well. enjoy…

Blackberry bliss stains her fingers and lips, before staining this moment ours, forever.  I make a mental promise to never forget her sparkling eyes, impatient tummy, and smitten dimpled cheeks. These are the moments I was made for…A Denver Home Companion | an appetite for color

I come from a long line of sweet aficionados, and so my affinity for treats comes quite naturally. My father –a man with infectious passion, which does not stop with treats– left me no choice but to follow in his footsteps.  I have an inkling that our history has already left my daughter, Octave, with no choice as well. Some of my most fond childhood memories revolve around root beer floats and mint chip ice cream.  However, years later I find myself a whole-food enthusiast, bearing the responsibility and delighting in the honor of nourishing a little belly.  I believe food is so essential that I find myself planning my life around food rather than food around my life.

I want Octave to experience joy and enthusiasm for the colors and tastes that fill her belly just as I did as a child.  I believe her joy can be doubled when those colors and tastes come from real whole foods. Mindful treats are high on my list of importance and I have dedicated many adventurous experiments to creating just that. These blackberry creamsicles were dreamed up just in time for summer: creamy but dairy free, sweet yet free of processed sugar, and perfectly purple, just like all happy things are. Enjoy these tasty (a little more nutritious,) treats with your little ones and savor their eager, sticky hands with happy, messy faces. Because even after all these years, the moments surrounding special treats are the ones I remember and cherish most.    

A Denver Home Companion | an appetite for colorA Denver Home Companion | an appetite for colorA Denver Home Companion | an appetite for colorA Denver Home Companion | an appetite for color

Blackberry Creamsicles (makes 6) 

what you need:

  • popsicles molds
  • 1 ½ cup fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1 cup of raw cashews
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (2-3 oranges)
  • 1/4 cup raw local honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp. chia seeds (these, along w the bee pollen below, can be found at your local natural foods store)
  • 2 tsp. bee pollen, divided for garnish & enjoyed as sprinkles:)

what to do:

  1. Soak cashews in a bowl of water, preferably overnight but an hour or two will do.   
  2. When you’re ready to start making your creamsicles, melt coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan.  Set it aside to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Drain the water from the cashews and place them in a food processor or high-powered blender.  Add orange juice, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla.  Blend for 5-8 minutes or until super smooth.  It may take a little longer than you would think, depending on the quality of your blender or processor, but just be patient. 
  4. Add blackberries and blend for another minute. 
  5. Pour in chia seeds, and, using a spatula, fold seeds into mixture.
  6. Sprinkle a few pieces of bee pollen in the bottom of each popsicle mold.
  7. Pour the mixture into the molds and place in the freezer for 4-6 hours or until completely frozen.
  8. Enjoy!

thank you so much, erin! i cannot wait to get my hands on some molds and make this for ramona. though, i’m thinking i will have to hide them from jp who’s been known to put down a stash of iced treats when it’s hot enough outside 😉 cheers!

if you are interested in contributing to A Denver Home Companion, please submit original writing (or ideas!) to emily [at] adenverhomecompanion [dot] com. though i may not be able to publish everything, i certainly consider all of them.

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this week’s contributor is from mama from the fearse family. she lives in melbourne and her and her family (big poppa and little fearse) have committed to buying nothing new for the year of 2013. her blog was new to me when she reached out and i’m so glad she did as i’ve been inspired reading about what challenges her and her family are working to overcome and what they’re getting out of being mindful about where their money goes for 365 days. in her post today, she talks about how they decided to buy nothing new and what it’s done for them.

A Denver Home Companion | fearse family

In 2013, my family of three–Big Poppa, Little Fearse (who’s just turned one) and myself, Mama–decided to attempt to buy nothing new for a year. Here is how it all began…

Sometimes the more significant moments in your life can slip by without you even realising. When we stumbled onto the idea of having one family day a week screen free, we had no idea that we were taking our first step along the pathway to a life-changing adventure.

In September in Melbourne the spring has just begun. It often starts off sunny and cool. The air is light and fresh with anticipation. The flowers haven’t started budding yet but there are clues if you look for them. Last September I didn’t notice any of these things. I had a new baby who I adored and doted on, but I had begun to notice that she was often competing for both of her parents’ attention. In the past twelve months Big Poppa and I had both purchased laptops. Now, instead of having a room in which we had to actively retreat to in order to spend time on our PCs, we had incorporated our laptops into our living space and therefore into our daily lives.

Big Poppa and I were both becoming annoyed with Little Fearse for banging on our keyboards as we tried to type or for pulling our screens back until they made ominous cracking sounds. We soon realised that she was begging for attention. Our addictions to social media were interfering with the time we had set aside to spend with our baby. It wasn’t so much the amount of time we spent on the laptops, it was the regularity with which we checked in with our social media pages.

Ironically, it was on my social media feed that the idea of having a day off from all screens popped up. A page dedicated to Switch Off Sunday appeared. Curious, I clicked on it. The idea of having a day a week with no TV, games, or computers was appealing and seemed perfect for our cause. I discussed the idea with BP, who tentatively said yes. Initially not allowing vegging in front of TV or the Playstation on his days off was a little off-putting. But he agreed to give it a go.

Those Sundays were filled with adventures together! People who heard what we were doing started coming to visit on those Sundays. We saw people we hadn’t seen in months. We visited local parks and started to notice the flowers budding and the air turn warmer. We discovered new places to visit in our community that Little Fearse enjoyed, too.

It wasn’t all wonderful. It made it difficult to do my weekly cook-up without access to recipes online. Some friends or family members thought what we were doing was silly and would wait until I was out of the room to convince BP to turn on the TV, or have him check something on the computer. It was sometimes frustrating, but we knew that as a family we were largely benefitting.

Through the Switched Off Sunday Internet resources I found reference to the idea of buying nothing new  (BNN) for a year. Since BP had signed up to study full time for 2013 and I was only planning on working half time it seemed like a good economic decision. Both of us felt positive about the idea of being more conscious of our impact on the environment. We weren’t 100% convinced we could achieve it, but in the end, we decided it couldn’t hurt to try.

Neither of us had any idea the world we were opening up by beginning our BNN year. We quickly discovered a world of simple living blogs and online communities of people embarking on challenges to reduce their consumption. In the beginning we didn’t even realise that the choice we had made was an act of simplifying. Neither of us had much knowledge of the philosophies behind minimalism and we really just wanted to find a unique way of getting through a year with less money. The act of buying nothing new grew into the idea of buying nothing at all, if possible.

It turns out our year has been, so far, about living with a lot less in general. Yes, we have less money. We also have fewer things, as we’re not only trying to reduce the amount of stuff we bring into the house, but also increase the amount that goes out. We are simplifying our environment, giving ourselves more space to meditate on the blessings in our lives. Our house is growing less cluttered as we realise how little we actually need to have a good life and a happy life.

Simplifying this year has given us the space to really assess what is important. The realisation that we all value the time we spend together over anything else has made it easier to say “no” to obligations that get in the way of that, and of course, say “YES!” to all the multitude of opportunities that come our way offering us more quality time together.

People want to talk to us now about what it means to have a simpler life. Often they tell us they admire our choice, but don’t feel they can do it. Anyone can do this. Having a simpler life is different for everyone. It depends where you start. Not everyone wants to stop buying new things. Maybe to you “simple” means going out less, or having a better play area in your back yard, or adopting an animal, or eating better food, or making a career change. The real first step in having a simpler life is looking at what makes your life complex now.

We’re still trying to deal with the challenge of how technology and social media can negatively affect our family life. Hopefully somewhere along the way in our simple journey those issues will become easier to deal with. Or perhaps we will need to throw ourselves another challenge that requires more commitment in that area. This is our journey.

There is this movement out there – one that we were oblivious to. People are thirsting for something simpler and healthier. We are proud to be a part of that movement. We no longer accumulate things, we accumulate memories.

All it took was being willing to say “yes” to something different, something truly challenging, and maybe a bit bizarre.

thanks, mama fearse, for sharing about this journey your family is going on. jp and i tried something like that and it stuck for, oh, about a month. so i’m encouraged to take it up again! you can follow the fearse family at their blog or on facebook.

if you are interested in contributing to A Denver Home Companion, please submit original writing (or ideas!) to emily [at] adenverhomecompanion [dot] com. though i may not be able to publish everything, i certainly consider all of them.