A Denver Home Companion | DIY vintage fabric doll

she just doesn’t know it yet. i made this doll out of vintage fabric for one of her presents this christmas. this girl does not need anything but i am ok if she has dolls and books coming out of her nose. that is a clutter i can live with.

this DIY vintage fabric doll can be made by sewers at all levels. so grab a bottle of wine, throw on some good christmas tunes…

shall we?

||what you need||

  • fabric (vintage damask was thrifted. fancy tiger is also a great option for denverites)
  • marker or fabric pen or chalk (i used a sharpie)
  • scissors
  • thread
  • needle
  • stuffing (i up-cycled stuffing from a lumpy old pillow)
  • sewing machine (definitely helps but isn’t necessary)

||what you do||

  • on the wrong side of your fabric, trace out the shape of your doll. you can certainly look for patterns online but i just did freehand. be wary of making arms or legs too long or too skinny unless you want to sew those in separately. short and stubby leads to the most success, especially if you’re a beginner.
  • cut out this shape. trace it on to the right side of what will be the back of the doll (which can be a different fabric or the same. mine is a mustard colored felt).
  • cut out that shape. make sure all the lines match up correctly!
  • making sure that the right sides of the fabric are facing each other, sew along the edge after backstitching on your machine (duh) or knotting your thread (google it. i can’t explain it.)
  • be sure to leave about an inch open to be able to do the next step and fill with stuffing
  • flip your doll right side out (this takes some patience. it’s helpful to have scissors or knitting needles or long, skinny fingers with raptor like nails)
  • stuff your doll full of stuffing. stuff it in there! make sure to use your scissors or knitting needles or raptor nails to stuff that stuffing into the smallest and furthest away corners!
  • once it’s full to the gills, sew up the tiny hole.
  • hug your new friend! and then pass it on to a little one who will love it for life!

also, did you notice how the design on my fabric lines up just so, well, anatomically? this was completely unintentional but i’m tickled with how it turned out: the doll has eyes, ears, cheeks, a nose, boobies, a belly button, and even a vibrant, flowering…vagina! i will wait a number of years before i point that one out to ramona.

A Denver Home Companion | base coat nail salon denver

base coat is a new nail salon opening up this sunday in the berkeley neighborhood of denver. tran wills, one of the creative minds behind brick & mortar, partnered up with her mother, who has years of experience beautifying nails, to open this sleek, modern, one-of-a-kind nail space. it is founded on the idea that your time spent there should be the most relaxing in your day. sounds pretty good to me!A Denver Home Companion | base coat nail salon denver

in addition to the minimalist space–which oozes calm–base coat only uses nail polishes that are five-free (free of the five most harmful chemicals commonly found in nail polishes). and all of their nail and skin care products used during your treatment have been formylated by local company r.l. linden & co. concoctions include a basil + geranium cuticle soak, lavender + frankincense cuticle oil, petitgrain + lemon enzyme sugar scrub, and a spearmint + bergamot deep moisture foot cream, among other goodies. so it’s pretty darn green for a nail salon and safe for children and expectant mamas like me!

A Denver Home Companion | base coat nail salon denver

tran invited in to experience the magic hands of her experienced nail techs. i was so in awe at the well-designed space and soaked in (literally and figuratively) the relaxing treatments i received. these ladies are good. there are three levels of services for every schedule and budget.

A Denver Home Companion | base coat nail salon denver

there’s an opening party, this saturday, september 14th, from 4-8. stop on by, meet tran and the rest of the gang, sip some champagne and make a future appointment (no services will be offered. this is just to celebrate the opening!). the first 25 to book an appointment will receive a goodie bag!

this week, for the small business series, let’s have a chat with koan of huckleberry roasters, a denver coffee roaster. i love coffee. i love denver. and huckleberry is doing it just right. they had me at one shot of their blue orchid, an exquisite espresso i first tasted two years ago. it remains my favorite espresso to date.

A Denver Home Companion | Huckleberry Roasters

1. what is huckleberry roasters?

Huckleberry Roasters is a two year old coffee roasting company from Denver, owned and operated by Koan Goedman and Mark Mann. We use our well-sourced, carefully roasted coffee as a vessel to encourage people to enjoy slowly (rather than hurry up) and to create community through discussion and interaction. We think sharing a cup of coffee can lead to meaningful shared experiences and want to offer that to as many people as possible.

2. how did you get into this? what was your inspiration?

Huckleberry’s formation is rooted in coffee. We worked at shops together, became close friends, and decided that starting Huckleberry Roasters was a great way to bridge the gap between our own entrepreneurial spirits, our love of coffee, and our desire to create community. Although Denver is still trying to figure itself out in a lot of ways, it’s filled with such immense talent! We’re surrounded by people seeking perfection in their fields (foodbicyclesbeerartphotography, etc.) that it’s not hard for us to seek perfection in our own.

3. what had the process been from conception to execution?

To borrow a phrase from a friend, “It’s a slow burn.” To be totally honest, getting our own brick and mortar location has taken a lot longer than we anticipated. The longer wait had its benefits too. It has allowed us to build strong wholesale relationships and we’ve had more time to improve our roasting. About seven months ago we found a space for our flagship location; a long-term home for both our roasting operations and a cafe. To our surprise, we were also offered a small cafe space within an innovative new development that was too good to pass up. It took a little longer than we would have liked, but it’s getting really exciting now!

A Denver Home Companion | Huckleberry Roasters

4. has creating/developing/launching/sustaining this been what you expected? easier or harder? what have the challenges been?

It’s a slow burn. Ha ha…it’s a versatile phrase, right? In terms of building and growing this business into something successful, maybe we were a little naive in the beginning. We’ve had our share of heavy and humbling moments, but we’re proud of what we’ve created and look forward to what’s to come. For me (Koan) it’s been a fascinating journey of managing expectations, building some self confidence, and finding the balance of when to sit back patiently and when to push beyond a comfort zone.

5. are you doing this solo or you have other partners/collaborators/helpers in the brand?

While the day-to-day operations of Huckleberry are handled by Mark and Koan, much of our growth has come from the support, constant encouragement ,and constructive criticism of the Denver coffee scene. For example, Crema Coffee House took a bit of a gamble by featuring us prominently while we were still trying to dial in our own product, but I’d like to think we’ve both benefited from the relationship.

6. who, if anyone, has helped w branding/website development/maintenance?

So far we’ve done branding, designing, and packaging ourselves. Mark has a background in design, so he took the lead and developed a brand that’s resonated really well with Denver. Now that our business is growing up, we’ve turned to one of the best designers in the business, Mackey Saturday, to help us through a rebrand and take us to another level; one that will hopefully play well on a national level…someday. We’ve just started the process, but the initial concepts Mackey has presented to us have been exhilarating and inspiring. We can’t wait to share them!

A Denver Home Companion | Huckleberry Roasters

7. what is launch date for your two new shops?

Since we’re still early in the process, the launch dates for the two shops are still a little hard to pin down. The flagship location on 4301 Pecos Street, where we will house our new 15k Giesen Coffee Roaster and have a cafe, is tentatively scheduled for early Fall. The 2500 Larimer Street location, which we’re excitedly sharing with some incredible neighbors including Topo DesignsWork & Class  Pizzeria BastaCirro and more, will open later in the Fall. Until then, people can consistently find Huckleberry Roasters at these wonderful cafes: Crema Coffee House, Denver Bicycle Cafe and Two Rivers. Check our Facebook for other places.

8. where can you be found, IRL and interwebs?

huckleberryroasters.com. Also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,

9. what new/other businesses are you excited about in denver? or would you like to see in denver?

Seems like 2013 has been and will continue to be a defining year for Denver. So many cool spots opening and so many great people doing great things. We are having lots of quick breakfasts at Crema Coffee House (pastry program keeps improving and now all bread made in house!). We’re eating lots of lunches at Curtis Park Delicatessen and Masterpiece Delicatessen. To close out the day, I would say that we’re at TRVE Brewing more often than we’d like to admit. All of those places provide constant inspiration.

A Denver Home Companion | Huckleberry Roasters

10. what’s your favorite shop in denver? favorite place for food? neighborhood?

My favorite shop in Denver, at the moment, is Steadbrook. It’s seems to be the perfect example of the direction that Denver is headed. A place that would be at home in San Francisco or New York, but still fits perfectly in Denver. A place that blends beautifully curated, responsibly made goods and excellent coffee service with creative, thoughtful design….all with the intention of giving the people of Denver a special experience.

[photos c/o luca venter, jake belvin, and huckleberry]

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this week, for the small business series, i’ve got nicole and christie from hey! party collective answering some questions to tell you a little bit about their awesome event-planning/party-throwing denver company. these ladies have helped me out with a baby shower, a thanksgiving feast, and a first birthday. i’ve also attended a bridal shower and a wedding gussied up by them.

like many small businesses, their start was a labor of love. it’s been inspiring to watch them start from the ground up: throwing parties for friends, planning events for free, building their amazing portfolio through hard work and an amazing store of creative ideas. i’m thrilled to say that all of their hard work has paid off and this summer they have a schedule filled with weddings and parties and shenanigans, based greatly, i believe, on their success at creating a unique business that sets them apart from others in the same industry.

A Denver Home Companion | hey! party collective

1. what is hey! party?

We are a party planning dynamic duo, intent on pushing the envelope, but keeping it sophisticated. We are out here trying to show brides they don’t have to have a ho-hum wedding. We are also notorious dance party starters, so that’s just a bonus! Who doesn’t love a good dance party?!?

Our goal is to inspire clients with fresh ideas, to be themselves, to push the envelope, to think outside the box. Our clients are those who are looking for something different, bold, hip, and edgy, and aren’t finding it in your typical event planning operation. Because of this, we try to work with venues with a unique atmosphere, promote and collaborate with like-minded industry badasses…(who actually are badasses), stay on top of rad new trends, and find styles that cater to the particular tastes of our clients.

2. how did you get into this? what was your inspiration?

Christie and I were both were always finding a reason to throw a party or host dinners or help friends out with their events. We just loved to do it. And we always had big dreams for decorations and details – fine for professional party planning, not so much for a no-budget little house party. You (Emily) finally told me quite literally to quit my day job. So I did. And thankfully Christie was interested in giving this thing a shot with me! We both had the same vision for Hey! Party, and we are a great combination of creativity and organization. Christie and I both felt that Denver was in need of a little kick in the pants when it came to creative event design, with the use of unique venues, bold decor, and disregarding the conventional trends – especially in weddings.

3. what had the process been from conception to execution? 

We started out small, planning parties for friends who were huge supporters of our endeavor, or hauling our custom photo booth here and there. Soon, we started building our brand, building our portfolio, and getting calls from people who heard about us through word of mouth or networking. There has also been an evolution of what types of services we provide and for how much. We’re quickly learning how to value our time, project by project. It’s true that you learn from your mistakes. Ha!

From the start, Christie and I have known that our passion is in the styling and design of events. We are extremely organized planners and list makers – that is essential in our line of work – but you should see the sparkle in our eyes when someone hires us and gives us creative freedom.

A Denver Home Companion | hey! party collective

4. has creating/developing/launching/sustaining this been what you expected? easier or harder? what have the challenges been?

I don’t think we knew what to expect. Last year we really tried to develop our portfolio and get some great events under our belt, and we got some great feedback. This year, we have a bunch of weddings on the roster, have met some great people in the industry who are also thinking outside of the box, and we’re branching out when it comes to marketing. Next year is already looking exciting as well. Fingers crossed, we’re hoping to have an office/studio space by next summer – which is a HUGE step for us.

Our challenge as new, small business owners is that Christie and I both still have to work some semblance of “day jobs” to keep ourselves financially afloat. We are looking forward to Hey! Party Collective being our only gig and as long as things continue we will be Hey! Partying all over Denver.

5. are you doing this solo or you have other partners/collaborators/helpers in the brand?

Right now it’s Christie and I who represent Hey! Party Collective. We decided to name ourselves a collective because we want to build a “dream team” of vendors who, while not necessarily work at the same company, team up together often to pull off the raddest events in Denver. If you hire Hey! Party, you’ll know who we’re bringing to the table and you won’t be disappointed because you’ll know we have carefully curated our group of creatives and party pros. Cooperation will be seamless and your event will be ridiculously creative.

6. who, if anyone, has helped w branding/website development/maintenance?

Brandon Proff created our logo and initial branding/identity, and he is also helping us develop branding for an exciting wedding event this fall. My husband, Zach Lowery, has done our website development.

A Denver Home Companion | hey! party collective

7. where can you be found?

Online, of course. And Facebook. But we mostly work out of coffee shops like Black Eye Coffee or Crema. If you ever see us around, come say hi!

8. what new/other businesses are you excited about in denver? or would you like to see in denver?

Stephanie at Lalé Floral Design is doing some amazing arrangements and she’s just awesome. We also love the design, letterpress, and silkscreen print work from Banshee Press. And we LOVE working with Kathryn Bacalis Photography – soon to be Our Love Is Loud.

Nicole: I am anxiously anticipating the opening of Trader Joe’s and VooDoo Doughnut.

Christie: DOUGHNUTS!!

What we’d like to see:

A really good wedding DJ, event rental companies offering more options in their inventory (it’s all the same thing around here), and –the holy grail– the perfect event space in Denver. Still looking.

9. what are your favorite shops in denver? favorite places for food? neighborhoods?

Shops: Ironwood || Inspyre || I Heart Denver Store || Hazel & Dewey || Fancy Tiger Clothing || Gracie’s

Food: Pinche Tacos || The Populist || Hops & Pie || Sassafras

‘Hoods: Berkelely Neighboorhood and the Tennyson business district || Potter & Lower Highland Neighborhoods || Baker || RINO

A Denver Home Companion | hey! party collective

10. what do you have coming up?

rebel bells. an unconventional wedding fest! not your average wedding expo. take a look at the website and like us on facebook! the event is sunday, september 15th from 6-9 at the artwork network. pass on this info to any denver bride-to-bes that you know!

A Denver Home Companion | rebel bells

this week’s contributor is april from our ship on the sea, a husband & wife writing/photography/videoography/event planning power team (and that’s just what they do for fun!). april approached me, curious if i’d be interested in a post about her experience with the unexpected things that happen after babies are born — the stuff they don’t necessarily tell you about and the stuff new parents often find themselves unprepared for; the stuff we often don’t talk about with everyone who asks us how wonderful, albeit tiring, our life with new baby must be. yes! i said. of course! mamas need to hear about other mamas’ struggles: it helps us feel less alone and can sometimes put our own struggles in perspective. it also can open up relationships to work through issues together and find support. read on!

A Denver Home Companion | our ship on the sea

The Unexpected

Even before she was born, Annie was unpredictable. At 38 weeks my doctor told us that she would be arriving within days (!!!) and to get everything in order. Jeremy and I rushed home, finished the last of the nursery preparation, I went on maternity leave, and my parents arrived flew in. Two long weeks later… the day my parents had to leave to go back to Nashville, I went into labor at the Denver Biscuit Company. (You better believe I stayed and ate the entire cinnamon roll). The doctor predicted a 9 to 10 pound baby. Annie was born at a sweet little 6 lbs 13 oz. 

A Denver Home Companion | our ship on the sea

We prepared well to bring our baby home, but we weren’t prepared for a few things that followed once we got there:

We weren’t prepared for breastfeeding not to work out for me. I mean- I took classes! And watched DVDs! And had THREE books! That preparation and multiple lactation consultants couldn’t help the range of issues I experienced. I just finished nearly 7 exhausting months of pumping. I didn’t even get the chance to make anyone uncomfortable from breastfeeding in public. : )

We weren’t prepared for our baby to have severe colic. When she started crying for hours every night at three weeks old we assumed it was gas or just typical evening fussiness. By the third day we realized we were in for weeks of what we called “Scream Fest 2012″. Annie would start crying at 5 pm and end around 11. We did everything imaginable to make it stop. One exhausting Friday night we put Annie in the car around midnight to get her to stop crying. It worked! But then we were too afraid to stop driving. We drove around our downtown neighborhood until 2 am looking at all the couples out on dates, laughing and holding hands, probably all a little sauced. I wanted to scream “OH YOU JUST WAIT.”

After the colic stopped, we weren’t prepared for the chronic congestion to begin. It’s common for young babies to be congested, but when it didn’t stop, we knew something bigger had to be going on. We took Annie to the pediatrician more times than I can count, Urgent Care twice, and the ER on multiple occasions when her breathing was so labored that she refused to eat or sleep. No one seemed to find anything wrong, but as her parents, we knew there was an issue. It was heartbreaking and we felt defeated. Finally, an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor confirmed what I already assumed- her adenoids we’re blocking her airway so severely that she struggled to breathe and eat, thus making quality sleep a joke… a super NOT funny joke. In six months time Annie had only slept for more than three hours ONCE. Thankfully, the end of the sleeping/eating issues is in sight – Annie is having her adenoids removed next month and we expect her issues to almost fully resolve. YAY!

A Denver Home Companion | our ship on the sea

Either most new parents really do have few issues, or those who do simply don’t talk about it. Well, I really wanted, maybe even needed, to talk about it. I thank Emily for giving me the space to do so, and I hope that someone out there finds this helpful.  I want to share some of our own lessons learned, thoughts, and internet love with those who might be struggling:

Ask for help. Since Annie’s birth, Jeremy and I have had three dates. One given to us by friends for three hours, a quick dinner date, and a movie. I take responsibility for this because I didn’t feel comfortable burdening anyone. Looking back- what a ridiculous thought. So many people who love us were willing to help, and we could have used the time alone together. So- ask for help! If your friends offer, take them up on it – that very week! If your family lives out if town- show weakness! Say- “Um yeah… we’re LOSING IT OVER HERE, please come help. Thanks!” Most likely those new grandparents will be thrilled you asked and will get on that plane if they are able to.

Talk about it. Your honesty allows others to be free in sharing their own hardships. My greatest comfort in low moments has been finding those who will simply say “I know. It sucks. It will get better.”  

Learn to let go and do what you need to do to get through it. Don’t beat yourself up over getting delivery because you’re just too exhausted to even think about turning on the stove. The same with the housework – nothing matters more than your well-being, especially not mopping. I wish we would’ve been more open to letting go of some things that weren’t working. Was giving Annie breastfeeding ideal? Yes. But should I have considered giving it up at the extreme point of exhaustion while Annie was sick and not eating any way? Yes- I should have been open to formula. 

Give yourself the ultimate gift: Stop comparing yourself to others. When those well meaning friends with dream babies who sleep through the night at 3 weeks old (I hear these mystical babies exist?) start to offer advice about your difficult baby-  it’s ok to stop them mid-sentence and say “We’ve actually tried it all.” and get off the phone. I’m not suggesting being rude, but if you have to hear another unhelpful suggestion again you might lose it even more severely. (So hey dream baby parents- it really is awesome that you’re having an ideal experience. Really- no sarcasm! It’s awesome! But your friends aren’t and they are struggling. So consider *not* offering advice. Instead say “What can we do to help?” Better yet- don’t even ask- just do it. Bring a meal over or take their baby for a walk and let your friends have an hour alone.)

A Denver Home Companion | our ship on the sea

With all this said, we didn’t expect that we’d be so happy to spend our weekends laying on the floor with Annie, singing songs and reading books. The delight in her laughs, the feel of her little hands rubbing over my cheeks and my husband’s beard – the best! Tonight we all sat together on the floor with baby sized instruments and had a mini-family band for a few precious minutes. I never expected to pray for time to stand still, even for just small moments like these.

-April Powell

Our Ship on the Sea

P.S. I hesitated writing this post because I didn’t want to sound ungrateful. We recognize how fortunate we are. We have a happy baby girl, and her health issues can be fixed. We are lucky- we know this. However, when you’re in the muck, it all becomes relative. To those who might be struggling – I’m wrapping my arms around you in a huge internet hug. It gets better- I’ll swear on it. 

thank you so so much, april. your honesty is brave and important. and i have no doubt this will have been something someone needed to read. parenthood is not easy. but its trials, as much as its blessings, need to be talked about amongst other parents and community members so that we can learn from and support those going through what all parents have gone through. (and how beautiful is that family?!)

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.