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How container gardens can convert your balcony or patio into an oasis


Photos by Colleen Smith.

Container gardens yield many benefits — not the least of which are lovely, low-maintenance landscapes and fresh veggies bursting from small spaces.

“The biggest benefit is that container gardening is great for people without soil to grow in, whether they live in small spaces or have balconies, or HOAs that don’t allow changes to landscaping,” said Brien Darby, manager of urban food programs at Denver Botanic Gardens.

For more information, read the full article.


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Create an outdoor room with a pergola

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A pergola by Chad Beall of Tree Frog Woodworking Inc.

To add classic garden architecture and define an outdoor space, a pergola nails it. For homes or commercial spaces, pergolas deliver both form and function. Whether attached to a building or as a stand-alone structure, a pergola can provide privacy, shade, a ceiling of sorts to an outdoor room, a focal point and a support for vines.

For more information, read the full article.


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The Chocolate Therapist prescribes chocolate every day


Photo by Thomas Tallant. Courtesy of The Chocolate Therapist.

Once in a while, an assignment comes along that seems like a dream, and reporting on The Chocolate Therapist was one of them. When the job came in from Colorado Expression magazine, I responded, “Twist my arm.”

Julie Pech’s chocolate shop in Littleton is sweet, and her made-in-house chocolates some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Unusual combinations and pure chocolate – none of that fluffy, cloyingly sweet goo inside.

Julie taught me a lot about chocolate, including the fact that the world’s bulk supply of chocolate comes from Africa: the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

“The plant can only grow ten degrees north or south of the equator. It’s a hot, humid band around the earth,” she said. “Only 33 countries can grow it, and the only place in the US is Hawaii.”

Americans drive the chocolate market, Pech says. “Americans eat an average of 12 pounds of chocolate per year. The Irish eat 22 pounds and the Swiss 24, but there are so many more Americans so we’re consuming more pounds per country.”

But the sweetest ending to this story is that Julie prescribes dark chocolate every day as a health food. Two quick tips: if you’re eating chocolate for nutrition, go for 80 percent cocao content or higher. And if you’re eating chocolate for nutrition, opt for chocolate containing other superfoods such as dried cherries, cranberries, or blueberries.

Learn more about why chocolate is a superfood in my article in the new issue of Colorado Expression, now on newsstands, in hotel rooms and professional offices throughout the state.

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Leon Loughridge; Colorado’s premier print maker


Leon Loughridge prints books the old-school way: by hand using an antique press. Working from watercolors, he creates woodblock prints, carving layer after layer away until nothing remains of the block but wood shavings.

Loughridge ranks as one of Denver’s most talented artists, and for years has been accepted into the prestigious Coors Western Art Show at the Denver Stock Show.
I reported on Loughridge for the Winter 2018 issue of Fine Books and Collections. Pick up a copy at your favorite newsstand.

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Old skis repurposed as new furniture


Colorado/Photo by: Colleen Smith

Old skis never die: they turn into furniture

For avid skiers, after making countless turns in the rarefied air through the powder, over the bumps, around the trees, one’s sticks become like a couple of very close, reliable friends. When ready to retire a pair of skis, many keep their trusty planks out of the landfill and in their life by repurposing skis as wall mounts, fences, racks for coats or bottles of wine, even sleds.

As I wrote in my article published in The Denver Post, “Old skis never die. They turn and turn and turn and turn and then turn into furniture.

At least that’s the case at Colorado Ski Chairs in Manitou Springs. The small business founded by Adam Vernon and operated with his son Keagan Vernon repurposes up to 200 pairs of old skis per week.”

For more about repurposed skis that preserve mountain memories, here’s a link to my feature article:





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Mala beads go mainstream in America


My mala

Americans wrapped up in mala beads

Malas, ancient meditation toola, are now going mainstream in America. You’re probably seeing mala beads. They’re showing up everywhere: long stands of beads with tassels worn as necklaces or bracelets.

I’ve practiced yoga more than 25 years, and for the past several years I’ve wanted a mala.  I tried on many yet never tried one on that quite felt right. My patience paid off. This past summer as a birthday gift to myself, I worked with my yoga teacher to tie a mala with my body/mind/spirit/ intentions. She had been to Nepal and learned from a Tibetan woman. She taught me to mediate with my mala using mantras — a powerful practice probably 8,000 years old.

Mala beads are beautiful, even artful — and I had the opportunity to write about mala beads for Art & Object. My sources include a Tibetan man and woman, as well as two Americans.

If you’re interested in the fascinating and lovely tradition of malas, here’s a link to my article. You don’t even have to meditate or change to benefit: just wearing one feels so good!

Just click here for more about mala beads in Art & Object.


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Vatican cardinal praises “Angels Alleluia” film on angels

AADVDCover“Angels Alleluia,” written and directed by Colleen Smith, currently is streaming from the website of Rocky Mountain PBS. The 30-minute documentary film looks at the nine orders of angels according to scriptures, saints, scholars and artists.
Cardinal J. Francis Stafford — former Archbishop of Denver who went on to serve in the Vatican in Rome, Italy — recently viewed the documentary film. Excerpts of the cardinals comments follow:

“Thank you for sharing the documentary film on the nine choirs of angels. It is of excellent quality… You brought that mystery of mysteries, God’s inner life, closer to us through your commentary and direction. PBS deserves also our thanks for supporting a project not only of high artistry but also of deep interiority.”

“…The windows were infinitely detailed in their abstraction. How to organize and explain such holy realities in a non-sacramental, increasingly imageless world? Your writing and leadership molded the raw matter with a form. The myriads of beings in the glass were brought to order. Form requires finality, purpose… Your words complemented the art work — its movement and inner vitality came alive for us through your work.”

“Life and form danced together in the stained glass. Your leadership made the choreography work. The process of making the glass with fire and breath was literally breathtaking. The blending of skilled and verbal commentators was just right… Now God’s reality seems nearer even in His distance. Our Lady of Loreto has offered the wider church and world another gift. Your film has allowed us a glance of the glory of God in the mirror of the celestial Hierarchy… It leads each of us to a greater purity of heart so that every thought of ours will be God and every breath will be God. The theme is so profound and complex in its beauty that the film needs to be watched again and again.”

Rocky Mountain PBS will stream the documentary until Sunday, April 12. We invite you to watch here.

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