Tag Archives: Littleton

Tom Watson Trail and Maruca Sale — Running and Fun Shopping!


After so many years of trying to stay in shape while juggling a family and many other demands, I finally figured out what really motivates me to get out the door.   Its not an inviting sunny day, a directive on my workout plan or the threat of a race.   Its most definitely getting together with friends and doing something fun after the workout — coffee, breakfast, beer or in today’s case, shopping at a popular biannual factory sale of fabulous, incredibly discounted handbags.   Dangle something fun in front of my nose and I’ll hit the trail for an hour in anticipation of my reward!!!


Today’s carrot was shopping at Maruca’s biannual factory sale following our workout.   Our eager group of runners assembled at a home in Littleton to carpool up to Boulder for an hour run on the Tom Watson Trail.   The views of the Flatirons and Boulder reservoir were spectacular and we enjoyed lovely cool weather.   After a little bagel picnic in the park, we headed over to the Maruca headquarters to take our place in line.   Twice a year, this manufacturer of really cute handbags, totes and zipper cases holds a factory sale.   The rock bottom prices attract a long line of customers.   This was the first time I was able to go and was so excited to see all the goodies!


Being a resourceful shopper, I dipped into the box of remnants and came home with a bag full of scraps and cording   So far, I’ve sown together some coordinating pieces and drafted some patterns to make my own pocketed zipper bags.   Tune in later for some photos of my creations!





Running on the East West Trail



Sweeping Views of the Snow-capped Front Range and Pike’s Peak

I am always amazed when I have the opportunity to try a new running trail  and today was such a day.    Shari Zimmerman, a member of my running club, knew about the East West Trail in Highlands Ranch from her son who lives nearby.   And several weeks ago, when she described the beautiful mountain views and the lovely hilly trail, our group was eager to check it out.   And today was the day!

The East West Trail is tucked in the stunning Back Country neighborhood just past Mountain Vista High School on Wild Cat Reserve Parkway.   It is a soft surface trail approximately 19.5 miles long stretching from Red Stone Park to Ridgegate Parkway with future connections to Lone Tree and Parker.   We carpooled the 20-30 minutes from our homes in Littleton and Lakewood and parked at Red Tail Park just off  2674 Pemberly Avenue.   When we arrived, the park full of school children and the sun was shining.   A another warm blue-sky Spring Colorado day!    By 8:05 am, the 10 of us had hit the trail.

dad clark trail map .JPG


We knew from Shari’s description that the trail was an uphill climb for almost a mile.   And she’s wasn’t kidding!   With a pounding heart, I jogged and walked up the steep grade in about 12 minutes and at the top, was greeted with a sweeping view of the snow capped Front Range and clear views of both Pike’s Peak to the south and Mount Evans to the West.   Wow!   Vistas like this just make me love Colorado and appreciate my good fortune to live here.   After catching my breath and reading some of the trail signs, my companions and I continued on the public trail for another 20 minutes and turned around.

Along the way, there were narrow dirt paths shooting off the main trail with signs warning nonresidents to stay off  the private property.   I wondered if my sister Pam’s ls.jpg residence in Highlands Ranch would qualify her (and her guests) to use these trails?   For today, we enjoyed the wide, well maintained public trail.    On the way back, most of us were able to run a bit faster. – a real treat!   After an hour on the trail, we met back at the parking lot and all headed to Pierre Michel French Bakery  for breakfast.   What a delight to enjoy French pastries, omelets, quiches and coffee at this lovely local restaurant!


After I got home and did a little more research, I was happy to find that there is a East-West Trail Half Marathon and 10k on June 10.   I will  have spend some more time training on that big hill before I register!




Climbing Before Coffee: Morning Workout at Philip S. Miller Park

Climbing Before Coffee:  Morning Workout at Philip S. Miller Park

group photo

After climbing the infamous 2000 steps of The Incline in Manitou Springs several years ago, I was excited when a new shorter set of stairs opened in Castle Rock in 2014.   When my Thursday morning running group decided to visit this 200 step staircase, I was thrilled and eager to add this challenge to my list of “firsts — one which is definitely more my cup of tea (or coffee)!

17796027_10210990169223604_4876917730550741267_nAt 7:30 am this morning, our group met at Safeway parking lots near our homes in Littleton to carpool the 25 minutes down to Philip S. Miller Park in Castle Rock.   When we arrived just after 8, the sun was just rising above the backside of the west facing climb and the parking lot was with filling with other equally dedicated climbers.   I was surprised to find the staircase situated in an expansive new park featuring a zip line course, hiking trails, sports fields, an amphitheater, a sports center with a pool, fabulous playgrounds and more.   What a great place to bring a family!

stairsAfter all nine of us assembled, we started the shaded climb.   I was pretty sure that I would not be running up the steps and happy to find that none of the other runners in our group were running either.   Climbing up the first 50 steps, spaced at a more gradual incline,  was relatively easy.   The next section was steeper and little more challenging. Many of us stopped every 10-20 steps to take a breath.
Thankfully, the steps were marked at intervals of 10 so by the time I got to 170 and my heart was pounding, the remaining steps seemed manageable.    The morning sun blazed in our faces as we reached the top and once our eyes adjusted, were greeting with a magnificent view of the small town of Castle Rock to the east, the front range the to west and snowy Pike’s Peak to the south — a fabulous reward for the 10 minute climb.



After a few long minutes catching my breath, I remarked that I must not be in as good a shape as I thought despite running, hiking, skiing and generally leading an active life.  There were nods of agreement among us and chuckles about how hard we all were breathing.   Nothing like a stair climb to test one’s limits!    We waited for everyone to reach the top, took a group photo and headed down the trail on the south side of the hill.   I was pleased to see stunning view of Pike’s Peak on the hike down.   The second time up, I was able to pace myself better and challenged myself to climb 50 and 20 steps at a time.   Enjoyed a few minutes in the Adirondack chair at the top too!chair

By 9 am, we’d all climbed enough laps and resolved to return to run the trails in the park too.    As the last of us reached the bottom, the sound of sirens approached.   Red trucks arrived and a crew of firemen headed up the steps to assist a young man who’d fainted at the top.   Fortunately, the ladies in our group were all OK and ready for coffee.  We loaded up our vehicles and headed north on Highway 85/Santa Fe for a breakfast rendez vous at O’Brian’s in Sedalia.   Was happy to see a few cowboys drinking coffee and a historical photo of a horse hitching post outside this local eatery.    Fun times with the Columbines!








End of Season Report: Brothers’ Garden Competition, 2016

End of Season Report:   Brothers’ Garden Competition, 2016

Getting the raised bed ready for planting                                                              .

Its been ten months since Dylan (15) and Tristan (12) started their garden competition at the end of May 2016.   The original goal was a competition to grow the most produce.   As the summer progressed, the goal changed to a more simple one — take care of the garden and see what happens.  The gardens grew all summer (with a little watering help from me) and produced a bounty of produce.   Quite unexpectedly, the one who had not gardened much before shined and worked hard to plant a variety of items and tended carefully to his crops.   The other more experienced gardener who had planted his own plot for six years in my community garden was less than attentive and eventually lost interest in his garden.   Personally, I chalk up his disinterest to adolescence.   He going through some changes and one day, will be back to himself again.


Tristan planted beet seeds in August.

When I left Colorado in late October for a month in Alaska, the gardens were still producing.   We were still harvesting beets, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, peppers and more.  When I returned in December, the frost had frozen the plants in their tracks.   Each bed remained buried beneath snow and ice for months.   With the recent thaw and sunny spring days of March, I took the time to clean up Dylan’s abandoned 4 X 4 plot and was surprised to find several pounds of carrots growing beneath the soil.  Woohoo!!


Here are come pictures of the gardens throughout the summer:

June 4 2016   Just Planted

July 4, 2016   Seeds Sprouting

August 13  The Harvest is Coming In

September 4   More Harvest

As the new garden season begins, I plan to rally my boys to try again and maybe this time, get in some Spring cold crops.   We’re off to Spring Break in MOAB in a few days with many hours to talk and and plan. My fingers are crossed that when we return, they’ll turn some dirt and get started again!

Life in the Garden, “Exclusively Yours”, July 2016

Life in the Garden, “Exclusively Yours”, July 2016


Its been a busy garden season and with the big harvest this year, I’ve been too busy to write.   But today, I received a copy of an article that features my garden exploits and want to share it.   Several months ago, my sister’s friend Tyler, asked if she could interview me about my experience as a master gardener for an article she was writing.   I answered a few quick questions late at night so she could meet her midnight deadline — and forgot all about it.

Fast forward three months and I receive an email from a Wisconsin woman wondering if she could hire me to help plan her son’s garden in Denver.   Of course, that’s the kind of thing I do — plan gardens — but I wondered how she’d gotten my contact information.   In her email, she mentioned an article in “Exclusively Yours”, a local magazine I grew up reading in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.   In an effort to locate the article, I googled and called the magazine, called my mom and sister who live in Wisconsin.   Nothing.  Finally, my new fan emailed a copy and it all came back to me.

Its fun to share my passion for gardening with everyone I know.   In the article, I mention the master gardening program at Denver Urban gardens, my donation garden at St. Philip Lutheran Church, the new donation garden I helped plan at Harvard Gulch Golf Course and more.   Check it out.  Please contact me if you want to talk gardening or need help getting yours started.  anaincolorado@gmail.com.



DUG Talk: Starting a Produce Donation Garden

DUG Talk:  Starting a Produce Donation Garden


Today, Teri Connelly and I had the honor of presenting at the 2016 Denver Urban Garden Leader Symposium.   We discussed the initiatives in our communities to grow extra produce for donation to local charities including Project Angel Heart, Jovial Gardens, the Edgewater Elementary School and the Secret Community Donation Garden for Arvada Food Bank.   You can read more about my work starting the St. Philip Community Donation last year in an article I wrote last summer.   Attached is the Power Point Presentation from our talk today.

Donation Talk to DUG Leadership 2 27 2016

It was especially exciting to have the opportunity to connect with other garden leaders about their projects and discuss how we might work together.   As always, it was wonderful to see our friends at Denver Urban Gardens and enjoy the news about their new logo, the addition of more gardens, more programming and plans for the future.   I feel incredibly fortunate to be a member of one of the oldest community gardens in Denver (Rosedale) and to have benefited from the wonderful opportunities offered by Denver Urban Gardens — most notably, the Master Community Gardener Program.

After nearly 20 years as a community gardener, I have learned much about gardening in our arid state of Colorado and can finally count on an ample harvest each summer.  I am committed to growing healthy organic food for my family and to sharing this wealth with others less fortunate.   I hope that you will consider sharing the extra produce in your garden with local food pantries and others who need access to good food.



Garden Treats for the Coffee Cart

Garden Treats for the Coffee Cart


Ana and Lerae serving up garden treats at the Sunday Coffee Cart.

Having recently started a donation garden to support the Sheridan Food Bank, Lerae and I have been working at promoting our garden project as often as possible.   To this end, I signed up to prepare treats for the Sunday Coffee Cart for the coffee hour between services at St.Philip’s Church on July 26, 2015.   I figured that by the end of July, we would have some items in the garden that could be incorporated into tasty bakery items to share with church members and garner some attention for the vegetables growing in the back lot.

After discussing the possibilities of how we could incorporate our harvest (both at home and from the donation garden, Lerae and I settled on some delicious options.   She rustled up some  rhubarb crisp and coffee cake as well as some strawberry rhubarb jam.   I made Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies, Cheddar Chive Biscuits and Zucchini Bread.   My plan to bring pesto to serve with herb cream cheese on crackers failed when I ran out of oive oil.   Added to the mix were pretzel crackers, gluten free brownies and rice rolls.

For a first try, our garden theme was a hit.   The home baked goods also inspried many conversations about our bountiful community donation garden.    And, more than a few decided to go out back to check out the garden.   Feeling successful, we decided to sign up to host  again in September  but this time, we will feature more savory treats — parmesan zucchni and yellow squash rounds, pesto on crackers, tomato tart, pickled cukes and more!!!

IMG_9380[3]Recipe:    Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

3 tbs lemon juice

1 tsp grated lemon peel

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

4 1/2 tsps minced fresh rosemary

1/4 tsp salt

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until ight and fluffy.   Beat in the lemon juice, peel and vanilla.   Combine the flour, rosemary and salt, gradually add to creamed mixtue and mix well.   Shape into two 12-in rolls, wrap each in plastic wrap.   Freeze for 20 minutes or until firm.   Cut into 1/4 in. slices.   Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.   Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown.   cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.   Store in airtight container.


New Butterfly Pavilion at Denver Botanic Gardens

New Butterfly Pavilion at Denver Botanic Gardens

IMG_4956[1]During my first trip down to the Chatfield CSA  in late May to pick up my vegetable share,  I was surprised and excited to see a new structure housing a butterfly garden at the Littleton location of the Denver Botanic Gardens.   Curious to visit this new attraction, I rounded up my boys, a friend and headed down to check it out   As a member, of the Denver Botanic Gardens, we paid the member admission price — $2 per child and $4 for adults.   Because the new exhibit was currently low on butterflies, we were given wristbands for another visit.

As we entered the double doors of the pavilion, we were greeted by two young but knowledgeable butterfly keepers.    The interior of the plastic covered dome revealed a beautiful flower garden, a nice path encircling the perimeter, informative exhibit signs and several monarch butterflies flying around.   It was very interesting to be able to look through the opaque walls at the mountains, trees and clouds outside.

The boys were particularly interested to compare two specimens of a male and female monarch and learn to discern the difference.   They also spent some time examining the shed housing the chrysalis — at 100 — due to hatch in the next week.   The butterfly keeper, a recent Biology graduate of CSU, shared many interesting details about the development of the Butterfly Pavilion and the life cycle of the butterfly.

This wonderful exhibit is a must-do for families.    The new exhibit opened in May and will be open through September.   Although touring the Butterfly Pavilion is short, the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield offers a multitude of opportunities for a fun outing —  hiking, a historic farm, a wooded play ground and vast array of naturalized gardens, a riparian area and much much more.IMG_4957[1] IMG_4961[1] IMG_4963[1] IMG_4960[1]

Spring in Littleton: The Crabapple Trail


A few years ago, I discovered a little treasure in my hometown of Littleton, CO.   The Crabapple Trail, a civic project started nearly 40 years ago, winds through a few flowering miles of neighborhood streets in the downtown area.    And its colorful peak only lasts a few days during the month of April.   Its a Springtime ritual not to be missed.

I first saw the signs in 2012 and enthusiastically followed the trail that April.   I  missed the peak in 2013 but this year, I was fortunate enough to remember just as the pink and white buds appeared.   To my delight, I was able to tour the blooming route several times with my mother, my sister’s mother-in-law, and my children.   To fully enjoy the crabapple trees, one must drive with the windows down to inhale the fragrance of the trees.    9166290_orig

The crowning vista of the route can be found at Jackass Hill Park located at
the crest of a hill on the south end of Prince Street.    Trees bloom on both sides of the park entrance with the snowcapped Rockies in the distance and casting a dramatic backdrop for a perfectly stunning photo.   Its easy to pull over to take a few photos at the park.   But, don’t forget to stop and look up through the flowering tree boughs at the blue sky peeking through, close your eyes and take a deep breath.   The beautiful sight and smell signifies the coming of Spring in the most perfect way.IMG_4312[1]IMG_4345[1]