Sunday, December 10, 2017

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It certainly is the most wonderful time of the year!  Our Christmas tree is decorated and ready for all the presents we've been buying to be wrapped and place beneath it. 

We have been enjoying holiday parties, gingerbread house making, a light parade, Santa Claus visits and church services, where we celebrated the second week of Advent this Sunday. The next few weeks I'll be busy making our favorite Christmas cookies and a favorite savory Zeppole treat.

The beautiful bright Super Moon that passed this month reminded me of the special star that heralded the birth of Jesus and which led the Wise Men to his simple and humble birthplace in a stable, where He lay in swaddling clothes in a manger. The King of Kings who came to teach us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor like yourself."

As you can see on my Mille Fiori Facebook page on this link, we had horse-drawn carriage rides in our neighborhood recently.  It was fun to sing "Jingle Bells," along with all the riders, as we rode through the neighborhood under the bright moon.

I wanted to share this photo from my MilleFioriFavoriti Instagram feed. As you can see the Colorado foothills that surround us are dry and without a speck of snow! We have had an unusually warm autumn here this year, due to a La Nina weather pattern, and the weatherman tells us that no end is in sight. This Sunday it was 62 degrees Fahrenheit in the Denver area. We can go outside wearing only a sweater or light jacket. I took this photo because I saw this bird flying by, and from a distance, I thought it was a bald eagle. When I came home and cropped the photo I laughed, as you can see it is a crow carrying a white bag in his mouth. Maybe he was doing a little Christmas shopping? I hope this photo always made you smile!  

Enjoy this most wonderful time of the year!

 I'm linking this post to the following blog events:

Thank you blog hosts!

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Denver 43rd Annual Parade of Lights

Santa Claus arrived in Denver this past weekend at the 43rd annual Parade of Lights extravaganza, which parades past excited spectators for two miles in Denver, Colorado. My daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter attended the parade and had a wonderful time. They are allowing me to use all their cell phone photos and videos to share with you on my blog this week.  I hope you will enjoy them! 

They had grandstand seats, across from the Denver City and County building.  This facebook video on my Mille Fiori Facebook page above shows how the parade begins with the spectacular lighting of the building!  
I've blogged about the wonderful way Denver lights up many of it's building for Christmas in this blog post and also this post and this one.  
The Denver  City and County building lights up with over 600,000 permanently installed, energy saving, LED lights and includes a beautiful lighted nativity scene in front.

My daughter and family are in the upper left of this collage enjoying the different marching bands and parade dignitaries that were passing by in the stagecoach.

There were many ornate floats in the parade, including a living nativity scene...

...a gingerbread house, and a dancing Chinese dragon!

This Mille Fiori Favoriti Facebook video shows the Air Force Academy Cadet Honor Guard that was marching in the parade.

There were also giant balloons in the parade, such as Frosty the Snowman, a Snow Tiger, and the Gift of Life Balloon.

There was a new float this year of a beautiful glowing ice castle made by the Independent Electrical Contractors Rocky Mountains.

Even the America Flag was glowing in the Parade of Lights!

In this Mille Fiori Favoriti Facebook Page video, we can see the arrival of Santa Claus at the end of the hour-long parade!

As you can see my granddaughter was so excited to be at the parade that she stood by the barricade for almost the entire time and enjoyed it very much!  It was one of the highlights of the Christmas season, so far, for her.  
Held since 1975, the Parade of Lights parade is sponsored each year by businesses and is free for spectators, with a fee-only for those wishing to have elevated grandstand seats.

More holiday happenings can be seen on my MilleFioriFavoriti Instagram page--please follow along to see more!

You can also find me on 

Bookmark and Share

Monday, November 27, 2017

Cherokee Ranch and Castle

Cherokee Ranch and Castle, located 30 miles south of Denver, near the town of Sedalia, was originally built in 1924 by a Denver real estate tycoon named Charles Benson, and his wife Alice, as a summer home for their family. They had a love of English and Scottish Castles and incorporated castle aspects into the style of their house, which included 26 rooms and more than 10,000 square feet of space. They named the house "Chartford" for their sons Charles and Gifford. 

 (All photos and photo collages in this post will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on)

 As time went on the Gifford sons sold the home and surrounding properties to Mildred Montague Genevieve "Tweet" Kimball, a southern belle and debutante from Tennessee. Tweet needed a new home after a divorce settlement, which included her husband's purchase of a new home for her as long as she moved "west of the Mississippi." In 1954 Tweet and her two sons, Richard and Kirk, moved into what she re-named "Cherokee Ranch." Tweet was an avid equestrian and also purchased the adjoining Blunt Ranch, which increased her landholdings to 3,400 acres.

My husband and I decided to take a tour of Cherokee Castle this past summer. As we waited for the tour to begin we admired the exterior stone walls and slate roof construction, which we later learned on the tour was almost all-natural material originally sourced in Colorado

 Some of the beautiful architectural details of the house can be seen in the photos above.

Inside, in the Castle's Great Hall, we were greeted by our tour guide. She began to tell us the amazing life story of the accomplished and interesting Tweet Kimball.

Kimball was the educated daughter of a wealthy family. Her father nicknamed her "Tweet" as a child, and it stayed with her. She was a collector of fine art and antiques and loved to travel to add to her collections. She also loved to host parties, was active in many organizations, and fundraised for them.  She collected over 14,000 books, many rare, such as works by Dickens and Audubon and a folio of Shakespeare's works, published while Shakespeare was alive.

Views of some of the rooms in Cherokee Castle

Some examples of the large collection of antique furniture in the castle.

Every nook and cranny had something interesting to see!

Kimball's art collection was extensive and included works by fifteenth and sixteenth-century European and original paintings by artists Ruebans, Brueghel, and Pliny the Elder, and original drawings by Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

We were able to climb the narrow steps up to the top of a turret, where we went outside... see these expansive views of the Colorado Front Range.

The city of Denver can be seen in the far distance

On clear days there are mesmerizing views from Pikes Peak in the south to Longs Peak in the north.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating facts I learned from the tour of Cherokee Ranch was that Tweet Kimball was a trailblazer as a woman who had an interest in raising cattle. She bought Santa Gertrudis cattle from Texas to Colorado. This breed was developed to thrive on the native grasses and climate of South Texas brush country. Critics felt these cattle would not do well in the colder Colorado climate, but Tweet proved them wrong. Santa Gertrudis are now bred all over the world, and Cherokee ranch is recognized within cattle breeding circles for this legacy. Tweet went on to establish the Rocky Mountain Santa Gertrudis Association and became the first woman to ever be on the National Western Stock Show's Board of Directors. 

In 1996, Tweet Kimball worked to protect Cherokee Ranch through a Conservation Easement. The foundation holds the deed to the land that is now protected as a wildlife sanctuary, and a small herd of Santa Gertrudis cattle are still bred on the ranch.  Tweet passed away in 1999, and the Board of Directors of the Cherokee Ranch and Castle Foundation, its staff, and volunteers have kept her legacy alive since.

Besides being a museum, the castle and grounds are used for various musical performances, theatrical events, receptions, business conferences, High Tea, and a limited amount of weddings. Check the website for event information, and tour dates, at

To get a better idea of the panoramic beauty of the Cherokee Castle's location and views, watch the Youtube video above, or on this link.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

"November comes 

And November goes,

With the last red berries

And the first white snows.

With night coming early,

And dawn coming late,

And ice in the bucket 

And frost by the gate.

The fires burn

And the kettles sing,

 And Earth sinks to rest,

Until next Spring."

"November" ~ Elizabeth Coatsworth

Colorado certainly has given many photographic opportunities to illustrate this poem

Thanksgiving 2016

In the United States the fourth Thursday of November is celebrated as Thanksgiving Day. Families gather together and give thanks for all the year's blessings before they dine on the bounty of their favorite holiday foods. It has also been a special time for our family, as our daughter was born at the end of November and we always have an ice cream birthday cake for her as part of our dessert selection.   We usually have the grandchildren lead us in saying grace, as they love that honor.

Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful day full of good food and the love of family and friends. I hope you will also have a joyful day, and a year ahead filled with many new blessings to be thankful for!

I'm linking this post to the following blog events:

Thank you blog hosts!

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Long Weekend in Arizona

I was away last week, on a short trip to the beautiful state of Arizona. My husband and I enjoyed visiting our family members that live there, and we were especially excited to meet our niece and nephew-in-law's twin babies for the first time.  (All photo collages will increase in size for easier viewing if clicked on)

We also enjoyed a day visiting the very scenic Superstition Mountains and the Goldfield Ghost Town, which is a replica of an 1890's gold mining town.

We also attended a beautiful moonlit, outdoor wedding and reception. Everything was so perfect! We were happy to share this happy occasion, and we wish the new couple much love and happiness.

We are back in Colorado, where autumn colors have faded and the mountains await their mantles of heavy snow. Ski resorts have opened for the season with the aid of man-made snow, but on the Front Range, the weather has remained mild during the day and frosty at night.  

I've already begun shopping and preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday--how about you?  I host every year and make all the usual favorites.  Busy times are ahead--the best times of the year!

I'm linking this post to the following blog events:

Thank you blog hosts!

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, October 29, 2017

West Elk Loop Scenic Byway--Redstone, Marble and the McClure Pass

Colorado has spectacular scenic byways, and my husband and I have been fortunate to have been able to drive quite a few of them in the nearly five years we've lived here. When we were in the western part of the state, spending time away for our anniversary, we decided to take an autumn drive on CO highway 133, part of the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway, to see the historic towns of Marble and Redstone and to drive partially over McClure Pass.  If we wanted to drive the entire 204 miles of this scenic byway loop we would have continued on through different numbered roads all the way to Crested Butte, a total trip that would have taken an estimated six to eight hours of driving. 
We entered CO 133 at Carbondale, Colorado, with the magnificent view of Mount Sopris in the photo above.

Although Sopris' peak, at 12,965 feet (3,952 m) was already snow capped in early October, the foliage at its base was still changing into autumn color, so we were hopeful to see beautiful fall foliage along our drive.

We were not disappointed! The aspens and cottonwoods were changing into glorious shades of gold and orange, accented by red rock hills and green verdant forests.

There was beauty at every twist and turn of the road....

...and patchwork quilts of colorful trees sprinkled all over the high surrounding Elk Mountains.

The vistas were full of autumn color and we gasped and "oohed and ahhed" in awe as we drove along!

The entire West Elk Loop Scenic Byway is a two lane highway that passes through three designated wilderness areas and through thousands of acres of National Forests in a rural part of western Colorado. It had been home to countless generations of Ute Native Americans.  White settlers came to this area first in search of animal pelts and then in search of gold and minerals. Many stayed to farm and ranch.

We stopped to see the restored coke ovens in the town of Redstone

 Please click on to enlarge

Redstone was established by John Cleveland Osgood, a self made man who came west and founded the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company in 1887.  He built 249 coke ovens to turn coal into coke. The Crystal River railroad (now defunct) was constructed to facilitate coal for mines four miles away and to the coke foundries in Pueblo. They functioned for only about ten years when technology changed. Now on the National Historic Register of Historic Places, you can read more about the coke ovens and their restoration on this link.

The charming little town of Redstone is called the "Ruby of the Rockies," not only for its red rock canyon location, but because most of the town's original structures, built by Mr. Osgood to house the coal miners and coke workers, had indoor plumbing and electricity, which were luxuries at the time for mining camps, and lead to the nickname.  The large Redstone Inn, seen in the upper left corner of the photo above, was originally a dormitory for unmarried male miners. 

We continued on our way, driving along valleys of vast aspen forests and towering Elk Mountains.

We soon saw the sign for the turnoff to go towards the town of Marble.

 Please click on to enlarge

The tiny town of Marble is the home of Yule Marble quarry, first discovered in 1873, a pure white marble obtained from a mountain that is 9,300 feet high (2,800m).  The marble is so pure and luminous that it was used in the construction of the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington, DC, and the Equitable skyscraper in New York City, and the Colorado State Capital and City and County Building, as well as buildings in other states.  The quarry has gone through many "boom and bust" periods over the decades, due to the high price of the required high altitude mining process. It has been owned since 2010 by an Italian company based in Carrara, Italy.

Marble is located near the scenic Crystal River

As we drove close to the town the scenery was amazing!

In the small town of Marble we saw many art studios with marble sculptures outside, as well as the site where the old quarry factory once stood.  There were many pieces of marble lying along the road, but it is illegal to remove any marble from the area.

After leaving Marble we drove back to the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway where we climbed a portion of McClure Pass towards the summit.  The pass is usually open year round, except when there is a heavy snowstorm.  At a summit elevation of 8,755 feet (2,671 m) it is not especially high, but it is very steep, with 8% and 9% grades.  Before it was improved in 1947, McClure pass was a rough cattle road and before that a path the Ute Native Americans used to transverse the valleys.

We stopped at the summit at a roadside pull out to take photos of the Elk Mountains in the distance.

The autumn foliage and play of light from the sun behind the clouds made the mountains change colors in a beautiful show.

The views were outstanding!

So many aspen trees!

I took many, many photos, and could have stayed there all day just to soak in all the beauty!

If we continued on over McClure Pass we would have entered the town of Paonia, Colorado.

Instead, we turned around and went back to the Redstone area, and then back to Glenwood Springs, as we had dinner reservations that evening.  We thoroughly enjoyed the section of the Elk Loop Scenic Byway that we traveled, and the historic towns we saw, and the spectacular views from McClure Pass.

I know this post is already long, but I wanted to show a little of Hotel Colorado where we stayed in Glenwood Springs.  It was opened in 1893 and retains much of its old time charm. 

Please click on to enlarge

One interesting legend of the hotel is that President Theodore Roosevelt stayed in the hotel during a hunting expedition in the area. He was unsuccessful and the hotel maids made a stuffed bear for him as a consolation gift--the first 'Teddy Bear"! There was a display case near the hotel coffee and gift shop filled with teddy bear memorabilia.

Glenwood Springs is famous for its giant hot springs pool, as seen in the upper left of the photo collage above.  We went to the relatively new Iron Mountain Hot Springs, which consists of 16 mineral hot springs pools and a freshwater family pool with a jetted spa located next to the Colorado river. You can see a diagram of the pools in the collage.  The temperature of the water ranged from 98 degree Fahrenheit to 107 degree Fahrenheit.  It was the perfect way to relax for a day!   

I hope you enjoyed seeing our 43rd anniversary trip that we made this year to Glenwood Springs, and our visits that I blogged about this month to the very scenic Maroon Bells and the Aspen Snowmass Wilderness, Rifle Falls State Park,  Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock, and now the Elk Scenic Byway.  We feel blessed to live in this beautiful state and be able to enjoy all it has to offer!

I'm linking this post to the following blog events:

Thank you to all the blog hosts!

Bookmark and Share