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an extra-extended aspen recap, and an apology.

By 7/15/2018

i feel like i owe you some 411 (can we bring that back) on what i'm doing in aspen so much these days.  i realize i just came in hot one day on instagram, and was like 'cash me outside aspen, how bout dat' and you were probably like 'who dis?'.   believe me, sometimes i feel the same -- who is dis?

so in the interest of us still being friends, let's dive into that story a bit.

tad, my manfriend, moved to the house in aspen with his mom and sisters when he was 9.  he grew up there, went to boulder for college, and then left to live his best life around the world -- his mom and sisters also left, and the house has stayed in the woods, visited now and again, but mostly in the company of the creek, steady in the backyard, and the mice, scurrying from the pantry to their mousehomes.

and it's not aspen proper, it's snowmass.  old snowmass, to be exact, which is about 15 miles northwest of aspen.  locals refer to it as 'down valley', (dunno why not 'up valley'?) and you've probably seen i'm in basalt a lot, and carbondale, and glenwood springs.  these are towns right off highway 82 as you head north out of aspen.  they are pretty amazing communities, that i'm learning about, and learning to love.  the people, the food, the trails and mountains, the coffee shops, the stories and the history.  there's magic happening all over the valley and it's really special to have the opportunity to call another place 'home' - i've never lived anywhere but north carolina.  i was hesitant to claim colorado as such, because adulting generally is just full of weirdness and uncertainly, but the place has permeated my subcutaneous apathetic self, and now i'm engaged with it.

we're spending a week or two a month there, seeing how it lives, seeing what it needs.  what we need while we're there.  it's an entirely different way of designing or decorating than i've ever done.  more thoughtful.  there's a huge mess of history there that i can't just sweep out the door.  so I'm trying to understand.  the house, the town, the people, tad, his family, and me.  what do i want to do there?  is this a place for me?

i've been hesitant to show you guys pictures, or give real updates on the 'project' because it just feels so different.  it's not all pretty patterns and coffee table books and ironic chintz and shit - it's a family home that's ran a marathon, and is very tired, so we're breathing a new life slowly into it.  slow like the patient deep breaths you take when you're trying to get a grip -- whereas many of the decisions i've made in the past have been in a huff during full scale sprints (to nowhere).

with that said, i'm realizing that once again i didn't give you, my blog friend, enough credit.  i think you're ok with me sharing some not-so-pretty stuff.  with some real life, mouse pooped, cob-webbed, honest, amazing stories of what's really going on in colorado.  in my life.

if you still have a pulse after reading all that, let's get to the fun stuff, shall we?  i just got back from a really good trip - jeff, one of my bffs in raleigh, joined me for a few days and we had a time, just the two of us.  i got to see aspen through his eyes, and that was special.   tad got in several days later and we celebrated the 4th in town (so fun), worked on the house a little, experienced an unbelievably scary and marvelous forest fire, and ate sushi.  see, i'll show you...

rowdy was able to come with me this trip - he adds such a great energy to the house. there's not much better than a pup running around, excited to see you when you get home, and ready to start his day at sunrise, panda firmly gripped in his dogsnout.

Jeff decreed that the creperie in downtown aspen was his favorite restaurant - maybe like ever. he's right - it's perfectly executed. all the french alpine bistro vibes, down to the st Bernard you'll find lounging on the patio during the winter.

we were able to catch a few of the panels at the aspen ideas festival - this one was my favorite: 'after #metoo, the way forward for women in the media'. moderated by Susan Page with panelists Katie Couric, Mona Charen, Adrienne Green (managing editor at the Atlantic and 25!), Shannon Van Sant, and Rebecca Blumenstein (managing editor of NYT!).

goop opened a pop-up in aspen a few weeks ago - I was excited to stop by and check it out.  I have to say, I'm pretty fascinated by the lifestyle brand she's created --I mean,  she's killing it.  the clothes were great, and i loved these foundrae rings so hard.  I think I might have to go back for these pants, and I also enjoy these.  and this, good lord!, it's attractive.  a lot of goodness.  goopness.  whatever.

I did get these pants - and felt myself pretty thoroughly in them. 

now we've covered the geography of it all, and you know where basalt is, you'll most definitely need to plan a little morning trip over to have breakfast at two rivers, and go see my friend butch, who just opened this little lobster shack next door. how cute, right? look at those brass lamps on the bar - he did a really good job.

Shepard Fairey painted a new mural downtown so Jeff and I went to chronicle our lewks in front of it, of course.  btw, fave jeans a la momente (made that up)

speaking of lewks, this was our horse-riding one. we did a two hours little loop near maroon bells and it was breathtaking. we left from the t-lazy 7 ranch and rode up to see pyramid peak, all the while perched high-up on a little trail overlooking the river. for exceeded our expectations, and i definitely recommend if you're in town.

this is a tiny pup nugget named mave that our friends just brought home. she's a poodle and an austrailian shepherd!

in decorating news - we've been on the lookout for a big sectional for the living room. this is the current sofa situation: three matching little velvet loveseats from the late 80s that we pushed together to simulate a sectional. 

and hark if you don't know it, Jeff and I stumbled into the habitat for humanity restore in glenwood springs and found this! a kravet custom made 10' x 10' sectional with down cushions for a freaking steal. it needs a quick steam clean, but I tell you what, it was 1/10th of the price of a new sofa. score!

and yes, I bought this. and it's coming home to Raleigh in august. and I am now changed forever.  at least we've chronicled my life before, here on the blog, so we can look back and compare one day.

if you even have the capacity to care about anything anymore after your excitement over the tiger couch, I also found this cool rug at the restore.

And this one - I think we might make into a headboard

plus I found some cool lamps. restore is the spot to be. I swear if you come and buy the things before I get them I will die. I won't. but things like this make me feel competitive. like lining up for southwest flights. I am not my best self.

rowdy was fully and completely his best self in the creek behind the house. he found a never-ending game of fetch with the current - he would drop his stick or ball and literally be amazed every time it scooted off downstream in the current. like 'mom, is this for real - I'm gonna chase it!'.

he felt equal parts at being showcased at the Jerome hotel. really a dog about town.

hiking the hay park trail as the sun was setting

and last, but the opposite of least - there was a pretty gnarly forest fire while we were there. I snapped this pic on July 3rd driving to dinner. a pretty small fire had just started, and while it was fairly foreboding and smokey, we had no idea that the next night it would turn into a full blown, 5000 acre, raging wildfire.

tad and I watched in total disbelief as the winds kicked up on July 4th and sent the fire down valley in communities where our friends lived, and worked.

by midnight, miles of the mountain were burning - and it looked like something out of a movie -- a fiery comic book hell. flames whipping up to 75 feet, plumes of black smoke billowing up to fill the entire sky. this photo shows the ridge.  directly behind our whole foods completely engulfed.  everyone was terrified the fire may jump the highway and move into the neighborhoods and developments.

I was scared. I had zero experience with fire. I didn't understand how it worked, how it behaved, how you fought it. I was torn - we need to get the whole entire fuck out of here, I told tad - but what about everyone else? what about this community where we're living? that's two rivers, the second building from the left, where we have breakfast every morning. what if it burns? these are our places, and our people. so we stayed. we watched this scene from across the street -- 747 jets were retrofitted to drop fire retardant on the ridge, in an attempt to stop the fire before it got to the homes. and it was amazing to see what the firefighters did - they saved towns. houses, and people. where they dropped the slurry lines, the fire eventually stopped. only three mobile homes were lost, and while that's a huge huge loss to those homeowners, it's exceptional that only 3 total burned. these amazing men and women fought around the clock to keep every safe. it was a humbling experience. awe-inspiring, and very frightening. I was so uncomfortable, but grateful to have seen, and felt something so majestic, so bigger than me.  needless to say, there were no fireworks on the 4th of July, but there was quite a show in the darkness, and people came together, to protect each other, and comfort their neighbors.  I can get into that kinda holiday spirit.


  1. I think it's amazing that you've discovered what a special place Colorado is, and I look forward to your Aspen posts (and all your other posts too if I'm being honest)! We have an old family cabin in the mountains of New Hampshire that's seen better days - my husband and I have a dream of fixing it up, so the transformation of the Aspen house is very inspiring. I hope you share more of it!

  2. Loved this post. It's nice to know that not all design projects are perfectly styled vignettes and brand-new everything. Thanks Jamie!

  3. Thank you for that monumental post. Loved it.

  4. That tiger sofa is amazing! Can’t wait to hear more about your time in CO.

  5. Great post. Loved everything. Unfortunately, as we in California know, with climate change the West is getting dryer and fires are getting earlier and earlier in the year and more devastating.

  6. You'll need to verify with your tax professional, but I believe your ReStore purchases are tax deductible (since Habitat is a 501c3). So you get awesome sofas at crazy low price--and it's a tax deduction.

  7. Thanks for the update! Been wondering how it all works these days for you! Still love all your finds, feels, etc... and so glad you and your community survived the fire. That IS scary!

  8. What a phenomenal post. Amazing. And that couch is everything. So great.