More garden sculpture than birdhouse, each creation by Dianna Giese is a found-object tour de force, weathered-wood creations with architectural details fashioned out of rusted metal hinges, old bits of trellis, bent kitchen utensils, cast-off bolts and screws, cast-iron finials and the like. Like any dedicated garbage collector worth her salt, Giese just happened upon her birdhouse-building vocation by chance: She found a few neat things in the hills and put them together in an interesting way; before long, everyone who saw the results wanted one of their own. What a tweet.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas: Judy, Judy, Judy makes it easy with the re-gifting barrel it sets out every holiday season. Go ahead and help yourself to someone's white elephant -- but be sure to leave that awful reindeer sweater your Aunt Sue made for you for the next lucky customer who comes along. This is the gift that keeps on giving.
First of all, seed-beading, like many kinds of needlework, is no easy craft. Not only is it impossibly tiny work, but it also requires a near-maniacal attention for detail. In the sage words of somebody's grandmother, you could go blind. So figuring out how Louisville beader Hermann fashions her three-dimensional, six-inch beaded Christmas trees is simply confounding. Don't even try. Just know that they're as sweet as can be. Hermann also makes hair ornaments and jewelry and gilded bouquets that look perky poking out of a small glass bottle. (We found some last winter at the Denver Botanic Gardens' annual holiday sale.)

All thrift stores are not created equal. The merchandise at the Salvation Army's Northglenn location, just off 1-25, ranges from practical to playful, with prices that always remain within a safe zone. And though the store stocks a respectable selection of staples like furniture, clothing and housewares, its signature item is the church-style organ. The Army's south wall is lined with reasonably priced congregational castoffs, shellacked contraptions with delightful names like the Wurlitzer Wonder and Swinger 2000. Most of the store's organs have working pedals and programmed features, like the ubiquitous "rock beat" tempo control, which you are free to test. On a good day, one of the store's employees may even offer to deliver your new instrument to your home (for a fee). Better still, there's no waiting list.

What could be better on a sunny Saturday morning than this stroll through a wonderland of hand-picked junk and one-of-a-kind treasures? Spearheaded by the folks who run Details, a downtown Littleton bath and body shop, the market debuted last summer to delighted crowds, and this year expands from four to five shopping opportunities, offered on the first Saturday of the month, from May through September. And it's a small but classic market, with a little bit of everything -- from the perfect sturdy covered cake platter to a hand-sewn cotton girl's pinafore in aqua, festooned with purple flowers, for only four bucks. What else? The usual what-have-you, including garden ornaments, cheerful salt-and-peppers in the shape of a family of robins, rustic handcrafts, old and new jewelry and vintage linens are only a few of the things that await patient shoppers. Wear a sun hat, as it can get warm on a summer day, but if you start to fade, you can always duck into Details or truck down Main to Olde Town Antiques for indoor browsing.

Market founder Leslie Lee of the Cherry Creek North shop Willow Antiques says last year's early-September cold snap put a damper on this event's debut, but face it: It's an opportunity just begging to happen, a classy array of local and out-of-town dealers offering high-end jewelry, pieces of eight and gold doubloons, cabin furniture, shabby chic furnishings, lacy christening gowns, quilts and camp blankets, prints, and a little of everything under the sun in outdoor booths at a convenient and central location. So, Lee notes, the market will go on, bigger and better, expanding to two sessions this year -- one at the end of May and the other in early September.

There's no better rite of summer than spending a blistering-hot Saturday or Sunday casing garage sales looking for toys, trinkets and good buys. But, darn it if garage-sale-hopping wouldn't be even better with something to cool you off -- something like ice cream. At least that's what Dalene Walker and Myron Peterson were thinking when they decided to let people hold garage sales in the parking lot of their northwest Denver Dairy Queen franchise. They got the idea after holding their own garage sale in the lot, which faces the high-traffic 38th Avenue, Peterson says, adding, "I don't know of any other Dairy Queen that does this." Holding a sale in the lot is free, and although not a lot of people took them up on the offer last year, the couple hopes to have a blizzard of activity this summer.

In this hectic day and age, we can't all spend our days cruising the mall for deals; even the most dedicated shopper could pop an artery (or at least twist an ankle) trying to keep up with every store. But in the last year, retail foraging got a little quicker and a little easier for Cherry Creek shoppers: Log on to the center's Web site, and you can register to receive these handy e-bulletins every Thursday, filled with personalized information on featured and sale items at your favorite stores. You'll never have to shop without an agenda again. Buy-buy, now.

Best Mall to Visit When You're Eight Months Pregnant

FlatIron Crossing

FlatIron Crossing
Women heavy with child or parents wrestling with strollers aren't handicapped in the traditional sense, but neither is it very easy for them to shlep a mile or two before reaching a store. Recognizing that, FlatIron Crossing has designated two spaces near handicapped spots at every major entrance to the shopping center for "new and expectant parent parking." Talk about a special delivery.

You may recall Snuglis, those front-slung baby carriers created in the 1970s by Mike and Ann Moore of Evergreen, who modeled them after an idea they picked up in the Peace Corps in Africa. After their grandkids came along, the Moores saw a need for new, improved Snuglis. The new carriers can hold children in many positions and -- bonus! -- can be adjusted to fit children as they grow. Also, Weego now manufactures Weego for Preemies, currently the only baby carrier around for premature babies. Here Weego!

Best Of Denver®

Best Of