"There's a lot of magic involved with time travel," says Valerie Griffin, who first became entranced with costumery at the age of six, when her grandmother made an opulent southern-belle gown for her cat. As she grew up, Griffin did theater costumes for school plays; later, she worked the Halloween season in a shop in Arvada. Today she dances to her own piper when it comes to costume-making, and her creations usually start with reconstituted thrift-store finds that, with a little of the aforementioned magic and some guidance from antique patterns, she transforms into the Civil War-era, Cleopatra or Sergeant Pepper's garb she sees in her head. Give Griffin some time and space and she'll come up with whatever it is you need — or rent something from her private collection. It's dress-up at its best.
MoonDance Botanicals
It's springtime again, which means it's time for everybody's least-favorite activity: spring cleaning. As if scouring the house from top to bottom weren't daunting and un-fun enough, the cleaning products available in the supermarket tend to not be so great for the environment — or you, for that matter. And if you've got babies crawling around on the floor, using chemical-laden liquids might even be dangerous. That's where the Natural Cleaning Products class at MoonDance Botanicals comes in. For $20, learn to make your own herbal products that will clear your home of just as much dust and dirt as the hard-core grocery-store stuff but will keep you and your family much healthier. The class includes the main ingredients you need to tackle the most difficult cleaning issues, plus you'll create an all-purpose aromatherapeutic cleanser and a softly abrasive scrub. Clean is in.
Brewing coffee smells so good in the morning; the scent alone can take the edge off your sleepiness. And now there's another reason to perk up: Brothers David and Michael Hartkop have created Solar Roast Coffee, which uses patent-pending solar roasters, organic beans and is 100 percent carbon-neutral in its roasting. When the sun isn't shining, Solar Roast uses a standard shop roaster but purchases carbon-offset credits from solar-energy providers around the country. You can purchase the coffee online in sample packs, specially crafted blends, or single-origin organics. Go ahead, have another cup.
Colorado Mills
In fashion as in life, you've got to look like money to make money. But how to address the catch-22 of clothing when you're too broke to browse at a halfway decent store? At the Banana Republic Factory Store, a wallet-friendly wardrobe awaits even the lowliest corporate climber. The racks are lined with seasonal staples that bear a reasonable resemblance to the clothes at the "real" Banana, for about a third of the price. The clearance rack is an absolute treasure trove of cheap duds that will pass muster at any board meeting or job interview. It's a quick fix for a closet crisis.
Cook Street School of Culinary Arts
First dates can be tricky: Bars are loud, dinner leaves time for awkward silences, and movies aren't conducive to getting to know someone. But a cooking class is the perfect mix of talk and action. At Cook Street School of Fine Cooking, you can bond over the hands-on task of preparing food while mingling with the rest of the class. At the end, you enjoy the gourmet meal you created — classic French or Italian cuisine are among numerous choices — with a relaxing glass of wine. And with forty classes teaching technique as well as recipes, you can come back for a second, or even a third, date.
Shopping at Virgin Records for your music needs is, like, so mainstream. Take a hint from the folks at Suburban Home Records and the Vinyl Collective: Attend their Punk Rock Flea Market, which takes place on the second Saturday of each month from noon to 5 p.m. at the uber-hip 3 Kings Tavern, and browse the vinyl, used CDs and overstock T-shirts — not to mention the tables set up for bands, clothing shops, artists, fashion designers and more. While you shop, local musicians will add to the ambience with acoustic sets. And beer will be available, too. Oh, and there's no cover charge. How punk-rock is that?
Smiley Branch Library
"Free toys." There might not be a better combination of words in the English language (and that includes "open bar"). Just the thought of such an extravagance sends children — and their parents — into paroxysms of delight. Amazingly, such a thing actually exists, courtesy of the Denver Toy Library at the Denver Public Library's Smiley branch. Three times a week, the volunteer operation in the library's basement unlocks its stash of hundreds of toys, games and puzzles geared to ages zero to eight, as it's done for more than two decades, and the place turns into a romper room. Thankfully, you can check out three toys and take them home with you. Now, about that open bar...
Walking into DisRespectacles is a little like entering the Twilight Zone. Spooky glass eyeballs and vintage optometry equipment dot the room; you half-expect a depraved old doctor to appear holding a pair of bloody tongs. In reality, though, the staff is friendly and eager to help you navigate the wide selection, which includes everything from rhinestone-studded Elton John peepers to your ubiquitous black square specs. The store, which boasts two New York locations, has been featured in a number of national magazines, outfitting celebrities such as Lauren Bush and Chris Kattan. Best of all, DisRespectacles' retro appeal goes beyond the decor, with dozens of vintage glasses culled from collectors. It's a vision to behold.
Unity
Here's where you'll find sexy, swingy, swanky modern clothes for the skinny in you: slinky graphic tees, contemporary artisan looks, fabulous hippie bags, recycled masterpieces and even menswear and ultra-cute urban baby gear, all neatly hung around this little neighborhood shop in a house. But behind the pretty prêt-à-porter, there's another angle to the place, which is lit by energy-efficient bulbs and strives to carry lines that give back to the community by donating to charities or by using sustainable materials. Every purchase leaves the store in recycled wrappings, and that's an idea we can really dig: Unity is one clean, green machine.
Revolution Cleaners
Did you ever stop to ponder what causes that icky dry-cleaning smell? The main chemical culprit is perchloroethylene, a central-nervous-system depressant and carcinogen known to cause skin irritation, dizziness, headache, confusion, nausea, liver and kidney damage, unconsciousness and death. Now, that's something we all want next to our skin, right? Revolution Cleaners wants to change the way we dry-clean our clothes: In place of the perilous perc, Revolution uses reclaimed, toxin-free liquid CO2, a chemical that's easier on the environment, your body, your nose and even your clothes. The cleaner also uses hemp laundry bags and wind energy in its stores and fills up its delivery vans with biodiesel. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "Every generation needs a new revolution." The shoe fits, and so will your sweaters.

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