For parents with small children, there's nothing as precious as a good babysitter. A commodity rarer than diamonds, they are coveted, fought over tooth and nail and meted out as special favors; if the kids actually like them, they're locked away like a Fort Knox treasure. But if your best gal pals are hoarding theirs and the perfect au pair doesn't conveniently live next door, what's an R&R-deprived parent to do? Log on to MommyMixer and sign up for the next local event, that's what. The national phenomenon, which debuted last year in Denver, is a speed-matching mixer, usually offered at a boutique (with discounted shopping on the side), where moms and dads and potential night-out nannies can meet, greet and strike up a working relationship.
San Francisco's loss is Denver's gain: When Jil Cappuccio packed up her vintage Singer Featherweight sewing machine to move here, she brought a whole new flavor to the fashion scene. We especially like Jil's easy-going menswear — untucked, swingin' Neal Cassady shirts for guys and tiki prints for little boys (Jil has two boys of her own) — but she clearly understands the needs of the common woman. Her arsenal of real-women's apparel includes loose, boxy, impeccably lined and tailored jackets in fun prints; equally well-stitched, lined market bags; trademark shifts that can be worn jumper style over jeans in the winter and by themselves in the summer; A-line skirts with patch packets; and singular coats like you wouldn't believe, sewn in fake fur, wool houndstooth and other off-the-wall fabrics. She also carries clothes by a shortlist of other local designers (Lele Knitwear's folkloric separates, modern originals by Garden Girl, and sweetly restructured sweaters and blouses by Kirsten Coplans, embellished with huge buttons and contrasting rickrack), all of which fits together in a pretty patchwork in Jil's tiny nook off Colfax.
Women flock to downtown Littleton for this recurring event, where a $10 wristband entitles participants to a bagful of free samples, snacks and drinks, coupon books and a chance to check out all that the area's lively retail merchants have to offer. An open house, neighborhood stroll and gentle evening out all rolled up into one big night, the original Sample Tours have been such a success that this May the concept will spread to Littleton's sister historic shopping districts, including Old South Pearl and Gaylord streets, Olde Town Arvada and downtown Golden, for a mass metro-area spree. Choose your poison, ladies.
What's a responsible, DUI-averting drunkard to do at 2 a.m., when repeat calls to Metro Taxi and Yellow Cab yield nothing but busy signals? Rather than join the drunken masses attempting to hail a cab from the sidewalk, try Freedom Cab. Freedom's understated lavender taxis aren't as fast or as flashy as those that boast the 3s and 7s. But the dispatchers usually answer on the first or second ring, and drivers tend to show up within ten minutes, even on busy Saturday nights. It's the best call at last call.
Humane Society of Boulder Valley Training and Behavior Center
Every dog trainer this side of Cesar Millan knows that most of the job is about training the owners; even so, some mutts need a lot more whispering than others. The Humane Society of Boulder Valley offers a wide range of programs for different needs, from introductory workshops on "dog learning styles" to courses on puppy socialization and how to acclimate Shep to the arrival of a new baby. Most impressive, though, are the "Grumpy Growler" classes for those struggling with aggressive canines. Run by two instructors, limited to six dogs per session and costing $150 for a six-week course, this is no walk in the park. But it's cheaper than a lawsuit, and graduates swear by the results.
No one in her right mind would ever describe a routine mammogram as fun, but the folks at Porter Adventist's Breast Care Center do their very best to make it as pleasant — and easy — as possible. From the close-in free parking to the pamper-y dressing room, Porter strikes the perfect balance of workmanlike efficiency and gentle care. The procedure itself takes all of fifteen minutes, administered by skilled technicians using state-of-the-art digital equipment. Porter sends the results to both you and your doctor, and you're off the hook until next year — when you'll get a convenient reminder in the mail.
Think of it as a gossip circle — one that's several hundred strong. Highlands Mommies is far from the only neighborhood association around, but it stands out from the pack due to its size — at last count it included at least 500 northwest Denver mothers, most with pre-kindergarten-age children — and its keen use of the Internet. On their website, members have access to pages upon pages of recommended businesses (date-night venues, schools, day camps, child care, home contractors and health-care options are just a handful of the topics), and if you don't find what you're looking for there, you can fire off an e-mail to the HM mailing list — "Quick! I need to find the best mimosa in the neighborhood, RIGHT NOW!" — and within hours you'll have a friendly suggestion or twelve. If only the gals on Wisteria Lane had such a resource.
Moss Pink
There are flowers and then there are flowers — the sort that transport you to another time and place with their alluring placement or hint of exotic scent. Jil Schlisner of Moss Pink deals in the latter, designing elegant bouquets with an eye for both the unusual and the delicate, which might mean a prickly thorn apple will be juxtaposed with a fragrant rose, or a gentle fall of jasmine peeks from between artichoke-like protea blossoms. Right now, you're as likely as not to walk into Moss Pink and find beautiful golden and pink ranunculus, waxen hyacinths and striped tulips befitting an Old Master still life — but that varies, as Schlisner hand-picks every blossom daily. Walk in and vase the consequences.
Sous Le Lit Shoes and Accessories
Cheap and chic, that's how we like our shoes, and that's how we get them at Sous le Lit, where the latest thing in fine footwear fits every budget. Offering such young, trendy brands as Restricted, Report, Chinese Laundry and Blowfish, as well as classics like Nina, Sous le Lit (which means "under the bed" in French) proffers the style of a California girl, with lots of peep-toed, strappy pumps in bright colors, sling-backs, vegan shoes and dainty skimmers. To finish the look, there are lots of big bags and bling belts, too. Stroll on in — the shoe fits.
Goodwill
Courtesy Goodwill Industries of Denver Facebook page
Goodwill glitz? Who'da thunk it? This SoBo Goodwill outlet is the closest thing we've ever seen to Rodeo Drive in a thrift store. Okay — we jest. But the shiny, new, extra-large, two-floor budget boutique has plenty of racks ripe for the picking, with overflowing shelves of knick-knacks, a coffee nook, a book shop and a basement full of sports gear and furniture finds, as well as a hardworking staff with an out-of-the-ordinary Baker vibe. Our favorite section, though, is the "Trends" rack, where some of the store's best hand-me-downs hang. Anyone with a good imagination will know exactly what to do with these.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of