Intermittent Fasting (IF), Alternate Day Fasting & T25 Focus: My Experience & Review 10 weeks in…(Hint: It’s Mostly Good)

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Unless you’ve been shacked up somewhere in the Arctic Circle (heck, even they probably have WiFi now), you’ve heard of Intermittent Fasting and Alternate Day Fasting, and have seen those T25 Infomercials whilst polishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s on a Friday Night. (We’ve all been guilty of that at least once). Well I’ve jumped on those bandwagons and I’m here to give you my full report.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is NOT an endorsement of any particular diet or fitness program. It is simply my personal experience with these programs. We are all different, every body is different, and you should explore multiple options and decide for yourself what plan is the best fit for your lifestyle. And of course, consult your Doctor, dietitian, psychic, astrologer, are whoever it is you trust for diet and exercise advice. (Note: PLEASE do not fill my comments section with what I should/should not be doing or negative rants. I won’t post them, fyi. Positive comments and questions are always welcome. Thanks!)

A little background on my situation. As I confessed in a previous “Beauty & Fitness” post, the Bod had seen better days. A rough year contributed to falling off the exercise wagon and lots and lots of comfort food. I decided enough was enough, so I started back on near daily work-outs a few months ago, and started researching some of the newly publicized approaches to eating I’d been reading about. (I’ve always been an avid nutrition and exercise researcher). I was looking for an easy and sustainable way to go about this. I have been, like so many of you ladies reading this I’m sure, a life-long dieter. I’m over it. This time I wanted to take the slow and safe road. No more starvation! No more weirdness! (Remember the Cabbage Soup Diet? Yikes!) I love to cook, I love to bake, and I love to eat. I love my coffee with cream and sugar (ok, Agave). I love the occasional tasty cocktail or glass of red wine (or two). The last thing I want to do when I eat out is worry about what I can order. I’m a total foodie and enjoy the Hell out of good food and want to keep enjoying it. And, I want to feel FULL and satisfied after a meal. Is it possible to still have all this and lose fat off the Bod too? I knew there had to be a way. The studies on fasting looked promising, stating fat loss without muscle loss, and better health overall. There are two basic popular approaches making the rounds right now, and I tried them both. (FYI I’ve been walking this planet 45 years, am 5′ 4″, in good health, and have 20-25 pounds of fat yet to shed)

Alternate Day Fasting at first sounded like the answer. The theory is, “Fast” about every other day, eating 500 calories (or 25% of normal) on your fast days, and eat about 125% of your normal daily calories on the eating days. (You can read more about what Alternate Day Fasting is here: http://www.shape.com/blogs/weight-loss-coach/cheaters-guide-fasting or just Google “Alternate-Day Fasting”) I gave this method an honest 2-week go. In short, I hated it. I was a big fat (no pun intended) FAIL at this approach. It may work great for some people, but the fast days were murder for me. By Mid-afternoon I felt weak, fatigued, and jello-legged. I had low energy and could hardly get through my work-outs, let alone put in a strong effort. I also found that I tended to pig out more on my eat days. Then I just felt bloated and gross. After a couple weeks of this torture, I switched to a different method referred to as Intermittent Fasting.

In Intermittent Fasting, you do all your daily eating within a small window of time. Theories on this vary, but the daily “Eating Window” will generally be between 4-8 hours, then nothing for 20-14 hours, or abstaining from food for a full 24 hour period (say, from 6pm-6pm the next day) a couple times a week. (You can read about Intermittent Fasting here: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2013/06/28/intermittent-fasting-health-benefits.aspx or Google “Intermittent Fasting”) This approach made a lot of sense to me for a few reasons, mostly because I’m not hungry in the morning. It never made sense to me that I should force-feed myself a morning meal when my body was saying it didn’t want anything, but I did it anyway as that was the prevailing wisdom. I should have listened to my body instead. I started nice and easy into the intermittent fasting with the largest eating window (8 hours), and was able to pretty quickly go to a 6-hour window comfortably. Note: I am not pigging out in the eating window! I eat pretty darn healthy most of the time, I am a vegetarian and do most of my own cooking. (One of the perks of working at home.) There was an adjustment period to be sure, while my body got used to the program, but I am really digging it now! The best part is, I don’t get hungry. I can eat a big meal if I want, and I feel full. I have noticed my cravings for carbs and sugar have really decreased, and I’m full on less food. I have more energy as well, and have no problem giving it my all during work-outs. And yes, I am losing weight! Almost 10 pounds gone so far (my goal is 3-4 pounds a month, and I’m right on track.) I have made a few adjustments to the basic program that are working really well for me. Here is what I’m doing: 5-6 days a week, I practice Intermittent Fasting. I eat nothing (I do drink a lot of water and have a cup of black coffee in the morning) for 18 hours, then eat about 1200-1400 calories during my 6-hour Eating Window. (For me, that’s Noon-6pm, though it can be any period of time that is convenient, and I don’t beat myself up if I’m a little off). This makes eating easy-peasy. I usually have one good-sized meal, then a smaller meal later. One or two days a week I give myself a break, usually on the weekends. I am a believer in the “Cheat Day” theory, in that if you have a good cheat day once a week or so, your body will not get used to a consistent lower calorie intake and slow down your metabolism. So far this has held true for me, (no plateaus!), and besides, it’s fun 😉 I don’t go totally crazy on the days off, I still eat pretty healthy, but I eat what I want and do have a treat or two. (For example, Saturday Morning Pancakes are a tradition in my house, and I’m still making (and eating) them most every weekend!) I usually consume 2000-2500 calories on these days. In addition, I always work out in a “Fasted State”, meaning I work out during the Fasting Window. This works great for me as I like to work out in the morning. The theory is, the body will burn directly from your fat stores instead of from any food you have in your system. The bottom line is, I feel good, I have energy, I do not feel in any way deprived, and this is totally sustainable for me. Yay! And speaking of working out…

T25 Focus. As of today, I’ve completed 10 weeks of T25. A little background: I’ve worked out on and off most of life, and have pretty much done it all. What I have stuck with through the years is calisthenics and weight-lifting, because they work. I have a pretty good fitness foundation overall, despite falling out of the routine from time to time. Last year (motivated by an upcoming trip to Burning Man) I completed both Insanity and P90X back to back. These are both great programs and really did work for me, but admittedly, it’s a big time commitment. So when Shaun T (Insanity) came out with T25, I was all over it. He promised a great workout in just 25 minutes, and I have to say, he delivers. I sweat more with this program than I have with any other. After 10 weeks, I feel like I’ve got my muscle-mojo back. I did get winded and struggle at first (after a pretty long break in regular work-outs, that’s to be expected) but I’m getting stronger every week and doing very well with it now. You have to put a real effort in, but it does pay off. And it’s only 25 minutes! (plus 3 minutes for the cool-down). The short time has been key for me to stick with it. When the work-outs were over an hour, it was much easier to make excuses and skip a work-out. Now, I have no excuse. I tell myself “it’s only 25 minutes!” And I get it done. I’ve only missed 1 workout in 10 weeks, and was feeling rather ill that day. I plan on repeating “Beta” (I am determined to totally keep up with the videos for every workout, and I’m getting close!) then I will move on to Gamma. (T25 has 3 sections, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, each increasing in intensity). I do plan on integrating more weight-lifting back into my routine after completing Gamma (there is some in T25, but I like more 😉

In the final analysis, it’s all mental. I’ve stopped torturing myself. I’ve stopped beating myself up when I have a bad day. I only weigh myself once or twice a month (read: no more obsessing over the scale! It’s very liberating.) I’m being kind to myself and taking it easy. No one is perfect, we all eat too much, drink too much, or miss a work-out once in a while, and it’s ok. Life is too short to suffer, and I refuse to do it anymore. Maybe a plan like this will work for you, and maybe it won’t. Explore your options, try new things, and be good to yourself, always. It’s your life, and you deserve for it to be Fabulous.

WIN THIS MASK! Score this gorgeous handmade mask from Artsmyths Studio, just in time for Halloween!

WIN THIS MASK! Score this gorgeous handmade mask just in time for Halloween from nationally known mask maker extraordinaire Tiffany Smyth’s Artsmyths Studio!

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This handmade and hand-painted leather mask is gorgeous as well as light-weight and comfortable to wear. You’ll be the talk of the party in this beauty! The contest ends October 14th and the mask will be shipped to the winner right away so you’ll have it in plenty of time for your Halloween shenanigans. (the Winner may alternately choose a $70 Gift Card to Artsmyths!) Here’s how to enter:

There are TWO STEPS and both must be completed in order to be entered into the contest:

#1. FOLLOW this blog using the “FOLLOW” button above to the left, or the “Bloglovin'” button to the right.

#2. LIKE Artsmyth’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ArtsMyths

Plus, Earn a SECOND ENTRY by SHARING this blog post on your Facebook or Twitter! (Just tag me so I know you shared. Facebook: @theyearoflivingfabulously, Twitter: @livethefablife) Use the links at the bottom of the post.

The contest runs from Monday, September 23, 2013 through Monday, October 14, 2013 at 12pm Noon Central Mountain Time. Winner will be selected by random drawing after 12pm on Monday, October 14, 2013, from all completed entries (both steps described above must be completed). Winner will be notified by email and/or Facebook message and their name will be announced on this blog by 5pm Monday, October 14, 2013. The winner will have until 12pm Wednesday October 16, 2013 to respond with their address for shipment of the prize. If the first person selected does not respond in time, another name will be randomly selected as the alternate winner. One winner, one prize. Winner may choose to receive a $70 Gift Card in lieu of the mask shown above, however winner will be responsible for any shipping costs of goods and price of any mask over and above $70. The retail value of this prize is $76 plus shipping cost (if mask above is chosen), or $70 if the gift certificate is chosen. Prize must be redeemed by December 31, 2013. (Please Note that if the gift certificate is chosen and used for a Custom Order, depending on the mask it may take up to 3 months and may not be ready by Halloween 2013) Employees and relatives of Artsmyths and the Year of Living Fabulously are not eligible to enter the contest.

See all the beautiful handmade and custom masks from Artsmyth’s Studio here: WWW.ARTSMYTHS.COM Here is just a small sampling of the masks available:

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Please join us at Artsmyth’s on October 5th for ArtSmyths’ Halloween Boxed Wine & Wear Bazaar! 10-15% off Everything, and, wine and cookies! Here’s all the information:https://www.facebook.com/events/521837314567097/

How I Made a Tropical Backyard Oasis in Denver on a Cheap-Ass Budget

The air is cooling, (I actually had to put on a sweater last night). Fall is upon us, and all too soon I’ll be putting the garden to bed and hauling out the snow shovel. With that in mind, I thought I’d share my yard with you before the first frost hits and I’m crying over shriveled leaves.

The backyard is ever a work-in-progress. A constant battle to create something that feels tropical in dry-as-a-rattlesnake-fart Denver. (OK, MOST of the time it is dry here, the recent crazy rains not withstanding) I think this year is the best yet for my little tropical oasis. Ready for the tour? Here we go…

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This is the view coming out our backdoor. That “L” shaped thing is the pond. It was a planting bed until 3 years ago when we had a wee stinky sewer line leak. I bribed the diggers to dig out the pond, too. (It’s amazing what men will do for homemade chocolate chip cookies.) The lotus mural on the garage wall I painted to cover up a bad repair job, and I wanted some color back there in the Winter when all is plain and dark. The vines running across the garden are Virginia Creeper that has been growing on the far North side of the yard for years, trained on strings of white lights that run from the gazebo to the big tree. They just keep getting thicker every year. I tucked a little hanging Spanish Moss on them to enhance the tropical look.

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To the left of the pond is this oddly leaning tree that I dolled up with bromelaids this year. (You can see the how-to on that one by clicking “Bromelaids”) And of course the coolest cheap garden lighting ever is at the base of the tree.

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Our poor Ganesha fountain here has seen better days. He is the victim of an unfortunate freezing incident in which he lost 3 of his four arms and most of his legs, though his face remains intact. I think it makes him look like an ancient relic. I especially like the ball of moss growing on the tip of his trunk. We’ve found the glass flowers at various yard sales for a couple bucks a piece. I love my little pond. The water iris with it’s leaves overflowing the pond started as divisions given to us by a neighbor are now completely taking over (anyone want some Water Iris? Seriously…) We have a hardy water lily that has somehow survived 3 Colorado winters and seems quite happy. There are 2 big koi, “Ghost” and “Spot”, a big fat fancy goldfish (named “Fatty”, I don’t have much imagination for names), and what was once a mere feeder goldfish, “Tiny”, who is now quite pretty and not so tiny anymore. They are rather camera-shy, but I did manage to snap a picture of Spot, who is now over 10″ long. (He was under 4″ when we got him) All our fish came from Petsmart.

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The area along the fence is dark and dank and it’s nearly impossible to grow anything there, so all the plants are in pots. That monster tree philodendron was purchased at a yard sale for $10 when he had only 5 leaves. The thing has gone crazy this summer. I have no idea how I’ll get it back in the house for Winter. Almost all the ceramic pots were alley finds, a few from the thrift store. I bring all the houseplants out into the yard in the Spring. The plants are happy and really help to fill in the yard. I scored 5 more houseplants from a nice guy on Craigslist for free this Summer as well. The dwarf bananas in the big pots I bought last year, and they were super-easy to overwinter. You just pull them out of the pot, hack off the leaves and stick them in a box or bag, leave them in the basement and forget about them till the next Spring. I did buy a few sweet potato vines and coleus this year, but everything else I over-wintered from last year. The metal pedestals were surprisingly cheap. I bought them about 4 years ago, all three were about $60. (OK I admit I got them wholesale) And you’ll note two more of those awesome cheap garden lights on the ground.

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The iron and wood seats were here when I moved in, I just painted them white. The table was another fab alley find, as were the ceramic pieces on top. One of my neighbors is a potter. She sometimes puts “off” pieces in the alley. Love that! She came to a party here and loved what I did with these. The big wood candlesticks were found dumpster diving as well. I’ve had the white candles forever, purchased years ago at Big Lots.

What makes these plants look so good? Levels! The secret to a great display. Nothing fancy here, the pots in the back are up on top of other pots turned upside down.

Here’s a view looking back at the house, and Emma, my little pug-ham, getting in on the action.

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The North side of the garden is our ever-popular Gazebo (click for more details). It was easier than it looks, and everything in it came from yard sales and thrift stores.

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Looking out of the gazebo into the yard…

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And lastly, the Golden Duck, sitting on the edge of the pond, hidden in the Water Iris. Another great alley find.

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This concludes our little Backyard Oasis Tour. I hope you enjoyed it!

Find of the (Almost Every) Week, September 17, 2013

It’s time for Find of the Week!

This week’s 2 Goodwill Goodies are totally different but equally Fabulous.

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I cannot keep the pugs off this luxurious sheepskin throw. (Can you blame them?) It’s super-thick and in great shape. Cost: $12! The gorgeous shoes are a deep red patent leather by Stuart Weitzman. I LOVE these peep-toe pumps, perfect for Fall! They look like they were only worn a couple times. Cost: $8! Lucky Me!

What Fabulous Finds have you scored lately? I’d love to hear about them in the Leave a Reply/Comments section.

How-To DIY Found Dresser Make-Over for the Rock Star Glam Bedroom

 

The Dresser is DONE! Hallelujah. 

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We found this big vintage boy last year in the alley just a block away. It’s big and heavy and solid as hell. It even has wheels! There was some minor damage that was easily fixed. (see pics below) It’s been sitting in the garage about a year. (You should have seen us rolling this thing down the alley and across a busy street. It was hysterical!) I couldn’t work on it over the Winter as it was too cold to paint out there, and I was searching for the right pulls and knobs (“right” = cheap or free 😉 and the Spring/early Summer was all about other projects around the house, so in the garage it sat. I started in on this a couple weeks ago after finding great pulls and knobs at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. All 9 knobs cost a whopping $12!

First I removed all the hardware, then came the patching and the sanding. Lots and lots of sanding. I still probably should have done more. Note to self: Always sand more than you think you need to! In my search for knobs I was unable to find any that matched the current holes in the drawers, so I filled the holes with wood filler. (I’ll show you later how I drilled holes for my new pulls & knobs)

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Next came the paint. I used primer and paint-in-one (in Hot Pink). This was some very thirsty wood, it drank up 5 coats. I applied the paint with a quality 4″ brush. I tried the additive “Flotrol” for the first time, which is supposed to eliminate brush and roller marks. I would say it lessened them at best.

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After the first 2 coats…

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When the 5 coats were thoroughly dry, it was time to get creative with the finish. My man said it was “way to freaking pink” so I decided to tone it down a bit. I did a fast sort-of antiquing finish with watered-down black paint (about 50/50). It’s simple, looks good, and frankly, visually covers a multitude of paint and surface sins. You just brush on the watery black paint, being sure to get it well into the cracks, then immediately wipe it down with a rag. You have to move quickly before the paint starts to dry.

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When the finish was dry, I coated the whole deal with gloss clear coat. I love high gloss. It makes almost anything look good. Silly me bought only one can of clear coat (Rustolium Lacquer in gloss), which was enough to do all the drawers and the fronts, but not the top. Fortunately I had a pint of gloss polyurethane in the art studio so I painted 3 coats on the top and sides (yes, I was too lazy to go to the hardware store and buy another can of spray Lacquer. So sue me.)

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I let everything dry outside for 3 days before bringing it in to reduce paint fumes as much as possible. Then it was knob-time!

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I started by creating a template for drilling the hole as there were 6 to be drilled. This made it super-easy. I cut a piece of cardboard to fit very snugly inside the face, then measured for the exact center, then for placement of the pull holes around the center point. I had to do it twice. I triple-checked the measurement before I began. Last thing I wanted to do was have to re-patch, re-paint and re-drill holes!

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I put a piece of masking tape where I would be drilling (painter’s tape would have been even better). This makes for a cleaner drill hole. Then it was time to drill! I used a bit slightly larger than my screws, and just drilled carefully straight down.

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Here’s a tip: Once I had the first one drilled, I tried to pull out my template, and couldn’t get it out! The fit was a little too snug. I folded over a piece of packing tape to make a tab on the end of the cardboard template for easy removal. Worked great.

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Success! First pull attached. Now for the other 5. And, done!

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The hardest part of all this was getting the dresser up the stairs. Let me tell you, that thing is long and HEAVY! Even without the drawers it had to be about 100 pounds. I’m still amazed the man and I were able to do it. It suffered a couple dings here and there, but it made it. Now the fun part. Merchandising! Of course the pugs have to get in on the act.

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The next morning I realized I had forgotten a lamp I had set aside for the dresser, so I rearranged a bit…(see the cow skull project HERE)

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And I will probably be tweaking it again, but for now, I’m satisfied. Dresser. DONE! Total cost for paint and knobs about $35. Only one project left to go in the Rock Star Glam Bedroom, coming soon!

 

Notes about Stuff:

Dresser: Found in alley (free) knobs and paint, about $35

Lucite lamp: Base found in alley, shade $5 at Goodwill.

Books: All 3 were treasured gifts.

White frame: $4 at Goodwill.

Crystals, glass art, and bases: Yard sales and auctions.

Clear Lucite stand under TV: Found in alley (this one right behind the house!)

Stereo: Another fabulous alley find. Works great!

Hanging fish bowls: $5 each at Goodwill. New in box! Betas from Petsmart. (Named Red Fish & Blue Fish)

Large Mirror: Yard sale, $15 (was gold, now painted gloss black).

Disco Ball: $25, Ebay.

 

An Industrial Found-Object Garden Delights! More Fun Ideas to Steal for Your Garden…

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Deep in the Heart of the industrial Rino Arts District lurks a little Secret Garden full of recycled wonder. The immensely talented artist duo Sabin Aell and Randy Rushton took a run-down industrial factory space and transformed it into something Ultra-Cool. The building now houses not only Sabin and Randy, but the art gallery Hinterland, assorted artist work spaces, and a very large wood and metal shop where Randy creates beautiful furniture and fixtures from recycled and reclaimed materials. (Custom by Rushton) The inside of the space is killer, but I will make you wait to see it until another time. This post is all about the funky little garden they have created out behind the building…

It should come as no surprise that this little garden, carved out of what was a dirt parking area, is all about recycled and found objects. Everything here was reclaimed. Watch for clever use of materials…

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Just outside Randy’s shop area is this interesting assortment of metal bits and funky odds and ends, lovingly curated and placed. When in doubt, let it rust! I do dig the patina…Note the gorgeous planter on the left. One of Randy’s creations of course.

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Moving on to the main garden area, we find hidden creatures, interesting pots from tree stumps (great idea!), old metal containers as pedestals, driftwood and other fascinating found objects.

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Love the half-doll, going head first down the planed stump. Very Alice-in-Wonderland.

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The little robot under the table is delightful.

Almost everything in the seating area was found or salvaged. A no-cost garden is possible!

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Probably my favorite thing in the garden. Old fry baskets as planters.

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And last but not least, another one of Randy’s lovely planters.

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I had a blast exploring Randy and Sabin’s garden, I hope you did too. I promise to blog about the inside of their amazing space soon.

Thank you Sabin and Randy!

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FIRST FRIDAY in Denver and Fun Abounds! Lots of Free Goodness to be had this Weekend.

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At Pattern Shop Gallery,  John Fudge – Hello Rusty (Existential Pain #1) – Oil On Canvas, 17 x 19 inches, From the Collection of Karen Holen Lyda
There’s a lot of Free Goodness to get out and enjoy as this fine Summer starts to wind down…
Of Course this Friday is FIRST FRIDAY! All the Art Districts are sure to be in full force. (September is one of the busiest First Fridays of the year) Get out and see some art! See the Denverarts.org listing at the end of this post for all the art openings this weekend (and beyond)
You may want to add to your usual First Friday gallivanting: the South Broadway First Friday Block Party: Galleries, restaurants, bars and shops on Broadway between First and Alameda avenues host receptions, fashion/trunk shows, live music and special promotions monthly.
Saturday is FREE DAY at the DAM (Denver Art Museum) I highly recommend getting there when they open at 10am.
Saturday is the yearly Day of Bicycle Debauchery known as Tour De Fat. Hundreds of people dressed weird on wacky bikes. And Live Music. And good Food. And Beer. Can’t beat that! The event is free (though there may be a fee to do the actual ride, and obviously the food and beer is NOT free) https://www.facebook.com/events/461504710589142/
Saturday The Valverde Market returns for it’s second go-round in full force. Seriously, there is some cool sh%t here. The event is free, but bring some cash because you will find something great to take home. https://www.facebook.com/events/529334020466568/
Sunday September 8 is FREE Day at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. http://www.dmns.org
And now, with out further ado, here is the famous denverarts.org events calender for the next week:

[Upcoming Events from the DenverArts.org Calendar]

September 05, 2013
September 06, 2013
September 07, 2013
September 11, 2013