Illustrations by Ingo Fast
“Vows are but breath,” Shakespeare wrote, “and breath a vapor is.” That’s right: Even old Will had a tough time keeping his promises, centuries before the concept of New Year’s resolutions led to peppy, optimistic Januarys and utterly defeated Februarys for so many of us. If you’ve ever signed up for a gym membership on the first day of the year, or vowed finally to bone up on your French again, only to throw in the towel by Valentine’s Day, this one’s for you. Here are 40 resolutions to inspire you in 2019—from learning wilderness first aid to becoming a smarter shopper to taking a ceramics class. And to help you actually keep them, we’ve gathered some tips and sources that will get you started.
TAP INTO YOUR ARTISTIC SIDE
You don’t have to be O’Keeffe, Astaire, or Keats to enjoy the benefits.
1. Take a figure drawing class
Why? Because drawing the human figure teaches anatomy, movement, weight, balance, color, shape, and emotion. The Art Students League offers life drawing classes (and, for members, open figure study sessions). Boulder’s Tinker Art Studio also has a nine-week course, including six sessions with models. Another place to practice: Boulder Figure Drawing, open more than 20 years.
2. Read two classics
Start by finding two books you actually want to read. (Finnegan’s Wake? Maybe next year.) Set a page goal per day as well as a routine, reading before bed, at lunch, or on your commute. Goodreads lets you track reading progress and chat with other readers. Tattered Cover hosts regular free book clubs.
3. Learn to dance
If you’ve always wanted to dazzle on the dance floor, start with the basics. The waltz, fox trot, swing, rumba, and cha-cha are easiest to learn, accord- ing to Arthur Murray’s experts. Denver Turnverein offers beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes, a great dance floor, lots of friendly partners, plus regular socials where you can practice.
4. Start a visual journal
If you shut your childhood diary decades ago and threw away the key, get back into the game with a visual journal. It’s a daily record containing blank pages filled with art (drawings, collages,…) and, yes, even words, about your life. To get started, check out the workshops at Art Makers Denver; you can also find online classes by Judith Cassel-Mamet at Craftsy.
5. Learn ceramics
The Arts Students League of Denver and Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities have classes for various levels. “Sit in on a class for 15 minutes to see if you like the instructor,” says Shelley Schreiber of the ASLD. Be patient. “Ceramics isn’t easy. It can take years to be able to, say, make a set of dishes.”
6. Support local artists
Make it a point to visit at least one gallery each month, chat with the artists, and maybe even buy a piece that fits your budget. RiNo publishes a handy gallery guide, plus an artists directory that’s searchable by medium. The Santa Fe district hosts First Friday Art Walks year-round from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., with hundreds of artists’ work displayed in galleries, co-ops, and on the street.
7. Bring out the poet inside of you
If 2019 finds you with an itch to create something beautiful out of words, sign up for a poetry class at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. The nonprofit offers poetry workshops throughout the year, including an eight-week “Introduction to Poetry” beginning Jan. 7. Work with a small group of dedicated writers to create, critique, and edit your verse. Sing, O muse!
DAZZLE IN THE KITCHEN
Whether you can barely boil an egg or are Julia Child incarnate, there’s always room for improvement.
1. Do a kitchen inventory
Can’t find the pizza cutter? It’s time to reorganize. First, purge. “If it’s been six months since you’ve used something, consider tossing it,” says Samantha Tobia, home organizer at Demessify. Use these categories: keep, get rid of, and store somewhere else. If you use your roasting pan just for the holidays, move it to another area.” Next, group like with like. “Put all measuring cups in one cabinet, all cooking stuff in another, etc. Save buying bins and other supplies until the very end, and tell your family about the new system: If you don’t make it clear, it’s likely to get disorganized in a week.”
2. Eat healthier
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” If Michael Pollan’s famous admonition is your 2019 goal, be inspired through these classes: “Living Well 101,” at Uncorked Kitchen, teaches how to cook with seasonal produce, whole grains, beans, and plant proteins. In “Healthy Habits!” you’ll make a filling grainy salad and a healthy soup, and “Vegetarian From Around the World” teaches how to make everything from Mexican salsa verde to Indian vegetable samosas, both at Stir To Learn Cooking School.
3. Set up a great home bar
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Start with a few bottles of the most versatile liquors—whiskey, vodka, gin, rum, and tequila. Next, invest in alcoholic modifiers like bitters (angostura is crucial) and common liqueurs like amaretto (Disaronno), coffee (Kahlua), and orange (Triple Sec). Round things out with a stylish ice mold (large spheres always impress), a proper cocktail shaker, and a jigger. You can keep building over time. If more help is needed, try the Bartending School of Denver.
4. Up your spice game
Spices can make mediocre cooking good and good cooking great. This year, visit The Spice Guy in 5 Aurora and stock up on some creative, versatile blends. Come spring, plant an herb garden with basil, dill, parsley, and the like; CSU’s Colorado Master Gardeners program is a great resource for tips and advice.
5. Make one new recipe each week
Too ambitious? Try one a month. The idea is to get out of your culinary rut—and check out some top bloggers. For family recipes, try twopeasandtheirpod.com or gimmesomeoven.com. Want vegetarian? Try ohsheglows.com or cookieandkate.com. Like sweets? Check out tarteletteblog.com or thewoodandspoon.com.
RAISE YOUR STYLE IQ
The world is your runway—or at least it could be, with a few savvy upgrades this year.
1. Add more color to your wardrobe
Black and white are safe—we get it. But you can’t look like a penguin all the time. If bold colors scare you a bit, go slow. Add a bright new bag to your neutral outfit, tie on a green scarf, let a lacy teal bra peek out from under your blouse, throw a big-faced neon watch, paint your fingernails fuschia, rock a pair of red flats with your black jeans. The possibilities are endless.
2. Create an inspiration board
These days, you can do it online—and not just on Pinterest. Create style collages on Fashmates using the prepared fashion library and “clip” pieces from online retailers. Intelistyle, an app, and Finery, an app and website, catalog and style what’s already in your closet. Intelistyle also recommends items to buy based on your preferences and finds similar pieces, and Finery automatically adds pieces you buy to your account by connecting to your email.
3. Become a smart shopper
A leading consignment website, The RealReal features mint-condition items from top designers at up to 90 percent off. Shop online a lot? Meet Try, the app and browser extension that enables you to try online items before buying. Items are shipped to you free; you have seven days to buy or return. Honey, another browser extension, finds and applies the best coupon codes to your cart. Budget for big-ticket fashion items with Reel. Select your desired item and set a dollar amount you want the app to take from your bank account daily or weekly and put toward the item. Once the full amount is collected, Reel buys the item.
4. Organize your closet
Make a mess.
Pull everything out of the closet,” says Denver image consultant and stylist Rachel Dee.
“For each piece, ask yourself: Do I absolutely love this? Does this silhouette still work? Do I feel great when I wear this? Put anything with a no answer in a donate or trash pile.”
“Hang whole outfits together or organize by type and color.”
Find what you’re missing.
“Lay out an entire type of clothing (like skirts) and ask yourself what you would put with each piece. If you have no idea, that’s a hole in your closet to put on your shopping list.”
5. Try one crazy runway-inspired look
Leopard prints rule this year. The key is to treat it like a neutral. Plaids on plaids can be tricky; combine in complementary colors, similar pattern widths, or as a matching set. Yellow is set to be spring’s favorite fashion color. Wear it like a spot of sunshine.