I do not know about you all but I need a little break from politics - that does not mean I am not watching and keeping vigilant but it does mean that for a few days I just need to focus on the good to remind myself what is important in life - which is kindness, giving, loving.
To that end it is gift giving season. My favorite - I love finding the perfect gift for someone, the one that makes their eyes light up when they see it. The perfect gift says I really thought about you, it is not about price but it is about priceless memories. I used to love Oprah's gift idea show because of the sheer joy she had in finding the things, from the not in my budget but boy do I wish to the I can have that (one of my mine made her list - Hampton Paper Designs - she so wants to be me).
Here is a list of some of my favorite, some highly frequented, places that I highly recommend and that you can thank me, you know with something from them or just by supporting small businesses, owned by amazing people, creative people who add to the world and who are based in the States. Red or Blue state you cannot argue with supporting what is already great in America. The bonus is that these are high quality much like the folks who read this blog.
The cards, the wrapping paper, the pretty things around your table;
Hampton Paper Designs - Most of us watch all of those shows that have great set tables or amazing wrapping paper and wish we could have something like that too. Maybe you watch Real Housewives or some other more elegant show and wish you could just have a little of what they have without the drama. Well you actually can at least have a piece of it. I mean really you cannot go wrong with anything from this business. The woman who owns it is truly like Wonder Woman with pizzaz (and a wicked sense of style and humor). The items range from cards, gift tags, wrapping paper, placemat. The most popular gift I give is their calendars. Seriously once I skipped a few people and they actually asked me to order them as soon as they realized they were not part of the gifts they had gotten. The designs are whimsical yet classy and the quality makes you and the receiver feel all the much more special. So after you finish buying from all the folks below wrap it up, sign the card in one of the many choices you will have a hard time choosing between. Place orders soon, glittering on calendars is done by hand, and everything is made to order.
So you think you can dance (and sing and play an instrument);
Mike Risko Music School - for those of you in an around the Hudson River towns who either have budding Beethovens or want to unleash that Rock Band Hero from beyond the TV this is a great place to go. This is a family owned business, who has won numerous awards, and knows how to bring out the music in all of us. They sell instruments and they give lessons in what is possible - to share an art form that though heard with the ears is felt with all of the senses and the soul. Buy gift certificates and watch the smiles of those who receive them as they realize they can be the star that their shower may already know they are.
To be or not to be that is the question;
Theater O - also for those of you around the Hudson River towns. Anyone who has children wants to leave the drama to the professionals so why not help your kids, or maybe even yourself, channel that talent they seem to have with their expressions of angst and curiosity of spirit with the gift certificate for lessons here. The family who owns this prides themselves on their dedication to the craft and even more to their dedication to making children love the craft as much as they like to see their own names on the programs for the plays they put on. I want honorable mention and an invite to any Oscar nominees of the future.
Knit one purl two;
Nelly Rose Designs - knitting went from frumpy to super cool. This is owned and run by a mom in Florida who is truly creative in multiple ways. She will make you the traditional scarf, that you can pass off as your own if you must but that you will want to share where you got it from since there might be request for additional items. The items range from the whimsical, think Yoda hat, to the more traditional, think nice cozy scarves. She ships all over the US but place those orders soon as all these are handmade.
For the folks that you are friends with on Goodreads or in Book Club with;
Or for anyone who likes to read here are two that are written by full time moms, with other jobs, who just happen to be oh you know able to crank out novels that sell on Amazon.
The French Twist series (French Twist, French Toast & French Fry) is the real-life French fairy tale written by Ossining resident Glynis Astie. This story of how she met and married her French husband is so epic, it too her three books to tell it. It is fun, funny and most of all you will look for (hint, hint) the next installment when you are done;
To Face the Fire by Nicola Noble - want to take a trip through the New York boroughs? Meet Donna Giannino , the main character, "By day, she’s an editor at a publishing company in Manhattan. By night, she’s a Brooklynite shut in. The only variances are scheduled ahead of time and only happen if they involve her family or one of her close friends. It’s the only way she feels safe. But is living a half-life really living? How do you make yourself whole again? How do you learn to trust again? How do you overcome the fear left behind after a brutal attack?"
Dahhling you look fabulous;
Finally as you get ready to host, to attend or just to have a new look (those roots, those ends, that head massage -- ok at least one of those got to you) what better to visit, and while there get some gift certificates cause after all looking amazing is to be shared, than two fashion forward salons. They treat you like the star (oh you are star if you followed all of the above. Now you can act, sing, have amazing personalized stationery, are well read with a fabulous custom made knitted accessory) that we all are to someone.
VaZa - they converted me from the slave to the round brush that this girl was, pulling, yanking, heating, ironing her curls (because they were not the curls you see on tv according to me) to a believer who has not blown out her hair in over 6 months, who gets stopped more than she ever has to be told how much people like those curls and who frankly has embraced her curly self. Their color service is amazing, the chairs where you get your hair cut and the head massage may lend themselves to a nap (ok they will lend themselves to a nap). If you are not a curly girl they will give you a cut to help you swing that great mane of hair that we all practiced since we saw a tv ad for shampoo. Owned by 2 sisters and in the heart of Ossining it is an elegant salon that makes you feel special - so go fab up and get gift certificates for all.
NuMe Salon - another high end salon for those of you in the Hudson Rivertown area. Make an appointment with Kim Flood and tell her how you want to have the hair you see in some magazine, online, on a friend and she will tell you what version of it will make you the one that people take pictures of to bring to her to ask to look "just like that". Go alone, go with a friend, buy a gift certificate and pamper yourself too. You will love and so will those that love you.