Archives for December 2011

An Updated Gift of the Magi?

It’s the holiday season and you know what that means?  Adam and I are co-parenting with the big man: Santa Claus.

Even though we are Jewish, for the past 8 years, we have insisted that Santa visits all of G-d’s children regardless of their religion.  For most of her life, Santa has surprised Kayla with a wonderful gift in return for her leaving him delicious homemade cookies.  However the ol’guy does have his limits and we thought that $80 for a battery powered stuffed dog was well above it.

A few years ago, Kayla decided that we needed a dog.  I was working full time and Adam was away for business at least 2 weeks out of each month.  In short, we did not have the time nor the patience to add another member to the already growing zoo.  So Biscuit, a battery powered realistic looking toy, became the dog of Kayla’s dreams: just large enough for her to hug, obey her commands to sit and lay down, came with a bone, and could whine and bark on command. Even better? She (and we) would not have to feed or take him outside.  He wouldn’t shed nor would he chase the cat around the house.

Biscuit: The Perfect Dog

Bottom line: Adam and I had every intention of getting the toy for Kayla and decided that despite our protests to the contrary, Santa would be the perfect person to deliver it.  We convinced Kayla that Biscuit was just too pricey and that she would need to select a less expensive toy.  She decided that she would buy the pup herself and came back to us with proposal to perform chores and run errands in exchange for payment.  When we told her that scooping the cat litter and sweeping the floor once or twice would only merit $5, Kayla asked us to take her to the bank so she could withdraw money from her savings account.  We refused to take her and that’s when Kayla decided that there had to be another way to get Biscuit.

Kayla has always watched more than her share of television.  We didn’t consider networks like Sprout or Nickelodeon would influence Kayla’s actions.  Actually the programs themselves had nothing to do with her idea; it was the commercials.  And Adam and I never really paid attention to the commercials.  Until one cold December morning when I emerged from the shower to find my six year old on my bed surrounded by jewelry: my jewelry.

Kayla had divided the trinkets into three piles: Gold, Silver and Not sure. While still dripping wet and in a towel, I asked her what EXACTLY she was doing with my things?  Her response?  “The nice man on television told me that if I sent him jewelry, he would give me money.  Then I can buy Biscuit!”  My mouth hung open.  I was not sure what to say. I exclaimed “You’re going to do WHAT? I don’t think so.  Those are my things!”  Okay, maybe that was not the best parental response but it was all that I could think of at the time. I then quietly (and slowly) explained to Kayla that that was Mommy’s jewelry and it was not for sale.  I praised her for her ingenuity (she was 6 after all) but told her that there had to be another way to get Biscuit.  I recommended that she do a better job of listening to her parents when we told her to go to bed. Maybe Santa would surprise her.

Our daughter cried and cried at the unfairness of the situation.  She was out of ideas.  When she wasn’t begging us or quoting Shel Silverstein poems about little girls who died when their parents did not buy them ponies, Kayla sulked in her room convinced that she would forever be dog-less.

Imagine her surprise on Christmas morning when she opened a gigantic box and found Biscuit ready and waiting to be played with.  (We put the batteries in the ol’boy the night before so Kayla would not have to wait to play with her new acquisition.)  She thanked Santa over and over for hearing her prayers and bringing her the toy she coveted the most.  The note from Santa admonished Kayla for planning to sell her mother’s jewelry and recommended that she focus on being more obedient and less crafty. (Well, you can’t say that we didn’t try, right?)

Fast forward two years, and Biscuit stands guard in Kayla’s room waiting to be played with.  He was pretty much forgotten when we acquired the German Shepherd a year ago who is much more interesting as well as a lot more work. Earlier this month, Kayla told informed me that there were other children who might appreciate Biscuit more that she did.  It was time, according to K, for Biscuit to be moving on to another home.  She asked me to make the appropriate arrangements.  When I asked her what she was planning on doing with the soon to be empty space in her bedroom, Kayla assured me that Santa would provide. Yikes.

As for me, I can’t help wondering what Kayla will think of next to generate some cash and will it involve doing something with my possessions? For now, I am keeping a close eye on my wallet.  She recently figured out how the ATM machine and credit cards work.







It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (For Shopping!)

It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (For Shopping!)

I love collecting unusual works of art and jewelry particularly “objects of functional art.”  In other words, I like art that does something other than just be displayed on one’s mantel.  Last week, I was able to indulge in my passion and spent three hours exploring the Oneofakind Show and Sale at the Merchandise Mart.  I really loved getting a chance to meet some of the artists whose work I hope to collect and share with friends and family. Below are some of my favorite findings:

Birdhouse + MD License Plate = Functional Art

I am from Maryland and am always thrilled to collect art that has something to do with my home state.  I also have a thing for birdhouses.  (Please don’t ask me why; I really don’t know.)  So, you know that I jumped at the chance to purchase t a birdhouse made out of broken MD collectors plates with a MD license plate as the roof.  This one was designed and constructed by two women who also happen to live in my town, Highland Park.  Their company is called “Moxaic.” They also offered birdhouses for all 50 states but I selected the Maryland one for sentimental reasons.



An Answer for What to Do With All Of Those Pencils

When Kayla started school several years ago, my Mother-in-Law dumped, um, brought over more than 100 pencils to our house. I wish that I was as clever as  Susan Lowenburg (aka The Pencil Lady).  This Chicagoan uses vintage and art pencils to enhance furniture, accessories and picture frames.   Now that I see what she did, I regret throwing away all of the Chicago Bears pencils instead of using them to construct a funky frame as a holiday gift for my husband.




Imagine a Table Set with Cloth Napkin Roses

I think that I may have fallen in love with Carole Shiber’s table linens.  This picture doesn’t even do justice to her creations.  Imagine having an outdoor summer dinner party where the entire table is decorated to resemble a flower garden.  The napkins are designed to resemble roses while the placemats are designed to be layered to create a botanic centerpiece.  Even better?  She offers a 10% discount on all Carole Shiber website purchases if you use the coupon code 10Always.  This is the type of gift that I know my mother would really enjoy and use.




Look at the amazing scarfs made out of T-Shirts!

These are scarfs; not the knitted kind.  They were constructed out of old t-shirts.  How clever and easy!  Knowing how easy it was to construct these accessories, increases my need to purchase a sewing machine and learn once and for all how to sew!  Imagine what I could have done with Adam’s old t-shirts?  We could have decked the whole neighborhood in original Keats t-shirt scarfs.  In the meantime, I can only drool over other artists sewing creations. As soon as I approached the go dotty gobooth, I felt right at home! First of all, each creation (scarfs, gloves, coffee cup cozies) are one of a kind. (I love knowing that I am the only one who has a particular scarf!)  Second, all of the materials the artists use are “up cycled” wool sweaters, tee-shirts and other discarded clothing items.  Okay, using wool sweaters etcetera is not really a new idea, but the way the artists construct their items is unique and whimsical.  Finally, the items are priced competitively.  I purchased my scarf for $40.  Guess which one I bought!


Look! Matching gloves, aprons & hot pads make the perfect hostess gift!

Okay, okay, I know that you are a bit tired of my constant chatter regarding the perfect hostess gifts but flatter me, once more.  Check out what Michelle Dortch of Chel Domestic Goodies  created.  I had a chance to chat with Michelle’s very proud step-mother who told me about these matched sets.  I love the idea of giving DISH SOAP (of course) and adding a set of matching rubber gloves, pot holders and an apron!  Michelle has such an amazing range of patterns and designs, one is sure to select one to please all of the cooks on one’s holiday shopping list.  Before hitting the stores, I would encourage you to check out Michelle’s site.  I know that I plan on selecting several sets for different cooking friends and family.



Funky & affordable hot pads

I saved my favorite find for last: pot holders.  But not just any potholders! Everyone needs potholders (it’s kinda like dish soap–you know that you’ll use it).  But no one really thinks how these items could also be seen as works of art.  Depending on what people are interested in (like Seurat), their senses of humor (half dressed stud-ly cowboys) or a particular food (sushi anyone?) Stacy Rauba & Yutaka Fujita have created a potholder for you.  And $20 for two washable and whimsical potholders is quite reasonable.  I absolutely recommend that you see (and touch) these works of art.  Fortunately, Stacy an Yutaka are selling their wares at the Andersonville Galleria, 5247 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL. These are just 6 of my favorite findings from last week’s show.  Later this week, I will post pictures from some of the other artists I discovered.  What do you think?  Do the pictures/descriptions inspire you to check out these sites?  Are there any artists that you recommend I check out in time for gift giving to others