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

DAWN OXI Dish Soap: The Perfect Hostess Gift!

DAWN OXI Dish Soap: The Perfect Hostess Gift!

It's All About the Turkey

This is a Sponsored post written behalf of DAWN  dish soap. All opinions are 100% mine.

We are off to my Aunt and Uncle’s house for Thanksgiving this year and I have to say that I am quite relieved.  Being one of 4 daughters, the responsibility for clearing the table and helping to clean the pots and pans naturally falls to the women (and sister-folk) of the house while the men enjoy college football.  Since my mother usually hosts the meal, well….let’s just day that I dread dessert and not for caloric reasons.

I feel obligated to provide the “perfect” hostess gift as a token of empathy and appreciation  for my aunt. Initially, I purchased a Talbott’s Holiday tea set for Kathy but quickly changed my mind because (a) I have no idea if she even likes tea and (b) I really like tea, especially Talbott’s.  Although I have known that we were going to my aunt’s for quite some time, I haven’t been able to find the perfect gift that blends humor with functionality.  If only they were smokers and then I could get them an ashtray or two!  (Just kidding. Really, I’m kidding!)

But then, like a boomerang hitting me in the head, I got an idea this morning; one that no one will have thought of: dish soap!  It’s weird and therefore laden with humor but also quite functional. What does any Thanksgiving hostess really need on Turkey day? Surely not hand mixed tea created by Oprah Winfrey’s former hair colorist!  Not when there are  greasy pots and pans as well as the china that needs to get cleaned!  But it has to be the best dish soap. I called my mother and she suggested that I try DAWN; her neighbor swears by it.  Strange?  I never thought of my mother as someone who sits around discussing soap with her friends. Even stranger and perhaps cosmically linked, P & G had just sent me some great samples of the product.  But I digress…

To test my hypothesis that dish soap is a great gift for the holidays, I decided to conduct a little experiment with the breakfast dishes.

8:15 a.m.   Today’s breakfast was none other than the stickiest of the sticky: oatmeal.  K insisted, of course, that she should have warm apple cider to complement her warm breakfast.  A minute in the microwave and the stuff was boiling and clinging to the side of her mug.  Yuck.

Presenting: After Breakfast Mess!

Dried Oatmeal! That will never come out!

8:30 a.m.   Fifteen minutes later we were out the door–the pot full of oatmeal still on the stove (with the burner off) and K’s food sitting relatively untouched on the table.  The cider has congealed into a disgusting mass at the bottom of her mug. So much for breakfast today.

8:45 a.m.  I came back from dropping K off at school and decided to face the mess in the kitchen.  Based on the evidence in front of me, I estimated that the plates and the pots would need to soak in hot water and soap for at least 2 or 3 hours.  Even then, there was no guarantee that I will be able to get all of the food particles off of the pot.  So I poured a bit of DAWN dishwashing liquid which guaranteed “overnight soaking power in 5 minutes” on the guilty offenders, um, dishes.

Dawn Power Cleaning with Oxi


See the timer?  I really was going to put the soap to the 5 minute test.  Suddenly I felt like one of those pretend commercial moms who is euphoric to be cleaning her kitchen!  Who knew that dish soap had such power over my mental health?  <Hello? Sarcasm?>  But I do enjoy a challenge once in a while.  I had a spin class at 9:30 a.m. and really didn’t have time to be scrubbing pots and dishes when there were water bottles to be filled and bikes to be ridden.

Eeeh! That's just too gross!

A Timer: Good for Product Testing and Giving Time Outs!

8:50  The timer went off.  The dishes were in the sink for only 5 minutes.  I grabbed the sponge because, to be quite honest there is no way that mere dish soap was going to get the grime off of K’s plates.  I am happy to report that I was WRONG!  With a mere swipe of a sponge, her plate is grime free and clean enough to scoop oatmeal.  The pot is clean as are the rest of the breakfast dishes and pots.

So clean, it's says "Hi"

I do have one complaint/comment/warning: My hands are really dry from rinsing off the soap.  I almost never use gloves when I wash dishes.  (I think that I may have dropped one or 2 or 10 when I was a child while wearing gloves and am now scarred by the experience.)   In any case, without gloves, my hands felt much dryer than they did prior to using the DAWN Oxi.  So, if I do, indeed, decide to gift DAWN as a gift, I will need to include a set of funky, cool gloves as an accompaniment.  No sense in saving the hostess cleaning time if my gift leads her to spending additional time moisturizing her hands.  I love these, don’t you?

Mustn't forget the "make-me-happy" gloves!

At 9:00  a.m. I was out the door and off to the gym. The dishes were clean (for a change) and spotless.  I was really relieved that I wouldn’t revisit the breakfast dishes later that day to scrub and ensure that none of the food etc. was “lingering”.

So, now I am off to the mall to find some cool gloves for Aunt Kathy.  I am totally sold on the dishwashing soap and my friends think that I am a bit more off of my rocker for getting excited about something that they take for granted.  Obviously, my mother’s neighbor knows a thing or two.  I really need to meet this awesome woman.

One question, how exactly does one get dish soap on an airplane if she’s not checking bags? Carefully?