Pop Tarts Just Got Jolly!

No matter your stance on the better breakfast toaster treat, Pop Tarts are the original portable breakfast pouch. With over 30 current varieties, from fruity and fun to more sophisticated selections, Pop Tart has done it again with new Jolly Rancher toaster pastries!

We don’t care that people may or may not think Pop Tarts qualify as ravioli (yeah, you read that right). We just care about these deliciously fruity, slightly tart, juicy, tangy, frosted bits of heaven. 

Available in three flavors – Cherry, Watermelon and Green Apple – the Cherry ones my husband and I were sent to sample left us sweetly surprised! They were reminiscent of the original toaster pastry we grew up on; soft, squishy filling, crunchy pastry shell and the iconic candy-coated glaze, we both took a little vacation back to the 1980’s when food still tasted like…well, food. 

Would we buy them? Absolutely! And, I haven’t bought Pop Tarts since the Chocolate Fudge variety (my favorite) took on the taste of the box they’re sold in and the original Strawberry started skimping on the sprinkles (and the frosting that housed them). 

It’s been awhile, needless to say. 

With companies striving to be at the forefront of cutting edge flavor trends (I mean, Peeps flavored Oreos? Really?!?), we’ve gone a little “taste blind” and are nonplussed by the flavor shock many companies are striving for. However, Jolly Rancher is just enough classic fruity and futuristic fun to satisfy – without the gross out factor. 

Find them at your local Walmart and enjoy two good things in one! 

Beyond the Blue

In honor of Father’s Day, I’d like to first give a “shout out” to the best father I know – my amazing husband Craig, who, with two grown children of his own, two children-in-law, a stepson he loves as his own…is about to start all over and “daddy up” again, at the tender young age of 54! 
Due to a medical condition, Craig can’t wear much in the way of cologne or scent, so when I was sent Nautica’s new “Blue” cologne for review, I got to be the Guinea pig. 
Strong and overpowering is the best I can say. With a strong citrusy scent, that vaguely reminded me of something one would use to clean their kitchen floor, the notes of grassy field, hospital disinfectant and a slightly oriental base note would NOT go away once I applied it – which I guess is good news for men who like spending 10Xs the amount of a can of Axe and still smelling just as douchy. 
Granted, everyone is different and it could smell perfectly fabulous on someone else. However, I certainly wouldn’t recommend spending $62.50 for 3.4oz at Macy’s or even $12.34 at Amazon , who describes tropical fruits, sandalwood and jasmine, musk, cedar and water lily as other components of this disastrous fragrance combination. 
I guess sometimes you can have too many good things. 
As a woman who enjoys a bit of cologne on a man from time to time, as long as it’s subtle and suited to his body chemistry (I enjoy my husband’s deodorant and the way it blends with his “natural scent”, just fine!), I can’t imagine this smelling attractive on any dude…especially not one taking me any place nicer than Taco Bell for a first date (because this stuff is so strong, it could make even those bathrooms smell worse). 
Craig took a slight whiff of the odoriferous offender and agrees. In fact, he’s resorted to referring to it as “the shit spray”. 
I think what it really comes down to is its simply too strong. It really is overwhelmingly strong and with a sensitive nose (like I have), it’s nothing more than a headache in a bottle to me. In my opinion, it smells cheap, poorly blended and as if expensive essences have been watered down and stronger, cheaper scents (like the aforementioned kitchen floor cleaner) were subbed to distract the buyer from noticing. 
In my opinion, a can of Axe…or Glade…or even one of those little pine trees for your vehicle…will accomplish the same stink factor, at a fraction of the cost. 

Travel Safe This Summer (and always)! 

After having a discussion with my husband about air travel (I’ve traveled my entire 36 years – learned some things), I feel there’s a few “tips” I should share for you summer travelers! 

1. Stretch often. Car, train or plane, get up (or out) and move some. Even a few hours being stationary in/on a vehicle, can contribute to PE (pulmonary embolism) or DVT (deep vein thrombosis). As a BPE (bilateral pulmonary emboli survivor, this is a big deal!). 
2. When flying, don’t panic! Turbulence happens. Unless you see the flight attendants start to panic, stay calm. It’s normal. 
3. Check FTA advisories daily. They change often. As of my recent knowledge, <3oz liquid, nothing sharp (tweezers, scissors, etc.) can be carry on and random tickets can get you a full body search. Ditch bras with metal, avoid belts and wear shoes you can get in and out of in less than 30 seconds. 
4. Get the travel insurance! Not only does it cover loss of property, but most cover medical and if a flight is overbooked/re-scheduled, you get first priority. It’s an extra $50 well spent. 
5. Rent a car early! We use Enterprise Rent-A-Car and have had fabulous luck. But, the longer you wait, the less likely to get the vehicle you desire. 

6. Invest in a real, paper atlas. It can help you avoid tolls and come in handy when phones are out of service. 
7. Pack snacks! I travel (alone) often – and usually with Monster Energy and a prayer. But, things like a cooler, ice, chips, healthy alternatives (remember, different locals may have better produce and unique treats), and water! Not only for drinking, but if a radiator overheats. 
8. Look into AAA services or roadside services provided by the rental company. 
9. Don’t eat what you can have at home. As the saying goes, “When in Rome…”.
10. Pack emergency supplies. Basics. Band aids, topical ointments, things like nail files (in a pinch, a matchbook will work as a file and vise versa), maxi pads (not only for “lady issues”, but large wounds), etc. 

11. Make a list. Start as soon as you plan to travel. I keep mine on my phone – I check off what I’ve packed and can add as needed. 
12. Tell 2-3 family or friends your itinerary. And, if you’re like me and keep your GPS and privacy settings off, turn them on. Worst case, it may help find you in a terrible event. Example, I have an iPhone. I know those who know I’m traveling can call iPhone and have me “tracked”. 
13. Take sample size makeup and skin care. Hotel products don’t always do us any favors (however, if you DO like the products provided by the hotel, grab them when you go. Hotels have to trash them after each guest). Check my AWESOME rep for Perfectly Posh, The Pampered Mom – Kristen Matzke, for sample packs for hair, skin and more! She’s amazing and with a quick survey, can nail your skin and hair care needs! Personally, MOISTURIZE 911 is the best (possibly the best thing of all time!)!

Also, check Sally Beauty, drug and big box stores for travel size products and/or containers for your fave products. 
14. Minimize your makeup! Invest in a BB or CC cream, a good mascara and a fabulous red lipstick (I love Femme Coture’s ‘Shanghai Red’ – an easy to wear red on all skin tones – check eBay since it’s been discontinued). Loreal has some flattering reds or try one of LipsMak – Independent SeneGence/LipSense Distributor gorgeous shades. A blush and bronzer pallet is a nice addition as well. NARS Cosmetics Orgasm is also flattering to all skin tones and they do a blush/bronzer combo in one slim, sleek compact. Remember, especially if you’re on vacation, a 27 step contouring routine is unnecessary and, well…stupid. 
15. Keep hydrated! Travel, especially during hot summer months, takes a toll. Find a good bottled water in case your destination doesn’t have palatable drinking water. A small (remember, under 3oz I believe for air travel) spray bottle with water, especially rose or lavender water, can be a refreshing boost for parched skin, too. Tuck it in a purse or carry on. 

16. Make a list of medications and dosage, health issues and allergies and tuck it in your wallet. You can also download apps for your phone, but if you lock your phone (as you should) and are traveling alone, emergency responders will go for your wallet. Keep prescription medications in their original bottles, with the original label, especially if you take anything that’s federally regulated (like narcotics or even anxiety medication). 
17. Think small! Grab a travel sewing kit and pack it in case you need to fix a hem, reattach a button or conceal a low cut blouse temporarily. Also handy if you have little ones and Mr. Bear loses an eye or suffers an unfortunate tear. Tuck a couple extra earring backs (Walmart has them in gazillion packs), safety pins and a small tube of nail/super glue in it, too (basically the same thing and can be useful for more than just a broken/lifting nail).
18. Be smart! Especially traveling alone. Trust your gut – if you feel you’re being followed, assume you are. Don’t stop at isolated rest areas at night. Keep your doors locked (and a spare set of keys with you). And, by NO MEANS are you obligated to give personal or any other information, even small talk, to the person sharing your arm rest. You don’t have to be rude! But, you don’t have to be overly polite, either. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and that includes not over indulging in adult beverages or over medicating; both of which can put you in a dangerous position. 
19. Four things you should have at all times – 

  1. Your phone

  2. Keys (car/hotel)

  3. Identification 

  4. Cash

Remember, a hotel key or credit card can be “erased” if it comes in contact with your phone. Don’t “flash” cash or carry large amounts. Keep cash in a safe spot (look online – you can find ankle wallets and other nifty stuff if you’re not blessed with boobs to hide cash in), keep smaller bills “on top”, keep cash on the front of your body (men tend to keep their wallet in a back pocket – move it up front, especially if you’re traveling in an area you’re unfamiliar with and/or with lots of people/large crowds) and a “Mugger’s $20” is always a handy idea. 
  ~~MUGGER’S $20 ~~

Keep roughly $20, in small bills in your front, non dominant pocket (if your wallet is in the right, then put your Mugger’s $20 in the left) or purse (avoid large purses with long, thin straps – invest in a cool, new clutch or smaller handbag that can be worn cross-body). In the unfortunate event you’re mugged, or threatened, throw the Mugger’s $20 as far from you as possible, in the opposite direction and run. Most muggers will be interested in the cash and focused on finding and collecting it, allowing you time to flee the situation. 
20. Have a great playlist ahead of time. In the car, you may find yourself out of range of radio stations (or music you like). And, on a plane, it’s a great way to avoid unwanted conversations. Just make sure you keep the volume at a level that allows you to remain alert to emergency notifications or undesirable situations around you.

Bon Voyage! 

*Photos: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, personal 
**Links to individual product representatives are Facebook specific. 

Perfection IS Perfectly Posh! 

I know I’ve done some reviews about Perfectly Posh – mostly about their facial skin care (for example, this one) and I’m still raving about this amazing bevy of beauty foundation fabulousness! 


Skin care is the essential foundation to great skin, but Perfectly Posh is so much more than just skin care. It’s whole body care; with hair, foot and nail products, too! 

And, IT’S FUCKING AMAZING! 


So…

My fabulous Posh representative, Kristen, sent me this little goodie package, including their new pedicure system. 

The sample pedicure system – matches made in heaven! Basic instructions were also included.


(We’ll get to the other goodies in a moment.)

The pedicure system includes:

  • All Mixed Up Bath Salts 
  • Rio Rumble Salt Scrub
  • Schwanky & Soft Moisturizing Lotion 

From the hip, beautifully packaged products to the little bits of heaven inside, Posh is perfect! 

This kind of simply gorgeous packaging makes my heart swoon!

Back to this pedicure system…

What can I say? It’s fantastic! 

Start with a 10-15 minute salt soak, which alone is wicked relaxing. My husband did an amazing mini pedi for me, to help me relax, and being a cosmetologist was a refreshing change of pace. 

(Don’t mind my unshaven legs – we’re moving and it’s been low priority)

 
Then, we patted dry (not super dry, just so no dripping since I got my pedi in bed while I was relaxing), and using the now, lukewarm salt water, my husband added a bit to some of the Rio Rumble salt scrub, which smells like pineapple- more specifically, white gummy bears – and proceeded to massage my feet and ankles to eliminate dead, dry skin and rough patches. 

Notice how little product was actually used – this was plenty of the Rio Rumba exfoliating sand scrub.

A girl can’t help but love a good pedicure! Especially from a sexy man!


After my sensual salt scrub, another rinse and dry (again, not bone dry, since moist skin likes soaking up moisturizers from lotions and potions) and on to my lovely, moisturizing massage with Schwanky & Soft. A pea-sized amount of this wonder cream, that glides on and smells vaguely of Doublemint Gum (back in the day), and simply helped to melt the tension in my feet away like butter in a hot skillet. 

A little sad to rinse away the sweet smell of white gummy bears but that meant the magical massage was soon underway!

Again, note how little product was necessary to be effective. Literally a pea-sized dab of Schwanky & Soft is all it takes.

My perfectly magical and magnificent manicurist! My adoring husband who will do damn near anything to make his loving wife happy – in fact, he volunteered to do my mini pedi so I could relax and enjoy for a change!


Schwanky & Soft is recommended for daily use to maintain your perfectly pampered piggies, and while my feet weren’t horrible to begin with, I definitely noticed a difference in how soft they were – and how relaxing the whole system was. Pretty impressive, when I’m used to using a small arsenal to do pedicures in the salon and three, simple products accomplished the same thing! 

I look tired – it’s actually blissful relaxation! Enjoying my softly scented feet (words I never thought I’d say)!

Post pedi piggies!

 
Now, on to the other pampering goodies in my package! 


I adore the Big Fat Yummy Hand Cremés for their silky texture, non-greasy application and luxurious scents. Not taking a vacation this summer? Do yourself a favor and order a tube of the Beach Blanket Big Fat Yummy Hand Cremé! It’s like a vacation in a tube you can use anywhere, anytime you need a little beach therapy! 

“Tangy citrus and sweet vanilla wrapped in creamy coconut.”

Coconut and Apricot kernel oils leave skin soft, silky and nourished, while the scent is good enough to eat! What I imagine a tropical drink with a little paper umbrella, on a sunny beach dotted with palm trees, magnificent white sand and lapped by cerulean kisses of an unblemished ocean would smell (and taste) like. Forget Calgon! Let Beach Blanket “take you away”! 

Pamper yourself! You deserve it! At least once a week, take the time for a hot bubble bath, your favorite tunes, maybe a good book and a Posh mini facial.



If you’ve followed my blogs about Perfectly Posh, you already know Moisturize 911 is very possibly the. best. thing. EVER. 

Full of caffeinated  tightening and brightening power, it’s this girl’s best friend when it comes to face cremé! It’s the perfect way to start (and end) your day! 

My first Moisturize 911 experience. I have a bit of makeup on, but a light application made my BB cream glide on effortlessly and I used a fraction of what I normally would.


To really test the Complexion Perfection, a gentle exfoliating daily cleanser with peppermint and super fine walnut shell powder, I went all out on makeup. That’s how I test any new cleanser, is with a full face of heavy makeup to ensure it can live up to any claims. Naturally, the exfoliating walnut shell powder helped – since the job of any exfoliating product is to gently remove dead, dry skin – so, safe to assume it helps to remove other dead, dry stuff like the foundation and lipstick that’s been caked on your face for far more hours than it should. 

(Sorry ladies and gents – it only works on dead, dry skin issues…not dead, dry exes. I’ve tried.)

Before makeup or ANY skin care.

Full face – contouring, lipstick (I needed an excuse to wear my vibrant new violet; one of the hot picks for summer ’17), brows, liner (liquid), about ten coats of mascara…

Squeaky Clean after washing with Complexion Perfection! In a single wash, with roughly a pea sized amount. Also applied Moisturize 911, which a pea-sized amount is plenty to do my face, at least, making both products super cost efficient.



Complexion Perfection is not only a fabulous cleanser, but a multi-tasker and money saver! It’s two products in one convenient tube! It left my face feeling fresh as well as refreshed; with just enough peppermint oil to leave skin slightly tingly and clean feeling, but not enough to sting or burn – especially in sensitive eye areas where I was focusing to remove the entire tube of mascara I used. 

It also smells clean and refreshing – like minty pineapples, which is actually a very pleasant combination. Moisturize 911 smells tangy and citrusy, so together they make a delightful duo. 
Last, but not least…


Envy This, a tightening and brightening face masque with green tea, Neem flower (which, after reading about this amazing tree, I’m astounded by claims of its medicinal, beauty, pest control and construction benefits) and caffeine, was a wonderful finish to my Posh package. Naturally scented, it smells a bit like freshly ground black pepper to me – which happens to be one of my favorite scents in the world – and sandalwood. A thin layer is all it takes. It drys quickly and is über lightweight, with no noticeable feel to the touch. While it recommends washing it off after 5-10 minutes, I left it on overnight and was happy to wake up without any residue, oils, discoloration or stains on my pillow. Kaolin Clay based, it’s also moisturizing and Kaolin adds another level of firming and tightening to this powerful packet of Posh perfection. After a quick rinse in the A.M., and a bit of Moisturize 911, my skin felt taught, soft and had a glowing radiance. 

It also contains Malachite Extract. Malachite is a natural stone (being into crystals and gemstones, I own several pieces and it’s one of my husband’s favorites). 

Beautiful Malachite slice.


According to Bellatorra Skin Care, who are leaders in Malachite Extract skincare: 

“Malachite is non photo-toxic and combats daily stresses and acts as an after-sun ingredient. Malachite Extract is an extract of Malachite obtained by grinding the stone then dissolved by hydrochloric acid and neutralization by sodium bicarbonate. Acts as an anti oxidant.”

Nice touch! 

While Perfectly Posh is my go-to for all my skincare needs, in day-to-day life, check out their awesome holiday sets and promotions, too! Fabulous gifts for friends, family and co-workers, for all occasions. Also, perfect to stock guest bathrooms (as well as your own) and the gender neutral packaging and vast range of products makes it easy to gift gals and guys (psssst! They do offer a man specific line as well). Even my 22 year old son wouldn’t complain about these Posh products in his bathroom! 

So many puns! So much Posh!

If you still need reasons to try Perfectly Posh – 

So, what are you waiting for? 

Check out my Perfectly Posh and help a glitter goddess out! And, give Kristen some love, too! Take a short survey and she can match you to the Perfectly Posh products perfect for you. 

Many thanks, as always Kristen! Always happy to review Posh!!!

Images: Perfectly Posh, personal

Shop Small to Make a BIG Difference!

Each year, GF likes to encourage others to “shop small”, and support small businesses who are often struggling to stay afloat with so many bigger, often cheaper, options available. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016 is “Shop Small Saturday,” an annual, nationwide event, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, that encourages others to seek out small businesses to support who are also likely trying to provide an amazing holiday experience for their families! Not only are you helping contribute to your community (or theirs, as the case may be, since several of our shop small businesses on this list are online only or perhaps out of state from you), but you can find unique treasures for nearly anyone on your list – even the person who “has it all”. 

If you’re out and about, you can look for this symbol (or similar) to denote a small business. Go in and give them a “looksee”! Never know what hidden gem you may find! A lot of restaurants and bars will also display this symbol, so stop for a bite there instead of a fast food chain.


This list will be re-shared on GF’s Facebook and other social media, throughout the holiday season. It may grow, as we stumble upon more fabulous places, worthy of note, and simply because without the support of consumers, local and small artisans, shops, business owners, etc., may not have the support (financial and otherwise) to continue providing amazing, custom and creative visions for the rest of us to enjoy. 
Also know as “Small Business Saturday”, you can read more about it here. We strongly encourage you to shop small, as much as you can this holiday season – whether it be on Shop Small Saturday or not (let’s face it – some of us just aren’t quite ready for it to be Christmas yet) – and throughout the year! Here’s some of our favorite small businesses, to get you started! Please do share this list, feel free to contact us if you know a small business that deserves to be on the list and we also strongly encourage small businesses to patronize other small businesses, and allow that spirit to cycle! 

Please remember: 

  1. As noted, several times, custom work takes time. If you’re so much as remotely interested in a custom piece from any of these vendors, please contact them directly, ASAP, for more information, including creation time and shipping. Don’t discount a custom piece if it simply can’t be done before your holiday of choice! Wrap a picture/handwritten note/card or accessory (say, a pretty pair of earrings to go in the custom jewelry box you ordered) and explain the situation. When your custom piece does arrive, it allows the season of giving, to continue! 
  2. Check back as we repost the list (it won’t be a full blog, so make sure you follow us on FB and Instagram) to refresh your memory and see any potential new additions. 
  3. This was a success last year and we heard from several fans and business that they found the perfect gift/designed or shipped orders, as a result of GF’s list! How exciting! However, please remember the spirit of this season is kindness. If something isn’t for you, or anyone on your list, simply move on. Different folks means different strokes – negativity towards an artisan or their craft(s) is not well tolerated here. 
  4. Most of these businesses have FB pages too! Give them a like to stay updated on new creations and special events they may be hosting or participating in!!!

RAINBOW GODDESS DESIGNS

rainbowgoddessdesigns.com. 

Handmade crowns to beautiful, handmade jewelry creations. Flowers, feathers, mermaid, Native American, Dia de los Meurtos, even unicorn horns! She does custom work, too…just beware custom work takes time (since every piece is handmade) and so does shipping. Unique gifts for that person who has everything! Super affordable, too! 

Von’s Pick – I love the unicorn horns and matching tails because what little girl wouldn’t want to be a unicorn for Christmas?!? The peacock feathers and swords in exotic colors really set them apart. I also love the beautiful mermaid crowns, because y’all know I’m a mermaid by day! 

MY LIP STUFF

Mylipstuff.com

The most AMAZING lip balms you can get your pucker on! 700+ flavors, earth and animal friendly, custom flavors and labels, all made with love and the perfect amount of shine and “glide” to give you a perfect pout. Don’t forget to check out the other products as well, because the Healing Body Butter stick is a miracle in a tube. You will never use Neosporin again. 

Von’s pick – Pink Cake and Nighttime are my favorite balms, but the Healing Body Butter stick is something I never leave home without! It’s healed everything from minor cuts and scrapes, to deep wounds and even bruises, faster than any product I’ve ever used. 

PERFECTLY POSH

Thepamperedmom.po.sh

Perfectly Posh is a relatively new skin care venture but one I’m glad was made. Vegan and paraben free, they’ve got you covered from head to toe – literally. Amazing scents and only the finest in essential oils and ingredients, it’s a difference you can see and feel. Best part? Everything in their huge catalog is under $25! 

Von’s Pick – Moisturize 911

If you stuff one stocking with PP this season, stuff it with this amazing crème, full of brightening, toning and complexion perfecting ingredients to make your holidays truly glow. If you do order, and want to “treat” your hostess with the mostess (I get points) you can use my link here:

https://www.perfectlyposh.com/p/?pref=5181648

PINK ZEBRA

The most amazing wax warmers and scents to fill your home with holiday cheer. Forget those little cubes! Pink Zebra uses what they call “sprinkles”, which make for easy mixing and matching scents and you control how much scent you want! I’ve also not had any problems with this product doing what those little cubes did; melting plastic combs that are designed to withstand 500° temperatures, simply by placing a new cube on top of them and forgetting over night. They will work in any standard/electric wax warmer, but at PZ prices, check out some of the super cute ones they offer. Plus, they offer “soaks”, to make your own car air fresheners, scented toys, etc.! Have a warmer under the tree and a jar of sprinkles in the stocking! Or, make it a semi-handmade gift by creating uniquely scented car fresheners for friends and family (subtle hint to the teen who leaves half a pizza in his car until it’s unrecognizable or a sachet for Aunt Mary’s quilt closet). 

Von’s Pick – Pumpkin Amber is my go-to scent whenever I need a little pick-me-up! Less PSL, a touch more warmth from the amber and a splash of citrus make this scent relaxing and refreshing. Store bought pie? No problem! The Warm Apple Pie scent will have family and friends fooled in no time! 

POPPEDIFY

The. Best. Gourmet popcorn, second to none! Hand popped, in small batches, one bag to 100! And, sooooo many delicious flavors to choose from! Just the perfect amount of light, crispy, crunchy, “candy” coating (like kettle korn), this would be perfect in a Christmas Eve box, as a stocking stuffer or for co-worker gifts and holiday parties. Make sure you order extra because it goes fast and you’re definitely going to want your own! 

Von’s Pick – The Pumpkin Spice is decadent, but I adore mixing the Cherry and Cinnamon together (it’s like Cherry Sours and Cinnamon Bears candy, both which I love). Even not being an eggnog person, their Eggnog popcorn is divine! 

TWISTED SEAS

https://poshmark.com/closet/twisted

Beautiful and eclectic jewelry and handmade creations. Think classic pieces like cameos, meets Steampunk, Gothic and more. Every piece is handmade with amazing attention to detail and custom orders are accepted. Contact them directly to see if they can help create your ideal piece, as well as for pricing and times to create and ship. 

Von’s Pick – I love the twisted classics, like the gothic cameos (mentioned above). I also like quite a bit of Steampunk fashion, and these aren’t the same Steampunk you can find all over the net. Delicate, feminine and classy; it doesn’t scream “Steampunk”, rather just “unique”.  

THE MITER BOX

http://www.themiterbox.org/

Beautiful wooden creations, by a husband and wife team, many with Celtic knot work or more Renaissance themes. The shop is online only and as mentioned, custom work takes time. Please contact them directly (not us at GF), to ask how long an order make take. They are an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism, if memory serves) household – so if you have any SCA fans/members on your list, I’m sure they’d treasure a gift from one SCA household, to theirs! 

Von’s Pick – Reagan (the wife part of this duo) has been a friend of mine for many years. Some of the beautiful, exotic woods she uses – in naturally rich, gemstone colors – are my favorite to see! She works with a deep plum one called “Purple Heart”, and I’ve been hinting to my husband that I can never have too many jewelry boxes! 

CATA VINOS

http://www.catavinoswines.com/

If you’re in, around or passing through Tucson, Cata Vinos is a wine lovers dream, tucked away off the street and hidden so well, if you blink, you’ll miss it. Most every wine is under $15 a bottle and they do offer tastings with palette cleansers (snacks), as well as wine by the glass or bottle and cater to special events. They often have a food truck onsite for special tastings and offer tapas style, small plates of meats, cheeses and olives for an additional fee, during tasting. Indoor and outdoor seating, a nice way to unwind after a long day of work or shopping, and maybe even find a gift for the wine lover on your list, while you’re there. 

Von’s Pick – Craig and I have never had a bad wine here, however the one we adore (and celebrated with for our local wedding reception when we returned from California), is a sparkling moscato and the name has completely escaped me. Owner, Yvonne, always remembers, so if you tell her Craig and Evonne, the two blondes sent you, that would likely tip her off! 

ELISA’S SOUL KISSES

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Elisasoulkisses

Handmade metaphysical tools, gems, oils, jewelry and more. Some very unusual finds, she also does auctions and flash sales on Facebook. 

Von’s Pick – The Hitman Protection Oil is the best! Infused with stone chips and herbs to help add a layer of protection against negativity and attacks, both psychic and physical, the clean, lightly citrusy scent is relaxing, refreshing and I wear it often for its anti-negativity benefits. Especially when out in public. The scent alone makes it perfect for anyone who likes a light, springy, slightly floral perfume oil. 

VIBES UP

http://shop.vibesup.com/

Products produced with ground crystals and other healing elements; range from bracelets to nail polish to their famous Earth Energy Mats, and are said to do everything from ease back pain to keep drinks colder, longer, based on this technology. They have a ton of products to chose from, so there’s bound to be something for everyone on your list! 

Von’s Pick – Not going to lie. I have quite the wish list here for Santa! But, after trying a very small piece of one of their original mats, I’d strongly suggest these! I’ve had a lot of migraines lately (tis the season, right?) and I can place one of these small pieces on my head, where the headache seems to center, and within minutes it’s gone or near gone. Make sure you read about the technology itself and some of the over 100 ways loyal fans suggest using it! 
Some of these businesses may look familiar from last year’s list – simply because they are so extraordinary! Some, have craftspeople who were on last year’s list, but have elected to showcase different talents. Some, are entirely new!  We strongly encourage you to support these and all small businesses, the community and the artisans behind this work – whether it be the little Ma&Pa diner who always makes your favorite dish just right or the amazing talents who sew, craft, create and astound everyone with their work! 

As mentioned, please let us know if you know a small business who needs some holiday love and we’ll check it out for the reposts. Yes, shopping small may cost a bit more, but you’re helping someone like you buy their kids gifts and put food on their table, as opposed to supporting some faceless CEO getting his/her 5th vacation home. 

  • Other ideas:
  • Visit a flea mall/antique mall/ garage sales/swap meet or check out one online for your area. Also consider “gently used” games/CDs/movies/books from a local small business that deals in such (Zia, Hansen’s, Bookmans). 
  • Offer to “trade” services with friends and family, instead of buying a gift (i.e., as a hairdresser, say coworkers all exchange services – I give the nail tech a hair cut and style, (s)he gives me a pedicure). Or, I offer my tattoo artist a cut and color in exchange for a small tattoo. 
  • If you’re giving a pet as a gift (always make sure the animal is wanted and the recipient able to care for the animal), adopt and don’t shop. Shelters need that donation, especially this time of year!  
  • Host company holiday parties at small restaurants/bars as opposed to big, multimillion dollar hotels and resorts. Smaller spaces encourage mingling and if the establishment doesn’t provide food, find a local caterer to do so! 
  • Shop farmers markets for in season ingredients for holiday meals. Or, ingredients like fresh honey for DIY gifts. 
  • Check out local vineyards, breweries and distilleries for the booze lover in your list. 
  • Here, we have what’s called the 4th Ave Street Fair, before the holidays. It’s in the artsy area of town and while it used to be far more local vendors, it still encourages shopping from smaller businesses – both those set up for the event and those who line the streets year ’round. Look for events like that by checking social media and local circulars and newspapers. 
  • Think charitable donations in lieu of traditional gifts. But! Wait for it! GF will be doing a blog soon on some legit ones and the etiquette behind gifting charity instead of goods. 

Think twice this holiday season! And shop small! 

Shop Small to Make a BIG Difference!

Each year, GF likes to encourage others to “shop small”, and support small businesses who are often struggling to stay afloat with so many bigger, often cheaper, options available. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016 is “Shop Small Saturday,” an annual, nationwide event, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, that encourages others to seek out small businesses to support who are also likely trying to provide an amazing holiday experience for their families! Not only are you helping contribute to your community (or theirs, as the case may be, since several of our shop small businesses on this list are online only or perhaps out of state from you), but you can find unique treasures for nearly anyone on your list – even the person who “has it all”. 

If you’re out and about, you can look for this symbol (or similar) to denote a small business. Go in and give them a “looksee”! Never know what hidden gem you may find! A lot of restaurants and bars will also display this symbol, so stop for a bite there instead of a fast food chain.


This list will be re-shared on GF’s Facebook and other social media, throughout the holiday season. It may grow, as we stumble upon more fabulous places, worthy of note, and simply because without the support of consumers, local and small artisans, shops, business owners, etc., may not have the support (financial and otherwise) to continue providing amazing, custom and creative visions for the rest of us to enjoy. 
Also know as “Small Business Saturday”, you can read more about it here. We strongly encourage you to shop small, as much as you can this holiday season – whether it be on Shop Small Saturday or not (let’s face it – some of us just aren’t quite ready for it to be Christmas yet) – and throughout the year! Here’s some of our favorite small businesses, to get you started! Please do share this list, feel free to contact us if you know a small business that deserves to be on the list and we also strongly encourage small businesses to patronize other small businesses, and allow that spirit to cycle! 

Please remember: 

  1. As noted, several times, custom work takes time. If you’re so much as remotely interested in a custom piece from any of these vendors, please contact them directly, ASAP, for more information, including creation time and shipping. Don’t discount a custom piece if it simply can’t be done before your holiday of choice! Wrap a picture/handwritten note/card or accessory (say, a pretty pair of earrings to go in the custom jewelry box you ordered) and explain the situation. When your custom piece does arrive, it allows the season of giving, to continue! 
  2. Check back as we repost the list (it won’t be a full blog, so make sure you follow us on FB and Instagram) to refresh your memory and see any potential new additions. 
  3. This was a success last year and we heard from several fans and business that they found the perfect gift/designed or shipped orders, as a result of GF’s list! How exciting! However, please remember the spirit of this season is kindness. If something isn’t for you, or anyone on your list, simply move on. Different folks means different strokes – negativity towards an artisan or their craft(s) is not well tolerated here. 
  4. Most of these businesses have FB pages too! Give them a like to stay updated on new creations and special events they may be hosting or participating in!!!

RAINBOW GODDESS DESIGNS

rainbowgoddessdesigns.com. 

Handmade crowns to beautiful, handmade jewelry creations. Flowers, feathers, mermaid, Native American, Dia de los Meurtos, even unicorn horns! She does custom work, too…just beware custom work takes time (since every piece is handmade) and so does shipping. Unique gifts for that person who has everything! Super affordable, too! 

Von’s Pick – I love the unicorn horns and matching tails because what little girl wouldn’t want to be a unicorn for Christmas?!? The peacock feathers and swords in exotic colors really set them apart. I also love the beautiful mermaid crowns, because y’all know I’m a mermaid by day! 

MY LIP STUFF

Mylipstuff.com

The most AMAZING lip balms you can get your pucker on! 700+ flavors, earth and animal friendly, custom flavors and labels, all made with love and the perfect amount of shine and “glide” to give you a perfect pout. Don’t forget to check out the other products as well, because the Healing Body Butter stick is a miracle in a tube. You will never use Neosporin again. 

Von’s pick – Pink Cake and Nighttime are my favorite balms, but the Healing Body Butter stick is something I never leave home without! It’s healed everything from minor cuts and scrapes, to deep wounds and even bruises, faster than any product I’ve ever used. 

PERFECTLY POSH

Thepamperedmom.po.sh

Perfectly Posh is a relatively new skin care venture but one I’m glad was made. Vegan and paraben free, they’ve got you covered from head to toe – literally. Amazing scents and only the finest in essential oils and ingredients, it’s a difference you can see and feel. Best part? Everything in their huge catalog is under $25! 

Von’s Pick – Moisturize 911

If you stuff one stocking with PP this season, stuff it with this amazing crème, full of brightening, toning and complexion perfecting ingredients to make your holidays truly glow. If you do order, and want to “treat” your hostess with the mostess (I get points) you can use my link here:

https://www.perfectlyposh.com/p/?pref=5181648

PINK ZEBRA

The most amazing wax warmers and scents to fill your home with holiday cheer. Forget those little cubes! Pink Zebra uses what they call “sprinkles”, which make for easy mixing and matching scents and you control how much scent you want! I’ve also not had any problems with this product doing what those little cubes did; melting plastic combs that are designed to withstand 500° temperatures, simply by placing a new cube on top of them and forgetting over night. They will work in any standard/electric wax warmer, but at PZ prices, check out some of the super cute ones they offer. Plus, they offer “soaks”, to make your own car air fresheners, scented toys, etc.! Have a warmer under the tree and a jar of sprinkles in the stocking! Or, make it a semi-handmade gift by creating uniquely scented car fresheners for friends and family (subtle hint to the teen who leaves half a pizza in his car until it’s unrecognizable or a sachet for Aunt Mary’s quilt closet). 

Von’s Pick – Pumpkin Amber is my go-to scent whenever I need a little pick-me-up! Less PSL, a touch more warmth from the amber and a splash of citrus make this scent relaxing and refreshing. Store bought pie? No problem! The Warm Apple Pie scent will have family and friends fooled in no time! 

POPPEDIFY

The. Best. Gourmet popcorn, second to none! Hand popped, in small batches, one bag to 100! And, sooooo many delicious flavors to choose from! Just the perfect amount of light, crispy, crunchy, “candy” coating (like kettle korn), this would be perfect in a Christmas Eve box, as a stocking stuffer or for co-worker gifts and holiday parties. Make sure you order extra because it goes fast and you’re definitely going to want your own! 

Von’s Pick – The Pumpkin Spice is decadent, but I adore mixing the Cherry and Cinnamon together (it’s like Cherry Sours and Cinnamon Bears candy, both which I love). Even not being an eggnog person, their Eggnog popcorn is divine! 

TWISTED SEAS

https://poshmark.com/closet/twisted

Beautiful and eclectic jewelry and handmade creations. Think classic pieces like cameos, meets Steampunk, Gothic and more. Every piece is handmade with amazing attention to detail and custom orders are accepted. Contact them directly to see if they can help create your ideal piece, as well as for pricing and times to create and ship. 

Von’s Pick – I love the twisted classics, like the gothic cameos (mentioned above). I also like quite a bit of Steampunk fashion, and these aren’t the same Steampunk you can find all over the net. Delicate, feminine and classy; it doesn’t scream “Steampunk”, rather just “unique”.  

THE MITER BOX

http://www.themiterbox.org/

Beautiful wooden creations, by a husband and wife team, many with Celtic knot work or more Renaissance themes. The shop is online only and as mentioned, custom work takes time. Please contact them directly (not us at GF), to ask how long an order may take. They are an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism, if memory serves) household – so if you have any SCA fans/members on your list, I’m sure they’d treasure a gift from one SCA household, to theirs! 

Von’s Pick – Reagan (the wife part of this duo) has been a friend of mine for many years. Some of the beautiful, exotic woods she uses – in naturally rich, gemstone colors – are my favorite to see! She works with a deep plum one called “Purple Heart”, and I’ve been hinting to my husband that I can never have too many jewelry boxes! 

CATA VINOS

http://www.catavinoswines.com/

If you’re in, around or passing through Tucson, Cata Vinos is a wine lovers dream, tucked away off the street and hidden so well, if you blink, you’ll miss it. Most every wine is under $15 a bottle and they do offer tastings with palette cleansers (snacks), as well as wine by the glass or bottle and cater to special events. They often have a food truck onsite for special tastings and offer tapas style, small plates of meats, cheeses and olives for an additional fee, during tasting. Indoor and outdoor seating, a nice way to unwind after a long day of work or shopping, and maybe even find a gift for the wine lover on your list, while you’re there. 

Von’s Pick – Craig and I have never had a bad wine here, however the one we adore (and celebrated with for our local wedding reception when we returned from California), is a sparkling moscato and the name has completely escaped me. Owner, Yvonne, always remembers, so if you tell her Craig and Evonne, the two blondes sent you, that would likely tip her off! 

ELISA’S SOUL KISSES

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Elisasoulkisses

Handmade metaphysical tools, gems, oils, jewelry and more. Some very unusual finds, she also does auctions and flash sales on Facebook. 

Von’s Pick – The Hitman Protection Oil is the best! Infused with stone chips and herbs to help add a layer of protection against negativity and attacks, both psychic and physical, the clean, lightly citrusy scent is relaxing, refreshing and I wear it often for its anti-negativity benefits. Especially when out in public. The scent alone makes it perfect for anyone who likes a light, springy, slightly floral perfume oil. 

VIBES UP

http://shop.vibesup.com/

Products produced with ground crystals and other healing elements; range from bracelets to nail polish to their famous Earth Energy Mats, and are said to do everything from ease back pain to keep drinks colder, longer, based on this technology. They have a ton of products to chose from, so there’s bound to be something for everyone on your list! 

Von’s Pick – Not going to lie. I have quite the wish list here for Santa! But, after trying a very small piece of one of their original mats, I’d strongly suggest these! I’ve had a lot of migraines lately (tis the season, right?) and I can place one of these small pieces on my head, where the headache seems to center, and within minutes it’s gone or near gone. Make sure you read about the technology itself and some of the over 100 ways loyal fans suggest using it! 
Some of these businesses may look familiar from last year’s list – simply because they are so extraordinary! Some, have craftspeople who were on last year’s list, but have elected to showcase different talents. Some, are entirely new!  We strongly encourage you to support these and all small businesses, the community and the artisans behind this work – whether it be the little Ma&Pa diner who always makes your favorite dish just right or the amazing talents who sew, craft, create and astound everyone with their work! 

As mentioned, please let us know if you know a small business who needs some holiday love and we’ll check it out for the reposts. Yes, shopping small may cost a bit more, but you’re helping someone like you buy their kids gifts and put food on their table, as opposed to supporting some faceless CEO getting his/her 5th vacation home. 

  • Other ideas:
  • Visit a flea mall/antique mall/ garage sales/swap meet or check out one online for your area. Also consider “gently used” games/CDs/movies/books from a local small business that deals in such (Zia, Hansen’s, Bookmans). 
  • Offer to “trade” services with friends and family, instead of buying a gift (i.e., as a hairdresser, say coworkers all exchange services – I give the nail tech a hair cut and style, (s)he gives me a pedicure). Or, I offer my tattoo artist a cut and color in exchange for a small tattoo. 
  • If you’re giving a pet as a gift (always make sure the animal is wanted and the recipient able to care for the animal), adopt and don’t shop. Shelters need that donation, especially this time of year!  
  • Host company holiday parties at small restaurants/bars as opposed to big, multimillion dollar hotels and resorts. Smaller spaces encourage mingling and if the establishment doesn’t provide food, find a local caterer to do so! 
  • Shop farmers markets for in season ingredients for holiday meals. Or, ingredients like fresh honey for DIY gifts. 
  • Check out local vineyards, breweries and distilleries for the booze lover in your list. 
  • Here, we have what’s called the 4th Ave Street Fair, before the holidays. It’s in the artsy area of town and while it used to be far more local vendors, it still encourages shopping from smaller businesses – both those set up for the event and those who line the streets year ’round. Look for events like that by checking social media and local circulars and newspapers. 
  • Think charitable donations in lieu of traditional gifts. But! Wait for it! GF will be doing a blog soon on some legit ones and the etiquette behind gifting charity instead of goods. 

Think twice this holiday season! And shop small!