It’s finally fall!Well, for some of you. It’s still as hot as Satan’s asshole here.
But, you know what that means?
Time for our annual SHOP SMALL HOLIDAY LIST!!!
This is one of my absolute favorite things to do every year! We’ve had wonderful results with it, too!
You may recognize a lot of theses places from last year’s list, but I will be adding to it soon – especially some fabulous food and accommodations my husband and I have experienced (check the very end of the list for some fabulous food recommendations!)!
Should you find an error or broken link, especially in your listing, or you are no longer “in business”, please don’t hesitate to correct us by contacting and/or updating in comments.
Drum roll, please…
Shop Small This Holiday (and After)!
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, during the holidays and throughout the year. We may post photos of some of the businesses we feature and/or their product(s), either from their site(s) or that I’ve taken personally (source will always be noted) and you will typically find these little bits of eye candy on FB and Instagram so you can get an idea of why we found them so truly awesome! Make sure you follow us on ALL our social media!
*** Glitter Fantasy NEVER accepts bribes and/or threats to promote a business, product or provide positive feedback/reviews. Please see our PR and review policies on our main blog at:
Any information provided about products and services is based on information provided by the company and our personal opinions. ***
WHAT DOES “VON’S PICK” MEAN?
In case you’re new to GF, I’m Von (short for Evonne) and I’m your “hostess with the mostess”! Mermaid by day, bat goddess by night, I’m a little batty and black roses, meets beach babe and glitter! I have a broad spectrum of eclectic tastes and “Von’s Picks” are simply my favorites or personal recommendations, if I have one, which I usually do. As GF is growing, my husband Craig, has become more involved and I value his opinion as well. You’ll see me speak of him often. Sometimes we agree; others we agree to disagree or simply like different things. I find it refreshing to add a male perspective, since despite the name, we do have a considerable male following and it allows a second opinion, so you will also see mention of his thoughts in the “Von’s Picks” sections.
“Shop Small Saturday,” an annual, nationwide event, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, encourages others to seek out small businesses to support who are also likely trying to provide an amazing holiday, and everyday, experience for their families! We started this tradition to promote small business during the winter holiday season, but it’s been so successful, we’ve decided to continue it year ’round. 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, for any occasion – even the person who “has it all”.
This list will be re-shared on GF’s Facebook and other social media, throughout the holiday season and periodically throughout the year (watch around major holidays, but great to bookmark and keep in mind for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, baby showers, promotions and other special events). It will 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.
We strongly encourage you to shop small, as much as you can during the 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, or any other holiday…they tend to sneak up on us all) – 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!
As noted, several times, custom work takes time. If you’re so much as remotely interested in a custom piece from any of these artisans, please contact them directly 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 and explain the situation. When your custom piece does arrive, it allows the spirit of giving, to continue! And, anticipation is half the fun (unless you’re waiting for ketchup before your fries get cold)!
Check back as we repost the list, throughout the year, to refresh your memory and see any new additions as we stumble upon them. We attend several events, do reviews periodically and have several opportunities to experience new, exciting and previously undiscovered treasures.
This was a success our first year doing it, 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 this is someone’s creativity, time, effort and passion! If something isn’t for you, or anyone in your life, simply move on. Different folks means different strokes – negativity towards an artisan or their craft(s) is not well tolerated here.
Most of these businesses have FB pages, Instagram and Twitter accounts too! Give them a like to stay updated on new creations, sales, promotions and special events they may be hosting or participating in (many travel as well)!!! They are in no particular order, so make sure to scope the entire list, and often! Updates go at the bottom, with an approximate date and explanation. Please, by all means, let the business know you came across them through us!
If you happen to be a business we’ve listed, this is simply something we do to help you out. No charge, no obligation. It’s simply some free advertising because you have a product that we’ve decided is worthy of promoting! If you find an error, please don’t hesitate to notify us so we can rectify it! A page like on any or all of our social media is definitely appreciated, as is sharing, and if you find it in your heart to do so, please shoot us a note and let us know if you’ve filled an order due to someone seeing your site through us! It makes us feel great and let’s us know what’s working to help YOU grow and create!
REMEMBER TO WATCH FOR PHOTOS, SPECIAL REVIEWS, IN-DEPTH FEATURES, EVEN INTERVIEWS, AS WELL AS NEW ADDITIONS TO THE LIST! IT CAN HAPPEN AT ANY TIME!
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RAINBOW GODDESS DESIGNS
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! You can often find Iris at Second Saturdays in downtown Tucson, so you definitely want to follow her on FB!
Von’s Pick – I love the unicorn horns and matching tails because what little girl (or boy) wouldn’t want to be a unicorn?!? 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
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 Brea’s 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 is a relatively new skin care venture but one I’m glad was made. Vegetarian (some even 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! Fun fact: the scraps from their “Chunk” body soaps, are “repurposed” and sent to prisons, women’s shelters and more!
Von’s Pick – Moisturize 911
If you try just one PP product, make it this amazing crème, full of brightening, toning and complexion perfecting ingredients to make your skin truly glow. If you do order, and want to “treat” your hostess with the mostess (I get points) you can use my link here:
The most amazing wax warmers and scents to fill your home with your favorite scents or seasonal 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 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). If you ask Kim nicely, she may just send you a handpicked sample, too!
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! They’re always coming out with new scents, too.
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, holiday parties or delicious snacking during a party, a big game or movie night. 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! Some are seasonal, so always double check.
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
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 above, 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 gifting 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!
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 or 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
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.
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! 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 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!
NEW TO THE LIST (12.01.16 – RECOMMENDED)
JAYMZ KENNEDY PHOTOGRAPHY
LILMIZDANGER CLOTHING AND CRAFTS
NEW TO THE LIST! (12.10.16 – 4TH AVENUE WINTER STREET FAIR)
RISK E BUSINESS LOTION IN A BAR
Von’s Pick – The Pearberry and Sore Muscle were my favorites! Lightweight, non greasy lotion in a bar that leaves skin soft and comes in a variety of scents, some of which, like Sore Muscle, can multitask so you don’t have to!
MY MARVELOUS MYSTICS
Von’s Pick – The dragon decor is gorgeous and prices are amazing! My son adores dragons and with his 22nd birthday fast approaching, we’re definitely keeping this in our “back pocket”. Ask for Jessica if you don’t see what you’re looking for and she may be able to custom order! Mention GF AND the street fair!
Von’s Pick – Beautiful and reasonably priced Metaphysical items, with a brick-and-mortar store in Tucson on 4th Avenue. My husband got me THE most adorable witches’ cauldron earrings, some gemstone pendants for himself and they have some wonderful Nag Champa and other incenses.
JEFF PRICE ART GLASS
Von’s Pick – Breathtaking is the only word to describe his work! Craig gifted me with, well, I’m not sure what exactly to call it, but it’s like the most gorgeous, perfect glass bubble…that can never pop (break, yes. Pop, not so much). His iridescent paperweights and ornaments also stunning, you have to see it to believe how beautiful and affordable his art is.
Von’s Pick – I will sit and eat good balsamic vinegar all day, by the spoonful. I have Craig hooked too. The Sweet Heat, Chocolate Orange and both the white and standard Strawberry have my mouth watering at the very thought! Also a huge selection of custom blended oils and other edibles. Craig also really liked their Basil oil and Garlic balsamic.
RUNNING WITH SCISSORS
Von’s Pick – The punk rock jewelry is an amazingly eclectic bit of everything goth, punk, scene, emo and more! My husband pointed out makeup brush earrings that I fell for, earrings based on state (they only had Arizona on hand, but I’m hinting at a pair of New York ones for my impending birthday) and the bat hair bow was to die for (I just don’t do headbands/hats/bows). Eclectic and unique, look long enough and you’ll find something for you (or the person in your life who is impossible to shop for)! There’s also some unique games that, depending on age, may make a great gift to encourage Family Game Night!
Von’s Pick – My husband pointed out makeup brush earrings that I fell for, earrings based on state (they only had Arizona on hand, but I’m hinting at a pair of New York ones for my impending birthday) and several other gorgeous goodies. I wasn’t sure where to look! Eclectic and unique, look long enough and you’ll find something for you (or the person in your life who is impossible to shop for)! Handmade, laser-cut creations, they sell equipment and supplies as well.
Von’s Pick – Handcrafted and gourmet sauces, Peppery Strawberry had Craig and me intrigued. And, it didn’t disappoint! Would make a fabulous dressing for a summer salad. THEN, we saw Jalapeño and Green Apple, which we approached with caution. Not because of the heat, rather the bizarre combination. O. M. G.! Pure genius and a must try! Absolutely amazing (and the company name is just plain fun to say)!
LILY WEIL SPORTS NUTS
Von’s Pick – The walnuts dressed in college and pro sports team gear, “head to nut” are adorable, but I’m highly allergic. Then, I turned around and noticed her duct tape rose pen creations! Talk about talent and patience! A Jets rose pen definitely made it home with us! Email her for any of your sport fanatic needs and I’m sure she’ll help you out! Mention GF and the 4th Avenue Winter Street Fair to let her know who sent ya!
Von’s Pick – Handmade in small batches, fair trade chocolate and caramels, sweetened with Sonoran Desert wildflower honey. With gluten free, soy lecithin and dairy free products as well, Craig and I fell for their Baby Desert Tortoise, using Arizona honey glazed, organic pecans (fun fact – it’s the largest organic pecan grove in the country), topped with their soft, delicious vanilla honey caramel and the pièce de résistance, the luscious, organic, fair trade, honey-sweetened chocolate. Extra fun fact: they have a tasting room in Tubac, Arizona, where like wine, you can go in, belly up to the bar, and indulge in soft, rich honey-sweetened caramels that embrace unique Southwestern flavors like jalapeño, among other confections. I hope they have a fork lift, because they will be lifting or rolling Craig and me out of there!
SWEET AND SAUCY
Von’s Pick – “So good…it’s sinful” is most definitely an appropriate motto for this “Queen of all things chocolate”! Craig and I fell hard for the ooey gooey seasonal Autum Harvest Caramel sauce, but we had to back away from the Chipotle and Cabernet hot fudge chocolate sauces that were like an orgasm in our mouths! Several boozy flavors in the caramels and chocolates, being a mustard girl, and from New York where deli mustard is King, I’m now itching to try the Bloody Mary and Heaven and Hell mustards – and if I know my husband, which I do, Honey Roasted Garlic and Onion and Tequila Lime mustards would be his picks for a more savory sin.
SEAN PARKER PHOTOGRAPHY
Von’s Pick – Beautiful, scenic photography. His aurora borealis and lightning shots are particularly spectacular.
SAN FRANCISCO CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Von’s Pick – Gourmet caramel apples in amazing flavor combinations, so packed with toppings, there’s no way I could get even my big mouth around them without making a mess! Much easier on the wallet than some of the big brands the television shopping networks and magazines like to push. The real hidden gem here, is the homemade fudge that literally melted in our mouths as we walked down the street, taking turns feeding each other so one of us would have a clean hand at all times! I know a certain candy company likes to brag their candy melts in your mouth and not your hand, but licking our fingers clean after devouring this rich, decadent confection was not only romantic, but gave us a few extra seconds to savor this amazing treat. Worth every pound I’m sure went straight to my hips!
Von’s Pick – While Craig couldn’t be around this due to his scent-sitivities, they offer oils, sprays, balms and candles made from the highest quality peppermint and spearmint, coming from the oldest, independent mint farm left in the United States. A couple drops of pure peppermint oil on my aching back, right where my surgeries were, relieved about 45% of my pain, in minutes, and lasted a good hour. I take STRONG, big pharma painkillers for my chronic back pain, and this worked better, faster. Check out their site for tons of tips on how these amazing mints can benefit you; everything to pain relief and focus, to household uses and stress. Fun fact: they also offer a Soil Rejuvenator, which is a compost produced from the mint plants after the oils have been extracted and is a must have for anyone who gardens or even keeps houseplants. Aids and assists in seed starting, retention of moisture, reduces transplant shock and is micro-nutrient ready. There’s a product we all know and love that boasts growing larger, more abundant fruits and flowers, but I love the idea that NONE of Peppermint Jim’s crop goes to waste!
Von’s Pick – Award winning BBQ sauces, steak sauces and rubs, the Rattlesnake Rub has been a favorite in our household since we discovered it four or five years ago. I’ve used it on everything from steak, to seafood to veggie blends, it’s a kick of flavor that’s more than just heat – a huge peeve of mine. We love spicy, but we also love flavor; many products get so wrapped up in the amount of heat for those “thrill seekers”, it ends there and leaves you with a flaming mouth, clear sinuses and little else. The Chipotle is also fabulous, with that hint of smokey flavor and we both really liked the Chili Lime, which is a tad milder but every bit as tasty. And, no matter if you prefer a mustard based BBQ sauce or a more traditional tomato, they’ve got something for you! Some pretty impressive awards, too!
ECOSYSTEMS OF HAWAII
Von’s Pick – These beautiful mini and completely self sustaining ecosystems make traditional aquariums a thing of the past. Absolutely fascinating to watch, they contain “little living souls inside”, which are actually Opae’ula, a miniature red shrimp indigenous to Hawaii, but actually looked more like tiny fish to us. The best part? The only time you have to open the tank is to replace any evaporated brackish salt water, which can be done with mineral-free, distilled or purified drinking water. Perfect for a first pet, an office or even a spa/massage treatment room.
(I kinda feel like this is a classy, adult version of “Sea Monkeys”.)
LIL SASSY’S SALSA
Von’s Pick – With quite a selection of sass in these salsas, Craig and I loved the Ghostly Pepper Salsa. The Ghost Pepper or Bhut Jolokia WAS the world’s hottest pepper, until recently when the Carolina Reaper knocked it from the throne, this definitely has some serious sass but didn’t leave us feeling like we were having our insides ripped out. They have a couple even hotter, also fantastic, and several milder variations for the less sassy salsa connoisseur.
PATRICK’S FAMOUS PIES
Von’s Pick – If you love sweet potatoes, which we do, or just want an alternative to pumpkin, this is the place for you! Patrick is famous (and every bit as humble) for his potato perfection, but the southern staple gets a new twist with his sweet potato bread. Forget the rolls. Pass the potatoes (bread), please!
Von’s Pick – These divine, hand-beaded creations are a tad on the pricey side. But, once you understand the love, passion, patience and time that goes into these wearable works of art, the sticker shock quickly turns to respect for the artist talent involved. I loved the frosted glass bracelets that resembled tiny little grape clusters, still on the vine, ripe and ready to eat. By no means outrageous, Christine was lovely and her spirit really is reflected in her work. If you want to sport a piece and not ever have to worry about the “same dress at a cocktail party” nightmare, this is the page for you! Classy, colorful and chock-full of true artisanal talent, don’t let the opportunity to own (or gift) one of her unique pieces pass you by!
MUNCH N’ GRUB
Von’s Pick – Snack food fans, rejoice! They take snack classics and upgrade them to the next level! I’m going to say it – I HATE that popular convenience store snack that’s crunchy kernels of corn, comes in about 15 flavors that all taste the same (like cardboard), are so hard, you’d better pray to the corn Gods you have great teeth and the smell? Ugh. The smell alone will make me nauseous. However, unless I’m allergic or ethically opposed to something, I’ll try just about anything more than once, because like the seasons, people and tastes change. Also, like most things in life, when you’re not sacrificing quality for quantity or cost, most anything is better. I’m so glad the folks at Munch N’ Grub, and my corn snack loving husband, convinced me to give these a go! Gourmet flavors that far surpass ranch (and we’re ranch junkies), these were easy to chew, smelled like corn and whatever flavor as opposed to burning hair and most importantly, were delicious. The bleu cheese flavor was phenomenal and I think I snacked on more of them than Craig did! They also produce a moist, meaty and tender beef jerky. No shoe leather here! Melt in your mouth, in several drool-worthy flavors that gave you full Spicy Teriyaki or American Whiskey flavor (our two favorites) that didn’t overpower the perfectly dehydrated beef. Hot, mild, sweet and combinations of all the above, a great “couch coaching”, sport fanatic snack (college football bowls and the Super Bowl are both coming up), Paleo staple and man (or woman) cave necessity. Skip the cereal snack mix and canned, mixed nuts and serve these instead – just make sure you had a couple bags of both for yourself!
MAGGIE JOYCE JEWELRY
Von’s Pick – “Recycling at its Prettiest”, this takes up cycling to a whole new level. By recycling optic lenses (read: glasses), Maggie creates stunning jewelry creations. Every shade of the rainbow shows up in her frosted glass adornments for everywhere BUT your eyes! The only thing your eyes have to do is feast on these beautiful ombré masterpieces, that remind me of well worn sea glass. Again, a little more expensive than some of our finds, I adored the hot pink to black ink earrings and cool cerulean fade through shades of indigo and into rich violet, pendants. Definitely a conversation piece and a gift (to you or anyone else) that will be treasured for years to come – especially if you print out her story/method and include it. Good for the earth, good for the soul.
Von’s Pick – Sadly, we weren’t able to taste these but these are a feast for the eyes. Openly admitting they’re, “too pretty to eat, but taste too good not to”, and with exciting flavor combinations like Thai Spice, Blackberry Lavender, Celtic Caramel and Pistachio Rose, these would make a beautiful hostess gift or a way to win over the in-laws. Be prepared though because you’ll definitely take a backseat to these stunning sweets!
Von’s Pick – Old fashioned, handcrafted wooden toys, bright primary colors, baby safe and earth friendly, Doug creates memories. Trains, planes, cars – even hand stamped wooden blocks, prices are super affordable, and the bit of nostalgia provided for those like Craig and me, who became five years old again while in Doug’s booth, as well as the new memories you’ll create with your kids as you get them away from the phone/iPad/TV and interacting with these meticulously crafted toys of yesteryear; priceless! Made with love, care and the skills earned with years of crafting dedication.
SUNSHINE SPECIALTY FOODS
Von’s Pick – Salsas, Relishes (don’t think hot dogs, per se – think sweet and/or savory, coarsely chopped, fruit and vegetable medleys that typically aren’t cooked down), jams and jellies. Craig, who had never had jalapeño jelly popped his pepper with this perfectly balanced spread of sweet and heat, which has him hooked! It’d be delicious on a cheese tray or on baked Brie (even cream cheese or goat cheese and crackers for us frugal ones). Our other favorite was the mild, sweet and tangy relish made with peppers, onions and zucchini! I think it would be fantastic on a Chicago-style dog…or straight from the jar with a spoon!
WOODN’T IT BE NICE
Etsy.com (search: Woodn’tBeNice)
Von’s Pick – Custom, handmade bowls, platters, boxes and ornaments made from reclaimed wood native to Arizona, like Mesquite, Acacia, Olive and Sumac. Some even feature turquoise accents, in the Asian tradition of Kintsugi, which repairs and strengthens cracks in items like glass or pottery with gold, silver, bronze, platinum, etc., to accent the flaw and recognize its unique beauty as opposed to covering it up. Much like humans, our flaws are what make us unique and beautiful, this practice dates back 15th century Japan and Bill takes great pride in accenting these surprisingly beautiful woods in the same fashion.
(Read more about Kintsugi here:
Craig and I fell in love with the delicate turquoise accents that really highlighted the beautiful, natural variations of these reclaimed and sustainable woods.
Von’s Pick – Delicious, huge, high quality olives, stuffed with everything imaginable (with the possible exception of the kitchen sink)! Giant jars of garlic cloves had Craig salivating, too. Both olive fans, although Craig typically doesn’t favor bleu cheese, the mild, yet still tangy chunks were the perfect compliment to the briny olives. They claim to be “Napa’s finest”, and I certainly wouldn’t argue! Dress up a cheese plate, add to salads and dressings and bonus – save all the olive or garlic brine and “pickle” eggs or veggies to make sure you can enjoy every last salty, spicy drop! Or, add a bit to soups, stews, sauces and more for a gourmet kick and extra bang for your buck!
ADORN BY SAMOUCE
Von’s Pick – “Vintage statement jewelry”, these pieces aren’t for the faint of heart! A touch of Victorian, a splash of Steampunk, a little gothic mermaid and a very heirloom feel. Most pieces are quite large, but classy and tasteful, despite their size. Craig, while not for him, remarked about a neckpiece with a compass embedded into it, while a mermaid’s dream, complete with sea shells and maybe even a dinglehopper or two, had my eye.
Von’s Pick – Pretty self explanatory, and even tho it was popular a bit before my time, like bats, glitter and mermaids, I have a definite soft spot for bright colors and all kinds of tie dye! Shirts, tanks, shirts, dresses and more, infant to an amazing adult 6XL.
Beautiful custom jewelry in silver inlay and intarsia; a variety of unique settings and stones.
J.M. Havet Jewelry
Jeha68@gmail.com – contact for more details. She didn’t seem terribly interested in taking custom orders, but as one half of the creative team, one never knows!
We often forget, shopping small applies to eateries as well! Stop in and treat yourself to some fabulous nomz while you’re shopping this season!
CASEY MOORE’S OYSTER BAR
O. M. F. G. good! If you love oysters like we do, this is a MUST TRY!!! Craig and I found this gem for our second wedding anniversary in downtown Tempe. While waiting for our hotel room to become available, we stopped in for a snack – a humongous plate of clam strips and a couple Irish ciders. Patrick, the bartender and Danielle, our server for both lunch and dinner were fantastic! Right in the middle of ASU territory, this rustic little bar is easy to miss – so double, triple check your GPS. You DO NOT want to miss this eclectic little shanty, filled with everything from college kids to salty blue collar guys having a beer after work to families with small kids. Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, music that changes to reflect the time of day and crowd, it looks a bit run down from the outside. Being a historically marked location explains that.
And, the oysters! The huge, melt in your mouth, on the half shell and fried oysters are simply to die for! Best seafood I’ve had in Arizona by a long shot – maybe even best oysters I’ve had period! Whatever you do, a squeeze of lemon is all these bad boys need but don’t deny yourself the house made cocktail sauce with a horseradish that will literally knock you on your ass it’s so good! The Irish cider is also amazing – when in an Irish pub, one must drink an Irish cider! Please tell Patrick and Danielle the two blondes from Tucson, celebrating their wedding anniversary sent you…and said, “see ya again, soon!”
Okay, not exactly as small a business as we usually promote, but a humble beginning and a rapid growth. Hubby and I went to celebrate our eight year anniversary. We will absolutely be back!
The food is fresh and delicious! Think that sandwich chain that makes your sub right in front of you, but with pizza. All the classic options like pepperoni and mushrooms, along with unique and tasty options like roasted brusel sprouts and artichokes…even garbanzo beans. We could both taste every single ingredient on our create your own minis. I adore there is no additional charge per ingredient.
The garlic strips are also fantastic. Their nut-free pesto so good it had me fooled! I’m uber picky about pesto and I was shocked to learn it is, in fact, pine nut free. The fig balsamic also delicious! Thick and rich, as a good balsamic should be.
Wine and beer served on tap which we had the white wine blend from WA. Good but perhaps a bit pricey for the amount. However, the Marion blackberry lemonade and caramelized pear ice tea were amazing! I don’t care for sweet tea, but could drink that all day. The hand blended chocolate shake with salted toffee bits was also phenomenal.
The atmosphere is warm and inviting, with both indoor and outdoor seating. We saw a bit of everyone in there as well – older couples, families, bikers and more. All were treated with respect and the same friendly attitude from the staff.
Every staff member we encountered was friendly, upbeat and polite. Our questions were answered in an efficient manner and never seemed to be a bother.
Many thanks to Lynn, Stephanie, Marlene (I believe) and especially Lexi, who went out of her way to ensure our visit was phenomenal!
My husband and I have a streak of bad luck with Mexican restaurants lately. Either the food is bad (taste and/or it makes us ill from food-born/cross-contaminated/spoiled products), service is awful, or we’ve actually been asked to leave because we’re white and “our kind isn’t welcome”. Seriously.
We’ve seen a newborn baby (4-6mo) having its diaper changed in the kitchen, had spit in our food as we’re called names in Spanish (which I speak), and been “refused service” because management didn’t want to honor advertised prices.
Maria’s, in this little tiny town, was a wonderful change!
Our server, Karina, was awesome! She was attentive without “hovering” and had a sweet smile and disposition towards everyone who walked in the door.
The food was fresh and hot and delicious! Plus, portions were huge. My husband had a short stack of some of the lightest, fluffiest, best tasting pancakes I’ve had in awhile. I had a cheese omelette, which I asked to add green chilies to, and I don’t know where they’re getting the “three eggs” for the omelette, but it must be an ostrich because it was huge (obviously they’re chicken eggs – just wow!)! No skimping on the cheese or fresh chilies either! They were the best chilies I’ve had outside of Hatch, NM; if they bring them in, they do an amazing job of transporting and preserving the flavor. Hash browns were deliciously crispy on the outside and moist on the “inside”. While I was a bit disappointed to hear they don’t make the tortillas in-house, they make the chips and salsa. The salsa is a bit milder than I like, but so flavorful, the heat wasn’t necessary. We got chips and salsa (and two boxes!) to go.
Coffee was fresh and actually tasted like coffee, instead of some of the watered down mud we’ve had recently at restaurants. I’m from NY and expect strong, black coffee – I’m also used to “Mom&Pop diner coffee” – I swear some of what I’ve had out here is literally mud scooped out of the dumpsters. My husband doesn’t drink coffee, but sat and waited for me to have four cups since the atmosphere was so pleasant and we could enjoy each other’s company and relax on a Saturday morning before heading to the Gila river.
It’s nothing fancy – it’s a small-town cafe type place; a bit run-down in the outside and if you blink, you’ll miss it. I’m so glad we stopped though! My husband saw it and suggested it after a restaurant in Catalina, AZ served us cold food and coffee, that was so bad, we both refused to eat it (I’m picky – hubby not really. When *he* complains, it’s BAD). The artwork that lines the walls is beautiful (and for sale!) and everyone who walked in and out was pleasantly friendly. We can’t wait to go back and try them for lunch and dinner!!! Highly recommended and totally worth the scenic drive from Tucson.
Thank you, Karina! And, your “little helper”, who also came by to check on us! Please also send our regards to your chef on duty, who made us the best breakfast we’ve had since leaving NY in May! You made our morning, which was off to a bad start, the beginning of a lovely day!!!
Fantastic food and huge portions, for really decent prices.
On our first night there, my burger had been severely over-cooked. The blonde, night manager (we didn’t get her name), rectified the situation immediately and left us better as a result. Our server that night was a bit…slow…but it was close to close and the manager certainly made up for it.
We went back, two days later for breakfast, which was equally as fantastic! We ordered lunch to go and it’s so much food, we still have leftovers, almost five days later!
The staff treated us well – I’m heavily tattooed and pierced and my husband has long hair – we’re used to being treated like crap in “Ma and Pa” type places, especially in AZ (I’m from NY, where it’s no big deal). Never batted an eye.
I wish I could give more than 5 stars! Really! The Philly sandwich and biscuits and gravy are phenomenal! I don’t know what other people are doing to give this establishment such low ratings, but it’s not the restaurant’s fault.
We will return, next time we find ourselves in the area! For sure!!!
Wish they’d ship those phillys overnight to us!!! Best I’ve had, outside PA!!!
Fantastic food at phenomenal prices! The baby shrimp were huge! Hot and sour soup made to order (I’m allergic to pork), and shrimp egg rolls with whole shrimp had hubby happy! Will definitely eat here again next time we’re in NY!
DENNY’S BEER BARREL
Hubby and I stopped here on our way to NY – food was fantastic! Service definitely left something to be desired. Our server, Victoria, seemed to be the only one on the floor so we were trying to be very patient with the wait. When she up and left without saying anything and we had to get a bartender to cash us out, that was annoying.
The hostess? Complete snob! She seemed bothered to be there and would let lines of customers pile up at the door. Then, when someone would tell her she had a line, would roll her eyes and audibly express her dissatisfaction. Daddy or Mommy must be owner/manager, because having worked the food industry, that behavior would never be tolerated otherwise.
Also disliked that they won’t cook to order and have so many rules about substitutions. Narrowed down the enormous menu fast for us, having food allergies.
The food itself was fabulous though and the establishment has a unique charm – when you find it! Very difficult to find and tucked back by itself.
Hubby took me home to NY for our first wedding anniversary (been together 8 years)/honeymoon/Mother’s Day/his birthday/vacation. We had lunch here on our anniversary and was amazing as always! Great table, stellar service and food that’s just to die for! Our server, Richard, was absolutely amazing! The striped bass with crispy clams and quahog sauce melted in our mouths. Never miss a chance to eat here when I’m at home! If you’re in or going to NYC, don’t deny yourself this luxurious experience! The concept of celebrity chef Bobby Flay, this is hands down my FAVORITE restaurant in the world!
SOUTH BEACH BAR AND GRILLE
Always fantastic! The Wahoo is to die for and the bloody Mary’s fantastic. Always packed, so service is often slow, but polite and efficient. Huge portions, reasonably priced with an amazing view of Ocean Beach! The fried platter is definitely a favorite of hubby and mine!
JIMMY’S FAMOUS AMERICAN TAVERN
Fantastic food and service! The best calamari; so tender and full of flavor. And, the fish and chips were delicious. When they say “big plates”, they mean big plates! The ahi poke also fabulous ~super fresh and light.
Great view, fast, friendly service and terrific atmosphere.
THE DEPOT AND JOHNNY RINGO’S
Great bloody Mary! Made to order, with amazing options! Located in historic Tombstone (rather right outside of), if you adore a good Bloody Mary, Caesar, Maria or whatever you call it, THIS is your place! Check out the Birdcage Theater and other local haunts while you’re there!