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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Last Holiday Gift Ideas

Give the gift of giving; donate to a charity, for yourself or for someone who you know is interested in a particular charity or type of charity.  

Donate to a local historical society; there are many throughout New Jersey.

Donate to an animal rescue group or to a wildlife organization.  Again, there are many in New Jersey.

Here are a few charities I intend to donate to before the end of the year:

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital -- "Our vision is to be the world leader in advancing the treatment and prevention of catastrophic diseases in children." 

Heifer International -- make it possible for you, through a range of gifts, to help others.  Because I prefer to not be involved with the gift of animals, I'm happy that they have useful and affordable gifts like honeybees and stoves that will be of valuable to someone elsewhere.

Donate to Smile Train or Operation Smile and make a huge difference in the life of a child.  

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) GreenGifts provides a variety of ways that you can donate, for yourself or someone else, to help our environment.  

Finally, for now, The American Red Cross do many things to help people.

Remember, depending on the charity of your choice, many of your donations also benefit you and your donations are tax deductible.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday.

We'll be back in the New Year.  May it be a better year for us all.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Have you run out of shopping steam yet?

I'm nearly finished.  I still have a couple of errands to run and food to plan and get before the big day.

Some last minute Christmas suggestions:

Thinking of a pet for someone?  Think twice.  A pet is for life.  One of the things I do routinely, is repost FB posts of lost, found, abandoned pets, no-kill shelter posts and posts of rescue organizations.  There are thousands of missing, lost, found, abandoned and homeless animals in New Jersey alone.  If you know someone who's pet is missing or, if you find a dog or cat, or anything else, actually, take a look here.  There have been, happily, lots of reunions because of them:  Lost and Found Pets New Jersey (it's a brilliant idea and it's been working).

So, if you are serious about a pet, don't buy from a breeder or, especially, a pet store, visit our Directory of Wildlife and Animal Rescue and give a homeless animal a home for Christmas.

Thinking of animals, Lakota Wolf Preserve was open as of yesterday and is a great outing.  You might check with them if winter weather returns and give another gift and ask what they might need in supplies, etc.

This blog and the directories are focused on small, local, independent businesses in New Jersey but, every once in a while, something online catches my eye and I think you'll find this product and enterprise of interest:  Inkkas    
I love these.  When Christmas is over and I've recovered, fiscally, I will definitely be ordered a pair for myself and for my granddaughter.

A few more suggestions (I am running out of steam):

Flim Flam Candles, Cape may have truly unique and lovely candles.

Barbara at Devilbiss Designs provides period doll fashions for porcelain dolls.

Jewelry?  Thomas D. Cherin in Westfield or Michal Negrin in Atlantic City.

Lovely knits from Nahyat Designs.

So happy for the warm wind and thaw today.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Time spent together is better than stuff

Trying to be more green; trying to reduce consumption; trying to reduce the accumulation of stuff, we think that the gift of activities and time together is better than the gift of stuff.

Decorating together for Christmas, or any holiday, for that matter, especially with the kids or grandkids, is a great way to spend the holidays.  Making Christmas ornaments, before getting a tree, is a gift in itself.

There are tons of ideas and instructions online.  I've picked a video on How to Fold a Poinsettia from YouTube.  There are many more.

I've seen a few origami crane Christmas trees.  The origami crane is easy to make and many children already know how to make them.  

I've added some Christmas books and DVDs to our online shop, including a really nice adult Christmas novel, by Frederick Forsyth, I read a long time ago.  Click on the the links to buy them through me or visit your nearest independent bookstore; they will usually special order for you but time is flying.

And, don't forget mulled cider and hot chocolate.


More Holiday Shopping Suggestions

How about a kids After Christmas Party as a holiday gift?  You can do it at home with craft gifts and books for each child and, of course, holiday treats.  Or you can make arrangement for a party at any of these places:

Paint-a-Treasure -- Haddon Heights

Culinary Kids At Home -- Princeton area

Bee N' Crafty -- Nutley

Jump Zone -- Hillsborough

Monkey Town -- Turnersville

and this and that:

Creative Genius Art Gallery and Studio -- Medford

Cape May Miniatures -- Williamstown

Candles in the Attic -- Millville

Down Cellar -- Basking Ridge

Flim Flam Candles -- Cape May

Tachair Bookshoppe -- Jersey City

Ivy Cottage Baskets -- see website

That's it for now.  Our connection is troublesome this morning.  More tomorrow.

Doing Business:

The trend is toward small, local independent business.  It's also our focus.  So, even if you're doing business online, it's a good idea to indicate where you're based and absolutely important, if you're a brick-and-mortar store to have your address and hours on your website, blog and/or Facebook page.  Otherwise, nobody can find you.

I recently stopped in to an Applebees on the long trek to visit my father in rural New York state.  As I waited for my order, I notice that the decor was different and unique.  On closer look, I realized that it was all large blown up and collaged images of local sports teams, events and organizations.  I talked to the manager a bit.  While Applebees is, of course, a restaurant chain, the company headquarters has had the idea of sponsoring and being involved with local activities.  It's a great idea.  For those of you who are independent, local businesses, don't let the chains out do you in this activity.  You may not have all the money and staff they have but you can do something to support your local community.  Think of something related to your products and services or just something dear to your community.  Find out more about it.  Talk to people involved.  What can you do to contribute?  Do it regularly:  annually, seasonally, whatever works for you and the community.  Make your business known for supporting that one thing.

Finally, I told that Applebee's manager that I would mention his restaurant in my blog.  He never asked the address of my blog.  I know he's busy.  So am I.  It's always a good idea, particularly when someone is being supportive and spreading the word about you, to show enough interest to check out what they've actually done.  I believe that small, local, independent businesses need to find ways to partner and support each other.  The more unique and inventive the partnerships the better.  It gets attention.  It makes you and your business human and it's appreciated by customers who notice.

And, BTW, we are a business.  I was just asked, for the first time, about an ad on our blog.  We've been at this for about a year and a half.  There isn't enough traffic to our site yet to expect to make money but I'd appreciate it if you'd visit from time to time, add a comment, drop us an email, correct and criticize the site.  I love finding all the wonderful independent businesses, products and services, quite honestly, I could use a little income from all the time I spend on this.  Thank you.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas is best with kids

And, with that in mind, we'll continue our 

Holiday Gift Suggestions -- for kids

We will be making every attempt, despite the specific materialistic wishes of the kids and grandkids, to do our holiday shopping at unique, independent, local brick-and-mortar businesses; driving past the malls and national chain stores.

So, where can we find toys, games and other holiday treats locally?  There's quite a list of toy stores (some for bigger kids too):


Happy Hippo Toys -- Haddonfield and Moorestown

Toy Genius -- Freehold and Old Bridge

sticks and stones -- Hopewell

Toy Kingdom -- Flemington

Big Little Train Shop -- Somerville

The Train Room -- Pt. Pleasant Beach

Jabberwocky -- Chatham

The Rocking Horse -- Cranford

Toys With Love -- Chester

Teddys -- Robbinsville

Twirl Toy Shop -- Pennington

Cherished Friends -- High Bridge

Little Mommies -- Toms River


Hobbies Now! -- Mercerville

Kenvil Hobby -- Kenvil

Tom's Model Trains -- Scotch Plains


The Rocking Horse -- Madison

Doing business:  I believe I've exhausted the limits of blogger for the purposes of this business.  Or, I've exhausted my skills with blogger.  I'm looking for software to create an online directory that will facilitate getting the mountain of New Jersey independent businesses in the database.  There are pages that aren't showing for no apparent reason.  

More to Come

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Did you know that Millville, NJ is named "The Holly City"?  More about that at some point.

More Holiday Gift Ideas  

I just got an email from Delaware River Tubing about their double value Holiday gift certificates.  Get the details....

You might want to check on the SoKind Registry to see if anyone you're planning to give a gift to would rather not have more stuff.  Better yet, open your own registry there and get gift ideas like:

Tickets to the Atlantic City Aquarium

A gift certificate for your crafter friend from Jubili Beads & Yarns

A gift certificate toward a workshop at Peters Valley School of Craft  or at the Bead and Glass Boutique or for a pottery class at For Love of Mud Pottery

Look into the Museum Pass Program at your local library and give the gift of making the arrangements for a day together at a museum that you both like.

New Jersey has many unique, local and communities theaters that you can take a friend or family member:  The Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Two River Theater Co., Centenary Stage Company, to name a few.

There are so many unique things to do in New Jersey and so many different places to go.

Just think how much more fun to give a gift that has a more lasting memory than just a thing.  Even more fun to give a gift you can share.