That’s what you’ll hear when you give one of these unique made-right-here-in-the-neighborhood gifts
If your gift recipients generally respond with the phrase, “You shouldn’t have” (and really mean it), or if you are a pro gift giver aiming to maintain your perfect record, we found the baubles, designs and goodies manufactured locally for maximum merriment.
For the sentimental: sure-to-be-beloved books
Maker of beautiful books Whitney Holley sells more than just pretty products — scrapbooks, journals and albums. She’s peddling the preservation of happy memories.
For many, the 21st century means blogs and digital portfolios, but Holley and her fans long for something more.
“I like the feel of a book. There are things that need to be touched — memories that need to be preserved in three dimensions. There’s something about holding it in your hands, opening a pocket and finding a keepsake, seeing your grandmother’s handwriting on a piece of paper. Handwriting is so personal. It is like hearing a person’s voice,” she says.
That passion infuses each of her creations, which run $10 to $20 or so on her Etsy website page, Modern Day Memory Keeper. The little business started when Mom handed over Holley’s own tattered baby book and asked her to make it look nice. Flipping through those pages — handwritten notes about her infant self, locks of hair and other mementos — inspired Holley, who had been creative and nostalgic even as a teen.
She fashioned her own wedding scrapbook, followed by baby albums for her 17-month-old twins. She made memory keepers for friends, and before long, customers were commissioning her work.
For that sentimental person on your list, you can purchase Holley’s prefab creations via etsy.com/shop/moderndaymemkeeper. For a custom made book or a starter kit to make your own, visit Holley’s website/blog moderndaymemorykeeper.com, where she also shares expert tips and trade secrets.
For Grandmas, girls and jewelry lovers all: tile keepsakes
EK2 Crafts is the brainchild of longtime Lake Highlands artist Elaine Glasscock. Her sea-colored or crystal dangling earrings dazzle, but her trademark Scrabble-tile pendants, she says, are her best sellers.
Necklaces made from the same tiny squares used in the Scrabble board game can be seen hanging around many neighborhood necks. (She showcases some sweet Scrabble-tile rings, too.) Some are emblazoned with school colors and tiny Wildcat paws. Others boast groovy graphic prints. Most popular, perhaps, are the custom photo tiles — for these, she uses a customer-submitted photo (specific dimensions and instructions can be found on her site) to create a glossy personalized jewel. Old black and whites make for a cool, vintage-looking piece.
She has even made tiles featuring children’s artwork. The custom-made baubles run about $14, and it takes about a week to turn around an order. Some of the pieces featuring more detail are $15-$17, and she features several school-spirit chains for $3.
Before getting into the jewelry biz, Glasscock worked 20 years at a corporate job. A little later than most, she says, she became a mom to Kylie, 4, and Erin, 7. The EK2 stands for Elaine-Kevin (her husband) and Erin-Kylie. Her creations went over so well at her first neighborhood craft show that she was inspired to pursue the EK2 project. You can shop her virtual store at etsy.com/shop/ek2crafts.
For the furry ones: bandanas with bling
It’s tough to stay in style all the time. Choosing the right accessories and maintaining perfect polish is tough, especially if — due to your lack of hands or full-color vision — you can’t dress yourself.
Lake Highlands designer Susan Hill is here to make sure your pet is tastefully adorned. Hill has outfitted the entire animal population, six dogs, at C.C. Young retirement community in her bling-y bandanas (they can be seen in holiday bandanas these days, as they change clothes by season) and she also fashions bandanas for the pups at Dallas Pug Rescue.
Potential adoptive parents can’t resist a dog in a diva, leopard-printed, crystal-enhanced scarf. The enterprise started when Hill went seeking to sass up her own pets.
“We had four rescue animals, and I looked all over the place for cute bandanas for them,” she says, to no avail.
So she took a sewing class, turned a room of her home into a workshop and started creating her own — they’re reversible, adjustable with a strong tie and she will make them to order. Hill’s pieces work not only on doggie divas, but also on willing cats, and, she says, she recently had her first donkey client.
You won’t find Hill’s creations online yet, but you can peruse and purchase them at Dr. Melinda Berry’s veterinary office at 9661 Audelia, the UPS Store at Knox and Central, or at White Rock Coffee, while supplies last. Humans can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For teacher: captivating clipboards
Mom of three Cindy Jenkins makes festive ornaments and clipboards, which can be the ideal teacher gifts. (Unless the teacher is a middle-aged part-time coach who loves the Texas Rangers — get that guy a ball cap.) Mostly Jenkins’s creations are one of a kind and made to order, she says.
She started selling strictly around White Rock Elementary, where children — Lily, 12, and 10-year-old twins Jake and Luke have attended — but before long, every member of the WRE staff had his or her share of spirited clipboards so, by popular demand, she branched out. Her business is still small and mostly marketed by word of mouth. She doesn’t have a website because that’s where people rip off ideas, she says, and she means it. An art major and experienced crafter, Jenkins doesn’t intend to share all of her secrets.
“I don’t use Mod Podge,” she says.
If you don’t know what that means, it’s OK. All you need to know is that Jenkins’s art and crafts, which she collectively sells under the name Lily’s Pad, are top notch and, though a large percentage of her orders seems to be for Wildcats of one Lake Highlands school or another, she can craft one using any mascot, name or interest, and she has filled as many as 200 orders during a holiday season. You can find her on facebook.com/lilyspad1 or place a telephone or email order at 214.789.0338 or email@example.com.
For students, babies or adult beverage drinkers: personalized school supplies, bibs and koozies
Members of large families or anyone who has trouble keeping track of whose stuff is whose, as well as bottle drinkers aiming to keep tabs on their beverages, will appreciate the work of Kristy and Sara Crawford, purveyors of all things embroidered. Personalized Styrofoam cups, comfy moccasins, casserole carriers, school supplies, bibs, blankets, T-shirts and the ever-popular pick-a-pattern koozies, each with a precisely stitched name or initials, are all items available from the mother-daughter team at twofunnygirls.com.
In spring 2000, Kristy bought an embroidery sewing machine with inheritance money left by her grandmother. Pretty soon, everything they owned was monogrammed, and then Kristy moved on to her friends, all of whom seemed to be having babies and baby showers, giving them personalized gifts sewn by her mom on the machine. Once all of the family’s friends also had “personalization on everything that moves,” Kristy says, they started selling their wares around the neighborhood, at craft fairs and, before long, on the internet.
Customers also bring their own things to Kristy’s Lake Highlands home for embroidery. It takes about a week to process an order. During the holiday season, they stop taking orders after the first couple weeks in December.
However, Christmas isn’t the busiest season, says Kristy, who also holds a full-time job as a graphic designer. That honor goes to the start of the school year, when personalized school supplies sell like crazy.
More good made-in-the-’hood gift ideas
Lake Highlands resident Kimberly Atman turns trash to grunge-chic gifts. Her funky glass art, candle holders, tattered-hymnal crafts, to name a few, are quite the draw at seasonal shows and festivals. Her hymnal trees are her most popular product, she says.
Winter or spring, scarves are in, and Old Lake Highlands designer April Wade has them for every season. Pastels, prints, deep-vibrant hues, ruffles and feel-good fabrics — at about $25 each, her easy-to-wear infinity scarves make gift giving a cinch. Right now she is offering a pick-three for $85 deal. Also on her Created New label, Wade sells pillows, bedding and home accessories.
If you recently shopped the White Rock Local Market or other fall art shindigs, you probably paused to peruse Old Lake Highlands resident Sheree Tomba’s pillowy puffs of color. Her fuzzy felt nesting bowls, cup holders, purses and chalk bags are made 100 percent from wool and please all of the senses. They are soft to the touch and add a vibrant accent to tables, desks and outfits. Tomba also is a painter and purveyor of striking abstract art.
Marta and Kevin Sprague started roasting coffee full-time almost two years ago after many years as serious hobbyists. Coffee enthusiasts will dig this consumable gift — all of Noble Coyote’s coffee beans are certified organic or from farms that use fair-trade and shade-grown farming practices. Part of the proceeds of their Café Momentum Blend go to Café Momentum’s mission of teaching culinary skills to at-risk youth in Dallas. Pick up Noble Coyote at White Rock Local Market and artizone.com. Order from the Noble website and get free delivery in the White Rock area.
Located in Lake Highlands at Skillman and LBJ, LH Media Center offers a service geared toward giving gift-getters goosebumps and teary eyes — making memories last. “We take clients’ vintage 8mm films and videotapes and turn them into DVDs that will be cherished and enjoyed for years to come,” owner Cindy Causey says. “Old slides and photo albums become slideshows, retouched prints, or CDs full of images to share.” The experts at the LH Media Center also will convert audiocassette tapes and reel-to-reel audiotape to CDs, or create one-of-a-kind scrapbooks or videos. Adds Causey, “We do all the work in-house, with our own hands, and we treat precious, fragile media as if it were our own.” 178A Plaza Skillman Center at 9090 Skillman, 214.349.2349.
Lake Highlands resident Tom Browning recently quit his day job to focus fulltime on his pedi-project, Foot Cardigan. Browning is one of the five founders of this subscription-based sock-of-the-month club that launched last summer. Customers sign up to receive (or give) a randomly chosen pair of “delightfully unusual” socks in the mail for $9 a month. For $17 a month, you can get a subscription for yourself plus one. “For the price of two lattes a month, you get something fun,” Browning says. “You can wear them with uniforms, pants, shorts and, unfortunately, sandals. We neither judge nor condone that.” The guys offer three-, six-, nine- and 12-month subscriptions.
Getting laid off from her job at a local art gallery was possibly one of the best things that could have happened to White Rock area resident Karin VanSlyke because it allowed her to pursue her true passion. Today making beautiful baubles — smooth, earthy stones and gems, and geometric metallic shapes on dainty gold or silver chains — is VanSlyke’s business. “I am very inspired by nature and the beauty and color found all around us, VanSlyke says in describing her style. “My goal is to create quality pieces that women can wear with a T-shirt and jeans as well as with their favorite dress. I believe that jewelry can transform any outfit.” She regularly sells her pieces, which range from about $60-$120, at Bath House Cultural Center shows and at Tallulah Belle boutique in Lakewood.