My son-in-law is the most amazing artist ever. I’ve been fascinated for years how he can take ordinary household items and create … well … art. He transforms everyday supplies into imaginative and whimsical designs. And it’s second nature for him — he just sits down and thinks for a minute and then makes art. Such as the Christmas presents he made for this year for all the women in his life: This absolutely delightful jewelry tree. He twisted plain ol’ wire into delightfully meandering tree branches and then set them into bases sturdy enough for us to load up all our dangling and clanging jewelry. Older Daughter kept telling me, “You are so going to love what he’s made you for Christmas,” and she was right. And I loved the add-ons, too: Older Daughter had picked out a lovely necklace and earrings from Etsy to go with the jewelry tree. I love my family!!!
Okay, I’ve given up spa pedicures, learned to shop clearance racks first and cut my coffee-shop habit in half. Are you satisfied now, you stupid Financial Crisis??? On the other hand, there’s no need to be pound-wise and penny-foolish and drop all luxuries. After all, a girl needs a little indulgent pampering in her life. And for my hard-earned money, it’s amazing how a $3 bar of soap can make you forget that you really should clean the toilets and change the litter box today. I love scented soaps, especially handmade herbal ones. I promise you that a bar of richly fragrant homemade soap is one treat you do not need to forgo. Like the lovely Bee and Flower Chinese soaps you can find in import and Oriental shops for $2-$3. Rose and sandalwood are my favorite scents, and I think I’m as intrigued with the Chinese packaging as I am with the soap itself. You can find handmade soaps everywhere — that’s part of the hunt. I picked up this bar of organic coffee soap at Keens Beans coffee shop and roasters in Pensacola, Fla., http://www.keensbeans.com. The label says the soap will moisturize, protect, provide antioxidants, exfoliate, help with fine wrinkles and neutralize strong kitchen odors on your hands — I just like that it smells like espresso. Scented soaps make great gifts, too. Older Daughter — Capt. Adorable’s mommy — brought me wonderful Soaps by Jan soap and lotion as a thank-you for babysitting when she and my son-in-law spent a recent weekend in Chattanooga, Tennessee, http://site.soapsbyjan.com. One of the best things about Soaps by Jan is the creative scent mixtures: Check out 1969 Patchouli Lime, Peppermint Sage and Crone’s Garden with 12 homegrown herbs. These are a bit more expensive — $4.75 a bar — but definitely worth it.