Browsing "Holidaze"
Nov 26, 2016 - Holidaze    No Comments

Small Business Etiquette . . .

kiss my ash in box

 

If anyone has money leftover after hitting the door-buster sales on Thanksgiving night and Black Friday, we small business owners ask that you think of us on the Saturday following Turkey Day.  I am fortunate enough to have a solid group of regular and loyal customers.  I appreciate each and every one!

We all know small business owners, as this is the age of the entrepreneur.  There are many small businesses in my life. I have Naturals by Gina B., my dad and I have a music publishing company, I dabble in freelance writing and video/film production, and the BF has an audiovisual company as well as an experiential marketing agency.  By now I’ve see it all.

Before we start our shopping, whether the small business that you’re patronizing provides products or services, there are guidelines of how to deal with us:

  1. Treat us as “real” businesses, because we are.  Every business began as a small business, born in basements and garages everywhere. Your friend might have created the next great thing.  Give us a shot.  We will work very hard to earn and keep your repeat business.
  2. Don’t expect the “homie hookup.”  If you have a friend who owns a business, support the business the way you would a business run by a stranger.  We do feel guilty charging our friends full price for our products/services (and we do try to sweeten the deal with the occasional free product or surprise discount), but those feelings fall by the wayside when we think of our narrow profit margins and what it costs to run our own show.  Between product creation, marketing, web presence, social media, etc., most of us don’t take money from the business for a number of years.
  3. You don’t care about our budgets, and we honestly don’t care about yours.  Not to be harsh, but if you can’t afford us, you can’t afford us.  If you visited Walgreen’s to buy body butter, would you approach the cashier and say “this product is $15, but I only have $7, can you work with me?”  Nope.  Forget happy and healthy.  You would have found yourself on the corner of ashy and shit out of luck.
  4. Don’t ask us to do things merely for “exposure.”  Sure, marketing is necessary and expensive, however most of us are pretty clear on how to expose ourselves if that’s the objective.
  5. Don’t limit your support of small or local businesses to one day per year.  Personally, I love nothing more than being able to shop with my friends and find the next big thing before it’s the next big thing.

My hope is that on this Small Business Shopping, many will shop with me, and that I will find new people to support.

That said, all people who are reading this blog can enjoy a 20% sitewide discount on Naturals by Gina B products.  I look forward to dazzling you. Use promo code IREADGINASPOT

Dec 24, 2013 - Holidaze, Rants    3 Comments

The most useless appliance of 2013!

Every year I peruse the hundreds of Christmas catalogs that overflow my mailbox — especially the Bed Bath & Beyond circular — to determine the most inane appliance that’s being marketed as an amazing holiday gift. This year, the winner is the Cake Pop Maker!

cakepopmaker

So, while I see cake pops in Starbucks and assume there’s a market for them, I didn’t realize they were sweeping the nation to the point where there’s a need for a dedicated appliance to make bite-sized cakes that then need to be pushed onto a stick and decorated.  I don’t really get it.  I guess it’s for people who want a little bit of cake, and are afraid to have entire layer cakes at their disposal.  But, really?  If you make 12 cake pops and decorate and eat them all, you might as well have enjoyed a fabulous slab of decadent devil’s food.

My prediction is that, as early as next year, yard sales and Goodwill stores will be full to bursting with rejected, unused cake pop makers — right next to the discarded quesadilla makers, panini presses, flavor injectors and salad shooters. Or anything else by Ronco.

And guys?  Just in case you’re desperately seeking a last minute gift for your girlfriend, and somehow think the cake pop maker is the answer to your question, say no.  There are better ways to spend $17.99.  Ways that won’t elicit a breakup.

Happy holidays!

 

Dec 19, 2013 - Holidaze    1 Comment

Living up to my favorite Christmas

Today, I looked up and realized that Christmas is less than a week away.  How did that happen??  I’ve reached an all-time low.   As I wonder how I’ve managed to stick my head in the sand to the point where I’ve forgotten about Christmas, I realize that it’s because nothing will live up to what was my absolute favorite Christmas.

We have a rocky history, Christmas and I.

For years, I’ve had different ways of dealing with Christmas.  Being an only child, and living in an area where I have very little extended family, family Christmases were always pretty boring.  The idea of visiting my extended family on the east coast didn’t sound like a terrible idea to me, but was annually vetoed by the parents who didn’t want to travel and pack all kinds of crap just to be immersed in what might have been their own traumatic family memories.  As my mother was the youngest of 11, and my father was the oldest of 8, I can’t say I blamed them.

So, we stayed home.  Our Christmas dinner was held in the same room, at the same table where I ate dinner nightly and there were no additional guests that made it feel especially festive.  We had a tree every year, but even as we decorated, I dreaded the chore of having to take the tree down on New Years’ Day — because my mother would have crumbled with shame had we left our tree up even one more day into the New Year.

We didn’t have the Norman Rockwell Christmas (or even the trashy Kardashian Christmas), where the whole family gathers in their PJs and gazes in merriment at the gifts below the impeccably decorated tree.  First of all, there was only one of me.  There was nobody to gaze at.  Second, I was lucky if my mother wrapped my gifts half the time — not that I really cared.  I could count on getting a major item that was on my “Santa” list (unless my personal team of Santas determined that my request was ludicrous and was therefore deliberately absent from my gift selection.  I once asked for a baby sister, and not only was there not a baby under the tree, that entire topic was never introduced.  I later thanked them for their prevailing common sense [and ultimate decision that they couldn't run the risk of having another like me]).

Then there’s my father’s odd collection of gifts.  Love my dad, but he’s a horrific gift giver, and he’ll wrap anything and put it under the tree.  To add insult to injury, he hermetically seals whatever he wraps in as much Scotch tape as they sell at Walgreen’s, which means that you’re fighting for your life to reveal what will undoubtedly be something that you don’t want.  We had to have a talk when I struggled to unwrap an oddly shaped gift that ended up being a giant candy cane stick.  Really, dad?  (As proof that you live and learn, he’s taken to giving me checks instead.  A tradition that he should have started years ago.)

At some point we began going to the more exciting homes of others to celebrate Christmas (because anything was more exciting than staring at my parents).  This was all good — or at least a welcome departure from the holiday doldrums —  until I realized that I never really enjoyed other peoples’ food, nor did I enjoy downloading the entire previous year to the relative strangers with whom I shared the holiday table.

At some point — well into adulthood —  I decided that Christmas would be MY day.  The first year I ordered thai food and watched marathons of Trading Spaces.  My parents were somewhat jealous (because even the worst Pad Kee Mao is better than dry turkey).  I was thrilled.  I felt like I was stealing time from the world, and I added elements each year.  Some years I went to matinees, and other years I chose to be somewhat social and visit friends for a handful of hours.  Was I lonely?  Hell no!

As an aside, only children tend to be one of two ways.  Either we have to be around people all of the time because we grew up solo and lacked a feeling of belonging.  OR we can be alone all day and not really notice until it occurs to us that we haven’t spoken to anyone all day.  It will surprise you to learn that I’m the latter.  

When I began dating the BF, he made me participate in Christmas.  He has a larger family, and they tend to make more of a big deal of these things.  He insisted that I go with him to his sister’s house on Christmas Eve the first year that we were together — even though we’d been dating mere weeks at the time.  His sister-in-law asked if we were exclusive, and I had no idea what to say other than “Ummm . . .did you ask HIM that question?  What did he say?”  (She and I are great friends now and laugh about this in retrospect)

I’ve been slowly trying to acclimate him to my version of Christmas, and he beats me over the head with his.  I’m gradually pulling him over to the dark side (even though he’s kicking and screaming to keep some semblance of Christmas tradition).

But by far, the best Christmas in either of our memories was our Jamaican vacation.  Eleven blissful days of sun and seclusion at an adults-only resort which included a Christmas morning of spa visits and  a phenomenal private lobster dinner on the beach.  Does it get better?  (In case you’re pondering, the answer is a resounding NO, it doesn’t.  Say what you like about family tradition, but seriously?  Nothing gets you excited about the birth of baby Jesus quite like eating freshly caught lobster tail while waves crash mere feet from your table.)  While everyone else was fighting the snow, we were laid out on the beach.  While other people were bundling themselves up in preparation of braving the cold and dealing with their most irritating relatives, we were swimming with dolphins.  Granted it wasn’t perfect.  The BF had a cold for the first few days (and managed to forget to pack socks and underwear) and I got stung by a jellyfish, but I’d do it again. (And before you ask, NO, he didn’t pee on me)  Seriously . . . if you’ve never traveled to a warm destination for Christmas?  Treat yourself!

I wish I were treating myself this year.

This will be our 5th Christmas together, and I’m still mourning our 3rd Christmas.  Last year wasn’t so bad because we were planning an extended trip to Miami in January.  But THIS year?  I haven’t done a lick of shopping (except for things that I’ve bought myself), and having had two colds already this season, I’m not overly anxious to be in social settings where people are breathing in my face and wanting to shake my hand.

So, now I’m at the point where I almost wish we hadn’t taken that vacation, because everything else will pale in comparison.

Or perhaps I need to start planning our vacation for next year.  If I’m going to stick my head in the sand, it might as well be REAL sand!

Nov 12, 2012 - Holidaze, Rants    1 Comment

Holidaze and Mourning My Vacation

Is everyone ready?  I’m not.  And probably never will be.

While I realize that holidays should be a festive time of joy and surprises, I can never seem to get my head wrapped around it.  I see instead bad weather, congestion, bills, an over-infestation of cookies, dealing with family obligations, blah, blah, blah.

Yep, I’m all Scrooged out.

I began boycotting Christmas several years ago.  My family has always been a bit boring.  I’m an only child with distant extended family.  There were just the three of us, staring at each other, eating dinner, and generally disgruntled about what we found under the tree.

There were things that I could count on:

1)  My father, who suffers from gift paralysis (which I’m convinced is a clinical term), would wait until the last possible second to purchase gifts for my mother and me.  And by “last possible second,” I really do mean 9:00pm on Christmas Eve, when he would brave the worst possible malls (or drug stores), in the company of the most befuddled fellow gift slackers.

2)  My mother would hate whatever my father gave her.  Because who wouldn’t hate a pre-packaged perfume set desperately plucked from the aisles of Carson Pirie Scott from piles of picked over boxes.  (At a young age, I surmised that it added insult to injury that the fine holiday edition of Lady Stetson was given to her by the man who’s supposed to know and love her more than anyone else on Earth.  At a young age, I also realized that it was a bad idea to introduce my theory.)

3)  I would inevitably hate whatever either of my parents gave me, except for the rare occasion when I would ask for something very specific (in which case, there was absolutely no mystery in the process).  As if he didn’t know me at all, my father would give an assortment of small, weird things, like outsized candy canes (that I’m almost certain he procured for 2/$1.00 at Walgreens) and books that I would never read.  Unlike my mother, I accepted such gifts gratefully (largely because it made him feel good, and they were always accompanied by an envelope of cash).  My mother would always seem to retrofit something that she’d bought me over the course of the year as a Christmas gift.  “Remember that coat I bought you in June?  That was your Christmas present.”

3)  Marginal, if not bad food.  My mother wasn’t the best cook, but she was Ina Garten in comparison to some of the culinary skills displayed by the others that were on her list of people to visit.  I threw in the (tacky holiday) towel after one fateful holiday visit to her friend’s house where I was duped by a gorgeous triple layer chocolate cake that sat majestically inside of an expensive crystal dome.  It was beautiful, and could have been a contender for the cover of Gourmet Magazine.

Now . . . for those who don’t know me well . . . cake is a food group, in my opinion.  I love nothing more than a succulent moist cake, and even though I’ve ironically developed a cake intolerance over the years, I will indulge in good cake, even if I’m pretty sure it’s going to make me nauseous. 

My mouth watered for this cake, and I ignored the rest of food, eager for the large slice that was cut specifically for me.  I imagined the melt-in-your mouth buttery flavor of the yellow cake, complimented perfectly by the rich, creamy chocolate icing.

Imagine my disappointment when I was met, instead, with a mouthful of sawdust, and an icing that had the consistency of spackle and forced me to drink about 1/2 gallon of water to flush it through.  (If you know me, you’ll also know that as much as I love cake, I have equal hatred for drinking water.) And, to make it even worse, because my mother was a stickler for manners and etiquette, she all but insisted that I finish every morsel of food on my plate.  But I digress . . .

4) Expectations.  I’m a little obstinate, so being expected to buy things, be places and do things never resonates well — whether or not it’s holiday season.

The cake episode was pivotal, and after it, I embraced my free-thinker persona, and made the executive decision to abandon my family celebration and opt instead for television marathons, thai food, a movie (at the theatre), and lots of wine.  These activities became my own personal rituals that I grew to love.  I felt like I was stealing time from the world, and while everyone else was ensconced in holiday angst (except for the Jews and Muslims, who were my kindred spirits in pad see eiw), I was the genius who was having a fabulous time in a home that didn’t have tinsel strewn about the floor and tacky flashing lights.  My parents were a little irritated initially, but probably because I had the courage to opt out.

Oddly, I participate happily in gift-giving – mostly because my Godchildren would throw fits — and because, despite my Christmas uneasiness, I’m actually a good gift-giver.  As proof that we’re not always products of our environment, my gifts are typically thoughtful and useful.  (Another personal tidbit is that, as much as I love giving gifts, I’m extremely uncomfortable on the receiving end.  I’m a horrible person to buy for anyway, because I indulge myself often.  [I just realized that  learned this behavior in retaliation to the heinous gifts that I expected from my parents.  Hmmm.  Maybe I AM a product of my environment!])

Since my mother passed away, my father has come over to my side of the camp, and would be happier’n a pig in shit if he were allowed to cook his own food, and just be left alone to watch football.

And then, along came the BF to attempt to add some normalcy to my life.  I’m determined to bring him over to my sedate holiday darkside (because, really?  When you dance with the devil, you don’t change the devil.  The devil changes you.)

But seriously? Don’t mind me.  I’m just bitter, and upset that the holidays can’t be more like last year.

This time last year, I was in a dream state, anticipating my pending 12-day Jamaican vacation with the BF at a beautiful resort.   Lemme tell ya . . .  if you haven’t experienced Christmas day on a hot beach, drinking from a coconut, you haven’t lived.  It was absolutely incredible.

There was no tug-of-war for my time.  All of my friends knew that I would be out of the country and therefore unable to do whatever the hell it was they wanted me to do.

Granted, it wasn’t perfect.  There were little things, like the BF forgetting to pack ANY socks or underwear, and allowing himself to be SO overworked prior to our departure that he spent the first four days under the weather (and by “under the weather,” I mean “near death”).  But?  The bigger picture is that I was able to escape all of the typical holiday nastiness and return after all of the Christmas craziness.

This Christmas?  Sigh.  No planned vacation in paradise – time got away from me this year.  No imminent getaway or well-timed escape hatch.

Boo!

But . . .the good news is that I have plenty of time to plan for next year, and I get to resume my ritual.

I might even do a little shopping, and I’m definitely baking my own cake!