Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Handbags for Spring

We just started getting in our Spring/Summer '08 purses!!!! And they are fabulous! Check them out HERE or under Staff Favorites on the left hand navigation bar. I went ahead and bought one of the Nena Totes in the white - it will be PERFECT for my trip to Australia - don't you think! You can call us to purchase these handbags!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Gina Meets the Parents

My nerves are shot. My friend turned sort of boyfriend has asked me to accompany him on his trip home next weekend. For the whole weekend. Out of state? Ack! I've never met his parents, even though I've known him for years now. But, I've heard the stories… I've seen pictures, and I think I'm in for it. His mother in one word or less? Perfect. Perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect everything. Needless to say, I do NOT fit into that perfect category. Did I mention that ex-girlfriend is Perfect Version 2.0??
So…what is a less than perfect girl to do?
I called my best friend. I called my sister. Both of them said the same thing -- bring a nice gift and be on my best behavior. The behavior part is easy… but where in the world do I even begin to look for the perfect present?
And then it hit me. Of course, Swagger.
So began my quest for perfection.
I remembered my friend turned sort of boyfriend mentioning how much his mom loves to read, and that she hosts a book club at her home every six weeks or so. Complete with hors d'oeurves, drinks, and everything is matched to the theme of the story of course. (of course, of course…). So, I thought perhaps a personalized self-inking stamp ? How classy would that be? She could use that as a specialized signature on her invites - and I was willing to bet she didn't already own one.
I also remembered what a fan he has said she is of gourmet cheeses, and how often he has been subjected to trying them out before her little get togethers….and then he admitted that most of them were actually pretty tasty! So, maybe one of the personalized cutting boards too- I thought that would be a stylish way to cut and serve!
But what about his dad? I am thinking something needs to be given to him too. Why do guys have to be so hard to buy for??????
Well, what do I know about him? He is a golfing fanatic. He's terrible at it, but loves to go. (My guess is that it's an excuse to get out of the house when the book group is there). As he is also somewhat perfect, I didn't want to guess on what golfing brands he preferred. This was going to be harder than I thought! Oh, what's this? An engravable divot too l? Kind of different….says I'm thinking you'd like something your buddies don't already have. Perfect!!!
So maybe I'm ready to go. Maybe not. Maybe I need something for me. Maybe I need one of those personalized jute totes just to look like I'm aiming for perfection? Yes definitely! So, don't tell my friend that might be a sort of boyfriend that I'm trying to impress. Ready to go now! Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Notes From Gina... A Letter From My Grandmother

So…..I went to check my mail the other day. Whooo hoo! I so love all of those ads for new siding (ummm, I have brick)….for consolidating my debt (no thanks, like to spread it around)…..for new credit cards?? Ok, well, maybe I like those!
But mixed into all of this "bound for the trash" assortment was a small light pink envelope. "Who could this be from?" I wondered.
I walked into the house and studied the very careful handwriting that spelled out my name and my old address (unfortunately, that big – please forward to- covered up some of the ink).
I decided to make myself wait to open it, to prolong the mystery. There was no return address, and none of my friends had penmanship like this (trust me, I'm doing well to decipher the scrawl that one of them swears is cursive!).
I walked over to my new bar (that sounds so great!) and grabbed one of my personalized tulip glasses from Swagger. I figured I needed a pretty drink to go along with the pretty letter. After filling it, I plopped down on the couch and held the letter up to the light. And no, it didn't tell me anything new.
I couldn't stand it any longer. I tried to carefully open it, but alas, it ended up shredded along the top as I ripped into it.
Inside was a folded piece of stationary that smelled lightly of flowers (honestly, it reminded me of my Lollia Believe bubble bath …)- unbelievable, but this had to be from my grandmother. Unbelievable because my grandmother has been sick for several years and doesn't send letters to anyone anymore.
I pulled the paper from the envelope and several bills fell out. I opened the letter and the first thing that hit me was the date- this was written over 4 years ago! Where had it been all this time?
I read the letter several times- it was very short. She told me she had been thinking of my mother and I, and that she missed us. That she wasn't going to be able to come and see us in the spring as she normally did, but that she wanted my mom and I to go to the flower show we normally went to together, and to buy ourselves a special treat with the money she sent (since at the end she always bought us something from the show to commemorate our visit).
I sat there on the couch for awhile remembering the different ones we had been to in the past, and I thought about how much I missed her.
I called my mom and told her about the letter, and how strange it was that I didn't get it until now.
I knew what I wanted to do with the money. I bought my mom a strand of freshwater pearls I had seen at Swagger the last time I went in with her because they reminded me of a set my grandmother always wore. I bought myself the oval earrings with roping with just my middle initial on them (because mine and my grandmother's are the same)- and she has a pendant that looks like this….and I bought my grandmother the Loliia Inspire perfume and sent it to her, because I wanted her to have it to think of the flowers we loved to smell together. And then I pulled out my photo album and spent the next little while looking at pictures of us together and smiled at the wonderful memories.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Notes from Gina... The Big Date

My oh my, have I got some news for you. My best guy friend- and I mean friend in the most friend sense of the word- we are talking down to "not showered, hung over my girlfriend did such and such and could I believe it?! " kind of guy friend – finally broke up with the irritating girl a few months ago. Not a big deal except it meant that I didn't have her trying to set me up with anymore of her friends – that spells RELEIF in a way that antacid never could.
So…..take a breath- seems that maybe he wants to take me on a date. I thought I had heard him wrong and reminded him that me and skates just don't belong on the same body together after what happened last time I tried rollerblading….
He gave me that goofy look of his and said no dork, I said D-A-T-E- as in we both dress nicely and shower before we have dinner. Shower at our own homes he meant.
Now, this caught me completely off guard. As in, he's cute, and I'd set my friends up with him (the ex was not my doing!), but me go out with him? A little weird.
Still….since I have been very single for awhile, I thought, why not? So I said ok. Then I spelled it out- O-K. He rolled his eyes and said he'd see me at 7, and we'd go to that little Italian place I love so much downtown…and then if I was good, that maybe we'd get some drinks afterwards. I could be good for that, right?
It was a little after 4. I figured I had plenty of time to get ready, right? I mean, he's just a friend. He probably has seen everything I own more than a few times…in fact, I think he has previewed a date outfit or two for me along the way an offered up his advice.
I opened my closet doors. I couldn't believe it. I had nothing to wear.
What to do now? Hmmm, how about pour myself a drink. Or two? Or maybe not two. I settled on a rum and coke in one of my cool retro glasses I had bought for my bar. I took the drink back to my room and sat on my bed and did some mental calculations. Maybe a bath would help calm my ever increasing nerves since the drink wasn't helping much.
I turned on the water and poured in some of my Lollia Believe bubble bath . Ahhhh. At least I'd smell good!
I soaked in the water after lighting one of my Lollia candles and closed my eyes. I had lost a few pounds lately….maybe those super sexy studded jeans would FINALLY make their debut (yes, they were must haves…but a size too small and the only pair left, so I made a hopeful purchase with those!)- and what else? Shoes…….I had several pairs I picked up after Christmas that I couldn't decide between…so I bought all four pairs….and one of those had to look great. The swanky purple print pumps? Oh, those were good. I opened my eyes and stared back into my bedroom and saw something lacy and purple hanging out of one of my drawers, and something black and velvety hanging in my closet. NO WAY. Why hadn't I ever thought about putting those together before?
How did it already get to be 5???? I got out of the tub, and opened up my new Inspire Dusting Powder that I had been saving for a special occasion, and painted my nails. And then, saying a quick and hopeful prayer to the gods of fitting into clothes that were bought a size too small..tried on the jeans. And they fit. I stood there for a moment in awe of the fact that they actually buttoned with no muffin top as an added accoutrement. I put on everything else and looked…awesome!
Now….an hour left. Nothing to do but wait. And maybe have one more drink…or not, since with my luck I'd spill it. I grabbed the phone to call my sister because she would make me forget to be nervous about going on a D-A-T-E with a guy I've known for years.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Gina's Guide to Teacher Appreciation

My other "sister" called me not to long ago griping about what in the world she should get for the teachers at her daughter's school for gifts. They do a teacher appreciation month each year, and she wanted to do more than just the traditional coffee gift card.
"You're a fun girl" she said to me. "Help me think of something!"
Now, I have no clue what a teacher might want…so I had to think along the lines of practical, but not boring. And not a gift card.
So, I suggested my favorite place in the world for gifts- Swagger. My "sister" said, and I quote, "For a teacher????"
"Of course! I have several great ideas!"
"Name one," she challenged.
"All right. How about a monogrammed umbrella ?" I thought that would be different- and at least no one left with the wrong one in that case.
"Have you forgotten we are in a drought???? They'd probably think I was dense if I gave that."
"Have you checked the forecast? It's supposed to rain off and on for the next few weeks. They'd probably think you were up on your current events." I may have said that a bit snottily to be truthful.
"Oh. Maybe I should try watching the news every now and then, eh? I guess that is unique." She was coming around to my way of thinking.
"Ok, how about this then. They have these super cute monogrammed travel coffee mugs ."
"Hey, I like that idea! What else do they have?"
I was starting to get an idea.
"I have a great idea!" I exclaimed.
"How about if you do a little travel themed gift? Swagger has these little tote bags that you can have personalized too. Why not do one of the bags and put an umbrella and coffee mug in them???"
She was quiet for a moment….and she's never quiet, so she either loved my idea and was speechless at my savvy, or she hated it and was trying to think of a way to tell me nicely after soliciting my advice.
"I can't believe you thought of something that would be that perfect!" she squealed, clearly delighted.
"Glad I could help! You owe me!" I joked, but already planning to collect. She knew I had a soft spot for the pink soaps …and I had a feeling that maybe after she finished shopping for Hallie's teachers, that maybe, just maybe, some of those soaps would turn up at my house.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Notes From Gina... My New Bar

mentioned in a previous post about telling you all the story of how I got my bar... Now I can have "Happy Hour" any hour I want!
I just moved into my new place a few months ago (hence my absence from posting). I packed up everything I'd had for years, and after sorting through and throwing out what I no longer wanted, figured I was ready for this major ordeal.
So, I moved. I unpacked. I settled in. And I felt like something was missing, but was unsure of what that elusive something was. Maybe if someone… anyone… Bueller… had shared with me that it is nice for things to somewhat match, I wouldn’t be struggling so much with this.
So here it is a few months later… and my mom calls to see if I want an old buffet that had been my grandmothers. My first thought was to Google “buffet” because my first thought when she mentioned this was one of those all you can eat experiences I so enjoy… My head soon cleared and I said sure since she sounded like she really wanted me to take it.
It turns out that thought the buffet was not of the all you can eat kind, it was just what I needed. A long table with some doors and drawers in it- which as my leap of logic would take me - would make the perfect bar! So that's what had been missing!
I was (probably for the first time ever) excited about this buffet being dropped off at my house. After a coat or two of black paint , a United Nations collection of liquor bottles, and many bottles of wine later… something was still missing. I actually happened to figure it out on my own quite quickly when I went to open a bottle of wine for my mom and she looked at me quite oddly as I served it in an old cartoon caricature glass from a fast food restaurant we frequented when I was little (hey, it's retro, right?).
So, needless to say, I promised proper glassware for their next visit. I started my search for what I needed to make this new bar rock. So, of course I headed to Swagger to get Mandy and her crew to help me get my new bar up to par.
I knew a few of the things I wanted, and then decided to have a little fun with them. I'd just graduated from grad school a few months back, and memories of the great times tailgating at ball games made me want to graduate from Solo Cups to some real beer mugs. So, I ordered a set of tailgate beer mugs with my monogram (so they will always find their way home). And for my mother (and me too of course), I bought a set of the personalized all purpose crystal wine glasses . I just had one letter on those - nice and bold… too the point.
There was a thought nagging me at the back of my brain about there being different types of wine glasses for different types of wine. What the heck…this buffet/bar could definitely hold it, and with only eight glasses so far, was looking a bit barren. I found a set of stemless wine glasses (all the rage from what the girls tell me, so I ordered TWO!)… and balloon wine glasses , those sounded pretty good. Since I'm not much of a wine drinker, I figured I was done with those. But what about my friend “Tom Collins” who only likes “tea” from “Long Island?” I needed something that I could initial with my college nickname (trust me, you don't want to know… needless to say, if you come over and I mix you a drink, the initials say it all…) - the Capri ice bucket set looked pretty good…and I ordered some extra glasses to go along with it. My best girlfriend is a die hard martini drinker, so in her honor I ordered a set of those, along with the Glory Tulip glasses - with the understanding that even though I ordered them for her they are to live on the bar. She pointed out to me (why it took this long is beyond me), that maybe it would be nice to have some regular glasses too…so I ordered the retro set too.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Party Advice from Gina

Tag you are it. Yes you.
Want to know what you get to do now?
I can't wait to tell you! (Giggle. Ok, Snicker….)
You, my friend, get the enviable task of coming up with party games to play at the next baby shower and wedding shower you attend.
And no, you can't get out of it. I don't believe for a moment that you have the flu, that you lost the directions, or that you are trapped under something heavy and just can't make it.
Stop making excuses and start trying to be fun. I mean it.
The Baby Shower
What's not to love about a baby shower? The food is always good, and everyone is happy. The hostess asked you not to cook (she knows you THAT well), but instead requested that you think of some fun things to do at the party. After breathing into a paper bag for a few moments, you regain your composure and agree to her request.
You talk to friends, family, your co-workers (who start suspiciously eyeing your mid-section until you reassure them for the 20th time you aren't the one who is expecting)…. and you actually come up with a few things that don't leave you wanting to spend the afternoon plucking out your eyelashes instead.
The Baby Shower Word Scramble Game: in this game you scramble the words of baby items and give prizes to the person who unscrambles the most words. This is a lot more fun when you make it difficult. There are two presents I would suggest for the word jumble: The Square Pacifier Clip (in sterling silver) and for the mom to be the Monogrammed Coffee Travel Mug … Seriously, how much fun would it be to see the partygoers trying to figure out those all scrambled up?
Measure the Mommy is always fun- just have everyone cut a length of ribbon that they've used to guess the circumference of the mom-to-be's belly (or ankle or head…whatever you wish).
What's in The Diaper? This one is just gross… but is pretty funny. For this one you will need several diapers. In each, you will melt a candy bar- and then the guests get to guess what type is in each one. Trust me, this really looks gross!
The Cucina regenerating hand cream or the Lollia Believe bubble bath would be great gifts for the winners here!!
The Wedding Shower
It's your brother's wedding that is looming on the horizon. His fiancĂ©e is from another part of the country (fortunately you like her, so all is good), and you've been appointed to handle this get together since you are so in the know about who should be there. Oh, did I mention you are also supposed to provide the icebreakers for her friends and family that will be here? (and oh yeah, you skipped that Girl Scout meeting where you learned how to do ice breakers- doh!). So you try to get creative, and you actually come out ok. You decide to butter them up with a few thoughtful gifts just to be safe. For your new sister-in-law to be …… the personalized monogrammed candle, English Garden soaps , and a bottle of the Lollia Inspire bubble bath were waiting for her when she got to town. For your brother (who you still want to strangle for passing this task on to you)….a monogrammed money holder complete with some Monopoly money tucked in (a private joke between the two of you)…… and then you busted out a great game to break the ice.
Two Truths - One Lie: A get to know you game. This is a fun game, especially when you know what some of the lies are since you are friends with some of those involved! (it's funny when those that don't know them get the wrong!)
Everyone states two truths and one lie about themselves, and everyone else has to guess which one is the lie.
For example: I have read every James Patterson book written. I have a terrible allergy to water. ?I once ate a beetle. ?After everyone has gone, the person with the most correct guesses wins. ?
This one will make the bride to be blush…
Creative Story Game: Appoint someone in the group to write down everything the bride to be says while opening her gifts (ie- I've never seen one of these!… How did you know this is what I wanted?... Wow!... You get the picture). When all of the gifts have been opened, and all comments recorded, make up a story about her wedding night including all of the lines you've just written down- these are to describe what is going on during her honeymoon. Guaranteed to make her want to hit you with one of those new monogrammed cutting boards she just opened………
So after the parties are over, you can vow to never again be tagged….ok, well maybe not vow, that’s a strong word and I am still single… and the Lollia Relax bubble bath I bought for myself wasn’t so bad, but next time they won’t get off so easy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Notes From Gina... The Twelve Months of Giving -- To Myself!

Notes From Gina…
On the first day of January my true love gave to me… Nothing. Not a thing. Nada. Zilch. Could be because he as of yet has not materialized in my life? What's a girl to do? And then it hit me. No one knows me better than, me! Every time I have to find a birthday present, or a wedding gift, or so help me, another baby present – keep in mind people, I'm the SINGLE one in the bunch – that I secretly long for some of these gifts to find their way under the seat of my car instead of into the hands of the non deserving party (did I say that?). Which lead me to think… Why not? Why not treat myself as well as these other people in my life? Because unless my mail order husband/child/promotion gets delivered sometime soon, I'm going to have to start a movement for "singles day" and hope for lovely presents to find their way to MY deserving hands!
Stay with me for a moment and let me map this out.
It's January. It's a fresh start. So why not start this year out with a new tradition of giving – to myself! I think I'll start with the personalized canvas handbag . Who doesn't love ribbons?? It's cute, it's a little different…hey, just like me!
Onto February, That month when I get to have the knife twisted just a little deeper by my oh so well meaning friends as they try to set me up with "that guy" from their work (the one who makes our friend Norm from Psycho look downright hot!)- I think I know just what would make me feel better. A personalized heart toggle necklace would look great with what I plan to wear out to the singles get togethers this year….
March. Hmmm, it's Spring, time to start thinking about- gasp- the beach, the pool, and sundresses that are lurking just around the corner. I'm thinking one of those monogrammed cutting boards would be just great for me to use to start cutting the new diet of fruit and vegetables I will be eating so I can fit into my bathing suit….and maybe I'll put my ex's initials on this one just to have fun cutting up foods he hated on it! Fun stuff people!
April and it is still spring. The Cuchina fragrant kitchen sprays … After all, since it is allergy season and I'm NOT about to keep those windows open after I burned my Pop Tarts (yes, I am that girl who can’t cook and burns even Pop Tarts).
May and it's getting hot – Finally! Those personalized Glory Tulip Glasses would be pretty for my sister’s famous brie and wine parties, but think someone should give me a few more to add to my buffet/bar at home.
June… What can I get myself for June? I know! I'll take care of June and July all together (hey, who doesn't like to get a surprise a little early?) I'll take a personalized large canvas tote bag and bright beach towel in PINK.
August is here already? I think the personalized circle earrings would be a nice send off to summer, even though it will probably still be 90 degrees on Thanksgiving…
September – time for football! I have my jersey, my tote bag, and now I'll have a personalized tailgate set to come along with me! I love the fall. Yeah, I already have a set for my bar (be sure to read about the birth of the bar, coming soon), but could really use a set for travel.
October and I’m ready for a little trick or treat. Ok, treats for me! I see some monogrammed candles arriving in my goodie bag! And no calories either!
November – and it’s time to give thanks for making it through another year! Think I'll be thankful for the lovely Lollia perfume that will be finding it's way to me shortly.
And here we are at the end of the year already! Christmas… I’m thinking it will be a meet up with my three best friends at Starbucks where we will unveil our super-cool monogrammed travel coffee mugs that will make us the envy of everyone there.
In retrospect, this year of gift giving to me was a fantastic idea! And I'm absolutely certain that these gifts are exactly what was wanted.
Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Notes From Gina… Giving the Right Party Gift

Ahhh… it's a New Year, and time for…. yes! Those oh so fun invites to your co-worker's third baby shower… your sister's second wedding… maybe a bachelor party or two? (Ok, so that last one sounds like fun!)
If you are anything like my friends, you are a). Summoning the will to show up, and b). Secretly wanting your gift to be the most talked about (in a good way of course), and c). Not wanting to break the bank achieving the first two.
As luck would have it, here is a way to achieve all of the above with grace and style.First off, I am a tremendous fan of the bubble bath with wine (any time of day seriously works for the diehard devotee, of which I am one). Lucky for me, Swagger carries my favorite – the Lollia Wish bubble bath , and with one of their stemless wine glasses to hold my cabernet, I know that afterwards, I might be nice enough to attend one of these shindigs and even play the games. Did I mention that even the Lollia bottle is quite lovely? The bees are a nice touch. And for my glasses…I went with the single initial, just because.
And on to the gift giving... After enjoying a glass of wine of course!
For your co-worker who already has every baby gift imaginable… (and some that at best you find yourself thinking- that does what??!)…. I absolutely LOVED the personalized oval pacifier clip in sterling silver. I do not think this could possibly be upstaged by any other trendy baby gifts, period.
For your sister's second wedding? Perhaps anything with her NEW initials on it? Let me recommend the martini set , along with some of those cute little pink soaps . And not to have him feeling left out, the personalized black and silver cufflinks would look great with any tux.
On the flip side…if you happen to be the one getting married or having the baby, you might want to do something nice for the person who organized these parties in your honor. The personalized umbrella makes a rainy day a little more cheerful, and for your friend who loves to cook? The monogrammed cutting board is sure to be a hit!
Now, after your second glass of cabernet, when you are beginning to feel more generous…For your best friend, who is also your sister, who is also on her second marriage, the engraved charm bracelet is really very sweet.
For that co-worker who you really wish wasn't leaving you behind to deal with your tyrannical boss alone, a Lollia candle would be a thoughtful good luck gift.
And for your best friend's brother (that has always been like a brother to you), who just bought his first house? I would be willing to bet your present of the personalized tailgate beer mugs will be well received (I would advise you to include the six pack to go along with that as well!).
Now that you've had a little wine, and are ready to attend your second baby shower this month, I'd splurge on one more little thing for me- that avocado necklace with the large diamond shell pendant . So pretty! And now you are perhaps a little tipsy, but ready to grab a cab and let the "parties" and gift giving begin!