The Classy Holiday Gift Guide

 

If men are God’s gift to women,

then God must really love

gag gifts.

Maya Angelou

 

December snuck up and caught me completely unawares this year! Fortunately, like Santa prancing with reindeers, we can skip traffic completely and let our fingers be the elves doing all the ordering, packing and delivery.  For gifts to impress or easy stocking stuffers, may you find something uncommon for everyone here:

A rich robe for her. Silk keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer. This buttery soft robe is made from ethically and sustainably sourced silk and cashmere–easy on the conscience and likely to become your favorite at home while doubling as pajamas when you travel. Khimori silk cashmere, $175 at naadam.co.

Coffee, tea or (water in) me. Sleek, stainless steel, insulated bottles in fun colors that keep beverages warm or cold for at least 12 hours. Now all we need is for Starbucks to offer discounts to those who bring their own stylish recyclable. HAY George Snowden water bottles from $35, store.moma.org.

Sleek folio. Elegant leather pouches to protect your devices in colors that make you smile while impressing clients. Leather iPad case, from $75 at leatherology.com.

Luxe lunch bag.  This chic Insulated vegan leather bag just might be the inspiration we need to be kinder to the planet and pack our own lunch with reusable containers. The Luncher $149 at modernpicnic.com.

Game night with style.  Playing cards for those who appreciate handcrafted quality, $30 at SeasonsPlayingCards.com.

 

For the crafty. Measuring tape too pretty to sit in a dusty toolbox. Geometric wood tape measures, $36 at jaysonhome.com.

 

And, of course, books never fail!

For the Francophile foodie. This fun book on all things related to French food will make an excellent conversation starter on your coffee table. Let’s Eat France: 1,250 specialty foods, 375 iconic recipes, 350 topics, 260 personalities, plus (everything) you want to know about the food of France, $50 at workman.com.

Inspire wanderlust with wonder. This book transports you to the world’s most unusual and obscure places you may not find in popular guide books. I’d recommend this for the young gentlemen on your list: Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders, $35 hardcover at amazon.com. For an illustrated version for budding adventurers (age 8-12) The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid, $20 at workman.com.

For the fiction reader who loves travel.  I’ll let the title tell you what this book is about. Novel Destinations: A Travel Guide to Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen’s Bath to Ernest Hemingway’s Key West. $16 hardcover at amazon.com. And an airplane ticket hidden amongst the book’s pages might be the surprise they’ll remember for a lifetime!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your uncommon and bright gift idea this year.

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

The Nutcracker: Helen Mirren

 

I like the plot of

The Nutcracker–

not at all.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

 

Photo by Zoey Grossman for Harpers Bazaar

‘Tis that season for the Nutcracker! Helen Mirren, one of the actresses I adore for style, substance, and fearlessness, has had a career spanning longer than my time on this earth. She continues to be hot commodity at 73 with Oscar winning roles ranging from Shakespeare, Hitchcock, sexpot, detective, grand dame, royalty and tough as nails villain in Disney’s latest The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.  

For a woman who has always drawn to a challenge, someone so seasoned and accomplished, you’d probably never imagine her saying “I consider myself a scaredy cat” but she admits, “I’m constantly nervous… always worried that I’m not going to do it right. But you have to just jump and then the adrenaline kicks in.” (Harper’s Bazaar October 2018)  How necessary for the young to hear such honesty! The rest of us easily assume we are the only ones capable of feeling inadequate and afraid.

I love opulence, period costume and strong women so I’m very much looking forward to seeing her next year as Catherine the Great on HBO.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite woman of great style, substance, and a tough nut to crack.

xoxox

Photos below from Google Images

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

How To Thank The Thanksgiving Hostess

 

There’s turkey ham, turkey bologna,

turkey pastrami… Someone needs to tell the turkey,

“Man, just be yourself!”

Mitch Hedberg

 

When I grow up, I’ll look forward to being the guest for Thanksgiving. Until that day comes, I soldier on hosting for the sake of keeping my teens engaged in the kitchen and leaving them with good memories of tradition and togetherness.  A bit more fun than being sad and lonely tech zombies on their individual cellphones and laptops, yes?

My wish for them is to be wanted as guests in other people’s homes, too, and here are a few clues to what it takes to be the hostess’ favorite whatever your age:

Arrive on time–no excuses. No asking for pickup from the bus stop if you have legs that can carry you the distance.

Send a lovely flower arrangement before the event or visit.  It is always wise not to show up empty handed but bringing a bouquet of flowers only gives the hostess one more last minute thing to do (find and fill a vase) when she already has more than enough on her plate.

Clean up after yourself and help clear the kitchen sink.  If the hostess protests. tell her it’s against your religion and you’d rather make it to heaven.

Bring the entertainment.  Being a good guest can simply be as fun as bringing a game, activity (eg, face painting with young kids) or teach a magic/card trick or skill that entertains all.

If you’re a weekend guest, make/bring breakfast one morning and pay for at least one meal out while you’re there.

After you leave, mail an old fashioned thank you note with prints of your best photos from your time together. Nobody makes time to print but, truth be told, in our age of constantly changing technology and infinite digital photos, only prints count for posterity.

Surprise the hostess with a gift she will enjoy (a board game her family will love, a wireless speaker for their porch, etc).

Pick up the phone and invite them to be your guest when they’re in your part of the world.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what you like to add to the Thanksgiving table.  Happy Gobble Gobble and know I’m thankful for you!

xoxox

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Amazing Libraries of the World

 

Everything comes 

to those who wait

except a loaned book.

Kin Hubbard

My Inner Nerd was terribly excited to tell you about this futuristic Binhai Libray in Tianjin, China that went viral on social media. It promises to be a book lover’s paradise with grand sweeping curves of floor to very high ceiling shelves crammed with books. There’s just one catch: Don’t look too closely at the millions of books in its architecturally stunning main hall because they’re merely painted and only a few real books are strategically positioned at certain sections.

Other fabulous ones for your travel bucket list follow below. I’ve been to most of these cities but have yet to remember to officially add libraries to my itinerary and see them for myself.  Having read about the architecture of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris, I once spent an entire day searching for it with my fumbling French, getting misdirected by well-meaning locals to the more popular, modern and out of the way  Francois Mitterrand library.  When I finally figured I had to find my way back to Paris central, the librarian curtly informed me that their gorgeous oval reading room is only for students. ;(  I’ve gotten luckier with a private tour of a stunning one among those cloistered in European monasteries and abbeys.  What’s on this list are libraries that you can possibly visit when you happen to be in their neighborhood.

Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Austrian National Library, Vienna

Klementinum Library, Prague, Czech Republic

Bodleian Library at Trinity School, Oxford, London

Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Boston Public Library, Massachusetts, USA

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your Inner Nerd’s travel delight. Big thanks to the favorite blog fan who inspired me to write about my favorite things all at once: reading, design and travel.

Photos on this page all from Google Images.

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Why I’d Rather Not Halloween

 

Never put your faith in a Prince.

When you require a miracle,

trust a witch.

Catherynne M. Valente, In The Night Garden

 

 

There are more than a couple of reasons why I don’t like Halloween. For one, black is not a color in my rainbow and, more importantly, I don’t believe in encouraging ugly people to dress up looking worse. I love Halloween for one thing only: I adore pretty costumes and faith in the goodness of all mankind–an occasion to forget “stranger danger” paranoia, gamely opening our front door, offering treats to whoever rings the bell even when they look scary or wear masks.

Rita Rudner, a favorite standup comic, sums up this dilemma best:

Halloween was confusing. All my life my parents told me, ‘Never take candy from strangers.’ And then they dressed me up and said, ‘Go beg for it.’ I didn’t know what to do! I’d knock on people’s doors and go, ‘Trick or treat’ and when they offered me candy, I said, ‘No, thank you.’

And while you’re at it, please keep all skeletons where they belong: buried deep underground,  in biology labs for educational purposes only, or tucked away in the back of your proverbial closet. Trick or treat!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite costume.

xoxox

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Dutch Masters at the Met

 

There are only two styles of portrait painting:

the serious and

the smirk.

Charles Dickens

 

Halima Aden in Vermeer’s Girl With The Pearl Earring, Harper’s Bazaar Oct 2017

The exhibit that just opened at the Met yesterday brings together sixty seven of the Museum’s greatest works by Dutch Masters.  In Praise of Painting orients visitors to key issues in seventeenth-century Dutch culture—from debates about religion and conspicuous consumption to painters’ fascination with the domestic lives of women.

This fresh perspective on the Dutch Golden Age unites paintings typically displayed separately in the Museum’s galleries. Rembrandt’s Gerard de Lairesse and Lairesse’s own Apollo and Aurora are presented side by side for a thematic and visually compelling narrative about the tensions between realism and idealism during this period. My favorites from a few of the grand masters featured:

Virtually ignored in his own time, Johannes Vermeer is now considered an Old Master. His fascination was the faithful reproduction of beautiful light on canvas best seen on his most famous work Girl With a Pearl Earring. Using the camera obscura that became available in the Netherlands in the mid-17th century, Vermeer’s best works generally feature windows, and Vermeer would use his new tool to depict the light shining through them in ways never before seen in his time.Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring (which inspired the Harper’s Bazaar interpretation with model Halima Aden at the top of this page) appears seductive precisely because of her restraint and the gorgeously observed fabrics. The coy glance lends it a sense of undefinable mystery,

Danaë (finished in 1636) is Rembrandt van Rijn’s best nude painting and one of his greatest masterpieces. It depicts Danaë, the mother of the ancient Greek mythological hero Perseus, welcoming Zeus who came to her in the form of golden rain. This painting was bought by Catherine II of Russia in the 1770s and has been housed in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg ever since.

Considered the greatest and most famous portrait painter of all time, Rembrandt was a master of observation, chiaroscuro and, perhaps most importantly, brutal honesty, as seen in his self-portraits. These depict the ravages of time on the artist’s face without any sense of vanity, and are heartbreaking when seen in succession.

A generation older than Rembrandt, many of the great’s works would not have been possible without the work of Frans Hals. Hals’ work featured looser brushwork than any who had come before him, introducing a lively sense of movement and a lived-in quality to many of studies. The most famous example of this being The Laughing Cavalier.

Unlike many traditional Baroque artists, Hals did not paint completely objectively. He would create an atmosphere and a different sense of composure for each subject to convey a true sense of self in his paintings. In this way he would accentuate not only their status in society through various symbolic gestures and dress but also portray features of the sitter that made them human.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share the painting that most inspires you.

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

Life Sketching

 

Who is she?

She is your power, your feminine source.

When she calls, you will know you’ve been called.

It is up to you to answer.

Lucy H. Pearce, Burning Woman

 

Conception and creation are the highest divine powers of womankind.  When we dissipate our energy with doubt, resentments, distractions, or being spread too thin, frustration is a natural consequence. The comforting non-judgment, loving patience and healing hands of conception catalyst, Mica DeSantis, help you reclaim your personal power and gather energy back to your feminine center. She specializes in helping women clear emotional and mental blocks that get in the way of their ability to conceive children, life direction and purpose.

Whether you seek relief from the sorrow of a miscarriage, overcome an inability to conceive or envision new possibilities, Mica will help you move forward with your life.  For more on Mica’s journey and offerings, visit LifeSketching.com.

Mica is a Powerful Goddess in recognizing that a woman’s joy is power!  When a woman owns the key to the best use of her time and energy, she unlocks the path to an authentic life, harnessing innate talents and abilities to bring happiness to others.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you’ve claimed the key back home to you!

xoxox

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

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