Uncommon Goods: Holiday Ideas and a Giveaway



When the folks at Uncommon Goods approached me about a post, I checked out the company’s merchandise and their mission and said, “Sure!”  More about the company’s mission soon, but first, some cool and creative items you might want to add to your holiday shopping list. Here’s a special selection of gifts they’ve put together in honor of the season.

Above, Bloody Mary Diagram glasses. I don’t even drink Bloody Marys, but I love these glasses. I like the Mimosa Diagram Glasses  and  the Hot Toddy Diagram Glasses, too. Fun!


Now that my granddaughter Emerson Grace is here, I’m thinking booties. Since her grandpop Cliff loves to go to funky taco bars when we visit the kids in Dallas, maybe Emmie needs a pair of Taco Booties


Common Goods supports artisans across the world.Meet Gulnara Kydyrmyshova, who designed the taco booties.artist_23480

Each artisan is featured on the web page next to his or her creation. Read more about Gulnara: “When Kyrgyzstan became an independent country in 1991, most of the nation’s talented artists fled to larger and more creative cities. But maker Gulnara Kydyrmyshova stayed behind and established a small retail store with the vision to revive Kyrgyz craftsmanship and help relieve her nation of poverty through the trade of handmade felted works. She started by conducting free sewing classes to unemployed women in her community. For over a decade, she has supported local artisans by selling felted handicrafts in her store.”

On the company’s blog, you can learn more about their connection with  Silk Road Bazaar, Gularna, and the women she works with. An uplifting and fascinating story.


Back to more gift ideas. Grandson Maze would love this  Choo Choo Train Dining Set.



Holiday shopping for men can be tricky. What about guitar socks?


Or a Gin making Kit? Now that could keep a man busy this winter.


Here are some gifts that appeal especially to women. Consider Seed Money for a gardening friend.


I’m a fan of cuff bracelets. They’re not only stylish but easy to pop on and off. Birth Month Flower Cuffmake a very personal gift for a lady  on your list.


I bet my daughter Laura wished babies really did come from storks when she was in labor this October. A Stork Ornament is a great gift for any new mom or grandmom.


Take a look at the presents for moms that are highlighted here. Lots and lots to choose from.

I’ve never heard of Tea Drops. Talk about a festive treat on a winter day.


In winter and summer, Solar Light Garden Stake Flower Globes are perfect for lighting up a garden, yard, or path.


Here’s the  company’s official mission statement: “At UncommonGoods, we’re working to change the way business is done by making sustainability a part of every decision we make. We’re steadily working to make UncommonGoods more environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and an ever-more rewarding place to work.” Read more of their story here.


Giveaway! In celebration of Uncommon Goods, I’m offering a giveaway this holiday season. I picked their chocolate soaps. How fun to take a shower or bath with chocolate (and a whole lot less caloric). For a chance to win, please enter a comment by December 15.

wine-soaps I so appreciate this company’s interest in local artisans.I received compensation for writing the post but am paying for the giveaway.

Gynecologists and Dignity: My Stewart’s Story



Let’s step back in time.

About two years after my periods started, I began experiencing bad cramps. My mom never had trouble with her periods, so she was unsure of what this meant. Was it normal?

One day after school, we were driving to Stewart’s, a Baltimore department store, in search of spring clothes for me.

“I asked Dr. Hawes about your cramps today,” Mom said. “He told me they aren’t real. Girls get them from talking to other girls.”

I was fifteen. I didn’t know a lot about the inner workings of the female body. But I knew Dr. Hawes was wrong. And I hated his implications.

I don’t remember what I said, but I blasted my mother.

“Barbs,” Mom replied, her hands gripping the steering wheel. “Do you want to go to Stewart’s or not?”

I’ve always loved clothes. I must have mumbled something, and we were back on track for the shopping trip.


But the gall of that man. He was a creep or very poorly trained or maybe this was simply the thinking of the day. Still makes me angry forty-plus years later.

Ten years after the Stewart’s incident, I had two more negative experiences with condescending and cold gynecologists, one a man and the other a woman. This time the encounters were in person. I’ll save their stories for another post.

Luckily the medical world has changed. I now have a male gynecologist whom I thank for diagnosing my cancer and treating me with compassion. And the surgeon who did the intricate work of saving my life is a woman. Neither was condescending or presumed to know what I was feeling. They let my body and spirit be mine. And I was delighted to meet smart, energetic young women and one fine young man who were training  in gynecology at UNC Hospital. Hope abounds that the tides have turned for the dignity of women in medical situations.

What about you? Any doctor stories from your youth to share?

Oh, and I have one more. This one involves breasts and no robe and our family doctor. But that one, too, can wait for another day.

Photos: When I registered for wedding presents at Stewart’s in 1977, the bridal department gave me this booklet. I found the second photo online. Stewart’s, like so many old department stores, is now gone.

Happy Thanksgiving One and All


Grandson Maze’s turkey joins me in wishing all of you a very happy Thanksgiving. My kids and grandkids are off in other directions this holiday. Cliff and I are happily celebrating with dear friends.

And thanks to all of you for being a dear friend for the ride. I am grateful you read my words, look at my pictures, and put up with my eccentricities.

Eat an extra slice of pie for me!

Love, Barbara

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Austria Edition



On our fall trip to Vienna and the Czech Republic, I had a fabulous time hunting for ladies room doors. Sadly, I didn’t do a good job of documenting the locations of those doors. With apologies, I present you the above sign from somewhere in Vienna.The sign indicates that the toilets are downstairs (which seems to be where bathrooms usually are in both countries).

I like the simplicity of the sign below, but not sure where in Austria I found it.


And talk about simple! Look at the F below. We know what it means, and it has a bit of spunk to it.


This door leads to bathrooms at the Hofburg-Imperial Palace. Cliff set this one up, announcing, “You’ve got to get that guy’s bottom in the picture.”


At the palace, I learned of the mysterious Emperess Sisi, a Princess Diana-like figure in some ways.


Sisi was murdered after shopping for presents for her grandchildren. Yikes! Made me think twice about picking up presents for Maze and Emmie.

You can even buy Sisi figurines in a variety of sizes at the gift shop. My friend Judy, who knows more about Sisi than I do, reports that Sisi handled menopause with the help of cocaine. Now that’s an idea.

NOT! Maybe I should have bought a figurine though, as a reminder that I survived menopause without cocaine, and you can too!

By St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Cliff and I sat at the Konditorei Bistrou. Loved the bells tolling from the church, and my ladies room visit introduced me to a bathroom in creamsicle colors!








Cliff and I, for the first time, navigated the European train system and arrived in Melk, Austria. Among other adventures here, we sailed on the Danube. Here’s the ladies room door on the boat.


Sailing on the Danube felt like living a dream.


After two beers, I decided I’d better switch to spritzers.


The Melk Abbey is magnificent, the largest abbey in Austria.


I went nuts over this pink stairway.

We stayed at the Hotel Donaublick in Melk. Note the sweetness of their ladies room door.


With some naughty inside the ladies room.


In Salzburg, we took The Sound of Music Tour. You can read about it here, on Friend for the Ride.  I found this sign near the entrance to Mirabell Gardens, where Maria and the children sing Do-re-mi and march around the fountain.



This is a sign at the Hohensalzburg Fortress above Salzburg.



We had a lovely dinner at the cafe overlooking the city.


Love this plain sign at Mozart’s house. I also liked learning about Mozart’s mother, who deftly handled an eccentric husband and son.


We stopped into the McDonald’s in Salzburg (in search of hot chocolate for me) and found quite creative bathroom signs.


You have to pay to get into the bathrooms, but you then receive a coupon saving you fifty cents or so off your next purchase. Fair deal.


No clue where I snapped this sign.


On our last night in Vienna, we attended a concert at St. Charles Church.


A university nearby offered its bathrooms to concertgoers. This was quite an eventful potty stop as two women, a bit younger than I, were in gales of laughter. I’ve never heard women laugh so hard anywhere in my life. They spent the entire bathroom visit in hysterics. Even if I could speak German, I wouldn’t have known what they were laughing about because they never stopped long enough to utter a word.


To life and laughter and ladies room doors!