9 Holiday Gift Ideas for People Who Need Inspiration

And now, for something new.

If you know me even a little bit, you know that the holidays are my favorite time of year. I am that person that people who don’t want the holidays to start until after Thanksgiving absolutely despises. I am a sucker for holiday lights, well-decorated trees (and Charlie Brown Christmas trees), cookies, 24/7 holiday music, and all of the holiday trappings. I love it all!

But, my absolute FAVORITE part of the holidays is finding THE perfect gift for those special people in my life. It always surprises me when I hear people say that they don’t know what to buy people – for me, it’s just a matter of identifying someone’s passions. So, this year, I thought I’d make a list of some of gift ideas for folks who need some inspiration AND support great individuals and companies at the same time.

Happy holiday shopping, everyone!

For the animal lover:
SarahCustom pet portraits are a great way to capture your pet’s unique personality – and they don’t have to break the bank. My extremely talented friend Sarah Flinn will do a one-of-a-kind painting of your pet on upcycled wood for anywhere from $50 for a tiny 4-inch round to $150 and up for larger sizes. In Atlanta? Check out Sarah’s artwork and pick up a pre-painted piece at Dupre’s Antique Market at 17 Whitlock Ave SW. Seen all you need to see? Contact Sarah at InLikeFlinnStudio@gmail.com.

For the sports fan:
FreakerSocks may be a tried and rather tired holiday gift, but I promise you if you pick up some sports socks from Freaker USA, you’ll be at the top of your gift recipient’s NICE list. I’m a big fan of the NFLPA socks that feature a caricature of leading NFL players, but this Wilmington, NC-based company also had a handful of college teams available, fun pop-culture socks, and unique koozies available for purchase. I’ve probably bought about 15 pairs of socks from them over the last three years…and I just love their fun packaging and personal touches! (Sorry, Eagles fans, Carson Wentz is sold out…but I’d keep checking back!)

For the art lover:
KarenLibecapAt Festival in the Park this year, I stumbled upon the cutest booth. Karen Libecap makes tiny, detailed paintings of just about everything – animals, objects, movies, music, you name it. These 5 x 5 prints pack a lot of punch into a tiny little space – the painting itself measures about 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch. It’s quirky and the perfect gift for the person who loves eclectic decorations in their home. She has a tiny painting to suit just about everyone.  For $35, these are a steal. Check out Karen’s Esty Shop or Instagram.

For the traveler:
HunkerBagCo_013_EIf your loved one loves to travel and look good doing it, look no further than Hunker Bag Company. Based in Nashville, Hunker Bag Company was started by Denton Hunker, a drummer in the band Green River Ordinance, and his wife, Alicia. They make an array of super-stylish leather and waxed canvas bags for men and women, ranging in price from $90 to $350+. Whether you’re looking for a wristlet for a night out, an every day purse or bag, a slick briefcase, or an overnight travel or duffel bag, you won’t be disappointed by what you find at Hunker Bag Company.

For the fashionista:
There’s nothing sharper than someone who knows how to accessorize well. And unique accessories can make or break an outfit. I’m a big fan of funky, unique jewelry, and I’ve got two custom jewelry makers that I adore:

LynneLynne and Lucille – I first found Kelly when I was looking for some recycled cymbal jewelry. I’ve purchased a number of pieces from her over the last few years (at right is my favorite, a dagger-like cymbal piece on a long chain). She uses lots of typically discarded materials to craft unique jewelry – everything from cymbals to bullet casings to leather scraps and old spoons. She’s branching out into stamped jewelry now, too. She fills orders really quickly and often includes discounts for additional purchases in her orders. Check out her Etsy shop.

JaclynBear on the Moon – For outdoor enthusiast fashionistas, I have to recommend my friend Jaclyn’s amazing handcrafted jewelry. Jaclyn is the free spirit I wish I could be, and she channels her love for nature into her jewelry making, mixing stones and gems with sterling silver. She is so incredibly talented. Pay a visit to her Etsy shop – but don’t wait too long on anything. She turns items over very quickly!

For the music lover:
LstnWherever you go these days, headphones are sort of ubiquitous. I’m an Apple fan, but those white headphones are obnoxious. Don’t subject your music lover to a life of tunes with ugly headphones. Check out the beautifully crafted headphones over at LSTN Sound Co. Whether you’re looking for full-sized headphones or earbuds, they’ve got you covered with both wired and wireless options. Bonus: a percentage of every purchase goes to the Starkey Hearing Foundation to help provide hearing aids to people in need around the world.

For fans of Charlotte:
704ShopI might be a Jersey Girl, but I love my adopted home of Charlotte. I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere in my life, and I love everything about the Queen City. 704 Shop has an array of funky Charlotte-themed shirts, hats, socks, and more to help you show off your love of our Crown Town, including fun collabs with teams, sports stars, neighborhoods, and more.


For the impossible to buy for person:

NikkiWe all have one – the most impossible person in the world for whom to buy gifts. You get stuck every year. Well, what about a custom map of a special place in their life? A college campus, a first home address, a restaurant or park where someone got engaged… My super talented friend Nikki makes these intricate, hand-cut maps that are simply perfect for the person who has everything. All she needs is an address to get started! Contact Nikki through her Etsy shop or pay a visit to her Instagram.

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A Song for Your Wild Heart

In April, I went to see Jamestown Revival here in Charlotte. I’ve been a fan for a few years and had already seen them once in Greensboro earlier this year. I wasn’t expecting that I’d leave that night anything less that googly-eyed over their set.

Then the opener happened. I pretty much forgot about Jamestown Revival.

That opener was Ghost of Paul Revere, and these Mainers completely stole the show. Hilarious banter. Energetic performance despite a somewhat empty-ish “before the headliner” room. Fantastic harmonies. And these songs, you guys.

You know how every once in awhile you hear a song for the first time and it just instantly grabs you by your ears? Well, that’s what happened when I heard them play “Wild Child” that night. I was enthralled.

So imagine my disappointment when I found out it was new and it wasn’t to be had ANYWHERE.

Well, finally, six months after that show, the song has been soft released – Spotify stream only for right now, but the new record is only 10 days away. You guys MUST hear this song. I swear I’ve already played it like 100 times.

You can blame me for the earworm later.

Check the band out on tour now and see this song, plus this bad ass cover of “Baba O’ Riley.”

 

MORE GHOST OF PAUL REVERE: Pre-Order Monarch on iTunes | Buy music on Amazon | Watch the AudioTree Session | Listen on Spotify

Oh, hi there… 2017 Update

So, yeah. I suck at updating my blog. Maybe one day, I’ll be better about it.

As I was driving around running errands yesterday, I was thinking about the post I made back in December. You know, the one where I said that I was going to be better about updating the blog? And talked about all my big plans for the year?

Surprisingly, I’ve actually accomplished a bunch on my list. There’s still more red  ❌ than there are green ✅ … and a couple that remain to be seen, but let’s be honest – it was a pretty aggressive list.

  • Train for and run my first half marathon in five years ✅
  • Lose weight  ⚠️
  • Travel to Australia to see Shelia and Wales to visit Caroline and Lee  ❌
  • Go to Denver and see Red Rocks  ❌
  • My first Montana trip to see Libby  ✅
  • Send a letter or card a week  ✅
  • Write at least one blog post a week  ❌
  • Conduct a massive, soul-cleansing closet purge (trust me, this one is LONG overdue – there are clothes and shoes in there that just shouldn’t be)  ✅
  • Maybe go on date or two  ❌
  • Reduce the amount of Sugar Free Red Bull and Coke that I drink  ❌
  • Go to 125 concerts in a year  ⚠️
  • Get back into taking real photos  ❌

Let’s talk about the half marathon. It wasn’t pretty. I didn’t train nearly as much as I should have. And I walked a bunch, and I was slow…but I finished. My awesome cousin, Meg, ran the race with me and cheered me on the whole way. If anything, it was awesome to spend time with her where we grew up. We both had challenging years in 2016, so I think it was probably an emotional win for both of us.

I’ve traveled a BUNCH this year, at least for me. I didn’t make it to Wales to see Lee and Caroline, but… I did squeeze in an unplanned trip to Las Vegas to see them for Lee’s 50th birthday. Caroline and I plotted behind Lee’s back…he had no idea that I was coming, so the look on his face when I showed up there at 11 PM at night was priceless.

I said that this year would be my year to do the things I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, and I wasn’t lying. I finally got to attend Mile of Music in Wisconsin – over my birthday, no less. On top of that, I got to spend it with my best friend of nearly 30 years, Steph, who I haven’t seen in so so long. So many great moments, but one of the highlights? Dancing on stage Courtney Cox-style with my buddies in Wild Adriatic during the Bruce Springsteen tribute session on my actual birthday. Lots of new artists to love. The music and the company were just what my soul needed, and I’m going to make it a yearly thing now.

Two weeks after that trip, I hopped on a plan to Montana to visit Libby. It was so great to be with her on her home turf and check another state of my visit list. I got to see a show at Live at the Divide in Bozeman, took an amazing couple of hikes, and Libby and I even had a day where we vegged on an air mattress watching the Golden Girls and snacking. We live so far apart, and when we do see each other, it’s usually on The Rock Boat, so there’s no time for just… friending. The cherry on top was the Flagship Romance house show at Libby and Jake’s beautiful new home. Montana is stunning, and I would totally move there tomorrow if it wasn’t cold seven months out of the year.

Just this last month, I flew to Chicago to see Mighty Oaks. If you’ve not been following along for the last seven or so years, they are a band based in Berlin, Germany, that I have the biggest musical crush on. I’ve only seen them once, in an opening slot. So when they announced a short headlining tour in the States this year, I knew I had to go see them. Chicago won as the closest… and, bonus, one of my closest musical friends who lives in Chicago, joined me for the show.

My concert calendar has been pretty full this year, and I’m 20 shows ahead of where I was at this time last year. I’m not sure I’ll get to 125. I’ll get close. Right now, if I go to everything I have planned, I’ll be around 110. Squeezing another 15 shows in seems pretty impossible, but I’m going to try. Keep your fingers crossed. That said, if I were to hang it up today, it would be an amazing year of fantastic shows. I’ve seen Quiet Hounds more this year than I’ve ever seen them in a year before; saw Mighty Oaks; had lots of face time with my Wild Adriatic fellas (and more to come); got to see Third Eye Blind’s eponymous record’s 20th anniversary tour; kicked off my birthday celebration with Future Thieves at my very favorite venue surrounded by some of my best friends; went to my first SoFarSounds show; have seen SUSTO a bunch; knocked out another four Will Hoge shows (trying really hard to get to the 100th Will show); saw Quiet Hollers for the first, second, third and fourth time; fell in love with Judah and the Lion; got to have The Brevet back on the East Coast for a show at The Evening Muse; and sooo much more. And there’s still a little less than three months to go!

There’s all the “stuff” that still isn’t where I want it to be. I remain way too caffeinated, I don’t write nearly enough, still haven’t gone on any dates, still haven’t lost any weight…blah, blah, blah. Those things get to me, of course, but I’m a work in progress. There are still some things I’m working on fixing, things I’m working on about myself, things I’m trying to love about myself. I’m my own worst critic…maybe that’s my biggest accomplishment of this year…learning to let go and give myself a break.

So there’s the update. Stay tuned to see how 2017 closes out….

The 2017 Summer Mix

unnamedHey guys, Happy 4th of July.

Although it’s a bit belated, the 2017 Summer Mix is FINALLY ready for your ears. Two hours of songs to make you laugh, cry, and feel alive.

Believe it or not, at one point, it was up to something like 42 songs, so I have done a LOT of editing (although the liner notes sure don’t make it seem that way…they are forever long).

Hope you’re doing all the summer things. It is the best season, after all, isn’t it?