Chicago’s Christmas Lions

The two bronze lions that flank the Michigan Avenue entrance of the Art Institute of Chicago were made for the opening at its current location in 1893. They were a gift from Mrs. Henry Field who was the wife of the younger brother of department store entrepreneur Marshall Field.  She commissioned the animal sculptor Edward Kemeys to create the iconic statues. They have unofficial “names,” given to them by Kemeys, that are more like designations. The lions are not identical and thus are named for their poses: The south lion “stands in an attitude of defiance,” while the north lion is “on the prowl.”

This is a photo taken today of the ‘north’ lion donning the traditional evergreen wreath standing firm atop a wrapped gift box, a nod to the museum’s ‘Open Something Greater This Holiday’ theme.  The 21st Annual Wreathing of the Lions took place on November 23rd, the day after Thanksgiving.


Christmas Gift Ideas 2012

Check out this list of classic and unique Christmas gifts for 2012.  Inspire play, fitness, entertaining and much more.  From the grown-up Kate Spade yoyo to the Tumi leather backpack, these gifts will delight and excite everyone on your Christmas list.

1.  Spark a year of fitness and fun with the 9 foot leather jumping rope from Pottery Barn, monogramming available.  Jumping rope can burn up to 11 calories per minute!  Find it at for $24.

2.  Ah, the Tiffany blue box.  At just $30, these playing cards from Tiffany come in three colors; black and white, pink and brown and blue and green.  Tiffany advises, ‘play your cards right.’ I agree!

3.  Every now and then I come across a Christmas ornament that deserves a special tree.  The folks at Anthropologie seem to have a knack for finding ornaments that can be described as art for the Christmas tree.  The Marbled Glass Orb comes in four colors and is available at Anthropologie for $12.

4.  For the young and young at heart, the Kate Spade Silver Street yoyo inspires play, and that can never be a bad thing.  The inscription reads ‘make the rounds.’  Available at Nordstrom and for $30.

5.  I absolutely love this little mini nativity set from Pottery Barn.  The set of 14 pieces is made of zinc metal with a brass-plate finish.  Sold at Pottery Barn for $29.50 and ships free.

6.  From the MoMA Store comes the Pop Swirl door mat by Llora Manne.  It measures 30l x 20″w and is a MoMA exclusive.  It sells for $45 at  Absolutely gorgeous!

7.  I knew when I laid eyes on the West Elm Glass Knot Stripe paperweight that it would be a hot seller.  It makes a nice decorative accent and comes packaged in a beautiful forest green gift box.  This lovely art piece sells at West Elm for just $12 and makes a fantastic gift for the home or office.

8.  Yes, it’s a splurge but what a gorgeous splurge it is.  The Tumi Beacon Hill Brimmer is a work of art.  It has zip closures, adjustable straps and compartments for everything you need.  This is a great gift choice for the the really special guy in your life or anyone who appreciates a great quality backpack.  Take a look at where it sells for $495.

9.  From the MoMA Store comes the Tobbles Stacking Toy.  Toddlers can stack, spin and balance these colorful spheres for hours.  This toy is for ages two and up and sells for just $25 at

10.  This Saddle Leather Catch-All tray beats socks and tees any day for the guy on your list.  The distressed finish works as a decorative accessory around the home as well.  Available at for $29 and ships free, quantities are limited.

11.  How I adore porcelain and bone china.  The 14″ basket weave rectangular tray is a perfect extra special gift for the hostess and anyone who loves to entertain on your Christmas list.  This tray is spectacular in Irish Parian bone china at  Tiffany for $115.

12.  The international traveler will appreciate this universal travel adapter from CB2.  Find it in orange, green, pink and blue for $22.95.  Convert in color and style!

13.  The bead work of the Maasai tribe in Nairobi is nothing short of stunning.  These bracelets were handcrafted exclusively for CB2.  Participation in the tribal circle program helps artisans work toward earning a sustainable income for food, clean water, shelter and access to healthcare for their extended families.  These lovely, unique and varied artisan bracelets are available at for 19.95 each.

14.  The beautiful Silver Street harmonica from Kate Spade has one simple message, ‘hit the right note.’  Enough said!  Dare to be musical with this shiny little music-maker. So cool…at for $30.

Happy Holidays!

New Christmas Music 2012

This is a great year for Christmas music with an abundance of new offerings from the likes of Roberta Flack, Rod Stewart, Colbie Caillat and C-Lo Green just to name a few.  Whether you like to keep it classic, funky or smooth, there are some fabulous tunes to add to your Christmas music collection this year.

Feast your ears on this new music and bring on the Christmas holiday season!

1.  Rod Stewart’s ‘Merry Christmas Baby’ adds a smooth and soulful touch to the holidays.  Renditions of some of the best known and loved classics like ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Winter Wonderland’ make this is an instant classic.

2.  ‘CeeLo’s Magic Moment’ is indeed magical.  No one does music quite like he does and this masterpiece is no exception.  This is must have Christmas music that will keep you moving and listening.  On top of that, the vocals are incredible!

3.  Jackie Evancho is 12 years old with a classical angelic voice far beyond her years.  What an incredible talent!  Magnificent and moving music for the Christmas holiday.

4.  Colbie Caillat brings her distinctive, low-key but smooth style to the Christmas holiday with ‘Christmas in the Sand.’  The great thing about Christmas music is when you add your own spin and style it can work for just about any genre.  I bet you won’t see another Christmas CD with a beach scene on the cover!

5.  I stumbled upon Beegie Adair’s music and am so glad I did.  She’s a fabulous jazz pianist and her music is not to be missed.  This ‘Christmas Cocktails’ CD is great background music for the holidays or just creating a mellow mood.  Lovely.

6.  Roberta Flack’s voice has been described as classy, sophisticated, urbane and smooth.  This CD is a repackaged release of a 1997 Christmas album with at least one new song.  I loved her voice way back in the day.  Here’s the big deal-check out the snowflake afro!  Haute classic!

7.  Epic Sax Man Kenny G brings sweet jazzy sounds to the holiday season with ‘The Classic Christmas Album.’  This is smooth jazz at its best and will get you through the holidays on a high note.

8.  Luther Vandross was the voice of a generation and left a legacy of soulful sounds that will be imitated for many years to come.  This incredible CD is an updated classic which includes his most beloved Christmas songs.  I have so many Luther favorites like ‘Every Year, Every Christmas,’ ‘At Christmas Time,’ and ‘May Christmas Bring you Happiness.’

Check out these links for more Christmas music ideas.

Happy Listening!

My Christmas Decor Photos

Christmas is a short six weeks away already, where did the time go?  It’s been a busy year and as I think about how I will ‘ deck the halls’  at my house this year, these photos are giving me a little inspiration.  I really can do this!  I feel a decorating mood coming on…

Happy Decorating!

Reindeer Dreams

Christmas Gifts $5 or Less

In the spirit of finding great gifts that are sure to please at fabulous prices, I’m adding a few fun and unique items to the list of Christmas gifts for $5 or less.  Check out the 2011 list.

1.  This is the Mini Canister with Chalkboard from Crate and Barrel.  You can store and label everything from jewelry to spices in this little porcelain jar.  It looks even better in person, is erasable and sells for only $2.95.  I’m putting one in my stocking!

2.  Meet App Cube, an updated spin on the Rubik’s Cube using app icons.  This gift will bring hours of frustrating joy to geniuses of all ages.  You can find this puzzle for $4.95 at Paper Source , in stores and online.  Geek is the new cool.

3.   These fab and colorful paper eyeglasses are selling out fast!  Conceived by German designer Cantemir Gheorghiu as a creative statement against trendy hipster glasses, they are made in Berlin from recycled paper.  Get them if you can at The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Store.

4.  Cords, cords everywhere!  Bobino has come up with a simple solution to an everyday problem, what to do with all of those cords? Simply wrap your buds and cords around the Bobino Cord Wrap and voila!  Problem solved.  Get these gems in 5 colors and 3 sizes at The Container Store or visit  They range in price from $2.95-$4.95.

5.  I make no secret of the fact that I’m a bit obsessed with Crate and Barrel’s holiday dish towels.  Oh the shame!  They’re just so fabulous.  This year, I found a towel that’s an instant classic and goes way beyond the Christmas season.  It makes an awesome hostess gift and might even spark a conversation or two.  It’s the conversion dishtowel and is described as a dual-purpose cotton dishtowel conveniently printed with common recipe conversions of both weights and measurements in bright red. I have a feeling it’s going to sell out fast.  You’ll find it at Crate and Barrel for $4.95.

6.  Starbucks 2012 Gold Cup Ornament is so gorgeous and popular that it became unavailable online shortly after launch and is now available only in stores.  I couldn’t resist!  Don’t miss the matching coin purse which makes an awesome gift card holder and much more all year-long.  Both of these little cuties are under $5.  Perfect!

Happy Shopping!

Reindeer Dreams

Gifts That Keep On Giving

While thinking about giving this holiday season, my thoughts kept coming back to gifts that keep on giving.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in the Caribbean and here in the US, millions of people’s lives have been affected in untold ways.   They will need assistance to recover even the basic necessities of everyday existence.  The losses from this natural disaster are being called incalculable and efforts are underway to begin the return to any sense of normalcy that can be found.

In the spirit of giving, there are many charities that step in to help people put their lives back together.  Fueled by the selflessness of volunteers and donations from around the world, they work to help people restore their lives and communities one step at a time.

For the global citizen, the philanthropist and the volunteer on your list, donate in their honor or allow them to choose how they want to give.  Here are just a few organizations on the front lines providing lifesaving services to citizens affected by disaster, poverty and other events around the world.

1.  The Red Cross steps into crisis situations to provide shelter, blankets, meals, water and much more wherever the need exists.  Visit to discover ways to give.

2.  Global Giving is a fantastic way to give a gift that keeps on giving.  It’s as easy as visiting and choosing the option to give a gift card. The gift recipient returns to the site and can choose to provide support by initiative, country, topic, organization or sponsor.  Projects can be chosen by theme, percentage funded, country and even new projects added.  This is a fantastic and simple way to make a difference.

3.  World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.  They work in nearly 100 countries and serve all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

By visiting, your gift recipient can shop for unique gifts such as ducks and chickens to provide families with milk, cheese and protein rich eggs.  Contributions can be made to deep water well or clean water funds to provide safe and clean water to communities.  Your recipient might help buy lifesaving medicine and supplies to treat preventable illnesses where clinics might be inaccessible.  Very important work indeed.

This is a very short preview of the many charities providing critical services around the globe.  Visit to discover more in depth information.  Search by category and view hot topics to see how charities are responding to various disasters and issues worldwide.

Don’t miss Reindeer Dream’s 2008 Charity and Giving post.

Have A Happy and Safe 2012 Holiday Season!

Reindeer Dreams