The Holiday Rush

I know this sounds completely irrational, but this year it feels as though the holiday season is coming faster than ever.  Maybe it's because the stores have been promoting holiday wrapping paper since before Halloween (thanks again for that induced panic attack Duane Reade!) or the fact that my inbox was flooded with a serious attack of Black Friday/ Shop Local Saturday/Cyber Monday/Extended-Cyber-Monday-into-Cyber-Tuesday promotions, but this year it feels like the holidays are on overdrive.  I do love this time of year, and I think it's important to take the time to stop and smell the hot chocolate.  

Here are a few ways I'm slowing down to enjoy the season:

- Keep a Running List.  I love a good deal as much as the next person, but honestly, all those promotions can leave my head spinning!  Instead, I like to keep a running list of fun, interesting things - some of which end up on Friday Finds! - that I think could make for great gifts.  I might not even have anyone in mind for them, but I like to keep a list on my phone (for easy reference) of things that catch my eye throughout the year.

-Buy 'em As I See 'em.  When I find something that would make the perfect gift, I grab it.  There is no telling if it will still be available in the size, color, etc. I'll want or need when Christmas/birthdays/anniversaries roll around.  

- Stock Up Early.  I love me some holiday cards.  Love Love Love.  Last year I stocked up on holiday cards after Christmas when they were heavily discounted.  Now, I'm all geared up for this year.

-Be Present.  Whether it's whipping up a batch of holiday cookies or decorating the tree, I like focus on the task at hand.  Sure, I'll take tons of photos but I'll wait to post them.  I don't want to ruin a real moment, so that it can live online.  Enjoy in real time!

-Give Yourself a Break.  This one is the hardest, but I'm going to try my best not to get too caught up in the whirlwind of the season.  It's a marathon, not a sprint.  


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MC Shops: The 5 Places You Need to Know

When moving to a new place, or even just exploring your current neighborhood, there are 5 key people/places you always need to know - 

Antibes, France

Antibes, France

1.  A Tailor - Sounds simple, but locating a great tailor is crucial!  (And remember it might not be the local dry-cleaner.)  Whether it's taking in a seam, adding a hem, or reconstructing a garment, tailoring your clothing takes your look from fine to fabulous.  Do your research, and look who comes highly recommended.  After all, many tailors really earn their reputation by word-of-mouth.  Ask a friend or neighbor who always looks pulled together where they go.   It's likely nearby.  Feel awkward asking them?  Check in with local high end retailers and see where they recommend their clients.  Once located, start by working on a simple piece, and from there, decide whether or not to move forward.  Finally, be sure the piece you're having worked on is worth the cost of the edits.  Tailoring can be costly, but the results are worth it!

2.  Shoe Repairman - Similar to a fine tailor, a shoe repairman breathes new life into your old favorites.  Need a new zipper for a favorite boot or to tweak a wonky heel?  A skilled repairman can fix these in a snap - saving your wallet and your feet from having to find a new pair.  Oftentimes, a shoe repairman can assist with bags and leather goods too!

3. A Butcher - OK, this one sounds a bit old school, and it is!  The fact is, when your cooking for a crowd or your looking for something special, a true butcher can't be beat.  Not only will you get exactly what your looking for (although if it is out of the norm, you should call ahead to be safe), and they will let you know exactly how to prepare it.  Have questions later, give them a call; they are happy to help.

4. Vintner - I like to buy local wines, and when the NYC area has so many wonderful vineyards (I really love Shinn Estates and Dilbertos), there is no reason not to!  Don't feel intimidated.  Ask questions!  These guys love wine and can't wait to share their knowledge.  Let them know what your planning on pairing with, your price range and any preferences (I'm currently on a Savignon Blanc kick).  You'll leave with the ideal bottle and be able to speak to it when it's opened later - always a good thing!  Remember to write down the names of the wines you liked for later.

5.  Bakery - This is the one I'm on the hunt for currently.  Again, I love an old school bakery - and not just for sweet treats - but for Sunday rolls or a loaf of Italian bread.  The price is pretty on par with grocers, but the freshness is on a whole different level!