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3 Tips for a Magical, Memorable Holiday

Books, movies and songs about the magic of Christmas abound.  And why not?  It is a time of year when families gather, gifts are exchanged and way too much food is prepared and consumed– what’s not to like?  But magic can use a little help now and then.  Here are my top 3 tips to “making a little magic’ this holiday.

~ Add a surprise.  While Christmas is all about tradition, don’t forget the power of the unexpected.  For example, stockings are often a huge part of Christmas morning (they certainly are of ours).  But maybe this year, consider holding out a stuffer or two and hiding them instead.  Perhaps put a clue in the stocking, creating a mini scavenger hunt.  One of my favorite Christmas memories, on a year when a lot of our family couldn’t be together,  I bought a set of our message cards and had  family members write  notes to my Mom on them.  Then I hid them around the house where she would find them unexpectedly throughout the day.   These brief notes were special gifts in themselves, sentiments she treasured; the unexpected discovery of them added a bit of magic to her holiday (and watching her, mine).

~ Start a new family Tradition.  What is one of the things you enjoy most about Christmas?  Think about it and then find a way to add to it.  Perhaps family members relaxing together, sharing bits of themselves and their lives is a highlight for you.  So start a new tradition:  find a time, during dinner or afterwards over dessert, when each family member in turn takes a moment to share what Christmas and family mean to them.  Too hokey for you?  Pick a lighter topic, or a question that everyone answers.  Stumped?  That’s where something like Chat Pack comes in.  Lots of quirky questions that spark unexpected conversations and insight into people you thought you knew.

~ Get up and get active.  With sports such a big part of holidays and the lure of video games, internet and facebook, too often gatherings splinter into pockets of solitary and sedentary “activities”.  Counter that by bringing out a family game (“Spot It” or “Suspend” come to mind, or even “Jacks” can work) and get people interacting,  laughing and loud.  To get even more active (anyone who’s physically capable that is) resurrect something like Twister or our ever popular Human Baffle Puzzle.  Or maybe locate some old disco CD’s and pair people up to “cut a rug”.  After all, everyone’s a kid at Christmas…  that’s part of its Magic!

So there’s 3 of my tips for making Magic this Christmas.  What’s yours?  Your favorite family tradition or activity?  What you love most or remember best from past holiday celebrations?  Won’t you please share it with me?  Better yet, post it on Circare’s facebook page and share it with everyone so we can all make this year’s celebration both Magical and Memorable!

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Say “Hi!” to 5!

I am forever grateful for each and everyone of you who come in to Circare regularly.  You make it possible for me to make a living doing something I love AND make it so much fun!  But  how many of my neighboring businesses here in downtown St Clair Shores do you also know?  Have you wondered into Comfortably Yours and discovered their feel good garments and gifts?  Relied on Sam’s expertise at Vitamin Village to find the best quality supplements?  Had a delicious (and friendly) lunch with Karen and Jack at Caffe Far Bella?  We have a wonderful rich variety of great businesses here in our one small block!  And now is the absolutely perfect time to stop by a few of them, say “Hi!”, see what they’re all about and– just possibly— WIN $100!

That’s right- we 9 Mack Merchants are asking you to come down sometime between Thursday, October 17th and Saturday, October 26th.  Pick up a “Hi! 5” sheet at any of the businesses sporting a “hand” sign in their window (or look for the ‘Hi! 5″ page in the SCS Sentinel, GP Times, or Eastsider 10/17/13 newspapers).  Then stop by at least 5 of the participating businesses, getting a sticker at each one.  Collect 5 stickers and you will be entered into a drawing for 1 of 5 separate $100 cash prizes!  If you enjoy exploring our little downtown and discovering new favorite shops, by all means don’t stop.  Collect 10 stickers and we’ll give you not 2 but 3 chances to Win!

Circare just celebrated our 26th anniversary and we’re really proud about that.   But we’re still actually one of the younger shops here at 9 & Mack.  Roy O’Brien Ford opened in 1946!  Connie’s Children’s Shop is 2nd generation.  Party Adventure, Jan & Jim’s Hallmark, Gilboe & Associates, all of them were here before us.  To have survived-and thrived- through all these years, they must be doing something (lots of somethings) really right.  Come check them out.  And who knows?  It could be the easiest $100 you’ll ever win!

If you have questions, or would like to learn more about our “Hi! 5” event, give us a call @ 586 771-8510.  Better yet, stop by and say “Hi!”

Please share this blog post with your friends and family.  They could win $100, too!

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Your Charities of Choice for Circare’s Community Giving Spree

Here they are, the 8 local charities and community groups that YOU VOTED FOR.  These are the organizations you will have the opportunity to have Circare donate 10% of your purchase to when you shop during Circare’s Community Giving Spree ART FOR PEOPLE, PEOPLE FOR ART,  October 7-12, 2013!

4 Paws 1 Heart    www.4paws1heart.org

4 Paws 1 Heart’s mission is to reduce the number of homeless cats and dogs by paying for needed medical treatment and assisting with the permanent placement of these animals through our partnerships with local rescues. Whether the animal comes in through an emergency hospital or through a rescue, we will work together to meet the medical needs of that animal.

Fowler Center for Outdoor Learning    www.thefowlercenter.org

We have been providing year-round camping experiences for children and adults with developmental disabilities and special needs since 1957. This includes individuals with mental and physical challenges, autism, traumatic brain injuries, and sensory and communication challenges. We focus on the ability of our campers to participate in outdoor learning experiences, evaluating their physical, mental and psychological abilities and removing barriers where possible.

Handbags of Hope    (see them on facebook)

Our goal is to change the perception and views of society as a whole to understand Domestic Violence does not limit itself to physical abuse. We ask women to donate new or gently handled purses.  Each is then filled with 10 items of necessity, creating a functional purse.  Our bags are gifted locally and across the state to domestic-abuse-transitional housing and teen empowerment programs.

Kids on the Go    www.kidsonthegocamp.com

We are an organization that provides special needs children with much-needed therapy during the summer months to families who would otherwise not be able to afford these services. The mission of Kids on the Go is to address IEP (Individual Education Plan) goals of children with special needs that were established at the end of the school year and to maintain their current skills during the summer.

 Kids Without Cancer   www.kidswithoutcancer.org

Since 1981, our mission has been to eradicate childhood cancer by funding pediatric cancer research being done collaboratively by Children’s Hospital of Michigan, the Karmanos Cancer Institute and/or Wayne State University. In our 32 years, we have raised nearly four million dollars toward our goal.

 Optimists Club of St. Clair Shores    (see them on facebook)

We are an organization that Brings Out the Best in Kids in your community!  The Optimist Club of St Clair Shores awarded $16,000 in scholarships to students throughout our city who have risen above the odds and graduated with plans to pursue their education at a college, university or trade school.

 The Lake House    www.milakehouse.org

We invites anyone who joins to benefit from our support groups, health and wellness programs, stress management activities, and social events that can enrich lives and inspire those touched by cancer to live well in spite of this disease. It’s a welcoming place to drop by to connect with folks who can accept and understand what you are going through. It’s also a place to smile, laugh, and make new friends.

Soroptimist International of Grosse Pointe (SIGP)    www.grossepointesoroptimist.org

We are an international, volunteer organization for women who work to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment in local communities and throughout the world.

COME HELP CIRCARE GIVE MONEY AWAY!!!

 

 

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Votes are in. Now it’s time to shop!

Wow!  Thank you so very very much to all who voted last week, telling us which local charities and community groups you would like to support through Circare’s Art for People, People for Art Community Giving Spree, which is coming up October 7-12, 2013.

We counted 853Votes!!!

Here are your favorite local charities:

  • 4 Paws 1 Heart
  • The Fowler Center for Outdoor Learning
  • Handbags of Hope
  • Kids on the Go
  • Kids Without Cancer
  • Optimists of St Clair Shores
  • The Lake House
  • Soroptimists Intl. of Grosse Pointe

Now when you come shop at Circare between October 7-12, not only will you save 10% off your total purchase, you will also be able to choose any 1 of these great organizations and Circare will donate another 10% of your purchase value to them in your name!  I can’t tell you how excited I am about this event.  It has been in my head for a long time and it is finally all coming together!

There will be other fun things going on that week, too.   There will be a daily 50/50 raffle, with half the proceeds each day going to the winner and half to the charity of their choice.  And as our heartfelt thank you to those who support the event, we will be giving a small free gift to the first 25 people each day who make a purchase of $20 more.

I’ve chosen to host our Community Giving Spree the week of October 7-12 in part because that is also American Craft Week, a celebration of another type of community that’s very dear to my heart.  We will be featuring some of the wonderful American Craftspeople Circare represents on our facebook page through the week as well as in the store.  The talent and imagination of these individuals is awesome and the strength and dedication required to live their dreams, making a living through sharing their art and vision with us, inspires me.   I hope it helps to inspire us all.

So how many great reasons are there to visit Circare  October 7th-12th?  You can save a little.  You can give a little.  You can shop local.  Buy American.  Support the dream of a talented craftsman.  Own- and give- a one-of-a-kind treasure.  And you can absolutely feel great about all of the above!!!

See you there!

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It’s Time to VOTE!

Which local charity do YOU want Circare to give money to?

Below is a list of 12 incredibly worthwhile causes.  8 of them will be a part of Circare’s 1st annual “Art for People, People for Art” Community Giving Spree and receive a portion of an entire week’s sales from Circare- October 7-12, 2013.

But which 8?

Check them out, then go to the “Voting Form”  and vote for your favorite!

(You can fine the voting form under “Recent Posts” on the sidebar to the right or all the way at the bottom of this post)

Here they are:

4 Paws 1 Heart

4 Paws 1 Heart’s mission is to reduce the number of homeless cats and dogs by paying for needed medical treatment and assisting with the permanent placement of these animals through our partnerships with local rescues. Whether the animal comes in through an emergency hospital or through a rescue, we will work together to meet the medical needs of that animal.

 Fowler Center for Outdoor Learning

We have been providing year-round camping experiences for children and adults with developmental disabilities and special needs since 1957. This includes individuals with mental and physical challenges, autism, traumatic brain injuries, and sensory and communication challenges. We focus on the ability of our campers to participate in outdoor learning experiences, evaluating their physical, mental and psychological abilities and removing barriers where possible.

Friends of Vision 

(The volunteer arm of The Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology, A Division of the Henry Ford Department of Ophthalmology) Our mission is to assist the visually impaired in maintaining their independence and dignity through education, support and socialization so that they may live a satisfying and productive life in a sighted world.

Handbags of Hope

Our goal is to change the perception and views of society as a whole to understand Domestic Violence does not limit itself to physical abuse. We ask women to donate new or gently handled purses.  Each is then filled with 10 items of necessity, creating a functional purse.  Our bags are gifted locally and across the state to domestic-abuse-transitional housing and teen empowerment programs.

Kids on the Go

We are an organization that provides special needs children with much-needed therapy during the summer months to families who would otherwise not be able to afford these services. The mission of Kids on the Go is to address IEP (Individual Education Plan) goals of children with special needs that were established at the end of the school year and to maintain their current skills during the summer.

 Kids Without Cancer

Since 1981, our mission has been to eradicate childhood cancer by funding pediatric cancer research being done collaboratively by Children’s Hospital of Michigan, the Karmanos Cancer Institute and/or Wayne State University. In our 32 years, we have raised nearly four million dollars toward our goal.

Macomb County Children’s Hands On Museum

In 2010, a group of business leaders formed an organizing committee for the purpose of creating a children’s museum in Macomb County. The committee is looking primarily at downtown Mount Clemens as a central location to educate our children, attract and retain an educated workforce, and promote travel and tourism. Organizers of the Macomb Children’s Hands-On Museum are now moving their focus to our “Corner Stone” campaign as we work to raise the necessary funds to acquire and renovate a building in Downtown Mount Clemens.

 Miss St. Clair Shores Scholarship Program

As the longest consecutive running local Miss America preliminary in the state of Michigan, the Miss St. Clair Shores Scholarship Program provides scholarships to young women in the city of St. Clair Shores and Macomb County.  Annually, the program awards thousands in scholarships and prizes.  The scholarship program celebrated its 59th anniversary this year.

 Optimists Club of St. Clair Shores

We are an organization that Brings Out the Best in Kids in your community!  The Optimist Club of St Clair Shores awarded $16,000 in scholarships to students throughout our city who have risen above the odds and graduated with plans to pursue their education at a college, university or trade school.

 The Lake House

We invites anyone who joins to benefit from our support groups, health and wellness programs, stress management activities, and social events that can enrich lives and inspire those touched by cancer to live well in spite of this disease. It’s a welcoming place to drop by to connect with folks who can accept and understand what you are going through. It’s also a place to smile, laugh, and make new friends.

 The Tree of Hope Foundation

We are an organization founded in 2005 to promote research, education, and awareness of postpartum-related mood disorders. We offer five weekly postpartum depression support groups — St. Clair Shores, Sterling Heights, Troy, West Bloomfield, and Commerce Township.

Soroptimist International of Grosse Pointe (SIGP)

We are an international, volunteer organization for women who work to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment in local communities and throughout the world.

 

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Art for People, People for Art

artforpeople_logo_FINAL-01It’s ART about People!
A Community Giving Spree in honor of American Craft Week

What does American Craft have to do with charitable giving? Both are all about people, community and connections.

When we buy and display a piece of American craft in our home or give it as a gift, in some way we like to think of the person who created it. The imagination it took to envision it, the talent to bring it to life, the passion and drive to make a living doing what they love. We feel a connection to that (largely unseen and unknown) craftsperson or artist and we enjoy having that piece, which is very much a part of them, in our lives.

It’s the same way when we give to a charity or community group. We like to know that we are helping individuals that we have some connection to, even if only in a small way.

We at Circare want to celebrate both of our communities: the American artists and craftspeople whose work we represent and the people (and pets) in our neighborhoods who benefit from the assistance of local organizations.

This is how we’re doing it– and how you can help us!

We want to support the groups and organizations you care about, so we need you to tell us. Below is a list of 12 local charitable or philanthropic organizations. Next week (Sept 16-21) we will be asking you to “vote” for your favorite. You will be able to do so 3 ways: on our website, our facebook page or in-store. Watch for an e-mail from us Monday morning. It will contain links to both a special blog here on our website and to a photo gallery of organization logos on our facebook page. You will be able to vote either place by following very simple instructions or, of course, you can come in to Circare and fill out an old-fashioned paper ballot. Please, only one vote per person, though we sincerely hope you will share this information with your friends and family– and get them to vote, too.

On Sept 26th we will publish a final list of organizations that will be a part of Circare’s 1st annual “Art for People, People for Art” Community Giving Spree. Then the fun starts.

The week of October 7-12 is American Craft Week. All week long Circare will be spotlighting our large selection of handmade-in-America products and artists. We want you to come in and celebrate this wonderful week with us. You will SAVE 10% on every purchase you make during that week! Yes, that’s off everything in the store, no exceptions! But even more exciting, you will be able to designate a local charity or community group of your choice from our final list and Circare will GIVE them 10% of your total purchase value in your name!
What could be better? You shop wonderful handmade products. You Save 10%. You Give 10%.

It is all about community. About connections. It’s Art about People!

Watch your e-mail inbox and CAST YOUR VOTE next week to determine which of these awesome local groups will benefit from Circare’s 1st annual “Art for People, People for Art” Community Giving Spree:

4 Paws, 1 Heart
Fowler Center for Outdoor Learning
Friends of Vision
Handbags of Hope
Kids on the Go
Kids without Cancer
Macomb County Children’s Hands-On Museum
Miss St Clair Shores Scholarship Program
Soroptimists International of Grosse Pointe
The Lake House
The St Clair Shores Optimists Club
Tree of Hope Foundation

Can’t decide? In the coming days we will be sharing lots of information about these great organizations and the countless ways they make a difference in people’s lives!

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Did I Tell You?

“On a warm summer evening, a group of friends spoke of their children who were about to leave home for college. The friends, all mothers, wondered aloud…what did we teach them, what did we tell them, did we tell them the things they will need to know?

And so were planted the seeds that would become Did I Tell You?”

Did I tell you? by Elizabeth Knapp

Several years ago a customer told me about a touching, meaning-filled set of books that belonged at Circare.  On the strength of her recommendation, I ordered a dozen each for sons and daughters, sight unseen.  When they arrived, I sat down at my desk and read through one.  Before I stood up, I had called and ordered more– I knew that these were books to bring tears and smiles, that would charm and become cherished remembrances.   Yes, they speak of things that we hope we have told and taught our young people, but to have them all in one small booklet, so simply and eloquently expressed– is priceless.

Especially at this time of year, I call your attention to them.  If you have a child graduating, you owe yourself the chance to discover Elizabeth Knapps words of wisdom.  Just be prepared to shed a few tears over them– it happens.

PS:  Ms Knapp also wrote “Did I Thank You?” which goes the other way, from child to parent, ackowledging and expressing appreciation for life lessons taught and their inestimable value.  And Father’s Day is only days away. Read More »

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25 Years of Memories

It’s not possible.  Except it is.  Circare turns 25 years old later this year.

Flashback to 1987–  I remember weeks driving all over metro Detroit looking at locations.  And terror as I left my new landlord’s office having signed a 3 year lease (“What have I gotten myself into?!).   I remember tearing off wall coverings and climbing ladders with paint cans and my Dad building homemade display fixtures– I still have some of them (though not my original wrap counter that was actually an old door from the basement, complete with the hole for the doorknob).  Very vividly I remember my first buying trip– to the New York International Gift Fair (was I green!)– and how my feet throbbed and my heard spun.

Looking back today, at all that and more, my overwhelming emotion is…   thankfulness.

I am thankful for all the customers who came in,  come back and have become friends.

For the ladies of Circare, past and present, who give of themselves and, by doing so, give shape and life to this place we all share.

For all my friends and family–Mom & Dad, are you listening?– who held my hand then and put up with my Circare stories today.

And for all the artists, craftsmen and designers who share their talents and imaginations with us all, enriching our lives.

For days of exhaustion, moments of laughter and years of success…

THANK YOU!

NOW I WANT YOUR MEMORIES!

Do you have a Circare story?  Funny or touching, I’m greedy and want them all!  Could you take a photo of a favorite Circare treasure?  PLEASE SHARE THEM!

Over the coming months I will be creating a “memory wall” in the back hallway and it won’t be complete without your help.  So I am asking this as a favor (a birthday gift to Circare if you will).  Please, write them down and bring them in, post them on Circare’s Facebook page or e-mail them to me.  Just remember to include your name and phone number because…

To make it fun, every story and photo you give me will get you a chance to WIN Circare Gift Certificates!  And, Yes, each new story or photo will get you another chance (we really want to fill that wall, can you tell?).  We will give away one $25 gift certificate each month from May through September and a Grand Prize of a $100 Gift Certificate at our Blow-Out Birthday Bash in October!

 

 

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Our brown paper bags are Green. And Made in the USA.

Circare has switched over to brown paper shopping bags. Why? Because these new bags are made in the US from 100% recycled materials.

Our plastic bags are also made in the US and sourced from either domestic natural gas and/or recycled plastics collected in the US.

Paper or Plastic?

Our customers frequently ask us which is better for the environment. The environmental impact of either is small and can be reduced even further if they are later reused or recycled. The thing to watch for is where and how they are made.
Paper bags, of course, are made from trees. In North America, companies grow trees specifically for paper and construction products. These companies do not “slash and burn” as they often do elsewhere in the world, but instead practice sustainable forestry; not only because of the environment, but because it is a sustainable economic model. Pine trees grow quickly and are harvested from managed forests.
Plastic bags which are produced in the US are made from domestic natural gas, not foreign oil. Before natural gas can be used as a fuel, waste products must be removed. One key by-product is known as “Ethane”. The “Ethane” is converted into polyethylene which is then made into many products including plastic bags.
US plastic bags are made from a by-product of processing natural gas. Most foreign resins are still made from Middle-Eastern oil, including those “eco-friendly” reusable bags.
Remember seeing pictures of oil wells in Iraq and Saudi Arabia with those plumes of flame on top? That is the gas they have been burning off for years. Ever see one of those plumes on a US well?
Our infrastructure allows for the collection and processing of natural gas into plastic resin and other products such as fertilizers, while the infrastructure in Asia and the Middle East doesn’t (although they are working on it in Saudi Arabia). Even when the Saudis do make polyethylene available, it comes back to a dependence on foreign trade and not on domestic production.
Bottom line…Buy paper and plastics made in North America.
Why does all this matter?
We live here, too.

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“Vintage” Cookies???

I knew all about vintage clothing and jewelry and heard people describe certain wines as being “an especially fine vintage”, but cookies?

Yet that’s how Salem Baking Company describes its wonderful products. They began as a local retail bakery (Dewey’s Bakery) in Winston-Salem, NC way back in 1930, then began selling their cookies (as Salem Baking Co.) nationally in 1992. But the recipes for their premier cookies are much older— actually originating from the Moravian settlement of Salem that was established in 1766!

Of course, though the recipes are practically ancient, you’ll love the wonderful freshness of Salem Baking Co.’s Moravian Cookies—I sure do. They’re thin and light and crisp with just sparkling flavors like Ginger Spice, Cranberry Orange, Key Lime and Meyer Lemon.

They’re still made in Winston-Salem, NC in the best homemade traditions, using the finest all natural ingredients. That’s important. More important, however, is how great they taste—a perfect treat when you’re just curled up with a good book and a cup of tea or arranged elegantly on a ‘vintage’ plate when your ‘lady friends’ come for tea (somehow they just make me think of tea, though I’m sure they’d be equally tasty with coffee, or with anything at all). They even come packaged in these cute tubes that make great gifts.

Anyway, Moravian Cookies are now available @ Circare and you really need to give them a try—your mouth will thank you, I promise!

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