With the Christmas holiday season in full swing, shopping is now at its peak. The hustle and bustle and gift buying frenzy is once more December's uppermost pastime for both adults and children.
With a positive approach to giving quality gifts, we head into the two busiest shopping weeks of the year.
There's a lot to be said about shopping at malls, but small shops and boutiques offer an intimate shopping experience. The new Bethel Park gallery on Route 88 appropriately known as Simply Divine is nothing short of its name.
Just weeks ago, Upper St. Clair resident Kathy Burch and her daughter Amberly Hensler began welcoming customers. Unusual gifts designed by talented artisans fill the tables and shelves providing not only elegant but whimsical ideas for holiday giving and beyond.
With recycling a major issue in all parts of the world, Simply Divine promotes recycled creations of wonderfully talented men and women in just about any theme. Story cards throughout the store tell of each one's talent and where they live.
Always a hit are one-of-a-kind gifts-- a joy for the giver as well as the receiver. A few hints follow on what to look for in the charming little shop.
- Purses made in Brazil that have made it to Oprah's Top Holiday Picks for 2008. Available in various sizes, each one is made with recycled aluminum pull-tabs and attached with colorful yarn in traditional crocheted techniques.
- Putting to use glass otherwise destined for landfills, artful nightlights are fused with recycled bottle glass.
- Tops as conversation pieces are scrap metal pets and people made from car or bicycle parts, farm or garden tools. A dog made from a piece of the St. Louis arch cable is one example.
- Wooden vases, candleholders and clocks created from American Chestnut split rail fences. This wood was wiped out by a blight in the early 1900s.
- Secret storage book boxes, made from discarded books, are both fun and useful. Hollowed out and reconstructed, they are decorative as well as functional, providing space for small items such as keys or a personal stash of candy.
- Vintage silverware such as knives, forks and spoons have been refashioned into jewelry and letter openers. Each piece includes the pattern name and year produced.
"Once a dream, this shop has become a reality," said Kathy Burch. "Amberly and I are doing our part to help the economy by handling works by U.S. artists as well as those through Fair Trade. We only carry quality items, many made from recycled materials."
Simply Divine is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
One-of-a-kind recyclables include a Fair Trade plate made in Vietnam from magazine pages, cat made from scrap metals, angel made from an oil drum, jewelry designed from a Bombay gin bottle, and trendy purses made with recycled aluminum pull tabs, bottom shelf. The top shelf features an antler made into a candleholder, glass cheese plate made with a melted Skyy vodka bottle, vases and candleholder made from split rail American Chestnut wood more than 100 years old and an environmentally conscious nightlight created with recycled bottle glass. (This is the photo that was used in the paper. Below is an additional photo taken showing other items but was not published.)
One-of-a-kind recyclables include a Fair Trade plate made in Vietnam from magazine pages, cat made from scrap metals, angel made from an oil drum, jewelry designed from a Bombay gin bottle, an antler made into a candleholder and trendy purses made with recycled aluminum pull tabs, bottom shelf. The top shelf features a handbag made from recycled gum wrappers, a secret box made from a recycled book, vases and candleholder made from split rail American Chestnut wood more than 100 years old and an environmentally conscious nightlight created with recycled bottle glass.