Reading is essential. I am buying Vashti Harrison's book, Little Leaders, for my nieces and my bookshelf. Like last year, I attended the Chicago Toy & Game Fair at Navy Pier. I took my ten-year-old nephew and his best friend to get feedback from the target audience. Their favorites were: PlayMonster's Ultra Dash and Merge virtual reality Cube. Ultra Dash gets kids and adults physically active competing for the best time. The beauty of Merge’s Cube is that it can work without googles using your cell phone. My favorite is Mukikim's Rock & Roll It! piano and drum. My nieces and nephews play instruments. The problem is noise control and space. A set of drums and a piano can take up valuable living space. The solution is Rock & Roll It! portable piano and drum kit with headphones.
I am color shy in my clothing, so I introduce color through accessories - jewelry, handbags, and shoes. I love the classic elegance of a beautiful watch. I have been eyeing a Jord wood watch. Jewelry is a girl's best friend. For those that are eco-earth conscious and want a beautiful décolletage, Mujus is sublime. My want is the Locura necklace, which I have nicknamed the "goddess." My spring trip to Italy introduced me to some Italian brands with the supplest leather ever - Coccinelle and Boratto Milano. Coccinelle is based out of Parma and their stores are magnificently decorated and smell of fresh leather. I adore the Coccinelle saffiano wallet and leather backpacks. The designs are stylish, elegant, practical, and chic. Boratto Milano is based in Milan and started out as a luxury men's line, but added a women's collection. Boratto Milano's alligator leather will make you rethink buying a Birkin bag. It is an expensive splurge, but the craftsmanship is superb and the colors - bellissimo. I am lusting after the purple clutch and the green overnight bag. This holiday I am thankful for Nubian Skin and Rihanna's Fenty Beauty for celebrating all shades of beauty. Nubian Skin's bedazzled lingerie is bringing sexy back! Santa baby just slip some Nubian Skin and Fenty Beauty in the stocking for me!
There is nothing more attractive than a well-dressed man. A nice tie, watch, polished shoes, and messenger bag adds panache. For the holidays, upgrade your style. I love the Jord wood watch with the open heart mechanical movement. It reminds me of the astronomical clock in Prague's Old Town Square. Boratto Milano's alligator leather belts, brief case, messenger bags, iPad covers, and business card holders are masculine sophistication. Treat yourself to a bespoke suit or jacket. Stop by Harlem Haberdashery and get a custom Billionaire New York smoking jacket.
Travel and art are gifts that keep giving. We are more alike than different. Traveling with an open heart allows children and adults to broaden their scope. As artist Raub Welch said, "Art is an equity investment...an appreciating asset. Buy original works and buy what you love." If you want to give a timeless piece that appreciates over time, give the gift of art. For the young ones, introduce them to Hebru Brantley.
This year many programs for children, the elderly, and disabled have lost government funding like Meals on Wheels. If you’d “like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,” donate to a charity. My passion projects center around education equity, empowering women, and inner-city youth. That is why I like Eli’s Cheesecake Company. Not only do they train and hire people with special needs, they also have a food entrepreneurship training program for Chicago high school students. I was saddened when they informed me that a program they support, Sunshine Activity Center – a center for the disabled and people with special needs, had state funds cut and will likely disband. Some people pay lunch fees so school children do not go hungry. Become Santa Claus for a charity by donating.
To be a creative is to be a starving artist. Until you make it, there is the continual struggle of working two or more jobs to succeed at your craft. If you know artists, painters, photographers, and musicians, gift them with supplies. Paint, brushes, camera equipment, and studio time are awesome gifts. As a writer, my biggest want beside getting my books published is a room of my own. Virginia Woolf's book is the cry of my heart. I have no space to myself to simply devote to writing. What I would give for just a week alone in a hotel or retreat just to write uninterrupted! In the words of Liza Doolittle, "wouldn't it be lovely?" Speaking of supporting creatives, the fabulous painter/interior designer, Raub Welch, has been working on his Afro-Opulence coffee table book a la Assouline. Can someone give this man a grant to finish the work?
This originally appeared on Ronda’s blog, Ronda-isms.