Fa la la la la!

May this festive,  xmas-light-strewn time of year bring you peace rather than stress,  comfort rather than agitation and love rather than seasonal affective disorder! HA!

I am here to help!  I LOVE this time of year because I get to share a sampling of some of the cool,  crafty,  artsy,  handmade,  muse-inspired THINGS that people that I know are making!  As our to-do lists fill up and our pockets empty out,  we probably have a few people on our gift lists that we just don’t know WHAT to get.  I’ve compiled a list of local & indie gifts that I love – most of which you can order online and have shipped to your house or directly to your loved ones,  saving time & hopefully stress.  These are all thoughtfully researched by yours truly.

This year I reached out to my facebook community for THEIR suggestions.  The response was overwhelmingly awesome!  I loved so many of the things that people suggested so it was REALLY TOUGH picking stuff! The things that I own and use personally will be highlighted in GREEN – a lot of these handiworks are new to me and I’m stoked to check them out for myself as well!

There is a TON of info here so get a coffee and hang with me.  Some of these things are time sensitive local events so get out the door this weekend,  avoid the mall-crazies and check out some fun bazaars and markets.

Please also check out last year’s guide because all of that stuff still rocks!


Pop Up Stores:

Six “pop up” stores are coming to Duluth – a fabulous idea – to fill the vacant storefronts downtown with hard working artists and merchants.  Ryan Tischer Photography (5 W. Superior St) will have lots of gorgeous nature photos,  Whimsy is a children’s clothing boutique + gift & decor (136 W. First St),  Pichardo is a “trendy, vintage & contemporary clothing” boutique that my friend Suzanne is running (I used to teach yoga w/ her at Evolve!) and this boutique used to be housed in big blue bus.  RAD! (207 W. Superior St., Holiday Center skywalk).  Here’s an article about the shops in the Duluth News Tribune.

Biiboon Bimaadizimin (Winter Good Life) Market 

Nov 27th & 28th – 10 am to 5 pm- AICHO 202 W 2nd St. Duluth, MN.  This is an annual arts and crafts market featuring Native and local artists hosted by the American Indian Community Housing Organization.  The vendors look amazing – handcrafted bags & wallets,  original artwork and prints,  jewelry,  bead work,  clothing.  THIS BEADED DEER SCULPTURE!  Facebook event is here.

For sale at Biiboon Bimaadizimin Native & local crafter market 11/27 & 11/28 - hosted by the American Indian Community Housing Organization

For sale at Biiboon Bimaadizimin Native & local crafter market 11/27 & 11/28 – hosted by the American Indian Community Housing Organization. The photo is from their facebook event page – inquired who the artist is – waiting for response and will update ASAP!

Emerson Holiday Bazaar

Saturday, December 12th – 10 am to 4 pm – Emerson Tenants Cooperative – 1030 W 3rd Street – Duluth, MN

Emerson Tenants Cooperative is a collectively-owned converted school full of artists,  musicians and random, wonderful creative types.  Every year they host a Holiday Bazaar,  previously called the Bizarre Bazaar – with local art,  crafts,  live music, screen printed clothes,  hand made gifts and treats in the school commons area.  I lived here for a summer and think so fondly of that time.  Worth going simply to check out the space AND of course load up on some of the most unique gifts you’ll find anywhere on the planet.

Awesome poster by Sarah Heimer - click for the facebook event!

Awesome poster by Sarah Heimer – click for the facebook event!


I’m not going to pick out any individual artists because let’s face it,  I’m a musician and I’m biased!  And also extremely enmeshed in the scene and don’t want to look like I’m “picking favorites.”  But I want to point you to some awesome stuff …

CD Baby

I can rave about CD Baby,  the world’s largest indie music distributor –  all the day long.  I’ve been distributing my albums with them since the early 2000’s.  For the music fan,  it is a mecca.  You can search for genres of music you love or even musicians you love and have reels and reels of artists laid before you to sample that sound “similar.”  Or even type in a mood and find artists that fit your mood.  This was pre-pandora/spotify playlists and pretty revolutionary.  Just got this note from them: “From November 30th (Cyber Monday) through December 4th, standard domestic and international shipping for all CD and vinyl sales on CDBaby.com will be just 1¢.”  Go hog wild – SHIPPING IS A PENNY!  Shop here: www.cdbaby.com

Electric Fetus 

The coolest music store around.  Right up there with San Francisco’s Amoeba,  I think.  Or Seaside Florida’s Central Square.  Or Seattle’s Easy Street (RIP).  Don’t let the record store go the way of the dinosaur!  Shop online or go in person in Duluth & Minneapolis. Gifts,  vinyl,  clothing,  MUSIC.  You can see all the local releases with their green album dividers w/ the MN state emblem. www.electricfetus.com/

Local music in green!

Local music in green!

Duluth Homegrown Music Festival Pre-sale Tickets!

I can’t tell you how happy I am to see this.  Our local music & art festival is offering pre-sale tickets AND a limited edition shirt by artist Tom Moriarty.  YES!  Give your sweetie a date for the first week of May 2016.  150+ local bands,  music video screenings,  art shows, poetry,  shenanigans,  memories. Order yours here: http://www.duluthhomegrown.org/t-shirt-and-ticket-pre-sale-now-open/ 

Chaperone Records

One of Duluth’s fancy indie record labels,  run by my friend Bob Monahan,  features many darling acts that I’m not going to name because I don’t want to leave anyone out!  Give a look here: http://chaperonerecords.com/


This year I have supported two visual artists – one a new discovery and one an old friend.  I am a bit of a collector,  even if the pieces cost the same amount as one month’s rent!  😉 Visual art gives and gives and can transform your mood just by starting at it …

Amy Abts 

Amy is an old friend of mine from the early 2000’s in Duluth.  An artist,  musician,  all around incredible human being.  Her art is kinda pointillistic, dark,  beautiful.  I fell head over heels in love with her piece Skull Head which she licensed to me for the cover of Holy Bones.  She also licensed to me ANOTHER work which I will share in a special announcement down below … Click on the image to head over to her website and purchase her fine art prints – STEALS at $20.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 7.46.05 AM

“Skull Head” by Amy Abts – licensed for my album cover! Click to head to her website!

Jane Ryder

I found Jane when I was going for a run at Silverwood Park in St. Anthony Village, MN and went in the community center to use the facilities.  Her work was on display,  showcasing effigy mounds – sacred burial grounds which I recently became obsessed with.  I couldn’t stop staring and HAD to buy a print of Between the Mammoth Tusks (shown below).  This Iowa artist has an eye for detail and SMASHING, BRILLIANT colorscapes.  Head over here to buy a piece! www.janeryder.com

"Between the Mammoth Tusks" by Jane Ryder

“Between the Mammoth Tusks” by Jane Ryder


Strategic music marketing sessions w/ Solveig Whittle

For the indie musician in your family,  why don’t you schedule a Skype session or Google Hangout with Seattle-based social media & marketing guru Solveig Whittle? I’ve had multiple meetings with Solveig online and she has totally helped me get my head on straight as far as strategizing my music career.  Things like crowd-funding,  social media,  content strategy and dialing your “story” will keep giving all year long.  I am so grateful for Solveig’s wisdom! Read her articles and book a session here: www.shadesofsolveig.com

Twitter Class w/ Madalyn Sklar

Another great tool if you have any creative entrepreneurs on your gift list.  Twitter can be mystifying – let Madalyn Sklar break it down for you in her online course and help your loved one boost their twitter presence with this course.  I was one of Madalyn’s “case studies” and my Twitter following went from 1000 to almost 5000 in less than a year with her help.  THANKS MADALYN!  Register here: www.madalynsklar.com/twittersmarter/

Learn to Sew from Home

Perfect for the cold winter months- maybe you have a friend who really wants to learn how to make her own clothes or make stuffed animals for her kiddo.  What better thing to learn this winter! My friend Julie Bane highly recommends her aunt’s e-course for learning to sew.  15 instructional,  go at your own pace videos,  pdfs of sewing patterns and more.  Only $45!!! Seriously!  Register here: http://www.seamssewcool.com/learn-to-sew-from-home/


Sak Photography Calendar w/ photography by Amy Peterson

I serendipitously met Amy Peterson at her art opening for “We’re Everywhere” during Duluth Pride.  We hit if off famously and traded a calendar for some music.  The calendar with her photos is BEAUTIFUL.  You will love the luscious nature pics jumping out of the paper at you.  Buy here: http://www.sakphotography1921.com/shop/2016-calendar

House of Howes

“Sarah Agaton Howes is an Anishinaabe artist, teacher and community organizer from Fond du Lac Reservation in Minnesota.”  GORGEOUS beadwork,  purses,  cell phone covers,  earrings,  accessories.  Recommended by my friend Erin – GREAT pick – gorgeous stuff! You won’t regret checking out her shop’s gallery: http://houseofhowes.com/collections/all

Ladyscissors Panties

I can’t wait to get a pair of these!  I love this “Lo-fi garage rock” group from Madison, WI with my old pal Stephanie Rearick and new pals Brent, Anne & Lorrie.  Their new album “Glitterbox” makes a perfect design for panties,  yes??? Buy yours here: http://uvulittle.com/catalog/ladyscissors/glitterbox-panties

Ladyscissors Glitterbox panties!  Click to order!

Ladyscissors Glitterbox panties! Click to order!

Birchaus Market

My friend Natalie of Natalie Salminen Fine Art (who I featured last year) recommended this spot: Birchaus Market curates goods from local artisans (Natalie Salminen Fine Art + Glørud Design!) among others. Her current design work highlights Duluth/MN. Kristen Hale has been doing an amazing job of reaching out to the community and has participated in the Lincoln Park Craft District pop-ups, the Woodland Block Party, etc. You should include her! www.birchausmarket.com xo.”  Hope you don’t mind that I quoted you,  Nat!  Great recommendation. Loving the Duluth hipster apparel!


Rustic Beauty Signs

Do you need a custom,  rustic sign for your kitchen?  Or your yoga room?  Or your cabin?  Freshly new to the MN scene,  get in touch with Tim from Rustic Beauty to design your own or shop his current stock: https://www.etsy.com/shop/RusticBeautyDuluth

Decorative Water Towers by Greg Pavlik 

My cousin in law Greg is a talented welder and he makes decorative landscape water towers out of non-toxic materials.  For the friend of yours who needs something NO ONE ELSE will have!  (until they blow up in popularity!!!) Greg says “An old water tower in Osseo, MN inspires me. Many have tried to get it torn down but it is a landmark. It still stands” Here is some info on that inspiring water tower: http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2015/01/23/osseo-bands-together-to-save-100-year-old-water-tower/ Please contact Greg via his facebook profile to order yours & discuss design: https://www.facebook.com/greg.pavlik.75

Greg's custom water tower - somewhat obscured by the chair behind it but you get the idea!

Greg’s custom water tower – somewhat obscured by the chair behind it but you get the idea!


Sparkle Garden

Somehow I connected with this Detroit-based gal on her instagram and have been meaning to buy her jewelry ever since.  Sterling,  custom,  “handmade hoops,  hammered discs,  stamped recycled copper and eco-friendly sterling items.” Check out her shop here: www.etsy.com/shop/sparklegarden


I covet these bright,  bold pieces by silvercocoon. I LOVE her description of her creative process:

“We work out of a basement studio in our 1953 architect designed rambler in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  With 9ft ceilings, a wood-burning fireplace, bathroom, sauna and nearly 1000 sqft designated for office and workshop, our basement is unlike any basement you might imagine! We flip a coin to see who gets to work in the Silvercocoon – our 1966 Airstream that is parked in our backyard. I design all of my jewelry components in AutoCAD, which are then laser cut out of wood or acrylic by a local partner Back in my studio, I then finish parts and hand assemble the jewelry using sterling silver components and incorporating leather and wool.”

An Airstream studio???!!!! How fun! Her work is for sale locally at Adeline’s (1132 E 9th Street Duluth) and online here: http://silvercocoon.com/

Flame and Stone

My friend Shaunna Heckmann recommended this jewelry maker and I am drooling over these chunky silver,  precious stone,  hand hewn pieces.  Give a gander: www.flameandstone.com/shop/

47 Degrees

My pal Michelle Ronning makes jewelry out of stones,  metal and reclaimed materials,  mostly treasures from our beautiful Lake Superior.  I LOVED this video of her process – see below.  Buy some lovelies from Michelle here: https://squareup.com/market/47-degrees


Missouri Herbs

Recommended by Rebekah Dawn of Mulberry Mudd (featured last year who makes GORGEOUS mugs,  fairies,  neclaces out of clay …) – Rebekah said that Missouri Herbs makes the “best body butter.” Tangerine,  lavender,  juniper, YUM!  Order some here: www.etsy.com/shop/MissouriHerbs

Sweet and Sacred 

I know the creator, Natalia,  since 2003 when we both lived in Providence, RI.  I featured her raw cupcake book last year (Pure Pleasures) and she has since evolved her new venture,  shamanic plant healing.  Her site also features gorgeous,  yummy salves as well as lip balms,  body oils and her new sacred ceremony book.  Beautiful work,  Natalia!  Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/SweetAndSacred

Moonwise Herbs

Also featured last year but I can’t NOT feature my friend Linda Conroy’s Moonwise Herbs!  Friend and mentor,  I got to know Linda at a Seaweed Retreat on Lopez Island (San Juan Islands) in Washington state a number of years ago and have been loving & learning from her and sharing my skills at the conference she founded – Midwest Women’s Herbalist Conference .  I’m IN LOVE with her soaps: lemongrass seaweed,   nettle rosemary,  you name it.  I always stock up on the “odds and ends” bag for variety.  She also has TONS of medicinal tinctures,  herbs, and great classes.  Shop and learn here: http://moonwiseherbs.com/store/index.php?route=common/home

Ronnie Mae Massage

This massage therapist has grace and skill.  Trained in Portland, Oregon with 10+ (15?) years of practice under her belt,  her hands are truly a “vessel of healing.” Deep tissue yumminess, Pre-natal, sports massage and more.  Her website is almost ready to launch (I got to be a body model! YAY!) but in the meantime,  check out her Facebook page or call to set up an appointment: (218)  428 – 3424  …  I’m also biased here,  because she is one of my best friends!!! Love you, girl!

Live this LIfe on Purpose Life Coaching with Paula Williams

Okay,  maybe on second thought giving someone life coaching as a holiday gift might be taken badly BUT maybe for you in the new year???!!! I swear by Paula’s compassionate,  thoughtful,  meditative and MOTIVATING life coaching and have been seeing her on and off for a year.  Unlike therapy where you are delving into deep, hard places and shining light on your dark sides (which,  maybe you should get that for yourself for xmas too!!!),  life coaching is a more short term & focused relationship – many times revolving around career and helping instill the habits that bring us happiness in our daily lives.  Check out Paula’s website and book a session here: http://livethislifeonpurpose.com/


Another fave from last year,  and EVERY DAY actually,  Marcella Kroll is an intuitive healer,  or a psychic if you will!  She is the creator of the Sacred Symbols Wisdom Oracle cards (which I use in some of my meditations and for writing prompts),  has a podcast called Saved by the Spell, and offers intuitive readers in Los Angeles,  New York and the world via Skype or phone.  Your lover and you will bond over your past life connections after a reading with Marcella or you could gift a reading for insight on career,  love,  healing.  Marcella is THE SHIT.  Follow her facebook and instagram for near daily readings from her cards – beautiful texts about the “vibe” of the day.  Book a session here: http://www.marcellakroll.com/

A three card draw from my Sacred Symbols Wisdom Oracle cards by Marcella Kroll

A three card draw from my Sacred Symbols Wisdom Oracle cards by Marcella Kroll


Punk Rawk Labs 

YES I KNOW!  I featured Punk Rawk Labs last year but again,  how could I not????? I LOVE these savory spreads made of cashews or macadamia nuts,  smoked,  rolled in cracked pepper,  filled with fresh herbs.  They has a new flavor coming out this year!  AND a crowd-funding effort to get USDA Organic and GMO FREE certified.  Order their nutmilk cheeses here and dine on them with your fam during the holidaze. www.punkrawklabs.net

Food Coop Membership

The gift that keeps on giving!  Food coops are member-owned stores filled to the brim with organic,  gmo free,  beautiful produce,  bulk grains/nuts/seeds/dried fruit/etc,  beauty products,  pet food,  you name it – a grocery store but COMMUNITY OWNED.  That means,  constantly evolving according to the demand of their owners members and keep running smoothly by a very devoted board of directors.  Member owners receive sometimes weekly,  monthly and annual membership specials.  For my local food coop,  Whole Foods Coop (no relation to Whole Foods Market) it costs  $100 to join but you quickly earn it back with member only discounts & other fun membership benefits.   Learn about joining here: http://wholefoods.coop/ownership/becoming-an-owner/  ALSO you don’t have to be a member to shop there!!! Just feels like you “belong” to a good thing if you are.  Some offer scholarships if you need some help coming up with the membership fee.

To find a coop in your region look here: https://www.ncg.coop/find-co-op


Yamas and Niyamas – Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele

I love this book for self reflection and getting to the true spirit of yoga – beyond getting a yoga butt or putting your leg behind your head,  the first two “limbs” of yoga are the Yamas and Niyamas.  Much food for thought.  http://theyamasandniyamas.com/

Mastering the Art of McTavishing by Karen McTavish

I am not a quilter but I know a few people who are.  The people who are into it are REALLY into it – I bet you know a few!  I know the publishers of this book – On-word Bound Books – a local  Duluth-based publisher (also published the Yamas and Niyamas) and they are SO quality.  This book looks amazing – full color,  two instructional DVDs. Your quilting friends will LOVE you.  Karen just opened a new storefront in Duluth – check it OUT!  Book here and website here: http://mctavishquilting.com/

Martin Atkins  – Welcome to the Music Industry – You’re F***CKED

This book is HILARIOUS.  I met Martin at the CD Baby DIY Musician Conference.  Drummer for Public Image Ltd,  NIN and so much more,  Martin’s keynote speech had me DYING of laughter.  For your sarcastic musician friends trying to make it,  this is a “wake up call” but also a “just do it” kick in the pants.  Buy here.

Shannon Curtis – No Booker No Bouncer No Bartender

I also met Shannon and her husband Jamie at the CD Baby Conference. We were heading to the open stage on the same L train,  and exited in the rain in the dark.  We walked together and then realized that we had actually interacted on an online music networking chat a few months before.  SCORE!  Shannon wrote a great book about how to do a house concert tour.  Also for your performing musician friends (or yourself!).  I read this on the plane to Las Vegas and bookmarked about 20 pages.  Even someone who has toured 40+ states (me) found TONS of nuggets of wisdom.  Thank you,  Shannon! Order here: http://shannoncurtis.net/houseconcerts/book/

I Spy a Bug by David A Latour & Melissa S LaTour w/ Lidia Steiner

Melissa LaTour is like superwoman.  She manages a store,  works for Chaperone Records,  is the volunteer coordinator of Duluth Homegrown Music Festival and is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.  She teamed up with David LaTour & illustrator Lidia Steiner to make their first children’s book loosely based on her & David’s daughter,  my friend Zöe.  About a girl who learns about BUGS with a lesson or two tied in there.  ADORBS!  Order here: http://www.amazon.com/I-Spy-Bug-David-LaTour/dp/0692337954


Safe Haven Shelter & Resource Center for Women & Children

Lots of stress this time of year,  too many domestic violent incidents to name.  Let’s give to those who need a safe space for themselves and their children this time of year.  The shelter is incredible and the resource center downtown provides meals,  classes,  job skills.  Donate here: http://safehavenshelter.org/support/donate/cash/

PAVSA – Program to aid victims of sexual assault

Another (unfortunate) need we have in our community and beyond is support for survivors of sexual assault.  PAVSA offers victim advocacy (court & hospital visits),  24 hour crisis line,  yoga for survivors of trauma and so much more.  Contact here to get involved and send donations: http://www.pavsa.org/contact-us/

Humane Society

“Your generous donation will contribute to seeking a gentler, more compassionate world for people and animals alike.”  AMEN!  Donate: http://www.humanesociety.org/ 


All I want for xmas is for you to be my PATRON! With Patreon!  A patron of the arts is someone who shows their appreciation or support for the arts by donating money to arts organizations OR in this day and age,  directly to the artist. In historical times arts patronage refers to the support that kings, popes and the wealthy have provided to artists such as musicians, painters, and sculptors.  Would you be mine, won’t you be mine,  won’t you be my PATRON??? This is the “soft launch” of my Patreon – a monthly “subscription” to stuff I make.  It sounds crazy,  I KNOW!  $1/$3/$5/$10 month gets you exclusive videos from me,  artworks,  enhanced newsletters,  zines mailed to your house… you’ll come “backstage” as the band tours down to Nashville to record our EP,  you’ll get first dibs on the LIMITED EDITION VINYL EP that Amy Abts licensed her work Antler Lady to be on the record jacket (see below),  you’ll be privvy to any new music I make,  get to watch all the videos I make FIRST,  maybe get postcards or art in the mail … Want in?  Pretty please?  Or give someone else the gift of Bue. 😉 Check out how it works here: https://www.patreon.com/marybue

"Antler Lady" by Amy Abts to be used for my LIMITED EDITION VINYL EP - first available ONLY to my Patreon subscribers before the rest of the world!

“Antler Lady” by Amy Abts to be used for my LIMITED EDITION VINYL EP – first available ONLY to my Patreon subscribers before the rest of the world!

Did I miss someone or something you love???

REPLY IN THE COMMENTS BELOW w/ your suggestions for 2016!  I know I am missing SO SO SO many talented local and non-local folks.  I feel overwhelmed with admiration by all of the creative people in my community and if you aren’t listed here,  PLEASE don’t take offense!!! I got a TON of suggestions via facebook and email and it was a challenge to whittle it down.  This blog took me about 6 hours to write and my mind is sore but my heart is full!

***I also got a few suggestions for very very skilled and talented craftspeople that work with animal products (leather, silk,  foodstuffs).  I have no doubt that these people are INCREDIBLE artists and creators,  but I have a vegan lifestyle and no longer buy products that use animals … Full disclosure: I do own a few fine leather goods (my grandpa made some gorgeous purses and belts,  I have some very quality boots from years ago,  etc). but I no longer buy these things.  This is NOT a judgement – it is my personal choice and lifestyle.  Thank you for understanding!


By just feeling gratitude it changes our brain chemistry & brings feelings of relaxation – read about it here. I thank you for reading this blog!  You are a treasure.  Now go SHOPPING!!!!! Happy new year and BIG LOVE!

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