Sunday, December 2, 2007

Holiday Shopping-- Ho ho ho in the Hometown!

Yesterday, Lou dumped a fairly substantial chunk of change into the local economy in an effort to put her Christmas shopping to bed. (Note: "substantial chunk of change" in Lou-speak just barely tips into three digits, so no one's going to be giving her awards for local altruism.)

First stop: The Mellwood Center's Good Folk Fest. It wasn't til I walked in the door that I realized I'd gone to the GFF last year. I'm a big fan of folk art-- and an occasional folk-artist wannabe (my trip ended with a trip to Artist & Craftsman Supply to refresh my supply of brushes and paint)-- but the problem with folk-art-as-gifts is that folk art is so incredibly subjective. What's cool to me (for example, a seemingly finger-painted and incredibly timely painting of Evel Kneivel jumping a tank of sharks) may not be the taste of my Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn lovinng cousin. That being said, there's a great deal of satisfaction to be had in buying at the GFF. I bought a lovely painted wooden box for a whopping $20, and from the reaction of the artist, you would have thought I was dropping $2000. I just wanted to hug her.

Stop two: I always get turned around leaving the Mellwood, and this time I found myself driving up Brownsboro Road, right past Barbara Lee's Kitchen-- a restaurant that my students have been imploring me to visit for the past few months (somehow it came up that I love diners). And bless their cholesterol-clogged little hearts, but they sure did deliver for me. Barbara Lee's, located at 2410 Brownsboro Road, is open 24 hrs and features just about every diner-staple imaginable. And some unimaginable dishes too. I had a BLT & fried egg sandwich with hashbrowns, and I am a wee bit surprised that I am still alive to type this. But man, it was yummy and cheap-- my whole bill came to less than $7 (they take cash only). Barbara Lee's is a little dark and creepy, and certainly rough around the edges, but what can you expect from a place that has at least five sandwiches on the menu that cost under $4 including fries or hashbrowns? Dark and creepy, yes. Unwelcoming? No. After an elderly couple left five minutes after I got there, I was alone in the joint and the sweet woman behind the counter chatted UK Basketball with me (which I know nothing about and I briefly incurred her wrath when I brought up Tubby Smith. I managed to distract her by talking about the weather.)

Fortfied by my meal-- my friend behind the counter eagle-eyed me until I finished every bite, she looked like she might be the kind to chastise me for not joining the "clean plate club"-- I hopped in the ol' jalopy and decided to go wherever the road would take me. It's been a blue eon since I drove around town for the sake of just driving. And eventually the road lead to the east side of Downtown. That morning I'd read in the newspaper something about the store Scout-- I can't remember what, but I've always liked their logo (I can be such a whore for marketing)-- so I decided to try to hunt it down.

But on the first pass down Market Street, I missed it (or I thought I did-- I actually didn't go far enough), but ended up stopping at Red Tree, which, for some reason, I'd always thought was a restaurant. When it comes to Christmas shopping locally, I always end up spending my hard-earned cash at places with serious charm-- a little flair goes a long way toward putting me in the holiday spirit. Red Tree has charm in spades. Jam-packed with eclectic gifts and furniture, the two-story shop features reasonable-prices in a beautiful and festive atmosphere. I picked up three gifts for three of my hardest-to-shop for relatives for under $70. And the sweet people at Red Tree even wrapped them for me (unfortunately, I realized when I got home that I would probably have to un-wrap them for plane travel-- damned TSA folks).

I eventually did find Scout, which was also oozing with charm and quirk. Unfortunately, try as I might, I couldn't find a damned thing there that I could afford. I'll go back, for sure, but as with some of my favorite shops on Bardstown, I think Scout will remain a browse-only option in the future.

Speaking of Bardstown-- last night was Bardstown Road Aglow! the annual dusk-10pm holiday open house. And this year's Aglow was twice as packed as last year's. I actually had to skip a few shops because of the crowd. These open houses are always a blast, usually featuring free food and wine and sometimes discounts. (Although this year seemed to feature less wine and fewer discounts than last year-- Kudos to Spree who offered hot cocoa with peppermint schnaps; that really warmed the cockles). Why Louisville? and the Book & Music Exchange saw a little of my holiday green, but for the most part I just walked, enjoyed the sights, and browsed. (Note to self: don't wear those high-heeled boots next year, you're still recovering today!)

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