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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Welcome to our most artistic and eco-friendly holiday gift guide yet! If I do say so myself, we knocked our own socks off with this one. Even if you have the parent who already HAS everything, and I mean everything, you will find something here. I guarantee it. Happy Shopping!

Hughette’s Natural Soaps in Eau Claire, WI

If a soap smells yummy, has beautiful packaging, or boasts a host of lovely ingredients, I have to have it. It is not a luxury, but a necessity. My name is Finch Caskey. I am a soapaholic who wants the world to be a cleaner place for my effort. Hughette’s is my small soap business, an inspiration from a French goat with an abundance of milk. Hughette’s Natural Soaps:

• Will never leave the skin feeling dry, tight or stripped as most soaps do. Our high quality nourishing emollients benefit any skin type. • Use goat’s milk but offer plenty of vegan options as well, using the best of ingredients without fillers so as to benefit your skin. • Keeps the cost down for customers by using simple labeling and packaging. We put the cost into the ‘luxury ingredients’ to give you quality soaps at an affordable price. Once you try them, they’ll speak for themselves.

The line runs from 3 ounces to 5 ounces per bar with the most expensive no more than a latte and scone.

Handmade Natural Beauty Products in La Crosse, WI

Once you try one of these wonderfully fragrant and moisturizing natural lotion bars, you’ll never want to use ordinary lotion again! Lotion Bars are less messy than standard lotion and are made with the highest quality of skin-nourishing natural ingredients (beeswax, cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, olive oil, and coconut oil). With a variety of fragrances available, not only will you have softer skin by using these moisturizing natural lotion bars, but you’ll smell great too!

The lotion bars come complete with a handy storage container. Rub the lotion bar between your hands and apply anywhere you would use standard lotion, or rub the lotion bar directly on your skin. 1 0z. bar  $5.50; 3 oz. bar  $12.50

Clean Aura in Fond du Lac, WI

Add a little Christmas to your bathroom with cinnamon swirl cleanliness. Just be sure that the kids don’t try to eat it b/c it smells that good. Made with Organic Cocoa butter and cassia oil swirled with organic cocoa powder. Yum yum!  $4.50,

“Why ‘DoneDotDesigns’?”

I create original designs that I then hand-pull screen prints onto a variety of sustainable items including Organic cotton, Canadian hemp, Organic bamboo, and upcycled clothing and recycled paper products.

My operation is a one-woman show, and my studio is on a farm located in the most beautiful “middle of nowhere”. After diligently working on each new design, I print each item in the lovely wide-open space of an Amish-built home, and iron each image to set the ink. I pride myself on quality work and a positive outlook on life.

I’ve been drawing ever since I realized you shouldn’t eat the crayons.

When I was three, my parents decided to put my love of unique artwork to use for family Christmas presents. They bought a pile of sweatshirts and a tub of slick paints and set me on the task of decorating a shirt for each family member.

Mom suggested that I add another butterfly to one and then it would be done … Without a word, I wrapped my pair of chubby little child hands around the slick paint tube and started on a line of dots along the lower corner of the image.

Puzzled, my mom asked what I was working on. I replied, “These are my done dots”.

To this early recognition of knowing when a piece is simply finished, my shop’s name pays homage.

Now, I’m a doodler and a dreamer who has to carry a pen and sketchbook with me everywhere I go. You can also send me a note about some custom work and we’ll frolic through the custom work conversation to get you exactly what you were hoping for.

In the Shadows

In January of 2008,  a L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library flyer described Bill Nolte’s work saying, “This unique exhibit features intricately designed shadow boxes that reflect musings — some whimsical, some wise — on cell phones, reading, leaving your lover and more.”

Forty or so boxes later, to see work that considers even more reflections including among other things, obsessive/compulsive behavior, the war against cliche, revealed mortality, Stephen Hawking’s dreams, regret, remorse, personal failure, elusive muses, myopic perception, dead friends, irreplaceable loss, loneliness, self-important rants, physical and emotional frailty, rampant greed, artistic silliness — and more, ask the bartender at The Joynt at 322 Water Street for the key to the gallery just three buildings east at 312. Neither buildings have names on them. One visitor to the gallery recently left a note saying, “What a beautiful mind! Thanks for sharing.” Another later confided, “Man, I’m glad I don’t have to live in your head.” The overhead lights are on the left as you enter. The torchiere and the table lamp have their own timing devices. When you leave, please turn off the overhead lights, make sure the door is locked, and return the keys to The Joynt.

Wood Ducks by Kazz

If necessity is the mother of invention, good taste may be its father, if you go by a fledgling business created by Jim Kasmarek of Eau Claire.

Kasmarek matches antique wooden golf club drivers with hand-carved wooden bird heads to create one-of-a-kind keepsakes that appeal to golfers and hunters alike. The club forms the body of the bird, and Kasmarek uses basswood, oil stain or acrylic paint, and taxidermy glass eyes to make the heads of 14 different species, including novelties “Packer Quacker and “Bucky Ducky”.

Each bird is a one-of-a-kind decoy replica. Kasmarek’s inspiration to start his business came in 2010 when his father received a similar keepsake as a gift, although his father’s gift was poorly crafted. Kasmarek said that, at the time, he thought “I can do better than this.”

Kasmarek matches the color of the club to the body color of the species bird he is working with. “I’m trying to replicate an antique duck decoy,” he said. “That’s why it’s stained and you can see the wood grain. And I’m trying to keep the integrity of the club, because golfers like the clubs.”

The clubs come from both the east and west coasts through contacts Kasmarek has established via eBay and other online resources in his ongoing quest for wooden clubs.

Kasmarek also will craft a keepsake if a customer has a club he or she wants made into a duck. One customer received a gift of a Kasmarek bird made from her grandfather’s club, and it brought tears to her eyes. “If you’ve got grandpa’s clubs in the closet, I can custom-make ducks,” Kasmarek said, noting that his business is part of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement.

Although Kasmarek started with wood-working skills, he also has tapped into the talents of local artists Matt Palm and Dan Ingersoll for advice on sculpting and coloring the heads.

Kasmarek begins each project with a 4-inch by 4-inch by 1-inch piece of basswood. He uses a template he made himself for whatever species he is working on. “When I started,” he said, “I literally took a piece of onionskin and traced over pictures of ducks until I got it right.”

Besides being the recipient of THE duck that started it all, Jim Kasmarek’s father was an inspiration in another way: Robert Kasmarek Sr. loved golf and taught his son, Jim, how to play. Jim Kasmarek uses wooden clubs for his keepsake creations to honor his father’s memory.

The elder Kasmarek also taught his son to hunt ducks, an activity Jim Kasmarek continues to enjoy. According to his website, “Jim Kasmarek is an avid duck hunter who hunts the northern Mississippi Flyway with an occasional trip to North Dakota. Jim has an older black lab named Casey, who is a fine, very spirited hunter.  Many people say the same of Jim, but he prefers to think of himself as having an intense passion for hunting ducks. His garage is filled to the rafters with decoys and duck hunting gear.”

Kasmarek’s ducks are sold locally and exclusively at Williams Diamond Center, and also can be purchased online at

Just Products

Life can occasionally bring on headaches. Rub them away today!

Lavender and peppermint essential oils are a combination powerhouse against headaches. Soothing yet energizing, these two aromatherapy workhorses are believed to stimulate brain activity and relieve tension. This combination is used in sinus relief products as well as for muscle relief.

This vitamin-rich rub includes almond oil and mango butter for an emollient, nourishing treat that can help soothe skin as you rub it in. Rub directly onto skin with a great little roll up container that is small enough to carry wherever you go! $6.00

Left to Right: Set of 6 Cards $10, Mini Art w/Easel $8, Framed 8”x8” Art Print $20, Bookmark $2, Flipbook $2.50, 8.5”x11” Art Print $12.

Subarashii: Splendid Artwork for a Joyful Life

Greetings! I’m Monica, the creator of Subarashii designs. All of my products are designed and printed by me, so every piece has been given the care of a handmade item. It is my hope that these fun designs will bring joy to all who see them, even to those who might consider them too cute for their own wall!

As an artist, I’ve been providing my services on a freelance basis for over eight years while attending college to further hone my skills. While completing my undergrad work, I studied as an exchange student in Japan which inspired me to brand my style of cute and happy designs with a Japanese name. Subarashii is one of my favorite Japanese words to say, (pronounced Sue-bar-ah-she-e) it translates simply as “splendid” in English.

Studying animation has heavily influenced my designs, leading to the bold colors, distinctive shapes, and appealing characters which define my work.

One of my wise instructors from the Academy of Art University once said, “Do everything by hand, even on the computer,” which I have found to be sound advice. The computer cannot create art without the artist.

Shop online at Also, please visit my portfolio site: I am happy to take custom orders, please contact me through either of the sites.

Tillung Treasures

So if you are a fan of birds, recycled materials, or both, have we got a find for you!  Everett Tillung has been crafting away in his garage for quite some time, and what you’ll find offered in an array of colors, shapes and sizes on his lawn is quite impressive. Working with recycled hooks, door knobs, license plates, and anything else he comes across makes this collection of bird houses truly unique and special. A great find come this Christmas season for anyone who loves wildlife. Located at 316 Grant Avenue in Eau Claire, Everett says he will have birdhouses and solar light signs through the winter so don’t be shy when looking for gifts.

And if he isn’t there when you’re there, give him a call and I am sure he’ll be glad to make time to meet you and let you into his showroom. 715.834.1907

Peppermint & Rosemary Body Butter

Ingredients – Olive, apricot kernal, grapeseed and vit. E oils, peppermint & rosemary essential oils and a paraben free preservative.

From Colors of Joy Healing Center in Eau Claire, WI (715.220.8543)

LüSa Organics in Viroqua, WI

Breathe Soap: Eucalyptus & Lavender – I have a shameless love affair with lavender. This is as bold as lavender gets, blended with bright, clarifying eucalyptus and accentuated with the gentle texture of oatmeal. Take a deep breath and enjoy. 5 oz. $5.75;

House of Gourds

Love of birds is the focus of an area art business, House of Gourds. Katherine Sabelko, majoring in various art medium through high school and college, was an exotic bird breeder for years and her love of birds is reflected in the original hand painted bird house gourds which is the center of her art/craft business.

House of Gourds offers many art items — paintings, water colors, wood carvings, sculptured pet rocks and wire bugs — even poison ivy soap, all done by Katherine with a flare for freshness and originality.

When mentioned that the gourds are too pretty to hang outside, she assured me that though they do make beautiful additions to any home décor or Christmas gift, they are truly a serious bird house. Drain holes are placed at the bottom for any misdirected rain drops and ventilation holes on the side to insure proper cooling for the chicks during the summer months.

The big surprise was how little work there is for you to maintain the bird house gourd year and year. Since the wrens clean their own nest continually, there is no need to remove nesting material each winter when putting away in the garage or barn. The parents just rearrange the twigs already there each spring.

This sounds like the ideal gift for the holidays. Beautiful, original, used year round in or outside, and truly a work of art.

Burnt — Oil on canvas panel, size 12 x 16, price $35.

Fine Art by Becky Streeter

Fine Art by Becky Streeter is somewhat a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to art. Based in Eau Claire, Becky focuses on oil painting, hand bound journals, and a handful of other things.

Several years ago, Becky tried her hand with oil paints. Preferring not stay inside the lines, she calls her art “non-objective” or “color on color”.  She simply chooses a color to match her mood, picks a few other colors that might look good together, and lets the brush take control.

Becky also previously held a professional career as a bookbinder where she studied the trade of repairing used and rare books. This craft led the way to creative journal making, which she now continues in her home.

Becky can be contacted through her website,, or via Facebook if you search “Fine Art by Becky Streeter”. All art found on her website is for sale, unless otherwise noted. Becky is also more than willing to create customized works.  You name the size, shape and colors you’d like, and she’s ready to paint it or bind it for you. If you are local, she will even deliver!

Lavender’s Green

Hate Plastic Sandwich Bags? Me too!  Well, here’s your local solution. A reusable zippered snack bag made by a local mom (Lavender’s Green). The water resistant bags (shown above) are available in three sizes — from snack — to gallon-size, and there are many colors and designs to choose from. The handy bags are made with a cotton exterior and a (food safe) nylon lining, making them incredibly easy to clean; simply wipe them with a damp rag or, for larger messes, throw them in the washer/dryer. And with the standard sandwich-size bag (6”x7”) priced at only $7, they are affordable too. Find them at That’s Adorable! in Eau Claire.

Sari Bag by Ruffled Riches

These one-of-a-kind bags are handmade by craftspeople in India from recycled saris. For each one, the layers of silk and rayon come in a unique combination of colors and patterns, ranging from jewel tones to earth tones. Due to the handmade and upcycled nature of these items, each bag will vary. More at $35.00

Recycled Wine Bottle Platters – Platter In A Bottle

Made from 100% recycled glass, these wine bottle-shaped platters will provide a lovely backdrop to the cheese, crackers, fruits or vegetables you serve at your next wine tasting party. Each piece undergoes an 8-hour process to emerge as a one-of-a-kind platter. These striking platters also shed new light on candles, give spoons a rest, and make for an interesting butter dish. Choose from chardonnay or bordeaux. Spreader included. $18.00

What Dogs Chase Throw – Puppy Love

Your dog may curl up to keep your feet warm when you nap, but this fun-loving throw blanket will have the rest of you covered. Made from 75% recycled cotton — fabric scraps from textile manufacturing that would otherwise have been thrown away is collected, shredded and re-spun with 25% acrylic to create the blanket’s super-soft, machine-washable yarn. $40.00

Double Wine Tote-Regions – C’est La Vin!

Even if you can’t take a trip through the rolling green fields of France’s wine country or Napa Valley’s scenic vistas, you can still carry some of that beautiful land with you wherever you go. The totes also make thoughtful housewarming or hostess gifts. Husband and wife team Rachel Rheingold and Michael Berick produce these bags using US-grown cotton. $22.00

Baby Blanket Music

Baby Blanket Music takes your favorite songs from your favorite artists and arranges them just right so that now they can be your baby’s favorites, too! The perfect way to share your music with your little one. $14.99;

Eco Mom, This is the Bag for You!

Amy Michelle has become the go-to bag for today’s moms that do not want to sacrifice fashion for function. Amy Michelle creates mommy/baby bags made eco-friendly recycled fabrics.

Eco-baby totes offer trendy environmentally friendly options. $54.95;

LUSHious Bath Gifts

Magic Wand Reusable Bubble Bar ($9.95) A magical pink star-shaped bubble bar on a wand to swish around the bath for Snow Fairy scented bubbles! Twirl it around in the water for a skin softening, vanilla-scented soak and heaps of candy bubbles.

Golden Wonder Bath Bomb ($6.95) You are sure to “wonder” what’s inside this golden present! Drop it in a warm bath and watch the golden stars burst out. Inside you’ll find a wonderful surprise! The champagne-like perfume made from sweet orange oil, cognac oil, and lime oil is sure to put you in a partying mood.

Captain Bubblebeard Reusable Bubble Bar ($9.95) Swirl this reusable bubble bar for loads of white, skin-softening, twinkling bubbles. Sandalwood oil, lavender absolute and neroli oil will make sure your face is left kissably soft for those under-the-mistletoe moments!

Snow Fairy Shower Gel ($9.95 – $27.95) A hit with everyone!! Candy pink and with a sweet, magical scent of vanilla, the flecks of iridescent glitter leave you shimmering.

More on these at

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