Featured Shop – Apotheca in GoffstownApotheca, 24 Main St., Goffstown, is more than a flower shop, it’s a gathering place for people who savor fresh flowers, art and a good cup of coffee or gently-brewed tea. After business hours, the shop becomes a gathering place, often hosting open mic nights for musicians, poets and other performers. Apotheca’s gallery is also where you’ll find occasional artists receptions featuring many New England artists. Alyssa Van Guilder, who owns Apotheca, has made a name for herself for her English-style weddings and now she is also becoming known for her decorating panache.What is a great classy look for this year’s holiday decorations? We call it “earthy-chic,” and it is all about going natural. People are using a lot of natural elements such as bark, moss, lichen, leaves and sticks, and then adding flowers or berries to wreaths.What colors are you using? Definitely bold, such as bright reds and earthy greens popped with other shades of reds, maybe even a rust or orange. We use a lot of mercury glass, which is often called poor man’s silver, but it looks so elegant.Any tips for mantels? Again, the more natural, the classier the look. Use seasonal greens like pine, cedar or juniper garlands or use leaves. If you want to add dimension do clusters of three, such as three candlesticks with different heights or candles in different shades of neutral color or a cluster of three ornaments. Finally, you want it to “pop” so you bring in a color such as a deep aubergine (eggplant) or fruit and maybe even a nice purple artichoke.
Purple artichoke? Yes, they come in purple, but don’t put them on the mantel until the last minute before a party, otherwise they’ll rot.
Do you go out to homes and decorate them? We do. We like to try to use pieces that people already have because often pieces have been collected over the years and then we try to incorporate them into something new and fresh.Gift Wrap Memories and Nostalgia
M.T. Nester, 253 South Main St., Concord, has that one-of-a-kind item for that hard-to-buy-for person on your holiday list. “Why not give the gift of a memory, something that touches one’s heart,” advises owner Laura Kensey, who has an eagle’s eye for all things nostalgic and collectible, including vintage Christmas ornaments. Look for old hand-painted linen hankies for ladies ($1 — never used!), crackled glass miniature pitchers ($9), depression glass (affordable), old cameras, milk glass and more, including some old Bob Mackie evening wear. Ask about the oil painting with mirror — an absolutely stunning piece for a handsome home. Items here are fairly priced and belong under a tree, not on eBay.For store hours call (603) 219-0151 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A Breath of Fresh Air
The Mustard Seed Natural Living Center, 80 Stage Rd., Nottingham, is truly a place for a time out. Stroll into this sweet-smelling old barn that has become a New England destination for the health-conscious crowd. Herbalist Salandrea Patrizi, who has more than 30 years of experience, offers more than 600 different kinds of herbs and spices in bulk as well as over 100 different kinds of teas. Body oils, salves, balms, homemade soaps and other unique products make for great stocking stuffers. Make your own remedies if you wish — chances are you’ll find the ingredients you need right here. Plan to stay a little while, sip some complimentary tea and maybe even commit yourself to a healthier lifestyle next year.See www.mustardseedherbs.com or call (603) 679-1800.
Barking Up the Right Tree
Winni Paws Station, 27 South Main St., Wolfeboro, is the perfect place to shop for your dog or cat or someone else’s. “My biggest customer doesn’t even have a pet; he just buys all his hostess gifts here,” says owner Diane Trembly, who keeps fresh water bowls outside the store for four-legged friends. Look for a nice assortment of all-natural pet food and treats as well as a plethora of pet-specific Christmas ornaments and unusual gifts such as wine glasses covered in paw prints. You’ll even find leashes made from either recycled climbing rope or old billboards. All purchases over $20 come in an adorable free gift bag with tissue and bow.Call (603) 569-1990 or Diane@winnipaw.com
Bling in the New Year
Scontsas, 169-173 Main St., Nashua, has that little something that any respectable, “nearly high maintenance” woman desires under her tree, and it’s called sparkle. “This is the season for engagement rings,” says Philip Scontsas, who says a cushion-shaped diamond solitaire with a border of diamonds set in a vintage platinum setting is this year’s most popular ring. For those who are not ready to ask “the big question” check out the Pandora bracelets ($50) and charms ($25 to $500). “They’re affordable, collectible and every bracelet is unique and different. People like them because they can take off the charms and rearrange their order.”Visit www.scontsas.com or call (603) 882-3281
This article appears in the December 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine