Gwen Willhite founded Cookies by Design in 1983, when an unsatisfying brainstorming session about gift ideas led her to ponder one question: why should flowers and sweets remain separate? Her solution was to design the cookie bouquet, where custom, hand-decorated cookies are displayed on sticks and arranged like flowers in gift baskets. Her invention quickly became a popular gift among locals, particularly those allergic to real blooms or too bashful to look at naked cookies.
Twenty-five years later, there are more than 200 Cookies by Design locations across the country. Each shop's team of bakers creates cookie baskets with a degree of care that matches Willhite's original vision, decorating and arranging sweet shapes for birthdays, holidays, and any other special occasion.
A landscaper since age 17, Tom Hill applies decades of experience at Hoffner Nursery, his landscaping company and greenery emporium, as he beautifies homes and businesses alike. Hoffner’s services run the gamut from garden design to outdoor-fireplace installation to sculpting shrubs into the shape of Swamp Thing. Professional lighting services allow homeowners to make full use of their lawns at night, whereas paving helps make yard areas more accessible. Additionally, Hoffner Nursery stockpiles many lovely and useful greens, such as rose bushes and mint.
Eager to assist home-improvement and upkeep projects, neatly arranged drills, garden hoses, paintbrushes, and other hardware sundries populate the shelves at family-owned Avalon Hardware. Stacks of mulch team up with rakes and watering cans to keep landscapes lush but tidy, and fluorescent light bulbs promise to emit steady, more sustainable light in homes. Customers can also swing by to grab gallons of PPG Porter paint, which staffers mix to exact specifications after a small sacrifice of crayons to a prism spirit.
For more than 25 years, the Festival of Orchestras has attracted internationally renowned symphony orchestras to fill central Florida with the crashing thunder of brass instruments and the melodious vibrations of strings. Hearken to the harmonious reverberations of the German State Philharmonic, playing its first U.S. tour and featuring conductor Philippe Entremont, whose enigmatic conducting style has inspired musicians and accidentally opened intergalactic wormholes. With this deal, you'll get to witness the orchestra at Longwood's Northland Performing Arts Center, called a "music lover's dream" by the Orlando Sentinel for its wide seats and warm acoustics. The program includes a sweeping performance of historically moving pieces, including Weber's Oberon Overture, a piano concerto by Mozart, and Mahler's Symphony no. 4. Call 407-539-0245 to reserve spots for a free optional pre-concert lecture at 6:30 p.m.
The seasoned technicians at Sams Gas efficiently refill 20-pound propane tanks, perfectly designed for gas grills. Whether customers own their own propane reservoirs or buy one from Sams, a technician will fill it to the brim with fresh-from-the-farm propane gas, lauded for being nontoxic and having minimal effect on the environment or the indigenous dryer-sheet trees that spring up in lint filters.
The home-objects experts at TLG Home Furnishings pack their showroom with a selection of name-brand gear for domestic dining, lounging, and sleeping. For convenient decorating, TLG lets customers choose their home accents a la carte or cart home a multi-piece-package bedroom or dining set. Customers can solicit the sage design wisdom of the in-store staff or utilize the company's Create Your Own Space online tool, which allows shoppers to sample endless furniture combinations and try out different styles of ottoman toupees.