While other children were playing outside Charlene Randolph's bedroom window, she was buried in her coloring books, scribbling intently with her crayons. This passion for two-dimensional art led her to take a slew of illustration classes in high school, but it wasn't until college that she discovered the clay medium and the world of functional, three-dimensional art. Tossing her canvases and drawing pencils to the side, Charlene became the primary instructor at The ClayGround Studio & Gallery, a BYOB workshop that provides novice potters with all the tools, materials, and fire-breathing abilities needed to craft stoneware art. Charlene's own masterpieces are available for purchase through the studio's website or at various boutiques and galleries across the country.
Bunched together in a vase of clear glass, freshly cut stems support the blossoms of fuchsia roses, pink carnations, and white daisies. A wicker basket brims with orange Asiatic lilies and purple asters, its weight anchoring a Mylar balloon emblazoned with the words "Happy Birthday."
These are just two of the sights that rank as commonplace within the polychromatic confines of Wilhide's Unique Flowers & Gifts, a shop that specializes in celebrating special occasions with bouquets and gourmet food baskets. Wilhide’s florists take care while crafting their bouquets to ensure that each stem has a pristine bloom and each petal is fitted with a dapper top hat.
Family owned and operated since 1914, Smyth Jewelers lavishes customers with expertly cut gems and attentive service. Fill Valentine's present voids with designer necklaces ($32.50 and up), adorn lonely lobes with earrings ($28 and up), or add panache to foosball matches with sparkling rings ($50 and up). The caring staff will not force shoppers into splurging on baubles, but rather will introduce them to pieces that fit their needs in design and price. Smyth also purveys gifts such as silver platters, wine coasters, crystal decanters, and decorative bowls to fill with fruits, pocket change, or collector edition condiment packets. Perusers of higher-end items may fuse two Groupons to put towards purchases over $300, selecting from shinables such as the 18-karat diamond stud earrings clasped in white gold ($340). Smyth's six certified gemologists ward off showy intruders, admitting only GIA or AGS approved gems with the most refined facets and credible qualities.
The muscle tutors at Fitness Together will work with you to determine your goals (drop pounds, run a marathon, get strong enough to finally confront Douglas) and develop a customized workout plan designed to help you reach your true fitness potential. They’ll supervise your squats, offer nutritional advice, and push you until you see results. Individualized attention means it’s all about you—your trainer can point out when you’re doing a stretch incorrectly, help you tone the trouble zones, and push you to keep going when you’d otherwise quit or become distracted by the fragile beauty of a passing hummingbird.
Craig Coyne's wares speckle owners with a dazzling shine emanating from sterling silvers, yellow gold, and precious stones. Adorn lobes with the sterling silver sparkle plenty earrings ($99), with the multicolored gemstones and pearls of the drop earrings ($60), or with last year's tree ornaments. The flat freshwater pearls of the blue moon bracelet set add an aquatic accent to any empty appendage ($90), and the bypass ring's amber bead and freshwater pearls beckon high-fives and handshakes ($59). Similarly, the golden links with glitz watch, complete with an elegant gold-toned stainless-steel casing ($89), is more fashionable and practical than a sundial-shaped fedora.
Paintbrushes smooth color across a series of canvases, and wineglasses glint in the evening light. At Paint in the Hut, amateur artists bring snacks and libations and relax during evenings filled with art. Painting sessions encourage adults to splash their emotions on the canvas as they re-create famous works of art, such as Monet's Cliffs and Water Lilies. Instructors are on hand to help you capture that ray of sunshine or the right perspective for the sea monster hiding behind the cliffs.