My Idea of Gift Recommendations

As you are in the midst of buying gifts this holiday season, here are some of my favorite places and things to give you ideas or even visit for your present buying extravaganza.


Think Geek – All geek, all the time. This is an online store filled with so much nerdy goodness: Star Wars, Star Trek, Zombies, Game-themed, etc. Buy something for your freaks and geeks.

Super Hero Stuff – Enough comic related merchandise to fill a small country, DC and Marvel (another online store). If you have a comic fan, then this is where you need to go.

Atomic Empire (formerly Sci-Fi Genre) – Local comic, gaming, D&D shop in Durham. They recently moved to a new location that is bigger and with more parking. This place is one of my favorites to find comics, board/card games, and D&D. AKA this is the place to go if you need to buy Munchkin, Pokemon, Magic, HeroClix, graphic novels, Walking Dead and more.

Frogpants Studios – I’m not sure how to explain this one other than it is pure “nerd fun”. This is Scott Johnson and it has his artwork, multiple podcasts he does (on gaming, movies, comics, etc.) and now t-shirts. Every year, he hosts Nerdtacular.  Support Scott and his family…


The Star Wars Craft Book  – This is such a fun book for adults and kids. It will inspire your inner Chewbacca. It was written by the fantastic Bonnie Burton who has some other fun creative books you can buy.

Schooled – A fantastic mystery based in the video game industry from Christa Charter. This is an ebook and book one in a three-part series, works with with Kindle or your Kindle app. If you only buy one book, I demand you buy this one.


Flour by Joanne Chang – I love this cookbook. It is my new go-to baking resource. I recommend the brioche dough and chocolate chip cookies recipes. This is a bit of an advanced cookbook but one I recommend for everyone that loves baking.

Joy The Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson – One of my favorite cooking blogs. She released her own cookbook this year. Her recipes always strike a chord with me. I would say this is mid-range skilled for baking. I’d recommend this for people that want to expand their baking skills.

All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray – I found this little gem completely by accident. It was sitting on a shelf at Books-A-Million and I picked it up. It is from an NPR show called “All Things Considered”. Every Monday, she bakes a cake. Love the concept and her passion for baking. This is mid to advanced for baking.

Other Cookbooks – There are many more cookbooks that I have and enjoy, feel free to message me if you’d like any other recommendations.


KitchenAid Stand Mixer – Get one. I love it. Also get a 2nd bowl. Get one.

Tassimo – I bought this a few years ago and just recently bought a Keurig. Okay I have to say it: I love it more than the Keurig. I know, I know the Keurig is all the rage but the Tassimo reads the bar label so it pulls in the right amount of water. The King Joe Cappuccino is pretty darn delicious.

Fresh Deli by Nostalgia Farms – Local, local, local. I can’t recommend this place enough. It is located in the Freight House in downtown Davenport. Order the chicken salad, chicken noodle soup, one of the homemade sodas, and a sugar cookie. They also sell menu items packaged so you don’t have to make dinner after spending all day working and running the kids all over. Tell Ed and Joe that I sent you.

Rozz-Toxx – Sweet coffee shop and cafe tucked away in downtown Rock Island. The coffee is truly wonderful and made by the cup so you will have to wait a few minutes. *gasp* THE HORROR! Don’t worry, it will be worth it. The owner’s mom also makes yummy cupcakes every day. Oh and not only do they have coffee, food and cupcakes, they even have art shows and host a variety of musical acts. This is just a comfortable spot and one you need to visit. Support local, people!! 

East Village Coffee Cafe – Little place across the street from Freddy’s Fritters in the East Village in Davenport. They have really good sandwiches and treats. I enjoy the coffee but their chai is my favorite in all of the Quad Cities. Stop there for lunch while shopping in the East Village or swing buy and buy a cup of coffee to keep your energy up.

Pepper’s Market and Sandwich Shop – This is my favorite sandwich shop ever. I am not kidding. It is in Grace Park in Morrisville. They buy fresh local bread, most of the meats are made in-house, aka the turkey tastes like turkey not processed goop. They also make their sides. You can order off the menu or create your own. They also cater so what a perfect way to treat your employees, friends and family all year round.

Komo Komo – Local French Korean restaurant in Cary near the Kroger’s off of Maynard. Everything is made from scratch and tastes incredible. This wold be a nice dinner after a long day of shopping or to celebrate the new year. You could even get a gift certificate for that foodie in your life.

Jublala – Phenomenal coffee shop in Lafayette Village in North Raleigh. Try a latte and one of the Liege waffles (with Nutella)! Buy some of their coffee beans and pick yourself up a cup to go.

Hummngbird Bakery – Small bakery in Durham inside a cool building. Their cake is incredible. Grab a gift certificate for that Duke student or order a cake for a special event.

Upper Crust Pie & Bakery – Lovely bakery in Lafayette Village in North Raleigh right next to Jubala. I loved the Bumbleberry pie. Not a baker but need a fantastic dessert for a dinner party or family reunion? This is where you need to go.

Savory Spice Shop – This place is my haven. This is also located in Lafayette Village (Yes, Lafayette Village is an amazing place of foodie goodness). Not only do they have such beautiful fresh spices and blends, they also put together seasoning packs, which would be perfect as gifts.


Mary Beth Photography – Although it may be a bit late to book a holiday session, it would be a great gift for new parents, graduate, pet lovers or special event. This is my sister-in-law and she takes amazing photos. Book some sessions with her now.

Spa Luce – Need a  massage? Facial? Mani/Pedi? Spa Luce in the Blackhawk Hotel in downtown Davenport is the place to go. The staff is incredible and I highly recommend them and their salon. See Alyssa for a facial.

Salon Luce – Ask for Amanda. She will do you up pretty! One of the best salons in Davenport and the QCA. Go there!



Phydeaux – Fantastic selection of everything pet. They have two locations, one in downtown Raleigh and the other in Chapel Hill. Love this place. They also do online ordering

Woof Gang Bakery  – New pet shop in Cary in Stone Creek Village next Red Bowl. They offer homemade treats, some locally made bows and such along with food, treats and grooming. The owner is super nice. Side note: They carry Stella & Chewy’s.

Big Pile of Dog Shirts – Wonderful site for pet lovers and pets. (See Curious Goat Dog Treats below). They donate a portion of your purchase to a rescue of your choice.

Freddy’s Fritters – You can find this cute shop in the East Village in Davenport. Tons of toys, clothes, gifts, homemade and healthy treats and food. They also do grooming.

Teske’s – Local store in the Quad Cities with a store in Bettendorf and Moline. They have been in business for over 90 years. They have tons of pet (dogs, cats, fish, birds, etc.) items and the staff is very helpful. The also will ship.


Stella & Chewy’s – Freeze-dried raw food and frozen food for cats and dogs. Made in Wisconsin. This stuff is amazing. Sindaen Puppy is a picky eater and this is the only food (freeze-dried version) he gets excited about. You can find a store via their online search tool or order via or and set up automatic delivery.

Curious Goat Dog Treats – Dehydrated goat cheese, shaped like hearts and thin like a cracker. Sindaen Puppy goes nuts for them and, frankly, I love them, too. They are delicious! These are a healthy treat for dogs and humans alike.

Barkbox – A monthly subscription service where your dog receives a box of goodies. Each month is a surprise but there usually some fabulous items. For example, this is where I discovered Stella & Chewy’s and got a $10 for Petflow. You can try it one month and then stop. I love it. This would be a great gift for the dog owner in your life.

EVERYTHING – When all else fails… Try searching here for similar items from above or others you think of. Etsy has items for sale from individuals. Many are handmade as well as vintage/found items. I’ve bought hats, cards, art, clothes, etc and it’s been fantastic. While you might not be able to order some items in time, there are now gift cards so it makes it even easier. Some of the buyers I have purchased from:

Perfect Crochet (got super cute Phineas-themed hat)

Oh Little Rabbit (wonderful hand-printed flour sack towels)

Dingbat Press (homemade Star Wars-themed Valentine’s Day card)

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