A holiday gift guide for procrastinators Part II

Not surprisingly, Todd Lannom and Ginny Stewart, co-owners of Centro, 4727 McPherson Ave., have taken the minimalist approach to making gift shopping easy. There are simply three plywood tables at the front of the shop filled with beautifully designed, unusual gifts. Two tables hold items made in America, the third, selections from Italy.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Wolfgang's Pet Stop Shelton Davis Mike's Bikes Enchanting Embellishments Centro Cassie's Scents Candle Fusion Studio

Almost everything on the American table, above, was designed by artisans located in Brooklyn. Front: AreaWear by Bower designs clever geometric trivets that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The larger herringbone shapes, front, are $35 each. The smaller tiles far left (made of wood) and right, can be mixed and matched and used as individual coasters too, $18.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Wolfgang's Pet Stop Shelton Davis Mike's Bikes Enchanting Embellishments Centro Cassie's Scents Candle Fusion Studio

Top left: American designer David Weeks’ beechwood gorilla, $100, and bear, $90, have movable parts. The Balancing Block dog at the top of the photo is a Snake Block®, a classic toy composed of 24 wooden triangles with an elastic band throughout, $48.  Top right: Balancing Blocks wooden shapes from Fort Standard are also $48.

Bottom photos: The latest in art lamps: “Filo” from Foscarini with glass ornaments comes in 8 different color palates, $550. Right: Decorative American-made outlets with 3 different cord lengths are handsome enough to leave in full view. Some have USB ports as well, $59 to $179.

Check Centro’s website for more information.

Don’t pout if you still need holiday cards, gift bags, or gift wrap. You’ll find them at Cassie’s, 316 N. Euclid.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Wolfgang's Pet Stop Shelton Davis Mike's Bikes Enchanting Embellishments Centro Cassie's Scents Candle Fusion Studio

From top: Boxes of Papyrus holiday cards are $14.95 to $24.95, Right: a large selection of holiday gift wrapping paper ranges from $8.95 to $9.95: Bottom: Gift bags are $4.50 and up. Cassies also has a perfume bar where you can create your own scents, see bottles above.

Head to Cassie’s website for hours and more information.

The Candle Fusion Studio, 4742 McPherson Ave., below,

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Wolfgang's Pet Stop Shelton Davis Mike's Bikes Enchanting Embellishments Centro Cassie's Scents Candle Fusion Studio

Top left: At The Candle Fusion you can purchase ready-made holiday candles in scents such as Cozy Fireside, $22, Holiday Ale, Balsam Fir, Cranberry, Gingerbread, and Candy Cane, $18 each. Top right: Or you can blend your own scents to create your own candle.

Bottom: You can choose from a variety of glass jars and scented oils to create the perfect gift.

The shop does a brisk business hosting candle-making parties. For more information, visit The Candle Fusion website.

At Enchanting Embellishments, 4732 McPherson Ave.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Wolfgang's Pet Stop Shelton Davis Mike's Bikes Enchanting Embellishments Centro Cassie's Scents Candle Fusion Studio

Left: A show-stopping faux-fur vest from Furious Fur in shades of beige to brown is $129.95; colorfully patterned socks from Sock Smith for men & women range from $9.95 to $19.95.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Wolfgang's Pet Stop Shelton Davis Mike's Bikes Enchanting Embellishments Centro Cassie's Scents Candle Fusion Studio

At Enchanting Embellishments, you’ll find zany Betsy Johnson Holiday Purses, $89.95.

Visit the website for more information.

At Shelton Davis, 4724 McPherson Ave.,

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Wolfgang's Pet Stop Shelton Davis Mike's Bikes Enchanting Embellishments Centro Cassie's Scents Candle Fusion Studio

you’ll find a selection of English tea caddies as old as King George I or George II, spanning the 18th to 19th century, $800 to $1200. Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Wolfgang's Pet Stop Shelton Davis Mike's Bikes Enchanting Embellishments Centro Cassie's Scents Candle Fusion Studio

Clockwise from top: Antique Venetian Glass bedside water carafe with glass lid, $145; a pair of French Art Deco jeweled perfume bottles, $375; English cut glass round perfume bottle with sterling silver top, $150; cut crystal perfume bottles with sterling silver tops, $275.

Visit Shelton Davis website for more information.

World Chess Hall of Fame carries a wide variety of gift items, and this Saturday everything is 20% off:

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Wolfgang's Pet Stop Shelton Davis Mike's Bikes Enchanting Embellishments Centro Cassie's Scents Candle Fusion Studio

Left: Jaunty bow ties by Cyberoptix, $50. Right: Chess sets include top left: a 14″ folding magnetic set with travel pouch $119, WCHOF member price: $95.20, top right, 7 1/2″ square magnetic chess set, $59, member price, $47.20, and front, 10 x 5″ magnetic chess set, $79, member price $63.20.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Wolfgang's Pet Stop Shelton Davis Mike's Bikes Enchanting Embellishments Centro Cassie's Scents Candle Fusion Studio

Left: Ball point pens disguised as quill pens with stand, $12. Right: There is a large selection of children’s toys at WCHOF including top left: Ogobolli Rattles, $11 each; 6-piece Pound & Tap Bench for age 12 months, $33; and a magnetic puzzle for age 24 months, $28.

Check out World Chess Hall of Fame’s website for more information.

At Mike’s Bikes, 324 N. Euclid,

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Wolfgang's Pet Stop Shelton Davis Mike's Bikes Enchanting Embellishments Centro Cassie's Scents Candle Fusion Studio

Top: Striders for ages 2 to 5 years are $120, and bottom photo: Pop some batteries into Kazam “blinkies,” $100, and the trail will blaze as they push ahead.

Visit Mikes Bikes website for more information.

Wolfgang’s Pet Stop, 330 N. Euclid,

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Wolfgang's Pet Stop Shelton Davis Mike's Bikes Enchanting Embellishments Centro Cassie's Scents Candle Fusion Studio

An assortment of freshly-baked holiday-themed dog cookies will be a welcomed treat for your four-legged friend this Christmas. Mix & match organic peanut butter, honey, and oatmeal, or choose one with liver, 4 for $5.

Wolfgang’s is also offering a small group (4-5 dogs) 1-hour dog training class on Saturdays from 10 to 11 a.m. starting January 19, $150 (five sessions). For more information click here.

Don’t miss the last of this year’s Window Walk festivities taking place this Saturday, December 22.

Shop local and have a wonderful Holiday everyone!

A holiday gift guide for procrastinators, Part 1

With just 6 shopping days left until Christmas, these holiday gift suggestions may make your life a little less stressful, especially for those prone to procrastination. Shopping local has many advantages. Walking from shop to shop is the most obvious, but as I put this 2018 list together I realized the added value of meeting and talking to the friendly shop owners in the CWE. They make the experience of finding gifts for everyone on your holiday list a whole lot merrier.

At St. Louis Art Supply, 4532 Olive St., co-proprietor Carson Monetti helped me gather suggestions for kids and adults, though several gifts would be appreciated by any age. Free gift wrapping is available.Nicki's Central West End Guide Uncategorized  The Silver Lady St. Louis Art Supply Provisions St. Louis Left Bank Books east+weststl AG Jeans

The shop has a wonderful children’s section for the budding artist. From left: Faber-Castell 64-piece Young Artist’s Essentials comes in a handsome red wooden case, $50; 20 water-based pens by Stabilo, $19; Learn to Paint Set in a zippered plastic bag, $18, sits on Claytoon clay packs, $4 each; and far right, a bucket of 50 Faber-Castell Connector Pens which, when hooked together with enclosed connectors can double as a building set, $19.99. Lower right, assorted stickers, $3 each.Nicki's Central West End Guide Uncategorized  The Silver Lady St. Louis Art Supply Provisions St. Louis Left Bank Books east+weststl AG Jeans

Clockwise from top: 50 point 88 fineliner pens by Stabilo, $37.50; Kalita coffee decanter, $24.99; dripper, $17.99 (filters, $4.99 not shown); Ethiopia Coffee from Coma Coffee in The Grove, 12 oz. $17.50. (The shop stocks a hand-crank “ceramic-burr” coffee grinder too, $49.99.) A trio of assorted pencil sharpeners, $4.99 each; ever-popular, non-stick Washi Tape, $3.50; Midori polar bear stationery $6.50; 8 matching polar bear envelopes, $5.50.

Far left, an assortment of Ro-biki waxed-covered notebooks to slip inside a jacket pocket, $8. St. Louis Art Supply is the only shop in the U.S. that carries some of these hard-to-find Japanese products.

Check St. Louis Art Supply’s website for hours…. they will be open on Christmas Eve.

Brian Simpson, proprietor of east+west, 387 N. Euclid, was quick to pick out his favorite gifts ideas to share with you, see his selections below.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Uncategorized  The Silver Lady St. Louis Art Supply Provisions St. Louis Left Bank Books east+weststl AG Jeans

From left: 2018’s edition of hugely-popular Chup socks from Japan feature Fair Isle patterns, $36; a solid-cast brass key ring from a LA jewelry designer hooks onto jacket or belt loop, $99; two-tone leather card case/wallet from a Portland OR company, $40; a Nashville-based company makes 6 varieties of candles poured in whiskey glasses  in scents such as balsam fir, tobacco & musk, and oak & moss, $44. Top right: In case of an emergency, or for the camping enthusiast, a military grade 10-ounce flask that contains compass, flashlight, 2 shot glasses & a bottle opener, $74; straight out of Copenhagen’s Kinfolk magazine, an assortment of 12 beautiful cards, $22.

By the way, east+west carries Sump Coffee, 12 oz/$16, delivered fresh to the shop weekly.

For more information, head to east+west’s website.

At Provisions STL Ross and Debra Hunter are still flying high about St. Louis and the rousing reception they’ve gotten from the neighborhood. The shop stocks a wide variety of gift items, so the following is just a small sampling of what you will find there.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Uncategorized  The Silver Lady St. Louis Art Supply Provisions St. Louis Left Bank Books east+weststl AG Jeans

Top photo: Hook & Albert dopp kit, $115. Canada’s Rockwell Razor’s shaving supplies include Beard & Body Bar, $10; razor, $29, razor stand, $30; AfterShave Balm, $15; Shaving Soap, $15, and Shave Brush, also $15.

Bottom photo left: a selection of hand-blended OLO perfume oils from a self-taught Portland-based perfumer, $45. Right: a cozy hypoallergenic alpaca blanket from Equador, $165; doggie coats, $35 to $45, have been reordered twice since the shop opened 2 months ago.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Uncategorized  The Silver Lady St. Louis Art Supply Provisions St. Louis Left Bank Books east+weststl AG Jeans

Left: Provisions STL carries an assortment of wood & inlay board games including backgammon sets in small, $125, and large, $210; domino set, $68; “Shaken” Cocktail Kit, $70; and fleur de lis bottle openers, $12.  Right photo: “Stirred” Cocktail Kit, $70; Everyday flask, $24; Picnic knife, $35; lower left, Bike Snob, $16.95.

For more information visit Provisions STL website.

Left Bank Books 399 N. Euclid, has been publishing “best of” book selections almost daily on Instagram and Facebook, so you might check those sites out for staff suggestions. What’s shown below are gift ideas that caught my eye, augmented by advice from LLB staffer Lauren Wiser.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Uncategorized  The Silver Lady St. Louis Art Supply Provisions St. Louis Left Bank Books east+weststl AG Jeans

From top left: Super Diva RBG Workout Calendar, $14.99; Bibliophile ceramic vase, $24.95, with quote from Louisa May Alcott brings literary charm to any room; acid green readers, $19.95; Ideal Bookshelf canvas shopping bag, $21.00; Yotam Ottolenghi’s Ottolenghi Simple, $35; Clifford socks, size 0 to 12 & 12 to 24, 4 pr. $12. My First Books include Coco (Chanel) & Marie (Curie), $8.99;  Spike the Left Bank Book cat mug, $12.99.

Visit Left Bank Books website for hours and information.

AG Jeans, 36 Maryland Plaza, has great-looking gift ideas, and the staff is immensely helpful with their suggestions on what to wear out on the town.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Uncategorized  The Silver Lady St. Louis Art Supply Provisions St. Louis Left Bank Books east+weststl AG Jeans

Since I visited last Thursday, the shop has started its semi-annual 30% off sale, so what’s listed here are pre-sale prices. A viscose slip dress in “duck canvas” (the color),”$228, is paired with a black lyocell & spandex turtleneck, $98. The slipdress is also available in navy and burgundy. Right: black razor back knit top, $74; “the Jodi crop” in super stretch sateen, $188, and right, “Farrah skinny ankle pant,” $188.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Uncategorized  The Silver Lady St. Louis Art Supply Provisions St. Louis Left Bank Books east+weststl AG Jeans

For men: Left, black “Kane Shearling Coat,” $1348; “The Sin’s Crew” in true black, $168; “Tallis” pant in multi-plaid Merlot, $198. Right: “Jaren Hoodie” in deep lolden, $268, and “Everett Pant” in cognac, $178.

Refer to  AG Jeans website for hours and more information about current sale.

Not only will you find a great selection of jewelry at The Silver Lady, 4736 McPherson Ave., you’ll also get a healthy dose of humor from proprietor Lori Shifter who’s been in the jewelry business for over 30 years.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Uncategorized  The Silver Lady St. Louis Art Supply Provisions St. Louis Left Bank Books east+weststl AG Jeans

Above, a long dramatic silver necklace, $472, with matching earrings, $82.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Uncategorized  The Silver Lady St. Louis Art Supply Provisions St. Louis Left Bank Books east+weststl AG Jeans

Top left: A stunning Meterioite necklace, $312, and matching bracelet, $300. (Meterioite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the earth’s surface.) Top right: Show-stopping Stichtite, Prehnite & Peridot necklace, $1269, with matching bracelet, $259.

Bottom photograph: This charming bracelet contains real miniature flowers, $60; matching drop earrings, $28.

Visit The Silver Lady website for hours and more information.

Next up: Part II of this year’s Holiday shopping guide.

Meet the founders of Perennial City Composting

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Visitation Park Neighborhood Tim Kiefer The Food Pedaler Perennial City Composting Land Reutilization Authority City of St. Louis Beth Kiefer

Describing Beth Grollmes-Kiefer and Tim Kiefer as “two peas in a pod” or “two birds of a feather” may seem a bit old-fashioned for the young founders of Perennial City Composting, above, but after visiting with them last summer and seeing their operation in action, the expressions seem to fit “like a glove.”  Their mission, to help save the planet by keeping food waste out of the landfill, has captured the attention of over 200 customers throughout St. Louis City and mid-County, who subscribe to their weekly or bi-weekly pick-up service.

The Kiefers met 5 years ago when Tim, who also founded The Food Pedaler, took a delivery from The Cup to a SLU dorm where Beth, who was earning her Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics at the time, was manning the reception desk. Not surprisingly, Tim hung around afterwards and remembers that their first conversation was about urban farming, imagine that! (My guess is that after that first meeting Kiefer hoped for many future cupcake deliveries to that particular dorm.)

The last 1 3/4 years have been a whirlwind for the Kiefers. They married on April Fool’s Day 2017, bought a house in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood, where they started composting in the backyard—and brooding chickens in the basement. In November 2017, the couple purchased 2 acres of land from the LRA (Land Reutilization Authority) in the Visitation Park neighborhood just north of Delmar, where they planned to open a soil farm.

Last January, they built the Perennial City Composting website incorporating Brooklyn-based illustrator Haejin Park’s food-scrap art (yes, there is such a niche) into the design. By April, Tim and his dad had cleared the honeysuckle off the property and the Kiefers moved the composting operation— and a few chickens—from their backyard to Visitation Park, not far from the heart of the CWE.

The Kiefers are photographed above alongside decorative panels they’ve installed at the entry to Perennial City Composting, which were salvaged from their Skinker-DeBalviere neighbor, artist Bill Christman. In a remarkable example of the small world nature of St. Louis, Christman grew up in an apartment building that was located on Perennial City’s property.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Visitation Park Neighborhood Tim Kiefer The Food Pedaler Perennial City Composting Land Reutilization Authority City of St. Louis Beth Kiefer

When I visited early one morning, Beth and Tim were hurriedly moving portable fencing to a fresh plot of grass—which they do every 2 weeks so the chickens will have fresh pickings to feed on. The Kiefers, neither of whom has a farming background, incorporated chickens into their compost operation after learning the important role chickens play during their many conversations with the proprietor of The Vermont Compost Company.

Bottom photo: Tim built the pitched-roof chicken coop on wheels so it can easily be moved around the property.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Visitation Park Neighborhood Tim Kiefer The Food Pedaler Perennial City Composting Land Reutilization Authority City of St. Louis Beth Kiefer

Moving the portable fence took longer than the chickens appreciated that morning, so by the time the door to the coop was opened, there was a mad dash out the door.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Visitation Park Neighborhood Tim Kiefer The Food Pedaler Perennial City Composting Land Reutilization Authority City of St. Louis Beth Kiefer

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Visitation Park Neighborhood Tim Kiefer The Food Pedaler Perennial City Composting Land Reutilization Authority City of St. Louis Beth Kiefer

Left: A few stragglers stayed behind while Beth checked for eggs. Right photo: The chickens’ diet is supplemented with a non-gmo Amish grain feed containing oyster shells and kelp for calcium, which is purchased from a Mennonite feed mill in Arthur, IL.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Visitation Park Neighborhood Tim Kiefer The Food Pedaler Perennial City Composting Land Reutilization Authority City of St. Louis Beth Kiefer

“This is where your compost goes,” Tim said, as he gestured to food scraps gathered from 60 households. The chickens pick through the compost, and fertilize it with their droppings. Grapes and tomatoes are prized finds. Interestingly, meat and fish scraps, which are apparently good for the chickens and for the compost too, are okay to place into the Perennial City Composting bin.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Visitation Park Neighborhood Tim Kiefer The Food Pedaler Perennial City Composting Land Reutilization Authority City of St. Louis Beth Kiefer   “This is how chickens should be living,” Kiefer said, as I watched the hens pick through the compost or search the grass for bugs. Right: He outfitted the wagon with old composting buckets that are used for drinking water.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Visitation Park Neighborhood Tim Kiefer The Food Pedaler Perennial City Composting Land Reutilization Authority City of St. Louis Beth Kiefer

The Kiefers keep multiple varieties of Heritage Breed hens, including Rhode Island Reds, Black Australorp, Barred Plymouth Rocks, as well as Easter Eggers, which are bred for personality and blue eggs. Apparently, chickens are very social and highly intelligent too. Not surprisingly, there is even a hierarchy in chicken world, which is evident when they instinctively return to the pitched-roof coop at dusk. The strongest, most important hens perch at the top.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Visitation Park Neighborhood Tim Kiefer The Food Pedaler Perennial City Composting Land Reutilization Authority City of St. Louis Beth Kiefer

Along with their composting service, the Kiefers have started an innovative Flockshare program as part of their goal to create a closed-loop food system. Subscribers can purchase a hen (don’t worry, they keep it, unless you want it), and for a monthly fee, receive 2 dozen really delicious eggs.

Those who are familiar with Bill Christman’s art will recognize his hand in the old-fashioned design of the egg cartons.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Visitation Park Neighborhood Tim Kiefer The Food Pedaler Perennial City Composting Land Reutilization Authority City of St. Louis Beth Kiefer

Future plans for the second acre of land the Kiefers purchased (located directly across the street from the composting operation) are still in the works. Currently, the property contains piles of wood chips that are mixed into the compost. The hope is that someday this property will be an urban “eco-Forest Garden,” which would draw people interested in agra-tourism, a hot commodity right now. There are also plans to start a vegetable garden this Spring to put all that good compost to use.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Visitation Park Neighborhood Tim Kiefer The Food Pedaler Perennial City Composting Land Reutilization Authority City of St. Louis Beth Kiefer   We have been Perennial City subscribers since September and are amazed at how painless it is and, more importantly, how little we throw into the trash. I keep meat and fish scraps in the freezer until our bin is picked up each week, but that is probably not necessary as there is no odor coming from the bin because of the little bag of coffee chaff and compost provided  to sprinkle between layers of food waste. To remind us to leave the bin outside Beth sends a text that reads: “Thanks for keeping the good stuff out of the landfill.”

Thanks to the Kiefers for letting me share their story, and for all they are doing they to help the environment in this little corner of the world. When I apologized to the Kiefers for the length of time it has taken me to complete this post, Tim replied, “That means it will be good, right?” I certainly hope so.

For more information, visit the Perennial City Composting website, or email, hello@perennial.city