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If Oprah Can Play Favorites, So Can I: Adam’s Favorite (Local!) Things

If you have ever seen an episode of “Oprah’s Favorite Things,” you’ve witnessed an annual marketing extravaganza. Since 1996, I’ve sat helplessly on my sofa as Oprah’s audience group-hugged, cheered, cried and took home her most prized gourmet edibles, music, books, fashion and beauty products.

This year’s audience members, lured to Harpo Studios by what they thought was a show about philanthropy, were the lucky recipients of “Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things 2010,” her final holiday gift-giving frenzy. Each guest took home a Sony HDTV, an Apple iPad, a Oprah 25th Anniversary watch (set with 58 diamonds), a Nikon SLR camera, a 7-night cruise to the Caribbean and the not-yet-released 2012 Volkswagon Beetle (a model was transported to Chicago from Germany just for the show.)

So, I decided, if Oprah can do it, so can I. I’ve assembled a list – much more modest that Oprah’s – of a few of my favorite things. It’s a list of treats, one-of-a-kind gifts and fun finds from some of Redding’s local retailers. Maybe someday, I’ll be able to give A News Café readers one of each of my favorites.

For the Foodie – “In A Jam” Bacon Jam

A half-pound of bacon goes into each jar of this savory goodness, plus onion, coffee, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, pepper and paprika. I’ve substituted it for the “B” on my BLT, and spread it over cream cheese on a cracker. Yum. “In A Jam” bacon jam is a great compliment to the business’ pickled brussel sprouts, hot and spicy Thai dipping sauce, dill carrots, and other more traditional jams. Find this, plus original art, jewelry and custom laser etching at Infinite Designs, a unique gallery and gift shop owned by mother and daughter duo, Ann Weber and Jeanette Ernst.

“In A Jam” Bacon Jam – $12

Find it at: Infinite Designs, 1189 Hilltop Drive, Redding (In the Hilltop Town and Country Center)

For the Fashionista – One-of-a-Kind Hat, Scarf, Fingerless Gloves and Earrings

Kimberly Nicole, purveyor of stylish and eclectic accessories, shoes and clothing, is a notorious supporter of local artisans and stocks her shop with their wares. My friend, Julia, was styled with a military-inspired cap by Denisa and Laelta of Beautique, scarf by Grandma Pau, “Forest Fairy” fingerless gloves by Linda Jestes and “Under Lock and Key” earrings by Ms. Nicole, herself.

Hat – $35, Scarf – $26, Gloves – $25 and Earrings – $27

Find them at: The Kimberly Nicole Boutique, 1418 Yuba Street, Redding (In the Market Street Promenade)

For the Pampered Pet – Earthbath Natural Pet Shampoo

I swear that my dog Peanut smiles when I break out her Earthbath from Happy Tails Barkery. I like that it lathers without making a mountain of suds. Peanut likes that the all-natural ingredients are good for her skin, soften her coat, and naturally fight off fleas. When we’re done with our bath, I smell as good as she does. While you’re at it, fill your furry friend’s stocking with treats, baked fresh daily by owners Tom and Linda Dusell, plus with toys, fashionable clothes and leashes. Don’t forget your feline friends. Tom and Linda have them covered, too.

Earthbath Natural Pet Shampoo, available in bright coat formula, aloe and oatmeal, tea tree, mango, orange peel, eucalyptus and puppy formula – $10.99

Find it at: Happy Tails Barkery, 202 Hartnell Avenue, Redding

To Curb a Sweet Tooth – Peanut Creams

Who knew that peanut cream and white chocolate, molded in the cute shape of a peanut, could transport you directly to heaven? They can. But so can the hand-made ganache-centered truffles, chocolate-dipped honeycomb or sea-salted caramels at Sweet Treats. Owner Jan Hallenbeck lovingly crafts her confections in small, fresh batches. She’ll also help you put together incredible gift baskets that can include her silly custom novelty candies, or a triple-scented “cake candle” that will make the whole house smell like Jan’s shop.

Peanut Creams – $16.95/lb. (or .35 each in a little bag for the ride home)

Find them at: Sweet Treats, 1556 Hartnell Ave, Suite E, Redding (Look for the big “Candy” sign on the roof.)

The Ultimate White Elephant Gift – Giant Martini Glass

Do you need the perfect white elephant gift for a holiday gift exchange? Head to The Humor Shop. Paige Allen, the mistress of fake poop, French maid costumes and gag gifts, will find just the right thing. Pair her giant martini glass with bottles of gin and vermouth, and your white elephant will be the party favorite.

Giant Martin Glass – $22.50

Find it at: The Humor Shop, 1524 Market Street, Market Street Promenade, Redding (It’s pink. You can’t miss it!)

For the Woman Who Has Everything – The “Onesole Shoe” with the “Santa Clog”

I’m a big fan of Nancy Thompson, her giant personality and her incredible Classic Trendz Boutique. She’s got the “Onesole” – a shoe that you can change from day to evening to holiday with just a few snaps. Not in the mood for the “Santa Clog”? Just unsnap the Onesole’s interchangeable front and snap one of 30 others on.  In addition to Onesoles, Nancy is the regional distributor of the “Miche,” interchangeable handbag and “Magnabilities” interchangeable jewelry. While you’re there, check out her huge selection of clothing, accessories and “Emu” boots.

Onesole Shoes – $39.99 to $59.99, Interchangeable tops – $12 to $23

Find them at: Classic Trendz Boutique, 1600 Market Street, Market Street Promenade, Redding

For the Wine Enthusiast – “12 Wines of Christmas”

Art and wine? I’m in. So are Jana and Alan Laird, owners of downtown Redding’s Vintner’s Cellar. Every year, Jana and Alan offer a local artist the opportunity to showcase his or her work on 12 bottles of wine. This year’s 12 designs are by Red Bluff figurative painter Lisa Miller-Davison. The 12 Wines of Christmas case includes two California Cabernet Sauvignons, two California Merlots, two California Chardonnays, two Gewürztraminers, two Peach Chardonnays and two Cranberry Shirazes. Salut!

“12 Wines of Christmas” – $235 ($199 for wine club members). Bottles sold separately – $16 to $21

Find it at: Vintner’s Cellar Custom Winery, 1700 California Street, Redding

Thanks, Oprah, for the great idea. Readers, I hope you find someone on your list who will enjoy a few of my favorite local things. Wherever your holiday shopping takes you, support our local retailers. You’ll give a gift that’s more original than you’ll find at a big box store, while supporting local merchants – our neighbors and our friends.

Happy Holidays!

Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studios and are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop. Email your NorthState weekend events to adamm.anewscafe@gmail.com.

This portrait of Adam Mankoski was created by Shasta High School students Chance Norman and Kenzi Bell.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.