George Washington slept in  Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, more than once. So did Lord Fairfax.They were not the only ones to seek the reportedly curative powers of the area’s mineral springs. Adventurers, gamblers, and card sharps and  found their way to the little town’s eateries and saloons. That is all in the past. Today, Berkeley Springs is a grande dame with few enticements  for high rollers in search of a party town.  The good thing. What this grande dame of West Virginian towns  lost in rakishness throughout the years, it gained in sedate charm. Folks from all over the country still come to stay at its spa. Some give in to  town’s  Victorian charm and end up staying for good.  
Ellen Kardell’s Pocket Meadow Farm yarn shop, on 19 N. Washington Street, contributes to Berkeley Spring’s charm. Kardell is a transplanted Washingtonian who traded the city life for the quieter pace of a tiny farm in Morgan County,  West Virginia where she balances the roles of entrepreneur with that of a farmer whose chickens and sheep are oblivious to the fluctuations of the fiber market.
Her  Washington Street shop–she has a shop at her farm– is a knitter’s paradise. Its inventory includes  luxury, classic and natural  European, South American and Asian fiber as well as farmspun yarns, fibers and rovings produced in  West Virginia. Check out her  site, www.pockemeadowfarm.net for a detailed list of  her products.  If you travel to charming Berkeley Springs, be sure to drop in. I challenge you not to fall in love with the $750 hand-woven red coat pictured above. If your budget does not stretch all that far, you can score a bar of homemade soap, Kardell’s hand dyed yarn or a skein of rainbow-colored Mini Mochi yarn with enough yardage for a scarf. The latter  is a steal a $8.50. Sign up for a knitting class, join the Pocket Farm knitting group and tell your friends that there’s much more to Berkeley Springs than mineral water.

pocket meadow farm shawl


Bubbly Cauldron artisan soap available at http://www.bubblycauldron.blogspot.com/

Visconti Boutique Ink from http://www.swisherpens.com/

Tough times call for tough measures, so say the Spartan among us. By and large, that means making do making over or doing without. If you are one of those people who start your holiday preparations a year in advance, you already have all your presents wrapped and ready to be distributed. If, on the other hand, you are still wondering what sort of gift you can find that will not utterly destroy your budget, I have a few suggestions.


Skype, Yahoo and MSN instant messaging programs allow you to make computer-to-computer calls at no cost. At my house we use it to talk to friends in the US, Spain and Israel.

Share e-books from the Gutenberg Project, www. guttenberg.org

Read and share online publications such as Martha Stewart’s Magazine, Better Home and Gardens, House Beautiful, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair Magazine, The Washington Post, The Jerusalem Post, and Ha’aretz. All these sites offer free memberships.


Cuttings from your own house plants. African violets, scented geraniums, Jade plant, spider plant are easy to propagate. Pot the cutting in a recycled tin et voila, you have a truly green gift.

Check out frugal recipes at http://www.epicurious.com/ and find recipes for bread, tortilla soup and simple salads. Make them as a complete meal for a friend.


http://www.swisherpen.com/ has Rotring Core Technor Medium Nib and Lysium Fine Nib fountain pens for $9.99 each. They also have thre ounces of brown Visconti Boutique ink, in a nifty bottle with a wooden stopper for $ 8, and a Clairefontaine Triomphe 50-page writing pad for $5 .

Moleskine Volant pocket Journals and reporter notebooks, Cavallini easel calendars, Nepali Lotka envelopes, Rhodia writing pads and pencil sets are some of the items under ten dollars at http://www.vickerey.com/

http://www.epica.com/ offers a single 10×14″ sheet of handmade Amalfi paper for $10. Expensive, yes, but the smile it will put on the face of your favorite papyrophile is priceless.

The metropolitan Museum of Art has some super deals on fine stationery. My favorite is a box of 36 Cat cards and envelopes for $9.88 http://www.metmusem.org/


Foodies will love the 220 grams jar of Jerusalem wildflower honey for 5.50, the 500ml bottle of award winning Halutza first cold press olive oil produced in the Negev region of Israel, 13 ounce jars of ethrog, quince, cherry tomato and plum confiture for $3 dollars each–all available at http://www.israeliproducts.com/

DeFluri’s chocolates, in Martinsburg, WV has delicious truffles at unbeatable prices. Flatlanders can order them at http://www.defluris.com/

Start windowsill herb gardens in latte cups and bowls from thrift shops and discount stores make great planters. Line them with pebbles, add potting soil and green onions, chives, oregano and cilantro seeds. They germinate in no time.

http://www.superseeds.com/ is a reliable source of inexpensive herb seeds.


Amaryllis bulbs and paperwhite narcissi will bring cheer on the darkest days of winter. They can usually be found at supermarkets and discount stores during the holiday season for less than ten dollars.

Scented candles from discount stores and thrift shops.

Silk scarves from thrift and consignment shops.

Check out http://www.pocketmeadowfarm.com/ for reasonably priced yarn and deliciously scented artisan soaps.

The vanilla soap from http://www.bubblycauldron.blogspot.com/ is a a real treat. I should know. My daughter makes it.

Start your best beloved’s day day right with a cup of Mirembe Kawamera coffee available at http://www.thanksgiving/ coffee.com

Mirembe Kawamera coffee is “A sweet, nutty coffee from Uganda with notes of pecan and nutmeg, grown by an amazing and unique cooperative.
The Story
Mirembe Kawomera (mir´em bay cow o mare´a) means “delicious peace” in the Ugandan language Luganda. It is the name of a Ugandan cooperative of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian coffee farmers.
Grown high on the slopes of Mt. Elgon, a dormant volcano in eastern Uganda, Mirembe Kawomera Coffee is produced in small batches by the family farmers of the Peace Kawomera Cooperative.
$1 from the sale of every package donated to the Peace Kawomera Cooperative to support their community-based projects.”


The ls The Collaborator of Bethlehem and A Grave in Gaza, by Matt Beynon-Rees are available at http://www.amazon.com/