By Chea Waters Evans, News Editor

There’s no hustle and bustle. There’s no cheek-kissing or champagne-glass-clinking or holiday parties that involve squeezing yourself into a dress that you could have sworn fit just fine a month ago. It’s 2020, the year of scary infections and that terrible new phrase, social distancing, which really drove home for me how weirdly often I touch people who I don’t know that well. Some say everything is the worst right now, and some say, bring it on, I haven’t worn pants in six months and I’ve stopped using silverware altogether. Hand eating is where it’s at. Whatever your pandemic mood, though, you’re going to have to buy gifts for your loved ones this year whether you leave the house or not. Here are some local options that don’t involve going out into the real world outside of Charlotte.

Building Character

This plaid cutting board is perfect for a Vermont kitchen. Courtesy photo

This plaid cutting board is perfect for a Vermont kitchen. Courtesy photo.

Father and son cabinet and furniture makers Rich and Carson Ahrens use their downtime to turn their talents toward smaller items that are well made, beautiful, and a little bit cheeky.

I know one thing for sure: Snowflake Bentley was right. You’ve never seen a snowflake like this f-ing snowflake. The F***flake Ornament, a steal at $12.50, lovingly arranges the repeated full F word in all of its glory into a snowflake shape. This carved maple ornament will be fun for early readers and those who are ready for this godforsaken year to be over. Search all you want, but nothing says 2020 more than this. Building Character also has other ornaments, more traditional but equally as thoughtfully crafted, in shapes like the classic round ornament or a regular snowflake that you don’t have to take down when grandma comes over.

Seriously, 2020, what the f?

Seriously, 2020, what the f? Courtesy photo.

Here’s the Christmas ornament that no one ever thought they would need, but these guys nailed it. Carefully carved in flowing script, it reads “Christmas 2020: Our first pandemic.” There are some very sweet pine trees and a couple deer carved in for good measure. At only $14 each, you can pick up one for everyone you live with, and twenty years from now when you’re still not speaking to each other, you can look back fondly on these times and remember why.

If you’re looking for something heftier, Building Character has a chic plaid cutting board made from Vermont maple, walnut, and cherry for $150. It’s so pretty, you might not want to cut on it and just leave it out to look like a person who owns cool stuff.

For $165, a limited-edition snowflake-carved cribbage board of quilted red maple is gorgeous and functional. Cribbage is fun, and in our family, the quarantine boredom has led us to try this and other traditional games like backgammon and poker and where in the house did mommy leave her wine glass.

This clock is perfect for any Big Poppa fan.  Courtesy photo

This clock is perfect for any Big Poppa fan. Courtesy photo.

From $50 to $65 there’s also an assortment of sweet little maple valet or ring trays with details from purple hart and walnut.

They also make a carved maple Biggie Smalls portrait clock for $95 that’ll just hypnotize you. It’s amazing.

Go to the Building Character web site and enter the promo code LOCALYOKEL when you check out, to get free local delivery.

MoLa Hoods

I heard a really strange rumor earlier this year that there are people who are still exercising right now, and that they are going outdoors. I didn’t even realize that people were getting up off their couches at this point, but if you’re one of them, you’re going to need the second most popular garment of 2020 (after the sweatpant, of course): the hoodie. MoLa Hoods, which is located in Charlotte and owned by Caroline Patterson, makes hoodies that are colorful, comfortable, and made for motion. (It’s disappointing to hear that they’re not specifically designed for lying around watching The Undoing, but I guess that’s what bathrobes are for).

If you’re motivated to move, these Charlotte-made hoodies are perfect. MoLa photos by Spencer Davis Real Estate Photography.

If you’re motivated to move, these Charlotte-made hoodies are perfect. MoLa photos by Spencer Davis Real Estate Photography.

Patterson made the most of her time at home this spring and said that during “COVID craziness” she decided to use her extra hours and her government stimulus check to start her own business, which, in retrospect, is something a lot of us could have done. Regrets. She created the hoodies for motion—they’re lightweight (only 12.5 ounces each!) and moisture wicking for comfort and cuteness without dampness.

MoLa Hoods are available online and are shipped out of Charlotte so shouldn’t take too long to arrive. Patterson suggests checking out the sizing chart and taking measurements for the best fit. All hoodies are handmade and sell from $69 to $74 and come in really cute bright colors.

Other fun things

Charlotte novelist Stephen Kiernan has a new book out this year, “Universe of Two,” signed copies of which are available at The Flying Pig in Shelburne. The work is a fictionalized account of mathematician Charlie Fish, who worked on the Manhattan Project. Deciding whether or not to eat the last cookie in the box or save it for your children is one kind of moral dilemma; pondering your role as the person who creates the detonator for an atomic bomb is another.

Artist Katherine Carleton paints birds, flowers, leaves, mermaids, fairies, and other flights of fancy. She varies in style from realistic to whimsical and her work can be purchased as prints or cards. Check it out at her website.

The Yerbary Master Tonic is a fire cider with an apple cider vinegar base that promotes healing, health, detox, cleansing, and energizing. The company is based in Charlotte and owned by Michaela Grubbs. During the course of my research, I wondered, “Can I mix this into alcohol?” To be honest, I wonder this any time I come across any new liquid of any kind, so imagine my delight when the Yerbary website suggested mixing it with a hot toddy, a margarita, or a bloody mary.

There’s more to come in our next issue; if you have suggestions for fun cool stuff made in or for sale in Charlotte, send me an email.