Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thanks for a fabulous 2011 and Happy Holidays!

Peace & Prosperity in the New Year!
No matter what your faith or beliefs - whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or another holiday - the period that marks the end of one year and the beginning of another is a time for reflection and renewal.

As we close out our 15th year in business, we realize how much we owe to you, our very loyal customers and friends. We are honored and grateful for your friendship and support these many years. Thank you!

We wish you all much peace, happiness, health, and prosperity in the New Year!

-Sally, Chris, Lilo, & Amida

Monday, November 7, 2011

Everyone's a Winner When You Support Small Businesses

Take a minute now and try to imagine what your neighborhood would be like without your locally-owned mom-and-pop shops. Do the terms "bland," "generic," "boring" come to mind?

Independently owned shops not only give your neighborhood its unique character, they also support the local economy in a myriad of ways. That's the premise behind small business advocacy campaigns like The 3/50 Project and American Express' Small Business Saturday.

Did you know that:

  • A locally-owned shop returns 68% of its revenues to the local economy, whereas a national chain returns only 43%?
  • Locally-owned shops employ more local residents and pay them substantially higher wages, in addition to having a broader range of jobs available?
  • Local businesses buy more than twice as much from other local businesses, and also are more likely to use local banks and other service providers?
  • Local businesses contribute more to the community through charitable giving, school funding, and other non-profit organizations?

And now, according to a recent study conducted by Civics Economics, there's one more reason to support small businesses: they help raise your property values.

The Small Business Saturday Shop Local event is November 26. When you register your American Express card in advance and shop at an independently owned small business on Small Business Saturday, American Express will reimburse you with a $25 statement credit! You can register your American Express card here.

Not only are you much more likely to discover some unexpected wonder or unique handmade treasure at an independent small business, but every dollar spent in a locally-owned shop is a vote for the health and welfare of your community.

Everyone wins when you "Shop SMALL" on Small Business Saturday!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Care for Kids! A Benefit for Children's National Medical Center

It's that time of year again when we proudly support the Children's National Medical Center by sponsoring the "Care for Kids" Card campaign. The program is simple:

  • Buy a "Care for Kids" card for $50 here
  • get 20% off ALL purchases at more than 300 local shops and restaurants during the campaign period, from Oct. 21 through Oct. 30.

That's it! It's a great way to start your holiday gifts shopping while supporting a worthy non-profit. All proceeds from sales of the cards go directly to Children's National Medical Center, while the savings go directly to you!

In past years, the Care for Kids Campaign has contributed more than $1.5 million towards:
  • a clinical simulation training laboratory
  • a portable ultrasound machine
  • summer camp for sickle cell patients
  • a bright and cheerful playroom for patients in the respiratory care unit

Your purchase of the Care for Kids Card includes a catalog detailing the more than 300 shops and restaurants throughout the DC-area that are participating in the program. Purchase yours today!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Therapeutic Effects of Kaleidoscopes

I've always loved kaleidoscopes and found, even as an adult, that gazing at the wonderfully colorful and ever-changing world inside the scope had a soothing and calming influence on me.  Well, apparently, I'm not the only one who feels that way.  Dr. Clifford Kuhn, of the University of Kentucky, has this to say about kaleidoscopes:

Kaleidoscope viewing.... is restorative to the body in that it requires physical stillness and stimulates pleasant visual sensations. At the same time it has a beneficial effect on the mind by presenting an endless variety of form and color combinations that stir the imagination and stimulate the intellect.

Read the full scoop on kaleidoscope therapy on the Handcrafted Alexandria* blog, then enjoy a full month of kaleidoscope celebrations at our sister Handcrafted shop, Arts Afire.

*Mindful Hands is a proud member of Handcrafted Alexandria

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Welcome to August!

When it comes to mosquitoes,
the best defense is a good offense
August in DC means heat, humidity, and .....mosquitoes! It's been said that the best defense is a good offense, so we thought we would share with you some tips from our friends at the National Wildlife Federation on what works and what doesn't for reducing the mosquito threat in your yard.

What works:
  • eliminating all possible places for standing water, including gutters and yes, even bottle caps!
  • chemical repellents that contain DEET
  • natural repellents that contain lemon eucalyptus

 What doesn't work:
  • ultrsonic repellents, zappers, & traps

You can read the full list from the National Wildlife Federation here.
Mosquitoes just adore me so I tend to really suffer in the summertime. And I don't like to use chemical sprays on me or the yard, so I really suffer in the summer.

There are three things I've found to be truly effective in repelling those pesky miniature vampires: cigars, incense, and these all-natural citronella & eucalyptus candles!
You might not want to use cigars or incense if you're having a backyard barbecue, but I highly recommend trying these candles. They are all natural soy wax candles made entirely with pure essential oils. The liquid wax can be applied directly to the skin for added bug protection. No synthetics, no chemicals, no bugs!
Come get your summer supply of these "all-natural, hand-poured, made in the USA" candles at Mindful Hands in Old Town Alexandria.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thanks for a fabulous first fifteen years!

Mindful Hands is FIFTEEN years old! That's practically ancient for independent retailers like us. And we couldn't have done it without you! A big THANK YOU to all our wonderful customers who have helped us not only survive but thrive! We hope to continue to support you in bringing serenity into your lives for at least another fifteen years!

We posted some photos from our big birthday bash here.

And Orrin Konheim of the Alexandria Gazette-Packet wrote a wonderful article about our little shop and celebration here.

Our first 15 years have been a wonderful experience and a grand adventure! We're looking forward to our next fifteen!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Children & Yoga

Children, even as young as two years old, can benefit in many ways from learning yoga according to Michelle Mitchell, co-founder of YoKid and our own in-house expert on yoga for children. Yoga can help kids develop greater confidence and self-esteem; increase focus, awareness, and concentration; and develop better control over emotions and stress.

To learn more about the "kid yoga" movement, here's a couple of interesting articles:

"Yoga for Kids" (Yoga Journal)

"Raising a Generation of Children on Yoga" (Washington Post, 5/10/11)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Handcrafted Alexandria

As most of you know, the majority of the items in our shop, Mindful Hands, are handmade, either by international artisan co-ops in India, Nepal, and other countries, or by artisans living here in the US. This year, we are proud to join a local consortium of 14 Alexandria-based businesses that offer handmade gifts, clothing, and artwork, or offer art and craft supplies, as well as classes, to help you make your own handcrafted wonders. You can check out the group, and sign up for the monthly e-newsletter, at Handcrafted Alexandria.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chocolate, Tea, & Kitties: Celebrate World Fair Trade Day!

Join us on Saturday, May 14, as we host a World Fair Trade Day celebration. We'll have refreshments of fairly-traded iced tea and chocolate, craft activities for kids, and chances to win prizes of fair-trade handmade gifts. The event will also feature the fairly-traded cats and kittens of Tails High, an Alexandria-based cat rescue group.

Fair Trade is a global movement that ensures that workers and artisans in developing countries receive a living wage for their work and healthy and safe working conditions. World Fair Trade Day is sponsored annually by the Fair Trade Resource Network and encompasses more than 100,000 participants in over 80 countries.

This year, we are proud to be a sponsoring partner of the Fair Trade Resource Network in celebration of this year's World Fair Trade Day. Mindful Hands offers fairly-traded home and garden decor, clothing, jewelry, and gifts from the Tibetan-exile community and women's co-ops in India and Nepal. Ten percent of all sales on May 14 will be donated to the Fair Trade Resource Network in support of their efforts to make all trade fair.

Please join us on May 14, 1:00 - 4:00pm, to celebrate Fair Trade!

Friday, April 22, 2011

From our friends at Positively Positive:

"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. " - Anne Frank

Happy Earth Day!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April is National Stress Awareness Month

Americans are stressed. We stress about our jobs, the economy, our health, global warming, and pretty much everything. According to the American Psychological Association, "more than 75% of adult Americans report experiencing stress at levels that exceed what they define as healthy."

What's more, our stress is worrying our kids, too. More than 80% of children of stressed parents know that their parents are stressed and are bothered by it. And though we know we need to be doing a better job at managing our stress, most of us say that we don't have the time or don't know how. (APA's "Stress in America Study")

Welcome to April, National Stress Awareness Month! Here at Mindful Hands, we are devoted to helping you live a gentler life, including providing resources to help you manage your stress. Gary Goodwin, of The Inner Arts Center, is our in-house stress management expert. In addition to running the monthly "Stress Reduction for Busy People," Gary offers these techniques for "on the fly" relaxation:

On-the-fly relaxation techniques are numerous, and in most ways, more effective than one or two meditation sessions per day. These regular world techniques are totally portable, invisible to others, and simple to work in.

  • Deep Breathing - Four or five cycles of breathing in, down to the belly and out really takes the edge off.

  • Sensory Mindfulness - Tune gently away from your thoughts and feelings and listenn to the sounds around you for a few seconds. Repeat for 30 seconds or up to a few minutes.

  • Calming Imagery - Bring to your mind’s eye any image that strikes you as calming (your last vacation, a favorite pet, etc.). Hold onto the image or make it more vivid for a minute or two. Feel the greater calm.

No cross-legged position required for any of these. No seclusion necessary. Invisible to everyone else but you know what really is going on. You are de-stressing, when you need it, within your regular life, all on the fly.

To learn more relaxation techniques, attend Gary's free monthly workgroup: Stress Reduction for Busy People and read more about relaxation techniques at his blog: Stress Reduction for Busy People.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Strange Vegetables + Ranch Dressing = Delicious!

Support your local farmer by becoming a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). And if you haven't joined a CSA yet because of some qualms about what to do with all those "strange" vegetables, here's a nice little article from our friends at Local Harvest: Strange Vegetables

Monday, March 14, 2011

Be Still, Boost Brain

There's new evidence from a study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital that suggests that mindfulness and relaxation exercises can boost brain power. Participants in the study engaged in mindfulness-based stress reduction exercises that included guided imagery and stretching. Even as little as 30 minutes a day of mindfulness practice can have positive results in the areas of learning, memory, and emotional well-being.

The study was reported in the Washington Post and you can read more about it

Get a jump on National Stress Awareness Month in April and start your meditation practice now!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week, Feb. 14 -20!

"How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it!"

-George Elliston; news reporter, poet

A simple act of kindness can:

  • bring two people together in spontaneous goodwill
  • create a smile that can go 'round the world
  • increase someone else's happiness as well as your own
  • ignite a small flame of positive thinking

Celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week from Feb. 14 - 20! We'll be celebrating all week at Mindful Hands and will host a Kindness Fair on Saturday, Feb. 20. You can also follow us on Follow us on twitter ( as we post suggestions for random acts of kindness, inspirational messages, and updates on acts of kindness happening around the world.

If you're really feeling brave, you can take the Extreme Kindness Challenge from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. Commit to doing at least one act of kindness for each day of Random Acts of Kindness Week and share your experience via Facebook, Twitter or the Random Acts of Kindness website.

To get you started, here's a few simple acts of kindness:

  • smile at everyone you see
  • say "thank you" to someone who did something nice for you
  • compliment a stranger
  • pick up trash in your neighborhood
  • hold the door open for someone

Participate in random acts of kindness! We may not be able to change the whole world, but we can certainly change our little corner of it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

15th Anniversary Celebration!

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Mindful Hands! We've certainly seen many ups and downs over the years and weathered many storms.
We've also changed our focus several times and expanded to meet the changing needs of our customers. We started out in 1996 as a Buddhist arts and meditation center then quickly expanded to importing Chinese antique furniture, eventually adding other home and garden accents to accomodate the needs of our growing customer base. In 2003, we expanded to the second floor and morphed into the specialty gift store and community center that we now are.

One thing has never changed: YOU! Our wonderful and loyal customers have stuck by us through thick and thin, ups and downs, and through all of our transformations. And you've brought your friends, family, and out-of-town visitors to see us and share in our little "oasis of serenity in Old Town."

To show our appreciation for your support, we're planning several special events throughout the coming year, including a 15th Birthday Extravaganza in June! To help us celebrate, and to make sure you don't miss out on any of the festivities, join our mailing list now!

Thank you for fifteen fabulous years!