Local painter Tami Curtis-Ellis turned Hope Floats, a painting inspired by Hurricane Katrina, into a poster and T-shirt with proceeds from the sales of those items going to Habitat for Humanity, Craft Emergency Relief Fund and other organizations serving Katrina Survivors. Donations for posters range from $150 to $550 and T-shirts $30. They can be ordered, or tax-deductible donations made, through www.hopefloatsnola.org. Restaurateur Vicky Bayley and Blain Kern Studios were so impressed with the painting they designed a float around it that appeared in the Nokia Sugar Bowl Parade.
New Orleans Gem and Lapidary (527 St. Philip St., 524-9595; www.neworleansgem.qpg.com) is open and stocked with beaded, knotted, ready-to-wear necklaces in a surprising array of gemstones as well as sterling silver and gold jewelry, one-of-a-kind designs, gemstone-carved animals, gazing balls, fossils, gemstone-chip necklaces, agate bookends, petrified palm jewelry and more.
Oliveaux (5422 Magazine St., 899-8120; www.oliveaux.com) has received two new fragrances for Alora Ambiance room scent diffusers: the limited-edition Rosa, a mix of fresh rose and musk; and Caldo, which mixes amber, patchouli, sandalwood and vetiver. The diffusers use a wicking device of sticks that absorb the scents and release them into a room while also looking artistically sculptural. Large diffusers of both Caldo and Rosa are available for $76 each, and a smaller to-go version of Caldo is $45.
Habitat for Humanity has opened a large new ReStore (1400 N. Lane, Mandeville, 985-893-3172) that will offer new and recycled building materials at 30 to 70 percent off retail prices. The donated items come from salvagers, homeowners, contractors and building material suppliers. Habitat for Humanity uses proceeds from the store to help build houses for people in need. Habitat also operates a ReStore at 2830 Royal St. (943-2240) in New Orleans and 919 N. Columbia St. (985-893-3172) in Covington. Call those stores for days and hours.
Rubensteins (102 St. Charles Ave., 581-6666; www.rubensteinsfashion.com) will expand its women's fashion offerings in February with designer handbags from Kooba, a favorite line of Hollywood stars. The store also will carry handbags by Isabella Fiori, Rafe, Trina Turk, and others.
Fashionistas who know a good shoe and handbag can make an outfit will love the new show opening at Thomas Mann Gallery I/O (1812 Magazine St., 581-2113; www.thomasmann.com) Saturday, Feb. 4 — and a silent auction and raffle of limited-edition handbags by Coach. The exhibit will feature artists who designed handbags and shoes as wearable artifacts, using precious gems, gold, found objects and unusual materials. An opening reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 4 will include the auction and raffle, with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity. The gallery's regular hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Whole Foods Market Arabella Station (5600 Magazine St., 899-9119) will reopen Wednesday, Feb. 1, with customers receiving free product samples and lots of good things to eat. Customers also can pick up a special recipe booklet, which includes previously secret Whole Foods recipes for favorites such as Sonoma Chicken Salad, that had been printed for the store's 25-year anniversary in September, a commemoration canceled due to Hurricane Katrina.