43 articles

Gifts for the people in your life who are really into cooking, eating and just being around nice food

Photo tk

Photo by James Ransom

Because you want to keep your bread, veggies, pasta etc fresh but you are trying oh so hard to stay away from plastic. And also because you want the inside of your fridge to look all cute and full of striped bundles and whatnot. Bee’s Wrap (set of 3 sizes) $24.

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Because we all need a place to store our knives, but most of us don’t have a magnetic knife rack made of wood, now, do we? Cherry Magnetic knife rack, $45.

Photo courtesy of Gather Journal.

Photo courtesy of Gather Journal.

Because what part of a book called Chicken Makes the Ice Cream Taste Better (written by Harlem middle schoolers about their experiences with food and the Edible Schoolyard Program) don’t you want to read? At 826NYC.org, $15.

Photo courtesy of potterandwoodsworth.

Photo courtesy of potterandwoodsworth.

Because… well… just because these plates are really nice and will make your table feel special without being all precious and overly formal, if you know what I mean. White Lace Dinner Plates by potterandwoodsmith on Etsy, $18.

Photo tk for Food52.com.

Photo by Rocky Luten and Alpha Smoot for Food52.com.

Because it’s rugged (waxed cotton) and grey (the new black) and long (because we’re messy) and will last forever (which is always a good thing). Grey waxed canvas apron, $150.

Photo courtesy of The Brooklyn Larder.

Photo courtesy of The Brooklyn Larder.

Because it’s like a book of the month club, but for cheese. But even more useful than literature because now, when folks just show up all unexpected like, you will actually have something to serve them. Brooklyn Larder Monthly Cheese Club, from $199.

5 great gifts you can get right now on Etsy

Felt gnome and mushrooms set by BlueRooster Arts on Etsy

Felt gnome and mushrooms set by BlueRooster Arts on Etsy

Ok first off, here’s a little thing you may not have known about me: I am a sucker for tiny handmade felt figurines. I love them. I have not gone whole hog, acquiring dozens of the little creatures and placing them all over our house, but if I were to go into someone else’s home who had such a display, I’m sure I would throw my hands in the air and squeal with delight.

Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, I wanted to start my own holiday gift guide season with a few ideas from the one and only center for all things handmade: Etsy. Because the sellers are just regular people, and not Amazon Prime, one has to be a bit more organized when ordering from them. But at this point we still have plenty of time to get the gifts to where they need to be. So now is the time to troll Etsy for the good stuff. And maybe even get something personalized while you’re at it!

First up (above) the felt woodland figurines. Maybe they are a gift, or maybe they are destined to become part of your own home decor. I like the gnome, but there are others to check out as well. Lovingly made in Montana by BlueRooster, $20.

indigo shiboro napkins by shoppromisedland on etsy

We need new napkins and I totally want these, which are linen and hand dyed using the ancient Japanese shibori technique. Just in case there are any people out there looking to give me something for the holidays. Made in Massachusetts by ShopPromisedLand, $32.50.

glass teapot etsy

I’m not quite sure I understand how this teapot is “handmade”, but it sure is pretty. And that’s gotta count for something right? This comes to us via Unihom in the UK, which might be slightly inconvenient, but hey– they ship worldwide, so who’s counting? $24.50.

memory game o etsy

This is one of those memory games that you play with your kids before they can read and if you’re me, your kids actually do much better than you because your memory is shot. Hopefully, you are not me, and you will kick your kids’ a**es. Regardless, this version is handmade by fourthavenue in Minnesota and if you get in touch with them, you can even customize the game with imagery of your choosing! $12.

log ipad dock etsy

I mean, if this wooden iPad dock and charging station doesn’t have ETSY written all over it, I don’t know what does. This is the kind of thing that the online emporium of handmade is all abut. Plus who else do you know who has one of these? I rest my case. Handcrafted from barnwood by valliswood in Croatia, $80.

Father’s Day is around the corner (again!) so here are a few ideas to get the wheels turning…

cord storage on OKL

Because there is no reason not to give him the gift of organization along with a lovely object made out of leather? Leather cordito cord wrap, $39.

photo courtesy of Fodd52

photo courtesy Food52.com

Because it’s always good to upgrade to the Japanese version of just about anything. Contemporary Japanese shears, $58.

Photo courtesy of penaddict.com

Same thing goes for this pencil holder. Midori brass bullet pencil holder, $21.

Photo courtesy of handeyesupply.com

Photo courtesy of handeyesupply.com

Because even if he has everything, he probably does not have super stylish and larger-than-life paperclips. Areaware oversized paper clips, $10.

ceramics bible

Photo courtesy of handeyesupply.com

Because for some reason, my husband is suddenly really into ceramics and stops to carefully examine all pots, bowls and mugs he encounters. And as I always say, embrace the obsession before it strangles you. The Ceramics Bible, $40.

siracha2go

Because who doesn’t want a little hot sauce with them at all times? Siracha2go keychain, $5.99.

oak street boots

Photo courtesy oakstreetbootmakers.com.

If you know his size, you should get him a pair of these boots. And if you can’t buy then yourself, you can at least point him in the right direction by telling him about Oak Street Bootmakers. Natural trench boots, $426.

Monday, Monday– or links to a few things you might want to get your mom (or wife, or sister, etc…) for Mother’s Day

good eggs flowers

A bouquet of seasonal flowers ($29.49) because, well, she deserves a little fresh beauty in her life.

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A self watering planter ($100) because no one really wants to have to check on the potted plants every day, but everybody likes a little green in the house.

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What mother has not secretly (or not so secretly) wished for a bottle of Magic Energy Spray ($16) to her her get through the tough times?

jil platner bracelet

Is there ever a bad time to give her a silver bracelet (from $285) from Jill Platner?

gretel home watering can

A watering can upgrade ($68) is never a bad thing.

ion water bottle

Pour some water (or wine, or whatever you’re drinking) into this Shigaraki ion bottle ($40) and the radium minerals in its glaze change the ion content. Which makes everything taste more delicious and is evidently much better for us. We should probably get two of these and keep one for ourselves.

Holiday Gift Guide Part 4: Oh my God, what am I going to get my (fill in the blank) for Christmas?

If they spend a lot of time in the kitchen…

bamboo bread knife

How much do you want to bet that your office-mate who is really into cooking already has a bread knife made of bamboo? I’m going to say 10% chance, tops. And if they do, they probably also have a second home so they need two of them anyway. Bamboo bread knife, $12.

live wire farm spoons

While we’re on the topic of wooden kitchen tools, these are my all time favorite spoons ever. They are the kind of thing Pa lovingly made for Ma in their little house on the prairie. But in real life they’re made by the incredibly talented father of one of my most remarkable friends (who is a fine woodworker in his own right). I would like to be more like them and make all sorts of stuff by hand. But instead I’ll just buy their goods and so should you. Live Wire Farm Spoons, $10 – $50.

If they like making electronic music but are also into the olden days:

OP-1 synth

It’s a full blown synth that is totally portable, looks great and is reasonably priced for what it is. A stocking stuffer it is not, but the kid/wife/bandmate who gets this under the tree is going to be a very happy camper, I can tell you that right now. OP 1 Portable Synthesizer, $849.

margiella feather pen

And come on, wouldn’t the desk that had this feather pen sitting next to the above mentioned synth be amazing? These two objects should come as a package. Maison Martin Margiella Feather Pen, $68.

If they like to ride bikes:

folding bike helmet

There are not a lot of attractive bike helmets out there, but this one is cool because it collapses, so you can fit it into your bag and take it in with you after you’ve locked the wheels up outside. Which means that you are more likely to wear the helmet in the first place. So this is kind of like giving a person the gift of safety without being at all preachy about it. Folding Bike Helmet, $139.

If they believe in fairies:

cedar sandalwood incense

I’ve seen incense sticks and incense cones and pieces of wood that burn like incense, but never incense made of rope. This stuff kicks the whole incense thing up a notch, which is what it very badly needs. Cedar Rope Incense, $12.

goodnight dust

Sprinkle a bit of this magic fairy dust into your tea at night and it will tranquilize your blood flow, detox your pancreas and promote beautiful dreams. No seriously, it will. I promise. In fact, maybe we should all just get this for ourselves and then the world would be a happier place full of well rested people who like to paint moons and stars all over their packaging. Goodnight Dust, $55.

If they like to collect things like ashtrays and art:

yayoi_kusama towel

A limited edition massive beach towel designed by Yayoi Kusama. Enough said. Beach Towel, $95.

saya woolfalk print

Or maybe you might want to lead somebody, via a limited edition print, into the mystical, brightly colored world of Saya Woolfalk which is full of detailed drawings of fantastical artifacts and messages that stretch our ideas about cultural boundaries. No Placean Anatomy (Human/Plant/Animal) by Saya Woolfalk, $1200.

And then, of course, if they are a spy:

clip tool

Any female James Bond shouldn’t be caught out without a hairclip that doubles as a saw, screwdriver, wrench, ruler and trolley coin (whatever that is). Mini Tools Clip by Clippa, $9.99.

Holiday Gift Guide Part 3: If you were shopping for my husband, here’s what you should get him for Hannukah

If you’re looking for a gift for a man (or a woman for that matter, as most of these gifts are gender non-specific) who is really into design, loves to make things and claims he wants nothing but socks for the holidays, you might find some ideas here…

humidifier

What is this, you ask? Why it’s a chimney humidifier, of course. This is exactly the kind of thing my husband loves. He will happily toss our current, more mundane model into the landfill (I will then have to rescue it and donate it to some organization or something) and replace it with this sculptural number. On the one hand, he is really picky. On the other, quite easy to please, if you know where to look. Takeshi Ishiguro Chimney Humidifier, $200.

german chalk

Like, for example, he would be just as excited about this chalk from Germany. Because they bothered to design lovely packaging, because the chalk comes in all sorts of subtly refreshing colors and (most importantly) because it’s a little more difficult to come by as it hails from… well… Germany. Schulkreide Champagne Colored Chalk, $12.

hermes pen

And while we’re on the topic of writing…

Finally!! The pen we’ve all been waiting for!! OK maybe I haven’t been losing sleep for years wondering why Hermes hadn’t made a pen, but now that it’s here I’m thinking it’s exactly the kind of instrument that the Duke of York or some French Count might keep in his jacket pocket for jotting down notes about some large scale outdoor sculpture that he might want to purchase at Art Basel. And who doesn’t want to feel like that? Hermes Nautilus pen, $1350.

stool MOMA

Here is the perfect stool upon which to sit whilst contemplating just how Marc Newson managed to design a ballpoint pen that costs over a thousand dollars. It’s made out of cardboard, looks great, involves some simple assembly (which helps us feel like we are master builders) and is reasonably priced to boot. Riki stool, $45.

boot rescue

This is the kind of gift that can only really come from your wife (or maybe your mother, but then it would feel slightly annoying for no good reason) It’s not beautiful, it doesn’t automatically make you feel relaxed or stylish… and yet it is exactly the kind of thing your loved one will be sooooo happy to have in his life. Sometimes the little things are the best. Boot Rescue, $6.99.

moma power cube

If, hypothetically, you were married to the type of person who is kept up at night fretting about unsightly power cords, this is the gift for him (or her). It takes up way less space than the standard variety and kind of looks like it could be R2D2′s cousin. PowerCube, $20.

gold flatware food52

photo by James Ransom

So at Provisions, Food52′s lovely online retail shop, they have a special gift section for the cook who has everything. Not that we are anywhere close to that, but I am of course curious, so I check it out… and lo, there it is: the golden flatware I have been waiting for. Waaaaaay less expensive than the Hermes pen, and yet every bit as much a tool that might be found on the Sultan of Brunai’s table (if he were a minimalist). Gold Flatware set, $120.

jill platner cufflinks

And maybe he’s fancy, but really cool and understated so he doesn’t want gold flatware. In that case, go to Jill Platner and get him these cufflinks which he probably doesn’t already have and which are way nicer than the ones he usually wears (unless he has some amazing vintage set from his grandfather in which case you should just get them anyway because a man’s gotta be modern every once in a while…) Jill Platner belly button cufflinks, $305.

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Just FYI, unless otherwise noted, all gift guide photos come courtesy of the websites that you will visit in order to purchase the the items. In case you were curious…

Monday, Monday– or links to a bunch of other people’s excellent gift guides

one kings lane gift wrap

I have not gotten it together to actually start wrapping gifts yet, so this lovely package comes courtesy of One Kings Lane. Check the bottom of this post for the link to learn how to make these beautiful ribbon-flowers…

We’ve all basically got one more week to get it together and buy everything for our loved ones before school gets out and all bets are essentially off. Unless you want to take your kids with you into midtown on a desperate search for something your father-in-law might like… but that would be utter madness.

I will, I promise, continue to flood you with my own gift guides for at least the rest of the week, but I thought I’d start things off with the traditional Monday links post, this time pointing you towards the lists from a few of my favorite shopping gurus. Enjoy…

Joanna Goddard’s A Cup of Jo Holiday gift guides might just be the gold standard in thoughtful, quirky, out-of-left-field-and-yet-right-on-target ideas for holiday shopping. Each year she breaks it down into specific lists for specific people and just about everything she puts up would make an amazing gift. (Her 2013 guide is worth checking out as well!)

Kim France (fearless leader of Girls of a Certain Age) is a total grown up, with a sense of humor and impeccable (but not overwrought) taste to boot. So who better to turn to when looking for a luxurious gift for that special someone this season?

Coos and Ahhs is probably my favorite site for little kids– My daughter has largely outgrown it’s content, but I still have friends and family with younger kids, so I always check out what they have to share.

This might surprise you, but Esquire has always done me right when it comes to serving up gift ideas for the discerning man.

God bless The Cut for posting (just a few minutes ago) a list of 50 chic, last minute gifts all under $50. Because it’s about to be the last minute, so we may as well stop fighting and go with the flow.

Shopping for someone who is always on the road? Refinery29 hooks us up with a list of items that are perfect for the stylish traveler.

Leave it to Grace Bonney of Design Sponge to come up with a brilliant list of gifts that don’t involve buying anything. More of this spirit for 2015, please!

ps: Check out this video on One Kings Lane to learn how to create a ribbon rosette like the one in the photo above!

Holiday Gift Guide Pt 2: A few ideas for the little people in your life

puro puzzle

First off, you can just feel good about buying anything at the Smithsonian Institute. Your kid will automatically be on the direct path to being a genius with anything you find there, right?

Even if not, they will have a blast building and creating with these blocks. Colorful, so they’re cheerful. Made out of cardboard, so they’re light (which means they are light weight and compact enough to take them with you on vacation… ) and with the 18 round and 48 square pieces, you can build just about anything. Puro Puzzle, $49.99.

casagami solar nightlight

While we’re on the topic of cardboard, what about this miniature house aka night light for a little something? Solar powered, so you never have to worry about your carbon footprint or getting new batteries. Casagami solar night light. $12.

georgie porgie thank you notes

Now I am all for kids learning to write. I also love how the letters look on a card or a page when the little author is just learning how to make them. I am also all about the thank you note, in it’s traditional pen-and-paper format. But sometimes getting one’s 5 year old to settle down and write a note can feel harder than negotiating peace in the middle east.

Enter the Georgie Porgie Thank You Notes For Beginners kit. Kids get to choose from a selection of stickers of words, phrases and pictures and can structure their own collage style message. Suddenly, writing Aunt Lucie becomes a game rather than a chore, and positive feelings become associated with thank you note writing, thus making the whole situation easier the next time around. Georgie Porgie Thank You Notes For Beginners Kit, $24.

crystal growing kit

The Exploratorium in San Fransisco is quite possibly the best interactive natural history/science/art/discovery museum in the world. Not that I’ve been to all of them, but after a day at this place, I don’t see how it can be beat. And their gift shop is full of all sorts of treasures for kids.

Like this crystal growing kit. There’s something for everyone… an experiment for the little scientist, mystical purple gems for the little fairy, the chance to build shapes like octahedrons and pyramids for the little mathematician, hours of occupied kids for the parents… a dream come true. Thames & Kosmos Crystal Growing Kit, $35.99.

chair game

Speaking of building shapes… these chair/blocks have always captured my attention (as I have a little architect in residence) and I have never gotten them. Perhaps this is the year. Look how great they are. Just think of how many crazy structures you can build with them. And they also serve as the perfect place for the fairies/toy mice/elves to sit when they have to gather for important meetings or puppet shows. Chairs Game, $80.

takashi-murakami-flower-pilow-rainbow

I have always imagined that Japanese artist Takashi Murakami is one of the happiest people on the planet because his work is so consistently joyful. I also love him because he makes “decorative” art (aka stuff you can actually use) and this flower pillow is a perfect example. Imagine how happy your little kid (or your friend’s kid or your nephew or whatever) is going to be if their brain gets to develop in the presence of such exuberance. And then in 15 years you can always sell it to help pay for college… Flower Pillow by Takashi Murakami, $399.

DIY Instrument Kit

As a lover and maker of music myself, I admit to being a bit of a hard ass when it coes to what kind of noise makers are allowed into our house. Toys that played that cloying electronic beeping music and had flashing lights were disposed of immediately. Or their batteries were removed, at the very least. Encouraging kids to generate their own music is a different story entirely.

Enter the DIY Instrument kit, that uses light to make music. You solder together a light sensitive board and then use two intersecting beams of light to control volume and pitch. DIY Instrument kit, $23.50.

wildcraft game from learning herbs

I will go on at length in a future post about the excellence of the Learning Herbs website and all of the incredible amazing things you can learn about herbs just by paying them a visit every now and again. But this is not the time for all of that. Right now is all about holiday gifts for the kids. So just make it easy on yourselves and get them Wildcraft, a cooperative board game that teaches young people about herbs while they are having a fun adventure climbing up an imaginary mountain behind their all-knowing grandmother’s house. And unless you are an herbalist, you will most likely learn a thing or two yourselves! The drawings are lovely, the game encourages players to work together as a group, you start to learn how to identify plants without even realizing it… What’s not to love?. Wildcraft, $37.

Hazel Village Lucy Owl

Here’s the thing that’s great about stuffed animals… especially ones that are kind of like humans and as such can sub in as make-pretend babies in a pinch. They are great gifts for tiny babies. They make the nursery look cute, you’ll probably spend more $$ on them than their own parents will (because you only have to get one thing for the kid), the babies sleep with them, drool on them, drag them around, etc etc. Then, for awhile, they become more decorative than anything else. But just when you start to think that the time for stuffed animals is over, inventive play comes back into full swing, and suddenly cities are being built for them, whole narratives spring up around their particular personalities, your kid actually starts to make things like clothes and furniture for them… it’s a whole rebirth.

So the lesson here for new parents is: buy good quality stuffed animals and dolls because they are going to be around for longer than you think. And we, as friends of aforementioned new parents, have a duty to supply our sleep addled fellow parents with some quality fabric companions for their little ones. Like this super cute Lucy Owl, who by the way is wearing the lovliest little skirt and bonnet you’ve ever seen. Hazel Village Lucy Owl, $39.

The 2014 gift guide begins now: Chapter 1– Help us feel beautiful, please

Vintage Black Glamour by Nichelle Gainer

And maybe hook me up with this dress while you’re at it…? Photo of Eartha Kitt from the cover of the new book Vintage Black Glamour by Nichelle Gainer

We are officially well into the holiday shopping season. So far into it, in fact, that panic has started to set in. Yesterday, it was October. Today, we have essentially 45 seconds before Hanukkah and a minute and a half to get ourselves together for Christmas (we do both in our family.)

How did this happen? Or perhaps the better question is… why does this happen EVERY YEAR? When will the lessons of the previous year sink in and inspire me to start buying holiday gifts in September like organized people who have assistants and use Siri on their iPhones and know how to fold fitted sheets?

Perhaps never. But at least I have some good ideas when it comes to what to give people and I’m happy to share them. For the rest of this week (and maybe into next week, too) I will flood you with all sorts of thoughts about what you might want to be getting your loved ones (or better yet, what you should be asking your mother-in-law to get for you!) for the holidays. Please enjoy, and if you have any great things you’d like to add, don’t hesitate to put them into the comments. I am always looking for new things to ask for…

Today, in honor of the cold and relentless rain, is all about beauty.

monk oil

Monk Oil is my newest obsession. This subtly scented body oil is formulated especially to help us to thrive in the city (and we NYC folks sure could use all the help we can get)! It’s got avocado and apricot oils to moisturize, cedar and lavender to ground and energize, rose otto to lift our mood and yarrow to ward off environmental toxins. But my favorite part is the tiny rose quartz crystal hiding inside of each bottle to help harmonize the whole mixture.

Mixed and bottled on full and new moons, it feels like you are spreading a little but of magic onto your skin whenever you put it on. And it’s brand new, so your wife/brother/sister-in-law probably doesn’t have a bottle already. And if they do, I bet they won’t be bummed about having a bit more.

spa heroes beauty subscription

There are zillions of beauty products out there, but many (if not most) of them have harmful ingredients that might make us feel good for a minute or two, but are really doing harm to our bodies long term. And how are we to know which products are entirely safe? Enter Spa Heroes, a brilliant and reasonably priced subscription service that has done all of the research for us and is ready to help us clear out our medicine cabinets and restock them with the kind of stuff that… well… Gwyneth would probably use. (Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.)

Every month has a theme: November was all about being luminous, while December’s selections are all about mood and memory. A box arrives at your doorstep with at least one new full sized product (moisturizer, cleanser, scrub, etc) plus a sample or two with no toxic ingredients. There is also a beautifully designed fold-out card with information about the ingredients and benefits of the expert selection plus tips on how to best use your new prize. You use the products, fall in love with them and then can restock (at a discount!) at their online store. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving…

skinny skinny glowing skin kit

Skinnyskinny is one of those shops in my neighborhood that is next to impossible to leave empty handed. They have their own line of beauty products, all totally natural and handmade, plus they sell little plants, candles, and the Best. Lip balm. Ever. But if I were to be getting a gift from these guys, I’d want the “Luminous You” gift set, which includes cleanser, toner, moisturizer and scrub. That way, I could immerse myself in their universe and come out all glowing and whatnot.

red flower hinoki mint mineral bath

Anybody who knows me (or has read this blog for longer than a few weeks) knows how much I love Red Flower. It is far and away one of the best beauty companies out there. Using their products is like drifting into a fairy bath of rose petals and lavender, with magic fingers giving you massages and splashing your face with mystical serums… I could go on forever.

To be perfectly honest, if you were shopping for me, you could go to the Red Flower store or website and pick anything, wrap it up, and give it to me for the holidays. I promise you I would be thrilled. Today, as I look out over the dark cold rain, I am fantasizing about a nice hot bath, so the Hinoki Mint mineral bath soak comes to mind. It’s both soothing and uplifting, and it always leaves me feeling like I’ve just spent an afternoon at some expensive spa in Costa Rica. Which, I might add, is a beautiful feeling to have.

ever brooklyn lavender hydrosol

Last, but not least, comes the hydrosol. Now mind you, I didn’t have the faintest idea what a hydrosol was until my friend Fannie McWatt started her aromatherapy company Ever Brooklyn, but now that I’m in the know I have become a true believer. There is nothing like spritzing your face with a light mist of lavender and feeling this fragrant herb regenerate and renew your skin as it calms your mind.

Another thing I really don’t need but totally want regardless

wooden rulers by Hay

Do you think if you get rulers like these, your kids would automatically understand the metric system of linear units of measure?

OK so part of my (seemingly endless) de-cluttering project has involved discovering just how many versions of single items I actually have. Lets not get into how many blank pads of paper (of various sizes) or scotch tape, or half empty bottles of Elmer’s glue, or scissors I have unearthed… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Turns out I have 4 or 5 rulers, of various sizes. But none of them are as happy as these Geo-metric rulers by Hay that my evil husband had the nerve to point out to me the other night. He claims to want to help me to minimize my possessions, but I’m not so sure. Luckily, the site is in the UK, so maybe I can’t get my hands on them after all.

Oh no wait, they ship internationally, for a small fee.

Rats…