memory aides

Ok after today I promise a few posts about things other than shopping will be interspersed betwixt and between this gift guide stuff. But for right now, here are a few flash drives for the gadget minded person who still cares about what her toys look like. If you have to transport data, I say you may as well do it in style. And these are the kind of things that people don’t tend to buy for themselves…

This first drive, by Oooms, hails from the Netherlands (of course) and is a perfect marriage of old world craftmanship– each stick is hand made from a unique piece of wood– and technology with 1 G of memory. Check it out here, where it is currently on sale!

Completely different vibe, but no less excellent, these playful dolls are perfect for the collector of Japanese action figures or the hello kitty crew. Available at MOMA, they make a great little gift and are less heavy on the wallet.

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And then there is this amazing looking snowflake stick from a company in Tokyo caled Cina. I can’t read most of their site because it’s in japanese, but if you can, and this thing isn’t too horribly expensive, you shouod consider it. Ain’t no way whoever you are shopping for has this already.

Unless they live in Tokyo…

black humor for black friday

Now why I found these on a kids’ website I could not tell you… these thumb wrestling masks are the kind of thing that could have come in handy on many a late night in my not too distant former life as a childless person with a social life. There is a cartain sensibility that appreciates the esthetic value of the mexican wrestling masks (and it aint all low brow, either– check out the amazing designs of DFCasa, a Mexican studio that merits it’s own future post for sure)

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The children’s site is called Peek, aren’t you curious? and it is well worth a look see. Beyond these brilliant masks, they have great baby clothes and a wonderful selection of books, games and toys (Don’t look nieces! Many holiday gifts may hail from here) All of their gifts are designed to put a smile on your face.

Which is great, because levity is a crucial part of staying sane this time of year!

I heart chopping

So I ran into my friend Dara Caponigro the other day at Soul Cycle, the ultra hip spin (i.e. indoor cycling) studio on the upper east side of Manhattan. I was shooting for a large scale installation I’ve been working on (more on that later) and Dara was there to get her groove on in a class. A veteran shelter magazine editor (Elle Decor, Domino) Dara has perhaps the most elegant taste of anyone I have ever met. So I naturally asked her what she suggested I put in this little gift guide and, funnily enough, the first idea that popped into her head were these heart shaped cutting boards from a British company called Daylesford Organic.

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My first thought is that they would be corny, but knowing Dara as well as I do, I went to the site, checked them out and fell in love with them myself. So beautifully constructed… and I can only imagine how amazing they will look after 20 years of use. A hell of a lot better than some random iPhone accessory, that’s for sure. Maybe you give them in combination with a cheese platter from the Bedford Cheese Shop, one of my favorite local spots. Maybe you just bookmark the link and give it to your main squeeze on Valentine’s Day. But whatever you do, the site is worth a look and you should order a bit in advance as the goods have to be shipped from the UK.

And now, I SWEAR, I will leave the kitchen behind and check out some other gift options. Maybe I’m not getting enough to eat or something…

an awesome book!

My friends Howard Goldkrand and Beth Coleman (of soundlab|cultural alchemy fame) have some of the best taste I ever ever encountered. Seriously. They make great art (see my first blog post) produce amazing events, have a super cool kid and give the best gifts ever.

Like this book they gave to my daughter, by artist Dallas Clayton, aptly titled An Awesome Book. All about the importance of dreaming, it is filled with whimsical and hilarious drawings of candy cane machines and rocket powered unicorns all meant to encourage little people to dream BIG. To be honest, I think I love it more than my kid does, which is great since I’m going to have to read it to her about a million times between now and when she is really reading on her own.

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And because this book is also about spreading the word and making the world a more positive place to inhabit, there is a foundation set up (called the Awesome World Foundation, of course) which is working to promote child literacy by donating one copy of the book to a school, hospital or child in need for every copy sold.

So everybody wins. How’s that for dreaming large?

a lump of coal

We’re still in the kitchen, but this time looking to keep things fresh in the fridge. How much do you want to bet that your family I-own-the-whole-Williams-Sonoma-catalogue chef doesn’t have one of these babies in the icebox? This smooth cube of Korean white charcoal (it only LOOKS black!) acts as a natural air purifier by absorbing excess gasses.

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Available at DWR, it will last for years, uses no chemicals and, when you are finally finished with it, can be crushed and added to planting soil to give your greenery a little something to smile about.

How’s that for a small carbon footprint?

more fun, please!

In a perfect world, you will somehow automatically be able to watch this short and great video about people having a good time with art by clicking here. I am placing my bets on perfection. Lets see if it works.

Woo hoo!! It works. The world may not be perfect, but this little videotaped experience is the perfect way to put a smile on your face today. And it;s not even a stupid joke or pictures of puppies (which I must admit, always make me smile…)

an MKS knife!

While we’re on the topic of cooking, it just so happens that one of my favorite friends from high school (the talented furniture designer Adam Simha) is now designing a brilliant line of kitchen knives that are as pleasant to look at as they are a joy to actually use.

With brightly colored bicycle grips for handles and blades produced in Sheffield, England (a world capital in the knife trade) these old world/new school hybrids will make any serious cook smile.

Just read what the pros have to say, and check out the MKS website for store information or to buy one directly from the source!

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And for the chef who thinks she already has everything, you can also go all out and have a knife custom made, like this beautiful 29 cm Yanagi-ba with an ebony and water buffalo horn handle.

Damn….

Once you have tried a proper knife, you will never go back.

an elegant toy stove

Let the Holiday Gift Guide begin! From now through the end of the season, I will bring you as many cool gift ideas as I can muster (which better be numerous as I haven’t even started doing any shopping for my posse!)

Here’s one for the kids:

 

Some families on this earth are lucky enough to have whole rooms devoted to the toys and entertainment of their children. Playrooms, I think these spaces are called. I wouldn’t know, as I live in a typically space challenged apartment in New York City. Which is why, when considering a toy stove for my daughter, I had to also consider the fact that it was going to be living in our dining room and had to meet the design approval of my very very (dare I say overly?) discerning husband.

 

I found my answer in this beautifully crafted wooden stove by Camden Rose. Truth be told, I saw one at a friend’s place and immediately had to know where she’d found it. She generously pointed me to palumba.com, which is your dream destination for old school and often hand crafted toys for your kids.

 

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Incredibly well made and not overwhelmingly huge (the stove is only 24 inches wide) this is a great compromise in the grown-ups vs. kids design war, without feeling too terribly precious.

They also have this super cute doll bed on sale right now, so go check out the site and think about getting less plastic for your kids this holiday season.

bell horses is music to dream by

Lets get one thing straight right off the bat. I have had a copy of this CD in my possession (and been listening to it on a near daily basis) for months. So while I am happy beyond words that my friend and some time collaborator, the extremely talented Xian Hawkins (of Sybarite) got a glowing review in the Paper Of Record (aka The New York Times) I am slightly annoyed that this entry might now feel a bit like I’m following the pack.

I am not, damn it! I have been a fan of Bell Horses since before they even had a name. So there. Though I must admit that when Jon Pareles refers to this music as a gorgeous disorientation, he’s got a point. It lifts you up and carries you away to some other nearby spot– almost like home, only warmer and with greener grass. Though you need not despair of getting completeley lost in a psychadelic soundscape. There is always a thread of a song, and a downright hummable one at that, to guide you through the complex swirling waves of music that make up these compositions.

Click below to hear it for yourself (and to read me rave on a bit more)

Having worked with Xian myself (here is one of our joint efforts for his band, Sybarite) I know what an amazing thing it is to have your lyrics and melody transformed into an altogether different animal. One that is way cooler than you could have possibly imagined. I can only hope that Jenny Owen Youngs has a similar experience when listening to the fruits of her labor.

Take a listen to some of their music on their myspace page and then I challenge you to try to get the melodies out of your head. And when you realize that you can’t, just be glad that what is stuck in there is not an insult to your intelligence and realize that your day is a much better place to be with these songs as part of your soundtrack.

Run don’t walk to the Bell Horses site to buy the CD or to find out where else you can get it.

a truly great online moment

This is the holding page for my friend Brian Keith Jackson’s website. It is the best holding page I have ever seen, hands down.

Brian is the author of several novels, including The Queen of Harlem, and god only knows how many magazine articles and sundry other writings such as a brilliant introduction to Kehinde Wiley’s catalogue of recent paintings. He is also a great human being, and I am a huge fan of his work and of him. (is that grammatically correct?)

And as far as the wesite goes, the linking is working so we are pretty much back in business. It’s not 11 Nov, tho. It’s Nov 2.

One of these days…..