instant gratification

Back in the good old days, when Domino magazine was still pumping out issues, I wrote a profile about Tessa Edick, co-founder of a brilliant company called Sauces ‘n Love. She and her business partner Paolo Volpati-Kedra turned their love of Italian cooking and entertaining into 2 mouth watering lines of pasta sauces, one of which (sauces ‘n love) lives in the fridge and the other (scarpetta) keeps in the cupboard. And best of all, they both seriously (and I am NOT exaggerating here) taste like you went out to your garden and picked the ingredients yourself before slaving for hours in the kitchen. I was SHOCKED the first time I tasted their tuscan vodka sauce. SHOCKED. Even my gourmet-calibre-chef husband likes this stuff.

And they have gift sets that you can buy for all of the people you really like but don’t know what to get for the holidays. No pantry should be without, and I’m telling you, your friends will thank you when they get home late on a Sunday night after a flight that was delayed for 4 hours and they realize that they can have a sumptuous meal in minutes with minimal effort.

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I know I sound like an evangelist, but getting to share great products like this is why I have this blog in the first place. They use only the finest quality ingredients, hand picked for freshness and then slow-cooked in small batches to preserve the integrity of the flavors. The sauces are all 100% gluten free. And on top of all of that, the jars are made out of BPA free plastic, so they keep the food pure and can be reused for all sorts of fun things once the sauce is devoured.

So buy some to give away, but don’t forget to keep a few jars for yourselves. You won’t be sorry.

HUGE shoe sale

For the next 20 hours or so, the very very talented shoe designer Eileen Shields is slashing the prices on whatever stock she has left in her online store. This includes these amazing show-stopping sandals she designed for Zero + Maria Cornejo. And many other, equally incredible styles. Seriously, you will not find a more beautifully made shoe anywhere. The construction and materials are out of this world, and best of all, you can actually walk in them!

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We have until midnight on Monday the 14th of December to take advantage of these incredible prices (everything is $110!) Though if you’ve missed the super sale, you should still check out the site as the shoes are incredible and the prices are always super reasonable considering the high calibre of the product.

kenny & zuke

Why is it that I fall in love with every place I go in Portland, Oregon? I’m here visiting my uncle (weather: uncharacteristically sunny, but a frigid 23 degrees) and we popped over to this delicious sandwitch spot for a ruben slider and some chili. Billed as a Jewish delicatessen, but with an industrial-slash-farmhouse feel, the sandwiches (and the succotash, which was yesterday’s soup of the day) at Kenny and Zuke’s rock.

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I mean, I don’t even like corned beef all that much, and I LOVED the ruben. And, true to Portland form, the place doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard. It just is what it is. Which is a fabulous, could stand up to any New York deli, spot. Make sure you don’t miss it if you’re ever out here. Seriously. And bring an appetite.

art for the soul

So I’ve taken up spinning. Yep, indoor cycling on a stationary bike with my feet clipped into the pedals listening to Jay Z in the dark while some incredibly in shape and inspiring person urges me on (and 40ish of my fellow NYers) with the aid of a hands free mic.

The full story (as any of you who actually know me must be waiting to hear) is that I have been lucky enough to be commissioned by Soul Cycle, one of New York’s premiere indoor cycling studios, to make a huge (like 18 feet by 6 feet) installation of Polaroids (actually Fuji brand instax images as Polaroid is out of business) for the new studio they are opening in Tribeca. Similar to the Hands piece I did a few years back (see photo above), it’s going to be like a huge family portrait of the community they have built up over the past three years. You can read more about the piece, and the studio, here.

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In the meantime, I feel like I’m keeping Fuji in business singlehandedly, considering the amount of film I’ve bought in the past few weeks… But I am having a blast. And I am very excited for the new studio to open so that I can come visit the wall once it is put into place.

Oh and for the record, this spinning stuff is the hardest exercise I’ve ever done. By far. But it is fun, and I’m getting in great shape. Plus I get to take pictures of it all. What could be better?

connecting the dots

Now this looks to be just a beta version, but Slate has come up with a lyrically beautiful way to follow the news while also helping us to understand how the f*ck all of these people, places and things are connected. It’s called the News Dots Network, and it is a fantastic way to waste untold hours looking up all of the articles in major newsfeeds that mention both Obabma and, say, Congress.

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So instead of figuring out what to get your mother-in-law for Christmas, go spend some time learning about the relationships between Michaele Salahi and the Pentagon. It’s so much more fun, and you’ll have so much more to talk about at the next family event!

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?