Tuesday, December 24, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Days 8-12

Well, perhaps it was a bit too ambitious of me to attempt posting more in three weeks than I had in the last few months combined. So, consider this a dump of the last five days of Christmas posts. I have at 7 a.m. flight tomorrow morning--and if you still have shopping to do, you probably don't have time to listen to me wax rhapsodic about certain gifts anyway--so I'm going to keep this fairly brief. And focused on me.

Day 8: HD Buttercup is the ABC Home of San Francisco, and on one Saturday afternoon when I spent several hours in the store, I vowed to find somewhere to put this fuzzy stool (the store has one with a white base that would look even better in my apartment). I know just the place; it would make a loving nook for my iPhone, which currently sleeps, sadly, on the floor next to my bed.


Day 9: One of my favorite coworkers is totally a shopping enabler, hence why she's one of my favorites. She almost talked me into this Rebecca Taylor bouclé moto jacket, impractical for its color yet totally SF-friendly in its weight. I talked myself out of it...for now.


Day 10: I've been wanting to try Rodin Olio Lusso for ages; it has a huge cult following, and I'm forever in search of something that will give me that I'm-so-rich-I-slept-for-14-hours glowy skin. Not sure if it's the answer, but this lovely little gift set will at least let me do a test run (minus the 14 hours of sleep).


Day 11: I am pretty much obsessed with knuckle rings--I think my goal is to eventually have them on every finger (or at least three per hand). Williamsburg's own Catbird makes the best; here in SF, they sell them at Azalea on Hayes Street, but you can always go straight to the source.



Day 12: To me, there's no greater luxury than having one's hair blown out. If I may confess, the fact that there's a Drybar 4 blocks from my apartment may have had some bearing on the fact that I took it. I have yet to become a regular there, but now that I've received at least one gift certificate, I think this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Day Seven: Pamela Barsky Pouches

Sometimes you need to buy gifts in bulk or for a workplace grab bag or for someone who unexpectedly buys you a gift, so you need one for them at the ready. For all of those potentially awkward situations, I suggest Pamela Barsky's witty zippered pouches. They're on Etsy, they're under $20, and they're easy and fun. They're also quite practical--you can use them for makeup, pens, receipts, or whatever. For the glamourpuss, there's the mascara pouch; for the worrier, there's the important things bag; for the locavore, there's a not-made-in-China pouch; there's even a dude pouch for, well, dudes. Good news for New Yorkers who still have shopping to do: You can purchase these (and many other) designs at the Artists & Fleas pop-up shop at Chelsea Market now through the end of the year. And while you're at it, last-minute shoppers, here's a pouch for you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Day 6: B&O Play BeoPlay H6 Headphones

Back in May, I went to a press event for the debut of Bang & Olufsen's new BeoPlay headphones from its lower-priced B&O Play line. I have no idea how I got invited to this event--everyone else there was a tech reporter and, like, serious--but I fell in love with the headphones and have been looking for an occasion to write about them ever since. And since Christmas is the season of giving (and receiving) things you'd never actually buy for yourself, enter the BeoPlay H6 headphones. I'm going to get this right out of the way: These headphones cost $400. They are not for people like me who have to dig their earbuds out of the bottom of their purse while holding on to the bus pole for dear life, eventually finding them coated with mystery fuzz and Altoids dust. But the H6 are incredibly luxurious, made of an ultra-lightweight aluminum frame coated with sheep leather. The ear pads feature memory foam inside, so they cradle your ears perfectly, lest any sound escape. I can attest that while wearing them, you can't hear people shouting two feet away from you, making them ideal for people who travel frequently, or at least ride the bus through the Tenderloin every morning like, um, I do. There are even more practical features: You can switch the cord to either side, so if you're a lefty, no awkward wrong-hand remote controlling required; if your friend also has a pair of H6s (ha!), you can plug them together and listen to the same iPod at the same time. Now, that's love.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Day Five: Corkcicle

Three months in San Francisco and I've become a total wine snob. Words like "varietal" and "estate" have crept into my vocabulary, and I'm actually considering investing in a wine fridge to keep my babies, er, my collection temperature controlled. Speaking of temperature, I've come to realize what an important role this plays in wine drinking; I've learned that lighter reds (like pinot noirs) are supposed to be served a tiny bit chilled (i.e. straight from the cellar) and that many wines, white or red, can go bad if they overheat. Lest you commit a faux pas while drinking with fellow connoisseurs, there's the Corkcicle. Keep this genius BPA-free device in your freezer, then pop it into the next bottle of wine you open--it lowers reds to the perfect drinking temperature and keeps whites chilled even in summer or at the longest dinner party ever (or during San Franciscans' favorite activity, picnicking). It's reusable, easily transportable, and a mere $25. Friends of mine who drink wine (which, um, is like all of you), you can pretty much expect to receive one of these from me this year. In vino veritas! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Day Four: Shinola Runwell Watch

A dear friend of mine lives just a few blocks away, which makes it easy to meet up for lunch or a drink; as a bonus, this friend loves to shop, has impeccable taste, and might actually dress better than I do. Through this friend, I learned about Shinola, a re-christened company that makes bicycles, leather goods, and watches in Detroit. (Yes, Detroit.) The watches are classic and sporty in that all-American way, with thick, contrast-stitched leather straps and slightly oversized stainless steel cases, each bearing a unique serial number. In other words, ain't no Timex. Good design and noble-minded employment efforts aside, Shinola is dedicated to reviving American luxury manufacturing, a pursuit I fully support. Watches like the Runwell are meant to last a lifetime; at the risk of sounding like Don Draper, this is what American-made products, as few and far between as they are nowadays, should be. A Shinola watch would obviously be an incredibly generous Christmas gift, but in the interest of buying quality over quantity, it would also be an everlasting one. And isn't that what one wants out of a gift anyway?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Day Three: Tegu Blocks

Honduras is a place that's close to my heart--it's where my best friend and her husband live, and I've had three magical visits there. Honduras is also one of the most dangerous countries in the world, with an incredibly high crime rate, political unrest, and and all manner of resulting socioeconomic issues. It's the last place one would expect to find gorgeously simple, sustainable wooden building blocks that kids go nuts for, but it just goes to show that there's always a ray of hope. These Tegu Tints blocks are pretty amazing--they have imbedded magnets, which make them easy for young kids to play with. They're non-toxic (coated with water-based lacquer) and contain no lead or plastic; the wood is sustainably sourced and, even more importantly, the company provides much-needed jobs and child education (as well as tree planting) to Hondurans. On an more immediate level, the blocks are brightly colored, easy for kids to grip, and packable in a cute little felt pouch that's included. (They also come in more ambitious 22-piece, 26-piece40-piece, or 52-piece sets.) And on an even more personal note, the co-founder of the company is married to a woman I went to grade school with (not the aforementioned best friend), proving that no matter how big the world is, it's a lot smaller than you think. And I love that.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Day Two: J.Crew Pajamas

Of the many things I hate about winter, perhaps the worst is forced-steam heat, otherwise known as radiator heat, which most buildings in New York City have the misfortune of using. Not only is it loud and clanging, but it manages to turn your apartment into a sweatbox, drying out your hair and skin and making it next to impossible to sleep. Here in San Francisco, however, I am in full control of my heat--it's a strip along my bedroom wall that I can turn on and off as I wish--and because I'm enjoying the eternal Good Sleeping Weather here, I have yet to actually use it. (I might the next few nights, however, as it's supposed to dip into the 30s, which is causing everyone here to FREAK OUT, as they tend to do when the weather is anything but 65 degrees and partly sunny.) I sleep on top of a featherbed, underneath a down comforter, and I'm as happy as a clam...except I'm maybe a little bit cold. I think what will rectify this situation is a pair of old-school pajamas--a button-down top and a drawstring bottom. I've been scoping them out, and so far my favorites are at J.Crew: the vintage pajama set for her or the slim cotton poplin pajama set for him. Both are clean and simple with contrast piping and supersoft fabric; most importantly, if you order by 12/13, you can get them monogrammed for just $10 (and you all know how I feel about slapping one's initials on stuff). But the best thing about old-school pajamas is that they can work for so many people--I can picture these on everyone from my dad to my best friend. And maybe on myself--one for you, one for me, right?

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Day One: Barneys Holiday 2013 Beauty Box

I'm shaking things up a bit this year with my gift guide. Having left New York three months ago, I haven't been attending press previews and market appointments and thus am not totally spilling forth with gift ideas for everyone on your list. Instead, this year I'm going to pick twelve great gifts and expound upon what makes them so wonderful. They might not come every day, but I promise I'll be done by Christmas (which, side note, is just three weeks away). Let's start shopping!

Today is Cyber Monday, which, if you have an email address, you are likely aware; I think I had 152 messages in my "shopping" filter by the time I got to work at 9 a.m. Cyber Monday got its yucky name from the common wisdom that people start their holiday shopping online once they're back at work the Monday after Thanksgiving (this term was apparently coined in the dark days when people didn't have computers at home and used words like "cyber"). It has evolved into a barrage of one screaming deal after another, and if you're a bargain hunter, it's certainly a good time to shop. For the record, I only bought one thing today, mostly because I was overwhelmed and turned off; I felt like the drunk girl in the bar at 1:45 a.m.


So as an anthesis to all that, today's gift is something that was not discounted and likely will never be: Meet the Barneys New York 2013 Holiday Beauty Box. Filled with a generous sampling of some of the best names from Barneys' beauty department, the box features mainstays like Creme de Mer and Kiehl's avocado eye cream, cult favorites like Koh Gen Doh cleansing water and Lipstick Queen lipstick, limited-edition products from Bobbi Brown and Jay-Z, plus particularly intriguing fragrance sample sets from Le Labo and Eccentric Molecule. If this was the only gift I got for Christmas, I'd probably be ok with that; considering it's $850, I think it literally would be, if everyone with whom I exchange gifts pooled their money and maybe robbed a bank too. The irony is that the beauty box technically is a bargain--according to the description, it's an $1800 value. But, like beauty (oh, see what I did just there?), maybe bargains are in the eye of the beholder.