Sunday, December 16, 2007

A few of my favorite last minutes things - if you're still looking...

It’s that time of year… Thought I’d offer some great last minute gifts ideas. I’ve organized them in a handy way – they’re designed to go on, go in, and surround friends and family with the best…

One of my favorites. This is a perfect peppermint wake-up and a nod to the holidays – but amazing all year long, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap Liquid is a refreshing gift. Organic ingredients and an eye-opening shower experience, it’s great for face, body, hair…leaves you alert and ready for the day. The 32 ounce bottle is usually around $12.99 and available at Kroger, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and more.

Who doesn’t want happy feet?

British haberdasher Charles Tyrwhitt makes great cotton socks. The navy with pink polka dot socks are a fun accent and, for the moment one sale at $16.00 a pair, not inexpensive, but high quality and uncommon design commands a little higher price. They’re available online. Also available in sky blue with navy dots and navy with sky dots. If you know me – you know I love socks and I love dots. These rock.

Am I dotty? Yes. One of my favorite new retailers Kuhlman has swell polka dot pocket silks.
In black, brown and navy with white dots and other colors with colored dots – they’re currently on sale for $19 and are swell.

POP! Screw the weasel – how ‘bout some moderately priced bubbles to spark the holiday spirit? Good to sip at home with a drop of cranberry juice and a dried cranberry – the Spanish and Italians really bring good sips to market. Sure – Veuve and Roederer rock – but… for less than $20 – and sometimes even less than $10 – these sips shine.

From Italy
Prosecco like the $13.95 bottle from Zardetto or similarly priced Canella Prosecco di Conegliano is great to sip, great with appetizers or fish. The aforementioned two are widely available and are both rather tart with just a hint of sweetness. These bright bubblers both showcase pretty, smaller bubbles. There are a bunch of nice, affordable Prosecco options out there now - from the grocery store to the wine store...

From Spain

Cristalino Brut is a stellar Cava. AND – at around $5.99 or $7.99 a bottle is as easy on the wallet as it is on the palate. It’s available at Cost Plus and Kroger – among other spots. Grab a case if you can, great to have on hand for unexpected guests or for the last-minute hostess gift.

Mmmmm… Ganache! Do you ganache?

Full disclosure – this is a client – but also a GREAT treat to “sip, spoon, spread or melt” as they say. All natural and made without high fructose corn syrup – Chalmers Ganache has come out with a great Taste Trio – a jar of each flavor [Luxe Dark, Ultra Mint, and Mucho Mayan Spice] presented in a swanky brown sueded gift box with a Chalmers blue grosgrain ribbon. Available online and at select specialty food retailers like Naples Gourmet Grocer in Long Beach and Southern Whole Foods Market locations – it’s around $29.99 and makes a sumptuous gift!

Dynamic Dish here in Atlanta has a select few grocery items. It’s an amazingly-curated collection of lovely food items and vintage serving pieces in an organic deli/market on Edgewood Avenue in the historic Sweet Auburn neighborhood. In fact, charming chef/owner David Sweeney clips the fresh rosemary he uses from the bushes at MLK’s Ebenezer Baptist. One of my favorite finds – and at under $5 a great value – is Caber's Seasonello.

From Bologna, Italy - it's an aromatic mix of sea salt, rosemary, garlic, sage and pepper in a shaker jar. The heady blend is just great to sprinkle on veggies before roasting – or to just add a quick seasoning to whatever you’re cooking – this makes a delicious, uncommon gift.

This little treat is more for creating “In” than eating. But the darling ramekin-sized silicone bowls from Le Creuset make a swell prezzy!

Called “pinch bowls” they can be put to use as any ramekin to create the perfect mise en place – and the squeezed to add your ingredients to the dish you’re creating! I found the four-piece set for $9.95 on I am sure they’re also wherever Le Creuset is sold. Neat!

Sights, sounds, sharing…

New favorite person alert!

Not only am I thrilled to be a part of the ATL and love my new home – but – I’ve begun to meet some swell new folks as well. Dejie Johnson is an amazing singer and groovy gal. Her CD is just splendid and ripe with standards. The former voice of both Judy Jetson and Josie (yes – of the Pussycats) – brings it on her CD. Check her out and take a listen. Great gal. Great gift!

What can I say about the woman who guided me up Mulholland Drive and down in high style? Lisa Shaw, oft a muse for Stellar Spanish DJ Miguel Migs, and her long-awaited solo debut album “Cherry” is just one more addition to lush, sexy deep house from Naked Music. This makes a chill gift for your favorite groovster and the soundtrack for a sexy evening! Listen to samples at and purchase for $16.98 at YUM!

Gift cards – are obvious – but do you have a favorite store that you wish all your friends supported? Check and see if they offer gift cards or certificates. I LOVE Aldi and would LOVE to take everyone there and let them spend a little to get a lot. I even wrote about a special shopping trip I made to this fun Euro import. Introduce your friend and family to your favorite things with a gift card.

Are all great ideas, numbers and notes jotted on bar napkins? One fun gift idea believes so...

At $6.99 from the MOMA store – the napkin note book is as fun as it sounds and a nifty little gifty.

See above – but the little $3.99 size of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap Liquid would be a great introduction and a perfect stocking stuffer.

And…in the gift card vein – did you know for $4 you can custom-design a Starbucks card for your favorite caffeinator?! Check it out at

Monday, December 3, 2007

Quick, Fun Party Idea - Why Didn't I Think of That?!

Credit where credit is due... I saw this walking down the street this morning on my way to get coffee...

Someone had taken a children's foam, alphabet puzzle mat and spelled out "Alans Party" in the puzzle was affixed to their balcony along with similarly colored balloons.

LARGE bold type...colorful and fun... What a GREAT idea for your next soiree... Imagine "BRUNCH HERE" or "COCKTAILS" or "BON VOYAGE" Fun!

Not sure Colin Cowie would approve... But - I do!