giving 2016

holiday-2016This year of all years, give the gift of a donation to causes that need our support like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Union of Concerned Scientists, The Sierra Club, NPR, etc… If our government is not going to protect what’s near and dear to our hearts as caring citizens, then it’s up to us to make a difference. Friends and family will understand if donations are a priority and gifts are small this year. With that in mind, here are just a few small gift ideas to help take minds off our worries:

1. No holiday season (or stressful time) is complete without a little chocolate. This bean to bar chocolate company weaves social responsibility into everything they do so you can feel good about this guilty pleasure.  Askinosie Chocolate Peppermint Bark  $30  |   2. Pizza solves all woes. Where to Eat Pizza from Phaidon  $20  |   3. Maybe the future holds something better. Here’s Hoping!  Tea Leaf Reading Kit  $23  |   4.  A little humor goes a long way even if hidden from view. Cheeky Knickers by Naja  $22 each   5.  YOGA!!  Two Toned Mat by Stella McCartney  $71    6. The ultimate mind-numbing puzzle challenge.  500 pc. Gradient Puzzle  $20, avail in 3 colorways.

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end of year project

CookBook PackageA little something I picked up while in New Zealand earlier this year, is now my end of year project. Like most of us, I’ve got a pile of recipes torn out of magazines, a spiral notebook of recipes I started over 20 years ago with no organization and pieces of paper shoved in here and there, and most prized of all are many of my grandmother’s hand written recipes that need a home so they don’t get lost. This Family Cookbook full of blank pages, measurements and cooking times, even pockets and a fill in the blank table of contents, is the perfect catch all for my collection. It’s been staring me in the face since April. The time has come to make it happen.

Blank Page CookbookFull Page CookbookMy Family Cookbook is available in black and red from Suck UK $35

little gifts

Little GIfts 20141. Large truths to inspire you from The School of Life in London & Melbourne. Apprx. $30. All products ship from London so order quickly for the holidays 2. Shoe bling to die for!  Wings, lightening bolts, butterflies and more. $8.95 3. Old-fashioned motel key rings made for home. $6.00 4. His & her tin coffee mugs for the artistic set.  $25 5. The best dot-to-dot book you’ve ever seen. Perfect for plane rides, train rides or just because. $14.95

Click on any number to shop.

getting to know julia

julia_childFrom time to time, something will spark an interest in me to read up on someone or something and learn as much as I can. Several years ago, watching The Tudors television show sparked a small obsession with Henry VIII and I found myself reading up on his dynasty for months (The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George is one of the best novels I have ever read as a result). More recently, watching the film Julie & Julia again for the I don’t know how many-th time, I decided I should probably read the book on which half the movie was based — My Life in France. As interesting as it was to hear Julia’s story in her own words, what struck me most in reading this book was how one consciously starts to plan for the end of life as they age — in Julia’s case, placing her ailing husband in a home to be cared for, closing up their house in France for the last time, deciding to write her story . . . This innocent little book certainly made me think in ways that surprised me.

And this book lead me to another — As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto. An amazing collection of over 200 letters between Julia and her friend/self appointed book agent chronicling their friendship, the reality behind Julia’s major oeuvre, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, as well as life’s daily trials and tribulations for two strong minded housewives in the mid-twentieth century. Letters were their way of getting to know one another as they didn’t actually meet for several years after the correspondence began, so it is a very revealing glimpse into a truly special relationship.

Julia Child ImagesAnd that was all it took for me to be smitten with Julia. One movie, two books and to cap it off (just like in the movie) . . . a trip to the American History Museum this past weekend to see Julia’s real life kitchen in person. Small and chock ‘o block full of well-loved kitchen gear it’s a snapshot of American life, a great American life . . .

Julia Child Kitchen

le shopping

Le Shop GuideSometimes the best point of view on a place comes from somewhere else. This guidebook to shopping in Paris was written by an Australian fashion blogger based in Melbourne and as far as I can tell, Australia is the only place you can get your hands on a copy. I found mine not in Melbourne, but Hobart at the State Cinema Bookstore (AUS $39).

What I love about this book is it gives well researched and proven itineraries for day long shopping excursions around different neighborhoods and includes opening hours, metro stops, web addresses, handy tips & reviews from a trusted voice and nearby distractions like cafes, gardens or even manicure spots. All in a well designed package complete with photos, maps, illustrations and a sense of humor. Exactly what every girl wants.Paris Book Interiors

I’m madly devouring the contents of this book. Who knows, maybe a trip to Paris is in my future . . .

one good sin deserves another

50 shades wineI am not afraid to admit that I read and enjoyed the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. Sometimes a little bit of fantasy goes a long way. But who knew there was now a wine to go with your read? And a pretty good wine at that — taste tested and approved by moi.

I had the very fortunate experience of meeting with the company that produces this wine. They are an amazing bunch of music industry moguls who produce really great wines based mostly on classic rock bands and now, the work of EL James as well as the highly popular Downton Abbey TV show. An afternoon of tasting wines and eating pastries was not a bad day at work.

With this never ending winter upon us, I say hold up inside with a good smutty read and a bottle of Red Satin. What could be wrong with that?

gifts for the foodie

FoodLover

Clockwise from upper left:  Real French bread direct from Poilane Bakery in Paris shipped overnight so it’s fresh. Apprx. $50 including shipping and worth every penny | The Where Chefs Eat book covers low to high end venues all around the world, straight from the mouths of experts  $19.95 | Have cake will travel. This handy metal cake carrier comes in 4 irresistible designs by Cake Boss  $40 | Farm to cone all natural ice cream in the richest, most inventive flavors from Salt & Straw in Oregon. You’re gonna scream!  $65 for a five pack sent on ice | Hand stamped, vintage, silver plated spoons to eat that ice cream with by Beach House Living  $39 pr. | And if that’s not decadent enough poor on the Coops — simply the best, all natural hot fudge sauce with its signature drippy lid, $10

Click image to enlarge

literary loss

Today we lose Maeve Binchy, one of my favorite authors. I have spent hours lost in the intertwined lives of her characters over the years — in novels and short stories alike. If you have never read one of her works, now would be the perfect time as they make great summer reads. Or pick one up on your next vacation and lose yourself in her fantastic Irish world full of friends and family. I can hardly believe there will be no more . . .