Friday, November 24, 2017

Give the Absolute BEST Pet Portrait!

We love our pets -in fact, as anyone who has loved an animal knows, they become a member of the family. None steal our heart more, none are a better friend or companion.

There could be no better gift for someone who loves an animal, whether they are age 9 or 99, than a beautiful painting of their cat, pup, bird, horse etc.... It can be especially meaningful to someone who has lost them.

WASTE NO TIME clicking on and meet Alicia Irick Cohen, the wonderful artist who is so talented that she does work like this:

She's known for her ability to get your pet just right. You and Alicia can discuss what you want and she will custom make your background - the colors, patterns or setting. But what I like best about her work is that while it's classically done and strikingly realistic, she has a sense of whimsey that can work itself into the portrait if you choose - whether subtly or outrageously. Like these:

Prices vary depending on size and surface. Just give her a photo and she can work without your pet having to pose. She makes it really easy on you and the pet! So you can go from this: 

to THIS!

Now if you have no pets but love her art... or think it would be just perfect for someone on your list. She has a select collection on her ETSY site for IMMEDIATE SALE.  CLICK HERE and you can get the pieces in time for the holiday. She works on canvas and wood, among other surfaces. Both have their appeal.

Alicia does high quality work, and while she can create a finished portrait within your agreed upon time frame, many many hours go into each portrait. The result is lasting, super special, one of a kind. 

Beeline Bike Navigation

An alternative kind of GPS:

Working through an App, Beeline is a simple looking navigator that sits on the handlebars of your bike and directs you like a compass through your rides or it can be hand held while walking. It shows you the direction of your destination and how long is should take, but you get to meander as you like (it will just keep redirecting) or go the shortest distance between points.

It's silicone with a stainless keyring. There are 3 nice hues of red, blue and black. It' priced not in dollars but as 99 pounds with free international shipping. There is a 30 day money back guarantee and year's warranty.

There is a video worth watching but in this age of intuitive instruction (that means figure it out yourself) the video JUST shows you it in action. Helpful none the less.

This is something you might want to explore a little more to see if it's right for you. You can read all about it at BEELINE.COCheck out their blog and user comments to get the best picture of it.

Great Gifts For Him 2017

Searching for gifts for the men in your life? Here's some nearly guaranteed wins:

If he lives where it's cold and doesn't have one of these it's nearly guaranteed to be a sure-fire win: a fleece lined flannel shirt. Men like this kind of comfort -- and it's warm without being hot. It will get them from light needs in Fall through the heaviest winter weather based on how they use it. Alone, or as a jacket (ewith a henley or tee underneath, or under a coat on really cold days where they are shoveling snow, hunting or ice fishing and need warmth without adding bulk. $59-69 with 20% off through 11/28 with code THANKS20 at LLBEAN

Got a Baseball lover? Someone who has memories in a certain stadium - Fenway Park - Wrigley Field - Camden Yards - Yankee Stadium... Give this blueprint of the field and stands with specs and historic moments noted.  From $185-265 at Uncommon Goods.

CLICK HERE for samples of available ballparks

I love henley on men - and this one is special. Comfortable but not baggy, with extremely flattering stitching across the shoulders and yolk, he should secretly love how it seems to broaden his shoulders.  Comes in grey as shown, a reddish called henna, olive, taupe and a really great shade of orange, the current color of the moment. Maybe he'll smile and carry bundles of wood for you. $88 from Sundance.

If your guy works outdoors in boots, or does a lot of outdoor athletics in the winter like hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing, these socks are for him (and her too).  And they are on sale right now which really is a reason to scoop some up.  Smart Wool - here is the basic crew, which comes in many colors - but you can get thicker or thinker, ankle or calf and no color, patterns etc. at $7.99 a pair instead of the usual $18-25. At

TIP: While a small selection of SmartWool socks can be found at many outdoor stores,  I suggest you peruse the Sierra Trading Post site because their prices are 55% off!

Been seeing these all over - from Walmart to Cabella (and often on sale at Marshalls, Kohls, Ebay and even Pottery Barn). A really nice, solid flask that carries a little more than those quick nip glass made traditionally to be slipped inside a sport jacket pocket. This is for a hunting or camping outing or a few hours out hiking or fishing and has a nice feel in hand. Comes in several finishes - I have both the traditional green and  matte black.  If you don't have one of those nearby, just Google it for best prices. Amazon carries them as well at $13.97.

CALLING ALL GOLFERS: All in one cleaning caddy: Built-in/removable spray bottle good for 500+ sprays, washable and replaceable non-scratch scrub pad, brass groove cleaning tools (flat and pointed), fold-out brass brush, recoiling tether (makes it easy to use while tethered to golf bag), and 100% cotton premium golf towel $19.96 ON SALE TODAY from $24 At

All weather sneakers: These must be exclusive to the Sundance Catalogue as I looked for them everywhere on Google - and Sorel - and could not find them anywhere else. Not sure if you like the look or not but the are all weather and comfortable, without looking like tennis shoes.  They have rubber soles and are insulated and their products are known to be lasting - very high quality - so I think worth the price if they are right for your guy, In Brown or Gray as show. $128  from Sorel. 

Denis Leary is a guys guy and he's got a new book out that hits the right note - telling us all to not let politics come between us - called Why We Don't Suck. It delivers his message as you laugh your way through. This could be called a quasi sequel to his last book which was a New York Times best seller.

Get it from Barnes and Noble for 20% off the $22 price through 11/26 with the code GIVETHANKS (more if you're a member). In the video below Denis tells you of 5 other great books he's reading, two of which are also good bets for the guy(s) in your life. 

These IceBreaker base layer shirts and leggings are thin, dry quickly, hold up under laundering (no pilling - and while you can, I don't put them in the drier) and really do keep in warmth and wick away moisture like nothing else I've seen. And they are NOT ITCHY - AT ALL. You can get them in heavier or lighter - these that I have recommended are 200 weight, as pictured below. It's nice to have one shirt that's the 250 weight for the coldest days.

Click HERE for leggings for $67.50  and Click HERE for the Mens Every Day long sleeve crew neck shirt for $52.50 (that's the sale price for both at 25% off till 11/29).

There's more to come.  Pls subscribe by entering your email on the upper right. You will only get one email per evening on days I post. And click through the categories on the right to find more gifts right now!

Cacoon - Hanging Lounger

Take hammock lounging one step further with the hanging Cacoon. This is the coolest! And comes in  five very tasteful colors. 

It comes in two sizes - single and double - and folds flat. CLICK HERE to read all the stats and buy.
for approximately $340- $450From Hang-In-Out.

Family Jammies by Burts Bees Baby

Oh what fun it is to wear PJ's that all match... Better than holiday sweaters, these can be worn all season. Great for photos or to make a tradition out of Friday night Pizza at home or Lazy Sunday mornings. If your own kids are grown, it can be great for any family in your life.

There is even a matching bandana for the dog (or cat, depending on your feline!) for the set below.

Adorable and high quality. There are many kinds to choose from. at Burts Bees Baby.

TIP: THESE ARE ALREADY 50% off for Black Friday sales - so only $10-30 for infants through adult sizes - and  because they were featured on OPRAH's Favorite gifts of 2017, you can get 20% off using code OPRAH.

Light Up Helmut from

This is a GREAT idea from LUMOS - and even if not for the holidays, take advantage of todays black Friday special to get this and save it for a birthday, graduation, or other occasion gift.

Comes in a variety of colors. Looks like  Light up Helmuts are great for being seen in dusk and dark while doing anything that requires a helmut.  But this also incorporates braking and turn signals, to name a few.
Regularly $199 per helmut, today you can get it while supplies last for $149 with no code, and get two for $279 with code BLACK FRIDAYCOUPLE, and four for $549, using the code BLACKFRIDAYFAMILY. Visit LUMOS Helmut

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Beauty Secrets: Give Em!

These products are unique among the staggering selection out there. All make great gifts - for holidays, birthday, mothers day etc... Especially great to gift yourself!

Touted to be the only thing used behind the scenes at the Paris fashion week shows, that was all I needed to know.  I bought several 2.54 fl oz tubes of Embryolisse Lair-Creme Concentre when I was in Paris in October and it's spectacular. It can be used as a face cream, a body moisturizer, a cleansing cream or calming after shaving.  You can snag it on Amazon for $23, but Google around. There are lots of variations. I saw some really low prices then realized it was for a 1 oz size.

Amazon's description says "It is a cleansing and moisturising cream that combines emulsifying and softening agents with active moisturisers while respecting the skin’s natural balance (pH, microorganisms) and encouraging the rebuilding of the hydrolipidic layer (the skin’s natural protection)." Anything formerly called 24 Hour Miracle Cream explains enough!

Also while in Paris, a friend who was looking for the best restorative/anti-aging skin line was directed to a line called Resulttime by Collin Paris. They "provide targeted and optimum solutions to skin aging concerns."  There are many products - moisturizers for face, eyes, and neck, cleansers, scrubs, masks, serums, night creams. You would do best to read about it on the Resulttime's website first, then Google around for what you want.

As I understand it, Vectorised Micro-Collagen is the core of their products varying formulas, which "delivers spectacular regeneration to skin molecules in just 48 hours."

My favorite for sunscreen is Elta MD Skin care.  It's great stuff and I have tried A LOT.  Not only does it block the harmful rays very effectively, it's oil free (not clogging!) and has TRANSPARENT zinc. There are many products that may be good on the site to read about but I am recommending two different products that I personally use.I'm sure if you see one of the other products that fits your needs and skin type you'd be as happy with it as I am.  Google the name as I see prices ranging from $21 to close to $40 on these. I wait for a local dermatologist's office to do their annual July sale on them and stock up. 

UV CLEAR Broad Spectrum SPF 46 which you can wear everyday as my moisturizer, getting real effective sun protection from Zinc Oxide without the chalky whiteness or viscosity. And the best part-- it never irritates or clogs as many face sunscreens tend to do to all of us. This can come tinted (like foundation) or invisible. 

UV SPORT Broad Spectrum SPF 50. Meant for the whole body, it's water resistant for 80 minutes and fine for all skin types. This is a little thicker going on, and is richer for the staying power.  Again, for all the zinc oxide products out there, this company makes it invisible- though it needs to soak in a bit with the Sport version. 

Z. Bigatti Restoration Enzyme Facial Mask - I have been using this for years. It's $125 but if you do it once a month or longer it lasts for a year plus. When I lived in NYC and LA before that I used to get a facial and pay anywhere from $45-60 a pop to add on a fruit enzyme peel. If you add up how many of those would fit into this jar at that price instead, it would be $540-720 for the same. It made my face look brighter and my skin was so soft and fresh.... 

I was a big fan of the original Bliss Spa in NYC when I lived there. This is essentially their  oxygen treatment in a bottle which perks up dull, tired skin. It smells absolutely divine - like fresh oranges and it FOAMS. I keep it in the shower, pump out a little on my fingertips, rub around my face and wait. In seconds it starts to foam up - that's the oxygen molecules and detoxifiers releasing. The foam is delicate, not thickneeds to sitI do the rest of my shower keeping my face/neck and sometimes my décolletage free of the water. Buy on for $56. It will last you for a few years! SUCH a great gift! 

TIP: Bliss has many deals and discounts once we get closer to December 24. Also, it's sold at Sephora, and you can get deals sometimes, especially if you are a member of their program. 

Another truly effective product that I keep in the shower: Neocutis Neo-Cleanse Exfoliating Skin Cleanser 4.0 fl oz. It acts as a cleanser for your face but also eats up the dead surface skin cells which clog your pores. And you can FEEL it working, because it contains 9.9% glycol acid in just the right amount. Key is to put it on a dry or barely damp face - if it is wet, then the glycolic doesn't tingle (which means it's exfoliating). And boy does your cheek feel like it's a baby's bum after you use it.  Fragrance and dye free Seeing prices from $28-32 when I Google.

This shampoo is da bomb. I have hair that's neither truly curly nor silky straight. Left to it's own devices, it can look very frizzy and fly away. Things changed a lot in my hair texture when I began using SOMA Hair Technology weightless shampoo. It adds volume without flattening it down - which is especially great for those with fine hair. The ingredients help to repair hair shafts, bind the cuticle and add volume - and my hair has never been softer! If this sounds like you, give it a try. Or check out the shampoos, conditioners and gels for different hair types. And it's 100% vegan. I buy it by the jug now!  $16 for the 16 Fl oz bottle, about $32 for the 64 oz jug. (Again, Google till you find the right price and supplier for you).

Stay tuned to this blog - there's more to come! 

Friday, November 17, 2017

GREAT GIFTING: Costs Little, Means Everything!

The holiday season is a time where our desire to help others comes front and center.  Been hearing a lot about folks wanting to give less in the way of physical gifts at holiday time in trade for quality time spent together. Here's just a few of my ideas for a way to give a shared experience to each other while giving to others. A TRUE win/win!

Reallocate your gift giving dollars!!

Let’s say you and a friend or family member would normally spend $25 each on each other this holiday. That gives you a pool of $50. Here are some fun and wonderful things to do with it that will be so rewarding there will be no way to measure it!
A. Decide who you know who is needy and will receive it as an anonymous gift. Put it in cash and leave it for the person to discover. Then tell no one that you have done this. Let it be a secret that only you guys share. 

B. Go together to a thrift store and buy $50 worth of warm clothing. You can get a lot for that if you are creative! Combine it with good cast-offs from your own homes. Go together to a woman’s shelter and donate the clothes. I did this once; and when I told the thrift shop woman at St Vincent de Paul what we were doing, she was so happy that she filled up my car to the brim with warm coats for only 50 dollars.

C. Shop for $50 worth of non perishable food for a food pantry. Find ways to stretch that 50 - Mac and cheese, rice, canned tomatoes, boxed milk, cereal, etc.  Even better, decide to max it out by booking a day to serve at the pantry or food together - preferable not on the holidays as people tend to only volunteer then, and they need people all year round! 

Knitters/sewers - why not make hats, socks or gloves for those in need with remnants? It can be fun to run out to find it together, make a goal of how many each will do by a certain date, and keep in touch egging each other on - or get together one afternoon or evening, put on some good music, a football game or Netflix and make them together. The point is to share the experience! 

photo from

D. Buy a gift certificate for a fun place like a local zoo, water park or art studio (i.e.: where you can paint ceramics) and give it - even anonymously- to a struggling family you know who have kids. You can buy a GC online but I'd suggest getting together in front of the laptop to decide what to get together, along with hot cocoa or hot toddies! 

E. Make a themed gift basket for a family in need. Tie jingle bells or add candy canes to make the donation festive. You may even want to deliver it together to the family. Dress up while you're at it!

Or, collect lots of little samples that folks on the street need and put in thick freezer ziplock bags like this. 

Here is a nice list to give you more ideas:

F. Buy ingredients for healthy soup, cookies, little banana bread or zucchini loaves - maybe even pasta sauce... Cook it together and deliver them to an old folks home or a women's shelter. Call in advance to propose the idea - these days you may have to visit in person first so they know you are legit - and get the joy of not just dropping them off but going room to room to deliver them yourselves. Again, a prime time to go in festive dress and bring real cheer along with your homemade goodness. The effect will be priceless. 

Why not also take the time to write a heartfelt note about what the person or people you did it with means to you? The bow on the gift!

Enjoy the gift of building that bond by doing something this meaningful together!

Pls leave them IN THE COMMENTS 
and do good just by inspiring others that way!


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Birth Order Tee Shirts

BINGO!  The truth can be funny... Do you recognize your kids in these descriptions?

Bring a little Tee Hee into your T-shirt collection with these and you will be supporting the fine independent artisans on ETSY to boot! Always a nice thing to do. These from Nesting Project offer  many colors and styles to choose from - kids through adults. A set of three is $42

They have many other tees around birth order - big brother or sister, and options to personalize with names. And I love this one from Nesting Project for only $15.

Or if you have (at least 3) kids - and love tie dye --pick your base color and whether you want 1-5 colors incorporated  (price goes up a little with each) from SoExtraBoutique can be yours.  Great for photos, birthday parties, family outings.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

If you or someone on your list is into tights or hose this is new kind to try: HEIST Tights.

They have a perfect first pair promise that makes it risk free to try them If tights don't fit perfectly, they will exchange for another pair within 28 days of buying it for another size or color.  At $32-42 a pair, if they're amazing, they may be well worth the price. (TIP: FREE delivery if you order 3 or more pair).

There are four styles to choose from, three different degrees of sheer to opaque, 2 different waistbands.

I haven't seen them myself but the look very well made with two interesting features:
The toe seam looks invisible, designed to fit right under the toe line so it does not interfere with peep-toe shoes or bunch up in the box of shoes with a closed toe.

And their unique waistbands --one is hip hugging, the other is high and thick, and both are wide bands. They tout no rolling or pinching and it does look comfortable!

Beyond Heist's first pair promise, other orders have a free refund or exchange in 14 days. That's pretty amazing considering. .

At the time of this post, there is a jet black, a nude in two skin tones, and a fig color.

One criticism I'd have is that their photos, while innovative are very small and there seems to be no zoom feature.

You may know of Wolford - a luxury brand which is moralize $50-70 a pair.  I once bought myself a celebratory pair of the fishnets, telling myself that I deserved them for all the work I do, figuring they would last a very long time. The second wearing they caught on my shoe and immediately created a hole mid-calf. I could not believe it!  I went back to buying $6-12 ones at H&M.

Heist sounds worth the try.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Harbison: Creamy, Tasty Cheese of the Gods!

With the holidays coming up - or just plain old chilly fall and long winter nights -- you need to discover this cheese and stock up for decadent snacking in front of the fire or with a book, TV or a a friend.

Prepare to come back and tell me your reaction in the comments!

From Jasper Hill Farms in Greensboro Vermont comes the cheese I serve to the most refined sophisticated foodies around me...  And regular people like myself!

Harbison presents as an almost liquid, impossibly creamy brie - but you don't cut into it. Instead,  delicately cut the entire top circle off and serve as is. The edges stand up to hold the contents - but what it's made of also serves to impart a slightly woodsy flavor.  You see, when young, the cheese is wrapped in spruce cambium strips - the inner bark layer harvested from trees on the farm.

Inside is the creamiest, rich-tasting ambrosia! It's flavorful without being intense - so whether you prefer bold taste or mild, this manages to please both palates!

Use a knife to spread some on a cracker or scoop some out with a chip or crudite or crusty french bread tips. And think of all the light and fruity or bubbly libations that you could pair with it - I recommend this fantastic rosé, but last weekend we ate it with icy seltzer and fresh squeezed lime.

Be prepared: The first dip into it quickly produces a moan. And people will ask you what it is.


As always, I did my usual exhaustive search to find the best prices for you. If you can do it, I suggest you go straight to the people who make it - because it's important to support small businesses and local farms.  Click  buy it straight from Jasper Hill Farm for $21. At 9 oz, it's great for 4-6 ppl depending on what else you serve. My guy can eat it all while cooking dinner!

I always have one on hand because it's a great thing to bring to special parties or serve to guests.

But, I am obligated to report I saw it at Whole Foods, who had it on sale (said no one ever) for the price of 2 Starbucks Latte's. It must have been getting near it's expiration date.

Winner of Best American Cheese at the World Cheese Awards in BOTH 2015 and 2016.

TIP: It is not a stinky cheese in flavor, but it can be a little stinky in the fridge as time goes on. The outer wrap can look gray or even moldy but that is how it's supposed to be.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Rosé Wine? Oh YES!

I don't know about you, but suddenly this summer I saw bottles and bottles of different Rosé wines on display, front and center.

While I LOVE Billecart Salmon Brut Rose champagne, which I reserve for the most special treat of all treats and so featured here on the blog, I've never considered rosé wine - it seemed to be fruity and light weight and I don't know - just not an option. And I hear this from most people I know.

And then, my friend Donna brought this bottle to a summer BBQ at my house. It was gone in a millisecond and the entire party wanted to know what it was. I posted a photo on FB about it and I barely drink anything. When I did, several people commented they buy it by the case. SO OF COURSE, it deserves a spot on the gift blog.

Commanderie de la Bargemone is light and fruity but very subtle - not sweet and not acidic. It's down right perfect due to a magical blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Rolle, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Counoise, 5% Carignan.

It can be found in many places if you Google - for roughly $16-14 a bottle, and you probably can order it for less at your local discount house - especially if you go in on a case with friends.

And for those of you who care for ratings:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The New Englander Rain Jacket is for Every One.

We've had so much rain in what is already a short summer season, here's a way to cheer up. I found these beautifully made, high quality rain coats in the most incredible colors - you'll do your own rain happy dance to be able to wear it more.

They are made by New Englander, and here are a few places you can find it: Charles River Apparel for $55 or at All Seasons Uniforms for $41.00, and from $31-60 on Amazon.  I got mine while in Kennebunkport. Took me all of four minutes to spot in the window, sail inside, try it on, and give them my credit card!

One thing I really like is how high up the zipper goes (covers my upper lip but leaves me room to breath. Combined with a hood that can be scrunched and secured by toggles to fit rather than flop, it does provide serious protection should you need it in our famous New England Nor'Easters.

But if you live in CA, of FL, or TX the colors alone may entice you! But it can be used while gardening, during whether events or just for warmth on chilly fall evenings.

Also for $55, you can get Mens HERE, though they come in there traditional yellow and navy (a;best with classy contrast color combos at zipper and inside) . Boo. Men should have periwinkle and turquoise too!   If your guy runs hot, you can get a lighter windbreaker in lots of these great colors, which he can roll up to almost nothing. Totally different construction than the jacket I am recommending here - but if you're after quality and color for him, it's just a place to start!

While you're at it, get yourself some rubber boot liners of the same great colors. Spread the cheer! At Charles River for $23!