Sunday, November 29, 2015

Give Blue Apron Delivers Fresh Ingredients and Recipes to Your Home

Blue is an interesting gift idea -they are not just sending you food, but an experience.

  • Discover exciting, seasonal recipes created by our culinary team & renowned guest chefs
  • Recipes never repeated in the same year
  • Meals are 500-700 calories per serving and take 35 minutes to prepare
  • Ingredients are perfectly pre-measured so there’s no waste
  • Cook with seasonal ingredients that are fresher than the supermarket
  • Discover specialty products that are hard to find on your own
  • Free delivery nationwide
  • Choose a delivery day that best fits your schedule
  • Ingredients arrive in a refrigerated box so food stays fresh even if you’re not home

You can cancel at any time. This would be a great gift to get them started and let them decide if they want to continue. If they don't, they've still had a great couple of meals - cooking with friends or loved ones, or welcoming the break from grocery shopping and meal planning for the time you gave them. WIN WIN!

Billion Book Gifts: Download 50 Kids Picture Books FREE

ustyme and Reading Is Fundamental are partnering to gift one billion free e-books to families throughout RIF's 50th anniversary. From December 1, 2015, anyone can receive a personal library of 50 high quality children’s picture e-books by visiting 

Titles are available in English and Spanish, with the ustyme digital learning app transforming tablets, smartphones and computers into interactive reading devices. Children can read the e-books on their own, with a family member, or use the ustyme app to share stories across the miles through an integrated live video call facility.
The Billion e-Book Gift is completely free, with no advertising or fees of any kind. Help RIF and ustyme spread word of the largest e-book gift in history by posting a link to the website on social media including the hashtag #billionebookgift, and come back December 1st to download your personal library of 50 free e-books!

Give Amazing Art from Rocco's Photo Tavern

Rocco's Photo Tavern is having a 25% off sale! You can go to Rocco's Photo Tavern while in your pajamas at home or on your lunch break at work -- whatever works best for you. Take advantage of his Holiday Sale. All orders 25% off. No Minimum or Maximum. Just add the sale code WW2015 and your good to go.

I see Rocco's art hanging in many shops around town and this is a great deal. I lusted after one I saw in a restaurant window last Christmas and got lucky enough to get it as a gift myself - so I can attest to how great it is to be on the receiving end! Mine was on a canvas, that I have kept unframed, with a matte finish over it. 

You can give art as magnificent as the below. Who would not lose themselves in the peace, beauty, color and movement of it -- and best of all, always think of YOU who gave it to them?

There are a LOT of fantastic Rock and Roll shots of your favorite musicians.  And click around the other categories, which each then have separate galleries within them as well, such as Landscapes and StillsAnimals, and Urban Landscaping.

I could not capture the entirety of the below sampling in a screen shot, but his stuff is magnificent.

For minimalists and nature lovers, this peaceful black and white beauty:

There are gorgeous city scapes - so pretty, you don't need to be connected to the specific city to stop each time you walk by and appreciate it. The below is shot across the Charles River in Boston.

Another city pic that I could look at again and again and always find something new. 
That is the great thing about art. 

Here is an all round people pleaser:

Here's a classic for you Springsteen Fans (& you Green Wall fans too! Clearly taken at Fenway Park!). He's got many, many great shots of musicians and concerts. This is a shoe-in for hard to buy for Rock and Roll fans. 

And a classic Jagger shot! 

Write to Rocco directly if you'd like your photo stretched out on canvas like mine. That happens via him not the Photo Tavern.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Smattering of Gift Goodies

Looky Here - Remember the old fashioned Santa mugs? My mom had these... this is something that your kids or grandkids would love. Or the kid in you.

  • 3" diameter, 3" high; 8 fluid-ounce capacity
  • Handcrafted of earthenware with a hand-painted and -glazed finish.
  • Set of 4 with different expressions.
  • Microwave- and dishwasher safe.
They also carry the vintage snowmen and the cheeky reindeer mugs you may remember too - for $12.50 each

How about these unusual and beautiful woodland stockings- can get with or without name (extra $10) - your choice of four colors of thread. Snowy owl, Squirrel or Polar Bear. On sale today for $27.50 Take a wild guess which one I ordered....

Pottery Barn's antiqued tray is an excellent solution to cheese and crackers. The center is made of marble for cutting cheeses and keeping their temperature - and the best part, the little rows on either side for crackers. Mine always fall off a flat cutting board. Not cheap but a really nice gift they will not already have at $89

  • 16.25" wide x 10.25" deep x 1.25" high 
  • Made of aluminum with an antique silver finish.
  • Center portion is made of marble.

Not sure how long this will last but this glass deco inspired martini shaker in red is on sale for only $9.99. Beautiful and elegant, the pop of color adds a little fun. 

UDON Noodle Soup Bowls: These are deep and might be weighty when filled with noodles or stew, but they keep it warm and have a place for chopsticks to rest if you're using them and can make a perfect gift for someone you know. Whether it's your college student who lives on Ramen, or the vegetarian in your life... $36 from Uncommon Goods. Lots of reviews to read if you need to.

For your tea-drinker, here are two different types of Tea infusers from MOMA, that get around the mess of loose tea.  One is a neat stick for $25

and the other is the shape of a tea bag for $30. Prices are less for MOMA members. SO much easier than the little ball that falls apart, or the in-vessel strainers that can make tea too strong.

There are lots of flameless candles out there - and I've seen some with a flickering type of flame, but so far, these are the most realistic I've found. 

Luminaria pillars --These are the BOMB! Made of real wax, pop in two batteries on the bottom and turn on and off with a switch. A little led light and some kind of rocking device are hidden below the little tongue and it produces realistic firelight... has a slight vanilla scent. (I'm highly allergic to scents and I am fine with it). These have the dip from "melting" which also add to realism. If you put these on a shelf, you haven risk and a really lovely flickering glow. In two sizes, $34-39.99

And a set of two 8" tapers for $49.99. They aren't cheap, but they will pay for themselves in long hours, no wax accidents, and no fires... Highly recommend them! Bed Bath and Beyond comes with those 20% off coupons so you will want to try using them these.

The pictures don't come CLOSE to what they look like in real life. You have to trust me on this one - or see them on display in your local BB&B.

Mario Cold Brewer $25 at MOMA. This sleek coffee pot is guaranteed to simplify your caffeine routine—at least when it comes to mastering the elusive art of cold-brewed coffee. Made by the nearly 100-year-old Japanese glass manufacturer Hario, this cold brewer is engineered for optimum flavor and specifically designed to extract the full rich flavors of your favorite beans. Just add ground coffee, slowly top it off with water, lightly stir and chill overnight. In the morning, you'll awake to the full-bodied, rich taste of perfectly made iced coffee. Includes a permanent filter.

The Berry Buddy: For people who like berries - you know it's hard to rinse them. I do it in my hands but they inevitably drop out or I make a mess. This stoneware drainer is a really unique gift. $46,  from Uncommon Goods.

Very Cool Drums to Give or Get!

This is one of those posts that is for the person for whom money is no object if it's just the right thing.

And for the rest of you, I usually provide some kind of alternative to the expensive version. It also just makes for interesting reading and keeps things that are new and unusual on the forefront.

There are some very cool new-sih or lesser known drums out there. Someone was telling me today about getting a Hang Drum for himself. " They look like space ships" he said - and depending where you hit them you get different notes. And they have more fullness in sound over steel drums that are concave. Give a listen here:

They do cost a pretty penny - having a hard time finding any by Google. I see some on Ebay, and here they are on AMAZON for $1600, including a carrying case with back pack straps…  claiming to save you $500.  Yet I am seeing them for several thousand….

And if you read this article it tells you this:
 there is currently only one official route to buying a Hang drum directly from those who make them (PANArt). And that is to write a hand-written letter (request/application) to the following address.

The Address:

PANArt Hangbau AG
Engehaldenstr. 131
3012 Bern/Switzerland

As far as is known, there is no magic formula* as to what to write to guarantee the successful acquisition of a Hang drum from PANArt. With general advice being to ‘write from the heart’, cross your fingers, hope, and wait.

*Though bearing in mind the dislike that PANArt feel for the attached ‘drum’ moniker, refraining from referring to the Hang as a ‘Hang drum’ in your letter is certainly advised.

It has been stated that PANArt do not operate a waiting list in the standard sense, but instead offer their creations as, and when available, to those with which they feel a certain 'resonance'. 

Each 'sculpture' is hand-crafted, and at the time of writing (2012) Hang drum bought directly from PANArt cost around: 2000€ ($2600).

[Update] October 2013, PANArt announced that they will no longer be making ANY Hang.  They will however now be offering their new (and relatively speaking, similar) instrument for sale, named the 'Gubal'.  Watch videos of the new PANArt Gubal: HERE
Alternative routes to buying a Hang drum - eBay:

Most who have not obtained their Hang drum directly from PANArt, have secured them via this next route. ebay.

At the time of writing, roughly 1-2 Hang appear for sale on ebay each month (globally). However, compared to the price that PANArt charge for Hang direct, due to their rarity, and demand, Hang sold on ebay are considerably more expensive (you can usually find any Hang currently for sale on ebay listed: HERE).

At the time of writing the average Hang sold on sells for around $7000-$8000.

Another kind are Hapi Drums, which has a wide selection made of different materials and run as low as $199-399 ON SALE THROUGH NOVEMBER. Click to see all they offer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

28 Retailers Close for Thanksgiving Day

Found this article and thought you might find it interesting - what retailers are closed for Thanksgiving, so their employees can enjoy a day of gratitude with their families - and it makes it easier for you to do it too.

The Daily Kos: 28 Retailers Closing for Thanksgiving.

For all this site is about, I never forget that the gift of your presence is the best thing. That time with each other is the most valuable thing you can give. So cook together, eat together, watch movies together, play in the yard or the park together, volunteer, deliver food to shut ins, consider visiting with some one elderly if you know they are alone (especially a neighbor), cuddle the pets, hug each other,  pull out the decorations, play board or card games, have fun - it's al FREE!

Next, there may be an article like this re: Black Friday. My advice to you is to stay home, and shop online in safety, without spending on gasoline or parking,  while staying in your pajamas with the fam! Believe me, there are just as many deals online as there are in stores. And many places have free shipping - and there is plenty of time to get it well before the holidays.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Select DYSON Vacuums ON SALE at Bed Bath and Beyond!

As part of black Friday week, BB&B is offering 25% off select Dyson Vacuums. I know how many people want these - and they cost just way too much so I keep an eye out for you. Time to act - and fast. It's only while supplies last.

I have the stick - and it's very light, powerful, though I think it all feels rather flimsy, it does a great job - and is amazing on stairs, ceiling fans etc that are so hard to reach. SO it's like a powerful dust buster with regular vacuum attachments. It usually goes for $500 - BB&B's is selling for $374.99 but you can also apply the 20% off coupon. If you don't have one in the mail already -  you should be able to get one immediately to apply if you sign up for an account online, subscribe to their emails,  - and also get BB&B on your phone (so you will get two 20% off coupons a month!). They honor them well past the expiration date so print the ones you get online and don't ever throw the physical ones away due to expiration date.

Dyson V6 Animal Cordless Stick Vacuum
Sealing in the suction to effectively remove more dust, pet hair, and dirt, the Dyson V6 Animal Cordless Stick Vacuum is great for all types of floors and deeper carpet cleaning. Includes several attachments.

Now $374 from $499

Dyson Ball Multifloor Upright Vacuum

The Dyson Ball Multifloor Upright Vacuum is the high performance vacuum your home needs. It features Dyson's Radial Root Cyclone Technology, engineered to capture dirt, allergens and even microscopic dust. Perfect for all types of floors.

NOW $299 from $399

Dyson V6 Trigger Handheld
The Dyson V6 Trigger Handheld Vacuum is powered by the Dyson digital motor V6, which is up to 3x faster than conventional motors. Features 15 cyclones, arranged in two tiers, work in parallel to increase airflow and capture fine dust.

NOW $149 from $199

Dyson Ball Compact Animal Upright Vacuum
The DC50 compact vacuum is Dyson's lightest upright yet still performs as well as a full-size unit. It features advanced cleaner head technology that includes a self-adjusting base plate for optimal contact on every floor type.

Now $337 from $499

Dyson V6 Absolute Cordless Stick Vacuum
Sealing in the suction to effectively remove more dust, pet hair, and dirt, the lightweight Dyson V6 Absolute Cordless Stick Vacuum is great for all types of floors and deeper carpet cleaning. Includes several attachments.
Now $499 from $599

Dyson Ball Allergy Upright Vacuum
Dyson Cinetic science captures the dust that clogs other vaccums with no dirty filters to wash or replace. The Dyson Ball Allergy Upright Vacuum and it's attachments are engineered to remove fine dust and allergens from difficult places.

Now $375 from $499

Friday, November 20, 2015

Great Gifts: Fitness Trackers with GPS

The Fit Bit product line can be boggling - there are so many styles and types to choose from.  But I can tell you about the only model that has GPS! The Fit Bit Surge. It's on Amazon for $236...

  • GPS Tracking- See distance, pace and elevation climbed & review routes and split times
  • Get continuous, automatic, wrist-based heart rate and simplified heart rate zones
  • Track workouts & view workout summaries; plus all day activities including steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed and active minutes
  • Monitor your sleep automatically and wake with a silent alarm
  • See call and text notifications on the touchscreen display
  • Sync stats wirelessly and automatically to your computer and over 150 leading smartphones
  • Utilize the sizing tool in Product Details below to ensure proper fit
  • Kindly contact Fitbit for any technical issues

There is another one for guys doing triathlons, marathons or wanting to lose weight called the Polar M400 Watch.   This comes in other colors, and is running on sale at about $182 on Amazon.

Details from Amazon: 

  • More than just GPS; M400 combines the best 24/7 activity and GPS features and provides you with helpful data for lifestyle and training improvement
  • Tracks your pace, distance and altitude with integrated GPS; Get guidance to beat your personal best; Explore new routes with Back to Start feature
  • 24/7 activity tracking - displays steps, calories and daily goal; Inactivity alert motivates you to move; Plus tracks sleep time and quality
  • Train at the right intensity with target heart rate zones with included H7 Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor; Water resistant; Rechargeable battery
  • Plan, sync and share your training with Polar Flow app and web service; Plus, play and share video highlights of your workout journeys with Relive

There is also a new brand coming out - but not until 2016 - out called The HTC Grip. It is said to be best for those who already have a separate heart monitor. Both are designed to work with Android and iOS.

If you want to read more about the pros and cons of each, CLICK HERE for a comparative article on but if you want to give a tracker with GPS this year... go with the two above. You can see all the FitBit products on their own website and get an education, then Google around for comparable or better prices.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Give The Gift of Humor - Portable Suitcase BBQ

Hey - got a sense of humor?  Bring the party with you with this briefcase that opens to be a portable BBQ.  So yes it works.

They'll get miles out of the joke value -a definite thing to make those stories for ten years up the road (remember when Bob brought that BBQ in a suitcase?).

From $63 on All Modern (the Kikkerland site has them for $85 for the silver) on Amazon for $54 for black.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Great Gifts for Imbibers

We like cocktails of all kinds and the accoutrement that accompanies fine wine, gin and whiskey. Luckily for us, our friends are willing and enthusiastic participants in our mixological experiment. For those of you who partake in a sip, nip or tipple here a few fun suggestions - Lynne

Adorable brass shot glasses, or a tumbler available in three colors: copper, brass and silver. $29.00 from W & P Design.

 "The pineapple has long been recognized as a symbol of hospitality and warm welcome. 


Welcome others to your home bar with this pair of 2 oz. brass pineapple shot glasses, or copper two-piece brass pineapple tumbler, a unique serving piece for a well-crafted cocktail.."

 For those who might like to try their hand at crafting their own ingredients The Homemade Gin Kit

"The Homemade Gin Kit contains everything you need to transform a generic bottle of vodka into a unique and delicious home-blend of your very own gin.
Makes 750ml of homemade gin. $ 49.95"

Shrub & Co 

High quality cocktail mixers such as these popular vinegary shrubs, a beverage (that dates back to at least the 1700s), offered by the pre-made mixers of Shrub & Co

 Gift Set (four 4 oz bottles) – Summer Expressions


This gift set features four ounce bottles of Wildflower Honey, Peach, Strawberry with Meyer Lemon, and Spicy Ginger.  The package includes recipes for cocktails and alcohol-free libations. $27.99"

The Best Citrus Juicer

If you are mixing drinks for a crowd, reaming more than 4-5 lemons or limes begins taking it's toll on your hands and wrists. I found this review when I was looking for a product that would be easy on my own arthritic hands. While I prefer this Breville from William Sonoma, on sale now for 129.95.

Breville's popular citrus press now comes in fresh citrus hues for a bright punch of color in the kitchen. You can count on this motorized press to squeeze every delicious drop of juice from citrus fruits by just gently pushing the handle."

The Breville price is a little steep for me, so I'll be getting the top rated Protor Silex currently $15.85 at


Sake began with a grain of rice. Scotch emerged from barley, tequila from agave, rum from sugarcane, bourbon from corn. Thirsty yet? In The Drunken Botanist, Amy Stewart explores the dizzying array of herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and fungi that humans have, through ingenuity, inspiration, and sheer desperation, contrived to transform into alcohol over the centuries.
At Barnes and Noble $14.11  $19.95 | Save 29%


Single ice cubes whether square or round are great for chilling and not watering down your drinks.

$18.00, $14.40 Members of MOMA

And now, Rochelle's here adding a few of my own: 

Now ON SALE from Restoration Hardware, the Stanley Vacuum Steel Beer Pint:  A double-walled stainless steel drinking vessel that keeps liquids cold for up to 4.5 hours. Shaped like a classic pint glass, it's topped with a snug, press-fit lid and clad in Stanley's iconic hammertone green finish. A built-in bottle opener puts this at the top of every beer lover's wish list. Now at $23.50  

Or how about their Stanley pocket flask? ON SALE for $17. Rustproof and leak proof. Great for hunters who need a little nip to keep warm. So MANLY!

Since this is November, many men across the country grow facial hair for charity. And then they decide they like it. If this is you or someone on your list, or he is simply a fine gent with a mustache or beard this might be for you.

The Whisker Dam is a copper mustache guard that lets you drink like a gentleman. It fits neatly over a pint glass, highball, or mug, keeping your facial hair dry as you drink. This was a tradition in the 1800's.... $20 on

Watch THIS if you want to see more!

And for your beer lover - Corksicle has now come out with the Chilsner beer chiller. You can get them in singles or buy them in two's. You can find them at Bed Bath and Beyond where I took this pic, but Google to find them everywhere from Crate and Barrel to Macy's to the Chillsicle site itself for up to $29. TIP: Best price for 2 I found is at Amazon for $17.99.  

You have heard of the cocktail the Moscow Mule have you not? It's made with highquality vodka, a spicy ginger beer and lime juice, garnished with a slice of lime. 

And it must be had in a copper mug... but where do you get that? You get it on ALL Modern, now ON SALE for this four piece set for $49.99 (down from $139). 16 oz, brass handle, lead free (natch), hand wash. This can be used for Apple cider, Wassail, and tea too...