I'm normally not a Monday fan (I mean, really, who is?), but I'm particularly excited about this lovely Monday. Why? Because I'm writing about my favorite things!
If you've been following this blog, you've probably caught on that I get pretty excited about things. Big things, little things, splurgy things and stealy things, things that add a touch of luxury, things that replace worn out things, things that make life easier and things that make life more efficient.
While Christmas and the holidays are not all about gifts -- the season is, after all, about generosity, love and family -- gifts are certainly a nice touch. And a stressful one at that!
There is no better time to say "I appreciate you" with a special something than the holiday season (even if that something is just a phone call or an email). (It's also a nice time to give something -- whatever you can -- to those in need... a few extra dollars, something to keep them warm, some food or even just a warm smile.)
As the Grinch learned in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas:
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. "Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
And with that, let's get on to the list! I'm no Oprah, but I certainly have a very long list of favorite things that you can enjoy and give to everyone on your list... and that will hopefully take some of the stress out of the annual what should I get? merry-go-round.
Today's focus? GADGETS. While the subject-matter of A La Recherche tends to be focused on home decor, fashion and beauty, you can't have a beautiful, fashionable, livable home without some excellent gadgets to make it run a little more smoothly and delightfully.
Kate's Favorite Things - Gadget Edition!
There are two types of really great gifts: 1) the luxuriously decadent kind that you wouldn't dream of buying for yourself (most of the time - I have on occasion bought something luxurious for myself in a "you deserve this because you're worth it" moment); and 2) the absurdly practical type that you also wouldn't think to buy for yourself but that improve your life dramatically (and are thus luxurious in their own way). This list contains mostly type #2. I recommend buying one for your friend/family member... and then another yourself. The following list contains things that I have received and loved, and things that I have given to others (and a few things I've given to myself...). Enjoy!
Fountain Jet - Seltzer Starter Kit, $79 at sodastreamusa.com
Sodastreams are life-changing. My brother-in-law, Jed, and soon-to-be sister-in-law Caroline gave the black/silver starter kit to Matt and me for Christmas last year, and I now can't imagine life without it! I quit drinking Diet Soda in April (I was total addict), and I credit the Sodastream for making that happen. It's so nice to be able to fill up the bottle, buzz the machine a few times and have a full litre of fizzy bubbles to sip on. No trip to the store, no wasted plastic bottles. Everyone should have one of these machines! It looks like the black/silver is sold out, but I love the sleek white!
Keurig K65 Special Edition Home Brewing System, $149.99 at Target.com with free shipping
While we're on the subject of life-changing kitchen products that my brother-in-law has given us, let's discuss the brilliance that is the Keurig machine. He gave us this one two Christmases ago, and it. is. incredible. Embarrassingly, I have BROKEN coffee machines in the past because I've put the grinds into the water section (I'm very groggy in the morning -- which I imagine many people are -- and I really don't understand why this hasn't happened to other people), and even when I did get the grinds in the right place, I never could make a good pot of coffee. The Keurig changed everything. No more am I forced to remember where the grinds go - I just pop a k-cup into the little home for it and presto-chango, I have a cup of coffee. I had the privilege of meeting one of the founders of Keurig (who later sold it to Green Mountain Coffee) in a business school class last year and thanked him for revolutionizing my morning (I think he thought I was a little nutty). I also asked him why he named the company Keurig. The answer? His wife is German, and Keurig means "excellence" in German. I couldn't agree more.
We have a mid-sized machine, which works perfectly for us, but there are a lot of different sizes that will fit your individual lifestyle and family size.
Keurigs are sold all over... Keurig.com, Amazon, QVC, Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy's... check around before you buy to make sure you get the best deal. There are also many different kinds of coffees available in k-cup size... we like to drink Tully's (best taste at the price point).
Spotify, $10, $30 or $60 (1-, 3- or 6-month subscription gift certificate)
Spotify is just awesome. I joined a little over a year ago after my dad told me to (Yes! My dad knows about everything cool before I do!), and he and I now use the program to share music with each other. It's a fun way to stay connected with someone who lives far away, and it's also just an excellent source of LOTS of music. I grew tired of paying Apple for iTunes (and losing it every time I had to replace a computer), and this allows me to listen to as much or as little music as I want. I'm sure over time, the subscription fee adds up to equal or exceed what I would pay if I just bought each new song outright, but I like the flexibility and the community. Spotify also has a fun feature, "Available Offline," which allows you to listen to a chosen playlist while on the subway and out of range.
Subscriptions cost $9.95 a month. You can buy gift certificates here. Depending on how much you want to spend, you can buy your lucky recipient a 1-month, 3-month or 6-month subscription.
Apple TV, $89.99 (on sale from $99), at radioshack.com plus free shipping
I've only had about 4 hours with this magical device, but I can already say that it's one of my favorite things. Jed and Caroline (seriously, excellent gift givers!) gave this to me for my birthday this year, and Matt and I finally got the little beauty hooked up today in the bedroom so I can watch Netflix and Hulu all day long as I recover from surgery later this week. We've already clocked a few Portlandia episodes and just started American Horror Story (starring my gal Connie Britton, so I'm giving it a shot!).
A quick note: Apple TV does not come with an HDMI cable, so you might want to get one if you want the recipient to be able to hook the device up on Christmas Day. They're not terribly expensive (~$15-$30), so if you buy the Apple TV from a place like RadioShack, you can just tack one of these onto the order.
Happy gadget gifting!
Gift Giving Season is upon us, which can be both exciting and totally daunting and stressful. I am here to help alleviate the stress!
Over the coming weeks I will share with you a plethora of fun gift giving ideas. Today? The perfect decorating book... for pretty much anyone who likes pretty books and likes to decorate their home (I feel this casts a rather wide net).
The perfect gift is the perfect combination of delightfully unexpected, delightfully perfect and delightfully what-we've-always-wanted. I also think it should be something you wouldn't normally buy for yourself. My friend Stephanie recently surprised me with a gift that was all of these things, and, as you might guess, I was delighted.
What did she give me, you ask? Why, I will tell you so that you too can purchase several and delight your friends and loved ones with this thoughtful and inspiring gift (and keep one for yourself, of course)! It is founding editor of Domino Magazine Deborah Needleman's fabulous book, The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well, $20.50 at Amazon.com (free two-day shipping for Amazon Prime members). The colors are fabulous, the writing is witty, the advice is practical, the little watercolor paintings are adorable... all of it is just perfect and perfectly delightful. The concept is: "Style is a luxury, and luxury is simply what makes you happy." How fab?! This is a very A La Recherche-y concept, and inspiration and quotes from the book will undoubtedly surface on this blog many times in the future. (Side note, if you, like me, were devastated when Domino Magazine rudely closed several years ago, you'll be as delighted as I am about the recent relaunch, which is just super fun to explore.)
Some gifts should be shrouded in mystery and others are just so darn cute that no wrapping paper or gift bags are needed, and this book is one such gift. Stephanie wrapped the book up in a big red grosgrain ribbon, which perfectly accented the colors in the cover art and also gave me a hint of the absolute joy I was about to experience upon untying the bow (also, who doesn't love to untie a fabulous red bow?). The colors of the cover go so well in my living room (in that imperfectly perfect sort of way) that I couldn't help myself and photographed the book on top of the new Turkish rug I purchased a few weeks ago from the ABC Home & Carpet Warehouse. (The colors are so universal though that they'll go gorgeously in any living room.) The book now sits proudly on my coffee table (an ottoman with a big tray on top), where I can reach for it and browse whenever I want some eye candy, advice or inspiration (which is often).
Where to Buy
The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well is available for $20.50 at Amazon.com
I am an artist/designer and former financial professional with a background in comparative literature, business and design. I live in New York with my overworked lawyer husband and my two boys Michael and Theo and spend much of my free time dreaming about how to enhance the aesthetics of our little world. I am endlessly inspired and always in search of something new. This is a blog about my search, my inspiration and things I just really, really like or want.