Archive for December, 2009

I can’t tell you how much I love this website I just stumbled upon, Reform School.  I just love it.  What caught my eye was a reproduction of the British wartime propaganda poster “Keep Calm and Carry On” and what got me excited was the rest of the cool stuff this site offers.

barbkskpcalm_2

“Art, Craft, Design” are the words that greet you on the cover of the Reform School “yearbook” when you arrive on the site

They offer an eclectic mix of cool things from home furnishing like wooden radios and repurposed seatbelt pillows, to original art and books that fit into the general theme of art, craft and design.

I wish I had discovered the Reform School site just a little bit earlier as I found some things here that would have made great gifts for my friends and family who are as eclectic as this stuff.  Some of the items offered by Reform School are fairly expensive, but there are some great value finds as well.

Back to “Keep Calm and Carry On” – I have always been intrigued by London during WWII.  I find the strength and determination of the British people against all odds truly inspiring to this day.  The “Keep Calm and Carry On” sign will be a nice way to remember what ordinary people did in the face of true adversity.  Something we need to remember when we complain about the trivial annoyances in our modern lives.

Are you panicking yet?  Christmas is less than a week away.  I am all done.  But if you still have to get something for the guy who has everything…  I have to recommend this really cool iPhone case made out of wood!

bamboo

Of course the guy who has everything must have an iPhone, so this is perfect. I spotted this on WishingFish.com, a site that has a bunch of cool things.  Think hip stocking stuffers.  I  have no idea if you can get it delivered before Christmas, but it is worth a try.

Also available on the site, and also made out of wood, is a really cool postcard airplane.  It is a postcard made out of balsa wood that can be made into an airplane.  Very cool!  The perfect thing to mail to all those people who sent you a Christmas card that you “forgot” to send one to.

Check out the cool thing you can find on WishingFish here.

HOLIDAY FIND:

Christmas in a can

GIFT WE WANT:

A Geneva Sound System for our iPod

WAY TO GIVE BACK:

Support AIDS sufferers in Africa via Bike Town Africa

For those who have been following along, we recently moved my mother and father out of their entrenchment in rural New Hampshire into a suburban one-floor living easy maintenance kind of place for the re-retired. 

whoopie

Ever since the move, my mother has been asking us to go back to the old house to retrieve things.  Things like “that bowl I need to make macaroni and cheese” or asking things like “did my collection of miniature porcelain farm animals end up in the dumpster?”

On the eve of Thanksgiving, mom said “you know, I don’t have my cookie sheets and bowls I need to make Whoopie Pies.” My mom made Whoopie Pies for every holiday as long as I can remember. We assured her we could get along without them this one time.  The reality is that my mom’s Whoopie Pies are as much a traditional part of our family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas as turkey and stuffing!  Her pumpkin spice version is a classic.

Somehow we made it through Thanksgiving Whoopie-less.  Maybe it was the diversion around how we were able to serve dinner key without the “turkey platter that has been in my family for generations.” I knew we had to find some Whoopie Pies soon or Christmas would be ruined.  After a laborious research, I stumbled upon Wanna Hava Cookie, an internet purveyor of cookies and treats.

Wanna Hava Cookie: “We believe that the best treats are handmade using the best ingredients, with attention to everything from flavor to packaging. We also think everyone should have access to high quality, classic treats at an affordable price. Our cookies, bars and whoopie pies are a testament to these ideals. WannaHavaCookie’s treats are mixed by hand, baked with love, just the right size, and priced to fit any budget.”

Wanna Hava Cookie has a full line of Whoopie Pies and they look amazing.  They must taste amazing as well – it is a week before Christmas and their seasonal orders are already booked up – they have been for weeks. 

But I am totally book-marking the Wanna Hava Cookie site for the future.  But this does nothing to help save my family’s Christmas.  I guess I need find my mom’s secret recipe file and then head to the grocer to see if I can carry on the tradition without making a total mess of my kitchen.  Stay tuned.

HOLIDAY FIND:

Holiday Snowman Recipe featuring Fruity Pebbles!

GIFT WE WANT:

An old-school “toy” camera from Four Corner Store

WAY TO GIVE BACK:

Help Rescue Animals with Noah’s Wish

During the holidays I love to read old books and stories that harken back to a time gone by. For some reason Christmas brings out the nostalgia in me.  Some years it is old school Dickens, as in “A Christmas Carol” or really any of his works.  Somehow Dickens just screams Christmas.The-Thin-Man-Poster-C10132902

This year I have been poking around in a Dashiell Hammett anthology.  Hammett, best known perhaps for “The Thin Man” and “The Maltese Falcon” wrote great detective stories and they are great to read.  Hammett’s prose and snappy dialog is as current and relevant today as it was in the first half of the last century.

I love his novel “The Dain Curse” which is just great.  This is nostalgic to me not only because it is an old school classic, but I actually read it back in my old school days.  So when I read it now it is like I am a 14 year-old again. 

But now as adult, I appreciate the wit and elegance of Hammett’s writing in a whole new way. I highly recommend that you pick up one of Hammett books, perhaps for that Kindle you asked for this year. 

If you don’t have the time or desire to read the books, then put some of the classic movies based on Hammett’s works in your Netflix queue.  Start with “The Thin Man” and all the sequels, just pure classic cinema joy.  Or go right to the “Maltese Falcon” – Bogart, Astor and Greenstreet = perfection!

HOLIDAY FIND: 

A winter wonderland — shaken, not stirred – snow globes from West Elm

GIFT WE WANT:

500 Days of Summer on Blueray – out tomorrow!

WAY TO GIVE BACK:

Help a child’s see the world better

We at Lost Cowboy love our dogs!  In fact, Sophie has three little ones of her own!  And we believe in giving them all the best.  And the best treats we have found come from the Polka Dog Bakery in Boston’s South End. 

polka

But don’t worry if you are not in Boston, Polka Dog products can be found at specialty shops all over the US.  And you can purchase their great products on their website.

The products are great, but we also love Polka Dog‘s story:  “Polka Dog Bakery is our tribute to Pearl. Found as a stray outside San Juan, Puerto Rico, Pearl had only one eye, which gave her the funny habit of dancing her head from side to side whenever she stopped to say hello. She did a little sort of polka to everyone she met. So Pearl became the Polka Dog, and danced her way into people’s hearts.  Hard living had left our gem in need of a little extra nurturing, and to spoil her properly, we took to baking her gourmet treats. We used the finest ingredients we could find, mixed and matched different recipes, and baked a little love in every bite.”

So do your favorite pooch a favor and look into the great treats Polka Dog sells.  May be suggest the Holiday Tall Can.

See everything Polka Dog offers here.

HOLIDAY FIND:

Martha Stewart’s Share Your Santa Collection contest

GIFT WE WANT:

A cobalt blue Le Creuset Oval Ovens

WAY TO GIVE BACK:

Join the battle against breast cancer

I have written about salt before – I love salt.  This holiday season as part of my entertaining, I am going to have a dinner party centered around salt. This is when you put out a variety of exotic salts along with meats and food that can be changed and enhanced by a sprinkle or two.

samplers-gift-set_saltistry_jpg_w560h400

In my extensive research about salt (can you say “Yahoo!”?) I discovered a great website called  “Saltistry” – which I just love.  It is all about salt and everything related to salt.  The best part is they believe the use of salt can be an art.  Their name, Saltistry, comes from a combination of “salt” and “art.”  I love it!

One of their other mottos is ““Ban the shaker – Just pinch, sprinkle and eat.”

The website is quite informative and includes recipes, how salt is made, and even tips on how to have you own salt party.  They even address concerns over the use of salt and health.  Not surprisingly they promote the relative “health” of using organic salts over the processed shaker variety found in, well, found in most everything we eat.

There is also a retail shop that offers a great variety of salts and packaged sampler sets that will allow you to test out different varieties of life’s most essential mineral.

I love any excuse to try new salts and Saltistry is giving me everything I need.

Check out Saltistry’s website here.