Archive for January, 2010

…Just in time for all our Valentine’s Day giving we found Manhattan Fruitier.  The various “hampers” Manhattan Fruitier offers have something for everyone.  There are the traditional fruit baskets, exotic fruit baskets and basket with nuts and cheeses.  Our favorite is the Chocolate Fondue Hamper which “marries fresh fruit and luscious dark chocolate sauce, ideal for chocolate fondue. With skewers provided, all you have to do is gently warm the chocolate sauce, dip and enjoy.”

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About Manhattan Fruitier: “Our fruit baskets are assembled with great care using pick of the season fresh fruit, accented with lemon leaves and flowers. Manhattan Fruitier was established in 1987 with a classic design aesthetic that reached back to an earlier time when many things were done with greater care, simplicity and beauty. Our fresh fruit baskets combine both familiar seasonal fruits (grapes, apples, pears, plums, pomegranates, etc.) and less familiar fruits (lychees, Asian apple pears, feijoa, carambola, etc.). We also offer gourmet fruit gifts that combine the finest gourmet foods such as artisanal cheese with fresh fruits. Whether it’s a seasonal fruit basket, organic fruit basket, or gourmet fruit basket, we guarantee that you and your gift receipt will be delighted with every gift basket you send.”

Take a peak at all Manhattan Fruitier has to offer and I am sure you will find something for everyone on your Valentine list, if not just something to send to yourself for a change.

We love Chicago.  We travel to Chicago at least once a year, usually in August, to take in the great American city at its peak.  We love the summer festivals, Cubs games and everything the place has to offer.

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We also love checking out the great shops that populate the city’s many diverse neighborhoods.  One shop we will seek out on our next visit is OMD.  We recently came across OMD’s website and was charmed by its eclectic offerings.  Of course as the anglophile we are – we love this Union Jack belt buckle

OMD also has a bunch of Che Guevara novelty items including a finger puppet.  Now that is one funky store.

OMD is located at 1419 W. 18th Street, Chicago IL, 60608
See the OMD website here.

We love Cost Plus World Market – a chain of stores in 30 states that sells a nice mix of things at value prices. Sadly, we do not live in one of those 30 states where the 250-plus stores are located, but once again we are saved by the internet.

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I like to browse around the Cost Plus World Market site because you never know what you are going to find. Recently I came across this wonderful frame that just spoke to me. I love it!

“A clever and colorful picture frame crafted by Alejandro Chavez. He employs the time-honored techniques used to create his retablo altars, constructing the frame in wood and filling its shelves with molded ceramic plaster figures. Varied scenes represent the energy of Carnavalito, a regional celebration held in the Peruvian Andes. Painted in vivid hues and finished in a lustrous varnish, this piece lends distinctive spirit to any décor.”

Check out this and other cool things at Cost Plus World Market.

It has been 50 years since John F. Kennedy took the oath of office as President of the United States and began the 1,000 day administration, the “Camelot” era and the tragic ending. 

JFK’s Innaugural Address is one of the most famous speeches of modern times, with the oft quote lines like “ask not what your country can do for you…”

The fabulous store Levenger, purveyors of “tools for serious readers” offers a amazing tribute to that famous address, “John F. Kennedy: His Inaugural Address (book and DVD)”

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About the John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address (book and DVD): “It is one of the shortest inaugural addresses in our country’s history, and yet its words have long resonated in the American conscience. John F. Kennedy’s first message as president summoned the language of a leader schooled in the oratory of the ages––from Isaiah to Lincoln and Churchill. In our exclusive book, we take you behind the curtain of this famous moment to experience how the ideas became words.  Facsimiles of scribbled and dictated notes, JFK’s handwritten version and a marked-up typed draft are among the various documents you’ll discover. All are reproduced in full color, and most at the original size. These are authorized facsimiles from the archives of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.”

Find out more on the Levenger website.

Explore all the great product Levenger offers.

Art is subjective of course and we do love art.  Although there is a ton of “art” out there that does not meet our taste, we love the idea that people are expressing themselves.  We recently came across the work of  Chris Buzelli, whose work is just so striking.  We realize that his work is not going to be everybody’s taste, but Buzelli is one of those artists whose talent you have to admire even if you do not care for the work.C!

Chris Buzelli: “Chris Buzelli was born and raised outside of Chicago and on the waters of Lake Michigan. Chris was influenced by his Grandfather Armondo Buzelli at young age, painting side by side. After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design, Chris moved to New York City to start his career as an illustrator in 1995. His oil paintings have appeared in many national and international publications including Rolling Stone, Playboy, The Village Voice, New York Times, the Seattle Zoo, LA times, Boston Globe, and US World News & Report. Chris has also collaborated on numerous projects for design firms, advertising agencies and Broadway musical posters. Chris’ work has been recognized by American Illustration, Society of Illustrators, Society of Publication Designs, Communication Arts, Print and Step by Step. Chris also shows his work extensively in various exhibitions and galleries throughout North America.”

We love the talent and the work.  Buzelli’s website has a nice portfolio of his work and a shop where you can buy his works – originals and prints.

Our “favourite” Brit, Sophie, has sent us a link to House Doctor, which appears to be a Danish purveyor of home goods.  For the life of us, we can’t figure out if House Doctor is a site just for wholesalers, or if they any retail options.

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But what we do know is that they have a 130 page online catalog with some really cool items – all part of their “Everyday 2010” collection.

“Everyday 2010 is a collection where colour, shape/design and function are all dominant elements. The style is provocative, personal and not too formal. We believe that the time right now is a time for mixing the elements rather than matching the elements. So lean back, be inspired.”

OK, so English is not their first language, but it is a cool site:

Check it out here.

See the 2010 House Doctor catalog here.

One of the only good things about the early January post-holiday lull is the fact that just about everything goes on sale.  The best sales, of course, are on all of the Christmas-themed items that are still hanging around.

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The folks at Ballard Designs has a bunch of cool things on sale, but these fun Dog Breed Needlepoint Stockings caught my eye.  I wish I saw these before Christmas – a Yorkie version with one or all of Sophie’s “babies’” names monogrammed on it would have been the perfect gift for her.

I happen to think that these may actually make a nice year-round gift.  The colors are not all that Christmassy and what dog doesn’t like to play with socks?  Come to think of it one of Sophie’s Yorkies, the little scamp named Harry, loves to steal socks and run away with them.

OK, the perfect Christmas gift may just be the perfect birthday gift!

See all the cool stuff Ballard Designs offer here.

When I was a kid my brother was really into comic books.  Dude, seriously, really into them.  I was not.  Although I did like Classic Illustrated a series of comics that illustrated the great books of fiction.  As I kid I loved all the books like “Treasure Island” and “The Last of the Mohicans” and Classic Illustrated comics brought them to life.

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So I was really happy to find Masterpiece Comics recently on the great website Drawn and Quarterly.   Masterpiece Comics is a graphic book that brings classics of literature alive once more – with a bit of a twist.

As described by Drawn and Quarterly: “Masterpiece Comics adapts a variety of classic literary works with the most iconic visual idioms of twentieth-century comics. Dense with exclamation marks and lurid colors, R. Sikoryak’s parodies remind us of the sensational excesses of the canon, or, if you prefer, of the economical expressiveness of classic comics from Batman to Garfield. In “Blond Eve,” Dagwood and Blondie are ejected from the Garden of Eden into their archetypal suburban home; Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray is reimagined as a foppish Little Nemo; and Camus’s Stranger becomes a brooding, chain-smoking Golden Age Superman. Other source material includes Dante, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, bubblegum wrappers, superhero comics, kid cartoons, and more.”

You can read more about Masterpiece Comics and checkout a preview on Drawn and Quarterly.  While you are there, click around the site.  You may find yourself interested in reading more about that graphic novel craze that seems to have no ebb. 

Drawn and Quarterly is based in Montreal where they have a retail shop.  I have already put this place on my “must visit” list when I am up there next.

Anyway, you can find Masterpiece Comics at other retailers like Amazon, along with many other modern graphic novels – some very dark and serious like the fabulous “New Orleans: After the Deluge” by Josh Neufeld.  Definitely not my brother’s comic books.

Visit Drawn and Quarterly here.