Archive for December, 2013

GIFT WE WANT

The Nut Case from CB2.

HOLIDAY FIND

Give Yourself a Major Award – the Christmas Story Leg Lamp.

WAY TO GIVE BACK

Buy hand-woven goods from African artisans and support a family.

I love Christmas music and have been listening to as much as possible in recent days. There are some great new releases out this year, I love Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red and Miss Mary J. Blige’s A Mary Christmas, and my iPod is full of many other new and old favorites.

However, today I wanted to feature a few of my favorite Christmas albums from the past several years that are worth a listen and may not have received the same attention as some of the more mainstream releases.

Tinsel and Light (2012) by Tracey Thorn

TRACEYAbout Tinsel and Light by Tracey Thorn: “In 2012, Tracey Thorn followed her acclaimed 2010 album Love and Its Opposite with a brand-new Christmas album, Tinsel and Lights, featuring ten seasonal cover versions, two new original tracks, and Green from Scritti Politti. Produced by Ewan Pearson, Tinsel and Lights features Tracey’s rich vocals and contributions on guitar and piano. Her longtime partner, Ben Watt guests on guitar and piano on several tracks. Leo Taylor (Adele, Hot Chip) plays drums, Steve Pearce – who played on Everything But The Girl’s feted album, Idlewild – is on bass, while Pearson adds signature synths and electronics. Three tracks include orchestral arrangements by Nick Ingman. The LP version will include Tracey’s rendition of 25th December originally written and sung by Ben Watt on Everything But The Girl’s 1994 album Amplified Heart.”

DOWNLOAD: Joy

Tinsel and Light by Tracey Thorn is available in multiple formats from Amazon and other fine music retailers.

One More Drifter in the Snow (2006) by Aimee Mann

aimeeAbout One More Drifter in the Snow by Aimee Mann: “Grammy winner and Oscar nominee Aimee’s first Christmas album is a collection of holiday classics and two original, beautiful, and bittersweet songs written by Mann and Michael Penn. Reminiscent of classic albums of the 40’s and 50’s, but without any retro kitsch. Like Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, and Peggy Lee, Aimee Mann captures the emotional beauty of Christmas.”

DOWNLOAD: Whatever Happened to Christmas

About One More Drifter in the Snow by Aimee Mann is available in multiple formats from Amazon and other fine music retailers.

A Christmas Cornucopia (2010) by Annie Lennox

ANNIEAbout A Christmas Cornucopia by Annie Lennox: “2010 holiday release from the Eurythmics vocalist, A Christmas Cornucopia is a collection of new, inspired interpretations of 11 traditional festive songs, rounded out by a new Lennox composition, Universal Child. The music on the album was mostly played by Lennox, in collaboration with co-producer Mike Stevens, and recorded in his southwest London studio – at the bottom of his garden. But to achieve the resonance and vibrancy that were integral to Lennox’s ideas for these re-energized reboots, the pair also worked with a 30-piece orchestra at Pinewood Studios. And they travelled further afield too: to South Africa, to record with the African Children’s Choir, a remarkable organization with which impassioned campaigner and activist Lennox has long had a relationship.”

DOWNLOAD: Universal Child

A Christmas Cornucopia by Annie Lennox is available in multiple formats from Amazon and other fine music retailers.

Midwinter Graces (2009) by Tori Amos

TORIAbout Midwinter Graces by Tori Amos: “After nearly two decades writing and recording some of her generation’s most emotionally powerful music, Tori Amos releases her first seasonal album, Midwinter Graces. A follow up to Tori’s critically acclaimed studio album, Abnormally Attracted To Sin, Midwinter Graces finds Tori reworking and expanding on classic carols as well as developing some of her very own seasonal tracks. For Midwinter Graces, Amos has again teamed up with long time collaborators Matt Chamberlain on drums, Jon Evans on bass, and Mac Aladdin on guitars. Tori has enlisted the help of a Big Band and an Orchestra with stunning John Philip Shenale arrangements to create Tori’s new seasonal classics.”

DOWNLOAD: Winter’s Carol

Midwinter Graces by Tori Amos is available in multiple formats from Amazon and other fine music retailers.

I couldn’t help using this scene of frozen Lake and Mount Chocorua to mark the passing of the Winter Solstice…

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GIFT WE WANT

The Pride and Prejudice Play Set from Baby Lit.

HOLIDAY FIND

Holiday Octopus Wrapping Paper from Paper Source.

WAY TO GIVE BACK

Help rebuild our communities by supporting Rebuilding Together.

HIPStersA few years ago I purchased a few dozen of these “hipster” family ornaments from CB2 at a heavily discounted price in their after Christmas clearance sale. I don’t know what it was, but I got caught up in a frenzy, they were so cheap.

The ornaments stayed boxed up for years and I rediscovered them this past fall during the infamous dumpster-fill cleanout.

I decided that I needed to give these little guys a life and vowed to use them this Christmas. I have a 20-plus of each: the hipster dad, mom and child (right).

I have decorated a hipster tree using all of the ornaments – complete with retro tinsel garland, LED colored lights, and an ironic angel on the top.

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Meanwhile, I can’t wait for CB2’s after Christmas sale where I hope to pick up some of these jellyfish ornaments at a super cheap price.

Part of the Sandwich Mountain range in New Hampshire is bathed in the late afternoon sun on the eve of the Winter Solstice.

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GIFT WE WANT

This set of Fox Glasses from Paper Source.

HOLIDAY FIND

Clarice from Build-a-Bear Worksop.

WAY TO GIVE BACK

Support the world’s largest no-kill animal shelter and adoption agency: The North Shore Animal League America.

FF: The VIVA Brass Bicycle Bell by Tokyo San Esu

SS1I think a new bicycle is the perfect Christmas gift, which makes a bicycle bell, like the VIVA Brass Bicycle Bell by Tokyo San Esu, the perfect stocking stuffer.

About the VIVA Brass Bicycle Bell by Tokyo San Esu: “A straightforward, superior solid brass cycle bell with a bold bright sound, the VIVA Brass Cycle Bell has been an industry standard since its introduction in 1974. Chrome plated clamp attaches to handlebars. Off you go!”

The VIVA Brass Bicycle Bell by Tokyo San Esu is available from Teroforma.

FF: Cufflinks from Cufflinks.com

SS2Cufflinks, a classic gift for men, are making a comeback in a big way. Bling has always been a great go-to gift for women, but not so much for men, at least since things like cufflinks went out of vogue. But now, cufflinks, which can be chosen to fit the style and interest of the man, are back and a perfect stocking stuffer.

The folks at Cufflinks.com make it easy to choose just the perfect pair of cufflinks (and related accessories) for the man in your life.

If I am the man in your life (I need to meet you soon) I like the sterling Red Sox cufflinks.

Find all the great Cufflinks and other gift items from Cufflinks.com here.

FF: The Mini Trays from Theo

SS3I love this mini tray from Theo – a tray that is perfect for serving up little things and small enough to fit in a stocking.

About the Mini Trays from Theo: “These cute mini melamine trays are perfect for your cup of tea/coffee and a biscuit. The tray is available with two beautiful watercolour illustrations: Squirrel and Bunny.”

See all the cool products from Theo here.

FF: Hey Boo’s Coconut Caramel Jam

SS4Jam may be a strange thing to put in a Christmas stocking, but not all jams are as special as the Coconut Caramel Jam from San Francisco-based Hey Boo.

About Hey Boo’s Coconut Caramel Jam: “Hey Boo’s Coconut Jam, also known as Srikaya in Indonesian, is slow cooked in small batches using high quality natural ingredients. The primary ingredients are premium coconut milk, cane sugar, and egg yolks. The result is simply delicious, yet wholesome, as well as dairy and gluten free. Our Premium Coconut Jam has a silky and smooth texture, with a golden color, which reflects the natural hue of the eggs. The rich creaminess is achieved by cooking the ingredients according to the traditional technique of making Srikaya.”

See all the Coconut Jams of Hey Boo here.

GIFT WE WANT

An Upright Classic Arcade Game Unit from Kotulas. 

HOLIDAY FIND

The Holiday Stackable Tin with seasonal teas from Republic of Teas.

WAY TO GIVE BACK

Help protect nature – near and far – by supporting the Nature Conservancy.

While driving home after a little snow fall the other day, I just had to pull over and take this shot.  I was overcome with that Christmassy feeling as the scene looked like it could be the Road to Christmas…

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