Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, 2011, Part 18: The Resident Nerd

For those of you who missed Maureen's post on Brandon Bird awhile back, allow me to illuminate you: he is a very talented painter who deals in unusual and kitschy images, often of celebrities or characters in unusual situations. For example:

Yes, ladies and gents, that's Batman taking a stroll with some of the wonderful people of Law and Order. If there's a nerd in your life who happens to have a soft spot for the Dark Knight and Jerry Orbach's later work, this is definitely the item you need to give that nerd. Trust me; it will be a big hit.

Buy through Brandon Bird; prices vary. 

Image via Brandon Bird.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 17: The Hunter

Honestly, I don't know a whole lot about hunting, but I do know that there are times when you can hunt and times when you can't. I also know that there are critters you can hunt and critters that you can't.

So what better for your sad, off-season hunter than a nice video game to help recreate the experience?

Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012 could be just the thing. This edition comes with the Top Shot Elite accessory, for maximum realism! It may not be a great game--I certainly have no idea--but your hunter friend has been too busy training dogs and cleaning guns and sharpening knives to care about what makes a good game.

Buy through GameStop for $59.99-79.99, depending on game system.

Image via GameStop.


Monday, November 28, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 16: The Quirky Friend

Sometimes the person you have the most trouble buying a gift for is the quirky friend in your crew. Since I have several of those, I have to dig extra deep on occasion. However, all is not lost. Archie McPhee has a nice array of unusual items suited to different personalities. But if you can't make a decision after nosing around the site, you could always pick up a surprise bag:

The bag could contain any of a number of items from the Archie McPhee inventory, and so it is guaranteed to provide hours of entertainment. Plus the staff guarantees "a strange and wonderful assortment of McPhee trinkets and goodies that any person with a refined taste for kitsch will enjoy." If you're lucky, maybe the recipient will even let you in on the fun!

Image via Archie McPhee.


Friday, November 25, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 15: The Decorator

Everyone needs at least one nice vase, but we shouldn't be forced to pay through the nose for the privilege, particularly if we are trying to give a vase as a gift. So if you know a person who needs a place to display the lovely flower arrangement he or she has made for the holidays, why not go with one of these lovely mercury glass vases from West Elm?

These will serve you well beyond the holiday season, also, as their mirrored surfaces will blend in with any type of decor. And at these prices, you can afford to give an entire set to your aesthetically-inclined acquaintances!

Image via West Elm.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 14: The Injury-Prone

You may feel free to read that as "The Maureen." As Cate and my former roommate Holly can tell you, I get hurt a lot. And when I've cut my foot open while shaving my legs or had my toes gouged open by sharp dog claws, there is nothing I like better than an entertaining adhesive bandage.

Sometimes when you misjudge how close your thumb is to a table saw, it really does look like a crime scene, right? Give a thoughtful stocking-stuffer to the unlucky carpenter in your life!

Or if you have a friend you don't particularly like, give them a box of pirate bandages, adorned with the skull and crossbones. They will have no choice but to contemplate their own mortality as they dress their wounds.

And, of course, there is no minor cut or scrape that bacon won't improve.

Not to mention, all these bandages come with a free prize, for extra pain-fighting power!

Each the bandages above can be purchased through Archie McPhee for a mere $4.95!

Images via Archie McPhee.


PS Today is Thanksgiving in the United States! We all have a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful for honey buns, my family, electricity, and needle threaders. I hope you have a good one!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 13: The Traveler

If you know someone who is always on the go and has as many travel bags as necessary but needs a special, personalized touch, why not spring for personalized luggage tags?

Truly, nothing is better than being able to readily identify your luggage at the baggage carousel in an airport. So give the gift of identification today and save your jet-setting friends from grabbing the wrong bag!

Image via Neiman Marcus.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 12: The Teacher

Chances are there is a stressed, broke teacher in your life. If you invite this teacher over for dinner regularly, you are a saint, but you need to get to the root of the problem. That teacher isn't broke just because teachers aren't paid well. That teacher is broke because students don't know to bring pencils to school.

So now is when you do your part to save the economy.

Buy your teacher friend a pencil vending machine. For a mere twenty-five cents, students can purchase their own gosh-darned pencils, and soon the person in charge will be raking in the cash and resting easy.

Image via U.S. School Supply.


Monday, November 21, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 11: The Bookworm

For some avid readers, the way a book looks and is made can be as important as the contents of the tome itself. So why not supply your beloved bibliophile with a volume that offers directions on how to make your own books?

Making Handmade Books offers a wide array of projects and images that are sure to fascinate anyone interested in bookbinding and keep someone occupied during the long winter nights!

Image via John Neal, Bookseller.


Friday, November 18, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 10: The Teenager

One of the things I most wanted when I was growing up was an en suite bathroom. I never got one, but according to many films, the majority of teenagers have them. So why not help your teenager decorate said bathroom and teach him or her at the same time with a funky educational shower curtain, such as my personal favorite, a map of the world?

Of course, since political boundaries sometimes change, perhaps you'd do better with something a little more localized, such as a map of the transit system in your city? Here's one for the MBTA subway stops in Boston:

Or, if your teenager is anything like me, he or she will probably need a great deal of help with the periodic table, so you can always pick up a colorful depiction of the elements:

No matter which you choose, it's sure to brighten up a shower. And your teenager might even learn something along the way!

Buy the world through Bed Bath and Beyond for $19.99.

Buy the Boston transit map through Bed Bath and Beyond for $29.99.

Buy the periodic table through Uncommon Goods for $30.00.

Images via Bed Bath and Beyond and Uncommon Goods.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 9: The Nature Lover

I watch a lot of HGTV, and I know for a fact that some people are really into landscaping and curb appeal. I also know that I am not and that I would fail miserably if I tried to landscape something.

But I know some folks who still might appreciate even my attempts to understand their hobby when I buy them a tree.

Like a nice Golden Jubilee peach! Honestly, I don't know if these peaches are delicious or not. I do know that some people in my life like both peaches and trees. You must know someone like that, too. So why not purchase a nice fruit tree for your grandmother or uncle or distant cousin this Christmas?

And if you don't want to give your friend or relative a peach tree for some odd, odd reason, there are many more options.

Image via Arbor Day Foundation.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 8: The Listener

Although I personally love my iPod and have many friends who feel the same about theirs, some people in the world still swear by their vinyl records, and in fact many bands still offer vinyl versions of their latest albums. If you know one of those people, and if you have the means, why not give them a lovely turntable as a gift this year?

It's made of wood and glass, and it is sure to compliment any minimalist or naturalistic decorating scheme. And since it's handmade, each turntable is unique. What could be better than that?

Image via Anthropologie.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 7: The Cultured Gentleperson

Now, today, everyone is struggling, and that means that even your classiest, most cultured friend might not be able to make it to the dress circle at the theater. Your friend may even be stuck in the balcony. What to do? You can't afford season tickets for the orchestra section, but you do want to acknowledge the conundrum.

Why, you buy your friend a pair of opera glasses, of course! With a pair of brass opera glasses, your friend will be able to see the stage anywhere in the theater, and the riffraff won't have a chance to think that they are among friends and peers. Just a thrifty gentleman or lady trying to enjoy a play.

Perhaps your friend will even have you along one evening. You may need to purchase your own pair.


Monday, November 14, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 6: The Foodie

Food is delicious. We all know this. But some people don't enjoy food alone. For many, presentation is half the point of a nice meal. So why not pick up a few nice dishes to enhance the experience for the foodie in your life? I like these glazed black pieces, myself:

Just think of how well a nice slice of lasagna or quiche would stand out against the glossy surface of these places, or how lovely a nice miso soup would look in the bowl. I'm sure your friendly neighborhood foodie would find many more combinations!

Image via Crate and Barrel.


Friday, November 11, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 5: The Fashionista

My friend Lisa, whom I met in college, has recently taken up jewelry making, and I have to say that she's pretty good at it. She's chosen the name Senba Designs for her work, and each of her pieces is made by hand. For a good example of her handiwork, look at these lovely earrings:

Lisa uses only sterling silver and gold-filled wire in the hooks, thereby making her designs safe for those of us who have allergies or sensitivities to other metals. Additionally, she tells me that
Earlier this year, I realized how harmful conventional jewelry can be for both people and the environment, from the pollution involved in mining for metal to gemstone cutting in sweatshop conditions. That's why I use either paper and plastic that I come across in daily life to fold into origami or buy from sustainable sources, and I only use fair trade gemstones.
Truly, what could make a better gift for the fashionista in your life than a pretty, environmentally-friendly piece of jewelry? Plus Lisa's products are suitable for special occasions or everyday wear, which means that you can add them to any holiday outfit you're putting together.

For more information, contact Lisa via e-mail at or visit the Senba Designs Facebook page here.

Image via Senba Designs.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 4: The Gamer

The fact of the matter is, if you have a friend who is a gamer, your friend will probably find ways to finance the habit without your help. A GameStop gift card might not go amiss.

But gift cards are impersonal. They say, "I know this one thing about you. Make sure you have a couple extra dollars. I'm going to pay for most of your next game."

There are some gifts, however, that say, "I know this one thing about you, and I did a little research, and because you probably have very specific tastes I'm getting you this instead of a game or something."

This joystick can help your gamer friend recreate the experience of playing Atari or arcade games from the comfort of a cheap Wal-Mart office chair! How cool is that? It's really cool. Trust me.

The joystick is also hackable, if your gamer friend is into adding buttons. Me, I'd just leave it be and play with the one button it has. But it gives your gamer friend options--button options, game options, USB port options!

One could also ask one's gamer friend what would be best. But Pac-Man is a ton of fun.

Image via ThinkGeek.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 3: The Moviegoer

When it comes to films, few are more visually arresting than musicals. You know the kind--Technicolor extravaganzas with fanciful costumes and intricate choreography. And any aficionado of the genre would be happy to have the Fox-MGM Hollywood Musicals Collection, a 61-disc set including such mainstays as A Chorus Line, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Oklahoma!, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, among many others:

Even the packaging is splashy, like any good musical should be! But the contents are what really shine. Every era is represented, from the classics to modern hits, and such stars as Dick van Dyke, Deborah Kerr, Beverley D'Angelo, Natalie Wood, and Elvis Presley make appearances in the films contained within this exciting box. Pick one up for the film fanatic in your life and snuggle up for hours of entertainment together!

Image via Barnes and Noble.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 2: The Comic Fan

Whatever your definition of "comic book," we can all agree that sequential art is a big deal. On the Internet, webcomics flourish. In small independent comic shops, superheroes often reign, but Yorick Brown and Morpheus hang around as well.

But today's comics and graphic novels are not limited to sci-fi and fantasy. People tell all kinds of stories with pictures, including historical biographies.

Maus: A Survivor's Tale is the story of Art Spiegelman's relationship with his father Vladek, a survivor of the Holocaust, and of Vladek Spiegelman's life, including his experience during Hitler's reign.

The characters of Maus are depicted as animals. Different groups are different species--Jews are mice, Germans are cats, and Americans are dogs, for example. This could be a bit misleading, but I assure you, anthropomorphic animals do not a children's book make. Maus is a look at the experience of a real person in the real world, with metaphors.

Maus might just be perfect for the friend in your life who loves comics. Most comic readers I know aren't hopelessly narrow-minded when they choose what they consume, but they may need a little urging to set aside Superman and The Sandman* for something like this. They could end up better for it.

Buy Maus: A Survivor's Tale through Barnes & Noble for $18.56.

Image via Barnes & Noble.


*Actually, I tend to think you can expect more from those who read DC's Vertigo imprint than you can from people who only ever read superhero comics. My observations are not scientific. Also, you all know how I feel about Neil Gaiman.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide 2011, Part 1: The History Buff

It's that time again, and so for the second year in a row, we're bringing you the What We Covet Gift Guide! Cate will post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the next four weeks, and Maureen will post on Tuesdays and Thursdays during that time. Enjoy!


Last year, I wrote about a revolutionary war thing. Moving forward in American history, I've found something for the Civil War fanatic in your life: a guided tour of the Antietam battlefield. 

For those of you who don't know, the net result of the battle at Antietam Creek (near Sharpsburg, Maryland) was that it went down as the bloodiest single day in American military history, with combined Union and Confederate casualties totaling over 23,000. Gettysburg, about 50 miles away in Pennsylvania, may get more play as the bloodiest overall battle (at least 46,000 casualties), but Antietam paved the way for important historical events such as the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

If you're within striking distance of Sharpsburg, why not take your loved one who happens to enjoy historical excursions out to the battlefield for a guided tour? The National Park Service recommends contacting the Antietam Battlefield Guides, who offer basic tour packages starting at 2.5 hours; longer tours can be booked, as well. 

Having been to Antietam myself many years ago, I can personally guarantee that the experience will be moving and fascinating, even if you do not take a guided tour. The grounds are beautiful and peaceful, standing in sharp contrast to the bloody history in the soil.

Reserve a tour of Antietam through the Antietam Museum Store; packages start at $75.00.

Image (taken by famed Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner) via SimonSez.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Sleep to Dream

If there's one thing I absolutely have to have, it's a good night's sleep. Sometimes this requires a little bit of help, such as the extra bit of darkness afforded by a good sleep mask. Mine usually come from the drugstore, where they retail for about eight dollars. But those models are functional, not cute. Here's one that's both:

The thing I like most about it is that it combines my two favorite things: sleep and trash romance novels! All kidding aside, how fun is this? And the seller has many more available, both in the TRN motif and general patterned styles. If you need one of these like I do, take a look through the shop!

Image via Etsy.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Floppius Discus

If you were born after, say, 1994, don't pay this post any mind. You won't understand why I like this little spiral-bound journal so much.

It's made out of a 5.25-inch floppy disk! I can't say I really long for the days of the floppy disk. There are times when I fondly recall how handy they were. Once, Santa Claus stuffed my stocking with a super handy case for 3.5-inch floppies. It got a lot of use until I got my first flash drive.

I like this little notebook. This way I could use a floppy disk to keep track of things I write, just like I did in the fifth grade! Of course I primarily used 3.5-inch floppies. Not the point. This is a little more obscure. Kids these days won't have the first idea what it is. I recognize that I am coming dangerously close to sounding like a hipster. At least I don't wear skinny jeans.

Image via Etsy.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wings of Gold

Because I'm not much of a bracelet person, I tend to forget that other people wear them and might like to see them on this blog. So today, I'm going to rectify this by sharing a nice delicate bracelet with you:

What appeals to me about this bracelet is its versatility: equal parts Egyptian, Deco, and contemporary, it could pair well with a variety of outfits. I'd like to see it with a long-sleeved LBD, personally. How would you wear it?

Image via Etsy.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Commemorating Untrue Events

I don't actually shop Etsy very often. This is mostly because I like to buy myself nice things but know I shouldn't, and I like to support small business and know I should. See the dilemma?

I don't even have favorite Etsy shops, because I know I could ruin myself financially. But there is fun in browsing. So much fun.

"What is this?" you ask. "A painting of a dinosaur attacking a home with a splendid garage?"

Yes. It is that. But it is also the image associated with a listing for a painting of a dinosaur attacking your house. I assume this means you send the artist a picture of your house, choose your dinosaur, and end up with an oil painting of a dinosaur attacking your house.

And that's wonderful.

Buy through Phebe79's Etsy shop for $240.

Image via Etsy.