This is my ninth annual list. It funny, what started out a shameless emulation of the Divine Ms. O’s list has become an annual offering that is as much a glimpse into my personal preferences as it is a list of practical gifting giving ideas. Without any further ado, here are a few of my favorite things.
I was lucky enough to score my first Urth Bag at a silent charity auction. When I first saw it I knew it was a bag I had to have. Ok I paid a bit more that I should have but it was for a good cause. These are one-of-a-kind, stylish and cooler than cool handbags. The colors and patterns are unlike anything you have ever seen. Urth Bags are eco-chic handbags, totes, and purses made of recycled and biodegradable materials like juice boxes, magazines and seashells. These are the most unique handbags I owe and a conversation piece for sure. If you are eco-conscious as I am, this fits right in with your green goals. If you are not, there’s no time like the present to get on board and do it with style. The company says these are “purses made with a purpose.” Indeed they are. Urth Bags is a site you gotta take a peek at. Price: $20-$84.
We all know the benefits of antioxidants and how they counter the harmful effects of free radicals in the body. Pomegranates are one of the richest sources of antioxidants and the array of products that contain the immune boosting fruit have been incorporated into countless consumer products. Well there’s another one that has hit the market and its vino! Yes wine. Twin Pomegranates Wine is produced by a small winery in Madera, California. The company, owned by twin brothers, has crafted locally grown pomegranates into wines that are unique, exotic and yummy. The varieties that are available are red, white, sparkling and sweet. The red was unspeakably amazing. The website says “one glass promotes smiling.” Yep that’s about right. Check out Twin Pomegranates Wines for yourself. Price: $12.99 to $14.99 for a smile.
Marsatta Fancy Chocolates
Artisan chocolate. Those two words should be inextricably bound forever. And with Marsatta Fancy Chocolates they are. OMG (that’s oh my goodness) these chocolates are elegant, divine and seductively good. You see fresh, organic, raw cocoa beans are painstakingly transformed by the chocolatier into decadent creations. The chocolate pieces are hand crafted using ingredients like caramel, roasted nuts, liqueurs, spices and tea. Truffles, chocolate bars, chocolate dipped strawberries, assorted chocolates, chocolate croissants and chocolate cake – they got you. When I tasted one of their liqueur filled chocolates and croissants, they had me. Oh did mention they have mastered making gourmet sugar free chocolate? The prices are a bit high end, but aren’t you worth it? Marsatta Fancy Chocolates make a great gift for those hard to shop for folks on your list. Price: Varies; Premium Assorted Box Line $8 to $72.
Laws of Depravity
During the holiday season we often find ourselves with a little down town between the frenzy moments of shopping and cooking. Looking for a little somethin’ somethin’ to curl up with in those moments of repose? Well Laws of Depravity, a new psychological thriller written by actor and director Eriq La Salle, could be it. You mean Dr. Peter Benton from the television drama series E.R.? Yes indeed I do. La Salle has written a griping, page-turning, keep you on the edge of your seat novel that is garnering praise from coast to coast. It’s his fresh new entry into the literary world and it’s causing a lot of buzz and a lot of eyeballs to widen with suspense. The plot line is a bit dark, but rays of light shine throughout it. It’s provocative and stirring. La Salle struts his stuff in this one and proves he is a bona fide story teller. Get a copy of Laws of Depravity for yourself or for those who love the psychological thriller genre. Price: $15.00.
Just when you thought you had a fairly good grasp on social media, out of nowhere comes social commerce. That’s one way to describe Open Sky. It’s like Pinterest, you know the hot, new virtual pinboard where users can post and share with their followers images of things they like. On Open Sky celebrities like Bobby Flay, Martha Stewart and Serena Williams share some of their favorite things in a Pinterest-like landscape but the difference is followers can not only post their likes about an item they can actually buy that item – like accessories, apparel , beauty and health products, electronics and kitchen gadgets just to mention a few. It’s a really cool concept. If you love social media and its endless possibilities, visit the site and perhaps you might score something really cool like a layer cake slicing kit – I did. Price: Varies and you will find a deal and something amazing.
Every woman has a signature fragrance, her “go to” and “come hither” scent. Well mine changes every year. It’s it my prerogative. I am woman and it’s written in my creed. It’s been said that this is the “Year of Woman” with the record gains we’ve amassed in the Senate and Congress. In the spirit of women one of my favorite things this year is the Donna Karan fragrance “Woman.” Ooh La La mi amor it is absolutely feminine and sensual – well that’s what I’ve been told by those who know (wink, wink). The fragrance was created as a homage to the strength and softness of women. It is a collaborative effort among six amazing women whose philanthropic work has changed the lives of people domestically and aboard. The bottle is a work of art with an architectural design that symbolizes sensuality and infinity. Visit the Donna Karan New York website for more information about the “Woman” campaign. Price: $85 for a 1.7 ounce bottle.
Bromont Avenue Foods
It’s all about spice when it comes to seasoning foods. Bromont Avenue Foods gets that with its unique spice products that are low in sodium and enormous in flavor. Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning is known for its sassy favor; Velvet Noir Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning has a hint of espresso and organic ground vanilla bean that makes it rich and exotic. Both are a little savory, smoky, mildly spicy, and touched with a hint of velvety sweetness. They are the most versatile blend of over 25 herbs and spices you have ever used. And they turn everyday, mundane chicken, seafood, pork, beef, lamb, soups and stews into something unforgettable. If don’t have a few pouches of these delectable spices in your pantry, remedy that by visiting Bromont Avenue Foods and order some for yourself and the “spice junkies” in your life. They will salute you. Price: $5.49.
Well that’s a wrap and it’s time for me to get back to wrapping my holiday presents and treats. Happy Holidays and may the joy of the season give you comfort and peace.
Veronica Hendrix is a syndicated columnist and feature writer whose work has covered the span of the human continuum – from clinical trials of male contraceptives, to the gang violence. She is the owner of Bromont Avenue Foods and the author of “Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning Heart Healthy Recipes.” Visit http://bromontavefoods.com for more information. For comments, interviews, speaking engagements or moderator requests please send an email to [email protected].