Don’t get me wrong. I don’t at all regret moving from NYC proper into the burbs of New Jersey. But there are some things that have become increasingly difficult to do, if only because of geography and the frustrations of public transportation systems. One of them is that it is nearly impossible to keep up with some of the groovy, ever-changing neighborhoods of the outer boroughs. I used to love strolling around the emerging shops of Boreum Hill or Williamsburg. Now going there is a journey, and getting in the car and driving upstate to the country usually wins out as a weekend activity. Enter Strolby, a new site that lets you pursue the goodies of the hippest of parts of Bklyn without crossing one river. Strolby not only lets you buy wares that range from colorful dresses to handcrafted ceramics, it also introduces you to the shop owners and creators behind the lovely goods. Its Explore Brooklyn blog keeps you up on the news from the streets and will have you have you feeling like a local in no time. Coming soon, Strolby Hudson, a way to visit our favorite upstate town that is a true stoller’s paradise!
There’s something dangerous about a soap that makes you drool, but as good as this smells, please don’t eat Wooly Beast‘s Maple Bacon Donut soap. This Portland-OR-based Etsy shop is making deliciously scented, small batch candles and soaps. While all may not sound as tempting as the aforementioned delight (Bearded man? There’s one in our house, and his smells get mixed reviews), each is olfactory sensation worth trying. Other favorites of ours include Stumptown (bringing that coffee bar flavor to any room) and Locavore (which is like a trip to the farmer’s market). The handmade soaps are $7 for a 3.5 oz bar. Candles are $15 for a 9oz version. Visit Wooly Beast on Etsy to see more.
If you’re one of those people who wishes you had time to make a homemade valentine for your sweetie, but life (and your schedule) have other plans, consider the Cup of Love from Catherine’s Table. Each piece is made with care by potters Noelle VanHendrick and Eric Hendrick of Zpots Studio Pottery. With a unique texture and carefully molded to feel good in your hand, these little beauties were clearly made with love.. and the handwritten font gets an A+ from us on design. Use them for hot toddies or to hold a bouquet of flowers on a breakfast tray. $32 at Catherine’s Table.
The end of another year is a upon us and these are the last two days to make a donation to a deserving charitable foundation and have it count toward your 2013 taxes. If giving back has been on your to-do list for a while, and you remain undecided, consider a few of our favorite orgs that are in need and deserving of your funds.
1. The Pacific Whale Foundation
Based in Maui, the PWF monitors and helps protect all sorts of vital marine life. Of course, the Pacific Humpback Whale is their focus, and over 2,000 of the giants pass through the warm waters of Maui each year. (Right now, in fact! January and February are the height of the season.) Give $55 and you’ll receive a Hawaiian Pancake breakfast kit, including coconut syrup, pancake mix and a Kona coffee gift box. You can also “adopt” a dolphin, whale or turtle for $75.
During Hurricane Sandy, we learned first-hand what is like to go without clean water for a few days. It’s hard to fathom a life without it being easily accessible, but for millions around the globe, obtaining clean water is a difficult chore. Co-founded by Matt Damon, Water.org is an amazing organization that is bringing clean water sanitation systems to remote communities around the world. Buy a $25 special edition Camelback bottle or just donate $100 to their year end campaign. That amount will support a family’s water supply for a year.
3. Support your local NPR station
In a world where quick headlines and re-appropriated stories dominate our media streams, the role of NPR and its news gathering force is more crucial than ever in our American lives. We can’t even begin to count the number of amazing reports we heard over the past year. If we gave Ira Glass or Terry Gross $5 every time they moved us to tears or caused us to really laugh out loud, they’d be rich indeed. Now is the perfect time to support them. Click here to find the station near you.
Some things are always smart gifts — like bars of fine milled soap, hand printed tea towels, or lovely scented candles in re-usable votive holders. Jonathan Adler helps you cross that item off your list today by having a one day only, two-for-one sale on his super adorable Pop Candles. They come in a rainbow of colors (though none of them are radiant orchid, sadly) and a variety of scents. Our favorites are earl grey and grapefruit. We’re going to nab a half a dozen and give to co-workers, teachers and neighborhood hostesses that are on our list! Click here to buy today and use the code GIVEGETPOP.