Stories for: Gift Guides

Gift Guides, Mom & KidsMagnolia the Bunny – Limited Edition

Magnolia Easter-2I almost melted into a puddle when I first laid eyes on Magnolia the Bunny, dressed in her Easter best! Magnolia is the latest limited-edition member of the Walnut Animal Society family, whose gifted creator Lauren Bradshaw takes the art of stuffed animals to a whole new level. Each animal is handmade of the highest-quality materials (to stand up to years of hugs!) and no two are exactly alike. Darling Magnolia is perfect for kids but even I felt a tug at my heart as she brought back so many whimsical memories of childhood imaginary friends.

My two-year-old actually let out a squeal when she first saw Magnolia, as even she could appreciate the rabbit’s charming cuteness (plus bunnies are her favorite right now). Last night, I managed to put her to bed without her beloved bunny so I could snag myself some quality time to admire her. Standing at two feet tall, Magnolia feels substantial, well-built and is just the right size for little arms to hug. She is impeccably dressed in Liberty of London-cut garments, and this styling rabbit knows how to mix prints in the most chic and adorable way! I had to smile at the bunny-print lower on her dress which was designed by Merrilee Liddiard of Mer Mag.

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Gift Guides, Mom & KidsRousskine

rousskineJ’adore Rousskine, a delightful boutique I discovered recently whose owner Dominique pulls from her imagination to create handmade animals, scarves, and other cute friends. I introduced Arielle, a beautifully made super-stylish little fox to my daughter recently, and they’ve been inseparable ever since. I really appreciate the softness of that materials used, and details like a floral lining for the ears is so sweet. Arielle’s proportions make her cute and hip at the same time! I was so curious to get to know the creator of this chic collection, Dominique was kind enough to indulge some of my curiosities, all the way from Montreal.

Can you briefly describe your background? I studied fashion design but found my real passion when I studied textile design. I had the chance to work in a small handmade toy company one year later. So I still learn everyday, and get to do what I love full time.

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Gift GuidesLast Minute Holiday Gifts for All Budgets

last-minute-gift-guide

Still shopping for the holidays? Me too. In fact, I just ordered another box of these last night! Sure, it’s the 11th hour, but there are still plenty of gems out there just waiting to be gift-wrapped and rushed to your friends, family and co-workers. In case you’re at a loss, here are my top picks for crowd-pleasing gifts (counter-clockwise from top left):

1) WILT Slub Jersey Slouchy BF, $105 — One of the most comfortable brands in my closet this season, WILT makes these versatile hi-low tops in many different fabrics and shades — all of which look and feel different! Take your pick, or just spring for this little black number. (They’re roomy so you can just ballpark the size.) It will be a lifetime staple in your favorite fashion lover’s closet, promise!

2) Diptyque 34 Boulevard Saint Germain Candle, $80 — Ask any candle or fragrance fanatic; you can’t go wrong with Diptyque. Named after the brand’s first boutique location, this unique, gender-neutral scent is at once fresh, spicy, calming and oddly addictive. Available online (or check your local Bloomingdale’s).

3) Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne, $29.99 — With New Year’s Eve coming soon, a bottle of champagne is on every party lover’s subconscious wish list. However, if a highly rated Cristal or an ever-popular Veuve Clicquot are out of your price range, go for this solid pick. Not only is its red label festive around the holidays, it’s widely available and consistently tastes good, if not better, than several more expensive brands I’ve tried.

4) Head Massager, $4.50 — These are super cheap stocking stuffers, and while they might seem tacky at first glance, believe me — the person you give them to will hunt you down and thank you later. They are instant stress reducers. Don’t believe me? Have someone else run one over your head; you’ll be amazed!

5) Bodum Pavina Cups, starting at $7.50 — Inspired by the chamomile mint tea I recently ordered at Alma, Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant in America 2013, these double-walled, temperature- and scratch-resistant cups are pure genius when it comes to holding hot beverages. I prefer the tiny 2.5-ounce espresso cups but they also come in 12- and 16-ounce sizes, as well as this handy tea version with an infuser.

Food, Gift Guides, Los AngelesThe Sweetest Gift: Sugarfina Beverly Hills

sugarfina beverly hills

I don’t know about you but I seem to have outgrown the candy emporiums of my youth — where color-coded M&Ms graced the walls, waiting to be dispensed into a plastic bag for my movie-snacking pleasure. But what I haven’t outgrown is really good candy. And that’s where gourmet candy curators and founders of Sugarfina, Rosie O’Neill and Josh Resnick, found their sweet spot.

Recently engaged, Rosie and Josh met on Match.com four years ago and dreamed up the idea for Sugarfina, a gourmet candy haven for grown-ups, after watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on their third date. A combination of marketing savvy (she used to be a marketing director for Barbie) and entrepreneurial success (Josh sold the now-defunct Pandemic Studios, a video-game design firm, to Electronic Arts in a deal valued at $860 million), they had great potential for success.

Sugarfina launched in August 2012 online, and just this weekend, these lovebirds opened the first-ever Sugarfina candy boutique for grown-ups in Beverly Hills. I stopped by during their fourth hour of operation, got a tour from Rosie and sampled as much candy as I could. (Tough job, I know.) Here are the highlights: READ MORE

Beauty, Gift Guides5 Beauty Gifts for Your Most Discerning Friend

We all know that woman–impressive resume, incredible wardrobe, impeccable style, and…impossible to shop for. But this is beauty and there is something for everyone–even the girl who has it all. Below, we’ve rounded up our five favorite beauty treasures of the moment that are guaranteed to delight even your most discerning friend.

 

Aerin-fragrances

1. AERIN Fragrance Collection: Aerin Lauder is, plain and simple, a style icon. She is the epitome of timeless American style and ever since the world of Aerin launched, discerning girls everywhere have wanted to live no where else. Her inaugural fragrance collection invites users on a sensory journey through her life and memories, with each scent inspired by her experiences and traditions. From sparkling white flowers and wet marine notes (Gardenia Rattan) that invoke the carefree happiness of a summer day in the Hamptons to a rich blackberry, cognac and rose elixir (Evening Rose) that captures the intoxicating buzz of a glamorous evening city gala, the collection is meant to transport and inspire. Each of the five eau de parfum sprays (Ikat Jasmine, Evening Rose, Gardenia Rattan, Amber Musk, and Lilac Path) is encased in a heavy beveled glass bottle topped with a tumbled stone cap, making the packaging just as luxurious as the fragrance. READ MORE

Beauty, Gift Guides, Makeup, ShoppingTarte Bow & Go 3-in-1 Holiday Gift Collection: One-Day Sale

Tarte QVC One-Day Sale

Yes, this is happening! I’ll make this quick …

For those of you who have never been in my bathroom, I have an entire drawer full of Tarte Cosmetics — and I wear their eye shadows almost every day. So you can imagine how delighted I was to receive a sample of their Bow & Go 3-in-1 Holiday Gift Collection, three gorgeous gift boxes filled with full-size, vegan-friendly, cruelty free products. The set includes a box of Amazonian clay eyeliners and Lights, Camera, LASHES mascaras (two each), a box of four LipSurgence Lip Cremes and a box of 16 Amazonian clay eye shadows.

And get this, for today only, they’re available at QVC for only $49.98. That’s, like, almost a $200 savings. (What?!? Is the world ending?!?) I suggest you get over there and buy at least one before the price goes up. They make great gifts — and since there are three boxes, you can keep one for yourself. (The hard part is choosing which one!)

Food, Gift Guides, Los AngelesGet in the Spirit with Twice the Vice

Twice the Vice Chocolates

Is it too early to talk about holiday gifts? My mind is already racing with ideas! It started at a truffle-making class I took recently at Caffe Luxxe, one of the best coffee shops in Los Angeles (well, Santa Monica, to be specific). There, Craig Boreth, founder of Twice the Vice chocolates and author of The Hemingway Cookbook, plied us with his amazing artisan spirited truffles.

Made with Callebaut Belgian chocolate, Twice the Vice chocolates are filled with top-shelf liquors such as The Glenlivet 15-year Scotch, crowd-pleasers such as Bombay Sapphire gin and cocktails such as the Woodford Reserve Mint Julep or The Big Lebowski lovers’ favorite, the White Russian. Each piece is packed with 1/8th to 1/10th of a shot, giving you a much richer, more sophisticated flavor than you’d get with those funny little bottle-shaped chocolates. Still, while select boxes are still illegal to ship in many states, the chocolates aren’t overwhelmingly potent — which is a good thing. Of course, if you choose to eat a whole box yourself, I can’t guarantee you won’t get a buzz!

Twice the Vice spirited chocolates are available online and totally worth the price. I highly recommend ordering them this year for the drinking men and women in your life — naughty and nice!

Celebrities, Food, Gift Guides, Los AngelesPicture Perfect Gift: The Macallan Masters of Photography with Elliot Erwitt

The Macallan Elliot Erwitt
Remember the famous photo of Jackie Kennedy at JFK’s funeral? Or the ones of Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Seven Year Itch and The Misfits? Those were taken by Elliot Erwitt, the man responsible for some of the most iconic photographs of our time. Erwitt is the fourth photographer to team up with The Macallan, my favorite Scotch, for their award-winning Masters of Photography series. (Previous collaborations were with Annie Leibovitz last year, Albert Watson in 2010 and Rankin in 2008.) The result? About 2,030 limited-edition sets featuring unique single malt Scotch whiskies paired with Erwitt’s gorgeous autographed photos. READ MORE

Gift Guides, Mom & KidsHottest Ride in Town: Automoblox

automoblox-emergency-line

I think my one-and-half year old has found her calling in life: ambulance driver. Watch out, because the need for speed is apparently an innate trait perpetuated by Automoblox, the coolest toy on the market right now. For any toddler and beyond, Automoblox has a whole line of originals, minis, and exclusive cars, trucks, and the latest: the Emergency Response Line! The new line includes a police car, a fire truck which looks more like a futuristic SUV, and my personal favorite, the rescue truck. As I watch our mini-driver take apart and put together the truck at dizzying speeds, I realize she’s moving faster than I could even think about what goes where. Despite myself, I can’t stop from “borrowing” the cars for a bit to admire the workmanship that goes into Automoblox. From the hot chrome wheels to the removable passengers, I’m impressed with the fit and quality of each specimen. There’s more to the trucks than meet the eye: because Automoblox cars run so smoothly, they fly across hard surfaces like a well-oiled vehicle should. In the midst of her playful delight, our toddler has channeled her creative side, building a sort of obstacle course for the trucks. First step is rolling them down her slide (and squealing as they pick up speed), then slowing them down by crashing them into an oversized pillow, only to have trucks climb the next precipice. I can’t help but feel the motion sickness of the little silver passengers sitting inside! READ MORE

Fragrance, Gift GuidesLast Minute Shopping: A Perfume for Every Mom

Last minute gift shopping for Mother’s Day usually results in a not-so-thoughtful gift, with the exception, of course, of buying her a new bottle of perfume, which is one of the most personal gifts out there. We know it’s Friday…and that you have to see mom on Sunday, but no sweat — the mall is open on Saturday, and our personal perfume picks below will definitely hide any trace of this being a last-minute job. So whether your mom is super luxe or super down-to-earth, we’ve got you covered with some of the best new fragrances this season (plus something extra to go with each one).

JCFor the fun mom: Jimmy Choo Flash. If you have a fun mom — you know the kind that knows how to have a good time (and maybe even rolled to a few parties with you back in the day) — consider me very jealous of you growing up. Celebrate her fun-loving ways with the new perfume by Jimmy Choo, Flash, a bright burst of white florals tempered by pink pepper and powdery woods that creates an uplifting yet sensual fragrance. Even the bottle and the packaging is a lot of fun: the crystal-faceted, shimmery bottle is reminiscent of a paparazzi flash bulb and the glitter packaging barely needs any wrapping. If you’re really good to your mom, you might even get her a new pair of party shoes to go with it. READ MORE

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