Am I still doing my heavy lifting? Yes, I am! Is it still kicking my ass? Yes, it is! Did I let that get in the way of posting today?
Because today is everyone's favorite shop-on-yer-ass day, Cyber Monday. Deals galore, and all from the comfort of, well, your ass! But where to start?
You probably have some ideas of your own, but in case you don't, or you're looking for a little sumpin'-sumpin' different, here's the best of the best stuff I found this year which would also make good gift-y stuff.
Some of the links are Amazon affiliate links, because Colleen is going to get herself a NEW Kindle 3 and would very much like to fill it with books for her travels in the coming year. As always, I appreciate when you shop through my general Amazon link, because MONEY is AWESOME.
Books to give for the holidays
Tiny Art Director, by Bill Zelman :: [art/humor] An artist's young daughter gives him directions on what to draw. Charming and hilarious, two words that don't often nestle up together in a review. After the blog of the same name.
The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb :: [spiritual/graphic novel] Probably not for your super-religious Aunt Adele, but quite wonderful for almost anyone interested in "cover" versions of things, especially the graphic novel enthusiast on your list. (My full review here.)
Sh*t My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern :: [memoir/humor] Beautifully written and quite endearing, this collection of life lessons disguised as personal essays showcases a very different (although still hilarious) side of everyone's fave Twitterdad, Sam Halpern.
All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost, by Lan Samantha Chang [fiction] :: You would not think that a story about the lives of two poets who meet in an MFA program could be so utterly engrossing, but boy, is it ever. About success and failure and the meaning of life without ever, ever being schmaltzy, trite or pretentious. Also, great characters. This may be my favorite book I read all year; it's certainly the one that still haunts me.
Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen :: [fiction] Sweeping, epic, incisive, laugh-out-loud funny and utterly engrossing tale of modern-day America and how we got there from here.
Food to send for the holidays
Flan King makes the best flan I have ever had, EVER. I told my friend, Greg (a.k.a., "The King") that his tagline should be "Even people who don't like flan love Flan King flan." He has still not taken my advice, but he is now shipping in the U.S. So. There you go.
Meadowfoam honey from the Bee Folks tastes like marshmallows. Let me repeat that: honey that tastes like marshmallows! Even if you are not on the SCD, this is probably a good thing. But if you are, and you can't eat Flan King flan anymore? It is dessert, baby. This honey costs a bazillion dollars a pound, and is 100% worth it. The site is a little '90-retro-fabulous, but everything works. And Lori, Chief Bee Folk, is good people.
Miscellaneous gift-y stuff
Nikki McClure's 2011 Calendar is so great, I buy them three at a time. My obsession is your gain: Buy Olympia now offers a "three pack" because of my polite haranguing. You can see how I use my three calendars here, but hey, if you're a normal person, you can buy ONE calendar for yourself and have TWO to give as gifts. Lucky you!
Pacifica Candles are made in Portland, OR, which is where I discovered them this year, on my last trip there. They smell super-delish, and are all crunchy-delicious and stuff. My favorite scent is the Mediterranean Fig, which is, most conveniently, green, so you can burn it during your hoodoo moneymaking ritual-type stuff. Or just make things smell nice. (P.S. The roll-on perfume is great, too, and very travel-friendly.)
Field Notes make you want to write stuff down. They are simple and perfect, which, as anyone who knows anything will tell you, is the hardest combination in the world to pull off. They are the perfect size. They have the perfect weight and grain of paper. And (oh, joy! oh, rapture!), they feature the perfect grid: not too light, not too dark, just enough to give a little shape and order to your crazy-brilliant mental meanderings. (Apparently, they come in plain and lined version. Whatever.) I bought a subscription this year and I am a bit embarrassed over how happy it's made me, those little three-packs showing up in the mail once per quarter. But just a bit. Because hey, THE PERFECT GRID.
The Bird and the Bee (A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates) was eeeeeasily my most-played CD of the year. Insanely great covers of Hall & Oates classics, these hip arrangements with sexy chick vocals work for parties, singing in the car, cleaning the house, and, I'd imagine, seducing pretty much anyone with good taste. So, yeah, pretty much the perfect gift. (And since I know you're just going to buy it for yourself, here's the direct link to the insta-download MP3 version on Amazon. It's the cure for all that crappy Christmas music that ails you.)
SodaStream makes things that let you make soda water at home. I sampled the goods at my pal Heather's place, and can give it an unqualified thumbs-up. Given that seltzer delivery ain't comin' back anytime soon and I'm starting to wake up to the horror that is "recyclable" (hahaha) single-use plastic, one of these is in my future. This would make an awesome household or everyone-chips-in gift, I think.