Oprah may have her “Favorite Things” every Christmas–so now your Hip Reporter does too! I decided this year to share with you, some of my favorite things in all price ranges, that I’ve been adoring throughout the year that would be a wonderful holiday gift for someone special in your life who happens to appreciate beautiful things.
Because here at The Hip Report, it’s all about the beautiful. Not always the most expensive…but the beautiful. Read on.
Jan Sevadjian Frames
I was first introduced to Jan’s beautiful frames at a quaint gift shop in Delray Beach, Florida, a year ago. I couldn’t take my eyes off their elegant simplicity and refreshing colors. The gilded motifs (dragonflies, bees, maple leaves, sea horses, birds, Fleur de Lis, etc) are a perfect adornment and contrast to the simple linen they’re made of.
I love to give these as gifts and at $38.00 each, they are affordable and will go with just about any decor out there.
Available online at Creme de la Creme or if you’re lucky, you might chance upon them as I did at a local interior decor/gift store. http://www.cremegifts.com/store/index.asp?DEPARTMENT_ID=1014&pg=1&VIEW_ALL=Y
Kate Somerville’s “EradiKate” Acne Treatment
Acne treatment for Christmas? Heck yeah. Santa doesn’t like pimples and no gal wants to look like Rudolph with a bright red beacon on her face for cocktail parties and holiday get togethers!
This is a terrific little stocking stuffer and wow does it work. I’ve had the motherlode of stress in my life lately and acne flare ups have been a part of my daily routine due to it. I would be lost without my Kate Somerville. When I feel an ugly pimple coming on, I run for my Eradicate, sleep with it on and wake up the next day with much less of a problem. It’s nothing short of miraculous. This skincare solution provides the highest level of sulfur allowed in order to calm acne flare-ups and free skin of further bacteria buildup. The result is a clear complexion that lasts.
You’ll find Kate Somerville skin care at Nordstroms and Sephora. $22 for one ounce. http://www.sephora.com/eradikate-acne-treatment-P232903
Hue Knee Socks
My husband’s side has a tradition at Christmas. Everyone no matter their age or gender, gets a pair of socks. So why not start your own sock tradition? The best ones out there are Hue’s knee socks which are soft, stay up and are perfect with boots and leggings to keep your legs warm but not adding too much bulk. Available at Macy’s, Dillards, Nordstroms, etc. $21 for three pairs.
I only wear Hue for a reason. They’re that comfy.
Vince Cable Knit Sweater in Heather and Vince Leggings
I have always loved Vince sweaters and leggings. The quality is incredible, the vibe is California cool and the cashmere and yak wool they use in their sweaters will have you calling any Vince sweater you own, a favorite.
This year, I am coveting Vince’s cable knit sweater in Heather. It’s $325 and not too thick and bulky but just right. It would go with skirts, jeans, leggings and although expensive, you should consider this an investment piece and a classic, to be worn for many, many years to come.
Also a favorite of your Hip Reporter–Vince leggings. They are the only leggings I will wear. They wash beautifully, hold their shape (no baggy bum after just a few washings) and the shade of black is so inky dark, it’s perfect. I hate ‘kinda-sorta black leggings.’ They have to be the deepest black out there so as not to look cheap. These are deep, deep black and they wash up time after time after time, just like new.
Available at fine department stores and online at:
Tea Forte Tea
I am not, repeat, NOT a tea drinker. But I have fallen madly, deeply in love with Tea Forte Teas so I guess now, I have become a tea drinker which is quite shocking to me. I have always hated the watered down, bitter taste of tea. But I was introduced to Tea Forte teas and ever since then, I’ve been a convert. Or an addict. Whichever you want to call it.
Tea Forte teas are made from the finest spices and ingredients and come in the most heavenly, exotic combinations: Green Mango Peach, Lemon Sorbetti, Coconut Mango Colada, Apricot Amaretto, Cherry Cosmo–the blends are endless it seems and impressive.
You really need to go to their site to see the fascinating combinations, each sounding more delectable than the next. Tea Forte is available at http://www.teaforte.com/?gclid=CNyn5aDu8boCFSJo7AodbTQAWA
Prices vary depending on the style of tea you order–loose, in their signature (and very chic, above) pyramid diffusers or in traditional bags. Expect to pay $7.50 for 12 steeping bags and $7.95 for the more elegant pyramid infusers. Tea Forte costs more than grocery store brands but when you are in the mood for a very, very special tea, this is really it.
Ordering from their website is easy. Neiman Marcus often carries Tea Forte in their gourmet food section usually on the second floor of the stores too.
Life Changes Bible Studies by Nav Press
I love giving books at Christmas. And I love giving books that touch me. I guess I figure if I like them, I should pass the ‘love’ on to others to enjoy.
This holiday, considering the tempest I have endured this terrible, terrible year I have had, I have found comfort in reading about something bigger than myself, bigger than the material world around me. We are inundated with tragedy in the news, lately with the tornadoes in the midwest and the typhoon in the Philippines—and I haven’t even touched on the crimes, wars and general insanity of our broken world.
I have found Bible studies from Nav Press to be invaluable to understanding God on a more intimate, deeper level. Nav Press’s Life Changes Series of Bible Studies, takes one book of the Bible at a time and dissects it in a most completely fascinating way and allows your faith journey to be less head scratching and more ‘ah ha.’
I have loved the studies of Luke and Daniel specifically.
Luke gives the reader a thorough examination in to Christ’s life here on earth, His personality, His motivations, His mission. It is a perfect place to start in understanding the Messiah’s 33 years here on earth.
The study of Daniel is engaging too–for it will take you in to the life of a man who refused to bow to the group mentality. His life is astounding. A foreigner in a pagan land, Daniel stayed true to his God, the bigger picture and his faith. He was no man ‘of the moment,’ caving in to peer pressure and impetuousness. His commitment to his beliefs and his character will encourage you and serve as a strong example of what it means to trust God at every turn. Even when you are thrown in a blast furnace with your friends.
A perfect stocking stuffer if ever there was one.
You can find these wonderful studies at:
And lastly, on a random note, I’d like to pass on a book I have read this year that impacted me the most: Max Lucado’s ‘You’ll Get Through This.’
At any one time, our lives can come collapsing down around us, through no fault of our own (talk to the folks in the Midwest who returned to their homes in rubble from the storms or to a war hero left handicapped from a roadside bomb.) It all seems a million miles away from many of us, that kind of tragedy and loss and upset– but at some point in our lives we will all be up-dumped by just the ebb and flow of life, or our own bad decisions or the bad decisions of others. Trust me, I am living the latter and it is misery.
I found Max Lucado’s book, ‘You’ll Get Through This’ to be my mental lifesaver. It read as if Lucado, a successful pastor in Austin, Texas, was sitting right across the table from me at Starbucks over a latte listening to my complaints and upset and questions. It boils down to: ‘Why is there suffering? Why do we have to wait and wait for help, for answers?’ Lucado’s confident and encouraging answers to the age-old theme of suffering are utterly intelligent. This book was so good, I read it twice.
Lucado profiles the unbelievable life of Joseph, the insane downs and yes ultimate ups, that made him the great man God was shaping him to be. Lucado assures us that if we trust God, He will weave our life together in a beautiful tapestry for our character building and for His glory. It is a comfort when life seems unfair, cruel and very random.
I can’t recommend this book enough to you if you are hurting. Christmas can be a time of pain for many, often when those past losses and hurts can hit one afresh. This book will enlighten, encourage and endear…endear you to a God who did nothing random in Joseph’s life– and who will do nothing random in ours.
Available at major book stores and online:
The Belvah Bag–Probably the Most Perfect Tote Bag Out There
I am so picky about my tote bags. So picky. When I carry them, they’re slung over my shoulder and hanging under my arm and inevitably whatever its made of is usually chaffing me to death if it isn’t made of a comfortable material. (Raffia, canvas–all stiff and ick. They are miserable to carry because they don’t feel good against my body.)
Enter the Belvah Bag. My favorite tote bag ever. It’s made from very soft quilted cotton (I like mine in a black and white damask) and has a pockets on the inside and outside. It’s just about perfect for weekend visits. On the odd chance I spill anything in it as I travel, it washes up beautifully and air dries. I’ve monogrammed mine which makes it that much niftier.
Tote bags have come and gone for me and have generally been unnecessarily expensive. The Belvah Bag is completely affordable at $29.95. You’ll find Belvah Bags at fine gift stores or simply go online to order. I’m convinced this bag will become your favorite too… or the favorite of whoever is lucky enough to receive one from a very savvy and tasteful giver like you.
My treasured Belvah Bag is the Large Tote in damask:
Nancy Thomas Folk Art
If you’ve ever been to the Tidewater area of Virginia (Williamsburg, Yorktown) perhaps you’ve heard of the area’s cherished artist in residence, Nancy Thomas. Hailing from Yorktown, her studio resides close to the banks of the historical and expansive York River. Nancy’s impish folk art paintings are colorful and childlike. She has been collected by the White House and other famous and Hollywood notables.
Nancy’s metal plaques are her trademark (above) and her metal toppers on those plaques (often a flag, a peach, a heart–you name it) are hand painted and complete the charm of the piece. Her inspirations are drawn from the simple in life: baking, gardening, parades, the harvest, Santas, children, angels, beaches, Americana. My home is filled with her bright and cheerful pieces honoring states I’ve lived in (her ‘states’ series pay proud tribute to each state’s highlights) as well as the months my family was born.
Nancy’s art starts at $45 for small plaques and can go up into the triple digit and beyond. Her website is darling to meander through and if you are in Yorktown visiting, by all means, stop at the Nancy Thomas studio. It is not to be missed. Nor are the errant cats puttering around her yard, sniffing the air and batting half-bored, at bugs.
In an age where homes are often monuments to the owner’s wealth and good taste, Nancy offers artwork that brings something different– a simple and casual lightheartedness and humor to our notion of art. For your Hip Reporter, it is endearing and a welcome break from the seriousness in decorating I often see in home after home.
Gift someone with their home state or a folk art Santa plaque. Likely it will do what it does to me–smile every time it’s glanced upon…
Your Hip Reporter isn’t so big in to candy. Seriously. It just all tastes like wax to me. But there is one chocolate I stop dead in my tracks for, one chocolate I will actually plop money down for when I am feeling weak and needing a cacao fix, so to speak. It’s Vosges Chocolates.
Get ready. This is not your typical chocolate. Insanely exotic flavors like Milk Chocolate and Bacon, Salted Caramel and Toffee in Milk Chocolate, Reishi Mushroom and Walnut Super Dark Chocolate, Blood Orange and Caramel, Smoke and Stout Caramel, Guajillo and Chipotle Chili Super Dark Chocolate– are just some of the mind-blowing chocolate bar combinations. Truffles, caramels, bars—the offings at Vosges are enough to make you just laugh at Willie Wonka as a poser. -Ha!
My absolute favorites are the Bacon Bar and the Salted Caramel and Toffee Milk Chocolate. And the best way to enjoy them is to break off a square, place it on your tongue and press the chocolate piece in to the roof of your mouth and allow it to melt. No biting into these gorgeous confections like you would a common Hershey Bar.
Vosges has stores in New York, Chicago and Las Vegas. They also sell here in Charlotte at Fresh Market on Carmel. But if you aren’t fortunate enough to have them local to you, don’t worry. Their website is fantastic and fun to look through and you can order any thing you like from it, even beautiful gift baskets and other items like their own Bacon Pancake Mix. (wow!)
Vosges (pronounced Vo-jay) makes a beautiful stocking stuffer, or tucked under a bow on top of a present. The bars (nice and big) are $7.50 which is totally reasonable for such impressive quality chocolate and the truffle boxes start at $26.00 for 9.
Lithopane Night Lights
A wonderful gift, affordable and useful, is the Lithopane Nightlight. Made of the finest porcelain, these night lights display a peaceful, 3-D scene when illuminated. Visions of moons, suns, children, animals, angels–are some of the perfect themes for a soft glow from a night light that is nothing short of art.
It’s a perfect price point ($24.95) and who among us couldn’t use such a lovely night light somewhere in our homes?
I love Bobbi Brown anything. Though it doesn’t quite have the cache of CHANEL, my favorite cosmetic, it’s still so much fun to use and wear. And I love how the Bobbi Brown girl looks–polished but not overdone, just a better version of herself.
Here are two wonderful offings for the holiday–her unbeatable brush collection and her holiday eye palette, one of several available now for a limited time only. I think her color combinations are gorgeous in the one, below. It’s my favorite of them all. The entire winter collection is online and at finer department stores everywhere.
Kate Spade Earrings
Perfect for New Years coming up or any fun event that involves celebration and champagne, these Kate Spade earrings let everyone know you mean business when it comes to getting your party on.
Simple and small, they’re tasteful yet frisky. Affordable at $32.
Michael Kors Astor Bracelet in Silver/Gold
I received this very cool versatile bracelet from a very dear friend (Christine, you know who you are!) and I absolutely must recommend it at Christmas.
Called the Astor bracelet by Michael Kors, this piece goes with just about anything, considering it is both gold and silver. The studs make it not precious at all (ugh—your Hip Reporter hates precious) and the unique and well-designed buckle closure makes it feel architectural and urban.
I find I wear it with my sleeker streamlined pieces, my cashmere turtlenecks and Vince sweaters, jackets from H&M that I adore and my boyfriend jeans. Michael Kors is known for his ‘City Girl’ aesthetic and this bracelet is no exception. It’s one you’ll reach for again and again.
The Astor is a great investment and a great piece to stack and layer with other bangles and bracelets. $95 and available at the Kors website and finer department stores like Nordstroms.
And props to my friend for her very good taste and perfect gift.
Nine West Sloan Bootie
My favorite winter shoe, Nine West’s Sloane bootie is pretty much perfect. A low heel (fantastic for all day wear) and a comfortable foot bed and simple lines make for a wardrobe classic. The Sloane pairs well with just about anything–rolled up jeans, skinny jeans and leggings. I wear mine with any and every color–black, navy, brown and gray, they’re that versatile. (I have the Taupe Suede color, above.)
You could pay more money for a casual bootie but why on earth would you bother when Nine West has literally made the best bootie. And you’re in luck–originally $109, they are on sale for $68.99 at:
Assouline Press, Proust Questionnaire
I am besotted with the Proust Questionnaire, Vanity Fair’s last page. The questions are nothing short of perfect and fabulous and the responses from the famous, stay with you like gum stuck to your shoe.
Some of my favorite questions are: What is your lowest depth of misery? What traits do you most admire in a woman? A man? When were you the happiest? I tell you, these questions are just enough to give you a glimpse in to the heart and minds of anyone, including you and your family and friends.
Enter the book, Proust Questionnaire by Assouline:
Marcel Proust’s questionnaire is one of the best-known interview devices used in the media nowadays. Fun, intelligent, and concise, it reveals much of the personality of those questioned. Assouline Publishing presents a handsome and entertaining facsimile edition of the original questionnaire.
The book features questionnaires filled out by a variety of cultural figures such as Brigitte Bardot, Marisa Berenson, and Richard Meier. A set of blank questionnaires are included at the end of the book, making The Proust Questionnaire an ideal gift—with many returns. (text courtesy of assouline.com) $45
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE AND GOD BLESS YOU RICHLY IN 2014!