Best Gifts for (Green) Travelers

6 12 2010

It’s that time of year again, and since I’ve developed a reputation as being sort of an expert in the realm of gift guides (yes, apparently that is a realm), I’ve applied my expertise yet again to a few guides. First up: The Soup to Nuts Eco-Getaway a la offManhattan.com. Check out everything your favorite traveler needs to make his or her trip a little greener (and more fun/fashionable/delicious). I’m personally loving the Ahava gift set, mostly for the cute retro bag.

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Love for Swedes

27 04 2009

Oh those Swedish… They bring us some of the best shopping around.

First, there’s Ikea. I sometimes feel that I’d prefer to impale myself with a handful of those tiny pencils they pass out at the door than fight the crowds and maze-setup of this circus; but at the same time I must admit that there’s something satisfying about wandering navigating the maze, gazing at random gadgets and stockpiling items I never knew I needed, partially because they’re too cool to pass up (cheese grater that then stores grated cheese?) and partially because they’re ridiculously cheap (hello set of three scissors. I need you not but you’re $1.99!)

Then, there’s H&M, which despite its affordable price tags, can quickly become very, very expensive. And time consuming. And, ultimately (and most importantly) fashionable.

Now Sweden has done it again. I introduce from Sthlm,a site that celebrates the brilliance of Swedish design. Now you too can indulge in the brilliance of the Swedes (without dangerous pencils or the madness that is the H&M fitting room). Starting in April, the site will feature a new designer every month, selling that designer’s merchandise for a limited time (the period said designer is featured). This month: the candy-colored towels, coasters and other items of Lotta Kühlhorn. What a way to get unique, fun, and brilliantly designed items that aren’t recognizable as Ikea or H&M! Sign up for the newsletter and you too will soon be saying, “Thanks. It came from Sweden.”





Current Obsession: Flip, the Universal Color

23 02 2009

I’ll admit it. There was a time when I was a bit of a Mac rat. While living in San Francisco I developed a bit of an addiction to the makeup products and my roommate Megan and I frequented the nearby store on our beloved Union Street, partly to visit David, the fantastic artist there, whom we adopted as a good friend, and partly just because we liked to play with makeup.

Over the course of a year or so in the height of my addiction I amassed what we’ll just call a good quantity of makeup. Enough that I really don’t have to purchase anything but the essentials (foundation, which is the only thing that runs out in any rapidity) now. I have a train case full of colors I wear all the time and colors that I had no business buying (think Aquadisiac, good for nothing save that one never-going-to-come day when I decide to be a mermaid for Halloween).

Anyhow, after being a student and now a struggling artist, my lack of dispensable income and my overflow of product keeps me from entering a Mac store with any regularity. I did, however, visit one the other day to replace the aforementioned foundation, and there in the front was a color that was simply singing to me. I had to stop, ogle it, do the requisite sample on the hand, and after several minutes (a good 15, at least), turning it over and giving it as much affection as possible, I had to treat myself and purchase.

The color, Flip, is my latest obsession and, quite possibly, the best $14.50 ever spent. It’s sort a bronze tone with flecks of sheen that bounce off the eye in the prettiest of ways. The mix of golden/brownish/pinkish hues means it goes well with just about anything in my massive train case of shadows (save, perhaps for the confounded Aquadisiac), but it is also great just on its own.

It’s easy and universal and oh-so-pretty, which is why I’m naming it numero uno travel color. It’s perfect for the girl on the go who can’t pack too much. Simply bring along Flip, or better yet, pick up a palette and fill it with Flip and some complementary colors (I recommend something in a brown, a purple, or even something with a bit of orange). They sell empty palettes to fill on your own and they are flat, light weight and make it easy to pack all your makeup needs in one spot. Leave it to Mac to make it easy. Now if only someone would explain what possessed me to put bright turquoise on my eyes…





Interactive Art

5 03 2008

Tomorrow the Whitney Biennial opens to the public. In the event’s 74th year, the Whitney is trying something new. The museum has collaborated with the Park Avenue Armory and Art Production Fund (APF) to extend the event to a second venue.

Built from 1877-1881, the historic Park Avenue Armory is one of New York’s most beautiful (and important historic edifices). It originally housed the prestigious Seventh Regiment from which originated the National Guard. Its elaborate interior is the product of the 19th Century Aesthetic Movement, incorporating various historical styles and visual complexity.

From March 6-23, it will host will host Bienniel installations, many of which were designed specifically for this magnificent space. At their party last night I got a sneak preview. Aside from the ornate decor of the building itself (which includes mosaics and fireplaces designed by Tiffany and Co.), there were a few standouts. On the back wall of the massive drill hall hang facadeless neon signs, Gretchen Skogerson‘s examination of the “aesthetic paradox of disaster” in response to Hurricane Katrina desrtuction. Perhaps most poignant, however, is MK Guth‘s Ties of Protection and Safekeeping. Strung across and looped around the ornate Library/Silver Room are yards of yellow hair, with strips of red flannel hanging from them. Upon closer look each strip of flannel contains words: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness; My family, my body, my freedom; Polar Ice Caps… The question all are answering? “What is worth protecting?” Guth braid’s the answers into the artificial hair, creating one long Rapunzel-style braid of dreams. The effect is nothing short of captivating.

Throughout the next couple weeks a series special events will take place at the Armory, some separate and many in tandem with the installations. The lineup includes run of the mill music performances and film screenings, and a variety of less than ordinary experiences. DJ Olive, for example, will be hosting Slumber Party 2008 to present his Sleeping Pill series which he calls “a balm for troubled times,” and Agathe Snow will hold Stamina: Gloria et Patria, dance marathon in the Armory’s drill hall. Did I mention the tequila tasting, hosted by Eduardo Sarabia? Talk about some potent art.





Llama Sweater

26 02 2008

Anyone want this sweater?
Complete with nieve in the hair: A regular Snow White.

Oh the llama sweater, a staple in the tourist arsenal. In Peru they are sold everywhere and everyone seems to have one. Made (ostensibly) of llama wool, they are soft and oh-so-warm and tourists love to buy them.

On our second day in Cusco I myself almost did just that. It wasn’t the manly type with pictures of llamas on it, but a fitted cream number with a simple geometric design around the collar. It had fringe on the bottom, however, and toggles on the hood. I was in one of those tourism frenzies, where, overcome buy the excitement of all things new, the tourist buys or seriously considers buying things she would never even pick up otherwise. Luckily, some new friends who joined at the market played the “will you really wear it?” card and I was spared an unneeded sweater.

Then came Northwest Argentina, where llama sweaters again abounded. And, in a moment of need rather than want, I had to buy one. I had left my belongings in a hostel in San Salvador de Jujuy, had traveled to Humahuaca for Carnaval with nothing but two changes of clothes (both dresses), some pajamas, and my fleece. Too bad I hadn’t done my research and realized that Humahuaca is cold in the evenings, even in summer. Very cold.

So there I was in my thin pants and not quite warm enough fleece, with flip flops on my feet. The wind was picking up and it was promising to be a long night. What was a girl to do except to splurge on a $10 llama sweater, an oh-so-attractive thick and too big sweater, complete with llamas prancing across my chest. Wasn’t I the fairest of them all? But I was warm.

So now I’m back in New York with my llama sweater, which, in the land of Fifth Ave. and Soho boutiques might just be cause for beheading if I were to wear it outside (or at least cause for pointing and staring). So, if anyone out there would like a llama sweater, women’s medium, I have one here and it’s up for grabs.

Lesson learned: Check the weather ahead of time. And pack accordingly.