A few days after Super Bowl 50’s Lisa Frank colored halftime show message of “Believe in Love” emblazoned across Levi’s Stadium, and a mere 5 days before Valentine’s Day, my thoughts turn toward gratitude. It’s my first year as a mother on Valentine’s Day. February 14th (and sometimes July 6th) is originally a wholly Christian holiday observed by the Anglican Communion, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Lutheran Church in honor of Saint Valentine. Again, in the vein of unlabeled (raceless, genderless, areligious) love, I can get behind a holiday whose express purpose is now to celebrate displays of affection. Some of my favorite memories of the Hallmark holiday are not from dates, boyfriends, my husband or schoolmates. My best memories are from my Dad. He would always delight in picking the perfect card, a cute stuffed animals, or a specific treat for me. Whether it was a school night or a weekend, he would excitedly wake me up and usher me to the kitchen where a surprise would await me next to me breakfast. A small, yearly tradition that I hope to pass on to my son.
The day isn’t about lavish spending (even though about $180,000,000 will be spent) nor is it about flowers (198,000,000 roses cultivated) , it’s a day dedicated to small acts of adoration – platonic and familial included.
Multiple studies, including one that tracks Facebook breakup statuses, have shown that couples are more likely to break up in the weeks before and after Valentine’s Day. Yikes. Other research supports that couples who give more credence to the holiday are less healthy than their counterparts who celebrate “just because” throughout the years. Apparently, the feeling of obligation or forced romance can lead to dysfunction!
So, instead of making this day about love for our partners, let’s give in to some self-love and parental-love retail therapy.
1 Voluspa’s Yuzu Rose Stonecrop 2 Wick Candle
/ 2 Oh Joy! for Target’s Heart LED Neon Light / 3 Carey All Over Hearts Sweater / 4 Dolce & Gabbana Silk Cotton Floral Printed Skirt / 5 Jade by Zoya (Nontoxic and Big 5 Free) / 6 The World Book of Love / 7 High Seas Romper in Red from Winter Water Factory / 8 Piece of My Heart Valentine’s Day Postcard, Set of 10 / 9 Persimmon Ink Blot Medium Cube by Pehr / 10 Red Baby High Tops from H&M
A nerd who can openly quote passages from Lord of the Rings and adores the artwork of Frank Miller? Check. An audiophile who would not be caught without a portable record player? Check. A literary snob who prefers retro reads? Check.
Here’s your holiday gift guides for three types of people in your life (or maybe someone who is a combination them all). Just in time for last-minute holiday shipping and handling!
1 – 75 Years of Marvel Comics: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen / 2 – C3PO Money Clip / 3 – Shark in my Glass! / 4 – Atari Flashback Console / 5 – Superfight! Card Game / 6 – Tetris Heat Change Mug / 7 – Polaroid Cube / 8 – D20 Bowl Set / 9 – Chromecast
1 – Mozartkugel Music Box / 2 – Mozipedia: The Encyclopedia of Morrissey and The Smiths / 3 – Sofa MOOG Bean Bag / 4 – Warren Zevon, Werewolves of London Tee / 5 – Thoroughly Modern Musician Headphones in Lime, Urbanears / 6 – Crosley Revolution Vinyl Record Player / 7 – The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs & 33⅓ Book
1 – Kate Spade Travel Umbrella / 2 – Scrabble 14k Gold over Sterling Silver Black Diamond Accent Initial Pendant Necklace / 3 – Classics Reimagined: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz / 4 – Bibliotheque Trek Tote / 5 – Feather Pen / 6 – Paddywax Library Collection 6.5 oz. Jar Candle, Ralph Waldo Emerson / 7 – Ideal Bookshelf NYC / 8 – Trotters Women’s Liz Loafers
Bedford Avenue is the longest street in Brooklyn, New York City, stretching 10.2 miles and 132 blocks from Greenpoint south to Sheepshead Bay. In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, immediately off the L subway line, the Bedford Avenue stop features a bevy of walkable, quaint, quirky, and small boutiques that will sell you (almost) anything. Since it ’tis the season to be shopping, here’s a peek into two of my favorite Williamsburg based jewelers and knickknack shops.
Catbird, located online and at 219 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211, is a mecca for all things sparkly and exciting. Our favorite things include non-traditional wedding rings, stacking rings, knuckle rings and a wide range of gifts such as terrariums, perfume, glassware, candlesticks, cards, water bottles, tooth fairy boxes, candles. Anything that someone in the board game CLUE employs, one will most likely find here. When I say “find”, I mean it. The store is setup like a pirate’s booty and treasure chest filled with trinkets interwoven with strange artifacts, forcing you to play detective. The layout is haphazard yet delicate and organic. The small space specializes in local designers (although they also carry items from designers all over the globe). The tiny space is a bit of quirky and feminine dreamscape.
Step into the space that is equal parts Downton Abbey meets farmhouse shabby chic meets 1950’s diner. Peruse the sliding drawers, the glass displays, and the shelves – everywhere you turn in this postage-stamp-sized storefront is brimming with a hidden find.
Tocca Perfume reigns supreme as an easy way to evoke any distinct character trait. Discover your favorite scents by trying the samples in the store such as Cleopatra, Stella, Florence, Brigitte, Graciella and Violette. My personal favorite is Brigitte, which is inspired by the playful and sensual beauty of French film siren Brigitte Bardot, Tocca’s fragrance evokes the intoxicating scent of a stroll through the spice markets of Provence. Tres chic! The little brass birds, wrapped in ribbon, would also make a perfection addition to a mantle-place or bookshelf.
Rodin by Recine creates tonics, lip balms, hair oils, face oils and candles with the seriousness of an ancient apothecary. The products are whipped up and infused with essential oils from apricot kernels, calendula, sunflower seed, sweet almond, neroli, jojoba, rosemary and juniper. It doesn’t get more natural and aromatic than that.
If only my wallet allowed, I would buy all the knuckle ringed, chain linked, hammered metals, animal skull inspired, black diamond flecked pieces that my little heart desired – but, alas! The paycheck of a not-for-profit employee is a wee bit limiting. There are many steals using brass, crystal and silver for under $100 but the best bargain and bang for your buck, in my humble opinion, is the Lanolin-Agg-Tval Swedish Eggwhite Soap. This $5 bar of soap has been a part of healthy skincare in Sweden for generations. Originally prepared at home by Swedish women, an egg white facial was a weekly tradition to maintain pure, radiant skin. Go get this bar and make your skin glow!
Flotsam and Jetsam is created by Rebekah Harris in New York City. Harris apprenticed under a silversmith and creates rock and roll silver jewelry. Many of her designs stem from a love of the ocean (hence the name) and a curiosity for the mysteries of the watery unknown. Flotsam and Jetsam speaks of the spoils cast over board and washed ashore, sculptural narratives whose stories invoke the desperate journeys of abandoned souls that dared to step aboard and sail into the realms of monsters, sudden squalls and shallow shoals. Whatever the company’s folklore may be, the pieces always pay homage to the artisan craftsmanship of the past with a modern edge.
Another jewelry favorite, that has much more of a DIY vibe, is Brooklyn Charm. Located at 145 Bedford Ave (between 10th St & 9th St) Brooklyn, NY 11211, the funky shop is filled to the brim with gold chains, strange overstock, wholesale beads, and pre-made creations. After building up a small-but-loyal fanbase through her flea market sales and Etsy store, jewelry designer Tracie Howarth opened this storefront on Bedford Avenue in March 2010.
The space also hosts metalworking, wire wrapping and other beading and jewelry making courses. No previous experience necessary! There is a large selection of letter charms, state charms, skulls, and all the supplies to create a one-of-a kind pieces. If you are not feeling so crafty and creatively inclined, bring your favorite parts to the cash register and the staff will assemble jewelry for you on the spot at the counter!
Arrows, spoons, globes, acorns, beetles, knives, alligators, and wood – oh my! You would be hard pressed to find something missing the eclectic array of charms that the shop offers.
Now, combining finds from the two lovely, aforementioned places, I bring you the Brooklyn holiday gift guide, where all items are $50 and under! Buy something for your teacher, lover, milkman, boss, distant cousin and fellow commuter. At prices like these, buy yourself a gift too!