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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Gift Guide
Week One of Two
2016-11-30

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Book it

Jared Milrad and Nathan Johnson—the history-making same-sex couple featured in Hillary Clinton's viral presidential campaign commercials ( "Getting Started," "Equal" )—have co-written So, You Want to Get ( Gay ) Married. For those thinking of getting hitched, this funny book may be the key in retaining your sanity.

De-pendant

Angara ( Angara.com ) considers itself the gemstone destination. ( In fact, it has the phrase on its website. ) But it's hard to argue with the designation—especially when you see the range of sparkling rings, necklaces, etc., that works for almost every budget. And I love the fact that Angara handles a lot more than just diamonds, including black onyx and citrine items.

'Picture it—Sicily...'

Practically everyone loved the show Golden Girls—so who wouldn't want the Funko Golden Girls POP TV Action Figure Collectors Set ( Amazon.com )? The Sophia, Blanche, Dorothy and Rose figures are about four inches tall each, and each one is individually packaged. It's the perfect way to thank someone for being your friend.

Show time

Here's something worth seeing—actually, here are two things worth seeing. Courtesy of HBO ( HBO.com ), there's the complete series Looking as well as the movie bundled into one package. ( For those who don't know, Looking was about three gay men in San Francisco and their adventures, romantic and otherwise ). Or, people can check out Game of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season—and see Jon Snow in his glory. ( I didn't reveal anything, did I? )

Seeing the light

The 125 Collection ( The125Collection.com ) has created adorable minis of its full-sized natural soy candles. The travel-sized candles are made from the highest quality oils, and their scents are designed to engulf your surrounding with endless hours of amazing smelling fragrance. In addition, they come with fun messages such as "Namastay in Bed."

( Love )pop life

Lovepop Cards ( LovepopCards.com ) capitalizes on something many people ( including myself ) loved as children: pop-up books. There are cards for all sorts of occasions and that feature many themes ( including LGBT, holidays and even boats ).

Shady behavior

I didn't realize the wide variety of items Jonathan Adler ( JonathanAdler.com ) sells until I discovered the website. He offers everything from pottery to lighting ( those sconces! ) to the very cool, aviator-like Mustique sunglasses. Moreover, you can even customize the goodies here.

Oh, Henry

York Athletics ( YorkAthleticsMfg.com ) has some really cool wear for athletes and even the weekend warriors. I'm a fan of the Henry sneakers, but there are also T-shirts, socks and duffel bags. ( Also: The sites offers free shipping. )

It's a date

You have to admit: It's an eye-popping way to fight homophobia. The 2017 Orthodox Calendar ( Orthodox-Calendar.com ) has featured nude and semi-nude photographs of members of the Orthodox Church to protest church hypocrisy. And trust me: You might not even make it past July.

Best foot forward

Foot Cardigan ( FootCardigan.com ) lets you put your favorite city on your tootsies. The Mytropolis collection is perfect whether you hail from Sydney, New Orleans or, of course, Chicago ( adorned with that culinary staple, the hot dog ).

It's a wrap

Glass sculptor Dale Chihuly's works are known all over the world. Now, he's responsible for Chihuly decorative paper ( ChihulyWorkshop.com/chihuly-pure-imagination-decorative-paper-book.html ). Photos of 12 glass details reveal the artist's attention to colors and patterns. They really are stunning.

Eli, Eli—oh!

Eli's Cheesecake ( EliCheesecake.com ) has been pleasing people for decades. But now it's offering two new desserts for the holiday season: Salted Caramel Halvah Cheesecake and a Limited Edition Chocolate Banana Cheesecake, a collaboration with Chicago-based Wild Ophelia. Now you have two additional ( and delicious ) reasons to hit the treadmill.

To your health

Triplets Jessica, Jill and Jennifer Emich have put forth Eat, Drink, Shine ( ShineBoulder.com/our-bookbook-eat-drink-shine/ )—a guide for conscientious eaters. The book offers more than 80 recipes covering breakfast, starters, mains and sweets. Recipes include poached eggs with avocado hollandaise, seared pork chops with braised cabbage and fennel, radish chips with arugula sunflower pesto, and banana chocolate mousse. Yum!

Right collar

The Nuzzle smart collar ( HelloNuzzle.com ) is perfect for that dog or cat owner. Nuzzle is a GPS-enabled tracker and activity monitor that ensures pet owners will never have to post another missing pet flyer again by sending location updates directly to the companion Nuzzle app ( compatible on iOS and Android ). It even has temperature monitoring and geofencing capabilities—and that's probably the first time I've used the word "geofencing."

Simply the VEST

In this age of technology, it's a very good thing that there's such a company as SCOTTeVEST ( Scottevest.com ), which manufactures clothing with specially engineered pockets that keep your gear close to you. Among the items available to everyone are performance polos, sport coats, TEC shirts and, yes, travel boxers.

The swing of things

You may not like/appreciate golf, but odds are you know someone who does, and that person will adore this gift. Varick golf balls ( StartingTimeGolf.com ) are high-performance, metallic and neon-patterned—and will certainly turn heads on the golf course. Talk about your rainbow conneciton ( or collection, for that matter ).

Hello, Starling

The Starling Project ( StarlingProject.org ) provides a twofold benefit. First, the candles that are sold are very pleasant-smelling blends of soy-based wax and oil-based fragrances—and it lasts 60 hours. In addition, the sale of each candle provides solar energy ( which offers access to electricity, clean water, safety, health, education and more ) to under-resourced countries globally via the support of key philanthropic organizations such as UNICEF.

Southern comfort

Nashville-based High Note Gifts ( HighNoteGifts.com ) offers modern-themed gift items for the foodie on your list. For example, the Chocolate Gift Box includes milk chocolate-covered marshmallow, an Olive and Sinclair chocolate bar and GooGoo Clusters, which have to be tasted to be believed. However, the company has a ton of other items, including Biscuits and Jam, Taste of Nashville and Bourbon gift baskets.

Sud finder

Out gay singer Tyler Robinson ( who competed on The Voice ) and co-owner Preston Tillotson have started Sudz by Studz ( SudzByStudz.com ). The store provides artisan bath and skin-care products that smell really nice—although if you use it while showering, you probably still won't sound as cool as Robinson.

Art and soul

The Museum of Contemporary Art ( MCAChicago.org ) has some of the coolest gifts you could get your favorite lover of art ( or Chicago ). Among a few of the offerings are a Chicago skyline pillow, El Train socks, rock 'n' roll votive candles and the X-Cube—a take on the iconic Rubik's Cube that has more than 2 quadrillion times more permutations than the original.

Spa-ha moment

The luxury-destination spa Golden Door ( GoldenDoor.com ) is nestled within 600 acres of untrammeled natural woods, mountains and open space. However, it also offers a wide array of gift items, ranging from travel essentials ( like cashmere scarves ) to artisan food ( including some tasty ginger cookies ) to skin-care products.

<Toffee break

I've always liked ( OK, loved ) toffee—and Hampshire Toffee ( HampshireToffee.com ) offers some of the best I've ever had, to be honest. It could be because of this incredible list of ingredients: sweet cream butter, premium Ghirardelli chocolate, California roasted almonds and sea salt. It's an intoxicating combination.

Bar none

Home Wet Bar ( HomeWetBar.com ) sells beer, drink and wine accessories such as glasses and martini cocktail sets that can be personalized. They also provide information on how to build home beer and liquor bars. A personalized hip flask? I can get behind that gift.

Mission, possible

Mission ( Mission.com ) is offering something that should be of particular interest in areas with colder climates ( ahem, Chicago ): The company has a new heating line of accessories and gear—powered by 37.5 Technology— to keep athletes warm and dry. Among the items are high-performance gloves, scarves, headbands, beanies and balaclavas.


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