’s 2011 Holiday Gift Guide

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Roku 2 XS

For those of us who have reached the hilt of hating our cable companies & constant TV commercials, there is a light on the edge of the broadcast horizon. Roku‘s new line of streaming video players delivers many of the entertainment channels that the web has to offer, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon TV, YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, and many Sports Channels directly to your TV. Setup is easy via Ethernet or Wifi, and some models include a motion sensing remote for gaming experiences. New channels are added to its line up frequently, and new TV shows and movies are added to available services such as Netflix everyday. This can easily replace your current cable service saving you hundreds of dollars a year, as well as cutting the time wasted watching commercials. There is also a USB port located on the side of the unit to play movies, music and photos you have stored on your USB drive or External Hard Drive. ROKU2 features three new models beginning at $49; we recommend the Roku 2 XS priced at only $99, as it incorporates the motion sensing remote and the most options for TV connecti ons.   More info here


The Sunpentown Countertop Dishwasher

I don’t know of anyone that enjoys washing dishes and had I known about this appliance in the past I would have traded the time I spent leaning over the sink a long time ago. Popular in Europe, countertop sized appliances are an efficient way of taking care of the daily tasks we routinely do around the house. At first I was skeptical about how many dishes I could actually was in a unit that is barely larger than a large microwave and how well it would actually clean the dishes. Needless to say once my SPT Countertop Dishwasher arrived I hurriedly unpacked and had it set up within 10 minutes using its quick release faucet adapter (no plumbers needed). I quickly loaded it and to my surprise after its fast cycle, quiet operation, and drying cycle   I had finally had a sink that was free of dishes. Of course in my excitement , I then went around the house to clean all crystal and stemware all of which came out sparkling and spotless.  SPT Countertop Dishwasher is no eyesore either, its available in white and shiny silver and will literally take care of any job you can throw at it.   It’s the perfect gift for just about anyone suffering from a lack of a dishwasher.

ION’s Cassette Tape to mp3 Converter

Anyone who grew up in the eighties or nineties most likely has a box of cassette tapes laying around, collecting dust, just like our parents old 8-Track tapes.   Problem solved with ION’s Tape to Mp3 Conversion System.  Simply plug the walkman styled device into a computer’s USB port and start transferring old tapes right onto an iPod (or similar player). The easy to use interface will separate tracks from cassettes with multiple songs and with double sided mix tapes will automatically “flip” the tape over  to continuously record its entirety without having to baby-sit the process.  The ION Tape to Mp3 express also controls the levels of recording to avoid redlined audio levels resulting in a clean, quality sound for the archives. It’s a solid choice for reclaiming long lost mix tapes, and a great gift for music lovers.

Dyson AM02 Tower Fan

Dyson excels at combining sleek design and utility in all of their products. The Dyson AM02 Tower Fan stands above all other fans in both its air moving efficiency and breathtaking, conversation starting design. Using Air Multiplying Technology, this fan bladelessly gathers air and jets it through its 3.5 foot tall tower all without the common noise and choppiness of old fashioned fans.  It’s almost a shame to categorize this piece of art in the category of “fans”, as its elegant design will complement almost any room. The unit is powered by Dyson‘s powerful motor, and will cool and operate quietly at low speeds; when revved up to full speed you’ll be able to feel the breeze caress you even up to 20 feet away.  Great form and function make this a solid choice for style minded gift giving. Value Line Plant Stand  

The dark short days of winter are almost upon us, and as city dwellers we usually have limited access to both sunlight and gardening space. Why not bring the garden indoors? The ‘Value Line Plant Stand’ from makes a great gift for the urban gardener on your list.  The Value Line Plant Stand has 2 shelves, each with a Permanest tray to hold your plants; each shelf is illuminated from above by light fixture that holds two 20 watt grow lamps (included). Creating an indoor botanical oasis has never been so fun and easy!

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The Best Star Projector

Stars dance across the sky, wispy ‘clouds’ drift across space, swirling blue nebulae, an occasional shooting star racing across the blackness of night…a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? Nope- anytime you like, in the room of your choosing! With the aptly named ‘The Best Star Projector’, you can give the gift of an amazing, private planetarium experience. Available from Hammacher Schlemmer, this phenomenal laser star projector creates a dazzling, animated celestial light show, adorning walls and ceiling with a mesmerizing cosmic display. ‘The Best Star Projector’s two precision glass lenses generate crisp imagery of the cosmos, and the unit also features a quiet internal fan to prevent overheating. This is one of the rare gifts that will exceed expectations: hours of fantastic indoor stargazing await!  For best results, project on white surfaces in pitch darkness. Plugs into AC. 11″ H x 10″ W x 9″ D. (4 lbs.)  Get it at Hammacher Schlemmer 

The Illumicube 

Like a futuristic ‘box of magic’ the Illumicube from Hammacher Schlemmer delights the eye with a unique system of 64 multi-colored LEDs. These small little spark plugs of illumination create a dazzling spectacle of ever changing patterns, treating the viewer to a hypnotic light show of swirls, flares, patterns and waves, in a rainbow of vibrant colors.  This techno-fireworks display (offering millions of visual combinations) is somehow all contained within a compact, clear acrylic cube, utilizes a minimal amount of power (AC plug included) and lasts up to 100,000 hours. Who says you can’t catch lighting in a bottle…or at least a box? Get one at Hammacher & Schlemmer 

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Logees Tropical Plants

Logees Tropical Plants, the crème de la crème of mail order plant nurseries, has an abundance of gorgeous botanical varieties to feature in an indoor light garden. Stand out selections include the ‘Myrtle Leaf Orange’, which stays compact (makes an excellent candidate for bonsai) and actually bears small citrus fruits, and Episcia ‘Bethlehem Pink’ (a relative of the African violet) which has velvety soft, bronzy green leaves and sweet candy pink blossoms. Logees also offers an array of exotic orchids that would thrive under fluorescent lights (Orchid Fatari ‘Carmela’ is a knockout), as well as drought tolerant, small statured succulents such as the bizarrely beautiful ‘Split Rock’.

Alexander McQueen : Savage Beauty 

In February 2010, the world was shocked and saddened by the loss of fashion designer Alexander McQueen. This year, The Metropolitan Museum of Art presented the Savage Beauty exhibition of his iconic work, and the response was immediate and overwhelmingly large.  The companion book, ‘Savage Beautyby Andrew Bolton, is a gorgeous homage to the forward thinking coutier, detailing his life, inspirations and career, and presents exquisite photographs of many of his works. McQueen’s signature style is well represented here; his acolytes are legion (Lady Gaga herself was among his celebrity devotees, as well as his last muse) and ‘Savage Beauty’ the book is a wonderful gift for anyone who missed the exhibition, wants to relive its drama and glamour, or simply appreciates fashion at its most inventive and sublime.

biOrb Aquariums

A futuristic take on a classic item, the biOrb series of aquariums from Reef-One are both beautifully designed and easily maintained. Perfect for the décor conscious, apartment dwelling pet lover on your list, the biOrbs offer the home aquarium experience in a space saving, aesthetically pleasing form. Check out the Baby biOrb, a 4 Gallon sphere perfect for a paor of goldfish or a Siamese fighting fish, an optional 12v ‘moonlight’ fixture is available, featuring built-in automatic light sensor, casting ethereal blue illumination into the orb at night.  The new biOrb Flow has a chic, rectilinear design, and (as all biOrb aquariums do) comes complete with built in filtration system and LED light.

HoMedics Swedish Massage Cushion 

What could be better after a long, stressful day at work then a nice warm massage? No need for a professional- or a willing partner- check out the Swedish Massage Cushion from HoMedics. Featuring ‘traveling pressure point massage’ and an optional soothing heat feature, the HoMedics Swedish Massage Cushion utilizes a powerful state of the art moving massage mechanism and programmable remote control, and easily straps onto most chairs. So relax already!

 Addicted Underwear

Overdose on sexiness with Addicted Underwear! Made in Barcelona Spain, these eye catching briefs, boxers and jocks are sexy, well constructed and comfortable. Get into the ‘Mesh Brief’, a sexy sport brief of breathable material for those who like to show it off a bit. Great stocking stuffer!

 The Led lit Disco Showerhead

Simultaneously relive your most fabulous disco moments, and get squeaky clean with the Magic Showerhead! Scrub a dub dub, lather up in the club! Features flashing, variable LED color lighting effects, all powered by water pressure- glamorous and eco-friendly!

BBC’s Planet Earth: Special Edition

BBC’s 2007 ‘Planet Earth’ was a groundbreaking nature & wildlife documentary television series, and now its being re-released on DVD as ‘Planet Earth: Special Edition’. The new edition features breathtaking, never before seen footage and fascinating new episodes including ‘Secrets of the Maya Underworld’ and ‘Elephant Nomads of the Namib Desert’. ‘Human Planet’, is the follow up series to ‘Planet Earth’, “an epic eight-part blockbuster is a breathtaking celebration of the amazing, complex, profound and sometimes challenging relationship between humankind and nature”, narrated by award winning British actor John Hurt.

Looxcie 2

Looxcie’s Bluetooth Ear bud Style video camera (over the ear) is an interesting new slant on capturing your personal adventure / action sport videos from your line of sight perspective. Wireless operation streams video from the device to your Bluetooth enabled cell phone and its long battery life will be there to capture the moments that you have bragging to your friends about.


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Books By Ulysses Press

Based in Berkeley, California, Ulysses Press offers an assortment of unusual, intriguing and down right wacky books. Check out ‘Ice Cream Happy Hour’ by Valerie Lum and Jenise Addison (example: Rocky Road with Crème de Cacao- yum! ),  Jamie Frater’s ‘Ultimate Book of Bizarre Lists’ (“Fascinating Facts and Shocking Trivia on Movies, Music, Crime, Celebrities, History and More!”); and ‘The Monster Book of NSFW Jokes’ (including an entire chapter of ‘Yo Mama’ jokes!)

The Encyclopedia of Tropical Plants

Winter is the perfect time to ‘leaf’ through ‘The Encyclopedia of Tropical Plants’ by Ahemd Fayaz.  This massive, meticulously researched reference guide from Firefly Booksmakes a fantastic gift for the green thumb on your list; with detailed information about over 3,000 tropical plants (including stunning orchids, leafy aroids, and unusual fruiting trees), and featuring thousands of beautiful full color photographs, this title is must have botanical reading.

Founder & Editor of - I am not a journalist, I am not a blogger, and I am not a writer.

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