Little Luxuries: Popcorn, Peanuts, R. Hanauer, Colonel Littleton and The Mulholland Bros.

There is an interesting blog I visit (and would recommend to you) called Easy & Elegant Life that is inviting readers to offer suggestions for Christmas gifting of little luxuries costing $100 or less. Along with the previous post's personalized grill grate (currently on sale for about $75) an the branding irons (starts at about $50) here are a few more little luxuries I've given in the past or will give this year.

Almost everyone loves popcorn. Yet, unfortunately we have become a nation of microwavers. And that means less than stellar
popcorn. Help a friend rediscover the little luxury of stove or fireplace-popped popcorn with a gift of Crown Jewel Gourmet Popcorn. Consider one of the sampler sets that include a one pound bag each of several of the nine varieties, such as Red Ruby (a rich,robust nut-like flavor); Baby Black Pearl (a no hulls, small kernel with a savory and tender taste); Blue Sapphire (pops up small and crunchy with a slightly sweet flavor); and White Diamond (pops up large and white with a classic popcorn flavor).

As an avid fan, I can attest that your recipient will enjoy--and be sure to get a sampler for yourself! Gift Samplers from $26 and 8 favorite varieties plus a sturdy classic stove popper for under $60.

Vince Guaraldi is best known by most as the creator of the Peanuts music for the various CBS specials. His trio's catalogue still sells well and his less-known music is fantastic. Consider two of Guaraldi's CDs to combine as a gift (all for under $25 via Amazon) for a full taste of Vince: A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Definitive Vince Guaraldi (a 2 disc set). The last time we threw a cocktail party at The Dog Pound the background music was all Vince, and he was a hit. It seems everyone loves his piano style but just never bought the CDs. These two provide 43 wonderful pieces of music with only one duplicate.

I count Randy Hanauer of R. Hanauer Co. a good friend from my days in men's clothing. His lineup of bow ties, handsome and unique cummerbund sets, d-ring belts, neckties, braces and rich assortment of silk, cotton, Jacquard and linen pocket squares offer countless possibilities for gentlemen on your list. His bows include prints, wovens, exquisite formals and tartans.

I am especially fond of his Jolly Roger bow and necktie, as I worked on Randy two years (well before Depp's pirate movies) convincing him to add that motif to the line. I kept telling him about paying big bucks in the early 80's for Alan Flusser's version, and being put on a multi week waiting list. Finally he added it just to shut me up, I think. I'm pleased to say JR is a big seller. Also check out the "Who's on Top" woven bow for the rake on your list. If Randy is making that one, I need to re-pitch my "4Q" bow tie again... And for your Sandlapper pals check out the Palmetto bow. Bows from $50; pocket squares from $17.
A good friend of Randy's is Colonel Littleton, purveyor of fine leather goods, personal knives and a growing list of other items for man, woman and home. The Colonel is well known for his knives and for around $75 The No. 2 Knife would be a fine gift for many a man on your list. The No. 2 features bone handles in eight different choices, brass bolsters and stainless steel blade. Personalised choices are available including name or initials on the handles or initials and date on the bolsters.

San Francisco's Mulholland Brothers make lux leather goods including their $16,000 American Alligator Hippo Duffel. There are also many gift items more in line with one's Christmas budget. You'll find backgammon or checkers/chess leather boards at $80, and even though at $120 it's over E&EL's "hungee" limit, you'll find an alligator magnetic money clip in six colors.

Life's Little Luxuries. We're Lucky Dogs, are we not? Be sure to head over to Easy & Elegant Life for more little luxuries.


All I Want For Christmas...

I've always tried to find Christmas gifts for family and friends that they would enjoy yet probably would not buy for themselves. For instance, I have a pal who loves to cook and I try to find "out there" cookbooks for him that might enhance that enjoyment in some new way. A style of cooking or some regional or country specialty, for example. My most successful effort was the artisan bread baking book that ignited his passion for baking. This year it's Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way by Francis Mallmann.

I'm thinking of asking for a little something I would never buy myself (at least not in this economic climate) that I found via Smoke In Da Eye BBQ blog. A custom-made grill grate by Huntingdon Customs. The question is, what will be the design?

SIDE's custom grate makes me think that Warren Zevon's Old Velvet Nose would be a fun choice of design and would cover several themes all at once: my admiration for Zevon; I could add the name of my fantasy baseball team (Zevonistas) and cover my joy of baseball; and the skull and Zevon reference would pretty much cover my penchant for the pirate in all of us.

What might be even more fun than the grill grate would be a small branding iron with said theme so that I could brand those thick rib eyes I love with my mark. I think I'll contact Huntingdon Customs to see what they can do with Old Velvet Nose.