Hip, comfortable, Italian hand-crafted, and ultra cool. Nason makes distinctive footwear inspired by Rock & Roll. They travel well and can be understated or statement-making. If I had the closet space I would own them all.
Canadian designer Yee’s Job creates amazing origami and paper models. His V-8 engine paper model is touted as the most sophisticated paper model in the world. This Harley-Davidson engine model is complex and satisfying to complete. It beats the pants off any mamby-pamby crossword or Sudoku puzzle.
Billed as a stepping-stone to AI, this little rabbit device hooks to the Internet and broadcasts the weather, news, email, SMSs . . . whatever. Looks like a toy, but is really an interesting tool to leverage information. Plus, it’s cool.
Why not start the New Year with praying the Hours? If you’re like me, you get tired of all the little prayer books, pamphlets, and guides. Go "old school" and enhance your spiritual life with the four volume set. Prayer, Psalms, hymns, history . . . what more can a Catholic want?
I tell people, only half-jocularly, that this is the best book written since the Bible. Brief chapters — but mercifully so, since each chapter is so rich that a reader cannot sustain more. I read it more or less perpetually.
A small book, whose thesis is that the liturgy itself is the paradigm of the healthy, holy man. Read it and be amazed.
This is by far the best book I myself have ever read on the topic of Catholicism. If that sounds obvious, or platitudinous, then one needs to read Adam’s book. It is fathomlessly splendid — not triumphalist, but splendid.
The first volume of "The Young Chesterton Chronicles," featuring a 16-year-old GK and his adventures in an alternative Edwardian-era world. Aimed at teens to adults, it mixes imaginative storytelling and artfully integrated (rather than blatantly tacked-on) religious and moral content. (Note: this will have to be a belated Christmas present, as the book is scheduled to come out in January, from Sophia Institute Press.)
Recommended with a slight reservation: Since his conversion to Christianity in 2001 and subsequent departure from prog-rock band Spock’s Beard, Morse’s theology has gotten a tad eccentric. But that’s not evident in ?, a masterpiece of diverse musical styles that explores the mystery of God’s presence in divine revelation: from the Ark of the Covenant to the Incarnation to the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the faithful.
I’m a confirmed wet/dry electric man, and nobody makes better ones than Panasonic. If you really want to splurge on the shaver (or technophile) in your life, get him the Arc IV Nano: epilatory nirvana.
Golf is a walking game. But it doesn’t have to be a carrying game. Enter the push cart, and the V2, which improves on Sun Mountain’s original Speedcart in most every way (no easy feat) to claim best-in-class status. And it’s built to last, with tons of add-on accessories to buy in Christmases future.
This is a small book about friendship that I will never forget reading. Arthur Koestler writes in the introduction: "Hundreds of bulky tomes have now been written about the age when corpses were melted into soap to keep the master race clean; yet I sincerely believe that this slim volume will find its lasting place on the shelves."
This is now a five-part series with one more being filmed for 2008. I often find the typical English mini-series a bit boring, but Foyle’s War is delightful from beginning to end. Kitchen plays an English policeman — Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle — assigned to a small coastal village during World War II. Created and written by Anthony Horowitz, Foyle’s War combines mystery stories with moral tales. The character of Foyle is intriguing — part Stoic, part loving father, part Sherlock Holmes, part patriot, and part grieving widower. This is the most entertaining television I’ve seen in years, many years.
Some music: Barber, Korngold, Walton: Violin Concertos
My two favorite 20th-century violin concertos on one CD! Beautifully played and recorded. This is for the person who thinks he or she doesn’t "like" classical music. Erich Wolfgang Korngold was an Austrian who came to Hollywood in the 1930s and became the leading film composer (Spellbound, Adventures of Robin Hood, Deception). Samuel Barber, from Philadelphia, was the great American proponent of late romantic, tonal music at a time when the music establishment was losing itself in modernist abstractions. The slow movements are among the most beautiful music you will ever hear.
For anyone who wants to reconnect with the power of language and the joy of poetic speech, then Dylan Thomas’s reading of his homage to "A Child’s Christmas in Wales" is the place to go. His Welsh voice was like no one else’s — it belongs to the horn section of an orchestra. His reading takes you back to the time when all literature was recited rather than read, when poets were bards. Thomas, the bard, shows how poetry — in fact, all of literature — can be an event as exciting as film or music.
Some months ago I wrote a Window about the Carmelite monks who live in northeastern Wyoming, "The Last Carmelite Monks in America?" I was told that this Window stimulated their coffee business quite a bit, and I was told by Window readers themselves that the coffee was uniformly excellent. Who better to get your Christmas gift dollars than these monks, who are trying to raise money for the larger quarters they desperately need?
In Florence, Kentucky, there’s a small tea house and café with the best loose-leaf tea I’ve ever had. The two listed are a couple of my favorites. Rooibos makes great ice tea and the Almond Cookie has none of the bitterness of green tea — it doesn’t even need sweetener. Here’s a link for contact information.
Once you’ve tasted really good chocolate, there’s no going back. These two artisanal chocolatiers based in Baltimore are worth checking out. The first is Glarus Chocolatier, recently opened by a young couple who want to keep alive the Swiss chocolate-making tradition of their heritage. It’s delicious stuff. If, instead, you believe the French do it better, then try Cocao Lorenzo. My non-chocolate-eating husband ate at least half the assorted box of chocolates I brought home one day.
This is the greatest shower gel known to man. Made without synthetic preservatives, sulfates, or detergents, this luxurious soap has the ability to transport you to another place . . . namely, a Canadian pine forest! Seriously, this shower gel suits both men and women who enjoy natural scents. Also, the company — Pangea Organics — is impressive for its commitment to healthy, responsible products and fair business practices.
Few children’s books focus on the old Spanish custom of the Las Posada procession. This beautiful offering by dePaola tells the story of a modern day couple in Santa Fe who are selected to play Mary and Joseph in the village Christmas pageant. Things don’t go as planned; surprises abound. Great for children ages 4 to 8.
"Teach a man to fish" has been Heifer International‘s philosophy for almost 60 years. Through Heifer, you can buy (or purchase a share of) livestock to give to a poor family in any corner of the globe. I have done this in the name of my Godchildren in the past, and it’s very rewarding. Animals like pigs, sheep, flocks of geese, chicks, goats, buffalo, and — of course — heifers, can bring hope to many people who are trying to build lives of dignity.
This is truly glorious, sacred polyphony. O Magnum Mysterium was sung at our Nuptial Mass by my husband’s aunt’s choir. While it’s best to hear this music in a sacred setting, until our home parish has a choir ready to tackle this ancient style, a recording by the Westminster Cathedral Choir to listen to at home is a tolerable compromise. I hope at least one CD arrives in my Christmas stocking.
This is my other wishlist item — a game of deciphering common names and phrases from small words put together with no apparent relation. The game depends not on what you say, but what you hear, and two teams race to guess the most phrases. An example: Dew Wino Hue. If you slur the words together, you actually get the answer (Do I know you?). Or "Eye Mull of Mush Sheen" (I’ll let you figure that one out on your own). It’s fun and challenging . . . and often baffling to an English major like me.
I’m giving this to a lot of older adults I know: Mother Angelica’s Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality, and this to younger adults: Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To. And lots of people are getting these delicious candies.