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Lottie + Doof Gift Guide 2016

Julianne Ahn makes some of my favorite ceramics at Object & Totem [1]. She has quite a following, so things go fast. But they are worth waiting for.

Okay, okay, this is a major splurge. But after years of being curious about linen sheets my friend Grace convinced me they were worth the money. She was right. We’ve become linen converts. I find myself talking about them way more than I should. The only problem is, they’re fucking expensive. But Bryan and I had been sleeping on the same cheap cotton sheets for most of our decade-long relationship so we felt like we could justify the upgrade (I am The King of justifying upgrades). We now have a set from West Elm [2] that we got on sale and some from Parachute. I especially love the off-black (coal, as they call it) from Parachute [3]–it is just such a great 90’s goth color. We like them because they are cool (we both run hot) and yet have a comforting weight to them. Hard to explain, but delightful.

We Are Everywhere [4]. For real.

DS & Durga [5] have made it to this guide before, and I can never get enough of their everything. They recently released a line of pocket perfumes. Oil-based roll-ons that you can easily transport. They even come in the perfect felt sleeve. And as always, the graphic design on these is A+. Spirit Lamp [6] is based on a favorite candle of theirs, described as:

These beautiful little match holders are from Evanston-based artist Julia Finlayson’s Grandmontstreet Ceramics [7]. Each perfect little vessel holds a handful of matches and is ribbed for striking. They’re available at one of my favorite Chicago shops, Asrai Garden [8] (who recently launched their very own web shop!).

Pillows! This pillow [9] is great, but so is everything from Banquet Atelier and Workshop in Vancouver. I am pretty obsessed with their textile patterns and a lot of my domestic fantasies revolve around curtains for our dining room in one of their rad fabrics.

A lot of nudity in this guide, I know. These pots from Group Partner have become almost too much. I’d dismiss them, if they weren’t so damn compelling. After too long only stocking a female figure, they finally gave guys [10] (link contains full frontal terracotta nudity!!) their due. Nice buns.

For my fellow Midwest [11] lovers.

Swing Time [12] by Zadie Smith. I don’t think I relate to anyone’s writing and thinking more than I do Smith’s. I still think she might be a better essayist than fiction writer, but I really enjoyed Swing Time. It is fun to read and a lot to think about—which is ideal. Maybe it is her most compelling work? (Photographed at a favorite bookstore because I read things on a Kindle now and LOVE IT, despite years of resisting.)

You can never go wrong with a plant, unless of course you do. If you’re going to give a plant, make it something easy to care for and in a beautiful vessel so that should the plant not survive, the pot will. Alapash Home [13] in Chicago has a really wonderful selection of potted succulents.

This cookie cutter [14] is genius. The efficiency! And it lead me to learn the word tessellation [15]. (Thanks to Stella [16] for alerting me to this and to Bryan for knowing all of the words.)

These are four cookbooks from this year that I really enjoyed and haven’t gotten a chance to write about yet.

Sweet Sugar Sultry Spice by Malika Ameen (I want to bake everything in this book.)

Deep Run Roots by Vivian Howard (Howard is a treasure and her PBS series is one of the best food shows I have ever seen. She is brave and humble and a lot of things that more chefs should be. She is seriously rad, and the book is too.)

Big Bad Breakfast By John Currence (Fun and rowdy breakfast food.)

Soframiz by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick (A gorgeous cookbook from one of my favorite restaurants and two of the most talented chefs in our country.)

Never forget the Whoopee Cushion [17]. The perfect gift for literally everyone on your list.

My mom and I watched the same episode of America’s Test Kitchen where they reviewed microwave pasta cookers [18], something neither of us knew existed. She bought me one  (kind of as a joke) for my birthday and despite some initial skepticism, I am a fan. For some reason, boiling water for pasta has always felt like a real chore. This thing works well, uses significantly less water, and cleans up easily.

Post-election, one of the things that has comforted me is poetry. The Poetry Foundation, a beloved Chicago institution, publishes Poetry Magazine [19], the oldest English-language poetry journal. For a relatively inexpensive subscription price, you get the journal delivered to your house and exposure to all sorts of poetry you might not easily find. Like this beaut:

An Example [20]

BY NATALIE SHAPERO

Where can the dead hope
to stash some part
of themselves, if not in the living?

And so when I had a daughter,
I gave her your name.

She does not use it.

She goes by a silly, other
thing she was called once in fun,
and then often enough

that it stuck. But oh her hideous pill-
eyed toys — to them each, she has given
her given name,

and so it is you

I hear her again and again calling to.
It is your name she shrieks

to the bale-head farmer, the woven
goat, the cop made of buttons and rags.

Your name, to the squat gray

dog on wheels, tipping on its side
as she drags it by a red string.

That dog, always prone
and pulled along, as though constantly
being killed and paraded

through town to make an example.
What did it do —

Whatever it did, don’t do it.

 

*****

In conclusion: the above are mostly distractions, not solutions. Help people. Donate Money. I know it should go without saying, but the most important thing any of us can do with our money right now is donate to organizations that will protect the health and rights of our fellow citizens. I, for one, would much rather you donate $10 in my name than show up for dinner with a bouquet of flowers or bottle of wine. I give whatever I can to Planned Parenthood [21] each year to help provide medical services to people who need them.