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Sensible Bipartisan Compromises: Gifts from $20 to $100
The Boooooooooooccccchhhh! That's what we all call kombucha around my house, harking back to the bizarre month when we tried oh-so-earnestly to make it atop our kitchen counter. Every morning, we'd pour our coffee and say hi to the beastly mother-cake-overgrown-amoeba-thing; it would snarl back, churning itself into and out of the tea filling our large booch jar, unhappy at our presence and letting its smell permeate the kitchen because of it. Our experiment with the booch did not go so well, perhaps because we received instructions on how to use it from a person who was very stoned. But in the seven years since, kombucha has taken off in popularity, especially among the Portlandia set, so it's no surprise that you can now buy a number of brew-your-own kombucha sets. Williams Sonoma offers the Kombucha Brooklyn Home Brew Kit ($70), which comes with everything you need to make some homemade kombucha: a variety of teas, sugar, a liquid starter, a big ol' glass jar and a thermometer. Most importantly, it also comes with the slimy weird mother culture thing, which, if your experience making homemade booch fails like ours, you can always throw into the crowd at a punk show and watch what happens.—G.M.
For anyone who came of age in the '90s, it's refreshing to discover that there's a whole new troupe of girls coming up in 2012 obsessed with all things that involve either riot grrrl or Angela Chase (Claire Dane's smart, pensive, red-headed alter ego on the cancelled-too-early television drama My So-Called Life.) Teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 19 (and probably a boy or two) that lean toward the eccentric, weird or out-of-the-ordinary will likely be more than happy to get a copy of 'Rookie Yearbook One' (Drawn and Quarterly; $29.95) in their stockings. The book is essentially an anthology culled from the best of Rookie, an online magazine for teenage girls edited by Tavi Gevinson, the precocious fashion blogger who first gained fame at the age of 13 for her writing on a blog called Style Rookie. At the ripe old age of 16, Gevinson, inspired by legendary teen mag Sassy, has amassed quite a stable of guest writers for Rookie, including Lena Dunham, Sarah Silverman, Zooey Deschanel and Miranda July. Fashion isn't the only thing that gets the spotlight in this smart publication. Gevinson's obsession with books—including writers like Joan Didion—movies and photography ensures a well-rounded read for any girl that's interested in indulging in her eccentricities rather than hiding them under a barrage of makeup, catty jokes and mall clothes.—L.C.
How to satisfy the reader in your life with a year's worth of features, essays or craft projects? By getting her a magazine subscription. A bonus is that many magazines and journals offer special deals around the holidays, so you can get more pages or gigabytes for less. One can always go with the big players: The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Nation, Mother Jones. You can get any one of these print heavyweights for under $40 right now, with the best deal going to Mother Jones, currently offering a year's worth of visceral storytelling for only $12. But why not patronize some of publishing's smaller gems? There's Tin House, a literary journal thick with fiction, nonfiction and actually-not-remotely-boring poetry, now offering four novel-sized issues for $24.95. For the book-savvy parent, Brain, Child is an Utne Reader- and Pushcart Prize-lauded journal that's featured essays by Barbara Kingsolver and Susan Cheever over the years, currently going for $22. Bust, a DIY women's mag that won't ever lecture you about cellulite or pleasing your man, is offering yearlong subscriptions for only $15. Since most of these tomes usually go for upwards of $5 a pop over the counter, you'll look generous and save enough to get yourself a year of great reading as well.—R.D.
Looking like a million bucks doesn't have to cost that much. Start with the shoes, the crux of any good outfit. JC Penney's Stafford Camlin boots ($60) are a beautiful brown, lace-up, wingtip boot that looks like it should cost double. Uniqlo just launched a store in San Francisco (the company's third in the States) in September, and an online store last month—their Japanese denim jeans ($49.95) look and feel like designer pants, and there are several different cuts and fades from which to choose. This would look great with a V-neck tee or a slim-fit non-iron button-down shirt ($10–$33), and finish it off with a stunning, buy-it-for-life belt from Orion Leather Company online ($40) to match the shoes. Get ready for the onslaught of double-takes.—N.G.
Is your "friend" struggling with a recurring dream in which a bustier-clad Jerry Brown lays next to her begging her to "raise those income taxes real nice?" Then the high-tech Sleep with Remee mask ($95), which promises to allow users to control their dreams, is for her. The blue, black, red, yellow or cream-colored eye shield uses LED light patterns to throw wearers into a state of "lucid dreaming" in which they can supposedly control their unconscious-self's actions. On their Sleep With Remee website, creators Duncan Frazier and Steve McGuigan invite buyers to use the mask for everything from flying through the galaxy on a giant kitten to having a roundtable discussion with their ego and id. Does it actually work, you ask? With the potential of harnessing your, er, your friend's subconscious and finally kicking out all those inappropriately dressed politicos for good, isn't it worth the risk?—R.D.