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Ah, home for the holidays--time to lay out monogrammed guest linens, scrub the silver with a toothbrush and agonize over grout mildew. Or maybe "home" for you means Handi-wipes, hide-a-beds and hot plates. No matter! Here are some gifts to feather the nest--be it ever so humble.A Laying-On of Hands
Finally, the perfect gift for your aesthetically gifted but punctuality-challenged loved one. Although some folks get all gooey over the perfect vintage modern find, a few of the soundest midcentury designs are still in production. A classic in this category is the Vitra block clock ($229, Hive Modern, 111 NW 2nd Ave., 242-1967), which recreates one of George Nelson's hallmark brainstorms--a skeletal, numberless wall clock with slender hands floating in the center of 12 blue-painted wood-block markers (conveniently arrayed in a circle! Just like a real clock!). Indulge, and let those eager estate-sale types watch with envy.
Bowling for Christmastime
For the dedicated home decorator, the only thing better than matching is "coordinating." Waechtersbach ceramic bowls ($68.25 set of 3, Wild Life, 3962-B SE Hawthorne Blvd., 236-3862) come in a sunny fleet of attractive tints (red, sky blue, apple green, gold). Mix and mingle as your taste demands--they fit together in a satisfying babushka-doll way. Made in Germany, these sturdy, chip-resistant ceramics should stand up to years of baking from those complicated Better Homes & Gardens butter-crumble recipes (unless, of course, you get so frustrated you toss 'em).
Machine Mood Lighting
You don't have to be Lance Armstrong to love the Resource Revival bike-chain candlestick ($64, Mirador, 2106 SE Division St., 231-5175). It, like the Tour de France champ, knows how to use a second wind. Like all of RR's products, this tabletop taper holder is made from recycled bike, car and machine parts. Mounted on a cycle sprocket that still swivels and clicks (think of the hours of idle enjoyment!), two rigid chains snake up to hold soldered candle sockets mounted on small gears. The sprocket assembly allows the candles to be rotated and re-angled at your whim. And it's a good bet that if you buy things made out of bike parts, you're capable of whims.
The phrase "art collector" may conjure visions of une femme d'un certain âge in big glasses and sponge-painted caftans, but there's no reason the average aesthete can't own an original. The "Four Seasons" Chinese paintings on velvet ($75, Portico, 3630 SE Division St., 230-2522) hit that elusive purgatory between fine art and dogs playing poker. Styled in careful daubs and dashes denoting blossoms, leaves, reflecting pools, and quaint bridges and tea houses (each painting represents a season), these pieces have a sweetness and solemnity that will jibe with any futon on the globe.
Short history lesson: Settlers came and cleared land to make America's most livable city, chopping down all the big trees and turning them into the joists, planks and studs that are the bones of our charming neighborhoods. But guess what: Those trees are still here (sort of). ReFind Furniture's Douglas Fir coffee tables ($225, ReFind Furniture, The Rebuilding Center, 3625 N Mississippi St., 331-1877) are made entirely from rescued lumber salvaged as part of the Rebuilding Center's demolition services. The handsome tables are finely assembled, sanded and waxed to a natural finish--altogether a respectable redemption for those long-gone giants.
"Unique gift" is a phrase drained of meaning--unless you're talking about an antique chandelier ($195 and up, Three More Monkeys, 803 NW 23rd Ave., 222-9894). These debauched, once-glorious light fixtures, dripping with crystal teardrops, odd glass beads, and metal rosettes and leaves, look like faded debutantes trotted out for one last hurrah. They have been rescued from barns and back parlors and scrupulously restored in a shabby-chic vein--a coat of whitewash, a few licks of gold leaf, a handful of flame bulbs. Your gift recipient will undoubtedly be surprised to pull back the tissue paper and find a glittering pile of glass--perfect for installation in the bathroom or the RV beached in the yard. It's cheaper than diamonds and just as plush--a sentiment, after all, perfectly suitable for a faded debutante.
Catch My (Snow)Drift
It's snowy, it's fluffy, and it's so very groovy. The white cotton shag rug ($90, Urban Outfitters, 2320 NW Westover Road, 248-0020) is made from ultra-long, ultra-soft, utterly un-Hooverable cut pile, dusted with a few wheaty flecks. A cut above UO's usual rough-hewn housewares, this 5-by-7-foot throw looks swank enough for Andy Warhol's Factory or the set of CQ. But let's visualize it in your environment: It cries out to be slung diagonally across your loft's waxed concrete floor just in front of the B&B Italia sofa. What, you live in a cold-water flat in deepest Southeast with nary a Barcalounger to your name? Well, this can be your little slice of the good life. Now, get to work on that white-on-white space pod and zip-up jumpsuit.
Put down the Pabst--your crack puzzler's mind now has a new challenge. The CATUS lighting plastic hanging lamp ($89.95-$124.95, Combination, 235 NW 10th Ave., 224-2222) is made of dozens of tabbed-and-slotted, flower-shaped discs. When assembled (via somewhat cryptic diagrams and instructions translated from Thai), the lamp forms a luminous, petal-studded orb that hangs from a white cord and shines from a simple bulb mount. At a squint, this lamp resembles high-design lighting--but at dorm-room prices. Finally, you can afford to restock the keg-erator.
MORE GIFT IDEAS
An armless, Zen-like lounge chair is a natural choice for feng shui nesters. Matching tables also available.
$595 for chair, $225 for table. Sofa Table Chair, 2337 E Burnside St., 231-2782.
Custom Neon Art
These decorative neon pieces can be placed on any flat surface, and with more than 50 different designs you're sure to find the one that suits you. Lighten up!
$175 for tabletop transformer and one design, additional designs $100, custom designs $200-$250. Habromania, 2303 NE Alberta St., 223-0767.
Wooden boxes with assorted decorations, patterns and words, these keepsakers come from the cool folks at Sticks.
$250. Twist, 30 NW 23rd Place, 224-0334, and 700 SW 5th Ave., 221-3137.
Terror Attack Supplies
Show your kids you're a warmonger with a Safer America terror kit: gas masks, protective suits, potassium iodide, and every man's dream--duct tape.
Family kit $499, www.saferamerica.com
Decorate your walls with drawers salvaged from old houses and reinvented as new stylish vintage wall cabinets.
$75-$125, ReFind Furniture, 3625 N Mississippi Ave. (inside the Rebuilding Center), 445-1756.