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Ali Shops Blog

Archive for the ‘Gifts & Cool Stuff’ Category

Jonathan Adler Uptown Update

Friday, February 17th, 2012

It’s been the worst kept retail secret for months, but finally, Jonathan Adler, the home furnishings and design company, has confirmed that it is building a store in Uptown at 1436 W. Lake St.–across the street from American Apparel. It could open as soon as March. A splashy opening party is in the works, too, and Mr. Adler intends to be there. Stay tuned for more details.

Shopping, From the Heart

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Just a few Valentine’s Gift ideas that have caught my eye at local boutiques:

Twin Cities designer Lisa Nelson brings her handmade stamped charm jewelry to The Bee Cottage on Wednesday, Feb. 8. Choose from ready made designs created specially for this event, or place a custom order to be shipped for Valentine’s Day.  441 Second St., Excelsior, 612-787-2233

The Hanky Heart: A heart shaped box filled with three pair of the essential Hanky Panky lace panties. $50, at Stella, 308 Chestnut St. E., Stillwater, 651-439-7935

If you do make it to Stillwater, be sure to stop by Mara Mi‘s flagship store+studio+cafe. This locally-based stationery company has some of the freshest card designs–plus the notepads, totes and red velvet cupcakes to complete the thought. 201 Main St. S., Stillwater, 651-689-1730

Ruby and silver necklace: Gemstone jewelry doesn’t have to break the bank. Max’s has a nice selection of pieces for $150 or less, like this one from Adel Chefridi. Shops at Excelsior & Grand, 3826 Grand Way, St. Louis Park, 952-922-8364

Of course, Max’s is also known for its gourmet chocolates that taste as good as they look. I’m partial to the salted caramels (available in a heart-shaped box). Max’s owner Ellen Hertz has fallen for this hearts and arrows box from Recchiti Chocolates ($25). Try them both–and others–this Saturday Feb. 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. I’ll be there, too, for a live broadcast of Shop Girls on myTalk107.1.

For gifts high on creativity and sentimentality, step out of the card aisle at the big box store, and try some place unique like The Guild, a collective of stylists, designers and dealers. Sandy Stewart, one of the original founders of the Guild, is a vintage jewelry collector. From vintage silver to Victorian frames, her unique pieces make romantic gifts. And that’s just for starters. 4414 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-378-1815

Cheers to Askov

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, The Bachelor Farmer‘s signature red heart wine glasses are now available at the Dayton brothers’ store connected to the restaurant, Askov Finlayson. $10 each. 200 N. First St., Mpls., 612-206-3925

Click here for more Valentine’s Day gift ideas from local boutiques

Accidental Barista

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

I am not a coffee drinker. Too bitter, too hot. For years, I started my morning with water or a splash of juice. I ordered steamed milk with almond flavor when forced to meet at coffee shops. Then my 30s happened. Kids. Career. Second career. I began to crave 12 ounces of  comfort and caffeination to kick start my day.

I like a non-fat vanilla latte. I don’t like the price.

No, I can’t learn to like plain coffee. I’ve tried. I didn’t even replace the coffee maker we got as a wedding gift when I dropped it on the floor a few years ago. What’s the point? I’ve looked at machines that would make me a fancy drink, but they seemed, well, fancy–too expensive and too complicated for my amateur taste. I don’t grind beans.

Over the holidays, my parents surprised me with a Mr. Coffee latte maker. It’s possible I’m more excited about it than my new iPad. Ground coffee (or espresso — although I still haven’t figured out where to buy ground espresso), water, milk and a splash of vanilla. It brews! It froths! My perfect latte is ready in two minutes. Even my relatives (coffee drinkers, the lot of ‘em) were impressed.

And in a couple of weeks, I’ll be able to justify a new sweater with the money I’ve saved. Cheers.

Mr. Coffee Cafe Latte, $99, Bed, Bath & Beyond

Happy Hats

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

It’s no surprise that Minnesota inspires well-designed winter accessories. Hats and scarves make great gifts–even better when they come from someone who knows what it’s like to get dressed on a miserable day in January.

All Knitwear is the perfect antidote to a gray season. Designer Annie Larson hand knits each and every one of her bright, bold, patterned hats. They capture the fondest of winter memories–flying down a hill on a toboggan, skating a pristine lake, building snowmen…and returning to a warm house where Mom has extra marshmallows for the hot cocoa. Larson is a University of Minnesota grad who worked for Target before starting her own brand, now based in Brooklyn. Her hats, $52, are sold at Askov Finlayson, 200 N. First St., Mpls., 612-206-3925

St. Paul resident Semera Faroog’s design credits include stints with BCBG and Free People. Starting her own sweater/knit collection led her to Peru where she works with local artisans who hand knit her luxe sweaters and scarves using Alpaca yarns that are dyed with eco friendly colorants. The brand is Made By, and each piece is actually stamped with the name of the artisan who made it. Find the chic hats, headbands and chunky sweaters, socks and scarves–starting at $70–at Allee Metro Chic, 493 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-414-0274

I Wish You Had a Wish List

Monday, December 12th, 2011

I like to think that it’s because I hold myself to a high standard of gift giving that I struggle. Will she love it? Does he already have one similar? Would she want gray or orange? And then, to ease the stress, I step back and think: Well, I know I love it. And I know I don’t have one, and I’d take the orange. And so I do.

Of course this just perpetuates the problem. No one knows what else to buy me because they believe I’ve been so consumed with shopping for myself, and, it can’t be denied, I still don’t have gifts for them.

There is a way to end this shopping drama: Wish Lists. That’s right. There’s nothing distasteful about telling someone what you want. Think of it as a gift, really, to help them gift you well. You’re happy, they’re happy, retailers are happy that we aren’t all returning things. Some boutiques are having a lot of fun with wish lists this season: martinpatrick3 in the North Loop will actually send a card on your behalf to Santa (or Mommy, or anyone with a zip code, really) telling them what you want. StyledLife at Galleria is making wish lists a two day party this week. It’s called Show the Love. From 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, the ladies are invited to shop and fill out a wish list, which StyledLife will present to the men the next evening, 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, when they are invited to shop, drink, and watch a little Sports Center while their perfect gifts are being wrapped. Music, refreshments and more frivolity will ensue both nights.

Whatever boutique you’re shopping, just ask–they are glad to help your wishes get fulfilled. Because telepathy just isn’t all that reliable.

Local Produce

Friday, December 9th, 2011
There’s no excuse for a generic card or gift wrapped in newspaper (claim eco-consciousness, at least) what with the Twin Cities’ deep pool of design talent. Local Produce is a new collaborative of experienced designers who have worked for major brands including Mara-Mi, Target and Anthropologie. The mission is simple: “create art that delights.” Experience that first hand Saturday at Corazon. Shop Local Produce gift wrap and tags, ribbons and package accents. Then shop the rest of the store (I had a hard time editing down all the great Corzon gifts for our Dec. gift guide in Mpls.St.Paul Magazine), and members of Local Product will wrap your packages in their paper (for a fee). Enjoy cookies and cider while you shop. 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday. 4646 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-276-0198

Great Gift: Warby Parker Gift Box

Monday, December 5th, 2011

It was love at first sight when I discovered Warby Parker, where a complete pair of super stylish eyeglasses is $95–yes, that includes prescription lenses! (Downside: single vision only)-and for every pair purchased, one is donated to a person in need. Specs are not the most obvious holiday gift, but this season, Warby Parker is making it irresistible: Your $95 Warby Parker gift card comes in a customized box with five sample frames of your choosing and a personal note. The recipient can try them on (holiday activity!), pick one to buy with the gift card and send the rest back at no additional charge. Hope my husband didn’t read this.

Tell Maria Rivolta Ali Sent You

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Pays to check AliShopsBlog on a Saturday: Maria Rivolta has offered to extend her 25 percent off weekend friends & family deal to my readers! Maria Rivolta is the store without walls outside Bloomingdale’s at Mall of America – right near Rainforest Cafe. I’m worried some shoppers are a bit intimidated to go beyond the front display case at this non-traditional store. But really, it’s worth a look: the fashion jewelry has a great, modern look, fun color and is affordable. Even more so, today and tomorrow. MOA, 1802 South Blvd., 952-926-2897

Letterpress Love

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

To illustrate the themes for our holiday gift guide (in the December issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine now on newstands), we asked Minneapolis letterpress company Lunalux to create special cards like the one above–each a little different in font, pattern and shades of black and gold, but all complementary. The results were even more fabulous that we’d hoped, and prove that it pays to mix and match–and to tap a local expert for inspiration.

This Saturday, Dec. 3, Lunalux is hosting a super-sized version of its “Stationery Saturday.” Choose between three photo cards or backslap notes that can be personalized on the spot. Won’t it feel good to have that out of the way? More details here1618 Harmon Place, Mpls., 612-373-0526 | Mpls.St.Paul Magazine © 2008 MSP Communications, Inc. All rights reserved