The 2009 IT List — 20 To Wish For

The 2009 IT List — 20 To Wish For

by Wayne Bell

ffw 1210 coverI know that holiday shopping may be paired down a lot this year, however, if you are able to spend a little this holiday season, I think these items would be greatly appreciated. I tried to stay fairly conscience of the current economy and have selected several items that sell for less than $50. However, it wouldn’t be an IT List without throwing in a few splurges.

‘The Pleasures Of Cooking For One’

Price: $22.95

Perfect for: Mom

For last year’s “It List,” I embraced Judith Jones’ amazing memoir “The Tenth Muse: My Life In Food.” Jones is credited with publishing some of the most amazing talent in the history of food, including Julia Child and James Beard. Jones, herself, is a recent James Beard lifetime achievement award recipient.

One of the most popular sections in “The Tenth Muse” was the small recipe section. In her newest book, Jones elaborates and shares some of her favorite recipes for one. But, this isn’t a simple recipe book. This book provides a blueprint for finding enjoyment while being alone. In Jones’ case, she was presented with the somewhat daunting task of getting back into the kitchen after her beloved husband died. Her writing is both concise and elegant and truly pulls at the heart strings while providing real world practical advice.

‘Julie And Julia’

Price: $18.99

Perfect for: the film lover

Speaking of Julia Child, there wasn’t much to celebrate this summer at the movie theater. However, one small glimmer was “Julie and Julia” which is due to come out on DVD during the holiday season. The film, which follows the parallel of a present day New York City blogger and her muse, Julia Child, won rave reviews for Meryl Streep (so what else is new?). The film is touching and has a great amount of humor and grace.

Yes, some of the portions starring Amy Adams as the blogger can be a bit grating and she can come across as annoying (the character, not Adams). However, when Meryl Streep, Jane Lynch and Stanley Tucci take the screen in the flashback sections, it is amazing. Anyone who loves a good movie will fall in love with this film.

‘Glee: The Road To Sectionals’

Price: $29

Perfect for: Anyone

Speaking of Jane Lynch, the hottest show of the fall co-stars Lynch in a bound-to-be Emmy nominated performance. “Glee” follows the lives of a series of high school show choir performers and their teachers. Oh … and it’s a musical.

Yes, I know the thought of a musical scared me too. After living through crap like “Cop Rock” and “Viva Laughlin,” I was nervous when I heard about “Glee.” However, it has proven me, and the country, wrong. The show is witty, sweet and above all, entertaining. The show breaks into popular songs as often as it does superb one-liners and sharp satire. Starring the uber talented Matthew Morrison and Lea Michelle, this is a fantastic addition to Wednesday night TV. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Fox is smartly releasing a half-season DVD set in time for Christmas to catch people up on the first portion of this season. Stamps

Price: $10 range

Perfect for: Stocking Stuffer

I first discovered The Small Object in March. At the time, I was looking for some interesting stamps to give as birthday gifts. I searched Etsy and found the store The Small Object ( Based in Savannah, Ga., The Small Object Web site offers handmade items including fantastic felt dolls, peg people, trinkets and the best stamps.

My personal favorite is the “Today I will do many fun things” stamp, which outlines places for you to write in your daily plans. I fill an entire notebook with my schedule, so the stamps are a great way to keep organized and they are really smart. There are tons of other great little stamps available that would make great novelty stocking stuffers.

T-Shirts From The Visitors Center

Price: $18

Perfect for: Dad or brother

I can’t believe I am supporting a flashy T-shirt either. I have stood up to all the tacky Razorback crap that has been pushed down my throat for years. I own one nice little Houndstooth T-shirt that I break out on game days at work because I have to. I have never been a big fan of Razorback steel emblem belts and Razorback hoodies with weird sports cliches written on them.

However, I found a great way to support my beloved Fayetteville and even the Hogs with the great line of T-shirts that are now available at the Fayetteville Visitors Bureau. There was a time when Fayetteville T-shirts were pretty tacky, but store manager Brian Bailey has put a great deal of effort into getting goods into the FVB store on the square that reflect the best of the region. There are also handmade local items like BBQ sauces and local music.

Dash & Albert Throws

Price: $58

Perfect for: Anyone who is cold

Dash & Albert throws are a splurge item, I grant you. However, these gorgeous throws that are sold at Handmade in Fayetteville are worth every penny. They are made of the best fabric you can imagine. They aren’t too heavy and aren’t too flimsy. They’re the equivalent of wrapping yourself up in a Williams-Sonoma dishtowel. They are the perfect thing to bundle up under on a winter night or even a chilly summer night. There are more than 30 different designs. While you’re in the store, take a look around. Handmade offers some of the best gift and food items in Northwest Arkansas.

Backyard Botanicals Gardening System

Price: $899

Perfect for: Wayne Bell (that’s me)

OK, so if the throw is a splurge, then I don’t know what this item is. The only word that I can come up with is genius. Essentially, a nice little company called Backyard Botanicals is creating outdoor garden boxes. What separates this item from other square gardening units is that this system is fully contained (no pests or neighbor’s dogs), has its own irrigation system (no back-bending watering) and has its own vine wall for growing tomatoes and other viney plants.

The unit, which is sold through Sam’s Club, is essentially a cedar box that you can walk into. Ever since we acquired our backyard, I have been dreaming about gardening with this unit.

‘Valentino: The Last Emperor’

Price: $19.99

Perfect for: Wife

“Valentino: The Last Emperor” follows the months preceding the final show and gallery exhibit of clothing designer Valentino. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the house of Valentino, it’s one of the last working couture studios. To see the work that goes into making a collection is mindboggling.

However, the heart of the film revolves around a man (and his loving partner) coming to grips with the realization that the simple way he does his work is changing and moving away from his direction. It is both fascinating and heartbreaking. The film is gorgeous, entertaining, and funny…three words not always associated with documentary filmmaking.

Up Country Dog Collars

Price: $18

Perfect for: Your best friend

Those of you who know me, know that I have been a bit obsessed with our little dog Charlee that we adopted in July. In fact, I would be hard pressed to know how we would live without that little bundle of joy. Those of you who have a pet, know exactly what I am talking about.

But one constant source of frustration is how collars hold up. We have bought Charlee a bunch and they just don’t wear well. They are either hard to clean or fray around the edges. But we recently discovered the line of collars manufactured by Up Country carried at Sugarbears in Fayetteville. The durable little collars are sturdy and easy to clean, however the best part is the patterns. Why not buy your little one something special this year? And I’m not talking about children.

Great White China

Price: $129 (four-piece place set)

Perfect for: The cook

I used to be one of those people who always wanted a bunch of busy china in my kitchen. I wanted red. I wanted yellow. I wanted pattern. Then I learned a pretty valuable lesson from my muse, Ina Garten the Barefoot Contessa: Food looks better on simple white china.

It’s hard to find the perfect white china. Most is way too flimsy. Some has a distinct pattern or weird edge or something like that. However, Pottery Barn has the most fantastic line of simple white china. Their “Great White” collection is classic and timeless. At about $100, it’s a steal by Pottery Barn standards. Plus, they carry all of the accompanying serve pieces, so it’s a great starter set to build upon. Its durable and dishwasher and microwave safe. It is simply a classic.

‘Grey Gardens’

Price: $23.99

Perfect for: The folks

The fabulous Beales came to fame in the ’70s as the eccentric cousins of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. In truth, they are so much more than just Jackie O’s cousins. The famous documentary that follows the mother and daughter around their home is the inspiration for this film that ran on HBO. HBO, the same network that brought us the fantastic “John Adams” and the epic “Angels in America,” has once again delivered with “Grey Gardens.”

Jessica Lange won an Emmy for her portrayal of the mother in the tele-film. She beat Drew Barrymore who plays her daughter. I have never been a Barrymore fan, but she was excellent in this very tricky role. However, the movie belongs to Lange and it is worth every penny to see a consuming actress do her stuff. It is a fascinating peek into the life of two “freaks” that are so much more.

Zoku Quick Pop Maker

Price: $49

Perfect for: Friends and kids

Well this is my cool little gadget for the year. Available at Williams-Sonoma, the Zoku quick pop maker makes frozen popsicles in about 10 minutes. First you freeze the little canister. Then you fill it with your favorite healthy (or non healthy) toppings. Then let it do its magic. It turns out gourmet frozen treats in mere minutes. You can also watch your sugar intake by controlling the ingredients. It’s simple enough for a kid to understand and enjoy. It’s basically the same concept as an ice cream maker without all of the hassle.

One Night On Dickson Prints

Price: $39

Perfect for: Boyfriend

Recently Daniel, my significant other, and I headed to Feltner Brothers burgers and franks to check out the twins … I mean franks. The food was great. However, the star of that restaurant is the art on the walls. The posters and prints represent some of Dickson Street’s finest establishments in a cartoonish way. These would be a perfect gift for someone who has an office wall to fill. Daniel, my significant other, said that the prints look like theme park maps … and to that I say, exactly! Order from

Sunny Side Up

Price: $16.99

Perfect for: Music Lover

Every year I try and boost albums that you should consider adding to your iPod. In the past, I have highlighted Amy Winehouse and Ray Lamontagne. This year there hasn’t been much to be excited about. Sure, there’s Lady Gaga (yes, I love her), but does she really need my help with finances? That would be the equivalent to me telling you to buy a Michael Jackson CD.

This year, I have really enjoyed listening to Paolo Nutuni’s sophomore album, “Sunny Side Up.” Its infectious lead single, “Candy” got some mild attention this past summer. It probably should have gotten much more. Nutuni effortlessly blends styles that will have you wondering if you are listening to pop, R&B or folk. At times you think you’re listening to Spanish music. Then you think you’re listening to British folk music. Whatever it is, Nutuni has put out a well-crafted and competent CD.

The Blackberry Farm Cookbook

Price: $60

Perfect for: Anyone

I collect cookbooks. Some people collect dolls or stamps. For me, its cookbooks. It’s been a while since a non-Barefoot Contessa cookbook has excited me as much as this one, but the Blackberry Farm Cookbook is fantastic.

Blackberry Farms is a gorgeous restaurant and inn in eastern Tennessee. The resort is frequently on lists of the finest hotels in the world. The star attraction (besides the inn and views) is the spectacular food, but the food almost takes a backseat in this book. The standout is the stunning photography, which showcases the inn in various seasons. The beautiful landscapes and great architecture are really something to embrace. The book has a beautiful laidback quality. I know that $60 is a bit much for a book, but this is one of those books that you look at and understand where every dollar went. Nothing was spared. It is a holiday must.

Stocking Stuffers

There are always those people who you inevitably forget to grab something for. Therefore, I always try to have a few things that make great little “stocking stuffers.” I always advocate a gift certificate or gift card to a local restaurant. We are fortunate to have some great places where a $20 gift card would travel far.

Two new restaurants and some of my favorites are Trailside Cafe and Hammontree’s, both in Fayetteville. Hammontree’s specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. Every time I go there, I am amazed at how fantastic simple food can truly be. And, I will never turn down a gift card from my beloved Little Bread Company, which has the best breakfast in the city.

If there’s a dessert lover on your list, a gift card to the new Bliss might be a good choice. Bliss makes cupcakes…red velvet, pumpkin spice, lemon, chocolate milkshake … there are too many to mention. Eating a cupcake with a cup of coffee is a good way to end a date night. Biss is a fantastic addition to Fayetteville … an addition that we never knew we needed.

Finally, when it comes to the finer things, I have a few recommendations. I love to write and appreciate a great journal. The journals at Keel’s Simple Diary (Google it) are great little journals that prompt you with simple questions that make journal writing less intimidating. The most important thing is it keeps you writing when your brain simply wants to go to sleep.

For the neat freak (like me), you can never go wrong with Mrs. Meyer’s products. These organic cleaning products have been a favorite for years and with good reason. They are great at cleaning just about anything and have beautiful scents. My favorite is geranium, although the limited edition Christmas pine is a nice surprise. Find Mrs. Meyer’s at Ozark Natural Foods or the Market at Pinnacle Point.

Finally, a gift card to the Metropolitan Opera is always a nice idea. Oh, but wait. How is $20 going to get you to New York? It won’t, but there is an alterative. Many people are unaware that our local Malco showcases a variety of live streaming performances from the Met in HD. The popular series “The Met in HD” provides us here in Fayetteville with some gorgeous showings of current operas without the price tag and travel. Plus, you can go in your PJs. What’s a better gift than that?

Coming up are: “Les Contes D’Hoffmann” on Dec. 19; “Der Rosenkavalier” on Jan. 9; “Carmen” on Jan. 16; “Simon Boccanegra” on Feb. 6; “Hamlet” on Mar. 27; and “Armida” on May 1.

I hope I’ve provided you with some interesting holiday options. We at the Free Weekly wish you a great holiday season and as always, thank you for spending another year with us!

Categories: Features