SUMMER GIFT GUIDE 2020
In the middle of these dreary past few months, one of the few bright spots has been the discovery of some fabulous products to tell you about.
Summers for me are usually filled with reviewing parties, play openings, and restaurants, so I rarely get the chance to give you gift suggestions in this season. But as I’ve been discovering and enjoying some worthwhile new items recently, I realized that you guys might like to use some of your superfluous time this month to reward someone (or even just yourself) with one or more of these very fun and useful recommendations.
One of the things I love about this group is that they’re all so different from each other, and are uber-interesting. I’ve even shared some of them with Mr. X and my Reviewing Panel, all with positive feedback. So let’s get right to my suggestions already.
Four Seasons at Angelino’s—Just when we’re all craving a new diversion from the sad situations we’ve been experiencing for most of 2020 comes this entertaining new book from first-time author, Caroline McBride. (Her name is so perfect that I kept thinking it was one of her characters’ monikers!) Four Seasons at Angelino’s is such an effortless read. The story is for everyone, especially world travelers and restaurant lovers. And romantics, as well.
I can totally see this tale becoming a movie. (Thank goodness Kate Hudson has aged out of rom-coms.) The main character, Charlotte McPherson, lives a life that is even more glamorous than my friends think mine is! She appears heavily influenced by the author’s adventures, so I just may have to track down bi-coastal Caroline and make her My New Best Friend!
As an outlying ginger, (my hair is auburn, so both redheads and brunettes can claim me,) I was thrilled to discover this book has a red-headed heroine. And there are so many other aspects to this novel that I appreciate, as well.
First of all, just about all of the story is linear, which makes following and digesting it pretty effortless. And it all makes sense, too—as extravagant as the locations and adventures are, you just know that people do live lives like this. (Just not the majority of us, which is why we have books like this one!) And best of all, it’s easy to read; even though it’s almost three hundred pages, you can whip through it in either a day or a few nights. It’s a perfect beach read. Or a cuddle-up-in-bed one.
Another bonus is that the characters are well-defined; I’m sure the readers will have no trouble casting them in their imaginations as they go along. I had the easiest time with the sexy male bartender, but I’m keeping him to myself!
The best part is that you cannot predict the ending. Just like real-life, it could go so many different ways. Caroline wrote it in a style to keep you guessing while still being in the loop. And it’s fun that the entire scenario takes place over one year, hence the “Four Seasons” of the title! (The “Angelino’s” is the Italian restaurant group for which Charlotte is the PR person.)
What makes the read even more special is that the author, Caroline McBride, is a restaurant publicist herself, so she knows of what she writes! And she’s been to all the international cities she takes her readers to, so a lot of the action is based on personal experience. I just wonder if all the romance is! (I’ll try to get the real-life scoops for you when she and I become besties.)
As someone who’s spent exactly three months of my life since I was fifteen without a boyfriend, I got to live the single life vicariously through the lead character in this novel. [Sidebar note: If she was a real girl, I would tell her what I’ve always told all my single pals—please enjoy the journey because once you’ve found the love of your life, all those crazy experiences are over. Other adventures come up, of course, but they’re of an entirely different ilk. So please cheer up with that in mind, my single peeps out there!]
And as a decades-long restaurant critic, with tons of access to the behind-the-scenes machinations of eateries, I can ascertain that this is a very accurate depiction of the restaurant scene.
So trust me when I suggest you read Four Seasons at Angelino’s this summer. It’s exactly the kind of entertainment we all need right now. www.amazon.com/Four-Seasons-Angelinos-Caroline-McBride/dp/1642935638
Nexsey Neck Tape—This is a show business secret that I’m sharing just this once, so pay attention! Some of us LA actresses had been hearing about this “neck tape” for a while, and were dying to see how it works. Then, because I rail against bad necks all the time to anyone who will listen, someone sent me a roll, suggesting I give it to my “older friends, who may really need it,” (or something to that effect,) which I really appreciated! So a few of us on my Reviewing Panel tried it out. And guess what? We all loved Nexsey! (Now I wish I had not shared it with them—I totally need more, asap!)
Before we received it, I was thinking that it might be something complicated, like the contraption that the character Mrs. Chancellor used on The Young and The Restless back in the day. I was just an impressionable young girl when I saw her do that, and it scared the heck out of me!
But Nexsey is great! It’s nothing like that one, (although some of those are still on the market. How creepy. I guess those companies don’t realize what century this is!)
To use Nexsey when you’re out and about, your hair just needs to be long enough to cover your neck in the back. But in these days of Zoom calls, where people see you from only the front, everyone can use it, even bald guys!!!
You just pull your neck sort-of tightly in the back and then tape it with Nexsey. And that is it! (Okay, it is a tad more involved than that, but that’s the gist.) It should be a godsend to many now, since elective surgery is a no-no until the pandemic restrictions are lessened greatly. And really, people—would you rather have plastic surgery or just use Nexsey every now and then when you need it?!
But shhh—you guys and my team are the only people with whom I’m sharing this secret! (And, by the way, this technique does not work with any other tape—trust me, we tried!) www.nexsey.com
Bye! Bye! Germs—These are two Double Dare Spa products that every person on earth needs right now! The Bye! Bye! Germs line is made-up of All-Purpose Sanitizing Spray and All-Purpose Sanitizing Wipes.
My entire team has been using them recently, and we love both products. Every single one of us noticed that the spray has a light, lovely fragrance which is not overpowering or obnoxious, as we’ve found with several other antibacterial products. Mr. X and I even spray the inside of our masks with it because it makes us feel better. That could possibly be due to aloe being one of the ingredients.
These convenient travel-size items come in handy for all kinds of disinfecting in these troubled times. (Or anytime in life—I’ve always toted products like these even before the pandemic because I’m a germaphobe. And all the moms I know can’t live without them!)
In addition to using Bye! Bye! Germs on hands, both iterations are perfect to use on packages, phones, door handles, counters, and even clothing! And do not forget those grocery carts! And we should all use the spray version in the air around us, especially on planes.
But there’s one extra, nutty reason I’m such a fan of this product. In addition to how great it smells and how convenient it is and its affordability, (which is not always the case with hand sanitizers nowadays,) I love it because of…the exclamation marks in the title!!! OMG! That’s just what I always do, (in case you haven’t noticed.)
So Bye! Bye! Germs wipes and spray are winners, on every level. www.doubledarespa.com
Twinings Teas—I have a feeling that many of you already know about my obsession with all things tea. It’s just the most relaxing substance on earth, (especially when I have time to savor an entire afternoon tea service.) So I was thrilled when someone recently sent me a “quarantine care package” of a whole bunch of Twinings Tea bags!
I was pleasantly surprised to see that this iconic tea company has a couple of new, hip lines to go along with their time-honored ones. Their “Cold Infuse” products are perfect for this summer of heatwaves. They’re actually not even tea, per se. They’re herbal water enhancers that feature various blends of fruits and herbs. You just add the contents of the package to water and in just five minutes you’ll be deliciously refreshed!
But Mr. X and I are in love with their hot teas, especially the ones from their new “Wellness” line. These don’t come in just flavors—they each have a purpose! My fave is Glow, which is said to promote “healthy, glowing skin.” And its flavor is strawberry and cucumber, which I cannot tell you how perfect for every afternoon that is. I just add a bit of honey, and I promise you—I can actually taste both flavors in there! Ahhh.
Mr. X, who has been having trouble sleeping during the pandemic, was thrilled to discover Unwind, which is caffeine-free, and touted to support “a good night’s sleep.” And its flavor is spiced apple and vanilla! Yum. I’d force myself to stay awake just to drink more of it!
And to make it all even more special, there’s a “u” in “flavoured,” so just looking at the packages made me feel like I was in England. And who knows more about tea than the Brits? ‘Nuff said. www.twiningsusa.com
Lynne Reichhart’s Note Cards—As the proud owner of several of this wonderful artist’s paintings, I was absolutely thrilled when a box of her note cards arrived! Each one features a miniature version of one of her now-famous renderings of a variety of subjects. There are still lifes, landscapes, flowers, and a bunch of other topics.
My absolute favorite is one depicting afternoon tea, of course! My mouth literally waters just looking at it.
My only problem with all this stunning-ness is–I don’t want to send them to anyone! The only one who would have deserved one of Lynne Reichhart’s gorgeous note cards from me was my little mother. She would have gone berserk over each and every one of them!
Oh wait—there is one more person I’d like to reward with this beauty! And that is…yours truly! I’m bestowing the entire collection upon…myself. I’m going to frame each one and make an installation on a wall, to cheer me up in this dreary year. What an affordable way to bring some happiness into someone’s life. www.artbylmr.com
FabFitFun Fall Box—As with all four seasons, I was thrilled to receive my Fall Box from FabFitFun’s subscription series. In the midst of all the recent turmoil, (the virus, the heatwave, way too many fires, the mailboxes being taken away, and concerns over the upcoming election, along with all the other basic problems in America right now,) I had not given a thought to when it would arrive. So it was a major surprise. And a lovely bright spot in this trying time.
Subscribers always have several options among the fabulous items, and get to customize their own boxes. But since I receive the Editor’s Edition, the FFF powers-that-be do the choosing for me. That’s always a relief to me because I’ve never been able to make decisions. I know that might come as surprise to many of you, who see me as being so in charge of every situation, but I often can’t even decide between two outfits! I’m always second-guessing myself. So having other beauty-and-fashion fans surprise me with the products is a pleasure!
Some of the highlights of my own FabFitFun Fall Box are: a mist spray to help you sleep, (which I’m going to try as soon as I finish writing this!); a good-quality mascara (which is the only make-up product of which I’m constantly in need!); a spray that removes wrinkles from my always-abused wardrobe; a pricey multi-metal designer bracelet; a pretty liquid highlighter; and a hair oil that doubles as a stress-reliever!
On top of all that, being an art lover, my favorite aspect of the whole shebang is…the colorful and artistic boxes themselves!!! I have never ever gotten rid of any of them. (Just ask the increasingly-annoyed-at-my-way-too-many-possesions Mr. X!) I stack them, (filled with hidden treasures, of course,) in my living room, as an art installation! FFF features a different artist each time, and not one has disappointed me. The existence of the FFF boxes makes me wish there were more than four seasons in a year! (Well, in 2020, it seems that there have been!) www.fabfitfun.com
Well, that’s it for this Gift Guide. I hope it’s given you a happy distraction from all the negativity we’ve been experiencing lately. Now go put some happiness in someone’s life, if even your own, with one or more of these suggestions.
Happy Gift Giving!