Friday, April 4, 2014

For Sale: The Irreverent Iris Apfel

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Style icon Iris Apfel has lived a rich tapestry of a life brimming with beautiful things. Perpetually draped in decadent mounds of eclectic, ethnic jewelry, Iris herself is a piece of art for whom moderation equals mundane, and her wardrobe is a celebration of color and texture. More is more in Iris’s world, and the “geriatric starlet,” as she calls herself, has coined an eccentric style that is unmistakable and truly inimitable.

She will turn 93 on Sunday. Tomorrow night, on the eve of her birthday, she is selling on OneKingsLane.com pieces from her exquisite personal collection of carefully-curated objects, ranging from furniture to apparel, and accessories for both the wardrobe and the home. Each piece has been evaluated with her discerning eye, and hand-picked during a lifetime of shopping around the world.

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“I used to make two trips to Europe every year,” Iris said, “with at least 40-foot containers each time. I never missed an auction, every estate sale I could dig up, every time I heard of someone who wanted to sell something but they didn’t want to go public…and I really got wonderful things that way.” She continued, “But you can’t keep these things forever. And even if they’re yours, somebody once said to me, ‘You really never own anything on this planet. You just rent.’ I put so much love and attention into everything I’ve bought,” she said, and, speaking of her pieces as though they are living creatures, she added, “I hope that when someone buys something it goes to a good home where it’s loved and respected. That would make me very happy.”

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The storage facilities that Iris rents in Queens, New York, are positively bursting at the seams with a bounty of objects of desire, and after years of negotiation with the savvy buyers at One Kings Lane, Iris is prepared to let go of a select few pieces–800, to be exact. This is an extraordinary opportunity to own a piece of Iris Apfel, a formidable force in art, fashion and decor.

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Iris’s education and career are as fascinating as her travels and the goodies that she acquires during the trips. She studied art history at New York University and attended art school at the University of Wisconsin. Iris worked for Women’s Wear Daily and for interior designer Elinor Johnson.

In 1950, she, with husband Carl, launched a textile firm, Old World Weavers. In addition, during that time, she was interior decorator to nine presidents in the White House–including Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City premiered an exhibition about Apfel in 2005 titled Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel. The exhibit’s success prompted its own traveling version.

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In addition, the Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History in Boynton Beach, Florida, is in the conceptual phase of designing a building which will house a dedicated gallery of Apfel’s clothes, accessories and furnishings. Epic.

You go, girl!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Pasotti Parasol For Your Valentine? Oh, Yes!

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Italian-made luxury Pasotti umbrellas, below, are beautifully brilliant pieces of art for any man’s or woman’s wardrobe. You can brighten up a dreary day–stat–with one of these high-quality masterpieces, favored by the famous and the fashionable.

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However, my new obsession is the Pasotti parasol–a smart and sassy way to further protect your skin from the sun come warmer weather. Made with the same exacting standards as a Pasotti umbrella, the Pasotti parasol looks fresh and feminine as we transition into spring and summer.

Honestly, isn’t Anne Hathaway, pictured top, a spectacular beauty with her charming parasol?

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And check out the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, above, with her lovely parasol…

So here…behold my favorite parasols from Pasotti! Take note of the fabulous handles and exquisite attention to detail that you’ll only find on an authentic, Italian-made Pasotti!

Rose pasotti

Everything’s coming up roses with this gorgeous 3-D Pasotti parasol. With raised flowers, a dual-canopy lining and a fabulous rose-carved handle, it’s the smart way to give your Valentine flowers this year!

Pink lace parasol

I adore this pretty pink parasol with a scandalous trim of black lace ribbon. It’s lingerie with an SPF built right in.

Chocolate with flowers

This chocolate parasol, with a flurry of ivory flowers, above, will look divine in spring with the forthcoming floral trend. Wow. Just…wow.

Red leopard

For a little feline influence, check out this folding red leopard number with an ornate, gem-encrusted handle. Sophisticated, and practical.

Buttercup

And now, my favorite. This gorgoeus, buttercup-yellow parasol laced with frothy black and white tulle trim, punctuated with poppies, and glistening with gems is outstanding. The attention to detail is remarkable, and the handle itself, a work of art. True love.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Presents of Greatness for the Gourmet

A longtime friend of mine from high school, Candice Corum, routinely tempts me on Facebook with fabulous pictures and descriptions of her home-cooked meals. ‘Home-cooked’ is a weak descriptive when you speak about Candice’s food fare; rather, her cooking skills and presentation style rival that of a fine restaurant, and the repertoire that she creates is equally impressive.

Given Candice’s gift for the gourmet, I asked her to compile a list of exactly that–gifts for the gourmet! This is her ultimate list for the savviest foodie. Thanks, CC! Next up? Dinner at my house!

Candice’s Gift Picks…

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Sur la Table Sphere Ice Molds, Set of 2, $10.95

Clever ice molds create giant icy orbs that won’t water down your drink. Combining art and science, the balls are ultra slow-melting…Plus, they look hella cool! I love the way you can freeze a bit of mint or a sliver of citrus inside the balls for a true gourmet touch!

Easy-to-use mold and innovative cap effectively shapes your ice into large spheres. Simply fill with water and freeze. Perfect for holiday entertaining, and they make a great gift for the foodie.

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Monogram Cheese Board & Spreader, $25

This maple cutting board and spreader set, exclusive to Williams-Sonoma, is just the right size for serving appetizers and cheese, and for small prep jobs in the kitchen. Makes an ideal personalized gift.

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Mason Jar Cocktail Shaker, $29.95

Mix cocktails with ease in this all-American Mason jar shaker. Created by Virginia boys Josh Williams and Eric Prum, of W+P Design, it’s the perfect gift for showing your down-home Southern hospitality.

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Artisanal Cocktail Gift Set, $119.95

This gift set is filled with artisanal ingredients for preparing the season’s most festive cocktails. It includes ginger syrup made by Brooklyn-based Morris Kitchen, Spanish olives and a bottle of Dillon’s Bitters, a complex flavor enhancer for Manhattans, martinis and Old Fashioneds. The book Winter Cocktails inspires creative drinks from mulled ciders to eggnog to holiday punch. A stainless steel, 23-ounce cocktail shaker means you can raise a toast to gleeful gift-giving!

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Double Mezzaluna, $39.95

This old-fashioned tool, whose name means “half-moon” in Italian, is still an international favorite for quick chopping. Using an easy, two-handed rocking motion, you can swiftly chop or mince onions, garlic and herbs, reducing prep time. Two curved, hand-sharpened stainless-steel blades glide easily through herbs, vegetables and nuts. Strong beechwood handles are easy to grip and keep your hands and knuckles away from the blades.

Candice Loves…

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Dubost Laguiole Olivewood Steak Knives, Set of 4, $179.95

Candice loves anything by Laguiole, but this handsome collection of knives makes a thoughtful gift for steak-lovers. The knives feature stainless-steel blades with riveted olivewood handles and come in an elegant wooden box, perfect for gifting.

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OXO Adjustable Measuring Beakers, $5.95-$11.95

This handy tool is ideal for measuring and dispensing sticky ingredients such as nut butters, honey and molasses. Features a smooth, rotating body and comfortable turning knob to easily push up and dispense your ingredients. The cup is adjustable for convenient measurement of different volumes.

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OXO V-Blade Mandoline, $39.95

No kitchen is complete without a mandoline, and this one, designed for safety, efficiency and ease of use, produces a variety of popular cuts for cooking and garnishing foods. V-shaped stainless-steel blades slice cleanly through soft and hard foods. Makes perfect crinkle and straight cuts in four thicknesses.

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Tunisian Hand-Painted Fresco Tagine, $59.95

This hand-painted earthenware dish can be used to cook and serve traditional North African tagines, as well as couscous and rice dishes. The cone-shaped cover funnels condensation directly back to the food for moist, tender results.

The traditional Tunisian pattern is painted by hand using food-safe paints and glazes. Hand-thrown clay retains heat well for serving directly at the table.

Candice’s Kitchen Essentials…

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Boos Cutting Block, $249.95

Boos butcher blocks are the best, and this 4″ thick beauty is manufactured from the finest northern-white species of hard rock maple. Maple wood is naturally anti-bacterial and won’t harbor any bacteria. On top of that, the Boos cream finish creates a protective layer that prevents food and moisture from damaging the wood.

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Williams-Sonoma Meat Thermometer, $20.95

Scientifically calibrated for accuracy, this commercial-quality thermometer ensures a perfect bird every time, and features dual pointers that indicate both the numeric temperature and the degree of doneness for different types of meat.

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Cuisinart Smart Stick Immersion Blender, $59.95

Cuisinart makes it quick, clean, and easy to blend, prep and whip a variety of ingredients. Blends or whips right in the bowl, pitcher or pot, to eliminate extra dishes, and with the chopper attached, it turns into a handy mini food-prep tool. Hand blender and chopper has a powerful 200-watt motor. Blends and chops, with push-button control for continuous or pulse action.

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Lodge Logic Cast Iron Skillet, $10.95-$59.95

Lodge Logic offers heirloom-quality cast iron skillets with a size for every task. The smaller skillets are ideal when cooking for one or two. Choose a larger skillet for cooking in quantity; they’re great for serving up family-style meals or braising bigger cuts of meat. Whether it’s bacon, grilled sandwiches, fish, cornbread—no matter what you like to grill, sauté or fry, you’ll love these classic American skillets.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Senna Holiday Blowout Sale

Get ready to slap your plastic, cuz Eugenia Weston, creator of the brilliant Senna Cosmetics, is offering 20% off all online orders today through December 2, 2013! This is an incredible sale with incredible values, just in time to get everything you need, for everyone on your list! Eugenia is extending this discount to even her new ‘Last Chance’ items. It’s a sale not to be missed, perfect for stocking stuffers, Secret Santa gifts, and Valentine’s day! Stock up now so you won’t sweat it later. You’ll be so glad you did.

Here’s what I’m snagging:

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The Brush Clutch, $52.

A selection of Eugenia’s best brushes is perfect for anyone, but especially teens and travelers. This is a great gift for my niece. Honestly, a collection like these smart seven has everything you need, all wrapped up in a fantastic folio of baby blue faux snakeskin! Perfect for your purse! Plus, Eugenia’s brushes are divine, designed with the utmost intelligence and produced with the highest quality. You will never get these kind of brushes anywhere else for such a low, low price. When you break it down, it’s about $7 per brush. Try getting that at Target or your local drugstore…Oh, wait…you won’t!

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Form-A-Brow Kit in Dark, $36.

Form-a-Brow is the original brow stencil kit, emulated by brow great Anastasia of Beverly Hills…but it was Eugenia Weston who thought of it first, and who still does it best! Thanks, Eugenia! This is a must for every makeup kit!

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Haute Nudes Palette in Mystic, $38.40.

This palette is perfection: six gorgeous eye colors, a blush and a highlighter, tiny little brushes of the highest quality–all in a slim compact that slides easily in your purse or travel bag. I have one already for myself…but at this price, I need a few more for all my girlfriends! Makes a fab gift!

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Haute Nudes Palette in Sultry, $38.40.

It’s the same palette in warmer tones for my tawny-skinned girls…This is gifting at its finest!

You absolutely must see the steals and deals that Eugenia is offering right now! Her products are manufactured with the highest integrity, and you can be certain that any gift from Senna Cosmetics will be a welcome surprise this holiday season. Now go forth my savvy beauty shoppers, and buy with confidence! We love you, Eugenia, for making holiday gift-giving a snap!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Beautiful Yet Functional Art for the Table: Annieglass

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Genius in Glass

I will never forget the moment I discovered Annieglass. It was love at first sight when I stumbled across these unique dishes, coveted and collected by too many celebrities to name, and used in some of the finest restaurants in the world.

Designed and created by glass artist Annie Morhauser, they’re utterly breathtaking and very difficult to photograph. Even the pictures in this article do not do justice to their incomparable beauty.

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I was beyond thrilled to tour the Watsonville factory with Annie. It’s positively stacked with her gorgeous tableware, which is painstakingly crafted with exacting standards. Below, an employee assembles a cake plate in Annie’s warehouse.

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I don’t remember where I first found my Annieglass–maybe it was Neiman Marcus, maybe Gump’s San Francisco, or possibly the Annieglass store in downtown Santa Cruz, all vendors of the product–but what I do remember is the sensation. It was utter awe. Magic. I really have never seen or felt anything like Annieglass before or since. Over the years several styles have been imitated, but never duplicated.

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The pattern that won my heart was the B.C. Dinnerware, above, with the bubbly warped glass and pebbled texture that is a trademark of many of Annie’s dishes.

B.C. Dinnerware stands for Before Christ Dinnerware–“because it looks like it predates Christ,” Annie tells me. The dinner plates are like relics from another place and time, all with a cunning asymmetry that is distinctly Annie’s own. They’re at once antiqued, yet infinitely modern. Glossy aquamarine wonders of rippling glass that look organically beautiful, they also feel beautiful. The underbelly has the texture of velvet.

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Above, Annie stands beside the two-ton sheets of durable architectural glass from which her pieces are fashioned. Commonly used in skyscrapers, the glass has the aqua tint from the iron in the glass, and the velvety feel is due to the uncommon process of sandblasting the bottoms of each piece. This contributes to the milky paleness that is undefinable, simultaneously translucent but also opaque.

But first the glass is “slumped” over plaster molds, below, revealing each one’s unique beauty through its imperfections–imperfections that make every piece an original, a treasure.

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I mix my B.C. Dinnerware with other pieces, especially the Shell Series, below, which has a prehistoric elegance–vessels shaped with the gentle silhouettes of fossilized seashells. They’re where art and artifact collide. Highly respected in the art world, two of the designs from the Shell Series reside in the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

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Tipped with your choice of 24 karat gold or platinum, or simply non-trimmed, every piece bears the studio signature, and Annie herself signs limited editions. Her name is etched on the bottoms of the pieces.

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There are many patterns of Annieglass, such as the classic Roman Antique Gold and Platinum, above and below, which I also collect. This is the first collection that Annie launched, 30 years ago. I love the look of an Annieglass table, where mixing and matching collections is not only common, but de rigeur.

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With Thanksgiving just around the corner and Christmas on its heels, I encourage you to discover your own inner awe as you look at these iconic creations, like the elegant Handkerchief Votives below.

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A significant advantage to these ethereal pieces is, oddly, their practicality. For something that looks so delicate and fragile, Annieglass can stand up to the most challenging circumstances; they’re dishwasher safe; and they look equally at home with any mixture of their Annieglass siblings, as well as fine China, limoges, or pottery.

You can add just one stunning piece for a real wow factor, or mix and match til your heart’s content. Either way, no two Annieglass tables will ever look the same. Your choice of linens, placemats, and of course flatware and accessories will define the table’s vignette. I love an Annieglass table set with twigs, bamboo placemats, stones, and other natural elements.

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Annieglass is perfectly appropriate for any circumstance–be it a Thanksgiving feast, a baby shower buffet, a New Year’s dinner, or Valentine’s day. Here, Annie holds a lovely heart-shaped dish that’s ideal for hors d’oeuvres or dessert.

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The pieces are multifunctional. Use one of Annie’s pedestal Slabs, above, to present fruit…or cheese…or a whole poached salmon.

Annieglass looks equally appropriate in the bathroom, due to its aquatic esthetics, holding decorative soaps or guest towels…cosmetics, sea sponges, and the list goes on and on.

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“Every piece of Annieglass can be, and should be, used for a variety of objects,” Annie says. “Ruffle cake stands make just as exquisite a resting place for dark chocolate velvet cakes as they do brie cheeses…and a salad plate makes a charming display for a bottle of wine or a candle,” she adds.

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Surprise a coworker with a sectional dish for olives or foil-wrapped chocolates, perhaps, like the one below from the Ruffle Series.

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A fabulous wedding gift is Annie’s stunning deviled egg platter. The perfect housewarming gift, a piece of Annieglass is a gift one would consider a ‘lifetime gift’ because Annieglass pieces are heirloom-quality creations that will stand the test of time via both form and function.

You need not save this art glass for special occasion only; Annieglass elevates even take-out to an art form. As I mentioned, the glass is incredibly strong, chip-resistant and dishwasher-safe. Annie tells me an interesting story. After Hurricane Katrina, she got reports from customers that their Annieglass survived the disaster. More than one person had their china cabinet washed away in the floodwaters and it was found down the street or a block away with all the Annieglass still intact, unbroken. “They just needed to be hosed off,” Annie said.

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Pieces from the Dew Drops Collection, above and below, are seductively punctuated with Swarovski crystals. Mere photos can’t even capture the detail…

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…and I love the hand-chipped pedestal on the new cone-shaped Edgey bowl, below, which merges seamlessly with Annieglass classics.

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You can see how Annieglass is created and discover the craftsmanship that goes into every piece at their lively and informative walking tours of the Watsonville factory. Call for reservations 831.761.2041 ext. 21.

In addition, wine tastings are Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., pouring Santa Cruz and Monterey County wines.

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Above, the sunny Watsonville gift shop that’s adjacent to the warehouse is brimming with countless exquisite creations–the autobiography of a genius in glass, Annie Morhauser.

Click here to find an Annieglass retailer near you.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sporting Goods for Dad on Father’s Day

Whatever his sport of choice, there is a plethora of Father’s Day gifts for the discerning man. Here is a list of creative gifts that are sure to score!

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Solumbra. Boasting 100% UV protection and with a rapid-dry weave, the lightweight clothing by Solumbra is perfect for golfing, camping, running, surfing–even yard work! These garments are game-changers in the realm of sun protection! Buy one nice piece for Dad and he can put away the greasy sunscreen!

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Rodan + Fields peptide eye wipes. Nothing could be more refreshing after a long day or a sweaty workout. Packed with peptides, these eye cloths are perfect for the traveling man and fit neatly in a gym bag or suitcase. Or, keep them in the refrigerator for an extra cooling sensation. Ideal for women as well. They remove eye makeup in a snap while treating the eye area with a powerhouse of anti-aging peptides!

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The Klean Kanteen. Water tastes better when housed in this 100% stainless steel canteen, but more importantly, this water bottle does not have BPA, a chemical found in plastics that leeches into water and may cause cancer! BPA has already been banned in Europe, and here in America for baby bottles as well. This is a great and affordable gift for Dad.

Tickets. Lastly, consider buying him a couple of tickets to his favorite sporting event. If you can afford it, throw in a pair of binoculars from the sporting goods store. He’ll love you for it!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Electronic Gifts for Your Dad This Father’s Day

Every man loves electronic devices; they can keep him engaged for hours and improve the quality of life for the whole family. Here’s the cream of the crop in electronic gifts for Dad this Father’s Day.

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A Tivo DVR recorder, above, will change the way he watches TV. In fact, it’s a great gift for the whole family. Watch what you want when you want to watch it. Skip commercials, pause live TV, do your own instant replays–perfect for sporting games! You can even watch your shows on your iPad or iPhone! Every home needs a Tivo. Father’s Day is the perfect opportunity to splurge!

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Fujitsu Scan Snap, above, is a document scanner for the paperless office. Scan double-sided full color (or black and white) with OCR (optical character recognition) on the fly all with a single button!

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An iPad mini. What needs to be said? Ten hours battery, weighs just a little over half a pound, you can carry this everywhere. Perfection.

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The Jawbone Jambox is a portable wireless speaker that connects to your iPhone or iPad (or any Bluetooth device) and sounds so much better than your phone’s built-in speakers, perfect for music of course, but it can also be used to improve conference calls since the Jambox has a built in microphone too!

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Grado Labs Headphones, above, deliver great sound at a reasonable price. A retro look and timeless sound quality make everything from music to home theater sound fantastic.

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A Logitech Harmony Remote will replace half a dozen remote controls. Works with your old VCR and the latest Blu-Ray. Retire all those devices cluttering up your coffee table. You can set it up so a single button will turn on and off multiple devices, and you can use your computer (Mac or PC) to configure it. Every gadget-lover’s dream!