Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.
The “research” I do for this column every other week is the ideal kind of shopping: Nothing has to fit, I don’t have to care about the price tags, and at Christmas, I don’t even have to limit my choices to things people on my list would actually like.
This week I’ll share the results of a gift-scouting trip through the Heights, Hillcrest and Riverdale. (Next time around I’ll hit the west side — saving gas and all.)
• First stop: Soho Modern. An Artbox Lamp is a fantastic choice for someone whose tastes are a little more eclectic or free-wheeling or whimsical. The lamps are 8 inches by 8 inches, with a print of some sort on the front that the light shines through when the lamp is turned on. The designs range from retro-look comic book panels to abstract art to geometric prints to drawn portraits. The full-size lamps are $39, and a night-light version goes for $19.
• At the Full Moon, I barely managed not to drool on the very fun but not particularly restful-looking Tepper Jackson pajama sets ($113), made from cotton in bright, extremely colorful 1960s-mod prints. If that’s a little above your budget but you like the prints, the same company makes boxer shorts, wallets, card cases, toiletry organizers and other smaller items.
• If you’re thinking of stuffing a stocking with a box of chocolates, forget the Russell Stover and back away from the Godiva. There’s a guy at River City Coffee and Tea who makes his own truffles, following his whims when it comes to the fillings, and they are simply unbelievable. I lucked into an informal sampling session a few weeks ago and my knees actually got weak when I tried one with bourbon-flavored innards. And don’t be afraid of the ones that sound weird: I tried a rosemary-and-black-peppercorn truffle that was absolutely fantastic. They’re $35 a pound, which breaks down to a little less than $2 a piece, and they are so very, very worth it.
• Just around the corner, Retail Therapy carries hand-made arts and crafts. My favorites are these intricately constructed wood pieces that use different species of woods to create colorful designs. There are large and small clipboards ($28-$36), coaster sets ($30), cutting boards (prices vary with size) and desk accessories. They’re beautiful, and definitely manly enough for a guy.
• Now about those cat’s-eye cuff links. They’re two small marbles connected by a short cord, nothing too flashy. They’re at Mr. Wicks in the Heights, a very affordable $22.50, and they’ll add a quiet touch of whimsy to the sharp-dressed man’s outfit.
• Next door at Wordsworth, a few interesting titles: “The Arkansas Nature Lover’s Guidebook,” by Tim Ernst, which provides directions to 101 scenic spots around the state ($20); “The Best American Sports Writing 2006,” and for the kids, a new pop-up book from Maurice Sendak called “Mommy?” — a little creepy, spooky and funny, despite the name.
Ideas? Send ’em along.