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Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

A Few of My Favorite Things…

Filed under: Editorial, Fun, Personal

Hi Everyone —

As we’re in the midst of the holiday season and the year’s almost finished, I’m going to take a page out of Oprah’s book and devote some time to a sampling of the coolest items that wowed me this year and made me swoon — both from in and outside the industry. Unfortunately, unlike Oprah, I won’t be giving away any cars, houses or bras.

So here, without further ado, are my favorite things (note that “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” didn’t make the cut… ; ) ).

More next week and cheers!

— M

PS: If there were any wow-worthy products that you found this year, post them below — I’d love to see them!

If I was giving out an award for “Most Creative Ad Specialty of 2008,” this would be a lock because it ROCKS. On one side of the plastic card there are perforated guitar picks that can be imprinted with any custom design or logo; the back has room for your name, phone number and e-mail address. How’s that for the coolest businesscard EVER?
Available from Pikcard; (800) 596-7074 (ext. 303); www.pikcard.com

I love that this photo keychain wallet is small enough to be unobtrusive but dainty enough to be cute. As I don’t have children (something that causes scores of people to cheer) I could put a photo of each of my kittens — Monkey and Mouse — in these heart-shaped photo slots. Well, if not for the fact that my editorial colleague Joe Haley, the star of The Joe Show, staunchly maintains that I’m only six months away from being a full-blown Crazy Cat Lady, “dressing them up in doll clothes and having weirdo little tea parties.”
Available from Express Pens (asi/53411); www.expresspens.com

I can talk the ears off corn, but for some people, making conversation — especially at a networking event where you don’t know anyone — is the equivalent of gargling with shards of glass. These cards, though, make it easy. They ask personal questions (“What movie made you laugh until you cried?” My answer: The Birdcage), business questions (“What would you like to add to your job description?” My answer: Maintain a consistent napping schedule), and even custom questions that can be created for your company, which are sure to get people talking.
Available from Custom Topics (404) 815-0272; www.customtopics.net

The excessive bling surrounding this travel mug just screams “diva,” which is exactly what this diva does when she doesn’t get her way. I love that you could be drinking your favorite beverage and simultaneously check to make sure that your lipstick isn’t smeared like a demonic, crazy clown.
Available from Berney-Karp Inc. (asi/40261); www.ceramic-source.com

From Selco’s “Hard Core” line of edgy, street-inspired timepieces, the “Flaming Ice” is just so rock star cool. Using three-dimensional casting, authentic mother-of-pearl, Swarovski crystals, diamonds and white steel, this wearable work of art is signed and serialized by the artist, Steve Soffa.
Available from Selco (asi/86230); www.selcotime.com

From the company I’ve adored — for a multitude of reasons — since I first started in the industry, this combination iPod docking/charging station, mini-stereo, AM/FM radio and alarm clock works with all iPods (including iPhones) and some MP3 players. The alarm clock features snooze/sleep functions (which those who embrace sloth as I do just love…), three alarm settings and a detachable remote control that operates the snooze function and iPod/MP3 player.
Available from Leed’s (asi/66887); www.leedsworld.com

I have a lot of fun toys in my office, which attracts co-workers to come in and play — they compare it to “Wonkaville” or Fantasy Land. This unique note holder just adds to the mix.
Available from PromoBiz (asi/79903); www.promobizusa.com

Oh, let me count the ways I love Lexon, a Paris-based industry supplier. Quite simply, its products are so beautifully designed they make me want to weep. I learned about Lexon years ago, when I traveled to Paris in 2000 with some Norwood friends to see the debut of Lexon’s new line and to be there when its iconic “Tykho” rubber radio (shown here) — which had just scored the cover of Time magazine’s “Design” issue — was inducted into the Louvre as one of the “Best Designed Products of the 20th Century.” Since then, when I see Lexon’s items at the PSI shows in Dusseldorf or Paris, I make a beeline to the booth, find the company’s impossibly-charming owner, Rene Adda, and worship at the altar of his breathtakingly-designed offerings. As I consider every one of their items to be an objet d’art, just check out their swanky Web site, www.lexon-design.com, and prepare to be wowed.
I am a huge fan of Swarovski’s jewelry line and consequently love any product that uses its crystals as embellishments. Here are two: a delicate jeweled box covered in crystals and a singular sparkler discreetly placed in one of the most stylish pens I’ve ever coveted.
Available from Logomark (asi/67866); www.logomark.com

This just brings me back to the days of frivolous fun, when all it took was Sea Monkeys, pet rocks and invisible dogs to make me giggle with delight. Will this Magic 8 ball, which can be fully custom imprinted on its surface, amuse the frak out of anyone who receives it? “The outlook is good… .”
Available from Prime Line (asi/79530); www.primeline.com

As the joke goes here in the editorial department, my partying has taken such a toll on my looks (so says my mother, Judge Judye) that I have to spackle on my make-up with a putty knife. This fashion-forward cosmetics and toiletries bag is large enough for all my smoke-and-mirrors tricks of the trade. Just avoid looking at me in direct sunlight…
Available from Gemline (asi/56070); www.gemline.com

If you know me, you know that I’d rather have my spleen removed with a soup spoon than deal with math on any level. This Hydraulic calculator has such a whimsical bubbly shape that it numbs the pain of interacting with numbers for me. It features a calendar, month, time, time zone display, world time for 16 cities and two alarms, a robotic “open” slide and comes in metallic blue (my favorite) and silver.
Available from Dard Products Inc. (asi/48500); www.tagmaster.net

One of the (many) banes of my existence is how my jewelry — especially my necklaces — gets tangled together. This sleek and sexy jewelry stand is the perfect, unique remedy.
Available from Steel Threads (asi/89475); www.steelthreads.com

This handy pill carousel is the perfect item for those near and dear to me here at ASI who have to deal with my antics, listen to the nonsense that flies out of my mouth on a daily basis, and self-medicate with Advil (or stronger) because of it. This list of long-suffering souls includes, but is not limited to: Every member of the editorial department, but especially Joe Haley, Andy Cohen and Melinda Ligos; in-house tech geek Jeremy Young; senior Web developer Samantha Tucker (the saint who posts these voluminous blog manifestos for me), COO Vince Bucolo; senior vice president Rich Fairfield; and last but certainly not least, president/CEO Tim Andrews. Help ease their pain with this bright white pill case with a translucent blue lid and seven compartments to hold a week’s worth of medications. The wheel rotates at the push of a button and there’s a combination lock to discourage sharing.
Available from Sweda (asi/90305); www.swedausa.com

When I saw this, I thought, “that is just one of the most unique ideas, even if it’s something I wouldn’t use.” Why wouldn’t I? Because I’m more of a soaking-in-a-hot-bubble-bath kind of girl. This item is ideal for local governments, hotels, eco-groups, water companies or anyone touting the conservation of natural resources through limiting one’s shower to five minutes.
Available from All-In-One (asi/34256); www.allinoneline.com

Want to bring the bling? Do it in over-the-top style with this rhinestone-studded dogtag, shown here in a Sex and the City design. My crazy chica pal Julie Ditchik (that’s “Jules” to you and me…) gave this to me at the SAAC Show in Long Beach this past August and I cherish it!
Available from Pinnacle Designs (asi/78140); www.pinnacledesigns.com

And now, some items for the degenerate in us all (or at least the people to whom I gravitate). When the economy goes bad, sin is in, my little heathens — though in Michele World, it always has a place of honor. Here then, are some gift suggestions for those of us who know the special pleasures of being bad… ; )

In case you didn’t know it, music begins and ends with the Rolling Stones in my book. I stand in awe of Mick’s ability — in his mid-60s — to strut around the stage like a chicken in little leather pants singing lyrics like “I used to be your rooster, now I’m just your c**k” and truly believe that miracles do exist, if for no other reason than the fact that Keith — looking remarkably simian, like he’s de-evolving — abides. Throw my love of The Stones together with my love of wine and you have quite the potent combination for revelry and mayhem. This company’s offering of Rolling Stones wine, available in many different types (Chardonnay, Pinot, etc.), all feature the notorious tongue and lips logo that was first introduced on the band’s classic 1971 album “Sticky Fingers” — the one whose cover had a photo of pants with a real zipper that actually unzipped at the crotch and that was the first album I bought, at the age of 13, much to my mother’s profound horror. The Classic Tongue “brand” perfectly captures the unabashed hedonism of the World’s Greatest Rock ‘N Roll Band.
Available from Celebration Cellars (asi/44366); www.celebrationcellars.com

And speaking of The Stones, one of my favorite songs from the Glimmer Twins is their ode to “Mother’s Little Helpers.” This whimsical “Quaaludes” cookie jar is from the hip and haute housewares designer Jonathan Adler, often featured in Vogue and a judge on Bravo TV’s “Top Design.” His tongue-in-cheek stance is to embrace excess with one of his candid canisters — perfect as gifts for all your wicked friends and favorite psychopharmacologists. Offered in black & white and powder blue & chocolate stripes (the version that currently sits in my office), this comes in other hilarious variations (“Downers,” “Uppers,” “Dolls”) and is ideal for when you’re beyond denial and want to stash in style.
Available from Jonathan Adler: www.jonathanadler.com

As the saying goes, one person’s virtue is another person’s vice. However, thanks to Captain Buzzkill — Pope Gregory I — we’re all saddled with perpetual guilt surrounding the Seven Deadly Sins: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride. Now, while I’m sure I commit each of these on a daily basis, I’d like to take a moment to give a special shout-out to the one I hold near and dear to my heart: Sloth. If I’m riding the Highway to Hell, I’d like it to be because of my prodigious laziness. And though the sins remind me of that supremely creepy Brad Pitt/Morgan Freeman/Kevin Spacey movie Seven (guest-starring Gwyneth Paltrow’s boxed head), I still crave this “Seven Deadly Sins” gift set from D.L. & Co. Lighting the candles would be like paying homage to my Id.
Available from Gift Genius www.giftgenius.com