Saturday, December 18, 2021

Holiday Gift Guide 2021: LoveLit Candles Is Young Hailei Beckwith’s Labor of Love (Sans Beeswax)

Hailei Beckwith, owner of LoveLit Candles, receives a Young Entrepreneurs Day proclamation from Monroe, LA Mayor Friday Ellis. Photos courtesy of LoveLitCandles.

HEADS UP: Dear Reader, we’re back with a Holiday Gift Guide after a two-year hiatus! Until 24 Dec., the elves at The Wright Wreport will introduce at least one or a series of products, items, services and/or brands that we believe are worthy of consideration as holiday gift(s).

BY VW

HAILEI Beckwith
has it going on!

Not only is she a good student, nice person, attractive girl and a pageant winner (Miss Monroe's Outstanding Teen 2022), the 17-year-old is an entrepreneur. And she’s been in the game for four years as the founder of LoveLit Candles. Since she was 13, in case you didn’t do the math.

Who’s to say? One day Hailei might be mentioned in the same breath as Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Frank DeLuca (Subway) and Mike Kittredge (what became Yankee Candle).

The LoveLit Candles Holiday Collection: Christmas Cabin, Mistletoe + Cranberries, Spiced Pomander and Winter Romance.

Today, she has peers like Maya Penn (Maya’s Ideas: sustainable fashion), Caroline Bercaw and Isabel Bercaw (Da Bomb: bath bombs) and Femi Adebogun (ScholarMe: platform for applying for college aid). All founded their enterprises in their teens; some are still teens.

There are no hard-and-fast statistics on the number of children in the United States who own businesses, but anecdotally the number is in the millions.

The LoveLit Candles room/linen sprays (Graceful Host, for instance) neutralize odors and refresh the air in various spaces.

It’s as though Hailei took the advice of former President Barack Obama: “We are the change that we seek.” Or many a grandmother: “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

Undoubtedly, these are some of the self-starter/solution-oriented attitudes – plus, a bee allergy – that led the adolescent to start her Monroe, LA-based candle company.

“Most candles use beeswax and I wanted to enjoy candles and also allow that opportunity for other people that are allergic to beeswax to enjoy candles,” she explained during a recent interview after receiving a Young Entrepreneurs Day proclamation from Monroe, LA Mayor Friday Ellis (play video for the entire interview).

Don’t want an open flame? LoveLit Candles has you covered with Wax Melts (Brandied Pear, anyone?).

Beeswax-less Lovelit Candles come in a variety of scents: Mahogany Teakwood, Kakadu Plum + Amber, Southern Belle, Jamaican Me Crazy, Monkey Farts, Baja Cactus Blossom, etc. The Christmas Cabin candle – currently, the candle BFF of Yours Truly – is simply sublime. The evergreen, mess and pine notes combine to create an intoxicating aroma of the forest. Nothing cloying and clingy, here!

Add wax or aromatic oil of choice and plug in with a LoveLit Candles Pluggable Fragrance Warmer.

Each candle comes with care instructions. Who knew that the wick should be cut by one-quarter inch after the first use?! Or that one should burn candles for up to about three hours at a time? Such best practices extend the life of the candle and improve the burning experience. A nice little differentiator, no?

Surprise, surprise, the company peddles more than candles. For those concerned about open flames, there are Wax Melts in hot scents like Cool Citrus Basil. Amongst the stock, too, are Room/Linen Sprays, Pluggable Fragrance Warmers, Diffusers and Car Air Fresheners (new).

The LoveLit Candles DIY Candle Making Kit comes with supplies for two candles (jars, lids wax, wicks, wick stickers, wick bars, fragrance oil, warning labels and instructions).

Incidentally, all LoveLit Candles scented products are made from organic and eco-friendly ingredients. To that end, there may be extra-special enthusiasm for the DIY Candle Making Kit.

Peach Magnolia over here!

Visit https://www.lovelitcandles.com/ to learn more about LoveLit Candles.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Holiday Gift Guide 2021: High Hopes for Potentially Game-Changing (and Award-Winning) Kikkerland Design Turtle Tofu Press

According to Kikkerland Design, its award-winning turtle tofu press can drain tofu within 20 minutes. Photos and video courtesy of Kikkerland Design.

HEADS UP: Dear Reader, we’re back with a Holiday Gift Guide after a two-year hiatus! Until 24 Dec., the elves at The Wright Wreport will introduce at least one or a series of products, items, services and/or brands that we believe are worthy of consideration as holiday gift(s).

BY TAMARA BECK

FOR
years now, I have been trying to figure out how to drain tofu. Piling plates over the logs I have laid out in a sifter was an improvisation that yielded less than success.

Such fits and starts would result in my leaving the tofu in the store’s refrigerated section. Some of you might consider that a gift in and of itself. After all, the stuff has very little flavor. But, oh gosh, tofu has a tremendous amount of protein, calcium and iron. And few calories! It is decidedly good for you.

But I digress. There is a possible solution to this drainage problem: Enter the Kikkerland Design Turtle Tofu Press, a design challenge winner. Alas, there is a problem with this possible solution: The tofu press is sold out. Another supply chain issue?

And more questions. How well does the turtle press drain tofu? Is it fast, or more like a snail (or turtle)? Will it make my Tofu Life easier?

Is it really as user-friendly and effective as Kikkerland says:
1. Insert tofu in the strainer
2. Place lid over it
3. Wrap silicone band around the press
4. Excess water is drained from tofu within 20 minutes


Meanwhile, the merits of tofu are many. When prepared in a quick-and-easy stirfry or scramble, it absorbs the yummy around it to make a delicious lunch or breakfast. Tofu complements bell peppers, especially the juicy red ones. And mushrooms, garlic and black pepper. Soy sauce and edamame are a nice addition, too. Well, this is making me hungry.

The Kikkerland Design Turtle Tofu Press is made from bamboo, which fights off bacteria.

Further considering this Kikkerland turtle tofu press, it is cute as a button and exotically fashioned of bamboo. This wood is a natural for use with food because of its antibacterial property. Its place in your kitchen depends so much on the answers to those burning questions. But if it were me reading the tea leaves, I’d say it's a keeper.

Let’s revisit this pressing matter in 2022.

Visit https://kikkerland.com/products/turtle-tofu-press to learn more about the Kikkerland Turtle Tofu Press.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Holiday Gift Guide 2021: What Is One Thing Oprah and David Spade Have in Common? All-Occasion, 'Gift Wrap My Face' Gift Wrap Paper (and More)

The "Gift Wrap My Face" Elfie Dance Smart Gift Wrap is designed with trademarked augmented reality that is activated by a QR code. See video below. Images and videos courtesy of "Gift Wrap My Face."

HEADS UP: Dear Reader, we’re back with a Holiday Gift Guide after a two-year hiatus! Until 24 Dec., the elves at The Wright Wreport will introduce at least one or a series of products, items, services and/or brands that we believe are worthy of consideration as holiday gift(s).

BY VW

YOU
see it on the Wall Art, Banner, Gift wrap paper and so on. It is you or possibly someone you know.

Essentially, some likeness is superimposed onto items with themes associated with holidays, celebrations and events. One company – “Gift Wrap My Face” – makes the magic happen. As co-owner Aryel Rivero put it during a recent virtual press conference, “We make all kinds of things with faces on them.”

When the Florida-based company was founded in 2014, it mainly produced themed gift wrap paper. Now, “Gift Wrap My Face” plasters faces on items like Christmas stockings, Posters, Socks and Stickers.

The “Gift Wrap My Face” Little Miss Elfie Selfie Wine Socks – like all of the wine socks – can replace wine-type gift bags. After the bottles are removed from them, they will be ready to wear.

It’s all “kitschy but well-designed,” Rivero pointed out with a smirk.

It’s easy-peasy, too. On the website:
1. Select themed paper (Advent Calendar, Christmas Sweater, Evergreen Christmas, Menorah Head, Selfie Ornaments)
2. Upload a high-res photo
3. Select product and theme (Banner and Birthday)
4. “Gift Wrap My Face” team does its thing and you have your customized order in as few as three to four business days.


The items are tied to themes and occasions that include Anniversaries, Birthdays, Christmas, Everyday, Graduation, Hanukkah, Motivational messages, Pets, Superheroes, Thanksgiving, Weddings, etc. (All products are made in the United States.)

Of course, selfie gift wrap paper and the like aren’t new. After all, we live in a selfie culture.

The personalized “Gift Wrap My Face” banners are 60 inches wide by 24 inches high.

Part of what sets “Gift Wrap My Face” apart, however, is that it is truly custom. It does all of the work for you, saving you the botheration of going to a Zazzle, for instance, and doing much of the custom production – which can be rather tedious and user-unfriendly – yourself.

Further, “Gift Wrap My Face” uses trademarked Augmented Intelligence that can produce floating faces like the one on the paper that Rivero used to wrap a gift that he sent to co-owner and wife, Vanessa Clavijo, who at the time was his girlfriend.

Another “Gift Wrap My Face” product is Video Paper. It has a personalized and private QR code that allows gift givers to share a video message with recipients.

Quality-wise, the paper “Gift Wrap My Face” uses is different from the gift wrap paper one buys in a store in that it is matte and of a heavier stock, preventing ink from bleeding and smudging.

The company also eschews coated paper and paper made with “harmful shiny chemicals.” Socks are a polyester-spandex blend with a reinforced heel and Christmas stockings are made from 100% polyester.

The “Gift Wrap My Face” Money Maker and Aqua socks (inset) are a crew design made from a polyester-spandex blend. All styles come in adult and child sizes.

Not surprisingly, this outfit is on the radar of the celebrity set: Khloe Kardashian and David Spade. Its biggest endorsement to date has come from none other than king and queenmaker, Oprah.

Visit https://www.giftwrapmyface.com/ to learn more about “Gift Wrap My Face.”

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Holiday Gift Guide 2021: When You, You, You and You Are Ready to Venture Back Out, Broadway (on and off) Lights Are Ablaze

Nkeki Obi-Melekwe as Tina Turner in “Tina - The Tina Turner Musical.” Photo byManuel Harlan.

HEADS UP: Dear Reader, we’re back with a Holiday Gift Guide after a two-year hiatus! Until 24 Dec., the elves at The Wright Wreport will introduce at least one or a series of products, items, services and/or brands that we believe are worthy of consideration as holiday gift(s).

BY TAMARA BECK

FINALLY! This year– and after all we've been through – we can return to the theater!

That in and of itself is a gift. But don't jump your personal gun. Do only what you are comfortable doing. When you're ready, the stage shows will be waiting for you to take your place among the vaccinated and enjoy a live performance.

FINALLY! This reporter could not help repeating herself.

So ... what would make a special holiday treat? Well, you can't go wrong with "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical."

Broadway serves up the icon's story of endurance, overcoming adversity and talent in a hard rocking entertainment. Adrienne Warren, who was nominated for a Tony last year and won it at this year's awards, has relinquished the role.

Stepping in to this work created by Katori Hall is Nkeki Obi-Melekwe under the direction of Phyllida Lloyd.

Other Broadway productions held over from the before-times include the fascinating and much lauded Hadestown. It's a Tony- and Grammy-winning hit that welcomes us back to Anaïs Mitchell's whimsical world. The playwright spins her yarn by modernizing not just one, but two Greek myths. Her imaginative retelling was developed with Rachel Chavkin who also directs this production.

History is still being taught in Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Hamilton," a clever rap and sung-through musical that earned all those big Tonys in 2016. (One of my commendations from back in that day: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2015/08/lin-manuel-miranda-ascends-new-heights.html?m=1.)

Tickets to this strikingly smart and funny musical were always hard to get and still are. It's worth all the work you're going to put into it, though

Adrienne Walker as Nala and ensemble in “The Lion King.” Photo by Deen van Meer. Meanwhile, a Disney-fied Broadway has proved to be a good thing. The shows the organization stages are heartwarming and filled with wholesome, old-fashioned values. "The Lion King," celebrating 24 years on the Great White Way, is positively exciting.

Likewise, "Alladin" is a genuinely pleasing experience for the entire family. Hits from the film version include Alan Menken's Academy Award-winning "A Whole New World," as well as a score full of toe tappers. It features a genius genie styled after jazz legends Cab Calloway and Fats Waller, played by Michael James Scott, a vereran of New York musical theater.

In fact, its cast and creatives are from top to bottom seasoned theater stars (interestingly, a couple are making a Broadway debut) with director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw at the helm. Michael Maliakel makes his Broadway bow as Alladin with plenty of priors in regional theater and a little work on TV. Ditto for Alladin's love interest, Jasmine, portrayed by Shoba Narayan. Her resume belies her youth and witnesses her talent.
Speaking of Broadway veterans and talent, the veteran Meredith Wilson musical is in revival starting 22 Dec. "The Music Man" stars Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, so there's 76 Trombones worth of excitement right there! The supporting cast features four Tony-winners: Jayne Houdyshell, Jefferson Mays, Marie Mullen and Shuler Hensley.. Buyers beware: I am told that ticket surcharges are out of control. A stop at the box office might be in order. But take heart that "Disney pays your ticketmaster fees."

Happy holidays and happy times on and off-Broadway!

Visit the following websites to learn more about the productions:
"Tina - The Tina Turner Musical"
https://tinaonbroadway.com/

"Hadestown"
https://www.hadestown.com/

"Hamilton"
https://hamiltonmusical.com/new-york/home/

"The Lion King"
https://lionking.com/

"Aladdin"
https://aladdinthemusical.com/

"The Music Man"
https://musicmanonbroadway.com/

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Holiday Gift Guide 2021: Some Serious Reading to Do as You Begin to Transform Your Diet From Bad to Good (and Help the Planet in the Process)

The 50th anniversary of edition of “Diet for a Small Planet” contains scores of updated plant-centered recipes.

HEADS UP: Dear Reader, we’re back with a Holiday Gift Guide after a two-year hiatus! Until 24 Dec., the elves at The Wright Wreport will introduce at least one or a series of products, items, services and/or brands that we believe are worthy of consideration as holiday gift(s).

BY VW

THIS
time you are serious; committed. You want to eat far better than you do now. REAL talk. You are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

If you're really on the real, real, first do some serious reading about what this might look like. Share these reads with the foodies in your network. By the way, loosen your belts, because you are going to be taken to the heart of the matters.

These titles break down – no mincing words here – how we became a nation and increasingly a world that is fat and sick because of the food we eat. The major culprits are various forms of colonialism, human rights abuses and capitalism on steroids (like much of the meat we consume). All are debilitating us and the planet.

The bottomline message in all of these books is that if we are going to heal, trim our bottoms and save the planet, we must take the necessary steps – on a personal and policy level – to become and remain bullish on fruits, vegetable and grains and far less reliant on animals for food. Further, to stop business practices that harm organisms and the planet.

In short as it regards food, a "Pword"-based diet (don't fret, recipes are provided) and I don't mean pudding or primerib.

Without further adieu …

DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET

Author(s): Frances Moore Lappé
Synopsis: In the 50th anniversary edition of this classic tome, food expert Frances Moore Lappe doubles down on the benefits of a plant-centered diet.
In chapters like “One Less Hamburger” and “Who Asked for Fruit Loops?,” she reminds the average Jane and Joe that they have the power to make change through what foods they choose to purchase. These choices, she asserts, can not only improve their personal health, but that of the environment and climate, plus promote democracy. The anniversary edition features 85 updated recipes with contributions from celebrity chefs, including José Andrés, Mark Bittman, Padma Lakshmi and Alice Waters.
Publisher: Ballantine Books
LINK to title: https://www.dietforasmallplanet.org/

INFLAMED: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice

Author(s): Rupa Marya and Raj Patel
Synopsis: According to the authors, our planet, societies and bodies are inflamed, hence the main title. They explain, for instance, why you who live in the “global south” may have a perfectly goodlooking apple that may not be good for you while that one of your neighbor in the “global north” is probably good for her/him. It boils down to some type of inflammation.
This inflammation, they posit, is caused by all manner of global injustices, from pogroms to prejudice to pollution to poor health care. To connect dots, the book is divided into sections that use the language of the body, e.g., “Digestive System.”

“Salmon are to rivers what the heart is to blood vessels,” says co-author Rupa Marya, in the writers’ notes in reference to the section, “Circulatory System: Salmon Are the Pump.” Marya is also the co-founder of the Do No Harm Coalition. The authors cleverly and persuasively make the argument that societal ills from poor health to pollution to persistent forest fires and beyond are inexorably linked and perpetuated by the same forces.
Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux
LINK to title: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374602529/inflamed

VEGETABLE KINGDOM: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes

Author(s): Bryant Terry
Synopsis: “Big Beans, Buns, and Broccoli Rabe” (page 95). Once you try this baby, you may not go back to meat, which would be just fine with James Beard award-winning chef Bryant Terry (“Afro-Vegan”).
In all of his books, Chef asserts that the vegetable kingdom provides enough bounty to more than meet our nutritional needs. In “Vegetable Kingdom,” he does not pander to carnivores by including recipes made with meat substitutes. Here, it’s straight, no chaser. Recipes are separated by plant types – bulbs, fruits, roots – making the cookbook uber user-friendly.

One chapter is dedicated to tools, ranging from the familiar like the knife and food processor to the uncustomary “mortar and nestle” (Terry uses them to “pound spices, crumble nuts, and make pastes.”). Of course, there is a “soundtrack” (a Terry staple) as varied as the recipes: Stevie Wonder, OutKast, Mongo Santamaria
The father of two believes that food should be kid-friendly as are the recipes in “Vegetable Kingdom,” most of which were tasted and greenlit by his daughters, Zenzi and Mila, his inspiration for the book. He writes in the introduction: “I wrote this book to make a diversity of foods of the plant kingdom irresistible to them, to inspire their curiosity, and to show them the pleasure of a lifelong adventure with good, nourishing food.”

To wit, “Pan-seared Summer Squash Sandwiches” (p. 121), “Jerk Tofu Wrapped in Collard Leaves” (p. 143), “Barbecue Sunchoke Chips” (P. 186).
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
LINK to title: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/564101/vegetable-kingdom-by-bryant-terry/

More titles to come shortly.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Musing on Major Merit of Miniature Smart ForTwo (the Vehicle Formerly Known as SmartCar)

The Smart ForTwo license plate says it all. FULL STOP. Photo by Tamara Beck.

BY TAMARA BECK

IT’S
a small reminder from our little Upper East Side neighborhood that halfway around the world the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference recently shuttered.

Literally small. Compact automobiles like Daimler AG’s Smart ForTwo are an asset in the city.

I know we can attribute their role as energy-savers to their diminutive size. But their maneuverability is an asset most rare.

The Smart ForTwo is the envy of the road on the parking-challenged streets of Manhattan. Photo by Tamara Beck.

One of them sports the aptly-named license plate, PARKABLE, which advertises what is to New Yorkers its most valuable attribute.

Space is what we crave. And parking spaces are much prized. We envy those who can squeeze in between the hydrant and bus stop.

Let’s face it, both PARKABLE and the other fellow can slip into spaces your SUV can only admire (and understandably envy) from its spot in the garage.

Visit https://sidewalksuperblog.wordpress.com/ to read more observations from The Wright Wreport Theater and Dance Editor Tamara Beck.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Hello Again: Relying on the Power of Cannabis and Other Relaxants to Give Menopause a Chill Pill

"Hello Again sleep" and "Hello Again everyday" are cannabis-based vaginal suppositories that alleviate many of the side effects of menopause. Photo by Jennifer Skog.

BY TAMARA BECK

FOR
too long, menopause has been a punchline and the menopausal the brunt of the joke.

To the more than half of the population subject to its unseasonal cruelties, throwing open an overcoat or demanding that a window be opened is not funny.

Longtime friends, Carrie Mapes and Patty Pappas, certainly didn't think so. Instead of joining the laughs, in 2019 they developed two cannabis-based vaginal suppositories with the wellness of women suffering from menopausal side effects in mind.

"Hello Again everyday" can be used (inserted) daily for a sharper mind, regulation of hot flashes and hydration down there instead of dryness. Meanwhile, "Hello Again sleep" offers the relief of "everyday," plus supports uninterrupted sleep and reduces night sweats.

As the founders' story goes, "Their grandmothers tolerated, their mother's medicated and they created."

October marks World Menopause Awareness Month, amplifying that we no longer laugh at the sufferer.

Cheers to Carrie Mapes and Patty Pappas, the founders of the Hello Again products. Image courtesy of Hello Again.

For many, menopause is an exercise in aging. It can occur in women as young as 40 (Hello Again targets women 21 and older). Along with the sudden loss of a reliable thermostat, a woman of a certain age also begins to feel left out sexually.

Hello Again suppositories combat some of these more annoying side effects using a bevy of natural ingredients. They contain oils and extracts like Hops, Rose geranium, Chamomile, Neroli oil and Valerian root.

And there is also the addition of the cannibals compounds, THC and CBD. In combination, they promise a daily path to "Clear mind. Good moods. Less sweat."

Relying on Hello Again, this reporter wore a sweater during the day all day. Overnight, I slept peacefully. No sweat.

A clear mind in the woman's version of a midlife crisis might curtail impulse-buying. In crisis mode, for instance, she is less likely than her husband to buy a red Porsche to ease the pain.

And real – not just real psychic – pain can certainly be one of the traits of "the change." Along with the world famous hot flashes, moodiness and depression are definitely involved. Sleep deprivation may add to the anxieties menopause brings. Vaginal dryness may render sex more painful than pleasurable.

When these changes happen, it is wise to look toward meditation or deep breathing, yoga or other exercises that reduce stress. Women facing this natural decline in reproductive hormones are well advised to take care of themselves.

"Hello Again sleep" and "Hello Again everyday" are cannibas-based suppositories that are inserted into and that dissolve inside the vagina. One is for use at night and the other is for daily use. Image courtesy of Hello Again.

Hello Again offers a lifeline. The company's motto is just the self-care advice you need while in the throes of menopause: "FEEL LIKE YOURSELF AGAIN."

Visit https://helloagainproducts.com to learn more about "Hello Again everyday" and Hello Again sleep."
 
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