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10 Great Things You're Not Likely to Get (Kisses if You Give Them)

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I have no idea what "things" people are giving one another --- I'm mostly a books/movies/music guy.

But I do stumble into useful, attractive, affordable -- even stylish -- things along the way. And when I give them, I only get gratitude. And relief -- because you won't see these items coming and going.

Leather "Book" Cover For The iPad: This season, it looks as if "everyone" who doesn't already have an iPad will be getting one. It's not fragile, but it does need some protection. And there is your chance to make yours... special. The BookBook is a zippered and padded leather case made specifically to give stylish protection to iPads. Handmade, so each is, as they say, "very unique." Rigid, as a cover for a hardcover "book" should be. Useful in a second way, as an iPad stand. And, as a third, as a decoy to foil would-be thieves -- I mean, who's gonna steal a leather-bound book? The BookBook comes in black or red, and that is the hardest decision you'll confront about this cool gift.

Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Sunscreen: What's so great about Anthelios with Mexoryl? Dr. Vincent DeLeo, Chairman, Department of Dermatology, Founding Director, Skin of Color Center, St. Luke's-Roosevelt and Beth Israel: "It produces a product which gives us almost perfect protection against sunshine." Dr. Darrell Rigel, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University: Mexoryl "is the No. 1 individual ingredient in terms of protection from Ultraviolet A radiation." Get the idea: It's just a lot better than American products.

Bucky Balls: Imagine BBs with such enormous magnetism that you have to pull hard to separate them. That's Bucky Balls. For the very nervous, they're expensive rosary beads. For everyone else, they're an invitation to create. Necklaces. Bracelets. Geometric shapes. The first morning, our daughter made a watch. Cool. NOTE: Not for small children.

Clarisonic Pro Care Skin System: Why it is so great? Because it doesn't scrub. It cleanses -- a sonic frequency of more than 300 movements per second works on your skin to clean it, then smooth it. How you use it: Wet the brush head with warm water and cleanser, power it up, and gently move the brush in circular movements across the face. Clarisonic recommends 20 seconds on the forehead, 20 seconds on the nose and mouth and 10 seconds on each cheek. When finished, rinse the brush. You can, with good eyesight, see the proof that something really happened -- down the drain go dead skin cells and dirt. The good news: The Clarisonic handle is waterproof. You can use it in the shower. The unit beeps when it's time to move to another area of the face, so you don't need to watch a clock. It seems to help rosacea and acne. You don't need to buy special products Egyptian Magic: The ingredients are olive oil, bees wax, honey, bee pollen, royal jelly and bee propolis. And, so it says, "divine love." With the exception of the last "ingredient," you could whip it up yourself. But you couldn't improve on the original. We swab it on the kid's wounds at night; in the morning, she's well on the return trip to flawless. Burns, scrapes, skin irritations, diaper rash, sunburns, eczema, psoriasis -- it's the go-to cream. Dry skin? When an exceptional moisturizer is needed, we open the Magic. Some use it on their hair, as a conditioner. As an anti-wrinkle cream, it's a comparative bargain. After surgery, it's said to reduce scarring. If there's a skin problem this stuff can't deal with, I can't find it.

Moleskine Notebooks: There are fads built on nothing. Moleskines are the real thing. The leather-like cover takes more wear than you'll ever give it. The elastic band is useful both to keep the notebook closed and to mark your place. There's an inner pocket to hold business cards, receipts and small photographs. The spine is sewn, not glued, so the cover lies flat when it's opened. The paper is acid-free. What more do you want from a notebook?

Shure SE115-K Sound Isolating Earphones:
You've got an iPod, and it's fantastic -- what's wrong with the earphones Apple gives you? Nothing, if you don't mind the treble sharpened to laser precision and the bass deepened to make you think you're getting the real thing. Nothing, that is, if you don't mind putting crappy sound into your head. I say: You want to plug your head into music and experience more than you ever thought possible. You want to hear the instruments as a unit and as separate elements. You want the singer performing just for you. And that means you want Shure phones, the choice of professionals, The Wall Street Journal and yours truly. The Shure E3c headphones were a bargain at $160. Sadly, after five years, they died. Now I am beyond thrilled to enjoy the same quality with the SE115-K Sound Isolating Earphones -- at $67.75.

T3 Bespoke Ionic Ceramic Tourmaline Hair Dryer: A high-powered woman in media; you've seen her hair --- wrote me to say my wife would adore me forever if I gave her this dryer. I may be a man, but I can listen; I ordered one right away. And it came to pass that my wife is now insanely happy at 6:30 AM. Sometimes, before she heads out to work, she flips her hair as if she's in a commercial. For your benefit, I asked my wife what's great about this dryer. "It feels gentle, and yet it dries my hair faster," she replied. "I was told I would never have another bad hair day, and I haven't. I don't understand how it works, but it is easier to get my hair to do what I want it to do. The only conclusion is magic."Actually, it's not magic. It's "100% crushed Tourmaline jewels."

Wintergreen Northern Wear: A few months ago, I found a coat for my wife that looked as if it had been designed by Jil Sander. But it wasn't just stylish -- it was shockingly functional. That is: warm. This isn't surprising. Wintergreen Northern Wear is the Gold Standard for cold-weather coats. How cold? Well, in January, the average high temperature in Ely, Minnesota -- headquarters for Wintergreen Northern Wear -- is 5 degrees. If keeping warm in cold weather matters to you, consider the North Shore Jacket for women. It looks like velour, but it's made of Expedition weight 12.2 oz. Classic Polartec® 300 and has a plush fleece lining. There's a full zipper and two generous hand-warmer pockets. It comes in five colors with contrasting cuffs and mock-turtle collar. Yes, there's a Wintergreen icon on the coat, but it's astonishingly small and tasteful. The price: $155.

Gustiamo Artisanal Italian Foods: At Gustiamo, I began to explore the most authentic Italian food I have ever seen. Cherry tomatoes from volcanic soil. Whole plum tomatoes that sounded luscious beyond any I've ever tasted. Pasta made from ancient mills. Olive oils and vinegars so fine they seemed too good to use. Why would you spend $16.00 for bottled tomatoes? Because with food prices rising, it's shrewd to make simpler meals with fewer ingredients. And the better the ingredients, the less you need to do to make a great meal.

[Cross-posted from HeadButler]