11/27/15 11:52am

Follow Brooklyn Based’s board Brooklyn Gift Guide 2015 on Pinterest.

As simple as it is to buy a gift from one of the many megastores blasting you with Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers, you’ll actually have a far easier time finding an original present when you shop local. We’ve curated some excellent options for cool Brooklyn gifts that will impress your girlfriend, husband, mom, cousin, co-worker and BFF. Need some more reasons to shop indie this season? Here are 10 good ones:

1. Brooklyn pride runs deep, and these retro knit Ski-doo hats will broadcast neighborhood love all winter long. You can get them for adults or kids at Owl and Thistle, the Crown Heights shop that specializes in Fair Trade and handmade goods for all ages. Their classes make great gifts, too.

2. Make your apartment smell like the holidays now (and all winter long) with Good Candle. With season-appropriate scents like Campfire, Fig, Spruce and Cedar, their hand-poured candles are made in their Brooklyn studio using American-grown soy wax and high quality essential and fragrance oils. Good candle is offering flat-rate shipping through the holidays, so you can send locally-produced good vibes around the country.

3. Your special green thumb may have to wait till spring to get into the garden, but when the weather is ripe for planting, make sure he or she is ready with an entire plot of veggies, herbs or flowers from Seedsheet. You can also get windowbox-sized sheets to get a head start on your bounty.

4. Even if you don’t have someone who is still afraid of the dark on your list, you will want to brighten up your own dark corners with this handmade Robot nightlight from Brooklyn ARTery in Ditmas Park, which specializes in artistic gifts for adults and kids.

5. For a basket of Brooklyn-made food that says you truly know your friend’s tastes, try the Ginger Lover’s Gift Box from By Brooklyn. The popular shop, which sources all of its goods from Brooklyn artisans and designers, recently added a Williamsburg store to their original Carroll Gardens outpost, so now there are two places to find the perfect borough-made gift, like this South Brooklyn tote or Take Out Block.

6. That kick-ass, beautiful girlfriend of yours could use some new arm candy, and Lady J+1 has bold bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings destined to become her 2015 statement pieces. All are made in Crown Heights by award-winning designer Jessica D’Amico, who stocks her boutique with clothing designers like Mary Meyer and Samantha Pleet and other local artisans, too.

7. For that urban explorer in your life, the one who is drawn to places like the Gowanus Canal for its ability to spawn three-eyed catfish, there is now the Gowanus Souvenir Shop, whose artworks and wares are inspired by the Superfund site’s toxic past and its natural rebirth. These gorgeous, botanical printed plates are proof that beauty can spring from the most sullied of places.

8. There is something magical about miniatures–it’s why you loved terrariums so much. But don’t stop there. Get a custom diorama lamp, handmade at smallhome, an East Williamsburg boutique that handcrafts home goods on site. No two lamps are the same, and you can personalize yours by choosing from a variety of animals and opting for a playful illustrated background from a vintage storybook or a more realistic one based on nature texts.

9. Chef Michelle Warner is on a mission to expand the definition of home-cooked meals. She offers cooking lessons, dinners, farm tours and custom cooking events through her company, By-Hand Culinary. Whether you want to bone up on your fried chicken skills, learn how to make Thai food at home or have a cooler-than-average birthday party, she’s got a class with your name on it. Or, a gift certificate with someone else’s name on it.

10. RawSpiceBar sends three freshly ground, super high-quality spices to your door each month, along with recipes that use those spices. There’s a regional theme to each month, and it’s an amazing, and very affordable, way to try out new flavors and flex those culinary muscles.

12/01/15 2:00pm

Sponsored By BRIC.

BRIC is a nonprofit arts and media cultural organization that presents free and low-cost programming to the community.

Created By BlankSlate

Over the past few years, the issue of climate change has become impossible to ignore. The effects of climate change are not lost on those who call New York City home. Families who live in low-income housing are exposed to toxic and hazardous conditions, and their children are associated with a wide range of health conditions, including respiratory infections and asthma.

With repairs to various points of the city’s infrastructure still taking place and the financial costs of these repairs and insurance steadily rising for residents, there are some serious questions to be answered. How can members of the community cope with these effects while also dealing with a steep increase in their billing for necessary utilities and food? Climate change has transformed from a water cooler topic into a serious matter for everyone, especially individuals and families who are already having difficulty.

BRIC’s #BHeard Community Town Hall event on Wednesday, December 9, hosts a panel of noted activists and local educators to speak about these issues. Those who attend this free event can also ask pertinent questions to gain better insight. The latest event in the series will take place at the BRIC House and will broadcast live to the viewing public. (more…)


After using a Seedsheet over the summer, I marveled at how easy it made growing plants from seed. Designed to be foolproof, this garden-in-a-sheet provides all the benefits of an organic garden, without the burdens of gardening. Each one includes a variety of organic nonGMO seeds and soil contained in water-soluble pods which are embedded within a weed barrier fabric. You just place atop soil and water for the perfect weedless garden that’s “planted” in 30 seconds. It’s simple, innovative, and quite literally allows you to give the gift of a garden.

There is a Seedsheet designed for every type of green thumb–foodies, tea or smoothie enthusiasts, busy parents, or all of the above–and every size space. It can fit in a windowsill, on a patio or a rooftop and it comes neatly folded in waterproof packaging. It also lasts for a year, so you can buy now and plant later in the spring. So enjoy those latkes, cookies and eggnog this month–you have an organic garden to look forward to, along with the thought of turning your loved one into an urban farmer. Overalls not included.

12/01/15 10:32am
Learn the Danish concept of "hygge" (pronounced hoog-ah) and learn to love winter.

Learn the Danish concept of “hygge” (pronounced hoog-ah) and embrace winter.

Even though it remains unseasonably warm, we all know that winter is coming. The cold dark months combined with the wrong attitude can add up to a quarter of the year spent griping about the weather and its inconveniences.  You’re better than that. Change your outlook by embracing the magical Danish idea of hygge (pronounced hoog-ah), which translates loosely to the mindset of coziness.

Some of the happiest people in the world live in Denmark, where the winters are long, dark and quiet. But instead of lining up to jump off the Cliffs of Mon, the Danish embrace seasonal changes with all things hygge. Unlike hibernating alone inside your apartment, hygge is a more community-oriented feeling. Here’s a scenario: Drinks with dear friends nestled together next to a blazing fireplace, when the bartender suddenly yells, “Hey, it’s snowing outside” and you all look out the fogged windows to see the skies sparkling with white. That’s hygge. The concept describes the warm, fuzzy feeling of closeness and community, things and experiences that give you the pleasure of a hug. It’s like candlelight inside you that warms on even the coldest night. It’s a little abstract, yes, but doesn’t that sound better than shaking your fist at Jack Frost? From hot tea (and toddies) to fuzzy outerware and home decor that makes you happy deep down, here’s how to cultivate your own sense of hygge this winter. 


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Since it opened its doors in Crown Heights four years ago, Owl and Thistle General Store has stayed true to its “general store” moniker. Owner Keri Cavanaugh has a knack for finding precious, but not too pricey Brooklyn-made, Fair Trade and sustainable gifts for all ages, so you can easily walk in here and cross multiple generations off your list. (Trust us, we’ve done it.)

Cavanaugh also offers terrific crafty classes, too—like a Sew Your Own Stocking workshop this Thursday—so if you’re shopping for a DIY lover, a gift card that they can apply toward any class makes a thoughtful gift.

The shop’s holiday hours are Monday through Friday 11-8pm,  Saturday 10-8pm, Sunday 10-7pm, and you can always purchase gifts online, too. Just order by Dec. 20 for guaranteed Dec. 24 delivery, or choose the next-day shipping option.

Here are five great ideas for holiday gifts. (more…)

11/30/15 12:00pm


Sponsored By Blue Apron.

Blue Apron offers fresh ingredients and great recipes delivered weekly to your home.

Created By BlankSlate

It’s harvest season! It’s that time of year where the crisp autumn air makes us yearn for the comforts of home and the sort of rich, hearty food with seasonal ingredients. It’s a time for families to cook together and eat at the table.

With our busy modern schedules, though, it can be cumbersome for families to balance the hectic routines of work and school and still have time to shop for and cook up homemade, nourishing meals. That’s where Blue Apron comes in.

With Blue Apron, people can rediscover the joy of cooking. Fresh ingredients from regional farms and artisans are delivered to your doorstep, along with easy-to-follow recipes that Blue Apron chefs adapt from various world cuisines. And if you sign up now, you’ll receive two free meals on your first order. The fall recipes have included such healthful, hearty fare as zesty Acorn Squash Tempura Tacos and savory Butternut Squash & Kale Calzones.  (more…)

11/30/15 9:10am
Liz Kwon and Chelsea Altman's new restaurant White Tiger brings Korean flavors to Prospect Heights. Photo: White Tiger

Liz Kwon and Chelsea Altman’s new restaurant, White Tiger, brings Korean flavors to Prospect Heights. Photo: White Tiger

White Tiger, a Vanderbilt Avenue hotspot-in-the-making from chef Liz Kwon and Chelsea Altman, the owner of a host of neighborhoody spots around Brooklyn including Allswell in Williamsburg, doesn’t have a lot of competition in Prospect Heights, or beyond. The restaurant, which opened earlier this fall, seems determined to prove that it’s more than just the only Korean spot around. Prioritizing the inventive over the homestyle, White Tiger eschews tradition and aims to please a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood above all. If Kwon’s menu is somewhat hit or miss, White Tiger–named for the national animal of Korea–is still a solid choice for a memorable night out.

This is in no small part due to the strong–in more ways that one–cocktail list: The namesake White Tiger ($9) is a tropical take on a margarita with coco lopez and red chili. The Southie ($10) is reminiscent of a dark and stormy with lemongrass ginger syrup, and The Citrus Moon ($11) is a perfectly sweet and unusual blend of flavors (moonshine, rice wine, chamomile) that balance each other beautifully. The Naughty Kimchi, an interpretation of a Bloody Mary, is the only cocktail misfire: It’s just too thin and watered down, and leaves you wanting a great version of a kimchi Bloody Mary, which sounds delicious.


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11/27/15 11:06am

Hello from the other side of Thanksgiving. We hope you had an exceedingly pleasant time whether you left the city or stayed local. Though the federally-mandated day of gluttony is officially over—at least until next year—we have a nice, long weekend to look forward to and a slew of fun events to mark the beginning of December. There’s bluegrass in Gowanus, live comedy from a Simpson alum, and couple of great holiday markets. Check out the full lineup below to start planning your ideal week.

The Williamsburg Holiday Market will run through Dec. 23 at Diviera Drive on Berry St. Photo: Williamsburg Holiday Market

The Williamsburg Holiday Market will run through Dec. 23 at Diviera Drive on Berry St. Photo: Williamsburg Holiday Market

Friday, Nov. 27
While people across America will wake up before dawn on Friday morning to get the best Black Friday deals, those who would rather avoid the fray are invited to drop by the Williamsburg Holiday Market for a more relaxed day of holiday shopping. Starting on Friday and running through Wednesday, Dec. 23, locals and visitors alike will enjoy a great selection of unique Brooklyn-made goods perfect for friends, family, or that special someone. Festivities begin at Diveria Drive in Williamsburg at noon.


11/25/15 8:58am


If you’re one of the more practical transplants in New York, then you probably decided to forgo splurging on a Thanksgiving flight just one month before you go home for the holidays. But staying in the city doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a nice, community-building dinner: This Thursday, the folks at Dirck The Norseman are inviting all Thanksgiving “orphans” to eat and be merry for the third year in a row. For just $50, attendees, who are encouraged to bring a family dessert, will enjoy glasses of beer and wine over a home cooked meal prepared by the Dirck staff while kids under age 12 eat for free. Ten dollars of every ticket sold will be donated to the Greenpoint Soup Kitchen. Tickets are available here, doors open at 5pm.

11/24/15 10:06am

Jenny Wong-Stanley, an artist who sells her bent wood sculptures on Bulletin. Image: Bulletin

Seven years ago we published this guide, “Etsy made Easy,” filled with all the knitted Nano cozies and lightbulb salt and pepper shakers you could possibly want. At the time, Etsy felt like the premier source for handmade goods–it was bursting with cool, original items, made by real people.

Fast forward to our present holiday shopping season. Etsy has become so vast and unedited, with mass-produced goods now sold alongside handmade items in its online shops that it’s no longer the first stop on our annual hunt for original gifts. (Though I admit, it does come in handy for my kids’ Halloween costumes.) In the search for that perfect stand for your air plant or a cool geometric necklace to gift your girlfriend, you’d sooner find it at a Brooklyn boutique or the Brooklyn Flea than Etsy. There are also an increasing number of online markets for artisan wares that feel far more accessible than a company with 1.5 million sellers.

Bulletin is one of these new online curators. This “shoppable magazine,” which features roughly 23 makers at the moment, is not the first time a publication has encouraged readers to buy the products in its pages. But it gets back to the original point of the artisan movement, which valued knowing the person who made that geometric necklace as much as the necklace itself.

“We’re seeing the rise of the conscious consumer,” says Bulletin founder Alana Branston, who has a background in content marketing and knows the power of a brand’s transparency. Given the choice between buying a generic sweater from the Gap, she posits, or from Everlane, which reveals minute details about the factories where their garments are made, “Why wouldn’t you go with the cool story?” she asks. (more…)

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