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Valentine’s Gifts that’ll getcha some

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lipstick, Valentine's Day gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

The best thing about Valentine’s Day is that it really is the thought that counts. (People lie about that at Christmastime, ya know.)

By MIKEY ROX

To help you pick the perfect gift for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, here’s our list of fun and frisky ideas that he (or she!) will love to unwrap.

 

Boots No7 Men Grooming Products

 

Boots No7 Men Grooming Products

Boots No7 Men Grooming Products

If your main squeeze likes to primp and preen like everyday is a walk down a rainbow carpet, his heart will skip a beat with a gift from Boots No7 Men this Valentine’s Day. Boots No7 Men was launched in the United States earlier this year (it originally hails from jolly ol’ England), introducing a new line of products dedicated to dapper chaps while offering the same Boots formula as the coveted women’s collection. ($7.99-$22.99; walgreens.com)

 

Between Me and You Honey Journal

Between Me and You Honey Journal

Between Me and You Honey Journal

 

Think you know everything about your significant other? Think again. You two can build a relationship that’s closer and more honest than ever with the Between Me and You Honey Journal, a handsome spiral-bound notebook dedicated to sharing personal experiences, life stories, hopes, fears, fantasies and more. ($14.95; sanddunebooks.com)

 

 

 The HomeMade Gin Kit

The HomeMade Gin Kit

The HomeMade Gin Kit

 

There’s nothing more satisfying than coming home from a long day at the office and enjoying a freshly prepared cocktail with your sweetie — unless, of course, that cocktail is made from a DIY gin that you two have created yourselves. Salud! ($49.95; homemadegin.com)

 

LifeStyles Pleasure Products

LifeStyles

LifeStyles Pleasure Products

 

Sex is in the air on Valentine’s Day, but it’s important to play it safe. Whether you’re rekindling the romance in your marriage on Feb. 14 or just kickin’ it with a rando you picked up at the “I Hate Cupid” happy hour, LifeStyles has a wide selection of pleasure products to set the mood and make bedtime a bit more exciting. (Prices vary; lifestyles.com)

 

Cocoa Canard Spooning Chocolate

 

Cocoa Canard Spooning Chocolate

Cocoa Canard Spooning Chocolate

Thanks to Cocoa Canard, lactose-intolerant and celiac-suffering chocoholics can celebrate with the rest of Cupid’s cocoa-covered targets with Spooning Chocolate, the first dairy- and gluten-free pure, non-bitter dark chocolate that instantly dissolves in a cup of hot water. The makers like to call it the Espresso of Hot Chocolate, but you’ll probably just call it liquid yum. To enhance the gift-giving experience, Cocoa Canard has put together a handsome gift package, which includes a can of Spooning Chocolate, Spooning Mug, and personalized stationery. ($24.95; cocoacanard.com)

 

Secretions Magnifiques Eau de Parfum

 

Have you ever wanted to bottle-up the scent of a swaggery, sweaty man to whiff whenever you want? Secretions Magnifiques Eau de Parfum by Etat Libre d’Orange has perfected that formula in a new scent that all at once blends sex, saliva, skin and sandalwood (among other tantalizing aromatics) into a mesmerizing and masculine grooming spray perfect for giving the one you love — or keeping for yourself and owning your new status as a walking aphrodisiac. ($80; minnewyork.com)

 

‘See a Heart, Share a Heart’ photo book

‘See a Heart, Share a Heart’ photo book

‘See a Heart, Share a Heart’ photo book

 

It may not seem like there’s a whole lot of heart left in this wacky world we live in, but it’s there – you just have to look hard enough. That’s how photographer Eric Telchin stumbled upon his latest project and gift book, “See a Heart, Share a Heart,” which features found hearts in the most mundane of places like sweaters, sidewalks, leaves and animal fur. ($10.70; amazon.com)

 

FreshNeck subscription

 

Give the debonair gift that keeps on giving this Valentine’s Day with a subscription to FreshNeck, AKA the Netflix for ties. Your guy will always step out in style with this service that allows him to pick his favorite ties from a robust selection of neckwear and add them to his “Closet” (fancy name for queue), and in one to three business days his top picks will arrive. When he wants to switch it up again, he just sends the ties back in the provided prepaid envelope and awaits his new arrivals. FreshNeck also offers a variety of bowties, pocket squares and cufflinks so he can dress to the nines every day of the week. ($20-$55/month; freshneck.com)

 

‘Eye Heart You’ artwork

‘Eye Heart You’ artwork

‘Eye Heart You’ artwork

 

If your sweetie skews a little funky with a dash of the morbid, he or she might appreciate this interesting work of art entitled “Eye Heart You,” which spells out the affectionate sentiment of “I Love You” in a rebus — for the most part, anyway. In place of the first two words are stitched pictures that feature an eye and an anatomically correct heart, respectively, and then the word “you.” The 5×7-inch piece is set in an ash wood frame and comes ready to hang. ($41; stillhousenyc.com)

 

Égalité Wine

Égalité Wine

Égalité Wine

 

Even if you’re not a wine-and-dine couple (and who can blame you? It’s totally overrated), you can still mark this special occasion with a toast on the couch — and supporting the fight for equal rights while you’re at it. Égalité wine, introduced early last year, is the first nationally distributed wine created in support of the LGBT equality in the United States and around the world. Meaning equality, Égalité is both a reflection of the wine’s French origin and a celebration of equality for gay Americans. Since its launch, the brand has contributed more than $20,000 in cash and product to LGBT organizations. ($22.99; wine.com)

 

Nasty Pig Baller Line

Nasty Pig Baller Line

Nasty Pig Baller Line

 

Turn up the heat in the bedroom this Valentine’s Day without touching the thermostat with Nasty Pig’s new Baller line of undergarments, featuring red-hot socks, briefs and jocks sure to excite that adorable fetishist who shares your bed. Also available in green if you’re trying to send that “go-ahead” message from the get-go, these latest additions are full of frisky pop to make his tightening denim drop. ($16-29; store.nastypig.com)

 

Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and blogger who lives in New York City with his husband and their two dogs. Follow him on Twitter @mikeyrox.

 

Want to stay local? Here are a few D.C. spots to get great Valentine’s Day gifts

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Real Estate

Leather and lace in your home decor

From couches to countertops, add some flair

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Leather isn’t just for couches anymore; you can find it in countertops and a wide range of décor.

When I was very young, I would visit my maternal grandmother and marvel at the hand-tatted and crocheted doilies that adorned the arms and backs of her sofa and chairs. They were also found on her dressers and side tables, and on the dining table as coasters and placemats, to prevent scratches on the furniture. Like snowflakes, the designs of the doilies were both intricate and individual.

I’m convinced that people had better posture in the early 20th century, because I never saw the remnants of men’s hair tonic, Macassar oil, or pomade on Nana’s doilies, even though they were there to keep the furniture from absorbing those hair products. Certainly, people weren’t the couch potatoes lounging on sofas then that we are today. Being able to Netflix and chill was a long way off.

I was impressed with the amount of work that had gone into such a little piece of fabric, so I later tried to learn to crochet. Sadly, all I was able to accomplish was string after string, never having been taught how to join those strings together to resemble a doily. At least with knitting, I was able to form squares large enough to be blankets for my Barbie.

In my mid-century childhood, doilies were put away and saved for grandchildren who, years later, would neither want them nor appreciate their historical value. The ‘50s saw polyvinyl chloride (PVC) go from a commercial substance used frequently in post-WWII construction to a residential fabric that we now refer to fondly as “pleather.” I can still remember the sound of my thighs peeling off the vinyl banquette at the diner when I would get up to leave a booth.

To be without a leather couch in the ‘60s was déclassé and, although styles have changed, such a couch remains a timeless piece. These days, if you are looking for a little more leather in your life and in your home, you can look beyond that couch and chair, where options range from the subdued to the highly decorative.

While vinyl is still the least expensive leather-look fabric, we now have “bonded” leather, made with scraps that are bonded together using polyurethane or latex. As you can tell from the prices of such furniture, the actual leather used in the process can vary from 10-90 percent.

Of course, top grain leather is the most expensive, and we have suede, die cut, embossed, patent, and a variety of other techniques used to change the look of a hide. In addition, there is now vegan leather.

For something unique for your kitchen or bar, check out the tooled leather countertop from Kosel Saddlery (koselsaddles.wixsite.com/marty) in Montana. They also make saddles and chaps.

Instead of the shiny granite counters that we all know, MSI Surfaces (msisurfaces.com) makes honed and leathered granite finishes for a more subtle appearance and has dealers throughout the DMV. 

For a do-it-yourself application, Amazon sells the Aspect brand eight-pack of leather glass, peel and stick subway tiles for backsplashes in five neutral colors for less than $20 each.

EcoDomo (ecodomo.com) in Gaithersburg offers a variety of custom leather treatments, including countertops, door and cabinet panels, floor planks and tiles, and wall systems. Your color choices aren’t limited to black or brown either. They can manufacture pieces in blue, red, green, and even in custom colors to match other items in your décor.

Many online stores such as Wayfair and Overstock carry real and faux leather headboards, footstools, poufs and benches at affordable prices. 

There’s always something in leather at Pottery Barn, even for the conservative budget: pieced leather pillows, tufted stools, basket collections, and even a leather-bound coffee table book for cigar aficionados. 

If you’re looking for small accent pieces, try a leather coaster, placemat, napkin ring, or my personal favorite, a cutlery pouch for your tableware collection from Lucrin Geneva (lucrin.com). They also offer office accessories such as crocodile desk sets, wastebaskets and storage boxes.

And for the connoisseur of leather, vinyl, rubber, or even neoprene items of a more personal nature, head to the Capitol Hill Hyatt Regency this Friday through Sunday for Mid-Atlantic Leather weekend. With plenty of specialty items, high-impact fashion, toys and games for all ages and yes, even custom-made furniture among the vendor exhibitions, you’re sure to find something that will tickle your fancy.

Just remember that you (and your puppy) must both be vaccinated and masked to attend. We take COVID (and rabies) very seriously here in D.C.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate.  Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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Dining

Winter Restaurant Week a welcome escape from the cold

Enjoy D.C.’s diverse culinary scene at great prices

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KNEAD Hospitality + Design’s Gatsby is among the hotspots participating in this year’s RAMW Winter Restaurant Week. (Photo courtesy of KNEAD Hospitality + Design)

Saving Washington, D.C. diners from winter doldrums, RAMW Winter Restaurant Week is back in action. It returns Jan. 17-23 with the motto of “Dine Out. Take Out. Eat Up.”

The city’s signature winter dining event is back as a one-week promotion focused on dining out and tasting the city’s diverse culinary scene. Yet it also is providing diners with newer programs that they have grown to love over the past few cycles. These include the popular “RW-To-Go” takeout dinner meals, outdoor dining spaces, as well as cocktail pairings, allowing diners to take advantage of a range of indoor/outdoor comfort levels and dining opportunities.

Participating restaurants are set to offer multi-course brunch and lunch menus for $25 per person, and multi-course dinner menus for $40 or $55 per person for on-premises dining. Most are offering the traditional three-course meals, while others may include extras.

Many restaurants will also offer the RW-To-Go dinner meals, a program introduced in 2019, available at two price points: $70 or $100 for two people and $140 or $200 for four people.

More than 200 restaurants across the area are participating. 

“Our restaurants have shown resilience, creativity, and perseverance over the past two years, and they continue to count on the amazing support of loyal diners and newcomers through promotions like Restaurant Week,” said RAMW President & CEO Kathy Hollinger. “Designed to get diners out to experience all our great food scene has to offer, we have evolved this turnkey promotion to help meet diners where they are in terms of comfort. With offerings to include RW-To-Go, curbside pickup and delivery, heated patios, cozy igloos and indoor dining, there is truly something for anyone looking to support their favorite spot or try something new.”

New restaurants participating in Winter Restaurant Week include Ala, Bar Chinois, Bistro Du Jour, The Mayflower Club, Officina Cafe, Penny Royal Station, and Urban Roast in the District; Diabolo’s Cantina at MGM and Rosa Mexicano at National Harbor; North Italia Tysons; and the newest The Capital Grille location in Fairfax.

2021 RAMMYS Winners and finalists participating include Convivial, Cranes (also Michelin-starred), Espita, Estadio, iRicchi, and Sababa. 

In the 14th Street and Dupont Circle areas, popular participating restaurants include Agora, Cork, Duke’s, Floriana, and Sushi Taro, among others. 

Winter Restaurant Week also extends beyond core neighborhoods, stretching far past the city’s borders. Areas like Takoma Park and Bethesda in Maryland, and Alexandria and National Landing in Virginia, are also hosting participating restaurants. 

Some spots are offering additional deals, extended timelines, and other options. “I’m excited about the creativity of our local restaurants,” says Hollinger, “with their offers and spaces that give diners great experiences during the promotion, and the flexibility to dine in the way that works for them whether indoor, in heated outdoor dining spaces or at home with our Restaurant Week To-Go program.”

For example, Ambar (both the D.C. and Clarendon locales) will have a $70 seven-course to-go menu for two people. The deal includes a bottle of wine in addition to the food. 

Schlow Restaurant Group has a $40 gift card for more than three meals at any of its restaurants, including NAMA Sushi Bar and TICO in D.C. and Alta Strada Italian Restaurants in D.C. and Fairfax. 

James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Schlow says, “This is a great way for Restaurant Week diners to experience more of our menu offerings, and perhaps explore some of our restaurants they haven’t tried yet. Plus, with [our] Restaurant Week extended an additional week through Jan. 30, there’s ample time to dine.”

Gay-owned KNEAD Hospitality + Design group is involving all its restaurants in the promotion. The group’s restaurants include Gatsby, Mi Vida, The Grill, and more. Owner Jason Berry notes that he is “excited to participate in this year’s winter restaurant week. Each year Restaurant Week brings new diners to our doors to experience the creativity and talent our staff continues to showcase at our restaurants.”

Recall that the city has reinstated mask mandates for indoor spaces. In addition, On Jan. 15, 2022, per Mayor’s Order 2021-148, the District of Columbia adopts a citywide vaccination entry requirement that requires COVID-19 vaccination to enter indoor facilities within the city. This includes restaurants and bars.

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Real Estate

What to know if you’re buying or selling in 2022

Research interest rates, contractors now before spring arrives

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Spring will be here before you know it so prepare for buying and selling a home now.

The years 2020 and 2021 were wild on the books for real estate. Many successfully sold a house, bought a house, or sold a smaller residence and bought a larger one due to the new “needs” that they realized they had.  

After a year or more of staying home, working from home, dining out (at home), studying from home, many just realized they needed a different home than the one they were sitting in.  Many experts are saying that 2022 might be the year we go back to our “normal cycles” in real estate. If that is the case, then what does that mean?  

It means that right now, first time buyers can find deals on one- or two-bedroom condos that are sitting on the market, and the single family home market is going to be ramping up in the spring, when more buyers are out in the streets and more homes are getting ready to go on the market. So, if you are thinking of selling this year, you might already need to be calling painters, carpenters, and other contractors to do those little projects that make a home ready for photographs and to be shown in its best light. Now that the holidays are over, many of the contractors we hire start getting calls, and their schedules start to fill up. As a Compass agent, we have the “Concierge” program that helps sellers to finance, at zero interest, projects that spruce up their home, and then it gets paid back when the home sells. I know other brokerages have some similar programs, also. 

If you are going to buy a home this year, you might want to seriously look at how long homes have been sitting in the market in the neighborhoods that interest you. If the “days on market” are more than 20, 30, 40 or even 50 days, this might be your time to strike. Call a local lender or two and see what interest rate you can get and how much you can get approved for a loan. Interest rates could be going up this year, so you might want to get this done in the first half of the year, if your current situation allows.  

At any rate, if you are thinking of making a move this year, feel free to sign up for one of my homebuyer seminars, or give me (or your favorite Realtor) a call and find out what you need to do to get ready to make this move.

Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with the Rutstein Group of Compass. Reach him at [email protected] or 703-587-0597.

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