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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

Helpful tips for homebuyers in seller’s market

2021 has been a great year for home sales

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COVID-19 housing market, gay news, Washington Blade

Without question, 2021 was a great year for home sales. Sellers across the country, in many cases, found themselves listing their homes and quickly having not just one, but multiple offers, many of which were at asking price or above. With limited inventory and high demand, it has been an ideal year to sell—and conversely, often a difficult year to buy. Buyers who are interested in a particular home, or even in a specific neighborhood, often find themselves facing stiff competition to have offers accepted. 

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that many buyers haven’t had successful and rewarding home buying experiences—just that doing so often means making an extra effort and taking helpful steps to make an offer the most competitive that it can be. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few helpful tips for buyers in a seller’s market:

  • Plan ahead with mortgage pre-approval: While there are certainly a wide variety of strategies that real estate agents and financial advisors may recommend, and while those strategies might vary depending upon the buyer and the circumstances of a particular market, one thing almost all experts agree on is that obtaining a mortgage preapproval is a smart decision. A mortgage preapproval is an ideal way to reassure sellers that a reputable lender has verified your credit and approved your buying power up to a certain limit. If you’re caught in a bidding war with another potential buyer, having preapproval establishing that you are ready, willing, and able to buy just might give you the advantage you need in a competitive market.
  • Be willing to look under budget so you can bid higher: In this highly competitive market, many home buyers find themselves in a situation where they are in a bidding war with another—or even several other—buyers. In that situation, you may find yourself having to make an offer at, or even in many cases, above, the asking price. This means that you may want to adjust your budget—and bidding—accordingly. Choosing to make an offer on a home that has an asking price that is already at the top of your budget may mean that you simply don’t have much wiggle room when it comes to making an offer over that price. Choosing a home slightly under the top of your budget means you’ll have more flexibility to make a bid that is more competitive and likely to be accepted.
  • Consider offering non-price-oriented incentives: Without question, making a highly competitive offer is going to be the key to increasing your chances of having that offer accepted. It’s important to remember that there is more to an offer than just price, however. Buyers may want to consider increasing the appeal of an offer by supplementing it with other incentives beyond just the dollar amount itself. Examples of such incentives might include things like foregoing the seller-paid home warranty that is often offered as part of the process, offering a shorter closing period, not making the purchase contingent upon the sale of a currently-owned home, or other such incentives. Doing so may give you the edge you need to have your offer selected over other competitive bids.
  • Retain the right real estate agent: Often, for LGBTQ buyers, especially in a competitive market, this piece of the puzzle is particularly important. In many, although certainly not all, cases LGBTQ buyers are drawn to specific areas of a city or community where other LGBTQ individuals live. That means that in a market where inventory is already limited and going quickly, there can be even fewer homes available upon which to bid. When that is the case, you will need a real estate agent who knows the community that you’re interested in, and who can quickly help you identify and take action toward making offers on homes that fit your needs. Having the right agent can make all the difference between a smooth and successful home-buying experience, and a stressful one

Jeff Hammerberg (he/him/his) is the Founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526, [email protected] or GayRealEstate.com

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Dining

Jane Jane brings throwback joy to busy 14th Street

Cocktail bar characterized by warm Southern hospitality

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(Photo courtesy of Deney Lam)

There is no standing at Jane Jane, the new classic cocktail bar in the heart of 14th Street. Its 850 square feet is for sitting and savoring, drinking in the relaxed retro vibe and the thoughtful craft cocktails. 

At the foot of the mixed-use Liz development where Whitman-Walker is the major tenant, Jane Jane’s creative use of a shoebox-sized space brings throwback joy to a busy thoroughfare. 

In the pre-COVID days of 2019, Whitman-Walker approached the Jane Jane owners, hospitality veterans Jean Paul (JP) Sabatier, Ralph Brabham and Drew Porterfield, all gay men, to make good use of the vacant parcel, and ensure it would be run by LGBTQ entrepreneurs. “It required some gymnastics because of the layout,” says Brabham, “but we came up with this cozy classic cocktail concept.” 

The hangout spot is an effort by the trio to “celebrate hospitality. We want everyone who walks into the space to feel like friends of ours we are having over for drinks or a bite. Its a cocktail party in our home,” he says. They felt connected to the idea of a tiny bar—a space where they would want to have a drink.

Named for Brabham’s mother, Jane Jane is as alluring and lively as it is intimate, each detail in the experience characterized by warm Southern hospitality—right from the bowl of spiced nuts that swiftly appear at each table at the beginning of service.

Sabatier, who has held stints at D.C. institutions like Rappahannock Oyster Bar, Maydan, and Compass Rose, oversees the bar and cocktail program, organized by spirit. (For their part, Brabham and Porterfield, romantic partners, also act as co-owners of Beau Thai and BKK Cookshop; Porterfield is also the current Curator and Director of Long View Gallery in Shaw.)

Sabatier has presented classic cocktails with a few noteworthy nods to current zeitgeist, as imagined by his lengthy experience behind the bar. The booklet-like menu includes a broad selection of familiar favorites like a Negroni, Manhattan, martini, but also features Sabatier’s handpicked favorite classics like the Boulevardier (a whiskey Negroni), Last Word (gin married to herbaceous green chartreuse) and Air Mail (rum, honey and cava). Drinks fall in the $13-$16 range; a “Golden Hour” runs daily until 7 p.m. featuring beer and wine specials and a punch of the day. 

Sabatier’s creative juices flow on the first page through cocktails like the vividly named Tears at an Orgy, with brandy, orange and maraschino, as well as the best-selling, highly Instagrammable Crop Top, a gin cocktail with a red-wine floater—and a name that matches the look of the bi-color drink. “It’s fun, delicious, and speaks to the space,” says Sabatier. He notes that their vodka of choice comes from Civic, a local, women- and LGBTQ-owned distillery.

Sabatier, a classically trained chef and Culinary Institute of America graduate, also oversees the small selection of bar bites (the space has no kitchen, part of the required “gymnastics” to make it functional.)

Beyond the complimentary vessel of rosemary-flecked mixed nuts, other bar snacks run from pickled vegetables to a Southern-style Pimento cheese dip and an onion dip creamy enough to make your grandmother blush. The “Jane’s Caviar” dish is a spread of trout roe and crème fraiche and comes with a towering mound of shatteringly crisp chips. A weekend brunch is in the works, which will serve goodies from local bakeries.

The retro-style interior recalls both California and the South, with only 32 seats inside and a 14-seat patio. Cozy booths done up in a hunter green as warm and inviting as a cool aunt are slung below walnut-wood walls and bar. Bright patterned tiles run the length of the floor; the back wall has playful cocktail wallpaper. A charming needlepoint by the restrooms kindly requests of guests, “please don’t do coke in the bathroom.”

The owners note that while Jane Jane is not explicitly a gay bar, its location in a traditionally gay-welcoming institution means that it has LGBTQ in its bones.

“Supporting LGBTQ people, businesses, and causes has been in Jane Jane’s ownership’s DNA at every establishment at which they have been involved,” they say, having supported local LGBTQ+ organizations like Casa Ruby, Victory Fund, SMYAL and the Human Rights Campaign, among others. 

Porterfield says that they were surprised that, given the locale, people assumed Jane Jane was a gay bar. “It’s not a gay or straight bar, just a fantastic cocktail bar that welcomes anyone to hang out with us,” he says. 

Nevertheless, the owners have taken into consideration the significance of being in the Liz development, as both gay men and as part of the hospitality industry. “It highlights the lack of representation as gay owners in this bar and restaurant world,” says Porterfield. They note the lack of women, LGBTQ and BIPOC representation. 

“It’s very special to us that we opened in this space,” says Porterfield, “so we want to show that we have opened a place that is all about inclusivity.”

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Autos

One lean, mean green machine

New Ford Mustang Mach-E is electrifying

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(Photo courtesy of Ford)

Here’s a shocker: Electric vehicles have been around for over 180 years. By the time of the first Hershey bar in 1900, EVs had hit their own sweet spot—surging to almost 30 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. But when Henry Ford began to produce cars on his moving assembly line in 1913, the popularity of the gas-powered Model T soon short-circuited EV sales. Cue to a century later, when the debut of the all-electric Nissan Leaf in 2010 sent a jolt through the auto industry. Yet it would take another decade to get drivers charged up about anything other than gas-powered rides. Today, it’s hard to keep track of all the EVs out there, along with other green machines like hybrids. While the current microchip shortage has slowed or stopped production on many cars for now, I was lucky enough to drive the all-new, all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E. The experience was, well, truly electrifying.

Ford Mustang Mach-E
$47,000
Range: up to 305 miles
0 to 60 mph: 4.2 seconds

When the Ford Mustang Mach-E was first announced, many auto aficionados were left scratching their heads. After all, a Mustang is one of the most iconic muscle cars ever created, and the Mach-E designation sounds suspiciously like the “Mach-1” branding used on flashy high-performance Stangs. Yet this new Mustang is a crossover SUV—and an electric one to boot. While the initial designs were captivating, plenty of skeptics remained. Luckily, they needn’t have worried. I was mesmerized the moment the Mach-E arrived, eager to run my hand along its sinewy side panels and strapping rear end. To keep the design as aerodynamic as possible, there are no traditional door handles. Instead, you use the key fob, your smartphone or a push button on the window frame to pop open the door. 

On the inside, there’s a small latch in the armrest versus the typical door handle. Such design elements are not only aesthetically pleasing, they also save space and reduce weight. Other novelties: This is the first Ford vehicle to use recycled animal-free fabrics, as well as a vegan steering wheel that’s as durable as leather. On the space-age dashboard, the premium Bang & Olufsen speakers are concealed beneath fabric covers that mimic the look of pricey home-theater speakers. And the unique design of the quiet cabin allows for a subwoofer that is 50 percent lighter than usual, yet still retains a deep rich clarity. As for the gigantic 15.5-inch vertical touchscreen in the center of the dash, it resembles a sort of funky oversized iPad from “The Orville.” Along with large climate controls for easier viewing, the touchscreen has interactive maps to locate the nearest charging stations. Those maps came in handy during two weekend trips, as did the heavily bolstered seats that helped prevent driver fatigue but also were easy on the tush. In total, there are five Mach-E trim levels, each with differing configurations for power and range (the distance you can travel on a full charge). 

While even the base-model Mach-E is fast and lively, it’s the high-test GT version that strikes like a thunder bolt. Rocketing from 0 to 60 seconds in just 3.8 seconds, the Mach-E GT is quicker than a Toyota Supra super coupe. And thanks to lower-than-expected ground clearance and a superb suspension, the Mach-E is just as agile. Those grippy regenerative brakes help, of course, allowing you to speed up or slow down using only the accelerator pedal. 

It’s worth noting there are other EVs in the Ford stable, including the electric F-150 Lightning full-size pickup, the E-Transit commercial van and various green machines on the way. By 2030, Ford is aiming for 40 percent of its global sales to be EVs. That’s a great goal for a company that once helped pull the plug on the “electric horseless carriage” but today is leading the charge with its own cutting-edge EVs.

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