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Holiday Guide: Trudy's Wish List

Holiday Guide: Trudy's Wish List

Sweets from Sweet Miss Giving's
Chicago House and Social Service Agency, which provides supportive housing and case management for formerly homeless people with HIV (and, in some cases, their families), has adapted its services as the epidemic has changed. With people living longer, staying healthier, and returning to the work force, Chicago House created the Sweet Miss Giving's bakery to provide job training for clients, and its products raise money for the agency (full disclosure: I was once a volunteer, then a paid staff member at Chicago House -- many years ago, before Sweet Miss Giving's was established). Brownies, cookies, muffins, pound cakes, and other goodies make wonderful edible gifts. A basket of renowned chef Art Smith's favorites goes for $150, and there are many other choices. ( for orders to be shipped nationally; for delivery within Chicago)

West Side Story 50th Anniversary Edition boxed set on Blu-ray
West Side Story's gritty subject matter and streetwise choreography were groundbreaking in the world of musicals, and its creative team, which included Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents, and Jerome Robbins, shows how much the genre relies on gay genius. Amazingly, the original Broadway production lost the Tony Award for Best Musical, but the 1961 film version took home the Best Picture Oscar and nine others. The film's 50th anniversary Blu-ray four-disc boxed set offers song-specific commentary by Sondheim and many other bonuses. (List price $69.99, but many online retailers offer discounts; try, for one)

Hollywood, the Puppini Sisters
The fourth album by this wonderful close-harmony vocal trio is an 11-song homage to the movies that displays the Puppinis' retro yet innovative sensibility to great effect. These devoted "sisters" -- Stephanie O'Brien, Marcella Puppini, and Kate Mullins -- discover new shadings in upbeat numbers such as "Good Morning" and "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," and they'll break your heart with bittersweet renditions of "September Song" and "Moon River." Puppinis fans old and new will be saying hooray for Hollywood. ($13.95 CD, $9.49 MP3 download;

Windy City Queer: LGBTQ Dispatches From the Third Coast, edited by Kathie Bergquist
This anthology, which comprises fiction, poetry, memoirs, and essays, portrays the vibrant gay life of Chicago in all its facets. Well-known writers such as Edmund White and Achy Obejas join emerging voices in telling tales of work, play, and love in the great Midwestern metropolis. It's a toddlin' town indeed. ($24.95 paperback, $16.95 e-book, University of Wisconsin Press, or visit your local bookstore)

Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf
This fragrance isn't cheap, but it's so heavenly, it's well worth the price. It's a mix of bergamot, tea, freesia, jasmine, orange blossom, orchid, rose, and patchouli, and just a dab of it will dazzle your senses and lift your spirits for hours -- and likely attract many admirers. The large sizes and gift sets will set you back upward of $100, but if you're on a limited budget, a roll-on perfume can be had for $25. (

Trollbeads jewelry
These bracelets, necklaces, and other gorgeous gewgaws are made of distinctive Italian Murano glass beads, sterling silver, 18-karat gold, natural pearls, and precious stones. You can build a custom creation or select a ready-made one on the Trollbeads website or at authorized retailers, and there's even a design to benefit breast cancer research. Prices range from the hundreds to the thousands. (
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