Friday, July 29, 2011

The Way You Frame It

I have a difficult relationship with photo frames. On the one hand, I think I acquired roughly ten thousand of them over years of Sunday school Secret Santa gift exchanges, not to mention the fact that people love to give frames as wedding gifts. On the other hand, you have to display your photos somehow, so it ends up being a pretty useful gift, even if it’s a little generic-seeming.

I think the trick to gifting a frame is to find one that is unique-looking, and then personalize it by putting a photo inside. When I was in college, I remember being very touched when one of my sorority sisters birthday-gifted me a great framed photo of us from a fun night out with our friends. People so often forget to share the pictures they take (or, on the flipside, they have the opposite problem of oversharing photos that really should not be up on Facebook). It’s a nice gesture to go to the trouble of getting the photo printed, and then sticking it in something like this:

2011.07.29 - Frames

{Adjustable metal easel frame, $49-$69}

I love these mini easels! And since they are adjustable, you can position the photo either vertically or horizontally—and you can adjust how high up you want the photo to sit. I realize that these ones are a little steep in price (or maybe I am just behind the times?) so here are a couple of more classic-looking and affordable options:

2011.07.29 - Crate and Barrel

{Love the red with the black/white on this Crate & Barrel frame, $9.95}

2011.07.29 - Brushed Silver

{I have this brushed silver shadow box frame and love it, $24.95}

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{Double feature from Target, $20.98}

Speaking of photos—and the moments that inspire them—I will be having dinner with an old friend tonight! My good friend Allison and her mom are swinging through Seattle on their way back from an Alaskan boat cruise, and I am lucky enough to take these two lovely ladies out for a nice meal and an early celebration of Al’s upcoming birthday. I haven’t seen either of them in a long time, so this will be a very special night indeed!

Then another engagement party back at home, lots of family time, and it’s back to work and blogging on Monday! Bon weekend, everyone!

Images courtesy of www.westelm.com, www.crateandbarrel.com, www.target.com

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Teepee

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{Children’s Teepee, $159}

I would have ADORED one of these as a kid. Seriously, a cool teepee like this would just make any playroom or bedroom so much more fun. It’s such a cute idea and is the perfect little hideout!

Also, I am not a mom, but I would think that it’s a convenient holding space for stuffed animals and other toys—and one that keeps them out of sight at that…

Image courtesy of www.landofnod.com

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Color Me Happy

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{Live a Colorful Life print, $60}

A little reminder that we can all use every now and then. Hand-printed using an antique letterpress, and fits inside a standard 11”x14” frame. A simple and beautiful pick-me-up from Sugar Paper!

Image courtesy of www.sugarpaper.com

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interview: The Everywhereist

I’m incredibly excited to unveil an exciting interview with Geraldine of The Everywhereist! I met Geraldine at a startup event in Seattle this past January. We struck up a conversation that started on the topic of I Can Has Cheezburger, made a sharp detour to cupcake recipes, talked at great length about Taylor Swift, and then ended with a sort of giddy, “We should totally be friends if we find ourselves in the same city for an extended period of time!” I mean, really—how can you resist this face?

Geraldine

Well, we are currently in the same city, and I have had the privilege of meeting up with Geraldine and picking her brain for travel-related gift ideas. Let me back up. The Everywhereist is her absolutely amazing blog that chronicles all of the cool places that she and her husband travel to for his job, and she first began writing it as a way to commemorate all of their adventures. As she describes in the “About” section:

“This blog is mostly for him. So he can remember the places we’ve visited, the things we saw. So he can know a little bit about what I see when he’s off giving presentations and having meetings.

Yes, it’s a travel blog. But at its core, it’s a love letter to my husband.

A big, long, cuss-filled love letter. The kind he’d appreciate. The only kind I’m able to write.”

Geraldine was sweet enough to take some time out of her busy schedule—I mean, you certainly don’t get selected as one of Time magazine’s top 25 blogs of 2011 by sitting around and doing nothing—to give her two cents on everything travel, gifty, and in-between!

You spend a lot of time traveling. What is the one thing that you would completely freak out over forgetting to bring on a trip with you?

I'm quite good about remembering things, and I have a great technique for packing: I simply start at my head, and work my way down, in a sort of mental checklist (head = shampoo, glasses, make-up, floss, toothpaste; trunk = bra, shirts, and sweaters). It works shockingly well. Plus, most of my toiletries are pre-packed in TSA-approved bottles, so I give myself very little opportunity to forget stuff. That doesn't mean I don't, though. Once I forgot a shower cap and had to wrap a plastic bag around my head to keep my hair dry (It was not my finest hour). Another time, I forgot my accessories. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but I'm a costume jewelry nut, so I spent a week feeling utterly naked.

Are you a souvenir person? If so, what types of items do you
normally bring home from your trips?

I've never been all that into traditional souvenirs - like t-shirts with city names scribbled across the front or plastic snow globes. Since I generally take a small suitcase with me, I'm quite particular about what I buy. I remind myself that I have to love it, and it has to be something totally unique and different from stuff I can find at home. This means I often stop at crafty little shops and farmer's markets, looking for handmade creations from locals. I tend to come home with a lot of inexpensive accessories, as well as the occasional small painting or drawing. They don't take up a lot of room, they're great conversation pieces, and they remind me of the place of visited far more than a postcard ever could.

What types of gifts do you bring back for friends and family?

Oh, dear. Was I supposed to bring them back presents all this time? I kid! I kid! I tend to buy things for people only when I see something that truly reminds me of them. It doesn't have to line up with a special occasion - as long as it screams their name, I'll get it. I once found a necklace for my friend Skye while shopping in London. Skye's really into both rabbits and skulls (what? That's not weird, right?) and I found a necklace of, wait for it, LITTLE METAL SKELETAL RABBITS. I bought it instantly. I tried holding onto it for her birthday, but I couldn't wait that long and ended up giving it to her, even though there was absolutely nothing to commemorate. That's how I feel about gift-giving in general: if you find the perfect gift, you don't need an occasion.

What do you think is the most useless travel-related item that a person could receive?

A passport protector. I really don't understand the point at all. It simply makes your passport bulkier and harder to stamp. And I truly don't think it hides your nationality, because I've never seen anyone but my fellow Americans use them.

Is there anything travel-related that you are just dying to receive as a gift or purchase for yourself?

It's totally silly, but I really want a durable, reusable 1-quart plastic bag. Something that's non-disposable which could replace all the Ziploc bags I go through (because, man, those little suckers get trashed going through security. They were not meant for such abuse). It's just so, so ... superfluous, I haven't been able to justify buying one.

[Editor’s note: check out this one from Amazon]

What has been your favorite travel destination so far?

Ashland, Oregon. It's a tiny little town on the Oregon/California border, and has a quirky, fun vibe to it. My husband and I were married down there, and we go back every year. They've got a great theater scene, wonderful restaurants, and some fantastic little antique shops and bookstores.

GandRand

For all the lovers out there, what was the romantic place you've been to?

At the risk of grossing out all your readers, I have to say: any place I go with my husband is pretty damn romantic. I know, I know - totally barf-inducing, right? But if I had to pick one place, it would probably be Rome. Tons of art, history, and gelato: what more could a girl ask for?

What is your best travel tip?

Never leave ANYTHING in the trunk of your car. It's my mantra. If you have a suitcase back there, get to wherever you are going as soon as you can. Having your luggage stolen is a truly miserable experience. And if you can, avoid checking a bag! Keep it with you at all times. It will save you time, worry, and a lot of heartache.

HairPowder

If someone were to purchase a gift item for a jet-setter friend
(like yourself), is there a go-to item you'd recommend?

I am absolutely in love with Lulu Organics Hair Powder. It smells great, lasts forever, and it's great for when I'm on the road and don't feel like subjecting my hair to hotel shampoos (and no, I'm not paid to endorse them, nor do I receive their product for free. I shell out the cash for their hair powder and it is totally worth every penny).

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Thank you very much, Geraldine! I encourage all of you to check out The Everywhereist and read her wonderfully hilarious and candid accounts of her adventures. Happy travel-reading!

Images courtesy of www.everywhereist.com and www.luluorganicsnyc.com

Monday, July 25, 2011

Yours & Mine

2011.07.25 - Yours Mine Glasses

{Kate Spade Yours & Mine highball glasses, $50}

Happy Monday, everyone! I think this picture says it all. These glasses are DARLING. They are also dishwasher safe and made of non-lead crystal. Perfect for engagements and weddings!

Image courtesy of www.katespade.com

Friday, July 22, 2011

Vintage Charm

2011.07.22 - Vintage Monopoly

{Vintage Monopoly set, $149}

A while back, I was shocked to learn that some of my favorite childhood board games had changed drastically (for the worse, in my opinion). Everything looks borderline creepy in its overly modern, cartoony way (Candyland, for example, is just not what it used to be).

So you can imagine my relief when I stumbled across this vintage Monopoly set on the Restoration Hardware website. I know what some of you are saying—$149 is a ridiculous price tag on a board game. I’m not going to justify the price, but I will say that it’s a pretty cool item. This version comes in a beautiful wooden box with a removable wooden banker’s tray (actual play money, not this ATM BS that the newer versions have). See the cool banker tray below:

2011.07.22 - Monopoly Banker

This carefully crafted piece also comes with all of the vintage graphics of the original version. And it’s pretty enough to leave the box out as a décor piece on the coffee table! My husband and I received a similarly fancy Scrabble set for our wedding (rotating cherry wood board with super slick tiles), and it’s been a fun staple for the nights that we decide stay in or have friends over for dinner and drinks.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I will be traveling to celebrate my sister and brother-in-law-to-be’s engagement, something I am very excited about. It should be a great opportunity to see family and catch up with all the old friends and cousins that will be joining us in the festivities! See you on Monday!

Image courtesy of www.restorationhardware.com

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

I know, I know. I’m too old for this. But I am going to use this blog as a forum state the fact that I bought Lauren Conrad’s style book. And I liked it.

2011.07.21 - LC Style

{Lauren Conrad Style $11.10}

There are some things in this book that most fashion lovers already know, such as the wardrobe essentials (white button down shirt, a pair of great jeans, the LBD, a pair of black heels, etc). However, I don’t think there’s any denying that Miss LC rarely looks bad, and this book is filled with great style inspiration and useful how-to lessons on hair and makeup. It’s a quick and easy read, and a good gift for your favorite fashionista.

The only issue I took with the book was her section on special occasion outfits, in which she is photographed wearing a ivory vintage dress for someone else’s wedding. Probably not something you want to follow her lead on…

All in all, though, I’d say that it’s worth the $11 for this hardcover!

Image courtesy of www.amazon.com

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Keeping Time

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{Coach boyfriend watch, $298}

I received this exact watch as a gift about a year ago, and I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve received on it. I love the chunky look, and it’s surprisingly lightweight for something that designed to be oversized (it’s definitely no heavier than my regular women’s-size watch). Best of all, any Coach store with a watch selection can remove links to adjust the watch to fit you perfectly!

(I categorized this under both headings of “Girly” and “For the Boys” because I really do think this is a unisex item).

Image courtesy of www.coach.com

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nuts for Nuts

One of my good friends (affectionately? scathingly?) calls me “Squirrel Face,” which is a direct reference to 30 Rock, my Liz Lemon-esque neuroses, and a scrunched-up nose crinkle I apparently exhibit during particularly confusing lectures and conversations.

So along the theme of all things squirrely, I present you with this housewarming gift that is just random enough to be completely awesome:

{Squirrel nutcracker, $24.95}

This little critter has been crafted from cast aluminum, and you can crack nuts by lifting his tail, placing the nut in his mouth, and then cracking the shell open. If you have any friends who are nuts for nuts (I am so clever that I just made not one, but two direct reference to those NY nuts vendor signs in one blog post), I’d pair this nutcracker with a bag of their favorite gourmet walnuts. It’s a highly practical gift (unless, of course, the gift recipient is allergic to nuts) and a cute enough design for you to leave Mr. Squirrel out on display!

Image courtesy of www.fishseddy.com

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cupcake Kits

2011.07.18 - Bridal Cupcake Kit    2011.07.18 - Birthday Kit  Baby Cupcakes    Bird Kit

{Cupcake decorating kits, $12.95 each}

Everyone loves a beautifully decorated cupcake—and with Bake It Pretty’s outstanding collection of kits, it’s easier than ever to make photo-worthy confections for your next special event. These adorably packaged kits are a wonderful gift idea for any baker! A few of the additional themes on the website include: dinosaurs, Paris, kittens, dogs, and outer space. Love these!

Images courtesy of www.bakeitpretty.com

Friday, July 15, 2011

Booking It

My most recent obsession is my new Kindle from Amazon -- I was very resistant at first, as I really held onto my argument of, “But I am old school and I like feeling the book pages as I turn them.” (I also like the smell of library books, something that my husband has summed up as “disgusting”). However, I eventually caved to the Kindle, and I haven’t been able to put the thing down since it arrived. Within a week, I have devoured two books, and this e-reader purchase has officially re-ignited my voracious appetite for good reads.

And because I am old school, I enjoy writing people letters—snail mail, the kind that requires a stamp. So you can imagine how my heart sang when I came across this set of Penguin Classic postcards, an item that marries this renewed energy for reading and my long-lasting love of letter-writing:

Image 1  Image 2

{Postcards from Penguin: One Hundred Book Covers $16.50}

Amazing, no? I love the vintage style of these covers, and this collection is both a great set of stationery and an excellent reminder of the classics that I still need to get around to. I also love the packaging—the box itself looks like a book!

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{This blank postcard is just itching to be written on}

Thank you for reading this week’s posts! I hope y’all have an amazing weekend—I am kicking it off with a Harry Potter movie outing tonight. I am pretty stoked for that. I will also spend some time doing some preparations for my sister’s upcoming engagement party, perhaps a little shopping at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and catching up with friends both old and new!

Have a very happy weekend, and see you on Monday!

Images courtesy of www.amazon.com

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

I am the first to admit it: I am a huge nerd. Thus, it should come as no surprise that I sort of LOVE Bastille Day. I am not really sure why—but basically, ever since I took a “History of Revolutions” class at my nerdy academic summer camp (at the age of 13-ish), July 14th has always been a somewhat special date to me.

Is it a surprise that no boys wanted to date me in high school?

Anyway, today is July 14th, and in the spirit of storming the Bastille and all things French, I present a Marie Antoinette-worthy indulgence:

2011.07.14 - Macaron book

{I Love Macarons book $9.83}

I really wanted to feature some Ladurée macarons as the gift idea, but they aren’t exactly available for sale online. So this delightfully cute little book will have to suffice.

As a pretty experienced baker, I can say that macarons are a damn difficult and expensive endeavor (almond flour is not cheap). However, in I Love Macarons, renowned Japanese pastry chef Hisako Ogita simplifies the process and gives some foolproof tips and tricks for the at-home baker! J’adore!

And to satisfy my inner geek:

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Happy Bastille Day to all!

Image courtesy of www.amazon.com

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Takeout

When I first got married, I had these really lofty ambitions of being the perfect working wife. You know, I would have my career (although, are you allowed to refer to the first couple working years out of college as a career? Or does it only count as “those years during which I removed my head from my ass”) AND I would make really extravagant, gourmet dishes like osso buco for my darling husband to come home to.

I think we know how this story ends. And, sadly, it doesn’t involve osso buco. It’s hard to have a meal fully prepared and on the table when you leave work around the same time as the person for whom you are cooking.

So it goes. We were pretty fortunate to be in New York during those early years, where at least it’s easy to get something tasty and quick delivered to your front door. We collected quite the number of takeout menus (though, in my defense, a lot of those menus came from other people’s delivery guys slipping menus under our door). At that point, one of these would have been really handy:

2011.07.13 - Takeout Organizer

{Takeout Menu Organizer $14.59}

I would probably also recommend this as a college send-off gift, because only God knows how much sesame chicken takeout my friend Krissy and I ate back in the day… this really could have helped us prioritize which places to order from. We were very serious about the quality of our terrible-Americanized-Chinese-food-that-is-its-own-genre-of-food-and-for-that-we-love-it. This could have taken it to the next level. Which is why I feel that I am justified in categorizing this item under the “Gourmet” heading.

Image courtesy of www.zgallerie.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Anonymous Hipster

Have you ever wanted to try out a daring new outfit but were afraid of embarrassing yourself? Particularly, if it happened to be documented on camera and then posted onto Facebook? Well, well, my friends… here is your solution!

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{Photo Protective sunglasses, $12}

These “Embarrassing Photo Protective Sunglasses” from Urban Outfitters are pretty hilarious. At $12, they are in the general ballpark for workplace white elephant gift exchanges, gag gifts, and things of that ilk. I also feel like they would work for some sort of Gaga getup…

Image courtesy of www.urbanoutfitters.com

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ring-Ring-Ring

2011.07.11 - iPhone Receiver

{POP! Handset, $36}

I feel like there’s a different news report about cell phone radiation and cancer every other day. Although it seems like the end takeaway is, “We can’t say for sure, but you might want to stop talking on your cell phone so much,” this colorful handset turns being extra cautious into something extra fun.

The handset apparently eliminates 99% of absorbed cell phone radiation, reduces noise, and comes with a pick-up/hang-up button. It is compatible with any device that has a 3.5 mm socket, and you can always make it work with other devices by using an adapter. MOST importantly, it comes in a range of really fun, punchy colors—red, yellow, blue, green, metallic gold, and black (okay, the black is not so punchy, but the rest of them are).

I think it would be pretty hysterical for me to pull just the receiver out of my purse every time I want to make a call… can you imagine the confused stares that would elicit?

Image courtesy of www.aplusrstore.com

Friday, July 8, 2011

Change It Up

Today’s gift pick comes as a reader suggestion—specifically, one of the coolest, chicest moms that I have ever met. When she mentioned to me that this item is her go-to gift for baby showers, I knew I had to feature it.

2011.07.08 - Patemm

{Patemm pad, $55-$88}

I won’t pretend to know a lot about taking care of babies, but I do know the following:

1. They frequently need their diapers changed.

2. Diaper bags are often a pain to lug around.

3. You don’t always have the option of changing said diapers in the comfort of your own home, which requires the constant presence of diaper bags.

Patemm solves these problems with their ingenious design, which multi-tasks as a changing pad, has inside pockets to store diapers/wipes/extra clothes, AND folds into a compact carrier. Talk about all-in-one! It literally goes from the above circular changing pad to this neat little guy:

2011.07.08 - Patemm Folded

This amazing invention makes things so much easier for new moms, and it’s one fewer item that you have to worry about—no need to fret about putting the changing pad into the diaper bag when the changing pad IS the diaper bag!

The pads measure 30 inches in diameter, made circular with squirmy babies in mind. Four outside handles make it possible to fold or unfold it using just one hand, and these eco-friendly, PVC-free, laminated cotton items are made in San Francisco. Best of all, they come in a fun variety of beautiful prints, cementing the gift recipient’s status as coolest mom on the block.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Thank you for reading my little blog, and I will catch you back here on Monday!

Images courtesy of www.patemm.com

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Take a Chance

Everyone loves a good sequel. And I, more than anyone, love a good nautical stripe. Julie Leach, former Kate Spade creative director, has launched her own line that epitomizes both of those things… allow me to introduce Chance!

When I was in New York last month, I happened to stumble across the Chance pop-up shop in Nolita. Without even knowing about the sailor stripe-centric assortment awaiting me inside the store, I found it impossible to resist this sidewalk display:

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Upon walking into the shop, I was in heaven. While I can’t really explain my obsession with stripes, I will say that there’s no better time to have said obsession than in the summer! I think this Chance tote embodies everything deliciously casual and carefree about the limited time sandwiched between Memorial Day and Labor Day:

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{Chance tote, $125}

This cotton bag just screams, “SUMMER!!!” to me. Measuring 18” wide and 14” high, the top straps are long enough to throw over your shoulder—making this the perfect beach bag. It’s easy to roll it up and pack it to bring on vacation—and it’s also a very adorable, eco-friendly companion for a morning of produce shopping at the farmer’s market!

Image courtesy www.chanceco.com

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lip Service

2011.07.06 - Trish Lip Palette

{Trish McEvoy Beauty Emergency Card, $32}

Today’s gift pick is a Trish McEvoy lip color palette that was designed exclusively to benefit the Girl Scouts of America (100% of the proceeds from this item go toward the organization). With eight beautiful glosses in summer-appropriate hues, you can do the Girl Scouts proud and be “always  prepared” with this palette tucked into your purse!

Image courtesy of www.trishmcevoy.com

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Just So

Welcome back, everyone! I hope y’all had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend… and I would like to wish my wonderful husband a very happy anniversary today! I can’t think of a kinder, sillier, more thoughtful partner in crime. And guess what, man—you’re stuck with me for LIFE!

Today’s gift pick is for that person who just needs everything “just so.” You know what I mean—that friend who color-codes her Post-Its, goes bananas for The Container Store, and operates her life in lists. Oh wait, did I just describe myself?

2011.07.05 - OCD Cutting Board

{OCD Cutting Board $25}

This cutting board by Fred and Friends will ensure that the OCD chef in your life can make everything in exact proportions and sizes. It is made of a durable beechwood and measures 9”x12”. All of the angles and grids printed onto the board guarantee that your chopped items will never be anything less than perfect. While I would like to think that it’s a bit extreme even for me, I have to admit that precisely sized vegetable bits in my matzo ball soup are tempting…

Image courtesy of www.amazon.com

Friday, July 1, 2011

Journeys

2011.07.01 - Travelers I Met and Liked

{Travelers I Met and Liked notebook, $11}

This summer, I have had the privilege (and sometimes challenge) of being kind of all over the place. One of my favorite things about all of this has been the ample opportunities to meet new people and learn their stories. For example, my Nashville adventures led to various friendships with my co-workers, a lovely baby boutique owner (see her ADORABLE blog here), some cool girls who operate the world’s most charming stationery store, and the kind gentleman who runs Hatch Show Print, hands down the most amazing letterpress institution in the world. It’s really amazing how receptive people are to speaking with complete strangers if you demonstrate a bit of kindness and a genuine interest in getting to know them.

This Archie Grand notebook reminded me of how lucky  I have been to meet all these great people during my travels (I know, it’s more like I’m the traveler that they met and seemed to like, but you get the idea). There is a whole line of these: Secret Agents I Met and Liked, Santa Clauses I Met and Liked, Lies I Told and Liked… the list really goes on forever. You can see them all here. These hardcover notebooks have sewn spines and contain 120 blank pages of high quality paper. They measure 4.6” x 6.5”, making them super easy to throw into your purse when you are on the go!

Kind of related to turning new friends into old ones, I received the NICEST Facebook message from a college classmate saying that she recently started reading this blog and loves it—isn’t that the sweetest thing ever? It truly made my day, and not just because of the compliments; it was just so nice for someone to get back in touch. I really encourage all of you to use some of your free time this long weekend to get back in touch with someone who has started to fade out of your life. You won’t regret it!

Happy Fourth of July to everyone! Have fun, be safe, and enjoy all of those beach trips/fireworks viewings/barbeques that I am sure you have planned. See you back here after the long weekend, and thank you for reading!

Image courtesy of www.jasperandblack.com

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