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Racing toward the holidays (& Friday links)


I took the kids to the new Golden One Center last month to see Disney on Ice and to check out Sacramento’s new downtown arena for the first time. Only afterward, when Hudson didn’t believe me that the characters had been ice skating (“but it wasn’t cold”) did I realize I’d probably been more prepared to show them the new venue than to drum up excitement about what we were going to see there! Whoops! It is such an awesome addition to the city, and there’s just a ton of great stuff moving in around it. I included a few more photos below.

It feels like that was already ages ago as we race toward the holidays. (It feels like it was, in fact, a world away.) We started opening up the drawers in the advent calendar yesterday, kicking off the month with a children’s parade and tree lighting downtown! The marching band plays, The Grinch shows for free at The Varsity, and there are horse-drawn carriage rides. It’s pretty sweet. Today I’ll take the kids to the Art Center where they get to shop with a helper for us, in a secret no-parents-allowed room!

So. Here we go!

As I try to wrap my head around this, some links of note… 

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Hither & Thither Gift Guide: For Everyone Else


Happy 1st of December! Today’s gift guide is the last for this year’s set: ideas for anyone left out so far…

1. Even in the age of the smartphone, the fun factor of an Instax Mini is hard to dispute. (Also, a more budget mini.)

2. A gorgeous Ceramic French Press, that could double as a pitcher. (Everything in this Etsy shop is beautiful.)

3. Each as unique as they are: Shibori-dyed Cocktail Napkins made in Oakland.

4. For the historical purist: A Home Gardener’s Heirloom Seed Collection, completely non-hybrid, non-GMO, and non-treated.

5. Handmade Planters that would look at home in their home.

6. A puzzle for grownups: Gradient Puzzle

7. Useful and beautiful, a Local Foods Wheel, for various regions across the country.

8. This Solid Brass Bottle Opener is so simple and lovely—and there’s nothing remotely frat about it.

9. A collection of Wildsam Field Guides (or just the one from your city with a prompt to visit) would make a great gift for the wanderer. Each has suggestions and stories from locals. For example, San Francisco’s features Joan Didion and John Muir, Beatnik lore, the science of fog, and bread baking—as well as itinerary suggestions.

10. It’s the Flux Capacitor! Great Scott! Back to the Future Car Charger

11. Pick out one of this year’s best cookbooks for them. Everything I Want To Eat is on my wish list. Five others I would gift? Small Victories, Dinner at the Long Table, Lucky Peach Power Vegetables, Mozza at Home, and Molly on the Range.

12. There’s a reason why food stylists stock up on Linen Napkins. These are a good value.

13. Feel good pencils: Each number 2 gem contains a totally truthful, absolutely honest compliment. Bundle them all, or hand them out individually.

14. Something cheeky for the office. Oh For Fox Sake.

15. “‘I have enough washi tape.’ -said no one ever.” Pick out a personalized set of colors.

Not pictured: A beautiful calendar for their wall. This one and this one are both favorites.

Hope you found something here that you’d love to give this holiday season!

P.S. More gift guides! And this year’s For Her, For Him, and For the Kiddo.

Hither & Thither Gift Guide: For The Kiddo


Gifting kids is the most fun of all, isn’t it? Here are some of my top ideas for the younger set (especially in that 6-and-under category I know best)…

1. I had as much fun assembling and playing with the Seedling Marble Run and Virtual Reality maze as Hudson. And we haven’t even gotten to the VR aspect yet!

2. The kids circled just about everything in the Land of Nod catalogue this year. A Zebra Sleeping Bag would be perfect for a first sleepover.

3. Equilibloc can be played up (like reverse-Jenga) or down—or simply used for imaginative construction play. I love Janod’s colored wood toys.

4. Like their other maple-wood toys, Wooden Story’s Rainbow Stacking blocks are colored using oils and wax and are worthy of keeping for years. 20% of the sales of this one will be donated to the play area of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital by the shop, Over the Ocean.

5. A real first camera. We started with this one when Hudson was a toddler—and the kids still love it—but the images aren’t great.

6. This birch plywood DIY Modular House Kit can be taken apart and reassembled in many different forms, to inspire more creative play.

7. Illustoria Subscription, a magazine for creative kids and their grownups just released their 2nd issue, and would be especially suited to that 6-12 age range.

8. We picked up these Travel magnetic tiles when we were in Los Angeles and they’ve gotten a lot of use on flights and at restaurants. A win for everyone.

9. Beginning slackline that can be set up anywhere to get those wiggles out. A good exercise for everyone in the family, in fact.

10. Cubebot. Inspired by Japanese Shinto Kumi-ki puzzles, and made from beech wood, it can hold dozens poses with his elastic-band muscles or fold up into a cube. Great for busy little hands.

11. Fjallraven just knows good design. Everyone raves about this for a first backpack: the fabric is water resistant and durable, the straps well-positioned and comfortable, and the little handles mean you can easily carry it for little ones when they grown tired, or toss it over a stroller handle.

12. Books are always a good idea! Some that might please? Food AnatomyAh-Ha to Zig-Zag, Book With No Pictures, or The Lion And The Bird (so beautiful!).

13. Adults will appreciate the design of this game of Go Fish, illustrated by Richard McGuire, and kids will have fun playing. Here are more games they’ll want to play over and over: Uno, Sequence for kids, Memory, Outfoxed, Connect 4, and Tangoes (this last one is new to us, and challenging enough for everyone to enjoy).

14. The sweetest little hand puppets! (If you’d like to pair it: this one would be perfect with Eric Carle’s picture book, or with one that helps children understand climate change.)

15. What kid isn’t thrilled by Temporary Tattoos?!

P.S. More gift guides for kids, checked for updates: 2015, 2014, and 2013. Again, the suggestions still hold! Plus, best books for preschoolers.

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