Catbird Alphabet rings (and a Friday link list)

COMMENTS:

Catbird, a jewelry shop in Williamsburg, has lovely little gift guides—including one for new moms. My favorite are the delicate little alphabet rings.  So many of my friends are (also) pregnant with baby #2; wouldn’t it be sweet to wear stacked rings, one with each child’s initial? Of course they’d make a great gift for anyone who want to keep a romantic someone’s initial close at hand, too.

More links for your weekend…

Are you done with your holiday shopping? I almost am. If you’re too late for on-time shipping, maybe consider donating to a charity—or to public radio or television in someone’s name (to say thank you for This American Life and Downton Abbey)! But if you’d like something you can wrap, here are my gift guides: For Her, For Him, For the Kiddo, and For Everyone Else.

Also, Our Common Mug, a sweet gift to share with a friend who is too far away. (Thanks for the tip, Allie!)

This send-up of Instagram clichés is hilarious. (Guilty of too many to count. Whoops!)

On a slightly related note: remember our dining room pics and my hunt for a new dining table? We got one just in time for Thanksgiving.

We just got a Christmas card from Aron’s aunt, who made a painting based on one of my photographs and used the image for her cards. So awesome to see! Here are the snowy images of Manhattan after a big storm, taken mostly in Central Park. (They’re still some of my favorite!)

A brilliant paper-snowflake-cutting tutorial, if you’re in the mood to get fancy.

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Visiting Santa at Macy’s 34th Street

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I had some initial hesitations about making the trip to Santaland: the New York Christmas tradition is notorious for long lines, crowded elevators, and over-eager elves. And then there was the high probability that our toddler, who most likely wouldn’t remember any of this by the following year, would cry at the sight of that big, bearded fellow in a red suit.

And yet, in spite of these very reasonable reasons to stay away, Aron and I felt compelled. How often will we be in New York City with a young child at Christmastime? We had to see it! Natalie Wood and little Ralphie… David Sedaris and a singing Zoey Deschanel… they all compelled us.

Here’s the thing: Activity-wise, it was possibly the highlight of the trip!

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Hither & Thither Gift Guide: For the kiddo

COMMENTS:

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  1. We love this Classic Balance Bike at our house.
  2. Personalized photo games by Pinhole Press: memory, puzzles, and more… (We made this one.)
  3. Max the Raccoon (or another handmade cutie) from BRIKA
  4. This all-wood Fold-and-Go farm reminds me of the one I had in the ’80s, by Fisher Price.
  5. A playful wink in their bedroom—the Howkapow dog lamp.
  6. A Larry Gets Lost book about your hometown or someplace you’d like to visit—the pup gets lost everywhere from Los Angeles to Seattle, New York City to San Francisco…
  7. Stacking blocks that kids will love and that look good, too.
  8. Eco Dough, the closest you’ll get to the homemade playdough alternative, rumored to be less likely to dry-out.
  9. The Brio Pull Along Dachshund does an incredible job of staying upright, no matter how much he’s jerked around. No other brand of pull-along toy has compared.
  10. This Skootcase looks to be a case of “everyone wins!” at the airport. (I’ve been intrigued for a while.)
  11. Janod Story Box Farm. The French company makes various themes of these sweet boxes of wooden figures (which are perfect for travel). We picked up the Firefighters Story Box in Paris, and Hudson loves it!
  12. Mahalo Ukulele makes a great gift for kids, precisely because it’s not designed to be a toy.
  13. Such a great price point for a classic moccasin: Minnetonka for JCrew Baby.  (The entire new collection for babies is adorable!)
  14. An attractive Playmat—for under a baby’s play gym or a toddler’s train set.
  15. Who wouldn’t love The Original Slush Mug?
  16. Ubbas bath cups, to match their family’s form. (Here’s Hudson with ours.)
  17. Playskool Digital Camera and Projector. How fun to get a glimpse of the world through a little one’s eyes!
  18. And, not exactly for the child, but new parents would love this beautiful Baby Milestone heirloom set.

P.S. Last year’s Gift Guide for Kids. Those Connectable Drinking Straws were (and continue to be) a verified hit with our then 4- and 7-year-old nephews!

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Gift Guide: For Her
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Hither & Thither Gift Guide: For him

COMMENTS:

Hither & Thither Gift Guide: For him

Thanks to Aron, who wrote this gift guide for guys!

  1. Ashley and I love Apple TV, but Chromecast is a great, new, cheaper alternative—and it lets you cast anything you can watch on your computer in Google Chrome to your television… like Amazon’s huge collection of streaming video.
  2. A handsome BRIKA Handmade Leather Key Fob  to replace the carabiner.
  3. This bike kit, to keep his running perfectly, and to let him know you’d like to keep him safe.
  4. If you already bought the nice shoes, try getting him a Fine Footwear Kit.
  5. If only… 
  6. This camera takes the best photos I’ve seen from a compact point-and-shoot—AND it’s waterproof to 3o feet and drop-proof to 6 feet. I’m sure Hudson could destroy it, but he would have to really try. (We used it a lot on this trip.)
  7. Simple, but sweet. Something to remind him of his other best friend.
  8. Tools are commonplace on gift guides for guys, but there are only a few that I find that I really need. This drill is handy for so many different home projects.
  9. And, speaking of which, it’s a small gift, but if he doesn’t have one already, an all-in-one screwdriver is incredibly convenient.
  10. This timepiece is timeless.
  11. The original Astronaut Space Pen writes upside down, in unearthly weather, and is guaranteed unconditionally for life.
  12. The Wes Anderson Collection, in-depth overview of one of his favorite filmmaker’s work.
  13. You can’t have the perfect drink without the perfect ice cubes. Skip the stones.
  14. Attractive Coin storage .
  15. dopp kit used to be given to GIs during WW2—and still make a classic gift. Fill it up to personalize it.
  16. If your guy has a commute, think about getting him an Audible.com gift membership—you can pick any one book for free each month—it’s a great deal.
  17. If your camera will accept a remote (many do), they’re awesome to have for family or group photos (or selfies, if you prefer).
  18. I’ve been really enjoying The Rip Tide by Beirut recently.
P.S. A few more good ideas on this (now past) giveaway. And last year’s Gift Guide for Him. More gift guides coming up throughout the week.
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Hither & Thither Gift Guide: For her

COMMENTS:

Hither & Thither Gift Guide: For her

  1. Professional-quality, complete cake decorating tool kit to show her how much you love those desserts she makes. (Here’s a $10 credit for the site.)
  2. BRIKA Handmade Cord & Rings bracelet
  3. The cropped cape she didn’t even know she’d love.
  4. That decadently soft, cotton flannel robe from the Ace Hotel that she swooned over. (On a weekend away when you swooned over her.)
  5. That citrus tree she’s been coveting. This Kumquat can sit indoors or out, and its fragrant white flowers by tart and juicy fruit.
  6. Power Link Tassel USB Keychain, so that she’ll never have to hunt down a cord to download photos from her iPhone again.
  7. A monthly subscription to Kindred Photo Books (And, better yet, a few you’ve made for her—at only $5 each!)
  8. cast brass necklace that will go with anything.
  9. Warby Parker Gift Card for the home try-on box program. Because it’s too hard to pick out frames for her, but you know she wants new glasses.
  10. Any of these boots, but this Sam Edelman Ankle Boot is a beauty!
  11. Ultra-compact extra battery for her phone (so she’ll always be able to reach you).
  12. A buttery leather tote she’ll use all the time.
  13. An all-occasion card box to help her out (because, otherwise, she’s the only one who remembers to buy the cards).
  14. A chic basket for her bike.
  15. This cheeky take on the Hermès wraparound watch.
  16. A beautiful hooked pillow from Pendleton.
  17. Beautiful hardcover books she’ll be happy to read and leave out—like the newly released Remodelista.
  18. Or… always a safe bets around here… gift certificates to JCrew, Madewell, or Anthropologie.

P.S. Last year’s Gift Guide for Her—which I just looked at again and which I still stand by 100% (and which still contains some things I’m wish-listing). And did you check out the iRobot from last week’s post? More gift guides to come throughout the week: for him, for kiddos, and for everyone else.

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Gift idea: photo games for kids

COMMENTS:


For Hudson’s first Christmas, we made him a beautiful family album (that he still loves looking at), but we also printed out some 4x6s and put them in a flip book for his stroller. Last month, he started taking those printed photos out and and flipping them upside down; he’d try and remember which photo was where and then put them back in, in order.

So when I saw that Pinhole Press now offers a personalized Memory Game for kids, I knew Hudson would love it! My initial plan was to wait for Christmas, but I was too excited when it arrived. We used family photos but also included lots of his best friends. All the images look so pretty on the extra-thick card stock!
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An inspired, experience-filled Advent calendar

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DIY advent Calendar

My friend Melissa comes up with the most creative, inspired ways to celebrate with her family. I love the traditions she creates (like this sweet half-birthday cake!), and the way that she incorporates charity and gratitude and, of course, fun experiences into so many of their family holiday rituals.

It was last year, just after Christmas, that she and I became friends and so it was around that time that I did the typical, new-friend Facebook lurk and discovered her photos from her advent calendar. Rather than placing small gifts into 24 boxes (though that’s always lovely and appreciated as well), she had experiences. I was so impressed and vowed I would ask her to share about it before this year.

Here’s what she said…

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Personalized gift books for kids

COMMENTS:

While we’re jumping ahead to Christmas…

Hudson has been reading a Santa book from last year’s Christmas pretty much year ’round. He even does a little dance-wiggle when he points to the snowman, recalling perhaps how there’s some magic in that old silk hat he wears? I am so curious to see how he takes to all of the holiday tradition this year (particularly Santa, as he was not a fan of the fellow in person)—and am more excited than ever to start new family traditions with him (and, eventually, his sister) in mind.

First order of business? A new Christmas book for us to read together.

The always lovely Chronicle Books has a division called MyChronicleBooks that makes a customized version of the classic poem, The Night Before Christmas: Hudson’s should be arriving soon—with his name included throughout, as well as ours and Sawyer’s and where we live (important details for Santa, of course), so that we can read it together leading up to Christmas eve.

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After all, he has to know the story so that when my dad one day tells him the naughty-ish version of the poem (from memory no less), he’ll know the difference.

There are some great alternatives to this Christmas tale, however, if you like the idea of a personalized gift book but this isn’t the right one for your family’s holiday traditions. Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site are both huge hits around here. And they have the Petit Collage Baby Book that we got for Hudson when he was born, which would make a nice gift for new parents.

Thank you to MyChronicleBooks for sponsoring this post and supporting Hither & Thither.

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‘Tis the season: holiday cards!

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Hard to believe, but it’s time to start thinking about holiday cards. Seriously, where did the last ten months go?!

Ever since I heard Minted CEO Mariam Naficy talk about starting and growing the online stationery’s business at Alt SF (she was completely inspiring), I’ve been curious about the brand. Minted sent me a box of samples from their new holiday collection and I was really impressed! Now I find myself favoriting far too many designs on their website for our holiday cards this year. (There’s something like 700 holiday card designs—all beautiful—so for a non-committer like myself it’s going to be a tough choice.)

I’ve started going through Lightroom to tag photos that include all three of us as well as my favorite ones of just Hudson. (Because then you can then test a sample photo in various designs and I’m thinking that will help me narrow things down.)

It’s funny: I used to be self-conscious about sending photo cards (sounds counter-intuitive for a blogger, right?)… but I realized how much I love seeing others’ pictures and reading their updates. They’re the best! And now that we have a cute boy who looks different every month, I really look forward to sending them out! Frankly, I also love it when people send those family update letters, but I figure everyone’s heard enough about our goings-on for that.

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Looking through the site, I was really impressed with how well Minted tries to cover all family make-ups and practices. Classic or modern, foil printed or letterpress, religious or generically holiday… you can search by New Year’s cards, pet cards, newlyweds, new baby and so on. And many cards can even have the number of photos, the colors, and even the phrases customized.  For example, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year can just as easily be swapped for “Merry everything and Happy always” (like this one). There are postcards, flat cards, folded cards, extra-thick cards, or these cute mini books—which would be awesome for families with multiple children… or a couple sharing wedding photos with far-flung family.

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I haven’t picked out our cards yet (and always like saving them for mailing out), but perhaps the most wonderful bit of all? I get to import all of my addresses and they’ll pre-address the envelopes for free. Hand-writing them or even trying to figure out how to put the darn labels in the printer and get them centered and right-side-up usually takes me about a million years so this was what really sold me. Who knows? It may mean I’ll actually have the energy to write some personal notes!

Do you send holiday cards? Do you try to get them out right away? Or do you wait to see who sent one to you? (Confess! I know some of you do!)
Good news: Minted is offering $25 off + free shipping through 11/11 with the code JOY25FS.

This post is sponsored by Minted. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Hither & Thither.

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Try this: Wreath-making tutorials

COMMENTS:

I wish I could say I made this Bay Leaf wreath (shown smelling wonderful on our Thanksgiving table last year before it went on to adorn our door for far too many months), but I bought it.

Not once, but twice, this year I’ve purchased materials with the best of intentions to make a wreath: first a wire wreath form—with this succulent wreath in mind (we have the materials in our yard); and then a dried grapevine wreath with the impulsive thought that Hudson and I would hot-glue his stash of mini-white-pumpkins to it. I brought it home only to remember that… oh yeah… I don’t have a hot glue gun.

DIY: Best wreath-making tutorials

So while I’m sort of a DIY-fail, I really do have the best of intentions! And I’m assured that making your own wreath can be very simple. I’ve been collecting inspiration for those of you with more follow-through: if I were to make a wreath this year, here’s where I’d look first.

Oh Happy Day: 3 wreaths to make for the holidays
Design Sponge: Bits & Bits wreath (pictured twice) and Bittersweet & Rosehip wreath
Kinfolk: Holiday wreath & card holder
Martha Stewart: Corn Husk Wreath (she, of course, has many useful tutorials)

And for backup? A for-purchase Olive branch or Bay Leaf wreath would be lovely throughout the holidays.

Try it. Then let me know how it went so I can continue to be a vicarious DIY-er?

[All photos, except top (our last year’s Thanksgiving table), from the listed sources.]

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Holiday highlights

COMMENTS:

Before the lights all come down and the returned-for-wrong-address cards stop appearing in the mail (darn it!), I thought I’d share some photos from our holidays. Just a few favorite Christmas-y ones… I have plenty more Southern California posts in mind for next week.

Highlights included: For the very first time, stringing lights outside…

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A few family photos (and a tree!)

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Just a few photos our friends took for us while we were picking up our tree over the weekend. We’ve set it up–and it smells so good–but we’ve yet to string the lights or place any ornaments. We’re thinking about going lights-only this year, since Hudson would likely try and pull any ornaments down; and, as I noted in this little Kinfolk video, a simple tree can be really beautiful.

We went to the Boy Scouts tree lot this year–and Hudson was laughing and having a blast walking around in the muddy wood chips. Maybe next year we’ll take him into the foothills to cut our own. Or maybe we’ll go the potted tree route. (I read somewhere that you need to keep a faux tree for 20 years to make it more eco-friendly than a live tree, but that the most sustainable option of all–besides foregoing–is a potted tree. This company and this one rent them and then re-plant them! So brilliant.)

P.S. Our tree last year (look how little Hudson is!) in New York, and in California; and the year before, when it was just the two of us. (Or not really, since I was secretly pregnant!)

[Top two photos by our friend, Ben Brezing–thanks, Ben!]

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Gift Guide: For Her

COMMENTS:

(1) I’ve had these bags by Valhalla pinned for ages now. A very Brooklyn bag. (And P.S. Did you know you can buy Etsy gift cards now?)
(2) The Gilmore Girls Complete Series on DVD–because they’re not on Hulu or Netflix, darn it!
(3) Round out her collection with still-relevant, out-of-print issues of Domino Magazine.
(4) A beautiful Turkish Towel.
(5) Classic riding Boots will be a huge hit. It’s a thrill to open the giant box and get that whiff of leather. And these will last forever.
(6) These will come in handy when the weather warms up: A set of waxed canvas Panniers for riding bikes together.
(7) The new Eames coffee table book.
(8) I think the LemLem Split Scarf is gorgeous. But it’s the sort of thing I would never splurge on myself. I’m guessing there are many others out there who would love this just as much as I would.
(9) A gold-dotted dish for keeping her earrings in.
(10) Gorgeous coasters. I don’t actually like to make people use coasters, but for these might require an exception.
(11) A perfectly simple, gold, Michael Kors Women’s watch (that’s big enough to fit on a man’s wrist).

(12) All of the best cafes in New York seemed to use these Classic Italian Cappucino Cups.
(13) Cashmere socks  Completely decadent.
(14) Swedish Hasbeens 877 Zip It Emy Boots. These might be really for me.
(15) A trendy necklace for wearing with t-shirts and jeans.
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Gift Guide: For Him

COMMENTS:

(1) These aren’t cheap, but he only needs one great, classic pair of jeans.
(2) I really like the looks of these super-slim  J Fold Wallets.
(3) Who wouldn’t like a pair of wingtips? These from Frye are awesome, but Penguin has a good version too–for less!
(4) This helicopter may not last forever, but it’s crazy fun! Think obstacle course through your pendant lights… or maybe don’t… (I’ve actually wanted one forever.)
(5)  Timeless.
(6) Gin is undergoing a resurgence and this has long been one of my favorites. We recently had it over ice with sparkling grapefruit juice from Trader Joe’s and a sprig of rosemary. If he’s an independent sort of fellow, try this homemade gin kit.
(7) Because you never know when he is going to need a pen.
(8 & 9) I really enjoyed the new Babel by Mumford & Sons the first time I heard it, and I’m liking Grizzly Bear’s Shields more with every listen.
(10, not pictured)Ashley gave me this wonderful calendar of our family, it would be great any office.

And by the way, I get teased by Ashley that every link I send her lately is from the online flash sale site, Touch of Modern.

P.S. Last year’s guide for guys. And I stand by my (cheesy) tip: if you give anything to him with love, he will love it.

Coming up next… For Her.

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Gift Guide: For Her
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Gift Guide: For the Kiddo

COMMENTS:

(1) This Connectable Drinking Straw is such a simple gift, but it was a huge hit with my nephews
(2) The first thing Hudson did when he saw his new Petit Collage Acrylic Mirror was to kiss it. The second was to bang on it. I’m happy it’s acrylic.
(3) The Onion’s Great Escape: Fun and beautiful (for K and up).
(4) Battat Take Apart Crane. Because what’s better than a toy crane? A toy crane you take apart. With tools.
(5) These Kid O Floating Ducks are the best. They of course float, they’re practically indestructible, and they stay gunk free (especially nice since the little one seems to get carried around and sucked on from time to time). Oh, and they’re super attractive.
(6)Cheeky! A onesie from the New Museum for the new baby.
(7) For patient stacking or displaying: Croc Pile
(8) Sleepsacks are the best. I sort of wish I could use one myself. We have ones by aden + anais and Baby Deedee (so cozy!), but this Woodland DwellStudio Night Sack is awfully pretty.
(9) This cute Wheely Bug is low to the ground and easy-to-maneuver. It was tough getting Hudson off of the small one.
(10) It may be really for mom and dad, but wouldn’t a custom silhouette be nice? (Or you could try your hand at your own.)
(11) Charley Harper’s illustrations are my favorite.
(12) If they’re old enough for their own deck of cards, get them two sets of these limited editon (but super affordable) Tim Burton cards–from his retrospective at MoMA last year.

 

P.S. Coming later today: Aron’s gift guide for him and mine for her.
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