Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gift Guide: Grandparents

Grandparent Gifts

No one, and I mean no one, is harder to shop for than grandparents. They have everything they want, they don't want stuff, they know what they like, etc. But we want to do nice things for our elders, and there are some ways you can make their lives a little easier, more interesting or enjoyable.

  1. It is my experience that no grandma will turn down fancy lotions! I like this Lancome set, $70 at Sephora.
  2. If they're retired, odds are your grandparents aren't consuming nearly as much coffee as they used to. A cup here or there is nice, though, so maybe help them convert to Keurig. $120 at Overstock.
  3. Keep Nana hip and pretty with a stylish infinity scarf, $68 at J.Crew.
  4. My grandparents love their wireless TV headsets, which allow them to listen to TV at their own volumes and literally not even have the volume on the set itself. $180 at Amazon.
  5. Get your grandparents to set up with a gift certificate to, so they can not only document their priceless family knowledge, but dig even deeper. 
  6. This is ridiculous and not cheap, but if they're really into genealogy, you could go crazy and get them a DNA kit! $189 at Amazon.
  7. Keep Papa busy with a personalized puzzle, $24 at Pinhole Press.

Gift Guide: The Little Kiddos

Kiddo Gifts

I have a weakness for impractical, overpriced kids' stuff. It's honestly hard to even narrow down a list, but here are some extra stellar items I spotted while surfing the net!

  1. It is ridiculously expensive, but this J.Crew baby snowsuit is killing me with cuteness, $128.
  2. A cardboard ice cream truck is a great addition to any playroom, $60 at OTO.
  3. I want this trumpet kazoo for myself! $19 at the Cooper Hewitt store.
  4. EDIT: Forgot to post the link to this awesome hanging cocoon! How cool would it be in a backyard, on a porch or at a lakehouse? Not cheap, but fun for the whole family. $345.
  5. Duck decoy pillow by Thomas Paul, $28.
  6. Get your little one's motor runnin' with a stupid expensive rocking motorcycle, $292 from Etsy.
  7. I'm a little obsessed with all of the stuffed animals from Blabla, but I'm partial to the ballerina cats.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gift Guide: The Men in Your Life

Man Gifts

Seriously, men are the WORST to shop for. All the gift guides on the internet suggest what women want to buy men, not what they really want. And if they need something, they just buy it! Alas. My ideas are a little tech-heavy, but that's just the life I'm livin, folks.

  1. Upgrade the bookshelf in Dad's office with one from Book Shop, $129.
  2. OR, give him the perfect storage solution for his records/newspapers/comic books. $39 at Urban Outfitters.
  3. The future is now! Sync your computer screen with your TV using the new Chromecast, just $35.
  4. Perfect for road trips: the iPad car charger. $25 at Belkin.
  5. No room for a firepit? This little portable fire is a stylish alternative. $219 at Vuesso.
  6. Get him his very own grrrrrowler for those trips to craft breweries. $15 at West Elm.
  7. All my husband wants is the XBox One, at a hefty $500.
  8. Dad/Hubby can control outlets with his smartphone using WeMo!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gift Guide: Moms, Aunts and In-Laws

Mom Gifts

Whoops! Meant to post this earlier today...just one of those weeks already! For the lovely lady in your life, be she your mom, aunt, boss or mentor, spoil her a bit. Lord knows they spoil you a lot!

  1. Meyer lemon trees are lovely to look at, and useful, and survive the winter indoors! A 2-3 foot tree is regularly $99, although I just saw one for sale for $40!
  2. A timeless sweater, fit for Audrey, Laura Petrie and mom. $59 at Boden.
  3. Odds are she hasn't replaced any of her serveware or cutting boards in your lifetime. Get her a super fancy oak serving board, $49 at Gretel Home.
  4. Give her a beautiful gold bracelet stamped with a special date in roman numerals, $98 at Etsy.
  5. Macaron of the Month Club. Nuff said. 
  6. For ladies with black thumbs, get the Click and Grow, a high-tech pot that dispenses water as needed. $79.
  7. Turkish towels not only look beautiful, but are super absorbent and have multiple uses. Beat that, terrycloth! 
  8. Finally, a blinging mother-of-pearl watch, just because. $105 at Fossil.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gift Guide: Your Beautiful Bestie

It's that time again! We're headed straight for the best discounts of the year, so I wanted to share some gift ideas to jumpstart your inspiration. I've been poking around the internet for ideas for my family and friends, and here are some items I came across in the process. Here are some gift ideas for your best gal pals!

Gal Pal Gifts

  1. Whether it's Drybar or a copycat, get her a gift certificate for an amazing blowout. There's no better confidence booster than a good hair day!
  2. For the holidays or year-round, this paper Moravian star would be a pretty addition to anyone's house. $28 at Serena and Lily.
  3. Fill this pretty tin box with your favorite recipes and your gift will truly keep on giving. $34 at Rifle Paper Co.
  4. Give her a great base to start from with the Benefit Primping With the Stars set, including primers, concealers and cheek stain. $32 at Sephora. 
  5. A beautiful jewelry holder that looks like sculpture. $29 at West Elm.
  6. Let's admit it: we can't tell what the heck our wine smells like. For the burgeoning oenophile in your life, get this scratch & sniff wine guide. $13 at Amazon.
  7. And it would be even better paired with one of Rewined's divine wine-scented candles, $26.
  8. Has she been stressed? Give her a book full of laughs with the new book from Hyperbole and a Half. $11 at Amazon.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Best v.181

When two people are as famous as John and Jackie Kennedy, it's easy to forget they were ever real people. We've been reflecting on his assassination this week, and it still feels just as painful to imagine the national sense of loss. I like this picture of happier times, but here are more pictures of JFK.

We've had a busy weekend! I saw Catching Fire and LOVED it, walked in a Christmas parade (for the fourth time in seven years...I'm becoming a pro!) and just hosted friends for dinner. I'm getting very excited for the holiday season!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I Can't Quit You, Beef

I've been insanely busy at work, but I had to check in to say: guys, ground turkey is just not as good. I've tried to convert Sean to turkey burgers and the other day, to turkey chili, but y''s hard to convince myself!

Am I the only one, or are you all lying when you say turkey everything is delicious? I even hated the smell. Once I was eating the chili, it wasn't so bad, but I'm thinking the cheese and Fritos I insisted on adding might have removed some of the health value of using turkey. I totally doused it in spices, but maybe you guys have some other tips to mask its essential turkey-ness?

In summation: eatin' healthier is hard, surprise surprise.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Birthday Dinner 2013

 I had to work on my real birthday, but much to my delight, Sean made reservations Saturday night at Circa 1918, a restaurant I've been dying to try since it opened several years ago. We have a bad habit of always trying to go without reservations, and that never works out. Happily, it lived up to the hype.

I sipped on a delicious Ava Gardner — Stoli, St. Germain and berry compote.

 For dinner, I had perfectly cooked beef tenderloin, with garlicky green beans and the most DIVINE butternut squash gouda gratin. I will be dreaming of that gratin for years, seriously.

 I also had a great pear martini!

And we finished up with warm pumpkin donuts with walnuts and an Irish Cream sauce. So good!

Afterward, we went to see "12 Years a Slave," which left me in shambles, but was profoundly moving. I spent the rest of the weekend relaxing to the max, which is what I truly needed after working and socializing at a breakneck pace lately.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Best v.180

The Cup of Tea by Mary Cassatt

I've had a nice birthday weekend, with a fun midnight margarita run on Friday night and a delicious dinner/movie night with Sean on Saturday night. I relished some down time Saturday to catch up on interesting articles online, so I have plenty of awesome links for you this week!

Friday, November 15, 2013

29 Years

 Me and my dad, blowing out some birthday candles (I think it was his birthday, not mine).

Oh yeah, I'm a grown-up.

Today I'm 29, which means I'm officially in the last year of my 20s. It's funny thinking about all the things you hoped you would have accomplished by 30 that you haven't (a graduate degree, bought a house, live in a major metro, have a kid, have a pet) and all the things you have (lived in 3 different cities, change careers, get married, travel out of the country). 

I really appreciate this age...I think it's one of the best stages of life I could imagine. I'm young enough to still be a little footloose and fancy free, but I'm old enough to have learned a lot about how the world works. I'm glad not to be 22, you know?

Just for fun, I thought I'd share these random facts I shared on Facebook last night about myself. I'm sure it will be interesting to look back on this list someday!

1. I can't whistle at all.
2. I have to read every night before bed or I will not go to sleep.
3. I have always secretly enjoyed writing research papers, which is probably why journalism was a natural fit.
4. My favorite dinosaur is the stegosaurus, because it's an herbivore that can still eff you up!
5. I wikipedia/google EVERYTHING.
6. I've had a subscription to Entertainment Weekly since I was 9.
7. I'm a super picky eater when it comes to consistency and texture.
8. I love to play made-up road trip games, like "Most Random Celebrity Crushes" and "Guess the Price of These Items in Architectural Digest."
9. I hate to play Scrabble.
10. I'm one-quarter Puerto Rican and I don't speak Spanish.
11. I didn't learn how to cook anything until I was 24.
12. I care an inordinate amount about the design of things, from fonts to candle jars.
13. My mom gave me historical fashion paper dolls and ballet history coloring pages as a kid and I was OBSESSED.
14. If I don't have chocolate in the house, I go a little cuckoo.
15. I'm named after a fantasy novel.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Best v.179

Round Hill by Alex Katz.

I hope the weekend's been treating you right! We are in New Jersey, visiting with my grandparents, but that doesn't mean I don't have some links saved for your reading pleasure. Here's some of the best I saw this week:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wine Club Paints!

Last night, Wine Club took a walk on the artistic side and completed masterpieces in the Sip & Sample class at the local art center. Rather than paint identical pictures that were pre-drawn for us to fill in, we painted completely original pieces with the encouragement of our instructor. She suggested using fingers to paint abstract pieces and this was mine! It was a fun adventure in improvisation.

We were able to bring snacks and our own wine, so that made it like a little party.

 Lauren hard at work on hers!

 Jen painted a very Van Gogh-ish pot of flowers that was beautiful.

The end results: my abstract + Lauren's awesome ode to the 80s boombox.

Needless to say, it was a fun outing and now we're talking about all the other classes we could take, from glassblowing to ceramics. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Easy Baked Gnocchi with Sausage

Here's what you could do. You could make this dish with ricotta, fresh basil, real tomatoes, handmade gnocchi and onions/peppers and I can promise it would probably be complex, rich, flavorful and all around fabulous.

But if you're pressed for time/energy/creativity, you can also do my cheater, easy version and also have a rich, flavorful and all around fabulous dinner.

Here's what you can do if you fall into the latter category:

  1. Boil water for gnocchi and preheat the oven to 425.
  2. In another skillet/pot, brown ground sausage and once fully cooked, add jarred pasta sauce with a little extra garlic.
  3. Add gnocchi to boiling water and cook until the gnocchi floats to the top, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked gnocchi to the sausage sauce and mix until it's coated. 
  5. Add the gnocchi and sausage to a baking dish coated in cooking spray and layer it with shredded mozzarella cheese, with a layer on top for good measure. Pop that bad boy into the oven and watch it until the cheese is melted.
  6. Turn on the broiler and wait until your cheese begins to bubble and brown. That right there is where the magic lives!
  7. Eat. You'll experience deep feelings of bliss, followed by deep feelings of, "ooof why did I eat so much?" 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Best v.178

Beautiful photo by the recently deceased Deborah Turbeville

I spent the weekend shopping with my best friend since 4th much fun! I don't know where the year went, but I'm already realizing it's time to shop for Christmas! Hitting the stores this weekend really drove that idea home...don't dare enter if you're not ready to feel the pressure.