Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gift Guide: For the Kiddos

I said when I started with these gift guides that I would be following the "do what you know" philosophy and posting only ideas on gifts for women.  But by popular request (i.e. request of my bff), I bring you a gift guide for kiddos!


My first piece of advice about giving gifts to kids is to ask their parents what they want or need.  In my case, most of the kids I know are children of my friends.  These friends are my age or a little older, so they are "young" moms.  There may be things that their kids actually need!  Kids grow very fast.  Unlike us, they need new coats, hats and shoes each winter because the old ones no longer fit properly.  I always like to ask what my kids friends might want or need for birthdays and holidays because I think in some instances, my friends feel more comfortable telling me that the child could use a new pair of shoes for when he grows out of his current ones than they might be telling that same thing to a family or work friend. 


In the case of needing clothes or shoes, here are some of my favorite choices for kids: Target, Old Navy, Stride Rite, Baby Gap/ Gap Kids, Carter's, The Children's Place, Etsy, Zulily (daily deals site), eBay.  Used clothing is great for kids- oftentimes you can find brand new or hardly used clothing or shoes at local consignment sales, garage sales or on eBay. 


But what if you don't feel comfortable asking what a child needs? Or what if a parent doesn't have any gift ideas for you?  Here are my favorite gifts for little kids.




Books
I love Karen Katz books for babies and toddlers.  Learning books of numbers, shapes, and colors are also great! You can always go with a classic like The Runaway Bunny or The Rainbow Fish.  Dr. Seuss books are another fun option.
Puzzles
Puzzles are a big thing right now! Many puzzles even make noises of cars or animals or even saying the "ABCs" out loud. I love puzzles because kids can learn so much from them but have fun too.  


Musical Toys
Kids of all ages LOVE noise and music.  Plus musical toys help babies and toddlers with motor skills.  Win-win.  


As a final note, bath toys like bath markers and pajamas are also great gifts for kids! 


For older kids, I usually try to go with a gift associated with a hobby for them.  For example, my 11 year old cousin is really into hockey, so I might look for a t-shirt from his favorite team.  Money is also always a big hit with "older" kids and you can just give them $20 in a card and they will think they've hit the jackpot!  Etsy is also a great source for unique fan paraphernalia.  I got a kid in my life a Justin Bieber shirt from Etsy that is super unique and age-appropriate. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gift Guide: For the Eclectic Friend


ec·lec·tic/iˈklektik/


Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.


We all know at least one person whose style we would describe as "eclectic."  (Not to be confused with eccentric, although the two sometimes go hand in hand.)  It is pretty obvious from the name of this blog that I categorize myself this way.  I think "eclectic" people can be so tough to buy gifts for because to others, it may seem like there is little rhyme or reason to what they like.  I know I am this way.  People have to get to know me pretty well to be able to surprise me with gifts I really like.  Here are some ideas- some affordable and some more lavish- for the eclectic ones in your life.


I am absolutely OBSESSED with these beautiful glass ornaments.  They have been everywhere this holiday season- these are from Crate & Barrel and they come in several different colors.  These are no longer available online, but if you are lucky you can find them in stores (I believe other colors are still available online).  At less than $3 (!!!) they are a super affordable and chic gift.


I'm also obsessed with this Christmas tree garland made out of vintage Indian saris.  It is so unique! I think I'll be asking for a couple of these for Christmas.  They are $20 for six feet, but I think I may just ask for them instead of waiting for them to go on sale because I love them so much! At $20, it's an affordable luxury that I'd enjoy for years to come.


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Domino: The Book of Decorating is a perfect gift for anyone who loves home décor. Available on amazon for just over $21, this book features beautiful rooms of all different aesthetics- there is truly something for every décor lover in this book! 


I'm definitely a sucker for needlepoint, and this punchy pillow is the perfect touch of humor for any room.  It is absolutely a splurge at $165, but it is so unique and fun!


These hobnail glass candles from Simpatico are so fabulous.  They look beautiful and smell incredible- the smell is very light and I love it because it gives my apartment a great smell without overwhelming me.  At $28.00, these make a great gift because they are a reasonable gift but not something I would typically buy for myself. They are available from anthropologie and frankly, it seems wrong to not include anthropologie in this post since I think most "eclectic" friends would love anything they sell! 


For a touch of modern, these notecards by R. Nichols are great and fresh! There are tons of options and they are all moderately priced at $18.  You can even add your name to them for a small fee!  I first saw these on Rosa Loves DC and I fell in love! 


These monogram stands would be great gifts for a newlywed friend or someone who just loves monograms and typography.  They are $24 from anthropologie. 


This world map is super cool and unique.  It would be great for a friend who loves to travel.  The watercolor effect gives it a very special feel. These are very affordable, starting at $14.29.


Hope you found a great idea for a friend here! I know I would love to receive any of these items, but I would also get a lot of joy out of giving one as a gift! 


Disclaimer: all of these products were found by me. I do not own any of these (yet) and no company has asked me to promote them. All opinions expressed here are 100% my own! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gift Guide: For the Gal Who Has It All

Last night at Blogger Blitz we were talking about the fact that maybe these gift guides floating around the interwebs are happening too late.  I see that point as most of my shopping is done for this year (yay me!).  I'll have to keep that in mind for next year.  In case you are still shopping, here are some affordable ideas for your hard-to-buy-for friend or family member who seems to have everything already! 

I've said before that I love my Land's End Tote Bag.  I have a medium size open-top tote and it is great for school or work or running errands around town.  This season, I'm wanting to add a large bag to my collection and I think I'm going to go with a zip-top so I can use it for airplane travel.  And of course, I would opt to add my monogram.  The large size of this tote is $36.50 plus $6 for monogramming but Land's End offers other sizes at different prices. 


Yall know I also love my Tervis Tumblers and in my opinion, you can never have enough of these!  I have 4 24-ounce tumblers that I use in a rotation.  Love them and cannot get enough! I think I would like to add a mug to my collection eventually.  This would be great to keep at work for hot tea during the work day.  They are microwave safe, after all!  These are $15.00 for the mug- other sizes are offered at different prices. 

Yall know I also love me some Bobbi Brown! This "Classic To Go" Palette from Bobbi Brown is incredible! It would fit perfectly in your purse for touchups from day to day.  The shades are classic and can be worn by anyone.  At $25, this would make a thoughtful gift for a sister or friend. 

This crossbody bag from DSW would be great for any young woman!  It is perfect to carry the essentials.  At $70, it would be a bit of a splurge, but it is still within reason.


I absolutely love these small earrings from Nordstrom Rack.  They are a bargain at $30 (marked down from $78) and I just ordered a pair for myself!  A girl can never have too many earrings and these come in a few color options (2 options still available) and would go with so much! 

Need gift ideas for someone? Let me know via email or comment! A gift guide for "eclectic" friends will be featured on the blog later this week!  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Reader Is OOC

Well my Google Reader is now officially out of control.  Don't believe me?  I have proof.
Can you read that I have 317 new items???? That's crazy!  The reason for that is that tonight I attended DC Blogger Blitz hosted by the fabulous Alison from Long Distance Loving.  I emailed Alison this summer after she wrote a post about sun safety and she was so kind to email me a recommendation for a dermatologist in DC.  Well, we got a chance to meet tonight and speak briefly and let me tell you, she is just as genuine in person as she seems on her blog.  What a sweetheart!  


Alison was kind enough to instigate and plan the whole blogger get together.  She made some fab name tags and directories so all the bloggers could find each other's blogs after the event.  I'm really really excited to start reading some more local-to-me- blogs!  I will also add these lovely blogs to my "DC Bloggers" tab over on the right side of my blog.  I hope you will follow some of these lovely women.  It was great to get out of the house and meet some new folks.


This is the second time I have attended a local bloggers get-together and I have to say that I'm continuously impressed by the bloggers I've met.  Most of the people are so genuine and lovely!   I'm so impressed by these women who can come up with creative and fun content all the time.


I think it is important to remember that when you read a blog, you are only seeing a very small part of someone's life.  I imagine that it can be easy to forget that, especially if you are a blog reader but don't have a blog that you write or edit.  For me, blogging is 100% a fun hobby and I'm so glad that I've been able to make a few "real life" connections with fellow bloggers.  


Cheers to all the bloggers who are now reading along after Blogger Blitz DC!  I hope you will find something worthwhile on this blog. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gift Guide: 15 under $15.00

My first request for a gift guide came from my friend Jenn.  Here's what Jenn had to say:

Oooh I'm having trouble thinking of stuff for coworkers... I have one close friend that I work with that's easy to buy for, but there are two other women in my office that I feel I should get something for. Preferably inexpensive :)

Don't we ALL have people like this in our lives? People who are definitely important to us and who we want to appreciate this holiday season, but who may be difficult to buy for- especially when we are on a budget!  And let me tell you something- everyone has a budget, whether it's a big budget or a small budget!  I 100% believe that with gifts, the thought counts more than anything.  So here are fifteen fun store-bought gifts that are all under $15.  Yes! under $15. Okay... I lied. One of them is $16.00.  But that's still pretty great! There are lots of ideas in this post, so hopefully you may find at least one of them useful!  

I tried to go with items on this list that would be fun at the office, since Jenn originally asked for ideas for coworkers.  I don't know about you but my office is SO GREY!!! Yuck! I try not to make anything too permanent at my desks since I've always been "just" an intern, but I'm gonna have to jazz things up pretty soon just for my own personal sanity! 











(these say "i was never meant to work")




this would make a great pencil holder!

this would be so cute for paper clips & binder clips!

Having trouble finding the perfect gift for someone? Let me know and I'll try to help find something awesome!


Disclaimer: all of these products were found by me. I do not own any of these (yet) and no company has asked me to promote them. All opinions expressed here are 100% my own! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Updates & A Request

Greetings, blogland!  I hope if you are reading this, you enjoyed a healthy and restful Thanksgiving holiday.  I had a nice trip to visit family, but I have to say that I was itching to get back to D.C. for once in my life.  I am just ready to get this semester of grad school wrapped up and put away!  Several things have been on my mind, so please excuse the hodgepodge and please jump in to express your opinion if you'd like to!
  • I've noticed lately that it really gets under my skin when bloggers repeatedly publish spelling or grammar errors in their blog posts.  I know that I'm not perfect and I do not expect anyone else to be perfect.  I can forgive an occasional mistake. Even though I proofread, I know I will sometimes make mistakes too and hopefully, as my readers, you can forgive me.  That said, I think I may need to unfollow a few blogs based on mistakes made over and over again.  I think this standard applies even more to bloggers whose blogs are monetized.  I do not make money off of this blog but I know that plenty of bloggers rely on their blogs as their secondary or primary sources of income.  I support those blogs by reading them so clearly, I have no problem with this. However, if I made grammar and spelling mistakes all the time at work, I wouldn't have a job.  The fact that some bloggers are so lazy that they admit to completely skipping the proofreading process all the time drives me crazy!  (I'm sure we all skip that process from time to time, but some people make a habit of it.) If you blog and make money from that blog, your blog is a professional activity for you.  As such, you should treat it and your readers with the same professional courtesies as you would treat your "customers" in the workplace- whether those customers are internal to your organization (your boss or coworkers) or external.  I will get off my soapbox now, but I just had to get that off my chest!  For the record, if you ever spot a mistake in my blog posts, let me know! 
  • I am gearing up to put together some gift guides for the holidays.  I did this last year, but I'm hoping this year's guides will be even better.  I've decided to focus 100% on gift guides for women as I'm basically worthless when it comes to knowing what a guy might like to receive for the holidays- I buy my dad and brother the same things year after year. 
  • For these gift guides, please let me know if you'd like to see gift ideas for a specific person! I've realized that in the past few months, I've provided several people with advice on birthday gifts, holiday gifts and hostess gifts.  I love trying to think of something that the recipient would like and most of the time the ideas I come up with work quite well!  One of my friends likes to joke that I should abandon my professional pursuits and become a personal shopper- haha!  Anyway, if you have a friend or family member who is crazy difficult to buy for (I am in this category myself) let me know about her and some of the things she likes and I'll see what I can come up with!  Feel free to let me know a budget too.
  • The SEC Championship Game is this Saturday and boy am I excited to see LSU whoop up on Georgia!  (Yes, "whoop up on" is a technical term...)  I took advantage of the Cyber Monday deals and ordered a new television.  I currently own a 22 inch tv and I will be moving to a 46 inch tv.  It may be far too big for my apartment, but we will see!  We will definitely feel like we are AT the game when we watch it on tv!
  • Is anyone else just not really into decorating for Christmas this year? Normally I jump right on it, but since I'm only going to be in DC until mid-December this year, it seems almost pointless to me to decorate.  I do have the decorations taking up prime real estate in my closet though, so I'll be pulling them out sometime this week or weekend.
Hope you have a great week! Thanks for reading this word-filled, pictureless post!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

color me happy

As I mentioned in my last post, I feel like the holiday season has hit me a lot earlier this year than it has in the past.  I also think that retailers have been springing into the season earlier this year and I've noticed that COLOR is everywhere for the holidays!  I love seeing all the bright colors all over the place!  I thought I would use this post to highlight some happy & colorful items.

My friend & fellow blogger Andi made these super fun christmas light decorations.  She even did a tutorial on how you can make them yourself (and is giving some away!).  I just think they are so cute and I would love to have some in a vase like this on my desk at work.  They would be such a fun way to bring in the holiday spirit without going overboard.
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Check out these fun champagne glasses.  Wouldn't they be a wonderful pop of color for a Thanksgiving or Christmas table?
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Kate Spade's color of the month this month is "multi color."  They have TONS of fun, bright products available right now.  Just check out the header to the kate spade blog:
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This thermos from kate spade has got to be one of my favorites.
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I am also absolutely loving all of kate spade's holiday cards, but I think that's a post for another day!

This scarf from anthropologie is another great pop of color! it would be perfect to brighten-up an otherwise drab winter day.
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Finally, I love this living room inspiration photo from marthastewart.com.

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What has been making you happy lately?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Is It Really That Time... Already?

Is it just me, or are people buzzing about Christmas way earlier this year?  I feel like an old fuddy duddy saying this, but when I was a kid, I really thought the Christmas rush didn't start until after Thanksgiving.  Maybe I am just more aware now.

At any rate, I recently started putting together a list of what I need to buy for Christmas in an attempt to start buying now and buy gifts gradually.  This will be really helpful for my bank account, I hope. It will also give me more time to find things I really like for people.  As much as I hate spending the money, I do enjoy the process of finding gifts for others (and hey, for myself!) and I'm told by a lot of people that I have great taste, so hopefully they like what I pick.  Of course, there are the standard hard-to-buy-for people on my list.  I have just learned to coax such people into telling me about SOMETHING that they want! Anything! 

This Christmas, I'm really going to make it a focus of mine to buy gifts from small businesses as much as possible- through etsy and through online websites.  It is so easy to support small businesses from wherever you are these days! 

I am definitely noticing some trends in potential holiday gifts.  There have been some wonderful DIY ideas floating around on pinterest.  Everything from jolly rancher-infused vodka to homemade hand and foot sugar and salt scrubs.  In the past, I've gone for homemade baked goodies as gifts for people and I still may do that this year.  

Otherwise, I'm really feeling monogramed gifts this Christmas.  I'm sure I'll post some ideas about what's on my list when I figure that out!  I'm trying to make more effective use of pinterest as a tool by "pinning" great gift ideas that I find online so I don't lose track of them. 

Are you ready for the season yet? 

Oh yes- and for posterity's sake, congratulations to my newly engaged best friend, Miss Courtney!  I'm sure her wedding happenings will be well documented on this blog... eventually! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lessons From My Mother on Her Birthday

Today is my mother's birthday. Normally, it is a day I would readily recognize on this blog, but because I lost my mom two years ago, it is hard to know what to do with this day.  Part of me wants to celebrate it because we always celebrated it together when she was with me physically.  I'm still adjusting to a life without her physical presence, so navigating things like her birthday and Mother's Day are still a bit tricky and difficult. On one hand, I want to be happy and remember the good times.  On the other other hand, not being able to call her or send her a card or gift breaks my heart all over again. But not recognizing this day just doesn't seem like the right thing to do either.  So I decided to share some of the important life lessons I learned from her in honor (and memory) of her birthday.
My first mardi gras.
  1. You know a place is "home" to you when your body feels lighter just by being there.
  2. A woman's place is in the House. And the Senate.
  3. Re: the statement above. Women make policy, not coffee.
  4. Gris gris [pronounced: gree gree, rhymes with "brie" cheese- I'm terrible at explaining this] is a vital thing as a fan of LSU football.  Gris gris, in our family, is defined as the superstitious articles you wear or display on gameday.  If the Tigers lose and you were missing part of your gris gris, you may be the sole cause.
  5. Life is short. 
  6. Eliza (le dog) can understand every word I say and I should always communicate with her.
  7. In fact, you can have too many plain colored t-shirts. 
  8. There is little in the world that can rival Mexican food in goodness and good times. (And by Mexican, I mean cheap Tex-Mex.)
  9. Love You Forever is a great children's book.  And makes me cry like a child nowadays.
  10. Nothing says "Christmas" quite like Mariah Carey's original Christmas album or The Carpenter's Christmas album. 
  11. Celebrate Halloween with children!
  12. Serve others.
  13. If you need to get your emotions out, trying writing them down and seeing if that gives you relief.
  14. Appreciate old friends.
  15. Try to let other people in your life do things for you. Other people need to be needed just as you do.
  16. Always, always, always smile at babies! And talk to them in a soothing voice! And hold them every chance you get.
  17. How to make a mean queso dip.  More importantly, how to enjoy a mean queso dip. 
  18. How to make a TON of Christmas cookies as gifts for friends. Homemade, hand decorated cookies are best. 
  19. Travel! Everywhere!
  20. Good music + open road = possible speeding ticket when you look down at the speedometer and realize you are going 15 over. 

Not to sound preachy, but if you can, call your mother today. Even better if you can give her a hug in person. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Making Plans

Update: I don't know what's up with the embed feature on pinterest.  When I wrote this post and scheduled it, everything looked perfect. When I saw it this morning, everything had gone haywire.  I fixed the order of the pictures, but I'm not sure if the embed feature is working at all- my apologies.  If anyone is interested in where something came from (you'd be able to find that through pinterest if the feature was working properly!!) just let me know and I'm more than happy to share. It is also making my spaceing really spastic which is driving me crazy, but oh well.  My non-html savvy self can only do so much!

I wrote a previous post about wanting to make some changes to the "bedroom" in my apartment.  (Since I live in a studio, it is more like a bedroom area than an actual bedroom.)  Since that post, I've made some progress & decisions about the direction I want to go in.  As I said before, I am trying to be a little more intentional about decorating in this go-round.  When I first decorated my place, I was in such a hurry to get it all done that I didn't give a ton of thought to things.  I'm still very happy with the result, but I just wanted to try something different this time around to see how it goes. 


So, here's where I am so far:


First of all, I decided to use the lamp I posted about yesterday as my color inspiration. 


You can follow this embedded feature to a website that has some wonderful color palette inspirations! This is the closest I could find to what I'm thinking of, but I think I want something a little softer overall.  





I also ordered this bedding set from Rue La La.  It (still!) hasn't arrived, so I'm not 100% committed to it, but I think it is a great starting point and will add a modern element to the "design."  Instead of accenting with coral, I will be accenting with purple tones and a hint of green.





I also ordered the quilt in the picture below for the bed in the lilac color.  (I found it on ebay for a deep discount!) 





I know I want to keep the rest of the bed simple with neutral sheets in a beige or linen tone, or perhaps an extremely subtle pattern.  I'm planning to scout out some sheet sources and add those to my Christmas wish list since I know the sheets can definitely wait a while. By the way: do you have a favorite type or brand of sheets? My favorites came with a "bed in a bag" so of course I cannot find similar ones. 


In terms of the pillows, the bedspread has two matching shams.  I didn't order matching Euro shams for the quilt, but I think I may try to scout some out on ebay so the bed stays streamlined. Since I want to accent the bed with a big lumbar or bolster pillow, I think three main fabrics (four counting sheets) will be plenty!  Speaking of accent fabrics, here is the one I'm currently leaning towards:





So what are your thoughts on my plans? Crazy? Boring? Somewhere in the middle? 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Recap

Well this is going to be a very brief post because I'm a bad blogger and I took virtually no pictures on Halloween.  But, I do want to share what I came up with for a costume because it was AWESOME.  

Yall know how I feel about them royals by now, so this should be no surprise.  Here was my Halloween inspiration:
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And, I might add that I came up with this all on my own wayyyy before the Today Show cast did the same thing, m'kay? 

Anyway, since I didn't have a costume designer, I made do by myself.  The hat was really the key thing- the rest of my outfit were pieces I already owned.  For the top- I ordered something I knew I could wear again.
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I found the hat online and ordered it. Don't ask me what she's doing in that picture though because I have no clue. 

For the rest of the outfit, I wore a khaki skirt I already owned and some boots because it snowed here the day I went out!  As a bonus, we celebrated Halloween at my work, so I got to wear the outfit twice!  Really though, people either got the reference from the hat or they didn't, so the rest of the outfit just had to "go" instead of replicate. I would say that most women got the reference right off the bat.  And it was a big hit with them!  One man asked me if I was a cartoon character and I made another mad with my "snobbish" references to fascinators.  Men!  Who needs em?!  (Don't answer that. No really, don't.) 

Anywho, I could care less if anyone else liked my costume because it was SO MUCH FLIPPIN FUN to wear!  I am usually that person who doesn't do anything on Halloween because I can't think of a costume that I like.  And to me, you need to have fun wearing it! What's the point if you don't? Mission accomplished on that front for me this year.

I also made these pumpkin pecan spice cupcakes for work on Monday.  (That is not my picture, by the way- click through for the source!)
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I must say, they were delish! I even made them twice because I forgot to add the oil to the first batch.  Genius!  But even the defunct set tasted good! 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Souvenirs

The French term "se souvenir de" means "to remember."  This is where we get the English term "souvenir." 

I was randomly thinking the other day about my favorite things in my apartment. I must admit that my favorite things all have something in common: they are connected to great memories.  I'm a very sentimental person, so really this makes a lot of sense for me.  So, what are the stories behind some of my favorite things?


I think my absolute favorite thing in my apartment is the lamp above.  It belonged to my mom and I inherited it from her.  It was made (Yes! Made!) by her uncle.  Isn't that crazy? He made the stained glass shade!  I just love stained glass windows and this lamp is no exception to my love for stained glass. The fleur de lis is the flower of France, but also an important symbol for Louisiana.  It is also meant to represent the Iris, which was my mom's favorite flower and is the state flower of Tennessee.  Finally, the colors are very reminiscent of the Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold and green which I love. 


This piece of art is so unique! It is hard to tell from this picture, but it is a teeny-tiny pen and ink sketch of Paris.  The thing that makes this really unique is that the drawing is done on the back of a Parisian metro ticket.  I bought this at a little art market in Paris. I only wish I'd been able to afford some substantial art at that market because there was another artist selling fabulous paintings inspired by the Luxembourg Gardens! 


I've mentioned this before, but I love this print because it represents a great vacation I had in France.  (This post totally makes it sound like I summered in France growing up or something which is VERY far from the truth!! But I was a French major in college...)  The poster was also relatively difficult to track down, but the powers of the internet gave me some help! 

So, those are my favorite things in my home. I'm actually picking out my new bedding for my bed based on the lamp colors, so I'm excited and anxious to see how that all comes together.