12.21.2011

Get Crafty:

This time of year, I barely have time to eat a proper meal, nevermind make a craft. From scratch. I actually have a fun craft planned for the kids to do--I thought of it like, a month ago--and we haven't even thought about starting it.

However, Trader Joe's--purveyor of the quick and easy appetizer (once we did a whole party with TJ's appetizers, and people just kept raving about it. So delish, and so easy. God, I love Trader Joe's)--makes it, well, quick and easy, with their holiday bags. Want to get all DIY this holiday? Grab your scissors, and maybe some tape, and cut out their holiday gift tags...




or their festive holiday garland, printed on the sides of the bag.


Now this is a craft I can get behind... and since I'm getting so many TJ's bags, I may as well fill them with their awesome selection of heat and serve meals, because clearly I am lacking in that department, too.

12.20.2011

Sing:

I've already admitted that I love, love, LOVE Christmas music. I've been listening to it since mid-November, and I'd listen to it for another month and a half if I could. But deep down, there's something... not quite right about some of these songs. Let's examine:



Baby, It's Cold Outside: Well this is the most obvious questionable holiday song: "Say, what's in this drink?" Yep, it's the official date-rape holiday song.



Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer: "All of the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names..." So, this Christmas song is about bullying someone because of their unconventional looks, until the bullies need their help. Then they're just going to put all that bullying aside and guide that sleigh like nothing ever happened. Uh-huh.



There's No Place Like Home For the Holidays: Perry Cuomo is a little TOO happy about the traffic being "terrific." Nobody's ever that happy about holiday traffic, and terrific is probably the worst adjective ever to describe it.



Frosty the Snowman: Lawlessness, and global warming.



I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus: Uh, hey there, mom. I was sneaking around the house--when I was supposed to be sleeping--and I kind of caught you not only kissing Santa, but you were, uh, tickling him too. Somehow I don't think it would have been a "laugh" if daddy had seen.

So there you have it; Christmas songs, while on the surface are fun sing along songs, deep down they're pretty messed up. Have any others that I might have missed? Hit me up in the comments!


12.19.2011

Gift Guide: Hosts

With a less than a week before Christmas, I'm closing out the gift guide series with host gifts. This time of year I feel like we're going, going, going--little trinkets like these are sure to be appreciated by your party's host (or, you know, more presents!).


  1. OK, a bottle of wine is a sure thing. I know I've said before, I'm a total label snob and will NOT buy a bottle of Mommy's Time Out simply because the label sucks. However, the Bellus label is something I can get behind (probably because I helped design it). It helps that it's actually an awesome-tasting wine, as well. Added bonus: a portion of the proceeds go to the Tory Burch foundation. $19.99 at Crush Wines and Spirits
  2. Now that you've got your wine, you'll need something to pour it into. These glass bottles with wood stoppers are gorgeous alone, but add the fact that they can be personalized? Lovely. $29 at West Elm
  3. I've read that if you are going to bring your host flowers, bring them pre-cut in a vase. That way the host doesn't have to leave the party for long to prep the flowers. Totally brills idea, and plus, who doesn't want this gorgeous vase? $29.95 at Crate and Barrel
  4. In charge of dessert? Crumbs cupcakes are a sure thing. They conveniently come in mini 12 packs of different flavors (hint: you might want to get more than 1 package. Sometimes 12 mini cupcakes just aren't enough. Right, Marcy?) $24 for 12 mini cupcakes, at Crumbs
  5. What hostess couldn't use a new tray? Dwell Studio's patterns are beautiful, and they transfer wonderfully to home goods like this. $62.50 at Dwell Studio
  6. Is your host a foodie? Look no further than this sampler pack of olive oil. Hint: if you are coming to my house, this is an awesome host gift. $39 at O & Co.
  7. Personalized mugs are all the rage. Fill one with K-cups or those Starbucks Via individual coffee packs--or even better, hot cocoa and marshmallows. $6 at West Elm
  8. If your host is a baker, why not add some whimsy to their kitchen with this awesome rolling pin? It's so cute, it might make a better display item, than actual rolling pin. $18 at anthropologie
Gift cards also make great host gifts: Starbucks, your host's favorite restaurant, or--especially for women--a spa pedicure are awesome and are always appreciated (especially if I am your host). 

This is it, guys. This concludes my gift guides for 2011. If you're anything like me, you're already bought and wrapped, and these are more pretty things to look at. HA! I'm totally kidding, you guys! It's 6 days till Christmas and I am more unprepared than ever! As I've been working on these guides, I've been all, oooohhhh, that's a good idea for so and so! There are 5 shopping days left, and I plan on utilizing that time right up until the last second (hello, I made 4 trips to Target alone last week!). So if you're anything like me, give me a buzz and let's panic shop together! 


12.15.2011

Gift Guide: kids

It's kind of hard to put together a general children's gift guide, because their likes and dislikes vary by age. But I did my best putting together a little something for everyone ages 10 and under. 


  1. The clothes at Tea Collection are so darn adorable, and to get 5 mix and match pieces of clothing for $130? That's a pretty good bargain. Of course, you could always get just one outfit... but consider the source here, people. If I'm buying clothes, of course I'm opting for the mix and match set of 5 (also available in boys)! Girls clothing set from Tea Collection, $129
  2. What child doesn't like music? Problem is, most kids music... well, sucks. Kidz Bop is awful--I'd rather let my kids listen to the original song, thank you very much. Original kids music can be a total snoozefest. Fortunately, Laurie Berkner and her band do a great job of performing kid-friendly pop that's not too bad for adults, either (that is, as far as kids music goes). Hey, at least it's not the Wiggles. Kickin' it old school on CD, $8.99 at Amazon
  3. Kids are creative naturally. Think of all the times that they get a gift, and the box is more enticing. That's why this I'm Not Bored Anymore Art Jar is great: it's literally a craft supply store in a jar. Set them up and let their imaginations run wild. $29.00 at Land of Nod
  4. OK, technically, you can't buy a child an app--but if their parents have an iPhone or iPad, then an iTunes gift card makes a great gift. Forget Angry Birds--there are so many book/activity apps, and Mo Willem's famous Pigeon is sure not to disappoint. $6.99 at iTunes
  5. I really can't think of a better gift for a child than a book. And what child wouldn't love this one: press the yellow dot, turn the page, and voila! 2 dots! This book is pretty much the opposite of an app, yet is about as interactive as a book gets. $8.12 at Amazon
  6. Animal hats seem to be all the rage this year, and they don't come much cuter than these kitty hat and mittens from Mini Boden. $30 at Mini Boden
  7. Babies are pretty adorable to begin with--but put these awesomely adorable Dwell Studio PJs on them, and poof! They become masters of cuteness. Seriously, I am cooing over these PJs, and there's not even a baby in the photo! $32 at Dwell Studio
  8. These blocks might make it to MY Christmas list, they look so fun. Bold, graphic patterns; and super fun colors? It'll be awfully hard to share with the kids... $40 at Dwell Studio


12.14.2011

Gift Guide: Men

OK, this list really draws on what Mattio loves--let's face it, until recently, I was with the guy 24/7 (relax, casual readers who don't really know me, he just got a new job that involves leaving the house every day, as opposed to his old situation working at home), so his likes and dislikes are what I know best (with the exception of the argyle sweater; that one's all me).

Also, good to know: The first item, the Bacon money clip. Yeah, you should go to the Jack Spade website and check out the original photo. Then you should come back here, and view my crop. Do you know why it's cropped like this? Because holy crap! did Photoshop give me the HARDEST time about opening an image with money in it. Photoshop totally thought I was counterfeiting! Hello, Photoshop! Would I really counterfeit with a BACON money clip of all things??


  1. Bacon: as you can see, my view of men is that they LOVE bacon (Guess who's a bacon fanatic--fueled by the fact that it's a total treat for him [because I can't stand the way it stinks up our house]). If he didn't have a wallet already, this would be under the tree for him this year. $65 at Jack Spade
  2. This stuffed bacon toy is supposed to be for children... but back to item #1: men love bacon. I'm pretty sure that Mattio would sleep with this every night. Bonus: Not only is it called My First Bacon, but when you squeeze it, it says, "I'm bacon!" $14.99 at Think Geek
  3. A couple of years ago, I ordered this very shirt for Mattio. There was some sort of flood in the warehouse, the package got here a few days later than it should have (which was no big deal for me), and the company felt so bad about it, that they called me to ask what kind of bacon I would like, because they were going to send me some as an apology. I won't get into how silly it is to ask me what kind of bacon I like, but every men's gift guide I ever do will now include Bac'n.com, because they are just awesome (even if they do make a living selling bacon). $15.99 at Bac'n
  4. Another Mattio gift: I picked up this beer-making kit last year on a whim; and it's really neat. For one thing, when you make beer, everything has to be super sterile--which means that the kitchen is SPOTLESS. The other thing is that our kitchen is teeny-tiny, and this is a perfect kit for us (one of the reasons I bought it was because the packaging said that you didn't need a big kitchen). Good to know: beer making is smelly, and not in a good, beer-smelling way. It actually smells like a wet barn, so it's best to make beer when you can open the windows. $40 at Brooklyn Brew Shop
  5. Once you make all your beer, your man is going to need something to drink it in. The beer elements glass is fun; or, if you're buying for a nerd, there's the include beer tags. Periodic Beer Glass, $8.99 at Think Geek; Include Beer Glass, $7.99 at Think Geek
  6. Like the cashmere sweater for women, a flannel shirt is a men's wardrobe staple. $69.50 at J. Crew
  7. I'm a sucker for argyle, so of course I believe that like the flannel shirt, every man should have an argyle sweater $79.50 at Banana Republic
  8. We got this telescopic fork for my father in law years ago--and it still makes him giggle to this day. A very funny stocking stuffer. $2.89 at Amazon
  9. Obviously men aren't walking around carrying purses--but they still need something to put their stuff in. Messenger bags are fantastic for that, and lucky for men, they have kate spade male-equivalent Jack Spade for the perfect one. $195 at Jack Spade
In myt attempt to give you the Mattio gift guide, did I miss anything? You know where to let me know!



12.13.2011

Gift Guide: Women

Just so you know, I had this whole week planned for gift guides (because I don't know about you, but I am still not done shopping; and, quite frankly, there's no end in sight). Sunday night I was putting the finishing touches on this, the women's gift guide, and I decided to go to bed before I published it--you know, so I could look at it with fresh eyes in the morning. And then yesterday happened, and it was about 7:00 at night before I sat down--and when I did sit down it was at my friend's house for book club (which was awesome, btw), and so, here we are beginning gift guide week on Tuesday instead.


  1. Seriously, how adorable is this Cheers necklace from the always reliable (and my favorite--can't you tell?) kate spade? What girlie girl wouldn't want to find this under her tree? $78 at kate spade
  2. OK, OK. It's obvious I like kate spade. But come on, these gloves? How cute are these gloves? $78 at kate spade
  3. This Tory Burch clutch is on the WAY expensive side... but worth it. Clutches are a total pain, in my opinion; I'm always leaving them behind, and they're downright horrible if you have children. But that goes to show you I must really love this one. Plus: orange? Patent leather? Yes, please. $325 at Tory Burch
  4. This is one of the handful of items on this list that I actually own, and I can completely endorse. Let me tell you that if you know a girl who always has cold feet at home, look no further than these slippers. The warmth and comfort of Uggs, without having to leave your house in them (although, be forewarned that I have left my house in them... and really, I wasn't fooling anyone)! $90 at Zappos
  5. Full disclosure: I am not a smelly candle person. They're just not my thing. But sometimes, the garbage makes the kitchen all smelly, and you've just got to fire one up. Last year I bought a couple of holiday scented Mrs. Meyers candles, and they just smell so... clean. The lemon verbena scent is just wonderful. A most excellent stocking stuffer. $9.99 at Mrs. Meyers
  6. Who wouldn't love a cashmere sweater? If you're shopping for me, I love a good cashmere turtleneck (hint, hint). $178 at J. Crew
  7. I'm not a lipstick/gloss person--I'm perfectly happy with my Kiehl's lip balm, and I'm good to go. So when I do find a lip gloss that I love, I want to tell the world. World, meet Stilla lip gloss (plus, it's a $110 value for only $25! I'm such a sucker for that!). $25 at Sephora
  8. Another item that I own, I get more compliments on these necklaces than I ever imagined. They are great as a set (which is how I wear them most often), or on their own. Adorbs. Heart, $49 at Stella and Dot; Arrow, $49 at Stella and Dot
  9. Finally, books! I just picked up Diane Keaton's autobiography just yesterday (as a gift! Talk about taking your own advice!). She is so likeable, that I can't wait to dig into it. $13 at Amazon I just finished reading Mindy Kaling's book, which is not only adorable, but completely hysterical. If you're anything like me, you'll want to invite Ms. Kaling to your next girl's night out, because you know that you will totally become BFFs in a matter of minutes. Trust me on this one. $12.50 at Amazon
Tomorrow is the men's gift guide. Have any additions to this one? Anything I didn't cover? Hit me up in the comments!


12.09.2011

Friday LOLs (Christmas Edition):

If you've ever head a supervisor (and 12 "experts") standing over your shoulder, telling you to constantly tweak something that was perfect to begin with ("Add a little more blue to that green. No, just a hair more. No, now I think that's too much. Bob, what do you think?" "Well, since I have had *considerable* experience with the color green, I can tell you that taking some of the blue out would really make it more... well, green." And so on, and so on), than you'll appreciate this greeting from Dailey and Associates:

12.05.2011

This:

Dear companies: want me as a customer for life? Have awesome customer service.

I know, I probably speak for a LOT of people when I say this. But think about all the times you have had a total crap customer service experience that made you say, I'm never going back there again. Now think about when you have an exceptionally great customer service experience; don't you want to have that awesomeness ALL THE TIME??

Case in point: Last October, I bought the 8 year old a winter coat from Lands End. It was a little big on her last year, so I know we'd get multiple years out of it. It was also one of the coldest winters ever last year, so she wore it just about every day (never mind that it was also her ski jacket). Well something must have happened to the zipper at the end of last winter, because she put the coat on for the first time this year just the other night, and the zipper was 100% stuck. Like, it wasn't going anywhere. I know that Lands End has awesome customer service, and that their products are guaranteed, so naturally I called them with my zipper issue. Know what happened?

They're sending us a new coat.

Granted, I have to send the old one back (which is fine, because hello? zipper), and because I had gotten the old one WAY on sale, and the new coat wasn't WAY on sale, I do have to pay the difference (which is about $25). But come on. How many stores will take back a 1-year old USED coat, and give you a brand new one in exchange for it?

After such a positive experience, I tweeted about it, I'm blogging about it, and I'm generally just going to become a walking billboard for how awesome Lands End is for the next few days. And what did it cost them? Practically nothing. 

Holiday Monday: Believe:

2 out of my 3 children still very much believe in Santa--I know this because this weekend they were working their way towards the naughty list, and I made them write letters to Santa explaining that they were naughty. This activity did NOT go over well (alas, the letters have not been sent, but are there as a reminder to BE NICE TO YOUR SISTER). The teenager stopped believing long ago (sigh), and fortunately for us she never questioned the existence of Santa when she did believe. However, the other 2 might, and when they do, I am going to borrow heavily from this letter.

Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.

Heck, I might just copy the entire thing. What a beautiful way to explain to your children the magic of Santa and Christmas.

Hopefully I won't need it for a long, long time.

12.01.2011

Sing:

It's December 1, bitches! And do you know what that means? That means I no longer have to hide the fact that I have been listening to Christmas music for TWO WHOLE WEEKS (alright. Three).

Seriously. I. Love. Christmas music. I have no qualms about listening to it in mid-November. It doesn't make me angry, and I don't get tired of it. Actually, I don't understand people who DO get tired of it--you guys listen to the same pop crap over and over and over. Christmas music is played for the month of December--that's it. Then you get your repetitive pop crap back. Me? I'll listen to Christmas music right through January, with no complaint.

Anywho. I digress. Christmas music rocks; and for me, the season has not fully begun until I hear Christmas songs by the Beach Boys and the Carpenters. When I was a kid, my parents had 2 Christmas records (yeah, that's right. I said records): yep, the Beach Boys and the Carpenters. We would play the crap out of them every year whilst decorating the tree. So for me, they both signified the start of Christmas. And to this day--much to Mattio's chagrin--they are among my favorites.



11.30.2011

Glitter:

OK, I'm just going to admit it. For all the world to read. It's no longer a secret:

Internet friends, I love glitter (Oh, don't act all shocked).

Glitter and the holidays go hand in hand, so if you're like me, you stock up now. I've pieced together a couple of my favorites below. Maybe we can call it, Tracie's Go-To Glitter Guide. I kind of like the sound of that.



1. If you're shy about wearing glitter and/or sequins, I think this Banana Republic sweater is a good way to dip your toe in. 

2. Glitter shell from J. Crew: I have this in black, and plan on getting it in about every other color they offer. I wear it underneath cardigans for a peek of glitter, or on top of button-downs for full force shine. So versatile, for glitter.

3. Platinum dress, from anthro. I seriously wish I had somewhere fancy to go (alright, and a spare $400), just so I could wear this dress.

4. This Free People dress is fun (but maybe on the short, tight side for me. But still, adorable)!


6. I've seen a lot of sequin skirts this season, but they all seem way too short (and by way too short, I mean basically a belt). I think this version, from Ann Taylor Loft, is just the right length.

7. Sometimes I feel that black sequins/glitter is a little, been there, done that. But this blazer? Why don't I own this glitter blazer from Banana? Why??

8. I can't get myself excited over the sequined Uggs I'm starting to see everywhere. Maybe because they're Uggs, and they're ugly to begin with. Don't get me wrong, I think the kids look adorable in them. But a grown woman needs grown woman shoes. These sequined boots from the always reliable kate spade are awesome, and strike a nice balance between Squeeee! Sequins! and well, grown woman shoes.

9. These kate spades come in other colors, but omigod the navy! Glitter! Sophistication! More glitter! Not black! Can you tell? The navy by far and away is my favorite.

10. Finally, if you're looking for shine, but only a little, this purse from J. Crew is adorbs.

11.29.2011

Muppets:

Happy Tuesday, internet! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving--and by that I mean I hope you ate until you had to unbutton your pants (come on, what other day of the year allows that??). At our Thanksgiving this year, I was in charge of making the pies. I don't know what I did to manage my time so successfully, but I was done baking by about 1:00 Wednesday afternoon. So naturally, with all this time on my hands, I did what any red-blooded child of the 70s would do: I took my kids to see the Muppets.

First of all: holy awesome. This movie did not disappoint at all. If you enjoyed the Muppet Show in the late 70s, or any of the 80s Muppet movies, you will no doubt enjoy this. My friend Bob blogged about the movie as well, saying that this movie was a prime example of rebooting a franchise; and I whole-heartedly agree.

There's a million recaps online, and a super awesome Muppet Wiki (which was very helpful in solving the disagreement between myself and the 8 year old: what is the sax player's name? I was pretty insistent it was Floyd, however was proved wrong when a simple search turned up that Floyd is the guitarist [and Animal's handler], and Zoot is actually the name of the sax player). So instead, I leave you with a song that will be stuck in your head for, oh, I'd say the next 2 or 3 days. But well worth it.

11.12.2011

Holiday Monday:

New feature here on the ol' bloggity: Holiday Monday; where everything holiday-related will be posted. Since it's still early enough in the season (but never to early to start celebrating!), I thought I'd start off with holiday cards. Of course, it's not too late to have your favorite graphic designer (ahem) design custom cards for you... but in case you're not going that route (really?), I've picked a few of my faves.

Naturally kate spade is at the top of the list (although this list isn't in any particular order, it's never a bad idea to start with the alway adorable ks).



These Peace, Love, Cookies cards are the perfect non-denominational, whimsical way to wish your friends and family a festive holiday season. Running a close second is the Break a Resolution New Year's card, and the Snowglobe gift tags. Adorbs, but then again, I expect nothing less.

Next up is the cute cards over at Tiny Prints. These are great cards, especially if you have a photo you want to add. My favorite is this tri-fold:



Tiny Prints' cards are bright and energetic, and the message across the board is fun.

Also good if you like sending photo cards is my friend (and neighbor!) Sugar and Spice Designs. Since Laura, the owner, is paper crazy (like, ahem, a certain graphic designer), the great thing about her site is that you can pick the paper stock you'd like your cards to be printed on. Besides the fact that she is a small, local business, she is also a photographer; which means that she'll take the fantastic portraits you want to put on your cards (of course, it's OK if you use your own photos--but she's a pretty awesome photographer, so, you know...).



Etsy is a fantastic resource for great cards, but sometimes it's really noisy and there's all kinds of great design shouting at you. Here's some of my Etsy faves:


Good Cheer cards from the Office of Nature


Winter Wonderland from Spring Olive


Map Card by Sara Luke Creative (love this if you've moved recently!)


Tree of Hope by Dancing Pen and Press

Finally, these online retailers all have a great selection of cards to spread holiday cheer:

MoMA

Hello, Lucky

Minted

Pear Tree Greetings

Pinhole Press

What's your favorite place to get your holiday cards? And, besides gift guides, what else do you want to see on Holiday Mondays?

11.04.2011

Book club:

Last night was another fun meeting of the RulebreakersTM Book Club. The book we were discussing (yes, husbands, we actually discuss the book) was The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.

Overall, book club liked it. The visuals were dreamy--if you couldn't guess from the title, the book is about a magical circus that takes place--wait for it--at night. OK, it's really about a lot more than that (magical challenges, illusionists in love...), but the overall theme was this black and white night circus, and we all agreed that it was a circus that we'd all like to visit. Personally, I felt the plot itself was a little slow-moving, but the descriptions of everything about Les Cirque des Reves--down to the smell--were so so crazy detailed, that it more than made up for it.

Naturally the theme of our evening was the circus--with a dash of black and white--with popcorn, pretzels, black and white cookies, and magic bars (YUM) to eat. Our host Kathy did a great job decorating with the theme of the book, too--black, white and red tablecloths, candles, tickets...

Unfortunately, Erin Morgenstern wasn't available via Twitter (she was nice enough to let us know beforehand that she would be traveling; and she did answer a question before her plane took off [I'd like to think that the flight attendants were all, Miss, you HAVE GOT to turn off your phone, otherwise the plane can't take off! And she was all, HOLD ON! I have an important book club question I have to answer!]).

Since we're trying to be Twitter BFFs with the authors of our books, we have started taking group photos (to tweet back to them). Here we are, in our black and white (and red) glory:



All in all, another super fun book club. Next up is the Steve Jobs autobiography--which happens to coincide with our annual holiday meet, where we get grab bag gifts. I'm hoping somebody gets an iPad (you know, to go with the theme)... but with a $15 spending cap, that might be hard.

11.03.2011

Hello:

OK. I know. Lots of shoes here, but I can't help it! I feel like I've been in a shoe drought for far too long--and by drought, I don't mean lack of shoes, I mean lack of shoes that I actually like. This past spring and summer's selection of shoes was really meh; and I was really slow to love anything this fall as well--that is, up until last week. And when these babies showed up in my Facebook feed, it was love at first sight:


Seriously. How cute are these Lucky Brand boots? Like I need another pair of knee-high boots... but the fact that they fold over like this? I'm sold (well, I'll be sold once they go on sale)!
So internet friends, tell me: what shoes/boots are on your radar this fall? 

10.31.2011

Breakup:

Dearest Halloween Candy:

I love you--I do! But I just can't do this anymore: Halloween Candy, we have to break up.

Truth be told, I don't even want to be friends with you anymore. Don't get me wrong, you're attractive (you look good enough to EAT!), and let's face it, you have a good personality, too (it's even in your name: Fun Size!). But you have a dark side, Halloween Candy, and I'm not just talking about the dark chocolate.

It's just--well, sometimes, Halloween Candy, you make me feel bad about myself. And you do it VERY subtly. It's never in moderation, Halloween Candy. Never, I'll just do it this one time. No, it's 20 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and a stomachache (although, let's be fair, you know I'm putty once you break out the chocolate-peanut butter combination). Then, I just think constantly of all of the spin classes I'll have to take to get you off of me; until I'm in the midst of spin, thinking, I'm exercising, surely I can enjoy just ONE piece of Halloween Candy.

You see where this vicious cycle is leading me, don't you?

I'm sorry Halloween Candy, I really am. I hope you find happiness. I mean, I know you will. You're great! Just not for me. I hope you understand.

Love, Sincerely,
Tracie

10.27.2011

Shoesies II:

It's cloudy, rainy, yucky and all around gross outside today. I think lime green shoes (with a hot pink heel) are in order:


Oh look at that! Kate Spade happens to have a pair right here. I know I just bought a fab pair of shoes... but a girl can never have too many, right?

10.26.2011

New work:

About a month ago, I posted a little sneak peek of a project I was working on... and now I'm ready to pull the cover off that sucker and do the big reveal:



Over the summer, I was asked by fellow CT-based graphic designer Patti Murphy if I would be interested in designing posters for a group show at a gallery in New London. Um... Hells yeah?

The guidelines the artists were given were loose: the show was in October, the posters had to be 12 x 18", and the theme was positivity. That's it. Photographic, typographic, illustrative... the medium was entirely left up to the artist. 

Holy cow, this project was beyond fun; and I wish I had more time to devote to designing even more posters! It was incredibly therapeutic for me to design with so few limits, using the graphic design method of my choice. 

Opening night, Mattio and I took a ride up to New London, and it was so awesome to see everybody's work (leading up to opening night, it was nausea-inducing. Seriously, my work was hung amongst some pretty big deals in the graphic design/illustration community, and... uh, I was a little nervous). It was so exciting to see my work hanging in a gallery (squeeee!), and incredibly honored that it was hanging in such great company.

Here I am, all famous in a gallery! See that teeny picture on the left? That's me!

If you guys are up that way, I highly suggest you go and check out the Hang in There poster show at the Hygienic in New London (now through 11/12).

10.25.2011

Shoesies:

I love Tory Burch (especially the shoes. My God, the shoes!), I love a good sale, and most of all, I love a good sale on Tory Burch shoes. So last Thursday, when facebook notified me that Tory Burch had a special offer just for TB facebook fans, I was sold. And, just my luck, they happened to be having a sale on the shoes I had been coveting ever since my friend Marcy featured them on her blog (proving even further that we might be twins separated at birth--at least fashion-wise--we unknowingly bought the same exact pair of shoes). They were half off, so there was no way I was NOT buying them.

Fast forward to yesterday, when UPS delivered the goods. Have you guys ever gotten a package that was just so... pretty? And fun to open? Because I am a packaging nerd, getting the shoes themselves wasn't enough--can I just say: squeeee! Packaging!


It was like my birthday, all over again. I've ordered my fair share of shoes online, and I've never been so excited to open a package (and not because of what's inside). Fun orange wrapping paper, with an embossed gold sticker, holding a note from Tory herself (OK, not Tory herself, but still. Fun).

Um, yes, Tory... I did find what I was looking for, and I DO love them!
Even the receipt/return shipping ugliness came packaged all nice in this pretty little envelope. The back says, "We love this envelope--it's a great place to keep all those lists, receipts and unframed photos."



I love this envelope, too; but not because of it's usefulness (although, bonus points). Packing receipts are rarely pretty, and return shipping labels are just downright ugly. But all of that yuckiness was contained in a pretty cute sleeve.

Oh, and the shoes?

Bright red penny loafers? Yes, please!

LOVE them.

10.24.2011

Candy:

Hey--I'm back! Apologies for the hiatus, internet friends--things here at traciedesigns HQ were busy, busy, busy... and, well, something had to give. But I didn't stray far, and now I'm back, posting with my (somewhat) usual regularity, so never fear.

So, let's get down to it: candy corn. Basically solidified corn syrup, right? But--sweet Jesus--how awesome is it? Well, let me clarify that: how awesome is the orange/yellow/white combination (none of this pumpkin shaped baloney; or worse--the imposter "Autumn selection" consisting of yellow/orange/brown)? I have basically been living off of it the past few days--seriously, it's become a whole separate food group at this point. And just when I thought I couldn't eat any more, the intern came home with a whole jar full (for coming closest to guessing the correct amount in the jar, at a party--go intern!). Naturally that did not stop me, and I ate so much of her candy corn, I felt bad and bought replacement candy corn. Which, I have basically finished. It is a downward spiral, friends; one that I am going down faster and faster. Won't Halloween just hurry up and get here so all this candy corn will disappear (that way I won't have to make it disappear myself, and/or check myself into some sort of candy corn rehab)?

Do you guys like candy corn? I heard not too long ago that it is the number 1 most-hated candy. Like, people like black licorice better. Huh? I can't even comprehend that.

10.10.2011

Wedding week:

My brother in law is getting married Friday night, and through all of the preparations going on this week, I found these save the dates I designed for them:



They didn't end up using these (actually, I'm not even sure I presented these, as they never sent out save the dates), but I came across it last night and there's something about it that I really love. Maybe it's the fact that they chose a more traditional wedding invite (which I'll feature later on this week), or maybe it's the fun, block-y font. Either way, I'm putting this in my back pocket and keeping it around for a while...

10.07.2011

Thank you, Steve:



Richard Dreyfuss did the voice over for the one they actually aired on TV; but this here? This one's all Jobs.

10.05.2011

Happy/sad:

Today is my birthday. As birthdays go, it was a good day: I worked, hung with the kids, had dinner at Shake Shack, and thought my night would end with a cupcake, and a little more work.

Instead, I had a cupcake, and read the news of Steve Job's passing.

I am heartbroken. I didn't know Steve Jobs personally, but my God. He has had such a huge impact on my life, it's hard not to feel the emptiness, now that he is no longer with us. Because of Steve Jobs' vision, I have a career. When Apple forced Jobs out, the company began a slow and steady decline, almost to the point of bankruptcy. Hired back in 1996, Jobs began changing the way the world operates; first by introducing the revolutionary iMac (from which I am writing this on, and from which I work every day), then the iPod, iphone, iPad...

Without his ingenuity, his genius, I wouldn't have a machine to work on. Sure, I could clunk around on a PC, but I guarantee that the field of design would not be the same if not for Steve Jobs and the way he brought Apple back to life. And he took it and ran, introducing the world to a new way of listening to music, a new way of communicating with one another, a new way of computing.

His great mind will be missed. I think my friend BJ put it best when he said that we are lucky to have lived in the Steve Jobs era.

Very lucky indeed.

9.27.2011

Sneak peek:





Just a little side project I'm having loads of fun with... I'll have more details soon, but for now, you guys will just have to live with this little taste.

9.22.2011

Life:

It's been a busy couple of days here at traciedesigns HQ. I have enough work to keep me going, but the kind of busy I'm talking about is life.

Last year at this time, I was the HBIC of the PTA at the 8 year old's school. It was not an easy job, and looking back, I see exactly how much of my time it took up (A LOT). But I enjoy volunteering at the school, I've met lots of great people and I can't even begin to tell you how rewarding it is (seriously. If you're feeling down, go have lunch with your kid at school. Watch their face light up and I guarantee that you will feel light years better). The 8 year old took great pride in my role as president (getting so frustrated with me if I couldn't answer her questions; "You're the PRESIDENT. Don't you know EVERYTHING??!" I wish).

But this year, I'm not the HBIC. Somebody else is running the show, and I'm OK with that. I enjoy having my time back, doing things with my kids, and not constantly checking my email to approve email blasts and flyers (OK, I still constantly check my email, but not for things like that). I enjoy letting the kids play on the playground after school gets out, and not having to run home to... yep, check email. I enjoy coming downstairs in the morning to a clean kitchen, instead of last night's dishes still in the sink. Most of all, I enjoy the sense of order I am restoring to my life.

So this past week, I've been doing just that. I've got work that I'm doing, but I'm really concentrating on a healthy work-life balance. And so far, it seems to be working.

9.14.2011

Winning:

When you work from home--alone, for the most part--sometimes simple things like getting the mail is exciting (don't be all envious of my thrilling life). I don't know why I look forward to it day after day, as it's mostly bills and junk (let's play how many credit card offers will we get today!); but every once in a while, you get a pleasant surprise thrown in.

Like, yesterday, for example.

Yesterday was a pretty standard 5:1 junk to bills ratio (I guess it's good that it's not the other way around), with the exception of one Big Envelope. And that Big Envelope had a GD USA return address on it. Which could only mean one thing:

American Graphic Design Awards came in the mail!

The American Graphic Design Awards is a design competition that "spotlights areas of excellence and opportunity for creative professionals... It honors outstanding work across all media." This year's awards attracted 8,000 entries, with a select 15% winning.

There seems to be some sort of mistake on one (2 entries are listed--does that mean they're both winners?), so I may have won 5 total--Wheeeeeeeeeeee! And the winners are:

Melt Sandwich Shop website

Objects blog

Stylesson blog

The award with 2 entries listed:

art + interiors website redesign

Mari the Studio website

I'll find out later this week what the mix up was, but in the meantime, let's start pouring the bubbly and celebrating!

9.13.2011

Monogram this:

Fun with monograms? Yes, please!



I'd never be able to pull it off (because I have children who ask questions), but I love the idea of a WTF monogram. Hee hee (or, should I say, LOL?)!

9.12.2011

Fresh:



The (powerful) message is clear here: from the great stop motion animation, to the completely appropriate use of Coldplay's The Scientist (chillingly redone by Willie Nelson), this might be my new favorite commercial.

Chipotle, I'm yours.

(via Fast Co. Design)

9.09.2011

Friday LOL (nostalgia edition):

This one's not so much funny ha-ha, but funny like, awwww, we used to work on that machine!

Shrine of Apple:


Awesome photos and videos of every Apple product, ever.

Remember the Lisa? Maybe you have a little ipod nostalgia--it's all here (and if it's not, the site says it's coming).

Fun to go through and see how very, VERY far we've come!

9.08.2011

Type:

It's a good thing these are on the internet--I'm afraid my drool would ruin them if I had the real deal. Ladies and gentlemen, Sanborn Fire Insurance Map TYpography:



Holy cow, the typography on these maps is CRAZY gorgeous. I could look at them all day. As a matter of fact, if you need me, that's where I'll be...

(via kottke.org)

9.07.2011

Inbox zero:

Yeah, I've pretty much come to terms with that never, ever happening.

Like, ever.

How do people do it? How on earth do people stay so organized--so ON TOP of their email--that they can claim inbox 0??!

I try so hard to be good--deleting Twitter notifications as they come in... OK, that's about as good as I get. I mean, I have client folders. I have etc folders. I'm not sure what prevents me from taking the extra 2 seconds to place an email into one of said folders.

This madness has got to stop--I have got to get on top of this email disaster! Internet, how do you keep your inboxes from becoming such a mess, that they end up looking like, well, mine?

9.06.2011

Six:



This always slips my mind, because this time of year I am in full-on back to school mode, but--you guys, this week traciedesigns is 6!

Now, traditionally, the 6th anniversary gift is iron. Boooo-ring. The modern gift is a wood object. I'm sure if I went through my bookmarks, or scoured the internet I'd probably find at least 20 wood objects. But do you know what the traditional UK gift is?

Sugar.

Ah yes, sugar. The stuff my dreams cupcakes are made from. Mmmmmmm, cupcakes. The perfect 6th business anniversary present, ever.

9.02.2011

Friday LOL (baseball edition):



More Alec Baldwin/John Krasinski funnies.

"Call 912! Call 912!"

"What is 912?"

"911 for rich people!"

8.31.2011

Shop:

Well I guess now I HAVE to shop at Saks to get one of these fun bags:



Designed by Pentagram, the new bags encourage shoppers to follow Saks on Twitter. The custom @ symbol has been integrated into their print campaign, and will be seen in an upcoming catalog. Read and see more here.

8.30.2011

Type:

Cape Cod is one of my favorite places; it's got nothing but charm, everything is SO laid back, and--most of all--ice cream. Lots of ice cream. Like, I'm seriously going through withdrawl now, there was so much ice cream.

Besides ice cream, the other thing the Cape has in abundance is hand-lettered signs. Because you're hard-pressed to find a lot of chain stores (save for Subway and Dunkin Donuts, at least in our neck of the woods), most of the stores are mom and pops, complete with hand-lettered signage.


Mmmmm, fudge. In addition to ice cream, there's no shortage to fudge on the Cape, either. I know. Too bad, right? Love the "mouthwatering fudge" lettering. Oh, and the fact that THEY MAIL CANDY.



I think I drove by this book store about 20 times a day, as it was right around the corner from where we stayed. It is the cutest little bookshop I have ever seen, and made me want to not order from Amazon and stay there and browse all day. True story. Love the flourishes.



Love the Agro Dolce--not so much the hologram effect, but the lettering is nice.



The first time I saw this sign, I swear I almost crashed my car, craning my neck to see it. Flourishes, script, gold detail... I loved it so much that I went WAY out of my way to snap this pic.



What can I say? I'm a sucker for Bodoni poster, even more so for hand-lettered Bodoni poster.



Come on, it wouldn't be a trip to the Cape without a weathered lobster sign!



Finally, I snapped this at the Brewster General Store. It's not hand-lettered, but Oh. Em. Gee. I love it.

8.29.2011

Come on, Irene:

Wow.

So first things first: pardon my absence last week--we took a much needed week off and spent it on lovely Cape Cod. Yes, the Cape was all kinds of lovely... up until we left. We were supposed to stay into Saturday, but because of the hurricane that was due to arrive on Sunday, we left late Friday night.

After planning and prepping all day Saturday (which included the most insane trip to the grocery store I have ever taken, AND an unsuccessful attempt to get batteries [DANG! Why didn't we think to bring those back from the Cape??!]), Irene hit, taking our power with her--but that's it. And as much as I like to whine about not having electricity, that was the worst of it. Our cellar didn't flood, our house didn't collapse... our friends and family were safe, and we had to live like the Amish for a day and a half. Big whoop.


Post-Irene, Sasco Beach in Fairfield


It was still super windy when we went down, way after the storm left us...


...So windy, in fact, the intern almost got swept away!

8.19.2011

Friday LOL (Jersey edition--part II):

So this is my second Jersey Shore-themed Friday post in as many weeks (also, apologies to those who follow me on Twitter, as I announced this the other day and now it's just old news). Why? Because these people are funny. Well, maybe not. But their circumstance is.

I have never watched the Jersey Shore. I know the characters have nicknames, like, the Situation, and Snookie, and J-Wow; but I couldn't pick the Situation out of a line-up. Apparently, these characters--the Situation in general--like to wear Abercrombie & Fitch. Problem is, A&F doesn't want their brand associated with this cast of characters. So much so, that they are willing to pay them to NOT wear their brand:

"We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino's association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans. We have therefore offered a substantial payment to Michael 'The Situation' Sorrentino and the producers of MTV's The Jersey Shore to have the character wear an alternate brand. We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response."

I swear, you can't make this stuff up! How funny is this? What tickled me even more, was that A&F is calling this a "win-win" situation. Hysterical.

(You can see the full text of the statement here: click on 8/16, A&F proposes a win-win situation)

8.17.2011

Wednesday LOLs (Andy edition):

Mattio and I just watched Wet Hot American Summer for the first time last week (I know, we're pretty late jumping on that bandwagon, huh?), and by far and away, the best part of the movie is Paul Rudd. I mean, duh, who doesn't love Paul Rudd? His character, Andy, was the best. My favorite scene in the entire movie is this one:



I love it. Of course, I immediately thought of my children, and their hissy fits. But now, every time I have to do something so stupid and useless and expend even the slightest amount of energy doing it, I think of this scene. Case in point: I went to wish somebody a happy birthday on FB the other day. I wrote HB on their wall, and hit return. Nothing happened. I hit return again. Nothing again. I realized that I had to physically take my mouse and click on a button, and I was so. put. out. I immediately watched this scene, and giggled not only at Andy, but at my own silliness.

8.16.2011

Lessons:

You get what you pay for. I think this is true for a lot of things, but lately it seems to especially ring true in graphic design.

Last week a new DIY logo design site was launched--LogoGarden (I'm linking to their FB page here. Check out the wall full of designers saying LG ripped off their work!). The premise is, for $69, you can choose from a bunch of pre-designed icons, slap some text on that bad boy, and call it a day. Or a logo. Whatever.

Sounds like it's too good to be true, right?

Yeah, that's because it is. See, these pre-designed icons? They were pre-designed by other graphic designers. Who designed them for other clients. And LogoGarden just took them, and started selling them as icons to be combined with text to make your own logo. Only, LogoGarden doesn't own these icons.

Steve Douglas has a really great post about it here.

Lesson learned? If you're starting a business, and need a logo… hire a professional, for the love. You can work with a professional graphic designer and get something completely custom--not predesigned (and, er, stolen). Yes, it will cost you more than $69, but if you're investing in your business, isn't it worth it?

8.15.2011

Want:

OH. EM. GEE. You guys, Target has partnered with Missoni to bring us all affordable zig zag goodness!

Debuting on September 13th, the Missoni for Target line includes clothing for women, men and kids (natch), as well as accessories, housewears, and a bicycle. Yes, a Missoni bicycle.

You can see the entire collection (and read some of the hysterical comments--"This doesn't look like something I can wear to a PTA meeting or soccer game!" Ummmm...) on Target's Facebook page.


Hello, adorable. Seriously, I think I might just go broke buying this stuff (not to be worn together, natch. I think it's a little much if you're piling Missoni, on top of Missoni, on top of Missoni).


There is a very blurry line between want and need when it comes to these shoes.


As with these great winter accessories. Hurry up and get cold so I can wear these!


OMG My kids are going to rock the socks off the world in this adorableness. Seriously. How. Freakin. Cute. Is this??!


Home accessories? Yup, I'm in.

8.12.2011

Friday LOL (Jersey edition):

I love that somebody matched the skin tone of the Jersey Shore cast to actual Pantone colors.

The second guy down (I only know Snooki) is looking pretty light. Obviously he's not concentrating on the T part of GTL (which I totally had to look up what that stood for. OMG that makes me feel old!).

8.11.2011

Photo:



Here I am, riding my bike in the CT Challenge with a big 'ol smile on my face (OK, so this was clearly taken at the beginning of the Challenge, not sure how much I was smiling at the end). Behind me is my friend--and CT Challenge mentor--Ed. Such a fun day!