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.



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!


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! 


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


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!


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!


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:



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.



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.