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November 30, 2006

Foot Notes

The cold, cold weather has not prevented me from buying shoes that are more appropriate for, say, 60-degree weather:

kidsshoes

I picked up both pairs at Nordstrom — in the Children's Department. Sometimes, having small feet ain't so bad.

November 29, 2006

Knock on Wood

I just clicked over to blissen and was blown away by Jill's latest creations: hand-drawn works of art mounted to plywood. So fantastic. (As a UCSC alum, I may have to pick up one of the banana slug pieces!)

bliss_plywood

bliss_madrone

November 28, 2006

The Latest Dish(es)

Velocity Art & Design is carrying all sorts of new Pop Ink melamine plates:

pi_tweats  pi_dontfeed  pi_plantfood

I recently finished up an article about holiday entertaining and, while the experts agreed that paper plates are a no-no, melamine ones were given the thumbs-up.

We have Thomas Paul plates that we usually bring out when the nieces and nephews are over. And if you're in the market for some TP designs, Bluefly currently has several for sale.

November 27, 2006

My Sister, the Grinch

I love my sister dearly, but when it comes to Christmas, she sucks. She's one of those people who buys things whenever she wants, so there's nothing left in the entire world to get her when the holidays roll around. Plus, she is so generous, and loves giving so much, that she 1) has trouble keeping presents a secret, or 2) wants to be the giver of all great gifts.

Example #1:
Us, entering the bookstore...
Me: I need your help with ideas on what to buy Mike (her husband).
Her: Okay. I'll try to think of something.
We separate for 15 minutes, meeting up again at the cash register.
Me: Hey, is that a guitar book for Mike?
Her: Yes.
Silence.
Me: Maybe I can buy it for him for Christmas?
Her: Yeah, I thought about that when I picked it up. But no.

Example #2:
Her: What do you think of this sweater?
Me: It's cute. I like it.
Her: I got you one for Christmas! Act surprised.

Example #3:
Conversation two days ago...
Me: We need wishlists for the boys.
Her: Okay. I'll try to think of things they need.
Conversation today...
Her: So I bought the boys some clothes at GapKids...
Me: Why did you buy it? Why not just put them on the wishlists!!!
Her: Sorry.

It's hard to hate on her when she means well. But this is just part of the reason we're planning to go homemade for the holidays this year.

November 26, 2006

'Twas a Month Before Christmas

Rainy weekend = Christmas tree up and trimmed. Stockings hung by the (now clean and inspected) chimney with care. Wreath jingling on the door. Windows decorated with Tord Boontje holiday decals. Pumpkin bread straight out of the oven. (Some) presents wrapped and ribboned.

Yes, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.

fireplace

November 25, 2006

Friendly Fire

I'm blogging from the kitchen — trying to stay out of Jon's conversation with the chimney sweep. In the ten minutes he's been here, they've already covered many topics, including: lacrosse, golf, Jon's education, Jon's career, the chimney sweep's sons' careers, our TV, cable TV, HD TV, the Tonga Room in San Francisco, my rainboots, Santa Claus ... and oh yes, fire safety.

November 24, 2006

Afternoon Tea (and Trees)

When I left for work this morning, the car was telling me that the temperature was in the mid-30s. For the Bay Area, that is cold. Really cold.

I spent the morning drinking hot cider and hot chocolate in my cubicle. And, after the office closed early, I hurried home so I could make a big pot of tea, sit down in front of the TV, and sew up some soft trees. A very cozy afternoon after a very chilly start to the day.

tea_trees

November 23, 2006

Gobble Gobble Gobble

Wow. This was the first year I actually did eat way too much. My brother and sister-in-law cook with enough butter to even shock Paula Dean.

And just so you understand why I'll be on the couch recovering for the next 18 hours, this was tonight's dessert consumption: pumpkin pie, carrot cake, rugalach, cupcakes AND apple bread.

I'm thankful we only eat like this once a year. And I'm thankful for elastic-waistband pants.

November 22, 2006

A Tree Grows

Yay! Stephanie has kindly shared her pattern for making fabric trees. I cannot wait to sew a few for the holidays. I'm thinking they would be cool as part of a dining table centerpiece? I especially like that little kids at the table won't be able to do any damage with them.

She's Crafty

So about a month or two ago, I made a comment on this very blog about how "ridiculously awesome" it is to get paid to write about shopping. And it is. But you know what ranks right up there? Getting paid to write about crafts. Oh, and in the process, getting paid to actually make the crafts.

Today's SF Chronicle includes my article about Craft magazine. I tested out three of the projects featured in the publication: the re-upholstered light switch plate; the wood and Plexiglas frame; and the custom paint-by-numbers kits. Two of the finished projects are featured in the photos accompanying the article. (The bit that I wrote on the switch plate was actually edited out almost entirely.)

craft6s22_PH5
The Jen Corace print is from Tiny Showcase (I love that site)

crafts22_PH
That's Jon's parents' dog, Dulce

Craft is packed with more great ideas. Since it's a quarterly, the debut issue should be on the newsstands until at least January. I highly recommend picking up a copy.

November 21, 2006

Because It's Day Twenty-One

... of NaBloPoMo and I'm insanely tired, today's post is courtesy of the American Music Awards. Which I actually only watched the first 15 minutes of.

  • Carrie Underwood was looking all cute and classy while she was seated and singing during the opening sequence. But as soon as she got up? That formal gown? Was not exactly a gown. The skirt opened in the front to reveal shorts. Yes, SHORTS.
  • Britney Spears gave out the first award of the night and couldn't stop chewing gum for even the 30 seconds it took to present.
  • Speaking of Britney, I wonder if the AMA people talked her into presenting in exchange for Jimmy Kimmel's show-opening dis of Kevin Federline. (Aren't the K-Fed jokes just a little too easy?)
Update, 11/22: Go Fug Yourself couldn't resist commenting on Carrie Underwood's outfit, of course. Here's a photo from the GFY site, so you can see the tragedy for yourself:

carrie

November 20, 2006

Brownie Points

Amai Bakery — makers of the delicious Tea Sweets that I cannot get enough of — is now offering Botanical Brownies! And, as of last week, you can buy directly from Amai's web site, instead of tracking down their goods through various other outlets (as I have been known to do).

I'm also looking forward to the Champagne Brownies being available again this December, as I missed out on those last year.

brownies

Book It

In case you haven't already picked up Amy Sedaris' I Like You, fred flare is now offering autographed copies of the book. Only 75 are available.

sedaris

November 19, 2006

Tourists + Trees

My friend Robin recently became the owner of a craft shop at Pier 39. So tonight, we stopped by the store to celebrate her new endeavor. She timed her "friends and family" celebration with the tree-lighting ceremony at Pier 39:

xmas

Jon didn't think it was right that the tree was lit before Thanksgiving, but hey, we already started hearing Christmas carols on the radio yesterday.

November 18, 2006

Going to the Gym

The Craft Gym, that is. (I haven't stepped foot in any kind of fitness facility in maybe seven years?)

I dragged Jon into SF today to check out the local Craft Mafia's first-ever trunk show, held at the Craft Gym. It was so crowded! Very cute handmade stuff. And we got to visit (briefly) with one of my favorite crafters, Jill Bliss.

For those unfamiliar with the Gym, it's this awesome place where you can take all sorts of arts and crafts classes — too many for me to list, so definitely peruse the listings on their web site. Maybe a new skill or two can be picked up in time for holiday gift-making.

November 17, 2006

The Reel World

viewmasterI just noticed that Urban Outfitters is now carrying the classic View-Master. I picked one up over the summer at Brooklyn's Cog & Pearl and, ever since, have been on the lookout for cool reels to buy.

Jon and I also discussed maybe having a custom reel created, using photos from our wedding, honeymoon and other major events. But they're pricey to produce, and generally best if ordered in large quantities (at least 1,000). So we'd pretty much have to hand them out for every holiday and birthday for the next 47 years.

Shoe Shock

Jon is returning today from a trip to the Pacific Northwest. A trip that included a visit to the Nike headquarters, and a one-hour shopping spree at the employee store there. Jon and the rest of his classmates were even granted the usual employee discount (I think it's 40%). And what did my husband buy me?

Nothing.

In a giant shoe store. Where great deals were to be had.

Zero.

But I still love him. (Because I realize that I can be difficult to shop for.)

November 16, 2006

License to Laugh

I know this is my fourth post of the day (a personal record, perhaps?), but I just had to share: I'm watching THE best movie ever made. Well, best non-John Hughes movie ever made. That isn't Goonies, Better Off Dead or So I Married an Axed Murderer. (Those are three of the five movies that make up my entire DVD collection.)

License to Drive

Not only does it have the "The Coreys" (Haim and Feldman, for those of you too young to remember the '80s), but there's a very young Heather Graham rocking a very bad, frizzy perm and a pink off-the-shoulder dress with two layers of ruffle.

Oh, and by the way, the movie's soundtrack is equally awesome: "Trouble" by Nia Peeples, "Get Out of My Dreams and Into My Car" by Billy Ocean and "Mercedes Boy" by Pebbles. Why that last song? Because Heather Graham's character happens to be named Mercedes. Nice.

The Look for Less

Target vs. Barneys. $29.99 vs. $485.
sm_target   sm_barneys

Bread Bag

A few weekends ago, when we brunched at Elite Cafe, we couldn't walk out of the restaurant without a box of their frozen biscuits. (Psst ... They're the same biscuits that were served at the now-defunct Meetinghouse.) They are the best biscuits. Ever. We baked a few the other day to see if the frozen ones are just as good as the ones in the restaurant. Indeed they were. So now we've decided to serve them at our holiday get-together in December. And, of course, I had to buy a proper vessel to present them in:

breadbags

Available through Lekker Home, the bags can be unfolded/stand upright to accommodate baguettes; folded down for muffins and biscuits; and sealed shut (with a magnetic closure) to keep your bread goods warm.

Note: The biscuits are so delicious, Jon argued that we didn't need to buy a special bread bag for them — they would be eaten up so quickly. And he's probably right. But I think this is such a cool design, I couldn't resist.

Shoe Wheel

Look! How fantastic is this?!? (via the NY Times)

shoewheel

According to Rakku, the manufacturer, this is how the Shoe Wheel works:
Shoes are inserted into the pockets through elastic bands, which secure them snugly into place. The pockets are easily adjustable to fit a variety of shoes — sneakers, high heels and flats. Just rotate the Shoe Wheel to make a selection.
So this is what I'm envisioning: You get up in the morning, spin the wheel o' shoes, wear whichever pair it stops on top, and then work the rest of your outfit around it. It holds up to 30 pairs of shoes (depending on what kind) and can be tucked into your closet and wheeled out as needed. Brilliant.

November 15, 2006

Wishingfish Finds

The holiday shopping has begun! Things that I came across this morning while browsing Wishingfish ...


cupsleeve   coffeeone   gloves   handwarmer

November 14, 2006

Log Pile

Last Christmas, I put Andrew Coate's "Log Pile" — die-cut cork in the shape of logs (clever!) — on my wishlist and did not receive it. Then, post-holidays, when I went to buy it for myself, the item was no longer availabe at Greener Grass Design. I looked all over for another retail outlet and, just the other day, finally came upon them at Conduit. Yay!

logpile

November 13, 2006

Dress Dilemma

This post marks a milestone for me. For the first time ever in my blogging history, I'm writing a post that accepts comments. Why now?

  1. Because I'd sure like your opinion. Please.
  2. And I thought it might be nice to see who out there is checking in on this site. (If the answer is "no one" or "just my sister" — that's cool, too.)
So here's the thing: We have a holiday party in a few weeks. It's a school-related function, and should be fairly swank (there's talk of some people showing up in tuxes). I picked up this dress this weekend, but am now wondering if it's too casual? (It's cotton/lycra and even machine-washable!)

regatta

Well, Internet, what do you think? Too casual? Okay if accessorized properly?

P.S. You really can feel free to give the dress a thumbs-down. It's returnable, plus I don't mind having to go back out there to shop some more!

November 12, 2006

Food Fight

I don't watch much FoodTV these days, but I'm definitely going to tune in for tonight's Iron Chef:

"In a special Iron Chef America presentation, Food Network All Stars Rachael Ray and Giada De Laurentiis come to Kitchen Stadium to battle it out. In a special twist, the Chairman decides to pair them with Iron Chefs Bobby Flay and Mario Batali in an unexpected battle that is only fit for Food Network All Stars. Which pairs’ cuisine will reign supreme?"

(I'm rooting for Team Flay/De Laurentiis.)

Totally unrelated: Jon and I were at Rite-Aid earlier today and came across some home drug tests. The marijuana and ectasy ones were almost gone; the multi-drug test was sold out; and there were plenty of cocaine detectors. I guess that's not the drug of choice for suburban teenagers?

November 11, 2006

A Handmade Holiday

If you're like me and planning to handcraft a lot of your holiday decor and gifts, then check out the special Martha Stewart issue, Holiday: Handmade Gifts. I'm definitely going to make a couple of knitted pouches and personalized canvas totes this year.

tote

P.S. I wore my new rainboots for the first time today, and am happy to report that they are quite comfy.

November 10, 2006

Tord at Target, Take Two

(Yes, I love the alliterations.)

So after visits to two Targets in the past two days, I think I have seen pretty much the entire Tord Boontje collection now. There are 35 products total. What's not pictured online that I came across at my local stores: window clings, metallic garlands, a tablecloth, tea tins, coffee canisters, advent calendar, big and small LED lights ... and I think that's it?

(Tip: If you're in the Bay Area, the Redwood City Target — as of yesterday — still had a good selection of merchandise. Some are in the holiday decorations area, some are in the dishes section.)

Looks like our house this year is going to be a mix of Target's (new) Tord Boontje + Hold Everything's (old) Jonathan Adler goodies.

November 09, 2006

Wrappers Delight

Years ago, Jon crafted a very special ring for me. It was made of the green Doublemint Gum sleeves. One night I walked into my silversmith class wearing this ring and the instructor commented on how much she liked it. Since she is a very talented artist who makes amazing jewelry and other small accessories, I was so flattered! (I later asked Jon to make her a ring as well, as a thank-you for her teaching efforts.)

These days, the only rings I wear were also given to me by Jon, but they're made of a different (shinier) material. So I'm thinking that, getting back to our roots, maybe I should pick up one of these adorable purses — made with candy wrappers!

candywrapper

November 08, 2006

Paper Chains

Remember back in grade school, when you made those paper chains in art class? Strips of construction paper were taped or stapled together to create a chain?

Well, the cover of the new Garnet Hill catalog reminded me that paper chains can be a very grown-up and sophisticated way to deck your halls and walls this holiday season:

gh_cover2

With patterned paper or ribbon like the ones above, this could easily be a year-round decorating idea.

November 07, 2006

Pretty Paper Plates

You may have heard by now that Tord Boontje designed a special tableware collection for Target this holiday season. Since Jon and I are planning to host a little holiday gathering, I picked up the large rectangular melamine platter the other day. And I've been debating whether or not to also buy the matching bundle of paper dinnerware:

tord

But then I came across these beauties — Marimekko's Samovaari patterned plates at Crate&Barrel:

marimekko

I hope people don't think it's tacky if we do decide to go with paper plates. These designs are just too pretty to pass up!

November 06, 2006

Blissen Newbies

Lately, I have been so inspired by crafty sites like Little Birds and Shim+Sons. Plus, the holidays usually put me in the mood for making things. So last week, I finally finished up a couple of new blissen products:

tissue

neckwarmer


And Jill has a bunch of awesome new goods, too. My favorite is her ornament/sachet:

sachet


In our house, we opt for a fake Christmas tree, so hanging a few of Jill's sachets — which are filled with redwood tree needles — will at least give us the real-tree smell. So cool.

November 05, 2006

Targeted Holiday Shopping

This year, Jon and I have decided to make holiday-shopping for a each other just a bit more challenging: Gifts can only be purchased at Target, with a specific spending cap that we have agreed upon. Yes, receipts must be presented and numbers will be tallied.

Since I am a big fan of Target, I thought this would be a cinch. But it's actually a tough task! Because usually when we shop at Target, it's for things for the home that we can both use. And now we've got to buy things that are only for the other person. It's too bad he already replaced his squash racket, which he managed to mangle yesterday:

IMG_2544

November 04, 2006

Saturday Morning in the City

We decided to take a quick trip into San Francisco this morning — before Jon had to get busy with his textbooks.

  • We enjoyed a totally delicious, but totally unhealthy, brunch at Elite Cafe. (My bowl of cheddar grits really did not need that extra double-pat of butter.)

  • Then it was on to the Jonathan Adler store to buy a new floor lamp for the living room. (We suffer from an oversized TV that completely dwarfs the current lamp beside it.)
  • And finally, we made our way to the SFMOMA to check out the Alexander Girard exhibit. (I especially loved everything he designed for La Fonda del Sol Restaurant in NYC.)
  • girard_matchbook_covers


With my post for today done (it's Day Four of NaBloPoMo), I'm off to watch the Cal-UCLA game. Go Bears!

November 03, 2006

Tea Time

I do not like the smell of rain, nor do I enjoy driving on slick roads. But I do like that rain makes for perfect tea weather. And one of my favorite souvenirs from last fall's trip to Tokyo is this insert tea strainer:

teastrainer_cropped

Even though most of our teapots include strainers of some sort, little bits of tea leaves would still manage to pass through and enter our cups. But not so much with this little Japanese device. It catches whatever the teapot strainer doesn't. So simple, yet so functional.

November 02, 2006

Crafty Candy Wrappers

I stopped in at Anthropologie today during my lunch break and was delighted to see that their holiday decor is up. They have some of THE best store and window displays. There's this craftiness to their displays that makes them seem replicable in your own home. For example, they're currently featuring random pieces of green carpeting that mimic patches of grass, with fabric leaves scattered on them. You can sort of make them out in this camera-phone picture:

ATT12367690


And, yes, that's a chocolate bar with a knitted wrapper! Cute, but not worth $14. I was thinking this would be a great idea to borrow if you're hosting a holiday party and planning to hand out favors.

Decorating Don'ts

So the other night, I caught the HGTV special "25 Biggest Decorating Mistakes." Here's what their panel of experts — which consisted mainly of hosts of HGTV shows — cited as the worst things you could do to your home:

    25. Toilet rugs
    24. Too many photos
    23. Ignoring the foyer
    22. Undressed cables
    21. Out-of-place themes
    20. Outdated accessories
    19. Lopsided furniture arrangements
    18. Keeping something you hate
    17. Too formal
    16. Uncomfortable dining chairs
    15. Lack of traffic pattern
    14. Everything matches
    13. Following fads
    12. Furniture that doesn't fit
    11. Too many colors or patterns
    10. Floating rugs
    9. Improper lighting
    8. Frames hung too high
    7. Tacky couch covers
    6. Pushed-back furniture
    5. Ignoring windows
    4. Fear of color
    3. Knick-knack overload
    2. Too many pillows
    1. Fake flowers
Hmmm... I think we're guilty of at least five of these offenses.

November 01, 2006

Stuffed

Since I had some leftover fabric from my banner project, I decided to stitch together a little chicken:

chicken

But when sewing a stuffed animal from scratch just ain't happening, Egg Press comes to the rescue. They're now offering two new stuffed animals kits, Scoots and Hoots. These critters join Frank in Egg Press' growing DIY kit collection.

scoots   hoots

Knit Coasters

Yay! I just got my latest Rare Device shipment, which includes Alyssa Ettinger's knit coasters. They are the perfect new fall/winter accessory for the home.

knitcoasters

Eco-Stylist Danny Seo

Today's H&G section of the Chronicle includes a profile I wrote on Danny Seo, who is often referred to as the Martha Stewart of eco-friendly living. (You may have seen his chalkboard fridge featured on Apartment Therapy/San Francisco a few weeks ago.)

Also in the paper, check out Mary Jo Bowling's piece on interior designer Katherine North's condo. Very cool.