29 November 2012

More Gift Guides from Fellow Bloggers

While I have fun coming up with my gift suggestions for guys and gals, I absolutely love seeing what other bloggers have to share. It's not rare for me to find a few of my gifts each year thanks to these bloggers. Here is just a small handful of the ones I've come across this past week.

Crafty Gifts:
Design Sponge - Gifts for DIY Fans
Design Sponge - Ornaments & Trimming

Wallet Friendly:
Cupcakes & Cashmere - Gifts for Her Under $25
Design Sponge - Gift Guide Under $25

For the Gals:
A Lovely Lark - Gift Guide for Her
Dooley Noted - Gift Guide for the Gals
Ramshackle Glam - Gift Ideas for Her

For the Guys:
A Lovely Lark - Gift Guide for Him
Lauren Conrad - Gift Ideas for Him
Dooley Noted - Gift Guide for the Guys

For the Kiddies:
A Lovely Lark - Dolls
A Lovely Lark - Babes

For the Home:
Dooley Noted - Gifts for the Office
My absolute favorite gift guides come from Joanna at Cup of Jo. I rely on her every year. She always has the BEST ideas and I've bought a few great gifts from her suggestions. Her guides are going to be posted throughout the day today so be sure to check them out. In the meantime she links back to past years' guides.

I know there are many more gift guides out there and more to come from other bloggers, but if you're like me you are trying to get your shopping done sooner than later. Even better if it can be done online.

28 November 2012

Holiday Gift Guide: The Ladies

Now it's time for my gift guide for the ladies. I tried to choose items that could come from both a husband/boyfriend or just a gal pal. Pretty and practical is the name of the game. If you follow me in Pinterest, you may have seen a few of these on my wish list.

1. Gold Polka Dot Pajamas, Target $24.99
2. Herringbone Painting, Lucy+James (Etsy), $55-83.00
3. Stephanie Johnson Sumatra Cosmetic Bag, Urban Outfitters, $34.00
4. Daushund Letter Holder, Anthropologie $32.00
5. Sequined Camera Strap, Bloom Theory $130.00
6. Voluspa Candle, Amazon $8-24.00
7. Lodge Moccasins, J. Crew $39.50
8. Rose Gold Stud Earrings, Shayan Afshar $98.00
9. Gold Bar Necklace, MomentusNY (Etsy) $43.00
10. Backup iPhone Charger, J.Crew $39.50
11. Goldie Hill Necklace, Mildred & Bernice (Etsy) $60.00
What are your top gift picks?

26 November 2012

Holiday Gift Guide: The Gents

In honor of 'Cyber Monday' I thought it fitting this week to give a a few suggestions when it comes to some good online shopping. Today I wanted to start with the guys. Maybe because I'm doing a little Cyber Monday shopping myself and needed some guidance for what to get Jordan. I personally think my man has some good style and taste. I appreciate that he puts some thought into how he dresses and in turn is willing to offer an honest opinion when I'm buying for myself.

Jess asked me to write a guest holiday blog for her.  She asked that it be a guide to gifts for guys.  I consider myself someone who is pretty good at buying things, usually for myself, so this post is right up my alley.  Here are a few ideas for some holiday gifts for the guys. 

  1. Jeans. Don’t be afraid to buy jeans for your guy.  As long as you know the size, it’s usually a can’t-miss purchase.  Right now, Levi’s are pretty much the only brand of jeans I’m wearing and I can’t say enough about their 511 fit.  It’s called their “skinny” fit, but I find that these won’t make your legs look like two pool cues with shoes at the end.  There is some room in the leg and besides being comfortable they are affordable and durable.  These jeans come in countless washes and there are other fits available outside of the skinny fit so feel free to explore. 

  1. Basic TI wear a button down shirt and dress pants to work every day so I take advantage of any opportunity to dress down and comfort is the name of the game.  You can usually find me in simple cotton t-shirts (both v-neck and crew neck).  I have to say that in terms of comfort and fit, the t-shirts from Gap are number one in my book.  Any t-shirt from their “Essential” collection is a hit.  These shirts are great to layer or wear on their own.  They come in every color under the sun and are also available in some patterns, too.  I highly recommend the v-neck t-shirts, but also love the crew necks as well. 

  1. Key ChainMost people don’t think about it, but a key chain is a great, easy accessory that can have a personal or sentimental touch.  Guys will want it to have some functionality or some sort of uniqueness.  I would recommend the KeySquare by Machine Era Co.  It’s set up as a Kickstarter at the moment, but $36 will get you this key chain that is both unique and functional. 

  1. Beer ClubA few years ago Jess signed me up to receive monthly shipments of various microbrewed beers (this one).  As an employee of a brewery, this gift was right in my wheelhouse.  As a beer lover, it was perfect.  Every other month, 12 bottles (4 styles, 3 bottles of each style) show up on my doorstep.  Keep in mind that some states have different laws regarding the shipment of alcohol, but if your state is on board (like Delaware is) then by all means, drink up.  Cheers! 

  1. Wallet or Money ClipUnless you are George Costanza, carrying a large, bulky, tri-fold wallet should not be something you participate in.  A slim fold wallet or money clip is absolutely the way to go.  These wallets encourage you to only carry what you really need when heading out while keeping a low profile on your person.  This comes in handy when wearing a suit or tuxedo especially to help maintain a slim and classic silhouette.  For a slim fold wallet (with a money clip already incorporated into it) I recommend the Boconi Bifold Money Clip which is available at Nordstroms.  It’s slim, genuine leather and functional.  Everything you could ask for. 

If a money clip is what you’re seeking, any option will be a hit.  I do recommend one with a spring-loaded closure that will adjust to the waves of cash flow that we experience.  Ones without a spring-loaded closure will tend to “stretch” when they carry more cash or cards and when less cash is present, it does not hold it as tightly.  Here’s a classic look money clip available at Nordstroms. 

  1. Shoes/Boots. In the same vein as taking an opportunity to dress down, a pair of classic sneakers can’t be beat.  While Converse All Stars may be the ultimate classic sneaker look, if you want something that is just slightly out of left field while still maintaining a understated tone I recommend Vans Authentic Sneaker.  I love my pair for their comfort and look.  Get them from Zappos with free shipping. 

You can’t go wrong with a great pair of boots either.  I recommend the combat boots from Bed Stu.  They are made of high quality leather and give the classic combat boot look without the bulkiness of a Doc Martin style.  I practically live in this pair. 

  1. Weekender Bag. Whether you’re just heading out for a quick overnight trip or looking for something to use as a carry-on when flying, a durable yet fashionable bag is important.  The folks at Herschel Supply Co. have hit the mark with their Novel bag.  It’s a great way to pack your guy stuff.  It even has a separate compartment for shoes to keep your kicks off of your clean t-shirts.  It can also double as a dirty laundry compartment to keep you worn clothes separate from your clean ones. 

  1. Books. Recently, I’ve started buying books that match my interests.  I’m admittedly not a big reader, but I’m all for it when the topic truly interests me.  For example, I’m a big music fan so I am drawn to books about my favorite bands.  What is even more appealing is when these books a full of more interesting, rare and intimate photos of my favorite rock stars.  One that I flip through frequently is called “Midnight Miles” and it follows Maroon 5 around the world via photos and short entries from the band members. 

A great book for the dog-lover is called “Underwater Dogs  This book truly shows another side of man’s best friend.  It’s a great coffee table book and a great conversation piece. 

With the recent surge in tattoos and their influence in mainstream culture and media, I picked up this great book that features several artists and delves into their impact on what is becoming the new tattoo society.  It’s full of amazing artwork and photos too. Forever: The New Tattoo.

P.S. – Always buy the hardcover. 

Hopefully these ideas will make your holiday shopping easier or will at least get the creative juices flowing and put you on the path to finding what to get for the guy who is just impossible to shop for.  I’m sure that Jess’s shopping will be easier this year because I’m pretty sure that asking me to write this guest post was just a way of tricking me into giving her a list of what I want for Christmas.  We’ll see what happens on the 25th.  Happy Holidays!
I wanted to add a few gift ideas myself that I've used over the years for my hubby.
9. Bar accessories. Men like beer. And gadgets that go with beer are always a winner in our home. Jordan bought himself this Mermaid Bottle Opener from this really cool online shop (that neither of us can remember the name of). I found the same one at Pottery Barn for $6.50. I also purchased him this Bulldog bottle opener for $12.00 from PB for our anniversary last Spring. I'm not sure if he was more excited about the bottle opener or the fact that I left him put it on the wall in our kitchen.
10. Watch. You can't go wrong with a classic gift like a watch. Last Christmas I purchased Jordan a black metal Invicta watch that I found for a steal on Amazon. This season, I'm digging the look of the leather band, like this retro Skagen watch for $54.99 on Amazon. Jordan prefers this Diesel version for $94.15.

11. Personalized stationary. No one ever asks for stationary, but everyone needs it. One thing I've found is that the older you get, the more thank you notes you seem to write. Personalized stationary adds a nice touch when you need to write a quick note to someone and it's nice to have on hand at all times. For Father's Day last year I purchased stationary from Pinhole Press and had Jordan's name imprinted on it.

12. Robe. One last gift (sorry for no photo!). I bought Jordan a robe last Spring for our 2nd wedding anniversary (cotton tradition). A robe is something I don't think any man would buy for himself, but once they have one, they love it. Robes come in handy for those cold winter mornings or when your guy just gets out of the shower but isn't ready to put on the full suit. Pottery Barn has a great selection of unisex robes with the additional option for monogramming.

What are your top gift picks for the men?

18 November 2012

Now Open: Lucy + James Etsy Shop!

I am beyond thrilled to announce my Etsy shop, Lucy + James is officially open. :)
It has taken many late nights, long hours and tired hands, but it's finally here.

This shop offers original, hand painted art done by me. 
Pre-made and custom orders are both available. 

I have 6 completed pieces for sale along with options for custom pieces in both 12x12 and 22x28. 
I am also working on more 12x12 that will be added to the shop hopefully within the next week or two.

Please take a moment and stop by for a visit. 
I hope you all enjoy!

15 November 2012

Inspired: DIY Play Kitchen

With Christmas a month and a half away, I realized I need to get my butt into gear with gifts so I'm not scouring the mall on December 24th with a list of people to buy for. I also am really hoping to DIY a small amount of gifts this year, not to be cheap, but because I find them more personal and honestly really enjoy doing them. I've already had requests from both my mom and mother-in-law for subway sign type art as well as a DIY floral arrangement request from my grandmother and I'm thrilled to get started on them. Since this is the first Christmas Lucy will actually get to (somewhat) understand and enjoy, I really want to make it a good one. That being said, I don't want to spend a ridiculous amount of money on dozens of toys and games that she will get bored with in a matter of weeks.

Lucy honestly doesn't have dozens of 'toys' at our house. I've hand selected a few toys that we've purchased that I hoped she would not only find fun, but also can use to develop certain motor skills or learn something - coloring, puzzles, matching games, alphabet, etc. Honestly she has a ball just putting her crayons into a plastic cup and dumping the cup on the carpet or pushing our basket of recycling around the house, so spending a ton of money on things from Toys R Us honestly probably wouldn't even appeal to her.

Growing up, some of my favorite things to do were pretending to have 'grown up' tasks. I loved playing teacher, cashier, and of course mommy. I found this project a few months back and kept it in my back pocket in case the motivation arose. When we were stuck inside for two days due to Hurricane Sandy, I eventually began to run out of fun ideas to keep Lucy entertained. You might remember our homemade finger paint project. At one point when I was trying to make us breakfast (and Lucy was needing 110% of my attention) I grabbed a few of the closest (and not dangerous) kitchen gadgets and redirected Lucy into the living room. She sat and played with her felt veggies (bought from Ikea) and the wooden spoon, colander and dishes I gave her and she loved it.

I remember having a play kitchen at my grandparents' house growing up and we all loved playing and pretending to cook meals for each other.  The idea of having a play kitchen Lucy's size sounds amazing to me. Even better if I could DIY it myself over buying one. Of course being foodies ourselves, Jordan and I would love it if Lucy had interest in cooking when she got older.

I searched around and found a few great DIY play kitchens either built from scratch or by using old tv stands, dressers, etc.

via and via

I'm hoping that since I'm mentioning this project on the blog, it will motivate me to get my butt into gear and do it. I honestly don't think it will be a difficult one, depending how complex I want to get. I definitely want to make it fun, girly and somewhat realistic.

First step is finding the right nightstands. Sounds like we have some thrifting to do this weekend!

12 November 2012

How Did You Spend YOUR Weekend?

After a long 2.5 hour drive (each way) to attend a wedding in the Poconos on Saturday and a Christening Sunday morning, we spent the second half of our weekend cleaning every rug, curtain, throw pillow, sheet, towel, carpet, and couch in our house. We had fleas.

Anyone who has tackled fleas before knows it is not fun. It's a lot of work to do it and get it done properly. You pretty much need to clean anywhere your pet goes. For us that's every inch of our house.
Here is what we tackled:
-Vaccuum every rug, carpet and couch. Immediately take the dirt from the vaccuum out of the house and into the trash dumpster outside.
- Toss every blanket, throw pillow cover, small rugs, hand towels, sheets, etc into the wash.
- Air out any rugs that don't fit in the washing machine (apparently sunlight helps kill flea eggs).
- Shampoo the couch.
- Flea baths for all. Lyla was easy. The cat, not so much. He was tossed into the bathtub and doused with a bucket of soapy water.
- Follow flea baths with a flea treatment.
- Finally treat the clean rooms with a special flea spray to help kill any eggs. I bought a can for $16 at the vet. Just spray the entire room down and let it fully dry before going in.
Needless to say, I was asleep on the couch by 9PM and these were the only photos I took this weekend for the blog. Monday came too quick, this is going to be another crazy week and I'm already looking forward to Friday.
The good news? Our house is pretty darn clean. Happy Monday, all!

08 November 2012

The Animals Find a Home

A few weeks ago I got around to hanging my animal menagerie and just today I'm getting around to sharing the phot0s with you all.
I took down my herb crates that I've had up for a few years now and have slowly grown tired of seeing on the wall. (Anyone interested?) Maybe I'll repurpose them somehow. I spackled the wall and stuck my animal frame in their place. I think the width of the frame works perfectly for the tiny piece of wall sticking out between out living room, kitchen and foyer. I wish I knew why this piece of wall sticks out. I think it may have something to do with the fact that our kitchen used to be it's own separate room. The previous owners knocked a wall or two down to open up the space into the living room. (If you want to see the layout of the rooms, check out the house tour on the link to the right. Be warned, the photos are severly outdated. I have been mentally planning to take all new photos to update the tour page.)
I put an old chair under the frame that I took from parents' house when I moved out a few years back. It was part of the kitchen set we had when I was growing up, so it does have a bit of sentimental value to it. I'd like to replace it with a slimmer, taller thrifted chair, but have yet to find one I like. This chair will relocate back upstairs to the guest room. (I will now pretend I don't hear any questions regarding when our guest room will be finished.)

This post is also about butts. Animal butts to be exact.
After I made my framed gold animal art, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the other halves of the animals, but kept them handy in a ziplock bag for when I decided. Last week I saw two similar ideas using halved, spray painted animals as magnets. One was on Pinterest, and the other being sold for $14.00 for a 6 pack on Urban Outfitters. Pretty perfect use for my leftover butts, and much cheaper than buying UO version.
I decided to replicate this idea for under $2 since I already had most of the supplies and just needed to buy small round magnets at my local craft store. I was even able to knock this mini project out at the same time I was spray painting the lids to Lucy's toy jars.
The animal hineys are now proudly stuck to our fridge.

Nothing like a bunch of gold animal butts to hold up your family photos.

07 November 2012

Online Window Shopping: Anthropologie

Christmas is coming and it's time for me to make my list for Santa. Here are a few things I've found on Anthro's website that I wouldn't mind unwrapping this December.
What's on your Christmas list?

04 November 2012

Bridal Shower DIY

My best friend's sister is getting married at the end of December. You might remember the BBQ themed baby shower that Ashley's sister threw for her this past summer. I helped Tina with a number of DIY and decor for the baby shower and we worked so well together that I offered her anything she might need for her upcoming wedding. I was thrilled when Tina contacted me a few weeks ago to do some print work for her bridal shower. The shower was this past weekend and I wanted to share with you all a few of the items I made.

All items DIYed by me. Gold frames thrifted.
Monogram silhouette courtesy of Wedding Chicks

Tina explained to me the tea party theme and black and white color scheme along with a few ideas she wanted for decor. I had such a fun time putting the menus together and making the 'Bride To Be' banner. She's a lover of all things Anthropologie like myself and even used their monogrammed mugs as a favor for the bridal shower. 

One of the things Tina mentioned was some sort of bride to be sign for her chair. She didn't request anything specific, so I took the idea and ran with it. I didn't tell her what I was doing until the finished product. 

She loved her 'Future Mrs. Walker' chair sign and I have to say I am pretty pleased with how it turned out myself. This was the first time doing something like this and I had so much fun that I hope it won't be the last. Seriously, anyone have an upcoming bridal shower?

The shower was yesterday and everything was absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately I didn't bring my camera, but I did snap one quick photo on my phone. 

Adorable, right? 

I was also incredibly flattered and quite a bit awestruck that Wedding Chicks gave some love on their Instagram page for the DIY I did using their silhouette printable. 

Next up, planning a baby shower for my other best friend. :)