You won't find me waiting in line at 5am for Black Friday sales, but I can get behind supporting small businesses on Small Business Saturday. Skip the crowds at the mall and start your holiday shopping on the right foot by supporting your locally-owned shops.
As an added incentive to "shop small", American Express is offering a $10 statement credit to cardholders when you make a purchase at a small business this Saturday, November 30th. Click here to register your card and check out what businesses in your area are participating. Free money and supporting your community? Yes!
With Thanksgiving just days away, it's about time to start thinking about holiday cards. For those of you not sending photo cards, I thought I'd share some of the best holiday cards I've come across so far this year.
These tiny cards are awesome. They seem like an especially great idea going into the holidays, when we all get a bit stressed and could use a little note of gratitude and encouragement. These would be so fun to slip to your co-workers, your favorite barista, or the harried cashier helping you on Thanksgiving (please tell me you're not shopping on Thanksgiving). The best part is you don't even have to write anything on them, you can just leave one for someone as an anonymous message from the universe.
Find these and more tiny messages from Emily McDowell here.
My husband and I purchased an Otomi tapestry on our honeymoon in Mexico two years ago, and last weekend I finally figured out a way to hang it up. I'd looked for tapestry or quilt hangers online, but most of them were big and bulky, or just plain ugly. I wanted something simple and delicate to keep the focus on the beautiful embroidery.
The simple technique I came up with ended up being super easy and required less than $10 in supplies from the hardware store. It could be easily adapted to hang quilts, tea towels, or any piece of fabric you'd like to hang.
Refe Tuma and his wife have devoted the month of November to convincing their children that their plastic dinosaurs come to life while they sleep. So far, it looks like the dinos have been getting into quite a lot of trouble...
The scenes they've set up are hilarious, they're obviously having a lot of fun with it. I can't get over that roaring T. Rex- something about his expression just kills me!
I love this idea. I remember my dad doing something similar (though not quite as elaborate) with my favorite stuffed bear, Oatmeal, when I was little and it was so much fun to find him hiding all over the house.
You can check out more photos here and follow their page on Facebook through the month of "Dinovember".
How is this girl wearing a bike helmet with her hair like that? How is there a helmet if there's nothing on her head?
This guy too? What is it- invisible?
Oh wait, it's the helmet OF THE FUTURE!!
That scarf-like thing they're both wearing around their necks- that's the helmet! I know- crazy, right?
This revolutionary helmet was designed by two genius ladies in Sweden. The Hövding helmet contains a special airbag that is triggered in the event of a bike accident. No more bulky shell on your head, no more sweaty helmet hair or pesky straps digging into your chin. The Hövding has you covered.
I remember hearing about this years ago when it was still in the prototype phase. Now, after seven years of research and development, its finally an actual product you can buy. Unfortunately, this kind of innovation doesn't come cheap. One of these bad boys will set you back 399 Euros (about $540)- yikes!
Hopefully they will become wildly successful and the price will come down a bit. Until then, I'll stick to my old-fashioned helmet and dream of the day I can ride with the wind in my hair and a crazy futuristic helmet scarf around my neck.
I'm afraid I need to make a correction. I must retract my excitement for TJ's Pumpkin Spice granola that I shared a few weeks ago in this post. Once I tried it, I must report that, like most store-bought granola, it is too sweet for my taste. I don't know why I continue to be lured into thinking boxed granola will be delicious when I've already found my perfect granola recipe and it is so easy to make. My favorite granola is an adaptation of Early Bird Foods' Farmhand's choice granola.
I first tried Early Bird's granola when it was given to me by my sweet friend Lauren as I was moving out of New York. It was part of a care package of snacks for the road, and once I opened it, I don't think it lasted beyond New Jersey. This granola was unlike any I'd ever tasted, it was crisp and crunchy, but without those tooth-cracking clusters. It was lightly sweet and a little salty. I didn't know then that it was a combo of olive and maple syrup that gave it such a fantastic texture, I just knew it was delicious. Once I finished off that first bag, I was far from New York and didn't know where to get more. Years went by, and I would occasionally think of it when eating yet another mediocre granola. I cannot tell you how excited I was when I stumbled upon the recipe on the blog Orangette last year. I immediately went out and bought the ingredients to make it, and it was every bit as great as I remembered.
The Best Olive Oil and Maple Granola
adapted from Nekisia Davis and Food 52
Makes about 7 cups.
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1 1/4 cup raw pecans, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup pure maple syrup (I prefer grade B)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar (optional)
1 tsp coarse salt, plus more to taste
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat to prevent sticking.
Combine oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, pecans, syrup, olive oil, sugar, and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl and stir. Spread granola mixture in an even layer on the baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until granola is toasted, about 45 minutes.
Remove granola from oven and season with more salt to taste. Let cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
This recipe is delicious as written, but can be easily adapted to suit your tastes. I sometimes omit the brown sugar for a less sweet everyday granola. The pecans are excellent, but walnuts or almonds are also a tasty way to switch it up. Dried cherries, cranberries, or raisins are a delicious addition once the granola is baked and cooled. One ingredient I must recommend you do not omit is the coconut flakes. I'm generally not a fan of coconut, but the flakes don't have much of a coconut flavor once baked. You can usually find them in the bulk section of natural foods stores, and they bake up to a light, crispy texture that really sets this granola apart.
P.S. I do still stand by my recommendation for Trader Joe's Pumpkin Greek Yogurt. It is particularly delicious with this granola.
I've never sent out photo holiday cards before (it hasn't really seemed necessary without babies to show off), but these new glitter cards from Tiny Prints have me reconsidering (does anyone want a photo of my dog dressed as an elf?).
If you're not in the market for holiday cards, they also have glittery party invites...
If you're in need of some holiday glitter, Tiny Prints is having a sale for 20% orders of $49+ through 11/12. They are also currently offering three free stationery samples if you want to give them a test run.
I decided to start a book club recently, in an attempt to avoid hibernating all winter with my Netflix streaming addiction. I'm beginning to plan our first meeting and I'm grappling with a lot of tough questions: What will our club be called? Should we all wear sweaters with patches on the elbows? What snacks should I serve? The one detail that's proving to be the most tricky is possibly the most important: What books should we read? It's a lot of pressure to chose a book for all your friends to read. What if you chose something terrible everyone hates? We're only meeting once a month, so I don't want to waste everyone's time with a lackluster book.
As I do with all my problems, I turned to the internet for advice. There are a ton of sites dedicated to helping you decide what books to read. Here are my impressions of a few:
GoodReads: A popular site I've used before, good for finding new books and sharing your opinions on books you've read. GoodReads allows you to connect with your friend's virtual bookshelves and get recommendations from them. They are also accepting votes for the Best of 2013 lists right now, which are the only major book awards decided by readers.
Your Next Read: Type in a book you like and this site will give you a list of similar books you may also enjoy. Results seem a little mixed, some searches yield similar books and others seem to just give you random titles. This seems like one step up from Amazon's recommendations for me based on my random search histories.
What Should I Read Next? : Very similar to Your Next Read, but seems to give even less useful recommendations. Books are tagged with keywords about the book's subject, themes and location. Many of the keywords seem arbitrary- I don't know many people that choose novels based on their location. Just because I like a novel set in Seattle doesn't mean I want to seek out other books set in Seattle...
Whichbook: A rather interesting way to find a new book. Whichbook gives you a choice of gradient scales that you can manipulate based on what you're in the mood to read. The gradient scales cover everything from "Funny" to "Serious", "Larger than Life" to "Down to Earth", and "Easy" to "Demanding".
The Staff Recommends: Created to act as a web version of the staff recommendation cards often seen in bookstores (which are actually often my most trusted sources of recommendations), this site offers a highly curated selection of books from a McSweeney's editor-at-large. Assuming you agree with his taste in books (so far it looks like I do), this is a great resource. The current selection features only 8 titles, much less overwhelming to look through than the thousands of titles offered on the other sites.
Do you know of any other ways to find great books? Are you old school like me and still go to bookstores to find books?