gift guide: great gifts under $50

Hey guys, does anyone know where the first half of December went? I can't be the only one that's feeling a little behind this year, right?!? If you still have a few (or a lot of) gifts to buy, allow me to help with this handy gift guide. Consider it a gift from me to you:

1. Animal Magnets & Cardholders: each of these animals is made of two magnets that stick together, so you can stand them up as card holders, or pull the two halves apart and stick them on the fridge!
2. Cashmere Beanie: no one will ever complain about getting cashmere
3. Bottoms-up Cups: you could gift these little travel cups with a bottle of something to sip in the woods and still come in under $50
4. Balsam & Cedar Candle: not only does this candle make your house smell like a wonderful Christmas tree, the sparkly mercury glass container looks magical when its lit!
5. Gold Leaf Eyeshadow: give her the perfect accessory for New Years: gold eyelids!
6. Strawberry Socks: I love giving and getting fun socks, and Hansel from Basel has some of the cutest socks and tights around. I just wish these strawberry socks came in adult sizes!
7. Make it Ahead Cookbook: The Barefoot Contessa's latest is a no-brainer. Her recipes are always great and everyone loves her. Go to your local bookstore- they will have it. Want more cookbook suggestions? Check out my favorites here and here
8. It's Too Early Mug: Is it too dramatic to call Emily McDowell the voice of her generation? Everything she makes is genius, and her new mugs are no exception.
9. Orla Kiely Water Bottle: Yes, there's another Orla Kiely collection at Target! Water Bottles, yoga mats, suitcases and travel bags! I love it all. 
10. Ceramic Coffee Dripper: If this thing got any more hip, it might spontaneously combust. Gift it with a pound of whatever the latest Blue Bottle replica is for extra cool points. 
11. Spice Gift Sets: Oaktown Spice Shop has an amazing selection of gift sets for all the cooks and foodies on your list, and their quality is top notch. They have hard-to-find spices, interesting salts, and even a kit for making your own tonic water!
12. I Hate Running Shirt: I'm pretty sure everyone hates running, right? Find this and other clever shirts at Thug Life.
13. Forest Critter Garden Pot: plant a little succulent in one of these adorable pots and you've got a sweet gift almost anyone would love
14. 1:Face Charity Watch: they've taken the Tom's Shoes model and applied it to watches. Buy one of these sleek, modern watches and you'll fund one of their selected charities. 
15. Klizia Stapler: who would have thought a stapler could be so cute?

Still can't find something for the person who has everything? I've got more ideas over on my Pinterest board. Or you can always just give everyone a goat


diy wreath

Inspired by trips to the flower mart, I decided to try to make my own wreath this year. I didn't really know what I was doing, but after looking at some Pinterest inspiration and reading a few tutorials, I gave it a shot - and was pretty pleased with the results. It's a little time consuming, and will make a big mess of your living room, but it's not difficult and makes for a nice afternoon project. I highly recommend inviting a friend over and enjoying a little spiked apple cider (it really helps with the hours of wire twisting). I bought my foliage at the SF Flower Mart, but local florists or even well-stocked grocery stores usually carry a good selection at this time of year. Or you can always go foraging for branches in your neighborhood or backyard!

See below for the how-to:


palette picks: forest green

Lately, I've really been coming around to Forest Green. For a long time I didn't have great associations with the color: my childhood school uniform, the Ford Explorer everyone seemed to drive in the 90s (why must car colors always have that gross metallic sheen?). It's also really easy for it to look too Christmasy. Forest Green is undoubtably a very pretty color, but it can really change depending on what its paired with. I like it to brighten it up by combining it with bright, warm colors rather than the predictable navy or brown. This fall, I'm loving the fresh combination of Forest Green with peachy pink, goldenrod and rust:

[Top Palette photo by Susanna Vento. Collage photos Clockwise from Top Left:  Moroccan house via Through the French eye of Design, Peach Green Wallpaper by Lindsay Cowles,  Palm print via Alexandra Heide, Nail polish by Pointless Cafe, Tilda Swinton via fanpop, girl with bun via milk + honey, table and chairs via Architectural Digest, green skirt from Larmoni]


kinda inspired: block shop textiles

Block Shop is a textile company founded by sisters Hopie and Lily Stockman. They create colorful, modern scarves that are entirely handmade in Bagru, India. The sisters work with a cooperative of artists to dye and print their scarves using the traditional block printing methods that have been used for 350 years. The sisters strive to keep alive these textile traditions while ensuring they are environmentally sustainable as well. They use only natural and non-toxic dyes, and fund clean water and healthcare initiatives for the local community in Bagru.

I love the handmade look of block printing, and Block Shop has done a beautiful job of modernizing the art with their fresh color palettes and interesting geometric patterns. They just released their Fall collection and it is gorgeous! Here are my favorites:

Clockwise from top left: Zipper Peony, Mosiac Marigold, Sadleblanket Red Rock, and Temple Coffee 

You can read more about Block Shop in T Magazine and Remodelista. Shop their scarves on their website and follow along on their travel adventures on their Instagram feed.

[Top photo from T Magazine, Center photo and scarf photos from Block Shop]


metallic shoes: yea or nay?

Have you noticed metallic shoes everywhere this season? Shiny leathers that were once reserved for special occasion heels are now showing up in everyday oxfords, flats, boots and sneakers. I must say I'm on the fence about the trend. The part of me that is attracted to all things shiny is saying "yes! gold! gold everywhere!", but the more practical part of me is questioning how easy they are to wear. Plus, as someone with, ahem, not the *smallest* feet in the world, I'm wondering if I really want to draw so much attention to my feet. What about you? Will you be sporting any gold, silver, or bronze shoes this fall?
Clockwise from top right: Silver Anouck Loafer,  Tonk Booties with Gold Accents, Supra Gold/Black Skytops,
Pewter Mary Janes, Rose Gold Keds,  Bass Gold Loafer, DV Silver Slip-ons, and Pewter Ankle Boot

For even more metallic shoes, check out my Pinterest page.

[Top photo via The Shiny Squirrel]


tiny houses

Would you ever consider living in a tiny house? There's a whole tiny house movement happening in response to the trend of houses in the US getting bigger and more expensive (even though families are getting smaller). People live in tiny houses for a variety of reasons, but many people do it to reduce their environmental footprint, eliminating clutter, save money, live debt free, and re-connect with the world outside their front door. You can read about one family's reasons for going tiny here.

I've lived in some pretty small apartments, but I don't know if I'd actually be able to commit to a truly tiny house (we're talking 200 sq ft here). As you may know, I'm not so good with minimalism. I can certainly get behind the idea of scaling down though, especially with rent and housing prices in the Bay Area these days. Being able to build your own home for $30K and not having to worry about a rent or mortgage payment sounds pretty amazing!

Even if you're not ready for a tiny home, I think many houses could benefit from some of the creative storage solutions that people have come up with in their tiny homes. I wish more apartments had as much built-in storage as some of these. Check out those drawers built into the stairs!

This couple built a table with hydraulic legs, so it can be raised to use as a kitchen counter, or lowered for a dining table. Oh, and the sides have hidden drawers! Why doesn't IKEA sell this?

And don't forget the most fun use of lofted space: ceiling hammocks! 

Want to learn more? Watch the documentary Tiny: A Story about Living Small (its available on Netflix) and  check out more of my favorite tiny houses on my Pinterest page. Then buy your own tiny house from Tumbleweed!

[Photos from top to bottom: tiny cabin via Country Living, built-in bookcases via Jessica Helgerson, cabinet drawers via Kokopelia, adjustable table via Dwell, ceiling hammock via Tiny House Pins]


diy inspiration garland

I've been adding some bright and fun decorations to our office so my desk will seem like a more pleasant place to work (it's totally worked and I'm definitely not typing this post from our living room couch, btw). Hanging this colorful inspiration garland added a big splash of color and pattern to the wall with a minimal amount of money and effort.

After making my ribbon hanger, I thought I might be able to use twine to hang even more things above my desk. I wanted something akin to a bulletin board (remember those?) for hanging up photos, magazine clippings, and cards I find inspiring. Even though I love Pinterest, it's still nice to physically pin things up now and then. Rather than buying and having to hang a bulletin board, I just used mini clothespins (which I'd been wanting to buy for ages, they're so adorable!). 

If you want to make your own, all you need is twine, mini clothespins, and tacks. I used mini clips from Cavallini, but Knot & Bow also has some that are even smaller. Just measure out one or two lengths of twine, hang it between two tacks, and then start pinning up your favorite images!

The best part is, it's easy to change what's hanging up without putting more holes in the wall. If I get tired of looking at one image, I just unclip it and and replace it with another. So easy!
Or if I get tired of the whole thing, I'll just pull it down and there will only be 4 tiny tack holes in the wall. No commitment!


the bookshelves of my dreams

Hey, remember it was my birthday last weekend? In case you still want to get me a gift, I'll take these bookshelves and this library ladder please (oh and I'll also need a new house with really high ceilings, thanks). I have been waiting and waiting for the fall issue of domino to come out so I could finally see these bookshelves, and I think they were worth the wait! Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook is an absolute decorating genius, and I'm green with envy over these shelves. 

What's that, you wanted to see the side view? Yep, still fantastic. She styled them beautifully as well. It's so nice to see shelves actually full of books that look like they've been read and used. It seems like so many shelves you see in photo shoots these days are just full of art and vases with a few pretty books thrown in for good measure. Oh, and don't even get me started on how gorgeous those hardwood floors are. 

OK, one more photo. Close-up on that vintage library ladder. I've been wanting one of these since I was a kid. If I had one, I'd be sliding back and forth all day LIKE IT WAS MY JOB. How does that song from Beauty and the Beast go again? Actually, maybe it's better if I don't get one...

Check out the full post on LGN for even more photos. And if you don't quite have the cash for custom built-ins yet, she also has a great post on how to DIY the look using IKEA shelves. 

[all photos from Little Green Notebook]


happy labor day

It's my birthday this weekend, so I'm taking a little hiatus from blogging. I plan to spend the weekend picnicking, eating delicious food, and trying to soak up the last bits of summer. Hope you have a great long weekend- go outside and have some fun!

[photo from Trophy Cupcakes & Parties via Scout]


organizing bookshelves by color

I recently reorganized my bookshelves by color and I'm in love with how they turned out! I previously had them organized by category, which made my inner librarian happy, but wasn't very visually appealing. Read on for a glimpse of my organizing process, and the final results:

There's really no way to do this without making a big ol' mess. I sorted all my books into stacks on the floor according to the color of their spine. Since my bookcases only have three shelves (which are not adjustable), I had to further divide each color stack into short books and tall books. Once I saw how many books I had in each color, I decided to put all the colorful books in my larger bookcase, and the black and white books in the smaller case.

There are many ways to organize the layout of your rainbow. Because of the heights of my shelves, I decided to do a full spectrum of color on each shelf. This proved to be a challenge, as I had far too many red and blue books. I had to get creative with some sideways stacks to get everything to fit.

Ta da! The colorful bookshelf in all it's rainbow glory!

The black and white (and a little grey and gold) bookshelf. It's quite orderly, but not nearly as fun. Looks like I have to only buy colorful books from now on!


new cookbooks

I recently got a peak at many of the new cookbooks that will be coming out this fall and can't wait for all of them to arrive in the shop! Here's my top picks for new and soon-to-be-released cookbooks:

Brown Sugar Kitchen: I'm pretty sure everyone in the Bay Area has been eagerly waiting for Tanya Holland to spill the beans on making her ridiculously delicious chicken and waffles.

Josey Baker Bread: Josey Baker, another local fave, has released a beginner's guide to making bread at home. Now devotees of the Mill's thick slabs of toast won't have to trek all the way to NOPA for their artisanal bread fix. 

The Real Food Cookbook: I'm reading Nina Planck's book Real Food for book club this month (which I highly recommend!) and I can't wait to read this accompanying cookbook. Planck encourages eating real, traditional foods like whole milk, eggs, cheese and lard - yes please!

Bar Tartine: The Tartine books always have the most gorgeous photography and food styling, and this one is no exception. Their recipes for curing and pickling are sure to be interesting.

Flourless: This looks like an excellent dessert book, whether or not you're gluten-free. Rather than using funky hard-to-find flour mixes and gums, the author focuses her recipes on ingredients that are naturally free of gluten. Genius!

Plenty More: I guess Yotam Ottolenghi heard the cries of the masses when we all shouted "The recipes in Jerusalam are amazing! We loved Plenty! Give us more! More!"

Dinner: The Playbook: I don't know about you all, but I've been in a dinner rut lately. Does a tomato salad and popcorn count as dinner? Anything to avoid making pasta again, right? I'm couting on this book to solve all my problems. 

Make it Ahead: The Barefoot Contessa is coming to help you this holiday season. Ina Garten's latest book will show you what you can prep and make ahead so you can throw a party and not be stuck in the kitchen all night. 

[Top photo via Bay Area A List]


papillon press dinosaur cards

Jurassic Party
Are dinosaurs the new owl fox hedgehog? I sure hope so! I love dinosaurs, and I love these birthday cards from Papillon Press. The letterpress studio features a variety of dinosaur designs:

Triceratops birthday
T-Rex birthday
If you're not a fan of dinos (what's wrong with you?), they also have some other cute party animals, like a squirrel and moose. As far as I'm concerned, you can never go wrong with animals in party hats. Cards available on their website, or Etsy page.

[All photos from Papillon Press]


saturday weekender bags

This summer I've got a few shorter weekend getaways planned rather than one big vacation, so obviously I need a new weekender bag, right? Though suitcases with wheels can be more practical for longer trips, a duffel bag seems right when you're just going for a night or two. Plus, maybe a smaller bag would help curb my chronic over-packing?

Kate Spade Saturday has totally sold me on their Weekender Bag with their super fun customization tool. You can choose between two sizes, customize the color placement, and even add a monogram! I must warn you though- the customization tool is totally addicting, I could literally spend all day coming up with new color combos. Here are a few of my favorites:

I would totally spring for the monogram feature. I love personalized embroidery, but I never actually get my initials on things. I think it's more fun to get a word or phrase instead. This bag only gives you space for three letters or numbers, but that still gives you some options. I might do "YES" or "EEK". Which would you choose?

P.S. I'm also in love with the Parker Weekender from Graf & Lantz, though I think its a little out of my price range...

[all photos from Kate Spade Saturday, larger bags customized by yours truly]


monday links

I'm in LA this weekend for a quick work trip, a visit with my mom, and hopefully some sunshine. Here are a few links for your enjoyment this Monday morn:

This video on how ink is made is beautiful and surprisingly mesmerizing. It kinda takes me back to this classic from Sesame Street. 

Two Japanese artists constructed this giant kaleidoscope in a shipping container. How amazing would it be to get to go inside?

Tired of the Bold Italic? Check out The Sans Serif: San Francisco's least reliable, most entertaining source for news. 

[Top photo from Lauren Conrad]


on the hunt: coat racks

Finding a coat rack that's attractive, modern, and doesn't break the bank can be a bit of a challenge. I've been on the hunt for one for our living room and was somewhat surprised by how expensive they can be! I managed to find 8 options below with clean lines, fun shapes, and a price that won't cause sticker shock:

I ended up ordering this one from Target (seen above in the top row). So far it seems to be good quality, and I love the lime green color! 

For even more options (including some that are way, way more than a hundo) check out my Pinterest board.

[Top photo of Peg Coat Rack from CB2]


diy ribbon hanger

I've been working on organizing and decorating our office lately, particularly my desk area. I've been looking for ways to make my desk pretty and inspiring without spending much, so I turned to the craft supplies I already have on hand. I came up with this ribbon hanger as a fun way to put my ribbon collection on display. It's easy, cheap, and a great two-for-one: it livens up the wall with colorful ribbon, and makes it easier to access ribbon for gift wrapping and projects. 

This hanger is not hard to make (you're basically just tying some twine to a stick), but I've outlined the steps below for you:


kinda inspired: kerry cassill

I am a big fan of mixing prints in my home, and I'm constantly being inspired by the prints of bedding and clothing designer Kerry Cassill. All of her prints are block-printed by hand in India on the some of the softest cotton around. The block printing gives her prints an imperfect, handmade look that I love.

She releases about six collections of prints per year in a wide array of florals, geometrics, stripes, and traditional Indian motifs. In spite of how often she releases new prints, she is able to keep her aesthetic constant enough that it's possible to mix and match between collections and have it all work together. 

My current favorite prints are (from top): pink taffy, teal small multi, pink plaid, putty ash, and stripe floral. I want to combine them all to make a totally crazy (and very pink) bed! 

[All images via Kerry Cassill]


paper rosette tips

It's no accident that I'm not calling this post a how-to guide. I don't quite feel qualified to give anyone a guide after the terrible time I had making these %*@&#! rosettes. I wouldn't consider myself an extremely crafty person, but I can usually follow directions and get a pretty decent result. That was not the case with these suckers- they are more complicated than they look! I ended up trying out quite a few tutorials, so I thought I'd share what I learned along the way. Perhaps you can avoid some of my mistakes...

I bought most of the paper I used from Paper Source, so I figured their website would be a good place to find a tutorial. Wrong! Using the measurements they gave, I could barely get the two strips of paper to meet. When attached, they formed a sort of cone shape that would not lay flat without tearing. Fail!

Next stop, Martha Stewart. Oh Queen of craftiness, why is your tutorial even less clear than Paper Source's?! Would some photos of the steps kill you?

OK, time to find some DIYers who know what's up. I found several tutorials using the method explained on Catch my Party. It's similar to the Paper Source method, but you attach 3 fans of folded paper together instead of two. This worked a little better. I could actually get something resembling a rosette shape, but had a hard time attaching the fans with a stapler. I ended up with gaps where the fans of paper were attached (in the photo above, the top white rosette was made with this method). 

The final method I tried worked the best for me. This tutorial from the Broke-Ass Bride produced the cleanest and best-looking rosettes. One VERY IMPORTANT note: in this guide, you're using two 12" sheets of paper, cutting them both in half, and then glueing the four strips of paper together to make one long 6" x 48" strip.  Hopefully your reading comprehension is better than mine, but this wasn't 100% clear to me in the first read-through. I made one using a 6" x 24" strip of paper and ended up with another cone. You can adjust the paper size to make bigger or smaller rosettes, but the length of your paper should always be at least six times the width for this method to work. 

A final note on supplies: I used several types of paper with varying results. A medium-weight paper similar to construction paper will work best. I don't recommend using card stock, it is too thick and really a pain to fold. Paper Source's rolls of solid gift wrap are a good weight, and a good value. The fancy fine papers I used really were mighty fine. They were so soft and had a bit of stretch, but beware- they're ridiculously expensive. In retrospect, I probably should have just used scrapbook paper, but I really, really didn't want to go to Michael's...

Have you ever made rosettes? Am I the only one craft-impaired with these?