2015 Calendars

Calendars seem like a big commitment purchase for me. You’re stuck with it all year, you know? Last year I did good in picking this gorgeous one, which doubles to create 8×10 size prints once you’re done with the calendar part, which I think is so genius. If I’m being honest, I didn’t even hang it up as a calendar, I really just loved the art! I can’t wait to hang some of them.

If you’re looking for a great hostess gift, holiday present (so thoughtful for coworkers!) or you’re just ready to think about a new year, here are some of my favorite 2015 designs:

 

20141103020517

Free People Moon Calendar 

 

Rifle Paper Co honey bee wall calendar 2015

Honey Bee via Rifle Paper Co.

rifle paper co Les Fleurs calendar

Les Fleurs by Rifle Paper Co. via Artsy Modern

 

_woodcalendar_ artifact uprising custom photo calendar

Make a custom photo calendar with Artifact Uprising. When the month is done, cut off the calendar and keep the prints to post or frame!

craft a day calendar

Inspire creativity with this Craft-A-Day Calendar from Paper Source.

imagined desk calendar

The Imagined Desks of Historic Women – I love this!

where's waldo wall calendar

If you need a little fun in your life, try the Where’s Waldo Wall Calendar via Barnes & Noble.
(probably a no-brainer for kids but I think it’d be a huge hit at the office too! just don’t be surprised if coworkers linger in your office while they look!)

the year in stitches calendar

This one would make an awesome gift for knitters! Get it from Schoolhouse Electric.

stir and shake calendar via redcruiser

Count down to happy hour with the Stir & Shake calendar‘s beautiful cocktail ingredients.
Gift idea: use the illustrations to accompany recipes for each libation and include with a box of bar-themed gifts like a shaker, stirrer, glasses, and a bottle of liquor and liqueurs.
Throw in fresh fruit or herbs for good measure!

imaginary travels calendar

For the adventurous dreamer, Imaginary Travels. These would be so great framed in a kid’s room!

Calendars that do double-duty when the month is done are so clever. I think most are set up so that you could pretty easily cut off the calendar portion and frame or post the photo/illustration like I did last year. Here are some other favorites I’ve found with a little something extra to offer:

idlewild co rooftop cities calendar

From the same artist as my beloved gem calendar, this gorgeous cities by rooftop calendar. I need it just so I can frame the Barcelona one! (BFOTBM: remember that time we LIVED in Spain?!)

2015_houseplants_calendar_alt_2_1024x1024

Houseplant Postcard Calendar – just cut off the calendar and send a happy note to a friend or use as a gift tag with to accompany small houseplant.

stendig wall calendar via schoolhouse electric

The Stendig is a bold, black and white classic that you can tear-away each month and use as gift wrap.

Which one is your favorite?

Party Planning

In about a month, Mumbles is turning 30.  I’m so excited to celebrate and I’ve been busy pinning to a secret Pinterest board for months, perusing the interwebs for gift ideas, decor and inspiration while simultaneously planning Declan’s 1st birthday party for two weeks later (ahhhh)!  I decided that it’s now or never to pull off a “How I Met Your Mother” themed party since the show ended earlier this year — condolence high five.  Originally I was thinking that the invitations (womp womp…read about that goof here and then give me another condolence high five) could ask guests to help “stock the bar” as gifts for his birthday but being that the the main setting of the show is inside a pub, you can bet that our new bar, Clyde, will be center stage at this shindig.  Here he is, proudly showing off how handy he’s become:

pottery barn clyde bar stick girl jam

Continue reading

Sweet Stuff: Stamps

I love checking the mailbox when I get home from work.  After confirming no spiders have made their homes near the mailbox handle, I find such a delight in discovering a hand-addressed envelope amid the stack of bills and junk.  Isn’t that the best?!  And is it just me or has the U.S. Postal Service really upped their game in the stamp department?  Harry Potter stamps…are you kidding me?!  You know I’m already stocked up to the max.  I hope they sell those bad boys FOREVER.  And I just came across these beauties and wish they would’ve been around for BFOTBM’s vintage circus baby shower a few years ago.

usps vintage circus stamps

I would’ve ordered this set or Johnny Cash ones for Mumbles’s birthday invitations and these would make a clever little stocking stuffer for someone like my dad who doesn’t know how to use email.  And, really, who couldn’t use some stamps to keep in their wallet or desk drawer? If you need a gift for someone, how about stopping by the local post office to see if they’ve got any good ones and you can slip a pack of stamps in with a pack of pretty stationery, a nice pen (this one is my favorite) and even a custom return address stamp and ink pad. Wouldn’t that make such a thoughtful gift?!  I’d love it, that’s for sure.

The Best Gift for New Parents

I realized this morning on my way to work that the one thing new parents need more than anything else is…coffee.  A lot of it. Instead of sending sweets or flowers after a sweet babe is born, be the hero (slash jerky know-it-all) that provides new parent friends with the gift of the gloriousness that is caffeine. This trio of Stumptown Coffee blends or this duo of coffee + chocolate (yum) are both packaged beautifully. For Orange County locals, a quick trip to Kéan Coffee is worth a visit to grab some for you and some for them.  If you’ve got the dough (or just empathy for lack of sleep), you can really take it up a notch by throwing together a nice little gift basket with a pair of travel mugs or go all out with a Keurig system to make life even easier for them.

I miss the process of brewing a pot of coffee in the morning, but my mom bought us a mini Keurig (retails for around $99 – be savvy and use those Bed, Bath & Beyond or Macy’s coupons!) for Christmas and it’s been so convenient and easy to just add a cup of water, pop in a k-cup and be on my way to work. By the way, wouldn’t it be such a thoughtful gift to send to a mama as she begins back at work?  I think so too.

stumptown coffee photo by james ransom

 

How many cups of coffee do you drink a day?

 

[image via James Ransom for Provisions by Food 52]

What I Want for My First Mother’s Day

What do I want for my first Mother’s Day? A bar. Seriously. And, no, not because being a mom has driven me to booze. (Well, not totally…)

At an impromptu dinner party with friends the other night (not sure if ordering in, eating off paper plates and telling people to eat on the couch constitutes as a “dinner party” but just go with it, okay?) I realized that we don’t have a great set up for hosting a party that allows guests to serve themselves a beverage. These were my best girlfriends, though, so I had no reservations telling them to open up my cupboards to find themselves a glass – and some of them even did so without my instruction. But for the guests that don’t know you well enough to rifle through your cabinets without judgement (“oh you keep your baby food near your dog food, huh?” – um, they’re both our children, so yeah. “3 half-used bottles of Nyquil?” – Dude, the last thing you ever don’t want to have when you need it is Nyquil. Am I right? “A whole shelf full of seaweed snack packs?!” – In my defense, those things only come in packs of like 80 at Costco and they’re so dang good!)

Soooo, back to that bar. Right now we’ve got that cute little brass & glass vanity table I scored at Goodwill in the entryway. It’s cute, I love it. But it’s also not very stable and it’s purely for decorative purposes and the occasional pocket dump. (side note: I did intend for this to become a little bar cart/table and planned to paint the back of the mirror with chalkboard paint so I could write out fun phrases like “Cheers!” or the cocktail of the night…but that hasn’t happened yet. And, also, the table is a bit wobbly so I don’t feel comfortable with ten liquor bottles all grouped on top). Thinking that Declan will be crawling and trying to pull himself up pretty soon here, I’d like something a little sturdier in this area and a bar totally fits the bill. It’ll also free up some space on our open kitchen shelving units so we can get the loose glass bottles out of there, away from curious baby fingers.

Here’s what I was looking for…

Color/Style:

  • Medium toned wood to coordinate with our rustic coffee table from West Elm and the reclaimed wood fireplace mantel.
  • Industrial/modern to counterbalance all the wood tones from aforementioned and the floor.
  • Black to complement the inside of the fireplace and the dining room chandelier.
  • White, to be safe. (but then if the white didn’t go well with the white walls, we’d have to paint a HUGE wall…so maybe not.)

Size:

  • Less than 50 inches wide, which rules out a lot of sideboard/buffet style furniture pieces.
  • Height was less of a restriction because it’d be against a really tall wall but we were being conscious of the carbon monoxide detector and thermostat, both on that wall.
  • Since the adjacent hallway is the entryway and the other side is the dining room, it’s a spot that gets a ton of traffic so we also didn’t want something too deep that would protrude off the wall too much.
  • Something hefty that will hold up to toddler abuse later on (and will need to be affixed to the wall in case of toppling by toddler or earthquake).

Function:

  • Storage for tall/irregular-shaped liquor bottles (we already have wine storage underneath our dining room table – though I’m not going to say we couldn’t always use more!).
  • A handy spot to pour drinks that’s open enough to encourage guests to self serve.
  • Cubbies, drawers, shelves or racks to organize miscellaneous barware such as wine/bottle openers, cocktail napkins, toothpicks, serving bowls, an ice bucket, cocktail shaker, glasses and stemware.
  • Enclosed storage to keep glasses and stemware less dusty.

Findings:

West Elm is usually my first go-to because most everything there is just about my style.  This is from the same collection as our coffee table but it’s too short and only has shelves inside, which doesn’t offer the versatile storage options we need.  I was also really drawn to the drama of the Parquetry Armoire, which could totally work as a bar cabinet by removing the hanging bar at the top. But, it just wasn’t right.

The Swig Mini Bar from CB2 gets great reviews and has a simple, clean style that I’m drawn to – plus it comes in white and gray, both fantastic options. But, it was a bit underwhelming and still gave the impression that my guests would have to go digging through the cabinet (most likely crouching down to see the contents inside) to find what they want.

I like the simple design of the Victuals Grey Bar from Crate & Barrel, and I especially like that it has legs off the floor a little. While I didn’t originally set out for grey as a color option, our sofa is a dark charcoal color and we do love grey – in fact, if our bar ever moved from the entryway to the kitchen, it would fit right in with our lower cabinets.  But, this style of cabinet still felt a little too awkward to just open up for guests.  Though there’s a small little pull out tray for mixing up drinks, it feels a little dinky, and I also don’t like the idea of open doors just swaying about, especially with contents stored in them.

Crate & Barrel seems to really get that people like to drink and to do it in style.  The Bourne Bar Cabinet is a sleek midcentury modern style – I am especially swooning over those brass pulls and if I mentioned to Kevin that it even remotely looked like it could belong in Don Draper’s office, he’d buy it for me in a heartbeat.  But, the storage seems small and the space beneath the cabinet seems wasted. It would, however, make for a great little tuck-away office, with space to pull up a chair and a slot in the back for cord management.  Add that bottle of scotch and Mad Men it up!

So, after scouring the internet, here are my top three contenders:

clive-bar-cabinet crate & barrel

The Clive Bar Cabinet from Crate & Barrel does seem like a Clive, doesn’t he?  Tall, handsome, a little rugged. I love him.  The reclaimed wood pieces and iron would pull the room together to create a nice little triangle of pieces along with our coffee table and the mantel, and the iron frame is just off the floor so it’s not wood furniture on wood floor. (That’s a lot of wood.)  Pull-down shelves give guests the go-ahead to grab themselves a glass and pour a drink from the bottles provided in the center, but the bottom closed cabinet can still tuck away things that aren’t readily needed.  Plus, the open shelf at the top allows space for a few styled pieces like a serving bowl and plant, plus it’s open to make room for our in-a-tricky-spot carbon monoxide detector and thermostat – we could easily hide them behind a plant and still have easy access to change the temp. The only downside, as you may have guessed, is the whopping price tag on this bad boy (as BFOTBM always says, “champagne taste, beer budget.” And, in this case, it’s so, so true!)  That aside, I think he’s perfect.  One reviewer (which, now I can’t see the reviews online…fishy…) mentioned that the lower pull-down shelf is too low to be convenient for most folks so I need to take a trip to South Coast Plaza to get a little face time with Clive before we go steady.

clyde bar pottery barn

 

After Clive, the Clyde Bar from Pottery Barn comes in a close second.  Maybe first. I’m fickle.  Clyde looks like a small workhorse, but functional he is!  I was pretty much sold on this guy when I saw that Pottery Barn has ingeniously crafted the cabinet doors to completely wrap around to the side (out of the way – yeah!) and open up to invite guests to come on up and make themselves a cocktail.  That’s just what I wanted, Clyde, thanks! An added bonus is that the top flips up too, providing an extra spot for displaying goods.  The downside to that is that if you’ve got any decorative items living up on top of the cabinet when it’s not in use, that stuff will have to find a new home before guests come over. Hmmm…I’m not sure what to do about Clyde. I pretty much thought I’d found my perfect bar mate but I called around and no Pottery Barn stores have him in store for me to look at.  The dimensions seem very compact but that might be a good thing for that wall — I don’t want this to be a totally overwhelming piece of furniture and since Clyde doesn’t have any glass, legs or open shelving, he’s a dense chunk of black rectangle when he’s all closed up.

patchwork secretary west elm

Lastly, if you know me at all, you probably know that I’ve been dying over the gorgeous Patchwork line of furniture from West Elm for ages. I so, so want the Secretary to work — it’s got the drop-down cabinet and the mix of wood and white, brass handles…totally gorgeous. The con side of the list on this one is pretty short: I don’t love that the left cabinet door must stay open to access where we’d store glasses and barware – it’ll block the entryway hallway and also means that everything else in that cabinet will be visible.  So, yeah, only pretty stuff goes in there.  And, if I’m being honest, I’m a tad concerned that all the different wood colors may be a bit too busy since it’ll be the first thing you see when you walk in the door, and also because it’s the transition piece of furniture between our living room/dining room/entryway.  That’s a lot of pressure for one piece of furniture.

Which one would you pick? Have any other recommendations for me?  What do you want for Mother’s Day?  

 

P.S. For more bar carts and furniture (and drink recipes!), check out my Libations board on Pinterest.

Baby Registry Favorites

Now that Declan is almost 6 months new (seriously, whoa) I’ve had plenty of time to put to use all the items I registered for.  Here’s a roundup of products we’ve gotten a lot of use out of these past few months:

Stick Girl JAM Baby Registry Favorites 1

 

1. Aden+Anais swaddling blankets are on everyone’s list and for good reason too. They’re soft from the get go and large enough to make swaddling simple. Yes, they’re expensive blankets. Get them anyway. Sevenly sometimes has them in stock, which is neat because $7 from your purchase will benefit a worthy cause.

2. Puj Tub — What a great design! Folds flat for easy storage, has magnets so it can stay hidden propped up between a shower curtain and liner (sneaky!) or if you prefer, it’s got a hole to be hung by a hook on the wall, and it conforms shape inside a sink to cushion your little babe for bath time.  Declan has now outgrown this but we used it exclusively for bath time up until a few weeks ago. If you have a larger sink, you’ll get longer use out of it. Now we sometimes use it underneath our knees as a cushion while we bathe him in the tub in this Primo EuroBath.

3. Even if you plan on breastfeeding, sometimes you need to give your babe a bottle. This was definitely the case for us and we were happy we had some on hand in advance. A lot of people like the convenience of the Playtex drop-ins but it also means you have to keep buying the drop-in liners since they’re a one-time use and throw away type of deal. Like the k-cups of the baby bottle world, if you will. We use Born Free glass bottles and really like them and we also have a few Dr. Brown’s plastic since we didn’t know if our daycare provider would allow for glass (she does).  I also still really love these Lifefactory glass bottles that can transition to a sippy cup top, but keep in mind that glass is heavier for littles to handle (hence the silicone sleeve to protect if dropped).

4. Wubbanub. It’s so fun to say. And a clever little thing too. It’s a small little stuffed animal attached to a soothie pacifier, which helps little ones hold on to it so you’re not constantly fishing it off the floor or the creases of the car seat. 

5. Zippered Wet Bag. This is one of those items I didn’t register for but purchased for my diaper bag after he was born so we could put dirty diapers and soiled clothes in it while on-the-go.  It’s either this or buy dog poop bags and keep a roll in your diaper bag and car. (But note that if you buy the ones specifically marketed as disposable dirty diaper baggies, they’re like 5 times more expensive than dog poop bags. You’re welcome. Check out Arm & Hammer, PoopBags.com (for real, that’s a legit website) or any generic brand.  If you’re like me and shop a lot on diapers.com/soap.com just click on the wag.com tab and buy them there and save yourself some money.) I have this wet bag and we love it. We also bought this multi-compartment wet bag for daycare so they could send home dirty clothes in a separate compartment than the clean ones.

 

Stick Girl JAM baby registry favorites 2

6. I have a pretty floral nursing cover, aptly titled (and embroidered on the cover for all to see) Hooter Hiders that stays in my diaper bag. I love it because it has a wire open top to allow some air flow for the little guy. I also adore the Dria Cover, which stays in my pumping bag for work.  I have the Oslo style, though they’re all quite lovely and I wore it multiple times while pregnant. In addition to allowing you to nurse discreetly, both do triple duty as a car seat cover or blanket (but the Dria is much softer and more breathable fabric).

7.  The NoseFrida. Yes, the snotsucker. I know, I know. Sounds gross but it works. And no, you don’t get boogers in your mouth. Promise. Plus, it’s oddly gratifying to see that you’re actually getting gunk out of your kid’s nose. Especially since they’re screaming and wailing all the while.

8. Alba Botanica Multi-Purpose Un-Petroleum Jelly has become a magic elixir in our house. We use it to combat the tiny red bumps and chapped skin Declan gets from all the drooling and hand-slobbering, and to prevent diaper rash.  Even Mumbles and I keep one on our bathroom sink to use for cuticles (if your nail beds suck), parched lips, and dry skin patches.

9. Speaking of snot, Declan’s full of it. Poor kid has had a rough time getting rid of congestion so we run this cool mist humidifier almost every night to keep the air moist so it’s easier for him to sleep soundly and breeeeeaaathe. The machine is very quiet but it does provide a bit of peaceful ambient noise.

10. A Sound Machine. The rule in our house is that baby doesn’t go to sleep without some noise going on.  Because, if he’s put to bed with total silence, the smallest thing like a spoon scraping the first glorious bite of ice cream out of the bowl will wake him up. Not cool, bro.  We’ve got the cute Sleep Sheep from Pottery Barn and it does the job well, though it automatically shuts off after a while. Baaaaaa!

11. Halo Sleep Sack. Since blankets in the crib are a no-no, a wearable blanket is a must. We actually learned about the Halo from a daycare center we interviewed and it’s worked out really well for us.  We might need to get a lighter fabric for summertime, but it helps keep Declan’s feet corralled so he’s not kicking and flailing in his sleep. His arms are another story, however.  We gave the Woombie a try but once he was done with the swaddle phase, he really wanted his arms free.  If you’re looking for a swaddle/straight-jacket experience for baby, give the Woombie a go.

Stick Girl JAM baby registry favorites 3

 

12. Dressing up your kid is probably one of the most fun parts but the honest side of having a newborn is that you get really sick of changing diapers and outfits two minutes after you got your wiggle worm into the last clean one.  Enter zippered pajamas, aka the best things ever invented.  The most superb ones zip closed from the neck down so in the middle of the night when your baby is all snugly and warm, you can just unzip from the foot to belly and get that diaper changed quick. Genius!

13. I don’t know about your baby, but Declan is a spitty kiddy. I never registered for bibs because I associated them with eating food, but Mumbles and I had quite the “aha!” moment when we realized he should be wearing them for the constant drool and aforementioned spit up. Luckily one of my girlfriends gifted us this one from Cotton On, which quickly became the one we reach for first because of it’s large square size.

14. If you’re doing daycare, a backpack or tote bag (with or without your kid’s name on it) is necessary. The bag will carry extra sets of clothes, pacifier, teething ring, burp cloth, socks, diaper cream, lotion, sunscreen, etc. and if it is big enough, would also carry a cooler with bottles for the day. Throw in an empty wet bag so nanny can put soiled clothes in the wet bag and keep everything else clean. Here’s how we do it: we have this cooler lunch tote from Kipling with Declan’s name on it (so the bottles don’t get mixed up), and a wet/dry bag which has two zippered pockets – one for soiled clothes that’s empty at the beginning of the day and another pocket where we put his clean outfits).

15. Burp Cloths. Sure, there’s lots of fancy ones out there and some of our friends and family even made us some really adorable ones. Buuuut, my favorite go-to burp cloths to keep on hand are old school ones like these Gerber cloth diapers. Super cheap, absorbent and big enough to actually catch projectile grossness coming out of your baby’s face and onto the clean shirt you just put on.

 

3 Things I could live without and notes on other items:

My one big baby splurge was this Graham Glider from West Elm. I love it. It’s in our living room. It’s beautiful.  That said, if I was tight on space, I could probably do without it. Declan’s nursery is quite large so we had room to keep our full daybed in there to act like a couch/sleeping space for nights when little man needs some extra cuddle time.  It’s the perfect spot to nurse and do story time for us.  Speaking of nursing, I don’t use the My Brest Friend as often as I should. I should. I really should. And, I’d recommend you use one or the Boppy…or something.  I’ve gotten in the habit of just propping up my arm with pillows but what I can tell you is that my posture is total crap now. And my neck hurts from hunching down.  Lastly, everyone said that I must get a wipe warmer and while it’s a nice spa-like luxury on baby’s bum, truth is, Declan could really care less. When we’re on-the-go or at Grammie’s house, he’s not getting warmed wipes and he is just as smiley so I don’t recommend that one unless you find that your baby absolutely hates being changed and you need something to make the experience more enjoyable.

More…

Of course there’s a zillion things I didn’t mention like video monitors, diapers, wipes, cribs, bedding, changing pads + covers, toys, books, diaper pails, baby carriers, car seats, strollers…geesh! Little babies need lots of stuff!  If you want to pour over more baby registry roundups (I read blog posts and product reviews for hours on end!), clear your afternoon schedule to check out some of my favorites from Lucie’s List, The Wise Baby, Young House Love, 100 Layer CakeletA Cup of JoBubby and Bean, Oh So Beautiful Paper, and Mint Arrow.

 

 

Plum Pretty Sugar Goodness

A few weeks before Declan was born, I received the most gorgeous floral print robe from the lovely team at Plum Pretty Sugar as a gift to wear in the hospital. What a surprise! I can’t think of a better gift to give an expecting mom to make her feel beautiful while walking the halls of the hospital trying to get that baby out. I should know since I was doing laps in that place like it was a Nascar race. Did I mention 27 hours of labor?!

20131204-124742.jpg

Paired with a set of soft socks (the kind with non-slip bottoms would be best) or slippers, it would make for such a thoughtful baby shower gift – something for mom amidst all the baby gear and onesies or as a Welcome Home gift with one of their PJ sets to make her comfortable and feel pretty (instead of the haven’t-showered-in-three-days mess she’s likely to be after the little one arrives). I’ve been wearing my robe around the house way more often than I thought I would. No one tells you how often your boobs will be out after you have a baby if you’re breast feeding. I mean, it’s kind of assumed, I know, but it was still a bit comical to me in our new home, hoping we don’t have nosy neighbors. Normal tops and shirts, especially in those first days, are such an annoyance because you’re constantly having to take them off, pull them down, and move them out of the way so baby can get in there and get some food. All the time. The robe is perfect for covering up modestly, beautifully and quickly when you have friends and family stopping by to meet the babe. Or, in my case, contractors working around your house. With that same convenience in mind, the PJ set cleverly comes with a button-down top to make nursing easy.

20131204-124756.jpg

The robe they sent was impressively packaged making it such a delight to open. I plan to give a few as gifts myself to the special mamas-to-be in my life and if you’ve got a lovely lady on your shopping list this season, be sure to take advantage of the promotions they’ve got going on.  This week the gals at Plum Pretty Sugar are making life easy (especially for those of us running out of time to order and get those gifts wrapped!) with free priority shipping.  Use code HOLIDAYSHIPPING at checkout to have your shipping refunded, valid Dec. 9-15. They’ll have another delightful offer for you next week so do connect with them on Facebook or Instagram, or visit the Plum Pretty Sugar website for robes, loungewear and accessories in stunning, color-rich prints. They even have robes for little ladies! Too much good stuff.

freeshipping_12092013
Plum Pretty Sugar sent the beautiful kimono robe as a maternity gift. All thoughts and opinions are my own.