'Tis Better to Give: My Top Gift Ideas for 2010

This Christmas I did a lot of shopping online. I wanted to give truly thoughtful gifts to people so I actually started my shopping early, and am pretty pleased with the results. My goals for holiday shopping this year were:

1. Stay cost-conscious, and;
2. Surprise the person receiving the gift with something they weren't expecting.

Here are my favorites from this year:
This is my 21st century version of putting a great picture in a frame as a gift (and who doesn't love that?). If you're a Mac user, you can do this from your own computer; if not, you can still use great services like Shutterfly to do something very similar.

I did a lot of creating via iPhoto. I am "that girl" with a camera and as a result have over 8,000 photos in my library. I have so many great shots that there's too many to frame, so I decided to do the next best thing. Books can be made hardcover, softcover, or bound. I chose hardcover, with 25 pages, which totaled about $30 with shipping. I create it, then click "buy," and just wait for my new publication in the mail!

I made a book, like this, for my boyfriend. It chronicles our relationship and includes inside jokes at the bottom-- a little high-school yearbook, I know, but the template is so classy it helps out a bit. (And, um, no. He doesn't visit my blog. Ever.)

And a calendar for my Dad. It had a "pets" theme because our  elderly corgi passed away this year and I wanted to memorialize him and all our other critters in a way that would make my dad smile. Every month has a quote at the bottom related to dogs. This was about $25 to create and purchase.

Ah, Etsy. How do I love thee? This is where the real shopping occurred. And I have been so happy with what I found. The sellers have all been amazing, everything arrived just days after purchasing and many of the sellers contacted me directly to customize my order to just my specifications.

One good way to start is with the  "Pounce" feature:

You can find vintage items-- like these antique cardinal bookends I found from a little store in Oregon for my aunt, for $20. This seller is BDVintage, and their shop had all kinds of great, eclectic finds. 
And of course, there's always great handmade jewelry. As featured in my previous post, this talented girl just opened her store and I've ordered from her twice! She even included cute little gift tags for me as a thank you, which I thought was a great touch. Thank you to seller studioro!

Speaking of jewelry, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my dog's new bling. Yes... dog. Bling.

Here's a modeling shot courtesy of my pup, Presley
My friends have gone crazy over his new "Call My People" Pet ID tag (he got to open it before Christmas). How can you not love that?! I just placed another order from this seller for gifts. Customized, beautiful, and under $20!  The Happy Chihuahua

There was literally something for everyone at Savor's shop. For $15, I got my mom and aunts some absolutely scrumptious handmade soap gift sets. They came packaged with a handmade soap holder and tied with a chic black bow:

This shop's owner is a total sweetheart who even refunds shipping if you pay more than the actual cost. Besides the great gift sets, Savor also offers whipped soaps (one is called Joie de Vivre!), creme scrubs in scents like Red Velvet Cake and Winter Grapefruit, and even has an unscented line for babies/sensitive skin. The hardest part about ordering here was choosing scents. (I should add here that, as a former Laura Mercier employee who was addicted to Creme Brulee products, these are better... and a fraction of the price.) 

At around $5 a bar, it's a great deal-- the soaps are lovely to look at, generous in size, and total indulgences!

Happy Shopping... and Merry Christmas!


The Barefoot Contessa Brings Good Tidings for the Tummy

Ah, the Barefoot Contessa. I have already professed my love for you, stemming from one of my best friend's love for you. Admittedly, my dear N is still much more on the road to becoming the next BC than I am, but that doesn't make my admiration and desire to, well... be you... any less.

Today's episode featured "Festive Fun."

And all that really needs to be said as to why this particular episode grabbed my attention is the menu:

It's festive fun with the Barefoot Contessa who is throwing a dazzling holiday dinner party for friends. A luxurious Seafood Gratin of lobster, halibut and plump pink shrimp in a golden saffron sauce is served. To follow, there's a creamy Pumpkin Mousse then spicy Mulled Wine and festive s'mores stuffed with French Chocolate Bark round a burning brazier in the garden.

I have a particular affinity for mulled wine, as I first tried it on a cold, cozy night in Scotland while living there for a year. The house smelled like cinnamon and the wine was warm and oh so yummy.

As a little (ahem, HUGE) sidenote: When I sent a text to N telling her how fabulous the holiday BC episode was... THIS is what she sent me back.

That would be N, talking to the Barefoot Contessa! 
I wasn't there, but apparently this was the exchange:

N: "Basically, Barefoot Contessa... I love you."

Barefoot Contessa: "I hope you like the new book."

I love you too, BC!!!!


All I Want for Christmas Is... An Awesome Blog Giveaway Alert!

One of my favorite blogs I follow is giverslog. Especially at this time of year, it is a great resource for gift ideas that are thoughtful and creative. So I was thrilled to check it out today and see that there is a great giveaway going on:

Sometimes I don't realize how much I need something until I see it online and then can't stop thinking about it. That is what's going on now with this Silhouette digital cutting tool. 

What is it?
"The Silhouette SD is an electronic cutting tool that connects to your computer allowing you to cut fonts and images in cardstock, vinyl, heat transfer material, etc.

What can it make?
The Silhouette can be used to create scrapbooks, cards, home decor, custom apparel, school projects, glass etched projects, stencils, etc.

 LOVE THIS! I am daydreaming of all the amazing creations I could make with this machine.

Click here to enter and have a chance to win this fabulous Silhouette!


Lust List: November 2010

My tank tops haven't made it to winter storage yet, but even before Halloween, holiday decorations started popping up in retail stores. Depending on the source, the reasons for this are varied-- from a projected upswing in 2010 holiday sales to enticing bargain-savvy consumers with budget-friendly early bird deals. (Christmas in July, anyone?)

Who would fall for such a blatant ploy to encourage consumerism in this down economy?

I would, and I have.

Here are just some of the things on my radar at the moment:

Anything and everything turquoise! From Oh Joy!

It's time for my favorite-- Holiday Party Attire! Tory Burch

Unique Christmas gifts, from vintage to handmade: Etsy.com. For example...

I love this seller for simple and reasonably priced handmade jewelry. I purchased the necklace above on Etsy.

Customized self-inking address stamp, myrubberstamp (also on Etsy). 
About 1/3 of the price of PSA stamps, and just as pretty!

My decorations aren't up yet, but my wheels are already spinning... Coastal Living

Holiday Sets galore! "Beauty in a Box: Nars Junkie" $69 on Sephora.com

A plate of these for the party host... because during the holidays, calories don't count.

Fabulous new pieces from the Swelle Boutique

Anything and everything featured on this blog- I check it at least twice a day- swanky::chic::fete

Uber cute and a total indulgence at $345:

Loving that my favorite magazines are starting to go digital... pictured here, Martha Stewart Living


The Many Faces of the Chandelier

Photo Credit: Antiquesblog.net

Looking through design blogs, interior design magazines-- even when deciding on stationary patterns-- I realized recently that the chandelier is a slight obsession of mine. My eye is drawn to them whatever the capacity; in fact, one thing I love about chandeliers is how varied they can be from one to the next. The fact that there are two that "came with" the house I eventually purchased definitely had influence on my final decision, and I'll admit those light fixtures-- not anything practical, like the new HE washer/dryer-- came to mind as I was writing the down payment check. The idea of a little cottage house with two chandeliers was what helped me make my final decision.  

As a side note, my house has a 1:2 chandelier ratio now.

Nurseries, kitchens, bathrooms, porches, palaces, earrings, outside, inside...
chandeliers aren't a Marie Antoinette exclusive anymore.

But let's start with Versailles anyway.
Palace of Versailles

Dale Chihuly Designs

Glamorous Baby Nursery
Tea Time Chandelier- $1,800 on Anthropologie


Adena Chandeliers


House Beautiful Photo Simon Watson

Design*Sponge's Chandelier Guide