Gift Guide: It’s Wedding Season!

Despite the snow on the ground, wedding season must be nearly upon us—I just received my first pearlized envelope in the mail. So what’s a gracious guest to do? Start planning the gift now instead of grabbing whatever’s left on the registry on the way to the reception.

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: Many modern couple just want cash. It’s easy for you, it leaves them free to spend it on whatever they need. Rare is the bride and groom who don’t already live together and really need to stock a new home. I’m not saying don’t go out and get something to wrap up, but if you don’t? Hey, that’s ok. Get a nice card (ahem, we have a few suggestions), throw in some cash and call it a day.

Now on to the more three-dimensional presents! (This is a gift guide after all.) First up: Registries are there for a reason! Believe it or not, nobody wants the $5 set of fish-shaped serving bowls you found at TJ Maxx (true story). Choose something from the couple’s registry, then find a way to make it more fun. Do they want a wok? Fill it with hoisin, soy sauce, rice noodles and a cookbook. Did they register for always-exciting new flatware? Package them up with a napkin and funky napkin ring for each place setting. A box of plates can come wrapped in a tablecloth. You get the idea.

If—and this is a big if—you know the couple really, really well, you may [pause for dramatic effect]… go off registry.

Make sure you’re gift is something they couldn’t register for—maybe something completely custom like the “Story of Us” wall hanging above, or a product handmade by a local artisan, like any of the cast iron pans shaped like Midwestern states below.

Another great option? Find something the couple can do together. Fund a date night (a gift card to their favorite restaurant or wine bar and concert tickets ought to do the trick), give vouchers for a cooking class or start a new hobby (beer or wine-making kit anyone?).

Best friends with the bride?  Give her something truly special: a custom fashion illustration of her dress. Local artist Jen Thompson of Illustrate the Dress created this beauty below (modeled by Miss Mollie Busby on her wedding day).

Whatever you give, do so with love and know that your presence on the dance floor well past 11pm means just as much—if not more—than whatever you set on the gift table 5 hours prior. Happy wedding season!

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So I just started doing yoga…

I know, I know, what is it 2005? A combination of not having (or making) enough spare time, being intimidated and a habit of neglecting my body has kept me from yoga until about a month ago, but now that I’m in, I am in. I’m not going to try to tell you I’ve achieved inner peace, but it really has helped the aches and pains that accompany sitting at a computer for 8+ hours a day, eased the parts of my body I was holding tense without even realizing it, and has done wonders to quiet my inner monologue in times that I really needed it.

(A slightly related anecdote to prove that you so do not have to be in a great place to begin yoga: My first class was the morning after a friend’s birthday, so naturally I slept in until the last possible moment, unaware that most people arrive 15 minutes early as the classes at my gym start ON TIME, if not a few minutes early. By the time I payed my fee, found the classroom and ditched my shoes, the instructor had of course already began with a calming seated pose to quiet everyone down… but seeing as I hadn’t ever done this before, I had to ask whether I was in the right class, where the mats were and squeeze in between two other beginning yogis in the back row… oh and then find my inner breath or whatever. Nonetheless, when I walked out an hour and a half later, I did feel quieter and stronger inside, plus my body felt like it had just had a deep tissue massage. I still wouldn’t recommend rolling in late… but yoga will be able to work its magic even if you do.)

So anyway, without further adieu, a collection for the yogis!

First up: the pants! I owned three pairs of yoga pants before I ever hit up the studio, (What? They’re comfy!) but this pair, hand silk screened by Nic and the Newfie might just get added to my collection soon.

The varying poses in yoga requires a wide range of motion and the Athena top from Mountain Lotus is perfect! Plus it’s made from a lightweight hemp and organic cotton blend, so you can feel good about the resources you’re using and what you’re putting up against your skin.

A mat to cover your mat? Why yes! Yoga Comfort Co.’s Yoga Mat Runner sits on top of your mat to provide a little extra cushion.

Sure a mat bag is nice, but a mat bag that’s also a purse? Now that’s something to celebrate. Check out this innovative design from LslieArt on etsy.

Gift guide: DIY

Let’s be honest, if you’re reading this blog you’re probably pretty darn crafty and you’re thinking about making some of your gifts yourself. Here are a few great ideas and tutorials to get you started!

First up: for your dad, uncle, brother or husband, a tie is always a great choice. But why not put a little extra love into this standard gift by making it yourself? Easy instructions are available at the Purl bee blog.

I’ve been spending some time at Higher Fire, a local ceramics studio, throwing mugs and bowls of all sizes. Most towns have a studio that offers this type of thing—or classes if you’re just starting out. If you’re not feeling ambitious or clay isn’t your thing, check out your local paint your own pottery place.

A few years ago, my sisters bought me a necklace pretty similar to the one above. Now, the Bayside Bride blog offers easy instructions for how to make it!

Gift guide: For the birds

Hello, my name is Kristin and I am addicted to bird-themed accessories. There’s a 12 step program for this, right? First step, admitting you have a problem. Truth be told, I have no less than two feather necklaces, one bird necklace, two pairs of feather earrings, a feather ring and a feather bracelet sitting on my dresser right now. Oh, and a feather-print dress in my closet. So anyway, I see no reason not to continue the theme!

We’ll start with something practical. This transparent resin bracelet by Rosella Resin features a polka dot feather from a spotted guinea fowl. It’s graphic enough to spice up any simple, modern ensemble, yet earthy enough to appeal to a granola girl as well.

Now for something a little more fanciful—amazing feather headpieces by Arturo Rios. I know hats are just starting to catch on over here in the U.S., but these are really just too beautiful to pass up. If you can’t imagine placing them on your head, what about on a table as your centerpiece or affixed to a light fixture in your home?

Feather hair extensions were very trendy this summer, but I think they’ll stick around for a couple more months. Many shops on etsy offer them, including this set from futska. I love the look, but I’m still trying to decide if they’re worth it! Luckily, these are so affordable it’s worth the gamble.

Twelve (or more) Days of Christmas

Good morning dear readers! I have a confession to make: I haven’t sent out Christmas cards for two years. Somehow each December seems to fly by and before I know it, I’m heading to my parents for the holidays and my stack of cards is still sitting on the dining room table. But this year, in an effort to show how much I value those who make my life better, I’m going to try. I may or may not succeed 100%, but at least I’m making the effort!

Since I can’t send a card to each and every one of you (although if you email me your address, I’ll put you on the list!), my gift to you all this holiday season will be to give 110% on the blogging front. Truth be told, I’ve been saving up some awesome ideas for weeks now, so from now until Christmas, my plan is to post at least every other day (do the math, it’ll make the title of this post make more sense). From décor to gift ideas, I hope I can share a little inspiration and help thaw the brain freeze that can accompany trying to find the perfect present.

An aside: This year, I’ve chosen not to use the politically correct “holiday” in lieu of Christmas. Not because I’m ignoring the other holidays that fall at this time of year, but simply because that’s what I celebrate. Sometimes we take such drastic steps to make sure no one is left out that we end up over-generalizing or making the world feel like one homogenized landscape rather than celebrating what makes each culture unique. I hope you can use the ideas I write about in your own traditions this season, and please feel free to leave comments about how you’d use these ideas in your life!

Plaid Friday | Small Business Saturday

So your turkey is brining, pies are in the oven… now it’s time to decide what to do with the rest of your week. If you’re like me, you stay at home on Black Friday. Sure, I could get a great deal on a new TV, but I’d also have to get up at 4am and risk getting trampled to death by my fellow bargain hunters. Uhhh… no thanks.

However, this year several shop local movements are tempting me to brave the traffic and push thru my day-after-Thanksgiving food hangover. I’m still not waking up at 4am though. You’re going to have to give me a lot more than a discount to get me out of bed at that hour.

Plaid Friday—the obvious alternative to Black Friday—is simply encouraging shoppers to swap the lines and crowds at your local big box shop for a more pleasant experience at an independent retailer. Not only do you eliminate the risk of a fight breaking out in aisle 87, you might actually get some decent customer service out of the deal and find goods that no one else will have. Plus, no need to be an early bird. Have I mentioned cutting your REM sleep to three hours to go shopping is insane?

If you simply must get your Black Friday rush, Small Business Saturday is for you. Same idea as Plaid Friday: support your local economy and celebrate what makes your town different from thousands of other mall-ridden cities. Take advantage of these opportunities to show your support for small businesses!