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holiday gift giving guide 2015 – book suggestions from the girls

December 9, 2015

For al

humansAs Oprah says “What I know for sure…” is the list of reco books is forever long. Feel free to comment with some of your favorites below!

From Christina- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (I second this suggestion, loved it!) Furiously Happy by Jennifer Lawson- serious subjects, but laugh out loud funny.  She also wrote Let’s Pretend this Never Happened– awesome as well. Favorite non-fiction is How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims – the former dean of freshman at Stanford- great ideas for raising  kids who are self sufficient. 

Ali- Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Julie- Just read a YA book with my daughter- A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass. Very sweet.

Amy- Humans of New York is a fantastic book gift- coffee table book too- love love love it. Carry On, Warrior for all the moms by Glennon Doyle Melton. Uprooted by Naoimi Novik is a grown-up fairytale, Bone Clocks by David Mitchell was weird and wonderful, and The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Cradley is a YA book that I personally adored and found fantastic!

Jennifer- My husband suggested this book for his dad:  Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience
And my husband LOVED this book a few years back – Salt: A World History

On my list to check out- My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinham and Songs of Willow Frost by James Ford (he also wrote Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet) For more of my favorite books, go to the right side bar of this page and choose the drop down under category of “bedside table”. You will see quite a list!

I always want to hear what you all are reading or giving!

holiday gift giving guide 2015 – books for men

December 7, 2015

booksI think most male gift lists circle around alcohol and tools when I see them. I am aiming for something different with this list!

You can only know what guys want by asking them what they like- let’s start with books- I asked some guys I know for a quick list of their favorite books-

My father-in-law reads 2 books at a time- his rec’s are:

The Generals– by Winston Groom, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen, and Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Tom’s (my husband) favorites are All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results by Adrian Gostick, The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Our friend Brian’s favorites are The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and Fighter Pilot by Robin Olds

From my brother-in-law Bill who has read more books than anyone I’ve ever known- These are “top-of-my-head ideas. I’m sure I will have more once I get home tonight and look in my library:”

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy – his BEST book, by far. One of the great American novels, in Moby Dick category.
American Tabloid by James Ellroy – utterly thrilling. He also wrote LA Confidential, etc. Very edgy stuff.
Relic by Preston & Child – love all of their books. This is where to start.
The Devil You Know by Mike Carey – London with ghosts & zombies, really good.
Day by Day Armageddon by JL Bourne – another cool twist on zombies.
Moby Dick – not for everyone, but AMAZING…or, just get Heart of the Sea.
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson- Quick! Before the movie comes out!
The Alienist by Caleb Carr – STILL one of the best, creepiest books I’ve ever read.
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris – all-time great. Terrifying and fun.
Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield – the historical-fiction account of the Battle of Thermopylae (the 300, Spartans). EPIC!
Fatherland by Robert Harris – what if Hitler won World War II? One of the best historical fictions, ever.
Live From New York – The History of Saturday Night Live. Absolute entertainment from beginning to end. (non-fiction)
Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss – Historical fiction (can you tell I love HF?) set in London and the first stock market.
Any/All Tom Clancy – Red Storm Rising is my favorite
Point of Impact – First Stephen Hunter book. Tom Clancy meets American Sniper. For the conservative male:)
Heart of Darkness – like Moby Dick, STILL blows me away. Every sentence is poetry.
An Army at Dawn by Rik Atkinsson – first of his World War II trilogy. Awesome (non-fiction)
The Last Lion by William Manchester. Really readable history about one of history’s greatest men (non-fiction)
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren – again, the classics are the classics because they’re great!
Gorky park by Martin Cruz Smith. Love

These should keep you all busy for awhile. Soon to come- some of the favorite books that girlfriends have read!




holiday gift giving 2015

December 6, 2015

Kano-DIY-Computer-KitI have to laugh. I had no idea so many of you are waiting on these gift lists- !!! Since I have never done affiliate links, I never knew how many of you have shopped the links. These last two weeks I have gotten texts and emails like “Where are the gift lists?!!”

So, here are some on my mind-

From my friend Maureen-

for the tweens- Rookie Yearbook One – I clicked on this and think it sounds awesome!

Mimo Power – these look cool too!

For tech engaged kids- Kano Computer Kit– where do you guys find these cool ideas? I can think of 2 boys in my family would love this!

for me – I mean moms- Eberjey Gisele Pajamas– I have these in navy from our local Satin Camisole- they are so soft

Pioneer Womans favorite Knife- Wusthof Classic Nikiri– My friend Rebecca reminded me of this that was on my list before. It’s still MY favorite knife and she gave a bunch last year which became all their favorite gifts!

Other favorite subscriptions I like to give for kids- Foodstirs, Kiwi Crates, Little Passports.

More to come- send me your lists!

it’s beginning to look a lot like online shopping

November 18, 2015

xmasHi there! It’s been awhile. I am knee deep in prepping for 2 upcoming December kid’s birthdays and holiday planning. So, basically I am racking my brain to come up with gift ideas that make my kids excited- and make me want to invite more things into our house!

So far- here are a few of my favorite things this month-

The Lettermate. My sister sent this link to me and I had ordered it in less than 2 minutes. I LOVE good handwriting. I have tried calligraphy too many times to mention, and I deeply respect a good looking envelope. So, this is the best $10 I could have spent in order to make my addresses look as pro as they can get.

For my little:

Hello shiso. You all know I am getting pounded over here with my daughters love for cats- and I am slowly giving in by buying headbands like these!  Easy gift to give and my girl loves them.

Felt Tales– a set of these were handed down to us and my daughter has loved doing it for over 2 years. I just ordered a new mermaid one for her bday- love that there is no mess and can be a car or bedroom toy.

Uni the Unicorn– love the twist this book has… this unicorn doesn’t believe in GIRLS! Too cute. Clothes Pony sells this locally.

Singing Machine- Karaoke– my mom send this to my daughter for her bday in December- we all know kids love to hear their own voice! Had  great reviews and I think she may freak out.

For my boys:

Well, this is always hard as their wishlist becomes more unrealistic each year!

The Snow Kick Scooter– Our local Learning Express sent out a video of this and I think they look cool- anything to keep us moving in the winter! (On sale locally for $79)

Adult coloring books are everywhere right now- saw a cool animal one at Michael’s for my soon to be 11 year old. I think he will love learning how to draw these faces, etc.

Hopefully my mother in law doesn’t mind me sharing this find she had- The RC Tarantula. My 8 year old loves things like this- and I told her that she has nailed it!

Another amazing idea she came across- The IPad Paintbrush– I want one! great reviews.

For me:

I am hoping for PW’s new Dinnertime! cookbook and a subscription to the Food Network magazine. (It’s all about food for me!)

My mother-in-law gave me a ChicWrap for my bday as “Ree” uses it -and frankly, if Ree likes it, I do too! I love how my saran wrap doesn’t get stuck anymore!  Oh, Ree, why can’t I just head to your place and cook beside you to learn all your tricks? (Or Ina for that matter, the Hamptons would be nice.)

Happy Thanksgiving to you all next week! Always love getting your gift ideas!









october goods

October 13, 2015

catsI love this month! It’s so gorgeous out and I love the crisp air at night. Why can’t fall last 6 months?

Here’s what’s new over here-

Brooke loves cats. Which is funny as I am not a big fan and am allergic. She spotted cat shoes at Nordstrom over the summer and has wanted them ever since. Last week we passed these shoes again and she begged to try them on. I asked the salesperson about them as they are kind of jellyish and she said parents rave about them. They have some smell combat that reminds me of a strawberry shortcake doll- AMAZING. Plus, when she leaves them in our mudroom, they smell wonderful and fight the terrible smell of the boy’s UA shoes. Why can’t they put this smelling combat in my boys shoes!? Seriously.  As a side note, I tried so very hard to get her to buy these ballet shoes rather than those cats- but even the salesperson knew I was dead ended. In all honesty, the cat shoes are growing on me, but–  If you can buy a pair, buy the ballet ones- TOO CUTE!

Williams Sonoma has restocked their fall candles and they smell wonderful. All their essential oil candles are worth smelling if you can stop in. Makes your house smell like fall.

So, if I can’t be Jennifer Aniston, I may as well try her Living Proof line. With the rage all about the Living Proof Dry Shampoo, I picked up a can at Nordstrom. It definitely does the trick, but don’t spray at the hairline else you will look like Casper- like I did heading late to tennis one day!! I was licking my finger in the car to rub it out! I guess the point is to spray IN YOUR HAIR- not on your skin!

Yesterday, I dusted off an Ina Garten cookbook and made her Homemade Granola Bars.   Ina never disappoints! I felt like the number one mom ever until my kids were like “These are awesome!” and then grabbed the corn syrup Target bars on the way to school. I will still make them again as they were super easy and so delicious.  Next up is her Baked Potatoes with Yogurt and Sour Cream. That is on the menu for tomorrow night! And for dessert this weekend- is Cooking Lights Hasselback Apples. Doesn’t it look amazing?  Please let me know if you try any of these!

And, always- I enjoy hearing from you. I have joked that as a blogger, you can often feel like you are having a very one-sided convo… it’s lonely somedays! Thanks for reading and feel free to comment!

september basics

September 29, 2015

comeawayI have been doing lots of fall shopping. My ten year old suddenly had no clothes that fit!. Sadly, his stuff isn’t too interesting to me- all my boys want are shorts and sportswear!!

Found these unicorn leggings at Target for Brooke- they are too cute for such a good price.  And my favorite cardigans for her come from Lands End- so soft and sweet- Sophie.

My friend Heather introduced me to the Madewell slub v-neck tees and I am wearing mine daily. At this point of the year, I needed new ones so it was great to find a good fit- they run big, FYI.  I also love the Cotton Citizen tees that are sold locally at Solemates- the softest fabric and they wash great.

As for shoes- I bought these Andre Assous shoes when I was in Chicago and they feel like slippers.

My friend Susan from restyle design gave me the Lafco Ski House candle for my birthday. Love this smell and she told me that after she uses them, she cleans it out and uses as a makeup brush holder or organizer in her home. What a beautiful idea! And have you smelled Jo Malone’s new scent- Mimosa & Cardamom? I just added the candle to my guest room as we are very “booked” this October!

Speaking of books… Just started reading Come Away with Me, by Karma Brown. Karma is actually a friend of mine from my working days in Chicago. Totally excited for her to see her book getting amazing reviews! I am 20% in and in awe she wrote such a great book! I about fell over tonight when I was on my local library page and her book came up as a recommended book for me!!! Wow. Congrats, Karma!

I am also looking forward to JoJo Moyes new release – After You.

Looking forward to fall arriving in Colorado…

late august

August 23, 2015

porchLove this time of year. We are eating outside and staying outside more- it’s been beautiful in Colorado!

I always share my favorite recipes so here is my most recent home run. Fish Tacos with Avocado Sweet Corn Slaw by Iowa Girl Eats. I bought halibut (never cheap, but so delicious) and omitted the cabbage as I just don’t like it! But everything else, we LOVED. My kids gobbled it up and my husband said it was better that the fish tacos we always go out to eat for. High praise! She has the best recipes over there- search them and tell me if you find some you love! Haven’t ever made one we didn’t like. (after we all had seconds, I didn’t even use a corn tortilla, just made it into a salad and it was just as good).

We hung a porch swing this month. I hesitated for years as I wasn’t sure if it would just collect dust, or collect appointments to the plastic surgeon. So far, so good. I bought this Sunday Porch Swing at Ballard on major sale- which is good because unless you hang it yourself, you have that bill to pay too. I also bought rope instead of the chain and that wasn’t expensive at all, but added a lot more character to the swing. We have used it everyday since it was hung. Read the reviews if you are considering it!

I stumbled upon Original Sprout hair products for my daughter and have now spread the bottles into my boys showers, too. The deep conditioner is my favorite for Brooke as her fine hair gets so knotted – and it smells so good. It actually helps me know if my middle son washed his hair rather than just wetting it! Plus, People magazine featured Princess George’s favorite things and supposedly he even uses it- if it’s good enough for royalty…

Another note about hair, my sister had a wetbrush when we saw her in Chicago. I quickly bought one on amazon for the rest of our trip and then bought another for me at Target when we got home. If you need to brush hair that’s wet, this is the brush.

TuffTaag is now my top choice to have on our suitcases for travel. These things are indestructible and easy to spot. It was time to move away from furious scribbling on a flimsy temporary bag tag at the airport at curbside check-in!

Finally, an early bday present for me was an Optrix. Most of you know I am crazy for photography and I have wanted an underwater case to be able to photograph my kids with my phone. Optrix seemed to be the clear winner and it’s soooo easy to use. I bought the one with the 4 lenses and have found I use two mostly- and just love this extra point of view!

That’s all for August- my boys start school in the morning! Always love hearing from you all- let me know if you have any great summertime finds!


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