2013 Gift Guide for Men

December is just around the corner and I'm starting to think about gifting!  I find Rob impossible to shop for, but here are a few ideas that might work for the man in your life.  Does anyone have any other ideas?  What will you be buying this year?  I seem to be drink-heavy this year, which was unintentional.

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#1 - Patagonia Better Sweater - I have two of these and wear them all the time.  They are cozy and warm and come in a range of colors.  They aren't too outdoorsy that you'll be out of place wearing one in, say, Brooklyn (and if you wear one in Denver, you'll just blend in).

#2 - Whiskey Stones - Rob uses these in his cocktails and they seem to work well for keeping a drink cool without watering the drink down.  We store ours in the freezer so they are always chilled and these would make a nice stocking stuffer.  If your man is into making cocktails at home, you could also consider this large, square ice cube tray.  This WSJ article describes in detail why the shape of your ice matters!  If you live in Denver, Williams & Graham even sells their giant ice cubes either at the bar or at Proper Pour in the Source.

#3 - Smathers & Branson Lumberjack Needlepoint Flask - I've already revealed my obsession with buffalo plaid and Smathers & Branson is a brand I love - this combines both.  This is perfect for tailgating, Christmas tree hunting, and general tomfoolery. 

#4 - Barbour Liddesdale Quilted Jacket - My favorite go-to coat for men that keeps you reasonably warm (this isn't a winter coat, but it is perfect for fall and spring) and will always be in style.  This looks just as snazzy with jeans as it does paired for dressier occasions. You can't go wrong with Barbour.

#5 - Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth - The possibilities are endless!  Listen to music or podcasts in the shower, when you are outside doing yard work, when you are camping and don't want to run down the car battery, etc. We have used ours in all of the aforementioned situations and love the convenience and ability to recharge.

#6 - Decanter and Pewter Decanter Tags - Perfect for the liquor aficionado to class up the bar area and don't forget the tags that come in 8 options (including blank so you can customize).  

#7 - Hermetus Bottle Opener & Resealer - Another stocking stuffer item, this not only opens bottles, but reseals them!  I don't know how this technology works, but with the increasing number of craft beers that come in bombers, I think this would come in handy.  

#8 - Penfield Big Bear T-shirt - Just for fun, comes in an array of colors. 

#9 - Leather Koozie - Sure, the foam versions are fun, but why not class it up with leather koozies? J.L. Hulme also offers a version that can be monogrammed! 

#10 - Extracto Coffee - Aside from Monmouth Coffee in London (and they won't ship to the states - I've asked), the best cup of joe I've ever had was at Extracto Coffee in Portland this summer.  Luckily, the beans can be ordered online.

#11 - Brooks Brothers Manicure Set - For the gentleman who travels regularly, the tools that always come in handy on the road.  You could put one of these together yourself and save quite a bit of money, but these items will always be useful (I use Rob's mini-scissors on every trip).  The kit contains nail and cuticle scissors, a nail file and tweezers.

#12 - The Beer Buckle - Perfect for the social man in your life, this buckle allows him to carry a beer AND have two hands free.  

#13 - Ramp Bamboo Ski Poles - If skiing is on the agenda this year, maybe a snazzy set of poles is in order?  I don't know about you, but I have the random poles that came with my first set of skis and I've never given them much thought.  I like the look of these!

Print Smitten

Are you all sick of my posts about stationery?  I'll never get enough of cute paper goods, and Print Smitten is no exception.  There are adorable options for every day, lovely customized cards for couples (perfect for wedding thank you notes), and funny cards to send when you've messed up (I can particularly relate to "I'm Sorry for what I said when I was hungry").  And I know it seems a bit early for holiday paper, but Starbucks has released holiday cups, so why not?  There are some clever gift card options - I love "Naughty or Nice!"

How cute is this advent calendar? And it is only $30!  All images credit to Print Smitten.

Holiday Stamps

Is it too early to be thinking about Christmas?  The U.S. Postal Service released its first ever holiday stamp (at the public's request) in 1962 and due to the popularity of the first stamp, they became a yearly tradition.  Thirty years later, you could not only get a traditional holiday image (mistletoe, decorated trees, etc.) but also stamps for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Eid, and more religious Christmas stamps.  This year, the new arrivals are a poinsettia, the gingerbread houses, an evergreen wreath and the snowflakes.  Unfortunately, the wreath is for international mail (great if you send a lot of cards abroad) and the snowflakes are for bulk mail, but the poinsettias and gingerbread houses are festive options.  It's never to early to plan for sending holiday cards!

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All images credit to the U.S. Postal Service.

Holidays 2013

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Happy New Year!  The holidays passed in a blur of travel, tree-cutting, Handel's Messiah, time with family and friends, walks in our old neighborhood in Boston, a belated Christmas celebration with my parents, a broken furnace (welcome to home ownership!), skiing and festivities in Vail with friends, and finally a mustache and wig New Year's Eve party tonight!  Whether you are one for resolutions or not, I find it is hard to let the arrival of a new year pass without thinking about what you want to focus on or accomplish in the coming year.  It is a natural time to hit the reset button and take a step back to think about what is important and who or what deserves more focus in the next year.

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For the record, I'm a resolutions girl.  For as long as I can remember, I've started each year by making a list of resolutions.  I try not to fret about those that I didn't accomplish; if I still want to work toward them, I add them to the list for the next year.  If not, I let them fall to the wayside.  If you enjoy goal setting, resolutions, etc., I'd suggest reading Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project.  Her book offers a methodical and relatable approach to changing aspects of your life with which you are not happy.  I'm making it sound like a self help book, which it isn't...  

I keep my resolutions in a running Word document so I can look back to see what I wanted to accomplish in, say, 2006.  It is comforting to see that I've moved away from goals like "lose 10 pounds" to focus instead on reading, visiting family and friends, being creative, and working toward achieving life goals.  I do try to make most of the goals measurable (e.g., read 30 books, run a marathon in X time).  And I love reading over my resolutions from time to time during the year to remind myself of what I want to accomplish.

Do you set New Year's Resolutions or goals for the coming year?  If so, care to share any of them?  I'll start things off... I want to read at least 30 books for pleasure, improve my golf game (this means playing more than twice like I did this year), work on my calligraphy (that's a holdover from last year), make homemade cards for two holidays, run a sub-3 hour marathon, travel to 2 new countries (I have my eye on SE Asia), and really celebrate holidays!  The last one is something I've been thinking a lot about lately - I want to think more about making holidays (not just Christmas, but all holidays) into a celebration by doing something special to acknowledge the day.  It might mean sending cards to friends or inviting folks over for a dinner party or just putting up a few decorations, but generally just enjoying the opportunity to celebrate.

Happy New Year!  

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Homemade Advent Calendars

Last year, I posted about advent calendars.  I love our tradition of hanging our advent calendar and alternating days where we fill it for each other.  Ours looks like this.  I adore the version I posted about before from Terrain and the newer verison they have where the pouches hang from a grain sack; however, I've seen a number of options that you make yourself.  

First, I found this Puzzle Advent on You Are My Fave.  What a neat idea!  Head over to the You Are My Fave website for step-by-step instructions on making this.  All images credit to You Are My Fave.


The latest issue of Martha Stewart Living showed a super simple version made of different sized envelopes that hang from the wall.  Paper-Source would be an excellent source for envelopes (or MS suggests Paper Presentation).  Online, Martha also suggests hanging paper treat bags from a string or ribbon with clothespins.  Etsy has a ton of cute paper treat bags (e.g., chevron stripes, a mix of patterns on kraft paper, polka dots, and regular stripes) and also decorative clothespins.  Image credit to Martha Stewart.

Another take on using clothespins for an advent calendar is pictured below courtsey of Visual Heart.  If you don't want to paint clothespins yourself, definitely check out Etsy (I plan to use decorative clothespins to hang our Christmas cards this year so I ordered some of these already).  Head over to Visual Heart for instructions and image credit also to Visual Heart.


Finally, an option that is a bit more complicated but certainly a kid-pleaser is the piñata advent calendar!  Instructions to make this awesome calendar can be found on Handmade Charlotte.  I can only imagine how excited kids would be to break open a piñata every day leading up to Christmas.  All images credit to Handmade Charlotte.


Finally, there is the Whisky Advent Calendar for adults!  The calendar pictured below retails for $240, but you could easily DIY.  You could combine the box advent calendar above with your own nips of whiskey or a spirit of your choice...