I'll Take It!

Friday, December 23, 2011

My birthday was on the 20th, and one of my best biddies sent me a bday present in the mail, with this UHMAZING card inside!  Tell me that's not the best birthday card a gal can get!

Wrap it Up!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's the holiday season.  If per chance your family doesn't have a strange cult-like affinity for all things associated with wrapping paper like mine does, now's your chance to brush up.  At an early age I was inducted into this strange wrapping paper appreciation/rules/guide book type of gang: my family.  I was perhaps 5 years of age when my Aunt Leslie sat me down and taught me how to tie an intricate bow that looked something like this:

No matter my underdeveloped finger dexterity that all young children fall prey to (have you ever tried to teach 2nd graders how to crochet to build finger dexterity?  Because I have.  It ain't pretty.).  At 5, I was wrapping presents and tying bows with the best of them.  I still to this day have very rarely ripped wrapping paper--in our family we like to keep wrapping paper for at least 20 years and as such gently pry tape off the corners of gifts to preserve the paper for all eternity.  The benefits of such actions are numerous!  Every holiday you have a ridiculous amount of paper to select from (the paper must always be appropriate for the recipient of the gift), you can save by not purchasing new wrapping paper every time you see some (like we can resist), most often times the gift giver will engage in deep conversation regarding the history of the particular paper with the recipient prior to being allowed to open the gift, and let's not forget that some day we may just start a wrapping paper museum.

There are rules in my family that must be followed.  The first rule about wrapping paper cult is that you don't talk about wrapping paper cult.  It continues: you must wrap well.  Clean crisp corners are a given.  If you can't use your fingernail or some other object to create the most straight perfect lines to envelope the package (if rectangular or square) then you won't cut it in my family.  Bags are a faux pas only to be used when there is no other earthly way to wrap a gift.  If you do use a bag, you better have a good reason and there also better be some intricate tissue layering and bow curling.  Everything must have a bow, and don't dare use a stick-on.  Tags are less strict, I'd say on average 47% of gifts lose their tagging while in transit or otherwise, but this is viewed as "fun" or flat out omitted.  The overall taste and feel of the wrapping paper must be appropriate for the gift and recipient, and in most cases should illicit a comment on how well it is matched with the recipient (manly deer paper for the manly grandfather).  You must not rip the paper unless explicitly given permission by the wrapper.  Bonus points are given for going above and beyond (one year my mother somehow fashioned an approximate 6-pointed corner for a cylindrical box) and every year a clear cut winner for "Best Wrap Job" is declared.  Rules apply to all ages, penalties are issued for violations.

Welcome to the world where invisi-seams are highly disputed.  In the extremely unlikely event that you are unfamiliar with this method of wrapping, let me just cover all the bases.  First introduced by my Aunt Leslie circa 2006, the practice of using invisible seams in gift wrapping endeavors is both a somewhat controversial and revolutionary practice.  It is, however, a rather cumbersome practice especially to those who are a) not expecting them and b) hard of seeing (yup, that's a term now).  So all are aware, the term refers to the practice of lining up all paper edges with the edges of the package.  To go in depth a little further, the exposed edge cannot be cut but must be folded under so as to have a perfectly straight edge.  Most disconcerting are the times when double sided tape is used in conjunction with the invisi-seams.  The use of invisi-seams increases the likelihood of tearing an edge of the paper (major faux pas, especially if the paper is from when my parents were still married; ie. 23+ years ago), but also contributes to a heightened feeling of anxiety in which case you may lose composure and rip the paper.  I may or may not be referring to the incident back in '09 when we all were at our wits end trying to save the paper on gifts wrapped by my aunt, and my mother, a founding member of the wrapping paper cult,  broke down and ripped [gasp!] the paper in such a fashion that it had to be recycled, TO THE TRASH.  Other difficulties with the invisi-seams plague those with less than perfect eyesight.  If you are in fact my mother, who is now at the age where candlelit tables don't provide enough light to read the menu (sidebar: have any of you been to High in Venice, CA?  Their menus light up!), and you want her to read or see anything that may be on either a small iPhone sized electronic screen (forget when I had my inadequate ultra small blackberry screen!) or large piece of paper it must be held at arms length, then invisi-seams can be quite challenging.  We don't hold it against her or anything; if I'm correct the incident was with new paper still bountiful in quantity.  But it's hard to forget the desperation in her eyes and movements, blindly clawing at the bottom of the present, searching in earnest for the invisi-seam.  Poor Mom.  Aunt Leslie doesn't just seal the middle with 1 piece of tape, but is known to further reinforce with multiple tape sites along the edge to prevent puckering (not just a faux pas, but utterly unacceptable).  Invisi-seams are therefore not required in presentation. 

Moving forward.  Every Christmas my grandmother inevitably has not wrapped 95% of the gifts she has purchased for me, my cousins, my aunt, mother, brother, grandfather--and the list goes on.  When I was younger and still had to be bribed to do "chores" I would extort small amounts of money for each present wrapped on her behalf.  Eventually I was taken advantage of for my skilled little gift wrapping fingers and forced to wrap without compensation.  One year I was so strung out on wrapping for my dear grandmother that when we were finally opening all of our presents (which you have to do one-by-one in a circle taking turns so everyone can watch and see the wrap job) my Aunt Leslie grabbed a present wrapped by me on behalf of my grandmother.  There was just one indicator that tipped her off as to the identity of the wrapee; the tag I had written: "To: Aunt Leslie, Love: Mom".

Needless to say we save bows, tags and bags also.  So today's post is dedicated to my nutty family, and those of you other victims out there that are subject to the same gift wrapping insanity (are there any of you?).  Here are some fun and different ideas for gift wrapping this year that do not require a superior wrapping technique with flawless execution:

Color copies of vintage portraits from Something's Hiding in Here

The possibilities are endless:

I mean, just look at how creepy/awesome your presents can look!  Get the full how-to here.

Other bright ideas--enlarge a calendar to make interesting gift wrap.

Make your own tags by using colored paper and stamps with bright ink, or use cut outs from previous holiday cards.

Diversify your thinking on what constitutes wrapping paper:  use old maps, comic strips, wallpaper--the sky's the limit!  You can also make your own paper (we did one year) by laying out and taping leaves (or other objects) on plain paper and spray painting gold.  I'm sure we still have that paper in the archives.

Beautiful bird tags by Rebecca Kallum.  Visit her blog for the full size images and free download to print!

Hopefully these fun ideas will make an appearance under your own tree this year (or menorah, or wherever you're stashing presents).  And here's to the wrapping paper cult!

West Elm Opening - WeHo

Friday, December 16, 2011

Guess what kiddies?  I got to go to the West Elm opening in West Hollywood.  Lots of people, great stuff, amazing bloggers and designers, 20% off the entire store, cocktails and appetizers...It was a fabulous and fun night.

The layout of the store is spectacular.  There's even this little window room right in the middle of the store--from an architectural standpoint it's totally different and beautiful.

The upstairs is almost like a loft space that wraps around the entire store.

Oh look! It's Joy Cho from Oh Joy! 

I forget what that letter said but it was funny.

Decent turnout!  And look at those exposed beams!

Lots of sparkly things that I wanted to take home with me

Fun paper lanterns (that were sparkly too) that you could easily make at home.

Pretty centerpiece

View from the top was primo for people watching

They sectioned off that little windowed room area further with big bookcases which is a great way to make a room divider.

The West Elm wall!

Look who else I bumped into!  Emily Henderson and Orlando Soria from Secrets from a Stylist (among many other fabulous designy things).  Emily just got signed on for another two seasons of SFAS (thank god!) and she is also amping up her own design business.  I'm jealous.  They both have awesome blogs too so definitely check them out!

All in all, a totally fun night.  I wound up taking home this super graphic chevron printed duvet and shams:

Funny...I just noticed I also have that nail-head upholstered bench at the foot of the bed.   I love me some West Elm!

Work Office

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I was recently asked about tips for decorating office space.  Not your home office, but your work office, where you may have heinous furniture and filing cabinets and fluorescent lighting.  Basically, how to give your office a personal touch with out doing drastic things like getting new furniture or painting the walls.

My first tip is to bring in your own lighting.  My office only has overhead drab lighting and no windows which means no natural sunlight.  Bring in a fun table lamp to make things feel less like a cubicle.

You can also bring in elements from home--framed photos to personalize your space, or perhaps some wall art to make your office feel a little more homey.

If you're in a place where you can't do anything drastic, focus on accessories.  Get a plant, or fill a vase with some branches if plants won't survive in your space.  Adding small touches really makes a difference:

A perpetual calendar-

 Personalized mug:

Fun binder clips:

If you can get a bulletin board up it's a great way to tack up pictures or notes--snag some fabric tacks too:

Bring in a pencil cup holder:

And a calendar that will make you happy to add in co-workers birthdays:

A sleek stapler:

Patterned sticky note cubes:

You don't want to overdo it with clutter on your desk, but you'd be surprised how the little things can make a big difference.  Small personal touches really do go a long way.  Think about the things that matter most to you and bring those elements in.  An immediate pick-me-up for me are plants.  Fresh cut flowers at home make me smile, but at work rather than bringing in fresh cut flowers to the office, scoop up an orchid from Trader Joe's that will last a long time.  There are tons of elements that you can personalize in your office-- a tape dispenser, mouse pad or mouse, folders, pens and pencils, a tray for keys, etc.  Work with what you've got and make it yours.

Happy Blogiversary!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

So Saturday was my 1 year Blogiversary.  Hard to believe that I've been at this for a year now!  Hopefully you are all enjoying the content I've been posting about.  If there's anything in particular that you'd like to see a post about leave a comment below and I'll be sure to post!

The holidays keep creeping up so quickly every year.  Its hard to believe they're less than 2 weeks away!  We got a tree last week and decorated it.  I was so worried we wouldn't have enough ornaments but somehow it's pretty well filled.  I keep meaning to put up a tree topper but then I keep forgetting.  Will post about some other easy decorations with candles and stemware later.

In the mean time here's a cute DIY ornament tutorial over on Jen Ramo's blog Made by Girl.

DIY Sequin Holiday Ornaments

You can find clear fill-able ornaments at craft stores like Michael's.  Last year I made some filled with sand and seashells as gifts.  But don't stop there, you can fill them with glitter, confetti, newspaper clippings, etc. like these ones from West Elm:

Happy Holidays!

For the Men

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Girls are inevitably easy to shop for.  I don't know about you, or the girls you know, but I know I talk about things I want maybe 20 times a day.  And if that isn't enough, then I blog about them.  I've also been known to shop online adding everything to my cart, only to muster up enough conviction to EX OUT of the website in order to feed my shopping addiction.  In present times this method is less effective as most websites just save your cart so all those things just pop up the next time you visit the site.  Anyhow, with the holidays approaching, I thought I'd post some gift ideas for the men in your life.  My hands are kind of tied here though seeing as my bf just so happens to read my blog (maybe the ONLY time I wish he wouldn't!) so I can't post about the awesome things I got him this year.  So--some ideas for the men, or yourself, if you happen to be of the male persuasion. 

Flannel Jack Purcells

Personalized Luggage Tags

Ebbets Field Ball Cap

Rocks Glasses

Roller Buckle Belt

Out of Print Tee

Perpetual Calendar


Thinksound Headphones

Filson Bag

Leather iPhone Case

Steak Knives

Key Ring iPhone Charger

Tri-Blend Crewneck

Whiskey After Shave  

Whiskey Stones

Carry On Shave Kit

Beer of the Month Club

Hopefully this gives you some good ideas for some manly presents! 

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