Whenever I'm looking for a gift for a family member of friends, I try my best to shop locally, to find something unique, and to pick something that is meaningful for the recipient. When in doubt, I always buy something I would love to recieve myself. I've rounded up a few Valentine's Day treats that I think any woman would love...and almost all of my picks are created by small businesses...and many run by creative women. Just one more reason to feel good about your purchase!
2. This mini instant camera may not be a local find, but delivers immediate satasfaction, is easy to carry, and provides endless fun for kids and parents.
5. For the wine lover, Diane Carpenter of YourWineStylist can help you pick the perfect bottle (or case!) and source hard to find vintages.
6. + 7. We can all use a little bit of brigntening and bronzing these days, and the RMS Beauty Buriti Bronzer and Living Luminizer are my favorites (and they are all natural). RMS is also carried at Space519 in Chicago.
8. Earth Tu Face serum, which is 100% natural, has been on my wish list to heal my dry, wind blown skin.
9. A nautical necklace based on a vintage necklace Barri Leiner and Marie Moss of M & B Vintage found at auction. M & B carry everything from modern monogrammed pieces to one-of-a-kind vintage charms and jewelry (Chicago based, and carried at Space519 as well). I'm also loving their sweet lucky charm.
** I'm slightly biased, but I also think perfume is a very romantic gift...and of course I'm partial to these! If you are ordering flowers, try Thresholds Urban Meadows, the only non-profit florist in Chicago (they ship locally and nationally).
The Holidays at Home
My family and I spent the holidays at home in Chicago with my parents. As much as I love having such a long stretch of time together as a family, it can be challenging to keep the kids buys and active - especially when we're out of our routine and the weather is miserably cold.
We made decorating a family affair, and brought out some ornaments that were my grandmother's, along with some that date back to my first Christmas. We did a number of projects that the kids loved, like creating new ornaments, making homemade gifts (eg. baked apple chips that we made with maple sugar and cinnamon, and mulled cider) and did a lot of cooking. While we could have used more sun, I loved having quality time at home with my family.
Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy New Year!
(Here's a peek at last year's Christmas)
We brought in some natural beauty
I left the most precious family ornaments on display in a silver bowl (including some from the year I was born and one I created in 2nd grad
Christmas Even dinner using my grandmother's Canton ginger jar as a centerpiece
The kids place settings
Festive adult drinks
Ornament making with the kids
Putting leftover marshmallows to good use
Homemade gifts - mulled apple cider
and maple baked apple chips
Snacks the kids picked for Santa and the reindeer, including a take away bag "for home"
A sweet hand made card
Thanksgiving at Home
I don't think I have ever felt less prepared to host a Thansgiving than I did this year. We have been renovating our kitchen, so for two weeks before Thanksgiving, I did not use the kitchen for anything except grabbing snacks from the fridge. We spent five days prior to Thanksgiving in Virginia visiting my husband's family, and my parents arrived in Chicago before our return. Despite the chaos and lack of time to stock up on groceries to prepare for houseguests, it all went off without a hitch.
We prepared some of our traditional Thanksgiving favorites, and added a few new dishes that may become staples, like a simple almond and pear tart and popovers that were a little tribute to the Yorkshire Pudding we fell in love with during our two years in London. I can't get enough of anything made from pumpkin, so over the holiday I took advantage of the opportunity to make pumpkin pancakes for breakfast, a healthy pumpkin dip for the kids, and our favorite pumpkin muffins.
For our table, I went with a simple white and silver theme. My favorite part of the place-settings was the place cards. I used vintage postcards I collected 15 years ago at a flea market in New York, and had a talented neighbor do the calligraphy. I had my neighbor add the names that the kids call my parents to make them a little less formal. I loved the beautiful nautical scenes, which always remind me of my father and his love of sailing and the water. The cards have traveled with us from New York to London to Chicago, and I'm so happy that I finally found a use for them (and they are now a special keepsake). I loved that most of the cards had beautiful hand written notes on the back. It was so much fun to see that they all had unique history before they ended up in that flea market in New York.
It was a wonderful break from our hectic schedule, and a great excuse to focus on family, food, and establishing family traditions for the kids.
Here are a few shots from our home (and a peek at last year's Thanksgiving here)....
The pear tart that I am already looking forward to making again
The kids place settings
The back of one of our place cards. I love the beautiful handwriting.
The kids decided that apple cider tastes better in a mason jar
pumpkin dip with apples
Our post-Thanksgiving brunch: pumpkin pancakes, eggs and turkey bacon
Our "thankful" cards that will be displayed throughout the holidays