December 2013

Monday, monday, or more links about year end round-ups.

Of all the millions of Best Of Whatever in 2013 lists out there, I give you a few of my favorites…

the fader's listmania

If you want to spend a good long time losing yourself in the world of music and pop culture in which The Fader rules supreme, look no further than their own series of “Best Of’s” for 2013. It’s called Listmania for good reason.

Coolhunting offers up the most interesting web headlines of the year.

If you haven’t been paying attention to much of anything this year and are feeling really behind, just check out Time Magazine’s Top 10 Everything list and you’ll be basically caught up.

The Cut (from NY Magazine) gives us their take on the Best Fashion Images of 2013.

Gifs are everywhere (except this blog, because I haven’t figured out how to include them.) The Creator’s Project points us in the direction of their 2013 favorites.

Flavorwire, the grande dame of listmaking, shares with us the words they never ever want to hear again after 2013. Like selfie. And millennials.

This isn’t specifically about the top anything, or 2013, but it is a list, and it’s funny, and really insightful, so lastly I include this piece I saw on xoJane called 5 things I thought about while I was waiting in the police station to report the kid who stole my phone.

Christmas morning at 1:06 am

christmas tree

Decorated the tree
Made the holiday gift for the teachers
Went to two (yep, 2) Christmas pageants
Baked the cakes
Burned the CDs
Attended the parties
Dined with friends
Put Ada to bed
Wrapped the gifts
Cleaned up the house

Finally, finally it is time to settle in for a long winter’s nap.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night…

Monday, Monday, or more links about singing

For your listening (and viewing) pleasure, some holiday songs to get you in the mood…

Mahalia Jackson, the queen of the spiritual, singing Go Tell It On The Mountain.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs sing All I Want For Christmas

The Flaming Lips (who played a fantastic show with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in Brooklyn last year) sing Christmas At The Zoo.

The Kinks, who will always rock, sing Father Christmas in a sort of messed up yet nonetheless great video.

This one is potentially a bit cheesy, but I have always loved it: Bing Crasby and David Bowie sing The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.

And then here we have Johnny Cash singing his own, really weird version of the same song.

Hands down the best version of this song ever recorded: The Temptations sing Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer

Gift Guide, Chapter 8: Books, because one can never have too many, as far as I’m concerned, pt 2 ( for the kids)

These are a few of our current favorites that a) I haven’t written about before (or at least I don’t think I have) and b) are available new, so you can still buy them and have them shipped to whatever little kids you need to gift in time for Christmas. If you act right now.

may i bring a friend

May I Bring A Friend?
won a Caldecott in 1965 and continues to be totally charming today. A kid keeps bringing his sometimes badly behaved animal friends along when invited to dine with royalty, and the King and Queen keep inviting him back.

free to be you and me

Free to be You and Me. Because all little girls and boys should be allowed to be whatever they want to be, free of gender based stereotypes and full of great stories and songs (sung by the likes of Alan Alda and Rosie Greir if you get the CD)

pancho rabbit and the coyote
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote. This charming book successfully tackles the issue of migrant workers from the point of view of a Mexican rabbit.

magic tree house
Magic Tree House Books. I have yet to meet a kid who doesn’t love Jack and Annie, the heroes of this seemingly endless series of adventure stories. They get to learn about various periods and figures in history in that sneaky this-is-not-homework kind of way that makes the parents love them too.

planting the trees of kenya

Planting The Trees of Kenya
. The inspirational story of Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan woman who singlehandedly inspired the planting of 30 million trees in her native Kenya. One woman really can change the world.

Mr Wuffles

Mr Wuffles
. The story, told all in pictures, of a finicky cat who finally finds a toy he’s interested in playing with. Only it’s not really a toy…

copenhagen cats james joyce

The Cats of Copenhagen
. This whimsical and humorous tale was originally written by James Joyce (yep, that James Joyce) for his 5 year old grandson, who must have had quite an imagination and clearly loved cats.

little women

Little Women
. A classic. And any book about a bunch of sisters who happily do tons of chores and are devoted to their mother is a favorite in my book.

Gift Guide, Chapter 7: Books, because one can never have too many, as far as I’m concerned, pt 1 ( for grownups)

book of jezebel

Because it’s funny. And smart. And feminist. And educational (it’s an encyclopedia of all things “lady” for crying out loud…) And edited by a woman who’s racial and religious mix is the same as my daughter’s, so of course she’s extraordinary. (The Book of Jezebel, edited by Anna Holmes. $16.20)

planting seeds meditation book

Because imagine how much better a world it would be if all kids learned to meditate early on. (Planting Seeds by THich Nhat Hanh, $22.15)

modern farmer

Because you definitely have a friend who likes to fantasize about an agrarian life and needs to be up on that scene, even if they really live in Brooklyn and the closest thing they have to a farm is the market in MacCarren Park. (Modern Farmer Magazine subscription, $29.97)

Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 11.39.03 AM

Because the best pizza place in Brooklyn (aka the world) has a cookbook out. And you can give it to your friend and get them to make stuff and invite you over for dinner. (Roberta’s Cookbook, $21)

the interestings

Because this book follows a group of teenagers through their varied lives on into middle aged adulthood and is funny and beautiful and sad and true (in a fiction sort of way) and boy do I wish I had read something like this when I was younger and thought the future was only filled with roses… (The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, $17.94)

esopus 13

Because you are a person who firmly believes that a magazine can elevate itself to the level of art. And hates advertising. And loves anything that includes a CD that is actually worth listening to. And you want to spread the gospel. (Esopus Magazine subscription, $30)

updike box set

Because this man is truly the master of the form. (John Updike: The Collected Stories, $49)

galdwell david and goliath

Because they are going to buy it anyway, so they may as well get it from you. (David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell)

Monday, monday, or more links about New York’s greatness, it’s people and holiday decorations.

…and a cartoon.

A 1959 cartoon version of The Night Before Christmas featuring a sailor, a damsel in distress, a black-clad villain and, of course, Santa.

For the five or six of you who haven’t heard about Andrea Elliott’s extensive profile of a homeless girl named Dasani (after the water) for the New York Times, just click here.

Fellow New Yorkers, just in case you were thinking of skipping town, here are a whole bunch of reasons to stay and love New York.

I am sad that Alex Calderwood is no longer with us.

Leave it to NY Times photo editor Kathy Ryan to make photographs of office life beautiful on Instagram. Now you can actually buy prints of some images, too.

You can take a bus tour of the crazy amazing celebratory over the top Christmas light bedecked homes of Dyker Heights. Only in Brooklyn.

Coconut snowball cookies are suddenly the perfect cookie to make now that snow has started to fall on the streets of the big apple…

Gift Guide, Chapter 6: Things you might want to give me or my husband, if you were so inclined, pt 2

More gifts that we might like… and if we like them, other people you know might like them too.

snack containers

For all the moms (and dads) that need to tote around snacks for their kids (or themselves) but aren’t interested in using plastic because of the harmful effects of the chemicals leeching into the aforementioned snack. (Trio of snack containers, $24.32)

lene gloves

I do not like to be cold. (wool felt long mittens, $120)

tom dixon math  tools

Does including this brass set of measuring tools on this list out my “creative” husband for the math geek that he truly is? (Tool The Mathematician by Tom Dixon, $130)

whale opener

My favorite song as a kid was about whaling. I still sing it every night to coax my daughter into sleep.(whale bottle opener, $26)

kiosk felt inserts

Who doesn’t like warm feet? Certainly not the Swedes, who make these felt shoe inserts. ($24)

red flower hair conditioner

If you know me, you know about my love of all things Red Flower. Yet somehow I missed the fact that they make hair products. Like conditioner. That I would use every day if I had some. Just sayin’. (ocean softening hair conditioner, $32)

lunch tote

Trying to get my husband to bring a healthy lunch to work every day might be as easy as getting him this bag. (lunch tote, $65)

Gift Guide Chapter 5: Things you might want to give me or my husband, if you were so inclined, pt 1

Or at least, things you might give somebody like us (travels-a-lot, parents, city-dwellers-who-like-to-cook-fresh-produce, lovers-of-good-design, media-professionals-yet-secret-hippies… you know the type.)

charcoal toothbrush at schoolhouse electric

Charcoal toothbrushes. Come on, how cool are these? And lets be honest… how many people do you know who already have one? ($8 ea.)

pocket utensil kit

I mean, how often do you wish you had a spoon so you (or your kid) could just eat that yogurt right now! Just sayin’… (pocket utensil set, $16)

first aid oil

This is a little bottle of magic oil made with St John’s Wort which heals all things scrape, bruise or burn related. And it’s direct from Greece, the home of the gods, so it must work. Every parent should carry this in their bag to help with the inevitable injuries that go with being a kid. (Valsamelio or first aid oil, in English, $15.)

jill platner leather pouches

Whaaaat? Jill Platner makes leather pouches with the most beautiful silver zipper pulls ever and I don’t have one already? They’re sold separately or you can buy all three and give the medium one to me, the larger one to Josh for his travels and save the tiny one for yourself to keep your lip balm and credit cards snug. (from $150)

lumio lamp

It’s a battery operated lamp that unfolds like a book with a beautiful wooden cover. I mean, who doesn’t want this? (lumio, $160.)

cashmere socks for men

Giving somebody socks may feel unimaginative, but believe me it is not. At all. Especially when they are made of cashmere. And you’re a guy who loves soft things but maybe doesn’t want everybody to know that right away just by looking at you. (Corgi cable socks, $190.)

vik prjonsdottir shield of wings

it looks like a blanket, but really it’s a shield of wings. Which for some reason I feel like I must have. ($390)

Gift Guide Chapter 4: Things to give to the person who still listens to vinyl

Or at least the person who chose not to get rid of their record collection and likes nicely designed reminders of the kinder gentler world in which cars had tape decks and people wrote letters…

match safe

Like the olden days when you could strike matches on any rough surface (these days are still happening in Maine, by the way, where a person can buy strike-anywhere matches to her heart’s delight.) Match safe, $10.

futura slip mat

Nothing like a little pop of color on the old wheels of steel… Futura DJ slip mats, $19.99.

book box

They can hide all their secret stuff inside these literary boxes. Book boxes, from $10).

bookbook iphone case

And while we’re on the topic of hiding things in books… Bookbook iPhone case, $59.

cligraphy return address stamp

Imagine what it might be like to receive an actual letter in your mail box. Not from your state senator’s office or Con Ed either. From a real person. How nice that would be… Custom calligraphy return address stamp, $68.

ipad grammophone

Why choose between old and new when you can have both? iPad gramophone, $239.

cat dj scratchpad

Last but far from least… for all of those DJ/feline fanatics in your life, a cat DJ scratching pad for $35. Made of recycled materials, no less.

Monday, Monday – or more links about holiday gifts, inspiring world leaders and annoying phrases.

The Year without a Santa Claus
was one of my all time favorite holiday specials from back in the day when you had to wait all year just to get to see them on TV. And Mother Nature’s two wacky sons really stole the show.

While working on my own gift guides, I’ve come across a few others that I really like… so in the generous spirit of the holidays (and the blogosphere in general) I suggest you also check out A Cup of Jo, I Want To Be Her, and Cool Hunting for some great suggestions.

Oh and if you want to be really cool and give something local and/or handmade and/or secondhand you should check out what the good people at Krrb have suggested in their holiday gift guide.

The New York Times honors the incredible life of the late Nelson Mandela with a stunning series of images.

I saw a link to My Kid’s Insane Christmas Wish List on A Cup of Jo and clicked on it right away because I know JoAnna Goddard and was curious how her toddler could already be making insane requests. It’s not her son’s list, thank goodness. But it’s a funny read nonetheless.

Which word (or phrase) do you think should be banished for all eternity? Time magazine is doing a poll to find out.

A purse that charges your smartphone. Yep. You heard it here first.