December 2015

Monday, Monday (on Wednesday!)– or a few links to organizations that deserve your last minute donations…


WaterAid is just one of the many organizations worthy of our support during these last days of 2015.

There are 2 days left to get in your tax deductible donations for 2015… If you have even a little bit of extra cash lying around, why pay it in taxes when you can give it directly to people who are working to make the world a better place?

World peace is one of those things people are always wishing for… The International Peace Institute (IPI) is a not-for-profit think tank dedicated to making it a reality.

And while we’re on the topic of Peace on Earth, Peace First is dedicated to creating the next generation of peacemakers by replacing the culture of violence with one of inclusion and support through curriculum as well as youth run advocacy programs. If the kids get into playing peace (as opposed to war) the foundation is set for a brighter future.

The Studio Museum in Harlem has been a focal point for black art both nationally and internationally, both through it’s programs and exhibitions as well as it’s artist-in-residence program. In a world of diminishing emphasis on the arts, it is a beacon in the midst of a vastly under-served community. Plus with donation comes membership, so you can check out all of the shows free of charge!

Forgive me for getting super personal here, but as one of the over 2.3 million people world wide living with Multiple Sclerosis, I am particularly motivated to help find a cure. The National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation is both a resource for people living with MS as well as a leader in providing much needed funds for research.

If there is one thing in desperate need of defending, it is our increasingly fragile environment. The Environmental Defense Fund is dedicated to creating solutions that let nature and people prosper.

And speaking of things in need of defending, our right to vote, once seen as inalienable, is beginning to be eroded in many small ways that are starting to build up to dangerous proportions. The League of Women Voters is dedicated to ensuring that all voters have the opportunity and the information they need to exercise their right to vote.

And last, but definitely not least, the scarcity of drinkable water on our planet is reaching crisis levels, especially in the world’s poorest nations. WaterAid is working in the poorest countries to help communities set up and manage practical and sustainable water.

Christmas morning, at 1:08 am

christmas tree 2015

Here’s to a future where each day is merrier and brighter than the last… Where sugarplums are the primary subject of our dreams… And where the good guys of the world confound the grinches simply by holding hands and singing.

We can make it happen.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

3 great books to help your kids navigate difficult subjects


Wonder (by RJ Palacio) is a book about an ordinary kid with an extraordinary face. And while his “facial difference” has prevented him from going to school for his initial 10 years, he is about to enter fifth grade, and the “normal” world of middle school life, for the first time. This book is the story of that extraordinary year and how everybody in the school community is affected.

It deals with bullying, fear-of-other, the “popular” group, kindness, empathy, and learning how to recognize and cope with difficult, challenging and conflicting feelings. It is also beautifully written, funny, moving, and incredibly entertaining. Middle school kids can read it alone, but it’s also a great read aloud for slightly younger kids. It has instigated so many important conversations in our household… Anything that helps provide kids with the tools they need to navigate those tween years with grace is a welcome addition to our arsenal.

a long walk to water by Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story tells the intersecting stories of two 11 year old kids living in Sudan, one from 1995 and the other from 2008. It is a story of survival, friendship and resilience that humanizes the politically complicated refugee situation that continues to be a part of the news today.

And while on the one hand, the refugee crisis feels very remote, it is so important for us to help our kids to understand all of the complex and not-so-great things that are happening in the world these days. Encountering these difficult subjects through stories helps to create a safe place for the potentially difficult topics to be digested. And hopefully we help foster a more empathetic future through understanding.

Lillian';s Right to vote by Jonah Winter and Shane W Evans

Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter and Shane W Evans is a beautifully illustrated picture book that tells the story of Lillian, an elderly African-American woman, and her walk up a steep hill to the voting booth in her town.

During her climb, she remembers the stories of her enslaved great grandparents, her uncle being forced to take absurdly difficult qualification tests in order to vote, and her own memories of being chased away from voting booths by angry mobs. The hill becomes a metaphor for the struggle that African Americans experienced during their fight for the right to vote.

The book is a celebration of the Voting rights Act of 1965, which is currently under fire again in many states. The right to vote still needs protection and this book helps us remember how central this right is to being a citizen of a democracy like ours.

It’s that time of year again…

nassau st

Tis the season over here in the northernmost part of Brooklyn.

I love listening to all different types of music, but come December, I am suddenly compelled to choose albums and playlists with a “Holidays” theme. I know it may be a bit cliche, but these songs make me feel merry and bright. Which is a lovely way to be.

So without further ado, I give you a selection of some of my favorite songs to play during this crazy and wonderful time of year. If you’re signed up for Spotify (it’s free), just click on the little triangle below to listen:

And here, as usual, is the tracklist if you want to follow along…

Winter Wonderland – Macy Grey
Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town – The Beach Boys
Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
Christmas In Hollis – RUN-DMC
Chanukah Song, Pt 2 – Adam Sandler
The Nutcracker Suite: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – Tchaikovsky
The Christmas Song – Ray Charles
Just Like Christmas – Low
Coventry Carol – Joan Baez
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer – The Temptations
Little Drummer Boy – The Flaming Lips
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – She & Him
Happy Hanukkah – Matisyahu
Twelve Days of Christmas – The Muppets & John Denver
Santa Claus IS Coming To Town – Jackson 5
8 Days of Hannukah – Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton
Silent Night – Mahalia Jackson

Monday, Monday– or a few links to some lovely magazine subscriptions you might want to consider giving this seaon…

short stack

Two recent issues of Short Stack on of my new favorite food related magazines.

Gather Journal is technically a food magazine, but each issue is built on a theme (the current one is called “Origin” and explores a few areas of natural history that are particularly relevant to where the food we eat comes from.) There are recipes, of course, and beautiful photography. Plus they have great playlists on their website. Two issues a year, for $35.

While Faerie Magazine is written for adults, it might just be the perfect thing for your pre teenaged daughter who not-so-secretly wants to be reborn as Arwen from Lord of the Rings. There are crafts, “otherworldly beauty tips”, gowns made entirely of roses and basically all things enchanted. Published quarterly, at $28 a year.

Esopus is not just a magazine, it is a foundation dedicated to the unmediated distribution of the art and writing of the people it publishes. Every spring you get the most beautiful, uniquely put together, entirely free of advertising (and advertorial) journal of creative work you have probably ever encountered. And if you give a premium subscription, it includes a limited edition artwork every fall. Published annually, starting at $30.

If you or your loved ones don’t already subscribe to The New Yorker, you need to subscribe THIS MINUTE. Thoughtful, intelligent, beautifully written articles about all of the issues and people of the day. You are automatically smarter after you read this magazine. Published just about every week. Subscriptions start at $12 for 12 weeks.

Short Stack looks like a zine, but it is actually a series of small format cookbooks bound by hand and filled with recipes built around a single ingredient and written by various luminaries in the culinary world. The first time I saw one I snatched it up, and as soon as I read it I knew I had to have them all. Six volumes a year for $75.

And last, but not least, is Apartemento, which is an interiors magazine about real spaces that real (and creative with great taste) people live in. Unmanicured and at times really messy, but always captivating and full of inspiration, it is the perfect antidote to your standard, uber-polished shelter magazine. Published twice a year for only €27.

Gifts for the sophisticated non-girly ladies in your life

robert clergerie sneaker

Because sneakers are the new stilettos. Robert Clergerie Teba Sneaker, from $168.

comme des garcons wallet

Because this is basically a no nonsense men’s style wallet with a zipper. Except it’s golden. Comme Des Garcons wallet, $120.

jill platner key chain

Because believe it or not, there are lots of women who aren’t really into jewelry. But pretty much everybody has to carry around keys. Jill Platner bolt key chain, $285.

beauty heroes box

Because the less make up she wears, the more important it is for her skin to be naturally radiant. And there’s nothing like a monthly influx of new, all-natural products to help ensure that particular reality. Beauty Heroes monthly subscription, from $39.

cashmere robe

Because, lets be honest, who doesn’t want a full length cashmere robe? Chinti and Parker cashmere robe, $1000.

winter beach hair

Because we all want that I-just-came-off-the-beach look for our hair… Especially in the winter. Brooklyn beach Hair Mist in Winter Scent, $25.

take out block by livewild design

Because we are all busy and tired and sometimes can’t even deal with figuring out where to order from. Lovewild Design Take Out Block, $14.

Gifts for your husband/sister/neighbor/business partner who kind of has everything but would appreciate an upgrade if it’s really good

kept kitchen canister

Because if all of our storage items were this beautiful, we’d probably be much better at putting things away. Irvington 24 oz canister, $60.

USB typewriter

Because there is NO WAY they already have this keyboard. USB typewriter, $899.


Because these cups are incredibly thin, incredibly beautiful and made out of wood, for Pete’s sake. Kami wooden cups, from $60.

screwdriver kit

Because 3 flat and 3 Phillips head screwdrivers are all you ever really need. And a matching set, with beautiful wooden handles, might motivate a few useful projects around the house. Screwdriver set, $48


Because why would you charge one thing at a time when you can get everything running at once? Twist Plus+ World Charging Station, $53.


Because evidently the special design of this spout makes this the essential kettle for making manual drip coffee. Period. Hario buono drip kettle, $75.


Because everybody could use a key ring upgrade. Contour key ring bell, $16

white enamel lunchbox

Because who doesn’t want to be the envy of everyone in the office when you show up with this lunch box? Austrian picnic pot, $54.

blackcreek mercantile cutting board

Because this is not just a cutting board. It’s a chic cutting board. Blackcreek Mercantile cutting board, $235.

kikkerland acorn soeaker

Because if you’re going to give a wireless speaker, it may as well be made of wood and shaped like an acorn. Kikkerland acorn speaker, $46.

red flower room diffuser

Because why should a house smell like a house when it can smell like cardamom and amber? Red Flower room diffuser, $82.

Gifts for the kids of your design obsessed friends. Or maybe just give these straight to your friends and skip the middlemen.

3D tic tac toe

Because who doesn’t want a deliberately lo-fi tic tac toe version of that chess game Mr Spock loved to play on Star Trek? 3-D tic tac toe set, $25.


Because all kids should learn to write thank you notes (which are so much more fun when you can convert them into a mask.) Oh and same goes for grownups sending handwritten notes… times 1000. Fredericks and Mae animal mask notecards, $16.95.


Because when your kids leave these blocks in a pile smack in the middle of the living room floor it looks like art. Cinqpoints archiblocks, from $70.

mozartkugel music box

Because, lets be honest, this is the most beautiful music box you have ever seen. Mozartkugel music box, from $75.

lost ocean coloring book

Because evidently, coloring is a form of meditation, which is good for humans of all ages. Lost Ocean coloring book, $10.17

colored pencils in brass case

Because when one gets a new coloring book, one should also get some new pencils to color with. In a brass case that takes the whole situation to a new level. Just sayin’. Colored pencils in brass case, $76.


Because when you sing the song “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” this is the kind of kite you’re talking about. Plus the skies could use a few more pirate ships… Sailing Ship Kite, $40.

Monday, Monday… or a Holiday Guide to some of my favorite 2015 Holiday Gift Guides

Rebekah's hands

I’m still in the midst of posting my own holiday shopping guides, but I thought I’d take a break and point you all towards some other compendiums of potential purchases as well. Because when it comes to giving presents, the more the merrier!

The adventures in cooking gift guide is superbly minimal and beautifully shot, just like the blog. To be honest, I want everything on this list.

If you have some time, and want to check out tons and tons (and tons) of great gift ideas for the home, go to Remodelista and search for Gift Guides. Or just click here. You won’t be disappointed.

Joanna Goddard’s gift guides for A Cup OF Jo are, in my humble opinion, the gold standard when it comes to holiday shopping. Hands down. The archive of past years are also well worth checking out…

It is true that at times T Magazine can feel a bit overly aspirational, but every once in a while a person just needs to buy a spectacularly designed, perfectly round, handcrafted in Germany, wooden music box that plays Mozart and costs a bit over $100. And their gift guide will always deliver the goods.

My friend Andrea Linett is a master of finding super chic stuff at shockingly good prices. So needless to say, the I Want To Be Her Fun Chic Gifts Under $100 list is not to be missed!

Who in their right mind doesn’t want to check out a selection called The Cut’s Weirdly Specific Holiday Gift Guide? Especially if you appreciate The Cut’s ability to be 100% on trend and totally subversive at the same time…

Last year, I remember being pleasantly surprised at the caliber of gifts on the Esquire Gift Guide… and it looks like 2015′s selection is even better, especially for the finicky men in your life.