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5 great gifts you can get right now on Etsy

Felt gnome and mushrooms set by BlueRooster Arts on Etsy

Felt gnome and mushrooms set by BlueRooster Arts on Etsy

Ok first off, here’s a little thing you may not have known about me: I am a sucker for tiny handmade felt figurines. I love them. I have not gone whole hog, acquiring dozens of the little creatures and placing them all over our house, but if I were to go into someone else’s home who had such a display, I’m sure I would throw my hands in the air and squeal with delight.

Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, I wanted to start my own holiday gift guide season with a few ideas from the one and only center for all things handmade: Etsy. Because the sellers are just regular people, and not Amazon Prime, one has to be a bit more organized when ordering from them. But at this point we still have plenty of time to get the gifts to where they need to be. So now is the time to troll Etsy for the good stuff. And maybe even get something personalized while you’re at it!

First up (above) the felt woodland figurines. Maybe they are a gift, or maybe they are destined to become part of your own home decor. I like the gnome, but there are others to check out as well. Lovingly made in Montana by BlueRooster, $20.

indigo shiboro napkins by shoppromisedland on etsy

We need new napkins and I totally want these, which are linen and hand dyed using the ancient Japanese shibori technique. Just in case there are any people out there looking to give me something for the holidays. Made in Massachusetts by ShopPromisedLand, $32.50.

glass teapot etsy

I’m not quite sure I understand how this teapot is “handmade”, but it sure is pretty. And that’s gotta count for something right? This comes to us via Unihom in the UK, which might be slightly inconvenient, but hey– they ship worldwide, so who’s counting? $24.50.

memory game o etsy

This is one of those memory games that you play with your kids before they can read and if you’re me, your kids actually do much better than you because your memory is shot. Hopefully, you are not me, and you will kick your kids’ a**es. Regardless, this version is handmade by fourthavenue in Minnesota and if you get in touch with them, you can even customize the game with imagery of your choosing! $12.

log ipad dock etsy

I mean, if this wooden iPad dock and charging station doesn’t have ETSY written all over it, I don’t know what does. This is the kind of thing that the online emporium of handmade is all abut. Plus who else do you know who has one of these? I rest my case. Handcrafted from barnwood by valliswood in Croatia, $80.

Setting the table

table settings on one kings lane

A golden pine cone adds a bit of magic to the family table. Photo courtesy of One Kings Lane.

So by now you probably have some idea of what you’re going to be cooking for, or bringing to, Thanksgiving dinner… But if you’re anything like me you are still casting about for table decorating ideas. We have our family meal at my parents’ place, and my mother is super creative and sets a festive and elegant table, but God forbid I just leave well enough alone. I always insist on spearheading some 11th hour place setting project that involves children and glue and whatever other messy art supplies we have on hand.

This year, I’m thinking we might go for something like this golden pinecone-plus-flat-placecard-on-the-plate idea I saw on One Kings Lane’s fantastic blog. The sparkle adds a bit of glam to the table and makes it feel more like a party. There are a whole bunch of great ideas in that post, so go check them out and get inspired! I can’t wait to see what we come up with, once all of the artisans (i.e. me and the kids) hit the table!

Serving it up!

Linea Rainbow Serving Spoon from Gretel Home.

I want this Linea Rainbow Serving Spoon from Gretel Home badly.

I am a person who has lots of stuff. Some would argue too much, and for the most part, I would have to agree with them. I’ve even expended all sorts of energy and time and mental space trying to de-clutter my life. The results have been mixed, at best, but I am determined to clear out some space, so I will continue to make the effort.

But as Thanksgiving rears its formidable head again this year, I realize that there is one essential item that is missing from my tabletop arsenal: the serving spoon. I basically just use big soup spoons or borrow from my parents next door or use the salad servers, because I never remember the lack of these items until I’m putting food on the table.

But this year is different. I am looking now, and maybe, just maybe, 2015 will be the year when I begin to be able to dish out the holiday deliciousness in a more appropriate manner.

Above is my current obsession, the rainbow spoon. It has a matching fork, too. Of course they are made to order from Italy and take a month and cost a small fortune, but that makes them all the more desirable…

small corner everything spoon

Next we have the Small Corner Everything spoon, individually handcarved in California of the finest walnut. They even come with a small bottle of rubbing oil to ensure that we take good care of them.

food25 dipped spoon

Or maybe we take the wooden spoon in a different direction by adding a subtle hint of color, like the Wind and Willow Home folks have done with these Fresh Soil-Dipped serving spoons. The rubber handles also make them easy to hold, for those of us with perpetually slippery hands.

vintage silver spoon

Or maybe I go old school and pick up this simple traditional spoon that I saw on Krrb… the seller is in my neighborhood so this spoon could be mine in a matter of minutes!

canvas oslo spoon matte black

Or there’s always black, which goes with everything. This Oslo Spoon by Canvas feels both modern and timeless, so it’ll fit in nicely with everything we already have!

If any of you folks out there have any good suggestions, I’d love to hear…

Go fly a kite

fredericks and mae kites

Maybe 2015 is all about taking the kite situation up a notch…

Sure it’s still in the 70′s (global warming, anyone?) but the leaves have changed and fall is in the air, even if it is floating in on an unseasonably warm breeze. Autumn is my favorite season for kite flying, and these Fredericks & Mae flyers are just about the most lovely ones I’ve ever seen.

In my perfect, clutter-free, all-the-time-in-the-world life, we would walk along the coastline, flying one of these kites high above us us, and then perhaps return to a perfectly decorated table covered with bouquets of fall leaves and settle into a game of dominos, or perhaps darts in the back yard, whilst sipping hot apple cider.

fredericks and mae

Here are the darts and my domino set of choice for your viewing pleasure.

It’s nice to think about… and only a few purchases and a DIY bouquet away from being a reality.

(at least in the Instagram version of my family life in which we never argue, wear beautiful clothes and cook sumptuous meals sourced from local farmers who also happen to be our close friends…)

Tis the season

middle olors humidifier

Takashi Hiroshi Tsubori’s Middle Colors humidifier. In WOOD! How cool is that? (photo courtesy Amazon.com)

Ok lets be honest. When was the last time you looked at a picture of a humidifier while shopping online and involuntarily said “Oooooooooh” loud enough to be heard in the next room? Because that just happened to me a few minutes ago. Currently, I am excitedly remembering that we are actually in need of such a device and as soon as I’m done with this post, I plan to buy one.

I mean, a wooden humidifier is unusual and organic and cool and practical all in one little package. Plus, it comes from Japan. Just what this family needs to cheer us up when our noses begin to get all stuffy and our throats sore. (Which is right around the corner, oh those of you with children in school…)

In fact, we should all order this model and then we can collectively be the envy of our friends.

Where to buy a better version of everything for your garden

tools from the garden edit

A trowel and a bulb planter. But not just any trowel and bulb planter, no! These are BEAUTIFUL PERFECT tools that will of course yield far superior plants… and eternal happiness, too. (All photos courtesy The Garden Edit)

You know it’s bad when you get an e mail from your husband in which the subject reads “hide your credit card before you open this e mail” (like I sit around with my Amex on my lap or something… but I digress.) Because it turns out, this was very good advice which I am desperately trying to heed by writing about the website he linked to in the aforementioned message, rather than buying things from it.

The site is called The Garden Edit, and it is pure evil because it basically sells a more beautiful version of every garden tool you already have. And some thoughtfully designed books, and some meticulously handmade vases, and some original artwork, and an art journal/magazine all about plants, etc etc. It is based out of England, which may deter some, though it seems they are happy to ship most of the items worldwide. (So much for that excuse.) And the dollar is looking good these days, so now is the time to strike.

Just don’t tell your bank account it was my fault…

vases by Dana Bechert

And will you just look at these vases by Dana Bechert? I mean, who doesn’t want all of these?

Another thing I really don’t need but totally want, regardless…

Baker's dozen wooden spoons on Food52. Photo by Rocky Lutton and Mark Weinberg for Food52

Baker’s dozen wooden spoons on Food52. Photo by Rocky Lutton and Mark Weinberg for Food52

In one of my former lives as a magazine editor, I wrote a piece about a potter (ceramics artist?) who lived out on the East End of Long Island. One particular thing I remember about that day was that she had an enormous, extremely well stocked kitchen and one of the most impressive collections of wooden spoons I have ever seen. She probably had more than 50, which made me feel great in that way that a junior hoarder gets to feel like a minimalist while looking at the piles amassed by the infamous Collyer Brothers.

They were all different sizes and shapes and were clearly all loved and well used. Ever since that afternoon I have secretly wanted to amass a similar collection for myself, though in the interest of staying married, I have limited myself to maybe 5 or 6 spoons in our much smaller kitchen.

And then I saw the above set of thirteen (13!) amazing, individual, hand crafted wooden spoons in all sorts of subtly-different-but-totalluy-practical-in-some-specific-way shapes on Food52 and all was lost.

Lets just say that I am working very hard to figure out a word that means the opposite of need, because that is exactly my relationship to this set of cooking implements. I really really really do not need any more wooden spoons. And yet my desire for them grows every time I look at the photo. It is evil cruelty. Maybe somebody will give them to me for my birthday or Christmas or something, and I will be forced to begrudgingly accept them and find room for them on my counter.

Because I wouldn’t want to be rude and return a gift, now would I?

Monday, Monday… or more links about things we could use for the little cabin in Maine

maine sunset

Here’s what a typical sunset looks like from out our window. A far cry from the mean streets of NYC, let me tell you…

Ok so we are now in the aforementioned island-off-the-coast-of-Maine and have indeed used a boat to get groceries and ice cream (though we also brought our own ice cream maker and made some killer strawberry ice cream last night.)

Whenever we are up here, my husband and I spend hours fantasy-redecorating this little house. And now that we have wifi, we can go so far as researching specific things that would change this place from paradise into a super stylish paradise. And so, in honor of this effort, I share with you all a few links to some of my favorite items. Who knows? Maybe you will find use for some of this stuff in your secret woodlands hideout, too…

ice cream maker
We brought up our somewhat large (but awesome) Cuisinart ice cream maker, but these little ball ones might be a better option for the near-camping aspect of our vacation. Maybe next year…

food52 bluetooth speaker

The whole cabin is made of wood, wood walls, wood floors… So I figure we may as well continue the theme in every way. Like these wooden bluetooth speakers (to replace the early eighties era boom box currently sitting on the shelf)

food52 toolbox
And (also from the fabulous food52) this wooden toolbox. Because I’m sure that tools work better when they live someplace nice.

vintage thonet chair one kings lane

Photo courtesy One Kings Lane.

For some reason that I don’t fully understand, we have a set of too low outdoor chairs around the dining table. Which drives me crazy every time I sit down to eat. Wouldn’t it be nice to have these vintage Thonet chairs (from One Kings Lane) instead? They go with the whole wood theme too…

wooden trash can
My daughter has rightfully complained that there is no wastepaper basket in her room (hence all the crumpled pieces of paper scattered about the floor.) The more organized and on top of it parent that I strive to be will be ordering her one of these wooden cans from Umbra, in lavender of course.

jadeite glass mixing bowls
Also for some strange reason, we have almost no mixing/serving bowls. Just some oversized soup bowls and a stainless steel one that reminds me of something one might fins in an army barracks… So I was thinking something like these jadeite mixing bowls would work. Not so lovely that you don’t want to beat eggs in them, yet nice enough to put on the table filled with salad or fruit or… lobsters… (This is Maine, for crying out loud.)

wooden game house
Last but certainly not least, we have to fill the time on rainy days, or evenings, or any time we don’t feel like being all outdoorsy and active. This house of games promises to keep us all entertained for… like… ever… With nary a plug or a screen in sight!

What would Ma do?

cross back linen apron on Food52. Photo by James Ransom, courtesy of Food52.com

cross back linen apron on Food52. Photo by James Ransom, courtesy of Food52.com

For the past week or so, we have been reading By The Shores Of Silver Lake, part 5 of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series. Mary, the oldest daughter, is now blind thanks to scarlet fever but still sews her own quilts and never complains, the family has just given each other beautiful handmade Christmas gifts and baked sour dough biscuits for surprise visitors whilst dancing to Pa’s fiddle and singing songs that can be heard across the desolate prairie.

It all sounds too good to be true. Plus Ma wouldn’t want to burst into tears because she couldn’t manage to extract the burnt out light bulb from her Viking stove hood.

In order to channel the spirit of the indomitable Caroline Ingalls, which I am desperately in need of as I ready our house for it’s annual summer rental, I am thinking perhaps I need to start wearing an apron. And right about now, I am feeling this Japanese inspired cross linen number from Food52. Now mind you, it’s a bit different from the calico aprons Ma tended to sport, but it is 2015, and as I’ve often looked toward Japan for gift inspiration of late (see garden clippers and the hori hori knife from earlier posts), I see no need to change direction now.

Especially when I need every moment to purge, clean, sort and organize so that our place can be in perfect condition… just in time for us to leave it in the hands of others.

And now I guess I’ll call the electrician to help me with these bulbs…

Another thing I really don’t need but totally want, regardless

crystal light bulb

Photo courtesy of Remodelista.com

Q: When is a lightbulb more than a lightbulb?

A: When it is this British full-lead hand-cut crystal bulb by Lee Broom.

Thing is, we actually have a few bare bulb situations in our house that I’m sure wouldn’t mind being taken to the next level by one of these bad boys. And while one might balk at paying $190 for a lightbulb, the price seems considerably more reasonable when you think of it as a light fixture instead.

Available at A+R, along with all sorts of other nice things.