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When Father’s Day and your husband’s birthday fall on the same week

Every year, about this time, I get a series of text messages from my mother-in-law asking me what she should get my husband for his birthday. He is notoriously picky, and she is a wise woman who knows that if anybody has an idea of what to get him, it would be me.

And while one part of me just wants to crawl into a hole (“It’s bad enough figuring out what I am going to give him, for Father’s Day and his birthday, let alone help people who need to shop early to allow for shipping!”) the other part of me does have answers. That part of me also needs to put up a blog post every day, so here, without further ado, is what I recommend giving to my wonderful husband for his birthday.

tom dixon math tools

He wants this group of Tom Dixon mathematician tools badly. So much so that I would venture to say this is the #1 choice, despite it’s apparent lack of practicality. Josh is a big fan of beautiful things and this set is that, in spades.

Crabs

Josh’s all time favorite food is the Maryland Blue Crab. Nothing makes him happier faster. Once upon a time one had to be in Maryland to experience them. But now Harbor House Crabs will Fed Ex them to you all ready to steam and eat. A gift certificate from this place would be a home run.

lumio lamp

I almost got this lumio book lamp for Josh at Christmas/Hanukkah last year… This would be the perfect thing for the little shed/office he has in the back yard.

everlane jacket

This lightweight jacket by Everlane would be perfect in a size medium. He has actually asked for it specifically, should there be any doubters among you as to whether or not he would approve…

money clip by Jill Platner

Josh already has one of these, but if you are shopping for anybody like Josh, and they don’t have a Jill Platner money clip, now is the time to get them one.

And then last, but certainly not least (in fact, this might be the best gift of all in this particular instance) there is always a plain old check. Fits perfectly, works in any season, always useful and appreciated.

Hopefully this has been a help, not only to the mother of my beloved, but for any of you out there who might be casting about trying to figure out what to give that certain someone for Father’s Day…

Summer kicks

restrepo shoes at Jumelle

Here is the pair of shoes I most want this summer, staring back at me from the always-tempting window of Jumelle on Bedford Ave in Brooklyn.

Not that any of you noticed, but I usually write about books on Tuesdays.

I am straying from that path today, however, because I was so completely distracted by the above pair of shoes (seen in the window of Jumelle, a neighborhood favorite in the style dept.) Suddenly, all I can think about is the fact that it is finally warm, Memorial Day is upon us, and I can finally trade in my wool Adidas hightops for some cute summer kicks.

And the above pictured Dieppa Restrepo loafers are on the top of my list. Because they’ve got a little color whilst remaining neutral… a little pattern but you can wear them with anything.

But, of course, there are other contenders.

robert clergerie loafer

Neutral airy platform… what’s not to love about these Clergerie loafers?

Like these Robert Clergerie espadrille/loafers I spotted at Bird. All easy breezy with a platform to make you feel like you have something special going on without the least bit of discomfort that a heel might serve up.

bensimon tennis sneakers

The shoe that every cool french girl wears whilst strolling along the shores of the Riviera…

And then there is the classic Bensimon tennis elastic sneaker, which, to be honest, I don’t think would be all that good for actual tennis playing. But they will do quite nicely between the farmer’s market and the beach…

IX Style sandals

These sandals, by IX Style, are handcrafted in Guatemala by female artisans.

Last but certainly not least, these Huarache sandals won’t break the bank ($89!) PLUS a portion of your cash goes to helping impoversihed kids get clean drinking water. What’s not to love about that?

(Oh and of course there’s the new pair of Tretorns I have yet to buy…)

Farm fresh flowers

Fox Fodder Farm williamsburg pop up

The inside of the Fox Fodder Farm pop up in Williamsburg is cheerful even on a rainy day.

This weekend, if you happen to be one of the twelve million people heading over to Williamsburg to eat, drink and be merry, you might consider heading slightly off the beaten path to North 8 between Berry and Wythe where (if you’re a guy) you can get your hair cut at Fellow Barber.

And while you’re there (or maybe while you’re waiting for your boyfriend/husband/cousin/bandmate) to get his new look on, stick your head into the Fox Fodder Farm pop-up shop next door and buy a bouquet of fresh, local and ultra seasonal blooms from this tiny jewel of a florist.

They will be around all summer, and longer if they can manage it. And they are serving up the kind of bouquets that look like you just came back from a meadow full of wildflowers– the perfect antidote to the crowds of springtime-in-the-insanity-that-Williamsburg-has-become. On the weekends, at least.

Good thing for those of us locals… the spot will be open Tuesday – Sunday, so we can shop for our blossoms in a slightly more civilized weekday manner. Oh and you can check out FFF’s Instagram for even more reasons why you need to go there ASAP.

Monday, Monday, or more links to potential Mother’s Day gifts

This isn’t strictly a gift guide, but I couldn’t help but notice that Mother’s Day is around the corner. 6 days away, to be exact. SO rather than share a bunch of links to various sites of interest, I decided that today’s links should all go toward potential gifts for your mom.

(If your mother were me, by the way, any of these things would be a home run in the gift department)

watering_can

If your mom is into gardening, upgrade her watering can with this blue watering can from gretel home.

red flower spice set

For mothers who love spices, Red Flower has put together a little kit of products sure to bring a bit of the exotic into your everyday via your sense of smell. And it’s on sale right now…

chocotape-3_1024x1024

This beautiful wooden tape dispenser is so much nicer to look at than the plastic ones. Plus you can get her refils of all the cool tape for next year!

susan cianciolo cookbook

If your mom is kind of a hippie and loves to cook, the susan cianciolo cookbook is just the thing in all of it’s free spirited glory.

platner earrings

Giving jewelry is a classic gift that never fails and earrings from Jill Platner are as good as it gets.

loren tote bag

If your mom is my mother, she can never have enough tote bags. So you should consider getting her this denim one from Loren.

slow cooker

They say having a slow cooker will change your life. And what mother doesn’t want her life changed a little bit, right? Especially when the item in question is so nicely designed…

biorb fish tank

Now if your mom is me, and she has her daughter’s fish in a drab little aquarium that makes her sad every time she looks at it but it was the least offensive thing at PetCo and only cost $25, you should definitely buy her this waaaay cooler fish tank by BiOrb.

Bird at 15

mayle and Cornejo for Bird

Two pieces, designed by Jane Mayle and Maria Cornejo from the Bird 15th anniversary capsule collection.

Ok first of all, hats off to Jennifer Mankins for opening a little boutique in Brooklyn called Bird and sticking it out for 15 years. And she didn’t just stick it out, she thrived. She has built (with some help from her family and friends) a tiny but powerful empire of three stores, each one a jewel filled with colorful and life enhancing treats in the form of clothes, accessories and a bunch of other stuff like wallets and stationary and art by her friends.

It is a joy to visit, though very difficult to leave empty handed.

But, and here’s the kicker, she also had the foresight to cajole four of her favorite designers into creating special pieces just to celebrate her being around for so long. So there is now a special Bird 15th anniversary capsule collection with pieces by Maria Cornejo, Jane Mayle, Rachel Comey and Tsumori Chisato. The clothes are all amazing, which sucks for me because I want them all, which is totally unrealistic.

I also find this whole situation particularly exciting because not only have I admired Jane Mayle and Maria Cornejo’s work for, like, ever… but I have been lucky enough to count them amongst my friends for a good little while as well. I was heartbroken when the Mayle store shut down (and forced to drown my sorrows at the Zero Maria Cornejo sample sale) But now everybody is back, and right in my neighborhood in special limited edition glory. Beautiful colors and patterns and fabrics that are perfect for what looks to be the better-late-than-never arrival of spring we are experiencing today.

I suggest you all drop everything and go check out the goods if you are anywhere near a Bird store. Or, as it’s 2014 and who goes to brick and mortar stores anyway, you can always take a look online.

I myself am planning on doing both.

Shopping with your heart

The WILBy pop up shop at the Wythe Hotel

The WILBy pop up shop at the Wythe Hotel.

If your plans include a trip to Williamsburg this weekend (or if you already live here) you should all take a stroll over to the Wythe Hotel and check out the last weekend of the adorable WILBy pop up shop. It’s just past the check in desk on the main floor and it is really worth the visit.

WILBy stands for What I Live By and it’s all about shopping mindfully, with a full understanding of what goes into the things you are purchasing. At the core, they are a bag company, with a whole selection ranging from the $8 “Factory” bag made in Pakistan to the $120 “Local” bag, made to order at the Wythe, with fabric of your choosing. You can even bring in something that you want to recycle and your bag will be crafted from something that has personal meaning to you… how cool is that?

What makes this place different is its lack of preachy-ness about the whole thing. Any reusable bag is better than plastic, and while it might be nice to have a custom made especially-for-you carry-all, $120 might be more than you can spend on a vehicle for your groceries. They break down the whole process in this chart (below) so that you can see each step of production and thus gain a better understanding of the final cost of your bag.

WILBy production cost chart

And if you’re like me, and have way too many bags, there are all sorts of other ethically produced items to look at and potentially buy… from camera straps to tea towels to craft books for the kids. I know we’re supposed to be all about acquiring less, but at least at this shop we can feel really good about the people we are supporting when we buy their stuff!

The Shop at Wythe Hotel Presents WHAT I LIVE BY (WILBy)
March 10 – April 7 2014
10 am- 8pm daily
Wythe Hotel. 80 Wythe Ave. Brooklyn, NY

Yesterday, at some point…

jill planter jewelry

A shot taken in the hopes that the bright colors would drive the drab of winter away…

Through the magic of the internets, one day, I’m standing outside on E Houston St, shooting photographs of beautiful silver jewelry by my dear friend Jill Platner, and the next day the photo is up online, announcing her latest sale. In the olden days, we had lead times– sometimes of three months– before we ever saw the fruits of our labor published. And while sure, I’ve become accustomed to the speed of the turnover today, it still never ceases to amaze me.

But I digress.

The real piece of news is that Ms Jill Platner is actually having a sale. This is rare. And it’s because her whole crew is so sick of this never ending winter that they figured maybe if they had a “winter be gone” sale, the winter would, well, be gone.

SO go check it out on Crosby street (or online) and get yourself a little something while the getting’s good. Because the sale only lasts for a week. And hopefully winter will exit the stage right after.

Here come the hearts and roses

heart shaped pancakes

Or in our case, the heart shaped pancakes.

Sure Valentines Day isn’t till Friday, but last weekend we started to invoke the general positivity of the holiday by eating thematically, using nothing but things we already had on hand. I always love it when you can create something festive out of stuff that is already laying around. Oh and if you don’t already have heart shaped cookie cutters, may I suggest you get some ASAP. They are always coming in handy– a heart shaped cookie is sweet on any day of the year.

The big day, full of chocolate kisses and the obligatory card-for-every-kid-in-the-class, plus grandparents, and maybe a neighbor thrown in for good measure, is right around the corner. Here are a couple ideas to get your juices flowing if you are looking to go beyond the card/flowers mode. (Although don’t get me wrong, a hand made card can go a hell of a long way…)

For one, the good people at One Kings Lane have some great ideas of how you might celebrate.

We are making peppermint bark for all the kids this year. It’s basically a layer of white chocolate over a layer of dark chocolate with broken up bits of organic candy canes (oddly difficult to find) on top. Delicious!

If you’re having trouble getting into the mood, the folks at Flavorwire have a list of 50 books to titillate your fancy.

food52 hanging basket

You can get this really nice spherical hanging basket and fill it with chocolate and other treats. That’s good for an entire family!

jill platner silver heart

Who wouldn’t be excited about getting this open silver heart from Jill Platner?

kiosk dustpan and broom

This dustpan isn’t really romantic at all, but it is red, and beautiful. And there is a certain person (rare, but they do exist. I am married to one, in fact) who always yearns for beautifully designed cleaning implements. There’s lots of other red stuff at Kiosk as well, so go visit them now as the shop is closing on March 8. They have yet to find a new space, but hopefully one will materialize soon…

We don’t actually have any plans for Valentine’s day… To tell you the truth, my husband is going to be on the west coast at a meeting (thanks a lot!) returning home at some point after 1 am on the 15th. So the pressure is off, at least in this household, though I’m sure we’ll figure out something to do on Saturday that feels lovely and valentine-like.

Right Josh??

(Figured I’d give him a little nudge, if he actually ever gets around to reading this…)

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)