Friday, November 09, 2007

Shopping with Style, While Wearing Pajamas

Ah, the luxury of shopping online, pajamas, a bottomless cup of cappuccino, no disgruntled sales clerks, and now Etsy. Featuring hand-made, hippest of the hip goods, offers shoppers an alternative to stale products mass-produced in China. From cork mats to superhero capes, there is an abundance of creative goods to keep the debit card warm.

Among the many currently calling to my card:

Holiday Cards from MagnoliaMoonlight. Retro Christmas trees and Asian inspired snowflake vines top cards edgy, but not over the top.

Hand-stitched vintage textiles and papers from Cotton Bird Designs. Little birds stitched from vintage fabrics, old maps, and ticket paper give recycled items new life.

Retro-fab car litter bags from Allyson Hill. Remember that lame plastic trash bag Grandma insisted on taking in the car in 1975? Now that I have kids, I so understand. Car litter bags are back and with ever so much more style.

Kids' custom superhero capes from Panjo. What all the cool superheros will be wearing this spring.

Cork mats from Shandke. Aesthetically pleasing in color, shape, and texture, subtly varied shades of cork arranged in a staggered pattern tempt bare toes.

These and more are available at Etsy, where independent designers and crafters share their goods.

Simplifying Sending Christmas Cards

Writing furiously to address and mail fifty cards in one day, the thought creeps in, "Maybe, they could be Happy New Year cards, or maybe Valentine's," and a promise is made to start earlier on those Christmas cards next year. They provide an excellent opportunity to reaffirm connections with family and friends, an opportunity that is easily lost in the season's busy schedule.

Conquer the Christmas card crunch by using an organized approach and addressing cards early. Organization is key. Keep a running Christmas card list and add new friends and business acquaintances throughout the year. Using your email program's contacts manager makes it quick and easy. Street addresses looked up online may even be added automatically, if using Microsoft Outlook, and by categorizing entries as "family," "friend," or "business acquaintance" they can be sorted into separate lists in a snap.

The number and type of cards needed can quickly be determined by reviewing the categorized lists. Sending secular cards to business and casual acquaintances is often advisable. Messages such as "Peace" and "Happy Holidays" are preferable when the person's tradition or ethnic background is unknown.

Christmas cards of all sorts are often available as early as the beginning of October. While they are usually not mailed until the week of Thanksgiving, addressing them can begin much earlier. It is the bulk of the work and can even be outsourced to a professional calligrapher or card sellers such as and Though setting aside a couple of hours on Saturdays, with the family, to address cards over hot cider can get them done quickly and be lots of fun.

Cards should be addressed, signed, stamped, and mailed no later than December 5th to allow time for recipients to send return cards if they wish. Additional cards kept in a container with stamps and a pen near where mail is read can make sending response cards quick and easy.

Once established, an organized Christmas card system can be updated throughout the year, simplifying keeping in touch with family, friends, and business acquaintances.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Watch Dennis McKinney in the Great American Pie Cook-Off

Need a special pie recipe for Thanksgiving? Just like to watch deliciousness develop before your eyes? See Dennis McKinney and other contestants make some of the best pies in America this week on the Food Network Challenge, the Great American Pie Cook-Off.

November 04, 2007 8:00 PM ET/PT
November 04, 2007 3:00 AM ET/PT
November 07, 2007 11:00 PM ET/PT
November 08, 2007 2:00 AM ET/PT
November 10, 2007 6:00 PM ET/PT
November 11, 2007 3:00 PM ET/PT

Do I sound biased? Dennis is my cousin. Let's just hope I inherited some of that baking talent.

Correction: Changed to read "Dennis is my cousin," instead of "Dennis my cousin." Ah, if only I had inherited proofreading talent too.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Sock Obsession

Do they itch? Do they bind? Are they completely out of fashion? Who knows. She refuses to explain, except to shout, "No!" angrily when anyone approaches her with a pair.

Baby K will not wear socks.

Will not wear socks with shoes. Will not wear socks in twos. Will not wear socks no matter what you do.

Burdened by a good dose of mommy guilt for allowing her to go sockless to preschool yesterday, I came home from running errands with this adorable bundle of colorful baby socks, plus a handful of play along crazy-striped mommy socks.

Let's hope it works.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

And It All Began with a Pub Crawl

The courtship was vastly more romantic than that, but the honeymoon began in Dublin and had to include a pub crawl. Dublin reminded me of New York with its busy streets and people bustling in every direction. The manor house where we stayed in Adare seemed more like a castle, and we're still not sure what language they were speaking in the small diner where we stopped shortly after getting off the plane in Shannon. Although we did eventually manage to communicate that we would like to know the location of the rest room, uhm bathroom, er toilet, eh water closet, uh lavatory.

(Photos from when my camera only had 3.4 megapixels.)

Pre-pub-crawl in Dublin

Pool at Torq Waterfall, County Kerry

Irish countryside, County Kerry

Blarney Castle, County Cork

Irish coast, Ring of Kerry

Torq Waterfall, County Kerry

Fisherman, Ring of Kerry

Monday, November 05, 2007

Super Fudge

Creamy, chocolaty warmth all wrapped up in a holiday treat, fudge comes but once a year in our house, and it's never made by me. Until now, that is.

Carnation's Famous Fudge Kit has given me the pre-packaged courage to share in my mother's role as family fudge-maker. It comes complete with a can of evaporated milk, semi-sweet chocolate morsels, a bag of marshmallows, a bag of "sugar mix," and a pan/gift tray. The only thing not included is two tablespoons of butter. Illustrated instructions are printed on the back of the box.

I think I can handle it. I've got to get a domestic move on after all. My husband is downstairs baking brownies.

Tune in soon for a review of the fudge making experience, complete with pictures.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Just a Few Flowers for Butterfly Wife

Just a few flowers for Butterfly Wife ...

Clinton's Unanswered Question

Has Hillary flip-flopped?

Can Clinton's refusal to answer a hard-hitting debate question be blamed on the inequity of the question, or her own approach to playing politics? View the Hardball discussion and actual video footage of Clinton's evasive answers on New York Governor Spitzer's plan to provide drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.