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Life

FOR HER: HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

2016 Holiday Gift Guide for HerA few of my favorite things …

1. Gigi Pip Hat. As far as I’m concerned, a person can never have too many hats. I’ve seen a lot of women wearing hats by Gigi Pip on Instagram (my favorite place to discover brands) and I sinfully covet every single one. This grey one is a beauty but there isn’t a hat on that whole site I wouldn’t be thrilled to find under our tree.

2. Habitation Cuzco Embroidered Camera Strap. I saw a woman carrying her camera on a beautiful embroidered strap a couple of years ago and I’ve loved them ever since. What a beautiful upgrade to one of my most treasured belongings. Nena & Co has gorgeous camera straps, too.

3. Harry’s Shave Set. I mentioned this in my gift guide for guys because Harry’s technically makes men’s razors but I commandeered my husband’s for myself. I’ve been using men’s razor’s since I was in high school because I’ve always found them to be more gentle on my angry skin. Razor burn is my middle name. Or at least it was. Harry’s sent me this set to try out and the difference has been remarkable. After a couple of weeks, my underarms and legs are bump free and I’m ready for summer! Or maybe a tropical vacation to escape this polar vortex!

4. Coffee Beans. There’s no better time to brew up a pot of fancy, expensive coffee than Christmas morning. Go to her favorite coffee shop and ask for the fanciest bag of beans they have and then make sure you promptly brew her a pot while opening gifts under the tree. Extra points if you can make it snow and give her a white Christmas. (Our favorite coffee shop here in South Philly is Chhaya. We buy their espresso beans. Mmm.)

5. A Special Print or Photograph Framed by Framebridge. Quick! You might still have time to order! Pick a beautiful digital photograph, upload it, pick a frame, place your order and wait for the excitement on Christmas morning. Framebridge is pretty great. You mail them a print or piece of art (for free) or upload a digital photograph and they’ll do all the work and send it back to you beautifully custom framed. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

6. Nena & Co. Tote Bag. I cherish my Nena & Co. carryall. It’s absolutely stunning and literally one-of-a-kind. It’s one of my most favorite things. Plus, I love the story behind this gorgeous handmade collection. From the Nena site: “Our Artisan Collection consists of products constructed using newly loomed fabrics, custom created on a small-batch scale, ensuring attention to detail and quality of the highest standard. Commissioning the weaving and looming of these new fabrics is vital to the Guatemalan people, as it creates a sustainable form of income for our artisans. Thank you for helping us keep this beautiful art form alive, and supporting the wellbeing of our beloved Guatemalan artisans!” Love love love this.

7. A Great Big Checked Scarf. My husband bought me a beautiful checked blanket scarf from Acacia Scarves for Christmas two years ago and it remains the only scarf I need. I wear it every day and if we’re out and about and the kids get cold in the stroller I cover them with it, too. My blogger friend Jaclyn no longer makes my favorite scarf, but you can find them if you scour the internet (especially Etsy).

8. Half-Knit Leather Gloves. The Club Monaco website claims these gloves are for men but I’m calling BS. I guess that means they could be made for man hands, but the gloves themselves are beautiful. Last year my husband bought me a pair of CM leather gloves and they’re great. They fit like a … glove (ugh, sorry) and the leather is seemingly high quality. Isla has started stealing them because she loves how soft they are.

Life

FOR KIDS: HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

2016 Holiday Gift Guide for KidsOn St. Nicholas Day, Isla and I wrote a letter to Santa and put it in her shoe. She dictated, I wrote. She first and foremost wished Santa a Merry Christmas and then proceeded to create a very specific wish list: “A raincoat, Peppa boots, a bunny, a dog, a kitty cat, a piggie, a rabbit, a balloon and a scooter for Theo.” It appears Isla wants to jump in muddy puddles, move to a farm, have a birthday party and would appreciate it if her brother would stop stealing her ride. I think we can make some of that happen.

We’re really big on make-believe and learning toys around here, though it does appear Isla’s Paw Patrol collection multiplies every time we go to Target and her cats must be breeding while we sleep. Kids know what they like.

Here are a few cute things for the toddlers on your list:

(quick PSA: If you live in Philly, our favorite stores for kids’ toys, clothes, gear and more are: Tildie’s Toy Box, Cloth and Occasionette. I know the owners of all three of these shops and they are lovely. If you can support them, or the small shops in your own neighborhood, please do. Many of the things on my list (or similar and probably even better items) are sold in these shops.)

1. Micro Mini 2 Go Scooter. We bought this one for Isla when she turned two and she was already a bit too advanced for the seat. So we put just the seat in the basement and she’s been riding the regular scooter ever since. This Christmas we’re going to buy just the scooter for Theo and finally put that seat to good use until he’s ready to ride like his big sis. Though he’s pretty good already! He loves that thing and has learned to propel himself a couple inches with the kick of a foot and loves to balance on it … to Isla’s great frustration.

2. Dino Ears + Paws + Tail by Opposite of Far. I’ll never stop including Opposite of Far’s adorable animal masks and accessories in all my favorite kid toy blog posts. We really love this shop and the owner is ridiculously sweet. She may not be local, but she’s a small shop and is our favorite place for make-believe. Also, Isla and Theo are both currently obsessed with dinosaurs. Isla’s preschool spent a whole week learning about these prehistoric monsters and Isla came home and told Theo everything. He now rawrs like a dinosaur and it’s pretty stinking cute.

3. The Learning Journey Match It! Spelling Puzzles. We’ve had this box of three and four-piece puzzles for about a year and Isla loves them. She dumps the whole box on the floor and then digs through to find the pieces that match so she can put each puzzle together. I thought at first she would have a hard time, but she figured it out quickly and has gotten really good at matching the pieces and even recognizing the letters. So many skills to learn from one small box.

4. Binoculars. Isla loves to explore. She wants to go on adventures like Dora and be an animal rescuer like Diego so I think she’d love binoculars. They’re great for people watching in the city, too! Can’t go wrong.

5. Softcover Photo Book by Artifact Uprising. Isla was given an empty photo album for one of her first holidays so I printed pictures of all of her favorite people and filled it for her. She carries it everywhere and even sleeps with it. She loves that thing. It’s filled with cousins, grandparents, friends, adventures and even my aunt’s dog, who is no longer with us. Her excitement when she looks at it is still as strong as it was the day I put the pictures in it. But of course she and Theo have ripped a few of the pictures and those albums are flimsy so it’s falling apart. I love the idea of printing photos into a softcover book. It’s inexpensive and this way the images can’t be removed and torn.

6. Peppa Pig Rain Boots. Isla asked for Peppa boots so I had to include these. There’s just something about that Peppa and her muddy puddles! To be honest, I love that show, too!

7. Little Doctor’s Suitcase Wooden Playset by Janod. We don’t have this exact set, but the kids love playing doctor and Janod makes really great toys. Isla’s kitties are always getting sick and our little veterinarian makes them all better. Theo just likes to eat the little scope thingy that checks out your ears. Isla is actually sick this week so she’s been carrying around her stethoscope and listening to her own heart to make sure she’s okay. She also checked my belly yesterday morning for some reason and gave me a clean bill of health. Phew!

8. Ukelele by Janod. Our kids are music lovers, especially Theo, so absolutely any instrument or toy that plays music is a hit in this house. I thought all these loud toys would drive me crazy, but it’s pretty cute and anything that keeps the kids entertained long enough for me to actually eat a meal or do a load of laundry is a keeper.

Life

FOR HIM: HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

2016 Holiday Gift Guide For HimI don’t know about you, but I have the hardest time shopping for my husband. He’s a minimalist, so while he’ll show an interest in things, it doesn’t always mean he wants to own them. He wears the same shirts on repeat and refuses to get rid of anything. I’ve found myself taking notes any time he mentions something he likes and then trying to figure out as the holidays near if any of those same things are still even on his radar. Sometimes I hit the nail on the head, other times he humors me.

This list is simple, but it’s filled with things I think most men would enjoy.

1. Harry’s Shave Set. This one is also going on my gift guide for her because Chris and I both got a shaving kit as a gift from Harry’s and he’s too attached to his electric razor to give it a try (creature of habit), while I’m so in love with mine I’ve decided to steal his. This set comes with a razor, two blades and your choice of either a cream or foaming gel (you can upgrade to an engravable razor, too). The razors provide a super soft and gentle shave that does the trick with one swipe of the blade. Baby’s bottom smooth. The cream smells minty and the blades are half the cost of most other men’s razors. It’s glorious and your man will thank you. Bonus: Harry’s 1 + 1 program gives back to the community. Read about it if you’re like us and are inclined to support companies that pay it forward.

2. Leatherology Business Card Case. Digging through your bag in search of a dirty, bended business card to hand off to a potential client or employer is the absolute worst. I used to travel a lot for one of my previous jobs so I always needed business cards on hand. I had one of these in yellow and loved it. The magnetic enclosure keeps your cards safe and easily accessible. It’s also a great way to neatly store all the cards you’ve collected during a day of meetings. I imagine you’ll then go home and upload them to some fancy app and soon cards will be obsolete. But until then, this case is a must for a man (or woman) with things to do, places to be.

3. Fjallraven Kanken No. 2 Laptop Backpack. We have the Kanken original backpack, which we carry everywhere, and Isla uses the mini as her preschool backpack so we can vouch for Fjallraven. They’re stylish (and unisex), functional and really comfortable. This style is big enough for a laptop and the leather handles are a nice touch. My husband carries a backpack whenever he travels for meetings and I’m certain he’d love this addition to our family collection.

4. Wood Block + Prints. I love this. Pick 12 of your guy’s favorite photographs and stick them in this simple, manly frame so he can rotate them as often as he pleases. Such a simple, creative way to display photographs on his desk. And this way you won’t be upset if one day he chooses the picture of the dog over you and the kids. Dogs need love, too.

5. The Cotton Crew by Everlane. Everlane makes the softest t-shirts. I know from experience. There might be no better tee on the planet and I mean that. These come in a variety of colors and since my husband has his tees on a constant short loop, these are great. Everlane is another socially conscious company doing absolutely incredible things for its factory workers around the world. On Black Friday this year, rather than offer discounts on its products, the company used its profits to buy helmets for every single one of its 8,000 workers who ride mopeds to work every day on the dangerous streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Do not walk, run your fingers to Everlane.com.

6. Ray-Ban New Wayfarer Sunglasses. Ray-Bans are iconic and will remain in style for eternity, but the Original Wayfarer style isn’t for every face. The rectangular shape is universally flattering and comes in a variety of sizes and colors. It’s a keeper.

7. Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker. Chris uses this almost every morning to make a latte at home. We buy beans from our local coffee shop and he makes this on the stove while feeding the kids breakfast. We have the small one so it’s not great for when we have guests over and want to make a bigger batch of after dinner espresso, but it’s perfect for his daily addiction.

8. Leatherology Double Zip Toiletry Bag. If your guy travels, this is a must. It has a water-resistant lining, two compartments and is a buttery soft leather. How else is he going to carry that sleek new razor you stuffed in his stocking?

Life

FAMILY PHOTOS WITH KATE LEIGH

Family Photos with Kate Leigh, Philadelphia

Way back in October, Chris and I hired photographer Kate Leigh to capture our family out and about in Philadelphia in honor of Theo’s first birthday. We had professional newborn photos taken of both kids and did a one-year shoot for Isla so we really wanted to document this milestone with Theo, too. I also have literally thousands of photos of the kids but not many of the four of us. We’ve done professional photos in our home and at a studio, so this time we wanted to use the city as our backdrop. Philadelphia is so beautiful and we loved running around the museum properties and streets with the kids. It felt more natural and they cooperated much better being out and about rather than posing in a studio. Wild (city) animals in their natural habitat! But, really, I give all credit to Kate. She was incredible! These kids did not want to sit and smile and I was certain she’d come back and say, “Sorry, I only got five photos with everyone’s eyes open, and P.S. your kids are total monsters!” Nope! She worked her magic and I had a really hard time narrowing down which photos to share with you because there are so many and they are gorgeous. She was great with the kids and it shows in their relaxed smiles!

Thank you, Kate, for capturing our family and helping us commemorate our little guy’s first year!

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