This was Christmas

“Make memories,” my mom always says in December. I am always grateful for those moments when I listen to my mom. Memories from Christmas at my house:



There were quick lunches with friends to trade presents and plans,  and an evening of Christmas lights and pizza with my nieces and nephews, who turned me into a jungle gym.


Shanna came over for a cookie extravaganza. She broke out the gold leaf and made the most glamorous sugar cookies I’ve seen — all in colors to match my house. That’s a good friend.



My favorite gift wrap: a “key to my heart” glitter tag with a vintage escutcheon from Olde Good Things in New York. Every year, I put this key on the present I’m most excited to give.




Christmas Eve with all the little ones. I made gift tags with nicknames. Scarlett LOVES that she is my “pink pig.”


The annual Rose Girls gift exchange with my mom and sisters — always the best part of December.



A quiet Christmas morning at home with Tyson, who was so excited to show me the things he picked out for me.



And then there was  Christmas breakfast with Angela and Mark, complete with monkey bread, sparklers and joy.




By |2012-12-27T07:10:15-07:00December 27th, 2012|Parties|2 Comments

D-I-Y: Tassel Fringe Gift Bags

I was staring at the pretty racks of upholstery trim in the fabric store when it came to me: ooh, presents. Why use something for its intended purpose when you can employ it to dress up Christmas gifts instead?

This is my kind of fast Christmas project. After three minutes with the hot glue gun, you have an overachieving gift bag with tassel fringe on top. (Reusable, too.)

I’ve decorated quite a few gifts with trim meant for upholstery and pillows this year. Come in and see what I’ve been up to (and yes, I’m feeling better — oh miracle, wonderful, drugs):




To make, you need kraft paper gift bags, a hot glue gun, and trim. My bags were purchased in bulk at Michael’s, and the trim is from Fabric Depot in Phoenix. (Candy cane: butterscotch, by Hammond’s Candies, from the Frances Studio holiday shop.)

Cut your trim to size. It looks best if it goes all the way around the top of the bag, as seen above, but you can also just adorn the front as I’ve done below.




Cute, isn’t it?

Below: I found this burlap-esque pillow trim in a little shop in the garment district in New York City and was very excited for its Christmas potential. The friendship tag is by Wendy Addison, from Tinsel Trading in New York.


Isn’t this grosgrain pleated trim gorgeous? I want to add it to the cuffs of a black sweater, too. Marni and I found it at MJ Trim, NYC — not sold online, but you might call and beg. The music notes paper is Caspari.


Also in ivory – leopard paper from The Container Store.


There are many tinsel possibilities in the furniture trim department.  Below: some pretties I spied at Fabric Depot.









I’m not a big fan of this stuff on pillows and draperies, but presents? Oh, my.



By |2012-12-21T07:03:42-07:00December 21st, 2012|Style|3 Comments

Go There: Frances Holiday Shop

I wandered into the Frances Pop-up Holiday Shop in Phoenix over the weekend, found myself in Christmas wonderland. You’ll all want to visit immediatement.  It’s piled with old-fashioned ornaments, glitter-covered bristle trees, and gingerbread heaven. (Also, the GOOD candy canes, from Hammond’s.) Find it in the same stripmall as Frances on Central and Camelback in Phoenix. I found a wreath that reminded me of my Granna and the one that used to hang in her hallway. Thank you, Frances, for that memory of her.



This would be a mercury glass ANCHOR ornament. My nautical leanings are tempted.


The best candy canes from Hammond’s, and they come in many colors. (I bought white, because I’m insane like that.) Try the ones filled with chocolate, which Tyson’s mom turned me onto. Hammond’s is in Denver, near T’s home town.





The wreath that I found and love:

Again, Frances is at 10 W. Camelback Road in Phoenix, on the northwestern corner of Camelback and Central.


By |2012-12-11T07:02:42-07:00December 11th, 2012|Style|3 Comments

Christmas Breakfast Monkey Bread

This is genius breakfast — the kind you mix the night before in just a few minutes, then pull from the oven on Christmas morning, browned and glistening. It comes to you from my future mother-in-law, who is wise about Christmas breakfast and about simplicity in life.

Clearly, I need help with that.

RECIPE: Christmas Breakfast Monkey Bread

18-24 frozen Rhodes rolls

1 1/4 cups brown sugar, divided

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons powdered cook and serve butterscotch pudding mix

1/2 cup pecans, chopped, or slivered almonds — whatever nuts you have

The night before, place the frozen Rhodes rolls in a greased Bundt cake pan or an angel food cake pan. Sprinkle the rolls with 1 cup of the brown sugar, distributing the sugar as evenly as you can, and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the 1/4 cup brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, butterscotch pudding mix, and pecans together. Pour or spoon this mixture over the frozen rolls. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave on the counter overnight.

In the morning, bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, and serve hot.

Don’t forget the butter — though even the one Christmas I did, we still ate it. Yes, it’s that good.

By |2012-12-05T05:24:09-07:00December 5th, 2012|Recipes|3 Comments

The 10 best advent calendars

When I was little, my mom put up a homemade advent calendar for each of her four kids.  I still remember the thrill of every December morning, knowing I could come into the kitchen, open a numbered felt pocket, and find a treasure inside.

Now, we fill an advent calendar for my mom. I thought you’d like a peek at some of the things inside, and a sampling of my favorite advent calendars to buy or DIY.

1. I made this advent pillow for my sister last year for Christmas after finding the tiny stocking garland at White Balcony, a favorite boutique in Fort Collins, Colorado — Ty’s hometown.

I just glued the garland to houndstooth pillows from Etsy — and in retrospect, sewing the garland to the fabric would have been a better idea. It’s still cute, though, and small treats and notes can go into each pocket.

2. My mom’s advent calendar is a mirrored Target find, which I also own and fill for Tyson at home. We like to tuck in chocolates, love notes and small surprises.

I made this wreath from tiny jingle bells in turquoise — my Granna’s signature Christmas color. It’s just a small reminder of my mom’s own home.

3. This wool stocking advent garland is from RH Baby and Child, but couldn’t you do it yourself?

4. For modernists, I love this D-I-Y black and white creation from Creature Comfort.

5. This sweet and clean D-I-Y version has me singing about “brown paper packages tied up with string,” from Shim & Sons.

6. This Scandinavian advent village has just the look I love, especially with those bottle brush trees. $98 at Nova 68.

7. The trees get me every time. This is simple and sweet project is from Oh Happy Day.

8. An advent pillow to buy, $49.99 on Etsy.

9. Land of Nod’s cute advent banner, $35.

10. Just think: if this calendar is your choice, you might not even have to go to the store. From Lovely Things.


By |2012-12-04T05:15:36-07:00December 4th, 2012|Style|1 Comment

The cutest gift tags

My favorite gift tags are those old-fashioned metal-rimmed tags from the office supply store. For under $10, you receive a pile of 50. They look chic and last forever.

I don’t know why I insist on stockpiling more.  My favorite gift tags, for all of your over-achieving gift wrap needs:

(Gift wrap above by Erin Zam. )

Deer silhouettes and gingham? Oh, the hipster glee. $9 for six, PixelImpress, Etsy.

I found these beautiful scallop-edged cards at Bell’occhio, one of my favorite little shops in San Francisco. These cards even come in nickel-sized scale.

Not a tag, but too pretty to keep to myself: Merry Christmas twill ribbon, $8 for one meter, Etsy.

Tree bark tags, Anthropologie, $14 for 10. I think an industrious crafter could make these herself.

Easy XO tags, since that’s how I sign all my notes anyway, $20 f0r 18 tags, from Sugar Paper in LA.

Letterpress gift tags, $6 for six, Dingbat Press on Etsy.

Silver and gold bauble tags, $8 for eight, Dingbat Press, Etsy.

Santa’s Belt ribbon, $14 for 10 yards, The Container Store.

And one to make yourself: recycled holiday cards turned monograms, from Martha Stewart.

By |2012-12-03T05:15:51-07:00December 3rd, 2012|Style|0 Comments

Christmas Prep Part Three: Gift Guide

I’m trying to wrap up all my shopping by Dec. 10 so I have time to enjoy connecting with friends instead of stressing out about what to give them. My ideas for the girls:

Glitter heart iphone case, $25, Etsy.

I gave personalized calling cards to a few friends last year, and they were the best received gifts on my list, $25 for 50 by PixelImpress on Etsy:

The photos of these gorgeous gold letterpress prints from Sugar Paper in LA don’t convey their glory — deep impressions, beautiful heavy paper, gorgeous on gallery walls. $50 for an 11 by 14 print.

I also love the ampersand, $40:

Rockin’ chandelier earrings from Furbish in North Carolina, $24:

C. Wonder’s monogrammed jewel box comes in green, orange, black and white and is so luxe in real life,  especially in black and white, $78:

I love to give books, always. Vogue editor Grace Coddington’s new memoir is a scream, and so pretty, too. $35:

For decorphiles, this book is IT. Rhapsody by her highness, Kelly Wearstler, $55:

I really like this gold leather tassel keychain, $35 from Furbish. You can also make your own tassel keychains, as demonstrated here:


My friend Rebecca handed out these monogrammed makeup bags by a local artist to her bridesmaids. Adorable in real life. $40, Etsy.

In New York, I love to buy gifts from Fish’s Eddy — which also has a fantastic website. I have and love this “rest in grease” spoon rest, $12.95.

Also at Fish’s Eddy, bird glasses by Todd Oldham, $7.50 each.

What are your gifting standbys?


By |2012-11-30T09:52:22-07:00November 30th, 2012|Style|1 Comment

Christmas prep part two: Gift wrap scheme

I don’t want to talk about the well-documented hours I spend each year wrapping gifts. I love doing it, but it’s completely insane. This year I bought the paper early, along with some new package baubles, and I vow to wrap a gift each night. (Which means I have to have said gifts, of course.)

I’m really excited about the herringbone-tweed paper I found at The Container Store.

Design*Lab is a scary place for ribbon hoarders. Spools of stripes, burlap, and the alphabet had me spending and scheming (and MORE spending, because then I found this glitter snowflake wire below).

At FOUND, I discovered metal ribbon, which I’m excited to play with.


And I’m considering adding leopard to the mix — because it’s always necessary in a room, so why not under a tree?


By |2012-11-29T05:30:00-07:00November 29th, 2012|Style|2 Comments

Easy Homemade Vanilla to Give Friends & Neighbors

Our gift to friends and neighbors this Christmas: homemade vanilla that we bottled and labeled ourselves. This is a crazy easy but impressive handmade gift. You don’t have to do anything but pour, shake, wait, and give with glee.

I’m a vanilla freak and excited to share my brew around town. Vanilla means dessert, which means joy.

Directions: put vanilla beans in a jar (you want 5 beans per 8 ounces of vodka). I bought my vanilla beans here.

Pour in the vodka. Feel free to use the cheap stuff.

It will look like this.

Shake it once a week for at least a year. Then, it will look like this — which is 18 months later:

Decant into small bottles, available here:

Attach a fun label. I designed mine in Illustrator and printed it on sticky-backed label paper.

Give it away.

What’s the best neighbor gift you’ve ever received?

By |2012-11-26T23:07:34-07:00November 26th, 2012|Recipes|1 Comment

My gift to you: Downloadable Homemade Alphabet Wrapping Paper

I dreamed of alphabet wrapping paper with vintage flair, so I got to work in Illustrator, took a trip to Kinko’s, and now have a present for you.

My homemade wrapping paper. Cute, isn’t it? It is my homage to the things I love best: words and books and thoughts and sharing all of the above.

Would you like some? You can download my PDF here, email it to your local Kinko’s, ask them to print it out for you on the oversized blue print machine. Each sheet is three feet by three feet and will cost about $6.

I’m pretty excited about it and may or may not be imagining a world in which I get to design wrapping paper for Hallmark, say. Or Target. Because I have some big ideas.

By |2012-01-11T12:47:24-07:00January 11th, 2012|DIY + Projects|3 Comments


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