Shopping for Aaron used to be hard but now he has really narrowed down his style and picked up a few solid hobbies that have stuck around which really helps me know what he will like. Lately, he loves his bike and sneaking away to read at a coffee shop for one hour on the weekends. His new job also allows him to dress a little more casual so I wanted to throw in a few things to fit the new dress code.
ONE // One of the top recommended books this year to keep him company on his morning subway commute.
TWO // A simple but stylish shirt for work or the weekend.
THREE // Because you are going to want to end up stealing these for yourself : )
FOUR // The perfect white sneakers that go with absolutely everything.
FIVE // An extra battery that can fit in his pocket and charges at lightening speed.
SIX // Warm and sleek tech gloves to keep him warm while checking e-mail.
SEVEN // Cashmere to wear all year in a comfortable silhouette, yet another thing on the list you may want to steal.
EIGHT // A keychain for all of his biking adventures and quick fixes.
What are you get the men in your life? I’m always looking for new ideas!
One of my favorite parts of the holidays is searching for the perfect present for the girls. They are both at such a fun age this year and being able to find something that fits each of their personalities and “likes” right now brings me such joy. For instance, Lilah is finally starting to enjoy books and is learning everything! She is such a little sponge right now. And Edith, she is becoming so opinionated about everything – her clothes, her toys, her books… Here is a gift guide with a few things that I’ve got in mind this year:
ONE // Bubbles are always a hit and these fun shapes make it a no brainer!
TWO // I’ve got my fingers crossed that this cute tray will make snack time go a little smoother around here.
THREE // Lilah is so curious and eager to learn. I’m anxious to give her these to make learning the alphabet fun and cute!
FOUR // A sweet romper by one of my new favorite clothing brands.
FIVE // A coloring book to keep Edie busy for hours. Plus, I can’t wait to spot some of our favorite NYC spots!
SIX // I think everyone but us has these socks and I can see why!
SEVEN // A cheeky pillow to brighten up your little one’s day and night.
EIGHT // After falling in love with “Dragons Love Tacos” this is sure to be a hit in our house.
NINE // Edith has been helping me in the kitchen after school. This apron is going to make her feel so “official”.
TEN // Every year on Christmas Eve we open a present with Christmas pajamas. I love this alternatives to the traditional red and green. That way it won’t seem so weird when we are still wearing them in July!
I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend! We had friends over for Thanksgiving and, while we missed having family around, it was nice to have a holiday of our own. I felt like a real grown-up! We had new friends over and ate so much food I could hardly move. It was so lovely. Unfortunately, the next day we all came down with strep throat except for Aaron and were stuck inside all weekend with nothing to do but eat soup and watch movies.
Its hard to believe that December will be here in a few days! Now that I’m finally on the mend I have every intention of getting the Christmas decorations out of storage and finally get a jump start on my Christmas shopping list. I’ve put together a few gift guides for this week to give you a couple ideas for all the special people in your life.
First up, your best friend! She’s funny, she’s your shoulder to cry on, she’s up at 5am texting with you so you know you’re not in this motherhood thing alone. She’s creative and inspiring and pushes you to follow your dreams. So treat her to something that you know will make her smile and that she will actually use.
ONE // A cute pouch for all of her things, making the switch from purse to diaper bag super easy.
TWO // Something that makes her beauty routine a little more pretty and a little less hassle.
THREE // Because she needs coffee and she needs it now. And it doesn’t hurt that it comes from this pretty press either.
FOUR // For all the style inspiration she will love to look at in the New Year.
FIVE // The perfect gift for someone who enjoys the small details.
Thanksgiving was never a big deal for my family growing up. Of course we would do the traditional Thanksgiving dinner staples, but it felt like a forced celebration, not a true family gathering. And, to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of turkey, stuffing, or casseroles. We would go around and say what we were grateful for but I never really gave it any thought or felt like these were things I was truly grateful for but things people expected me to be grateful for.
So this year, instead of traveling to visit family, we decided we are going to stay home and make the food that we love and start building traditions of our own. This weekend I just want to soak in my family and appreciate all of the things I have to be grateful for each day, simple things I know I take for granted. Like when I get the chance to wake up at 5am every morning to get Lilah from her crib. I know most days I’m barely staying awake while Lilah plays with her toy kitchen but I want to start taking that hour before the rest of the house stirs to soak her in, learn more about her, and appreciate what a special soul she is. Or how I have the opportunity to answer Edith’s three million questions that she asks everyday. I love her curious, inquisitive nature and how it is always forcing to me be on my toes. But mostly, I just want to appreciate that we are all happy, safe, fed, and together. Because nothing else in the world matters if we have each other.
What traditions do you have for Thanksgiving? A favorite dish? A way of sharing your gratitude? I’d love to hear!
One of my favorite things about living in Brooklyn is the makers community. There are so many small businesses doing amazing things that are innovative and inspiring, to say the least. I’m hoping to turn this into a small series here on the blog so I can share with you some of the amazing people I have met in the neighborhood that happen to be the faces behind our favorite brands.
First up, I’d love to introduce you to Jane Van Cleef, creator of the ever adorable Hazel Village. The girls and I stopped in her Gowanus storefront last week for a studio tour and to pick out a new creature to bring home with us. She was kind enough to tell me a little more about how she got started and who her favorite creature is!
HOW DID HAZEL VILLAGE COME TO BE? WERE YOU ALWAYS INTERESTED IN CREATING SOMETHING FOR CHILDREN?
Not necessarily. I always liked sewing things and running businesses, but before I started making toys I made clothing for adult humans. As I discussed with Edith though, I like babies and I think they are funny, so now that I make things for children I think this is a good job for me. When I have my own kids I’m super curious whether they will think of Hazel Village as, like, a treasure trove of fun stuff for kids, or their mom’s boring grownup job. I think either is definitely possible.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE TO INTRODUCE A NEW CHARACTER?
It’s really all about whether we think we can handle the added complexity of more styles in our inventory. Thinking of a character and making the sample is easy, everything else is hard. Also we have a lot of characters already and I hate the idea of “retiring” some of them so I’m more interested in developing more stories, outfits, etc for existing characters.
I JUST ADORE, THEIR CLOTHES! WHEN DID YOU DECIDE THEY NEEDED TO DRESS UP?
They always dressed up from the beginning. Dress-up was always the thing I liked about dolls and animals.
DO YOU CREATE CLOTHES WITH A PARTICULAR CHARACTER IN MIND
Usually not, because their clothes are interchangeable.
WHAT WAS LIFE LIKE BEFORE THE STORE, HOW DID YOU KNOW OPENING A STOREFRONT WAS THE NEXT MOVE?
Well before we moved, when FedEx wanted to deliver a package, they couldn’t ring our doorbell because the landlords of our art studio office had not installed working doorbells. So they might call my cell phone, but they might not. They might return the package and then we would be without tailcoat fabric or whatever for another week and we would have to pay double shipping. We knew we wanted a storefront, or at least a legit office, so this would stop. It’s just easier to have your own front door.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW NOW THAT YOU WISH YOU KNEW WHEN YOU STARTED?
Because the business is so seasonal, we have this scary cycle where we spend money all year, and then make it all back in December. I have slowly sort of gotten more used to that, but it’s still harrowing.
WHY GOWANUS? WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE NEIGHBORHOOD?
I love Gowanus! It’s walkable from Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, it has good train access near 9th st, we can afford to rent a darling storefront, I love all the funny bridges and industrial equipment. I love that we are near Lowe’s and Whole Foods. And of course the pie store, Fletcher’s, and Lucey’s Lounge. I’m not always a gregarious person but I have met so many people on our block, I feel a little like a Sesame Street character.
THE GARDEN OUTSIDE IS LOVELY! DO YOU HAVE A GREEN THUMB?
My dad does. He helped me make the garden and he still comes out every few weeks to check on it. I am a better gardener than I used to be I think, but still pretty neglectful. Fortunately our busy time has coincided with a cool, rainy fall, so the plants are happy even though, or perhaps because, I haven’t touched them in months. Soon it’s going to freeze and I can try again next year. We have a lot of perennials. We just put in raspberries which might not do anything until the year after next, but I’m pretty excited.
WHATS NEXT FOR YOUR ANIMALS?
Hopefully a crazy Christmas rush is next for them! After that, I have to think about it and talk it through with the people who would be making it happen. Perennial things I have been meaning to do: storybooks, more matching kids clothes, and craft kits for older kids.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE?
IF YOU WEREN’T MAKING MAGICAL WOODLAND CREATURES, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
Probably some other business. Also, I wish I had more hours in the day so I could develop a math curriculum based on the math you use to make stuff. For instance, if you have to cut out 400 special glittery doll rompers and you can get 12 rompers out of a yard, how much fabric will you need to buy? What if the fabric is a little wider so you can get one more piece in each row? People are always going on about how much they hate math and how bad they are at math, they even say it in front of little girls which makes me cringe. But if you’re trying to accomplish something practical, you use math all the time and I think it’s so much easier to learn and remember something that you want/need to know.
Thank you so much Jane, and everyone at the studio, for letting us come in and see the magic behind our favorite toys!
Starting today through Monday, November 30th, Hazel Village and several other our favorite stores are participating in a “Week of Giving”. Jane will donate 10% of proceeds to local food banks. Last year she raised over $1,000! So head over to her site and pick out a new animal for the perfect holiday gift while giving back to local communities. To read more about her “Week of Giving” and to see all participating stores click here.