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HOLIDAY gift guide: for the city boy

December 9, 2010

Check out the holiday gift guide for the city boys of the world on the new blog.

holiday gift guide for the boys - electronics, sex, food, beer, sentiment.


In the New Space: Bret’s ChristmaHanaKwanzika Post

December 7, 2010

Read the post here

on the NEW blog! from her fridays: a journey of…everything

December 4, 2010

Hi there! We’re over at Love Your Way now, we’ll keep posting for a week or so here, but we hope you’ll do us the pleasure of joining us in our new space.

Image from Wide Open Spaces

Before I tell you what I really want to tell you, a little backstory. My 2008 New Year’s resolution (and the only one I’ve ever actually completed) was to read a book every two weeks for the whole year. Gave me some time in between to read quickly or take something slower. I read some of the most amazing books I’ve ever read during that time: Traveling Mercies and Bird by Bird, both by Anne Lamott, Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller (which I could easily credit as the book that re-sparked my interest in reading), White Oleander by Janet Finch (still one of my favorites) and The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, to name my favorites. All highly recommended.

I am a huge fan of reading. I love everything about books. I refuse to get an electronic reader because I love to mark up my books until they’re almost unreadable with thoughts sparked from another writer’s words.

I started writing what I was convinced would be my first published novel at age nine. I was going to be an author, I was absolutely certain of it. The childlike part of me doesn’t feel silly at all saying I still will be. The realistic Mrs. Hyde, however, is spouting off uncertainty because of the online publishing world and its cannibalization of the print publishing world. It would mean almost nothing to me to print an “e-book,” whatever the hell that means. That’s not to discredit e-books, but to say that I personally would feel incredibly anti-climactic being published online after putting years of work into a book.

That being said, Isaiah and I are writing a book, have been for almost three years. I am also writing a book, which has recently turned into an adult coffee-table book complete with Isaiah’s fantastic illustrations. The book we’re writing together is about a couple’s journey represented by music…which may seem narcissistic as it’s mostly modeled after us…but I believe I’ve heard the phrase “write what you know” more times than I care to recount, so we’ll go with that.

The book I’ve written is a collection of interactions with strangers and odd conversations…I’m not sure how loved it would be by anyone but me, but I got some outstandingly sweet comments on it from a favorite professor of mine who turned 180+ pages around to me by the next morning with comments galore on each page. “I couldn’t put it down,” he said. I cried. I’m sure you’re having a hard time believing that I cry as rarely as I claim, but I think I may just be recounting some of the more personal moments in my recent years…so you can continue on.

Anyway, the other part of this journey that has intertwined throughout the last eight years is music. Isaiah with his rock-band (for more than eight years) and I with my solo gigs and occasional features and collaborations. We’ll talk about that more on another day. The main thing is this: Our journey has so many roads. Music, design, art, writing, photography, owning a business, movies and all the ways we’re sure we can make it. We have to narrow down. The renaissance men and women of the world often weren’t known for anything but being renaissance men/women unless they committed to one aspect. They were later mentioned, “Oh, and did you know he/she did __________ too?!”

You can’t dedicate yourselves equally to all parts of what interest you, or even more painful to let go, what you’re good at. There’s an excellent book I got for my high school graduation gift called The Dip by Seth Godin. It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten (hint hint with the holidays coming up). The books tagline reads A little book that tells you when to quit (and when to stick). It’s focus is to understand when it’s time to let things go and focus on things that have real potential for you.

What that means in terms of us and our (too) many endeavors? We’ll see.

I also think it’s notable (meaning I’m jumping up and down) to say that Isaiah was just accepted into school yesterday. He’ll be a full-time design student as of January. Well this just about sums it up, doesn’t it?

Image from We Heart It

I couldn’t be more proud. What do you think about over-committing and being too enthusiastic about too many different options?

Love Your Way = Launched

December 3, 2010

Love Your Way is alive and healthy. We spanked its bottom and heard the first cries at 7:30 this evening. Let us know what you think. We’ll redirect this site in the future to our new site, but for now, we’re all about the freedom of choice.

Mixtape Masters: Do the Math Rock

December 3, 2010

If you haven’t noticed, we LOVE Mixtape Masters. This week, we wanted to share another one of our absolutely favorite genres: Math rock. If you aren’t into math rock, you don’t know what you’re missing, but there’s no time for lecturing…we’ve got everything you need to get started right here.

Enjoy the mix. Enjoy the rock. Enjoy the math.

For more mixtape master madness, check out these peops: Hi-Fi Weddings, One Cat Per Person, Tylre, My SF Budget WeddingFashion Under 100, Dead Flowers, Jo Rooting, Craft My Life, Another Damn Life, Casa de Kaloi, Bunnies’n Beagles, Something Different, Savoir Weddings, Existing Between Reality and Dreams and Fancy Notion.

Be a Mixtape Master. Email Angie or Ashley to get on the list.

ChristmaHanaKwanzika: Lisa of Craft My Life

December 2, 2010

Lisa is the second, awesome guest-blogger in the series, ChristmaHanaKwanzika. The series is meant to shed some light on what the holidays look like, smell like, feel like, taste like and are like in different families and homes. I hope you enjoy the series, and you follow along with other ChristmaHanaKwanzika posts if you want to read more. If you don’t know Lisa, I’ve previously threatened to physically harm you if you don’t read her blog. So that’s just not acceptable any longer. She draws, yes draws, recipes, gives awesome DIY projects and craftiness, participates in Mixtape Masters and is genuinely a freaking delight to talk to. Without a second longer of delay, the fantastic Lisa of Craft My Life.

(sorry, I don’t have access to any childhood christmas photos at the moment so you will have to settle for a quick (lopsided) drawing of teenage me, complete with my pac sun shirt, jnco jeans and awful silver ball necklace.)

When I think about Christmas what I really think about is Christmas Eve. When I think about Christmas Eve, I think about the Christmas Eves of my youth. These were nights chock full of activity and parties and early presents and to know them is to know why I love Christmas so damn much.

I cannot recall how the morning would start. With a pretty high level of excitement I’m sure. There was no school so that was an automatic bonus (I liked school but I feel like no matter how much you love school, you loved days off more). Bonus points if it was snowing. I always felt like it ought to snow for most of December.

Before we went to our annual parties, we were allowed to open one early gift. When I was young, I always went for the biggest gift. One year, this ended up being a set of golf clubs (Clearly this was the last year I used that method. My father desperately wanted me to love golf like he did. I did not. My sister was a really good golfer but gave it up because it wasn’t cool, I think that broke my poor dad’s heart). As I grew older, I learned to strategically size up the presents and pick those which contained clothes so I could wear a cute outfit to the aforementioned parties. Not to impress anyone mind you, the party goers consisted mostly of group A: 90% of the people being 50+ years older than I and group B: stylish middle aged couples not likely to be impressed by my new sweater from Deb or 5-7-9.

Anyways, with the gifts opened, my mother, father, sister and I would go to my mother’s best friend’s house. There we would socialize with the kids of my mom’s friends (you know those kids who you were friends with since your parents were friends). I would eat meatball sandwiches, lasagna and deviled eggs. My friend and I would exchange gifts (whatever we could afford with our allowances, usually some kind of stuffed animal or box of chocolate, whatever it was I feel like it was usually from CVS). I remember sitting on her bed and talking about boys and listening to music.

The next party was our next door neighbors’. This is where I ate ham and fancy deserts. I also played with their cat and dog. I was lucky too because a good friend of mine’s family was friends with the neighbors so she was always there. At the end of the night, we would walk through the woods through the pathway back to our house. Then I would lay in my bed overwhelmed by excitement (and kept awake by a stomach aching from such a weird mix of food).

This feeling is what I think of when I think of Christmas: this amazing mix of anticipation and happiness. A complete whirlwind of emotions, thoughts of what the next day holds. Also, I was psyched to eat candy for breakfast. Since those years, more parties have been added to the mix (my cousins, Ryan’s dad’s) but those two original parties are the core. I feel like its not the holidays until a couple things are checked off my “list” like the first snowfall, hearing that Waitresses song and/or frantically making gifts….but let’s be honest: its not Christmas until I eat those freakin’ delicious deviled eggs.

Happy Holidays all!

*PS. I bugged Lisa for another photo and she gave me this one that they photoshopped. Lisa took out Ryan’s sister and put herself in instead, which cracked me up and her up as well. They used this adorable photo for their holiday card 2 years ago…which I, of course, thought was epic and fantastic. Don’t you think so?

Also, check out today’s candied walnut label template, I posted it first so as not to hide Lisa’s blog deep in the forest of earlier posts. Enjoy your day…do something generous…quit being so selfish, jeez. Just kidding…kind of.

Template Thursdays: Candied Walnuts Labels

December 2, 2010

Template Thursdays: Free Download Printables DIY

I just became a new blogger at Intimate Weddings. I’m excited, obviously. While scanning all of the content that I wasn’t familiar with and re-brushing up on posts I had already read, I fell in love with a candied walnut tutorial they posted Monday.

I’m absolutely making these little gifties to go inside of a handmade hopefully-awesome-package I’m giving as gifts this year…due to the lack of job-y-ness and what not.

Isaiah and I put together some labels tonight in case you wanted to do the same.

Candied Walnut Free Download Label DIY Treat Bags

Download the label, print and cut. We made them slightly larger than 3″ wide, because 3″ is the standard size for most of the inexpensive treat bags out there. Fold them in half and roll up the treat bag inside, just like the tutorial says, and staple the label onto the gift bag.

Hope you enjoy, we’ve got Lisa’s fantastic ChristmaHanaKwanzika post coming up in an hour. Stay tuned.

Geek Out: My Family Edition

December 1, 2010

Geek Out: A Gathering of Inspiration from Around the Web

In all honesty, as much as I lean toward optimism to a fault, sometimes I massively underestimate my family. I love them. I always love them. Some members of my family have this habit of saying what they’re thinking, even if it’s unnecessary and hurtful. As the most talkative one of the bunch, I’m often the target of some of these useless, sucky phrases.

Over the years, I’ve gotten used to the idea that I’ll probably tear up at some point during the holidays and say to Isaiah, “They just don’t get me.” He’ll console me and wish that I would let him play with my uncles instead of keeping him all to myself.

This year was different.

Sometimes people astound you with what they see. Sometimes they astound you with what they don’t.

But this time, my family pleasantly surprised me.

You go through phases with family. You start out thinking they can do no wrong. They’re all wise. They’re all completely in love with you and your adorable little toddler-10-year-old self. My little cousin (13) is in the teenage phase where you think everyone hates you and that no one understands what you’re going through. I went through that. I think I got used to expecting that phase. At some point (for me, slowly over the last four years), you start to see your family in a different light. The glass image of them has been broken and you start to repair it…loving them for who they are and what they’re interested in as people. This may sound like common sense. Maybe I got it all too late.

My family really wants the best for Isaiah and I. I wasn’t sure they did.

My aunt even said to my mom about Isaiah and I, “Those two are going to make it.” It was the most heartwarming comment to hear secondhand. She believes in us. My mom agreed that she did too.

They talked for a while about how they believed in our relationship because of the way we fight. Never malicious and always over quickly.*

I enjoyed playing with my little cousins…daydreaming about the children that will be someday…how beautiful they’ll be. It was the perfect Thanksgiving. My aunt set up the table beautifully…she would kill me if she knew I took photos after we put butter on the table in the containers. You don’t mind though, do you?

Thanksgiving Table Setup

We came home and at the end of a day-long drive, we unpacked the Christmas tree to decorate. My mom still puts my handmade ornaments on the tree from preschool through whenever-you-stop-making-ornaments-in-school. She gave us a beautiful mini-tree for our apartment. It looks so Christmas-y in here.

I bought a SUPER-tiny miniature tree for toddlers (the brand is called “My Own Tree”) with little mini-garland and tiny ornaments for the nightstand. Isaiah bought a candle called “Christmas.” It’s starting to smell and look like the holidays I remember loving.

Spending the quality time with my family over Thanksgiving really helped get me back in the giving, Christmas spirit. I got to spend a few days with my dog. Did I mention I have a dog? I named him Wishbone when I was 9. I hope it’s clear that I regrettably named him after a short-lived TV series that he reminded me of. He’s a cutie-pie though.

Wishbone - Dog for the Holidays

What’s got your Christmas spirit up to threat-level-red-and-green?

*We want to talk later, semi-in-depth about how we fight…I think it can be one of the most defining things about a relationship…for now, we’ll just leave you with that tidbit.

Fingers Crossed and Other Pet-Peeves

November 30, 2010

Fingers Crossed

Image via

I have many pet-peeves.

There are an annoying number of things that annoy me.

I can’t stand loud eating noises. Something that actually makes it difficult for me to imagine a day I will calmly stare at a child of mine while they smack away on a Goldfish.

I can’t be around people who call others out. Hence why I’ve never told anyone but Isaiah to either chew quietly or move far, far away from my ears. I learned something at a young age, “You don’t have to say everything that comes to your mind.” Most of the hurts we go through in our lives (barring the deaths, the illnesses and the like) could have been prevented if people just thought about what they were going to say before they said it.

I have many small pet-peeves that might seem neurotic to (cough, Isaiah) many people around me. However. There is one thing that I think is bigger than a pet-peeve. It’s something that rocks my spine like a car wreck every time I hear it.

That thing? Have I built it up too much?

I can’t stand when people get married and all along the way drop little cliché phrases like, “This will be our only marriage, fingers crossed” or “We’ll be together forever, knock on wood.” Perhaps it’s the way a couple of recent, close divorces have affected me and my way of thinking on this topic.

I remember reading on a blog (the particular blog I can’t remember, I apologize) that there are good years and bad years in marriage. With a mentality of “I hope this one takes,” how can we be expected to make it through those times? Prepare yourselves for the long-haul. Imagine forever. Know that you’ll make it, don’t “hope” or expect luck to take care of things for you.

I feel as though we’ve been taught to think believing in true love is silly. We’re lofty if we believe that our marriages have what it takes. I think saying, “At least I hope we’ll be together forever” is only to satisfy to everyone around us that we are aware of the risks.

Decide. Marry deliberately for forever. If it doesn’t work, so be it, recover, move on…but don’t prepare for the worst from the beginning.

What are your thoughts?

ChristmaHanaKwanzika: Angie

November 29, 2010

Angie is the first guest poster in the series ChristmaHanaKwanzika celebrating what the holidays look like/feel like/sometimes smell like in every home. Without further delay, in her own words.

As the eldest child of a single mom, I was burdened with one primary responsibility – to keep the secret of Santa safe. Being her accomplice was no easy task. I went to every single toy store in the state with her. I helped her wrap all of Santa’s gifts until our fingers bled.* I even helped her hype up the Santa Hotline.** Together we very carefully planted all sorts of evidence that Santa had visited our tiny townhouse. However, there was one job I had to go into alone – eating Santa’s cookies. I was a pro. The trick was to make it look like he was in a hurry – take a few bites here and there, save some milk in the glass, and be sure to leave crumbs on and around the plate. One year I even left a trail of crumbs leading to our front door. (We had no chimney, he had to get in somehow.) After I wolfed down both mine and Santa’s share, my mom and I would lay by our beautiful Christmas tree, me in my self-induced cookie coma and my mom with her bleeding fingers, just watching the small, electric train travel around the trunk.

My mom made Christmas a lot of fun. She even caved in one year and let us get the big-colorful-blinking–bulb-seizure lights my sister and I wanted. My mom is a Christmas tree freak. Her trees look like they came straight out of the NYC Macy’s window display. She layers ribbons, strings of pearls, white lights, and strategically hangs each ornament until it’s perfect. PERFECT. She goes through phases of decorating – one year it was country chic, a few years later it was bright metallics, then after that it was hand blown glass, and now she’s obsessed with an all red and green tree. She collects three new ornaments each year for my brother, sister, and I to have someday. She’s just about replaced all of the old ornaments, except three. When my mom started her ornament hoarding, my sibs and I thought it would be a great idea to DIY some for her. We picked up three clear plastic globes, some paint, ribbon, glitter, and a handful of tchotchkes. Our inspiration – the snow globe. Brilliant, right? All three turned out great. They were the perfect set of snowy goodness made with love. And where does she put them? On the back of the tree that faces the window in her living room. She says she wants the entire neighborhood to appreciate the craftsmanship, but we know she’s full of it.

As an adult and a wife, the holidays still mean very much the same thing. Cookies and ugly ornaments. Kidding. For me, the holidays are about the memories you make and the people you share them with. I appreciate the memories my mom created for us all those years, and I hope to do the same for my family. This is our first year celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas as a married couple. The traditions we create now may very well be the same ones we share with our future children, which is very exciting. And just in case you’re curious, we haven’t decided what to do about the whole Santa thing. Someone even suggested partnering him up with Hanukkah Harry. I think this can be dangerous for both Josh and I. (Exhibit A: Double the self-induced cookie comas.) Not to mention the whole he-sees-you-when-you’re-sleeping thing creeps me out.

We started our own holiday tradition just last year. Just before Christmas Eve we get together with a handful of my cousins and exchange gag gifts under $15. We eat lots of food, drink lots of drinks, and make cracks at our new gifts. Last year, Josh’s Secret Santa got him his most favorite things in life – a pack of Nathan’s hot dogs and Ghirardelli’s Peppermint Bark. He must have been a very good boy.

* Not really. There was no blood involved.
** You could call some local number and either hear a recorded message from Santa or a where-is-he-now status report. It was ridic.

Sidenote, you should know that Isaiah loves Nathan’s hotdogs, and considering we’re Vienna-all-beef-Chicago-style-hotdog-snobs, that’s saying a lot.