Week Links [21 December]

Good morning! I want to express my deepest condolences to anyone who has to work today. I’m off until the 4th, because my job absolutely rules. I will be spending my day baking chocolate babka and catching up on podcasts. I’m also racing to read 50 books by the end of the year…only 4 left!

I hope you and yours have a spectacular holiday season in spite of everything. Merry Christmas!

  1. Taylor has done it again—sneak-attacking us with another iconic album, this time in celebration of her 31st birthday. I was an extremely late-adopter with Taylor, but even if I hadn’t already become a fan, 2020 would have been the year. This girl comes back harder than a ’90s trend. (This post was mostly written a week ago, so I know evermore is already old news.)
  2. I’m going to be posting about my 2020 in books, but one that deserves an unrelated shout out is Beach Read by Emily Henry. I almost wanted to start over from the beginning when I finished it. Powerful, sweet, delightful fun. Also, I read this during a snowstorm, so it was nice to remember that summer exists.
  3. I discovered this jewelry brand on Instagram last week and now I want everything, especially this zodiac necklace.
  4. I got another set of foils in my quest to become a blonde and the bleach lightened the virgin hair at my roots so much that it kind of looked like a ’90s boy-band’s frosted tips (I have since gotten a root smudge). I use Olaplex to keep my hair from falling out from the way I abuse it.
  5. I’m listening to Shit, Actually by Lindy West and the chapter on The Notebook felt like a point-blank execution. I know it’s problematic, and that by extension, I’m problematic, but I don’t care! It’s an iconic love story! (To be clear, Lindy’s book absolutely rules and has made me laugh out loud like a fool on innumerable occasions.)
  6. I need an intervention to prevent me from buying this sweatshirt.
  7. I listened to this podcast episode on unpopular opinions recently and apparently my opinions are not so unpopular after all! Microwave-haters unite!
  8. Bided (bode?) my time and finally managed to snag a new wool coat for 60% off. Debating as to whether I should grab this one too, since it’s SO inexpensive…
  9. Reorganized my fridge again because, much like Angelica Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton, I will never be satisfied. These carafes are such a bargain and look sexy as hell in the fridge. No more ugly cardboard and plastic containers! These ones have a half gallon capacity if that better suits your needs.
  10. I’ve probably already written about this, but I got a matching set of this hoodie and these joggers (when they were on sale, I’m not a millionaire) and I feel LUXE when I wear it. I wish I could afford to get them in every color. Ironically, the first day I wore my sweatsuit, I came across this article by one of my favorite writers, Amanda Mull. P.S. It’s probably only a matter of time before I get this to complete the look, since I’m the worst person I know.
  11. Hanukkah was last week, and while I am not Jewish and have basically zero right to care about this, I am also an obsessively festive holiday person, so I had a 2-person mini feast of “traditional” foods I’d never tried to make before. A friend of mine made me some vegetarian matzoh ball soup and hamentachen, and I made latkes, applesauce, challah, and tzimmes (without the plums, since my husband has a thing about fruit in savory foods). It was so delicious and I’m definitely writing this while I’m eating the leftovers. Taste-wise, the challah wasn’t as good as when I made it on Rosh Hashanah (if this behavior is what gets me cancelled, it will have been a good run), but I’ve gotten so much better at braiding. It was a sight to behold!

2020 Best Ornaments Round-Up

I had to! Each year I lean harder into my Crazy Christmas Lady identity and this year has been no exception. This is the first year I’ve really leaned into buying fun ornaments. In previous years, I’ve done simple trees with gold bulbs and a few sentimental ornaments, but now that I have my new white tree [similar here], I’m adding pops of color all over! What follows is a round-up of some of my favorite ornaments that I’ve seen online and in stores this year. I didn’t get around to including Joann’s, but apparently they have a huge selection.

  • Everything at Michael’s is wildly on sale all the time, so yesterday I made it out with easily over $100 worth of merchandise for $50. Their décor game is strong always, but here are a few of my favorite ornaments.

Stand Mixer / Retro Van / Avocado / Chinese Takeout / Ramen / Menorah / Candy Canes

  • I have long extolled the virtues of the Target Wondershop, and this year it really stepped up its game.

Lemon / Iced Coffee / Retro Deer / MetroCard / Dinosaur / Nutcracker / Pool Float / Butter / Martini / Retro Tree

  • Anthropologie is another reliable source for excellent ornaments.

Mushrooms / Caviar / Cosmo Cocktail

  • West Elm has a ton of cute stuff this year.

Monograms / Rainbow / Tassel

  • The selection at CB2 is small but doesn’t disappoint.

Cheetah Bulb / Cacti / Fortune Cookie / Marble Swirl Bulbs / Art Deco Bulbs

Personalized Gifts!

I am an absolute sucker for personalization. Monogramming? Yes, please! It’s such an easy and often, inexpensive, way to let the people in your life know that their gifts are just for them. Anyone else come from a huge regifting family? *raises hand aggressively*

I’m sure there’s some deep-seated psychological reason that I like personalized gifts (it could be the regifting thing I’ve just mentioned). I’ve always been kind of a private person, especially with my family (the primary purveyors of gifts), so it wasn’t until adulthood that I felt that gift-givers really *got* me, and even now, I mostly choose my own gifts, or buy them for my damn self (gif of Beyoncé in “Independent Woman Pt. 1”). Or, it could be that the Carrie necklace from Sex and the City imprinted on me at a young age. Either way, I think that intentional gifts, ones made just for the gift-giver, are so special, and can range from a homemade card to a monogrammed luxury bag. Below, I’ve included several across different price ranges that I’ve come across this season.

Under $25

  1. If you have a musician in your life, I can’t think of anything cuter than customized guitar picks.

Under $50

  1. These custom Simpsons portraits are SO COOL. There are a few shops that do them, at a range of price points, so it’s definitely worth shopping around.
  2. These Birth Month Flower necklaces are so gorgeous. And, I may be biased, but the August one is definitely the best, right?
  3. These personalized name rings are a perfect gift for anyone with children or pets. I have one with my cat’s name on it, because I guess I’m that person now, and it arrived in just over 2 weeks in beautiful packaging.
  4. This initial necklace is dainty, adorable, and once again, perfect for anyone with kids or pets. Or, if you’re me, you can buy one that spells out “ADHD.”
  5. I think the seller of this custom necklace intended for buyers to requests to have important names or dates engraved on them. But again, if you’re me, you currently have two in your Etsy cart, one with the names “George, Jerry, Elaine, and Kramer,” and one with “Frasier, Niles, Daphne, Roz.” They can’t legally prevent me from doing that.
  6. These custom Pisa necklaces from Baublebar are the best. I have one in the white multi-color (my name) and one in black/gold with my birth year. They take up to 9 letters or characters. They give me summer camp craft vibes!
  7. Speaking of arts and crafts, how cute are these beaded bracelets?

Under $100

  1. Did you know you can customize Converse? I did this once years ago and they were a big hit. They let you choose everything, from the eyelets to the stitching, and you can embroider text or designs onto them to make them totally one-of-a-kind.

Under $200

  1. The Medium Transport Tote is a classic leather bag, and Madewell offers free monogramming! And they have pouches and clutches to match, which you can also personalize!

Under $300

  1. If you have a fashionista in your life, but you’re (like me) a “practical gifts only” person, may I suggest the Louis Vuitton 6 Key Holder? You can customize it with different materials or colors, and hot-stamping is totally free, so you can monogram the gift for yourself or your loved one. PLUS, LV ships insanely fast (like, under 48 hours fast). Don’t ask me how I know that. I already had the Prada version of this key holder, which I somehow snagged secondhand in perfect condition for $40, so I can confirm that it’s an adorable and extremely useful way to organize your keys.
  2. I’m putting this one in the higher $$$ category just because of how wide the price range is, but you can get a Cameo from about half of the cast of The Office. You can also get one from Sean Gunn (Kirk from Gilmore Girls) and I literally can’t think of a more iconic gift. There are some people on there who truly seem way too famous to bother with this, but I’m not questioning it! Should I do something as unhinged as buy one from the Soup Nazi? Actually no. Scratch that. GEORGE WENDT IS ON THERE.
i cannot help but to extol the virtues of this nifty lil’ bud! why aren’t keyholders like this more commonplace?

Week Links [15 November]

Good morning, comrades! Another week on the books. I realize that this is likely not the case, but it is my sincerest hope that you got Veteran’s Day off to rest and recoup during what has been an exhausting and frankly, traumatizing month. And on that note, I feel like I make this point every year, but even though I am extremely anti-war and feel that the military should be dissolved and its disgustingly over-inflated budget redistributed to fund robust social programs that actually protect American lives, I am extremely pro-veterans and their rights/benefits. Two things can be true at once! Especially given the military’s predatory recruiting tactics and that, for many, military service is the least worst option, the very least they deserve is an annual holiday. *end soapbox*

Anyway, other than being mad as hell about political discourse, I have been staying the fuck home, because I live in a cold climate and I am not trying to get coronavirus! I’m disgusted by how unwilling my fellow, privileged, work-from-homers are to hunker down through winter to mitigate the spread. Can we all just get some soy eggnog and some fun Hanukkah or Christmas mugs and just stop being reckless? Cool! And yes, I do have both of those mugs because festivity is my coping mechanism.

I’ll shut up now! Here’s this week’s list of miscellany and ephemera. La la love you, don’t mean maybe.

  1. Can’t stop listening to this iconic song from 15 years ago! I love Tori Amos so much.
  2. Best modern Christmas album, sorry.
  3. Obsessed with this Etsy shop!! I also love this print shop, and have the Trade Daddy print (of course!) Madison also runs the amazing Instagram account @rulesofculture. She is doing the Lord’s work.
  4. There’s a Schitt’s Creek farewell special on Netflix called Best Wishes, Warmest Regards and I could not emotionally handle it. I may or may not have convulsed with sobs.
  5. Speaking of shows, I think I’m going to watch The Queen’s Gambit. I couldn’t be less interested in chess, but I’ve heard it’s incredible and quite horny.
  6. I haven’t made this cheesecake in a couple of years but it’s my favorite, favorite recipe.
  7. I snagged a past-season version of this Prada key holder on Poshmark for forty dollars and I am in love with it. Mine is blush pink and in perfect condition. I love that it has a slot for my ID, so I can travel light on trips to Starbucks or Target (or really, anywhere, since basically every store has Apple Pay at this point). If you’re patient, you can score really nice second-hand designer goods on Poshmark or TheRealReal…I tell myself that shopping this way is “sustainable” and not “a reckless waste of money.”
  8. I don’t know why it took my so long to buy replacement reeds for all of my oil diffusers, but I finally did. My favorite oil blends are from this Atlanta-based company (although they don’t seem to be selling them right now!), and these seasonal ones from the Target Hearth & Hand line. The little ceramic bottles are aesthetic af…I’ll probably keep reusing them long after the oil runs out. I am extremely particular about scents, so I tend to like things that closely mimic nature (pine, tobacco, etc). Vanilla makes me gag—great flavor, terrible candle scent.
  9. I finally found an ornament storage solution that has a decent capacity and doesn’t cost a million dollars. I bought 2, because I am planning to go so hard with my Christmas ornament collection over the years.
  10. I was fortunate enough to attend the Ifill Forum on Saturday (the fourth anniversary of Gwen Ifill’s passing) where Sherrilyn Ifill and Ava DuVernay spoke about the election and racial justice. Hearing Sherrilyn condemn the prison industrial complex and the way that history will remember this era had me in tears.
  11. I’d be remiss not to mention that we lost Alex Trebek last week. I’d known he was ill for a long time, but it still came as a shock. One of my biggest regrets is that I missed a taping of Jeopardy! in 2017 because I was…too hungover (I am an idiot!!!). I really thought I’d have another chance. My dad went to the taping on his own and now it’s one of his most cherished memories. Jeopardy! has been special to me for my entire life. Even as a toddler, I watched it with my dad—as I got older, I went from marveling that anyone could know the answers to being a fierce competitor. Alex Trebek was a brilliant man—effortlessly classy, a consummate host. He touched so many people’s lives, and I’m so grateful for the way he touched mine.