Fashion Friday: Nordstrom Steals & Deals

We’re always trying to come up with new fun topics to talk about with you guys, and today, we’re introducing a new series, Fashion Friday! Of course this concept is nothing new, but it’s new to us and we are v excited about it! Basically it’s a way for us to highlight a favorite store or brand that we’ve enjoyed as of late, and want to spread the good word to you fine folks.

For this inaugural post, we’re going to focus on one of the best department stores in the U.S. – Nordstrom! I always see great items when I go there (especially Nordstrom Rack), so here are just a few of the fantastic steals and deals you can buy online or in a store near you – you can even use this handy store locator to find one! ALSO did we mention the cafe? Because many locations have Nordstrom cafes. What’s better than finding the perfect clothes to dress like a woman and then grabbing some tacos as a reward? Nothing, really. Get a head start with our guide below!

Rebecca Taylor – Metallic Clip Midi Dress

Was: $595.00 Now: $356.98 40% off

TBH, I think I was drawn to this dress because it reminded me of the dress Alexis Bledel wore to the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life premiere. Yes, I realize I’m a crazypants for even remembering what she wore.

Want & Need – Strapless Lace Jumpsuit

Was $58.00 Now $20.30 65% Off

If there was a way to make jumpsuits that a) looked great on every body type and b) had an easier way to pee in them, I’d say jumpsuits should be a required item in everyone’s closet. This black halter jumpsuit it simple yet versatile, and can be perfectly paired with a white blazer.

Athena Alexander – ‘Layla’ Boot (Women)

Was: $109.95 Now: $59.90 45% off

I feel like Betty (Draper) Francis would wear these on the way to horseback riding lessons.

Topshop – Floral Velvet Dress

Was: $75.00 Now: $34.99 50% off

You can’t really tell, but this is velvet, which apparently is a think that’s made a comeback because ’90s. Tamagotchi not included.

Ivy Park – Mesh Panel Racerback Tank

Was $35.00 Now $16.97  52% Off

THIS IS BEYONCE’S ATHLEISURE LINE AND ON SALE GO BUY IT AND SUPPORT HER GROWING FAMILY

kate spade new york cameron street – byrdie leather crossbody bag

Was: $298.00 Now: $199.66 33% off


Kate Spade is always classy but stands out from the rest thanks to the frequent use of bright colors. This adorbs crossbody bag is no different. Perfect for a holiday in Miami or night out in New York.

Equipment – Leema Tie Neck Silk Blouse

Was: $238.00 Now: $95.20 60% off

I’m no Vogue editor, but pussy bows are totally in, right? If it’s good enough for the First Lady, it’s good enough for me.

BP. – Square Stud Earrings (Set of 2)

Was: $16.00 Now: $9.98 35% off

These are v New Year’s Eve party, no?

Adrianna Papell – Floral Matelass? Fit & Flare Dress (Regular & Petite)

Was $209.00 Now $31.35 85% Off

True story: my friend has this exact same dress and she wore it to a wedding last year and got so many compliments. It was comfortable, breathable and best part – POCKETS.

Topshop – Stripe Detail Scalloped Knit Top

Was: $75.00 Now: $34.99 50% off

Because you can never go wrong with black and white.

TOMS – Desert Lace-Up Wedge Bootie

Was $119.00 Now $59.50 50% Off

I went to Nordstrom Rack specifically to purchase classic Toms flats because of the great price, and they have a YUGE selection of not only classic flats but sandals, boots, slippers and as seen above, fashionable wedges.

Helene Berman – Studded Ears Wool Blend Cap

Was: $122.00 Now: $73.20 40% off
nordstrom

I can’t put my finger on it, but I feel like I’ve seen this hat before. (Update: yes I have).

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Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts 2015: Santa’s Got A Brand New Douchebag

Haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet? Have an unreasonably large budget, no time to arrange a gift yourself, and a total d-bag on your shopping list? Yeah, me either, thank goodness. But for the second year in a row, we DO at least have the Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts to remind us that we’re better off than the people who do have those things — plus some low-budget alternatives for the rest of us.

A Motorcycle Day With Keanu Reeves and Keanu Reeves’ Friend Gard

Cost: $150,000.00

Arch Motorcyle and Ride Experience with Keanu Reeves and Gard Hollinger

First, go to breakfast with Keanu Reeves and Keanu Reeves’ friend Gard – which I’d be into, I mean I’d hit up a good brunch with John Wilkes Booth and Justin Bieber if promised bottomless mimosas. Then go on a motorcycle ride, then go to a cafe. Then take a friend to dinner and ditch Keanu. Or don’t: the man has been through a lot and I hear he’s one of the nicest celebrities. The next day, ride through a forest with Keanu like you’ve just watched the Matrix trilogy before bed and now you’re living in a weird dream. By the way, the 150K price tag does include the motorcycle.

Alternative: A set of Matrix DVDs (like $20 if Target’s running a sale); a moped rental; brunch with your most chill friend.

Couture Diary

Cost: $10,000.00

Couture Diary

I’m assuming if you’re buying this, you have the kind of friends who own a lot of couture, so good on you. All right, so the book part of this gift just seems unnecessarily complex:

  • Scandinavian calfskin cover is vegetable tanned in Scotland exclusively for bookbinding
  • All tooling is executed by hand in 24-karat gold at the Vogel Bindery in East Hampton, New York
  • Diary sheets are engraved on premium stock paper with hand-colored borders from The Printery in Oyster Bay, New York

Anyway, then someone draws 20 of your outfits on the Scandinavian cow, Scottish vegetable, Gatsby gold, Oyster paper that lives in the house that Jack built.

Alternative: Paper dolls, maybe? But couture ones.

Some Really Old Questionable Whiskey

Cost: $125,000.00

The Orphan Barrel Project

The Orphan Barrel Project, which sounds like a cool Orphan Black offshoot but isn’t, collects barrels of old whiskey from abandoned places then sells them to rich people. On this trip to Lexington, Kentucky, you hunt through an old distillery for booze like a troubled teen breaking and entering for the first time. Then you get a whiskey cabinet, some glassware, and a bunch of old liquor that I hope a health department has vetted.

Alternative: Go to your liquor cabinet, or better yet, your parents’. What’s the oldest bottle there, the one that you can’t quite remember buying? Okay, give that to a friend.

A 12-Day Journey Through The Nicest Parts Of India

Cost: $400,000.00

Agra

No shade, this sounds amazing and includes a surprising number of rides in private rickshaws, not like those gross crowded public rickshaws the poors take on their vacations to India. I’m most intrigued by kite-flying at a palace, which seems like the Neiman Marcus folks are just throwing together random wonderful things.

Alternative: A cassette tape of that one Alanis song about “thank you India” or whatever.

Going Almost To Space

Cost: $90,000.00

World View Profile

In high school, my brother and I had a coworker who went to Space Camp. My brother knew that she didn’t actually go to space, but wondered aloud whether she “maybe went up in a really high plane or something.” This is basically that: floating at 100,000 feet above Earth for a few hours. If any of you are very rich, I’d like this, please.

Alternative: A telescope; a reminder that we are but specks in a vast, unknowable, and ever-expanding universe; a Carl Sagan book.

An Art Tour Of Italy With A Jewelry Maker

Cost: $150,000.00

Italy Tour with Ippolita & Artemest Craftsmen

This trip includes more arts and crafts projects than you’d think, including playing with clay and “secret paper techniques” (which I imagine ends in you creating the world’s classiest cootie catcher). You have to go to the same glass-blowing “fornace” two days in a row, though.

Alternative: A gift card to JoAnn fabrics. Come at me if you want, I love me some JoAnn fabrics and the folksy suburban ladies I always talk to at the fabric counter.

A Trunk Full Of Iris Apfel’s Stuff

Cost: $80,000.00

Price includes a fancy trunk filled with jewelry and accessories, as well as lunch and a styling session with Iris herself.

Alternative: A copy of Iris, the Iris Apfel documentary that’s on Netflix. It’s life-affirming AF.

A Neiman Marcus Mustang

Cost: $95,000.00

Neiman Marcus Mustang

I’ve become jaded by this point, because my reaction to that price tag was “wow, only $95K?” I’d make the most darling rich person. You also get to go to racing school! Manual transmission only, soz.

Alternative: A day at the go-kart track! Everyone loves go-karts, right? Whee!!

Three Guitars

Cost: $30,000 each

Texas Trio Guitars

Steve Miller, Lyell Lovett, and Billy Gibbons all designed guitars. For a cool 30K you get one of them – not all three -as well as a backstage visit with the musician who designed it.

Alternative: Legit, you can find a guitar for like $30 on Craigslist, and something tells me it’s not too difficult to get backstage for any of these fellows if you really wanted to.

A Casket Full Of Gender Norms

Cost: $5,000

Mackenzie-Childs Trunk - Ultimate Children's Costumes

No, okay, what it really is is a custom-painted trunk for a “girl” (pink trunk, four different princess dresses) or a “boy” (primary-colored trunk, superhero costumes). It’s like those McDonald’s Barbie and Hot Wheels toys for the very rich (Stuff 90s Kids Remember: being asked if you want a “boy toy” or a “girl toy” instead of a doll or a car). If you know a girl who is into princesses, or a boy who likes Iron Man, and you have 5K to burn, this seems okay … but I still think this is some kind of bullshit.

Alternative: Dress-up clothes – one of my favorite gifts for the kids in my family! But you don’t have to be so rigid about it.

 

What To Buy: A Baby You Know

Welcome to What To Buy, a semi-recurring holiday gift guide feature I’m doing since I’m looking all of this stuff up anyway. It feels like all year I think of gifts that would be perfect for people, only to panic and scramble for gifts once November and December roll around. This year, I’m sharing my thoughts for anyone else in the same boat. Julie Andrews always told us to start at the very beginning, so that’s what we’re going to do … with gifts for babies, who are the beginning of people.

Something you probably know about me: I know a lot of babies. I don’t actually have one, which is great. There are a lot of people that I like hanging out with but I wouldn’t particularly want to be roommates with them, and babies fall into that category. But I think they’re really fun once they get a personality on them, and they’re some of the easiest people to buy for because they’re happy with an empty box. For gift giving purposes, we’re calling babies anything from brand new to age two or so, when they start to fall into the kid category.

For The Baby Who Loves 90s Hip Hop And Has Dreams

I Wish I Was A Little Bit Taller or I Wish I Was A Baller shirt from tribeisalive

 

 

https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xat1/v/t1.0-9/12234915_10153702067691322_5344731840240534045_n.jpg?oh=ffb850478d6d06c2888c36b59ba30187&oe=56EA71F7

This is my niece, Lulu. I’m obviously biased but I think she’s as cute as a bug  – and at 17 months, she’s also about as big as one. She probably does wish she was a little bit taller but you can’t blame an auntie for wanting her to stay this size forever. Also comes in I Wish I Was A Baller, and is available in onesies or – why not – adult sizes. Lu has a great Jump Up Jump Up And Get Down shirt from the same site, but it seems to be no longer in stock.  $23, tribeisalive.com

[Because you didn’t ask, my personal criteria for “clever” baby t-shirts and onesies: nothing that references the father’s fertility or the fact that babies poop and pee. Why are those so popular?]

For A Baby Who Is Cold

Knitted hat that makes them look like something other than a baby

Baby it’s cold outside … is NOT a song you should sing to a baby. Creepy song, that. But it’s also a fact of life this time of year. One of the great things about babies is you can make them wear ridiculous things and they don’t know, like the adorable hats from Melondipity. These cute knitted caps are also a good way to circumvent that whole issue of not being able to find cute boy or neutral baby clothes. $19.99, melondipity.com.

For A Baby Who Likes Taking Things Out Of Containers And Putting Things Back In Again

Autumn Acorn Color Sorting Bowls

Autumn Acorn Color Sorting Bowls //  Wooden Bowls & Acorns // Wooden Educational Toy // Montessori // Waldorf

I know that sounds like a really specific type of baby, but if you also know a lot of babies you know what I’m talking about. I try to avoid anything that is probably full of lead paint and parabens, and if I were shopping for a sort-crazy baby this year something like this wooden set is just what I would go with. And since adults are the ones stuck with baby stuff strewn about their house, the bonus is that wooden sets like this are a lot less loud and ugly looking. $29.00, Simple Gift Toys on Etsy.

For The Baby Who’s Working On That Walking Thing

Plan Toys Push Toy

PlanToys® Push Toy Storage Capacity

During that wobbly stage, toddlers are so much happier to walk when they’re pushing something. This van is adorable and leaves storage space for kids to take a stuffed animal or two along for the ride. It’s also non-babyish enough that I could see it getting worked into pretend play into the early childhood years. $60.99, target.com.

For The Baby With A Crafty Gift-Giver And A Blank Bedroom Wall

DIY Name Sign

Not at all sorry for bombarding you with my Lu. My sister-in-law made this for her own baby’s room, but it would be a great gift, too. Use scrapbook paper and mod-podge to cover wooden letters, available at most craft stores, and accent with flowers or balloons, also in the scrapbook section. It’s a thoughtful, fun gift that will ensure that the baby you know never forgets who they are (as soon as they learn how to read.) $10 – 30 for supplies, JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels.

 

For The Baby Who’s Growing Teeth In Its Mouth

Josephine Mouse

Chances are, the baby you know already has a Sophie the Giraffe – but do they have Sophie’s friend Josephine yet? A few parents have raised choking concerns about Sophie’s long neck, although looking at the toy and the babies I know, it just doesn’t seem possible. But if you’re concerned, you might like the mouse’s rounder shape. $16.10, Target.com.

For The Baby Who Still Has A Lot Of Growing To Do

Set Of 30 Milestone Baby Cards

Milestone cards

It can be hard to document all of a baby’s firsts. If you know parents who aren’t painstakingly writing every moment in a baby book, they probably still have time to bust out the camera phone when baby does something new. These milestone cards provide a space to put the date the baby hit those big milestones, like smiling and saying mama. Parents can just write the date on the card, prop the card up next to the baby, and snap a photo. Instant, easy baby book. $24.59 for a set of 30, NotOnTheHighStreet.com.

For The Baby Who’s Sleepy

Constellation projecting turtle light

 

 

The soft light from this projector will create a peaceful glow in the baby’s room … and make parents 50% less likely to stub their toes walking into a dark room in the middle of the night. Win-win. $34.95, hammacher.com.

For The Musical Baby

Baby Instruments

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Instruments aren’t just great for a baby’s burgeoning musical abilities, they also help teach cause and effect. Pro tip: go for the non-electric ones that are baby, rather than battery, powered. The parents will thank you. $19.93, thejunglestore.com.

For The Baby Who Likes A Good Story

Baby Lit books

Pride & Prejudice

I have bought these for so many babies, and they always get a great response. No baby is too young to get drawn into the Bingley v. Wickham v. Darcy debate. Other titles include Sherlock, Wuthering Heights, Moby-Dick, and many more. If you’re a lit nerd trying to get your favorite babies on board – guilty! – these are just the ticket. $9.99, babylit.com.

 

Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts: Santa’s Got A Brand New Douchebag

There is one joy that money can never buy: the pure delight of making fun of rich people. And there is no better time to mock the wealthy than Christmas – turning the season of giving into the season of taking (the mickey). When the affluent want to give an elaborate gift, but don’t want to actually arrange the present themselves, they turn to the year’s Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts. But let nothing you dismay – we have low-budget alternatives to all of them.

Tanqueray No. Ten Imperial Shaker

Cost: $35,000.00

No, it’s not an amusement park swing ride for 7-up bottles. I thought so, too. It’s a Tanqueray shaker, complete with a year’s supply of Tanqueray and a mixology class. So, essentially a Rube Goldberg invention that turns a rich asshole into a rich, drunk asshole.

Alternative: A case of Crystal Palace gin ($100.00, your local college-adjacent liquor store), a shaker ($20.00, eBay), The Joy of Mixology ($20.00, Target)

Vanity Fair Academy Awards Experience

Cost: $425,000.00

This is like famous person fantasy camp. It includes two nights at the Beverly Hills Hotel, dinner at the Chateau Marmont (Lindsay Lohan optional?), pampering (such a gross word), a dress and some borrowed jewelry and getting your hair did, access to the Vanity Fair party, and a crushing, sobering return to reality the next day.

Alternative: a Groupon for a local spa, a gift card to some sort of place that sells dresses, and your personal stash of back issues of US Weekly.

The House Of Creed Bespoke Fragrance Journey

Cost: $475,000.00

Whenever someone starts describing something as a “journey,” I tune out. You can say that you’re losing weight, but tell me that you’re “on a weight loss journey” and I’ll picture you with a compass and maybe a Saint Bernard, getting Sacajawea’ed through a Planet Fitness. So, what’s a “fragrance journey?” It’s a straight-up trip to Paris, with three nights in a five-star hotel, meals, a jaunt to the countryside, and a consult with a perfumier to make your “signature scent.”

Alternative: some essential oils (Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s/ any decent grocery store), a glass bottle (basically wherever).

100th Anniversary Neiman Marcus Limited-Edition Maserati Ghibli S Q4

Cost: $95,000.00

The copy for this gift reads like a how-to guide for being an insufferable douche. For instance: “Pulling out onto the road, you notice surrounding cars slow as you cruise down the street. Ubiquitous German luxury sedans become mere traffic in your presence—catching a glimpse of a Maserati is still a treat.” And also: “swiveled heads and open mouths accompany your arrival. Was it the aria emanating from the Bowers & Wilkins stereo or the symphony coming from the tailpipe that created the audience? Either way, one thing is certain: Everyone loves an Italian accent.”

The person who finds that braggadocio appealing is also, frankly, the last person I’d want to buy a gift for.

Alternative: A lump of coal. Do they make Italian coal? Then that.

Custom Locket and Trip with Monica Rich Kosann

Cost: $100,000.00

First, you go to Germany (airfare not included). Then, “you’ll join forces with jewelry designer and photographer Monica Rich Kosann at the workshop of Constantin Wild (whose family has been in the gem business since 1847) on a quest to find—and design—the perfect locket. Together you’ll select a stone and collaborate on your creation. The final version, and a hand-painted rendering of your piece, will then make the journey to your home soon after. In the meantime, you are welcome to visit Kosann in New York City, where she’ll photograph you and your family for the very portrait that will be kept and prized in your locket.”

This gift combines my least-favorite things: group work and appearing in photographs. Also, what’s the point of a locket unless your long-lost relative has the other half of it somewhere? Does Neiman Marcus sell that?

Alternative: One of those lockets where you put in the stuff you want and it floats around like a necklace-snowglobe. Starting at like 30 bucks. Google “make your own locket.” You’re welcome.

Ultimate Mardi Gras Experience for Six Couples

Cost: $125,000.00

Who the heck knows SIX couples? That they’d want to travel with?

Alternative: some beads (Party City, $2.00), some booze (however much you think it will take), some regret (the next day, free).

His & Hers Vilebrequin Quadski

Cost: $50,000.00 (each)

I’m a little confused here. These are billed as a “his and hers gift,” which is sort of unnecessarily heteronormative. I mean, if stereotypes are to be believed, lesbians love outdoor adventures. Although the Very Straight Man pictured seems pretty into it too. But the catch is, the quadskis are 50K each. Do you have to buy two of them, then? What if you know a single person who would like to traverse land and sea on his very own prat-mobile? WHAT THEN?

Alternative: a pool float, an ATV from Craigslist.

The Slot Mods USA Ultimate Slot Car Raceway

Cost: $300,000.00

It’s a scale model of a racetrack. And it costs more than most houses.

Alternative: A train set.

Preston Bailey Peacock Floral Sculptures

Cost: $25,000-$65,000

Do you have more money than you know what to do with, and an affinity for Edward Scissorhands? Here ya go, it’s a topiary that looks like a peacock.

Alternative: An Edible Arrangement. It’s also a plant cut into the shape of another thing, but you can eat it.

Leontine Linens Home Trousseau

Cost: $55,000.00

  The Neiman Marcus copy reads: “Most are perfectly content to live with lovely store-bought linens. But for those who envision slumbering among the finest custom cottons and dressing their tables with signature flair, the Leontine Linens Home Trousseau is a dream come true.”

Are you one of those garbage people who uses blankets from a store? Why not just cover yourself with day-old newspaper and a used pizza box, you living trash heap? Included in this gift are a series of phone interviews to determine what kind of linens you need. So not only do you have to pay $55,000.00, you have to talk on the phone. Also, you know what you could buy for 55K instead of a “home trousseau?” A home. A solid down payment on one, anyway.

Alternative: some sheets and blanket from a store. I just got a new blanket from Target. It was on sale. 17 bucks; warm as hell.

It’s 11.11, Single People, Make A Wish

I work for a British-based company, which means we don’t get a lot of American holidays off. Basically if there’s any sort of Columbus Day or Martin Luther King Jr. Day type day, I only am alerted to it when I see Macy’s commercials boasting special three-day sales. So I guess a happy Veterans Day and giant thank you to all who have and are serving for our country.

But did you guys know there’s another holiday today and it’s been a huge deal in China? It’s called Singles Day and it’s basically anti-Valentine’s Day meets Cyber Monday. For all those who believe V-Day is a holiday made up by card companies to sell millions of greeting cards this year – you’ll be interested in Singles Day.

Singles Day, or Guanggun Jie in Chinese, was founded by a group of college kids in 1993, inspired by the imagery of “11.11”, since guanggun translates to “lone stick”.  It started off as a “Bachelors Day”, but the day of being single and partying with other single friends spread to females as well. But in 2009,  Alibaba, a huge Chinese e-commerce company that owns sites like their own version of eBay, were all like, ‘Hey, let’s start marketing  to these sad single people on Singles Day and push them to splurge on one-day sales’. In other words:

Over the past few years, Singles Day has grown into a billion dollar sales day, becoming the world’s biggest online shopping event – last year the day brought in $5.8 billion worth of items, which is almost $2 billion more than the year before. In comparison, us ‘Murricans spent $1.7 billion on Cyber Monday in 2013. This is what happens when we (don’t) spend money on other people.

Besides the fact that Singles Day is one of the best marketing ideas I’ve heard in some time, it’s particularly big in China because of some demographic factors, including the country’s one-child per family policy, which means there are a shit ton of single men in China right now, ladies.

So it would only make sense to celebrate Singles Day here in America, right? There are already a ton of people every year who are against Valentine’s Day (Anna Howard Shaw Day, anyone?), not to mention the fact that about half the adult population in the U.S. (that’s about 124 million folks) are single, which honestly makes me feel a little bit better about my life, but not by that much. Combine that with young people who are looking for excuses to shop online AND at discounted prices, you’ve got yourself a new Cyber Monday. Here’s hoping Singles Day makes its way to the U.S. soon, because these are just some of the possible items that would sell out immediately:

  • Personalized flask
  • Wine of the Month
  • Anything to do with alcohol
  • A comfy onesie
  • Gourmet chocolate
  • A body pillow with Chris Evans on it

  • A year subscription to Match/eHarmony/ChristianMingle
  • A Keurig
  • Gift certificate to a spa
  • A Batman suit
  • A box of meats from Omaha Steaks
  • This poster:

*Update: after I wrote this post, turns out Alibaba announced they hit an astonishing $2 billion in gross sales within the FIRST HOUR of Singles Day.

The Cool Aunt’s Guide To Holiday Toy Shopping

Whether you’re a real aunt, an honorary aunt, a godmother, or a lady who for some reason buys gifts for children who aren’t her own, you understand the desire to be the cool aunt.  Now, I’ve never been the cool anything, but I am my nephews’ and niece*’s youngest, most childless aunt – so I do know a thing or two.

Of course, this guide isn’t just for cool aunts — it’s also for fun uncles, awesome parents, great grandparents, and good great-grandparents. These gifts are sure to cement your cool relative status.  Best of all, most of these items are kid-powered, and there’s not a licensed character in sight! That should help cement your cool status with the kids’ parents, too.

[Click on the pictures to go to a place that sells the gift, but be aware that most of these are available from multiple vendors, so you may want to hit up Google to do some price comparisons.]

Buddy Bounce Ball

This fits ages 6 and up… which I assume includes adults? Because I kind of want this. I also know that this would have devolved into an instrument of sibling torture when I was a kid but you know… not my kids, not my problem. Warning: reviews are only so-so, I just think it looks cool.

Spiro Bouncer

If you have a family with at least two tots, this looks like a great bet – and a good way to get kids moving when they’re stuck inside. Check out the Spiro Hop for bigger kids.

Wonder Loom

I’m not sure what the deal is with this but kids are kind of obsessed with it lately? Also, it seems less horrible than a lot of toys out there. For a throwback toy that uses a similar skill set, why not get them one of those potholder sets with those fabric loops? My 6-year-old nephew got one a few months back and he loves it.

illuStory

This is so perfect for the creative kiddo in your life. They can write and illustrate their own books, then they get a hardcover copy of it. Kids can make their book on paper or online, and there are even instructions and story web planners, in case the child is one of those people for whom story webs actually work, I guess?

Puppets and Puppet Theater

This gift encourages creative play, plus is just really cool. There are tons of different setups out there, so search around. I love that this is a gift you could buy for a preschooler, but they could still play with it when they’re in fourth grade.

Crafty Auntie: They sell fabric puppet theaters that hang from a tension rod in a door frame, which is really useful if space is at a premium. If you have solid DIY capabilities, you could definitely make one of those yourself!

Your Favorite Children’s Book (On CD, optional)

I could do a whole post on children’s literature (heck, I could do a whole blog on children’s literature), but a safe bet is often to get a kid whatever book was your absolute favorite at their age. If there’s a long car trip in their future (like, maybe to visit you?), you could consider getting a book on CD, or whatever the modern version of that probably is.

Zip Line

Sure, in a lot of climates your  favorite kiddo would have to wait a few months to use this, but in my estimation, your very own zip line is the very definition of “worth the wait.”

I’m sure there are specs for the kind of space you need to put this in, and you’ll want to have it installed by somebody who you trust with the well-being of your niece or nephew’s spinal cord.

Band Set

However annoying this gift may sound to the kids’ parents, it’s a lot less annoying than an electronic toy that has a bunch of beeps and plays the same song over and over. I love music sets for toddlers and preschoolers, because they get a kick out of them while developing some pretty important skills, like how to keep rhythm during a song so they’re not that one guy at a concert who can’t clap in time.

Crafty Auntie: A lot of these instruments are sold at the dollar store, believe it or not. The quality is questionable, but I know 3-year-olds to ruin even the best-made toys, so really every gift is a crap shoot. You could round up a bunch of these yourself and present it in a nice basket or a plastic carrying case with a handle.

Foam Bungee Jumper

This is like a more balance-friendly version of a pogo stick. I’m all for getting gifts that allow kids to be active inside, since many kids will be inside for the next 4 months or so. This foam jumper supports up to 250 pounds, so maybe you’ll get to take a turn on it, too!

A Super-Special Aunt-Kid Outing

You know the kid, so you make the call. Maybe there’s a good children’s theater nearby, or a science museum, or a professional sports team. This can make a more memorable gift than a toy that they’ll break or lose.

Fort Kit

Didn’t you love making forts in the living room when you were a kid? Now you can share the magic! I suggest searching on etsy if you want to buy one. There are some really cute options out there!

Crafty Auntie: The photo above links to a sewing tutorial. It’s not too complex, but you can make it even simpler. Buy a drawstring bag or backpack, and include a few sheets, clothespins, and clothes line inside. It’s sure to be a hit!

Archery Set

I’m usually not one to buy weapons for small children, but Katniss Everdeen makes it look so FUN! Obviously, scale the level of intensity to the child’s age. I love this one for little kids – it’s super safe and it seems to have something to do with math? Which is nice.

Black Apple Doll

There’s a reason that dolls have been a classic gift since the first person realized that you could make a tiny effigy of a person, give it to a  child, and somehow not be creepy. I love these Black Apple dolls. You can buy them on etsy, but they are SO easy to make.

Crafty Auntie: Click the photo to go to the templates – although, you can probably just freehand. A big plus is that you can make the dolls look however you want. My niece is Puerto Rican, and I try to hold off on the little blonde girl dolls as much as possible (until they make a Leslie Knope or Tami Taylor doll). I made a few of these for little Miss M. a couple years ago, and they were so cute that I wanted to keep a little effigy for myself.

Rory’s Story Cubes

Great for kids or adults! Roll the cubes, and tell a story joining all nine pictures. It’s a “non-competitive” game but I’m sure you can find a way to make somebody the winner if you’re not a “non-competitive” family.

Mustaches and Tattoos

Hand to God: fake mustaches and temporary tats are a hit with children. If your little angel is more of a little Hell’s Angel, give this gift a try.

Roominate

THIS IS SO COOL. Kids can build and design their own miniature rooms, including furniture. I loved my dollhouse as a kid, but mostly for the interior design aspect. Those little people were like an upwardly-mobile suburban couple, always renovating their kitchen or redecorating their living room. Roominate just cuts to the chase and goes straight to the building and decorating, although of course some little dolls could live in here when it’s done.

A Puppy!

No OH MY GOSH do not actually give a puppy as a gift. Don’t do this. It’s not a good idea. But seriously… look at these freakin’ puppies, though.

* In the interest of full disclosure, I have five (soon six!) nephews and one niece. I know. Just call me Aunt Molly Weasley. But I still think I’m qualified to talk about girl gifts because I … you know, was one and stuff. The kiddos range in age from almost 3 to almost 7.

Pretty Like It’s 1999: Late 90s Tween Fashions — And Their 2013 Adult Equivalents

Are you a lady in your mid- to late- twenties? If so, congratulations! You were also a tween or young teen in the late ‘90s and early 2000s! Half your life ago you were part of a tween cohort in its golden age. The society that produced the Lost Generation may have been the perfect environment for budding artists and poets, but the tween renaissance of 1997-ish was a cultural tempest, too. There were just more sparkles, is all, and instead of Ernest Hemingway, it produced Lalaine and Aaron Carter. Here are some of the greatest fashion staples of that magnificent era– and a modern adult equivalent that you could actually get away with wearing today.

glitter eyes

1999 tween style: Body glitter. Like so many wholesome children’s and teen’s fashions of the late ‘90s, this was borne of rave culture. But you don’t need to be on ecstasy to enjoy a little sparkle! Body glitter was popular with tweens because it was like makeup for people whose parents wouldn’t let them wear makeup yet. I used to roll glitter across my cheekbones and sweep it over my eyelids, I guess so that people would look at my face more. If you read YM  or Seventeen, you might have learned to apply glitter to your collarbone, to draw the eye to where you hoped your cleavage would eventually come in.

Gold Leaf Eye Makeup

2013 adult style: Metallic eyeshadow. Like roll-on body glitter, this is a fun and glitzy look. Unlike roll-on body glitter, if done properly it will not make you look like you store hallucinogenic drugs in your pacifier necklace. I like the heavy gold-leaf look, but let’s be serious, I cannot figure out how to do it myself. Best to take your advice from YouTube makeup gurus.

Maddy's jeans - front leg

1999 tween style: Embroidered jeans. When I bought these (from Limited Too, naturally), my aunt told me that I should save them because my kids would get a kick out of them someday. Even at 13 I took this as a not-so-subtle suggestion that I looked completely ridiculous.

green pants

2013 adult style: Colored jeans and cords. Listen, I love my colored jeans. I think they’re great. But I also acknowledge that while bright pants can add interest to an outfit, I’ll eventually feel like they looked really stupid. Luckily, I still have plenty of older relatives who will remind me to save my magenta skinny jeans for posterity.

Example of baggy "JNCOs"

1999 tween style: Enormous JNCOs. These were probably your pants of choice if you were really into Korn and Marilyn Manson, or at least were not terrified of them like I was. These were a unisex style: I had a huge crush on a boy in my tween acting/improv classes who wore JNCOs and had a mushroom cut, which is the hairstyle that all of the cute boys voted to adopt by secret ballot in 1995. I never would have worn JNCOs myself, but they probably were really useful because they had pockets, and also if a friend’s pants ripped or were lost, they could climb in one leg and you could climb in the other, and you could share.

j brand cargo pants+cargos

2013 adult style: Skinny cargo pants. With giant pockets and a slim fit, these pants are entirely useless (except in that they cover the fact that you’re naked under your clothes). Like JNCOs, I do not wear these — not because I’m afraid of Marilyn Manson this time, but because an enormous pocket bulging from the hip area is not awesome on me. If you don’t mind adding a couple inches to your legs, width-wise, these are actually pretty cute though.

Sixteen.

1999 tween style: Butterfly clips. These were the best. You would twist back rows of hair from your face, creating a butterfly meadow on the top of your head – the effect was a little more special than a headband and just barely less special than a freakin’ tiara. Of course, you would coordinate your butterfly clips with your outfit, and they were usually a little bit glittery. Theoretically, you could use even more butterfly clips to secure a bun into a fancy updo, if you were into that sort of thing or if you had a mom who did your hair.

Woodland crown-boho headpiece

2013 adult style: Fun hair accessories that don’t look like insects. I wish that I could be more specific, but the fact is, there are a lot of great hair accessories on the market right now. If you were a butterfly clip afficianado because you found it to be a fun and feminine style, you might like a hair flower,[1] especially if your hair is long and wavy. If you admired butterfly clips for their sheer functionality in getting hair out of your face, headbands have been back in for several years and are, in my experience, less painful and less poofy than they used to be.  You can even find them in semi-fascinator styles, thanks I’m sure to Beatrice and Eugenie. If you were one of those girls who created over the top, eye catching styles with your butterfly clips, try a headwrap like this or, because you’re probably pretty good with accessories, a turban. You probably won’t screw it up the way those of us who could barely manage a butterfly-headband would.

1. But if you have a baby, or know some babies socially, please rethink the obligatory baby girl giant head-flower thing. I was a super-bald baby and my mom used to try to make me wear those baby head garters that they sold in the 80s, and I ripped it off every time. I like to think this is because I developed an early sense of when things look absolutely damn foolish.  BACK TO POST

SkyMall savvy: The best (read: worst) of high-flying shopping

One of (if not the best) parts about flying is getting to your seat and seeing a brand new issue of SkyMall in front of you. An excellent way to waste time before you can used your approved electronic devices, the most eccentric shopping catalog in the world always is a good source of entertainment. SkyMall is known for its … unique items, so here are just a few that caught my eye the last time I was on a plane.

PS: A fun game to play is ‘guess how much this item costs’, and then be severely disappointed and astonished anyone would pay that much money for a ridiculous item.

Upright Sleeper

 “Sleep like a baby while sitting up. Innovative invention lets you sleep where you are.”

But who is actually going to have the balls to pull this out and sleep with it on the plane? 

One of a Kind Shirt

“A One Of A Kind shirt allows you to show that you’re an individual, that you’re a little different than everyone else and you want them to take notice of who you are. These shirts are great for a night on the town, frat parties, bachelor parties, stag parties or any other time you want to stand out in a crowd… Because these shirts are a piece of art, the color and pattern is not revealed until the package is opened.”

Oh people will most definitely notice you when you’re out at a party with this gem. I mean, look how happy this guy is just wearing it.

Armadillo Beverage Holder

“Our rough-n-ready armadillo, Tex, is a sure-fire conversation piece from his textured armor to his whiplash tail.”

Ross would be proud.

Flair Hair Visor

“For instant smiles, wear a shady visor with a built-in ‘doo. It’s a laugh a minute with this spiked hair hat! What a great hair-raising idea! The Flair Hair Visor will give everyone a good laugh with its realistic spikes. They won’t be able to help themselves.”

Bob over here from XYZ Technologies can’t wait to hit the links with his colleagues in this number.

Spirit of Nottingham Wood

“In the woods near the artist’s Nottingham home, old men still tell tales peppered with fairies and tree people coming to life.”

Gather round, kids. This tree’s going to tell us a story of yore. Or scare the living hell out of you.

Bigfoot Garden Yeti Sculpture

“Ever wonder where those strange noises in your garden come from?… With his characteristically big feet, our more than two-foot-tall Garden Yeti Statue will have guests doing a double-take as they admire your creative decor style!”

WHY. JUST, WHY?

King Tut CD-Rom Cabinet

“What looks like the sealed ancient Egyptian Sarcophagus of the beloved King Tut is actually a CD-ROM Cabinet that holds up to 56 CD’s on four shelves.”

Ah yes, things that are still relevant: King Tut and CD-Roms. Also, sarcophagus.

BONUS:

What item is SkyMall trying to sell here:

A) Skull Brimmed Hat

B) Sunglasses from Snoop Dogg’s collection in 1996

C) A gold chain made out of what looks like old Italian lira coins

D) A white mannequin with identity issues

(If you guessed A, you’re correct. Or the secret answer, All of The Above, is acceptable as well)

Items I’ve purchased while attempting to get milk at Target

We’ve all been there. Target is the black hole of shopping. But it’s also like, the best place ever. Here’s an actual list of various items I’ve purchased with the intention of going into Targ to get mundane items like milk, bread, shampoo, etc. It’s a black hole, I tell you.


Tribal Flats (my fave shoes as of late)

Mint Satchel (my fave purse as of late)

Stick on nail polish strips “Tri-bal It On” (huh?)

Veronica Mars: Season 2 (Quick story: the tag said it was $9.99, but it rang up as $19.99. I told the cashier of the price difference, and we both walked all the way to the electronics department to double check the tag, and I mistakenly read the price for Season 1 – which I already have – and he said, ‘Eh, it’s ok. You can have it for $9.99’)

Limited edition peppermint Chapstick

Pens

I almost took a picture of my pens, but I mean, you know what pens look like.

In short, just don’t ever go into the clothing/accessories/entertainment section. Just head straight to dairy.