Pretty Links


Your 2016 Guide for Gifts That Give Back {For Women} is amazing! Seriously, go covet every pick in good conscious. I LOVE The Good Trade.



I’ve been giving myself a pep talk to craft some Christmas tree ornaments with the kids this year. Landee See Landee Do has a good round-up, including those Pom Pom Pinecones via One Little Project.



I read a brief description of each of the 2016 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and wow, they are an inspiring bevy. Recipients included Elouise Cobell, Ellen DeGeneres, Diana Ross, Maya Lin, Bruce Springsteen, Margaret Hamilton, Robert Redford, Frank Gehry and 13 more! They all share at least two common traits: passion and determination. (image of Maya Lin and President Barack Obama via Cosmopolitan)






Gifts Parents Wish Their Kids Would Get

I’m not the grandparents’ ideal when it comes to gift-giving. If you ask me what the kids would like, I will give very specific suggestions and beg you not to deviate from the list. I don’t like to “help” my kids manage a lot of things. But kids who seem to have everything can be hard to buy for, too. These gift ideas work well for both minimalist and maximalist households, and I’m willing to bet that both the kid and the parents will thank you for them. I broke them into three categories of giving: an experience, a consumable, and a charity.

Give an experience.


Attend a concert, play, sporting event, movie or festival together. Or, give many experiences with a membership to a favorite museum or recreation center. If you want the kid to be excited to unwrap it, attach it to a related book. For example, Frog and Toad books with tickets to go see the play!

We’ve enjoyed a gift card to Children’s Theatre Company and a gifted membership to the Minnesota Children’s Museum. Other Twin Cites membership options include the Science Museum of Minnesota (image of Earth), The Works Museum, and the Minnesota Zoo. I’m planning on getting my family an America the Beautiful Pass (image of Itaska Natural Area in Minnesota), which covers the entrance fee for the passholder’s car and the passengers in it to nearly all the national parks for one year.


Give something consumable & useful.


Art supplies like Eco Crafts, bath supplies like Honest Co. bubble bath, and useful trinkets kids love, like EOS lip balm are a lot of fun, but don’t create much waste or require long-term care.


Give to a relatable charity.


Choose an elephant or rhino by name to foster through Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and every month they’ll send updates on your animal plus collectible watercolor prints.

Buy a soccer ball from One World Play Project, and they’ll donate a ball to a disadvantaged community. The balls don’t deflate, so it’s no maintenance for the recipients.

Bring the kid grocery shopping, and let them pick out food to donate to Feeding America or a local food or shelter program plus a treat to take home, like Bitsy’s Brainfood Orange Chocolate Beet Cookies, which is not a charity, but is an all-natural cookie. (Image of kids with food bags from Second Harvest Heartland, a partner of Feeding America.)


Are you a minimalist or maximalist when it comes to gift giving and receiving? Somewhere between? What are your favorite gifts your kids have received?


Pretty Links


Emma Chapman of A Beautiful Mess served Lentil Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce as the main course of their plant-based Friendsgiving. Yum. Photo by Amber Ulman and Emma Chapman.



I just bought Holly Jolly Mad Libs, but there are plenty of free printables online like the one above by Small Stuff Counts.



Can #FeministXmasSongs be an annual tradition? Because I’m really tired of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. Image from Distractify.




Each month, I feature beautiful, funny and quizzical ways children contribute to a homeโ€™s esthetic. Whether itโ€™s wall art, rows of race cars, dandelion bouquets or yogurt murals, children offer a fresh perspective and a sentimentality to interior design. Share your moments by tagging them #kidvignettes.

I confess, I have been an angry mom today. We’re in a rough patch in terms of listening and obedience (them) and patience and soft voices (me). I thought I wouldn’t have much fun combing through my pictures for the funny/sweet/quirky snapshots of kids at home. It turns out, I found more than I anticipated, so nostalgia and gratitude pushed out much of my frustration.



The item box on the kids’ dresser currently holds a pet rock, a container of seashells my mom collected for the kids, nature samples, a paper flower, a dream catcher and an Ojibwa teepee from Alexandra’s Native American unit at school.


Alexandra is constantly stealing my sticky notes and over the last two weeks, she has created quite the gallery on the inside of our front door. She stood on a chair to place the high ones. You probably can’t tell, but the doodles include cats, flowers, roses, hearts, fake cursive, elf footprints, a clock (with 16 hours, and the hands at 4:55), the words “yes no no” and the numbers 1001. I know the back story on some of these, but others make me wonder what’s coursing through her mind.


Alexandra has a charming proclivity for creating tiny, layered vignettes with bits of moss, grass, pebbles and flowers. She’s never been directed to do this; it is an art form that came purely from her, and I’m fascinated by it.


I arranged the pumpkins we chose on our pumpkin patch/apple orchard day on the front steps. I was (twice) surprised to see that Gabe had moved the heavy pumpkins off the steps and down the path. The first time, I had no idea how he had managed to move them on his own. I told him he’d have to put them back, and so he showed me how he figured out that he could roll them, as pictured.


After this bath was drained, Gabe refused to come out until he had finished carefully arranging the bath toys. This is not a pile left behind; he was meticulous in his placement of each toy.


I’d love to see your #kidvignettes!



6 Fail-Safe Hostess Gifts

I thought my thirties would involve a lot more dinner parties than they have so far. Almost all the gatherings I attend are more casual, with close friends or relatives, and not only would a small gift not be expected, it might be awkward. So, I’m curious, do you bring a hostess gift? What do you bring? There seem to be strong, conflicting etiquette viewpoints on whether or not to bring wine as a gift. I say don’t bring wine; it’s better to not put the hostess in the position of feeling like they must open the wine for everyone that evening.

Here are my 6 Fail-Safe Hostess Gifts:

hostess-gift-image Continue reading “6 Fail-Safe Hostess Gifts”

Pretty Links


I am swooning over the handmade furniture in this Dutch home on The Style Files.



Kelli Kehler wrote Letting Go of Objects Connected to Grief and Lost Loved Ones for Design*Sponge, and it is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Nearly all of us face objects left behind at some point.



Last but not least, thank you to all those who serve and support the armed forces. I am a pacifist at heart, but I know that the armed forces are vital to ultimately protecting lives, and also, that they do much more than battle. Here’s a good introduction to Veterans Day for kids, for parents and educators, or for adults (ahem, me) who can never remember if its Veteran’s or Veterans.

My brother is currently serving in the U.S. Navy, stationed for one year far from his wife and two young children. I hope he always feels loved and supported, and that my sister-in-law, niece, and nephew also feel buoyed. Love you guys!


Jenna’s Bookshelf

Jenna Wynne and I have been friends for 23 years. We’re very close, but I’m forever learning something new about her, or remember something wonderful about her. Jenna lives with her husband and their three children in a south Minneapolis craftsman. She agreed to show us around some of her bookshelves. I know you’ll enjoy a glimpse of her sentimental, scientific, and connecting nature.

“As soon as I moved into the house I envisioned this space at the top of the stairs, and right outside our bedroom as being filled with books. Long term, Iโ€™d like to create built-in bookshelves here, but with the demands of three kids and two full time jobs between us there just hasnโ€™t been time to tackle that project yet!


Continue reading “Jenna’s Bookshelf”