Friday, December 7, 2007


The catalogs are piling up, but I'll do my best to meet the challenge. To me, Sundance is sort of like the coworker you get along fine with but don't really have any desire to stay in touch with when you move on to another job. I'd never order anything myself, but if someone insisted, I wouldn't turn down the the very Anthropologie Sundance-made Wine Tumblers ($60) or the delicate Trousseau Linens in ecru ($215 for a queen set).

Then there's Hanna Andersson, the colorful European kidwear that's priced somewhere between H&M and Oilily, but isn't as stylish as either one. Maybe the prints are just too bright for my tastes, or maybe it's that the clothes look cheaper than they really are—along the lines of the less-cute stuff from Target (you know, the stuff that always has butterflies on it). I'd stay away from the bright colors altogether and go for the little girls' Pure Cotton Eyelet Slip ($29)

or the Classic Swedish Clogs in navy ($26).

I've got 12 more catalogs to address, but they will have to wait.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More catalog challenge

The Y Catalog: I’d never heard of it before, but evidently something I bought along the way landed me on their list. Its motto is, “Taking Seva—the spirit of service—mainstream.” The cover also mentions something about how 10% of everything you spend in the catalog goes toward changing the world, blah, blah, blah. I’m sure their goals are noble, but it’s not my aesthetic—mainly a lot of yoga clothes and accouterments, plus some beady jewelry with a touch of that imperfect, hand-hammered hippie look. Did I mention it’s based in Santa Monica, California?

I’d probably skip the Dial M for Mantra CD and pass on the Neti Pot (which I thought was a somewhat cute little vase until I read that it's one of those things to “gently wash and soothe nasal passages”). But the Grateful Hoodie ($54) could stand on its own, and the Zafu Meditation Cushions (18" diam, $63.50 each) are quite cheery and modern.
I’m also drawn to the Cork Block ($16.95 each); there’s got to be cool alternative use for these, although offhand I can’t think of much beyond using it as a small 3-D bulletin board for your desk. Any other ideas?

The catalog challenge

I'm trying to get myself taken off the mailing lists of most of the catalogs we get, but before I call, I'm paging through each one to find the cute things hidden within. First up: L. L. Bean, which usually conjures up images of plaid shirts for dads and frumpy shoes for middle-aged women with tired feet. But pull a select few items away from their more utilitarian brothers and sisters, and they can almost stand alone as cute—like the Hearthside Slippers in pink plum ($29.95) above. Or how about a cheery yet practical stripe-edged Washable Wool Blanket in rosebud (queen, $99)?

And how many additional uses could you get out of this Maine Guide Plaid Duct Tape ($9.50 for two rolls) versus the standard silver stuff? It would add a cozy fireplace-at-the-lodge feel to gifts wrapped in brown paper.

Or how about upgrading your musty old sleeping bag for a Flannel-Lined Camp Bag in sea glass ($49)?

Finally, for the little kids, you can't go wrong with a classic red Radio Flyer Tricycle ($69):

Up next: Hanna Andersson, Garnet Hill, and whatever else lands in our mailbox.

Monday, November 19, 2007

10 cute things: #3

Our house is far from "finished"—for example, after living here for two years, we haven't put up even one-fourth of the art we own—but my daughter's room is probably the most complete: It's painted, contains most of the furniture it needs, and has some type of decoration on all four walls. I really like being in her room, which is a big plus when I've been sitting in there for an hour or more, trying to get her to sleep. At those times I'm grateful to be able to look at these charming birdcage-patterned curtains from Urban Outfitters, which, incidentally, turns out to be a great source for kids'-room decor. Wouldn't this chandelier look great by the window in a little girl's room?

Or how about this koala clock, on sale for $19.99?

Or this rug?

I know 18-month-olds probably don't fall within UO's target demographic, and many 37-year-olds probably don't either, but if you divide my age by my daughter's, you get 24.67, and that sounds about right, doesn't it?

Ikea Miståkken

Perhaps you've bought one of these, too: Something you were sure you could use, or that was just cute—and affordable—enough that you figured you might as well get it. Sadly, of my five Miståkken pictured above, I've only managed to return one (Spöka, $14.99) before the 90-day cutoff. The rest are in my attic, still in their original packaging. Is there a Craigslist category for these?

I'm getting better, though: On my last trip, I only bought one Miståkke (Textur, $29.99), and I already returned it—less than one week later.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How did I miss this? Design your own Kleenex box

I was all set to post about one of the greater life questions I wrestle with—why are tissue-box designs so lame?—when I figured I'd better do a little research first, just in case I was missing something. And it turns out I was:, where for $4.99 plus shipping you can get your image on one of their oval boxes (the size of their readymade version shown above). I've been dreaming about this for years! Poor Puffs. I checked to see if they offer a similar product, and while they do have something called "Design-a-Box," you're limited to dragging around clip art within their eight themes: fall, winter, spring, summer, cartoon, contemporary, magical, and scholastic. To make matters worse, once your design is done, you have to print it out and assemble it yourself!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

10 cute things: #2

I use these little Japanese washcloths—by Cram Cream and others—for my daughter, but I would find a use for them even if I didn't have a child—I'm sure they'd make great dish rags, for one. Seeing the clean ones stacked up on our bathroom shelf makes me very happy, and, as an added bonus, motivates me to put the laundry away.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

10 cute things: #1

Along the lines of Domino’s “10 Things That Make Me Happy,” here is the first on my list of cute things that make me happy: a cheery, perfectly sized cup that reads, “Good morning! You should eat breakfast for your health.”