A few weeks ago the hubs and I escaped for our first weekend away since kids. Hallelujah! We spent a day exploring Portland, Maine – or as I like to call it, Brooklyn North. There are some seriously cool shops and amazing restaurants packed into this little city, not to mention the quaint cobblestone side streets (incredibly slippery in winter, FYI) and stunning views of Casco Bay. I kept thinking how much the kids would love to visit even though we were supposed to be off-duty! It’s such a unique place. The wharfs in the old, still-working port are fascinating, and there’s a strong arts culture that has fun events year round. For older kids and adults, there’s an incredible music scene – Lake Street Dive was in town that weekend for a sold-out show. I was admittedly surprised at how much the city has going on and wished we had more time to explore. Note – it’s not a definitive city guide, just our picks from shops and food we found when wandering around. Think mashed potato donuts (oh, yes), a gorgeous kid’s boutique, Scandinavian heaven and lots more. Let’s go!
In our annual tradition of non-romantic-movie themed Valentine’s date nights, I polled the Mom Edit team for their faves and whipped up some really fun ideas if you’re staying in this year. Because it’s February and no one wants to leave the house – hot popcorn & warm couch > fancy dinner & unsensible shoes.
Grab the remote and your bae: we’ll tell you what to watch, wear, drink and give for a low-key but awesome Tuesday night.
If you follow me on Instagram stories at all (@elletrain) you know I love to cook and bake. My grandmother was an amazing Southern food cook and baked the most delicious desserts. My stepmother is half Italian and has always cooked and baked fabulous holiday treats and special birthday meals. My youngest brother works in the food industry and is an avid fan and tester of all Alton Brown’s recipes. My mom is an incredible cook who has hosted international dinners in her home where she’s researched traditional foods from various countries to serve to complete strangers. (#brave) I think it’s in my blood.
I didn’t use to love to cook, but being surrounded by such wonderful foodies in my life, I had no choice but to take up interest. Once you spend a little time trying out recipes and building your repertoire of kitchen tools you learn the genuine satisfaction that comes with making a delicious meal or treat. I know many of you out there probably share my interest or know someone who does. For you or them, a great kitchen tool is really a priceless gift that will be used again and again.
Here, I’ve tried to gather useful, beautiful kitchen gifts that I would absolutely love to receive this Christmas. They’re also all available with Amazon Prime shipping, so you have time to get them ordered before next weekend. From mixers to cookbooks, there’s a little something here for every price point and every cook.
These are another type of favorite gift to give because I have so much fun picking them out! And maybe buying them for myself! Yep, that’s a box wine cooler you see above. Holiday parties are about to get real fancy around here…I found some delicious gifts for your favorite hostess that has everything and pretty little things for home. Holiday hosting & toasting gift ideas right this way…
For Mother’s Day, the boys bought me this picnic basket, featured on one of our Mother’s Day gift guides. Apparently, it was Pax’s idea – he must read the blog (terrifying). In any case, after the initial Picnic On The Bed, both Pax and Raines had been after us to go on a real picnic. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal – right about now is when we start playing fast and loose with bedtimes in preparation for Summer….
…but this RAIN, you guys. THIS RAIN. I just can’t even.
Anyway, before I bore you with more talk of the weather, suffice to say that on Saturday, we were supposed to have a few hours of sun. And high temps. So Mike and I, in a parenting fail of near-epic proportions, promised to take the boys to the beach. The freaking beach, people. For a “quick” picnic. As you can probably guess, we took longer than expected to leave the house (playing nearly an hour of every City Dweller’s favorite game: Where’s My Car), and by the time it was all said and done….it was pouring at the shore, with a 90% chance of continued rain.
Hell hath no fury like a Pax denied.
So instead of the shore, we trucked on over to the banks of the Schuykill River where we had – count ’em – 20 minutes to eat and play before it rained again.
We’re just going to chalk this one up to a really good try. A picnic dress-rehearsal, if you will.
The good news is that our picnic game is now on point. We’ve got the supplies, a can-sit-all-day-in-the-sun menu (vegan and gluten-free, thankyouverymuch), and are going to rock the heck out of a beach picnic this summer. GAME FREAKING ON.
So, this gift guide was maybe a little too easy for me to write. Include any of the keywords “small-batch”, “indie” or “handcrafted” in a product name and you’ve got my number. Bit food snobbish? Totally – but often leads to delicious outcomes and the warm fuzzies from supporting small companies that are passionate about good food. It’s not hard to see why grassroots food movements like these are so popular when they taste like bourbon spiked chocolate sauce. Have anyone on your list that knows the best source for heritage grains or is part of the raw milk underground? They’re going to be pretty ecstatic with any of these indulgent foodie gifts (and the fact that you support their fussy tendencies). If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll share…
1. Olympia Provisions Salami of the Month Club: Easily my husband’s favorite holiday gift last year. Every month a salami from Portland, OR (obvs) “crafted from local pork using an old-world technique” magically appears in your mailbox, with tasting notes included. It was the equivalent of a monthly Christmas for my 4 year old, who discovered a love of cured meats and weird cheese. Might have created a monster…
2. The Greatest Guest Gourmet Giftbox: Staying with friends or family over the holidays and need a stellar hostess gift? You’ll go down in history as the favorite guest of all time if you come bearing this bounty of American-made indie food gifts. Brooklyn-based (again, obvs) company Mouth sourced tasty snacks & drinks for the whole crowd – like bacon jam (yes), DIY cold brew coffee, sea salt & pepper pistachios and small batch tonic syrup.
3. ROK Manual Espresso Maker: Heads up, coffee lovers: this electricity-free espresso maker “extracts maximum oils”, making any ground coffee taste amazing. 5-star reviews for quality, consistency of great coffee produced, ease of use and because it’s pretty enough to keep on display every day. It’s portable too, so they’ll never have to drink bad coffee, even while camping. (On clearance!!)
4. Carry On Cocktail Kit: Your persnickety tippler doesn’t trust the flight attendants’ bartending skills? A gin & tonic travel cocktail kit including tonic syrup, jigger, bar spoon & linen coaster is just the thing – they’ll think of you fondly while mixing life-giving cocktails en-route to spend quality time with relatives. Maybe get two.
5. MarieBelle Hot and Ice Chocolate Gift Set: Does your chocolate fiend refer to hot cocoa as “drinking chocolate”? They’d flip over this fancypants hot chocolate mix set with four flavors – Aztec, Spicy, Milk & White, plus the phrase “single-origin” is thrown around a lot. Include a bottle of their favorite way to spike hot cocoa, and you’re set. I’m an iced tea girl no matter the weather (Dunkin Donuts 4 life) but I’m seriously considering changing my ways, especially since these would make delicious ice chocolates too.
6. Denim Walnut Serving Board: A gorgeous wood serving board (with rubber-coated navy handle) is an amazing backdrop for instagramming fancy, obscure cheeses and rustic artisanal breads. I love gifts that elevate an everyday item, but that you probably wouldn’t think to buy for yourself. Hit the cheese section and bakery at Whole Foods for a sweet spread and wrap it all up with this amazing serving board for a thoughtful gift.
7. Cocktail Party Every Month: This exists. And it sounds beyond fabulous for new parents’ date nights at home, besties or your spouse (so you can partake of the awesomeness). Depending on how generous you’re feeling, subscriptions can be 3, 6, or 12 months. What’s in the box? Small-batch snacks and mixers from brands you’ve never heard of – basically everything you need except the booze. Goodies in a recent shipment: “Real tonic syrup for making the best G+T ever, seed-studded farmhouse crackers, smoky tomato tapenade, buzz-worthy “snow” honey for cheese, pickled green tomatoes perfect for garnishing, and salty-sweet bacon brittle”. As Liz Lemon says, I want to go there.
8. kate spade Recipe Binder: I feel like I’m constantly pinning amazing recipes then forgetting about them. Meal planning? Whaaa…? Give her a pretty binder and inspire her to finally make some of the recipes she collects online – bonus points if you scope out her food board and jot down some recipes you know she’ll love.
9. Artisanal Salt Cellar: Spice up their life with hand-harvested, limited availability salts from around the world. French salt smoked in Chardonnay oak barrels, mountain spring salt from ponds 10,000 feet high in Peruvian mountains, superfine Sel Gris that melts on your tongue like butter, silky black Hawaiian lava salt – the mind boggles. (If you’re into poetic descriptions of salt, check out the full flavor list.) They’re packed in little glass bottles (perfect for storing spices later) in a really cool bamboo case, so display worthy.
(Note: Much of this post is tongue in cheek; I realize those that can make food choices like these are privileged indeed. xo)
Wishing you a very tasty holiday,
P.S.- More guaranteed cool Mom Edit gift guides for everyone on your list.
Me: Raines, since you’re going into First Grade, you’ll be eating lunch at school everyday. You need a lunch box!
Raines [unenthused]: Ok.
Me: Lunch boxes are cool! You can get all kinds of different designs….wait – do you even know what a lunch box is?
Raines: It’s a box for your lunch, Mom.
Me: Well, yeah. But you can get really cool ones like….maybe space, or dinosaurs….[silence]
Me [now at the computer, googling]: Ok, look at this one – it’s camo!
Raines: Mom, I want a lunchbox with the Battleship New Jersey on it.
Me: There’s also one with sharks, or– wait, what?
Raines: The Battleship New Jersey.
Me: Yeah that’s not gonna happen.
Raines: Why not?
Me: Honey, it doesn’t quite work like that. There’s a ton of options to choose from, but not anything in the world that you can think of. I can find sea-related lunch boxes like sharks or pirates, and I might be able to find a lunch box with a boat, but I really don’t think–
Raines: Google it, Mom. Just type in, “Battleship New Jersey Lunchbox”.
Me: Ok honey. We can google it, but see, there’s really noth-
You gotta be freaking kidding me. It’s the actual Battleship New Jersey….on a lunchbox.
And check out at the inside:
Yubo makes BPA-free and Phtalate-free lunchboxes that are also dishwasher safe and recyclable (including the inserts shown above). But the really cool part? The faceplates are fully customizable. As long as you can find a picture, your child’s wildest dreams can become a lunchbox. And when your kid outgrows their obsession, new faceplates can be purchased without having to shell out for a whole new lunchbox.
Yubo also has some really cool stock designs, but I think Pax (my youngest) would get a kick out of one with his face on it. We already know what Raines is getting.
Also, if you are in a rush, Amazon prime does have some Yubo lunchboxes in stock.
Thus concludes my story of getting schooled by Raines. “GOOGLE IT MOM.” Sheesh.
ps. LOFT is having a flash sale – AGAIN – that goes from tonight until just 10AM tomorrow. Use code FLASH for $50 off any purchase of $100 or more. I have my eye on the short-sleeve sweatshirt (I’m obsessed with this piece for Fall – more later), the black jeans with a shockingly perfect distressed wash, this plaid shirt, and this sheer tee for date night.
Lastly, Anthro is currently offering an additional 20% off of already marked down product. The discount will be reflected in your cart at checkout. Check the sale shop (I’ll add pieces as I find them).
It's me, Cams. Some of you may know me by now, but if not…well, hello. Nice
to meet you! :). I blog over at Life in Mod– all about being a mama, styling
through all of the changes life brings, yada yada. It's a fun gig. ps. I am now
14 weeks pregnant with our 2nd…which is awesome.
She's amazing, eh? Let me just say that first and foremost. She has been such
an amazing example of strength for me these past few months. Every time I have
spoken to her within the past couple of months she has blown me away with her
positive attitude. It's like, wow…if I was in the same situation would I
handle it with such grace, patience and …even spunk? Probably not. She's a
superwoman. S, I am so happy to have met you via the blogosphere. I consider you
a dear friend (as silly as that may sound since all of our communication has
been 99% blog related). Still. I really do. You are a blessing to so many. xx.
that all of my sap is gone, let us move on… 😉
So….Mike and I are pretty great cooks. Actually, Mike is downright amazing. HOWEVER: Should you ever come to our pad for dinner, you may leave wondering what the hell happened. More often than not, we'll be running so behind that you'll have to help. Our kitchen will be a disaster. Something will have been horribly over-salted, and there's always – always – one epic failure. (Sometimes we catch it in time to hide it from our guests…but not always.) I once served "caramel apple sundaes" (my invention) that had the consistency of snot with suspicious bits of undissolved peel. Sigh.
So imagine our surprise when we perfectly executed an on-the-fly creation: an insanely-healthy, inflammation-reducing take on chicken tacos…for over fifteen people. It was so good, no really – SO good, that even people who were decidedly anti-kale gobbled it up.
Here's the "recipe". (Before I forget it.)
Reader Emily clued us in on a little fun fact about Topshop: they obviously love our name.
Sorry to kick your weekend off with a crotch-shot, Mamas. (It's hard not to stare, isn't it? So inexplicably loooong….) but here are a few fun things I've been wanting to share:
Jennifer Garner is really stepping up her momiform game. Oxfords and well-fitting skinnies? Yay, Jen!
Rugged boots + winter white denim? I'm dying to recreate this look.
We're not the only ones with leggings on the brain. Refinery 29 shows 5 cool ways to upgrade your leggings and Sarah Jessica Parker solves the pants/no pants problem by rocking thin black cords that look a whole lot like leggings. But are pants.
Shopbop has the best advice for making your workout gear look chic. I do this more days than I care to admit. :)
The Rookie Moms love cute winter coats, and want you to love them too. Here's why.
I'm going to give the Coconut Hot Chocolate on a Cup of Jo a try. (Mine will also have rum.)
Also, you may have missed a few of our articles over on Mom.me:
Here's how to Dress Around a C-Section Scar
A week's worth of outfits that all do double duty (work date then playdate, gym than errands, etc.)
Lastly, our Holiday Style Guide has outfits for any age and stage…and might work well for a festive Valentine's Day.
What are your plans for the weekend? We're going to take the boys to see the Arden Theater's production of Cinderella. I hear it's a great twist on the classic – no poufy dresses or simple happily ever afters. We can't wait.
Have a wonderful weekend, Mamas!