I SPY: Cheerio 2014

Dec 19, 2014

Are you staying home for the holidays?  We are jetting off today to see our family in Texas.  My kids are beyond excited to see their cousins, Eddy is going to have a ball running freely off leash again, and I'm looking forward to EATING some good home cooking and SLEEP!

Time to DISCONNECT and instead spend quality time with my family, with out the iPhone and lap top in constant tow.  I always do this when I go on vacation.  How about you?  It drives my friends and family nuts when I don't respond in a NY minute to a text or email.  Sorry!  But I'm on VACATION trying to absorb where I am, rejuvenate, and need to leave my worries and everyday life behind otherwise it isn't considered a break.  So-o-o that means no blogging for two weeks.

From mine to yours we wish you a HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Photo Credit: Rachel Hudgins

Will you miss my chatter?  HA.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder!  See you right back here on January 5th with loads to catch up on and new surprises.  Cheerio 2014!  Peace out Ladies and Gents.  Till 2015!

I SPY: Current Obsession

Dec 18, 2014

Need a break from Christmas tunes?  Listen to Hozier.  My current obsession on constant repeat!

Photo Credit: theguardian.com

Don't know who he is?  Young, talented, Irish boy, in his early twenties, who has hit the top of the charts.  Competition for U2!  You may have heard his hit song 'Take Me to Church' thats frequently played on the radio or in stores?  He also recently performed at the Victorias Secret fashion show and on Saturday Night Live.

Still don't know?  Upload his album to your play list, so now you can say you know!  HA.  It's good CHILL music.  A mix of blues, soul and folk.  He will keep me sane till X'mas music stops being played EVERYWHERE.  Amen!

I SPY: A Deck Of Cards

Dec 17, 2014

What do you do with all the holiday cards you receive?  Mine are hanging on my back door.  Same place for the last few years.  BORING.  Nothing creative and I know not Martha Stewart worthy!  But the French door frame does the job, and I do LOVE having all the cards received on display.  The cards with photos are especially fun to keep looking at.  This is the only time of the year we ever receive anything of abundance really special in the mail, besides those ugly bills, so got to enjoy it!

Where are yours?  Piled up on your kitchen counter or dining table?  My friend doesn't know what to do with her deck of cards and asked me if I had any good suggestions.  I didn't.  Until I looked at Pinterest, and saw another light!  If your in the same shoes here are some creative ideas to play with:

Photo Credit: Fourcornersdesign.blogspot.com

Photo Credit: memoriesoncloverlane.com

Photo Credit: nineandsixteen.com

Photo Credit: Laurawinslowphotography.com

Photo Credit: lilsugar.com

After seeing these ideas I feel like I should put more effort into my card display.  I could totally hang the cards off the magnolia branches I already have standing in my living room.  Or that book idea is brilliant.  But NOT happening this year!  MAYBE next.  HA!

I SPY: Doodle Me

Dec 16, 2014

Raise your hand if your in NYC this weekend!  Yes?  Lucky you!  Look at this website.  This weekend CB2 is hosting this event.

Photo Credit: CB2.com

Would meeting Jana Kinsman be up your alley?  Pity we're not here because I would LOVE to have my kids and I doodled.  If your not able to catch this FREE event either then you can find her here on Etsy and you can send her photos of your subject she can work from to create doodles of.  This would be an awesome gift, or to use to print holiday cards, or thank you cards.  

Photo Credit: Doodlebooth.me

Photo Credit: Doodlebooth.me

Photo Credit: Doodlebooth.me

Or save this idea to hire her for a wedding or party.  Something different right?  It's good to be different!

I SPY: X'mas Around The World

Dec 15, 2014

Are you in full swing and ready for Christmas day to arrive?  If you saw us setting up our tree you know that we were early birds this year and way ahead of our time.  *AHEM* Like back in November!  I know I'm getting a lot of dagger eyes staring at me right now!  HA.  Not to make you feel bad and unorganized.  But I'm glad we got a head start.  We've had time to thoroughly enjoy all the activities and excitement related to the holidays, and now my kids just can't wait for December 24 to see what goodies Santa brought them, celebrated together with my greater extended family.

My eldest son just caught on that we open our presents on Dec 24 evening instead of Dec 25 morning like most families.  WHY?  Because we're special and Santa comes visit us first!  JOKE.  My parents started this tradition because my late grandmother Nan's birthday is on Dec 24.  Therefore, we use to always celebrate her birthday in conjunction with throwing a X'mas party.  This conversation led me to say that everyone has their own little twist on the holiday, and got me interested to Google how others celebrate Christmas around the world.  Yes I am the Queen of GOOGLE!

Photo Credit: www.allthingschristmas.com

Do you know how they celebrate X'mas in Serbia?  I just found out in this article.   I think my children would LOVE to follow Serbia's tradition!  That would be FUNNY.  I also like Italy's tradition of the broomstick.  My kids have always asked Santa when he has visited where is his sleigh and reindeers.  It would make life so much easier if he arrived on a broomstick and had it with him!  Don't have to feel guilty that we're lying on Christmas Day!  HA.

But the Netherlands tradition I just read about is what we will try and adopt for next year.  My grandmother was Dutch so it's part of our heritage.  Sinterklass is celebrated on December 5.  Sounds like good fun doesn't it?  Any practice you want to steal from across the globe to add more fun to your holiday traditions?  The more the merrier.  Let's be global citizens.  Tis the Season!

I SPY: It's a Wrap

Dec 12, 2014

Have you started wrapping your gifts?  I've held off as long as I can secretly hoping for a snow day so my kids can make the wrapping paper.  Not in my luck!  But last year we did it and it made a GREAT snow day activity.  Entertained them for well over an hour.  WOO HOO!

Can you believe I'm wishing to be snowed in?  Purely only to get my wrapping paper made.  How SELFISH!  HA.  Oh well I have the supplies stored in the closet for a future snow day.  I'm sure we're in for one too many snow days come the next three months.  One is nice but DREADING more then that!  But we're prepared.  For one at least!  If it happens after the Christmas holidays then they'll be making either Valentines day or birthday wrapping paper.

You want to stock up on supplies too?  All you need is:

1. A roll of solid white, brown kraft, or black paper.
2. Rubber Stamps and ink pad
3. Sharpie colored pens.  For black paper use Sharpie metallic gold, silver and white pens.

Don't have kids but want to also make your own wrapping?  Then have a go at one of these many great ideas on my Pinterest page .  I was so inspired to get the kids to do thumb and foot prints, and attach pom poms as Reindeers noses as shown on my Pinterest page.  But with no school/ snow days in our forecast I don't know when we will have time in the next week.  If an hour happens to free up we will be jumping on that project!  Ahhh...So much to do, so little time.  There's always next year!

I SPY: The Big Selfie

Dec 11, 2014

Are photo booths considered so-o-o yesterday?  Friends of mine are throwing a holiday party and we were brainstorming ideas for party activities.  They turned their nose up to a photo booth, even though I think they're still super FUN if you've got the right goofy crowd, or these crazy kids!

But been there, done that?  OK.  So is this the new thing for the hard to please crowd - The Big Selfie?  We caught a guy last month on the streets of NYC renting out his Instagram board.  My kids saw it and being the natural POSERS they are had to do it for laughs.

Like?  You can rent this guys well made board for your next party.  Email:  thebigselfie@gmail.com Or you can try and make your own board following these directions.  Throw in some props for extra silliness and you've got an instant party activity that will have a line of people waiting to take the ever popular SELFIE.   If you need a further ice breaker pull out this game at the party and which ever card they pick they have to strike that pose for The Big Selfie.  The thought is already too hilarious for me to handle!  HA.  I look forward to seeing your selfies.  Send them my way please!

I SPY: Rain Rain Go Away

Dec 10, 2014

What's up with the weather?  We have been slammed by a Nor' easter passing through NY.  It's been raining cats and dogs.  Not fun, especially with kids and a dog who hates to do his business in the rain!

But Eddy is lucky we received this pet umbrella last week.  Look at this thing.  It's GENIUS!

Are you laughing now because it looks ridiculous?  HA!  I do feel slightly foolish and Mary Poppin- ish walking around with an umbrella attached to my dog.  OK!  Go ahead laugh all you want!  But you've got to admit it is a handy gadget.   Have you seen anything like this before?  It's practical and does the trick of keeping Eddy dry when walking out in the rain and snow.  So many people have stopped me on the road with ENVY to find out where I found such an accessory.  Must be COOL right?!?  No secret.  I found it here on Amazon.

Any dog lovers on your Christmas list?  This is a FAB gimmicky gift to give them and CHEAP.  Enjoy the round of laughs when they open your gift, but they will thank you later when they see how its actually useful.  Tried and tested.  Eddy approved!

P.S.  That is not Eddy in the pic.  Just some random poster dog on Amazons website.  Had to make that clear!!!

I SPY: My Man Henry

Dec 9, 2014

Remember my old friend Henry?  Today was our 2nd visit with him, and this time my lil' guy tagged along.  He was tickled pink to meet Henry, and was dying to ask him about war questions!  Ahh…BOYS and they're fascinations.

Henry was drafted during the Korean war for 3 years.  However that wasn't his original plan.  When he heard that they were going to start drafting people Henry went to apply for the air force. The application process was long as they cross checked all information and were very selective.  During that wait time he unfortunately caught pneumonia and that was an immediate disqualification from the air force.  However a week later he was drafted into the army and shipped off to Seoul.  It sounded like bittersweet times for him, as I think true for anyone who's been through a war.

Switching to a happier topic we gave him his Christmas gifts.  A 2015 calendar and a 3 pack of socks.  I remember my late grandmother Nan loving her calendars and keeping track of dates.  I think Henry is probably the same, and also this calendar we got him has old pictures of NYC which could be nostalgic.  The socks were an after thought, but I saw them at Wholefoods and thought oh cool!  They're quite hip designs for an old man, but I remembered from before that Henry is a Fashionista and could appreciate a good looking sock.  Henry use to work at Macys for 40+ years.  Starting out as a sales clerk, to department manager and working his way to the top controlling the vault.  On our last visit he was saying how he use to do all the shopping as his deceased wife Alice hated that chore, so instead she use to do the finances!  CUTE.  But since he's not use to wearing that hat he struggles now to manage his bills, besides that he's only living on one social security income now since Alice's passing.  TOUGH huh?

Along with the gifts we brought him swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce over noodles as a meal.  Perfect heavy comfort food for our winter weather.  Here's a recipe to try which I doctor a bit.  We eat ours over egg noodles so make double the sauce so we can drown in it, but I go easy on the cream so it's not too rich.  YUM.  Sure does beat Ikea frozen meatballs!  Don't look too closely at ingredients though because it's not a weight watchers meal.  However, no worst then mac and cheese.  That's my only consolation!  HA.

Curious what Henry's doing for Christmas?  We were!  We learned that Henry is planning to go to Rhode Island for Christmas to spend with his niece, her husband and 2 teenage boys.  He sadly ended up spending Thanksgiving alone at home, because couldn't figure out a way to catch a ride back home.  BOO.  We hope that the same scenario does not happen for Christmas, and he is able to coordinate with all his family members to catch a ride there and back.  We will find out in the New Year on our next visit how he spent Christmas.  Fingers crossed and weather permitting he has a very Merry Christmas with his family.  I would hate to find him alone.  Till next time Henry!

I SPY: Thinking Outside The Box

Dec 8, 2014

Does your child need another toy?  NO!  I think most would agree with me that our children are spoilt enough and have plenty.  We have enough junk in this house to share with a village!  HA.

Photo Credit: www.olddesignshop.com

I came across this article from Huffington Post last month.  I'm glad somebody is thinking along the same wave length as me!  I've been telling friends and family members this last year that an experience or outing with my child is more memorable and meaningful then a toy.  I know this because for my kids birthdays I don't give them what they know as a gift - TOYS.  My gift to them is their birthday party, and I usually take them out for an experience.  They've known this for years and they look forward to it because it's a memory they don't forget.  To give you an idea, we've done activities such as: Great Wolf Lodge water park, Medieval Times dinner and show,  and 360 All Stars theatre performance.

Is there a child your struggling to figure out what to get them for Christmas?  Remember your gift does not have to come in a box.  Think outside the box: movies, performance shows, sports game, circus, zoo, ice cream parlor, arcade, ice skating, or a special event happening in your town such as the Holiday Train Show in NYC.

This year I'm gifting a friends daughter to the American Girl cafe for tea. *SQUEAL*  I'm very excited myself!  I have no girls, it's been a while since I've done something as girly as that and I'm in for a treat!  It's going to be good quality time, and memorable for the little Princess and I.

Get thinking!  Who can you re-live your childhood with?  While toys are fun they are overrated. Experiences are just as fulfilling.  Plan a date with a child as your next gift.

I SPY: Put A String On It

Dec 5, 2014

Can you ever just have one handful of popcorn?  If so then I envy you!  How?!!  It's so ADDICTIVE.  For the 12 days of Xmas my boys received popcorn along with a sewing kit.  They were dumbfounded when they opened the gift!  FUNNY.  No movie night or sewing buttons over here.  For the 1st time we strung popcorn.  It was a new experience.  Tested our fine motor skills, and my eyesight for threading a needle.  But honestly more went into our belly then on the string! HA. Inevitable right?

Do you know why we decided to hang the popcorn string on our fireplace mantel instead of our tree?  EDDY!  Poor dog was eyeing it and can't be trusted.  

Go pop some popcorn and listen to Christmas carols this weekend.  Good ole' family fun.  Just a tip: It takes A LOT of popcorn to make one string, especially if your like us and eating a handful of popcorn for every popped kernel you thread along the way.  Or even worst - eating popcorn off the string like my lil' guy!  Estimate a bag of popcorn per yard. Also let the popcorn cool down before starting or it will fall apart.  Even better thread stale popcorn, then you won't be tempted to eat it.  I wish I had thought about that diet plan before!  Will save that after thought for next year...

I SPY: A Keeper

Dec 4, 2014

Having trouble remembering all you different passwords?  I'm struggling in this department!  For the life of me I can't remember all the different login passwords.  It was OK when I just had one password for all, but now it seems every site has a different requirement.  My passwords have been forced to change.  Some want a capital letter, a number, a special character. Technology is testing me, and my memory is shot!  I can bitch all day about this!  Anybody else have this problem?

If your in the same boat HELP is on the way!  I've been introduced to the Keeper app.  It keeps all your login info, passwords, and can even keep important image files like passport and drivers license.  It's a secure site, so you will be safe from hackers.

How convenient?  Now I only have ONE password to remember.  I can handle that!  YAY!  Next year when I'm doing X'mas shopping online I can do it in a breeze.  It was driving me crazy this last week every time I couldn't remember the password and had to wait for an email to reset password.  Waste of my time!  Wouldn't you like to save yourself the frustration and time too?  Get this app.  A definite keeper!

I SPY: Windows Unveiled

Dec 3, 2014

What do millions of tourist flock to NYC to see during the holidays?  One thing for sure - our amazing store holiday window displays.  It's been hush, hush, the windows have been blacked out for the last month and the design crew have been working hard behind the scenes.  Finally they've been unveiled in the last 2 weeks just in time for Thanksgiving last week.  Without fail they're always able to out do last years holiday windows, in fascinating ways that include LEDs, strobe lights, and music thats synchronized to the movement of the holiday displays.  It's a mega production.  TRAFFIC STOPPING.

Welcome to the vicinity of Fifth Avenue and our four major department stores in NYC who are best known for their eye catching windows.

'An Enchanted Experience' is the name of their theme.  Fairy Tales with a roaring 20's Art Deco twist.  Each window had a comical quote related to each different windows theme of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel, and Snow White.  My favorite quote being 'Once upon a time in New York…Sleeping Beauty had trouble adjusting to the city that never sleeps'  I remember having the same problem when I moved to NYC.  But now all the honking and siren sounds is like the soothing ocean that rocks me to sleep!

Paying homage to 'The Arts' - Architecture, Literature, Photography, Theatre, Painting, Music, Dance, Sculpture and Film.  Each different kind of Art was represented in a window.  Jam packed with detail.  Could stand there for hours and just admire!

'Baz Dazzled' an array of metal sculptures.  True works of art.  Surprisingly no merchandise displayed in windows.  Just a sensory experience with arranged and choreographed music that sets the tone, mechanical movements and a live ice skating dancer in the ice cave.  Catch a performance that will win you over!

They took on a different approach.  An interactive experience where you interact through games with the window displays on social media.  It's fun, unique, and very clever.

Magical?  I think so.  Especially with the surrounding office buildings and trees decorated in fairy lights, the smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Salvation Army volunteers caroling and dancing along street sidewalks.  It all makes you feel alive and gets you into the holiday spirit.  One of the many reasons I heart NYC!

I SPY: Rent The Runway

Dec 2, 2014

What's your secret?  Please share!  Mine is Rent The Runway.   An online service where you can rent designer attire and accessories, from hot date, cocktail party, wedding to black tie.  Beyond AWESOME.  I've been renting from them for the past 3 years!  Those who know me I bet you've seen me in one of their pieces at a party, Christmas, New Years and Weddings.  Did you know?  NO.  My best kept secret till now! *WINK*

Have a lot of parties to attend this holiday season?  Look fabulous and save money and closet space by renting from Rent The Runway.  Their inventory is endless, up to date in fashion trends and you will not have a problem finding a design to your taste.  Worried about fit?  If your in between sizes, rest assured you can opt for a 2nd size to be sent to you for no additional charge.  Worried about hygiene?  All garments are dry-cleaned and spic an span upon arrival.  Believe me, I have the most sensitive nose!  HA.

I'm attending a party soon and the dress code is 'western dazzle'.  WHAT is that?!?  I'm thrown for a loop!  I am a fashionista.  I do love my clothes.  But for events like this where it's something I'll probably wear only once, and where I'm going to get photographed I'm better off renting.  God forbid I get caught in the same outfit twice!!!  DIVA.

Curious to see what I'm renting?  This is my take on WESTERN DAZZLE.

LIKE?  The House of Harlow 1960 clutch is probably the most western thing!  The Camilla & Marc jumpsuit is a basic piece you can't go wrong in and can dress up or down with accessories.  I may want to keep this jumpsuit!  The Jules Smith choker is a minimalist accessory, in case I'm too bare around the neck line.  The Hunter Bell gold jacket is the dazzle!  Howdy enough for you?

When having a fashion emergency and want to look red carpet quality, don't stress, just click on www.renttherunway.com  Nobody will know except you!
i * SPY CANDY. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.