Tag Archives: holidays

Memory and Place

4 Feb

Memories Fairmont Raffles EmpressDid you know the brain “geotags” memories based on location?

When you encounter a familiar place, according to a recent study, “It opens up these memory boxes and triggers a flood of old memories in vivid Technicolor, like they happened yesterday.”

In other words, memory and place are intricately linked, on a biological level.  Continue reading

My Gift to You

22 Dec

This is one of my family’s favorite Christmas presents, and this year Von got to enjoy it with us, too.

I know some of you out there who’ll enjoy it as much as we do. So, may I present my gift to you…

Sue’s voice, grandbabies, and spirit, all in one hilariously adorable little video… complete with, well, nose picking.

Happy holidays, friends.

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Free Seattle: Parades

13 Mar

Drums

Did you know parades were originally a chance for rulers to display their military might and authority?

Eventually they became associated with festivals and holidays. People used them for a chance to socialize, witness a spectacle, and have fun (as they still do).

They say the original Macy’s Day Parade (1924) was the first to use blatant advertising. I would argue the aforementioned rulers were using it for their own “advertising” long before that. But I degress…

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Ideas for Everyone on Your List

16 Dec
Presents

Photo by DailyCraft, Flickr Creative Commons

No, really. Here’s a full list of affordable, wow-worthy ideas for everyone on your list.

It’s my gift to you, so you can put that research and shopping time toward a warm bath and good book.

Don’t believe me? This should about cover it, right?

  • Kids 3-8
  • Kids 9-12
  • Teenagers
  • Collegiates and Twenty-Somethings
  • Moms
  • Dads
  • Grandparents
  • Friends
  • Foodies and/or Party People
  • In Lieu of a $10-$20 Gift Card (Teachers, Babysitters, Coworkers, etc.)

MagnaTilesKids 3-8

Every time I ask my toddler what she wants for Christmas, it’s always the same thing: Magna-Tiles. And that’s coming from a girl who’s downright princess crazy right now, mind you.

Magnetic building sets are one of the most-loved toys at her preschool, and for good reason, too. Just try to play with them and not have fun.

While Magna-Tiles are the premium budget-busting option, the following brands give you a lot more pieces for your money:

Bonuses!

  • They’re fantastic for travel. Just stack them up, stick them together, and throw them in your bag.
  • If the kids already have tiles, they can always build more with more!
  • The tiles are well-built and gender-neutral, making for great hand-me-down toys in the future.
Why are we all wearing those shirts? We're holiday crazy, and that's all you need to know.

Why are we all wearing those shirts? We’re Xmas crazy, and that’s all you need to know.

Kids 9-12

You know what’s been one the all-time favorite toys from us, according to my nieces and nephews?

Stilts.

Seriously. There’s nothing high-tech about them, but the circus-fun factor just can’t be denied.

I like this particular set because it has several height adjustments, plus beginner and advanced bottom attachment options.

Teenagers

Unless you really know they’re likes and dislikes (which could change daily), I recommend a gift card. But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring.

Gift them an experience:

  • Movie theater passes for two, plus maybe a restaurant gift card
  • Local amusement park pass
  • Climbing wall passes (check your local fitness centers and even outfitters, like REI, who also host outdoor sports classes across the U.S.)
  • A hot air balloon or helicopter ride (again, check online for local options)
  • A plane ticket voucher to visit an out-of-town relative or friend

Show Me HowCollegiates and Twenty-Somethings

They’re getting to the age where they need to do stuff… on their own.

This hilarious, graphically brilliant book will make it much less of a chore:

Show Me How by Lauren Smith

Moms

They hear it over and over again: “It goes so fast! Remember every precious little moment.”

Really, how feasible is that?

OneLineADayWhat’s much more likely is that they’ll mark important revelations and milestones in this little book that allows for just one line a day—and not even every day, if they don’t have the time for it.

I have one, and as I round over into year two of using it, it’s so fun to look at my entries from last year at this time.

Plus, it’s under $20, well made, and prettily compact.

Dads

Sure, the tie is a classic, but let’s kick it up a notch. How about some cuff links customized with a photo, logo, initials, or even a caricature of your family? Granted, you might need to buy a French cuff shirt to go with it (if he doesn’t have one), but what guy doesn’t need an nice shirt every once in awhile? If you get a more casual (not white) French-cuff shirt, he can even sport it to work.

My sister used this site a couple of years ago to give Halo cufflinks to my husband, and they’re conversation starters every time he wears them.

CustomComicBookArtAnd if dressing up isn’t your dad’s thing, how one of these custom comic-book-type art pieces made with a photo of him?

Really, the site is worth checking out for the example pictures alone.

They’re downright hilarious.

Grandparents

Get a digital photo frame and an SD card. But here’s the key:

Load it with pictures for them.

Chances are most pictures of their grandkids are on your computer or Facebook, where they can’t see them. Or if they do have them, they may not know how to (or want to) transfer them themselves.

This way, they can have and display those fond photos with no fuss. And when Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or Grandparent’s Day rolls around, just send them a newly loaded SD card. Bam! Two gifts in one.

Friends

I have three words for you: Cards Against Humanity. Give it to them. Then play it will them, preferably with liquor involved. As a matter of fact, a nice bottle of wine would be the perfect accompaniment.

BeerInfuserFoodies and/or Party People

I saw this article earlier in the year and immediately saved the idea to my Creative Gifts board on Pinterest.

It’s a small affordable contraption that lets you experiment with flavoring your own beer. Have you seen how cumbersome and expensive the full beer-making kits can be? This is a nice option along those lines, so that can dabble. Then, if they have fun with it, they can invest in the real deal… and make you free, fine-crafted beers of course.

Cheers, all around!

In Lieu of a $10-$20 Gift Card

Sure, a gift card for coffee and a sandwich is nice and all, but wouldn’t you rather give something fun and unexpected? Anything by Keri Smith will do the trick:

Bonuses!

  • Wrap the books in paper decorated by the kids, for a nice touch that also fights the doldrums.
  • Decorate strips of paper, cover them in contact paper, and insert in books as personalized bookmarks.

I hope this helps make your week easier. And if you have your own ideas, please share them in the comments!

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10 Things in Honor of Sue

2 Dec

sueszaba_small.jpgThree years ago today, we lost Sue. It hardly seems real when stated so bluntly. And yet there it is. The facts belying a long journey of emotional pitfalls, resilient hopes, and surprisingly strong motivation.

On the first anniversary, I wrote that it “wrung my soul out to dry.” That emotion has mellowed over time, though it remains poignantly poised at the heart of today. And I still “wander through those last hours like the abandoned sets of a movie.” I don’t know when or if there will ever be a year where that’s not the case.

But I do know that Sue wouldn’t want anyone to waste valuable time mourning. Alive. In this moment. Together. That’s the mantra she’d want us to have.

So rather than throwing a pity party, I do the following 10 things every year on this anniversary, in honor of her life, not death.

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Upcycled Photo Frames

13 Jun

Need a last-minute gift idea for Father’s Day, a birthday, or just because? Create an upcycled photo frame! It doubles as a kids’ activity, too.

Step 1: Find an old frame.

If you're like me, you've amassed a stash of these. If not, they're abundant at thrift shops and garage sales.

If you’re like me, you’ve amassed a stash of these. If not, they’re abundant at thrift shops and garage sales.

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Picture Puzzles

9 Jan
Presents

Photo by DailyCraft, Flickr Creative Commons

I made one of my favorite gifts ever this holiday.

I wanted to share it with you all December, but I was afraid I’d ruin the surprise. (Some of the recipients kindly read this blog. You know family; they’re supportive like that.)

Even though the holidays have come and gone, I thought some of you might still like to file it  away for future Mother’s Days, birthdays, holidays, etc. I’ve posted it here on Pinterest, too.

As many of you know, a pivotal point for our family in 2012 was the loss of Grandma Shirley. Her absence was all the more piercing at the holidays, when we were so used to seeing her buzzing around the kitchen—even at the ripe old age of 90.

So this year, I wanted to give something positive to members of the family in memory of this incredible woman we all adored.

Shirley and Szaba in holiday red

I wanted to honor the things about her that made us smile (not grieve), three of which were:

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