alessi’s collectible christmas ornaments: get ‘em while they’re hot!

If decorating a tree is in your family’s tradition, and you’re the sort who swoons over collectible modern design, you will want to hurry up and nab a set of Alessi’s new Christmas ornaments. Though the sets have already sold of stores in the U.S., you can still order them online; our bet is that they are going to quickly become coveted. Made of hand painted blown glass and designed by Marcelo Jori and Massimo Giacon, they bring a bright and playful aesthetic to the classic nativity characters. Our favorite is the little bambino. Check your local store who may still have some individual ornaments for sale, or purchase a set of four for $96 at

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etsy picks: our favorite forever holiday wreaths

Around this time of year, the debate begins: Fresh wreath for the door, or buy one that will last? Our indecision is undoubtedly due to the fact that there are so many great ones to chose from. Here are a few forever wreathes that we are loving on Etsy right now. (And yes, we admit it: We will buy — not make — our wreath!)

Peppermint Candy Wreath, $35 — This might not survive the season intake if hungry munchers get their hands on it, but we love the red and white design.

Modern Paper Leaf, $80 — Elegant and crisp, this modern take says grown up house to us.

Humorous Upcycle Wreath with Vintage Ornaments, $80 — At the other side of the spectrum, this wreath is made up of forgotten toys in need of fresh love. Sure to spring a smile to guests’ faces!

Chevron Ribboned with Felt Flowers, $42 — Combining two of our favorite craft trends, this beauty is lovely but not to cutesy.

Paper Roses with White Snow Balls, about $100 — You might want to keep this one in out of the wet snow. We marvel at its craftsmanship and gorgeous flowers.

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thanksgiving recap: what did you learn this holiday?

There’s always a ton of advice shared before the Thanksgiving holiday — what to serve, how to cook the brid, what to say. But I thought it’d be helpful to take a moment and gather the lessons we learned this past week while they were still fresh in our minds. What worked, what didn’t, what you’ll repeat and what you’ll never do again. Here’s my lowdown on how the feast went in our house:

1. Green Beans Gremolata was unexpected star. This simple recipe from Ina Garten’s new book, Foolproof Recipes, is crazy easy but surprisingly sophisticated. The key is to cook the beans just right, so they are bright green with a little crunch. The gremolata was so simple, I’ll definitely repeat it again soon — just for an ordinary, non-holiday night! You simply mix toasted pine nuts, freshly grated Parmesan, lemon zest, minced garlic and flat leaf parsley together in a bowl and toss it with the hot beans before serving. Presto impresso!

2. A green salad is needed and welcome. One of the only dishes that was wiped clean was the salad bowl. I think everyone appreciated something leafy and light to counterbalance the heaviness of the starches. I served frisee with endive, dried cranberries and roasted pistachios, tossed in a light champagne vinaigrette.

3. Don’t bother with fancy potatoes. I always try something new with the mashed potatoes, but it always goes unnoticed. This year I went decadent and mixed them with half and half and truffle butter. The flavor was a bit to subtle to notice on the plate with everything else, and the turkey gravy covered it anyway. Next time, I’m gonna keep them really really simple, and a touch more healthy by using the water they are cooked in to blend rather than cream.

4. Let your guests contribute.
One of our friends brought along a scrumptious sweet potato dish. It was loved by all and I appreciated having one less thing to do.

5. Dry brining works. I dry brined our turkey for two days in the fridge before roasting. Basically that means I covered it with salt and herbs and let it sit there. The result was a turkey meat that tasted good on its own (even sans gravy) and it was especially moist.

How was your Thanksgiving meal? Did you try anything new? Share your trials and tribulations please!

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post off: when do you plan your holiday cards?

I got an email the other day from my favorite stationer, Sesame Letterpress, reminding me that it was time to start thinking about holiday cards. Though we got short-changed with Halloween because of Storm Sandy, and Thanksgiving is nipping at our heels, I’m going to start planning our holiday season now. Ever since Isadora was born, we like to do a photo card which involves dressing her up in some way. This one below, from two years ago remains my favorite.

She was just under two years old in this photo, and now as a nearly five year old she loves dressing up more than ever. I think we’ll need to put together some kind of holiday-themed costume fast and do a photo shoot at home. The trouble with making your own cards is that you really need to be organized: taking the photo, choosing the design, ordering in time to get them out. Our favorite site for ordering cards remains Shutterfly — because we can upload our own jpg and the prices are great. I will still buy a box of printed cards to send out to professional contacts, and they might very well be these dear deer ones from Sesame.

Needless to say, the art of sending out a holiday greeting card is something I cherish. By December 25th our mantle is filled with cards from friends and family, and that’s just the way it should be.

Do you send out customized cards, or do you buy cute box sets? Tell me your plans!

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happy powerless halloween

Hello dear Shelterrific friends. Sorry for being so quiet the past couple of days, but here at our HQ we are powerless like the thousands and thousands of other East Coasters. Sadly, our Halloween has been postponed. Here’s a photo of our cute little vintage ghost light, back in the days when we still had electricity — like Sunday!

Hope you’re having a lot of fun despite the weather. More soon!

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