want it now: mod gingerbread house

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I am always tempted to make a gingerbread house, but never get around to it. Perhaps I’m not inspired by the traditional Hanzel & Gretal cottage style they all have. Well, it looks like I have found my dream gingerbread house, The Modern Gingerbread House. It’s so cute I don’t want to eat it – I want to live in it! With classic mid-century style it comes with a rock garden and garden. Add a few teal and orange gumdrops on the roof, and you’ve got centerpiece any mod homemaker can be proud of. Get the kit at uncrate.com, $80. — Angela M.

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cataloguing the holidays: uncommon goods

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So first it seems like the holiday advertising is all too early, and then we go straight to “It’s right around the corner!!!” I haven’t exactly been shopping like mad, but I sure have been browsing online for presents. My most recent stop was Uncommon Goods, where there’s always a colorful array of super-affordable gifts. This year, the delightfully sleek-looking iPhone Alarm Dock, $40, caught my eye. With a simple, modern design that doubles as a docking station, this is just a tiny bit brilliant, no? Could be great for a certain husband who finally broke down and bought an iPhone that is now attached to him night and day.

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Funny thing is, the husband himself pointed out this Face Mug, $18, to me. With that built-in cookie hole, it’s also pretty clever. Think I’m being gently nagged to provide more treats?

And now, of course, for the person who has (or is that wants?) everything: me. First, these crocheted headphones,$38, look comfy for those work days I need to block out the office chatter.

This Open Sesame! Password Reminder Book, $13, would also come in handy — I probably have 2,000 emails in my archives from different websites where I have had to reset my password.

Finally, the both of us in my house could use these luggage tags, $10, for our frequent travels to visit family. If only we could get a whole set that read “Nothing worth stealing in here.” — Mary T.

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ho-ho-oh-no! a pre-lit tree that doesn’t light

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My oldest was born right before Thanksgiving. Perhaps that’s why my husband, ever the type to think ahead, didn’t point out the obvious when I sent him out to get a narrower Christmas tree that was pre-lit while I stayed home with an infant. All was good the first year, the second, even up to the fourth year. Then strands started going out, one by one. At first we were able to replace a bulb here and there but by last year, we were out of replacement bulbs. So we took a bulb out of the tree and went to three different stores, trying to match the size. No such luck. We borrowed and tried a friend’s As Seen On TV light strand fixer. No luck. So with two eager kids wondering where their tree was, we went out one last time and got a strand and put it over the dead one. Not pretty, but it worked.

This year, I was determined to find a solution. Surely someone out there in bloggy land had one, right? Wrong. I came across only three suggestions that made sense. 1. Buy a new tree, sans lights. 2. Cut all the lights off the tree and restring. 3. Douse the tree in lighter fluid and have a bonfire. The first choice seemed like a waste and as it turns out, finding a tree without lights is harder than it sounds. The third seemed a bit extreme (not to mention the fumes issue) so I gathered up tin snips and wire cutters and got to work. After about an hour and one tall kitchen garbage bag full of cut wires later, the third idea was sounding better. I stuck it out though, and in just under three hours, had a lightless Christmas tree.

For anyone wanting to try it at home, cut, cut cut. I thought at first that snipping and unwinding the wire as I went would be the best way to go. The tree, however, had other ideas. Since the tip of each branch has a looped wire over it, it’s quicker to just cut as many places as you can see, starting on either side of the bulb. Give the tree section a shake and a lot the pieces will fall off. Then start pulling off the wires that remain. It’s not painless, but it’s better than sending a perfectly usable tree to a landfill.

Got a pre-lit tree nightmare to share? Let’s hear it! — Sarah L.

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wrestling over wreaths: fresh, DIY or etsy?

We haven’t even consumed all of our Thanksgiving leftovers, and I’m already feeling like we’re behind in our holiday decorating. I think the first order of business is to find a wreath for our front door (which happens to be pale blue, fyi). I’m torn between buying a fresh one — there are a ton at Home Depot — or going a more crafty route. Someday, I’ll make my own wreath — I’ve seen a ton of great how-tos online — but this year I’m short on time. Etsy is calling my name.

Here are some that have caught my eye.
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Maine wreath, $60. Covered in moss with a tiny moose. Reminds me of our summer vacation.

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This is the one our nearly-4-year old wants. Quelle surprise. It’s made of peppermint sticks and lollipops. $70

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Modern Felt Mistletoe, $80, is elegant.

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Fresh Eucalyptus and noble, would look great on door. Would it smell nice? For $90, I’d hope so.

Do you have a wreath on your door? Any advice when buying a fresh one? Or hanging a crafty number? — Angela M.

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martha stewart invades my holiday weekend

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I’ve always been a sucker for good packaging. Even though I am keenly aware of this weakness, I was still surprised at how Martha Stewart products crept their way into my life this Thanksgiving weekend. First, there was the bird. Our mission was simple: A 12lb fresh turkey — as the Real Simple recipe for cider-glazed turkey I’d decided on, called for. Once we got to the store, I saw a whole bunch of turkeys that were 15lbs, 18, lbs, 22 lbs — but only one that was 12.5 lbs. It was a Martha Stewart Turkey. What?!? Martha Stewart makes turkeys? Who knew. The label assured me it was the turkey of my dreams — free-range, no antibiotics, naturally fed, 2.49/lb. Done, into the basket it went.

After the grocery store I popped into Home Depot to buy some flower bulbs to plant over the long weekend. The unseasonably warm weather means there is still plenty of time to get them in the ground. Again, I found myself lured by some lovely blue and white packaging that bore the Martha Stewart name. Unlike the other bags of bulbs, hers were organized by single colors. She just knows what it is I’m looking for, doesn’t she? So despite feeling slightly duped, I succombed and purchased the MS bulbs.

Can I recommend them? We’ll just have to wait until next spring to see. But I will say, the turkey was a fine bird. — Angela M.

More posts like this.
Things to do with Martha Stewart’s home keeping handbook (besides home keeping)

Are you planting bulbs this fall?

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