super easy holiday ideas

lowes_light_bowl
pillar_candles_lowes

Are you a holiday crafter? No? Me, neither. Still, I was encouraged by a recent poke around the Lowes site, where the holiday ideas look somewhat achievable by my low standards. These pillar candles have that oh-so-chic rustic look but just require a little sanding and staining (something I actually managed to achieve with a garden bench over the summer). Some of these wreath ideas look incredibly easy — check out the “Fresch Cut Snowflake” made of several scraps of fir, simply tied together. (Added bonus: the folks at tree lots will often let you take away scrap branches for free.) I like the Twinkling Christmas Ornament Tree, too, but can I tell you a secret for instant festivity? The bowl with the lights on their main page is the best idea they have. Just get a big glass bowl or a tall glass vase, and fill it with a string of lights or a bunch of shiny ornaments, or a combo of the two. Even sort of beat up round ornaments will look good grouped this way. Voila — you just brought the world’s easiest yet greatly effective holiday decor to your mantle or sideboard. I know; I do this every year. — Mary T.

post off: what’s your best packing tip?

greenaeluggage
If I had a super power, it would be the ability to pack perfectly for any trip. Winter wedding in the Bahamas? No problem. A month-long tour of Italy with a single carry on? Bring it. I’ll take on any trip, anywhere, any time and pack for it flawlessly. I wasn’t always a super packer, though. It wasn’t until I started laying out my clothes by outfit that I finally stopped over packing. I found that if I could see everything I would wear (rather than just throwing items in a bag according to how many days I’d be traveling), I’d pack less and more accurately.  Another fantastic source that honed my packing skills was Mary T.’s folding find OneBag.com. Okay readers, it’s your turn: what’s your number one super-packing tip? –Katie D.

Pictured above: Amelia Earhart luggage. Find some of your own on eBay!

chic online invitations? we tried it!

invite

With the holidays performing their patented surprise attack once again this year, I again find myself (predictably) balancing big ambition and little time. In the interest of realistic planning, this means I had to make a choice: take the time to snail mail invitations to our holiday soiree or holiday cards, but not both. We’ve long been psyched about Pingg.com’s online invitation service so I decided to do some research to that end and was delighted to find Paperless Post. Another alternative to an everyday Evite, Paperless Post allows users to send fully customizable cards and event invitations to everyone on their list for a small fee. The site also offers a handy R.S.V.P. service that allows you to save an address book, keep track of your guest lists and send notes and reminders to invitees. Two standout features include the ability to have the envelopes addressed to each person individually, as opposed to a generic “open your invite” message and the option to assign a number of guest R.S.V.Ps to each piece, allowing the system to tally your count correctly without sending an invite to each individual person. Stamps start at $5 for 30, while custom coins (which allow you to select special customizations like envelope liners and logos) start at $5 for 25. As an added bonus, we earned 25 stamps just for registering, and have the potential to gain an additional 10 for each friend that registers. With my party invitations done and managed online, I’ll be able to devote time to keep up the holiday tradition of popping some handwritten season’s greetings in the mail. Anyone else have a great online card service to share? –Sarah C.

help! what should we do in oahu?

hawaii

Sometimes life hands you a break. A pretty nice one. In the form of a free (penthouse!) condo on Waikiki Beach. Oh, and ridiculously cheap airfare. So, next week, the husband and I are packin’ our SPF 50 and leaving the cold & dark of Seattle behind for Oahu! The trouble is, we’re not too in to the touristy stuff, but we really want to have an authentic Hawaiian experience. We’ve scoped out a few cool things to do, like visiting the Farmers Market at Kapiolani Community College to stock our little condo kitchen, heading out to Kaneohe to see an old friend and up to the North Shore for garlic shrimp and big wave surf watching, but other than that, we don’t have much planned. This is why I’m asking you, knowledgeable readers, to help me plan my trip — what’s cool and funky and “authentically Hawaiian”? I’m talking delicious, can’t-miss eateries, great vintage shops, jungle hikes, etc… I’m counting on you guys for some great stuff — don’t let me down! –Megan B.

vintage postcard image courtesy of Jane’s Oceania

ebay find: vintage christmas cards

poodle
1950s cards
die cut cards

Every year, my friend Dorian sends us one of a series of vintage holiday cards from the ’40s to the ’60s, never before used that are weird, hilarious, or just plain cool. I decided to steal her idea this year and was delighted to find that there are pages of unused vintage Christmas cards for sale on eBay — some great-looking one-offs, others entire mint-in-box collections with envelopes. I bought two entire sets for less than I usually pay for one new set. Not only did I feel like I was being kind of “green,” I can’t wait to decide who gets the nifty 1940s snowman couple, or the Dickensian folks in the sleigh, or the atomic SEASONS GREETINGS logo. Check out all the unused card listings on eBay here. — Mary T.

Listings for what you see here: poodle card, 1950s cards, die-cut cards