ready for the new year with a little tangerine tango


I love it when one of my style constants becomes a trend, like leopard print this season. That’s why I have a great feeling about 2012. One of my favorite colors — reddish orange — has already been declared color of the year by Pantone. They are calling it Tangerine Tango, but lucky for me it looks exactly like the color of the Eames Eiffel chairs we splurged on for our dining room last year. So for the next year our dining room will be THE place to be! Hooray. Imagine the fabulousness when I wear my new Jcrew Minnie pants in Vibrant flame and my Kat von T lipstick in A Go Go red. Yes, friends, I already have all these Tangerine Tango-ish shades at home. I am all set.

If you are not already a orange worshiper like myself, perhaps now is the time to start. I recommend picking up a Pantone color of the year mug, $25, and starting a new tradition. In just a few years, you’ll have yourself a vibrant set. — Angela

Will you be adding Tangerine Tango to your life? Let me know.

From our partners

on our holiday menu: christmas crackers!


Once many years ago, I was fortunate enough to spend a Christmas in London. I fell in love with so many of their holiday meal traditions — roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, sticky toffee pudding for dessert, and of course, lots of booze. But the true secret to a happy holiday meal – no matter what kind of tense family dynamics may be present — is to give everyone a Christmas cracker. I’ve started seeing them in stores here in the U.S. (I love these from Pier 1) and have added them to our must-have list. Here’s how they work: Everyone gets a cracker on their plate, and at some point in the meal (I like to do it early on), each person takes a turn “challenging” the person sitting next to them. You have your neighbor pull one end of the cracker while you pull the other. Eventually the cracker tears open with a loud “pop” and out spills the goodies inside. Everyone gets a surprise toy, a joke and a paper crown hat. It’s really hard to be grumpy when everyone is wearing silly hats and reading corny jokes out loud. In England, Christmas Crackers are serious business. These ones at Harrods cost nearly $500 and come with silver “bling” inside. I’m happy with our plastic tops and paper hats.

What holiday traditions have you adopted? I’d love to hear about them. — Angela M.

From our partners

from beer bottle to beer glass, part one: ‘cutting with string’ fail


If you enjoy beer as much as we do in our household, you probably share the love for microbrews. One of our favorite makers is Portland’s Hopworks Urban Brewery (or HUB), whose Abominable Winter Ale features art (by Martin Ontiveros) as cool as the beer is delicious. We love the Abominable so much, we’ve decided to keep him around by turning those empty bottles into snazzy drinking glasses.

Now, we’re pretty handy, but we don’t own a glass cutter, so of course I Googled for other ideas. I landed on this tutorial on cutting a bottle using string and acetone. As you may have gathered from the post headline, it was not a rousing success. It looks so easy in the video! What did we do wrong?

Step one: Tie a string around the bottle where you want the bottle to be cut.
Step two: Soak the string in nail polish remover (that’s the acetone — we used a small ramekin for this).
Step three: Place the string back on the bottle (wear gloves and keep the open acetone far away from you) and set the string on fire with a match; rotate bottle to distribute the fire. (I did the “one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand” counting thing for between counts of 12 and counts up to 20 and beyond while the string was on fire.)


Step four: plunge the bottle into a sink filled with icy water and apply pressure to both ends of the bottle — voila! the bottle should cleanly snap at the string. Except in our case, when the bottle should do NOTHING AT ALL, not matter how many times you try.

First we tried cotton string: caught on fire, but bottle did not break.

Then we tried cotton yarn: soaked up more acetone, burned better, but bottle still did not break.

Then we tried several rows of cotton twine that looked more like what they use in other videos online): burned well. Burned for an entire minute. Bottle did not break.

These bottles bear mute testimony to how many times we tried:


Next step: Anyone have a glass cutter? — Mary T.

From our partners

the puppy files: introducing…cupcake!


Hello dear readers! It’s Monday afternoon, and though I am a little more sleepy than usual I didn’t want to wait a moment longer before introducing you to our new puppy, Cupcake. (Yes, our four-year old daughter picked out his name.) We picked him up from the breeder on Saturday, and spent about an hour there playing with him and his siblings, and getting some last minute tips on puppy care. It really helped to see where he was coming from. The house was big and warm and cozy — a puppy paradise, really.

We brought him home via a four hour drive that went surprising well. The little guy mostly snoozed contently the whole way. As soon as we got home, he promptly set about exploring his new place. It took him about five minutes before he found a spot to poop. Luckily, it was on the hard floor and was easy to clean up. We spent most of the night laughing and playing, amazed that he was already so good fetching; all those squeaky toys really are actually a ton of fun! The first night in the crate was not so bad. He fell asleep after about ten minutes and only woke up once around 2 am. After a quick, cold visit to the backyard, he went back to sleep until dawn. I thought, this is easy…

That was until last night, which seemed much harder than the first. Perhaps it was finally sinking in that his brothers and sisters were not going to show up? What ever was going on in that little walnut of a brain, Cupcake would not quiet down. After about 20 minutes of unsuccessfully trying to lure him to sleep, we decided to move the crate downstairs. Bad idea. He cried all night! Well, at least until around 2:30 a.m. when I took him outside (burrrrr — when did it suddenly get so cold here?!) and then moved the crate back up to our room. I got him to go to sleep by literally sliding it as close to our bed possible and then sticking my fingers in the crate. Not exactly comfortable for me, but it worked! We’ll try that again tonight. My plan is make sure we wear him out with lots of play before we put him in the crate to sleep.

People keep telling me that dogs learn to love being in their crates but it’s hard to imagine. From the wails he made last night you would think we were torturing him. Please tell me it gets easier! — Angela M.

Previously on the Puppy Files

Getting Our Home Ready For a New Pup

After Losing Our Dear Cat, We Ask: Is It Time For a Dog?

Chosing the Perfect Breed

What to Look For In A Breeder

From our partners

a fuzzy wuzzy holiday: felt takes over

Front door wreaths aren’t the only thing popping up in felt this holiday season. We spotted this lovely felt menorah over at Etsy (via iVillage). This clever design allows kids of all sizes to partake in the lighting of the flames — or rather, the buttoning of the flames! The wool felt is from upcycled sweaters, and is a great new homey tradition. ($60)


Another great seasonal tradition is the mistletoe. We love this one from Each one is unique and comes ready to hang. Though kisses are not included it does come with thanks: Sales of this product help provide an income stream for sheepherders and artisans in the Rajasthan State of India, where it is made. ($26)

From our partners