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This post is sponsored by Minted

I know, I know.  You’re thinking:  what?  It’s not too late for Holiday Cards?  Is she nuts?

Well, maybe.  But not because of that.  It’s not too late for holiday cards because there’s always another holiday!  Forgot to send out ChristKwanHan cards?  No worries.  Send a little love for Valentines Day.

Better yet, send a little love for no reason at all. (more…)

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invitation viewmasterI’ve been holding off on writing about the invitations to my twins’ B’nai Mitzvah until they went out. But now that it’s done: Ta da!

These totally original, customized viewmasters were made by Image 3D. I can’t even take credit for the idea, Amy from Chandelier Events told me about it. It’s pretty simple, really: you go online, upload some photos, drag and drop them into place, add some text, and Presto Chango: less than two weeks later you get 100 boxes filled with 100 viewmasters for you to send to your family and friends.

I had a little text placement help from a designer friend at Big Sea Design.com, (plus she designed the center label) but it really is DIY — if you’re not, like me, fontically challenged. (what?  it’s a word!)

And while it’s hard to really tell what they look like from this image, imagine this:  the disks come packaged in a viewmaster, so your guests click through the images, with the text “floating” on top of them, while looking through the viewfinder.

Before choosing these, I went through much agonizing.  Since our party is being held at The American Museum of the Moving Image, the viewmaster theme seemed particularly apropos.  What they didn’t seemm, was low-key.  Quite the opposite.  For advice, I went to – where else – Facebook –  and after weighing the advice and comments from about 30 something friends…. I decided to go for it.

The fact is, these super-cool, clever, and original (if I do say so myself) invitations ended up costing about half of what the paper invitations I had priced cost. Even so, the appearance of over-the-topness bothered me.

Still, in the end, I couldn’t resist.  So these were the winners.  And the response has been pretty phenomenal: from “best invitations evah!”  to “These are the best invitations anyone in my family has ever gottten.  Ever.”  to the simple “This invitation just made my day,” the praise was pretty much universal. (of course, people who hate it and think it’s over the top don’t send you emails to tell you that.  But I’ll go on believing nobody felt that way.  I will.)

I’m starting to think that personalized Bar and Bat Mitzvah gifts are the way to go, too. PersonalCreations.com personalizes everything from a baseball bat to a pen and pencil set, to a silver money clip to help keep all those $36 gifts organized.  The only reason they didn’t make it onto my list of Best Bar/Bat Mitzvah gifts is because I didn’t know about them.  You can even use this coupon code to save on purchases, if you decide to take my advice and shop there.

But for now – I’m not worrying about anything.  Not gifts,  not the menu, not the fact that I still haven’t hired a florist, less than two months out. (Oy!)

The invites are out.  Let the chasing of RSVPs begin!

Disclosure:  I was compensated for my mention of Personal Creations.com.  As usual, I was given no editorial direction whatsoever, and all opinions are my own.

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Bar Mitzvah season is upon me.  And I must admit, I usually just write a check.  But gifts can be nice, too.  Especially when they’re one of these: fun, cool, unique, and at every price point.

bar mitzvah 2

An entire classic novel in poster form.    Plus, they make posters out of celebrity twitter feeds.  Super original and cool.

A KeyChain to commemorate their special day.

Lego Mindstorms — because “now you’re an adult aside, big kids still wanna play. (more…)

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I’ve been looking for a new coffee table.  Trolling Houzz and Design Sponge.  And I finally found one I love.

Council Design

Table by Council Design

Sort of a bummer that it’s $42,000.  And no, I didn’t add a zero by mistake.

Ah well.  Back to the drawing board.

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One of my many discount Missoni pieces.

I grew up in a family that never paid retail.  Oh, it wasn’t that we couldn’t afford it.  We could.  We never paid retail because it simply wasn’t done.

Besides, we were Jews, and there was a Loehmann’s nearby. Shopping there was a biological imperative.  I still remember my first trip to the discount mecca.  How could I forget?  The array of bodies in that communal dressing room plagued my dreams for decades.  In one recurring nightmare, a barechested woman of a certain age smacked me in the face with her batwings as she reached for a blouse someone had put on the discard rack.

Oh, wait.  That actually happened. (more…)

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The New Global Table Store on the Upper West Side

I like to joke that I live in the suburbs.  The strollers, the families, the dogs. The big box stores like Staples and Barnes and Noble.  Oh, and subways, and crowds, and apartments and doormen.  See, I am an Upper West Sider.  There is not a whole lot of cache to living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  It’s where the families go.  It’s relatively quiet after 10pm.  If you’re a tourist, you probably wouldn’t come by.  We do have Zabars, where bus loads of tourists stop in to get upscale deli food like smoked salmon, whitefish salad, and a huge variety of cheese and prepared foods.  We have The American Museum of Natural History, which is a great place for families.  We have Central Park and Riverside Park.  And Lincoln Center on the southern end.  But mostly, it’s residential, not a tourist magnet. You wouldn’t come here to shop.

And that would be a mistake.

You are in NY.  Shop like a NYer, why don’t you?  Not a chain store on the list.

Food:Zabars and Fairway are legendary NY food institutions.  Zabars, known mostly for it’s Jewish delicacies, and Fairway for it’s vast selection of…well, everything, and more than worth a visit.

Salumeria Rosi – Less known but no less delicious, this restaurant with a counter for purchases up front offers a vast array of – you guessed it – salamis  – many of them housemade.

Jacques Torres Chocolates, right next door to Salumeria has the best Hot Chocolate in the city.  And pretty fantastic chocolates, too.

Bakery Levain – Scone sized chocolate chip cookie cakes. ‘Nuff said.

Clothing:

Darryl’s – I admit to a bias here – I have been shopping at Daryl’s for more than 20 years.  I bought when I was in college, and I still buy there now.  Darryl has a great eye – price is less important than look – and he knows better than I do what will work on me. He’ll do the same for you.  Personal service, small boutique vibe, and a nice, not –inexpensive but well-priced selection. Love.

Loehmann’s – this place such a NY institution that I’m always surprised when people haven’t heard of it.  Discount discount discount.  Men and women, and a small selection for baby to 6x.  We are talking serious designers and serious bargains.  The hand bags are fabulous.

Barney’s Coop – It isn’t Barney’s.  It’s smaller, more manageable, less intimidating – and most importantly – less expensive.  Not inexpensive.  Not AT ALL.  But still, you might be able to find something you can afford here from a new hot designer.  And you won’t be intimidated by the staff and clients while you buy it. Plus, you’ll be able to say of whatever fabu thing you buy “I bought it at Barney’s.”

The Town Shop – another NY institution, and the best bra fitters in the business.  If you’re shy – don’t come.  But if you don’t mind showing your stuff to get a great fitting bra – this is THE place to go.  I bought my very fist bra here.  And so did just about every other New Yorker I know.

Kids:

West Side Kids – Yes, there is a giant Toys R Us at Times Square.  Who cares? You have a Toys R Us wherever you live, I’d bet.  Try out this neighborhood gem, where they really help you pick out something fabulous, and where you’ll find things from lesser known, quality American and European toy manufacturers.

A Time for Children – A portion of proceeds from this lovely shop go to support the Children’s Aid Society.  And the young staff are all teens being trained on how to run a business, do books, work with customers, etc.  Add to that a well selected collection of clothing, books, toys and truly fabulous gifts for baby – with great prices and lots of little things you can just pick up – and you can’t miss.

Home:

Gracious Home – it’s expensive. I’ll admit it.  But a lot of the time, it’s worth it.  The service is great.  They have everything for the home.  And they will do whatever they can to help you, to get you what you need, to ship it, take it back, help you figure out what you mean when you say “You know – that thing, you know…the thing you use?”  They’ll know.

Global Table – Incredibly affordable, super chic table ware, vases, bowls and more. This is a new addition to the Upper West side, and probably where I will buy all of my gifts for the next…forever.

And that’s not even talking about the shops at Columbus Circle, the independent boutiques that run the length of Columbus Avenue. Have fun. Stroll around.  You might be the only tourist.  And sometimes, that’s the best shopping of all.

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WP_000254We’ve had such a run unseasonably warm weather here in New York, it’s kind of hard to complain, even now that it’s gotten cold.

But I’m not going to let that stop me. (more…)

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