gifts for him

DIY Smoker


I’m thinking a good way to spend Father’s day is to sit around one of these and sip something cold while your pork shoulder gets a good, 12-hour smoke.

If you try this, please come back and tell me. I want to hear about it.


A few more gifts for dad that are small, but not cute. (See part 1 here).

a whole case of miniature things to stow in his glove box

a portable water sterilizer, and cable yo-yos for organizing his office

a good documentary or a super cool book

a ratchet kit and gel to clean anything

a little version of New York

mini laser tag and a spy camerafor the dad who thinks he’s Bond

a mini version of a ceiling fan to put in your tent, portable salt and pepper

mini mini golf

a sweet pair of shades, a pocket lantern

thumbprint cookies from Whimsy & Spice, a pocket fishing pole (this one is pictured, though this onehas better reviews)


While we’re talking Father’s Day food, here’s one more edible surprise for Dad. This is something we put together for my husband’s old college roommate to use at his desk. He really, really likes curry. So we gave him a salt, pepper, and curry shaker, plus a little hand mixed garam masala, to have on hand for lunch breaks. The curry was pre-mixed store-bought, but next time, I’m making my own. I know many men have a spice they favor, and unless it’s garlic, I figure it’s worth encouraging.


Divine Twine

If you haven’t had the chance to stop by the new shop for  Whisker Graphics , make sure you schedule a stop today. So many fun printables and paper goods. Not to mention the famous Divine Twine.


Do you have any wild and crazy plans for World Cup? Playing soccer in the streets? Body paint in the color of your team? Today I have a giveaway that will let you wear your loyalty on your feet.

VirtualCapoeira has carries Havaianas in honor of World Cup (only three days!) in four essential countries, USA, Brazil, Italy, and Mexico. How does that sound for a Father’s Day suprise? And incase you missed me and a few readers gushing in this post, you need to know that havainas are not only super chic, but buttery soft. And they make the best flip flop sound of any sandal I’ve ever owned.


A few favorite small surprises that I’m considering for Father’s Day. Plus a few I’m not considering, but am loving.

a bulletproof hankie “for the promiscuous idealist whom lives in elegant danger” (thank you, MAKE) and another with a map of NY

the 4-in-one tool and the pocket worst case survival guide

a couple things to make dad smell manly

a Morse code kit and the pocket MAKE guide

a pen and pencil all in one and a hip case to put it in

a ping pong set and a pocket fire starter

a pinhole camera kit and a pocket knife worthy of a true mountain man


Seriously. I meet the most thoughtful people with this blog. I didn’t want you to miss some of these ideas. They’re brill. Just a few more picked out from many great comments and emails.

One more from the lovely and clever Jen, about the same lucky girl who got the shoes,

“They have four busy kids and she practically lives in their old mini-van.  She dreams of having a little car just for her to drive around, one with no room for kids :-)  She has been wanting a new car for quite some time, but it’s just not possible.  Her husband rented her a car for 40 hours.  I thought that was super thoughtful and original!  This was probably her favorite gift of the weekend.”

Photo from birthday mastermind Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day, whose celebration you may have read about when I mentioned the paint fight. Both Jordan and Michelle’s friends used

and a few more…

“my husband’s family makes a big poster on the front door and hangs it inside for the big day, and a few days after. the title says ‘What we love about the Birthday Boy/Girl’ and all the family members write something special.”
Thank you, Marta!

“In high school, I posted ‘Happy 18th Birthday Alina!’ fliers on about 20 telephone poles around Alina’s house.”
Thank you, Kristina!

“Hubby’s bday is coming up and I love spoiling him. For his 30th, I bought tickets to the Oakland Athletics game for us and 8 other couples. Each person got a goodie bag – water, peanuts, red vines, all things baseball. At the bottom of each inning I gave each person a small piece of paper that had ‘fun facts’ about him… We will NEVER forget that birthday…”
Thank you, Brooke!

“A friend of mine went out on her birthday to find her workmates had all made up t-shirts saying ‘I Love Jess’, and they gave her one saying ‘I am Jess’ to wear…”
Thank you, Clare!

“I’ve always kept really extensive journals, so for birthdays, I will sometimes make small booklets with pictures of me and the birthday boy, captioned with snippets from journal entries I’ve written about them — kind of like a very personalized version of scrapbooking.”
Thank you, Cyndie!


I make Brent solemnly swear to stay away from this blog during certain times of the year, namely Valentines and Fathers Day. Which is why it’s okay to share this.

I saw this idea on Stephmodo and had to try. But I had a bit of a mishap. The fading effect on the heart was not intentional (i’m not sure if you can tell, but it bleeds). It came from holding a 6-month-old and peeling off the freezer paper while my acrylic heart was still wet and vulnerable. (btw, I first got hooked on freezer paper from this tutorial). Then in my frenzy to fix it, look what happened to the back.

The heart came through, quite cleanly, and on the left side too. I stopped my frenzied washing and found I was pleased with the whole thing. Here’s the final product.

Do you like my new do? It’s a little different than last time and I am still learning how to do a bob.

I’m looking for one or two more Valentine surprises. Ideas? What are you doing? Let’s workshop.

Here are a few all-time favorites.

Am thinking of a romantic gesture from my blog archives. Maybe dessert in bed?

I was also revisiting this post and remembering this great idea for a floating valentine.

And this idea for commemorating every year of your love. Though I’m not sure I could pull it off by Sunday.

Also liked these 14 ideas. Especially the one about the slurpees. And also her idea of photos of places from your romantic history.

Or a book of printed romantic emails. Might do this one. We don’t have so many lovey dovey emails, but a good many about what makes us happy and where our life is going. Come to think of it, maybe this idea could work for friends, not just lovers.

Or another kind of book. A friend showed me a book she made of reasons she loves her valentine. She’s doing 101 reasons in a scrapbook and it turned out so much cuter than I could ever do. But I think I could pull off this version of 52 found via here. I really like the look.

Don’t forget, one more day to stop by here and enter my giveaway.

Deb picked the Ashby Inn in Paris, VA, where she and her husband would spend their days rock climbing.


A few gifts you can leave behind at your friends’ cabin the next time you go, that everyone who visits can enjoy.

1. A nutcracker that doesn’t send shrapnel when you crack the nut (available here in the U.S., don’t hesitate to bring along a bag of chestnuts for roasting over the fire).
2. A pizza cutter that’s will respect your host’s nonstick pans.
3. A bowl that is just begging for popcorn
4. A first aid kit you can grab on the go (and if you have pups on the trip, you can pick up one for them too).
5. Fun mittens
6. A few pairs of thirty below socks (okay, maybe this one would be better if you hosts kept them for themselves)
7. An apron or two that will make a chef out of anyone (I love group cooking, it’s one of my favorite reasons to go on vacation).

I have a lot of valentine fun coming this week, so be sure to stop back and get in the mood. Also, it’s been a while since we’ve had an interview stock full of gift ideas, so you can look forward to one of those too. I also wanted to say a quick thanks to Joy for her kind words last week. These things keep me blogging. Hope everyone’s week is starting out great.


I picked up some new winter picnic gear. Yes, this metal coil can plug into your car and heat up a mug of something yummy (!!) I get easily bored with the same old meals around the table and often like to pack everyone up for a day of adventure and picnics in the car. These chocolate mugs I picked up for my honey at Crate & Barrel. Perfect sized for a really rich cup of hot chocolate on a stick (my latest favorite is making the recipe with dark and white chocolate, and adding cinnamon and cayenne).

And you know, the more I think of it the more I’m dreaming of the perfect winter picnic.

I’d start somewhere isolated but not too isolated. With a chill in the air but still enough winter sunshine to warm my hair and shoulders and back. I’d start with this menu. (Love the part where she says “The girls and I picked the nettles for the soup on the heath.”)

Of course everything would have to be toted on a sledge (who loves sweet paul? i do, i do!)

I’d bring along a cozy blanket.

And a mini hottie.

I’d use this crazy cool kettle. It boils “1.5 litres of water in three minutes using only a handful of twigs, or a dried cow-pat, newspaper, an old bird’s nest.”

And windproof matches to get that cow-pat fire going.
I’d go for this hot cocoa (which I’m dying to try) recommended by this talented woman who I promise you would know a good hot chocolate when she met one.

I might even get fancy and buy a little of this yummy, melty stuff

and broil it on one of these. A pocket raclette grill. I need to tell you about our once-a-week family raclette night. Remind me to some time. It’s been pretty great.

I have one more surprise I’m working out for you, and if it goes as planned, I’m just sure it will become a winter picnic essential. But it may be a week or two. Plus I’m thinking this little gadget will coordinate nicely with a guest post I’ll be doing elsewhere in a few weeks. In the meantime, happy winter.


Merry Christmas


I know I am late but I didn’t want to miss the chance to wish you a merry Christmas and happy holidays. I hope this past week was great for you.

I’ve enjoyed some quiet time catching up on many of your blogs. I loved what Marta writes about having a human Christmas. I find it true that a satisfying Christmas is something that comes with practice at being satisfied. Finally I’ve learned to be open all December long, to be ready for magic moments as they drop in. Some moments you can stage but so many drop in unannounced. And sometimes the unexpected ones are so sweet you feel like it’s hardly fair, that you’re hardly equipped to take it all in. Did I tell you we had snow this December? It’s rare here, the kind of rare that happens once every eight t0 ten years. For the first time ever my kids got to wake up to that magical surprise of snow on the ground. This has got to be one of the best ways to spoil a kid during the Christmas season, second to adoring grandparents.

I had that reflective moment before going to bed Christmas Eve. Just thinking of all the waiting and anticipating going on under my own roof and under other roofs. And in review of the season, I made a few notes for next year:
1. No handmade cards next year. I need a year off. Will you please remind me this come October?
2. It turns out both my husband and daughter are pretty good at gift making. I’d forgotten how great that is to work together to make someone a surprise. I liked it. Yes, I think there’ll be more of this next year if we can manage.
3. I really didn’t mind that things got a little hectic when we found last-minute Christmas service to do. I thought I disliked any kind of hectic, but this was good hectic. I’m not sure I knew there was such a thing.

I managed to snap pics of a couple of those homemade gifts I had help with before they got wrapped. Do you like them?

I’ll try to keep this week short and sweet, though that’s hard for me because I always have so much I want to share with you. I do have a giveaway and a crazy fun shop to introduce you to. So if you don’t mind I’ll share that this week because I can’t wait for next.

In the meantime, thanks for being here, and Happy Holidays.


I had a reader recently ask about good books to give clients. Suggestions, anyone? Here are my suggestions. Does this list make anyone else go weak in the knees? It makes me go positively Jell-O.

-books gifts for clients 1Travel
The Wallpaper City Guides (get them geared to Art Faires, Beaches, Business, or Fashion)
The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World
Great Escapes Around the World
A Road Trip Journal

-books gifts for clients 2Food
Chocolate: A Love Story: 65 Chocolate Dessert Recipes from Max Brenner’s Private Collection (give it with really great chocolate,
of course)
The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion guides
Tea with Jane Austen
Taking Tea at the Savoy
Breakfast, Lunch, Tea
Harlem Really Cooks (more about it here)

Holiday Books
Nutcracker (illustrated by Maurice Sendak)
The Gift of the Magi

-books gifts for clients 3Pretty Pretty Pictures
Pictures of the Times: A Century of Photography from The New York Times
The Most Beautiful Gardens in the World
A Trick Of The Eye: Trompe L’oeil Masterpieces
30,000 Years of Art
Many Are Called (Photographs of Subway Passengers)
The Pictures Generation, 1974-1984
American Quilts and Coverlets
Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800-1920
The Sartorialist

-books gifts for clients 4Short and Sweet
Words Fail Me

-books gifts for clients 5Reference Books of Sort
Webster’s Fashion Color Dictionary
Pictorial Webster’s
A Really Short History of Nearly Everything (Thanks, Maryellen!)
A Journey Through Literary America (via here)
1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die
Bicycle: The History
Sky Atlas 2000.0
The American House
Ultimate Book of Card Games

images not from publishers are via here, here, and here




Just a few ideas to give along with, or instead of, that car wash gift certificate this year. (And if none of these are the right fit, many more ideas here and here).

gift idea for your boss car charged flashlight

This one would go nicely with a car wash. You can plug this sleek flashlight right into the outlet in your dash.

gifts for your bossRainbow file folder
Give a pair of nice earbuds with a gift certificate to for audio books
J Fold business card holder

Crazy-nice pens
USB FlexLight, just plug it into your USB port and there will be light
Give that FlexLight with these swanky versions of puzzle books
Fridge carafes, give them with some good cider, or maybe some nog

-gift ideas for your boss, plantsOr give something living, like this succulent.

-gift for boss, calendar moleskine

Or give the Moleskine desk calendar.Who wouldn’t love a big block of Moleskine? (via here: here) And, if you missed last week’s post on 2010 calendars, you can see it here.

chinese staplerUPDATE 11.13.05 Saw this stapleless stapler over at Simple Song and had to add it to the collection. Isn’t it perfect, make sure to stop by Manufactum and check out the other great items.




Just a few nice things for your feet.

foot massage gift

Don’t you love this little ball? We sent one to my BIL as a congrats gift after he won a race (he’s a very speedy guy). Now I want one for myself. So I can tote it around in my purse and whip out any time I need a quick foot rub. Is that gross?

And here are a few more.
the best slippers as gifts1
3 (i’m in love with these)
4 (they’re called base camp flip flops and they massage your feet after a tough hike. brilliant)
5 (it’s made from leftover flip flop material, how fun is that?)
7 (i want a pair of cozy mules)
9 (this is one serious foot warmer)

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I mentioned earlier that our latest family ambition is Geocaching. It’s turned out to be a great fun. We’ve fit in short hikes on weeknights and longer hikes on weekends, and we’ve found it to be the perfect outing for inviting friends along. The kids love knowing there is a treasure at the end of their hike, but the best part for me is discovering great little nooks and new parts of town wherever we go. It’s kind of like being shown around by a local, almost as good anyway. If you’re interested in trying it out and happen to have an iPhone, you can try starting with the Geocache app. But incase an iPhone isn’t in your short-term plans, or incase you want better accuracy and the made-for GPS maps, I’ve convinced my handsome husband to write a guest post about choosing the right GPS unit. Thanks, Brent.
guide to hand-held GPS units for geocaching

I admit I’m an amateur when it comes to GPS units, but I did work at Circuit City (may they rest in peace) to put myself through college. So I know a thing or two about researching consumer electronics. Before buying our family’s hand-held GPS, I scoured forums and reviews by users to find a unit that was best for us. If you are shopping around for a GPS unit, here are a few things that were important to me.

  • Antenna strength. If you can’t get the signal it isn’t much good. If you are in a car on major roadways this may not be a problem, but if you are hiking in the backwoods you need something that can get a good signal. We are all about hiking in the backwoods, so I had to find a unit that is WAAS enabled. WAAS is a system that uses ground-based stations and a lot of cool math to make the signal up to 5 times stronger than the normal GPS signal.
  • Paperless Geocaching. This is a feature that I really wanted since Geocaching was a big reason I wanted a GPS unit in the first place. This allows you to download coordinates, descriptions, and comments from to take with you wherever you go. When you’re planning a trip, it is great to be able to download clues to a handful of chaches and then hit these at your leisure while you are in the area, if you have any downtime. You will be surprised, even astounded, at how many caches are hidden within the area that you are staying.
  • Maps, maps, maps. This is where they get you. A good hiking GPS unit is not cheap, and it does not come with maps (and if it does the map isn’t necessarily the one you want). You buy maps separately, and you have a choice of (a) road maps or (b) a few types of TOPO maps. Or one of each. And if you buy a TOPO map and want to use it in your kyak, you’ll need to buy a seperate nautical map. The more I look at it the more I think you should pay for a good road map on your GPS, even if you bought the unit mainly for hiking. With the road maps installed, your GPS unit will become quite the handy helper to get you to the trail-head, get you to a restaurant close by, or find a hospital to take care of the snake bite. As for TOPO maps, unless you get one with good detail, it isn’t going to help you much in your grand backwoods adventures. Garmin sells a 24k map of California, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington which seems to be a good buy. But be ready to pay around $100 for a package of maps. You’ll want to be sure it’s the latest version. I’ve been told that the Garmin 100k map isn’t worthwhile (it comes preloaded on some units, like the Garmin Oregon 400), unless you also buy the National Geographic maps to go with it.
  • Easy Interface. Unlike some (ahem, my wife), I like to read the manual with any gadget I purchase. Nonetheless, I wanted a GPS unit my wife could use as well as the kids. I think we did well. Our 6-year-old has a good grasp on running the unit already, and one day I believe my wife will also.

So then, taking all this into account, here’s what we purchased: Garmin Oregon 300.
It has everything I need once I buy a few maps. I like the size, I like that it runs on 2 AA batteries (on a long hike it wouldn’t be fun to have to run back and charge your batteries), and I like the display. So far it’s been a handy unit, and we’re looking forward to toting it along on many adventures to come.

Roam+Shoot Blog headerAnd we have one more announcement to make. We’ve started working on a geocaching documentary. A very small, homegrown geocaching documentary by our little family. You can follow its progress here. We’ve planted a few bugs in geocaches here in northern California. They have these TV charms attached. (We made them, do you like?) We’re hopoing to collect videos from willing geocachers who come across them. Wish us luck.
geocache image

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