image

Pen the Perfect Thank You Note

The last cookie has been consumed, the ornaments are packed away and the one… >

Pen the Perfect Thank You Note

The last cookie has been consumed, the ornaments are packed away and the one thing left to do to wrap up this holiday season is to give thanks. If you’re anything like us, you may have been staring down that stack of thank you cards for days now, which is why we’ve come up with five tips to get you started.

Think outside the box.
Every
sweater, teacup and candle deserves a thank you note, of course, but don’t forget to acknowledge the intangible gifts—the black-tie party hosted by your cousin or the neighbor who helped carry your tree up three flights of stairs.

It’s the thought.
We admit it: we’re hopelessly devoted to fine stationery, but a sheet of elegant paper or a postcard is just as lovely.

Novel-writing not required.
The basic formula for thank you notes is this: 1. Greet the giver. 2. Thank them for the gift. 3. Write a line or two about why you adore the gift. 4. Add another line about your relationship with the giver. 5. Thank them again and close with your regards. That’s it—short and sweet!

Find that one good thing.
Can’t stand the gift? Don’t panic! Pick one feature you kinda-sorta like about it—maybe that crazy coat from Aunt Mo has fabulous shiny buttons—and focus on that.

Better late than never.
We try to get our thank you notes finished within a month, but sometimes the sun is out, the dog needs walking, there’s something irresistible on TV and, well, life happens. Which is why we say, better late than never! A show of gratitude is always appreciated, no matter when it arrives.

image

In the Stars with Mara Hoffman

We can’t help but feel a bit spiritually curious this time of year—wondering what’s… >

In the Stars with Mara Hoffman

We can’t help but feel a bit spiritually curious this time of year—wondering what’s in the stars, in the cards and in store for us for the next 12 months. For an otherworldly perspective, we turned to designer Mara Hoffman, whose swimwear is brilliant with mystical motifs, for some astrologically-minded intel on her collections, her inspiration and what 2014 will bring.

image

We have to ask: What’s your sign?
I’m an Aries with a Capricorn rising and Leo moon.

You’re a big fan of tarot cards and astrology. Can you tell us how that influences your designs?
The theme always encompasses the cosmos, whether that is directly or indirectly. Our upcoming Fall ‘14 collection is probably the closest to a direct reference as we’ve done. We used a lot of astrological visual motifs.

Is there a predominant sign that you find yourself attracted to as friends or coworkers? For example, is everyone in your office a fire sign or a water sign?
Our office is a good mix of elements. We have a big Aquarius group and as well as a few other Aries. I also need some strong earth signs like Capricorns to take care of serious business. As far as my friends go, my besties are a mix of Aquarius, Pisces, Gemini and Taurus.

Any major astrological events we should take note of this year? Mercury in retrograde: real or not real?
Watch out for the three times that mercury will be in retrograde! It’s definitely real!

What do you find most visually inspiring? Are there any shapes or signs that you find yourself coming back to time and again?
I’m constantly inspired by geometrics and nature motifs. In every season I always come back to geometrics and animals.

Which zodiac sign do you feel is most strongly tied to Anthropologie?
Clearly, Aries are definitely tied to Anthropologie because I love Anthro! I see the Anthropologie girl as a dreamer, so I would say Pisces, Libras and Cancers would be particularly drawn to it.

image

Illustration by Mara Hoffman.



image

Make It Happen: DIY
Hanging Calendars

Ready for anything and open to adventures big and small, a crisp new calendar deserves… >

Make It Happen: DIY Hanging Calendars

Ready for anything and open to adventures big and small, a crisp new calendar deserves a place of honor, don’t you think? Before we started filling in 2014’s pristine pages, we tapped Ashley Rose—the crafty blogger behind Sugar & Cloth—for a little DIY inspiration. Using just a clothes hanger and basic art supplies, she transformed Rifle Paper Co.’s already darling calendars into wall-ready works of art. Hang one over your desk, kick up your feet, and start planning a year to remember.

image

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

Large piece of sturdy matboard
Paper mache or cardboard box with lid
Metallic gold sheets
Clamp-style pant hangers
Metallic gold spray paint
Scissors
Scissors
Hot glue and gun
Painter’s tape
Spray adhesive
Monthly calendar (we used Rifle Paper Co.’s Secret Garden hanging calendar)
Weekly desk calendar (we love this one from Rifle Paper Co.)

HOW TO MAKE IT

image

First, cut a piece of the metallic gold sheet to be just a bit bigger than your calendar pages. For the smaller desk calendar, you can cut the sheet to be 10 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches; for the larger monthly calendar, cut the sheet to be 11 3/4 x 17 1/4 Inches. (If you’d like a larger gold border, make the sheet a bit wider.)

image

Cut pieces of the matboards to the same size as the metallic sheets; use spray adhesive to mount the sheets to the matboards. (The matboard will give the hanger clamps something substantial to hold onto.)

image

Spray paint the hanger hook metallic gold. (Keep things neat by taping off everything but the hook, then peeling the tape away once dry.)

image

Once you have the gold metallic sheets mounted to the matboards and your hangers prepped, hot glue the top edge of the metallic board to the inside of the clamp hanger.

image

Now, all you have to do is slip your calendars in the clamp holds to have everything pretty, tidy, and ready for the year ahead.

image

image

Spruce It Up: Bathroom Refresh

The new year is upon us—it’s time to pack up the red and green holiday towels and put… >

Spruce It Up: Bathroom Refresh

The new year is upon us—it’s time to pack up the red and green holiday towels and put them in storage where they belong. It’s a great opportunity to start fresh and buff up our favorite space for primping, pampering and relaxing—the bathroom.

image

Layer on the luxe.
Sometimes the littlest switches make the biggest impact. Try a towel that’s a linen-blend or a high gram weight—not only do they look stunning, but they’re softer and more absorbent as well.

Lighten and brighten.
Soft neutrals are a breath of fresh air. It’s easy to mix prints and textures within this palette—understated shades keep the overall look from becoming overwhelming.

Coverage is key.
Rugs are another great way to incorporate prints into your bathroom, and they also add coziness to tile floors.

Shine on.
Copper accents warm up shades of grey and white, while adding just enough gleam to keep things interesting.

Store it in style.
Wicker baskets are so last year. If you have a larger bathroom, a dresser is a great place to store linens, makeup and other odds and ends. As a bonus, you can also line the top with mirrors, jewelry trees and photos from your last beach vacation.

image





image

Raise Your Glass: New Year’s Eve Toasting Tips

Picture this: it’s New Year’s
Eve and you’re dressed up in your finest… >

Raise Your Glass: New Year’s Eve Toasting Tips

Picture this: it’s New Year’s Eve and you’re dressed up in your finest, your glass is overflowing and you’re gathered with your nearest and dearest. What’s missing from this scene of winter revelry? A toast, of course! It’s the perfect kickoff to the year ahead. We’ve consulted a bevy of experts—mixologists Eric Prum, Josh Williams and Brian Van Flandern, as well as etiquette gurus Lizzie Post and Elaine Swann—to get tips on creating a toast that’s top notch.

image

Switch up your sips.
Authors of cocktail book
Shake, Eric Prume and Josh Williams, prefer to dress up classic champagne on New Year’s Eve. “Add sugar, bitters and lemon peel to your bubbly—it makes for a visually interesting cocktail, and it also has the bonus of sprucing up cheaper champagne. Finish by adding a raw sugar cube to sizzle at the bottom.”

Set the scene.
Traditional black and white decorations can be quite sophisticated, but why not try something different this year? “I like to decorate with vintage records,” says Josh. “My dad has a cool collection of vinyl that he amassed when he was my age. They’re a good reminder of years past.”

Timing is everything.
“If you’re having a dinner party, the best time for a toast is right after the meal is served,” says modern etiquette expert Elaine Swann. “If a meal is not your main focus, begin your toast closer to midnight, but be sure to leave enough time that you don’t get caught at the countdown.”

image

Kick it off.
“The host should either start the toasting or be the last one to speak,” says Elaine. “If you go the latter route, think about designating one or two people in advance to say a few words—this will get the ball rolling and encourage others to chime in.”

Don’t try to be the funny gal.
“Most people want to be funny, but not everyone is,” says Lizzie Post, great-great granddaughter of Emily Post and co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th edition. “If you do use jokes in your toast, make sure they’re appropriate—it’s never a good idea to embarrass your guests. When in doubt, go the sentimental route.”

Keep it short and sweet.
No one likes a speech that drags on and on, especially just before midnight when everyone’s mind is on dancing, kissing and celebrating. “A New Year’s toast should be no more than a minute long,” says Lizzie. “The best toasts are usually somewhere in the three to ten sentence range.”

Make it a group effort.
Brian Van Flandern, author of Craft Cocktails and Vintage Cocktails, likes to get the whole party involved: “The host begins by holding a bottle of wine or champagne and sharing a New Year’s resolution with her guests. She then passes the bottle to the person on her left—this way the whole table gets to share their resolutions or say a few words.”

image



         Planning your own toast? Stock up on clinkable glasses and bar supplies.

image

A Cup of Kindness Yet:
The New Year’s Eve Bar

Noisemakers or pots-and-pans? Guests dressed up to the nines or down… >

A Cup of Kindness Yet: The New Year’s Eve Bar

Noisemakers or pots-and-pans? Guests dressed up to the nines or down in jeans? A sit-down feast or Chinese take-out? Many elements of your New Year’s Eve party can be made to your liking and decided on a whim, but there’s one ironclad rule that we stand by: a well-planned, well-stocked bar is a must. Not sure what to supply? Start with vodka, gin and bourbon and you’ve likely got a good portion of your guests’ favorite sips covered. Build on that with rum and whiskey. Tequila is great to offer to those who are perpetually longing for summertime. And don’t forget the mixers—keep club soda, tonic and juice on hand in abundance. Once the bar is furnished, all that’s left to do is lower the lights, welcome the guests and tune up your pipes for a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne as the clock strikes 12. Happy New Year!

image




image

It’s 5-O’Clock Somewhere: Glögg

As your holiday preparations come to a close this weekend, we’re whipping up… >

It’s 5-O’Clock Somewhere: Glögg

As your holiday preparations come to a close this weekend, we’re whipping up our most festive Friday cocktail yet: glögg. This universally cherished mulled wine has about as many variations (and spellings) as it does fans, but for our recipe, we went with a traditional Scandinavian glögg. Adapted from the Swedish word for “glowing,” glögg has a history that dates back to 16th Century Sweden—where King Gustav I Vasa even had an official glögg-maker on his royal court. Nowadays, a mug full of this spiced concoction warms hands and hearts aplenty with notes of orange, almond and a bold brandy finish.

image


WHAT YOU’LL NEED

1 bottle red wine
1 bottle port
1 cup brandy
2 cinnamon sticks
8 cardamom pods
3 star anise
10 whole cloves
1 small orange cut into thin slices
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1 small piece of ginger cut in half
3/4 cup turbinado sugar

HOW TO MAKE IT…

Combine the wine, brandy, cinnamon, anise, cardamom pods, cloves, orange slices, raisins, almonds and ginger. Warm over low heat; be sure not to boil. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Cover and let mull over very low heat for one hour. Strain the spices from the mixture and serve warm.