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Niffy’s Nifty Gifty

21 Dec

Since most people do their holiday shopping last minute, why not do a last minute gift guide? Presenting Niffy’s Nifty Gifty…

For Your Sister Who Is Very Beautiful, Smart and Funny

For the smart, funny and beautiful sister I recommend getting her something that you want so that you can borrow and or steal it at a future date. If you are like me and inventoried your sister’s entire wardrobe, then you know the pieces she is missing and the holidays are the perfect time to fill those holes. This year I filled the “everyday day to night black bag” hole.

On sale at Barneys, click to buy

Alternative to the black bag is a Clarisonic (which I got her last year) and she got me this year. See – buy things you want for others and they may come back to you!

Clarisonic Mia in Jaguar, click to purchase

For the Parents Who Have Everything

Shopping for my parents is hard – they always say they don’t want or need anything. Even the most obscure gift, like the oyster shucking knife I was going to buy my dad, is shot down because he already has two. This predicament makes gift giving especially challenging so this year I decided to give them the gift of memories in the form of a holiday calendar filled with old family photos.

Wall calendar from Pinhole Press, click to purchase

Alternative to the old photos calendar is matching pajamas for everyone in my family which I have done in years past. It seems dopey but its actually really fun to sit around all wearing the same outfit, its like a cult!

Pajamas from J.Crew for the whole family, click to purchase

For The Boyfriend Who JUST Signed Up For Gilt Groupe

There comes a point in every girlfriend’s life when she asks herself, “am I willing to date someone who wears mesh shorts in public or am I going to have to buy him some pants?” For me that question came four years ago and now I am dating a consistently fashionable guy. Since I have created this monster, feeding the beast is important in order to consistently reach new sartorially heights. A sporty yet stylish jacket is the perfect gift that harkens back to those mesh short days without actually reverting to them.

Arc'teryx Jacket, click to purchase

Alternative to the spiffy jacket is a re-imagined movie poster of one of his favorite films in an updated style.

Topgun movie poster from Moxie Creative, click to purchase

For The Best Friend That Continues To Abuse The Blue Mercury Samples Policy

Best friends are easy to shop for because you just get them what you want since you are so much alike and bff forevaaaaaaaaa! But seriously there are so many eligible best friend gifts its hard to pin them all down. Below are a smattering of choices for the special gal in your life.

Lip scrub and balm from Blue Mercury, click to purchase

Pom pom beanie that coordinates with her hair color from Calypso, click to purchase

Cuisinart immersion blender for winter soups, click to purchase

For Everyone Else on Your List

Don’t know what to get your landlord/mailman/professor? This apple. Trust me. It is delicious, impressive, inexpensive and all around incredible.  One year (ok every year) I have ordered myself one and its my favorite holiday tradition.

Giant caramel apple from Williams Sonoma, click to purchase

Hope everyone has a very happy holiday season and enjoy all your gifts both material and immaterial!

Carving Out a Fun Afternoon

31 Oct

This weekend my friend invited me over for a pumpkin carving party. Early on I struggled with my pumpkin until I was rescued by my friend Emily who has a hidden talent as a carver. She scooped and sculpted my pumpkin, bringing my little frog cauldron to life.

My pumpkin, with the aid of a stencil and a patient friend helping me along the way

Others were more talented than I, but my natural competitive spirit was dulled by the abundance of cider and gingersnaps provided by our lovely hostess. All in all it was a great way to spend a crisp Fall Sunday and recover from the spooky storm that struck the night before.

A few of the other pumpkins created

The pumpkin carving crew

Happy Halloween!

Falling for Terrain

13 Oct

Finally its autumnal enough to post these pictures. I took them during a family trip to Terrain at Styer’s, a charming garden and home store with a restaurant right outside of Philadelphia.

I suggested we go there for brunch for my mom’s birthday and was sooo pleased with myself that I had introduced the entire Spector brood to this adorable needle in a haystack. Until I realized the entire enterprise was owned and operated by Anthropologie!

The taste of the most amazing blueberry pancakes I had at brunch is still bitter in my mouth from this corporate ruse. I should have known the place was too well curated for a mere mom and pop shop.

Eventually I got off my high horse and succumbed to this Anthropologie branded bliss. The place was oozing fall and my sister and I gleefully perused the homewares and garden supplies for over an hour after our brunch. (Do I need mums? I need mums. Ill take one in every color!) It was like being in a Nancy Meyers movie for the afternoon.

My sister spent $200 on velvet pumpkins for her “autumnal tablescape.” Seriously, that’s how you talk when you are at Terrain, its unavoidable. Stop by for brunch and some shopping, you won’t be disappointed:

Terrain at Styer’s
914 Baltimore Pike
Glen Mills, PA 19342


Reading Rainbow

28 Mar

I am fortunate enough to have built in bookshelves in my bedroom. Before you get too jealous, you should also know that I technically live in the den, have no windows in my 10 x 10 cell, and my “closet” also houses the water heater.

But I do have those lovely bookshelves, and recently I realized I was squandering their potential.

I guess I need to

I decided to redecorate my bookshelves based on color in order to maximize their impact and make them a focal point of the room, rather than a haphazard smattering of books, shoes and trinkets. This process made me realize how little I actually read since I have so few new books.

New priority – read more!

Here are some other inspiring bookshelves from around the web, all from more voracious readers than me.

A pug would definitely make me read more

Via Lonny

Via Lonny

The Big Easy – Goods and Wares

25 Feb

It’s no secret that I am a shopaholic in my regular life, but on vacation I really kick it into overdrive. I like to view browsing, perusing or shopping as an anthropological study of what’s going on in the place I am visiting, it’s cultural really.

If only my credit card company understood (just kidding AmEx I love you and I didn’t forget that we have a date March 20th).

I have begun to rely on the eat shop guides, as they fulfill my main goals in life. There is only one problem with these cute little books – they are filled with outdated yet crucial information. A great example is that many stores are closed on Mondays and even Tuesdays to deal with the weekend hangover so common in the Crescent City.

I will attempt to give you my own version of a New Orleans shopping guide and point you in the direction of blissful finds from the Big Easy.

Magazine Street

Magazine Street is ground zero for shopping in New Orleans. It is a great strip about a mile long right off the Garden District, that has boutiques, bars, coffee shops and restaurants. We spent an afternoon there walking around, popping into Rendezvous Tavern for a delicious Bloody Mary, enjoying gelato at Sucre, and wandering in and out of local shops.

Sucre, a sweets shop and gelateria on Magazine street

New Orleans has amazing home wares, antique finds and what I like to call junking – lots of crap that might unearth a diamond in the rough. Because I love a good dig, I headed to Magazine Antique Mall looking for a find.

Champagne glasses from the 1960s

How amazing would these lanterns look lining the pathway in my fictitious Southern garden?

Mason jars for all your pantry needs

Alas I took none of these items home with me because I live in a closet, but I did manage to make up for it at a few other shops.

One thing I noticed about New Orleans clothing stores is just how inexpensive they are. Many items are to be had for a bargain, even in the chicest shops in the city. A few of my favorites are Hemline and Naaz, both of which carry cute clothes by companies I have never heard of, as well as more popular brands like DVF, Vince, Trina Turk, blah blah blah the usual suspects.  I purchased a dress at each shop and can’t wait to wear them in the warmer months.

You might be wondering, where was my boyfriend during this spree? A lacrosse game occupied most of his time but we did manage to find some dude duds at StyleLab, farther down Magazine Street.

French Quarter

Although Magazine Street is the shopping spot in the city, the French Quarter does have some great stores, you just have to toss a few sloshed tourists out of the way to find them.

I could have spent hours in Bourbon Perfume, where they make custom made scents that were utterly intoxicating.

Bourbon Perfume's signature scent

The antiques shops on Royal Street were incredible, tons of salvaged pieces for both the interior and exterior of your home. Folks from New Orleans take their ironwork very seriously and it is a trademark of homes in the region. In my mind I have purchased a second home in New Orleans, which I will outfit with ironwork from bygone eras.

This would make a great installation on a bare wall

Variations in decorative iron for exteriors

Recovered from homes damaged by Katrina and Rita

I had such an awesome time going into the shops along Royal Street, the items inside really do tell a story. I highly recommend getting lost along this three block stretch and daydreaming about your imaginary home along the Bayou.

Stay tuned for my final installment of my trip, tours along the Garden District and the Ninth Ward.

***One note about my photos. I used my iphone exclusively but they regular camera stopped working during part of our trip so I had to rely on the Hipstamatic app. Apologies for inconsistencies.

Mood Elevators

11 Jan

It’s dark when I wake up, when I walk home from work and to top it all of its freezing.

I find myself looking at luxury vacations on Jetsetter, hoping to warm up but I have found something better and more economical to lift my mood, the art site 20X200.

20X200 sells inexpensive prints and helps artists reach a wider audience and connect with art lovers – their goal is to turn any art lover into an art collector. Each week the site introduces two new editions a week: one photo and one work on paper, and most are available in 3 or 4 sizes to suit your taste and space.

Here are some of my favorite colorful prints to brighten up your winter.

Stay Icy by Martha Rice

Praia Piquinia by Christian Chaize

Ideal Bookshelf 101: Robert Verdi by Jane Mount

Sugarcoat by Michelle Hinebrook

Terry Richardson at the Zoo

21 Oct

I am not a huge fan of animals in generally (I know, I am a monster) but I couldn’t resist these cute animals shot in the style of Terry Richardson. The photographs are in fact not shot by Richardson (thank God) but by talented photographer Sharon Montrose who in addition to shooting wild animals also does portraits of pets.  These photos would make the perfect gifts around the holidays, or a gift to myself all year round. I have my eye on several of the giraffe prints but also can’t resist the little porcupine. Enjoy!

To see more photos or to purchase a print – which are all reasonably priced – check out The Animal Print Shop.

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