Entries Tagged as 'Holidays'

BuzzFeed: 21 Mother’s Day Gift Ideas That Aren’t Flowers

April 29, 2015

Because not all moms want stereotypical “lady” gifts.

gifts

See the list on BuzzFeed.

The holiday in review

January 4, 2015

We’re back in Brooklyn after two weeks of Christmas-ing!

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Here are some of the holiday highlights…

Going to Central Market on Christmas Eve morning. We had breakfast there and then shopped for holiday treats and gifts, our Christmas beef tenderloin, and fresh flowers. We did the same thing last year and I was really looking forward to doing it again this year. That place is magical and this trip is my favorite Christmas tradition.

Antiquing. I hadn’t planned to do any antiquing over the break but after Eric suggested it, we ended up spending two days in antique stores. My best find was a set of ivory and gold dishes with 15 (!!) place settings that cost $50. FIVE. ZERO. I figured the price was some kind of a mistake at first. I also scored a 1950s home ec textbook, a few cookbooks, vintage Christmas ornaments and wrapping paper, a 1950s copy of Seventeen, and some other odds and ends. It was a great way to spend a weekend.

Visiting the outlets and stopping for lunch/more shopping at Bucee’s. 

Seeing my family in Michigan and binge-listening to Serial with my mom.

Drinking spiked egg nog, eating store-bought Christmas cookies (my favorite), and watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for the first time.

Other things of note from the past two weeks…

Reading

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League. This book is good (though slow in parts), and as the title implies is really sad. But the author does a good job of keeping you focused on the story in front of you as you’re reading, so you aren’t dreading the inevitable ending. Definitely recommend.

Science…For Her! I haven’t made up my mind about this book yet; I’m still reading.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War. I started this book yesterday; I’m halfway done and really like it so far. I added it to my wish list a couple months ago after reading this post about how the badass author responded to a sexist review. It’s just a fascinating topic and I’m excited to keep reading.

Writing

23 Photos That Prove Sideboob Tattoos Are The Best Tattoos

19 Unique Family Holiday Traditions

36 Families Whose Resemblance Can’t Be Denied

25 Tutorials To Teach You To Fold Things Like An Actual Adult

30 Photos That Prove Makeup Doesn’t Have To Be “Natural” To Be Beautiful. I’ve been thinking a lot about the way incredibly unnatural makeup subverts the expectation that women should be effortlessly beautiful, and I had a lot of fun looking for photos for this post. And now I really want lavender hair.

The week ahead…

Just getting back into the swing of things…I can’t really wrap my head around the fact that it’s January 2015!

BuzzFeed: 20 Truly Horrifying Vintage Holiday Recipes

December 19, 2014

“Oh, bring us a figgy pudding”… with Jell-O, tuna, and mayo.

See the full house of horrors here.

BuzzFeed: 21 Drunk Santas Who Will Ruin Your Childhood

December 16, 2014

See them all here.

BuzzFeed: Here’s What You Should Make Your Family This Christmas

December 13, 2014

Even if you aren’t crafty!

Learn more here.

On feminism & Christmas

December 9, 2014

I unapologetically love Christmas. I love the baking, the music, the gifts and the wrapping, the lights and decor, the cold weather, and the magic of it. A few days after Christmas in 2013, I started reading the book MERRY CHRISTMAS! Celebrating America’s Favorite Holiday by Karal Ann Marling, and (after a looooong break from it) I finished it a couple of weeks ago.

The book is about the history of the material aspects of Christmas: when and why we started wrapping gifts and sending Christmas cards, why Santa looks like he does, why people love miniature Christmas villages, etc. That alone makes it interesting to me…but Marling also lays out a really great case for why exploring this topic is downright feminist. Here’s an excerpt that sums it up nicely (emphasis added)…

“[This book is] about images and the feelings they arouse—the shining ribbons of hope and memory that connect people to themselves, their families, and their sense of nationhood through the ornament chest in the attic, a collection of Christmas village houses, or a green-frosted cookie shaped like Dr. Seuss’s Grinch. And it’s about grandmothers and mothers. Several years ago, when I had just finished a book on the visual culture of the 1950s—a book that looked at the clothes, hairstyles, body language, and the preferred colors for household appliances—one reviewer allowed as how he didn’t think much of the project, but that his mom would probably like it. Well, this is another one for the moms! Although I have looked at a great deal of textual evidence, the material culture of Christmas (or what moms generally do while the rest of us watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’) is the heart and soul of this book and of the holiday it examines.

As a writer who prides herself on having no particular ideological axes to grind, I was startled to discover how few students of the phenomenon have openly acknowledged the creative role of women in inventing, sustaining, and ultimately changing Christmas. Studying Christmas would turn anyone into a card-carrying feminist! Popular culture—the movies, TV—is heavily invested in denying that women and Christmas have any special relationship at all. Jimmy Stewart and the Grinch are the Christmas heroes; Mrs. Santa is relegated to the photo booth in the department store Toyland. When the manipulation of ‘stuff’ takes precedence over the use of words and documents, when traditional women’s skills at shopping or cooking or home decorating take center stage, then the whole subject falls off the radar screen of ‘important’ scholarship. Christmas is OK in its way—the stuff of memoirs, but not of serious research. At best, it is politically incorrect, a pleasant diversion for the few remaining stay-at-home moms. At worst, it is mere trivia.

But Christmas is not just a moms’ festival. It is a domestic one. Christmas reminds everybody of home truths, of the particular sense of comfort and joy that Christmas cards represent with their pictures of ornaments and presents and snug little houses nestled in the snow, a curl of smoke arising from the chimney. It is the one occasion in the fitful progress of the year that calls upon us to consider domesticity and continuity seriously, to ponder the good in the goods arrayed beneath the Christmas tree. If home is less important than the workplace, then Christmas isn’t very interesting. If the items in the glossy holiday catalogs are viewed as so many examples of consumerism run amok, then Christmas is a pig’s feast of capitalist greed. To look seriously at Christmas is to embrace the possibility that quotidian realities, like pleasure and purchase, might be defensible aspects of the human condition.

Sociologists are just about unanimous in concluding that women do most of the grunt work involved in standard Christmas practices: they buy and wrap the presents, trim the tree, plan the gatherings, cook the food. Theodore Caplow, in his groundbreaking studies of Christmas gift exchange and other holiday observances in ‘Middletown,’ U.S.A., documents women’s hegemony as makers and shapers of celebratory rituals. In industrial societies, it is women who define and maintain the sorts of relationships within the family and between the family and the culture that Christmas effectively diagrams with presents and strings of lights. Who are our friends? Our social superiors? What are our obligations to the community? Yet, because Christmas is a family holiday the actual work of mothers and aunts and grandmothers is rarely differentiated from the lesser roles of others. Nor are acts performed for love and not for money commonly recognized as ‘work.’

…Mothers shop for toys and wrap the gifts—and Santa gets all the credit. The Grinch didn’t steal Christmas. Men did, beginning with Clement Moore’s Santa Claus! If the sociologists are right, the patriarchy always seizes positions of power and economic importance for itself. If men make the money and the suet for the pudding, then they, by rights, should be Santa Clauses…despite changes in American families, and in living-room observances of the holiday, the public face of Christmas still wears a big white beard.

Women were the primary custodians of tradition, firmly in charge of the American heritage in its tangible, material manifestations. Sarah Hale made the case for observing Thanksgiving and showed America how to trim a tree. Women saved the homes of the Founding Fathers for national shrines, beginning with Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George Washington, and so created the historic preservation movement. The mainstays of local historical societies, women saved grandma’s wedding dress alongside deeds and wills and documents…they packed away the family pictures, the report cards, the letters—and the Christmas ornaments. They remembered where they mistletoe was always hung, the family recipe for Christmas pudding, the words to all the carols, and what the little ones wanted Santa to bring them. The question is not whether Christmas has been women’s work, but why the modern media have taken such pains to deny the fact. Is it because we imagine women to have kept to their kitchens in the ‘good old days’? Or that we find no value in the work that transpires within the home? Or is it because Christmas is simply too important to have been wrestled from masculine hands?”

I LOVE this. While a lot of advertising seems to pander to moms at Christmas (we see lots of beleaguered moms doing All The Things at the holidays and lots of articles directed toward women about avoiding stress at the holidays) it doesn’t seem to do it in a way that really gives credit, or designates this work as important or significant. It’s more just…an expectation. But “women’s history” is history, and the way people celebrate is a worthwhile way to learn more about a culture.

(Christmas card images from ebay via BuzzFeed)

The week in review: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

December 7, 2014

Earlier this week, my friend Jessica asked me if I’d like to go shopping for Christmas greenery at Union Square Market on Saturday. I was SO excited about this. The weather was complete and total shit, but the flora was just gorgeous and surprisingly affordable. And, like, real-world affordable, not just NYC affordable (which I define as “would make my mother cough-laugh if I told her the price”).

Our apartment is basically made for Christmas decor, so I spent some time today making things look festive with the wreath and boughs I bought (along with the help of some Epsom salt snow).

Easy Christmas decor: Mason jar + Epsom salt + votive

Easy Christmas decor: Mason jar + boughs & berries + strand of Christmas lights

And now, for the biggest news of the week…we now have a couch AND Internet!!!!!

I’m starting to feel like a normal person!

Other highlights from this week…

Reading

I started reading a new book on the plane to New York: The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader, which is the collected writing of Ida B. Wells. It’s been extremely relevant given the conversations about Mike Brown…and Eric Garner…and Tamir Rice… For that same reason, it’s not exactly an upper. Some of the essays and descriptions of violence against black men are deeply upsetting, so I’ve had to pace myself. “Enjoying” is not the right word for how I feel about it…but I am very glad I am reading it.

I also listened to the audiobook version of The Gift of Fear while commuting this week. It was a quick listen and I found it interesting, but also kind of dark.

Jessica, who happens to be a voracious reader, recommended the Elena Ferrante series that starts with My Brilliant Friend, so I’m planning to start that tonight!

Writing

26 People Who Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Build Snowmen Anymore

17 Impossibly Comfy Outfits To Wear To Work This Winter

23 DIY Christmas Cards You Can Make In Under An Hour

Buying

Hangers. Finally! We just kept leaving these off the Target/Ikea list. I’m pretty pumped because I found navy velvet ones that match our bed perfectly at a discount store for super cheap. Everything about this feels fancy. And as you might imagine, the closet looks so much better.

The right avocados. Because dammit, Fresh Direct, the D-cup thin-skinned avocados you sent me cannot be mashed for avocado toast and are therefore useless.

A Spotify Premium subscription for 99 cents. Because yeah, I wasn’t using Spotify before. AND I put my favorite Christmas playlist there for you all. Find it here.

(If you can’t get in on that deal because you already have a Spotify subscription, can I interest you in three months of Audible for $3? Seriously legit.)

I also bought a onesie for an upcoming day at work when everyone will be wearing onesies to the office. Like you do.

Wearing

All my favorite sweaters, which I am SO happy about.

Though I’m still really bad at predicting the weather here and was either too warm or too cold most days last week. It doesn’t help that the subway is basically always 85 degrees with 150 percent humidity.

The week ahead…

I’m having my first NYC blowout! I felt a little meh this week because my hair wasn’t looking its best; it’s time for a shampoo. The salon I used to go to in NYC apparently charges $95 for a blowout (and TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS FOR A RELAXER GTFO WITH THAT SHIT) so I’m trying Drybar for the first time. I’ve been assured that they have stylists who can do black-girl hair so…fingers crossed!

Also, Julia is coming up for a visit! I’m so excited; we’re basically going to eat our way through the city and do some Christmasy things and it’s going to be great.

My favorite Christmas playlist

December 4, 2014

I love Christmas music and happily play it from Black Friday through New Year’s Day. Over the years I’ve acquired a lot of music, but this is the playlist I’ve had on repeat this year.

Photo: House of Hawthornes

Christmas Celebration (B.B. King)

Santa’s Blues (Charles Brown)

Wrap Yourself in a Christmas Package (Randy Greer & Ignasi Terraza Trio)

Santa Baby (Emile-Claire Barlow)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Ray Charles)

Here Comes Santa Claus (Ramsey Lewis Trio)

Merry Christmas Baby (The Dukes of Dixie Land ft. Luther Kent)

Christmas Everyday (Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)

The Christmas Blues (Topsy Chapman & Lars Edegran)

Christmas Is Coming (Vince Guaraldi Trio)

Xmas Baby (Riff Ruffin)

All I Ask For Christmas (Mighty Blue Kings)

Christmas in New Orleans (Louis Armstrong)

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (Big Al Carson with Lars Edegran & His Santa Claus Revelers)

‘Zat You, Santa Claus? (Ingrid Lucia)

Silver Bells (Heritage Hall Jazz Band with Gregg Stafford)

I’ll Be Home for Christmas (Banu Gibson and The New Orleans Hot Jazz)

Please Come Home for Christmas (Papa Don Vappie’s New Orleans Jazz Band)

Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies (Harry Connick, Jr.)

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Ellis Marsalis)

White Christmas (Jon Boutté)

What Christmas Means to Me (Stevie Wonder)

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Topsy Chapman with Lars Edegran & His Santa Claus Revelers)

Santa’s Second Line (New Birth Jazz Band)

Holiday Time In New Orleans (The Dukes of Dixieland)

Merry Christmas Baby (Charles Brown)

Most of these songs can be found on two albums: JAZZ & BLUES CHRISTMAS and Putumayo Presents: New Orleans Christmas. I’ve found it’s a great playlist to listen to while doing Christmas things, working, and commuting, and is upbeat enough for a holiday party. (Just add some Mariah if you go that route; otherwise, the people will revolt.)

Update: Since you can currently join Spotify and get Premium for 99 cents, I did that…and made this my first playlist! I couldn’t find all the songs (like “Please Come Home for Christmas,” which is one of my faves and totally worth buying if you can find it elsewhere), but I found most of them. Enjoy!

Halloween 2014

November 1, 2014

This was the first year in a long time that I didn’t dress up for Halloween. I know, it’s out of character for me, but as I’m trying to coordinate a move across the country right now, it just wasn’t in the cards.

However, I still did a little decorating (including hanging up my trusty wooden bat sign, above) and got into the Halloween spirit in some other ways…

– I scared the shit of myself reading tons of the comments on the Jezebel scary stories contest (plus going back and reading several of the comments from previous years). Seriously, last Friday night I read them for like three hours; it was great. (See the best ones here and here and then read this one from a couple years ago and try not to piss yourself.)

– I read Witches, Midwives, & Nurses: A History of Women Healers, which is a very quick read (it’s only 98 pages long) and is pretty interesting.

– I wrote this post about IRL witches for BuzzFeed. And now I’m so excited to read The Penguin Book of Witches!

– I started listening to the Serial podcast which is SO GOOD. It’s like the best episode of “Dateline” you’ve ever seen—a truly intriguing mystery told in the most gripping way over a series of episodes. I’m not totally caught up, but I plan to listen to episodes 5 and 6 this evening so I can go further down the Serial rabbit hole on Reddit.

– Eric and I went to the perfectly creepy National Museum of Funeral History; more on that to come!

BuzzFeed: 8 Historical Witches You Need To Know This Halloween

October 31, 2014

(Photo: Joseph Baker, c1892 via Library of Congress)

Because there’s more to witchcraft than ‘Hocus Pocus.’ Read more on BuzzFeed!

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