Author: Kristen Chase

Kiva + Etsy: The perfect handmade match to support the artists you love

As huge supporters of the handmade movement, we’ve been fans of Etsy since about day one. And now that they’ve teamed up with the amazing charity Kiva, well, let’s just say if you share our passion, this is an effort worth getting involved with.   Similar to Kiva’s existing program which helps provide loans to borrowers in need from around the world looking to start a business, the new Kiva partnership with Etsy now provides artisans with access to interest-free microloans through a program known as Kiva Zip. You can provide a loan to a slew of artisans looking...

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How do you store towels and sheets? Martha Stewart knows!

A couple of weeks ago, I moved from Atlanta to Philadelphia and discovered that my new lovely rental home did not have a linen closet. I was about to just stuff my family’s towels and sheets in my own closet when I had the opportunity to ask Martha Stewart (yes, her!) a question and voila, I knew exactly what I needed her help with. Take a peek at her smart suggestion, as well as what I came up with to help make her magic happen in my own home. –Kristen   Now, I love the idea of folding towels...

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Gorgeous accessories we bet no one else will have

One of the many things I love about online shopping is that you can find all sorts of cool hidden gems in faraway places without having to actually go there. And that’s exactly what happened when I stumbled upon The Little Drom Store. Now, if you happen to be in Singapore, you can pop into their storefront, but if you’re like me, you’ll be shopping from their online shop, which is full of gorgeous, unique baubles. I’m completely smitten with these fabulous knitwear necklaces (though they’re not actually made of knit). What a cool style statement over a white...

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A hostess gift that she’ll treasure forever. Or she’d better, because she can’t resell it.

Sometimes a great bottle of wine or a handmade candle makes the perfect hostess gift. But when you need something extra special, I think I’ve found a winner. This custom personalized wooden serving tray is simply gorgeous. A fabulous hostess, housewarming, or wedding gift, the tray is handcrafted from reclaimed cherrywood and features lovely design details, like the custom engraving with the names of your choice and the rope handles. If you see a different design in the shop that you’d prefer, just convo the artist. They’ll whip up exactly what you’d like to make this personalized gift even...

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Hearts.com: Gorgeous accessories for a cause. Is there a better kind?

I hardly need an excuse to shop for new jewelry or handbags, but hey, when they support an amazing cause, I have to buy them, right? Here are a ton I’m coveting for more reasons than one. Hearts.com is a new-to-me site that works with more than 2000 artisans all over the world to make a positive impact on world issues and support people who need it most. And their original designs actually help the environment too, thanks to low-impact manufacturing processes and responsible materials. Here’s just a few of my favorite items. Be sure to click over and...

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The coolest embroidery kits just for kids, hold the needle!

With all the fun my oldest daughter had making the DIY cross-stitch keychains and necklaces I found on Etsy, I can’t wait to try this awesome embroidery project with her.   This amazing DIY embroidery kit for kids is perfect even for your younger but still dexterous kids since it doesn’t require a needle. Instead, it uses scoubidou tubes (don’t ask me to pronounce that!), which are thin, plastic “threads” that are easy for littler children to manipulate through the wooden holes.    And the final product, with a little help from an adult to attach the metal hangers,...

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French stripes from skip*hop, ooh-la-la!

My obsession with stripes runs deep, so much so that I’m coveting yet another  skip*hop diaper bag (love them!) even though I’m waaaay past the diaper bag stage. But…but…this one is limited edition! Snatch up the Duo Luxe French Stripe bag while you can. This looker features everything we’ve always loved about skip*hop bags, but in a cool limited fabric pattern and with rolled handles, which makes it look a bit swankier than some of their other choices. But just because it looks stylish doesn’t mean it’s not functional. You can still wipe it clean, and pop it easily...

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How to build your own monster trucks without having mastered pre-calc

All of my kids–yes, even the girls–love to play with toy cars, but there’s only so much you can do with them, right? That’s why I’m in love with this new line from Manhattan Toy that lets them unleash their creativity on all things four wheeled. The new MOTORWORKS line of cars and trucks has been in heavy play rotation around my house, and I’m not surprised considering it gives kids the opportunity to build and create the vehicles they’ll race on your kitchen floor (or is that just my house?). The cars and trucks like the Monster Truck...

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Before Midnight review: Love conquers all. Or mostly all.

Last week, I was treated to a sneak preview of Before Midnight, the newest movie in the popular now-trilogy starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. If you’re like me, you won’t believe it’s been 18 years since they first met in Before Sunrise, then met again in Before Sunset. 18 years, people!    As Hawke, Delpy, and director Richard Linklater discussed at the preview I attended, the hope is that each movie stands on its own, even though I’m hardpressed to find friends who haven’t seen at least one of these come-of-age movies.  Fan or not, if you’re curious...

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7 of the coolest swim trunks for boys. Bring it, summer!

Our neighborhood pool opens at the end of this week (whoo!), so I’m busy tracking down stylish, swim trunks for my son that will last us all summer long. While last week we found some great swimsuits for girls, for those of you with a boy like me, here are some of my favorite boys’ swim picks for the upcoming pool days and beach trips in your near future. We’re big fans of the quality and fit of the Red21Boys’ swim trunks. I’m digging the Jack Thomas plaid for your preppy son, especially since he could just toss on...

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A whole new kind of personalized gift from the kids from Hiho Batik

I’ve been a longtime fan of the fun, spirited kids clothing by Hiho Batik since back when we started Cool Mom Picks. (Yes, even before the Obama girls were photographed wearing their tees.)  But I think I might love them even more now that I discovered their Personalize It! custom feature.   Now you can get their amazing handmade Batik products using your own kid’s artwork. What a brilliant gift idea! Just follow the directions carefully on their site, choose a t-shirt, a tote bag (awesome teacher gift!), or throw pillow, and then they’ll take your child’s precious creation...

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The eco beach totes that look like summer heaven

With our family living at the pool all summer long, a strong, sturdy tote bag is a summer must-have. This year, I’m thinking of switching from my standard canvas bag to one of these amazing totes made from recycled sails. Sea Bags are an old favorite of ours, designed and crafted in Portland, Maine from recycled sails and the result is a tote you’ll use for years to come. I mean, is there anything sturdier and weather-resistant than a sail? I love thier fresh new designs for this summer like the Chain Design Tote Bag, which features a unique, bold...

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Keeping them busy all summer long with fun kids’ games and crafts

Summer break starts in two weeks down here in Atlanta (yes, two weeks!), so I’m already stocking up on cool kids’ games and activities to keep my kids occupied.   My go-to stop on the web: mom-owned Cattiwampus, where I always find a few keepers I know my kids (and yours) will love. Like this Janod Memofrutti game. My kids are already big memory game fans, but this one has a unique twist I know they’ve never experienced: each piece is scented!   For my older kids, I’m picking up these awesome Magnetibook sets, complete with 200 magnets and...

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Mother’s Day gift alert: Wear your kid’s John Hancock around your neck

I’ve seen lots of pretty name necklaces, but none made out of your kid’s actual handwriting, like these. Now I realize the intention of the Signature Necklaces by brevity is that you’d wear your own John Hancock right around your neck, which does make a pretty unique statement — like, hey, I have a doctor’s signature without the medical license to go with it. (Yes, mine is more like a bunch of scribble than anything cool.) So instead, I love the idea of having your kid’s signature (or name, written by them) turned into a stainless-steel or gold or...

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Earrings that give a school lunch to a child in need

I’ve been a huge fan of Lisa Leonard jewelry since we first featured her on Cool Mom Picks many moons ago. But now she’s launched a simple, crazy affordable line of pieces that help support a wonderful cause. Lisa’s new hope{full} line is fair trade and sustainable, giving work to Ecuadorian women and helping build their community. Each pair of disc earrings is made from tagua seeds dyed in all sorts of gorgeous colors, like rich green, blue, or my personal favorite, yellow. And they’re only $6! But the best part is that a portion of the proceeds for...

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Jewelry that begs the question “Where did you get that?”

One thing that hasn’t changed about me since I’ve had kids: My penchant for big, bold jewelry. And while it’s a little harder to find the time (and the sitter) to wear them, when I find pieces like these, I’m suddenly much more motivated to get that date night or girl’s night out on the books. Everything from Lavish Jewelry is made in Brazil under the careful eye of designer and mom Tricia Milaneze, and it’s some of the coolest I’ve seen. Each is made using a wire crochet technique like you’ll see in the braided cuff that is...

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The summer necklaces that will get you all the compliments. Promise.

I have lost count of the number of compliments I’ve received on my gorgeous Elk necklace. And I’m gearing up for more now that they’ve released their newest collection that’s perfect for summer. The gorgeous new Elk jewelry collection is now available at SFMOMA, which means easier access to this Australia-based company’s pieces, for those of us who are stateside. With Mother’s Day (and my birthday) coming up, I’ve got my eye on the layered leaves wooden necklace (above), though I’m torn between the yellow and the red. The navy woodplate necklace would look fabulous over a white t-shirt...

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The perfect personalized Mother’s Day gift for faraway moms (and grandmoms)

With both of my kids’ grandmothers living far away, we don’t get to celebrate Mother’s Day with them in person. But this lovely gift turns the distance between us into something beautiful. [Don’t miss details of this super limited time sale after the jump–hurry!] Our friends at City Prints are offering a special personalized Mother’s Day print at an amazing price. Now through April 26, you can order one of their lovely city prints, with a heart for where grandmom lives and then hearts for where all the grandkids live plus the sweet saying, all for $99. That includes...

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The coolest summer clothes for boys come from the land down under

As a mom of a boy, I know how tough it can be to find cool clothes that not only look great, but are made for comfort and play. And I’d like them to last an entire season, please. Looks like Janet Reid (fellow mom of a boy) was reading my mind. Her Australia–based boys-only label MIDA was created from her own frustration of wanting quality clothes for her son that are young and whimsical without being overly saccharine. I’m pretty sure my son would live in the cotton twill shorts, which are quite sturdy but still comfortable and...

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Landfill Harmonic: Turning trash into beautiful music

As a former music professor, I’m well aware of the transformative power of music in the lives of children. But this unbelievable Kickstarter campaign is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Or heard. Landfill Harmonic is the story of a garbage picker and musician in Cateura, Paraguay which is essentially a slum built on top of a landfill. He turned the trash he found into actual functioning musical instruments for the children in need there, creating “The Recycled Orchestra.” And oh the music they make! The goal of their Kickstarter campaign is to complete a documentary film about several of...

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