Category: Around the House

The SodaStream Power sparkling water maker: Is it really worth it?

I admit I have always coveted a SodaStream ever since I tried an earlier model at my parents’ house. However theirs seemed pretty big to me, and I live in a small apartment, where we’re supposed to subscribe to the rule about not owning single-purpose appliances (bread makers, panini presses) to cut back on clutter. But since becoming addicted to a different company’s fizzy water maker — until it fizzled out and was entirely discontinued — I leapt at the chance to try out the new SodaStream Power. Oh, was it worth the wait. The SodaStream Power is way sleeker than I was expecting, with a slim...

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A whale reading chair that really rocks

Sometimes it’s the little things. The totally unnecessary but love-it-want-it-now little things. Like this adorable whale reading chair from Sprout. It’s a sweet and modern rocking chair for toddlers to climb in, sit and chill, read a book, or just hang out while you’re cooking dinner (or, uh, checking email). Do I need it? No. Do I want it? Yes.   All of Sprout’s kids furniture has cool, minimalist design. You do have to build it yourself at home (no tools needed!) but the instructions are so simple you’re likely to have it together in no time (they say 5 minutes). The hardest part for me in...

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Target Pillowfort launches today, with adorable and affordable kids’ decor that parents will love too.

The exciting new Target Pillowfort collection of kids’ decor launches today at last, and has come along at just the right time. There’s something about being cooped up inside all winter that makes me want to redecorate. Every room. I’m getting bored with the same old stuff especially in my kids’ rooms, which are a mix of remnants of their nursery decor and a couple of cooler, tween-friendly pieces I’ve picked up here and there. Sadly, a full-house re-do isn’t in the budget. But some of the fresh designs in the Target Pillowfort collection might be. From pillows to artwork, full bedding sets, accent furniture, and those cute...

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Color-your-own placemats turn any table into the coolest restaurant ever

I’ve always been a big advocate of keeping my kids’ games and videos put away at the dinner table.  Especially in restaurants, which is why I have a special place in my heart for those that provide crayons to kids — in particular the smaller, more wiggly ones. So I think plenty of other parents will also be thrilled to discover the new OMY color-your-own placemats that we spotted at Toy Fair, from the same clever company that invented the artistic giant coloring posters our kids adore. I absolutely love these for dining out, dinner at the grandparents’ place, birthday parties, road trips, or just a way to make dinner a...

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Custom art globes pieces kick our wanderlust up a notch

This time of year I start to get a little stuck. The excitement of Valentine’s Day is gone, light is still limited, the weather is frigid. It’s like I just want to imagine myself someplace — anyplace — else. So I started browsing Etsy for globes and found some outrageously wonderful options from California artist Wendy Gold that at least get my mind traveling, if not my body. The custom globes at her shop ImagineNations Vintage Globe Art are more than just an artist with a nice hand taking a Sharpie to a scavenged globe; this is true art with the prices to...

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Bitter mugs: For those who think February 15 can’t come fast enough

At least speaking for Kristen and myself, we certainly been through every stage of Valentine’s Day at various times in our life — denial, anger, depression, acceptance. If you fall into any of the first three categories, we feel you. So for those of you Valentine’s Day haters risking eyestrain with all the eyerolls this week, these are just for you: Bitter Mugs. They go perfect with black coffee, a Netflix marathon, and schadenfreude. Related: 31 of the absolute funniest Valentine’s cards Found at Fairgoods, each purchase will fill your heart with not only a sort of bitter glee of knowing your...

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Happy Year of the Monkey, baby. You’re intelligent, creative, and darnit, people like you!

Today starts the Lunar New Year, and lots of little Year of the Monkey babies are soon to be born. If not already. I’ve always loved Tree by Kerri Lee‘s beautiful wooden birth year blocks, which a make sweet gift for a special little someone. Handcrafted by artist Kerri Lee and featured in her sister’s Etsy shop, you can order these in three colors, all of which feature characteristics of a Year of the Monkey baby. I think they make such lovely, affordable keepsakes, whether the lucky recipient is super into the Chinese zodiac, or just appreciates the thoughtfulness of a...

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Rainbow housewares to brighten up winter. Or any season.

January is tough on my but by February I tend to hit the doldrums. Yes, it’s actually light until (nearly) 5:20 so that’s in the plus column, but I start to feel like everything around me is gray, including the remaining snow piles on the sidewalks in New York. So I checked out the members sale at the MoMA store right now and the thing that struck me most were the increasing collection of beautiful rainbow housewares. The best part is that if you’re a member like I am, everything is 20% off right now. And if you’re not...

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New and cool: Personalized Moleskines. Notebooks, journals, you name it. (Get it?)

I never leave home without my Moleskine notebook, as I’ve recently shared — or really, I should say “notebooks” considering how many I have for lists, ideas, and… more lists. Now I’m so excited that you can finally order personalized Moleskine notebooks online, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Or really any day in my book. (I can’t stop the puns!) Related: Illustrated handmade Moleskine journals. Ooh. If you love this as much as I do, hit the site, then choose from a huge selection of personalizable notebooks and journals — there are tons! Next click Personalize  under Add to Shopping Cart. You...

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Kids say the darndest things…and then you frame them.

When I first got wind of the Kickstarter for Peanut Gallery Comics, how could I not smile? The idea is so simple and smart — commissioning one of four illustrators to create an original comic strip or frame of some funny, quirky, wonderful thing your kid said that you just have to preserve forever. You know, somewhere besides Facebook. Related: 20 incredible, modern custom illustrated family portraits that make the most special gift As a testament to dad Matt Tepper’s clever idea, after just a couple of days they’ve already hit their reasonable funding goal. However there’s still time for you to get...

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One of David Bowie’s greatest hits, reissued

There’s no question that David Bowie had a huge impact on the world of music, which is partly why we can’t stop talking about him. So today we are so happy to discover that the iconic 1987 David Bowie READ poster has been reissued by the American Library Association. As part of an entire series of ALA celebrity posters started in the 80’s, David Bowie, an avid reader, was one of the first celebrities to agree to pose for the campaign. He looks pretty spry for 40 in his letterman jacket, doesn’t he? A far cry from his look in Labryinth. At 22″ x 34″,...

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31 of the absolute funniest Valentine’s cards, for sweethearts with a sense of humor. AKA Keepers.

Each year I have the best time scouring the web for the funniest Valentine’s Cards. I was just never a fan of those long, poetic prefab cards written in wedding script. I guess if I have something sentimental to say I’ll say it myself. As for my cards? Give me the funny, please. So whether you like the self-deprecating Valentine’s Cards that make fun of your standing Friday night date with Netflix, or the slightly racy cards that imply…well, that there might be a little more to your evening than passing out at 8:45 surrounded by a box of half-eaten truffles...

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9 modern kids’ desks for small spaces, that don’t feel like kids’ desks at all.

For those of us in smaller homes, finding our kids a great desk can be a challenge. With my two girls sharing a small room, it’s not like I can just grab one of those giant kids’ desks you see in the catalogs and call it a day. In fact, their shared desk isn’t even in their room at all — it’s in our living room by a sunny window.  So I spent a little time browsing for modern kids’ desks for small spaces, looking for design that would go well with my existing home decor, and a size that wasn’t...

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Decluttering tips from 5 top organization experts: Which is best for you? | Spawned Episode 29

I fully admit that home organization is the bane of my existence. If you’re a hard-core reader of this site or a listener of the Spawned podcast then you know that while Kristen is an avid purger, I’m what I like to think of, fondly, as a Nostalgic Hoarder. It’s like not you’re going to find me one day, buried under 25-year old newspaper clippings, old coffee cans and pounds of cat hair. But I do have trouble getting rid of my kids’ early doodles (they’re so sweet!); birthday cards from every relative ever (maybe my kids will want...

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Photo Valentine’s Cards: The brilliant solution to not having sent holiday cards

I learned soon after becoming a mom that there are just some years I will not get my you-know-what in order in time, to be able to send out holiday cards. New Year’s cards are a terrific alternative as we’ve suggested before, but look, holidays can be a busy time. Even after Christmas. We get it. So if you have even the teeniest bit of guilt about it (or should, say, one relative in particular be giving you a hard time about not having your children’s latest photo next to all the others your perfect brothers and sisters and cousins sent) go with our next best...

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Would you be mine? Could you be mine?

It’ll be a beautiful day in the neighborhood for someone who gets a set of these awesome Mister Rogers sticky notes I just found. Featuring the iconic images of Mister Rogers and his comfy cardigan, as well as Lady Elaine Fairchild, X the Owl, King Friday XIII, and Daniel Striped Tiger, you or your kids can tab pages in a book you are reading or leave little notes around the house. For best results, tab all the smartest pages with X the Owl and save Lady Elaine for anything that makes you feel kind of cranky. Daniel Striped Tiger would only go on my very...

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7 creative, stylish ways to help you eliminate desk clutter once and for all

If you spend as much time at your desk as each of us do, then you probably understand the challenge of keeping it organized. In fact, you might have incorporated that into one of your New Year’s resolutions. (Again?) We so get it. The struggle is real. That’s why we’re so happy to be working again with our sponsor Staples, because they’ve got literally everything you need to ditch your desk clutter for a more beautiful, organized work space. Yes, they’ve got a hundred zillion items (which is why we always walk out with more than we came in for) that include a stylish and very affordable new Acrylic...

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Here’s to you, four-hour conference call survivors.

It’s not like I was thinking of you when I laughed my head off at this I survived another meeting that could have been an email coffee mug.  I mean, even if we do conduct business together, and we do have conference calls that seem to go on for hours, and we have sat through briefings that take longer to discuss than the brief took to write in the first place…no, I actually enjoy those things. And those calls where you wait for 14 different people even though a dozen of them never even say a word? Those are my very favorite. Of course I’m talking about other meetings with someone...

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Move over adult coloring books: Make way for 1000 Dot-to-Dot books

While we still have a lot of love for all the cool adult coloring books we featured this year — and saw everywhere this holiday season — I realized there was another relaxing drawing option for us big kids, when my teen daughter unwrapped a copy of 1000 Dot-to-Dot Cities from her aunt. This is not your preschooler’s dot-to-dot book. 1000 Dot-to-Dot Cities is one in a series of “extreme” dot-to-dot books by Australian graphic designer Thomas Pavitte, whose books also include 1000 Dot-to-Dot Icons, 1000 Dot-to-Dot Masterpieces, and 1000 Dot-to-Dot Animals. And when I say extreme, I mean, whoa. Each sturdy page in...

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16 of the prettiest modern 2016 planners, to help start the new year with a little positivity.

Is it really almost 2016? And time to look for a brand new 2016 planner? Whoa. Every year it’s like the change in the calendar year blindsides us, as if it doesn’t happen every single year at this time. When will we learn? This year if you’re committed to getting more organized (cliche, we know, but still a good resolution) it can be easier when you start with the right tools, right off the bat. So we spent a whole lot of time tracking down some of the most stylish planners in every price range,  to keep you organized in all different...

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Printables for teachers that make thoughtful last-minute cards or gifts.

As we parents start counting down the days to the December break, some of us are also realizing that whoa! It’s time to figure out teacher gifts, stat. I still really love our post about the best teacher gift ideas according to actual teachers and if you haven’t checked it out, you really should. There was definitely some debate on Facebook about the results (some of you feel really passionate about cash gifts!) but whatever you give, the message that came through loud and clear to me from all the educators we spoke with, is that it really, truly is the thought that counts. So...

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The perfect little affordable best friend gifts. Or really, anyone gifts.

I’m on the lookout for some cute small gifts to give out to some of the people I love, or even for my girls to give to their own BFFs. And then I came across the collection of awesome eco-friendly, recycled brown kraft paper journals from Journaling Jane on Etsy and I was like, yup. That’s what I need. I love the artist’s mission to get people back to handwriting — as you can tell from journals with sayings like Write Your Thoughts Here and Not on Facebook — and she has hundreds of ways to do that. You can...

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Mrs. Jones’ Soapbox: Natural cleaning products that, well, actually clean

I like to buy natural cleaning products and supplies as much as I can. In fact, I follow my mom’s mantra and use vinegar and water only on my hardwood floors. It’s partly because I get headaches when I walk in the door and my house smells like a hospital ward, and partly because I know that breathing in a lot of harsh chemicals just isn’t good for us, so I’m always glad to discover a new company that makes eco-friendly cleaning products that actually work. Mrs. Jones’ Soapbox is one of those, and it’s a great find. Related: 2 fabulous new natural laundry products that actually work I admit I...

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A brilliant little invention to get kids to remember to help out more.

Between my kids’ basketball schedules and after school activities — not to mention their homework and trying to figure out what to cook for dinner — I’ve found that it’s getting harder for me to keep track of it all. There have been times when I’ve asked, Has anyone fed the fish . . . this week? I know I’m not alone here, which is why I’m really happy to have discovered the Membo reminder tool, a handy little gadget from Dreamfarm that I think a lot of parents could use.   Related: Free labor! A helpful guide to chores for kids by...

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20 incredible, modern custom illustrated family portraits that make the most special gift ever.

Last year, our post on amazing illustrators making modern custom family portraits was such a hit, we took another look this year. And wow, so many options! From sweet to stylized, these are the kinds of personalized holiday gifts that make a huge impact, and often for far less money than you’d expect. The one caveat: you want to get a jump on ordering now if you’re interested, which is why we’ve done our best to specify order deadlines for Christmas — but be sure to contact the artists directly just to be extra extra extra sure that they can make your...

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Peace, Joy, Color: Cool Christmas coloring pages for adults in a book of tear-out postcards

As we get closer to the launch of our big holiday gift guide (next week, you guys!) we’ve been keeping our eyes out in particular for lots of affordable gifts. You know, the stuff for people on your list who deserve more than a stocking stuffer, but aren’t gong to get a $150 cashmere scarf. I just found such a perfect $10 gift in the new Peace. Joy. Color. book of tear-out Christmas coloring page postcards. It’s like the best of the adult coloring book trend meets holiday cards, and I love all the festive notecards in the book, which are very...

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The perfect modern keepsake baby gift for photo-happy new parents. Hi, that’s all of us, right?

In this photo-obsessed world we’re living in, we’ve seen all kinds of ways to document and share a baby’s first year in pictures — some of which are sweet, some of which are wow, you really had time to do all that? Striking the perfect balance in the middle: The new My First Year baby photo frame from our friend, mom, and talented artist Kerri Lee-Sensiba, of Tree by Kerri Lee. Related: One-stop shopping for the cutest baby gifts from small designers. I think the lovely, fresh handpainted wooden designs (choose from a cute elephant or a more hipster camera...

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Awesome holiday cards from Minted: You pick them, they address them. Actually, they may pay for them, too.

If thinking about your holiday card photos already is stressing you out, take a deep breath. Because we’re about to make it easier for you in a whole lot of ways. First off, our amazing sponsor Minted (yay, Minted!) is back with a brand new indie designer-created holiday card collection for 2015 and we’re sharing some favorite holiday cards from Minted to help you pare down your choices from the zillions of gorgeous designs. Trust us, it was tough. If you’re familiar with them, you know that we’ve all been huge fans of their cards for years, because they not only support small designers from around the...

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Custom Star Wars family portraits: The ultimate holiday gift from a galaxy far, far away. Or you know, Etsy.

Since Star Wars is back this year in full force (ha, get it?) we bet a whole lot of you will be thrilled to see your families done up as your favorite characters in these custom Star Wars family portraits. (Update: The shop is sadly no longer operating. For a similar option, be sure to check out the custom Star Wars family portrait from Henry James Paper Goods, another fave Etsy shop!) Illustrator and designer Thomas Brush of the Modern Brush has a really charming, modern style that I’d say makes the result more playful and fun than intensely realistic. In other...

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The Originals: KnotNot knot pillows by Umemi

I’ve seen all these DIY tutorials around the web lately for handmade knot pillows and if you have as well, these images may look familiar. Only after a whole lot of searching and secret sourcing, turns out the original photos are not from loads of brilliant crafters who all remarkably had the exact same idea (and photography styling), but from a wonderful little shop called Umemi from Icelandic product designer Ragnheidur Osp Sigurdardottir. Thus begins a new series we’re launching called The Originals, in which we attempt to track down the original makers who have invented products so wonderful, they quickly become copied and passed off...

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