Let Them Eat Cake!

Bastille Day is on July 14th so be ready to celebrate the French revolution! Have your own Bastille Day party, and give a door prize of this quirky bobble headed Napoleon.
Now, practically speaking, no one needs a bobble head Napoleon, but looking at this you will want one. And, it is certainly worth the laugh!

Originally, Bastille Day was intended to commemorate the storming of the French prison and the uprising of the modern French nation. Today, it is a celebration of French culture featuring feasts, parades, fireworks, and dancing in the streets.

Spice It Up: Add to your celebration, or give to a friend as a gift, a box of these delicious Croissants from William Sonoma. Fresh out of your own oven, not only do they smell heavenly, but the warm buttery pastry is a special French treat!

Honestly, I am very picky when it comes to mail-order gourmet food, as I believe much of it is stale or not tasty. I can personally vouch for the high quality, buttery taste, and freshness of these delicious croissants as I ordered them myself earlier this year.

Consider taking a box with you on vacation as a host/hostess gift, as they keep in the freezer and you can dole a few out a time for a treat.

Prefer to experience Bastille Day in person?

Contact French Affaires to arrange a trip tailored for you to France.

Or, join in on one of Dr. Elizabeth New’s guided tours from Parisian Flea markets, to Provence, to Chateau tours, to museums galore.

Elizabeth founded French Affaires and offers a blog, unique classes, guided trips, and trip planning for budding Francophiles.

I know her personally, and not only is she an expert on French culture, but she is also tres chic and a terrific conversationalist--someone who you want to lead you through the "not to be missed" aspects of France.

So, grab your family or your friends, and take a trip to France!

Where to Buy:

Napoleon Bobble Head - World Market has this wonderful tchotchke along with other decorations for a proper Bastille Day celebration. $19.99

- Williams Sonoma offers regular croissants, chocolate croissants, and other pastries. There are combo packs or a single type box, and they arrive frozen. $39.95 for box of 15

French Affaires - View the French Affaires website where Dr. Elizabeth New has links to her blog, as well as information on classes, upcoming trips, and itinerary planning.

Cowboy Cool

Howdy pardners! Here is my go-to gift when I am traveling, and need a gift to tuck into my suit case.  The perfect pint sized coffee table book: Cowboy Boots by Tyler Beard. 

Even if you are not from Texas, I promise you will love this book! I discovered it through my friend Greg H.J. who is from Lampasas, TX where the author penned the book on a ranch nearby.

The book details the history of Cowboy boots, and the evolution of custom designed boots. I keep a copy on my coffee table, and everyone who comes to my house ends up thumbing through it. The colors are vibrant, and the boots are captivating folk art.

I especially like this book because it is small—6 in. x 6 in. x ¾ in. (slightly wider than a cocktail napkin), so if you are traveling it packs well. Wrap it in brown construction paper or a bandana with a bit of raffia for a bow—a perfect casual western looking gift.

Spice It Up: For a host/hostess or housewarming, give your friends a chuckle with this triangle dinner bell to call everyone to chow time at the O-K Corral!
 Add to it with a few old fashioned milk bottles with a fun recipe for a homemade Frappuccino, smoothie or milk punch tucked in the bottle!

I admit, I borrowed this idea from one of my favorite Dallas restaurants called Bolsa. They serve a delicious New Orleans style Milk Punch in old milk bottle glasses with a festive straw. It keeps the drink ice cold, and looks so tasty!

Where to Buy:
Book – I have seen this book in several gift stores, but to be safe, order online at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Order 3-5 books to keep handy when you need a quick gift to go. $11.71

Triangle Dinner Bell – There are many online, but the one featured here is from Crate & Barrel. $34.95

Milk Bottles – A variety are available online or at local antique stores. I particularly like the ones online at SweetLuLu, or Jilly Bean Kids. 12 for $30.00 at SweetLuLu, or carrying tray and 2 bottles for $25.99 from Jilly Bean Kids

Recipe Suggestions:
Frappuccino – try this one from Food.com

Strawberry Mango Smoothie – check this one out from The Bakers Mann—this is my favorite blog for great recipes!

Milk Punch – I’m sorry I don’t give out my mother’s top secret famous Milk Punch recipe, but here’s a good one from Emeril.

Oh, Those Summer Nights!

You’re lucky enough to be invited to a friend’s Lakehouse/Beachhouse/Mountain Cabin for a visit this summer.  What do you give as a host/hostess gift to thank them for their hospitality?
S’Mores are always a good summer treat.  Bring your host/hostess their own S’Mores Kit.  No campfire nearby?  Set them up with Hershey’s cute S’Mores Maker.  The faux fire and logs are cheeky and reminiscent of campfires past.

Spice It Up:  Catching lightening bugs are a time honored summer tradition.  Bring your host/hostess a lightening bug jar light for BBQs on the deck, clambakes on the beach, etc. 
Eating by candlelight creates a festive ambience, and these battery operated lightening bugs in mason jars will be used all summer long.

Over the Top:  There are few gifts I literally swoon for, but this is one I am completely in love with!  A retro neon sign styled as a mason jar with flickering lightening bugs.  It evokes the whimsy and joy of summer, childhood, and family.  

Austin based artist Todd Sanders is known for his retro artwork in neon.  Granted, these signs are pricier than what you would typically spend for a friend, but he does sell custom photo prints of his work. 
So, a nice print is a thoughtful decorative addition for a vacation home.  And, if you are buying for your own home, maybe you will splurge for the actual sign!
Where to buy:

S’Mores – the kit is available at World Market for $9.99, and the S’Mores Maker can be found on Amazon for $29.98. 
Note:  If you prefer, there are many fancier/more expensive/modern looking S’Mores Makers available--just google online for options.

Lightening Bug Jar - several versions of this decorative jar can be found on Etsy.  The featured photo with the burlap on the jar is from SoBarnShabby on Etsy.

For a wedding or party, you can purchase a package of 30 for $300.00.  Or as a gift, you can purchase groups of 4 jars or individuals at $15.00-$30.00 each.  Some just have the string lights, but I prefer the ones with moss in the jars so that you cannot see the wires or batteries.
Note: On Etsy, search as either Firefly Jars, Firefly Lanterns, Lightening Bug Lantern, etc.
Neon Sign/Print – the Roadhouse Relic Neon signs are custom made and run from $2,500.00-$15,000.00 (yes, I gasped a bit too), but the neon photo prints are a mere $18.00 per print. 
If you are in the Austin area, be sure to tour his studio, Roadhouse Relics, on 1st street.


London Calling

Serious music aficionados have all heard of the legendary Abbey Road studios in London.  This hallowed studio has recorded many Grammy winning works by the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Duran Duran, Kate Bush, Radiohead, Florence & the Machine, John Williams/Star Wars, etc. 

Give your music fan the Abbey Road: The Best Studio in the World book by Alistair Lawrence which includes a complete history, discography, album covers, and photos of many of the bands who have recorded at the studio.
Spice It Up:  You don’t have to be a Beatles fanatic to love these Beatles lyrics cups & saucers!  Cleverly packaged, the saucer looks like a vintage vinyl record and the cup features lyrics on the back with the title on the front.  The retro colors and fonts make them especially nifty. You’ll be humming along as you sip! 

Check out this cute Tea Sub infuser to combine with the cups & saucers.  A mini-yellow submarine ode to the Beatles will make you want to break out their old songs for afternoon of Beatle mania!

While these all make a great birthday gift or Father’s Day/Mother’s Day gift, together it makes an especially great Anniversary gift. 

Why?  Well, think of the endearing love songs by the Beatles:  "All You Need Is Love," "She Loves You," "A Hard Days Night," "Eight Days A Week," "Here Comes The Sun," "I Want To Hold Your Hand," "Love Me Do," "P.S. I Love You," etc.
Where to Buy:
Book Barnes &Noble and Amazon $48.32-$67.83 (less expensive at Amazon)
Cup & Saucers – in store at Whole Earth Provision Company, or online at OldiesThe Music Stand, or Amazon  Available styles include:  All You Need Is Love, Help, Yellow Submarine, Hard Day’s Night and She Loves You   $12.98-19.99 per set (Oldies is the least expensive)
Tea Infuser - online at Cool Stuff Express or Amazon - $12.00-$16.95

Suggestions for Anniversary/Birthday/Father's Day/Mother's Day :
Run with the British theme
  • Take your sweetheart out to a local tavern or gastro-pub for fish & chips
  • Catch a Beatles cover band or get tickets to a concert from your favorite British import
  • Or, if no band is nearby, buy a box set of the artist or download their tunes to listen to at home.

Now, if you want to really go over the top…

  • Plan a trip to Vegas and take in the Cirque Du Soleil’s Beatle inspired show called Love at the Mirage Hotel



    What Would MacGyver Do?

    Admit it—every guy dreams of having crazy skills like MacGyver.  Whether for life threatening situations or for around the house chores, MacGyver has timeless wisdom for both.
    Help your honey with his Honey-Do list by giving him his very own MacGyver kit!   “The MacGyver” which includes Duct Tape, WD40, Gerber Multi-tool and Gorilla Glue.  Be sure to add a box of Paper Clips, a Mullet Wig and Acid Wash Jeans for good measure!
    Spice It Up:  Give him one of these unique Survival Straps.  While they look hip to wear, the cord unravels several feet to be used as a rope, tourniquet, or strap.  
    Whether he is a hunter, fisherman, sailor, surfer, camper, climber or outdoorsmen, he will love this handy tool.  In harrowing situations, they can be quite useful—let’s hope your guy doesn’t need to use it for anything more than stylishness! 
    Inspire your burgeoning Survivalist with this book: What Would MacGyver Do?  True Stories of Improvised Genius in Everyday Life

    Top it off with a silly -t-shirt—imagine the conversations these shirts will inspire—ha!
    Where to Buy: 
    The MacGyver KitBroquet online provides an already assembled kit.  $65.00

    Home-Made KitLowe’s/Home Depot/Ace Hardware offer all the necessary items.  Buy a simple tool box or backpack to fill with: WD40, Duct Tape, Paper Clips, Multi-Tool, SuperGlue, etc.  Then, stencil on the tool box using a Sharpie Marker “WWMD”—this will ensure a good laugh!
    Survival Bracelet – There are several brands for the survival bracelet, though I like Survival Straps because they are actively involved in Charities.  $24.00
    Book – Found at Barnes & Noble in store or online.  $12.00
    T-shirt – Online at Tshirts I Want or at Swag-City $18.00

    Hello Mudder, Hello Fadder...Here I am...at Camp Granada

    Summer camp is just around the corner!  That means sending much appreciated care packages to your Camper!  Email may be quicker, but when you are away from home for 3-6 weeks nothing is better than a care package of fun items.  The usual loot includes magazines, puzzles, water balloons, glow sticks, etc. 
    For the girls, I spotted these very cool Marc By Marc Jacobs silcone bracelets.  The silicone is similar to rubber, but smoother and softer (the material is like the Yellow LiveStrong bracelets). The bracelets are bright and colorful, WATERPROOF and won’t wear out after a summer of swimming!  The neon colors also are a nice highlight to that summer tan. 
    Every tween/teen loves designer wear, and while you don’t want to blow the bank for pricey stuff these bracelets are inexpensive.  One single bracelet is cute and plenty, but they are cute to stack together.
    For the larger bracelets, while you may not notice it right off, the links of the bracelet are actually in the shape of the Marc by Marc Jacobs’ lips/kiss logo (you can see it better when you pull the links a bit).  Clever indeed! 

    For both styles, the hot pink, royal blue and bright green colors are my favorites.  Additional colors include: purple, orange, navy blue, white, red, black, etc.
    Each bracelet comes with a Marc Jacobs black velvet drawstring pouch--a nice touch for presentation and we all know tweens/teens are decidely more impressed with a gift if it is designer!
    Spice It Up:  Pair the bracelets with some sassy nail polish.  Neon polish is especially fun in the summer time.  I prefer these Revlon Neon polishes because one end is the Neon color and the other end is white paint. 

    Both ends include a brush
    If you have ever tried neon polish, you know it takes multiple layers and it often still does not look as bright as in the bottle.  Revlon solved that problem with the addition of white paint that you use as a base coat.  After a layer of the white paint, then add the neon coats.  This really makes the neon pop!

    Neon bracelets & nail polish make a great Camp Care Package, birthday gift, travel gift for study abroad, or summertime fun for the family outing to the beach/lake/pool.  I’ll confess they are cute even for adults!
    Camp Care Package Tip: For the tired Mom, a great website to order Camp Care packages to be delivered to your camper is: Sealed with a Kiss or Just 4 Camp.  They have some great ideas for fun knick knacks for your boys and girls, and they take care of the hassle of boxing and shipping!

    Where to Buy:

    Bracelets – The bracelets are on SALE 40% off at Nordstrom right now.  So, get over there quick before they sell out.  Or, order online. 
    Small Bracelet @Nordstrom: Retail $28.00, On Sale $16.80
    LargeBracelet @Nordstrom: Retail $32.00, On Sale $19.20

    Nail Polish – Revlon is available at Walgreens, Ulta cosmetics, and most drugstores.  Retail $8.99, at Walgreens Buy One Get One 50% off.

    Juju for the Ultimate Sports Fan

    Most men are fans of one sports team or another.  My father, for example, is a rabid LSU Tiger fan (he and the entire state of Louisiana).  Father’s Day, Birthdays, Christmas—we know that any gift will be a winner with him if it has an LSU Tiger logo attached!

    Credit for these over the top custom designed New Balance athletic shoes goes to my brother & sister-in-law.  Yes, the color combo is on the loud side, but a true LSU fan will recognize the beauty of these shoes and the mystical juju they bring to fight the evil empire (otherwise known as Alabama)!

    Several sportswear/shoe companies allow you to custom design shoes online to order, but what I like about the New Balance is that it allows you to add a peronalized phrase or word on each shoe just below the ankle.  Note the: “Geaux” “Tigers” on his shoes personalized for him—this is the war cry for all Tiger fans.

    So, if your husband/brother/son/father is a Longhorn, an Aggie, a Tiger, or other sports fan (NFL, NBA, NCAA, MLB, etc) get them a pair of these unique shoes!  Pick the color, the style, and the words (like a favorite saying):  Hook Em Horns, Gig Em Aggies, etc.

    Spice It Up: It is simply not game day if you aren’t flying your team colors, and letting the neighborhood know who you are rooting for. 

    Your uber fan will be the talk of the neighborhood with his own flamingo yard ornament from Fan Flamingos in his team colors.
    My father and his friends were ahead of their time.  Before all the team logowear became available and popular (think 1970s & 1980s), they had pants custom made for their treks to Tiger Stadium.
    Check out the USC Trojan fan
    giving them the skeptical
    "Who are these crazy people?" look
    For your viewing pleasure, I am including a photo of them at a game.  Yes, the pants are baby blue, double ply polyester.  Hideous…yet so awesome!
    Today’s sportswear is a bit more tasteful.  These team logo cargo shorts are perfect for game day whether he is at the stadium, or in his barca-lounger watching it on the big screen.
    Buy these items for Father’s Day so, come August, he’ll be ready for the season!
    Where to Buy: 

    New Balance Shoes – are available online at the New Balance website.  If you are unsure of what to design they have hundreds of examples to view that other customers designed.  The customer selects the colors, the lining, the tip, the side bar, and the sole.  Then, you personalize it with whatever words suit your design. $174.95 per pair

    Flamingo Fans – are available through Flamingo Fans  1-800-678-7898 or at Plastic Flamingos.  approximately $14.95 per pair

    Cargo Shorts - are available at the College Football Store.  They have additional styles of Kakhi shorts if the Cargo style is not your favorite. $39.95