Sunday, December 30, 2012

Year's End Giving

Just a reminder that you have until tomorrow midnight (in the States) to give to charities for the 2012 tax year. There are many worthy organizations to choose from & that we have some favorites is no secret. There are more worthies in the right sidebar under Who, What, Where, Why, How to Help. There are acute crises & long-term challenges. Whatever you choose, it will surely make more of a difference than you probably know. xoxo

Some of our favorites (alphabetically):

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)

Washington Animal Rescue League (in DC but helps animals everywhere)

(photograph by Beth Frueh)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Winter Butterfly

Idea for today. Here's an origami butterfly that's easy to make. Teach it to bored children & then go outside & take photographs like the one above. Start with a large piece of paper to learn the folds. Use leftover holiday wrapping paper for a colorful grouping. Clear instructions & a helpful video, here. So pretty. xoxo

(photograph by luminous grey)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best Photographs of 2012

The year isn't over yet but lists are being compiled as we type. (Most will be updated by year's end.) So if you cannot move because once again you ate too many sweet & spicy almonds, erm, some links below. (Top tip: make the almonds, just give most of them away. xoxo)

Kottke is an excellent source for photography in general; year-end lists specifically.

You can get lost in National Geographic's Photography section. Galleries galore. Fantastic.

The Guardian's best photographs of 2012 is a small but good list; not sure if it's a final cut though.

 (vintage photograph via From London with Love)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Santa Tracker

There's a new Santa Tracker this year by Google & it's very cute.This will keep little kids occupied for awhile & you can always use it as an encouragement-threat-bribe (that is a thing, yes). Doesn't work on cats, be forewarned. If they're driving you mad, the children, here's the National Gallery's free Kids Art Zone, coloring pages, & last-minute fuss-free crafts. Breathe! xoxo 

PS: NORAD's Santa Tracker is up & running, too.

(illustration from Miracle on 34th Street via LA Times

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice

Winter in the northern hemisphere arrives today with the solstice. There is nothing we can do about it; take heart that this means the days begin to get longer with every passing day. So you can fight it, or you can celebrate. Don't curse the darkness, light some candles. xoxo

A winter poem section with essay via The Poetry Foundation.

Everything you need to know about the winter solstice.

This photograph reminds us of a winter fairy tale, so here's a Czech version of a familiar story.

(photograph by Lissy Elle Laricchia)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Something Sweet ~ Jam Kolaches

It's down to the wire. Are you panicking? Been there, am there. If you've not done much baking yet but would like to, kolaches are super-easy & taste divine. Plan to make about three times the number you need. Seriously. Then give many of them away. xoxo

PS: Another delicious, easy cookie & it does not need decoration. Also, buy some prepared cookie dough (there are some decent ones at Whole Foods or similar stores, without a ton of additives), take out your cookie cutters & use up what time you have with decorating. This can occupy several children (& teens) for quite awhile.Still need ideas? GG Pinterest board with links to recipes.

(photograph by Brooke of Crackers on the Couch)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hand-tied Bouquets

Hand-tied bouquets are not just for weddings; they are for Christmas, too. So pretty & who wouldn't love one as a gift? (Yes, that was a hint.) xoxo

A tutorial (the font is small but it is quite clear so give it a go).

(photograph by Amy Merrick via design*sponge)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Hair

If your hair needs some help for the holidays or any day (especially now that static has arrived - boo), don't pull it out. Don't twist it into knots (or do, come to think of it), see these links. This one & this one are go-to hair for us lately. This one is on the menu for Christmas.

 Ten-minute holiday hair tutorials by Rubi.

In the thick of it, 3 fancy hairstyles for thick hair.

Pinterest-to-reality hair challenge (it worked out better than expected).

Pinterest board for more looks including lovely short hairstyles.

Now go play with your hair! xoxo

(photograph by Nishe)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Look for the Helpers

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” - Mister Rogers

Some resources (PDF) from Sesame Street for parents & caregivers to speak with children about Friday's Newtown school murders.

Some ways to help the Newtown, Connecticut community.

The photograph of Fred Rogers was taken by Jim Judkis. His daughter Maura's thoughts in the Washington Post Arts blog about what it means to her & to her father. Lovely. xoxo

Friday, December 14, 2012

Easing into Christmas

It's been unexpectedly difficult to do (so far) this season. If you are feeling similarly, here is some inspiration via London & Toronto. Depending upon where you live, many of these ideas will transfer easily.

Annie warms up to Christmas in London, including ice skating at Somerset House.

Sasha's super-easy & delicious Nutella palmiers. Three ingredients!

The Clever Pup's Guide to Making Christmas Work. Hazel is so wise.

Here's hoping you are faring better in the Christmas spirit department. Decorating the tree this weekend surely will help. If nothing else, it is always fun to watch Giulia vs. the fairy lights. xoxo

(photograph by Gideon Mendel)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happy Lucia Day

To our friends in Scandinavia & around the world (& our niece Lucy), happy St. Lucia Day. For all sorts of what she calls "traditional-ish Swedish" recipes, it is hard to beat Anne's down-to-earth style & simple instructions. You don't have to make the more complicated saffron buns to be authentic (but if you do, let us know), there are three excellent pepparkakor recipes to choose from. It would be nice to use these Dala cookie cutters this year. 

So go do something Swedish. Maybe just go to IKEA & pick up a soft toy for the aid campaign? Then pop it into a Toys for Tots box (or another holiday collection local to you). xoxo

(photograph via Pinterest; still looking for attribution)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Annual Christmas Bird Count

The 113th Christmas Bird Count begins in the Americas on Friday & runs through 5 January 2013. This is important business & it burns holiday calories, too. (This is an important motivator for GG's editor:). Read here & if you won't be able to commit to this or don't live in North America, the Great Backyard Bird Count is in February. ciao-cheep-meow/xoxo

"From December 14 through January 5 tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas take part in an adventure that has become a family tradition among generations. Families and students, birders and scientists, armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists go out on an annual mission - often before dawn. For over one hundred years, the desire to both make a difference and to experience the beauty of nature has driven dedicated people to leave the comfort of a warm house during the Holiday season." ~ Audubon Society

(photograph by Michael Taylor)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Movies

Under-the-weather (again), ugh. But one thing that can help the stress of the holiday season (&/or feeling less-than-stellar) is a movie. Especially a favorite movie. Many movies are not necessarily focused on the holidays but have major scenes during that time of year (e.g., Bridget Jones's Diary, When Harry Met Sally, Hannah & Her Sisters, & Sleepless in Seattle are a few favorites). As much of a mess (narratively speaking) as Love Actually is, it is still enjoyable. And while there are many favorites, nothing will dislodge It's a Wonderful Life from our No. 1 holiday choice.

Here is the list of Holiday Classics on at our local AFI Silver Theatre (how lucky are we?!). And here is a post with some more good suggestions (& an excellent all round place to read up on classic film) from Paula's Cinema Club.

Make a list & go to the movies! (And have a pizza party while you're at it:) xoxo

(film still by Andy Scwartz via IMDb)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Pizza Party

Affordable & easy, we do this fairly often. (Yes, buy the pizza dough. Keep that to yourself unless forced to answer.) Here are six terrific ideas via Food52. And for those longing for an Alsatian tarte flambée (or flammekueche), this recipe is super easy & works well. You're welcome. xoxo

(photograph via Livet Hemma)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy Hanukkah!

It's not sundown for several more hours (here & west), so if you're looking for last-minute (& easy) ideas,  look here. It's not too late & anyway, there are seven more nights of celebration. 

Poems for Hanukkah.
 Menorahs to make (including the simple olive oil lights above) & a cupcake menorah (yes!).

GG house latke (currently). And because that would not be enough links: 16 latke recipes (all good).

 A lovely Pinterest board, Handmade Hanukkah.

Now where is our Hanukkah party invitation?! xoxo

(photograph by Linda Pugliese for Martha Stewart)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Something Sweet - Soft Caramels

You can do this. (Stop sassing, yes you can.) Buy the thermometer you always say you will & then make these caramels for gifts or for a holiday party. The first batch we made are absolutely perfect for taking to a party this weekend. xoxo Via The Kitchn. (photograph by Emma Christensen)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Stars, Planets, Heavens

"December 2012 presents a great big plateful of planetary delights, with all five visible planets shining in the night sky in the first half of the month...That’s only the start of what’s to come this month, as the new moon leaves a dark sky for watching the prolific Geminid meteor shower on the nights of December 12, 13 and 14, and the full Long Night Moon beautifies the night of December 27." ~ EarthSky Tonight

Things are a bit crazy here & it cannot all be blamed on the cat. Meanwhile, looking up at the clouds during the day & the night sky (or the online stand-in, oh my) is some relief. So, too, is reading through the stars, planets, heavens label on the Poetry Foundation website. xoxo

(mixed media print by Catrin Welz-Stein via My Modern Met)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


We've found (or re-discovered) so much great music the last month by using 8tracks. Lately, in addition to classic rock, flamenco, French pop, & holiday music are in heavy rotation. You won't be sorry. (We're just using the free service, so far.) As of today, there is no special GG mix-tape but we'll let you know. xoxo

"Algorithm-powered "personal radio" services like Pandora are all very well. But they don't feel nearly as personal as 8tracks, a music site where real people do the choosing of tunes. Members pick at least eight songs (hence the name) from their own collections, upload them and share them as handcrafted mixes that seem like a happy throwback from the cassette era. You can find mixes created by your Facebook friends or simply follow other members who share your tastes. And it's legal — the 8tracks people pay the necessary licensing fees to the music companies." ~ TIME's 50 Best Websites of 2011

(photograph by Nick Bartoletti)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Handmade Holidays

Yes, yes, one more thing to worry about for the holidays. Make stuff. Oh please, nooooo,  you squeal as you plug your ears. Don't stress out; don't worry about making something complicated or a lot of something complicated. Find something simple that appeals to you & try it. It can be relaxing. On our menu are these heart-shaped felt ornaments. If you're the Valentines-type, they can do double-duty, too.

Here are 101 Handmade Christmas Ornaments - go to it.

Keep up with Lori's lovely Handmade Holidays label for inspiration.

Remember Laura's snowflake curtain? She is also a prolific ornament maker. Easy, cute, free tutorials.


(photograph by Loreta)