gift guides for everyone.

alrighty, buckle up people. i’m going to be coming at you with a lot of information in this here blog post. i thought about doing a series of gift guides for this holiday season, but then i was like, no! i have too many blog posts i want to write, and you can find awesome gift guides elsewhere on the internet (i even shared some at the end of this post). but i still love sharing gift ideas, so i decided to do it all in one post.

will this be too long? maybe. will you guys enjoy it? hopefully!

gift guides for everyone

gifts for the guys:

men are so hard to buy for! or maybe that’s just me. i have THE hardest time thinking of gifts for guys, especially my husband! i literally start thinking of what to get him for Christmas around august. if your guy (friend, boyfriend, brother, husband, whatever) is anything like mine, gifts they can use to make things are always a hit (like tools, books, or cooking/drink accessories), as well as gifts that are practical with a hint of fun. what guy willingly buys fun boxers for himself? and you know those ratty boxers aren’t going to last much longer…

gift ideas for guys, they're always so hard to buy for. tools, cocktail accessories and more ideas.

shown: dewalt drill $89, back to basics book $12, boxers $6, sphere ice cube mold $8, carryon cocktail kit $19

gifts for the gals:

i myself love to get consumable gifts (as well as give consumable gifts). i tend to gift things to the girls in my life that i would also love. partly because i love to share things i love with other people, and partly because i think that universally, most of us like to be pampered. and if we don’t like it, well, we need it in our life. self-care is important! so hand creams, bath salts, makeup, even clothes that i wouldn’t normally buy for myself are all good bets in my book. (here’s my gift guide for her from last year too…still good!)

gift guide for the gals in your life. easy pampering ideas from smartwool socks to makeup kits to bath salts.

shown: athleta en route dress $69 (on sale now!), clinique ‘whole lotta chubby’ set $25, san francisco bath salt company detox soak $10, smartwool socks $20, l’occitane almond delights $16

gifts for the kids:

in our house, we decided that until the kids were a little older, we would do the “something they want/something they need/something to wear/something to read” gift plan. so this year Amelia will be getting a couple little stocking stuffers like crayons and socks, and her gifts will have cost under $50 total. she will enjoy the things she’s getting, but because she is so young, doesn’t need us to buy her crazy gifts…plus, she has grandparents that love to do that. ūüôā the great thing is that there are so many great toys out there, you can spend as little or as much as you want to stay within your budget.

gift guide for young kids. a mix of useful and fun gifts are perfect for young kids while still being fun.

shown: pottery barn backpack (i got mine on sale) $29.50, Christmas socks $2,¬†the story of Christmas book¬†$7,¬†toy cleaning kit (Amelia loves to “help” clean)¬†$26, cozy outfit $20

gifts for the parents:

if your parents are anything like mine, you know they deserve more than you could ever buy them. you also know that they probably have a lot of stuff already, making them extremely difficult to buy for. so go for the stuff that means a lot: tickets to an event that means a lot to you both. a day out together. or create something nostalgic like a photo book to show them how much you care about your time together. lotion for mom and a good bottle of scotch for dad can’t hurt either.

gift guide for parents. what to get the people who gave you everything and have everything? make some memories, and pamper them.

shown: theatre tickets (source) $60, glenlivet scotch $52, shutterfly photo book¬†(source) $variable, l’occitane hand cream $50,

i hope that this provided a bit of inspiration as you finish shopping for those hard to shop for people in your life. i myself devour holiday gift guides during this time of year. you never know when you’re going to stumble on that perfect, genius idea you didn’t know you needed. here are a couple of my favorites i’ve already seen pop up around the internets if you need even more inspiration.

all that’s glittered¬†(for girls & for giving back)

cup of jo (for men)

dash of serendipity (for under $30)

merry shopping!

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apple cider sangria recipe.

how to make an easy apple cider sangria. perfect for holiday parties.

we are now smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, and you know what that means. lots of parties, lots of hosting, lots of friends and family, and lots of need for fun drink recipes. this apple cider sangria recipe is a great addition to any party, because you can make a lot at once, and it’s incredibly easy to throw together ahead of time. in fact, i suggest you make it ahead of time.

[in related news, i did my first periscope the other day! it was simultaneously amazing/fun/terrifying/weird/wonderful. thank you to everyone who was able to join in or watch the replay. this is the recipe that i showed how to make, and there were some requests to put it on the blog for easy access. i aim to please, so here it is!]

apple cider sangria is a great variation on traditional sangria. it’s a fun¬†twist on¬†the classic drink, with just enough seasonal flavor to make it fun, but not enough to make it a pain to make. sangria should be made at least an hour ahead of time, the more time the flavors have to mix and marinate, the better. i’m including a full list of ingredients for you, but i do¬†note the optional ingredients, as sangria should really be made according to your personal tastes. don’t like sugar? don’t add any. like a lot of fruity flavor? add more cider. half the fun is tweaking the recipe to suit your audience. (which hopefully is a large group of friends and family, but if it’s just you, that’s cool too.¬†i won’t tell.)




apple cider sangria (makes one pitcher, can be easily adjusted to make more)

  • half an apple, chopped
  • half an orange, sliced
  • 1/2 C. pomegranate seeds
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (you can also use 1/2 tsp. cinnamon spice if you don’t have any cinnamon sticks.)
  • 1 bottle of cheap red wine
  • 2-3 C. apple cider
  • 1/4 C. brandy (optional. you can also use¬†apple liqueur, apple brandy, bourbon, whiskey or nothing. this just adds more layers to the flavor in the sangria.)
  • 1/4 C. sugar (optional. you can also use a sweet pomegranate juice or something similar to add more sweetness.)

add the fruit and cinnamon sticks¬†to a large pitcher. pour the wine, cider and brandy into the pitcher. if you’re adding sugar, stir in at the end. taste the mix (but not too much!)¬†and adjust flavors accordingly. let sit in the fridge until serving. ¬†you can make this in advance, as early as the night before, but the morning before serving is ideal. salud!


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holiday gift guide: for her.

it’s that time of year. stores are putting out christmas decorations altogether too early, i’ve heard a couple christmas carols on tv, and people are starting to ask around, “what do you want for christmas?” bro, it’s not even thanksgiving yet (although, it’s like two weeks away, which means december is almost here which means i go back to work way too soon…) don’t get me wrong, i think that christmas belongs in december, but since i’m trying out this new thing called “preparing for future events ahead of time”, i thought that i’d put together a couple fun gift guides, since i always am at a loss for what to ask for and, more importantly, what to get that dang husband of mine!

i’ll be starting today with a gift guide for the ladies, which, let’s be honest, is basically my own personal gift guide. i’ll also be doing a gift guide for the gentlemen, and a gift guide for the miscellaneous lovely people in your life. i thought for about two seconds about doing a gift guide for baby, but it would have consisted of a wet washcloth to suck on, and maybe a piece of wrapping paper to play with if they’re old enough. our little amelia will be getting a donation to her savings account from us this year, because she doesn’t know the difference, and we have no room in our house for more of her stuff.

feel free to add items from your wish lists in the comments below. i’m nosy like that and love to know what people are coveting!

1. new makeup is one of those gifts that just makes me happy. but also makeup is super personal, right? so the only logical answer is a sephora gift card. every time i see that black and white bag under the tree, my girly heart skips a beat.

2. i’m super partial to leggings and¬†yoga pants¬†of any kind these days. call it the cliche mom in me. my usual favorite is athleta (seriously, who can i talk to about getting a sponsorship yo?), but i just ordered these trina turk gems from yoga outlet, and i’m really digging them. the perfect stretch and coverage for if i ever want to leave the house. but really, what lady wouldn’t want a new pair of leggings for christmas? i’m sure i don’t know any.

3. in keeping with the comfort theme, long comfy shirts are one of those things that seem like such an afterthought when you throw them on, but the good ones are so hard to find! you know, the kind that cover your bum, or are the perfect blend of comfy and stylish? i am really into bright colors that can also kind of pass as neutrals, and in my book this neon yellow top from dv by dolce vita totally fits that bill.

4. maybe some ladies would think it was odd to receive a fitbit for a gift, but i would love it. just for the sheer perverse knowledge of how many steps i wasn’t taking…

5. i know that so many people do the new pajama tradition for christmas, and i love that so much. my family does it some years, but not every year. this year, i am jonesing for a set with matching top and bottom, the kind of pajamas that are sophisticated yet comfy, and keep me warm when getting up in the middle of the night with the little lady. these look pretty lovely.

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sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

merry christmas to all of you.


welcome to day 12 of¬†#12daysofblogging! if you’re just joining us, you can find out more about the christmas linkup¬†here. today’s prompt is “merry christmas eve”. get inspired and spread the christmas spirit! share your link below!

can i just say how wonderful it’s been over the last couple of weeks to spend some extra time reflecting on the christmas season for this linkup? this has been such a wonderful experience for me, both in how it encouraged me to be extra thoughtful as christmas approached, and in how many new people it helped me find. a GIGANTIC thank you to my lovely sister-friend amber for running this with me and being just generally wonderful.


and thank you to all of you who have been here with me over the past year. whether you’re a commenter or a secret reader,¬†i hope this christmas brings you all that you could wish for, and peace and love and warmth on top of all of that.

i’ll be taking a break from regular posting to enjoy the holiday with my sweet husband, crazy family, and dear out of town friends that are back home for the quickest of visits. see you on the other side.

love and peace and¬†blessings from the ‘z’ family.


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holiday style in the tundra.


welcome to day 11 of¬†#12daysofblogging! if you’re just joining us, you can find out more about the christmas linkup¬†here. today’s prompt is “baby, it’s cold outside fashion”. get inspired and spread the christmas spirit! share your link below!

i know a lot of you that read this little blog here understand me when i talk about the cold and its various challenges. but i know that a lot of you don’t. for those of you fortunate enough to live in warmer climates, let me tell you, this whole getting dressed business becomes a doozy of a challenge when it’s below zero, and snowing, and you have to go somewhere that sweatpants are not acceptable as your fashion choice.

so what’s a girl to do during the holidays when there are parties to go to? the only answer my friends, is layers. layers upon layers upon more layers. also tights. i’ve said this before and i’ll say it again: tights are sweaters for your legs and should be embraced as often as possible.

and thus, i present to you, erin’s christmas outfit of 2013:

i should also mention that most of my christmas parties are with family. and for some reason that makes me feel like i have license for a little fashion adventure, hence the faux leather shorts. because if you can’t wear faux leather shorts at christmas, when can you, eh?

but you see, it is possible to not look like a marshmallow when you layer for cold weather. i’m wearing a (thin) long sleeved shirt under a wool cardigan, and i have thick tights on under faux leather leggings. if i was feeling really chilly, i probably would have thrown some socks on underneath those booties too.

(i am definitely laughing at my husband here, not pose laughing for the camera)

and to make it a real holiday outfit, i’m a big fan of working in some festive colors like red, gold, burgundy or green. i could have done black tights with a green shirt, or all black with a red cardigan on top too.¬†no shame in bringing the christmas colors into the mix, it’s the time to be festive!

i’m wearing:¬†sweater, banana republic (old) || black shirt, banana republic (old) || faux leather shorts, forever 21 (similar here) || tights, target || booties, target (similar here)

hmmm, this may have been my very first style post on here….thoughts/feeling/concerns about this type of thing? any interest in hearing me awkwardly describe my style choices again on the blog?


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