For My Valentine: Gift Guide

For My Valentine: Gift Guide

For My Valentine: Gift Guide by oykristen // 1. Anthropologie Painted Poppies iPhone 5C Case // 2. John Mark Comer's Loveology // 3. Anthropologie Origami Swan Necklace // 4. Kate Spade New York Secret Garden Stud // 5. Paper Source Awesome Gold Foil Card // 6. Terrain Made With Love Spoon // 7. Anthropologie Peony Pop Bathrobe // 8. Aerie Silky Chiffon Tank // 9. Aeri Silky Chiffon Boxer // 10. Nespresso Citiz Espresso Maker With Automatic Milk Frother //

Happy Valentines, Valentine.

Oh Valentines Day. Some years I think that this is such a silly holiday. But this year, I am thankful for a frivolous reason to celebrate, especially with the weather being so dreary. (I haven't complained enough about the weather, have I??) There's just something nice about all that fluffyness and flowers and the relentless red and pink. And I think it's especially fun to love on people around you - your grandmother, your nieces and nephews, your in-laws. It's a grand affection fest! So dip your toes in this ocean of loving potion and have some fun with it.

These are some fun gift ideas for that special someone. PS, that can be YOU! You're worth celebrating, my friend.

1. Anthropologie Painted Poppies iPhone 5C Case

Adorable, who wouldn't want their phone decked out in such whimsy?

2. John Mark Comer's Loveology

Great read. This is one Seattle pastor's take on the theology of love, sex, and marriage. Woo hoo, getting crazy!

3. Anthropologie Origami Swan Necklace

A bit pricey, but oh so unique. A worthy splurge, if I could :-)

4. Kate Spade New York Secret Garden Stud

Does Kate Spade ever get it wrong? These are the peppiest way to perk up the ears. A little sparkle thrown in for good measure.

5. Paper Source Awesome Gold Foil Card

All cards should be this awesome. And bright. And foiled.

6. Terrain Made With Love Spoon

This one makes me giggle. I would really like to whip this out on an unexpected day for a heaping of baking bliss.

7. Anthropologie Peony Pop Bathrobe

Oh, I'm lusting. I want this with a fiery passion. The photo doesn't do it justice. I took at peek at it in-store and it is just sooooo decadent and soft. Such a pretty way to lounge, yes?

8. & 9. Aerie Silky Chiffon Tank & Boxer

How adorable is this set? Again, I'm not one for a fancy night out on Valentines. Just a good movie and comfy, semi-frilly home clothes.

10. Nespresso Citiz Espresso Maker With Automatic Milk Frother

This is the big kahuna. If you've ever had a Nespresso espresso beverage, you've officially died and gone to Heaven. When we were in Paris this summer, the couple we stayed with (via airbnb) had one of these delicious contraptions. I made like, 2 espressos every day. And I've been craving it every since. If this were a Valentine gift, ooh baby... I don't know what I would do. Other than stay hopped up on lattes 24/7.

Ladies, just send your guy this link and (hopefully!) he will snag something good for your Valentine celebration this year.

Happy Gifting!

Windy Weekend in Chicago

"Boys, Chicac-y is the biggest noise in Illinois.'' - Doris Day as Calamity in Calamity Jane

The Windy City.

What a town. You've got to cue this jam while you read, because, well, this has been my childhood impression of Chicago. Warren and Meredith are some of our best friends from Boston, and just two weekends ago they got hitched in the grand Chicago History Museum. Stevie and I both had the privilege of being a part of the ceremony, which means we got an up-close view of their loving "I-do's." Not only was witnessing their commitment to one another completely poignant and beautiful, we had the best time exploring (and munching) our way through this spectacular (and truly windy!) city. Cheers to our new favorite couple!

// Cloud Gate at Millennium Park, AKA "the bean" //


Our friends spoiled us rotten and set us up to stay in one of the poshest areas of town. We lived it up in an Air B&B, just south of Lincoln Park and just around the corner from Michigan Avenue. Sooo legit. We jogged around the downtown fancy stores (I went into Topshop, first time ever!), ran along the water front, and through Lincoln Park. It was really windy (why was I surprised?) so the jogging/sightseeing combo was actually a really practical way to see a lot of sights and stay toasty while doing so. We did take a cab over to Millennium Park to see the Bean (aka the Cloud Gate), met our dear friends Andrew and Sarah for lunch and walked along the Chicago Waterfront as the wind whipped around our joyous selves. The fall foliage must have been at its peak for the weekend, because wow; the colors were fiercely outrageous.

// Yes, there were really horse-drawn carriages riding around this completely non-touristy area. Chicago is just that quaint. //


This weekend, we consumed a LOT of Chicago-style pizza. Which isn't really the healthiest option in the world, but in moderation, it's a real treat. If you are interested in tasting all the grandest pizzas in the world like me, then this is just another one to add to the ever-growing list of awesome pizza pies. It's the kind of deep dish that you eat three bites of and you're completely full. It's about 1.5 inches thick (yes, you read that right), richly packed with cheese, sausage and tomato goodness. And the crust! It's buttery and flaky and just wondrous. (Don't start thinking about the calories, I told myself. Hence, the mad amount of jogging.) We ate at Lou Malnati's more than once over the weekend, and I felt like I reached my life quota. Many thanks, Lou.

// Look at that waterfront path! Pretty priceless. //


//  Lake Michigan. You can sigh. //

// Left: The Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears, Right: The famed Drake Hotel //

// We played and ate all weekend. This was one grand affair. //


Strolling along the waterfront of Lake Michigan, hand in hand with my babe, I had a (mini) revelation moment. I have LOVED living in New York for the past 3 months, but there has been a teensy, tiny part of me that has been really nostalgic for Boston in the fall. My time living in Cambridge for two years was tumultuous, terrific, terrifying, but most of all, so treasured. Those cozy winters of hibernating inside... mmm there's nothing like it. But still, I have been really missing the gorgeous foliage along the Charles River that I used to see everyday. However, spending the weekend in Chicago has made me appreciate the sweet memories of Cambridge. And now! Well, here I am, exploring vibrant cities and discovering places where new memories will be created. It's a pretty sweet time in life. And perhaps a bit windy, but nothing that won't blow over.

3/50 NYC Adventures: Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market.

The Chelsea Market is a much-loved little tourist trap. The trendy logo always grabs the attention of the wandering passerby. Even the most jaded of all New Yorkers can't help but find their way into the heart of this scrumptious, bustling and exquisitely warm haven of shopping and treats. This indoor market houses chic shops, trendy eateries, handmade crafts and specialty grocers. In other words, yeah, it's a version of Heaven. A VERSION. Let's dive in, shall we?

What To Do.

You want to spend an afternoon here, and make sure NOT to eat before hand. Because samples will abound. Begin with lunch at Friedmans (they have yummy tomato soup), then wander through the gigantic Anthropologie (I know, I know, it's a chain store but it's also the mother ship. Give it a free pass), then perhaps steal a moment away for a cookie at Sarabeth's (the dove shortbread cookies are my FAVE.) Make sure to browse through the artisan section of the market. This is where tons of start-up designers can showcase and sell their carefully-crafted jewelry and clothes. I especially love Brooklyn Charm, where you can select all the fixin's for a custom-made pendant necklace. My little sis may or may not have one of these around her graceful neck at this very moment :-) And there is always room for gelato, right? Stop by L'Arte de Gelato and try out the stracciatella. Or pistachio. Both are just so delish. Browse the New York cookbook section at Posman Books and learn about all the foodie geniuses that were borne in kitchens throughout this grand city, like MomofukuSorellaSarabeth'sThe Gramercy Tavern and more. And Chelsea Market Baskets has, well you've got it, amazing woven baskets in every shape, size, color, texture, etc. Last but not least, stop by Buon Italia, a fabulously authentic Italian grocery store, and pick up some thinly-sliced procuitto and bufala mozzarella before you leave the market for good. Now you have some delicacies to share when you get home. And then maybe your husband will forgive that you spent hours holed up at the market shopping...

// Anyone spot the most beautiful mother in all the land...? //

This market is a worthwhile (and tasty) experience. I've been bringing almost all our guests here and I tend to pop downtown and walk around this fun spot every few weeks. Like I said, the mother ship is here, so I can't stray too far... I hope you enjoy your Chelsea Market exploration!

Alice's Teacup, Upper West Side

"'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves, did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, and the mome raths outgrabe." - Except from Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carrol from Through the Looking Glass*

Fancy A Scone.

My lovely cousin Amber came into town last week. We traipsed around 5th Avenue and did all sort of girlish things, but one of my most favorites was the dreamy afternoon we spent over tea. As an early birthday surprise, she treated me to an Upper West Side high tea service at the famed Alice's Teacup.

Let me just say. It was quite the delight.

Alice's Offering.

Alice's Teacup is a fondly-known establishment in my hood, though I hadn't been there before. After stepping inside and letting our eyes adjust for a moment, we realized we were in a haven of fantastical fun. Teapots danced across the walls, charming silver spoons posed on the shelves. There was Alice in Wonderland paraphernalia everywhere and, for a gal with a deep-seated love for Alice and her posse of goof-off friends, I couldn't think of a happier place to be. We settled into our enormously overstuffed chairs and scoured the menu. And it was decided. The Madhatter's Delight it is. Which grandly included cucumber and watercress sandwiches, pumpkin and white chocolate scones, fragrant black tea and rich chocolate mousse. Oh, and tea cookies. Can't forget the petite, pretty little cookies that you can nibble with the tips of your teeth. The interior of Alice's is warm & intimate, set off by jeweled colors and topsy-turvy furnishings. It's was so comfortable, you could sit there for hours and get lost in deep conversation. And that's just what we did. Although, it was often interrupted by our deep-bellied howls of laughter that shook the room (and the teacups) and maybe caused a few annoyed glares in our direction. We are both quite the storyteller. And we are both rather loud.

Lets Talk.

This wonderful place made me realize why I am so enchanted by the fancifulness of tea time. It's a frilly event that is really masquerading as quality connection time, enjoying delectable treats over real conversation. Finding out what's running deep along the inner landscape of the magnificent person sitting across from you; taking the time to understand their perspective, look in their eyes and grow with them. It's an enriching, enlightening experience

that somehow always takes place over a hazy, heady cup of tea. I want to note that this is different than coffee time, people. Coffee time is also a sacred time, but in a completely different way. We will discuss that another day.

My day with this girl, ah, I'll never forget it. She's a treasured one.


* Also, this is the first poem I ever memorized. 3rd Grade poetry competition and I can still remember it, can still recite every word by heart. Nonsensical fun really does run deep.

Boston in 48 Hours

This weekend was a joyful whirlwind.

Our dear friends Elliot and Lena came in town to visit and we had a grand time showing off our favorite parts of Beantown. It was 48 hours of serious touring, and it was bittersweet to realize that this would be the last time that we show any of our friends around Boston while we still live here. With our move coming up at the end of the month, we will be bouncing around a few cities (and countries!) this summer and then finally landing in NYC in August. That realization made this weekend all the sweeter.

Spending this weekend with our friends made me realize that many people are weekend travelers. They want to see the best of a city in about 2 days. Since I've lived in Boston for about 2 years now, I thought I would share my favorite itinerary for Boston's sights. If you have an inkling to visit Boston for a weekend but aren't sure quite what to do or where to go, look no further. I've got your back. Here's a doable (haha, sort of) itinerary to give you the highest points of Boston:

Friday Eve.


// Arrive Boston. It's dinnertime. Best spots in Harvard Square are Russell House (American-style pub), Park (delicious Northeastern vibe), Bertucci's (slammin' Italian pizza, I don't care that it's a chain), Wagamama (Japanese fusion with delicious fresh juices). Any of these will do. Note: If you're rolling in the benjamins, stay at the Charles Hotel. If you're not quite rollin', stay at The Inn at Harvard, or if you're lucky enough, crash on your friends' couch.


// Whoopie Pies at Clover Food Lab. These are made fresh, only on Fridays, and GOOOOD. Don't miss this simple and satisfying dessert. 


// Drinks at John Harvards. Order the sampler, it's always changing and always good. Look around the bar tables and get a feel for the college students in this joint. Pretend you're in a finals club (Harvard's version of a frat) and attempt to sneak into one of their parties. Obviously.


// Drinks and Live Music at the Plough and Stars, conveniently located within a super short walking distance to our apartment. Order the Dark and Stormy. You won't be disappointed.



// Coffee, my Mango Coconut Baked Oatmeal and H20. You will need it for the following:


// Freedom Trail Run. This 5k-length running tour of the 17 most historical spots in Boston gives you all the history you want, at a quickened pace (it would take hours to walk all the noteworthy touring spots) and this all happens before lunch. It might be hard to pull yourself out of bed after staying out until 2am the night before but it is totally worth it. You will feel so efficient, fit and like you learned a ton. But not too much.

Note: I've done this run about 7-8 times by now and it is the best tour by far. Tell Eddie-O that the Hales sent you, he is such a doll.


// Harpoon Brewery Tour. After running for 2 hours straight, give yourself a bit of a break and cab it over to this brewery on the Harbor. We waited in line for a few minutes, devoured some of Harpoon's famous German-style hot pretzels and seasonal watermelon ale, and took a delightful tour of the brewery. So. Worth it.


// Wipe the pretzel crumbs off your face. You will need a shower by now. So head back to your hotel/crash pad and take one. Bring a lightweight coat for the second half of your day.


// Tour Harvard Business School. You don't have to do this, but since it's my husband's new Alma Mater, our friends wanted to see what it was all about. You could sub in this time and take a tour of Fenway Park or walk Newbury Street. But I'm not gonna lie, the school is impressively pretty. And if you're there in the spring time, you will probably get to see the hundreds of bunny rabbits frolicking all over the campus. I have a strong theory that the school places them there purposefully, because they really add to the precious vibe of the campus. Of course Harvard would have quaint bunny rabbits blanketing their green grasses.


// Early dinner at Giacamo's in the South End. Delicious authentic Italian for affordable prices. Get the calamari. And the house pasta sauce is the best. You can make a reservation here (unlike a lot of spots in Boston), so DO IT.


// Post dinner walk in the South End towards Back Bay. We walked towards Copley Plaza and saw the Boston Marathon Bombing Memorial. Couldn't stay too long because it was still really intense and a bit too fresh on all our minds.


// Subway to the North End. This is the legit Italian district in Boston, and it is a thriving mini-metropolis of bakeries, restaurants, bars and street musicians. It's a must-see, especially since Paul Revere's House and the Old North Church are located here.


// Cannolis at Mike's Pastry. You will be ridiculed if you come to Boston and don't eat here. Bring cash. And bring your brute face; you've got to find a table in this cramped place and you won't get one by being syrupy sweet.


// Stanza dei Sigari is a cigar parlor next to Mike's. Only if you're into that kind of thing.


// Sleeeeeeeeep.


10am // Brunch at Grafton Street. So delicious. Order the seasonal cocktail, it's out of this world. You could also try out Cafe Luna or Henrietta's Table, but make sure to make a reservation a few days in advanced.


// May Day Street Fair in Harvard Square completely distracted us, but it was a lot of fun. Vendors galore.


// Subway to Park Street. Walk around the Boston Common (America's oldest established park) and the Boston Public Gardens (my personal favorite outdoor spot in Boston) because it's totally gorgeous. Feel free to stop by the Cheers bar along the side of the Garden.


// Walk down Charles Street in Beacon Hill. This is the ritzier area of the city, lots of lovely brownstones and boutiques. Imagine that you're one of the fancy people who live here with a little dog. Walk towards the water and find your way on to the Esplanade, a peninsula that juts out into the Charles River.


// Enjoy your last sweet treat in Boston at Berryline in Harvard Square. This is a local frozen yogurt place that has new flavors every week, like fruity pebbles and basil-blueberry. Out of this world. I probably live a bit too close to this place, in all honesty.

Wrap it Up.

I imagine you will be jumping on a flight back to your hometown on Sunday evening. Hopefully this weekend is chock-full of all the good stuff you would want to see in Boston. I think it's a comprehensive, but doable, itinerary. Boston is a resilient, proud and classy town and there is obviously so much more to do than can be accomplished in 48 hours. A few items that would be worthwhile add-ons (in my entirely biased opinion) are Berklee College of Music, the Boston Public Library, the Minuteman Biking Trail and the Haymarket. Anything historical that I haven't specifically mentioned is most likely covered in the Freedom Trail Running Tour.

Have you ever been to Boston? Anything you would add to this list?