2010 holiday gift guide: the best friend

These gifts are for that girl who has a very special place in my heart. She has had an insanely rough year and has given more of herself than I thought humanly possible. Her strength, patience, and sacrifice makes me honored to call myself her friend. You know who you are and I love you, more than you know. When everything slows down, please remember to take some time for yourself.

A book about hotdogs because she smiles every time she eats one and you really just want to see her smile, $11

A head massager to relieve tension and stress, $6

A Wooden Tea Chest because she loves tea dates and she really loves little wooden tea boxes too, $30

A spa pedicure friend date to relax and chat, $ depends on where you go

Chocolate Pretzel clusters (or some other yummy goodness), $4

What gift ideas do you have for your best friend?


2010 holiday gift guide: the husband

This is for the husband who has been super patient with me over the past few weeks while I have been a little cranky. This is for the guy who has everything and never really needs anything. This is for the husband who doesn't really know how to pamper himself (unless you force it upon him). And these are a few stocking stuffers since we aren't exchanging gifts this year. (But remember what happened last year?)

A Satin Hands set (the best I have tried) to get rid of dry winter hands that have been bothering him, $34

Some beer glasses for his favorite beer, $15.50

A potty book since he is weirdly fascinated with bathrooms and what goes on in them, $10

A Lego truck since legos are fun and he likes trucks, $35

Anchorman pencils because he still quotes Ron Burgundy everyday, $6

I just realized a five year old would enjoy a lot of these gifts. Is your significant other young at heart?


2010 holiday gift guide: the new orleans lover

This is our first gift guide for a reader (who would like to remain anonymous for "surprise" reasons.) He wanted some help with a Christmas gift for his boyfriend who loves New Orleans.

A gift basket to make coffee and yummy beignets like the ones at Cafe du Monde, $25

The World Famous Hurricane Mix from Pat O'Briens on Bourbon Street, $4.50 (not incl. rum) - now all you need is the piano!

A Trombone Shorty CD to dance around the living room (beignet in one hand, hurricane in the other), $12.65

A New Orleans print to frame and show off his NOLA pride, $15 for an 8x10

Glazed Pecan Praline Caramels inspired by New Orleans, $9

A jester hat so he is ready for Mardi Gras, $6

One of my favorite things to do for birthdays, showers, etc. is to put together my own gift baskets. A New Orleans gift basket with all these goodies would be a great idea.

Anyone else have good NOLA gift ideas?


2010 holiday gift guide: the francophile

These gifts are for the girl you sat through high school and college French with. She loves all things French just like you. (And creepily likes to stalk French people, just like you.)

A petit box of macarons for her sweet tooth, $13

A crepe pan kit to make delicious nutella crepes at home, $40

A striped tee for classic French style, $40

A soap set so she can feel like she is in Provence, $22

A set of steady sticks to be able to bring her French wine on a picnic, $25

What frenchified things do you want for Christmas?


happy thanksgiving

I hope you are stuffing yourself with all that is Thanksgiving!

Reasons why I am thankful:

1. I am healthy which gives me the ability to go the beach, travel, take a walk in the park, and frolic in the snow with Peyton (who I am also thankful for.)

2. I have a supportive and loving family and I know they will always have my back (even when I do something stupid - which is a lot).

3. I have the GREATEST friends. No really. The GREATEST! I think I have realized this more over the past year. My heart just swells typing this. (The only way they could be more like my family would be if I could adopt them all).

4. I have the best husband. He still stays so patient and sweet even with all of my shenanigans. As Kathy put it the other night over a few beers, "Who else would put up with you? Because, let's be honest, you are IMPOSSIBLE."

Why are you thankful?

{image from here}

2010 holiday gift guide: the teacher

Or should I say teacherssss. I have a few friends who just started teaching this year and wouldn't it be great to get them things to help them in their first year?

A print with a cool classroom appropriate quote, $20

Some personalized pencils so students that borrow them don't walk away with them, $7

A plant to make their classroom a bit more cozy (just make sure it does well with artificial lighting like this fern), $31

A cute tote to carry all their graded papers to and from school, $20

Some cool tape to use for decorating their rooms or bulletin boards, $12

And if you are a parent trying to decide on a present for your child's teacher: hold off on the mugs however tempting it may be. My mom used to come home with a ridiculous amount of those during Christmas and the end of the school year. We didn't have room for all of them year after year. A heart felt note from the student is probably better. (Or a gift card to a teacher supply store, especially for new teachers. Teachers spend a lot of their own money on supplies for their classrooms on an already low salary.)

Any teachers out there with more ideas?


2010 holiday gift guide: the hostess

This post is for the friend who is always planning, cooking, and entertaining. Her social calendar is so full, you have to plan to see her weeks in advance (which makes a tea date with her even more exciting.

An owl bottle cozy, because she loves owls and she loves wine, $8

A filled-pancake pan for feeding those overnight guests, $40

A party book filled with recipe and style tips, $50

A Moleskine planner to keep track of all her dates, $17

A Christmas Cookie candle since Yankee candles are her favorite, $25

Any ideas for your hostess with the mostess?


2010 holiday gift guide: the baker

This gift guide is dedicated to the co-worker who is always baking and bringing delicious treats into work. (I am kind of hoping I can share a blog with you soon.) She also loves eating and talking about food as much as I do. Thank god, they put our cubicles next to each other.

Polka Dot Baking Cups to dress up her cupcakes, $17

Burger Band-aids, because we work in a hospital and she loves food, $7

A pretty rolling pin for all of those apple pies she is going to make you the office, $18

A mini springform pan to make her yummy cheesecakes in a cuter size, $7.50

A donut book since she has been wanting to learn how to make them, $19

Ok, now I want some pie. Lucky for me, Thanksgiving is this week!


2010 holiday gift guide

Since the holiday season is upon us, I thought I would do a gift guide this year. I thought I would have more time to plan and figure out a format but the holidays sort of snuck up on me. (Next week is Thanksgiving? WHAT?)

So maybe this year I figured I would go with this format:
1. I will dedicate each post to a person in my life, describe the lucky person who is getting all these hypothetical gifts, and then list the gifts for you.
2. Because of the wedding this year, money is tight. I will keep all gifts under $50 for those of you who are also looking to budget.

Now, here comes the fun part. If you are struggling to find a gift for someone, write me an email at morgan.designblanc@gmail.com and describe the person that you need a gift for. I will search high and low for some finds under $50 for you (or if you are on a different budget let me know) and I will post it on the blog.

How does that sound? Any suggestions?

{image via here}


francophile friday: manger et boire in bordeaux, france

Ok so this list may be more for me than for you. I had a couple of favorite places that I ate (and drank) at while in Bordeaux, France and I have been searching my brain to remember the names of some of the places. With the help of google, google maps (yes, I remember where they were just not their names), and my friend, Jenny, I have figured out what they are called. But I figured if anyone was headed to the city of Bordeaux, this may be helpful.

6 place de parlement
Sadly, I wasn't introduced to Karl until later during my semester in Bordeaux. I went there for breakfast a few times on weekends. It does get busy so get there before you are hungry. I used to get the Petit dejeuner du "Boulanger" which consisted of a drink and a basket of bread with butter, jam, honey, and Nutella. You can visit their website here. {For those that don't speak French: Click on the photos link to see their restaurant. It is so beautiful (kind of what my dream kitchen looks like). To view the menu, click on "La carte." If you scroll to the bottom they have the menu for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon. You will have to search the words in English. I suggest this website here.}

Gopala Krsna and Co
69 rue des Ayres
We went to this Indian tea salon a few times. I didn't always get tea, though. My favorite thing to get was rose lassi. That's right - rose! I still have yet to find a place in the US that sells rose lassi. I wasn't wild about the food, though. This would be a good place to stop and have an afternoon break from touring the city. That is pretty much what we did. You sit on the floor with pillows and beautiful fabrics curtains giving you privacy. You can find their website here.

Le Cafe Japonais
22 Rue Saint-Simeon
This was a great sushi place - you could tell the fish was very fresh. My friend, Jenny, and I used to go on many sushi dates. If it is nicer outside, they have tables outdoors so you can sit on the street. (I never got a chance to do that, though.) It is very close to the Grand Theatre - just start there and walk down Rue Sainte Catherine and, if I remember correctly, this street is right off there. You can find their website here.

The Houses of Parliament
11 Rue de Parliament Ste Catherine

Of course, I am living in France and I go to a British bar, right? Actually, my French friend, Jenny, studied in America the year before I was in France and really liked this bar. She laughed at me the first time we went there because I ordered in French and the bartender answered back in English, with a very attractive British accent. We used to go a lot on Thursday nights when it was ladies' night and they have discounted glasses of wine. It was also really fun when I first got to France in September and they had a bar outside on the street. The rugby world cup was going on in France and the bar was crazy (as was all the other bars and cafes in Bordeaux). During normal times they have multiple TVs with soccer on. (I found myself going for the really cute bartender.) You can find their website here. And while you are in Bordeaux, of course, try some of the french bars, as well. I would go to those on weekends (when I wasn't traveling).

Donuts Coffee
46 Rue Trois Consils (I think)

A friend and I discovered this while walking around on a cold dreary day in Bordeaux. We just had to go in - did you see the name of the place? It's not "Donuts and Coffee," just "Donuts Coffee." I like to say it really fast like I am in a rush. They have really great design-your-own sandwiches. You go up to the counter, get a little piece of paper, and check off what you want on your sandwich. The chevre was to die for. Of course, you need to be able to read a little bit of French to fill it out but the people there were so nice, I am sure they could help you out. They don't have formal sitting areas - just a bunch of comfy seats throughout the shop. I wish I had found this place a little earlier because it would have been a great place to stop in for lunch when I was out and about the city for the day.

Pain & Compagnie
64 Rue des Remparts
I am pretty sure this is the name of the place. But I had the best quiche I have ever had at this place. Enough said. You can find their website here.

And, of course, there are plenty of restos to grab un café. What are some of your favorite places to eat in your city?


a little bit of happy

I was over at Pink of Perfection the other day reading a post about taking care of yourself. Her mom had taught her to keep a list of "instant cheer-ups" for days when she is feeling blue. I had actually never heard of this before, but what a fabulous idea!

I think every once in awhile, we need to take time for ourselves - to rejuvenate, to reflect, to heal. And, although, I think our culture (in the US, especially) would say this is selfish, I think it is quite the opposite. If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of others to the best of your ability. (In the past year, I have also learned the power of saying no, but more on that later.)

So I thought it would be good to make a list of cheer-ups for myself and, if you don't mind, I would like to share them with you.

1. Snuggling with the Peyton pup . . . or the Hubs . . . or a bunch of my friends . . . or all of them together. I guess I really just love snuggling.
2. Eating some of my favorite comfort foods: macaroni and cheese, au gratin potatoes, grilled cheese - ok, you get the picture.

3. Taking a bubble bath and bringing my laptop into the bathroom to watch Gossip Girl.

4. Putting on sweats and lying on the couch with a cup of tea (in a BIG cup that you can barely wrap your hands around - there's something about holding that cup and breathing the warm steam in).

5. Calling one of my friends to vent or just to chat. Sadly, they all live so far away now. I wish they were closer so I could drive to their house for an "instant" cheer-up.

6. Listing the reasons I am lucky in my head.

7. Wine.
8. Getting a pedicure or facial (or giving myself one).

9. Taking a Pilates class.

10. Putting on loud music, closing the blinds, and dancing around the living room with the pup.

11. Going on an impromptu adventure with the Hubs or a friend.What would be on your list?


obsessing over window nooks

When I was little, one of the movies I used to watch over and over again was Annie. You know, the one from the 80s with Bernadette Peters and Carol Burnett. There is a scene when Annie is singing and sitting on a window nook. I was obsessed - one day, I too, would have a window nook to sit and look out the window. And I am still obsessed.

I love the thought of curling up with a good book and a cup of tea in the fall as the leaves outside change colors. Or watching the snow fall, while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate. A nook is even helpful in the summer to enjoy the sun's rays when it is too hot to go outside.

Here are some nooks I love:

Maybe I can finally knit that scarf I have been talking about.

What is better than a window nook? One with built in bookshelves around it.

I love how this one is big enough to lay down and take a nap.

Lots of bright light through tall windows - and lots of bright colors too

Well, this one is definitely perfect to watch a Christmas snow fall all bundled up in a sweater.

I think I am adding this to my list for when I build my dream house. Would you enjoy a nook?

{images via here, here, and here}