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the official 2010 Matalie Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again- when children’s heads are filled with visions of dancing sugar plums and well-designed gifts they may receive. I got quite a response to my gift guide last year, so here you go again. Below you will find a visual compilation of beautiful, functional and aesthetically pleasing things broken up in the categories of Want, Wear, Need & Read for both adults and kids. I tried to be very affordable, very practical, very design-conscious. A lot of this stuff we have (and love). A lot of it we have on our lists. A lot we’d love (and may be planning) to give as gifts. So you’re welcome, for filling both your shopping list & want list.



Araiya helped me with this list. The number 1 thing she wanted was ice skates and the number 1 thing she thought other kids would want was How to Train Your Dragon movie.

  • Edible Gold Star Sprinkles :: These would be so festive & fun for Holiday baking!
  • Smart Gear Balance Bikes :: Our girls each have one of these & ride them ALL the time (and don’t worry, they come in other colors). There are many other wooden balance bike companies out there, I decided on these for the reasonable price & quality of construction.
  • West Elm Snow Globes :: Tallis has been wanting a snow globe, but they all seem to be so kitschy, but these ones are not only beautiful in their simplicity, they also exude a sort of magic I haven’t found in a lot of other options we’ve seen.
  • Roller Skates / Ice Skates :: Araiya wants Ice Skates. I love imagining her getting to skate around a frozen pond in a pair of white classic figure skates. But for practicality, we threw in some vintage-style roller skates as well for those of us who, like us, don’t live in a place where ponds actually freeze.
  • Colorforms set :: Classic design, right here.
  • Fischer Price ViewMaster :: I love the nostalgia of toys I played with making a resurgence, especially ones with such a tactile style of play.
  • How to Train Your Dragon DVD :: I’ll admit our girls watch this movie FAR more than they ought too. But to be perfectly honest, it is such a great movie that we all love it.
  • Maharam Memory Game :: Another classic game that we never outgrow. Araiya is a master at memory. This set uses classic Modern textile designs from the mid-century designers as matchable patterns.
  • EuroSled :: This seems very Scandinavian to me, like I could stick all 3 of my kids on it and use it as a mode of transportation down snow-covered sidewalks.



Growing up I always got clothes for Christmas. Opening the box was anticipation of having either to have a fake-it-til-you-make-it reaction of  genuine liking it’s contents or being pleasantly surprised in the actual wearability of the gift. However, with the above options, most of which I would actually want to wear, I figure you can’t go wrong.

  • House Shoes :: Something warm & snuggly to hang out in. Plus they come in hot pink.
  • Patagonia Fleece Mittens :: We have several pairs of these and they are hands down awesome (pun intended). From the great colors to the tight elastic that helps them stay on little hands, these are the best winter mittens we’ve found.
  • CrewCuts :: Anything from the mini version of J. Crew apparel, Crew Cuts, is sure to please. One of the only well-tailored children’s clothing stores making classically styled yet youthful digs. My favorite kid’s clothes source at fairly reasonable prices (though I shop only their sale section) and everything we have ever bought here has been amazing quality, fit and look.
  • Patagonia Down Jackets :: We spend so much time in the snow & cold I know exactly how important it is for kids to have appropriate gear to help them stay warm, dry & comfortable. Of course looking good doesn’t hurt either.
  • Kid’s Wool Fingerless Gloves :: Another Araiya pick. She envisions having a pair of these to play at the park in, but they must be pink. Lots of beautiful selections on Etsy.
  • Sparkly Tom’s Kid’s Shoes :: Tom’s are awesome. With your shoe purchase, you not only outfit the recipient of your gift with a pair of adorable shoes, but another pair goes globally to a child in need. I love being able to support a company with an amazing, giving business model working to do good and provide where it is desperately needed.
  • Rumba Watch :: Our girls have been learning to tell time and think obviously having a watch will help with that endeavor. But it’s really hard to find a kid’s watch without some licensed character or hodge-podge of primary colors swirled all over it. These silicone digital watches are simple enough for a kid to read and stylish enough for everyone.



The Need category is always a challenging one. Sure, my kid’s ‘need’ some new socks, but what a boring gift to open up. Hopefully these choices spur some new excitement into getting practical gifts.

  • Modern Wooden Advent Calendar :: I’ve been looking for a nice, modern advent calendar we can reuse and refill year after year. Boy are they hard to come by. This one caught my eye a simple, clean and cute.
  • Bern 4-season Helmet :: Between the bikes, roller skates, ice skates & skiing, Lids on Kids is super important. Our girls know helmets are a must and we just picked up Araiya this bubblegum pink one for ski season. This one has interchangeable liners to use year round- one that keeps them warm and one to vent for cooling. We’re loving this helmet!
  • Ruffled Shower Curtain :: What could be more practical than a shower curtain? Given we’re in the middle of a remodel and needing to put the kid’s bathroom back together soon, I came across this one from Urban Outfitter’s. Not your typical shower curtain, it surely would add some girly flair to our house without being OVERLY girly.
  • Feterie Personalized Lunchbox :: For those of us looking in the not-so-far-away future of starting school, packing a lunch everyday is right around the corner. I love these personalized metal lunch boxes they’re sure to not mix up in the hoard of plastic ones that all look the same.
  • Chalk Board Paint :: I’ve always dreamed of painting a wall with magnetic chalkboard paint to fill with doodles & notes & lists.
  • Party People Chopstick Set :: We got a few sets of these to give out in goodie at Araiya’s Birthday Party (at a sushi restaurant). Our girls use these all the time at home now. The colors are fun, they’re reusable, easy to clean and super functional for even the smallest hands.
  • Hi-Di-Hi ClickBaggie Maxi Plus :: A modern schoolbag with lots of storage, pockets, a reflector stripe for safety- the ultimate gear for getting them, and their hoards of stuff, to school & back. Super cute too!!



Our girls love to read (or, rather, be read to) and Araiya is just starting to be able to read on her own. They also love longer stories we can go through together a chapter at a time. So I have tried to include something for everyone. All titles are available through Amazon or other bookstores, so I didn’t include links.

  • the Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer :: A series of books and workbooks providing a read-aloud narrative of world history. This series is fantastic, we’ve only scratched the surface of the text on ancient times. These present history in small chunks, and is written in an engaging, story-like manner without dry subject matter is “watered down”, introducing the facts and terminology that are relevant to the subject in such a rich, imaginative way bringing history to life.
  • Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park :: Classic and fun. These are a light, entertaining set of stories sure to keep kids engaged and enjoying reading together. I look forward to the day they are reading these on their own!
  • Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown :: Beautifully illustrated. Simple and funny twist on kids and pets that makes us laugh out loud.
  • Doodle All Year :: Part of the Doodle Book series, these imaginative and interactive coloring books provide very open-ended suggestions for what to draw, complete or create on each page. Araiya got this for her Birthday and LOVES it! I feel it allows her to be very free and creative while making her think and problem solve at the same time.
  • How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell :: So we’ve seen the movie (like 50 times), now I want to read the girls the book.
  • BOB Books :: Awesome little readers for the learning to read crowd. I like how these organize and present the material without being boring or too ‘school-like’ with doing formal lessons. These allow Araiya to feel more independent in her reading as these are super intuitive and there’s not much direction for the parents to give, so I’m not telling her what to do most of the time.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis :: Another instance where we watched the movie before reading the book. I’d love to read through the entire series with the girls.
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman & S. Morganstern :: One of my favorite movies, the book expands so much more yet they’ve done such a wonderful job following the movie so closely with the text, the book (although really long) is easy to read and keep the girls engaged because they have the knowledge of the storyline and characters already in their heads from enjoying the movie.



I think because we are steeped in Remodeling and have no kitchen, there is an underlaying theme of food and goodies for my want list. It’s really hard to do Christmas Cookies & baking without an oven, and of course that is one thing that really puts me in the Holiday Mood. Bummer.

  • Uncommon Custom iPhone Case :: I’ve had these on my watch list for a while and have been figuring out how to incorporate them into my photography biz as a product offering. These impact-resistant polymer cases are thermally printed with an image you upload, so can be completely one-of-a-kind.
  • Sparkles Kitchen French Macaroons :: Beautiful AND Edible? Yes please. Macaroons are so cute, and these come in so many different choices shipped right to you. I mean, seriously- that grey is just perfect.
  • Cast Iron Fondue Pot :: We have a long standing love of Fondue. Cheese, oil, chocolate, broth- it’s all good. When we first got married we purchased a very cheap fondue pot, which has since met it’s demise. It’s time for something that can hold up and last, but doesn’t cost hundreds of bones. This affordable one from Crate & Barrel caught my eye.
  • Desert Decorator Pro :: Minimize the mess in the Kitchen trying to decorate cookies & frost cakes. Made of stainless steel and designed for one handed use. Way better than trying to fill, use and clean a bag, if you ask me.
  • Beverage Dispenser :: I looked and looked for one of these last summer, but all I could find was acrylic (not glass) or a very poorly designed spigot. I spotted this one in Crate & Barrel’s storefront a few weeks ago and it’s perfect. Stainless steel & glass- two of the most perfect modernist materials.
  • Whimsey & Spice :: Brooklyn, NY baker married to a graphic designer- together they create, photograph and package beautiful baked goods right to your door. Cardamon or Espresso Hand-Crafted Marshmallows? Um, YUM?!?
  • The Double Shot Camera :: As a Film Photographer, I know I have a limited number of shots on each roll. I love shooting the fun randomness of our family adventures and these adorable little cameras get double the bang for the buck but putting two shots in one frame of 35mm film. So instead of taking the usual 36 expsures, you get a whopping 72 shots per roll.



Another difficult category for me. I actually really loath shopping for clothes & accessories, especially for myself. However, I often come across stuff that is so awesome it makes it onto my lust list.

  • Patagonia Down Sweater :: This weekend I lead on snow clinics up at the ski hill all day, both days. It was darn cold and Sunday night I just could not warm up even after we got home. So these 800-fill down jackets were officially put on this list. Can’t beat a very good looking, lightweight insulation layer (or outerwear) in such awesome colors.
  • Tom’s Shoes (for him & her) :: They’re simple. comfy and responsible. Get one, give one.
  • Nervous System Jewelry :: A design studio using computational design and digital fabrication techniques employing patterns and processes found in nature to create wearable works of art. These have been on my list for quite a while. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but silicone and stainless steel are way cooler.
  • Sorel Caribou Snow Boots (for him & her) :: There’s nothing better than the classics. I grew up in Sorel’s and it’s awesome to see they are still making the same hard-wearing boots at the same high quality they are famous for. Good design works, and it never goes out of style.
  • Uniform Natural Scarf Shop :: I’ve been following Martha from Uniform Studio for years. Not only is she an architect & arch. professor, she utilizes the fundamentals of design and structures an applies them to fabric. These scarves are hand dyed and hand-made. I am in love with the mustard and all shades of grey. She also just released a series of wool jersey scarves. Beautiful!
  • O’Clock Watch :: Who couldn’t use an awesome, minimal, analog watch?
  • House Shoes :: Glorified slippers. Only way cooler.
  • Glove-Mittens :: A bit classic, a bit industrial, a bit warm, a bit functional. Once I owned a pair of wool glove-mittens and they were the most awesome thing on the planet. Then they disappeared and I was sad.



So the last time we were at Costco before letting our membership expire, I asked Matt to go grab himself some new underwear. It wasn’t until we got home & was unpacking we noticed he had bought XXL’s, so while it’s very likely he’ll be finding himself some new boxer-brief’s under the tree this year. In addition, here are some other (more exciting) choices in the Needs category.

  • 4th Amendment Underwear :: State your rights. Let them know they’re spying at the privates of a private citizen. Great for those who fly frequently, get them these Undies printed in Metallic ink stating The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, meant to prevent unwarranted search and seizure, which is readable on TSA body scanners.
  • Classic Clock :: I love this simple, bold san-serif typefaced clock. I think it would be perfect for the Kitchen and helping kids learn to tell time on an analog clock, as it can be read clearly and has a separate seconds hand.
  • Simple iPad Sleeve :: I love industrial Felt. I also love my iPad, which I frequently toss into another bag to carry it along for reading, emailing & writing. It could be far more protected living in this minimalist grey sleeve.
  • Crane Yellow Desk Lamp :: I’ve had my eye on this table-top lighting for the bedroom, though it’d be perfect for an office, living room- whatever. A great blend of 1940′s industrial modern and the perfect shade of mustard.
  • Neutra Mail Box :: The previous owners had slapped a cheap metal box onto our front door. It wasn’t until after we moved in we realized not only was the lid broken, they had spray painted a shiny brass mailbox silver. Somehow we’ve put up with that POS for over 3 years, and it is in desperate need of replacing. The NeutraBox, which is hand-crafted and built to last, not to mention looks incredible, would be an amazing upgrade.
  • Go-Cart Carbon Desk :: We refer to our office as the Sensory Deprivation Room- it gets filled with all the hand-me-downs, slightly broken and McGyvered furnishings. Currently my desk is an old door board we found in the attic and we are planning to update this room so it can function as a better office/study and a guest bedroom. This affordable powder-coated steel table on casters fits the bill perfectly to roll out of the way when we have overnight guests.
  • Apple Magic Mouse :: Ok, I confess: I steal Matt’s all the time. I’m sure he’d really appreciate if I had one too. So would Apple’s stockholder’s.
  • Kitchen Conversions Tea Towel by SweetFineDay :: Not too long ago our washing machine ate a sock, which took several days to diagnose and fix. Meanwhile, all my kitchen towels & hand towels grew all kinds of ick, so rather than attempt salvaging them, I threw them away. Perfect excuse for some new ones, like this beautifully designed Tea Towel with handy unit conversions for the baker.



A few titles that have been living in our Amazon WishList this year:

  • Amsterdam: Made by Hand by Pia Jane Bijkerk
  • Paris: Made by Hand by Pia Jane Bijkerk
  • Freakanomics
  • Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
  • The Art of the American Snapshot
  • Buildings Without Architects
  • House Form and Culture
  • Design Like You Give a Damn
  • Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book by Jennifer Katzinger
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