1. Birch Aquarium
I had the pleasure of visiting this San Diego aquarium twice over the past year, and each trip was fascinating. I love how the aquarium focuses almost exclusively on sealife native to the California coast. Plus, the view of the ocean from their tidepool deck is unbelievable.
(Image is my own.)
2. Arrested Development Season 4
The latest season of this show is weightier than the original three, but it's got the entire original cast with many beloved former guest stars ("It's a Bob Loblaw law bomb!"), and after a few viewings, it's feeling like it's part of the canon. It's only available on Netflix right now, but I'm hoping there will be a DVD set soon.
3. BlackMilk Leggings
Crazy designs, crazy fun, crazy comfortable. It took me a while to figure out how to wear these weirdos (I like tall-sized tamis from Old Navy and tunics from Athleta), but once I did, I get compliments all the time. The only downside: Hand-wash only. Here's a cool video of an artist designing for the company.
4. Donner Purse
I've been wanting a good travel purse since the one I use day-to-day is open-top. I found this OverLand Equipment one on Pinterest (of course) and got it on sale (Shh!) on Amazon. It feels super secure for flying and walking around in the city. I've even started to use it for hiking in lieu of a backpack.
These ballet flats are a splurge, which is why I have only one pair and they're basic black. But oh, how I love them! I wear them with everything from dresses to yoga pants. And if you look at the shoe on the right in the picture, you'll see that they fold up (!) which makes them perfect for travel or for going out when you have to do some walking to get there but want to wear heels at your destination.
6. Socially Progressive Toys!
I first heard about GoldieBlox when I saw this video on YouTube. I am beyond tired of the gender segregation of books and toys. There's more variety of interests within genders than there is between them. I haven't personally used GoldieBlox since I'm an adult and they're sold out anyway, but the concept of the company is to make toys that enable girls to think like engineers and play in ways traditional toys don't encourage. Another cool company that makes future-engineer toys is littleBits. Their kits look like fun for adults, too, but they're pricy. (Sidenote: There is some controversy regarding copyright in regards to the song in the video I linked to above. I'm making no comment about that, only about how cool the concept of the company is.)
7. Favorite New Board Game
Derek and I had heard of Ticket to Ride from Wil Wheaton's Tabletop show, and we easily found a copy at our local game store. The employee there recommended the European board as the best, and now that I've played several versions, I agree. There are also iPhone apps for the US and European versions. I play those so I get better at beating Derek at the real-life version. *cackle, cackle*
8. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series
I have loved every book in this series by Laini Taylor: the titular first novel, the sequel (Days of Blood and Starlight, which I blogged about here) and most recently and to my absolute delight, the companion novella Night of Cake and Puppets, which is a charming piece of fiction all on its own. I can't wait until April 2014 when the final book in the trilogy comes out. (No, really. I can't wait that long. I'm going to have to figure something out.)
9. Pasadena Parrots
I bet you didn't know there were parrots in Pasadena, huh? I sure didn't, and when we moved into our new house and heard flocks of them squawking as they flew overhead, I didn't know what was happening. These guys are so loud and obnoxious it's hilarious, and they're so out of place that it feels magical whenever I see them, like there was a tear in the fabric of space and some parrots flew through. (You can read about the parrots' theoretical origins here. It's believed they escaped from an aviary, but I like my tear-in-the-fabric-of-time theory better.)
(Image is from Wikipedia)
10. Petunia Picklebottom Grocery Bags
I can honestly say these grocery bags have made my life easier. In LA, plastic bags are being banned everywhere, and if you don't bring your own bags to the store, you have to pay for paper bags. I've gone through a few types of reusable bags and these Petunia ones are my favorite. They're cute and sturdy and they fold up like envelopes until they're as small as my wallet! (Hint: There are usually a few of these in the sale section of Petunia's website.)
There you have it! I'll close with some pictures of Derek and I taken by our dear friend Cynthia for our Christmas card, and I will say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanza, and New Year! Whatever you celebrate, may your holidays be merry and bright.