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RedEnvelope + Give-a-way!

*This give-a-way is CLOSED.  See who won here!

Today I want to talk about RedEnvelope. Not the red envelope you get in the mail when you forget to pay your electric bill too many times in a row. No, no, that is a bad red envelope. I want to talk about a good RedEnvelope. A RedEnvelope that represents fun, personalized gifts for friends and family. And why would I talk about this? Because, you guys. They sent me two products to review and offered to give one of my readers (that’s YOU) a one-time use $100 gift code to use on any of their fabulous products. Winning!

(Is anyone saying that anymore? Duh – winning! Are we over that? Moving on…)

our family room

Our family room, last month. Hence the Halloween centerpiece on the coffee table. Notice anything different? Hopefully you notice LOTS of things different, since the last time I posted a family room decor update it looked like this. Yikes. And remember when it looked like this? It’s come a very long way, and is finally FINALLY done. As in, there isn’t anything else I would add, I love it, it is exactly the cozy, weird, hobbled together reading nook I always dreamed it would be. (What does my family room have to do with your chance to win a $100 gift code? JUST WAIT.)

our family room 2

The first product RedEnvelope sent me was a personalized pillow that ties my whole sofa together. I didn’t get to choose the graphic, but I did get to choose the text (though the character and line restrictions were super strict) and I was really happy with how it came out. The pillow cover is made of a rough canvas material. Not necessarily cozy for snuggling up with, but I have a feeling it will last a long time. The screen printed graphic looks great. The font, though small, is pretty crisp considering how nubby the canvas is.

screenprint closeup

I wanted the pillow to read, “Snyder Family. Lots of love, lots of pet hair,” but the restrictions prevented me, as the graphic is designed to include family member names, not sentences. I managed to get away with what you see above and I dig it.

RedEnvelope asked that I rate the product out of five stars, one being “I hate this” and five being “this is the best product EVER.” I give this pillow three out of five stars. As much as I love the pillow, and I really do, it loses a star for its price and another for the quality of the pillow insert. While the pillow cover looks nice, the insert is awful. If you lay your head on it, it completely flattens out. It feels cheap. Like something you’d buy for five dollars at Pick n’ Save. Which is why I was a little horrified to find out that the retail on this pillow is $59.95.

Theo loves our personalized pillow

Theo doesn’t care, as long as he still gets his belly rubbed.

If I received this personalized pillow as a gift, I’d be delighted. It’s adorable, and as I said earlier, it really pulls my sofa together. But if I paid $59.95 for it, I would be really upset when it arrived in the mail and I realized how poor the quality of the insert is. Especially if I intended to give it as a gift.

Now, if I only paid twenty-five bucks for it, I’d be thrilled. At twenty-five bucks it would be a five-star product. But for sixty dollars I expect a softer pillow cover and a much, much fuller, thicker, more pillowy pillow insert. And yet, I love it’s look and I would absolutely buy it if I had a gift code to spend.

air plant

This air plant and glass globe also came from RedEnvelope. It’s a nifty item that would look great in a garden or, as shown above, in a window. We’d like to hang it but it didn’t come with anything to hang it from and we’re not sure what to use. String won’t be sturdy enough. Twine would look tacky. A chain would be too harsh for the delicate glass. Maybe fishing line? This is another item that would make a cool gift, but again, I balked at the $29.95 price tag. An air plant is five bucks at the Garden Center, you can get pebbles for free at the beach or nearest stream bed, and the glass globe comes from CB2 (they didn’t take the CB2 sticker off the bottom before they sent it to me) where you can order it for $3.95. Now, if it also came with something pretty to hang the globe by, and something else to put in the globe for some added pizzazz (a miniature skull or a frolicking ceramic animal, anyone?) I might not have suffered the same sticker shock. But it doesn’t, so this also gets three out of five stars for being overpriced.

Overall, I’m enjoying these items and I’m especially jazzed to offer one lucky reader a $100 gift code. The holidays are coming and this is a great chance to pick up Christmas gifts for your wife, Chanukah gifts for your husband, a present for your sister, your father, the cute kid you babysit, whomever. They have something for everyone – personalized ornaments, gorgeous jewelry, fun novelty gifts. I adore this personalized pie plate, and they even sell a personalizable beer holster. You can’t tell me there isn’t a man in your life who wouldn’t love his own beer holster.

To win, check out the website at, then come back here and leave a comment telling me who you’d like to surprise this holiday season with a personalized gift. For additional entries, tweet a link to this post, link to this post on Facebook, “Like” RedEnvelope on Facebook, whatever you want. Just be sure you come back here to leave a comment and tell me what you did. Each comment serves as one entry and you can enter as many times as you want. Contest ends Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. PST. The winner will be chosen at random and announced Wednesday, November 23. The day before Thanksgiving! So you’ll have something to be thankful for. (Just kidding. You already have lots to be thankful for, I know that.)

Ok, kids. Comment away!

P.S. I was not compensated for this post, though I did receive the two items pictured above at no cost. My thoughts and opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

Getting There Slowly

family room

The family room, May 2011.*

I’ve always been the kind of person who jumps into things without giving them much thought, whereas Michael is the kind of person who goes at things sideways, exploring every angle before making a decision. This is one of the reasons why we are great for each other (because we balance each other out) and why we drive each other nuts (because it’s annoying when someone is actively balancing you out.)

All of this to say that I think some of Mike has been rubbing off on me (not that way, ew) because I’ve been very patient with regard to my family room and that is incredibly unlike me. Normally I buy a bunch of crap I don’t really like because I need something, anything right now. But this time I’ve been pulling a Michael and doing it a little bit at a time, adding something here and there, as we can afford it, as we aquire it, when we find something we love, et cetera. And I’m so glad it’s worked out that way.

I’m really happy with the way this room looks now. It’s much more the cozy-library-esque-family-room I was hoping for.(Here’s what it looked like six weeks ago.) I still want an area rug and some throw pillows, but I’m glad I waited until I had the table behind the futon and all the shelves up because I’ve completely changed my mind about the color scheme.

Speaking of the table, Mike built it and it’s not really a table, but a triangular shelf that fits perfectly in the corner behind the futon. He put a smaller triangular shelf above that, and now we have a much better spot for Foxy than we had before. I am absolutely thrilled. I was a little worried that one of the cats was going to try and get into it with the emaciated half-eaten gazillion-year-old taxidermy fox that is my grotesque little friend, but so far they have left him alone.


More than anything, I love all the family photos everywhere. Formal portraits and snap shots, new photos and old black-and-whites, each one makes my heart sing.

family weddings

My goal, of course, is to wallpaper these walls with family photos in various gold-and-similarly-hued frames. That would be wonderful.  But in the mean time we’re off to a pretty good start.

family photos

Also, major good news! We got permission from our landlord to install a bike rack! So excited! (!!!) This means two things:

1.) I will no longer have to carry my bicycle down three flights of stairs then up three flights of stairs every single time I ride it.

2.) There will no longer be a bicycle leaning in front of our fire place.

I am so excited, I can barely sit still. We ordered it online and it arrived late last week, so Mike will be installing it sooooon! Maybe we’ll do a post about it. That’s a great idea! A post about how my husband bolted a piece of metal to some concrete in our parking area. Riveting.

Actually, if you want a really good DIY blog, you should check out Dopey’s Happy Home. You probably remember my best fried and frequent accomplice Dopey LaRue? Well, the lovely Miss LaRue has started a new blog, a sort of eco-friendly, mother-earth, rock-and-roll blog about DIY-ing everything from gourmet dinners to bedroom furniture. Girl works a full time job, goes to school full time, and makes all her own skincare products. She has tiger blood. Go look at her site now.

*This is the kind of thing I need an SLR for. What I wouldn’t give for a camera that takes great photos in super low light.

Will Work for Books

I sort of kind of feel like all I ever talk about anymore on this here blog is our apartment, but to be fair, it is the most exciting thing we’ve got going on in our lives right now. I hope all these posts with photos and updates of our little valley pad aren’t beginning to bore you, because really all I want to do is make you happy, but I’m sort of like a freshman in love with a senior and all I can do is gush and gush and gush and gush and write run-on sentences. One day soon I’ll be totally over it, I’ll have moved on to college boys – er – something more interesting than an apartment – and you won’t have to hear about it anymore. But until then….

Family Room Update!


We went to Ikea this weekend and, honestly? That place is the devil. We had a budget we swore we would stick to, and while nothing over $15 went into our cart, we still ended up going over our budget by a hundred bones. Yikes. Shopping isn’t super fun for me because I tend to feel hideously guilty over my purchases, even when my purchases are shelves I’ve been dying to get and fifty cent glasses so we don’t have to drink water out of coffee mugs anymore.

Speaking of shelves, I’m not really sure how I feel about them. They remind me a little too much of the shelves I had in my first college apartment, so I can’t help but feel like they lend an unwanted dorm-room flavor to the living room I had hoped would have a more library-like feel. Here’s the room from a different angle:


Also, I’m not sold on the shelf arrangements. I really wanted the shelves to contain only books, but I am clean out of books. The ones that are up there now I stole off of the bookcase by Mike’s easel, which worked out because now he has space for all his paint supplies and he doesn’t have to keep them on the floor anymore. Score = Everyone wins!


Here’s his little painting corner next to the fireplace. Where I lean my bicycle. I mean, why not? We still haven’t purchased logs for the damn thing, so why not use it for something? (Clearly, we still haven’t figured out where to keep my bicycle either. Sad face.)

I’m not entirely sold on those shelf arrangements either, but they’ll have to do for now. Also, man, I wish we could paint the walls. We actually got permission to paint, but decided not to because it’s a lot of work to put into a rental and we’d rather save the time/money/energy for a place we purchase. I have to keep telling myself that. This is a rental. When we own we’ll have so much more freedom to make it look exactly how we want it to. In the mean time, at least the family room no longer looks like this. Or this. Or this. Improvements! Small ones, but still.

There is still a lot I want to do in here. On my wish list? A table that will fit behind the futon for plants. And more books so that the shelves will be covered with books instead of chachkis and tabletop frames. An enormous area rug to hide the horrible stains left by the previous tenants, which I’ve shampooed a million times but still persist. New legs for the coffee table. A cover for the futon, something I can pull off and wash weekly because with four animals, I have to. And bright throw pillows to bring more color into the room. Here are some fabrics I’m thinking of making additional pillows out of:


What do you think? If you’ve got any suggestions for what we could do to (cheaply) make this room fabulous, I would LOVE to hear them.

Continuing Efforts Continued

The family room is my room to decorate. This is what I’ve got so far:

books and bones

What you’re looking at is the most finished sliver of our family room. So much shelf space! And no idea what to do with it. But still, it’s a HUGE improvement from this disaster.

living room

Aaaaand this is what the rest of the family room looks like. Better than this, but still kind of depressing. We haven’t figured out where we’re going to keep my bicycle, so for now it leans against our mattress-less futon frame that is in two pieces because we misplaced the screws that hold the whole thing together. Moving is awesome. Our friend Kevin came over the other night and the first words out of his mouth were, “Your couch looks really uncomfortable.” I had to laugh at that, and laugh hard. It felt good.

I’m actually really excited about this room. I want it to be the sort of room where you want to curl up and read a book. I placed the futon kitty-corner so that when we sit on it (after we buy a mattress for it) we will be facing the fireplace. I plan to put a table behind it and load it with lush green plants. Then I’m going to put shelves up, I’m thinking two three-foot shelves on each wall behind the futon, piled with books and mummified creatures. I decided on a beige futon with lots of beautiful, richly colored throw pillows. Beige because it won’t show Valentine’s hair and so the pillows will really stand out. I want a great vase for the middle of the coffe table – something that looks like it’s right out of the forties, or really is right out of the forties. And I want to always keep fresh flowers in it.

Where that kleenex box is on the little bookcase is where I plan to put another lamp. Or maybe a plant. A big, drapey pathos. Or maybe a lamp. Not sure yet. The floor lamp pictured belongs to my parents and is on loan until we get our own.

I think this room is going to need a rug eventually, something with a lot of deep red and gold, maybe. Who knows. It’s all just talk for now, anyhow. This room is going to look like this for awhile because apparently money doesn’t grow on trees or something? I’m still not sure I believe that, but we’ll see.