Page 1

DO GOOD AND FEEL GOOD THIS SEASON!

MODERN WOMAN FALL/WINTER 2016

198 Holiday &gift ideas

+ PARTY IN STYLE

JOY OF GIVING BACK BAKERS’ SECRETS

THE ULTIMA GIFT GU TE IDE

PAGE 31

Joanna

Gaines

Designing her own destiny


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FEATURES

24

31

Adventures that leave lasting impressions

Something for everyone on your list

UNWRAP EXPERIENCES

48 FAMILY MATTERS

Fixer Upper’s Joanna Gaines on what keeps her grounded

NAUGHTY OR NICE

54 FESTIVE VILLAGES

Hit the road and head to these fun holiday towns

60 YOU GOT THIS!

THINKSTOCK

Experts share their foolproof baking tips and tricks

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MODERN WOMAN FALL/WINTER 2016

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72 DECK THE HALLS Embrace your interests when decorating for the holidays

Meet Our Modern Women

67 77 83 91

LEADERSHIP Teresa White on how to make time for family PASSION Janet Tatarka shares her best holiday baking tips MENTORSHIP Dominique Jordan Turner on inspiring students CREATIVITY Lisa Congdon encourages exploring creativity

DEPARTMENTS

UP FRONT

ON THE COVER: Joanna Gaines Photo by Michael Mulvey

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MODERN WOMAN

8

08 14 20 22

ENTERTAINING Impress guests with fine tableware settings FASHION Look party perfect with fashion finds ADVICE Secrets to being more merry and less harried GIVING BACK Ways to embrace the holiday spirit this season

BELIEVE Respectfully enjoying everyone’s diverse beliefs GOODWILL Make meaningful memories with your family by volunteering

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TRAVEL Mall of America beckons with shopping, dining and indoor theme park

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CONNECT Skip the standard greeting card and send something more personal

96

BEST GIFT A writer gets more time with her dying mother

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HEALTH Indulge without the guilt with these sweet treats


CONTRIBUTORS PREMIUM PUBLICATION DIRECTOR Jeanette Barrett-Stokes jbstokes@usatoday.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jerald Council jcouncil@usatoday.com MANAGING EDITOR Michelle Washington mjwashington@usatoday.com

LISA MARIE HART As a writer and editor in Palm Springs, Calif., Hart doesn’t miss the white Christmases from her years growing up in Ohio. “Home is wherever you decorate, gather and celebrate, whether a hotel at the beach or your mom’s cozy living room.” For this issue, she covered three festive themes (page 72) and says one of her favorite décor elements is a white tree with bright ornaments.

ALEXIS KORMAN Korman works as a wine and travel writer, and co-founded an artisanal kombucha company, Big Easy Bucha, which gives back to charities in New Orleans. Last year, she hit the road with her husband and uncovered some Christmas-loving towns that looked like snow globes come to life (page 54). “If you want to fill up on that festive vibe, sometimes you have to leave your ZIP code in the dust.”

EDITORS Elizabeth Neus Hannah Prince Sara Schwartz Tracy L. Scott DESIGNERS Miranda Pellicano Gina Toole Saunders Ashleigh Webb Lisa M. Zilka CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Margaux Anbouba, Karen Asp, Hollie Deese, Oona Goodin-Smith, Lisa Marie Hart, Kate Parham Kordsmeier, Alexis Korman, Janene Mascarella, Lisa Meyers McClintick, Priscila Mosqueda, Peggy J. Noonan, Shelley Seale, Sarah Sekula, Suzanne Wright CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Walter Hinick, Michael Mulvey

ADVERTISING

VP, ADVERTISING Patrick Burke | (703) 854-5914 pburke@usatoday.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Justine Goodwin | (703) 854-5444 jgoodwin@usatoday.com

FINANCE

BILLING COORDINATOR Julie Marco

COURTESY OF THE CONTRIBUTORS

This is a product of

KAREN ASP For this issue, Asp wrote about volunteering (page 84). The Indiana-based journalist has been volunteering since she was young. Her memorable moments include helping build houses through the Appalachian Service Project and training a golden retriever to be a therapy dog. “Although it’s something you can do year-round, volunteering your time and talent is one of the best holiday gifts you can give.”

PRISCILA MOSQUEDA Based in Austin, Mosqueda recently swapped writing for law and is attending The University of Texas School of Law. For this issue, she hung out with Joanna Gaines in Waco, Texas (page 48). “It was awesome to meet such a strong, inspiring woman who has never stopped pushing for her dreams.” She continues to watch Fixer Upper with her brothers, who might love Joanna even more than she does.

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved herein, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or reproduced in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the written consent of USA TODAY. The editors and publisher are not responsible for any unsolicited materials.

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UP FRONT | ENTERTAINING

Warm and lovely, the five-piece Harper rose gold place setting adds a luxurious touch to a table. $59.95, crateandbarrel.com

Table Symphony Serve in style no matter the occasion BY HOLLIE DEESE

W

Waterford Lismore Pops Double Old Fashioned crystal set, in blue or clear, $124.99

for two, bedbathand beyond.com

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

A collaboration from Christian Lacroix and Vista Alegre, the porcelain Caribe collection exudes a sense of tropical exuberance. $61 to

$488, vistaalegre.com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

hether spontaneous or carefully planned, get-togethers with family and friends abound this time of year. By stocking up on beautiful flatware, glassware and place settings, you’ll be prepared to host any dinner party with a table set at a moment’s notice, leaving more time for whipping up tasty bites and serving festive cocktails.


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UP FRONT | ENTERTAINING The Gourmet Settings Twist hostess flatware set, $39.99 for set of five

at target.com

Look closely at the Provence Black dinnerware collection and take in the hand-painted magical forest of castles and animals, inspired by a 17th-century folk design from Portugal. $24.95 to

Spread out the eight pieces of this nesting lotus bowl set and turn your table into a work of art. $340, uncommongoods.com

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

Shanghai Soul 9-ounce lead-free crystal highball glass from Lucaris,

$44.99 for four, wayfair.com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

$199.95, williams-sonoma.com


UP FRONT | ENTERTAINING

Vista Alegre’s five-piece Marble Chevron porcelain dinnerware set creates an incredible layered look. $130, alchemyfinehome.com

Mod minimalism marries midcentury design in designer David Rasmussen’s carved walnut tumblers.

Candlelight will reflect off the diamond shapes etched into the Argent Orfèvres Epigram Gold fivepiece place setting.

A small gold bowl brings a sense of elegance to a winter table setting. $9.99, H&M

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

The modern matte black Knight 20-piece flatware set adds a bit of heft in the hand. $89.95, cb2.com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

$72 for two, uncommon goods.com

$85, hamptonforge.com


All trademarks are owned by PepsiCo Inc., its affiliates or subsidiaries. Š 2016 Frito-Lay North America, Inc.


UP FRONT | FASHION

Season’s Glitter Dresses that wow, shoes that sparkle and accessories that inspire envy BY JANENE MASCARELLA

▲ Labradorite and champagne diamond star stud earrings, $695, bethmiller collection.com

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▶ Silver and rose gold Daphne sequin dress with black lining, $480, jaimeelyse. com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

▲ Judith Leiber Love crystal clutch, $1,599, gilt.com


UP FRONT | FASHION

▲ Kate Spade New York Charm glitter heels, $325, Lord & Taylor

◀ Sea Urchin Star earrings, $2,785, elisabeth belljewelry. com

▲ Gold Shu Shu clutch bag by The Volon, $586, runway2street.com

▶ Black satin Luisa sandal, $1,095, sarahflint. com

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

▶ Indigo mirrored pyramid brake hinge bracelet by Alexis Bittar via Rent the Runway, rental $30, retail $175, rentthe runway.com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

▲ Malin lace fit-and-flare dress by Alexis, $199, gilt.com


▶ Reflection necklace by Lulu Frost via Rent the Runway, rental $65, retail $475, rentthe runway.com

◀ Nha Khanh Flight of Fancy textured gown, $1,295, saks.com

▲ Milly Party Box clutch, $295, Bloomingdale’s

▼ INC International Concepts Carolyn glitter clutch, $49.50, macys.com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

▼ Thalia Sodi Regalo sandals, $99.50, macys.com

▲ Gold dogwood bloom ring by Slate and Willow via Rent the Runway, rental $10, retail $25, renttherunway. com

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Š Copyright 2016 HP Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein. Intel, the Intel logo, Intel Inside, the Intel Inside logo, Core, Celeron, and Celeron Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the United States and other countries. Microsoft, Windows, and the Windows Logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


UP FRONT | ADVICE

Holiday Hacks Secrets to being more merry and less harried BY SUZANNE WRIGHT

S

ometimes the holidays have you muttering “No, no, no,” instead of “Ho, ho, ho.” No matter how you celebrate, it’s easy to feel a bit Grinch-like during this joyful, crazy kaleidoscope time of year when we’re supposed to be full of cheer. And while they can’t save you from awkward office parties, lackluster gift exchanges and carolers who mean well but fail to hit the right notes, our experts have some advice to help you reconnect with your seasonal bliss.

James Beard-nominated restaurateur Elizabeth Blau is well-versed in entertaining and shares her secrets for a successful gathering: 1 Skip the scrambling. Choose a menu and shop at least three days before the

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event. Prep ahead and label dishes and desserts so you can just point when guests offer to help you set up. 2 Make dessert an experience. Sweets are a universal favorite, so a buffet — the bigger, the better — will both excite and delight guests with an array of tempting options. Tap a local bakery and also ask

guests to bring something to share. 3 Take a sip, or two. A glass of wine before guests arrive can take the edge off. “I like to be relaxed and having a glass of wine by the time my guests arrive,” Blau says. “After all, the whole point of entertaining is to enjoy the company of your friends and family.”

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BE SMART ABOUT HOLIDAY GIFTS

BRIGHTSTAR CARE; MAYO CLINIC HEALTHY LIVING PROGRAM; BANK OF AMERICA; THINKSTOCK

Juggling children and seniors during the holidays can be a challenge. “When it comes to holiday shopping for children, the right gift is typically a no-brainer — the laundry list of ideas doesn’t leave any doubt about what to buy,” says Sharon Roth Maguire, chief clinical quality officer for BrightStar Care, a national company that provides in-home care for seniors. “Gifts for our aging loved ones, on the other hand, leave most people at a loss.” She recommends these thoughtful gifts for older friends and family: Relive memories. Personalize a coffee table book or load a digital picture frame with snaps of the grandkids or vacations. 1

2 Know their interests. For those who may not appreciate the latest tech gadget, opt instead for word games, jigsaw or crossword puzzles. 3 Skip scents. Perfumed bath salts or soaps may irritate skin. Choose a cozy fleece blanket instead.

REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON Dr. Amit Sood, professor of medicine and stress expert at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, suggests these tactics to stay mentally grounded: 1 Do not overcommit yourself. Remember that holidays are a time for recreation, relaxation and restoration. 2 Prioritize relationships. Spend quality days with your loved ones and friends during this time. 3 Be extra kind to others and, most importantly, to yourself.

Live the spirit. “Most holidays are around a deeper value,” says Sood, who notes that Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, while many associate Christmas with celebration. On New Year’s, we reflect on our goals and relationships and determine how we can be better people going forward. “Use holidays as reminders to bring these values to your life,” he says. 4

KEEP SPENDING IN CHECK It happens every year: the buzzkill of opening January credit card statements after a seasonal spending blitz. To keep from going financially overboard, Anna Colton, a Merrill Edge executive, offers these tips: 1 Set spending goals. Know how much you can afford to spend, then stick to your budget, no exceptions. 2 Wield plastic wisely. Balance credit card purchases with cash ones and keep your future bright by paying off holiday debt swiftly. 3 Think outside the (gift) box. “Consider giving something that can’t be wrapped, but rather makes a difference in someone’s future, such as money towards a child’s education or a charitable donation in the recipient’s name,” Colton suggests.

v


UP FRONT | GIVING BACK

FEELING INSPIRED? Here are a few nonprofits to consider funding this season: u Charity Checks Recipients receive a certificate in a designated amount with the charity left blank, so the donor can make the choice. charitychecks.us

u Children of the Nations Donations to this nonprofit help orphaned and destitute children in Sierra Leone, Malawi, Uganda, Dominican Republic, Haiti and the U.S. live fuller lives and become leaders. Gift ideas: Donate village sponsorship, school supplies or blankets in someone’s name cotni.org

Great ways to practice the holiday spirit this season BY SARAH SEKULA

O

ne year, Orlando resident MaryElla Hunt Collins gave geese, pigs, sheep, ducks, chickens and rabbits to her relatives — symbolically. Through the organization Heifer International, Hunt was able to donate funds that would provide agricultural training and livestock to struggling communities around the world. “For each recipient, I sent little toy plastic versions of the animal I was gifting in their names,” she says, adding that there’s something extra special about giving gifts that help those in need. Todd Bryant, a partner and financial adviser at Signature Wealth Advisors LLC, agrees. “I prefer donating to local charities that I am familiar with in my community, like Outreach Love, for example, which provides tutors for at-risk children in the Orlando area.” Bryant also recommends using resources such as GuideStar and Charity Navigator, online search engines that help

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match donors with charities. The charities are registered in the U.S., but many of them do have an international focus. “If you have a charity in mind and want to do a quick check to make sure the money will be actually benefiting programs, Charity Navigator has a star-rating system,” says Danielle Di Vito Krise, a certified financial planner with Raymond James & Associates Inc. “You can also find the CEO salary for the selected charity in dollars, as well as a percentage of the revenue. If the CEO has a $300,000 salary but it is only .03 percent of revenue that is more in line than a $75,000 salary that is 6 percent of revenue.”   Every donation helps. And of course, the tax deductions are nice, too. Plus, many charities allow you to make a donation in someone’s name. “They typically give you the option to have the charity send a letter of acknowledgment to them directly,” says Di Vito Krise. “It shows your loved one that you put some thought into the gift.”

Gift ideas: Donate a hive of bees or tree seedlings in a friend’s name heifer.org u REBUILD Globally This nonprofit fights poverty in Haiti through education and job training. Donate directly or make a purchase. Gift ideas: Sandals made of upcycled tires, leather clutch, colorful earrings rebuildglobally.org

u Rethreaded Rethreaded helps break the cycle of the sex trade by offering viable and creative work to those affected. Donate directly or make a purchase. Gift ideas: Rwandan Survivor Coffee, leather journal, scarf rethreaded.com

u WILDAID This organization’s goal is to end the endangered wildlife trade. Donate directly or make a purchase. Gift ideas: Ivory Free tees, baby elephant pendant wildaid.org

HEIFER INTERNATIONAL; THINKSTOCK

Generous Gifts

u Heifer International Heifer provides resources and training that will help lift families out of hunger and poverty.


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UNFORGETTABLE

Tailored experiences can be more satisfying than anything wrapped BY SUZANNE WRIGHT

OARING HIGH ABOVE THE CLOUDS IN A HOT-AIR BALLOON, PEOPLE LIKE ANTS BELOW YOU. SCALING AN INDOOR ROCK WALL IN PREPARATION FOR THE BIG CLIMB, HEART POUNDING WITH EXCITEMENT. ROCKING OUT AT A CONCERT YOU THOUGHT WAS SOLD OUT. IT’S NO WONDER THAT PEOPLE ARE TAKING THEIR GIFT-GIVING TO THE NEXT LEVEL BY GIVING AN EXPERIENCE. THE ADVENTURE ENJOYED AND THE MEMORIES CREATED WILL UNDOUBTEDLY LEAVE A LASTING IMPRESSION.

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JUSTIN KASE CONDER/RUSTIC PATHWAYS

Women relax at the base of the Ausangate Mountain in Peru as part of a Rustic Pathway program that sends students around the world.

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UNFORGETTABLE GIFTS

Add rock climbing to a trip to Greece, or an underwater adventure. PADI has 6,000-plus dive centers and resorts located around the world, including Utila, below, a Honduras Bay Island.

Chicagoan Christian McKenzie knows this firsthand. For the 30th birthday of her friend Paakwesi Ayekumi, McKenzie tailored a gift experience that tapped into his educational pursuits: mechanical engineering and solar energy. “He’s into urban farming and sustainable business practices, so I got him two tickets to a farm-totable pop-up dinner,” she says. “In addition, I included a cookbook of comfort food with eco-conscious options. Plus, he collects sneakers,

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and Nike came out with a limitededition breakfast food-themed sneaker earlier this year, so I included a pair of those as well.” Ayekumi was blown away. “Christian gave me an experience I could never forget,” he says. “It left me speechless and in awe wondering how did I get so lucky to have a woman that understands me on so many levels.” Stephen Walker, of Buford, Ga., was similarly wowed last year when his wife, Jana, gave him

woodworking lessons. Jana had watched her husband spend months gathering woodworking tools and machines, inspired by a visit to a craftsman of wooden kayaking paddles. Stephen, a graphic designer, had created a website for him. “Stephen had built this wonderful workshop full of tools, but it felt like he was having a hard time figuring out what to do with them or how to use them, even though he really wanted to,” she

THINKSTOCK; BUDD RIKER/PADI

— Doug Rollins, vice president of sales and marketing at Château Élan


THINKSTOCK

says. “I happened upon a master woodworker who offered instruction and I just knew that would be perfect.” Stephen agrees: “That was pretty darn awesome.” Chicago-based event planner Kerry Bannigan knows professionally as well as personally the lasting power of an experiential gift. For adults, she suggests helicopter rides, spa retreats or cooking classes. For kids, she recommends racetrack days, paintball games or a dress-up photo shoot. “Experiences are priceless happenings that people can look forward to, enjoy and then look back on memories to share,” she says. In between tastings and other events, Château Élan, a winery and resort located in Braselton, Ga., also offers guests the chance to custom-blend a fragrance and enjoy an overnight stay, often centered around Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving. The option is popular with both leisure and business guests. “The memory of the experience lingers,” says Doug Rollins, vice president of sales and marketing. Jill Joanne, a perfumer and mixologist, flew from California with her assistant to make their custom scent just for fun. “We had a wonderful time and made some perfumes that were heavenly,” says Joanne. “It’s the perfect place to make holiday gifts that will be unforgettable.” For those who crave adventure, travel is always a welcome gift, whether it’s a local getaway or a global escape. Rustic Pathways offers authentic experiences for students to travel to more than 21 countries from Cuba to Fiji, touting opportunities for them to learn more about indigenous people while performing community service. And with more than 6,300 dive centers and resorts located around the world, PADI, the world’s largest recreational diver training organization,

TIPS GIFTING THE IDEAL EXPERIENCE Tickets for hot air balloon rides will always impress, especially in the region of Cappadocia, Turkey, known around the world as one of the best places for the high-flying experience.

Creating a treasured memory for someone you love is easier if you keep these ideas in mind: Be a sleuth. Think back on conversations about long-held desires or fantasies. If you are unsure, quiz partners, parents, friends or colleagues for clues. Or ask directly what they’d do if the sky were the limit (but tailor it to what you can afford to spend). Start early. Sourcing a thoughtful gift experience requires some lead time. You’ll need a chance to scout wisely before you commit. Set a budget. Not all gift experiences need to be extravagant. Think theater tickets, restaurant gift cards or passes to a yoga class.

allows people to give the gift of underwater exploration. Haversham & Baker Golfing Expeditions can score you a tee time at coveted courses. For a contained adventure, try day passes or yearly memberships to botanical gardens, museums, aquariums and zoos. Jim and Marion Hook of Tucson always give their Australian relatives a membership to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney.

Giving a yearly membership to a zoo, botanical garden or museum will benefit the venue, too.

Surprise and delight. Giving your loved ones something they wouldn’t normally do for themselves is a surefire way to success. Play your part — or not. Is the experience something you can share? If so, great; you’ll enhance the experience. But it’s also OK to sit it out.


UNFORGETTABLE GIFTS

“We know they love going to the zoo, so we avoid purchasing unwanted gifts or gifts that are the wrong sizes,” Marion says. “We don’t have to deal with very expensive international mailing, either. Everyone is happy and the gift is not just a one-time deal; they use it all year round.” If you’re not sure where to start, lean on technology. “Giving a physical gift is a great thought, but the right experiential gift can create memories that last forever,” notes Jason Reid, co-founder and CEO of the on-demand gifting app, Giftagram (giftagram.com). The app features niche and fun products and services; purchase and send the recipient a message to build anticipation. It features an experience category that includes such offerings as cliff camping in the Rocky Mountains or a private tour of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. “From an apprenticeship with a

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top chef to a private styling with an acclaimed fashion designer, life experiences live on with us and will remind us of the sender for years to come,” Reid says. Gifting platforms such as the Whilo app, short for “what I love,” allow the potential recipient to build a registrylike list of experiences they’d enjoy,

— Stephen Walker, gift recipient such as jet skiing at Lake Tahoe or cooking classes. “We aren’t mind readers, and everyone is constantly juggling five things at once, making it nearly impossible to keep copious notes on what loved ones want,” says Lindsey Miles, co-founder and managing partner of Whilo (whilo. com). “The memories last a lot longer

than a trendy purse.” IfOnly (ifonly.com) provides a bevy of curated experiences in categories that include sports, film and TV, home décor and photography. Every experience sold gives back a percentage to a designated charitable cause, according to Lindsay Stevens, a public relations consultant who represents IfOnly. Recent experiences have included chocolate-making classes, heli-skiing and tours of a farmers market with a renowned chef. Trevor Traina, founder and CEO of IfOnly, says the recent increase in popularity isn’t surprising. In a recent IfOnly survey, 72 percent of college-educated Americans say they’d rather receive an experience over a physical item. “It’s what drives the stories that shape our identity and make up the sum of who we are,” Traina explains. “That’s why experiences make the perfect gifts.”

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2016 MODERN WOMAN GIFT GUIDE

What They

Really, Really Want Our curated selection of gifts has something for everyone on your list

THINKSTOCK

BY HANNAH PRINCE AND SARA SCHWARTZ


2016 MODERN WOMAN GIFT GUIDE

Cool Kiddo

Melissa and Doug’s Roll, Wrap & Slice Sushi Counter, $49.99, melissaanddoug.com

Using Bluetooth, infrared vision and more, WowWee’s CHiP robot dog reacts to its surroundings. $199.99, Best Buy

Magna-Tiles connect via embedded magnets for endless creation. 32-piece set in ICE, $49.99, magnatiles.com

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

Give your kiddo some street cred with this eight-piece set of The Very Hungry Caterpillar temporary tattoos. $15, tattly.com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

Elevate art time with this set of Swiss colored pencils stored in a tin. $25, cwpencils.com

American Girl’s Melody Ellison lives during the civil rights era. $115 for doll and book; $24 for accessories; americangirl. com


2016 MODERN WOMAN GIFT GUIDE

Animal Ally Customize a design for your pet’s new bed at Lion + Wolf. Prices start at $130, lionandwolf.co

Bad Dog diner mugs, $35 for four, uncommongoods.com

Harmony Meow and Gold Dots ceramic feeding bowls, $7.49 to $14.99, Petco

Purchase the WWF adoption tub and the World Wildlife Fund will send an adoption certificate and more. $75, gifts.worldwildlife.org

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

Frenchie Cat pillow cover by illustrator Claudia Pearson, $42 for cover; claudiapearson.com

Get the design breakdown on your choice of dog, cat or horse breed. $185, uncommon goods.com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

Pop Your Pup turns a photo of your dog into a canvas masterpiece. $119.99 to $199.99, popyourpup.com


2016 MODERN WOMAN GIFT GUIDE

Dapper Dude

PHOTO COURTESY CREDIT OF THE COMPANIES

Sports fans will love blueprint renderings of their favorite stadiums, arenas and golf courses. Prices start at $60, ballpark blueprints.com

Milky Way galaxy microfiber necktie, $36, cyberoptix.com

Grovemade’s speaker system is made of solid walnut or maple and includes two RCA inputs. $499 to $599, grovemade.com

The Fizzics draft beer system takes brews from a bottle, can or growler and gives them that fresh-from-thetap taste. $150, fizzics.com

The Wilson X connected football has an app-linked sensor that measures distance, spiral efficiency and other stats. $199.99, wilson.com

Everlane’s slim-fit signature Oxford in gray denim, $58, everlane.com

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2016 MODERN WOMAN GIFT GUIDE

Eager Reader Olde Book pillow classics, $24.99 each, thinkgeek.com

Lumio book lamp works on tabletop or as a pendant light. $198, store.moma.org

Each of these soy literary candles is named for a location in a classic novel. $16, uncommongoods.com

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, an Oprah’s Book Club pick, follows a young female slave’s escape attempts before the Civil War. $26.95, Barnes & Noble

Library date-due card linen-weave pashmina, $44, cyberoptix.com

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

Olde Book messenger bag, $49.99, thinkgeek. com


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Mover & Shaker Anyone can wear Smoke’s Ritual, a rich, spicy blend of essential oils with notes of cinnamon, neroli, rose and patchouli. $60, smoke-perfume. myshopify.com

Verloop colorblock touch-screen gloves are available in 11 color combinations. $29, verloopknits.com

Pencil snobs will dive into The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance by Henry Petroski; pair it with a Swiss-made Caran d’Ache dark beech wood pencil. $23 and $4.50, cwpencils.com

The Modern Commuter backpack in black, navy or gray, $68, everlane.com

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

Available in a choice of stones, Ringly connects with your phone via Bluetooth and sends you vibration notifications. $195, ringly.com

The bespectacled will appreciate a Warby Parker gift card. $50, $95 or $295, warbyparker. com/gift-card

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

S’well bottles keep contents cold or hot for hours and won’t sweat. $35 to $50, swellbottle.com


2016 MODERN WOMAN GIFT GUIDE

Fearless Foodie Wüsthof classic five-piece knife block set (block not shown), $199.95, williamssonoma.com

Make chocolate spaghetti and other “molecular gastronomy” delights with the Cuisine R-Evolution kit. $49.95, moleculargastronomy.com

The Bees Knees Spicy Trio is the ultimate gift for any hot sauce lover. $34.99, bushwickkitchen.com

PHOTO COURTESY CREDIT OF THE COMPANIES

Handcrafted using grass-fed beef, Biltong is South Africa’s version of beef jerky. $35 for 16 ounces, brooklynbiltong.com

The Mobile Foodie Survival Kit includes 1.5 tablespoons each of 16 spices. $26, uncommongoods.com

Sean Brock, the chef behind restaurants Husk and McGrady’s, shares his inspired recipes in Heritage. $40, workman.com

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2016 MODERN WOMAN GIFT GUIDE

Jet Setter For frequent fliers, Vim & Vigr gives compression socks a stylish update. $32.95 to $34.95, vimvigr.com The Getaway luggage tag comes in three designs. $10, bando.com

The Skross World Adapter MUV USB works as a travel plug and USB charger in more than 150 countries. $39.99, brookstone.com

Mix up classy drinks with the Carry On Cocktail Kit, which comes in five varieties. $24, wandpdesign.com

This cork globe comes in two sizes and includes five red pushpins. $48 to $105, uncommon goods.com

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

The Elements On the Move solid cleansing stick can breeze through security. $28, h2oplus.com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

The Bluesmart One carry-on has a location tracker, a digital scale, a remote lock and battery to charge your phone. $449, bluesmart.com


2016 MODERN WOMAN GIFT GUIDE

Modern Woman

Globe Strands necklace by Baublebar comes in eight colors. $38, baublebar.com

Shoes of Prey allows recipients to design their own custom shoes. Prices start at $129, shoesofprey.com

Mayfair Soap Foundry holiday sets, available in two scents, include body crème and bubble bath/ body wash. $9.99, Target

Deborah Lippmann Family Jewels nail polish set, $24, deborahlippmann.com

Pineapple tumbler with removable lid, $35, uncommongoods.com

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

Tory Burch Kerrington striped square tote bag, $250, neimanmarcus.com

Adorn Dale Salvaggio Bradshaw’s flower ring with a fresh bloom. $72, uncommongoods.com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

But First, Coffee thermal mug, $18, bando.com


YO U R D E S T I N AT I O N F O R T H E F U L L K I TC H E N A I D C R A F T C O F F E E C O L L E C T I O N


2016 MODERN WOMAN GIFT GUIDE

Tech Titan The slimmer, sleeker Xbox One S 2TB console offers 4K Ultra HD video and comes with two free games. $399, microsoftstore.com

Urbanears’ Plattan ADV classic wireless headphones come in 14 colors. $99, urbanears.com

Learn to play guitar with Jamstik+, which has real frets and strings and syncs with interactive apps. $299.99, amazon.com

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

360fly 4K action camera shoots everything in a 360-degree circle. $499.99, Best Buy The iWear video headphones offer an experience equivalent to watching movies or playing video games on a 125-inch screen. $499, vuzix.com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

Yuneec’s new Breeze drone, controlled via smartphone app, takes high-def aerial photos and videos. $499.99, yuneec.com


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2016 MODERN WOMAN GIFT GUIDE

Unsung Hero Oh Honey! pashmina, $44, cyberoptix.com

West Elm’s petrified wood coasters make a breathtaking natural statement. $59 for a set of four, westelm.com

I Teach Small Humans mug holds 11 valuable ounces of caffeine. $16, thelovebombcompany.com

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

Beer jelly gift set made with Ommegang ales, $37.50, shop.beekman1802.com

MiniPresso GR espresso maker is great for those who need a shot of espresso on the go. $59.95, amazon.com

Nothing says, “I heart you very much” like Zabar’s Babka & Rugelach Crate. $98 (includes shipping), zabars.com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

The gorgeous Wool-OverOur-Eyes arm-knitted blanket promises cozy winter nights. $625, shop.beekman1802.com

Hand soap and lotion gift set in Frosted Clove, $24.95, williams-sonoma.com


MICHAEL MULVEY

The fourth season of Fixer Upper, which stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, is set to premiere in the late fall.

48 MAG MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016 2 NAME XXXXXXXXXX


Fixer Upper’s Joanna Gaines starts with the basics to realize big dreams B Y P R I S C I L A M O S Q U E DA

It’s a hot Tuesday afternoon, and Joanna Gaines is buzzing around a home she just finished remodeling near Waco, Texas. She’s walking around in faded jeans, sneakers and a gray cotton T-shirt, repositioning books on shelves and straightening picture frames on walls. To anyone who has seen her hit HGTV show Fixer Upper, this is a familiar sight.


by

Typically, toward the end of an episode, after she and her husband, Chip, have shown clients different real estate options, presented plans for a design overhaul and then completely transformed their home, Joanna pulls an all-nighter to stage the house for the following day’s big reveal. For someone at the head of a booming company with more than

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

450 employees in businesses spanning real estate, construction, retail and food, Gaines is remarkably relaxed. She seems at ease, despite her hectic schedule, the noise of the landscaping machines outside and the lack of air conditioning. “I’m sorry it’s so hot in here; my AC guy is coming today,” she apologizes as she continues to put finishing touches on the space. She

W H E N YO U A R E M A R R I E D TO A G U Y W H O TA K E S C H A N C E S E V E RY DAY, W H O L OV E S R I S K A N D H A S G R E AT INTUITION ... (AND) WHO P U S H E S YO U TO D R E A M B I G , YO U D R E A M B I G .”


J O A N N A’ S T I P S O N

Holiday Hosting 1 The cardinal rule for holiday hosting is to keep it simple and enjoy your friends and family. It’s easy to stress by trying to achieve a specific look or blow away guests with cooking, but remember, that’s not the point of the season.

3 Prepare goodie bags with toiletries and extra items such as dark chocolate for guests, who will appreciate the extras. “There’s something about cold weather and dark chocolate that just warms the belly,” she says.

Make your home more inviting by adding warm accents and texture. Set out extra throws, add autumn leaves or fresh tree cuttings to table arrangements and light a candle with a warm scent such as cinnamon.

4 If you’re spending the holidays at someone else’s home, bring a small gift for the kitchen. Joanna suggests a cute tea towel, a candle with a sprig of evergreens tied on with twine or potted herbs for the windowsill.

LARSEN AND TALBERT/CONTOUR BY GETTY IMAGES

2

glides through the living room, gracefully dodging tripods and lighting umbrellas during a recent photo shoot. Navigating equipment-filled spaces is the norm for Gaines, who films Fixer Upper three or four days a week, 11 months out of the year. It’s difficult to believe that just three years ago, Chip and Joanna Gaines were not household names. They had shut down their home décor store to focus on flipping houses and raising a family when a producer stumbled on Joanna’s blog and approached her about a TV show. Fixer Upper aired in

Before taking on projects, Joanna and Chip consider how the additional workload will affect their four children.

2013 and quickly grew in popularity. Soon after, the two re-opened the retail side of their business and since then, growth has been exponential. “People ask if I’m stressed, but to me, this is so much fun; it’s a dream come true, every part of it,” Gaines says. “The retail business is so much bigger than I ever dreamed it would be.” In February of last year, the Gaineses’ company, Magnolia, only had 40 employees in construction and retail. Now, their real estate company has properties in major Texas cities, and their

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retail store in Waco fills a sprawling 8,000-square-foot space. Magnolia Market at the Silos is more than a home décor store; the grounds have become an attraction in Waco, with their historic silos, outdoor recreation area, food trucks and a stage for live music. This year, Gaines created her own wallpaper and paint lines and launched textile and furniture collections. In July, she fulfilled a longtime dream of opening a bakery on the grounds, and the couple recently purchased property to build a restaurant, which they plan to open in early 2017. In October, the Gaineses released their first book, The Magnolia Story, and a lifestyle magazine. From the first episode of the show, Chip has talked about Joanna being the brains of their operation, but Joanna says he has encouraged her at every step and been at the center of building their amazing team. “When you are married to a guy who takes chances every day, who loves risk and has great intuition and great business instincts — when you’re married to someone like that who pushes you to dream big, you dream big,” she says. “I think if I would have married someone safe, I would have never even tried to open up my own business, where Chip was like, ‘If you

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

Joanna says that Chip, who she married in 2003, has always pushed her to dream big.

have a dream, go for it.’” The Gaineses have erected their own mini empire in Waco, and Joanna is at the front of most of their operations. She insists on picking every item on the shelves at Magnolia Market at the Silos, and designed the pieces in the furniture collection herself. And it was her vision for the silos that led the couple to buy the land and turn the Market — complete with its swing sets, yard games and a transplanted Canadian barn that dates back to the 1870s — into a central Waco attraction. If Chip is her motivation, her kids are her inspiration. Gaines

says Drake, 11, Ella, 10, Duke, 8, and Emmie Kay, 6, empower her more than anything. “Cooking for them and getting to create a home for them is an honor and a privilege, and it always has to start there first,” she says, adding that she always considers how new projects will affect her kids before taking anything on. “It’s the basic stuff where I always start, rather than having these huge dreams and going backwards.” When it comes to creating homes for clients, Gaines also starts with the basics. Rather than begin by asking what style

RACHEL WHYTE PHOTOGRAPHY, WWW.RACHEL-WHYTE.COM

W H E N P E O P L E H AV E T H E F R E E D O M TO T E L L T H E I R OW N S TO RY R AT H E R T H A N T RY I N G TO B E S P E C I F I C TO A C E RTA I N DESIGN OR STYLE ... IT ENDS UP FEELING M O R E L I K E H O M E .”


TIPS FOR

Holiday Fun 1 During the holiday season, the Gaineses’ kitchen has a hot chocolate station for the kids. There are vessels filled with chocolate mix, marshmallows and peppermints, and when the kids come home from school, they each get to prepare their own warm winter beverage. 2 On Thanksgiving and Christmas, Joanna says to let kids use the nice plates and glasses. You might lose a dish or two, but it makes them feel just as special as the adults.

THINKSTOCK; COURTESY OF MAGNOLIA MARKET

3 Spend a day baking goods to give away. The Gaineses make cinnamon rolls together and distribute them among family and friends. 4 Create a visual representation of gratitude, like Joanna’s “grateful tree” or “grateful garland.” 5 If space allows, set up a second Christmas tree and let the kids decorate it with their own ornaments and colorful creations.

of architecture or décor that clients like, she asks what season of life they are in, what their family is like, whether they have pets. For her, it’s all about telling a story. “I think when people have the freedom to tell their own story rather than trying to be specific to a certain design or style, there’s more freedom and it ends up feeling more like home,” Gaines says. “Those spaces we see in magazines and on the Internet are beautiful, but if there’s not that story there, then it’s going to lack that feeling of home.” Being able to tell your family’s story through décor is one thing that makes the holidays so special, she says. To celebrate Thanksgiving, the Gaineses create a “grateful tree” or a “grateful garland” where they write things they are thankful for. The garland or tree is prominently displayed throughout the month of November so that each time they walk by, they’re reminded to be grateful. During Christmas, she decorates one tree in white and mercury glass ornaments, and the family decorates a second tree with all the ornaments and crafts the kids have made throughout the years. “The holidays is the season where you really cozy up your spaces,” Gaines says. Adding texture to the home with extra throws and table arrangements can have that effect, she says, as well as incorporating colorful autumn leaves to a table setting for Thanksgiving or fresh tree cuttings and red holly berries for Christmas. “Holidays are my favorite because it’s all about the five senses: what you smell, what you hear, but also what you can touch from a texture standpoint

— it’s just Magnolia Market at the warming up Silos receives the space.” up to 35,000 But, Gaines visitors a week. warns, be sure family and friends take priority. It’s a lesson that extends beyond the holiday season for Gaines, as she constantly has to balance the growing demands of her businesses with her life and family. Finding balance is a challenge, but one that she welcomes with excitement and gratitude. Their lives haven’t always been this hectic, but it was the early struggles of being entrepreneurs with young children that taught Joanna and Chip how to face challenges head-on. “Without those trials and struggles, we wouldn’t know how to handle this, and so we’re thankful for that, as hard as it was,” Gaines says. “We worked so many hours trying to figure out how to make it that now it just seems like in order to be successful, you’ve got to have the struggles and you’ve got to push through them. If you quit, you’ll never get to see what’s on the other side.”

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p o T s ’ a c i r e Am

AGE S T H AT L IL V Y R R E M Y E X P LO RE V ER SP IRIT O F T HE SE A S O N EMB O DY T HE EX IS KO RM AN BY AL

ad and hit the ro e mall Santa th ip sk , ar ye r his sublime winte ots make for sp y ll jo e es — th miles of ing lights to kl in tw of s million tinajourneys. From ut holiday des -o d ke ec d r houses, ou t gingerbread g or two abou t know a thin as co to t as tions from co ay, stop at a . Along the w ic ag m as m st onal fun. making Chri tinue the seas n co at th s al iv couple of fest

THINKSTOCK

T


JULIENNE SCHAER

New York City


H O L I D AY TOWNS

TOWN |

Leavenworth, Wash.

▶ leavenworth.org

Leavenworth, Wash.

Sausalito, Calif.

FESTIVAL | Winterfest Sausalito, Calif. Famous for its houseboats and Victorian charm, Sausalito’s spin on the 12 Days of Christmas — which begins Dec. 1 — lasts a couple of days longer and includes a lighted boat parade with fireworks over the water on Dec. 17. Insider tip: Book a room at Casa Madrona, a historic mansion-turnedluxury-hotel, and take in stellar views of the holiday harbor procession while sipping spiked hot cocoa and enjoying a roaring fire. ▶ oursausalito.co ▶ casamadrona.com

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

BRIAN MUNOZ; SAUSALITO YACHT CLUB; THINKSTOCK

Nestled against the Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth transforms into a postcardperfect Bavarian village come holiday time. Think horsedrawn sleigh rides under snow-topped trees, sled dog races and an awe-inspiring number of Christmas lights (half a million, to be exact). Concerts featuring carolers, handbells and harps add to the vivacious holiday vibe. Visitors can grab last-minute gifts on Nov. 25 and 26 at the Christkindlmarkt, an Old Worldinspired holiday market with Glühwein (a mulled wine) and costumed characters, or enjoy 26 kilometers of groomed ski trails within 10 miles of town. Don’t miss the Christmas Lighting Festival, held over three consecutive weekends beginning Dec. 2.


TOWN |

Taos, N.M.

Breckenridge, Colo.

CARL SCOFIELD; THINKSTOCK

FESTIVAL | Snow Breckenridge, Colo.

Sculpture Championships

Snowman enthusiasts and serious artists alike flock to Breckenridge each winter, drawn by the chance to see and sculpt ornate sculptures from blocks of ice. On Saturdays during the championships (this winter, between Jan. 24 and Feb. 5), the laid-back ski town also presents a light show and plenty of fire pits to keep travelers warm after a day spent skiing, dogsledding and checking out the jaw-dropping frozen characters on display. ▶ gobreck.com/events/budweiser-international-snow-sculpture-championship

Beyond red- or green-chile-topped everything, this famous New Mexico arts town is naturally full of holiday cheer, surrounded on all sides by ethereal snow-capped mountains (making it an excellent perch for ski bums). Visitors can sip wine or hot chocolate and stroll top art galleries during the Dec. 3 Lighting of Ledoux, in which Ledoux Street is illuminated with hundreds of small paper lanterns known as farolitos or luminarias. Or observe Las Posadas, a Hispanic tradition re-enacting Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter in the nine days leading up to Christmas (this year, Dec. 16-24). The Christmas Eve Procession of the Virgin Mary at the 1,000-year-old Taos Pueblo — a National Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site — should make every traveler’s bucket list. In a solemn ceremony, a statue of Mary is carried through a plaza and returned to its resting place in San Geronimo Chapel, pictured above. ▶ taos.org ▶ taospueblo.com

57


H O L I D AY TOWNS

Branson, Mo.

Branson, Mo. Branson’s Ozark Mountain Christmas runs through Dec. 31 and captivates with millions of glittering bulbs along the 2.5-mile Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights. One $35 ticket covers a carload of up to eight people. Downtown, a giant nativity scene is a main attraction; the lighting of the 28-foot-tall

display and Adoration Parade are Dec. 4. The Old Time Christmas festival at the Silver Dollar City theme park continues daily through Dec. 30; it showcases a five-story Christmas tree, a musical version of It’s a Wonderful Life plus Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Lights Parade nightly, with floats covered in more than 200,000 lights.

▶ explorebranson.com/ christmas

FESTIVAL | St. Paul

Winter Carnival

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival — Jan. 26 to Feb. 5 — is the oldest in the U.S. Since 1886, when it was created by locals after out-of-town reporters described the city as “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation,” it has extended the spirit of the season with ice sculptures, live music, parades, beer tastings and snowplow competitions. Buy a button and register it online for prizes. ▶ wintercarnival.com

58

Alexandria, Va.

MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

TOWN |

Alexandria, Va. Located minutes by car or subway from Washington, D.C., visitors feel like time travelers to Christmas Past in Alexandria’s quaint Old Town. The colonial-era brick-lined streets play host to numerous Christmas events such as the annual Christmas tree lighting Nov. 25, hosted by the mayor with appearances by Santa and Alexandria’s

town crier. The 46th annual Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend that begins Dec. 2 includes a lavish parade of Scottie dogs, dancers and bagpipers on Dec. 3. Ten miles south, revelers who visit George Washington’s Mount Vernon on weekends between Nov. 25 and Dec. 18 can glimpse fireside caroling and 18th-century dancing. ▶ visitalexandriava.com ▶ mountvernon.org/ candlelight

EXPLOREBRANSON.COM; R. NOWITZ/VISIT ALEXANDRIA

TOWN |


New York City

TOWN |

New York City The Big Apple celebrates Christmas in a big way and it’s easy to organize a trip to coincide with Manhattan’s famous outdoor events such as the 90th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 24, or the starstudded Rockefeller

Center Christmas tree lighting Nov. 30. Attractions that will delight all ages include the 1,000plus gingerbread houses at the New York Hall of Science from Nov. 11 to Jan. 15, or the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden from Nov. 19 to Jan. 16. The New York City Ballet’s

iconic Nutcracker, which runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 31, and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which lives up to its name between Nov. 11 and Jan. 2, are must-sees. For those on a budget, glimpses of elaborately decorated department store windows are free.

▶ nycgo.com/holidays

Woodstock, Vt. FESTIVAL |

FESTIVAL |

Lafayette, La.

Woodstock, Vt.

JOE BUGLEWICZ; THINKSTOCK

Cajun & Creole Christmas Expect dozens of events with Acadian flair, like bayou boat parades and gumbo cook-offs, throughout November and December in Lafayette and nearby communities. Take a peek into the region’s past during the Old-Time Christmas Dec. 13-21 at Lafayette’s Vermilionville, a living history museum and park dotted with original settlement structures dating from 1765.

▶ lafayettetravel.com/events/holiday ▶ vermilionville.org

Wassail Weekend Experience a New England holiday during Wassail Weekend Dec. 9-11. The snowy landscape encourages skiing, snowball fights and horse-drawn sleigh rides, but the highlight is the Equestrian Parade, with more than 50 horses and riders clad in 19th-century holiday attire. Fun fact: Wassailing refers to a medieval ritual of song and drink thought to encourage a good harvest. Today, it ensures you’ll help spread holiday cheer. ▶ woodstockvt.com

59


UP FRONT | LABEL HEAD

FOOLPROOF RECIPES TO SWEETEN THE SEASON

MAKE A TRADITION A treasured baked treat helps to signify a special time of year.

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

JAMIE BAKING ADDICTION PHOTOLOTHRIDGE/MY CREDIT

BY KATE PARHAM KORDSMEIER


LABEL HEAD | UP FRONT

THINKSTOCK PHOTO CREDIT THINKSTOCK

hank the culinary gods for Pinterest; the site has given even novice bakers and cooks the courage — and the vast recipe collection — to attempt dishes previously thought to be out of their league. Unfortunately, there’s a reason #pinterestfail, a widely used hashtag to call out epic baking failures, exists. But don’t get discouraged — we’ve called in top baking bloggers, a cookbook author and pastry chefs to help you pull off this holiday baking season.

When it comes to holiday baking, one ingredient always seems to be top of mind: pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is great to fall back on when nothing else is in season, says Michelle Lopez, blogger and photographer at Hummingbird High (hummingbirdhigh.com), a site she first launched to record her baking attempts. Her go-to holiday recipe is a pumpkin pie with crème fraîche swirl and speculoos crust. Jamie Lothridge, the blogger behind My Baking Addiction (mybakingaddiction.com), can relate. Her holiday darling dessert is a pumpkin crunch cake. “The recipe has been a part of our holiday traditions for as long as I can remember.” This is perhaps the first rule of holiday baking — keep things simple and familiar. “If everyone loves Auntie Irene’s thumbprint cookies, make them,” says Lothridge. “But don’t be afraid to put a modern spin on some of your favorites as well.” Alice Medrich, pastry chef and author of eight cookbooks, including Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts and Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-inYour Mouth Cookies, agrees: “Pick triedand-true recipes to reduce stressful surprises.” Her favorites: her mother’s no-peeling-required apple crisp, a gluten-free dark and spicy pumpkin loaf and ginger cookies. Of course, another holiday classic is versatile gingerbread. “My recipe for gingerbread with lemon icing will be your best friend for the holidays,” assures Meredith Tomason, pastry chef and founder of RareSweets, a bakery based in Washington, D.C.

TIPS FOR FAIL-PROOF SWEET TREATS: USE PARCHMENT PAPER Not only does baking on parchment paper make for easy cleanup, it’s also a trick of the trade when it comes to baking cookies in bulk. While two parchment paper-lined baking pans are in the oven with cookies, scoop more cookie dough onto parchment paper on the counter, says Medrich. “As soon as the first cookies are done, slide parchment with hot cookies onto cooling racks, then slide fresh sheets of parchment loaded with dough onto the hot pans and put them into the oven immediately. You do not have to cool cookie sheets between batches so long as you follow these steps.”

PRESENTATION COUNTS To create a beautiful dessert display, Tomason reminds us that the eye is drawn to color, height and variety. So display items on platters with varying heights and use pops of color to gain attention. “It’s also better to display more than less — a big pile of cookies is certainly going to get people grabbing at the plate, as opposed to a couple cookies on a small plate, so pile high.”

PUMPKIN CRUNCH CAKE By Jamie Lothridge, blogger at My Baking Addiction INGREDIENTS 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk 4 large eggs ¹/2 cup sugar ¹/2 cup packed light brown sugar 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract 1 T. pumpkin pie spice 1 tsp. salt 1 box yellow cake mix 1 cup chopped Fisher pecans 1 cup unsalted butter, melted Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, eggs, sugars, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and salt until well combined and smooth. Pour mixture into prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixture and use your hands to gently press it into the batter. Sprinkle the top of the cake with chopped pecans and evenly drizzle the melted butter over the entire cake. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. At this point, check your cake. If the top is becoming too brown, cover the cake with foil. Continue baking an additional 10-20 minutes or until set. Remove pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Chill for a few hours before serving. If desired, top with whipped cream and chopped pecans before serving.

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Easy as Pie

Do as much as you can, as far in advance as you can, says Tomason. “Start a month or three ahead of the holidays by making and freezing breads and cakes. For cookies, freeze the dough (either pre-scooped or shaped into logs for slice-and-bake), rather than fully baked cookies, which saves freezer space and gets you freshly baked cookies — and the aroma thereof — when you need them,” adds Medrich. She also recommends baking cookies that improve with age, like butter or meringue cookies — they’ll keep for a couple months in airtight containers. “Then, the night before your big celebration, measure out ingredients and find pans and equipment for every recipe before you go to bed.” The day of, says Lopez, “just breathe, have a glass of wine, and know it’s not the biggest deal in the world if your dessert doesn’t turn out the way it’s supposed to — most homebaked goods are better quality than anything you can buy in the store.”

GET ORGANIZED “Lists are essential for holiday baking, from grocery lists to menus and baking schedules,” says Lothridge. Tomason seconds that notion: “Make a list of everything you need to prepare, purchase and organize before a holiday event. From there, you can break down how and when you wish to get things done, and ensure that it all happens according to plan.”

BE EXACT “Baking is not as forgiving as cooking, as small changes can make startling differences in results,” says Medrich. “I always follow the recipe exactly as written, at least the first time I make it.”

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MIND YOUR BUTTER “A lot of baking has to do with butter and how you treat butter,” says Tomason. The first rule: Check whether the recipe calls for unsalted or salted butter (most usually call for unsalted). Next, make sure you allow your butter to come to room temperature before you begin creaming. “This will ensure proper mixing and no lumps,” says Tomason. She also recommends scraping down the sides and bottom of your bowl to ensure even mixing and proper air incorporation.

DON’T OVERMIX “Always use the appliance appropriate for the recipe, never one that is more powerful than necessary,” cautions Medrich. “Many cookies are ruined by overmixing, and sometimes a bowl and spoon makes better cookie dough than a mixer.” Tomason adds: “Overmixing batter or dough will cause your dough to be tough and your baked goods to lose their tenderness, so once the dry ingredients are no longer visible in the wet ingredients, turn your mixer off.”

READ DIRECTIONS FIRST Read the recipe in full before you start baking, Lopez says. “There have been many times where I’ve started following a recipe, only to realize that one of the ingredients needed extra prep or there’s a step requiring overnight proofing or chilling.”

TESTING IS KEY Never attempt a new recipe without testing it once before the big day, adds Lothridge. “There’s nothing worse than whipping up a #pinterestfail hours before your guests arrive.”

FAIL-PROOF KITCHEN TOOLS Our experts share their favorite must-have kitchen appliances and gadgets:

“I would be lost without my KitchenAid stand mixer ($459.99, kitchenaid.com),” says Michelle Lopez. If you don’t have one, take advantage of Black Friday discounts.

“I can’t rave enough about my Breville smart oven ($249.99, brevilleusa.com),” says Jamie Lothridge. “It’s the perfect countertop oven that can bake up perfect cookies and casseroles all season long.”

“You can do everything right with your recipe, but if your oven thermometer is off by 20 degrees, you will certainly have a #pastryfail,” says Meredith Tomason. She recommends the Taylor TruTemp oven dial cooking thermometer ($5.99, bedbathandbeyond.com).

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

PREP IN ADVANCE


LABEL HEAD | UP FRONT

GINGERBREAD WITH LEMON ICING By Meredith Tomason, pastry chef and founder of RareSweets INGREDIENTS ¹/³ cup water ¹/8 cup dark coffee ¹/³ cup molasses ¹/³ tsp. baking soda ¹/2 cup dark brown sugar ¹/8 cup canola oil 1 ¹/4 tsp. freshly grated ginger root 1 large egg plus 1 yolk 4 ¹/2 ounces all-purpose flour 1 ¹/8 tsp. baking powder 1 ¹/8 tsp. cocoa powder 1 ¹/4 tsp. ground ginger 1 tsp. cinnamon 2 /³ tsp. cardamom ¹/2 tsp. nutmeg ¹/4 tsp. kosher salt Preheat convection oven to 375 degrees with low fan. Spray a small loaf pan with baking spray and coat with flour. Set aside. Bring water, coffee and molasses to a simmer. Remove from heat and whisk in baking soda. Set aside. Add brown sugar, canola oil and ginger root. Move mixture to a bowl for a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, add the egg and yolk. Mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and add to mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be loose. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes without opening the oven door. After 30 minutes, rotate the pan and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until the top springs back. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once at room temperature, remove the cake from the pan.

SCOTT SUCHMAN; THINKSTOCK

MAKE IN ADVANCE Freeze and serve as needed or give away in holiday disposable bakeware.

LEMON ICING 2 egg whites 2 cups powdered sugar Juice and zest of 1 lemon Pinch of salt Using a stand mixer, whisk together all ingredients until fluffy and slightly stiff. Dollop icing on top of gingerbread. 63


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MODERN WOMAN

be inspired H E A L T H 68 | D E C K T H E H A L L S 72 | B E L I E V E 78 | G O O D W I L L 84 | T R A V E L 86 | C O N N E C T 92 | B E S T G I F T 96

JA SOON KIM

THE BEAUTY AROUND US World traveler, photographer, art director, painter and yoga instructor Ja Soon Kim (@omjsk) creates and shares beautiful organized collages made of flowers, leaves, shells and other foraged objects. Born and raised in Seoul, Korea, she now resides in Santa Fe. You can find more of her work at instagram.com/omjsk and at jasoonkim.com.


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MEET A MODERN WOMAN

Leadership

White's

Q&A

BEST BALANCE ADVICE

Top strategies for relieving stress? Meditation and prayer. I have a morning ritual where I read biblical passages before starting the workday.

How do you balance work and family life? Every night, especially when my kids were younger, I would literally put my cellphone in a bowl, and then I wouldn’t look at it during the time that was set aside for family. I can’t do my job effectively if I’m worried about work-life balance, so it’s important that I take visible action to ensure that I make time for both. (And no, I don’t always get it right.)

AMBER FOUTS; THINKSTOCK

Best holiday gift you’ve received? Time with family.

Where’s home for the holidays? Dallas

u Plan. Have a prioritized to-do list. I ask myself three questions to decide what needs to be done now and what can wait: Does the completion of this task affect somebody else’s ability to do their job? Does this have to be completed today? Does this lighten my mental load? If I answer yes to two or more, I put it at the top of my list.

TERESA WHITE President of Aflac U.S.

Thanks to the talking duck on its TV commercials, Aflac is a household name. But what you may not know is that this insurance company is headed by a woman who last year became the first woman — and the first African-American — to hold the title of president in Aflac’s 60-year history. A computer programmer who went on to became a coder, White created the Career Success Center at Aflac’s headquarters in Columbus, Ga., where employees can receive career advice and learn how to advance within the company. But like many working mothers — White has a 26-year-old son and 21-year-old daughter — she plays a juggling act every day. Finding balance, which she believes ultimately leads to greater health, has become her new mantra. — Karen Asp

u Pause. A good work-life balance doesn’t mean working nonstop and taking few-and-farbetween long vacations. The key word here is balance, and it’s about renewing yourself on a consistent basis to avoid reaching that breaking point. u Reflect. I like to take time at the end of the day to reflect. Did I achieve what I wanted to accomplish today? If not, why? Did I skip family dinner because I was too wrapped up in work? Or did I miss a deadline because I was distracted by a personal issue? No one finds the perfect balance every day. Work-life balance is a process. Look back at how you organize each day. You’ll see patterns emerge, which will help you plan your day. 67


Health

The Holidays, Guilt-free Enjoy your favorites without the New Year regrets BY PEGGY J. NOONAN

D

BE REALISTIC “The holidays are a time for special gatherings and special get-togethers, and having some of your favorite foods throughout that holiday season is nothing to feel guilty about,” says Jess Kolko, a licensed dietitian with Whole Foods Market. Whether you’re a guest or the host, “remember why you’re there,” adds cardiologist Suzanne Steinbaum, spokeswoman for the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement, author of Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum’s Heart Book and creator of the myWanda women’s heart health app. “It’s not necessarily about the food,” Steinbaum explains. It’s about being with people and enjoying life. Make that your mindset to change your holiday perspective, because

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perspective helps you choose how you conduct yourself, she says.

BUILD ON A HEALTHY BASE Enjoy celebrating, getting together with friends and having some of those once-a-year treats you don’t normally have, recommends Kolko, who adds that for most of the year, it’s best to adhere to a balanced diet. Allison Sloma, a dietitian and nutrition analyst for the Exclusive Brands team at Whole Foods Market, recommends starting the day with a healthy, nutrient-dense breakfast to help maintain energy levels throughout the day, and to continue that throughout the year.

BE SMART “Never go into any party too hungry,” cautions Jennifer

McDaniel, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Have a snack such as a salad or low-calorie vegetable soup to feel a little full and you’ll be less likely to overeat, she explains. “A lot of people say, ‘I have a party tonight — I’m not going to eat,’ but what happens is when they get to the party, they’re starving and they overeat.” But if you do overeat, make sure your splurge is something you really want, she adds. And lingering at the buffet or sitting next to a table filled with goodies is never a good idea either. “Don’t stop moving,” Steinbaum says. One way to keep active: Offer to help serve. That way you get up and walk around. “You might as well burn some calories rather than sit there and eat.”

THINKSTOCK

espite your pre-party resolution to take just one tiny bite, overdoing it during the holidays can wreck a healthy diet routine and leave you struggling to shed extra pounds long past New Year’s Day. “On average, Americans gain approximately one to two pounds during the holiday season,” the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reported last year. That may not sound like a lot, the organization notes, but “research shows it tends to stick and accumulate over the years.” The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. With a few simple tweaks, you can enjoy the holidays (and the goodies that come with them) without guilt. Here’s how:


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Health Many dishes around this time of year tend to be very heavy or meat-centric, Kolko says. To keep from piling your plate high at dinner time, she recommends bringing a fresh fruit or vegetable tray to your gatherings to nosh on instead. Sloma suggests choosing recipes made with healthful foods and ingredients, like Whole Foods Market’s raw apple crisp (recipe at right), which provides sweetness without a lot of added sugar, Sloma says. Guilt-free holiday eating is “really about moderation,” Steinbaum says. For example, instead of having an appetizer, dinner and dessert, have a salad and an appetizer. Pair smaller portions with better choices such as veggies and grilled entrees instead of buttery meals. “That way you can enjoy and you don’t have to overdo it,” she adds.

DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP If you overdid it once, don’t think, “Oh, I blew it at that event, so now I might as well go

ahead and just blow it again,” advises McDaniel. If the food was amazingly delicious and you overate, that’s OK. “Don’t beat yourself up over it, because nothing good comes from that,” she notes. Everybody does it from time to time, so don’t waste energy on a mistake. Just start eating in a way that makes you feel good as soon as you can, she says.

WAIT TO LOSE WEIGHT Don’t worry about trying to lose weight during this “very challenging time of the year,” explains McDaniel. Focus on not gaining. “If you can survive November through February and just maintain the healthy weight that you are, that is a good place to be.” The key to guilt-free holiday eating is planning, says Steinbaum. “Being healthy is a very active process. You have to make an effort,” she says, and choose your path. Instead of going through the holidays wondering, “How am I going to do this,” with planning, you can decide, “This is how I’m going to do this.”

SKIP THE SALTIES When we taste salt, we want more and end up eating more, says cardiologist Suzanne Steinbaum. “Chips and all of those processed snacks are almost designed to have you overeat,” partly because of the salt they contain.

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SWEET AND SIMPLE Nuts, raisins and spices make a delicious topping for honeycrisp apples.

RAW APPLE CRISP By Whole Foods Market Serves 8 4 1/4 1/4 3/4 3/4 3/4 3/4

honeycrisp apples, cored and chopped cup orange juice cup pecan halves cup hazelnuts cup raisins tsp. ground ginger tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions Put apples in an 8-inch square baking dish or 2-quart casserole dish. Drizzle with orange juice, toss until the fruit is coated and smooth the top. In a food processor, combine pecans, hazelnuts, raisins, ginger and cinnamon and pulse just until chopped. Spoon the nut mixture over the apples and serve.

Nutritional Info Per serving: 220 calories (130 from fat), 14 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 25 g carbohydrates, (4 g dietary fiber, 17g sugar), 3 g protein.

PHOTO CREDITWHOLE FOODS MARKET THINKSTOCK;

FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE


BIRCH LANE

Deck the Halls

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All is Bright Secrets from the pros on themed holiday decorating BY LISA MARIE HART

E

veryone has a box or two (or 12) of holiday hair out.” Yes, that might mean that hand-stringing decorations tucked away somewhere, just popcorn-and cranberry-garland for your 12-foot waiting to be reopened and unpacked. The hand-cut tree is off the to-do list. feeling you get when you peek into those “At Biltmore, we decorate on a grand scale, but boxes says it all. ‘Tis-the-season elation? Or holiday the process is not so different from decorating your blues hesitation? own home,” says Cathy Barnhardt, floral displays If the former, you’re doing something right. After manager at the historic Biltmore Estate in Asheville, a full year of giddy anticipation, holiday decorating N.C. Hard to believe, really, since we’re talking about should never feel like a chore. America’s largest home, built by George Vanderbilt. But there’s a classic decorating dilemma: While On Christmas Eve of 1895, Vanderbilt threw a festive each string of lights, swag of garland and seasonal housewarming and the house still gets dressed up candleholder may have its own redeeming qualities each year for the occasion. — even deep sentimental beauty — when amassed “Every scheme needs a story to convey,” Barnhardt together they run the says. “All of your risk of resembling an decorations or design after-Christmas tag elements should have sale. Because most a planned relationship, of us tend to collect which lends style and new decorations unity.” over the years while So, how do you rarely paring down the adopt a harmonizing old (who, me?), that theme, make it look — Cathy Barnhardt, floral displays manager, Biltmore Estate overwhelming jumble spectacular and enjoy has the potential to the process? Here’s deliver a bit of bah-humbug — at the very time of how the experts manage to do just that: year that should promise nothing short of pure Resist the explosion. Assorted holiday adornments decorating bliss. that lack a cohesive theme can appear weighed Just ask Simon Doonan, creative ambassador-atdown and lackluster. There may be a theme already large for the fashion and home design store Barneys woven within your commingled collection; you just New York. “Holiday decor is all about creative expresneed to find it. Santa’s Village, Snow Day, Silver and sion,” says this undisputed master of retail window Gold, Old World Christmas, Victorian Splendor, Rustic dressing. “Make sure you are having fun.” Cabin, Merry Ski Lodge, Around the World, Retro Nashville-based Kortney Wilson, co-host of HGTV’s Yuletide and Seaside Season’s Greetings can all look Masters of Flip, agrees. “For me, it’s simple: Don’t do fantastic… just not all in the same room. Organize, anything that is going to stress you out,” she says. edit, rotate. “Decorate for fun. Select things that are going to “You don’t have to bring out everything make you smile, and don’t try and tackle that you have each year,” Barnhardt assures. “Sort tasks that will leave you pulling your your decorations by theme, then use just part of

THINKSTOCK

All of your decorations or design elements should have a planned relationship, which lends style and unity.”

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Deck the Halls

MODERN SHINE

HOMESPUN COZINESS

WOODLAND WHIMSY

Elegant and still on trend, the enduring allure of rose gold brings warmth and glamour to the season. Unexpected yet appropriate, the hue moves from Thanksgiving to New Year’s with grace, glimmer and ease. Get a similar look by mixing copper décor (plentiful this year) with metallic pink, gold and white for a less monochromatic effect. Treats: Snowball cookies, champagne cocktails Signature scents: Snickerdoodle, sugar cookie, amber, vanilla, spiced pear, chai tea

Instantly inviting, this theme calls for a light touch to keep from becoming kitschy or cluttered. Popular this season are plaids and Nordic details, both complements to German nutcrackers, jingle bells, candy canes and candlelight. Blend cheerful pops of red and white with textures and natural materials such as wood and wool to evoke the season’s timeless spirit. Treats: Gingerbread kids, homemade hot chocolate Signature scents: Peppermint, gingerbread, cranberry, cinnamon stick, mulled wine

Someone let those reindeer inside — it’s cold out there! Woodland creatures love the holidays, too. Start with fragrant fresh greenery, pinecones, branches and twinkling white lights, then deck the halls with forest animals great and small. Bears, owls, foxes, squirrels, birds and deer find harmony in a scheme that celebrates nature’s living wonders. This versatile theme feels snowy and ethereal in a neutral palette; chic and mysterious in jewel tones; or modern and playful awash in bright colors such as orange, aqua, hot pink and turquoise. Treats: Decorated forest animal cut-out cookies, mocha lattes Signature scents: Snow-frosted pine, balsam spruce, Douglas fir, mistletoe and cedar

THINKSTOCK

them each year.” Start at the beginning. Welcome guests with a pretty mat, wreath and/or décor around the front door to set the tone for your personal celebration. Barnhardt suggests choosing a theme that reveals something about you, your family or your interests: “You might use something you collect, such as blue and white porcelain, like I do in my own home every year or two.” Incorporate elements of your theme throughout the interior, right on up to the top of the tree. Spin on tradition. “Theme decorating should be unexpected and surprising,” Doonan says. “At Barneys, we once created a ‘Hippie Holiday’ and filled the trees and wreaths with peace signs. Another year, we celebrated a ‘Green Holiday.’ Everything was made from recycled bottles and cans. People loved it.” Use a designer’s eye. One single wellexecuted piece is more effective than a scattering of too many, notes Barnhardt. Vary the height and depth within your displays to add interest. Dare to DIY. Consider your theme a holiday invitation to tap your inner-craft goddess. “I like papier-mâché and handpainted ornaments,” says Doonan. Giant cylinder vases are Wilson’s favorite tool. Fill them to match your theme. “They can be grouped together on window ledges, a mantel, or used as centerpieces,” she says. If you’ve longed to try your hand at mosaic or stained glass, or you once made a wobbly salt dough nativity scene growing up, this is your year to do or re-do at will. Make it meaningful. Display photos from holidays past or infuse a nod to your heritage. Perhaps your parents or grandparents would be honored that you’d like to borrow an heirloom you always admired. Easy does it. When embracing a theme, know when to stop. “Theme decorating has its limits. Minimalist decor can be oh so much more,” Wilson says, laughing. “If it looks finished, don’t take another trip to the supply store and start adding more feathers. Sit back and enjoy.” Doonan’s best rule of thumb for the holidays: “Don’t make everything too slick and perfect.” Elves didn’t sneak in and decorate, you did. That’s what makes it so fun.

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THREE THEMES FOR HOLIDAY DECORATING Make your home festive with a fresh look that pulls it all together

MODERN SHINE

1. Rose gold filigree hurricanes, $29.95 for a set of three, overstock.com 2. St. Jude rose gold metallic foil pillow cover, $44, westelm.com 3. Glass macaron ornaments, $29 for a set of six, westelm.com 4. Rose gold star wall dĂŠcor, $39.99, wayfair.com 5. Mercury glass gold orb lights, $45, dwellstudio.com

HOMESPUN COZINESS

1. Reindeer or snowman mugs, $9.50, potterybarn.com 2. Sleigh bell ornaments, $38 for a set of six, dotandbo.com 3. Holiday magnolia pre-decorated wreath, $399, frontgate.com 4. Classic Christmas plates, $34 for a set of four, dotandbo.com 5. Joy to the World pillow, $40.49, overstock.com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

WOODLAND WHIMSY

1. Marquee reindeer sign, $38.49, overstock.com 2. Folk art owl double old-fashioned glass, $39.99 for a set of four, wayfair.com 3. ASPCA ornaments (hedgehog shown), $10 to $16, westelm.com 4. Fox teapot cozy, $29.95, pier1.com 5. Reclaimed plank tree, $286, dotandbo.com 75


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MEET A MODERN WOMAN

Passion

Tatarka's

Q&A

BEST BAKING ADVICE

Cooking utensil you can't live without? My rubber scraper spatulas (and I have a lot of them).

Insider tip for great cupcakes? Use an ice-cream scooper to scoop the batter into the cupcake pan so you get a consistent-sized cupcake.

WALTER HINICK; THINKSTOCK

Favorite tradition? A tradition my mother passed down to me was giving back around the holidays. I’ve continued this with my kids, even now when they’re 17 and 20, and every Dec. 1, we start baking different cookies and treats through Christmas Eve. Then we deliver goodies to our neighbors, coworkers or people who have been there for me or my family.

Where’s home for the holidays? Dillon, Mont.

u Stick to recipes you know and love. Holiday baking shouldn’t be about experimenting. You don’t want to end up in a lastminute crisis due to a #pinterestfail. If you do want to try some new recipes, though, test them beforehand. u Plan ahead. Make sure you give yourself time, and know that it’s OK to space out your baking. No need to cram it all into one session and stress yourself out.

JANET TATARKA Baker and director of bakery café training

The kitchen has been Janet Tatarka’s playground since she was young. She was about 10 when she and her sister were charged with making dinner while their mom worked. That love of being in the kitchen continued through Tatarka’s adulthood, when she joined forces with Great Harvest Bread Co. Baking is her form of relaxation, and she loves sharing her creations with friends and family. She loves it so much, in fact, that she makes 20 to 25 different cookie and candy treats during the holidays. — Karen Asp

u Take stock of your supplies. See what you’re going to need so you can plan one big grocery trip rather than running the risk of having to run out to the store during the baking process. I always like to start planning and shopping in October so I can grab ingredients when things are on sale. u Have fun. Do it because you love it, not because you’re forced to. For me, it’s all about cranking up the Christmas music and getting in my baking zone. 77


Believe

Peace on Earth Interfaith families celebrate the holidays their way

O

n a December night in Silver Spring, Md., Laura Meissner returns home from church service with her 2-yearold son, Martin. Her husband, Abe, greets them inside, where together, they light the family’s menorah. “We celebrate all the holidays we can — I love it,” says Meissner, 34, who was raised Catholic but now attends an Episcopalian church. Her husband is a Reform

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Jew. Together for more than a decade, the two have embraced each other’s beliefs and are part of the 39 percent of married Americans in interfaith relationships, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center study. This year, Hanukkah begins on Christmas Eve, meaning the couple will celebrate both holidays simultaneously.   “The holiday season for us is about the spirit of things,” says Meissner. “Different traditions

and beliefs have a piece of the same truth. Part of celebrating Christmas, for me, comes from my religious beliefs, but it’s also a time for hope and joy and valuing time with the family.” For Casey Houston, 24, of Grand Rapids, Mich., a selfproclaimed “dedicated life-long Christ-follower,” the holiday season isn’t just about finding the right gifts, she says. “It’s a time of year I take very seriously.” She avoids the trappings of

THINKSTOCK

BY OONA GOODIN-SMITH


Discover a

Way of Living

AVA I L A B L E E V E RYW H E R E B O O KS A R E S O L D


Believe Christian families and use the occasion to educate and reminisce. “There’s a lot of storytelling around Christmastime for us, even though it’s not a holiday we strictly celebrate ourselves,” she says. “I love Romanian Christmas carols, and so we listen to them and I tell my kids about how I would love listening to them when I was young. Bob loves trees, so we usually put one up. The kids are getting older, so we use the season to talk about the story of the birth of Jesus.” Celebrating holidays in an interfaith family is about understanding, Adina says. “My parents are very sweet and supportive,” she says. “In Baha’i, our largest holiday is a four-day festival in February called Ayyám-iHá. Both sides of our families get excited about it and help us celebrate and have us over for dinner because they know it’s important to us and our kids. I think

The Schneeweis family Troy, Mich.

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diverse. I couldn’t believe people were so closed-minded, but the more I learned about the need for diversity in our politics, the more I saw I needed to keep myself planted there, working for it,” says Kuppa. Teaming up with local faith leaders, Kuppa helped to establish the Troy Interfaith Group, which, Laura Meissner’s son, Martin Silver Spring, Md. after a city council vote, held its own multifaith that’s really what holidays National Prayer Day event should be about.” in 2005. The group now Finding common ground hosts monthly activities to among the different promote understanding and religions is key, according learning about the commuto interfaith activist Padma nity’s different faiths. Kuppa. “It’s important to “In the Hindu faith, we look for interpretations in have a saying: ‘The truth is any faith that are inone, the wise call it by clusive in order many names,’ ” to understand says Kuppa. each other,” says “I think that’s the 51-year-old very applicable Troy, Mich., resilearning more dent. “When we and embracing accept everyone others’ truths, for who they are especially and what they around holiday believe, they can celebration.” be the best they No matter the can be.” religion, most Kuppa, who is agree that holiHindu, underdays are what stands firsthand you make them, the toll that and that may religious — Casey Houston mean creating intolerance can unique famtake. In 2004, after being ily traditions and straying asked by Troy’s mayor to from the typical customs. give a Hindu prayer during Those special moments the opening of the city’s are what make the season National Day of Prayer event, memorable. she faced opposition from “We started this thing event organizers, who asked when I was a kid where the city to recognize the day we’d eat Mexican food on as an exclusively JudeoChristmas Eve, just because Christian observance. my dad loved it,” says “With the largest Asian Meissner. “You don’t have population in Michigan and to do things one way just besubstantial Sikh and Muslim cause that’s how others do communities — as well as it. At the end of the day, it’s Christian and Jewish — the about honoring each other city of Troy is incredibly and spreading light.”

My husband has different views on God and the Bible, but it doesn’t get in the way of our relationship.”

COURTESY OF LAURA MEISSNER; COURTESY OF ADINA SCHNEEWEIS

“trying to fit into society’s materialistic view of the season” and finds other ways to connect to people of all beliefs. “My husband has different views on God and the Bible, but it doesn’t get in the way of our relationship. For my family, we try to make it about serving other people and focusing on relationships over gifts.” According to the Pew Research Center, while 9 in 10 Americans report celebrating the Christmas holiday, 32 percent view it as more cultural than religious. For Adina Schneeweis of Troy, Mich., it’s a bit of both. Raised Orthodox Christian in Romania, the 36-year-old converted to the Baha’i faith in the early 2000s after moving to America and meeting her husband, Bob, also Baha’i. While the couple chooses not to celebrate Christmas with each other or their two children, ages 6 and 9, they exchange gifts with both sides of their


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1. Our Vision

We are committed to Thurgood Marshall’s legacy of excellence and equality for our diverse students.

2. Our Mission

Our Mission is to prepare our students for leadership roles in the legal profession, business, and government.

3. Our Values

Our values are cooperation, excellence, fairness, integrity, and learning.

4. Our Incentives

Tuition – Thurgood’s tuition is relatively modest. (Annual tuition is less than $20,000 for in-state students and less than $25,000 for nonresident students.) Scholarships – We award scholarships annually up to 1 million dollars. We provide a full scholarship for each 2L student in the top 10%. Career Services – Full interactive career services support.

5. Our Diversity

In November 2014, The National Jurist Magazine judged our law school as the best law school in the nation for Diversity. Over the last decade, we have also ranked

at or near the top of U.S. News and World Report’s Diversity Index. We look like and act on values that 6

6. Our Academics

We have an Academic Support Department and Program integrated into our general curriculum offerings. The Program begins prior to your enrollment, continues at every stage of your matriculation, and aid of passing a bar exam. Our faculty recently adopted best practices. We focus on measurable enhancement of your knowledge and skills, including the ability to effectively draft documents and advocate to prevent and solve legal problems. Applicants with an LSAT score in the range of 145-150, who have done well in achieving a bachelor’s degree, have a real opportunity to excel; including a highly competitive opportunity to graduate and soon thereafter pass a state bar exam.

7. Our Alums

We proudly include among our alums – Leading members of the U.S. House of Representatives and both the House and Senate of the Texas Legislature;

Distinguished federal and state trial and appellate judges; Key partners in large, medium, and small lawyers, both federal and state; Recognized sports and entertainment lawyers and agents; and Top attorneys in criminal and civil practice areas.

8. Our Faculty

We have a faculty-student ratio that provides real opportunities for meaningful and individualized learning conversations. Many faculty are highly engaged and productive scholars. The faculty is dedicated to the pursuit of ensuring that each student has the opportunity to make meaningful progress in acquiring and employing the knowledge, skills, and values that provide the foundation for success in the legal profession.

We also provide opportunities for students to participate in—Institutes, such as The Earl Carl Institute for Legal & Social Policy, and Clinics, which provide opportunities for experiencing an array of legal practices and focus on developing skills; Externship in Immigration and International Law, Sports and Entertainment Law, and Government Law.

10. Our Credo

Protect, improve, and pass on our legacy of changing the face of the legal profession in Texas and the nation. 6 evaluators that we are honoring this credo and our vision. For example, we recently were accepted as a member of The Association of American Law Schools.

9. Our Collaborations

We collaborate with members of the legal profession and other professions to provide high quality training for TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY our award-winning Mock Trial and Moot Court Inter-Law THURGOOD MARSHALL SCHOOL OF LAW School competitive teams. We provide dual degree Office of Admissions and Financial Aid programs with the School of Business and the School of Edward René, Assistant Dean | Kenyon Moore, Assistant Director Public Affairs. 3100 Cleburne Street • Houston, TX 77004 Ph: 713-313-7114 or 713-313-1149 • Fax: 713-313-1049

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MEET A MODERN WOMAN

Turner's

Q&A

BEST VOLUNTEER ADVICE

Mountain or beach? Beach.

You’re fluent in Spanish. Top tip for learning a second language? Immersion is the only way. Live in the country for a few weeks and get a boyfriend who speaks the language. You’ll be fluent in a month!

u Determine how much time you have to give. You can find everything from one-day opportunities to longer-term ones like we offer at Chicago Scholars. Be sure you have the time to give — nonprofits truly depend on consistent and reliable volunteers — and always follow through.

Favorite holiday tradition? Elf on the Shelf.

JASON MCCOY; THINKSTOCK

Favorite holiday treat? My mom’s sweet potato pie. She makes at least 20 of them on Christmas because everybody wants to take some home.

Where’s home for the holidays? I grew up in Niles, Mich., where my mom still lives, so we meet there on Christmas Eve.

Mentorship

DOMINIQUE JORDAN TURNER President and CEO of Chicago Scholars

Investing in young people is something Dominique Jordan Turner has no problem convincing others to do: She’s living proof of its value. Born to a teenage mother who lived in a housing project, she went on to graduate from college, work in corporate America, join the Peace Corps and pursue an MBA. She assumed her current role in 2013. Today, this go-getter (and mother of a 7-year-old girl) advocates for students of diverse backgrounds to receive highquality educational opportunities that will change their lives, all part of her mission to change the city of Chicago, as well as the world. — Karen Asp

u Assess what you’re good at and what value you could bring to an organization. When volunteers want to do something that’s outside of the organization’s mission, it can water down the effectiveness and outcome of an organization. Remember that this should be about the organization’s needs, not your own. u Volunteer with friends. It’s just more fun. u Give feedback to the organization. Volunteers have a unique perspective that staff members often don’t have. If you truly want to help the organization and the people they serve, ensure that positive and constructive feedback is shared on a regular basis. 83


Chipping In Give a little — or a lot — back this holiday season by volunteering BY KAREN ASP

V

olunteering is not only good for the organization you’re helping but it can also further your family’s bond and improve health. For children in particular, there may even be a more compelling reason to volunteer, namely, their hearts. After more than 100 10th-grade students in Canada volunteered for an hour a week for 10 weeks, they had lower levels of cholesterol and inflammation, even lower body mass index, than students who were on a waiting list to volunteer, according to a study in JAMA Pediatrics. Even more interesting, before the study, there was no difference in these outcomes among students. What’s the reason for the change? “Although we don’t have a clear answer yet, our data suggests that the students who benefited the most from volunteering were the ones

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who reported the greatest increases in prosocial behaviors over the study period,” says Hannah Schreier, study co-author and assistant professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State University. “This suggests that the benefits might be the result of greater prosocial tendencies in general, like greater empathy, rather than simply being more active.” The benefits, though, don’t stop there, especially when your whole family gets involved. “Volunteering provides a way for families to connect outside their normal schedule and day-to-day life,” says Bree von Faith, director of marketing and engagement for VolunteerMatch, a Web-based network that pairs volunteers with organizations needing assistance. Volunteering also provides teachable moments. Susan Eliot Briggs, vice president of product with VolunteerMatch, volunteers every holiday with her three kids — ages 13, 16 and 18 — and believes the experience “teaches them that the holidays are a time to think about others and

PHOTOS BY LINDSAY TRAPNELL /OREGON FOOD BANK

Goodwill


WHERE TO BEGIN

Food banks can always use volunteers. Far left, a mobile pantry is run by Centennial High School students in Gresham, Ore. At left, children pack fresh produce into smaller portions to keep food costs low for the Oregon Food Bank in Portland.

Looking for inspiration? There are many ways to use your time and skills for good. ▶ Catchafire.org connects professionals looking for pro bono volunteer work with nonprofits and social-good initiatives. ▶ DonorsChoose. org allows public school teachers to request experiences and materials for their students. ▶ A popular platform for millennials, DoSomething.org pairs those with specific interests and time (even less than an hour) with causes and initiatives in need. ▶ Often used as a source for nonprofit job searches, Idealist.org also has a volunteer section based on where you live, your schedule and your interests. ▶ For those yearning to roll up their sleeves, Volunteer.gov lists service projects with government agencies such as the National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey. ▶ Universal Giving.org touts international opportunities, such as helping panda keepers in China with their daily activities and teaching English in Ghana.

share what you have.” She says they make holiday baskets and have wrapped presents for kids. “I also want to teach them empathy and understanding of others.” Deciding where to volunteer could be the most difficult part. Almost every nonprofit has a need for volunteers, which means there are dozens of opportunities. There are, though, a few parameters to narrow the choices. First, consider the age of your children. Some organizations have minimum age requirements, depending on what tasks are involved. At animal shelters, for instance, the minimum age to be a dog walker might be 18.

Outside of that, the most important factor is your family’s interests, says von Faith. You can then use a site such as VolunteerMatch. org — November and January are two times when it sees a spike in the number of callouts for volunteers. Or contact the organization you’re interested in working with, even checking with ones you’re currently involved with (churches, schools and community groups) to find out what they might need. Talk with friends and family, too, about what they’ve done in the past. So what can you and your family do? For starters, there are traditional holiday volunteer activities. They might include things such as serving food at a soup kitchen; working at a food bank where you might help sort donated items and check expiration dates on products; helping an organization decorate for the holidays; sorting and wrapping gifts for underprivileged children; wrapping presents for donations for a certain organization; and delivering gifts or meals to homebound individuals. Unique opportunities also arise during the holidays. Last year, for instance, VolunteerMatch featured an animal shelter that was looking for volunteers to make fun videos they could use to promote their animals. Another interesting one was a nonprofit that needed help building Lego ramps and racetracks for a holiday party they were hosting. In the end, you’ll no doubt find that volunteering takes the focus off getting material items as gifts and instead creating experiences, which one might argue are more meaningful in the long run. As von Faith says, “Whenever I volunteer, I feel a little selfish because I get so much out of it.”

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Travel

Nickelodeon Universe

Universal Appeal Minnesota’s Mall of America expands to add hotel, event atrium, attractions and more, just in time for the holidays

A

roller coaster quietly crawls straight up toward eight acres of skylights before dropping into a shriek-erupting plunge at Nickelodeon Universe, the country’s largest indoor amusement park and centerpiece of Minnesota’s Mall of America (MOA). Along its fringes, a 34-foot-tall Lego robot looms above a free Lego play area, the American Girl store beckons doll-lovers to a salon and afternoon tea and the FlyOver America flight simula-

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MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

tion ride inspires with its virtual 4-D glide that treats “passengers” to an aerial cross-country tour (complete with wind and mist). It’s here where families can enjoy a white Christmas while escaping the cold to shop, dine and yes — shriek — together. The largest mall in America, big enough to fit seven Yankee Stadiums, sees 42 million annual visitors. Mark McCormick’s extended family — parents, five adult siblings, spouses, nearly a dozen grandkids ages 5 to 18, cousins

and an aunt — can’t wait to check into the stylish Radisson Blu Mall of America hotel attached to MOA for a reunion, vacation and shopping expedition in December. “They look forward to it every year,” says McCormick, from Marshall, Minn. With new attractions and a $325 million expansion, plus a second connected hotel and a wing of swanky boutiques that’s still filling in, here’s a look at MOA’s top picks as it moves into its 25th year in 2017.

NICKELODEON UNIVERSE

BY LISA MEYERS MCCLINTICK


Travel Sea Life Minnesota, far left, along with Radisson Blu and the Lego Store offer fun and amenities for all ages at the Mall of America.

breakfast, spicy cheese curds as an appetizer and braised short ribs with Wisconsin cheddar grits for dinner. Radisson Blu’s FireLake

Grill House & Cocktail Bar serves brick-oven apple pannekoeken and wild rice pancakes, or smoked pork ribs glazed with honey from rooftop beehives.

$19.99; crayolaexperience. com/minneapolis Nickelodeon Universe, the largest indoor theme park in the United States, has an assortment of 27 colorful rides for all ages, from toddler-size big rigs to scream-worthy coasters and a log chute that ends with a 40-foot drop. More than 400 trees and 30,000 plants give it a lush and outdoorsy feel on blustery winter weekends. $29.99 for one all-day

wristband; nickelodeon universe.com Dutchman’s Deck Adventure Course features slides, a ropes course and the opportunity to speed 405 feet across the Barnacle Blast Zip Line, North America’s longest indoor zip line, located 55 feet above Nickelodeon Universe.

$15.99 for a one-time pass; 88

nickelodeonuni verse.com/rides/ dutchmans-deckadventure-course At Sea Life Minnesota,

touch pools feature stingrays and anemones, and a walk-through tunnel allows sharks and turtles to swim overhead. General admis-

sion tickets start at $14.99; visitsealife.com/minnesota In addition to cashing in post-holiday gift cards and seeking weatherproof fun, winter visitors can join a 10 p.m. ball drop on New Year’s Eve (scheduled for the younger set; there’s also a traditional drop at midnight), catch celebrities in the atrium (past visitors include Heidi Klum, the cast of Hunger Games and the Jenner sisters) or take advantage of free activities and discounts on Toddler Tuesdays. mallofamerica.

com/events STAY The 500-room Radisson Blu’s Black Friday weekend perks come with slippers to shop in, hotel staff to

MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

retrieve (and hide!) your packages while you shop and a full-service year-round spa. Look for photo ops with live reindeer, Santa and a Polar Express conductor closer to Christmas. radissonblu.com/

en/hotel-mall-of-america The sleek, 342-room

JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America opened in November 2015, creating a focal point at the front of MOA and promoting a luxury experience. marriott.

com/hotels/travel/mspjwjw-marriott-minneapolismall-of-america

SHOP & SNACK Toms Shoes, Zara and Anthropologie are expected to open along MOA’s Central Parkway before the holidays, joining destination stores such as L.L. Bean, Kit and

Ace, Fjällräven, Build-ABear Workshop, The Lego Store and Creative Kidstuff. Food lovers should try Wisconsin cheese curds at the Green Bay Packersthemed Rybicki Cheese and small-batch bourbon and blueberry balsamic vinegar at Vom Fass, nurture spring nostalgia and get a sugar buzz at Peeps & Co. or get hot-sauced at the Pepper Palace. Take note: Minnesota does not charge tax on clothing. mallofamerica.com/

shopping/directory DINE More than 80 MOA eateries serve up everything from Tucci Bennuch’s Italian cuisine to sushi at Crave to the playful insults hurled by servers at Dick’s Last Resort. But also try the hotels for top farm-to-table fare, craft cocktails and a quieter setting. JW Marri-

ott’s Cedar + Stone, Urban Table dishes up pumpkin cheesecake pancakes for

GO Metro Transit’s Blue Line light-rail gets you to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in about 20 minutes; if you want to step outside the mall for another Minneapolis-area attraction, you can get to the Minnesota Vikings’ new U.S. Bank Stadium in about 45 minutes, also via the Blue Line. metrotransit.org

PHOTOS BY LISA MEYERS MCCLINTICK

PLAY Crafty kids can make their own crayon labels, pose for personalized coloring pages, melt wax into spin art or race car and ring shapes at the new Crayola Experience, which opened in May.

TIP Buy mall attraction tickets online in advance; many offer substantial discounts.


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MEET A MODERN WOMAN

Creativity

Congdon's

Q&A

BEST CREATIVE ADVICE

Favorite art museum? The Metropolitan Museum of Art. There are endless things to look at, and I love the inspiration I get and discoveries I make every time I’m there.

Favorite holiday tradition? I love getting together with my extended family for Christmas Eve. We exchange family presents, drink nog and eat yummy treats by the tree. It’s my favorite night of the year.

CHRISTOPHER DIBBLE; THINKSTOCK

Best gift you’ve ever received? In the 1970s, I got the orange Barbie camper van and spent hours in the backyard, making up stories with my dolls about adventuring in nature. I’ll never forget how much I loved that plastic van.

Where’s home for the holidays? Portland, Ore.

u Take an art or crafting class for beginners. Starting the process with other people who don’t have much experience can be a great place to start. It’s less intimidating and can lead to some worthwhile discoveries. u Buy a blank sketchbook. Then doodle whenever you’re on the phone or watching TV. See where that leads you. And don’t be afraid to experiment with different materials and mediums.

LISA CONGDON Illustrator and author

Those who know Lisa Congdon’s work may be surprised to learn that the artist didn’t start drawing or painting until she was 31. Bored with her project managing job at the time, she began exploring hobbies that might spark something inside her. When her brother invited her to take a painting class with him, she said yes, and her life forever changed. Many drawing and art classes later, she launched a freelance career as an illustrator and is working on her eighth book. — Karen Asp

u Make art with the kids in your life. Children are great models for letting go of judgment and enjoying the process. Make time to sit down and draw, paint, cut and explore. u Read this one book. One thing I learned by reading Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert is that we’re all at least a little bit scared of expressing our creativity. There’s a lot of value in pushing past our fear and moving toward our curiosity and natural desire to express ourselves. This book is a must for anybody wanting to live a more creative life. 91


The Write Stuff Send meaningful messages with thoughtful holiday cards BY SHELLEY SEALE

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W

hen it comes to sending holiday cards, many people simply sign a name, stamp an envelope and ship it off. But the holidays are all about connecting, and one way to do that is by taking a bit of time to create a personal card. “Handmade cards and handwritten notes are a true expression of love,” says John Reburn, printmaker and owner of Appalachia Press in Roanoke, Va. While snail mail has been losing the battle against easier (and faster) electronic communication for some time now, Reburn, who creates letterpress items using a centuries-old tradition, thinks that putting pen to card is more important than ever. “The power of handwriting is now an art,” he says. “Our words, written by hand, have become a gift. The time it takes to make or select a card is not unnoticed.”

Indeed, most Hello Lucky From $5 per card of us hold on to hellolucky.com a card for a long time — even a lifetime. “One’s true personality and creativity comes through with a handmade card,” says etiquette expert, author and speaker Jacqueline Whitmore. “It shows that the sender took the time to make a unique, oneof-a-kind card for the recipient.” Lydia Fiedler, a community manager at Splitcoaststampers, a Web-based community for paper crafters, sends out about 200 handcrafted cards each year. “It’s like giving 200 people a gift, which would be financially impossible. Social media bombards you with fleeting contact, whereas the simple chemistry of paper and ink create a tangible gesture of kindness and a slower pace the world is missing.”

HAMMERPRESS CARDS; THINKSTOCK

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Connect THE FINE PRINT

Our experts share pointers and advice on how to craft the perfect, personal holiday card

START EARLY Make sure you plan your recipient list and accumulate supplies in plenty of time to avoid the stress of a time crunch.

is interested. Fiedler also suggests searching meetup.com for groups in your area. “You can make pretty things and forge friendships in the process.”

DON’T FORGET THE THANK-YOU KEEP IT SIMPLE

PUT TOGETHER A CARD-MAKING KIT Colorful pens, designed paper, stickers, rubber stamps, ribbons and other embellishments are all simple tools that can be used to create beautiful cards. These can all be bought at craft and art supply stores, online or even your local grocery or drugstore.

The beginning cardmaker should focus on uncomplicated designs with one central image, combined with a message she loves. Keep the details clean, precise and easy to duplicate. “Some of the cutest holiday cards I’ve seen have tiny but impactful images with a simple sentiment,” Fiedler notes. “The most important element of any card you make is the kind gesture that’s behind it, so have fun and use what appeals to you.”

MAKE IT A GROUP EFFORT Lydia Fiedler, a community manager at Splitcoaststampers, says the only thing more fun than making your own cards is doing so with friends. She teaches cardmaking classes; such classes can be found in communities around the country. Reach out to friends to see who

94

full-fledged concept.” Begin with a sketch, then build your card based on that.

TAILOR THE CARD According to John Reburn of Appalachia Press, an ideal card is one that is designed according to the personality and likes of its recipient. “Sometimes it helps to find a quote, message or greeting that fits the mood; these ideas will gel into a

MODERN WOMAN | FALL/WINTER 2016

The perfect opportunity for your own card creations lies in the gifts you receive — how about sending a handwritten card or letter of thanks? Proper etiquette affirms that thank-you cards will never go out of style. As modern manners expert Lydia Ramsey says, etiquette is not about rules — it’s about relationships. “Nothing will build or enhance a relationship as effectively as the handwritten letter or note,” she says, adding that it takes little time or effort if you’re organized. Ramsey recommends keeping supplies and stamps close at hand, and to use a good pen. Why detract from such an effort with an inferior one? “Thank-you notes are a lost art,” Fiedler adds. “You can really stretch your investment in your paper crafting supplies by using holiday images for cute thank-you notes. ... Extending that feeling of gratitude we have at that time of year is a great way to use your crafting skills.”

Don’t have time to completely create your own cards from scratch? Turn to a small letterpress company for fresh, on-trend alternatives to traditional cards, says Debbie Swan of Hammerpress Letterpress and Design Studio in Kansas City, Mo. “While supporting the creative community, you can find the perfect card to engage your loved one on a more personal level.”

Appalachia Press $4 to $4.50 per card appalachiapress.com

Hammerpress Letterpress and Design Studio $4 to $5.50 per card hammerpress.net

Night Owl Paper Goods $6 to $6.50 per wooden card; $14.50 to $16.50 per box of 10 paper cards nightowlpapergoods.com

Rifle Paper Company Garland Hunter Custom illustrated cards of your family start at $360 for 25 cards riflepaperco.com

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES; ILLUSTRATIONS: THINKSTOCK; MIRANDA PELLICANO

WHERE TO BEGIN?


The writer poses with her mother two months before she passed away. Below, wearing matching dresses.

Gift of Time A writer puts her life on hold to spend more days with her dying mother BY MARGAUX ANBOUBA

F

or my 21st birthday, my mother wrote me a letter that read, “You are my go-to gal. I could not have made it this far without you. Stay strong and I’ll stay strong for you.” Reading this message, you’d never know that our relationship had been rocky. Years of my typical teenage behavior — eye rolling, fighting and screaming — had left us distant and broken. After graduating from high school in Dallas, I moved to Memphis to attend Rhodes College. The distance neither helped nor hurt our relationship; it was more a necessary break from the stress we had been enduring. A few months into my sophomore year, while on a short break at home, I opened the door to find my mother hooked up to an at-home chemotherapy machine. She had been given a death sentence: stage 4 colon cancer and a 20 percent chance of surviving three months. Completely distressed, I decided that weekend to withdraw from classes to become my mother’s primary caregiver, surprising my family and believing naively that I could help my mother live. I also wanted to help my father, who needed to work, and to help raise my younger brother, James, who was 15 at the time. I didn’t want his teenage years to be spent driving my mom to and from doctor’s appointments, so my days as a college dropout were spent ferrying mom to and from

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chemotherapy, surgery and emergency hospital visits. In the midst of all the seriousness, we were able to find time to have fun. One of our favorite outings was to a local wig shop, where we’d purchase a ’do of the day, driving around together sporting our wigs. (Shopping for groceries wearing fluorescent purple bobs was especially thrilling!) I finally learned the secret behind our family’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, and our relationship was on the mend. I dedicated nearly a year to taking care of my mom. In August 2010, I returned to school in Memphis to

continue my studies. The cancer was in remission and all of her doctors were amazed by how long she was able to fight, given the prognosis. Despite her strenth, my mother ultimately wasn’t able to beat the disease. Two years of painful treatments began to take a toll on her body and mind. While I knew she wanted to be there to see my brother and I grow up, I also knew she was tired. While I was home on Christmas break, my mother died Dec. 29, 2011, four months after she penned my birthday note. And although she taught me so many things throughout my life, it was the two years that she spent fighting cancer that left the greatest impact on me. During this time, our relationship not only healed, but grew beyond the confines of mother and daughter. While her cancer was the worst thing to happen to our family, the time we had to mend our relationship was the greatest gift I will ever receive. Whenever I reach a life milestone that I wish my mom could be here for, or miss her just because, I look to the letter she wrote that’s signed, “I love you and you know I will always be there in spirit.” I can’t help but think it’s like she knew we wouldn’t have a long time together. And while I may never be fully OK with not having her around, I know her legacy has inspired every action that I take — and I am so thankful for that.

— Margaux Anbouba is a Dallas-based writer who spent her childhood exploring the Middle East with her family. Today, she’s still searching for adventures, which always end up being her greatest stories.

COURTESY OF MARGAUX ANBOUBA; THINKSTOCK

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Original HP 63XL Ink Cartridges Get up to 2X the pages with Original HP XL ink cartridges compared to standard cartridges1

1

Compared with standard-capacity HP 63 ink cartridges. Based on published page yields (hp.com/go/learnaboutsupplies). Š Copyright 2016 HP Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. Intel, Pentium, Intel Core, Celeron, Intel logo and the Intel Inside logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries.

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