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good things

Something She Reads | 2013 Gift Guide for Your Hipster Girlfriend

Giving the Baby Back by Daffodil Campbell

A story of foster parenting on Maui by one of my dearest friends. On Tuesday I’ll be running an interview here with Daffodil and giving away a copy of her book.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Clean all the things!

A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London, and New York by Anjelica Huston

A memoir by a fascinating woman.

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

She’s been dying to read it after watching the TV show.

The Power of Starting Something Stupid by Richie Norton w/ Natalie Norton

True story: I added this to my shopping cart on a whim and found it very inspiring. The very next week I met Richie’s wife Natalie and was able to tell her how much I liked her book!

Thanksgiving by Sam Sifton

Because hosting a big holiday meal is on her Life List.

A Year Without Makeup (for Kindle) by Stephanie Yoder

A 20-something traveled the world, got attacked by giant parrots, and found true love.

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton

On pretty much everyone’s list this year. You better act REALLY fast if you want this in time for Christmas; according to Brandon’s blog post yesterday, the printer can’t print them fast enough, the publisher is pulling strings to make more, and there might not be enough for Christmas.


You can see the entire 2013 Gift Guide for your Hipster Girlfriend here and visit my Pinterest boards for even more ideas.

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good things

Something She Wears | 2013 Gift Guide for Your Hipster Girlfriend

gift guide for your hipster girlfriend

Anchinalu scarf, $40

Support women-owned businesses in Africa.

gift guide for your hipster girlfriend

circle stud earrings, $20

Just the thing to finish off her cute outfit.

gift guide for your hipster girlfriend

Chucks, in “green”, $50

Because her other ones are literally disintegrating.

gift guide for your hipster girlfriend

zip-up hoodie, $30

I am blogging from this hoodie right now.

gift guide for your hipster girlfriend

cowlneck sweater, $60

Super cozy.

gift guide for your hipster girlfriend

the sketchbook bag, $138

Great for carting around Brooklyn… or Paris.

gift guide for your hipster girlfriend

lacy boyshorts, $29

Sexy without being sleazy.

gift guide for your hipster girlfriend

limited edition Fat Toad Farm Irish whiskey cream caramel, $28

Yes, I posted this to the “Something She Wears” gift guide. Give it a minute.

hipster engagement ring

Herkimer diamond claw ring, $148

For when you’re ready to make her your hipster wife.


You can see the entire 2013 Gift Guide for your Hipster Girlfriend here and visit my Pinterest boards for even more ideas.

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good things

Something She Needs | 2013 Gift Guide for Your Hipster Girlfriend

hipster girlfriend gift guide

various key tags, $15

You can have any color key tag inscribed with anything you want. Some of the examples on the main page are pretty hysterical!

hipster girlfriend gift guide

copper pot scrubber, $8

For washing dishes post “risotto Sunday”.

hipster girlfriend gift guide

agate bookend, $20

So, this appears to be real agate, and for sale for about 1/5 the price I’ve seen hunks of agate this size sold everywhere else. Two of them together would make a beautiful pair to hold her poetry books.

hipster girlfriend gift guide

truffle salt, $14

This stuff is amazing. I’ve put it on everything. Occasionally I’ll just sniff it.

hipster girlfriend gift guide

Poo-Pourri, $25

Have you seen the hilarious YouTube commercial for this stuff? I was skeptical, so sent away for their free sample, and… it works. Just trust me.

hipster girlfriend gift guide

bake & store glass containers, $18

Because you love cooking together.

hipster girlfriend gift guide

S.W. Basics of Brooklyn cleanser, $24

For her dainty hipster skin.

hipster girlfriend gift guide

The Weekender Bag, $170

Paired, of course, with a promise of a weekend away in a cabin.

hipster girlfriend gift guide

bkr water bottle, $28

For bringing along to yoga.

hipster girlfriend gift guide

Temba toiletry bags, $14 – $16 (on sale!)

These sweet canvas bags are on mega sale – snag one for your hipster girlfriend now!

hipster girlfriend gift guide

Apple TV, $99

Protip: Shake down someone’s suburban parents for their login so you can have access to HBO Go.


You can see the entire 2013 Gift Guide for your Hipster Girlfriend here and visit my Pinterest boards for even more ideas.

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good things

Something She Wants | 2013 Gift Guide for Your Hipster Girlfriend

hipster girlfriend gift guide

Motobecane Bistro 7V Classic bike, $400

You’re never actually too old to be thrilled with finding a bike under the Christmas tree.

hipster girlfriend gift guide

Soft throw blanket, $49

For Wes Anderson movie marathons.

hipster girlfriend gift guide

Dino planters, $15 each

These are amazing and wonderful.

hipster girlfriend gift guide

12 x 18″ Slate cheese board, $44

Hello. Wine and cheese. Ding dong.

hipster girlfriend gift guide

Creamy St. Marcellin brie in little crocks, $9

Deliciousness packaged in adorableness.

hipster girlfriend gift guide

Illume Mini tin candle in “Balsam & Cedar”, $9

Illume gifted every attendee at Camp Mighty 2013 with one of these, and the quality is vastly superior to cheap wax candles.

hipster girlfriend gift guide

Bulleit Bourbon

Maggie suggest pairing this with these cherries for excellent Manhattans.

Pencil for the iPad app Paper, $60

So she can create beautiful things.


You can see the entire 2013 Gift Guide for your Hipster Girlfriend here and visit my Pinterest boards for even more ideas.

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fun good things

Celebrate Birthdays Spontaniously

I carry birthday candles in my purse.

They are $2 for a small pack of ultra-skinny ones at One Girl Cookies in Brooklyn, and I picked them up to have on hand at home but forgot to take them out, so they lived in my purse for months, and one day it was someone’s birthday in a restaurant, so I dug one out and stuck it in their food. Because they’re so tiny, they can be jammed in just about anything – more than once they’ve been stuck in the lime of a tequila shot – and since birthdays are right up there with puppies and sex as my favorite things ever, they stayed in my purse for spontaneous, low-key celebrations anywhere. (I’ve since taken to tucking them into a credit card slot in my wallet, actually, so they don’t get broken.)

A few nights ago in a group of people I’d just met, someone mentioned, and then immediately shrugged off, that it was his birthday. We were in a bar, and I heard from his buddies he was going through a rough breakup, and he was a complete stranger, so I felt kind of silly, but I dug out a candle anyway, held it out lit, and said, “Hey, I hope you don’t mind…”

The guy next to him got the bright idea to tuck it into the tab of his friend’s beer can, and we all sang Happy Birthday to this guy who was completely touched and happy. Phew!

If you want to buy your own ultra skinny birthday candles, Bake It Pretty has a lot of them.

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blah blah blah career good things

Cool Careers for Dummies

When I was 18, I bought a book called “Cool Careers for Dummies” and packed it along with my discman on a trip to Maine with Jen, her parents, and a few of our friends, including Micah who is now her husband of nine years, and the whole trip was kind of weird because Jen and Micah sort of liked each other but it was tense and awkward, but now it’s better because when I go, “you guys looooove each other!” they respond with grinning and making outs in their kitchen instead of looking down, shuffling their feet, and turning bright red.

We’ve come a long way. I am less of a punk now.

Anyway, one of the careers I earmarked was “Neon Sign Maker” because that seemed awesome, and as it turns out, Kelly Mark is an artist that makes them. It’s not too over-the-top to get one for my living room, is it?

When I was a young teenager I wanted to make things that were visually beautiful and meet a lot of people which is exactly what I do now, but I never knew what it would look like until a decade and a half later when it fell into place. I think it’s so cool that I’ve stayed true to who I was years ago!

What did you want to be when you grew up? Are there elements of what you dreamed of that are present in your job today?

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blah blah blah good things photos

Vermont Road Trip

Lost wallets aside, Vermont was fun. We drove the entire loop of the state, going so far north at one point that we crossed the border into Quebec.

First stop: Ben and Jerry’s! It’s Vermont’s biggest tourist attraction, and for four dollars (or free if you check in on Foursquare) you can take the tour of the factory. I honestly figured it would be epic levels of corny, but as someone who loves small business (uh, not to mention ice cream) I found it fascinating. And we got to pose in this thing:

ben and jerry's

amber marlow ben and jerry's

The tour doubles as a test kitchen, so they gave us samples of ice cream that hasn’t hit the shelves yet. This is brownie salted caramel, and it is AMAZING.

ben and jerry's factory tour

The kids on our tour were pretty much gutted when they saw this sign, and there were a few trembly lips until they were clued into the joke.

vermont road trip

vermont road trip

vermont road trip

My boyfriend is a school teacher which means he often wants to do things that give me icky homeschooling flashbacks, but I think he’s rad, so I go along with them. This was actually pretty cool, though. We took a tour of the State Capitol of Vermont in Montpelier guided by a volunteer who let me sit in a senate seat since nothing was in session for the summer. Apparently State Capitols are available to the public.

vermont state capitol

vermont state capitol

The coolest thing we saw was the Haskell Free Library and Opera House (the opera house tours had ended for the day when we got there, unfortunately). It’s all the way up at the top of the state, so far north that it’s actually built on the international border, and books are in both English and French. As long as you’re in the building you don’t need a passport, and I had a fun time hopping back and forth over the line between the US and Canada a few times. Here’s the reading room as seen from the front entrance; I was standing in the US, and the line on the floor shows the division between the two countries. I am reflected in the piece of furniture over in Canada.

Haskell Free Library and Opera House

Haskell Free Library and Opera House

Haskell Free Library and Opera House

Haskell Free Libaray and Opera House

Donations in both Canadian and American dollars.

Haskell Free Library and Opera House

I had to cross the border to get this shot, and because 1. we we wary of breaking international law and 2. I wanted a stamp in my passport, we walked through customs. The Canadians were quite happy to have us over and laughingly stamped my passport when I asked, even though it wasn’t strictly necessary. The customs agent to come back through into the United States was grumpy, though.

“Why did you go into Canada?” she snipped, and we told her it was to see the back of the Haskell.

“What’s so special about the back?” she demanded.

As it turns out, not much, but here it is. I got a photo.

Canadian United States border

US Canada border

With a cooler in the car, we made three stops on the Vermont Cheese Trail (which is, bless them, actually A Thing). First stop was Fat Toad Farm which is moving away from making goat cheese in favor of making goats milk caramel. A taste made it pretty clear as to why it’s selling like crazy, and I bought a jar of salted bourbon caramel, along with one of their last containers of cheese, which I am hoarding it in the back of my fridge.

The goats were friendly and eager to be pet, the dogs were friendly and eager to greet us, the people were really friendly and happy to see us, but the chickens, man. They look judgy and disapproving.

Fat Toad Farm

baby goat“Hey kid.”


“I’m going to take a photo of you doing interesting farm things, ok?”

“Uh, well, I’m going to roll this wheel barrel away…”

fat toad farm caramel

She’d just added the bourbon for the salted caramel bourbon, which smelled amazing.

fat toad farm vermont

This chicken thinks you should have worn more appropriate slacks.

chicken fat toad farm

This chicken doesn’t understand why you insist on wearing your hair that way.

chicken fat toad farms

These chickens wonder if maybe you could stand to loose a few pounds.

Next was Neighborly Farms down the road a bit for cow cheese. We were given a tour by teenaged Darien, who is pretty much the cutest and was amused that I wanted to take his photo.

neighborly farms vermont


Calf number 180 was too shy to come out of her cow house. She’s only a few weeks old!

Last stop was Vermont Shepard where we didn’t see any other humans.

The store was another tiny cottage, this one next to a meadow full of sheep.

It had a refrigerator full of cheese for sale…

… and this was how I paid for it. Clearly not in New York any more.


And finally, a wrong turn brought us to a Saxtons River Distillery, where I bought maple bourbon. Not technically cheese, but a good fourth stop anyway.


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good things

Hey, Marlow!

custom screen printed tee shirt company

My fourth and final name is officially inked as of a few weeks ago, and now it is a flurry of going to social security offices, the DMV, having a new passport made, and getting all new credit cards, billing accounts, and bank checks. Your name goes on a lot of stuff. I have to change my name on everything. It doesn’t end. Still; it’s worth it; I’m really happy and excited to be Amber Marlow. (In a game-day decision, my middle name, “Hope” is going to be non-legal for the sake of simplicity.)

There is a lot of rearranging, construction, and upheaval going on in my life that has been difficult to talk about because it’s being lived, and I am keenly aware that, currently, I can’t see see the forest for the trees. It’s overwhelming, and I haven’t quite got both hands around everything yet, but being legally Amber Marlow is one of the final shiny nails into my new, post-divorce life. The weather finally got warm, too, and it’s been helpful in getting productive.

“My life is actually pretty good,” I told my therapist. “Every day I feel lucky to be alive, well-employed and surrounded by friends. Saying this is hard sometimes feels wrong because it’s awesome, too but really, it’s hard right now.”

“Your life shattered.” she said. “You get to acknowledge that rebuilding is challenging.”

So this is me acknowledging that it’s challenging, still. It is hard, joyful work. I feel good.


Dress United is a company that prints custom tee shirts and sweatshirts; they wanted to work with me on a sponsored blog post and offered to send me a custom design.

“Cool!”, I thought. “I can get some funny saying on a tee shirt.”

Then I remembered I’m 31. Also, no one needs to read my boobs.

Since their offer coincided to the week with my legal name change, and they offer hoodies, too, I got one monogrammed with my new initials. It good for when I’m jogging snuggling on the couch watching movies. They also offer unisex tees, women’s tees, and hoodies in darker colors that would normally be more my speed, but the green felt like the more fun choice.

I gave it a workout at Prospect Park yesterday, where I blew off half a day’s worth of work to kick a soccer ball around in the glorious weather with Tris, who snapped these photos. Now I kind of want to start a twee hipster soccer league, especially since 1. he taught me how to kick the ball properly: NOT with your toes! and 2. I already have the tee shirt company to make our uniforms.

Should we be the Organic Free-Rangers or the Craft Brewers?



“I don’t know what to do in front of a camera; behind it is where I belong. What should I do?”

“I don’t know… make a duck call?”

“Helllloooooo, ducks?!”


screen printing tee shirts and sweatshirts company

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good things

A Love Note to Super Runaway

One of the tricky parts of my new life as a single lady is navigating all of my tech stuff by myself. Between Tracy, Gavin and Jesse I’m mostly covered (you guys are the best) but I had had to find a new host for this blog when I got separated (we had a private family hosting account that I opted out of using post-divorce.)

I turned to Super Runaway. They are the folks that built my professional web site, and now they host both of my websites ( and this one) on their servers for a reasonable annual fee.

They are also available if I need anything answered, which is almost as good as requesting design changes over dinner, and have kindly endured no fewer than a dozen silly questions, poorly-worded requests, and minor blog-related panic attacks from me in the past few months. And I’m not even sleeping with them.

This is not a sponsored post; this is a love note to a company that I really enjoy working with. Thank you for all the little things you’ve done “on the house”, the eleventy-billion times you’ve explained FTP to me (sorry, I still only kind of get it), and for making this aspect of my mega-watt life transition a little easier.

They do beautiful design work, too, and if you are in need of a new website, send them a note.

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blah blah blah good things

Would You Wear Vintage Fur?

I stand around like this all the time, don’t you?

At a clothing swap months ago, someone brought a vintage wool coat with a mink collar. It was tossed aside for most of the swap, and the woman who brought it scooped it up after a few hours and handed it to me.

“This,” she said, “will be gorgeous on you.” When I tried it on, all of the other ladies in attendance agreed it suited me well.

I hesitated, though. Fur? I’ve never worn it, and would never buy it.

There’s the decades old joke about people picking on fur more than leather only because it’s easier to pick on rich ladies than biker dudes, but the fact remains that mink raises an eyebrow where my leather purse does not, especially in hip, liberal Brooklyn. (I generally avoid leather, too, but made an exception for my rib & hull heirloom tote purse, pictured above, after three faux leather purses in a row fell apart on me.)

When I asked for opinions on Facebook, my friends – including my thoughtful, vegan, animal-skin avoiding friend Kim – said wear it, and so I am, but with some hesitation still. I will certainly avoid wearing it around clients to avoid being offensive. It’s fabulous, though, and makes me feel like I’m channeling Margot Tenebaum! In other words, there are a lot of mixed feelings.

Do you or would you wear vintage fur if someone gave it to you for free? Would you buy it? Is new fur still taboo?

p.s. Aren’t my half-gloves amazing? They were a gift from Lindsey, an elopement client of mine who knit them for me. They are perfect for operating a camera in the cold.

photos by Lydia Phillips Royce

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