Articles by " Melanie DeStefano"
11 Apr

Boost your basket: Easter done right

This one East­er, I got a note from Mr. East­er Bun­ny him­self inside my East­er bas­ket. Hand-drawn in pic­tures (because I guess he doesn’t know how to write? It makes sense, he is a rab­bit.), the pic­ture-note sig­naled that I would be receiv­ing a half dozen baby chicks for East­er. I did, in fact, receive chick­ens a few days lat­er. They lived long, healthy lives, and pro­vid­ed eggs for the entire neigh­bor­hood. But this is not their sto­ry.

My point is, East­er bas­kets are won­der­ful. Noth­ing beat rac­ing my broth­er to see who found their bas­ket first, and then rum­mag­ing through the goods and trad­ing can­dy. Oth­er than that one year, our bas­kets were always pret­ty stan­dard, but it nev­er took away from the excite­ment of East­er morn­ing.

So, if you don’t feel like going the baby chick­en route, there are still plen­ty of ways to boost your bas­kets for East­er morn­ing. May we sug­gest some of the fol­low­ing?

Kards has just about any cud­dly stuffed ani­mal you could want. Daughter’s favorite ani­mal a skunk? Got it. Son love uni­corns? So many uni­corns here. And, yes, we have bun­nies galore, plus chicks and their mamas.

We have light up, col­or-chang­ing eggs. I may be tempt­ed to buy them all and zen out to the slow parade of col­ors. But I won’t. I’ll leave some for you, our loy­al cus­tomers. Kids will won­der at the­se small marvels–they’re a nice way to bright­en a dark bedroom–but par­ents will get a kick out of them, too.

Do I real­ly need to say any­thing about this one? Every­one loves stick­ers. Just trust me, get some stick­ers.

A time-hon­ored tra­di­tion, an East­er bas­ket just isn’t an East­er bas­ket with­out can­dy. Instead of, or in addi­tion to, stan­dard jel­ly beans and choco­late bun­nies, add a lit­tle excite­ment with themed can­dy from a favorite movie, video game, or wherever Hel­lo Kit­ty is from. Add a game of chance with Bean Boo­zled. Will the jel­ly bean you’ve cho­sen be deli­cious or one of the box’s trick fla­vors?

Toys and games for the car ride to church, out­door pic­nic, or rainy day inside, we have some­thing fun no mat­ter what East­er day has in store.

Here’s a peek at some of the bas­ket stuffers we have to offer, but stop in 9–9 Mon­day through Fri­day or 12–5 Sun­days for even more options. We’ll be open East­er day for that last-min­ute shop­ping, as well. Hop­py East­er!

18 Mar

You Are Special To Me: Happy Birthday, Mr. Rogers!

An Ode to Mr. Rogers

March 20 is Won’t You Be My Neigh­bor Day, in hon­or of the one, the only Mr. Rogers’s birth­day! Gen­er­a­tions of chil­dren grew up lis­ten­ing to the sooth­ing voice of Fred Rogers on his pub­lic broad­cast­ing tele­vi­sion pro­gram, Mis­ter Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood, which ran from 1968 to 2001. For mil­lions of chil­dren like me, Fred Rogers was much like Mom and Dad; he had no first name. To sug­gest he was more than Mr. Rogers, the cardi­gan-wear­ing, gold­fish-feed­ing friend I vis­it­ed almost every day, would be blas­phe­mous. But as I have learned since mov­ing to Pitts­burgh, Mr. Rogers’ actu­al neigh­bor­hood, he was much more than the man I knew.

Born Fred McFeely Rogers (yes, as in Mr. McFeely, from the Speedy Deliv­ery Ser­vice!), Mr. Rogers had a bachelor’s degree in music com­po­si­tion, was an ordained Pres­by­te­ri­an min­is­ter, and attend­ed Uni­ver­si­ty of Pittsburgh’s Grad­u­ate School of Child Devel­op­ment. He also held 40 hon­orary degrees from col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties across the coun­try. Not one. Not two. FORTY. In 2002, Pres­i­dent George W. Bush pre­sent­ed Mr. Rogers with the high­est civil­ian hon­or in the coun­try, the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom, for a career encour­ag­ing the well-being of chil­dren through lessons of kind­ness, com­pas­sion, and learn­ing. He passed away in 2003 at the age of 74, leav­ing behind his wife, Joan­ne, of more than 50 years, two sons, and mil­lions of chil­dren whose child­hoods wouldn’t have been as mag­i­cal with­out him.

If for any rea­son you might want to vis­it Mr. Rogers’ “imag­i­nary” friends, includ­ing Daniel Striped Tiger and King Fri­day the Thir­teen­th (and ‘by any rea­son’ I mean ‘why wouldn’t you?’), they are housed in Pittsburgh’s Children’s Muse­um alongside one of his icon­ic sweaters (which his moth­er knit­ted), and his sneak­ers.

Mr. Rogers, thank you for being our neigh­bor, our men­tor, our friend. Hap­py birth­day, with love.

At Home With Mr. Rogers

Pitts­burghers, nos­tal­gia should be hit­ting you right in the feels, now, and you’re prob­a­bly think­ing ‘Man, I miss Mr. Rogers.’ He may not be around town any­more in per­son, but his spir­it is still alive. It’s always a lit­tle thrilling when a cus­tomer catch­es sight of one of Kards Unlimited’s Mr. Rogers prod­ucts and begins to regale me with a tale of meet­ing, din­ing, or actu­al­ly being a neigh­bor of the Rogers fam­i­ly.

For the rest of us, we can keep Mr. Rogers alive in our own house­holds with offi­cial­ly licensed Mr. Rogers gear. My favorite? Mis­ter Rogers Sweater Chang­ing Mug. Fea­tur­ing all of his most heart­warm­ing quotes, add a warm bev­er­age of choice, and his sweater changes between an icon­ic blue cardi­gan and yel­low cardi­gan. Some days, it’s the lit­tle things that make a per­son feel good, and this touch of mag­ic is a great way to start off the day on the right foot.

Some­times the world can seem like a scary place. Mr. Rogers always had a way of mak­ing his view­ers feel a lit­tle more coura­geous. He taught  us how to be gra­cious for what we have. He knew exact­ly what to say to make life a lit­tle eas­ier. Day to day, I wish there were more peo­ple like him, ready to give me a one-lin­er to help me through a chal­lenge, but he’s still there for me. When I need a boost of con­fi­dence before a meet­ing, I can pull out my Encour­agem­ints. The unbeat­able com­bo of fresh breath and an encour­ag­ing “Why? Because I like you!” calms the nerves. When I’m fac­ing a dead­line at school, noth­ing helps me take notes bet­ter than Mis­ter Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood sticky notes.

But the great­est gift we have from Mis­ter Fred Rogers will always be the words he left for us. When life gets a lit­tle com­pli­cat­ed, turn to any one of three vol­umes of Mis­ter Rogers wis­dom: Life’s Jour­ney Accord­ing to Mis­ter Rogers, The World Accord­ing to Mis­ter Rogers, and Many Ways to Say I Love You. The­se books prove that, though Mis­ter Rogers may be gone, he will always be our friend.


18 Feb

A [Star]Fleet of Fun on Flirting Day

Why thank you Neil deGrasse Tyson, you are out of this world, too.

Why thank you Neil deGrasse Tyson, you are out of this world, too.

Here at KU, the staff isn’t shy of flirt­ing. We flirt with cus­tomers, with each oth­er, and even with our­selves (OK, I can’t speak to the rest of the staff on that last one, but all I’m say­ing is that if you’ve nev­er looked your­self in the mir­ror and said aloud ‘my, my, someone’s look­ing adorably nerdy/damn sexy/pleasurably pleas­ant today,’ then you’re miss­ing out. Makes the soul feel good.) So Flirt­ing Day on Feb­ru­ary 18 should prob­a­bly be one of Kards’ offi­cial hol­i­days, behind May the Fourth Be With You Day, Pierogi and Taco Days, and, you know, actu­al hol­i­days.

Flirt­ing Day, or, alter­na­tive­ly, Flirt­ing Week if one needs more time for the flirtage, takes place each year in the third week of Feb­ru­ary as part of a post-Valentine’s week ded­i­cat­ed to cel­e­brat­ing sin­gle­hood. Oth­er days include Sin­gles Aware­ness Day and Per­fume Day. There’s not a whole lot of back­ground for this hol­i­day, but it’s pret­ty self-explana­to­ry. Find a per­son and have a good-natured, friend­ly, and most impor­tant­ly, not creepy flirt ses­sion.

Don’t know how to flirt? It’s cool, me nei­ther. (Have I brought up the fact that I’m a crazy cat lady way too many times while try­ing to woo a stranger? Yes. Yes, I have. And I will again and again and again because, well, you can’t teach an old cat new tricks.) How­ev­er, thanks to the inter­web, I have com­piled a list of some of the best nerdy pick­up lines to help you get your foot in the door. Once woo­ing is ini­ti­at­ed with the­se flaw­less lines,* you are free to flirt on, my friends.


For the sci­ence nerd:

Are you made of cop­per and tel­luri­um? Because you are CuTe.

Do you like sci­ence? Because I’ve got my ion you.

Do you have 11 pro­tons? Because you are Sodi­um fine!

For the music nerd:

I bet you and I could get into some seri­ous tre­ble togeth­er.

You must be a choir direc­tor, because you make my heart sing.

You had me at cel­lo.

 For the lit­er­ary nerd:

Charles Dick­ens may have given you Great Expec­ta­tions, but I can meet them.

I believe in The Impor­tance of Being Earnest, so I’m just going to say it: I’m Wilde about you.

I like books, you like books, why don’t we start writ­ing the sto­ry of us?

If it was 1984, and I was Big Broth­er, I’d only watch you.

For the com­put­er nerd:

You must be wi-fi, because I feel a con­nec­tion here.

Is your name Google? ‘Cause you’re every­thing I’ve been search­ing for.

Ros­es are #ff0000, vio­lets are #0000ff, all my base are belong to you.

For the video game nerd:

Are you wear­ing Pega­sus Boots? Because you’ve been run­ning through my mind all day. (Zel­da)

Are you a pikachu? Because you are shock­ing­ly beau­ti­ful. (Poke­mon)

I think some­thing is wrong with my auto-aim. I can’t take my eyes off you. (Halo)

Will you be my Final Fan­ta­sy? (Not explain­ing this one. If you don’t get it, you prob­a­bly shouldn’t use it.)

For the fan­dom nerd:

I’ve fal­l­en hard­er for you than Bran Stark. (Game of Thrones)

You’re the Obi-Wan for me. (Star Wars)

The fires of Mount Doom aren’t near­ly as hot as you. (Lord of the Rings)

Your phaser’s on kill, but you’re stun­ning me. (Star Trek)

You must play Quid­ditch. I know a Keep­er when I see one. (Har­ry Pot­ter)

You must be an angel because your beau­ty is blind­ing. (Super­nat­u­ral)

Are you a weep­ing angel? Because I can’t take my eyes off you. (Dr. Who)


All right, you are ready to head out on your flirt­ing adven­ture. Hap­py Flirt­ing Day!

*Pick­up lines have not been per­son­al­ly test­ed on humans, only my cat, who seemed to appre­ci­ate them. Or may­be she was purring at the bowl of food in my hand. Either way, results not guar­an­teed.

10 Feb

Get Lit This Valentine’s: 10 Literary Gifts For Your Book Nerd!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and flow­ers would be a great gift if your Valen­tine didn’t prefer the smell of a new book over a fresh rose. This Valentine’s Day, make an evening of the things your favorite book nerd loves most with a lit­er­ary-themed night in. Here are some of the roman­tic, fun­ny, and fun book­ish gifts avail­able at Kards Unlim­it­ed to help you plan the night!

1. Out of Print T-Shirts

Set the tone for the evening with lit­er­ary shirts from Out of Print! Throw on match­ing Where the Wild Things Are tees before show­ing off your wild sides (ahem). The Alice in Won­der­land design (pic­tured) will lead the way down the rab­bit hole of love (ahem). Com­fort­able enough for sleep­wear, trendy enough for day­wear, your Valen­tine won’t be able to get enough of their shirt.

2. Bookish Jewelry

Gift the one you love (or real­ly real­ly like) book-themed acces­sories to fin­ish the look. Voz cuffs and pen­dants are per­fect for a Valen­tine-on-a-bud­get. Designed for pop cul­ture and lit­er­ary buffs, designs range from the bold (Books are sexy”) to the roman­tic (“You have bewitched me body and soul”).

Kathy Brans­field Neck­laces are hand-stamped neck­laces will sweep your sweet off her feet. Made of ster­ling sil­ver with gold-plat­ed brass over­lays, roman­tic themes include Tennyson’s icon­ic quote, “If I had a flow­er for every time I thought of you I could walk through my gar­den forever.” Cue the swoon. Here are some oth­ers, includ­ing for your bestie; don’t for­get Galentine’s Day is the Mon­day before Valentine’s Day!

3. Get Cookin’

Once you’re both dressed for the occa­sion, warm things up in the kitchen with din­ner from a lit-inspired cook­book. From the play­ful 50 Shades of Chick­en to cook­books inspired by the Out­lander and True Blood series, we’ve got plen­ty of cheeky, sexy, and deli­cious options to choose from. Make the meal solo or turn it into a team adven­ture; some­times two cooks are more fun than one!

4. Harry Potter Games

Ron and Hermione. Har­ry and Gin­ny. Always. Any­one who says the Har­ry Pot­ter series isn’t roman­tic is a dirty filthy liar. While the 32nd shade of chick­en is in the oven, have some light­heart­ed game time with Har­ry Pot­ter Triv­ial Pur­suit, Hog­warts Bat­tle, or Har­ry Pot­ter Clue. I’m sure there are ways to make it sexy, if that’s your kind of thing. Remem­ber, Gryffind­ors, this is Valentine’s Day, you don’t have to win.

5. Temporary Tattoos

Now that you’re all roman­tic over HP, you’ve prob­a­bly real­ized you’re soul­mates. But before you go get match­ing Always tat­toos on your first Valentine’s togeth­er, try some­thing a lit­tle less per­ma­nent. Go the sen­si­ble, roman­tic route with a set of Jane Austen tat­toos, or the dark but just as fun Edgar Allen Poe set. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is kind of Valen­ti­nes-y, right? I mean, it’s got a heart.

6. Coloring Books

All right, the Raven­claw won Triv­ial Pur­suit in five min­utes flat and tem­po­rary tat­toos are now plas­tered over arms, legs, faces, and the dog, but there are still fif­teen min­utes before din­ner is ready. What to do? Let your love relax and col­or pic­tures from their favorite books while you set the table. Whether col­or­ing siz­zling sce­nes from Out­lander and Game of Thrones, or re-liv­ing child­hood with The Lit­tle Prince, Lit­tle House on the Prairie, or Har­ry Pot­ter, col­or­ing books are all the rage right now for a rea­son.

7. Poetry

What’s sweet­er than dessert? Poet­ry. All right, don’t skip dessert. That would be a bad choice on Valentine’s, but cer­tain­ly add to the sweet­ness with some poet­ry recita­tion. Not a poet? We have you cov­ered. Love poems are always a great choice, but if you’re look­ing for some­thing for year-round, we also offer themed books of poet­ry cov­er­ing just about every­thing, includ­ing pets and ani­mals, music and the blues, mar­riage, par­ent­hood, soli­tude, and even a book of erotic poems. Take your pick, it’s hard to go wrong.

8. North Ave Candles

Time to get cozy before the evening’s main event: read­ing! (What’s bet­ter?) Pull out the plush­est blan­kets and add some ambiance with a North Ave Can­dle. Heat things up with a Fahren­heit 451 inspired can­dle, which smells of smoked pine and parch­ment, or play some jazz and light a gin, juniper, and daisy Great Gats­by can­dle. Offer­ing more than a dozen book-inspired scents, North Ave Can­dles are made right in Pitts­burgh!


9. Tea

Almost ready to cud­dle and read, but don’t for­get the best friend of book nerds: tea! Tea Forte’s heart-shaped gift sets will warm your Valentine’s heart, but any of the sam­plers are strong choic­es. Choco­late tea will sati­ate the sweet tooth, while teas for the heart will show you care. The Tea Forte Noir fla­vors are espe­cial­ly fun for after dark. Don’t know where to start? Our staff hap­pens to love tea, and we love to talk, so feel free to ask­for rec­om­men­da­tions.

10. Books

Now the best part of the evening, it’s time to read! We may be called Kards Unlim­it­ed, but we also have a pret­ty awe­some selec­tion of books. Bet­ter yet, we’ve com­piled a spe­cial sec­tion with our favorite love and romance books to make shop­ping for your Valen­tine even eas­ier. From Pride and Prej­u­dice to Pride and Prej­u­dice and Zom­bies, and tear-jerk­er Me Before You to Aziz Ansari’s comedic Mod­ern Romance, there’s some­thing for every taste and romance lev­el.

Come on in to Kards Unlim­it­ed for more great ideas to make your Valentine’s Day one for the his­to­ry books. And don’t for­get your Valentine’s Day card while you’re here!