Archive for the ‘Gifts’ Category

Dora Band-Aids for a Hurting World

Monday, December 21st, 2015

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When my daughter was small, I remember that each and every hurt required some type of medical treatment. We had a constant rotation of ice packs and tiny bandages, often for nonexistent wounds. It was as though the act of putting that Dora Band-Aid on her superficially scraped up knee was enough to close the floodgates of tears and make the world right again. She needed me to see her hurt, to echo how awful it was to be hurt, and then to show my efforts to repair it.

Last week I discovered that a family I had been working with, through a volunteer opportunity I am involved with, had fallen on some particularly hard times and had been living without things that I would consider basic human needs.  The gas in the home had been shut off, the stove was not in working order, medical needs couldn’t be addressed through their insurance, and there was not even a washer to care for their family’s clothing.

When you have a platform like this to work from, you can often make swift work and can create fast resolutions to problems, simply because of the large circle that comes with this type of job. In a matter of 24 hours, I found I could meet all of these basic needs for this family between our family’s resources and many, many generous givers that I reached out to who helped me close the gap through material and financial donations. If there is one thing I feel proud of, it is is the company I keep.

As I shared those gifts with this family this weekend  I had a flashback of being that mom sharing a Dora Band-Aid again- I was so unequipped. This wound was so beyond the reach of the tiny offering that I had.  I could see so very clearly that there were many other needs that were there and I knew that the gift I offered, while appreciated, was just a small bandage on a problem bigger than I could fill. 

I left my humble bandage for this wound, I echoed the hurt, and I hugged those people and gave what I could.

Those bandages though, those are mine to give out and sometimes I have a whole box at my disposal and sometimes I just have a couple to share that I can sprinkle around. This box is mine to do with what I choose, and yet,  I was surprised at some of the commentary that came from what others said about those bandages.

“Did they deserve them?”

“Were they working?”

“Why had they fallen on hard times in the first place?”

“So many people working the system….”

You have probably heard a few of these before, am I right?

Here’s the thing.

My family?

We worked the system. 

My husband lost his job for a year and we became part of the system that people refer to with that shake of their head.  We found ourselves unable to make ends meet, unable to find employment, and the seeker of any government gift that we could qualify for. My husband and I went without health insurance (a gamble that kept me up every night), we placed our son on a healthcare plan funded by the state, and we eagerly waited for those unemployment checks so we could do things like get groceries and pay our mortgage.

What helped us get through those times were those tiny bandages that so many giving and kind people shared with us. They knew they couldn’t heal the gaping wound we had…it would have been impossible!  Yet, they were happy to share the smaller bandages that made each of those dreary days in my life better.

They brought us meals, they watched our baby, they gave us gift cards to have nights out, they even bought a pizza for the volunteers who later had to move us out of our very own home that we could no longer afford.

I could not even have purchased that pizza for them as a thank you.

Our debt situation?

Well, we needed a full-body cast at that point, not a tiny bandage.

But those bandages made such a difference and I still reflect on the generosity of the people that got us through such a depressing time in my life. 

And now, I’m the lucky one who has a box of tiny bandages to help those in need.

The bandages are often the smallest gifts, but not only are they my gifts to give, but it is their gift to do what they need to do with it. I don’t worry about if that bandage is going to someone working hard enough or if they are deserving of my tiny bandages.

I know God will figure all of that out.

He has a way of sorting things out for me. 

I only hope that other people are sprinkling them in some of the same spots that I am so we can close the gap on those hurts in the world together. When cobbled together, incredible things happen like the small Christmas miracle I got to witness this weekend as we met these basic needs for a family I love.

As we close out another year here at MomAdvice, I hope you will find a way to share your gifts with others, whether they are big or small. Just as I did with my daughter,  I am acknowledging these hurts in the world today, I echo your hurts because I think about them too and pray for resolutions, and I share a tiny bandage with those of you who are hurting.

I am also hoping you are one of the lucky ones holding a box and you won’t forget to share a few Dora Band-Aids of your own, even if the wounds seem too big for such small offerings.

They all matter.

And so do you.

xoxo

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

Friday, December 18th, 2015

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3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

I’ve really enjoyed sharing some new holiday gift-giving strategies and traditions that are important to our family with you. Today I wanted to talk about a gift that I really struggle with… the gift card.

While practical in so many ways, I have found it difficult to make gift cards feel personal. I want people to always know that when I give them a gift card, it isn’t because I don’t care about them to shop, but only that I want them to treat themselves to something they really love.

I can tell you that I don’t know a single girlfriend, sister, or mother that would object to a shoe gift card. I may not know their shoe sizes to always shop for them personally, but I know that if I give them a gift card for shoes that they would be more than thrilled to peruse the shoe aisles for the perfect gift. Bonus points if that gift card accompanied a gift card to their favorite coffee shop so they could sip while browsing.

Today I wanted to share with you 3 ways I have created to make a gift card to Shoe Carnival more personal and make it truly stand out!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

(Shoes: Nicole Carleigh in Black)

Create a Snow Globe Jar

If you put anything in a jar, I think it instantly amplifies its level of awesomeness on any gift. Jars are very inexpensive gifts to give and this little snowy-filled scene only took a couple of minutes to pull together and requires zero craft skills.

Simply add a little faux snow on the bottom with whatever you might have in your craft supplies or purchase those delicious rolls of snow they have out with all of the snow villages this time of year. Place a little snow on the bottom, add an inexpensive ornament, and finish with a bottle brush tree. TADA!

With just a few moments you have created something really cute for their mantle out of items that they can use for their own holiday decorating or food storage. Best of all, tucked underneath that blanket of white is a gift card to do a little shoe shopping!

WINNING!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

 

Knit a Gift Card-igan

As you know, I am a knitter, so I always find fun ways to use my hobby for the holidays. This year, I stumbled upon this amazing little pattern for a Gift Card-igan and knitted this out of a little scrap yarn I had left over from another project. It is a perfectly gratifying project since it is so small in size and the pattern is easy enough to execute while watching holiday movies on the couch.

Whatever your craft skill set is, consider using it to create a unique gift card holder of your own. Sewing, embroidery, decoupage, crochet… there are so many fun ways to incorporate your own crafting skills to make a gift card holder that is unique and special. It adds that personal touch to any gift you give and showcases your talents in such a fun way!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

 

(Shoes: Crocs Cap Toe Rhinestone)

Add Our Free Holiday Sparkle

I’m all about the holiday sparkle from attire to the gifts I give. These Crocs Cap Toe Rhinestone shoes add that holiday touch I love with their shiny cap toes and rhinestone embellishment. Did I mention how comfy these are? They are the perfect shoe for any gathering because you can be on your feet for days without any discomfort! I found the same holds true for the Nicole Carleigh Boots I got, thanks to their low and wider heel.

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

Of course, sparkle can also be added to your gift and I wanted to share this fun printable that our designer, MJ from pars caeli, created just for you to add that personal touch to your gift card this year!

(scroll to the bottom for this freebie!)

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

 

Shoe Carnival happens to be running a Give 1, Gift 1 Gift Card promotion this week which is perfect timing with our gathering of packaging ideas. If you purchase a $50 gift card, you can receive a $10 bonus reward card that can be redeemed from 12/26-1/16, in-store only.

Be sure to cash in on this incredible promo and I hope you can use a few of our ideas for your gift-giving needs this year!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

FREEBIES Galore:

FREE Colorful Cute Shoes Fund Envelope

FREE B&W Cute Shoe Funds Envelope

 

Today I am giving away two $50 gift cards to two winners to add a little holiday sparkle from Shoe Carnival for those upcoming holiday festivities!  Follow the instructions below in our Rafflecopter widget to enter.  Good luck and happiest of holidays!

 

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Blind Date Book Club Exchange

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Blind Date Book Exchange from MomAdvice.com

As a minimalist, I really love to give and get gifts that I really would love and use which can be difficult when it comes to holiday exchanges. We all, I am sure, have went home with a White Elephant gift we really did not love or spent good money on exchanges where we have felt a little disappointed in what we received in exchange. It’s tricky to not look like a Scrooge when you want to opt out to save money.

Last month though, I got a little inspiration for an idea to host a book exchange for my fellow bookworms. I visited Asheville for a conference and saw my first Blind Date Book display in person at the book shop. After snapping a photo for Instagram, I started thinking what a fun idea it would be to have a Blind Book Book Exchange for the holidays with my book club. What would an evening look like where we all brought blind dates to share?

Last night we had our exchange and it was, honestly, one of the best exchanges I have been a part of.  Perhaps, a bit nerdy, I loved going home with a great book AND a whole slew of ideas for books I’d love to check out at the library. 

Blind Date Book Exchange from MomAdvice.com

What Are Blind Date Books?

If you haven’t seen a display before, they are books that are wrapped in paper and then they have words written on them that describe what the book is about. Displays can be found at many bookstores and I have even heard that libraries do this too.  You can illustrate the paper or just write words about what makes the book special. I love this Pinterest board that shows so many ideas for a fun blind date book display. As you can see, there are many interpretations.

As someone who truly judges books by their covers, this gives you a chance to think differently, perhaps, about a book you might not have picked up before. Since it is a blind date, you are taking a bit of a risk that the money you invest may or may not pay off so you want to choose wisely.

I purchased a book at the bookstore and it sounded just like something I would love.

Guess what? It was something I already loved very much. I loved it so much that it made our top ten books of 2015.

I was happy to pass it on to someone else and, honestly, if I loved it enough to put it on my top ten, I would have been happy to own it too.

Blind Date Book Exchange from MomAdvice.com

How Do You Do a Blind Date Book Exchange?

Of course, since I have never heard that anyone has done this before, I made up my very own rules. That means, if these rules don’t work for you, feel free to make your own! It’s your blind date, friends!

Tell Everyone to Bring a Book Wrapped In Paper- I encouraged everyone to bring a book that was special to them or that they would want to read themselves. You could pass down a book that you already owned and loved or purchase a book for the exchange. Have everyone wrap their books and then write their own descriptions about them. I have found that reviews on the backs of books offer a plethora of beautiful words to use.

Draw Numbers- Write down numbers equal to the amount of people participating and have everyone draw a number.

Select Your Books- Give people time to browse the descriptions before the exchange and then start going in order of the numbers drawn. Beginning with the person who has drawn #1,  have them select their book, read the description on the outside, and then open it.

Steal Away- Just like those White Elephant exchanges, the next person in line can steal the opened book, if they are wanting to read it, or they can draw from the book pile. We allowed two steals per book to keep it fun while still moving along.

Go Home With a New Book, But Keep The Exchange Going Strong- What a treat to go home with a new read! The best part is, if your book club meets regularly, you can bring the book back to the next book club meeting and share it again with your book club members. It creates a little lending library for your group with just a small investment.  I can’t take credit for that idea though, it was thought up by my fellow book club member, Kate! Smart girl!

What Book Did I Give?

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

GAVE: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

DESCRIPTION: Worldview Changer, America’s Mandela, A Voice to the Voiceless, Thrilling, Heroic Endeavors, Compelling, Hope for Humanity, Inspiration for Change

Nonfiction can be intimidating to fiction lovers so I wanted to share this one because it read like a legal thriller and completely changed my view on people in the prison system. I couldn’t put it down and I wanted someone to read it so I could talk about the injustice of so many.

What Did I Go Home With?

Looking for Alaska by John Green

GOT: Looking for Alaska by John Green

I am really excited to dig into this- have you read it? I’ve heard such good things. I think this is the only John Green book I haven’t read yet!

Blind Date Book Exchange

This was the best exchange I’ve ever been part of  and it’s not because I invented it.

Or maybe it is.

Who is to say?

Regardless, I hope it inspires you for a fun night with your own book clubs. We look forward to making this one an annual tradition and it made for a really fun evening talking about all of our favorite books. I look forward to cozying up with my book over the winter break and I don’t even have to return it back to the library- winning!

Want to be part of a book club? Join me over here for our first online book club happening in January. We are reading this one as our first selection and I am so excited!

Have you ever taken a blind date with a book? Tell me about it!

This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend what I love, I promise!

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Celebrating St. Nicholas Day (Giveaway with Shoe Carnival)

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

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How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

I am so excited to be partnering with Shoe Carnival again for the holidays. This month I will be sharing some of our family’s favorite holiday traditions with you, some gorgeous shoe options for outfitting your entire family, and some refreshing new ideas for personalizing gift cards for this holiday season. We will also be offering gift cards to share at the end of each of these posts to treat yourself or someone you love to a beautiful new pair of shoes!

To kick things off, I wanted to show you a fun idea to bookmark for next year. This year our family started a new tradition to celebrate St Nicholas Day which is observed in the states on December 6th.  Have you heard of St Nicholas Day? It is actually something I heard about recently from my friends and I thought it would be a sweet tradition this year to share with my kids.

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

 

What Is St. Nicholas Day?

St. Nicholas Day is a popular holiday for children, especially children in many parts of Europe, because it is another day of sharing gifts. What kid doesn’t love that?  In fact, in some European countries, St. Nicholas is celebrated with not only gift-giving, but it is so special that it is celebrated through parades and festivals too.

This holiday celebrating him is derived from Nicholas of Myra who officiated as a bishop in 4th century Greece. During his lifetime he was known, in particular, for his gift-giving. They say that he slipped coins in other people’s shoes, which accounts for many of today’s Christmas traditions that involve leaving gifts in shoes or boots today.

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

The Simplest of Treats

The presents need not be grand, but are simple gestures that build up that sweet anticipation for Christmas. Gifts like chocolates, chocolate coins, nuts, cookies, small trinket gifts, apples and oranges are just a few sweet treats that are perfect for tucking in your shoes on December 5th.

When I think of things to tuck in our shoes it reminds me of the cozy nights I spent reading with my daughter about how Christmas was celebrated in the Little House in the Big Woods. As Laura described her thrill over a peppermint stick and a small cake made with real sugar, I remember my daughter’s wide eyes that these small offerings were the only presents they received for their Christmas. Can you imagine anything that small feeling magical for our kids today? It’s that nostalgia of sweet treats that is so perfectly captured through this tradition and why I wanted to share it with my two. Less electronics and more magic, I say!

We are displaying our treats in two beautiful shoe options from Shoe Carnival. In Indiana, it is all about cozy footwear and these are two great selections that I found for the holiday season that would be great options to wrap under your Christmas tree this year.

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

The first option is the Tommy Hilfiger Charlie Duck Boots that I found for my son. We have outgrown the days of little kid’s boots after an enormous growth spurt this year and now my son & husband can share shoes.  Duck Boots have become my new obsession because they can be worn in the Fall, Winter, & Spring making them a really great option for keeping your feet warm & dry for several seasons unlike boots that are just dedicated to snow. I consider them to be a wise investment!  I have a pair for myself and my daughter has a beautiful pair too. They are stylish and practical which is why I am recommending this option this Winter.

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

The second pair is actually one that we featured here this summer for myself and fell in love with.  I discovered that they make Lil’ Bobs for kids with the same supportive memory foam sole that I love for my own feet. It’s like walking on a cloud and I wish everyone could feel that way! This trendy Bobs Pure Flex gives a nod to our pink obsession with the stripe detail on the sole, but reflects her big girl status in the print. If my daughter is anything like me, these will be doubling for slippers because they are so darn comfortable. You just can’t go wrong with this option and the modern prints available are beautiful and on trend.

I am so excited to share with you that this weekend is the Friends and Family Weekend which means that everything will be 30% off all weekend long so definitely take advantage of these discounts on top of their affordable pricing! Yay!

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

I hope that this tradition inspires you for next Christmas season and I hope these shoe options help you when selecting shoes for your kids!

Today I am giving away two $50 gift cards to two lucky families for a holiday shopping day at Shoe CarnivalFollow the instructions below in our Rafflecopter widget to enter.  Good luck and Happy Holidays!

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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DIY Trophy Wine Topper

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from MomAdvice.com

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from MomAdvice.com

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from MomAdvice.com

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from MomAdvice.com

Oh, you know I love a good hostess gift for the holidays! I am so excited to show off my DIY Wine Trophy Toppers I created for this gift-giving season. Our amazing designer, MJ from pars caeli, created these adorable free printable gift tags to customize your gift for the holidays. This is a 5-minute craft that is sure to get a good laugh from your favorite hostess and it couldn’t be easier.

While you are crafting these up, be sure to print out the trophy wife one for me- ha!

Head on over to the Kenmore blog to grab your free printable today- a holiday gift from us just for you!!

xo

The Big List of Handmade Gifts on Mom Advice

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Big List of Handmade Gifts on MomAdvice.com

Since you all know I’m a crafty girl, it’s probably not hard to figure out that handmade gifts are high on my list of great things to give and receive! Over the years on Mom Advice I have complied a pretty good size archive of crafts and ideas that make great gifts any time of year, can be made easily – and sometimes really quickly – and would be perfect for your holiday gifting needs. So I decided to put them all together in one big list (that I can easily add to in the future!) to make it easy for you to find them.

You’ll find something for everyone on this list – kids, teachers, friends, family, as well as DIY projects that work for every skill level- easy to a little more involved. But never difficult, I promise!

Here’s how I’m organizing the list (and the categories are in order, so if you’re looking for kid’s gift ideas, you’ll know to scroll to the bottom):

  • Crafty Gifts
  • Knitted Gifts
  • Food Gifts
  • Fashion & Pampering Gifts
  • Kids Gifts

Crafty Gifts

DIY Paint dipped spoons make a perfect hostess or Christmas gift!

Paint-Dipped Spoon Sets

DIY Personalized Stamped Pencils 

DIY Herb & Garden Markers

Easy DIY Terrarium

DIY Monogrammed Wine Glasses

DIY Slow cooker candles on MomAdvice

Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles

Vintage Book Page Art

Heart String Art on Wood (free template!)

Knitting/Crochet Needle Holder from Vintage Linens

Knitted Gifts

Knitted coffee cozies made a great, stash-busting gift!
Knitted Coffee Cozies

Knitted Sweater Coffee Cozies

Knitted Wine Bottle Hat & Scarf

2 Dishcloth Patterns: Circle & Chinese Waves

4 More Dishcloth Patterns (& Homemade Cleaners to pair them with)

2 Sweet Little Baby Blankets 

Make a pair of quick knitted boot cuffs tonight!
Quick & Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs

Knitted Dovetail Cowl

Ruffled Scarf with Sashay Yarn

Snowflake Scarf from Purl Soho

7 Easy Scarves & Cowls to Knit

Knitted Headbands

3 Scarves, 2 Fingerless Gloves & 1 Hat Pattern

Learn cabling and make a Headband ear warmer to keep or give away.
Cable Knitted Ear Warmers

Violet Ruffled Shawl

How to Make the Perfect Prayer Shawl

Knitted Gap-tastic Cowl

2 Kids Knitted Hat Patterns

Food Gifts

Make chocolate coffee covered spoons.

Chocolate Coffee Spoons

No-Bake Peppermint Cheesecakes in a Jar 

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

Sugar & Spice Nut Mix

Oreo Biscotti 

Gingerbread Biscotti

DIY grill seasonings plus free printable labels for gift giving!
Grilling Seasoning Mixes with Printable Labels

Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle

Drink Mixes: Creamy Hot Cocoa & Vanilla Chai Tea

Quick Breads with Printable Gift Tags

Vanilla Scented Granola

Homemade Mint-Truffle Coffee Creamer

Fashion & Pampering Gifts

How to make a blanket scarf - it's easy!
How to Make a Blanket Scarf 

DIY Fitbit Bracelet Tutorial

Easy Felt Fabric Brooch

T-Shirt Flowers

Rosette Bib Necklace Tutorial 

Add cute fabric flowers to slippers to make a personalized gift.

Slippers with DIY Interchangeable Fabric Flowers

Rolled Ribbon Rosette Hair Accessory

Sweet Ribbon Rings

DIY Mojito Bath Salts 

Peppermint Bath Salts & Oatmeal Cookie Bath Soak (+ Free Printable)

Kids Gifts

DIY Book Tote with free printable designs
Library Tote Bags with Free Printables

Knitted Princess Leia Hat

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint

Homemade Playdough

Kid’s Crafts: Painted Mugs

World’s Greatest Homemade Bubbles

 

See? That’s a lot! And you’ll want to pin this or bookmark it since I’ll be adding to it as I post more handmade gift ideas. Let’s get making!

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The MomAdvice Unique Holiday Gift Guide 2015: 20+ Ideas for Everyone On Your List

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

The MomAdvice Unique Holiday Gift Guide 2015: 20+ Ideas for Everyone On Your List

Each year I look forward to sharing a few fun gifts to add to your holiday wish list. This year we added a new weekly feature called It’s the 3 Little Things where you will find loads of recommendations for things that I love, but I still wanted to honor our annual list for you. Today’s list includes a few I have shared before and lots of new things that I think you will love. My promise to you is that I only share gifts that I believe will add value to your home and life, not more items to junk it up. There are gifts at all price points so I hope you find a few gift ideas that will inspire you for the giving season!

Puffin In Bloom Collection

Puffin In Bloom Collection

I have been coveting these Puffin reissued classics for our family’s bookcase for so long now that I am adding these to my Christmas wish list this year. Little Women &  A Little Princess were two of my favorite books as a child and I would love to share this classic set with my family and dive in with these with my daughter. ($45)

christmas-gift-guide-2015-7

Adele- 25

It is killing me to wait on purchasing this one, but Christmas is just around the corner and I would love to have Adele’s 25 album on vinyl for our collection.  Although Hello is being way too overplayed on the radio right now,  I still can’t get enough of this lady and know that this would be an incredible addition to our collection. Following closely behind it on my vinyl wish list is the 500 Days of Summer album since that has become one of my favorite little films. ($22.99)

Ticket To Ride

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is our ALL TIME favorite game in the world to play and share with friends. Players collect train cards that enable them to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who can fulfill their Destination Tickets by connecting two distant cities, and to the player who builds the longest continuous railway. For 2 to 5 players this one is recommended for ages eight and older. Once you have the game, I highly recommend adding a couple of expansion packs on it.  The first one we added was the 1910 expansion ($19.99)  because the cards are really tiny in the board game and these give you the full-size cards. To really create havoc on your board though, we love the Alvin & Dexter expansion pack. ($39.99)

christmas-gift-guide-2015-2

Nikibiki Seamless Tops

I am obsessed  with these Nikibiki seamless layers to go underneath my layers in the winter. They are long enough to cover my rear, don’t add a lot of bulk under my sweaters, and they keep me cozy. If you are local, check out Ali on the Boulevard to snag a few and support a local business! If you aren’t, you can find all the colors on Overstock. These are made in the US and are a one size fits most item. ($19.99)

UGG Ansley Slippers

UGG Ansley Slippers

This past year, I found a pair of brand new UGG slippers on eBay and I wear them every single day without fail. Quit throwing out cheap slippers and invest in good slippers- it is a gift that keeps on giving.  As a gift to my husband, I got him this pair too and now we are both super cozy this winter. These UGG Ansley Slippers look delightfully cozy and I love all the colors they come in. If you are already a proud UGG slippers owner, a fresh pair of inserts makes a lovely stocking stuffer. ($99.95)

christmas-gift-guide-2015

Should I Wash My Hair Today? Flowchart Print

I hate washing my hair so this Should I Wash My Hair Today? Flowchart is one of the first pieces of art I picked out for our bathroom. It makes me laugh when I see it and is always enjoyed by the guests in our home. Poor hygiene always makes for a great ice breaker with new friends, doesn’t it?  Do you have a hair washing problem? Consider this print from ChipperThings for a spot on your bathroom wall! ($20)

kamik-porto

Kamik Porto Boots

I have been coveting the lace-up furry boots for our Indiana winters that so many of my friends own. Kamik sent me these Porto boots & my daughter received an adorable pair of Girl’s Solstice boots to sample this winter and this helped quiet my urge to spend a lot more on the Sorel boots I have been eyeing. These Kamik Porto boots are really cozy and well constructed to keep your feet toasty while still looking stylish. I have never had a really good pair of snow boots and always wished I did when playing outside with my kids or for our sledding days. I am excited to break these in with my kids and tackle some hill. Half the price of Sorels and just as cute!   If you are in the market for these, I recommend sizing up one size for the perfect fit.  ($107.96)

christmas-gift-guide-2015-4

Janet Hill ANYTHING

Janet Hill is a Clark favorite and I dream of adding one of her original oil paintings to our walls. The English Major was a print that I asked for last year for Christmas and is one of my favorites in our home. It would be perfect for a little girl’s room too!  My Janet Hill wish list is LONG (this one is on my list right now!). We have 7 of her prints in our home and it is never enough. I dare you to look at her art and not find something that speaks to you! ($18)

Carcassonne

Carcassonne

I purchased Carcassonne after playing it at Secret Door Games and we have already played it three more times this week.  This is one of those rare games that can be played with up to five people (yay for families with three kids, am I right?)  Basically, the game board is a medieval landscape built by the players as the game progresses. The game itself is not complex (although they do have a junior edition), but it is more the point system and your own strategies they make it complex and interesting. It reminds me of a combo of Blokus & Ticket to Ride, but medieval. Building roads, castles, and land has now become a highly addictive game in our house. We watched this video the first time to get the hang of it and now we can’t stop playing! Locals can find this at Secret Door Games. ($23.36)

Skin Authority Cleansing Brush

Skin Authority Cleansing System

I have tons of friends that swear by these facial brushes for helping reduce breakouts and keeping their skin looking fresh. I am a newer convert, but am already seeing great benefits with this Skin Authority Cleansing System for my sensitive skin. I liked the price tag on this system and appreciate that it is battery powered since we have a tiny bathroom and minimal outlets for charging. This would make a great stocking stuffer for a teen girl in your home! ($59.00)

Coobie Bras

Coobie Bras

Looking for a bra that is the equivalent of your favorite yoga pants. Let me introduce you to the Coobie Bra.  There are no wire, no hooks, no clasps, and these are perfectly lightly padded. I mean, what more could a girl ask for?  It comes in the plain version  or you can get ones with a lace detail if you prefer a lacy cami look. They are intended to fit women from a 32A to 36D, but they also make a full-size version for  just a few dollars extra if you need a little more support. This is another great gift for a teen, yourself, or for your bestie! ($20)

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove 

If you are looking for a book that would be perfect for anyone (your mom, your grandma, your best friend, your husband, your father,  ANYONE), I must recommend, A Man Called Ove to share with them for the holidays. This is the most beautiful fictional book on aging that I have ever read. It really served as a reminder to me how we all have things that happen to us that shape us as we get older and how we often neglect to listen to those layered stories of our elders. I laughed and cried over this sweet story of Ove & the stray cat that claimed him. The touching story of his beautiful bride and the difficulties of seeing your friends age and forget you just really pulled at my heartstrings. Beautifully written supporting characters in the neighborhood just brought the whole story together for me and rounded out the beauty of finding “home.”(Hardcover, $18.74)

hazel and ruby knitted boot cuff

Holiday Knitted Boot Cuffs Crafternoon Kit

I love putting  my own products in my gift guides- ha!  If you do have a crafter in your family though, they will love my Holiday Knitted Boot Cuffs Kit that I created with Hazel & Ruby. The kit comes with a recipe card to walk you through your knitting a pair of boot cuffs as well as a code on that back that you scan to access a video tutorial. No need to understand double-pointed needles with this one since the kit provides needles that let you work this one just on smaller circulars.  This would be a fun gift for a tween, teen, or perfect girlfriend gift for them to craft or you could make the set and give it as a gift for a non-crafter. ($14.99)

Harry Potter Illustrated

Harry Potter Illustrated

Jim Kay is going to be illustrating the entire Harry Potter series and the first colorful book is the Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone in this newly illustrated series. This first one had over a hundred illustrations, but each illustration is like a million illustrations because of his incredible detail. Watch this piece on BBC to get a peek at his technique and artistry- it is jaw-droppingly beautiful! What is more impressive is that he is putting his own interpretation on each of these characters which I would think is one of the biggest challenges since the movie versions are so beloved.  You will be proud to add this to your library. Amazon seems to have trouble keeping this one on the shelves so I’m linking to Target to grab it! ($26.48)

Our Q&A

Our Q&A 3-Year Journal for 2 People

If strengthening your marriage is something you want to work on, this Q&A journal is a great way to bond with your spouse especially in busy seasons of your life. Each day there is a writing prompt like, “What feels vitally important right now,” or “Do you have enough independence,” for example. On one page, there is room for three years that gives each person the opportunity to write a line or two to answer the question. Each year, you answer the same question so you begin to see how your answers have changed each year. We have this on our bed and I move it to his side after I fill it out. I look forward so much to reading his responses and it has been a good way to begin talking about things that we didn’t even know were important to each other. ($12.00)

Tapple

Tapple

Tapple is a game that our whole family loves and every family member could play.  The object of the game is very simple and there aren’t a lot of rules.  There are a set of cards that tell you a topic like, “Pizza Toppings” or “Animals at the Zoo.” You start the timer and then you try to think of a word that starts with each available letter on the game board that fits under that category. If you can’t get it under the allotted time, you are out, and play continues with the remaining players. The kids absolutely loved this and really loved making up their own categories (an option available on the cards) to create their own game like, “Words to Describe Our Cat Lulu,” or “What Mom Is Like Before Her Coffee” (hardy-har-har!). We love this one! ($13.19)

bucky

Bucky

For the person who has everything, may I present to you Bucky. We love this guy so much in our house that my husband got one for his office too. They come in a flat package and you assemble them much like you would a very beginner LEGO set. This cardboard guy is a statement piece in any room and comes plain or patterned. So beautifully made that it is a treat to put him together, he is always a great conversation piece in our house. Nerdy glasses and accessories you might want to add to him are all sold separately. ($55 for the large size)

bhg-sherpa-comforter-review-bedding-2

Sherpa Comforters

If you are looking for a gift that will keep your recipient cozy all winter long, these sherpa comforters are my family’s new favorite thing. We have one on every single bed after I ordered one for my post that I was writing for BHG at Walmart. It’s the perfect blanket- warm, but not too warm, velvety on one side, furry on the other, and a surprisingly lightweight warm layer. These do make it a difficult bed to leave, but a delight to stay in on the weekends. ($38.96$43.97, depending on your bed size)

11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/63

Have a history nut to buy for? Give them 11/22/63 right now so they can wait with bated breath for the Hulu series to come out. King offers up the hypothetical scenario, if you could change something in history, would you alter it? Jake Epping discovers a secret portal to 1958 that he uses to time travel in the back pantry of a restaurant.  The goal? See if he can alter the JFK assassination, killing Lee Oswald Harvey before he kills JFK. Hang on tight, this is a true adventure!  (Hardcover, $24.50)

Happy Socks

Happy Socks

My husband has a million pairs of Happy Socks and they have become a go-to gift for him for the holidays from everyone in our family.  I love the trend of wildly patterned socks for men and I also  love seeing these peeking out from his normally neutral attire. For the guy who has everything, I present Happy Socks. ($12.00)

What If? by Randall Munroe

What If?

What If? is the book I am recommending for the boys in your life! Munroe explores the absolute craziest, “what if” scenarios and comes up with a truly scientific explanation of the outcome for each of them. It is accompanied by hilarious drawings of what might occur in these scenarios, making it a perfect book for tween & teen boys who loved the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. (Hardcover, $14.40)

Coloring Flower Mandalas

Adult Coloring Books

I love the stress relieving trend of adult coloring books and my friend Wendy has a beautiful mandalas collection she has designed that I am hoping to give as gifts this year. I plan to pair one of these with beautiful colored pencils for gift-giving. This would also make a great teen or tween gift for the holidays! ($9)

I hope this little list helps as you plan your holiday shopping. You can also find a great list of 54 handmade gifts you can make for those special people in your life!  Anything from my list on your wish list? Share below!! xo

This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend what I love though! Promise! 

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Fall Wreaths That Wow

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Fall Wreaths That Wow from MomAdvice.com

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner!  Of course, the first thing our guests see when they pull up to our house is our front door adorned with a festive wreath for the occasion. I have made a lot of wreaths over the years. In fact, I used to shadow a silk florist at one of my first jobs and she taught me so much about creating beautiful wreaths.

Today I want to talk about dressing up a doorway, mirror, window, wall, or frame in your house with a fall wreath that really wows. There is just something so great about a well-dressed door. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to create a beautiful wreath and I have a stunning collection to share with you today of unexpected ways to decorate.

Head on over to the Goodwill Tips blog to find some great ideas for creating beautiful fall wreaths today!

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How to Make a Homeless Care Package (Free Printable Supplies List)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Note: From November 2012, this is one of the articles I’m most proud of on Mom Advice, and I’m SO happy that it’s also one of the most pinned, making me proud of YOU. I’m republishing it for our November Focus on Giving M Challenge with the hopes it will see a whole new group of people who will be inspired to give!

One thing that you may not know about our family is that we are really passionate about caring for the homeless. Creating a homeless care package can be one fantastic way that your entire family can be involved in caring for the homeless. Today we want to provide a checklist of supplies for the homeless, a local resources sheet you can print out (if you are in our area), and some tips for involving the whole family in this project.

This month Walmart let me choose a project that I was passionate about for the holidays and showcase how families could recreate it in their own homes. As I always disclose, I am compensated for my writing, BUT instead of accepting the compensation, we invested what I would have earned along with the gift card budget Walmart gave me to give back to the homeless in our community. 

These homeless care packages can be prepared for your local homeless shelters or kept tucked away in the trunk of your car for those you may see on the street looking for your help. I love feeling armed in these situations and these kits are a simple way to show how much you care.

I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t tell you that my husband inspires me every day with his giving heart. Last winter, he was coming home late from work because he would see people in need and run to stores to get them supplies and gift cards.

That is his heart.

That is why I love him.

If there is one thing I firmly believe in, it is that giving should be a family affair. We have to lead our children by our example. I want my children to remember that what made our family special is that we always gave with our whole hearts.  

My kids assisted in every aspect of this project. My son came with me and did the number crunching on a good old-fashioned calculator, my daughter helped sort and organize all of the items we bought, and both kids helped fill the bags with all of the necessary items.

Here Are My 3 Essential Elements to a Great Homeless Care Package

Feed Their Needs- One of the greatest gifts you can give to someone who is homeless is personal hygiene items and food to nourish their bodies. Begin by picking up items that will satisfy this area in their life first. Simple items like shampoo, a razor, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a bar of soap, and tissues are great items to keep on hand.

Food like granola bars, crackers with peanut butter, trail mixes, dried fruits, and a bottle of water are also great items to tuck into your bags. If you have the funds, small denominator gift cards (we did $5 Walmart gift cards) can also be great to give so that they can pick up a meal or item(s) they might need.

Provide Warmth- We live in Indiana and the winters here are brutal. I can’t imagine how cold it would be to stand on the streets without the proper items I need for warmth. Add items like thermal boot socks, gloves, scarves, and hats to your gift bags. Items like these may seem out of your financial reach, but I found all of these at the dollar store and the sets of gloves were a mere $.50 each.

Feed Their Souls- I am sure it goes without saying, but feeding someone’s soul is just as important as feeding their needs. You can feed their souls in a variety of ways depending on your families beliefs and resources. We created a local resources list (available for local residents to download) that they can tap into for further resources in our town. A note that lets them know that they are on your prayer list, a note of encouragement by your children, or a scripture that you find comforting can also be excellent additions.

God has been so good to us, but 10 years ago we were in a very different place than where we are now.  My husband was unemployed for almost an entire year, our financial situation was a house of cards, and my heart was in a bad place. Although I don’t like to admit it, I wondered what my purpose on this earth even was. I never have forgotten that dark place and it is why we still try to be so careful with the resources we have been given and why I have such a tender place in my heart for those who are struggling.

Being careful though doesn’t mean that you can’t be a giver. There are fantastic ways to give, both big and small, around the holidays. Be sure to check our list of ten painless ways to give back to charities to help you get started.  I call these smaller ways to give the, “scraps of life giving.”  I have talked a lot about that with my partnership with Pure Charity as well! 

We want to help you give back to your community! Here are some resources to do just that!

Grab our Free Homeless Supply Checklist for your your care packages. Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

Grab our Local Resources List for your care packages (if you don’t live in Michiana, you can use this as a template for your own sheet)!  Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

 

How do you give back in your community? How do you teach your kids to be givers?

 

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. For this project, all compensation was invested in aiding our area homeless.  My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

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How To: Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles

Friday, November 6th, 2015

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles from MomAdvice.com.

Gift-giving season is upon us and I am always looking for great gifts that don’t cost a lot, can be made in bulk, and will actually be used! Do you remember when we made Citronella Candles in our slow cooker for thoughtful hostess gifts for the cookout season? I am so excited to show you, yet again, how to make candles in your slow cooker and this time we are making easy Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles for the holidays.

As a Pumpkin Spice everything addict, these are full of my favorite holiday scent and can be made with just a few purchases from your craft store and your slow cooker! I just want to warn you how good your house is going to smell so GET READY!

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles from MomAdvice.com.

Head on over to the Kenmore Blog to get the scoop on how to make these beautiful candles for the perfect hostess gift for the holidays!

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