Archive for the ‘Gifts’ Category

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)


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)


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)


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 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)



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)



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 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)



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)


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


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! 

Pin It

Fall Wreaths That Wow

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Fall Wreaths That Wow from

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!

Pin It

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.

Pin It

How To: Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles

Friday, November 6th, 2015

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles from

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

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!

Pin It

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs With Hazel & Ruby

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs from

Friends, I could not be more excited today to share with you my Knitted Boot Cuff Kit that I have created with Hazel & Ruby for their Holiday Crafternoon line that is available in Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft stores nationwide. It was such a great challenge for me as a crafter to design a kit like this and I have learned so much (and have a new appreciation for) about how people create these kits for the stores.

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs from

What is Crafternoon?

The purpose of these kits is to be able to create a great gift in an afternoon for the holidays. In this kit, we have lovingly prepared everything you need to create a beautiful set of boot cuffs from lace to yarn to buttons. Instead of you spending time hunting down patterns, materials, or trying to muddle through a pattern alone, Crafternoon puts it all together to you in one easy-to-use package! Check out the video above to see what the fuss is all about!

Why I Know You Will Love This Kit

The thing that I believe really sells this kit though is a set of bamboo needles that you can use over and over again for knitting small projects in the round without the need for double-pointed needles. This particular set is typically not available in most craft and yarn stores. In fact, I have had to order my sets overseas and they cost about the price of this entire kit once I factored in shipping and the expense of the needles. This set includes my favorite needles and once you have them, you can use this pattern over and over again, adding your own unique and beautiful details to these cuffs.

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs from

Will This Pattern Challenge Me?

I really hope so! I didn’t want to just a simple knitted pattern, although you can definitely do that with the materials provided too. I wanted to create a pattern that would help you learn a little bit of the lace technique (without that super thin yarn!), but that there are enough basic stitches that you could zone out a bit with a Netflix binge and just enough that will hold your interest and create beauty within the cuff.

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs from

If you have never knit in the round before, these needles make it possible.  Crystal, from Money Saving Mom, shared on her Instagram feed her pride of knitting in the round for the first time thanks to this little kit. I couldn’t have been prouder of her and I know that you can do it too!

The kit not only includes step-by-step instructions, but you can also access a video where I walk you through every step of the way through this process and be accessed with the QR code on the back of your packaging or you can just watch it above! Doesn’t it feel like we are crafting together?

Amy Allen Clark from

Now hurry up and order a kit so we can knit together or order one for a holiday gift for a favorite crafter in your life. You can also pick a kit up at Jo-Ann that you can use this weeks 30% of total purchase on Wednesday AND of course they always have a 40% off coupon!


Have fun blog-hopping through all of the beautiful Crafternoon projects! Lolly Jane has a beautiful Christmas Art Kit that she would love to share with you so swing by to see her Crafternoon project.  Be sure to check out the entire Crafternoon line from Hazel & Ruby for all of your gifting needs!



Great Teacher Gifts on Small Budgets

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Great Teacher Gifts on Small Budgets from

I am a firm believer that it’s a great idea to start your year off right with a little treat for your teachers. When my kids were small and I was tired, the gestures were small like a shiny apple on the first day and a handwritten note of thanks. Through the years, I try to do grander gestures like knitted cozies and cakes made from school materials.
When talking to teachers about what gifts they love though, I am told that the act of thankfulness can be a rarity in this harried world and that is why even something as small as a note to say thanks can mean so much.
Today I want to talk about small gestures that don’t cost a lot, but could mean a lot to a teacher. These are budget-minded projects created with a few items you can find at your local Goodwill store!

Read more over on the Goodwill Tips blog this morning!

Pin It

How to Make DIY Mojito Bath Salts

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

What better way to focus on beauty than with a pampering bath salts recipe? Let’s celebrate this M Challenge repost of an earlier DIY project by making up a batch and use it today in a relaxing bath – preferably with a glass of wine!

How to Make Mojito Bath Salts

How to Make Mojito Bath Salts

These Mojito bath salts incorporate everything we love in a delicious mojito drink, with lots of fresh lime and mint. To really increase the mint component in these, we are adding a little mint essential oil to the mix. It’s easy to mix up an easy batch of Mojito Bath Salts that you can create with just a few items from your local grocer and craft store and makes a great addition to your beauty routine as well as a welcome handmade gift for the women in your life!

DIY Mojito Bath Salts

Supplies Needed

4 cups of Epsom Salt
2 limes, zest & juice
5-8 drops of mint essential oils (you can add more or less, depending on your preference)
2-4 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
Soap colorant in green (optional)
Glass Container or Jar

How to Make MojitoBath Salts

Have you ever made your own bath salts? It’s the kind of gift (or just for you!) that sounds really impressive, but you don’t have to have any craft skills at all to create it.

Epsom salts are the key ingredient in these and can be found at your local grocer or drugstore.  The wonders of Epsom salts have been well known for hundreds of years and are said to have beneficial properties that can soothe the body. Some of the countless health benefits include relaxing the nervous system, curing skin problems, soothing back pain and aching limbs, easing muscle strain, healing cuts, treating cold and congestion, and drawing toxins from the body.

The best part though is that these are inexpensive to buy and can be customized with your favorite ingredients, whether it be mint, lavender, eucalyptus, or any other essential oils that you might have on hand.

When purchasing these ingredients for this recipe, avoid any that have added ingredients or scents and just stick to the basic Epsom salts so the scents don’t overpower the essential oils that you are adding.

Easy-to-make Mojito Bath Salts

How to Make Mojito Bath Salts

1. Pour four cups of Epsom salts in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the zest and juice of two limes to your bowl.
3. Finely chop your mint and add these to your bowl.
4. Add 5-8 drops of essential oils. You can also add a small amount of green soap colorant, if you would like, to add a little color to your salts.
5. Mix the ingredients well and scoop into a glass jar.
6. Directions for use: Add ½ cup of Mojito Bath Salts to your bath.

Have you ever made bath salts before? What is your favorite recipe for these?

Pin It

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets)

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from


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

As you know, since starting my fashion capsule project, I have become a huge fan of thredUP. I buy everything there from stuff for my kids (especially those one-time use special occasion outfits), to my workout gear for the gym, to our outerwear, and beautiful clothing for a fraction of retail prices. Nine times out of ten, if you see us wearing something… it is now from thredUP thanks to the affordability and how great it feels to get a pretty polka dotted box on our step filled with secondhand goodness.

That is why it was such an honor that they thought of me for an exciting campaign they are launching to support teachers and their classrooms for the back-to-school season. In honor of the Raise a Hand for Teachers Program,  I wanted to share with you our nomination for a deserving teacher and also show you a fun craft you can create for back-to-school for a special teacher in YOUR life.

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from

My daughter had a phenomenal school year this year and it was all thanks to Mr. Domonkos! I got to come in weekly to volunteer in her classroom and be a quiet observer firsthand at the kind of teacher he was and how he ran his classroom which is always a treat as a mom. I can tell you that if I had a teacher half that fun, the learning would have never felt like work. His goals were to not only teach our children the basics, but to teach them LIFE SKILLS.

Instead of just showing them math problems on a white board, he actually gave each child different roles in the classroom (like the classroom librarian or the banker) and then they would receive a salary for their jobs. They paid rent on their desks or they could save to buy their “home” and receive a deed for paying off their space.  Each week they were given the opportunity to save their money or spend it on trinkets in the classroom. They weren’t just talking about math… they were learning to use math like they will when they become an adult.

When I asked my daughter what she said that he taught her, she said it was how to manage her money. As a frugal blogger and author of my own personal finance book, this is MUSIC TO MY EARS.

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from

The joy on my daughter’s face when she purchased her desk is the indescribable joy I hope to feel one day when we pay our own house off. 

From getting our kids signed up with Google accounts and having them design web pages to Sponge Bob theme music while writing about the sea to showing the kids YouTube segments to learn new math tricks, his classroom was filled with new and interactive ways to get our kids excited about learning.

I know there are many moments I didn’t get the opportunity to witness as well. The countless hours past his job spent preparing for class as well as those moments needed to stay after to help kids who are struggling. I am sure there were many moments sacrificed from his own family to teach our children…and we are so grateful.

The hiccuping sobs as she got off her bus on the last day of school were also indescribable as a mom. They were because of the absence of her amazing teacher and seeing him each day. 

That has never happened before. The adoration was very real.

Do you want to put a vote in for Mr. Domonkos? We would love your support of this phenomenal teacher!

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from

Do you have a special teacher in your life? You can nominate them for a cash prize through their Raise a Hand for Teachers Program (#raiseahand) today! has partnered with to recognize and thank teachers for their hard work and the positive impact they make each day on our children’s lives. Why is thredUP thanking teachers? For starters, they know schools are super important to their customers. And, they discovered that 1 in 3 teachers are actually buying clothes for students (along with  school supplies) with money from their own pockets
. I have no doubt our favorite teacher has been doing this too which is why we want to nominate him for this prize today!
You can nominate your favorite teacher anytime between July 15 – August 23. Three teachers each win $2,500 for classroom supplies and $500 to thredUP. 50 runner-up winners receive $100 to thredUP.  How incredible is this? Today we nominate Mr. Domonkos for this award and we want you to help him win as well as nominate a worthy teacher of your own!  Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 8 (following Labor Day weekend)! 
Be sure to check out thredUP for ALL your back-to-school needs. It’s a goldmine for families on a budget especially if your children have become brand-conscious or if you look for brands with longevity and that can handle your kid’s daily abuse. They have all my favorite brands including GapKids, Janie and Jack, Lilly Pulitzer, Mini Boden, Zara Kids and more! The best part is that the you save up to 90% off retail, so you don’t have to wait for the back-to-school sales to start to save a ton of money.

To support this fun campaign (and help with the school supplies problem that teachers face), we have crafted up the cutest Felted Flower Dry Erase Marker Bouquet that you can share with a teacher in your life. These felt flowers are so easy to create that even your child can make these (with a little assistance with the hot glue gun). Let’s get started!

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from

Supplies Needed

Package of Dry Erase Markers
Felt (can match the colors in your dry erase markers)
Hot Glue Gun & Glue Sticks
Jar for Storage (optional)
Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from

Directions to Make Felted Flowers

Begin by cutting a wavy circle out of your felt. The bigger the circle, the bigger the flower, the smaller the circle, the smaller the flower. If you want them all the same size, use the first one as your template for your other flowers.
Start cutting into the circle in a spiral motion. Around and around you go with your scissors until you get to the center. Leave the little circle at the end of your spiral intact.
It should look like this long piece of twirly felt (as we have pictured above). It will not be perfect.  Just remember that you can trim and angle everything the way you want it when you start creating your flower. It will look beautiful!
Starting with the end where you begin cutting, roll the felt back up. Keep wrapping and wrapping until you get to that little circle at the end. You can hot glue the felt as you go, but I found that the felt flower holds together well if you wrap it tightly enough.  Feel free to trim if you have any bits of felt sticking out or not laying as nicely as you like.
Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from
After you have wrapped your rose up, dab hot glue on the back and secure the little end flap of the flower to the base.
Apply hot glue around the end of the dry erase marker (make sure you are getting around the exterior and not into the base of the marker. Secure your felt flower to the dry erase marker, holding it into place until it feels secure.
Repeat the process with the other dry erase markers until you have a bouquet! Place into a jar or tie a few with twine and give your teacher a bouquet they can use for back-to-school!
Don’t forget to Raise a Hand for a Teachers today with thredUP! We hope we have inspired you to nominate someone special and to create a fun gift for them as a thank you for all their hard work!

Looking for more great teacher gifts? Check out this round-up of 19 Awesome Ways to Show Teacher Appreciation! Yay!

*This post is sponsored by thredUP. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
Pin It

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from

As my kids get older, we have found that they need and want less and less.  We have also found that we desire less clutter and more moments with our kids so my husband and I hatched up a Choose Your Own Adventure gift for the holidays this year that we gave them in lieu of gifts.

Do you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? They were my favorite when I was a kid because each time you read a book, you could make a choice that would take you down a different path. I think I reread this one a million times, returning the well-worn pages back to the library, only to to check it out again.

That idea of choosing your own adventures still lives on and I decided that this year, our family would make travel a top priority. I want my children to have big adventures and see the world so at Christmas, we gave them the unique opportunity to, truly, choose their own summer adventure with us as a family.

I tell you this now instead of in the winter because this one requires a chat with your kids about gift expectations and it also requires saving money for your adventure. 

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from

We asked our kids if they would like to do a vacation instead of gifts this past Christmas and they were so excited to do this which thrilled us to no end.

Since my husband is a web designer, he came up with the genius idea to create a retro travel brochure (complete with a typewriter smear) that would make it look like this package was designed just for them that they could open on Christmas morning. Since there would be no gifts under the tree, we really wanted to give them something to enjoy on Christmas morning and to create a new tradition of gift-giving in our family!

The Mom & Dad Travel Agency (making dreams come true since a few minutes ago- ha!) cover sheet was designed with their names on it and placed on top of the gift.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from

The first package they opened outlined the rules of the adventure.  If you decide to do something similar, you can create your own rules, but these were the rules we set up to make sure that things went smoothly. 

Found below are the rules we gave our kids! 

Rules for Our Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Package

ONE- You must agree TOGETHER on the trip. We know that this will be tough, but it is also a great opportunity to work on your teamwork skills. Take your time coming to your decision and read through each of the files carefully. In it, we have outlined how you will get to your destination, where and who you might visit, as well as the exclusive adventure you will get to take.

TWO- Although we will do our best to book the places we have outlined for you, these will also be subject to availability. Do you know what that means? It just means, it depends on if the places or owners have space for us. For example, if the place we show you ends up not being available when we are able to go, we promise to find something as close as possible to what we have shared with you. That is the MOM & DAD TRAVEL AGENCY guarantee.

THREE- We will book the destination of your choosing as soon as possible, but the trip will be taken in the SPRING (sometime between the months of MARCH-MAY). Again, all of this will hinge on the availability and the ideal weather for wherever you select.

FOUR- HAVE FUN! Again, the MOM & DAD TRAVEL AGENCY is so pleased that you want to do something with… well…, your MOM & DAD as a gift. How many parents get to say that? We are so proud to take this trip with you and look forward to serving all of your travel needs.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from

I designated one file folder for each package idea and my husband created retro cover sheets for each package. For our family, the three destinations were to Florida (Universal and our Mimi), Boston (renting a houseboat and seeing where my son was born), and California (to see the Redwood Forest). Each package was wrapped individually so they had three files to open in the morning.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from

I then typed up travel itineraries that we hoped the kids would love reading together in the morning. We really wanted to make each of these special and a true gift in the morning.

Upon opening all three, they had a little conference session on their own to decide the trip that they wanted to do.  As outlined in the rules above, they had to decide together.  We knew this might be tough, but there was also the option of one picking one year and the other picking the next year.  

In fact, we are planning to recycle one that wasn’t chosen (that seemed to get a lot of buzz) and add a couple of new options.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from

Over our annual Christmas Tree Cinnamon Rolls, they shared that Universal was the chosen holiday for the year. I am proud to say it wasn’t really about seeing the Harry Potter world at all… it was, in fact, getting to see their amazing Mimi that really sold our Mom & Dad Agency package.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from

I hope this idea is inspiring to your family! We are so excited to take adventures with our kids this year and in the years to come and are so happy they enjoyed this gift as much as we enjoyed creating it for them!

*This post contains affiliate links!
Pin It

DIY Money Book Page Posies

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

DIY Money Book Page Posies from

Graduation season is here and that means being prepared with lots of great gifts for the amazing grads in our life. It probably goes without saying that one of the most useful gifts to a poor college student is money. Of course, giving just money can sometimes feel less personal than I would like. So, I crafted up some adorable money book page posies that you can create out of a few supplies you probably already have on hand, to make one beautiful posy or a bouquet for the graduate in your life.

DIY Money Book Page Posies from

I created this adorable, “What’s blooming? BOOK MONEY!” gift tag that you can attach to one of these simple paper flowers! How adorable is that?

To snag this tutorial and my free printables to make these Book Page Posies, head on over to the Kenmore blog today! While you are there, be sure to check out their handy list of easy Mother’s Day DIY gifts that you can make for a special mama in your life!

Pin It