Category Archives: gift giving

A few of my recent favorites

When I find something I like, I tend to OD on it.  So I thought I’d share what I’ve been OD-ing on lately. Beware, these items are very random 🙂

Pinterest.  Have you heard of it?  It’s the scrapbook of 201x.  And it’s amazing.  Looking for somewhere to save recipes? Pin them.  Looking to redecorate a room in your house? Do some online research and pin different ideas.  You can store images and/or links to ideas through images to pretty much anything online.  Check it out  🙂

The Capri Blue Jar Candle – Volcano scent from Anthropologie has been burning in my house every night since before Christmas.  Anthropologie has a bunch of other great scents too, but right now this is it for me.  And while it’s expensive, it lasts a VERY long time, especially for someone that burns candles every night. 

Neuma hair products – organic, animal friendly and they pay attention to their impact on the earth.  That, and my hair is 100% healthier since I started using their products late last year.

Butternut squash everything – not lying.  I’ve been baking it, putting it on pizza, making my own soup, and more.  I’m not sure why it took me 30 years to find butternut squash, but consider me hooked.

Trader Joes organic split pea soup.  Filling, delicious, vegan and gluten free for those who look for that sort of thing.  Right now it’s my lunch at least 2 times a week.

So thats it – random, just like I warned you 🙂  I’m always looking for new things to try – how about you? Anything you’ve been OD-ing on lately?

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Sheality’s Top Ten Bad Holiday Gifts for the Busy But Balanced Professional Woman

When you’re a successful professional woman without children, many times, people have no idea what to buy you for holiday gifts; especially those who don’t share your lifestyle. People with children imagine us going straight from the office to the spa to the restaurant. Our weekends are spent shopping at luxury label stores, clubbing all night and napping and brunching all Sunday.

While it is true that we often have gotten anything and everything on our wish list for ourselves already, there is a way to gift a gift that means something and is nice…

What do you get the woman who has everything? Well, here’s some idea of what not to give….a lot of well intentioned but really crappy gifts.

  1. Anything Doga: I love yoga and I love my dog… but there is no reason on this green earth to combine the two. Don’t even think I would be interested in anything related to Doga (yes this is real)… dogs don’t need yoga. Period. 
  2. Toys: The kind of toys that children get, and apparently me at the age of 28 because my mom wants to “keep it fun.”  A cabbage patch at the age of 28 is not fun, it’s just ridiculous.  What on earth do you do with it when you go home? Put it on your bed?  No, it goes right in the trash.  Save your money.
  3. Desk accessories:So yes, my job involves sitting for hours on end at a desk in front of a computer …. BUT, a desk is a piece of furniture and I can tell you, it doesn’t need to be accessorized!  I travel light at work and highly recommend it (everything you can pack in a box!). It seems to me that any $$ spent on these hunks of crap imported from China (or other exploited workforce country) would be much better spent donated (here are my favorite sites for that… www.heifer.org, www.humanesociety.org, or www.surfrider.org )
  4. The Visa Gift Card: My brother has taken to giving me (and asking for) Visa gift cards. Aside from whatever is in your wallet, can you think of a gift requiring less thought? And how annoying are they? They are for a set amount so unless I am buying something for EXACTLY 50 bucks, I have to put the rest on another card or have like $5.85 left on it – sitting in my already crowded wallet – taunting me.  I propose that my brother and I just save the money and pass the same card back and forth to each other.
  5. Bad gifts for the cook:  I’ve posted in the past about having every kitchen gadget one could possibly have.  However, every once in a while, someone comes across something that I don’t have… and there is usually a reason I don’t have the gadget.  Past gifts have included a cherry pitter (I hate cherries) and a jalapeno popper grill rack (doubt that will make it out of the box). Really?? A grill rack specifically for jalapenos?
  6. Doggie Decorations:  Because I love my dog, I get a lot of dog gifts. And by dog gifts, I mean home decorations with dogs on it. Picture frames, pillows, throws, and my personal favorite – a yard sign with “Spoiled Rotten Dog Lives Here” on it.  I don’t even have a yard. Owning a dog doesn’t mean I want to decorate my home like my vet’s waiting room. 
  7. “Gifts” with advertisements or corporate logos: I have a family member who thinks that because I have a computer, I love anything that involves technology.   Every tchotchke she receives from vendors that pertains to computers, I get.  Think: wrapped thumb drives, cd cases, a reading light that attaches to a PC, etc.-  all having a vendor’s name stamped all over them.  Hello…. I know you got these free.
  8. Art: Let’s just say art is as personal a gift as lingerie… if you know me that well, by all means, get me art. But if you don’t, I would highly suggest you stay away from the gift of art and go for some great dark chocolate! 
  9. Heavy, breakable items that you then have to travel with: When I say the best gift you can give me is a Costco gift card, get me a Costco gift card.  Don’t give me a large, heavy gift from Costco that I then have to lug home on a plane… oh… say…  huge serving platters (12 x 12 and 5 pounds each) that sit on metal stands and a 2 foot wide lazy susan with five ceramic sections for goodies.  These items, while very nice, were purchased at a Costco in Tennessee, hauled by car to Florida, wrapped, and given to me.  I then have to carry them on my flight home due to the 50 lb checked bag limit.  Did I mention that these came from Costco? There is one less than 5 minutes from my house – I could have picked them up there… with the gift card.
  10. Bath and body anything: Two words: no thanks.  Like art, I think the scents that you choose are very personal and just because YOU smell good in something called Vanillatini doesn’t mean I will, or even want to.

In the actual spirit of giving, we would also like to add some good gift giving ideas:

Personally, I think you are always safe with the 3 C’s: Chocolate, champagne and cashmere.  – Jen

As for me, Lululemon, Athleta, chocolate and your favorite book. You can’t go wrong! – Michaela

Wine, books, and cute scarves are top on my list! – Erin

A phone call or personal email are wonderful.  If you feel the need to spend money, red wine or a donation on my behalf are great.   – Lori

Was That My Turn?

I’m geographically challenged.  I don’t know how people are born with absolutely NO sense of direction, but I’m proof that you can survive this affliction.  Even if I do know where we’re going, you don’t want to rely on me for  directions if you’re driving, because I’ll forget to tell you.  It’s like the passenger seat automatically disengages the little part of my brain dedicated to navigation. But, sometimes good things come out of missing a turn.

Recently, my friend was driving us somewhere new in my town.  True to form, I forgot to say where to go and we wound up detouring through an area near my paternal grandparents’ house that triggered childhood memories.  Then, wait, did you see that sign that said ‘Bold City Brewery’?  And did that store next to it say ‘Just Brew It’?  My friend always wanted to try brewing and Saint Louis made me a fan of microbrews (Square One is a favorite!).

After keeping the store clerk open late answering our questions, we were trying to fit a brewing kit and a large glass carboy into a tiny trunk (the one disadvantage of detours is being ill-prepared).   The next day brought the aroma of hops to the kitchen and left us pondering names for breweries and beer labels.

A few evenings later I’m home alone and hear a bang!  Luckily, it wasn’t too late or too dark, so I didn’t panic when I couldn’t identify the sound.  Later I opened
the pantry door to put something away and saw tiny glass shards and brown liquid all over the floor.  A beer bottle had broken.  Just slight annoyance while I cleaned it up.  A couple of hours later, a BANG!  Really, another bottle broken?  A little more annoyance now as I clean up the second time.  When the third bottle exploded, I was officially perturbed and called my friend to let him know
about it.  I found a storage bin just the right size for 45 bottles of beer and counted each time another bottle lost its battle and marveled at how glass shards got out of the container.

The next day, he asked me to release some of the pressure from the remaining bottles.  But someone who happened to be with me suggested I could really be hurt.  So…  I found safety goggles, donned a heavy sweater and garden gloves and before opening bottles with the bin lid protecting my face.  The first bottle spewed beer into the air a foot or so.  The next, and last, bottle that I tried to
save spewed brown, sticky liquid nearly four feet into the air and onto three
different shelves of pantry contents.  Now, I’m worried AND aggravated.  I put the lid back on, gingerly carried the bin outside, and placed an old DVR and four bags of mulch on top of it so the sun’s affect wouldn’t force more shards out of the bin.

Turns out, there was some miscommunication about the bottling process.  Now, we are a few batches into the new hobby and the beer stays controlled.  It actually tastes good and we’re having fun trying different kits.

Sometimes a wrong turn can lead to new hobbies, some interesting moments, and a few laughs.  Next time I wind up on a detour, I’ll be certain to keep my eyes open for unexpected benefits!

~ Lori

How Much Better is it to Give Than To Receive?

I’m not sure about you, but Spring seems to be the busiest time of year in my personal life.  Between the weddings (engagement parties, showers, bachelorette parties, and actual wedding), babies (showers and birthdays), graduation parties, and everything else that’s going on, I’m spending a small fortune between March and June.

So I wonder – how much is the “right” amount to spend in each case?  For me, it totally depends on who the person is in my life (and how much I like them at that moment), what the occasion is, what my bonus was that year J… a whole slew of factors.  I know plenty of people, though, that have a standard amount for each occasion.

So I did some searching to look at others opinions.  Here is some of what I found:

Wedding

According to theknot.com, the only event surrounding a wedding that actually requires a present is the bridal shower – because you are supposed to “shower” the person with gifts.  They have a complicated way to figure out how to spend on each gift which requires math (not complicated math but if you know anything about me I’m not very good at math, so looking at it made my head hurt.)

Forbes.com recently did an article that said “nothing less than $50. While the average expected expense for a gift from a friend is $70, the newlyweds targeted $129 as the average cost of a gift from a family member.”  This is for the wedding gift – they didn’t include anything on the other events.

Fabulous and Frugal says the nationwide average is $75 (if I’m reading that correctly).  They say it depends on where you live (cities average $100 and smaller towns are around $50).

Baby

There is surprisingly less on this one.

The blog Someone Spoil Me says this one ranges from $15-100, and up to $500, depending on your budget and your relationship to the parents.

This site says while the average person spends $20-30, the average baby gift sale on websites is $60-120.  I’m not sure I agree with that statistic but I’m not here to debate average baby item prices.  I’m definitely not an expert in that area – ask me the cost of the average toy for small dogs and I will take you on any day of the week.

The net of it:  It seems like I’m following the rules, spending what I can afford depending on the person and the occasion.  Jen told me I need to just lose a few friends, and that would solve my problem.  🙂

What do you think?  Do you follow a ‘standard’ for each occasion or are your gift spending habits all over the place like mine?

– Erin