Last Minute Gift Ideas

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Looking for a last minute gift that doesn’t feel last minute? Check out a few of my favorite subscription boxes! These are the kind of gift that keep on giving throughout the year, and are fun Christmas Morning as well!

Honey & Roses

Honey & Roses sells coffee, and it’s delicious! For your last minute gift, they have a variety of coffee subscriptions available. Decaf, Basic, KCup, Cold brew, etc. Basically, something for every single coffee drinker you know.

And they have the most amazing cookies ever! These cookie are so big and rich you’ll want to have a friend over for coffee and share. Maybe offer to bring the snack if your friend will share their coffee with you.

The coffee is made fresh by small batch roasters and has amazing flavor! There are so many varieties to choose from, and as a coffee lover myself, they make it the way I like it. In small batches and recently roasted.

Toca Life Box

Toca Boca is one of my favorite app companies for the kids. And, now they’re doing more than apps! They sent me one of their awesome Toca Life Boxes to review.

This box was super duper cute, and hilarious. The outside of the box was fun and creative, and inside, was a project for sewing your own slippers and sleep mask.

My 10 yr old daughter loves little needle crafts so she was all over this one! I had to help with a few knots hear and there, and she did a great job on the rest. The slippers and mask turned out super cute!

This is a monthly kids box of fun, and each month is something different. This month, I really enjoyed sharing a fun project that produced these super cute slippers for my daughter!

This is a super fun gift for that hard to shop for kid!

Fab Fit Fun

One of my favorite subscription boxes. Click through my link to get $10 off your first box! This is a quarterly box packed full of fun items ranging from household items, to clothing, to kitchen accessories, to bath products.

Don’t quite know what to pick for someone on your list? A few weeks before boxes ship, they can log in and customize the box. I love this feature because I get to choose between some items and make sure that my box is only full of things that I will love!

Fabletics

This is a monthly workout and clothing subscription. I love it because not only do I get cute clothing. They also have an app that has a variety of workouts. It keeps me motivated to try out my new stuff and exercise.

No worries, you get a monthly member credit that you use to select your monthly outfit, so you get to pick what you want to wear. I’ve been super happy with my selections so far.

And, while I may be a bit lazy about it in December, I do love the variety of workouts on their app and I’m making a plan for January!

Christmas Gift Basket

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One thing I love to do is hand out Christmas Gift baskets to friends, neighbors, teachers, employees, and basically anyone else I can think of this time of year. This year, I found several fun, new items to include in my gift baskets!

I LOVE gifting snacks! I feel like their consumable – so they don’t sit around someone’s house forever. And, I feel like snacks are super easy to regift. If you don’t like a specific snack, wrap it up and pass it on to that impossible person to shop for on your gift list. So, this year, I’m including a few favorites and a few new items as well.

Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels – I discovered these a couple years ago and just cannot get enough of them. They’re amazing! Seriously. I don’t actually ever like pretzels, but these are so good. They have tons of flavor and a great crunch.

Hot Monkey Nuts – They sent me 3 of their 6 different hot nuts to review. And they don’t disappoint. They’re hot! And full of flavor. My kids don’t like spicy, so these are mine and my hubby’s (who loves spicy!) and we’re sticking a few in Christmas Baskets for friends who we know love a little heat. They’re gluten free and made with non-GMO ingredients. So, not only tasty and fun to eat, but also a pretty healthy snack – something we all need a little more of during the holidays.

Congo Tropicals – They sent me coffee and chocolate to review. But, they also ship other tropical fruits – or there’s local delivery if you’re in Florida. I usually find dark chocolate a bit bitter but this Congo Organic Dark Chocolate is delicious! It’s got lots of chocolate flavor without being bitter. Amazing! I can’t be without my coffee and this coffee is terrific! I had coffee in my gift baskets last year as well and it was amazingly popular, so I’m excited about sharing another new coffee brand with friends!

Preggo Pickle – These are made by the pickle company. They have 3 flavors of preggo pickles and 3 different kinds of pickles (if you’re not wanting to give preggo pickles to friends there’s also the Pickle Co and Cleveland Pickle). Though, I will say. I love pickles – see above, I could pretty much live on pickles and coffee and chocolate – and these are delicious! They’re cut kinda chunky and they have amazing flavor. Even friends who aren’t pregnant, I want to give some pickles to, because they’re so good! These pickles are certified kosher, vegan, soy free, dairy free, gluten free, and fat free. Basically perfect for practically everyone on your list!

Apex Meat Sticks – I love a good meat stick pretty much any time of the year, and I feel like the holidays are a great time for gifting unique protein snacks like these. Of course, my kids tried to steal all mine for after school snacks! Theses Jalapeno Flavor Backcountry Meat Sticks are amazing. They’re just enough spicy, but not too much and each stick has so much protein, it’s almost not a snack! I have been slipping a couple sticks into each of my gift baskets this year. It’s a super fun way to gift the traditional “meat and cheese” while being just a tad non-traditional.

Favorite Beverage Subscription Boxes

The beginning of this year, I had a couple of subscription boxes that I used. I really didn’t see the need for more. Then, with ordering everything from home, I find the convenience and predictability of subscription boxes for food items to be very handy. As I was preparing this list, I realized that I’ve added a LOT of subscription boxes this year. So, rather than list them all in one long list, I’m going to do a couple of posts and list out my favorite by category.

1. Sipsby

This was my very first subscription box. I used to go into Teavana whenever I visited the mall and try out a new tea every time I was there. So, when they closed I started looking around for an inexpensive way to try some new teas. I came across Sipsby and I’ve been super pleased.

It’s $15 for a monthly box of tea. They send 4 flavors every month. When you sign up, you fill out a flavor profile so you don’t get things that you don’t like. I kept my profile pretty broad so I can share with everyone in the family. The kids love herbal teas, especially if the have chamomile in them. We’ve discovered some new bedtime favorites this way. My husband loves chai. After Teavana closed – taking our favorite chai with them – I was struggling to figure out how to find a chai that we like without spending a fortune. We’ve found several through Sipsby. And I of course, love a good black or oolang, and this subscription has sent me some really tasty varieties of these.

After you try your teas, make sure you review them online. I make sure to tell them what I think so my teas get better every month. Every now and then they send one that’s truly awful (like cinnamon & licorice) but I’m usually very happy with all 4 of my teas. Best of all, if you really like something – remember, I’ve found some favorites this way – they have info on their website telling you where you can buy it and a coupon code to get a discount when you purchase. For a family who loves tea like mine, this box is awesome!

Want to check it out for yourself? Use my link to get $5 off your first box.

2. Atlas Coffee Club

Coffee is another love of mine. I started drinking it in college and then when kids came along, coffee is just a necessity. Seriously, when people were going crazy over TP in May, I checked my coffee stash, because if there was a run on coffee, I was in trouble!

Thankfully, I had already signed up for Atlas Coffee Club, so I wasn’t too worried. I actually tried out several coffee subscriptions and this is the only one I liked – so take it from me, this one is the best. You can choose ground or whole, between 1 and 6 bags of coffee per shipment, and a shipment frequency between 1 and 10 weeks. I set mine at 2 bags every 4 weeks and that seems about right for me. I’ve been known to pause, slow down, or speed up my subscription depending on the time of year and how much coffee I’m drinking or not drinking.

You fill out a flavor profile and they use that as a guideline when selecting coffees to send you. I’ve enjoyed the full flavors of all the coffees they’ve sent me so far, so I feel like they got my profile right. You can also review your coffees each month to help them send you more of what you like.

The price per bag goes down a bit depending on how many you’re getting per shipment. 2 bags is $28 + s/h but 3 bags is only $39 + s/h.

Use my link for $10 off your first box.

Super Simple Mother’s Day Gift List

Looking to keep it simple this year? Just remember it’s the thought that counts. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get Mom a Mother’s Day gift she’ll love.

1. Flowers – There’s something for everyone in this category. I love red roses, and bonus points if there’s baby’s breath with them. My husband knows this and gets them for me often. My MIL doesn’t really like cut flowers. But she loves potted plants that she can either plant outside or grow inside. I got her a tulip house plant for her birthday a few months ago, she put it on her porch and it’s perpetually blooming for her. She shows it to me every time I’m at her house. For Mother’s Day, I’ll just run up to Home Depot the day before and pick out something that looks like it’s going to bloom soon. It’s a super simple gift, but something that I know she loves.

The key with flowers is to put out a little effort and find out what kind of flower your Mom likes. Cut or potted? Red, pink, blue, or yellow? Roses, tulips, daisies, or lilies?  Flowers get a bad rap because they’re often a thoughtless gift, you just pick up something random and give it to your mom because you can’t think of anything else. Find out what she really likes, and the’ll be appreciated.

2. Chocolate – Again, don’t just drop by Target the night before and pick up the first thing you see on the shelf. Does your mother like light or dark chocolate? What fillings does she like? Does she have a favorite brand? It’s not about just getting a gift because you have to. It’s about getting something special just for her. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be something she likes.

My favorite chocolate is a bit pricey, I just love Godiva milk chocolate. And when someone gets it for me, it’s mine, and I don’t feel at all bad about not sharing with everyone. Do some research and get what she likes.

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3. Popcorn – I have a food theme going here, don’t I? The key with this again is thought. I know for me as a mom, a special snack just for me is hard to come by. I usually just snack on whatever everyone else is having. You know, stale goldfish from the kids, too-spicy salsa from my husband, and whatever else people in my house like to eat. I rarely purchase a snack just for me.

If your mom’s favorite popcorn is microwave popcorn, get that. You can get some really fun popcorn at specialty stores or even at your local grocery store. I love popcorn that’s been drizzled in chocolate. But it’s like $4 a bag so I don’t just go buy it for myself.

Better yet, get your mother some fun popcorn, her favorite sweet drink (coke, tea, lemonade, etc.), and a new DVD. I bet she’ll even invite you to join her movie night.

4. Coffee – Most moms I know consume a lot of coffee. My mom loves coffee. I know a few who don’t drink it at all and I’m not sure how they survive! If your mother doesn’t drink coffee, she probably drinks tea, hot chocolate, or cokes. The key here is, get her a beverage that she loves. My favorite coffee brand is Green Mountain. It’s always so smooth and delicious. Find out what your mom’s favorite brand is. Does she like beans, ground, or k-cups? Or, would she prefer a gift card to her favorite coffee shop? My mom always feels pampered with a Starbucks giftcard. Add a giftcard for her Kindle and she has a relaxing afternoon out. A lot of local coffee shops have their own special blends, maybe your mother likes trying new things. Just knowing that you put in some extra effort to get her something she likes will be appreciated.

Want to give a really special gift? Include a personalized coffee cup with her coffee. And she’ll think of you every time she drinks coffee.

5. Personalized Gift – Shutterfly has awesome magnets, scratch pads, and cards if you’re not crafty but still want to make something special for your mom. If you like to create things, make her something that she wants or something that will remind her of how much you love her everytime she sees it. For example, my MIL loves aprons, so I like to either make her an apron with the kids artwork on it, or buy her an apron from shutterfly or someplace similar with a picture of the kids on it. It’s useful, because she wears it while she cooks and it’s special to her because it lets her show off her grandkids. If you like to bake, bake your mom a special cake, or have her over for dinner one night. There’s so many personalized gifts you can give to your mom that let her know you were thinking of her way before Mother’s Day. (because these things take time)

10 Things I Love

My August Blog Prompt is 10 Things I Love. It’s a great way to start out the month, right before school starts up again and I get busy teaching and keeping up with the kid’s lessons and such.

I’m going to be doing a weekly post on Homeschooling on Mondays throughout the school year, so come back next week to see what we’re up to!

Now, for 10 things that I like…

1. Music – I love listening to music, but mostly I love playing. I started piano when I was 5 and as an adult I continue to enjoy it.

2. Cordless Dust Buster Hand Vac – This thing has saved my life (actually, it’s more likely saved my kid’s lives) countless times. I can’t live without it! An entire poptart crumbled on the couch? No problem! The 2yr old just dumped the entire potted plant on the floor? A big problem! But not nearly as bad as it could be (he could have broken the pot). Seriously though, I did use my dustbuster for this because I don’t have a shopvac.

My dustbuster lives in it’s charger on my counter and gets used a lot!

3. A Good Book – Some of my favorite authors are James Fenmore Cooper, Charles Dickens, and Jessee Stuart. I enjoy the classics and occasionally a new book or two. Reading is a time to grab a drink and relax.

I recently reviewed Shadow of the Mountain: Exodus and really enjoyed it. I’m also amazed by how much easier it is to read a book I’m reviewing. I guess I justify the time spent more easily because I have a deadline.

4. Coffee – Speaking of drinks. I love coffee. I like the taste, and it’s my preferred way to wake up in the morning. A cup of coffee and my Bible Study. Of course, the kid’s don’t believe in sleeping in so I have to add getting breakfast and hot chocolates and tea to that list in the morning.

5. BBQ Ribs – The best I’ve ever had are from this local place called Dead End BBQ. Their ribs are soooo good! They also have great brisket and delicious sides. And I have no idea about the desserts because I’m always too stuffed to try any!

6. Sewing – I don’t do as much as I would like to because the kids keep me busy, but sewing is a fun, creative outlet for me. I’m working on a few things for the girls right now and they’re so excited.

7. Caramel Bugles – Seriously, the best thing since sliced bread. It’s like caramel corn, without the kernels. I actually hide this from the kids and then my husband will eat an entire bag! It’s delicious. And perfect any time of the year, not just the holidays when I’m craving caramel corn.

Amazon probably isn’t the best place to get these, they’re kind of expensive online. Check the snack aisle in your local grocery store. A few times a year Kroger has them on sale for $1 a bag and I stock up.

8. SciFi – I love SciFi, from the old Star Trek, to Dr. Who, to pretty much anything interesting I find on Netflix. I’m also teaching my kids well, my 6yr old sometimes suggests Star Trek when she’s trying to convince me that we should watch something!

9. Legos – I love legos. Except for when they’re spread all over the floor in the middle of the night. The kids love legos. They have LEGO Friends, LEGO Elves, LEGO Disney Princesses for the girls. My girls love them. And if I don’t feel like actually playing with the legos, they even have Lego XBox 360 games! I have my eyes on this LEGO Jurassic World.

10. Jurassic World – Speaking of which, I loved Jurassic World. I remember watching Jurassic Park as a kid so I had to go see Jurassic World when it came out. It was not disappointed! It’s right up there with Indiana Jones (except for #4, I didn’t like that one) and The Mummy. Just fun to watch!

I’d love to hear some of your favorite things. Comment below and tell me, what’s something you love?

This post does contain affiliate links, and I do earn a small commission off any purchase made through those links.

3 Thing Im Glad My Mother Taught Me

My mom taught me so much! And there’s lots I continue to learn. Thinking back through this year, there’s 3 things I’m so glad she taught me!

IMG_20150124_1949362231. Cooking – I cannot tell you how often I’m so glad I can cook! And I can do more than follow recipes, if I don’t have the right ingredients I improvise, I add spices as needed, and I’ll just wing it when I feel like it. Having confidence in the kitchen is such a blessing. I remember being at the counter helping bake, cook, and making a mess right along with my mom. Now, I let my kids do the same!

I’ll never forget the time I mixed up this beautiful tri-colored pound cake (in a bundt pan). I was in my early teens so fully capable of following a recipe. That cake was lots of work, and having three colors just made it more complicated. I successfully mixed it, baked it as instructed, and then set it on the rack to cool for 5 minutes. Next, continuing to follow the directions, I tipped it over and dumped it out onto the rack.

Only problem was, it wasn’t done. There were 3 colors of poundcake batter dripping down the counter and making a puddle on the floor. I cried, and I know my mom felt exactly as I did (even though she wasn’t crying). She had to clean up the mess. And then, we had a lesson on how to check a cake for doneness BEFORE tipping it over.

2. Sometimes Life is Hard – But you don’t give up. Life is constantly frustrating, irritating and just downright hard. But that’s all part of life, and definitely part of mothering.

Thankfully, that usually balances out with fun, love, and successes! You just don’t give up when things get hard, just keep going and things will come out ok in the end.

20141211_1316183. My Emotions are My Choice – I don’t mean I don’t have them. I can’t always choose when they’ll strike. But, I can be responsible for them. There are days I count to 10 before answering any questions. And there’s times I’m just tired, hungry, and crabby – and everyone knows it. That’s what coffee and chocolate are for!

Some days it’s really hard, but I can’t blame anyone for how I respond to things – like right now I would really like to tell the girls exactly what I think about them interrupting my writing for the 20th time instead of playing quietly in their room! Instead I calmly gave two choices. They can play quietly in their room until I come get them or they can take a nap like their Brother. We’ll see how long it lasts, but hopefully at least until I’m done writing!

With 2 girls I’ve started teaching emotional responsibility already. It’s ok to be mad – but we do not throw things or slam doors when we’re mad. It’s ok to be upset and it’s ok to cry – but we don’t yell at siblings or say unkind things because we’re upset. It’s not about not experiencing the emotion but it’s about remembering that no matter how I feel I still have a responsibility to be kind and considerate towards others.

Did I Brush My Hair Today?

So, we all have those days. Actually, I’d say more than 50% of the time is one of “those mornings”. You know, the morning where you start to get ready, get interrupted, try again, get interrupted again, try again, and somewhere around 2 when you need to run an errand you really can’t remember if you brushed your teeth, washed your face, or brushed your hair, and while you seem to have clothing on, you don’t really remember how that came about.

Like, this morning, I put in a movie for the kids and hopped in the shower, hoping the toddler didn’t notice my absence for a little while. Well, of course, he heard me turn on the shower, so he appeared in the bathroom hot chocolate in one hand, and waffle in the other, crying about my absence before I even had time to get my hair wet. He also felt the need to supervise the entire shower time, lest I somehow disappear from sight while in the shower and am never heard from again. Hmmm…that is tempting…

Or, like two days ago, I got up, and the two littlest were up, so I gave them hot chocolate and turned on their morning show then went back to the bedroom to get ready. I was halfway through changing out of my pjs when one of them appeared in need of breakfast, so I finished dressing and then fixed them breakfast (also had to hunt for my coffee around this point because I couldn’t remember where I’d left it). Once they were eating, I returned to my room and brushed my hair, my oldest woke up at this point and needed an unspecified item for breakfast, so I had to help her look through the fridge and pick out a yogurt. I returned to the bathroom to brush my teeth and in the midst of this little man who had finished his waffle decided to steal his sister’s. Which did not make her happy, so I had to go make another set of waffles, at which point I got distracted on getting schoolwork started for the kids, and a few other things I had to do for the morning (like cleaning the kitchen, picking up toys, checking e-mail, etc.). Baby boy went down for his nap, we finished school, and around noon I decided that since I couldn’t remember washing my face, I should probably go do that, just in time for the toddler to wake up for lunch…

Green Mountain Coffee

Thanks to Bzzagent for some free Green Mountain Coffee! First of all, I love the taste of Green Mountain Coffee. I discovered it last year and it’s currently my favorite coffee brand.

Not only is Green Mountain Coffee delicious, it’s also fair trade. You can find out more at their website.

Basically, with fair trade coffee, the company works directly with the farmers who produce the beans. They pay them a guaranteed minimum for their beans which enables the farmers to invest in their crops, producing good coffee crops. Also, the farmers are able to make money and then use their money to support their local community. What this means for me is that Green Mountain Coffee beans are purchased right where they are grown – this must be why the coffee tastes so good!

I love that fair trade allows farmers to earn their own living and empowers them to help their own communities!

So, while I’m enjoying my tasty coffee I can think of the farmers and their communities that I’m supporting!

Private Selection Party Foods

I just loved this bzz campaign! You can go to bzzagent’s website to get into your own campaigns. I got to try all sorts of fun tasty foods from this campaign! My holiday party is coming up next week and I’m looking forward to serving some of Private Selection’s products to my guests.

1. Greek yogurt – this yogurt had the little fruit cup on the side. It’s mine and my 4yr old’s favorite yogurt style. My favorite flavor is honey. Though, I am picky about which brand of greek yogurt I’ll eat. I was a little worried trying this since I generally only like name brand greek yogurts. I was really surprised. The private selection yogurt was delicious! We tried the cranberry and the strawberry yogurt. (I had coupons for 3 yogurts). I’m definitely buying these again.

Though, I do wish they had a variety with honey, since this is my favorite flavor. If Private Selection had a honey greek yogurt I’d be buying it every time I was at Kroger. I also don’t know of a good way to serve this at a party but I’m more than happy to tell my guests how much I liked it 🙂

2. Deli Cheese – I tried the smoked gouda and it was really good. I think the cheese is a little pricey, however, they have unique flavors. I love serving cheese when I host a holiday party! I usually do a cheese tray with 4 to 5 different cheeses and crackers. Private selection has some unique cheeses that aren’t really that expensive if you want something more than just swiss, american, or cheddar. I’m adding at least one Private Selection cheese to my cheese tray this year because it’ll give me some fun variety!

3. Crackers – I got to try the Classic Water Crisps. I loved the idea picture on the front of the box and it’s the cracker I’m designating for the soft cheese on my cheese tray. I’m going with a sharp cheddar cheese ball because I like the strong cheese with the mild cracker.

4. Coffee – Not as good as the coffee from the Green Mountain Coffee campaign that I had last month, but it’s still pretty tasty. Though the package in my bzzkit was a regular coffee and I probably won’t serve it to my guests in the evening, I’ll go try one of the decaffeinated varieties so I don’t keep anyone up all night.

5. Olives – I just love their olives! I like olives anyways but Private Selection olives are my new favorite. I tried the mixed olive jar just to see what I thought of them and they have the perfect olive taste and texture! I’ll get one of the stuffed olives for my party so guests don’t have to spit out pits. These olives are going to taste great with hummus, crackers, and my cheese tray! (or just on their own)

I’ll post pictures of my party, all our food, and our fun food creations next week. (if I remember to take pictures during the party)

Green Mountain Coffee

My latest bzz campaign was for Green Mountain Coffee. I love coffee and this was such a fun campaign for me!

They sent 4 different flavors to try, but Green Mountain Coffee has tons of different coffee flavors.

Green Mountain is a Fair Trade company so their coffee tends to be a bit more expensive than my usual folgers or maxwell house, however Green Mountain has more flavor to it. I honestly don’t buy products just because they’re Fair Trade but I have noticed that Fair Trade products tend to be a lot like organic products, they just taste better. And sometimes, the extra flavor is worth the higher price. The varieties are produced with care and it shows. Of all the 4 flavors I tried each of them was delicious!

Vermont Country Blend – This one is a blend of light and dark beans, not too strong, not too weak, perfect for any morning. I think it’s pretty much just a straight up regular coffee.

Columbian Fair Trade Select – This one was really good, nice and strong without being too strong. You know, how some strong coffees are kind of bitter, there was no bitter in this coffee. It was strong but still smooth. Good for a busy morning or a nice afternoon pick-me-up.

Wild Mountain Blueberry – This one smells so good when it’s brewing! It’s almost enough to wake me up without having to drink it…almost. It’s a nice medium/mild coffee with just a tad of blueberry flavor in it, just enough to taste but not enough to make me feel like I’m drinking blueberries instead of coffee. I honestly, will buy this one again just because I like the smell of it so well!

Sumatran Reserve – This one is my favorite of the four. A nice bold coffee, perfect for a morning when the kids get me up early. It’s nice and strong without being bitter, It’s now on my list of must have coffees.

And for more fun info on Green Mountain Fair Trade you can follow Grace Potter and Michael Franti’s Fair Trade source trips, and check out the live stream of their concerts via the Green Mountain Coffee®Facebook page!