Month: November 2012

8 Gift Ideas for Mom

Oh moms. Aren’t they great? My mom has always been easy to buy for, but this fact also makes me a little lazy when it comes to gift-giving. I can always get my mom a cute piece of jewelry or sweater that I would like for myself, because (lucky for me) we have pretty similar taste and size.

I’ve recently started making an effort to find a gift that is a little more special than a bracelet from Kohls. The key to shopping for mom is to get her something she wouldn’t normally buy for herself (actually this is a pretty good rule for anyone). Don’t be afraid to get her something she may already have! It’s hard to bring yourself to buy something you technically already have, but could really use a new, updated one.

1. Kitchen Utensils: I know your mom’s kitchen is stocked with all of the essentials, but take a look around. Is her potato peeler rusted out? Have those baking sheets seen better days? My mom and dad have been married for 28 years, and most of the items in their kitchen were given to them for their wedding. I noticed this a few years ago and got my mom a few kitchen utensils for Christmas and she still claims it was one of the best gifts she’s gotten. Like I said, moms are hesitant to buy themselves things they already have, so why not treat them to a new and improved version!

2. Photobook: Have you discovered Shutterfly yet? I’ve made a lot of photobooks over the past few years between going to Africa, getting engaged, and getting married. They are slightly pricey (more than a regular photo album, anyways), but once you order a few items from the site, Shutterfly will email special offers weekly. Their offers range from 40% off, to free shipping, to a free photobook! These are a great gift for mom, because they are more personal and can be set out like a coffee table book. You can make a book with pictures of your family over the years, a special trip you took, or of old photos from her childhood. It’s a gift that will definitely mean a lot to her.

3. Fleece Lined Leggings: Buy your mom a pair. Buy yourself a pair. Seriously, these are brilliant. I love wearing leggings (I even wear them as pants occasionally, gasp!). Leggings are a much better option during the winter than bare-legging it or wearing tights/hose, but fleece lined leggings take it to a whole other level. They look like regular leggings on the outside, but are lined with fleece on the inside to keep you warm. Like I said, brilliant. They aren’t exactly easy to find, but I’ve seen them at Francesca’s and Charming Charlie and you can find them online.

4. Lounge Pants: If your mom is like mine, she doesn’t like to spend a lot of money on clothing that no one is going to see her wear, and I can understand. If I have $20 to spend, I want to spend it on a cute top to wear to school or church, not a pair of yoga pants that only Brad will see. Like I said before, get your mom something that she wouldn’t want to spend money on herself!

5. House Plant: Moms often get flowers for mother’s day, because May is the perfect time to plant flowers in the yard, but December is the perfect time for a house plant. It will liven up the house once all of the Christmas decor has been put away and you’re looking down the barrel of at least three more months of winter. Plus, she can think of you every time she sees it!

6. Unique Magazine Subscription: I don’t buy magazines very often, so it’s always a treat when I do. There are a lot of neat magazines out there other than the typical ones we see at the grocery store check out or something she’s been getting for years. It’s like giving her a gift each month of the year! I’m personally itching to check out Molly Makes!

7. Craft Supplies: If you are a crafter, you know that it can sometimes get expensive. Tape, ribbons, scissors, cardstock, felt, fabric… The list is endless! Your crafty mom will love it if you stock her up on all the basics! Ten minutes in Hobby Lobby and you’ll find all you need!

8. Something Handmade: I know this one isn’t very specific, but it’s a start (just get on Pinterest). Moms love handmade stuff, because it takes time and thoughtfulness, which is often more valuable than something you buy at the store.

Good luck hunting for your mom this Christmas! I know that you will find the perfect gift!

8 gift ideas for those hard-to-buy-for guys

The Christmas season has finally arrived and you know what that means… Christmas shopping! I have sort of a love-hate relationship with Christmas shopping. I love picking out something that I know the recipient will love, but I hate waiting weeks to give it to them! Does this happen to you?

Overall I really enjoy Christmas shopping, but we all have those people that are so difficult to buy for every year. I’ve found that boys high school through early twenties are especially challenging. Finding the perfect gift for my 20-year old brother has plagued me for years. He’s an athlete, not much for video games, not a techie, doesn’t like to read, and in general isn’t very materialistic. So what do I get him? I’ve Googled “gifts for a 20-year old boy” many times and usually all I get is suggestions of gift cards or something inappropriate. I want to get him something that he will genuinely be excited about and appreciate (so usually not another T-shirt or 20 bucks). Well over the years, between gifting for my brother, boyfriends, cousins, and friends, I’ve come up with some pretty good (inexpensive) ideas. I haven’t actually gifted all that is on this list, but I thought they were definitely good enough to share!

1. Dart Board: My parents got my brother a dart board last year and he has gotten a lot of use out of it. It’s the perfect bro-chill-time activity, but we can play as a family as well.

2. Grooming Set: Okay so maybe your 17-year old guy doesn’t need a grooming set yet, but he will definitely feel cool having one. Plus, you know it will come in handy at some point. Every guy needs things like clippers, a nail file, scissors, razors, etc.

3. Crockpot: This one is more geared toward college guys. This may sound like a weird gift and he may not appreciate it at first, but I was given a crockpot my sophomore year of college and I came to LOVE it. Guys have to eat in college, and cooking meals in the crockpot is a lot better than having ramen or fast food every night. Crockpots make hearty meals for college guys with big appetites. Plus, there are a lot of crockpot recipes that only need a few ingredients!

4. Poker Set: Like a dart board, a poker set is another great addition to guy’s night, whether they are betting with cookies or cash.

5. Funny/Helpful Book: My husband frequents the website The Art of Manliness, where he found these books: The Art of Manliness and The Art of Manliness: Manvotationals. These books are made up of short chapters on tips to how to be manly, such as how to change a tire, how to be a gentleman, and how to make beef jerky. It’s full of information that guys should and want to know.

6. Slippers and Sweatpants: Let’s be honest, everybody likes getting slippers and sweatpants. You can never have too many. Enough said.

7. 3-D Puzzles: This may seem nerdy, but 3-D puzzles are seriously sweet. All guys love to build things (um, helloooo… legos!) and the fact that it’s a puzzle makes it a challenge, and we know that guys love a challenge.

8. Tool Set: Your guy may still live at home with his dad, but every guy is going to need a tool set at some time or another. Guys often get a tool set as a wedding present, but what about before that? What about in college when his Jeep starts leaking fluid every other week? (This may or may not come from personal experience…)

I hope this helps inspire you in your hunt for the perfect gift for the young man in your life. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box!

Crocheted Owl Hat

The original purpose of this blog was to have a place to share my recent craft-ings. I’m pretty sure I’ve posted more pictures of my husband and food I’ve eaten than crafts I’ve made this year. But with the Christmas season approaching, you are bound to see more crafts on this blog.

Recently I’ve gotten back into crocheting. I tend to crochet more during the winter, because you can use your creation as a blanket as you go! My grandma taught me the basics when I was 8 or 9 and I picked it back up in college. Most of the patterns I use are learned from YouTube!

My friend Tory is having a baby girl in early January (I’m crossing my fingers she’ll be born on my birthday!) and she had a baby shower last weekend. I decided to tackle one of the more complicated project I’ve tried: an infant owl hat.

Have you noticed that owls have become all the rage lately? I was so excited to find this owl hat pattern on Pinterest for free. (Sometimes it can be hard to find free patterns online.) You can find the pattern here.

I was really happy with how it turned out! It only took me one evening to crochet it all and I spent another evening piecing it all together. It was a lot simpler than I expected! Crocheting something out of the box gets me excited to try things other than afghans.

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But of course, I love making afghans. I finished this one about a month ago. I love the colors and I’m a little obsessed with the chevron pattern. (Also, this rocking chair is one of my favorite things in our home! It was in my dad’s bedroom growing up and it has been in our living room for years. I am so thankful my parents gave it to me!)

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Here is a sneak peak of my newest project!!! This afghan is going to be a Christmas present! Will it be for you?????

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Bits of November

I know it is only the tenth of November, but I thought I would share with you some of what’s been going on around here.

We recently bought a dresser. This makes me happy on so may levels. I now have a place to store my endless supply of shorts (How did I accumulate so many shorts???) and sweatpants (Never question how many pairs of sweatpants you have. You can never have enough.). Our bedroom feels a little less empty (Previous to the addition of the dresser, our bedroom housed a bed and two night-stands. Also a basket of stuffed animals). It gives me a place to decorate in our bedroom (I’ve actually added a picture on the wall since taking this picture).

I’m really glad we finally found one that we liked and was a good price. I think I’m going to replace the knobs, though. These are just too boring.

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The chilly weather always gets me in the mood to do some baking. My mom used to make this all the time growing up. It’s kind of like a cobbler, but a very simple version. There are three ingredients: canned cherry (or any fruit you want, I like strawberry as well) topping (it’s by the pie crusts), yellow cake mix (I get the cheap Jiffy box), and a half a stick of melted butter (or margarine). Pour the cherry filling into the pan, pour the cake mix over the cherries, pour melted butter over the top. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. I recommend eating it warm with vanilla ice cream, but it is good cold too.

This is the first time I’ve used my Swedish pan I received as a wedding present from my dear aunts Sandy and Carol. I need to remember to use it more often! Isn’t it the cutest??

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Yeah. This happened. Also the back right break light was out at the time. But no worries, but hubby fixed it all up!

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There he is! I love our Starbucks dates. We have become regulars at this Starbucks and the main barista even knows our names. Life complete.

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Lately our nights at home have consisted of The Voice, coffee, and studying (on my part). I also recently began writing the paper I will (hopefully) publish in about a year. And so we have the reason for this post: procrastinating. I should be editing the introduction right now! Alas, it is Saturday morning, which means it’s blogging time, not time for sifting through endless publications about Tor2 signaling in yeast. Okay I’ll stop there. I can see you falling asleep already.

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It’s a beautiful day in the Ozarks! Get out there and enjoy it!

Office Space

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This is my office. Okay so it’s not much of an office… I wouldn’t even classify it as a cubicle. It’s more like a tiny desk in a very long and narrow room in which the heat and air conditioning don’t work, so it’s either freezing or steaming depending on the weather.

I’ve got all the essentials for a graduate student/teaching assistant: water bottle, coffee thermos, a stack of papers to grade, a stack of journal articles to read, kleenexes, a coffee cup full of writing utensils, my Bible, a stuffed animal duck, a seashell, my schedule, pictures of my best friends, encouragement from the Word, and a blanket. Just to name a few.

It’s not much, but it’s mine and I love it. There are big windows and there are always other grad students around to complain about our students with. (Plus it’s a great place to hide from my advisor and blog instead of doing research.)

(Notice the desk to the right of mine. You know how most places have a junk drawer? The grad students’ office has a junk desk.)

Saturday Morning Pancakes

Last Saturday, Brad and I celebrated our first free weekend in a while by visiting Aunt Martha’s Pancake House. (We also had pancakes this morning. I think we have a pancake problem.) We were excited to check it off of our Springfield Bucket List!

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It was a lovely fall morning to go thrifting, so we fueled up with a great brunch. Brad had the typical eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and pancakes, while I had whole-wheat honey pancakes.

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The food was great and the staff was adorable. When a place is run by old ladies you know its going to be good.

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We will definitely be returning to Aunt Martha’s, but it made me miss Brenda’s in Bolivar. Nothing beats those pancakes!

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We’ve slowly been decorating our place. This is my new favorite addition to our living room. I snagged this little bird from the Christmas section of Hobby Lobby, but it will definitely be sitting out all year.

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Happy November!