Are you still Christmas shopping? I know I am! We are doing a combination of purchased gifts and handmade gifts this year. We have been incredibly busy sewing, canning, baking and making for the last couple weeks. I wouldn’t say it has been a money saver, but it’s been a wonderful experience full of love and effort. If DIY isn’t your thing, don’t worry. While I will be sharing DIY gift ideas throughout the week, today is all about buying thoughtful gifts for your friends and family. Below are some of my favorite picks for gifts this year.
I have had so many ideas lately for blog posts that my notebook is just bursting at the seams! Of course, I’ve been busy with writing for my big girl job and taking care of other things like volunteering for the HOA and working on a super cool opportunity I can’t really talk about yet. I have also been thinking a lot about my 101 in 1001 list as well as making a lot of new lists, so I’ll continue that here. This is what I’ve been up to lately:
- Over the weekend, I tried to make a beautiful cobbler to post on the blog. I forgot I was baking and absent-mindedly turned off the oven mid-bake while cleaning the kitchen. I ruined what would have been a beautiful cobbler and the texture was gross. I wasted beautiful berries and that made me sad. Jay ate it anyway and said it was delicious. He’s a keeper, so I think this one breaks even.
- I finally potted my pretty organic herbs this weekend. This year, I went with starter plants for mint, basil, lavender, and rosemary. I bought a seed starter so that I could try to knock off grow a plant from a seed from my 101 in 1001 list. I bought organic seeds for garden beans, hot peppers, cilantro, lacinato kale, lettuce, and thyme. In addition to the veggies and herbs, I potted some aloe and succulents for my windowsill. I’m excited to see how everything turns out this year!
- As I was cleaning my kitchen/ruining cobbler, I realized that there was something wet under the kitchen sink. Upon further inspection, it turned out everything was wet under the kitchen sink! Long story short, the plumber comes out to our house today and I am crossing our fingers that it can be repaired quickly (and cheaply!) so that I can use my kitchen again to prepare recipes for you all.
- I became a member of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation last week! I am very excited about this because one of my 101 in 1001 goals is to volunteer with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation again. I volunteered with them a lot when I was in high school, so this means a lot to me. Our bay is so beautiful and it needs all the help it can get. I look forward to helping out soon.
- On Saturday, we attended an Earth Day festival. Jay’s band was headlining the event, so we got there early and walked around the vendor tables while sipping on local craft beers. Along the way, we ran across a vendor that refinished old furniture finds from The Fan district in Richmond. I saw a beautiful hutch stand piece (I have no idea how to describe it, sorry!) that was painted in a beautiful shade of mustard that would work perfectly as a bar cabinet. I put some money down and they said they would deliver it on Wednesday, but they haven’t called or emailed yet. I can’t wait to set everything up and show you my bar, so I do hope they bring it!
- I bought Michael Pollan’s new book Cooked that comes out today. It made me want to join a book club for culinarians, but I don’t think I have time for that. Are you in a book club?
- I have a goal on my 101 in 1001 list to attend a yoga class. Unfortunately, I threw out my old and dingy yoga mat when I cleaned out the hall closet a couple of weeks ago. In order to encourage myself to meet my goal, I bought a new yoga mat and yoga strap. This may sound a little silly, but new workout gear inspires me.
- The next goal I wanted to mention is one that I have been working on for a long time: get my teeth straightened! I have had Invisalign braces for almost a year and it’s so fun to see the progress I’m making. I don’t know if I’ll be finished with my braces by the 101 in 1001 deadline, but I’ll be very close, so I’m okay with that.
- I burned my chest making bacon on Sunday. Whoops.
- I am going to see Anthony Bourdain in his Guts & Glory tour tonight with a friend. I can’t wait!
- I made a delicious sweet tea that I will share with you soon. It’s really yummy.
- If I want to meet my 101 in 1001 goals, I will have to host a lot of parties, for example: host a fondue party, have a tea party, and host a murder mystery party.
- I didn’t forget about my Monthly Challenges, but I have been slacking on them. I will start again in May. Some of the challenges may overlap with the 101 in 1001 project. Is that okay?
- One of my 101 in 1001 goals is to cook my way through a cookbook. I should probably get started on that ASAP if I want to finish it before my September 2013 deadline, but I haven’t chosen a cookbook yet. I have some ideas, but I’m open to new suggestions as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts. What cookbook would you like to see me cook through?
Wow, the internet was a feast for the eyes this week! I found so many wonderful things that I want to share with you. I bought some fun things and I also got a million new ideas for dishes to make soon at home. I hope you’ll indulge me while I share these fun surprises.
First, I bought this beautiful round pet bed in yellow chevron stripes for my big puppy.
I finally purchased The Flavor Bible, which I’ve been wanting forever. Today, I just went for it.
When I have people over dinner, my menu planning goes exactly like this!
Want to see what 200 calories looks like? It’s really interesting.
I think I’m going to start following KTJ’s blog about her inspiring weight loss journey.
When I saw these cookies, I’m pretty sure I salivated. Like, a lot.
This a beautiful take on the old “hang plastic bags full of water to scare away flies” trick.
OMG what! I can spray paint a roast chicken in gold?
What’s with my sweet tooth this week? These look awesome.
I’m in love with this blog and her food photos.
I want to host a Mad Men party (It’s back! Yes!) and I want to serve this.
I admit that even though this blog is mostly about food, I am obsessed with beauty how-to videos on YouTube, my Beauty board on Pinterest, and owning a million different nail polish colors. This drives my boyfriend crazy because we live together and my nail polish and beauty supply collection has kind of taken over our tiny condo bathroom. Bless his heart, he humors me and lets me keep my goodies and has even gotten used to my monthly Birchbox arriving in the mail. All that said, there are some awesome gifts you can get for your like-minded beauty buff friends, girlfriends, sisters, and moms. Here are my top ten ideas, in all sorts of price ranges:
1) Beauty Store Gift Card: $10 and up
Okay, okay, I know. Gift cards are boring as all hell, but the thing with women who love beauty products is that they also love to shop for them. Or maybe they are more attached to their foundation than they are to their religion. A gift card gives your favorite beauty queen the opportunity to get lost in Ulta or Sephora for hours and decide what they need or want. For example, I really could use some new red lip gloss because Too Faced stopped carrying my perfect red color (seriously, this crisis has been on my mind for almost a year) and a gift card to Ulta would be just what I need to go spend some time trying on samples to find the perfect new red lip color.
2) Massage Envy Membership: $39 initial month and $59 per month after (may vary based on location)
The great thing about Massage Envy is that they are located everywhere, so you hopefully won’t have to worry about location being an issue. It’s not really a pampering spa like the local boutique, but they offer massages and facials and they get the job done. I think this is also a great gift for yourself this holiday. I love the holidays, but apparently they stress a lot of people out. Don’t let that build up in your shoulders; get a massage. Or, if you don’t want to commit to a membership, you can always purchase a gift card for the initial massage appointment. Your recipient will be grateful. I promise.
3) Upscale Spa Day: $99-516 (plus tax and gratuity)
I have had a spa day at the Red Door Spa in Short Pump once in my life (I won a $250 gift card at a company party) and I felt like a princess – a very relaxed princess. If you want to keep it budget-friendly or if you want to splurge, this is a fantastic gift for your loved one. The Red Door Spas offer spa day packages ranging from $99 (Time Saver Facial or Massage, Warm Cream Manicure, Makeup Refresher) to the indulgent extreme at $516 (Ultimate Arden Facial, Hot Stone Massage, Olive Oil Manicure, Olive Oil Pedicure, Shampoo, Blow Dry and Finish, Makeup Refresher, and Spa Lunch). My personal favorite is the Red Door Debut package at $246-294 and they even offer a spa day for men ranging from $258-285. See the Richmond, VA price list here.
4) Birchbox Subscription: $10 and up
For just $10 a month, you can sign your beauty lover up to receive a small gift box full of hand-selected beauty samples based on their preferences. It’s something I’ve been subscribed to for about a year and a bunch of my friends receive it as well. It’s a lot of fun to compare your samples and I love that I almost always receive a small sample perfume (my favorites so far have been Prada and something from Taylor Swift) that I carry in my purse or leave in my desk at work.
5) Soaps and lotions: $8.50 – $238
Depending on your budget, I have a few options. Bear with me:
- 5.1) Lafco Soap Set: $238 (or $17 each)
A complete set of 14 bath bars in all of LAFCO’s House & Home Bath Soap scents. The set includes, Cilantro Orange / Fresh Cut Gardenia / Rosemary Eucalyptus / Champagne / French Lilac / Duchess Peony / Feu de Bois / Marine / Sea and Dune / Chamomile Lavender / Redwood / Celery Thyme / Marseilles Fig / Daffodil. Plus, the packaging is fabulous.
- 5.2) Shisheido Honey Cakes: $8.50 each
Luxurious French-milled soaps made from honey to moisturize without drying out skin. These would make great stocking stuffers and when you buy them for your beauty lover, pick some up for me too, okay? Thanks!
- 5.3) Burt’s Bees Grab Bag: $25
Young or old, everyone under the sun loves Burt’s Bees products (except for vegans, don’t buy this for vegans!) and their lip balm is out of this world amazeballs. This is a great, limited time deal for the holidays and would make a great gift for a friend, mom, girlfriend, wife, niece, aunt, or even for your “White Elephant” gift exchange at work.
6) Jemma Kidd Makeup Secrets: Solutions to Every Woman’s Beauty Issues and Make-Up Dilemmas (Hardcover, 2012): $16.50
From Amazon.com: “Jemma Kidd’s philosophy is that makeup should be used cleverly and sparingly to bring out a woman’s natural beauty, enhancing her best features and disguising any perceived imperfections. In Jemma Kidd Make-Up Secrets, she shows you how. In Part 1: Making Makeup Work for You, Jemma demystifies the new wonder products in the market, and shows how to use and apply them. She demonstrates how to achieve a flawless complexion and bring out the best in every face shape, and how to make up eyes and lips depending on your face and eye shape, age, coloring, and overall style. In Part 2: The Problem Solver, Jemma addresses all the main beauty concerns of every woman—how to take care of your skin, how to look younger, how to keep your makeup up-to-date, and how to cope with environmental onslaughts like the damaging effects of the sun and cold weather.” (This is a follow-up to the Jemma Kidd Make-up Masterclass: Beauty Bible of Professional Techniques and Wearable Looks, $16.50. They would be great together as a set.)
7) Julep Favorite Things 2012 Nail Color Jewelry Box: $84 (with Promo Code OPRAH; normally $168)
Julep makes awesome nail polishes in beautiful colors. The company rocks because these polishes are toxin free! This set includes 12 gorgeous polishes that were hand-picked by Oprah and this set appears on her 2012 Favorite Things list. Also, a percentage of the proceeds is donated to organizations that support women through Julep’s Powered by Girlfriends program.
8) Sephora Color Daze Blockbuster Collection: $49.50
Imagine all the fun you could have on holidays, makeover nights, or at impromptu photo shoots with friends if you have this case full of 148 Hollywood-inspired formulas, finishes, and textures! Gimme, gimme!
9) T|Studio Pearl Ceramic Professional Styling Wand by Remington: $25
You can find this awesome clipless curling iron at Target, Ulta, WalMart, etc. I use it at least once a week and often it’s my go-to hair tool as opposed to the classic curling iron every woman owns. This styling wand from Remington creates natural looking curls and waves and gives you tons of control over your style. I get compliments all the time and some of my friends who have borrowed it have gone out to buy their own. It takes a little time to become an expert, but once your beauty queen masters the technique, she’ll be taking this styling wand with her everywhere. In fact, I used it this morning and got a nice, beachy wave in under 3 minutes. (Not joking!)
PS – In doing a little online research, it appears this is a popular gift. It is sold out a lot of places online, but I’ve seen it in Target recently.
10) Bare Minerals Get Started Kit:
Okay, so I don’t normally suggest buying someone actual makeup unless it’s a huge smorgasbord and you know they are going to use it to play with their look and dress up their friends (i.e. Gift #8). There is just something about choosing someone else’s colors that feels wrong to me, like I’m overstepping my boundaries. BUT, Bare Minerals came into my life a couple years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. I would buy the “Get Started Kit” for someone just to convert them into the crazy cult of Bare Minerals fanatics.
So there you have it – another easy peasy gift list. Anything I missed?