Unique Gift Ideas for Men And Women

February 6, 2017

Unique Gift Ideas for Men and Women

I don’t know about you, but I struggle when I’m shopping for gifts. I want to get something that’s unique and personal without breaking the bank. For me, gift giving isn’t only in December. Between Valentine’s Day in February, my husband’s birthday in April, my sister’s birthday in June and our wedding anniversary in July, I’m basically buying gifts all year long.

In case you forgot, Valentine’s Day is next week and although not all couples celebrate the holiday, it’s kind of a big one for us since it’s first time I ever spent time with my husband nine years ago this year! He invited me out to dinner with some friends from class and I confessed to our classmates that I had a crush on him. Afterwards I went back to my dorm room and added him on Facebook and our courtship commenced. I consider Valentine’s Day the start of something very special, so I love the celebrate it every year.

One of my favorite places to find unique gifts online is Uncommon Goods. Not only is the selection out of this world, they have a mission that I truly believe in. Any company that is socially responsible, sustainable, and works to give back tops the list in my book. I’ve worked to create a list of my favorite gifts from Uncommon Goods for Men and Women, but there are tons of awesome collections on their site like gifts for bridesmaids or groomsmen or gifts for a housewarming party and more.

Gifts for Men

Uncommon Goods Men

My husband, the history lover and geek guy, would love any of the history-inspired gifts from Uncommon Goods, including the Declaration of Independence Tie, the Constitution Glass or the Presidential Soap Collection. He’s also a huge fan of mojitos and has a weird fascination with drinking every beverage out of a mug. I hope this necktie holder would serve him well when he’s traveling for work, and also hope that this beard pack would encourage him to grow his beard out (which he knows I love…)

Banned Book Morph Mug – $12 / Constitution of the United States Glass – $13 / Presidential Soap Collection – $28 /
Mojito Mixology Set – $30 / 
Declaration of Independence Tie – $49 / State Quarter Ring – $75 /
Beard Pack – $40 / Shark Socks – $10 / Necktie Travel Roll – $ 24 

Gifts for Women

Uncommon Goods Women

I’m all about comfort, so this Sari Robe immediately caught my type on the website! I recently got a new pair of glasses so this glasses holder would be perfect on my nightstand, right along side the jewelry holder. Does anyone else constantly wear a hair tie on their wrist? I do all the time and this bracelet would be a lifesaver for me (and my sore wrist!) I save all of our ticket stubs for movies, plays and concerts, so this stub holder is an awesome way to store my collection.

Upcycled Cotton Sari Robe – $58 / Pedestal Jewelry Holder – $48 / Owl Eyeglasses Holder – $24 /
Seafoam Bar Earrings – $40 / Ticket Stub Diary – $12 / 
Hand Heart Desktop Sculpture – $48 /
Je T’Aime Necklace – $58 / Convertible Teal Netting Tote – $78 / Hair Tie Bracelet – $45 

Do you struggle with gift buying too? What do you look for in a gift?

*This post has been sponsored by Uncommon Goods but all opinions expressed are my own.*

Stuff + Things: Life Update

February 2, 2017

STUFF-THINGS

Oh hi. Remember me? It’s been a hot minute since I’ve been on the blog. Real life has been a little insane, but I just wanted to pop in and give y’all a bit of an update. I’m linking up for Stuff + Things since it’s kind of the easiest way to recap everything that’s going on!

1 – I’m applying to grad school! EEK. I’ve been looking at this program for years and now that I’m working at a university I have the opportunity to do the program through an employee education assistance program (meaning no more student debt. WOOT!) Of course since I’m not in the program yet I don’t want to bore you with the details but once I get that acceptance letter (fingers crossed) I will be sure to share more!

2 – Another exciting announcement: I’m now on board with Bliss Creative Services as the Director of Blogger Relations! It’s just a part time gig, but I’m so excited to work with Myra and Joey. I have admired these ladies for years and I’m so blessed to be able to work with them in a professional capacity! So if you’re a blogger in Charlotte or a business in Charlotte looking to connect with influencers in the area, I’m your girl. Hit me up!

3 – As if I didn’t have enough going on in my life, I’m also an officer for the Geek Girl Brunch in Charlotte. GGB is a meetup for geeky ladies to get together and chat about all our interests over yummy food and drink! If you’re a geeky girl in the greater Charlotte area, we would love for you to join us. We are planning our first brunch for mid-March and want you to be there! Trust us, it’s going to be awesome.

4 – We’ve been in our new home for a little over two months now and we have done so much! I’m not exactly the best interior designer but I think we’ve done a great job making this house our home. If you’re a photographer who can make my house look really pretty for blog pics…. let me know. ‘Cause I’m in serious need, haha.

5 – Nick and I are getting ready for the Academy Awards in just a few weeks and considered doing a two night Facebook live event discussing the awards and our predictions. Would y’all be interested in that? We have seen so many of the nominated films and have lots of opinions about them…

What’s been going on with you? Give me an update in the comments or leave a link to your latest blog post!

Thoughts on the Women’s March

January 23, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 10.32.15 AM

(photo by Betsy from the Women’s March in Washington on Saturday)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the Women’s March that took place this weekend. Due to poor planning on my part, I wasn’t able to attend a march, but have many friends who did so in cities all over the globe. I also have many friends who don’t understand why the marches occurred in the first place. Because of this, I wanted to write a short post about the marches and why they occurred.

Firstly, this wasn’t a protest. I’ve seen folks confused as to exactly what the women (and let’s not forget the men who attended) were protesting. In short, the march was a massive show to the new administration that women, minorities and the LGBTQIA community deserves equality and justice. (Read the unity principles for the March.) Due to comments made by our new president and many in his inner circle and cabinet, it seems like they will work their hardest to marginalize these groups. We want to make sure that they know we are here, and we are watching. On the first day of President Trump’s first term, we want to make this message very clear.

It wasn’t an pro-abortion rally either. I’ve seen so many people commenting on how they don’t agree with the march because they are anti-abortion. Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but the march was so much more than that. Not all of the marchers agree on every issue, and that’s okay. Also, any reports you see about this being a violent protest is completely incorrect. There were ZERO arrests at the march in Washington. NONE. It was a peaceful march and remained so during the duration. (source)

If you think there was nothing to march for in the first place, well friends, that’s what we call “privilege.” Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because it’s not a problem to you personally. (I can’t take credit for this wording, I saw it on Facebook on a sign from the march but is the perfect description.) Just because you don’t suffer from the issues these people are marching for, one day you may find yourself in a situation. Or not. But being able to empathize with these marchers and understand what they are marching for is so very important. I consider myself extremely lucky to have never felt marginalized because of the color of my skin but there are is a very large group of Americans who have to look over their shoulder daily and worry about the systematic racism in this country. What about the people who worry that their marriages will be revoked or that they may not be able to marry who they love one day? Or women who are afraid they won’t be able to afford healthcare or birth control? Take yourself out of your shoes for one second and think about what it would be like to be in their position. If your very existence was being threatened by our new president, it might feel pretty darn scary. (Again, don’t think it’s a problem? That’s your privilege showing.)

The right to assembly is guaranteed in the Constitution. Whether or not you agree with the message, you should respect the right of the marchers to do so. Plain and simple.

I believe America is a great country with so many opportunities, but we have so much more work to do and so much further to go.

(Since I was unable to attend a march, I’d like to direct you to my friends Bre and Jillian’s blogs for another perspective. If you would like to comment on this post, please know that any rude or disrespectful comments will be deleted.)

#TakeOutTakeout Challenge Reflection

January 19, 2017

TakeOutTakeout Challenge Reflection

Well guys, it’s been two weeks since I pledged to eat at home and not spend any money on eating out. I had a lot of people asking why I did the challenge in the first place. Most people would assume it was for my health since it is January and so many people are making resolutions to eat better and work out more. For us, that’s not exactly the point of this challenge. Sure, it’s a nice benefit, but the main idea behind the challenge for me was to save money. Also, forcing myself to cook and plan ahead was an excellent exercise and has really helped instill some habits in me that I hope last long past January and throughout 2017.

I recapped the first week and overall it went really well. I cheated once and got a free Starbucks drink but since I didn’t spend money on it I didn’t feel too bad about it.

Then Wednesday hit.

We had a bit of a crisis at the new house where our water faucet outside burst and water was everywhere. I was stressed and fell off the wagon with Zaxby’s for lunch. After that, we went off the rails almost completely and went out for lunch on Friday and Tuesday. Is that less than we had been previously eating out? Absolutely. So far in January we’ve spent only $224.24 on going out to eat (daily average of $7.23) compared to $867.26 in December (daily average of $27.98). So in that sense, we’ve been successful. But did we stick with the challenge 100%? No, but I’m happy with our results.

A couple of things to mention:

1. I have to come clean about something in an effort of full disclosure: Nick and I saw a couple of movies during this time and I did spend money on popcorn/soda at the theatre, but I consider that part of the movie experience, so we filed it under “entertainment” and not “restaurants” in our budget software. (We used “You Need a Budget” and a bill schedule excel spreadsheet that helps keep our finances in order.)

2. We ate a LOT of sandwiches. My husband is probably tired of peanut butter and jelly and I ate way more sandwiches than I have in recent history. There were some nights that I just didn’t feel like cooking, so we decided to do sandwiches instead. Typically when I’m tired or feeling lazy we would have ordered takeout, but forcing ourselves to eat at home really helped with this.

3. I have a bad habit of cooking meals that don’t produce a lot of leftovers, but when we did have leftovers, we actually ate them. I’m proud of us for doing that, since it’s typically not something we do.

4. Cooking so often also helped me to be better about keeping my kitchen clean. I do have a bad habit of letting dishes pile up sometimes, but having to cook with the tools so often forced me to do more loads of dishes. I appreciate that kick in the rear!

5. It was way harder than I thought it would be. Worth it? Yes, but still extremely hard. I spent almost every day craving something or trying to figure out ways to work the system and cheat. Call it a withdrawal from an addiction or whatever you want, but it was HARD.

I’ve had so many friends and readers who have been interested in trying this challenge, and I really encourage all of you to do it! It was a great exercise and I’m so happy I did it. If you do decide to participate, don’t forget to use the hashtag #TakeOutTakeout so I can track your experience with the challenge!

What do you think would be the hardest part of the challenge for you? What about the easiest?

 

Reflecting on the #TakeOutTakeout Challenge: Week 1

January 11, 2017

takeouttakeout-challenge-week-1

Well guys, it’s been one week on the #TakeOutTakeout challenge. (in case you missed my post, check it out here!) To say it would be hard is an understatement. As someone who goes out to eat a lot, not doing this for a whole week has been difficult yet so rewarding. I’m spending more time in our new kitchen, getting used to sticking to a meal plan, and most importantly: saving money.

1. I’ve wanted to buy food every. single. day. Seriously. I get cravings for things all the time. Got a text from Jersey Mike’s saying that it’s Double Points Day? I start craving a sub. See that Wendy’s has been doing some serious trolling on Twitter? Dying for a spicy chicken sandwich. The worst part? This Saturday (1/14) one of my favorite places opens in Charlotte, Potbelly. I have been waiting on a sandwich from them for a year. Guess I’ll be waiting another week. *sobs*

 

2. I cheated. I’ll just put it out there. Only once, but I did. On Monday, it was 12 degrees and my body was dying for a Starbucks hot chocolate. Fortunately I had acquired a reward for a free drink on my account last week so I used it. Technically I didn’t spend any money, but I did cheat. I don’t regret it. *shrug*

3. I really need to find breakfast foods I like. I’ve had a bagel with strawberry cream cheese at least four mornings. It’s fine, but it doesn’t necessarily fill me up nor is it the healthiest option out there. For someone who is very picky about breakfast foods (I don’t like eggs) this is really hard, y’all.

 

4. Dinners have been easier to cope with. I honestly haven’t minded cooking dinner every night. It’s nice to not have to leave the house after I get home from work. On the other hand, doing dishes SUCKS and I hate it. Thankfully Nick has helped me with them but really. I hate doing dishes.

5. Grocery store trips have been more frequent. On Sunday I made a trip to Trader Joe’s and Publix to get the week’s groceries and spent $64.91 and $50.13 respectively. I got all of my produce, canned goods, and a few other things at TJ’s while I saved Publix for my meats and a couple of random things they didn’t have at TJ’s. Also fresh chocolate chip cookies because whatever.

All in all, I’m really proud of us for getting through the first week. After the first couple of days, I wasn’t sure we could do it. I kept trying to make excuses about how I could cheat or work around the system. Even though it’s been really tough, I know that it will be worth it in the end. Just another week to go! Don’t forget to follow along on Twitter for daily updates using the hashtag #TakeOutTakeout.

Have you ever tried a challenge like this? What are your eating habits like?