A 31st Birthday Wish List

Whew! April has been a crazy month! My pop-up business opened in March and continued through mid-April, and then I went to the beach for a week. It was a wonderful month, and I was certainly glad for the rest at the end.

My birthday is in exactly one month, so I thought it might be fun to put together a wish list in case anyone else was wondering what to get the 30-something woman in their life for an upcoming birthday or Mother’s Day gift.

    1. KitchenAid Ceramic Mixer Bowl
  1. Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Eye Shadow Palette

  2. Kendra Scott Elisa Silver Pendant Necklace In Platinum Drusy

  3. Lunea Patterned Sneakers

  4. Folding Travel Mirror with Light

  5. Honey House Naturals Bee Bar

For my own mother, I ordered something a bit more personalized for her Mother’s Day gift to help her enjoy her morning coffee. I hope she enjoys it as much as I think she will!

Favorite Things Christmas Brunch

Merry week of Christmas! I hosted a Christmas favorite things brunch (ladies only!) over the weekend, and I wanted to share it with you before the holiday passes us by.

Menu:

Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.comFavorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.com

Decor:

I added a few new things to my Christmas dining room decor this year, such as my black Christmas tree.

Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.com Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.com Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.com Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.com Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.com

 

Favorite Things Game:

If you’ve never been to a favorite things party, I highly recommend hosting one. The premise is simple, you bring a pair of your favorite things at a certain price point. The two people who draw your name each receives one of your favorite things. Each person leaves with two, new favorite things!

I set our price point at $15, which was challenging in a fun way. I chose two faux fur blankets as my favorite thing to bring. However the majority of the women in my family chose to bring a snowman as evidenced by the photo below. Ha! I received the trio of snowmen (far right) and one of the largest snowmen made from corn husks (second from the left). The two smallest snowmen below are from an adorable snowman nativity.

Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.com

 

(Linking up to Between Naps on the Porch.)

All I Want for Christmas 2014

I’ve bought and wrapped the gifts for our family and friends, so now it’s time to share my Christmas wish list! Below are a few of the items I’m hoping St. Nick brings my way.

1. A Heated Blanket

A heated blanket with duel-tem controls would be so nice for those extra chilly nights. I’ll be honest, I’ve been tempted to order this a few times as the temperatures drop ever cooler.

2. Michael Kors Watch

Nothing makes me feel more polished for my very corporate day job than a nice watch. I already have a couple by Michael Kors, but I would love to have a watch with a silver band. This versatile piece not only plays well with office attire, but would also be cute for the weekend.

3. “You’ve Got It Made”

This cookbook has 4.5 stars on Amazon, and with a tagline that reads “make now & bake later,” what’s not to love? I love freezer cooking, and I’m looking forward to adding some new recipes to my arsenal.

4. Dior Addict Lip Glow

This has been on my wish list for quite some time. I can’t wait to try it, especially this time of year when we all need a little extra lip protection!

5. Industrial Lamp

This super cute, industrial lamp is just what I need to finish off a little space I’ve been working on in the office!

That’s what’s on my list this year. What’s on yours?

5 Tips for a Simpler Holiday Season

Sometimes it seems like the holiday season is one endless to-do list. While I love to-do lists as much as the next gal, sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy the moment rather than worrying about what the next 15 moments should look like. Today, I’m sharing with you five steps I’m taking towards enjoying a simpler holiday season this year.

1. Purchase Gifts Early

I always begin Christmas shopping as soon as possible. This year, I actually began the day after Christmas LAST YEAR with all of the post-Christmas sales. Click here to read more about how and why I shop early.

Early Purchased Christmas Gifts at BetweenWeekdays.com

 

I’m happy to report that my Christmas shopping is DONE! And, as an added bonus, all of the gifts are already wrapped. I’m so happy to have this checked off of my to-do list for the holiday season.

2. Tried & True Recipes & Meal Planning

If you’re like us, you host multiple holiday meals at your home. The one thing I’ve learned over the years is to only prepare dishes you know. This is not the time to try out that recipe you tore from that magazine two years ago. Trust me: I know.

When it comes to holiday meal prep, I’ve learned that simpler is better. When planning your menu, stick to dishes you’ve cooked before (whether they’re special holiday dishes or everyday staples.) If there’s a new dish you’ve been saving for Christmas, try it out a few weeks in advance. You’ll either love it and add it to your meal, or you’ll be glad you didn’t try to prepare it on a special (and busy) day.

I’ve also learned it’s best to plan your meals well in advance. I like to write out all of the events we have scheduled and then plan dishes accordingly. Having it all planned out ensures that I have all the serving dishes I need on hand for each event and that I don’t forget grocery store ingredients. I add the menu plans and grocery store list to my Christmas binder.

3. Easy Decor

I never stress about decorating my house for the holidays. I have two bins of Christmas decor in addition to what we need to decorate our Christmas tree stored in the attic. I use the same decorations each year, and I use all of our decorations each year. I love our Christmas decorations, but I’m not overwhelmed with more than I can handle; simple is best.

5 Tips for a Simpler Holiday Season

 

Plus, having all black and white Christmas decor, keeps me from over-shopping on extra things I don’t need each year. Finding black and white during a time of red and green is difficult, which makes the items I have even more special since they’re usually one of a kind.

4. Make Clean Up Easy

Let’s face it: hosting holiday parties can be messy from all the food preparing, eating and gift unwrapping. Here’s a few ways I make clean up a breeze:

  1. Ask guest to bring dishes. Hosting a potluck party cuts down on the number of pots and pans you’re left to clean.
  2. Use paper products. Simply throwing away paper plates at the end of a meal is way better than standing at the sink for hours cleaning up plates. We use paper plates, cups and napkins for large get-togethers. However, real utensils are always appreciated by guests.
  3. Keep large trash bags handy for unwrapping gifts. While I’m sure my cat would love endless piles of gift wrap, I’m happier trashing it as soon as possible.

5. Accept That There Will Be Stress

While the holidays are great fun, you must accept that you will experience some stress at some point. I know that we’ll hit the roads at 10 a.m. on Christmas Eve and not return home until 1 or 2 a.m. Christmas morning. I will inevitably forget something, and we will probably be late to at least one event. But, that’s ok.

One of my favorite bloggers recently wrote an article about this very thing: It’s OK if Your Holidays Aren’t Totally Stress Free and Simple.

The holidays are NOT about being perfect, they’re a time to celebrate the love of Christ and family, and that’s precisely what I intend to do this year. How do you keep your holidays simple?

Thank You Cookie Tin & Freezer-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

When a family friend of ours recently offered to install a new window for us for free, I knew I wanted to make something special for him to say thank you. I decided to put together a tin of frozen chocolate chip cookie dough with a surprise inside for him to take home.

If you’re constantly needing easy-to-assemble, homemade gifts for someone special, this is the perfect gift!

You’ll Need:

  • A cookie tin
  • Frozen chocolate chip cookie dough balls (recipe below)
  • Tissue paper
  • Thank you card
  • Gift card (if desired)

Cookie Tin Supplies at BetweenWeekdays.com

Cookie Tin Assembly

To assemble your cookie tin, you’ll need to first make your chocolate chip cookie dough (recipe below). Instead of baking the cookies, roll them into balls to freeze. I use a small ice cream scoop for this. When you’re freezing them, lay them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet for a few hours in the freezer.

Once your dough is frozen, add some tissue paper to the bottom of your tin and top with the frozen cookie dough balls. Place your gift card inside a thank you card and print the baking instructions on the outside of the envelope. That way the recipient won’t know there is a gift card inside until they get home. It’s a fun surprise! (You could always print the baking instructions on a note card if you want to omit the gift card.)

Thank You Cookie Tin at BetweenWeekdays.com2

Just be sure to let remind the recipient to place the cookie dough into an airtight freezer bag if they won’t be baking all of the dough immediately. You could even place a freezer bag below the dough (but above the tissue paper) with freezing and baking instructions written on it.

What have you been gifting lately? You know I’ve already got one eye on Christmas gifts!

Freezer-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Ingredients:

  •  2/3 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (12 ounce) package chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Cream shortening, butter and sugars in large mixing bowl; blend in eggs and vanilla.
  2. Combine dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Mix until well blended.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop by rounded teaspoon onto un-greased baking sheets for baking or freezing.
  5. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes until golden brown; or freeze until firm. If freezing, place frozen cookie dough balls into an airtight plastic bag for future use. Increase baking time to 12 minutes for frozen dough.

Thank You Cookie Tin at BetweenWeekdays.com

p.s. Be sure to check in next week for a post each day on one of my favorite subjects: gardening!

GardenWeek at BetweenWeekdays.com

 

I’m linking up to TDC’s Before and After party!

Christmas in July 2013

Every year in July, I take a day to sort through all the Christmas gifts I’ve already bought (hello after Christmas sales!) and get a game plan together for the gifts I have left to purchase. I thought it might be fun t0 blog about my process this year in case someone else out there likes to start early. I can’t be the only one, right?

Christmas in July at BetweenWeekdays.com
If preparing for Christmas in July sounds like utter madness to you, I understand. A few years I would have agreed with you. However, I’ve found planning ahead to be extremely helpful.

Why I organize Christmas gifts in July:

  1. We buy for a lot of people each year: six parents, two siblings and their wives, various gift exchange parties, a nephew, two (new this year!) nieces and one set of grandparents. I want to ensure that each person (big or small) receives the perfect gift each year, and to do that, I need to plan ahead. Not only to stretch out the budget, but also because I like to take the time to ensure each person receives the perfect gift(s). 
  2. I start buying Christmas gifts the day after Christmas each year and continue buying gifts throughout the year. If I didn’t stop mid-year to sort through everything, I might accidentally over shop for one person and under shop for another leaving my budget a wreck and me stressed at the last minute.
  3. Gifts are a big part of Christmas for us. We love being able to shower our family with them each year, but if I left all of the gift purchasing to the last minute, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the season as thoroughly as I would otherwise. When the gifts are purchased, I can spend the holiday focusing on spending time with family, decorating the house and baking Christmas treats. 

My Christmas Binder

A couple of years ago I created a Christmas binder to keep track of purchased gifts and receipts. Since then I’ve used it faithfully to keep me organized. This year I finally found the perfect gift planner printable from Liz at Life in Yellow. Our parents get their own pages, but everyone else neatly fits on this little sheet.

Gift Buying Checklist used by BetweenWeekdays.com

I keep a pocket for receipts in the front of the binder, and, later, I’ll add other pages for organizing things like menus and special dates.

At this stage of my holiday planning, it’s most important for me to list what I’ve bought so far for each person along with the dollar amount spent. We’ve allocated a set amount to spend on each person, so totaling up what we’ve spent so far helps me know where the rest of the gifting budget should be spent. For instance, I have more left to spent on my Mom than I do on my step-dad (see below).

Gift Planning at BetweenWeekdays.com

Christmas in July 2013

I’ve focused a lot of efforts on purchasing Christmas gifts early this year, so I had a lot to sort through!

Early Purchased Christmas Gifts at BetweenWeekdays.com

Some items had already been boxed (just behind my Christmas binder in the photo) for wrapping. Each box had a piece of paper taped to it with the recipient’s name, what the gift was and the dollar amount. Everything else had to be sorted through and labeled appropriately.

Once all of the gifts were sorted and boxed, gift wrapping commenced. It makes sense for me to go ahead and wrap the early-bought Christmas gifts since I’m already sorting through everything. Plus, it saves me from having to wrap everything in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

I decided to tackle this major project in the back guest bedroom in case I wasn’t able to complete it all in one day. That way I could just close the door on this mess.

Christmas in July Mess at BetweenWeekdays.com

Luckily, I was able to finish in a day. Winter was a huge help, naturally.

Christmas in July Winter Cat at BetweenWeekdays.com

Once everything was wrapped, I tucked it all into the top of the back guest bedroom closet. No one will stumble across the gifts there, and even if they did, they’re all wrapped up. I’ll keep the Christmas binder in my desk, so that I can easily access it for online shopping throughout the rest of the year.

I’m so happy to have this much of my Christmas to-do list checked off. I’ve still got plenty of shopping left to do — more than half, actually — but at least now I not only have a game plan but also a large portion of my gifts purchased and wrapped.

Merry Christmas in July!

 

I’m linking up to TDC’s Before and After Party!

Baby Shower Entertainment for a 5 Year Old (I Hope)

Since the baby shower I’ve been planning for the past month is coed and for both the mom’s and dad’s families, my 5-year-old nephew will also be in attendance. If the weather is nice, he’ll hopefully be able to play outside quite a bit. The shower is a drop-in shower from 2—5 p.m., which I’m guessing is a long time for a 5 year old to be without toys, video games or television in a strange house.

Plus, this baby shower is for his sister. He’s been an only child for five years, so an afternoon dedicated solely to baby talk and baby presents might make him sad that he’s not the baby anymore. I’m guessing.

So, I got my shop on and put together a gift basket/activity kit just for him!

GiftBasketforBoys

What’s in the gift basket you ask?

  • Avengers Tattoos
  • Avengers Notebook
  • Madagascar 3 Coloring Book
  • Robot Stickers
  • Empty Composition Book
  • Avengers Candy
  • Pixx Stix
  • Play Doh
  • Silly Putty
  • Oreos
  • Rice Krispies Treats
  • Lolly Pops
  • Spider-Man Crayons
  • Avengers Puzzle
  • Handheld Puzzle
  • Jelly Beans

Most of the items (including the basket) came from the Dollar Tree. Everything else was purchased for $1 or $2, so this cute little gift was around $20. I added his name to the front with some vinyl I already had.

Here’s hoping this keeps him occupied for at least a little while!

Want to read more posts about the baby shower? Click any link below to read more!

Baby Shower Gifts

A Baby Shower Menu

Drop-In Baby Shower Games

Pretty in Pink [and zebra] Baby Shower

Baby Shower Entertainment for a 5 Year Old (I Hope)

Baby Shower: T-Minus 11 Days

Baby Shower Decor: How To Make A Tutu Wreath

Crafting a Hot Pink and Zebra Baby Shower Corsage

Getting the House Ready

Planning a Baby Shower

A Wish List

I have a wish list board on Pinterest. Who doesn’t? So, today, I thought I’d share five things from my wish list that I’m currently coveting, and I also may be writing a letter to a certain jolly fellow who lives at the North Pole. Just kidding… I think.

  1. Harry Potter Coffee Mug
    This mug is magical. Literally. When you put a hot beverage in the mug, the text transforms to “Mischief Managed.” I don’t even drink coffee, and I think I need this. If you want to buy one for yourself, click here.

  2. Dior Addict Lip Glow

    This is a sheer balm that enhances your natural lip color while moisturizing. According to Sephora’s website, the balm is “formulated with color reviver technology, this silky lipstick reacts with the chemistry of your lips to create a special shade that will last all day.” Sign me up. Check it out here.

  3. Cuisinart Mix-It-In Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker

    I’m a huge lover of soft-serve ice cream, but I’m not a big fan of leaving my house to find soft serve ice cream. It’s a dilemma. But I think this handy little contraption would solve all of my problems. Click here to order one for yourself so you’ll never have to leave your house again either.

  4. Birchbox

    Have you heard of Birchbox? It’s a monthly service that delivers beauty and lifestyle samples directly to you every month. The best part is that it only costs $10 each month. I can’t believe I haven’t signed up yet. To sign yourself up, click here.

  5.  The iPhone Photo Printer

    I love this gadget. It’s as small as a box of tissues and it’s smart. It works without software directly from a free app on your phone. This is something I think anyone with an iPhone should add to their wish list immediately. Click here to do just that.

Yard Sale Finds

Lately my BFF has introduced me to the word of shopping at yard sales. I’m no stranger to hosting yard sales, so it’s been very interesting to see things from another perspective.

My family and I always have at least one yard sale every year, so I came to the game knowing a few tricks of the trade that I was able to apply to shopping yard sales. My self-imposed rules are pretty straight forward when it comes to shopping at yard sales.

  1. Only shop at yard sales in good areas of town. Duh.
  2.  Don’t buy clothes if they are soiled, full of holes, or something you’ll never wear.
  3. If someone has taken the time to arrange things neatly, show some respect and don’t make a mess.
  4. Don’t buy something that cannot be repaired or cleaned.
  5. Just because it’s only a quarter, doesn’t mean you need it. Only buy things you need.

I returned home from my latest yard sale shopping adventure with a pretty good haul, if I do say so myself.

All of the clothes above were only 25¢. Moving clockwise in the top left corner, is a Duck Head shirt I bought for Travis. He’s really in to short sleeve, button-up shirts right now. Next is a New Directions shirt for me. It’s a little too big, but big, slouchy shirts seem to still be in style at the moment, so I’m ok with it. Plus, it’s super comfortable. The pale pink shirt is by Elle and is one of my current favorite shirts to wear. I actually wore it just this week on a fun date with the husband. The last shirt is a super cute cardigan from American Eagle. It has a really fun glitter stripe that runs through it. I can’t wait for cooler weather to finally arrive so I can break this out of the closet! I also bought my Dad a shirt (not pictured) for $2 to replace an identical one he already owns that was falling apart.

I found the Christmas items above at an estate sale. The baskets were only a quarter each, and I think they’ll be great for Christmas gift baskets full of homemade goodies. The crocheted angel was a special find. It’s obvious that she was carefully hand crafted. I’m toying with the idea of spraying her white, but I’m just not sure I want to take away from her original beauty. Even if I leave her as is, it was still a dollar well spent.

My next great finds came from across town. I love milk glass, but, unfortunately, I only have three pieces including the two above. The seller originally wanted $2 a piece for these, but when I put them down to walk away, she reduced the price to $1. I probably would have paid $2, but I couldn’t walk away from them at only $1 each. I can’t wait to decorate with them. I see so many possibilities for these beauties.

My last big find of the day was a Kate Spade purse! It was a bit of a yard sale splurge at $8, but its like-new condition convinced me to take it home. It had a knock-off wallet with it, but I plan to either donate it or sale it in my next yard sale.

I’m not entirely convinced the purse is an original, but the weight and details lead me to believe it’s the real deal.

Even if it’s not an original, I still love it, which makes it money well spent in my book. Plus, if I later decide I don’t like it anymore, I can always resale it at a yard sale for at least what I paid for it. Win, Win.

All totaled, I only spent $14.75. I daresay it would have cost considerably more to have purchased all of these items brand new. Plus, driving around with my bestie early Saturday morning with Starbucks drink in hand is always a fun way to spend the morning. I’m already looking forward to our next yard sale shopping adventure!

Working With What You’ve Got

We celebrated our nephew’s fourth birthday this past weekend. (Seriously, where does the time go?) With a little ingenuity, I made sure his gifts from us were the best dressed at the party.

I’m all for reducing clutter, but when I see something that could be repurposed, I tend to hold on to it slightly longer than I normally would. For example, read this post about a jam jar I couldn’t get rid of. It’s not something that happens often, but I’m always happy when I’m resourceful enough to give something new life.

Our nephew is obsessed with balls (as most young boys seem to be). Specifically, he’s obsessed with baseball. He joined a TBall team when he was 3 and was one of the few who didn’t need to bat off the tee. That’s right. Our 3-year-old nephew could regularly hit a ball pitched to him. He’s talented, and we couldn’t be more proud.

So, when I saw real wood bats that were customizable, I knew he had to have one. I didn’t care how much it might cost; it was going to belong to my nephew. In case you’re wondering, we found the bats at Dollywood where a gentleman was able to wood burn his name into the bat in a matter of a couple of hours.

To see bat product details, click here.

Like any good aunt and uncle, we realized he needed balls to go with his bat. So we spent weeks finding different balls (baseballs and practice baseballs included) to give him with his bat. We bought balls that were filled with glitter and balls that bounced really high and balls that bounced all over. You get the picture. He’s our only nephew, after all.

Eventually, I realized I was going to have to wrap a baseball bat and a plethora of balls. What a buzzkill this thought was. A simple gift bag wouldn’t do for our nephew. No way.

And then I had a eureka moment. Enter: empty ornament containers from Hobby Lobby.

Eureka!

I mentioned that I’ve been working on Christmas prep (read more here, here, herehere and here), so I had some containers left over. The cylindrical shape was perfect for housing balls and the baseball bat. And it was free!

The containers had some sticker residue on them, so I decided to cover one with foam shapes of different balls instead of wrapping it. I found the foam pieces at Michaels and hot glued them all over the cylinder. The husband then stacked all of the balls into the empty container and taped the lid back on. I added some ribbon and bows to make it even more festive. It was adorable and perfect for an energetic boy’s fourth birthday.

We ended up using two containers to house the wooden bat. We put the bat in one of the containers and then slid it into another container. Voila! Then we wrapped it like a Tootsie Roll and added red ribbons. (Sorry there are no pictures of the actual bat. I don’t think my nephew’s name should be seen here. I’m overprotective like that.) Once it was wrapped, it was impossible to know what was inside. Plus, it was ADORABLE!

I know my nephew is too young to appreciate the wrap job on his birthday presents, but it makes me feel good to give him something I’m proud of. Even though we don’t live close to him, I still want him to know how much we adore him.

I’m happy to report that he loved his presents. The balls were a huge hit with all of the kids at the party, and his parents adored the personalized baseball bat. (To see another personalized gift, click here.)

What have you been repurposing lately?

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