Gift Guide: Gifts for Him

Monday, November 20, 2017

I take gift giving very seriously. I have a detailed spreadsheet that I used to track gift ideas for everyone. The Excel file has columns for retail value and price paid so I can track how much I save every year. I start a new tab after Christmas each year and I now have data going back to 2014. After hearing that, I think you all understand why I work in finance. Anyway, I was going to post all of my gift guides next week, but I realized a lot of these items are on sale during Black Friday and you know I’m all about getting a good deal.

If you’re looking for a gift idea for that special guy in your life, I’m here to help you out! Some of these items are gifts I’ve given in the past and couple of these are what I’m gifting this year. The others are just items I think are really cool and things I think most guys would enjoy.

*This post contains some affiliate links. I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no additional cost to you.

1 | Beats Studio2 Wireless Over-the-Ear Headphones
Adam has wanted a pair of over-the-ear headphones pretty much as long as I’ve known him. This pair of Beats is normally $379, but they’re on sale during Black Friday for only $160 at Best Buy and Target! I would never pay $379 for headphones and I don’t think they are actually worth that much, but they’re definitely worth $160. Adam is going to be so excited to find these under the tree this year.

2 | Subscription Box
Subscription boxes are the gift that keeps giving! A 3-month gift subscription to Dollar Shave Club is $55 and the first box also includes their shave butter and shave cream. Or you can gift a “geeky” surprise with Loot Crate. It’s a little more expensive at $68 for 3 boxes, but the crates contain 4+ items from popular pop culture franchises and a t-shirt in every box. OR, treat him to a Birchbox Man subscription for only $30 for 3 months. The boxes contain hair care, skincare, and body care products (#treatyoself). You can see a whole list of subscription boxes for men here

3 | Water Bottle
An insulated water bottle is a must for everyone. Hydro Flask is definitely one of the most popular brands, but there are so many other options out there depending on your price range and needs. On Black Friday Dick’s Sporting Goods is offering 25% off Hydro Flask and Yeti brand water bottles. They are a little pricey normally, so that would be the perfect time to buy. I also like this Tree Tribe water bottle ($26). It has a lifetime warranty and they plant 10 trees for every sale!

4 | Duffle Bag
A duffle bag is something practical that he’ll be able to use for years. They’re perfect for weekend getaways or as a carry-on for longer trips. Adam’s current duffle bag is seriously in the worst shape. There’s a huge tear across the bottom and part of it is held together with duct tape. I bought him this one for Christmas and it arrived over the weekend. It looks really nice for the money. It's a little smaller than normal, but I knew that from the reviews and I think he'll really like the size.

5 | Personalized Distance Sign
This is such a fun gift idea for any sports fans in your life. The Travelsigns Etsy shop has pretty much every sports stadium in the United States to pick from, plus even some of the military bases, popular cities, and beaches. When you order a sign you provide your address and they calculate the driving distance. My dad is a huge Angels fan, so I’m thinking about ordering one for him for Christmas. The 12” x 8” sign is only $19.95 plus S&H (which is $4.95 for my zip code).

6 | Fitbit Charge 2
Last year Target had the Fitbit Flex on clearance for $40 so I bought one for me and one from Adam. I thought it would be a good way to try them out to see if we like them and actually wear them before investing in nicer ones. I’ve been really bad about wearing mine, but Adam still wears his pretty often. The Flex is super simple so it only has dots to show you how close you are to your step goal. I think Adam would really like upgrading to the Charge 2 so we can see his steps right on the Fitbit, plus it has heart rate monitor, phone notifications and a clock. The Charge 2 is normally $150, but is on sale for $100 at Target, Wal-Mart, and Kohl’s. If you buy it at Kohl’s, you’ll also get $30 in Kohl’s cash.

7 | Fleece Lined Flannel Shirt
OK, so this flannel shirt is a little pricey ($69), but it is SO nice. The quality is definitely worth the money. I bought one for my grandpa last year and one for my dad the year before that. They look so nice on and the fleece lining makes the shirt extra warm. I’ve never seen them much cheaper than that, but you can usually find a 20-25% LL Bean coupon and save a little money.

8 | Minimalist Card Holder Wallet
I bought this for Adam after seeing my friend Scott pull it out at lunch one day. Adam used to keep his cards/cash in a plastic pocket thing on his cell phone. It eventually ripped off so he just started carrying everything loose in his pockets. Anyway, Scott sent me the link to this wallet and I ordered it for Adam. It holds a few cards and a little cash while still being flat. He loves it (and so does Scott). Right now it’s on sale for $5 with free shipping (it would make a great stocking stuffer)! I also have to add that the wallet arrived with a handwritten note from the maker and I love supporting those kinds of businesses.

9 | Snack Basket
Gift baskets are such a good gift idea for someone hard to shop for. I love putting them together and they’re always a hit. I give my dad one pretty much every year and am planning to do another one this year. I like to fill his with snacks, so I usually buy jerky, nuts, rice crackers (he’s half Japanese), trail mix, dark chocolate, and whatever else catches my eye. I like to throw in one random, weird snack item for fun. Last year I bought a bag of durian chips (aka the worst smelling fruit in the world) and he thought it was hilarious. We all tried one and I don’t remember them being terrible, but not something I would want to eat more of.

10 | Tickets
Instead of buying things, consider buying an experience instead. You could gift tickets to a sporting event, upcoming concert, a play or musical, museum passes, food or drink festival - there are seriously endless options for this gift idea. If the event is a few months away, you could wrap the tickets with memorabilia, a CD, or something related that they can enjoy in the meantime. Oh, and movie tickets are a great stocking stuffer idea!

What are you buying for the men in your life this holiday season? I’m always looking for more ideas, so leave you gift suggestions in the comments!

Friday Five: November 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

One –Our Anniversary

On Wednesday Adam and I celebrated our two year anniversary! Adam and I met on Tinder (not everyone on there is a scumbag) and our first date was at the dog park. Looking back it’s fitting that our first date involved Ringo and Abby. Adam has been a great addition to all three of our lives (and now Jelly’s too).

To celebrate we went out for sushi, shared a piece of cake a home, and watched the season finale of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. For us, that’s a pretty perfect night.

Two –Stranger Things 2

We finished the second season of Stranger Things earlier this week and it was so good! I know everyone is talking about Stranger Things right now, but I just had to mention it. All of the characters are great and the story is so interesting. I think Hopper and Steve are my new favorite characters (of course Dustin too). If you haven’t seen the Twitter account Hopper Dancing To, you have to check it out! It’s so funny!

Three –Cutting the Cord

Speaking of TV, Adam and I cancelled our TV service (DIRECTV) a few weeks ago. I honestly thought it would never happen. Like I’m pretty sure I’ve said in the past that I would NEVER get rid of TV. But I did it and I honestly haven’t missed it that much. I do miss the background noise of just having the TV on, but I’m starting to get used to the quiet or I just listen to a podcast/music.

We already had Netflix, so we just added Hulu and HBO to watch the rest of our shows. Oh, and Adam wants to get the NBA package so he can watch basketball. Even adding the expensive NBA League Pass, we’re still saving SO much money a month. For our devices, we’re using a Fire Stick in the living room and a Roku Stick on the other TV and both have been fine so far. Our next step is to get an antenna to pick up the local channels. 

Four –Dirty John

If you like true crime podcasts, you have to listen to Dirty John. It’s SO interesting! The podcast starts with a Newport Beach assistant district attorney describing the stab wounds of a murder victim, but you don’t find out who was killed until the last episode.  It’s only six episodes, so it’s a pretty quick listen. The story is really well narrated and I loved hearing the interviews with the real people involved. Jacquelyn, the oldest daughter, is super feisty and by far my favorite. On the other hand, Debra’s mother is seriously the worst (besides John obviously). Anyway, it’s really good and you should listen to it.

Five –Marketplace 42

On Tuesday I went to the Holiday Blogger Boutique at Marketplace 42 and had such a great time. We painted wood ornament cutouts and it was so fun to try new paint products and see how everyone’s turned out. I’m pretty shy and not that social, so sometimes I have a hard time going to events like this, but everyone was SO nice. I had a lot of fun chatting with everyone…and of course shopping. I bought the cutest wooden star that would be perfect for Christmas, but also year around.

If you’re local to AZ, you should check out Marketplace 42. The shop is full of handmade items and home décor and the prices are really reasonable. They also host craft classes a couple times a week. Right now one of the crafts is a pallet tree trio that is seriously SO cute.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Anything fun planned? We’re going to a reading/Q&A/book signing with David Sedaris on Saturday (he’s Adam’s favorite author). Other than that, we’ll probably just do some work around the house before the madness of the holidays really kicks in.

Linking Up With:

One Day in Edinburgh, Scotland

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Yay! I’m so excited to finally start recapping our two week trip around Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland. We had such an amazing time! I have so much to talk about so I’m going to break it up into multiple posts. Today I’m just going to talk about our first stop – Edinburgh, Scotland!

Before I jump into the first day of our trip, I want to quickly talk about our trip as a whole. I guess the first thing to mention is that when I say we, I’m referring to my mom and me. We left the guys at home and took a girls trip! This was our third international adventure with just the two of us and we travel so well together. I do all of the planning and my mom just goes along with the plans (which works best for both of our personalities).

Four years ago we went to London and Paris and I planned and booked the entire trip. Two years ago we went to Italy with a tour company (Go Ahead Tours). I was against it at first, but we found a great company with the perfect itinerary and had the best time ever. So for this trip, we decided to travel with the same company. My mom is getting older (and had knee surgery a few years ago) so it’s really just easier for her on these long trips to not have to deal with the heavy luggage or run around catching different public transportation. I have to admit that it’s really nice not having to worry about any of the logistics.

Anyway, we took the Landscapes of Scotland and Ireland tour with Go Ahead Tours. That’s the same company we used for our Italy trip and we really enjoyed both trips (although the Italy tour was a little better). Our guide for the trip was Mansel and he did such a great job keeping everyone together and making sure we were all having a good time. Our bus driver in Ireland, Paddy, was the best ever…like I legit cried when he dropped us off at the airport. 

So officially we spent two full days in Edinburgh, but the first day was a travel day and we were zombies by the time we landed. We flew out of Phoenix Sunday morning and arrived in Edinburgh Monday morning. It was seriously the worst timing. We were so tired, but our room wasn’t available yet since it was only like 9:30 a.m. We went to get breakfast and I got this amazing bowl of porridge with plums, but I was so tired I couldn’t enjoy it. We tried to walk around a bit, but we just wanted a nap. Around 11 we went back to the hotel and practically begged the girl at the desk for a room. Luckily our room was ready and she was amazing so we were able to check in early. We spent the rest of the day napping before meeting our tour group for dinner.

OK, enough blabbing, let’s talk about our day exploring Edinburgh. We started the morning with a bus tour around the city with a local guide. We went through New Town, around Holyrood Park (that view!), and back through Old Town to Edinburgh Castle.

We went to Edinburgh Castle with our group and our guide took us through all of the gates to the front of the building where the Crown Jewels of Scotland are kept. From there we were free to explore the castle on our own and had the rest of the day to ourselves.

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress built on Castle Rock, which was formed after a volcano eruption 340 million years ago. Edinburgh Castle was built during the 12th century by David I. Because of its strategic location, the castle was almost always under siege (whoever held the castle held rule over Edinburgh and therefore all of Scotland). The castle bounced from English to Scottish rule for centuries during the Wars of Independence, the Lang Siege, and Jacobite Uprisings.

During the late 18th century – early 19th Edinburgh Castle was used to hold military prisoners, but became a national monument in 1815 after a mass prison break proved it could no longer hold prisoners. The castle was restored during the 19th and 20th centuries and is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland.

We spent about an hour after exploring Edinburgh Castle. We saw the Crown Jewels and visited the Scottish National War Memorial and St Margaret's Chapel.

We also visited The Great Hall, which was probably my favorite space. I loved all of the armor, weapons, and of course that giant fireplace!

The view of the city from the castle is amazing. You can see why it was so important to control the castle in order to rule the city.

After our visit to the castle we decided to do some shopping on Victoria Street and the Royal Mile on our way to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Victoria Street is easily accessed by the first roundabout from the castle (take Upper Bow and then take the stairs down to Victoria Street). Victoria Street is full of colorful buildings and small shops. The street (and adjacent Candlemaker Row) is thought to have been the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series.

We continued on to the Greyfriars Bobby Statue. The statue was built in memory of a terrier from the 19th century who supposedly spent 14 years guarding the grave of his owner. Rubbing his nose is supposed to bring you luck…you can see his nose has been rubbed a lot over the years. 

From there we walked back up to the Royal Mile for some shopping. There are a lot of touristy gift shops on the street, but there are also some cute, small shops too. We bought Christmas ornaments at a Christmas shop, some locally made lip balm and chocolate at another shop, and haggis flavored dog treats at another.

Once we made it down the Royal Mile we decided to explore the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The palace is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. It’s best known as the home of Mary, Queen of Scots during her short reign in the 16th century.

At the palace you can explore 14 of the rooms, the ruins of the 12th century abbey, and the royal gardens. The tour includes an audio guide of the rooms, but it’s mostly about Mary, Queen of Scots. She lived an interesting life, so the audio guide is definitely worth a listen.

Once we made it through all the rooms we headed to the abbey ruins. The abbey was founded in 1128 by King David I. According medieval legend, while hunting in the area, David saw a vision of a stag with a cross glowing between its antlers. He saw this as an act of God and declared that the abbey should be built in that spot.

The abbey was damaged throughout years of war and revolution. The roof eventually collapsed in 1768 and the abbey has been a roofless ruin since then. Restoration of the abbey has been proposed several times, but has always been rejected. I personally like how the ruins look and I think it would be a shame to restore it.

Once we were done exploring the Palace of Holyroodhouse we caught a cab back to our hotel to drop off our stuff and rest up a bit before dinner. We had steaks and prawns at McKirdy’s Steakhouse for dinner and it was the perfect way to end a fun day in Edinburgh.

I wish we would have had a couple more days to explore Edinburgh, but I feel like we made the most of our day. Hopefully someday I'll have a chance to go back and check out the rest of the city and sights!

Learning How to Macramé

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Disclaimer – I was provided products for review courtesy of Quarto. As always, I only promote products that I genuinely like and would use myself. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

I think that sometimes the hardest part of crafting is gathering the supplies. I swear I always forget something and each project requires at least two trips to the store. So when I was introduced to the idea of all-in-one crafting kits, I was definitely intrigued.

*This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no additional cost to you.

If you look at my craft board on Pinterest, you’ll notice that I’ve been pinning macramé projects for months. So it should be no surprise that one of the kits that I picked was a macramé kit. Modern Macramé includes step-by-step instructions, knot tying techniques, and all the supplies needed to create a mini plant hanger and mini wall hanging.

The mini plant hanger was super simple and quick to make. I love how it turned out! I can’t wait to make another using different color string and knot tying techniques. I feel like there are so many options for this kind of project. I just used a pot that I had in the shed, but I think it would look so great painted a fun color or some kind of pattern. Maybe I’ll work on that this weekend!

When I told my mom that I was learning how to macramé, she told me about taking a macramé class with my grandma in the 1970s. I don’t know why I find that so entertaining, but I love picturing my mom and grandma in a macramé class together. It’s true that everything comes back in style!

I also received Embroidery Designs: Modern Monogram. As the title suggests, this kit includes a step-by-step instructions, embroidery techniques/stitches, twelve patterns and a selection of lettering, plus all of the supplies needed to create your first embroidery project. I haven’t started this project yet, but I think it’ll be a great way to unwind at night while Adam watches basketball.

Both kits are available on Amazon and are currently under $20! Christmas is coming up (wait, what?!) and these kits would make great gifts for all ages and skill levels.

Modern Macrame: 10 Simple Projects to Enhance Your Home
Embroidery Designs: Modern Monogram

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