A Year of Dates Gift

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Adam’s birthday was on Saturday and I feel like I totally nailed his present this year. It’s hard coming up with gift ideas with his birthday being so close to Christmas, but as soon as I saw this idea on Pinterest I knew it was perfect. So, what’s the great idea? A Year of Dates! 12 pre-planned and pre-paid (mostly) activities for a year! I mentioned in my gift guide posts that I love gifting experiences and not just things, so this was seriously the perfect idea.


I got the idea from Camille from Friday We’re in Love (although she credits Shannon with the idea). She’s been planning them for her husband since 2011, so she has a lot of great ideas on how to package them and of course lots of ideas for the actual dates. I really liked her binder idea from 2014, so that’s how I decided to make mine.



I have a lot of scrapbooking supplies gathering dust, so my goal was to only use what I had on hand and not buy any new supplies to put this gift together. I did have to buy the binder and sheet protectors, but that was my only cost (not including the gifts obviously). I’m pretty obsessive about details and my handwriting annoys me 85% of the time, but I decided to just get over it and write all of the pages by hand. If we’re being honest, I probably re-did half of the pages because I didn’t like how they turned out, but I do love how personal the pages look vs. printing them out.



For each month I described the date on the left page and then put any tickets, gift cards, details, etc. on the right side.



I thought coming up with that many dates was going to be tough, but once I really started researching and thinking of ideas, I came up with way more than 12. So once I had my list of dates, I had to narrow them down and match them with certain months. We live in Phoenix, so I didn’t want to plan anything outdoors from like May-October. I also wanted to stick with activities we’ve never done together.



I’m sure some of them are hard to read, so here’s a list of all of the dates:


December: Hot Air Balloon Ride
January: A Taste of Old Town Scottsdale Food Tour
February: Wrigley Mansion Tour + Lunch
March: Horseback Riding
April: Overnight Trip to Sedona
May: Museum Day + Lunch in Downtown Phoenix
June: Studio Movie Grill (Dinner + Movie)
July: Pizza Making Class
August: Dave & Buster’s Game Night
September: Escape Room
October: Sunset Pedal Boat at Tempe Town Lake + Dessert
November: Festival VIP Tickets
Bonus Home Date: Sushi Making


I tried to mix in a few expensive dates (hot air balloon ride, night in Sedona) with some cheaper ones. Our library has a culture pass program that gets you into certain museums for free, so April’s date will only cost me lunch. For the Dave & Buster’s date I used my credit card to get D&B gift cards, so that date is pretty much free. I also used my credit card points for a Groupon gift card to use toward Pizza Making Class and Escape Room Groupons.



This gift was perfect for Adam’s birthday, but would also make a great Christmas present or anniversary gift! It does take a bit of planning, but it’s actually a lot of fun to put together. I used a spreadsheet to I keep track of my ideas, sort them into months (and rearrange a 100 times), and list notes for what I needed to buy. If you want to make your own Year of Dates gift and need date ideas, I recommend checking out Camille’s blog, searching Groupon, and looking a local event calendars. I also put together a list of the ideas that I didn’t use this year…maybe next year!


Other Date Ideas:
Hiking and Brunch
Beer/Wine Tasting
Sporting Event
Glass Blowing
Fondue Night at Home
Hot Cocoa and a Christmas Movie (perfect for December)
At Home Taste Test – Try Strange Chocolate Flavors
Scavenger Hunt
Concert Tickets
Trampoline Park



We went on our first date last weekend (hot air balloon ride) and it was so much fun! I'm putting together a post with all the details for later this week!


A Day in the Highlands

Friday, December 8, 2017

I’m obsessed with Outlander and my mom likes to read those smutty historical romance novels about the Scottish clans, so a trip to the Highlands was a must for us while in Scotland. So for one of our free days in Edinburgh, we decided to book the Loch Ness, Glencoe, and Whisky tour with The Hairy Coo.


We took the £49 Loch Ness, Glencoe, and Whisky tour, but The Hairy Coo also offers a free tour! The tour doesn’t go to Glencoe or Loch Ness, but it does go to other areas of the Highlands. It’s all done off of tips, so it’s definitely a great option to get outside of the city. We really wanted to see Loch Ness and more of the Highlands though, so we picked the paid tour and I’m glad we did. It was such a long day and we spent a lot of time on the bus, but we had an amazing time. The scenery is so beautiful and we lucked out with perfect weather.


The first stop on the tour is the Deanston Whisky Distillery. I’m not really a whisky drinker, but when in Scotland…



The distillery tour was really interesting and the process reminded me a lot of the brewery tours I’ve been on before. Of course you end the tour with a whisky tasting. My mom and I paid for the extra sample because we were on vacation and that means it’s perfectly acceptable to drink whisky at 10 a.m.


After leaving the distillery our guide took us for a quick stop at Doune Castle. This wasn’t listed as part of the tour, so I don’t know if they always go there or not. If you’ve ever watched Outlander, it’s Castle Leoch in the show. We only had enough time to take a few pictures, but it was fun to see in person. Sadly, there were no Jamie Fraser sightings.

 
 
After our quick castle stop we hopped back on the bus and headed off to the Highlands. On the way we took a little detour and stopped to visit a few Highland cows aka hairy coos. This was seriously one of my favorite parts of the trip! THEY ARE SO CUTE! The shop offers a bag of treats to feed them for only £1 (I think) and it’s a must. I was seriously obsessed with them after this and like half of my souvenirs from that day are cow related.  

 


At about this point is when we crossed into the Highlands. We drove through hills and glens while our guide told us about clan history and the Massacre of Glencoe. We stopped of a quick picture break at the Three Sisters in Glencoe. This is where then panoramic setting on cameras comes in handy!



Finally after A LOT of driving we arrived at Fort Augustus and Loch Ness. There was an optional boat cruise of Loch Ness that I really wanted to do, but ended up skipping because it was windy and I get seasick. I think it would have been fun to search for Nessie by boat, but I really didn’t want to be sick on the long drive back to Edinburgh. Instead we had lunch at a lakeside restaurant and went to all of the little shops. 

 
 

Once we were all back on the bus we started our trek back to Edinburgh. We stopped a couple times along the way for a quick break to stretch our legs. One of the stops was at Pattack Falls. It’s a small waterfall only a short “hike” from the parking area. The waterfall isn’t much to see, but the wilderness surrounding it is beautiful.

 

Our last stop was in the small village of Pitlochry for a short bathroom and food break. I wish the stop would have been longer (and earlier because almost everything was closed) because the village had so many cute shops. Finally, about 12 hours later, we made it back to Edinburgh. It was a very full day and I was so over the bus by the time we got back, but we had such a great time. It was definitely worth the long day/bus ride to get out of the city and spend a day in the Highlands.



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2017 Gift Guides: Gifts for Dogs

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I’ve already posted gift guides for her and him, so today I’m sharing Christmas present ideas for the four-legged family members in your life. Do you give Christmas presents to your animals? We always did when I was growing up, so I still do it now. I have a couple friends that think it’s weird, but why wouldn’t I include my favorite fur nuggets in the Christmas fun?


We have three dogs and my parents have two, so I buy a lot of dog related Christmas presents every year. Pretty much all of the gifts ideas below are things I’ve bought in the past and are Ringo/Abby/Jelly approved or things I’m buying for them this year.


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


1 | Puzzles
This gift will totally depend on your dog – Ringo loves playing with the puzzles, but Abby really has no interest in them. I bought three different dog puzzle games when Ringo was younger and getting into a lot of mischief. It’s important to exercise their minds, not just their bodies, so these seemed like a good solution. He seriously loves them. The cup game pictured is his favorite, but we also have this kibble drop one and another that’s no longer available.


2 | Grain-Free Treats
Ringo used to get a lot of ear infections and one of the vet’s recommendations was to switch him to a grain-free diet. That was a few years ago when it wasn’t as easily available without spending a fortune. Now it’s so easy (and cheaper) to buy grain-free and I swear it has helped his ears. We still buy a few things that aren’t grain-free, but we really try to stick to it for him. These Blue Buffalo Wilderness treats are one of their favorites. They’re an add-on item, but all three flavors (duck, turkey, and salmon) are less than $4 a bag! If you’ve ever seen them in the store, you know that’s a killer deal!


3 | Toys, Duh!
Crinkle toys are always a hit in our house, especially with Jelly. She loves that noise, so I got her this hippo for Christmas. She likes dragging around long toys too, so she’ll love the length. Abby is a fan of stuffed toys, so I got her this KONG monkey. She’ll love carrying it around everywhere…until one of the other dogs destroys it. Ringo is obsessed with balls, so I got him this animal sounds babble ball. If you’re looking for a less noisy ball, this flashing ball is one of Ringo’s favorites. One of my parents’ dogs also has one and loves it. 


4 | “Rawhides”
Our dogs LOVE rawhides, but after watching a video on how they’re made, I don’t feel comfortable giving rawhides to them anymore. So now I only buy the rawhide-free chews. They’re more expensive (of course), but it’s worth the extra money for the sake of their health. We like the SmartSticks and DreamBone brands. I ordered a few different kinds on Black Friday, but I think these peanut butter ones are going to be the biggest hit.


5 | New Collar
This year I’m buying all of the dogs new collars for Christmas. Theirs are pretty worn and faded looking, so it’s time for a refresh. I ended up buying all of them on Etsy because they have the cutest selection and I love supporting handmade when possible. I ordered the one pictured for Ringo because we always joke that he’s part bear and call him Ringo bear all the time. I ordered Abby’s (teal and hot pink floral) from this shop, but it looks like they’re now closed for Christmas orders. Jelly is getting this purple leopard print collar because she’s our wild little woman.



6 | Wobble Wag Giggle Ball
I’m going to warn you now that this ball is the most annoying toy ever. So why am I recommending it? Because it was our foster dog Macey’s favorite toy ever. We pulled it out every time she needed a distraction and it worked like a charm. Honestly, she had so much fun with it, it was worth listening to the crazy noises it makes.


7 | Jerky Treats
I think all dogs love jerky treats. I bought this bag of grain-free turkey jerky for my parents’ dog Sadie for Christmas. I’m honestly thinking about buying an extra bag for us because it’s such a great deal right now. Amazon currently has it as an add-on item for $5! If you’ve ever bought grain-free jerky or Blue Buffalo Wilderness anything before, you know that’s a great price. I also bought this chicken and apple jerky a couple weeks ago when it was a daily deal and the dogs love it.


8 | BarkBox
Subscription boxes are the gift that keeps giving! BarkBox is a montly subscription box for dogs and each box includes at least 2 toys, 2 treats, and a chew. The boxes are always themed and they are so cute! We used to subscribe to BarkBox and they were so fun to get every month. Of course now Ringo thinks every box that comes in the mail is for him. You can use this link to get a free box with any multi-month plan!


9 | KONG Wet Wubba
It’s too cold for the dogs to get in the pool now, so they’d probably be mad about getting a toy they can’t really play with, but floating toys are always a favorite in our house. Ringo and Abby love to jump in the pool after toys, so they both love the wet wubba. Jelly doesn’t like to swim yet, but she likes standing on the step and stealing the toys as they bring them back, so she’s a fan too. We only let them play with it in the pool area, so it’s lasted two summers so far.


10 | Ball Launcher
I always see people with these at the dog park and I think they are so cool. They’d be the perfect gift for any dog who loves to chase balls…and it saves you from touching them when they’re all slobbery. Plus they are great for anyone who has trouble bending down or shoulder issues…or just a weak throw like me.



What are your dog’s favorite toys and treats? I’m always looking for more ideas, so leave your suggestions in the comments!


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