Saturday, December 31, 2011

The House is a Wreck and I'm Eating Chocolate Chip Cookies for Breakfast

I underestimated how much energy it would take to make and/or buy presents for 25 people, wrap said presents with a little pizazz, send out Holiday Cards with a hand-written message, pack for a mini-vacation, see all our families for Christmas, write thank-you cards and send time catching up with friends.

I'm learning. My husband and I kept saying "next year, we will...." We are learning what works for us and what doesn't.

Right now, I am beat. A wave of laundry has over-taken our bathroom. Boxes of presents cover every surface that the baby can't reach. The only thing in the fridge is some hummus. The dust-bunnies are waging a ruthless campaign across our floor.

Despite my best efforts no posting happened this week. I had grand plans of finishing off the "Giving Month" with posts on how to give to your community.

I wanted to take the baby to a retirement home. I wanted to make a meal at the Ronald MacDonald House in Fairfax. I wanted to make it out to the Buddhist Temple in Poolsville (founded by the first Western woman to be recognized in Tibetan Buddhism as a high-ranking lama) and join the monks there for their 24 hour Prayer Virgil for World Peace. I wanted to practice a "Random Act of Kindness" each day this week (donate blood, pick up trash in a neighborhood, deliver hand-made cookies to a firehouse). Lots of plans....none that happened this week.

What did happen is lots time with lots of friends we rarely see. A few met the baby for the first time. It was good. It was what the Holidays are about, right?

If you have a minute go check out the Ronald MacDonald House, the  KPC Temple and Random Acts of Kindness Foundation the Random Act - they are all doing good work. May it inspire you as we transition from one year to the next! Wishing you a Joyous New Year!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nine Months have Flown By!!!

Look at my big girl, trying to put on a good face. (You can't see her runny nose and puffy eyes). She's been a trooper with a cold that's been dragging on for 2 weeks. She's still a bundle of energy, though!

 I'm almost finished writing her Letter of the Month and will post it soon. First, I have to finish all those presents and start packing for a mini-trip (it's less than 20 miles away). We are renting out a historic cabin for Friday night and Christmas Eve. I'm looking forward to decorating the cabin, setting up a little tree, making cookies, reading Christmas stories, doing a little crafting, playing some board-games, listening to Christmas carols and getting creative with wrapping presents. No Internet, no T.V....just family and good old fashion fun. Wishing you much Light on this Winter Solistice and Much Joy during this Special Time!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gift Idea: Music Basket

Who would like this gift? A child between the ages of 4 months up to a preschooler.
What are you giving? A basket with musical instruments. Decide if you will include plastic or if you want everything to be made of natural materials.
When? I would leave a few days or so for collecting everything. If you do it online, you will have to pay extra for shipping (but if you are a procrastinator like me you are probably used to that reality).
Where? Use your imagination. At the bottom of the post, I will list where I found some of my instruments. Get your basket at a thrift store or yard sale (or you may even have one hanging around your house).  The Ten Thousand Villages in Old Town is an amazing place to find instruments especially interesting rattles.
Why is it a great gift? I’ve become a big music-and-baby advocate since we started our Music Together class. It’s phenomenal watching a small baby respond to music.
My experience?  I created a basket for my daughter using her baby rattles and a few other objects I found. I put the music basket out on her shelf (Montessori-style) and frequently change out the instruments. If it's not a good time for "music," the basket goes out of sight.
Lina loves to tote her music basket around the house when she hears music being played. Most of her Christmas presents are going to be music related. I ordered some new ones and can't wait to check them out when they arrive.

Here are some ideas...

Monday, December 19, 2011

New Mama Mondays: Meal Train

Lina at 4 Days Old

My husband and I were lucky (in a way) and didn't have to worry about cooking during the first few weeks of our baby's life (she was in the NICU for 16 days and we stayed at a Ronald MacDonald House where lovely volunteers fed us). But, if she hadn't had a bumpy beginning and we weren't doing the whole traditional-Indian-thing-of-living-with-your-parents, I would have loved Meal Train. I just read about the site in a parenting magazine and had to share.

Meal Train is a quick and simple way to organize meals for friends who have just had a new baby.  It's a portal where folks can see all the info needed to make dinner for the New Mama (food preferences, allergies, who is bringing what goodies on what day, etc...). The site sends you an email reminding you to get cooking! Best of all it's free. If you know someone about to have a new baby or maybe even someone who is dealing with an illness, let them pass on the info about this site.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

This Moment

Neti Pot Infection

It was 15 years ago when I first began using a neti pot. Whenever I get a cold, out it comes. It may not be the pleasant activity but it usually helps, especially with sinus infections.

I was horrified to read an article in Medical News Today about the 2nd death recently that has been linked to neti pot usage. I guess it's time to start boiling my water before irrigating my sinuses.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gift Idea: Ornament Date

Who would like this gift? A creative child or maybe a crafty friend who you rarely get to see.

What are you giving? It's the same idea as a Bead Date, except you make Christmas ornaments together. The bonus is that the child then has their own presents to give to people. I know when I was a kid, it always made me feel terrific when I had a gift to give to my family members.

When? Could be a last minute present but would need to be done at least a day before Christmas.

Where? The Blog-World is full of wonderful ideas for ornaments. Some of my favorite to make with children are here, here and here.

Why is it a great gift? Your gift is about spending time together with your Loved One making things and get into the Christmas Spirit together.

My experience? None. But the Bead Date when smashingly well and this idea is along the same vein.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Five Things Making Me Smile Right Now

1. I have an excuse for wearing the fascinator I made and can finally fit back into my one and only "little black dress" from my pre-baby days (only after 9 long months and many, many walks).

2. I can finally make it to my husband's work party (1st year there was a blizzard and 2nd year a family party).

3. I can relax knowing my baby is safe and happy playing with her grandparents (she may be having more fun than we will).

4. I am going on my 2nd date night this month with my husband.

5. I am going to celebrate tonight with my husband his unexpected promotion and raise!!!

I'm have a big grin on my face right now, can you hear it?  I am feeling very, very blessed and am full off gratitude..

Gift Idea: Personalized "Memory" Set

Who would like this gift? A child between the ages of 3-12.
What are you giving? The game Memory personalized with photos of them, their friends, their pets and their families. 
When? If you wait to the last minute, you'll have to pay extra in shipping, etc...but it can be done. If you make your own, you can wait until Christmas Eve, right?
Where? I used Printer's Studio but there are plenty of other places as well. Or if you have a good stash of craft supplies and photos, you could whip up your own set right at home.***
Why is it a great gift? What kid doesn't love Memory? It's a great family game and would be fun to play Christmas afternoon.   

My experience?  Even though it's been killing me, I haven't sneaked and opened up the package. From what I can tell it's a nice product. I'm not sharing photos of it because I want the present to be a surprise. I can't wait!

*** If I had more time and energy I would have made my own game. In the future, I'll try by using some chipboard, a utility knife, Mod Podge and photos (probably printed on cardstock). Fun, yes?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gift Idea: Soup of the Month Club

I don't know if you can tell but I am slightly obsessed with soup. I love making it, I love eating it and now I am thinking I may love giving it as a present. I have heard of people creating Cooking of the Month Clubs for their friends and families. I propose a Soup of the Month Club.

Who would like this gift? Foodies. Friends and family who enjoy homemade soup.
What are you giving? You promise to come to their house each month with a pot of homemade soup. They get a delicious home-cooked meal and get to spend some quality time with you while enjoying what you made.

When? Perfect last minute gift. All you need to do is make a coupon for them explaining your gift.
Where? There are plenty of great Soup cookbooks. My all-time favorite is Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special Recipes. There are plenty of cold soups to make during the warmer months. You can also always get some ideas from my Soup Series right here on my blog.

Why is it a great gift? The best part is that your loved one gets some built in time with you each month. It also doesn't hurt that it is easy to make a lot of soup. So, you can make a big pot, split it and keep some for a meal or two for yourself as well. Plus, soup is cheap to make!
My experience?  None. If you have good follow-through this would be a good gift for you to give. I don't know if I could pull this off but perhaps I'll try it next Christmas!

Thumbs Up Thursdays: Gift Wrap-Up (So Far)

Check out some of my ideas for gift-giving so far during this Month of Giving....

1. A Bead Date

2. Canvas Print

3. Gift of Experiences

4.World Market Retro Games

5. World Wildlife Fund Species Adoption Kit

6.Organizing a Gift Swapping Party

7. A Rubber Duckie and a Heifer International Gift

8. Christmas Time Capsule

9. Personalized Deck of Cards

10. A Reflections Book

11. Family Cookbook

12. Your Family's Tree Ornament Book

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Politics and Prose's Print-on-Demand Book Machine

My Mama LOVES to cut out newspaper articles to give to my sister and the handfuls. Every time I see her (at least 3 times a month), she gives me a mound of articles from the The Washington Post, The Frederick News Post and various magazines.

Yesterday, I read one of the articles from The Washington Post and was blown away. The independent bookstore, Politics Prose, just leased a print-on-demand book machine. If you have a digital file, it can print you out a paperback in less than 10 minutes. If the bookstore doesn't carry a book you want and it's still in print, the machine (nicknamed Opus) will print out a copy for you. You just pay the retail price of the book.

You can even now print "out-of-print" books for 8 bucks for the first 200 pages (just add 2 bucks per 100 pages after that)...can you hear me dancing in glee?

It's perfect for those of us who crave the physical nature of books and love to support local businesses. No need to buy a book through Amazon, you can just show up at Politics and Prose now.

And the best part is how Opus now opens up the world of self-publishing. Very, very exciting!!!

Perfect for those Last-Minute-Christmas-Present-Makin-Folks, right?

If you are in the NOVA/DC area and are a book-lover or writer, you should definitely go check it out...maybe I will see you there!

Gift Idea: Family Ornament Book

(My Mama's Tree in the Background)

Have I mentioned I need books like I need air? I am passionate about reading them and I am passionate about making them. During my four years at Mount Holyoke, I spent many hours in the printmaking studio using the printing press. I love the feel of paper in my hands. When I was at MICA taking some graduate classes, I had a tremendous amount of fun in my book-making class. While teaching in the classroom, I always tried to incorporate a little bit of paper-making madness into my lesson plans. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I often make books as presents.

Here's another idea that just popped into my head a few days ago...

Who would like this gift? A great present to an adult child or grandchild.

What are you giving? A book of photos of all your sentimental tree ornaments. Each photo is paired with an explanation of where you got your ornament, who gave it to you, etc...

When? Could be a last minute present, it depends where you make your book.

Where? I've been happy with the books I've made with Blurb. You could also use a three ring binder and make your own.

Why is it a great gift? Every year my mother tells my sister and I where she got each ornament. I remember some of them but it's impossible to remember the significance of each and every one. If your family tree is full of lots of home-made ornaments this is something that might resonate with your family. This book could become of the your Christmas tradition and would make a wonderful heirloom.

My experience? None. I told my mother about my idea and she loved it. When she takes down her tree this year, she's going to take photos of all the ornaments and we're going to make a book together.

What ornaments would you include in your family's book?

Wellness Wednesdays: Stinging Nettles

I spotted these little guys growing while on a walk. I haven't seen too many of them in the city, so I had to stop and take this picture.


When things settle down after the Holidays, I write a post on the wonderful ways Nettles can help you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Soup Series: Butternut Squash - Apple Soup

We just finished the last of the Butternut Squash - Apple Soup, I made in the slow cooker a few days ago. It took less than 10 minutes and was enjoyed by all. Even my Mother-in-law asked for seconds and she doesn't eat much non-Indian food. My husband liked the sweetest of it. The baby devoured it. I thought it wasn't the best soup I ever made but it sure was one of the easiest. 

I bought already peeled and chopped butternut squash from Trader Joe's, so that helped. The following recipe is from Slow Cooker Magic in Minutes...Enjoy!!!

  • 3 packages (12 oz) frozen cooked winter squash (I used one bag of fresh uncooked squash from Trader Joe's)
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) chicken broth (I made my own vegetable broth)
  • 1 medium Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced onions
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1. Combine all ingredients except cream in slow cooker. Cover; cook on HIGH for about 3 hours or on LOW about 6 hours.

2. Puree soup in blender, food processor or with electric mixer. (I used a blender after the soup was cool and added the cream in before blending). Stir in cream just before eating.

Nothing like soup on a brisk Winter day!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gift Idea: Family Cookbook

Who would like this gift? Family members.
What are you giving? Old family recipes scanned with old family photos and maybe some family history thrown in there.
When? Definitely a time-consuming process.
Where? I like Blurb but there are tons of other places too.
Why is it a great gift? It’s your family’s story written in food. How more perfect can you get? In case of a fire, I’m grabbing my baby and then I’m grabbing the Family Cookbook my mother made me.
My experience? My sister and I received our Family Cookbooks several Christmases ago. It is still hands down the best gift I have ever received. My mother made it at Staples. I'm sure it can be done a lot cheaper and faster, if you are comfortable with technology. Make sure to scan in lots of old photos, the original recipes (food stains and all) and your family china (if your family is into that kind of thing)'s a lovely addition.

(Photos of my Grandmother in the Kitchen in the 1940's)

(Original Recipes with Stains are the Best!)

(Our Easter China )

(Don't Forget to Include Photos of Kids in the Kitchen)

My second date with my husband was spent going through this makes this book even more precious to me. Have fun making a family heirloom and maybe it will even become part of your family lore!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gift Idea: A Reflection Book

Who would like this gift? Nice gift for a partner.
What are you giving? A book reviewing the past year together.
When? This is NOT a last minute gift. It’s gonna take some time, I’m not going to lie. But it’s completely worth it when your partner insists on taking it to your New Year’s party and showing it off to ALL his friends.
Where? I worked with Blurb and was happy with my service. They do quality work, although I was surprised by the size of the book. They clearly stated the dimensions, I should have realized it was going to be small. Blurb didn’t ship the book to me by Christmas, so I got it for free!
Why is it a great gift? It’s a forever kind of book. One that your grandchildren will look through and laugh at your funny clothes.

My experience? It was hard work but I was so very proud to be able to present it to my husband. I title the book "Home is Wherever I'm With You: Reflection on a Year Together" because Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero's Home  was our Introduction song at our Wedding. 

 I began the project by looking through my planner and Facebook and writing down 4-5 things that happened during every month.

Each month would begin with the words "January or March or July means...." and then I would think of ways to sum up what we did that month. For example, in April I made several test cakes for my friends' wedding. We ate a lot of carrot cake that month. So, I wrote "Carrot Cake Over-load" and then matched it with a photo of our wedding cake (see photo above).

Another example is in May. I wrote "May means....Mother's Day Success" and I paired it with a beautiful photo of our mothers hugging.
I tried matching photos to the different things we did each month but that became too time intensive (too many different cameras, etc..). I scraped that idea. Instead. I took all our wedding photos (I was in the middle of making wedding photo albums for family) and found relevant photos for each page. If you were married in the last few years, I'd definitely recommend this route.

I spent about 10 hours on this project. If you are more organized than I am and have all your photos on a site like Flickr or Picassa than it will probably take less time.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday: This Moment

This Moment....inspired by Soule Mama

Gift Idea: Personalized Deck of Cards

Who would like this gift? The sentimental poker player in your life (New Mama, New Daddy, Grandparent, etc...)
What are you giving? A personalized deck of cards.
When? This is NOT a last minute gift. I ordered the deck of cards on Black Friday (they offered free shipping that day). When I submitted the order, it was then mentioned that it might take up to 21 days to ship. Phew….glad I didn’t wait until the last minute like in years past. Our deck arrived by December 7th but you shouldn’t count on it.
Where? I got my deck through Printer's Studio but there are tons of companies to choose. Just find out shipping costs BEFORE because that is where they get you.
Why is it a great gift? Inexpensive (under $10) and sentimental
My experience? It took about 1 ½ hours to choose photos and set up. There are lots of new parents in my husband’s family and everyone is big into poker, so this was an obvious present for us to give. We haven’t opened the deck of cards but from what we can tell, the final product looks nice. I chose photos that the New Daddy had taken himself; I can't wait to see his reaction on Christmas.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gift Idea: Christmas Time Capsule

This idea was inspired by some of my daydreaming before my Baby Shower.

 Let me start by saying that my husband and I had a killer Baby Shower full of Beer, Men and Musical Chairs. * It was My husband is

I'm the sentimental one and I wanted everyone to write a letter to our daughter for her to open on each birthday. My idea was to randomly assign a year (age 5 for example) to each family and ask them to write a letter (using a template) telling her about what they remember about being 5, giving advice, expressing their wishes for her etc... On her fifth birthday, we would open the letter and read it together. It would be like the ultimate blast from the past.

Unfortunately, we had 100 people at the Shower and I just didn't have the energy to organize and explain everything. But, I'm thinking it would be a perfect 1st Birthday activity....or a beautiful Christmas gift....

Who would like this gift? It would be great for a baby or small child whose parents are overwhelmed by toys. 

What are you giving? The Christmas Time Capsule would be kept in a special box or suitcase. Each year, the child would open the envelope marked with their current age. Inside would be a letter written by a family member or friend explaining their favorite Christmas traditions, the best present they ever received, the best present they ever gave, their favorite Christmas songs,their favorite Christmas food, anything they remember from being the child's current age, a photo or two, etc...

When? This would be a nice Christmas party activity or maybe even an after-Thanksgiving activity.
Where? The parents would store both the opened and unopened letters in a special box, vintage suitcase or trunk. 
Why is it a great gift? Free (except the cost of the paper or cards) and sentimental...the best kind of gift! As long as the parents made the process easy for their friends and family, I think most people would love to participate in lieu of a gift. I think writing a template where people can fill in things would be key. 

How priceless would it be to read a letter written by someone 10, 15 years before? I know I would have given anything to receive a letter like that from either of my grandmothers.

My experience? Ask me again in March after I have attempted this for Lina's 1st Birthday!!! Wish me Luck!!!

* A post will be forth-coming on how Beer, Men and Musical Chairs can really make a Baby shower

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Organizing a Gift Swapping Party

Seven or eight Decembers ago, I was preparing to move. I had just read the book Love Dharma and was inspired to become more "Zen" about my material belongings. So, I picked my favorite books and my favorite paintings and then opened up my apartment to my friends. They could take home anything they liked. We put every one's name in a basket and drew out each name to create an order to the "choosing." It was wild. It was one of the most freeing experiences of my life.

To this day, I smile every time I visit any of those friends and see how one of my belongings which I had already forgotten about is still being treasured by someone else. Pretty great stuff.

This experience gave me an idea for organizing a Gift Swap.

Who? Friends who aren't crazy about buying all their gifts at the mall.

What? Each person comes with several nice quality objects that they would like to give away. Unopened gifts that aren't your style would be perfect for this Swap. If you can, invite an artist or photographer (unframed art would work well, the person who takes the work home could then go to a thrift store and buy a frame).

1.Start by laying all the items out on a table.
2.Give everyone a few minutes to look through everything.
3. Put everyone's name in a hat and have the host draw out each name.
4.Write down the order and begin. Set a time limit.
5. Keep going until someone is uninterested in picking anything else, scratch off their name from the list and continue until there are no more names!
6. Box up the remaining items and donate them.
When? Probably in the beginning of December.

Where? Whoever has the biggest place or is centrally located.
Why is it a great idea? It's a win-win for everyone. 

My experience? Very, very rewarding. See above.

Gift Idea: World Wildlife Fund Species Adoption Kit

Who would like this gift? Animal lovers (young, old and in-between) 
What are you giving? An Adoption Kit from World Wildlife Fund.
When? I'm not sure how long it takes to receive the Adoption Kit in the mail...probably not a last minute gift.
Why is it a great gift? WWF is a wonderful organization that has spent the last 50 years fighting to save Earth's diversity of life. The $50 Adoption Kit is great because it comes with a cute stuffed animal (great for a gift for a kiddo) and adoption certificate and species information. The $25 Adoption Kit comes with the certificate and a photo of the species you donated to help. The $75 Bird and Birdhouse Adoption Kit would be a nice present for a parent or grandparent who is into birdwatching (isn't there one in every family???)....
My experience? I was told about this gift by the mother of a 10 year-old animal lover. It was a huge hit last Christmas in their house-hold and I've been inspired to possibly do an adoption kit for one of our family members.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gift Idea: World Market Retro Games

Who would like this gift? Kids of all ages.
What are you giving? Old Fashion Games (from the 1920'3-1950's...some even older)
When? This is a good last-minute gift.
Where? World Market (you can find them here if there isn't a World Market near you)
Why is it a great gift? It promotes families spending time together and it’s inexpensive. Perfect for a snowy, winter night!
My experience? I was amazed at the selection of Retro Games when I went to my local World Market in September. I took a mental note to hustle back there in December to pick up some Christmas presents.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Kilts Galore in Old Town!

These are the folks who can be thanked for the fantastic parade on Saturday in Old Town! My husband literally stumbled into it. Luckily, my mother was visiting and the four of us spontaneously joined the huge crowds viewing the festivities. We ended up having a lovely, lovely time; I can't wait until next year when we can actually be more organized and intentionally invite people to join us for the the Scottish ChristmasWeekend. Bagpipes and dogs....the baby had a blast!

Thanks to my Mommy, we have some photos to remember the day!

Soup Series: Three Cheese Broccoli Soup

I found this recipe at A Year of Slowing Cooking and it gets two-thumbs up from all three members of our family (including the 8 month-old). It took less than 10 minutes to make. Blending the soup after it has cooled is definitely the way to go! This soup is perfect for a family with a new baby and no time to cook!

--1 qt chicken broth (or vegetable)
--2 cups milk (I used 2% cow's)
--2 10 oz bags of frozen broccoli florets
--1/2 diced white onion
--1/2 t black pepper
--1/2 t kosher salt
--1/2 t ground nutmeg
--1 cup each of three different cheeses, I used jarlsberg, gruyere, and cheddar.

The Directions.

Mince the onion into really small pieces. I used my pampered chef chopper thingy. The onions are going to soften in the milk and the broth, and need to be quite small so you don't crunch on onion pieces when the soup is complete.

Add the onion to your crockpot, and top with the milk, broth, and spices. Stir in the two frozen bags of broccoli.

Cook on low for 7-9 hours, or on high for 4-6. The broth is done when the onion is cooked nicely.

20 minutes or so before serving, shred all the cheese you are going to use, and stir it in. The cheese will be stringy and will stick to the broccoli florets---that's okay!

Serve with your favorite rolls or drop biscuits.

New Mama Mondays: The Gift of Experiences

Who would like this gift? For a baby or child that has plenty of clothes and toys.

What are you giving? A class. For example: a music class, a dance class, infant massage class, swimming lessons, etc...

When? This is a good last-minute gift.

Where?  Here are a few options in NOVA....

Music Together in Northern VA
Small Talkers in Centreville offer a variety of classes.
Lil Omm has yoga for all ages!
The folks at the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington offer infant massage classes.

And, hopefully, in February I will be teaching some Mommy and Baby dance classes!!!

Why is it a great gift? It is not about more stuff. Either you or a parent takes the baby or child to these classes and gets to soak up their joy when they are having so much fun.

My experience? My father-in-law gifted my daughter with Music Together classes and it was one of the most presents EVER. Each week, my in-laws get to hear about her class (it's like the gift that keeps on giving). Plus, I am so very grateful because it gets us out of the house and is something to look forward to each week. Highly, highly recommend.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gift Idea: Canvas Print

This is the canvas I gave my Mama for her birthday

Who would like this gift? Pretty much anyone you are close to (probably not a good idea for a co-worker or acquaintance).
What are you giving? A photo that has been transferred to a stretched canvas, so that it looks more like a painting.
When? Order at least 3 weeks before you plan on giving this present.
Where? Ritz Camera has 50% sales once in a while. Like right now. Jump on it!
Why is it a great gift? Looks elegant and doesn’t require you spending extra money on a frame.
My experience? Fantastic.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thumbs Up Thursday: The Potomac Bead Company.... A Bead Date

I am picking The Potomac Bead Company as my place for today's Thumbs Up Thursdays. I am so lucky there is a bead store only blocks from my house (my wallets is grateful for the fact that I'm usually accompanied by a 28 inch whirlwind who loves to grab strings of beads, so the amount of time I spend there is severely limited). My gift idea for today is a Bead Date...

Who would like this gift? Anyone who is creative and likes jewelry-making or is interesting in learning about jewelry-making.
What are you giving? A coupon for a “Bead Date” with you and a certain amount of money you will pay for beads and supplies during your trip.
When? This is a good last-minute gift.

Where? At your local bead store.
Why is it a great gift? It encourages creativity and involves you spending time together.
My experience? We gave our 14 year-old cousin this gift last year. She redeemed it in January and we had tons of fun perusing the store and picking out beads. Definitely leave yourself several hours for this adventure because we ran out of time for her to string everything. She had a big smile on her face, so I think it was a success!

Farewell...The Gratitude Month....Hello...The Giving Month

Well, I did it. I may have bored everyone, but for the entire month of November, I was serious about remembering to feel gratitude.

When I was tired of picking up the millionth cheerio off the floor....I thought of what to add to my list. When I was feeling annoyed with my husband....I thought of what to add to my list. When I was feeling grumpy about being woken up 5 times at night....I thought of what to add to my list. Next November... I'll do something different than write a list every day, I promise.

Farewell, November...onto December. I'm so very excited about this month for several reasons; one of them is that has to do with this blog. I'm going to be sharing lots of my ideas on ways to give. I can't wait!

Some of my ideas include: a Bead Date, Heifer International, making your own Board Book, a personalized version of Memory, KIVA, organizing a Re-Gifting Party, a Family Cookbook, an All-Purpose Salve, and Creating a Christmas Letter Time Capsule. Not all my posts will be on stuff to give but on WAYS to give.
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