Uncommon Gifts

Like it or not, the gift giving season is officially upon us.

I like buying people gifts that they wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves, but would still use, like and fits their personality. There is nothing greater than watching someone you love open up a gift that you put a lot of thought and love into!

But because of this, buying gifts can be very tricky, and the pressure of finding the perfect gift can be very stressful. Especially when everyone seems to have everything they need or want!

One of my favorite things about this week, right before Thanksgiving, is seeing all of the sales and deals and gift guides out there. My blog reader is clogged with dozens of gift ideas for men, women, kids in all kinds of price ranges. And even though there are so many, I love looking through each one of them because maybe — just maybe! — I’ll find that perfect gift, or at least get an idea of what it may be.

I was recently contacted by Uncommon Goods to feature some of their products for christmas gift ideas, and thought I would share some unique gifts I found. I also like that many of the their items are hand-made and American-made.

Here are some of my favorites…

state bird and bloom

state birds and blooms pillow.

Brooklyn embroidery

DIY embroidered poster of the Brooklyn Bridge.

literary scarf

scarf for your literary friends.

beer towel

My brother in law would appreciate this beer towel.

around the world cuisine calendar

It would be neat to try a new cuisine each month next year, inspired by this calendar.

Scratch off map

I love this scratch off map! It would make me want to go to Russia, just to scratch off 1/4 of it. :)

fox clock

This fox clock would be sweet in a kids room.

  just married towel

Another tea towel, for the newlyweds :)Girafe bookends

I love a clever bookend.

ampersand cheese board

And a cheesy board.

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?
How do you do gifts with your family and friends?
Can you believe Christmas is one month away?

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Uncommon Goods, but obviously these opinions are all mine, and I support their mission to support and provide a platform for artists and designers, as half of what they sell is made by hand, and their involvement in the community. See more gifts under $25 and under $50.

Latest Obsession: Serial Podcast

serial podcast

Soon after sharing what podcasts I listen to, I saw Ira Glass on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and he shared that he was helping to produce a new podcast called Serial. It follows one true story over the course of a whole season.

One weekend in October I was taking a trip to Charlotte, so I decided to download the first three episodes and listen to help pass the time. WOW. I was hooked. It is such an interesting case, and the host, Sarah Koenig, is such a great storyteller.

Here’s the gist of the case, taken from the Serial website:

On January 13, 1999, a girl named Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared. A month later, her body turned up in a city park. She’d been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.

A new episode airs every Thursday morning, and I look forward to it like a TV show that ended on a cliffhanger.

Does anyone else listen to Serial? What’s your theory? Do you think Adnan did it? 

My thoughts: I really want to believe he is innocent… but then who else would have done it? And why? It all makes no sense, and I totally can relate to every single question and frustration the host voices. Ah! Can’t wait for the next episode.

November Goals

Oh, November. I have mixed emotions about this month — the one that begins in autumn and ends in winter. On the one hand — it’s chilly! and cozy! and I want to wear warm sweaters and boots every day! But on the other hand, the days get darker and shorter, and without any Christmas lights to brighten the darkness.

I always get sad when I say goodbye to daylight savings, so to remedy that this year I decided to change up my hours at work — coming in at 7:30 and leaving at 4:30. This will hopefully allow me more time at home during the daylight and less time stuck in traffic during the darkness. I also plan to write five things I’m grateful for every day this month, since the best medicine for a sad soul is to look around and recognize all of your blessings.

On to my monthly goals….

hello november

November Goals:

  • Vote!
  • Come up with a strategy for our yard (plant bulbs? bushes? privacy trees?)
  • Clean and vacuum my car (it’s so gross you guys)
  • Pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child
  • Enroll in benefits for 2015 at my job
  • Take a family pic and order Christmas cards
  • Get 75% of my Christmas shopping done!
  • Make a classic family Thanksgiving dish
  • Every day this month write down five things I’m grateful for

What are your goals this month? Does anyone else struggle with the time change?

PS – Need inspiration for monthly goals? See mine from November 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2009

Writing this series

writing this series

It’s October 31, which means it’s Halloween! And also the last day of my 31 Decisions I’m Glad I Made series. Huzzah!

I’ve been writing 31 days straight, and at the beginning of this month I wondered if writing this series would be a good decision.

The verdict?

Yep. Glad I decided to write and choose this topic.

Coming up with decisions and writing through each has helped me process some of the decisions I’m in the middle of making today. It also helped me get back into the swing and routine of blogging again.

I’m glad I decided on a template for the photos. I learned that when it comes to blogging, writing is the easy part. I can write all the live-long day, but the pressure of having a picture to each post adds a whole new level of stress. So having a set theme of a photo (my feet each day) took the pressure off exponentially. This 31-day series was so much less work than the other one I wrote two years ago because I didn’t have to create a graphic or think of a cool unique photo every day. Who knows, maybe all of my posts will have feet pictures moving forward.

Looking back through the month, I tried to categorize these decisions into buckets…

Decisions that were really easy to make:

Really hard to make:

Involved serious dedication and commitment:

Benefited my career:

Invested in my future:

Reevaluate how I spend my time:

Helped me learn:

Enriched my life:

Say YES to relationships:

If you want to see a full list of the decisions in order and with all of the shoes I wore this month, find it on this page. :)

And with that — this series is DONZO.*

Any questions? Comments? Is there anything moving forward you’d like me to write about? 

DECISIONS I'M GLAD I MADE GRAPHIC

*Not sure what donzo means? Watch this. :)

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