Uncommon Goods Gift Guide & Giveaway

March 3, 2015

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post.  However, all thoughts, opinions, ideas and favorites are my own.

uncommon goods gift guide

Just because Christmas is over doesn’t mean we don’t have to think about buying gifts for another 10 months.  Birthdays are a year-round affair and sometimes finding the right gift can be a challenge.  We all have those people in our lives who have everything (ahem…Dad).  What do you buy for the person who prefers to shop at Neiman Marcus?  Or the person who just goes ahead and buys what they want when they see it rather than hint around and wait for a birthday or holiday?  What about the person who likes tailored clothes or 100% cashmere?  Hard to buy for friends and family require a special shopping experience.  Someplace where you can find unique and creative gifts that they will appreciate and know you put thought into finding for them.

Enter Uncommon Goods.  You may have received their little catalog in the mail with all their fun, unique items.  I knew they had cool stuff but I what I didn’t know was what a cool company they are.  Half of what they sell is handmade; move over Etsy.  For those of you who prefer the “made in the USA” label, good news…a majority of their items are mad in the United States.  You can even take a tour of their artist studios should you ever find yourself in Brooklyn, NY.  How cool would that be?  Meeting the artists and seeing their work first hand before it hits the pages of the catalog?  Sign me up! Next time I’m in NYC I’ll make sure to add a tour of the Uncommon Goods studio to my itinerary.

This week I have been browsing their website, and oh my.  There is some seriously cool stuff here.  I’m really digging on this living wall planter. 

uncommon goods gift guide

If I tried to list all of the super cool birthday gift items here this post would get way too long.  Here are just a few of my favorites, but see the rest here.

uncommon goods gift guide

Birth month flower earrings

uncommon goods gift guide

ballpark blueprint

 

uncommon goods gift guide

aquafarm

 

There are also bookoos of personalized gift options.  Everything from subtle to obvious personalization.  See their selection here.

uncommon good gift guide

personalized big bother or big sister book

custom street puzzle

custom street map puzzle

anniversary wine box

customized anniversary wine box

uncommon goods gift guide

custom hometown map key ring

Now for the giveaway!

Enter for a chance to win a $75 gift card to Uncommon Goods!  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rise & Shine Feature

February 27, 2015

So this happened today…

rise and shine

I was asked by a PR company to plug some products on a local morning talk show Rise & Shine.  All of the products I talked about were for battling cold and flu season which was perfect timing because I really do have a cold right now.  I got to keep this kick ass humidifier for promoting it on the show.  Sweet.  4 years of blogging are finally paying off…in the way of high tech humidifiers, I’ll take it.

 

I’m kinda excited that I got to do this segment on Rise & Shine ever since the other show I was on, Oklahoma LIVE, was canceled.  So, if you are in Oklahoma and just so happen to watch Rise & Shine maybe you could do me a solid and tell them how much you absolutely loved seeing me on the show and can’t wait to see what else I can bring to talk about.

Light Someone’s Candle

February 24, 2015

light someones candle 

Recently I was hanging out with some blogger friends and we were talking about the thing that all of us had in common; blogging.  Blogging conversation always turns to how to get more followers, how to make money blogging, how to make it big, how to go viral; the usual struggles of the small blog life.  We were lamenting the fact that some big time bloggers don’t seem to care enough to help out the little guys or can’t be bothered with reaching out unless a paycheck is involved.  One of my partners in blogging crime said something to the effect of “lighting someone else’s candle won’t make yours any less bright”.  For some reason this hit me like a ton of bricks and has stuck with me.  I can’t control what other people are going to do or not do, but I can control my own actions and reactions.  I knew that I had to stop focusing on me and light someone else’s candle.

In blogging and in life everything can easily turn into “it’s all about me”.  This sentiment is fueled by our need for everything to happen right now thanks to our every shrinking attention span and ever increasing barrage of visual stimulation online and on TV.  We are so used to the instant gratification that social media provides that when we don’t have the desired number of “likes” we wonder what is wrong.  Last week I wrote a post that saw a lot of traffic (for me, anyway) and that was great, but this week I’m back to my normal (some would call them pitiful) numbers, and that’s just fine too.  It can’t all be about me all the time.  Another thing that happened last week was I found myself engaged with a bunch of other bloggers on Twitter through a fluke “reply all” email from a media company.  One of the bloggers has a pretty hefty following but took the time to engage with no-names like myself.  She gave me hope that not all big-time bloggers are snobs but rather just regular people who happen to have followers with the letter “k” after the number.  

Since meeting with my bloggy friends I have seen blogging success in a whole new light.  I have given up worrying about me and instead have turned my focus outward.  Rather than obsess over my own success, or lack thereof, I’ve been focusing on others.  The result: a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I continue to do my thing and pursue my goals but without the stress of waiting, wondering and wishing.  I trust that my time will come, even if it’s not as quickly as I would like or in the form that I had originally planned.

I want to make things around here more bright so I’m going to light some candles.  These are some blogs I’ve been crushing on lately.

 Marisa Mohi  Marisa is one of my new found bloggy friends and a kindred spirit.  She is a great writer and a contributor to The Lost Ogle (which is nothing to sneeze at).  She has a dry, witty sense of humor and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her in real life as well as online.

The Mom Cafe I have been crushing on Chris for a while now.  She writes about the ups and downs of parenting and how she leans on her faith to get her through the tough times.  I have had the pleasure of knowing Chris as an online friend for a couple of years and I’m thrilled that she recently got picked up by The Huffington Post.  

Mari Farthing  Mari is another blogger friend and my co-conspirator at Oklahoma Women Bloggers.  She and I have gotten to know each other as we work to build a community of women bloggers and I have loved getting to know her in real life and through her writing.

The OK Mamma Kelly is a blogger I recently discovered and am so glad I did.  There is something about her writing that really speaks to me.  She blogs about her family, parenting, faith, fashion, reviews, food, random stuff…pretty much things I blog about.  

Brene Brown – Brene certainly don’ts need me to light her candle, it’s pretty bright already.  However, I’m inspired by what she has to say.  She is the source of my inspiration for my word of the year “be brave” and the quote on the back of my business cards: “Courage: telling the story of who you are with your whole heart”.  

The Unlikely Farm Girl – Carol is brand new to blogging and needs some love.  She is chronicling her adventures living on a farm with her husband, 5 kids and menagerie of farm animals.  Lord help me if I ever have to raise 5 children and wrangle chickens too.

Why I Don’t Care If You See 50 Shades Of Grey

February 18, 2015

See it, don’t see it.  Who cares?

Yes, I read the books.  No, they were not literary masterpieces.  Yes, they were titilating. No, my moral fiber was not brought into question.

This week I read a funny little post from a woman listing 50 things she would rather do than go see 50 Shades of Grey.  They were cute, funny and witty.  However, she started the post off with how she returned the book after the first few chapters because it was so terribly written.  The fact that she didn’t even read it all the way through did not sit well with me.  Before you completely criticize something, know what you’re criticizing; first hand.  I read another anti-50 post and the opening argument was that film is art and that this movie was a far cry from art.  Wait, what?  Is the Spongebob Movie art?  Eyes Wide Shut was about sex and had a whole bunch of naked people in it but it was weird and artsy and directed by Stanley Kuberick so is that one okay?  Let’s be real here… The 50 Shades books are not going to win a Pulitzer.  It started out as Twilight fan fiction by some mom in the UK who wanted to read the hot and steamy version of Edward and Bella.  Who didn’t want to read the adult version?  Heck, not long after the books came out I was sitting around with a group of Mormon SAHMs who were fantasizing about what the honeymoon chapter would be like if it were in the romance section instead of YA.  What it comes down to is they were not that well written but people still liked them.  I’m not too snooty or high brow to admit that I read them.  That brings us to the movie.

Recently I have seen a few memes on FB encouraging people to boycott the movie and instead donate the cost of their ticket to a battered women’s shelter or to a charity fighting human sex trafficking.  I’m annoyed by this because it suggests that anybody who wants to go see the movie doesn’t care about domestic abuse or sex trafficking.  Christian organizations are using guilt and shame (surprise, surprise) as a tool to make people feel bad about something sexual.  My guess is that the people behind the boycotts have not read the books in their entirety and don’t know the story arch. Every few years the talking heads fire up the boycott band wagon for this or that movie, TV show, company, etc.   The end result is it gives said boycotted item even more press and attention than they would normally have received, peaking people’s interest and causing even more people to see it out of curiosity.  They haven’t figured out that in the entertainment business their motto is “there is no such thing as bad press”.  And how they pick and choose their movies to boycott baffles me.  Where is the outrage at gratuitous violent movies or violent video games that portray women as expendable hookers?

I’m sick and tired of some churches telling people how they should or should not feel about sex.  They are shaming anyone who enjoys sex in any way other than their prescribed positions and situations.  A huge group of Gen-Xers are now dealing with the repercussions of the “True Love Waits” movement.  They were told as teenagers that the most precious gift they could offer their husband was their virginity and if they gave it away before marriage then they were damaged goods.  Girls were told that a righteous man would not want to be with them if they slept around.  They were told that their boyfriends didn’t really respect them if they gave in to sex.  They were told that sexual behavior and activities were wrong and bad and that they should be ashamed and seek forgiveness if they had ever gone past first base.

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?  I absolutely hate that phrase.  First and most obvious, it compares women to cows.  But that’s just an expression.  Oh really?  This harkens back to a time when women really were treated and valued like cattle.  Bartered over like livestock and expected to know their place in the home and never question their husbands authority.  Unfortunately, there are women today who believe that their husbands have ultimate authority over them and final decisions should be left up to their man.  Sisters, that is not an equal partnership, that is a dictatorship.  The other thing I really hate about this statement is what it implies about relationships-  That the only thing men care about in a relationship is sex;  That the only reason they pursue a woman is to get in bed with her; And that the only reason to make a commitment to a woman is to have sex with her. The other thing this statement makes about relationships is that the only thing a woman can really bring to a relationship is her body;  That her most valuable asset is her vagina and that just as soon as a man conquers it then she is used up and not worth the effort to continue in the relationship.  I don’t know about you but there is a heck of a lot more to a marriage than sex and anyone who believes that all a woman can really bring to the table is sex should just invest in a really fancy blow up doll.  It will be a heck of a lot cheaper than a divorce.  An argument could be made that Christian Grey only sees Ana as a sexual object…unless you read that books to find out that he comes to realize he can’t control her and that he wants more from a relationship than what he has had in the past.

Flash forward 20 years and you have a whole generation of women who have a hard time enjoying sex with their husbands.  They were told for so long that sex was bad and then expected to flip a switch on the wedding night and have the time of their life.  A whole group of women who want to explore their sexuality with their husband but are too ashamed to venture outside the traditional.  The idea of bringing fun into the bedroom is for wild girls, not good Christian mothers.  They have been told that too much fun and feeling too good is dirty.

Do not misunderstand me.  I do not think that men and women should think one night stands are a good idea or friends with benefits won’t end in heartache.  Real life is not an HBO series.  I do not think teenagers should just run off and have sex with the first boy who looks their way.  Teenagers are not mentally or emotionally mature enough to handle such a relationship.  Heck, I think 16 is too young to drive a car for goodness sakes.  However, shaming boys and girls can be just as harmful.  It may push them into relationships they are not ready for and it may harm their relationships in the future.  Not giving them the right information to make these mature decisions can lead to disastrous consequences.

If people want to see it, fine.  If people don’t want to see it, that is absolutely fine too.  I get that this is not for everyone.  My mom can hardly watch Downton Abbey this season because of Mary’s indiscretions, I hardly expect her to rush to the theater.  Not everyone is expected to see or enjoy every single movie.  I had no interest in seeing Gigli but I don’t begrudge someone who did.  So, for whoever wants to see 50 Shades of Grey, I don’t think you’re a perv, I don’t think seeing makes you okay with domestic abuse and I don’t think you expect it to make AFI’s top 100 movies of all time.  See it or don’t see it, just make up your own mind why you will or won’t.  

How To Make Roux

February 15, 2015

how to make roux

You don’t have to have Cajun blood running through your veins to enjoy a good gumbo.  If you didn’t grow up eating Cajun food, the idea of cooking it can be a little intimidating.  Take heart, like most cooking, it just takes practice.  It also helps if you have a Cajun kitchen saint.  <– check her out, you can use mine.   Continue reading

Pagosa Dog Sled

February 10, 2015

A few weeks ago we went on a skiing trip with another family to Pagosa Springs, CO.  Going with another family worked out perfectly because I don’t ski and neither does other mommy.  This was the second year of skiing for our older boys and our little ones were content to play in the snow.  While the boys were on the slopes my friend and I treated ourselves and the littles to something unique.  Dog sledding.  We were pulled by a team of 12 dogs, 11 of them were Alaskan Malamutes and 1 Husky. If you can believe it, the Husky doesn’t have thick enough fur to protect her skin from the harness.  The Malamutes have crazy thick fur, thick enough to protect them in temperatures to up 60 below zero.  60 BELOW.  The Husky had to wear a little shirt to keep her skin from chaffing. After the tour we got to pet all of the dogs and even play with a puppy. Love and snuggles is their reward for a job well done.  All of these fab pics were taken by one of our mushers (is that the technical term?  I’m not sure).

The day of our tour was pretty warm, (high 30s) and almost too warm for these dogs who prefer zero and like 30 below even better.  The path was a little slushy and had a few very muddy spots.  I had a feeling of being in Narnia when winter starts melting.  But instead of reindeer and a creepy evil dwarf, we had happy dogs and two very friendly lady mushers.  There was no Turkish Delight.

The musher had certain calls to get the dogs to go, turn, stop.  She kept yelling “EVERYBODY!” and I imagined some of the dogs to be like “oh wait, what? you want everybody to pull?  Did you hear her? She wants…wait, was that a rabbit?”

pagosa dog sled Continue reading

eShakti Dress Review

February 6, 2015

I was compensated for this post. However, all thoughts, opinions, dress sizes and remarks are my own.

eShakti dress review

You know what I love? New clothes.  What gal doesn’t love a new frock now and then?  However, 95% of my wardrobe is from Target and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it’s nice to have a few things that don’t have a Merona tag. Target has great stuff and I often get compliments on my outfits from their clearance rack.  I find it amusing how they have added mannequins to the clothing section, like they are some sort of department store now…that also sells groceries…and diapers. So when a site offers to give me a free dress I will say yes in a New York minute.  I’m no dummy.  Continue reading

4th Grade Homework Will Be My Undoing

January 29, 2015

homework

Wits, allow me to introduce you to end.  You two should get along swimmingly, and try this straight jacket on for size.  I think you’ll find it quite comfortable.

This child and 4th grade homework will be the end of me, I’m sure of it.  Let me share with you what has transpired over the past several months to begin my demise.  Every 6 weeks we get a “missing homework report” of all the work that Addison has not turned in.  The first two times we got it we were firm with him, made him do his work and turn it in accompanied by a punishment something along the lines of; no screen time until you turn everything in.  This is met with gnashing of teeth and how unfair it all is and how the other kids don’t have to do this.  I assured him that it was not unfair, rather a torment of his own making. I also let him know that I could care less what the other kids are doing and whether or not their parents were making them turn in their work.  I am a benevolent dictator, not his buddy who will side with him on not doing work. Continue reading

The Blog Update

January 28, 2015

So yesterday I gave a bit of a recap of what is going on in real life.  After Dear Husband read it he said, That was great…and you didn’t even touch on half of what we were doing the past two months.  He was right.  There was a lot I didn’t mention including him getting the flu followed by his 80+ hour work week.  Amongst all of that the blog continued to plug forward.  It moved at a slower pace than usual but things continued behind the scenes, partly in thanks to my commitment to Be Brave.

Here is a very short recap of what has been happening in bloggyland.

granola recipe

A few weeks ago I met up with a few blogging friends at Natural Grocers in Oklahoma City.  I came away with a gift bag full of goodies and was inspired to make granola.  This granola is the bomb.  I’ve been munching on it all week and eating it w/ greek yogurt.  Find my recipe for it on the Oklahoma Women Bloggers blog. Continue reading

The Life Update

January 27, 2015

Last night Dear Husband and I sat down after the kids went to bed, looked at each other, and said I think this is the first time I’ve sat down since Thanksgiving.  Seriously folks, it has been crazy up in here.  Crazy enough for me to use the term cray-cray.  When I have to bust out the urban dictionary you know shit has been real.

So what has been going on?  Glad you asked, I’ll tell you.

Way back at the beginning of December I was the chair (as in “do what I say or I could snap”) of my Assistance League chapter’s biggest fund-raiser. It’s a hoity-toity event where we raise a lot of money that keeps our organization (which is all volunteer by the way) running.  We give 1600 kids in the public school system brand new clothes, provide care kits for assault victims, give stuffed animals to children being taken out of abusive/traumatic situations and put on a huge outdoor art fest for the community.

rent the runway

My friend on the left got her dress from Rent The Runway.  Don’t you love it? I’m totally doing that next year. Continue reading