Category Archives: Gift Ideas

Handmade, local, home-based, etc.: Shop Thoughtfully This Season

As we all get ready start another crazy shopping season, I’m starting to think a lot about how much I’ll spend on gifts this year as well as how I’ll spend my budget. While I realize that we all need to pinch our pennies, I think we also need to spend in order to get our country back to where it needs to be.  The answer is to spend thoughtfully.

I see a lot of pleding to shop handmade going on, and I love the idea, but I think it can be a little limiting.  I think we should remember local shops, home-based businesses and local services as well.  I mean, if you’re going to buy your mom some earrings, why not get some beautiful handmade ones or stop at a local boutique that will have unique styles?  And how many people do you know that sell Mary Kay, Lia Sophia or Pampered Chef?  Those would be awesome gifts!  And local services (massage, salon, theater/concert/comedy clubs, house cleaning, photography sessions, etc.) are a great way to let your pennies stay in the community and give really thoughtful, meaningful gifts that the recipient will love.

All of these – handmade shops, local shops, home-based businesses and local services are going to be more personal, more eager to build a relationship with you as a client, and be more unique than big-box gifts.  There’ll be a story behind that gift, and a face behind the product.  It will add heart and soul to what you’re gifting, even without the person knowing where it came from.

It’s kind of like cookies.  Even though ingredients are pretty much the same, you can always tell a homemade, local cookie from a factory/big box cookie.  It tastes better and seems like it has more to give than one pulled from a carton.

So I say pledge to shop thoughtfully.  You won’t be able to dash out at 10 p.m. on Dec. 24th and throw stuff in a cart (which I have to confess I did one year, but it was three weeks after my son was born), but you will probably end up with much more thoughtful gifts that your recipients will truly enjoy, because you put time and thought behind them.  And isn’t that the whole point of gift-giving?


Ruffly notebooks!

If I were still in my 20’s, I’d squeal.  I’m. in. love. with these ruffly notebooks.  Aren’t you?

These notebook covers (notebook included) are just too cute.  Beautiful prints, accented with a ruffle band and an elastic with matching tab to keep everything together, or be used as a bookmark.  These are padded and machine washable (you can press or steam the ruffle back into submission if it comes out wonky).  Fits a one-subject spiral notebook.  It might fit a three-subject notebook, but I didn’t have one handy to check.  It’s just a tad small for a five-subject notebook (the pages stick out by maybe 1/4 inch).  I love that you have a cute cover for a very inexpensive notebook that you can switch out once it’s done.

So, why a notebook?  So many uses:

1.  The obvious one – classes:  If you or someone you know are in school, wouldn’t this make going to class a little more fun?  Maybe pair it with a coordinating coffee cuff as a gift for that college girl on the go.

2. Journals:  Have you purchased a journal lately?  They are ridiculously expensive, and small.  This gives you the ability to have something cute, but switch out the notebooks as you fill them and have ample room to write your innermost thoughts.

3. New mom book:  Those first few months of a baby’s life are amazing, full of milestones that you can’t wait to add to your baby book.  But the baby book is not always handy.  I mean, you don’t want the baby book out where just anyone can mess it up, right?  So having a notebook around is good.  You can track feedings and diaper changes, write down milestones, and jot down those amazing ideas you get during 3 a.m. feedings that are absolutely ridiculous in the bright light of day.  Plus, if baby’s first smile ends up just being gas, you won’t have messed up the baby book.  Also? It will save you from 3 a.m. misspellings in the baby book. And since the covers are machine washable, it’s relatively safe to have around a baby.

4. Family Notes:  Most families I know seem to be on completely different time frames.  With parents working opposite shifts and kids on different school tracks and different activities, having a message center is a key to sanity in many homes.  The notebooks make it nice to leave out on a countertop, and you won’t have a junky message board. Also, if you need to leave papers or a check for another family member, it can easily tuck into the pages instead of tacking junk up to the wall (and you can leave a note, like “The $10 is for your books, not for a slurpee binge. Love, Mom.”)

5. Menu planning:  This is a great way to keep track of weekly menus and be able to flip back and see what you’ve made in the past so you know not to repeat too often, or find inspiration when you’ve served EasyMac three days in a row.

There are a few other uses, like a general idea book to keep track of your thoughts, ongoing to-do lists, or using it at work for all those b-o-r-i-n-g meetings that never seem to end.  At least you’ll have something nice to look at.

Coffee Cuffs!!!

I love these.  Coffee cuffs are what started off the teal magnolia.  I made one for a friend as a birthday present, and she asked me to make some as teacher gifts.  Someone else in our office like them as well, and also wanted teacher gifts…and the rest is…the teal magnolia!

Coffee cuffs take the place of the cardboard bands that you get at the coffeehouses that keep you from burning your hands.  But these are way cuter.  After an impromptu survey on Facebook, I decided to make cuffs that are a little larger than the coffeehouse ones – about four inches wide – but I can still make the regular size upon request. 🙂  They are fully padded so they’ll protect your hand from hot coffee.  I think they work better than the cardboard ones, but you will still feel the warmth from the coffee, which is part of the experience of drinking coffee.  They are reversible (usually a cool print on one side and a solid or more toned-down print on the other) and machine washable.

But wait! There’s more!  Hee hee! I’ve always wanted to do that.  I’ve found out that the cuffs are good for more than just hot coffee.  They fit most tapered cups that I’ve tried – soft drinks, plastic party cups, frappuccinos and…umm…yeah…pint glasses.  Now you can look even prettier when drinking beer with the guys!  The cool thing about using the cuffs on cold drinks is that they stop all that watery, drippy mess.

Plus, they just look good. The cuffs add a little bit of individuality and personality to your drink.  They make me smile.  😀

Pair a cuff with a coffee gift card, and you have an awesome gift.  Add a cute “Thanks A Latte” tag, and it’s a perfect way to show thanks to a teacher, sitter, hair stylist or anyone who makes your life a little better.

Camera Straps: New Product

When we were little, we used to make fun of my dad a little bit because he always carried a ton of camera equipment with him – tripods, extra lenses, that kind of thing. Little did we know that he was just ahead of his time.  It seems that everyone is carrying around a dSLR camera these days and all the accoutrement that goes along with them.

And with good reason.  I made the jump to my dSLR last November.  Having the super-fast shutter speed is a necessity to catch a good shot of my son/tornado.  Seriously.  He never stops.  And it’s not just me – everyone seems to have fancy-pants cameras these days, so why not accessorize and personalize them?

So, without further ado, here is my new product, camera straps!

Fully padded, 2.5 inches wide, 26 inches long.  Wide enough that you won’t want to shoot me when you’re trying to thread the camera strap through it, but narrow enough that it won’t be bulky. Machine wash (yay!).

But they’re not just cute. Last summer, I made myself a camera strap just in time for a little getaway to Charleston with my hubby.  I was so happy to have it.  It was one of those crazy hot/sticky weekends, and we were out in the sun pretty much all day.  And since Charleston is a gorgeous town, I did my best tourist impression and kept my camera out around my neck most of the time.  The strap made it comfy and kept my neck from getting sticky and itchy.

I absolutely love having a cover on my camera strap.  It helps me stand out a little and keeps me comfortable.  What more can a girl want?

PS – This would be such a good gift for someone who just got a dSLR…or maybe a little extra gift to go along with that camera that she’s been dying for!

New Product Ready!

Yay! I’m excited about moving from sewing items for fun, and having items ‘in stock’.  I feel so important typing that!

So, here it is – my first ‘in stock’ item:

Fun, beautiful fabric coasters.  These are made with gorgeous designer fabric and are lined with fleece so they’ll protect your table from heat and condensation.  Each one is different, and the backs have a coordinating patterned fabric.

They are great to have around, and not just in the home.  I’m a bit of a nerd and carry one with me all the time.  I just hate when restaurants give you those flimsy cocktail napkins that get all wet and leave bits of paper stuck to your glass, don’t you?  Plus, it’s easier to keep track of which drink is yours – it’s the one on the pretty coaster! Maybe it’s just me, but I swear it makes your Coke fizzier and your drinks stronger.  😉

Why else do I love these coasters? They make great presents!  A set of these is so perfect for a hostess gift, stocking stuffers, teacher gifts, neighbor gifts, party favors, gift exchanges…I’m sure there are a million other gift opportunities for these, but I can’t think of any at the moment.

I love the fabric on these, but it’s still early enough to order custom sets for the holidays.  Want to do school colors for a teacher? Your college colors for your old roommate?  Christmas fabric to make your celebration a little more festive? I’m on it!

Cost: $8 for set of 4.