Jul 11

Gift Giving: In-Law

My in-laws are good folks.  They are honest, hardworking, selfless, loving, and remarkably patient with all of us.  They have four boys, a girl in the middle, three daughters-in-law, one son-in-law, two granddaughters, two grandsons (I should say 4.9, as my sister-in-law is due this summer), and two dogs.

Both my in-laws have worked in education for years, and as many of you know education is not a job you get to leave at the office when you head home for the day.  In addition to his full-time job at a high school, as a grandfather, and as a sweetie to my mother-in-law, my father-in-law (like my father) is also responsible for his church congregation.  But, despite their busy schedule, my in-laws recently made time to come visit Daniel and I here in Arkansas, and their visit got me thinking…


Sometimes I don’t go through the process I used to find a gift for Jen… Sometimes I hold onto my idea for the perfect gift until a gift-giving occasion rolls around.  And sometimes I come up with an excuse to give the perfect gift, for no occasion at all.  So, today I’m here you tell you about the most-recent time I knew exactly what I would buy months before the occasion rolled around.


Now, back to my in-laws… who, like my own parents, are are quite adept at growing edible stuff.  In addition to a large garden, they grow oranges, grapefruit, lemons, blackberries, and bananas.  Their yard stands out as a cool oasis in the middle of an otherwise dessert-ish Mesa, Arizona.  And, to match their green yard, my in-laws have some green habits.

Don’t go picturing a pair of 50ish hipsters–my in-laws are legitimately earth-conscious.  They are not in it to be trendy or to win fans, it’s who they are.  They’ve been in this nature-loving routine longer than I’ve been alive, and they know their stuff.

Arguably, their most-noticeable green habit is composting.  I say most-noticeable, because my father-in-law has historically kept an old plastic container (that originally held dishwasher detergent packets) on the counter next to their kitchen sink for items to be taken out to the compost bin.  And, as you can imagine, a clear container holding a few days worth of carrot shavings, lettuce bits, corn remnants, and old tomatoes isn’t exactly unnoticeable in an tidy kitchen.  Even with the lid closed tightly and no hint of a smell, it is not a pretty site.

So, after spending a month with them in 2010 and hearing a few conversations about the clever, although less-than-cute container, I had a pretty good idea what I’d be getting them for the next gift-giving occasion.

Idea #1 (& Only)

Brushed Stainless-Steel Compost Pail by Williams Sonoma


It was perfect.  It matched their appliances and their sink.  It was shiny (and not transparent).  The design included replaceable filters to prevent the natural stink of compost from doing its thing in the kitchen.  And, the best bit?  It was undeniably useful.  I knew it would  make my MIL happy and not seem unnecessary to my practical FIL.

The dimensions sounded a bit large.  It would likely be covered in fingerprints.  And I feared that, despite the filters, it would still stink.


Honestly, I never really made a decision.  My mind was made up as soon as I had the idea.  The hardest part was being patient enough to wait until the new year to give the combined gift, and hoping no one gave them one in the mean time.  I lucked out, and my patience paid off, because from what I hear, they both love it.  And, after our recent trip to Arizona, my fear of any escaping compost stench is cured.  So, with the three of us pleased, I’ll call it a success… and keep buying compost pail filters as a Mother’s Day gift for my MIL.

Jan 11

Gift Giving: Chef Jen the Seamstress

Birthday girl Jen, of Sweet Olivet and 12 Squared, is a talented gal and a kindred spirit.  She’s a friend to many, a sibling to three, a momma to two, and a sweetie to one.  She cooks delicious food, even when she thinks she’s just throwing something together.  She sews lovely things for her girls, her home, and sometimes just because.  She’s a clever game-lover who can make and take a joke, and she’s a powerful example to folks around her.

Both Jen and her sweetie, Dave, are strong people who know how to make good things happen.  I take no credit for my meeting them.  In fact, I am grateful my folks began a friendship with them long before Daniel and I were Daniel and I.  I am grateful we enjoy a similar friendship, and I am especially grateful Dave’s residency didn’t take them and their girlies any further away.

After perusing my bookmarked potential Jen gifts, and looking for a few new options, I’ve narrowed the list down to three:

Idea #1

Love Lives Cozy Here, 11×14 Poster Print by Grace Hester Designs


This is so true.  It hits at the heart of what Jen’s home is… the sort of place where I always feel relaxed and at home.  Seasons are welcomed with perfect touches and meaningful decor.  Conversation and laughter are common, and she has a kiddo who adds to the cosy with her love of cuddling.

Although it holds a special place in my heart, wall art is not especially personal.  I imagine this ditty hanging in her kiddos’ bathroom, but it’s not the sort of thing that would remind Jen we love her each time she saw it.  Nor would it feel special, and just for her.  Plus, none of the color choices (though plentiful) seem just right.  However, I do love combinations like honesuckyle and beige or vermillion and turquoise.

Idea #2

Champagne Necklace by Metalicious


Beautiful.  Peaceful.  Original.  The blue would go well with Jen’s unbelievable blue eyes.  I’ve never seen anything like it, so it has the feel of something special.

Symmetrical, with a fairly common overall shape.  The finish seems a more industrial than I believe Jen’s tastes include.  And the price is a bit beyond my budget.

Idea #3

Moriah by RachelleD


The necklace is so stunning, it deserves it’s own name.  The colors are consistent with Jen’s wardrobe, and I can’t stop thinking about delicate gray flower.  Although, I admit the bird trend isn’t my favorite, it’s enough unexpected (and understated) in this application that I don’t have a bad taste in my mouth.

The combination of motifs may not be up Jen’s alley.  And the piece may not be as lovely on, or in person, as it appears in a well-edited photograph.


I imagine my pro and con lists made quite plain my leaning… I ordered the Moriah necklace by RachelleD.  Although I’d been a bit worried about the actual product being as lovely as the photographs, I noticed RachelleD has 100% positive feedback and about 2600 sales.  That settled it.  I have no doubt Moriah will be a winner.

It’s been fun focusing on Jen and trying to pick something special, just for her.  I will let you know if all goes well with the gift.  And I’ll see you back here later in the month, when I share my next birthday shopping endeavor.

Sep 10

My Birthday Wish List 2010, part 2

Like I said yesterday, there are a lot of things I love.  So, I am back with round two… sans theme.

1 > Franken Heart by Markhed

2 > Love Angel by birdzNbeez

3 > Rib Cage with Heart by Markhed

4 > Paris french Stripe Masking Tape – 15mm from WonderlandRoom

5 > Perfect Alphabet Rolling Stamp from WonderlandRoom

6 > White Lace Deco Tape 15 mm from WonderlandRoom

Practical bits to come tomorrow…

Sep 10

My Birthday Wish List 2010, part 1

I’ve been asked by sweet people who love me, to put together a bit of a 26th birthday wish list.  Although I prefer to shop for others, as I struggle with this sort of thing (there are many things I love), this was a fun exercise.

To kick start my list I picked a theme.  Lucky for me, this was a simple task…  I thought through the last year and a theme became clear.  Hopefully it’s as obvious to you as it was to me.

Follow Your Heart by Farouche

With the year I’ve had, I appreciate the uplifting reminder .

The Science of Love by Morphologica

It’s beautiful, a bit confusing, and black.

Shake It Like A Polaroid Picture by Lollieland Delights

This quite accurately depicts the biggest lifestyle change I made this year.

States United, Letterpress by beauchamping

Sweet, simple, and stark.  I love black and white, and I love well-used white space.

Now, for a little slightly-related something I’ve just kept on wanting…

United Skull of America Poster by Skull-a-Day

Yes, please.

Or, if you are a frugal folk you could just pick up one of these.  They pretty much sum up my year…

This year has been speedy, beautiful, and encouraging.  My love to all.  Thank you for your love, prayers, and support.

PS If you can’t bring yourself to buy me something else black, or otherwise unnecessary… I love visitors, gift cards to clothing stores and restaurants, patterned dress socks, and cold, hard cash to go toward a master bedroom window that does not fall out of the frame when opened on lovely nights like tonight.

Jan 10

Morning (Manly) Morsel: World Series DVDs

I woke up this morning to a lovely snowfall and the rare, and therefor exciting, news that church was canceled. I am enjoying the extra time to visit with my grandparents who are here from California and Michigan… and, as I often do when I visit with friends and family, I am multitasking. This time I am shopping for next year’s Christmas gifts (don’t laugh, I have a system). And I think I’ve found a great one for Meijer.

Behold, the baseball lover’s dream:

The A&E Home Video Official World Series Film Collection DVD Set is Perfect for Meijer, his incredible memory, and the cold Michigan nights.  At $180 it’s a bit pricey, but my parents may be willing to go havsies with Mr. and me.

It’s officially “on the list.”

All images from A&E

Nov 09

Morning Morsel: A Lace Shopping Basket

I found this morning morsel, and thought of myself. And Sweats.  It’s beautiful, durable, and practical. (And it comes in black.)


What do you think?  It’s the Lace Shopping Basket from the Container Store?  Would you use it to shop, organize, or transport stuff?

Apr 09

To: Rich & Sweats… Happy Anniversary

This will be one of those “not much to say, you just got to look at ’em” posts…

It’s my parent’s anniversary and, although I don’t buy anniversary gifts, I do shop for them…

For Rich, I picked The NPR Map from the Blue Ribbon General Store.

NPR Map, Blue Ribbon General Store

For Sweats I’m going with a set of Wizard of OZ glasses, from Urban Outfitters.


And, if it were my anniversary, and I actually bought anniversary gifts… for myself… or anyone, I’d buy myself the Dinosaur Necklace, by Eden & Eden.

Dinosaur Necklace, by Eden & Eden

Oct 08

So They Say: It’s Wish List Time

PG and Raj are generous gifters.  Every year, since, well… since I can remember, my parents and I (and more recently Mr., my parents, and I) have been required to submit a wish list.  Lists are typically due by the end of September, although we get them to California by the first week of October (also known as birthday week for Sweats and I).  While working on this year’s list I referred to my 2007 Wish List and was reminded I made some wise choices in the home stuff department.

See for yourself:

As to Christmas List ’08, I initially thought about luggage, a few organization items, and some work clothes (to mature my wardrobe).  However, after more thought I remembered we have a lot of travel over the next few years, so I am tempted to focus on that.  It will be a nice outlet for my excitement.  Here’s what I’ve got so far:

No doubt I will discuss my additional selections here…

Sep 08

Happy Birthday to Little Reagan

I just became an aunt… To a little sweetie out in Arizona. She has wonderful parents with a strong sense of realistic style and I am so excited to send some lovely stuff their way.

I found the perfect gift back in March when we found out were going to have a niece or nephew. Now I am tempted to change my selection. I will keep you posted on my deliberations.