Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas

DIY Glitter Rimmed Mason JarsDIY GLITTER RIMMED MASON JARS Made using old canning jars. Add an arrangement of flowers or even makeup (even paint) brushes for a complete gift.

I can assure you I’m not the craftiest person in the world, more stubborn than crafty but if I can make these gifts, so can you. We’ve got everything from decorative jars, to candles, to scrubs (both salt and sugar) to play dough for the kids to even a DIY mirror spruce up from that goodwill or garage sale find. You might even find you don’t want to give a few of these away and keep them for yourselves. They’re all budget friendly and like I said incredibly easy to make. A little time, a little glitter (because sparkle all the things) and you’ve got yourself a thoughtful gift to give for the holidays (or just because you want to make someone smile, there should be more of that in life.)

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Holiday Gift Guides – UncommonGoods

City Map Glass
Now that we’re all stuffed and working our way back into our regular clothes (please tell me I’m not the only one) it’s time to start thinking about the gifts we’re going to be giving over the holidays. I would love to tell you I’m one of those people that already have their shopping done and all my gifts wrapped but that’s SO far from the truth. I always wait until December to get started and I’m thankful that there are places like UncommonGoods where I can find things as unique as the people that I’m buying them for. My favorite rocks glasses came from UncommonGoods. I do enjoy a glass of bourbon and I like to drink it out of a glass as unique as my bourbon itself. The UncommonGoods CityMap Glass fits that bill. You can take a mental stroll through familiar streets with this rocks glass, etched with your city’s distinct grid. Grab a set of glasses, add a bottle of their favorite beverage and maybe even a set of the NeighborWOODS (yes, wood, they’re made from Cedar) map coasters and you’ve got the sipping aficionado on your list covered.

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Petco Pet Grooming


This blog post is part of a paid Megan Media and #PetcoGrooming blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

Charlie aka Chuck is our rescued Beagle Hound. He’s the most laid back dog on the planet until you open the back door and then it’s like he’s drank a gallon of energy drinks and off he goes into the woods to chase deer and squirrels and all the other animals that’s hell never ever catch. I do have to admire his persistence though. OR when it’s time for a trip to the vet or the groomer. Then he tucks tail and becomes a nervous Norman.

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Raleigh Area City Guide

Joyner ParkJoyner Park

Raleigh is a city with a lot going on at any given time. I’m sharing a few of my favorite places located in and around our Capital City of North Carolina for your entertainment pleasure. I’m a giver like that. Food, Drink, Parks, Shopping. Who doesn’t want in on that action? I mean come on.

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Celebrating Local Eats


Taco Al PastorDisclaimer: This post was sponsored by Pepcid through Mom It Forward.  All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I’m kinda a nut about tacos. I dig ’em. I especially dig those from my favorite local food truck. It’s ones of those gems that unless someone has told you about it, you might not even know about it. Lucky for you, I’m going to tell you about it so you can go, and invite me. Because I’m a giver and shared with you. Food trucks aren’t what they used to be boys and girls. No need to shy away from them. Food trucks are all the rage across ‘Merica and there’s a good reason why. Good eats. Good local eats to be exact.

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Have a Jolly Time

JOLLY TIME PopcornThis is a partnered campaign with JOLLY TIME Popcorn and Mom It Forward.

Whether you’re watching a movie or planning a family game night, popcorn is the perfect accompaniment. It’s quick, easy and almost everyone loves it. Pop a few bags in the microwave or go the stove top route with kernels and you’re good to go.

Want to add a little more oomph to your snack? Flavored butters are super simple and can be customized. Like it sweet, salty or savory, no problem. Melt your butter, add your flavor or choice and then drizzle it into your bag. Easy peasy.

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Turn Your Phone Photos into Moments

Roller Coaster

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Kodak Alaris as part of the Mom It Forward Blogger Network. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I’m one of those people that takes A LOT of photos with my phone. I’m always looking at this or that and capturing what, where and who catches my eye, usually driving everyone around me nuts because I’m holding things up (sorry not sorry y’all). I currently have over 3 thousand photos on my phone. Anyone else out there a phone shutterbug?

I think it’s important to document our moments, people, places and them share them. I didn’t really have a great way to share all my shutterbug love (without dumping a thousand photos onto my Instagram feed, y’all would have loved that) until I came across this easy to use app by Kodak Alaris. It organizes, shares and can even print your phone photos easily.

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Ready, Snack, Go!

Smithfield Ready Snack Go

I am one of those people that has to have snacks on me (and by on me, I’m not that messy, I mean with my person. I do. It’s like I’m a toddler (but not really). Especially when I’m traveling for work.

Planes, trains and automobiles equal long days and all that jazz and I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but the choices for eating during travel aren’t always ideal. Snacks are a must. If I don’t eat I get cranky. And no one wants to be around a cranky me, I can assure you.

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Pear: Connecting Groups with Sponsorships

Marching BandThis post is sponsored by Pear.

Whether or not you have children, let’s be honest, we’ve all been approached to help with a fundraiser of some sort . Fundraising helps offset funds that simply aren’t available. For school groups for instance, it goes towards things like field trips, uniforms, travel and so much more. Guess what? There’s a great solution besides selling wrapping paper, cookie dough and the like.

It’s called Pear. Pear is a company that connects fundraiser’s with companies such as US Cellular, All State and other sponsor’s to support organizations. They make fundraising simple for groups and events of all sizes. Simple is good. You can find a sponsor in less than 60 seconds and activate your community to raise up to $1,000 or more toward custom shirts, cash donations, products/services or food and catering from a national brand or local business near you.

Sounds good right? Here’s how you can Get Sponsored Did I mention that Pear is a social engagement platform that is FREE.

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Tools for People That Rock


Power tools are sexy, am I right? Who doesn’t want to get down and dirty with a little DIY project? Pinterest pretty much gives me all the confidence I need to get a project done ; ) How hard can it be (my motto, I won’t tell you how many times that gets me in trouble LOL). Part of doing it yourself, requires you start with the right tools. Which is pretty much a given in any case. I mean, I can’t cook with a butter knife can I? Nope, you need a good quality knife. Think of it as an investment. Quality over quantity. I really do believe that. Rockwell Tools are just that. They’re quality tools that will help you tackle all those DIY projects and they definitely rock.

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Cook, Charge and Light Your Life With BioLite

biolite-matthewlandstudiosPhoto Credit: Matthew L and Studios

I have a confession to make. I’m obsessed with keeping my phone charged. Like the simple thought of the battery running out kind of invokes a min0r panic attack. I have a Mophie case on my phone at all times (which has a full back up battery available) and when I travel I also carry a small portable power charger with 4 additional charges. Told you. I like to be prepared and all that jazz. Naturally when I heard about BioLite products I knew they would be right up my alley! I’ll tell you why!

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Coffee Bean Candles

Coffee Bean CandlesThis post is sponsored by Lavazza.

Because clearly just drinking COFFEE isn’t enough for me, I need to use it when decorating too ; ) While I’m no Martha Stewart, I do like to jazz up my tablescapes (btw when did that become a word and a thing) for special dinners and especially during the holidays. I like to go the natural route with my table decorations. Incorporating things (like ingredients for instance) that I’m using in the meal and because I like to keep it budget friendly I try to use things I already have on hand. I ALWAYS have COFFEE. Just not decaf, ever, because honestly I just don’t see the purpose. Sorry y’all.

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I know what you’re thinking … Another social media outlet? Well I hate to break the news but there will always be a “new” social media outlet. It’s up to us, however, to decide which ones are worth our time investment. I’ve come across a new to me website called Yummly. Since you’re here vising my FOOD and travel blog I think it’s a safe bet that you like to EAT as much as I do. Yummly is a FREE website with nothing but recipes that acts as your virtual recipe box. Did I mention this a FREE service that’s incredibly easy to use? You can add as many recipes as you like (you know all the ones from my site yeah?) You can even go as far as to save and categorize the recipes you’ve saved to your recipe box. You can also discover recipes that are in the feed and can browse popular categories. Ready to set up a profile and get to YUMMING? Yeah you are.

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Heartburn Happens

BBQ Sundae BBQ Sundae

Disclaimer: I have received information, product and materials from McNeil Consumer Pharmaceuticals Co., the makers of PEPCID®, as part of the Mom It Forward Blogger Network. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post.

Heartburn. It’s something we’d all like to keep off of our menus whether we’re eating at home or out, right? I’m no exception. I have always enjoyed foods with a spicy kick to them. I’m not talking super spicy (I’m just not personally cut out for super spicy) foods that would make me cry (think Indian hot), just a little tingle thank you very much. Sometimes however, spicy and occasionally overly rich (read fatty) foods don’t necessarily agree with me. What am I left with when they don’t? You guessed it, heartburn. It happens to the best of us. When it does I want relief and I want it stat. Fun fact: did you know that heartburn has nothing to do with your heart, so why in the world do they call it heartburn?

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Protect your Personal Data With M-Disc

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Mom it Forward and M-DISC. Opinions are my own. Always have been. Always will be.

I am what most people would call a shutter bug. Whether I have my big daddy DSLR or my iphone on me, I’m always snapping a photo of this or that. Of people and moments that mean a lot to me. Memories that I wouldn’t be able to access if they just disappeared. Do you ever worry about your data disappearing? Your precious family photos. Videos you’ve taken of vacations, your children’s recitals, graduations? I don’t have to worry about that any more since I was introduced to M-DISC. What is M-DISC you ask? “M-DISC is a unique storage solution that preserves photos, video, and important documents…practically forever. People use M-DISC to create a “hard copy” of their treasured memories, and important information. By hard copy we mean something they can hold in their hands, and have complete control over. This process is also called “archiving”, formerly only embraced by businesses and universities, it is not gaining traction among consumers. M-DISC is the brand leader in personal archiving because it’s economical, simple to use, and will preserve data for more than 1,000 years.” 1,000 years people. That means generations and generations to come behind us will be able to share and cherish our data.

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Heroes and Cookies #ShareYourHero

Share Your Hero Cookies

Heroes. Everyone has one (if not more than one). They could be a neighbor, a police officer, a fireman, military personnel, your Grandma, your dog. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. My first Heroes were my parents. My Mom who tirelessly made our school lunches, showed up to each and every single function we could sign up for, and believed in me with a fierceness that knew no bounds. I never really marched to the beat of a normal drum. When I put my mind to something (no matter how off the wall everyone else thought it was – and trust me that was often) she believed in me wholeheartedly. Priceless. My Dad was in the military while I was growing up. It’s not an easy job, but one he believed in. I have a deep respect for the military and the people who serve and for the freedoms they provide us with. Although he wasn’t always there because of serving our country, I always knew he loved me and believed in me. Last but not least, my husband is my Hero. He works hard all day to provide for our family. Despite his long work hours, he’s a hands on Dad and spends a great deal of time teaching and playing with our children. He is the best Father they could wish for and he puts up with my crazy. I am a lucky girl indeed. Those are my Heroes. I’d love to hear about YOURS.

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Pin it to Win It with Real Seal

Sweet Corn Ice Cream

Sweet Corn and Blackberry Ice Cream

June is National Dairy Month (and all the Dairy lovers stand up and cheer). To celebrate the occasion, our friends at Real Seal are hosting a pin to win sweepstakes. You could win a $100 VISA gift card just by re-pining your favorite dairy recipe in the Real Seal Pin to Win sweepstakes.  If you’re anything like me you LOVE pinning all the things to Pinterest so this should be easy peasy yeah? Did I mention there’s a prize at stake? Thought that might get your attention (well that and the ice cream because she’s a looker too.)

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DIY Coconut Lime Salt Scrub

Salt Scrub Ingredients

I love making homemade scrubs all year long but it seems like I really get into them in the spring and summer. Something about showing a little extra skin and all and wanting to be prepared. Yes I like to be prepared. I was a girl scout after all. No one wants to have ashy, grey and dull looking skin right? We took a trip to OBX last month during bike week. The ocean is one of my happy places. I gravitate to it. It’s so calm and peaceful which is the complete opposite of my life in general so maybe that’s why I’m all about the ocean. Deep and salty. Very salty. Which brings me back to this salt scrub.

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Eye Give Back

Wondering how you can take care of your vision and help a child in need of vision care? One in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem. Right now, when you purchase an individual vision insurance plan from VSP Direct™ for as low as $17/month, a child in need receives a free eye exam and glasses, up to a retail value of $1 million. Find out more at VSPDirect.com/EyeGiveBack. Thanks to VSP for sponsoring this post.

Being able to see all the things that are going on right in front of me is a blessing. Like when my children smile and it gets me all tingly inside (oh I should have warned you there would be mushy stuff in this one) when they scrunch their noses and and I can tell from the look on their  faces that something is off. I am so grateful to see that so I can do my best to fix it. Without my vision I would miss all those little things and we haven’t even talked about the big things. Their vision is just as important to me.

With good vision, anything is possible. Your vision is one of your most valuable assets, don’t lose sight of protecting it. Have you thought about Vision Insurance?  The ability to see the world is less costly than you think. Vision protection can help you see the world in a new light. VSP® Vision Care is the largest not-for-profit company that offers vision benefits and services in the US. They have launched a program called #EyeGiveBack and now through June 30, 2015 when a VSP Direct™ individual vision insurance plan is purchased through VSPDirect.com/EyeGiveBack, VSP will be donating an eye exam and glasses to a child in need (up to a retail value of $1 million)! You can learn more at VSPDirect.com/EyeGiveBack where they are committed to building a better future for children in need!

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Enhance Your Water With DASANI DROPS

DaSani Drops
I try to drink A LOT of water each day and encourage my family to as well. I like to stay hydrated, my body feels better when I do and I think my skin looks better too. Now drinking all that water and getting my kids to as well isn’t always an easy task. How do I get around that? I add a little flavor to said water and now, just like magic, we’ve got a whole new outlook on drinking the daily recommended water. DASANI DROPS are a great way to enhance your water anytime, anwhere. It’s UNSWEETENED, naturally flavored, with no color added and has ZERO calories. DASANI DROPS comes in two inspired flavors: Lime and Strawberry Basil (my favorite of the two). One 1.9 fl. oz. bottle measures up to 32 servings! 

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