Things I Like

I make no secret of the fact that, in general, teenagers scare me. They’re usually loud, obnoxious, and rude. THEY DON’T ANSWER TO ANYONE, YOU GUYS.

But seriously. I avoid most of them.

There are, however, exceptions to the rule. One of my favorite exceptions? My adorable niece Cameron.

Cams is 14, but still sweet, smart, and friendly — not to mention incredibly polite. (She’ll write a thank-you note that can break your heart.)

And she has a really big event coming up that I wanted to send her a present for. But when I went to buy something, I found myself a little stumped. I mean, my other nieces and nephews are pretty easy — the infant-to-six crowd is not hard to please. But a 14-year-old that I don’t hang out with nearly as often as I’d like? That’s a little tougher.

I finally found what I think is the perfect gift, but it occurred to me that I might not be the only one who struggles with buying for the tween/teen crowd. (I mean, sure, we all know they probably just want money, but I like to put a bit more effort into gifts.) So I put together a little gift guide to get you inspired.

And, yes, Cameron’s real gift is on here. But I’m not telling which one!

Gift Guide for Teenage Girls

J Crew knit top

Juicy Couture yellow gold bracelet
$81 –

Kate spade

Essie nail polish


What do you think? It also occurred to me that I would happily accept any of these gifts. So…I’m a teen girl. I can deal with that.

Hope everyone enjoys their time off of work and school!

“We should make a pregnancy pact. Think how fun that would be! …Or not.  It might be weird. …Or awesome. I would make Susie Jr. be best friends with Justiney Jr.”


I’m officially back on the East Coast. In all its 34 degree glory. Le sigh.

At least things seem to have continued plodding back to normal. My in-laws have power, the gas shortage is mostly over, and you can get fresh food at the grocery store. The curfew in my town is apparently still on (yay…), and there is still a ton of damage in some areas, but things are definitely going in the right direction.

The only complaint I could possibly have is that my usual train still isn’t running (despite all the other trains on the same line running…?), but I’m keeping that in perspective. There are other trains.

Anyway. Let’s talk about happier things. Warmer, sunnier, happier things. Our trip to California!

We went to see my brother and his newly enlarged family (now plus two twin nephews), and we had a really great time.

Joey and I joked throughout the long weekend that this trip was our peek into parenting. My two nieces are six and four, and combined with two brand-new babies, we got a glimpse of the first few years at least. (Though, in our case, we most likely won’t start out with four.)

We spent most of our time with the girls (lacking a few vital abilities required to keep the boys happy), taking them to a movie and the zoo and playing a few hours of tickle monster.


I had tried to warn Joey before we left that this wouldn’t be a relaxing trip. The kids are high-energy and looking for as much attention as they can soak up, meaning there wouldn’t be a lot of downtime. We fell into bed utterly exhausted around 9:20/10:00 every night. I’m not exaggerating.


Of course, we carved out a little time for grown-up stuff too, visiting a brewery for a beer tasting and eating Thai and sushi just the two of us. All in all, it was a great trip and we had such a wonderful time reconnecting with everyone.

Out general conclusion was (not surprisingly) kids take a lot of work, but they’re still pretty great. (And we definitely want to ease into things with one at a time when we’re ready to start having kids of our own.)(Though watching Joey holding a tiny baby was definitely among the top five cutest things I’ve ever seen.)

For now, we’re very okay with just being the fun aunt and uncle.


**This giveaway is now closed. Click here for the winner.

This post is sponsored by Printcopia. The views expressed are mine.

I love houses filled with photos. When I was little and we would visit my grandparents’ house, I loved climbing their staircase and studying the wall of family pictures. Inspecting every tiny, grainy face was like looking into the past. Did they really wear their hair like that? Look how young my mom is! It was a trip, and it never seemed to get old.

Now I love having photos in my own home. From the ever-evolving gallery wall in the living room to the rows of pictures on top of our book cases to the over-sized shots from our honeymoon in the dining room, I’m pretty much running out of walls to plaster with more memories. (Not that that means I haven’t stopped trying.)

So I was pretty excited when I got an email from Printcopia asking if I would review one of their photo canvases.


Printcopia is a company that prints canvas photos, acrylic prints, panoramic photos, and more, turning everyday photos into works of art. (They also have sister sites where you can create car magnets, custom banners, and inexpensive signs…if you’re into that sort of thing.) Color me intrigued.

They offered me an 8×10 sample to review, so I sent off a photo that my sister had recently taken of us and waited impatiently for the canvas to arrive. And, you guys. It’s so pretty.

Printcopia let’s you choose whether you want to continue the photo on the sides of the canvas or add a solid border. I thought about doing a bold color (neon??) but decided black would probably have more longevity.

Basically, I’m super pleased with the quality.

And, as you probably guessed from the post title, Printcopia is also letting me give an 8×10 canvas away to one of my readers! All you have to do is leave a comment on the this blog post, and you’re in. If you want to get additional entries, simply complete the tasks listed below in the Rafflecopter widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That’s it! Giveaway ends Sunday, November 18th at 11:59 p.m. EST.

A while ago, I shared my goal of making the most of what I have (you know, instead of just buying new things). And while I did allow myself a little shopping spree a few weeks ago, for the most part, I’ve stuck to my goal.

And with all the working-from-home I’ve been doing in the wake of the hurricane, I actually had time to work on a few wardrobe updates that cost me less than a dollar. Read on for details.

First, I had a somewhat unfair advantage in beginning this project because I have access to the Martha Stewart Employee Tag Sale. Sorry I’m not sorry.

The point is, at the sale, I picked up a bunch of fabric remnants, ribbons, and other items for around $13. The materials I used for this project were less than a dollar total. WIN.

Without further ado, here’s my tutorial for creating a DIY Faux Fur Collar.

DIY No-Sew Faux Fur Collar

12×12-inch piece of faux fur
12×12-inch piece of backing fabric
Fabric/Craft Glue

1. I started by cutting the faux fur into a semi-circle shape. (Note: One thing I wish I would have done? Used a razor to cut the fur just along the backing material. I cut through the whole piece, fur included, which meant I spent a lot of this project vacuuming up stray pieces of faux hair.)

Also, the below image is when I first cut the fur. I tried the collar on a few times and kept trimming until I got it to a shape that fit my neck.

2. Using the trimmed piece of faux fur as a stencil, cut a piece of the backing fabric into the same shape but slightly smaller.

3. Using the fabric or craft glue, attach the backing fabric to the back of the faux fur.

4. Using books or other heavy objects, weight down the fabric until the glue dries.

5. To create the clasp, I used a small fabric-covered button and a gold lobster claw clasp. I sewed mine on (I know, the name of this tutorial is misleading), but if you really can’t sew a button (first, read this), then you can pin each part in place.

And you’re done!

Pretty cute, huh? And considering the whole project cost less than a dollar, it’s that much sweeter.

(Oh, hey there, bold red lip! Check back on the blog tomorrow for my tips on wearing red lipstick without looking like a clown.)(It has literally taken me over 25 years to figure this out.)

Note: I noticed I had a lot of fabric shedding from the sides of the faux fur piece after I cut it. Based on my Google searching, the only solutions I found for this were a) to be more careful when you first start cutting (d’oh) or to bond the sides with fabric/craft glue. I tried this, but it made the edges a little rough. Anyone know a better way around this?

The craftiness continues on the blog today!

Another project I was able to complete was painting a trio of wooden candle holders I picked up at a tag sale at work for about a dollar.

I loved the shape of the candle holders, but the dull color left a lot to be desired. As soon as I saw them on the table at the sale, I imagined them in a glossy white, grabbed a few cans of spray paint in another bin (all priced at a dollar each), and we were in business.

First, I wiped the holders down with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt. I would have lightly sanded them, but I didn’t have any sandpaper on hand, and the point of the craft was that it was only costing me two dollars to create.

After wiping them down, I primed the holders with a white spray primer I had on hand.

Already, they looked loads better. After letting the primer dry for around 25 hours, I added a coat of glossy white spray paint. (Tip: Remember to always keep your arm moving when using spray paint to avoid drips or uneven coverage. As I heard one blogger say once, “If the can is spraying, your arm best be swaying.” Dorky, but true.)

I waited another day to give the holders another coat for good measure. Then, they were done!

Much better, right? Now I just need to get some tapered candles, and it will get all kinds of elegant up in here.


Anyone else getting crafty lately? There’s just something about this time of year that makes you want to make stuff over, amiright?