Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Unique Twists on Traditional Gifts for Dad

Father's Day is coming up and we all know that dads are notoriously difficult to buy for. Ask any dad what they would like for Father's Day, and the likely answer will be "Anything is fine." Or worse, "I don't know."

Well, going to the store and trying to purchase an I don't know anything is fine is pretty difficult. So we all default to the same things year after year: ties, grilling accessories, favorite foods, camping gear. And then, pretty soon, Dad has all of that stuff and you're totally stuck for gift ideas.

So I thought I'd give you a few new ideas for Father's Day gifts that are just a little twist on the traditional dad gifts.

Father's Day gift ideas for the dad that already has everything. One of these unique twists on the traditional father's day gift might be just what the dad in your life really wants!

Father's Day Gift Ideas

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Ties are always a go to gift for dads—at least, I always find myself buying them for my husband and my dad. It's fun to pick out something pretty that they might like, but what if you picked out a meaningful tie instead? My husband loves music themed ties since he's a music professor, for instance. If you know your guy will wear a fun tie that reflects part of his personality or his interests, go for it.

I recently found a tie company called Statesman Ties. They sell ties based on the flags of different countries and states, and they are really classy—something any dad would feel comfortable wearing to the office. If your guy has a particular connection to a state or a country, these ties would make a great gift!

Since many of my readers are LDS, I know you will love this idea!  Your husbands and fathers probably served missions somewhere in the world and would love a meaningful tie to remind them of the country or state they served in.

Buy a Statesman Tie as a Father's Day gift or a gift for a missionary. Ties are available in the flag styles of many different countries and states and dad is sure to love one!

Statesman Ties was kind enough to send me a tie to sample, and it is well made. The Maestro served in Romania, but since that tie hasn't been added yet (they are adding new ones all the time), I decided to get Belgium which we gifted to a good friend. We even had his missionary title put on the tag, which is another cool way to personalize your tie.

If you decide on a Statesman Tie, enter OVERSTUFFEDTIES at checkout for 15% off your order.

Purchase yours here: Statesman Ties


There comes a point where dads who like to grill have all the grilling stuff that exists. And you can only have so many bags of bamboo skewers on hand.

But not every dad has a smoker. I wouldn't have even though of it, actually!

This smoker is a best seller and I bet your dad will love it! Or you can check out the entire selection of smokers on Amazon here: Smokers on Amazon


Camping dads are just like grilling dads—they've already got all the camping things. But he might not have a hammock!

Not only are hammocks a fun addition to your campsite, they can also be used in your backyard. Dad can spend time outside reading or hanging out with the kids.

Dad will love spending time alone or with his kids in a new hammock. Great Father's Day gift idea!

Because we don't have two trees close enough together in our yard for hanging a hammock, I would choose one that comes with a stand, like this one or this one. Or, you can check out all the hammock choices here: Hammocks on Amazon


One of our go-to gifts for my husband always somehow includes his favorite foods—we either make a nice dinner or gift him with a box of his favorite treats. Instead, I think it would be lots of fun for the whole family to make him feel even more special by going on a Father's Day picnic where you serve him his favorite foods.

You could pack it all up in a new cooler, and if you're going to make cookies, these ones are to die for!

A family vacation

Okay, so this might be a gift for everyone disguised as a gift for dad, but I'm fairly confident he'll still love it. Because dads love spending time with their families, and going someplace fun with their kids is a perfect gift!

Does your dad love Disney? Maybe he'll love a trip to Disneyland with the family as a gift for Father's Day!
The Maestro and our three daughters at Disney

I loved watching The Maestro have a great time with our kids at Disneyland. I love watching him with the kids whenever we go on any sort of vacation—he treasures that time and he does all he can to make it awesome for them. And he has a blast in the process.

Even if you can't do Disneyland, there are plenty of local places that I'm sure your fathers and husbands would love! But if you do want to do Disneyland or Universal Studios, you should book with Get Away Today. They've always got great deals going on so you can always save—plus you can save even more by entering STUFFED10 at checkout. You'll get an extra $10 off any Southern California package.

Book your Father's Day Vacation here: Get Away Today

Do you have any other great ideas for Father's Day Gifts? I'd love to hear them! Leave a note in the comments.

Happy Shopping for Dad!

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Books I Read: March/April 2017

I am really excited to begin a new series! I love to read and I want to share the books I have read with you regularly, and I figure a "Books I Read" monthly series would be the best way to do that.

Since we are almost to June, I am going to start out with the books I read in March and April. In mid-June, I will share with you the books I read in May. Without further ado, here are the books I read in March and April of this year.

Book reviews for the books I read this month: Deadly Inheritance, Lady of the Lakes, Southern Charmed, The Westing Game, The Art of Racing in the Rain, All the Missing Girls, and the Rock Harbor Series.

Books I Read: March/April 2017

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book review—The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

A friend of mine handed me this book and told me she thought I would like it. It sat on my nightstand for a week or so, and then I opened it and couldn't put it down. It is narrated by a delightful dog named Enzo, and he tells the story of his family from his (very wise) dog perspective. I may have cried a few tears while reading it, but to me that is just more proof of its goodness.

Buy on Kindle
Buy on Paperback

There is also an adapted version for younger readers, which I thought was pretty cool, as the original does have a few adult themes: Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog

Book review—All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

I'll admit, mysteries and thrillers are my favorite genre to read. I was traveling in April and picked this book up at the airport to read on my flight. The cover reminded me of The Girl on the Train, which I loved. I totally judged a book by its cover and picked it up solely on that basis. It turned out to be a good choice! The main character, Nicolette, goes back to her small hometown after ten years. Her best friend had gone missing all those years before and now another girl goes missing. The novel is not written sequentially, but backwards in time. I really liked that style as things began falling into place as I read.

Note: There is some strong language in this book.

Buy on Kindle
Buy on Paperback

Book review—The Lady of the Lakes by Josi Kilpack

The Lady of the Lakes by Josi Kilpack

This was the April read for my book club. I purchased it on Kindle, but then ended up listening to it on Deseret Bookshelf PLUS instead. Deseret Bookshelf PLUS is a subscription for audio books and ebooks. For the monthly fee you get unlimited listens, which I love. There are quite a few selections by LDS authors available on audiobook—both fiction and non-fiction.

This book is a historical fiction romance about Sir Walter Scott. It's not my favorite genre, and it did start out a bit slow for me, but I ended up really enjoying the story. Part of that was the reader, who was delightful. If you love historical fiction and/or romance, I think you will really like this book!

Buy on Kindle
Buy on Paperback
Listen on Deseret Bookshelf PLUS (you get a one month free trial!)

Book Review—The Rock Harbor Series by Colleen Coble

The Rock Harbor Series by Colleen Coble

In mid-March we went to a friend's house for a lovely St. Patrick's Day dinner. While there, she mentioned an author would be coming up here for a book signing in July and told me all about her book series which takes place in Michigan's Upper Peninsula—more specifically the Keweenaw Peninsula which is where I live. My friend lent me the first book in the series, and I quickly blew through all 6 books. They are murder mysteries (perhaps a bit crazy for so many murders to happen in the small rural area I live in), but I love murder mysteries and I especially enjoyed the characters in this series. They are quick reads, nothing too meaty, and are perfect for the beach or a vacation.

Colleen Coble is a Christian author and there are lots of faith and Christian references in these books.

Buy the first 5 in the series on Kindle (best deal)
Buy the first book on Kindle
Buy the first book on paperback

There are currently 6 books in the series with a 7th coming out in July 2017.

Book Review—Southern Charmed by Melanie Jacobson

Southern Charmed by Melanie Jacobson

Melanie Jacobson's refreshing and fun chick-lit books are some of my favorites. She is an LDS author, and her books are always clean and hilariously funny. In Southern Charmed, she takes us to her own home state of Louisiana for an adorable romance that I couldn't put down. Of course, I can't put her books down ever, so there's that. I read this one on Kindle, but it can also be listened to or read via ebook on Deseret Bookshelf PLUS.

Buy on Kindle
Buy on Paperback
Listen on Deseret Bookshelf PLUS

Book review—The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

I read this because Sophia had just finished it in her 5th grade class. Knowing my affinity for mysteries, she told me I just had to read it, so I did. I'm sure I'd read it before—probably when I was around Sophia's age myself. It's always fun to read something your kids love so you can talk about it with them, and the mystery really is clever and I didn't immediately figure everything out even though it's a middle grade novel.

Buy on Kindle
Buy on Paperback

Book review—Deadly Inheritance by Clair M. Poulson

Deadly Inheritance by Clair Poulson

I just got Deseret Bookshelf PLUS in April, and this was the first book I listened to. Surprise!—it's a murder mystery. I'd read Clair Poulson once before, and I had enjoyed the story. He is a retired law enforcement officer who has been quite prolific with his novels. I liked listening to this one. I save my audiobooks for when I'm in the car driving around town or when I'm doing the dishes. I just hook up to our bluetooth speaker, turn it up loud and get working. It's better than music for me!

Buy on Kindle
Buy on Paperback
Listen on Deseret Bookshelf PLUS

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

6 Ways to Eliminate Summer Boredom {free printables}

The school year is almost over for us. I'm totally in my end-of-year school mom phase which means I am done packing lunches, done nagging about homework, and done waking up early. Every year at about this time I start to seriously wonder if I can really hold on for just three more weeks.

I dream about being able to sleep in past 6:30 am. I dream of packing lunches for the beach and not for school. I can't wait to stop worrying about homework!

So, yeah, I'm very excited for summer! The first few weeks are always perfect—but then the boredom starts to set in.

Eliminate summer boredom with this awesome printable summer activity pack | free printables | summer reading for kids | vacation planning | road trip journal | cleaning checklists for kids | summer activity bucket list

Soon enough, I'll start hearing those three dreaded words on a regular basis:

"Mom, I'm bored!"

Which is why I am so excited about this summer printable pack that some of my favorite bloggers and I have gotten together to make. There are 6 great printables to help eliminate the summer boredom and help your kids to have a fun summer and stop telling you that they are bored all the time!

Family Summer Printable Pack

6 free printables to help make your summer easier and boredom free!

Vacation Checklist from Katelyn at What's Up Fagan's?  

Nothing's better for eliminating the boredom than going on vacation! Even if it's just for a couple days, you want to make sure you're ready and that you leave things in order so you don't dread coming back. Katelyn's vacation checklist helps you to do everything you need to do before you leave.

Reading Journal Printable from me!

I am passionate about summer reading, and one of my favorite things is to help my kids get the most out of their summer reading. One of the things I do each year is make them a reading journal out of a cheap composition notebook with this writing guide to help them write great summaries of the books they've read.

Summer Activity & Bucket List from Katie at Clark's Condensed

One of my favorite things to do with my kids at the beginning of the summer is to make a bucket list of all the things we'd like to do. It's nice to hang it up on the wall and find something new to do whenever you hear the "I'm bored!" words. Katie has a list of activity ideas and a printable bucket checklist for you to write the things you want to do and check them off when you're done.

Kid's Cleaning Printable from Hilary at Pulling Curls

Let's face it, chores don't go away in the summer and kids should still be doing them. These printable checklists will help them stay on top of it with step-by-step instructions so they don't forget anything and so they have more time for the really fun stuff!

Summer Reading Printable from Annette at Tips from a Typical Mom

Reading—in my mind—is the single best activity for summer (besides maybe reading at the beach). Annette has some fun reading charts and a reward system to help kids keep track of what they read this summer.

Road Trip Journal from Jen at Your Everyday Family

We've done road trip journals before, but I LOVE what Jen has put together here and we will definitely be using this one for the handful of road trips we have planned for this summer.

To download:

Enter your email into the form below.  The printables will be sent directly to your email inbox.

6 bloggers have teamed up to make your summer easier. Get your free summer printables today!

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Friday, May 05, 2017

3 Unique Gifts for Moms

Finding the perfect gift for Mom on Mother's Day can be a bit of a challenge sometimes. I know my mom loves to get letters from us more than anything, but sometimes you want to get her something else, you know? While every mom is different, it's nice to be able to find something unique that they probably won't have gotten for themselves.

I recently received a box of three fun gifts that I think all moms would love to receive, and I'm excited to tell you all about them.

Mother's Day gift ideas—3 unique gifts your mom will really like. Pampering spa gifts and an unexpected DNA test that she would never buy for herself!

This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of Single Edition Media

3 Unique Gifts for Mom

1. 23 and Me Ancestry DNA Test

This is one that I am so excited about. My mom (and my dad) both did this test a few years ago, and my mom LOVES to go on her phone and show me all the results. My brother also recently did it, and I have now sent mine in and am waiting on the results. It will be really cool to compare.

Find out where your DNA comes from around the world with a 23andme DNA test. Great gift for Mother's Day!

23andMe is a genetic test—you send in your saliva in the kit they send you (it has prepaid postage, so it's easy peasy), and then you will receive a full genetic report back. You will find out where your DNA comes from around the world in a percentage breakdown by region. They will continue to refine your genetic results as more and more people take their test, so your report may become more detailed over time, which I think is really cool. You'll get an ancestry timeline traced through the generations and find out during which generation each ethnicity was introduced into your genetic makeup.

Doesn't that sound so cool? And it's definitely something your mom will love. I already know how much my mom loves it, after all!

Order your test here: 23andMe DNA Test

If you purchase a test before 5/14/17 you will receive $20.00 off your test (no special code needed).

2. Vichy Mineral 89 Face Moisturizer

This face moisturizer combines mineral rich water with hyaluronic acid which helps to fortify the skin against environmental factors and keep it looking young. Now, every mom I know certainly wants to look younger and loves to try new beauty products.

Use the vichy mineral 89 face moisturizer as part of your skincare regimen

I've been using the Vichy Mineral 89 face moisturizer and I really like it. I like that you can use it as a regular moisturizer or as the first step to a more regimented skin care. Like many busy moms I don't have a lot of extra time to spend on lots of skin care products so this quick moisturizing (you simply spread two drops of the serum with outward movements from the middle of your face) with Vichy Mineral 89 after I wash my face has worked well. And I can tell a difference. I don't know if I look younger, but my skin sure feels softer and more hydrated!

Order yours here: Vichy Mineral 89 face moisturizer

Between 5/1/17 and 6/30/17 get 20% off and free shipping on any order with the code BABBLE.

3. Sabon Butter Hand Cream

Moms use their hands a lot for things like washing dishes, scrubbing toilets, and pulling weeds. Those hard working hands are going to need some TLC, and Sabon Butter Hand Cream is the perfect thing for that.

Sabon butter hand cream is enriched with shea butter

Sabon Butter Hand Cream is enriched with shea butter which helps to heal, hydrate, and reduce inflammation. It smells so good, too! This tube is almond with a bit of vanilla and since vanilla is my go-to scent it's perfect for me. There are many other scents available, too, like citrus blossom, lavender rose, and jasmine. It feels really fancy and my overworked hands are happy when I use it. I'm sure any mom will love it!

Order yours here: Sabon Butter Hand Cream

All three of these items will make unique and interesting gifts for your mom, whether it be for Mother's Day, mom's birthday, or just because. Most moms I know will love to receive products to pamper themselves, and the DNA kit is a really great one that many will not purchase for themselves but would love to do.

Happy shopping!

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

May 2017 Visiting Teaching Handout

Picking a quote from the April 2017 General Conference to take to my sisters for May visiting teaching is the hardest thing for me. There are so many wonderful talks and so many great lessons I personally learned from Conference that it's really hard to choose!

This month, I settled on Elder Holland's talk, "Songs Sung and Unsung." As many of you know, I am a singer, so this talk really spoke my language. On top of using a metaphor that I could really relate to, I loved the beautiful message of being an important part of something larger than ourselves, of learning God's will for us, and knowing that we each bring special and unique gifts to His work.

May 2017 visiting teaching printable handout | Quote from April 2017 General Conference Jeffrey R. Holland's talk "Songs Sung and Unsung." | God is determined to make of us more than we thought we could be

I think sometimes I forget how much God has in store for me—that He has plans for the gifts and talents He has given me. That I don't have to be perfect to start with, because He will take me as I am and mold me.

I particularly loved the quote:

“Come as you are,” a loving Father says to each of us, but He adds, “Don’t plan to stay as you are.” We smile and remember that God is determined to make of us more than we thought we could be.
Quote from April 2017 LDS General Conference by Jeffrey R. Holland, Songs Sung and Unsung

To download:

Enter your email address into the form below. If you are on a mobile device, click here to see the form.


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Monday, May 01, 2017

April 2017 General Conference Study Bookmarks

Last April I made these General Conference study bookmarks, and I really enjoyed using them as a way to study the General Conference talks when my Ensign came. I didn't get around to doing them in October because we were on our sabbatical and everything was a little topsy turvy, but I enjoyed them so much I decided to make them again for this past conference.

I know that a lot of you used them for May visiting teaching last year, too. It's a great idea, since we are supposed to be choosing a conference talk for our May visiting teaching visits anyway. I hadn't originally thought of that!

April 2017 General Conference study bookmark | study all of the talks from April 2017 LDS General Conference | visiting teaching idea for May 2017

(That's the Ensign for the last April conference...I'm still eagerly awaiting my copy for this year!)

The bookmarks helped me study because I like the visual reminder and the ability to check things off a list—both of those things really help motivate me!

How to make General Conference Study Bookmarks

1. Download the printable

In order to download the printable file, just put your email into the form below and it will be sent directly to you. If you are on a mobile device, click here to see the form.

2. Print it out

The bookmark is designed to be two-sided. Print it out onto one side of your white cardstock, then reload the paper and print it on the other side. Every printer is a bit different, so make sure you know how to load the paper so it prints in the correct orientation! It should match up perfectly, though I did have trouble with my new printer in getting it aligned just right. But even though it didn't quite match up, I was able to cut it out without issue.

Alternatively, you could glue two papers together to get your front and back.

This bookmark is great for studying the talks from the Ensign for April 2017 General Conference

3. Laminate (optional)

I really like laminating things, so I laminate my bookmarks. They are less likely to rip or get ruined by spilling food or drink on them if they are laminated. I also like to use a dry erase marker or sharpie to keep track of which talks I have studied already.

I have this laminator, which is quite inexpensive. I use these laminating sheets and a small paper cutter.

4. Add a ribbon (also optional)

To make it look extra bookmarky and pretty, I like to punch a hole at the top and add some ribbon. I left space on the printable so you can do that if you'd like.

I printed one for me and one for The Maestro. He's more of a listen to the talks kind of guy, but he might use the bookmark here and there. I'm also definitely going to take one to my visiting teachees this month, too!

I hope you enjoy your bookmarks.

Speaking of visiting teaching, I'd love for you to join us on Facebook at LDS Visiting Teaching Ideas.

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