A few of my favorite things

It’s that time of year again…. there are a bazillion ads filling your inbox with ‘deals’ and ‘gift ideas’….. but are there any good suggestions out there?  No!  It’s the same stuff in every email and commercial… perfume, slippers and expensive electronics.  Boring!

We can do better than that.  So here’s my list of Holiday Shopping Suggestions. And don’t forget to grab a few of these for yourself… you’ve been good, right?  Whatever….you’ve been good enough!

The Snoozer Body Pillow – $53.99

Yep, it’s a pregnancy pillow…. but you don’t have to be pregnant to love it….. as a matter of fact, I’d recommend against the whole baby thing if you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep.  (Just what I’ve heard.) I have one of these pillows and I cannot live without it.

Acoustic Sheep Sleep-Phones – $39.95

Another ‘can’t live without’ item.  I’ve had three pairs of these over the past 5 years.  I LOVE them.  I absolutely cannot sleep without them.  I play rain sounds and just drift right off.  They connect to any music player with a headphone jack.  What makes these really special is the flat headphone speakers that aren’t poking into your ears.  They’re a great balance between ear plugs, which I don’t like because they block too much sound and a sound machine which doesn’t ‘block” any sound.  And the headband is super soft… I like to slide it down over my eyes for a bonus eye pillow.

Kindle Fire Tablet – $49.99

I bought my first Kindle two years ago after much complaining about how evil and useless and awful they were…. I admit… I was wrong.  I LOVE my Kindle.  I have a Paperwhite E-Ink (not a touchscreen)… if you ever come across a refurbished one, buy it!  I has amazing battery life and can store a bazillion books. I also have this Fire Tablet too… I like that I can check my facebook on it too, but it does have to be recharged more often than the Paperwhite.  Don’t go crazy and buy a super expensive one, buy the cheap one…. read it in the tub, read it at the beach…. on the plane… whatever. If it gets wet or stolen or whatever, you can buy a new one for $40-50 bucks… and your books are always yours…. they’re saved in your Amazon account.  Kindle books are also (usually) cheaper than ‘real’ books and you can download books instantly…. no more waiting to get to the store to get the next book in the series! Don’t worry about the ‘Special Offers.’ The ads are only on the sleep screen and don’t interfere with the book while you’re reading.

Check out my Amazon Store for a list of my favorite books.

Jamberry Holiday Bundles 

30916288735_40afffdb9d_zPretty much anything from Jamberry is fun…. nail wraps, polish, gel, lotions…. bundles!

Love my Jamberry!  Jamberry Nail products are perfect for anyone who like having pretty nails. Need a suggestion?  Ask me!

Need a low cost gift for several people…. ask me how to order and divide the Holiday Bundle for multiple gifts at a great price!

Other Fun Ideas

I don’t know about you, but I love getting stuff in the mail.  Consider a subscription box.  Check out My Subscription Addiction for a list of nearly a zillion (just an estimate) subscription boxes.  There really is a subscription box for everyone.  I’d recommend Birchbox for your makeup lover and Birchbox Man or  Harry’s Razors for the guys.

Happy shopping!




Shop Small, Shop Local

The holidays are upon us… (if the big stores are to be believed, Christmas was here sometime in late August…. )shop

I’m usually more on top of my holiday shopping, but this year has thrown me for a loop.  In my family we have the added excitement of birthdays.  The majority of birthdays (both sides of the family) are in November – January.  There are only five of us with spring birthdays and one September thrown in for a bit of uniqueness.

I try really hard to find something special or unique for everyone.  We’re all of the age or ability to pretty much go get what we want… so it has to be something unique…..

Working for a small business myself, I like to support my fellow little businesses and shop small and local.  When I do shop online I like to find little crafters and artists… love Etsy!  It’s like giving two gifts, one for your family/friend and one to the business owner…. who can in turn spend that money on their family… keeping it all local… Shopping to make a difference! (Woo hoo!  Shopping justification!)

So if you’re in my area, or looking to shop online, here is a list of some of my favorite little guys:

Eclipse Holistic Fusion

1035 Main Street 
Imperial, Missouri

I just adore this shop!  I’ve been a client of the owner for six years or so now. When she opened her own shop this year I was ecstatic! Kim is an amazing massage therapist and her shop is filled with all kinds of soothing, pretty, comforting and good for you things.  Kim handcrafts copper and stone jewelry (I can’t get enough of her earrings!).  The shop also boasts a wide assortment of crystals and stones, angel cards, books, teas and incense.  A number of local artists also display their paintings and carvings at Eclipse… so you never know what will be on the shelves!  Eclipse also offers yoga classes and, of course, Massage Therapy…. so don’t forget about gift certificates!

Only Child Originals

176 North Main Street
Ste Genevieve, Missouri

More jewelry!  This is a super cute little shop in historic Ste Genevieve, Missouri.  (Which is a great place to visit during the holidays anyway – Check their calendar for the annual Christmas Walk.)  The owner handcrafts all different kinds of lovely beaded jewelry.  She’s also started adding glass and ceramic pieces and these odd, rusty lamps…. they’re so not my style, but I love them… and want one… and have no idea where to put it… but I moon over them every time I’m in the shop.

The Spa Room

5212 US HWY 61/67
Imperial, MIssouri

Pampering!  Kim (another Kim) owns the Spa Room and offers a variety of spa services.  Manicures, pedicures and facials….. My personal favorite are the facials.  I’m scheduled for a hot stone foot massage in December….. can’t wait!  Consider gift certificates.  She also sells a product called the Makeup Eraser… I bought one, just because I was trying to be supportive… I wasn’t expecting it to be as awesome as it was, but WOW.  It’s like a washcloth… but you don’t need any soap or lotion.  Just wet the cloth and wipe your makeup right off!  I was skeptical at first.  I used the cloth with warm water and it looked like all my makeup was gone… but I grabbed one of my makeup removing towelettes….. and it came away completely clean!  I used to use two of the towelettes to get my makeup off, but now I just use the Makeup Eraser.  Best of all (in my opinion) it takes mascara off with no rubbing or soap… just a little warm water.  About once a week I toss it in the wash… no special treatment or anything.  Love this thing!

Bonne Terre Airport

7444 Williams Lane
Bonne Terre, Missouri

Well, I couldn’t go without mentioning this one!  So you’re thinking… an airport?  No, I’m not suggesting you buy an airplane…. but what about an airplane ride?  Yep, Bonne Terre Airport offers Sightseeing Rides and Introductory Flights.  A super cool gift for someone who has never flown or maybe is interested in learning to fly.  Its also fun to take someone flying over their own town or family farm!  Maybe you know someone who wants to learn to fly?  How about Ground School classes?  Or an hour with an instructor?

Historic Kimmswick, MO

I love shopping in the old river towns in our area.  (Check out their calendar for the annual Holiday Open House and Cookie Walk.) Pretty much every shop in Kimmswick is wonderful, but I especially adore:

  • Serendipity Gifts  – I found the best camera strap cover here.  Very pretty with a cute little pocket to hold the lens cap.  They have tons of other cute stuff too!
  • The Cozy Cottage – What don’t I like from this shop?  Just bag it all up for me!  Purses, jewelry, home decor…..
  • London Interiors – This shop sells the cutest home decor and chalk painted furniture… and the chalk paint if you want to DIY!
  • The Design Haus  – Lots of pretty home decor, but I love their soy candles and melts the most.  They last forever and smell wonderful.

The Feminine Touch

47 N Allen Street
Bonne Terre, Missouri 63628

You can tell that I’ve got a thing for spas….. I’m okay with that!  The shop is in this cool old house right in the heart of Bonne Terre, MO.  Love this place! Hair, nails, massages, waxing…. coffee shop….. Pampering and coffee!  I’ve gotta tell you… there are few things as decadent as wandering from massage to pedicure to manicure with coffee supplied all along the way.  They do all kinds of packages and gift certificates.

Photo Challenge: Be Thankful

I have been wanting to do a photo challenge for a while now, but it seems like I always think about it in the middle of the month and then I think… “I’ll start it on the first of the next month.”  And then I forget again.


Today is October 30th… Tomorrow is the last day of the month (and Halloween!  Eeep!).  So I have no excuse not to get started.  I even went out and created a personal Instagram account (I have one for work and I was just being lazy…)  so I can’t say “Oh, I don’t want to carry my big camera around.” I am never without my iPhone, so no excuse there either.

I have pinned enough Photo Challenges on Pinterest so I just had to pick one that I liked.  That was actually the hardest part.  Finally I just went with one that I liked the blog’s name: Positively Present.  (You should go look at her blog too…. really great ideas there.)  So that excuse is unusable too now.  I tweeked/add/changed a couple of the photos from her list, but mostly it is the same.  I cheated and moved a couple around just because I know I have plans that would make a couple really challenging.  Since this is the first photo challenge that I am doing I wanted to make it a bit easier for myself.


What’s a photo challenge and how do I participate?

For the next 30 days, I’m going to be taking photos of the items listed below — and I’d like you to too! There’s no real “challenge” to it; it’s mostly just a way to motivate us to focus on things that we’re thankful for. All you need is a camera, the list, and some imagination to participate.

Let’s Share! 

I will be posting my pictures on Instagram: Phoenix_Rize.  So follow me there and be sure to share your Instagram name with me too.  If you post your pics online, feel free to share the links in the comments section.

  • You don’t need to be a photographer to participate.
  •  Don’t let the word “challenge” scare you and prevent you from participating. It is just to “challenge” you to stay motivated.
  • You can take your photos anyway you want to — any kind of camera works.  And you don’t have to have an Instagram account… that’s just what I am using (this time… maybe I’ll try my big camera next time.)
  • Feel free to start the challenge at any time.  You don’t have to wait until the beginning of the month…. remember, I said that was a bad excuse?
  • If you post your pics online, feel free to share the links in the comments section. I can’t wait to see your photos so please share!

Thirty-Day Photo Challenge: Gratitude

Day 1: Self Portrait
Day 2: Family
Day 3: Happiness
Day 4: Leaves
Day 5: Morning Sky
Day 6: Books
Day 7: Something Funny
Day 8: Favorite Color
Day 9: Smile
Day 10: Nature
Day 11: Seasonal
Day 12: Hands
Day 13: Written Words
Day 14: Adventure
Day 15: Technology
Day 16: Animals
Day 17: Memories
Day 18: Daily Routine
Day 19: Best Friend
Day 20: Something Old
Day 21: Where You Sleep
Day 22: What You Wore
Day 23: Transportation
Day 24: Nighttime
Day 25: Artwork
Day 26: Something New
Day 27: In Your Closet
Day 28: Gratitude
Day 29: Light
Day 30: Self Portrait

Holiday Host – Pet Peeves

The holidays are upon us again and with them they bring an assortment of parties and other social events.  In our family, November/December/January is the high season for birthdays.  Between Brian and my immediate families we have 9 birthdays, five of which we host the party and two to three others that we usually help host or cook.  We also host Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinners.  Which we love.  We love having our home filled with family and friends.  We love providing a delicious dinner in a beautiful setting…. Love it.  Or we wouldn’t do it.

You want to know what drives me crazy though?

People in my kitchen.

Okay… I know it’s not normal.  Kitchen’s supposed to be the heart of the home and all that… I know!  I actually don’t mind them “in the kitchen” that’s fine…. it’s the “under foot” part that makes me want to kill.  Extreme, I know… but …. well, that’s how I feel.

Before Brain and I renovated the kitchen (and everything else) we had a big kitchen with a stupid layout.  There was a giant center island that blocked all the flow… the sink was in the island and the refrigerator and stove were behind the island…. You couldn’t open the dishwasher and the ‘fridge door at the same time or they would knock into each other…. stupid.   People were always wandering in and out behind the counter… getting in the way… trying to burn themselves on the oven or stove.  Stupid.

Knowing this is a huge pet peeve for me, Brian and I spent a lot of time designing the new kitchen so that I had a work area that people wouldn’t be wandering into while I was trying to do the last minute cooking.  (Because, no matter how well you prepare, there is always something coming out of the oven or off of the stove at the very last minute… ya want it hot, right?)  We purposely put the refrigerator well out of my cooking area (even though it’s supposed to go inside the cooking area) so that people could get their drinks and not be  bumping into me.  Stove, sink, counter peninsula  and then fridge…. kind of in a big square… with the fridge separated by the main walkway…. big area on the OTHER side of the peninsula for people to hang out in with the table and the other side of the peninsula counter…. Beautiful too…. love my kitchen.

So why in the freaking hell are they still in my area, banging into me when I have hot stuff in my hands?  It’s not that I’m being a bitch…. I’m trying to not give people second degree burns. Hello?  I wanted to put up a baby-gate…. Brian said that would be rude…. I said burning people was rude too.

Pet peeve number 2:  Still in the kitchen:  Dishes.

Leave the damn dishes alone.  I invited you. I will take care of you…. from start to finish.

I feel that it’s my responsibility to take care of my guests as long as they are my guests.   I invited you… you came to my house all dressed up and pretty… I’m not going to let you get all soapy and gross!  I just think it’s party of your hosting responsibilities.  Your responsibility is to have a nice time… and be respectful of my wishes.

Miss Manners says to leave the dishes pile up in the kitchen until everyone leaves, but I’ve had guest who don’t listen and go screw around with the dishes anyway.  They don’t know where things go, so you still have to “fix” things later.   Just leave it alone!  I like to put the dishes in the dishwasher and rinse out the bowls that guest have brought.  Usually we have a house-full (15-20 people) so it’s not like I am leaving a group of strangers alone to stare at the ceiling until I come back…

You offered to help, gee that’s nice… now I said “no, thank you.”  I said it, I meant it…. listen.

Any Excuse for a Party

love to throw parties… dinner parties, movie night, holiday, anniversary….any excuse will do really, but birthday parties are my favorite.  I don’t care how old you are…. everybody deserves a fun/pretty birthday party.  I HATE the notion that once you get older you don’t rate balloons and streamers!  Especially as you get older and the ‘real world’ takes over…. it’s nice to be reminded that your friends and family still think that having you in their world for another whole year is something worth celebrating.

Brian and I just celebrated our third wedding anniversary…. We planned ahead and got married on Memorial Day weekend… so two parties in one!  AND… Skye and Greg just got engaged …. THREE reasons to celebrate!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Food is SO important at a party and its a great time to experiment… if a recipe is yucky you don’t want to have a whole batch just for you, but at a party you have a bunch of people to try it out on (Guinea pigs!).  I like to go for lots of variety…. I don’t want anyone to leave my party hungry.  Pinterest is my latest addiction and a great place to find new recipes.  I have a whole board of food ideas…. check it out!

Here were some of the hits from the party:

I have a couple of Vegetarian friends and I always try to have some vegetarian friendly options… This time I tried to be clever… I found a symbol (google it) for ‘Suitable for Vegetarians’ and pasted it on all the Veggie Friendly foods.  Yes, I DO put name tags on all the food… people will invariable ask what everything is… name tags are cute and save you from having to go over the whole menu 20 times.   I use the printable business cards and tape toothpicks to the back of them.

Instead of trying to find matching table cloths, or using paper (ick), buy cheap flat bed sheets.  I buy white ones (so you can bleach them) when I find them on sale.  Twin size work great.  If you have card tables you just fold them in half and they fit pretty nice.

A final thought: “To invite someone is to take charge of his happiness during the time he spends under your roof.” Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826).  Hosting parties is my way to share a little happiness.  I invited you…. I’m gonna take care of you… sit back and have fun.

We’ve Been Boo-ed!

BooHalloween is my absolute, compete, total, favoritest holiday ever!  Seriously, it’s all about fun and color and candy and letting your imagination run free and … did I mention candy?

Boo-ing is sort of like being a Secret Santa, except way less organized.  (Again, see why Halloween is so much more fun?  No committees and lists..  No pressure to pick just the right gift… just candy and fun.)

So anyway… to become a Boo-er yourself: Print out the “We’ve Been Boo-ed Sign” and a copy of the Boo-ing Poem (with the instructions printed on the back of the poem), grab a cute bag or basket, stuff it full of treats and leave it on someone’s desk or doorstep (don’t leave chocolate where pets might get into it!  Chocolate can be deadly to animals.) … then RUN!

Once someone has been Boo-ed they have 2 days to Boo two more people… and so on and so on….and the cycle of candy and fun goes on!

Brian, Boo (our Pomeranian…. Boo is just her nickname, but you can see how much our family loves the holiday, right?)  & I have been Boo-ed twice already this season.  Someone (even if you can guess who Boo-ed you, you can’t let on that you know!) left us two MINI blueberry pies and some S’nausages (for Boo) and a new kind of Hershey’s Kiss… Pumpkin Spice!  I love finding new flavors of Kisses and making Peanutbutter Smoochie Cookies.  Thank you Boo-ers!!!!

Hershey’s has some great Boo-ing Kits.

Organized Christmas is also a great site with tons of ideas and free printable Boo signs.

So get to Boo-ing!