My Favorite Holiday Gifts 2018, Part 5: Travel Stuff

I love a vacation or getaway, so nothing makes me happier than a travel-inspired gift, whether it’s something I can use while I travel or something that reminds me of travel. So today…GIFTS FOR TRAVEL AND AVIATION ENTHUSIASTS.

Away Luggage. It’s sleek. It’s durable. Away Carry-ons have an ejectable battery option. And best of all…it’s guaranteed for life. Away Luggage comes in 12 colors, and each piece is on durable wheels that rotate 360 degrees for ease of movement. Plus, if you travel with multiple Away Luggage pieces, they nest inside each other, so after you unpack, they take up less room in your hotel room. Starting at $225 for the carry-on, these are a great gift for travelers. You can also have it personalized by the manufacturer. Check out their whole website, as they also offer totes and backpacks made of water-resistant nylon. Shop here.

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Away Carry-on, $225

W&P Design Carry On Cocktail Kits. These carryon cocktail kits are small, but they contain everything you need to mix cocktails in flight, except the alcohol, which you can get from your friendly flight attendant, or purchase miniatures in advance. W&P offers kits for an Old Fashioned, a Bloody Mary, a Margarita, and more. At only $24, they make great gifts that will actually be used by the family member or friend who travels regularly! Or purchase the Travel Pack, which includes a small travel-size bag packed with three cocktail kits at $90. Don’t need the kit? Maybe your traveler would like five of the cocktail kits, called The Frequent Flyer, at $100. See slideshow below. Get them here.

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Seat For 1. This bag from Uncommon Goods gets a thumbs up from me, surprisingly. When I first saw it, I thought it was crazy, but after checking it out, it sounds awesome! The bag weights 2.6 pounds, and it’s small enough to carry on, but strong enough to hold an adult sitting atop it. In fact, it will withstand up to 330 pounds! Anyone who has ever had to stand at a boarding gate where there were no empty seats will appreciate this wonder! No more seats? Create your own with this bag! Priced at $65, it’s a great gift for a traveler. Get it from uncommongoods.com here.

Airportag.com I wrote about this one for home gifts, as well, but it’s worth mentioning again. This is one of those websites I could peruse all day. It bills itself as the “best aviation and travel gift shop.” It’s a great one, with airline and airport themed apparel and accessories…even featuring defunct airlines. Great for the aviation enthusiasts in your life, there are lots of customizable products. Personalized boarding pass-style pillows, mugs, shirts, comforters, totes, luggage tags, and many more…they have it all for the folks who love planes and trains. And the popular airport code apparel? They have that too! Prices start at under $5 for stickers. The airport codes duffle shown below is $64.90, while the airline “crew” luggage tag is $14.90, and the tote, bottom right, is $24.90. Shop airportag.com here.

O2 cool 5″ fan. Looking at this 5″ fan, you think there’s no way it helps anyone anywhere. Well, I think your traveling family member or friend will be surprised. I purchased one of these when I was in Vermont a couple of years ago, because I needed a fan on my face in the hotel room. It was the only one I could find in the local store, and I thought I would end up throwing it away. I didn’t throw it away. In fact, I used it for the rest of that trip and gave some to family members who also enjoy fans while they’re sleeping. It’s small enough and light enough to pack in a suitcase without adding weight or bulk. Priced at just $14.99, it’s a great buy at Amazon here.

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Amazon Fire Stick TV Bundle with Echo Dot (2nd gen). This is a great gift for the traveling friend or family member who loves streaming TV shows or movies. They can plug it into any TV’s HDMI port, connect to Wi-Fi, and continue streaming hit TV shows and movies…picking up where they left off at home. Pair it with the 2nd generation Echo Dot, making it even easier to use. Priced at $39.98 for the Fire Stick and Echo Dot, it’s a great deal from Amazon. Get it here.

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Mark and Graham Personalized Luggage Tags. Mark and Graham does these right. Made of quality leather in bright colors to help travelers locate their bags on the luggage carousel, these make great gifts. Priced at $55, you can get them here.

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Travel Diffuser Aromatherapy Kit. We love diffusers in our house. Sometimes, I walk into my daughter’s room and am surprised to find it smells like a posh spa, because she is using her diffuser with a lavender oil or some other great essential oil. Priced at just $30, the kit includes the small diffuser plus three essential oils: lavender, lemongrass, and peppermint.  Lavender is relaxing, while the others rejuvenate and refresh. I have my own essential oils from DoTerra I can use, as well, making it even more useful. Purchase the kit here.

Longchamp bags. When I travel, I often make purchases, and they don’t always fit into my luggage. A few years ago, a friend gave me a Longchamp Le Pliage bag, telling me she would fold it and put it in her luggage when she traveled. When it was time to go home, if she had made purchases, she could fit them in the bag and check it or carry it onto the plane with her. Made of durable nylon with leather accents, the bags fold flat and come in different colors and sizes. My favorites for travel are the Le Pliage Expandable Tote at $195 and the Le Pliage 21-inch Expandable Travel Bag, priced at $255. See them all at Nordstrom here.

Vintage Airline Gifts. OK, so it isn’t actually vintage, but a lot of the logos are at rebubble.com. I love apparel featuring defunct air carriers, and both of these sites offer plenty of options. Maybe you know someone who worked for one of the carriers, or you have a friend who is an aviation enthusiast. Or maybe your family member would love some airline-themed personalized stationery. The possibilities are endless.  Search for an airline name (National, Eastern, Pan Am, Continental, Mohawk, TWA, Braniff) and see the possibilities. Shop redbubble.com here.

Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Machine. I’ve had one of these for years, because sleep is important. I’m a light sleeper, so when I’m in a hotel, I hear the air conditioner turn on and off. I hear slamming doors. I hear people walking past my room. And sometimes, I hear traffic. I learned a long time ago that white noise is my friend. I purchased the Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Machine, and I carry it every time I travel. If you have a friend or family member who travels but complains about noise in hotels, this could be the ticket! Get it at Amazon for $44.95 here.

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LUSH Solid Shampoo/Conditioner with Tins. For travelers, it really stinks to arrive somewhere and discover your liquid shampoo or conditioner has leaked. Pressurized cabins can do a number on bottles of haircare products. When I was perusing the Lush website recently, I discovered they have solid shampoos and conditioners! No more messy leaks! And they’re priced right and smell great! Each item is priced under $15 for just under 2 ounces, and they come in a variety of scents. Make sure you pick up a tin for each product. Each tin is priced at $3.95. Shop Lush here.

Beautural Steamer for Clothes. I don’t always have time for the hotel to press my clothes when I’m traveling, so I love having a good portable steamer. With almost 600 reviews, this portable steamer is the highest-rated one on Amazon. It heats in 30 seconds and operates at 1200 watts, and it’s perfect for home or travel. Package includes a lint brush, fabric brush, and creaser. Your traveling friend will thank you. Purchase for $34.99 with free shipping here.

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Travel Listography. If you’re not familiar with Listography, you’re missing out. Listography Journals have been around a while. This particular one offers the traveler the opportunity to list travel-related things: places to travel, animals I’ve seen in the wild, people I’ve met along the way, etc. It makes a great gift for the traveler who loves to keep track of what he/she has done and keep a bucket list too. Purchase for $10.32 from Amazon here.

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And there you have it…a list of gifts for the traveler or aviation enthusiast in your life! Happy shopping!

NEXT TIME: Stocking Stuffers!

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My Favorite Holiday Gifts 2018, Part 3: Home

My Favorite Holiday Gifts for HOME 2018! I’m not bold enough to believe I know everything about holiday gifts, but I know some things I’m planning to give this year and some things that have been well-received over the year. We have covered Books and Women’s Accessories. I will be posting about different categories over the next few weeks: Men/Boys gifts, Travel, Stocking Stuffers, and Kids/Teens, but today is all about HOME gifts. Take a look at the wide assortment listed below…more than 20 possibilities…with prices from as low as $8.49.

Claus Porto Soaps. I can’t get enough of these. They make great gifts for anyone…and great stocking stuffers too! The presentation of these soaps is absolutely beautiful, and the scents are incredible! My personal favorite is the box of Gift Soaps, containing 15 small soaps from four of their lines. They are shea butter infused, so they smell beautiful and add moisture to skin! Larger gift boxes contain larger soaps, and wrappings are gorgeous. Prices start at $10 for single soaps. See them at Clausporto.com here.

 

Gifts for folks who entertain a lot. We all have friends who are fantastic hosts/hostesses. My friend who is always hosting parties at her home (she knows who she is) would love some Mario Luca Giusti Rainbow Milly Glasses I’ve seen at Neiman Marcus. They would be a great Christmas gift for her. (These are not meant as hostess gifts for having me over, but HOLIDAY gifts.) These glasses hold 10 ounces, and they’re made of acrylic! The color will brighten any gathering. Priced at $144 for a set of four, you can get them at Neiman Marcus here. Have a family recipe to share? Share it with your friend or family member via a Custom Recipe Paddle Board from Swoozie’s. Priced at $79.95, you can customize the board with a handwritten recipe…maybe Grandma’s Sour Cream Pound Cake? Maybe Mom’s Chicken and Dumplings? For more info, click here.

 

 

Bath and Body Works Candles. Who doesn’t love for their home to smell good? Right now, Bath and Body Works has their 3-wick holiday candles priced at $12.95! A great gift! My favorite is the Champagne Toast Scent.

Alexandra Von Furstenberg accents. I love Alexandra Von Furstenberg acrylic accent pieces. From small boxes to votives to frames, I love the color and the texture. I find lots of friends and family love to add some color in their homes here and there, and Furstenberg’s smaller pieces make lovely gifts. Frames start at $125 for a 6.25″ x 6.25″ frame, and go up from there, depending on the size. A 7″ x 7″ valet tray starts at $155, while votives start at $165, and bud vases start at $220.

 

Dodow. Lots of folks regularly post on Facebook about their insomnia. I understand. It’s terrible. After talking with a few people about it, this contraption called Dodow sounds like it could be a big help! According to its website, this light metronome actually “retrains your brain to fall asleep — while it mesmerizes you to sleep!” If you have someone on your Christmas list who has trouble falling asleep, they will love you for getting them this! Prices start at $59, and it can be purchased from Amazon here.

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Tiffany and Co. Home Gifts. Contrary to popular belief, Tiffany and Co. offers a lovely assortment of home gifts that won’t break the budget, but they still come in a lovely Tiffany blue box and bow. The Elsa Peretti Collection offers heart decorative boxes, starting at $75 for clear glass, and $95 for red leather. Another favorite at a good price is the Elsa Peretti Wave Jewelry Box in red or green leather, priced at $125. Shop Elsa Peretti at Tiffany and Co. here.

 

Canvaschamp.com. I’m a fan of Canvaschamp.com, because I think a photo canvas makes a great gift for most anyone. My mother always just wanted pics of the family for Christmas every year. Canvaschamp.com will also turn any photo you have into a Warhol-style canvas. Just upload the photo, and they will email you a draft. Prices start at about $20. See it here.img_8275

Skylight Frame. I suggested this as a Mother’s Day gift, as well. According to their website, the Skylight Frame is a digital touch screen 10″ photo frame that displays your digital photos and can be updated remotely via email. It promises “clarity, color, and brilliance.” Each frame has its own email address, so you can update the photos anytime from anywhere. This would be a great gift for just about anyone! Priced at $159, I think it is a great gift (hint, hint). Get more information and purchase the Skylight Frame here. 

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Long Distance Friendship Lamp. These are just awesomeness. If my child were away at college, I would definitely get these partner lamps. Purchase one for yourself and one for your best friend or loved one who lives far away. When you touch the lamp to adjust the hue in your home, it adjusts your friend’s lamp as well, letting them know you’re thinking of them! I love it, because I think it’s important for us to let folks know when we think of them. Priced from $85 to $170 at Uncommongoods.com here.

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Neiman Marcus Shopping Ladies Mug. I know some folks hate mugs as gifts, but I love them, especially these, featuring shopping ladies. I get Neiman Marcus holiday mugs every year, so I have an odd collection, but these are some of the best ever! Priced at just $15 each, pair with a favorite coffee, and they make great small gifts for friends and neighbors. Order here.

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Instant Pot. These are not your mother’s pressure cookers! I have friends who swear by them, while I’m still learning how to use mine. That roast I cook in the Crockpot for 8 hours? It cooks in an hour in the Instant Pot, and it’s as tender as if it had simmered for hours. It’s the wave of the future! Look online for deals, especially at Amazon.com. You can purchase here.

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Neiman Marcus Holiday Platter. You can’t have too many platters if you entertain. The Annual Neiman Marcus Holiday Platters feature different designs and colors every year, and they are heavy and well-made. I’m not a “collector” per se, but I get one every year for myself. They make great gifts for friends. Add a dozen holiday cookies or brownies…a lovely, thoughtful gift! Priced at $35, it won’t break the bank. Order from Neiman Marcus online, and pay a little extra for the gift wrapping. You’ll be glad you did. Order here.

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Weighted Blanket. A-maz-ing. Weighted blankets have been proven to help users sleep. The weight of the blanket has a calming effect. Have a friend or family member who has difficulty falling asleep? This could change their lives. There are lots of different ones out there, but the only one I’ve ever used is the Calming Comfort Weighted blanket, which you can purchase here. Prices start at $129. I’m getting one for my husband for Christmas. Other brands can be purchased through Amazon.com.

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T-Fal Preseasoned Cast Iron Skillet. Most folks raised in the south know the value of a perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet. You can’t make true southern fried chicken or cornbread without a good cast iron skillet. Many of us have fought to get our mother’s or our grandmother’s cast iron skillet. It makes a great gift for anyone who likes to cook, but make sure you give them directions on how to care for it…and maybe a few recipes too. Prices start at $15 at Amazon. Purchase here.

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Airportag.comRather than pick one item from this awesome website, I am listing the whole website. Great for the aviation enthusiasts in your life, there are so many customizable products. Personalized boarding pass-style pillows, mugs, shirts, comforters, totes, luggage tags, and many more…they have it all for the folks who love planes and trains. Look up items by item type, airline, airport…whatever you choose…even defunct carriers! Prices start under $5 for stickers and go up from there. Boarding Pass and Airport Throw Pillow Set shown, $95. Shop Airportag.com here.

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Bluebird of Happiness. When my mother died last December, I wondered about some pretty little glass bluebirds on a table in her house. After asking some questions, I found the person who had given them to her…an old family friend. I sent the birds to the friend, but because I liked that they symbolized happiness, I ordered some for myself. I’ve also found they make lovely gifts. Sure, we can’t actually give someone happiness, but we can offer them the Bluebird of Happiness. Prices start at $8.49. Purchase directly from the studio where they are made here. Take a look around at other items they offer…lots of great gifts: Dragon’s Eggs, Wise Owls, Blue Bubbles of Happiness, and more.

Glass Cardinal Paperweight. Speaking of birds, I’ll offer this suggestion too. My family always said cardinals that flew into our yards or near our windows were visits from family members who had passed. I have a red cardinal on my nightstand representing my mother. I am get one of these paperweights to represent my daddy, as well. And this Christmas, friends and family who have lost loved ones will likely receive them as small gifts from me. They’re pretty, and for me, they’re comforting. Plus, they’re inexpensive. Priced at $11.47 and with free shipping, it’s a way to remember a lost loved one at the holidays. Get them at Amazon here.

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Unique Planters. Lots of folks love gardening…even me! My friend, Michelle, in Fairhope, Alabama, owns Corner Copia Gardens Nursery Center and Gifts, where she sells plants and has a lovely gift shop too! Many times, when I see pictures she posts from her gift shop, I wish I could run in and buy a few things. Alas, I’ll have to wait till I can get there, but if you live in the greater metropolitan Mobile (Alabama) area, it’s worth a drive. She often has lovely “head planters” that look great with succulents planted in them, and I love when she posts photos of Air Plant Jellies she sells. See her facebook page here. The phone number is there, or send her a message about any gift ideas.

 

Whew! There you have it! Lots of HOME gifts in lots of different price ranges and for lots of different people…gardeners, hostesses, sports fans, cooks, moms, teens, dads…something for everyone!

***NEXT TIME: Gifts for Men/Boys.***

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My Favorite Holiday Gifts, Part 2: Women’s Accessories (including shoes)

Y’all think I’m crazy for talking about Christmas right after Halloween, but you will thank me later! It doesn’t do any good to write about good gifts after Thanksgiving…everything will be gone by then! I’m trying to help you get the jump on your holiday shopping! In my last Holiday Gifts post, I listed Books. Over the next few weeks, I will suggest my favorite gifts for Men/Boys, Women’s Apparel, Home, Travel, Stocking Stuffers, and Kids/Teens. So today it’s Accessories, including shoes, handbags, jewelry, and hats. There are so many great things out there, and I’m having a hard time with the “one for you, one for me” thing. Every time I purchase something for someone else, I want to get one for myself! Hopefully, you will find some things listed that you can add to your own Christmas list, and maybe you’ll find some for friends and family too!

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Rebecca Minkoff Leo Saffiano Envelope Clutch (above). I have one of these I carry in another handbag when I’m traveling. It’s small, and it’s the perfect clutch to carry to dinner. Available in a variety of colors from Neiman Marcus and in a lovely glitter black for $95 here. *For a nominal charge, Neiman Marcus will package your gift in a lovely gift box and bow.*

Kendra Scott Jewelry Because of the wide range of jewelry they offer, Kendra Scott appeals to all ages. Teens love the more dainty pieces. Adults love those dainty pieces and the larger statement pieces, as well. Personally, I love opals, and Kendra Scott has lots of opal pieces. I recently noticed they have Moody Mood Necklaces and Leah Mood Rings that are reminiscent of the 1970s. I’m thinking I might have to add some of these to my Christmas list for the kitsch alone. Shop Kendra Scott Jewelry here.

 

Shiny Shoes. Since I wrote a whole blog about shiny shoes recently, I thought I should include them as well. Everyone loves sparkly gifts! Nordstrom has glitter shoes in lots of different styles and prices ranges. These will make her happy! Shop all shoes at Nordstrom here.

Longchamp La Pliage Packable Tote. longchamp_tote_bag_s_le_pliage_l2605089545_0This foldable, packable tote is perfect for travel, but it’s just a great all-around tote that comes in lots of colors and several sizes. The small is about the size of a small handbag, while the medium and large work great as shopping totes or overnight bags. My daughter uses a medium for overnights, and a large for weekends away. Great for moms or teens, and everyone loves them. Prices start at $125. Get it at Nordstrom.com here.

Evil Eye Jewelry. Evil eye is everywhere this year, and it’s popular with folks of all ages. I’ve seen the evil eye emblazoned on sweatshirts (I have one!) and t-shirts, but mostly, I’ve seen lots of evil eye jewelry.  My teen daughter loves to shop at Boem in Charlotte, and they know trends. Take a look at their website to see lots of evil eye jewelry here. Their prices start at a very reasonable $15 for some eye stud earrings. Neiman Marcus also offers a selection of evil eye jewelry here. Neiman’s prices start at $98.

Camo accessories. Camo is still around, and it’s still popular! Frankly, I love camo, because I consider the green and tan shades of camo to be neutrals. But too much camo can be, well, too much. It’s best to stick with one camo item when you venture out…an accessory or one piece of apparel, but camo from head to toe is a NO. It’s easy to find accessories at a lot of different places. Forever21 has lots of accessories at really good prices. Urban Outfitters and Shopbop offer an assortment, as well. I’m not going to lie…I love the Forever 21 Velvet and Glitter Combat Boots. Here are some of my favorite picks:

And for a little more highbrow camo, there are these scarves (I love!) you can purchase from Burberry for $490 and $550, respectively, here:

Tory Burch Accessories. Ladies love Tory, and teens love some of their accessories too. This year, Tory Burch has introduced a new line of sterling silver Wishbone jewelry, and I think it’s very popular. My favorite of the Wishbone line is the bangle bracelet. Tory Burch also offers some great wristlets, mini bags, and wallets that make great gifts. See the full line of accessories Tory Burch offers here.

Rebecca Minkoff Beanies. Sure, there are lines that are more high-end. There are lines that turn heads. I have been a fan of Rebecca Minkoff handbags for a few years, and this year, I’ve become a fan of the beanies. The blocked yarn slouchy beanie hat is my new favorite. Perfect for cold weather, they’re also cute and come in cute colors. Get them for $38 at Neimanmarcus.com here.

 

Ugg Coquette SlippersI know slippers 5125-BDC_2
sound cliché, but who buys slippers for themselves? These pretty slip-ons with a lightweight sole come in an array of colors,  my favorite being a color they call Bodacious. And of course they’re comfortable…they’re Uggs! With a their lightweight, durable sole, they are super soft, and perfect for indoors or even outdoors. Priced at $120, purchase straight from Ugg.com here or through Amazon.com here.

I think there’s something in this list for every woman. And if you can’t pick just one, pick more than one! Having trouble deciding? Maybe give her the whole list! I hope my husband reads this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Favorite Holiday Gifts, Part 1: Books

Christmas is two months away. I know! I know…it’s early to be thinking about it, but there was a time in life I had all my shopping done by the end of October. Those days are behind me, I’m afraid. I haven’t purchased the first gift this year. I have, however, been looking at possible gifts for a few months, and I’ve talked with friends and family about gift ideas. Because I’ve found so many awesome things, I’ve broken them into categories that I will feature over the next week or two: Books, Apparel, Accessories, Home, Travel, Men, and Stocking Stuffers…and maybe Kids & Teens. Today is BOOKS. These are nonfiction, with the exception of one, a collection of fiction short stories. I find it’s more difficult to gift fiction than nonfiction, but I have listed some popular authors’ recent fiction releases at the bottom, in case you have a friend or family member who is a fan of a particular author. I’ve read a few of these selections, but some were recommended by friends. Without further ado, here are some books, in no particular order, I think would make great gifts:

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Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon. If you were lucky enough to see her when she visited Charlotte last month promoting her book, you know Ms. Witherspoon is truly southern and truly adorable. This lovely book contains some of her southern grandmother’s recipes, and some great stories behind them. She includes party hosting tips, book club info, “do gooding” info, and more. Plus, the cover looks really pretty on a coffee table! Great for friends or sisters! Purchase through Amazon.com here.

 

order-book-tourHungry Girl Clean and Hungry Obsessed by Lisa Lillien. It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of the Hungry Girl brand. Lisa Lillien is the busiest woman I know, and she is always providing great info…by book, magazine, podcast, magazine, TV appearances, and website! And she’s really sweet too! If you need gifts for folks who want ways to cut the calories and fat in their lives, this is it. Purchase at Amazon.com here.

 

 bushtwavail.jpgGeorge and Barbara Bush: A Great American Love Story by Ellie LaBlond Sosa with Kelly Anne Chase. Through letters, photographs, and stories, Sosa tells the story of the enduring relationship of her grandparents, George and Barbara Bush. You can purchase on Amazon here, or *I received word that The Buttercup Gifts and Stationery in Charlotte will be hosting the author on Saturday, November 3, from 10:30am to 2:00pm for a book signing. Call The Buttercup for more information at 704-332-5329.*

 

510oZZ5X3DL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_-2Sean of the South, Volume 1 by Sean Dietrich. Deitrich is a humorist, storyteller, and writer with roots in south Alabama and a connection to a small town where I once lived, Brewton. He is plain-spoken, funny, and if you grew up in the south, you will relate to his experiences. If you grew up elsewhere, you’ll enjoy his stories too. Raised mostly by a hard-working single mother, he shares stories of his life and people he meets along the way. My mother loved reading Sean Dietrich, and we often talked about his Facebook posts. He has several books. This one is the first collection of short stories, so it is not newly published, but it’s a good place to start reading his work. See all his books at Amazon.com here.

 

 

caddyshack-book-cover-1-1525443738Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story by Chris Nashawaty. For those who were old enough to enjoy this movie in the theater or those who were too young and had to sneak to watch it on HBO, this book is a fun look behind the behind the scenes of the one of the most surprisingly beloved comedies of all time. Starring Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray, those of us who remember the film know it was comedic genius. And the candy bar will never be forgotten. I was in Target recently, and two young people ahead of me in line were discussing 1980s movies they wanted to see. I recommended a few, and Caddyshack was at the top of the list. Purchase from Amazon here.

 

sons-of-cain-1534874929Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers From The Stone Age To The Present by Peter Vronsky. This one was recommended by a friend who knows my fascination with serial killers. Having an interest in serial killers does not make me a serial killer.  According to my unnamed friend, the book is entertaining while examining the psychology behind serial killers and examining certain cases. She said the author includes too many statistics, but aside from that, she thoroughly enjoyed the book. It was released in August of this year. This one is on my short list for me, and I think my friend, Mary Ann, would like it too. Purchase from Amazon here.

 

 

NMHBQJZ_mzBruce W. Talamon Soul R&B Funk Photographs: 1972-1982. A collection of photographs by Bruce W. Talamon, this book features “legends such as Marvin Gaye, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder…” and more. For the music lover you know, this is a lovely gift that will likely bring back lots of memories or familiarize him/her with groups he/she has only heard and never seen. I’m getting one for my husband. Purchase at Neiman Marcus for $70 here.

 

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You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld. Ms. Sittenfeld is a successful Charlotte author with whom I was not familiar until she interviewed Reese Witherspoon onstage last month. Though I haven’t read them yet, she has hit the bestseller lists with previous novels, including Prep and American Wife. My friends sing her praises. Her latest, You Think It, I’ll Say It, is described on her website: “With moving insight and uncanny precision, this first collection of short fiction pinpoints the questionable decisions, missed connections, and sometimes extraordinary coincidences that make up a life.” I can hardly wait to pick it up for some friends! Purchase all her novels and this new short story collection through her website here.

 

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Road Swing
by Steve Rushin. I spoke with a friend about what books he would recommend for sports lovers, and this one was the first one he mentioned. An obsessed sports fan takes a road trip through the United States visiting every major sports “shrine” and shares his insight. It will make any sports fan want to do the same road trip to the same epic places.  Perfect for the sports fan on your list…especially if he/she is a fan of road trips too! Purchase through Amazon here.

 

41f1eA1LEoL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time by Ian O’Connor. Even if you don’t like the New England Patriots. Even if you think Deflategate was a terrible football scandal. By all accounts, this in-depth look at the most successful football coach of all time is compelling. Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe called it “a must-read for football buffs and anyone who appreciates leadership.” Purchase through Amazon here.

 

 

41EQr37Py+L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_All The Way: My Life in Four Quarters by Joe Namath. Last but not least, the one I’m most looking forward to…this autobiography is actually not available yet, but you an preorder it on Amazon here. I’d be thrilled to receive a card at Christmas telling me I will be receiving this book as soon as it is released. Scheduled for release in May of 2019, this book is the football icon’s life in his own wordS. He has lived a life like no other, so I expect an exciting read. Honestly, I have to admit I don’t really care what it says…I love Joe Namath so much that I’d be happy just looking at photos of him. Till that book is released, you can gift Namath by Mark Kriegel, a biography of Broadway Joe that was released in 2005, which you can purchase here.

POPULAR FICTION AUTHORS WITH NEW RELEASES:

Jodi Picoult, A Spark of Light: A Novel, purchase here.

Nicholas Sparks, Every Breath, purchase here.

Dorothea Benton Franks, By Invitation Only, purchase here.

John Grisham, The Reckoning, purchase here.

****Next time, more gift suggestions: ACCESSORIES.****

 

 

 

 

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Too Young To Be A Grandparent!

Last week, I attended a baby shower for the daughter of some friends. The daughter is my friend too. It was great fun…food,  family, friends. As I sat talking with folks at the shower, I looked around, and as I looked at my friends who were about to become grandparents, I thought, “They’re not old enough to be grandparents!” They’re still young, vibrant people! But they are old enough. In fact, their daughter is a full-fledged adult with a great job, married to a great guy, and they are both contributing to society and paying their own bills.

A few years ago, as my husband and I sat watching the Heisman Trophy Award Ceremony from our living room, we loved the interviews with each candidate. One candidate, Amari Cooper, was from the University of Alabama, my alma mater. They interviewed Cooper, and he told stories about this youth in Miami. And they interviewed his mother, a lovely lady.

When the interview with Cooper’s mom came on, my husband turned to me and said, “Wow! She looks really good for an older lady!” I agreed. And then I started doing the math. At the time, Cooper was likely about 20 years old.

After a minute or so, I said to my husband, “Amari’s mother probably isn’t an older lady.” He pointed out that Amari was about 20 years old, so she had to be older. That’s when I reminded him that we are older parents, but Amari’s mother was probably younger than we are. I don’t remember if I grabbed my laptop or if they told her age on the segment, but at some point, we learned her age was several years younger than ours…and she had a son who would soon be starting a career in the National Football League! That year, he didn’t win the Heisman Trophy, but Cooper was the fourth pick in the overall draft and signed a fat contract with the Oakland Raiders. *Just yesterday, Cooper was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a first round draft pick.*

At the time of that Heisman ceremony, I was 47 years old and had an 11-yr-old daughter. My husband was 48. Because most of our friends who have kids the same age are about the same ages we are, we fell into believing everyone is that way. We lost sight of the fact that most people who have 11-yr-olds are younger than we are. According to this article in Allure magazine, the average age of a first time mother in the US is 28, considerably younger than I was when I gave birth at 36.

So our friends who have now become grandparents since that shower are old enough to be grandparents.  We just have a skewed view…thinking parents of grown children have to be older than we are. We are plenty old enough to have grandchildren. In fact, the average age of a first-time grandparent in the United States is 48. If I’d had a child when I was 25, and if that child had a child at 25, then I would be a grandmother right now…and I’d fit right in with societal norms.Since we were later than average having children, we are later than average having grandchildren, and we don’t plan to have them for at least ten more years. If our daughter is as old as I was when she was born, I won’t be a grandmother till I’m 72 years old. And that’s OK too.

Back in 2003, our friends were having babies in their late 30s, so we started thinking everyone was having babies in their mid to late 30s. Those same friends who were “late bloomer” parents are likely to be “late bloomer” grandparents too, so we will be in good company. We don’t fit into societal norms for the age of first-time grandparents, but we fit in with our societal norms, since lots of our friends are the same age we are.

The point? Any age is OK to be a grandparent! When you become a grandparent, you’re just happy to have a new grandbaby! If you need ideas for baby gifts for someone who’s having a baby, here are some ideas I talked about earlier this year.

We’re lucky to have these younger friends who have just become grandparents, and we’re lucky to know their daughter too. They bring joy to our family, and I’m not gonna lie…the new grandmother can cook!

Congratulations to our young friends on the new granddaughter!

***Our friends’ granddaughter was born on October 15 and weighed 4 pounds, 10 ounces!***

 

 

 

 

 

Daddy’s 80th Birthday

My daddy died a couple of weeks after his 68th birthday, in 2006. Pancreatic cancer. Today is his 80th birthday. It makes me sad to think he has been gone so long and to think about what he has missed, but it makes me happy to think how happy he would be that my brother and I have remained close. He would be happy to know my brother and I have great relationships with our extended family, and he would love that I have come to know our cousin, Ardrue, over the last couple of years.

Daddy worked hard to make sure we had the things we needed and most of what we wanted…within reason. He was practical, but some indulgences were allowed. According Aunt Katie (Daddy’s younger sister), Daddy was a quiet young man…and serious, making it interesting to me that he made a living in sales and was good at it. He had to step outside his comfort zone (quiet) and talk…convincing companies to purchase his product. I don’t remember him as quiet. At home, he was jovial. He loved telling stories about his childhood. He loved goofy jokes, and he loved wordplay. He mellowed with age, so I can only imagine what fun he’d have been if he had made it to 80.

My nephews were crazy about daddy, whom they called Big Ken (he was tall). My daughter was almost three when he died, so she doesn’t remember him, but she loved him. I think being a granddaddy was his greatest joy. After he retired, he had time to spend with them, and he laughed and smiled when they were around. When they were infants/toddlers, he spent a lot of time holding them in his lap, reading to them or talking to them. As my nephews got older, he played baseball with them, had Easter egg hunts, and let them pretend to be waiters at Cock of the Walk (a fried catfish restaurant) while he sat out on the back porch, repeatedly placing his pretend orders for hushpuppies and fried catfish.

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My 2-yr-old daughter enjoyed Easter egg hunts with Big Ken too…all year. Other times, he would take spoons outside for her to dig in the dirt. He had built a bridge across the Civil War mound in their front yard, so my daughter spent a lot of time running back and forth across the bridge. Daddy was amazed that she never stopped running.

Today, he’d be proud of his grandsons…one working hard in college and the other making his way as a writer. He would enjoy watching my daughter play sports.

When we were growing up, he enjoyed watching sports on TV…there was always a baseball or basketball game on. If sports weren’t on, he was likely watching Sanford and Son, Cheers, All in the Family, or The Jeffersons. He loved to laugh, and those shows made him laugh, without fail. As for dramas, he loved Lonesome Dove, and one of his favorite movies was Cool Hand Luke.

He peppered his language with things we called “Bascom-isms,” named after a place he lived as a little boy, Bascom, Florida. I wish I had written them down over the years, because they’re difficult to remember. I was reminded of them recently, when I posted on Facebook a picture of the sun shining while it was raining, and captioned it, “The devil’s beating his wife.” It was something Daddy said, and lots of people from the south say it. We learned it as, “The devil’s beating his wife with a frying pan,” while others apparently said, “The devil’s beating his wife behind the door.”

Here are some things Daddy used to say:

Ned in the first reader. Daddy said this all the time. I called Aunt Katie to confirm the meaning. In our family, Ned in the first reader means someone who is poor at what he/she is doing. It means Ned never advanced beyond the first reading level, meaning he wasn’t good at reading or he wasn’t very smart. For example, let’s say Suzy and Jane are doing the same job, and Suzy gets three times as much done as Jane in the same amount of time. Daddy would say, “Suzy makes Jane look like Ned in the first reader.” Or if someone is trying to learn to sew but can’t even thread the needle, we might say, “Bless her heart. She’s like Ned in the first reader.”

“Don’t care” has neither home nor master. This is something Daddy would say if we answered, “I don’t care.” I think it means that if you “don’t care” about something, then you stand for nothing. You should always care. Daddy’s mother used to say it to him when he was growing up. She was right. We should never say we “don’t care.” Maya Angelou once said, “Can’t Do is like Don’t Care. Neither of them have a home.” The meaning is the same…you should never say you can’t do something, and you shouldn’t say you don’t care about something.

You can make three days (or any time reference) standing on your head. This was Daddy’s way of saying “you got this.” If we had three more days of exams, it’s something he would say to remind us something was do-able.

I hope my brother will call me and remind me of some of Daddy’s sayings, because I feel like we keep his memory alive, in part, by keeping these sayings alive.

If Daddy were here to celebrate his 80th birthday today, I would call him and sing the birthday song from The Little Rascals. The episode is called Feed ‘Em and Weep, and it’s about Darla’s friends bringing gifts to her dad on her birthday…when all he wanted was a quiet evening with family. Daddy thought Alfalfa and Spanky were hilarious, and he looked forward to my singing every year…and we would laugh. To see the clip of the song, click here.

Today we celebrate his birth 80 years ago. He loved sunflowers, just like Mother did, so we will use some from our yard as our centerpiece for the day, and I’ll have a tomato sandwich. Maybe I’ll make the Sour Cream Pound Cake his mother used to make. Our cousin, Ardrue, gave me the recipe last year, and it is delicious.

 

 

 

Today Is Mother’s Birthday

My mother was a little firecracker of a woman. She really was little. She claimed to be five feet tall, and maybe she was…with the right shoes. In her final years, she was probably more along the lines of 4’10”. But she had a big heart and a big sense of humor.

Lots of my friends have lost parents. They know what it’s like. It’s life-changing. I have a friend who recently lost her mother, and then her daddy passed away a month later. Heartbreaking.

My daddy died in 2006…pancreatic cancer. My mother passed away in December. Her 79th birthday is today, September 3, but she didn’t make it this far.

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Mother on her 75th birthday, in 2014, with my daughter and my nephew.

Here’s the deal: Mother would not want us to sit around crying about her. She would be thrilled to think we have laughed and told funny stories about her since she passed. She had a great sense of humor that got better with age, and nobody could make her laugh like my brother could. She died on the morning of December 30, and that evening, I met my brother and some of his friends for dinner/drinks. She would love to know the restaurant’s owner, a family friend, had a cup of Bailey’s and coffee at a seat for her.

Interesting that my mother’s birthday coincides with Labor Day, the first weekend of college football season. She loved college football. Actually, she loved watching most sports…baseball, basketball, track, etc. College football was her favorite, though.

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Mother and I used to watch football games “together.” She lived about 400 miles from me, but we would call each other and talk during football games. Everybody knows I don’t actually watch Alabama games till after the fact (I record them), because I think I’m bad luck, but sometimes, Mother would call me after an exciting play and tell me to turn on the TV and watch the replay. Often, she “watched” Bama games with her friend, Nell, via telephone, as well.

This will be my first football season without her. Unfortunately, she missed Alabama winning the National Championship in overtime last year. She would have loved the game-winning touchdown pass. (See that here.) She likely would have watched it a hundred times since, if she’d been here to see it. In fact, she probably wouldn’t read the rest of this blog post, because she would still be watching the video…repeatedly. She would have loved that Alabama won on Elvis’s birthday too, since she was a big Elvis fan.

She’d have had a big smile on her face throughout that Alabama/Louisville game Saturday night.

When mother was in the hospital in her final days, she requested I put bowl games on the television in her room. I remember her waking up at some point and saying, “Isn’t there a football game on?” No matter how bad the bowl game was, she wanted that on instead of anything else. She wasn’t actively watching the games, but she liked them as her background noise. That’s how much she loved football.

She also enjoyed reading the Bible. She wasn’t much of a churchgoer, but she read the Bible daily. After she passed, I found little notes with Bible verses in her room, in the kitchen, in the living room, and on the back porch. A sweet lady named Lois stayed with Mother during the day. Lois knows the Bible, so she and Mother would read the Bible and discuss it. Many times, we thanked God for Lois, and I know Mother did. They enjoyed each other’s company. We all love Lois.

Never one to make a big deal about her own birthday, she would say, “Every day should be celebrated.” And she was right. She was usually right about most things. Lots of people went to Mother for advice or simply to talk. I’ve had countless people tell me what a good listener she was. I’m proud of that. She was always a good listener for me and gave great advice. She was a wise woman. I wrote a blog at Mother’s Day about things she had taught me. You can see it here. I sure miss her…every single day.

Mother loved her family, football, sunflowers, homegrown tomatoes, pound cake (made by our friend, Jane), friends, and she just loved to sit and chat. That’s what I miss most…just sitting and chatting with her. In fact, just yesterday, I wanted to call her to tell her about some folks getting married.

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A big sunflower I cut in my backyard this weekend. It’s our centerpiece for Mother’s birthday.

We ordered a new flower arrangement for her grave over the weekend. Today, in honor of her birthday, I’ll make a tomato sandwich with a tomato from my garden for lunch. She and Daddy used to grow tomatoes every summer…sometimes successfully. She would never believe I grew tomato plants this summer that produced lots of healthy, delicious tomatoes. I’ll cut some of the sunflowers (her favorite and Daddy’s favorite too) from the garden for the table’s centerpiece, and we’ll have some birthday cake with Bailey’s and coffee. And we’ll watch the Florida State/Virginia Tech football game. Florida State was her second favorite team. If she were here, we would talk and laugh.

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