My Favorite Holiday Gifts 2019, Part 4: Sparkly Gifts

Yep…sparkly, because I love sparkly, and I know lots of other people do too! But if you think I mean “sparkly” as in diamonds, I should set the record straight here. I don’t mean diamonds. I mean sparkly as in glitter, sequins, and foil. Sparkly as in fun!

If you have someone on your gift list who loves sparkly things, you might just find the perfect gift right here. And if you love sparkly things yourself, well, go ahead and buy it for yourself, wrap it up in some glittery wrapping paper, put it under the tree, and thank a surprised member of your family after you open it. I do that every year! When I look at him after opening a gift he doesn’t know he got me, my husband has finally learned to play along when I say, “Thank you, Honey!”

It’s no secret that I love glitter and sequins, and I believe in wearing them all the time to brighten my own day and everyone else’s. It just makes me happy to look down and see glittery shoes on my feet or sequins on my shirt or jacket. I can’t help myself.

So without further ado…here are my suggestions for your sparkly friends…

Poo Pourri Pink Citron Glitter Bomb Toilet Spray. OK, so this is not a glitter you wear, but every time you use Poo Pourri Glitter Bomb before you “go,” it will make you a little happier. I can’t help myself. I love this idea. I’ve already order a bottle for myself and a few for friends. Priced at just $9.99, it’s a fun, sparkly gift! Order from Ulta here.IMG_5492

Ugg Glitter Boots. The first ones I came across are the Ugg Glitter Cosmos Classic Short boots, priced at $189.95 at Nordstrom. They come in two colors, and they have my favorite feature: glitter! Get them here. Nordstrom also has the Ugg Cosmos Classic Bow Mini Bootie for $159.95, and it is adorable! Get it from Nordstrom here., and I’m angling for the gold ones right now. And Dillard’s offers the same bootie in four colors! You can purchase through Dillard’s here! If anyone is wondering, I wear size 9.

 

Bari Lynn Sequin Wine Bag. For your sparkly friend who always loves to have a bottle of wine handy, this is a great gift! Priced at $25 at Neiman Marcus, it’s priced right, and it’s darn cute too! Perfect for celebrating every single day! Get it at Neiman Marcus here.

Lauren Moshi Foil Shirts and Blankets. My sister-in-law, my daughter, and I have been big fans of Lauren Moshi for a few years. Their t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, and joggers are all supersoft and fashionable. We stumbled upon the store in LA several years ago…it’s right next door to The Ivy on Robertson, a restaurant often visited by celebrities. I’ve seen one of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in the store…with her tiny dog. The Lauren Moshi items with foil decor are shiny, beautiful, fun, and comfortable. I have a few of the foil pieces and love them. You can see all the Lauren Moshi foil items here. Prices start at $88. They’re not cheap, but they’re cool!

Gold Glitter Face Mask. The Swoozie’s website says, “Beauty doesn’t have to be serious…have a fun night with your besties with the Glitter Beauty Peel Off Face Mask.” It would make for some interesting selfies or pics with friends, and it leaves skin silky smooth. Priced at $4.95, you can buy several at one time! Get them at Swoozie’s here.239701-500

Zara Blue Collection Glitter Handbag. Priced at $49.90, this mini crossbody bag comes in three colors…blue, pink, and silver. It’s tiny, but it holds all the essentials while adding some sparkle to your ensemble! I’ll be carrying one of these to dinner soon! You can purchase here.8626004009_2_4_1

Glitter Duck Boots. Yes! It’s a thing! I saw these on the Belk website and ordered some for myself immediately! They came in last week, and I love them! They are so cute, and I can hardly wait for the perfect day to wear them. The best thing…they’re inexpensive! Priced at $59, but use code WINTERFEST at Belk.com and get them for under $45! See them here.Belk

Glitter flasks. For those friends or family members who like to take their own alcohol with them, Kitson’s offers two different glitter flasks. If I kept my bourbon in one of these, every time I took it out of my bag for a “nip,” I would smile…not just because of the bourbon, but also because of the sparkle! Priced at $19.95 and $28.00, these make great gifts. Get them here. Nordstrom has a cute one too, the Brumate Glitter Flask, priced at $22.95. You can find it here.

 

More Kitson gifts. And while you’re looking at those flasks, you might as well check out their other sparkly gifts. One favorite is the Ombre Glitter Box Clutch, priced at $68, and available in two colors. See it here. Kitson also has a cute sequined pillow collection…perfect for the person on your list who likes a little bling in her house. One favorite is black and white sequined and says “Dogs are my kind of people.” See it here. For a more pricey blinged-out gift at Kitson, there are the Chiara Ferragni Silver Slip Ons, and they sure are cute…and like I said, they’re pricey at $365. See them here.

 

Shiny Shoes. And while we’re talking about shiny shoes, I’ll share a few more. All of these can be found at Nordstrom. First, there are some cute hi-top Converse Chuck Taylors for $65 here. They also have some Vans Glitter Slip-Ons, priced at $59.95 here. But my favorites are some Keds/Kate Spade Slip Ons priced at $90. I actually have two pairs of the keds for casual days, and I get compliments every single time I wear them. You can get them here.

Kate Spade Glitter Huggie Earrings. Priced at $34.80 at Nordstrom, these glittery earrings are a no-brainer for your fashion-forward friends. They come in five sparkling colors, and with a different shape, they’re not your average earrings. Get them at Nordstrom here. b89afc68-5f46-4629-ba3c-b34049a8a61a-2

Rebecca Minkoff Leo Envelope Clutch. Offered at Nordstrom in three colors, this envelope clutch is glitter-covered and thin, but it holds all your credit cards, essentials (ID, lipstick, etc) and even your phone. I love this glitter bag in the multicolor version or the black version, because I feel like they go with everything. Get it for $128 here.167d95df-be86-435b-ae94-8a718b713ff7.jpeg

Rose Gold Glitter Pool Raft. Sure, it’s not warm outside right now, but this is a great gift for any glittery person who loves the sunshine! They can use it when it gets warm. At $29.95, it’s inexpensive, and I can almost guarantee they’ll love it! Get it here.271702-500-2

Glittery makeup. There are lots of glittery options out there. Three I’ve found are from Estee Lauder, NARS, and Urban Decay. Nordstrom carries the Estee Lauder Glitter Pot for $26, and the website says it’s “a twinkly, microfine glitter that delivers glamour, fantasy, and mystery.” Use it over eyeshadow or on cheekbones and bare shoulders to create some glimmer. Get it here. They also carry the NARS quad eyeshadow, which has four shimmery, rich colors for $52. Get it here. And don’t forget the entire Urban Decay Naked Honey line…see the whole line here.

 

Shiny Accessories from Neiman Marcus. Neiman Marcus carries lots of beautiful, shiny accessories. Some of my favorites? The Ban.Do Glitter Bomb Water Bottle…priced at $30, it’s pretty, and anyone who sees it will immediately feel happier. Get it here. For something really different, check out the Aprons by Jem Sequined Dish Gloves. Yep…sequins for doing the dishes! They’re adorable, and they’re $45. And while you’re checking those out, check out the sequined apron from the same brand. Priced at $145, it’s super cute. See both items here. Want to add a little bling to your home? Neiman’s has the Giselle Sequin Elephants Pillow in blue for $40. See it here. And last but not least, they have my very favorite new earrings…from Sachin and Babi…they’re $145 and come in white, silver or gold…the fabulous Clara Fleurette Sequin Hoop Earrings. I’ll be wrapping some of the gold ones for myself this year. Get them here.

 

Alice and Olivia tshirts. Alice and Olivia offers some fun sequined shirts in their line this year. In fact, they have sequins all through the line…dresses, skirts, jackets, shoes…but I love the t-shirts. Some of them are on sale right now, and they start at $117. Click here to see all the sequins in the line. Below are some of my favorite tees…

Socialite Sequin Bomber. While scrolling through the Nordstrom site the other day, I came across a sequined bomber jacket that is perfect for casual wear. No, I wouldn’t wear it to my daughter’s lacrosse game, but going out to dinner with friends? Yep. It’s likely aimed at a younger audience (and that’s great too!), but I think it would work for all ages. Priced at just $69.00, it’s silver with black bands…and would work well with jeans or dressed up. See it here.c35ed72c-8868-4499-a7f8-2c897c13f6e8

Joan Vass Lion Sweater. I like this one because it’s different. At Neiman Marcus, Joan Vass has a beautiful sequined lion sweater…black sweater with gold/silver sequin lion and red bands near the wrists. It’s scoop necked and looks cute alone or with a shirt underneath. Sale priced now at $202 (reduced from $270), it would make a lovely gift. You can see it here.NMTZ4VR_mz

 

You can see there are lots of options for the sparkly person on your list. Shoes? Yes. Sweater? Yes. T-shirts? Yes. Makeup? Yes. Accessories? Yes. And lots more! To find more, sit down with a glass of Champagne or Prosecco and go to different websites, entering “glitter” or “sequin” in the search bar to see what they have to offer. You’re guaranteed to find lots of “bling.”

*** Coming soon: Gifts for men! Stocking stuffers! Travel gifts! Southern gifts! And if you have a suggestion for another category…let me know!***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Favorite Holiday Gifts 2019, Part 2: Home Gifts

If there’s someone on your holiday gift list who loves receiving home gifts, you’re in the right place. Or if you’re planning to go to holiday parties in folks’ homes, you need to be prepared to take some hostess/host gifts. Either way, I’ve done lots of research, so you don’t have to. Need some ideas? Every year, I take great pride in finding gifts that are unique. Don’t get me wrong. Nobody loves a good candle more than I love a good candle, but I also love to give unique gifts.

So here we go…for your viewing pleasure…gifts for the home!

Neiman Marcus 2019 Holiday Platter. I’m a big fan of the Neiman Marcus annual holiday platter, and this is a repeat from last year’s list. In fact, it will be a repeat every year. I get one for myself every year, and I get some for friends too. At $40, it’s pretty inexpensive, and the platters are always beautiful and well-made. And don’t forget useful…I use them all the time! This year’s platter is red, my favorite color for the holidays! You can purchase online here. And when you order from Neiman Marcus for the holidays, I always recommend paying the extra for the beautiful gift wrap. It makes the gift a little more special.

Custom Family Portrait. Sounds expensive, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. A friend gave me the cutest family portrait from Mrs. Best Co. shop on Etsy. Starting at  about $40, these cute, whimsical portraits are fun and memorable! Anyone would appreciate this thoughtful gift! If you know someone for whom you’d like to do this, start thinking about doing it now! You can purchase here.Look around on Etsy at different versions. There are more detailed family portraits that are more expensive, but this one is fun!il_fullxfull.1514771239_4aevTea/Dish towels. I love when someone gives me tea/dish towels. I love flour sack dish towels, and I love funny dish towels. And I especially love holiday themed dish towels, because it’s an easy way to “decorate” for the holidays. This year, I found some cute ones at Target. They’re inexpensive, and they’re festive. Some are Sugar Cookie-themed, while others are Hot Cocoa-themed or just general holiday themed. Purchase for $5.69 (for two!) here. Amazon has some great flour sack towels too. You can see those and purchase here.

Coffee Table Books. One of my best friends loves Coffee Table Books more than anything. She knows I’m talking about her. While I don’t love them as much as she does, I enjoy them too. There are some great ones out there. Chip and Joanna Gaines have the coffee table book, Homebody, in Target Stores now for 30 percent off! Get it here. I also came across a lovely coffee table book earlier this year by Shayla Copas; it’s called Four Seasons of Entertaining, and while I would never be able to put together the things she pulls together, the book is full of great ideas and it is absolutely gorgeous! I actually met the lovely author at a signing in our local Neiman Marcus, and she was perfectly charming. Purchase the book here.

Knit Throw. Last year, I was all about the faux fur throw, and I still love them. But this year, I’m all about the knitted throw…especially the ones that are extra chunky. I could make my own, but frankly, the yarn alone would cost me more than purchasing a throw in a store. I found one in Target last night that I absolutely loved, and it’s under $70. I also found one at Amazon for about the same price. Does anything seem more cozy than a chunky knit throw? And they look beautiful too! Get one at Amazon here.61J1XPV1RPL._SL1078_

Mario Luca Giusti Set of Double Old Fashioned Glasses. Acrylic, acrylic, acrylic. These double old fashioned glasses are fun…the colors are fun…and the fact that they are virtually unbreakable makes them even better! I have lots of friends who would love these. For just $72, you can get these for your friend or family member at Neiman Marcus. And don’t forget the pretty gift wrap! Purchase here

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Custom Home Portrait. I want this. I want this. I want this. I think people love having pictures of home. And this is another good, inexpensive gift option. I have found some places on Etsy that do home portraits for as little as $25! Yes! You read right: $25! It’s hard to find any gift for $25 these days. Of course, some home portraits are more “custom” than others, so prices can vary. The photo below is from Bailemor Studio on Etsy and priced at $29. Look at lots of different options on Etsy here.il_fullxfull.2024205616_cw36Letter board. This isn’t something I thought I would ever recommend, but I’ve seen how friends leave positive messages for their families…in their kitchens, mudroom, etc., so I think they’re fun! And I think kids and teens like them too. Wandering through Target last night, I came across a few, ranging in price from $12.99 to $29.99. Look closely to decide which one will suit your friend or family member best. What a fun, inexpensive gift! See Target’s offerings hereIMG_5131

Glass lantern. A friend gave me a glass lantern during the holidays last year, and though I had never thought about one before, I absolutely loved it! She had tied a beautiful holiday bow at the top, and I put a battery-operated candle in it…it made for a lovely holiday centerpiece in my dining room. Therefore, I’ve decided glass lanterns make great gifts. And the recipient can change the bow for different seasons. I have several favorites. See photos below.

Decorative Dragonfly (or Butterfly, Bee, or Ladybug). These are just little tchotchkes, but they’re fun, and I think they make lovely, thoughtful gifts for the right person. For example, I have a friend who loves dragonflies…they remind her of her daddy. Another friend loves ladybugs, because she feels like they are good luck. They would love these little brass tchotchkes, and at $35, these are a bargain gift. Get them at Neiman Marcus.

Louis Sherry Chocolates. I have loved Louis Sherry Chocolates since the first time I had them at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in New York. They come in lovely tins, and the chocolates are unforgettable. I wrote a piece about them in September. You can see it here. These make great hostess gifts for the holidays, and this year, Louis Sherry is offering a limited edition Nutcracker tin. Get the 12-piece tin of chocolates for $35 at Neiman Marcus here.Or order directly from Louis Sherry, where they are priced at $40.nmhcnlx_mz.jpg
Mason Jar Indoor Flower Garden. I saw this on Uncommongoods.com and immediately ordered it for a friend who loves flowers as much as I do. Flowers are beautiful and brighten anyone’s day, but what’s even better? Edible flowers! Using just this kit and some water, the recipient can have a lovely windowsill garden! Priced at $20, it’s a lovely hostess gift or holiday gift for a friend or family member. Get it here.42998_1_640px

Anthropologie. This is a first. I normally don’t just list a store in my gift pieces, but Anthropologie has lots of little, unusual, home gifts. Some of my favorites are their Agate Cheese Boards and their bud vases. But I highly recommend you just go peruse the site…click here to see their home gifts.

The Buttercup. If you live in Charlotte or find yourself in the area, visit The Buttercup on Providence Road for more great home gifts. See the website here.

Corner Copia Gardens and Gifts. In Fairhope, Alabama, shop Corner Copia Gardens and Gifts for lots of great home/garden gifts. Located at 11983 E State Highway 104 in Fairhope.

And those are my selections/suggestions for HOME GIFTS for 2019. I hope you’ll find something that will help make your holiday gifting easier! If you’d like to see last year’s selections for more ideas, you can click here

    UP NEXT? GIFTS FOR TEENS/COLLEGE STUDENTS…COMING SOON!

 

My Favorite Holiday Gifts 2019, Part 1: Women’s Accessories (including shoes)

Halloween is officially over, so we can start thinking about Christmas. I know…Thanksgiving comes first, but I like to have all my shopping done before Thanksgiving, if at all possible. If you’ve always been a procrastinator, this could be the year you change the way you operate!

First, let me say I always recommend you shop local every opportunity you have. In Charlotte, there are lots of locally-owned shops and boutiques: The Buttercup, Boem, Capitol, Ivy and Leo, KK Bloom, Sloan, McKenzie Claire, Five One Five, Beads Inc, and more. In Memphis, for jewelry, shop Mednikow’s! In Fairhope, Alabama, shop Corner Copia Gardens and Gifts. And if you have other suggestions for local shops and boutiques in different cities, please leave the info in the comments!

In my opinion, gifting is difficult. I have friends and family I love, but I still have great difficulty finding the perfect gifts for them, so I’m compiling my lists for this year and sharing them with you!

On with the show…

WOMEN’S ACCESSORIES

  • Rebecca Minkoff  Julian backpack. I’ve never been a “backpack” kind of person, but this year, I have one on my list. I’ve always liked Rebecca Minkoff accessories. They’re not high end, but they’re great quality, and the leather is always super soft. The Julian backpack is offered in several different colors of leather, and it’s also offered in several colors/designs in nylon…and a leopard print calf-hair! I’m adding the black leather one ($295) to my Christmas list, but I also want the nylon camouflage ($145) one. If you have an Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, or Clemson fan on your shopping list, there’s also an orange nylon one on sale at Nordstrom right now for $74. Shop Rebecca Minkoff at Nordstrom here.

FabFitFun Box. FabFitFun is a customized quarterly beauty/accessories box that is shipped directly to the recipient. FabFitFun boxes are shipped quarterly at $49/quarter, and they include full sizes of cosmetics, skincare, and other products lots of women love. It’s a surprise every quarter, and I have friends who look forward to their FabFitFun box as if Christmas happens four times a year! They sell gift cards on the website, so pick the amount you want to give, and it will make a fun holiday gift. Give $200, and your friend or family member can receive a full year (four quarterly boxes) of FabFitFun! See it here. Click on “gift” at the top of the website to order a gift card.fall-2019@2x.jpg

  • Rent the Runway Gift Card. I’ve been slow to jump on the Rent the Runway bandwagon. Rent the Runway is a rental site for women’s clothing and accessories. I have lots of friends who have turned to Rent the Runway when they needed a dress for a special occasion, and they’ve loved it. Again, I’ve been slow to jump on the bandwagon, because I’m short…and things don’t always fit me without alterations. Recently though, I had lunch with my cousin who told me she loves Rent the Runway and suggested I try it. So I did. And guess what? I’m totally hooked! You can rent individual pieces, or you can join with a membership. I decided to try the “unlimited” membership for a month or two, and I absolutely love it! I’m having clothes shipped to my house, and when I’m done, I ship them back for free! My wardrobe has taken a giant step up! The site offers customer reviews and even photos of different customers wearing different items. Therefore, I recommend giving your fashion-forward friend a gift card to Rent the Runway. She can decide if she wants to rent a few pieces, or if she wants a membership. See it here.
  • Faux Fur Pull-through Scarf. Nobody loves faux fur like I love faux fur. In fact, I spend way too much of my downtime searching “faux fur” on various websites, just to see what types of coats and accessories are out there! I’ve always been a fan of the faux fur pull-through scarf, and this year, I love the ones offered by Surrell at Neiman Marcus. Priced at $85, there are several different colors from which to choose, and they will keep your friend or family member fashionable and warm throughout the winter. My personal favorite is the wine-colored scarf. Get them at Neiman Marcus here. And if you order online, don’t forget to have them send it gift-wrapped. Neiman Marcus gift boxes with beautiful bows always look pretty under the tree. ASOS.com also offers a lot of faux fur accessories. One I love is made by River Island and is only $19! It’s a longline fur scarf in multicolor. You can see it here. And what an awesome price! You can see it here.Ugg slippers. I never met an Ugg slipper I didn’t like. My mother knew for the last few years of her life that she would be getting some Ugg slippers from me for Christmas. I just like Uggs. They keep my feet warm and cozy when I need them to, but when it’s hot, they don’t get hot…somehow! Honestly, I recommend any type of Ugg slipper. For the past few months, I’ve been wearing the Cozette slipper ($79.95), and frankly, I have a hard time keeping them away from my daughter. The Ugg Fluff Yeah slingback ($99.95) is cute too! But any kind of Ugg slipper is awesome! See them at Nordstrom here.

Animal Print Accessories. I’ve seen animal print accessories everywhere this fall, and I love them! I’ve always been a fan of an animal print. Animal print can add some spice to any outfit. If I’m just wearing jeans and a t-shirt, I might throw on a leopard print jacket. Have someone on your list who might like some animal-print added to their repertoire?  Give some cheetah print shoes/boots and/or a scarf! A zebra print cuff bracelet makes a nice accent piece and a great gift. An animal-print belt is a fun way to dress up an outfit. Maybe someone on your list would like one? You can find animal print accessories just about anywhere women’s accessories are sold. And Amazon has some great scarves at great prices too! Here are a few animal-print accessories I love:

Kendra Scott Mood Jewelry.This is a repeat from last year, but I think mood jewelry is so much fun…and it makes me think of my childhood in the 1970s, when mood rings were everywhere! Kendra Scott has a whole line of mood rings and mood charms, starting at $35. See them all here.

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    Kendra Scott Leah Ring, Gold, Moonstone, $75, Kendrascott.com
  • Big O Key Rings. Another item that is back from the 70s and 80s is the big, circular key ring. My mother had one back in the day. It was easy to find the giant key ring in her handbag, but if she didn’t want to carry a bag, she could wear her keys on her wrist. My daughter recently got her driver’s license, and as soon as she did, she wanted one of these key rings. Priced at $54.95 at Swoozie’s, they come in a variety of colors and patterns, and they make a great gift. Get them here.
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    Big O Key Ring, Swoozies.com

  • Big O Clear Bracelet Bag. These make great gifts for folks who love to go to sporting events. At most arenas and stadiums now, large handbags are not permitted, but clear bags are. This small bags will carry identification, credit cards, lipgloss…all the essentials, and you still stay hands free by slipping the ring over your wrist! Get this for the woman who loves sports! Made of leather and PVC, this item is priced at $75.95. You can get it here.
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    Big O Clear Bracelet Bag, Swoozies.com

  • Longchamp XL Le Pliage Travel Bag. I like to travel. And I like to shop. When I was younger, I would often go shopping on trips, and when it was time to fly home, I couldn’t get everything into my luggage without a major struggle. Those days are gone. Now, I just pack my Longchamp Weekender into my checked bag, so when it’s time to come home, I can put all my new stuff in the Weekender as a carry on, or I can even check it with no problem. Priced at $155, it’s a bargain. Purchase direct from Longchamp here.
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    Longchamp XL Travel Bag, $155

  • Brooches. I know, your first thought it, “Brooches?!? That’s something my mother/grandmother wore!” Well, they’re back. Someone gave me a lovely bee brooch as a gift last year, and I’ve been obsessed with brooches since. I have found lovely brooches in lots of different places and in lots of different price ranges. What’s so great about a brooch? Well, you can add it to a jacket, dress, blouse, or sweater, and immediately, you’ve added a little something special to your ensemble.  Here are some I love: There are lots more suggestions I could make, but these are a good solid start for accessories for women for Holiday 2019. Over the next few weeks, I’ll list gifts in different categories: men, teens/college students, home, travel, stocking stuffers, and more! Stay tuned! And if you have any gift suggestions, please share!

***To see last year’s list of women’s accessories gifts, click here. You might find more inspiration!***

Favorite College Care Packages

I had lunch recently with a friend from college. She has lived just about 45 minutes from me for years, and we didn’t even realize it till about three years ago. Last month, we finally went to lunch after talking about it for a long time, and now, we’ve decided to make it a monthly thing. She has four children, and her oldest is a freshman in college. She told me she is putting together a Halloween-themed care package to send him, including lots of his favorite little treats, and it reminded me of care packages my own mother used to send me…over thirty years ago, when I was in college. She was really good about sending boxes of fun, silly things, and sometimes, she would just send something as simple as a sweatshirt or a pair of fuzzy socks, but it always made me smile.

These days, it’s easier than ever to send care packages, and I’ll get into the easy ones later, but Mother used to send me things she had bundled herself, and those care packages were hard to beat. Don’t all college students love to get mail and packages? Sometimes, she would send small packages just for me, and sometimes, she would send a bigger bundle for me and a roommate. Here are a few examples of things she did:

  • Halloween Care Package in October. It included silly Halloween socks, the kind you get in the Dollar Spot at Target; my favorite Halloween candies; a few favorite snacks (chips, cereal bars, etc); plastic spiders; rubber snakes; glow-in-the dark plastic teeth; wax teeth; Halloween hair ties; Halloween t-shirt (you can get some pretty inexpensive ones in Walmart and Target); and if she were sending it now, she would have definitely included some gift cards to local eateries.Exam Care Package. At the end of November, she would send a big box as a care package for final exams. She would include lots of favorite snacks: Toastchee Crackers,Microwave Popcorn, Chips, Breakfast Bars, and some favorite candy. She might also include a MadLibs book…great stress-relieve entertainment for silly college students. A couple of People and Us Magazines were good for taking a break from studying. And she might have included some silly childhood toys like YoYos, Jacks, a Gyro-Wheel, an Etch A Sketch, and even a Wooly Willy…see below. Oh…and temporary tattoos…always fun. Squirt guns were a big hit! Childhood toys were always fun, because they were good for a laugh. Friends from all over the hall would take study breaks and come to my room to play with those silly toys.
  • Winter Care Package. In late January, she would send a Winter Care Package that included cheap gloves for me and my roommate, warm socks for both of us, cheap sock hats, a warm sweatshirt for each of us, packages of powdered hot chocolate, cheap ear muffs, and maybe some travel magazines that showed sunny destinations.

You get the picture. As the year progressed, she tried to put together thoughtful bundles. Sometimes they were all very similar, but she would include just one or two special items for a holiday….like those packages of Valentines you get in elementary school…she knew it would be fun for us to tape those on the doors of friends on our hall.

And after I graduated from college and moved to Atlanta, she would still send me care packages. My favorite was one she sent to me and my roommate in December. It was an Advent calendar in a box. The days weren’t on it, but there were two of the same wrapped gifts for every day of Advent, and she had the gifts numbered. I wish I could remember everything she sent. On the first day of Advent, we opened Christmas stockings. We didn’t have a fireplace, so I think we just hung them on the bar. The next day, we likely opened…you guessed it…socks. Big fat candy canes might have been day 3. Light-up antlers might have been day 4. Lights to hang in our apartment could have been day 5. You get the picture. She wrapped anything Christmas-themed she could find and put it into the box. 

Nowadays, though, if you don’t want to take the time to put together a care package, you can simply order online and have them shipped to your student. Simply go to Amazon.com and find regular care packages, but if you want themed packages, simply input what you’re looking for. I entered “Halloween Care Package” on the Amazon search, and I got several options. You can see them here. Another option is a monthly subscription to care packages through College Care Packages…see their options here. I have also found a fun company called Hip Kits that puts together care packages for college students, and they are a little different than the ones on Amazon. See Hip Kits here. 

And for some other unique care package ideas, go to Etsy.com and enter “care packages,” and you’ll get lots of unique results. Click here to see some of the options.

Also, don’t forget restaurant gift cards make great surprises for college students. Sometimes, too, I’ll just Venmo a little money to college students I know, and when I do, I say it’s for WAM (walking around money) and I add the emoji of the person walking plus the emoji showing a bag of money.

 

When I was in college and in my 20s, any time I left my parents’ house, Daddy would give me some “walking around money,” which we also called “WAM.” If you aren’t familiar with the Venmo app, it’s time to get with the program. It’s super easy to send money to friends/family with Venmo. If my daughter picks up the tab for her friend at Starbucks, the friend will send her $5 via Venmo. Get it?

But no matter what little happy surprise you choose to send your child…or someone else’s…they will be grateful. College is fun, but it can be stressful, and it’s always fun to receive a package or some walking around money.

Working On My Tan

Yes, it’s September. Even though temperatures are still in the 90s in Charlotte, leaves are beginning to fall. Autumn is officially here. But this year, fall is going to be different.

Usually, as summer comes to an end, I watch my summer tan fade quickly. I look like a ghost by Halloween. This year, though, is going to be different. I plan to work on my tan year-round.

Nope. I won’t be sitting out in the sun in a swimsuit in frigid temperatures. I won’t be going to a tanning bed…no way. I won’t be getting a spray tan at the local spray tan salon…not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just too time consuming for me.

I plan to work on my tan in the privacy of my own home. I’ve tried lots of different self tanning products, but this year, I found one I absolutely love. I first purchased it in Target when it was displayed on an end cap. It’s called Tanologist. According to the Tanologist website, it is “the future of self-tanning, created by makeup artist and beauty influencer, Lottie Tomlinson.” You can see the website here.

 

 

There are multiple Tanologist products. I have tried two, and I will be trying more in the near future. I’ve been pleased with the results from both products I’ve used…one is the Tanologist Face + Body Drops, and the other is the Tanologist Self Tan Water.

The drops were the first product I tried. I’m going to admit something here that I’ve only admitted to my daughter: the first time I used it, I didn’t read the directions. I simply put a few drops in my hands and rubbed it all over my face. The next day, my daughter remarked on my “tan” and said it was really dark. I went back to take a look at the Tanologist bottle and read the directions, and they said to “add two to three drops to moisturizer.” Eek. No wonder it was too dark! I did it wrong! So the next time, I followed the directions, and I was very pleased with the results. For me, I have found that it’s best to add a few drops to my moisturizer and apply it to my face…then wait 15 or 20 minutes before applying foundation. And if you’re not wearing gloves or a tanning mitt when you apply it, wash your hands thoroughly immediately after using it. I learned the hard way…

For use on my arms/legs/chest, I prefer the Tanologist Water. It’s a spray, and I’ve found it easy to use.  I spray a few pumps on my arms and legs, rub it evenly all over, and then quickly wash my hands (unless I’m wearing gloves). No one wants the insides of their hands to be tan, and this stuff will definitely tan the palms of your hands if you don’t wash it off quickly. Don’t ask me how I know.

A word of caution: after you use it, wait a while before putting on clothes. I usually wait for it to air dry a little before I put on an old bathrobe. If it stains the inside of my old bathrobe, it’s OK, because I’ve had it forever. But the stuff will stain your clothes if you aren’t careful.

I love the color it gives my skin, and I also love that it doesn’t have the same odor that a lot of other self tanners have. It does have an odor, but I actually like it! To me, the color seems more natural than other self tanners I have used in the past…and I’ve used a lot of them. It has only looked streaky one time, and that was because when I washed my hands after applying it, some water ran down my forearm, so as the color developed, there was a white streak on my arm. So just be careful when you wash your hands.

So yes, I plan keep a bit of a tan year round. I just don’t like the ghostly look on me. You can purchase Tanologist at your local Target or online from Target here. I’ve checked other places, and Target had the best pricing I could find. If you opt to try Tanologist, let me know what you think!

 

 

 

 

*****

Would You Eat This?

I have had a great time trying my hand at gardening for the past two summers. My husband helps me get everything started, and then, I tend the garden and harvest everything. This year, we have some beautiful sunflowers (three different types!), some zinnias, some delicious tomatoes, two varieties of sweet corn, and huitlacoche (also known as corn smut, a fungus on corn ears). While I’m proud of the flowers, tomatoes, and corn, I am just as excited about the huitlacoche (pronounced wheetlacochay).

For those who don’t know, in the US, huitlacoche, or corn smut, is considered a blight on a corn crop. It’s ugly…no doubt about it. And it certainly doesn’t look like something you should eat. The first time I saw it, in fact, I felt a little sick just from looking at it. But for centuries in Mexico, dating back to the Aztec culture, they have eaten it. Basically, it is a fungus that invades the corn plant, and as a result, the corn kernels grow into bulbous galls, which contain the spores of the fungus. It renders the corn useless, but if you know how to cook huitlacoche, it can be a delicious mistake in your garden!

Last year, I found a little on one ear, but this year, I found a lot on two ears, so I harvested it Monday, and yesterday, I cooked it. After finding it, I texted a friend from Mexico, who sent me several recipes for a few different ways to cook huitlacoche, and I opted to make tacos using a combination of some recipes…using onions, garlic, chilies, corn and cheese. You can learn more about huitlacoche here.

I know what you’re thinking. Is huitlacoche safe to eat? Trust me when I say I did a lot of reading before I cooked it. I talked extensively with a friend from Mexico, who assured me I would not die from eating the corn truffles, as they are sometimes called.

For research, a friend went to lunch with me at a Charlotte restaurant called Bakersfield. See its website here. It’s located on the corner of East Boulevard and Kenilworth…right across from Berry Brook Farms. I wanted to see what it was supposed to look like and find out how it is supposed to taste before trying to cook it. After having a Huitlacoche Taco at Bakersfield, I was completely sold! I could hardly wait to make my own at home!

img_9869.jpg

Bakersfield’s Huitlacoche Taco

Many of my friends couldn’t believe I would cook it…and they really couldn’t believe I would eat it! They saw the “before” pictures of the corn smut and decided they would not be eating it. But I cooked it with some chilies, corn, garlic onions, a little oil, and some cheese, and I ate it!Huitlacoche tastes a little like smokey corn…like a mushroom and corn mixed, and cooked with the other ingredients in the recipe, the flavor is amazing. So I was excited to cook it myself! While I’m sure there are some who would not like it, I found it delicious…and I was so proud of myself for not only harvesting it, but also cooking something really good with it. That being said, the rest of my family would not eat it, but they aren’t very adventurous eaters anyway. I’m not sure they believed me when I told them it was safe. Maybe they thought they shouldn’t eat it in case I needed to go to the hospital. But their worries proved unfounded.

img_9996

Huitlacoche Taco at my home! Success!

And frankly, they missed out on a culinary adventure. I’m sure my friends from Mexico would know my version of huitlacoche tacos wasn’t perfect, but they’re impressed I tried. And I’ve impressed myself this time! My friend, Cesar, who grew up in Mexico City, said, “You’re the only American woman I know who can grow it!” Of course, it was purely accidental that I became a huitlacoche farmer, but I’m so glad I did!

If you would like to try huitlacoche but don’t want to do any corn farming, you can get huitlacoche tacos at Bakersfield.

Or maybe next year I will harvest my own huitlacoche again, and you can come over and help me cook them!

 

 

Eat Corn Fungus? You Bet!

I have had a great time trying my hand at gardening for the past two summers. My husband helps me get everything started, and then, I tend the garden and harvest everything. This year, we have some beautiful sunflowers (three different types!), some zinnias, some delicious tomatoes, two varieties of sweet corn, and huitlacoche (also known as corn smut, a fungus on corn ears). While I’m proud of the flowers, tomatoes, and corn, I am just as excited about the huitlacoche (pronounced wheetlacochay).

For those who don’t know, in the US, huitlacoche, or corn smut, is considered a blight on a corn crop. It’s ugly…no doubt about it. And it certainly doesn’t look like something you should eat. The first time I saw it, in fact, I felt a little sick just from looking at it. But for centuries in Mexico, dating back to the Aztec culture, they have eaten it. Basically, it is a fungus that invades the corn plant, and as a result, the corn kernels grow into bulbous galls, which contain the spores of the fungus. It renders the corn useless, but if you know how to cook huitlacoche, it can be a delicious mistake in your garden!

Last year, I found a little on one ear, but this year, I found a lot on two ears, so I harvested it Monday, and yesterday, I cooked it. After finding it, I texted a friend from Mexico, who sent me several recipes for a few different ways to cook huitlacoche, and I opted to make tacos using a combination of some recipes…using onions, garlic, chilies, corn and cheese. You can learn more about huitlacoche here.

I know what you’re thinking. Is huitlacoche safe to eat? Trust me when I say I did a lot of reading before I cooked it. I talked extensively with a friend from Mexico, who assured me I would not die from eating the corn truffles, as they are sometimes called.

For research, a friend went to lunch with me at a Charlotte restaurant called Bakersfield. See its website here. It’s located on the corner of East Boulevard and Kenilworth…right across from Berry Brook Farms. I wanted to see what it was supposed to look like and find out how it is supposed to taste before trying to cook it. After having a Huitlacoche Taco at Bakersfield, I was completely sold! I could hardly wait to make my own at home!

img_9869.jpg

Bakersfield’s Huitlacoche Taco

Many of my friends couldn’t believe I would cook it…and they really couldn’t believe I would eat it! They saw the “before” pictures of the corn smut and decided they would not be eating it. But I cooked it with some chilies, corn, garlic onions, a little oil, and some cheese, and I ate it!Huitlacoche tastes a little like smokey corn…like a mushroom and corn mixed, and cooked with the other ingredients in the recipe, the flavor is amazing. So I was excited to cook it myself! While I’m sure there are some who would not like it, I found it delicious…and I was so proud of myself for not only harvesting it, but also cooking something really good with it. That being said, the rest of my family would not eat it, but they aren’t very adventurous eaters anyway. I’m not sure they believed me when I told them it was safe. Maybe they thought they shouldn’t eat it in case I needed to go to the hospital. But their worries proved unfounded.

img_9996

Huitlacoche Taco at my home! Success!

And frankly, they missed out on a culinary adventure. I’m sure my friends from Mexico would know my version of huitlacoche tacos wasn’t perfect, but they’re impressed I tried. And I’ve impressed myself this time! My friend, Cesar, who grew up in Mexico City, said, “You’re the only American woman I know who can grow it!” Of course, it was purely accidental that I became a huitlacoche farmer, but I’m so glad I did!

If you would like to try huitlacoche but don’t want to do any corn farming, you can get huitlacoche tacos at Bakersfield.

Or maybe next year I will harvest my own huitlacoche again, and you can come over and help me cook them!