Merry Christmas Gift Guide

Now, I am not one to start Christmasing early.  We celebrate Advent hard and save Christmas for its proper 12 days as much as possible in today’s world.  But part of having a peaceful Advent for me is doing my Christmas shopping in November.  If you want to get an early start too, I’ve got some ideas for you!

Many of the products below were created by folks I know, or were given to me to review in the past.  There are a few (very few!) affiliate links among them.  In many cases I have included links to my reviews so you can learn more.

Let’s start with Catholic gifts. 

I used to think my only option for Catholic gifts was the local Catholic book and gift shop.  It’s still a great option when I need something right away, but there is so much else out there, much of it handmade by Catholic artisans.

I love, love, love Pink Salt Riot products.  You cannot go wrong shopping for your favorite Catholic woman here!  My top recommendation is the design your own bracelet:I wear the one I created most days!

I also love my St. Peter bracelet from Kindred Forest Co.

Visit them for a wonderful product line geared toward helping you be friends with the saints!

I am crazy about SockReligious (especially the clever name!).  There are so many choices that I can’t pick a favorite.  Maybe these?

Stay Close to Christ is another source for all kinds of Catholic gifts, including these adorable tiny saints.  You can get one for free with your $10 purchase if you enter the code LESLIE at check out.

I found these and many other favorite Catholic products via the CatholicsOnline Directory.  Click on the logo to learn more.

The talent of the artisans listed is truly a gift from God and I have been blessed by the products I have purchased.

A couple of my favorite Etsy shops I discovered via Catholics Online are Saongjai (I have bought sturdy, beautiful rosaries there) and No Heart Untouched (love her style and my husband loves the coffee cup I bought for him!).

There are always books on my Christmas list

I’ve already written some posts on Christmas-themed children’s books.  And here’s a link to non-Christmas picture books I love.

The following are a few Catholic books I have reviewed and can recommend.  Links to purchase are in each post:



And here are links to a few that I have not reviewed:

Be Yourself: A Journal for Catholic Girls  (The boys’ version is coming out soon!)

The Gift of Invitation (this is one of a series of Stay Connected journals)

Becoming Holy, One Virtue at a Time (another of the above series, to pre-order)

Made for Greatness (a growth mindset journal for Catholic kids)

Now for a few secular options!

I love the ring I purchased from Mama’s Jewelry, which contains the birthstones of all my children.  There are lots of styles to choose from and they are surprisingly affordable!  

This is the best lipstick I have ever owned.  It’s no longer available from the seller in the linked review, but you can purchase it here.

This next one is a bit pricey, but Healtop health and wellness products are amazing.

Finally, for those-hard-to-shop-for-people-who-have-everything, visit Uncommon Goods.  Honestly,  I love almost everything they sell (especially the candles)!

Let me know in the comments if you found anything here for your Christmas list!

SPONSORED Review: Sun Tail Mermaid

Y’all remember Splash, right?  About the mermaid who became human and walked the streets of New York?  And of course before that there was Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of The Little Mermaid, most recently re-interpreted by Disney.   In our popular imagination, mermaids long to leave the sea to become human, even if only for a little while.
Meanwhile, in the real world, little girls imagine being mermaids.  When I was a little girl back in the carefree 70s, spending hours every summer day in the pool, I had to try to swim with my legs together and just pretend.  But because I am a US Family Guide blogger and get to try products for free in exchange for my honest review, Lorelei’s mermaid dreams are a little more realistic!
Sun Tail makes wearable, swimmable mermaid tails out of swimsuit material.  They come in many colors–the hardest part of this whole process was deciding which one to buy.  In addition to the beautiful tails, they make monofins that fit inside the tail to complete your mermaid swimming experience.
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You can read more details about the product and company by clicking here for my first post from a few weeks ago.  In this post I want to share what Lorelei (and I) thought of the mermaid tail I ordered for her.
First of all, it’s really pretty and comfortable.  Also, it fits very nicely, and she practiced walking in it (without the monofin!), and there is totally enough stretch to make that possible.  The monofin is extremely well-made and durable, with pockets for your feet as well as three straps to make sure it stays on.  The whole thing comes with detailed instructions, and special guards to protect the delicate fabric of the tail from being torn by the monofin.
Unfortunately, it is winter, and we don’t have access to an indoor pool, so the best I can do is promise you (as Lorelei insisted I must) that at our first opportunity we will try the tail out in water to see how it performs.
If you want to make a little girl’s mermaid dream come true this Christmas I have an offer for you:
Receive a 10% discount on your order at www.SunTailMermaid.com by entering this code: BestGiftEver.  (And don’t worry–they haven’t forgotten about little boys as you can see in the picture below.)
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You Can Go with Kangeaux: SPONSORED

OK, y’all, so you know how much I love to hike.  There’s a new batch of trails in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness that Emily and I just started exploring yesterday, as a matter of fact (and more on those later!).  Now as a US Family Guide blogger I am going to receive a product that I hope will help make those excursions more convenient–at least when it comes to carrying things.

Here’s the scoop:  New carrying concept, the Walkabout by Kangeaux Outdoors, is designed to be an industrial-strength and multifunctional carrying tool for the outdoor adventurer and sports enthusiast alike. With the development of the Walkabout, Kangeaux Outdoors has designed a carrier like none other. It is predicted to become a standard for those “In The Field” — but just as easily, its ergonomic fit is ideal for the everyday carry. The Walkabout’s adaptable nature creates easy solutions for both athletic essentials like sports bottles and baseball caps, as well as everyday items like keys, phones, sunglasses, etc. There is truly no other carrier like the Walkabout.

So, I think this things sounds pretty cool.  Here are some pictures of the product and of people using it in various ways:

Here’s an offer for my readers:

Save 20% on your entire purchase!  Sign up and stay up to date with our Kangeaux Newsletter and receive a coupon code for 20% off your entire purchase! http:// www.kangeaux.com

I’ll be reviewing this item (honestly, as ever) when I receive it if you want to wait to hear what I have to say before purchasing.

 

 

A Club for Tea Lovers: SPONSORED

So maybe coffee is not for you. (I suppose people like that exist, hard as it might be for me to understand it!)  Well, I had the opportunity to enjoy a free three month subscription to a club for tea lovers recently.  My honest review follows.

We actually drink a fair amount of tea around here in addition to coffee.  William especially likes to start his morning with “strong black tea” and we all enjoy relaxing cups of chamomile or blends meant to promote sleep and relaxation.

Simple Loose Leaf shipments include at least four samples of various kinds of tea each month, and a three-month subscription will only set you back $17 each month (plus I’m going to share a coupon with you if you keep reading).

Notice I said “loose leaf.”  Most of us are used to our tea coming in little tea bags.  I remember when I first got married my mother-in-law gave me a tea ball for brewing loose tea and I didn’t know what it was for!    Of course the nice things about loose leaf tea is that you can experiment with how much you want to use to make a brew that’s right for you.  And the nice folks at Single Loose Leaf kindly provide you with reusable bags so that you will be ready to brew your first cup as soon as you open your box.

https://i1.wp.com/www.usfamilyguide.com/blogpromos/892/sll-promo-03.jpg?w=640

I’ve received two boxes so far, each with five varieties of tea:  Citrus Hibiscus Herbal, Cranberry Citrus Herbal, Ginger Peach Rooibos, Pumpkin Spice Rooibos, Jade Oolong, Japanese Sencha Saga, Lavender Sencha Green, Kenilworth Ceylon Black, Ceylon Supreme, and Bird Nest Pu’er.  You can see there is something for every palate!   Herbal teas are my favorites, but the only one here that is a bit . . . unusual . . . is the Bird Nest, which is fermented.

Each shipment comes with a card describing each tea and offering suggestions for proper brewing, as well as a discount good for future purchases.

Personally,  I think this club is a great value for tea lovers.  It would make a special gift for anyone you know who enjoys tea.  And unlike the coffee club in my last review, you don’t need any specialized equipment to brew the perfect cup.

My readers get to save! 25% off Gift Membership or Ongoing Subscription signup – Use code: 25HOLIDAY
http://usfamilycoupons.com/coupon.php?regionid=75&bid=12278&dealid=2122

 

SPONSORED: Coobie Bra Offer

Y’all remember that from time to time I do sponsored posts for US Family Guide.  Today I’m going to share some information and an offer to save on Coobie seamless bras.  Here’s what they’ve asked me to share:

Coobie Seamless Bras are ultra comfortable and versatile without sacrificing style. These affordable, stylish bras are seamless, one-size (comfortably fits 32A through 36D), available in 10+ styles and 50+ fashion colors and patterns. There is also a full size that fits 38-42D.

Violet Love Headbands are no-slip no-headache headbands that are perfect to wear for yoga, pilates, or just as a stylish accessory. They are made from Premium quality fabrics that are buttery soft and super comfy.

Promotion for my readers: Save 30% on any order of Coobie Seamless Bras or Violet Love Headbands at www.shopcoobie.com and www.violetloveheadbands.com
Use Promotion code: USFG30

Now, y’all, I don’t know a thing about these bras except what I’ve been told–but looking at the pictures, I am intrigued.  They will be sending me a free one, and after I try it out I will be reviewing it here, so stay tuned.

These Shoes Were Made for Walking

Lorelei Wesley Woods 4-28-2014 9-11-46 AM
Lorelei is off to camp with her classmates this morning.  They will be spending three days at Camp Wesley Woods, about an hour from home.
This of course necessitated a lot of shopping.  And with one thing and another, I put off this shopping until yesterday.  Yesterday evening, to be exact.  Because it was my birthday, and Walmart was really not high on my list of places to spend it.
And turns out I overestimated Walmart, or at least its shoe department.  Because Lorelei wanted rain boots–insisted, in fact, that she was SUPPOSED to have rain boots (and she can get very obsessive about such things)–and the only rain boots at Walmart were in toddler sizes.
What the packing list really said she was required to have was “hiking boots or shoes” and “tennis shoes for creek walking.” (Or maybe it said sneakers for creek walking, but same thing.)
We decided that her school sneakers, which she only wears a couple of days a week and which are close to worn out anyway, could be used for creek walking.  But Walmart was also devoid of hiking boots or shoes.  And Payless (and all other shoe stores) were closed (it was Sunday) before we figured this out.  So Target was our only hope.
You see the results of the Target trip above.  I sure hope that’s close enough to be considered hiking shoes, because they were all that came close, and we had a choice between a size 2 and a size 6 (I think 5 would have been the best choice).  And Lorelei was not happy because they are BOY shoes.
I don’t usually get worked up about this kind of thing, being pretty traditional when it comes to gender roles and stereotypes, but I got irritated this morning when Lorelei and I were talking about her shoes.  Because there were no hiking shoes for little girls.  All the little girl shoes were pink or purple or rainbow or glittery.  The only boots in sight were strictly for fashion.  And I understand that little girls like pink and purple and glittery shoes, because Lorelei likes them too.  But there weren’t even pink glittery hiking shoes.   It was as if the people who make little girl shoes don’t think little girls might ever need serious shoes to do important things in. (Yes, I know they make little girl hiking shoes.  I know I could have ordered them from Lands End–which is where I got mine–or somewhere similar.  But most people shop at Walmart and Target and can’t afford to buy expensive hiking shoes for fast-growing kids, so why should a variety of shoes be available there as well?)