Thursday, February 22, 2018

How I Do Kids Birthday Gifts.

Hey friends! Today I'm dropping in quickly to talk about something that used to stress me out BIG TIME.

I'm talking about birthday gifts.

No, not for my own kids...for the birthday parties my kids are invited to.

I don't know about you but finding time to shop for a birthday gift for someone else's child stresses me out.  I don't know what they like. I don't know what they already have.  And in true Amanda fashion, I usually forget about the party until the last minute.  ;)

Someday I'll be super organized.  #someday

I learned long ago to let the little things go and shopping for the perfect birthday gift for each birthday party the boys' were invited to was one of those things that had to go.  I just couldn't do it.  And honestly, I hope no other mom feels stressed trying to buy my kids a birthday gift.  Those boys are happy with 5 bucks and a hug. (Or a manly fist bump.  Whatever.)

So instead of gifts, I am now a cash-only gift giver.  You may be one of these too and I salute you, girlfriend.  It is just SO much easier and what kid doesn't like cash!?!

To make things as simple and efficient as possible, I also started buying blank birthday cards in bulk to have on hand at all times.  Let me tell you, it is so much easier to just grab a card from the stash, have the boys write a little note, sign their names and throw in some money.  Done and done five minutes before we leave.

And if I don't happen to have enough cash on hand, I will do one of two things.

1.  Drive through an ATM on the way to the party.

2.  Raid my kids' wallets.

Yeah...I don't love admitting that but they always have cash!  And not to worry--I always leave an IOU so I can keep track of what I've stolen borrowed. ;)   They always get repaid.  I'm an honest mama.

Last weekend I used up our last card from our stash and needed to order new ones.  I got on Amazon and was looking through the options and they had some seriously cute ones!  And you can't beat these prices.  If I go buy a ready-made Hallmark card, it could cost as much as $5 a card and considering these 8-year-old boys are barely even glancing at these cards, I find that a total waste of money.

When you buy these blank cards in bulk, you get them for super cheap but they are still so cute which is just a win all around.

So if you are still riding the struggle bus when it comes to presents for your kid's friends, try this instead!  If you want to get a little more creative with your monetary gift, try giving the cash in all singles.  My kids think they are SO RICH when they get even just $10 in singles.  It just looks like so much money to them.

Need some ideas for cute blank card bundles??

Here are some of my favorites over on Amazon.

I love this bright and classic 20 card set.  Great for girls or boys and only $15.

And ohhhhhh this set caught my eye because y'all know I LOVE color!  (I mean...have you seen my Etsy shop?!  Color fanatic.)  The black chalkboard looking background against all the pretty colors is so pretty!  This is a set of 8 for right at $1 a piece.  These would be so cute for any age child as well as adults, teachers, friends...anyone!  I want one.

And I love the rustic and colorful flair of this set.  At .60 cents each, this cute set of 20 cards is a great option!  I can't decide which design is my favorite.  Maybe those colorful cupcakes against the wood backdrop.

This set of 48 blank cards is a really great option if you need them often for graduations, congrats,  thank you notes, baby shower gifts, sympathy as well as birthdays.  I like to keep a set of these on hand too and they have come in handy so many times.

And for $13 for 48 cards, it's kind of a no-brainer.  For those of y'all who want to do the math I'll do it for you (with the help of my calculator).  That's .27 cents per card.  These are 4x6 cards too, not scrawny little ones.  

And these cute cards just made me happy as soon as I saw them!  Aren't these little party hats adorable!?!

You get 48 of these 4x6 cards for under $11!  So stinkin' cute.  Classic, adorable and gender neutral. Love.

And if you want to go a little fancier, try these cute pop-up cards!  These are so perfect for little boys!

And finally, I have a feeling these funny dog cards are what my boys would pick out.  These are quirky and funny and memorable, that's for sure!  I ordered a pack of these and can't wait to show them.

They come in a pack of 24 for just $10 and have both girl and boy dogs.  I think these are so great.  

So yeah, I know this was kind of a random topic for today's post but I just had to share.  I know that giving money in cards is not an original idea.  But having blank cards on hand at all times is just one less thing I have to worry about in life and ANY kind of small life hack is a win in my book.

I'll be back tomorrow for some fun new Friday Favorites!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

TV Talk on Tuesday.

Happy Tuesday, friends!  

Today I'm linking up with Erika and Ashley to bring you a little Tuesday Talk.  Tuesday TV Talk to be more precise.

This is not what I had planned to chat about today but yesterday I decided to try out a new show on Hulu and landed on this one.


I ended up binge-watching the first 4 episodes of 9-1-1 and y'all, this show is SO GOOD!!

You should absolutely be watching this show.

Here are a few reasons why.

1.  Connie Britton.  I LOVE her.  Long live Tammy Taylor. (Friday Night Lights)

2.  Peter Krause a.k.a Adam Braverman.  He is just as lovable and quietly heroic as he was in Parenthood.

3.  Angela Bassett.  She's always a badass.

4.  There's no shortage of drama and jaw-dropping moments.

5.  The characters are all so compelling.  You will root for them and cry with them.

If you love Chicago Fire (another one you MUST watch), you'll love this!!  The show follows first responders from Fire & Rescue, the police and 911 dispatchers.  There are roller coaster accidents, plane crashes, car crashes, overdoses, giant snakes, and in the first episode they rescue a newborn baby that was dropped down a drain pipe in an apartment building.  I about drama.

If this show gets canceled anytime soon, I will cry.  Not even kidding.

And since I'm talking about Hulu, I thought I'd plug it a little here.  I decided to give Hulu a try when I had pretty much binge-watched everything I wanted to on Netflix and wanted more variety.  Plus, I don't have a DVR up in my craft room where I spend all day every day working on Etsy orders so this is the only way I can watch CURRENT shows.  If I miss Grey's Anatomy from the night before, I know I can watch it the next day on Hulu while I work.  Or a million other shows.

So if you are a fellow binger, you should 100% absolutely give Hulu a try.   Plans start at $7.99 a month but I bumped mine up to the commercial-free plan for $12 a month because who wants to watch commercials if you don't have to?  #notme

If you want, you can try it free for 30 days HERE.  And if you need binge watching recommendations here are a few of my favorite from Hulu:

Any Real Housewives franchise (obvi)
The Mindy Project
The Goldbergs
Family Matters
The Good Wife
Ugly Betty
Step By Step
Samantha Who?

This was just off the top of my head.  There are SO MANY OPTIONS!  Of course, there are also tons of movies as well but since we are talking binge-watching I stuck to TV shows.

And something else I've been watching that has been unexpectedly hilarious is...

The Bachelor Winter Games.

I forgot to record it on my DVR so I've been watching on Hulu while I work and it is ridiculous but so funny!  It's kind of like Bachelor in Paradise meets one of those crazy Japanese game shows meets Wipeout.  So far it's just cracking me up.  It hasn't been as cringe-worthy (yet) as past Bachelor in Paradise seasons.  I think it's worth it to just watch all of them bust their butt repeatedly during all the competitions on the snow and ice.  And watching Ashley I. have meltdowns over why she's always stuck in the friend zone is always a good time as well.  Can someone just tell this girl that if she would stop acting like a 12-year-old girl she might get a date?

Anyway, I didn't really mean for this to be a commercial for Hulu but it's a great option if you're bored with Netflix and want to try out something else.  

But don't forget to watch 9-1-1!  Wednesdays on FOX.  The more people who watch, the less likely it will get canceled right?  Do it for me!  ;)

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday Favorites #46.

Helllloooooo FRIDAY!!  I can't wait until you are O.V.E.R.

This week has been long.  I feel like it's been one thing after another that is being thrown at me and I am doing a steady swing-and-a-miss with each one.

I've written several paragraphs complaining about why I feel you should NEVER put Teacher Appreciation Week on the same week as the Valentine's Day madness but I keep deleting them because I sound....less than sweet.  ;) 

Let's just say it's way too much to remember and Teacher Appreciation Week is no longer just bringing your teacher a gift at the end of the week.  #becausethatwouldbetooeasy

Anyway, since my week has been long, my Favorites list is going to be short.  I honestly just couldn't come up with a ton of favorites this week.

These sweet boys will always be my favorite though.  

On Wednesday, I joined the boys at their class parties...

I had been saving this pink sweater, especially for Valentine's Day.  And wouldn't you know it, it was 70 degrees by the end of the day.  I wore it anyway.  ;)  It's so cute and so comfortable and I love the bell sleeves.

Mason dominated at the chopsticks and candy hearts game.

And Matthew was not happy with his hair after he saw this picture.  haha

After school, they came home to a little Valentine's treat.

Candy and Pokemon cards for Mason.

And candy and baseball cards for Matthew.  They are so easy to please.  :)

For dinner, Craig cooked me a yummy steak dinner AND did the dishes.  It was exactly how we like our Valentine's Day.  Delicious but low key.  :)

Other than Valentine's and Teacher Appreciation, it's been more of the same.  Work!

Here are a few of my favorites from this week.  Keep my shop in mind for all your Teacher Appreciation needs!  ;)  SO many cute options!

(Everything available HERE in my Etsy shop!)

And I snapped a couple of pictures of the boys' teacher name signs before I got the rest of their gift all packed up.  These little signs are PERFECT for a teacher gift, y'all!  Find them HERE.

*Turnaround time is about 2 weeks so please keep that in mind! Rush Fee is available!

We are really looking forward to our weekend!  I have 20 orders to get sent out today so once those are done (hopefully by 5pm), I can relax and maybe even do some more work on Matthew's very slow-going room makeover.  I feel like it is a marathon, not a sprint with all my DIY projects.  ;)

And if you missed my last book review, find it here.

And before I go, I have to mention the Parkland school shootings.  There are just no words.  It is HORRIFYING. God bless and comfort the families of the victims and the survivors.  So many prayers.  So. many. prayers.

Linking up with Narci, Andrea and Erika.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day, friends!!  

For the record, I actually stopped at CVS on Valentine's Day last year for something random (and possibly a card of my own....) and this really was what I saw.  


Are you a Valentine's Day lover or hater?  I think I fall somewhere in the middle.  I've never been very big on it but I did LOVE the excitement that it provided when I was in school.  

This was basically me...just add braces.  #eek

Back in the day, Valentine's Day was so exciting.

I still remember a boy in 4th grade pretty much shoving a box of chocolate covered cherries at me after school and running away to his mom's waiting car.  And even though I didn't like him "like that" or have any clue he liked me, it made me feel so special.  I forced myself to eat those chocolate covered cherries too even though I hate them.  Just the smell of them takes me back to that day immediately.

In junior high and high school, I always looked forward to sending out a select few Candy Grams to my besties and maybe a cute boy or two.  Then I would wait to see who sent me one and PRAY a cute boy was in the mix.  

Do y'all remember Candy Grams?  That's what we called them.  You paid $1 or whatevere it was and then you got to fill out a little card for whoever you wanted and your card plus some candy/flower was delivered to them in the middle of class. So fun.  As long as someone sent you one.  If not...ughh.  Serious damage was done.

Valentine's Day always reminds me of my childhood so I thought I'd drop in a few nostalgic pictures in case y'all are like me and miss those sweet days.  ;)

Since Barbie was pretty much the theme of my childhood we'll start with Valentine Barbie.

And oh my goodness...look at these awesome 80s Valentines!  Duck Tales!!  Muppets!  Chip and Dale!  (Not the strippers.)  Man, I loved the 80s. 

Aaaaannnddd....I now have the Duck Tales theme song stuck in my head.  
"Duck Tales!  Whooo-hooo!"

Popples!!  Do y'all remember these!!??

They were so cute!!

And possibly my very favorite.  Strawberry Shortcake.

How did I ever decide which ones to get?! 

I'm sweating just thinking about my elementary school self trying to choose the perfect Valentine's box set. 

 Decisions, decisions.

And you could never go wrong with some Valentine's Day MASH!  How else were you supposed to know who you were going to marry, how many kids you would have and if you would live in a mansion, apartment, shack or house?!

My dream ending to a Valentine's Day in the 90s was of course, curling up on a couch in a living room (preferably not my own) with someone who looked and acted remarkably like Jake from Sixteen Candles while watching...Sixteen Candles.  Or Ghost.  Or Dirty Dancing.  Or Sleepless in Seattle.  Or something equally romantic that you now know that boy just HATED.  #ohwell #butdidyouholdhands

I mean...

Those were the days.

Nowadays, Craig and I tend to leave the Valentine's Day fun to our kids.  It's hard enough trying to figure out what the other person might want for Christmas.  It's a gift in itself not to have to worry about that again 6 weeks later.  And then again in a few weeks for our anniversary.  #nothanks

And for those wondering if I get all crafty for Valentine's Day (like my business would lead you to believe), the answer is no.  I don't.

Believe it or not, I'm not a super crafty girl outside of my Etsy shop!  Maybe if I had more time I would be.  My kids' Valentine's are picked up at Walmart or CVS.   I don't add anything special to them.  I just don't have time for that although I wish I did.

Here's what I had going on last night.  I sat on the bed and put together all of Matthew and Mason's cards and threw them in a ziplock for them to pass out tomorrow.  Each card has an animal tattoo.  That's exciting, right?  ;)

And as for their Valentine's boxes, here's what I decided long ago.

When Matthew needed his first Valentine's box in Kindergarten, I made a cute Pinteresty one.  (Remember, this was before my Etsy shop.  I had a lot more time to be a cool mom back then.)  But I did this knowing that this was going to be his Valentine's box all through elementary school.  And if he ever wanted a new one, it was all on him to make it.

I did the same when Mason got to Kindergarten.  And since my kids are 1) boys and 2) super low maintenance, they couldn't care less about switching it up every year.  #thankyouCupid  They love bringing the same one to school year after year.  And I know I will save these things forever.  It will always remind me of their childhood.

These guys aren't exactly in tip-top shape anymore.  They've both gone through some facelifts to get them looking as fresh as possible again.  I've had to replace the eye on Matthew's minion a couple of times now.  And Mason's Hulk/Frankenstein (????) has had a couple of teeth replacements.  Plus he's got some random stains on his as well.  Thankfully, no one cares and they are excited to see what kind of loot they get today.  ;)

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day big?  I'm always curious how other people do things! 

Happy Valentine's Day, y'all!

Code line 7 9 is for loading jQuery library. Remove this line if you’ve already loaded it somewhere else in your blog. Hint: If your blog has an image slider, carousel or something with fading effect running, chances are it is powered by jQuery. If this widget doesn’t work, the first thing you want to do is comment out or remove this line. To use your own button, replace the URL in line 3 with the direct link URL to the image. Make sure to keep the quotes. To reposition the button, replace