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5 Gift Ideas for the most important person: You

standard February 16, 2017 Leave a response

5 Subscription Box Suggestions

So, the holidays have passed and now, finally, so has Valentine’s Day, which means that, unless your birthday is conveniently located in the dead of summer, you have long, long months to wait until someone gets you any nice presents.

You know the solution, right?

Time to get yourself something nice. Preferably in a service that delivers surprises monthly.

I’m not ashamed to say that I subscribe to a couple monthly boxes. OK, maybe one monthly and two quarterlies. Don’t judge. I like getting presents. Especially presents I got for myself, but didn’t have to pick out.

Here’s the rub. With the millions of new subscription boxes that pop up every week, which one should you treat yourself to? Lucky you, I asked my Facebook friends to suggest a few good ones. And no, they’re not all dirty.

(Note, I’m skipping all the food prep boxes. They’re all fine and dandy, but a subscription box that assigns you work is no gift.)

1. StitchFix*

Stitch Fix Subscription Box

Yes, you’ve heard of it. Yes, you’ve seen the countless Facebook posts showing off what people have received. So why haven’t you tried it yet?

Personally, I adore StitchFix. When that box arrives every month, I feel a little thrill. Before I open the box, I make sure that I have enough time to really savor what it contains…and that no one is around to taint my enjoyment.

To be brutally honest, I don’t love every single box. Sometimes I send everything back, sometimes I keep just one item. A handful of memorable times I’ve purchased the entire box and happy danced around the room because of my beautiful new clothes AND the 25% off the final price. The pieces I have kept have been in steady rotation and get me the most compliments of all the things I own.

Details: Subscription is $20/box. If you buy something, that $20 is credited to your purchase. If you buy everything in the box, you get 25% off. Bonus: StichFix is now available for men and for maternity wear.

2. FabFitFun*

FabFitFun Subscription Box

I’ll admit to hesitating before signing myself up for FabFitFun because I worried I’d be getting a box filled with random stuff that I wouldn’t either really want or know what to do with. Fact of the matter, it is a box of random stuff, but I’ve loved each one I’ve gotten.

Opening the box, which arrives quarterly, is kind of like opening a packed treasure chest filled with a mixture of beauty supplies, fun doodads, and a few fitness related items. I’ve received scarves, jewelry, yoga towels, hair serum, coloring books, tote bags, make-up, candles… you name it, it’s probably going to show up in a FabFitFun box one day.

This is one subscription box that truly makes you feel like you’ve gotten yourself an indulgent gift filled with little things that someone took special care to choose for you.

Details: You can sign up for Seasonal Membership to be charged $49.99 quarterly, 3 weeks before the box ships. Or you can sign up for an Annual Membership for $179.99 charged when you sign up. Annual Members have the option to select the items that go into their box before it ships. Seasonal Members receive a total surprise. All Members are allowed to purchase “add-ons” to supplement their boxes. Add-ons are generally items left over from previous boxes.

3. Roost Crate

Roost Crate Subscription Box

So, remember that thing I said up there about not including food boxes? Well, this one is an exception, but only because Roost Crate sends you carefully curated “treats” rather than ingredients you need to assemble and cook. While I personally have never tried this particular box, my Facebook friends swear by it. What you’ll get is a monthly box filled with 4-6 farmer’s market type products that could be found at local Upstate NY & New England stands and shops. Think handmade, artisan items like jams, honey, sauces and snacks; candles, soaps & scrubs, home & kitchen items and of course coffee & teas. This delectable box is curated by food blogger Kelly Pugliano.

Details: Select month-to-month for $39.95, three-months for $109 or 6 months for $219. Boxes ship on the 20th of each month and include 4-6 carefully curated non-perishable items.

4. Ipsy

Ipsy Subscription Box

So, this subscription box is hands down the favorite for my make-up loving friends. For a mere $10 a month (no, that’s not a typo) you get a “glam box” filled with deluxe samples and full sized beauty products. People rave about this box.  To get started you have to answer a bunch of questions about your skin type and color, make-up preferences, and product likes. On the Ipsy website you’ll find some amazing tutorials and videos related to the products that get sent out. You know, in case something arrives that leaves you scratching your head.

Details: $10/month, no apparent discount for signing for more more than a month at a time. You might get placed on a wait list when you sign up, but rumor has it the wait list moves fast. There’s a somewhat obscure “points” reward program, which I happily invite anyone familiar with to explain in the comments below. Certain “extra” products can also be bought on the site for additional fees.

5.  Bawdy Bookworms

Bawdy Bookworms Subscription Box

Here’s the deal, I won’t ask what you read when you tuck yourself into bed at night if you don’t ask me what’s on my Kindle. Ok? Phew, I’d hate to have to admit just how much fantasy fiction I read. But, if you’re the kind of person who likes the odd sultry romance, then this subscription box is definitely for you. At least, it is if we’re to believe my Facebook friends, many of whom were quick to recommend Bawdy Bookworms, prompting me to go check it out.

Dude. It’s the ultimate self-gift.

And I mean that in every sense of the term.

In short, every month, you receive in the mail a steamy read and…ah…an accessory or two that will help you take care of any urges the book stimulates.

Bawdy Bookworms was born when friends kept asking the founder (popular blogger Thien-Kim Lam) for advice on what to read after Fifty Shades or recommendations on the best bedroom toys. She dreamed up this subscription service and the accompanying members’ forum where people can come discuss books, toys, or anything else they don’t feel comfortable discussing in a more public space.

Details: If you’re into surprises, sign up for the quarterly subscription for $34.95. If you like peeking, then consider some of the boxes for sale on the site. Prices range from $57.95 to $29.95.


*Please note: links to StitchFix and FabFitFun are affiliate links, which means that, should you sign up for either of these subscription boxes, I would get a small commission. All other recommendations are shared with zero strings attached. 

Summer is for relaxing, right?

standard July 24, 2013 Leave a response

When I worked in an office and had to be at a desk every day, summers were exactly like every other day of the year. The kids had to get up with me, had to get dressed and ready, had to get out the door, had to be on time to their activities. It was a necessity, but it meant that summer never felt like, well, summer.

This is the second year in a row where summers are really feeling like summers. The kids get up when they want, have breakfast when they feel like it, get dressed eventually, have no real scheduled activities, and follow no set schedule of any sort.

For instance, right now they’re outside riding their bikes in the street.

I love that they finally get to experience true summer downtime. I have awesome memories of hot days spent riding my bike up and down the street, swimming, hanging out, and yes, sometimes being bored. I’m glad my kids are making their own memories.

But I’m loving it so much that it’s making it hard for me to stay productive.

For the first half of the summer I was doing a great job of creating a daily to do list and cranking through it before we headed out every afternoon to go swim. Then we headed to Chicago for a week of quality family time with my sister and her kids and, after a rather hectic two days of cramming work in while trying to enjoy all my nieces and nephew, I shut down my laptop, ignored my emails, and just relaxed.

You try organizing 6 kids for a photo when all they want to do is go swim.

We’ve been home for a week and I just can’t motivate myself to get back into the swing of work.

My office is a mess, my to do list is pretty light, and I have zero motivation to tackle the things on my “I’ll get to it when I have time” list.

I’m in full on summer vacation mode.

Now, trust me, I’ll be the first one to tell you that it’s good to take some time off, it’s good to relax and read a book for an afternoon, it’s good to step out of the rat race. But, every day that I stay stepped out makes it harder to step back in.

I know this. I know I should be at least thinking of stepping back in.

And yet, the books call, the couch and the lounge chairs beckon, and I really want to listen.

It stands to reason that organizing and cleaning up my office would be a great first step. Maybe even creating a bubble chart of my Summer/Fall goals. After all, I do have a book coming out soon that I need to start promoting.

But it can all wait, right? At least until after swim lessons and this evening’s picnic with friends? Maybe until after tomorrow’s morning at the park?

It’s just that summer doesn’t really last all that long and fall will be here all too soon. It makes it hard to feel guilty about putting it off a bit longer. 

4 more weeks of summer. We’re going to embrace each and every one.

Legos on Vacation at the Brickation!

standard July 30, 2012 84 responses

You know what the best part of summer vacation turns out to be? Those long afternoons with nowhere to be and nothing to get done. Mommy has no deadlines. Daddy is on vacation. As for the kids? They’re just begging to be entertained.

And what better way to entertain the whole family than with a nice big bucket of Legos?

OK, maybe an afternoon eating ice cream trumps that, but now we’re just being nit-picky.

I’m not the only one who thinks that Legos and summer vacation are a match made in heaven. Lego themselves agrees with me and has planned a few fun events around the country around the Summer Brickation theme.

If you’re a lucky Bay Area resident who happens to be heading up to Lake Tahoe to soak in some rays and some sights this summer or you’re a resident of the gorgeous lake, you’re in luck. One of the Lego Brickation events is taking place at the Heavenly Village all summer long through September 4th.

A few more details as per the Heavenly Village:

Shop #8 (on Highway 5) 10-8pm. Open 7 days a week thru September 4. The LEGO Summer Brickation will showcase the best of what the LEGO group has to offer. It will enable children and adults to benefit from a fun, hands-on experience of building and creating LEGO bricks and products. Different activity areas will be featured, providing families enjoyment in everything from building, games and challenges, to photo opportunities with life size LEGO models. Activity areas will include DUPLO® Boat, Build Tables, Creation Station, Race Ramps and LEGO Challenge Zone. Other notable experiences offered will be a LEGO South Lake Tahoe Mosaic, along with Life Size LEGO Models and a LEGO Cityscape.

Sounds like fun, right? Bummer we weren’t in Tahoe quite long enough to make it to the South Shore! That’s ok though, I think we have enough Lego bricks right here at home to attempt our own lake view reproduction!

Want to win this prize pack? See below for details!

As for you, the fun can start even before you get there! Enter below to win a fun little Lego prize pack to get your own Lego collection started or to add to your already existing stash! As a bonus you’ll also win a $20 gift card which you can use to add to that collection or to get that ice cream we were just talking about… hey, I’m not judging!

(Giveaway starts right away and ends on Sunday, August 5th. Bear with me as I try out Rafflecopter!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note: this post is part of a Gigcoin campaign for Lego.

Time for Camp!

standard July 11, 2012 Leave a response

I am sitting at my desk, hot cup of coffee at my right, long to do list at my left, and can you hear that? No? Well, that’s because there’s nothing to hear. No “MAMA!!” No yelling. No playing or laughing. Not even the sound of the TV.


This moment of serenity today is being brought to you, well, to me really, by the lovely and amazing people at Camp Galileo.

C and Little L have been traipsing off to camp every day this week with big smiles on their faces. Smiles that are only eclipsed by the even bigger ones they sport when I pick them up at 3pm.

So far, and I realize we’re only halfway through the week so I’m touching wood as I type, camp has been a roaring success. The girls have come home full of stories about the science experiments they’ve been doing, the art projects they’re working on, and even the games they’ve been playing during outdoor time.

Chicken-opoly anyone?

They’re in separate groups due to age. Little L is a Nebula, aka a ‘Nebbie’ or as she calls it a ‘Nevvie.’ C is a Star, and no, she isn’t going to let us forget that any time soon!

Two girls at camp
The Star and the ‘Nevvie’ sporting their group colors for color day!

I’ve been impressed with the Camp Galileo organization since the day I first started working with them, but this week they’ve really blown my socks off.

The sheer number of staffers available to welcome the campers and parents in the morning is amazing. People are responsive, cheerful, excited about being there. It really makes it easy to walk away knowing that the kids are in great hands.

I’ve also really appreciated how, at pick-up, each counselor takes a moment to give me a rundown on how each child’s day went, making sure to share at least one anecdote about the day that directly pertains to my child. It might seem like a little thing, but knowing how chaotic camp pick-up can be, it’s really very welcome!

So far the only downsides have been yesterday’s tuna sandwiches, (but really, that’s my fault, I shouldn’t have assumed that all tuna sandwiches were created equal and should have known that only the ones made by our beloved daycare provider were considered acceptable), and an incident concerning a castle in the Kindergarten playground that gave Little L nightmares last night. A quick call to the camp supervisor later and she assured me that they’d work to turn the stories surrounding the castle into something heartwarming rather than scary. (Please note that neither of those issues are the camp’s issue. The hot lunch is being brought in by a 3rd party organization and the castle is a permanent fixture at the school where camp is being held.)

So there you have it. Our camp interlude in the middle of our “summer at home” (clearly a misnomer given just how many times I’ve been on a plane since June…) is a real success. And now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go make myself a second cup of coffee and keep enjoying the quiet. 3pm and the noise it heralds isn’t all that far away.

Two girls walking at camp
Heading straight towards “Fun!!”

Local peeps! Summer is far from over and Camp Galileo still has some openings! Your child too could be learning science while doing art and having a blast! Catch a glimpse of the fun being had on the Camp Galileo Facebook Page.

Please note: I am being compensated for this post and the two I’ve written previously on this topic by the delightful people at Camp Galileo in the form of a week of camp for both of my children. Not only are they receiving my words, but also my eternal gratitude for this teensy break in the middle of summer.