Friday, December 3, 2021

Gift Guide 2021: For the Pups and/or Pet Owner

Gift Guide 2021: For the Pups and/or Pet Owner


December always marks another year that I have had Henry! I rescued him back in 2017 and I cannot believe we are approaching 4 years. I feel like I always say this but it feels like he has been in my life forever. He is SUCH a joy. 

This year, my parents got a dog, Buddy, who is also an Australian Cattle Dog so now we have 3 dogs within our immediate family. Henry is certainly the alpha male that rules over the other two (Bean is my sister's dog). Buddy is 1.5 years old, Bean is 5 years old, and we think Henry is now about 6 years old.

I LOVE shopping for Henry. I cannot resist buying him new toys and treats and all sorts of things. He loves toys so much and always destroys them. I never want to know how much I have spent collectively on stuffed toys, haha!! 

I think it's so fun to give family pets gifts for the holidays but I also think it is so fun to give a pet owner something that represents their pets. My husband lives for gifts like this. I have gotten him a Henry mug, rocks glass, etc. and he treats them as prized possessions. 


Gift Guide 2021: For the Pups and/or Pet Owner

We had Mac for 14ish years and now I have had Henry for 4 years, I feel very qualified to dish out suggestions on gifts for dogs and their owners! There are SO many fun things out there. I thought I would highlight some of the items that are within this gift guide! 

Wobble Treat Dispensing Kong// I'm going to get my sister's dog this toy. It's such a good one. It looks like a giant kong. The base is weighted so it sits upright and then there is this small hole on the side. I add treats into it and then Henry knows to nudge it around to get the treats out. So it's interactive and kind of like a puzzle toy. He loves it!!! 

Stainless Slow Feeder Dog Bowl// Henry was in need of a new food bowl. The catch is that he needs a slow-feeder because he eats crazy fast. I did a lot of research on this and stainless steel is the way to go because of how easy it is to clean and its antimicrobial properties. Apparently, some of the bowls sold on Amazon are not high-quality stainless or even fully stainless. So, I ended up with this one. It really is slow feeding, too, which is so great. 

Super Chewer Bark Box// I buy these super chewer toys by Bark Box at Target so often. Henry wrecks stuffed toys within minutes so sometimes I will get him these more rubberized toys so that they last longer. He LOVES them, I think because the fabric on the outside makes him think it's a stuffed toy, even though there is no stuffing inside. So I figured I would get him the Bark Box subscription. He had it a while ago and then I think I just never renewed it. So this year this is what he is getting! 

Pet ID Clip// This is so smart. It is a clip you can attach your pet's ID tag to so you can swap collars so quickly and easily. It's basically like a tiny carabiner. 

Custom Pet Illustration// This is what we had done for our wedding. We bought the licensing for it so we were able to use it on tons of things. I got my husband custom stationery using this illustration and it turned out SO cute. I also had napkins made using this sketch. Once you own the sketch you could literally have it put on anything! 

Car Pet Hammock// I've shared this a lot. I have a tan-interior car and it's SO hard to find a nice quality hammock for the backseat of a car in tan! We have had this one for years and I love it. I just toss it in the washing machine whenever it is needed and it has held up so well!

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Lately

I can't believe it's the last month of 2021. How does time move this quickly? 2020 still has me all messed up when it comes to time- anyone else? It is so wild 2022 is just weeks away!

This week was a lot calmer for me in terms of work since the Cyber week sales started to slow after Monday! Phew. Back to regularly scheduled holiday programming around here!! We have lots going on this month so I'm just kind of trying to work ahead and plan ahead as much as I can to keep it all organized!!!

Did you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving? We had a great time at my parent's. Nothing too crazy and same as usual. It was so nice that my sister and her husband were in town for a little over a week so we got to spend lots of time with them!!!! 

Wearing: This Faux Mink Neck Warmer is my newest favorite thing. It seriously looks like real mink, I cannot get over it. It's lined in satin-like real fur usually is and is the most beautiful brown color. I think it looks so chic and really elevates even the most basic winter outfits! 

Watching: Ok you all need to go watch this behind-the-scenes of the filming for an Emirates ad. It is INSANE. I would not consider myself afraid of heights but OMG. I could never. Can you even imagine?!?

Listening: I'm in full-on Christmas music mode here! Here's my playlist that I have been listening to for years now! 
Loving: Ok, brides, this is a GORGEOUS dress under $250. I would totally buy this for a shower or rehearsal or whatnot if I was a bride! I also wanted to share some party-ready things I have been loving so scroll through to check them out in the widget above! 
Wanting: These placemats are just darling!!!!! 

Pittsburgh: I think the Le Mont is iconic Pittsburgh. We don't typically go there for their food as I find it to be just OK (like overpriced banquet food), but they make a great martini and their bar has a beautiful view of the city so we often go there for drinks before going to dinner somewhere else. I also think it needs a bit of an update. It's opulent with gorgeous chandeliers but looks dated in ways, too. All that to say, it's worth it to go for drinks and we went this past weekend and it was lots of fun and the decorations for Christmas were beautiful! 

Quoting: 'You're on no one's journey but your own.' // See more of my favorites, here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Our Family Christmas Pajamas 2021 and Decorations



I was setting the camera and my sister pulled a bow off of my tree, ha!!
SUMMERWIND15 for 15% off your purchase

Happy December!!! Can you believe we are just 25 days out from Christmas?! Each year my mom, sister, and I do matching pajamas and wear them on Christmas morning. However, we capture a shot of us beforehand so we can share what we selected for the year with all of you! We are actually going away this weekend on a family trip and will all be bringing our pajamas there, too!! So fun!

I say this every year but this is truly such a fun and easy tradition. I love collecting pajamas from each year and then re-wearing them and remembering each Christmas. Plus, the photos in our jammies that we have taken throughout the years are true treasures. I think traditions are something that brings people together, which is exactly what the holiday season is all about. The best part is that you can start a tradition whenever! So if you are reading this and thinking to yourself that you'd like to start a tradition, this is your sign to do it!! It is never too late! 

This year, Printfresh, a brand that is known for their beautiful pajamas done in colorful, unique, whimsical prints sent us matching pajama sets! How fun are these with the cheetahs all over?! It is their 'Bagheera' print which is the iconic print they are most known for! The Bagheera print comes in all sorts of different colors! The green set that we are wearing is made of super soft cotton flannel and it was so interesting to read about Printfresh working to source the perfect flannel fabric. This flannel is really lightweight- it's still warm and has a very soft feel to it, but apparently, the thinner fabric helps to keep it from pilling like a lot of other flannel fabrics can do after a few wears/washes. I really appreciate the thought and detail that goes into their products. 

Printfresh gave me a code for you all to use: SUMMERWIND15 for 15% off your purchase. Not only are they great for matching family moments, but would make such a nice gift. The perfect thing for a new mom, a mother or mother-in-law, or someone who has everything! I think a high-quality set of pajamas is always a welcome gift and you can never have too many sets! 

I sized up to a medium. Because they are cotton and because I want to be able to wash and dry them without thinking about specific settings, I wanted to make sure I got them a little bit bigger to account for potential shrinkage! I prefer my pajamas to fit loose/roomy. 





Santa Ornament (I LOVE vintage-looking santas) 

I have been so impressed with Target's ornament selection this year. I bought several including this adorable santa. My parent's rescued their sweet pup, Buddy back in May, and I found this ornament for them. SO cute for anyone that adopted a pup this year! Many of the ornaments are just $3-5 making them very affordable. When ornaments are this inexpensive, I like to find ones to attach to bows on wrapped gifts. It dressed up the packaging and is a nice personalized touch. For example, my nephew started his first year playing football so I attached a football ornament to one of his gifts that we will be giving him! Also, ornaments attached to a wine bottle look adorable and make for a fun and festive host/hostess gift! 



I really love taking photos of our tree every year. It's so interesting to see not only how our decor evolves from year-to-year a but also to see our tree fill up with more ornaments each year. The first year, we barely had any 'meaningful' ornaments and in the past 3 years, we have gained quite a few ornaments. Eventually, I'd love our tree to look like this but I only want ornaments with meaning so it will take a while and I'm perfectly OK with that. We do have some special ornaments from our childhood that just bring me SO much joy. It's funny how we have so many similar ornaments- we both have a birth year one, etc. And for right now, we do have some ornaments without 'meaning' to use as filler until we collect more. 

My husband and I purchase an ornament on trips that we go on throughout the year. I also typically gift my husband an ornament or two to represent something throughout the year. For example, my husband got his dream grill last year and he is so in love with it and uses it weekly. So last year, I got him a grill ornament and wrote the year on it. I haven't given him his ornament yet this year- I tie it on a wrapped gift for Christmas day, so I will keep that one under wraps, but it's a fun little tradition I didn't necessarily mean to turn into a tradition!

Full tree review, here, so I won't go into too much detail but it's truly a beautiful tree for being fake.




I think this mini tree is one of my favorite things. You can see the full post, here. It is so easy to set up. I wish I would have done something like this in my apartment when I didn't really have a place for a full-size tree!! 

This is one of my very favorite holiday candles. It smells like a pine tree but also has a woody/cozy/manly scent to it, too. It's just very cozy and festive. I got mine on Amazon because it saves you about $4 compared to other websites like Nordstrom. This makes a really nice hostess gift. The box is so pretty you could even just put a bow on top! 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Your Guide to Giving Tuesday: Ways to give this holiday season


Now that we've surpassed Cyber Week, it's time to talk about something much more important-- and really what the entire holiday season is about and that is giving.

Giving Tuesday is a nationwide day dedicated to giving. Give time, money, love--whatever you have to give. Obviously, it's great to give often, but it's a worldwide effort today to remind people to be generous with what they have.

We all know giving is important, I know you are all so incredibly giving and so I don't need to preach to you or anyone. But sometimes, and I can only speak for myself, I can get caught up in the busyness of day-to-day life and it's nice to get a gentle reminder to think of others. I also find it helpful to be reminded of ways to give. Kindness, empathy, patience, time, money, whatever you have to give- it always feels so good when you do it, right?! 

Now, as a disclaimer, I couldn't possibly share every single non-profit and I'm sure I'm leaving out SO many wonderful organizations. This is meant to be a positive post to inspire you to give and potentially provide you with a jumping-off point- NOT the be-all and end-all. 

Give to Organizations:

Ronald McDonald House
Since I met my husband, the Ronald McDonald House has really hit home for me. My husband's brother passed away from leukemia when they were growing up and although I have heard of the struggles, it's still so hard for me to fathom the loss of a sibling or having your child pass away. Life is hard and stressful even when it's going OK, the added heartbreak of having a sick child is just too much!!! The goal is to provide families who have sick children in the hospital a place to stay for an extended period of time. This is so they can keep their other worries to a minimum so that they can focus on their child's health. At the house, meals are served daily, there are common rooms/playrooms for children, and the locations are very close to the hospitals, too.

This non-profit fulfills wishes for children with critical illnesses. This is where you can donate for the local PA/WV chapter. And this is where you can find your local chapter

WFS provides behavioral healthcare services and support programs to children, adults, and families over the course of their lives so that they are empowered to reach their full potential. 

There is nothing worse than being cold during the winter and in Pittsburgh, the cold is unbearable at times. No one should ever have to be without a coat. Project Bundle-Up has helped since 1986!

This is similar to Project Bundle-Up but on a national level. I just learned about it last year. You can put in your zip code and see if there are local chapters and many of them will come and pick them up. There are tons of non-profits here in Pittsburgh that will accept the coats and pick them up. They take gently used coats, but if you don't have any of those, Costco has tons of really affordable coat options. Many are under $30. 

Shriners Hospitals for Children
The organization raises money for Shriner hospitals around the country that provide care to children at no cost to the families, specifically burn care, orthopedics, cleft lip and palate, and spinal cord injury treatment and care. My dad and grandfather are both Shriners! They've helped over one million children in need.

Pittsburgh Food Bank
Unfortunately, the need is so great here in Pittsburgh. I imagine this is sadly a similar situation in a lot of other cities and towns across the country. Donate, donate, donate! I have found myself donating to the food bank here in Pittsburgh every few months monetarily, but even just recently our Orange Theory collected food and it was SO heartwarming to see how much all of us donated. They have guidelines on what they accept so be sure to take a look at their website to review those.

Washington Area Humane Society
This is a no-kill 501(c)(3) animal shelter and where we saved Mac, our Australian Cattle Dog- he passed away almost 4 years ago (I can't believe it's been that long), but he was the absolute BEST. I'm a huge dog person. Tracy's Dogs, where we adopted Henry is no longer functioning (SO SAD) but there are so many local shelters all over the country that you can help. If I could adopt all the dogs in the world and give them safe, warm, happy homes, I would. Since I can't, and most can't do that, adopting just one dog can help! I know SO many of you have done just that this year and seeing our local shelter's adoption posts warm my heart. If a dog is not for you, you can also donate your time or money to help! Another shelter in the Pittsburgh area is Animal Friends, which is also no-kill.

I am a huge advocate for pet adoption. There are SO many dogs who need good homes and giving the gift of a wonderful life for a pet is so selfless and wonderful. Although, adopting Henry was the best thing I have ever done and I'm pretty sure I benefitted even more than he did. When you adopt from any organization or shelter around the world, you are actually saving 2 dogs. You save the dog you adopt and the dog that gets that open spot in a shelter. If you go through an organization like Tracy's Dogs, you end up saving 3 dogs because you open a spot at the organization, too. 

Meals on Wheels
This serves older Pittsburghers and those who are unable to prepare nutritious meals for themselves. It's a great organization and you can help by donating your time, money or in-kind donations such as food and/or kitchen supplies.

Children's Hospital
One of the worst things is having something happen to one of your loved ones. It's truly heartbreaking. If you are a Pittsburgher, consider donating to Children's Hospital. There are Children's hospitals all over the country, so be sure to look up one near you if you are not in the Pittsburgh area.

American Red Cross 
They're always there when disaster strikes. Donate your time, money, blood, food, anything you can to help. You can choose what you specifically donate to!

Dress for Success
This promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women. I love that one of my favorite brands, Talbots, hosts a big drive for this non-profit every year.

United Way
There are so many ways that you can help the United Way of Allegheny County and there are so many ways that the United Way helps so many of the people in your local community. From children to adults to senior citizens, there are programs that support every member of the community.

The Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh
The Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh not only collect donations but also collect old cell phones that can help women who have been victims of intimate partner violence. Maybe you have an old phone sitting in a drawer somewhere and could be a big help to someone in need!

Toys for Tots
Looking back on Christmases growing up, my sister and I were so fortunate to always wake up to gifts from Santa under our tree. Many are not that fortunate. Toys for Tots provides gifts for kids that may not have otherwise received any gifts for Christmas. I participated in this in college. One day I got to go pick up a child from his elementary school, and take him out for lunch and to shop! We went to Target and picked up all sorts of things that he wanted. When I found out he had a brother, we had fun picking out surprises for his brother, too! It was such a fun day and so enjoyable to see how excited he was!


Spread Love and Happiness...

- Pay for someone's coffee or toll ticket behind you. It's harder to pay for the toll now that EZ pass is so prevalent, but coffee is so easy to do at the drive-through at Starbucks! 

- Help the elderly by delivering their groceries to them or placing an online order for them so that they can get the items they need to be delivered safely to them. Check on your neighbors and see if they need anything. I think it can be helpful even if you just let someone know 'hey I'm placing my grocery order, do you need anything' to anyone you're close with. It's nice to save someone a trip to the store if they just need something like eggs or whatnot for a recipe they are making!

- Tip your full bill amount To me, this one is SO much fun. 

- Give someone a genuine and encouraging compliment. Whether that be on social media or in person or by text. 

- If you are not having your annual holiday party this year, in lieu of gifts ask for donations to a charity of your choice. 

- Use a local florist to send flowers to someone 'just because'. You are supporting a small business and making someone's day!

- If you pray, say a prayer.

- If you have an Amazon account, remember to shop through Amazon Smile which automatically donates to the charity/cause of your choice. This one is a no-brainer! 

- Recognize those who help you on a day-to-day basis: ex. mailmen/UPS/FedEx/etc., coaches at your local gym, your neighbors, valet, doormen, coworkers, etc. We put out the treat basket for our delivery people, we always tip our garbage men and when I lived in a doorman/valet building, I always gave them tips and gifts! If you don't have money to give, show your appreciation by writing a note of thanks! It's always nice to be appreciated for the job you do! 

- Help local businesses that you love in your community by going online and reviewing them or recommending them to your friends and family on social media. 

- Be a mentor. Whether it's professionally or personally, be someone that can help a person pursue their goals and dreams and guide them in the right direction. I have so many great mentors in my life and am so lucky to have them. I'm also a mentor to several and it is so much fun to cheer someone on while they are pursuing their dreams.

- Take on an in-kind project. For example, if you are a web designer and have some extra time, help design a struggling startup's website. Or if you're an accountant and know a family that is struggling, offer to help them create a great budget.

- Start a 'you've been jingled' chain. This happened to us during Halloween- it was 'you've been boo'd' and it was so cute. I found a holiday version, here, and explains how it works. It was so much fun to do and adorable for children!
Brands that Give Back
Brands that give back in both big and small ways are amazing and make you feel good about placing an order! I know I am missing a ton of brands so if you have any good ones, let everyone know in the comments! 



DS is launching a limited-edition blanket (today!!!) made from repurposed fleece fabric - for every blanket purchased, one will be donated to a St. Jude’s patient. I ordered one for my MIL last year!




Leesa Mattresses (we LOVE our Leesa mattress!)


Bark Box (Henry loves his BarkBox toys!)


Rusi Hats (sent in by a follower whose family member started this!)

 

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