25 Practical and Useful Gift Ideas: A Minimalist Gift Guide || 12 Days of Blogmas 2020 Day 1

Hello friends, and HAPPY BLOGMAS!! I’ve been doing blogmas for several years now, and while I . . . don’t think I’ve ever finished, it’s always been fun to try! I’ve posted some of my favorite blogposts over blogmas, and it’s always fun to start the new year off on a blogging roll, you know?

Like last year, I’ll be doing 12 days of blogmas: 12 blogposts spread out throughout December leading up to Christmas. It’s not going to be super Christmas themed or anything, but I’m excited to do it!

For today’s post, I thought I would do a 25 minimalist gift ideas list. Over the course of the year, I’ve leaned more and more towards living a minimalistic and simplistic lifestyle: 2020 has definitely taught me the value of living a quieter life, and one does not need to have many things in order to live a productive and fulfilling life.

This Christmas, I’m asking for things that are not just more meaningful, but also higher quality and conducive to living a minimalist life, and I thought I would put together a list of some simple gifts that promote hygge and a quiet life. If you have any people in your life that you want to give a gift to, I think these would be really nice gifts: they’re practical and useful, while still being meaningful at the same time!

*Some Links are Affiliate

Health + Wellness

  1. Nice smelling soap or lotion
  2. Essential oils & diffuser (these are the essential oils that I use–this company is not a MLM, but that link is my referral code and gets you $10 off a purchase of $50! I also use Young Living oils and as far as I know, they are the same quality)
  3. Simplistic minimal jewelry
  4. A menstrual cup! Obviously this one depends on your relationship with the person, but I love mine and did a blogpost about it a while back! (You can find it here.) This is the one that I use: Duchess Menstrual Cup
  5. Masks (#2020) or face masks as more of a beauty supply
  6. An aesthetic candle (such as this wood wick crackling candle)

Kitchen

  1. Reusable straws (like these)
  2. A milk frother (A similiar one to mine that has good reviews)
  3. A French press
  4. Your favorite coffee beans (especially ones from a small company like this one)
  5. Loose leaf tea (like from this small company)
  6. A cast iron skillet (like this one)
  7. A spice collection
  8. High quality wooden kitchen utensils (like these)

DSC_0138

Self Improvement

  1. The Little Book of Hygge
  2. Prompted journals: I personally haven’t used them, but these are good ones that I’ve heard of-
  3. A high quality notebook like a Leuchtturm1917 or a Moleskine
  4. A non-fiction book/devotional! Some good ones that I’ve had recommended to me (but that I haven’t read) are:

Home

  1. A good quality set of coasters (like these marble ones)
  2. A good utility knife
  3. Wool dryer balls
  4. A subscription box services to something that you know they will actually use. Some of the ones I’ve seen are

DSC_0061

  1. Items from a small business that are functional and that they would use, like mugs or art pieces. Some of my favorites are:
    • Jenessa Wait (mostly art prints but also journals, mugs, and pillowcases)
    • Rachel Allene (mostly mugs, but also some other hand lettered things like t-shirts and stickers)
  2. Board games
  3. Plants: succulents or otherwise low maintenance ones are the best ones to give as gifts

I would highly recommend asking people for their wish list, and give them thing that are useful and meaningful to them. Use this list as inspiration, but don’t buy someone something unless you know they will need it. If you don’t know what they want, then I would highly suggest a gift card with a thoughtfully written note: the meaning is still there, but you aren’t cluttering up their life with things that they do not need and that do not add to their life.


So here is a sampling of ideas that I am looking to give to people in my life this year! What is on your wishlist? What is something you’re gifting to someone else? Are you a minimalist? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Book Review: Diamond in the Rough by Jen Turano (American Heiresses #2)

Other books in this series:

About the Book-

To save her family from financial ruin, Miss Poppy Garrison accepts an unusual proposition to participate in the New York social season in exchange for her grandmother settling a family loan that has unexpectedly come due. Ill-equipped to handle the intricacies of mingling within the New York Four Hundred, Poppy becomes embroiled in one hilarious fiasco after another, doomed to suffer a grand societal failure instead of being deemed the diamond of the first water her grandmother longs for her to become.

Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, has been forced to travel to America to help his cousin, Charles Wynn, Earl of Lonsdale, find an American heiress to wed in order to shore up his family estate that is in desperate need of funds. Reginald himself has no interest in finding an heiress to marry, but when Poppy’s grandmother asks him to give etiquette lessons to Poppy, he swiftly discovers he may be in for much more than he bargained for.

My Review-

Whenever I pick up a book by Jen Turano, I know it’s going to be a good time, and this one did not disappoint! This is the second book in her American Heiresses series, and I am loving it! This one took a little longer to get into, but it picked up and I read it all in two days.

Unlike book 1 in the series, Flights of Fancy, this one is set in the New York Fashion scene: Poppy is originally from the countryside, but is being coerced by her grandmother to spend a Season in New York society. Although she means well, hilarity ensues.

The characters in this book seemed flatter than the other ones from previous Turano books I’ve read: I didn’t really feel like I got to know any of the characters and their motivations? I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

As usual, this book was incredibly witty and humorous: there were several scenes that had me chuckling out loud, which doesn’t happen often except in Turano books. It was just so bantery and funny, and I loved it!

The names in this book were super fun: Poppy, Murray, and Reginald, to name a few! They were just a wacky band of characters and it was so much fun! I also liked seeing characters from other places making a reappearance: cameos like that are some of my favorite :).

Some of my favorite parts from this book:

  • the character growth of several characters!
  • an in depth reflection about God and life by George, Poppy’s grandfather
  • Poppy’s friendship with Murray! it was SO NICE seeing a female/male relationship without turning into love
  • the volunteer work that Poppy and her friends did
  • it tackled mental health issues from the time a little: I would have liked to see more, but overall I liked the portrayal

Some not-quite-so-favorites:

  • A racial slur (g*psy) is used, in reference to a dance at the beginning of the book
  • There were a couple of mentions of kisses and married people sitting on each other’s laps and (spoiler alert) pregnancy, but it was all kept pretty PG-13. It didn’t bother me, but it did have a little bit more romantic content than Turano’s other books, as far as I can remember
  • The storyline was pretty much predictable: nothing extraordinary happened, and it was pretty easy to see where the story was headed
  • This particular book felt like it needed a larger amount of suspension of disbelief to picture all the things that happened. Most historical fiction books, even Turano’s, seems like that /could/ have been plausible, but some scenarios in this one seemed a little . . . out there.

Overall, this was really really fun! Jen Turano’s books are always kind of a guilty pleasure for me: they are just so witty and brighten my day! I’m looking forwards to reading the next book when it comes out!

My Rating-

4/5

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion; I was not required to write a positive review.

 

Blogmas Day 6: Currrently || December 2017

Hi everyone! Welcome to the 6th day of Blogmas! Today, I’m joining Anne and Catherine talking about what I’m currently doing!
Blogmas Day 6

Lightingchristmastree

The Christmas tree! Our family actually put up the Christmas tree fairly early (for once) and we have our tree up! The only thing is, we somehow only have one string of lights so we’ll have to resolve that during the post Christmas sales 😂

todo.gifChoosing

18 before 18 goals…and stuff to put on my to-do list. Somehow, the end of the year (theoretically supposed to be a “break”) is SO BUSY!!! I’m also choosing to do things intentionally that don’t have deadlines because STRESS OMGNS.

 

Sendingkitten.gif

Christmas packages and cards! Our family has always managed to forget about sending out Christmas cards until very late in the year so I’m going to try to see if I can help with that and get those sent out…before the new year 😂

clockSpending

time with a purpose. There are so many things to do, and so little time to do it in, that everything I do needs to be purposeful…or else consequences happen 😅

Aside from studying for finals and college applications, I’m also doing blogmas and making a bunch of presents and AHHHH

Singingspotify-2017-wrapped

Uh Christmas carols? What else? I also got my Spotify yearly recap back and I’m actually rather surprised with what I got…all except for Evynne Hollens. I’m not surprised about that one at all 😂

(Also, in my defense, I’ve only had Spotify for about half the year, and had to work in a place where I didn’t have internet connection for 2 months XD, so it’s not *too* abnormally low?)


What are you doing this time of year? Is it your busiest month too? Are finals stressing you out? What are you currently lighting, choosing, spending, sending, and singing?

Book Review: All Is Bright: A Christmas Coloring Book || Blogmas Day 5

All Is Bright

About This Book-

Contemplate the promise and coming of Jesus as you create colorful designs.

Relax and retreat from the chaos of the Christmas season by reading these short devotions and meditating on Christ as you color. Your family’s Advent and Christmas will be transformed from a time of busyness to a time of rest with every page of All is Bright. Designed to reconnect you with the story of Christ’s coming, each day of rich devotion by popular author Nancy Guthrie–accompanied by intricate drawings–will lead you into a Christmas filled with worship and adoration.

My Review-

(because it’s totally not most of the way through Advent already and because everybody’s still desperately looking for an Advent devotional)

Well. What can I say? I really like this coloring book! The devotionals that go with the intricate coloring pages, the texture of the book, it’s just awesome!

Yes, it is slightly on the large side, and doesn’t easily fit in backpacks and stuff, but it’s really beautiful. There are devotionals for every day from December 1st to December 31t, and a corresponding coloring page each day. There are also several shorter devotionals and simpler coloring pages for families with young children, which I thought was really thoughtful.

I feel like the devotionals were quite generic and similar to most other Advent books, so it’s not particularly awesome in terms of the content. The devotionals are great for reading out loud, or for reading and meditating while one colors. The coloring pages are all fairly intricate and are fun to color. One con, as pointed out by mom, is that it could be hard to use over multiple years, because of the coloring pages. Unless someone has a lot of free time not me, it would be really hard to complete all the coloring every day. But then, nobody is required to color everything every day.

Overall, it’s a really functional Advent coloring book, complete with devotionals. (or should it be “a really functional Advent devotional book, complete with coloring pages?). Either way, I give it a

Rating-

8/10

Thank you to Tyndale for sending me a print copy of this Advent coloring book in exchange for my honest review; I was not required to write a positive review.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies || 2016 Holiday Recipe || Blogmas Day 4

Welcome to Blogmas Day 4! Today, I’m sharing with you all my recipe for Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, the Christmas cookies I baked this year. (If you want to see my Christmas cookies from last year, check here, and the Christmas recipe I made the year before, check here).

These were super easy, and also very good! I was really surprised at how easy they were to make, and they were just the perfect amount of sweetness as well.

recipe creds

Ingredients-ingredients.jpg

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter or vegetable oil (I used butter)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions-Dough.jpg

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cocoa, granulated sugar, and oil on medium speed.
  2. Reduce the speed to low and add 1 egg at a time until combined.
  3. Mix in the remaining ingredients in the order listed, with the exception of the powdered sugar. (I also added about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips)
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours. (I chilled it overnight maybe because I didn’t read the recipe right and started making the cookies at 8pm)chocolatecrinkle.jpg
  5. Preheat the oven to 350degrees F.
  6. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and coat with powdered sugar.
  8. Place on the prepared baking sheet at least 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes.
  10. Allow the cookies to rest on the hot cookie sheet for one minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies are rather small: about 2 1/2 inches wide or so. However, they are SO. GOOD. They taste really strongly of cocoa powder, and they’re quite firm. As I don’t think I’ve ever had chocolate crinkle cookies before, I couldn’t really tell you how they compare, but they’re just really good. BUT ALSO THEY’RE COOKIES SO I MAY BE BIASED.

I ended up 3/2ing the recipe (as in, I halved the recipe and then made the half and the whole, to make a whole and a half…yeah, I don’t quite get it myself either) (thus the six eggs in the shot with the mixer), and made 7 1/2 dozen, making 8 gift bags of between 7 to 9 cookies each.


Are you a cookie fan? (How could you not be???) What is your favorite Christmas cookie/Christmas food? What are your favorite type of chocolate chips? Mine are the mint kind, but I also love cinnamon chips and also the standard milk.

25 Things to Do Before Christmas || Blogmas Day 3

Hello readers, and welcome to day 3 of Blogmas! realizing how hard it’s going to be to come up with 25 of these blogmas introductions XD

Today, I’m bringing you 25 Things to Do Before Christmas!

  1.  Play Christmas music. ALL THE CHRISTMAS MUSIC.
  2. Do a Advent/Count Down to Christmas thing.
  3. Make Christmas cookies. Necessities. If you need a suggestion, these are SO GOOD.
  4. Watch a Christmas movie.
  5. Read a Christmas book.todolist
  6. Make a list of people you’re giving gifts to this year.
  7. Flounder under said list of people
  8. Make hot cocoa and add an unreasonable amount of toppings. Whipped cream, caramel sauce, candy canes, peppermint extract, YOU NAME IT!
  9. Sit in front of a fire and revel in the warmness
  10. Do BLOGMAS
  11. Follow lots of new blogs (shout out to all the 30some new blogs I followed this week!)
  12. Actually be active in blogging….as in…ACTUALLY COMMENTING on people’s blogposts! surprise! Who knew?!
  13. Take the SAT and not die (#me)
  14. Sing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” wayyyyy too many times, even though it’s impossible to have a White Christmas where you live.
  15. Do something fun with friends like going ice skating.
  16. Make something cool. Art stuffs.
  17. Donate your time, money, energy, presents, etc, to someone in need (and trust me, there’s plenty of people in need, especially around Christmastime)
  18. Make a gingerbread house
  19. todolistLook at your gift list (see #4), and actually realize that you should probably get to those at some point….before Christmas.
  20. Spend lots of time with family and friends and NOT WITH SCHOOL.
  21. COME UP WITH A NEW AND INTERESTING DECEMBER BUCKET LIST AND PUT IT ON PINTEREST BECAUSE ALL THE ONES ON PINTEREST ARE IDENTICAL AND I CANT GLEAN ANY INSPIRATION… *hemhem*…but anyways…
  22. Drive around and look at people’s Christmas lights and don’t be stalkery and go “oh, look, they put that light strand up last year on a different part of their tree” #me.
  23. Redecorate your room and do ALL THE CHRISTMAS THINGS.
  24. Go to a Christmas Eve Service and light candles and sing and ALL THE AWESOMENESS.todolist
  25. Look at your gift list (see #4 and #19), and notice that you actually should probably have done something about the people on your list.

*clears throat*

*looks around awkwardly*

WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU NEVER GOT A CHRISTMAS PRESENT FROM ME LAST YEAR?!?!

ahem. Moving on….

I hope this completely serious list of 25 things YOU NEED TO DO BEFORE CHRISTMAS (because clickbait like that) was helpful to y’all. #sarcasm

MERRY 12 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!


What do you do to get ready for Christmas? Also!! If you have a blog that I’m not following yet, definitely let me know and I’ll check it out (bc I’m a Very Professional Blogger now).

The Holiday Favorites Tag || Blogmas Day 2

G’day, blog readers! So I was floundering as to an idea for Blogmas Day 2, Abi, from Happily Abi, posted a Holiday Favorites tag, and sweetly dropped it in my lap. So BECAUSE I’M A GENIUS LIKE THAT obviously, I stole the tag.

So for Blogmas Day 2, I present to you…The Holiday Favorites Tag!

Here are the rules.

r-1

Let’s get started!

What Is Your Favorite…

activity to do during the holidays?

Hmm…I’m usually knitting furiously because I’ve procrastinated all year on presents…

I’m also probably reading like crazy, and doing end of year “let’s finish this soon so I can actually say I accomplished this New Year’s Resolution” thingies.

It’s *usually* relaxing, and I enjoy it. 🙂

seasonal drink?

HOT CHOCOLATE. ALL OF IT. Bonus points if it’s mint or has whipped cream. Double bonus points if there’s both. Triple bonus points if there’s cookies.

Christmas movie?

The Miracle on 34th Street! It’s just so pure and good and I LOVE it so much.

memory?

Hmm…I’d have to say spending Christmas with my cousins down in LA. That was a fun Christmas. ❤

candle scent?

ALL OF THEM. I’m not kidding. ALL OF THEM.

food or recipe?

Addictive Double Chocolate Mint Cookies! I made them for the first time last year, and I’VE LOVED THEM. I’ve made them once already this year, and they’re SO GOOD.

Cookie.jpg

place to spend the holidays?

HOME! I really don’t like going on vacation for Christmas, because after we get home, it’s time for school again, and I never feel like I actually got a break.

Christmas tune?

Um. ALL OF THEM.

But really? The Christmas Can-Can, Carol of the Bells, Sleigh Ride, and anything Pentatonix.

gift you’ve given or received?

Hmmm…I’ve made knitted stuff for Christmas presents, and I’m always pretty DARN proud of the stuff I knit. Also cookies. BECAUSE COOKIES.

decoration you own?

Not really? I have several that are sentimental, but my family’s never been really HUGE on family Christmas decorations, for some reason. As for Christmas decorations overall, I love the lights!

BONUS QUESTION: What is your ideal Christmas Eve?

Staying at home, preferably by a fire, with a book, and knitting, and hot chocolate, and Christmas music, then going to the Christmas Eve service at church in the evening.

As for tagging, I tag anyone who doesn’t have posts for Blogmas and needs something quick to steal so that they don’t get behind (aka me rn)


Here are the questions.

What Is Your Favorite…

  1. Activity to do during the Holidays?

  2. Seasonal Drink?

  3. Christmas Movie?

  4. Memory? (Include a photo if you have one!)

  5. Candle Scent?

  6. Food or Recipe? (Link it if you’d like!)

  7. Place to spend the Holidays?

  8. Christmas Tune?

  9. Gift You’ve Given or Received?

  10. Decoration you own? (Include a photo if you have one!)

  11. BONUS QUESTION: What is your ideal Christmas Eve?


What’s your favorite Christmas movie? What is your favorite Christmas food? Leave me a comment and let me know!

 

Top 25 Christmas Songs to Listen To || Blogmas Day 1

So…I may be crazy or something, but I’ve decided that I’m going to do BLOGMAS this year!

I’ve watched a couple (as in, one) years of vlogmas on YT (here), and this year, I’ll be watching several vlogmases (here, here, and here). Then I had a brilliant idea…why not do a blogmas of your own? (It IS a good idea: I’ve been talking about Christmas for a bajillion years aka since last Christmas, so…) Basically, I’ll be posting once a day every day leading up to Christmas for 12 days, and it’ll be a good time (hopefully).

But anyways…here’s Day 1 of my Blogmas for 2016! Today, we’re going to be discussing 25 Christmas Songs that I like and that you should be listening to this season! Since I’ve been listening to Christmas music since, what, September 1st, I’m OBVIOUSLY a Christmas music expert. OBVIOUSLY.

Youtube links are included, then at the bottom is a spotify playlist, so that you can listen to them altogether. Enjoy!

  1. Amazing Grace (Peter Hollins)
  2. Carol of the Bells (Pentatonix)
  3. Carol of the Bells (The Piano Guys)
  4. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire (Francesca Batistelli)
  5. Christmas Is (Francesca Battistelli)
  6. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (Pentatonix)
  7. December Song (Peter Hollins)
  8. God Rest Ye Merry Gentelmen (Pentatonix)
  9. Go Tell It On The Mountain (Francesca Batistelli)
  10. Grown Up Christmas List (Peter Hollins)
  11. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (Cimorelli)
  12. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Lauren Daigle)
  13. It’s Begining to Look a Lot Like Christmas (Bing Crosby) (who am I kidding I was singing this in July)
  14. Joy To The World (Francesca Batistelli)
  15. Little Drummer Boy (Pentatonix)
  16. Mary Did You Know (Pentatonix)
  17. Noel (Chris Tomlin ft. Lauren Daigle)
  18. O Holy Night (Lauren Daigle)
  19. Sleigh Ride (Pentatonix)
  20. The Nutcracker (Straight No Chaser)
  21. The Christmas Can-Can (Straight No Chaser)
  22. The First Noel (Pentatonix)
  23. What Child Is This (Lauren Daigle)
  24. White Christmas (Lauren Daigle)
  25. Winter Wonderland (Niki and Gabi)

Here’s a YouTube playlist with all the songs on this list.

Here’s the Spotify playlist with all the songs except #25:


That’s all for today! What are some songs that you like to listen to during the Christmas season? Are you excited for blogmas? Are you doing/watching blogmas?? Leave me a comment and let me know!