Last Minute Unique Valentine’s Gifts

My last post was about being a minimalist Valentine’s gift giver which, to me, means being a thoughtful gift giver. I told you about how I’m not really cut out for Valentine’s Day because I don’t really like all the typical gifts that are usually associated with the day. I encouraged you to think about the person and spend your hard-earned money on something they’d really like instead of just giving the typical gift just to meet the expectation of the day.

So, here are some gifts I found on Amazon that are unique and just might be the exact thing you’re looking for for your Valentine! If you order it tonight or tomorrow and get 2-day shipping, it will arrive just in time!


  1. For the person who loves Star Wars and loves to cook!

star wars cooker


2. Seed Bombs for the Guerilla Gardener!

seed balls


3. For the beach bum who’s still a kid at heart



4. Woodstock Candy. You can choose from several different years or choose 1969, the year of Woodstock!



5. This beautiful Moon Lamp!

moon lamp


6. Toilet Bowl Light for those who have a difficult time hitting the target!

toilet light


7. Window bird feeder

bird feeder


8. A hat with bluetooth speakers built in? Yes, please! Perfect for the walker!

bluetooth hat

9. Is your Valentine getting into meditation? They’ll love this Tibetan Singing Bowl!


10. Bath Bombs are the bomb this year!

bath bombs


Happy Valentine’s Day!


Minimalist Valentine’s Day 2019


Valentine’s Day is next week! I’m actually proud of myself for thinking about it before the day is upon me! Being ahead of the day helps me be more thoughtful which is what minimalism is all about, in my opinion.

So, what’s a minimalist to do about Valentine’s Day? What is a Minimalist Grandma to do on Valentine’s Day?

If you search for ideas on the internet you will find that some people equate being minimalist with being cheap. It’s not about being thrifty and saving money, though that can be a benefit of practicing minimalism. However, for me, minimalism means paying attention, being deliberate and not being wasteful. For example, I could go to the store and spend hundreds of dollars buying a bunch of stuff for my husband, kids, and grandkids for Valentine’s Day. Most of which would probably end up in the trash, at the bottom of the toy box or put away with all the other odd things that have no real place.

I could jump on the bandwagon and buy cards, candy, jewelry, and flowers or plan a special night out. All that is great, except when the person you’re doing it all for doesn’t really like or want those things. I speak from experience. I HATE going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day with all the crowds. Too many people! I’m not eating sugar, so candy is out. Flowers are nice, but they die quickly. Jewelry is pretty, but I’m not a jewelry kind of person. Cards, well, they are sweet, but what in the world do you do with them after you’ve read them? They end up in the trash. I’m not going to leave a lifetime of greeting cards for my kids to have to throw out. It’s crazy! Yes, I am frustrating. Just ask my husband.

Ok, that’s me. But what about all those people who do like flowers, candy, cards, jewelry, and dinners out? Get it for them! Being minimalist is being mindful and not wasteful. Giving someone joy is never a waste!

So you see, being a minimalist gift-giver means taking time to think about the person and choosing a gift that they would truly like as an expression of affection. Not just buying stuff to meet the holiday requirement. 

Do some thinking! Let me give you some ideas. Some of these I have done before and they worked out great!

For Adults

  • Give things people need but won’t easily buy for themselves. It might sound too practical to be considered a Valentine’s Day gift, but you might be surprised how excited they will be. How about a few really long charging cords for their phone?
  • Give a thematic gift based on their interests or hobbies. A bouquet of Sharpies for the artist or journaler. A bouquet of wooden cooking utensils for the cook. A bracelet of washi tape for the crafter. The ideas are endless.
  • For the plant lover, give a tomato plant instead of roses.
  • For the cook, give a bottle of good olive oil instead of wine. 
  • Give an experience.  This can get a little pricey, but if you have the money and you’re sure they’ll love it, do it! Buy a cooking class, a chance to drive a racecar or even drive a tank (I’ve seen ads for this!), or scuba lessons. 
  • Give a membership. This can also get pricey and that’s why I do it for Christmas. Buy a family membership to the zoo, the aquarium, a local museum or season tickets for music or theatre. This is the gift that keeps on giving! 

For Kids

  • Give them one-on-one time with you doing something fun. Kids really do love time spent with the people they love. It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you give them your undivided attention. Put down your phone, don’t include anyone else and spend your time talking and laughing.
  • Craft together or teach them a skill. Teach your kids/grandkids how to make “seed bombs” and then plan a time to go spread the love! Teach the kids/grandkids how to knit, make a cake, play a song on the piano. Kids are sponges and they love to learn if it’s fun and with someone they love.
  • Give an experience like I mentioned above. Take them behind the scenes at the aquarium or zoo. A visit to a museum or planetarium is always fun! Tickets to a sports game. Race go-carts, go bowling, play miniature golf, go horseback riding.
  • Give a membership. Not only are memberships to the zoo and aquarium fun, but
  • Give Apple, iTunes, Amazon gift cards, PS4 or Xbox gift cards. Kids can buy apps, games, movies and even toys they want.
  • Have a sleep-over, dance party, video game or movie party. Even though you may not “like” doing it, if you’ll break down and do the thing, listen to the music, watch the show that your kid loves, it will mean the world to them. 

Distance Grandparenting Gift Ideas

  • Order pizza and watch an online movie on Netflix or Amazon. It’s so great that from the internet you can give your grandkids dinner and a movie from wherever you are. It would be much more fun if you ordered pizza, too, and watched the same movie and FaceTimed! Distance grandparenting at its best!
  • Create a scavenger hunt. Plan it out, get all the materials together and send it to the parents. Then FaceTime with them as they search for the treasure!
  • Start a Love Letter or Post Card tradition. Write a love letter to your grandchild and then tell them to write you back. You can become pen pals. You can do the same with postcards. Agree that wherever you go, you’ll mail a postcard to each other.
  • Start a book club. Then you can buy them a book or an e-book (if you’re really dedicated to this minimalist idea) for every holiday! Then you’ll have something to talk about!
  • Start a YouTube channel and read books to your grandkids. They will LOVE to watch the videos and they’ll get a chance to “spend time with you.”
  • Bake their favorite cookies and mail them to them. Spread that grandma love! 

Minimalist gift giving is not about being cheap. It’s about being thoughtful and not being wasteful by buying things that people really don’t want.

Happy Valentine’s Day!







I Hate Wrapping Gifts!

I don’t know what happened to me through the years. I used to love wrapping gifts. It was creative and fun but now, YUK! I especially hate it when I put it off and I have a hundred gifts to wrap at the last minute in an hours-long wrapping marathon. UGGGH!

Remember that I told you that I had already finished shopping? I still can’t believe it! And since I did most of my shopping online (because we live so far from good stores now) I’m getting a package almost every day. In order to stay on top of the chore, I have promised myself that I would wrap the gifts as they come to the mailbox.

And as a preemptive measure, I’ve been watching gift wrapping hacks on YouTube for inspiration and encouragement and hopefully some tips to take the pain out of it. Here’s a LINK to a good tutorial by Hermione Chantal.

I have found making my own gift bags for those awkwardly shaped gifts especially helpful this year. I really hate buying gift wrap AND bags. So, this solves that problem. It’s really not that difficult to do and I think it looks pretty good.


Happy wrapping – if that’s possible, haha!





The Family Christmas Questionnaire

My son had a Secret Santa Questionnaire he had to fill out at work and he posted it on his Instagram so people could see his answers. He’s pretty funny, eclectic and a really interesting person, so it was fun to see his answers. And, I actually learned some things about him – I didn’t know he likes peanut M&M’s!

When I read his answers, I realized that his tastes and interests have really changed in the last 20 years! No kidding, huh?  When you don’t live with your kids anymore and unless you really talk deep and often to your family members there are a lot of things that you miss. Things like their favorite candy or what tv shows they watch. I mean, in the short time that we’re together, we don’t often get down to finding out these things about each other. If I don’t know these basic things about my own children, I know even less about my in-law children. My grandboys are little and they change so quickly that one questionnaire a year is probably not enough for them.

Then, I started thinking about myself and realized that I change, too. Sometimes my tastes and interests change from year to year or even more often. So, it’s not that I don’t pay attention or don’t love my family if I don’t know the answers to questions about their favorite things, it’s just that people change and we sometimes don’t have enough time together to find these things out!

So, I created this Christmas Questionaire that I’m going to give to my family! And I’m not going to be embarrassed about it at all!

The ChristmasQuestionnaire

If you’d like to use this, you can! It’s free! Here’s a link to the PDF you can download:

The ChristmasQuestionnaire

Happy Holidays!




10 Favorite Toys of Our 2-Year-Old Boys

Since Christmas is quickly approaching, I thought I’d give you some real gift-giving help. My two oldest grandsons are both 2 years old, so I asked my daughter and daughter-in-law to tell me the boy’s top 5 favorite toys. These are toys they really play with and really love.

So, here you go. I’ve included the links (blue text) to Amazon and just so you know I do get a little bit of dough if you use my link. Thank you!

G’s our active guy and here are his favorite toys: 

  1. Thomas the Train Mega Bloks

2. Foam Toy Swords

3. Tool belt

4. Soccer ball

5. Drumset

This is not my grandson and not the exact drumset he has. But it’s about the same size and it has a stool with it. The stool is an important component, haha!

Manny loves independent play and here are his favorite toys: 

  1. Animal figurines

2. Play-Doh

Please note that Play-Doh is suggested for ages 3 and up. Our boys are 2 and a half and can handle the Play-Doh fine with supervision.

3. Construction vehiclesPlease note that these vehicles are recommended for ages 3 and up.

4. Water Table

5. IPad Games  – Here’s a fun IPad cover

This cover is rubbery and keeps the IPad safe from being dropped. It also stands on its own and has those “arms” making it easy to handle with little hands. Make sure you monitor what your little one watches and limit screen time.

I hope that helps you with your gift giving this year!
















Christmas Celebration Resources

With Christmas just around the corner, I thought I would shamelessly promote two of my books.

The first one is a family Advent celebration. I’m so passionate that families know their family heritage, that I wrote this Advent celebration around that very idea. I thought while we’re remembering Jesus’ birth story, why don’t we take some time to get to know our own family’s story? Each week I give scripture reading suggestions, a devotional to read and then ideas on how to creatively share family stories. I’m excited about this celebration and I hope it can bring families closer than ever before! You can buy it here. 

raising disciples advent cover


The second is a Christmas musical template. What that means is that I provide the script and you provide the music. I wrote this about 15 years ago and had such a wonderful experience collaborating with musicians, dancers, and craftspeople that I wanted to share how to do it with others. I wrote this script about Joel, a boy who made the manger for baby Jesus who grows up to make the cross that Jesus died on. You can get this resource here. 


I truly hope that these resources will help you have a blessed and Merry Christmas!



Christmas 2017 Gift Ideas For 2 Year Olds

Before my kids came for Thanksgiving I fixed up the spare bedroom as a playroom. I hit Goodwill and bought a few toys, pulled out my kid’s old stuffed animals and made a little reading nook in the closet complete with twinkle lights, pillows, and hanging monkeys.


But you know where they enjoyed playing more? My pantry!


Their moms had been telling me how much they love to play with pots and pans and “help” them around the house with sweeping, folding (or rather unfolding) laundry and all the other little everyday chores around the house.

And of course, it brought back a flood of memories (remember my Time Traveling post?) of my own kids trying to “help” me! And getting mad at ME because I wanted to take the broom to sweep the floor, haha!


Both of them said they just had to get the boys their own broom because the boys were always trying to take it away from them. They wanted to get mini brooms and vacuum cleaners so they could actually get work done around the house!

So, I’m listening to my girls and here is a quick wish list that I thought I’d share with you in case you’re wondering what to buy for your 2-year-old grandchild this year.

Melissa and Doug Sweep & Mop Playset

melissa and doug sweep and mop

Melissa and Doug Vacuum Cleaner

vacuum for kids

Melissa and Doug Play Kitchen

play kitchen

Yes, there are cheaper ones that look more like toys, but both of my girls said they thought the boys would like a more realistic one.

Little Helper Fun Pod Step Stool

My daughter and I talked about this and while this looks a little like putting your child in a box or kennel, which it is like that I suppose, this particular design looked to be the best for her son. G is pretty active and other designs are open all around and so he could possibly fall or crawl out which could be dangerous depending on what they were doing. Especially if they were in the kitchen. So, this closed design seemed best. Also, the floor of the step stool is adjustable and could be lowered as he grows. We haven’t used this, it’s a bit expensive so I’m waiting for my after Christmas funds to increase and then we’ll give it go.

helper stool

Sorry for the fuzzy photo, but you get the idea.

I hope these ideas help you get the right gift for your grandchild.





The Boys Love These Cards!

My daughter has these First Words Touch and Feel Cards by DK and the boys LOVE them!

You can buy them from Amazon by clicking on the picture. 

The boys both just turned one year old and they just love looking through them and touching the tires on the tractor wheels, the fur on the dog, the plastic on the ball and the kernels on the corn.


I’ve looked at a lot of touch and feel books and cards and sometimes the “touch” part is a little weird and doesn’t really match what it is supposed to be. But these cards are really great!

The cards are thick and can hold up to the kids chewing on them and bending them. I mean, they are not indestructible but they are pretty sturdy.

Educational picture cards may not be the first thing you think of as a gift for a one year old, but let me suggest that you consider these cards. They are really cool!



Distance Family & The Joy of Pinterest Boards

I have to give credit to my daughter-in-law for this one. Shout out! Woot! Woot!

2017-05-29 10-11-42 -0400

Maintaining a close family over a long distance is a challenge and so I’m always looking for creative ways to stay connected.

There are so many things that we take for granted when we are able to live in close proximity with our family. We don’t realize that stopping by for a quick visit or a trip together to the store or grabbing lunch periodically can give us information into our family’s lives that we miss when we’re not able to do those things.

Not to mention that our kids and grandkids change everyday and that subtle information that is communicated when we see them often is not available to distance parents and grandparents. When you’re with family often you’ll notice little things like color choices or hear them casually talk about things they like. When you don’t see your family often and only talk on the phone or FaceTime you don’t usually get down to those little, subtle details. And you only see them through the small window of the phone.  A lot of information is missed.

Especially when it comes to gift giving or wanting to be involved with our kids when they’re making a home and raising kids.

For example, my daughter may say, “I want a new purse for my birthday.” Well, you’re not around to see what kind of purse she’s carrying. You’re not shopping together to see what kind of purses she’s looking at and commenting on.

You’re not with your son to see what styles of sweatshirts or sneakers he’s wearing currently. You don’t know what books their reading because you’re not stopping by the house to see what’s on the shelves or coffee table. You don’t know what colors they’re using to decorate the kitchen.

Also styles change so quickly and what we might think is cute for the baby, they might think is hideous! And we don’t want to be “that” grandmother do we? That Crunchy Old Lady, no!

Well, that’s where Pinterest Boards are our friends!

My daughter-in-law helps me by keeping a Pinterest Board for gift giving. She makes a board for herself, my son and my grandson for birthday and Christmas. She also has boards about her house, clothes and accessories she likes, the colors she’s using, little helpful things like that. So, if I want to go off the board for gifts, I can at least stay in the ballpark because of the things she’s pinned on her boards. Her boards really helped me when my son turned 30 and I needed to figure out how to celebrate the milestone from a distance. You can read what I did, here.

Then I don’t have to ask so obviously, “Do you happen to have a set of mixing bowls in pastel colors? And would you like some?”

Another great benefit is that most of the time the links to where to buy those items are included in the pin. So, shopping is easy! I can just click and buy and have it shipped to them.

Not only is it great for gift giving but also for planning events. Right now we are working on the grandboy’s first birthdays and Pinterest is helping us communicate ideas for the parties. Now I can help with the party by sharing ideas and figuring out ways I can contribute.

If my family has to be separated by distance then I’m really thankful for technology and the ways it helps us stay connected!

Thanks Pinterest! Thanks daughter-in-law!



The Best Baby Shower Gift In The World!


The best baby shower gift in the world is one I never got.

I can tell you that if I had gotten this gift my motherhood experience would have been amazingly better.

See, I was a complete idiot when it came to taking my kids to the doctor. I would be asked questions and I had no clue how to answer them. I’m not a number person and so dates and amounts and times just slip out of my brain. And when you’re pregnant or a mom those brain cells are on overload anyway so I was a complete dingbat. I think my kids got the same immunizations several times because I couldn’t keep up with the little record.

So, when my daughter and daughter-in-law got pregnant I knew exactly what to do for them.

And since I don’t see any reason to remake the wheel, here’s the link to Unoriginal Mom’s Best Baby Shower Gift Ever – The Mom’s File Folder!

I followed her instructions and bought cute file folders and a plastic accordian style file container. Instead of printing out the file tabs, I just gave them printable tabs and a list of suggested labels so they could personalize their files to their needs.

I think it’s important to get a cute decorative plastic file container so that the mom can easily find it among other files. She needs to be able to quickly grab it as she’s running out to the pediatrician. This I know from experience.

My girls have used their gift and they love it!

So, with a million baby shower gift suggestions out in the Pinterest world, I can tell you that this is actually the best baby shower gift in the world!

You’re welcome.