9 Gift Ideas To Keep You From Being A Generic Gift-Giving A-Hole

This cold snap has finally gotten me convinced that it’s holiday time and I’m currently sitting in my big chair with my readers on, a spiral notebook in my lap, dabbing my fountain pen - the one with the long feather - on my tongue, readying it for a flurry of gifts I plan to jot into a list.

Actually, **shuffling through the pages** I’m on my third page and it looks like I’ve only listed things I want, but I’m getting to everyone else here in a sec.

You know how when you’re out in public and you run into someone you know and they’re wearing the same shirt you just saw some other lady wearing, and then when you’re in the checkout line, you notice the checkout lady is wearing that same shirt?

Borrrrinnnnggg.

I’m not giving out that kind of generic b.s. this year.

I love giving people gifts that are unique so they don’t feel like you’ve just filled their name in on a form letter that could have been sent to anyone.

I’ve put together a gift guide of creative and custom gifts so you can make sure your gift-giving is met with all the heart-eye-emojis this year, and they all start less than $50, so you’ll have room in the budget to grab things for the sexiest person on your list: yourself.

Why The Texas Conference For Women Is My Most Favorite Event Of The Year

This was my fifth time covering the Texas Conference for Women on Bring Mommy A Martini, thanks to the suggestion of my good friend and savvy press hotshot, Travis Baker, the Austin Metro Publisher at Community Impact.

“See if you can get press credentials,” he said matter-of-factly to me while we had coffee one morning when I was whining about how I wanted to go to the Conference, to which I responded, with a crumb of muffin in the corner of my mouth, “Wait, you can do that?”

I was just a tiny baby blogger at that time, so I didn’t know all the ins and outs of this blogging world just yet.

I’m a grownup blogger, now, kicked back at my desk all Ron Burgundy, writing about very important things and looking like a boss while I do it.

3 Of My Biggest Regrets In Life

I remember it like it was yesterday. The initial shock at what I saw, and the horrific realization as all the pieces started to click into place, sending me through the various stages of panic: first the pins-and-needles tingling in my fingers and toes as adrenaline shot through my veins.

Then the questions I’d ask myself about what I was seeing before me.

And what it meant.

Then the inevitable, “no, no, no… God no.”

But, alas… yes.

I gagged a little and wiped my mouth, swallowing down the disgust welling up inside me.

5 Tips For Starting Out (Or Starting Over) In An Online Career

This weekend I got to participate in a panel of social influencers for the 2018 MediaCon, a day of workshops and speakers geared toward college students pursuing a career in the media industry.

Who’da thought that my tiny baby following would position me as any kind of influencer?

The great thing about my following - you - is that you’re a highly engaged bunch, emailing me often to ask about products I’ve mentioned, or to share your comments on something I’ve shared.

That’s what an influencer is.

Still, I was like an orange surrounded by a handful of shiny, red apples up there on that panel.

A Quick Peek At The Rustic Side Of Our Multi-Purpose Room

You know how I’ve been working like little Cinderella on my IKEA faux built-ins upstairs, which is sort-of a catch-all room that I’m trying to make look like it’s not a catch-all room.

It’s the only room we have upstairs (along with its bathroom) and it’s a perfect place to send the kids to play their video games, and it’s where my desk is so that I can get uninterrupted work done. **Note: I have not shared that part of the room with you, yet, because it currently has piles of books I don’t want to part with, but need to, and other things that “I need to go through”  🙄

In the coming weeks, after I get my life together*, I will share the entire room with you, but for now it’s still under construction.

1940's Dining Table Gets New Life As My Game Table

You know how you can admire someone so much because they are just perfect in every single way, and you love them so much that you’re actually disgusted by them at the exact same time as being in love with them?

Like you follow them on Instagram and they post something amazing (as usual) and you get irritated and say, “Dammit” sort-of under your breath, annoyed at their perfection and also annoyed that now you have to spend your time copying their incredible fall centerpiece or autumnal mantle setup because all you want in life is to become that person?

My 2nd Biggest Fear In Life (also: Cooking With Cody, October Edition)

My second biggest fear in life is getting hit by a bus, leaving my children without having taught them all the lessons they’ll need to function in life, because I can tell you that if they had to do it on their own starting today, they don’t stand a chance in hell.

I should mention that one of those children I’m referring to isn’t even a child, anymore. He’s almost 20. A grown-ass man.

He’s a good guy and all. Kind and sensitive. Super smart. Funnier than shit.

But lazy af.

We’re buckling down a little more on this second kid, just to see what happens.

In Defense Of The Good Girl

Since when did it become a bad thing to be a good girl? Long gone are the days of Donna Reed and Leave it to Beaver, but is it too much to hope that there is still value in being wholesome?

“Mommy, I think you’re more innocent than I am,” my 13 year old daughter said one evening, as we were just starting out to walk the dog.

This is not the first time I’ve heard this kind of talk. Even my spouse says that I should like to have more fun.

Is it my fault that our versions of “fun” are wildly different? Or is there something I’m missing?

An Outrageous Claim

Signing up for classes is a bad habit I need to probably cut off like a moldy chunk of cheddar cheese, but I’m obsessed with learning stuff and I justify the expense by filing it under “Self Improvement,” even though it would be cheaper to just "improve myself” by eating less and moving more. 🤷‍

If you get my emails, you saw that in yesterday’s I told you to get ready for the best blogging resource offer of the year, and now I’m unveiling that bold, beautiful claim right before your eyes.

I know it’s a bold claim, but I don’t give out recommendations just willy nilly.

I only recommend things when I’ve tried and loved them myself, and that is exactly the case on (affiliate link —>) The Genius Blogger’s Toolkit, and I should know, because I bought it, I went through a handful of the courses, and just like a proper personal development junkie, I fell in love.

But here’s the thing:

I also recommend this bundle for people who aren’t necessarily bloggers.

Here’s why:

"What Do You Do?"

We all get asked this question and we all ask it - here in the States, at least. They don’t really ask the “what do you do” question in other countries.

We Americans ask it almost immediately upon meeting someone.  

We use it as our way of getting to know more about that person, but we - subconsciously, maybe - also use it to make a decision. We decide what we think of the other person based on what they do for a living, placing them on an invisible but very present ladder of sorts.

“I’m a used car salesman.”  Ok, we’ll put him down here, about midway down.

“I own a flooring company.” Got it - ok, we’re sticking you higher up there where business owners go.

“I’m a stay-at-home mom.” So - nothing. Doesn’t even make it on the ladder.

Sucks that stay-at-home-moms don’t get on the ladder, much less get their rightful spot at the very top of it.

But that’s not what I want to talk to you about.

How This Lemonades-From-Lemons Situation Became My Most Favorite DIY EVER

Ok, I’ve just completed the most beautiful lemonades-from-lemons situation and I am currently more in love with myself than Kanye loves Kanye.

Let me tell you how this all came about.  

About a month ago I sent off our kitchen table and chairs to a lady in town who’s refinishing them, and we’ve had to move our dining room table into the kitchen in the meantime.

Last week I was tired of picking at the last bits of gel on my nails, so I did what I would end up murdering my own children for doing, if they were ever so dumb as to do what I did: I soaked my nails in a small bowl of acetone right on my dining room table top.

Like a damn fool.

You May Find This Post Offensive

I’ve been so productive the last week and a half, I’m intimidating my own self. Seriously! I told you last week that I was overhauling my pantry and getting it organized, and then I did something I almost never do: I did it!

If you get my emails, you got the before and after pictures in your inbox yesterday. I also included a quickee 1-question survey about blogging (by the way, if you’re interested in learning how to start your own blog, click here because over the next week, I’m sharing all the best blogging tools and resources in the whole blogosphere with my subscribers!)

But here’s what I want to talk to you about today: this getting-offended-super-delicate-and-thin-skinned-over-the-top-political-correctness bullshit.

On Lies I've Been Told & Getting Myself Together

You know we just moved into a new house, right? Well, so something’s--  wait, I can sense that you’re giving me an “I won’t respond to that” face right now.

Ok, so it’s been 15 months since we moved, but I have a hard time with change, you know, and I’ve been mentally dealing with this effing teenager who has turned out to be someone I don’t even know, plus our youngest, who is the ebola monkey, and is constantly sick, and I can’t possibly be expected to keep up with getting this house set up and being a mom to two effed up children* and keep up with my chores so that Mark doesn’t have to dip into his reserve underwear, plus write to you once a week, as well as write a book, and stay groomed, for the love of God, and I am doing my best over here.

I just want to sip lattes and browse fall outfits for my Bitmoji - it’s not like I’m asking for a kidney.

Why Are My Kids So Effed Up?

Did you know I used to be a teacher?  I taught 8th graders and I loved being in the classroom so much!  I got out of teaching when I was on maternity leave with my youngest son.  I was in denial most of my pregnancy with him about having to leave him at daycare after maternity leave was over, so I put off the daycare search until the last minute.

You can’t do that.  

By the time I got my head together, all the daycares in our area had a waitlist, so I was pretty much screwed.  

I spent the last few weeks of my pregnancy freaking right the eff out because the only “daycare” with availability was one of those places you see on the evening news, with crooked shutters and names that start with a K in klever - ahem, clever - ways. Ack!!

Your "Perfectionism" Makes My Eyes Roll

Let’s talk about perfectionism.

I go insane when people say they’re perfectionists, because in most cases, they aren't using the term correctly*, which makes my left eye twitch spasmodically.

There's nothing worse in life than for some skinny, young PTA mom, freshly scrubbed and dressed up like a show pig, to harp, “Ugh, I feel like I’m just too good at yoga.” 

Or, “Sheesh, I’m such a perfectionist when it comes to housekeeping. It drives me bananas when my sofa cushions aren’t just so.”

Or, “I try to do just 50 burpees, but I can’t help myself from doing 75. I’m a perfectionist!” 🙄

No, no, no. That is not what perfectionism means.

The Dangers Of Removing Carbs & Granny Panties

You saw my last post about trying to new trends, right? Well let me tell you my thoughts on the latest diet trend: keto.

A hundred years ago I worked with this lady - she was a terrible person - but that’s not what I want to talk about.

She was fat.

And then, suddenly… she wasn’t.

Even though she was a terrible person, I was intrigued (this was back when I thought I needed to lose weight, but I didn’t really, but that’s not what I want to talk about.)

I asked her what her secret was and she said she was in ketosis. She was doing the Atkins diet.

I looked up everything Atkins and decided it wasn’t for me.

Too Old To Be Trendy?

One night a couple of weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook and a hair tutorial caught my eye because the girl doing it was just so cute, but also seemed somewhat relatable.

She wasn’t one of those stick-skinny 20-year-olds that look super cute no matter how busted up they are.

No, this girl was a little older and a little curvier and her hairstyle ended up super cute: it was just a basic bob blown out with a tiny bit of sea salt spray and she scrunched her hair up in her hands as she dried it, so it was tousled and airy and just adorable.

I did my hair the same way the next day - it was meet-the-teacher night at my son’s school and I felt cute. My makeup was on point and my hair looked tousled and airy and just adorable, if I do say freaking so.

7 Uses Of Technology That Made Traveling In England A Breeze

In case you're new here, my dad and I just got back from a 10-day trip to Manchester, England, to visit family and to do research for my upcoming book and it was as amazing as I'd imagined, except for a few annoyances, the first being my cousin's daughter was due to give birth while we were there and I was very explicit in saying that I expected to hold my new tiny cousin before I left to come back home, but alas, there is still no baby as of this writing.

The second annoyance was my inability to exhibit one ounce of control when it came to meals. I ate like a velociraptor and can now only fit in sundresses or waistbands with some "give."

Dad and I talked about how different travel is nowadays because of technology - more efficient and seamless.

I started to include the different apps we used in my last post, Texans In England By The Numbers, but once I started listing out the ones we used, I ended up with seven and decided it needed a post of its own. 

I didn't even include the social media apps, FaceTime, and email, but those were certainly big players in our daily travel, as well.

Here's the technology that made for a dramatically different travel experience than back in the day: 

Texans In England By The Numbers

4 - Butt-puckering close calls of death by stepping off the curb while looking the wrong way. Everyone knows they drive on the opposite side of the road in England, but our muscle memory makes us look the wrong direction, apparently. Combine that with complicated intersections in a busy city like Manchester, along with two clumsy-footed Americans, and you’ve got yourself a dangerous touristy cocktail.

0 - Air conditioned spaces. England is experiencing record-breaking heat at the moment, and - despite the weather being gloriously cool compared to the 100+ temps we’d left behind in Texas - when the buildings and homes are all closed up tight without any air movement inside, we Americans who are used to cold, recycled air blasting in our faces start to get panicky. And very sweaty.