Picking the perfect birthday present

Shopping for other people can be really difficult, but I totally love that moment when you find that perfect gift for someone, and I love the look on someone’s face when they open that perfect gift.

I’m going to divide gifts into several different categories and give a few examples/ideas on how to pick out a gift.

Practical Gifts

I tend to like to give practical gifts. I define practical gifts as something you would eventually buy for yourself as a necessity or to update a current necessity. These could be clothes, things someone needs for their home/apartment, etc. If you know someone really well, you probably know what they might need, whether it be new gym clothes or new bed sheets.

Clothing is oftentimes difficult to buy for other people because it’s really hard to know whether they’ll like the style or fit. Personally, I would only buy clothing for my mom and my boyfriend becuase I know what they like to wear pretty well. If you want to get someone clothes, but aren’t sure of their styles, remember to grab the gift receipt or grab them a gift card to their favorite store.

If you want to buy someone a practical gift, but maybe you don’t know them very well or don’t spend much time in their homes, seeing what they might be able to use, stick to the basics. People can always use a new bath towel set, a new set of drinking glasses, or patterned dish towels.

Gifts people would (probably) never buy for themselves

Gifts people wouldn’t buy for themselves can include a wide variety of objects. These are the kind of things we see in the store, really want, but walk past anyways because we have groceries to get.

When looking for one of these gifts, it’s a good idea to look at someone’s hobbies. If someone really likes making art, find out what kind of supplies they’re missing. If someone loves to read, find which books they’re wanting. Do they collect something?

Jewelry, decorative items, and board games are just a few things that could fall into this category. Gifts of “experience” could fit into this category as well. Prepaying or buying tickets for an event such as museum tours, wine tastings, or classes. Taking them out for such experiences is a great gift as well.

Personalized Gifts

Personalized gifts can combine the two types of gifts above or could add a personal touch to something for someone who seems to already have everything. The internet is full of online retailers who are ready to personalize all sorts of things for you and your loved ones.

Personally, I have used Moonglow and Shutterfly, and I trust both of these sites to deliver. Moonglow allows you to choose a specific date and put the moon from that date on a piece of jewelry. These are great for birthdays or anniversaries. Shutterfly will personalize just about anything for you from cutting boards to coasters. I’ve ordered prints, Christmas ornaments, and magnets from them.

There are many other sites out their that will customize the perfect gift. Some that I have seen advertised include LoveBook, The Night Sky, Things Remembered.

Cash/Checks/Gift Cards

For me, personally, there’s a big difference between receiving cash, checks, and gift cards simply because of the format. It’s also important to keep in mind during this section that this is just me, and other people probably use their gifted money differently.

Cash is often used for eating out (smaller bills for fast food, larger bills for dinner dates) and alcohol. Occasionally, a $100 bill might go towards groceries or clothes shopping, but that’s rare.

Large checks are deposited into savings, and I save it for a very long time. (The only time I pulled money out of savings was for college and to by my car.) Checks $30 and under are cashed and used as said above.

Gift cards for clothing stores are used gratefully as an excuse to buy clothes. Walmart and Target gift cards are often used on groceries, cleaning supplies, or other home necessities.

All three of these things are great, but if you’re gifting someone money for a specific reason, it’s a good idea to think about the format you’re choosing otherwise it might not be used in the way you initially planned.

Final Thoughts

Of course, we all like to receive gifts, and we all like to give a great gift, but the majority of people don’t really care what you get them. The fact that you stopped somewhere, with them in mind, and purchased an item for them, will normally mean a lot to them.

The amount of money spent doesn’t determine the greatness of the gift. And a handwritten card or a phone call is just as appreciated.

The animal in our chimney (part 3)

I can’t believe there’s a part 3 to this blog post series.

Check out part 1 and part 2 if you aren’t updated on our situation.

We’ve been in our apartment for three months.

We have had three birds in our chimney.

Bird one? Dead.

Bird two? Saved in time.

Bird three? Dead.

When we found out there was a third bird in our chimney, we did our best to get him out like we did with bird two. We blocked off the fireplace, ready to coax him in a tote, but when we opened the vent, we couldn’t get him to come down.

Unfortunately, we were both going out of town at different times (and it’s much easier to catch a live bird with two people), so we had to leave him from Wednesday until Sunday night, by which point the poor bird had died.

I have submitted another maintenance request asking for some sort of mesh/grate on the top of our chimney.

No more innocent birds should have to die.

And honestly, the scratching noises get really old.

I joined Ipsy

While I was in college, I started experimenting with more and more makeup, and it turns out that I really enjoy makeup. A couple of my friends joined a subscription service called Ipsy, and I was super jealous, so now that I have a steady income and a credit card, I wanted to give it a go.

For $10 a month, Ipsy sends you a makeup bag and five personalized products (often trial sizes). When you sign up, you take a beauty quiz, so that they can learn a little bit about what kind of products you like/are interested in. What I really like about this is that they send many different brands of makeup, allowing you to potentially try out high end items without paying the high end prices.

All of my everyday makeup is drugstore makeup, and my most expensive regular purchase is my foundation, which is still only $8. I’m hoping that through this subscription service, I can decide whether or not I should be spending more money on my everyday makeup, if I’m missing out on something great.

Here’s what I received in my July Glam Bag:

  • An Aqua Makeup Pouch
  • “Half Caked” Lip Fondant in Girl Crush
  • “Pureheals” Charcoal Mask
  • “Eyeko” Skinny Travel Size Liquid Eyeliner in Carbon Black
  • “Ellen Eden” Pressed Eyeshadow in Harmony
  • “Iby Beauty” Eyeshadow Fluff Brush

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I tested all these products out today when I received my July makeup bag (right on time by the way), and so here are my initial thoughts.

I really like the lipstick. It dries down really fast, and I was originally a little apprehensive about the orange-ish shade, but it’s completely matte, doesn’t transfer, and it’s very different from anything else I have.

I was most excited for the mask, and it disappointed me the most. I have a cheap peel-off mask from Walmart that works better than this one.

The eyeliner is a little hard to work with, but it looks great, and I think if I can get used to the applicator, I’ll really like it.

The eye shadow isn’t a color I would normally pick out for myself, but it makes a great blush. The eyeshadow was a little beat up when it arrived, but it’s still usable.

To me, all makeup brushes work the same to me as long no bristles fall out, so this brush works just fine.

After I received my bag, I was given the opportunity to rate the items in my bag in return for points. These points can be used in the future for bonus items in a glam bag.

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“A Quiet Place”

I rented a couple of Redbox movies for a quiet evening in, one of which was A Quiet Place. I had heard great things about it, and I had been wanting to see it ever since it was in theaters.

In case you haven’t heard about it, watch the trailer here.

Basically, it’s a horror movie that involves sightless monsters that attack using their hypersensitive hearing, so the protagonists are forced to stay extremely quiet. The protagonists, a family of five (including a deaf daughter), use sign language throughout most of the movie.

I was also very happy to find out that the actress who plays the deaf daughter, Millicent Simmonds, is, in fact, a deaf actress.

The director, and the father of the family in the film, John Krasinski purposely sought out a deaf actress for the part.

“… for many reasons, I didn’t want a non-deaf actress pretending to be deaf. Most importantly though, because a deaf actress would help my knowledge and my understanding of the situations tenfold. I wanted someone who lives it and who could teach me about it on set.” – John Krasinski

Because of the minimal amount of spoken dialogue, the sounds that do occur in the movie are much more intense, and since you have to watch the screen to not miss any dialogue that does happen, you are forced to stay very focused on the movie.

I’m someone that gets very distracted watching movies at home, but it was impossible to do so in this case. I really can’t compare this movie to anything else I’ve ever seen, and it is definitely worth the watch.

When I took a screenwriting class in college, I learned how dialogue is really NOT the most important part of your pieces (which I had previously thought). After this point, most of my writing contained little (and sometimes no) dialogue. It was really fascinating to see this kind of idea played out in an actual movie.

While this movie won’t make you jump out of your seat, it will keep your eyes glued to the TV. And maybe you’ll jump during a very quiet moment when your phone goes off (like I did… more than once).

 

The animal in our chimney (part 2)

I received a call Sunday morning from my boyfriend while I was visiting my parents back home.

“We’ve got another friend.”

He had woken up to more scratching in the chimney, so when I returned to the apartment, we endeavored to get him out. Last time the bird had been in there from Saturday until the following Wednesday, and I didn’t want this one to have the same fate.

We blocked off the fireplace and opened the vent. At first, he didn’t immediately come down, but he eventually did. We could hear him flapping around for a while, but then it got quiet. My boyfriend thought he had flown back up and peeked inside to find him. He started to lift the blockage away, but the bird then flew directly into his hand. I may have screamed.

We placed a tote in front of the fireplace, and eventually got the bird to hop inside. Carefully, we placed the lid on the tote and carried him outside. We were both very excited to have the bird out of the chimney, and we didn’t have to wait until it died to do it.

 

Happy 4th!

I hope everyone is having a fun and safe holiday.

Since I was lucky enough to have today off work, my boyfriend and I decided to find

something to do last night. We decided to attend Lincoln’s Uncle Sam Jam event at which they had a free concert, fireworks display, and many different food trucks. The event attracted around 20,000 people according to a Lincoln Journal Star article.

Although the weather was quite warm, the fireworks display was very incredible, and I’ve never seen such an amazing finale.

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My boyfriend and I had a really great time, and I’d definitely attend the event again (although I might recommend earplugs and bug spray). I attempted to take cute pictures of us while we were there, but William doesn’t always cooperate.

After the fireworks, William got a snow cone to get us through the crowd of people leaving, and we eventually got back to our apartment where we enjoyed some margaritas out on our deck.

This morning we got to sleep in before heading downtown for lunch. We also walked around, enjoyed the downtown area (which has very few people about because of the holiday) and stopped at Rocket Fizz, a soda pop and candy shop. I got a bag of salt water taffy (that I definitely don’t need), and we each got a soda. It’s a neat little shop downtown that is definitely worth visiting.

 

Perfect “Date Days”

Your perfect “date day” doesn’t have to break the bank.

My boyfriend returned from field school on Friday, so Saturday we spent the entire day together. In other words, it was a date day.

Going out on dates can be expensive, and as a college student and a recent college grad, we tend not to want to splurge on dates every weekend, so we’re always looking for cute inexpensive (or no cost) date ideas.

We started off Saturday by doing our grocery shopping in our pajamas. While this might not sound like a date, it’s a nice way to spend time with your partner while also accomplishing a very necessary task.

We returned home for leftover pizza and a lovely afternoon nap before heading out to Holmes Lake Park. This city park holds a very large lake where people go to fish, boat, walk, or just relax. We walked around the entire lake (not a small feat in flip flops), fed some ducks and geese, and played with other people’s dogs.

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After leaving the park, we had another errand to run and ended up in the downtown area. We grabbed a bite to eat at a gyro place that refuses to be found through a google search. It’s right next to Ali Baba Gyros, and they have a delicious gyro burger. The majority of their meals are in the $8 range, but you get an incredible amount of food for your money.snapchat-1227030200

As we walked back to the car, we stopped at Freezing Thai Rolled Ice Cream. While it’s definitely not the best ice cream I’ve had in Lincoln, it is pretty good, and their sizes are what I call a “shareable” size. My boyfriend and I just got one to split (about $6.50), and it was the perfect amount.

We finished out the night by meeting up with some friends for a drink before attending a very lowkey house party. I love going out, but if you’re looking to save money, you’re way better off picking up some alcohol at a store and hanging out at home or at a friend’s. Lincoln’s Super Savers always seem to have good deals on alcohol. (This happens to be where we picked up Fireball and some margarita mix for a later day around midnight Saturday night).

Dates don’t always have to include $50 meals, expensive movies with even more expensive popcorn (Redbox is really great by the way), or pricey shows/concerts.