Ewokmama’s Gift Guide

I love Etsy. And I love Pinterest. And fun things. And shopping for people that aren’t me.

So I decided to make a gift guide. Even though Christmas is next week and it’s unlikely you’ll have time to get most of these things by then. Also, this may be just a list of things I (or people like me) would want. But isn’t that the case with most gift guides?

So here is Ewokmama’s list of things you should buy people! DOOOOOO IT.

1. Personalized Things

Who doesn’t love something personalized? I love personalized things of all kinds.

  • For instance, I am a huge fan of these Christmas stockings at Forshee Designs. They are large and sturdy and won’t stretch out (or down to the ground) when you fill them. The embroidery is beautiful. See how well they coordinate and hang just so?

stockings

  • Mom necklaces! There are so many to choose from. On the pricier side, I love this necklace from Red Envelope with birth stones for each child. You can have the bars engraved with the childrens’ names and birth dates. Configured the way I would want it (with two pendants), it costs $171. (That’s a lot of money to me.)

The more budget-friendly option is this Hand-Stamped Swivel Sterling Silver Bar necklace for $56+ at byHannahDesign. My BFF just gave me this for my birthday! Woot!

Speaking of art…

2. Art

RobinPlemmons

Custom Robin-art on my arm!

3. Tasty Treats mmmmm

AJ-2T

4. Weird Things

Sometimes you need a white elephant gift or you know someone who collects odd things. Think Geek and Fab are both great resources for finding the out of the ordinary.

  • But also – check out this Instant Comfort Pocket Box! It’s a little decorated matchbox that can be carried around waiting for that moment when inspiration or encouragement is needed. Adorable!
  • Sriracha Candy Canes – need I say more? (Okay, I do need to say more: I wouldn’t eat these, but they would be a great gag gift!)

 5. Booze

This one is a no-brainer, right?? Hopefully you know what your recipient likes to drink!

  • I prefer wine, and I buy most of my wine from Naked Wines {<—affiliate link with a deal!), which is like the Kickstarter of the wine industry.
  • You can always do something more interactive like a Homemade Gin Kit or a beer-of-the-month club, too.

So, there ya go. Thanks for letting me self-indulge! Have a great holiday!

P.S. This post is not sponsored. It does contain an affiliate link (clearly labeled). If you want to sponsor a post on my site (please do), contact me!

Diapering in a Drought

California is in a severe drought. Like many others in the Bay Area (and just about anyone who has grown up in California and lived through many other droughts), our household has long been practicing water-conservation. That means there is not much we can do to cut back further – our lawn is already deader than dead and we dread laundry and dishes so much that every load is completely full anyway.

Having a baby does throw a bit of a wrench in our water conservation efforts, though. There is more laundry to do and being at home during maternity leave means more dishes, as well. When we found out we were expecting, we had thought we would use cloth diapers – one of the few things I saved from Jack’s infancy. But then the drought got worse – it’s now considered to be one of the most severe droughts on record for California. There is talk of fining households that don’t cut their water usage. Even worse, there are worries over drinking water shortages.

Considering this, we started thinking cloth diapering may not be the way to go after all.

There is a lot of debate about the amount of water required to wash cloth diapers versus the resources needed to manufacture disposable diapers and then dispose of them, and which type of diaper has the bigger environmental impact. Most studies seem to come to a similar conclusion – there is no clear answer as to which is better for the environment because availability of resources (water vs. landfill space) differs by geographic area. Landfill space is always an issue, sure, but the scarcity of water can reach emergency levels much more quickly – which is now what we’re looking at in California.

With these things in mind, I started wondering about alternatives to both cloth and disposable diapering. Aside from elimination communication (which I have neither the time nor the stomach to try), other options are gDiapers (with flushable inserts) and cloth diapering services. Unfortunately, gDiapers present many of the same problems as disposables, with the added concern over the possible clogging up of the plumbing in addition to the extra flushing required. Further, in our county they cannot be composted by our waste management company. Diaper services, on the other hand, use only prefold diapers (the kind that require folding and pinning/snappi-ing and a cover) – which I loathe due to the bulk and the lack of moisture-wicking. When I used prefolds with Jack, we easily went through twice as many diapers each day as we would have with other types of cloth and/or disposables. Using twice as much cuts into the benefits of using a service that washes them in bulk, no?

This diapering thing seems so much more complicated that it used to be.

I finally stumbled upon diaper composting services. Some of the same diaper services that offer drop-off/pick-up and washing of prefold cloth diapers also offer a disposable option – you can buy eco-friendly disposable diapers from the company, which will drop them off weekly and pick up the dirty ones to compost at their facility. The service eliminates the extra water usage issue AND saves us from sending more garbage to the landfill (and paying for a bigger garbage can)! Two such services here in the Bay Area are Earth Baby and Tiny Tots.

Right now we’re trying out Earth Baby (they offer a 1-month free trial). So far it’s working out fairly well, although I have to mention that Desmond is a super soaker and has leaked out of the diapers at night lately (in reading reviews, it’s an issue with some babies using the Naty brand of diapers, which are the only brand Earth Baby offers), so we’ve taken to using Huggies for nighttime diapering. The Huggies have to go into our garbage can, of course, but it’s only around 10 diapers a week so…we’ll take it; I can’t be washing sheets every day!

The diaper composting service is not a big money-saver, unfortunately. The diapers and wipes can only be purchased through the service and are more expensive (the service has to make a profit somehow). We are avoiding the cost of additional water usage and a larger garbage can, though. And, well, I am not sad that I’m avoiding the laundry involved with cloth diapers, either…cloth is soft and cute and great for sensitive baby skin, but extra laundry still sucks!

I’m no expert but so far, this seems like one of the most environmentally-friendly diaper options for Californians right now.

What do you think? Does the environmental impact influence your household’s diapering decisions? Do you have drought conditions to take into account in your area?

What A Birthday Boy Wants

Note: This is not a sponsored post; however, it does contain affiliate links just for funsies.

Summer birthdays are tough – as I’m sure many of you know. So many of Jack’s friends are out of town on vacation or at summer camp, so we decided to schedule his party for a week after his actual birthday. He was not happy about having so little planned for THE DAY but we tried my best to make it a good day. He got cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, had a playdate with one friend who was in town and another with his cousin Isha, and we made a trip to Toys R Us (where he picked out a large rubber tarantula and some test tube aliens). It seemed to be a pretty good day to me, but he felt it was lacking – I’m hoping it was just due to pulse of steroids he still had in his system from the prior week.

This Saturday afternoon his birthday party will take place and we have a lot of people coming (way more than I expected)! This year Jack expressed his desire to celebrate his birthday at Rockin’ Jump, a place filled with trampolines and a foam pit. Ordinarily I wouldn’t spend this kind of money on a birthday party, but since my due date is quickly approaching, I decided it would be best to have the party outside of our house. Less cleaning, you know! So Jack gets his wish and will be joined by 14 other kids all jumping to their heart’s content for two hours. And then we will send them all home filled with cake…

One of the ‘perks’ of living with cancer (doesn’t that sound wrong?!) is that Jack qualifies for a free specialty cake through a program called Icing Smiles. Icing Smiles is a collective of bakers who volunteer to provide free specialty birthday cakes for kids facing critical illnesses. Last year he got a dream cake that was shaped like an Ent from Lord of the Rings. It was AMAZING:

entcake

This year he won’t get the over-the-top “dream cake” but he will still get something special. A baker located in Fremont (Anything Cakes) is constructing a custom cake that will be shark- or Dr. Who-themed. Jack will be totally happy with either so we are leaving it up to the baker’s discretion. I can’t wait to see what is created! A cake seems like a simple thing to a lot of people but birthdays have a lot more meaning for us these days and it’s awesome that the day can be made extra-special with things like this.

So…what else does an 8-year-old boy like Jack want for his birthday? His interests are definitely unique – he doesn’t like the usual stuff like Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Transformers, or Minecraft (in fact, he loathes them). Instead he wants things like this:

A “carnivorous rock” plush that he designed and GypsyGarden Etsy shop brought to fruition:rockdrawing

rock plush

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A creepy cymbal-playing monkey:

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Sticky slugs:

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Toys that “eat” things/people, like Clayface:

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And, just to throw us off, the random cute/normalish thing – a plush koala:

 

He’s also happy to get books and Legos, of course. He can never have too many of those!

I’m hoping Jack’s birthday party this weekend goes well and he has nothing but fun! The steroids will be mostly out of his system so he should be in a better mood overall.

And by this time next year…he should be DONE with chemotherapy altogether and be able to have a cancer-free birthday. WOOT! I know that’s what he REALLY wants!

This Is How I Nest

I think it’s safe to say that I’m officially nesting. It looks a little different than I thought it would, though.

Rather than focusing on cleaning and organizing (although I’ve done a little off that, too), I’ve been working on getting projects completed. It started with creating a baby book using Project Life products (PL Baby Book example found here). That didn’t take long (since the baby isn’t here yet), so I moved onto hanging pictures on the walls.

We’ve lived in this house two years now as of last week and most of the walls were devoid of pictures even though I had a ton of stuff already framed. So I took care of that (pic 1 and pic 2).

Most recently I’ve been working on migrating photos from the albums that our dog destroyed when we first adopted him into new albums. I’m using Project Life for this, too – I had two photo albums full of pictures from my trip to England and France 10 years ago (10 years ago this month, even!), 8 pages worth of journaling, and a pack of souvenirs that I’d saved. I still have to transfer the more of the journaling into the book but I have all of the pictures and memorabilia set up in the album now. (David does not understand this at all – he thinks I’m spending way too much time putting together an album that I might take off the shelf and look at once a year or so. To him I say PFFFT.) I feel accomplished.

PL-europe

On the more traditional nesting front, this weekend we visited a furniture store that just opened up nearby and took care of getting one of the TOP things on my list of “I NEED this for the baby!” – a rocker recliner. Initially when I mentioned that I wanted one, David was totally opposed (due to the cost and the space it requires) but I ignored him because I’ve been through this before and I NEED a comfortable chair for rocking and nursing a newborn baby for hours on end! So he good-naturedly accompanied me to the furniture store and watched the World Cup while I negotiated with the salesman and made the purchase. Et voila:

chair

Now I’m focused on trying to find a place within a few hours of us to have a nice little getaway before the baby is born. So far this task has proved to be very challenging, as August in northern California means an influx of tourists and tons of local events (making everything much more expensive!). We don’t want to spend a ton of money but we really want to do SOMETHING before the baby is born (especially since our anniversary is 6 days after my due date). Hopefully we’ll stumble upon a deal or a quaint, little-known town to visit.

Or maybe a generous benefactor will come out of the woodwork and offer us something. WILL BLOG FOR VACATION! (Don’t worry, I’m not holding my breath on that one!)

Google Shopping Express Pretty Much Rocks

Note: This is a sponsored blog post. In exchange for blogging about my experience with Google Shopping Express, I received a free trial membership and a credit to use the service. All opinions expressed are my own.

With the gazillion appointments we have to manage Jack’s health and this year’s addition of prenatal check ups for me (in addition to the regular life stuff like work), my time and energy have become even more limited as of late. Thankfully I live in an urban area where convenience is highly valued. And since Google is practically right in my backyard, Google Shopping Express recently launched in my area.

From Google:

Available throughout the Bay Area, from San Francisco to San Jose, Google Shopping Express is a same-day delivery service that allows you to conveniently shop from stores like Target, Raley’s, Nob Hill Foods, and Toy “R” Us in one online location. Whether you need a last minute pack of diapers to get through the weekend or a few forgotten ingredients to prepare dinner, Google Shopping Express can help fulfill any new parent’s shopping needs.

They have been focusing on parents but let me tell ya, this service is fantastic for any city dweller!

Last week both David and I were battling a horrible cold and Jack’s health started to decline, as well. We needed a few things that couldn’t be bought within a 10 minute drive of our home (even if we had the time and energy to make it to the store), so I looked to Google Shopping Express to help. I was able to place an order for a few things from a couple different stores and choose to have it delivered to my office in San Francisco. From Target, I picked alcohol prep pads, ZonePerfect Kidz Nutrition Bars, and a new screen protector for my iPhone. At the same time, I ordered a Snoogle Body Pillow from Babies R Us (side note: if you are pregnant, get a Snoogle! I have been sleeping SO MUCH BETTER!). Everything was delivered to my office in lightweight packaging within the 4-hour window I’d chosen. It took less than 10 minutes to place the order and to grab it from reception at work – a HUGE time saver over driving to the two different stores, locating the products in the store (and hoping they were in stock), waiting in line to make the purchase, and driving home again.

Maybe you love the whole shopping experience, but I DO NOT. I would much rather nap than go to the store.

The prices through Google Shopping Express are exactly what you would find in-store and you can input your membership number for the stores (like Toys R Us) in order to get your loyalty rewards when you order. If you’re buying commonly sold items like groceries, you can compare prices from different stores (Target vs. Whole Foods vs. Smart N Final vs. Costco – yes, they even have Costco!) so you don’t have to worry about paying more just for the convenience of having the items delivered and you can save a bit of money without trekking to a whole other store.

The whole experience made me SO HAPPY. The only thing that could have made it better would be if they delivered to my home in the East Bay – hopefully that option will be available in the future (especially by the time my new baby is born!).

So go, try it out! Google Shopping Express is currently offering new users $10 off the first order as well as 6 months of free, unlimited same-day delivery when you sign up for the free membership. You can order online or download the iOS or Google Play app.