Gift Guide: 5 Free Valentine Gifts

Valentine’s Day is a week away! So if you’re scrambling to figure something out — have no fear, bee life is here! Because trust me, it’s easy to forget about getting a Valentine gift, grabbing a card at the last minute and the last bouquet of flowers at the grocery store (p.s. I always love flowers).  In all the Valentine hype, I think we also forget that we don’t have to spend a ton of money to show someone we love them! My Valentine gift guide is not like the others… because these gifts will cost you $0 (or very minimum amount) and will still create a special memory and show your Valentine all the love!
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photo: Michelle M. Loufman Photography

Make a Spotify Playlist. This can be fun for you, while being super special for your boo (bonus: you can update it throughout the year)! I made a playlist for B, called #emnblovetracks (off of all of our hashtags) the playlist is stacked with songs we listened too when we first started dating, songs we love together, and other songs that just make me think of him, it’s the perfect mix to our love story. So once you spend some time creating your playlist, all you have to do is share the link with your mix-tape soul mate and a sweet little note!

Fourteen Days of Memories. It’s easy to just get something to check off the Valentine check list — so why not focus and show love before and beyond the holiday. Pick fourteen days to just share love. Whether it’s a daily text with a memory or compliment, a throwback photo, a handwritten note on a post-it note, or maybe it’s in the form of cooking dinner or an extra long hug.  Two years ago I did 28-straight days of little things for B and it was fun (& hard!) to think of different ways to tell B how much I love him — sometimes they were just lists of memories, things I love about him, or a cute little card that tied back to us.

Volunteer Together. Volunteering is the perfect way to share an experience together while sharing love to people or animals who might not be as fortunate.  Consider donating/sorting books for kids, getting involved at a local animal shelter (we walk dogs at ours!), collecting canned goods or even just going through your clothes or old things and pulling together a bag or two of items to donate! This gives you an opportunity to find a new passion, spend time together and give back.
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Make a Paper Card. Literally just take a piece of printer paper, fold it into fours, grab some markers and doodle it up, with all words, phrases, memories, or hearts and a cute little love sentiment. Inside spill your heart out, tape a picture and share your love to your special person.  The last card I made for B, I wrote in black market writing my favorite things he is to me… “running buddy, the office binge watching, coffee drinker…”

Watch a Classic Movie. One of my favorite romantic comedies is When Harry Met Sally and you can watch it for ‘free’ on Hulu! The music is dreamy, the characters are funny and the story makes your heart ache. BONUS: The Notebook is also available on Netflix *grins* — so grab some popcorn, cuddle up on the couch and enjoy a movie together.

We should always share and show love to our special people, and it doesn’t need to break the bank or be an extravagant gift every year — sometimes it’s good to just keep it simple and to the point 😍. xoxo

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Latest Obsessions 12.19

Christmas is just 5 short days away! It’s that last minute crunch to get everything perfect and ready for the big day and all the stops along the way. With last minute gifts popping up, a few more gatherings being hosted and attended, the time gets away from us quickly — so my latest obsessions are all about helping navigate threw the last minute pushes, while still enjoying the holidays and keeping yourself a priority.
LatestObsessions12.19(1)-beelifeblogEasy Brunches. We’re hosting a brunch with some friends this weekend, and then also prepping to have some easy food around for our holiday mornings — so I am pulling out the recipe for that super easy french toast casserole that I made for Easter brunch! You prep the dish and refrigerate overnight and all you have to do is stick it in the oven coming the next morning! It’s SO easy and SO yummy.

Last Minute Gifts. From stocking stuffers, to a few trinkets or two, shopping local is how I’m going to wrap up those last minute gifts that always seem to creep in. And if I can’t find just what I’m looking for at the local shops, I will break out the craft supplies and make an ornament – as that has been my go to gift the last few years and it’s so easy to make it personalized and special for whoever you’re giving it too!

Holiday Outfits. Usually I am on top of having a few of these figured out — but not this year! Everything has really creeped up on me. Luckily I have a nice variety of options to pull from and build upon.  My last minute holiday fashion guide has a mix of casual ideas paired with more party inspiration, especially if it’s a bit more dresser for work!
LatestObsessions12.19(2)-beelifeblog  Me Time. With having a bit extra time off around the holidays, I’m going to make sure to take a bit of time for me — and I hope you all try and do the same for you! I’m not going to slack off with my workout routine, in fact, my fitness studio is offering a Christmas Eve class and I am 100% pumped I’ll be able to get in a workout in time for the holidays.  On top of not compromising my workout routine, I’ll be making time to volunteer with a local dog shelter I’ve been volunteering at the last few months — the pups need a good Christmas too!

On top of prepping for brunch, getting all my last minute gifts purchased and made, I still have a lot of Christmas-ing left to do! I will be making a bunch of Christmas cookies this weekend (cut outs, gingerbread and peanut butter blossoms) and getting in a few more of those Christmas classic movies like Elf, Home Alone (for the millionth time) and even It’s A Wonderful Life (on Christmas Eve of course!).

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Bee’s Last Minute Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Stockings have always been one of my favorite part of the holidays and something that I made sure B and I did for each other! We try to put a limit on it, but I know we always probably end up going over our stocking stuffer limit.  I blame my mom for always pulling together incredible stockings, that were sometimes more exciting that opening up the big presents! So if you’re looking for some last minute stocking stuffers, or ready to pick up your stocking game, here are some fun and easy ideas to get ready for Christmas.
StockingStuffers-beelifeblogSmall Incremental Gift Cards. Think like $10 to Subway, Starbucks or Whole Foods – easy day time, lunch items that come up and are nice to have a gift card on hand to cover a meal or couple cups of coffee! These are easy to stack together into a box or place throughout for continued surprises as they’re pulled out!

Something Sweet. You know those candy cane’s filled with mini reese cups or M&Ms? I always have to buy those for the stocking, it was something we always had in our growing up and was a yummy snack.  A box of Altoids, pack of gum or a reese cup tree — these can be a nice little pick me up.

Cotton Love. Think socks, a cozy winter hat, fun t-shirt or some gloves! These are fun fillers than take up a little more space and are also nice to haves that can be festive and useful.  I love throwing a few pairs of fun socks into B’s stocking, and I always love getting a fun throwback tee or Cavaliers winter hat.

Everyday Essentials.  Think the travel aisle in Target! A Tide To-Go pen, hand sanitizer, deodorant or even some body wash or bubble bath is another nice touch that is always useful, especially when you can snag the right scent! B will throw some packs of makeup remover wipes in mine and body wash and I’m always appreciative because I usually run out before I’m stocked up again.  I can also count on my mom for throwing in my favorite mascara!

Booze & Coffee. Mini travel booze bottles, a bottle of beer, or even a mini champagne bottle are the perfect size for any stocking! Have a few more coffee lovers? Throw in a few K-Cups, bag of coffee beans or even the mix quick mix packets are fun and small to help stuff that stocking!

Ornaments. Whether it’s handmade, a Hallmark signature series, or a local find ornaments are unique, personal and smaller presents that can help fill your stocking while being a memorable keepsake to trim the tree with year after year.  I always buy an ornament each year for B, and love tucking it into his stocking for a fun surprise!
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Stockings are always a Christmas tradition that I’ve been fond of growing up.  Pulling out the stockings at my moms when I helped her decorate for Christmas was always one of my favorite parts that I looked forward too! B and I’s first Christmas together was 7-months after we started dating, and I bought us matching stockings for my little studio apartment – sure enough we still use those same stockings to this day and have them hanging by the mantel just above the fireplace!

Our Christmas morning starts with stockings and then we move into the big presents — but we always ease into it, to make the morning and magic savor. What’re your favorite traditions and must have stocking stuffers?

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Two Year Wedding Anniversary Gift Guide

November is a special month — because it’s the month B and I finally tied the knot!  As you may or may not know there are “traditional” anniversary gifts for each year with a specific theme.  There is a list that has the traditional gifts paired with modern twists, and personally I like to try and stick to the traditional.  Last year I gifted B with papers sharing that I was finally going to change my last name (yes, after almost a year!).  So if you’re like me and on the hunt for something original, unique and spoiling your loved one, here are some Cotton-themed 2nd anniversary gift ideas with shop-able links!

The meaning for Cotton for an anniversary gift is “Cotton’s woven threads symbolize how you become more interconnected as time goes on and learn to be more flexible.”

Handmade Cotton Bud Ornament from Etsy. Etsy was the first spot I went to for inspiration, especially looking for something a little more unique and personalized.  One of the first things that caught my eye was this ornament — not only is it on theme, it’s also something that could easily be DIYed and even more customized as a anniversary keepsake. But for $14 with customization, you can’t beat it and I love ornaments to capture moments throughout our lives.
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Custom Embroidered Socks. This was another Etsy find that gives endless options to customize and make special for your man!  With so many different patterns and the ability to provide your own embroidered text with your wedding date, inside joke, wedding hashtag, or monogram — you really can’t go wrong with this.

His & Her Robes. Honestly, this was my first thought when I saw the second anniversary traditional gift was cotton. I jumped on Pottery Barn to see what was available — and even customizable. I liked the Vincent’s Men Robe, but it couldn’t be customized in the size I would need to get for B. I also loved this Bambo Waffle Robe from Williams Sonoma which also has monogram and different length options plus its on sale – not to mention there is just something about the waffle pattern that is so luxurious! Lastly I was searching on Land’s End for his and hers which had some other more holiday specific robes that would be perfect for Christmas pajamas!
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China is the modern gift theme which could be anything from a trip to China — a nice China dish to add for service — or even ordering Chinese food for a fun date-night in. The color is red, could be a ruby ring (hint-hint guys for the ladies) red garnet is also an option since garnet is the gemstone for two-years.

Have you already celebrated two years — do you stick to the anniversary gift themes? Or not?

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3 Party Planning Hacks – Baby Shower Ed.

This past weekend was my sister-in-law’s baby shower and I was lucky to help with the planning and was in charge of the decor.  I love a good party, and I love a good party with a theme.  The theme for K’s shower was Woodland, and as I worked through the decor it quickly morphed to a Woodland Glam theme especially once we learned the baby is a girl. So instead of breaking everything down, I wanted to share a few hacks I did for this baby shower that made a statement and helped pull everything together.
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Framed Art: One easy way to help decorate and pull the theme through was with framed art of little Woodland animals with flower crowns. Since Woodland was also K’s baby room theme, I wanted to get prints framed that could work for the shower and that could then be hung in the nursery for room decor! It was a fun conversation piece during the shower as party guests spotted them throughout the house – plus I think N&K really liked them. I purchased 6 Baby Animals with Flowers Crowns and these 11×17 frames from Michaels Craft Store.
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DIY Floral Letter: This was another piece that was used as decor at the shower and will now find a home in the nursery as well. The muted colors that were picked out play into that glam, Woodland and romantic feel.  Not to mention this was super easy and an affordable DIY that made a huge statement as part of the main centerpiece in the opening room as guests came into the baby shower. Read the full Floral Letter DIY how-to by click here.
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Dessert Table:  A dessert table has been my must-have staple for all the parties that I plan.  This is an easy way to make a great statement, while having a lot of yummy treats, lots of options and it’s another way to help pull in a theme.  There are a few pieces to mix and match for your dessert table, my go-to’s are at least one cake, maybe two depending on the size, cake pops and chocolate covered pretzels. Designed sugar cookies are another great addition to a dessert table too! Displaying everything at various levels helps give another wow factor to your sweet treats and finishing off with greens and a table runner pull it all together.
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A few other must-haves at parties are balloons and the way we pull this off is by buying those personal sized helium tanks – these make it so easy and transportation a breeze. Depending the occasion, fresh flowers are always a nice touch especially if it’s a baby or bridal shower.  I also love making sure napkins, plates and glassware are on theme and compliments to the entire party.  I love how everything came together for K’s special day, it was exhausting pulling it all together, but definitely worth it!

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Father’s Day Gift Guide

It’s officially June! Which mean’s Father’s Day is coming right up on June 16! To help pick out the perfect gift for dad,  I’ve pulled together and sourced some great deals that will also save you some money (win-win) while making a big impact and stealing dad’s heart.  Although it’s good to spoil dad, remember to work within your budget and do what you can – it’s the thought that counts, but please if you only remember or can get one thing, just get Dad a card and write him a sweet and thoughtful note.
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BOGO Power Tools: Home Depot is having a deal with Ryobi power tools – if you buy two batteries for $99 you get a free Ryobi power tool! Which are on average either $69 or $79 for the free power tool, this is a really great deal considering you’d send more than $99 if you bought the power tool and then the battery.  Win days hear with some new equipment for his workspace. This deal ends June 19 – so plenty of time to order in time for Dad.

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is right around the corner – Sunday, May 12 – so if your in need of help on ideas to spoil mom this year, you’re in luck! I created this gift guide with a variety of ideas that can stand alone or be paired together to wow-mom.  From self care to home decor, to just because – you’ll be pampering and spoiling mom with these simple and personalized, yet easy gifts!
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Self-Care: Gardening season is here, which means extra hand washing and dirt! Gear mom up with these fashionable floral gardening gloves from Williams Sonoma under $20 (on sale!)  And whether it’s self care after gardening or excessive hand-washing from home projects, Aveda’s hand relief cream is a must-have for anyone you love (and yourself!) it’s so luxurious – not to mention it’s the best hand healer, which is why it’s one of my daily essentials!  Lastly, spoil mom with a new robe, because you know the one she has was around when you still lived at home (eek!) – Anthro has a ton of beautiful options that’ll make mom feel like a million bucks and make her want to donate that old robe, ASAP. <Shoppable links below>

Home Decor: Joanna Gaines’ Hearth & Hand line at Target has THE perfect mug for mom, it’s simple and the perfect reminder to mom that you love her (because it says ‘Love You, Mom’) – especially if you can’t see or talk to her everyday!  Stay on the Chip & Jojo train and get mom Joanna’s newest book Homebody is the perfect guide for anyone who loves decorating or looking for design inspiration for their home!

Just Because. The Anthro Block Letter Monogram necklace is so simple and so elegant, whether it’s a first or last name initial, mom will absolutely love this – it’s an easy and thoughtful gift that can work for anyone on your list! You can’t forget a card for mom! Go homemade or local for a personalized touch.  This card from Boundary & Thorn is the perfect mix of florals and watercolors – mom will want to frame it!

Shop the Gift Guide: Williams Sonoma Gardening Gloves | Target Glass Jar Candle | Homebody Book by Joanna Gaines | Anthropologie Block Letter Monogram Necklace | Aveda Hand Relief Cream | Love You, Mom Mug from Target | Anthropologie Flora Robe | Boundary & Thorn Mother’s Day Car

The best part is you can even pair a few of these items together as little gift sets, or with other different pieces: like the Anthro Robe with a spa gift card or bottle of mom’s favorite wine.  The coffee mug could be paired with mom’s favorite coffee beans or k-cups, and the gardening gloves and hand cream would go great with a flower pot and fun flower for mom to plant!  But remember, beyond just spoiling your mom – make sure you tell her you love her. xox

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3 Unique Wedding Gifts to Give

Guess what! Wedding season is all year round – so if the Save the Dates are starting to fill up your fridge, here are a few ideas to stash away, or better yet – order ahead of time to give as the perfect shower or wedding gift this season.  Trust me, I’m not one to promote veering away from the wedding registry but after receiving a few of these ourselves I was shocked and taken aback by the thoughtfulness!
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Okay – let’s get to the good stuff!

  1. Custom Family Cross Stitch – We got this as a wedding gift, and I nearly cried when I opened it and saw our little family stitched into a beautiful frame.  Yes, it even included MOZ! which I think is what made me the most happy – upon further viewing behind my tears I noticed that the outfits B and I wore were the same from our engagement pictures! It was seriously one of the most thoughtful gifts and we have it hanging it a prominent spot to swoon over it.  Here is a similar one on Etsy. This could also be done as a custom painting or portrait of the couples new/first home or engagement picture! Better yet, if you’re crafty enough you could make this yourself!
  2. Monthly Wine Club Subscription – This could even be a food box service for a few months (while they’re adjusting to married life) or some other beverage/cocktail service that the couple can enjoy and experience together.  Giving them a few months free is a great way for the couple to get excited about something new and make a new married tradition.  Check out Winc, Clubbubbly or Home Chef.
  3. Honeymoon Help – A lot of registries, like Zola allow couples to add a Honeymoon Fund to their registry.  This is something to keep an eye out on! Another way to help a couple on their honeymoon is with a gift certificate to a restaurant for a dinner date on their honeymoon!  We greatly appreciated this as it helped us plan a special night out and around the rest of our trip. Does this couple love traveling? This 50 States Photo Map on Etsy is also another great gift and keepsake to help traveling couples document their travels!

The important thing when giving a gift is knowing the couple! And if you’re just not sure, but want to give something a little different talk to a closer family member or friend to gut check or figure out where they’re honeymooning.  Cheers to wedding season!

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Local Love: Valentine’s Edition

Hello, Cleveland lovers! Guess what – Valentine’s Day is a little over a week away… eeek!  Are you ready? If not,  I have some of my favorite local spots that would be perfect for a coffee date, heart-felt card or a romantic date night.
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Brewella’s: Decorated to the tee for the day of love, you might just fall in love with someone here.  Whether it’s a gift card, a coffee date for one of their seasonal latte’s (with homemade strawberry whip cream) or a breakfast date for crepes – Brewella’s will not only deliver in delicious drinks and eats, they’re festive pink and red decor will make you melt! Explore the coffee shop from their instagam.

Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes: KEC just dropped their Valentine menu, the key for this is ordering ahead to make sure your sweet treats are secure for your sweetie for the big day!  Not feeling all the kitchy V-day sweets?  KEC has a collection of customizable cakes for any occasion and other delicious treats stocked daily! Check out the Valentine menu here or tease your sweet tooth with KEC’s insta feed.

Boundary & Thorn:  The kitchen punny line of prints are so cute, and not to mention a little frisky!  This would be a fun little gift to give to a gal pal or sig-o, one of my personal favorites from the Coffee Punnies by B&T is “Wanna French” with a french press – it especially makes me think of B since we always make a french press on the weekends!  Boundary & Thorn also specializes in custom projects (dog portraits, wedding invites, holiday cards!) beyond her shop items! Shop B&T’s instagram feed.

Lovely Paperie & Gifts: Hey guys, listen up for this one! This would be a great place to bring your gal pal on a little shopping spree, to let her pick out a Lillie Pultzer piece, a monogram bracelet, or maybe some Kate Spade? If a shopping spree sounds a little too extravagant, they also have an assortment of stunning Valentine cards that would make anyone’s heart melt.  Ladies, they also have gifts for your guys too! Shop Lovely virtually here.

Distill Table: If you head to Distill you have to order one of their handcrafted cocktails, made with all locally sourced ingredients that will not only make your tastebuds giggle but the presentation will turn you to a heart eye-emoji.  The red velvet booths will make you want to cozy up with your Valentine while you enjoy all delicious and local food!
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So if you haven’t even thought of Valentine’s Day yet, maybe some of these local spots will inspire you – even if you’re not reading from CLE.   These are a lot of my favorite local shops that I like to frequent as often as I can especially for special occasions, looking for one of a kind gifts or for just some delicious local eats (or coffee, LBH)!

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Image Sources: Group image sourced from shops instagram feeds and linked within content.