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gift guide

2018 gift guide: stocking stuffers

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stocking stuffer ideas

It’s that time of year again! Holidays always seem to be the time of year where we feel totally stumped by the people we want to gift. Either they have everything, or they don’t “need” anything. Sometimes it’s a really nice gesture to take a deep look at the recipient’s personality and connect that to any gifts you want to give them. It’s a good tip to keep in mind year-round!

Stockings are my favorite part of the holidays, because tiny presents can go really far. Here are a few ideas anyone in your life is sure to love, if you’re stumped for ideas!

Portable Light Therapy Lamp: Holidays are great, but the winter SAD is real. I use blue light therapy to combat some of those feelings, and it definitely helps. This cute little lamp is great for a traveler or for anyone to put on their desk to pop on – I especially like using mine in the morning.

Playing Cards: These waterproof ones are perfect for drinking games (I had them in college and they lasted for three years), or go a little more upscale with this sleek black set.

Fringed Blanket: Surprise! I love blankets, especially thin cotton ones. They’re easy to roll up and stick into a stocking, and the neutral colors in this one would fit any color scheme.

Travel Candle: Candles can often seem like a default gift, but they’re one I really love getting. Capri Blue’s Volcano scent is a favorite, but I also love rich, masculine scents like this sandalwood one as well. Modern Alchemy has a great deal on a mystery box too, so you could stock up for multiple gifts!

Things I’ll Cancel Later Planner: For the last two years I’ve been bullet journalling and it works well for me, but sometimes I find myself wanting something smaller to throw into my bag. Last year I saw these at Saks and fell in love. They’re quirky with cocktail recipes and funny holidays, really well-made, and high quality. It would make an excellent stocking stuffer! (It’s on sale at Bloomingdale’s until the 9th, and they also have 6% back on eBates!)

Platypus Water Bag: This is hands down my favorite Amazon purchase of all time. I was never carrying water bottles around with me on the train because they’re so bulky, or take up so much space in my bag. On my recent trip to New York, there were people in the airport with water bottle envy, asking all kinds of questions and wanting to know where I’d gotten it. I prefer this model more than the Vapur ones – it has a double lock, and a built-in carabiner for an easy way to clip it on.

Wax Melter: I’ve never seen a wax melter that plugs into an outlet, and I love this idea! I also love this company’s bear-shaped wax as well, though it might be a bit hard to see them melt down 🙁

Hanging Light: I love these kinds of hanging lights – they’re easy to wrap around rods in closets or tack up in spaces without a lot of lighting. Affordable too, and easy to tuck into a stocking!

Smart Sweets Gummy Bears: After starting to eat keto, I discovered these as a suggested sweet treat. They taste exactly like “regular” gummies (but better, in my opinion.) I got them for family stocking stuffers and

Portable Surge Protector: This is a really nice outlet for travel – I hate bringing wall warts, so I’m always looking for surge protectors that have built-in USB ports. It’s also great for someone who wants a lower-profile outlet at home than traditional surge protectors.

Looking for more ideas? Check out my Amazon Stocking Stuffer Idea List – I’ll keep updating it with more fun ideas as I see them!

December 7, 2018
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2018 gift guide: writer’s block

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gift ideas for writers

It’s that time of year again! Holidays always seem to be the time of year where we feel totally stumped by the people we want to gift. Either they have everything, or they don’t “need” anything. Sometimes it’s a really nice gesture to take a deep look at the recipient’s personality and connect that to any gifts you want to give them. It’s a good tip to keep in mind year-round!

There are tons of different kinds of writers – novelists, journalists, essayists, bloggers, or those who like to journal every day. Show your support for their passion with some of these hand-picked items!

Easy Tiger Literary AF Pen: There’s something about writing with a pen and paper that makes me feel super accomplished, plus removing a computer from the equation can cut down on distractions, increasing productivity and focus. This one from is super heavy duty and features a replaceable ink cartridge, so when they use it up, they can keep on going with this super sleek pen.

Writer Emergency Pack: These are great for both daily writing exercises or to get over a hump in a new piece. Each card provides a tip, situation, or some other way to look at a scene. I used to have these and loved using them to write quick flash fiction pieces.

On Writing Well: This book is a classic for a reason. The style of the book, the timelessness of the advice, and the practical skills make it a must-read for any writer (and that includes people who write anything through the day, be it a text message to your friend or an email to your boss.)

Scrivener: Every writer has their favorite word processor, so they might already have something they’re married to. Even so, Scrivener is widely regarded as the be-all, end-all of writing softwares for writers. Scrivener creates index cards for everything so it’s easy to reorganize, features a robust outliner tool, and basically just provides any feature a writer could dream of. (Plus, the company is called Literature and Lattes. I love that.)

Aquanotes: While it seems like a quirky white elephant gift, these do actually sound pretty useful. I can’t tell you how many ideas I’ve lost in the shower, and the ability to jot down a few notes for later is invaluable.

Frixion Pens: These are some of my favorite kinds of pens. They’re erasable and come in tons of different colors – there are even highlighters to go along with them. I love using these in my bullet journal and planners, but they’d also be great for outlining stories or mindmapping plot points.

Novel Teas: No secret that I love tea! There’s something about a warm cup of tea or coffee on my desk that puts me in the writing zone. These cute ones are themed to American Classics, so the quotes on the bags could offer some motivation through writer’s block. Maybe they’ll be on the next run of bags!

Tea Press/Travel Mug: Even if your writer doesn’t like loose leaf tea, this travel mug is a must-have. Dani and I both bought them recently, and it keeps your drinks hot for HOURS. My tea was so hot that after an hour, I finally took the lid off to let it cool down, and four hours after I made it, it was still warm and toasty!

Aloe Plant: Or any kind of plant, really, but studies have shown that plants can increase productivity! I have this aloe plant and love the nice ceramic pot it came in. Costa Farms on Amazon has many other different options, including hard-to-kill varieties like pothos and snake plants.

What’s on your list? What’s your favorite tool for writing?

November 20, 2018
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2018 gift guide: Chicago lover

Posted in Shopping, Travel by

2018 gift guide chicago gift ideas

It’s that time of year again! Holidays always seem to be the time of year where we feel totally stumped by the people we want to gift. Either they have everything, or they don’t “need” anything. Sometimes it’s a really nice gesture to take a deep look at the recipient’s personality and connect that to any gifts you want to give them. It’s a good tip to keep in mind year-round!

For travel lovers, it might be nice to help them pay homage to their favorite place. Since I love Chicago, that’s the theme of today, but many of these gifts are available for other cities and states as well. Let’s take a look!

Chicago Bears travel scarf: I have one of these Waypoint Goods travel scarves and I absolutely love it. I hear the Bears aren’t really something to be proud of, but there are plenty of other colors to choose from too! This cozy infinity scarf features a pocket big enough for your phone, cash, and earbuds. Carrying a purse has become such a burden, so I’ve pared down my everyday carry items to fit in this pocket, and I love it.

Chicago Skyline print: Local printers and artists at Foursided have my heart. This skyline print is my favorite, but there are tons of other options if you prefer a map motif, something more mid-century inspired, or want to pay tribute to the long-suffering Cubs.

CTA Stop Magnets: If you’re like me and live in everyday thankfulness for the vast CTA system, Transit Tees has the gifts for you! Tell your friends what line or stop is your favorite – Transit Tees makes magnets and pins for almost all of them. I got the boyfriend a Yellow line magnet as a housewarming present for the new house, so this is a great shop to keep in mind year-round!

Chicago Homesick Candle: Homesick Candles have been around for awhile, but I still totally love them. The Chicago scent hearkens Fannie May chocolates and the breezes from Lake Michigan. The Illinois version of the candle carries more floral scents.

Chicago Flashback: This book from the Tribune staff would be a great gift for a history buff. It not only showcases photos of our beautiful architecture, but also tells the stories of the builders and other notable Chicago residents.

Chicago Skyline Lego Set: Somehow, the older I get, the more I regress into enjoying Legos. I’ve always been freeform and abstract with mine, but this Chicago skyline set is really cool. My grandpa worked on the Sears Tower when it was being built, so it would be a fun homage to that. (And no, I will never call it the Willis Tower.)

Chicago-opoly: This fun Chicago-themed Monopoly-style board game would be a hit for me. I love attending and hosting game nights, and Monopoly is best suited for a long weekend because as everyone knows, it’s a marathon game! This is a great gift idea for someone you don’t know well, because the odds of them not liking fun is… well, pretty low.

Chicago-etched Whiskey Glass: I love these types of whiskey glasses. They’re well-made and the etched Chicago map makes it feel a little fancy.

How is holiday shopping for you? Do you find it difficult, or are you like me, finishing before Thanksgiving even hits?

November 19, 2018
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19 (more) creative father’s day gift ideas

Posted in Living by

Father’s day is coming, and I love to give really unique and creative gifts. Dating a dad has given me real insight I’d never had before – the stereotypes are true, people. (If anyone would like to disagree, I have the photos of him grilling in khaki shorts and an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt. I might have made him buy that Hawaiian shirt, but that’s neither here nor there.) Being with him has also broadened my horizons on what kind of gifts guys might like – so if you’re stuck with a dad, brother, partner, or someone else who is just hard to buy for, try some of these gift ideas for guys!

Slice off the Ol’ Pie Shirts: This is what I got for my man and his kiddo. (I couldn’t hold out until father’s day, though – they’re adorable in their matching shirts.) They’re super cute, and the seller offers additional kids shirts if there are jealous siblings to consider!

Bullet journal: There have been plenty of studies done that say writing down appointments and tasks helps you remember them better than filing them in a digital app or calendar, so set up a bullet journal (or find a ready-made planner) that can help him keep his head on straight. I still love the Passion Planner, but I’ve been using a bullet journal classic Leuchtturm1917 notebook lately.

Book: Books are really great gift options for anyone, basically anytime. If the dad in your life likes to read, here are a few options: Lost In Space studies pop culture and fatherhood, Don’t Make Me Stop This Car is a humor book by Al Roker (who I picture as an Ultimate Dad,) or Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces, a more heartfelt book by Michael Chabon, there’s a

Set of Nice Socks: Nice Laundry and Land’s End are just a few places you can order customized monogrammed socks, so there’s never a question of sock ownership, and replenishing holy or worn out socks is probably not something he’d ever really consider, even though it probably needs to be done.

father's day gift ideas

Grill Dad Set: One of the things my boyfriend finds lacking at my apartment is grill utensils. This set includes everything needed for a really great cookout, and identifies the owner so no one else tries to snag the tool set.

Wallet: I’ve been using card holder-style wallets for a few years, and I love how minimalist it forces me to be in the cards I carry around with me. This would be a great (and useful) gift for any minimalist man in your life – or maybe just the one who’s been sitting on a six-inch-thick wallet for a few too many years.

Custom Guitar Picks: If your guy is musical, custom picks would be a cool gift. Etsy has a host of different options, from photo picks, branded, or even heavier, engraved metal picks.

Insulated Growler: If your dad, husband, or other male figure loves beer (and honestly, who doesn’t,) this insulated, reusable growler is a great gift idea. Stop by a brewery to get it filled up and take it along on a picnic to enjoy some fresh, cool craft beer on the go! (Also useful for the aggressive coffee drinker. Not that I know any, or anything…)

Bose Build Speaker Cube: This could be a fun hands-on gift for a dad and his kid (or grab an adult version for a really cool DIY project for a guy who loves tech). It will walk them through the steps to create their own working bluetooth speaker to pair with an Apple device!

Still need even more ideas? Check out these past gift guides for guys:

Letters to Dad: If it’s hard to talk about feelings in your family (I was raised in a stereotypical midwestern home – no one ever has feelings ever) this “Letters to” series is a great prompt to start opening the lines of communication, reminisce on memories, or tell your dad or father figure things you’ve always wanted to share.

Dad Joke Glass: The best part of dating a dad is unlimited dad jokes – no matter how crummy they are (sorry honey,) they make me laugh every time. This glass will let everyone around him know that the joke factory is open. (Grab a book to go along with it so he’s never floundering for a joke to tell.)

Enamel Pins: These are a super fun way to customize commuter bags or hats, and there are plenty geared toward dads. Get a set of classic dad shoes, go a little more formal with a declaration of Good Dad-dom, or lean into the humor and Simpsons fandom.

Scotch-Infused Toothpicks: My grandpa has had a toothpick in his mouth as long as I can remember (not the same one, I imagine.) These scotch-infused toothpicks from Uncommon Goods are a unique gift for any whisky lover or chronic toothpick user!

Seaweed Bath Co. Detox Body Scrub: Especially in the summer, skin can get really rough. #TreatHisSkin with this gentle exfoliating scrub (I promise this isn’t sponsored, that was just where my brain took #TreatYoSelf in this case!) It helps wash away some of the dead, rough skin, and the charcoal infusion helps users get really clean.

Card Games: Playing analog games is still just as fun, and it’s more collaborative. Spend “real life” time together with card games like Exploding Kittens or the Oregon Trail card game (which I can confirm is super fun!!)

gift ideas for men

Quip toothbrushes: Bring tech into the bathroom with an electric toothbrush from Quip. Their metal brush handles are super heavy duty, and they’ll send brush head and toothpaste refills on time every three months. We’ve used these for awhile now and I really like it a lot – plus the toothpaste tastes really great.

Mugs: A classic gift, but there are some hilarious options. Baby Daddy, Best Dad Ever, Emergency Dad Jokes – they’re all super hilarious and great options for anyone.

Smart Lawn Sprinkler System: All smart home everything. This would be a super fun gift for anyone who likes technology and working in the lawn.

Sugru Mouldable Glue: Most of the guys I know are always tinkering and fixing things – this moldable glue looks really cool, and really useful for fixing pretty much anything. This would be a cool gift to keep in the toolbox, in the garage, in the car, at work – basically anywhere so he can fix it on the fly.

Do you have any go-to gift ideas for men?

June 4, 2018
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19 unique ideas for father’s day

Posted in Living by
This post contains affiliate links. Dollar Shave Club and TRTL provided samples for review, but all opinions are my own.

19 unique father's day gift ideas

“Desi, why are your gift guides always 19 items,” you ask? 19 is my favorite number. Always has been – probably because it’s my birthdate. Even though I consider myself a great gift giver, I’ve always had trouble shopping for my dad. Despite that, I still have some great gift ideas! Here are 19 creative and unique ideas for your dad – no matter what his interests are!

Zubaz tie: Zubaz is one of my favorite things. They aren’t just for the 90’s throwback anymore – they have a ton of great sports gear, sandals, and more. If he’s a suit wearer, this tie is a great way to add some fun and color to his wardrobe!

Hangry Kit: This one would be a hit in our house since emotions run high when blood sugar levels run low. A snack box full of sweet and salty snacks would be perfect for the garage, the office, a road trip, or even tucked next to his favorite chair when he needs a little treat.

Beer of the Month Club: After all those snacks, he’s sure to be thirsty. If he likes to try new things, deliver 12 new bottles of beer to his doorstep. He might find his new favorite brew, and you become the new favorite child.

Dollar Shave Club: I love this company, and they aren’t just razors and shower products anymore! Gift your dad the Big Cloud line – the daily face moisturizer and lip balm have SPF to keep him sun safe when he heads out for a day of golf, fishing on the boat, or mowing the lawn! (You could keep the hand lotion for yourself – it’s super creamy and luxe. I keep mine in my carry-on to help with plane dryness.)

pCloud: Similar to Dropbox, pCloud is a cloud storage system. If your dad works from a lot of different locations, this kind of digital storage can be super helpful so he can always access what he needs, no matter where he is. Or maybe he has a huge music or photo collection – no matter what it is, you (or he) will get an extra gig of storage when signing up with this referral link.

Yellow Submarine Mug: Heat-activated mugs are my favorite. If your dad is into music, grab this mug!

19 gift ideas for father's day

TRTL Travel Pillow: This has quickly become something I can’t live without, and it’s perfect for a guy who travels a lot. Much less intrusive than the normal u-shaped travel pillows, the TRTL pillow tucks away easily and provides the perfect amount of support to grab a few zzz’s on planes or trains.

May Designs Notebook: I love May Designs, and I know this doesn’t seem like the manliest gift, but hear me out. They recently added a whiskey notes insert set. If your dad likes whiskey, this would make an awesome (and super unique) gift basket with a tasting set of different whiskeys to try!

Sumojerky: Lots of food related ideas on this list – I guess it’s pretty obvious what the preferred gifts in my family are! Monthly jerky shipments from a variety of makers right to his door so he’ll always have something to look forward to.

Classy Playing Cards: Cards are such a “dad” thing, aren’t they? Up his game (literally) with these black on black cards – then spend some time with him and don’t hustle him too hard.

Lapel Torch: My dad is outdoorsy in a “non-traditional” way – he spends a lot of time in the garage working on cars, often late into the night. In a rural or under-lit area, a Lapel Torch would be a great way to shed some light on the situation! Perfect for camping too (its intended use.)

That Wrestling Club: I’ve slowly been revealing myself to be a wrestling fan – the athleticism is unmatched in any other sport. If your dad is into it, gift him a subscription – he’ll get both current and classic memorabilia (and you can bond with him over that Savage/Steamboat match from the 80’s.)

Watch: Keep him in style and on time with a fashionable and affordable watch. If he’s a chronic watch loser, Amazon even has a ton of inexpensive options so he won’t feel bad if he loses track!

Amazon Kindle Unlimited: It’s no surprise that I’m an avid reader, and the dads in my family like to read as well. Our tastes differ so much that I’d have no idea what books to pick out for them. A Kindle Unlimited subscription lets him pick his own books as often as he wants – win/win/win, to be honest.

Nice Pen: Bourbon & Boots is one of my favorite spots for unique gifts. Class up dad’s desk with a Bourbon & Boots wooden pen. The steampunk one is super cool, and would be a great conversation piece for the office! If he’s not a pen guy, check out their creative bourbon gifts!

Skin Hero balm: This hemp balm works great on a ton of ailments – bug bites, sunburns, cuts & burns, eczema and dry skin, and the list goes on. Since it’s unscented, it’s great for guys (or anyone else who is scent-sensitive.) Its small size makes it easy to tuck away in the car, desk drawer, or work bench – anywhere he might need a little bit of skin relief.

father's day gift ideas

Bag Organizer: This is definitely a product that any dude on the go doesn’t know he needs. Let’s be honest – work bags or briefcases get super messy and disorganized. A bag organizer like this will give everything its own place so he’ll always look like a pro when reaching for his phone, pen, or files!

Cheese BBQ Utensil: If he’s a grillmaster, he’s probably always looking for new and unique utensils for his domain. This is something I didn’t know I needed until I saw it: it lets you barbecue a layer of cheese. I’ll take three.

Sunglasses: These floating sunglasses mean he’ll never lose a pair on the lake again. If they fly off on a wave or while he’s pulling in The Big One, they’ll bob back up to the surface. Save his eyes from squinting for the rest of the day, and saves his wallet from replacing yet another pair!

Fitbit: I just upgraded to the Charge 2 model, and it’s really revved up my desire to get active again. Fitbits are a great way to challenge friends and family, so this could be a fun way to feel connected even if you’re far apart!

June 5, 2017
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