Feb 092013


Today I am sharing with you the dates I chose for my “dates for a year” gift. If you missed that post,  you can find it HERE.

  1. Train ride to San Juan Capistrano for Brunch at Ramos House Cafe’.
  2. Tickets to the Kings game.
  3. Walking tour in San Diego’s Little Italy with a gift certificate to Extraordinary desserts.
  4. Lunch at Lucha Libre. It’s this dive Mexican restaurant where you can reserve the “booth”. Funky and fun!
  5. Puzzle night at home. (this is something they like to do together)
  6. Art Splash Carlsbad where locals come together and paint the streets and showcase their art. (sent them to breakfast first)
  7. Cineopolis, the fancy movie theater where you can recline in your comfy chair and have a waitress bring you a martini, while you watch the latest James Bond flick!
  8. Go Cars in San Diego. Basically I sent them to be tourists in their own city. Cafe Chloe’ followed for lunch. (a San Diego must)
  9. Pottery painting at a local shop where they made each other a gift.
  10. Ice skating in La Jolla so they could bring back the teen romance in their life! haha
  11. Their last date was a gift card to Michaels Craft shop so they can assemble their scrapbook together with their “year of dates” photographs and memories…


photo 4



These were the dates I chose for my sister and brother in-law. My ideas were truly endless, especially the longer I thought about it. Here is a little added bonus for you…

More date night ideas:
  • Picnic with all the trimmings. (candles, blankets, wine and even a laptop to watch a romantic movie)
  • Dinner at a restaurant, but at the “chefs table”. (this is the room or counter you eat at while watching your food being prepared)
  • Spa day for fabulous massages and facials. A mini date at your local pedicure place would be great too!
  • Be a tourist in your own city. I especially like using Groupons/Living Social coupons for this.
  • Whale watching or sunset dinner cruise.
  • Cooking class at a local restaurant or store, such as Sur La Table.
  • Amusement park such as Disneyland. Act like a kid again…even if for one day!
  • An unusual dinner out such as “eating in the dark” or try a new food. (Indian, sushi, vegan, etc…)
  • Museum or local art showing.
  • Music concert for an old favorite band.
  • Your local juice bar, followed by hitting the rock climbing gym. (fun even for beginners)
  • Plant an herb garden together.
  • Create a signature cocktail. Have fun experimenting with ingredients such as lavender, rosemary and mint. (look around on the internet for inspiration)

Date nights that are cheap or free:
  • Embrace the great outdoors by going on a hike or stroll along the beach, river, or local nature spot.
  • Wash each others cars together while blasting your favorite tunes. (if it’s warm enough, add a little water fight too!)
  • There is nothing more romantic than cooking a meal together. Do everything as a team,  from choosing the dinner, grocery shopping, prepping and cooking.
  • Pamper your significant other. Example: Let them watch their favorite t.v. , play video games, eat their favorite bad foods, GUILT FREE, while you make them food, always have a cold drink for them, do a few of their chores, give a little foot rub…you get the idea.
  • Garage sale or flea market date. Designate $10 and have fun searching for a gift for one another.
  • Follow a local food truck to have some gourmet grub on a budget.
  • Pay it forward together. This might be the most bonding date. (tidy your elderly neighbors yard, babysit for a single parent, deliver a surprise dinner to someone sick or depressed, have a fund raiser such as a garage sale for someone in need, volunteer locally such as a beach clean up, help friends have their emergency kits together, I could go on and on…)
  • Attend a free concert in the park or movie in your local community. (usually a summer activity)
  • DIY spa day. Create a spa atmosphere with soothing music, water with cucumbers and lemon, low lighting, favorite candle scent…and give each other scalp, hand, foot or neck massages. If you have a tub, draw a nice bubble bath for the other with a tray of a few of their favorite things. (book, bubbly, soaps) Throw a towel in the drier so it’s nice and warm for them when they get out.
  • Game night,  such as chess or scrabble.
  • Get some household chore done, such working in the yard. It might not be the most romantic date, but you will get something accomplished TOGETHER. Make it enjoyable by taking a break and having some cold beer and chips/salsa together.


I think these suggestions should keep you busy for a while. Please feel free to share your ideas in my comment section to share with everyone!! I’d really appreciate your creative input.

Jan 282013


I am going to show you how to put together an entire year of dates. This is a unique idea you can arrange for your significant other or as a gift for that couple who has everything. I came up with this idea for my sister’s 20th wedding anniversary. To get a quick idea of how this works, click here to read the letter they were given. Remember you can customize this idea to fit your needs. Perhaps a year is too ambitious or expensive for you. You can alter this idea for 3, 6 or 9 months very easily. I accomplished this by using a scrapbook that had “dates” in envelopes inside the pages. For their last date they would get to compile their “year of dates” memories and photos.

Items you will need to assemble your date scrapbook:

  • Scrapbook or photo album. (with enough pages for each date)
  • Shipping tags (2 3/4 x 1 3/8 is the size I used)
  • Large envelopes. (enough for one per date and an extra one for the memorabilia at the end of the book)
  • Tiny envelopes that will hold your “date topic”. (enough for one per date)
  • Printer and 8 1/2 X 11 paper.
  • Optional items: fun scissors for paper edges, stickers, etc… (see photos)

(click on photos to make them larger to see details)


What you need to do:

  1. Create a budget.
  2. Make a list of date ideas you have.  Ask yourself what their hobbies, likes and dislikes are. One date might be fancy and the next casual. (and even free) Think ahead and take seasons and weather into account when planning as well. You wouldn’t want to give them a date to snowboard in June or an outdoor picnic in December.
  3. Purchase the gift certificates, gather any “date” specific items you may need (ex: map to a secret picnic spot) and money envelope
  4. Write your “date night topics”  in WORD (or whatever program you use). Print them out, cut and stick them in the tiny envelopes. (see photo for example below)
  5. Print maps, directions, menus, etc… that you will need for the dates. You can provide suggestions in addition to the main date. For example, if they were going to the Kings Hockey game for their  date, you could give them a list of cool restaurants nearby with links to reviews, prices and menus. I took screen shots to help me provide more information and cool photos.
  6. Create the finishing touches for each date and put them in their individual envelopes. Be sure they are labeled.

You need to include a cover letter explaining the gift and how it works. Here is a sample of the letter I included for my sister’s gift of “dates for a year”. SAMPLE LETTER





  • This idea can be used for almost any recipient whether single or married.
  • Remember it’s the small details that make a difference. For example, I photo-shopped my sister’s face into the Date Night movie poster for the cover of the scrap book. This worked out perfectly and was very custom since it’s about date nights and my bro-in- law happens to look  like Steve Carell.
  • If you need to stretch the budget, add some no cost dates in the mix. It’s more about making them take the time to relax.



 Stay tuned for my list of date night ideas…

Dec 022012

Winter is here and what better time to start cozying up to your favorite red! Today I’m sharing my beloved wine glass with you. Friends are always asking me where they can get one. What makes it so special? It fits an entire bottle of vino!  I must confess I do not drink an entire bottle of wine at once, however I’m a sucker for a great novelty.  It’s now my “go to” hostess gift or “budget gift” that is very “rich in style”. Stock up and have them on hand for that perfect gift.



The ideas are endless:
  • Get them etched with Mr. and Mrs., a special date or a wine quote at your local engraver for a one of a kind gift. (or etch them yourself if you’re the crafty type)
  • For dual usage fill the large wine glass with candies, nuts or a dip at your next cocktail / wine party.
  • Use them as candle holders or a flower vase.
  • They make a great vessel for wrapping gift certificates to your local wine tasting bar, restaurants or home decore stores.
  • They make the perfect storage for used wine corks too!
Nov 192012

unique way to gift money

Here is my latest idea on how to gift money other than stuffing an envelope with a check or cash. My co-worker was moving away (sob, sob) and it wasn’t practical to burden her with more “stuff” to have to move. There was no doubt in my mind money would be the best gift. I like to add a little whimsy when gifting dough. Since my co-worker is a serious chocoholic and moving away to college, I came up with the shadow box idea.


Supplies you will need:

  • shadow box (can be found at most stores that carry frames such as Michaels, Target, etc…)
  • chocolate or choice of treat your recipient would like
  • small envelope to hold money
  • four coins (pennies matched my decore best)
  • paper to print “In Case Of Emergency Break Glass”
  • hammer
  • safety glasses (can be found at Home Depot for a few bucks)
  • glue gun

What to do:

  1. Hot glue your coins onto the envelope that you put your money in.
  2. Print out the “In Case Of Emergency Break Glass” onto your paper of choice, then cut it to fit the frame size.
  3. Hot glue your envelope and your chocolate bar onto the print out.
  4. Assemble inside the shadow box. From the back side I hot glued the frame shut so that she really would have to smash it open to get to the goods!
  5. Your done, wrap it up in a gift bag or box.

Aug 042012

Life is like a box of chocolates…


I’ve written a lot of posts on how to “gift money”. This is my latest idea with a sweet twist to it. Start by getting a box of See’s (or your favorite) chocolates. Go to a store like Cost Plus that has novelty candies. Find any money themed chocolates to add to your box. I purchased gold coins and chocolate dollar bars. As you can see how I did it in the above photo, randomly put the money chocolates with the See’s candies and then of course add the real money. This is a simple, but thoughtful way to gift money for all occasions. I created this one for a graduation celebration.


On the card you can add a fun quote like, “Life is like a box of chocolates…” finish the quote with something appropriate for the occasion.

Jun 202012

Recently, my sister asked me to come up with a creative idea for guests to sign my nephew’s graduation party book. In addition, I was also in charge of the photo gallery. I thought the obvious thing to do was have everyone sign a guitar (the party theme was music / The Beatles), and also have a photo collage, but that just felt too predictable and lazy. It seems like when I have a deadline, ideas never come, but when I have nothing going on, the ideas flow endlessly.  Anyway, I was having a serious case of creativity block, and even looking at Pinterest while drinking wine wasn’t helping. Fortunately for me, my genius son (yes, I’m one of those moms) came up with a brilliant idea! He said to combine the photo album with the sign-in book using thought bubbles. How perfect! Not only did it meet my sisters criteria, but it was whimsical and fun! It ended up turning out great, and it was also a good way for the diverse guests to mingle with one another as they had fun reminiscing over old photos and trying to come up with clever comments. I’m happy to report it was a huge success!


Here are the basic steps:

  • Gather all the photos you want to use into an album on your computer (I personally use iPhoto)
  • Create thought and speech bubbles in Photoshop or similar program
  • Then place thought bubbles on your selected photos in Photoshop
  • Finally, I used Blurb to create my photo album (Blurb is more economical than iPhoto books, but a little more complicated if you’re a rookie)

In order to do it my way, you need to know how to use Photoshop or have access to someone who can help you. It’s very simple if you do. Otherwise, you can create the same type of album but you will either have to hand write the thought & speech bubbles, use a stencil or stickers.

Perfect for:

  • bridal showers
  • weddings
  • graduation parties
  • high school reunions
  • baby showers
  • special occasions


I left several pages at the end of the photo album for more autographs. I titled each page differently as you can see in the photos.


I couldn’t decide what should be on the back cover, if anything. Then it hit me, a photograph of the back of my nephew! Think outside the box…it’s fun!


I used a photograph of my nephews party invitation as the cover for the guest album. I also mixed in many photographs without thought or speech bubbles throughout the album. (as seen in photos at top of article) I will be honest, this isn’t a project you whip out in a few hours. It does take some careful planning when gathering photos, Photoshop work, and putting it all together. However, if you’re looking for a one of a kind unique gift or keepsake, this is a sure winner that anyone will appreciate for many years to come. I hope this guest book idea whets your appetite to create an unforgettable guest book for your next special occasion.

Mar 262012

cork magnet succulent planters

This latest creation has been made by a modern day Martha, my sister, Colleen. Well, she’s a lot more hip than her, but you get the idea.

It all started when she gave a friend of ours a bottle of wine for their 25th wedding anniversary. She wanted them to be able to have a little memento from the evening. After the bottle was empty, I sneaked the cork in my purse(it’s not stealing, because she got it back!). From there my sister worked her brilliance! The couple she was making it for love two things in life, wine and gardening. (yes in that order, jk!) That’s when she remembered being inspired by a photo from Piccsy. A mini cork succulent planter magnet. Does it get any cuter? I don’t think so! It’s sentimental, compact, practical, green and stylish.


  • Corks made from cork not plastic
  • Magnets
  • Potting soil
  • Very small succulent cuttings
  • Puncher
  • Paring knife
  • Glue gun

How to:

  1. CAREFULLY, hollow out the center of a wine cork with the puncher and knife until you’ve hollowed it out halfway.
  2.  Glue magnet onto cork.
  3.  Fill the hole with potting soil and add the succulent.
  4.  Use an eyedropper to water.
  5. Put on your fridge and enjoy!

WARNING: This might not be a craft for a child or a clumsy adult!















Perfect For:

  • Hostess gifts
  • Special occasions
  • Wine lovers
  • Green lovers
  • Me
  • Thank you gifts
  • Green thumb friends
  • really, anyone!



Jan 162012

I love monograms. Today I’m sharing a few diy projects that I’ll be making on my next rainy day. (I’m afraid that might this weekend!) I hope they inspire you to get your letter on!

Diy Monogram Mugs by Design Moms. She got this idea when she spotted some mugs at Anthropologie. She shows you how to turn this it into a perfect gift with Happy Hot Cocoa inside.








Diy Monogrammed Cork Letters from Green is Universal. Now this is my kind of project. Corks and a glue gun. It doesn’t get more rainy day fun than this!

cork letters







Initial Necklaces by Design Dazzle. I love the modern, custom vibe of these letter necklaces. I think it would be cool to have a poem, sentiment, or even birth stats as the backdrop. Add a small white feather charm and a chunky chain to give it a more flair.

Dec 282011
post it calendar

Almost everyone has their calendars on their computers and phones these days. I am still a tad old fashion and always buy a new one for my office wall or desktop. I admit I don’t use them for the function as much as for the cool factor for décor and at a glance purposes. Here are a few of the calendars I either own, bought for someone or want to buy for 2012.  I also am a big fan of making my own iPhoto calendars on my Mac. If you own a Mac and haven’t made one yet, I highly encourage you too. It’s so simple and very inexpensive to make. Custom photo calendars are always a big hit with gift recipients too! (think grandma’s kitchen and hubbies office)


bubble wrap calendar















bubble wrap daily wall calendar (my personal favorite!)

Who doesn’t love popping bubble wrap? I bought this for someone as a gift. (she loved it so I’m told) Then I thought I can make these. Well, then I found it online fairly cheap and realized it wasn’t worth making unless you already have bubble pop laying around. I found this tutorial here but my disclaimer is I haven’t tried it myself.

paper airplane desk calendar








desktop paper airplane calendar

My dad got this for my son, a.k.a. his grandson, who loves paper airplanes. Make a different airplane everyday of 2012! Kinda cool…


perpetual calendar








perpetual calendar

This is truly perfect for trivia buffs. Simply rub each black box… The heat friction created from rubbing reveals an interesting factoid that happened on that date in history. Genius!


post it calendar







Who can’t make this crazy cool Post-it notes calendar? This is so me it’s almost sad. (don’t say a word bro-in-law…) The idea is to write your appointments and things to do on each daily note. When you’re done, toss it in the trash!

lego calendar









Lego calendar for the kid in you.


“I’ve been on a calendar, but I’ve never been on time.”
Marilyn Monroe
Dec 222011

hourglass wine glass










As an avid entertainer and shopper of unique gifts, I am really excited about my latest find that fits both categories perfectly.  These novel, but classy hourglass wine goblets would be appreciated by anyone who loves wine, game night, enjoys cooking or spending time with friends. That must be why I own them and love them so much!









Things to know:
  • The sand timer lasts ten minutes.
  • You must hand wash them.
  • They arrive in four colors of sand which is brilliant because this basically marks whose glass belongs to whom.
  • They are a very nice size and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality.
  • As a small side note, I adored the box they arrived in. It would be great for a man or woman while still being stylish. Small touches like that are important to me if I’m gifting them.
Other unique and different gifts I found for:
  • I use to belong to a diy wine club, which consisted of a few girlfriends getting together to whine, while drinking wine.  These would have been fabulous for us. Give the gift of starting your own girlfriends wine club and giftwrap each glass individually with your wine club invitation. (think: whine time)
  • No re-fills until the sand timer is over! (jk)
  • Let the wine breathe until sands are gone. According to Napanow.com, letting your wine breathe for five to ten minutes before drinking it will improve the wine in many cases.