Sweet & Salty with Uncommon Goods

Sweet & Salty with Uncommon Goods

One of my favorite places to shop online has been Uncommon Goods. For years, I’ve gotten giddy-excited when a catalog showed up in my mailbox and have spent way too much time perusing their various gift guides on their website. I’ve teamed up with Uncommon Goods to share some fun gift ideas for upcoming occasions.

When they sent me the most amazing necklace set – The Sweet & Salty Necklace Set for Friends – I knew exactly who one of the necklaces was going to. (note: I was given the necklace, but opinions and thoughts are my own)

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They’re the most charming pieces by designer Elizabeth Suda, made from “Vietnam War–era plane parts and bombs, metal that was fairly traded and honed into delicate jewelry, clearing Laos farmland of war debris and serving as a sweet reminder of friendship in the process.”

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Yesterday, I met Karen and her family at The Varsity. I’d been pondering which of us would get “Sweet” and which would get “Salty” since we’re both a little bit, well, sweet AND salty! So without looking at them, I placed them on the table (where I had just devoured a cheese Dog, onion rings, a frosted orange, and a peach pie.) (what? it’s the holidays.) and on 3, we each touched the one we felt was supposed to be ours.

Luckily, we chose different ones!

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So now, officially, I’m “Sweet” and Karen is “Salty.” As it should be, I believe!

I can honestly say, as a jeweler’s daughter who has seen a lot of friendship jewelry come and go over the years, this is the most fun one yet!

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Uncommon Goods, on top of offering the most hilarious, perfect, and perfectly ridiculous gifts, is actually a company committed to Good. They believe that sustainability starts with integrity in everything they do, both inside the company and outside. Their work with artists and small manufacturers allows them to know their products are thoughtful and made in responsible manners. In fact, everything about their mission makes me want to work for them!

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Christmas may be over, but you know what? There are occasions coming up, y’all. And Uncommon Goods has something for every. single. one. of them. One stop shop and all that!

I popped over to a few of the gift guides they have set up and found some favorites.

Valentine’s Day is soon. I mean, let’s get real, they’ve had Valentine’s candy out in the grocery store for two weeks now. It’s time to think about what you’ll be getting that special someone.

I do have a special someone I’ll be buying for this year, so looking through the Valentine’s Day list, I found a few things that caught my eye.

The Travel Stub Diary

The Travel Stub Diary for remembering our fun little visits to museums, shows, and other fun places!

I popped over to the “Gifts For Boyfriends and Guys” guide and found some other fun things!

Eye Glasses Holder

Eye Glasses Holder – For the Four Eyes in your life who always loses his (or her) glasses.

Driftwood iPhone Charging Dock

Driftwood iPhone Charging Dock – Who doesn’t need a charging dock that is made of driftwood?

And then there’s my favorite collection ever… the Jewelry!

As a jeweler’s daughter, I’m a little funny about my jewelry. Everything I own, means something to me. That’s why I love Uncommon Goods and their selection so much. Everything has a story.

Here are some favorites (in case anyone is wondering what to get me).

Sterling Silver Wings Bangle  "She took the leap and built her wings on the way down"

Sterling Silver Wings Bangle
“She took the leap and built her wings on the way down”

I can’t wait to regroup and get my mind focused on the next occasions and shop myself silly!

What would YOU buy from Uncommon Goods for someone on your list (or yourself)?

Lounging at the Heat Lounge

Lounging at the Heat Lounge

I don’t pamper myself. Heck, I don’t even maintain myself well. I don’t pedicure or manicure or even regular get haircuts. I just… I just don’t. My husband jokes that I missed a few classes in “Girl School.”

When I was asked if I’d like to come enjoy services at a new blowdry lounge in Dunwoody, of course I jumped. My hair has gotten so long and if you know me, you know it’s thick, full of body, and just kinda does its own thing. It’s much easier to just throw it in a ponytail or top knot and go. In other words, I’ve gotten lazy. (No, you’re not lazy if you do those things, but I honestly have gotten that way.”

The idea of somebody just washing my hair and blowdrying it out smooth and silky, though, made me happy.

I wasn’t expecting the fabulousness of the place.

Heat Lounge is in Dunwoody, on Peachtree Dunwoody in the shops across from Home Depot. When you walk in, you’re immediately taken by the beauty of the space. The orange splashes, the Moroccan tile floor, the beautiful wooden bar (yes, BAR), and the comfy looking chairs. They spared no expense decorating and thinking through the design, which made me feel instantly in love.

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The blowout salon features products by Moroccan Oil and MICA products, which are 100% mineral makeup. They use them exclusively during their hair and makeup services and they’re available for purchase, as well.

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I was greeted by Brittany and asked first (and foremost) whether I’d like some wine, champagne, water, or something from their cappuccino bar. It was only 10:00 in the morning, so cappuccino would be the obvious choice, but it was a holiday weekend and, well…

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Brittany asked how I’d like for my hair to be. Honestly, I didn’t know. I told her just to do something pretty and simple. She went with the sweet and soft, I think. It would be blown out and given a little curl at the end.

She took me back for a wash and scalp massage. I could have stayed right there all day long if it’d been possible. But it would have certainly been hard to drink my wine laying back in the chair.

IMG_8301When Brittany was doing my hair, she made me face away from the mirror which was actually awkward at first. But once I had about half a glass of wine, it wasn’t so awkward and made me kind of excited to see the big reveal when she was done!

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Unlike a salon, where I normally feel like the stylist is rushing through the blowdry and styling process to get to their next client, she seemed to really take her time. I felt like I was truly being pampered instead of just shuffled in and out.

Finally she was done. And right in time… my glass of wine was empty! She turned me around and my hair was flat, smooth, silky with a little flip at the end! It was perfect!

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Because Heat Lounge is so new, they gave me a quick tour of the place.

Heat Lounge is able to accommodate small parties (bachelorette, wedding, girls night out, birthday, etc) in a private lounge room. It’s beautifully decorated and fully functional inside the closed doors. There is a chair for facials, blowouts, makeup, and even a sofa for your friends to lounge around and sip on their champagne.

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Out in the main room, there is a row of makeup stations. Everything is neatly organized yet inviting – unlike some places you go that seem “off limits.”

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For the new year, I decided I was going to treat myself right. This will include regular trips to the Heat Lounge for services, including facials and blowouts. I’m planning to cut my hair short, so this should help me maintain it without too much drama and desire to grow it out and throw it back in a ponytail!

To find and connect with Heat Lounge
to make an appointment or get more information:
Facebook
Twitter
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Website
 
Disclosure: I was provided services at Heat Lounge in Dunwoody in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. 

 

 

It Was Like My Childhood, Only WAY Cooler

It Was Like My Childhood, Only WAY Cooler

We’re car people. That’s no secret to anyone who has been to our house. Right now, we have four cars in our driveway – though none of them domestic.

So when I got an email about test driving a GM vehicle for a week, I kinda went, “meh.” But that was mostly because I haven’t driven a domestic vehicle since our 1997 Tahoe and my 1990 Cavalier. Both had AMAZING air conditioning systems which, hello, the US wins that category hands-down!

We knew we were headed to Disney and the timing would be perfect for test driving a car of our choice. Last Wednesday, a 2014 Chevrolet Impala was delivered to my house. When I saw it, my head spun off! This car is FANCY, y’all!

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I played around in it for a little while before packing up to head to Disney at the crazy hour of 3am. I could see my Volvo SUV in the garage frowning with sadness as I kept saying, “Wow! Whoa! OHMYGOSH there’s another USB port and cup holder!”

Once I picked Henry up, he immediately started begging to bring his computer with him. I kept telling him no, but apparently he’d done some back seat research and found out my argument that the battery won’t last long was null and void. Because there’s a real outlet back there!

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We had a fun time on the drive down finding out about its features: rear cameras, MyLink (compatible with iPhones), collision alerts, blind spot alerts, OnStar (we didn’t have to test this out, thank goodness). We were in awe at the gas mileage – only having to stop about 30 miles outside of Orlando after driving nearly 450 miles.

The Impala held the road and had a tight handle. Really, it was delightful!

On the drive down, Jason and I were discussing cars from our childhood. It hit me then that the first car I remember my parents having was a 1975 Impala with a Landau roof. It was red with a white roof and had a back seat that went on for miles and miles. This 2014 version had a back seat that went on for miles and miles, too. In fact, it boasts 39.8 inches of legroom. HOLY. COW. My 6’5″ boss could sit back there, I think!

The drive home felt long. Naps were had and it was discovered that the front seat lays flat. Nice touch! Combine that with the air conditioned seats and you’ve got a good thing.

Once we were home, Atlanta got a blast of icy air. The next morning on the drive to work, I had to use the heated seat option. AND the heated steering wheel option. Both were a nice treat. My tooshie was happy and my joints in my hands were even happier!

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We had to say goodbye to the car. But I’ve gotta say, if I were in the market for a car (that wasn’t paid off already and sitting in my driveway), this would definitely be on the short list. With a family of 3, a sedan like this, that is huge but looks and feels more compact, would be perfect. And the options it boasts definitely makes it attractive to the tech-needing me.

Specifications:

  • 3.6L direct-injection V-6 with 6 speed automatic transmission
  • 305 HP (@6800 RPM)
  • 264 lb-ft (@5300 RPM)
  • 19 mpg city, 29 mpg highway
  • 18.8 cubic feet of cargo room
  • MyLink, OnStar
  • Rear park assist
  • Collision mitigation braking
  • A million other things!!

I told my parents they needed to get one. It would be like a throwback to the olden days of 1975, only WAY cooler!

Disclaimer: I was chosen to be part of a GM test drive program and was loaned a car to drive for a week. All opinions are mine and I was not compensated in any way other than to not have to put wear and tear on my car during our trip to Disney. 

 

Desserts and Drinks and Friends, Oh My!

Desserts and Drinks and Friends, Oh My!

Thanks to Duncan Hines for sponsoring my writing. There’s no limit to the baking possibilities, so grab your favorite Duncan Hines mix and Comstock or Wilderness fruit fillings and Bake On! www.duncanhines.com.

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Oh, the holidays! Entertaining and sharing food and gifts with friends is one of my favorite things to do.

Before we moved to Atlanta, we had a (if I may say so myself) pretty rockin’ Christmas party every year. We would fill the house with 20-40 of our friends and eat, drink and be merry for several hours.

I would go all out on the food and drinks, but the desserts were really everybody’s favorites. The first year I made one of my all-time favorite desserts: Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake. With my best friend’s husband being a pecan farmer, we manage to squeeze pecans into just about anything we can! This dessert is fabulous with a cup of coffee with a dash of kahlua.

Another fan favorite are my date nut balls. Most people call them date balls but it’s more fun to say date nut balls. They get gobbled up faster than a jackrabbit on a date! Milk really is the perfect beverage pairing to go with these.

Image: Johnson Cameraface, via Flickr Creative Commons License

Some of my favorite desserts to serve in casual get-togethers are simple like angel food cake or white cake and mixed fresh fruit, with a dollop of whipped cream of course, or mini cupcakes with a small amount of icing and a fresh strawberry on top.

I’ll be honest. I don’t love baking, but these are all items I’m comfortable making that I KNOW will turn out acceptable to present to company. My friends love them. They’re tried and true and have turned into my signature desserts.

Now go out there and make something delicious. Make it over and over and make it YOUR signature dessert!

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Remember to check out Duncan Hines’ website www.duncanhines.com to find some great recipes for your holiday get-together! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.

Teaching The Hard Stuff: Introducing Fred The Fox *Update with Winner*

Teaching The Hard Stuff: Introducing Fred The Fox *Update with Winner*

Two weeks ago, a post came up in my reader that caught my attention. Scary Mommy had a guest post about a situation involving a six year old being asked by an older boy to touch his privates. This post scared me. It scared me enough that I posted it on Facebook. It opened up a great dialogue about this and about how young it seems like we have to talk about these things with our kids.

I’d like to state up front that I really feel like, thankfully, I grew up in a bubble. I didn’t know that things like this happened to people. The older I got, the more I realized that there were people in the world who did things like this. And now, working daily on Band Back Together, I realize how fortunate I am that sexual abuse has never touched my life — as a child or as an adult.

Just the night before this post was put up, Jason had to go through the Cub Scout Handbook with Henry. In the front is a section of topics to discuss with your son to help them learn what to do in situations such as the following:

  • What if you are playing on the playground and an adult comes up to you and asks you to help find his or her lost puppy? What do you do?
  • What if you are in a public restroom and someone tries to touch your private parts? What do you do?
  • What if you are playing at a friend’s house and his older brother and some of his friends invite you to join a club? To join the club you have to take off all your clothes and wrestle with them. Your friend wants to join. What do you do?
I’ll be honest. I was listening to the conversation Jason and Henry were having and I was panicky. There were about a dozen more questions and situations that go even deeper into detail than those. I was panicky because my child who loves to please others didn’t know the answers to these questions.

I was panicky because OMG my baby shouldn’t have to know about these things — there shouldn’t be people who do this in the world. It’s just not right.

But that’s not the case. There are bad people in the world and all we can do as parents is teach our kids right and wrong and empower them to know the difference and stand up for themselves.

The timing of the introduction by my friend Amy to the author of Fred The Fox Shouts “NO!” was perfect.

Tatiana K. Matthews is the author of the wonderful book Fred The Fox Shouts “NO!” and as it turns out, she lives right around the corner from me in Dunwoody, as does the very talented illustrator of the book, Allison Fears. Tatiana dropped off a book for me the other day to read to Henry. All I can say is that HE LOVED IT!

After the initial embarrassed-boy, sheepish look when talking about “privates,” he warmed up to it. Probably because the book is simple, to the point and the best part? You get to SCREAM!

Every time Fred The Fox’s parent asks a question, Fred answers and then YOU have to answer out loud. BY SCREAMING! It’s so much fun to read and gets the sillies out before bed.

The message is simple and to the point. The book is repetitive which is ideal for children of this age. Reading the book often is how the message and lessons will resonate the best with them.

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I asked Tatiana to answer some questions for me to give you a better insight into why she decided to write a book like this and a little more about how and when to talk to your children about these sensitive subjects.

What was your reason behind writing this book? And why a family of foxes? 

The book was inspired by my own experience as a mental professional. Time and time again I saw clients who had been victims of sexual abuse at the hands of family, friends and acquaintances. However, the focus of many resources are not heavily centered on safety with people you know and trust.

I chose the family of foxes because I knew that the story could not be threatening. We would have to use animals to soften the edges of this very serious subject. I knew that a child like, but soft and fuzzy character would do the trick. I also wanted the animal to have a den to represent the importance of family and the culture of the home.

How early should we be talking to our children about sexual abuse? What ages do you recommend Fred The Fox Shouts “NO” for? 

Sexual abuse prevention starts at birth. Identifying a child’s private areas by their anatomically correct names sets the stage. Teaching a child that allows you to remind them that those areas are private. Having that conversation while you are changing diapers and modeling behavior that reflects you respect your child’s right to privacy and personal boundaries.

Fred the Fox is appropriate for any child that can sit for a story up to at least age 10.

If I talk to my child about this, he will want to know about sex and I’m not ready for my 6 year old to know all that. How do I put off the sex talk until he’s older? 

Introducing the concepts of privacy, personal rights and the power of ones voice, does not mean you will end up talking about sex. If a child has a question about sex that is generated from this conversation, answer the question in a concise manner. Never answer more than what is asked. Too many words can cause you to lose the message.

If a child asks a question that would leave you to believe they have more knowledge of sex than developmentally appropriate, you will need to gently investigate how they gathered that knowledge. That advanced knowledge can be a red flag that a child had been sexually abused.

Is the problem of sexual abuse of children getting better? Or is it worse than ever? 

There are conflicting studies regarding the rise or decline of child sexual abuse. Some studies say acts of sexual abuse are on the decline, but sexual abuse involving technology are on the rise.

Do you have plans for other books about other tough-to-talk-about subjects? 

We do not currently have plans for another book at this time, but we have some very exciting ideas in hopes that we will reduce the occurrences of sexual abuse.

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Fred The Fox Shouts “NO!” was featured in the AJC last week. The story opened with the most frightening statistics:

  • One in four girls and one in six boys nationally will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday, according to the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy.
  • Of those, less than 10 percent will ever tell, even though they know their offender 90 percent of the time.
Do you think it’s time to talk to YOUR kids about good touch and bad touch? I think so…

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Congratulations to Law Momma for winning the copy of Fred The Fox Shouts “NO!” I’ll be shooting you an email!

Anyone who wants to buy a copy can get one here!

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