Friday, November 2, 2012

Random Friday

1. Operation Christmas Child

        One of my favorite Christmas traditions that Tim and I began when we were first married is participating in Samaritan Purse's Operation Christmas Child program. Essentially, the program encourages people to pack shoeboxes full of toys, personal hygiene items, school supplies, and clothing items and then they ship them to children around the world. This year the nonprofit anticipates reaching the milestone of having passed out more than 100 million shoeboxes since the inception of the program in 1993. How amazing! I love shopping for Christmas presents in general and I really enjoy shopping for all sorts of little goodies to pack into our shoeboxes. Some of my favorite finds to include this year were cute water bottles, animal-shaped bath mitts instead of plain washcloths, jump ropes, and little wooden buses and trucks. I shopped for items at the Dollar Store and Walmart. I also highly recommend Target because they generally have a lot of great things in their dollar section this time of year. Unfortunately, we live an hour away from Target (I know, it's a travesty). Now that we have Owen, my plan is to continue this tradition with our children by having them pack a shoebox each year for a child their age and gender. So the first box we packed was a 2- to 4-year-old boy box (the youngest age group). We also packed a box for a 2- to 4-year-old girl and a 5- to 9-year-old boy. And then because my MOPS group is packing even more shoeboxes today, I have another shopping bag full of random extra items to help make up a few more boxes. Because we paid for the shipping for our three boxes online, we will receive tracking information in an e-mail once they are shipped and we can see what countries the boxes are shipped to. Once Owen and any future brothers or sisters are older, it might be fun to then research those countries a little. If you're interested in participating in Operation Christmas Child, you can still put together and turn in a box through the week of November 12-19. If you check the above link, you can find more instructions as well as local drop-off sites for your area. 

Here are the contents of our little girl box.
Here's our little boy box. 
Owen helped to "pack" a box for a boy his age.

2. Halo 4

       Because I am the best ever a pretty great wife, I headed over to Gamestop yesterday to pre-order Halo 4 for Tim. As a college student, I am pretty sure Tim played through all the previous Halos (well, except Halo Reach which came out the year after we got married) and I think he's pretty excited about this newest installment which will be released next Tuesday. I have enjoyed playing Halo over the years too and we have a really fun time playing through the cooperative campaign together. Tim also plays online multiplayer with friends across the country. It's a fun way for him to reconnect with old college roommates, former coworkers, and others that we don't see often. I, as a girl, am really excited about the story that will be told in this game, particularly that of the relationship between Master Chief and Cortana. Tim, I'm sure, is mainly excited about killing things. 

3. My little pumpkin

     Owen and I made Skinny Taste's Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pumpkin-Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting yesterday. The recipe is super easy and uses very few ingredients. Just a box of cake mix, canned pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, vanilla, cream cheese, and brown sugar. It doesn't use any eggs or oil and is actually fairly healthy (for a cupcake.) Owen helped me by stirring the batter and putting the paper liners in the muffin pan (over and over). We shared one after they finished baking and then I said "all done." Owen went off to play (I thought), but then just a minute later, I feel a little hand grab mine and plop another cupcake in it. Then he gave me a big grin and I laughed for about five minutes. He had reached up and grabbed it off the counter and was so proud of himself for finding more. How could I refuse him?
My little helper. 
Mine didn't turn out this pretty, but they were tasty!

4. Influenster Goodies.

     I was recently chosen for another free box of goodies from Influenster. The company allows you to fill out some information so they can find out more about your lifestyle and interests and then you are chosen based on qualifying criteria related to the information you provide to receive free items in exchange for your honest review of the products. I previously received the Summer Beauty VoxBox and this time I got the Palmolive Fresh Infusions box. I received three full-sized bottles (one to share with a friend) of Palmolive's new Fresh Infusions dish detergent. There are three scents: lemon thyme, ginger white tea, and lime basil. The box also included several coupons for me to hand out to friends. My favorite scent is the lime basil and I am really enjoying using it. You know, as much as you can enjoy anything that involves washing dishes. The scents are really fresh and unique though and a lot better than most dish detergents. Particularly that normal yucky fake lemon scent of most detergents. The bottles are also a lot prettier than typical dish detergent bottles and I don't mind leaving it on the counter for all to see.  If you would like to join Influenster, let me know as I have a limited number of invites to send out to anyone interested. 

5. Trader Joe's Finds.

    On the way out of town last weekend after my cousin's wedding, Tim and I stopped at Trader Joe's for a little shopping trip to stock up on some of their fall products. We bought spiced apple cider, pumpkin pancake and waffle mix, pumpkin bread and muffin mix, pumpkin butter, and apple cranberry butter. There were tons more pumpkin and other fall-flavored items that I would have loved to buy, but they all needed to be refrigerated or frozen. I have yet to use any of them so far because I know I can't replace them. They will probably be used for a special occasion or when we have company. If you have a Trader Joe's in your area, I highly recommend their pumpkin cheesecake. It's delicious! 

6. Bye bye baby. 

    My baby is getting so big. Now that the weather is firmly set in the fall weather temperatures and wind, I stored all of my favorite spring and summer outfits of Owen's away for future babies or friend's babies. It always makes me so sad when I have to put away a certain size because Owen outgrows it. I'm actually really lucky though because Owen was born in April and fits into the size that matches his age, he always gets to wear a certain size through a complete pair of seasons. By that I mean he wore 12-18 month all through spring and summer and will wear 18-24 month all fall and winter. So I don't have to buy him a certain season's clothing in two sizes. It's pretty awesome. And to make myself feel better about packing away some of my favorite outfits (I'm talking about you alligator seersucker shorts), I went on a shopping spree for Owen at Children's Place and Gymboree. Now he has several new pairs of jeans, a bunch of new tops, a couple new sweaters, an overalls outfit, and some new pajamas. 

7. Christmas Book Advent update

     We are making a lot of progress on collecting Christmas books for the advent activity that I want to do with Owen this year. You can see my most recent updated list of the books we have here. I have started giving credit on the blog to those who have graciously donated books to Owen for this Christmas. And I am happy to report that we are eight books away from having a total of 24. I most recently purchased three new books from the new website Bookworm. If you are in the market for some new books, I highly recommend this company. They have ridiculously fast shipping and their customer service is really helpful. When putting in my information, my books were accidentally shipped to our old address (2,000 miles away - oops!). When I discovered the error after I received an e-mail telling me that my books had shipped, I called the company and they reshipped new books to my current address no problem. They were great. I currently have three promo codes for Bookworm. Use BOOKSABOGO to buy one book and get one free or use the code BOOKWORM30 to receive 30 percent off up to three books in your first order from the company. If you use my unique code JESS833854, you can receive 15 percent off your entire order and the company will donate up to $45 to an assortment of charities.  

8. November Julep picks. 

    My November pick for my monthly Julep Maven box should hopefully be shipping any day now. This month's theme was suede nail polishes, which have a unique matte look. I chose the It Girl box, which included Nora (silver aubergine suede), Hailee (khaki green suede), and a matte topcoat. I also added on an additional color: Minka (copper red suede). I was able to receive all my items for free using my referral and rewards credits (now called jules). The new program rewards you for purchases in addition to referrals so there are now more ways to earn free products. If you're interested in trying the program, click my referral link of the righthand side of my blog to head over to the Julep website and sign up. Use the code COLOR2012 to get your first box for a penny. 


  1. Got my Julep box yesterday! I picked the Maven's choice box which had Trina (shimmery dark purple), the matte top coat, and this awesome body scrub, scrubby mitt and small towel. Hope your box comes soon! :)


  2. I love that book program, I must look into that for Aiden! He is so into reading books right now, or at least trying to. I can't wait to make those pumpkin muffins either, I've had the recipe on my counter for awhile and I just need to get going and try them! YUM!