Archive for the 'Gift Ideas' Category

Watercolor Gargoyles and Ivy

I’ve been keeping a secret for months now.

In my watercolor class, I painted two gargoyles. I’d chosen two of my husband’s favorites, and I was thrilled with the results. (How many gargoyles do we have here? I thought I’d counted all of them when I was doing this project, but then I found another one the other day that I’d missed! It’s a good thing I’m not the one responsible for feeding them.)

I was able to sneak away and get my artwork framed for him for the holidays unbeknownst to him. I’ve had them secreted away in my office closet ever since.

He was thrilled, and they look great!

Gargoyles and Ivy Watercolor

For now, they’re on the mantle, to keep them out of harm’s way, and I’m really happy with how they turned out.

Gargoyle Left

Close-up of the left one.

Gargoyl Right

Close-up of the right one.

Click each photo for more detail.


One of my gifts this holiday season was a Nook!  If you don’t know, a Nook is Barnes & Noble’s answer to Amaz0n’s Kindle, both of which are eReaders for reading electronic versions of books.  I’m sure the Kindle is great, too, but for reasons we won’t get into, we’d rather support Barnes & Noble than Amaz0n, plus, my hubby wants to get the Nook Tablet eventually, and the sharing capabilities led us in this direction.

I wasn’t sure if I’d like it.  I mean, I look at screens all day.  My reading time is a break for my eyes from the electronic stimulus.

My hubby assured me that he’d heard great things about the “screen” and the “ink” used and that I’d be impressed.  He even said there’s be no glare, so I could read outside if I wanted.

Also, the Nook came for free on Eva, and due to her screen size and the speed at which I read, I was too distracted by all the scrolling than I was with following the story.  Would I like the way the Nook felt when I “turned pages” with a swipe of my finger?

Bottom line?  I love it.  I’m carrying around 1431 pages of a trilogy I’ve been dying to finish, and it’s smaller than a paperback!  The screen looks just like a paperback page to me.  It doesn’t seem like I’m looking at a “screen” at all.  In fact, I was so engrossed one evening that I accidentally turned my little Nook completely over while trying to turn to the next page.  Ooops!

Despite that little blip, “turning pages” comes naturally to me on this device, and I love it!

When I’m done with this trilogy, I can download my next adventure directly to my Nook with a click of a button.

Then again, time will tell if this is really a good thing or not.  😉

The Puzzle Globe

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3 540

Almost halfway...

Taking Shape...150 pieces left

Only the tricky pieces are left...


The Perfect Birthday Party Idea for a Six Year Old

If you ask Claire what the theme of her party was this year, she’ll say, “Rosetta!”

But, the truth?

It was Run-Around-Like-A-Crazyperson Theme, with a brand new Rosetta doll making an appearance by the cake and on the Birthday Memory Book.

We had Claire’s party at The Little Gym, where the kids played solid for over an hour (with cool mixture of directed activity and free-play) before being sugared-up with an ice cream cake.

My favorite quote of the party?

A little boy took a bite of the ice cream cake and said with complete amazement, “WOW! THIS CAKE TASTES JUST LIKE ICE CREAM!”


After the ice cream cake, the kids formed a pyramid for me to take photos…

(I always use a group photo as a Thank You Card…it’s a great way to send people a little memento of the party AND an easy way to stay on top of the Thank You process.)

…and then they had a little more free-play before the party came to an end.

This was a Run-Around-Like-A-Crazyperson Theme, after all.

As party favors, we handed out some handwoven bracelets we’d purchased in Mexico, and the kiddos got to take home a balloon.

This year, in stead of gifts, Claire decided she wanted all of her friends to make her a picture. I thought this was a fabulous idea!!

I made a Memory Book for the pictures, and compiled it last night after the party. She has spent so much time looking over each masterpiece and truly cherishes each and every one. Speaking of the artwork, they ARE masterpieces. You can tell each person put so much into his or her picture for Claire, and the smile on Claire’s face when she looks at each one almost brings tears to my eyes.

Getting to run around like a crazyperson AND receiving a treasure like this? It’s the Perfect Birthday Party Theme for our six year old.


Glenda has officially retired! Welcome Eva!

In June of 2009, I dipped my toe into the SmartPhone pool and have never looked back. Glenda was a welcomed addition to our family. She was a BlackBerry, and I loved her.

As if naming her and personifying her isn’t the first clue.

She’s never let me down. She was a great introduction into the SmartPhone world.

But, June 2009 was a long time ago. In technology years, Glenda has reached retirement age. Because she IS such a smart phone, as soon as I started researching other options, she started twitching every now and then. When she realized her actions were backfiring and it made me research even MORE, she started acting like a perfect little angel almost all the time.

Still, I could tell it was time.

I’ve wanted an HTC EVO since the day I saw one last year. I even put my name on the wait list at the local Sprint Store and they called me! But, I wasn’t ready for the switch, so I let mine go to the next lucky person in line.

Fast forward to my birthday. Daddy and Claire had cooked up a plan, and Claire was going to give me a new phone for my birthday!

Originally, Claire was very distressed at the mere possibility of letting Glenda go. She was distraught. This way, she got used to the idea of Glenda retiring and someone else taking her spot.

I think the resemblance is uncanny.

Meet Eva.

She’s an EVO.

She also looks like EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) on WALL-E, and he pronounces her name, “Eeeee-vuh,” so that’s why we’ve spelled it with an ‘a.’

She’s not Glenda, but she’s awesome.

So, I’ve got my very first Droid for my 37th birthday. I wonder how old Luke Skywalker was when he got his? 😉

Fred the Garden Gnome

We love garden gnomes. We have one in the back yard, and he’s seen better days. I don’t remember how it happened, but the poor little guy has broken a foot. His disability is hidden by the woodchips, and he has a stake that keeps him propped up.

We’ve been on the lookout for a new one, but we just haven’t found one we like yet.

Well, imagine my delight when I got the monthly newsletter from our local pottery painting place, and they announced that they have garden gnomes!

This was going to coincide nicely with Daddy’s birthday, so Claire and I put our plan in place.

We conducted our plan in total secrecy, and Claire nearly burst from all the excitement, but she didn’t spill the beans!  She kept the secret!

We picked out our gnome and got the paint all ready. Claire wrote her name on the table, to make everything official.

We started out with a sponge, but switched to paint brushes. (By the time we did that, I had Glenda safely put away so as not to get paint on her.)

Claire and I painted for two and a half hours, and we worked great as a team!  Yes, I said we painted for two and a half hours!  It was a long process, but one we both thoroughly enjoyed!

When I was painting on some of the detail work, Claire used the paint on our palettes to create her own little picture for the owner of the store. (You can see our garden gnome and Claire’s other handy work on the table.)  I mean, when you’re 4-years old, 2.5 hours is a long time to sit still…but this kept her preoccupied.

I told Claire she could name him, and she decided that “Fred” was the perfect name for Daddy’s Birthday Garden Gnome.

As you can see above, Fred the Garden Gnome turned out really well!  We finished painting, and he posed for a photo, waving to us amidst all the painting aftermath.

…then we had to wait for him to be fired. I hope he can support his family without a job. Ha. Just kidding. Couldn’t resist.

Well, after a week had passed, Fred was ready!  We picked him up today, and it’s really cool to see him all shiny!  The Birthday Boy is thrilled!  Claire and I were so excited to see how Fred turned out, and none of us were disappointed!

Daddy says he looks too nice to put outside, so we’ll just have to see where Fred ends up!

I asked the mirror on the wall…

We hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Cheaper Than Therapy

Alternate title: @casualperfect paints a piece of @casualperfect pottery

casualperfect mug 5On November 20th, I organized a get together with some friends at a local paint-your-own-pottery place. I’ve been there before, more than once, and they were going to have later hours in honor of Twilight’s New Moon movie on that particular Friday night. The later hours made it perfect for our monthly Moms Night Out event with my MOMS Club.

I’m not into Twilight, but I am into painting pottery.  I love it.  I could do it every day, if given a chance.  I’m not into vampires, but I couldn’t make fun of the people who painted pottery in honor of Twilight…especially since I put my twitter name on my mug.

I mean, both Pot and Kettle were sitting at my table, so I had to be nice.

casualperfect mug 1

casualperfect mug 2

casualperfect mug 3

casualperfect mug 4

I love how it turned out!Spiral Plate

I love the plate I painted there (it was the first piece I’ve done there!), and I wrote down the numbers of my glazes, because I knew I’d be adding to my collection eventually.  There are so many colors to choose from, and I knew I’d never remember the exact numbers.

See?  It matches!  The differences in the backgrounds make them look slightly different, but the colors are the same.  Trust me.  The Perfectionist is SO glad I remembered my glaze numbers, and the Casual is SO glad she doesn’t have to listen to the Perfectionist complain.  It’s a win-win situation!

I wonder what I’ll make next time?

Confessions of a Casual Perfectionist: Day 29

nablo1109.120x90It’s NaBloPoMo Day 29!

Today’s confession: I have a really cool process that combines a fun photo of the party with a Thank You Card.  It works like a charm!

Yes, we already have Claire’s Party Thank You cards done, but it’s not really my fault. Don’t blame the perfectionist; blame Target Photo’s One-Hour service.

I’m a firm believer in Thank You Cards. I love writing them, and I love receiving them. I think it’s so important to remember to show our gratitude, and getting a real card in the mail makes me feel special, so I always try to reciprocate. (Yes, we thank people in person, but there is an added bonus to doing a “real” Thank You Card, in my humble opinion.)

We had Claire’s 4th Birthday Party with a few select friends at the local Build-a-Bear Place today. We took a cute photo of the group, and when we got home, I uploaded it and she helped me pick out a cute Thank You Photo Card from their online photo card selection.

I got it all arranged, and got it set to print, and I chose the “pickup at the store” option. It really was done in less than an hour, so I went to pick them up. I mean, once I’m on a roll, why stop?

They’re addressed, stamped, and beautifully artworked by Claire.

The Perfectionist Part is SO glad to have it done. The Casual Part is SO glad the process was easy and painless. Plus, now my friends will think I’m either super-organized or a touch insane or both.

Not that there’s anything wrong with either one of those diagnoses.

No, I haven’t listened to my cassette tapes in years.

At the beginning of February, one of my favorite bloggers ran a little contest.  Those who commented were put in a drawing to win an iPod shuffle™.

Well, imagine my surprise when I found out that I won!!

I know some may find this hard to believe, but previous to this, I didn’t have a portable mp3 player.  Between the two of us, my hubby and I have thousands of songs that he painstakingly converted from our CDs to mp3s.  He has our computer iTunes™ set up so that our music will play on the stereo system out in the living room.  And, as hard as it is to believe that music lovers such as ourselves could go without, my hubby and I never jumped on the iPod bandwagon.  We would have loved to have one, but it was always in the Want Column, and never in the Need one.

Last year, my hubby won an iPod Touch™ at a conference, and he was thrilled.  And, now, with this stroke of good luck, I’m the proud owner of my very own iPod, too!

My iPod arrived on Friday!

My iPod arrived on Friday!

Click to enlarge.

And, imagine my surprise when I saw that Nicole had it engraved!  What an awesome idea!  How cool is that?!

I could pick whatever color I wanted, and yes, I chose hot pink.  It’s sassy, and I love it.  Plus, this way, my hubby won’t be tempted to steal it.  I hadn’t figured in how much Claire would love the color when I made my choice, so I’ll still have to keep an eye on it!

So, Nicole…thank you so much!  Now, I have no excuse to not fully join this century when it comes to listening to my tunes!  This totally made my day, and I can’t wait to fill it up with all my favorite songs.