5 Favorite Gifts That Bring Joy

The joy of gift-giving has endless possibilities. If I am being totally honest here, I recycle gifts all the time! No, it doesn’t mean I take unwanted gifts or used gifts and “gift” them to some unsuspecting friend or family member. It means, I have realized that I have My 5 Favorite Gifts that I always seem to buy for multiple people throughout the year! No matter the age, budget or occasion, these gifts always seem to be hit for those on the receiving end. The brand or choice of item might change slightly depending on whom it is for, but for the most part the concept of my 5 favorite gifts remain the same.

My 5 Favorite Gifts That Bring Joy To All
Books/journals
Tea/Coffee with a cute mug
Beauty & wellness products
Slippers or cozy socks
Food gift sets

Using these 5 gift ideas as a base for my holiday shopping, I found some wicked cute items and great products. Not only did I buy them for myself, but I can not wait to gift them to those I love. No matter the age or budget, you can find these items for just about anyone on your list! I love to shop for my family. However, when I am happy with the product personally I am even more excited to buy it for someone else! Spread the love, right? Below are the products I am gifting this year!

Forks, Knives and Spoons By Leah DeCesare
This book is insanely funny and I was so lucky to receive a copy from the author herself and fellow Rhody Blogger. First, where was this book when I was in college? It could have saved me from myself and from many player forks. If I am being honest, it is almost 400 pages, about 200 pages longer than most books I like to read, but it was such a good one that I really didn’t mind the extra pages. It is light, yet emotional. Funny, yet serious. And the analogy of branding utensils to certain types of men is really ingenious that I often say, why didn’t I think of that? This book is on my list for all my college graduates and those friends who are just starting out in the dating world or newly married! If you want to check out this book or more from Leah DeCesare you can do so on her Amazon author page and follow her on Facebook.Pukka Tea & Yoga Expression Mugs
I am no stranger to tea and cute mugs. I have way too many of both, but they always seem to get into my cart even when I am not in the market for either of them. I recently was introduced to Pukka tea at The Well Summit that I attended last month. I instantly fell in love with their mission and their quality of ingredients. Organic, fair trade and ethically harvested herbs are just some of the reasons this brand is my new favorite! Their blends of teas are unique and taste even better, this I promise. I am pairing two fun mugs that I recently scored at Home Goods with a box of Pukka Love Tea for a great hostess gift for an upcoming party!Calm-A-Mama Flower Remedies
Wellness is so important to me. Caring for my body in the most natural way possible is always something that I hold in high regard. With so many products on the market, I was so grateful to discover Calm-A-Mama about 18 months ago. The power of the flower is as natural as you can get. These drops are a blend of flower essences and an herbal water extract, or hydrosol. The herbs work on your physical body, while the flower essences support you emotionally. They use all USDA organic, non-GMO and pesticide-free herbs and all their blends are alcohol free! The sleep & immune drops are my favorite and I can not wait to gift this to all my friends! If you want to learn more about these drops and other blends, you can visit the website here.
Trader Joes Rainbow of Honey
I love to give food sets to foodies, especially out of the box items like the Rainbow of Honey from Trader Joes. Sure, you see spices and sauces and even baked goods in a jar, but nothing is sweeter (IMO) than a literal pot of gold in a rainbow of colors! The flavors vary based on where they come from and I’ve tasted all of them and each one stands out for different reasons. Some are sweet, some are floral and some a bit more nutty. Regardless, you can use these jars of honey for so many reasons! My favorite way to indulge is some mimosa honey over brie with a side of grapes! Have a Trader Joes near you, get there and snag one of these sets for you and a friend!Victoria’s Secret Pom Pom Slippers 
Chances are if you are like me, the idea of spending my own money on socks & slippers doesn’t make me thrilled. I mean, the stuff goes on your feet and no-one sees it anyway? However, when I get my feet all cozy into some fluffy socks or slippers I instantly feel better. There is nothing better than relaxing on the couch on a cold winter day with a pair of cute slippers, a good book, some tea and a yummy snack. See what I did there? These pom pom slippers from Victoria’s Secret are so cute and trendy that anyone would love to open a pair of these this holiday. I might have grabbed a few extra pairs for myself as well!As you can see, I can take My 5 Favorite Gifts and can spin them in many ways that bring joy to all the people in my life! Do you find yourself recycling some of the same things to other people because you love them so? When you find something good, why not stick with it and spread the joy to others in the process.

Happy Gifting & Happy Holidays~
Joy

DIY December Bucket List

December. The holidays. The events. The parties. The traditions. There is so much to be mindful of this month because before you know it, the month is over and we are left wanting to do some things we inevitably missed during this magical season! I have just the thing to get you in the spirit, spend some quality time as a family and help you plan what matters most to you this month! For under $15, you can create your own December Bucket List, DIY style! This will help you prioritize the special events & traditions you don’t want to miss as well as make a nice decoration you can use year after year!

The supply list is simple to find items and can be customized depending on budget and desires:

Photo Frame
White computer paper
Sharpies (or markers in any color you want)
Paint/brushes (any color you want)
Sticker or embellishments (holiday/winter themed)
Glitter glue or loose glitter
Ribbon
Hot glue gun or tape

You probably read the list of supplies and thought to yourself that you have most of them already at home! Chances are if you have kids or are a habitual crafter like me, you have at least 50% of them stashed somewhere! The next step is really up to you. Paint the frame any which color you want and in any style you wish. Add as much or little embellishments and stickers to the frame as you crave. Skip the glitter or go crazy!  This is you time to be as creative as you want!  My son really was very symmetrical with his design, but there is no right or wrong way to use your imagination. A December Bucket List your way is the best way!

The last step was in my opinion the most fun! We thought of 12 things (sticking with the 12 days of Christmas theme we all know & love) to add to our DECEMBER BUCKET LIST. We cut a piece of computer paper to fit inside the frame before we started. We started reminiscing about all the things we like to do, things we wished we did, things we never wanted to do etc.. We started jotting them down on the scrap paper we just cut from. This helped us narrow it down to the items we knew needed to included and those that did not.

We were so excited to start our list that after we made it, we went out and completed 2 and started a few more! The holiday movie one is an activity that we have been working on since Thanksgiving so thankfully we have a nice head start! Each year I will scrapbook the list with some photographs of the activities listed. Then we will rewrite one every year on Thanksgiving when we decorate the tree. A new tradition is born!  What are some of your not-to-miss bucket list items for the month of December? Let me know what activities you are going to put on your December Bucket List by commenting below!

Merry Holidays~
Joy

Food For Thought: We Share Hope Fundraiser

Chances are if you are from my neck of the woods (Rhode Island to be exact), you have been to Seven Stars Bakery. Their bakery items are flaky, delicious and downright addicting. I love their scones! Doesn’t matter which flavor, they are all my favorite! Seven Stars Bakery is more than a business. It is a community. They are committed to those who live, work and play in this little state. That is why on January 2nd 2017, they are having a fundraiser for We Share Hope, a non-profit food rescue that brings food to those in need all over Rhode Island.

We Share Hope is a non-profit food rescue run by 100% volunteers that share their time, talent and resources to help those in need. WSH supports over 30 communities at over 80 locations in Rhode Island getting food to food pantries, section 8 housing, homeless shelters, churches, military housing, children’s recreation centers, soup kitchens and more.

we share hope

Why January 2nd? Well, January 2nd, 2017 happens to be Seven Stars Bakery 16th Anniversary! What better way to say “THANK YOU” for keeping them in business all these years by giving back to the community. 100% of the proceeds from all three of their locations will go directly to We Share Hope. You heard it correctly, 100% from ALL three locations. Every $1.00 donated = $63 worth of food for those in need. Think about how many families they can feed? How generous is Seven Stars Bakery? This is why they are a local favorite. They offer amazing products with amazing service and have a generous spirit behind them.

How You Can Help
Visit one of their three locations January 2nd 6:30am-6pm

820 Hope Street, Providence
342 Broadway, Providence
Rumford Ctr, East Providence

If you don’t find yourself in the neighborhood to purchase a delicious treat or cup of coffee, consider donating directly to We Share Hope through this donation link. Remember, every $1.00 donated is worth a great deal of food for someone in need! I know I will be heading to Providence tomorrow to grab myself a scone (or three) and knowing I helped make a difference right here in my community.

Happy New Year & Namaste~
Joy

Operation Gratitude & The Halloween Candy Buyback: A Sweet Way To Say You Care!

Halloween is over! Our houses are filled with mounds of sugary treats and kids are starting the trades with their friends. Chances are, your kids gathered enough candy to feed a small army. That’s perfect. That is where Operation Gratitude- Halloween Candy Buy-Back comes to play. I participate in this every year. It’s not because I am a “mean mom” and don’t let my kid have candy. It’s FIRST and foremost because it’s a great cause and SECOND I am a “mean mom” who doesn’t allow her kid to have 20 pounds of candy!

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In all seriousness, this program works for us. With Landon’s allergies on top of his food sensitivities (food dye makes my kid nothing short of BONKERS), we are not left with much for him to enjoy. He enjoys the experience of Halloween and sure, getting a few special pieces of “SAFE” candy are always a bonus. He also knows that the more candy he collects, the more candy will be sent overseas to the troops. The candy doesn’t just represent a sugary delicious treat, it represents a good deed and that we appreciate what the soldiers are doing for our country.  It reinforces the motto “sharing is caring”, something we say on a daily basis.

You can search on their website for drop-off locations for this program or can send it yourself. All shipping information is located on their website. Chances are there are many in your area! But, if you are local to me in Little Rhody, consider dropping if off at Pezza Orthodontics in Cranston, RI. The office is having their 4th Annual Halloween Candy Buy-Back Party TOMORROW Thursday, Nov 3 from 2-5pm. Bring your leftover and unwanted candy and they will be having prizes for gift cards!  There will be food, drinks and more! They are sending everything in care packages to our troops via Operation Gratitude! No donation is too small or large. If you can not make that time, feel free to drop it off at the location earlier as well! Or drop it off to me and I will make sure they get the donation!
Namaste~
Joy

halloween1

Pedal For A Purpose

Want to pedal for a purpose? Well, then join me at the 2nd annual Body Armour Spin-a-thon Fundraiser this Sunday October 30th! For those who might not know, my niece was tragically killed in as car accident as a passenger one night 5 years ago. It is something that we as a family will never forget. Each year, the Elanna Zuller Memorial Sports Fund hosts fundraisers and events to raise money for local kids, sports organizations, scholarships and more. Body Armour is graciously hosting their spin-a-thon again this year in honor of Elanna Zuller!

fundraiser

There’s no better way to show you care than donating to a good cause and burning some calories while you’re at it!  A Spin-a-Thon is just like a walk-a-thon, except that participants cycle on stationary bikes rather than walking.  Cyclists gather and members trade off cycling time to raise money through sponsors and donations. One hour is all it takes to help make a significant positive impact in the life of a local family. Your participation in this event will help support those in need in our community; all proceeds raised will benefit the Elanna Zuller Memorial Sports Fund, and your $10 registration gets you a Tshirt and a bike.  Bikes are still available for timeslots! $10 holds you a bike and you raise whatever denomination you wish!

Some Fundraiser Day Activities: 

8am Spin (instructor Rosemary)
8:15-8:45am The Art of Yoga with Joy (kids yoga and art project)
8:30 Pumpkin decorating goes all day long!
9 am Spin ( Instructors Amal & Jenna)
9:30-Noon Face Painting begins with Hazey Daze Creations 
10 am Spin (Instructors Jess & Tara)
10:30-11am The Art of Yoga with Joy (kids yoga and art project)
10:30-noon Complimentary lunch provided by Jersey Mikes
11 am Spin (Instructor Pete)

There will be snacks and drinks served all day. Raffles to win. Items to purchase. Boot camp demos. Fun to be had! The event itself is FREE. However, $10 registers you for a bike to take a spin class! Don’t want to spin? No worries. Come join in on the fun and support by trying to win some of the great raffles we had donated graciously by local companies and friends! Perhaps purchase some merchandise or just donate directly to the Elanna Zuller Memorial Fund.

I would love to have you pedal for a purpose with me!
Namaste~
Joy

 

Fall Family Bucket List

Do you love Fall and all that is associated with it? Do you have a Fall Family Bucket List planned? There are so many things to do during the fall season that I like to write them all down so I don’t forget!  Ever find yourself contemplating what to do on a gorgeous fall afternoon? Jot down your favorite fall past-times, place them in a mason jar and when the mood strikes (Yes- I am talking about boredom)- PICK ONE! Of course, if you are like me, you will cross off your favorite activities almost immediately! The second the pumpkins and apples are ready to picked- you can be rest assured that’s where I will be!

fall1

I love fall festivals (Scituate Art Festival is my local favorite), apple picking, pumpkin picking, hayrides, hiking, running, FOOTBALL, fall baking, fall decorating, biking… I could go on and on. So, this weekend take some time to talk as a family about what you all love most about fall. Give each member of your family 5 pieces of scrap paper and write your ideas down.  Each time you are in the mood for a fall adventure, have a new family member pick from the jar! Get creative. There really is no way to steer your family wrong. As long as you are playing together, you’re creating memories that will last a lifetime! That’s the magic of the season!

My Fall Family Bucket List story is featured on the cover of this months Rhode Island Health & Fitness. To read the whole story and get some ideas, click here! Leave me a comment and let me know what you’ve added to your bucket list! I am always looking for more ways to have adventures with my boys!

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Photo By Rhode Island Health & Fitness magazine

Namaste~
Joy

Escape Reality And Explore The Renaissance

It’s fall, and fall in New England wouldn’t be complete without King Richard’s Faire, the oldest renaissance faire in New England. Here, you will be immersed from head-to-toe in a 80-acre forest that is set to resemble a 16th century marketplace. The family and I had a great time exploring the artisans, watching the shows and interacting with each strolling character as they passed by. The are knights, mimes, mud beggars, wenches and members of the royal family walking amongst you. You truly feel as though you have stepped into another time. If you have a child who enjoys history museums, this will surely delight. My son, loves to learn about different places and times in history. He felt as if he went back in time and really enjoyed himself.

 

I thought at first, King Richard’s Faire might not be a good fit for my son due to his Sensory Processing and Anxiety. Think loud noises, smells and crowds. But, if you scope out the map ahead of time, find a quiet spot to rest and try not and fit everything in, chances are you will have a plan for success. It was loud, but not in an obnoxious way. The wind and trees seemed to dull out some of the crowd noise and we found a great spot to take a break under some pine trees. We let him dictate the shows he wanted to see, which worked out perfect. He chose the Great Cats of The World Show, The Royal Parade and the Challenge of Champions. 

Honestly, the Great Cats of the World Show is worth the ticket alone! We sat in the 2nd row right and got to see a Black Panther 10 feet in front of us. And the white Bengal Tiger was just as impressive. The Geoffroy Cat was small but mighty (and adorable to say the least). The knights put on a great show. There was horseback riding, jousting and tricks with their lances among other things. And our knight (blue & white) won the challenge! My son picked the right spot to sit in! The Royal Parade is the perfect chance to see all the roaming characters in one place! It’s also the prefect time to grab a bite to eat and find a table and watch as they make their way around the village!

 

king-richards-faire

Let’s talk food. We split a bloomin’ onion, chicken fingers & fries platter and some fudge! It was all delicious. The food was exactly like what I expected, with a slight edge over regular carnival food.  I did notice they offered gluten free options as well as lactose intolerant! As a mom to a food allergy kid, I found this to be a refreshing surprise! I can’t forget about the massive ice cream cone and homemade pickle served from a barrel! Delicious! It does get a bit busy around the traditional lunch time, so if you can wait to eat later that will save you from having to really search out for a table.

Listen, we could have stayed longer. Explored more. Played more games. Ate more. Shopped more. But, we had about 1 hour drive and it was getting late in the day. There really is so much to do and see there. I find this event is more suitable for kids 7 and over. The games were fun, but some I think would be better for the older set versus the younger! Same with the shows. While some kids younger than 7 would find the shows enjoyable, I think the majority of older kids would be able to sit for them longer and really get something out of them! Landon was the perfect age! He is almost 9 and like I said, in love with history.

If you are looking for a quintessential fall New England event to enjoy, get yourselves to King Richard’s Faire.

I am so grateful at the opportunity to receive free admission to this years event in return for a review. And guess what? I have 4 tickets to give away and are good for any of these dates: October 8, 10, 15, 22 and 23. I only wish to be able to attend next year and cross off everything we missed off our list! My son is already talking about his outfit that he wants to wear! A knight who fights for freedom and love! What is better than that? I have my eye on a flower crown!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Namaste~

Joy