We have quickly reached the middle of December. You know what that means… it is almost the end of another year and another season of holiday cheer.
I don’t know about you, but I have about 60% of all my holiday shopping done. I still have a few gifts I need to purchase, but I am getting close to checking everything off the list.
I am usually the worst at buying gifts on time. Procrastinator should be my middle name this time of year. I. Am. The. Worst.
Personally, I am not a fan of shopping. I hate crowds and I am very task driven when I go to the store; I like to have something in mind, go straight in, execute, and leave.
It is a rare occurrence for me to window shop or leisurely peruse the store shelves. I can think of a million other things I would rather be doing. Like shopping from my computer while laying in bed.
See what I did there?
Alright, I have a confession. I hate shopping, but I don’t mind spending hours shopping online.
Why? Well, because I can take my time making decisions. I can research. I can explore innumerable options. No pressure.
All of this is good and bad because sometimes I struggle to make a decision. I am either compulsive, or so slow to act that I never get around to pulling the trigger.
Every year as we approach Christmastime, I usually have good intentions: buying gifts ahead of time, taking a nice family photo, and sending out a personalized holiday card with said photo.
I typically fail at all of the above.
I did buy a beautiful set of nativity cards to send this year, but guess what? I still haven’t sent those out either. So, if you are wondering if you are going to receive a card from me, please know that even if you don’t actually receive one, I am still thinking of you and there is probably a card in my house with your name on it.
But if you are here, you are probably wondering what these gifts are that I am promising will alleviate your last minute shopping woes, so I won’t drag this out.
If you are still looking for a few unique gift ideas for the holidays, look no further. I am going to break these up into categories with one or more of my favorite options within each.
But first, a disclaimer. I have partnered with several of the brands I am featuring. All of these are items that I currently use, and I have not been paid for any of these endorsements, although some items have been gifted to me. Nevertheless, I stand by my recommendations. These are all items I have been personally recommending to all of my friends as of late and most of which I have purchased with my own hard-earned money!
Gift Idea #1: Tech Notebooks
Notebooks are a great gift idea for anyone, really. Everyone needs to take notes, so why not give them a cute notebook or journal.
If you are thinking, girl, notebooks are boring, I get you. BUT….
I have been recommending these notebooks to everyone because they help digitize everything. No more wasting paper or losing notes. And what about all those pieces of paper your kids leave for you with their doodles? I have enough paper art to fill a closet and they haven’t even graduated from preschool.
Right now they have a special promotion where you can take 20% off your next order with code FINAL20. Plus, free shipping and arrival by Christmas!
Gift Idea #2: Handmade Jewelry
Jewelry can be a hard gift to give, but if you want something extra special that won’t break the bank, check out Simply Sofia.
I have to be honest… My mom owns Simply Sofia, so I may be slightly biased. 😉
But seriously, everything my mom makes is handmade with only the best quality natural stones at ridiculously affordable prices. Quality is paramount and she hand selects the best stones while making every piece with all her love.
Making jewelry by hand is hard work for my mom’s tired hands but she swears it humbles her. It is a true gift to be able to create jewelry by hand for those who want the added special touch.
If I had to pinpoint a collection to check out, I would have to share my personal favorite: Cami’s Rosaries. A line inspired by none other than…me!
I may be partial, but I honestly wear my Saint Peter Rosary everywhere. I do take it off to sleep and shower, though. This particular one is made with Job’s seeds, so they really can’t get wet.
The two featured below can be found here and here.
Simply Sofia has something for everyone – men, women, and children included. The best part is that Sofia will make a custom design to order if you prefer something personalized.
Also, we offer two-day flat rate shipping. That means you can order as late as the 21st and still get it in time for Christmas. (I would probably order by the 20th to make extra sure it gets there in time for no extra charge.)
Gift Idea #3: Skincare and Makeup
Serious question. Who wants better skin?
Let’s all raise our hands, because I don’t know a single person who wouldn’t want to improve some aspect of their skin.
Did you know that your skin is your largest organ? That is right, not every organ is internal, and your largest one just happens to be center stage, for everyone to see. So why not take care of it?
Everything you ingest, and even that which you don’t, like pollution and UVA/UVB rays, reflects on our skin, making it really important that we take care of it. All of it. Inside and out.
As far as gifts go, skincare covers everyone, from teenagers to mature women. There is hardly a more versatile gift.
Now that you see the value in gifting skincare, if you decide this is the direction you want to take, there are a few great options.
I have personally used Rodan + Fields for a month now. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, I started having major breakouts in my thirties. I was desperate for help and Rodan + Fields came to the rescue.
When I finally decided it was time to invest in my skincare, I called up my good friend and former baseball wife, Susanne. She asked me a few questions and made some recommendations.
I finish every evening with the Lip Renewing Serum to condition my lips and smooth my lip texture.
Once I have been using the products for several more months, I plan to do a full review with before and afters.
If you have any questions, Susanne can help. She was a wealth of information when it came time for me to jump on the Rodan + Fields train.
Now that I am using it, I can’t believe it took me so long.
I love me some Younique. Younique does offer skincare, but personally, I have only used their makeup. I haven’t tried their skincare, so I can’t really speak to its effectiveness. I can tell you with confidence, however, that they have great makeup.
Younique is touted for being natural, mineral based, paraben free makeup and skincare.
What I love most is that it is never tested on animals. That makes this on-again-off-again-vegan-but-solid-pescatarian, happy. Very happy, in fact.
So, if you are looking for an amazing gift for a lady in your life that is chemical free, and cruelty free, then Younique is an amazing choice.
If you want to learn more about Younique and have an amazing experience, make sure you talk to my friend, Adreanna. We go back… way back… like to middle school, when David and I first started dating.
And if you want the VIP treatment, well then, Adreanna is your girl. She introduced me to Younique months ago, and now I am a full convert.
P.S. I bought my mom one of their gift sets for Christmas. But, shush, don’t tell.
Gift Idea #4: On-Demand Workouts
I gave up going to the gym a long time ago. With kids, my life got so busy, sometimes I only have a few minutes to get a workout in before I go to bed at 10 or 11 pm – and that is on the nights I don’t fall asleep while putting them to bed.
It is a struggle, but I do my best to find the time because my health matters.
I started using on demand apps almost a year ago and I haven’t looked back. For more on that, you can check out this post.
Right now, though, my favorite on demand workout app is Beachbody on Demand. I love that it has something for everyone and right now they have a one year subscription discounted for only $99 when you pay for the entire year up front!
Another great note to add is that it is easily accessible on nearly every device. Sadly, I can’t say that about all my other favorite on-demand apps.
This is what I would consider a gift that keeps on giving. It is something the receiver can use daily, and it gives back to their overall well being.
This is a wonderful gift for those looking to get something up to the day of! All you have to do is purchase it online and bam! It is active!
Gift Idea #5: Books
I love books. Not everyone loves books, but I promise everyone would benefit from having more of them in their lives. That is why I am a big proponent of gifting books.
Here is a list of some great choices this holiday season. Some are written by personal friends, others are just really worth reading. Check them out!
Mark Newman was my editor when I was blogging for MLBlogs. He is an incredible author and journalist. Diamonds from the Dugout came out last year, and now you can get his latest book, Yankees Legends, here.
I have to do a book review on Scary God. I am still in the middle of reading it, but boy is it goooooood. I am loving every second of this book.
So there you have it! My hope is that this gave you a few things to think about that you may have not been considering.
I started practicing yoga at home for two reasons: I felt like going to a yoga studio was selfish of me, (more on that later) and I didn’t want to spend $80-$100 a month for classes. I knew that if I was going to commit to doing a daily practice, I would need the flexibility to fit it into my schedule. Sometimes that means first thing in the morning, and other times it is at 10 PM at night, yet regardless of my schedule on any given day, I can always find fifteen to thirty minutes for yoga when I am intentional about it.
I had no idea the positive impact that practicing yoga daily would have on every aspect of my existence. Simply put, it has changed my life and the lives of those around me. Ever since having children, I suffer from chronic mom guilt. Taking time for me always felt like a luxury I could not afford to give myself. Sense tells me that taking care of myself IS NOT selfish, and still I found myself struggling to allow myself to do so.
Then one day, when my oldest was four and my youngest fast approaching three, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I didn’t like how I looked or felt and knowing that I wasn’t getting any younger, it was time to take the reins of my life. Taking control and effecting change is simple, you need to be intentional and have the support of those around you.
Two months ago, I wrote a post on How to Succeed with an At-Home Practice. In that post, I promised that I would address the different Yoga apps I have been using, as well as devices. So far, the only devices I have used are the Amazon FireTV and Apple TV 4K. Both of these products are great options, but if you are a Yoga lover, the AppleTV has a better selection of apps for download, making it the clear winner.
I started off with the FireTV -which is also a lot more affordable than the AppleTV – using Beachbody OnDemand. At first, the Beachbody OnDemand app on FireTV seemed amazing. It was all I needed until I purchased the new AppleTV (my old one isn’t compatible with the new applications) and I started practicing yoga in my bedroom instead of my living room using my newly acquired Apple device. Initially, I really preferred how Beachbody OnDemand worked with the FireTV but I grew accustomed using it on the AppleTV just the same. Then one day, courtesy of my children, I had to move my practice to my living room. At this point, Beachbody came out with a new and improved app for the FireTV that I was forced to download before proceeding with any practice. After only one use, I would say that it is by far the best interface I have experienced. It is far improved compared to the original version and much easier to navigate, making finding the perfect workout a breeze. Because the new version is so much cleaner, I wouldn’t be surprised if Beachbody comes out with an updated AppleTV app in the future.
As I mentioned earlier, Beachbody and Yoga International are available on both devices, but YogaGlo, my new favorite, is unavailable on FireTV. This is a HUGE bummer. A quick search for “yoga” on either device will show you the discrepancy in available programming. For instance, another popular app among the yoga community that I am looking forward to trying soon is CodyApp, now rebranded Alo Moves, and you guessed it, it is also unavailable on the FireTV. For this simple reason, I am going to dive deeper into each app, leaving out my preference for which device to use.
After two years of no yoga in my life, I started my at-home practice using Beachbody OnDemand. At $99 for the year, this was an affordable way to ease into starting a practice again while still having a lot of other workout options available to me and my family. From day one, I fell in love. Everything about their classes flowed with me. I eased into my practice with the 21 Day Yoga Retreat, followed by the 3-Day Refresh and finally the 5-Day Yoga Challenge with Caley Alyssa. After almost a month of yoga, led by an amazing group of instructors, I was well on my way to a healthier life and a stronger, more limber body.
Because I had an immensely successful transition into yoga, I encourage everyone I talk to about it to start here. Beachbody has continued to add classes to the “Yoga Studio” and every one of them is spectacular. I have yet to try one I didn’t like. Overall, I if I had to give Beachbody a grade, it would be an A, because their classes are visually and audibly superior to most other options and the quality of instructors and classes are top notch for the smaller selection they offer. I did Beachbody almost exclusively for three months, so even though their classes are limited, there is enough to keep you challenged for a while.
Yoga International is one of the apps that I have a love-hate relationship with. Firstly, it is an amazing resource for the advanced yogi or for anyone looking to learn more about the practice; in addition to their large number of classes, they offer many courses which set them apart in the teaching world. Yoga International is undoubtedly superior to other companies when it comes to their educational content, but in my case, I just want good 20-40 minute classes that are easy on the eyes and ears because, despite my desire, I don’t have the luxury of time to educate myself on the effects of yoga by means of their courses.
That being said, I am still a subscriber because my husband does like their classes, and I like their educational programs – time or not for them. All in all, I like what they are doing, but I just don’t know if we are the right “fit.” I haven’t taken very many of their classes so I may just need to give them another chance. If anything changes I will make sure to update it here.
On a side note, Yoga International is $14.99 a month, which is a lot more than Beachbody, however, it is 100% yoga related content. Also, I discovered that if you try to cancel, they will offer you a discounted subscription at $9.99 if you will stay. Because of their educational content and relatively affordable price, I give Yoga International a B+.
Last, but hardly least, I want to talk about YogaGlo. I am currently IN LOVE with YogaGlo. Frankly, I am upset that it took me as long as it did to subscribe. At $18.00 it is the most expensive subscription, but it is by far the best. It also beats paying $15-$20 for a single drop-in class at your local studio.
YogaGlo has been around for a while, they have amazing teachers and a TON of amazing programs. I have taken a few of their regular classes, but right now I am obsessed with their programs. So far I have completed, “Strong & Empowered” with Claire Missingham, and “Up the Intensity” with Dice Iida-Klien. On Sunday I started “Level Up with Ladder Flows,” also with Dice and am alternating it with “Morning Groove” with Amy Ippoliti. There isn’t a single program that has disappointed thus far. I highly recommend this to anyone who is serious about starting or building on their yoga practice. YogaGlo gets an A+ from me!
There you have it! As I try other subscriptions I will make sure to add to this list. I hope this helps you, whatever part of the journey you are in.
When I decided to start my yoga transformation a few months ago, I knew I had to change something in order to stay on track. Health and wellness were always at the top of my list of priorities and interests, but I failed over and over at staying on the path. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again with no results, so I decided it was time to do something radically different for me, and begin an at-home practice.
I have always been of the mindset that you I have to leave the house to get a good workout. Especially now that I have kids, getting out of the house was vital, in my mind, to success. The only way I would find the motivation, is if I went to the gym, instead of trying to bring the gym to me. There are obvious differences between working out at home and working out elsewhere, but after setting my worries aside and deciding to commit, bias aside, I haven’t looked back.
Working out at home has allowed me to stay consistent when, in the past, I would be hard-pressed to find the time to actually leave the house – just another excuse to miss a workout. Something would inevitably happen with the kids, or my husband would be home later than expected, and then suddenly all my plans would disappear into the abyss of regret.
Regardless of which type of exercise routine you are interested in starting, there is something out there for everyone; I have even seen bodybuilders find a way to work out at home. If you want it bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. I have proven that to myself over and over again. Every time I have stopped making excuses and committed to change, my life transformed. It really isn’t rocket science.
In my case, I wanted to start building a solid yoga practice back in April; something I had failed at accomplishing in the past, despite various attempts. Every time I would initiate change, and get into a good rhythm, seeing noticeable changes, life would happen, and I would end up right where I started all over again. I needed to break the cycle and stop this from happening again and again, so I took one small step and signed up for a year of Beachbody on Demand – just one of my now many, favorite yoga apps. (More to come on all of the apps I have used in a future post.)
The world is changing with technology, and so is the way we workout. Between my FireTV and AppleTV, I have been able to download more than a few super amazing apps that have afforded me the opportunity to begin and expand my yoga practice from the comfort of my own home, regardless of the chaos that may be occurring in my life. Gone are the days that I need to worry about making it to a class in time, or whether the class I really need that day was even offered at the time that is convenient for me, all while paying upwards of $80/month for classes at a single studio. So much money wasted over the years because I would fail to make it to class as often as I had intended.
With my newfound love for working out at home and my rekindled passion for yoga, I am going to dedicate a little more space on this blog to sharing it with you. I am still growing every single day, and even though I don’t think we ever stop evolving spiritually or intellectually, I want to share my evolution with you.
As I try out all the yoga apps out there – which combined, I absolutely loveeee add up to less than I was paying for a gym membership or yoga classes – I will share my thoughts on them; what I love and don’t love. I will also share the noticeable differences between using my FireTV and AppleTV. After only a few days of getting the new 4K ApplyTV, I can tell you there are many! I am really excited to dive deeper into this, and I hope you can gain something worthwhile during your visit.
I was standing in line at Publix on my way home from work yesterday and saw a picture of Jessica Biel on the cover of US Weekly that made me do a double take. Her vibrancy jumped off the page, and her soft smile looked incredibly peaceful. The headline was something along the lines of “Celebrities Reveal Their Best Fitness Tips.” I have always admired Jessica Biel for her dedication to health and fitness, so I was intrigued by what she had changed – her body noticeably different. I unearthed the answer as I flipped through the pages as rapidly as I could before the cashier was done ringing me up: Yoga.
I am so excited about this post. When I decided to start blogging again, I wanted to do it the right way. Instead of keeping ninety percent of my life private and only sharing the remaining ten percent, I wanted to use this platform to really connect with my audience.
In the process of living out my passion of writing, I intend to bring value to my audience and share more intimate details about my life, including things I really love and also those that I don’t. Many of you probably know by now that I love yoga; as I focus more of my time on being with family and freelancing from virtually anywhere in the world – although right now that means my home – I have been practically living in yoga gear. A few months ago, while on Facebook, I came across a post written by one of the baseball wives on our private facebook group. She shared that she was looking for a few ladies to collaborate with on their new campaign for Maidenform. Even though I have been blogging on and off since 2013, I have never done an official collaboration and although this one isn’t paid, they offered to send me some bras in exchange for my honest feedback. Now, my secret isn’t that I had never done a collaboration prior to this, or that I have been keeping a lot of my life private, rather, it is that I actually hate wearing bras!
Bras, for the most part, are uncomfortable; they are extremely restricting and tend to leave indentations on your skin. Now, before you say, that is because you aren’t fitted properly, I can assure you that I have been. I practically gave up wired bras a long time ago, and I usually don’t wear sports bras with a lot of support because that usually means they feel like a binding, so when Hanes sent me their Bali Comfort Revolution ComfortFlex Fit® Shaping Wirefree Bra, I was immediately excited to try it – times two! Not only did the bras feel ridiculously soft to the touch, but they were also something I could wear for yoga that would offer me support and comfort, simultaneously. These bras truly and honestly feel like butter and they are priced very well which is a hard combination to match! In addition, the ComfortFlex Fit bras feature a 4-way stretch fabric that provides a flexible fit that shapes to fit you and they have knit-in zones that provide targeted support.
Aside from feeling like bras are overtly uncomfortable, I seriously always have issues with the straps, too. The Bali ComforFit offer wider straps with Hanes’ no-slip Comfort-U® design for straps that stay-in-place. Hallelujah! I have had these two bras for about a month now and I have been wearing them almost exclusively. Needless to say, I am going to have to go buy a few more!
One of the other things I love most is that I can slide the bra on from the front and use the adjustable 3-option hook-and-eye back close. Its traditional style saves me the usual struggle of having to get it over my head that comes with all other sports bras. The bra also comes in a lot of fun colors so there is something for everyone.
Head on over to One Hanes Place for the full line of Maidenform undergarments and let me know what you think!
Fall in Love with Bali ComfortFlex Fit® Bras!
Fall in Love with Bali ComfortFlex Fit® Bras!
Bali Intimates, my new favorite bra!
Fall in Love with Bali ComfortFlex Fit® Bras!
Fall in Love with Bali ComfortFlex Fit® Bras!
Practicing Yoga in my Bali Intimates Bra.
Practicing Yoga in my Bali Intimates Bra.
Lounging in my Bali Intimates Bra while reading Flannery O’Connor.