Handmade stocking stuffer round-up

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In her comment on my stocking stuffer post, Julia asked if I could do a round-up of handmade stocking stuffer ideas. As one of the world's least crafty people, I may not be the right person to take this on, but what I lack in crafting ability I make up for in wasted time on Pinterest, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I tried to focus on handmade ideas that require neither special skills nor expensive materials. Here are a few of the best handmade stocking stuffer ideas I found:

Christmas Potpourri Packets
At Dandee, Danyelle gives instructions on how to create a Christmas-y scent blend that can then be packaged and gifted. The user needs only to boil the contents with some water to make his/her house smell lovely. The ingredients are easy to come by--spices and dried fruit--and not too spendy if you hit an ethnic market for bulk spices. Dandee's version is packaged pretty simply in cellophane bags, but the packaging options for this would be pretty endless.

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Photo via Splitcoaststampers.

Paint Chips Book Marks
Splitcoaststampers member sbgalone suggests making simple bookmarks from stamped paint sample strips, and I love the way they look! If you happen to already have ink and stamps, the cost here is almost nothing--you can pick up the sample strips for free at a hardware store/Lowe's/Home Depot and you'll only need a small amount of ribbon for the tassels. The time commitment and crafting talent needed are negligible, too!

Rock Candy
Sure, all types of candy are stocking stuffer basics, but rock candy is so pretty, so easy to make at home, and so cheap! All you need is string or sticks, sugar, water, and food coloring! The internet abounds with recipes, but I think this one is a good start.

Candy Sleighs
An even easier, though slightly spendier, candy-themed stocking stuffer is the Candy Sleigh, as described by Ellyn's Place. Really, this is just a cute way to package candy bars, but it's easy and pretty inexpensive. Each sleigh uses two candy canes, a Kit Kat bar, and 10 mini-Hershey bars, plus ribbon and bows, so maybe a couple of bucks each?

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Photo via Betty Crocker.

Cookie Cutter Fudge
I love this for it's simplicity and adorableness. The Betty Crocker website gives instructions on how to make their fudge inside a cookie cutter, but I'm thinking any fudge recipe should work. Cookie cutters can be had very cheaply at the Dollar Store or similar this time of year, and fudge doesn't require anything too spendy, so this would be pretty cost effective.

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Photo via marthastewartweddings.com

Rosemary Sea Salt
Martha Stewart's lineup of wedding favor ideas has several things in it that would be great for stocking stuffers, but my favorite are these cute, practical jars of rosemary infused sea salt. Again, cost and time are negligible--you'll need bulk sea salt, rosemary, jars, and labels. Presentation is key here, I think, and the Weck jars Martha's picture shows go a long way in making simple salt look and feel like a gift. They are a bit spendier than regular jars--$18.70 for a dozen of the 2.7 oz variety--but this is still a pretty cheap gift. If you're absolutely counting pennies, though, you could fairly easily substitute out used jam jars or similar to keep costs lower.

Salted Caramel Sauce
Recipe Girl's little jelly jars of salted caramel sauce are neither quite so easy nor quite so cheap as Martha's salt, but wouldn't they be great in a stocking? Making caramel sauce is a little bit tricky for a novice cook, but not unmanageable. The ingredients are bit spendier, too, since you'll need cream and butter, but a only 1 cup of cream and 1.5 tablespoons of butter to make four little jars, so not too bad. Again, presentation is key, so you'd need to either buy some jelly jars (which typically are less than $1 each) or figure out a way to clean and re-label used jars.

Sourdough Starter
Another super cheap and simple gift-in-a-jar is a sourdough starter. Armommy gives great advice on how to get one going, as well as a printable label for your jar. Aside from the vessel, all you need is yeast, flour, sugar, and water!

Spice Blends/Grill Rubs
Spice blends and rubs are a great stocking stuffer, especially if you're already a cook and have your own concoctions to share. If you don't, there are some starter ideas at Kojo Designs. Bulk spices should make this pretty cost effective. Package your spice mix in a cute container (even better if it's a reused one) and slap on a cute label and viola! a gift!

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Photo via Repeat (cr)After Me.

Rock Vegetable Garden Markers
Maybe it's just me, but I think these hand-painted rock veggie garden markers, featured by Sarah at Repeat (cr)After Me, are just too cute for words. Also? Cheap and easy! All you'd need is rocks, acrylic paint, and possibly stamps for the words.

52 Things I Love About You
This is an almost free idea that takes no great skills or fancy supplies--using a couple of large binder rings, turn a deck of cards into a 52-page love letter. This would be great for a partner, obviously, but could be modified for parents, too, with each card containing a memory.

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Photo via Hammer & Thread.

T-Shirt PJ Pants
This kid-friendly stocking stuffer idea requires a little more skill--you have to be able to sew. However, it is too cute and too cheap not to include. Ruth at Hammer & Thread gives a great tutorial on how to sew up used adult t-shirts into adorable pj/lounge pants for little ones. I know very little about sewing, but she says she can whip up several pairs during a nap time, so I'm guess these would be pretty easy for someone who can sew. Supplies are cheap, too--used t-shirts are easy to come by for free or almost-free, and the only notions needed are thread and elastic.


Photo via The Purl Bee.

Lavender Sachets
Little lavender sachets are a handmade gift staple for a reason--they're cheap, easy, and cute! Even a non-sewer can usually manage these.The Purl Bee has a great tutorial for making these little jewels. The fabric she uses, a Dutch Chintz Garden Roll, isn't cheap ($78), but these could be made with any small amounts of fabric. The other materials--dried lavender, thread, and plain cotton canvas--should be pretty inexpensive.

Luggage Tags
Though this idea requires a bit more skill in sewing, the supplies are still cheap, and they're too cute not to include. Soubelle's gives clear instructions on how to turn scrap fabric, stabilizer, thread, ribbon, and vinyl into custom luggage tags. This would be a particularly good plan for those who already sew, as they're likely to have enough bits and bobs on hand to make these with no additional materials needed. This is one I'd love in my stocking!

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Photo via Martha Stewart.

Teacup Candles
This is one I've actually done before, so I can vouch for how easy it is. Martha Stewart gives great instructions, but basically you simply melt down old candle bits (or use new wax, but that ups the cost), add a new wick, and make a little candle in a teacup! Mismatched tea cups are easy to find for less than $1 each at the thrift store, and candle wicking is cheap at the craft store. Even if you have to buy wax, these don't add up to much, as they're pretty small. Other kinds of vessels can be used, as well, but there is something about using tea cups that makes these so quaint and cute.

Emergency Purse Kit
This idea is one of my favorites, and it could be all-but free. Gayle at The Grocery Cart Challenge posted it back in 2008, but it's still a great idea. Basically, you modify an old cassette tape holder (remember those?) and fill it with tiny necessities, most of which you can get free or for pennies--sugar and salt and pepper packets, toothpicks, Band-Aids, a mini-calendar, safety pins, etc. Again, packaging is everything in making regular stuff into a cute present!

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Photo via Oh! Sweetbabies.

Wee Mouse Tin House
The Wee Mouse Tin House instructions for sale on Etsy look a bit complicated for my liking, but I think this idea has real merit. If you could buy a small toy/doll to fit into an Altoids tin (Dollar Store, maybe?), all you'd need for the bedding is tiny scraps of fabric. This is one that could really be as simple or as complicated as you'd like, but the basic idea, a sort of handmade Polly Pocket, is a great one.

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Photo via Katherine Marie.

Sunshine in a Box
Much as it makes me smile, Katherine Marie's Sunshine in a Box won't work as a stocking stuffer--it's too big! However, the same concept, on a smaller scale, would be great in a stocking! Like Katherine Marie, you could use all yellow items (candies, erasers, craft supplies, etc.) for a smaller box of sunshine, or you could go with another theme. The important thing here, I think, is the color coding and the careful packaging.

Nesting Dolls
The DIY Nesting Dolls featured at Yes to Hoboken are probably a bit too crafty for this non-crafter, but man, if you have any skills, please make these! They're just the cutest thing ever. The blanks will run about $10 or more, depending on how many you get and where, so they aren't that cheap, but the rest of the supplies are sort of anything goes, and these could so be worth it...

Clearly, the list of possible handmade stocking stuffers could go on forever! I'm tossing new ideas I find after writing this post up on Pinterest, so subscribe to that board if you'd like. Happy, thrifty crafting!

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What the baby wore II

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I'm so gonna keep doing this until someone tells me to stop...His clothes are just too darn cute!

Saturday, November 24, going for a walk:
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-Just One You by Carter's red plaid jacket (gift)
-Yoga Colors Baby Chic Rib Karate Pants in Black
-L'il Jo's Baby Shoes in Blue Puppy (hand-me-down)
-frog hat (handmade, gift)

Thursday, November 22, Thanksgiving!
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-Tea Collection layered t-shirt (EBay)
-Jumping Beans cargo pants (Kohl's)
-Bison Booties (gift)

Tuesday, November 20, pre-Thanksgiving shopping with Mom:
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-Carter's train thermal long-sleeved onesie
-Tea Collection Knit Pants in Gray (via Wittlebee)
-BabyLegs Beep Beep socks

Monday, November 12, errands with Mom:
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-Zutano red robot t-shirt (Tuesday Morning)
-Gerber white long-sleeved onesie
-Yoga Colors Baby Chic Rib Karate Pants in Navy
-BabyLegs Launch Baby Socks

Sunday, November 11, hanging out at home:
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-Gymboree alligator t-shirt (thrifted)
-Carter's navy thermal onesie (gift)
-Sage Creek Organics Basic Pants in Ripe Green (via Wittlebee)
-Route 66 socks (via K-Mart)

Saturday, November 10, going for a walk:
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-Baby Nay long-sleeved red lion t-shirt (Tuesday Morning)
-YogaColors Baby Chic Rib Karate Pants in Brown
-BabyLegs Galactic Baby Socks
-Bison Booties (gift)

Thursday, November 8, hanging out at home:

-Gymboree cowboy long-sleeved t-shirt (thrifted)
-Tea Collection French Terry Cargos in Brown (via Wittlebee)
-Frog Robeez (hand-me-down)

Wednesday, November 7 (thrifting with Mom--dressed by Dad)
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-Baby Gap Long-Sleeved Embroidered Animal Onesie (outlet store)
-Tea Collection Knit Playwear Pants in blue gray (EBay)
-Route 66 red and black striped socks (K-Mart)

Tuesday, November 6 (Election Day!)
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-Carter's Long-Sleeved Body Suit, Gray and Black Striped
-Osh Kosh B'Gosh denim overalls (gift)
-Bison Booties (gift)

Monday, November 5 (hanging out at home)
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-Positively Organic Star Long-Sleeved Tee in Red
-YogaColors Baby Chic Rib Karate Pants in Black
-L'il Jo's Baby Shoes in Blue Puppy (hand-me-down)

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Stuff to stuff stockings

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Mark and I (and now Buzzy) alternate years for Christmas, spending one with my family in Oregon and the next with his in Minnesota. This year is Mark's family, and they've decided that the adults aren't going to exchange large gifts anymore, but are just going to do stockings. I love this idea, as it gives me parameters in which to exercise my gift giving muscles, without a huge cash outlay or the pain in the ass of schlepping large gifts across the country. It does present a challenge, though--what gifts can I come up with that are nice and unique, but also small enough to fit the bill? As I started looking around for ideas, I thought I'd share them with you.

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Wooden Labyrinth Game, Uncommon Goods, $16

I love little toys as stocking stuffers, and this gorgeous rosewood labyrinth is a step up from most. I think it would make a great conversation piece on a desk or coffee table.

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Key Bottle Opener, World Market, $7.99

I LOVE these bottle openers. Bottle openers are so ugly in general, and these are just so swank. Great stuff for a stocking.

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State Dish Towels, Uncommon Goods, $20

I'm a sucker for a tea towel, and I love these state-themed ones from Uncommon Goods for their kitsch value and their bright colors. I'm not sure they'd fit in a stocking, but the coordinating aprons are great, too.

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Paper Mache Eggs, World Market, $41.88 for 12

How cute are these? Wouldn't one or two of them be great in a stocking? I really can't say they have a purpose, but they are so pretty!

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Vintage Measuring Spoons, World Market, $12.99

I love measuring cups and spoons beyond all reason, and this set, made to look like vintage silverware, are particularly up my alley. I'd love to stick these in one my baking-minded family members' stockings.

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Pocket Mirror, Felix Doolittle, $12

How great would one of these little 2.75" mirrors, with their gorgeous watercolor-like illustrations, be in a stocking? Wonderful for kids, sure, but I want one, too!

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Hudson Valley Seeds, West Elm, $15-$18

I love the packaging on these seeds so much! I would love to stick some packets in my gardening-minded relatives' stockings! It's not just the packaging, though--the seeds inside are heirloom varieties from an upstate New York farm. An herb assortment, vegetable assortment, and flower assortment are available.

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Spades Measuring Cups, Anthropologie, $32

So it would probably be overkill to get the same person measuring spoons AND measuring cups, but how cute are these spade measuring cups from Anthro? Like I said, I really have a thing for measuring devices.

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Titanium Multi-Tool Collar Stays, Uncommon Goods, $30

Tell me these aren't a little bit Bond? Featherweight titanium collar stays that double as bottle openers, mini screwdrivers, and files. Love it.

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Apothecary Jar Terrarium, Vertegris, $15

Tell me that these tiny terrariums wouldn't be cool in a stocking? Each 4" vintage spice jar comes complete with a tiny, complete ecosystem. I adore this idea.

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Spartan Hardwood Swiss Army Tool, West Elm, $37.95

A Swiss army knife is, of course, a classic stocking stuffer, but I love this hardwood upgrade from West Elm. Makes the practical so, so pretty.

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4oz Handmade Soy Candle, Oil & Wax, $7

Candles are a bit of a typical stocking stuffer, but I can't help but include these soy versions in my round up, just because I love the aesthetic--the little jars and craft paper lids are too cute. They are available in bulk, too, if you have lots of stockings to fill.

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Multicolored Round Paper Mache Box, World Market, $7.99

Aren't these little paper mache tidbit boxes adorable? I picture them on a nightstand holding jewelry or something. In a stocking, they could even hold a truffle or some other fancy candy.

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Handmade Shaving Soap, Smith Family Soap Works, $12

Do you find that stocking stuffers for dudes are harder to figure than those for ladies? I really do, and I love the idea of a cool shaving soap like this one to fill stocking space.

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Vintage Brooch Stoppers, World Market, $17.97 for 3

I'm not sure there is anybody on my list whose stocking doesn't need one of these crazy cool vintage brooch bottle stoppers. How wonderful an addition would these make to a retro-feeling bar?

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Benefit Cosmetics High Flyin' Glosses, Sephora, $26

Small-sized cosmetics and bath products are fantastic stocking fodder. I particularly like this little set of six .22 oz glosses from Benefit because Benefit's packaging is so great, there's no need to wrap! This whole set could go into one stocking, or you could bust the box open and sprinkle glosses into everybody's socks! If you happen to have friends and relatives who are true makeup heads, you could do the same thing with Sephora's awesome Lash Stash mascara sampler ($45) or Draw the Line eyeliner sampler ($28).

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Travel Spice Kit, World Market, $14.99

Maybe your partner isn't a big foodie, but someone you know must be, and how much fun would it be to stick this in his or her stocking? A cute little foodie emergency kit, complete with small amounts of 20 spices and spice blends. Love it.

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Custom Gourmet Herb & Spice Kit, Craig's Market, $14.95 for 6

For a slightly less pre-packaged version, cool Etsy shop Craig's Market offers all manner of fun spice and tea blends, packaged in super cute tins--perfect for stockings!

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Lush soaps, bath bombs, and bubble bars, various prices

A soap, bubble bar, bath bomb, or other goodie from Lush would make a very welcome and nice smelling addition to my stocking! I love the idea of just a single one of their special products tucked into a stocking toe--maybe one of the holiday specific options, like the Crackersnap reusable bath bar ($9.95) or the North Pole chocolate and peppermint soap ($6.95)?

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Wooden Farm Animal Set, Imagination Kids, $50

Though the stocking only clause does not apply to the smallest family member this year, he'll certainly need to have his brand new stocking stuffed as well, and I think these beautiful little wooden animals from Imagination Kids are perfect for it. They are perfectly sized (between 2" and 5" tall, depending on species) for stockings and for little hands, and they're completely handmade and non-toxic (good for the set who puts everything in their mouths). Love love love love love.

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What the baby wore

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I used to show you what I wore every day. Believe me, that is not something you want to see right now, unless you have some sort of too-short yoga pants fetish. However, the baby is often dressed quite smartly, so maybe I'll show you his outfits for a while instead?

Sunday, November 4 (hanging out at home)
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-Positively Organic Long-Sleeved Cowboy Tee in Olive
-Just One You Made By Carter's Infant Boys Pants in Brown (via Target)
-BabyLegs Little Dipper Striped Socks

Friday, November 2 (thrifting with Mom)
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-Jumping Beans Long-Sleeved Fire Truck tee
-Tea Collection French Terry Cargos in Brown (via Wittlebee)
-Carter's Puppy Love Navy and Brown Striped Socks (gift)

Thursday, November 1 (pediatrician visit)
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-Positively Organic Long-Sleeved Geometric Henley Tee in Natural
-Yoga Colors Baby Chic Rib Karate Pants in Olive
-Frog Robeez (hand-me-down)

Wednesday, October 31 (Halloween!)
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-Carter's Raccoon Halloween Costume (via Costco)

Tuesday, October 30 (hanging out at home)
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-Pumpkin Patch Pirate Tee Shirt (via Nordstrom Rack)
-Gymboree Striped Pants with Knee Patches (gift)
-Frog Robeez (hand-me-down)

Monday, October 22 (shopping with Mom)
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-Hanna Andersson Jeepers Creeper in Heather Gray/White Striped (thrifted)
-Sage Creek Organics Basic Pants in Ripe Green (via Wittlebee)
-Bison Booties Owl Booties (gift)

Sunday, October 21 (hanging outside with Dad)
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-Tiny Whales Sail Away Tee (via Wittlebee)
-Tea Collection Knit Pants in Gray (via Wittlebee)

Saturday, October 20 (watching football with Dad)
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-Arsenal Baby Bodysuit in Red (via WorldSoccerShop)
-Yoga Colors Baby Chic Rib Karate Pants in Black
-Tie-dyed socks (hand-me-down)

Friday, October 19 (hanging out at home)
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-Wild & Cozy by Hatley Red Bear Bodysuit (via Wittlebee)
-Tea Collection Knit Pants in Gray (via Wittlebee)
-Route 66 socks (via K-Mart)

Friday, October 11 (hanging out at home)
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-Tea Collection Long-Sleeved Bull Head tee (via Wittlebee)
-Yoga Colors Baby Chic Rib Karate Pants in Navy
-Route 66 socks (via K-Mart)

Pretty clear where our brand loyalties lie, huh? Love those Yoga Colors pants, and can't get enough Tea Collection! This also makes it clear just how much we've relied on the stuff in the Wittlebee boxes. I have to admit, it's pretty fun to have my own little boy to dress!

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Letter to Buzzy #5: Month Three in Oregon

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Dear Buzzy,

I swear, someday I will catch up on these. Now that you're four months old, it seems the least I can do is get your three month letter finished.

We spent a lot of your third month (September) in Oregon, visiting my family and some of our Oregon friends. It was a wonderful trip--so great, in fact, that you and I stayed an extra week, dragging it out to a three-week vacation. These are the perks to having an unemployed mama, I guess!

A lot of things changed while we were in Oregon. You started your sleeping decline (which we're right in the heart of now). You started interacting with people and toys in a completely new way. You met countless people for the first time--grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins...and you charmed everybody. By the time you and I got home, I think you seemed like a totally new baby to your dad.

Another new thing about the trip was my first experience having sole responsibility for you for a long period of time--not only the last two weeks of the trip, but the flight home. You were an absolute angel on both flights, barely crying at all and, on the way home, spending nearly the whole flight asleep in my lap. Flying by yourself with an infant isn't easy, though--I really wished I had more than two hands!

Early in the month, you started laughing, which is an amazing thing. One can never be sure what is going to strike you as funny, but the sound you make when something does is awesome. It makes all the sleepless nights and gritting my teeth through the screaming worth it.

I love you more every day,

Your Mom

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Wantable=awesome (with giveaway!)

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Added 11/12/12:

My apologies for the lateness in choosing a winner--I've been sick! Our winner is:

SARAH!

Congratulations, Sarah!

***

I may have just found a new favorite subscription box program.

Except that's not really what it is. Wantable sends "personalized makeup kits," based on your answers to a fairly extensive set of style/beauty questions, quarterly. It's not a subscription model--you have to opt in each time--and it's 100% guaranteed. Each kit comes with a prepaid return shipping label, so if you don't like what you get, it's easy to send it back.

The thing I love about what Wantable does is that each kit represents a full look. For example, the kit I got (which I'll give you more details on in a minute), included a lipstick, a lip gloss, an eye shadow, a mascara, a blush, a nail polish, and two perfume samples, all coordinated around the look I'd selected. It also came with instructions on how to use each item--perfect for folks who are new to makeup!

Here's how the process works:

You take a style quiz on Wantable's website. I took mine several ways and checked out all the possible results, and the first match it made for me seemed to me to be the right one. You can be categorized as "Classic Chic" (which is what I got), "Glamour Girl," "Boho Beauty," "Top Trendsetter," or "Rock Rebel." Then, within your selected style, you're presented with 2-3 product pack options--typically the same type of products in different colors/shades. For me, the choices were "Bold Lips--Plumberry" and "Bold Lips--Classic Red." Since conquering the classic red lip is something I've been wanting to do for a while, I chose that option. The contents of each pack are clearly laid out for you when you hit "BUY," so there are no surprises. Each pack is $40. My pack contained:

-MyFace Cosmetics Upload Lashes Mascara in Black (est value $18)
-Beauty for Real LightUp Lip Gloss in Light My Fire (est value $22)
-MyFace Cosmetics Blingtone Eyeshadow in Morococo (est value $20)
-Beauty for Real Light Up Nail Polish in #1 Red (est value $15)
-Paul Dorf Lip Color Cream in Legend (est value $22)
-Verhoeven Cosmetics Cheek Candy in Daiquiri (est value $16)
-Spadaro Doux Amour and Sole Nero perfume samples

wantable.jpg

You'll notice two things about these products--the value far exceeds the $40 price tag, and the brands aren't well known. Apparently, sometimes the brands Wantable offers are more well know (Bobbi Brown, Urban Decay, and Tarte are mentioned on their website), but that wasn't the case for me. However, given the free return shipping, these brands seemed worth trying!

The shipping is fast and the products came neatly and safely packaged. An insert was included that listed each product and its retail price, as well as the style quiz answers that had led them to suggest this particular pack. It also includes step-by-step instructions for using the products. I used mine exactly as specified. All I did before using Wantable's products/following their instructions was apply tinted moisturizer and eye brightener. This was the result (pardon my strange expression and neglected hair):

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I'm pretty happy with it! The MyFace Cosmetics Blingtone eye shadow is not my favorite--it is a bit too glittery for me--but everything else I used went on great, and I think the colors were right on. The MyFace Cosmetics Upload Lashes is nice mascara, giving me good lengthening and thickening and a rich, dark color, and the Verhoeven Cheek Candy blush was easy to fingertip-apply and a nice, neutral shade. The real stars here, though, as promised, as the lip products. This look is a bit of the Paula Dorf lipstick, applied with a lip brush, and a bit of the Beauty For Real Light Up Lip Gloss over the top. I tried both products separately as well, and liked them both on their own.

Wantable is definitely something I'll try again next season. They do a fantastic job, the price is right for what you get, and I absolutely love that their guarantee their selections with free return shipping.

So, how anxious are you to try Wantable out? I've got you covered! Wantable has agreed to give one lucky WINOW reader a free pack! All you have to do to enter is:

1. Follow Wantable on Twitter, then tell me you did it in the comments.
2. Like Wantable on Facebook, then tell me you did it in the comments.
3. Head over to the Wantable website and take the style quiz, then tell me which style you are in the comments.

That's THREE ways to win! Leave a separate comment for each and we'll pick a winner next Thursday, November 8. Good luck!

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