Year End Meme 2012

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Last year, I missed the year end meme! So this is the eighth year. I'm sure you were all very worried.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?


Had a baby!

2010:Was unemployed for more than a few weeks.
2009: Sold a house. Worked from home.
2008: Buckled down and actually made progress towards financial stability.
2007: Had to wait until the tail end of the year, but I left the U.S.!
2006: Left a well-paying dead-end job for a less well-paying job with more potential. Agreed to spend Christmas away from my family. Bought a new car.
2005: Bought a house.
2004: Got a well-paying job.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn't really make any resolutions, beyond surviving the last 1/2 of pregnancy and the first few months of parenthood, and I've done that. Go me!

2010: I didn't do as well with my goals this year as I did last year--if I'm generous, I give myself 4/10. But I'll try again next year!
2009: I achieved 8/13 of the goals I set for 2009, with partial progress towards several more. I'm very happy with that, and I plan to set 10-12 new goals for 2010.
2008: I used All Consuming to make a list of resolution/goals last year. Mostly, they are underway or more long-term. I've done well, all in all. I also had a goal of watching one movie and reading one book each week. I made the movie goal (I'm at 69 movies for the year right now), but am falling short on the book goal (currently at 49, many of which I didn't finish). And yeah, I'll make more.
2007: Last year's resolutions, or goals, really, are here. I basically failed on all counts. Bah.
I will probably answer this question more completely once I get back to Texas and my real life and all that, but basically, in 2008, I have to get my shit together financially. Really.
2006: I kept some of them, worked on others. I'll probably make more. I always make them.
2005: I already went over this, but I kept 3/4 of them from last year, and made 12 new ones for this year.
2004: I honestly can't remember.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


Yep, two cousins had babies, as well as a bunch of online friends. And me, of course.

2010: Yep, I have several online friends with 2010 babies.
2009: Over and over again. Our awesome neighbors in Texas had a little girl in August; my cousin had a beautiful baby boy on March 1, my HS friend R. had a baby girl on May 2...and there are likely some I'm forgetting.
2008: Yep, some online friends had a baby, and my cousin is expecting in February.
2007: All over the damn place! There are four new little boys in my life this year.
2006: A couple of very good online friends had babies.
2005: Nope, though some e-friends are closing in on their due date.
2004: Not that I can think of, but someone close to me did adopt.

4. Did anyone close to you die?


Nobody very close. One of my last great-aunts died last winter, and a friend lost her husband last spring. It's starting to feel like it's in the mail, which I do not like at all.

2010: No. I'm really thankful for that.
2009: Sadly, yes. My grandmother died early in the year, and we lost Leo in October.
2008: Nope. I'm starting to feel like I'm pushing my luck here...
2007: No, thank God.
2006: No.
2005: Yes.
2004: Not that I can think of.

5. What countries did you visit?

Didn't get out of the country this year, sadly.

2010: England!
2009: None again! But this one is going to change in 2010.
2008: None. :(
2007: Norway! And the airport in England.
2006: None.
2005: None.
2004: None.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?


A good job is the big one right now. A little better feeling like I've got a handle on things would be nice, too.

2010: A steady job for the whole year. A pregnancy.
2009: Once again, it's hard for me to think of something I really lacked in 2009. Time with my family is the first thing that comes to mind. I'd like to have more of that.
2008: I can't think of much I was lacking in 2008, honestly. I guess I'd like to be finished paying off the debt the most.
2007: Ability to stick to my goals. Days when my allergies are not killing me.
2006: A feeling of control.
2005: Fufilling work.
2004: An idea what I want to do with my life.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?


My son's birth, on July 1. The time my mom spent with us just before and after his birth. The three weeks we spent in Oregon in September/October.

2010: I'll remember the crazy job stuff in November and December for a long time, but not the actual dates.
2009: I turned 30 on August 28, so I'll likely remember that. Leo died in early October, but I already can't remember the day without looking it up. I thought I'd remember the day I made my last credit card payment, but I don't. It was mid-spring, I think.
2008: Once again, I got nothin' when it comes to dates.
2007: Dates almost never stick in my head.
2006: I don't tend to remember things by date.
2005: Early July--Chance died.
2004: Hrm...can't think of any particular dates. It honestly hasn't been that momentous a year.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


Surviving pregnancy and giving birth. Surviving the first few months of parenting and infant.

2010: It's come at the very end--being offered two really enticing jobs!
2009: Moving across the country with a truck full of dogs and cats, probably. Finishing paying off my CC debt. Finishing my NaNoWriMo novel.
2008: Finally paying down so much debt!
2007: Finally finishing my god-forsaken masters degree.
2006: Getting through calculus, expanding our family to include Ata and Esme.
2005: Buying the house.
2004: Rescuing the puppies.

9. What was your biggest failure?


I haven't gotten back into shape post-birth the way I'd planned or would like. I'm not crazy about my current financial situation. Neither of those are huge failures, at this point, but neither are successes, either.

2010: This period of unemployment and savings running down has certainly felt like a failure, but I don't think it will stick in my mind that way.
2009: Probably not losing more weight, though I honestly don't feel all that bad about it. In general, I've felt pretty successful this year.
2008: Not sticking with my exercising. Gotta get back to that.
2007: Losing even more control of my finances. And continuing to gain weight.
2006: Not getting out of debt.
2005: Failing to lose any substantial weight.
2004: Taking a year off from school.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?


Just the pregnancy and birth-related stuff.

2010: Nope, I've been really healthy again.
2009: No, I've been really healthy. Even my allergies are pretty well controlled.
2008: Nope.
2007: Food poisoning that was pretty much the worst thing ever. Plantar faciitis that makes me angry at God. Allergies that do the same.
2006: Nothing major.
2005: No more than usual.
2004: I smashed my toe, but nothing big.

11. What was the best thing you bought?


This is going to sound weird, probably, but the stroller caddy for Buzzy's car seat. I LOVE that thing.

2010: My super cute new car!
2009: A lot of Christmas presents for folks who could really use them. And far fewer for my family, who really don't need them.
2008: Can't think of anything major.
2007: I have no idea. Most of what I bought wasn't worth it, probably.
2006: Our Element.
2005: Again, the house.
2004: Hmm...not sure.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?


Mark's. He's stepped up into fatherhood beautifully, and he took great care of me when I was pregnant and in labor.

2010: I'm extremely proud of my friend Emily, who has done some amazing things with her life this year. Her behavior definitely deserves to be celebrated.
2009: Never thought I'd say this, but my dad's did. He's doing something selfless right now, even if there are benefits in it for him. Something I don't know if I could do. I admire it.
2008: Honestly, mine did. I have worked hard and accomplished a lot this year.
2007: My mother continues to amaze me with how she handles her constant pain with good grace. My brother seems to have grown up a lot, which is great. And I am continually inspired by the parenting of my friends N. and Z., S. and C., and S. and T.
2006: Susan's.
2005: My fellow Texans post-Katrina.
2004: Mark

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?


Congress.

2010: Maybe other people's behavior isn't depressing me like it used to, because I can't think of anybody in particular.
2009: A long time friend. It's really sad.
2008: Much of the nation's, surrounding the election.
2007: Michael Vick comes to mind right off.
2006: Most of our national and local politicians'.
2005: Where should I begin?
2004: Mine, but only on occasion. Everyone who voted for Bush.

14. Where did most of your money go?


Unemployment and baby stuff. One-two punch for sure.

2010: Expenses while nothing was coming in. And too much shopping.
2009: Moving isn't cheap. Life in NoVA in general. But a lot of it is going to savings, too. And we paid off our car.
2008: Citibank.
2007: Gah, I don't know. Stupid stuff I could have done without, mainly. Lots of thrifting. Clothes for my multiple sizes.
2006: Tuition, junk.
2005: Target and The Goodwill.
2004: To the black hole where it always goes...

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?


My kid. Mark's major publication.

2010: My friend E's pregnancy.
2009: Mark finishing his Ph.D. Moving. Working from home.
2008: Making progress. Our trip to Boston last spring.
2007: My trip to Norway. Finishing school. Discovering Buffy. BlogHer.
2006: Howell and Melinda's visit, going home in July
2005: Going to Boston, going to Ann Arbor, cutting my hair.
2004: My Midwestern adventure

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?


Hrm...probably "Simple Man."

2010: Jamey Johnson's "Stars in Alabama."
2009: The version of "John the Revelator" from Sons of Anarchy.
2008: That silly one from Juno by the Moldy Peaches comes to mind.
2007: The one Lindsey sings in Angel.
2006: The Leonard Cohen tribute soundtrack, especially the Teddy Thompson track.
2005: Nothing comes to mind.
2004: Pretty much anything by Mary Prankster

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
 a) happier or sadder?

Infinitely happier.

2010: Overall, a bit sadder.
2009: Happier. Or, at the very least, more content.
2008: happier
2007: About the same?
2006: sadder
2005: About the same, I think.
2004: happier

b) thinner or fatter?

Fatter. I was at the low, skinny point of pregnancy at this time last year.

2010: Lots fatter.
2009: A little bit thinner.
2008: thinner
2007: Fatter fatter fatter.
2006: fatter
2005: A bit fatter.
2004: fatter

c) richer or poorer?


Lots poorer.

2010: Much poorer.
2009: Substantially richer.
2008: richer
2007: Poorer. Though I actually make more money. Go me.
2006: poorer
2005: Definitely poorer.
2004: richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?


I wish I'd been able to enjoy experiencing pregnancy more. I'm not sure how much that was within my control, though.

2010: I think I just wish I'd done more overall. Less treading water, more action.
2009: Traveled, as always. I'm a broken record.
2008: I'd like to have traveled more. And gone to BlogHer. But those goals were pretty much antithetical to the debt pay down goal, so I guess I'm happy with what I did.
2007: Traveled. I always wish I had done more of that.
2006: Making the most of my time.
2005: Saving.
2004: Excercising

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?


Throwing up?

2010: Worrying.
2009: Watched TV.
2008: Worried about money.
2007: Making empty promises to myself.
2006: Shopping
2005: Spending.
2004: Sleeping

20. How did you/will you spend Christmas?


In Minnesota with Mark's family. Best Minnesota Christmas ever. It was wonderful.

2010: In Minnesota with Mark's family--it's very nice and relaxing.
2009: In Oregon. It was lovely.
2008: In Minnesota with Mark's family. Very much looking forward to it.
2007: In Oregon with the fam. It was great.
2006: With Mark's family and the dogs.
2005: I spent it with various and sundry family members.
2004: Hanging out with the extended fam

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?


Definitely.

2010: No, but I stayed in love, which is even better.
2009: Every day.
2008: With a couple of beagles, yes.
2007: No new love, but the same old love is going swimmingly, which is just as good.
2006: Yes. A couple of times. And stayed in love, too.
2005: Yes, with Leo.
2004: Didn't fall in love. Remained in love.

22. What was your favorite TV program?


Doctor Who

2010: Sons of Anarchy.
2009: Sons of Anarchy.
2008: I really loved Deadwood.
2007: Buffy Buffy Buffy!
2006: House
2005: Hrm...probably Entourage or The Wire.
2004: What Not To Wear or Plastic Surgery: Before and After

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?


I don't think so. That's refreshing.

2010: Yep, my two-day boss.
2009: Yeah. A friend's husband. Hate hate hate.
2008: Sarah Palin
2007: Michael Vick.
2006: No. But I am intensly irritated by some people I wasn't at this time last year.
2005: Yeah.
2004: Yes. I know more people now that I did at this time last year.

24. What was the best book you read?


Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Read on vacation in Florida in February.

2010: Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman
2009: I didn't read anything I really loved this year. The best book was probably The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth.
2008: Fun Home
2007: Hmm...several come to mind. The Midwife's Tale. Packinghouse Daughter. But the discovery of Marion Winik is probably the best literary thing that happened to me this year.
2006: Counting Coup
2005: Pack of Two by Caroline Knapp.
2004: The Time Traveller's Wife

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?


Hrm...not sure I'm listening to anything new. Lots and lots of classic country.

2010: Jamey Johnson
2009: I'm not sure I made any musical discoveries this year. How sad is that?
2008: Over the Rhine
2007: Grace Potter and Christine Kane.
2006: Rufus Wainwright (yep, slow on the uptake)
2005: Lyle Lovett.
2004: Mary Prankster

26. What did you want and get?


A baby. Time with my mom.

2010: A really great friend.
2009: A work-from-home job. A sold house.
2008: A lower credit card balance and a lower number on the scale.
2007: A trip to Europe. My masters.
2006: A new car, an iPod, time with my mom
2005: Leo and Atticus
2004: Time off from school, a decent job, a KitchenAid mixer

27. What did you want and not get?


A second dog. A new job.

2010: I did not magically become a thin person with a big savings account.
2009: More time in Oregon. More time with Leo.
2008: A $0 credit card balance and an even lower number on the scale.
2007: A paid off credit card.
2006: A savings account, a cure for my allergies
2005: Chance to live; a new job.
2004: A clue as to what I want out of this world, God

28. What was your favorite film of this year?


Didn't see many movies...nothing comes to mind at all.

2010: The Millenium Trilogy
2009: Watchmen. Whip It!
2008: This is England, Juno
2007: I can't think of what I saw this year that were new, but The Farmer's Wife was wonderful.
2006: Kinky Boots, The Science of Sleep
2005: Good Night, and Good Luck, Capote, Walk the Line
2004: Hmm...Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, maybe?

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?


33, and I don't think we really celebrated, but I got THREE bouquets of flowers delivered!

2010: 31, and if you guessed dinner with friends, you're right!
2009: 30, and you guessed it! Out to dinner with friends!
2008: I was 29. We went out to dinner with our friends.
2007: I went out to dinner with friends. I was 28.
2006: I was 27. Went out to a great Indian dinner with all of my local friends.
2005: We had a small dinner party at our house. I turned 26.
2004: I was 25. We went to a hilarious stage presentation/showing of Dirty Dancing and to brunch the next day

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?


A new job.

2010: Finding a satisfying job faster.
2009: I can't think of a single thing. I guess I'm really satisfied.
2008: That $0 balance.
2007: Again with the debt repayment.
2006: Getting out of debt
2005: A different job.
2004: Finding God

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?


"Maternity clothes: They Really Are That Bad." Followed by "Postpartum Dressing: It Really Is That Bad."

2010: You know, I really like scarves.
2009: Tentative steps towards dressing like a grown-up.
2008: Trouser jeans are definitely work appropriate.
2007: Can you believe I spent money on these clothes?
2006: My stomach finally catches up to my ass
2005: "The same clothes as last year, only tighter."
2004: I. love. yoga. pants.

32. What kept you sane?


In late pregnancy, my mom. My online friends.

2010: My online peeps. My Mark. My animals.
2009: My amazing circle of online friends. Writing.
2008: The animals. My online pals.
2007: The animals. Mark, much of the time. Blogging.
2006: My dogs. My iPod.
2005: Mark, my pets.
2004: Chancey.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?


Nobody comes to mind.

2010: I haven't been paying a whole lot of attention to public figures lately, I guess, because I can't think of anybody.
2009: Michelle Obama, maybe. I'd love to have that kind of grace.
2008: Obama.
2007: Spike.
2006: Zidane
2005: Viscerally, Angelina Jolie and Adrian Grenier. Emotionally, Johnny Cash.
2004: I'd have to go with Angelina Jolie. Again. Still.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?


The presidential election.

2010: I was pretty stoked about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
2009: Health care "reform," natch.
2008: The presidential election.
2007: Would you hate me if I said I stopped caring?
2006: Local arts funding
2005: capital punishment
2004: Capital punishment

35. Who did you miss?


Always Leo. My family.

2010: Still Leo.
2009: Leo.
2008: The same people I always do. The Nichols', my mom.
2007: My mom. I always miss her.
2006: Tony. Sandy.
2005: Chance.
2004: My mom

36. Who was the best new person you met?


My son.

2010: Erin.
2009: Beck. :)
2008: I'm not sure I met anyone new this year...
2007: Hmm....I have made some excellent new online friends. And I am awfully fond of my new small friends.
2006: Minnesota group
2005: Hrm...lots of people, but my two sistercousin's fabulous boyfriends, Jeff and Eric, come to mind right now, since I just saw them.
2004: Em/Brooke/Terri/Flea/Eisbar. It was a great trip.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

Being someone's mother IS something different.

2010: Even in a job interview, be who you are. If you don't, they'll find out eventually.
2009: My life isn't what I'm planning, it's what I'm doing, right here, right now. There is never going to be enough time.
2008: The struggle doesn't ever get easier.
2007: It is not enough to say you are going to do something. You have to actually do it. And international travel is so not that hard.
2006: It is better, sometimes, to be kind than to be right.
2005: Never underestimate the power of dog.
2004: That I actually can make a difference in someone's/something's life with a little effort.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I'm a mother
And I take like a mother
I understand blood
And I understand pain
There can be no life without it
Never doubt it
I'm a mother

2010: Well, he hands you a nickel/And he hands you a dime/And he asks you with a grin/If you're havin' a good time
2009: Who knows what the future holds/Or where the cards may fall/But if you don't come out west and see/You'll never know at all
2008: We sure are cute for two ugly people.
2007: Four legs good, two legs bad.
2006: "If I've got to remember that's a fine memory."
2005: "This is home/it's where I want to be/this is home/let's make a family."
2004: I'll come back to that one. Have to think on it.

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The making of my Mom Uniform

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As I've been hinting, my style has gone way, way downhill since the baby was born. The combination of having a body on which very few of the items in my closet fit and having nowhere in particular I have to be, save my couch, has led me to some habits that are...slovenly, really. I knew this was a possibility--there are countless blogs dedicated to forcing oneself out of the Mommy clothing rut. And so, when I finally lifted my head this week and decided it was time to do something about it, I knew more or less where to start. The Mom Uniform.

Many style experts suggest a "uniform" as a way to make sure you look put together with minimal time and effort investment. Debra Ronca writes for TLC, "Your mom uniform should be comfortable, functional and stylish all at the same time." Personal stylist Susan Wagner writes for Parentables, "A successful Mom Uniform does two things: it makes you look great, and it makes your life easy." That all sounds good, right? Both sources go on to give specific advice. Ronca has the following five suggestions:

1. Repeat, repeat, repeat!
2. Purchase comfortable shoes.
3. Pick a mom fashion idol.
4. Keep your changing figure in mind.
5. Pick easy care fabrics.

Wagner is a bit more specific, offering three possible Mom Uniform options:

1. Jeans and a sweater
2. A dress
3. Consistent separates.

Both experts suggest buying multiples of pieces that work well for your life and figure, and both emphasize that the key to making the Mom Uniform work is knowing, before you ever attempt to get dressed, how to put your formula into practice, and having the pieces available to do so. Again, seems like sound advice.

A general Google search on the Mom Uniform got me a lot of different ideas. Gwyneth Paltrow discusses it on her blog, Goop, where she makes adjustments through her day, starting with just a tank top and leggings and ending up with outfits worthy of meetings or her appearance on Oprah. Her first additions, though, made the most sense to me. The mom uniform she suggests here is one that can easily be budget modified for those of us who don't have Gwyenth's money. Sweater dress+leggings+tall boots. Nothing is universally flattering, but this looks good on a lot of people, and it's very comfortable and wearable.

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Image via Goop.com.

Shana at Ain't No Mom Jeans is pretty much the master of the many variations of Mom Uniforms. I love her blog--she hits it out of the park most of the time. She makes lots of Mom Uniform suggestions, but I loved one recent one on how to "glam up" your Momiform (her term, not mine!) for the holidays. Her basic uniform is a button down plaid shirt, skinny jeans, and short moto boots, and to make it party worth, she swaps the blue jeans for black, boots for heels, and piles on glitzy accessories. Pretty darn easy!

In another celebrity-centered post, Melissa at All Things Chic takes a look at Kelly Ripa's Mom Uniform. Kelly's looks like a bit more effort to me, but it's still doable--bootcut jeans, tank, jacket, heels, accessories. I think swapping the heels for flats would work, and that's really all it would take to make this a reasonable look for most of our day-to-day lives.

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Image via All Things Chic.

I've told you before that Already Pretty is one of my very favorite style blogs. Though she's not a mom herself, Sal doesn't neglect us! Back in May, she had fellow blogger Shannon Hyland-Tassava write a guest post about easy style formulas for on-the-go moms. Shannon gives three possible formulas, all of which are great:
1. Jeans+cute flats+striped tee+bright scarf+big bag (modified in the winter/fall by replacing the flats with tall boots and throwing a jacket over the top)
2. Dress+flats or boots+cardigan
3. Casual skirt+tee+skimmers/flats/driving moccasins (in the fall/winter, add tights and replace shoes with boots)

After I searched out the professional and blogger opinions, I asked a group of mom friends what sorts of Mom Uniforms they see around them, or wear themselves. I got similar responses.

Mom Uniform #1: skinny jeans, tunic sweater, riding boots

Mom Uniform--skinny jeans, tunic sweater, riding boots

This one is basically the same as the one Gwyenth Paltrow suggests. Very doable, very flexible, comfortable, etc. The only issue I see here is that the tunic top/sweater is not the best thing in the world for nursing.

Mom Uniform #2: skinny jeans, tee/tank, cardigan, flats

Mom Uniform--high waisted skinny jeans, flats, tee or tank, cardigan

Again, quite doable, infinitely flexible, and this one is a bit better on the nursing front, since the tee or tank can be pulled up while the cardigan still offers some coverage. The issue I see here is that skinny jeans without a long top are out of some of our comfort zones.

Mom Uniform #3: Bootcut jeans, tank, flats, cardigan, scarf

Mom Uniform--bootcut jeans, flats, tank, cardigan, scarf

I like this one because it offers a non-skinny jean option, and because the scarf stands in for jewelry for those of us who are dealing with grabby baby hands. It offers the same nursing coverage as the previous one, but may cause a little bit less butt-related angst.

Mom Uniform #4: jersey wrap dress, tights or leggings, cardigan, boots

Mom Uniform--jersey dress, tights/leggings, boots, cardigan

This is probably my favorite of the Mom Uniforms, because it's the most nursing friendly (all hail the wrap dress!) and the combination of a jersey dress and leggings really does feel like pajamas. It solves the problem of looking put together without sacrificing any comfort or functionality, and there are tons of options for how you could tailor this look to your personal style.

I'm still working on my specific Mom Uniform. I realized that I had to start with at least getting a few cheap pieces that fit me correctly, so I've done a bit of shopping lately and came home with new skinny jeans (Curvy Skinny Jeans from NY & Company, they're great), new boots, and a handful of brightly colored tees and tanks. I have cardigans that still fit, and a bunch of scarves, so that's what I am going with for now. I'm on the lookout for jersey dresses and/or tunic tops, though, so it's definitely a work in progress.

How about all of you readers? Do you have a Mom Uniform? What about non-moms, do you dress by a formula? What works best for you?

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Practical stocking stuffer ideas from the P&G eStore

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In my last few stocking stuffer posts, one thing I've mentioned a few times is the benefit of including a few practical items among your stocking stuffers. Sure, these are things either you or the recipient would have bought anyway, but wrapping them and putting them in a stocking makes them fun! Today, I am pleased to offer you one new option for getting your mitts on these practical stocking stuffers--the P&G eStore. The eStore allows you to order P&G products online, both individually and in "bundles." There are some great products available, and several promotional offers available, including 15% off first-time orders with coupon code A9Z-MN5-KY3-ISA and free shipping on all orders over $25. Each order also comes with free samples (something for which I am truly a sucker).

So, what kind of products and bundles are available? Well, here are a couple of my favorites:

Simply Beautiful Bundle
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For $39.99, you get a 15.2 oz Olay Quench In-Shower Body Lotion, 30 count Olay Sensitive Wet Cleansing Cloths, anOlay Total Effects 7-in-1 Tone Correcting UV Moisturizer Product, a 12 oz Olay Quench Body Wash, a Secret Clinical Strength Light & Fresh - Advanced Solid Antiperspirant/Deodorant, and a CoverGirl LashBlast 24HR Mascara in Black. As a bonus, you also get 400 Pampers Gifts to Grow points!

Power Xmas Day Fun Cruisers Bundle
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Maybe it's just my house, but diapers and batteries are things we always, always, always need. For $36.99, this bundle contains a package of Pampers Cruisers diapers, 8 count Duracell Coppertop AAA Batteries, 8 count Duracell Coppertop AA Batteries, 8 count Duracell Coppertop C Alkaline Batteries, and 8 count Duracell Coppertop D Alkaline Batteries. That ought to keep all those new Christmas toys charged up!

Smooth Style Bundle
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Finally, a guy-centric stocking stuffer, as those always seem to be the most difficult to come up with. For $19.99, you get a Gillette Fusion ProGlide 3-in-1 Styler, a 5.9 oz tube of Gillette Fusion ProGlide Clear Shave Gel, and a code for a free 1-year subscription to Details magazine (I LOVE magazine subscriptions as gifts).

Obviously, I am obsessed with gifts right now, but the eStore is available year-round, and I can definitely see how it would be useful for getting your day-to-day supplies to your door easily at non-holiday crunch times. I like the bundle concept a lot, and it isn't just giftables, there are also bundles of everything from Crest products to telling combinations of diapers and laundry detergent. I encourage folks to check the eStore out and see how it compares, along the lines of price and convenience, to wherever you're getting your P&G essentials now.

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Christmas Ornaments I Love

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Christmas tree ornaments is not a subject I have previously given a ton of thought. We've had a tree of some sort most years (though often it was of the potted rosemary variety), and it's always been decorated, but mostly with some little dog ornaments I found at CVS one year and not a lot else. I wasn't even familiar with the Hallmark Keepsake ornament collections until someone brought them to my attention this year. Just not really my jam.

However. This year, I've been paying attention to ornaments. In part, this is because we have a big (well, full-sized, not huge) tree and it looked a little bit sparse when I first decorated it, so I wanted to buy a few more "filler" ornaments for it, and in part it's because I want to get Emil some sort of "baby's first Christmas" ornament, but I hate every single one of those I have seen, so it's become a bit of a search. Anyway, as I've been paying attention, I've realize something--I really like Christmas tree ornaments. A lot.

So I thought I'd share a few of my favorites. These are all commonly available ones, nothing special order or super expensive or anything. And yes, even a couple of Hallmark additions!

A World of Christmas Ornaments

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More stocking stuffers on a budget: Big Lots

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More stocking stuffers on a budget: Dollar Tree

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After Julia asked about handmade stocking stuffers, I got to thinking about cost-effective stocking stuffers and where one would get them. My first thought? Dollar Tree! I've been a dollar store fan since I was a kid (imagine that, me?), and Dollar Tree, where everything really is $1, is my favorite chain. So, I went and looked around a couple of local Dollar Tree locations to see what I could see, and I found plenty of fun stocking stuffers for kids and adults. Candy, obviously, is always a hit, and there was the usual selection of little games and toys, but I think you can find really fun stuff by thinking a bit outside the box. A few of my favorite ideas?

Best Dollar Store Stocking Stuffers for Kids

Best Dollar Store Stocking Stuffers for Adults

The more I think about stocking stuffers, the more I think spending a lot is really not necessary. The trick, as I see it, is to use a mix of the practical (toothbrushes and socks) and the fun (small games and toys). Stocking stuffers can be as silly or as mundane as you'd like, and if they're wrapped up in a stocking with a bunch of other things, they'll still be fun. It's fine for them to be single use, or not to be of the highest quality, as they're just as much about the experience of the stocking as about the gifts themselves. While that balance is fairly easy to strike with kids, who tend to like crappy disposable toys anyway (McDonald's Happy Meal toys, anyone?), it's harder with adults. It is, however, still doable. My Dollar Tree adult stocking stuffer finds tended toward the practical, but I imagine those items supplemented heavily with candy and small, possibly retro toys (a slinky, maybe, or jacks). The best part? A stocking, be it for a kid or grown-up, can easily be filled for $10. I can get behind that. And while you're at the dollar store, don't forget to grab wrapping supplies and lots of cheap tape!

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