Monday, 16 December 2013

13 Frugal, Romantic Gifts that Mean a Lot

Since it is the season of giving, and I am all about being cheap frugal, I thought I would share a little list I have compiled for gifts for your significant other.  Each Gift should cost you anywhere from free (using your own grunt work and things around the house) to less than $50, and that would be being extravagant.

You may want to send the link to this to your spouse, that way there are no excuses, he has seen the list, and all he has to do is pick one and personalise it to you.

I am basically giving him Awesome Husband Bonus Points!  ( And none of these involve flowers! unless you want them too)

Frugal not Cheap, Romantic Gifts that Mean a Lot

1. Create a book out of all of your communications while dating. 

When Hubby and I started dating, and even before that,  we had to send a lot of emails back and forth to each other.  He went away on a missions trip after we had only been dating for a few months and once he got back we continued to email back and forth as well as call and message.

A year or so ago I went through both of our emails and found any that we had still  (apparently we are both email hoarders so it was really simple to find them all).  It was really easy to just search his name or email on my own email to find any that he had sent to me, and the reverse on his email.  Then I went through them all and put them in order on a word document and sent it to a printers to have it printed and bound. The book ended with a new letter from me to him.  

 I didn't do anything fancy with the book but I am sure there are a number of sites that you could use to create a book or keepsake with your notes or emails.

2. Create a Memory Box

If you and your spouse have been together for a while I am sure that there are tons of ticket stubs and knickknacks around that would be great as keepsakes, if you could ever find them and get them into one spot.
There are a number of great ways to do this.

  1. Use a Shadow Box and fill it with the items. (Like the one found here)
  2. Find a nice wooden keepsake box and fill it with knickknacks from trips or other special mementos.
  3. Use a photo book or book with envelope pockets to store your trinkets.
  4. Create a Scrapbook. There are many tutorials on line for simple scrapbooks that are made like accordions or done as a small fold out scrapbook.

The most important part of doing this is that you need to write a note or two talking about what you loved about your time together on that outing and why its a favourite memory.
If you don't write a note, set aside time to go through the book/memory box together so that you still have a chance to share your feelings about the memories.

3. Compile Special Dates or Places

I don't mean special dates that you went on but dates (15/12/13) that are important to you.  Ie.  the date you met, your first kiss, the day that you got married, when your kids were born etc.  There are also a ton of different ways that you can create this gift. Here are just a few:
  1. Create an art print of special dates to you, there are a lot of sites and stores that can do this for you but you can also do it fairly easily by yourself.  You can find a great tutorial at this site here  or you can purchase them from some great Etsy stores by searching " special dates prints"
  2. A fun way to make this would be to create a gift using a map to mark the special places where you met, grew up, owned your first home, travelled, etc. 
  3. For a fun way to make this gift for a guy who loves to use gps and maps but without having to cut up a bunch of maps and things, you could make a print using all of the gps coordinates of the special to you places in your life.  A good tool to find the locations is found here 

4. Creatively List the Reasons You Love Them

There are quite a few tutorials out there of how to make this using a deck of cards, but I think that the best way is to find something that is special and significant to your relationship.
You could:

  • simply fill a jar with little notes folded in origami or tied up. 

  • Write on a deck of playing cards or any kind of card game that is significant to you. ( there are also a few sites like shutterfly where you can create your own deck of cards with your picture on it) 
  • You could buy a bag of their favourite wrapped candy and attach to it or write on each with the reasons you love them.  Then if you seal up the bag like it was never opened, what seems like simple bag of treats becomes a huge surprise of romance. 
  • If you have an old copy of a favourite book that they love, you could write on the top or bottom of every page or every chapter if it is a really long book. If you don't want to write in the book you could always leave sticky notes on pages of a book they are currently reading. 

  • If your spouse is a big tea drinker, you could even sneak into the box of tea bags and leave notes on each of them. 
  • For a Golf Lover, a bag of golf balls with notes written on each. 
  • You could even buy a box of Bandaids and write on each one, that way next time they are hurt they not only get the bandaid, they get to see your love written on their pain. 
  • You get the idea, find something specific not just the same as everyone else. 

5. Set up a Scavenger Hunt

Depending on the skill and amount of adventure your spouse enjoys, you could do this by setting up a simple clue by clue hunt (extra points if you use romantic spots you have visited before and you use "remember when..." kind of clues). But if they are on the more adventurous side (or they just love their new gps) you could use the same website as listed above in idea 3, to create a geocaching type scavenger hunt.

6. Create a What I Love About You Gift Basket or Bucket  ( this one could get pricey, it just depends on what you fill your basket with) 

This is one that needs a little more visual explanation and will take a little more work for you to pull off well.
The idea here is to fill the basket with things that signify what you love about them.  ( they don't have to be puns but it is kinda fun to try)
For example:
( this would be good gifts for a Handyman type Husband)   (Each is listed as Item - Note)

  •  A telescoping Magnet (for picking up dropped screws or something?) -  You are magnetic. 
  • A small bag/jar of nuts (the metal ones) - Nuts about You
  • Work Gloves - You are so Handy 
  • Roll of Shop Towels - My Mess Doesn't Scare You (or a sexier twist- I love to Get Dirty with You)
  • Measuring Tape - No one Measures up to You
Again this is something that should be built around Who they are and what they value.  The basket could be filled with things that are all similar theme or they could just be a jumble of things they would really enjoy.  Even a basket full of their favourite candy or chocolate can be something wonderful when it is covered in meaningful notes and reasons you love them. 

7. Write them a Song. 
There are a lot of helpful tools on the Internet that can give you tips and tricks on how to create your own song. 

8. Make them a Mixtape style CD.
It doesn't take long to search for and download a few great memorable songs, but what sets your mixtape CD apart is that you can take voice memos with your phone or computer. Put the track of you speaking to your spouse before or after each song telling them why the song makes you think of them or why that time you first heard it, danced to it, etc., was so special and how you will never forget that special moment. 

Give a gift that lasts all year. 

9. Buy them a new Organiser and write a love note in each day or each week. 

10. Find a desktop calendar that has space to write a note in and write a little something for your spouse on every day. 

11. Fill a jar with their favourite treat and a whole bunch of notes (365 of the two together) Give them the option of taking a treat or a sweet nothing each day of the year.

12. Write 52 Love Letters and send one weekly on the same day every week, all year long. ( the big price in this is the postage) Who doesn't love getting real snail mail.  You could include photos of fond memories or special times to give you more ideas of what to write about.   Some great tips are found here on the Art of Manliness Website.

13.  Create a Book or Journal with fun Date Ideas on Every Page.  
If you do this one as a Scrap Book you can add a photo of you on the date as you complete it. The goal here is to actually do dates that you are going to want to do so that you can accomplish every one in the book. (ie don't add - ride a hot air balloon,  unless you really mean to do it. )

Basically anything you give as a gift will receive extra value of meaningfulness if:

  • Its for no reason other than that you were thinking of them
  • It is specific to them 
  • It took effort and time to bring it together
  • It expresses your love in a new and different way. 

Hope this was helpful,  and happy Gift Giving. 


Friday, 13 December 2013

"So Proud of My Naked Self"

I know, I know. That title is kinda ridiculous. But trust me, it fits this post perfectly.

So the other day my kids were eating their breakfast in their pj's. My little man was just covered in milk and cereal by the time he was done so instead of just wiping his face and hands I pulled of his pj's as I wiped him off.  Of course, wanting to be like her little brother, Little A asked if she could have a naked time too and yanked off her pj's before I could say otherwise.  

The two kids went running circles around our main floor of our house E man in his diaper and Little A completely buck.  They were laughing and squealing and having so much fun chasing each other and surprising each other as they jumped out from around a corner.  

After a few minutes of this loud and hilarious playtime, Little A slumped her shoulders and sauntered to the couch sighing, "I am just too tired and I need to have a rest." She climbed up on the sofa and laid down for only a moment before exclaiming, " I am so proud."

I chuckled to myself and asked, "Why are you so proud?"

She sighs again and says, " I am just so proud of myself mommy.  I just am so proud of my naked self."

I choked down my laughter as I watched her glance down at her little "naked self" with a smile on her face. 

Then she looked up at me and asked, " Mommy, are you proud of your naked self?"

A long pause.

", yeah honey I guess so," was all I could get out. And then she ran up to go and get dressed and ready for the day and I went to go and change the little mans diaper. 

But those words kind of haunted me all day. 

Well, those words and the fact that I had such a hard time telling her that yes I am proud. 

But the whole honest truth is, I am not proud of my naked self.  I don't know if I have been for a very long time. I don't know if I ever was, or if I was, I don't know when I lost it. 

Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.
Genesis 2:25

Most people would tell you that they have struggled with a negative self image at some time in there lives. Some people would tell you that they have always struggled with a negative self image.  But, most people would also then blame the media; magazines, music,  tv, and advertising (and lets not forget pornography, both still and film), for their negative view of themselves (and others). 

I totally agree, what we see is totally messed up. But I think that by blaming our problems  on those things we are just seeing the symptom and not the cause of that symptom. 

We live in a messed up world. 

The day that Eve was tempted into her sin and shared that sin with Adam, the whole world changed. It is not that we made a choice and allowed sin into the world, sin was already there hiding out of the presence of the Lord and waiting for its chance to entice and corrupt. The choice that Adam and Eve made did not allow sin into the world, it created a divide between us and the Father, they gave into sin and their evil desires and they divided themselves from God allowing sin to be more evident and easier to fall into. 

When in the presence of the Lord, there cannot be sin. 

Increase the divide between you and God and sin and darkness have freedom to roam. 

Our world encourages a great divide between faith and life.  Most regular church attenders go to church on Sunday and spend the rest of their lives doing exactly what the rest of the world does.  

We are not walking with the Father. Our world, our society,  does not walk with the Father. Sin, Death and Darkness are allowed to roam free, no, not just to roam free, but to run rampant.  So no, it is not the fault of the media or all of the horrible things that we see, the fault lies with our distance from the Father.  Yes, those things suck to see, and yes they do horrible injustice to our image of ourselves.  


When we dwell near the Father, we hear his voice. And his voice speaks truth, it speaks truth that flows into us like honey to our souls and water to our dry and cracked neglected spirits.  His words build us up.  

Please sit back and allow His words to nourish your soul and to give you pride, not in yourself but in your naked beauty, the beauty that is unhindered, unashamed, and designed purely by a Father that adores you enough to make you how you are. 
(Not all of these are whole verses and emphasis has been added) 

Did you know that you were created.  

For we are his masterpiece,
Ephesians 2:10

Did you know that you were created intricately and exactly how you were intended to be.  

My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

Psalms 139:15-16

That He knows you intimately, that even down to the number of hairs on your head, He knows you. 

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 
Luke 12:7

Did you know that God made you in His image, that you were created to be like him.  That he has both a masculine, powerful side and a feminine, gentle and kind side. That neither is more like him, but that both together make a more whole view of who God really is. 

So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

We are created in the image of God. A God that creates beautiful things and is beautiful.

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I will look for: that I may live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to look upon the beauty of the Lord, and to worship in His holy house.
Psalm 27:4

When God created man, he sat back and saw that it was very good. Not just good, Very good. 

God saw all that He had made and it was very good.
Genesis 1:31

Be reminded, that nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

God loves the work of his hands (you), he does not see a fault in what he has created, what you are looking at in the mirror and judging as a flaw or fault, the maker sees as perfection, the marks of the one that created you, different than any other creation.

How foolish can you be?
    He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay!
Should the created thing say of the one who made it,
    “He didn’t make me”?
Does a jar ever say,
    “The potter who made me is stupid”?

Isaiah 29:16

Feeling proud of our naked selves, or our selves in general, does not come from us working out or trying to love ourselves more, or anything we can really do on our own. 

The only way to really feel pride in who we are is to feel pride in Who made you, why they made you, and that the one Who made you for a reason specific to you, loves you unconditionally. 

Go run around naked for a little while, its kinda freeing.  (just close the curtains and lock the door)  ;)
This photo was taken recently, it was a candid taken of me as a bridesmaid in my friends wedding.  I was really nervous about being in the wedding party because I have been feeling large and round as my belly grows, but I am also a good number larger than any of the rest of the wedding party.   This photo was snapped when I was unaware and it is my favourite picture of myself in a very long time.  Despite how I felt about how I looked that day,  (large, awkward, and in a lot of discomfort from wearing a dress that was too small) I can look at this picture and actually see beauty in myself.
Does help that the photographers were amazing!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Not Anxious? Well, Maybe a Little

Sorry for the quiet here on the blog, but looking at what will be happening in our lives over the few weeks and months, I think it will be history miss if I can find time and energy to sit still and have anything meaning full end up on here.

Our lives have been moving very quickly in many different directions but today I will only fill you in on one.

As many of you have read or been told, last time I was pregnant I had a wonderful pregnancy but a terrible recovery after delivery.  I developed an infection from being at the hospital and it caused my body to form a blood clot on my right ovary (ovarian vein thrombosis is what they call it). It caused me tremendous pain and I hurried back to the hospital thinking that my appendix had, or was going to, burst.

After much searching and a few scary hours of thinking it could be a few different things, the doctors finally came in to tell us what it was. And that they wanted to put me on blood thinners for the next 6 months.  At the conclusion of the six months, I was tested for anything and everything under the sun that could have caused me to clot how I did. They didn't find anything.

Fast forward to this pregnancy, at 20 weeks gestation, the doctor told me that he had been talking to some colleagues about me and they had decided that the best course of action would be to likely put me on blood thinners for the remainder of my pregnancy.  My GP sent me to an OB/GYN, it took a month for me to get in to see him.  Then he decided he didn't really know the best course of action so he sent me to meet with a Haematologist. That also took another month, good thing it wasn't a serious, potentially fatal thing, like getting a blood clot, having a heart attack or stroke, that they were worried about. (I hope you caught my sarcasm)

Anyway, yesterday, I finally got in to see my Haematologist. He believes there is nothing to worry about and that this time around I should be totally fine. (This was now 10 weeks after my GP saying that I would likely need blood thinners via injections 1-2 times a day for the rest of my pregnancy)

Throughout the whole ordeal I was able to feel a great peace with everything. I knew that really nothing would be gained from my worrying and, most of the time, I felt peace.

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Matthew 6:27

Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down,
    but a good word makes him glad.

Proverbs 12:25

But one worry of the world gone and another takes its place. 

Yesterday, I also had a GP appointment. In which I commented on how differently this moves than my last two. She seems to do a lot more jerky movements and a lot less real hard kicks. Most often if I feel her move at all, it is minor shifts and adjustments like she is just trying to get comfortable. 

With Little A, I could put on music and watch my whole belly wiggle and roll as she kicked and squirmed to the music. She would also do the same thing at the sound of Hubby's voice. She just loved to move. 

I realise that every child is different as is every pregnancy so I didn't think anything of it at first. But as things continued I decided I should mention it to my GP.   He seemed a little more concerned and sent me for an ultrasound and a non stress test.  

The ultrasound was completed this morning and the non stress test this afternoon. During the ultrasound scan the Dr did what is called a biophysical profile test (BPP). The test looks for muscle tone, movement, breathing, and the amount of amniotic fluid around the baby.  Baby, (who is confirmed for sure as a girl), scored 6 out of 8 on her BPP at the ultrasound but the rest of the score comes from the non stress test.  

The reason, I was told, for her being docked the two marks was that she didn't move as much as he would have liked to have seen. He also informed me that her cord was wrapped around her throat. He said that he had to look at it a few times to make sure it wasn't wrapped around twice, at first it appeared to be but after further examination it became apparent that it was wrapped once then had the cord resting on top of the wrapped portion. 

The non stress test was interesting. Of course it could have been a lot less stressful and frustrating if the nurses I had were at least somewhat compassionate, or could have at least faked it.  Baby was hard to get a good heart rate on because she is still so small at 30 weeks, but they did eventually get a good reading and then I had to lay still for 20+ minutes while the machine watched her heart rate and movements. 

The nurses seemed uncaring about my concern or fears and treated me like I was just some silly woman who was fretting over nothing.  I tried to make it clear to them that it was actually my doctor who sent me for tests, not myself, and that he was the one that had some concerns. They just continued to tell me that maybe I should pay more attention to the movements and its probably hard to with two other kids running around. 

Sadly, the nurses were not present for my ultrasound in which they would have seen that all of the movements that their machine was picking up and they were saying I was just not feeling (I was by the way), were actually really small twitches and wiggles, not kicks like I would normally expect to be feeling. 

Anyway. I have no idea what is happening and really all of the tests and things do not tell me anything.  And if they do tell me things, most of the time there is nothing I can do to change it. 

This little girl is and has always been, in Gods hands. 

I am constantly reminded that my worrying and fear will not change a thing.  This is his baby, he has a perfect plan for it, and I just get to enjoy being a part of that plan. 

But, if you remember to, please pray for me and my little one. We have come through a lot of needless stresses and we seem to always have more added on top. 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:27

This was what I was greeted with when I woke up to go to the washroom. Hubby new that I would need a little boost and since he couldn't go with me to the tests he left me this.  It brought tears to my eyes, he is so loving.  

I kept this verse Hubby left for me with me all day and held to the truth in it.