Holiday Gift Ideas for New Relationships

16 12 2014
Photo: blog.navut.com

Photo: blog.navut.com

The other week, one of my favorite readers left the following comment: “You should talk about holiday gift ideas for men. That’s usually hard to do when it’s the first year you’re together and on a budget!”

Well, A) she’s absolutely right! It’s super hard to figure out what to get your new boo for the holidays. But also B) I was sadly mistaken that I’d already done a post about this. Nope. The horror!! And you all know how much I love a holiday blog post, so that’s kind of crazy. Alas, I’ve already talked about whether you should get a gift and things to do with your relatively new boo during the holidays and what I’d want (lol), but never suggestions on gifts for someone else.

Me: What’s a really nice watch you would suggest someone get a man for less than $600?

Friend: Oooh, let’s see: Movado (bold line), Boss, Burberry… wait, who are you buying a $600 watch for?

Me: Ummm have we met?! Not anyone anytime soon lol. This is a question from my sister.

Friend: Oh okay, just checking.

Me: Yea, she’s been in a relationship for 3 years now. So she’s bout that life. I…. have not and am not.

Friend: lol good… but back to these watches…

You see how quickly that conversation went left for a bit? It’s because my friend knows that there’s level to this ish. Y’all, please don’t think you should be out buying a $600 watch for someone you’ve been dating for 3 months. That’s not how this works. (That’s not how any of this works.)

However, if you want to get that special someone a gift and/or you checked out the diagram I featured before on the site, and it says you should, then here are some suggestions I have for you (and just your luck, I’ve had my fair share of new relationships around the holidays):

Keep it small and cute, but show you’ve been listening

One of my first adult relationships during the holidays involved a fella who loved cookies. So what did I do? I baked some for real, from scratch homemade cookies using two ingredients I knew he liked (because he talked about them a lot): chocolate and pecans. They were a hit! They weren’t that expensive to make, but once I wrapped them up nicely, tied the plastic with a pretty a bow, and placed it in a cute cookie tin, he was absolutely gaga for them. In fact, he talked about them for years afterward. Total cost? Less than $15. Look on his face: priceless. Your idea doesn’t have to be homemade cookies, but it can be something that doesn’t cost a lot, but that he talks about often. Maybe he likes a particular cologne or a Wii game or has a favorite football team — listen out for clues and then go for that!

Go for something DIY that he would like, not you…

Okay, this is for my DIY girls like me — Pinterest can be your best friend during this time. But don’t get too fancy with it and forget who the gift is really for here. My best DIY suggestion? A coupon booklet of cheap/free activities he can ask you to do later on. A) it shows you want there to be a later on, B) it shows your creativity, and C) the items should all be things he’d want to actually do, so he’ll be excited. Possible examples include a home cooked meal, a massage, a free zirbert (yes, I put that on there lol), you rooting for his favorite team at least once (especially if you don’t normally like them), etc…

Try an activity you can both attend

Do you both like go-cart racing? Or a specific band or artist? Maybe you’ve both mentioned seeing a particular Broadway play? Why not get two tickets to whatever that activity is so that it’s a gift for him, but it’s still something you can do together. This gift is also versatile, so it can be tickets to something worth $10 each or up to like $100, depending on just how “new” the relationship is.

And if all else fails, and you’ve already introduced sex into your relationship…

Tape a big bow on you, and enjoy a different kind of present with each other.

That one is pretty self-explanatory lol.

Any other suggestions?? I hope these helped for all my newbies out there! Happy holiday shopping!

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Shoe Tip: Boot Tricks for Wider Calves

10 12 2014
Photo credit: Me

Photo credit: Me

Like most women, I looove a good boot in the fall/winter. And especially one that goes all the way up my calves. Yes honey!

However, along with my love of shoes, long ago, I was also blessed with larger than normal calves. So it’s a STRUGGLE trying to find boots that fit me that aren’t of the ankle variety. No shade to the ankle boots, but that’s not always the look I’m going for.

Well, three years ago, I lucked up on a pair of grey boots that fit all the way to my knees. It was like a little angel came down and showed me that I, too, could rock cute, flat boots like the rest of the fashionable women out there. And since then, I’ve tried to find other ways to make this fashion staple work. So for any other women out there who have wider calves, I hope these tips I’ve come across help you out as well.

Grommets and Ribbon and Hammers, Oh my: I saw this DIY project on Pinterest (of course) and was a little skeptical, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to try. Lo and behold, after some serious arm work putting the grommets through the material, I came out with rain boots that fit up to my knees with a pretty snazzy design in the back. The plus side — it doesn’t even look like it’s a project done to make the boots wearable! I’ve received several compliments just walking down the street on my boots (and not just from women with wider calves).

Don’t forget your local cobbler: I talked about the importance of finding a cobbler before, right? But even I didn’t think about the possibility of using that cobbler to add an extender into the shaft of your boots until someone else suggested it to me. And when she did, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Duh! Of course my cobbler could do that! It made so much sense… and so little sense that I’d spent all that time searching and searching when he could have been helping me out all along.

The Internet is your friend: Chances are if your calves are more than 14 inches around, you won’t find a cute pair of boots in the store in your size. But… you can find plenty of options on the Internet. From WomanWithin.com to OneStopPlus.com to Zulily.com and even Amazon.com, there are lots of places that sell wide calf, extra wide calf, and extra extra wide calf boots. I got my rain boots from this wonderful place called SpyLoveBuy! The plus side is that there’s a good amount of variety in these boots. The downside is that it’s online, so you have to gauge the quality of the material off of the reviews (always read the reviews folks!). But if you find a good pair, do what I didn’t do — buy a few of them in different colors. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. I’m dying now that my grey boots are reaching the end of their run, and no one sells them anymore.

Another caveat to buying boots online — I’ve learned that when you are shorter than 5’3 (like me!), you need to measure up an inch when looking at the size chart for the shaft of your boots. To wit: “boots get wider closer to the top of the boot. If you’re short, the widest part of your calf is going to be down lower than someone who is tall. So you’re going to have to get a wider boot than someone who is 5’8″, even if you have the exact calf circumference as that person.”

I hope these tips help my girls with more athletic or wider calves get out there and get their full calf boots on. And if you have any other tips to share, feel free to do so in the comments!





Shoe Tip: What to Wear when in a Bridal Party

21 10 2014

So I know last week I talked about wedding talk finally being over, but before I completely ended it on the blog for now, I had to impart just a bit of wisdom to those still needing to participate in weddings this year.

And that is — don’t choose cute over comfort.

I know. I know that’s haaaaard for us women to do. But let me tell you a little story about 5 bridesmaids who all wore different variations of gold sandals for a wedding. One chose a pair of 5 inch heels, another chose a pair she’d recently purchased but hadn’t broken in yet, another chose an old pair that she’d maybe worn 4 times, another chose 4 inch stilettos, and the last chose a pair with 1.5 inch heels.

One guess as to who was the only bridesmaid not dying to kick off her shoes as soon as pictures were taken after the ceremony.

And here’s why — because being in a bridal party is totally different than anything else you will have to do while wearing your heels. So you may be used to walking in high heels normally, but are you used to standing straight in them for 20 to 40 minutes with no break?

Are you used to then posing in them for several minutes?

Or running errands in them?

Maybe you are. But probably not.

Listen, I consider myself somewhat an expert on heels, and I was totally not the one who chose the sensible ones. I was the one who thought to myself, “well I wear anywhere between 3.5 to 4.5 inch heels on a normal basis, so these 3 inchers will be perfect.”

And they were… until about minute 20 of standing up straight in them. That’s about the time I became fidgety, and trust me — you don’t want to be the fidgety bridesmaid in front of 150 guests.

So take my advice – choose comfort (and don’t forget to still break them in before the wedding). That doesn’t mean your shoes can’t be cute. The bridesmaid who chose comfort? Her shoes were still cute. They just weren’t what we normally see as cute. They weren’t sky high heels. They weren’t winning any awards for best stiletto. But she was able to walk and stand in them without crying inside. And when it comes to being in a bridal party, that’s a major win indeed.





Tip: How to Get Out of Your Work Black Pump Rut

23 09 2014
Photo: musingsofacitygirl.com

Nothing wrong with these… unless you find yourself wearing them EVERY DAY. Photo: musingsofacitygirl.com

Look at your shoes.

That’s right. Go ahead and look at them right now.

If you’re a woman and either on your way to work or at work — answer these quick questions: Are they black pumps? And are they the same ones you pretty much wear every day??

If so, this post is for you.

It’s really easy to get into the work black pump rut. I’ve fallen into it a few times myself, and we all know the extensive color collection I have in my shoe closet.

But why is it so easy? And how do you get out of it?

Well the first question has a simple answer. Anyone who goes to work outside of their home knows how a routine makes life much easier. You figure things out like, “if I make my lunch the night before and pick out my outfit before I go to bed, I can wake up and be out of the house in less than 45 minutes.”

But then life happens, and you realize often the last thing you want to do is pick out your clothes and all the accessories before heading to bed. So what do you do? Wake up the next morning and throw some black pumps on. Or leave your black pumps at work because you already know that’s what you’re going to wear every.single.day.

It’s easy. It’s simple. It’s convenient.

It’s also extremely boring.

So how do you fix it once you realize you’re in the rut?

I have a few quick and easy tips.

1: If you have shoes already at work, bring them home. This will force you to have to think about the shoes you’re wearing prior to when you get to the office.

2: Start to plan (maybe even just once a week) your outfit based on your shoes. Most of us do this the other way. We pick out our clothes and see what shoes match or don’t clash, but that makes it really easy for the shoes to become a non-factor.

When you plan your clothes around the shoes, you put the shoe at the forefront of your mind, and make it less likely that you’ll end up wearing some boring old thing.

3: Be creative. I know what you’re thinking. Some of you are saying, “but I don’t work in a creative environment, so I can’t rock my favorite hot pink pumps. Maybe not, but you can find other ways to wear even a black heel. Maybe it’s a textured heel instead of regular leather, or one with a peep-toe or a suede pointed toe.

My point is creativity doesn’t have to mean loud; it just means different.

4: Remember to have fun. One of the easiest ways to have fun (for me lol) is to play around in my shoe closet. I would suggest every woman take some time out to remember why you bought the ones you have in your repertoire. Pull a few out, and strut around your place. See how great they look on your feet. I bet that will make you want to figure out a way for others to see them on your feet more often as well.

Any other tips you all can think of that I missed? And do you ever find yourself in such a rut? If so, how do you get out of it?

PS: Thanks again to everyone who has offered their prayers, thoughts, and kind words in light of what’s been going on my life recently. It’s more appreciated than I could ever say. 





Tips for My Future Husband — #19

28 08 2014

Let’s travel together.

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was in Paris with some of my favorites, and while we were casually strolling down the street, eating crepes and drinking hot wine, I saw a couple in their wedding attire running down the street and kissing. It was in a very playful manner, and I believe they were taking wedding photos, but more importantly — it was the first time on the trip I’d seen an obvious couple doing obvious couple things. In fact, we’d been there for a few days at that point, but even though we were supposedly in the City of Love, it was the first time I’d noticed relationship love in the city.

Of course, from that point forward, every where I turned, I saw couples — doing couple things. Now, I wasn’t sure if those folks were making out in the plain of day on sidewalks and streets because they were so compelled by each other and the spirit of the city, they couldn’t control themselves, or if it was because they were in Paris, so they felt a need to make out in the plain of day on sidewalks and streets. Because you know — Paris.

Either way, even though it was a for a split second, seeing all those couples made me think about how it would be to experience Paris with my future boo. I quickly snapped out of it, because I mean, a) I was in Paris, and I was going to friggin’ enjoy that experience no matter who I was with; and b) I was with some of my favorites, so it wasn’t like I was lacking in the company department. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it crossed my mind. Or if I tried to say I hadn’t thought about it on other trips since then as well.

I know, I know — that’s not the feminist thing to say. I’m supposed to say something like, “I don’t need no man to travel with me!” And I don’t, and I’ve loved every single trip I’ve taken by myself and with my friends. And even when I’m married one day, I will still want to spend some time traveling on my own and/or with just my friends. But… I also want to add traveling with future hubby into the equation.

I used to feel bad about that desire. Like I was less than a woman for thinking of how that experience would be. For contemplating what we could learn from each other while out seeing the world (or even just another part of the East Coast lol). For thinking of how much fun we’d have. But I soon got over that feeling too. Maybe not as quickly as my feeling in Paris, but I eventually realized that beating myself up over something that’s a natural desire was just a waste of time. And I got further confirmation when I saw an article titled the 7 Benefits of Traveling Together as a Couple recently.

Well hot damn, I thought! I knew there was some good reasoning behind my desire.

And wouldn’t you know some of the first benefits they listed were things I’d thought of as good reasons to travel with your boo-thang anyway? Things like the fact that it causes you all to get to know each other even better, you’re able to make new memories together, and you find out how you work together as a team. Add all those things to the fact that I just genuinely love traveling and exploring different cities and cultures and would love to share that joy with my guy — and I just knew I had to add this one to the tips series.

So yea, I want us to travel together before we become Mr. and Mrs. D-Magic, and I’m okay with saying that now.

Heck, before we even think about becoming Mr. and Mrs, I want us to travel together. We don’t have to wait until we have rings to go out and have fun.





Shoe Tip: Picking Your Best Formal Shoe

17 06 2014

My handy photo guide lol

Later this week I have the pleasure of attending a gala with one of my besties, and while I was shopping in my closet for the best formal/evening shoes to wear, it dawned on me — it’s summer! Which means it’s also officially wedding season! And officially just the right time to give some tips for picking the best formal/evening shoes for whatever events you all may have to attend soon.

NOTE: I mentioned weddings here, but a) clearly I’m going to a gala, so these work for all formal occasions, and b) if you are attending a wedding at 2pm, formal shoes may not be your best bet. Always, always, always start off your choices by looking at what attire is requested.

Which brings me to my first point…

1) Formal attire has been requested, so yes that includes your shoes — Whether you’re shopping in your closet like me, perusing online catalogs, or traipsing through the mall, the minute you know you need to wear formal attire, certain styles are instantly disqualified (yes, even if you love them!).

These include, but are not limited to:

– chunky heeled shoes

– gladiator heels that extend to your knee

– (most) exposed platform heels

– really wacky and wild colors

2) Make sure your shoes don’t look cheap — This should be an all the time tip, but it’s especially important when wearing formal attire. The last thing you want to do is have on a gown that looks like it cost $500 with shoes that look like they cost $5. They can actually cost $5, but they shouldn’t look like it.

This means no pleather, most likely. And probably not a lot of patent leather looks will work either (although there are exceptions). I wore cobalt blue patent leather and suede stilettos to a wedding a couple weeks ago, but again, that was an exception.

3) Look for something with a sleek, classic style — You know, I’m a fan of a pointed toe or slightly rounded toe classic pump without a platform, but that’s not the only style that fits here. As you saw above, I didn’t even include it as one of my “yes” looks. You could also go for a nice sandal heel, a pump with satin or classic embellishments like flowers or sequins, a slingback, or even in rare cases — a bootie (if it’s dressy)!

4) But whatever you choose, make sure you can walk in them with your dress — True story: While picking my shoes, I was stuck between two pairs of shoes that I really wanted to wear — a pair of black, pointed toe, suede stilettos without a platform and a pair of black suede sandal heels with a bow that ties across my toes. I was leaning towards the sandals, until I tried them on with my dress.

Now, a word about my dress: it purposely sweeps the floor, but it also has a lot of tulle at the bottom. When I attempted to walk with the bow sandals in the dress, I quickly found out a fatal flaw with my plan — by almost falling flat on my face! The bows kept getting caught in the fabric. So while the shoes are beautiful, I will not be wearing them with this dress. That’s not something I would have known prior to simply putting them on with the gown.

But this tip also applies to comfort. Chances are you may have to change into flats by the end of the night, but your chosen shoes shouldn’t be so uncomfortable that you need to change them within an hour. They serve no purpose, even as fierce as they are, lying under the table and not on your feet. Trust me on this.

5) Forget what’s trendy and go with what looks best on YOU — Part of why I love a pump is because I know that style elongates the look of my legs. When you’re 5’1, you learn these things. You also learn that ankle straps don’t work as well. But that’s me — you have to try on shoes to see what looks best on you.

Those are all the tips I have for today, but I know some of y’all probably have more. Share them in the comments!! And let me know if you’re attending a formal event this summer. I’d love to known what you all end up wearing.





Tips for My Future Husband — #18

24 04 2014
Picture me and future hubby on the floor with our "vintage" records spread out on the floor like this... LOL Photo: http://www.menshealth.co.uk/

Picture me and future hubby on the floor with our “vintage” records spread out on the floor like this… LOL
Photo: http://www.menshealth.co.uk/

Have a love for a variety of musical genres.

While I was in L.A. for my spring vacay the other week, I had the opportunity to experience the awesomeness that was the Grammy Museum. And actually, I got so caught up in the museum, I found myself 45 minutes behind my planned schedule to get ready for my next activity. How did this happen? Well because I’d mistakenly only given myself 2 1/2 hours to explore the whole museum and spent the first two hours making my way through the equivalent of one floor out of the four offered.

To be clear, I made it onto a 2nd floor (which was technically the 3rd floor since you start at the 4th and make your way down), but between what I had to skip on the 4th floor and what little I was able to see on the 3rd floor once I realized my timing error, let’s just say — on my next trip to L.A., I need to schedule at least 5 hours just to finish the damn museum.

Part of why it took me so long to get through that first floor (Floor #4) was that everything was interactive or involved some king of audio or visual component throughout the entire museum. So you could very easily find yourself in one station for 30 minutes before you looked up and realized, “oh sh*t, I’ve been at this one station for 30 minutes!”

The other reason it took me so long to get through the stations is because I’ve since realized just how much I love music. Here’s where if you know me you probably said duh. But not just certain types of music — all of it. I was at one particular station that let you start with a music genre and go from that genre to related ones by connecting them on a screen based on your choices. Well, obviously there are numerous genres available, and I found myself wanting to hear (and dance) to them all.

I’m also an observer, though. So I noticed that certain demographics were coming up to their personal screens at the station and picking some genres more than others. For example, a young Black couple came over and picked mostly urban-music related genres, things like Hip Hop, R&B, New Jack Swing, etc… Then I noticed an older White couple that looked to be from a southern state, and they were picking genres like Country, Classical Rock, and Christian. A younger group of friends? They picked Pop, Rap, and Punk Rock.

Me? Oh, I jammed to all of the ones those folks picked and more. Before I knew it, I’d gone through at least 25 genres, stopping to jam to some Jazz, Heavy Metal, Grunge, Old School Hip Hop, West Coast Hip Hop, Gospel, Contemporary Gospel, Zydeco, Swing, Folk, Blues, Bee Bop and more. Obviously, this was one of the stations that took up a bunch of my time. And the reason it did so was because after I got finished listening to and dancing to one genre, I just couldn’t tear myself away before checking out another.

Until suddenly, I became a little sad, because there I was dancing to my heart’s content for probably 50 minutes when I’d seen all these other couples and groups of people come to the station and leave within ten. Essentially after listening to 2 to 3 things. That was all they interested in, I wondered. Now, it could have been that they were just better with their time management in the museum than I was, but I took it as them being done with what they wanted to hear. And it got me to thinking about how I would hate it if I had been there with future hubby and he’d wanted to move on that quickly.

Nah, I’d like him to be just as caught up with me! Grooving to the smooth tunes of Anita Baker, snapping our fingers to a Teddy Riley produced hit, doing the Kid N Play to well, Kid N Play, using our hand microphones to belt out a Pavarotti classic, air guitarring to Joni Mitchell, putting two fingers in the air for Pac while we two-stepped and more. I’d love him to have such an eclectic appreciation for music that I’d be wowed by how much stuff he knew. And we’d spend hours just enjoying the tunes and the sounds massaging our ears.

That can probably only happen if future hubby has an appreciation for a wide variety of music like I do. So here’s hoping he will — or at least he’ll enjoy watching me love it so much, he won’t try to stop the musical party.