Thursday, October 29, 2015

I Gave The Sheriff My Word

One of the promises I made to myself, when I started writing this blog a few months ago, was that I would always be honest but kind in everything I said. At times, this has been more nerve wracking to do than I expected. It's one thing to talk honestly with your girlfriends, they're known territory. You don't have to worry about filtering your thoughts. You'll get a pass if something you say comes out wrong. They know what's in your heart and what you probably meant to say in the first place. But with a blog, it's different. You need to be careful to say what you mean not what you meant. So on that note, I've got something to say. I do not like Halloween.
I recognize that for most people them's fighting words, but here's the thing. Halloween involves anything and everything that can make a mother's life crazy. Let's start with the most obvious part. If I'm doing my math correctly, Halloween will fall on a school night 75% of the time.  C'mon- that's just wrong and we all know it. It means juggling schoolwork and candy drama on the same day. In all the years that I've been in charge of running that show, it's always been a challenge. I've thought long and hard about it and I think I've come up with a solution to this problem. Thanksgiving has managed to get its own designated day of the week each year. How about we do the same for Halloween? I say we pick the last Saturday of the month and call it a done deal. Everybody wins.
Next up to bat? The pumpkin carving. Who's idea was it to give knives to small children so they could cut holes in hard round objects? In theory, this seems like it should be a fun project. But in reality?  Every mother knows this is a pastime fraught with danger. It's like watching a train wreck happen in slow motion, praying no one gets hurt.
Assuming no one loses a finger, there's the next part where they have to pull out slimy strands of pumpkin guts. Invariably, it manages to get stuck on every surface of your kitchen.  I'm not blaming the kids- it's not their fault. That stuff just seems to get everywhere, no matter how careful everyone tries to be. Even the roasted pumpkin seeds can't make up for the debris this activity leaves behind. 
Next, we have to talk about the candy - it always comes back to the candy. First off, there's the candy you pass out. If you buy this too early, it'll be gone before you know it. Kiddos are like bloodhounds when it comes to this stuff- they can't help but follow the trail. You can always try buying the candy they don't like, but I have to advise against this practice. If you choose that route, then you'll be stuck eating Bit-O-Honey instead of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups after they go to bed. Take it from me ladies, life's too short to eat Bit-O-Honey when you could be eating peanut butter cups.

Finally, there's the issue of all the candy they bring home from trick or treating. Look at that boy's face. That's the face of a boy who feels like he's won the lottery at a Willy Wonka factory. So much candy, so little time.  As his mama, it's my job to be the one who has to cut him off at the pass. Being the candy police is not a fun job, especially when your kids are as cute as mine. Because I don't know if you've noticed, but I have really cute kids.
I mean, look at them. That's seriously cute.  Okay, so maybe I've been focusing on the wrong things all along. Perhaps I've been too quick to judge. Maybe it's not about the details. Halloween should probably be about my kids. About how excited they get when October rolls around. About how much they look forward to dressing up and heading out to find that one house that gives out "the really good candy".
 Yep, ain't no bones about it. I'm going to approach Halloween differently this year. You can take that to the bank because I've given the sheriff my word. And when I give my word, I really mean it. 



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Carbohydrates For The Long Haul

There's an old University of Texas A&M adage that goes like this:

From the outside looking in, 
you won't understand it.
From the inside looking out, 
you can't explain it.

This saying is used by the Fightin' Texas Aggies to explain the culture of their school - a south Texas college steeped in  tradition. The students (past and present) hold these traditions near and dear to their hearts, but some of them are a bit curious. For example, Aggie sports fans never boo at any game. They just won't do it. What they do instead is hiss. So, in a football game, if a ref makes a bad call or LSU makes a dirty play (not like that's ever gonna happen), the fans will hiss between their teeth at decibel one hundred. I have no idea how this tradition started, but it is solidly in place.
 Do not be that Aggie's girlfriend who, at a home game, accidentally yells out Boo! at the top of her lungs. Ignorance of the law is no protection. Even if that girl was from Texas Woman's University where they didn't even have football. Even if it was in the 80's and she had an awesome spiral perm and Brooke Shield eyebrows.  Those finer points will not help you. You know things are getting serious when a great perm can't save a Texas girl's reputation.

As we were watching the A&M game this weekend, I started thinking about how my own whack-a-doodle little family had a lot in common with that Fightin' Ags quote. It's often hard to explain to others what it's like to be part of a McFarland family. I don't mean this in a snooty tooty kinda way. Believe me when I say, we are more like the Heck family than the Kennedys. It's just sometimes hard to describe the wonderful/crazy/frenetic/goofy pace at which a McFarland family moves, but here's my best shot. 
First things first. I come from the Wade family. Unlike how my own crew works, the Wade family danced to a much slower tune. As kids, we spent entire Saturday mornings watching cartoons until lunch time. Sunday afternoons were for hanging out in your room and reading comic books until dinner. Low key and laid back 24/7. Here is a picture of our family when I was in middle school. Not only am I rocking the perfect Kristy McNichol hairdo, look how relaxed we all look. Despite having four kiddos only 2 years apart from each other, my parents look calm and cool. 
 Now compare the kids in that picture to the ones in this one. Yep, this is the perfect image of how my family rolls.  
We are a loud and goofy bunch.  That's just what happens when a family that loves to talk (Wade) marries into a family that never sits still (McFarland). It's one of those things that people either love to be around or can only tolerate in small doses. Believe me when I say, I get it. You won't hurt my feelings if you need to jump off the McFarland train after a few hours. Just know you always have a saved seat if you want to jump back on.
We also have a ton of kids in my clan. Lots of kids means lots of busy-ness and a certain amount of chaos.  Pandemonium is textbook McFarland and something I wouldn't change for the world.  My brother, Ted, described it best when he said, "When they're all together, it's definitely rowdy, but it's a happy kind of rowdy." Lots of cousins= tons of shoes on the floor, not much space left on the couch, and Nerf bullets in every corner. Graham and I learned early on, football games were the magic key to hosting large gatherings of our family. Not only are they great photo ops, it helps to burn off all the carbs the kids have been raiding from the pantry.
 Speaking of carbs, if it doesn't involve tons of food, it's definitely not a McFarland thing. Most of this is my fault. I have a soft spot for cooking for people and I always make way too much. But the truth is, that doesn't really bother me. There's just something so satisfying about making a meal that feeds everyone you love up to the brim. Piled around the tables, I get to enjoy watching them as they laugh and talk over each other. It doesn't matter if it's pizza on paper plates or Thanksgiving turkey on china, as long as we're all together, I'm the happiest girl in town.
Which brings me back to square one. What is the best way to describe what it's like to be around the McFarland clan? I guess it boils down to this. We are all about the people we love. Without a doubt, I know the greatest gift I have been given in this life is the gift of my family. It is not something I take for granted and I do my best to handle it gently every day. We may look different from one another, but make no mistake, we are a package deal and we are in it for the long haul.  A loud, wonderful, food-filled long haul. Even looking in from the outside, that should be easy to understand.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Hills Are Alive

I'm one of those nosy kind of girls who's always asking her friends, "What's your favorite food?" or "What's your favorite movie of all time?" I've found you can learn so much about a person by how they answer these kinds of questions. For example, if someone says their favorite type of food includes anything from the dairy category, I know my search is over and we are destined to be life long friends. If someone were to ask me the same kinds of questions, they might be surprised by my answers. I don't usually fit into any one box. I'm kinda all over the board when it comes to what strikes my fancy. Which I know is so surprising to anyone reading this. Truly, I recognize I have a reputation of predictable behavior based on logic and linear thinking. *Cough, cough* Let's be honest here, it's pretty much common knowledge that my decision making skills are more in line with Dug the dog from UP.
But, I do think I have an instinct for recognizing a good thing when I see it.  So today, I thought I'd share some of my favorite things- minus the musical score from The Sound of Music. Here is a running list, in no particular order.
My Favorite Movie of All Time- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I remember watching this movie for the first time on AMC about 25 years ago. It was so poignant and tenderhearted that it took my breath away. It's the story of a young Irish girl and her  family living in the tenements of Brooklyn at the turn of the century.  It is everything I adore in a movie- sweet, sad, loving, and it has a wonderful ending. If I could only watch one movie for the rest of my life, this would be it.
My Favorite Thing To Read- The Wall Street Journal. In my opinion, this is one of the last places to find independent journalism in print (or online for that matter). I read it every morning from front to back. It keeps me current on everything from global financial issues to trends in medicine to the latest fashion reviews. It's the one stop shop. Love it.
My Favorite Song-  Let's Stay Together by Al Green.  There's just something about the way Al Green sings this song that makes me feel like everything is gonna be good in the world. When I hear it, I can't help but dance in my chair and sing along- even if I'm in a room full of people at the DMV. It's just that good.
My Favorite Mom Tip of All Time- I can't remember who first shared this tip with me, but I can honestly say, when my children were little, it changed my life. Here it is. Keep all of your kiddos church clothes (including shoes and belts) in YOUR closet. This way, when Sunday morning rolls around, everything you need to get the kids ready is right at your finger tips. Before I started doing this, I can not tell you how many Sunday mornings we would end up frantically looking for that one shoe, hoping not to be late for church. Listening to this simple piece of advice eliminated that hassle and made getting my little ones all dressed in time for Mass a snap.
My Favorite Mom Treat To Make The Kids- Graham Crackers and Mocha Frosting. I'm not quite sure why, but these simple treats are my boys' favorite- hands down. They would rather eat these for a snack than anything else. They are easy to put together and there's something retro about them that speaks to my inner Carol Brady.


My Favorite Hairspray Of All Time- Chi Helmet Head. I have what my hairdresser describes as fine hair. It's the type of hair that looks amazing right after you dry it, but within 5 minutes of being outside, falls flatter than Kansas farmland. I have searched tirelessly over the years trying to find a product that would keep my hair in place without making me look like Jimmy Johnson. Easier said than done, until Chi came to the rescue. It's not cheap, but it works like nobody's business. Chi is my BFF.
Beautiful Kindness Quote.:
My Favorite Quote Right Now- As my poor children can attest, I love to quote insightful people from all walks of life and my favorite lines are always changing. But for right now, Buddha has my vote.  Such a short phrase, but so powerful. Wouldn't it be amazing if we all talked to each other this way?
My Favorite Thing To Do With Christmas Cards- One of the best parts of Christmas is getting cards in the mail with all those darling pictures of your friends and family.  But what do you do with all those cards come January? My sweet friend, Jan, came up with an ingenious idea of what to do with all the photos you get over Christmas . Instead of tossing them out, she tapes them to the inside of one of her kitchen cabinets. This way, she gets to see everyone's smiling faces all year long. Such a good idea! I do it every year.


So there you have it. Not quite rainbows on roses or whiskers on kittens, but I'm feeling pretty confident that even Julie Andrews would agree with my list of Favorite Things.  How could she not love Al Green or graham crackers with frosting?? All I'm saying is this- if those aren't two of her favorite things, she has bigger problems than Maria.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

One Match Fire

The summer after I graduated from high school, my big sister, Christi,  and I got jobs at a camp outside of Wagoner, Oklahoma. It was run by the Camp Fire Girls at the time and was appropriately named Camp Waluhili. For those of you not fluent in Native American languages, this roughly translates into "beautiful maidens camping by the waterside". It was off the beaten path and near Oologah Lake, which made it an oasis in the scorching Oklahoma summers.  On Sunday evening, the girls would show up on buses with their sleeping bags and little Barbie suitcases and eight third graders would become my sole responsibility for 6 days.

Here's a picture of us in front of the main lodge. For those of you under 25 years of age, despite how it looks, there's not a 1960's filter on this photo.  At the time, this was as good as it got with my fancy disc camera. And the line in the middle? That's  because a panorama option could only be mastered by taping three pictures together and hoping for the best. I'm the one in the middle on the right with the mini mullet and my sister is the red head in the cute polo shirt. She looks like she just walked out of a Ralph Lauren ad. How did she manage that at camp? That's just wrong. 


Here is my cabin- Conte. I had the left side of the cabin with my little chicadees and my buddy counselor, Pam, had the right. I want to say up front, thank you Camp Fire for putting a running toilet in each of these cabins. There was no way any of my girls would have headed out in the dark to take care of business- even if I had walked in front of them shouldering two flood lights. No way, no how. Outside each cabin was a fire pit where we would have our cookouts. The real feather in your cap as a counselor was if you could start your camp fire with only one match. Lo and behold, this was my hidden talent! I was a solid one match kinda girl and had serious skill with the camp fire. By the end of the summer, I still had matches in the box they had given me the first week.

Which brings me to this weekend. Things are cooling off here in Shamong and I have been itching to impress my Eagle Scout (aka Graham 1.0) with my fire making abilities. First things first, though- we needed fire wood. We found a local guy named Joe, who said he would cut us a bargain if we loaded and unloaded the logs ourselves. We've got a truck and we've got muscle, so it was a done deal.

A newbie at buying firewood, I learned a lot from Joe. Apparently, there are different kinds of wood to choose from based on what you want or need. One log is not the same as the other. Cherry wood smells best when burning, oak logs burn slow, but locust burns the slowest and puts off the most heat.
We decided to go with a mixed batch which included all three types of logs. Graham backed up the truck, the boys put on their gloves, and they got down to business tossing those babies in the back of the Ford.

Look at those faces- so serious. It took all I had not to break out into song - "Oh, I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay. I work all night and I sleep all day." Please, please say you know this song. Don't tell me you can't recite this Monty Python skit by heart. I just might not recover.
We bought a whole cord of wood. A half cord filled the entire bed of the truck, so we ended up having to make two trips from Joe's place to our house.

Once we got home, the guys started unloading and stacking. It was like playing a huge game of Janga, but with splinters. After about 45 minutes they were all done, having filled up a rack on the back patio as well as lining up everything nice and neat under these bushes. I now have enough wood to make Paul Bunyan proud.


Here's the first fire of the year. So relaxing and peaceful. Sitting there in front of it, I could not motivate myself to get up and do anything productive. I may have even tried to convince the guys that cereal would be the perfect choice for dinner.  Everyone loves carbs, right? But I know, looking at this picture, there's really only one thing on your mind. Does the girl still have game? Is she still a campfire master? Let's just say this. I may have lost the mullet, but I still only needed one match.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chocolate and Power Tools

My middle boy (aka Mr. Childhood Eyebrow Drama) had Back to School Night yesterday evening at his new high school. As the mama, my attendance to this kind of event is basically mandatory, but here's the thing. Even though I know this sounds terrible, the truth is I hate going to high school Back to School Night. 

 I know it's the easiest way to meet all the new teachers of my kid. I understand it's designed to help parents comprehend the expectations and goals of each class. You know what else I know? By the time your kiddo gets to high school, Back to School Night is an exercise in frustration tolerance for parents and teachers alike. It's like a bad episode of the Great Race, but with hundreds of middle age contestants packed into narrow hallways. To say I'm not a fan is an understatement.

You know who has awesome Back To School Nights, though? Elementary schools, that's who. There, you find cute notes on your kid's desk- your little one telling you how much they love you and how they hope you have a nice evening. It's where I saw an ingenious 1st grade teacher pass out chocolate kisses to every parent who walked through her door. Now that's an example of tax dollars well spent. Unlike in high school, the elementary version of Back to School allows you to sit (albeit in an Oompa Loompa sized chair) and relax for 20 to 30 minutes. The teacher goes over everything you need to know, without your ever having to leave the room. 

Unfortunately, that's not how it works in high school. Why can't we have a modified version of that for the big kids? Do we really need to power walk through the halls in 7 minute intervals for an entire evening? Other than reaching our target heart rates, I'm not sure what the benefit is to all that rushing around.


In previous years, I've had the sole pleasure of navigating through these nights. If my math is correct, I've been to dozens of these- more than 30 at last count if you include elementary and middle school programs. This year, however; Graham's work schedule has opened up and he has more free time in the evenings. Despite my look of incredulity, he said he wanted to come along this year to check out the new school. "Besides," he said, "it should be fun."


And, as is usually the case with Graham's intuition, he was right. It actually was fun, seeing it through his eyes. I found myself reconsidering the value of Back To School Night. Perhaps it was important for me to walk through my kiddo's day to appreciate all this school had to offer. We got to see first hand how impressive the wood shop was, with all it's open space and power tools. A definite luxury for a public school system and something you rarely see in Texas anymore. Each teacher we met was professional but friendly. They made every effort to get straight to the point and tell us everything we needed to know in the 4 minutes they were allotted. It was organized, informative,  and relatively painless. I hate to admit it, but it was an evening well spent. I'm glad we went. There's only one thing I would suggest they change for next year- someone should definitely be in charge of passing out Hershey's kisses.



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Need New Lenses

I follow a blogger whose site is called Miss Mustard Seed. I stumbled across it by accident one morning, but instantly fell in love with the farmhouse style of her pictures. Marian is Miss Mustard Seed and she is crazy talented. This girl can do it all - she shows you how to make slip covers, how to design a room, how to paint reclaimed furniture, and in her spare time, runs her own retail business. What I love most about her, though, is her unique sense of whimsy and the "homey-ness" evident in all the projects she does. 

mms-1050

A few months ago, she was talking about a book she was reading called, Love The Home You Have by Melissa Michaels. I had seen this book mentioned on other blogs, so I looked it up on Amazon. The main intent of this book is to help guide and make clear to homeowners that ANY house can be your favorite house.  You don't have to be in the perfect neighborhood, with the perfect number of picture windows, or have tree lined streets to love the home you're in. It's all about perspective and intention on your part. 

I have to admit, I was intrigued as to why Marian was even reading a book like this. The pictures she posted on the blog of her house looked like something out of a magazine. But in a weird way, it made me a little relieved that someone as talented and creative as she was could also get stuck feeling "meh" about her home. That she could have that same sense of "I wish that was different" or "If only this room had more...". After months of working on our home here in New Jersey, I can sometimes laser focus on what still needs to be done and tune out what is amazing about this house. There's a chapter in the book where Ms. Michaels encourages you to go into each room of your home and look at it "through the lens of gratitude." This idea totally struck me as tailor made for where I am in my life right now, so I decided to take her advice.


Maybe it's because I spend so much of my day washing and folding clothes, but the laundry room was the first place I decided to check out. To my surprise, it did feel different when I looked at it through a lens of gratitude. Instead of noticing the uneven paint on the walls, what jumped out at me was this peaceful view. In every other house we've lived, the laundry room was always tucked away, back in some dark corner. It invariably felt like a place where clothes went to die and I was their funeral director. But not in this house. In this home, I have nature to keep me company while I fold socks and sheets. A definite bonus and something I had neglected to appreciate.



Next to check out? The living room. From the very first time I walked into this house, this room felt like a place where my whole crew could relax and hang out. But again, for most of the time since we've been here, I've been focused on what's left to fix instead of enjoying the room as it is now. Like how pretty the hardwood floors are. Or how my entire family can fit comfortably on that big green monster we call a couch. How the color blue on the walls is exactly what I was looking for, despite the fact I had to make a running stab at describing it for the paint guy at Lowes. 


And it has this- a real wood burning fireplace. Even when we lived in Denver, gas fireplaces were the only choice we had. What a gift to have my whole family piled on the green monster while we enjoy this view. Yes, there are still four patches on the ceiling that need to be painted, but this room isn't a "someday this will be great" kind of room . And the real kicker? It never was. With all it's knicks and scratches, this sweet home in Sha-Nowhere was already providing the comfort and warmth we needed. It was the home base we depended on in the midst of everything being new.  And for that, I can't help but be grateful.




Friday, October 9, 2015

Talking To My Younger Me

 My first born is a daughter any mother would love to call her own. And yet, over the years, I've come to think of myself as more of a Boy Mom than a Girl Mom. Not because I enjoy doing boy type activities (Hardly- my idea of "roughing it" is having to drink coffee without Splenda), but because my three youngest kiddos are 100% boy, 100% of the time. 


 Early on, as the mother of these three monkeys, I recognized I basically had two choices. Either I embrace the happy chaos that comes with raising boys or I would be forever exhausted trying to squelch it.  Boys are fabulous, stinky, crazy, warmhearted, messy, and loud creatures. They are unpredictable and always on the move. But now that my sons are getting older, I look back at those chaotic years with clearer eyes. I wish I could tell my "younger me" what the "older me" now knows. This is what I would tell her.


Boys have a driving need to want to challenge themselves. They are wired to attempt anything and everything that, as their mother, you think will be too difficult. Case in point, they will play roller hockey in a freezing garage in shorts and no shoes. They will convince their 5 year old brother to play goalie while they shoot hockey balls at him from less than ten feet away. And what would I tell a younger Cindy? What Graham knew then and convinced me to do against my better judgement at the time. Do not interfere. Let them do it. Although it is rough and tumble, they're learning to overcome adversity when the odds are stacked against them. It teaches them to keep trying, even when they're unsure of the outcome. And bonus? Your 5 year old will strut around the house all week, feeling like he's Patrick Roy.



Another thing I would tell myself is this. There will come a day when your boys will be able to eat more food than you think is humanly possible. It's okay. Totally normal. Don't worry so much about when they eat and focus more on what they eat. I promise you, when they are teenagers, you will seriously google the word "tapeworm" and wonder if that's what you're dealing with. I have seen my boys devour a mammoth bag of pretzels in one sitting and, less than an hour later, eat an entire large pepperoni pizza. If your sons are still little, map out your closest Costco and start saving for a second refrigerator - it will help you stay ahead of the game. Feed them good, healthy food as often as you can and everything will be okay.


One of the toughest parts of being a Boy Mom is boys get hurt- a lot. Despite your constant care and attention, they will fall off things, skid on the pavement, and bonk their noggins. There will be entire stretches of years where they will be walking bruises and every family picture will have a boy face smiling back at you that has some kind of scab on it. I used to sweat it, worrying that our holiday and birthday pictures weren't "perfect". I tried incessantly to keep them clean and still before we took photos. So much wasted energy on my part and completely unnecessary. It is not the "perfect" pictures I love to look at over and over again. It is the goofy, "unperfect", and sometimes eyebrowless  ones that I hold dear and that bring me the most joy. 



There is one thing "younger me" did that I wouldn't change, although I do wish I had figured it out earlier. By the time my red headed kiddo showed up on the scene, I began to understand an important concept crucial to raising little men. I would like to take credit for this nugget of knowledge, but the truth is, 38 Special came up with it first. With boys, it's best to hold on loosely, but don't let go. This sometimes went against my natural instinct to maintain order, but if what they were doing didn't hurt anything or anybody, I tried to stay hands off. This sometimes resulted in my living room becoming the home to a 4 foot tall coffee cup pyramid for days at a time. And more than once, I went grocery shopping in HEB with a child in full football gear - helmet and pads included. But by giving them a little bit of leeway and a little bit of control, it helped to keep the power struggles at bay. There will be times you have to pull in on the reins and squash their plans for their own benefit. But if at all possible, let them be in charge of their own choices.  Grab your girlfriends, pull up a chair, and enjoy their enthusiasm. 


Even if sometimes that enthusiasm results in your youngest showing up in the kitchen sporting brown markers, bushy eyebrows, and belly buttons.



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

It's Just A Little Something

Let me start out with this admission- I am one lucky bug. My girlfriends are amazing. They're the kind of women who make you meals for months after the birth of your fourth child because they think you might need some help with dinner. They listen intently and with kind eyes while I tell the same story over and over again. They are smart, gracious, and generous. These friends are one of the greatest treasures in my life. If you have girlfriends like this, you know what I mean.

So on their birthday or on a "Just Because Day", how do you find that special gift to show them how much they mean to you? Here are some ideas I've found that will take all the guess work out of that gift hunt. Each image is linked up to the corresponding store web site. What can I say? I'm here to serve.

Small Cream Rustic Flower Heart:

Rustic Heart Ornaments- These cuties are from an online company in the U.K., but I just couldn't resist. At only around $4 each, they were too darling to pass up- even if they do have to make the leap across the ocean to get to you. They would look precious on a Christmas tree, on the edge of a mirror or even just hanging on the wall. 

Preach!:

Britney Mug - The truth is, some mornings are just easier to cope with than others. Since coffee is the most critical of the five major food groups, this is the kind of gift she'll be glad to use every day. When the going gets tough, this mug can help her keep everything in perspective and a smile on her face.

The Original Turn Off Your Straightener™ Door Mat / Area Rug Hand Painted 18x30 or 20x34
Straightener Door Mat- I've been wanting one of these mats since the first time it caught my eye on Pinterest.  Totally cute, totally girl, and totally funny- the girlfriend trifecta.

Book (Wine) Club Tote Bag:

Book Club Tote- Although I'm no longer in a book club (there was some complicated rule about more reading, less talking that did me in), I love the mindset of this tote. As women, we are always schlepping stuff around, so why not do it with style? This bag is functional and hilarious- always a win in my book.
Gentle Reminders Pencils- White and Gold, Set of 6

Gentle Reminder Pencils- These pencils are great to have on hand because they are the perfect "I just need a little something" gift. They would be ideal for a simple pick me up when she's feeling blue, a new job interview, or to help slog her way through homework with the kiddos. Just wrap a cute grosgrain ribbon around these babies and you're all done.


Coffee And Mascara:

Coffee & Mascara Tshirt- There's no such thing as too many shirts in a woman's closet and this graphic t-shirt deserves to be front and center. It cracks me up and would look cool with jeans or a pencil skirt. Just make sure to buy one for yourself while you're at it.

Spread A Little Love - Butter Knife - Vintage Hand Stamped - 2012 forsuchatimedesigns - Home and hostess gift

Stamped Butter Knife- I think this butter knife is so sweet. You could use it for almost anything and it's something that will remind her of how much she means to you every time she pulls it out of the silverware drawer. And that, as Martha Stewart would say, is a very good thing.
Train Of Thought Notepad- I found this idea in a store called Ben's Garden. It had tons of quirky and funny notepads, but this one was hands down my favorite- I laughed out loud when I read it. It's a little bit on the pricey side, but it wins major bonus points for wit.
Fine Little Day:

Cat Chase Wallet- This is also something I found from across the pond- this time in the Netherlands. The leather of this wallet is butter soft and the kitten just makes me smile every time I look at it. As my grandmother would say, it just has a certain je ne sais quoi that I couldn't resist, so on the list it went.


And that, my dears, as they say in the trade, is that. You can't go wrong with anything I've put on this list. Your girlfriends are gonna love any item you choose.  But before I let you go, I just want to add one more thing. Everyone loves to get presents, that's true. But the best gift of all? The one thing they will cherish most from you?  Is the gift of your friendship. And that's something you can give them every day.