5 stocking stuffers for $15 or less

Stockings are one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I love the challenge of finding unique items tailored to your spouse/parents/kids and also grabbing a few of their very favorite essentials that you know they can't get enough of. In our family every item in the stocking is wrapped individually which also adds to the fun and suspense. A and I normally set a pretty tight budget on stockings because all of those little items can add up quick and it also forces us to get creative and intentional about what we actually choose for each other. Intentional gift giving can take a lot of planning even when it comes down to stocking stuffers (how many of us have opened the junk drawer to find 5+ tubes of chapstick from the past 5 stockings only to throw in a couple more from this year?!).  Today on my blog I am rallying up 5 unique stocking stuffers for $15 or less to make your holiday planning simple and successful! Enjoy!

 

Rustic Recipe Box | $10

When we got married I searched high and low for a solution to our recipe card collection. I wanted a classic box that would travel through every stage of kitchen decor I am sure to experience. This simple, rustic box is perfect for us! 

When we got married I searched high and low for a solution to our recipe card collection. I wanted a classic box that would travel through every stage of kitchen decor I am sure to experience. This simple, rustic box is perfect for us! 

NC Bottle Opener | $12

I love this unique North Carolina shaped bottle opener! Perfect for him (or her)!

I love this unique North Carolina shaped bottle opener! Perfect for him (or her)!

The Magnolia Journal | $8

With Pinterst at the touch of a button I will admit I struggle with buying magazines anymore, which is why they are the PERFECT stocking stuffer! I know I want to sit back and flip through the pages of the latest Magnolia Journal with a cup of coffee in hand, but more often than not I end up chasing my tail on Pinterest trying to follow broken links and getting more overwhelmed than anything. A magazine is a great gift, and if you have a few extra dollars to spare consider buying someone a year subscription! Magazine subscriptions are the gift that keeps on giving, and they will think of you each month when it shows up at their doorstep! 

With Pinterst at the touch of a button I will admit I struggle with buying magazines anymore, which is why they are the PERFECT stocking stuffer! I know I want to sit back and flip through the pages of the latest Magnolia Journal with a cup of coffee in hand, but more often than not I end up chasing my tail on Pinterest trying to follow broken links and getting more overwhelmed than anything. A magazine is a great gift, and if you have a few extra dollars to spare consider buying someone a year subscription! Magazine subscriptions are the gift that keeps on giving, and they will think of you each month when it shows up at their doorstep! 

Hand Lettered Scripture Magnets | $5

Hand Lettered scripture magnets come in packs of 5, each pack includes five different designs! These are a great way to help you or your family memorize scripture because they live right in the hub of your home for you to look at every day! At $5 a pop, they make great gifts for teachers/secret santa/etc!

Hand Lettered scripture magnets come in packs of 5, each pack includes five different designs! These are a great way to help you or your family memorize scripture because they live right in the hub of your home for you to look at every day! At $5 a pop, they make great gifts for teachers/secret santa/etc!

Ozark Trail Tumbler | $9

I know these were all the rage last year, but I didn't want to retire it from my list, yet. Between the two of us, it felt like I attended 100 holiday parties last year that required a secret santa gift at a certain price range. This tumbler was our go-to. For only $10 its a win compared to the collectors box of hot sauce/lava lamp/crock pot (not even kidding) that gets passed around the group each year. Plus you can always use a spare to keep in the camping box/deer stand/beach bag!

I know these were all the rage last year, but I didn't want to retire it from my list, yet. Between the two of us, it felt like I attended 100 holiday parties last year that required a secret santa gift at a certain price range. This tumbler was our go-to. For only $10 its a win compared to the collectors box of hot sauce/lava lamp/crock pot (not even kidding) that gets passed around the group each year. Plus you can always use a spare to keep in the camping box/deer stand/beach bag!

What are your favorite stocking stuffers? Tell me about them in the comments!

Build, buy or rent

Moving to Shoals

First gravel delivery for our driveway, December 2016

First gravel delivery for our driveway, December 2016

I wouldn't say there was an exact moment that we decided to move home, but more of a 2 year itch that was born on countless 5 hour car rides and grew through monthly rent checks and missed birthday parties. A and I are both from large families that live about 10 minutes apart from each other and get together often. While living at the beach had mad perks, we often shared the dull ache for home. When A's work contract was about a year from completion he started prodding, wanting to make plans. I told him to hold off, we had just gotten settled into our first home and were starting to establish ourselves in a new community. I wasn't ready to look ahead. He settled for asking me every few weeks "if you had to decide right now what would you say? Stay at the coast, or move home?" The more often he asked the more often our answers lined up. "Move home." 

Our original building site

Our original building site

Fast forward through several months of conversations, pros and cons lists and questions we settled on an agreement to find land first, and move forward from there. The Lord moved through the process with us and we were able to secure the land that my grandpa grew up on, with the Ararat River in our backyard. 

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After several more months of decision making, head scratching and paper work, the real planning began. To buy, build or rent, that is the question. A and I share the dream of building a simple farmhouse, but we knew we weren't quite ready to tackle that dream. We considered buying a trailer, buying a house or renting a house until we were ready to build. We made pros and cons lists for all of these things, but none of them seemed like a great choice. 

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The only other "definite" we knew was our very long term plan to have a detached shop behind our house. This idea comes from my parents, who also have a "shop" behind their house. Its basically a detached garage that houses the tractor, tools, fishing truck, etc. After lots of back and forth we tossed around the idea of building backwards. We could build the shop first, live in it for a few years and then build the main house in front of it. 

We knew that the shop would allow us to make an investment in our property and our long term plan, while staying in the same budget we had set for renting/buying something temporarily. We could spend very close to the same amount with very careful planning, and the fact that our dads could build and plumb the entire structure. After what felt like an eternity of praying, picking our bother's brains and sending sketches of blue prints to our families we decided to move forward, and we never looked back. 

We started with our driveway, and eight months later, on August 31, 2017, we spent our first night in #thehuntershop (not counting the night we slept in the back of the truck to keep one eye on the giant burning brush pile, but that story will come later). I can't begin to thank all of our family members enough for the labor they generously poured into this project. Someone commented that it was the house that love built and I couldn't agree more. Andrew and I learned countless lessons, spent countless hours staying up too late, scrubbing caulk off our hands and took countless trips to Lowes. The work is far from over, but we are in!

The Worst Interview Ever

 

A and I recently moved back home to our shared hometown. In a lot of ways it has been like starting over with new jobs, new banks, building a new house, etc. I expected a lot of things when we left our sleepy beach town, but  what I didn't expect was the time it would take to establish a new routine, more specifically, land a new job. 
When we moved to the coast we were warned that it would be hard to find work (we moved for A's job, so this advice applied specifically to me), but were shocked and thankful when I landed my first job within a week of moving. I began working immediately and stayed with the same employer for the two years we lived there. My logic on our move was "if I can find a job in Beaufort I can definitely find a job in Winston, no sweat." 
I'll admit it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I started applying, calling and combing LinkedIn for jobs. I went on lots of interviews, met with lots of people and spent oodles of mornings praying (read: whining) to God about where I was supposed to be, and why I wasn't there yet.  Ironically one of the first interviews I had ended up being the place I accepted employment, but I didn't get to that point without a little frustration, and sometimes all you can do is laugh. 
Somewhere in the middle of all the dress pants and resume covers I ended up applying for a job with Provincial Events. The job was listed as advertising executive with a company that planned and hosted corporate events. Sounds fun, right?  
After a whirlwind of a first interview (I listened to a 10 minute sales pitch, answered that I was a leader, not a follower, and was dismissed for the next applicant), I was shocked to hear that I was selected for a second interview. I was told to report to Sam's Club with a notebook to observe and participate in a corporate event. Sam's Club? That's odd. A red flag waved in my mind, but seeing as how I was still unemployed I figured I had nothing to lose.
I show up at Sam's and I am directed to the sitting area (you know, right next to where your order a corn dog and XL slice of pizza to go with your big gulp) where I hear another rather lengthy sales pitch and am asked a few more marketing questions. Finally the "event" takes place. 
Yall. The event is literally a card table, set up in the aisle at Sams, covered with bed sheets. The interviewer tells me to stand in the corner and take notes. Then she disappears. A few minutes later I see her pacing the aisles, approaching customers and asking them to feel the sheet, asking them what size their bed is and trying to pitch these bed sheets. After about five minutes she comes over.

"how many pages of notes do you have?"

Um, almost 2

"OH! Well. I will certainly keep going. You need to take tons of notes."

Oh, ok. So, am I supposed to be following you?

"No."

*disappears again

I start thinking, If I walk out right now will she chase me? After about 2 more minutes of the same thing she comes back and promptly collects my notes and escorts me back to the hotdog stand. We sit down and she starts telling me about the levels of leadership and the executive program that they have condensed from 12 years down to 1. We talk for a minute about what the "event" was like and what I observed before I broke the golden rule of interviewing: Fake it til you make it. 

"Tell me why you think you would make a good account executive with us?"

I don't think I would.

I'm not sure who was more shocked by my response, her or me. She fumbled around a bit as I fought every urge to get up and flee the scene. She asked me a few more questions about what led me to my decision before we agreed to end the interview process and shook hands. I answered respectfully, but honestly about the way they handled applicants and interviews with sweaty hands and a shaky voice. Afterward, I immediately texted A and said, I just ended the interview. Whole thing was a scam.


Afterward I did a little more research and read that several other applicants had a similar experience, finding a listing for marketing/advertising/brand management positions that were actually a ploy to hire salesmen. Lesson here? Read Glassdoor before you go in for an interview!


A few weeks later I received an offer from one of my very first interviews, and the position that was sitting at the top of my wish list. Once again the Lord provided, but he certainly has a sense of humor doesn't he?

 

*Company name has been modified in this post.

 

5 Lessons I learned camping

“Adventure, with all its requisite danger and wildness,
is a deeply spiritual longing written into the soul of man.” 
John Eldredge

Andrew and I have been camping together a handful of times and it has only taken a few nights in the pouring down rain, squeezed into a too-tiny tent for us to nail down a some essential lessons to pull off a successful camping trip. I will be the first to admit that we are major amateurs when it comes to camping and have a lot of learning left to do, but in case you were looking to cross camping off your summer bucket list, I thought I would throw out the 5 lessons I learned camping to get you started.


NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION
When everyone forgets to pack the syrup, get creative with what you have! We mixed some berries and butter and let it simmer over the fire for a while, the perfect pancake topping! If everyone forgets to pack coffee...make the hour drive to DG because #necessities 

DON'T SKIMP ON THE GRUB
We honestly ate like kings all weekend and it made the trip so enjoyable. I looked forward to dinner all day and breakfast all night. We did quite a bit of meal prep ahead of time so that once we were in the wilderness there wan't a lot required besides minimal assembly and of course cooking over the campfire! Our menu consisted of eggs & sausage, bacon & pancakes, french toast, stuffed peppers, BBQ chicken foil packs & chicken and steak skewers. Yum. Andrew and I did PB&J for lunch with a few sides (apples/trail mix/lara bars), next trip I plan to include a little more variety in snack choices. 

GET THE GEAR
Like I said before, we are not huge outdoorsmen so we don't have tons of camping gear around the house however we do have essentials like a tent/sleeping bag/hammock. We ran to Walmart before our trip and stood in the aisle agonizing over an extra $15 tarp before finally deciding to grab it with the chance to return it if it wasn't necessary. Let me tell ya, best $15 ever! We all set up tents but planned to sleep in our hammocks until it straight poured all night long for two nights in a row. We hopped between the hammocks and the tent but without the extra tarp we would have been swimming in our hammocks all weekend. I won't be caught night hammocking again without the right coverage, I currently have my eye on this rain fly from Alpine Leisure Co.  Don't get me wrong, you don't need to break the bank for a camping trip here and there, borrow from friends or buy a few cheap necessities to make the most of a weekend. But, if you are going to make it an annual trip invest in the good gear! Your dry head will thank you later.

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PLAN AHEAD
Our trip to Linville Gorge was truly a great one. This was largely due to the fact that we traveled with a group of people who had already camped in the same location so they had a pretty good idea of what we would do/need. We divided meals up per couple (each was responsible for one breakfast and dinner for the whole group, and everyone was responsible for their own lunch and snacks every day), and sent out a list of other needs that each couple signed up for. If you are anything like me, aka NOT A PLANNER, I will say that if you are ever going to put your organizational hat on, this trip is the time. We didn't have really easy access to a gas station/walmart/anything so if you forgot your toothbrush you were out of luck. I took it a step further and hyper organized my suitcase, too. I knew we would be hiking during the day and relaxing by the fire at night so I packed 2 outfits/day and placed everything down to socks and undies in its own plastic baggie (I had a total of 8 baggies: Thurs Night, Friday, Fri Night, Sat, Sat Night, Sun, Extras, Outerwear). If you have ever traveled with me you know that I actually forget everything and end up borrowing half of your suitcase or buying all my toiletries on the road because packing is a pet peeve and I usually leave it until the last minute. The baggies were a game changer. I ended up having more than I needed, everything stayed clean and dry, I had plenty of space in my suitcase because the baggies kept everything compressed and neat. Worth every second!  

ITS ALL ABOUT THE COMPANY
I am a firm believer that you can have a good time no matter what (rain all night) if you are in the right company. These people are IT. 

Second sibling trip to Linville Gorge! Video courtesy of Jenny!

Cinco de Mayo Shoot + May Goals

Happy Cinco de Mayo

May is already off to a great start! Who doesn't love slow roasted barbacoa tacos and sombreros?! Kicking off the month with this styled shoot featuring my Chips and Salsa Towel.

I have been impatiently waiting for the arrival of May all year. Since deciding to move home we have been planning, dreaming and counting down. A lot of these ideas and decisions only lived on paper until May, when we could finally start putting everything into action. May is a jam packed month for our little family as we move out of our first home together and back across North Carolina, celebrate weddings, celebrate two years of marriage and settle into our new normal in Shoals. 

I could write a book full of goals for this month, but I have tried to narrow it down to 5 achievable bullets.

1. Raise $500 for the Hope Mission Women's Shelter through the Calico Creek Pop Up Shop. YOU can help with this one!! If you haven't heard, Calico Creek Coffee Shop (the coffee bar located inside our church in Morehead City) is hosting a Pop Up Shop this month to raise money for a local mission. Through vendor spaces, donations and coffee purchases, we are hoping to raise $500 to help Hope Mission start a shelter to serve and protect homeless women in Carteret County. By shopping at this event you can help raise funds for Hope Mission's Women Shelter. You can join the event, get to know vendors and read more through our Facebook Event.
2. Finalize items for the Summer Line, coming June 21!
3. Celebrate 2 years of marriage!
4. Make a landscape/garden plan for our new house. Plant one thing!
5. Pack, clean and move out of our first home. 
 

Click here to see more photos of this mouth watering shoot!

Vendors:

Photography & Hand Lettering: Danielle Wraith
Food and Beverage: Honey Dew Catering
Styling: Erika Amalia
All Rentals & Venue: Stockroom Picks at the Pickers Place
Drink Stirrers: The Roc Shop
Chips + Salsa Tea Towel: Sidney Hunter Design Co

The Spring Line

 

If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health. -Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine

The Spring Line is designed to help cultivate a home of welcoming & inviting others to sit around your table. I believe in life gathered around the table, rather your passing food, playing cards or preparing taxes so much of our lives happen around the table both with family and with friends. This line of products is intentional in inviting others to your home and welcoming them to gather around your table for a slice of life.