This Gift Guide is a reader request, and I aim to please this time of year (hello… I’ve gotta get on that Nice List, y’all). I put together a list of gifts that Corey’s received that we love. Many of these were actually gifts for the Big Guy for his birthday this past weekend, and they’re already a huge hit! These are geared more towards toddlers, but it’s never too early to add things to your Amazon Wish List. I like to do that months in advance so I’m not scrambling when a big birthday or holiday comes around. PLUS – Cyber Monday is coming! So definitely watch Amazon for sales. They’ve already had some this week because of Black Friday.

Corey got this for his birthday from some sweet friends of ours. I have to be honest… I’m not sure who’s more in love with it: Jon or Corey. After Jon Boy put it together (it does take a little bit of effort), he sat and played with Corey for about 20 minutes. They looked like two kids just havin’ a good ole time. I don’t think they realize that Penny or I were in the room. This can (as the name says) go from a ‘sittin’ toy to a ‘standing’ toy with a simple adjustment of the ramp. It’s a pretty handy little gadget for kids of all walking/crawling/sitting/standing abilities.

Little People Sit and Stand Skyway ($40)

Little People Sit and Stand Skyway

Corey actually got his cute little kitchen as a gift from one of his Nana’s neighbors. He LOVES his kitchen, and Mama is so glad because hopefully that means he’ll be just as obsessed with cooking as she is! This is a very similar one to the one we have, and I’ve also linked up a bunch of play food that would be great to go with such a fun gift.

Step2 LifeStyle Custom Kitchen Playset ($80) | Play Food Set ($17)

Step2 LifeStyle Custom Kitchen Playset

Big C actually got this last year for his 1st birthday from his GodMama. As with the Skyway, Jon Boy enjoys this toy just as much as Corey. We have spent countless afternoons + evenings playing BASSKKIIITTBALLL with Corey. Penny even joins in on the fun every now and then. You can easily adjust the height to match your kiddo’s skill level + height (Jon thinks Corey’s ready for the NBA by the looks of the height of ours).

Little Tikes Basketball Set ($35)

Little Tikes Basketball Set

This little ‘Leaptop’ is so stinkin’ cute I can’t even stand it. Corey got this from his Rara + Papa Dave for his birthday this year, and he’s already hooked to it. You can personalize this and send specific messages, etc. to it. I haven’t had a ton of time to play around with it, but the main thing I love is the alphabet feature. It says the letter, sound it makes, and gives an example of something that starts with that letter. I can’t wait to explore more with this little gizmo.

LeapFrog My Own Leaptop ($25)

LeapFrog My Own Leaptop

Puzzles are LIFE in our house. Homeboy has slowly built up quite a great collection recently. I love puzzles because they’re great for hand + eye coordination as well as vocabulary. Corey is actually really good at cleaning them up, too, thank goodness. I got the puzzle stand that’s linked below to help maintain some level of order with these fellas. This particular stand is good for the Melissa & Doug chunky puzzles as well as the regular ones.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Peg Puzzles (Set of 3 for $20) | Puzzle Stand for Regular + Chunky Puzzles ($18)

Melissa & Doug Wooden Peg Puzzles

Deluxe Metal Puzzle Rack

All right, don’t judge. But we have every single set of these little foam magnets. They’re a great vocabulary builder, too, and we have them in the kitchen on the fridge and on a magnetic board in the playroom. [I know, enough with the vocabulary talk ya weirdo librarian.. but seriously… it’s important.] I’m all about the FOAM magnets, too, because I don’t know about your toddler, but mine is really good at throwing things that ought not be thrown towards things that ought not have things thrown at them. First time we had a wooden puzzles downstairs on the wood floors… let’s just say that brown sharpie is a life saver. I’ve linked up all four styles below the image.

Foam Magnets Sets (About $15 each)

foam magnets for kids roter kafer

Farm Animals, Zoo AnimalsFruits + Veggies, Vehicles + Professions

Big C got this last year from his sweet aunt + uncle + cousins, but really he just wanted to eat Baby Jesus. This year, he actually ‘slightly’ gets the concept. We sing “Jesus Loves Me” on the daily, so he’s at least understanding that Baby Jesus is a person and not a snack. This sweet nativity set is durable, adorable, and also… in case Baby Jesus does go missing… I’ve linked the replacement.

Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set | Replacement Baby Jesus

fisher price little people nativity set

Alllllll righty. I’m gonna get Librarian on ya. My mentor librarian bought Corey a ton of Sandra Boynton books, and I’m so grateful she did. We LOVE her books. I’ve linked up her first Greatest Hits volume with some of Corey’s faves (and mine — Moo, Baa, La, La, La is my JAM). I think books always make great gifts, and board books are always getting slobbered on, thrown, and kicked by my big toe. You can never have enough. That’s what this Librarian Mama says anyways…

Sandra Boynton’s Greatest Hits (Set of 4 for less than $11)

Sandra Boynton's Greatest Hits

Click Here to See More Sandra Boynton Books

Judge Me. I DARE you. Also, try to survive 4 hours in the car ALONE with your toddler who’s had less than half a good nap. Yeah… hence why I bought ‘Mickey Christmas’ as we call it on DVD. It’s Corey’s favorite movie right now, it gets me in the Christmas mood, and it prevents long car rides to Dallas from becoming scenes from Nightmare Before Christmas.

Mickey Saves Santa ($10)

Mickey Saves Santa

Okay, judge again. But I’d give my left pinky finger to have Corey move on from his Moana obsession. We tried out Toy Story the other night, and homeboy LOVED it. That’s a Christmas gift to Mama + Daddy if ever I’ve seen one. I did a little browsing today and saw that the entire Blu-ray collection of Toy Story is only $25 right now! And of course, I had to get the Buzz + Woody to go with it. Corey was way too into the movie, and I’m a sucker. Also, I’m trying to get on the Nice List, remember?

Toy Story Collection Blu-Ray ($25) | Buzz Lightyear| Woody

Toy Story Collection BluRay

I actually bought this months ago when Amazon had their Prime Day, and it was only $12! It’s still a great gift idea for that toddler in your life even at $24. Corey looooooves to play with Play-Doh, so I’m grateful to have something to extend that play time. Most of our Play-Doh shapes and toys have come from Dollar Tree though, and they’re all in perfect working condition still.

Play-Doh Factory Playset ($24)

Play-Doh Factory Playset

This would be a great stocking stuffer or small gift. I’m all about educational + fun gifts. I mean, do it while you can get away with it, right? This was a simple game that seemed to be perfect for Corey since he’s obsessed with animals right now (and alllllll the sounds they make). “Mama, cow!” — aka… Mama make a cow sound. Not my favorite thing to be called randomly in the car, but it’s cute.

Matching Heads and Tails Game ($8 on sale right now)

Match Heads and Tails Game

This was Corey’s BIG birthday/Christmas gift from Mama + Daddy this year. I’ve had this sitting in my Amazon Wish List for months and months. I finally pulled the trigger and got it because a) we needed a CD player to play Nana’s songs she’s recorded for him and b) because that Bluetooth is everything. Corey will play so much more contentedly if he’s got music playing than just silence alone. The same was true when I taught; I always found kids (and adults) to be happier if there was soothing music in the background.

Sony CD and Bluetooth Boombox ($82)

Sony CD and Bluetooth Boombox

So, at one of my mom’s groups the other day, I mentioned that I was worried Corey was colorblind. I mean, everything to that kid is BUUUU [blue]. My friends mentioned these sorting bears that she tried with her kiddo who’s about the same age. She said once she saw that he could match blue with blue and green with green bears, she knew he wasn’t colorblind. Even if they can’t SAY the color, at least they can match them up. The whole set may seem expensive at $20, but they’re a really, really good quality.

Rainbow Bears Matching + Sorting Game ($20)

Rainbow Matching Game

Outdoor Playsets: I’ve put together a quick list of playsets we either have or were gifted. Corey’s loved all of these so far, and they’d make a great Santa Gift!

Step2 Cascading Cove Sand & Water Playset with Lid & Umbrella

Step2 Cascading Cove Sand & Water Playset with Lid & Umbrella Playset

Step2 Naturally Playful Lookout Treehouse ($125) – [we don’t have this one, but it’s friggin’ cute]

Step2 Naturally Playful Lookout Treehouse

Little Tikes Hide and Seek Climber and Swing ($104)

Little Tikes Hide and Seek Climber and Swing

Step2 Neat and Tidy II Playhouse ($172)

Step2 Neat and Tidy II Playhouse

Other Ideas:

Dollar Tree for costumes + play outfits, balls, construction machines, and party favors that can be stocking stuffers. I love Dollar Tree!!! I find the best little presents for Corey there. They also have a ton of coloring books, stickers, markers, crayons, Play-Doh toys, etc., and they’re all the exact same as what you find anywhere else.

Target ‘Dollar’ Section for the Play Packs that come with coloring book, stickers, and crayons. We’ve used two in the past week, and it keeps Corey entertained for at least 15 minutes every time we go out to eat. They’ve got some holiday themed ones right now, too! Target also has some cheap window stickers that are great for play time (good sensory experience, too).

I’ll be posting a few gift guides this week in honor of Black Friday + Cyber Monday. I thought I’d start with a Gift Guide for the Foodie + Hostess since Thanksgiving is just a few days away (Hoooooray for my favorite holiday of the year!) Gimme all the stretchy pants and mashed taters.

This is by FAR my favorite gift guide to put together! Gahhhh! I obsess over things like this on the daily, so trying to narrow it down to my faves was quite an ordeal. These items are from all the different stores where I get my foodie finds. Some of these are things I already own and others are on my Wish List. HINT HINT Santa!

Williams Sonoma Marble and Copper Board with Knife (On sale for $40 right now)

This would be an adorable hostess gift or a gift for someone who loooooves some cheese. The knife that comes with it is so cute and perfect for all different kinds of cheesy wonders. I love me a good cheese board.

Williams Sonoma Marble and Copper Board with Knife

Terrafirma 8″ Serving Bowl

I discovered this shop (Open Door Shop) a while back and tried visiting during our vacation to Charleston this summer. They were actually out-of-town that whole week, so I never got to go inside! Jon Boy was happy because that meant the credit card stayed safely in his wallet, but I was slightly devastated. They have tons of unique pieces that are timeless and simply gorgeous!


Marigold Artisans Set of 3 Braid Cheese Knives ($19)

These are gorgeous and would make a perfect hostess gift or stocking stuffer.

Marigold Artisans Set of 3 Braid Cheese Knives

Calivirgin Sampler Award Winning Olive Oils + Balsamic Vinegar ($32)

I love me some good olive oil. I have a few in my pantry at the moment (green chile + truffle to name a few). Specialty oils and the aged balsamic vinegar in this set would be perfect for your foodie friend or family.

Calivirgin Sampler Winning Balsamic Vinegar

Immersion (Hand) Blenders

These are fantastic for making soups [and tons of other things, but my coffee hasn’t kicked in to go into detail]. Instead of having to transfer hot soup into a blender to get that texture you want, you just plop one of these bad babies into the pot, hit a button, and let ‘er rip. I actually have a Cuisinart one from 2010 when my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had to have a colostomy bag which meant his foods had to be puréed for a while, hence the need for one of these fellas. It still works perfectly, and I’ve actually used it twice in the past week if that tells you how handy they are. They don’t make a mess when blending because the blending mechanism goes to the bottom of the pot (no splashing/food everywhere moments). The actual part that goes in the soup and gets dirty is dishwasher safe, too!

Cuisinart Immersion (Hand) Blender ($35)

Cuisinart Immersion Blender

Cuisinart Immersion (Hand) Blender with Whisk + Chopper Tools ($47)

Cuisinart Immersion (Hand) Blender with Whisk + Chopper Tools

Dutch Ovens

I talk about these all the time in my recipes, and I won’t tell you how many I own. It’s slightly embarrassing. I’ve hidden them strategically so Jon Boy has no clue about my obsession. I use them almost daily in place of regular skillets because they transfer heat better, so you get a much more even cooking temperature. They’re also great for developing the fond (yummy brown stuff) that’s left behind after sautéing or browning things. They also transfer straight to the oven, so no more “let me pour this into the casserole dish hoping not to spill it everywhere and in the process burn myself” moves. Just throw ‘er into the cooking cave. I’ve owned 3 Lodge Dutch ovens, and they’ve all lasted at least 5 years. A Le Creuset is a major family heirloom type gift, but they will last you a lifetime if you love them well.

Lodge 6-Quart Dutch Oven ($50) – lots of color + sizing options

Lodge Dutch Oven

Le Creuset 7-1/4-Quart Dutch Oven ($368) – comes in tons of colors!

Le Creuset Dutch Oven

Wooden Spoons

Alllllll righty then. So this one time, I heard some fool on the radio talking about, “Who uses wooden spoons anymore? Seriously?” ME, YOU FOOL. Me and every other person who loves their cookware + to make their food even better. My reasons why wooden spoons are the only option are threefold:

ONE: They don’t scratch the bottom of your pans. Particularly the lovelies above.

TWO: They scrape up the FOND (pretty brown flavor bits) at the bottom of your pan better than silicone or metal utensils.

THREE: Because Mario Batali said so one time on The Chew, so that means it’s gospel, folks.

Any questions? But really, wooden spoons are the way to go. Worth every penny and every bit of hand washing. They’ll also last you a lifetime if you love them well.

Williams Sonoma Olivewood Cook’s Spoon ($17) – MY FAVE SPOON –

Williams Sonoma Olivewood Cook's Spoon

Williams Sonoma Olivewood Spoon Set (4 for $80)

Williams Sonoma Olivewood Spoon Set

OXO Steel Garlic Press ($20)

This is usually the way I ‘mince’ my garlic when I’m cooking. You just smash your garlic clove with a knife or the edge of this fella, take off the paper, and then press it through the holes of this magnificent invention. The garlic ends up as minced [pressed] as it can get, so you don’t end up with chunks of garlic. This little gem is dishwasher safe and would be an adorable stocking stuffer.

OXO Steel Garlic Press

Olivewood Salt Well/Keeper

I got this as a gift yearrrrrrrrs ago, and I absolutely love it! I just fill it with Kosher salt every so often and then my salt is ready-to-go in a safe [but still cute] storage container. The lid slides on-and-off easily but keeps the salt well sealed. For those folks who live in Houston, you know that salt can go ‘bad’ easily because of the humidity (i.e. it clumps). That won’t happen with this little fella. you can also get it monogrammed like mine (see below).

Olivewood Salt Keeper Williams Sonoma

Here’s my pretty little lady. Ain’t she cute?

Olivewood Salt Well Keeper

Goblets from Hearth + Home at Target ($7 each)

I can’t even, Chip + Jo. I can’t. You’ve gotten me. And now you’re at TARGET?! I narrowly escape the other day with just two of their items, but I really, like REALLY want some of these goblets. How stinkin’ cute? These would be a great gift for newlyweds, college kids, or anyone who loves a good goblet. The etching makes them perfect for a holiday tablescape, too.

X-Patterned Goblet Hearth and Home Target

Williams Sonoma Striped Dish Towels (4 for $20)

These are hands down the BEST dish towels I’ve ever had. The price isn’t so bad for the quality you get. I’m pretty rough on my little dish towels (sorry, fellas), and these have lasted me for over two years with no signs of stopping. They come in tons of colors, too!

Williams Sonoma Classic Striped Dish Towels


Pioneer Woman Come and Get It Cookbook ($19)

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but I LOOOOOVE Pioneer Woman. She’s my BFF, in case you didn’t know. Her cookbooks are perfect for all cooking levels of expertise. She explains things perfectly and her recipes always turn out fantastic. Plus, this cookbook in particular has recipes that take 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or for those that take even longer. There’s a ton to look at because her pictures are just gorgeous!

Pioneer Woman Come and Get It Cookbook

Texas Slow Cooker Cookbook

This little gem is full of delicious recipes made for your Crock Pot or Slow Cooker or, as I like to say, My Favorite Friend on Wednesdays (HELLOOOOO Crock Pot Wednesdays!). The author is a James Beard Award winning cookbook author, and there’s a recipe for slow cooker MAC AND CHEESE, y’all. Winner, Winner, Crock Pot Dinner.


Here are some other favorite cookbooks of mine: CLICK HERE.

Cathy’s Concepts Monogram Tablet Holder

It may be called a ‘tablet’ holder, but it would also be great for cookbooks for those of us who are a little old fashioned like that. I love the rope accent with the white stripe. The monogram makes it even better!

Cathy's Concepts Monogram Tablet Holder

What are some of YOUR favorite foodie gifts?

I’m a sucker for a good gift magazine. Give me all the airline catalogs with their random kitchen gadgets, $230 foot warmers, and over-the-top cat mazes. I’m a happy lady when there’s a way to add quirky to a gift. This magazine, Uncommon Goods, was a great browse with Christmas coming just around the corner. I love finding unique gifts, and the bonus with these items is that many are made of recycled or reused material and they’re made by individuals, not a major factory in China.

uncommon goods

Instead of blabbing on-and-on about why I like each of these pieces (who knows… you may be on my list to receive one…), I thought I’d just give you the link + a pic so you could browse for yourself.

Peas in a Pod Necklace

peas in a pod necklace uncommon goods

Orbit Eye Stones

orbit eye stones uncommon goods

Essential Oil Diffuser Bracelet

essential oil diffuser bracelet uncommon goods

Mason Jar Indoor Herb Garden

mason jar indoor herb garden uncommon goods

Construction Plate & Utensils

construction plates and utensils uncommon goods

Sunflower Butterfly Puddler

sunflower butterfly puddler uncommon goods

Oven-to-Table Entertaining Platter

oven-to-table entertaining platter uncommon goods

Football Stadium Art

football stadium art uncommon goods

Reclaimed Wood Cookbook Stand

reclaimed wood cookbook stand uncommon goods

Salvaged Wood Cookbook + Tablet Stand

salvaged wood cookbook and tablet stand uncommon goods

City Map Glass

city map glass uncommon goods

Do you have any favorite websites you use for personalized gifts? Did you find any other items that look good? Share your faves below so we can all get some shopping done early!

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, so I thought I’d share some fun gifts I’ve found. I love traditional gifts, but sometimes I like to branch out and get creative.

Here are some fun things I’ve found:

Barrington Gifts Accessory Case ($42 – customizable color, pattern, and monogram)
mothers day gift ideas
This Mug ($18)
mothers day gift ideas
mothers day gift ideas

These Champagne Flutes ($70 for 4)

mothers day gift ideas

These Bath Bombs ($27)

mothers day gift ideas
mothers day gift ideas
This Tote + Wristlet Set ($48 – more colors available)
mothers day gift ideas
mothers day gift ideas
mothers day gift ideas

This Robe ($38 or 2 for $60)

mothers day gift ideas

This Crossbody Bag ($35)

mothers day gift ideas

This T-Shirt ($18)

mothers day gift ideas

This Pullover ($28)

mothers day gift ideas

And for a little Mother’s Day humor…

mothers day gift ideas
mothers day gift ideas

There are a couple of great books we’ve read as a couple to get us prepared for Baby G. They’ve been very helpful and aren’t the boring kind of read you might expect from the baby genre. I’d definitely suggest them for those of you who are first time parents!
Pregnancy Books
This book saved my registry. Going into the store overwhelmed me beyond anything I can explain Have you ever been in a Buy Buy Baby and actually tried to think, “What will my baby ACTUALLY need?” and… “How can I get him what he needs without having to sell my body to pay for it?” It’s insane.
This book is fabulous for the first (or second or third) time mom and dad. It is published every year and is updated based on consumer reviews, manufacturer information, recalls, and their readers’ satisfaction. They break down everything from car seats to cribs to breast pumps based on price, quality, and durability. It’s pretty awesome.
My sister-in-law suggested we get the book, and I’m so glad she did! I actually registered for everything online using just this book (plus some advice from some fabulous mommies I know).
 baby wise
There were probably about 4 of my close friends (and even a few strangers) who suggested this book to me. They recommended it as a great way to get a baby on a (as much as you can) schedule for feeding and sleep times. The book is a great suggestion for moms who plan to breast feed/pump and for those who are going to use formula.
The main gist of the book is to use your common sense: don’t use a clock to schedule feeding the baby and don’t just feed the baby every time he cries. It seems simple, but hearing it in the authors’ words really made it helpful for this first time mama. I’m glad to have at least a jumping off point for when we bring our little bundle home in December.
I feel at least 4% prepared versus 0%.