January 10, 2012

The art of giving a gift


My husband and I love to give gifts.  Generosity is the core values of our family and we take gift giving very seriously.  I was thinking the other day about what makes a good gift. 

The crazy thing is, as I have been typing this blog, my friend Heather Bishop came and presented me with this gift basket from our eGroup!  The Lord works in mysterious ways! 

So, here are a few things I came up with...

1.  Pay attention.  Listen to little things.  Like, "I shrunk my favorite t-shirt."  Or, "Your house always smells so good, do you have a special candle?"

2.  Personalize.  This can be as simple as monogramming a bag or as thoughtful as engraving a piece of jewelry.  A few years ago my sister and I bought my mom a necklace for mother's day with an engraved disc for each of her grandchildren.  She still loves it and wears it often.

3.  Think small.  Sometimes the most thoughtful gifts are not big or expensive.  A framed picture, a fridge magnet, some type of reminder that you are praying for that person or thankful for them.  And also, little gifts, just because can say more than a birthday or Christmas present.

4.  Take a risk!  When buying a gift, a risk says you tried really hard.  I cannot tell you how many times I have taken a risk when giving a gift and the person loved it.  This year for Christmas I took a big risk with my husband's gift.  I designed a key chain for him that goes a long with a sermon he preaches.  I think he was shocked when he opened it, and I know he likes it.  Giving a gift like that is so much better than getting him a new pair of shoes.  The bigger the risk, the bigger the payoff.

5.  Spend enough but not too much.  When buying a gift for our spouse, or a friend, if you spend too much it can make the person feel bad, guilty (or even angry if it is your spouse).  But if you spend just the right amount it can express value for the other person. 

6.  Try to buy something they would not ever think to buy themselves.  This would vary from person to person.  Maybe your friend would love nice perfume but would never buy it for herself, or maybe a gourmet treat.  My friend Amy hates to buy herself socks.  After seeing her wear socks with hole in them for too long, one year for Christmas, I bought her a bunch of socks.

7.  Know that if you try to replace a favorite, you run the risk of not measuring up.  For instance, I have a favorite bathrobe.  I got it for my 17th birthday.  I have had multiple people try to replace it but I am still hanging on to it.  It still means a lot to me that my friends know that about me and have tried to replace it.

8.  If you are going to do something for them then do it.  Don't leave it up to them to ask you for it.  What I am saying is never give an IOU.  If you want to clean up your friends iPod and give them new music then do it.  If you want to give free babysitting, then give the person the dates you have blocked off that you are available. Don't leave it up to them to cash it in, that is just awkward.

9.  Be unpredictable for once.  Let other people add to your mom's pandora bracelet this year, get her something different.  Let other people give your husband a gift card to Bass Pro Shop, get him something different this year.  Don't use every gift giving holiday as an opportunity to add to someone's collection, be more creative at least once or twice a year.

10.  And finally, don't go to so much thought and effort of giving a gift, and not bother to present it well.  Wrapping a gift says, you put a lot of thought into what you are giving.  If you are a guy, get some help. 


December 08, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

In the Furtick house we always put up at least two Christmas trees: a kids tree and a mommy tree.

The kids Christmas tree contains all the ornaments they make as well as all of our keepsake ornaments.  Each year, we buy the boys one ornament that signifies something special that they did or liked that year.  Last year they each got pirate ornaments.  This year Elijah is going to get a baseball one, and Graham wants Buzz Light-year. This also allows us to decorate their tree together.  But then I can decorate mine the way I like it. 


My tree this year is bright and cheery.  I love to buy decor in mid-January when it is insanely cheap.  Last year I found these bright pink, orange and green balls at Target for 75% off.  Then I found the butterflies walking through Macy's.  They were 80% off.  Love it.  I still want to add some bright ribbon but have not had a chance to purchase it yet.  Hopefully it will make it up before Christmas!  My tree last year was all black, red and silver, here's a picture I posted last year.

So how about you?  How do you decorate your tree?  Are you eclectic or uniform?


November 26, 2010

Who scored the best deal on Black Friday?

I am an admitted lover of hunting shopping.  But believe it or not, I have never been shopping on Black Friday.  No not ever. 

The problem is I don't do mornings, or middles of the night for that matter.  There is just no deal good enough for me to get out of my bed at 3 am.

But enough about me, I know many of your scored some great deals.  From toys to electronics and name brand gifts.  So here's your chance to brag.  Leave a comment sharing what was the best deal you brought home today...

October 20, 2010

A Call for Social Networking Etiquette

The technological revolution has changed life as we know it forever.  As with any new change, new rules must be made.  It is time for us to all agree on the proper etiquette for social media.  I have a few suggestions...

1.  You don't have to tell everything you do.  Practice a bit of privacy when twittering and updating your facebook status.  We may not all need to know that you got sick after eating a greasy lunch.  Remember how diaries used to have locks on them?

2.  You don't need to say everything you think.  Just because you have the freedom of expression, doesn't mean should always exercise that right.  Especially when you may hurt someone else's feelings when expressing yourself.  The golden rule still applies, even when typing.

3.  Love the one you're with.  We've all done it, checked email, twitter, texts, even answered the phone while in the presence of an actual friend/family member.  We've all been on the other end, and no one likes it.  Can we all agree that this is rude and we should try really hard to refrain?

4.  Remember, no one is forcing you to follow another person.  If you don't agree with a person's point of view, no one is forcing you to read their blog/twitter/facebook page. 

5.  Proof read.  There are so many things we learned in school that we never use.  Proof reading is not one of them.  Don't put this skill on the shelf, it will save you some embarrassment.  I'm a living witness.

6.  And since we are talking about embarrassment, it's not polite to embarrass others.  Just keep in mind that getting a good laugh at someone else's expense may not be funny at all to that person.

The thing about etiquette is we all break the rules at one time or another.  I have been guilty of all the things listed above.  But maybe if we all work together, we can make the world of social media a more pleasant place to live?

October 19, 2010

Chinese Gender Prediction

I get a kick out of all the pregnancy wives tales.  I was told by so many people that I was having a girl because I was sicker than I had been before.  I was also told that because I craved orange juice, I was definately having a girl.  Then there is how you carry your baby: low=boy, high=girl.  Or, if you crave sweets, you are having a girl, if your crave sour/salty, you are having a boy.  And so many more...

I think my favorite wives tale is the Chinese Gender Prediction Chart.  Have you ever seen it?  I find it to be quite accurate for my kids.  There are several different versions of this chart floating around out there.  For sake of uniformity, we will use this one I swiped from the web and their directions. 

Here's how it works, find the age of the mother at the time of conception, then go across to the month the baby was conceived, if you land on a B, the baby was, or should be a boy, if you land on a G, its a girl.  For instance, Elijah was born on in July, 2005, so I was 24 when he was conceived Elijah in October, chart predicts a boy.

Screen shot 2010-10-19 at 10.43.20 AM This chart is accurate with both of my boys.  For my 3rd, it predicts a boy, but I was told with 100% certainty we are having a girl, no wives tales are perfect!  So for me, the chart is 66% accurate.

Ok, your turn to weigh in, is this chart accurate for you?  I can't wait to see these results.

August 25, 2010

For the love of pork

Slow_Cookers_BBQ_Pulled_Pork.ashx I love BBQ.  First, for all you northerners, let me qualify what I mean by BBQ.  I mean pulled pork drenched in some kind of delicious sauce: Tomato based if you are from Virginia, vinegar based sauce if you are from North Carolina, and mustard based if you are from South Carolina.  I can't leave out the Texans but I don't know much about your BBQ, I think you all use a dry rub, and don't y'all like beef?

BBQ is a serious thing where my husband is from.  In his home town there were two main BBQ places, the Barbecue Barn and Duke's Barbecue.  Barbecue Barn is actually in Moncks Corner.  They serve a decent barbecue.  But Duke's is 45 minutes away in Ridgeville, and well worth the drive. 

We actually served BBQ at our wedding, Duke's BBQ, of course.  I'm told it was quite impressive for our local guests (we got married in Moncks Corner).

I love BBQ any way I can get it.  I have lived all over and I like it no matter how it is served.  I prefer North Carolina sauce by a small margin.  I love hush puppies too, yum.

So here is my problem: I have yet to find a good BBQ spot in Charlotte.  We have lived here almost 5 years and I have tried several places but none worth returning to.

Anybody want to recommend a spot for me to try?  And if you are not from Charlotte, where are you from and how do you like your BBQ?

June 15, 2010

They're ba-ack!


My bird spirit lives on.  Here is a picture of one of my hanging plants on my front porch.  I haven't seen any birds in it yet.  Maybe they are done with it.  Maybe it is their vacation nest and they only come to it on the weekends.  I am just thankful this nest does not interfere with my daily life such as drying my clothes or opening my front door.

June 03, 2010

Wedding bells are ringing

Scan0001I know that I have posted this picture before but seeing as how we celebrated our 8th anniversary this week and the topic of this post, I thought the picture was fitting.  Ok that was a long introduction.  

The real reason for this post is that it is wedding season and I have a wedding gift or two that I need to purchase.  The thing is I am not a big fan of registries.  I know they are needed and all, but it's just boring for me to buy a place setting of silverware.  I need to make a basket or give something really personal.

I'm really good at baby shower gifts.  That's because I have babies.  I'm getting too far removed from the wedding season of life.  I trying to think back about what my favorite wedding presents were.  I actually still have many items in our house that were wedding presents.  A lamp, a blanket, LOTS of my kitchen stuff and fancy serving pieces.

I asked my husband what his favorite wedding present was.  He said money for our honeymoon.  Of course he did.

I asked the girls in my small group.  Many of them got married last summer.  A few of them said a picnic basket.  I got one of those, then I took it back when I realized I would probably pack in a cooler for a picnic (and I don't really like picnics, I like restaurants).  I actually took back a lot of my wedding presents.

I do know what the worst wedding gift we got was.  A wooden plaque that said: "FUTRICK, est. 2001"  While I know the people meant well but our name was misspelled and we were married in 2002.  And since I couldn't return that, we hung that in the garage for a good laugh every now and then.

I would love to hear from you.  What was the best, or worst wedding gift you received?

April 30, 2010

An education on tea

DSC_0006Did you know that besides water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world?  Take that coffee.

Do you know what the difference between herbal, white, green, oolong, and black tea is?  I thought I might give you a lesson.

All white, green, oolong and black teas come from the same plant, Camellia Sinesis.  The process of oxidizing and treating the leaves make the types of tea.

White tea has the least amount of caffeine and most health benefits, then green tea, then oolong (sometimes referred to as brown tea) and finally black tea brings up the rear with the most caffeine but many health benefits as well.  One cup of black tea has 1/2 the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.

Herbal tea is not exactly tea because it does not come fro the Camellia Sinesis bush.  Herbal tea is a combination of different leaves, roots, flowers, stems, fruits and seeds.  

There are many health benefits to tea.  It can promote a healthier immune system, lower your cholesterol, aid in natural weight loss, and make your skin look younger just to name a few.

I rarely go a day without having at least one cup of hot tea.  Today I had three.  Pictured above is one of my favorite mugs and my tea kettle.  I have had that mug since college, back then it held pens and the butterflies where much brighter.  The size is just perfect and I think the butterflies make me happy. 

You can read more about tea here.

April 14, 2010

No more plants

I'm not sure if you follow me on twitter, you should (shameless plug on my own blog).  Anyway, a several weeks ago I tweeted this.

Just bought this at HomeDepot. Has a 1 yr guarantee. Awesome b/c I've never had a plant last even close to that. http://yfrog.com/1drsnbj

Just in case you didn't click on the link, here is the picture I linked...


I have a serious problem.  I love flowers and plants, but I cannot for the life of me keep them alive.  When I bought this plant, the salesman assured me it was for the indoors and it was durable.  I gave this plant love.  I watered it, not too much, not too little, placed it near a window, yet in a prominent place for all to see.  Slowly but surely it turned into this...


Now I will admit, I gave up on it about 2 weeks ago once I came to the realization it was not going to experience a revival.

The Generation students gave me a beautiful azalea.  I placed it on my front porch and a few days later it was almost dead, I read the little card that said "morning sun" and realized that my front porch is afternoon sun.  My Nana always said beggars can't be choosy but I guess if you are a plant, you can be.

Don't worry Generation students, I moved the plant to my back deck and it seems to be doing a bit better.

I saw one of these in an ad the other day...


It's called the Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter.  I really wanted one.  I could just imagine myself having a vine ripe tomato, fresh from my own back yard, but then came to reality and I decided there was no way on earth I could nurture a plant enough for it to produce fruit.  I guess I will do what I do every summer, buy my veggies from a vegetable stand or bum some off my friends who have gardens.

I'm too embarrassed to take my flower back to Home Depot.  I am sure I did something wrong.

From now on I am not buying anymore plants.  Fresh cut or silk flowers will have to do for the Furtick household.