Merry Christmas 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Stringing Christmas Lights

stringing Christmas lights

Holiday Gifts From Uncommon Goods

uncommon goods pick punchIt’s mid-November, which means that Christmas is about 6 weeks away. Not only has life been hectic with the holidays fast approaching, but our family is in the middle of a cross-country move.

We know that a lot of our Christmas shopping will be done online this year.

I was contacted by UncommonGoods to see if I would be willing to feature some of their products in a holiday gift post. I was already a fan of their site, so I was excited for the opportunity to explore their products and review some gifts that called my name.

homemade guitar picks

UncommonGoods is an privately-owned retailer that features unique products and handcrafted gifts. They specifically showcase products that are created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. Most of the products they carry are created in the USA, and about one-third of their collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials. I love the variety of items on the website, and found some things that you can’t just buy at a big box store.

The Pick Punch

The first item I selected was the Pick Punch, which calls to the inner band groupie in me. The Pick Punch allows you to make your own guitar picks by recycling old credit cards, ID cards, plastic lids, and gift cards. Although I don’t play guitar myself, I have a lot of musician friends. I plan to use the Pick Punch to make some custom guitar picks for them.

uncommongoods pick punch

To make the pick, you position the credit card (or other card) in the device so that you see the design that you want, and press down. It takes a little bit of muscle, but it pops through quickly.

To demonstrate, I used a hotel room key card. I liked the pink designs on the card, so I positioned the punch to make a pink kaleidoscopey pick.

Have you ever seen a pick like that in a store? I  haven’t.

The Pick Punch is available on the site for $25.00.

periodic table of the elements building blocks

Elemental Blocks

The next item I chose were the Uncle Goose Elemental Blocks by Uncle Goose. There are 20 hand-crafted wooden cubes with the entire Periodic Table of the Elements printed on them. The building blocks are non-toxic, use child-safe inks, and are good for children (and other budding scientists) aged 2 and up. These blocks are created out of replenishable basswood and made in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

It seems like so many children’s toys are made out of plastic now. It felt good to play with wooden building blocks. Not only does it help your dexterity, you learn all about the elements in the Periodic Table. I love bright colors of the ink and the printing is very easy to read. Who knows…maybe the world’s next Einstein will get his start playing with these blocks.

The Periodic Table Building blocks are $31.00.

Other Gift Ideas

Needs some other ideas? There are plenty of options for adults and children. Check out some of these products. Happy shopping!

Aquafarm http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/aquafarm
The Chillsner http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/chillsner
Kinetic Sand http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/kinetic-sand

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Disclosure: I received free products from UncommonGoods for the purpose of this post. I received no other financial compensation. All opinions are my own.

Wordless Wednesday: Rosie’s TARDIS Nook Tablet

nook tablet with tardis decal

Wordless Wednesday: Assembly Hall at Temple Square

Assembly Hall Christmas Lights

Bullock Family Christmas Card 2012


One hundred Christmas cards are in the mail, but I couldn’t send them to everyone. So instead, I’m posting it online for all my readers to see. Don’t you feel lucky?

I failed to write a Christmas letter to go along with our cards, so I’ll give a little update on what our family has been up to this year.

20121211-095732.jpg

Our family moved from Midvale to Lehi, Utah, this year, which was a fairly easy move after the 4 cross-country moves we made between 2006-2009.

Taylor is in his 5th year as a first officer pilot for an east coast-based regional airline. He’s been based in Memphis this year, and commuting to and from Salt Lake City can be tough at times. There is a FedEx base in Memphis, and pilots are able to jumpseat on the FedEx planes, so he often “FedExes himself” to work. When he’s not in the air or waiting around an airport, he likes to keep tabs on all the recent movies, TV shows, and video games, and is trying to reteach himself how to play the guitar.

20121211-095814.jpgRosie has been growing up faster than we can keep up with. She is turning into an amazing and eclectic young lady in so many ways. Rosie is in 6th grade and turned 12 years old in September. She loves being a Beehive in Young Womens, and is enjoying the countdown to being an official teenager. This summer, she was in Murray Community Arts’ production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” and has a strong interest in theater (just like her mom). She got to see stage productions of “Les Miserables” and “Wicked” this year, and has the soundtracks on heavy rotation on her iPod. Her number one obsession right now is Doctor Who, which her Pinterest account will attest to.

20121211-095745.jpgMy year has been focused on regaining my health. I opted to have weight loss surgery as a tool to get my weight under control. So far this year, I have lost over 120 pounds, and I intend to keep working hard to lose the rest of my excess weight. Professionally, I am working as the social media manager for DegreeSearch.org, and am on the board of Social Media Club of Salt Lake City. My leisure time often revolves around blogging and social media events, and my trips this year included Charlotte, NC for Type A Parent Conference, New York City for BlogHer, and Atlanta for the Obesity Help weight loss conference. I’ve had a lot of success with my blogs this year, including some appearances on TV and mentions in the newspaper.

20121211-095657.jpgThe highlight of our year as a family was our trip to England in October. The three of us met up with our friend Clint, and we had a fab adventure together. We spent 4 days in London, seeing the sights, sampling the culture, taking lots of pictures, and meeting up with old friends.

Next, we rented a car and drove north to spend some time out of the city. We spent a day in Liverpool, a day in the Lake District, and ended our time in England in Manchester. When standby flights were full out of Manchester, we found out that we could get back to the US in business class on standby the next day from Dublin, so we hopped an Aer Lingus flight to Ireland for a day. We only got to spend a few hours in the city of Dublin, but it was fun to experience a little of the land of my heritage.

We would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year in 2013. Cheers!

The Cost of True Love

The true cost of the 12 days of Christmas
‘Tis the season to be jolly, and give gifts to the ones we love. Or at least give presents to people we feel obligated to buy for.

One of the most beloved Christmas tunes of all time is “The 12 Days of Christmas,” which dates back to the late 1700’s. The tune gives an elaborate list of gifts that are given to his “true love” over a twelve day period. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a cumulative song, meaning that each verse builds on top of the previous verses. Each verse describes a gift given by “my true love” on one of the twelve days of Christmas…and so forth, until the last verse:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

12 days of Christmas illustration12 Drummers Drumming
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords-a-Leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids-a-Milking
7 Swans-a-Swimming
6 Geese-a-Laying
5 Gold Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Many of the gifts listed in the song would now be considered ridiculous to give. But have you ever wondered how much it would cost to give all of these gifts in modern times? Hint: it’s over one hundred grand.

The Cost of True Love: The 12 Days of Christmas [infographic]
Via: DegreeSearch.org

Since 1984, the cumulative costs of the gifts in the song have been used as an economic indicator. The Cheif Economist at PNC Bank began the tradition, and is maintained by PNC Bank 29 years later. Two pricing charts are created, referred to as the Christmas Price Index and The True Cost of Christmas. The former is an index of the current costs of one set of each of the gifts given by the True Love to the singer of the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The latter is the cumulative cost of all the gifts with the repetitions listed in the song. The people mentioned in the song are hired, not purchased. The full cost of all 364 gifts in 2012 would cost $107,300.24. I love my husband, but those gifts will NEVER be in our Christmas budget.

Bonus!

Not feeling rich enough to give all of those gifts to your true love, but can’t spend $107,000? How about a free and fun Christmas printable with the illustration for the infographic that my coworker Joseph LeBaron made? Download the 8″x10″ printable here.

Wordless Wednesday: Santa’s Little Helper and Rosie the Red-Nosed Reindeer

nicole and rosie by Justin Hackworth

Songs Of The Holiday Season

One of my favorite things about December is listing to all of the lovely music. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. Just hear those sleigh bells ringaling, jing-ting-tingling. O Holy Night.

There are so many songs that define the holiday season for me. There are the songs that I grew up with that remind me of memories of my family and childhood celebrations, like Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”. There are the modern songs that are just as dear to my heart to enjoy during the holidays…like more songs on Amy Grant’s Christmas albums than I can count. Today I wanted to share some of my favorite holiday tunes.

“Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” by  Bing Crosby and David Bowie

Although there are plenty of versions of this song, there is something fun, retro, and whimsical about the Carpenters version. I can’t help but sing along and wish I was dancing along, wearing white leisure suits with red sequins.

“Last Christmas” by Wham!

I  am aware that you will either love this song or hate this song. I’m in the love category. I love the smooth crooning voice of George Michael, the synthesizers, and the ridiculous lyrics. Don’t hate me because I love cheesy 80’s music.

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings” by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan

One the most genius collaborations of Canadian music superstars, BNL and Sarah McLachlan recorded this mashup of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “We Three Kings” in 2004. Although I tend to prefer traditional music at Christmas, this is one of my very favorite holiday songs to hear at Christmas.

Now, sometimes it’s hard to decide which version of a song you love more. What do you think? Modern or traditional?

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Judy Garland

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Coldplay

Which Christmas songs do you love?

Wordless Wednesday – Christmas Don’t Be Late

Christmas Don't Be Late