The Boy (+Uncommon Valentine's Gifts for Him)

If you read all the way through my 2015 year end review, you know that one of the happy things that happened in the last part of last year was that I met a boy. I kind of snuck that info in.


The thing is, there aren't boys, and then there are. It's hard to say what brings that change about. Suddenly, things line up. A connection is made. It's kismet. Sometimes, I think you just have to be patient enough to wait for your life scale to balance itself, for the universe to bring good things to you. You can do a lot to improve yourself, to find grace, to increase your happiness, but you can't do everything.

The boy and I met online, on Tinder of all things. He found me the day I got back on after an online dating hiatus, sent me a message right away. And I swiped right on him even though he didn't live in Austin and was in school, two things that, in a different mood, would've made me think it was going to be too much trouble and I would've swiped left. We had our first date on a Friday, texted Saturday, had our second date on Sunday. We seemed easy together, similar but different, good. And after Christmas we talked about it, and it felt right to label this thing as a relationship. The boy is now my boyfriend. Excuse me while I suppress my little girl squeal.

One of my favorite things about having new people in my life is buying gifts for them. I can't help it. There is nothing as lovely as delighting someone with the surprisingly perfect gift that they didn't even know they needed. When UncommonGoods reached out to me about sponsoring a post, it seemed kismet too. Where else would I look for a gift for the boy, who never asks for anything? Plus I love giving my dollars to companies that pay their employees a living wage, are committed to being more environmentally friendly, and sell products that are handmade, organic, and/or recycled, so that's pretty great too (you can read more about their mission here, if you're interested).

I cannot tell you how many hours I spent combing through the website for gift ideas. The first gift you give to someone is kind of a big deal. The collections were a big help is narrowing things down. Look here, here, and here for more products if you're looking for a gift for him, too. Plus, a lot of these gifts are unisex, so really the possibilities are endless.

I have six ideas currently in the running, but I keep going back and looking at more, so who knows what he'll end up with. This bourbon stout beer brewing kit seems like it would be a fun thing to do together, this bamboo bike wall clock would look super cool on his walls (and he loves biking), this bar tool seems like a super nifty thing to have, perhaps along with this whiskey wedge for funky, undiluted drinks? This kit is the kind of luxury item he would never buy himself (but is it offensive to gift someone something with the word "hygiene" in it?), and we do live in Texas after all, so this make your own hot sauce kit seems fun and fitting.

Have your started shopping for Valentine's Day yet? What do you like to do for love day, and what kinds of gifts do you like to give (and receive!)?

Yours Truly, Jen

***This post was sponsored by UncommonGoods, but all thoughts and opinions are my own***

2015, Year End Review

I had all the hope in the world for 2015, and it started out so well. Unfortunately, rather than the happiness I was searching for, I got buckets of stress and anxiety. But, that's not to say that a lot didn't happen or that I didn't achieve some things, or that there weren't plenty of lovely highlights along the way. It did and I did and there were.

But I am not sorry to say, farewell 2015. It was real, but I'm ready to move on. First, though, some highlights from the year:

+ Read bunches
+ Reflected a lot on what makes me happy, and what I could do to bring more happiness into my life
+ Found out my oldest sister had late stage cancer
+ Became mildly addicted to taking hot baths
+ Took an amazing yoga class
+ Helped my dear friends sell their house
+ Battled the elements (So much snow! So much ice!)
+ Made the decision to move back to Texas
+ Injured my knee pretty badly when I slipped on a wet floor
+ Took the first steps toward getting my debt under control
+ Got the jewelry store in tip-top shape before I left

+ Sold off my things, packed up my life, and said goodbye to fair Blacksburg
+ Survived the drive from Virginia to Austin (with Olive and a car full of stuff) and moved into an apartment with one of my oldest friends
+ Survived unemployment and found a couple of jobs that would (barely) pay my bills
+ Learned to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle
+ Adjusted to apartment living, and especially, apartment living with a dog
+ Visited with so many family and friends
+ Lost some weight
+ Tried my hand at dating again

+ Turned 25, and spent some time reflecting on the last 5 years, and looking ahead to the next 5
+ Started a snail mail correspondence with my best friend back in Virginia
+ Worked way too much
+ Found out my oldest sister was (after extensive surgery and some chemo) cancer-free
+ Started going to coworking with some boss babes in Austin
+ Made a guest appearance on a friend's podcast
+ Started letting Olive sleep in bed with me some nights to give us more bonding time
+ Started feeling confident at both my jobs and making friends with my coworkers
+ Worked on upgrading my attitude
+ Got serious about my nutrition and fitness
+ Met a boy
+ Became determined to overcome my struggles with mornings
+ Hosted a super successful family Christmas
+ Partied it up on New Year's Eve with some old and some new friends, and still made it to work the next morning

What were some of your highlights from 2015? Is there anything in here you want me to share more about on here?

Yours Truly, Jen

P.S. I would've liked to have this up before the new year, but I was working two retail jobs through the holidays, so it just didn't quite happen. Ya dig?