Monthly Archives: June 2013

Thankful Thursday: Hand-made Gifts

IMG_4644There’s nothing like getting a hand-made gift from someone you love.  I cherish the thought that you thought enough of me to take time out of your day to make me something special and unique.  Maybe it’s because I create hand-made gifts for a living, but I’m so thankful when I receive one.

When the kids were younger, I would get a big kick out of teaching and helping them to make gifts for our family and friends and even their friends.  We would make plaster hand-prints for grandparents day or a beaded necklace for a classmate, or at Christmas (which is my favorite time of the year) making ornaments for the tree.  I just recently used a homemade sugar scrub my daughter made for me while at vacation bible school,  it brought a huge smile to my face. I not only love hand-made gifts but cards too. A handmade card says more than any store bought card you could ever purchase.  My oldest daughter loves doing this and making me cry big crocodile tears with her beautiful words.



Basket Case: Confessions of an Aspiring Entrepreneur

A Basket Case Blog ImageI started The Personal Gift Basket Company over eleven years ago, after giving birth to our last daughter.  Creating unique gifts and gift wrapping has always been a passion of mine and I wanted a way to turn that into a profitable business, so I did. On top of owning my own business, I also work for a major financial firm (for over 15 years). I  absolutely love my job, however the goal was to start my gift basket company a year after my daughter was born, then give myself another year to leave my “full time” job.

The plan looked great on paper, however while in the middle of my third trimester, my husband’s company went through a reorganization, and he lost his job in the process. He was out of work for almost one year!  Those were some very stressful, yet prayerful times for our family but we made it through (thank you Lord).

I continued to work my full-time job and also build my business.  My job has wonderful benefits and great investing plans, so we were covered even while my husband was unemployed. Shortly after my husband found a job, my company began to produce profits which also helped us stay afloat.  With my husband finding a job, it gave me the opportunity to quit my job…but I didn’t.  I’m still working them both and I’m loving it.

Being the type A personality that I am, I have a good plan in place that allows me to work them both (and still keep all my hair).  My full-time job has allowed me to work from home for almost three years.  To make sure everything gets done, I have structured my time to work (honestly) for my full-time job and run my business when needed.  My summer schedule – while the kids are out of school looks like this (on most days):

6:00 am-7:15(20ish) am – Work gift basket business – Answering and sending emails, completing gifts to be shipped and online marketing, getting mail ready for pickup.

7:30 am – Start full-time job work

10:30 am – Take break – answer any calls that came in for my company, check emails

10:40 am – Back to work

11:30 am – Lunch break – make any needed calls for my company, make lunch for my kids and myself

12:00 pm – Back to work

2:30 pm – Take break – Check new orders and get products out and ready to create, or answer emails check voicemail

2:45 pm – Back to work

4:00 pm –  Off work

After 4 pm – Create gifts, Deliver local gifts (to residences) and ship gifts outside of local area.

Everyday is not run, run, run and when needed my husband and kids help me run the business and we hire temporary help. Most days, I’m not overwhelmed with things to do, however there are days that I can’t see straight.

On one hand, I love everything that comes with working for myself, but on the other hand, I love the security of my paycheck and benefits every other week too. At some point I will give up my full-time job, but for now it’s working.




Summer Camp Survival Kit

Camp Survival KitThis will be the first year our 11 year old daughter will attend summer camp.  The camp is for one week and I think I’m more nervous than she is, but I’m confident she’ll be just fine.  The camp sent a list of items to include in her luggage, however I wanted to do something a little extra special for her, since this is her first time being away from home.  I created a camp survival kit filled with some of her favorite things and a few new ones.




The survival kit includes:

  • Book light
  • A few of her favorite snacks
  • Letter from mom & dad
  • Camps Daze Mad Lib Book
  • Camp Bunk Box of Questions
  • Camp Journal & Autograph Book
  • Colored pens & pencils
  • Favorite lip balm
  • A picture of our whole gang

I packed the items in a cardboard box and will have it delivered to her on the second day of camp.  I know she’ll love it!




Oh No You Didn’t!: My 10 Ten Pet Peeves

shutterstock_141467968I have a few things that take me there (where ever “there” is). My “there” isn’t me pulling my hair out or yelling at someone, I just begin to feel that little vain in my temple start to pulsate a little and maybe…a twitch, but that’s it.

1. An unmade bed – I love getting into a made bed, it’s just something about it.  I feel I sleep better when my bed is made (it could be all mental).

2. A dirty or unorganized kitchen – I can’t function in a dirty or unorganized kitchen. I like knowing where things are and not having to worry about them needing to be washed when I’m trying to cook.

3. Uncontrollable kids – It’s really the parents of the uncontrollable kids I have the issue with. You know…the kid that acts out, like they have no home training – yeah that one.  And the only thing the parent says is “you stop that little Jimmy or little Suzy” and the child acts as though nothing has been said.

4. A liar – TELL THE TRUTH!!  If you tell the truth, you don’t have to try to remember what you said before. It’s very hard to believe the words that come out of the mouth of a person who’s known to lie.

5. A “One-Upper” – This person cannot let you have your moment without you knowing what they have done. They have to have one up on you.

6. Smacking while eating or eating with your mouth open – I don’t really have to say too much about that, it’s just gross.

7. A bragger – This person (unlike the one-upper) doesn’t need to hear what you’ve done, oh no!  The bragger makes sure you know who they’re wearing (and it’s not from last year’s collection), what fancy restaurant they had dinner at (and of course what they ate), what car their driving (year, and model will also be included somewhere in the conversion), and so on.

8. Cleaning around things – Pick up the object clean under it and put the object back down, that’s it.  Dust bunnies do not need a roof over their head.

9. Left up toilet seat – If you are married or have raise boys, you know what I’m talking about.  Nothings funny about falling into the toilet water at 2 in the morning when you don’t realize the seats up.

10. Dirty butter – I don’t like opening up my butter container and seeing what someone ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner



App-solutley! My Top 10 Apps I Love

Phone Apps Image

Technology has come a long way.  I remember my first cell phone called the bag phone, this thing gave me an arm workout whenever I used it.  Today, you don’t have to worry about getting an arm workout, but you can go into to app overload from all the things phones can do today. I love the freedom to accomplish things I would normally do on my home computer, now it’s all at my fingertips.  I can organize and maintain coupons, keep up with my business travel mileage, create shopping lists, plan breakfast, lunch and dinner, check balances in my accounts, transfer money to my kids or other accounts, pay bills, track exercise and eating habits – that’s my whole day!  I used to be one of those people that would look at someone with their nose in their phone and wonder what they could possibly be doing…now I know.

Below are my top 10 apps I use on my iphone.




1. Groupon – I can search, purchase and even redeem my coupons right from my phone.

2. Car Insurance App – In the event of an accident, my insurance company’s app helps me through the process of collecting information, taking photographs of the accident and requesting towing service.  On top of that, I can get information on discounts hotels, car rentals and restruants who offer discounts for my insurance.  Roadside assistance is also a breeze with this app.

3. PayPal Here – Owning a business, I have to be ready. PayPal Here is a great, convenient way to accept credit cards on where ever I am.  Just swipe and sign.

4. Walgreens – I can upload pictures directly to the site, I can refill my prescriptions and also track my rewards.

5. My Fitness Pal – I track my daily food and exercise, I can also track my weight goals. I can even share them with my accountability partners.

6. Run Keeper – This GPS based app  keeps track of my walking or running, works well when I’m entering my exercise data in my My Fitness Pal app.

7. Food Network, In The Kitchen – I LOVE this app.  I can store recipes I find on the site in my Recipe Box and create shopping lists.  A great feature for me is each recipe is broken down to let you know the total time it takes to make the recipe.  It breaks it down cook time and prep time.

8. Bank App – Most banks have apps now, and I love the convenience of being able to see balances, alerts and transfer funds.

9. Period Tracker – Okay ladies, I know this might be one of those TMI type things, but I love this app.  I’m the one who goes into the gynecologist office and can never remember when my last period was.  This app makes that problem non-existent.

10. Bible Gateway – Reading my Bible daily is very important to me, however sometimes my days don’t allow me to get the good book out and read during my quite time.  I can pull this app up anywhere and read my verses of the day and also create a study plan.

5 Tips to Make Cooking a Little Easier

5 Tips - Cooking Graphic

I enjoy cooking for my family, and one thing I like more than cooking, is being prepared to cook.  I love getting in the kitchen and having everything I need, ready to go.  Below is 5 things I do that help me stay happy in the kitchen.


1. Prewash lettuce – We recently stated eating more salads and I wanted to make the process easier.  I wash my lettuce and place in a plastic container lined with paper towels.

2. Prep Veggies – I’m not a master chef, so chop veggies takes me a little more time since I really like having all 10 of my fingers. When I make my list and I know what veggies I will need for the week, I try (this does’t happen all the time) to cut them according to how I will use them in my recipes and store them in separate containers or baggies.  I also buy extra for making my trinity (onions, bell peppers and celery) and I freeze in freezer safe bags.  This comes in handy when make almost any dish.

3. Buy precooked chickens – I purchase the rotisserie chickens from Sam’s for many recipes.  One chicken can yield approximately 4 cups of shredded meat that can be used in tacos, soups and salads.  I normally separate the shredded meat into two cup packages and freeze until needed.

4. Buy fresh (in season) fruits – We make a lot of smoothies, so I purchase fruit like bananas, blueberries, strawberries, peaches and pineapple. I freeze what I need for my smoothies in individual baggies, and the rest we eat.

The best way to freeze strawberries and blueberries is to place them on a cookie sheet – try not to over lap or touch.  Freeze until solid. Once fruit is frozen, transfer into freezer-safe baggies. Frozen fruit can last up to 6 months.

5. Clean as you go – I hate having a sink full of dirty dishes while I’m trying to cook.  Or having no room to prepare foods because my counters are full of stuff I’ve used in my cooking. I make sure I clean as I go.



Menu for the Week

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, and got a chance to spent time with the fathers in your life.  I got to share some great quality time with the hubby and the kids – I’m always so grateful for that.  Very minimal cooking done in my household this weekend due to leftovers that we try to eat up before we start a new week.  Sunday we took my hubby out for lunch and dinner for Father’s Day, but now it’s back to normal and I have our menu set for the week.


  • Spaghetti & Meatballs
  • Garden Salad
  • Dinner Rolls


  • Taco Bake
  • Garden Salad
  • Green Beans (hubby won’t eat green beans, so I make him peas)


  • Homemade pizzas
  • Garden Salad
  • Hot wings


  • Salmon Croquettes 
  • Rice
  • Brocolli


  • Leftovers


  • Barbecue Burgers & Hot Dogs (depending on weather)
  • Chips
  • Potato Salad
  • Baked Beans


  • Baked Chicken
  • Cabbage
  • Green Beans w/New Potatos
  • Buttermilk Cornbread


The Bitter Truth: 10 Ways to Clean Using Vinegar

Cleaning with Vinegar

I won’t label myself “green” however vinegar is one product I keep in my house for many different reasons.  Vinegar is not just for decorating eggs. With it’s high level of acidity, distilled white vinegar is the best, inexpensive way to get your home clean and disinfected. Below are 10 ways I use vinegar to clean my home.

  1. Mirrors – the best solution for a streak-free shine – uses equal parts white vinegar and water.
  2. Disinfectant – vinegar is known to kill both salmonella and Ecoli. I clean my wood cutting boards and countertops.  I spray full strength on surface and rinse with water.
  3. Clean diswasher – Once a month I add 2 tablespoons of vinegar with
  4. Fabric softener – added to my fabric softener (about 2 tsps to my liquid fabric softener)
  5. Remove hard water stains & mineral deposits –
  6. Clean Refrigerator – clean shelves and walls by mixing one tablespoon vinegar to 16 ounces of warm water.
  7. Freshen garbage disposal – pour approxiemently 1/4 cup into disposal, let sit a few minutes then run cold water and run disposal.
  8. Shine Stainless Appliances – mix one teaspoon vinegar to 16 ounces of water.
  9. Degreaser – apply to greasy area and rinse.
  10. Toilet cleaner – pour one cup into toilet water at night before bed – let sit overnight.  Scrub in the morning and flush.

Keep The Change ~ Ok…I’ll Take It!

I ashamedly label myself a person who does not like change.  I love routine; knowing what I’m doing (before it happens) day in and day out.  I faithfully use calendars, lists, schedules and apps to help make my life easier, balanced and in order.  For someone like myself who owns a business, the daily unknown happens. How do I deal with it you ask? Well I just handle it,  I work well under pressure and I get whatever needs to be done…done – but I don’t like it one bit. Over years of being this way, I discovered I must allocate change into my daily routine somehow, someway.

One sure-fire way that always gets me out of my stubbornness to change my routines are my kids.  They are not little-ones any more but non-the-less still want mom to do things when they want them done.  Kids (of any age) have a way of teaching us not to be so rigid and structured in our daily life. Putting aside schedules and routines is okay sometimes and I’m learning to do this better everyday.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”  ~ Winston Churchill

So today I say bring on the change!


Who Do I Say I Am?

During a recent Thirty-One party I hosted at my home, the consultant asked everyone to say one word about me.  I felt very awkward but yet so grateful listening to all my friends and family give one positive word after another about how they saw me.  All of this brought back to my remembrance a post I wrote years ago about how I see myself.  Below is a revised version of my list.

  • Christ is my solid rock – on Him I build my life.
  • I try to see the good in everyone.
  • I don’t think outside the box – I try to live outside the box.
  • I don’t believe people when they tell me I can’t do something.  I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength.
  • I want to leave this world full and empty – full of all the love, joy and memories given to me and empty because I chose to give it all back to those who gave them to me.
  • I want people who know me to be better because of me, directly or indirectly.
  • I love being creative and using my gifts and talents.
  • I am passionate about creating change in myself and others
  • I went from being an observer to a doer.
  • I thirst for solitude and communion and both in equal amounts.
  • I love going on a great vacation with my family.
  • I am ALWAYS thinking.
  • Being a wife, mother and grandmother have been the best gifts God could give me.
  • Being a wife and a mother have been the toughest jobs I have ever had to do.
  • I miss talking and being with the special people who God has called home.
  • I want my cake and eat it too – on a nice piece of china, with good linen and silverware.


What are your random thoughts about who you are?

~ Lisa

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