Last Minute Gift: Vellabox Candle Subscription

My gift guide has only one thing on it: Vellabox candles. 

I first met Vellabox last year and I loved it at first sight. It’s the only subscription box that has come along that I would actually recommend. Clothes, makeup? No thank you. But candles? I burn through candles like crazy. I love their glow and the way they fill a space with the scent of my choice.

The thing is, I don’t actually go candle shopping. Sometimes I wind up in the candle section at a store by accident. So the idea of a box of candles showing up at my house every month sounds like a dream to me.

Also, I don’t really go shopping. So I’ve been ordering gifts online almost exclusively this holiday season, and I’m definitely running out of time. This year we’ll be traveling to see family at Christmas time, so I have to keep everything light and/or shipped to our destination.

vellabox packaging

vellabox candles

That’s why Vellabox is the perfect gift idea for you – it’s only a few days ’til the end of Hannukah and one week ’til Christmas! If you order a Vellabox subscription now, your loved one will get a surprise gift of warmth and deliciousness later. (You can snag a fancy candle from a local store to wrap it up with the printed certificate, but I would just print that and stick in our holiday card.) This is truly a last minute gift that keeps on giving!

vellabox office candle

Vellabox subscriptions are $10-$30 per month. Each comes with at least one candle and a surprise gift, and the boxes at all levels are lovingly hand-packed, making the unboxing experience a delight in someone’s day. This box is the “Vivere” box, that comes with 2 candles and a surprise gift.

I received a complimentary Vellabox. I shared one of the candles and the snack treat with my family, but I kept Granma’s Pumpkin Pie for myself. ūüėČ All opinions are my own.

Unique Birth Announcements at Basic Invite

Guess what everyone! I had a baby! Look, I even made a birth announcement!

unique birth announcements baby brady

Okay, that was 10 years ago, but it’s never too late to announce it, right?

Right?

Oh, yeah. It kind of is. In fact, by the tenth year, they just call that a birthday party invitation.

Still, I had fun playing around with the baby boy birth announcements on a new-to-me site called Basic Invite.

When I first visited Basic Invite I was drawn in by their beautiful and easily customizable wedding invitations, RSVP cards, and all of the wedding-related stationery. It made me want to get married! But since my own wedding was 15 years ago and I won’t be having another one, I’ll just have to admire their pretty pictures and hope I get invited to one.

Same with the unique birth announcements offered on Basic Invite. These did not exist (at least online, affordably) when my kids were born. I guess if they did, I was in a new-mom-induced haze and figured my blog posts about them were enough. But look at all of the amazing options new parents have now to mail a physical announcement of the new life they brought into the world.

birth announcement boy in hat

Just like with holiday card websites, you can choose the layout of your card, and you can pick from many different artsy templates of font and color. Basic Invite has organized their templates by theme (botanical, rustic, simple, etc.) to help you narrow the choices down if you wish. And of course you can preview everything before you order. But Basic Invite offers a few different things that I haven’t seen before.

-Colors: other sites give you a few choices for color backgrounds in their templates, but Basic Invite lets you customize them with almost¬†any¬†color. How many times have you had the perfect photo and the perfect layout, but that green isn’t quite right? Here you can tweak each element of the card until it’s perfect.

-Printed samples: not only can you preview your design on the screen, but you can also get a sample sent to you in the mail so that you can see what your design looks like printed, and feel the quality of the paper.

When I¬†decided to play with the customizable birth announcements¬†even though my youngest baby just turned 10 (sob), I found that my favorite feature is indeed that you can customize every little part of this design. Here’s the template’s basic setup:

unique birth announcements basic template

I changed the photo, removed the giraffe’s tutu, and changed the color and content of the text. It was super easy and I got to use whatever colors I wanted. I could even change the background color too but I like this simple layout.

Along with their 40 different envelope colors, free address uploading service, and the pretty, pretty designs, Basic Invite’s custom features make this site stand out among all the other online stationery services. If you are having a baby or a grandchild anytime soon, bookmark this site and start playing with some designs! (Also please tell me about it – I only get my baby fixes in with other people’s babies now!¬†I love to smell new baby heads. It’s one of the most delicious smells on Earth.)

Lucky you, there’s a promotion on birth announcements running now, too. Use the code BIRTH40 to get 40% off these unique birth announcements at Basic Invite! (You don’t have to send me one, but I sure would be delighted.)

Thank you to Basic Invite for sponsoring this post. All opinions, and a sudden strong urge to hold and smell a baby, are my own.

Nintendo Switch Preview

Kids playing video games

Last weekend my boys and I got to play some games on the new Nintendo Switch! We attended a launch event in Hollywood, and as I noted on Instagram, it was totally worth the drive. 

video game player and girl with multicolored hair

We’ve been anticipating the Switch’s arrival for months, and the boys were really excited that it is finally here. I’m still super old-school, so I am content to play LEGO Star Wars on the Wii U (and let’s face it, I would have been fine playing Atari for the rest of my life if things hadn’t evolved from there) but I was definitely curious.

Mario party

The selling point of the new Switch gaming system is that it can be used as a console hooked up to your big screen TV, or taken on the road and played like a tablet. So it’s sort of a cross between the Wii U game pad and the Nintendo DS systems. When the Switch is in console mode, you use the little “Joy-Cons” as multiplayer remote controls, docked in a Joy-Con grip so you can use them like a pro controller, or just use a pro controller. When you go portable with it, the Joy-Cons re-attach to the Switch and¬†you use them both to play your single player game.

Nintendo Switch product photo

There’s a great video to demonstrate these different ways to play here.

At the launch event, the kids and I mostly used the Switch in console mode, but I did take a moment to pull the unit out of the Switch dock to see what the graphics looked like when I was playing the new (and also hotly anticipated) Nintendo open-world video game Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The graphics were great on the big screen, but you can really see the definition on the Switch unit itself. It looks better than any hand-held and certainly better than the DS or 3DS.

Boy playing Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

The game is awesome. We only got to play a 20-minute demo version, but it was enough to make us all wish for a Switch and the game. Kit wakes up from a 100-year nap and gets a cool magic tablet that shows him where to go on his quest. But as Kit’s controller, you get to choose where to go, what to discover, and what to do. It’s like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, but in a video game.

Breath of the Wild screenshot

We also played some neat games that you control with the Joy-Cons: Arms (first person knock out game, which my kids mastered instantly but I could not seem to grasp) Poyo Poyo Tetris (like playing Tetris, but with Gremlins), Splatoon 2 (another kid-favorite: you get to move the world around by tilting the Switch in handheld mode), 1-2 Switch! (quick-draw fire at your opponent game), and Just Dance 2017:

You can barely see the Joy-Cons in our hands because they are so small. It makes dancing much easier than with the bulkier Wii U remotes. In these pictures we are totally rocking out to “Cake by the Ocean.” The kid beat me with his sick moves.

The launch event was a gamer’s theme park. It was the coolest arcade this side of the 1980’s, no quarters needed. (These kids today. They have no idea.)

woman under giant Mario hat

We need much more time with the Switch to give it a thorough review, but from this limited experience, I can see that it’s going to be a big hit.¬†The Switch goes for $299.99 and game cards are¬†$49.99 and up, not compatible with the Wii U or Wii. So it’s basically a platform replacement. This is a paradigm shift for the one-at-a-time console family, like we have been since getting our first system in 2009.

Not that it matters much at the moment. The Switch has sold out everywhere already! And¬†with a game release schedule spreading out the awesome new titles for several months, I’m betting they’ll continue to fly off the shelves (and out of online retailer warehouses) as fast as they come in! Check out the Switch website for more details and videos.