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Blake and I celebrate our anniversary at the end of February, and we love to make a big deal out of it! Usually when January 1st rolls around I start thinking about what gift to get him. Some years I know exactly what to buy and other times it's a little harder. My husband happens to be incredibly picky. I've definitely had some misses over the last 9 years. In fact, I think men in general are hard to buy for! 

On the other hand, I've also bought some things for him that he loves and has now had for years. I thought I would compile a little list of some really great gifts for guys in case the man in your life is also hard to shop for. 

Gift Ideas for Guys (

Blake is a huge fan of this razor. It's very nice, and well made with a decent weight to it. Major bonus points with me for being an excellent way to save money too. Replacement blades are so inexpensive- you can get 100 blades for less than $10. 

Blake loved this watch box so much that we ended up buying it for 2 other people as gifts! This is a great way to organize and display your watches. 

This is something that you don't even know you want until you have it! It's very easy to install on the back of your tv and you can change the color to suit your decor. The idea is that the contrasting color will make your tv image more vibrant. We have it on the tv in our living room, but it would be even better on a game room tv. You can see it on our tv in this post!

This ended up being a great buy, and something we've ended up buying for someone else too! This weekender is the perfect duffel bag for a 2-3 nights. It's really masculine and well made. I bought the khaki color for Blake but we've also purchased the gray. 
Patio Cooler Cart
This cooler is such a staple on our back porch! It's great for parties, and looks really good next to the grill!

This is on the pricier side of this list, but I wanted to share it because this is Blake's favorite watch. I got it for him on our 5th anniversary. We both got each other watches that year! This really is a beautiful watch, and I bet you'd get bonus points if you presented it in the watch box above! 

This is hands down the best mirror to have in your shower for shaving! It's pretty ingenious, but you fill the mirror up with water in your shower so it does not fog at all. I think I bought this for Blake over 6 years ago, and it's still going strong! 

And for fun I thought I'd include a few things I intend to buy for my husband! So in full disclosure I have not bought this so I can't attest to it's quality yet! Blake is a gin guy, so I thought this would be a unique and tailored gift for him. 
Smart watches have come such a long way in a short amount of time! This looks like a classic watch, yet it's got some really cool smart features. Blake likes to research things very thoroughly, especially technology-so this is something I'm going to have to straight up ask him if he'd be into. And I don't think I would buy the latest model. My goal would be to find one generation back on Ebay and hopefully save some money.  
And while you are gifting, make sure to do yourself a favor and get this gift wrap organizer! I bought this last year on the recommendation of Erica, and it's sooo great! 

So this year, I asked Blake what he wanted and he told me a video card for his computer...ultra romantic right?! Well I will get him that because he wants it, but I am also excited because I just noticed my Ebates check will be arriving on the 15th - just in time to buy him something extra! I think I am going to go with the Fossil smartwatch, but only after I find out what he thinks of them.  

Here is my old married lady advice: have your man set up an Amazon wishlist! Both Blake and I set up wish lists and we add things to it throughout the year. It's the perfect way to know what we are both hoping to get, and you can still maintain a little surprise. 

While we usually do tangible gifts, I also LOVE giving and receiving experience gifts. In fact, I really feel that unless you know for sure someone is going to like something, you shouldn't get them a physical item. 

Leave a comment below if you have a hard to shop for husband (or boyfriend or dad!)! Does it feel like sometimes you have the perfect idea and other times nothing comes to mind? What is the best gift you ever got for them that they loved? Any misses?
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Gifts For Him That You Can Buy On Amazon

Monday, January 28, 2019

I had hoped to have everything ironed out really quickly, but you know how these things go. Blogging has taught me so much more than I expected. Who knew you needed some knowledge about domains and html to share pictures from your life. 

Anyway, I just wanted to talk a bit more about the changes I am making to my blog and explain why I felt like it was time for a change!

Changes to my Blog!

Why I Decided To Change It Up
When starting a blog the hardest thing to do is come up with a name! Pugs & Pearls really did suit me, and both of those things are still great loves of mine. However, I've been contemplating a switch up for awhile now. Having a website that only bears my name feels a bit more all encompassing. Blogging under the title Pugs & Pearls made me feel like I had to stay within certain parameters. I never liked the idea of a niche, even though I know it can be a very successful way to blog. That's just not why, or how I blog.

Blogging under my own name makes me feel like I can write about whatever I want. It's not that I didn't before, but I feel the freedom to now. This space has always been where I could write about my life, and what better title to do that under than my own name. 

What You Can Expect
Things aren't changing that much! For the past year I've found that posting once a week works for me, and that should continue. Although, I have already felt much more inspired to write with this little revamp. Hopefully that will equal more content for you! 

If you read on Bloglovin, don't worry! I've already migrated you. You will see posts from just like you did from Pugs & Pearls without interruption. Thankfully Disqus made it painless to transfer all of your comments too, so I will happily continue our previous conversations! 

The only thing that hasn't quite worked out seamlessly is redirecting my old url to the new one. So that means there has been an interruption in Pins on Pinterest and the people who typed into their search bar might be wondering what's going on. I've gotten support for this issue and hopefully that will be settled soon!

Oh how I wish it could have gone over without a hitch, but hey, nothing ever does. Mainly, I just want to express that I'm glad you are following along, and I hope that tweaks like this will make this space serve you better. I blog for me, obviously or it wouldn't have lasted this long. But it's sort of contingent on it being an easy reading experience too.

Leave a comment for me and let me know what you think! If you've ever changed up your blog this way, I'm dying to hear how it went for you and please leave your best tips! Thanks everyone!

Blog Changes

Friday, January 25, 2019

Dropping in on this blustery Wednesday to say don't be alarmed! Things are changing a little bit around here. Pugs & Pearls is now officially! Bear with me as I try to get things redirected, and I will definately be talking more about this update soon!

Welcome to

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

I feel like lifestyle blogging is really challenging to find balance with! It seems like the more things we have going on, the more topics I have to write about, but less time to do it. Then when we have a slower season, I don't have much to share! 

Because I haven't done this style of post in a while, I've actually got quite a few photos to share! 

Every season EC has a box you can order, full of surprise goodies. I had quite the surprise when I got a giant box delivered to my house. Blake was rolling his eyes at me, because I was swearing up and down all I had ordered was a notebook. Well surprise! I got a free seasonal surprise box! This is something I probably wouldn't have bought for myself, but it was really fun to get! 

My favorite thing in the box was this great mug! I've been using it every morning for my hot tea. Use my link to sign up for Erin Condren and get a $10 gift card!

Smart Bulbs and My New Lamp
It's probably silly to be excited over a lamp, but I've been wanting to add a lamp to our dining room for months, and we finally found the perfect one! Lamp lighting really changes the mood of a room. 

Another fun thing we just did was change all of our main lamp light bulbs with smart bulbs! It's kind of a frivolous thing to do, but we love it. We have Google homes throughout the house and it's easy to turn lights off and on with them. My favorite feature by far though, is that these bulbs are dimmable. Some rooms need bright lights, but when you are watching a movie or getting ready for bed, it's really nice to dim the lights. 

Family Time
We've had lots of family time lately! Blake's parents were with us at the end of December, we had a family wedding reception to attend, I've done some babysitting, and we spent the weekend with my parents that included a visit with my Grandparents! 

Disney Day!
We spent one day last week at Disney with Blake's cousin and her husband. It was so much fun! This was the first time the 4 of us have done something together, just us, so we really enjoyed that. We really wanted to make sure they got their moneys worth so we got to Animal Kingdom when it opened and park hopped to Magic Kingdom and stayed there until it closed! I'm talking 27,000 steps and 11 miles....We had such a fun day, but I was recovering from that for days! 

We wanted someone to take our picture in front of the castle, and all of the cast members had really long lines. (They will want to take a photo with their camera, but they will always use your camera too!) Looking around we decided that the best person to ask to take your picture was the one who was literally laying on the ground to get the perfect Instagram shot of her friend. She didn't speak English-but she got a great shot! 

Day Date
It is SO rare for Blake and I both to have a day off and nothing important to do. We took advantage of it and drove up to the closest State Park for a little hike. I had picked out a 3 mile trail, but the trail head was flooded because of all the rain we've been having. So we just did a shorter trail. It was such an unusually warm day so we really enjoyed being outside. And we packed a picnic! Blake declared that I am probably the only person to bring cloth napkins to a picnic in this century.

Pug Pictures!
It probably doesn't surprise you that I always have a plethora of pug pictures to share!

I am LOVING Beachbody on Demand! It's so easy to use and I've really enjoyed trying out different workouts. Blake has been doing one of their ten minute workouts too. I have the Turbofire DVDs but BOD has bonus Turbo workouts that I've never done before-which has been nice to add to the mix. 

My favorite time workout is first thing in the morning. I have to trap the pugs in our bedroom, otherwise they will get in the way! You can see a perfect example of that below...Blake joined me for the stretch portion on my workout and Winston made himself comfortable.

Okay, that's it from me! We've been busy, but it's been a manageable pace! I'm just trying to enjoy the little things! Leave me a comment with what you've been up to lately! 

Affiliate Links present!

Life Lately

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

If I had to pinpoint a reason for it, doing social media free weekends has caused me to look at my phone in a new light. Instagram is sort of a vortex for me. I always intend to just check it for recent updates and then get caught up in the explore page. Forcing myself to do without social media for a few days once a month has caused me to rethink how I use my phone. (I'm sure getting a brand new phone a few weeks ago had something to do with it too.) 

Instead of social media apps, I have found that I am using my phone for a lot of other things. And I don't mean calling people...haha! Let's be honest, I only call my immediate family and those 2 or 3 out of town friends. So, besides texting, there are a few apps that I've been using a lot lately, and I thought I'd share my recent favorites! 

Favorite Apps!

This app is the single handed reason why I was able to meet my reading goal last year! Sitting down to read an actual book feels impossible. Even if I'm able to find the time, I swear I fall asleep as soon as I sit still. (It's a blessing and a curse.) 

Libby is an app by Overdrive- which connects to your local library. You can check out ebooks and audiobooks from your library's collection. It works just like the library. You have a certain amount of days to read the book and then it gets turned back in. The more popular books have a waitlist and you can place a hold and wait your turn. I try to check the app at least every couple of days to see when new books are added. Otherwise the more popular books have really long waitlists!

I've been on Goodreads for ages, but I fell back in love with it since I've been reading more. Goodreads is the perfect tool for bookmarking books you want to read, and for discovering what to read next. I really appreciate the community's reviews-some of them are right on the money. So many bloggers do book reviews and I often open Goodreads alongside their posts so I can remember their recommendations. 

So, this is an old favorite, but I continue to be obsessed with Google Photos! I just helped my sister upload all of her old photos off her desktop and it reminded me just how cool this app is. ALL of my photos are in Google photos (like old school digital camera pictures too!), and my phone automatically adds anything new I take. You can search by date or by FACE!! It's so useful. 

An anecdote: We were talking about mini golf, and my husband brought up a time we played when we were in the outer banks. He remembered the course being really run down and old, and I remembered it being really nice. I pulled up Google Photos and typed 'mini golf' into the search bar and it pulled up every picture I had ever taken that looked like mini golf or regular golf for that matter. Low and behold there was the photo from the trip we had taken and it clearly showed the immaculate mini golf course. 

It's also really helpful when someone asks you to provide photos for a slideshow-all you have to do is search by the persons face and there is every picture you have of them. 

Blake and I also share our accounts with each other, so I can see all of his pictures and he can see mine. No more "send me that picture!", because it's already there. 

And! If you ever travel with someone, or go to a party- you can create an shared album and have everyone upload their photos to share. It's so convenient! We did a girl's tea party last spring, and the hostess asked me to take pictures of everyone. I made a Google album to make sharing those pictures easier. I ended up granting everyone permission to upload their photos to the album too, and it was really cool to see all of the selfies and the different combinations of friends that I didn't get a shot of. 

At the outset I mentioned using my phone for other things besides Instagram, so this is kind of funny to include in the list. Unfold is a really cool way to make collages specifically for Insta Stories. You can include both photo and video into the collages which make them really unique! I found there is a little bit of a learning curve with Unfold, but it's fun to play around with. You can end up with really professional looking Stories.

You guys sick of me talking about Ebates yet? I keep talking about it because it's so crazy that I didn't use it for so long. I have gotten 2 real life checks so far, and my next one is currently just under $200. 

I use the Chrome extension and it alerts me whenever there is cash back at stores I'm already shopping at. You just activate the cashback and shop like normal. Once you check out your purchase is tracked and you get the percentage of cash back in your account. Then they cut a check each quarter. I can't wait to get my check this fall when it includes 10% back from my Netherlands plane tickets! 

As I mentioned, I mainly use the Chrome extension but the app is really useful too. You can shop through the app and it always suggests promo codes too.

Use my referral link and get a free $10 when you do your first purchase!

Blake and I both made it a goal to brush up on our Spanish this year. I took Spanish in school and then used a lot when I was in Nicaragua. But not much since. With our volunteer construction and maintenance work we've been working a lot with groups that speak Spanish. While we haven't had any major miscommunications, it is nice for everyone to be on the same page-and language has a big effect on that. DuoLingo has been so much fun to use and it's really helped!

You can set a goal to practice just a few minutes every day, and I think the learning techniques are right on point. I plan to set it to Dutch in a few months so that I will know a few words for our trip! 

It's amazing that our phones can do so much! Communication is obviously a huge proponent, but I love that we can use these devices for self improvement and education. One goal I'd like to work on is taking more pictures with my phone. My new phone has a pretty stellar camera, and I'd like to play around with it more! 

Leave a comment below with your favorite non-social-media apps! I'd love to know what you use on a regular basis. Is it a game or some productivity tool? Tell me I'm not the only one obsessed with Google Photos!

6 of My Recent Favorite Phone Apps

Monday, January 7, 2019


Hi friends! I'm Kristen, and this is the Life and Style of an early 30's Floridian living the Best Life Ever, with her husband and three pugs. Runner | Avid Reader | Small Shop Owner

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