by gillian claire



Finn's Custom Pet Portrait

This blog post is a paid partnership with Responsival. All opinions expressed are my own.
I've been eyeing custom pet portraits for years. They have just the right amount of ridiculousness mixed with cuteness for any cat-obsessed household. I finally found the perfect canvas style that I couldn't resist on the Mr. & Mrs. Paw website.

The process was easy. I simply uploaded a favorite, clear photo of my cat, Finn, and chose from the may available themes on the Mr. & Mrs. Paw site. Finn makes for the perfect renaissance man, don't you think?

837BDC00-7702-4BC4-80BC-686C2BA8910A When my package arrived, I was really happy with the high quality canvas and the way they transferred Finn's photo into the image seamlessly. I then promptly burst out laughing because, I mean, this may be the most absurd yet wonderful piece of art I've ever owned. ;) I can't wait to pick one out for our other cat Melo!

You can currently grab your own custom pet portrait on the Mr. & Mrs. Paw site for 20% off using code: ENJOY20OFF

Check out the links below for some other perfect-for-cat-person items online!

Don't forget to follow Mr. Finn on Instagram!

Holiday Gift Guide for Teen Boys!

Shopping for teens is definitely challenging. Since I have a few years of experience shopping for my pre-teen & teen sons now, I wanted to share the wins to help you out this holiday season! If you're asking yourself, "What do I buy for a teenage boy?" - this post is for you.

Be sure to check out my Holiday Gift Guide for Pre-Teens post as well!

*This post contains affiliate links. I truly appreciate when you use my links to shop!

heyday Suitcase Turntable

Our 14 year old still loves his record player that we bought him a few years ago. He can connect it to bluetooth to play music from his phone as well!

Perfect for your teen's backpack or sports bag to make sure you can always get ahold of them. (If you know, you know...)

Such a fun blast from the past and really popular with kids right now!

The perfect mini-diffuser to keep your teen's room smelling fresh. (Orange essential oil is my favorite!)

Such a fun gift set for the newest shaver in the family.

All the kids are wearing Carhartt these days, trust me.

The perfect bedside table touch light that is also bluetooth compatible!

This is on my teen's wishlist this year - because what's a shower without music I guess?

Liquid IV is a non-GMO electrolyte drink mix and makes a great gift for the sporty teen in your life! 

Another one straight off my teenage son's wishlist this year... his first grown-up wallet. 😊

These are apparently the "it" shoe this season! There are many different colors available, my son is asking for white.

These are all over the internet right now and would make a perfect stocking stuffer for those hormonal years!

My 11 and 14 year old sons both have these in their room. Easy to install and honestly look super cool at night!


What are you gifting your teen this year? Leave a comment below so we can swap ideas!

Holiday Gift Guide for Pre-Teen Boys!

The pre-teen/teen years are in full force at my house as Roman + Asher are 11 and 14 now. (Can you even believe it?) It was definitely a shift holiday-shopping wise, and I still a struggle to find gifts that my boys aren't going to roll their eyes at on Christmas morning! Now that I've found a groove with shopping for my teenie-boppers, I thought I'd share some of my best finds that have been a hit over the past few years! (Plus a few additional ideas.)


Be sure to check out my Holiday Gift Guide for Teen Boys post as well!

*This post contains affiliate links. I truly appreciate when you use my links to shop!

heyday Suitcase Turntable

One of the best gift suggestions I have for your pre-teen! The best part is that these are bluetooth-compatible and able to play music outside of records as well. 

How fun is this? Such a unique gift and the perfect game for your pre-teen to share with their friends as well.  

I've been a LipSmacker fan since 3rd grade... so many fun options and this soda collection pack makes a fun pre-teen stocking stuffer!

I can attest to the popularity of Crocs by how many collect by my front door when the boys have friends over... My boys love to throw these on when they head out the door for basketball practice.

Is your pre-teen also obsessed with Stranger Things? Our whole family loves this show and this graphic novel set is a great way to convince your kiddo to "read" a little during holiday break.

A cute mini-diffuser, perfect for your pre-teen's room as they enter the smellier years of childhood...

This was a hit present for our 11 year old last year!

My 11 year old has quite the collection of Funko Pops in his room. These are an inexpensive present and there are many options from sports players to superheroes to characters from all the popular shows.

What pre-teen doesn't want a bean bag chair in their room? If your guy doesn't have one yet - this is the year!

Such a fun blast from the past and really popular with kids right now.

The smiley-face trend makes me so happy... my boys both have smiley face socks & slippers. This may make it into the stockings this year.

My sons both have these in their room. Easy to install and honestly look super cool at night!


What are you gifting your pre-teen this year? Leave a comment below so we can swap ideas!


Denver Staycation: Hilton Garden Inn Denver Union Station

This blog post is in partnership with Hilton Garden Inn Denver Union Station. All opinions expressed are my own.

Winter this year has felt long and my family has been in desperate need of a getaway. Since the boys are between basketball seasons right now, we planned a little Denver staycation weekend which was exactly what we all needed!

Untitled (1500 × 1000 px)

We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Denver Union Station, nestled right in downtown Denver between Union Station, Coors Field, and the Museum of Contemporary Art! This was such a perfect spot for a combination of relaxing at the hotel during the day and venturing into downtown in the evening.

Photo Mar 26, 1 55 28 PMUntitled (1500 × 1000 px)HiltonUntitled (1500 × 1000 px)

Roman and I love exploring a new hotel and we had fun finding all the cozy lounge spots, with the real prize being the 54 foot heated indoor pool featuring an incredible view of the city! The highlight of the weekend for the boys was definitely the pool - we went 3 times!

Untitled (1500 × 1000 px)We enjoyed breakfast at the Garden Lane Canteen found right in the lobby! The kids loved the combination of ordering a hot breakfast but also being able to the enjoy all the perfect hotel breakfast buffet items as well.  

Overall, our weekend was the perfect mix of relaxing in clean, white hotel bedding, laughing with the family at the pool, and exploring downtown Denver. I loved that the Hilton Garden Inn Denver Union Station felt more like a true "experience" vs. just a place to stay the night. We can't wait to return!


5 Best Money Making Apps

Are you like me and always looking for ways to make a little extra cash? It can be hard to tell which apps/websites are legitimate ways to make money. I'm sharing my 5 favorite resources that really work! These are all fun, easy ways that I earn extra money!

*contains affiliate links

1. Acorns

I am thrilled I found Acorns which is an investment/savings app rolled into one. I've earned money & saved more as well since opening my account! You can withdrawal money to your linked checking account at any time. This one does cost a few dollars a month to use but it's worth it compared to what you will quickly earn/save!

Experts do the investing for you in stocks such as Nike, Walmart, Grubhub etc. No prior knowledge is needed which is perfect because I had no idea where to start with investing!

Acorns gives the option to round up your spare change on purchases made with your debit card directly into your Acorns account, creating savings for you + investing your change at the same time! I've made over $100 in investments so far and saved a big chunk of money by simply automatically setting aside my spare change!

There are other ways to use Acorns as well such as depositing an extra $5 or $10 a week into your account. My Acorns account has been a game changer in stepping up my savings strategy. This app is literally awesome

Start off with $5 in your account by setting one up today!

2. Ibotta

Ibotta is the most lucrative coupon app in my eyes. I love using Ibotta to earn cash back  simply by scanning receipts! Once you earn $20, you can cash out to your bank account or PayPal. I've cashed out many times on Ibotta & you really rack up $$$ quickly!

The easiest way to earn money on Ibotta is from grocery purchases. Each week there are a selection of grocery items from different stores featured on Ibotta. Some of the items are brand specific (such as Eggo Waffles) but there are also generic options like "bread" or "cereal". You go through the list selecting each item that appears on your grocery receipt, scan each item's barcode and then scan the receipt using your phone.

Download the Ibotta app to easily earn cash back from receipts!

3. Fetch

Fetch is fairly new to me but I finally downloaded this app after reading great reviews  and it's proving to live up to the hype! With Fetch, you easily add up points for every receipt you scan. Points can then be redeemed for gift cards or other prizes! On Fetch, you earn for specific items similar to Ibotta but also just in general for each receipt. There is no scanning items so you quickly and easily receive points in seconds!

Use my code: U7MHM or click here to get $2 automatically in your account when you sign up!

4. Shopkick

There are a few ways to earn points using Shopkick. My favorite and easiest way is to "check in" at different stores. You literally just open the app on your phone and click on the store that you are currently inside! Points can also be earned by scanning selected items inside the store or connecting the app to your credit card to earn points with purchases. Points can be cashed in for gift cards. I always get the Target gift cards and they can be scanned at checkout right off the app!

Use my code: FUN321438 or click here to earn 250 kicks automatically after you use Shopkick for the first time! 

5. Receipt Pal

I like this app because it's super simple + fast. All that's required to earn points is scanning any receipt! For every 4 receipts, you earn 100 points, easy peasy. Points can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards and we all love Amazon, am I right?!

Download Receipt Pal + start earning gift cards!

I hope you found a new app or two to download today. You may as well earn a little money by simply rounding up spare change or scanning receipts before tossing them! I love using what I earn from my apps for Christmas presents + my Acorns account has truly stepped up my savings game for the future! Leave a comment and let us know if you have a favorite way of making extra money that needs to be added to the list!


"Take Two."

Photos: 2017- Ash by the creek, our now house in the background.

Life is lived in circles. Circling the sun, through seasons... and for the 7 years we’ve lived in this neighborhood, we’ve been circling around these paths & trails as well. I have countless pictures of my boys through the years in the same spots. Tiny with big trees, playing in front of mountains, standing by the creek soaked in sunflare. So many walks during some of the darkest times for me. Years ago, in therapy, I shared that the only time I felt peace was on my daily walk and my therapist suggested, “take two.”

These trails hold many ghosts for me, good and bad. Walking to forget & distract but also to be with nature & with my sweet growing boys. I see them through the years, picking flowers, riding scooters, running, laughing, pushing our cat in the stroller... So many memories swirling and circling, sometimes my brain can’t catch up to how we got to today. But we’re here, feet planted as the world still moves.

In July, we bought a house right next to this creek & green path. I’ve been here hundreds of times, so many pictures and memories made. And in the background of those photos, now- I see my future. My fence, our house waiting.

One foot in front of the other, the loops don’t stop. I’m still prone to using distraction to cope. Quiet is always unsettling for me. As the memories spin, I try to sort through these collected snapshots flipping through my mind. I want to learn that I don’t need to constantly be on the chase. But when the stillness gets hard, I’ll keep walking. Circling the past, present & future- trying to make sense of it all.



Idaho Sunsets

For months we've all been seemingly looking at the same things every day. Whatever our views may be... there is a similar sameness to the routine. For 7 months, we've been locked down. 

For us, Quarantine has looked like:

-two parents juggling 40 hour work weeks,

-two bored kids doing 100% virtual school,

-losing my freelance Virtual Assistant work for the time being but being truly thankful to not be working extra during this time and for somehow maintaining a full-time job,

-house hunting like crazy & putting offers on 3 houses,

-buying a home in Colorado, *a huge blessing

-adopting the little white kitten of our dreams, *blessing #2, I've been manifesting this Colorado house & white kitten and they both came true this summer. 

-many tears of overwhelm, guilt & stress, (why do we carry so much unnecessary weight?)

-moments of worry about making the right choices and keeping our kids safe,

-moving/packing/purging an entire home for the second time in a calendar year,

-diving into renovations, 

-going off my antidepressants & struggling with a huge dip in emotions,

-thankful to be some of the lucky ones who kept their jobs & health but thankful amidst pure exhaustion.


The past 7 months have seemed consumed with an unbelievable turn of events on earth: a pandemic, mandatory mask wearing, rules & guidelines we never imagined we'd experience in our lifetime. Our nation has experienced a strong but inevitable divide as we approach this year's election. We've looked towards friends & family members and asked, "how?" as we find our beliefs so drastically opposing. Our land feels filled with devastation: floods, hurricanes & fires. Our fire here in northern Colorado has been raging & growing for over 2 months strong.

The past 7 months have been overwhelming & honestly lonely for me. One of the best decisions we made recently was to get away. We took a 4 day road trip from Colorado through Wyoming, Montana & stayed in Idaho. It was the best decision to spend 4 days constantly lifting our eyes towards something beautiful. 

Our last night in town Aaron, Asher & I  drove down the back road behind our resort looking for rocks and I took pictures of cows.

These were my absolute favorite moments of the trip... silence for miles around, massive mountains reminding me just how little our problems are. My husband looking for rocks with my sweet little boy, and me: taking pictures of some of my favorite animals standing strong as the sun went down. 

The past 7 months have been so ridiculously hard.

I seem to be going through the motions but when I close my eyes, sometimes I still see this Idaho sunset. 

Island Park, Idaho
late September, 2020


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