Monday, November 30, 2009

Bear the Bare Spot

Leave a comment or become a follower by 5:00 p.m. Central Time today to be entered into the first of four drwings for A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. I'll announce winner at blog later today and notify the winner by email. Tomorrow we start another contest for next week's drawing.

This week, the Word Quilters--Cathy Messecar, Trish Berg, Terra Hangen, Brenda Nixon, Karren Robbins, and Leslie Wilson will share tips for live Christmas trees. Over the weekend, hubby and I saw trees galore traveling on top of cars and poking their lovely branches out of trunks--all on their way to merry-up a family.

We live on a farm in South Texas, where many cedars and long leaf pines grow. For our home, we have cut most of our Christmas trees from our farm-woods. Through out the year, we watch for young pine trees that are shaping up to be the right size for a future Christmas. Nice shape, full of branches--that's what we watch for. We've never found the perfectly-perfect Christmas tree, yet, because.....

Bare spots abound.

One year, I pointed to a place on the trunk that could have used a bit more branching out, "Oh, there's a bare spot."

Our young daughter Sheryle piped up saying, "I'll get my bear for that spot." And a tradition was born. Wherever we have a gap in our tree, we perch a bear in the bare spot. A couple of years, we had several bears hibernating in the cave-like hollows.

Watch for more tree tips this week and share some of your own. When does your tree go up? When does your tree come down? Let us hear from you.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Book Giveaway!

So how was Black Friday for you? I spent the day babysitting so my kids could have the chance to start in on their Christmas shopping. Many who purchased our Christmas book last year were so delighted with it that they are buying them as Christmas gifts for others this year. If you don't have a copy yet, here's a chance to get one:

Leave a comment at our blog for your chance to win a copy of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts! There will be four given away--the first on Monday, November 30. You must leave a comment on our blog or become a follower to be eligible. Good luck!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Comments from a kind reader in Devon, Englad

We are sharing here some comments from readers of our book "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday".

One woman whose comments about our book warmed my heart is Monix who lives in Devon, England.
I love Devon, England, by the way, and have not met Monix in person, though I find her blog charming and recommend that you visit it.
Here is what she wrote on September 27, 2009 on her blog at

"I recently bought a copy of Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts and I recommend it to anyone who wants to recapture the real spirit of Christmas."

I love to see our book being read and enjoyed around the world and I understand it is being sold to readers in India and South Africa in addition to the United Kingdom. It is fun to imagine it in the hands of a reader I don't know, who is enjoying reading it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cheap Finds

Bargains are in my blood. Generations of Porters and Bentleys have haggled over pennies at flea markets and yard sales. My own parents bought freshly ironed and starched dresses for their baby girl (me) from garage sales in Highland Park, near where Southern Methodist University (SMU) is located. Cost: 25-50 cents apiece!

I conditioned my kids from an early age to spend Friday mornings driving around town, occasionally venturing into neighboring cities for hidden treasure.

Armed with Cheerios® and Capri Sun®, they quickly learned how to stretch a dollar—their allotted amount—into something special. The boys usually bought action guys (their term for boy dolls) or balls of any kind, while Molly spent her money on books or stuffed animals. We uncovered fabulous finds, some of which are still in our lives.

In today’s post, I get to share a few of my “Favorite Finds” with you. Sorry, gang, but no way could I limit this to just one! Here’s my short list:
• A yellow stepladder splattered with paint. I bought this from my friend Sarah Walker for $2.00. Today it houses candles and a basket filled with hand towels in our guest bathroom.
Baby-Sitter Club® books. For $5.00 my daughter Molly enjoyed hours upon hours of fun, wholesome reading material.
Black leather pants. They looked like they’d never been worn. It costs me more to send them to the cleaners than it did to purchase them! Price: $2.00. No kidding! I didn’t even negotiate. Though I rarely wear them in Dallas, they’re a godsend on ski trips.
A car bed. The toddler-sized homemade racecar lasted through both of our boys, helping them make the transition from crib to bed. Cost: $25.00. We used it for more than three years, then sold it at our own yard sale for $15.00!
A Coca-Cola® thermometer. I paid the “full price” of 50 cents and gave the vintage thermometer to my sister-in-law who collects all things Coca-Cola®. Imagine my surprise when I found the identical item—priced at $50.00—in an antique store.
A short wood shelf. Though it’s final coat is navy blue, light sanding revealed myriad colors underneath. All this $5.00 treasure took was a little sanding, then a wipe clean to make it suitable for our main hallway of our rustic, hill country-style home. (Hint: A rustic or shabby-chic decorating style makes it easy to incorporate garage sale and flea market finds.)
A piano keyboard. For $50.00, my daughter has been able to practice piano for going on three years. Would you believe the organized owners still had the operations manual, and the price included a portable stand?
• My all-time favorite: A Onesie® sleeper that looked like a tuxedo. We dressed both boys in it for their baby dedications at church. Both times, the outfit—inhabited by squirming, smiling baby boys—elicited grins and chuckles from church congregations.

At Charlie’s dedication, our pastor briefly “interviewed” us about the significance of our role as parents and the importance of that day. To my surprise he commented on the outfit, “This is certainly a special outfit. What can you tell me about it?” Like a deer in headlights, I froze—unable to come up with anything but the truth. “I bought it at a garage sale for a quarter,” I blurted out. The congregation roared. So much for coming off as a Spiritual Giant—ready to lead her young son into deep scriptural truths. Instead, I showed my true nature: Finder of a Good Deal!

Perhaps bargains are in your blood as they are mine. You detest paying retail—even if the item is on sale. Instead, we smart-shopping, bargain-hunting deal-finders resist the urge, letting somebody else buy it and break it in. Then we can swoop in and buy it at their garage sale the next season.

OK, now it’s your turn. What’s the all-time best bargain you found at a flea market, garage, yard, estate or tag sale, or a resale shop? Brag away!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Comments by Brenda Nixon

Reader reactions and comments to A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts have been flooding in. But my fav experiences as a co-author of this book are below:

A towering, tatooed, rotund man, with piercing eyes, who rides his motorcycle to church each Sunday, pointed at my author copy of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts and said, "I want that book for my wife."

"Do you want me to gift-wrap it for you?" I asked.

"Yes, and I'll pay you extra."

"Does she like recipes?"

"No. She doesn't cook. She'll like the stories in the book. The recipes are for me."
June, the sales clerk working for our auto mechanic, spied A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, tucked under my arm. She thumbed through the pages with "ooos" and "awwws."

"You can get this at any booksotre or online," I offered.

"Can I buy this one?"

"Sure." And after I autographed her book, June cradled it in her arms like a baby, while waiting on other customers.
Barb, the postal employee who always waits on me, whispered, "Bring me an autographed copy of your book tomorrow!"

I signed it, "To Barb ~ Keep the mail moving and enjoy the holidays."

Brenda Nixon,
Co-author, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Readers Say About SOCF - By Trish Berg

Stuff Your Own Stocking
4-Book Give-Away! The Word Quilters will give away four copies of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts~ Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday for the next four weeks. Become a follower or leave a comment to be entered. First drawing is next Monday, November 30.


I have met so many amazing folks who have been touched by A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, but the BIGGEST compliment that I ever received, the biggest inspiration, came from a twelve year old girl at my home church.

She told me that she read our book cover to cover, and is writing her next book report on SOCF. She told me that her favorite story in SOCF is the one I wrote about the first Christmas after my husband and I lost our child to miscarriage, "Angle Girl."

I am not one who loves homework, but I know I can't wait to read that book report!

SOCF continues to touch lives in ways we could never have imagined...and I am blessed to be a small part of this book and this journey.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all - Trish

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stuff Your Own Stocking

4-Book Give-Away! The Word Quilters will give away four copies of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts~ Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday for the next four weeks. Become a follower or leave a comment to be entered. First drawing is next Monday, November 30.

This week, to give you a sampling of what’s in store if you win one of the books, we’ll share some of the feedback we’ve gotten from this season or last. Last December, Lynne Ford of WBCL radio in Fort Wayne, IN hosted a one-hour live interview. She was excited about learning about “Blue Christmas” services. She said our book was the first time she’d heard about such an event.

Many communities offer Blue Christmas services for those who may be having a difficult time celebrating. Past sorrows or current tragedies can rob one of the holiday spirit. These services offer a time of reflection and remembering those who have stepped out of our world. You can organize such a service in your community. Just search online for guidelines.

Listen online this Friday (8:05 Central Time, 9:05 Eastern Time) for the re-airing of the above mentioned interview. Here’s the link:

To listen live, use this link and click "listen now" on the left-hand side.

Next Friday, Black Friday, November 27, the Friday after Thanksgiving. Got that?

I’m planning little mini-thanksgiving sessions each morning because we are sooooooo blessed. Have a great week as you give thanks.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award for this blog and 4 other blogs

We are happy here at our blog, since Sandy AKA Doris the Great of "Aging Disgracefully" blog, awarded us this Kreativ Blogger Award. Visit Sandy at her own blog See her 11/13/09 post about the award and her humorous 7 point list.
The rules for accepting this award begin with posting the award photo and then thanking the awarder Thank you Sandy, we are thrilled.
Next, list 7 things about yourself others may not know.
And then select 4 blogs to award this Kreativ Blogger Award.
I am Terra and I volunteered to be the point person for the Word Quilters for this, so here goes.
1. I read several of James Baldwin's books, including "The Fire Next Time" and "Go Tell it on the Mountain", and was delighted when Mr. Baldwin was the guest of honor at my friend's birthday party, when I was a college student studying in Istanbul, Turkey. James Baldwin lived in Istanbul for many years. I think I managed to say something scintillating like "Hello Mr. Baldwin" when I met him.
2. A dark secret is that I often listen to on AM radio, between 10 p.m and 2 a.m. where the topics and guests are wide ranging, from UFO experts, health discoveries, RFID chips, and scientists who explain global cooling or warming.
3. In high school I won a statewide award for my oil painting of two pine trees, done with a palette knife, and my painting is still displayed in my parents' dining room.
4. I adore wolves and coyotes, and am a long time member of International Wolf Center and Defenders of Wildlife, groups that work to protect wolves and coyotes.
5. My cats try to run our household, and roundly reject my point 4. They are in no way fans of wolves or coyotes!
6. As a volunteer in my local public library's Book Buddy program, I deliver books to my homebound book buddy. We share lots of great chats when I deliver books to her. My book buddy raised prize winning goats, and still paints folk art, among other accomplishments.
7. My husband and I attend every Greek Festival we find, for the wonderful Greek food. Ah, dolmas, taramasalata, baklava, gyros, spanakopita, roast lamb, mousaka and so much more.
But, seriously folks, enough about me.
Here are 4 tremendously creative bloggers with generous attitudes and talents.
A Gathering of Thoughts Rebecca's blog
Homesteader's Heart She admits to a Christmas addiction in her 11/16/09 post
Bluebird Notes Koralee's blog
The Bearister Bookcase Bumblevee's cuddly bears
I hope you enjoyed this roundup and will visit these blogs and give them a cheer and a cyber-hug. By Terra

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Treasured Dress Up Clothes

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was dress up. I remember one particular "bride's dress" that was made by draping a set of sheer curtains my mother was done with around my waist and over my head. There's something about dressing up that tickles most every kid.

With that in mind one year, I put together quite an ensemble for my young nieces. At a resale shop in our area, I found several fancy dresses, some white gloves, evening bags, high heels, and a couple of hats as well as some very cheap jewelry to assessorize the outfits. At the local K-Mart, I found two very inexpensive wigs--probably left over from Halloween. It all fit into one of those cardboard storage boxes you assemble.

They were delighted and played for quite a few years with those things. Alas, as all little girls do, they grew up and discovered their own fashion statements and put aside the childhood dress up fantasies.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Did you find a gift at a yard sale this year?

Hi friends.
Did you find a gift at a yard sale this year? There is still time to browse the sales.
A church in my area had a big group yard sale in their parking lot last week, and I was thrilled to buy 2 adorable picture frames that completely look brand new, with the original store price tags on the back.
Each one is decorated with blue flowers, one is white ceramic and made for a 3" x 3" photo size and one is faux distressed wood, for a 4" x 5" photo.
Someone I know is going to love receiving these, I hope, I hope.
The grand total price was $1 each.
Don't you just love a bargain?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cleaning out the Fridge--Painful, but Worth It!

While I’m not the world’s best at cleaning out the fridge, I do manage to get the task done pretty quickly, which in my book is almost as good as doing it well.

Consider these steps (add to or delete, as necessary):

1. Remove food, including jars and jugs. Toss old or expired food in the trash. Put food you can still use in a cooler while you finish the job.
2. Remove drawers/shelves if necessary. Wash and dry. Be careful to not heat up glass pieces too quickly or they may crack.
3. Wipe down the interior with mild soapy water. Move from top to bottom to catch spills and drips. Use a non-abrasive scrubber if needed.
4. Clean drawers and shelves you removed a few minutes ago.
5. Dry the interior—bins, walls and permanent shelves.
6. Replace food, wiping jars and other containers that may have drips on them.
7. Clean out the freezer. Toss expired or freezer-burned food.
8. Wipe down the outside.

A couple of seasonal reminders:
Check the drip pan.
Vacuum the refrigerator coils.

If you wipe up spills as they occur (and teach your lovable husband and children to do the same), the actual cleaning won’t be nearly as overwhelming.

The good part is, once this chore is done, you’ll have all kinds of room in your fridge; you can fill it with wonderful holiday goodies!

What hints and helps can you add to speed up the process or just plain do it better?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Please Pass the Puzzle by Brenda Nixon

We all want to give good gifts that please our recipients. I know my daughters love to work on puzzles. In fact, around our home we have a joke where we excitedly exclaim, "Let's play a rousing game of . . . puzzle."

Seriously, this activity is therapeutic and builds your child's eye/hand coordination and spatial reasoning skills. It is a brain food for young minds. If you want to discover more about the benefits of puzzles see And consider gifting your kids - or yourself - with a puzzle this Christmas.

Brenda Nixon,
Co-author, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2nd Hand Gifting - By Trish Berg

This week we are talking about second hand gifts. Onw year I found a cashmere swetaer just my daughter's size at the Goodwill store. She wore that for over 2 years and loved it.

But the BEST 2md hand gift place is You can register for free, sigh up to the freecycle in your area, and you get updates as to what people wnat to get rid of or want. (Offer or Wanted)

We got a beautiful 2 story dollhouse for fREE last Christmas for our six year old.

We got a free loveseat that has become our favorite sitting spot in the WORLD.

And we have been able to give away the toys and clothes and household things we have outgrown.

It is the PERFECT place to's FOR FREE!!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Santa's Bargain Basement

This week the Word Quilters will guide you to those obscure gifts that can please the receiver and your pocket book.

We all searched either our memories or shopped this year looking for great deals and places to shop, so we could share with you.

My advice shop garage sales and locate the "sale" places in your favorite stores.

Last year, at a garage sale, I found a new (tags still attached) black velveteen dress, stretchy fabric and floor length. It's not something I'll wear often, but it's classic, and I'll probably have it on hand for many years. $1.00! That's all!

The other bit of advice is to locate the sale bins, racks or aisles at your favorite stores. Warning though, even if it's a bargain and it adds to you clutter, it's not a bargain. Make sure you only buy items you can use or items that someone else can really use.

I recently found a box of bargain, new costume jewelry (any piece for $3.00) at an antique store. I found out from the owner, that the pieces all had some minor flaw--some only had a slightly different color bead, etc. I bought five pieces, kept a few and will gift the others. The flaws are not noticeable. One was a beautiful multi-strand, iridescent garnet-colored neclace. It is really stunning and goes beautifully with my black velvet dress for the holidays.

I stripped the spare bedroom manequin of her spring attire and robed her in the holiday garb so you could see. The hat is from the bin of play clothes that my granddaughters get to play with at Grandma Cathy's house. Happy bargain shopping.

Do you know of any holiday bagain places to shop? Let us know? Or we're always looking for useful, one-of-a-kind gifts.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cookie Baking Day

I am a messy baker. My mother was too. Guess I inherited that gene as well. But I have found that if I insert a little organization into my holiday baking plans, I can get the mess over with in a day.

A few weeks before I plan to bake, I sit down with all my cookie recipes and decide which ones I am going to make for that year. The list usually consists of chocolate chip for my husband, green Christmas tree cookies (pressed butter cookies) for my Japanese daughter-in-law, cut out cookie shapes for the grandkids, Russian tea cookies for a son--well the list goes on according to favorites. It usually consists of about ten different cookie recipes.

Once I have my list, I write down all the ingredients I will need to purchase that I don't have in my cupboards/refrigerator. I shop for those needed items and store them away for the day I have set aside to bake.

As soon as breakfast is cleared away, I begin. By noon I look like the Rice Krispie Treats lady in the commercial--floured face and sticky fingers. I break for a quick snack and then continue until the last cookie comes out of the oven. By then, it is usually time for dinner which is either carry-out from a nearby restaurant or carry-me-in to the restaurant.

Cookies are stored in large plastic containers with a good seal and either frozen or stored in a cool place--like our garage. There are some advantages to living in a wintry climate.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Freshen up our kitchens

I have some ideas for freshening up your kitchen before guests arrive, or any time.
Look in your yard for anything that can make a seasonal bouquet. A few small branches from a holly bush, pussy willows in season, whatever you find that has attractive branches or leaves will look festive in a vase.
Or splurge and purchase some flowers for a bright bouquet.
In the temperate climate where I live, camellias bloom in fall and winter, and the camellia flowers look very elegant floating in a bowl in some water.
A clear glass or Pyrex bowl can be filled with fruit for a pretty display. Pomegranates and persimmons are gorgeous red, orange and yellow in November and December and look nice in a bowl on the kitchen table.

I like to have big festive bowls of nuts in the shell, with the nutcracker in the bowl, on the kitchen table. Here at Whole Foods they sell fresh nuts in the shell and I buy pecans, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts or filberts all year round. These are perfect healthy snacks and very welcoming in the kitchen.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gifts under $20? Yes, Really!

For late night readers, this Book Light with LCD alarm clock makes a great gift:
Price (on sale), only $9.95.

From a design group in Decatur, Georgia: “Keeping your purse behind your chair can be risky, placing your purse on the floor means also placing it on the dirt and bacteria on the floor, and putting it on the table takes up space. The Purse Holder solves these problems by allowing you to conveniently hang your purse from the edge of any table. Keep the Purse Holder in your purse to always have handy.”
Cost: only $5.50 each!
Here’s the link:

If neither of these gift ideas appeals to you, I say go with Old Navy pajamas. They have such cute styles and colors and they feel comfy and cozy all winter long!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yucky! by Brenda Nixon

"What's that green stuff in your frig?"

"Is this milk sour?"

"Why does it smell like that?"

Ever heard those questions in your home? I have in mine! Remember, with all your holdiay cooking and extra foods this time of year, clean out your refrigerator. Don't let icky smells build up to explosive levels.

The USDA says, "Food that has been stored too long in the refrigerator or freezer may be of lessened quality, but most likely would not make anyone sick." For more information see Refrigeration & Food Safety

Brenda Nixon,
Co-author, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

5 Kitchen Cleaning Tips Before Christmas - By Trish Berg

Well, its time to get your kitchen scrubbed down before you get to cooking all that yummy Christmas food. But who likes to think of cleaning.....not me. But with these quick and easy 5 tips, even I can get things SPARKLING!

5 Tips to Clean Your Kitchen

1. Microwave Magic - To easily clean your microwave, mix together 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice or vinegar and 2 cups of water in a 4 cup glass microwave safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for two to three minutes. Carefully remove the bowl and wipe the microwave with paper towels. Repeat as necessary.

2. Faucet Fixes - For lime and mineral deposits on your kitchen sink faucet, wrap vinegar-soaked paper towels around faucets for about an hour. This breaks down the mineral scale, and the chrome will be clean and shiny after buffing with a dry paper towel.

3. Counter Top Crevices - To clean the black gunk out from between your counter top and back splash, use your Pampered Chef nylon scraper. Place the corner in the crevice between the counter top and back splash and scrape out the gunk.

4. Cabinet Magic - Use the Mr. Clean magic erasers. They work wonders cleaning grease off kitchen cabinets. Best $1.88 I have ever spent. Can find them at Wally World.

5. Dishwasher Detergent Must Do's - Automatic-dishwasher detergent works well on refrigerators, stoves, floors, walls and glass. Dissolve 1/4 cup in one gallon of very hot water.
Wipe with a dry cloth afterward. Wear rubber gloves and test first to make sure that what you're cleaning is colorfast.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ewww! What's that?

Saturday, November 14, is National Clean Out Your Fridge Day, so this week the Word Quilters will share kitchen tips to help out through your holidays.

I'll give you about three of my faves today:

The first tip is to clean and de-clutter counter space, fridge front, and cabinet tops. Walk into your kitchen and view it as a visitor might. What stands out as cluttered or dusty? What could you do in one hour to freshen your kitchen? Plan a single hour dedicated to freshening your kitchen. Put on your favorite music or even Christmas carols to remind you of why you are cleaning--to make your holidays easier and more joy-filled. A tidy kitchen will make all the difference in your attitude when you have a quick meal to cook or the two BIGGIES in November and December.

I plan to do my one hour kitchen clean later today. First, I'll clean out fridge. I think there's a few shriveled carrots in there and a tad of wilted red cabbage. After the fridge, I'll dust the "collection" on my cabinet tops near my nine-foot, tin-tiled ceiling: two plants (one live, one fake), old Philco radio, old Mix Master, and other trinkets on top of cabinets. I'll wipe down all items on countertops, putting all uneeded items away. Wash two windows and only two glass doored cabinets. I'll look at all cabinet fronts for spills and wipe those away. Dust ruby red glass drawer and cabinet pulls. I'll clean glass pantry door, and after hanging out new fall cuptowels, I'll have a hot cup of Chai tea as a reward.

Another kitchen tip: Look at the end of the boxes that hold your cling wrap and foil in your pantry. Many homemakers have never noticed the tabs that you are supposed to push in toward the center of cardboard roll holding the food wrap product. Push in any tabs to keep wraps from jumping out of cardboard box when you rip off a piece of foil or cling wrap.

Extra kitchen tip. Buy extra set of sink stoppers. Throw dirty ones in dishwasher, use fresh set until others are clean. Rotate weekly for cleaner sink.

What do you do to give your kitchen that extra sparkle of clean?

Thank you, faithful followers. Please tell your friends about the blog and search our older posts, nearly 300, to find lots of holiday ideas and answers to your holiday questions.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Easy Gifts for Men or Women

A couple of years ago, I gave my brother a fun gift. Men are hard to buy for aren't they? After scratching a bald spot on top my head, the light bulb finally lit (guess it must have been one of those energy savers that takes a while to get bright). I decided to give him a Fiesta Bowl Party--in a box.

I bought corn chips, salsa, soda pop, mixed nuts, and various other non-perishable snacks as well as a pom-pom in Ohio State colors of scarlet and gray. After all I did want him cheering for the right team. Total cost was in the twenty dollar range. You can ratchet it up or down by what you put into your "Fan Box".

The ladies on my list often get a purse or tote full of surprises. Find an inexpensive small tote or purse and then fill it with sample sized lotions, soaps, candles, etc. that you can find at your local drugstore or dollar store. Toss in a fashion or women's magazine or two. One year, I themed a tote with a flannel throw, a book, a package of hot chocolate, and a small box of cookies for a friend.

It's fun being creative. How about you? Any themed ideas you can send along for gifts in that $20 or less range?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gifts Under $20 Coloring Books

Many kids love coloring books and these make fun gifts. Today in the store I saw packs of crayons, 64 gorgeous colors for under $6.00, and on sale for $3.00. You may find them on sale too; if you do, leave a comment here, please, to inspire other bargain hunters.
Coloring books cost from one dollar to five dollars, and you can find many subjects including trucks, cars, dinosaurs, fairies, Bible stories, famous people, Disney characters, and the all important horses subject. The horse and pony topic was very beloved by me as I rode horses at age 10 at the local riding stable. Hello dear Frosty and Sunset, my favorite horses from the stable.
To save lots of money and use your creativity do an online search of  "make coloring books" and a whole world opens up.
National Geographic has a page of outlines you can print of all kinds of wild animals and other sites offer topics ranging from bugs to farms to Christmas and holidays.
The website offers lots of page for you to print, which you can assemble into unique coloring books tailored to your favorite kids and their interests.
I look forward to reading your comments here, on coloring books, crayons and inexpensive gift ideas.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dear Santa,

What a fun idea for a post, Cathy! Our grown-up letters to Santa!

First, I have to confess to everyone my complicity in a Santa-scheme about 20 years ago. Kendall, my sister-in-law, used to coerce good behavior out of her children weeks, even months, before Christmas by threatening to call Santa when her kids disobeyed.

She went so far as to dial the number (dh Bret’s and my number, not the actual North Pole) and even reached us a couple of times. It didn’t take us long to get with the plan as we heard her saying in a clear, calm manner, “Jordan, I’ve got Mrs. Claus on the line. And she’s going to get Santa so I can tell him about how you’re acting. Do you really want to go on his ‘naughty’ list? Or, can you make a good choice instead?” She said it worked magnificently every time. But the funniest part was when we received my nieces Christmas Wish Lists via fax!

Anyway, my wish list would be mighty short—and sort of doubles as my prayer list.

Dear Santa,

Though I’ve tried to be good this year, I know I’ve made lots of mistakes. Please forgive me. If you can find enough generosity in your heart, here’s what I’d like for Christmas:

More time—I feel time pressures on every side. Could you grant me an extra two hours a day? Or, better yet, help me give up enough things to equal that time.

More patience—I find myself being short with those I love. Help me to love them the best and give the scraps to others. Or, better yet, toss the scraps in the trash.

More rest—I get caught in a pattern of rushing to do, to accomplish, to be productive. Sometimes what I need more than anything is to be quiet and still. The rest will actually help me to do all the things on my To Do list better.

More thankfulness—I’ve been blessed beyond measure with an incredible husband, wonderful children, a church and community I love, great parents, in-laws and extended family. I need to focus on just being grateful for all of that and not take it for granted.

Oh, and I would really, really like a Mac mini. 

Thanks, and Merry Christmas to you, Mrs. Claus and all the elves!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

No Angst Gift-Giving by Brenda Nixon

Searching for just the right gift? Does someone on your list seem to have everything already? Haven't a clue what to give? Then try a gift certificate! Almost every store, business, or trade offers holiday gift cards.

One Christmas we gave each of my daughters a gift certificate to a Christian bookstore. Another year, when my daughter was into crochet we gave her a certificate to a sewing store. My husband is happy to select his "man gift" when given a certificate to a hardware store, Low'es or Home Depot. Starbucks cards are welcomed anytime.

No need to get in a tizzy about what to give . . . just grab a gift certificate next time you're at the store.

Of course, a long-lasting, unique and welcomed gift - under $20 - is a signed copy of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. *wink* You can go to any of our websites and order your an autographed copy.

Brenda Nixon,
Co-author, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Best Gifts Under $25 for Men and Women - By Trish Berg

We exchange names on both sides of our extended families, and so shopping is simpler. Except that I always struggle with gifts for the men in our families.

But no longer. I have discovered that buying men a food related gift is always a great gift.


For my brother-in-law, I once assembled a basket of goodies including pancake mix, fresh flavored syrups, muffin mixes, dip mixes, chips and salsa. He loved it! I included a manly apron and some great recipes, and piled everything in a great basket, and for less than $25, it was a huge hit!

At a loss for a guy's gift under $25 this Christmas? Try this: The Salsa of the Month Club. You could even get him some unique tortillas chips in a basket and all year, he will be reminded of your love.
I have discovered a fantastic, unique gift for the gals in your life. Handmade
jewelry from stones and wire. I found this gal, Jen Berly, at a local craft fair and bought a beautiful stone ring. I have had more compliments on that ring than any other piece of jewelry I own.
Her rings are around $20. She also carries beautiful necklaces and bracelets that are a little more expensive, but well worth the price.