Saturday, December 26, 2009

And All Through The House


It's the day after Christmas. The kids have come and gone and the house is suddenly very quiet. The tree lights still twinkle but the gifts no longer grace the tree skirt with anticipation. What lingers is the warmth of hugs, the echo of giggles, and the joy of knowing that we shared in celebrating the most glorious event ever--the birth of Jesus.

I pray yours was a Christmas of reflection--the reflection of His love. May the new year to follow fill you with the peace of His spirit.

Karen

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone

May this holiday season and the new year be joyful for you and your families
This is my last post of 2009, and 2010 will be here very soon, and I hope to see you here, and on your blogs when I visit them. This photo gives you a glimpse of our tree, stockings and nutcrackers.
"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life." John 3:16 The Message



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Welcome and Farewell by Brenda Nixon


Thanks for visiting our blog! Each of us, co-authors, appreciates your interest and support for our blog and our book.

Here's my final post for 2009. This week leading into Christmas, we're asked to share our Christmas day plans. Now that my daughters are young adults, we have the luxury of a slow, leisurely morning. We awake, discuss the news, brew coffee, open packages, and savor my homemade cinnamon rolls. Later, we clean up the crumpled wrapping paper, bows, and boxes to ready ourselves for company.
Of course, things were different and disastrous when the kids were toddlers. The cameras were always flashing, the dogs barking, paper flying around the room, toy parts and pieces scattered on the rug, squeals and spills were a routine part of Christmas morning. But those days hold great memories, too.
What are your plans for Christmas day? Please leave us your thoughts. And who knows, maybe we'll run into each other at the after-Christmas sales.

Brenda Nixon, http://www.brendanixon.com/
Co-author, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top 5 Last Minute Christmas Tips - By Trish Berg


Three days and counting...Christmas is coming.


For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)


So how do you survive the chaos and find true joy?


By focusing on the true gift of Christmas, simplifying the small stuff, and enjoying the journey.


To help you get started, here are my Top 5 Last Minute Christmas Tips:


5 LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS TIPS


1. STORY TIME - One of our favorite traditions is to read 2 Christmas stories. On Christmas Eve, we all gather around the tree and read Twas the Night Before Christmas. The kids love eating a Christmas cookie and listening to the words flow. Then, on Christmas morning, before a single present is unwrapped, we gather around the breakfast table and read the TRUE story of Christmas, of the birth of Jesus. You can start with Luke 2:1-20 or Matthew 1:18-2:20. This truly helps your family focus on the fun side of Christmas, and yet cherish the real gift of Jesus.


2. MAKE AHEAD BREAKFAST - Take the time on Dec 23rd or 24th to make your Christmas morning breakfast ahead of time. That way Christmas morning, you can simply enjoy eating and not have anything to do. 2 fantastic ideas are Sausage and Egg Casserole, or Sunday French Toast. For those and more great breakfast recipes click here.


3. SLOW DOWN - We tend to be in such a rush to "get done" with opening gifts and celebrating Christmas. I enjoy slowing the day down. Maybe open a few gifts in the morning. Let your kids play with those gifts, have lunch, and then open some more in the afternoon. Spread it out, take your time and enjoy the time together. Don't rush out the door to grandma's house, instead, stay home as long as you can and relax and enjoy watching your children play with their gifts.


4. CUT IN HALF - If you are a to-do list kinda person like I am, write down everything you think you need to do between now and Christmas Day and then...CUT YOUR LIST IN HALF. Christmas is Christmas not because of anything you do, it is Christmas because God gave us the gift of Jesus. Celebrate that, and don't worry about getting it all right..or all done. Celebrate what you have, thank God for all in your life, and let the rest go.


5. GIVE TO SOMEONE - Nothing will make you feel more joy than giving to someone else. Take hot cocoa to the Salvation army bell ringer at Walmart. Bring cookies to your gas station attendant or a tin of Chex Mix to the local fire or police station. Give to someone who does not expect you to give to them, and you will feel the true joy of Christmas.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

An Apple for the Teacher

If you are looking for a last minute gift for teachers, try these easy to make chocolate covered apples:

6 medium sized sweet-tart apples
Popsicle sticks or wooden meat skewers
1 lb. semi-sweet chocolate cubed or morsels
1 cup M&Ms, chopped nuts, coconut, or crushed Oreo cookies

Insert sticks in apples and refrigerate. Apples will coat better if chilled.
Melt chocolate in double boiler or in microwave oven until warm not hot. Stir to make a smooth consistency.
Dip and roll apples in chocolate using spoon to help cover hard to reach areas.
Roll coated apples in desired topping and put on waxed paper on a cookie sheet in refrigerator to set the chocolate.
Wrap the apple in colored cellophane and secure with a twisty around stick. Add curly ribbon for decoration.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Give Yourself by Brenda Nixon

It's sheer joy to be a co-author on this book. The six of us have laughed and learned as we discussed, developed, and delivered our "baby" to the world. Thank you for visiting our blog and buying our book. We deeply appreciate you sharing our enthusiasm with your support.

This week, each of us is to share an inexpensive gift idea for an educator; classroom teacher, Sunday school teacher, your child's teacher, etc. I've learned from teachers I talked to that they'd prefer a gift card. Many times they're given candles, mugs, and things they're already overloaded with. While they appreciate the gesture, they'd benefit from something else.

People often confuse price with value. In today's economy many don't have the money to buy high-priced gadgets but, can still give a valuable gift. Consider gifting your fav teacher with a certificate for your services. "What service do I have to offer?" you ask.
  • Yard Maintenance
  • Housecleaning
  • Pet Sitting
  • Snow Removal
  • Sewing
  • Bringing in a Homecooked Meal
  • Free Childcare
  • Small Engine Repair
  • Window Cleaning
  • Computer Tutoring
You see, YOU have a lot to offer! How about sharing the best gift - yourself - with a teacher this year. And, share your comment for a chance to win a FREE COPY of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. Everyone who comments on a blog this week will be entered into a drawing for a free book! If you already have one, use the freebie as a Christmas gift (I even gave an autographed copy for a December wedding gift).

Brenda Nixon, www.BrendaNixon.com
Co-author, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Teacher Christmas Gifts on the Cheap - By Trish Berg

I have 4 children who each have five teachers at school, and one Sunday School teacher at church. Now, I am not a mathematician, but that's about...hmmmm, let's see. Four times five add more, carry the one.

About 25 gifts. And that can get expensive.
So what is a mom to do? Here are 5 TOP TEACHER GIFTS that won;t break the mom bank.

**********************************************************
5 TOP TEACHER GIFTS THAT WON'T BREAK THE BANK

1. COOKIES IN A JAR - You can assemble these cookie mixes in quart mason jars, and add a fabric swatch on top. Talk about sharing sweet love. Click here for details.

2. LIGHT UP THEIR DAY - You can buy inexpensive votive or jar candles at the dollar store and wrap them in fabric swatches with a tag attached that reads "You Light Up My Days."

3. NOTEPADS - Teachers are always in need of notepads. Find some fun and inexpensive ones at the dollar store and wrap them up in fun paper for your teachers.

4. COFFEE TO GO - Purchase $5 coffee gift cards to a local coffee house or Starbucks. Always a great gift, and no wrapping needed. $5 will buy one sweet cup of coffee. For a variation, get a Subway $5 gift card for lunch on the go. Their foot longs are only $5!

5. HOT COCOA MIX - Make hot cocoa mix. There are a ton of varieties that are sweet and scrumptious. Who doesn't love hot cocoa for Christmas. Tons of recipes here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

EMAIL FROM A READER



Posted by Cathy: Co-Author Trish received the following e-mail from a reader, and we thought we'd share how handy it is to have a copy of our book around at Christmastime. It's a sparkly book on the outside and on the inside it's full of warm stories of family, recipes, Christmas history, and ideas for remembering the baby Jesus and celebrating his future work.  

Hi Trish,


I hope you are doing well. Remember me from last year's Christmas Tea

in Upper Sandusky? Debbie and I were just talking about how it was

just a year ago that we held that...and how that day was so magical! Thank

you again for being a part of it.


A neat thing happened: yesterday was our Christmas MOPS meeting. We

were all set to have a friend, and pastor from Columbus, come up to

speak for our meeting. At the last minute she canceled, and I scrambled

and prayed to come up with something to fill her time. I came into my office

and opened up your Christmas book, to look for some ideas. So...I ended

up having each of my steering members read a page out of it, the stories

about the origins of different Christmas traditions, it was perfect! And,

to me it was like celebrating the anniversary of our Christmas Tea. So

I felt like I needed to thank you again!


I hope you and your family have a very Healthy and Blessed Christmas!

Jill

One Winner, still time to enter two times



Last Monday's winner didn't leave good contact info, so I selected another name: Stacie, a follower is now the winner. We pick more book winners on the 14 and 21. Still time to enter.

The Word Quilters hope you are finding time to cherish the season and even relax a bit. On page 151 in our book, we give tips for taking breaks, our blog address, and ask any of our book readers to let us know how they have used any tips in the book. We heard from MOPS' leaders about how A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts helped them out in a pinch. Their story:


Hi Trish,



I hope you are doing well. Remember me from last year's Christmas Tea


in Upper Sandusky? Debbie and I were just talking about how it was


just a year ago that we held that...and how that day was so magical! Thank


you again for being a part of it.




A neat thing happened, yesterday was our Christmas MOPS meeting. We


were all set to have a friend, and pastor from Columbus, come up to


speak for our meeting. At the last minute she canceled, and I scrambled


and prayed to come up with something to fill her time. I came into my office


and opened up your Christmas book, to look for some ideas. So...I ended


up having each of my steering members read a page out of it, the stories


about the origins of different Christmas traditions, it was perfect! And,


to me it was like celebrating the anniversary of our Christmas Tea. So


I felt like I needed to thank you again!




I hope you and your family have a very Healthy and Blessed Christmas!




Jill

(Photo: Book signing, Abilene, TX, left to right, Leslie Wilson (co-author), Judy Bowyer (contributor of story "The First Christmas Without Santa"), Cathy Messecar (co-author)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

SOCF makes the Perfect Gift

Melinda Schmidt (Midday Connection) sent this beautiful photo to me. She is giving away copies of SOCF as Christmas gifts and tied them up with a beautiful ornament. It does make a great gift to share...



Stress Less--Plan Your Holiday and Work Your Plan

This year we will have our home full of children and grandchildren but the biggest kid of all will be my husband. Like any kid, he can come up with all sorts of ideas for things to do, places to go, and people to see. As Christmas approaches, the list seems to grow longer--right in relationship to my stress level.

To keep the peace of the holidays intact, I try to put a rein on expectations. We discuss what we want to do for the Christmas season and then decide what is truly feasible without overloading our calendar and making ourselves crazy with a schedule that is impossible to keep up with.

The important thing is to work the plan. Once it is in place, and someone wants to add more, be sure to weigh the importance of the addition and negotiate what will be cut from the plan to insert the new activity. Make it a rule to not add unless you subtract. If you don't, you will find yourself exhausted by the time you sit down to make those New Year Resolutions.

Friday, December 11, 2009

More Joy and Less Stress

Christmas celebrations and selecting gifts can be stressful, so I offer a few things to create a bit of joy in your home.
Cook ahead for the Christmas feast, by preparing side dishes the day before.
I feed the song birds in our yard with extra seeds during this cold season and they come a flyin' in.
Play your family's favorite holiday movie while company is here, not so they sit and watch it, but just as a fun background entertainment. The idea is that people will pause as they walk around and laugh at a funny scene that they've viewed many times before. For us, the movie is A Christmas Story.
Write plenty of Christmas cards, even to folks who don't send you one. Sometimes your card could be a spark of joy for the recipient.
Can you find the time to visit a homebound person? I aim to visit my two older buddies who no longer drive. They don't want or expect gifts, just some friendly conversation.
I am sure many of you readers have super ways to add joy and subtract stress from the holidays and I will read your comments with anticipation, and remember:
!!!!!   Leave a comment here for chance to win a copy of our Christmas book   !!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mrs. Santa Claus by Brenda Nixon

In September, Lifetime Entertainment selected me as "Mom of the Week." What an honor to have my bio and pic on their website, and to receive many kudos from friends and colleagues around the country.
The same month, I learned my parenting book, The Birth to Five Book, won the Good Parenting Seal.
Now, if it were possible to be awarded the title of Mrs. Santa Claus I'd want to emulate her jubiliant spirit (but not her girth). I'd want to spread happiness, cheer and homemade cookies around my neighborhood, relieve small hurts, help people survive the economy, and make it a most memorable Christmas. Yes, I'd practice Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men (and women).
Wait a minute . . . I don't have to be awarded a title to do most of that. Neither do you. We all can value the best in ourselves and practice the joyful, giving spirit of Christmas.
And in speaking of giving, my birthday is Saturday (December 12). hint hint

Hey, leave your comment and be entered for a drawing of a FREE COPY of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts! Anyone who comments to a post this week & next will have opportunity to win a free book. If you already have one, give the freebie as a Christmas Gift. I recently gave an autographed copy as a December wedding gift.


Happy Holidays!
Brenda Nixon,
www.BrendaNixon.com
Co-author, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Peace From Within - By Trish Berg


I have been there. I have gone to a family dinner or event with angst in my heart, defensive and at the ready to attack someone, anyone, who said something inappropriate or hurtful to me or anyone in my immediate family.


Yes, I have been there. And let me tell you it is not a nice place to be.


When you enter a family event or dinner with that kind of angst and anger, you are bound to explode at someone or let the anger build up inside so you blow up at your own family later.
I love my family, but people are people, and we are all different, so there are bound o be challenges...
And though my family has not changed, I have. I can not control those around me, I can control myself.

I can change my heart.

For example....I have some family members who never, and I mean never, ask me about my life. My teaching or writing, or anything going on in my life. I used to let that hurt my feelings. No longer.

I have made the decision to be free of that angst by recognizing that my self worth does not come from what others say about me or to me. No pat on the back or ego boost from words will make me any more than what I am.

My self worth comes from God, from striving to be what He wants me to be. Period.

So, how does that make me peaceful and joyful at family events?

Simple. I realize that I am not there to get my ego stroked. I am there to BE WHAT OTHERS NEED ME TO BE.

I am there for them. For Jesus. For Jesus to use me anyway He wants to bless others and point them towards His love.

And though that may sound idealistic, it is rather practical. Here are five ways you can find peace and joy from within at your next family event, just in time for Christmas.


5 Ways To Find Peace From Within At Family Events


1. EXPECT NOTHING - Enter the event with the expectation that no one will ask you about your life. Let go of that expectation. Do not set yourself up for disappointment.


2. MAKE IT ABOUT THEM - Make your time at this event about others, not about you. Ask others about their lives, their jobs, their hobbies, their interests. Make all of your conversations outwardly focused on the people you are talking to, and bless them with your interest.


3. PRAY - Pray before you go to the event that God can use you to bless those you come in contact with. Pray for God's peace and guidance, that He give you the words He wants you to use.


4. TIME IT - Set a time limit to stay at the event, and stick to it. Speak to your spouse ahead of time and decide how long you will be at the event. We will go to your mom's from 6 pm until 11 pm, and then we will head home. Having a time frame will allow you to be in the moment and know when you will head home.


5. KEEP IT SIMPLE - Keep your conversations simple and surface related. Don't dig deep into current events, politics or faith. A family event is not the right time to dig deep into any hot topic area, and doing so may set you up for an argument or uncomfortable conversation. So, go with several light hearted topics in mind, keep it simple and fun.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Book Give-Away

Become a follower of this blog or leave a comment to be entered into drawing for a copy of our Christmas book. Awaiting address from this weeks' winner, then will announce her name. Enter for the drawing on Monday the 14th. One more after that on Dec. 21. Merry Christmas. Merry December.

Goodwill at Your Address

Peace on earth covers millions of acres, but what about the peace in your household this holiday? Even though Deecember is here, our regular chores and lives move forward right along with the tinsel, the Shepherd's costumes and the eggnog. So what keeps you on an even bobsled during this month?

This week, the Word Quilters will give you tips for keeping the joy in Christmas, for fostering peacemaking in your home, not just being a "peace keeper."

1. Don't set your expectations too high for your home decor. Have you ever gone dress shopping when you already had a style and color in mind? I did and nothing on the racks met my expectations. Christmas can be like that too. Decking the halls at the malls is a lot easier than from pulling together a collection of his, mine, and ours. They have designers and budgets for decor, we have garage sale decor items, hand-me-down Lenox pieces and little hands outlined in glitter. All of these are tucked into spots reminding us of certain people. The items are not clutter because of all the memories tied to them. If someone brings you a gift. Display it proudly, no matter if it matches.

2. Keep the atmosphere loving, open, and lighthearted. Avoid pointing out your pet peeves throughout this month. Get out of the habit of saying, "I just hate--Mondays, frizzy hair, my weight, or numerous other things we casually say we hate. Don't nag others about behaviors. By January, you may be surprised at how your generosity improved the "flavor" of your home.

3. Make December a Secret Santa month for your family.  Secretly do things for other household members that will actually ease some of their work load. Empty the trash in your husband's office. Offer a back rub. Well, that's not exactly secret. I guess you could blindfold the recipient. Dream up your own list of Secret Santa things to do for others.....Shhh. Don't tell. You are doing this out of the goodness of your heart to help another, not to get applause.

Until next Sunday or Monday....
OK, that sums up my advice for a calmer December. Just wait until you read my co-authors' tips. These girls are goooooood!

Anyone want to chime in and share how you set the peace pace in your home?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Some Christmas Tree Facts

By now I'm sure my coauthors have given all the excellent tips I would have shared for your real Christmas Tree. Here are a few facts though that might be of interest:
  • Real trees are a renewable, recyclable resource if you want to be "green."
  • Real trees are grown in all 50 states
  • There are about one million acres in produciton for growing Christmas trees. Each acre provides the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people.
  • For every real Christmas tree harvested, 2-3 seedlings are planted in its place the following spring.
  • It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of average retail sale height, but the average growing time is seven years.

This information came from the Northeast Ohio Christmas Tree Growers.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Select Your Living Christmas Tree Carefully

When you choose a living tree that you will plant in your yard, find out the height and width that the tree will attain and make sure yon don't plant it too close to your house or to a fence.
Years ago our neighbors bought and planted the wrong Christmas tree in the wrong location, too close to the fence between our yards. Soon the tree began pressing the fence, damaging it, and creating shade for our flowers that needed sun. The tree grew tall rapidly and then died, and was expensive for them to remove!

Study where you will plant your tree, and consider the height and width the tree will attain. Noble Fir, Grand Fir and White Pine can live for a hundred years and reach 60 to 90 feet tall, with branches spreading thirty feet in width. For typical yards, dwarf Blue Spruce cultivars with their perfect conical shapes and thick foliage are excellent choices. Semi-dwarf Fat Albert reaches fifteen feet, Blaukissen or Blue Kiss reaches ten feet tall, and White Spruce Picea glauca Conica is a dwarf that only reaches seven feet tall.

Living trees need cool temperatures, so keep them indoors for only a week at most, with plenty of light and away from heaters or fireplaces, and be sure to keep the root ball moist. Before planting outdoors put the tree on a porch or in the garage for a few days, to allow your tree to acclimate to the change in temperature.

Your living Christmas tree will be a family treasure for years to come, and give it a name if you like.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Simple Storage Solutions

Try these:

• Use egg cartons to hold small, breakable ornaments.
• Wrap lights around paper towel tubes—and store extension cords inside. 
• Stubs wads of used wrapping paper in the loops of large (expensive) bows you’d like to keep to help them maintain their shape.
• Store bows and ribbon in plastic (crush-proof) containers.
• Label everything carefully, so that you can pick and choose what to get out next year!
• Keep a running list (on the computer) of who received what to avoid duplicating gifts next year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tips for Live Trees by Brenda Nixon



Welcome faithful readers!


Do you use a real or artificial Christmas tree? Each year, the Nixon clan rotates; one year it's real, then next we drag out a pre-lit artificial. This practice makes each Christmas different while preserving the tradition of decorating a tree.


I've learned three things by having a live tree in our home:
  • Vacuum daily - or pine needles stick in your carpet and poke little feet.
  • Saturate with clean H2O - or your tree will dry, look ugly and be a fire hazard.
  • Keep kids and pets away - both can do damage to a living tree.
If you want more information on caring for a living tree see http://forestry.about.com/od/christmastrees1/ht/living_x_tree.htm.
Thanks for joining us at A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts blog.

Brenda Nixon, www.BrendaNixon.com
Co-author, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

WINNER OF 1ST BOOK

CONGRATS TO EDNA!!! BOOK WILL GO INTO MAIL TODAY IF I GET YOUR MAILING ADDRESS BY 2:00 P.M.

TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT 2ND GIVE-AWAY. DRAWING NEXT MONDAY. LEAVE A COMMENT OR BECOME A FOLLOWER.

THANKS FOR ALL YOUR PARTICIPATION AND COMMENTS. MERRY ADVENT!!!

Decorate with LOVE - ByTrish Berg

This Christmas, while you are decorating your home with lights and your tree with ornaments, don't forget to decorate your life with love.

TIP #1 SEND A CHRISTMAS CARD
While you are filling out your Christmas cards, add an extra one to an American soldier who was injured in battle. Send your letters, cards and love to:



A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington , D.C. 20307-5001



TIP #2 EMAIL A SOLDIER
Go to
http://www.anysoldier.com/WhereToSend/

And on the left is a list of US soldiers overseas. You click on a name, fill out a form and will be sent the email of a soldier you can email, encourage and support.

TIP #3 Other Ways to Love Our Troops
Check out http://amillionthanks.org/ for more great ideas on writing or emailing our soldiers, sending care packages, and letting our troops know we love and support them, and are thankful for our freedom because of their sacrifices and dedication to our country.

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 http://randomdistractions.blogspot.com/

"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, www.BrendaNixon.com
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 http://www.wbcl.org/CoverageMap.asp 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 http://newfie-girl.blogspot.com/ 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 Coasttocoastam.com 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
http://rebecca-gatheryeroses.blogspot.com/ Rebecca's blog
Homesteader's Heart
http://homesteadersheart.blogspot.com/ She admits to a Christmas addiction in her 11/16/09 post
Bluebird Notes
http://bluebirdnotes.blogspot.com/ Koralee's blog
The Bearister Bookcase
http://bumblebearies.blogspot.com/ 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 http://www.puzzlesplus.net/benefits.htm. And consider gifting your kids - or yourself - with a puzzle this Christmas.

Brenda Nixon, www.BrendaNixon.com
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 FREECYCLE.com. 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 shop...it'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:
http://www.gadgetbargains.com/bookwitlcdal.html
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: http://store.heliotropehome.com/crpuho.html

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 http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Refrigeration_&_Food_Safety/index.asp

Brenda Nixon, www.BrendaNixon.com
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 crayola.com 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!

Love,
Leslie

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, www.BrendaNixon.com
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.


BEST GUY GIFT UNDER $25

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.
*********************************************
BEST GAL GIFT UNDER $25
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.