Saturday, July 31, 2010

Garage Sale Treasures

Summer and Fall are all a part of the Garage Sale Season around Ohio and perhaps in your area as well. Someone else’s trash might just be your treasure. Besides some good buys for the collectors in the family—baseball cards, teacups, thimbles, etc., there are also the gems that just might get a crafter’s pulse beating faster.

A few years back, I found an old lamp discarded literally on a trash heap. On a dare from my son and daughter-in-law, I picked it up took it home and fixed it up. It took a little doing but when I couldn’t clean up what I thought was bronze, I got some gold paint and gave it a couple of coats. We found a lampshade that fit into the glass bowl top that held the light bulb and replaced the cord. It didn’t look half bad if I say so myself.

There are lots of things that can be made into lamps with a lamp kit from the do-it-yourself stores or hardware stores. A stack of books, an old cowboy boot, a piece of pottery. Use a little imagination and for a few dollars, you can put together a very original and clever lamp to give as a gift this Christmas—as long as you don’t fall in love with it yourself.

Here’s a couple of links to help you get started:

Lamp making kits.

How to make a lamp.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Chocolate Gift Basket

Now is a great time of year to keep alert to sales of potential Christmas gifts. We all love to find bargains and they exist all around us.
I like to package gifts in baskets and woven boxes, which are part of the gift. I often find baskets and other containers in thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army with the original price tags still on.
Buy them early when you find them so you will have them when you need them. Kitchen tools are appreciated by your favorite chef. Last year at World Market I found a set of 5 nice black spatulas on sale for $3 and created a “Kitchen Gift Basket”. I also found some tiny white bowls for 99 cents each and 2 pretty red Christmas theme cloth napkins for the basket. There is no limit to what you can add, from a box of bread sticks to a small bottle of olive oil.
In December I find chocolate bars on sale and buy an assortment, put them in a basket and give the “Chocolate Gift Basket” to chocolate loving friends. I line the baskets with Christmas theme cloth napkins.
What tips do you have for frugal gift giving?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Frugal Is and Frugal Does

I should have changed my middle name to Tightwad a long time ago. I not only come from a long line of penny-pinchers (Can you say rinsing out store brand plastic zipper bags?), but the reality of a more challenging economy has boosted my resolve.

That being said, my frugality extends to Christmas gift as well. My family has adopted several creative themes throughout the years to relieve the financial burden:
• Exchanging gifts bought at a garage sale or flea market—nothing new allowed!
• Shopping resale stores and Goodwill for designer clothing. Find out what days they stock their shelves and be there when the store opens.
• Recycling gifts (We’ve all been given a great gift that just wasn’t us. Pass it along to a family member who could really give that item a good home.)
• Shopping at the dollar store (We did this a lot when our kids were small. I’d give each of them $10 and let them go crazy. The cool thing was, they worked hard to find gifts that fit the recipient. For example, duct tape for my husband who loves to do projects around the house.)

If I absolutely, can’t-possibly-get-out-of-it, must shop retail, I peruse flyers and slick inserts and clip coupons. Some places (even besides Wal-Mart) will accept other stores coupons on identical items. I’m excited that my kids (19, 16, and 15) have come on board with our family’s frugality. (Earning their own income and saving for cars and college might have spurred them on a little!) An added bonus? Good stewardship never goes out of style.

Now it’s your turn to brag. What great deals have you found? Where do you shop for bargains?

Leslie Porter Wilson

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Top 10 Frugal Christmas Gifts - by Trish Berg

I was driving home from a weekend at my parent's lake cottage last weekend, and suddenly was taken back by a radio station playing all CHRISTMAS MUSIC. They called it Christmas in July, and since it was July 25th, I guess it fit.

So I have had Christams on the brain.

WIth so many loved ones, family and friends to buy Christmas gifts for, it can be difficult to stay within your family budget. So here are 10 tips for frugal Christmas gifts under $10 each.


1. A bag of flavored coffee and a mug (You can get the coffee for around $9 and the mug at the dollar store for a buck)

2. For grandparents, frame one of your child's BEST artwork pieces. They will treasure it always.

3. For the tea lovers, flavored tea and a good book to read

4. Poorman;s Mocha Mix in a Jar:

Poorman's Mocha Mix
2 cups powdered milk
8 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup instant coffee
*Mix all of the powders together and put in mason jar.

5. Home baked bread and sweet jam in a jar

6. Cookie Mix in a Jar (Simple Recipes here)

7. Gardening gloves with a plant or flower seeds

8. $10 Starbucks (or Tim Horton's) Gift Card (MY FAVE!!!)

9. Muffinb mixes and a new muffin pan.

10. Manicure Pedicure basket filled with files, polish and lotions

Monday, July 26, 2010

Frugal Gifts--Shop for Bargains Now!

Each year our family has scaled back on gift giving, so we search for items that suit a person's passion. A savvy shopper can make a list of general ideas and then keep that list handy year round to save, save, save on holiday purchases. And if you know your grands love swim toys, you're not going to find them in December in'll need to remember to search for those at end of season sales in August.

And remember the best gift of the season is free. Simply sit and read the Christmas Story from Luke 2 for a free blessing.

Five hints for finding bargains:

  • Get on the email list of stores that have good bargains, stores that are close to you. You're more likely to pop into one of their sales than one 30 miles away. One of my favorites: Tuesday Morning
  • Shop your local flea markets and festivals to find one of a kind, homemade items, not found in stores. (I discovered a local woman who makes delightful inexpensive jewelry.)
  • Make a habit of asking your friends, "Where do you find the best bargains for ????????? You may be surprised to hear about an outlet you didn't know about. A local woman in our neighborhood has a shop. She gets the new unsold items from Sears. I found a beautiful stylish white blouse, ticketed at $35.00 for for $4.00. I told my dad (about her store), who is on limited income about her. He found khaki trousers for $7.00 a pair (If you live near Conroe, TX, email me, and I'll give you her name and location.)    
  • Always walk to the sale racks in a store first. Recently in JC Pennys, I found on their 80% off rack four gorgeous items for 3.97 each. All things my family could use. Be careful about overbuying, though. On the same racks, they had pant suits (reg. $70.00) for $15.97. I tried on three. Only one fit properly, but it was in a style and duller color than I liked. I asked myself, "When you are getting ready to speak before an audience, would you choose to wear this? I answered myself. "No. Because I already have nicer, pant suits in my closet that I like better." It's not a bargain if you don't need it or won't wear it.
  • This fifth tip is not a shopping one, but a frugal one nonetheless. In the summer get one of those bread starters from a friend, experiment with adding different ingredients to create your own variety of home-baked goodness. After baking, wrap loaves tightly and store to give away as impromptu gifts to the sick or sad. Or if a friend drops in, you can thaw within minutes in a microwave, and slice a bit of yummy bread to serve with iced tea or coffee. I keep an Amish Friendship starter going and I have added the following to different loaves: apricots, pecans, coconut, Craisens and or pecans. Or our favorite is about a 1/3 cup of chocolate chips. Oh my, that bread is tasty with black coffee.
Have fun with the tips and let me know of any online sites where you find bargains. We can all use those. Merry Shopping and a Happy Week to All! 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cherished Memory Ornaments

Here’s an idea to keep your kids and/or grandkids interested in your Christmas tree decorating this year. At your local craft store, buy some thin flat wooden pieces, either squares, circles, or shapes. This time of year the stores might even be putting out some holiday shapes.

Then pick up some Mod Podge. I was delighted to see they still make this and you can even get it with a sparkly finish. In the same aisle, they will probably have those brushes that are actually a brush-shaped sponge. You’ll need one or two of those.

Now mosey over to the aisle that has some small bags of decorations like snowflakes, or sparkly shapes and find something that suits your fancy.

A little ribbon to make a hanger and you’re ready for the check out counter.

When you get home, find some great digital pictures of your kids or grandkids either portrait style or doing some fun things from the year just passed. You decide the theme. Reduce them to a size that will fit on the wooden shapes you’ve purchased and color print as many on a page of paper as will fit. (You can group them on a page by using Microsoft Word and inserting the pictures. Click on the picture properties or format picture and adjust the layout so that you can fit several pictures on a page.) Print them out.

Now you’re ready to cut and paste and Podge. Put a picture on one side or both of a wooden shape and use the Mod Podge to adhere it. You can add your sparkly snowflakes or other decorations and then layer on the Mod Podge with that spongy brush to create a smooth surface. This will take some time for drying in between coats (rinse your sponge and wrap in plastic wrap to keep it soft).

Use some glue to attach a small ribbon to the top as a hanger and you have some clever ornaments that are captured memories. The kids will hunt all over the tree for them or be eager to help you decorate and the conversation will be cherished memories as they look at the pictures.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Fun Christmas Pickle Ornament

The Christmas Pickle ornament is mostly unknown to people so I want to share about it here. The custom of hanging a pickle ornament in the Christmas tree is most widely known in the United States, and especially people with a German background.
I was surprised to read that the custom is not widespread in Germany, but is practiced in a small area of that country.
The idea is that someone in the family hides the pickle ornament in the tree, and calls all the children in to see who can find it. The first to find it is considered to be "lucky" for the next year. Some families give a small gift to that child.
The pickle ornament will add a smile to your holiday, since it is so odd and unexpected among all the angels, Santas and stars.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cool Recycled Christmas Ornament

Lots of great ideas abound for creative ornaments, but one of our family’s favorites also involves recycling. I always keep our old amusement park passes (from Six Flags or Winter Park, CO—our favorite ski area). We now have quite a collection, and my teenagers enjoy seeing themselves at four, five, six-years-of age and reminiscing about the fun times they had.

I intend to keep their school IDs and drivers’ permits as well—if I the kids don’t lose them!

Leslie Porter Wilson

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Becoming a 2 Tree Family - By Trish Berg

I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to decorating our Christmas tree. When my kiddos were little, I used to let them put the ornament son, and then I woudl stay up well past midnight re-decorating the tree. I just could not live with the ornaments placed on in clumps and groups. I wanted it to look perfect.

I am not justifying my perfectionism, I may have scarre dmy kids for life. But now that they are tweens and teens, they do decorate the tree themselves and I no longer stay up well past my bedtime to re-decorate it.

I think they have just adapted to my way of decorating the tree.

But kids also need freedom, and so we began a new tradition about ten years ago.

We put an artificial tree in our family room, and that is the one we decorate well. Little white lights, even garland and perfectly placed ornaments. The one that satisfies the perfectionist in me.

Then we get a 2nd tree, a live tree, and put that one in our kitchen. We cal it our "kitchen tree." That tree has colored lights on it, strung popcorn, and only homemade ornaments hung wherever the kdis want to hang them. It is a "keep your hands off mom" tree, and it is just beautiful.

All December long, the kids add strung popcorn, beads, cut out paper ornaments. Whatever they make they hang on our kitchen tree.

So relax, mom. Let go of your standards, and let your kids have some fun. Get a 2nd tree, and make it theirs.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Quick and Inexpensive Gift for Year Round Giving

Good Morning Followers,

This week, we'll give you ideas for Homemade Gifts. Mine comes from the home but is made up of buy-ahead store ingredients. It's simple as store bought pie crust. If you keep these makings on hand, you can have a gift to carry out your door to your holiday hostess or summertime picnic host home.

Fiesta Basket

When you're at the a dollar store, buy a few of those over sized bowls with lids and curly ribbon in primary colors. At the grocery store buy several boxes of FAT FREE saltine crackers (must be fat free for this recipe) and several jars of crushed red pepper, and a box of the four pack dry Hidden Valley Ranch mix.

Print the cracker recipe onto several index cards and keep with supplies.

I place the recipe, 4 sleeves of crackers, bottle of pepper flakes and 1 packet of ranch mix in bowl. I then roll off several yards of different colored curly ribbon and place loosely in bowl. Inside, the bowl just looks like a party! These crackers are delicious and spicy, but you can adjust tongue-warmth by placing fewer or more pepper flakes. At the end of today's post, I'll share a chicken and cream cheese spread that I like to serve with these crackers. Or we use the spread for party or summer sandwiches.

Fiesta Crackers

1 box fat free saltines (must be fat free)

1 cup Canola oil

1 package, dry, Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dress.

red pepper flakes (I use 2 teaspoons)

Use one box of crackers, and open all four sleeves place in large plastic bag or bowl with lid. Mix coating products and pour over crackers. Continue coating process by turning bag or bowl every few hours. After 24 hours, remove and store in quart bags. Crackers can be kept in freezer. Crackers will stay very crisp either way.

Good with mild soups, green salads, chicken or pasta salads. Enjoy!

Bonus Recipe: Cream Cheese Chicken Sandwich Spread

1 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1 large can chicken

1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise

1 teaspoon chives

1teaspoon or more of soy sauce

Mix all ingredients. Makes nice party sandwiches or serve on crackers.

(Photo: Find Party items and Lanterns at )

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Williamsburg Christmas

Back in the 1980s, before digital cameras, my Christmas gift from my husband was a trip to Williamsburg to enjoy their holiday festivities and decorations. I fell in love with the concept of decorating with natural materials especially after taking a workshop with Libby Hodges Oliver who was in charge of the designs for Christmas decorating at Williamsburg for many years. Around that same time, she published a book, Colonial Williamsburg Decorates for Christmas, which became a favorite part of my permanent library of books.

For years I used that book as my guide in creating wreaths, centerpieces, and even an apple fan that hung over our door with a pineapple in the middle. As the years went on though and we aquired two more kids, I began to cheat a bit with artificial greens and fruit. Life changes and sometimes we need to make tradition a bit easier to handle.

Two quick funny stories about my Williamsburg decorations. The first year we had our adopted kids (they were 5 and 6 years old) in the house, I set out the fresh fruit arrangement on the dining room table and later, when we were entertaining, I noticed that someone had taken a bite out of each piece of fruit and replaced it carefully upside down so the bite would not be noticed.

Then another year during one of our weird winters where it froze one day and warmed up nicely the next, I didn't realize that the pineapple had ripened even more in the sunny weather and when it wasn't frozen, it dripped on our guests as they came in the front door.

If after all that, you are still interested, check out Oliver's book in the library or try to pick one up at Amazon. The original was published in 1981. Some copies are available from used book dealers. Meanwhile, here's a link to Christmas Decorations from Williamsburg. There's a page that has directions for making a wreath of greens and fruit.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ideals Christmas books

I bought a copy of this book, Ideals Christmas, last year. The copyright date is 2005, and they publish a new book each year. I am sure that each is charming with old fashioned stories and full color photos and paintings through out.
The Ideals Christmas that I bought and enjoy has many pictures of poinsettias, snow, happy children and upbeat stories including "A Merry Christmas from Little Women", excerpted from the novel by Louisa May Alcott. There is also Scripture verses illustrated with classical paintings, like The Flight Into Egypt, Matthew 2:13-15, painting by Jacob Jordeans (1593-1678).
In case you want to buy this edition, the ISBN is 0824913051.
Do you have a favorite Christmas book? I would love to hear about it, in a comment here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

An Oldie but a Goodie

I have numerous holiday books I enjoy, ranging from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever to Christmas on Jane Street. Still, none compare to my husband’s reading of the birth of Christ from Luke, chapter 2. Even better than Linus quieting the masses on A Charlie Brown Christmas, Bret has captured the attention of our three children for nearly two decades now. Perhaps the reminder (read: threat) of “No opening presents until we read The Christmas Story” has something to do with that.

Actually, we all love the simplicity of our Lord humbly putting on skin. How can you improve on the greatest story of all time?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Favorite Christmas Book - Trish Berg

We have a few traditions that surround our Christmas celebrations, and one of my favorites is reading Christams books all month long.

We gather all of our Christmas books, and winter books, and get some more from the library. We put them all in a basket near the Christmas tree, and all December long, we read several each day.

When all my childrne were young, it was their bedtime stories. Now that I have two teens a tween and a second grader, they have become the readers, and as a family we listen to them.

One of our family favorites is The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado.

It is the story of a lamb that didn;t fit in because he was crippled in one leg. He has to stay at the barn instead of going on a trip with the shepherds and the other lambs.

But God has a surprise for him. For in that very barn, Jesus is born, and Joshua is the first to see the miracle. In fact, he lays next to baby Jesus to keep Him warm.

I have to admit that I tear up when I read that book. What a life lesson on God's will and our will. On trusting His guidance and knowing He is leading us where He wants us to be.

A life lesson I need daily. One I cling to. One I cherish.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Favorite Books with Christmas Theme or Setting

Are you looking for a light read over the holidays? Do you know someone who likes to read a novel with a Christmas setting? If you’re like me, I choose a light Christmas novel to read during the holidays or at least immediately after when I like to vegetate for a few days.

Try David Baldacci’s The Christmas Train. It contains no foul language, no overt sex, and no violence. True, it is a departure from his other genres, but it was the perfect book to read over the holidays. The hero journalist was banned from flying for a year because he had an “air rage” incident, so he decided to ride the rails, reporting on rail travel, and his adventure began. You’ll find a bit of mystery, romance, humor, holiday cheer, intrigue and a surprise ending.

Baldacci fans may not enjoy his foray into this lighter genre; however I found it to be the perfect lite fare for my holidays and even read it aloud to my husband on a long driving trip. Audio Tapes bah humbug!

If you are a Baldacci fan, The Christmas Train derails from his usual stories. It could be compared to John Grisham’s The Painted House—where some critics at least wanted the appearance of an attorney, even if he only dropped by and helped paint the house for a few minutes.

Do you have a favorite book that has a Christmas setting or theme? Share it with us, won’t you? I haven’t bought my holiday book for 2010, yet. I’m waiting for your suggestions.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Christmas Cruise

Hello everyone. July already! If my mother were still with us, she'd already be knitting Christmas stockings. In keeping with this week's theme and my challenge to give you a Crafty Saturday post each week, I'm fondly remembering our first Christmas away from home and family.

We booked a cruise on the Paul Gauguin which travels around the islands of French Polynesia. I wasn't sure how I would feel being away from home for the holidays but it was hard to be down when we spent a warm sunny Christmas day on an island in the South Pacific with Santa in shorts. Christmas Eve was special as well. The crew gathered together and sang songs from their various homelands that celebrated Christmas.

Bob and I had decided not to exchange gifts--the cruise was gift enough. But gifts are a part of Christmas that I didn't want to give up entirely. At the dollar store, I found small six inch stockings and lots of Christmas candy. I bought all hard candies since I didn't want to worry about anything melting in my suitcase. On Christmas morning, I fixed a stocking for our cabin stewardess and an extra one for her to give to a friend. She was so excited when she received it, she went squealing down the hall to find her friend and give the extra to her. I don't remember anyone ever being so thrilled with just a tiny gift.

The dollar store is a good source for tiny stockings but if you have some leftover Christmas material in your fabric stash, now would be a good time to make a template of a stocking from an old file folder, trace the pattern, sew the seams, trim the top with a little left over bric brac or ribbon and be prepared for Christmas fun. Fill them with Christmas candies and you will always have something ready for unexpected holiday visitors or someone who needs a little stocking full of good wishes.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Christmas in July and Camping with Anhingas

Hi and welcome to our new Christmas in July posts, where we authors of Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts post tips and traditions here that celebrate Christmas. We post on everything from recipes to money saving tips to making the holidays meaningful.
For a fun July post, I share here a photo from a unique Christmas I spent camping with my mom, dad and sister in the Florida Everglades. Here in this photo you can see my mom, me and my sister in civilization visiting the beautiful gardens of the Vizcaya Estate, outside of Miami. This was a huge adventure for us, starting with driving from Wisconsin to Florida at Christmas, in a car packed with our tent and other gear. In the wild Everglades we encountered anhingas, crocodiles, roseate spoonbills, flamingos, egrets, a rattlesnake, gathered seashells on Sanibel Island and so much more.  This was a very different and memory making Christmas for us.
Has your family had a specially memorable Christmas you can share with us here?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sharing our spiritual testimonies made for a wonderful Christmas gift

About three years ago, my mom asked for an unusual Christmas gift. She told us that instead of buying her a present, she wanted every member of the family to take turns sharing their testimonies--how they came to know the Lord.

On Christmas Eve, when we traditionally open gifts with my side of the family, we gathered around the fireplace in my aunt and uncle's log cabin in Evergreen, Colorado. The setting could not have been more idyllic--a light snow fell; we sipped hot cider with cinnamon sticks; the fire warmed us all.

Mom shared why she wanted to hear us "say so," primarily because she wasn't certain of another family member's salvation. She simply wanted to hear her children and grandchildren testify to the fact that Jesus was their Savior and Lord.

I'll admit that it felt a tad awkward at the beginning. I think my oldest son shared first; he's not shy! Then, one by one, we opened up about our journeys of faith, highlighting our salvation as well as any high points of growth thereafter. We cried, laughed and hugged one another--sharing a level of intimacy I've never known before.

Though this was without a doubt my mother's favorite Christmas gift of all time, I imagine it greatly pleased the Lord as well. I'm sure he smiled as his children testified to one another about his wonderful, sacrificial love for them.

I encourage you to try this with your own families. Then, let us know how it goes!
Leslie Porter Wilson

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Who Would Have Guessed?

By Trish Berg

Who would have guessed that my most favorite Christmas gift was the gift that was free. 

Mike and I had just gotten married. It was Christmas 1992, and we were as poor as dirt. Mike was working at a furniture store delivering furniture, and I was in graduate school earning next to nothing as a grad assistant. We were living in a tiny duplex, and we knew we would have no money to buy each other something for Christmas.

So we agreed to not get each other a gift.

But Mike, as he usually did, surprised me with a gift.

He built me a hand made creche, a manger box where I could put figurines depicting the story of Jesus' birth. Of course, at that point, we had nothing to put in it. But it was beautiful nonetheless.

He made it out of old barn siding, nailed it into a box shape, and glued old hay on the bottom.

Now, eighteen Christmases have passed since that year, and that is still my most treasured gift. And it has been filled over the years with the most beautiful figurines reminding us of the true gift of Christmas - the gift of Jesus.

I guess the lesson there is not to worry about spending money on the perfect gift this Christmas. The perfect gift usually has no financial cost at all, rather emotional blessings. Memories, things shared, moments you have lived.

As you start to think about Christmas shopping, start think about blessings. What can you share with the ones you love that don't cost a thing?

I guarantee those will become the most treasured gifts of all.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tis the Season to Sneeze

WE'RE BACK! The Word Quilters--Karen, Brenda, Cathy, Terra, Trish and Leslie--are ready to give you hints for the holidays all the way through to December 25th. This week's theme: Memorable Holidays. In this blog you'll receive new tips for this season and you have the advantage of searching our archives for over 300 posts on a variety of Christmas related topics.

Want to have a smoother, happier holiday? Become one of our followers and you'll receive great ideas for the upcoming holidays

Sneezing Season:

As I looked through some old photos, I came across one taken on a Christmas morning. My husband and children are seated on the floor unwrapping gifts. I'm snuggled into a blanket on the sofa, with a mighty red nose. Yep. I got sick the night before. Chills. Fever. Aches. Sneezing. It happens.

One Christmas much later, every grandchild was sick with colds. Our family, we're big fans of Vicks Vapor Rub on the neck, with a bandanna tied loosely around the neck to help hold in the nose-opening vapors. So that year, they padded around in their PJs with their red and blue handkerchiefs tied around their necks. We cancelled our planned brunch and Pop and I went to their home and watched them open their presents, and then we Germ Xed right outside their back door as we left.

Granted. Those aren't the Christmas memories you want to make. So, here's a few tips to avoid the common colds and flu around the holidays. Make hand washing a priority with kids. Make sure the first thing they do when they get out of school each day is to wash their hands thoroughly. During this last F1N1 season, my daughter kept a pump bottle of hand sanitizer at her entry door at home. Visitors and family alike used it before entering. No one got sick either.

Most grocery stores supply wipes as you enter, so the handles of their shopping carts can be wiped down. Use them. Keep a small bottle of sanitizer in your vehicle. Wipe hands and steering wheel down after going into stores.

Before the flu season, stock up on cold remedies and sundries. Keep on hand plenty of over-the-counter medical supplies that you prefer for colds. Who wants to run to the pharmacy for supplies when you already feel ill? And you also run the risk of spreading your germs. I read that a sneeze leaves your body traveling over 100 miles per hour, now that's some serious germ spreading, neighbor.

Suggested items for your medical cabinet, box or drawer at home: a thermometer (now available--the shake down kind without mercury, a nurse said they're more accurate than the home digitals and they don't require a battery), cough drops, cough expectorants, Mucinex, Kleenexes, Vicks Vapor Rub, Thera Flu, daytime and nighttime capsules, Tylenol--depending on the age of your household members, you'll want the appropriate medicine for every age. The variety will vary according to your preferences, but those are some things I generally have on hand to help combat illnesses during the flu and holiday season.

Shop early, prepare early, and if an illness overtakes you, then you are ready whether you get to ahchooing or not.

Hey, did I hear you sneeze? Bless you. I'm headed after the Vicks and the bandanna. I know. I know. It'll look a little weird if you drive anywhere, but just don't go inside the bank with that bandanna tied around your neck. And don't put your hand in your pocket!