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30 November 2010
| | Blogging
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Kids Dish about the True Meaning of Christmas, Moms’ Roles in Pulling the Holidays Together and Hot Gifts on Their Wish Lists
(ARA) - Decorating, cooking, cleaning and more. When it comes to preparing for a picture perfect holiday season, there is one holiday elf that’s busy at work -- Mom. According to the KidzEyes Holiday Wish List and Habits survey, 64 percent of kids say that their moms bear the brunt of responsibility for making sure the Christmas season is bright versus a mere 1 percent who say dad does his fair share.
While the stress associated with the multitude of seasonal tasks could easily turn mothers into Grinches, 50 percent of kids say their moms handle the holidays like snow angels. Girls are a little tougher on mom with 52 percent claiming mom is a little crankier during the hustle of the holiday season (less than 50 percent of boys say so).
This year’s KidzEyes Holiday Wish List & Habits survey -- conducted annually by KidzEyes, a specialized youth market research division of C&R Research -- uncovers how (and if) families share holiday-related responsibilities, what’s hot and what’s not on kids’ wish lists this year, whether kids really believe in the jolly man in red and what they believe is the true meaning of Christmas.
“Our annual Holiday Wish List and Habits survey has become a recognized vehicle that gets at the heart of what kids are thinking about, doing and wishing for during the holidays,” said Robbin Jaklin, president, C&R Research. “The results provide a glimpse into what is undoubtedly kids’ favorite time of year.”
As the primary holiday gift buyer, what should moms be shopping for to give their little angels? It is certainly not clothes, which again appears at the very bottom of kids’ wish lists. Electronics continue to take the top spot (37 percent) followed by hard, cold cash (30 percent) and toys (21 percent). Boys tend to want electronics more than girls, helping to vault them to the top spot among kids.
This year kids have gift giving ideas of their own. When asked what they would give their parents if they could give them just one “big” gift, 45 percent said a vacation, 27 percent said house cleaning assistance, 16 percent said money and 12 percent said time off work. Here are some of the other things kids are saying about the holidays this year:
Holiday Hustle -- Mom versus Dad
* Where is Your Father? . . . According to the KidzEyes survey there is nothing on the family holiday to-do list that mom doesn’t do. Twenty-five percent of kids say their moms are responsible for buying the presents and decorating the house. According to kids, dad does not offer much of a helping hand with either holiday chore -- only 1 percent and 3 percent respectively.
* A Woman’s Work is Never Done . . . More than half (54 percent) of kids say that moms are the chief holiday cook. Only 4 percent say dad dons an apron. And, moms (47 percent) not dads (one percent) clean the house in preparation for the big day.
* It’s a Guy Thing . . . Dad’s domain seems to be the tree with nearly one-quarter of kids saying that putting up the tree is their dad’s main job. But, the truth is, dad puts his little elves to work as 50 percent of kids say it’s really a job the whole family shares.
* It’s a Family Affair . . . Eight out of 10 kids (87 percent) say that decorating the tree is a family tradition -- something they do together. Nearly two-thirds say the whole family pitches in when it comes to decking the halls.
* Shopping Styles -- Mom versus Dad . . . According to kids, 25 percent of dads shop for their wives the week before Christmas, while another 13 percent say their dads are scouring the stores on Christmas Eve. In sharp contrast, 55 percent of kids say their moms shop for their loving husbands a month before the big day, with only 5 percent who say that their moms wait until one week before Christmas. Less than a percent say their moms are out shopping frantically on Christmas Eve.
The True Meaning of Christmas
* Christmas Spirit . . . Even kids as young as 6 years old have a solid idea of the “true meaning of Christmas.” According to 70 percent of kids, the true meaning is celebrating the birth of Christ. Another 39 percent say it is being thankful and 37 percent say it is spending time with family. Surprisingly, only 13 percent say the true meaning is about receiving gifts.
* Charitable Hearts . . . Nearly half of kids think of others during the holidays; 48 percent say they would ask their parents to donate some of their allocated “gift” money to charity. Of all kids surveyed, girls between the ages of 6 and 8 are the most likely to give up their presents (60 percent -- 13 percent more than boys the same age). Gifts . . . What’s Hot and What’s Not
* Stop the Music! . . . Along with clothes (7 percent), kids don’t want to see music and videos (6 percent) in their heaping pile of gifts this year.
* Electronics are Tops . . . According to the survey, the best gifts are electronics (37 percent), with video game systems or handheld video games leading the category (57 percent). Those were closely followed by computers and software (53 percent), cellular telephones (38 percent), CD players (32 percent) and DVD players (31 percent).
* Boys and Machines . . . Fifty-three percent of boys age 6 to 11 want electronics versus only 18 percent of girls the same age. Conversely, girls that age wish for toys nearly twice as much as boys (39 percent versus 20 percent).
To request more information about KidzEyes call (800) KidzEyes (543-9393) or visit www.crresearch.com or www.kidzeyesomnibus.com.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Scrapbooking Ideas for Kids
Many times at auctions, or estate sales, a box of books will turn up a real treasure, like a scrapbook that was kept by someone in their youth and sometimes through their adulthood. The book could be 50 or 60 years old, and a source of great fun to look at the pictures, news clippings, and personal mementoes.
The hobby of keeping such collections is enjoying a resurgence of popularity, with people of all ages finding new and inventive ways to record special events or occasions in their lives. Scrapbooking ideas for kids can be very basic to start with, because once they catch on to the fun, they'll start developing their own sense of style and preference for decorating.
A scrapbook with reasonable quality paper makes a great special occasion gift for a child, along with glue, scissors, and perhaps a simple book on creating your own special treasure trove of memories.
Give them a start on their hobby by helping with the first entry, to celebrate the occasion such as a birthday. Cover a page in the gift paper that the book was wrapped in, and then tape or glue a photo of them in the center of the page. A package of 2” x 4” white labels is a handy part of any scrapbooking package, as they provide a clear area to put text, and can be stuck over top of an older label with outdated information. This is a handy way of adding your caption or comments to highly decorated pages.
Colored pencils, crayons, markers, and other artistic tools will also contribute to their enjoyment, as they use them to enhance a page with a photo of their new puppy, by drawing bones, mailmen, balls, and other doggy subjects around the picture.
Scrapbooking ideas for kids are only limited by their imagination in what they collect and use, from photos, to news clippings, souvenir programs from concerts, hair ribbons, ticket stubs from movies and more. They can even make mini scrapbooks of things like a visit to Grandma's, and give it to her as a Christmas present.
Lisa was born into a loving Christian family and went through life knowing
of The Lord and his supreme sacrifice. She was accustomed to Amazing Grace each Sunday and saying grace before meals. Lisa knew of the birth of baby Jesus; that worshippers came from far and wide bearing gifts. After all this was no ordinary birth.
One day while in the car with her mother when Lisa was about 8 years old, she saw a sign saying Merry Xmas. "What does that mean?" she asked her mother. "Well" said her mother "I believe it used to be a cross however over the years it has gotten turned". "OK but why a cross" asked Lisa It is the birth of Christ not X"
Her mother proceeded to explain that people are so hurried now they don't take the time to write out the full word and by not doing so they change the meaning entirely. Well Lisa was determined she was never going to write Christmas that way.
Lisa also knew of gifts at Christmas and again had a question "Why do we give gifts to each other when it is Christ's Birthday not ours?"
"Good Point" replied her mom " Love is a Christian act and giving is too so these are Gods principals being followed" "OK said Lisa now I understand"
Christmas Morning Lisa came downstairs; in her hand was an envelope. There was a beautiful tree and loads of presents. Lisa did not seem to care. She was anxious about something. "What is wrong?" her mom asked. "Nothing replied Lisa but I have no gifts for you. I have one gift and it is for the one having the birthday."
She opened the envelope and in it was a letter to Jesus Here is what it said
Happy Birthday! I love you very much and wanted you to know I remembered. I don't know why so many people lose sight of what this day really means but I promise never to do that. I promise you to try a little harder this year to be nicer to those that are mean to me and to love those that don't love me. I promise to try to talk to you more often not just when things go bad for me. Most of all Jesus I promise to keep Christ in my heart so that those I touch you will touch also.
I hope your birthday is special and at least for one day n honor of it I hope everyone will be nice and loving to each other and help others.
Thank you for everything Lord
When her parents got done reading the letter they both were in tears. Sometimes the eyes of a child can see things so clearly.
Heres wishing you all a merry Christmas and remember please leave the Christ in Christmas.
Save Time and Money when Gift Shopping For The Holiday Season
David Arnold Livingston
With the Holiday season coming in a few months, people are all agog in coming up with a list of gifts that will fit their budget. Perhaps, one of the worst things about the season of joy is counting the remaining dollars in your wallet after a round of gift shopping.
Here are some ideas that may help you stick to your gift budget this year.
1) Shop before the season starts.
Shopping in December can be a budget buster, as everything is more expensive!
Whether we like it or not prices of gift items skyrocket during the Christmas season. In fact, most establishments would not even think of offering discounts or conducting a sale during this time of the season because people will buy their products at the going prices.
Instead of waiting until the last minute, shop early as some stores will conduct a pre-Christmas sales sometime in October and November to get rid of old stock to prepare of the new stock. Take advantage of this. It is a good time to shop for gifts during the sale season as almost everything is marked down.
2) Make a list and stick to it.
List everything you need to buy and everyone that you want to buy something for. List them, according to priority. This way, you will be able know which people to scratch off your list in case you go over-budget.
Making a list will also help you plan how much to spend on each person. Often, people without lists will buy items that are bargains during a shopping spree only to realize once they get home they have no one to give that item to.
3) Taking the time to get organized saves tons of time in the long run.
Becoming organized can do wonders. Start your lists early before you hit a pressure point with either your time or your money. It is just like shoppping when you are hungry, if you wait until the last minute. It will always work against you.
And not buying gifts in haste will allow you greater flexibility in the budget. Another advantage is that you don’t have to endure the long lines of customers during peak season. One thing you should remember though is to plan out just how much one gift should cost.
4) Don't discount bazaars and garage sales
Who says you can only give gifts that are brand new or expensive? Bazaars offer so much in terms of variety and price range. You will find all sorts of great knick-knacks and special bargains that will fit any budget. Because the items are not currently sold in major stores in the area, you can be assured the gifts you will be buying are unique.
Making Gifts A Pleasure
As we reach the time of year when Christmas items start to appear in the stores, and thoughts of vacations start to wind down with the shortening daylight, it is a good time to think about gifts. Not only the gifts, though, but also the practise of giving.
Offering a gift can be a mutual pleasure; some might say it should be a pleasure for giver and recipient. A problem with a modern commercial Christmas, however, is that buying gifts can become a chore. Often it is a stress ridden chore in the dying days before Christmas Day, as everything gets left to the last minute.
A true gift, though, should bring with it no stress; it should come from the heart to be a true gift, and not be out of duty. If someone is resentful of having to spend time and money buying Christmas gifts, then the result is not a gift but a token of duty.
Why not make this next Christmas a time to make the choosing of individual gifts a pleasure for yourself, and for the recipient. Often in the last minute haste to buy gifts in time for Christmas Day, people become detached from not only the purpose, but the person to whom they are giving. Bought hastily in a crowded stress filled store, scarcely a thought may pass for the individual on the receiving end, however close they may be to you.
Most of the year, if not all, can be filled with work, commuting, rushing here and there, stress, and self focus. How about time and attention for those who really matter in your life, whether spouse, offspring, other relatives, friends or colleagues? The choosing of a gift, and presentation of it, can be a silent way of giving each of them special attention, and then culminating with their pleasure at the receipt of the gift.
Behind every good present there is a person who worked hard to make the best choice. The secret to buying the perfect gift is to think about the message you want to send out, when the receiver opens it. If you think about his or her hobbies, to his or her vacation plans etc. It means you have really studied that person and you bought the present precisely for them, for that occasion; in this case, Christmas.
Friendship and caring are themselves are a gift, so you can see that if you put some real selfless effort into choosing gifts, the value of the gift is magnified. That is something which will shine through the wrapping paper, and in the moment of giving the pleasure that you feel in making the gesture will radiate in the warmth of your expression. The choosing and the giving of a gift are inseparable.
With Christmas some way off, now is a good time to start thinking about the meaning of giving, so that by the time Christmas comes, there will be no thinking “oh, this Christmas gift business is a chore.”
Instead of thinking about the physical aspects and “inconvenience” of buying Christmas gifts, of the costs and effect on your credit card, think about the love, respect and caring that you feel for those to whom you will be giving. That way you will beat the stress before it surfaces, and enjoy the act of giving as a true pleasure.
Planning a Christmas dinner party
Entertaining friends and family in your home during the Christmas holiday is one of the most popular activities of the holiday season. Many people choose to host small, informal gatherings in their home, while others plan extravagant dinner parties which are destined to generate more than one urban legend in the community in which they are held.
While many of us do not aspire to such heights as those held by the socialites in our community, we would still like to host an unforgettable Christmas dinner party that will be remembered fondly among our closest friends and family for years to come.
If you are like me, and many are if they would just admit it, the thought of all of the work and skill that goes into throwing a successful dinner party leaves you a little weak in the knees and wondering how in the world you are going to pull it all off without a hitch.
But don't let the fear of juggling the tasks involved with putting on a dinner party keep you from hosting the event that your family and friends will talk about for a long time into the future. It's really not that hard if you follow a few simple steps and guidelines for putting on a successful dinner party.
Here's how to plan the perfect Christmas dinner party:
Make your list, check it twice, and invite, invite, invite. The first thing you need to do when planning a dinner party is to create your guest list. Keep in mind that not all invited will attend. So, if you want to have 50 guests at your party, you will have to invite quite a few more than that. Send out invitations no less than three weeks in advance so that people will have a chance to RSVP.
Plan to cook your own meal or plan for others to plan it for you. If you are no Betty Crocker, admit it to yourself before signing on to make a large homemade meal. Having someone cater your dinner party or ordering takeout is perfectly acceptable depending on what type of atmosphere you want to create.
Remember that buffets are informal and a sit down dinner is more formal. I'm not saying that you are not capable of cooking a large meal for your guests. If you are and want to take on the work load of cooking for multiple guests, then by all means do so. Just keep in mind your limitations and time constraints. Doing so will save you a great deal of headache in the end.
Menu planning. When planning your individual dishes to serve at your Christmas dinner party, choose dishes that are both delicious and easy to make. Choose recipes that can be made ahead of time or that require just a little heating right before the party to be finished. The last thing you want to be doing during your dinner party is slaving over a hot stove sequestered away from your guests. Another important thing to remember when planning your menu is to never, ever attempt to cook a recipe for the first time. Trust me.
Take inventory. Create a list of all of the supplies that you will need to host your dinner party. Items may include tables, chairs, service pieces, cutlery, plates, candlesticks, decorations, table cloths, etc. Do not forget your food items from your menu as well.
Shop and Clean till you drop. About a week before your dinner party, you should take the time to do your party shopping and give your house a thorough cleaning.
Cook and decorate. Cook and prepare as many foods as you can ahead of time, preferable the day before the party.
Save the day of the party for setting up your tables and adding the finishing touches to your décor.
See, hosting a memorable Christmas dinner party is not so hard after all. In fact, I'm sure that you can do it. So, get out there and start planning, and if at any time you feel overwhelmed, simply hire a caterer.
Inexpensive Christmas Gifts
Christmas is a time of joy, piece, and giving. It is also a time of being broke. Adults often think that the idea of making Christmas gifts is only for children who do not yet have their own money to buy gifts. However, with a little bit of ingenuity, some clever shopping, and a fair amount of free time, you can make some very grown up do it yourself Christmas gifts.
The first step is to spend an afternoon at a craft store, and see what sticks out at you as things you would be comfortable sitting down to work on. Some very basic, but very nice final product ideas include:
(1) Knit caps. If you have time to pick up crocheting or knitting, Christmas is a perfect time of year to put that talent to good use. You can make knit caps, mittens and scarves for men and women alike on your holiday shopping list. With all of the different available colors and textures in yarns today, it is virtually limitless what you can do to personalize a knitted gift. For some extra special fun, you can work in some fun beads fairly easily to jazz up a more basic design.
(2) Pick up some shadow box frames at the art store, and make some personal home decorations. For example, if you have someone on your list who is a big fan of Beethoven, you can create a shadowbox picture with some music notes in the background with a copy of a Beethoven songbook and maybe a dollhouse piano in the frame. Stuff like the dollhouse furniture as well as lots of great designs for backgrounds and the like can usually be found in the scrapbook section of your favorite craft store.
(3) Jewelry is a great personal do it yourself gift. There are all different skill levels for creating your own jewelry, and lots of different pieces that you can purchase to make your gift as professional looking and beautiful as you want. If you go to a good bead store, they will have lots of different settings on which to put earrings and a great selection of different and interesting beads for you to use. The best part though, is that they have expertise. With a little bit of help from the experts, you can make beautiful, one of a kind jewelry for less than a dollar a piece.
(4) Ornaments are a great way to celebrate the Christmas season. There are so many different ways to create your own unique ornaments, that you could make a different type of ornament for nearly everyone on your list. You could cross-stitch some ornaments, hand paint a box of regular glass ornaments, create egg shell ornaments with glitter or paint, make picture frame ornaments, bead Holiday shapes with pipe cleaners and pony beads, string some Hawaiian flowers for a funky tree garland, or just put a glittery hook on a plain ornament bulb. The best part about this gift, is that you get to see it every year on your loved one’s Christmas tree.
Santa Claus: The True Story
I remember my first Christmas party with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!" My grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns. Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus!" she snorted. "Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let's go."
"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second cinnamon bun. "Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. “Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's. I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but
never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.
I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobbie Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.
Bobbie Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobbie Decker didn't have a cough, and he didn't have a coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobbie Decker a coat.
I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that. "Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.
"Yes," I replied shyly. "It's ... for Bobbie." The nice lady smiled at me. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag and wished me a Merry Christmas. That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons, and write, "To Bobbie, From Santa Claus" on it -- Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobbie Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa's helpers.
Grandma parked down the street from Bobbie's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going." I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobbie.
Forty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my grandma, in Bobbie Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.
One of This Year's Hottest Holiday Gifts
(ARA) - When your friends and family gather around the tree on Christmas morning to see what “Santa” brought them, you don’t have to be there in person to enjoy the looks on everyone’s faces. Get them a camera phone equipped with Multimedia Messaging (MMS) and they’ll be able to send you an instant message of thanks.
“Whether your loved ones live in the next town or on the other side of the country, you’ll be able to experience their joy instantly,” says Andy Wilson, vice president of marketing for Cingular Wireless, the second largest wireless carrier in the nation.
New camera phones equipped with MMS are one of the hottest gift ideas for the season because they make a lasting impression. They allow users to send photos with voice messages, music, text, and graphics instantly to wireless phones or to e-mail accounts.
“Wireless technology has made a quantum leap in just the past year. Conversations are crisper, enhanced services are on the rise, and multimedia messaging services that allow you to share photos instantly are becoming more extensive and widely available. The fact that these phones are so versatile almost guarantees they’ll be big sellers during the holiday season,” says Wilson.
If you decide to buy one for yourself, or as a gift, here are a few things you should do before making a purchase:
* Shop around for an MMS phone that’s easy to use. The process for sending a message should be simple -- take the picture, record the voice message, add the text and send. If it gets more complicated, look elsewhere.
* Shop around and examine pricing plans -- some providers offer promotions allowing unlimited use of their messaging services for a set fee. Others will charge you a fee each time you send a message.
* Ask if you will you be charged additional airtime or kilobytes in addition to your per message charge when sending and/or receiving MMS messages.
* Find out if you can send the same message to multiple people without being charged for each person on the distribution list.
* Ask if you can send and receive MMS messages while roaming.
MMS phones range in price from $20 for phones with a digital camera attachment to over $199, for phones with a built-in camera. For more information about Cingular’s MMS services, log onto www.cingular.com/mms.
Courtesy of ARA Content
How to Make Sure Holiday Card Writing is Not a Chore
Copyright 2005 – Patty Gale
Sending holiday cards does not have to be a tedious chore. I remember when I was little, my mom would tape all the pretty cards around a special doorframe in our house and I would love to see where they all came from. The pretty trees, stars, snowmen made it fun to see what the mail carrier would bring that day.
There is nothing more special than the smile created at the mailbox from a friend or loved one when they receive your card. It should be something that we want to do in showing those we care about that we are thinking of them, not something we feel obligated to do just because it’s “that time of year again.”
To make sure that your holiday card writing doesn’t become a chore starts with some very basic planning.
Let’s face it; December is a very busy month, so the time to plan your holiday card writing can be as early as September depending on your schedule. The first thing to decide is on the list. Who do you really want to send cards to? Family, friends, close acquaintances? There are a number of Christmas card organizers available, but making your list can be as simple as going through your address book and writing the names and addresses on a plain sheet of paper.
Once you have your list together, and you know who you will be sending them to, it’s time to buy holiday cards. If you didn’t purchase any on sale from last year, that’s o.k. just make a note that you’ll do some after-Christmas shopping this year. Holiday cards can be found for as much as 70% off the pre-Christmas price, so this will be a great time to stock up for next year. Keep an extra box on hand just in case there are a few last minute cards to sent.
Of course, you will also need stamps. Now that you know the number of recipients on your card list, you will know how many stamps to buy. Each year, the USPS presents a few different holiday designs to choose from. Buying them early will assure that you will be able to get the ones you like.
The next thing to ask yourself is when you want to mail your cards. This way, you can plan a day where you can take a couple of hours to sit down and write out and address your cards. I know this can be challenging, so why not do it as early as possible? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with addressing holiday cards as early as October so that they are ready for you to mail.
Pick a day or an evening when it’s quiet in the house. Make your favorite beverage, put on some relaxing music or even Christmas music to gather your thoughts. It’s time to gather what you need, your card list, cards, and stamps, return address labels, envelope stickers and your favorite pen.
Wear something comfortable like your favorite pajamas, grab your favorite beverage and just have a nice, relaxing time. You’ll get your cards and signed and ready to go and you’ll enjoy a nice quiet evening at the same time.
There is nothing more special than sending a card personally signed by you to bring a smile to those you care about. It can be fun and relaxing if you plan ahead and get organized.
It was a Christmas Miracle!
So there we were, awkwardly staring at one another in utter disbelief that nobody could figure it out. It was a week before Christmas, and all through the house, your narrator was fuming….I could smash my mouse! We were trying to put up our Christmas tree, and we weren’t having much luck. Bah Humbug!!
My family and I went out early that morning to find the perfect tree. I filled up a thermos with hot apple cider, and got the kids ready to go. The three of them got on our big old sleigh, and my husband and I took turns pulling them through the bush. We live out in the country, and we have this majestic forest on the back of our land. Every year we go out together and find the perfect tree, and the children each have a hand in cutting it down. It has become a wonderful family tradition.
We returned home and had some lunch while the tree thawed out, and then I gathered the boxes of decorations from the basement. We finally got the tree into the stand, and started stringing the lights. My husband suggested that we test the lights first, but I didn’t see the point. I strung all of the lights, plugged them in, and nothing happened. He didn’t even bother to say "I told you so"!
I decided to remove the lights from the tree, and swore that I would find the bulb that was causing us so much trouble. I spent the next hour or so changing and replacing each and every bulb on the string. I plugged them back in, and nothing happened. I was fast becoming the Scrooge!
By this time my husband was playing on the computer, and the kids were having a snowball fight in the yard. I decided it was time for some Egg Nog. When I returned, my husband was examining each of the bulbs. He told me that the circuit was being broken somehow, and that in time he would figure it out. Five minutes later, the lights were aglow! In his hand, he held one little bulb.
Apparently the bulbs that we use today have their standard filament, but they also have a secondary shunt wire that maintains the circuit if the filament burns out. As it turns out, the shunt wire in this one little bulb was defective. A short while later we were all sipping hot cocoa under our beautiful sparkling tree. To me, it was nothing short of a Christmas miracle!
How to avoid Christmas debt overload
The Christmas season is truly the season of giving. There is no other time of the year when people’s hearts are as open or their hands are as freely generous as they are during the Christmas holiday. I mean, even our favorite Christmas motto states, “It is better to give than to receive.”
While giving does fill your heart with joy and help those who are less fortunate than us, many have taken this motto to extremes when it comes to buying Christmas presents for their children, spouses and other family members.
It is not uncommon for families to run up tremendous high-interest credit card debt to buy their children elaborate and expensive gifts such as computers, stereos and designer clothes as Christmas gifts.
Just take a look at the commercials that air constantly during the Christmas season. They all have one goal in mind: to motivate you to spend as much money as you can during the holidays.
I can remember one commercial in particular that advertised a leading high-end car manufacturer. The husband opened up his gift from his lovely wife to reveal a set of keys. When he went outside to look in the drive, there was a very expensive, sleek and seductive sports car. Seriously, who has been good enough all year to deserve a $50,000 luxury sports car? But the message is clear, give the very best. The same angle is used on men when it comes to buying expensive jewelry for their wives. It’s never ending.
Now, I’m not saying that advertisers are to blame for our ballooning Christmas debt. They are simply armed with the knowledge that more consumer spending takes place during the holidays, and they want a piece of the pie.
The fault then lies with our own inability to curb our holiday spending. It seems that even if we do not have the money to finance a lavish Christmas, we will still purchase one using our high-interest credit cards and worry about paying it off later. And worry we do.
If this scenario sounds familiar, it doesn’t have to be that way yet again this Christmas. You can take a few simple steps to alleviate Christmas debt altogether.
· Spread your holiday spending throughout the year. If you’re one of those people who love to lavish your family members with expensive gifts during the Christmas season and you don’t want to stop the practice, you can avoid a debt hangover by spreading your purchases throughout the year instead of all at once a few weeks before Christmas.
· Set a holiday budget. Decide what you can reasonably afford to spend during the holidays and do not go above that amount even if it means sacrificing gifts along the way.
· Buy only for those closest to you. Contrary to what you might believe, you do not need to buy gifts for all 27 of your nieces and nephews. Buy for those in your household first, and then, if you have any left over, buy for those closest to you. You should also avoid buying for everyone at work. Just because someone buys for you that does not mean that you need to return the favor. Simply send a Thank You card and remember to put them on your Christmas card list.
· Remember that the best gifts come from the heart and not the department store. Likely many in your family would enjoy spending more time with you during the holiday season instead of watching you run from store to store trying to find the perfect gifts. Why not opt to spend more time together this year and keep gift giving to a minimum?
· Homemade gifts mean more and are less expensive. Wouldn’t it warm your heart to know that your beloved Aunt or Grandma baked your favorite Christmas treat especially for you? You wouldn’t have to know that yours was just a sampling of a large batch that she also distributed to her beautician, neighbors and friends. It didn’t cost her much money, and it won’t cost you much either to do the same for your friends.
So, before you get caught up in the frenzy of Christmas consumer spending, take a moment to reflect on what is most important to you and your family during the holiday season.
Holiday Craftts - Thanksgiving and Christmas Decoration Ideas
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday! What a spiritual renewal to take a day to reflect over the past year about just how good God has been to you and your family, to give you harvest and shelter, health and hope. To get the most out of this joyous occasion, make some holiday crafts with your children. These days, Thanksgiving often gets squeezed out by Hallowe'en's spooky decorations and the lights and gala of Christmas. With the following holiday crafts, your home can be decorated for this quieter but important celebration.
Turkeys are a natural choice for decorations. A familiar project at this time of year is for a child to trace around her hand and make the resulting drawing into a turkey. The thumb is the head and the fingers are the tail feathers all displayed. While many of the turkeys that are raised for food are now the domestic white variety, the turkeys eaten by the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving were the wild brown ones. The tail feathers on a wild turkey are brown, but they are iridescent. catching light and appearing to be multi-colored. This is why children color the tail feathers in bright colors.
The turkey's head has a wattle under the beak. This is a vertical flap of loose skin that is red colored. Be sure to draw this in order to make the hand turkey look like a turkey. Add skinny legs and bird feet. When done, the children can cut out the turkeys and hang them on the wall. It's really cute to make a whole flock of these turkeys in the sizes of all the hands in the family. The little hand shapes are particularly sweet.
Another nice turkey decoration to make when making Thanksgiving holiday crafts is a turkey door decoration. Make a brown construction paper body and head of a turkey. Now make a large number of colored feather shapes. Each family member writes on a feather something he or she is thankful for before attaching as part of the turkey's tail. Repeat until all the feathers are used, and hang the turkey on the front door to greet visitors with a message of gratitude. Make a sign to accompany the turkey that says "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good!" or simply "Be thankful!" or "We're thankful for you!" or whatever you like.
Children love making construction paper chains. To further decorate the house for Thanksgiving, let them make a paper chain in fall colors as one of their holiday crafts. Using 9 by 12 inch construction paper, cut the paper in half across the long side and cut the halves into one inch thick six inch long strips. Use a stapler to attach the ends of the strip into a circle. Loop the next strip into the circle and staple it. Continue the process alternating colors of brown, red, yellow, and orange. When the chains are long, you can drap them along the ceiling or stair rail. If you don't make the door turkey, the children can write something they're thankful for on each strip of paper before adding it to the chain.
Thanksgiving is too nice a holiday to let the other more commercial holidays crowd it out. By making holiday crafts to decorate the home for Thanksgiving, you can keep this day special, too. The extended family, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc., will be pleased to see the holiday crafts the young ones have made to decorate the house and make it cheerful for their visit.
How Christmas shopping online better your Christmas!
Christmas shopping online is not for you? If you are one of those that share this thought, you probably like to enjoy the atmosphere of physical shopping. Doing your Christmas shopping online despite all its convenience, lack the festive mood. The convenience of online shopping has reduced the shopping experience to a browse and click mode, no mood and very little atmosphere.
So, you might think that despite the staggering numbers that shows how many people are actually doing their Christmas shopping online, they are just a minority out of the entire Christmas shopping population. Well, while I do not have the statistics to back this up –this thinking is likely to be true
To ascertain the fact that the Christmas shopping online folks are really a sub-set of the Christmas shopping crowd, just visit Marcy’s, Barnes and Noble or one of the large departmental stores during the pre-Christmas period, and the crowd you see would highlight the fact that a very large proportion of shoppers are still doing their shopping offline.
And of course, it is this crowd that give rise to the Christmassy feelings. Never mind that you have to wait an hour to find a parking lot or half an hour to pay for your purchases, this feeling enhanced by the jingles that flood the stores is something that doing your Christmas shopping online would never be able to offer.
Having said so much about the value of shopping physically, are there any merits to doing your Christmas shopping online? Yes, from my own experience there are at least two major contributions that doing your Christmas shopping online can provide.
First, Christmas shopping online eliminates the hassle of browsing and deciding at absolutely ground zero on the spot. Imagine you are doing shopping with only a vague idea of what to buy for whom and your only reference is some scribbling on a post-it note.
Enter online Christmas shopping, and you are able to browse online and zero in on the category of items that you would like to get for your love ones. One of the biggest value of Internet is it allows you to conduct your research and craft a comprehensive list of items that you would like to get for your love ones. So that, when you are doing it physically, all you have to do is to choose from the different brands and decide on the ones that have the best value. Thus, saving time and allowing you to buy for more people in lesser trips.
The other contribution of online Christmas shopping is that it is able to take care of your ‘bulk purchases’. What I mean is during this festive season of giving and sharing, there would be lots of gifts exchange, and gifts giving to acquaintances.
So, for this group of people, you would probably be getting something that is nice but would not invest too much thought into it, and then you would buy plenty of it to last through the season. Doing your Christmas shopping for these folks online frees out more time for you to choose something special for your love ones. It also takes care of the inconvenience of bringing a lot of stuff home (online shopping would have the purchase deliver right to your door steps).
There you have it! Online Christmas shopping allows you to do a thorough research on the gifts to get for your love ones and it also gives you more time in physically shopping for those gifts by allowing you to buy the generic stuff online. So, using technology allows you to enjoy the magic feeling of shopping under the thick Christmas atmosphere provides by shopping malls with lesser things on your mind to worry about.
Having said all these, I hope you folks would integrate (what a word!) online shopping to brighten your overall Christmas shopping experience and enhances the joy and magic buying for those special ones…
Finding Delicious Cookie recipes!
Many of us have an inner baker inside us that loves to find new cookie recipes to try. But, where do you find new, tried and true, cookie recipes that your family will love? People are always looking for the newest versions of their favorite recipes to broaden their dinner choices. New crockpot recipes, new chicken recipes, even new fondue recipes are all searched for by those needing something a little different. Let's face it, we all want something different from time to time, right? There are many places to find free recipes for any of your needs. Going to the local library and obtaining a membership (most of the time this is free as well) is one way to do some research.
They have many titles of books to choose from and many different types of cooking as well. You may be able to find "How to" books and books on different diet plans as well. Or you can also search for free recipes online on your favorite cookie recipes website. Don't have one? Use your search engine and type in "recipes". Many sites will appear for the choosing. Browse those sties until you find what you are looking for. Should a site require payment, chose a different site. There are many that do not and chance are good that you will find the recipe you are looking for without having to pay for it. So, that's where to find the recipes, but, what are we looking for?
Many of us have a few recipes that are our favorites, ones we make year in and year out. Our family loves them! Its also good to add new recipes to our collections. And its easy to do. You know what your family already likes, so looking for something with similar ingredients may be a hit with them as well. Or, maybe you are planning on spending some time with the kids and thought making some fun cookie recipes would be great. Children love cut out cookies, or cookies that require cookie cutters. These can then be decorated with icing, sugar candies, or sprinkles of their choice. Artistic or not, they will create colorful, fun cookies that are sure to be a hit! Could you be looking for a fancy cookie for a special dinner party? Although these may require special ingredients or a little extra talent, they can be found and made from scratch as well.
One of the most frequently searched for cookie recipes are Christmas cookie recipes. Not only do many of us enjoy baking cookies for our family, but we also love giving tins of cookies as gifts to neighbors and friends. Adding new cookie recipes to our collection will spark any Christmas celebration! Once you find the cookie recipe you want, make sure to follow the directions carefully. Invest in a cooking how to book to teach you how to measure ingredients and what tools you will need and even how to use these tools.
Following step by step instructions is key to making a good cookie. Use good quality ingredients and watch out for expiration dates. Many times we will only need a small quantity of an ingredient and let the rest sit on our pantry shelf. Make sure that, in this case, items are tightly closed and sealed properly. When it is time to use again, make sure it is still within its expiration date. Following good techniques will surely help you to create beautiful, tasty cookies everytime!
Gift Giving Made (A Little) Easier
So, you dread the thought of having to buy gifts for Christmas. Friend or family member has a birthday or anniversary coming up, and you still don’t have a gift? Well, we’ve all been there and done that. None of us want to do it again. Yet we always seem to be in the same sorry spot each year. As Mark Twain said: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” That may be great advice for yard work, but it’s terrible advice for gift giving. Waiting too late to buy gifts can cause several problems, including stress, choosing less than stellar gifts and experiencing holiday shopping misery. Let’s look at several ways to avoid those problems.
1: Start thinking of gift giving as a regular part of your day-to-day life. Don’t think of it as a rare, necessary evil. You need to adopt a new mindset: one that tells you that any day could be a great day to find that perfect gift for family or friend. Once you get in that frame of mind, there are several things you should do to make gift giving fun for you and great for the recipient:
2: Make a list of the people you exchange gifts with and a calendar of the dates you expect to give them gifts. When you receive an invitation to a wedding or party, mark that date on your gift calendar. This will help you get organized, which is usually the first step in any worthwhile endeavor.
3: Keep that list in a handy, convenient place in your home or carry it with you. That way you can easily access it when you need it.
4: Have an idea? It’s funny how you’ll get one right after holidays, birthdays or other gift-giving occasions. Of course, by this time you have spent quite a bit of time thinking about your gift(s). When you have an idea, write it down on the handy list mentioned above, so you’ll be one step ahead of the game next year!
5: Listen year-round for that friend or family member to say or do something that tips you off to the perfect gift! When you pick up on it, you’ll have a place to write it down. This will help you buy that just-right gift and prevent gift panic, or worse, the dreaded Christmas rush.
6: Buy the great gift you just wrote down! There is absolutely no reason to wait to buy a gift for any occasion if you have an inspirational (or just good) idea, unless you think it may later go on sale. Otherwise, buy that gift as soon as you can! To make gift buying even easier, buy your gifts online and have them shipped to you. In many cases you can even have them wrapped for you by the merchant.
7: Buy a generous gift WITHIN YOUR BUDGET! Two things you want to avoid, in decreasing order of importance: being seen as a cheapskate (or worse, having no gift); or going overboard on a gift, which usually means spending more than you can afford and probably making the recipient uncomfortable. It’s also easy to spend too much on someone (like your spouse or kids) and then find that you have little or nothing for other important people in your life (like your parents, siblings or friends). So set a budget for your gift buying and stick with it.
8: Once you’ve purchased your gift(s), you need to have a place to put it (or them). So, make room in your house, apartment, condo or whatever, and create a gift closet. Keep it stocked with the great gifts that you wrote down on your handy gift list and then purchased (within your budget).
Presto! You will suddenly rise to the occasion with a great gift, or an armful of great gifts, and you and your recipient(s) will be much happier for it.
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present.” ~ Babatunde Olatunji
Finding Birthday Gift Ideas
Most of us frequently – if not all the time – are short of good birthday gift ideas. Regardless of who the intended recipient is, whether it is a brother, sister, mum, dad, grandparent or in-law, often we all end up frantically searching through shopping malls for the elusive perfect birthday gift. All too often unfortunately, all these stores seem to stock only products that fall into one of three categories – they are either unsuitable, overpriced or impractical.
So when you are looking for birthday gift ideas it can help to bear in mind the following points. Firstly, does the recipient deserve the efforts you are going to find them a gift? If they are a passing acquaintance or you find them disagreeable, then perhaps a gift is not necessary. If the person does deserve a gift, you should determine to what extent you want to go to for them. Are they worthy of you trudging through a crowded shopping mall for? Quite often, the quest for good birthday gift ideas can take longer than initially envisioned, so it is important that you only extent this for gifts for the people most important to you.
DETERMINING SUITABLE BIRTHDAY GIFT IDEAS
Often, before setting out on a shopping expedition to the mall, or online, it is good to have a think about your intended recipient. What are their interests? Have they been dropping any subtle hints about something they may particularly want or need? In some cases, you are geographically distant from the recipient, so it may be hard to determine quite what they may be looking for in a gift. However generally you will have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the person interests and what they like. You should also determine prior what your budget is for the gift, and stick to this. While you are likely to see otherwise suitable gifts outside of your budget, you should stick to your original budget lest exceeding it should cause consternation.
When it comes to choosing from different gifts you should always consider whether the item in question is most suited to your recipient. Some of the questions to ask of the prospective gift include, Is it in some way useful? Could it bring the recipient enjoyment? And perhaps most importantly, is it something I would like to receive myself? If the gift meets these criteria and fits within the budget, then chances are it is entirely suitable.
VOUCHERS / MONEY VERSUS GIFTS
Many people tend to give vouchers or money rather than a physical gift. The reasoning behind this is that it allows the recipient to spend the money as they see fit on a gift that they will surely like. The advantages for the gift giver is that it is a somewhat faster process than trudging through a mall trying to locate a suitable physical gift, and they can console themselves with the thought that they have given something of true value to the recipient. In many cases however, the reverse of these objectives is achieved. Often, the recipient may – while grateful for a gift in the first place – may consider voucher or money as the easy way out, in that the person who gave them the item did not think it worth the time or effort to locate a physical gift. The reality is, once received, money and vouchers are rather easily dispensed with, and for the recipient it is difficult to relate the fruits of the money or vouchers to the person
This said, certainly there are places for the gifting or money or vouchers – specifically to those located abroad or who are otherwise geographically distant.
BUY IN ADVANCE
The reasons to buy presents in advance greatly out weight the reasons not to. When you begin preparing for birthdays and Christmas at the start of the year you can buy presents that are less expensive, more thought out, less stressful experiences and more time to relax. If you leave present shopping until a few days before, you will have to pay the price the retailer asks for a particular item instead of buying it when it was on sale a few months earlier. Especially with Christmas, this season can be stressful and it takes time and money to buy all the presents required in only a few days. Waiting in long queues is no fun either. It is ideal to buy presents ahead as you can spend more time on this present, less money and get them something they will really appreciate. It is great to shop around over the course of year to find gifts to suit everyone in your family. You can buy them on sale then store them safely away in the closet until it is time to bring them out.
Flannel -- A Tradition That Never Goes Out of Style
(ARA) - Gadgets are good, books can be beautiful, sweaters can be sensible, and sexy lingerie -- well it’s seductive to say the least. But what would the majority of women (and their daughters) like wrapped up under the Christmas tree? You guessed it -- it’s a fabulous flannel nightgown to replace the thread-bare, worn (and well-loved) one they’re probably wearing Christmas morning.
And because flannel is long-wearing, it's actually become a once-a-year gift giving tradition.
Recently, at a MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers) gathering, the speaker shared ways to create memories for children that would last a lifetime. Lots of ideas were exchanged, but the one that got everyone talking was the idea of purchasing a new flannel nightgown every holiday season. One mother said, “Every Christmas my Mom let us open one gift on Christmas Eve. We always knew it was going to be a new Lanz of Salzburg flannel nightgown and we couldn’t wait to put it on --we didn’t care if it was a holiday print or a Lanz classic pattern -- we were thrilled!”
Kristen Donnell of Kristen’s Pajama Company, who sells hundreds of Lanz of Salzburg flannel nightgowns, notes, “All my customers have flannel nightgown stories. I have had fans of Lanz recount stories of their grandparents wearing Lanz flannels when the Austrian company was newly established in 1938. This was only 48 years after Christmas became a national holiday in the United States. Many of my male customers say they can’t show up on Christmas Eve without a Lanz flannel nightgown under the Christmas tree.”
Traditions are a part of the holiday season no matter what you are celebrating. A particularly bittersweet story was retold to Kristen in a recent customer e-mail. A woman wrote that a favorite Hanukkah tradition was receiving a Lanz flannel nightgown that matched the one her mother wore on the last night of Hanukkah. She said that although her mother was no longer alive, she has continued this tradition with her own family. And though some in the family were boys, she included them by giving the big guys and small a new pair of plaid pajamas.
Certainly the tradition of flannel pajamas was born out of necessity, when there was no such thing as central heating, and once away from the hearth, rooms -- whether in castles or cottages -- were cold. Flannel’s soft but dense weave was the perfect fabric to chase away the chills for everyone from newborns to newlyweds.
Lanz of Salzburg understood that flannel was practical, but as practicality gave way to a more modern way of dressing (and that included sleepwear) they designed fun and feminine patterns that could make wearers feel good inside and out.
So no matter whether you are giving or receiving flannel this year -- for the first time or the 50th -- you’re not just exchanging sleepwear; you’re part of a wonderful tradition that just might be with your family and friends for generations.
Kristen’s Pajama Company has the complete selection of Lanz of Salzburg flannel nightgowns, including matching mother/daughter prints and women’s sizes. For ordering information, visit www.kristens.com or call toll free (866) 574-7836.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Gift Baskets - Create Simple Easy Gifts For the Person Who Has Everything!
Have you ever thought about giving a personalized Gift Basket?
Is it just me or do you also get excited when you give a gift to your friends and family and you know they love it!
The downside you give a gift and you just know they hate it! Unfortunately you can’t always get it right because what seems right and the appropriate gift for you isn’t always right and appropriate for the person you are buying for.
Take my mother for instance, if you don’t buy her a gift say for Mothers Day you will be in the bad books for weeks. Now before you agree with her, let me ask you this “What do you give someone who has everything”? If you could walk around this ladies house you would understand my problem!
Well over the years I have learnt how to stay in her good books by creating something different and unique every year. I also like to make it a gift that I make, so its personal and comes from the heart. Yes you guessed it a personalized “gift basket”.
Leading up to the occasion, I take some time to think about things that Mum has said she liked over the year and things that she has pointed out in a book that she might like. Then I go about looking for items that would fit into a theme that I can put together into a “Basket”. She loves “glass bowls” so I try to use a glass bowl as the “basket” for my gift and then fill it with items that she likes. It could be as simple as some pampering items or a night out to the movies such as popcorn, candies, a drink, chocolates and two movie tickets etc.
Gift Baskets can be all shapes and sizes, you are only limited by your imagination and of course your budget. A gift basket doesn’t have to be big and elaborate it can be something small. Presentation is the key to a stunning gift basket!
I have always struggled with “creative talent” so when I discovered that making gift baskets was very simple, I became a talented person over night!
Something I have found funny since I learnt how easy it was to create a “Gift Basket” is how many friends copy my ideas and give baskets to their friends.
I give “Gift Baskets” for all occasions - from Christmas to Marriages, Arrival of a New Baby, Birthday Gifts for Boys or Girls, Leaving Party in fact the reasons are endless.
For a boys birthday, how easy is it to get a bucket, spade and sand digging equipment. A cool towel, hat or cap (write their name on the hat to give it a unique look), a stick of sunscreen or zinc cream. Then wrap it up !!
For a girl, they love lots of knick knacks or things they can make. Try putting together packets of beads in a container with compartments. Include some wire and hooks. Your local craft store can help you with the items required. You can create this “Gift Basket” for less than $15.00 and they love it !
Entertaining Tips:Add a touch of Italian to your dessert table
Add a touch of Italian to your dessert table
(NC)—If you are invited to an Italian home this Christmas chances are you will be served panettone. Or it could be the reverse. If someone of Italian decent is invited to your home this Christmas there is a very good chance they will bring a panettone. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the traditional fruit bread of the old country.
But this is bread with flare. Not only is it packaged festively in shimmering gold wrap for the holidays, it is also shaped like a tall cake – a bit like a chef's hat – and its ingredients of natural yeast, eggs and butter with candied fruit and raisins, make for great diversity at holiday mealtimes.
"If you serve it on a dessert table, consider warming it in a medium oven for a few minutes and then topping it with ice cream," says John-Paul Violante, spokesperson for Motta. "You may also receive tartufone, containing chocolate drops, or Il Pandoro frosted with white sugar, all of which are a delicious dessert treat on their own or with a favourite topping.
"It is also a custom to serve panettone at breakfast or brunch during the holidays. Its naturally leavened texture makes excellent toast, or even french toast, and many people simply like the fruit bread with butter and jam. At parties it is such a symbol of celebration it may be offered while you are sipping champagne."
The panettone phenomenon started in Milan at the turn of the last century, when bakers like Angelo Motta started experimenting with natural yeast. Within a few years the combination of eggs, butter and natural yeast transformed Motta's previously dense breads, turning them soft and light. The new bread also rose much higher than expected and it is well documented that the new panettone actually created a disturbance on the streets of Milan. During the holiday season of 1921, the crowds waiting for a peak outside the Motta Bakery had to be controlled by police.
Today, no less than 292,000 kilograms (650,000 pounds) of panettone are sent to North America every year. "Do check the label however," Violante cautioned, " to make sure your purchase originates from Italy, even if the packaging appears to be Motta. There are fakes of lower quality hitting Canadian shops from places like Peru.
"Authentic panettone is comparatively low in calories," he said. "The nutritional value listed on the Motta product indicates the ratio between carbohydrates, protein and fat is well balanced. A 100g serving of panettone for example, provides fewer calories than the same weight in crackers.
"Nutritional value plays a minimal role however in our newest product, Tartufone la Pralina," Violante grinned. "La Pralina is not cake or bread at all, but is rich and dark chocolate candy. These chocolates are packaged in a slim decorative container, just the right size for a Christmas stocking – and if you keep a few of them on hand they could make a classy little gift for unexpected guests."
- News Canada
Americans are Turning to Traditional Gifts for Holiday Season
(ARA) - With daily lives run by cell phones, e-mails, and “personal digital assistants,” it’s no wonder Americans feel such a strong desire to reconnect with family, friends, and tradition during the holiday season. And what better way to reconnect than by giving traditional gifts with a handcrafted, personal touch?
Teddy bears have always been a welcomed site on Christmas morning, especially an old fashion teddy bear, like the one you remember as a child. The Vermont Teddy Bear Company handcrafts their teddy bears in the Green Mountains of Vermont and their bears feature the same fully jointed design as the first American Teddy Bear made in 1902.
“It’s an old fashioned high quality teddy bear, just as they describe in their catalog,” said Thomas Frazier, a Vermont Teddy Bear Customer from New Milford, New Jersey.
The company has over 100 bears to choose from and each one is guaranteed for life, so they’re sure to become old friends. Shoppers can choose a bear that reflects a person’s hobby, occupation, or lifestyle, such as the Snowboarder Bear or Biker Bear. The Baby’s First Christmas Bear can be personalized with baby’s name on the bib. Or try some tradition with a twist, with the officially licensed Elvis Bear perfect for that rock-n-roll lover!
In about the same amount of time it takes to wrap a present, holiday shoppers can enjoy stress free shopping by purchasing and sending a personalized, handmade Teddy Bear through the company’s Bear-Gram delivery service. In most cases, delivery to the recipient’s doorstep can be made within 24 hours.
“Last year for Christmas, I wanted to find my wife something special, and my purchase was all that and more,” said Tom Reich from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. “The bear was received ahead of the promised date and in beautiful condition.”
The company’s embroidery service makes it easy to get really personal for the holidays. Names and messages can be stitched or printed on many of the bears’ outfits, or on Santa hats. Every Bear-Gram gift comes with a free personalized holiday card and chocolate, all packaged in a colorful gift box with an air hole so the bear can “breathe.”
If you're looking for other traditional gift ideas, check out one of Vermont Teddy Bear's sister companies. The PajamaGram Company (www.PajamaGram.com) has over a hundred styles of sleepwear that can be sent as gifts in a keepsake organza hatbox complete with free lavender bath tea, "Do Not "Disturb" sign, and personalized gift card. The TastyGram Company (www.TastyGram.com) features the finest and freshest food gifts shipped directly from the kitchens and bakeries of our country's most talented culinary artisans. And Calyx & Corolla (www.CalyxandCorolla.com) offers luxury flowers fresh from the best growers around the world.
So no matter what your special plans are for the holidays, make sure you take the time to get personal with those you love. You can find teddy bears for loved ones of all ages online at www.VermontTeddyBear.com or with a five minute phone call to a Bear Counselor at (800) 829-BEAR.
Courtesy of ARA Content
What's Happened to Halloween?
Jacqueline H. Blumenstock
Halloween has become as commercialized as Christmas. The traditional carved pumpkins which were prominently placed at the front of homes are now over shadowed with outdoor lighting and decorations. The (NFR) National Retail Federation (www.retailindustry.about.com) estimates consumers will spend 3.29 billion dollars on Halloween items. Every major industry is targeting consumers with products ranging from candy to home décor. NRF estimates that consumers will spend $840 million in decorations, ranking Halloween 2nd in seasonal home décor spending. Costumes are no exception as sales continually increase each year.
Have we lost the true spirit of Halloween? Remember when your parents helped you create a costume. It was a great family activity that gave way to lasting memories. A time when parents and children worked together, creating the best Mummy, Soldier, or Vampire costume. Today it almost seems like an ancient art. Very seldom do you so see a child wearing a “home made” costume.
With most families having two working parents, it has become more convenient, to purchase a pre-fab costume. Is the price worth the convenience? On average costumes range from $25.00 or higher in price and are worn approximately 2- 4 hours. Would you purchase clothing for your child and then discard it after a few hours of use? Most of us would not. So why then are we inclined to do so for a Halloween costume?
Effective marketing has successfully attracted the attention of children who influence the purchasing decision of parents. Millions children will go trick or treating this holiday wearing the latest Halloween fashion and accessories, but not many will stand out in a crowd.
In the past you never knew what to expect when you answered your door on Halloween night. What creative costume would stand before you? Just open a magazine or go to the mall and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’ll see before you even buy the candy.
If you would like to get back to the true fun of Halloween, making a costume can be easier than you think. Boxes are great items to use when making a costume. You can make robots, gift boxes, jack– in-the-boxes, and many others costumes out of a box and other easily accessible items. It is in-expensive and fun when you make and costume with your kids.
Even as adults we still reflect back on the great costumes we made with our parents. We laugh about some of the costumes we wore, but it is always a wonderful memory. Create a lasting Halloween memory with your kids by making a costume together.
What Is It About Nautical Gifts For Christmas?
If you are considering looking for a nautical gift, for a friend or relative, this Christmas, then you are in good company. Buying gifts is something that just about everybody indulges in at one time or another during the year, especially Xmas. So, it is no surprise to know that millions search for gifts on the internet. What is more of a surprise though is that nautical gifts are amongst the most popular. Why should a gift of a nautical nature be more sought after than a romantic gift or gift for mum? If recent search statistics are to be believed, then a gift to do with the sea is the more "popular".
What is it, then, about a gift of a nautical origin or inspiration, that makes them so popular? Of course, the word “gift” is English, so the statistics focus on English speaking countries, most notably the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. All of those countries have strong nautical connections. England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland have always had nautical traditions; settlers from Europe travelled to North America by sea in vast numbers, as they did later to Australia and New Zealand. The countries of Britain have been in many sea battles over the centuries.
Millions of people, then, have some sort of nostalgic and historic connection to the sea, so probably feel attached, at a deep level, to matters nautical. That may, or may not, explain the immense interest in nautical gifts that we see today.
Another very simple reason for the popularity of sea related presents could simply be the attractive range you can find with a nautical theme. Here are just a few of the types of sea and ship related gifts you can find online:
Nautical Wall Hanging Gifts
You can find many nautical gifts for hanging on walls, such as a brass bell, mirrors, clocks, bar signs and sculptures.
Bar and Tableware Gifts
You can find some lovely nautical gifts for a bar or the table. The nautical theme has been applied to coasters, table mats, salt and pepper pots and other types of attractive gifts.
Models of ships have been popular for centuries and remain so today. Their beauty and intricacy makes them exceptional gifts for the nautically minded.
Books are an ever popular gift to give and receive. For someone who is interested in nautical subjects such as pirates, seamanship, navigation and boats, then a nautical book is doubly appreciated.
Some of the most attractive nautical gifts are the lighting products. Lanterns and lamps based on a nautical design are very popular and deserve to be so.
There are, of course, many other nautical subjects that make a great theme for a Christmas, birthday or other present. The number one, of course, is a ship; okay, you can't afford a real one, but there are some fabulous models around! Including the perennial ships in a bottle.
Use Your Photographs to Create Unique Christmas Gifts
Having a tough time coming up with creative Christmas gifts this year? The answer might be right in front of you – in your photograph albums, boxes, or file folders. Don’t just give the traditional framed photo though. Instead, give your recipients thoughtful, personalized gifts that are also functional. Here are my five favorite photograph gift ideas:
1. Photo transfer coasters: You can transfer photos onto many mediums, from fabric to wood. T-shirts and tote bags are popular, but why not try something really different? Purchase a set of stone coasters (You know, the super-absorbent kind with cork on the bottom.) Then, buy some photo transfer sheets at any craft store. Some transfer sheets allow you to print your digital photos directly onto the sheets, while others allow you to photocopy a printed photo.
2. Photo Mouse pad: This is an excellent, useful gift idea for all of the techies in your life. Many photo development stores (online and off) offer mouse pads printed with your favorite photograph. Another option is to buy mouse pads with an opening to add your own photo. These are nice because you can change out the picture over time and they generally look as good as or even better than the printed ones.
3. Photo Calendars: Photo development stores offer a variety of calendar designs where you specify your 12, or sometimes more, photos and they print and bind the calendars for you. However, these are some of the easiest gifts to make yourself if you have a computer and a photo quality printer. Most greeting card software offers calendar templates or you can purchase specific calendar-creating software. These make great gifts that your family will ask for year-after-year.
4. Photo Magnets: This is one of the easiest photo craft gifts to make and you can be fairly certain your recipients will have a place to put these. The easiest way to make photo magnets is to purchase small magnet frames from a craft store and add your own photos. A slightly more unique approach is to purchase magnet photo paper, print your photos directly onto the magnet paper, and cut them out.
We like to recycle all of those magnet advertisements we get all year by gluing photographs directly to the front and cutting around the magnet’s shape. This gives you a nice assortment of shapes and sizes and generally looks a little nicer than the printable magnet sheets.
Our favorite photo magnet gift is to glue very small printed photos to the back of flattened clear glass beads. The glass beads found in craft stores for flower arranging work best and, if you’re lucky, you can even find some that are about an inch across instead of the more common half inch size. Glue the picture to the back of the bead, with clear-drying glue, on the printed side of your photo. Once it dries, glue a small magnet to the back. Small, very strong magnets can also be found at most craft stores. These gifts look especially nice wrapped inside a small tin.
5. Photo Soap: “Consumable” gifts are in this year! Everyone’s house is cluttered and gifts that don’t need a permanent home are well appreciated. Imbed some photos into homemade soaps, and encourage your friends and family to actually use the soap, promising more next year. It’s easier than you might think. First, you’ll want to buy some melt and pour soap and some soap molds (plain rectangles or ovals work best.) Cut and laminate some photos so that they are slightly smaller than your soap molds. Melt a small amount of clear soap and pour into the bottom (which will end up being the top) of a mold. Once it dries, place your laminated photo on top (face down) and pour some more clear soap to cover. If you want, you can add a third, colorful soap layer behind that one, adding a framed look to your photograph.
These are just a few ideas of how to use your photos to make unique Christmas gifts this year. For detailed instructions on these and more ideas, feel free to visit the photograph gift page of our website, www.photo-opps.com/photograph-gifts.html.
The Truth About Christmas
Every year, as Christmas approaches, you hear Christmas carols everywhere. Sometimes to the point where another Silent Night would make you want to silent the sound system.
Everyone is scrambling to buy Christmas gifts for everyone in a list that seems miles long. The queues to pay up and the queues for a parking lot seem endlessly long too.
Christmas cards are sent out to friends and family, some of whom you might not have seen for years.
Beautifully decorated christmas trees pop up every where. Buildings are dressed in lights, mistletoes, bells, and other Christmas decorations. Santa Claus, his elves and reindeer are seen every where. Kids get more and more excited as Christmas approach. Even grown ups prepare for the onslaught of Christmas partying during that time of the year. Party dresses are purchased. Everyone gets ready to dress to their nines.
In all this excitement, do you know what you are celebrating?
What is Christmas actually? It sometimes seems like a brillian invention of the toy makers to push sales of toys to all the parents around the world. A sales marketing ploy of the retail industry.
Actually, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Long ago, a little baby was born to a girl who was still a virgin. The baby was born in a manger, among the animals, yet angels proclaimed his birth. Wise men followed a star that marked his birth and presented him with precious gifts, to pay homage to him. It all seemed so beautifully sweet.. until you realise the reason why this child was born.
This baby was born to die. To be crucified on the cross while still in his prime. Killed alongside murderers, on the insistence of the crowds, even though he had not committed a crime... days after being welcomed into Jerusalem by crowds of people waving palm leaves, shouting Hosanna, praising him.
It was a gruesome death. He was whipped and then his body, all covered with blood, still a live, was nailed to a cross and left to die. Upon his death, the skies turned dark. There was an earthquake The curtain separating the holiest place in the temple in Jerusalem from the rest of the area was torn in two.
3 days later, his tomb was empty and the heavy stone was rolled away. His disciples and those close to him saw him. He spent time with them, ate with them, showing he was alive and not a ghost. Later, while talking to a crowd of people, he rose up in the sky disappeared into the clouds.
All this happened for a reason.
The first man and women, Adam and Eve disobeyed God. That was the first sin. From then on, every one of us sins. A tiny white lie, doing what we know we shouldn't do... The penalty for sin is death http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/overheads/pages/oh20021004_139.asp The only one who did not sin is Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God. Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus. Jesus had to die on the cross to win forgiveness for anyone who chooses to accept his gift. The real Christmas gift.
Sounds far fetched? That's why they are called miracles. Miracles are still happening today. All over the world. Check out http://www.lighthouse.org.sg/ which has miracle services every Saturday. You can read the pastor's latest sermon each week there too.
A good resource that explains every detail of the Christmas story is http://www.answersingenesis.org/ Actually, that site explains the creation vs evolution theories, dinosaurs and a lot more.
So the next time the pressures of Christmas preparations drive you up the wall and you wish you could kill the person who invented Christmas, don't worry. You already have.