Dec 252015
 

With love and reverence for the true reason behind all the magic of today, I share this repost from last year. Merry Christmas, my dear friends…

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”, Isaiah 9:6, NIV

One Holy Night long ago, the miracle of Jesus appeared on this earth. God's greatest gift to the world; the first Christmas, perfect and glorious.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'” Luke 2:10-14, NIV

This Christmas season, I remain stymied and blessed by the gift God lavished on the world by sending us His one and only son to save us from a life that was far, far less than perfect. God loves us so; I see it in the wonder in my children’s eyes and in the love that passes between friends and family as we celebrate this precious season.

This year, I most see it in the sweetness of my baby niece who was born four days ago to my sister, the most gorgeous soul I know on this earth.

Welcome, Peyton Ann! We love you so!

Could not be more excited to welcome my baby niece this Christmas season! To the miracle of babies!

And as a very, very special treat, my dear friend, the incredibly talented and acclaimed Peyton Price of Suburban Haiku, has written a tribute haiku to the Peytons of this world–my new favorite name as it now belongs to two very fabulous ladies.

An original haiku from the talented Peyton Price of Suburban Haiku about the greatest gift of all!

Thank you, Peyton Price, and xoxoxo (hint to readers: go buy her book–it’s fantastic)!

As for you, readers, wherever and however you find your joy this Christmas, know that you are loved and cherished–so very, very much.

First image credit: image ID:15824287, copyright:ginosphotos1

Dec 232015
 

Overwhelmed by trying to make sense of this season? No stress. Here's the one true way to find the heart of Christmas. We've got the scoop on the holiday secret here!For days, it’s been laid on my heart to share this truth about the holidays. The only sticky wicket? I’m not sure what the truth is.

The part I do know? I know clearly that the heart of our holidays do not center around the where, or who with, or how we celebrate the glory of our Savior’s birth. That said, a very real part of me wish it did…

You see, growing up and well into my grown-up years, I most solidly understood the holidays to be a thing of tradition. About taking a minute to pause in the same place, at the same time, with the same people, in the same way each year.

Oh how I now wish the holidays were so easily defined. Because this clear depiction would be so much…clearer. Easier. Sans drama. Sans the confusion. Sans the heart hurting to sort out family situations you never bargained on.

When my mom took her exit a few years past, our world shook, and truth told, our holidays never had a shot at looking “normal” ever since. But we tried, as the hope of balancing out is an alluring call. Yet just when we thought we’d zeroed on a (temporary) stability, go figure–our world shook again. Why? Because we are human and rocking and rolling is our solid lot in this life. We are not better nor less for this being true–we are, rather, very real.

So what is the conclusion? I am so sorry, friends, but I don’t have one.

All I have is my current truth, my current reality that this life is a hot mess. A hot mess full of heart and love and pain and gorgeous laughs.

We might not be able to call the who, what, and where of our holidays in advance, but we can call one eensy part of them–the heart.

The heart.

The heart that we can inevitably, always know to be true. The heart that remains. The heart that we can cling to when all else fades. The heart that matters.

The truth is, friends, this life will never stop changing. It won’t stop adding and subtracting and knowing and growing, as this life is never going to be a stagnant force.

So what is this life? A thriving, throbbing being that takes no prisoners. None. Ever. 

Overwhelmed by trying to make sense of this season? No stress. Here's the one true way to find the heart of Christmas. We've got the scoop on the holiday secret here!

So we do the best with that we can. And we can ignore it’s incessant, needy parts and focus on the more beautiful, true parts–the parts that remain despite life circumstances and pain. And we choose to celebrate it’s beauty and glory and honor it with joy. We choose to acknowledge it’s happiness–that’s the trick of this life, after all.

And in the midst of living our lives in pursuit of this heart of happiness, the holidays chance by. So we celebrate them too.

We celebrate them with all the passion due the fun things of this life and the exquisite pleasure due the unique pleasures hidden within our day-to-days. We celebrate the special smiles owned by the magic of Christmas and all its glory.

This is what we celebrate. Not the people, the place, the pace, nor the itinerary. We celebrate the true, inner heart.

And it doesn’t always work out (curses on our beloved Hallmark myth!), but it is always real and true. It is heart, and mess, and tragic imperfection.

So I formally invite you to celebrate the imperfection with me. I can’t tell you who will be at your holiday table. I can’t tell you how it will look nor where it will be, but I can tell you if you hold the hert of Christmas close, it will find a way to your heart.

Hang onto this truth, friends–it matters. xoxo

And here’s a little more heart, perfectly said, courtesy of my dear friend…

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:53134065, copyright:Syda_Productions

Second image credit, depositphotos.com, image ID:58378861, copyright:Syda_Productions

Dec 192015
 

I’m so glad I get to tell you about the funny new movie Daddy’s Home on my blog – it’s a perfect match for me and my family. You see, Daddy’s Home is about two dads working hard to wow their kids, but fantastically blundering it up as they go. And as far as parenting fails, I like to think I corner the market a bit (it IS part of my shtick you know, “earning my [Mom of the Year] title one parenting fail at a time”). Needless to say, I can empathize with the guys in this film.

This new movie is the every parent's movie. Full of hysterical fun, and too-relatable parenting fails, you will LOVE THIS! Go get the inside scoop on heart behind it and catch the release day details you need!

Daddy’s Home hits the big screen Christmas Day and follows a mild-mannered radio executive (Will Ferrell–love him!) who strives to become the best step dad to his wife’s two children, but complications ensue when their freewheeling and freeloading real father (Mark Wahlberg–eye candy AND funny guy? Double score!) arrives, forcing him to compete for the affection of the kids.

Check out the official trailer:

You want to watch now, right? I know, it looks hilarious! And the the thing is, it’s just so darn relatable, no?

True things that have happened while I was trying to do something cool for with my kids:

This past summer my daughter asked me to “fly the stroller down the hill”. While she was in it. The part I miscalculated? I was supposed to hold on to the stroller and run with it. As she went perilously sailing free-form down the hill into a grove of trees (NO HARM CAME TO MY CHILD AS A RESULT OF MY STUPIDITY, rest assured), my son stood at the top of the hill with me, shaking his head, saying, “I don’t think this was such a good idea, Mom.” He’s six.

Last year I decided to “spruce up our Christmas tree a bit” while my husband was at work. This happened:

Trying hard this holiday season and flubbing it up a bit? That's the name of the game with parenthood--we keep giving it our all, and then pressing on, even when when we get it wrong. Downed Christmas trees included! Catch the parenting fun here!

When my son was eight months old, I decided to take him out for a night of shopping and dinner. I’ll spare you the long tale, but it ended with him locked in the car, me hysterically calling 911 and the entire local Amish fire departmenttrue story–racing into the parking lot on NOT ONE, BUT TWO FIRE TRUCKS–to free my child from his Honda Civic cage. The entire time? My son looked out the window at me and giggled.

Trying hard this holiday season and flubbing it up a bit? That’s the name of the game with parenthood–we keep giving it our all, and then pressing on, even when when we get it wrong. Screaming first visits to Santa included!

Trying hard this holiday season and flubbing it up a bit? That's the name of the game with parenthood--we keep giving it our all, and then pressing on, even when when we get it wrong. Screaming first visits to Santa included! Catch the parenting fun here!

And I’m not the only screw-up in our household. My husband tried hard to help my daughter fancy up one morning in a pretty dress-up outfit. Again, I’ll spare you the details, but after about 20 minutes into a good effort gone horribly awry when both of their stubborn personalities were “shining”, my son looked across the breakfast table at me, and whispered, “Mom, you and I will just stay here and be the normal ones…”

The kids somehow always know, don’t they?

See, we’re parents and we’re human, so we’re going to mess up. But we love them so we’re also going to keep trying our best. And that is the good effort.

And that’s what the dads in Daddy’s Home, in their own unique ways, do for their kids in the movie. Go applaud their attempts, laugh at their gaffes, and feel the touch of sweet heart behind it. This fab film will be in theaters nationwide on Christmas Day, so celebrate the day, then go catch the family-friendly flick at your local theater with the whole gang. With the star-studded cast including Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg and Linda Cardellini, Daddy’s Home is sure to be a hit!

Follow along with the film on its social channels and official website for updates and to get in on the excitement. Daddy’s Home is on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also check in with the hashtag #DaddysHome to get in on the fun.

This new movie is the every parent's movie. Full of hysterical fun, and too-relatable parenting fails, you will LOVE THIS! Go get the inside scoop on heart behind it and catch the release day details you need!

This movie is the “every parent’s” movie. It knows the messiness of families and all the fantastic ways we miss the mark daily. It celebrates the hysterical moments along the way and cheers on our good effort to keep loving those kids as best as we can. Full of hysterical fun, and too-relatable parenting fails, you will LOVE THIS! Go get the inside scoop and catch the release day details you need!

It helps us know we aren’t the only ones royally botching it all up. Go catch Daddy’s Home, friends!

****This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Daddy’s Home blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.****

Post a comment below about your hilarious holiday “disaster” for a chance to win $50!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dec 182015
 

In our neck of the woods, there is a gorgeous, teeny house that shines brightly with the holiday spirit above all others. It is sweet, simple, and perfect. Embrace the elegant perfection for your own holiday spirit now!In our neck of the woods, there is a sweet little house. A sweet little house that blows the roof off exterior holiday illumination.

This house fills its lawn with all shapes and sorts of light-up characters to appeal to every interest and current pop culture-infused trend.

The thing is, this house is, by all relative standards, understated. This house stands alone. There are no neighborhood decorating contests. There is no keeping up with the Joneses.

Amidst all the festive lights, there is a simple sign that dedicates the display to a woman who has passed. The sign asks passersby to “Enjoy the lights. She is.” The owner of the house knows that she is enjoying them from above, and wants to share the glowing light with others.

In doing this, the house gives a gift without any expectation of getting. It gives to make people smile, to make children gasp with glee when they spot their favorite character on the lawn, to give brief pause to all within the holiday crazy.

To share light in the world.

My heart melted when I read about the nearby neighborhood collecting funds to help fund the house’s seasonal electric bill, as a way of saying thanks for creating something special for all of us. It melted again when a friend shared that every year she too mails an anonymous card of thanks to the home’s owners.

It melts even more when I realize what this simple house, in it’s simple way, does. During this season of so much heart, hope, and family, it bears testament to the importance of glorifying what is beautiful. Of making pretty things shine.

And it does it a most real, earthly way. Mechanical tacky Santas and life-size Yoda figures included.

In our neck of the woods, there is a gorgeous, teeny house that shines brightly with the holiday spirit above all others. It is sweet, simple, and perfect. Embrace the elegant perfection for your own holiday spirit now!

Because it’s not about perfection or class or decorating standards. It’s about celebrating what makes us happy. About sharing a shiny glow with those around you and being a light wherever you’re planted on this earth.

And for this light, I share the House on Hopewell.

First image credit: image ID:13775567, copyright:VolodymyrBu

Second image credit: image ID:11106172, Copyright:Hannamariah

 

 

 

 

Dec 142015
 

The very true story how how an emergency (sort-of) forced us to pause, take a break and laugh this Christmas season! You never know where wrapping those gifts will get you--be careful!It was a relatively calm, peaceful night. The kids were nestled all snug in their beds, and my husband was snoring away while I silently cursed my way through a pile of Christmas gifts with a cheap roll of wrapping paper and some unruly Scotch tape that I was pretty sure hated me.

Truth told, I find this whole Winter’s Eve season to be a tad on the stressful side. The boatload of extra work assignments, 1st grade spelling tests that refuse to quit, the sharp drop in temps, a general hysteria of class parties, and oh, ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS, most notably a Christmas tree that definitely hates me even if the Scotch tape doesn’t.

But you know, there I was taking one for the team in the wee hours of the night, finishing up the wrapping, getting ready to cozy in bed, and generally minding my own business, when IT happened. My nose started bleeding. Now, while I’m not typically prone to nosebleeds, I’d already had a few this season, so it should be noted that at first, my reaction was of the calm, logical sort. I stuck a tissue in my nose and continued fussing over my nighttime ritual.

Yet it didn’t stop. I started getting a little antsy.

And it still didn’t stop. I had to put my book down because I was unable to focus on the words as the initial waves of panic rolled in.

I shifted position, squeezed harder and focused on breathing slowly. It still didn’t stop.

And then I freaked out. I felt hot, dizzy and as if I needed to crawl out of my own skin. I’ve had this extreme reaction before a few times in my life when something weird was happening with my body (like giving birth, for example). My mother long-ago noted from that I might do well to rule out a career in the medical field as I “didn’t handle blood well.” She was right.

I looked at my peacefully sleeping husband, hesitated for a minute, and then thought, “No, he would want to be with me in my last minutes.”

He did not.

He moaned a grouchy moan, and I only shook him harder, “Jared, I understand you are tired, but I AM DYING. You will have to wake up.”

As he finally righted himself to a sitting position, I explained. “My nose is bleeding severely and it won’t stop.”

“You woke me up for a nosebleed?”

“It is NOT JUST A NOSEBLEED, JARED! There is something seriously wrong.” My eyes welled up and the first tears started to fall. “I think it’s a tumor…,” I whispered.

I chose not to look at his face as I grabbed for fresh Kleenex. I’m sure the blow of the news was crushing to him, as he remained utterly silent.

“You are going to have to deal with this. I can’t breathe right any more. Call 911.”

“It’s a nosebleed.”

My tears turned to wails, “You might at least have some compassion!” I choked on a sob, grabbing his arm, “You’ll tell the children I loved them?”

He audibly rolled his eyes (this can be done), and shifted over bedside me, “What can I do?”

“I need a vomit bucket,” I tragically pleaded.

“Your nose is bleeding and you need a vomit bucket?” He was baffled.

Now I was getting annoyed, on top of trying to die, which is a very tricky combination to execute calmly, “THEY’RE RELATED, JARED.”

He procured the vomit bucket and quietly sat down beside me.

“You could at least rub my back while I die.”

He gave me The Look and began patting my back. And there, together, we bravely fought through the sad reality of my imminent, sudden death.

The very true story how how an emergency (sort-of) forced us to pause, take a break and laugh this Christmas season! You never know where wrapping those gifts will get you--be careful!

Until my nose finally stopped bleeding. Which, as it turns out, it did. And so the horrific threat of death passed.

As my husband crawled back under the covers, he muttered, “I can’t believe you woke me up for a nosebleed.”

And this, ladies, this is supreme example of when pulling out our Trump Card. Our one all-powerful, never-fading trump card is always appropriate, “AND I BIRTHED YOUR CHILDREN. YOU’RE WELCOME, JARED. Now please stop talking, I’d like to go to sleep.”

Humpff…MEN! 

I can’t say the next morning my husband was especially chatty, but I’m pretty sure it’s just because he was stoked to go to work and own the gossip for the day with the story of his wife’s Near Death Experience. I get that. NDE survival tales are boss.

I’d like to report that the entire Nosebleed Scenario of December 2015 took us to a new level as a couple, but really all I feel certain of is that wrapping gifts late at night leads to problems. Like grouchy Scotch tape, lack of sleep, and nosebleeds. It is therefore my official recommendation that late-night wrapping be avoided at all costs.

May the peace and joy of the season be yours, friends.

*In medical terms, it’s called a vasovagal syncope, or sudden drop in blood pressure, common after exposure to a trigger, such as the sight of blood. I’m very proud that I know this term, as I have been calling it the wrong thing for years. I looked it up exclusively for this post to impress not only you, but so I can now say to my husband, “You HAVE to help me. I am having a VASOVAGAL SYNCOPE. It’s a MEDICAL CONDITION, JARED!” #TheMoreYouKnow

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, Image ID:92459188, Copyright:urban_light

Second image credit: depositophotos.com, Image ID:41215167, Copyright:Amaviael

Nov 292015
 

Christmas cookie baking? Sometimes making messes in the kitchen is worth it...so very worth it! Memories, fun, and special family time? Here is how to make it a win for everyone!We have a dog, a psychotic one, to be specific. His neuroses include an eleven year-long panic that he won’t be fed, a propensity to hide from flies in the bathtub and a decided inability to function when separated from his home. Like, ever. So when God matched us up with the most magnificent neighbors ever (who also happen to have chocolate labs!), it was a blessing. Now our adorably insane pooch gets to chill in the comfort of his own crib whenever we go out of town because our generous neighbors are always up for feeding him and letting him out as needed.

Their efforts are kind and they are so appreciated! When our neighbors covered dog care for us over Thanksgiving, I knew Betty Crocker’s #SpreadCheer campaign would be the perfect way to thank them.

What is the #SpreadCheer campaign?

A sweet, simple way to spread cheer this holiday season. Bake a batch of Betty Crocker cookies, put them in a pretty basket and drop them off at a neighbor’s door as a way of saying thanks!

When you surprise your favorite people with fresh-baked goodness made straight from the heart, you’re letting them know that their good deeds don’t go unnoticed. And there’s no easier way to do this than whipping up some Betty Crocker cookies.

With their cookie mixes and website loaded with recipes, ideas and adorable free printables to decorate your basket, making treats is easy and fun! From simple sugar cookies to a gingerbread masterpiece, Betty Crocker has it covered, helping you create sweet treats without all of the preparation, extensive shopping lists, and time commitment. This holiday season can fast get crazy, but these products let you take a quick break from it all, baking up cookies and special memories with your family.

Use these adorable free Christmas cookie printables to get your holiday gift baskets decorated! Such a fun way to get the kids involved too--check out my cool idea to get them on board!

And this coupon for $0.50 off of any Betty Crocker™ Cookie Mix makes creating these goodies uber-budget-friendly too. Go get the savings now!

Give back to those that brighten your world this holiday season by surprising them with fresh-baked goodness made straight from the heart. Then help spread the word about the #SpreadCheer campaign to keep the celebration going.

How did we #SpreadCheer?

I printed off my coupon, grabbed my daughter and headed off to the grocery store. Finding our Betty Crocker mixes were easy! Using these mixes is such an easy-peasy way to spread cheer this holiday season while leaving time for the most important things--time with family and making memories! Go use this simple way to pass the joy along to a neighbor and say thanks--they will love it!

We came home and got our bake on! I’m the first to admit that I don’t love mess, but you know, sometimes, it’s worth it. Allowing her to play and have fun while we worked together to make a treat for someone else? That is a pretty sweet feeling…

Christmas cookie baking? Sometimes making messes in the kitchen is worth it...so very worth it! Memories, fun, and special family time? Here is how to make it a win for everyone!

Drawing in the flour? She loved it!

Christmas cookie baking? Sometimes making messes in the kitchen is worth it...so very worth it! Memories, fun, and special family time? Here is how to make it a win for everyone!

Yup, it was a MESS!

Cookies were done and it was timed to get them wrapped up for our #SpreadCheer basket! The Betty Crocker website is full of these cute free printables you can use to help decorate your basket and encourage recipients to keep the cheer-spreading celebration going. She loved the cookie coloring pages!

Use these adorable free Christmas cookie printables to get your holiday gift baskets decorated! Such a fun way to get the kids involved too--check out my cool idea to get them on board!

Then we put the basket together…

Use these adorable free Christmas cookie printables to get your holiday gift baskets decorated! Such a fun way to get the kids involved too--check out my cool idea to get them on board!

Then it was time to deliver our creation!

So fun to see our neighbors’ surprise at their cookie gift! We so appreciate all they do for us and were grateful for the chance to thank you in such a fun way!

Now it’s your turn, friends! And a cool bonus? You can snag cash for your #SpreadCheer love! One reader will get $20 cash for spreading the cheer! To enter, visit the Betty Crocker #SpreadCheer page, package up a #SpreadCheer basket, then post an original photo of it on your social channels with the hashtag #SpreadCheer, nominating a few of your friends to keep the love going by tagging them. Then confirm your entry by commenting below, telling us who you chose to #SpreadCheer to and leave a link to your social post. As long you are 18 or older and live in the continental U.S. (or can accept Paypal payment), you are eligible. Leave your comment with the url of you share by 12/14/15 at 5:30am and you will be entered in the random drawing for the $20.

Who are YOU spreading the cheer to, friends? How will you do it? And who are you nominating to keep the celebration going this season? Can’t wait to see all your cheer-spreading creations and ideas, friends!

Using these mixes is such an easy-peasy way to spread cheer this holiday season while leaving time for the most important things--time with family and making memories! Go use this simple way to pass the joy along to a neighbor and say thanks--they will love it!

The thing is, Betty Crocker mixes make it so easy that…it’s easy. They are whipped up in a few simple steps, so having the kids pitch in to help isn’t really stressful–even for me! These cookies have become my go-to when I need a quick dessert to go with a meal, a pick-me-up to drop off to a friend who’s had a rough day or a fun activity to do with the kids on snow days. Not to mention, using them as the base for all of our annual Christmas cookie baking. I like to keep a few bags on hand; you never know when you’ll have an I-need-Betty moment 😉

And I love the #SpreadCheer campaign. I love letting the people in my life know that I appreciate them and all that they do. Life is so crazy full, especially around the holidays, but using Betty Crocker cookies mixes are a stress-free way to bake up treats to share, while still leaving time to cozy up around that Christmas tree and soak in all that heart-warming feeling.

So go get your baking on with Betty Crocker, friends, and spread that cheer!

****Thank you to Betty Crocker for sponsoring today’s post and helping me #SpreadCheer this season!****

Nov 272015
 

You have to check out this site! It has the hippest, most unique gifts that are just off-beat enough for the quirky people on your shopping list! Trust me, these ideas will be a hit--get the scoop here and get shopping for these one-of-a-kind presents!Friends, Black Friday is officially upon us! Now, I know not everyone is down with the crazy like my rather obsessed bargain-hunting self, which is cool. We all shine in different ways.

Even if you won’t be elbowing your way through the crowds in overstuffed malls today, you can still get your shopping on, easy-peasy with all the cool deals and steals online. In fact, there are a lot of really sweet things about online-shopping. Like the fact that you can do it in your jammies. And not have to do insane things like leave the house with children. And that you can snag some very, cool unique items that you can’t find in old-school brick and mortar.

You can also snag some fab savings by doing your online shopping through ShopatHome.com. This site makes it ridiculously easy to bank the savings while scoring big on the goods you’re crushing on.

What is ShopAtHome? It’s an online coupon and cash back site that partners with thousands of online retailers and more than 60 million members to deliver savings and rewards. In short? It’s a sweet deal!

And my new favorite website for shopping unique treasures with ShopAtHome coupons and cash back? ThinkGeek.com! Haven’t checked out this site yet? Go! The quirky gal or guy in your life will thank you when you wrap up your purchases from this site. ThinkGeek is full of fun, whimsical, and unusual gifts that delight recipients because they so perfectly match their fav interests and loves.

Check of some of the items on their Top 20 Products of the Season List to see what I’m raving about and inspire your holiday shopping!:

This is the PERFECT gift for the book-lover in your life! Quality, roomy construction, it's hip, cool & the perfect place for her to stash all of her books! Any dedicated reader will love this!

The Olde Book Messenger Bag

This is my favorite item on the list and the perfect present for the book-lover on your list. The construction is quality, gorgeous, and roomy, so there is plenty of room for everything a reader needs to tote–including a huge stash of books!

This is the PERFECT gift for the book-lover in your life! Quality, roomy construction, it's hip, cool & the perfect place for her to stash all of her books! Any dedicated reader will love this!

This gift is hip, cool, and just off-beat enough for the quirky personal on your shopping list! Trust me, this will be a hit--get the scoop here and get shopping for this one-of-a-kind present!

Planetary Glass Set

Have a space fan in your life? These glasses can fancy up their every day sipping in a big way or accent a party of galactic intersellar proportions! Gift the universe this holiday!

This gift is hip, cool, and just off-beat enough for the quirky personal on your shopping list! Trust me, this will be a hit--get the scoop here and get shopping for this one-of-a-kind present!

Tetris LED Stackable LED Desk Lamp

Fun for any Tetris fan in your life, these 7 pieces can be stacked any way to create a unique lamp for wherever a splash of colorful life is needed. I can’t even imagine how long this could keep my son occupied–it’s a perfect gift for kids too!

This gift is hip, cool, and just off-beat enough for the quirky personal on your shopping list! Trust me, this will be a hit--get the scoop here and get shopping for this one-of-a-kind present!

iPhone Merry Charger

Compatible with iPhone 5/5S/5C/6/6 Plus, there’s no more festive way to keep things charged up this season. A useful gift that spreads cheer? A win!

This gift is hip, cool, and just off-beat enough for the quirky personal on your shopping list! Trust me, this will be a hit--get the scoop here and get shopping for this one-of-a-kind present!

Hoverkraft Levitating Construction Challenge

This is a ThinkGeek original and exclusive. A building and balancing game for 1-8 players, it’s a one-of-a-kind gift for the puzzle-lover this holiday season.

This one-of-a-kind unique gift is the perfect find for the Star Wars lover in your life. Trust me, be it for the holidays, birthdays, Fathers Day or any special occasion, The Force will truly be with you as you gift this exclusive treasure!

Star Wars Holiday Sweaters – Exclusive

I got the Darth Vader sweater for my husband (both come in Men and Women’s sizes) and he simply looked at me in awe. It was a really, really good feeling. Trust me on this one, friends. If you have a Stars Wars fan in your house, forget the ugly sweater trend and come on over to the Dark Side.

This one-of-a-kind unique gift is the perfect find for the Star Wars lover in your life. Trust me, be it for the holidays, birthdays, Fathers Day or any special occasion, The Force will truly be with you as you gift this exclusive treasure!

And the fun for Star Wars fans doesn’t end (read: my husband is a happy man)…

This one-of-a-kind unique gift is the perfect find for the Star Wars lover in your life. Trust me, be it for the holidays, birthdays, Fathers Day or any special occasion, The Force will truly be with you as you gift this exclusive treasure!

R2-D2 USB Car Charger

Another ThinkGeek exclusive, this R2-D2 car charger has two USB charging ports each of which provide 2.1 Amps (enough to charge 2 tablets simultaneously). Holiday travel plans have met their match with this droid power source!

This one-of-a-kind unique gift is the perfect find for the Star Wars lover in your life. Trust me, be it for the holidays, birthdays, Fathers Day or any special occasion, The Force will truly be with you as you gift this exclusive treasure!

Star Wars R2-D2 & C-3PO Ceramic Bowl Set

Serve up a fancy dish with The Force or break out the snacks–R2-D2 and C-3PO have it covered. Stackable when not in use, R2-D2 holds 4 3/4 cups and C-3PO holds 3 1/4 cups. Invite Star Wars to your table!

This one-of-a-kind unique gift is the perfect find for the Star Wars lover in your life. Trust me, be it for the holidays, birthdays, Fathers Day or any special occasion, The Force will truly be with you as you gift this exclusive treasure!

Exclusive Star Wars R2-D2 Measuring Cup Set

This ThinkGeek exclusive creation helps the chef whip up some fab seasonal treats! The body is built from four measuring cups: 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, and 1 cup, and when then are put together, they transform into R2-D2. A must-have for the Star Wars fan who likes to cook and bake!

These one-of-a-kind unique gifts are the perfect finds for the Star Wars lovers in your life. Trust me, be it for the holidays, birthdays, Fathers Day or any special occasion, The Force will truly be with you as you gift these exclusive treasures!

See what I mean about ThinkGeek being chock-full of fantastic finds? Make tracks there now and start banking the savings through ShopAtHome!

****Thank you to ThinkGeek for providing products for review and sponsoring this post so I could share their cool site and ShopAtHome.com. We are truly tickled with their products!*****

 

 

Nov 252015
 

Losing it a bit over holiday shopping stress? Don't! Follow this smart formula for better, smarter shopping, not more stress and craze! You can cross off your whole list easy-peasy and relax to enjoy the rest of the Christmas season with this proven recipe for easy, efficient shopping.Shopping season! Wa-hoo!

Listen, I know the fruitcakes and Santa visits are calling, with a rather festive frenzy (read: keep the migraine meds on stand-by), but this shopping gig does NOT have to be a source of your stress this season, even if the budget is tight. Really.

The key to successful shopping is efficiency. What makes for efficient shopping? 3 components:

Well-spent time +

well-spent money +

smart choices

= efficient shopping

Efficient shopping that is fun and doesn’t break your bank or overtake your holiday season.

How does it work? Use all the tips and tricks I spell out in THIS POST. It’s a comprehensive, user-friendly guide to all the time and money-saving savvy you need. And it’s been well-researched with extensive purchasing endeavors 😉 If you don’t believe me, ask my husband as he nervously scans the checkbook each month. Silly guy, he should totally trust me.

After you school yourself in shopping it up quickly and cheaply, the next step is making good purchase choices. How do you do this? I’ve got all the fab suggestions you need below. This is another trust-me scenario. I’ve personally checked out all these items and LOVE THEM.

Even better? A boatload of them are up for grabs, so look for the Rafflecopter widgets below and enter for the goodies you want to win! There are FIVE SEPARATE GIVEAWAYS, all announced in RED LETTERING throughout this post. Feel free to enter all five, or just the ones you are interested in. All giveaways close 12/4/15 at 5:30am ET. As long as you are 18 or older and live in the Continental United States, you are eligible to win.

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Looking for a unique, useful gift for the mom in your life? She's busy, crazy, tired and will be SUPER appreciative of this--trust me! All the inspirational gift-giving ideas you need right here!

 

Shop for the Mom Who Could Really Use a Chance to Feel Special

This mothering gig? NO JOKE. Go ahead and give the hard-sacrificing gal in your life something that will make her feel like a queen–at least until the next diaper change.

Looking for a unique, useful gift for the mom in your life? She's busy, crazy, tired and will be SUPER appreciative of this--trust me! All the inspirational gift-giving ideas you need right here!

I’ve completely fallen for Cork Crafts. The Portuguese husband and wife team behind this shop handcrafts truly unique and gorgeous items using the eco-sustainable resource of cork. I’ve been blown away with the impeccable design and quality of their products. Check their Etsy site for the perfect gift for the busy gal in your life. Moms are constantly breaking out their wallets to pay for stuff–be it for the dry-cleaning, school activity fees, or the box of raisins forgotten for fruitcake-baking marathons.  Make her feel special every time she breaks into her bag to fork over the cash.

Fantastic news: Cork Crafts is giving away one of their gorgeous wallets to one of you in the giveaway below.

Looking for a unique, useful gift for the mom in your life? She's busy, crazy, tired and will be SUPER appreciative of this--trust me! All the inspirational gift-giving ideas you need right here!

 

A mom’s beauty routine? Typically, falling into bed at night, praying that she remembered to scrub her face at least once that day. Looking at the celebs’ gorgeous skin, we dream about having enough time to baby our skin to be so flawless. Now, with Le Mieux’s Skin Perfecter, this can happen. After the initial, worth-it expense, it’s an easy-peasy, super-quick way to get the best skin of your life in your own bathroom. True story, I used this product once and I swooned. I contacted LeMieux and squeed, “What is this magic?!”. I can’t do much in this life to take care of myself, but I feel fancy every time I use my Skin Perfecter  and the results are jaw-dropping.

Fantastic news: Le Mieux is giving away a serum of your choice (Vita C, TGF B, Derma Relief, or Rx Complex) to one lucky winner!

Looking for a unique, useful gift for the mom in your life? She's busy, crazy, tired and will be SUPER appreciative of this--trust me! All the inspirational gift-giving ideas you need right here!

Don’t have a ton of cash to sink into a present? Here’s a sweet way to gift some cozy to an overwhelmed friend in your life: socks. No really, my feet are always cold. And tired. If someone gifted me an ultra-comfy pair of Gold Toe Luxury Socks, it would be the perfect, appreciated gift that says “I get how hard you work!” Go grab some pairs of these super-soft tootsie toppers for yourself and for a friend.

Fantastic news: Gold Toe is giving away two pairs of Luxury socks to the winner of this giveaway.

Looking for a unique, useful gift for the mom in your life? She's busy, crazy, tired and will be SUPER appreciative of this--trust me! All the inspirational gift-giving ideas you need right here!

Here’s a fantastic, relaxing gift for the harried mom you love: this GuruNanda 100% Essential Oils with Diffuser is an aromatherapy gift set that features two different oils (calming lavender and uplifting peppermint) and an ultrasonic diffuser with a color-changing LED light. In short, it’s a whole at-home spa for only $19.99! Snag these up for all the pals in your life who are seriously in need of a break!

Looking for a unique, useful gift for the mom in your life? She's busy, crazy, tired and will be SUPER appreciative of this--trust me! All the inspirational gift-giving ideas you need right here!

You all know how very much I love coloring, and this new coloring book is such a cool way for a mom to pretty up the chaos in her life! Color Me Cluttered by Durell Godfrey adds calm to the mess as you tackle it with color! Hey, we might not be able to get rid of the clutter in our worlds, but at least we can make it look nice!

Fantastic news: a copy of Color Me Cluttered is being included in the giveaway below!

Enter the giveaway below to score some super gifts for the moms in your life who could use a slice of special (or save them for yourself!) An original Cork Crafts wallet, a Le Meiux serum, a copy of Color Me Cluttered, and two pairs of Gold Toe Luxury socks are up for grabs.

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Have a jewelry lover in your life but aren't sure what to get her? These are such unique, special ideas and she be so impressed with the originality and quality!

Shop for the Jewelry Lover in Your Life

You know who I’m talking about–that friend who has a style more boss than People Style Watch could ever dream up. And it’s Christmas, and it’s time to get her a gift. What’s a pal to do? Check these ideas. Have a jewelry lover in your life but aren't sure what to get her? This is such a unique, special idea and she will LOVE it! Check it out and get ready for some major thanks!Looking for a special, quality gift for the gal who has everything? Helen Ficalora‘s jewelry can’t be beat. They sell gorgeous earrings, rings and chains, but their sweet charms are my favorite. The choices and combinations are endless and you’re sure to find the perfect one to match your gifting and budget needs. Check out their site and snag a fabulous match for the lady on your list! Have a jewelry lover in your life but aren't sure what to get her? This is such a unique, special idea and she will LOVE it! Check it out and get ready for some major thanks! This wooden watch is GORGEOUS!Looking for a unique, special gift for the jewelry-lover in your life? She may have everything she needs, but she will be SUPER appreciative of this--trust me! All the inspirational gift-giving ideas you need right here!THIS. The most special and gorgeous of all watches of all time. Ever. I’ll admit: sometimes I just sit and stare at my JORD watch in awe. The quality construction and intricate beauty of these wood watches is swoon-worthy. And they are fantastic for both the men and women in your life. Check out their site for their full line of watches and then snag one for $25 off! For this gift guide, I’ve partnered with JORD to giveaway a limited quantity of e-gift cards worth $25.00 each for the holidays. Getting your discount code is easy: click this link, and it will ask you for your email and your favorite JORD watch. Once you hit enter, your code will be emailed directly to you. Snatch up this savings, friends; it’s a sweet deal! Have a jewelry lover in your life but aren't sure what to get her? This is such a unique, special idea and she will LOVE it! Check it out and get ready for some major thanks! This wooden watch is GORGEOUS! I’m so taken with the artful combinations of pearls and leather Vincent Peach uses in their collections. It’s such a unique mix of dainty and boss! And there are so many other styles and materials they work with to create beautiful pieces for a variety of budgets. Go shop through this site now and find the perfect gift for the jewelry lover in your life–and make sure to get a little something for yourself too! Have a jewelry lover in your life but aren't sure what to get her? This is such a unique, special idea and she will LOVE it! Check it out and get ready for some major thanks! Looking for a way to gift a gift to a friend AND give back to those in need? Shop The World Vision Handmade Gift Catalog. It is full of beautiful, handcrafted items, and each purchase goes towards the Where Most Needed fund, which supports a variety of World Vision’s programs around the world. Browse the whole catalog and read more about the World Vision mission here. Fantastic news: World Vision is giving one of the Mango Wood Beaded Bracelets (pictured above) in this giveaway. Created by a community on the island of Java, these unique bracelets provide a sustainable income to help feed and care for their children – honor the special woman in your life with this gorgeous bracelet. Have a jewelry lover in your life but aren't sure what to get her? This is such a unique, special idea and she will LOVE it! Check it out and get ready for some major thanks! What a sweet way to tell your best friend that you love her! My favorite small-business jewelry shop is always Penny Jules! She pours so much creativity and dedication into her work, constantly filling her shop with fun new items. Even better, her items aren’t only sweet, they are also very affordable for all the ladies on your list. I am currently crushing on her new take on the old-school best friend necklaces of our youth. Designed to look like two small peas in the pods, grab a set of two: one for you and one for the gal who’s your fellow pea in the pod! Fantastic news: Penny Jules is giving a Two Peas in a Pod set away to the winner of this giveaway! Enter the giveaway below to score a Penny Jules Two Peas in a Pod bracelet set and a World Vision Wood Beaded Bracelet for the jewelry lover in your life! a Rafflecopter giveaway **************************************************************************** Have a friend who likes to host? Toast her welcoming spirit with these fantastic fun hostess gift ideas! You'll be the favorite guest at her next party!

Shop for Friend Who Loves to Host

She’s the kind of gal who genuinely loves having people over, fancying up her table and serving up treats. Now’s the perfect time to celebrate the way she always celebrates others by gifting her one of these finds.

Have a friend who likes to host? Toast her welcoming spirit with these fantastic fun hostess gift ideas! You'll be the favorite guest at her next party!

Where should every hostess start? With wine, of course! I’m a big fan of Little Black Dress Wines because they are delicious, fun, and affordable. Their site is loaded with cool recipes for tasty signature drinks for your next get-together too. Pop over, check them out, and then stock up on this wine for hostess gifts this holiday season!

Have a friend who likes to host? Toast her welcoming spirit with these fantastic fun hostess gift ideas! You'll be the favorite guest at her next party!

When I chanced upon these stunning paper flower bouquets from Dana’s Paper Flowers, I was head over heels. Completely head over heels. If you are looking for a wow-worthy gift for the special hostess in your life, look no further. Head over to the shop and browse through the tremendous selection of colors, designs, and sizes Dana has to offer. Don’t see exactly what you’re looking for? Just chat with Dana about it! She is so friendly to work with and is happy to craft an order to your specifications. These flowers are a gorgeous accent for any table, you can’t go wrong!

Fantastic news: Dana’s Paper Flowers is giving away the above bouquet to the winner of this giveaway.

Have a friend who likes to host? Toast her welcoming spirit with these fantastic fun hostess gift ideas! You'll be the favorite guest at her next party!

Every hostess loves chic gadgets to keep her food preparation and serving running smoothly; why not give her some quality kitchen and bar accessories to help her do her duties in style? Trudeau is such an impressive brand! They have a have a huge selection of everything your hostess needs, and all the items are so very well made and have a trendy edge. Shop around the site and find the perfect gift!

Have a friend who likes to host? Toast her welcoming spirit with these fantastic fun hostess gift ideas! You'll be the favorite guest at her next party!

Any hostess with the mostess likes to impress her guests, and there is no better way to do than by serving up some homemade sushi! Make it easy for her to wow with this dish by gifting her the SushiQuik kit. Trust me, I was daunted at the thought of giving this one a try, but it’s true–yummy at-home sushi is yours in just six simple steps with this kit, which includes a recipe book. And use promo code EASYSUSHI here to snag $5 off this kit for the sushi-loving friend in your life.

Have a friend who likes to host? Toast her welcoming spirit with these fantastic fun hostess gift ideas! You'll be the favorite guest at her next party!

I love the sweet simplicity of Slateplate, natural, hand-cut cheese boards, plates, serving trays, chalkboards, L’Amuse Bouche Slates and coasters made from real, natural North American black slate. An included stick of pure soapstone chalk (completely natural and food safe) allows you to directly write notes on the Slateplate (i.e. food names or varieties of cheeses, etc.) Before we had our Slateplate, I served apps for Happy Hour on a sad, regular dinner plate…oh how we’ve now stepped it up!

Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win the gorgeous paper flower bouquet from Dana’s Paper Flowers for the hostess on your list!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with these unique gifts and keep them busily playing for hours!Shop for a Kid with a Big Imagination

Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with these unique gifts and keep them busily playing for hours!

Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with this unique gift and keep them busily playing for hours!

What a quick, easy way for a little one to put on a whole dress-up outfit! Suitables™ Role Play Bibs let kids dress-up for mealtime, playtime or whenever the mood strikes them. With eight designs to choose from, these long-sleeved bibs let kids role play while keeping them clean (read: they will be appreciated by mom AND toddler!)

Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with this unique gift and keep them busily playing for hours!

This is a fantastic stocking stuffer for a child who loves to play with cars. Buy hours of fun playtime with Classic Road Red PlayTape. Printed to look like a road, PlayTape Classic Road Series is a roll of removable tape that’s perfect for playing with die-cast toy and model cars like Hot Wheels® and Matchbox®. Make instant roads, anytime, anywhere with this smart gift!

Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with this unique gift and keep them busily playing for hours!

Here’s a gift for the whole family to play with: Animal Upon Animal is celebrating 10 years with a commemorative edition tin of the game that has players race each other to be the first to place all of their wooden animals upon the animal pile. A roll of the die tells the players how many animals can be placed or whether they can add to the crocodile base. Bonus? This game isn’t just fun, it fosters hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills too!

A personalized letter from Santa? I KNOW! What kid wouldnt love this?! Check out how to score an authentic one for super cheap with this exclusive promo code!

The main man of the hour this time of year is, of course, Santa Claus. And what kid wouldn’t love to get a personalized letter from the big guy? SantaSentMeALetter.com makes it happen! With 20 exclusive templates to choose from, the website allows for each letter to be completely personalized. Santa signs and wax seals each letter by hand before postmarking it directly from the North Pole. And let me tell you, friends, the early warning to my kids that Santa is watching them closely for good behavior? Score! Send one to the child in your life for 20% off using the exclusive promo code TMOTY2015 with your order.

Fantastic news: One reader will win the full North Pole Package Santa Letter in the giveaway below!

Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with this unique gift and keep them busily playing for hours!

Am I the only one with a child obsessed with unicorns? When my daughter received her Zoonicorns, she squealed in delight…and hasn’t put them down since. What are Zoonicorns? These unique, plush toys combine an exotic animal (zebra) and a mythical creature (our beloved unicorn). The full Zoonicorn set comes with a book, and together, they feed your child’s imagination, keeping them occupied for hours on end (trust me on this). This a fun gift for the playful unicorn-lover in your life!

Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with this unique gift and keep them busily playing for hours!

These may be the cutest, most fun shoes ever made! Bobbi-Toads is a full line of interactive footwear. The Paintables are designed so that you can paint (and repaint!) the “toes” with nail polish for a custom look every time you wear them. The Light-Ups have toes that light up in five different-colored LEDs with each step and can be decorated with Bobbi-Stickers nail stickers. Not only are they fun to customize, they inspire creativity by encouraging to play and have fun in their shoes. Every time my daughter puts hers on, she does a dance routine so she can see the toes light-up! Head over to the site to shop using the exclusive promo code TMOTY30 to get 30% off your order through 12/31/15.

Fantastic news: Bobbi-Toads is giving away a pair of your choice to one winner in the giveaway below!

Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with this unique gift and keep them busily playing for hours!

Put away the iPads and cell phones, and allow your child to connect with a teddy bear that teaches them strong, powerful, fun statements to reinforce how special they really are!  “I love me!”, “I love my body!”, “I love to laugh!”and “I am so loved!” are some of the joyful sayings that the bear says to the child and encourages them to repeat back. The interactive toy works with a press of a paw.  A positive, empowering message is delivered from one paw, and it offers the opportunity for the parent or child to record something special of their own on the other paw! BuppaLaPaloo will help children learn to feel empowered and full of love! LOVE the inspiration behind this toy and the way that it encourages children to use play to build self-esteem!

Fantastic news: One BuppaLaPaloo bear is up for grabs in the giveaway below!

Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win The North Pole personalized letter from Santa package, a BuppaLaPaloo bear and a pair of Bobbi-Toads of your choice for the imaginative child in your life!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
****************************************************************************Some kids have an insatiable need to keep exploring, learning, and discovering their world. Help them do it in a fun way with these neat gift ideas! You'll have your holiday gifts for children in the bag after checking out these original ideas on the list!

 

Shop for a Kid Who Loves to Learn New Things

Some kids have an insatiable need to keep exploring, learning, and discovering their world. Help them do it in a fun way with these neat gift ideas! Some kids have an insatiable need to keep exploring, learning, and discovering their world. Help them do it in a fun way with these neat gift ideas! You'll have your holiday gifts for children in the bag after checking out this original idea on the list! This is a sweet gift book for any child on your list! Deanna Bufo Novak has written a tale that incorporates many of the holiday traditions around the globe in My Sleigh Ride Around the World. It’s personalized for the child, and teaches them about the way others celebrate the holidays across the globe. It includes pages in the back of the book where a child can write in their own favorite traditions, create a gratitude list and a gift list for friends and family. Order this special gift now! Some kids have an insatiable need to keep exploring, learning, and discovering their world. Help them do it in a fun way with these neat gift ideas! You'll have your holiday gifts for children in the bag after checking out this original idea on the list! If there’s a little one in your life learning to ride a bike, I can’t recommend Glide Bikes enough. My son has struggled to get the hang of the bike-riding thing, and balance bikes have been a Godsend. They are perfect tools to help kids build their confidence by learning how to balance without the use of training wheels. Read more about Glide Bikes and the different sizing options available on their site. This is an incredible gift to put under the tree!Some kids have an insatiable need to keep exploring, learning, and discovering their world. Help them do it in a fun way with these neat gift ideas! You'll have your holiday gifts for children in the bag after checking out this original idea on the list! This one is PERFECT for babies! Have a baby on your list? They love to learn too! Check out this adorable Yookidoo’s Lights N Music Fun Ball. It features four colorful friendly faces that light up together as music plays. Lights and short clips of music are activated by shaking, tapping, or rolling the ball, and there is an on/off button for silent play. It lets your baby play while encouraging crawling, head lifting, improves motor skills, and sensory development. Need help battling temper tantrums? There's an app for that! And it's easy, and cheap and it WORKS. Scoop all the details here! This is a gift for BOTH parents and kids to help them learn something very important–how to tackle those nasty temper tantrums! We need this so badly in our house! Thankfully, there’s an app to help. Taming Tantrums is straight-forward, cheap, and it works. Download it for your own family and then pass it onto other families who are struggling with tantrums. It will be an appreciated gift, I promise! Some kids have an insatiable need to keep exploring, learning, and discovering their world. Help them do it in a fun way with these neat gift ideas! You'll have your holiday gifts for children in the bag after checking out this original idea on the list! I love this last suggestion because it encourages kids to learn with their dads. Cooper and Kid is all about making dad cool again and doing what matters most–bonding with the kids! Cooper & Kid has everything a dad needs in the winter for educational fun (think STEM) with his kids. Each kit contains a huge box themed projects, toys, books and ideas that dads and kids will truly enjoy. Together they can build rocket ships, take off with sky lanterns or explore the world of butterflies — there is so much to create and discover! Check it out and gift the dads and kids in your life now!

**************************************************************************** The is the smart, HUGE money-saving solution you need to cover all of your pricey shipping expenses this holiday season! Trust me, this is an incredible deal--get the whole scoop here! One final giveaway treat is provided by TransWorthy Shipping. What is TransWorthy Shipping? It’s a smart, money-saving solution for all of your shipping needs this holiday season. TransWorthy is a worldwide shipping advisor that receives DHL discounted pricing which they then pass on to you. We’re talking 74% savings on your shipping costs! Apart from their ridiculously low prices, the TransWorthy system offers the following benefits: ability to track your shipment on the DHL website, convenient payment on their site and no waiting in lines (we know how much of a drag it can be).   How does it work? Go online to TransWorthy.com, place your International Order, input credit card info and they’ll schedule a pickup. Easy-peasy!   Fantastic news: TransWorthy Shipping is offering a $100 shipping credit to one of my readers in the giveaway below. Now that is a sweet deal! a Rafflecopter giveaway

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And for even more fabulous gift-giving ideas at incredible prices, pop over to the newly launched The Penny Hoarder’s Black Friday portal. It’s superbly organized to help you shop smartly, and she really knows her deals!

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I get it, friends. Time and money are tight, but we still love the people in our lives and want to spread some holiday-lovin’. And if we’re going to hand over our hard-earned cash, we want it to be worth it. So let’s do this shopping thing together. And we’ll get it done quickly, so there’s loads of time leftover to sit through yet another preschool Christmas program, I promise!

Losing it a bit over holiday shopping stress? Don't! Follow this smart formula for better, smarter shopping, not more stress and craze! You can cross off your whole list easy-peasy and relax to enjoy the rest of the Christmas season with this proven recipe for easy, efficient shopping.

****Thank you to all of the above companies listed in this gift guide for sending product for review purposes. All items were carefully selected for inclusion and my delight in them is 100% genuine!****

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:44255237, copyright:Maridav

Last image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:15854487, copyright: Syda_Productions

Jan 072015
 

We all have THOSE moments in life when we feel snowed and overwhelmed. But keep this perspective and you'll get through!  True story of how the blessing really is right around the corner if you keep this in mind!I feel dishonest claiming these holidays were more harried than most. Let’s be real; I will always manage to work my panicky personality into a sizable tizzy come every end of December. But there were a few extras that added to the excitement this go around.

While we avoided the plague that touched down last Christmas, my husband caught a nasty cold on the eve of our ginormous holiday party…and didn’t get better for another 2 weeks. Oh what fun.

The Christmas tree spent some time hanging out on the floor, which, while a fun new take on the traditional upright stance, wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

My daughter celebrated Christmas Day itself with a sudden nasty stomach bug that left her puking…while we were riding in the minivan for 4 hrs. Over the river and through the woods…

Oh, and my sister had her baby. And I’m still beaming.

And I’m still tired, a little weary and surrounded by mountains of Christmas decorations. But you know what? Add all this stuff together and what do you have? The perfect Christmas.

What?? I know, but really…

You see, I can spend hours and days fretting over how we will conceivably get everything done, how impossible schedules will sort. But a while ago I learned the best way to know that you can walk through a fiery, challenging moment is to walk through it. Any burns you pick up along the way are boss reminders that you were strong–and that the love and blessings remain constant.

Our moment of trickiness began at 3am the day before my niece was born, the same day that my husband took ill and the day before our party. We got the call that my sister was in labor. Too hyped to go back to sleep, I got up. Determined to start tackling my day on the right foot, I took my vitamins. It was then I realized that in my blurry state I had mistakenly taken my sleep medication instead.

Super.

I now had a party to prep for, a sick husband, sleeping children, a sister in labor, and had just taken a sedative that would wear off in approximately 7 hours. I was DELIGHTED with myself.

And this is when my husband shone. This is where I saw strength shine in our moment.

Knowing I needed to be with my sister, we all packed up and went to the hospital. As it turns out, the poor dear found herself in a 30 hour labor, so we did have to make a few trips back and forth to home, but in the end, my niece was born, I was there, and my husband readied the entire house for the party himself. My hero.

In the midst of this, in the middle of the the second night, I heard him answer a call from my brother-in-law announcing that my sister’s labor was progressing. As I listened to my husband offer cheerful encouragement and support, artfully masking the tiredness in his voice, I felt so grateful to have this close family and for the love covering this moment.

People had fun at the party, shockingly despite my decision to abandon my fancy crab rolls (yes, I failed Pinterest that night). And when a very dear friend bailed me out by making amazing soft pretzels and others offered help and sweet congratulations on my new aunt status, I was surrounded by warmth in our moment.

As I cuddled the new baby on Christmas morning, my heart leapt with awe. When we finally landed at my father’s girlfriend’s house and all kindly welcomed my sick daughter cuddled up on the couch (nope, not awkward at all), I could have focused on the puke bucket sitting by the Christmas tree, but instead, I was simply blessed in our moment.

Feeling a bit stressed by life? Hang in there, the flipside is right around the corner. Keep the perspective outlined here and you're good to go!

I can often fuss over what my life is not or what we’re missing, but the truth is, through this Christmas, in all it’s chaotic mess, with the people I cherish most in this world, I felt strong. I felt loved. I felt warmth. I felt blessed.

Fiery moments aren’t really a bad thing at all; after the smoke clears, your vision is a whole lot clearer.

 

First image credit: image ID:28788529, copyright:Maridav

Dec 242014
 

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”, Isaiah 9:6, NIV

One Holy Night long ago, the miracle of Jesus appeared on this earth. God's greatest gift to the world; the first Christmas, perfect and glorious.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'” Luke 2:10-14, NIV

This Christmas season, I remain stymied and blessed by the gift God lavished on the world by sending us His one and only son to save us from a life that was far, far less than perfect. God loves us so; I see it in the wonder in my children’s eyes and in the love that passes between friends and family as we celebrate this precious season.

This year, I most see it in the sweetness of my baby niece who was born four days ago to my sister, the most gorgeous soul I know on this earth.

Welcome, Peyton Ann! We love you so!

Could not be more excited to welcome my baby niece this Christmas season! To the miracle of babies!

And as a very, very special treat, my dear friend, the incredibly talented and acclaimed Peyton Price of Suburban Haiku, has written a tribute haiku to the Peytons of this world–my new favorite name as it now belongs to two very fabulous ladies.

An original haiku from the talented Peyton Price of Suburban Haiku about the greatest gift of all!

Thank you, Peyton Price, and xoxoxo (hint to readers: go buy her book–it’s fantastic)!

As for you, readers, wherever and however you find your joy this Christmas, know that you are loved and cherished–so very, very much.

First image credit: image ID:15824287, copyright:ginosphotos1

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