Saturday, November 20, 2010

Best Bargain Christmas Gift Ideas

Everyone is feeling the strains of our sad state of the economy these days, so how do you afford a wonderful Christmas gift without breaking the bank? Easy. Check out these awesome Christmas gift ideas that will be loved and still leave you with some money in your wallet. If you can't find anything here that tickles your fancy check out my blog post on Homemade Inexpensive Holiday Gifts & Christmas Crafts, or see The Top 10 DVDs for Christmas 2010 here . Or for your "techie" loved ones, check out the Top 5 Hottest Christmas Gifts of 2010 for Tech Lovers , and if your loveable teenagers still need gifts under the tree check out the Top 5 Hottest Christmas Gifts of 2010 for Teens .

So without further ado... here's the  
10 Best Bargain Christmas Gift Ideas 
Personalized Christmas Gift Baskets
Personalized Christmas baskets are a beautiful and inexpensive way to give a gift from the heart and still make a statement. They can be suited to the receiver depending on their tastes. Inexpensive empty baskets are readily available at dollar type stores. Even department stores like Walmart and Target are a good resource for empty baskets at reasonable prices. Nearly new baskets can be found at flea markets, yard sales, thrift shops, Good Will, Salvation Army Stores, and eBay, just make sure to rinse them in hot soapy water and let them air dry before filling, also make sure the bottoms are sturdy enough to handle the weight of what you're filling them with. Decorative items for your baskets and filling can be found at a variety of stores and even online. Here's a link for beautiful and inexpensive Christmas ornaments I found on Amazon to decorate the handles of your gift baskets, or to just add to the filling. I also wrote an article for Ehow that will give you even more awesome gift basket ideas.
Christmas Goody Basket:
Goody baskets are always appreciated and can be suited to the recipient. Just make a few batches of your favorite Christmas cookies ( see some recipes here ), and put them in a pretty tin (from the dollar store or Goodwill...washed out of course), throw in some gourmet coffees or teas, wrap it with a pretty bow, and you'll have a lovely homemade gift from the heart. Also you could make other treats to suit the receiver such as; sweet lovers baskets, make some different types of Cocoas-in-a-jar, Brownies-in-a-jar, Cookies-in-a-jar, or something similar, and fill in with homemade holiday candies or anything you think they'll enjoy for a sweet snack. There are tons of "in-a-jar" recipes all over the net, plus, they really look cool when the ingredients are layered. I've given these out for a few Christmases, and it seems they almost expect them now. See my blog post for some awesome recipes.  
Hassle-Free Italian Dinner Basket or a "Kiss the Chef " Basket
Fill it with a couple jars of to-die-for homemade bolognese sauce ( here's my family recipe look at the bottom for the Italian Bolognese Sauce Recipe ), throw in a few packages of pasta, and a bottle of wine. This will definitely bring big smiles to their faces... (especially the one who usually does all the cooking), they will appreciate the thoughtfulness that went into making a homemade dinner. This doesn't have to be Italian night either, if you know they love Chinese , add some Chinese sauces and or some other cuisine, tailor it to suit the recipients. If you know they like to cook, make up a cool "Kiss the Chef" basket filled with the best selling new cookbooks , kitchen gadgets , and a "kiss the chef" apron .  
Movie Night Basket
Put together a cute basket or bag stuffed with bargain DVDs ( or see this list of the Top 10 DVDs for Christmas 2010: What DVD's Are on Everyone's Christmas List ), and a box of microwave popcorn, throw in some Milkduds, and you'll have a great gift to give. Target has a section of DVDs for $5. During Black Friday Wal-Mart will be selling a wide selection of DVDs for only $1.96. You can get five DVDs and still spend less than $10! Check out my my Top 50 Feel Good Movies of All Time list for some ideas.  
"Feel Better" Kit
If you've got a 'sickly soul' on your list or one who's always catching a cold, this is a perfect gift. Even if they aren't' the 'sickly' type, during the winter months so many come down with colds, flues, viruses, and other nasty ailments, it's just no fun at all. So why not put together a homemade "feel better" kit? Get a big jar and fill it with some dry chicken noodle soup (the kind where you just add hot water, I know, it's not like Mom's, but it'll sure do the trick in an emergency), some Kleenex tissues (with aloe so they're soft on that sore nose), some Vicks vapo-rub, Day-Quil / or AlkaSeltzer Cold Remedy, a cute and cuddly stuffed animal, and a cozy pair of thick socks. Throw in a "feel-good" movie from my Top 50 Feel Good Movies of All Time list and you've got a winner for those winter blues that is sure to bring some cheer.  
Holiday Party Basket:
These are fun and believe me, the recipient will love it. Christmas is the perfect time to put together a New Year's Gift basket they can use bring in the new year with style. Make some homemade Baileys and/or Kahlua and put them in pretty bottles, throw in some streamers, some horns, a cd of holiday music and you're good to go. Wrap it all up in a cellophaned basket, add some New Year's decorations, and you've got yourself a great gift that won't break the bank. 
Family Night Gift Basket:
If you've got a game lover on your list, put together a fun gift basket with a bunch of family games to play on a cold and blustery day. Buy a couple decks of cards, maybe a deck of UNO and some classic Bicycle cards, a few smaller games that easily fit in your basket such as miniature checkers, chess or the like, and some puzzle books (for those alone days), and a few boxes of popcorn or candy, and you have a perfect fun family night gift basket.  
Fresh Fruit Basket:
Use fresh, in-season fruit and homemade preserves, jams & jellies for a beautiful fruit basket they are sure to love. Canning jars are inexpensive at places like Walmart, your local grocer, and of course in thrift stores or Goodwill stores. Preserve, jam and jelly recipes are many times listed right on the box of pectin you'll need. Here's a great marmalade recipe you might try, the citrus can be substituted with any fruit of your choice. Fill in the rest of the basket with seasonal fruit such as apples, pears and cranberries, or use fresh citrus (which is also great for fighting colds). Top the jars with cute Christmas toppers such as a few sticks of cinnamon tied with red ribbon, or dollar store trinkets hot glued to the top of the jar, or top the jars with a cute piece of Christmas fabric tied with a matching ribbon.
Winter Emergency Car Kits
Batteries, bandages, jumper cables, rock salt (for getting out of icy situations), gloves, water bottles, and other emergency items can really be a lifesaver for those stuck in a cold environment when the car breaks down. Plus, won't you feel great knowing that they'll be thinking of your thoughtfulness when they're in that bad situation? Just find a cool way to wrap them all up and you've got yourself a great gift. See this post for more ideas on what to add to your winter emergency car kit.
If you're not into cooking, or not feeling very crafty, here a few bargains I've found online that will definitely brings smiles to the recipients:
Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, 6
Kindle is still the most asked for gift for two years running, maybe that's because it's the coolest way to take all your books with you in the palm of your hand. Or maybe it's because people just like the newest hot gadgets, but whatever the case, I've searched around and came up with the cheapest places to find these little beauties to save both your sanity and wallets. Brand new and shipped fast, only $139 at Amazon , See here for Ebay Kindles. If you love the idea of a Kindle but still can't afford one, the NOOK WiFi eReader goes for $ 99.99 at Best Buy on Black Friday . If you don't want to get out of bed at the butt-crack of dawn on Black Friday then check out Barnes and Noble who's now gone fully official with its new $149 Nook. The 3G version has taken a price drop to $199 as well, matching the pricing indicated by Best Buy. B&N is also outing its firmware version 1.4 , which allows the free use of AT&T wireless hotspots everywhere.
Canon PowerShot A495 or a Digital Camera
This digital camera is the best for what you get, it can't do much beyond point and shoot, but it does that so well it's hard to complain. It has the best photo quality you're going to find in a compact camera for less than $100 and some fun creative modes perfect for the budding photographer on your list. It comes in some cool colors too (red, silver or blue). Amazon had the best price I found, see here Canon PowerShot A495 . Price range: $99 - $136 check latest prices.I hope you've found some useful ideas for bargain Christmas gifts in this list. If you've got some ideas, leave me a comment, I'd love to hear about them!
Resources & More Reading:
Top 5 Hottest Christmas Gifts of 2010 for Tech Lovers
Top 5 Hottest Christmas Gifts of 2010 for Teens

Top 10 DVDs for Christmas 2010: What DVD's Are on Everyone's Christmas List
Homemade Inexpensive Holiday Gifts & Christmas Crafts How to Create a Cheap Gift that Looks Expensive and Awesome Christmas gift ideas; 
Homemade Baileys and Kahlua recipes :
Original recipes
Vegan Baileys recipe 
Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, 6
Canon PowerShot A495 
Top 50 Feel Good Movies of All Time 
More Holiday Recipes :

Recipes from My Family to Yours
Collins Family Traditional Christmas Cookie Recipes 
What to Serve at a Party? Easy Sweet Treats; Dessert Cheeseball Recipes; Key Lime, Turtle Cheesecake Ball Recipes and More  
Swedish Meatballs; Holiday Recipes and Perfect Party Fare
Easy Mushroom Puffs; Holiday Recipes and Perfect Party Fare
Scallop Ceviche; Holiday Recipes and Perfect Party Fare
Asian Chicken Won Ton Cups; Holiday Recipes and Perfect Party Fare 3 Thanksgiving Day Drink Recipes for Both Kids & Adults

Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes; 2 Savory Side Dishes; Bartlet Pear, Granny Smith Apple & Hazelnut Dressing, and Squash & Spinach O'Gratin

Country Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes ; Granny-Smith-Caramel-Apple & Pecan Bread Pudding & Cranberry and Walnut Cake with Maple-Bourbon Sauce

Thanksgiving Brunch Recipes: Layered Turkey Dinner Brunch Casserole, Spiced Orange Pound Cake French Toast with Maple Orange Sauce

More resources

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Watch your thoughts for they become words...

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipes; Side Dishes, Drinks and Desserts

More of my Thanksgiving Recipes:

Thanksgiving Day Drink Recipes for Both Kids & Adults; Super Cider, Pumpkin Smash Bombs, and Pumpkin Butterbeer (for the Kiddies)

Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes; 2 Savory Side Dishes Bartlet Pear, Granny Smith Apple & Hazelnut Dressing, and Squash & Spinach O'Gratin

Country Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes ; Granny-Smith-Caramel-Apple & Pecan Bread Pudding & Cranberry and Walnut Cake with Maple-Bourbon Sauce

Got Leftovers? Thanksgiving Brunch Recipes: Layered Turkey Dinner Brunch Casserole, Spiced Orange Pound Cake French Toast with Maple Orange Sauce

Got leftovers from Thanksgiving?

If you're tired, and full from all the Thanksgiving festivities, dreading cooking again, still left with a ton of food, and need to feed a big bunch a nice brunch, you've come to the right place. Don't sit around wondering what to do with all those yummy leftovers from that fabulous Thanksgiving dinner, try something different for brunch. These recipes will have everyone gobbling up those leftover goodies and at the same time make it easy on you.

Spiced Orange Pound Cake French Toast with Maple Orange Sauce Recipe:
Got pound cake leftovers too? We can fix that into a beautiful brunch dish in a snap!
This one is started the night before, as it needs to sit overnight, or at least 8 hours. So before you head to bed on Thanksgiving night, whip this simple dish up, and in the morning, just throw it in the oven for a bit. E-asy.

Read the rest of my article at:

Thanksgiving Brunch Recipes: Layered Turkey Dinner Brunch Casserole, Spiced Orange Pound Cake French Toast with Maple Orange Sauce

Friday, November 5, 2010

more AC articles from October 2010

here are a few of my October's articles from AC:

If you think eating (or drinking) vegan tastes terrible, or isn't for you, check out these recipes!
Anyone-using the internet mail such as Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, etc. should read this. Is the "here you have it" virus a hoax or not? Better to be safe then sorry.
Sometimes we are given an extraordinary glimpse of the Angels' light & love working miracles and healings in our lives. Here is one such miracle.
Get a countdown clock html generator code for your website or blog for any holiday, birthday, sports, pregnancy, vacation, wedding, graduation or anything you want to 'count down' to..all that and more.
Best of 2010 Halloween content on AC; from scariest movies to poetry, costumes, music and more! Plus a list of Halloween surveys that offer tons of great treats and prizes like free candy, gift cards, and much more.
Kanna or Sceletium Tortuosum is quickly becoming known as "The African Happy Plant" and has some miraculous qualities that will have everyone in the U.S. snatching it up quicker than the latest Twilight book.

My Recent Articles from Associated Content

Here's a few articles I've posted recently on Associated Content (AC)

Inside you'll find the best Top 10 Thanksgiving Day Music treats with the Best Thanksgiving CD's & songs of all time... and I'm not talking turkey!
Ever wonder which family movies made the most cash? Can you guess? You'll find a list of the top 50 grossing family movies in the USA. right here.
Find out how many votes your favorite "Made for TV mini-series" landed and where it stands on the popular list.
Apple facts, trivia, and local Yakima Valley Orchards, along with many types of apple varieties listed that are grown in Washington's Yakima Valley.
Wondering what to do with all that Thanksgiving dinner leftovers? These recipes will have everyone gobbling up those leftover goodies and at the same time make it easy on you.
Ahhhh...just like Grandma used to make. A country style Thanksgiving filled love, food and laughter. These recipes will delight and satisfy, while putting a perfect pucker on everyone's lips.
About Archangel Raphael, Essential Oils attuned to Archangel Raphael, Colors and Gemstones / Crystals associated with Archangel Raphael, and Prayer / Meditation asking for Archangel Raphael's assistance
These wonderful savory side dishes are perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner recipe box and may even become tradition.
Here are a few Thanksgiving day drink recipes and ideas from my family and friends to yours.

Playing Phone Tag

It's so funny, with all the technology we have these days, it seems, we still have a hard time getting in touch with people.

Today, I received a message from a Jenn Jordan who is working with Joan London on a "Spotlight Special" for Style Network says they're doing a piece called "The Organic Connection", and wanted to speak to me about it.

hmmm...sounds really interesting, so I immediately returned the call, only to leave a message for her. I can only imagine that she found my Yellowstar*Essentials website and wants to talk about that.
About 20 minutes later, (after getting to my phone too late again.,..((note to self..,,keep phone closer!)), I had to leave her another message and laughed..."phone tag, you're it!". 

I'll keep you posted :) LOL

..............update; January 2011

Ok, I'm an idiot.
At least that's what my better half told me. And my mother says I have to stop sabotaging myself.
So why would they say these things?
Well, it's a bit hard to explain, but I guess it's something I've always done....
I shy away from spotlights, stages and any kind of success, and always to my detriment.
I guess it's because I'm a big yellow chicken.

I told you I'd keep you updated on the Joan London-Style Network's "Organic Connection" talk with Jenn Jordan so I'm keeping my word.
We finally were able to connect and had a wonderful 20 minute conversation. I feel like I made a friend, but ended up turning down the offer and giving her other names of companies I thought were better suited to what they were looking for.
I'm just not a TV kind of least not in front of the camera kind of girl....
so needless to say, my family and friends think I'm crazy for turning them down.
At least I can say I was approached for something I should have had the guts to take on, but couldn't bring myself to accept.
I'm much better behind the scenes, off camera, and helping out than I am with any attention focused directly on me....
In any case, it felt good to be asked, but I'm happy in my own little bubble world.
No stress, no mess.
Thanks for the thoughts Jenn, you are a sweetheart, and I'll always remember your kind words.
Good luck with the show, I'll be watching from behind the scenes :)

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