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CIJ: Electronics July 28, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, Electronics, Gift Ideas, gifts, holidays, shopping.
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christmas-presentIf you have a gadget buff in your midst, then give them more gadges- electronics! With the Kindle (Amazon’s Original Wireless Reading Device), you can take eBooks that are downloaded onto your computer or bought at the Kindle Store and read them as you would a regular book, except it is almost like a tablet! I personally would love to have one, since I am an avid reader. Millions have already been sold and this should be a hot ticket this year for bookworms!

Of course, digitized photos are VERY hot right now. With new digital cameras coming out all the time, it’s hard to choose which one to get. I say get one that would be appropriate for the person’s age and experience with digital cameras. If they aren’t that experienced, the Nikon Coolpix 4100 would be a great simple camera for them to get their feet wet in digital photos. There are also digital photo frames. What you essentially do is plug the frame into your USB port, upload the photos to the frame, and set the frame anywhere in your home! It’s like have a regular frame except all your photos rotate so they have their own moments to shine. If you want to take it for on the go, there is always the Digital Photo Keychain from Overstock.com that can hold up to 60 color photos.

Then you have the newest phones, like the iPhone 3G, which seems to be the hottest phone around. Not only is it a phone, it has internet connection, applications, and tons of other things to do! But it can cost anywhere from $200-$600 so I would wait for sales before buying so you get more bang for your buck. BlackBerry is also becoming popular. Texting is a lot smoother than on regular cell phone and they have a lot of applications for you to choose from whether you like music or travelling. They pretty much have it all. BlackBerries usually range in the same price of the iPhone.

iPods aren’t as popular, but as soon as the iTouch http://www.apple.com/ipodtouch/ hit the shelves, the demand has been grand. It’s not like the iPhone where you can talk or text to each other. But it’s just the same! You can download your favorite music, movies, get online, and even get weather or stocks! These tend to be a little less expensive, starting at $190 for the cheap versions up to $400 for the official iTouch device. But don’t forget that you have the Zune Music Player, iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle, or the SanDisk Sansa.

If you’re man doesn’t know where to go and won’t stop to ask for directions, give them a GPS so you won’t nag them to stop and they won’t argue back that they “know” where they’re going. At GPSCity.com, they have hundreds of different kinds of GPS to choose from. According to BestBuy.com, they can range anywhere from $80 for the easy and simple to over $400 for the high-end GPS systems.

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CIJ: Pet Gift Ideas July 20, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Animals, Beds, Cat Furniture, cats, Christmas, Christmas in July, dogs, family, Gift Ideas, gifts, holidays, shopping.
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christmas-kitten-cat-756396Don’t forget our furry friends this Christmas! Our 3 cats and 1 dog are as much as a part of this family than anyone else and we have always given them some sort of gift (unwrapped, of course) so that they don’t feel left out at Christmas.

There are TONS of gifts that you can give your doggy or your kitty at Christmas! What my family always does, even if they receive something else, is get our fur babies treats. Since the Holidays are filled with sweets and pets can’t usually have them, we give them treats so that they don’t beg for that piece of chocolate. There are numerous treats out there pretty much everywhere so pick up a bag/can of your pet’s favorite treats for Christmas!

Toys are another great way to celebrate the Holidays with Fido or Fluffly. Smokie and Patches (Smokie is my cat and Patches is my Mom’s) enjoy catnip-filled mice and string while Princess (Manders’ kitty) enjoys the feather and fluffy toys. Zeus will play with practically anything but really loves to play tug-of-war. So depending on your pet’s favorite game(s), giet them a toy they will enjoy!

Even though Fido loves to sleep on your bed or Fluffy wants to sleep on your favorite couch, get them the gift that keeps on giving! Instead of losing your couch or bed to your pet, give them their own! At PetCo, they have all shapes and sizes to choose from. They even have dog couches and cat cradles for your loved one to sleep in on those extra cold nights. Fido will feel happy that he has his own bed that no one else can sleep on and Fluffy will be glad that she has her own quiet place!

If you have a friend that has pets and you want to give them something, give them the gift of a gift card. If something happens and they need to run to PetsMart or PetCo, they won’t have to worry if they have enough money to get what they need. Maybe they’re thinking of getting a pet and giving them the giftcard will make them feel more confident in their choice, since it won’t be for just a dog or for just a cat.

Every year at Christmas at Wal-Mart, they sell animal Christmas stockings that are filled with toys and treats. So take the guesswork out of wondering what your pet will enjoy and get them a Christmas stocking. They will be so excited, they’ll play with more than one of the toys included! I know we have given our pets a Christmas stocking for years and every year, they play with it like it will be their last! Sometimes they even play with it months after. I know Fido and Fluffy will enjoy it!

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CIJ: Christmas Food July 19, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in candy, chocolate, Christmas, Christmas in July, cookies, food, Gift Ideas, gifts.
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Food is always a large part of the Holidays, because it is synonymous with Christmas. There are tons of Christmas recipes at AllRecipes.com. They have some of the best recipes that even I would enjoy making. While it’s not widely popular, they have several recipes for different types of Christmas cake (actual cake).If you have difficulty making fudge at Christmas, they also have tips and tricks for making perfect fudge.  They also have a section for food gift recipes if you have a friend or family member who is an avid cook/baker!

Give the gift of fortune cookies! At Fancy Fortune Cookies, they have fortune cookies that you can customize anyway you want. You can customize the flavor, the fortune in the cookie, and even have it drizzeld in chocolate! If you want to send them a surprise, send them a giant fortune cookie! All Giant Fortune Cookies come dipped in chocolate with confetti and your customized fortune!  Read my review on Fancy Fortune Cookies.

If you want to send something that is homemade without actually having to cook it, Etsy is your best bet! When the Holidays get a little closer, all the bakers start churning out their best that include fudge, chocolate, cookies, and sugary creations! Some stores even offer gift certificates for their products so if you’re not sure if you recipient would like the chocolate fudge or the cupcakes, give them a gift certificate so they can choose their sugar snack!

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CIJ: For the Tool or Golfer in your life! July 18, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, family, Gift Ideas, gifts, Golf, holidays, Products, shopping, thoughts, Tools.
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While my father isn’t exactly Tim Taylor when it comes to tools and cars, he knows his way around a drill or a hammer. But I do know that there are a lot of guys out there that wish they could receive just that one new saber saw or that  Surveillance camera. Maybe he wants a rolling toolbox. Or maybe he just needs a new set of golf clubs.

Maybe your Husband or Dad is just like my Dad- is always losing a part of his tools! Well, with this Craftsman 204 pc. Mechanics Tool Set, he will promise that he will keep everything together. Wouldn’t you?

Sears Craftsman 204 pc. Mechanics Set-  $179.99

In case your man suffers from “more power” once in a while, get him the Craftsman C3 Compact Lithium 1/2 in. Reversible Drill/Driver BONUS C3 AM/FM/Weather Radio. As you can tell, it practically has everything he would want, including a radio! So he can pretty much drill to his heart’s content while listening to his favorite radio station.

Sears Craftsman C3 Compact Lithium 1/2 in. Reversible Drill/Driver BONUS C3 AM/FM/Weather Radio- $159.99

If he would rather be out on the range than in the garage or basement, Sears can help you out there as well. They have various loose clubs like the Dunlop DDH Knife Wedge which runs for about $17 per club at the moment. Now if you don’t want to spend $17 on one club, you could always get the Wilson Hope Golf Clubs, which is a whole set is sold at K-Mart and KMart.com.

K-Mart Wilson Hope Golf Clubs- $170

Not too sure if he’d like the set of golf clubs or the set of tools? Don’t forget about Lowe’s or Home Depot! I know those stores are huge and when it comes to Christmas gifts, your first thought isn’t either of those places but rather Sears or Academy Sports + Outdoors. So instead of traipsing around those big stores in search of the perfect gift, give me a gift card! Don’t worry whether he will think that “you don’t know him at all”. Trust me- men can be the hardest to shop for. They aren’t particular and that’s why it is makes it difficult. So make him go pick out his own gift with a gift card! You won’t see him for hours, which means more “you” time!

CIJ: Stocking Stuffers July 16, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Beauty, Candles, candy, chocolate, Christmas, Christmas in July, Gift Ideas, gifts, holidays, shopping.
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I love Stocking Stuffers. To me, they are always useful in one way or another. Even if it’s for entertainment, I consder it well worth the heavy stocking.

In fact, one thing I love to receive in my stocking in candy. Every Christmas, Mom puts chocolate  in our stocking, which makes a great breakfast. If someone is allergic to chocolate in your family or (yikes!) doesn’t like chocolate, put in some of their favorite candies in their stocking and a few in the others so that they don’t feel left out because they can’t have/don’t want chocolate.

Books and CDs are another wonderful stocking stuffer. As a bookworm and music lover, any books by my favorite author or CD by my favorite band are always welcome. Books are a great stocking stuffer for children who are learning to read, and music is a great item for those who have a deep love for music. Either way, books and CDs should always be on a stocking stuffer list.

Hair accessories and beauty products will always be a wonderful Christmas gift, whether it’s under the tree or in a stocking. Women already know what it feels like to receive those items at Christmas, because we are always looking for ways to make our hair look better or our skin. Some women might be offended if given beauty products they don’t use or hair accessories that they don’t enjoy, but a lot of women accept them with open arms. I personally love hair accessories, but not so much beauty products. So ask them if they enjoy beauty products or hair accessories before taking that plunge- you don’t want to upset a woman on Christmas!

Believe it or not, a TickleMe Plant is probably one of the COOLEST gifts ANYONE could receive! If you don’t know what a TickleMe Plant is, it is a plant that closes its fronds when you touch it. I  am not lying! Go to TicklMe Plant.com, look for the I Love My TickleMe Plant video and watch it. I love the TickleMe Plant and have always wanted on! At the website, you can actually get party favors so you can get one for each kid or even get a few for your friend’s kids! Pretty cool, huh?

Of course, we can’t forget the scratch-off lottery tickets and gift cards. I know I am hard to shop for, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I got a gift card every Christmas. And with the lottery tickets, it just makes it that much more fun scratching the stuff off and realizing you’ve won $10- on Christmas morning! True, you’ll have to wait until Dec. 26th or later that evening to cash it in, but hey, that’s $10 you didn’t have before!

Candles and Incense are another great stocking stuffer. No, this isn’t a way of telling your friend her house stinks. It is the gift of light and smell, even for those who have no sense of smell (Anosmia). Most candles these days are beautiful to look at and incense just brings a calming  sensation over the person(s) within 5 feet of the scent. There are TONS of places to buy candles and incense, especially on the web.

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CIJ: Christmas Decor July 7, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, Gift Ideas, gifts, holidays, shopping.
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2 comments

Another thing I love about Christmas is the decorating. I love decorating for Christmas because it just puts me in the Christmas mood. While I’m not one of these that leave Christmas decorations up all year long, I do enjoy the look of Christmas decor at Christmastime because I think it’s absolutely beautiful.

Aside from the normal Wal-Mart or Lowes for Christmas decorations, there is always the internet! Believe it or not, a lot of Christmas places are popping up, selling nothing but Christmas decorations! One of my favorite places to visit is Bronners, which is an actual store in Michigan. They have everything from trees to light displays to thousands of whimsical tree ornaments. They also have a few seasonal items including Halloween and Graduation gifts. You can request a catalog but I do warn you: you’re better off shopping online instead of their catalog because their catalog is mostly filled with ornaments.

A great place for Christmas decor HAS to be the Maine (pun not intended) store, 365 Days of Christmas. You have the choice of shopping by type (Disney, Bears, Angels, etc.) or shopping by category. They have TONS of decor to choose from. The Penguins~Penguins even have their own category! One thing they do not offer, which is sad for a collector like me, are nutcrackers. Bronners has a slew of nutcrackers to choose from. But Christmas 365 has TONS of other items.

AAAAArdQe9wAAAAAAJRPFgIf you are looking for pretty much anything for a good price, Christmasplace.com is the place to go. They have novelty items like the Texas Gnome Cheerleader, which only sells for about $15. Like the 2 previous places mentioned, this is also a real store that you can visit in Tennessee. They are also the only place that offers a reward program for every $250 you spend. Trust me, it would be super easy to do that! For more information on the Rewards Program, visit here.

Of course, we can’t forget about Amazon. They offer pretty much anything and everything you’d ever want for Christmas decorations and competitve prices. They also offeer items from Bronner’s so it’s easier to choose an item from Bronner’s.

So if you’re ever in the mood to do some early Christmas decor shopping, keep these places in mind because it’ll save you a lot of time!

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CIJ: Secrets At Christmas July 6, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, family, Feelings, Friends, Gift Ideas, gifts, holidays, Products, shopping, thoughts.
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santa-secretThanks to Sand Dune Publishing, secrets between others at Christmas is now a thing of the past! But telling those secrets won’t be broadcasted for the rest of the family to hear!

Between Me and You Journals are a great way to ask those burning questions you’ve been wanting to know but have been scared to ask! These keepsake journals to the people you care about most. Each hardcover, spiral-bound book contains 35 – 45 fun-to-ask and fun-to-answer questions. What happens is that you give the book is a loved one (Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, Friend, etc.). You tell them to answer the questions in the book HONESTLY, and hand it back to you. What you get back is their answer to those questions like “If you could relive one moment from our past, what would it be?”.

It makes a great gift for “gift swapping” since you will receive a book back once your recipient has answered their questions. It even has lined paper in the back for note-writing and for other stuff you don’t want others to see. Even if you don’t talk to your brother or favorite aunt very much, these journals will relight that fire and bring more interaction between the two of you. The books are divided into 6 chapters, each concerning a different phase of life or relationship. Asked in a comfortable, conversational tone and many times with a sense of humor, the questions are specific enough to elicit some wonderful personal information yet general enough so that anyone will find them relevant to his or her own relationship.

If a particular question or area doesn’t fit your relationship with the recipient, just tear out the pages! That way there are no awkward answers for the questions that have not relevance to your relationship. If you are a parent but your children are little, fill it out and give it to them when they are older so they don’t have to find a way to ask those questions children are nervous to ask their parents.

So if you’re wanting to find a way to ask those personal questions but you’re afraid to and it’s hard to shop for that person, why not give them a Between Me and You Journal from Sand Dune Publishing? And forget shipping! Enter the code “Texas Banter” to receive FREE SHIPPING!

CIJ: Gift Ideas for Kids/Teens July 4, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in children, Christmas, Christmas in July, family, Gift Ideas, gifts, holidays, Movies, music, shopping, Toys.
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Even with children, they seem to be the easiest to shop for. They can be picky, but they also enjoy unwrapping gifts and squealing with delight as they realized that they got something off their Christmas list (even if it isn’t the exact Barbie doll they wanted). I have realized through tons of TV watching and Christmas shopping, Moms and Dads are going towards educational and personalized gifts to give their children. At Happy Kids Personalized, there are a lot of items to choose from, including personalized music CDs, children’s books, and even personalized T-Shirts. With Hannah Montana and Jonas Brother items on the rise, there should be no surprise that their products will end up on Christmas lists all around the world.

While action figures and dolls are envitable as they are synonmous with Christmas gifts, give them the gift of creativity with arts and crafts. At Michael’s and Hobby Lobby, you can usually find craft kits that includes painting, art sand, and even mosiacs. Letting them use their creative noodle not only keeps them occupied, they’ll use that same creativity and imagination later in life. Trust me- I was big on crafts when I was younger.

I know it’s wishful thinking, but I was hoping vintage toys would make a comeback. I remember getting a Furby for Christmas and a LiteBrite one year. While they aren’t what they used to be, they still sell the Mousetrap game and Simon games at Toys R Us.

But if you’re having problems figuring out what to get your teenager, DVDs of their favorite TV shows/artists and electronics are the way to go. As I went into my teens years, it got harder for Mom to shop for Manders and I because we weren’t particular in what we wanted. We were going through that stage so we had made it difficult. iPods, iPod decks, and even Guitar Hero video games seem to be what is currently popular with this age. If you do decide to get them Guitar Hero or Rock Band, I can say that it will pay for itself. As your teen continues playing, they will continue to keep getting better at it and there are other versions of them to buy so they they never have to play the same song month after month after month. If they’re friends receive a Guitar Hero guitar in the same platform, they can play against each other to see who has the highest score! You can also get the a gift card to iTunes so they can download their favorite music to place on an iPod they already have.

I may not have children but I sure do speak from experience!

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CIJ: Gifts for One Who Has Everything July 3, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, Gift Ideas, gifts, holidays, shopping.
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2 comments

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If you’re anything like me, you have a few family members or friends that have pretty much everything so that when it comes time to shop for them, it can be rather difficult. You could give them gift cards to Wal-Mart or even Sears but that’s not so personable.

If you have a picture of you and your family that you want to give as a gift to your Mom but not sure how do that, go to Photofiddle.com and turn your snapshot into a work of art. You have over 12 designs to choosen from and over 15 categories to choose from. You can take that picture of your daughter with spaghetti all over her head and turn it into a Oil Panting. Prices range from $15 to over $2800 for a 280″ x 70″, depending on the type of product you get.

If they have many things around their home that is personalized, why not add it? Head over to PersonalCreations.com for the foie gras of personalized items. They have EVERYTHING from gifts for babies to even pet ornaments. Manders have used them before and she actually bought me a personalized sister mug and it was of great quality. They have a plethora of items to choose from and if you can’t find that personalized item that they’ll enjoy, you might be choosing the wrong gift because they have practically everything!

If that doesn’t help, try a magazine subscription to their favorite magazine. But only get it for one year. My aunt got me a magazine subscription to a magazine I wouldn’t even consider reading one year. I was thankful because I guess she didn’t know what I liked but she did it again last year, and every since then, the magazines have ended up in the trash or they were given to someone else. Be VERY careful on which magazine you sign them up for otherwise they won’t get read.

Don’t forget that hobbies go unnoticed at Christmas because everyone wants that hot new gadget instead of something they can actually use like a new snowboard or garden tool. It really depends on what their hobby is and how often they do activities related to it. Do some research to find out the best place to get the gift for their hobby.

Even though it isn’t a material gift, give them the gift of a Star! At the International Star Registry, you can actually name a star in their honor! When you name the star, your recipient receives a Star Naming Kit.

All kits include:

* A beautiful 16″ X 12″ full color parchment certificate personalized with the star name, date and coordinates.
* A Personalized 16″ X 12″ sky chart containing the star name, star date, the constellation and the location circled in red where the star is in the sky.
* A booklet on astronomy written by a professional astronomer with additional sky charts.
* A letter of congratulations/memorial for the recipient.

There is even Star Groups for couples, siblings, parents & kids who want their own 2 stars in space. Sounds pretty cool, huh?

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CIJ: Dali Decals Review & Giveaway- ENDED July 2, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, Gift Ideas, Giveaways, Product Reviews, Products, Reviews, Wall Stickers.
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127 comments

NOTE: IF YOU ARE HAVING TROUBLE GETTING THE DALI DECALS WEBSITE TO LOAD, FEEL FREE TO BOOKMARK THIS PAGE AND COME BACK AT A LATER TIME.

Thanks to our friends at Dali Decals, you have the chance to win!

dalidecalsWe couldn’t start Christmas in July without having something fun to do! So when I was able to review Dali Decals products, I was happy! I needed something to spruce up the dreaded white bedroom walls. I chose “Dare to be remarkable” simply because it fits how me and Manders are. The day it arrived, I really had nothing planned so I decided to immediately put it up. It was REALLY easy to take it off the backing. But because I didn’t get a squeegee, it was kind of difficult to put it on the wall. The letters kept sticking to what looked like masking tape. So I stood there, carefully peeling away the tape so that I wouldn’t rip a letter or only have 1/2 of the quote transferred. What looks so weird but yet cool is that the quote looks like someone wrote it with a Sharpie! Since Mom never let us write on walls, this worked out perfectly!

So why are Wall Stickers cool for Christmas? Because they do have Holiday decals for your walls/windows/mirrors this Holiday season and they make GREAT stocking stuffers! Granted they won’t fit in most stockings and wrapping might be a tad bit impossible, but you get the idea. Dali Decals is giving one (1) of my readers a $25 gift certificate to Dali Decals! How can you get in on the Christmas in July action?

Go to Dali Decals, come back and tell me what you would get with your $25 gift certificate!

THIS IS MANDATORY! “Enter me” or “Nice giveaway” does not constitute as an entry and will be removed. YOU MUST LEAVE A VALID E-MAIL TO ENTER! OPEN TO U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY.

Extra Entries (7): Leave a separate comment for each entry and/or link.

*Follow me on Twitter (Username- texasheartland.)
*Subscribe to Texas Banter Mailing List (via E-Mail, Google Reader, etc.)
*Tweet about this giveaway (profile link or status link- Enter the Christmas in July Giveaway @ Texas Banter! http://tinyurl.com/mv63wg @texasheartland)
*Follow Manders on Twitter (Username- confettidreams.)
*Add my Texas Banter Button
*Blog about this giveaway
*Add the Christmas in July button

The giveaway starts on Tuesday, July 2st upon going “live” and will end on Tuesday, July 9th at 11:59PM CST. Entries submitted after that time are voided and are not counted.

Winners have 48 hours to respond to the winning notification. If the winner(s) have not responded within the 48 hours, a new winner(s) will be chosen.

All winners chosen via Random.org.

Christmas in July July 1, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, family, Feelings, Gift Ideas, gifts, holidays, Ideas, life, Product Reviews, Reviews, santa, shopping, thoughts.
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3 comments

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Welcome to the first day of the “Christmas in July” event!

We have a whole month stocked full of early Christmas ideas so you can maybe start getting together your Christmas wishlist, maybe some early shopping ideas, Christmas memories, and ways to decorate for Christmas!

We will also have product reviews AND giveaways! All product reviews and giveaways tied in with “Christmas in July” with have a “CIJ” before the title so you know what to look for. All posts will be listed under “CIJ” on the top just in case you missed it!

Tomorrow, Texas Banter will be holding it’s first “Christmas in July” giveaway and it will be for Dali Decals. So if you are wanting to spruce up your home with some inspirational words or even just a bird (which they have!), don’t forget to enter! It also makes a lovely gift, which you will see in upcoming posts.

Ya know, Christmas is one of my favorite Holidays. While it isn’t my favorite (that title goes to Halloween), it certainly is my next favorite. The cold air just lets know that it is Christmas. I loveseeing the Christmas lights glowing on the outside of homes and the elaborate displays they create. The wrapping paper sparking underneath the Christmas tree. The slow and relaxing sounds of Christmas songs. And spending time with the ones you love.

While we tend to have mild Winters here in Texas, there is no doubt that the cold air that enters your nose as your breath reminds you that Christmas is finally here.

And since the temperature is easily reaching 100* or more, why not cool off your mind with a little Christmas in July?