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CIJ: Favorite Songs July 31, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in blogs, Christmas, Christmas in July, family, Feelings, fun, holidays, life, music, Siblings, sisters, thoughts, twins.
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Thanks to Confetti Dreams, I thought I would end Christmas In July here at Texas Banter with some of my favorite songs. I know it seems like I am copying her, but c’mon! She’s my twin! She has some of the best ideas!

But it was VERY hard to choose my Top 10 all-time favorite Christmas songs. It’s like asking someone who loves chocolate to choose their favorite piece. It’s impossible! But here goes:

10. The Christmas Song by Luther Vandross – I consider Luther Vandross a legend when it comes to love songs. While “The Christmas Song” isn’t exactly a love song, it can sure turn into one. When I hear him sing it, I just want to sit by a fire with someone and cuddle. It’s always been a favorite of mine, even if it isn’t sung by Vandross. But his rendition will always remain a favorite of mine.

9. Christmas Cookies by George Strait – I am not afraid to say that I listen to country, especially George Strait. We own every Christmas album George has put out and know every song by heart. While “Frosty the Snowman”  and “All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth” are so greatly sung by this King of Country, I prefer “Christmas Cookies”. It’s hilarious and you can just feel the Christmas magic when you hear it. Sure he doesn’t talk about Christmas trees or decorations and it’s more about cookies, you know it’s Christmas.

8. Let It Snow ’98 by Brian McKnight – I absolutely love Brian McKnight. When he sings Christmas songs, you get the feeling of Christmas. It just feels a lot more like Christmas when you hear him crooning out songs that are filled with magic. And considering he sings it with Boyz II Men just makes it that much more wonderful!

7. O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night by Trans-Siberian OrchestraYou’re probably wondering why I didn’t choose “Wizards in Winter” from Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Well, it’s widely used and not a lot of people know about their other works, which are amazing. I have this CD and I have loved it ever since. I wish I could see them live.

6. Believe by Josh Groban – This is from “The Polar Express”, which is an amazing movie. But this song is so powerful and you can just feel what Groban is feeling. This song gives me chills every time I hear it. It will forever remain a favorite and one that I will play for years to come.

5. Heavy Metal Christmas (The Twelve Days of Christmas) by Twisted Sister -I am a metalhead through and through. But because I enjoy all kinds of music, this ranks #5 on my list. I love Twisted Sister’s Christmas album “Twisted Christmas” because its Christmas and it’s metal, what more could ya ask for? But this song is somewhat humorous. Instead of 5 golden rings and and 2 turtle doves, Twisted Sister gets 5 skull earrings and 2 pairs of spandex pants. It’s heavy metal the magic of Christmas! Oh yea!

4. This Christmas by Jagged Edge – Now you should already know that Jagged Edge would have been on the list somewhere. This isn’t the song you hear from Elliot Yamin or Chris Brown. This has different lyrics and a different feel, but one that I enjoy so much. Their harmony just brings out the song that no one can compete with. Once I play it on my iPod this Holiday season, there it will stay!

3. Here Comes Santa Claus by Gene Autry – Manders forgot about this one! It’s a classic and I love classics! I remember when I was little and our parents had an old record player and old Christmas records. Every time Christmas came, we would put that album on and turn it to this song because we just loved it. In 1946, he wrote the song because of a Christmas Parade in Los Angeles. Pretty cool, huh?

2. Winter Wonderland by George Strait – You can’t deny that George Strait is great! I love this song, especially when George sings it! He brings a fun vibe and it just feels like Christmas! I’m surprised Sissy forgot to add it to her list! But then again, she wouldn’t have to. She could just add every single Christmas album by the King of Country!

1.  Here We Come A-Wassailing – So many people sing this but I still love it! It’s a fun song and so much fun to sing! It’s joyful and so cheerful, that you can’t help but feel happiness when you sing it with friends. No one knows exactly when it was written or it’s exact origin, but to know that it is still sung through the centuries just to show that it’s such a great song!

I appreciate everyone joining all of us for our first Christmas in July event! It was so much fun that we have decided to do more events! We will have a Halloween event starting the first week of October, maybe a Thanksgiving event, but definitely Christmas will be our 3rd major event (considering Manders and I love Halloween and we plan to make it a major event as well). We hope you enjoyed everything and our memories!

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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: 5 Months July 25, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, family, Feelings, holidays, life, thoughts.
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In 5 months to the day, it will be Christmas Day. Families around the US (since International countries celebrate it hours before we do) will be waking up early to see what Santa had brought them. Children will feverishly rip at the wrapping to get the toy that’s underneath. Parents will be sitting on the sofa, drinking their coffee, in hopes that the children liked what Santa had given them. “A Christmas Story” is playing on the television for the 900th time.

I enjoy Christmas morning. Texas usually doesn’t get a “white” Christmas but it’s chilly. But it’s fun to pad into the living room with socks on my feet, Manders behind me, and presents under the tree. We are usually not awake enough to play Santa so Mom and Dad are volunteered. We unwrap one gift at a time so that each person have their moment to see what they had gotten and show everyone.

I look forward to Christmas EVERY year. There is just a magic about it that seeps into my body and chills me to the very bone. The pretty lights, the soothing music, the Christmas carols playing on every station, and seeing the Holiday movies. Being with my family as we drive mindlessly around town, looking at all the Christmas displays on the houses and coming up with ideas on how we can make out Christmas display look even more fantastic! We take turns asking to put this CD in the CD player or turning the station to something that fits the mood.

I like Christmas.

CIJ: OrnamentsWithLove.com Review July 24, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas decor, Christmas in July, Feelings, holidays, Home Decor, Product Reviews, Products, Reviews, thoughts.
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If you’re anything like me, you get tired of the generic ornaments on your tree everything Christmas rolls around. You want to add a little flair and personality to your ornaments, but you’re not exactly sure how. Did you know that you can have your own personalized set of ornaments just for $10 or more per ornament? Most places would charge you anywhere from $15 to even $90 just for a personalized ornament! But not OrnamentsWithLove.com!

OrnamentsWithLove.com offers over 700 personalized ornaments and a variety of photo frames and table decorations. Most of their ornaments are handmade from artists and companies all around the United States. Many of the ornaments are made from bread dough here in the United States. Others are made of wood, resin, polymer clay or clay dough. If you are looking for a specific ornament (i.e. a horse or a panda), then they have a lot to choose from. Unless specified, all ornaments come with personalization that you do right at ornament’s page. So let’s say you want to order the Cat – Grey Tabby Personalized Christmas Ornament. When you visit the page, all you have to do is type in the name you want for the ornament, the year, the quantity, and just press “Add to Cart!”. It’s very simple!

I love personalized items, especially at Christmas since it makes it so special for that person receiving the gift. I personally love the Twin category of the ornaments for obvious reasons!  I have no idea which one to choose! At first I thought Bronner’s had the best ornament selection but because OrnamentsWithLove.com has more handmade and personable ornaments that are just too cute for words, I think I may have to take that one back. OrnamentsWithLove.com has been in the retail gifts business for over 50 years! But in just the last 10 years, they have made it a priority to take what they know and apply it to personalized Christmas ornaments!

So if you’re looking for a few places for personalized ornaments but don’t want to spend a ton of money, I promise that you won’t have. They even have a category for items under $10 so if you’re trying to save money this Christmas but still want to show that special someone you care, you won’t want to miss it!

CIJ: Fave Tradition July 24, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, family, Feelings, holidays, life, Siblings, sisters, Texas, twins.
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Everybody has to have a favorite Christmas tradition. I know I sure as hell do. Well, actually, it’s more like several. One tradition is Manders and I decorating the outside of the house every single year. If you’ve heard that song “12 Pains of Christmas” and that guy is getting mad because the outside lights aren’t going as planned? That’s us. We won’t want them to blink and they’ll blink. Or putting them above the porch only to find there aren’t enough nails. But we are proud of ourselves, even if did spend almost 3 hours outside trying to figure it out. Even when Manders and I move to college, we’ll still do that every year because it’s tradition.

Another one of my favorite Christmas traditions is going to Nature in Lights, which is a  drive through over five miles of holiday- inspired scenes. We do it almost every other year and it is so much fun! It’s at the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area, which is usually cut off to civilians since it is on Fort Hood but the open it during Christmas so that they can see Nature in Lights. In fact, we went last year and took tons of pictures, which I turned into a slideshow. Feel free to view it and bask in the wonderfulness that is Christmas! We try to go a little before or a week before Christmas. It just doesn’t have that Christmas feeling if you go afterward. But it always gets us looking forward to Christmas because it’s crisp, we listen to the Christmas music they play, and we all wear our Santa hats.

We also have smaller traditions but we don’t usually do them every year. It really depends on how tall our Christmas tree will be that year, or how we’re feeling, or just the general overall feeling of Christmas. Sometimes the feeling of Christmas isn’t what it should be so we wait for next year on the traditions. But those traditions span from pictures in front of the Christmas tree, goofy Christmas pictures, or candid pictures while someone is dancing to a Christmas song.

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CIJ: Christmas Parties July 23, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, Crafts, holidays, Party.
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Christmas parties happen ALL over the US and other areas because it is tradition. But sometimes people become frazzled because they don’t know where to start, what to serve, or even how to send out the invitations!

Centrinet says that you shouldn’t focus your energy solely on the buffet because it will become predictable and attendence will drop off. Instead, offer food like you didn’t work yourself up into a frenzy like cheese and meat squares and a few alcoholic beverages. This site also has other ideas to make your party less boring and more Christmasy!

Celebration.com says bring your guests together this Christmas with a Christmas Tree Trimming party! It spells out tradition for a lot of folks and will bring up great memories that they will be able to share with you or other guests. Maybe they didn’t have an angel on the tree. Instead they had a star. Show them you love traditions as much as you do with a Tree Trimming Party. Or better yet, a Christmas Caroling Party! While that hardly happens, it still looking like fun!

If children are expected at the party, sit them down with Christmas crafts or games they can play with an adult supervisor or each other. Not only will it keep them occupied, they will feel as if they’re celebrating the Holidays with friends. If your children feel a little left out because you’re preparing for the party, let them help out a little by setting the buffet table or pouring the non-alcoholc drinks into cups. For more kid-friendly party ideas, check out FamilyFun. If you need ideas for Christmas crafts for the children or supplies, visit Oriental Trading’s Craft section.

Invitations can be the hardest to send because sometimes people don’t check their e-mails, don’t return phone calls, or misplace paper invitations so they have no idea where to go! Why not give them an eye-popping invitation they can’t miss? At InvitationBox, they have quite a few designs to choose from though they are a little pricey. TinyPrint doesn’t have that many Christmas invitations to choose from but they are definitely cute!

If need more party ideas, visit Party411 for party ideas to make your party tops!

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CIJ: Frugal Christmas Decorating July 21, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas decor, Christmas in July, DIY, holidays, Horror Movies.
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Xmasgiftcheap-main_FullOur family doesn’t do any major Christmas decor shopping. We simply cannot afford the huge Christmas tree or the collection of snowglobes. So we’ll decorate on a smaller scale while still buying Christmas decor to replace what was lost during the Summer.

If you’re not sure how to make those Dollar Store decorations work without looking like they were bought at the Dollar Store, there are numerous ways to make it look like you’ve spent a fortune without really having to do so! eHow tells you that if you mix a teaspoon of liquid dish soap with any metallic acrylic paint (craft paint), you can create your own snow color. Then, sponge paint pretty snowflakes on your windows for a shiny, old-fashioned holiday effect. You can also wrap empty boxes with colorful Christmas paper and stack them all decoratively in a hallway or living area. While the kids might think they are presents for them, explain that they may or may not be. The element of surprise!

You can also use nature to decorate. Spray paint pine cones whites for Holiday candle votives. You can use holy/evergreen branches to create wreaths, line a basket, or a hanging bouqet of evergreen branches. The children can help by sprinkling glitter while the paint is drying on the pine cones or even help gather the branches.

What my family does, to create an eye-popping door that reflects the outside Christmas decorations, we take metallic wrapping paper and tape it to the front door. We then take some ribbon and wrap it like it was a gift. We sometimes top it off with the inevitable velvet bow and sometimes we don’t. At About.com, you can use swag or even wreaths for a classic look. There are also tons of ideas for easy and frugal Christmas decorating!

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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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Christmas in July: Favorite Movies July 19, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, Feelings, holidays, Movies, thoughts.
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Note: Due to the videos, it may take a few moments to load. Please be patient.

Everyone has their favorite Holiday movie they enjoy watching year after year. Everytime Christmas rolls around, they are excited that they will once again see a movie they love for what seems forever. In fact, there are some Holiday movies that I don’t even put in storage after the Holidays are over with. When a Texas Summer can easily reach over 100* for days (or even weeks) on end, you do what you can to stay cool, even if it’s just wishing for snow. So what do I watch year-around, especially at the Holidays?

Even though they don’t play it on television anymore, I still enjoy National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation because in some way, I can relate to them.

I am so glad they play this at Halloween and again at Christmas. It has become one of my favorite movies. It was this movie that I deemed Tim Burton to be a genius.

This HAS GOT TO BE one of my most favorite Holiday movies of all time. I remember watching it as a kid and just wishing for a White Christmas. That’s when I feel in love with Bing Crosby.

This is such a funny movie, yet heart-warming. The first time I saw this was actually when Mom bought it for all of us to watch when it came out. I still watch it during the year, even when it isn’t Christmas.

I love watching this every chance I get. I watched this when I was just a tot and fell in love with the whole claymation idea!

I love Garfield, need I say more?

 

Do you have a favorite Holiday movie?

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!

Christmas in July: Dear Santa July 17, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in alpha inventions, Animals, Books, cats, Christmas, Christmas in July, dogs, family, Feelings, funny, holidays, life, Pets, random, Siblings, sisters, thoughts, twins.
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Note: I took the idea from Manders (aka Confetti Dreams).

 

Dear Santa:

It’s July. It’s hot, muggy, and no rain. I’m tired of it and wishing Fall would get here soon. So what does this have to do with you?

Everything! You grace us with your presence every year at Christmas, and getting through Fall just means you’ll visit us once again. But I must remind you: The cats are still sort of afraid of strangers. They are attached to their owners and don’t want attention from anyone unless he or she is part of the family. Of course, that doesn’t include that dog. They hate him. But then again, he loves to chase them. Speaking of the dog, he won’t bite. I promise that. His bark is a lot louder than his bite. Milk and Cookies are in the fridge. Pup likes cookies and kitties like milk. For the reindeer, since it’s going to be a long night, there is some soda in the fridge as well. They could probably use the caffeine.

So what do I want this year? Not much, really. Like my other half, a laptop would be REALLY nice. Then Mom wouldn’t get tired of hearing us argue about who has been on the longest or asking “When am I getting on?”. We wouldn’t have to argue either. True, sisters (especially twins) argue over inanimate objects like computers but after a while, it gets boring. We need something new to argue over! I’m pretty sure if I said more books or a nutcracker (which is on my “just-in-case” list), we wouldn’t have to argue over that and Christmas would end up boring. But of course I’ll take practically anything dealing with books, movies, music (heavy metal or Jagged Ege please), or nutcrackers.

Manders will take George Strait or Kahn (from Kamelot) under the tree this year. Forget any CDs or DVDs by these men. She’ll just take them as they are- in the flesh. She wants them only for a month, but I know her too well and she secretly wants them for more than a month. Please leave a note on how long she can keep them. Oh and if they come with any accessories (guitars, ya know), leave those as well. Mom could probably use a vacation. As far as where, that’s a conundrum. I have no clue! You’re better off asking her. I don’t know what you could get Daddy. You might want to ask him too.

Oh and if it isn’t too much trouble, please make sure that all pets are in the house. Smokie likes to escape. Give the Mrs my best.

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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Christmas in July: Toy Memory July 15, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, family, Feelings, gifts, holidays, life, memories, Siblings, sisters, thoughts, Toys.
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For some odd reason, I have the gift of remembering things that have no relevance to the “now”. I can remember things from 2nd grade all the way up to certain seconds in my life in high school. But as we celebrate Christmas in July, I am reminded of a special toy that Manders and I once received when we were about 5 years old.

It was nearing Christmas and we were walking through the mall after seeing Santa. The mall wasn’t as bad as it is now, so it was fairly easy to just take a detour through Sears and create a wishlist in your mind. That is, until we came upon the motherload. It was a Disney castle. The most perfect castle we had ever seen and it was beautiful! We thought it was huge, but we’re only 5. We begged and begged Mom and Dad for it. Of course, we had just had our birthday so we already had presents at home to play with but we wanted that castle so badly! But Mom and Dad said that it was too expensive, we couldn’t get it this year. I can’t remember if we cried or if we just stormed out because we were upset.

Christmas Eve came and we just knew we weren’t going to get the castle. At 5 years old, you know these things. We went over to our Aunt’s house that evening for the annual Christmas get-together. We came home, and looked for Santa on the radar. The minute we saw that he was getting close, we hurried up the stairs to bed. We couldn’t wait for Christmas morning to arrive.

Manders and I woke up on Christmas morning and tiptoed to Mom and Dad’s bedroom. We went inside and asked them if we could open presents. When they said we could, we raced down the steps, looked at the bottom of the Christmas tree. Jiminey Cricket, our castle! There it was in all its glory- Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and even Pluto! It had a car so you could drive Pluto into the carport. It opened so you could place Minnie in the bedroom. We played with it for days on end. I found out as soon as I got older that they had already bought it for us before we even saw it but couldn’t tell us.

I tried to Google it and spent almost an hour looking for it, but thus, I didn’t succeed. I can’t seem to find the childhood toy I remember so vividly!

CIJ: Creating a Christmas Wishlist July 12, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, family, Friends, holidays, life, shopping.
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Santa and His Wish List

It happens every year, even before it can become summer- everyone starts coming up with a Christmas wishlist. That new phone comes out and everyone wants it. That new video game system comes out and everyone wants one. That new DVD comes out and they want to be surprised with it at Christmas. Well, help your friends and family take out the guesswork of figuring out what you would like for Christmas!

At Amazon, you can create your own wishlist with whatever you find you want on Amazon and even send it to all your friends and family. Nothing is limited to your wishlist. And you can even put how many you want of a certain item, how many you’ve received of that item, and that priority of it. So let’s say you put a Kurt Adler Irish Large Nutcracker (that’s in my wishlist). They go for about $30 and you want 2 for whatever reason. Under Desired, you put a 2. If you’ve received 1 a few weeks after, put a 1 under Received. You have a choice of Highest, High, Medium, Low, and Lowest for Priority so choose wisely!

If the item you want isn’t at Amazon, but another website or store, go to Christmas Wishlist and register. This is quite simple because all you have to do is add a short description, a longer one (if you choose), the optional URL and the “Rank by Importance”. Like the Amazon Wishlist, you can e-mail to all your family and friends. You can also invite others to join you in the search for that perfect gift.

Wal-Mart and Target both have Wishlists, though I haven’t used them. Hot Topic and other stores also have a wishlist, but Hot Topic changes their inventory on their website so often that what you want could possibly be sold out by tomorrow. If you are interested in see if Macy’s has a wishlist, Google “Macy’s Wishlist”.

Wishlisttr is another great place to hold your Christmas wishlist, as well as a Birthday wishlist or even your anniversary wishlist. You can give it any title you want. It’s pretty simple. All you have to do name your wish, give the link URL, and a short description of what exactly it is you want, though the description is optional. Dream of This Wishlists will seem a little more complicated at first but they give you so many choices, especially Item Category and Price so you can tell your family and friends exactly how much it costs so there aren’t any surprises. You can move and item from list to list, you can send it to everyone, and they even have a page for Gift Ideas. Though it is based in the UK and they offer Pounds for a price, it looks like a good place to put a wishlist of any kind.

But I still prefer the Amazon Wishlist.

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CIJ: Shopping Memory July 9, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, family, holidays, life, shopping, thoughts.
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I love Christmas shopping. Just the idea that I am buying for someone else and they have no idea just makes me want to shop even more! But a while back, I had developed the habit of not getting my Christmas shopping done early enough to beat the people who shop a week before Christmas Eve. I am one of those persons that shop a week before Christmas Eve. What is funny is that I can get done with birthday shopping for Manders relatively early. In fact, I already have her gift! I already know what I’m getting her for Christmas so it would seem plausible to go ahead and get it, right?

Wrong. If I get it now, I would be so tempted to give it to her and I’d rather see her surprise on Christmas morning!

But let’s go back a couple of years. Oh, I’d say about 4. Manders and Mom might remember this.It was about a week before Christmas. I was working at a church daycare and I had just finished picking up my check. I went to the bank to cash it. As soon as I had come out of the bank, a brilliant idea caught me- Christmas shopping! So I called Manders and Mom to tell them my brilliant idea. I knew of only one place I could get everything- Wal-Mart! Now I realize that was a stupid idea on my part but I hadn’t taken into consideration how extremely busy it would be. I was just excited to be shopping on my own.

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So I drive around the Wal-Mart parking lot. I should have realized that it would have been impossible to find a close parking spot at Wal-Mart one week before Christmas. But I didn’t realize  I would have to walk half a mile just to get into the store. Now that was a different story. It was EXTREMELY busy and you always had the chance of bumping into someone with your basket. To make matters worse, my family back then was the hardest people to shop for. They aren’t particular in what they get so I ended up getting Manders a Family Guy DVD (because she loved Family Guy) and I got Dad an electric razor. I didn’t get Mom anything because I didn’t see anything she’d like!

So later that night, Manders and I went to ROSS where we found this floating candle stand that was so beautiful. That was also the night I found my first nutcracker that would, hopefully, someday become a menagerie of nutcrackers.

I hate shopping so close to Christmas.

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