Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Low Cost Gifts for Mom on Mothers Day

By: Nicola Kennedy

You don't have a lot of money to spend this year for her, but you want something special for your mom. Here are some ideas that will take little or nothing to get or make.

A photo album is always nice to have around the house. So if you have many photos that have never made into an album, here is your chance to do something very special and it won't cost but a few dollars to do.

Go to your local thrift store and look for some old binders and some nice fabric, if you don't have any at home. Then all you need is some pages that you can put your photos on. Decorate the binder for Mother's Day and decorate the pages with the pictures on them with captions, buttons, lace, and charms, sort of like a scrapbook. This way the picture get put into an album and you make a inexpensive Mother's Day gift for your mom.

Here are some silly but lovable and low cost gifts for mom, that are both meant to be funny or personal or both. She would treasure them for ever.

If she is a coffee or tea drinker then a Paint Your Own Mug would an excellent choice, with a painting done in your very hand, every time she takes a drink she will remember the time and love put into this wonderful gift, she would be the envy of all her friends.

Now with this handy kit, she can be paid for being a football widow. As referee, she is in charge! Getting ignored? Yellow Card! Got his mates over again? Red Card! Each card carries a penalty for the family from simply doing the laundry to taking her on a holiday - let the punishment fit the crime....

Mom is afraid of spiders and other bugs? The Spider Catcher is an innovative new product which uses two sets bristles to gently catch the spider, carefully trapping it until you release it outside.

With a trigger at one end and the bristles at the other, there is no need for Mom to spend nights on the couch because a spider has decided to move into the bedroom!

Author Bio

Nicola Kennedy has enjoyed some great Mother's Days, both as a grateful mom and a loving daughter. She can help you find great Mother's Day gifts with tips and news, information and views at

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Yummy Yuletide Recipes You Will Love

Of all the traditions you'll embrace this Christmas season, few are as resplendent and revered as a bounteous holiday feast. A table full of family and friends with cups that runneth over truly brings joy to the occasion. Here are a handful of recipes to help with your holiday dinner preparations.

We're not chefs and space constraints do not allow us to plan your entire meal, but the recipes here are easy, time tested and will make a nice addition to the other dishes you plan to produce.

Whether you opt for ham, turkey or roast beef as your meat of choice, you won't go wrong with a side of garlic-cheese mashed potatoes. Give this recipe a whirl:

Cheesy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced

8 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed

9 tablespoons butter, softened

3/4 cup half and half

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 cup Romano cheese, shredded

Salt and pepper, to taste

Halve potatoes and boil until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and set aside. Melt butter in pan. In separate pan, bring half and half to boil and remove immediately when it begins to boil. Mash the potatoes. Beat in butter first, then half and half. Add mashed garlic and cheeses, then mix to melt cheeses. Season with salt and pepper and continue to mix until potatoes are smooth.

While you are cooking and the children are playing, you'll need a soothing drink to keep your heart warm and your spirits lively. Apple cider is perfect for this.

Hot Apple Cider

1 gallon apple cider (apple juice will work)

4 cinnamon sticks

4 whole cloves

4 allspice berries

1 orange peel, cut into strips

1 lemon peel, cut into strips

Pour cider into a large stainless steel pot. Place spices and peels into a cheesecloth. Drop cheesecloth into cider. Heat until the cider comes just short of boiling.

Remove cheesecloth and keep cider on the stovetop, over low heat. Serve warm throughout the day.

If you seek to serve a traditional feast, chances are cranberry sauce will find its way to your table. Sure, you can buy a canned sauce. No harm, no foul. If you'd prefer to make your own the day before the meal, however, here's how:

Cranberry Sauce

4 cups fresh cranberries

1 cup apple juice

1 cup honey

1 orange rind, grated

Mix cranberries, juice and honey in a pot. Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes, until cranberries pop. Remove from heat and stir in orange rind. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

Lastly, it isn't a proper Christmas meal if you aren't breaking homemade bread. Try these yummy yeast rolls. It's a batter bread recipe, which is relatively quick and easy for beginning bakers!

Yeast Rolls

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup warm water

2 packages instant dry yeast

1 egg

3 1/2 cups flour

Heat milk, then stir in sugar, salt and butter. Set aside and let cool. Add warm water to large bowl, then add yeast. Stir until dissolved. Add milk mixture, egg and two cups flour to the water/yeast mixture. Beat until smooth and then add remaining flour to make a soft dough. Transfer to a greased baking tray, cover with clean towel and let rise for 30 minutes. The dough will nearly double in size. After 30 minutes, punch down dough and shape into rolls. Place them back into greased baking tray and bake in preheated, 400 F oven until done (10 to 12 minutes).

Author Bio

Jeremy White, a writer for Imaginary Greetings, Inc. (, is a regular contributing author specializing in features, sports, business and food writing, and frequently contributes to a variety of print and online publications. To make your holiday display magical, visit

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Family Christmas After Divorce

The popular saying goes like this: "Breaking up is hard to do." Yet, when it comes to marriage in the U.S., a large percentage of us do it. Divorce, however unpleasant, is commonplace in today's society, and dealing with it during the holidays is a fact of life with which adults and children alike must deal.

A divorce - especially a fresh one - can be particularly trying during the holidays. The Yuletide season is one of giving and family, and the dissonance of a divorce can greatly threaten the joy of the season. The challenge to adults is to keep Christmas spirits high for the children. Just because a relationship has been ruined doesn't mean a child's Christmas has to be ruined as well. Here are some tips for making sure that doesn't happen this holiday season.

Put Your Kids First - Christmas is a selfless season. It's a time when we focus on charity. Keep it that way. Think not of yourself or how to "one-up" your ex-spouse. Instead, focus on the needs of your kids. Ask yourself what you can do to ensure the holidays are happy and productive for them. Then do it.

Buy Your Ex a Gift - As much as kids love getting gifts, they also want to be part of the giving. They revel in the opportunity to give both mommy and daddy a gift or two, and it's up to you to help make that possible. Your little one has no money and no transportation, so the only way they're getting your spouse a gift is if you suck it up and take them Christmas shopping. Don't be the parent that's too proud to buy your ex a gift. It's the child you'll end up hurting anyway.

Don't Hog the Kids - There may be a custodial agreement in place where the kids spend Christmas with mommy one year and then with daddy the next. Everyone loses when that happens. Unless mommy and daddy live too far apart, there is no reason the kids can't see both. Perhaps they spend the majority of Christmas Eve at one place, then move to the other to spend the night and wake up on Christmas morning. Next year reverse roles so that both parents have the opportunity to watch the little ones wake up on Christmas morning and see what Santa left them. See what you can work out with your spouse. Remember, do what's in the best interest of the child.

Don't Take the Phone Off the Hook - When it isn't possible for one parent to see the children on Christmas for whatever reason, don't shut them out completely. Let the kids call them to say "Merry Christmas."

Old Habits Die Hard - Since Christmas is about family traditions, a divorce naturally fractures those traditions. That's especially hard on the kids. When it's possible to maintain an old tradition, such as helping mommy make cookies or helping daddy select a tree, do so. When it's not, start new traditions with your kids. They need them.

Don't Bad-Mouth Your Ex - If you need to complain about your ex, do so to your adult friends - and don't do it in the presence of your children. No matter how you feel about your ex, your children still love them and look up to them. Don't hurt your kids by badmouthing their mommy or daddy.

Author Bio

Jeremy White, a writer for Imaginary Greetings, Inc., is a regular contributing author specializing in features, sports, business and food writing, and frequently contributes to a variety of print and online publications. For additional tips on how to truly light up your child's eyes this holiday season like never before visit

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Gifts that Never Go Out of Style

The holiday season is a time for giving. When most of us think of giving, we think of gifts. The mere thought of tackling that Christmas list can be daunting. Maybe there isn't enough money to buy the gifts you'd like to give. Or perhaps you have a few of those "hard to buy for" people who have everything. So you put on your Betty Crocker hat and spend hours in the kitchen making cookies, sweet breads, and fudge to give as gifts. You make homemade ornaments and other Christmas crafts, or you buy another pair of socks and another boring tie.

I'm going to ask you to think a little less traditionally about gift giving, and consider giving of yourself this holiday season. I've been reading Rick Warren's new book "God's Power to Change Your Life". In his book, he discusses a well known topic - the fruits of the spirit. I got to thinking about how wonderful it would be to make a conscious effort to give one or all of these nine gifts. These gifts can be given to anyone and everyone, they cost you nothing but your heart, and they never go out of style.


What is love? So many people think of love as a strong feeling we have. We love our kids, our spouse, and our friends, especially when they are nice to us. But do we love people when they are unlovable, or do we love people who have hurt us deeply? Love is a matter of choice, and love is an action, not a feeling. How can we stretch ourselves and offer love in the most difficult situations? Give the gift of forgiveness to someone you've been holding a grudge against. Think loving thoughts of people when they are really aggravating you. Act lovingly to someone you do not like, and pray for people that mistreat you.


The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, but yet many of us don't feel it. We equate joy with happiness, but the two are not the same. Your happiness depends on your circumstances - whether you're having a good day or bad day. Joy, on the other hand, is an attitude we can choose to have. Regardless of our situation, we can choose to be joyful. Consider changing your perspective and chucking self-pity. Focus on God's love and His plans for you, which are always good, even when you have to walk through the valley first. Give the gift of gratitude, cheerful giving, and service. Everyone loves to be appreciated and served with a smile.


Most of the time, the holidays are anything but peaceful. The stress that often comes with holidays makes for a chaotic time. So how can you offer peace to the people around you when they most need it? Spend time in prayer so that you can receive the spiritual and emotional peace that comes from God. Then you can give relational peace to others by having an internal sense of peace and turning away from conflict. Meet criticism with a calm and listening ear, instead of defensiveness. Offer compassion and understanding instead of anger and fighting words. Manage your own stress so you can be an example to everyone around you.


Rick Warren says you can test your patience in four ways. How do you deal with interruptions? How do you handle inconveniences? How do you respond to the irritations in your life? What is your reaction when you have to wait? Let's face it. The holiday season can really test our patience. Whether it's having to drive to 5 different stores to find the one toy that is out of stock, dealing with irritable and snobbish people, or waiting in endless lines, our reaction is the true test of how patient we are. Give the gift of patience by developing a deeper love for people, changing how you view situations, learning to laugh at the craziness, and depending on God to see you through the stressful times.


Do you ever stop and ask yourself how you can be kind to someone today? Acts of kindness require thoughtful effort. Smiling at people who are having a bad day is an act of kindness. Kindness can be expressed by taking the time to listen to someone who is hurting. Giving people genuine compliments and seeing the best in people is a way to show kindness. Go out of your way to do something nice for someone, and don't wait until it's convenient for you because that time often does not come. In this busy world, everyone can benefit from a little kindness.


According to Rick Warren, "God says in his Word that the good life is not based on looking good, feeling good, or having goods. He says the good life is a life filled with goodness - being and doing good. When you are being good and doing good, you are going to feel good, and you are even going to start looking good - or at least looking better." How can you give the gift of goodness? By being and doing good according to God's word, and not the world. Whenever I am perplexed by how to handle a tough situation, I always ask myself, "What would Jesus do?" How would Jesus offer goodness to people this holiday season?


Giving the gift of faithfulness means you are reliable, trustworthy, dependable and consistent. If you say you're going to do something, do it. If you make plans to meet a friend, follow through with the plans, and do not cancel. Keep your promises and be a woman of integrity. Let people know you can be depended on for help this holiday season. Avoid gossiping and instead be a trustworthy friend. Be faithful to God by spending time everyday thanking Him for the love and blessings he gives you, as well as giving of your time, talent, and financial resources. We all need faithful people in our lives - don't underestimate the power of this gift.


Everyone loves a gentle spirit. Gentle people are well liked and offer the gift of love and healing to wounded souls. There are so many ways to be gentle to people. Consider having compassion and understanding by being able to set aside your own needs and see things from someone else's point of view, instead of demanding your own way. One of the greatest gifts you can give to someone is that of being non-judgmental. Have you ever wanted to share something that was really important to you, but you feared how people might judge you? How good it would feel to be able to open your heart to someone that was totally non-judgmental. Gentleness involves talking to people with respect and disagreeing peacefully. James 1:19 says, "Let every man be quick to listen but slow to use his tongue, and slow to lose his temper".


Give yourself the gift of self-control. Many of the problems we face in our life develop from a lack of self-control. Whether we face weight loss issues, financial debt, bad habits, or disorganization, the root of the problem usually starts with us. So how can you give yourself the gift of self-control? It starts with taking responsibility and committing to change. Think positive, believe in yourself, and do not let your past failures dictate your future success. Ask someone in your life or hire a life coach to hold you accountable to the change you'd like to make. Stay away from anything that tempts you to backslide on your goal, and rely on God's power to see you through to the end. While the holiday season is about giving, you too deserve a gift.

There is no reason to worry about money or buying the wrong gift because everyone appreciates receiving gifts from the heart. So this holiday season give your family, friends, neighbors, strangers, God and yourself the gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Author Bio

Lori Radun, CEC - certified life coach, speaker and author for moms. To receive her FREE newsletter and the special report "155 Things Moms Can Do to Raise Great Children", visit her website at

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

The True Meaning of Giving Thanks

What's not to love about Thanksgiving? It's the start of a four-day weekend. You don't have to get up too early. Sometime in the afternoon, you gather with family to share a huge, delicious meal, with guaranteed leftovers. There's football and a long nap for dad, fellowhip and fun for everyone else. Best of all, except for the food, no shopping is required to have a wonderful day. For that reason, alone, adults love Thanksgiving.

Your kids probably love it, too-a day off from school, filled with lots of treats-but they probably think of Thanksgiving like you did, when you were small; it's that holiday that falls between Halloween and Christmas. We don't wear crazy costumes for Thanksgiving, we don't receive or give gifts, as a rule. So, since kids aren't bombarded with commercials, telling them what they have to get on Thanksgiving (if they want to fit in), it can be hard for them, in our consumer-driven culture, to understand just what it's all about. After all, holidays mean presents, right?

You tell your kids about the starving Pilgrims, who were saved by the gifts of food from the local Indians, and how our country might not have developed as it did, without that act of kindness. But few of us ever mark that kindness as we down our turkey and dressing. It's odd, when you think about it. Thanksgiving is the one holiday that really is all about giving and receiving, but advertisers still haven't figured a way to stretch our credit limits to the max.

So how can you make a holiday with no presents have some real meaning for your kids? You could start with the word, itself. We often forget that Thanksgiving is a compound word-the day is meant for giving thanks. If your kids are old enough to enjoy receiving gifts and blessings, they're old enough to begin learning the concept of thanks.

Before the holiday, sit down with your children and ask them what they have in their lives that makes them happy. They may name a specific toy, or a bicycle, or a game, but chances are, when they really think about it, they'll be happy for the same things you are-family and friends, love and health and a roof over their heads. Make a list of these things with your kids-tape them on the refrigerator, or someplace where your children can be reminded of all that they have to be grateful for.

Talk to your kids about ways they can give at Thanksgiving. It's a great opportunity to teach them that giving comes in many forms. With Christmas approaching, maybe they can think about donating some of the toys they've grown tired of to charity, so that children less fortunate can have a brighter holiday. Or, if your children receive an allowance, they might want to donate a portion of it, between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

There are even volunteer activities appropriate for young children. Something as simple as a neighborhood clean-up can involve many children, with supervision. Local residents and businesses can be approached about donating toward the effort, the proceeds of which can then be sent to a charity of the childrens' choice.

Thanksgiving need not be just the holiday between Halloween and Christmas. Even to your children, it's a day that can have real meaning, and live up to its name.

Author Bio

J Gardener, a writer for Imaginary Greetings, Inc. (, is an award winning screenplay copywriter and a regular contributing author on many family oriented issues. Imaginary Greetings offers highly imaginative personalized family oriented products and services. To learn more about how to make your holiday tree magical vist

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Christmas Shopping with Kids

Remember when Christmas shopping was something you could put off until the last minute, and then rush through, in one evening? Alone? Ahhh-those were the days, weren't they?

Now you have little shoppers, and you can't rush through anything, anymore, and a trip to the store-any store-is an operation which requires military-style planning. You can't wait until late at night. You can't slide and squeeze and speed your way through the crowds. And, most of all, you can't dawdle, examining something on the shelf-when you're shopping with small children, dawdling is definitely forbidden.

You know you have to keep them moving, keep their attention engaged, keep them guessing; a few seconds' rest can put the brakes on your master plan:

"Mommy, I want that!"

"Daddy, I'm hungry!"

"I have to go to the bathroom!"

"Tommy touched me!"

"I want to go home!"

By the time Christmas rolls around, you never want to see the inside of a retail store, again.

The good news is, you're not alone. Parents of small children all over the world are sharing your pain. The bad news is, there's no easy way to shop for Christmas, with small children. There are, however, a few ways to take a tiny bit of the stress out of the process.

In the spirit of keeping your kids engaged and involved-rather than just being unwilling passengers on the journey-make your shopping trip their shopping trip, too. Have them make a list of things they want to give as gifts to their grandparents, cousins, or friends. Do your shopping, first, then deal with their lists-this can help keep them as anxious as you, to see that your shopping is done, quickly.

Plan a visit to the store's Santa, on the condition that your kids are well-behaved and as helpful as possible-but make Santa your last stop.

Bring snacks along-hungry kids tend to be irritable. Bring activities, like coloring books, to keep them occupied, while you shop.

During the holidays, many malls have kids' play areas with adult supervision. Talk with other parents you know, to discover which ones in your area are safe and trustworthy.

Talk with your children before your shopping trip. Plan a reward or discipline system for them, based on their behavior at the store. If they become unruly, don't take the bait and discipline them at the store-just be sure, when the trip's over, to follow through with your plan.

Know your kids. If you realize that a successful Christmas shopping trip with them is a hopeless dream, then find a way to leave them at home, with a sitter or your spouse.

Christmas shopping is a cultural ritual that's here to stay. Look at it this way-you only have to survive a few years of it, with small children. Then you can go back to the last-minute, late-night gift runs-they'll seem like a vacation, won't they?

Author Bio

J Gardener, a writer for Imaginary Greetings, Inc. (, is an award winning screenplay copywriter and a regular contributing author on many family oriented issues. For additional tips on how to truly light up your child's eyes this holiday season like never before visit

Article Source: - Free Website Content

Friday, October 17, 2008

Halloween Activities for Kids

By: Nikki Phipps

There's no doubt about it; kids love Halloween. They love dressing up in costumes and collecting loads of candy. But did you know that kids also enjoy participating in other fun, creative activities as well? There are tons of interesting ways to entertain a child's imagination, including simple craft projects and games. Why not take advantage of this amazing holiday by spending some extra time with the children and doing these activities together?

Craft projects are a great way to get your child involved with Halloween traditions. Children love the chance to use and show off their imagination. Why not allow them to help out with the Halloween decorations? Sure, you could go out and spend lots of money on decorations that are already assembled, but wouldn't it be nice to save some cash by making your own? And as a bonus, you get to share the moment with your children.

Here's a nifty idea for adding Halloween charm to your porch or patio. Thoroughly clean and remove the labels from empty 2-liter pop bottles and pour a little bit of orange paint inside, replacing lid afterward. Let the kids shake the bottles around until the inside is covered with orange paint. Once dry, allow them to decorate faces onto the outside of the bottles with black paint. Add a green ribbon or bow to the top of the bottle and set on the porch. To lessen the chance of your pop-bottle pumpkins from blowing over, you can add a handful of sand using a funnel.

Another fun project for the kids involves making pumpkin pouches from ordinary paper plates. These creative little pouches will look great hung on the wall or door. Use them for holding candy or other items. In fact, use them all year long. They can easily be created to change as the seasons do. Take two plates and cut one in half. Secure the half plate onto the whole one using either staples or weaving ribbon through punched-out holes. Paint the plate pouch orange and allow it to dry. Decorate the pumpkin with funny or spooky faces and hang (pouch out). You could also have the kids create a festive Halloween handprint wreath for hanging on the front door. Choose autumn-colored pieces of construction paper and trace around your child's hand. Cut the little hands out and glue them together in the shape of a wreath. These can be further decorated or left as is. The size of the wreath is up to you.

Planning a party? Get the kids to help out with the invitations. Create adorable ghost print cards using their own footprints. Your children will not only enjoy making them, but your guests will love the cute designs as well. Simply grab some black and orange-colored construction paper (amount will vary depending on how many people), white tempera or other washable paint, and some gold gel markers. Lay down some newspaper and fill a shallow container with paint. Fold each piece of construction paper in half and place, one at a time, onto the newspaper. Have each child dip his/her foot into the paint and 'stamp' the card with a footprint. Allow the cards to dry; afterward, let the kids add a face onto the ghost and print a small message inside using markers. You could use glue for this instead and decorate with glitter.

You could attach some lively little ghost pops onto each card. Just have the children cover a tootsie pop with tissue and secure it in place with a piece of orange or black yarn. Use a marker to add a face to the ghost. These also make fun treats to give out to the trick-or-treaters.

Other interesting ideas for the kids to make and give out to party guests as well as trick-or-treaters include bat bags and candy cups. Use an ordinary brown paper lunch bag and some brown construction paper. Have the kids draw a bat's head onto the piece of construction paper and cut it out. Let them decorate it with markers, glitter, etc. Fill the bag with treats, fold the top over, and staple (parent/adult should do this). Of course, you don't need to feel limited to bats; allow them to choose whatever Halloween design they want or one that goes with a party theme.

Candy cups are good for party guests. Simply allow kids to decorate Styrofoam cups with markers relating to Halloween theme. Meanwhile, fill some plastic baggies with individually wrapped candy and tie the tops with decorative yarn or ribbon. Let the kids drop one baggie into each of the cups; these can also contain the names of guests or allow the guests to become involved as well and include the activity as a party event.

While children are always fascinated with creative craft projects, they simply love the opportunity to play. Games are another fun way for them to enjoy the Halloween festivities. Traditional games such as Snap Apple are always a hit. Hang an apple from the doorway with a string and have the children take turns trying to bite the apple, with their hands behind their back. This game was thought to bring good fortunes to those accomplishing the task. Of course, you could give a prize instead.

An interesting alternative to the more traditional Halloween games might include a good old-fashioned game of Pin the Nose on the Pumpkin. This game is played in the same way as Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Create a pumpkin from a piece of orange poster board and draw a mouth and eyes onto it with black marker. Create the nose from a piece of black poster board or construction paper and attach some double-sided tape to the back of it. Blindfold the players, having them turn around a couple of times, then allow them to 'pin' the nose onto the pumpkin. Winner gets a small prize.

Halloween isn't just about the candy or the costumes; nor is it about the ghosts, goblins, or witches. Halloween is an ideal occasion for spending and honoring time with family and friends. From small decorating projects to fun games, the Halloween season offers plenty of easy and interesting activities for the kids as well as the parents.

Author Bio

This article was written by Nikki Phipps and was sponsored by

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