Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Gift Ideas for $10 or Less!

So, if you're Mark Zuckerberg, or Bill Gates, or Kim Kardashian, or anyone of those insanely rich people out there, you might want to skip right on by this post. But if you're on a budget (and who isn't, these days? well, except for those extra-loaded people on the Forbes Richest Billionares list), and DON'T have an unlimited amount of money to spend on Christmas gifts, then this is for you!

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No matter what your Christmas budget is, ($300 a person? $30 a person? $3 a person?) it always seems to be a challenge to find the right gift in the right price range. (And I'll be honest, my budget is a lot closer to the lower end of the spectrum.) So here I'm rounding up a collection of gifts that have caught my eye in the last few weeks, for $10 and UNDER!

For the Little Adventurer:

$9.99 with FREE SUPER SAVER SHIPPING from Amazon.com
What little explorer wouldn't like a six-function whistle that also contains a compass, LED flashlight, magnifier, thermometer, and signal mirror? Walmart also carries a four-function version for only $4.95!

For the Little Snow-Bunny:

Only $8.99 on Sassy Steals (originally $18.99!)
Every little cutie needs a winter hat (well, unless you live in the Caribbean or Hawaii...), and what better winter hat than one that's (nearly) as cute as they are?

For the Fashionista:

$7.29 with FREE SHIPPING on Amazon.com
Any style maven will love this totally on-trend bubble necklace-- available in your choice of red, pink, rose, black, yellow, or turquoise (actually more like emerald green-- which happens to be Pantone's 2013 Color of the Year!)

For the Car "Buff" (pun intended):

An even $10.00 at Walmart!
Every true auto aficionado likes to keep his ride shiny-- be it an 78 Chevelle or a 2013 Viper! Help him out with a Turtle Wax car care kit (and maybe throw in a certificate for a "free car cleaning"-- or at least some assistance-- from you!)

For the Aspiring "Cake Boss":

$7.00 on Walmart.com (with FREE in-store pickup!)

Got a little (or big) person that likes to bake or decorate cakes and cupcakes? This Wilton 18-piece decorating kit has all they need to get started-- for only 7 bucks at Walmart! (The website says it's "Online Only", but my store has it in stock-- if yours doesn't, you can still get FREE site-to-store shipping!)

For the "Foodie":

Only $4.50 plus shipping on Etsy!

Forget those giant tins of mass-produced popcorn... here's some homemade sweet-and-salty caramel popcorn that will please even the most discriminatory tastebuds!

For the Anglo-phile:

$8.00 + $2.50 shipping on Etsy

Yes, I know the shipping puts it just over the $10 threshold... but seriously, who could resist this gorgeous "Keep Calm and Carry On" keychain? (Though, if you buy more than one-- say, one for you and one for someone else-- shipping is only $1.25!) Oh, and if you'd rather personalize it with a name or different quote, you can do that, too!

For Your Little Pirate (or Princess, or Astronaut):

$2.99 plus shipping from Amazon
Give your kiddos the gift of imagination with a dress-up costume they can play with year round! Amazon has a great selection of inexpensive costumes that will keep your little one's creativity revving high!

For the Techno-Geek:

A very affordable $2.96 + $2.44 shipping on Amazon.com

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but these touch screen gloves will let them use their iPod, iPad, iPhone, or any other touchscreen device while staying bundled up and warm!

For Everyone Else:

You know the drill: "if all else fails, buy a gift card." For the most "bang" for your buck, go with a Dollar Tree gift card-- you can purchase them in any amount from $5 to $100!!! Just think of all the goodies that $10 would buy!

Hope this helps those of you who, like me, are still working on your Christmas gift lists! ;) What is your favorite under-$10 gift (to get, or to give)?

P.S. I have no connection whatseover with any of the people, companies or websites whose products I featured here, nor do I receive any financial remuneration from your purchase of said items or from said sites. :/

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kiddy Craft: Pop Tab Christmas Tree Garland

Why string popCORN for your Christmas tree when you can string pop CAN tabs? My 4- and 5-year-old kiddos had a blast making these sparkly, colorful garlands for the Christmas tree! (Okay, I made one too... they're not just fun for kids!)

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A good stash of pop (AKA soda, or Coke, for all you Southerners) can tabs
        (Someone gave us this little fruit container full, and we only used about half of it for 10 feet of      

Thin ribbon, twine, or yarn (We used green ribbon to match our blue-and-green tree decor!)

Willing helpers!


1. Cut ribbon into 4-6 foot lengths, and tie a pop tab onto one end.
      This length was short enough to string, and long enough to wrap around the front of our tree. If you need longer pieces, you could splice two finished lengths together. We kept them shorter and just draped them around the tree at different levels to simulate one long garland wrapping around and around.

2. Thread other end of ribbon through both holes of a can tab, then slide it along the ribbon till it touches the first one.

3. Keep stringing until the ribbon is full, then tie a knot around the last tab!

4. Drape your sparkly, eco-friendly garland around your Christmas tree! TA-DA!

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Psssst... this craft is not only fun, but it's CHEAP! (Free if you already have the ribbon!) I used one 12-foot spool of ribbon that I got at Joann Fabrics for 70% off, so it only cost me $0.49! (Oh, and it's eco-friendly, too, since you're recycling the pop can tabs!) ;)  

P.S. I hope to show you the whole Christmas tree Friday! ;) It's my favoritest tree EVER, and not just because my kiddos made the garland for it!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Calling All Camera-Heads...

Okay, so I know I promised all you dear, patient readers a better look at my lovely Christmas tree, or at least a tutorial on a cute, easy Christmas craft! However, for the last few days, I have been extremely busy, working on something of UTMOST importance! I have been burning up computer bandwidth, trying frantically to decide what to tell my husband that I want for Christmas! (After all, if he gets to tell me exactly what he wants for Christmas, then I should be able to be very specific in my wish list, as well!) This shouldn't be so hard, since I do know what I want-- a better digital camera-- however, I don't know exactly which one!

The Canon PowerShot SX1 IS currently owns my wish list ;) Though it lists on Amazon for  $274-$590, on eBay they are generally under $200-- only $30-$50 more than the SX10.

This is where YOU come in! Ya see, I currently have a plain-Jane point-and-shoot camera (the Nikon Coolpix S3000), which I use for all my blogging as well as family picture taking. While it is a great pocket camera for things like zoo trips and family outings, I am NOT satisfied with the quality of the indoor photos that I take for my blog. (And trust me, I've tried every scene setting on that thing...) I really want a camera with manual controls, so that I can adjust things like depth of field and ISO. However, I know my budget of $100-$200 will not permit me to touch anything like a full-featured DSLR (*sigh*), so I know I'm looking for a couple-year-old bridge camera. I've actually narrowed it down-- I think-- to a Canon Powershot SX10 IS or, preferably, an SX1 IS (if I can snag one within my price range on eBay).

Both of them have 10 megapixels, with 20x wide angle, image stabilized (that's important, 'cuz I have pretty shaky hands) optical zoom. The SX1 has a CMOS sensor, which I am told is better than the CCD sensor that the SX10 has. The SX1 can also shoot HD video (vs. the SX10's standard 480p video)-- a BIG plus-- and can shoot in RAW format, as well (though that really isn't as much of an issue with me). Most importantly, they can both be found on eBay for under $200!

The Canon Powershot SX10 would be my second choice, I think...

Of course, there's always the option of getting a newer camera within the same price range (such as the Canon Powershot SX500), with more megapixels and more zoom , but with smaller aperture, CCD sensor instead of CMOS (like the SX1), and no hot-shoe to attach an external flash. (Oh, and no flip-out screen either, which, while not a must, is still pretty cool) ;) I HAVE done my research enough to know that more megapixels does not equal better pictures, especially if the sensor is still the same size; so the megapixel # doesn't make as much difference to me as the zoom might. :) (As long as I don't plan on printing out billboards, I think I'm fine with the 10.1 mp size of the SX1 or SX10)

Oh, and just so you know, I'm not being paid/compensated/reimbursed by Canon or anything, and I'm certainly not stuck on the Canon bandwagon... they just seemed to have the best reviews and the best features within my price range. :) If you think otherwise, please let me know!

So, all you photography/blogging buffs out there, what is your opinion? If you had to choose between an older camera with less megapixels but more features, and a newer one with more mps/zoom, but less "higher-end" features, which would you choose? What is your favorite camera for blogging purposes?

Please, HELP, so I can get this Christmas list to my hubby before he gives up and goes to Bath & Body Works (not that I mind B&BW products for Christmas-- it's just that this time I'm really hoping for something ELSE!) ;)

UPDATE: My decision has been further complicated by the discovery of TWO new frontrunners: the Nikon Coolpix P500:

and the Sony CyberShot DSC-HX100V.

Again, both can be found on eBay for under $200, used. They both seem to be fairly equal, with a few minor differences, and each reviewer seems to have a different opinion on which is best. This is only making my decision harder... HELP!!!!

Grateful for your opinion,

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Deck the Halls... with Camouflage?

Hey all! Sorry I've been pretty AWOL from blogland over the last two weeks. The 15th of November marked the start of hunting season here in Michigan, which here in the UP is akin to a national holiday! They even call off school for opening day! And for two weeks straight, EVERYTHING and EVERYONE, it seems, is wearing camouflage!

This, of course, means that for two weeks straight, my entryway looks like this (see above). In case you were wondering, the orange vest in the middle is mine; and yes, I've gotten out to the hunting blind two times so far; but, no, no fresh deer antlers to show for it-- yet. Hubby, however, was more successful, shooting a buck the day after opening day, with his PISTOL, no less! (Yes, that's legal; it's just a lot more difficult-- my Superman likes a challenge!) ;)

In spite of the "Great Camouflage Takeover", I've still managed to get our Christmas tree up, and most of my Christmas decorating done. I mean, really, how are you supposed to decorate around "hunter orange" and camouflage? But somehow I managed it! Here's a sneak peek:

This has to be my favorite Christmas tree yet! It also happens to be my first foray into decorating with non-traditional Christmas colors (no red in sight!) I feel like a positive heathen! LOL ;) I also spy a kid's tree decor craft that I can't wait to show you!

(Hint: it involves soda can tabs--LOTS of them! Don't worry, we didn't drink all those cans of pop-- they were all given to us) ;)  HOPEFULLY I'll share that project, and the full Christmas tree "reveal", before the end of the week ;) (I've also got a couple of proofreading jobs I'm working on, hoping to earn some extra cash for hubby's Christmas present-- so I'm trying to get those done ASAP)

Anybody else experiencing the great "Camouflage Takeover" for hunting season? ;) Any other ladies out there participating in the hunting experience? Or do you prefer to take your two weeks and hit the malls, like the rest of the "Hunting Widows"? :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Adding Color to My Neutral Fall Bookshelf

Sooooo, since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, that means I can officially start decorating for Christmas on Friday!!! (Well, as soon as we get home from the in-laws, that is... although truth be told I'll probably have to wait through the weekend till I get time to drag out the tree!) So I figured I'd better show you the tweaks I made to my "neutral" fall bookshelf, since I'll be changing it all again in the next few days!

Wanna play "spot the difference?" I decided that I wanted some more pops of color along this wall, so I brought in more of my current fave color: AQUA!

The "Virginia City" plate was already there, so I just brought in a few more aqua things to create a "visual triangle"...

My beloved aqua Ball jar (a $2 rummage sale find, and hopefully the first of many!)...

...and a robin's egg blue picture frame for the lower shelf (it's plastic, and the glass is already gone, so I don't have to worry about Monkey being able to reach it!)

Oh, and I stuck Matt's boutonniere (from a beautiful outdoor fall wedding he performed a few weeks ago) into the little milk glass vase. It provides the perfect coordinating pop of autumn orange!

So that's the final edition of my fall bookshelf (only because I'll be changing it out for Christmas in just a few days!) Until then, I'm planning on enjoying a fantastic Thanksgiving with the best in-laws ever! (No, I'm not saying that because my MIL reads my blog-- she doesn't) I'll leave you to your Thanksgiving with a little quote that challenges me in my thankfulness EVERY DAY:

Happy Thanksgiving, from our family to yours!

Monday, November 12, 2012

I'm In Love... Again!

I'd like to introduce you to my newest love: Krylon Metallic Silver spray paint!

Yes, I know I'm risking sounding like the latest Bachelorette, professing my love to a new object-of-affection every week. It's just that there's so many things I love! But honestly, this one's serious, like head-over-heels, forever-and-ever! (Well, at least forever in Kim Kardashian time...) ;)

Okay, all joking aside-- Metallic Silver spray paint is my new BFF! Check out my Makeover Victim #1: this cutesy, colorful Dollar Tree owl!

Adorable, yes, but not really my style (I did, however, go back and get one to leave original for Princess's room, since she loved this one so much!)

 It took me forever to decide what color to paint him... first, I painted him glossy white, to match my owl twins (which totally washed out his features). Then I tried Krylon Hammered Silver, which turned out WAAAYY too dull and drab for my tastes.

So he got a coat of  Krylon's Blue Ocean Breeze, and stayed that way for a while. Until I decided he needed something more glamorous and neutral to fit with my fall decorating... and that's when I found the Metallic Silver!

Check out the cool crackled finish! I honestly have no idea what caused it-- whether it was the frigid garage temperatures that I painted him in, or the undercoating of Hammered Metal (possibly oil-based?) spray paint-- but I LOVE it! It looks like silver leafing!

Now meet Makeover Victim #2:

Just a plain, everyday, run-of-the-mill glass pumpkin candy jar, that cost me all of $1.99 at Goodwill! . But glamorous? Not on your life!

Enter Krylon's Metallic Silver spray paint.

I really wanted to turn into fake mercury glass, like Karianne's-- but my search for Looking Glass paint came up empty. :( So Metallic Silver it became-- and though it's not quite so shiny, I love my pumpkin's new glamorousness!

So there you have it: two totally different makeovers from one can! And now you can see why I love it so much ;)

So do you love spray paint as much as I do? Do you have a favorite go-to-color? Or maybe you're a spray paint newbie! Trust me, once you try it, you'll be hooked ;)

...at least for 72 days!

P.S. I have absolutely NO connection with Krylon or the people that make it-- although if they saw how much I love spray paint, they might consider it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I Got A Facelift!

No, no, I didn't get plastic surgery! ;) But my blog did! Now the changes may not be monumental, but as a  newbie, self-taught Blogger, I'm pretty excited at the stuff I was able to tweak without totally crashing everything! ;)

Grab my new button here:

I kept the same header (created by my awesome blog-designer sis, Sharon), but I added some aqua brackets around it (with my ultra-fancy photo-editing program, AKA Paint), and updated the blog button to match. I also swapped out the turquoise gingham background for a more neutral sage quatrefoil design (not a big surprise, seeing that practically my entire house is green!) ;) Yep, pretty basic changes.

I also created a blog Facebook page and Twitter account! (I know, it's about time, right?) I feel like a real blogger now! ;) With a little help from Google, I even figured out how to add the Facebook widget on my sidebar-- and the Twitter and Pinterest buttons as well! (Go check 'em out... you know you want to!)

But the most exciting change, to me, is the addition of the "Recent Posts" thumbnails at the top of the page! Woot woot! I was totally jealous of the ones on Karianne's and Trish and Bonnie's blogs until I found out that there's a Blogger gadget for that, too! It took a little bit of experimenting and tweaking, but now you can see at a glance what's been going on here lately! ;)

So whaddya think? My little blog might not be quite as fancy as others, but I'm still all kid-in-a-candy-store excited!

P.S. Check out my "Project Gallery" up on top bar, and see if there are any projects you've missed!