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,