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Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas gift shopping for the clueless male

 Are you one of those men who procrastinates until the last minute when it comes to Christmas shopping? Can’t come up with a gift idea that is sure to please? Get ready to change your habits this year, you will no longer be clueless.

Okay men, those of you who are gift shopping need to pay attention, here are a few hints on what women want.

We want you to know us enough to pick something we will enjoy. Wow us by actually paying attention to what we like.
Buy us a book from our favorite author or if you are afraid we might already have it choose a new author in the same genre. Add a pretty bookmark and a gift certificate and we will be impressed. Don’t buy us a book that you want to read, that won’t impress us at all.

Notice which brand of perfume we use and buy us the shower gel or purse size perfume to carry with us. Don’t ask the clerk at the store what we would like, she doesn’t know us and will most likely sell you the most expensive brand she has.

Pay attention to what brand of clothing we wear and the style and color we prefer. You can actually check some pieces that we own if you are unsure. Buy us what you know we wear. Don’t try to turn us into a sex goddess if that isn’t what we are comfortable with. By the same token if we are fashionistas don’t get us over-sized tees or sports logo sweats.

Give us a visit to the spa. If you are not sure about the spas in your area you can check on spafinder.com and buy a gift certificate. What woman doesn’t like to be pampered and this one will reap many benefits for the savvy man.

If we wear any jewelry, we will love getting a piece that you picked for us. Again notice what will match the person that we are. Don’t go big and gaudy if we are a diamond stud kind of person. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it has to be thoughtful.

Pay attention to our hobbies. We always love to get things that are related to these. If you are not sure what to get, go with a gift certificate and a small token item. Some examples of this are if she is a scrapbooker, get a gift certificate to the local scrapbooking store and pick up some stickers or scissors to put with it. This will work for any hobby. Another option would be a magazine subscription for that hobby.

While we appreciate the fact that you think we are sexy please don’t buy us lingerie that would look great on a hooker but will make us feel very uncomfortable. Tasteful and sexy are not incompatible. How about a Victoria’s Secret Gift certificate?

We want you to put some thought into our gift. Running to the local Walgreen’s on Christmas Eve is not going to make us happy. Just remember, if we aren’t happy you won’t be happy.

No matter what we say, we really don’t want a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. While we may need a vacuum cleaner it can’t be our only gift. If you must be practical, make sure that you add some small very thoughtful additional gift to show that we an important as your significant other not just as the house frau.

Learn to enjoy shopping for us. Don’t wait until the last minute and it will be a lot less stressful. Begin thinking about Christmas in September, become a private investigator and search for what will be the perfect gift for us.

Okay clueless men everywhere, you now have a few tools to help you make Christmas this year the best ever. Just don’t wait until December 24th to look at these suggestions.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Charities to donate to at Christmas time

Christmas is a time when most people are feeling generous. Many charities are asking for donations. It is not possible to donate to all of them; you have to decide which ones are the best fit for you and which ones support causes in which you really believe.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army was founded by William Booth in the mid-19th century. He walked through the poorest of London’s neighborhoods to bring the word of Jesus to those in the most need. He was unconventional and that brought him into conflict with more conventional religious leaders of the day. His followers were the dregs of society, prostitutes, and drunkards.

Today, the Salvation Army still serves those who are most in need through all of its many outreach programs. They are one of the most visible charities during the Christmas season when their kettles are common sights at most shopping centers and major stores. Whether you decide to make a substantial donation or just drop your spare change into the kettle you can be sure that it will go to a good cause. During the holidays, the Salvation Army provides Christmas dinners and gifts to those who are in need. Volunteers will go out into hospitals and nursing homes with gifts and they have many shelters where there will be a full-course Christmas dinner served. 

Ronald McDonald House Charities

It is always terrible to have a sick child and even more so during the holidays. One of the things that Ronald McDonald House Charities does is to provide a place for families to stay together when one of the children is receiving treatment for an illness or injury. The housing is offered for little or no cost and accommodates the entire family including other children.

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

Christmas is all about children and so is St. Jude’s. Founded by Danny Thomas in 1962, the entertainer’s daughter Marlo is still very active in promoting the facility. St, Jude is the patron saint of hopeless causes and many of the children that come here have cancer that before the founding of St. Jude’s would have been hopeless. The research that the hospital has done, especially in the area of leukemia, has made many forms of this disease not only treatable but curable. If you love children and want to give to a charity that offers hope to families with a very sick child, this is the perfect place to make a donation.

 There is hunger all over the world and even in rich and modern countries, there are families who are going to bed on an empty stomach. As you are considering what you will be serving at your Christmas celebration, consider those in need right in your own area. Pick up an extra one of all the items that you will be serving as well as a bag of non-perishable food items and drop them off at the local food bank or church which may have a food pantry.

Christmas is one of the most giving times of the year. There are many charities which need your help. Choose one or choose several and share the bounty that you have enjoyed this year. Even if you don’t have a lot, sharing a little is a great way to really enjoy the true spirit of Christmas.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Preparing for a weekend with the grandkids

Nothing makes grandparents happier than spending time with grandchildren. Getting to spend an entire weekend with them is something that may be looked forward to with great anticipation and also a little concern. If the grandchildren are going to be spending the weekend at your home, there are things that may need to be done. If you are going to their home or taking them away for a weekend, there are a different set of possible concerns.

Here are a few tips to help prepare for a weekend with the grandchildren,  something that both you and they will want to repeat again, soon.

Hazards

A lot of the preparation for a visit is age specific. If you have young grandchildren then you need to childproof your home before the kids arrive. Get rid of breakable knickknacks, put the chemicals and cleaners in a high cupboard or get childproof door locks. It may have been a while since you have had a child in the house, look at anything that may be a hazard and remove it.

Food

Feeding the grandkids can be a very big deal especially if you have picky eaters or any food allergies. If you are not used to feeding them, talk to the kids beforehand or their parents at the very least. Teens and tweens can be equally as picky as younger children. It is better to be prepared with their favorite foods than to spoil a visit trying to feed them something that they hate or have never tried before.

It is always fun to get them to help prepare a meal if they are old enough and once they are comfortable you can try to introduce something new, or maybe not but knowing their likes and dislikes will help make the visit go smoother.

Activities

Have some sort of a plan for what you will be doing. Making memories with the grandchildren is something that they will cherish for the rest of their lives. A trip to the zoo or aquarium, making cookies together, picking apples or blueberries, you get the idea. Try to do something that is new for them, something they will remember. Play catch or jump rope, get out the Wii and play tennis, go to storytime at the local library or take them on an adventure. Whatever you enjoy, if presented right, they will enjoy.

Equipment 

Be sure you have all the correct car seats and equipment you may need for the visit. Having a bicycle that you picked up at a tag sale is not a bad idea. Just in case the weather turns bad have indoor activities planned. Get some coloring books, movies, lots of popcorn and even a good old-fashioned board or card game.

Ask the parents lots of questions especially if this is something that doesn’t happen very often. If it is a regular occurrence to have the grandchildren for a weekend visit, then you already know what to do but it never hurts to talk about anything that is new.

As tempting as it may be to feed the kids loads of junk food and keep them up way too late, try to control yourself. If you do this on the first day, all of you will suffer the second day. A little indulgence is what grandparenting is all about but too much of a good thing can cause everyone to be unhappy.

Now that you have read these tips, use them to give yourself some ideas about how to enjoy your weekend. Every family is different and what works for one may not work for others. Make your grandchildren feel special, enjoy yourself and they will have a great time and look forward to coming back to grandma and grandpa's house for another weekend.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pros and cons of being a granny nanny

When one of your children needs a nanny so that they can get back to their career, what is a grandma to do? If you are lucky enough to be at a point in your own career where you are available you can become the newest phenomenon, the granny nanny. 


Like so many of life’s decisions, this one comes with both pros and cons. Before discussing the pros and cons, however, there are many things that have to be considered.

One of the most important decisions you need to make is where are you going to do the childcare. Do you want to use your home or your child’s home?

There are some excellent reasons for either choice. Your home is where you are the most comfortable and it will mean that during nap time you will be able to accomplish a few things in your home. It also means that you need to get all the equipment required for childcare and that you must child proof your home. Sticky little fingers don’t mix well with expensive and adult designed furniture. At your child’s home, the equipment is already there so there is less disruption for you and any messes will not be in your home. The problem is, you have to try not be judgmental about the housekeeping or how things are done in someone else’s home.

Another challenge is getting on to the same page as your child when it comes to food, discipline and house rules. You have to remember that now you are an employee and your job is to follow the instructions you receive from your employer. Being a granny nanny and a mother-in-law are both difficult but if you can find the perfect balance, this can be a dream job.

Be sure to outline what you and your child expect from you. Have a heart to heart discussion including pay, expectations and how to handle emergencies. It is better to talk about everything upfront so no one is surprised or disappointed.

Make sure that you allow time for yourself and the things that are important to you. Plan some time out of the house with your grandchild. Go to the library, for a walk, to the park or just have lunch out together. You don’t have to be tied to the house as long as you have a car seat, a stroller and lots of patience and energy.

You are going to have the opportunity to spend a lot of time with your grandchild or children. This is what most grandmother’s dream of. Come prepared with a plan to entertain the children but remember, it isn’t all fun and games. There are schedules to adhere to and you want everything to run smoothly.

Childcare is exhausting and doing it every day can be a lot. It is hard to imagine that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, but you need to realize that it may be too much for you to do 5 days a week. Don’t be afraid to admit it if you need to cut back to less than full time. Everyone has their limits.

A granny nanny is a great option when it works out. The children are cared for by someone who loves them and the granny gets lots of sticky kisses, it is pretty much a win-win situation as long as everyone understands what they are getting into. The most important thing to remember is communication. Discuss small issues immediately so that they don’t end up affecting the family relationship. I was a granny nanny for two years for my grandson Jack and it was an amazing experience.

To share ideas with other granny nannies, try the  Granny Nanny News.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Countries that celebrate Thanksgiving

We often think of the United States as that only country which celebrates Thanksgiving. That isn't really true, while celebrations differ,  there are several other countries that celebrate Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving in the United States is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in the fall of 1621. The Pilgrims usually gave thanksgiving in a religious way. This first Thanksgiving was a secular event that brought the colonist together with some friendly Native Americans in a feast that lasted for a week. The good harvest and the game they were able to kill provide abundant food. 

The Pilgrims had survived a very harsh winter and those who were still alive had gone on to plant and harvest their first crops. It was as boisterous and enjoyable a time as these sometimes dour religious settlers ever enjoyed.

Thanksgiving became an official holiday in the United States in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November to be the official holiday. During the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it was decided that the last Thursday was not a good idea since it sometimes was the 5th Thursday of the month and people didn’t Christmas shop until after Thanksgiving. 

When Thanksgiving fell on the 30th of November, it hurt business which since the country was coming out of the Great Depression, wasn’t a good idea. In 1941, Congress officially set the date as the fourth Thursday of November and it has remained the same ever since.

Canada on the other hand celebrates Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday in October. It has a totally different history than that of the United States. The main reason that it is celebrated earlier in the year is Canada’s location to the north. It gets colder much earlier in Canada than it does in most of the United States. Thanksgiving officially began in Canada in 1879. 

The first Thanksgiving in Canada dates to even earlier than that of the US. It was held by English explorer Martin Frobisher in 1578 in Newfoundland to celebrate the fact that he and his crew had survived the journey. 

Over the years French colonists and Americans who moved north after the Revolutionary War brought their traditions to add to what was already being observed. It wasn’t until 1957 that the date for Thanksgiving Day was officially set on the second Monday in October. Many similarities exist between celebrations in Canada and the U.S. including the inclusion of pumpkin pie in the festivities.

Another country that celebrates Thanksgiving is Liberia in West Africa. It was originally settled by freed slaves from the United States so it is not surprising that they have also adopted this tradition. Their celebration, however, is in thanksgiving for the freeing of the slaves in addition to being thankful for good things that have happened in the past year. 

The feast usually includes a roasted chicken and mashed cassava. It is definitely a day to gather with family and enjoy music and dancing and of course eating. It is celebrated on November 3rd and is a public holiday.

Many other countries celebrate the fall harvest but most of the celebrations are not national and are not on a fixed date. They are celebrated locally as religious events or with fairs and entertainment. The common thread in all of these Thanksgiving Days is giving thanks to a supreme power for the bounty that the harvest has provided and that is a universal theme.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Best foods to donate to a Thanksgiving food drive

Thanksgiving is a time of plenty. Many people want to share the bounty of the season with those who would not be able to have a Thanksgiving dinner without the food that is donated in Thanksgiving food drives. There is a great need in our country for people to participate in these food drives and there are many foods that will be gratefully received. 

The most important food that you can donate to the local Thanksgiving food drive is a frozen turkey. These drives are usually carried on for several weeks before the holiday and a frozen turkey is easy to store and to deliver. There is often need for very large turkeys for families but there is also a need for a small turkey or a roasting chicken for singles, the elderly and couples. Don’t forget those who may be alone for the holidays.

Potatoes are another food that is important to donate. This can be fresh potatoes; a five-pound bag is a good donation. If it is too much for one meal, it can be used for additional meals in the days following Thanksgiving. You might prefer to give a box of potatoes, these can be scalloped, au gratin or mashed.

Stuffing or dressing is a traditional food for Thanksgiving. Several companies produce boxed or bagged stuffing that needs very little work or additional ingredients to make it into a delicious side dish.

Fresh vegetables are much appreciation and desired. Celery, onions, carrots, turnips and squash are good choices. You want to choose vegetables that will last a while. You can also include some canned vegetables such as corn, peas and green beans which are almost universally liked.

Cranberry sauce is a staple of Thanksgiving dinner. Including a few cans is always a good idea. You can also include a can or a jar of gravy.

Dinner rolls are a nice addition to the food donations. You can also include loaves of sliced bread which many people like to have with their Thanksgiving dinner.

In order to have a complete meal,  it is important to donate things like shelf stable milk or fresh milk, butter, cream, and eggs. Most people who will get a basket or bag of food for Thanksgiving appreciate getting these items.

Watch for sales at your local grocery store and pick up a pumpkin or apple pie. Dessert is part of the whole holiday meal. You can also include a cake or a brownie mix.

Dinner on Thanksgiving isn’t the only meal of the day. There is breakfast. To make the day extra special for a family in need why not consider donating some cold cereal, oatmeal, complete pancake mix and syrup, hot chocolate mix, coffee and tea.

Some staples that every food bank can use on their shelves are canned tuna fish, peanut butter, spaghetti and macaroni, canned soup, spaghetti sauce and meals in a can like baked beans, stews, and chili.

All of these foods will be welcomed at a Thanksgiving food drive. Sharing your good fortune with those who have less is a great way to get into the spirit of what the first Thanksgiving was all about. Don’t forget the food bank the rest of the year, there is a need all year.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Black Friday lure or lore

It is getting to be that time of year again when the Black Friday lure will be calling out to consumers everywhere. Is the lure real or is it lore? For many of today's savvy shoppers, it is a combination. While fliers will be touting great deals, many shoppers will not be willing to either give up their Thanksgiving evening or get up at 2 a.m. to be at a retailer at 3 a.m. to either get in line or to fight the crowds. How much is saving money worth to you?

Deals

The deals that seem to attract the most attention every year are popular electronics. It may be a large screen TV or the latest game console. Best Buy is a popular destination for these kinds of deals. They will offer specials and doorbusters but they will be in very limited quantity. Best Buy's website offers some strategies to make the most out of your Black Friday experience. Among the things they suggest are having a list so that when the limited quantity items sell out you will have your backup plan with you.  

If you are going to be shopping for items other than those that are drastically reduced why are you going to get up before the light of day and go shopping? Wouldn't it be better to just stay home and enjoy the Thanksgiving afterglow and brave the holiday shoppers in a few days when the craziness has subsided? 

Another of their suggestions is to get there early, even on Thanksgiving for stores that will be open. What is wrong with this picture? You getting up from the table and getting in line for a game console? Is that really what the holidays are all about? Apparently, at Best Buy it is. What about those employees who will not be able to have Thanksgiving dinner with their family so that you can have a lower priced TV?  Again, is this the lure of Black Friday?

Probably the best of the suggestions they offer is to take advantage of Cyber Monday and order some of the items that you want online. Amazon is already offering Black Friday deals on their website and others will be turning up in the coming weeks.

Lore

Is it true that the best deals will only be found on Black Friday? The best way to answer that question is to go out to the stores or online starting as early in November as possible and know what the actual price every day is for the items you are looking for. Great pricing will be showing up all along the way and even if you don't get the best price, you can still get a great price and not sacrifice your time, family and holiday spirit to do it.

The lure of Black Friday is not going anywhere. Retailers count on shoppers being enticed by their few outstanding deals. They know from experience that once they have you in the store you will spend money even if you are not one of the lucky few who get the special deal. So is Black Friday lure or lore, mostly lure with some lore thrown in for good measure.