The Best Personalized Christmas Presents

It’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas presents. Before you know it, you’ll be running around on Christmas Eve trying to find the perfect gift for your sister. No one needs that kind of stress at Christmas! If you start thinking about it now, you can surprise your family with the best possible presents.

If you’re stuck for ideas (and you can’t possibly get away with buying your Dad another pair of socks), then try something personal. It will mean so much more to them and it might just be the cheaper option. The trick is to really get inside their mind – what do they really love? Christmas is all about fun, so don’t be scared to move away from the practical option! The smile on their face will be worth the extra effort.

Food

Christmas is all about food; Christmas dinner, mince pies and way too many sweets. It’s a time for over-indulging and you can’t go wrong with the gift of food. Personalising the gift will make it even sweeter. How about a cookie with a message of love or a cute picture? Save a little money by using a Cookies By Design coupon too. Christmas present bargain!

A hamper is a real treat at Christmas. The best thing about a hamper is that you can tailor it specifically for your family member. If they’re a wine lover, fill it full of their favourites. If they have a sweet tooth, make a chocolate hamper. There are countless options here, you can’t get this one wrong.

xmas

Thanks to Poppet With A Camera for the image.

 

A non-food hamper

Hampers always look great at Christmas, but they don’t have to be filled with food. You could pick a personalised theme and fill the hamper with gifts around it. Does your brother love cars? Get a hamper and fill it with books and dvds about motoring. Add some little collectable cars and a small accessory for his own prized motor. You can apply this idea to just about any hobby or interest. Let your imagination go crazy.

Notebooks or travel diary

There is nothing more personal than a notebook or a diary. Pick the perfect scrap-book for your arty friend or a travel diary for your backpacking cousin. You could hide personalised notes deep in the pages to be discovered later on. It’s a personal gift that keeps on giving.

Canvas prints or wall art

A personalised canvas print could be the perfect present. Why not blow up a photo of you and the gift receiver so they’ll always know how much you love them? You could frame the lyric sheet to their favourite song or find their favourite movie and frame the script. The possibilities are endless here.

Finally, use your skills! Are you a great cook? An expert knitter? A brilliant craftsperson? Make something completely original and your unique gift will warm even the Grinch’s heart.


Finding the perfect personal gift might take an extra little research. They can be harder to find, or take a long time to make, but it’ll all be worth it on Christmas Day.

Creating a Brand New Bedroom on a Budget: Your Comprehensive Guide

Despite what you may think, you can create a brand new bedroom on a tight budget if you plan properly. It won’t be as simple as heading to your local furniture shop and buying everything you need. However, you’ll definitely be able to create something special if you’re willing to put in some effort. This is a great project for people who love DIY! Take a look at our comprehensive guide:

bedroom

Try A New Colour

Bored of your bedroom? You might simply need to try a new colour. Paint is fairly cheap, but make sure you get a couple of tester pots first. Choosing paint on a whim sometimes ends in tears. You may find that after painting your bedroom, nothing else needs to be done. You could even make the room look more appealing with a colourful feature wall. Don’t worry if you aren’t a pro at painting: there are a ton of tutorials online to help you. You can even find colourful inspiration to help you come up with a new colour scheme.

 

Create Your Own Artwork

No bedroom is complete without some cool artwork. However, nice pictures can be expensive. Why not create your own? You don’t need to be an artist, all you need is a canvas and some paints. Let your imagination run wild! Some of the most famous artists can’t ‘draw’ in the traditional sense of the word. You could even ask your kids to have a go if you’re feeling brave.

 

Buy New Light Shades

You don’t need new light fittings; the shades can just be replaced to give a whole new look. You can make a room look much more luxurious with the right light shades, and they don’t need to be expensive either.

 

Replace Old Sheets

New sheets will spruce up the look of a room and give a lovely fresh feeling. The benefits of polyester sheets are so much better than simply being cheaper, so make sure you consider it as your sheet material. Use your sheets to add texture, colour, or pattern to the room to give it a new and exciting appearance.

 

Buy from Charity

When it comes to furniture, accessories, and artwork, you could always buy from charity. This way, you’re doing a good deed but getting new bedroom accessories for a great price. Many people turn their noses up at charity shops, but you can actually get some great bargains in there. Just go and take a look…you don’t need to make any commitments!

 

Make Your Own Furniture

If you’re a handy family, you could always make your own furniture out of wood and other materials. All you’ll need to buy is the materials and tools. You’ll need to set aside some time, and it’ll probably be frustrating, but this is one great way you can stay within your budget.

Try these tips and you may even have some money left over. Don’t forget to leave a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for reading!

image source: flickr

 

Fruit Based Vegan Desserts You’ll Love

It’s always nice to have a dessert after a meal, but it isn’t always good for us. By substituting shop bought, fattening desserts for homemade fruit based desserts, you’ll still get a sweet treat. All this without compromising your health!

apples

Apple and Almond Butter Dip

Apple and almond butter go together so well, and they’re about as healthy as you can get. Simply slice up your apple, and place your almond butter in a little dipping pot. You can even mix with some Alpro soya yoghurt to make it creamier.

 

Apple, Almond, and Alpro Soya Yoghurt

Apples dipped in plain Alpro soya yoghurt is a delicious treat, but adding whole almonds is another great idea. Feel free to drizzle over some bee-free ‘honee’, and perhaps even add some blueberries for a seriously creamy treat. Make your own bee-free ‘honee’ using sugar, apples, and lemon.

 

Fried Banana and ‘Honey’

Bananas are naturally sweet, but adding your homemade ‘honey’ to them makes them taste like a real dessert. Melt some coconut oil in a frying pan, and place in your banana slices. When they’ve browned, flip them over. This should only take a minute or two if the pan is hot enough. You don’t want to char them too much. Pop them on a plate, drizzle over some ‘honey’, and add cinnamon if you like. It’s decadent and delicious! You could even add a square or two of special melted vegan dark chocolate to make it even more rich.

 

Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate

Strawberries dipped in melted vegan dark chocolate is a fun and tasty way to get your dessert fix. It’s up to you whether you want to leave the chocolate to harden before eating, or munch them right then and there. When melting your vegan dark chocolate, remember you don’t need too much as it’s very rich. One or two squares should be enough. Also, be sure you don’t boil the chocolate as this will impair the flavour!

 

Banana Pancakes

Banana pancakes taste delicious, and could easily be mistaken for real pancakes. Whisk two homemade ‘eggs’ (made from ground flax meal and water. Leave for a few minutes after mixing first) with 1 banana, and heat some coconut oil in a very hot pan. Pour in pancake sized blobs of your mixture and wait to set before flipping. You can then top with your ‘honey’, blueberries, or even peanut butter. If you want a chocolatey flavour, you can add organic vegan cacao powder.

 

Protein Ice Cream

Protein ice cream one of the simplest recipes to make, and it’s the perfect treat for after a workout. Freeze one banana, and then blend it with a regular banana until smooth and creamy. You can eat it like this if you like, but I like to add some flavoured vegan protein to make it taste like strawberry or chocolate ice cream. You would never know it’s healthy and natural.

You can find more fantastic cooking and recipe tips here. If you swap your regular desserts for these fruit based desserts, I guarantee you’ll notice a difference in the way you feel and look.

image taken from flickr

How Jimmy Dean Frozen Breakfast Saves Mornings (+ Coupon)

Disclosure: I have been compensated by Hillshire Brands™ for my participation in this campaign.  I am a member of the  Mom It Forward Blogger Network and, as always, my opinions are 100% my own.

Easy Breakfast

I live in a big city- I have almost any grocery store within a 5 min drive but Safeway is my ‘corner store’.  It’s the closest to me, the most convient and definitely the one I visit often.  I use the J4U program to help save money and have the app downloaded on my phone.  I use J4U to save money and even try new products (I get free product offers regularly). I love seeing offers for products I already buy.j4u

 

Jimmy Dean frozen breakfasts are something I regularly have on hand for those crazy rushed mornings.  I have four kids in three different schools so morning drop off can really be a crazy time of day.  Having a box of two of Jimmy Dean frozen breakfast help ensure my kids (and Hubs) get some protein to start their day off right.  The sandwiches are far less expensive than stopping at the drive thru and WAY healthier.  Safeway and J4U have some great eCoupons for Jimmy Dean (and other great Hillshire Farm products).Jimmy Dean

If we are in a huge hurry, like, totally hypothetically… let’s say, someone turned off her alarm…I can heat the sandwiches up and they kids just eat them in the car on the way.  There’s virtually no mess, too (I say virtually because my kids can find a way to make anything messy).  Hubs likes to have a box at work in case he’s in a hurry out the door to beat the rush hour traffic.  He was shocked at how inexpensive they are and how good they taste.  These are great even if you aren’t in a hurry, I like to suprize Hubs with breakfast in bed (occasionally.  I can’t spoil him too much or he’ll come to expect the good life treatment ;)) with a Jimmy Dean sandwich, fruit, some extra Jimmy Dean Refrigerated Sausage and of course coffee (with homemade coffee creamer).

Don’t forget to check out J4U eCoupons from Safeway and let Jimmy Dean help make your chaotic mornings just that much easier!  I think we’ll try these Jimmy Dean Frozen Breakfast bowls next (with the coupon that’s only $1.50 for a breakfast loaded with protein to start your day right)!

Jimmy Dean

Cascade Platinum Party #CascadeShiningReviews

This review was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Cascade. I was provided the featured product free of charge to facilitate my review, but all opinions are 100% mine.

You already know just how much I love Cascade Platinum, I swear by this product it’s my #CascadeShiningReview.  It’s made my life much easier; I don’t have to ‘wash’ my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.  Doing dishes has never been so easy.French Toast

Recently, I hosted a play date and shared how Cascade Platinum made cleaning up easy.  I have tested Cascade Platinum with some of my most difficult messes, like dried on brownies, cornbread, rice, potatoes and even sticky french toast.  We celebrated my 30th birthday with some friends and I let Cascade do the work in the end.

Cascade Platinum Review

 

We served up pizza, chips, burgers, brownies and later, I brought out a french toast bake (I wish I had my homemade bread ready in time for this party; I bet it would’ve been delicious).  I made the french toast bake the night before, which really made a sticky mess on my pan- perfect to show off what this amazing product can really do!  I loaded up the dishwasher, put the Cascade Platinum ActionPac in, topped off my Cascade Platinum Rinse Aid and started the cycle.  Easy peasy.

Cascade Platinum

 

I highly recommend this to anyone who A) likes to host parties or B) has to do dishes. If you have used Cascade Platinum head over to write one of the #CascadeShinningReviewsCascade Prize Pack 2

Want to win an awesome prize pack from Cascade? Enter Below!

 

 

 

Basic White Bread Recipe

Many bread choices from the store contain soy ingredients.  We have a soy allergy in our family but I have been terrified to attempt to make a sandwich type bread.  It just seemed like a daunting task.  When I make bread usually it’s banana bread or Grandma’s Beer Bread.  I have been considering a bread machine but, as of now, any and all bread is made by hand with my handy dandy KitchenAid (seriously, I love my pink KitchenAid, found on sale, of course.  I had been wanting one and I kept waiting because it is a big purchase but I wish I hadn’t waited.  It’s an amazing little machine!).

Bread Recipe

Truthfully, this recipe is really simple.  Though, it is time consuming.  It’s not a quick mix, bake, done recipe (like the beer bread).  It is well-worth the effort!  Amazingly delicious, super (and I mean SUPER) inexpensive, and simple.

YOU WILL NEED:

2 teaspoons (or one packet) active-dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
1 cup  milk (I used skim)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon salt
5 1/2 – 6  cups all-purpose flour

First dissolve your yeast in the warm water.  Sprinkle yeast over the warm water (make sure water isn’t too hot) and let sit for about 5 minutes.

White Bread Recipe

Mix milk, melted butter, sugar and salt together while you wait for the yeast to dissolve.  Take 1 cup of flour and incorporate into the milk mixture.  Your dough will be really wet at this point.  Don’t worry!  Add the other 4 1/2 cups (I added it about 2 cups at a time, rather than dumping it all in at once) and you’ll see the dough start to form.  If you are using a stand mixture this is the time to switch to the hook and let it knead the dough for about 10 minutes.  If you are not using a mixer you can knead the dough by hand.

Bread Recipe

If the dough is sticky add flour (only a table spoon at a time- you don’t want to add too much but you don’t want the dough sticky).  The idea dough will be smooth and will bounce back when poked or gently smacked (yes, I totally smack my dough; I don’t know why.  I just like to give it a little whack!).

White Bread Recipe

Here’s where the term ‘time consuming’ comes into play for me.  As with any yeast recipe, the time will come to wait.  Now is the time.  Oil up a large bowl and form the dough into a ball.  Let the ball of dough rest, covered in a warm place, until it’s doubled in size; about an hour.

Homemade Bread

Once your dough has risen, take it out and divide into two balls.  Let those balls rest for just about 15 minutes.  Grease up two loaf pans and shape each loaf and place in pans.  Here comes some more ‘wait time’.  Let the loaves rise in the pan for another  hour and a half.  The dough should double in size and be a nice dome shape.

Make Bread At Home

Make a slash down the length of the loaf but be careful not to cut too deep into the dough; a light hand is ok here.  Bake in a 375°F oven for about 30 minutes.  Remove the loaves from the pan (to avoid further cooking them) and let cool before slicing.  Store in plastic bag at room temperature for a few days or freeze for a few months.

Bread From Scratch

We used ours for turkey sandwiches, paninis and cheesy garlic bread!

Do you make your own bread?  If so, do you use a bread machine or do it by hand?  Should I get a bread maker?!

DIY Bread

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY! 2 Tickets to North Pole Experience in Flagstaff, AZ

North Pole Experience
**The tickets for this giveaway are provided by NPX
Last year I packed the family up and headed to Flagstaff, AZ for some snow fun and North Pole Experience (or as some call it NPX).  It was a mini vacation for us, only a couple hours away, and it was magical.  This year we are able to host a giveaway for our fans and I am almost as excited to give tickets away as I was to go!  Heave over HERE  to check out just how much fun we had and enter to win two tickets below!

Limited Edition Wii U GIVEAWAY!

I am so excited to be a part of this giveaway and bring it to all of you!

This prize will surely make the holidays extra special for you and your family!

This Limited Edition Wii U was sponsored by McDonalds and we are giving it away to one lucky fan.

‘This Limited edition Wii U comes with the system plus 2 games and will make someone very happy on Christmas morning.

Easy rafflecoptrer entry below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Delicious Designs For Dressing Your New Conservatory

Conservatories are one of the most desirable home improvements for suburban homes today. It matters not how small the backyard is; you can fill it with a glorious new structure that adds extra floor space to your home and helps to cut back on garden maintenance.

 

You must dress the new space appropriately, or you could ruin the entire project. That isn’t as easy as you might think. Visit your friends houses if you want to see how to do it the wrong way; some people have no idea.

 

You will find some useful tips here that will enable you to create a modern yet comfortable space where you can relax and enjoy the sunshine without spending a fortune. Nothing comes for free in this world, so there is some cost involved, but if you opt for mid-range products you can keep the cost down.

 

chair

Photo Credit

 

Shade

Let’s start with the massive expanse of glass that will turn your new room into a solar oven if you let it. All conservatories need blinds to help you manage the temperature and offer some shade. Here are a few options available to you:

 

  • Pleated blinds are a classy and attractive solution to your problem. There are companies that will make them to size for you and even install electric controls so you can open and draw them with a remote control. In my opinion, this is the number one choice.
  • Vertical blinds look fantastic on the side windows. They are a versatile solution because you can angle the slats to suit the conditions. They are a bit too commercial for my liking, but that is just an opinion.
  • Venetian blinds come in all the colours of the rainbow these days, so there’s sure to be something to suit the interior design. You can even buy models with wooden slats these days.

 

Lighting And Cooling

Most conservatories benefit from a ceiling fan. Sometimes you need to move the air around to feel a breeze on a hot day. If you buy a fan that features lights, you can kill two birds with one stone as they say. Make sure you use LED light bulbs from https://www.any-lamp.com/ or anywhere else online. They cost virtually nothing to run and will last for years.

 

If the ceiling fan isn’t enough, install air conditioning. Portable units are available if the cost of a fixed installation is too high. Sometimes it is the only way to bring the temperature down to a comfortable level at the height of summer.

 

Flooring And Furniture

I don’t like ceramic tiles on the floor. They help to cool the place in the summer, but are cold underfoot in the winter. Carpet or laminate flooring make the place feel warmer when the snow is on the ground. Of course, the carpet may get dirty as you kids run in and out of the garden as they play, so my first choice would be laminate.

 

Rattan furniture is en vogue these days, and there are some stunning high-quality pieces out there. The benefit of this style is that there is something to suit every budget. Avoid cane pieces at all costs; they are so yesterday!


If you follow my advice, your conservatory will provide an attractive and welcoming place to sit and while away your time. They aren’t just places to show off when you have guests; use them whenever you get a chance. Look out for more of my design tips because they could change the way you view your home. Until later, I wish you style success!

Wall Decals For Your Home

**** This is a guest post by Wall Decals Pop.  If you have questions regarding this please see LLandLoL’s disclosure policy. Thank you!

A world map wall decal makes you on the road always.

walldecalpop

Man is born to be lonely since we are naked, without anything around our body when we are a newly born infant and pass away after years without anything carry off. There is an old Chinese saying is, people come to the world with empty-handed and leave the world with the empty-handed. Gradually we grow up and we need to learn to be alone in this busy world. We will see the prosperity if we can live well in loneliness.

There are too much things we need to face in the journey of life. So, we need to relax sometimes. That is to say, there must be one on the road, body or soul. But for modern people, there are limited time to spend for a holiday. So, this worldmap wall decal is a great choice to put on your room wall. It will take you to various places you dreamed which from mysterious eastern world to the modern western world. You will see different customs and experience different cultures from this wall decal which you can use your creative imagination.

walldecalpop1

There are also chalkboard wall decals for planning and recording. After applying this chalkboard, you will clearly see many things in a good order, without any confusion. You also can record things which you think important. And the chalkboard wall decal is really a perfect decoration for children’s room. Such as, nursery, playroom or kindergarten are the learning and creative place for the little children. It can be used for them to writing and drawing.

So, wall decal is filled with aesthetic and originality. You can finish it with your family together which will bring you a harmonious atmosphere. If you want to know more about this product, you can click this page to get more information. You will have a great time here.

 

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