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Super Quick and Easy Valentine Sweets and Treats

Let me break this to you gently: Valentine’s Day is next Tuesday. This is Friday. Get the picture?

Thankfully, there’s a big beautiful weekend between now and then—plenty of time to make a few of these fabulous treats and sweets!

Mini pies in a jar.  Could there be a better gift for co-workers, neighbors, friends, teachers and any number of other people than a single-serving, mini pie in a small jar? I think not! I have detailed written detailed instructions including recipes here:  The Perfect Small Gift: Pie in a Jar. It really is quite easy and the results are fabulous! I’ve been making these adorable single-serving pies for some time now, and it really is so much fun. Who can resist a small pie in a jar, right?

Best Headphones for Every Budget and Kids, Too

Several readers have asked recently about the best inexpensive headphones and earbuds both for themselves and their kiddos—and today seems like a great day to respond.

Generally these are the best values, price points and styles of headphones for adults and kids, too:

Best inexpensive wired headphones. Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbuds are smartphone compatible with integrated microphone and remote for Apple (iPhone* / iPod / iPad), Android and Blackberry Audio devices. Tonally balanced audio with crisp highs and deep low notes. Wider frequency response for musicians and fuller listening enjoyment . Lively sound quality for recorded audio. Comes with small, medium and large earpads to ensure a perfect fit for adults and children. Your choice of several beautiful colors. About $13.

Best mid-level wired headphones. 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones have two balanced armatures and a separate dynamic driver to deliver an extremely accurate music-listening experience with unsurpassed dynamic power and clarity from deep bass to sizzling highs. The built in microphone and remote are Apple and Android compatible. About $99.

Best value for high quality wired, noise cancelling headphones. Bose QuietComfort 20 is the Cadillac of smartphone replacement earbuds. These are only for those with discriminating hearing and music appreciation to go along with it. Available in two models: one for Apple devices* and one for Samsung/Android devices. Features noise cancelling that reduces surrounding distractions, letting music stand out. Many other high-end features. About $250. 

2017 Valentine Gift Guide—24 Fabulous Gift Ideas for Him and Her

 

Friends. Valentine’s Day is less than two weeks away. I know, I can’t believe it either. Before you begin to stress, let’s get a plan together.

The way I see it, you have four options:

  1. Ignore the day altogether and assume your spouse, kids and family will think you forgot and give you a pass.
  2. Get thee to the card shop and post office to pick up Valentine cards and postage stamps, then get them into the mail, pronto!
  3. Make sweet treats in your kitchen befitting the day*.
  4. Find that perfect something for that perfect someone in your life—there is still plenty of time.

Should you be leaning toward option #4, here are 24 great gift ideas:

GIFTS FOR HIM

1. MOSCOW MULE COPPER MUGS. These are gorgeous 100% copper mugs, each one in the set of 2 weighing in at 1/2 pound. If your guy is into home mixology and the classic Moscow Mule, this will make an amazing gift. About $28.

2. TACTICAL 300 LUMEN ULTRA BRIGHT FLASHLIGHT. This very cool, very bright flashlight runs off a single AA battery, for hours of use. Heavy duty, compact and tough as nails! About $12.

3. BEER CHILLER STICKS. Impress your guy with the newest way to keep beer at the right drinking temperature. Freeze chiller sticks for 45 minutes or leave them in until you are ready to open a bottle. Insert in beer and enjoy without having to worry about it getting warm. Comes in an impressive gift box with bonus bottle opener. About $28.

4. MAGNETIC WRISTBAND. Wearing the MagnoGrip magnetic wristband, he’ll keep tools on his wrist while he works. Ideal for holding nails, screws, fasteners, wrenches and small tools. Finish jobs in less time and with less frustration. Breathable lightweight design allows you to wear the magnetic wristband all day. Super strong magnets also provides therapeutic relief to the wrist. About $13.

5. DIGITAL TIRE PRESSURE GAUGE. The only gauge he’ll need. When he puts the Ionox Digital Tire Pressure Gauge in his hand, he’ll know right away he’s holding the best tire pressure gauge he’s ever used. About $15.

6. VEGETABLE GRILL BASKET. If your guy is into BBQing, he’ll flip for this large non-stick BBQ grid pan for veggies meat fish shrimp and fruit. About $18.

7. WHISKEY STONES. This set of 9 premium whiskey stones will ensure no more watered down whiskey! Easy to store in the wooden box, in the freezer! The stones substitute for ice cubes and keep a drink cold four hours! Use the stones over and over again. About $11.

Look What I Got For Christmas!

I love gadgets and apparently I’ve not kept that a secret from my friends and family. I’m still excited about these five new gadgets I got for Christmas—each one amazing and fun to use.

THE KNIT KIT. What a cool little gadget. It contains the nine essential knitting tools every knitter needs to have handy at all times—all of them excellent quality and cleverly tucked into this handy gadget. No more having to dig and search for a stitch counter, tape measure, crochet hook, yarn/thread cutter, stitch markers, point protectors, darning needle, needle gauge and collapsible scissors. All nine essentials are in there and part of The Knit Kit. What a brilliant and clever gadget. I love it so much I just can’t stop knitting. About $30.

Gadgets to Keep You Powered Up

It’s hard to imagine how we’d live our lives without all of the electronic devices we’ve come to depend upon. I’m talking about everything from mobile phones to portable computers, tablets, MP3 players, fitness and GPS trackers; eReaders, too.

It’s not just an adult thing. My young grandsons have their own bevy of electronics that need to be powered including  LeapFrog LeapPad, LeapFrog LeapBand, and Kindle Fire Kids Edition (amazing learning devices, by the way).

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The challenge is more than staying powered while on the run. The trick is to keep electronic devices fully charged and ready to go. The more people in the household, the greater the challenge and greater potential for a big fat mess.

The best way to make sure you’re always powered up and ready to go it to make charging convenient. Not necessarily expensive, but well-thought-out.

Today, I thought I’d give you a quick tour of the charging tools I depend on and wouldn’t want to be without.

The Messenger

I’m so excited. Just one week from today, our kids and family will arrive. They’ll be home for Christmas! We’ll be together for three wonderful days and I just can’t wait.

The house is mostly decorated, guest rooms are ready. I have a few more items to tick off my gift and to-do lists, but generally we’re looking good on this end.

While the holiday season is not all about gifts, it would be foolish to suggest that gifts don’t play an important role in our celebrations. Even if haven’t yet begun to think about the gifts you’ll give those you love a week from now, don’t panic. It’s not too late! Stores will be open crazy hours for you the next eight days. And even though today, Dec. 16, is the last day for Amazon FREE shipping, Amazon has a shipping schedule for you late shoppers that guarantees you’ll get items before Dec. 25. Hint: Sign up for 30-day free trial unlimited Prime Shipping, use it starting immediately and then cancel anytime.

Or you can forget about shipping altogether because it’s not too late to make gifts—no particular skills or craftiness required. Ideas HEREHERE and HERE.

The simple act of gift-giving has become complicated. I blame that on the consumer credit industry. Think about it: You can be completely broke but still spend thousands of dollars on Christmas gifts—and believe it is not only your right, but that you are obligated to do so. (Please don’t do that!) It’s so easy to fall into the trap that says we have to spend a lot to be socially acceptable.

31 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Kids, Young Professionals, College Students, Moms and Dads, Too

Gift-giving is surely on everyone’s mind as we head into these last days before Christmas. It’s a wonderful holiday tradition—one in which I participate fully because it brings me so much joy.

Earlier this week, I opened my email box to find a really nice messages from several readers seeking help with gift suggestions. One is in a quandary regarding appropriate gifts for his administrative staff—a group of sharp, young professionals both male and female. He wants to acknowledge each with an appropriate gift—something that won’t be so dorky it shows up in next Spring’s garage sale or worse, the trash. And he also wants to stay away from any gift that could be seen as too personal. His budget it about $30 per gift.

Of course I was excited to accept the challenge (I do have that shopping gene) and went right to work, contacting several of the sharpest, smartest young professionals I know, asking for their opinions, suggestions and help. Together we came up with suggestions of gifts that each of them would thoroughly enjoy receiving from a supervisor, boss—or anyone, for that matter.

While I was in gift-guide mode, I came up with great ideas for young children— moms and dads, too, just in case you’re behind the eight ball and need quick, realiable suggestions. It’s not too late, but you have no time to waste.

My Shopping Addiction Rehab Program

Shopping is my thing. I love the thrill of the hunt, that feeling of discovery and the joy of a bargain. I find it satisfying in ways I can’t fully describe. I want to experience the feeling as often as possible. Shopper’s high is no joke. It’s real, it’s palpable and it’s addictive.

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Shopping got me into a lot of trouble. In just 12 years I ran up more than $100,000 in consumer debt—most of it on credit cards. Eventually all of it came crashing down and nearly took me with it. Thankfully, that crisis became the catalyst to turn my life around.

It took 13 years to repay all of the debt. I learned a lot about myself in the process but mostly that the satisfaction I got from shopping was short lived. It was fake because it vanished in less time than it took me to get the stuff to the car. But that just set me up to do it again and again because the small bursts of  joy I got from shopping were worth the pain that always followed. Crazy I know, but absolutely true.

I could so easily go back to my old ways, and that’s scary. So, what keeps me on the straight and narrow? It’s you! You’re my shopping addiction rehab program. Paying off that monstrous debt and these past 25 years of writing, researching and communicating with you on a daily basis have become the best maintenance program I could hope for. And the best part? I get to use my shopping skills nearly every day, now in a constructive way.

A few days ago I got an email from Jeannine who asked simply, “What is the best inexpensive Bluetooth speaker?” Just like that, I flew into shopping mode—that thing I love to do because it brings me uncanny satisfaction. But here’s the deal: I’m not shopping for myself. I’m not spending my money or creating a bit of debt. I’m researching for Jeannine and that frees me from all of the personal negative stuff. I get to experience the joys of shopping that I love so much without any of the remorse or regret, guilt or shame. That’s authentic, lasting satisfaction. I love my job.