Thank You Notes: Never Out of Style

In these high-tech times when text-messaging and email are the preferred method of written communication, it might not have even crossed your mind to ask this important question: Do I have to send a thank you note when someone gives me a gift?

In a word, yes. It’s right, it’s proper and it’s good for you. We may be frugal, but we’ve got class.

Thank You Notes

Some rights reserved by daBinsi

It is not difficult, nor should it be time-consuming, to write a simple, heartfelt note of thanks in response to a gift or other act of kindness. Here are the elements of a well-written thank you note:

1 Greeting. Keep it simple. “Dear Aunt Mary…” works well. Or use another salutation that would roll easily off your tongue, like “Hi,” or “Greetings.”

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A Lavish Gift Exchange

When our boys were only toddlers, we and our best friends, who have three children just about the same ages as our boys, decided that we would have a Family Christmas Party early in December. We called it that even though the two families were not technically related. We invited two sets of grandparents and one other older couple as well.

large family handing gifts to each other during a christmas dinner

Our common bond? Five adorable kids and all the grown-ups who love them. Everyone dressed up and the children performed their current talent. We had such a great time that we decided to make this Family Christmas Party an annual event.

That first year there were a few gifts—mostly small things for the children. But somehow over the years, the gifts grew in both quantity and quality. By the time this event passed the thirty-five-year mark, four of the five babies were married with babies of their own. Lots of kids!  Two grandparents had died causing the family dynamic to change tremendously. But still the Family Christmas Party went on. And every year the problem would arise: What to do about gifts?

I give you this background so you can fully appreciate what happened that one year.

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20 Remarkable Ways to Use Blue Dawn Outside the Kitchen

Take a look under the sink where you keep your cleaning products. See a bottle of Blue Dawn Dishwashing Liquid? Well, say “Hello” to a very versatile and surprisingly multi-purpose household product.

Beautiful, blue dawn over a lake and mountains.

Original Blue Dawn, a product of Procter & Gamble was introduced in 1972. Since then it has gone through several tweaks, changes and upgrades so that today we see a number of varieties including Dawn Ultra and Dawn Platinum, to name just a few.

My research tells me that the Ultra version is highly concentrated; Dawn Platinum contains enzymes to help break down tough, cooked on foods and that “original” refers to the scent from the original 1972 product, which is still available if you know where to look.

Does any of this matter when it comes to the amazing ways Dawn can be used so effectively outside the kitchen? Probably not. But does the color matter? I can’t prove it, but I think it does. And if it has “Ultra,” 2X or 4X on the label, it’s highly concentrated so you can use less.

Here’s the bottom line: If it’s Dawn and it’s blue, you can count on it to be an amazing product with tons of very effective if not ingenious uses!

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Gifts from My Kitchen: Bacon Jam

When the holiday season arrives, the best gifts just might be from your kitchen. And when those gifts are extra decadent, well that just makes them even better.

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A couple of years ago I got the crazy idea to take my homemade gifts of food beyond cookies, cakes and pure vanilla extract to bacon. Seriously. More specifically Bacon Jam.

Yes! And I have to say that with all the challenges you’ll discover as you read to the end, Bacon Jam is quite possibly the best holiday gift ever. I say that because it’s what local friends and family clamor for.

Bacon Jam

  • 1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces (note 1)
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (note 2)
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, or less to taste
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup (the real deal, please)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

Note 1: I’ve tested substituting bacon crumbles for bacon and wasn’t thrilled with the result. Your results may vary, which means crumbles are certainly an option.

Note 2 : May substitute apple cider vinegar for all or part of the balsamic vinegar.

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The first step is to cut the bacon crosswise into one-inch pieces and cook them in a large skillet, stirring occasionally until the fat is rendered and the bacon is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

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

Gift-giving is surely on everyone’s mind as we head into the final weeks before Christmas. Giving gifts is a wonderful holiday tradition—one in which I participate fully because it brings me so much joy.

Three generations family opening Christmas Gifts and New Puppy!

Recently, I opened my email box to find a really nice message from a reader looking for help with gift suggestions for her husband’s 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.

I accepted the challenge 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, it dawned on me that over the past weeks, we’ve hit on gifts for kids, teens and even gifts baskets. But what about moms and dads? Read on and you’ll see we’ve got that covered there, too, just in case you’re behind the eight ball and need quick, reliable suggestions. It’s not too late, but you have no time to waste.

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The Case for Quartz Countertops

In a recent post, I suggested to a reader that quartz countertops would be a good choice in her quest to find the most durable and easy-care option, because quartz doesn’t stain, doesn’t require any kind of sealant and cleans up like a dream. And, I said, quartz is cheaper than granite.

Beautiful white kitchen with gray quartz countertops

In no time, I received this email response:

I was in the kitchen and bath remodel business for over 30 years. I worked with laminate, granite, and quartz. The quartz countertops do not perform better than granite.

I had complaints all the time for staining. Also you cannot set anything hot on quartz because it leaves a ring.

One more correction you need to make is that quartz is definitely NOT cheaper than granite!! I know from experience. Mary Lou

It took only a few hours in research mode for me to realize that Mary Lou is right; I was perhaps too general in my response. Here’s what I’ve learned.

There’s quartz and then there’s quartzite. They’re often confused, but not the same. It’s important to know the difference.

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Ask Me Anything: Bath Mat Repair, Wood Cleaner, Keurig Safety

Don’t miss the FLASH DEAL* on our Best Inexpensive™ Stick Vacuum. You will need the coupon code which follows this post.

Got a slippery throw rug? A bathmat that’s lost its backing after just one too many trips to the clothes dryer? Today’s first reader can certainly identify.

I’ve got good news for both of you—something you may have already that’s sitting on a shelf in the garage.

Mary M. asks: Is there any way to rescue throw rugs that have lost their rubber backing? They are no longer safe on the floor when they slip around, but the tops are in perfect shape. I hate to throw them out. There must be some kind of adhesive backing available to buy or make.

There is. In fact, you have a couple of options:

To Repair: To give a bath mat or other type of area rug some traction to give it a new lease on life, flip it over, and apply lines of acrylic-latex caulk every 6 inches or so. Once dry, you can safely use that rug again; the rubbery strips of caulk will hold it in place.

Repair area rug rubber backing with vinyl-latex caulk

To Restore: Another option is an excellent product, Fiber-Lok Non-Skid Rug Backing. You may be able to find this locally at select Staples, Joann and Walmart stores, and also online at Amazon. It comes in size options of pint, quart, and gallon. From my research, Amazon offers the best price with the added benefit of Prime shipping on the pint- and quart-size options.

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Gift Solutions in a Basket

Don’t miss the FLASH DEAL* below and the Everyday Cheapskate exclusive coupon code to get a huge discount on our Best Inexpensive™ Stick Vacuum.

Gift baskets are a terrific gift solution for an individual on your gift list, or for an entire family. The first step is to pick an appropriate theme tailored to the recipient(s). While packing the contents of your gift basket into a real basket is traditional, consider any appropriate container like an attractive bucket, bowl or box.

You can spend as little or as much as you like filling the basket. The possibilities are endless. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

Beautiful Christmas gift basket filled with edibles

Movie Night Basket. Fill a large bowl or basket with family appropriate DVDs, iTunes Gift Card, microwave popcorn, theater-sized boxes of candy and bottles of soda.

Party of Two Basket. Boxes of dry pasta, a jar of spaghetti sauce, (homemade would be nice), Parmesan cheese, breadsticks, candlesticks and CD of classical Italian music.

Christmas in a Box. Especially thoughtful for someone living alone, send along a tabletop tree, a string of garland, a tree topper, lights and a box of ornaments. Include a CD of Christmas carols to be played while decorating the tree.

Bookworm Basket. Fill a basket with a few books, a coffee mug, packets of hot chocolate, instant coffee or tea, a tin of cookies and a pillow.

Letter Writer’s Basket. Assorted greeting cards, postcards, stationery, postage stamps, pens, pencils, return address labels.

Gift Wrap Basket. Curling ribbon, wrapping paper, gift enclosure cards, an assortment of gift bags, transparent tape, scissors, gift bags, tissue.

Coffee-Lover Basket. Coffee (beans or ground), coffee mugs (love these initial mugs), to-go coffee cups with lids, sugar creamer stir sticks, homemade sweet treat (like Biscoff Cookies).

Snow Day Survival Kit. Hot chocolate mix, mini-marshmallows, Sugar Cookie Mix, cookie cutter(s) plus, board game, puzzle and or deck of cards, kids’ book like the classic, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

Ice Cream Party Basket. Fill a basket with ice cream supplies including sprinkles, waffle cones, a new ice cream scoop; toppings like hot fudge and salted caramel sauce, a can of whipped cream, a jar of maraschino cherries, a big bottle of root beer, plastic spoons and straws.

Related: Gift Baskets for the Tremendous Cooks on Your Gift List

Golfer Basket. Fill a basket with golf tees, golf balls, a small towel, subscription to Golf Magazine with a copy of the current issue, a new visor or hat or gift card for favorite Pro Shop.

Gardener Basket. A selection of hand gardening tools, seed packets, great pair of gloves, wide brim sun hat.


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Thank you EufyLife!

Reminder: Amazon does not allow links in email, which means any Amazon links above will take you directly to the corresponding blog post from this email, where you can access those links directly. There are affiliate links in this post. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read more here.

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