I saw it on Facebook and it made me laugh out loud. I want to use this in the invitations to our next Dinner Party. I’m sure everyone will know it’s a joke, right?

Now that I think about it, I’m not sure. Could be a touchy subject, I suppose.

I must admit that the humor of this meme quickly faded once I thought about it for awhile. People staring at their phones. It’s becoming the new normal.

And not just for big people. Little people are catching on to this pasttime, too.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against smartphones. I have one myself, although 99% of the time I don’t think about it and have no idea where it is; the other 1% I’m in a panic because I’m just sure I’ve lost it.

The thing about kids and electronic devices with screens is that it becomes an isolating factor. Kids check out, failing to engage emotionally with others or with their environment when they have an electronic device in hand.

Doctors are urging parents to keep smartphones and laptops out of their kids’ bedrooms, and limit the time they text and tweet. An influential pediatricians group says parents need to know that unrestricted media use can have serious consequences.

All of which brings me to my 2017 Gift Guide: Toys for Kids for ages birth to 8 years, and beyond (you knew I’d get there sooner or later).

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I may know what you’re thinking: Father’s Day? What! When? The answer is yes, Sun., June 18. But don’t panic. You still have more than a week to make it a great day for the Dads in your life!

If there’s one thing I know about Dads, it’s this: They like cool stuff—gadgets, electronics, powerful things. And if a gift is slightly sentimental? That’s a good thing, too.

1. Outdoor Security Camera. This 24/7 live video 130° wide-angle view and all-glass lens will let the man of the house look after home in crisp 1080p HD, day and night. It’s weatherproof and has built-in speaker and microphone. Because it is hardwired, no worries about replacing batteries. Give Dad peace of mind with this cool yet affordable state-of-the-art gadget.

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Every year about this time, the age-old question comes up to baffle lots of people: Practical or sentimental? The answer of course depends on your mother.

Let me assure you that many of us (and yes I am one) really do love and adore well-thought out, practical gifts—even a fabulous vacuum cleaner. Or the latest kitchen gadget, tool or device we’ve been dying to have.

Then there are others of us who are downright insulted by practical gifts on Mother’s Day. We’re the sentimental type who love a beautiful bouquet of flowers, plaque or wall hanging that is so lovely that it brings tears to our eyes.

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Let me break this to you gently: Valentine’s Day is next Thursday. 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?

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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.

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!

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.

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 provide therapeutic relief to the wrist.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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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. Read more

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.

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