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Stores Now Offering Layaway Programs

It’s not easy being a consumer. In fact, it can be downright confusing because of all the payment choices.

First, you have your cash, your checkbook, credit, and debit cards. And then you have deferred billing, easy payments, skip-a-payment, nothing down, no payments, and the semi-popular deferred double-digit interest rates. And on top of all of that, the fine print. See what I mean? Confusion, pure and simple.

Farmer Holding a sepia tone Chicken in front of the Farm

 

Prehistoric consumers had it easy. Only one choice: chickens. They traded poultry for things they needed. The rules were simple: No fowl? No food, fuel, fun or futons!

Then along came the invention of currency. That gave consumers a second choice—one that caught on quickly since folding a chicken to fit neatly into ones wallet is messy.

A third option was born the day some unknown retailer came up with a creative payment plan, surely named in memory of the good ole’ chicken days: Layaway.

There was a time and not so long ago that every major retail store in the country allowed customers to buy merchandise on layaway. The item was placed in a backroom and customers could take all the time they needed to pay it off. Interest-free. And when they made the last payment, they took the item home.  Read more

Let Heaven and Nature Sing!

Forest-glade-covered with snow-sunny-Christmas-morning

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village where he worked in a carpenter’s shop until he was thirty. Then for three years, he was an itinerant preacher.

He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He did not go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where he was born.

He did none of the things one usually associates with greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.

While he was dying his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone and today he remains the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind’s’ progress.

All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned put together, have not affected the life of man on this planet so much as that one solitary life.

— James Allan Francis, 1864-1928

With Love and Peace from Our House to Yours

Here it is, the eve of the day we’ve been focusing on for so many weeks. I know how easy it is to get so caught up—perhaps even lost—in the hustle and pressures of the season with all of the preparations and activities, that we miss what really matters most.

As I write, the house is very quiet. It is nearly daybreak as the sky is turning from dark to barely light. Our family has arrived safely and soon breakfast will be on the table.

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Gifts are wrapped, stockings are hung, and the finish line is within sight. The grandchildren can hardly wait one more day!

I’ll be honest, I didn’t get all of my plans accomplished because as usual, I overplanned. But it’s enough. No regrets. We’re ready.

Now it’s time to relax and enjoy our family as we reflect on why we do this. It’s for the love and joy that brings us hope—the true meaning of this season.

Our hope is that today will in some way bring you closer to those whom you love and cherish most. And may the glorious message of joy fill your heart!

Love and peace,

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Traditions: The Glue the Holds Families Together

Family traditions are the rituals and practices a family shares that strengthen that family’s bonds and create lasting memories.

Multi Generation-Family-Praying-Before-Christmas-Meal

Traditions, those things we do much the same way over and over again, provide a source of identity,  comfort, and security. They reinforce family values. Kids love traditions!

Traditions can be elaborate and complex or simple but meaningful.

According to this study cited in this article from The Atlantic, the time we spend focusing on anticipation, experiences, and simply being together can have a profound impact on how much we enjoy life.

Traditions give families assurance that even in an uncertain and changing world, there are some things they can count on to always be the same.

The way I see it, anything you do in the same way at the same time, year after year becomes a tradition. Whatever it is, if you’ve done it once but plan to do it again, it counts as a tradition. 

Make a list of your family’s best traditions. Talk about them, treat them with a sense of respect and joy. Explore ideas for intentionally spending meaningful time together and then repeat often.

In time, your family traditions—especially those related to Christmas—will become trusted anchors in your children’s lives.

Read more

Cinnamon Rolls So Decadent, So Simple, it Might Be Illegal

There was a time that I felt compelled to rise early on Christmas morning to bake Cinnamon Rolls—my family’s breakfast item of choice on that very special day of the year.

Homemade cinnamon rolls

When I say early, I mean 3:30am. It takes hours for sweet bread dough to rise multiple times. And let’s just say that over the years, some attempts have been more successful than others.

Those days are gone. I’m done with that routine and not because I don’t love my family.

Now I sleep in until exactly 43 minutes before I want everyone to wake up to the smell of fresh, hot, decadent, perfect-every-time Cinnamon Rolls.

I may regret letting the cat out of the bag on this because they still think I’m a world-class Cinnamon Roll baker, but for right now, I’m excited to show and tell the most outrageously awesome food hack I’ve ever discovered. Read more

Make Memories and You’ll Give Gifts for a Lifetime

If you could use an injection of fresh ideas for how to make this Holiday Season meaningful for the children in your life, take a lesson from my friend, Connie Copeland. 

Family at Christmas opening gifts

Connie’s clever creativity allowed her and her husband to give their four kids and now her 13 grandchildren the four things kids really want for Christmas, even when money was tight:

  • Relaxed and loving time with family
  • Realistic gift expectations
  • Evenly paced holiday season
  • Reliable family traditions

When her kids were little, Connie would spread the excitement of Christmas throughout the month. She did that with little notes—one tiny note per child, per day.

Most days the notes were similar, such as:  Read more

2018 Holiday Gift Guide, Part 1—Mary’s Favorite Things

It’s here … the biggest gift-giving season of the year which kicked off with Black Friday,

One news site referred to yesterday as “Season’s Beatings!” That just breaks my heart when I consider what gift-giving is really all about—what a pleasant and joyful thing it should be—not retail chaos.

Today, with Black Friday in the rearview mirror and Cyber Monday right ahead, I’m releasing below the first of seven Holiday Gifts Guides 2018 that I have compiled for you. Maybe this will help to ease the stress.

I’m a practical gift giver, and I’m sure this year’s Guides will reflect that. I love thinking about the ways my recipient can use a gift—every single day, if at all possible. And it’s a big bonus if I can come up with something my giftees would not buy for themselves. And if I can pull off a big surprise, that’s the icing on the cake. Or maybe I should say the star on the tree!

Today’s Holiday Gift Guide features things that have made my life better in the past year. I’m calling it Mary’s Favorite Things. Then watch for Guides for Her, Him, Seniors, Foodies, Kids of all ages, and one for Anyone.

Note: Prices mentioned below are only approximations, as prices can change quickly. Please make your own independent verification.

I hope you have as much fun checking out this year’s Gift Guides as I’ve had creating them.

Happy shopping and stay safe out there!

marys-favorite-things

 

1. BLACK+DECKER Steam Iron

This is one amazing steam iron for the money. It gives me great results. It is comfortable to use and has enough heft to give a good press. The high steam rate blasts away wrinkles. Auto shutoff has saved my bacon on a couple of occasions.

2. Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker

This portable wireless speaker for iPhone, Samsung and more is just fantastic. It has 24-hour playtime, 66-ft Bluetooth Range (which I test to its limits frequently) plus a built-in mic. And the sound quality is amazing. Sometimes I wonder how I ever got along without a quality, affordable wireless speaker like this one.

3. Instant Pot Duo 6 Qt

It’s the most amazing thing—one kitchen appliance that replaces seven. That’s why it’s called Instant Pot Duo 6 Qt 7-in-1. The manufacturer has come out with bigger models that do more things, but this is the one I have, love and am certain that it is all I need. Right now the price is also super.

Read more

A Homemade Gift You’d Actually Love to Receive

Gifting friends, family, co-workers teachers and others with a jar of your own signature luxury hand and body lotion will definitely put you on the map. It’s that good. And what better time than this weekend to get a head start on Christmas gifts.

 

 

Not particularly crafty? No worries. If you can assemble, empty, stir and mix well, you’ve got what it takes to make dozens of these gifts start to finish in a single evening. And the best part? About $3.50 per gift, depending on where you buy the ingredients and containers.

 

 

Here’s the routine: Purchase the specific ingredients, mix them together, divide between your choice of small containers, apply a label or gift tag, embellish with a ribbon and there you go. Done and in no time flat.

To make this lovely hand and body lotion you’ll need:

Ingredients

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Tools

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Electric mixer or hand whisk
  • Gallon-size zip-type or another plastic bag

 

Instructions

1. Empty the five ingredients into the large mixing bowl.

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2. Using an electric hand mixer or whisk, whip together until well incorporated, about five minutes.

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3. Fill a large zip-type bag with the whipped lotion. Close the top. Using scissors, snip off a small portion of one of the bottom corners  to create a simple “piping” bag.

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4. Fill jars or containers of choice by gently squeezing the bag so the lotion extrudes from the snipped corner. I use these  4-oz. plastic jars in cobalt blue with black lids.

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5. Give your signature lotion a name. Create small labels or tags with your message of choice.

6. Embellish as desired.

That’s it. Beautiful, homemade gifts that will be so well-received because you have just created a very high-quality lotion. Because all of the ingredients except for the shea body cream are unscented or nearly so, your lotion will have a very light, subtle scent—certainly not overpowering or offensive. Simply lovely.

This recipe as stated, yields about 16 4-oz. jars of fine hand and body lotion. Your mileage may vary depending on how long and vigorously you whip the lotion. Be careful to not make it too fluffy. I find that no more than five minutes is ideal.

 

You may also enjoy:

When Holiday Debt Hangs On Long After the Gifts are Forgotten

Best Creative and Inexpensive Homemade Gifts!

12 Things You Can Do Now to Get Ready for Christmas

 


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