It’s not too late to order holiday cards and gifts. Save big!
Up to 50% off cards, magnets, address labels and calendars with code: HOLIDAY and link-
It’s not too late to order holiday cards and gifts. Save big!
Up to 50% off cards, magnets, address labels and calendars with code: HOLIDAY and link-
By Carol Cottrill, CNC
With food costs on the rise along with busy schedules we might be tempted to choose fast, cheap food loaded with fat and chemicals. My French twist on eating means you’ll enjoy delicious, healthy, real food prepared simply. Plus you’ll balance your time and diet and won’t break the bank.
Just the idea of eating the French way may seem intimidating and expensive. I’ll show you why it’s really quite the opposite.
Tis the Season
As the holidays approach our intentions are good…we think about inviting a few friends in to share some holiday cheer. After one glance at our bulging to-do list we chalk the idea up to a bout of temporary insanity and dismiss the thought. And in doing so, we miss out on the true essence of the season.
Entertaining at home is very common ritual in France and not the big fuss we Americans may imagine. The fact is, despite our notions to the contrary, the French are very unpretentious and do a lot less in the way of preparation and ceremony in order to socialize regularly with friends and family. In France the aperitif can be something as uncomplicated as popping open a bottle of champagne alongside a bowl of pistachios and olives. By keeping things simple you may be more inclined to open your home to friends and gather regularly.
Home cooking provides better control of food. The home-cooking tradition of the French delivers undeniable nutritional benefits. They understand that the more they do to prepare food from scratch, the greater their health will be. Plus they get the added reward of looking and feeling great. And if you eat at home regularly, you are likely to be eating significantly lower levels of preservatives, trans fats, sugar, and salt than your peers who mostly eat meals made in restaurants, delis, or fast-food joints.
But I Don’t Have Time to Cook!
It does seem that way, especially if the pantry and fridge are empty, so it’s really important to keep some basic items on hand. I interviewed many French women who told me that when they don’t have enough time to cook, they always have some pasta and a good tomato sauce in the pantry. One of my own pantry staples is a large can of clams and a box of linguine. I sauté the drained clams along with some olive oil and a tablespoon of butter for less than a minute. Add the cooked linguine to the pan, some freshly ground pepper, a bit of salt and some fresh parsley. Serve with a wonderful Parmesan cheese and hot pepper flakes (if you like it spicy) for a fabulous winter evening meal.
Pantry and Refrigerator Staples
You’ll get about seven servings from a typical box of pasta. At less than $2 per box, this translates to about 28 cents per serving.
Whether stewed, crushed or pureed, canned tomatoes are a cost-effective ingredient. You can grab a can of tomatoes at your grocery store for around a dollar. A 14.5-ounce can provides about 3.5 servings—about 28 cents per serving.
In France it’s common to eat a heavier lunch and a lighter dinner, which is a great idea for optimum digestion. A normal weekday meal for the French is something as simple as an herb omelet with a side salad. Here’s a little video from one of my favorite French chefs, Jacques Pepin on preparing a yummy herb omelet:
Eggs are loaded with protein. One egg will give you 11 percent of your recommended daily allowance of protein, with only about 80 calories. You can find eggs in your grocery store for around $1.50 a dozen.
There’s nothing worse than watching fresh (and expensive) produce rot in your refrigerator, especially when you’re on a budget. Frozen vegetables come to the rescue with a shelf life of several months in the freezer. A typical bag of frozen veggies offers you six to eight servings, at about 25 cents per serving. And we all know that vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber and full of vitamins.
Frozen veggies are a great addition to your whole-wheat pasta (above) in a pasta salad. Read on- they’re also great friends with beans and rice too!
Use brown rice as a side dish to beans (forming a complete protein), in a salad, as part of a stir-fry with your frozen veggies, or with soup using your canned tomatoes!
You can buy beans dry and in bulk, adding to the economic benefits. Choose from black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans and more. If you don’t want to buy them dry, pick them up in convenient cans. They’re still inexpensive — about 50 cents per serving.
Beans and rice are a nutritious, satisfying, speedy meal. Toss in some frozen veggies, maybe even some canned tomatoes, and you’re good to go. You can add beans to just about anything including soups and salads or just eat them on their own.
Carol Cottrill is a nutritional consultant with a taste for all things French and author of the book, The French Twist: Twelve Secrets of Decadent Dining and Natural Weight Management. In addition to being a regular guest on FOX 35 News and The Daily Buzz, she has contributed her expertise to CNN, Shape Magazine, Working Mother Magazine, sheknows.com and numerous others. Carol guides viewers and readers away from deprivation diets and instead encourages each individual to follow an authentic eating plan based on enjoyment, relaxation, balance and inner cues. She practices nutrition in New York City and lives in Rowayton, CT, with her husband, John, and two very spoiled dogs.
If you’re looking for a great stocking stuffer this holiday, try PortaPocket. I love these for just about everyone.
Busy moms-They can always use an extra set of hands, so allow them to carry something like their phone hands free.
Workout Lovers-For those who workout on the go it’s a great way to carry an id, some cash and a phone-just to be safe.
Travel Buffs-Keep your precious items under your clothes and out of sight of potential thieves.
Weddings and Graduations-These are events that don’t exactly leave you with a lot of space to carry things. Use the Porta Pocket under your dress and always have your items on hand.
Seniors-Love having a small pouch on them so they can use their hands for a cane, wheel chair or even just walking around.
The Pet Lover-If you have a doggie, you can always use a spot for those notorious bags and treats.
Porta Pocket has lots of sizes and other options on their site. Take a peek at the whole selection here: http://portapocket.com/index.php?main_page=index&zenid=dvqscpchnqido816uhc35qv3s6
You can also follow them on Facebook.
At just about every speaking engagement I attend and every time I take on a new client, I get asked if I’m “that organized”. The answer is yes. I was born this way and putting things into containers. I could go on and on, but instead I will show you my personal closet and what I have done to make it organized. It’s a reach in closet, a little under five feet wide and just a few feet deep. I need to tell you that because I’ve maximized every nook and cranny. I also want you to keep in mind that all of the organization solutions I’ve installed can easily be moved to another location when we move.
On the right hand side of the closet I added a hanging shoe rack. While it would ideally hold one pair of shoes per compartment, I have a few placed in each. I wear Toms or ballet flats usually so they are lightweight and small enough to easily fit a few in. In the sum me, my sandals occupy these spaces.
About 12 inches from the ceiling, I installed a shelf. It holds my rarely worn shoes (wedding, cocktail, etc). I also have some hats up there, my cowboy boots and so on. If I don’t have to access it frequently, I store it in a plastic container and get it out of my way.
Under the shelf I “installed” a set of lights. They click on with a button and they illuminate the closet so I can find what I’m looking for. They are just held onto the shelf with zip ties. Not glamorous, but it works and it cost $10.
I have a jewelry organizer hanging in between my clothes. I don’t put my really nice things in here but I do keep my “costume” jewelry, prayer beads, and so on. It helps keep it within sight so I can easily add it to an outfit.
I have one bar to hang clothes on. Part of it is shirt height and there are a few inches on either end of the car that allow me to hang long items.
On the left hand side I installed a hook. I use it to hang a belt organizer that in turns houses all my belts. Again, it’s not beautiful, but it does the trick and I can see what I have. Therefore, I wear what I have.
On the bottom of the shelf, I have one shoe shelf. I use this for my bulkier shoes, boat shoes, boots and sneakers. Some tall purses sit next to the shelf.
Under neath the hanging clothes, I have a few shelves of folded clothes. Tee shirts, long sleeve tees, and sweater all “live” here. I also have four drawers that hold all of my workout gear.
So as you can see, you can get creative and really make the most of a small space. The smaller closet size keeps me organized and it ensures I wear everything I have, I can see what I own and I don’t over do on shopping.
Everyone can be a little more organized. And you can help them! Give gifts that help your friends and family get organized this year! There are some very unique and fun products out there. Here are a few to give you some ideas for everyone on your list.
1. Whitey Board-For anyone who has a million papers every where (and who doesn’t?) Whitey Board offers movable and portable white board solutions for everyone in the family. I was able to take a peek at their note pads. There are 10 “pages” that are pre check boxed. I love these for taking to meetings and then bringing them back to your desk. Don’t use notepads and paper that will just end up in the trash. Kids will also love these for homework, chore lists and house hold charts. Since they come in a ten pack you can get one and share with the whole office or family. And, it comes with a marker! If you’re looking for a calendar to use for the whole family or the whole office, Whitey Board’s Weekly Whiteboard is perfect as well. All their boards can be affixed to the wall, your desk, etc. The options are endless and when you’re ready to move them, no damage is done to the surface. I love the concept and it’s super functional as well. These make great stocking stuffers and gifts for your co-workers. Take a peek at everything they sell here: http://www.whiteyboard.com/. They even sell full size wall White Boards! However, my favorite product by them is the Whitey Boards Notes. They are tiny Post-It note size white boards! How adorable and functional! I love them.
2. For the lady in your life who can’t keep their makeup straight (and clean!), the Beauty Butler is a great solution. Available in all sorts of configurations the Beauty Butler consists of a series of Velcro boards and dots that allow you to affix your makeup to small trays. These trays keep everything in place and clean. You can then store a tray in your desk, purse or store a set of trays in the Beauty Butler clear cosmetic bag. I love this for a student going to college who has limited space, or a girl who is just learning how to store her makeup. Of course, anyone who who needs to touch up on the go is a great recipient for this gift. It’s inexpensive too. Take a peek at all the trays, adhesive dots and bags available here. Take a peek at the picture below to see how the Beauty Butler does it’s magic. (Some assembly required.)
3. The Go Caddy is a travel pouch that solves the problem of what purse, bag or pouch to carry with you. It is a slender tote and water bottle holder that holds just enough. The bag is black so it avoids dirt, and goes with everything you might wear. The fabric is water resistant and durable too. It holds water bottles up to 1.5 liters. The front pocket has a velcro closure so you can tuck away items that should be out of sight. I like the back pouch. It has an elastic on it so it holds an item securely but you can grab it quickly. The strap is convertible and you can wear it over your shoulder or cross body. There is a clip on it as well to hold your keys. I love this bag to pack with you and then use when you are sightseeing. You can also slip a small camera into the pack! It packs flat when not in use. It’s great to use to and from the gym, to grab a coffee, to grocery shop etc. It’s great for busy moms who need both hands free. Buy the Go Caddy here.
4. The 18″ Shopper Tote by Ricardo of Beverly Hills is a great bag for moms who spend lots of time on the go. The bag is from Ricardo’s Sausalito Superlight 2.0 Collection and made of light weight material. It’s durable too! The color I received is a deep blue that is sophisticated and understated at the same time. It’s outside pocket allows you to grab your coffee card, phone, or keys quickly and easily. The separated inside compartments keep your items secure. The bag is big enough for a day at the beach and demure enough for a day at the office. The shoulder straps can be worn over your shoulder or you can hand carry the bag. It also comes in black and for under $50 (at the time I wrote this), it is a great gift for someone who could use a new bag. It’s luggage quality so you’ll have it for a long time Oh and it has a lifetime warranty. Ricardo of Beverly Hills sells a variety of creative and affordable luggage and bag options.
5. The GoStak is made by Blender Bottle. It is a stock of small containers that hold everything you could possibly think of; powders, vitamins, supplements, snacks, and even drink mixes. The stack of smaller containers snap together. Each container has a screw top that closes tightly. The containers are freezer safe, dishwasher safe and BPA free. The GoStak comes in lots of colors and configurations. You can mix and match the components. One thing I love is the handle that makes this easy to carry and easy to find in a bag. These are great to go to the gym. However, I think they are also great to go to the office. What a great way to pack healthy snacks for a full day of work and have everything in one spot. These are also great for kids to go to school and they are FUN for kids to pull apart and snap back together. These would make great gifts and stocking stuffers for anyone who wants to eat healthy or someone who is always on the go. Buy there on Blender Bottle’s website.
6. MJ’s Art Stamps’ Self Inking Address Stamp will make every day easier. This is a quick, easy and stylish way to make sure every piece of mail you send out is properly addressed. The adorable is 2 9/16″ x 1 1/8″. It is pre inked so all you have to do is stamp. It is quiet and doesn’t leave ink everywhere. It’s small enough to fit into your work bag or sit on top of your desk. The image comes out clear every single time. The modern and fresh designs they offer look amazing on business and personal mail. These will make your holiday card sending SO much faster! And kids love to stamp, so let them join in the fun! The stamp is good for 20,000 impressions. MJ’s Art Stamps are fully affordable, and they have LOTS and LOTS of designs you’ll love. Buy one for yourself and one for those on your shopping list. It’s a functional and thoughtful gift! Check out all of MJ’s Art Stamps on their Etsy Store.
7. WallPops are one of the most adorable organizational tools I’ve seen lately. These removable, and reposition-able dry erase dots can be mounted anywhere. These dots depict eight adorable animal images (dog, giraffe, elephant, seahorse, whale, poodle, cat and horse) and a day of the week. These are great for kids, or adults who like a little whimsy in their office space. These are wonderful as they provide an easy way to make lists, add to them and then, change them. The included dry erase marker is all you need. These retail for just $17.00 and are designed by Jonathan Adler.
8. If you know someone with a lot of glasses, Peeper’s Large Leather Eyeglass Display is perfect for them. The display is available in brown, or green and looks classic and sophisticated. This larger size holds 36 pairs of glasses. A smaller size is also available. The top tilts up so you can see your favorites and there are two drawers to store glasses and ensure they are dust free and protected from scratches. The case fits Peeper’s glasses, but you can add a few other pairs in there too, including sunglasses. This is a great gift for anyone who is losing their glasses constantly or has a problem destroying glasses. I love the cross between beauty and function. It also follows my principle of “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Take a look at all the options for this case (and glasses) on Peeper’s website.
9. Three by Three Seattle has a wide line of adorable, funky and functional organization supplies for your home or office. I love their magnetic boards. The white circular board shown here goes with every decor and holds your photos, cards, memos, notes to self, and so on. These are great for an entry way so you never forget permission slips, your library card or keys again. The magnets you can get for this make it even more adorable. They do have mini magnets that hold lots more than you would guess by their size. However, if you want to add a little personality you can go with their colored dot magnets, stars, arrows, flowers or even their doggie magnets! I love the mini dogs and the mighty dog holds LOTS of papers. These are affordable gifts to give and everyone can use a little more space to display their notes and treasures.
10. Know a kid, or a kid at heart, who needs a little help keeping track of their days? The At-A-Glance Minnie Mouse Planner allows you to write down your lists, appointments, and assignments in an adorably, and surprisingly sophisticated Minnie Mouse planner. This is adorable for someone who loves fashion, Disney or the moue herself
I also love At-A-Glace’s desk calendar (They come in a lot of colors, styles and calendar formats). It acts as a blotter and not only does it protect yourself, it serves as a large visual reminder of what you need to do and when it needs to get done. My dad has used one of these for decades and it has always proved effective. And, you can customize it with colored pens, highlighters and stickers! Get creative and love your calendar! As a matter of fact, use it with the Sarasa Retractable Gel Pen Set. They are perfect for color coding a family’s events and appointments. They come in a great plastic carrying case and the colors are vibrant and fun. Of course, they write smoothly and professionally. I love these pens as I can grab the case, throw it in my work bag and have a color for everything I need during the day on hand. If I want to write a personal note in a fun pink, perfect. And of course it contains the traditional colors of black and blue At-A-Glance has a lot of products. Enjoy looking at their website and knowing you’re buying holiday gifts the recipients can use to get and stay organized!
11. One of my favorite organizing tools is one of the oldest out there, the chalkboard. This updated version from Board Dudes has a wooden frame and a handy lip for holding chalk. It’s surface is smooth and easily customized with chalk. It is also easily cleaned! This is a perfect board for your entry way, office, or homework area. The larger size is perfect for creating a family calendar that can be color coded and easily updated by all member of the family. Chalk boards are also fun additions to events such as wedding showers, or even to use as a “thankful” board around the holidays. These are inexpensive, super functional and help keep everyone organized while having fun!
12. The Purse Perfector is great for the on the go women who loves to change bags and purses on the go. The Purse Perfector is a lightweight organizer that holds all of your necessary items. Instead of loading everything from one bag to another, you simply pick up the Purse Perfector, all its contents and you’re ready to go. The Purse Perfector can be used as one larger organizer or unzipped and used as two smaller organizers. It’s made in the USA and comes in a variety of colors.
13. Everyone loves sticky notes. Knock Knock takes it up a notch and makes those sticky notes not only useful, but adorable! Their To Accomplish Sticky Note packet container six pads of sticky notes that will meet all your needs. I often work with clients who have sticky notes everywhere. However, they have no idea what’s written on them or what they mean. The headings on these will help you make sense of your notes and keep track of your tasks. They are labeled To Do, To Buy, To Remember, To Delegate, To Ponder and To Put Off (use sparingly). These make great office gifts and perfect stocking stuffers! Another adorable item that everyone can use, is their Genius Pen. The pen is a high quality writing instrument with an adorable flair. From the grocery list to a new business plan, everyone needs a little genius in their lives! Knock Knock has an amazing array of organizing and office supplies as well as adorable gifts!
14. Lug’s bags have been a favorite of mine for years. They are adorable, durable and keep you organized no matter how much stuff you carry. One of their newest bags, the Paddle Boat Overnight/Gym Duffel Bag marries fashion and function. I tested out the bag in their sophisticated plum color. I love that there are handles for easy carrying as well as a cross body strap so you can be hands free. The bag has more features than I can count. I use this bag for over night trips. It’s always the perfect size for what I need and since it’s lightweight, I am never weighed down by the bag. Take a peek at this list of features:
Need even more organization? Try their Clearview Envelopes. They come in 1 small and 1 large envelope per pak and since they are clear you can see what’s inside. These are great for coupons, receipts, cosmetics, kids’ supplies, school supplies, and even snacks. They are lightweight too and water repellent. They are also easy to wipe down when the time comes. These are a great stocking stuffer too!
15. Nice brand makes the most adorable cord organizers you will ever see. They not only keep your cords in order, they help you identify your cords in a sea of others that look alike. Their cords are made for iPhones, iPads and even minis. They are colorful, durable and effective. I love these for travel, use in coffee shops, and even at home. These are affordable, fun and perfect for anyone who has electronic. (Who doesn’t!) Take a peek at everything they offer. Their adorable fishy designs and whimsical creations will delight you while they organize you.
16. Have a lot of recipes and no way to organize them? Gallery Leather’s Recipe Organizer comes in a variety of colors, holds a LOT of recipe cards and even has places of you to record recipes you don’t have on cards. The best part is that everything is protected by plastic sheets and you can even sort your recipes by category (soups, appetizers, desserts, etc). AT just $34 this is an elegant and useful gift for anyone who wants to make meal time a little bit easier. It’s beautiful and functional! What a perfect hostess gift!
Gallery Leather also sells a variety of journals. Their leather covers make them durable, beautiful and perfect for anyone who is on the go. They are great stocking stuffers and are as affordable as they are adorable. Oh and all of these items are made in Maine!
*Please note we received samples of some of these items in order to test them out. We donated many of the samples. Some, we tried (chocolate and candies in particular to be able to depict the quality.) Please feel free to email email@example.com with questions.
Everyone knows a pet lover. Everyone has a furry little family member in their lives that they need a little gift for. Here are some of my favorite pet goodies to share this holiday season.
1. If you think that once you’ve seen one dog toy you’ve seen them all, you’re wrong. Pride Bites dog toys are an all in one toy that are great for any situation. The toys are adorable. My doggie and I tried out Stripes The Tiger. My dog is about 30 pounds and sometimes toys are a little too big for her mouth. This one was perfect because she should easily grab onto it. She was able to pick it up off the floor and the ground with no trouble at all. The toy is made from durable foam that doesn’t lose its shape. The outside is made of fleece that is tear proof. (Tug proof up to 55 pounds). I love that this toy can go inside or outside. I no longer have to watch the dog like a hawk to ensure she doesn’t take her toy outside. This toy even floats! I love that its a great option to keep in the car for the spur of the moment game of fetch. So after it gets dirty, you can throw it in the washing machine! Its durable, lightweight and of course, it squeaks! These are great toys for dogs of any size. They are different than anything you’ve ever seen or tried before. You, and your dog will love them. Oh and this adorable penguin is perfect for the season!
2. Up Country makes more than adorable leashes and collars. Their Best Friend Holiday set includes made in the USA handcrafted dog treats. They are even shaped into cute shapes like stars and bones. My doggie took a few seconds to break them up, but loved them! And she’s pretty fussy with treats. The toy is soft and sweet. It’s made of cuddly fleece and inside it has a squeaker AND a crinkle effect. I gave this to my dog and she decided it was her new best friend and she even brought it in the car with her. It’s so well made that it hasn’t come apart, even with a lot of play. And the toy, is also wearing an Up Country collar. This kit makes a great hostess gift! They have other great holiday items too such as catnip toys, collars, and leashes.
3. P.L.A.Y.’s Wobble Ball Puzzle is cute and fun for your dog. If you have a dog that gets bored easily this is a great option. The toy is made of two pieces. The bottom is rounded so it wobbles. The top is a cone that has some openings so that when your dog plays with it and wobbles it around the room, they are rewarded with treats. The dog and pumpkin figurines stop treats from just popping out too easily. Oh and the fact that both parts are dishwasher safe is priceless! P.L.A.Y. also sells plush toys as well as some really cozy and cute dog beds. My doggie loves it!
4. Fromm dog food is a great holiday treat for your dog. (They also have cat food!) Fromm uses a low temperature to bake their food so nutrient degradation is minimal. Its all processed in the same plant too so your concerns about contamination. My dog is super active and she needs good nutrition. She’s also a fussy eater. She loves Fromm food and its flavors. Fromm’s food comes in lots of great flavors such as Chicken a la Veg, Pork and Applesauce, and Beef Frittata Veg. We recently tried Pork and Peas. My dog likes it so much I get away with passing this off as a treat! You can take a look at their whole line of products here on their website.
5. EzyDog’s Neo Collar one of the most versatile collars you’ll find. It is made of durable neoprene with an external layer of nylon webbing. The collar is flexible, easy to clean, and lightweight. It also dries quickly for those swimming doggies. I love the D ring that’s strong for leashes and holding onto ID tags. I also love the reflective piping that surrounds the collar so we are visible in low light from any angle. The collar comes in lots of colors and sizes to fit any doggie in your life. Get your furry friend a new collar for the New Year!
6. Have pet odors? Get a candle from Jenny Bean Beautiful’s Etsy Store. Their candles are handmade with eco friendly soy wax. The scents are custom blended and smell amazing, but not over powering. You can expect this candle to burn for at least 40 hours and when it’s all gone, you can recycle or reuse the glass jar it came in! These make great gifts for anyone who loves their pets but not necessarily their odors. Check out their whole selection and order a few.
7. Konalu’s City Lead is one of the most versatile leashes I’ve had the pleasure of using. The leash is made of a thick nylon webbing that is durable and the colors it comes in, are fashionable. What this leash does that others don’t is it changes length with a push or pull of a quick release buckle. It’s easy and quick to do. This leash is the one you need for every situation. If you’re walking in the city and want to let you dog have space, let it out. If you then hit a farmer’s market and want your doggie a little closer, pull it tighter. It’s that easy and simple. The leash can be worn across your body or around your waist when not in use. And, the leash has a quick release lever that even allows you to tie your dog to a branch, pole or other stationary object. I love the reflectivity of the leash as well. It’s a great gift for the dog lover and get one for yourself! It’s the one leash you’ll use over and over again!
8. If you want to get the pooch in your life something different every month, consider PoochPax. The service delivers a box full of toys and treats to your door every month. I received a box and it had three toys and three packs of treats. I rationed everything out so my doggie had a little bit of new things at a time. However, for the dog that gets bored easily or destroys toys quickly, this is a great gift! And it’s clutter free! You can choose from a one, three or six month plan and you can gift it to someone too. Choose the right PoochPax for your dog based on their size.
9. Quaker Pet Group has some of the neatest dog toys out there. Not only do they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, their Hear Doggie technology saves you from having to hear that famous doggie toy squeak. The squeaker inside can be hear by your dog, but not you! How awesome is that? Their toys all have Chew Guard Technology. It’s an inner mesh that prevents your dog from chewing through the toy. The seams are also reinforced so you don’t have any stuffing accidents. These toys are fun and creative and you can find them in everything from a martian to a whale. My doggie loves their Iguana. It’s a little big for her 35 pound frame but she loves carrying it around, shaking it and pulling on its tail and legs. Despite all of this, iguana is in great shape and has not ripped or torn at all. Quaker Pet Group also has pet care products. From toothbrushes to a really neat infrared massager, you can pamper your pet the way they want to be.
10. Pioneer Pet Group has a line of supplies and gifts that your pets will love. They pamper them just a little bit, and everyone’s pet deserves that. Their stainless steel Raindrop Water Bowl provides your pet with constantly flowing filtered water. My dog will always choose flowing water over a bowl. The cats in my house do too. The fountain is silent, easy to clean and assemble, sophisticated and holds 60 oz of water so you’re not filling it constantly. This is a great alternative to fountains that are plastic and don’t filter water for your pet. This is a treat for them every day.
The Bootsie Combination Scratcher is the premier scratcher for the cat in your life. You can move it to wherever they are scratching. It doesn’t shred like cardboard options and it’s “feet” allow it to stay in place. You can even mount it to a wall if you’d like. When I put this down for my cats, I was shocked at how quickly they all gravitated towards it and wanted to play with it. It matches any decor as well and doesn’t look like a cat toy. This is a great gift for the furry felines in your life.
Tiny Prints is my absolute favorite place to get holiday cards. Use all those digital photos you have done nothing with and share them with your friends and family. Order early to avoid stress and so you can take your time in sending them out.
It’s that time of year again. Gift buying time. And although most of us dread it, it doesn’t have to be that way. I challenge you to change the way you think about shopping. This year focus on gifts that give something a bit different. I’m going to review and tell you about presents that are good for the Earth, good for you, or avoid clutter.
Clutter free gifts is the term I call things that can be experienced, eaten, consumed or used up. It can also extend to things that are very useful. So this year, I’ve collected some unique ideas I hope you’ll love.
1. Everyone uses olive oil in their cooking. It’s one of the most universally used items in the kitchen. So tis holiday, instead of bringing a bottle of wine that will probably sit on someone’s shelf and collect dust, why not bring a bottle of gourmet olive oil? I was able to try out a bottle of olive oil from the OliveOilLovers.com and it was amazing. They have so many choices on their website it is shocking. You can sort by type (extra virgin, infused, etc) or the country where it was made. I love the idea of giving olive oil as a gift to anyone who loves to cook, wants to be healthy or loves to try new things. They are an affordable gift to order at the last minute or have on hand during the holidays. Take a peek at their whole selection.
2. Regardless if you are looking for a gift to give or something to bake for those in your family with food allergies, Mina’s Purley Divine Mixes will be your life saver. These mixes come in a variety of flavors and types. I was lucky enough to be able to try out the gluten free bread. I made it quickly and easily, let it rise and baked it. I felt as if it were no real effort at all. The end result? Amazing, warm, home made gluten free bread. Try all of the mixes for those in your family who need a little something special to take care of their allergies or health. I am going to order some for a dear friend who suffers from lots of food allergies. It is so hard to find things that taste good and are good for you! If you love pizza, but can’t have gluten, Venice Bakery‘s pre made crusts are perfect. They arrive in vacuum packed containers so you only have to open one at a time. They make pizza making easy-just open add sauce, cheese and toppings and bake. They come in a variety of flavors, sizes and options and they stay fresh in your pantry for a while. These are a great option for a busy family who is wants to eat healthy or have some allergies.
3. If you’re looking for all natural bath products, look no further than Colorado Aromatics. They have amazing, all natural, cultivated skincare. I found them after looking for something that a friend who has allergies could use without worry. The scent is amazing. The Lavender Gift Set is beautiful from the second you open up the box it comes. In the scent is powerful, but soft and so relaxing. The products are made with natural ingredients and made through time tested processes. The founder of the company is Dr. Cindy Jones, a bio chemist and herb farmer. These products are a great price point to invest in and if you have an extra after the holidays, keep it for yourself
4. One of my new favorites and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to live without again, is MixMyOwn. Their service allows you to custom make your own cereal. The ingredients available range from super healthy, to gluten free, to uncommon. There is truly something for everyone. I’m going to warn you, once you sit down to create your own mix, you are going to spend at least an hour. There are so many choices and so many things to consider. I finally came up with a blend I love; freeze dried strawberries, cinnamon, almonds, mini marshmallows, gluten free whole grain oats, and gluten free corn flakes. For all of this you’d except MixMyOwn to be really expensive and it isn’t. Prices vary depending on your mix ins. However, I was able to get a pound of my mix for about $10. The mix showed up on my doorstep in just a few days and I dove right in. If you can’t make up your mind or want to use this as a gift for someone, purchase one of their pre mixed selections. This is a great idea if you have guests coming over for the holidays with dietary restrictions, or you want to have something really special on hand. It’s a great gift to give someone too! Oh and if you can’t remember what you put into your custom mix, just scan the QR code on the back of your package. I love that!
5. New Leaf Chocolates brings the “Of The Month Club” to a great new level. Their Chocolate of the Month club delivers hand selected, premium chocolate to your door (or the recipients’ door!) for three months, six months or nine months. You can select organic dark, dark or mixed milk and dark. I was able to try some of their gourmet chocolates and they were unique, delicious and high quality. This is a great way to give someone a gift that will cheer them up every time it arrives. It’s also a great way to try out new chocolates that you likely wouldn’t be exposed to other wise. The curators are constantly striving to find unique chocolates that will delight. As of the time I am writing this, they had over 150 different varieties. Don’t want a subscription? You can visit their site and buy single bars anytime.
6. One Love Organics offers an amazing line of organically made beauty care products. They are created with all natural ingredients, sold in adorable and recyclable containers and smell amazing. The Skin Savior is my new best friend. The Beauty Balm is a sold balm in a pot. It’s made of plant oil, mango butter and extracts. You can use this as a waterless cleanser. Just wipe it on, rub it in and wipe it off. Your skin is left feeling cleansed and moisturized. I love using this after a run before I run errands or head to coffee with a friend. You can also use this to tame fly aways, moisturize your skin or create custom make up. A little pot goes a long way. One Love Organics’ canvas cosmetic bag states simply on the front LOVE.
It’s adorable, eco friendly and the perfect gift wrapping for their products. This an eco friendly gift from top to bottom!
7. Taste Guru is the perfect gift for the gluten free eater on your list. Every month they deliver a box of goodies to your door, filled with gluten free goodness. At first I thought it was going to be all snack food. However, the box I received has breakfast bars, popcorn, wraps (for sandwiches), soup and even a whole meal kit in a box! It’s a great way tot try new products at a fraction of the cost of buying them in a health food store as well. You can gift boxes for three or six months or even a year. Taste Guru even had a gluten free magazine to help you get creative on your own. Take a peek at what a box looks like and click here to sign up.
8. Nature Box has been my saving grace during a very busy fall season. Every month they deliver five full size packages of healthy snacks to your door. Not only do you get the knowledge that what you are eating is healthy, you have variety and inventory delivered without leaving the house! Their snacks are free from all of the stuff that comes in traditionally packaged snack foods. This makes a great subscription service for a busy office worker, a mom who is always on the go or a college student. I work from home and love a little fun being delivered to my door every month. Visit their website to view their subscription options. And yes, you can cancel at any time.
9. One of the biggest problems families have in meal planning is not knowing what to cook. Once a Month Meals solves that. They provide brand new menus each month to keep you organized. You choose the meal plan you are interested in (gluten free, diet, traditional and more!) and they send you multiple meal and snack options. The ingredients are easy to obtain and there is no gourmet grocery store needed. These are meals you can cook with little time, limited cooking skill and get it done during the week. The subscription plan is well worth the cost. It will pay for itself by skipping eating out one meal! Take a peek at all their options here. This is a great gift for the new cook, busy mom or dad or someone who wants to eat healthier.
10. Mary Kay offers some amazing gift sets. Their Satin Hands set is a three step system that gets your hans the softest you have ever felt them. There is an exfoliator, a moisturizer and a final moisturizing step that are super functional as well as luxurious. You will love this system so much you’ll want one for yourself. I have bought these for lots of people over the years and love it for myself too. This is a perfect teacher gift or gift for someone whose tastes stump you. Order the Satin Hands kit here.
11. Fudge at First Sight is an amazing, consumable gift that fits everyone. Their fudge is available in a number of varieties and sizes. These are great party favors to gifts to send a loved one who lives far away. I tried dark chocolate peanut butter fudge and it was amazing. The little box it arrived in had an adorable bow and holiday decoration. The fudge was fully intact and was pre cut and separated into little cups. If you don’t have time to bake and want a lot of complements, get some Fudge at First Sight for your holiday party! Order early and they will ship for you!
12. Simple Scents by Keisha is an amazing clutter free gift. Their hand poured soy wax candles are just the right size for giving. These are made of soy, a renewable resource, burn longer and produce less soot than traditional candles. Their scents are amazing, but not so strong you will be over powered. They have lots of scents ranging from traditional vanilla to the more unique campfire. They are very affordable and perfect for giving! Get a few extras for teacher gifts, mail carriers, as well as hostess presents. Get a discount when you buy a bunch and have them on hand to give at any time!
*Please note we received samples of some of these items in order to test them out. We donated many of the samples. Some, we tried (chocolate and candies in particular to be able to depict the quality.) Please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
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