Want to Make Your Own Gift Baskets? Here’s Some Theme Ideas

Making your own gift baskets for the holidays can be an affordable way to give a nice gift.  The good think about making your own gift baskets is that you can create it as big/small, affordable/extravagant as you want.  You can create any theme depending on your recipient’s interest. Here are some themes to get the gears turning for your holiday gift giving.

wine basket stillwaters wine Want to Make Your Own Gift Baskets? Heres Some Theme Ideas

picture credit to stillwaterwine.com

1.  Car lovers Gift Basket theme:  Grab a bucket and fill it with things like windshield washer fluid, soft buffing clothes, armor all, travel mugs, whatever you think your recipient would like.  I even wrote a guest post for more specific car enthusiast gift baskets.

2. Tech lovers gift basket.  I know you’re probably thinking…”but tech is expensive”  but get a simple desk organizer basket and fill it with things like screen cleaner, ear buds, chargers, gift cards for app stores, etc.

3.  Craft Basket/Hobby Basket.  All ages love craft baskets.  For kids you can fill it with things like crayons, kid safe glue, pipe cleaners, drawing paper, kids safe scissors, etc.  For adults, if you know what they’re into it’s easy.  Someone who crochets might like some yarn, patterns, or crochet needles for instance.

4. Beauty lovers gift basket: Fill it with thinks like cotton balls, nail polish remover, nail polish, make up remover, lotion, tweezers, etc.

5.  For the Traveler: Gas station gift cards, travel mug, travel gear like travel pillows or refillable containers, or a travel magazine

6.  Book Lovers Gift basket: books (if you know what they like) book marks, gift card to a book store or amazon gift card if they have an Kindle, book lights, etc.

7.  Foodie Gift Basket:  This could really go a lot of ways depending on what they like and allergies.  You could do a breakfast theme with granola bars, single serve oatmeals, breakfast bowl, coffee mug etc.  You could do a chocolate lovers baskets with …chocolate of course, cocoa, cookies, etc  I could really go on and on here.

8.  Coffee lovers gift basket:  mug, powdered creamer, flavored coffee syrups, a bag/can of coffee, gift card to starbucks, etc.

Ok there’s a few ideas to run with.  Leave your ideas below!

Supporting Veteran’s This Veteran’s Day

I realize Veteran’s Day is a couple weeks away yet but it’s a good time to think about ways to helps support our country’s veterans.  Of course there are a number of charities to donate to but there are others ways to help too.

1.  Write a letter.  There are plenty of soldiers and veterans that appreciate friendly correspondence from home.  If you don’t know who to write to there are plenty of sites that can help you send it to a soldier who’d love some mail. Sites like anysoldier.com, AMillionThanks.org, and SoldiersAngels.org just to name a few.  Another option could be to contact local churches to see if any of their members are serving.

2.  Make a Care box for a soldier or veteran.  You can find guidelines for what to send on the sites for letter writing I listed above.  You can call your local veterans home to see if they accept donations for their residents.

3. Consider a nice gesture . Soldiers and veterans make sacrifices for our country every day from long periods of time away from family to putting themselves where many of us wouldn’t want to be to protect our country.  If you see  a solider on leave for example maybe consider offering to pay for their meal or something along those lines with a note of thank you.

4. Just say thanks for your service.  Take a minute to walk up to a veteran or soldier and tell them thanks, shake their hand, whatever your thing is.

Visit my guest post on ways to teach your kids about Veteran’s Day

Blog 007 1024x768 Supporting Veterans This Veterans Day


I know it’s early but I also wanted to take a minute to tell my hubby how I admire him for how far he’s come in life.  My husband is a veteran of the Iraq War and Kosovo.  He served for 6 years.

Trick or Treat Safety Tips

It’s that time of year again where our little ghosts and goblins will be scouring the neighborhood for all types of treats.  As a parent we want to keep out kids as safe as possible for Halloween.  Here are some tips to ensure the safest experience.

1.  Wear light clothing when possible.  I realize it’s not always possible I mean they don’t really make orange batman costumes and some kids just really want the black ninja costume. In that case there are plenty of items to help make your child more visible to traffic and YOU!

2.  Trick or Treat with your children.  You can make sure they cross the streets safely, help them determine which houses are ok to go to, help them up and down steps especially if it’s not well lit or they have a bulky costume, and make sure they don’t eat too much candy.

3.  Take a flashlight.  This can make you more visible to traffic, help you to see steps and bumps along the way, and perhaps even help your child if they’re frightened by some of the costumes.

4.  Check of alternative trick or treat locations.  If you’re not crazy about your kids roaming the town for candy or you want an even safer way to trick or treat check your paper or online for special trick or treats in your area.  Malls, churches, and schools will sometimes do their own trick or treat.  This year our school announced they are doing a trunk or treat in our local recreation park. These are becoming more popular.  A local church does trunk or treat every year in our area too.

5.  Check your child’s candy or look for special candy check places.  Go through your child’s candy and throw out any candy out of wrappers and that looks like it could have been tampered with.  In our area there is a local chiropractor that offers to x-ray candy hauls for free

6. Stay on the Main roads when possible.  Staying on a well lit busy area with your kids is a good idea.

7.  Make sure your child can see out of their costume.  It might seem like a no brainer but some of the costumes may be a little big or small.  Some masks just don’t have the openings that they should.  You can adjust things accordingly

Things to help make your child more visible to traffic and you!

 Trick or Treat Safety Tips

Hi-Lite – Lightweights Reflective Red Tape

Reflective tape is an easy way to make any costume visible. Just put some strips around the cuffs, legs back and or front of the costume and your child will be seen easily under headlights.

Hi-Lite – Lightweights Reflective Red Tape – $10.52, 5.07 shipping – Available at Amazon.com


 Trick or Treat Safety Tips

Quality – 100 8″ Glow Light Stick Glowstick Party Fun Bracelets Assorted Colors

Glow in the dark bracelets and necklaces are a fun way to make sure your child is seen anywhere.  It could even be incorporated into a costume for those rock stars, aliens, and other characters.

Quality – 100 8″ Glow Light Stick Glowstick Party Fun Bracelets Assorted Colors – $6.99, 5.49 shipping – Available at Amazon.com Marketplace


 Trick or Treat Safety Tips

Pod – Amphipod Vizlet Wearable Smiley Face LED Reflector Clip On

wearable reflectors are another fun way to make sure your child is seen. clip them to the costume and you’re on your way.

Pod – Amphipod Vizlet Wearable Smiley Face LED Reflector Clip On – $9.95, 1.99 shipping – Available at Amazon.com Marketplace


 Trick or Treat Safety Tips

DOMAGRON – Light-Up Canvas Halloween Trick or Treat Bag

How about a light up trick or treat bag?  They’re gonna need something to carry their treats anyway.

DOMAGRON – Light-Up Canvas Halloween Trick or Treat Bag – $7.99, 4.12 shipping – Available at Amazon.com Marketplace


 Trick or Treat Safety Tips

Buyseasons – Batman Brave & Bold Flashlight & Batarang Kit

Flash lights.  If your kids are anything like mine they love flashlights.  This great not only for visibility for cars but to help with footing when on steps and going through yards.

Buyseasons – Batman Brave & Bold Flashlight & Batarang Kit – $10.85, See Site shipping – Available at Fullfillment By Amazon


 Trick or Treat Safety Tips

AMSCAN – Electric Party Light-Up Earrings

For the girls..or guys..I’m not judging, you can get super cool light up earrings.  These ones are only $12 shipped!

AMSCAN – Electric Party Light-Up Earrings – $3.99, 7.95 shipping – Available at PartyCity.com

Our Trip to Valewood Farms


I’m not a fan of the weather getting cooler but I do love fall activities. Almost every year we try to pay a visit to a local farm in our area. That farm is always Valewood Farms in Loretto, PA.  Honestly there are farms a bit closer to us but the affordability, the activities, and of course the dairy store is a big draw for us.

For the wee little ones they always love the corn box.  It’s basically a big sandbox type area filled with dried corn.  They have buckets and shovels there for the kids.  My kids could spend an hour in there if I let them.

Valewood farms cornbox 1024x682 Our Trip to Valewood Farms


They change it up a little each year.  Add things, take things away, tweek things a little. Keeps it interesting.  They have a hayride that’s just $2 per person and the hayride last for a little over half an hour.  They take you over the whole farm. Show you an original home built a century ago by the family that started the farm.  They talk to you about the area and where they supply their dairy products.  They take you to the area where they milk the cows and you get to see baby cows too.

They usually have a haymaze set up for the little ones.  This year they changed it up a bit and made a hay enclosure.  A sort of hay playground if you will. It had a slide, a game, a big tire to climb through and more.

Valewood farms bowling 1024x682 Our Trip to Valewood Farms

valewood farms slide 1024x682 Our Trip to Valewood Farms


The older boys loved climbing on the hay bales and I got this really cool picture too!

valewood farms hay bale 682x1024 Our Trip to Valewood Farms


They had a corn maze too.  Normally the corn maze is fun.  It has fun farm trivia questions to help you find your way.  It has enough turns to make it interesting but not so many that the kids get scared or lost.  Unfortunately, the day we went it was extremely muddy.  A lot of the trail was up hill and I had the jogging stroller.  We were slipping and sliding in the mud. My youngest son did fall and land right on his but.  Our shoes and the bottom of our pants were a muddy mess.  We couldn’t even finish the maze because there was a BIG slope and I couldn’t get enough footing to push the stroller up so we had to turn around and go back out.  Oh well.  But I did get another cool pic of my middle son in the corn maze hamming it up. You can see how muddy the trail was in this pic too.

Valewood Farms corn maze 1024x682 Our Trip to Valewood Farms


The 2nd to  last stop for us is the pumpkin patch.  I love the fresh selection and the prices are so reasonable.  This year they had white pumpkins and red pumpkins.

valewood farms pumpkin patch 1024x682 Our Trip to Valewood Farms


What I  like about Valewood farms is that you don’t pay for the pumpkins by weight.  They had a sign up, wish I would have took a picture, but orange carving pumpkins were $5-$7 depending on size.  All white and red pumpkins were $4. Sugar pumpkins were $3 and little pumpkins were $2.  My boys actually really liked the white pumpkins because they were huge. Both my older boys pick a white pumpkin, my youngest son got an orange pumpkin and we got my daughter a little pumpkin.  My son wanted to weigh his pumpkin when we got home.  51 lbs!! No joke and it cost us $4 for a big fresh white pumpkin.

If you notice the cages in the back, they have farm animals that the kids could see up close: goats, turkeys, and chickens.  They also had a special area for a very special cow this year.  Baby Ben was born on the farm this summer.  Of course this is Steeler’s country.  Big Ben the quarterback for the Steeler’s..his number is 7 and well…let’s see if you can guess why they call this little guy Baby Ben:

Valewood Farms baby ben 1024x682 Our Trip to Valewood Farms


Do you see it? Do you see it?

We loaded the pumpkins into our vehicle after we paid for them then stopped in the ice cream shop.  We each got an ice cream cone with some fresh Valewood Farms ice cream.  My daughter got birthday cake, my youngest son and I chose the Rasberry Chocolate truffle, my middle son chose Teaberry, and My oldest son got Moose Tracks.

It was a chilly day but we enjoyed ourselves anyway.  We always love our trips to Valewood Farms. It’s become a yearly tradition.  Unfortunately their pumpkin patch is closed now with all the activities but they’ll do it again next year.  Hope to see you there!

For more reasons to visit your local farms, check out my guest  post 




The Childhood Gift That Stood Out In My Mind

This post is sponsored by Walmart.  Any opinions expressed are my own.

Holiday Guide 20141 The Childhood Gift That Stood Out In My Mind

Walmart Holiday Toyland is coming to a store near you.  With the hottest holiday toys available, it makes me think about one Christmas toy that really stands out in my mind…..

I still believed in Santa. It was an exciting time. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember exactly how old I was or even what year it was, but I remember that Christmas.  I’d guess I was about 7 years old, maybe 8.  My parents were early shoppers (as I found out).  The biggest thing on my Christmas list that year was a Barbie Dreamhouse.

I was the oldest of 4 kids.  My parents didn’t have a lot of money.  At the time I wouldn’t know not to ask for such a thing since, Santa brought that stuff.  I remember the one I wanted.  It was plastic: Red, white, and yellow.  It separated into 3 different pieces and had 6 rooms for Barbie and her friends.

I would say it was about a month before Christmas, I ventured into my parents bedroom.  I wasn’t  supposed to be in there by myself  but I guess that’s what made it more appealing.  I was snooping around, the closet door was cracked a little.  I noticed a colorful box in view.  I snuck over and opened the door further.  There was a big box, it was the Barbie dreamhouse.  I ran downstairs asking my mom excitedly why she had a Barbie Dreamhouse in her closet.  I got lectured for going in her room and she told me it was for my one cousin’s birthday.  I was confused because we didn’t usually buy presents for the cousins (my mom was the youngest of 10 kids so we had tens of cousins).  I was so disappointed that the Dreamhouse wasn’t for me.

Weeks went by and Christmas was finally here.  I woke up excitedly Christmas morning just like I did every Christmas morning.  My sister and I waited at the top of the steps.  I think my one brother was just a baby and I don’t believe the other one was even born yet. We ran downstairs and right there in the middle of the living room stood a Barbie Dreamhouse tagged for both my sister and I.  I was so happy and I played with that thing for years.  I remember having mixed feelings when my mom finally decided to to sell it in my teens.  Knowing what I know now, it must have took quite a lot of saving and deal scouting for my parents to buy that. I’m glad I did spend years playing with it.  In my opinion it was probably the best Barbie Dreamhouse ever.  Very solid, working doors and windows, you could move the sections to get at different things.  Maybe they aught to make it again.

My dad was able to dig up the actual picture for me of the year we got our Barbie House.  I was holding Peaches n’ Cream Barbie, remember her?

Christmas Barbie house gift1 The Childhood Gift That Stood Out In My Mind


Walmart Holiday Toyland is bringing you the hottest holiday toys to a location near you! Through the months of November and December you can visit one of these Walmart Holiday Toylands.  Click HERE to find the dates and locations near you. Has the child in your life been asking for a specific toy?  This is your chance to see the toys your kids want. You can even use the free layaway to make sure you get it that day.  I will be visiting my local Walmart on November 8 with my kids’ lists in hand to see the toys up close. Hopefully cross some toys off the list while I’m there.  What can I say, I’m an early shopper too!

Did you or someone you know have this Barbie house?  Do you remember your favorite gift as a kid?


 The Childhood Gift That Stood Out In My Mind