Last minute Gift Idea for the Kids: Girl Gourmet Delectable Sweets Product Line

I can’t tell you enough how much fun this was – sitting with the girls, watching them create jewelry and cakes, and then eating all the goodies afterwards – YUM!!

Girl Gourmet Bead Kit Product Review

I was given the wonderfully fun opportunity to try – not one, but two Girl Gourmet products from JAKKS PACIFIC. Every moment the girls and I spent creating these delicious yummies were priceless. They thanked me for being a “reviewer” and then sent out a huge THANK YOU to Janis (JAKKS PACIFIC) and Kate (Life Love Beauty) for the wonderful products the girls were able to take part in reviewing.

The girls, for years, have been asking me to get them the typical “kid bakery” kit that you can normally buy at the local super store, but unfortunately it never happened.  So needless to say, Girl Gourmet Bead Kit Product Reviewwhen they received the Girl Gourmet Cake Bakery and the Girl Gourmet Sweets Candy Bead Studio in the mail, it was all they could do to stay calm and “grown up” about it. I literally had to tell them to stop screaming a time or two because their voices were SO LOUD. I was honestly afraid the neighbors would think I was beating my kids or something.

Yes, they were filled with tears of joy, screams, and laughs. I swear it took me forever to set everything out. I even think the most agonizing moment of the “review”, for the girls, was sitting there waiting for me to set out the kits and take the pictures – I couldn’t help but laugh inside a few times.

So, without further adieu…

Girl Gourmet Bead Kit Product Review

Girl Gourmet Bead Kit Product Review

Girl Gourmet Bead Kit Product Review

Girl Gourmet Bead Kit Product Review

Girl Gourmet Bead Kit Product Review

Girl Gourmet Bead Kit Product Review

Let me begin by sharing my thoughts on the Girl Gourmet Sweets Candy Bead Studio, since this was the kit we tried first.

Girl Gourmet Bead Kit Product Review

Where to begin… candy, candy, and more candy, that’s where! This kit is filled to the brim with candy galore. From the necklace string (candy) to the beads (candy) and the glitter & markers (candy) to the “glue” (candy) – everything is completely edible and considered a must-see! I should know, my girls made tons of great jewelry pieces and there was still a ton left over for my son and friend to make something special, not to mention all the candy that was eaten in between.

Girl Gourmet Sweets Candy Bead Studio comes complete with every candy imaginable (for making the perfect bracelet or necklace… 24 uniquely created ones at that), as well as the licorice rope, frosting glue tube, edible-ink markers, sprinkles, gummies, the instructional booklet (to help give ideas on what to create) and more. The suggested retail price is $19.99 and is recommended for kids ages 8 and up.

Girl Gourmet Bead Kit Product ReviewThe Candy Bead Studio was a blast and a huge hit in my home, and I’m not just talking about the little ones. My sixteen-year-old son made his girlfriend a necklace filled, from one end to the other, with candy and a dear friend of mine (30 years old) made a beautiful “I love you” necklace for her hubby. Everyone agreed that this was a must have, as a gift, for anyone at all, even grownups! So, if you’re having a problem trying to find that perfect gift for your kids, a sweet Valentine gift, a secret Santa Party, or just because… this is the product you need. It will bring tons of laughs and unimaginable fun to any party.

I can’t stress how much fun this kit is for the whole family – no matter what your age, you’re going to LOVE the Girl Gourmet Sweets Candy Bead Studio!

Next up we have the Girl Gourmet Cake Bakery…


Valentine Gifts for Kids – Demeter Product Review

Consider Demeter Fragrances as Valentine's gifts for your kids.Kids are such a blessing! From the minute they come into our lives, they gift us with so many priceless moments. They are the apple of our eyes, the beat in our hearts, and the spunk in our steps. In a nutshell, kids are miraculous balls of happiness rolled into one little being.

This Valentine’s Day, go a step further; give your child sugars and spice with everything nice. And no, I’m not talking candy here (although that wouldn’t hurt either). I’m talking fragrances with your child’s favorite candy in mind.

Demeter has one of the widest, largest, and most unique fragrance collections I’ve ever seen. I can’t even begin to tell you the countless number of intriguing smells they have to offer. I can only say that you’ll go crazy with the array of choices you’ll have.

Consider Demeter Fragrances as Valentine's gifts for your kids.Some of the cool (candy) fragrance collections include (but not limited too): Hershey’s, Jelly Belly, Tootsie Roll, Sweethearts, Sweet Delights, and more. I’m telling you – it’s a virtual gold mine for fragrances.

The wonderful people at Demeter sent me not one, not two, but six awesome “kid-geared” smells to try out. The girls were more than ecstatic about receiving their very own bottles; regrettably, they were not as eager to share them.  I was happy to be appointed “neck smeller”; otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to sniff a single scent.

Demeter is a Bath & Body Home fragrance company that is proud to be unique, simple, subtle, fun, easy and affordable – they are 100%. You simply cannot resist smiling every time you open the cap to one of the fragrances. The smells will either draw you to a memory from the past or whisk you away to new and unforeseen territories. The only CON to the whole experience with Demeter is not being able to decide on which fragrance you want to try first. There’s far too many to choose from (and I say this in the most appreciative way possible) and not enough days in a year to try them all. I have literally spent hours going through Demeter’s fragrances only to be stuck with no less than 10 items in my shopping cart. This includes home sprays too.

If you’re looking for something unique, fun, and affordable this Valentine’s Day, please consider taking a peak at Demeter’s online store. You’ll be amazed with the wide array of fragrances to choose from as well as the unbeatable prices offered; not to mention the ongoing sales – I love sales. The girls and I totally recommend this to everyone… doesn’t matter how young or old you are – we guarantee you’ll love the way you smell.

Disclosure: As stated in this review, I received six fragrance samples, for free, via Demeter. In return, I give you, the reader, thoughts I’ve gathered on Demeter’s products (through personal experiences). The opinions within this post are mine, therefore I claim no responsibility for anyone who may (or may not) agree. Thank you.

Good for the Soul Gifts for Friends or Acquaintances by Yara’s Bliss

Sometimes certain friends are difficult to buy for, and other times you may have just met someone and quickly need a present, not having a clue about their tastes. In these cases, it’s usually a good idea to get the person a gift with a theme that is appealing to a wide variety of people. Gifts centered on relaxation and rejuvenation for the body, mind, and soul can often be the perfect gift for a female friend or acquaintance. Yara’s Bliss offers countless relaxing ways to show your friends you care.

Yara’s Bliss allows you to give your friends, family, coworkers, or acquaintances a lovely and luxurious spa experience in the comfort of their own home for a reasonable price. Spa and relaxation gift items from Yara’s Bliss are hand-crafted, containing a intermingling of natural herbs, botanicals, and essential oils. No matter who your gift recipient may be, you are sure to find a gift or gift set within your budget, from a $4 bath bomb to a bridal gift basket at $65.

For a relaxing gift for a woman of any age, a soft and soothing eye pillow filled with rice and essential oils or herbs offers a great way to rest and recharge your batteries. The “cuddle” fabric of the eye pillow is incredibly soft and pleasant to the sensitive skin around your eyes. I received a lime green colored Cucumber Melon scented eye pillow to try out. The bright green plush fabric and the hot pink ribbon make this gift bright and cheerful for any occasion. The fabric on the back of the Cucumber Melon eye pillow is black Bridal Satin. This handmade gift is filled with jasmine rice and fragrance oil. The Cucumber Melon scented eye pillow retails for $15.99.

Yara’s Bliss offers a variety of luxurious spa themed gift ideas in bright and beautiful colors. The Soap and Sisal Gift Set is another way to add some color to your gift or to coordinate a gift basket with a certain color scheme. The Yara’s Bliss Soap and Sisal Gift Set features a Sisal Soap Saver and Handmade Soap in a variety of colors and fragrances, including Lavender (purple), Sweet Pea (pink), Green Apple (green), and Lemon Sugar (white and yellow).

I received a Green Apple Soap and Sisal Gift Set, and this item is as luxurious as they come. The set was packaged in a bright, hot pink sachet bag that contrasted beautifully with the lime green and white slice of homemade soap. The Sisal Soap Saver is reusable, as it is the perfect fit for many standard bars of soap. The crafting of the soap saver is also lovely, featuring an even knit pattern and a sturdy drawstring. The Soap and Sisal Gift Set retails for $10.

Shoe Fresheners can be a great gift for the athletes and even the men in your family. Golfers, hunters, runners, and sports athletes can all enjoy nicer smelling shoes thanks to the Yara’s Bliss Shoe Fresheners, which are made with cedar wood shavings, peppermint, spearmint, eucalyptus, jasmine rice, and other herbs and fragrances. Yara’s Bliss Shoe Fresheners are also great for keeping dress shoes smelling nice. The minty fragrance of the shoe fresheners is a true delight and each shoe freshener is individually wrapped in a triangular sachet bag with a pretty adornment at the drawstring. Yara’s Bliss Shoe Fresheners retail for $8.50.

Countless lotions, sugar and salt scrubs, and other beauty and relaxation products are also available. I got to try a Bathing Beauty Herbal Bath Bomb, which is pretty in pink and white and roughly the size and shape of a baseball but packed with fragrances and essential oils. The Oatmeal & Soy Body Lotion by Yara’s Bliss is rich and creamy, delivering hydrated skin with a soft and delicate fragrance. A great option for winter gifting is the peppermint and tea tree foot and leg lotion – always a lovely fragrance combination. Dry winter skin – or dry skin anytime – gets banished thanks to this silky yet rich body cream. Finally, Yara’s Bliss Shea Butter Revitalizing Lotion offers a pretty yet subtle fragrance and a smoothing effect on skin. The lotions and skin creams can become addicting! I think my skin craves more of them after each initial use. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it – but no complaints here!

In addition to these products, Yara’s Bliss specializes in Brazilian beauty and offers bath teas (or soaks), aromatherapy neck warmers, heating and cooling pads, and countless bathing accessories, to name a few. For more information, please see http://yarasbliss.com.

Top 10 Gifts for Your Children on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just for sweethearts! You can spring for a small gift for your son or daughter to show how much you care. A gift for as little as $1 or as much as you would like to spend can instill a very fond memory and impression of Cupid’s day of love for your little ones. …But what kind of gift should you get for your son or daughter on Valentine’s Day?

Depending on the ages of your children, you can find a suitable Valentine’s Day gift for your daughter or son just about anywhere. Here are our top 10 gifts for your children on Valentine’s Day.

1.    Toys – Stuffed animals, action figures, Barbies, and other kids’ toys can be a great Valentine’s gift for your son or daughter.

2.    Games – Board games and video games can be a great Valentine’s gift for your son or daughter. The Ladybug Game by Zobmondo brand is a fun game for kids as young as three years old. This game is open to two to four players and features an adventure in the garden for the ladybugs who are trying to get home without running into too much trouble with some of the garden pests. Your child can learn about bugs and flowers while having fun playing this game.

3.    Candy – Valentine’s PEZ, candy hearts, cinnamon red hots, or any of your kids’ favorite candies will be much appreciated. If your budget is low this year for Valentine’s Day gifts, a small candy gift could be the perfect fix.

4.    Movies – A children’s movie may be the perfect gift for your kids this Valentine’s Day. If you have a boy and a girl, you might want to get two different kids’ movies to satisfy both your children.

5.    Music – Valentine gifts of music can be a great way to reach out to your teen or preteen child. If you know what bands your kids like, and you already know which music albums they have, a gift of their most desired new CD – or an iTunes gift card – could be the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

6.    Perfume / Cologne – As your sons and daughters start to get older, a gift of perfume or cologne could be a great way to give them a gift that is mature yet also age appropriate. Fragrances by Jessica Simpson, Hilary Duff, and Britney Spears can be a great option for Valentine gifts for your daughters.

7.    Art Sets / Model Kits – Arts and crafts kits and model kits can be a fun and educational gift for your children on Valentine’s Day. This type of gift can also be enjoyable for parents and children to use together.

8.    Tickets to a Special Event – Sometimes the gift of an experience shared together is cherished far beyond any material gifts. A special Valentine’s Day gift of tickets to a sporting event or concern could be a good way to bond with your child as well.

9.    Jewelry or a Watch – Jewelry and watches are classic Valentine’s Day gifts for sweethearts as well as for children. You can get your son a watch or get your daughter a locket, bracelet, or a pair of earrings to show how much you care.

10.    A Card with Money – When all else fails, a Valentine’s Day card signed by you accompanied by a $5 bill (or more if you can spare it) makes a very special holiday for your child.

No matter what you decide, spending at least part of Valentine’s Day with your kids could be gift enough. Make special time with your children even if you are already planning an extra-special date with your spouse or significant other. You could make Valentine’s together, watch a movie, or simply share some gourmet chocolates right out of the box. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Top Golf Getaways in the USA and Reasons to Enjoy Them

Whether you are dreaming of far away golf getaways or simple weekend golf getaways, you and your buddies are sure to enjoy a vacation full of golf, beer, good food, and relaxation. Going on an annual golf trip is a vacation staple for many guys while memberships to country clubs or golf related gifts top the charts for many Christmas presents, birthday presents, and even anniversary presents. Many men love golfing and especially golf getaways, making golf related travel and golf related gifts among some of the best their wives, girlfriends, and families can buy.

Avid golfers make a point to visit the top golf getaways in the United States whenever possible. Many golfers will plan a vacation elsewhere for a different reason, or may get stuck going on a business trip, and just happen to decide to bring along their clubs in case they can fit in some time on the greens. Whether you are a golfer looking for great golf getaways for your vacation planning or a loved one of the avid golfer looking for a great golf related gift, consider the following top golf getaways in the United States.

1.    Pine Valley Golf Getaway – In Pine Valley, N.J. awaits the most recognized and top ranked golf course in the United States. A golf getaway to Pine Valley may be the pinnacle of one’s lifetime in golf.

2.    Myrtle Beach Golf Getaways – Myrtle Beach, SC offers so much to do besides golf, making it a great place for a husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend to travel together. From beaches to shopping, excellent dining options, and so much more, Myrtle Beach golf getaways really offer a well-rounded vacation for the whole family.

3.    Florida Golf Getaways – While no courses in Florida made it to the top 10 US golf courses on Golf.com for 2007 or 2009, Florida golf getaways still have so much to offer. Like Myrtle Beach, golf getaways to Florida can be a great time for the entire family, from Walt Disney World to Sea World, from shopping and dining to beaches, fishing, and just about anything and everything else.

4.    Las Vegas Golf Getaways – Las Vegas, NV golf getaways make great golf excursions for the soon-to-be-wed as well as the birthday boy and just about any other golfer out there. The nightlife and the cuisine in Las Vegas allow golfers to enjoy a thorough and memorable golf vacation, whether over the weekend or throughout the course of a week. If tagging along for some of their own fun, wives and girlfriends may also enjoy the nightlife, shopping, and shows in Vegas.

5.    California Golf Getaways – Sunny California offers countless reasons to take a vacation to the West Coast, with golf being among the top for many travelers. California boasts two golf courses on the top 10 list at Golf.com – both, of course, in Pebble Beach, CA. Planning two golf getaways in one, visiting both Pebble Beach and Cypress Point, would be an unbelievable, unforgettable golf outing to live on for years to come.

6.    New York Golf Getaways – New York State offers two fun golf getaways on the Golf.com top 10 list, including Shinnecock Hills and National Golf Links of America, both located in Southampton, NY. The Hamptons in New York would definitely be a great vacation destination for golfers, and a golf getaway to the Hamptons would be an especially thoughtful gift.

7.    Pennsylvania Golf Getaways
– Pennsylvania also nailed two spots on Golf.com’s top 10 list for 2007 and 2009 best golf courses in the US. Golfers may enjoy a golf getaway to Oakmont or Merion (East). Golfers from the Philadelphia area may find the commute relatively easy while other golfers who aren’t as local may want to consider a weekend golf getaway to either or both of these golf destinations.

8.    Augusta, Georgia Golf Getaways – Ranked #3 in both 2007 and 2009, Augusta National Golf Course would be an exceptional golf getaway. Augusta also offers countless things to do and great dining, making it a nice golf destination as well as a place you could vacation for a few days longer.

Sand Hills in Nebraska and Pacific Dunes in Oregon also rated in the top 10 on Golf.com’s top 100 list. A golf outing to either of these destinations may be just as enjoyable as any of the above golf getaways. Depending on your geographic location, you can probably find golf getaways much closer to home for a nice weekend golf getaway, or you can plan an entire vacation around a golf trip while peppering in other activities as well. Whatever you decide, we hope you enjoy all the golf getaways you try!

Top 10 Excuses to Go on a Golf Getaway
If you still need a reason to enjoy any of these golf getaways, consider these top 10 excuses to go on a golf getaway:

1.    Bachelor Party
2.    Birthday Party
3.    Guys’ Weekend
4.    Celebrating the Birth of a Buddy’s Child
5.    Christmas Present from Wife or Parents
6.    Annual Golf Excursion with Friends
7.    Family Reunion Golf Outing
8.    Golf Outing for Charity
9.    Business Related Golf Outing
10.    Golfing to Relax, De-stress, and Refresh Your Life

Resources:
GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Golf Courses in the US

Cocktail Party Checklist for Shopping and a To Do List

If you are planning a cocktail party for your guests, be sure to create a cocktail party checklist to help you prepare for the occasion. A cocktail party checklist will give you great guidance as a shopping list as well as a “To Do” list to get your home ready for the cocktail party. To ease your stress levels, start planning for your cocktail party in advance so you don’t have to rush at the last minute.

As you start thinking about your cocktail party checklist, be sure to write down any ideas that come to mind. You can use this cocktail party checklist or make up your own including any of the suggestions below. Don’t forget to be creative and add your own flair to all the cocktail parties you host.

 

Cocktail Party Checklist – Alcohol Shopping List
Be sure to pick up a variety of the following spirits as part of your cocktail party checklist:

1.    Rum
2.    Vodka
3.    Gin
4.    Whisky
5.    Tequila
6.    Flavored Rum / Flavored Vodka
7.    Amaretto
8.    Brandy
9.    Schnapps or Other Fruit Flavored Liquors

Cocktail Party Checklist – Mixers and Garnishes Shopping List
Don’t forget to pick up these mixers, juices, sodas, and garnishes to ensure your cocktail party is a shining success:

1.    Limes
2.    Lemons
3.    Oranges
4.    Maraschino Cherries
5.    Olives
6.    Sweet & Sour Mix
7.    Cosmo Mix
8.    Bloody Mary Mix
9.    Tom Collins Mix
10.    Daiquiri Mix
11.    Margarita Mix
12.    Pina Colada Mix
13.    Coke / Pepsi (and diet soda for the calorie conscious)
14.    Sprite / 7up
15.    Cranberry Juice
16.    Pineapple Juice
17.    Grapefruit Juice
18.    Orange Juice
19.    Lots of Ice
20.    Food as needed to serve as hors d’oeuvres

Cocktail Party Checklist – Menu Suggestions and Food or Hors D’oeuvres to Serve
Consider these ideas for what kind of food to serve at your cocktail party or come up with your own cocktail party menu:

1.    Piggies in blankets (cocktail weenies)
2.    Cheese puff pastry
3.    Shrimp Cocktail
4.    Cold cuts or mini sandwiches
5.    Chicken or beef on skewers
6.    Swedish or sweet & sour meatballs
7.    Chips and dip of your choice
8.    Cheese and crackers
9.    Baked Brie
10.    Veggie tray
11.    Fruit tray
12.    Pastry tarts
13.    Brownies or cookies
14.    Chocolate mousse
15.    Cake or pie

Cocktail Party Checklist – Bar Supplies
Keep these bar supply items on hand to successfully concoct just about any kind of cocktail:

1.    Shaker
2.    Strainer
3.    Shot Glasses
4.    Variety of Glassware
5.    Cocktail Napkins
6.    Bar Tools
7.    Bar mop
8.    Stirrers
9.    Straws
10.    Cocktail Swords / Umbrellas

Cocktail Party Checklist – To Do List
Use this cocktail party To Do List to help you get ready to host a cocktail party at your home:

1.    Invite guests.
2.    Purchase all liquor.
3.    Purchase groceries and relevant bar supplies.
4.    Make the food or get your party catered.
5.    Slice the fruit.
6.    Chill the mixers and sodas.
7.    Place ice in an ice bucket.
8.    Set up a buffet area for the food.
9.    Set up a special area to function as the bar.
10.    Enjoy!

Top Vacation Hotspots and Honeymoon Destinations for the Month of January

Traveling for pleasure during the month of January can be a welcome change from the frozen temperatures of winter if you live in the northern hemisphere. If you are planning your honeymoon or even a special vacation during the first month of the year, you can try any of the world’s vacation hotspots or simply choose a destination that is known to have great weather during the month of January.


Celebrating your honeymoon in January can be a great experience. First of all, January tends to be off-peak for wedding planning, so you should be able to save a bundle on expenses. Second, if you live in a colder climate in the northern hemisphere, you will likely enjoy getting away from the cold here and there to celebrate your anniversary on vacation.

Consider these top 13 vacation hotspots and honeymoon destinations to enjoy during the month of January.

Top January Vacation and Honeymoon Hotspots

1.    Aruba
2.    Australia
3.    Bahamas
4.    Belize
5.    Caribbean Islands
6.    Costa Rica
7.    Curacao

8.    Jamaica
9.    Kenya
10.    Maldives
11.    Mexico
12.    New Zealand
13.    Thailand

* Destinations suggested by Joyce Scardina Becker, CMP, wedding designer and president of Events of Distinction

Traveling from a cold place to a warmer place during the month of January means you must be prepared to face both hot and cold temperatures at the departure and arrival airports. Be sure to pack appropriately and consider dressing in layers to help you prepare for the climate change. Remember to pack your sunscreen if you plan to spend some time on the beach. Most of all, enjoy your special January honeymoon or winter vacation getaway.

10 Tips to Make Your Family Ski Vacation More Affordable

A family ski trip vacation can be a great winter excursion.Many families enjoy taking an annual ski trip, whether near or far. Whether your family members enjoy skiing, snowboarding, or simply relaxing in the lodge with some hot chocolate in front of a roasting fire, you can really enjoy a great winter family vacation together. To get the most out of your family ski vacation, it really pays to try and find deals and to lower your travel costs as much as possible.

If your family is planning a ski vacation this winter, make sure you take the time to consider your expenses and try to fit your plans into your budget. Consider these 10 tips on how to make your family ski vacation more affordable from Christy Sports, a well-known ski and snowboard retailer in the Rocky Mountain region.

1. Look for all-inclusive packages. “Most ski resorts are providing all-inclusive packages that include airfare, lodging, lift tickets and ski/snowboard lessons,” says Randy England, Marketing Manager at Christy Sports. “The good thing about all-inclusive packages is that you know ahead of time, exactly how much the trip will cost. In looking for an all-inclusive package, start with a lodging provider.”

Enjoy a family ski vacation at a lower cost.2. Avoid the peak holiday periods. “Lodging prices and airfare around Christmas, New Year’s, and President’s Day are often double what they would be for the rest of the season,” notes England. “In the Rocky Mountains, the resorts can stay open as late as April and good deals can be found late into the ski season.”

3. Look for discounts for kids. “Often parents can find discounts for kids on ski rentals, ski passes, ski lessons, and air travel,” England shares. “Shop around. At Christy Sports, children under 12 rent free with a 5 day adult rental purchase.”

4. Book early, especially if you fly. “Travel packages will start to dry up by Thanksgiving so book now,” says Randy England of Christy Sports. “Shop travel sites (Expedia, Orbitz, etc.) as well as the direct airline Web sites for discount airfare.”

5. Negotiate with lodging properties. “This year there have been big price differences for renting similar condos at the same location,” England explains. “This year, property managers are willing to negotiate and make a ‘deal’ on units. So don’t be afraid to negotiate or reserve the advertised price.”

6. Purchase lift tickets from…


Five Ways to Celebrate the Holidays with a Sick or Terminally Ill Family Member or Friend

We all know the holidays can be everything from stressful and hectic to romantic, relaxing, and satisfying. Sometimes a combination of emotions encompasses the holiday, leaving us scrambling to figure out just how we really do feel. When you throw in the element of a sick or terminally ill family member or friend, you might suddenly feel numb and unsure of how to proceed through your holidays.

Many times what we need to remember is that our loved ones need us in their times of struggle. Whether they are hoping and waiting for a cure or beyond all hope, those who are sick or terminally ill really do appreciate our thoughts, prayers, and especially our time in visiting them and reminding them how much we care.

 

“When the harshness of reality assaults your everyday existence, there are bigger concerns than how to decorate your tree or which wrapping paper to buy,” says Joni Aldrich, author of The Saving of Gordon: Lifelines to W-I-N Against Cancer (Cancer Lifeline Publications, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-4392550-3-2, $19.95). “The thing is—unless you move to a cave!—the holiday season will impact your life, whether you want it to or not. But if you step back and think about the true reasons for the season—mercy, caring, and humanity—the holidays that seem so difficult can also hold invaluable gifts.”

Author Joni Aldrich lost her husband Gordon in his two-year battle against cancer in 2006. In her book, The Saving of Gordon, she offers the following tips on five ways that you can celebrate the holidays with a sick or terminally ill friend or loved one.

1.    “Don’t wait for the “right time”—just go.”
“Visiting an ill loved one is going to be hard. Know that, and choose to move forward anyway,” says Aldrich. “When you do visit, consider the needs of the patient and his or her family. Call in advance, and take your cues from the family regarding the duration of your visit. Consider the well-being of the patient, and err on the side of caution when choosing to visit. If you are under the weather yourself—even if it’s just a sniffle or a cough—consider a phone conversation instead, or wear a mask. Also, avoid wearing strong perfumes or colognes.”

2.    “Visit the patient and the caregivers.”
“Whatever you do, don’t avoid the family because you are uncertain of how to approach them in a difficult situation,” instructs Aldrich. “Call often, bring food, and offer prayers. These ‘gifts’ will be appreciated by the patient and by his or her family. It is very painful when the family expects that support, and ultimately doesn’t receive it.”

3.    “Avoid preconceived expectations.”
“Always gauge the patient’s mood as acutely as you can,” Aldrich says. “It’s helpful if she is forthcoming about what would give her the most comfort, but she may not be able to express her feelings and needs that easily. Make the visit about the patient, whether that means that you end up laughing, crying, reminiscing, or even leaving until a more convenient time.”

4.    “Be sensitive to changes in the holiday routine.”
“If a holiday party does take place, take extra care not to go off into a corner to whisper with other friends and acquaintances,” Aldrich urges. “The last thing your ill loved one needs or wants is to feel like he is the cause of speculation or sadness. Similarly, there will be tears, so let them come. Sometimes the patient won’t want to see them, so you may have to steal some private time. Whatever you do, don’t shut yourself off completely from the patient or from your feelings.”

5.    “Remember that the best gifts can’t be wrapped.”
“Don’t forget that a hug is one of the most powerful gifts that can be exchanged,” says Aldrich. “A kind word is another. A sympathetic ear is often the best present you can offer, along with a strong shoulder to cry on. Make sure that your ill loved one and his or her family know that you are available to help at any time, whether that means a grocery store run, an extra pair of hands to help hang holiday decorations, a night out for the patient’s family, or going to get a prescription filled. Prayer is the most blessed gift of all—pray together, pray separately, and pray often.”

“Ultimately, you will be blessed because of the comfort and love you have given to a family who needs it,” promises Aldrich. “You will have experienced the true meaning of Christmas—giving a gift to others that is much more valuable than anything you could ever wrap in a box. This holiday season, the precious time you spend with your ill loved one will offer hope and comfort, and it will supply precious memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life.”

About the Expert:
Joni James Aldrich is the author of The Saving of Gordon: Lifelines to W-I-N Against Cancer (Cancer Lifeline Publications, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-4392550-3-2, $19.95) and The Cancer Patient W-I-N Book: Our Cancer Fight Journal and of the upcoming book The Losing of Gordon: A Beacon Through the Storm Called “Grief.” For more information, please visit www.thecancerlifeline.com. You can buy The Saving of Gordon: Lifelines to W-I-N Against Cancer on Amazon.com (plus it’s eligible for free super saver shipping!).

Whittle Your Middle with Belly Dancing, a Sexy Way to Stay in Shape

For a sexy way to get in shape and stay in shape, try belly dancing. You can groove your hips and wiggle your way to a slimmer, trimmer figure while working on balance, coordination, and a beautiful flow of movement. You can whittle your middle with belly dancing while also picking up a few seductive dance techniques to show off for your significant other.

Belly dancing traditionally is an Arab style of dance that focuses on the hips, arms and much of the body, despite the name “belly dancing.” Belly dancing costumes often offer a sexy getup of fringe, dangling beads or coins, bared midriffs, and a skirt or harem pants. The vibrant colors and elaborate style of the belly dancing costumes make them very attractive, however, for workout purposes women can wear just about any type of athletic apparel as they begin to learn the belly dancing moves.

If you would like to get started in belly dancing, it is a fitness workout that helps your coordination as much as your physical shape. You can try to find belly dancing group classes near you if you like the social workout environment. If you tend to be a bit shy, you might consider beginning your belly dancing routine at home either by yourself or with a friend, sister, or neighbor. One good at-home workout to try is Jillina’s Shape Up n’ Hip Out Belly dancing DVD.

Jillina’s Shape Up n’ Hip Out Belly dancing DVD
offers a practical way to get down the belly dancing basics while also improving your physical shape and your dance moves, nonetheless. If you aren’t naturally comfortable with dancing in general, and/or if you’ve never done belly dancing before, the moves may feel a bit awkward or may seem difficult at first. However, as with most new things, the more you practice belly dancing with Jillina’s workout DVD, the more natural the moves will become for you.

Jillina’s Shape Up n’ Hip Out Belly dancing DVD features three 18-minute workouts, offering something suitable for the beginner belly dancer through the professional belly dancer who wants to try some new moves or enhance technique. Your choices when working out with Jillina’s DVD are Slow & Smooth, Rhythm Hips, and Turbo Hips – so you can work out at your own pace.

“Many women come to belly dance for the physical benefits but often discover a wealth of advantages  like self confidence and an opportunity to get in touch with their feminine side,” says Jillena of belly dancing.

Product provided free to writer for reviewJillina’s Shape Up n’ Hip Out Belly dancing DVD is available for sale on Amazon.com for $13.49 and it is eligible for free super saver shipping. For more information about the Shape Up n’ Hip Out Belly dancing DVD or information on Jillina, please see www.jillina.com.

Top 10 Kinds of Christmas Cookies to Make

Holiday baking can be a fun Christmas tradition for your whole family.Christmas cookies are one of the holiday favorites for many people. Baking Christmas cookies together with your family can be a fun tradition that lasts generations. Little girls often love baking cookies with their moms, and little boys can have lots of fun making Christmas cookies too. As kids grow older, they may enjoy baking Christmas cookies with their friends or doing Christmas cookie exchanges. No matter what your cookie preference, you’ll need to come up with a list of favorite Christmas cookies to make.

As you start to make your Christmas cookies this year, consider the traditions in your family, classic cookie favorites, and of course, something just a little over the top. With a good variety of Christmas cookies, you can appeal to the tastes of everyone you know. If you plan to do a lot of baking, you can make tons of Christmas cookies and box them up nicely in tins as gifts for your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

Consider these top 10 kinds of Christmas cookies to give you a head start on your holiday baking. Don’t forget to pick up all the ingredients before you get started!

Top 10 Types of Christmas Cookies

Bake lots of colorful Christmas cookies for family and friends.1.    Chocolate Chip Cookies
2.    Sugar Cookies
3.    Oatmeal Raisin or Oatmeal Craisin Cookies
4.    Spritz Cookies / Press Cookies
5.    Candy Cane Cookies
6.    Snicker Doodles
7.    Chocolate Mint Cookies
8.    Florentine Cookies
9.    Neiman Marcus Cookies
10.    Gingerbread Cookies

After you bake all your Christmas cookies, be sure to share with those you know so all can enjoy your delicious baked goodies. To keep cookies extra fresh, keep them sealed in a Tupperware container or gallon-sized Ziploc bags. You can also add a piece of bread to the container or zipper bag for added freshness. Most importantly, enjoy eating and sharing your fresh and delicious Christmas cookies!

Make a tasty gingerbread cookie family in your holiday baking.

Top Travel Destinations and Honeymoon Locations for the Month of December

If you are planning a vacation or a honeymoon during the month of December, you may be wondering what some popular travel destinations would be for this time of year. In a number of places, December tends to be on the colder side, often encouraging travelers to take their vacations and honeymoons in a more southern location. Knowing some of the top travel destinations and honeymoon locations can help you to plan a successful and exciting trip in advance or spontaneously.

If you are planning your December vacation and leaving from a cold climate to go somewhere warm, keep in mind that the weather in your departure / return airport will likely be colder. Be sure to pack at least one outfit that is suitable for cooler weather and use those garments as your traveling clothes.

Many people love traveling around the Christmas holidays, whether on cruises or simply a vacation getaway that takes advantage of your paid work holidays or at least uses up some of your paid vacation days before the end of the year. Consider the top travel destinations for the month of December as you think about what to do with your leftover vacation days at the end of the year.

A December honeymoon can be a lovely sequel to an elegant December wedding. Honeymoon locations for the month of December can vary widely from the Caribbean to the South Pacific and elsewhere. Talk with your fiancé to determine where you would like to travel for your December honeymoon getaway. You don’t need to plan your December honeymoon trip a full year in advance, but you can start kicking around ideas as soon as you’d like.

To follow are the top 12 travel destinations and honeymoon locations to visit during the month of December. Consider these locations as you plan your December vacation or honeymoon getaway.

Top 12 December Travel Destinations and Honeymoon Locations

1.    Aruba
2.    Australia
3.    Bahamas
4.    Belize
5.    Caribbean Islands
6.    Costa Rica
7.    Curacao
8.    Jamaica
9.    Maldives
10.    Mexico
11.    New Zealand
12.    Thailand

* Destinations suggested by Joyce Scardina Becker, CMP, wedding designer and president of Events of Distinction

Of course, you might also like to do a ski trip during the month of December. In order to have a successful ski trip, you’ll want to plan your December vacation or honeymoon at a destination where you’ll enjoy fresh snowfalls or at least temperatures that are cold enough to sustain manmade snow. If you are more interested in a cold and wintry vacation, you may need to investigate locations in the northern hemisphere and well-known skiing destinations like Killington, Vermont and Aspen, Colorado.

No matter what you decide to do for your December vacation or honeymoon, we hope you have an excellent time!