Christmas Plant Photos

Ahh.. the beauty of holiday plants.  The season would not be the same without these fabulous well dressed ladies.

Christmas tree

Poinsettia                                                         A tree of poinsettias                 Christmas tree

European Holly (Ilex aquifolium) leaves and fruit                                    Web Exclusive Amaryllis Bulbs

Holly                                                                    Mistletoe                                                              Amaryllis

Paperwhites, Paperwhite Bulbs, Paperwhite Gifts, Paperwhite Gift Sets.       Silver Fir and Holly Wreath

Paperwhites and holly berry                                                Wreath

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Christmas_plants

http://www.amaryllis.com/cat/6/

http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/paperwhites-bulbs-gift-sets.shtml

http://www.marthastewart.com/article/silver-fir-and-holly-wreath?lnc=02a41eec2c7ee010VgnVCM1000003d370a0aRCRD&rsc=collage_holiday_wreath-crafts

 
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A Few Good Toys

Finding interesting toys is not the challenge it used to be.  These are so cool, I want them under my tree! Dado Squares Dado Cubes

Moon In My Room         Monster Bowling

Image PreviewGeo Mag Baby             Knex musical ferris wheel

References:

http://www.fatbraintoys.com/

A Caregivers Christmas

If you are a caregiver in the United States, you are one of approximately 44.4 million unpaid women and men who provide care to an adult 18 years of age or older according to the National Organization for Women 

Caregivers often have to make adjustments to their personal and professional lives to ensure decisions are made on behalf of a loved one.  These are often parents, children or other family members who have been instrumental in our lives and we feel a duty and obligation to see that they receive the best care possible. 

It’s important to remember to treat those we care for with as much dignity and respect as possible.  They probably never imagined they would need the level of care that you might be providing for them. 

I do not purport to be an expert on this issue and certainly can’t speak to everyone’s experience but do have my own caregiver story to tell.  Some may approach this role with a joyful heart because they wouldn’t have it any other way while others feel a great sense of responsibility and duty to do what they feel is right. 

The caregiver role can be emotionally draining and stressful during the holidays.  These unsung heroes often feel weighed down, burdened and guilty for wanting to have just a little time for themselves.  According to the National Organization for Women, Caregivers most frequently report unmet needs:

  1. Finding time for themselves (35%).
  2. Managing emotional and physical stress (29%).
  3. Balancing work and family responsibilities (29%).

The estimated value of informal care that women alone provides amounts to $148 – 188 billion dollars.

I would like to offer a kind ‘thanks’ to all of you caring for a child, family member, spouse  or other loved one with a physical or mental disability.  It can be a very lonely experience best understood by those who’ve had a similar experience. 

I humbly offer these suggestions for you to find a moment to savor during the upcoming holidays.  It is possible and I wish you a wonderful lightness of being filled with peace, joy and hope. 

  1. Take time each day for yourself.
  2. Exercise to relieve stress, try yoga or pilates and learn stress relieving breathing techniques.
  3. Eat healthy foods for energy and balance.
  4. Find an activity you enjoy and devote time to it daily.
  5. Join or start a support group in your area.  
  6. Make an effort to connect with others daily. 
  7. Recognize depression and deal with it if signs appear. 
  8. Maintain a healthy self image.
  9. Let go of guilt and acknowledge to yourself that you are doing the best you can. 
  10. Reach out to friends and family for support. 
  11. Write about your feelings in a journal or write letters of support to yourself.
  12. Be inspired by the good times with your loved one.
  13. Treat yourself to a little something special like a latte, a great book or a new haircut. 

Blessings and Happy Holidays!

 

References:

http://www.webmd.com/balance/tc/caregiver-tips-caregiver-tip-number-1-take-care-of-yourself-first

Christmas Mood Music

What would the holidays be without a little mood music from time to time?  Old favorites instantly come to mind but new musical tributes are being written every year.  Visit Music, Movies and More to see the top 15 traditional songs, the top 25 most performed and the best-selling Christmas/Holiday CDs from 1991-2007.

Here is a sample of some of the latest Christmas music to get you in the holiday mood:

Merry Christmas II You  The Gift

A Christmas Cornucopia  Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album 

Home for Christmas (2010 edition)The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

 

A Swingin' Christmas  This Christmas

A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas  Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Celebration

 

 1.  What a Night! A Christmas Album by Harry Connick Jr.

2.  I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Brian McKnight

3.  Christmas by Al Jarreau

4.  A Winter Symphony by Sarah Brightman

5.  Sunday Music 5: Holiday; Barnes and Noble Exclusive

6.   Joy to the World by Faith Hill

7.  A Swingin Christmas by Tony Bennett

8.  This Christmas by Aretha Franklin

9.  A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas by Kristin Chenowith

10. Celebration by Manneheim Steamroller – Not new but an awesome Carol of the Bells

11. Merry Christmas II You by Mariah Carey

12. The Gift by Susan Boyle

13.  A Christmas Cornucopia by Annie Lennox, Release date 11/16/10

14.  Glee, The Music, The Christmas Album, Release date 11/16/10

15.  Home for Christmas by Cheryl Crow

16.  The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Take 6

A few CDs to add to your collection:

A Christmas Album
Let It SnowAnd Winter Came

1.  The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole

2.  Noel by Josh Grobin

3.  A Swingin’ Christmas A Barnes and Noble Exclusive

4.  Songs of Joy and Peace by Yo-Yo Ma

5.  Luther Vandross Christmas by Luther Vandross

6.  Wintersong by Sarah McLachlan

7.  Merry Christmas by Mariah Carey

8.  The Christmas Collection  The Best of Vanessa Williams

9.  John Legend Sounds of the Season-Only at Target

10. One Wish The Holiday Album by Whitney Houston

11. Boney James Funky Christmas by Boney James

12. A Christmas Album by Barbara Streisand

13. Let It Snow by Michael Bublé

14.  And Winter Came by Enya

If you prefer a little of a lot of different music during the holidays, Target, Barnes and Noble and others offer great collections of Christmas and holiday music by different artists on the same CD.  Maybe start with a little At Christmas Time by Luther Vandross, throw in a bit of The Christmas Song Remix by Christina Aguilera and end with Carol of the Bells by Mannheim Steamroller for the perfect holiday variety.

Happy holiday listening!

References:

music.barnesandnoble.com

http://www.target.com

http://www.amazon.com

Santa’s Economic Reality

If your plans are to spend less this Christmas holiday season, you’re in very good company.  There’s no denying that the 2008 Christmas holiday will see shoppers in the US spending less than in previous years.  One report has 37% of consumers reducing holiday spending this year compared to 27% in 2007.  Retailers are said to be bracing for the weakest shopping environment in 17 years in upcoming months.  As the holidays approach these numbers could go even higher.

In the midst of Santa’s cold splash of economic reality, there are always reasons to be optimistic. 

1.  Some major retailers are already offering up to 40% or more off of merchandise PLUS coupons.  As the holidays approach, expect these deals to get better and more compelling as retailers try to get you to shop.

2.  Prices on popular children’s toys have been discounted to $10-$20 by large retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, Toys ‘R’ Us and Kay Bee Toys.

3.  Black Friday deals could be better than ever!  Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and retailers are already advertising deals and leaking advertisements to well established online sites like bfads.net and blackfriday.info

There is also the chance that there is just no room to spare in your budget this year.  If that is the case, I saw one of the most creative ideas ever posted online by a member of a family experiencing tough economic times a few years ago that was unforgettable.  They decided to cut pictures from magazines of what they would give each other if they could and paste it in a card.  This is such an awesome idea because the sky is the limit and it really is the heartfelt thought that matters.  So why not paste a picture of an island paradise in a card as a gift for the hardworking superhero in your life.

 

Reference:

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.san&s=92362&Nid=48196&p=466598

http://www.courant.com/business/custom/consumer/hc-toywars1109.artnov09,0,2682755.story