New Store, New Favorite

Since Christmas is right around the corner, I thought I should get shopping.  A recent remodel of our local mall has brought in new stores.  I have never before been inside a Burlington Coat Factory.

Until today.

Following a doctors appointment, I found myself near the mall.  I thought I’d check out the recently opened Burlington Coat Factory.

I found the prices to be very reasonable, the brands of high quality and the variety of goods was impressive.  For some reason I thought the store sold only coats, which is not at all the case.

I was able to finish my shopping for my mom and my three daughters in a very short time. I decided to focus on kitchen items for them all. Three will receive all the same items, while the forth will receive a complete set of a particular kitchen necessity. Since each one has a kitchen of her own at this point, it seemed a good idea to give things to stock (or restock) them.

Having been married nearly 30 years, I have often laughingly suggested we need periodic “replacement” showers…since everything given a couple at their bridal showers and as wedding gifts wear out around the same time.  I know, a silly thought on my part…

Dare to dream, people.

My Christmases have been filled with household items like towels, dishes, pots and pans. These may not be exciting gifts like diamonds, for example, but they have been some of the most appreciated. My Wolfgang Puck pots and pans have been a joy to use for several years now.  The set of red dishes were also favorites, alas gravity has taken them…The large, absorbant spa-worthy towels were luscious following my relaxing/refreshing baths. Each one of these gifts thrilled me for years.

While Christmas is not about the gifts we give, the truth is I worry about what I give my loved ones. I have spent a great deal of time in years past making things for my family. Last year I gave all the women on my list spa baskets. I filled them with homemade soaps, lotions, bath salts, lip gloss, and creams in several scents. I made eye masks filled with flax seed and lavendar, corn bags to heat for neck wraps and back pads, smaller corn bags to heat and carry in pockets as hand warmers, scented candles, homemade note cards and stationary and a beautiful pen. I included a lovely Christmas ornament and journal and the spa package was complete.

These were not really appreciated as I thought they would be.  In fact, the entire basket I gave one to of my daughters was included in our yard sale this summer…

Which has led me to the painful decision to only give store bought gifts. I prefer to be creative and make gifts for the ones I love, but if those aren’t appreciated by the recipient there is no point to it. My first choice for gifts this year is gift cards. While I had planned on that for my daughters, I hate watching people open gift cards. There is no excitement or anticipation when you give a gift card to Barnes and Noble. And you have no idea what the recipient ended up with.

There are gift receipts for all the gifts I purchased this year, which makes returning them easier.

You know, after writing this post, I’m thinking I should have stuck with the original plan of gift cards…


Christmas Gift Idea

As you know, I am a huge fan of Lindsay, the Frugal Crafter.

Have you had your heart set upon Copic markers?  Find the cost prohibative?  Here is a wonderful, and much more reasonable, alternative. Blick Studio Brush Markers.

I have a set of these markers and use them all the time.  I do not have any Copic markers to compare them to, however.  Thankfully, my girl Lindsay does. She has given a terrific review and comparison of both marker brands and types.

And the best news of all is this: the Blick brush markers are currently on sale at a fraction of their usual cost.  6 markers for 12.45, 12 at 24. 90, 24 are 49.79, 48 at 99.58, and finally 96 markers for 199.16. Remember, purchase the largest set you can afford. Each set has all the markers included from the sets beneath it. So the set of 24 has the markers from both the 6 piece and the 12 piece sets.

My set is the set of 24.  I use them along with all my other alcohol based markers, and all play well together. I enjoy the variety and blendability of the Blick’s brush markers set.  Lindsay has recommended purchasing the dark colors in brands like Bic Markets or Sharpies, then fill in with the lighter colors in the more expensive brands. Which is how I have built up my marker collection. But with the great deals currently on the Blick Brush markers sets, you can have a wonderful marker collection, reasonably priced.

Give this gift idea some consideration for yourself or a loved one who appreciates a great product at a great price.

Amazing Sale!

Cato is a store I recently fell in love with.  The sale prices on their clothes are as good as the prices at Goodwill. Of course, the clothes are new and not second hand, which is a new experience for me.

Paying close attention to the prices, I was able to amass quite a wardrobe.  Here’s the breakdown:

Three dresses

A denium skirt

Two pair of cordoroy pants

A pair of jeans

A sweater

Four shirts

Five short sleeved or sleeveless tops

Two necklaces

Two pair of earrings

Two purses

For 200 bucks.  Everything was on sale  except the jeans.

That’s astonishingly cheap.  22 items.  That’s around 9 bucks for each piece.

Since my husband and I are going away for a brief vacation, I needed something to wear.  I even have choices!


Beauty and the Beast

Hamilton Senior Theatre

In spite of kidney surgery to remove 15 stones, I was able to finish the set for Beauty and the Beast on time. With a great deal of help from parent and student volunteers, who painted the set pieces with their base coats of color, I was able to do the detail work and managed to finish a couple days before we opened!

If you have an opportunity to see a performance of this delightful show, I encourage you to do so.   The costumes alone are worth the price of the ticket.  Laurie Gansen, our costumer, is the most talented woman I have ever met.  The costumes are breathtaking.  Several people thought we rented them from a theatrical costume company.


Laurie makes our costumes from scratch.  And they are spectacular.  The gown for the dresser transformation is easily good enough to be in a Hollywood production. In fact, it boggels my mind, what Laurie would be able to create with a substantial budget. This production required 60+ costumes with a budget of 1500 dollars. That’s 25 dollars per costume.  Since we had done this show 11 years ago, we had several already created which helped tremendously with the budget.  But that is still a very tight budget for the magnificence of the costumes required for this show.

The costumes for Cogsworth and the dresser were reworked for this show.  Lumiere is wonderful with light-up candle hands.  Mrs. Potts and Chip are equally charming.  I get choked up every time Chip is on stage, as my second daughter played Chip in our first production 11 years ago…

The students have worked tirelessly to bring the magic of the Disney movie to life. Our sound and lighting special effects are especially stunning, thanks to the brilliance of Paul Prins.  Paul Connelly, our director and correographer, has done a wonderful job bringing out the best in our kids.  Holly Isreals, our musical director, has once again provided us with the very best in musical theatre.

Our next show is Friday, the 9th of December, at 7 p.m. Then again on Saturday, December 10, at 2 p.m. and at 7 p.m.  Please join us for this magical theatrical experience!