2011 Holiday Gift Guide – Frugal Novice
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2011 Holiday Gift Guide

Name Your Tune Personalized CD’s

If you’re looking for a fun idea for kids in your life, you’ve found it with the Name Your Tune CD’s! These discs inject your child’s name into classic songs like:

1. Hello, How Are You?
2. If You’re Happy And You Know It
3. Little ______ Had A Farm
4. Oh, How I Want to Go
5. Wheels On The Bus
6. Boom Boom, Ain’t It Great To Be YOU!
7. Down At The Park
8. The More We Get Together
9. Head And Shoulders
10. There Are Seven Days
11. Rainbow Song
12. ABC Medley (ABCs, Twinkle Twinkle, Baa Baa Black Sheep)
13. I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon
14. Instrumental Lullaby

These songs are fun and recognizable, and it’ll make your child’s day when he hears his name pop up! If you have more than one child, don’t worry – for us, every other song has J’s name, and the others have C’s name. They love it so much that they listen to it every night to fall asleep to – and it’s great to listen to in the car, too!

Note: We received two CD’s for review. All opinions are honest and are our own. We were not compensated monetarily for this post.

CoffeeStack Review

Like many people today, we have a Keurig coffee maker in our home. Brian drinks coffee and I don’t (I’m a hot cocoa kind of girl) so it’s perfect for us – we can each use a K-Cup to make one cup of what we like, not making an entire pot and wasting some.

The only downside we’ve found is that the K-Cups can take up a lot of space. Our solution in the past has been to dump them in a basket on the counter, which looks cluttered and haphazard, but was the best option we could think of.

Until now.

The CoffeeStack is a unique solution that holds 40 K-Cups in less than 6 inches of cabinet space. Of course, you can also use it out on your counter, which we’ve chosen to do.

You just slide a drawer out until it’s extended all the way, then lower it. It’s very easy to find which flavor you’d like – or more importantly, it will make it easy for guests to find what they want when they’re staying with you.

Now instead of a cluttered basket, we’ve got a slim, sleek, stainless finish CoffeeStack. It works just as well on our counter as it does in the cabinet, so it’s nice to know it’s got a little versatility to how you can use it.

The Coffee Stack would make a great gift for any Keurig owner. It’s priced at $34.95 which is slightly higher, but pretty comparable to the price of other organizers. This one has the distinction of working well in cabinet space so it’s easy to tuck away if you desire – you’re just not going to find that with other options.

Note: I received a CoffeeStack for review. All opinions are honest and my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

New Air G70 Garage Heater Review

Even though we live in Texas, it can get reallllllly cold during the winter. It’s during these times that I particularly dread doing laundry, because our machines are out in the garage. I plan ahead to spend as little time out there as possible and have been known to bundle up. To do laundry.

Well, I now have no excuse for avoiding laundry this winter, because we’ve got the NewAir G70 garage heater. This compact heater is 4,000 watts and can easily heat up to 400 square feet. It even comes with a mounting bracket so you can have it up safely out of the way. There’s a built-in thermostat that maintains your preset temperature and has a range of 45°F to 77°F.

Garage heaters would be a great gift for anyone who likes to spend time out in a garage or shop, or for any families that have a laundry setup like we do! This one in particular is one I’d definitely recommend, with its range, its safety features and its size that allows it to fit well in any space. I know we’ll be enjoying ours all winter long!

Note: We received a garage heater to facilitate this review. All opinions are honest and our own. We were not compensated monetarily for this post.

150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes (Second Edition) Review

We absolutely love our Crock Pot – it can be a lifesaver on busy days. But we end up making the same recipes over and over again… especially soups! That’s why I’m happy to add the 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes (Second Edition) cookbook to my collection.

The first edition has 425,000 copies in print – this second edition is revised to reflect today’s home cook. It includes nearly 100 of the original favorites from the first edition, plus an additional 75 new recipes that have been carefully sourced and selected by the author. There are more fish, seafood and vegetarian favorites along with more whole-grain offerings.

The cookbook has a ton of vibrant, full-page photos accompanying the recipes. It also breaks down everything you need to know about the recipe – what size slow cooker to use, how many it serves, if it’s entertaining worthy, if it’s easy to be halved, and tips to make the meal the best it can be.

This cookbook would be a great gift for someone who loves to cook – I do, and like I mentioned I’m excited to try its recipes – but it would also be a nice option for someone who doesn’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, because slow cooker recipes are notoriously user-friendly!

Note: I received a copy of this cookbook for review. All opinions are honest and are my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

Rubbermaid Bento Boxes & Toppers – Giveaway!

Who loves organization?

I do! I do!

So, it’s a little bit of an understatement to say I was excited to give the new Rubbermaid Bento Boxes and Toppers a try. For those of you that don’t know, these boxes take storage to a new level. They’re designed to organize items rather than just store them.

One way they do this is through flex dividers, which are my favorite part of these boxes! Here’s an example. The large box, for instance, could be used as seen below to store blankets…

Or, you can take that very same box and pop out the flex dividers, which fold in and store against the walls of the box when not in use. Voila! What was one cavernous space is now divided into five useful compartments.

Another part of the organizational genius by Rubbermaid is the Toppers, which can be used in two distinctive ways. You can use them as trays to store things such as mail or remotes, or you can flip them over to use them as traditional lids, giving you a little more height within the box and still providing coverage of the items within. With it used as a tray, a Topper also works well for nesting smaller Bento boxes.

The Bento Boxes and Toppers also have the distinction of actually being attractive. No one wants plastic tubs sitting out in their living room, but these boxes come in a variety of nice fabric designs and colors to compliment any home decor. I absolutely love our red set, especially to have out during the holidays for pops of color. The large box will be perfect to store our Christmas books in, and we can leave it out in the living room to store remotes in the Topper.

Rubbermaid has provided a few tips for creating what they call Organized Active Storage – places for items used on a daily basis and accessed frequently. What a great term, right? I mean, there is a difference between storage that’s up in your attic and things you need to use regularly. Check out their suggestions:

  1. Determine where you need to work. Ask yourself: What am I constantly looking for every day? What has a place to go but I never put it there? What items are cluttering up flat surfaces in my home? The answers to your questions will help you determine what you need to find a new organizational solution for.
  2. Take a step back and explain why it is not working. For example: You find that you always leave your hair brush on your bed in the morning – you have a place for it in your bathroom, but your headbands you wear are in your closet, so you take the brush in your bedroom to use. Active storage should always be where you actually use the item. If things do not have a designated home or a place to go once you’re not using them, they’ll get lost.
  3. Be creative and design a solution. Then force yourself to follow through and put things away for 30 days (long enough to form a habit). Make things easy to get to. Make sure they have a designated home. And let everyone in your household know where the designated homes are for these items.

One lucky winner will receive a Rubbermaid Bento Boxes & Toppers set, valued at $113.93. This is the same set I received and it includes an XL Box & Topper, a large Box & Topper, a medium Box & Topper, and a small box. This contest is open to US & Canadian residents ages 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Monday, December 5. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

Mandatory Entry: Comment on this post telling me what you’d use the Bento Boxes & Toppers to store!

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 2 entries, for example, comment 2 times.

Note: I received a free set of Bento Boxes & Toppers to review, and Rubbermaid is providing a set for the giveaway. All opinions provided in this post are honest and my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this review.

$15 Quick Draw Giveaway!

Congrats – you figured out the password!

Comment below with your PayPal email address to enter the giveaway for $15. If you don’t have PayPal, you can still enter – just let me know in your comment.

Good luck, everyone! I’ll post the winner tomorrow at 10AM Central.

Note: By entering the Quick Draw giveaway, you agree to the Official Rules.

SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip MP3 Player – Review & Giveaway

I’ve been incorporating exercise into my weekly routine for quite a while now. Sometimes I walk with a friend from work, but when I exercise alone it can get boring really quickly. Music makes working out seem to go by much faster, and an upbeat song can be really motivating because it helps me get my energy level up!

The SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip MP3 player is the perfect option for easy, convenient music listening, whether you’re working out or just on the go. I got the chance to review one for myself, and was excited to receive the white one because I think it just looks slick – don’t you?

   

The Sansa Clip Zip retails for $49.99 on the SanDisk site, which makes it an affordable option… but do the features make it a good choice? Let’s take a look:

  • The clip makes it easy for you to stick the device to your clothing – and it’s small, so it’s not bulky or cumbersome at all.
  • The color screen is appealing, and the navigation is easy to use. Without even reading the manual first, I had no problems figuring out how to use the different options.
  • Speaking of options, there’s so much you can do: music, radio, books (audiobooks/podcasts), voice recording, and stopwatch timing.
  • This MP3 player holds 4GB of music, but you can use a microSDHC memory card to add even more storage space.
  • The battery can last up to 15 hours, making it great to take out with you for an entire day.
  • There are seven colors available: Stealth Black, Primetime Purple, Gunmetal Grey, Momentum Blue, Jumpstart Red, Encore Orange, and White Flash.
  • It’s really easy to add music, even if you’re on a Mac like I am. The guide provides clear instructions and you can get up and running in no time.

The only thing I think needs improvement is the earbuds. They’re decent, but I’d like something a little smaller that fits better into my ears. For the price, though, you could afford to get other earbuds and still be spending less than you would on other MP3 players.

The SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip would make a great gift or stocking stuffer for virtually anyone on your list! And…

One of you will win a free 4GB Sansa Clip Zip and free shipping! Four others will receive coupons for 20% off. This contest is open to US residents age 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Tuesday, November 22. By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Rules.

Mandatory Entry: Comment on this post telling me what color of Sansa Clip Zip MP3 player you’d pick!

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 2 entries, for example, comment 2 times.

Note: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of SanDisk and received a product sample to facilitate my review, and coupons to giveaway.

Weber’s “Time to Grill” Cookbook Giveaway!

Weber makes amazing products – we’ve been absolutely impressed with our grill from them. Throughout the summer I included links to some of their grilling recipes in my Menu Plan Monday posts, and I became aware of the mouth-watering recipes they produce.

It was no surprise, then, when I heard Weber had produced a grilling cookbook, Time to Grill. And people, this is no ordinary cookbook. The recipes are creative, the photos are beautiful, and it’s organized SO well, making it easy to find the perfect recipe for your occasion.

It’s hard to get a grasp on the size of this cookbook – to me it looked pretty small online – but it’s substantial at about 10″ square. It’s 304 pages, making this a solid book to give to any foodie or grilling fan.

Take a look at the page layout. As a designer, I’m in love with the thoughtfulness of this book design. The colors are vivid, the photos are vibrant, and the formatting is pretty genius.

There are color-coded tabs on the sides of the pages, letting you easily find the category you’re looking for (veggies, poultry, beef, etc). You’ll also see an icon at the bottom of the page – in this shot you can see the cow, letting you know you’re looking at beef recipes. The bracketed area under the recipe title on the left page lets you know how many people this recipe will serve, the prep time and the grilling time.

You won’t only find recipes in this book, though. There are tips about tools you’ll need, stocking your pantry, how to save time when grilling, different knives (and how to sharpen them), how to dice an onion, and more.

This is a beautiful, useful cookbook that would be great to purchase for someone on your list. Find out more about the book here, view sample recipes and find out about the free recipe toolbox app for the iPhone.

That’s not all… one of you lucky readers will get this book for yourselves – or if you’re feeling generous, for someone on your holiday shopping list! This contest is open to all U.S. residents 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Tuesday, November 22. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

Mandatory Entry: Comment on this post telling me your favorite thing to grill – chicken, steak, veggies, or something more creative!

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 2 entries, for example, comment 2 times.

Note: I received a copy of the cookbook for review. All opinions are honest and are my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

VTech Connect to Cell Review

If you’re anything like us, you don’t use your home phone very often. We have ours because it was bundled with our cable package, but have barely ever used it. Now, with the VTech Connect to Cell Answering System, we will use – and love – our home phone!

The Connect to Cell system uses Bluetooth technology to let you make cell phone calls using the VTech handsets. I love this! No more running across the house to catch my cell phone in time – with three handsets, we have one close by at all times, making it easy to answer a call.

Everything about this phone is sleek. The bases are all compact, the chrome navigation on the main base is clean and simple, and the handsets are slim and easy to hold comfortably. But aesthetics don’t matter as much as functionality… which this phone aptly delivers.

The menu is very intuitive, it’s extremely easy to pair your cell phone with it (you can pair up to two – it’s easy to select which cell you want to make a call from), and you can even use the handsets as an intercom throughout the house.

I’d give this phone five stars. It’s truly the home phone for the modern family, and I think most people will love it just as much as we do.

Another phone – which we didn’t review but I want to share with you because it’s just that cool – is a Multitasking System from VTech. It’s ideal for busy parents and work-at-home professionals – it comes with a regular handset plus a comfortable cordless headset mounted directly on the base – making hands-free conversations a snap while cooking holiday meals, wrapping presents or managing other household tasks.

Note:  We received a VTech Connect to Cell system to facilitate our review. All opinions are honest and are our own. We were not compensated monetarily for this post.

How To Enter the Quick Draw Giveaway

You’ll notice the password-protected post below… that’s the post you need to access in order to enter the $25 CASH giveaway! Hunt for the four numbers I’ve posted so far in my Holiday Gift Guide on random product pages. As a reminder, they look like this:

Enter the numbers in chronological order and you’ll gain access to the post, allowing you to comment and enter for your chance to win $25 cash – TODAY! The giveaway ends at 10PM Central, and money will be transferred via PayPal TONIGHT!

If you have any questions, please comment on this post. For more details about how this works, and how the BIG $50 cash giveaway works, read here. Have fun, good luck, and happy hunting!