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Holiday Gift Making and Planning Mabel Style
What would Mabel do? Even I get confused entering our supply room to make bath and body goodies for my friends. I get lost in there--too many choices. Funny, I had to come back to my PC and write "would I would do?"--so I can go back into our supply building with a "plan in hand." So, read What Would Mabel Do? You can bet I pick the easiest paths possible and a few tactics may surprise you! And for those who are against "Merry Christmas" did you know "History" stands for "His-Story"? I figured you would appreciate hearing that.
Beyond new content, I must lure you back to "oldies but goodies" a narration and links of neat festive ideas I wrote in previous years. A quick refresher that helps inspire me also. I too, tend to forget things. One example is an article I wrote on floral design. For fresh floral arrangements, carnations and chrysanthemums last the longest by far, and less expensive to just arrange them yourself. Stores tend to sell arrangements with short life spans so you will have to be back sooner. If you know me, you already know I amend arrangements people give me--so they will last longer. So, lots of content to save you money! Make your own arrangements that are designed to last and revamp your old Christmas Decorations without feeling compelled to buy new ones.
Holidays are also a time to spoil our pets by giving tons of treats.
Canine Holiday is another article in this issue that I am really proud
of. Canine Holiday will save at least a few people some
serious heart breaks this holiday season. I hope you share it with other
canine owners. "What" pet treats can make or break a good holiday.
My Christmas present? I have not been very excited all year until we just landed an excellent Web expert, James Colbert. He owns Hosting Solo. We needed much bigger space and the best technology. Most important, better communication with my customers who inspired me in the first place. Our sites are huge, but our move was official and final on Thanksgiving Day. That surprised me and was great news. I have watched Colbert for years, some of my customers are with him, and he knows his stuff. He also started RecipeView years ago that Mabel will add recipes into. Get ready ladies, (and gents) we are about to have very educational message boards, live chat, and totally exciting bells and whistles. I have a lot of totally cool customers who I learn a lot from as well. Write me to let me know how you feel about new message boards. I would like to know if chat, boards, or both are more helpful to you. Since we are on a new e-mail platform--it would help if you subscribed below. Many customers mention they are not getting e-mailed the newsletters.
Here are some tips for making gift baskets.
1. Pick a smaller basket, bucket, container, than you think you need. (It will appear more full.)
2. The shallow a basket, the better. (Again it will appear more full.)
3. Use dried floral foam or something sturdy in the basket bottom and then cover with natural shred. Natural shred allows the products to stand out more. I hide other gifts at the bottom of the basket.
4. Try to pick a "focal item" like a bottle of champagne, or bubble bath. (The heaviest item should be in the middle anyway.)
5. Anchor the top of that bottle by its neck to the top of the basket with floral wire. I position my bottles at an angle.
6. Build your items "upward" by using double sided tape to hold them together. That makes it look fun and full.
7. Use double sided tape to "fan" items together--such as tea bags, cocoa mixes, chocolate bars, bath milks.
8. You can put other small wrapped gifts in the basket. I call this a "gift in a gift."
9. When you are done with your arrangement fill any gaps or "holes" with gold foil candy or something small.
10. Place into a clear plastic or big shrink bag and grab the ends like a pony tail to secure with floral wire.
11. Tie your ribbon curls around the neck before you add the bow.
12. A big pretty pull bow makes quite a statement. I find you cannot go wrong with gold or silver foil.
Excerpt from Gift Basket Making DVD and Book by Deborah R. Dolen
What Would Mabel Do?
Definitely I would make a "glimmer" stick, using a firm balm recipe and lots of pearl mica. This comes in handy to coat the lips. I even use it to highlight under the eye brows and over cheek bones for parties. Caution: Kiss a guy on the cheek and he will look like a fairy! (Even the next day at work.) Right behind that a breath elixir using vegetable glycerin and peppermint essential oil. The 1/3 ounce bottle and droppers can be found by clicking here. Half ounce spray misters, for pillow sprays are right under the droppers. I find the Bulgarian Lavender Essential oil does not stain my pillows and is a ritual every night. That is my "sweet dreams" spray.
Quality bath oil right behind it. Using Jojoba, Primrose, Borage or other good carrier oils. You can get Safflower oil, high in Vitamin E, right off the grocery store shelf. For fragrance I would use our Rose Flavor Oil or Lavender Essential oil. Yes, I said Rose Flavor. It is one of my favorites. But the Lavender is so strong, you do not need much for a whole 8 once bottle of carrier oil to smell totally like Lavender.
Short for WMD! First I would just buy the cheapest bath bombs or fizzies I could find. Like Dollar General, Wal-Mart. This is because the therapy is in the essential oils you add--and you can always adorn the "Tablet, Fizzies, Seltzers, Bombs" whatever, with pretty dried petals. And you skip the stuff messy to make and costly to ship. So, if I bought lavender colored seltzers, I would adorn them with maybe the Blue Malva petals below. Just a touch for artistry. I would probably use a pipette and warm soy wax or a balm base to make them stick to the seltzer. Click here for Parchment Paper Packaging.
I would drop essential oils on them first. 10--20 drops on each one. They are AWESOME to just sit in the bathroom until used. I keep them in a glass bowl. Obviously I keep a a stash of everything I make aside for my favorite person--me. What blends? My total favorite is Rosemary with a touch of Fennel and Basil. Bulgarian Lavender by itself. Tangerine and just a touch of Ginger. Siberian Fir Needle by itself. When I say "just a touch" it is because Basil, Ginger and Fennel are far too potent--but awesome for circulation and clearing the mind. I would also make up Bath Salts the same way, and adorn with rosemary, lavender and other dried buds. We make our bath salts by shaking them up in a big zip lock bag. (I just reduced the "petals" to 2 ounce sizes to make them more affordable. 2 ounces is a lot and fills up an 8 ounce bag.)
Bath Tea's are another "in" thing and the primary reason I confused everyone when I came out with "Harry's Tea Company." I am so branded in bath and body--most people replied "Cool Bath Tea Company!" I am still working that out. But yes, you can use the same teas as bath teas. Blue Malva petals are so cool because they give the water a beautiful purple tint (as well as the Sexy Tea I developed to drink.) I cannot claim bath clean up is very easy when using too many buds. But if you want to know more about Bath Teas, click here for an article I wrote last year. When making bath teas, I would definitely get a filtered bag that can hang from the faucet. And yes, you can spritz them with essential oils.
Making Bubbly Bath Milks My favorite recipe is 40% Dry Milk 40% Dry Buttermilk and 20% Bubble Powder. If People have dry skin issues, exchange the bubble powder for titanium dioxide and blend well. The titanium dioxide will give skin a protective coat. It helped me more than anything else when I went through an itchy skin spell. I stopped itching totally.
Salt Scrubs are a glowing treat! We prefer salt over sugar due to potential microbial issues.
Making Lotion and Crème are the most rewarding gifts, and the very item we will need a stock pile of to get through winter. When dealing with water, you must have the preservative at least 1% of the total and do not get any preservative on your lips. If you fail to put the preservative in, your project will quickly become truly gross a few weeks later. We use gloves when dealing with any preservative. For the lotion formula even I have to dig up, click here. I do go to the beauty store and buy the one quart pumps for my lotion. I know they will be dependable, and I can usually re-use them. To re-use them, I take the pump out and clean it thoroughly, while I put the plastic container in the microwave for a few seconds. That will usually melt the old lotion down. Again, I clean and dry that part out also.
An Ingrown Toenail Kit: I struck this topic just after my editors read the newsletter. When I asked them what article they found the most compelling--it was the one I did not feel appropriate for a holiday topic. But it sure brightened my holidays. They loved it so much they even took a break in editing to try it--which sold me. So, click here to see about that issue if you or a loved one suffer from ingrown toenails.
Eileen West Night Gowns: A Great Gift
I know I already wrote on this--but we lost it in an October web crash. I love her enough to re-write the article. Eileen West is my all time favorite nightgown designer. 100% cotton romantic night gowns you can usually get on sale for around $33-$43. I noticed the prices went at least double due to the upcoming holiday--so I would wait, unless you find a deal. For any nice cotton gown, you must put them in gentle wash and air dry them if you want them to last a long time. The dryer does a number on cotton. And never use Clorox on cotton because it will start shredding any cotton. Even sheets. I put a few links here--but again, wait for sales if you can. HSN usually carries a lot of her line, and best prices, but I am not seeing the variety I did this summer, so another reason it is best to wait. She has so many styles, the "Palazzo Ballet Gown" is to the right and a long sleeved Ballet Gown to to the left. Dilllard's also carries a wide line, but pricey.
Tips For Holiday Dining
1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas
spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.
2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!
3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour
it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?!
6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.
8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have SOME standards.
10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.
Remember this motto to live by:
"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn
out and screaming, "WOO HOO, what a ride!"
WEAR OUT, DON'T RUST OUT!
Oldies But Goodies
I would definitely be making that Honey-O-Bit Recipe I just re-wrote after losing it. That recipe was so good and so easy, great for gift giving to people who love sweets. Click here for that. And a walk down memory lane, one of my first presentations, 101 Gift Ideas under $5. That was written on a bet I could not think of 101 things because hardly anything is under $5 anymore. And that was written in 2002. My famous Chili Recipe.
Canine Holiday: What Food to Give Your Dog
I happened to be at my vet last Thanksgiving eve when he was reminding everyone "no turkey for poochie." I said "What? No turkey?" He did not mean just bones and made that clear. I have never heard of that. I know chocolate is like poison to dogs. Turkey? I found one article, Stuff the Turkey, Not Your Pet. Here is what I did find on the banned list:
Avocados, Bread Dough, Broccoli, Candy, Chocolate, Corn Cobs, Dairy Products, Grapes or Raisins, Raw Eggs, Macadamia Nuts, Nutmeg, Nuts, ONIONS, Rich Fatty Foods, Salt, Tomatoes. Corn cobs actually are a leading cause of death--and July 4th keeps vets busy over them. Often, not much can be done. Click here to understand why these foods are bad. Grains also go on this list because dogs cannot process grains like we do. They do not need to convert starches to carbs for energy as we do. So, no more sharing Cheerios with Ringo.
How Do You Handle a Hungry Man?
To my surprise, cooked or boiled eggs, mashed potatoes, peanut butter and rice are OK as a treat. They should never be the focus of any canine diet though. Canned pumpkin or yams on occasion is great for constipation. Ringo likes them and gets them at 20% of his daily diet. (Not pumpkin pie mix.) And basically watch anything on the banned list. The article link above, from a Veterinary College of Medicine advises against the introduction of holiday food into a pets diet because it cause their digestion to go way off balance, or worse. (I cheated this year and gave Ringo a little white turkey meat and mashed potatoes even after I wrote this...and yes, he loved it and then barfed.)
Greenies and Other Potentially Hazardous Chew Treats
Last month, Ringo was having a very hard time "going" after being given pig ear treats. I did research on pig ears, Greenies, hoofs, and rawhide and found anyone of them can cause intestinal blockage if not chewed totally. A lot of sad stories are out there about this. Greenie had some bad press over pet deaths and retorted that "a Greenie should never be given to a gulper." This company position caused a lot of "pissation" (pissed off people) who lost their dear pets. Just Google Greenie and there are loads of sad stories, outrage and despair. I do understand Greenie got the worst press because their name is tied right in with the product. Many deaths come from pig ears, hooves and raw hide also, but are not "branded" in with one name, such as Greenie. So, for me, anything hard to digest is out for Ringo. If you are going to give a hard chew product, make sure the dog is fed and not starving--or they will be more determined to eat it. My shipping staff pointed out their pets do OK with such treats. If your pet is smaller than my foot, (as theirs are) I consider them in the rodent family!
Canine Gulpers: Typically Adopted and Fear Starvation
Ringo is a "gulper" I recently noticed. I never knew there was a word for a dog who would actually inhale a whole bone straight, and not side ways. Where three people had to hold to 85 pounder to extract the bone he was happily targeting to go right to his stomach. I called him the "inhaler" and no, we cannot give him hard and brittle snacks for this reason. He acts like he will never get fed again and I finally linked this to his Katrina past. After a year with me, I figured he would get over it. This is not the case.
Gulpers can have serious issues as I recently researched. They cannot burp up extra air as we can. For gulpers, there is a way to slow them down. We put some dry food he does not like mixed in well with his wet food--so he has to slow down. He works his way around to the good stuff. And he does get cut up meat and vegetables as well. I found to never give any large dog rigorous exercise right after a meal. I need to wait an hour. And I found feeding him twice a day, in the morning and when everyone eats at night, helps him calm the "starvation" sentiments.
Most Requested Elder Gifts by JuDea Bentley
Boredom and loneliness are common complaints made by elders who reside in skilled care facilities or live by themselves. Especially during holidays. Instead of always bringing a plant or flowers, which provide visual pleasure but cannot occupy an elder’s time, bring other gifts which they can enjoy after you have left.
As I walked into the pharmacy today to pick up my sons medicine, I saw a brightly decorated Christmas Tree standing in the corner. It seemed so unusual as if it was calling my name. On this tree was paper bells. On the bells were names and then 1 or 2 items wanted. George: slippers size 12 and 10 bags of licorice. Then it dawned on me this is a giving tree for the elderly in our small town. Their request seemed so simple, but to me so very sad. Needless to say I picked off 4 bells, one for each member of our household. Our prayer is to help make it a Happy and Blessed Holiday for the recipient.
Of course my husband picked the names that wanted cigarettes, as he was so sure that know else would do so. My husband, being a smoker, he can sympathize with the person.
Although assisting an aging family member with their move to a residential care facility can often be an emotionally difficult experience, it is important you focus your energy on making regular visits to provide care and comfort. Some visits, especially in the beginning, may be difficult and cause you to feel sadness or guilt. While these are normal emotions and should not be discouraged, try not to think of this transition only as an ending, but instead focus on the time you still have together and ways of filling that time with expressions of your love and affection. Another idea for an older loved one who has difficulty communicating is touch/aroma therapy. Bring a nicely scented lotion and ask if you could put the lotion on your loved one’s hands, therefore providing touch as well as a pleasant aroma to associate with your visit. Touch alone, is very important.
It takes approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil per year to package bottled water. The cost of the water in itself is ridiculous. My "cause" this month happens to be the water we drink and bathe with. Being a product developer, I know 10% of whatever you put on your skin gets absorbed. My research started when I found most of my new five gallon water jugs with mold, and they were not even opened yet. They had a green tint. And supposedly distilled. Yeah. That was not the first time I had to call them either. They managed to blame me the first time....both Crystal Water and Water Boy, S.O.S. And as far as tap water, if I forgot it and left water boiling down to nothing--I recall the junk I could not identify. (I am considered to be in a very clean water city.) Worse, Ringo who used to get tap water, used to have residues at the bottom of his drinking bowls. I had to wash them weekly. If you want to be "converted" just boil your tap water down to nothing and see what kind of film or crystal sludge you get.
After reading all about tap water--as well as "bottled water" I happily dumped my bottled water company and use real water filters on everything I can think of. My major goal is by 2007 to have water filtration even on my bath water. As a simple start, I went to Lowes and bought a few "Brita" jugs that help filter the water. Even Ringo gets his purified water from a Brita now. We will do anything to save our pets, it makes sense their livers cannot process the same junk in their tap water bowl any better than we can. I am positive giving Ringo purified water will extend his life and reduce disease. (Ironically, my county water guy was on the news today denying their was anything wrong with our city water.) I think it is a universal issue. I am doing a lot of research to see if we can just buy activated charcoal and clean our own water. So far, not promising.
The only draw back giving up the 5 gallon water jugs? I had to give up my water unit that had a handy hot spout. That gives me instant hot coffee or tea as I like. That is OK because Lowes also sells nicer units for $97 and I think I was "renting" the old unit. I just fill a clean sterile jug with water I KNOW is purified. Even if I have to purify it out of the Brita for now and then pour it into the five gallon jug. It will take a while to get mass scale systems put on my home.
Most college kids know about Brita and lug it around as they travel. This is a great healthy gift to give if the recipient does not know about Brita. The cost is around $24.00. David Kiley, a BusinessWeek Reporter is a hoot and I learned the most from his article. This is where I also learned a company known as "Esoh Retaw" was a joke on the public. That name means "hose water" spelled backwards. We complain about the price of gas, but the worst thing we tend to do is walk around with "bottled" water that is 500% a mark up, and as I said before, uses 1.5 million barrels a year to make the unregulated questionable product. Trump is brilliant. People will buy water, even "Trump" water.
Post Note: I have been feeling better over all since I changed
to water I know is filtered. Not only physically, but mentally.
I am positive it made a huge difference. I hope this helps!
Wassail Recipe by Mabel White
Wassail is a delicious recipe to add to existing warm cider or wine. It has notes of oranges, lemons, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, citrus peels and sugar. I would use a pinch of Stevia in place of the sugar. People also use this recipe for simmering potpourris on the stove. In that case you could use left over apple parts to simmer also--such as if you made an apple pie--keep the apple remnants. *2 heaping Tablespoons of wassail mix stirred in water makes 1 cup, use less if you are spicing wine, beer or cider. The recipe below makes seven cups. The amount of cups you get, could depend on whether or not you are using real sugar. If you are not using real sugar--then you need much less to make a cup of Wassail. This is also good to simply flavor juice, hard apple cider, a dry white wine, light ale or stout beer. You can also exchange this recipe and use whole cinnamon sticks, and spices if you are after aesthetics. You can also add peels such as lemon and orange.
3 Cups of of brown or white sugar (I would use 1/2 of a teaspoon of Stevia instead.)
1 Cup of Tang (unless using sugar free--then adjust down)
1 Cup of Country Time Lemonade (unless using sugar free--then adjust down)
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Ground Ginger
1 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 Tsp Allspice
1/4 Tsp Cloves
You do not have to buy tang or lemonade if you have citric acid around. A Dust of citric acid to replace the lemon/lime component. Very small pinch or it will be too sour.
Thoroughly mix all ingredients. Separate into air tight jars.
1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?Both.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Wraps Them
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Both
4. Do you hang mistletoe? Everywhere I can...