Product Review: FamilyLife Resurrection Eggs

A few months ago, we purchased a home.  You know how it is to move — you soon find things that you forgot existed.  Each week I am unpacking more boxes and sorting through many years of accumulated possessions.  Many things we don’t need and are put into a “get rid of” pile.  Through all of the sorting and purging I found our Resurrection Eggs.  I hadn’t seen them in a few years and was excited to share these with my children this year.

resurrection eggs

The Resurrection Egg kit comes with 12 plastic eggs that are easily stored in a plastic egg carton.  Eleven of the eggs come with different items to help tell the story of Christ’s life, burial, and resurrection.  The last egg is empty which allows us to explain the resurrection.  (My kids loved this part!)  Also included is a booklet with an explanation of each egg which includes scripture references.

Each box contains:

  • 1 durable plastic egg carton
  • 12 plastic eggs
  • 11 unique objects to illustrate the Easter story
  • 1 bilingual booklet (English and Spanish)

The Resurrection Eggs can be purchased through FamilyLife, Christian Book Distributors, or at your local Christian bookstore.  Although some people have chosen to make their own kits, I find that $12.99 is a great value for the unique pieces and the booklet.

My children enjoyed the Resurrection Eggs and I plan to use these in the future with them.  I have also used this at my church when we had an egg hunt.  If you plan to use it for Sunday School or an egg hunt, I would recommend reading through the booklet first, as it is a bit lengthy and you might need to shorten it.

Have you ever used the Resurrection Eggs kit?

image FamilyLife

Disclaimer:  These views are my own. This is not a sponsored post.


Karen

20+ Ways to Save Money on Christmas Gifts

For many people, Christmas is a favorite time of year. Unfortunately, it can also be the most stressful. The costs of Christmas cards, Christmas trees, decorations, and gifts can really burden one’s finances.

You might be wondering why I am talking about Christmas today when it is only July.  Both of my children’s birthdays fall in July.  Once their birthdays have passed I begin thinking about the next big event, which is Christmas.  Giving myself  some time to think, plan, and prepare helps to save money.  Hopefully, this post will encourage you to think ahead and plan too so that you can also save money.

Here are some ways to save money on Christmas gifts. Another day we can discuss ways to save money on the other parts of Christmas.

1.  Get help from friends and family.  Let them know what you’re shopping for.  When I do this, other people let me know when they spot a good deal on something I need.  It goes both ways.  I have been known to text pictures to people at midnight on Black Friday with deals they might be interested in.  It helps to have others watching out for what you need.

2.  Ask friends and family what they want.  Hopefully, this will avoid countless hours shopping, racking your brain, wasted gas, extra unwanted products in the environment, and the hassle of returns.

3.  Try gift cards.  Some people may think this is inappropriate, but I think it’s a great solution.  Gift cards save time, wrapping paper, shipping expenses, and help avoid unwanted gifts.  Let the person buy what they want.

4.  Save your receipts.  Get an envelope for your purse or have a special file folder in your filing cabinet.  You never know when you’ll have bought the wrong size or something didn’t work.  It’s really upsetting to return something without a receipt and not get the full value of the item.

5.  See if your store offers a gift receipt.  I think it’s nice when someone includes a gift receipt in the box.  This avoids the uncomfortable situation of asking where they bought it or if they still have the receipt.  I’ll admit that many times I’ve been left with things I couldn’t use or return.  Gift receipts are great!

6.  Be specific in your requests.  If someone asks what to get your child, try to be as specific as possible.  Tell them the exact name of the toy or their specific pants size.  Before Christmas and birthdays, I have my kids write a list of the things they really like and want.  Then when family asks for gift ideas, I have something to tell them.  I like to have a variety of lower priced items on the list too (such as hair bows, stickers, etc.) so that people don’t feel like they have to spend a lot.  This also helps with people looking for filler items.

7.  Consider drawing names with co-workers or family.  We did this with my husband’s family for several years.  To make it more fun, we kept the names we drew a secret and were surprised when we exchanged gifts.

8.  Buy just for the children.  This is becoming a common practice in our families.  We buy for our parents and the children.  This has really cut down on spending and getting unusable gifts. It also makes for a more relaxed Christmas.

9.  Consider playing a game instead of swapping gifts.  Try a white elephant or dirty Santa game.  Some games involve bringing a nice gift that someone would want.  Other games involve bringing a funny or prank type gift.  There is usually a gift maximum price suggested, such as $10-20.  With the games, each person brings one gift and each person leaves with one gift.  Be prepared for lots of laughter and fun.

10.  Be realistic.  While you’re out there shopping, you’ll probably find loads of great deals and things you want for yourself.  Be sure to budget in some money for things that you want.

11. Make a budget and stick with it. NO CHARGING! If you can only afford a $20 gift then make those dollars stretch. There are deals all around so that you can make your purchase special.

12.  Take those credit cards out of your wallet.  It’s much more tempting to charge something and purchase something out of your price range when the credit cards are in your wallet.  You don’t need a debt hangover in January.

13.  Try making homemade gifts.  With the new craft items, DIY tv shows, and Pinterest, hand crafted items have made a comeback and are more desirable.  Do you have a nitch?  You can make note cards, pillows, crocheted hats, wreaths, and many other different things that are nice.  A gift doesn’t have to be store bought.

14.  Instead of individual gifts, consider a family gift.  You could purchase a popcorn bowl and fill it with microwave popcorn, candy bars, and a new DVD.  Perhaps you could purchase the family a season pass to the aquarium or something else they would like.  The key is to think about the family and what their interests are.

15.  Keep a gift closet or special place for gifts.  Years ago, I used to have a gift closet.  I would purchase things throughout the year and put them away for later use.  Now that I no longer have a gift closet, I have gift totes. It’s not as convenient but the concept is the same.  I find things throughout the year that I think people will like (on clearance or not) and put them away for Christmas. Honestly, I think it is a more thoughtful process because I am able to think ahead and consider the person that I am buying for.  I am also able to pick up a few extra things for teachers, co-workers, and extended family.

16.  Don’t wait until the last minute.  Shopping the week before Christmas means that things will be picked over and you’ll have to choose from what’s left. You may not end up with a nice gift like you had planned, or you may have to pay more for something.

17.  Find discount codes.  Never buy anything online without looking for a discount code first.  Try sites such as RetailMeNot.com and FreeShipping.org.

18.  Give the gift of service.  Instead of you and your friend exchanging gifts, consider giving a gift of service.  Everyone wants to go out on a date with their husband.  Many of us don’t go out though because we can’t afford to go out and to pay a sitter.  Give your friend babysitting services.  You could also give other services such as housecleaning, gardening, raking, etc. Perhaps you could pick a chore that she doesn’t like to do.  Use your computer or art skills to make a certificate for the services you are giving.

19.  Consider giving something used. I remember just a few years ago my son kept asking for Rescue Heroes. Each of the figurines were around $10 each. Finally I did some searching online and found two huge lots on ebay. I got the two lots for around $50, including shipping. Something similar happened with Polly Pockets for my daughter. She soon realized that she could only get a few Polly Pocket pieces for $15 but we found a big box with buildings, figurines, clothes, and more on Craigslist for $40. Consider the person you are buying for and decide if they would mind something used.

20.  Consider regifting.  Regifting doesn’t have to be tacky or thoughtless.  We all get gifts we don’t need.  Hang onto those gifts and try to thoughtfully give them to someone else.  Perhaps you could give them to your neighbor, mail carrier, your child’s teacher, the person that picks up your recycling, or your favorite bank teller.  Regifting doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  Just make sure what you are giving is considerate of what that person likes and that the gift is in good condition.  Here is a post with regifting tips.

21. Look for early sales. Loads of people shop on Black Friday but now stores are doing something different — Some are offering a week of online savings where specific items are offered each day during the sale.  Some stores are also offering big savings before Black Friday. They want your business and your money so they are looking for competitive and creative ways to get your attention.

This is certainly not a complete list of ways to save on Christmas gifts.  Which ways do you save?

image credit

This article was originally written by me in 2007. It has been revised and edited.


Karen

Happy Easter!

April 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Easter, Holidays, Inspirational

Happy Easter! The day is ending but thankfully the story never ends and it is always relevant. This is a picture I took this morning. I hope you enjoy it. Happy Resurrection Day!

 

“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” John 4:10


Karen

7 Ways to Save Money on Easter with the Kids

Another holiday is coming up this week.  To my family and myself Easter is not about the Easter bunny and how much stuff we can get, but we do like to celebrate and have a good time.  All of the baskets, candy, eggs, and dyes can get expensive very quickly.  Here are some tips to save.

1)  Save your Easter baskets and plastic eggs for next year. I heard someone say the other day that they saved money this year by not purchasing new baskets.  Do people really buy new baskets each year?  Why would you purchase a new basket when you only used it once?  Sometimes I am shocked by the wastefulness of money and extra materials unnecessarily put into our environment.  I wrap our Easter buckets and eggs in a plastic bag and put them in the attic for next year.

2)  Shop now for next year. Of course it’s too late to do this for this week’s Easter, but it’s not too late to start for next year.  I wait until seasonal stuff goes 75-90% off and then I purchase novelty items.  My children are still in the primary grades of school and so each year their teachers ask for things for Easter, Christmas, Halloween, etc.  Last year I purchased $10 of sparkly stickers at CVS for $1.  I proudly sent them to school this week with my son for their Easter baskets.

3)  Check out community events. I know in our area some churches and towns are having egg hunts. These are completely free.  Take notice of banners, church signs, and facebook posts from your city or town.

4)  Take advantage of sales and deals. Just this week CVS had some free Easter items after the Extra Care Buck rewards.  Sometimes there are coupons for candy in the Sunday paper.

5)  Avoid egg kits and make your own dye. Mix 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and 1 cup of hot water, and, then add drops of food color until you are happy with the hue. The directions are on the back of many food coloring packages.  I have also used natural items such as onion skins and cabbage.  Boil the items with vinegar and water to release the natural colors.

6)  Use what you already have. As I already mentioned, I am using the Easter buckets and eggs from last year but this time I am referring to stuffing the plastic eggs.  Last night I stuffed several eggs with stickers and things that we already have here at home.  I also took some money from the coin jar and put quarters in a few of the eggs.  The kids will be glad to get a little spending money.

7)  Consider purchasing a gift instead. In the past I have usually given my children a small gift rather than a basket full of stuffed animals, trinkets, and things they don’t need.  Consider a Bible, dvd, cd, or some other item.  My children get more than enough candy and treats from school and church so I try to get them something more useful.

These are just a few ways to save.  Can you add to the list?

image sxc.hu


Karen

12 Useful Tips for Regifting

December 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Holidays, money saving tips, shopping

We have all received gifts that we find unuseful. There are some things that can be returned and other items leave you wondering where in the world they they came from. Rather than tossing or donating your unwanted gifts, consider repurposing them by regifting. Although regifting may sound tacky to some of you, here are some useful tips to consider.

1. Don’t give partially used gift cards. I received a used gift card more than seven years ago when my daughter was born and I still remember it like it was yesterday. The gift card was for $17 and some change. It left me wondering if they returned something and just gave me the gift card from the return or if someone gave them a gift card and they used it, and were giving the leftovers to me. If you have a gift card with an odd amount on it, consider adding a few dollars to it so that you can use it for a gift. Rather than giving someone a gift card with $17.86 on it, add $2.14 to make it an even $20.

2. Only give new unopened gifts. If you have to dust it or clean it first, then don’t regift it.

3. Consider using your unwanted gifts for a gift exchange party. Some refer to this game as Dirty Santa. I have played it with family, co-workers, and at church Christmas parties. It is actually pretty fun. You pick a number and that determines when you’ll get a turn in the game. The first person picks a wrapped present and they unwrap it. Then the next person can take the first person’s present or choose a new wrapped present and unwrap it. Each present can only be taken twice. Honestly, I think this is one of the best ways to unload an unwanted gift. For these gift exchange games, it’s usually assumed that people will bring something funny or something they don’t want.

4. Don’t just regift something to get rid of it. Make sure the person will like or appreciate the gift.

5. Remember who gave you the gift in the beginning. Don’t regift the item to someone who will show it the person who gave it to you. You don’t want to regift that book to your cousin who will show your aunt.

6. Make sure all the paper and tape from the original gift is gone. You don’t want evidence that the item was already gifted to you. (You need to be careful of this issue on things you buy from the store as well. I have seen items on the shelves that had a little bit of tape or wrapping paper left on the boxes.)

7. Be careful what you say about the gifts people give you. I’ve heard of people telling others humorous stories about the gifts they received from others and then regifting the items the next year. The people knew the item was a regift because they remember hearing the stories from the year before.

8. Make sure you know what’s in the box. You may get a present that has a crock pot on the box, but that doesn’t mean that there’s a crock pot inside. Some people simply reuse boxes. It would really be a mess if you thought you were giving someone a crock pot, but you gave them something else. Or worse, there could be a card inside with your name on it.

9. Only regift current items. And by that I mean don’t give someone an old CD, discolored cologne, a bath product that is no longer sold, etc. I remember one year someone gave me a set of Bath & Body Works products. I took it back to exchange it for a different scent and found out that Bath & Body Works had new and different packaging from what was on my gift. To make things worse, when I opened the gift, there was an expired coupon inside.

10. If you don’t have money for a gift, then choose something that your friend has complemented in your home. Then tell them that you didn’t have any money to buy them something, but you knew they really liked the crystal clock you have on your dresser, and you wanted them to have it. Honesty would probably be appreciated and the person would actually get something they like.

11. Don’t regift handmade items. Handmade items are very personal and the person receiving the item will be sure to ask, “Did you make this?”

12. Consider using your unwanted gifts for those in need. Each year, I know that my church will collect coats, blankets, and toys. I also know that each year I will assemble shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. I have used things that we have received to help fill the shoeboxes. (Of course the items were new.) This is an inexpensive way to bless others with a new item of something that you don’t need.

If you don’t want to regift, but don’t want to hurt your pocketbook, try this certificate from Regiftable.com. You can make a certificate for something you want to give someone, such as free babysitting. I’d love for someone to give me some free babysitting or housecleaning.

Do you regift? What items have you regifted? Do you have any regifting tips?

image sxc


Karen

Pumpkin Recipe Round-Up

Edited September 2013. I am in the process of updating some broken links and adding more pumpkin recipes. If you have a link, please feel free to add it below.

I have been cooking and freezing lots of pumpkin these past few weeks (more on that later) and so I’ve been searching around the web for new pumpkin recipes.  I am definitely interested in trying some new desserts and I’ve really been wanting to try pumpkin pancakes.  Here are some of the recipes I’ve found.

Pumpkin Blondie

Pumpkin Blondie - Linette’s recipe sounds delicious. I’m looking forward to trying these soon.

Pumpkin Dream Cake – Oh my word! This so good! Someone made this for our community group and it was delicious!

Pumpkin Pie Dip - Sounds great to serve with sliced fruit, graham crackers, bread, or gingersnaps.

Pumpkin Cheesecake – This recipe is an adaptation of Paula Deen’s recipe and includes photos.

Pumpkin Pie Noir – Really rich and really good.

Pumpkin Chai Pots de Creme with Pumpkin Seed Brittle – Looking for something different to try?

Honey Punkin Cream Cheese Pie – Sounds delicious and easy to make!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies – I’ve never had pumpkin snickerdoodles but these sound great!

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls – These look so good and offer a subtle way to incorporate pumpkin into your meal.

Pumpkin Waffles – These would be great to cook and freeze for later use.

Pumpkin Pancakes – Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up to the smell of pumpkin pancakes?

Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts – I suddenly feel the need to go buy a doughnut pan.

Pumpkin Carrot Cake Muffins – Oh my. Which recipe do I try first?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins - You might like a little chocolate with your pumpkin.

Pumpkin Muffins – I’ve been looking for some pumpkin bread and muffin recipes to try. This one uses sweetener instead of sugar.

Pumpkin Bread and Muffins – PickYourOwn.org always has wonderful ideas for using fresh fruits and vegetables.

Pumpkin Soup – Another recipe from PickYourOwn.org.

If you have any pumpkin recipes, please feel free to leave them in the comments for others to enjoy.

image (c) Linette Gerlach


Karen

Spiced Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing

My friend Heather posted a picture of her spiced cupcakes on facebook and I thought of you all.  She was kind enough to share the recipe with us.  :)  These would be really cute as a dessert for Thanksgiving.

Spiced Cake:

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put cupcake liners in cupcake pans. In a small mixing bowl whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, ground ginger. Cream the butter, sugar and salt in an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk alternately. Bake approximately 18 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean). Let cool completely.

In the meantime take 24 caramel candies ( the ones you can buy in a bag for a dollar) and pinch one end, and forming into a pie shape. Set aside.

Buttercream icing:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • Pinch salt ( I like popcorn salter.. it is finer and dissolves easier)
  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Beat the butter, shortening and salt together until creamy with an electric mixer. Add half the confectioners’ sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Combine the vanilla extract and heavy cream. Gradually beat in the remaining confectioners’ sugar alternating with the cream mixture until it is all incorporated and the frosting is light and fluffy.

Buy some premade fondant if you aren’t used to working with it . . . it is much easier! You can purchase it at any craft store or Walmart.

Roll the fondant out, use confectioners sugar to keep it from sticking. Place the caramels on the fondant and cut to size. Pinch the fondant onto the candy.

Ice the cupcakes, place the caramels onto them pushing down slightly. Then just add a “dollop” of buttercream to the top to complete the pumpkin pie look.

Thanks Heather for sharing!

images (c) Heather Waldron


Karen