Last minute valentine’s gifts

still looking for that something special? Do something romantic without looking bad.

– Make a music CD. With downloads available for less than $1 a song, it’s easy to put together a great romantic playlist of son’s that your significant other will love (and love you for). Legal downloads can be obtained from many sources including itunes.com, Walmart.com and many others. You probably have everything you need (an ipod or cd burner) to create romantic sounds.

– Rent a movie. Children in the house? Find a baby sitter if the kids are old enough for some uninterupted entertainment.

– Dinner. Order in or take out if you don’t have the skills or desire to cook a meal. Candles with some great “mood music” can make even McDonald’s seem like romance on a tight budget. Add an inexpensive bottle of red wine if you’re staying in.

Do remember, love isn’t just for one day of the year, surprise your valentine now and then any time of the year.

25 Inexpensive and Romantic Ideas for Valentine’s Day

By Jamie Jefferson

You can be romantic this Valentine’s Day without spending too much. All it takes is a little creativity and forethought. The key lies in personalizing your celebration and letting your loved one know how special you feel each ordinary day that you are together.

Here are 25 ideas for celebrating your love this February 14th, and throughout the year.

1. Make a memory jar. Take simple slips of paper and write a favorite memory on each one. Be specific, and try to record as much about the occasion as you can. Tuck them into a jar or wooden box, tied with a bow.

The time you spend reminiscing and recording these memories will contribute to your own romantic mood, and what your partner thinks is a plain old box of chocolates will instead be a treasured gift for years to come. Plus, you can add memories to the box for future birthday, holiday, or Valentine’s Day celebrations.

2. Build a romantic fire. Host your own indoor picnic, complete with a bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries.

3. Recreate your first date together. What were you wearing? Where did you go? Do you remember what you talked about? Spend the evening reminiscing and reflecting on how far you have come as a couple.

4. Spoon.

5. Choose a book in which you are both interested, fiction or nonfiction. Read a new chapter each night before bed. This cozy tradition will allow you to spend some quality time together and often makes for thought provoking breakfast conversations.

6. Make a tape of the songs special to your relationship. Include “your song,” songs from your wedding, songs from favorite movies. Add a personal voice dedication and leave it in his briefcase, Walkman, or car stereo.

7. Turn off the TV and play a game of Scrabble or Pictionary.

8. Write about the feelings you experienced when you first met your mate. Write about the first time you knew you were in love.

9. Frame a new, special photo of the two of you and display it in your home.

10. Have you been holding a grudge against your partner? Today, forgive it and move on. Witness how much power the act of forgiveness injects into your relationship.

11. Kidnap your spouse. A friend of mine had a lot of success with this one. She knew her husband had always wanted to get married in Vegas, but he had agreed to a large, formal ceremony hosted by her family. So, after they had been married 10 years, she surprised him at work with a packed suitcase. They caught an evening flight and renewed their vows before an Elvis impersonator in a Vegas chapel. Years later, they are still talking about it.

12. Travel to another town, where no one will recognize you. Check into a hotel or Bed and Breakfast.

13. Jot down 20 things you love about your partner and slip it under his dinner plate.

14. Cook her favorite breakfast.

15. Choose a book you both will enjoy, and read it aloud together.

16. Have a scavenger hunt. Write a few poems, wrap candy kisses inside, and hide them around the house. Each poem should be a clue to finding the next one. Make sure the final clue lands your mate someplace you want to end up for the entire evening. A romance package, including a bottle of champagne and new lingerie, is a nice touch.

17. Write down fifty favorite memories of your life spent together so far. Invite your partner to add to the list, as well as to share special ideas for the future.

18. Leave a message on her voicemail with a silly, romantic poem. (Roses are red, violets are blue . . .)

19. Make a CD featuring the songs that have been important in your relationship. Slip it into the CD player of her car.

20. Bring homemade cookies or brownies to his office with a simple love note.

21. Surprise her with some bath salts and her favorite magazine. Then take the kids out of the house for the evening so she can enjoy some time alone.

22. Stash a love note in his shoe.

23. Spend some time talking about all the goals you have been able to accomplish during your time as a couple. Reflecting on the things that you have been able to do with the strength of the other, including the challenges, can really help you to remember and to celebrate the depth of your relationship and how you have supported one another through it all.

24. Serve her breakfast in bed.

25. Plan a special weekend getaway. Check online travel sites for prices on weekend romantic getaways, or plan a simple trip to a neighboring town.

Use your imagination to create your own romantic memories today.

Jamie Jefferson writes for Momscape at http://www.momscape.com Visit today for the latest online Coupon Codes including coupons for discount travel.

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Valentines activities from Crayola

Crayola offers a variety of coloring pages and cute crafts for kids (and they’re crayons). You must be registered to view the pages, but it’s free. Sign up for their newsletter while you’re there (the option to receive the newsletter is part of the registration). 

Nice photos and easy to follow directions are included with each project.  The parents section of the site includes party ideas and an arts and crafts search. The only thing they’re really missing is a suggested age range or skill level required.

 

 

Touch the heart of the one you love

Spend Less, Give More 

Valentine’s day is almost here and many of you are still struggling with holiday bills. Luckily, telling someone how much you care is free, and shouldn’t be reserved for just a few times a year.

For the Grownups


Kid’s Projects

Remember, it really is the thought that counts. Money is one of the top causes of marital arguments, so the less you have to spend, the more creative you can be and the more your gift needs to come from the heart and not the wallet. You are the gift and so is your significant other.

Trying to find a bargain

Yesterday, we headed out to the York Fairgrounds for one of those Merchandise closeout type sales they hold in expo centers everywhere. We’d tried this once before and weren’t too impressed with what we saw, but it had been a few years and we decided to try again. The admission was $6 per adult (free for kids 12 and under) so our grand total was $12 to get in. Of course, the advertisements promised $99 TV’s, $5 Levi jeans, and all kinds of other incentives to show up. The first thing in the door, there were signs everywhere saying that the jeans price was a misprint and there were no HDTV’s or anything else worth showing up for basically. This show was about half the size of the last one we attended and no real bargains that I could see. Clothes were still do expensive (we’d have done better at the outlet malls nearby), computers were along the historical reference book category (most were slower than my oldest computer which is 6 years old). Very disappointing, total waste of $12 and to be honest, someone should sue them for false advertising. We tried it twice… not doing it again.

 Some good did come of our excursion though. We stopped by Value City on our way home. This is not a store that would be anywhere in our normal commute. There we found quite a few clothes on discount, 40% off in most cases. My daughter has been outgrowing her pants, in height not waist. We were able to find her quite a few pair of pants, many with matching belts that were only 5.99 – 7.99 after the discounts. I spent $102 dollars on a bag full of pants and a few shirts for me. There are a lot of children’s clothes posted on Freecycle, and it’s very easy to get rid of things there, but there’s a lot of competition to receive clothes, so I normally don’t even try. My daughter gets a lot of hand-me-downs from friends which she loves, but somehow, we ended up with a lot of size 6 pants which are all getting too short, she too small for the next full size up, so strangely enough, we’re finding a lot of size 5/6 and 6x that find her (beats me how a child can be too tall for a 6 but the 5/6’s are longer, it may just be manufacturer or just the style these days with the bootcuts and such).

One more stop at Ollies rounded out the day. I got a great book on making storage shelves and cabinets for only 4.99. I’m pre-planning making over my son’s old bedroom into an office after he graduates from college. I’m hoping to do a great “Trading Spaces” type makeover on a tight budget. After watching what they do to create storage, I  think just about anyone with some self-confidence and the right tools can be pretty inventive on their own. I LOVE to watch TLC’s Flip This House and Property Ladder. It’s really opening my eyes to what can be done with the space I already have. Sometimes, you just have to allow yourself to experiment and realize anything you don’t like, you can always paint over later 😉

I’m a clutterbug :(

I admit it. I need a support group LOL. This weekend, I finally decided that the desk that we put upstairs 2 years ago to make room for the Christmas tree was never going to see use again. It’s been sitting in the middle of my son’s bedroom (he’s only here a few days a month) for all this time. Of course, we wrestled it down the stairs and out the door with the idea that we’d put a free sign on it and let it find it’s way to someone else’s home, only to realize it was raining lightly and chances were good it would be ruined before rescued, so we trudged around the side of the house to the porch and called on the local Freecycle group to the rescue. Thank goodness, within the hour it was gone to a new home with someone across town.

3 bags of fabric that my mother gave me almost a year and a half ago, with the instruction to find it a new home have finally left the spot next to my bed (I have no clue why I didn’t post them sooner), also found a new home along with a scooby doo interactive book and a mismatched scooby doo pillowcase. Last week I gave away a stack of programming books that was at least 3 feet high. Haven’t cracked one of them since I was in school 5 years ago and don’t expect to ever again.

Why do we hold on to things we don’t need? It’s very frustrating to not have room for the things you really do want, but the inability to get rid of things without guilt or regret. I’m slowing trying to part with things that don’t make me happy, I can’t say I’ll ever recover from my packrat “illness”, but, I can say that I’m doing better than I was. Part of my recovery is learning to say No. For years, people were always trying to give me things I didn’t need. When I said no, they looked at me like they couldn’t believe I was turning down such a great item (whatever it may be). So, to avoid disappointing someone, I’d take it home, and put it somewhere. I recently found a baby pool float tucked behind a bunch of things on my bookshelf. I have no clue how it got there. I have half an idea where it came from, but not when. My youngest child is now 9 years old. Chances are good that this item has been in my home for at least 7 years. It’s practically brand new except that it’s not in a package of any type, so, it’s finding a new home tomorrow.

We can all use a reminder now and then: Just because it’s free, doesn’t mean it’s worth taking, and just because it’s worth money doesn’t mean it’s worth keeping.

I’m going to encourage each of you to go through a few closets and bookshelves (you may not need to go very far). Fill a bag (any size, start small if you need to with a plastic shopping bag) and donate it to charity or join a local freecycle or other gifting group and find it a new home, fill one bag with junk that broken, stained, hardened beyond use (lotions in the back of the closet are a good candidate for toxic disposal :p) and with any luck, you’ll find a few things you didn’t know you had and might enjoy. Most of us start a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, make your home part of that plan and drop a few unwanted pounds in items that are collecting dust around your home (husbands and children don’t count). Involve the kids too while you’re at it. My daughter loves handing down unwanted items to other children. Her barney tapes (which she inherited from her older brother) are slowly finding their way into other homes. I believe by the end of the week we’ll have uncovered the last of them.

If you’re looking for a support group for housework, you’re in luck, check out http://www.flylady.com and join the mailing list for weekday “missions”, a series of themed steal missions into the deep recesses of your medicine cabinets and closets. Each mission is a short adventure that even us working moms can handle if we put our minds to it. 

Take Credit For Energy Improvements

Unlike a tax deduction, which reduces the amount of income subject to tax, a tax credit directly reduces the amount of federal income tax you pay.

(NAPSI)-Uncle Sam is ready to give you credit for the steps you take to reduce energy consumption in your home. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides valuable tax credits-as much as $300 to consumers who purchase qualified high-efficiency heating, cooling and water-heating equipment.

These new tax credits took effect in January 2006. Unlike a tax deduction, which reduces the amount of income subject to tax, a tax credit directly reduces the amount of federal income tax you pay or increases the tax refund you receive.

The new energy legislation defines the type of equipment and the amount of the credit in this way:

• High-efficiency gas, oil and propane furnaces and boilers: $150

• High-efficiency central air-conditioning units, including air-source and ground-source heat pumps: $300

• High-efficiency fans for heating and cooling systems: $50

• High-efficiency water heaters, including heat pump water heaters: $300.

Manufacturers and retailers should be able to tell homeowners whether a specific product qualifies for a tax credit. Qualifying efficiencies identified in the bill include:

• Furnaces and boilers: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) of 95 or higher

• Air-source heat pumps: Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) of 9 or greater, Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 15 or higher and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of 13 or higher

• Central air-conditioning units: SEER of 15 and EER of 12.5.

In addition to providing tax credits, these high-efficiency products also offer homeowners lower home energy bills, increased indoor comfort and reduced air pollution. That’s because this new equipment employs technologies that make new heating systems much more energy efficient than the furnace or heat pump currently warming your home.

The maximum credit for all taxable years is $500 and is applicable to other home energy-efficiency improvements, including the installation of new windows, insulation, doors and roofs. To qualify for the tax credits, homeowners will need to verify the efficiency of the equipment and the date when it was placed in service. The equipment must be installed between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2007.

Coleman® heating, ventilation and air-conditioning products manufactured by Johnson Controls meet the efficiency specifications set forth in the new energy bill. To learn more about the energy-efficient Echelon™ Series of air conditioners, heat pumps and furnaces, visit http://www.colemanac.com.

 For more infomation about potential energy tax credit, visit

 

Gift Card Fraud

Sometimes, chain emails go around that actually have truth in them. Recently I received an email that warned against Gift Card Fraud.

 

Well the crooks have found a way to rob you of your gift card balance.
If you buy Gift Cards from a display rack that has various store cards
you may become a victim of theft.  Crooks are now jotting down the card
numbers in the store and then wait a few days and call to see how much
of a balance THEY have on the card. Once they find the card is
activated, and then they go online and start shopping. You may want to
purchase your card from a customer service person, where they do not
have the Gift Cards viewable to the public. Please share this with all
your family and friends…

There are several news sites that list articles describing actual cases of this involving large chains. While some have made efforts to prevent this from happening (we can’t say for sure that it’s not possible). It certainly doesn’t hurt to purchase gift cards from customer service rather than off the rack.
Here’s to a fraud free Christmas.