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Fierce Grammy’s Guide: Best Christmas Gift Ideas For Grandkids

Cherish Relationships, Family
Christmas Gift Ideas for Grandkids
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Let’s face it: grandchildren are the most fun to buy presents for, but can sometimes be the hardest. It’s difficult to keep track of what kids these days are interested in, and after you learn, it can change faster than you can say “iPhone!”

But there’s nothing quite as special as the look of joy on a child’s face when Christmas morning comes and they open presents. (And the inevitable hug afterwards!).

When I shop for my grand-darlings, I try to think back to being a parent and remember the practical side of gifts, too. Here are a few ground rules:

  1. SAFETY: Even if you’re buying for an older child, be sensitive to lots of small parts that could be dangerous to younger kids.
  2. SANITY: Keep parents in mind. Ask about things like an art set that might create large messes or a drum set that might affect the acoustics of home life. Your grandson might be the next Picasso or Ringo Starr but sometimes those messy or loud  gifts are best kept at grandma’s house!
  3. SMART: It’s no secret that all of our grand-darlings are clearly advanced, which is why it’s important to look for educational toys that help develop their young (and obviously brilliant) minds.
  4. LOCAL: Shop local when you can. ‘Nuff said.
  5. BOOKS ARE SUPREME: The last rule for me is that each grandchild always gets a book, no matter what. (Not that I’m biased or anything because I’m an author, I just think kids and books go together like partridges and peartrees).

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The Fierce Gift Guide for Girlfriends: Christmas Gift Ideas for Friends as Fierce as You

Cherish Relationships
Christmas Gift Ideas for Friends

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Girlfriends are sometimes the easiest to shop for. Many times, they love the same things you do. You share interests, hobbies, and passions. You do life together!

It’s hard to set foot in a store without seeing something and immediately thinking of one of your friends who would love it. That’s what makes shopping for friends so fun!

The challenge for me is that I always want to come up with the absolutely perfect, most thoughtful present for those friends who mean the most, but this time of year I always seem to run out of time to make them a quilt by hand, bake up artisanal cinnamon rolls, or craft up something spectacular and one of a kind. There’s also the issue that many of my friends aren’t local.

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t knock it out of the park for Christmas!

My gift numero uno for my friends this year – and I already ordered in bulk – was the Living Well Spending Less planner (aka my secret weapon on managing my schedule and getting to do the things that matter most to me).

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The Fierce Way to Curb Holiday Spending

Cherish Relationships, Creativity and Crafts, Finances
holiday spending

As I mentioned in my recent post about love, gift giving is my love language. I show my love by sending the most thoughtful gifts to those I love. I must say I’m quite good at it.

But there’s just one little problem. 

Things can get, well, a little out of hand. 

It’s so easy to get caught up with the gift-giving spirit of the season, and the catchy Christmas carols don’t exactly help…Santa honey one thing I really do need, the deed to a platinum mine…or I want a hippopotamus for Christmas…or all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth…or all I want for Christmas is you…

You get the idea. Whether it’s your Instagram feed or your friends or the displays at the store, everywhere you look, you are prompted to want something or buy something. Charge it and pay for it later.

I’m not saying gifts are bad. But really, do your loved ones and friends want you to blow out your budget on things you can’t afford? Probably not. 

This year, make a plan and stick to it. My friend and financial sherpa Peggy Doviak, whose book has been helping the Chairman and I get a handle on our finances, shares a few ideas on how to make this the best Christmas ever without breaking the bank. 

We had such a great response from Peggy’s last post on planning for retirement, I wanted to bringing her back to shower us all with her bright, shining financial wisdom. 

Here’s what she had to say. 

The Best Christmas Ever

Do the upcoming holidays fill you with joy or dread? Are you already wearing cozy holiday sweaters, drinking hot cocoa, and watching Hallmark movies? Or do you find yourself wondering whether Scrooge was right, and we really should be boiling people in their own plum pudding?

I think money is one of the leading causes of holiday stress for people. We want to create the perfect event, and we try not to think of the bill that will arrive in the mail around January 15th. Well, here’s the good news—it’s possible to have a great holiday season and stay out of debt. Planning ahead, being willing to spend hours rather than dollars, and knowing how to say “no” can help you have a wonderful, prosperous December. continue reading

Love You Because…

Cherish Relationships, Grow in Wisdom
love languages

Before the start of each new year, I think carefully and choose a word to represent a personal quality or trait I want to focus on for the coming year. This isn’t something I thought up myself.  The first person I heard talk about this was Debbie Macomber, a wonderful author who is also a wonderful friend. Debbie is someone who has mastered the art of living intentionally, and that quality shines through in her character and her life.

Since then, I’ve met many others who also choose a word of the year. If this is a new concept for you, I recommend you give it a try in 2019; it’s a practice that can help focus your intention and even change your life, in large ways and small.

My word of the year for 2017 was love, and it was one of the most challenging words I’ve ever chosen. However, searching for ways to live out that word, intentionally showing love to someone every day taught me a lot. It also changed me, in some some good ways. continue reading

My Son’s Wedding: The Dress! The Flowers! The Epic Mother Son Dance!

Celebrate Life, Family, Hospitality and Entertaining
mother son dance

It seems like yesterday when my youngest son thought every single animal, no matter what it was, was a cow. Moo! (it was a cat), Moo! (it was a dog). Moo! (It was an elephant for goodness sake).

Just to embarrass him, here’s a picture of him as a little ball of fluff. Adorable, right?

Oh, and here is one from those awkward middle school years with braces.

It’s my right as a mother to share these on the internet, yes? I think so. continue reading

The Art of Easy Entertaining and the Cutest Fall Baby “Sprinkle” Ever

Hospitality and Entertaining
easy entertaining
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I love to entertain.  Always have.  I’d go so far as to say that I enjoy throwing parties even more than attending them.

But for a lot of women, the idea of entertaining at home is an intimidating, even frightening prospect.

I think that’s because many people have the wrong idea about what it takes to entertain.  You don’t need to have buckets of money, a fancy house in a fancy neighborhood, or the culinary skills of Martha Stewart to throw a good party.

Showing hospitality is simply about sincerely welcoming others into your home with a warm and open heart. It doesn’t have to be complicated, or expensive. In fact, some of the best parties I’ve ever been to, or given, have been the simplest.

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Join The Party: The Power and Importance of Female Friendships

Cherish Relationships, Friends and Community
female friendships

“No, thanks. I’m not really a joiner.”

How many times have you heard that? Or said that? If you’re anything like me, the answer is plenty – on both counts.

Though I’ve written whole novels and even a whole series of novels centered on the subject of community and friendship among women, I don’t think of myself as a joiner.  Much of the time, I prefer to keep my own company or hang out with the imaginary friends who inhabit my books. I spend so much time alone, and so comfortably, that I have occasionally been accused of being a hermit. continue reading

Our Journey: What I’ve Learned Since My Husband’s Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

Cherish Relationships, Family, Healing and Hope

Two years ago, my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

This is something I haven’t talked about much until today, not online and not on this blog.  There were a couple of reasons for that.

For one thing, though it impacted me as well, it really wasn’t my story to tell.  It was my husband’s and he is a very private person.

Also, in our usual straightforward and efficient way, we handled it.  After talking with doctors and doing quite a bit of research, my husband had surgery to remove his prostate.  The margins were clear and no chemotherapy or radiation was deemed necessary. After a few months of recovery, everything seemed fine and we went on with our lives. continue reading

Cool Down with Low Calorie Cocktails (4 points or less on Weight Watchers!)

Food for Grownups, Hospitality and Entertaining
low calorie cocktails, weight watcher cocktail recipes
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I don’t know about you, but in Central Oregon, we’ve had quite a heat wave. My car said the temperature was 104 yesterday. My car can be a bit dramatic (we have that in common), but still, this part of the country just isn’t set up for three figure temperatures. Most houses around here don’t even have air conditioning.

So what do I do to cool down? Well, for one, I’ve been spending a lot of time swimming laps, training for my first triathlon (T minus 1 month!). But with guests in the house this week, I decided to take it upon myself to bless them with a plethora of summer sippers to help us beat the heat. Aren’t I a good hostess?

There was a couple of criteria for these cocktails. First, they needed to be delicious. Second, for the benefit of everyone here, they needed to be healthier than normal. Personally, I aimed to keep each cocktail at four points or less on my Weight Watchers Freestyle plan (and I succeeded, most of my recipes are only 3 points!). We got a little creative with the ingredient list, using Truvia, a naturally-derived sugar alternative, and diet ginger beer, diet tonic, and flavored kombucha.

I made:

  • Skinny G&T (3 points)
  • Perky Paloma (4 points)
  • Blackberry Basil Mule (3 points)
  • Grapefruit Kombucha Gimlet (3 points)

Wondering how they turned out? They were awesome.

Here’s four recipes for low calorie cocktails, four points or less on Weight Watchers, that you and your guests will love this summer.

         

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Perky Paloma


  • Author: Marie
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving
  • Category: cocktails
  • Method: stirred
  • Cuisine: happy hour

Description

Step aside, margarita. This tequila-based cocktail is apparently the national drink of Mexico. It’s refreshing, light, and oh so festive. Salted rim optional.


Ingredients

¼ cup fresh grapefruit juice
half of a lime
1 tsp Truvia
1.5 oz. tequila
¼ cup club soda
grapefruit wedge for garnish

Instructions

In a glass, combine Tequila, Stevia, juice from half a lime and fresh grapefruit juice. Stir well. Top it off with diet club soda and ice, and garnish with a grapefruit wedge.

Keywords: paloma, tequila, low-point cocktail recipe, low-calorie cocktail recipe, weight watchers cocktail

 

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Skinny Gin & Tonic


  • Author: Marie
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving
  • Category: cocktails
  • Method: on the rocks
  • Cuisine: happy hour

Description

One of the lowest calorie cocktails possible, aside from just drinking straight liquor (which I don’t really recommend!) is the gin and tonic. Its light, bubbly, and refreshing.


Ingredients

1.5 oz gin (I use Tanqueray)

3 lime wedges

4 oz diet tonic water


Instructions

Mix all ingredients together with ice in the glass of your choice. Garnish with more limes.

Keywords: gin and tonic, weight watchers cocktail recipe, low-point cocktail, low-calorie cocktail

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Blackberry Basil Mule


  • Author: Marie
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving
  • Category: cocktails
  • Method: stirred
  • Cuisine: happy hour

Description

While a Moscow Mule is traditionally served with mint and lime, this version is full of summer flavor, with blackberry and basil leading the charge. The diet ginger beer is the perfect thing to take it up a notch.


Ingredients

1/4 cup blackberries

1 TB basil leaves, chiffonade or minced

½ lime

1.5 oz vodka

½ cup diet ginger beer

½ TB Truvia optional (add sweetener as needed. my berries were so sweet I didn’t need any!)

extra basil and lime wedge for garnish


Instructions

Mix the berries, basil leaves, vodka, Stevia, and lime juice in the glass of your choice. Muddle the berries using a muddler tool. Top it off with ginger beer. Shake vigorously in cocktail shaker with ice and strain. Pour into a festive glass and garnish. Voila!

Keywords: mule, vodka, blackberry, basil, low-calorie cocktail recipe, low-point cocktail

low calorie cocktails, weight watcher cocktail recipes

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low calorie cocktails, weight watcher cocktail recipes

Grapefruit Kombucha Gimlet


  • Author: Marie
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving
  • Category: cocktails
  • Method: shaken
  • Cuisine: happy hour

Description

A gimlet is traditionally a gin-based cocktail. Grapefruit masks gin in a dangerously wonderful way. This grapefruit kombucha, which is lower points than juice, is also great for gut health since its a fermented tea product. I love the added sweetness and the bit of fizz it brings.


Ingredients

1/4 cup Grapefruit kombucha (or flavored Kombucha of your choice)

1.5 oz. gin

juice of half a lime

1 tsp. Truvia

Grapefruit wedge


Instructions

Pour all ingredients into cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with grapefruit slice.

Keywords: gimlet, gin, grapefruit, low-point cocktail recipe, low-calorie cocktail recipe

Perfect Make Ahead Summer Dinner Party Menu (Just 5 Weight Watchers Points!)

Food for Grownups, Hospitality and Entertaining
summer dinner party menu weight watchers
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If you’re busy (and who isn’t?) hosting friends for dinner can be a real challenge.

Unless, of course, you’re prepared.

This summer, I’ve pulled together some gorgeous, favorite recipes into an easy summer dinner party menu that can mostly be made ahead.

You know what that means, don’t you? You can actually go to your dinner party instead of spending it in the kitchen. Doesn’t that sound like a nice change? continue reading