Hot Gifts for Christmas!

I may have mentioned that I’m a bit frugal. This frugality could not be better represented than by showing you one of my most beloved possessions: my flat iron.

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It’s been my hair tool of choice for seven years, saving me from my naturally big, wavy hair. It succeeded where other flat irons before it had failed, and I can only assume the price you pay for a flat iron directly relates to its ability to smooth wild, coarse hair. $125 was a steep price to pay, but it was worth every penny.

See that hair?  That was in the morning.  It only gets bigger as the day goes on.

See that hair? That was in the morning. It only gets bigger as the day goes on.

Unfortunately for my flat iron, it has suffered greatly in these seven years. About six years ago, my then 3 year old son came to me with a black cord in his hand. (While it was unplugged, thank the Lord,) he had cut the cord purely out of curiosity. After I had a bit of a freak out over cutting cords and using scissors and a whining “Why did it have to be my super expensive flat iron?!” moment, my husband calmly informed me that he could repair the cord. Well okay then.

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It’s worn out a bit after six years.

Next, the plug decided it had had too many violent meetings with the floor and cracked open. At that point, the plug was replaced.

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After years of use and abuse (mostly from kids pulling it off the counter,  the flat iron began to crack and chip, pulling my hair every time I used it.

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And finally, just a few months ago, the wiring came loose inside the iron, so every few sections of hair, I’d have to shake the iron to make it turn back on.

Despite the amount of time I spend with my flat iron, I just couldn’t justify spending that much money again. Sure it had lasted seven years, but it wasn’t totally dead yet.

My husband, being the incredible gift giver he is, knew I wouldn’t buy one for myself and surprised me with a new flat iron. Luckily for me, he’s big into researching and knows my hair is difficult to work with. He found a great replacement, one I wouldn’t have purchased for myself, and it already showed off today.  I didn’t have to shake it to keep it hot, I didn’t have any hair pulled out from it getting caught in the cracks, and it’s even dual voltage, so it can make an international trip with me next month!

I did say gifts.  My husband’s gift this year came from http://www.mancrates.com. He has yet to find a spicy food he doesn’t like, and he’s apparently building up an immunity to spicy foods in general. I decided to test his taste buds this Christmas with their Hot and Spicy Crate.

You know the sauce is hot when the company hangs little skulls from each bottle and puts the hottest of them all in a coffin.  The shipping speed was incredible, and the guys at http://www.mancrates.com even took time to research ingredients while I was on the phone to make sure they didn’t contain MSG (they don’t).  My husband loved that he had a crate and a small crowbar under the tree and couldn’t wait to see what was inside.  This website is seriously my new go-to site for man gifts.  My dad is getting an Exotic Meats Jerkygram, but my husband loved the crate idea so much that he transferred my dad’s jerky into the crate and resealed it.  It’s sort of payback for my dad doing crazy things with gifts, like wrapping them in umpteen layers of duct tape and not allowing scissors to be used to open them.

What about you, did you have a great Christmas?

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Tasty Traditions

When I was a little girl,  I loved spending the weekend at my grandparents’ house. Every December, my grandmother would set out the ingredients for my favorite treat,  adding each item from memory, the recipe long ago memorized.

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I’m not sure what I enjoyed more – getting my hands sticky with melted marshmallows from shaping the wreath or eating it almost as soon as we finished!

Now that I have children of my own, it’s a tradition I began with them. We make popcorn wreaths to share with different people each year, whether it’s neighbors, my husband’s coworkers, or close friends. (We always make one extra to eat as soon as we finish the last wreath.)

I thought I’d share the recipe here, as a fun (and a little messy) Christmas treat inspiration!

8 cups popped unsalted popcorn
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
10 drops green food coloring
1 jar maraschino cherries, halved
1 10-inch cardboard cake circle

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Put popcorn in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl, add marshmallows, powdered sugar, and butter. Microwave on high for 4 minutes, stirring twice,until sugar is dissolved and marshmallows are melted. Stir in food coloring until mixture is bright green. Pour over popcorn, tossing with a large spoon to coat evenly. Drop by handfuls around the edge of the cake round, forming a wreath shape. Press firmly with hands to mold. Garnish with cherry halves arranged in threes. Let stand about 30 minutes until set. Store loosely covered in a cool dry place up to 2 weeks.

Do you have any fun traditions?