Tips for a Stress Free Christmas

Here we are at the most wonderful time of the year.   According to Andy Williams, anyway.  Yet, every year we seem to get over stressed with the many added activities.

Baking, shopping, card writing, parties… the list goes on.  While I won’t guarantee that you will have a completely stress-free season, I found ways to help reduce stress, which – let’s face it – is the ultimate goal for the final month of the year.

#1  Impulse Buy

Okay, before you shout me down, I only do this for Christmas gifts. Since I have a pretty good idea who is on my list, I  am on the look out for gifts while I do my normal grocery shopping. You would be surprised what you start to notice when you heighten the senses. Then, the minute a thought comes that says, “I think that would be a good gift for…”, I grab it.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen something that I thought might suit someone on my list but didn’t buy it. Then, when it came time to shop for gifts, I either couldn’t remember what it was, or if I could remember what it was, I couldn’t remember where I saw it. Or, the worst case scenario? I remembered what it was and where it was but when I went to get it, it was gone. When it comes to gift giving, at any time of the year, if I see it – I buy it (as long as it is relatively within the budget).

#2 Have a Stash

I used to have a bin on a shelf in my basement that, when I bought something ahead of time, I would stash it. That way, when it came time for Christmas shopping, I would check my stash to see if I had already purchased something for that individual earlier in the year.  This works great for birthday gifts as well. Checking my stash has eliminated at least one or possibly several items off the list before I even walk out the door. It has also worked well as a money saver because I purchased things when they are on sale instead of being pressured to pay full price when I needed it.

#3 Wrap Ahead

I have a friend who brilliantly came up with the plan to wrap each gift as she bought it. She would stock up on wrapping paper during the after Christmas sales. Each time she purchased a gift, she would wrap it and add it to her stash. Gone was the last minute rush that entailed barricading oneself in the bedroom with toddlers screaming for attention on the other side of the door. The ultimate hack for this procedure? She attached a tag with the recipient’s name on it and added a sticky note to remind herself what was inside. Great idea for not buying repeat presents if they happened to be purchased throughout the year.

#4  Stock Up

Once the beginning of November rolls around, I begin to add the extras to my grocery cart. For instance, if I see butter on sale, I will pick up a couple of extra pounds knowing I will need them for the added baking. Chocolate chips, cream cheese, the ingredients I don’t often purchase throughout the year. I also stock up on small generic items that can be used as a last minute hostess gift.

#5   Bake once and forget it

If I’m going to make a huge mess anyway (which is inevitable when I bake), I would rather do it just once and clean up only once. I bake out of necessity, not choice. For me, there are no rules. Once I baked 5 recipes at the same time. Two items were the same Magic Cookie Bar recipe but I swapped out a couple of the ingredients to change the taste. Instead of plain chocolate chips, I used mint, butterscotch or peanut butter flavored chips. For the graham crust, I substituted Oreo cookie crumbs. Since I melt the butter in the base of the pan as the oven is heating, I started 2 pans at once. When the day was done, my Christmas baking was finished and all packed away in the freezer.

#6 Have Extra Clothing on Hand

I have 3 teenage boys. One of the best tips I ever implemented was to buy formal clothing ahead and keep it in my closet. This has spared me last minute anguish time after time. One year, I bought 3 tuxedos when they were clearing out Christmas stock. They each wore one 4 months later when their step-brother got married. This year I had a collection of dress shirts in varying colors, an assortment of neckties and 3 pairs of men’s black dress socks. Sure enough, when Graduation season rolled around, I had several panic knocks on my en suite door. “Moooommm, I have no …” I was able to outfit them all without leaving my room.

#7  List of Decorations

Years ago, I began to input my Christmas decorations into a spreadsheet. {Yes, I’m a computer geek.} I had, by then, accumulated a number of big plastic bins that housed my decorations for 11 months of the year. The trouble was, I didn’t know what was in them.

So, one January as I was leisurely packing everything away, I began to list the contents of each bin. I typed it all into my computer and matched the contents to a number that I scrolled on the outside of the bin. Every year after that, I modified the list as I repacked and this has worked now for a decade. {I know, I surprise myself, too!}

# 8 Pass It On

My mom is now close to 90 years old and lives a 2 days drive away. I try to have her Christmas parcel boxed and ready to ship the first week in December. Part of the reason is to help eliminate some of her stress as well. When I pack it, I add extra unwrapped treats to fill the gaps between the wrapped gifts. This can serve several purposes. Sometimes guests will show up unexpectedly so an extra package of Christmas shortbread can be cracked open to accompany a pot of tea. More than once, she has wanted to take a hostess gift when asked to an event without much notice. Since she lives in a rural area, last minute shopping is not always convenient. A small pack of chocolate treats often does the trick.

#10 Schedule Fun Time

Too often I have been so caught up in the preparation of Christmas that I did not even enjoy it.

Now I write it in my calendar. Movie with my boys.

Coffee with a friend. Playing carols at a near-by Retirement Residence. Every time I step away from the preparations and allow myself some ‘me’ time, I actually become more energized. That’s when I can start another task without the daunting feeling of being overwhelmed. After all, what good is a holiday if you don’t enjoy it.

The best way to have a stress free Christmas, though is to remember what the season is all about ~ Jesus. He is truly the reason for the season.

I hope this has inspired you to have a  Merry, Stress – Free Christmas.

To all a good night!

Big Box Stores vs Mom & Pop Operation

A few months ago, I emerged from an illness imposed hibernation that left me feeling more than a little hemmed in. Driving around to run some errands, I began to wonder what I felt had been missing from my life for the past few weeks. Then it dawned on me. I hadn’t gone to the small grocery store in our neighborhood for the entire two weeks I had been sick. There had been a void in my routine that only a trip there could fill. I made a point to bypass the big box store and go the opposite direction to my favorite Mom & Pop grocery.

As I approached, I pondered… What was it that drew me there? What psychological need did it satisfy in me?

Since the opening of the new super colossal megastore on our side of the lake, I really had no excuse not to shop big box. My justification had always been that it was too far to drive into the city and therefore my husband had done a lot of our grocery shopping as he drove right by on his daily commute. The megastore now in the same locale of my other errands, did have everything after all. You could buy an oil filter for your car, get a new cell phone, purchase a pair of summer shoes, a birthday card, and a gallon of milk all in one cart. So, convenience was definitely a plus.

But what about my favorite Mom & Pop operation? There was a different form of convenience there. In fact, when I pulled into the parking lot the last time, there was a parking spot directly against the wall of the store. The walk to the store’s entrance door was shorter than from my parking spot at home into my house. Immediately upon entry, the produce manager caught my eye, smiled and said a hearty hello.

The employees at the mega store had never done anything like that. The best service I ever received out of them was when I tracked them down to help me find a specific item. I can’t remember one of them smiling. In fact they often seemed almost irritated by the interruption. More than once I have gone away disappointed when they didn’t have what I wanted.

Yes, you heard right. They didn’t carry my brand.

Somewhere deep in my psyche was a growing distaste. It wasn’t until I stopped to analyze it that I realized there was something gnawing at me from inside that wasn’t immediately obvious. If the bulk of the population shops at big box because or price and availability, why then is the Mom & Pop still in existence? Perhaps a deeper look will reveal the answer.

Some hidden perks of the Mom & Pop…
1) Short lineups. If there are more than 3 customers in line, another cash register gets opened.
2) My groceries are bagged for me.
3) I don’t have to pay extra for bags.
4) It is closer to my home because a small grocery store can tuck nicely into a mostly residential area quite easily without having to have a lot of extra real estate.
5) I don’t have to walk across a huge parking lot to get to the store (especially in inclement weather). When emerging with my purchases I don’t have to stand in said inclement weather seemingly forever, wondering where my car is located in the sea of grey sedans.
6) I don’t have to have the correct change for the shopping cart – theirs are free!
7) Since the store is much smaller, I can be in and out of there in a matter of minutes.
8) The long-time clerk knows me by name, knows my kids and usually offers to give them a treat (after asking my permission first, of course!)
9) If I shop the flyer specials, buy during the case lot sales and purchase loss leaders, it makes my grocery bill just about as inexpensive as the big box.

There are definitely some, though maybe not so obvious, downfalls of the bigbox store. Despite the huge amount of goods in the store, it lacks variety. Bedazzled by rows & rows of product, it is not immediately obvious that there is just a lot of the same thing in large quantities. This is a strategic move by the big box stores to cut down on the constant stocking of shelves and saves money.

The result of this is… the big box dictates the brands to the customer by availability. Usually, if shoppers can’t find the specific brand they prefer, they will opt for an alternative, most likely the less expensive store brand in lieu of the one they had on their list. Eventually, they will switch to the store brand if it is less expensive even if it means compromising quality.

Mom & pop stores know they must carry the popular brands in order to keep the customer. Brand name companies know, as well, that they are competing against store brands and often run promotions that the small, independent store can take advantage of without having to lose money. Thus, they look good in the eyes of the consumer by offering brand name items at discounted prices.

At Mom & Pop’s it is all about pleasing the customer. At Big box, it is about luring the consumer in by price and offering items other than groceries to keep them coming back. It’s a game all right. No longer is it a case of Big Brother watching. It has come down to Big Brother controlling.

But is everyone buying it?

I, for one, am not.

How to Breed Fruit Flies

Wait, you were expecting me to tell you how to get rid of fruit flies?

Well, you know what they say, write about what you know. As it turns out, I know the secrets to breeding fruit flies in my home and I’m really good at it!

I came across it quite by accident. To begin with, I purchased peaches from a local fruit stand where the fruit flies were soooo thick, they bounced off my face as I walked. But I didn’t worry. Of course, I thought I could get away fly free because I selected fruit that had no visible flies on it. What I didn’t realize until later is that fruit flies lay eggs that will hatch once they get into your home. And that’s exactly what they did. Hatch.

At first there were only 3 or 4. No problem. Nothing a little swat here or there wouldn’t take care of. After a few days, however, there were more so I began to hunt them with wet hands because it is easier to catch them than with dry ones. I had a few triumphant kills so I was pretty confident they were gone.

A couple of days went by but then one morning as I stumbled into the shower, two fruit flies buzzed by my head. Turns out, they like moist places, so showers, sink drains and other wet areas are their delight. Who knew? I felt it was time for more aggressive action. I turned to the world wide web to provide me with answers. Then I read that coffee grounds will keep bugs at bay. That’s great! I dumped all the used grounds into each of my plants and walked away, smugly. Take that, you pesky pests!

Two days later, fruit flies were circling the bottom of my plants.

As I neared the pot for further inspection, dozens more rose from the dirt. Oh oh. Now I was really in trouble. Not only was I not getting rid of them, I was actually providing ideal conditions for breeding them. I had been misinformed. For some reason it seems, fruit flies like coffee grounds almost as much as rotting fruit.

Okay, so what is next on the list? The blow dryer. Pardon me? It is suggested that if you turn the back of the unit toward the colony, the flies will be sucked in the air intake. Sounds cruel. Who cares – they are FRUIT FLIES! So I did just that, sucking up several of the little creatures and enduring the smell as they were incinerated inside. Then, click. It shut itself off. No problem, I let it cool off for a few minutes before returning it to the cupboard. Later that evening, my son was calling me.

“Mom, the blow dryer won’t work.”

“Just hit the reset button, it will be fine,” I yelled back. I heard a series of clicks and then a slam as the blow dryer hit the counter top a little harder than normal. My son scowled at me as he left the house with his wet mop hanging in his eyes.

Stupid fruit flies. Now I have to go buy a new blow dryer!

As I slumped down in the nearest chair, one charged at my face. This was serious. Do I move out and find another place to live? Do I call the pest control company? I decided to try one last home remedy before I resorted to professional help. Another quick query to the inter-web and I settled on ‘the trap’. I put out a container of juice with plastic wrap covering most of the opening except for a small hole. The idea is that the flies will find their way in to consume the juice but when the try to leave, they hit the plastic and become trapped. Eventual they drown in the liquid. The first 2 days – nothing. And then 2 and then 4 and finally 10. Then next morning there were more than 20. I added another location and got more than 40 in a matter of hours.

But it was too little, too late. When company arrived that evening, someone spied a swarm of ff’s on a narrow shelf above the plant. That was it. After humiliating me in front of a crowd, I was done. It was more than I could take. Good bye Mrs. Nice Guy. After weeks of torment, I going out to do what I should have done in the first place.

I’m going to get RAID™.

 

What my Dad taught me about not being Sexist

Growing up in the late 60s and early 70s, I was aware of all the unrest in the world, especially in the arena of feminism. This was a time when women began to protest loudly about lack of equality and lower salaries that were based solely on their gender.

That was the outside world. Inside my home I watched as my mom and dad co-parented without a struggle as to which gender should be considered more prominent. My mom was the one with the regular job and my dad had a seasonal business with downtime in the winter. So, he was the one at home making the meals and driving my brother and I to our activities. During the summer, when my mom was on a break from her teaching job, my dad worked long hours on construction sites. As far as I could see, gender never seemed to affect the decision making process.

Fast forward to my 16th birthday when my parents gave me a car. It was, by then, 14 years old and it was a 4 door, family sedan, but it was what I wanted at the time. My dad had ordered it from the factory and when he got a new car a few years later, he didn’t have the heart to sell it. It sat in the yard for about a year before I asked for it.

Within the year I had moved 1,200 miles away to go to college, leaving the car behind. When he brought the car out to me, he officially transferred the ownership so that it was legally mine. The first order of business was to have an oil change after it had been driven that many miles.

We pulled into a fast lube business with me driving and my dad directing from the passenger seat. One of the two male employees caught my dad’s eye as he got out of the car.

“Would you like us to do an oil change for you today, sir?” he asked, ignoring the fact that I was the one exiting the driver’s seat.

Without a moment’s thought or hesitation, my dad politely replied, “Ask the lady. It is her car.”

Wow! That single statement spoke volumes to me that continue to resonate even decades later. Here was a man who had ordered and spec’d out this very car from the factory. He  paid for it completely with no help from me. By the way, the purchase price would be equivalent to $38,000 in today’s currency. At that time, he had already owned it for 14 years. It would have been so easy for him to simply say something like, “go ahead with an oil change” and no one would have thought anything of it, including me.

Both men shifted their gaze toward me. I’m sure I looked as shocked as they were, standing there, not more than 18 years old but probably looking more like 15. I managed to mutter an affirmation that we indeed came for the oil change. Then, without another word, my dad and I made our way to the waiting room to drink coffee with tasteless powdered substances added to it. Less than an hour later, we were once again driving down the road, me behind the wheel of my new old car with a renewed sense of confidence in who I was as a woman.

Later in his life, my dad began to shift responsibility of his  affairs preparing for the one day that he would no longer be here. The person he picked to handle them was me. Not because I was his favorite (as my brother so often cites). And of course, the fact that I was female was never a consideration so I was not passed over because of my gender. No, the one and only reason my dad picked me over my brother was because I was his first born. Plain and simple.

To this day, I still conduct family affairs on his behalf, having taken on some of his patriarchal duties with no resistance to the fact that I am female. Although I universally acknowledge the physiological and psychological differences between the sexes, I do not take kindly to being discriminated against because of them. Read my earlier post on genders.

Through one incident, my tall, strong, masculine dad taught me that I was valued as an individual regardless of my gender. Thank you, Dad.

Captain Garbage

I first saw him while I weaved my car through the thick morning traffic. He was at the crowded bus stop but he was the only one who caught my eye. When I drove the same route 40 minutes later, he was still there. He was wearing a bright yellow Wolverine costume with a blue bow tie and a heavy winter fur hat much too warm for the 21°C (70°F) fall day. Obviously he was not waiting to catch a bus.

They call him “Captain Garbage” but his real name is Verne. He’s been homeless for 4 years but today he is really exceptionally happy! He gets to go look at a place to rent.

He is on government disability and the government wants him to get off the streets. A logging accident left him unable to work and now he suffers from arthritis of the spine.

His only possessions are a guitar, a bike, and the few things he salvaged from the garbage dump. He pushes them around in a ‘borrowed’ shopping cart.

By the time I circled back to talk to him, he had moved to the parking lot of the local grocery store. The fur hat was now missing. Perhaps it was somewhere in the accumulation of goods or maybe he had taken it off and left it at the bus stop. He wasn’t sure.

Soon, the parking lot security man showed up to shuffle Verne on his way. Off he goes to start a new chapter in his life. One that he can add to his already interesting story.

 

What I wish we were taught in kindergarten

When I penned Words of Wisdom for my Sons, I wrote a section about opinions. The book was written for my children who were ages 12, 10 and 8 at the time. The point I wanted them to get was that a person’s opinion is just that, an opinion.

An opinion is defined as a judgement formed by the mind of an individual. Does that mean it is correct? Does that mean the person is absolutely right?

No.

Touting your opinion for all to hear will serve to do one thing only. You will simply cause others to judge you based on your opinion. When it comes down to the crunch (such as at a time of election) most people already have their own opinion. And they will usually default back to it no matter what you say. Trying to influence others by boldly stating your opinion will only reap derision.

And on the subject of opinions, here is one of mine that I would like to share with you. It is my strong opinion that gender stereotypes need to be dissolved. I did say stereotypes, the notion that a person act only in one particular manner based simply on their sex. Don’t get me wrong, I did not say we are not different.

I saw this quote attributed to William Golding, Nobel Prize winner and author of Lord of the Flies. I thought at first his words were refreshing – a quick feel-good comment from a famous man about women. But, I don’t agree with it any more than I agree that men are superior.

Superior WomenSo, may I address Gender stereotypes once and for all?

Men, women are not your inferiors. Not to be oppressed, repressed, suppressed or put down in anyway.

Women we are not their equals. In some ways we may be inferior, in some ways, superior. The bottom line is we are different and we need each other. We are not opponents, we are allies. What you lack, I will supply. What I lack, I need you to supply. Let us begin to celebrate the differences instead of trying to mold others into a shape that they will never fit. I am not for gender equality any more than I am for gender inequality.

We are 2 halves of a whole and when we come together in unity, we make a great team.

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T. Harv Eker’s 80/20 Principle

by T. Harv Eker

When it comes to getting rich, most people pour their time, energy, and money into the wrong areas.

Instead of focusing on the actions that are most likely to help them become wealthy, they end up wasting their time and energy – and if you haven’t been as successful as you want in life yet, you’ve done this too.

Maybe you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule before – it’s the principle that states that 80% of your success is determined by only 20% of your actions. If you think about most areas of your life, this is probably true – some things are just more impactful than others.

There are three parts to business:

What you will discover in the video below may sound counterintuitive. It’s not common knowledge or common sense — but it does work in the real world. I’ve seen it time and time again with my students.

Most people don’t focus on this area of business. That’s why most people are working too hard AND earning too little. You may be one of them.

… You can actually work less but earn more!

And if you liked this video, join T. Harv Eker for free training, The 500 Million Dollar Secret, and you’ll learn how to approach this one area of business in a whole new way… and reach the success you’ve always dreamed of.

Is College Even Worth It?

This is written my mentor, Tai Lopez. For more from Tai, visit tailopez.com

Your education defines you. 

Both the formal schooling and what you are doing today to become self-taught.

What would the world look like if each day every human young and old spent 33% of their day (that’s around 5 hours) learning new things about health, wealth, love, and happiness?

I predict it would just about end war, poverty, and sickness.

Like Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”

Your life is like the myth of Achilles and the arrow in his heel.  You can do almost everything right, but that one thing you don’t know (that chink in your armor) will come back to bite you.

That new Denzel Washington movie, The Equalizer, has a line I like. The bad guys are reading the newspaper headlines and say, “People are afraid of all the wrong things.”

That’s the Misweighting Congitive bias.

Don’t do it.

Be afraid of what will happen to you because you don’t have enough knowledge in your head. It’s a bad outcome that tempts fate and Mother Nature. Mother Nature should be the teacher of last resort.

She is a beast.

In his book, “Zero To One: Notes On Startups, Or How To Build The Future“, the famous investor/billionaire Peter Thiel talks about 3 major flaws in the education you received:

1. Too homogenous: “We teach every young person the same subjects in mostly the same ways, irrespective of individual talents and preferences. Students who don’t learn best by sitting still at a desk are made to feel somehow inferior, while children who excel on conventional measures like tests and assignments end up defining their identities in terms of this weirdly contrived academic parallel reality.”

2. Competing for the wrong things: “It gets worse as students ascend to higher levels of the tournament. Elite students climb confidently until they reach a level of competition sufficiently intense to beat their dreams out of them.”

3. Dreams get beaten out of you: “Higher education is the place where people who had big plans in high school get stuck in fierce rivalries with equally smart peers over conventional careers like
management consulting and investment banking. For the privilege of being turned into conformists, students (or their families) pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in skyrocketing tuition that continues to outpace inflation.”

Peter Thiel then asks, “Why are we doing this to ourselves?”

There is no reason that your education should have been all bunched up in your youth. I’d rather live in a world where you took one class every day from age 5 to 95. It’s a fools game to pack school in
from age 5 to 25 and then basically have adults stop learning.

So go out and take a college night class (believe it or not, I just show up at UCLA or USC and ask the professors if I can sit in and they almost always say yes)…

Or watch a Yale course on YouTube. You used to have to be born elite to go to Yale. Now all you need is an Iphone.

We live in the best of times.

Go to some conference you have been putting off.

The billionaire Li Ka-Shing  gave a poor kid this advice who was only making 2000/month of income –

Divide it equally into 5 parts and with the 3rd part:

“Third set of funds: To learn. Monthly spend about 50 to 100 to buy books. Because you don’t have a lot of money, you should pay attention to learning. When you buy the books, read them carefully and learn the
lessons and strategies that are being taught in the book. Each book, after reading them, put them into your own language to tell the stories. Sharing with others can improve your credibility and enhance the affinity.

Also save up $200 per month to attend a training course. When you have higher income or additional savings, try to participate in more advanced training. When you participate in good training, not only do you learn good knowledge, you also get to meet like-minded friends who are not easy to come by.”

Everyone is told to invest in an IRA or 401k plan or in real estate.

But do the math. Those investments pale in comparison to the one’s Li Ka-Shing recommends.

Buy another book. Read it.

Get close to spending 33% of your time doubling down on your own brain. Invest in yourself.

Stay Strong,
Tai

©Tai Lopez tailopez.com

It was an Electronic Christmas…

I’ve always been a bit of a gadget girl even before the vast population had phones that could do everything but comb your hair. When I started working for a magazine publisher in 1990, I was introduced to Apple Computers and have never looked back.

Over the years, I have had several Macs; the current one being a 27″ iMac that came with a regular wireless keyboard. Unfortunately, it was devoid of the numeric pad that I had become accustomed to using on my previous computer.  I had made it known that I wanted an apple extended keyboard so I could key in numbers without trying to remember which number keys were which on the top row. Well, as it turned out I got 2. But instead of returning one, I attached the official Apple keyboard to the computer via USB. And the second one, I discovered was a Multi-Sync version made by Kanex that could pair up to 4 devices via Bluetooth and it was full-sized as well. This came in handy for both operating the AppleTV and for typing long chunks of text onto the iPad. Happy girl!

Also on my wish list was a Password Vault.  A few years ago, I discovered this small handheld device that stores every password you’ll ever need in one location. Of course, I had to try to justify the $50 price when there are free software programs designed to do the same thing. Or as my husband suggested, ‘why not just write them in a book?’. Well, I drooled over it online for 3, yes, 3 years. Finally, I decided that it would make the perfect Christmas gift ‘pour moi’. It had been my habit to record passwords on any scrap of paper or sticky note that was handy and then staple it to the other scraps/sticky notes that lay in the top drawer of my desk. I usually wrote them in pencil (so I could erase them if they needed to be changed). They often got smudged from handling the papers too frequently. Plus my writing was inconsistent so what looked like a G at one point might actually have been a 6. Yes, I could have recorded them on my computer but my iMac is 27″ (I like real estate) and not very portable. Yes, a notebook would have been cheaper but how would I alphabetize them every time a new password is created? (Look at all the justifying I am doing!) I must say though, this was the best investment for me. The device can be carried anywhere, is accessible by one universal password (yes, we can all memorize one) and has a search function (which my notes definitely don’t have). All in all, a wonderfully useful extravagance.

P-Touch 90
And there were more gadgets under the tree with my name on it. Much to my delight, I also opened a label maker that made my quest for organization a little bit closer to my goal. The Brother P-Touch 90 allowed me to label everything from scissors to musical instruments.

And finally, the biggest surprise of them all was when all the gifts were unwrapped and I thought it was time to move on to breakfast, out came the last but certainly not the least, present of the season. I was presented with a gift bag holding a small rectangular box that contained… you guess it… a brand new iPad Air2. My original iPad from 2012 quickly became my youngest son’s acquisition and the new era of iPad usage had begun. Although Christmas is definitely my favorite time of year, to say that I enjoyed this Christmas more than some previous ones is true. You can never go wrong getting me a gift that satisfies the inner gadget girl in me!