With Ben’s birthday this month, I was on the hunt for some new games for his Leapster 2.  I ran across a great deal at the Just Between Friends sale that I posted about last month.  I ended up getting him 14 new games for basically nothing!  Then I realized that the case he was using to hold the 14 games he already had would NOT hold 14 more games!  He was using a padded, zippered black cosmetic bag to keep all his games in and would just keep the Leapster loose without being in a case.

I started looking for a case for his Leapster that would also hold all (soon to be) 28 Leapster games.  Most of the cases on the market hold 1 or 2 games and also the Leapster but I needed something better than that.  I determined that it would be great if it was “padded” and could hold everything and had a handle.  Then it occurred to me that we had a few leftover lunchboxes from the past few school years!

I quickly dug out last years Star Wars lunch box and sure enough everything fit!  It is one of those “soft-sided” lunchboxes so it was padded too!  Of course it also had the handle!  Another plus is that it will hold MANY more games!  Whoop!  I love it when I come across a solution that works for FREE using something I already had on hand!

Needless to say, Ben is loving the new “Leapster case” because he loved that Star Wars lunch box! I can’t wait to see his face when he gets the 14 new games I got for him too! Here is what it looks like inside with everything in it (before the new games are added) !

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Every year I begin the annual search for easy and decent DIY gifts for the holidays.  My kids have so many teachers that it is just way too cost prohibative to buy gifts for them all.  I appreciate everything those teachers do for my kids and so I send in homemade gifts of the one-size-fits-all type (young or old, male or female, etc).

This year I am making Chocolate Banana Bread.  It is simple and very cheap to make and can be made in bulk so it meets all the qualifications.  I am baking 18 loaves for all the teacher gifts this year.  Whew!  So, here is the simple recipe!

CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD

(this recipe makes 3 loaves)

1 box of devils food or chocolate cake mix

3 eggs

1/3 cup of oil

4 mashed bananas

1 cup nuts (these are optional – I do not use them as they are expensive and my kids schools are both “nut free”)

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Grease three loaf pans (I use aluminum ones that I wash out and reuse)

Preheat oven to 350

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl

Divide batter evenly in the three pans (they will be just half full)

Bake for about 20-30 minutes depending on your oven

When they are done baking I remove them from the pans to cool

Once they are cool I wrap them in Saran Wrap (clear plastic food wrap) and then place them in a cellophane Christmas bag and seal with a twist tie (the bags are in packs of 20 for $1 at the Dollar Tree).  I have estimated the cost at a total of $17 for all 18 loaves.

 

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I LOVE lists!  They keep me on track, productive and organized.  They also make gift giving easier for me.  Whenever someone I am close to mentions items they would like to have I make a note of it.  That way when a birthday or holiday rolls around, I already have a list of gift ideas.  The great thing about doing this is that often times the recipient has long forgotten about the item they were admiring.  The gift becomes a wonderful surprise followed by “How did you know?”  because they often forget ever having mentioned that they liked the item!  I also keep a list like this for myself on the fridge so when someone asks me what I would like for my birthday, etc.  I don’t have to say “I don’t know”.  I just tell them a few ideas off my list.

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The holidays are a mere four months away, are you planning ahead yet?  I am in the process of getting all my online ducks in a row (swagbucks, e-rewards, and other incentives that I plan on using to purchase Christmas gifts).  I thought now would be a good time to share a personal, POSITIVE experience with regifting.

My best friend and I met through our sons.  Both are on the Autism “spectrum” and they attended the same school a while back and they became fast friends.  Soon playdates followed and she and I became close friends as well.  She is an avid purse collector.  She loves purses!  That is her “thing”.  Usually I notice her new finds when she uses them but there was one purse in particular that I really liked when I saw her using it.  Boy what a purse it was!  A bright pink, metallic, Ed Hardy purse!   It was not a “purse”…. it was a PURSE! LOL!

Anyhow, time went on and Christmas rolled around.  We arranged to go to lunch and she said she had a gift for me.  It was the purse!  She decided that she did not like it as much as she had thought she would and so she gave it to me!  The fact that she would give me this purse instead of returning it to get her money back just impresses me!  I love this purse and all it’s ”bling-y-ness”!

If someone has told you in the past that they really admire something that you have and you are no longer using it, consider “regifting” it.  I think that as long as the item is in good condition and the person would really appreciate and use the item, it is okay to purposefully regift.  Obviously use your best judgement in this situation…. only you know how the people you are regifting to will react.

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