wp-image-408265378jpg.jpg

It’s Never too Early to Prepare for the Holidays

Confession:  I’m one of those people who begins planning for the Christmas holiday in June…. with the goal of being done with my Christmas shopping by the end of July.

I don’t always complete my shopping goals, but I do get a good chunk of my shopping done and most of this is accomplished by targeting deals (mainly online deals– I’m not a big fan of going to malls).

I begin my shopping early for two reasons:

  1. To find good deals (I mean, really? I am Frugal Fran😉 )
  2. To find gifts that are personalized

For me, it’s not just about finding a cheap gift. I want to find a reasonably priced gift that is actually something that the intended recipient will value and appreciate.

Too often, we end up buying expensive, last-minute gifts because we are pressure prompted.  The worst thing about this is– these last minute purchases end up being items that the person doesn’t like.

When you buy something like a gift card, you end up spending $25 or $50 when you could have purchased an item for $10 from the person’s favorite store or given them an item that they had been saying they wanted/needed.

Even better– you can make your loved one something that they can actually use or will admire.  This type of gift giving requires that we develop relationships and pay attention to those we interact with.  I enjoy making holiday wreaths and ornaments for many of my friends and family members.

Here are a few shots of a wreath I made for my Grandmother for Mother’s Day, earlier this year.

 

wp-1472086959489.jpg

I’ve been making wreaths since I was 6 years old in Children’s Church so it took me all of 30 minutes to make these. #TrueStory

 

Testing one of the wreaths

 

Round Glass Christmas Tree Baubles Spheres Ornaments are a great crafting item to have on hand. You can fill these with glitter or feathers or other decorative items.

The metal clip can be easily removed so that the heart can be filled with the item of your choosing.

One of my favorite memories is of my personalized ornament with one my baby photos. My mom had one of her coworkers make one using a baby photo of each of her daughters.

I recently made one for a couple at my church using their daughter’s first christmas photo (Sadly I could not find a copy of my photo of the ornament in time for this blog post😦 ).

I used the following steps to create my ornament:

  1. I took the Christmas photo and rolled it in half (without damaging the image);
  2. Used tweezers to insert into the bulb;
  3. Allowed the photo to naturally unravel itself;
  4. Clipped several sections of curling ribbons (in complementing colors — red, gold, and green);
  5. Used tweezers to insert (and adjust) the curling ribbons around the photograph (This is a great way to fill in some of the empty space in the bulb without blocking the image).

When I make a gift like a wreath or an ornament for someone, it truly is a labor of love and I think it shows. For me it is both personal and meaningful and it comes straight from the heart.

I hope this inspires you to think a bit differently as the holiday season approaches. You have plenty of time ahead to start working on some personalized gifts.  Time to start fixing some things!😀


Quick Fix: Dimmable LED Bulbs

Hi Folks! 

Not too much going on over here.  

I’m trying to give myself some weeks of rest before working on a few major projects, so my posts may slow down a bit. In the meantime,  I’m back with another quick fix! 

I have several dimmable light fixtures in my living room and was seeking to replace several bulbs that had blown out.

Finding these in a multi-pack was such a win. They were packed well and survived shipment with no issue. These bulbs produce a much brighter, whiter light than the bulbs they replaced.

I have them all in dimmable light fixtures and they work well, but are not as dimmable as standard bulbs (their switch between “on” and “off” is much longer and the bulb goes from “bright” to “brighter”– not very dim at all).

Here’s a link to my YouTube review if you’d like to see them in action. 


Fix-It-With-Fran is on YouTube!

A Sense of Comfort

Have you ever noticed how something as simple as your favorite pair of jeans or leggings can bring you a world of comfort?

Now imagine how you’d feel if you lost all of your worldly possessions.Jeans

That’s reality for many residents of Louisiana right now.

For my husband it brought back memories of Hurricane Katrina. For me it brings back memories of my first flood experience. It was almost  5 years ago, to the day. My apartment was spared, but my car was under several feet of water.

It’s one of those things you never forget. It’s a crushing blow to your mind and spirit, but it is also a true lesson about the things that matter in life– health, strength, your family– and simply being alive.

When I received these leggings to review, I thought I would be giving them to the clothing drive at my church or maybe to one of the youth, but I’m including them in my collection of items to donate to the local relief efforts and I pray you’ll find it in your heart to support them as well.

 
Yes, they’re cute. Sure, they’re trendy, but now they mean something much more– they can be a small sense of comfort– a step to returning to normality for a child who just lost all of her new, back-to-school clothes. A single pair of jeans or an individual donation may not change everything, but they can be a start.

My local ministry will be coordinating relief efforts. If you are unable to give items directly, you can use this link to give a monetary donation.

Scriptures for Encouragement:

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lam. 3:22-25)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Cor 1:3,4)


Coming Up: International Day of Peace Action Week (September 18 – 25, 2016)

There’s been so much going on in Louisiana over the past few months, and it has been a lot to process.

I’ll be taking part in the International Day of Peace Action Week next month and speaking more about my personal experiences, my individual reflections, and some of the activities taking place across the State, Nation and World. Please check back for more updates.

Thanks for reading!

Decant or Naw?

This blog will be the first in a series of decanter reviews that I’ll be completing for the Bella Vino brand.

I’ve already shared my thoughts on some of their wine glasses via my various social media sites and I’ve been given three different decanters to review and share with you all.  (Yayyyyy!) We may even wrap up this series with a giveaway if the brand approves, so be on the lookout for an update!!!

What is a Decanter? 

If you’re not already familiar with what a decanter is, it’s probably best to start with a quick, Wine-101 course. There’s soooo much that comes along with wine prep and wine tasting and no two guides agree on every detail, so please don’t think of this as an end all be all guide– it isn’t. It’s just a quick reference to give some context to my review.🙂

By being corked and stored, wines are typically left without any exposure to air for an significant period of time until the bottles are opened.  As a result, wine needs to be exposed to the air in order to draw out its full aroma and flavor.

There are two commonly known methods of preparing a newly opened bottle of wine: Using an aerator or using a decanter.

Aerator: A wine aerator is a rapid approach to preparing wine for drinking, by adding oxygen into the liquid to improve the taste.

Decanter: Decanting performs a somewhat similar act, but the main purpose is to remove the sediment from older wines.

Decanting isn’t always believed to be necessary for younger wines, but most recommend it for any wine that has been bottled for 5 years or longer. Given the age of these wines, they are more likely to have sediment resting in the stored bottle.  Transferring the wine from its original bottle to a decanter leaves the sediment in the bottle, while the wine is poured into a different vessel.  At the same time, air is infused into the wine and the wine is better able to absorb oxygen once it is placed in the larger vessel. (Read waaaay more here.)

If wine isn’t your thing, this may still be worth reading since crystal is always one of my go to wedding gifts– It’s hard to go wrong with a quality dish or stemware.

More about the Premium Red Wine Decanter by Bella Vino (Details from the manufacturer):

ELEGANT DESIGN: This elegantly designed crystal glass wine decanter makes for a perfect center piece! With its simple yet beautiful design, it’ll wow your guests and be a stylish addition to your dinner table.

IMPROVES TASTE: Has a wide base that helps softens tannins in your wine. This provides for a smoother, richer, wine taste and texture that you are sure to love.

SPILL-PROOF SPOUT: This wine decanter has a carefully designed spout for a nice, no-mess pour. With its light and easy pour feature, you can pour your wine smoothly and easily.

MADE FROM PREMIUM MATERIALS: Enjoy your wine and stay healthy as this wine decanter is made from 100% lead-free, premium materials.

LIGHTWEIGHT AND STURDY: Made from transparent, thick, and durable crystal glass yet light and easy to use. This wine decanter doesn’t chip or break easily so it’s ideal for dishwasher use.

 

My Final Review:

I love the classic look of this decanter.  I do wish that it had come with a lid or stopper of some sort to use to store your wine if it’s not finished in one sitting  (not a common occurrence in New Orleans, but it happens). If you were to use a decanter like this, you would want to be sure to keep the original wine bottle to use to return the wine to for storage. This back and forth could be slightly annoying, especially given that it could have been avoided with a better product design, so I deducted one star from my Amazon.com review as a result.

Below are images of two of my upcoming reviews. I will also be reviewing some additional wine glasses and sharing my thoughts.

Would you all be interested in a giveaway?

Please let me know in the comments.  Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time, “Go Fix Something!”🙂

 

Crystal Horn Decanter Review on Fix_It_With_Fran

Elegant Crystal Horn Wine Decanter

Large Bella Vino Wine Decanter Review by Fix_It_With_Fran

Large Crystal Wine Decaner


Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder Review by Fix-It_With_Fran

Brushing With Activated Charcoal Powder: Is it Better Than Toothpaste?

This was another interesting review.  For starter’s– the Husboo is usually down to support most of my wacky reviews, but when I presented him with this one he gave a quick, “NO.”

I HOLLERED!!!!! That’s country folk’s speak for “Laughed Out Loud”– but it’s a better laugh. It’s that — “laugh so hard your belly hurts because you laughed with your soul,” kind of laugh.  AKA– THE best kind of laugh!

Back to the actual point of this post. Once I realized there was no convincing him, I was on to review the brushing powder on my own.  It was quite the experience.  The photo’s tell their own funny story, but here are a few facts about the product from the manufacturer:

Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder Review by Fix-It_With_Fran

GET WHITER TEETH AND CLEANER MOUTH AFTER FIRST USE: Feel the difference in just one brush with the Sagano Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder! It’s quick and effective leaving your mouth feeling fresher all day. No more stains from coffee, tea, red wine, and other teeth-staining beverages. Gets rid of bad breath and plaque buildup too!

TASTES GOOD: Brush with a burst of spicy-sweet cinnamon flavor in your mouth for a refreshing and soothing mouth clean up. Say goodbye to nasty chemical whitening ingredients and hello to a pleasurable teeth whitening experience!

SAFE FOR SENSITIVE TEETH: This teeth whitening powder contains natural cinnamon, a herbal painkiller that helps relieve tooth and gum sensitivity. This carbon powder is also fine and not gritty for a softer, more velvety texture, preventing teeth and gum irritations. Just a perfect toothpaste alternative!

MADE FROM NATURAL INGREDIENTS: This teeth whitening powder is made from natural coconut activated charcoal and organic cinnamon – and that’s it. No artificial flavor or chemicals that can harm your enamel. Have a cleaner mouth, healthier gums, and whiter teeth with this powerful herbal combination.
The Photos (Be Prepared to Laugh :-D):

 

 

 

 

My Overall Review:

Likes

  1. Despite my expressions, my teeth felt REALLY clean and smoother than usual.  I use a Phillips Sonicare toothbrush, so I am accustomed to a very good cleaning job, but this made my teeth feel slicker than usual.  I’m guessing the charcoal (although very fine) added extra grit which improved the polishing quality of my toothbrush.
  2. I have experienced tooth sensitivity in the past (I now use Sensodyne toothpaste on the regular) so I can say that this did not cause any pain or discomfort when I used this in place of my normal toothpaste.

Dislikes:

  1. The powder can be a bit messy.  It’s very fine and it doesn’t take much to send it up in a cloud of smoke. I tried to manage this by using the lid to pour out a small amount of the powder, then dipped my toothbrush in the lid to apply the powder, and (finally) rinsing out any remaining powder from the lid to discard it. This cut down on the mess, somewhat, but not entirely. For the sake of sanitation, I wouldn’t want to use this method if I was sharing the container with my husband (or if we had children using it along with us), but it works since I’ll be using it solo.
  2. It does NOT taste good. The description above described a natural cinnamon taste. As a person that cooks, I know that cinnamon does not taste good on its own.  It needs sugar to really be palatable.  Adding cinnamon to charcoal was bleh.  It deserves repeating– it does NOT taste good (at least not to me) but toothpaste should not be eaten so there’s that caveat.I plan to continue to use this to give my teeth a nice deep cleaning between regular brushing, but I can’t say that I’ll be transitioning to use this full-time.  I haven’t given up on the benefits of charcoal completely. I’ve been experimenting with using activated charcoal to make homemade facial masks and will be sharing my results soon!

 

 

Markers or Color Pencils by FixItWithFran_SuperMarkers

The Coloring Case: Markers vs. Colored Pencils– Which is Better?

I have received a few sets of pens, markers and color pencils to review, with markers and colored pencils arriving in the largest quantities.

This was really exciting for me because I do a lot of craft projects with the youth at my church, so I looked at this as one less supply that I would need to buy (and another blessing from God #WontHeDoIt)!
Markers or Color Pencils by FixItWithFranMarkers or Color Pencils by FixItWithFran_SuperMarkers

 

In addition to using these items with my youth, I also use them for one of my favorite personal pastimes– coloring.

I’ve been asked a few times which I prefer for my coloring– colored pencils or markers.  I decided to do a quick run down of the pros and cons of each. Here are my thoughts:

Markers or Color Pencils by FixItWithFran_SuperMarkers_Review

Markers: This review will focus on the Super Markers 20 Color Marker Set I received.

Pros:

  • Vivid Colors
  • This particular set can be used on paper or fabrics
  • Bullet point tip can be used for fine details and thick strokes

Cons:

  • May bleed through pages (this will depend on the stock of the paper and is really only a major issue if the coloring book has double sided pages).
  • Delays due to the need to recap markers
  • Markers may dry out if caps aren’t properly resealed (That always makes me soooo sad😦 ).

 

Markers vs Color Pencils by FixItWithFran

Colored Pencils: This review will focus on the Innovating By Design Watercolor Pencils I received.

Pros:

  • Ability to blend colors
  • Paintbrush included in kit
  • Firm pencil tip
  • No need to remove caps
  • More colors included (compared to the 20 in the marker set)

Cons:

  • Need to sharpen during longer coloring sessions
  • This set does not have a sharpener — if you are traveling, having a sharpener will be important and you’ll need to purchase one separately
  • Must have water on hand for blending colors

Ultimately, I can’t say that I have a strong preference one way or the other.

It really depends on my mood, the item that I am coloring, and the type of coloring book that I have.

If I am using a coloring book with double-sided pages, I am more likely to use colored pencils because I don’t want to risk having the ink bleed through.

Sometimes I will use pens if I feel like doodling while I color and I may choose to use color pencils if I am coloring in my flower or landscape coloring book so that I can blend and create colors similar to what one would see in the natural landscape.

I recommend trying each medium at least once and allowing yourself to have some fun!

French Fry Potato Cutter Review on FixItWithFran

Fran’s Fixings: Homemade Fries

I LOVE fries! I love potatoes, actually. All things potatoes…fried, boiled, baked.  I’m like the Bubba Gump of Potatoes!

I remember going home from college one weekend in the summer and getting some potatoes from Nick’s Pick Quick– THE main chain of convenience/gas stations in my hometown — only to hear my grandma say, “You know those potatoes go straight to your thighs.”

LOL.  Gotta love grandma’s. They hold no punches!😀

But she was right.  Despite my love for potatoes, they are not friendly to my thighs, so when I do have them, I have to try to make them in the healthiest way possible.  That means minimal grease, fresh seasoning, and avoiding purchasing them from a drive through — In other words– MAKING THEM AT HOME.

French Fry Potato Cutter Review on FixItWithFran

We’ve been making lots of meals using Blue Apron recipes and both my husband and I are showing the results as far as weight loss is concerned (YAY #TeamBHenry). Having all of the necessary ingredients delivered to your front door gives you even more incentive to cook your own meal and it’s even better when you know that they are fresh and flavorful! 

It’s pretty easy to cut up a potato, but it’s even easier when you have a tool like the French Fry Potato Cutter with Suction Base.

The manual lever takes most of the effort out of cutting the potato and the suction base keeps the device stationary.

We now make our fries almost exclusively from fresh potatoes and have no regrets. That simple swap has saved us so many unnecessary calories and we can still enjoy having a meal of a burger and fries in the comfort of our home.  

For a recipe idea, check out one of our favorite Blue Apron recipes on My Fran’s Fixings Pinterest Board.

Until next time, Go Fix Something!

wp-1470718308621.jpg

Quick Skin Care Tips

Ladies– Have you ever noticed how much better your legs feel after a fresh shave?

Yes, you’ve removed any hairs/stubble, but do you know what you’ve also done?

YOU EXFOLIATED!

Did you already know that?  COOL!  That’s why we’re friends.😀

Did I lose you?  Let me break it down a little bit more:

When you shave, you remove a layer of dead skin.  

I know, I’m a nerd, so I’ll try to keep myself from getting too technical.

We shed thousands of skin cells every day; but, without some “extra scrubbing,” these dead cells may stick around until some outside force assists their removal.

Think of those times when you’ve seen your own “ashy” or dry and flaking skin and gone to grab some lotion.  The reality is– you should have been doing something to remove this dead skin in advance– like scrubbing with a loofah or sponge or a sugar scrub, but not everyone does that (#shade #noshade #alittleshady #movingon).

Some dermatologists go so far as to even suggest shaving one’s face to obtain a facial glow.  I’m not lying (check the link), but I’ll stick to just exfoliating.  #ImGood.

Long story short, part of the reason your legs “feel so good” is because you’ve removed all of that dead skin…. It’s enough to make a girl want to shave every day…. butterah, I’m not doing that either, so the Leedgetool is one of my new skincare faves!

You’ve exfoliated, now what?

Time to moisturize!

I love my Oil of Olay in shower lotion, but I can go through it rather quickly, so I also like to have a steady line-up of after shower lotions.

This, Pardon My Pretty Lotion, combines a Super Fruit Blend of antioxidant-strong and fatty acid-rich blueberry, acai, cranberry and goji berry, creating a wholesome treat to boost hydration and improve skin texture and tone.

I love the smell of this lotion and I can be very particular when it comes to my perfumes and lotions.  I don’t like any lotion that smells too fruity or that will conflict with my perfumes.  Most of all, I despise any lotions that leaves me feeling sticky or that I feel the need to wipe off before getting dressed for the day.

This lotion is lightweight, but very moisturizing and is the perfect way to pamper your skin after you’ve completed a session of exfoliating.

Never shave or exfoliate your legs (or any other area) without then following that activity with the application of a high quality moisturizer.  That newly exposed skin is nice and fresh, but it is also more vulnerable to the external environment and needs to be taken care of (Don’t make all of your hard work be short-lived!).

That’s for today’s Fix-It With Fran Skin Care Tips.  I’ll be back tomorrow with another update!  ;-)

wp-1470107695977.jpg

Soothing Sounds

Relaxation is such a big focus for me right now.  Truth be told, I do too much, far too often and end up with occasions (like this past week) where my body will let me know, “Enough is Enough” and it forces me to take a break.  I really don’t like getting sick, so I’ve learned to slow down and take time for myself (Although, I can be honest and admit that I still have a good ways to go with perfecting this behavior).

Despite my tendency to be on the go, I really do enjoy taking time to sit and be still.  Sometimes, I listen to the quiet and other times, I like to have instrumental music playing in the background.  I’m also an ocean lover, so I have several playlists of nature sounds and oceans (especially beach thunderstorms).

This 60 minute, Tranquil Guitar CD made me feel like a kid in a candy store.  I really felt like I’d hit the jackpot when I did my first listen through– there are ocean sounds and soft guitar– all of my favorite memories of North Carolina.

The CD was actually composed and recorded by a board certified music therapist with a master’s degree in psychology. The guitar medleys play over ocean sounds that continue throughout the entire CD and between tracks so there aren’t any breaks or silence between songs. For added relaxation, all of the tracks are played at the rhythm of the resting heart rate.

This CD is made for rest! If you love relaxing music – or if you simply crave peace and calm, you should consider adding this CD to your collection.

Such a Tweeze….

Have you ever noticed how you can never have enough tweezers in your collection?

Or how hard it is to find the right tweezers when you need it?

Better yet, how quickly your “favorite tweezers” — You know, the one that catches your brow hair just right when you need to clean them up in between appointments– disappears when you need it most!

This problem multiplies when you’re married. I swear it does.  Even worse are those occasions when your husband will has an ingrown beard hair but swears that you can’t come near him with your pink tweezers. (REALLY DUDE. REALLY? These pink tweezers are gonna work just fine!)  😂😂😂😂 #wifeproblems

 

This Tweezer Set features three pairs of tweezers– slanted, straight and pointed — in a protective black leatherette travel case.  Each pair of tweezers closes evenly and firmly, creating the cleanest, most advanced pulling power and they come with a free replacement guarantee.

 

I most appreciated the neutral colors of this set. As I mentioned earlier, I find myself needing to purchase tweezers for my husband to use, but he’s not a fan of the pink variety.  The colors are very vivid and such that they can be easily adapted to be included the toiletry collection of a male or female. Beyond appearance, the color has actual function– The elegant coating makes the ergonomics of the stainless steel tweezers even more exact, super smooth, long-lasting and easy to clean.