It’s Never too Early to Prepare for the Holidays

Confession: ย 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
  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. ย 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 willย admire. ย This type of gift giving requires that we develop relationships and pay attention to those we interact with. ย 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.



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 Ornamentsย 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 myย 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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ).

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. ย Time to start fixing some things! ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ย (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?ย 

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

By being corked and stored, wines are typically left without any exposure to air for an significantย period of time untilย the bottles are opened. ย As a result, wine needs to be exposed to the air in order to draw outย 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: Aย wine aeratorย is a rapid approach to preparing wine for drinking, by adding oxygen into the liquid to improve the taste.

Decanter: Decantingย performs a somewhat similar act, but the main purpose is to remove the sediment from olderย 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. ย Transferring the wine from its original bottle to a decanter leaves the sediment in theย bottle, while theย wineย is poured into a different vessel. ย 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 theย Premium Red Wine Decanter by Bella Vinoย (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 tanninsย 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. ย 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 ย (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 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. ย Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time, “Go Fix Something!” ๐Ÿ™‚


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

Sweets for My Sweetheart — The Semi-Homemade Way!

This muffin pan kit arrived just in time for Valentine’s Day! ย My husband is a pretty simple man, all he desired for Valentine’s Day was his favorite dessert: Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Icing! Our schedule was jam packed, so I used one of my “semi-homemade” recipes (Cake mix with a little something extra– read through the post to get my baking tip). ย The cupcake pan is super cute and I loved that this really came with everything you’d need to make cupcakes (short of a bowl and the ingredients).

The liners were attractive and of good quality and I was able to support the pan with a simple cookie sheet or you could choose to use a shallow baking dish or a pizza pan if you don’t have a cookie sheet in your baking collection. ย This would be a cute gift to send to a college student or a friend for a “galentines day” token of appreciation. ย Overall, I was very happy with this item.

Here’s my “Semi-Homemade” Baking Tip:ย  I use Betty Crocker Super Moist Butter Recipe Yellow Cake Mix cake when I’m in a pinch– and to make it taste closer to homemade, I add in a box of Vanilla Jello Pudding— nothing extra– just make the cake according to the cake box directions.

The pudding really does make a difference!ย  You’ll thank me later!