Last Minute Gift Guide - MediaSpan

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Last Minute Gift Guide - MediaSpan

D2 AMERICAN PRESS THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2011

L A S T- M I N U T E G I F T G U I D E

iPads become child’s play

By JOSEPH PISANI

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Make

room in the toy box for the

iPad.

Crayola allows tots to

doodle on the iPad using its

iMarker just as they would

a crayon on a coloring book.

Tweens are able to belt out

their favorite Miley Cyrus

and Selena Gomez tunes on

a Disney microphone that

turns the tablet into a karaoke

machine. And technology

accessories company

Griffin enables teens to fly

its toy helicopter by using

the iPhone as a remote

control.

This holiday season, toy

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makers have turned Apple

Inc.’s pricey tablet and

smartphone into playthings

for kids. They figure in this

weak economy, parents will

be willing to splurge on

toys for their children that

utilize devices they already

have — or want — themselves.

Tiffany Fessler of Gainsville,

Ga., certainly was willing

to do that even though

when she initially bought

her $829 iPad she never

imagined she’d be sharing

it with her 20-month-old

son. But whenever she sat

down to check emails on the

iPad, he’d climb into her lap

wanting to use it.

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get him the $29.99 Crayola

iMarker, which transforms

the iPad into a digital

coloring book using Crayola’s

free ColorStudio HD

application that parents can

download. Kids can draw

and color using the iMarker,

which has a soft tip so it

doesn’t scratch the tablet’s

glass screen.

“When you have a

screaming toddler in a restaurant

or any public area,

you want to have something

to calm him down with,”

says Fessler, 39. “This is

just another way to keep

him entertained.”

That the iPad and iPhone

have infiltrated the $22 billion

toy market this season

is no surprise. Smartphones

and tablets — particularly

Apple products — are more

popular than ever with people

of all ages. This year,

Apple is expected to double

the number of iPhones sold

to 90.6 million worldwide,

according to research firm

Gartner, while the number

of iPads sold is expected to

triple to 46.7 million.

And Apple products have

a certain “cool factor” with

kids that toy companies,

which can make up to half

of their revenue during

the holidays, are hoping to

tap into. In fact, the iPad

and iPhone are among the

most coveted electronics

this holiday season among

kids. About 44 percent of

6- to 12-year-olds want the

iPad this year, according to

a survey by research firm

Nielsen. The iPod touch

came in the No. 2 spot with

30 percent, followed by the

iPhone at 27 percent.

Not to mention, anyone

who’s a parent knows all too

well that babies and older

kids alike love to fiddle with

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Associated Press

Children can doodle on the iPad tablet using Crayola’s iMarker just as they would a coloring

book.

Associated Press

AppMates is a toy car based on the characters from Disney’s

“Car’s 2” animated movie. One car sells for $12.99 while

a two-pack goes for $19.99. The free app lets kids drive

around on different courses by moving the car across the

iPad screen.

or drool all over mommy’s

iPad. Nearly 40 percent of

2-to 4-year-olds have used a

smartphone, iPad or video

iPod, according to a survey

by nonprofit group Common

Sense Media. That number

rises to 52 percent for

5- to- 8 year olds. And even

10 percent of infants have

used one of the devices before

their first birthday.

“It’s mostly something

for kids to use in the car or

at the doctor’s office,” says

Chris Baynes, a toy analyst.

“It’s a way to get the kid to

be quiet.”

With that in mind, Crayola

Tenn.-based Griffin Technology,

which is mostly known

for selling iPhone and iPad

cases and car chargers, to

make the iMarker and the

ColorStudio HD app for kids.

The iMarker, which is like a

stylus that resembles a Crayola

marker, is targeted at

children ages three and up.

“Regardless of who they

buy it for, once it is in the

household, we know that

kids use it,” says Vicky

Lozano, vice president of

marketing at Crayola, which

makes the iMarker.

Other toy makers also

have gotten into the game:

00718737

00717822

■■

Griffin’s $49.99 remotecontrolled

toy helicopter

is aimed at teens over 14.

Called the “HELO TC,” it

flies using a device that plugs

into an iPhone, iPad or iPod.

A free app turns the touchscreen

of the devices into

a cockpit that controls the

helicopter.

■ ■ Mattel Inc.’s Fisher-

Price unit is selling “The

Laugh and Learn Apptivity

Case” aimed at babies

for $15. The case locks the

iPhone into a colorful, easy

to grab case that looks like

a big round rattle. The case

stops babies from making

unwanted calls and protects

the iPhone from something

else: drool. Parents can open

up three free apps that play

music, read words aloud

and count numbers. The

company plans to release an

iPad version of the case this

spring.

■■

Disney has three offerings.

The “Disney Spotlight”

microphone, which is $69.99

or $99.99 for a wireless version,

plugs into the iPad and

allows kids to sing along to

Disney songs from shows

such as “Hannah Montana”

— or to their own music —

and record their own music

video. Disney’s $79.99 AppClix

digital camera enables

kids to upload their pictures

to an iPad and a free app

allows them add Mickey

Mouse and Donald Duck

into the photos. And Disney

teamed up with Canadian toy

maker Spin Master to create

“AppMates,” a toy car based

on the characters from the

company’s “Cars 2” animated

movie. One car sells for

$12.99 while a two-pack goes

for $19.99. Using a free app,

kids can “drive” on different

courses by moving the car

across the iPad screen.

■■

Spin Master, which

makes toys such as Air Hogs

and Bakugan, started a new

line this year of toys for the

iPad and iPhone called “AppFininity.”

Its first toy in the

line is the $19.99 AppBlaster,

a plastic gun for kids over

age eight. After slipping an

iPhone or iPad touch on top

of the AppBlaster, kids can

shoot at aliens that pop up on

the screen.

Analysts say these toys

are just the beginning of

a new niche for toy makers.

Indeed, most of the

companies say they plan to

roll out more products for

smartphones and tablets

— including some that use

Google Inc.’s Android software—

next year.

00719325


L A S T- M I N U T E G I F T G U I D E

Give the gift

of a great

breakfast

By The Associated Press

Breakfast cereal as a

holiday gift?

It may sound unusual, but

it tastes wonderful. Granola

is a practical, beautiful and

delicious gift. It’s also easy

and inexpensive to prepare.

It can be packaged attractively

yet simply in glass

canning jars or cellophane

bags tied with ribbons. And

granola is easy to tailor to

your recipient’s tastes.

Unlike many edible gifts,

it has a long shelf life and

doesn’t need refrigeration.

We’ve started off with a

basic granola recipe, then

added flavors to mix in

before and after the baking

step.

If you want to come up

with your own flavors,

here’s the basic idea —

spices and nuts are mixed

with oats, then baked in

the oven. Dried fruit gets

mixed in after baking so it

doesn’t get over-dried and

bitter. If you choose to add

chocolate, cocoa gets mixed

in with the oats. But chocolate

chips should be added

only after the granola has

been baked and thoroughly

cooled.

HANDMADE HAVE-IT-

YOUR-WAY GRANOLA

Makes about 5 cups

Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes

(15 minutes active)

3 cups old fashioned oats

1 ⁄3 cup packed brown sugar

1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 ⁄3 cup canola or vegetable oil

2 tablespoons water

1 ⁄3 cup maple syrup

Associated Press

Granola is a practical, beautiful

and delicious gift. It’s

also easy and inexpensive to

prepare.

Flavorings of your choice (see below)

Directions: Heat the

oven to 250 F. Line a baking

sheet with parchment

paper.

In a medium bowl, combine

the oats, brown sugar

and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over

medium heat, combine the

oil, water and maple syrup.

Bring to a boil, then pour

over the oat mixture. Stir

until thoroughly coated.

Spread the mixture onto

the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring

every 15 minutes, or until

dried and lightly toasted.

Allow to fully cool before

packaging.

FLAVORINGS

Dutch apple: Stir 1 ⁄2 teaspoon

nutmeg, 2 teaspoons

cinnamon and 1 cup of

walnut halves into the dry

oat mixture before baking.

After baking, add 1 cup

chopped dried apple and 1

cup golden raisins.

Jamaican: Stir 1 ⁄2 teaspoon

ground mace, 1 ⁄2

teaspoon ground allspice, 1

cup cashews and 1 cup large

flake unsweetened coconut

into the dry oat mixture

before baking. After baking,

add 1 cup chopped

dried pineapple and 1 ⁄4 cup

chopped candied ginger.

Chocolate cherry: Stir

1 ⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa

powder into the dry oat

mixture before baking.

After the dry mixture has

baked and cooled, add 1 cup

dried cherries and 1 ⁄2 cup

mini chocolate chips.

By Mary Lara

American Press

With Christmas but 10

days away, now’s the time to

check out those Christmas

lists and make sure everyone

has been checked off.

If you are like most people,

though, there are likely a

few on your list who have

slipped through the cracks.

If that is the case, here are

a few ideas for popular

last-minute gifts from local

merchants.

Looking for the perfect

gift for a friend or coworker

with a green thumb? That

quest has led many in the

Lake Area to Prien Pines

Nursery. While citrus trees

are a big seller this time of

year, Mary Louvier, manager,

says gift cards are also a

great gift idea. “People are

always excited when they

get to come in and pick out

plants,” she said.

If your friends and

relatives lack the touch to

make plants thrive, perhaps

a visit to Gulf Coast

Carpet to pick up a granite

Lazy Susan is in order.

“They make great gifts

for couples and are very

reasonably priced,” owner

John Fontenot says. He also

suggests getting Redneck

Wine Glasses, a candlestick

topped with a mason jar,

as something fun to get for

the out-of-towners on your

holiday list.

For people who seem to

have everything, maybe what

they could really use is a

relaxing massage. Jill Irons,

owner of 12 Hour Massage,

suggests a gift certificate for

any of their many services,

which includes massages,

facials, cleansing beauty

masks and gentleman’s face

treatments. She says, “We cater

to both men and women

and also offer pregnancy

massage.”

At Special Touch Massage,

employee Trudy LeJuine

says in addition to facials

and massages, they sell ornaments,

facial products and

crosses, “all of which would

make great gifts for couples

or students.”

Lena Bodin, owner of

Bodin Jewelers, offers

advice to husbands and to

boyfriends that sometimes

classic gifts are the best

way to go. She said diamond

earrings are a big seller

this time of year. For a more

personalized gift, they sell

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2011 AMERICAN PRESS D3

Let local merchants help you shop

Last-minute gift

ideas range from

massages and

jewelry to books

and LSU attire

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Michael’s Flowers and Gifts

Features Large Assortments of

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Centerpieces Christmas Tree Decorations

Baby, LSU & Fleur de lis Items

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00718622

the Zable charm bracelets,

charms and beads.

The “hands down, best

seller” at Serendipity is the

Brighton Jewelry Collection,

owner Janet Dolan

said. For a more unique

gift, they also sell gourmet

sauces and pepper jelly, as

well as pecan or chocolate

pie in a jar.

If you have young children

on your list, check

out Barewood Furniture,

where owner Matt Migues

says people love to get small

rocking chairs, table and

chair sets or toy boxes for

kids. They also offer outdoor

swings and rockers.

To find a great, personalized

gift, Christian Book

Center offers engraving of

any of the products available

through the P. Graham

Dunn Laser machine. From

wood to crystal, plaques

and clocks to key chains, at

Christian Book Center, they

can put whatever message

you want to send. They also

offer crosses, Bibles with

name imprinting available,

rosaries and nativities, says

Megan Guidry.

Finally, consider Tiger

Nation your one-stop shop

for all the LSU fans on your

shopping list this year.

Some of the most popular

gifts this year include the

“Ole War Skule: The Story

of Saturday Night,” which

chronicles the history of

LSU football from 1893.

Other gifts include authentic

replica helmets, pajama

pants and SEC and BCS

championship shirts and

hats.

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00717231


D4 AMERICAN PRESS THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2011

L A S T- M I N U T E G I F T G U I D E

Shipping gifts more

than just timing

There’s more to shipping

gifts than just getting them

sent out promptly. When

shipping gifts this season,

consider the following tips.

■■

Protect the gift. Use

bubble cushioning and

packing peanuts when sending

fragile items through the

mail. If sending multiple

items, wrap each item tightly

in bubble cushioning but

leave some space between

the items for peanuts.

■■

Carefully pack perishables.

When sending perishable

items, always send

them via next-day delivery

and never ship them near

the end of the week, such

as a Friday or Saturday.

Items shipped on Friday

and Saturday should be able

to withstand a few days of

being in transit. But when

sending cheeses, fruits or

any other perishable items,

it’s best to do so early in the

week and choose next-day

delivery.

■■

Insure more expensive

gifts. Don’t skimp on insurance

when sending expensive

gifts such as jewelry.

Shipping companies typically

only insure items up to

a certain amount, so insure

more expensive items

through your own insurance

company so their full value

is covered.

■■

Comparison shop when

shipping. Shipping companies,

including the post

office, compete for business

come the holidays, and you

can likely find a good deal to

reduce the cost of shipping

holiday gifts, costs that can

add up if shipping several

gifts.

SOURCE: METRO CREATIVE CONNECTIONS

Last Minute Gifts

Pre-wrapped Gifts

$5 up to $20

Great Stocking

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Visit www.harlowlms.com

to look up and order

your parts online!

Think local farmers markets, cookbooks

CASH AND CARRY FARMERS

MARKET: 4-6 p.m., Tuesdays, 801

Enterprise Blvd., corner of Broad

Street and Enterprise Boulevard,

rain or shine. All products are made,

raised or grown in Louisiana by the

vendor. Contact: Brett Marino, 337-

764-9432.

CHARLESTOWN FARMERS MAR-

KET: 8 a.m.-noon, Saturdays, behind

Old Historic City Hall on Bilbo Street.

If raining, moved inside to first floor

City Hall. Items available include local

fresh shrimp, seasonal produce, canning,

jelly/jams, natural fruit drinks,

bake goods, plants and furniture. Contact:

Carolyn Smith, 337-439-4944.

MAIN STREET FARMERS

MARKET: 7-10 a.m., Saturdays,

Founders Park, corner of Main and

Nezpique streets, Jennings. Items

available: mustard greens, eggplant,

green onions, peppers, okra, jams/

jellies, large variety of pickles, salsas,

canned vegetables, wood-crafted bird

feeders and planters; baked goods

and crafts. All products grown or

produced by local vendors. Contact:

Jo-Anne O’Quain, 337-821-2723.

COOKBOOKS

Big Lake Gospel Tabernacle is selling

“Ladies of the Church Cookbook,”

a collection of recipes from

the ladies of Big Lake Gospel Tabernacle.

The hardback cookbooks have

165 pages of Cajun-country recipes

and are available at Brown’s Grocery

and Miller’s Feed Store, both located

in Grand Lake, or by calling Ann Mann

at 337-905-1266 or Connie Brister

at 337-598-3306. For more information,

email conniebrister@yahoo.com.

Cookbooks are $12.

Black Heritage Foundation is selling

“Cooking From Across the

Tracks.” This cookbook has more

G I F T I D E A S

than 180 pages of recipes that reflect

the heritage of Southwest Louisiana

cooks. Proceeds from the cookbook

will help fund various BHF projects.

Cookbooks are available at the Arts

and Humanities Council, 809 Kirby St.,

337-439-2787. Cookbooks may also

be ordered by mail by sending a check

or money order made out to the BHF for

$20 to: Black Heritage Foundation, P.O.

Box 16365, Lake Charles, LA 70616,

or call 488-0567.

Bridge Association of Southwest

Louisiana is selling “Bridge Bites,”

including 499 recipes. Books are $10

and may be obtained by calling 337-

478-0329 or 337-436-3587. If mailing

a book, cost is $10 plus $3.75

shipping and handling.

Busy Bee Head Start students are

selling “Buzzing Around the

Kitchen.” The cookbook is filled with

a variety of recipes including Cajun,

Greek and diabetic. Also included are

recipes on art supplies to make at

home for the children. To purchase a

cookbook, call 337-912-9252. Cookbooks

are $10.

Calcasieu Council, ATT Telecom

Pioneers of America is selling the

Louisiana Chapter 24 “Pots, Pans

and Pioneers” cookbooks, vols.

I, II, III, IV and V. Proceeds help

fund charitable projects provided by

the Pioneers in Southwest Louisiana.

Books may be purchased 9 a.m.-

4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, at

the Pelican State Credit Union office,

4340 Kirkman St.; or call 337-474-

2040. Cookbooks are $12.

Calvary Baptist Church is selling

“Divine Cooking.” The books are

a collection of 672 recipes submitted

by members and friends of the

00718059

church. To purchase a cookbook, call

527-9640. Cookbooks are $10.

Christ the King Catholic Church is selling

“Pleasures from the Good

Earth.” The collection of 600 recipes

are compliments of the Rev. Wayne

LeBleu and many of the parishioners.

Proceeds will benefit the expansion

of the Parish Religious Education

Program (PREP) for grades K-11.

Cookbooks may be purchased in the

church office, 7680 Gulf Highway,

Monday- Friday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and

after each Mass — Saturday, 5:30

p.m.; and Sunday, 8:30 a.m. and

10:30 a.m.

Dry Creek Bible Church is selling

“Dry Creek Bible Church 75th

Anniversary Cookbook” —

hardback, three-ring binder cookbooks

with more than 300 old-time favorite

recipes. To purchase a cookbook, call

337-328-7155 or 337-328-7937. You

may also email an order through the

Website at drycreekbible.com. Cookbooks

are $12 with a $3.50 shipping

and handling fee.

Jeff Davis Communities Against

Domestic Abuse (CADA) is selling

“Yours Is Good .... But, Mine’s

Better” — a treasury of recipes from

past and present Southwest Louisiana

cooks. The 230-page collection

includes 585 tried-and-truly-delicious

recipes, including everything from

appetizers to desserts. All proceeds

benefit CADA. For more information

or to purchase a cookbook, call 337-

616-8418. Cookbooks are $29.95.

Junior League of Lake Charles Inc. is

selling “Marshes to Mansions.”

The cookbook contains more than

90 sidebars and tips with interesting

facts and tales about people, places

and events throughout Lake Charles

history, along with helpful cooking

tips. “Marshes to Mansions” is available

online at www.jllc.net, by calling

the Junior League office at 436-4025

or by visiting many local retailers.

Cookbooks are $28.95.

Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary

of Immaculate Heart of Mary Court

141 are selling “Ladies Taste of

Heaven.” The book contains recipes

submitted by the organization’s membership.

To purchase a cookbook,

contact the committee at 436-1179.

Cookbooks are $8 each.

Louisiana Garden Club Federation is

selling “Cher, It’s Good, Too”.

Proceeds are used to maintain its

headquarters in Lecompte. Recipes

have been provided by members from

all over Louisiana. To purchase a

cookbook, call Margo Racca at 337-

582-7339. Cookbooks are $15 each.

Louisiana Sheltie Rescue is selling

“Cookin’ On the Bayou!

Proceeds from the cookbook will be

used to pay the medical costs of the

rescued dogs. To purchase a cookbook,

call 302-0917. Cookbooks are

$20 each.

Olivet Baptist Church is selling “A

Taste of Time.” The books are

a collection of recipes submitted by

members and friends of the church

celebrating 50 years. To purchase a

cookbook, contact the church office at

528-2829. Cookbooks are $10 each.

Our Lady Queen of Heaven School is

selling “Creole for the Soul.” The

books are filled with a culmination

of recipes from both parents and parishioners.

To purchase a cookbook,

call the school office at 477-7349.

Cookbooks are $25 each.

Southwest Louisiana Master Gardeners

is selling “We Are Great In

the Garden, But you Should

See Us in the Kitchen.” The book

has approximately 200 recipes and

also tips for gardening as well as

information about favorite Southwest

Louisiana plants. Books may

be purchased at the LSU AgCenter,

7101 Gulf Highway, next to Burton

Coliseum. Call Betsy Doucet, 337-

855-4778, for more information.

Cookbooks are $12 each.

W.O. Moss Regional Medical Center

is selling “Eat Well, Cook Often

— W.O. Moss Regional Medical

Center 50th Anniversary

Cookbook.” There are more than

300 recipes in a gold and purple ring

binder. The book has recipes from

hospital employees, friends of the

hospital, and special classic recipes

from Moss’ first cookbook which was

published in 1988. Proceeds go to the

Community Assistance fund, which

assist patients with transportation

cost, medication co-pays, and other

healthcare needs. Call 337-475-8334.

Cookbooks are $15 each.

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Prices subject to change

Karts

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20 pk, 12 oz. btl or cans, 24 pk 10 oz. can

Miller Lite or Coors Lite .. $14.49

18 pk 12 oz. bottles

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337.478.0901

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00716916


L A S T- M I N U T E G I F T G U I D E

By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL

Associated press

NEW YORK — The Santa

hats, beach background

or dressed-up dog in the

holiday card photo might

be saying more than “Merry

Christmas” or “Happy New

Year.”

The image can be a snapshot

of the past 12 months:

where you’ve been, what

you’re thinking, your outlook,

your outfits.

Yes, it’s a big message to

come in a 5-by-7 envelope,

but you already knew a

picture could be worth a

thousand words. Now consider

that this card might be

the only piece of snail mail

you send to your loved ones

all year. While email and

social media makes it easy

to stay in frequent communication

with far-flung

friends and relatives, those

tweets, texts and updates

can be deleted or forgotten

as quickly as they arrive.

A holiday card, in contrast,

“is really a chance

to make a statement,” says

Kemper Johnson, visual director

of MyPublisher.com,

an online custom publishing

site.

“You’re creating your

own greeting card. It has

meaning, and most people

you’re sending it to know

will know that it’s your

home in the background or

the vacation you were on, or

it’s an introduction to you

and your family to a new

friend,” he says.

So are you the traditionalist

who lines the family

up in front of the fireplace?

The goofball who each year

dresses up her Chihuahua

in a new sequined frock?

The proud parent who

wants to show off the family’s

football star and best

ballerina on the same card?

The right photo will look

different for each family,

and likely will be a different

type each year, says Meg

Bohnert, card stylist for

Shutterfly, the online photo

site. You’ll know it when you

see it, she says.

Her advice: “You want a

photo that is ‘in a moment.’”

That doesn’t mean perfect,

though. Sometimes it’s

the frame shot just before

or after the posed photo

that better captures the

real family dynamic.

Next, think about color.

That means not only the

background and text but

also the hues of your clothes

or the setting, says TV style

adviser Jeannie Mai. “Color

is what will jump out of the

envelope first.”

White, for example, is a

way to “hit the reset button”

and convey a change, either

in look or lifestyle, she says,

while peach or blush tones

say “romance — that you’re

feeling lovey dovey.”

If you like a strong, polished

look, consider browns

and grays mixed with black,

suggests Mai, who hosts

Style Network’s “How Do I

Look?”

She envisions her own

card this year to feature

a natural, woodsy setting

with fresh greenery. “I

want my card to say to my

recipient that there’s a new

year ahead and a lot to look

forward to.”

Other tips:

Black and white: This is

either nostalgic or modern,

says Johnson. With

the traditional trappings

— those Fair Isle sweaters,

plaids or snowy landscapes

— your message is one of

a classic, timeless holiday

greeting, he says, while

something sleek without

clutter is more sophisticated

and subtle.

There also are practical

reasons to use a black-andwhite

image. If there’s too

much clutter in the background,

it’ll be tempered,

and will neutralize clashing

colors.

Coordinated clothes:

“Matching outfits can do a

couple of different things,”

San Francisco-based photographer

Jennifer Chaney

observes. “It can say, ‘We’re

very traditional,’ it can say,

‘We have a sense of humor’,

but it also can convey that

you don’t have a lot of creativity.”

She suggests everyone

wear something in the

same color family or have

one matching accent piece.

“You’ll look like you belong

to the same family but that

you have your own style.”

Gallery: Using multiple

photos can bring a family

together, even if it’s hard

to get them together in one

room. “It’s the quick fix if

someone is away at college

or for grandparents

who want to show all their

grandkids,” Bohnert says.

“You can tell a lot of stories

this way.”

Antler ears, Santa hats

and fake moustaches: “The

joke has to be an obvious

joke,” Chaney says. Clever

wording will help here.

Think “Awkward Family

Photos.”

Pets: As much as he’d

like photo cards to show

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2011 AMERICAN PRESS D5

Holiday photo cards: What do they say about you?

Associated Press/Shutterfly

The holiday photo card might be the only piece of snail mail you send to your

loved ones all year.

every member of the family

right down to the goldfish,

Johnson warns that pets

can steal the thunder, so

mind the pecking order and

how that comes out in the

picture.

Outdoor setting: It’s often

the easiest shot, has the

best light and it’ll probably

have the most easy-going

feel, Bohnert says. The

family will probably come

off as less stuffy and more

playful. Don’t feel limited

to a pine-tree background.

If your best photo was

from your summer vacation,

share that with your

friends. They want to see

you when you feel happy

and at your best, Bohnert

says. If you want to make it

feel a little bit more “holiday,”

trim it red and green

or add candy-cane stripes.

No people: You don’t

need people to make a

personal photo card. An

artistic landscape from that

blockbuster trip, a sunrise

picture from your deck or

the wreath that hangs on

your door can say just as

much.

New Year’s: Want to

stand out from the crowd?

Send a New Year’s card.

“That says, ‘I’m always late’

or ‘I’m really optimistic,’”

according to Bohnert, “but

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D6 AMERICAN PRESS THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2011

L A S T- M I N U T E G I F T G U I D E

Giving green: Natural ways

to spread holiday cheer

The holidays are a time

for celebrating, reflecting

on the past year and

exchanging gifts with

friends and family. However,

unique and meaningful

ideas can be a daunting

task. Gifts that keep giving

and growing are a perfect

solution. Plants are not just

beautiful, but also cheer up

any space and even improve

air quality in a home or office

space.

When gifting plants:

GIVE CARE

Always include care instructions

for the plant gift.

Even the most experienced

indoor plant grower appreciates

a little help. Most live

goods come with suggested

light feeding and watering

recommendations. If the

plant selected does not have

these care instructions, ask

before leaving the nursery

so the recipient can keep

this lovely gift green.

CUSTOMIZE THE PLANT

TO THE PERSON

Flowers, succulents, cacti,

tropicals and even bulbs

can make great presents.

The varieties and combinations

are as endless as the

personalities on your gift

list. It is important to match

the plant to the recipient.

For instance, a plant

needing daily watering

would not make a good

gift for a constant traveler.

Instead, give them an interesting

cactus or succulent,

which needs less frequent

care. For an artistic friend,

try a terrarium that can be

customized to their tastes.

The more sophisticated

giftee may appreciate a colorful

and delicate orchid.

For those with asthma or

allergies, plants like palms,

peace lilies and ferns do an

excellent job of improving

air quality and filtering out

toxins.

CONTAINERS MAKE

A DIFFERENCE

Those boring, plastic

pots that house most plants

are not very attractive or

personal. Pop your plants

into colorful ceramic, glass,

wood or even metal containers

for a more interesting

and personal touch. Inexpensive

terra cotta pots

can be painted in bright

or metallic-colored paint,

large coffee cups as containers

can add a quirky

element or baskets can be

lined with plastic and used

to hold small pots.

When repotting plants

yourself, make sure to use

a high-quality potting mix.

Also, keep in mind that

specialty plants like cacti,

African violets and orchids

may perform better in special

potting mixes. When in

doubt, ask the nursery for

recommendations. For presentation,

wrap foil, paper

or cellophane around the

outside of the container and

use fabric bows or raffia to

add a finishing touch.

ARA CONTENT

Gifts that keep giving and growing are a perfect solution.

Plants are not just beautiful, but also cheer up any space and

even improve air quality in a home or office space.

PLANTS AT THE PARTY

Little gifts from nature

go a long way in spreading

the holiday cheer to friends,

family and neighbors. When

hosting a party, offer little

mementos for your guests

to take home. Try a small

terra cotta pot painted gold

and planted with rosemary

or thyme and tied with a

lovely ribbon Or, maybe

small, colorful pots filled

with soil and a bulb to add a

pop of spring to the winter

months. Add a photo of the

flower your guest can expect

and directions on forcing

the bulb to the gift tag.

Whether paying a call on

friends or attending a party,

host or hostess gifts are

another fun way to spread

holiday cheer. Poinsettia,

amaryllis and Christmas

cactus are seasonal favorites.

Plants make excellent

gifts and will be a reminder

of the good times you

shared.

SOURCE: ARA CONTENT

Don’t panic: There’s

still time to wrap up

your holiday shopping

It’s Dec. 15 and you’ve

just barely made it through

half of your holiday shopping

list. The panic may

have set in that you just

don’t have enough time to

get everything done.

This is a common scenario

around the holidays. Shoppers

have the best intentions

to get their gifts early, but

whether because of work

obligations or social events,

the task seems to get pushed

further and further into

December. Soon many are

staring down the calendar

experiencing sweaty palms.

According to a Steelhouse

Marketing Consultants

poll of 1,000 consumers,

62 percent predict they

will spend less money on

the 2011 holiday season.

Plus, 56 percent of families

predict they will comparison

shop more than they

have in the past. These factors

may contribute to just

how long shoppers put off

actually getting into stores

or going online to shop.

For the scores of shoppers

who consciously or

subconsciously wait until

the last possible minute

to shop, there are ways

to survive and surprise

friends and family with

great gifts.

Gift cards: They may not

have sentimental meaning

behind them, but gift cards

are fast and easy. Chances

are you can run into a store

and be out with a handful

of gift cards in less than 15

minutes.

Food and beverages:

While everyone is heading

to the mall in droves,

you can be stepping inside

of a gourmet food or spirits

store. Splurge on fine

cheeses or that trendy

bottle of liquor that a gift

recipient has mentioned but

not yet purchased for himor

herself.

■■

Donate in a loved one’s

name. If a specific charity

is near and dear to a loved

one’s heart, make a donation

in their name. Charities

are among the many organizations

that are struggling

to survive in the current

economy, and your donation

might go a long way to helping

a cause your loved one

truly supports.

Magazine subscription:

A magazine subscription

is an easy fix as a lastminute

gift. Purchase one

copy of the magazine at

the newsstand and wrap it

up nicely. Put a note that a

year’s worth of this periodical

is on the way.

E-certificates: Retailers

like music or book sellers

will e-mail a gift certificate

code to the person of

your choice on a selected

date. For those who are

never without an e-reader

or mp3 player, digital gifts

could fit the bill.

Gas card: A gas card

from a brand-name station

is a universally acceptable

gift for anyone who drives

regularly. With fluctuating

gas prices, filling up the

tank can be an expensive

venture. Having a pre-paid

gift card can help.

Waiting until the last

minute for shopping can

induce some anxiety.

Knowing about easy gifts

for procrastinators can

take the stress out of shopping.

SOURCE: METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION

W H O T O T I P

00723264

00718462

Come the holiday season,

most people find themselves

in a giving mood.

Gifting friends, family and

even coworkers is common,

but there are many other

people in our daily lives

who societal norms suggest

deserve a gift as well.

Holiday tipping is more

common in certain areas

than others, but there are

a few questions men and

women can ask themselves

when trying to decide if a

person in their lives deserves

a holiday tip or gift.

Is the person a professional?

Men and women

who provide professional

services, such as accountants,

lawyers and doctors,

do not warrant a tip during

the holidays. These

professionals are already

paid handsomely for their

services.

How often do you see

the person? For example, a

child’s babysitter or nanny

deserves a little something

extra come the holidays

because you likely see that

person on a regular basis.

The same goes for the postman

or a dog walker.

Where do you live? People

who live in apartments

should show their appreciation

to the doorman and

building superintendent

with a tip or gift. Homeowners

need not tip their local

handyman, however, even if

he performs the same tasks

as a building superintendent.

When the holiday season

arrives, generosity often

reigns. But men and women

should not feel obligated to

tip or gift every person in

their lives.

SOURCE: METRO CREATIVE CONNECTIONS

In our new office, already one year, we wish

you and your family joyous Christmas cheer!

New

2012

Products

Now Available!

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LAKE CHARLES

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0 0 7 1 8 4 4 0

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00721247

337-625-2020

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L A S T- M I N U T E G I F T G U I D E

Keep wine choices fun,

frugal for holiday scene

By MICHELLE LOCKE

Associated Press

The best wines for

holiday parties are like

good hosts, accommodating

enough to handle a variety

of scenarios, but with

enough personality to keep

everyone entertained.

What bottle will best suit

your occasion? As with most

things about wine there’s no

single answer, but here are

a few suggestions on how to

get the party pairing right.

■■

Don’t pull out that

obscure bottle that’s been

gathering dust, says Mary

Gorman-McAdams, a New

York-based Master of Wine

and consultant to the daily

deal wine site VITIS.com.

Unless, of course, the party is

for a (small) bunch of fellow

wine geeks who are likely to

show up clutching dusty bottles

of their own. For more

mixed gatherings, pulling out

a challenging wine is liable

to slow things down. “Holiday

gatherings are about fun,

people chatting together and

not about a wine that demands

all of your attention,”

says Gorman-McAdams.

■■

Do be prepared to try

something a little bit different.

Love chardonnay?

Maybe try a chardonnayviognier

(another white

grape) blend. Big fan of big

reds? A Cotes du Rhone

from France or malbec from

Argentina are good choices.

The good news on malbec is

that you can get a nice bottle

for $12 to $15. “I have to say I

haven’t really met a malbec I

don’t like,” says Gorman-Mc-

Adams. Another possibility,

especially this time of year, is

Beaujolais, the youthful reds

from France that are known

for their fruity punch and

are often to be found for $10

to $20.

■■

Don’t overspend. “It

doesn’t have to be expensive

to be a great bottle of wine,”

says David O’Day, wine director

for the Dallas-based Del

Frisco’s Restaurant Group.

“I’m not buying $50 to $75

wine when people come

00719720

over.” Gorman-McAdams

agrees, recommending two

wines offered at a discount

by VITIS, the 2008 Domaine

des Nugues Fleurie, Beaujolais

Cru, available for $16,

and the 2007 Grant Burge

Barossa Vines Chardonnay,

from Australia’s Barossa Valley,

for $10. Most wine shops

and grocers will offer similar

bargains.

■■

Do look for crowd-pleasing

wines, like sparkling

wines, rose and riesling.

“We’re a diverse crowd, we

have a lot of different palates,”

says O’Day. “In the

holidays, I always have my

go-to wines. I’ll have some

lighter, crisp whites, some

sauvignon blanc and some

riesling, and I always have

some sparkling. The ladies

in my family love rose, so

I always have a nice rose

on hand.” For the reds, he

also likes malbec, as well as

Chauteauneuf du Pape from

France and pinot noir.

■■

Don’t be afraid to ask

for help. Finding a $50 bottle

of wine that tastes good isn’t

so hard. Finding a great $10

to $15 bottle may require

the aid of a helpful staffer

at your local wine shop.

“Just let these people know

what you want: ‘I’m looking

for a sparkling wine in the

$15 to $20 range and I’d like

three different options,’”

says O’Day. “They know

what they have in stock; they

know what you’re looking for.

Don’t get caught up in being

upsold. If you want something

in the $15 to $20 range,

you can stick to that range.”

Even though he’s an expert

responsible for creating the

wine lists for all 31 restaurants

in the Del Frisco chain,

including nine Del Friscos

Double Eagle Steak Houses

and 20 Sullivan’s Steakhouses,

O’Day isn’t above taking

his own advice. He often

goes to wine shops incognito

and says something along

the lines of, “I’m looking in

Chile and Argentina, what do

you feel are your three best

values in red and maybe a

couple in white.”

Associated Press

The best wines for holiday parties are like good hosts, accommodating

enough to handle a variety of scenarios, but with

enough personality to keep everyone entertained.

■■

Do give some thought to

presentation. Whites should

be cool, but not icy. If you’re

serving whites, an ice bucket

is a nice extra, but not essential.

“I like to have an ice

bucket, especially the sparkling

and the whites, but with

my crew the wine doesn’t really

last long. We’re popping

and pouring,” says O’Day.

Reds shouldn’t be cold, and

if you have a decanter, that’s

a step worth taking even

for wines that are $8 to $10.

“Every wine will benefit

from the aeration process,”

says O’Day. “It’s a nice touch.

It looks great. It’s festive and

fun around the holidays.”

■■

Don’t obsess about

searching out the perfect

pairing. “If you end up overfocusing

on the wine, you’ll

end up being disappointed,”

says Gorman-McAdams. “It’s

really about the people and

having fun and talking. It’s a

much easier task than people

think.”

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2011 AMERICAN PRESS D7

Gifts of the Three Kings

With presents and parties

foremost on the minds

of many, the religious

significance of the holiday

season can take a backseat

to some of the secular celebrations.

One of the religious

celebrations of the season

is Three Kings Day, also

known as the Feast of the

Epiphany and Dia de los

Tres Reyes. Celebrated on

Jan. 6, the Epiphany marks

the 12th day of the Christmas

holiday and remembers

the three kings who came

to bear gifts to the newborn

baby Jesus.

According to the Bible,

three kings, or wise men,

named Caspar, Melchior

and Balthasar saw a bright

star in the sky the night

Christ was born. They followed

this star to Bethlehem

where they found the

child. There they presented

Christ with gifts of gold,

frankincense and myrrh.

Frankincense, also

called olibanum, is a sap of

the Boswellia. The tree is

tapped, much as one would

a maple tree for syrup, and

the frankincense resin drips

out in “tears.” Frankincense

was used for many reasons

in ancient times, typically

in religious ceremonies as

an incense. The aroma of

Citrus Trees:

Satsumas

Oranges Grapefruit

Lemons Limes

Kumquat

frankincense is said to represent

life, and the Judaic,

Christian, and Islamic faiths

also used frankincense oils

to anoint the young. It has

also been used in alternative

medicine as a stomach

aid. Ancient Egyptians used

charred frankincense to

make kohl, or the eye makeup

distinctive of that region.

Myrrh is another tree

resin and it comes from the

Commiphora species. Myrrh

was commonly used as a

healing agent, especially an

antiseptic. Ancient Greek

soldiers carried it to treat

and clean wounds earned

in battle. Egyptians burned

myrrh as part of rituals. It

is also another substance

burned during religious

ceremonies. Myrrh was also

used in the embalming process

in ancient times.

Historians and religious

scholars say that the gifts

given to Jesus by the three

kings were quite appropriate.

The gold represented

his royalty, the frankincense

his divinity and the

myrrh his future death.

On Three Kings Day many

people take down holiday

decorations and officially

call an end to the Christmas

season.

SOURCE: METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION

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00721922


D8 AMERICAN PRESS THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2011

L A S T- M I N U T E G I F T G U I D E

A no-bake

holiday treat

perfect for

gift giving

By ALISON LADMAN

Associated Press

Salty and sweet. Savory

and rich. It’s the treat for

chocolate fans who think

they’ve tried it all.

It’s caramel bacon peanut

bark. That’s right. Read that

one again.

We start with a smooth,

rich pool of melted milk

chocolate, then scatter

chopped peanuts over that.

On top of that goes a healthy

scattering of cooked and

crumbled bacon. Trust us

— the salty-savory-sweet

flavors play so well together.

But we didn’t stop there.

Over that goes a drizzle of

caramel and a sprinkling of

flaked sea salt.

Once the bark has completely

cooled, it can be

broken into chunks and

packaged in plastic bags

or candy boxes for gifts. It

should hold at room temperature

for up to a week.

CARAMEL BACON

PEANUT BARK

Servings: 24

Start to finish: 30 minutes, plus

cooling

12 ounces maple or brown sugar

bacon

Two 12-ounce packages milk chocolate

bits

1 1 ⁄2 cups chopped peanuts (salted

or not)

10-ounce bag soft candy caramels

Large flake sea salt

Directions: Line a baking

sheet with waxed paper.

Heat a large saute pan

over medium-high. Working

in batches, add the bacon

S W E E T FA C T S

Candy canes are very

popular holiday treats and

are often used to decorate

Christmas trees. That

hooked shape certainly

makes them whimsical and

able to hang on tree boughs.

But candy canes weren’t always

the curved and colorful

treats they are today.

In the 1700s, candy

canes were nothing more

than straight white sticks

of sugar candy used to

decorate Christmas trees.

A choirmaster at Cologne

Cathedral decided that having

the ends bent to depict

a shepherd’s crook and

passing them out during

church services would help

keep children quiet. It was

Associated Press

This caramel bacon peanut bark can be broken into chunks

and packaged in plastic bags or candy boxes for gifts.

and cook until very crisp,

about 10 to 12 minutes.

Transfer to paper towels

to drain, then repeat with

remaining bacon. Set aside

to cool completely. Once

cooled, crumble the bacon

into small pieces.

Place the chocolate bits

in a medium microwavesafe

bowl. Microwave on

high for 1 to 2 minutes,

stirring every 20 seconds,

or until melted and smooth.

Pour the chocolate onto

the prepared baking sheet,

then tap it on the counter to

settle the chocolate into an

not until roughly the 20th

century that candy canes

acquired their red stripes.

Some surmise that the

candy cane is shaped like a

shepherd’s crook to represent

Jesus Christ, who

tended to his flock of supporters.

Others say that it’s

even, smooth puddle.

Immediately sprinkle

the peanuts and bacon

evenly over the chocolate.

Allow the chocolate to

fully harden, about 15 to 20

minutes.

Meanwhile, place the caramels

in a medium microwave-safe

bowl. Microwave

on high for 1 to 2 minutes,

stirring every 20 seconds, or

until melted and smooth.

Drizzle the caramel over

the bark, then sprinkle

lightly with the sea salt.

Allow to cool and harden,

then break into pieces.

a “J” for Jesus.

Regardless of their

shape, hundreds of thousands

of candy canes are

now manufactured and

shipped for the holiday season

each year.

SOURCE: METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION

00715747

Personalize Christmas ornaments

By HOLLY RAMER

Associated Press

My parents bought me a

new Christmas tree ornament

every year when I was

growing up, ensuring that

I'd have quite a collection

when I started my own family.

But few are marked with

the date, and it's impossible

to remember now whether

1982 or 1985 was the year

I was crazy about teddy

bears.

As I continue that tradition

with my own son, I have

made sure to add inconspicuous

labels to the bottom

of some of his ornaments to

mark the year, or in some

cases have written right

on them with a permanent

marker.

This year, I decided to

make ornaments for him

and some other friends and

relatives that incorporate

their names and the date

as part of the design. These

sparkly snowballs are made

by imprinting letters and

numbers onto polymer clay,

ensuring that the memories

won't melt away.

MATERIALS:

Glass ball ornaments

Polymer clay

Clay cutting blade or scissors

“Pasta machine” for rolling out clay

(optional)

Small alphabet and number stamps

Aluminum foil

White acrylic craft paint

Fine-tipped permanent marker

Craft glue

Fine, clear glitter

Associated Press

Covering glass ball ornaments

with polymer clay to resemble

snowballs and then decorating

them with paint, glitter

and stamped names and

dates is an easy way to create

personalized ornaments.

Ribbon (optional)

Instructions: Roll out

a thin sheet of white clay

large enough to wrap

around the glass ornament.

The color doesn't matter

since you will be painting

the ornaments later, but a

lighter color will be easier

to cover with paint.

Remove the ornament's

metal topper. Wrap the

sheet of clay around the

ornament so it looks like a

tube of clay with the ornament

in the middle. Pinch

the sheet of clay together

and trim off the excess.

Continuing pinching the

clay around the top and the

bottom of the ornament and

trimming off the excess so

that the entire ornament

except for the top opening

is covered.

Smooth the clay around

the ornament to get rid of

any seams where the clay

overlapped. Don't worry if it

looks a bit lumpy; snowballs

are not perfectly round.

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Use the rubber stamps

(without ink) to imprint a

name and date on the claycovered

ornament.

Make a stand for the

ornament out of aluminum

foil by twisting a narrow

piece of foil into a ring that

you can then set the ornament

on to keep it upright

in the oven.

Bake ornament according

to directions on the

polymer clay wrapping.

Allow to cool. Place metal

cap back on the top of the

ornament.

Paint entire ornament

with white paint. Allow to

dry. (To avoid smearing the

paint, you can hang the ornament

by a hook to dry).

Use a marker to carefully

color in the stamped

name and date. If you color

outside the lines, just touch

it up later with more white

paint.

Brush glue over ornament,

leaving a border

around the name and date

if desired. Dust liberally

with glitter, shaking off

excess.

Add a ribbon hanger if

desired.

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