This appears to be turning into some kind of regular event! We’ve got another gift box from our buddy Derek, The Border Geek, and it was PACKED with awesome items from TMNT, Harley Quinn, Red Sonja, Marvel VS Capcom, Power Rangers, Butchovision, and a super-special EXCLUSIVE item that I guarantee you we will be the one-and-only owners of. XD
Our good buddy, Derek, The Border Geek, sent us an awesome box jam-packed with goodies for the whole family! We’ve got Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, Wonder Woman, Batman, and more! Check out the unboxing, and then definitely head over to Derek’s channel and drop him a sub!
I’m not even in this video! What the hell is up with this? lol That travesty aside, Jason and little missy got an awesome mail call from our buddy Derek, The Border Geek. Check it out!
Our buddy Derek, The Border Geek, wanted to do a trade box with us, and I’m so glad we agreed because he sent us some great stuff! Thanks again, Derek!
I am positively in LOVE with S.H. Figuarts, and this is one of the coolest ones I’ve seen yet. It’s the 1980’s cartoon version of Raphel from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!!
There’s only a week left until Christmas people! And yet I know that some of you barely have any shopping done…some of you even have NO shopping done. For shame.
For you people, here are a few last-minute, minimal-effort ideas.
Personally, I’m not a fan of gift cards at Christmas. I can’t help but feel like there should be a note on them that says, “I don’t know you well enough to have any idea what you might like, so here’s some pre-spent money, and please do the leg work for me”. No offense to those who like to give gift cards…that’s just how I feel about them.
That said, there are certain types of gift cards that I feel are acceptable. Two of them are shown above. If you know a Tim Horton’s coffee lover, a Tim Card is an excellent choice because it’s money that you know they’re going to spend anyway. Alternatively, a Playstation Network card (or a Microsoft Points card for the XBox lovers) for the gamer in your life is a wonderful choice because it allows them to “load” their account with funds without having to attach a credit card number to their account. (For those of you who don’t get the whole gaming thing, your recipient can use the funds to download games or virtual goods for their games.)
Depending on what your gift recipient likes there are other good choices for gift cards, but I beg you to avoid certain stores…giving a gift card to a department store says, “I had literally thousands of choices around me, but still didn’t know what to get you”, and please, please avoid those Dollarama gift cards…even if your recipient regularly shops at the local Dollar Store, giving them a gift card for one screams “I think you’re cheap!”
A Themed Christmas Decoration
There are literally thousands upon thousands of themed and licensed Christmas decorations out there these days. They’ve always been available at stores like Hallmark and Carlton Cards, but they’re also prevalent at the department stores and supermarkets now, so you can’t possibly try to say that you can’t find any. For a few bucks you can get your loved one something cute and/or personalized that they can use to decorate their house for years to come.
Does your loved one love the old Rankin-Bass Christmas specials? There are tons of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer decorations out there. Do you have a kid on your list who is obsessed with a particular cartoon? I can almost guarantee you that you’ll find a couple of tree ornaments dedicated to that particular show. My daughter has her own miniature Christmas tree and it is covered in Ponies, Ninja Turtles, Spongebob, Sesame Street characters, and Disney Princesses. Take half a glance in the decoration section of any store and you’re bound to find something, I promise.
A Throw Blanket
Hear me out. If you live in a tropical climate, feel free to ignore this one, but if you live anywhere where, at some time throughout the year, the temperature drops below freezing, this is a great gift. There’s nothing quite like snuggling up on the couch to watch TV/read a book/play a video game/screw around on the computer with a soft, snuggly blanket wrapped around your shoulders. For a cost of between $10 and $30, depending on where and what you buy, you can share this joy. I’ve both given and received these wonderful little squares of material, and they’ve always been appreciated. In fact, I have one wrapped around me as I’m typing this post. Trust me on this one. Lovely, easy gift.
With this last gift-giving guide post, I would like to say one last thing… Pay attention to your loved ones. The reason we all tend to have so much trouble (and stress) shopping during Christmas is because we can never think of what to buy, and the main reason that we can’t think of what to buy is because we simply don’t pay attention to one another. I’m not trying to give the impression that I’m exempt from that statement…I’m as bad as anyone. But the worst offenders, I’ve found, tend to be the parents of young children. Working in retail has shown me that a lot of parents pay so little attention to their children’s likes and dislikes that it actually frightens me, so here’s a hint: if you think that every video game is a “Mario” game, or you can’t name even one of the characters of the TV show that your child loves…you need to start opening your eyes and your ears and stop relying on sales associates to help you figure out what to get your kid for Christmas.
Do you have any gift ideas that you’d care to share with the panicked, stressed-out last-minute shoppers? Leave a comment! We’d all love to hear your ideas!
This concludes Tracey’s Gift-Giving Guide. I hope I’ve helped a few people come up with some ideas for great gifts for their loved ones, but now that we’re down to one week left I plan to not even think about any more shopping. 🙂
Happy last minute shopping, everyone!
Battle-Shell Ninja Turtles
Do you have a Ninja Turtle fan on your list? Check out these awesome action figures of the Nickelodeon iteration. These four “battle shell” turtles are larger than your average figure, standing about 11 inches high, and come with weapons that fit snugly into a compartment behind each turtle’s shell. They’re perfect for a fan of the Turtles, and since my wonderfully rough-and-tumble niece has a couple of her own I can assure you that they are kid-resistant. A wonderful choice at approximately $30 each.
Talking Sophia the First
My daughter very recently fell in love with Sophia the First, an amazing little show on Disney Junior that follows a young peasant girl who suddenly becomes a princess overnight when her mother marries the king. Toys for the show have just begun to explode this year, and this 10-inch doll is one of my absolute favorites. Pressing Sophia’s magical amulet makes her share one of dozens of phrases, and when you bring one of her three animal friends close to her amulet the two will “talk” to one another. It’s a sweet toy, especially for a lover of the show. A bit of advice: shop around for this one. I’ve seen it as low as $30 and as high as $45 depending on where you go.
Collector Series Exclusive Nightmare Moon
If you’re someone who has been paying any attention at all to this blog, you know that my daughter loves My Little Pony, so I consider myself something of an authority. That said, this Toys R Us exclusive Nightmare Moon would be an excellent addition to the collection of any lover of the show, or ponies in general. This large figure of the series’ premier villain talks, and her wings move and light up when you press the button on her “cutie mark”. She comes with a comb and four barrettes (of course) with which to style her mane and tail. This toy is an exclusive item that can only be purchased at Toys R Us, and is also part of a collector’s series that probably won’t be around forever, so if you want to get your little pony-lover something special, this just could be it. The regular price for this talking, light-up figure is about $25.
If you’re looking to spend a little bit of money on something fun and durable that is also an excellent learning tool, I present to you one of the biggest toys this holiday season: the LeapPad Ultra. I have to admit that I haven’t yet seen one of these in action, but I’ve read so many good reviews that I feel I can still tote it as an excellent gift option. The latest in a line of “kid tablets”, the Ultra is the largest and most durable version of LeapPad to come out. It brags excellent specs, a 7 inch screen, 8 gigs of storage space, and front-and-rear-facing 2 megapixel cameras. Unlike previous versions, this one is wi-fi capable, and incorporates a child-safe web-browser that only allows the user to access pre-approved sites (the PBS website is an example of an approved site). This model also has a built-in rechargeable battery – unlike previous models – which is gold considering how a child can chew through batteries on a toy like this. The game/book/app library is huge, and includes plenty of options for kids ages 3 through 9. If your little one is as ingrained in technology as mine is, the LeapPad Ultra would make a wonderful gift that lets them feel like they’re using a “real” tablet, while playing games with their favorite characters and learning a ton in the process. This model costs approximately $160, depending on where you buy, and in my opinion it’s worth every penny.
Do you have any great ideas for toy gifts? Please share!
Stay tuned for Tracey’s Gift-Giving Guide Part 5: Last-Minute Ideas
Since I’m short on time with no blog post prepared and my NaNoWriMo novel calling, I thought I’d quickly share a couple of my favorite random things at the moment. Do what you will with that. 🙂
– Disney Princess. There has been a lot of flack around Disney Princess lately, what with the vast number of people who claim that the Princesses teach little girls lots of bad lessons about the important things in life (yes, most of the princesses are out looking for their prince, I’ll give you that), but I personally think it’s a major overreaction. I was obsessed with the Disney Princesses my entire life. My cousins and I must have watched The Little Mermaid about 10,000 times – we could quote every single word – and when I first got Beauty and the Beast I would literally watch it to the end and then hit “play” again. And guess what? I became an industrial technologist who hates cooking and cleaning and would rather sit around in jeans and a t-shirt than primp up with pretty clothes and makeup. The lesson is that watching cute, fun, musical movies with lovable characters does not define who you are going to become, even if some of the plot-lines are a little bit misogynistic. Let the kids have their damn cartoons.
– Scentsy. Much to the chagrin of my husband, father, and father-in-law, I’ve climbed about the Scentsy train. I’m not a great lover of the big burners that need a big flat surface to lay on because my house is not abundant in clear flat surfaces. But I love the cute little plug-ins, and some of the scents that are available just make me melt. I also fell in love with the “buddies”, which are cute little stuffed animals that you can stuff a scent pack into. My daughter has an adorable little teddy bear whose scent pack (“Newborn Nursery”) has lasted for over two years now. I recently started collecting the holiday burners to use as decorations, and I haven’t been disappointed yet…they’re so cute!
– My vacuum. This one might sound weird, especially since just two paragraphs ago I mentioned that I hate cleaning. But the fact that I hate cleaning is exactly why I love my vacuum. I’ve gone through a couple of vacuums now – we’re hard on them because we have two cats that refuse to keep their fur on their bodies, and I have an incredibly thick head of hair that is constantly trying to escape my head – and this is the best one I’ve ever had. I spent a little more money than I wanted to in order to get a Shark Navigator Pro, which seemed to have a lot of great reviews, and I couldn’t be happier. The swivel head is great for corners and tight spots, and the extra-long arm and detachable bucket make it super-easy to do stairs. Vacuuming is significantly less of a chore since I splurged on this particular piece of equipment.
– Scrivener. I’ve mentioned this before, but since I’ve been working on my NaNovel I’ve fallen in love with Scrivener all over again. There’s a bit of a learning curve, it’s true, but if you can convince yourself to sit down and just play around with it for a while you’ll find that it’s an extremely versatile tool that can make a writer’s life a hell of a lot easier. I especially love it for the organizational purposes. If I decide that an entire scene is meant for the trash pile, it is super easy to extract it from the story. If I have a dozen characters I can easily organize scenes so that I can locate the particular character I want to deal with today. I haven’t exploited even a quarter of the things that Scrivener can do and it’s still my favorite writing program ever.
– Retro Cartoon Reboots. We all know that reboots aren’t always the greatest things. Re-making a much loved movie, TV show, or video game has great possibility to destroy years and years of dedicated fan base. But in recent years there have been a few reboots of the cartoons that my generation watched when we were kids, and they’ve thus far been amazing. I regularly mention Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Hasbro’s My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and I will continue to do so because both shows take wonderful, beloved old cartoons and turn them into something updated and amazing. They make homage to the old cartoons while still doing their own thing and being fun and cute and lovable.
– Pizzaronis. I know, I know, they’re not exactly health food, are they? But I had some this weekend at my mother’s party and it rekindled my love for the little pizza bundles. I ate these like they were going out of style when I was younger, and I would happily eat them every day even as an adult. YUM.
– NaNoWriMo. Even when I’m doing poorly (I’m two days worth of word count behind already) I still love this yearly challenge. Which is why I am now going to wrap up this post and get back to my new novel. NaNo participants, ho!
The third week of The Artist’s Way is about “recovering a sense of power”. This week looks into several concepts. One of these is anger, and how we should use angry feelings toward ourselves (“Oh my god, I’ve gotten so fat!”) to reveal those things in our lives which we need to be focusing on.
Another of the topics is “synchronicity”, which basically refers to great things that happen to us (coincidences, most of us call them) that help us work toward our goals. Most of us ignore these things, (“Sure, I met this awesome writer agent who is really friendly and helpful, but it’s totally a coincidence and she won’t want to read my manuscript.”) because we’re more scared of actually achieving our goals than never achieving them.
And the third topic is shame, which most of us have way too much of. We think poorly of ourselves because of concepts that society forces on us (“Artist’s are just lazy people who don’t want to get a real job.”) and that keeps us from following our dreams and goals for ourselves.
As of the writing of this post I haven’t been able to find the time to work on any of the tasks for this week, but there is one exercise that was in the bulk of the chapter itself that I thought I could share. It’s a series of “finish this sentence” lines that are meant to evoke some thought and emotion into who you are and what is important to you, as well as your feelings about certain concerns and issues that might be blocking your creativity.
1. My favorite childhood toy was…probably my Super Nintendo. I can think of dozens of other toys that I absolutely loved, but the SNES holds a special place in my heart, along with such games as Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III(VI), and Uniracers (yes, Uniracers…shut up!).
2. My favorite childhood game was…Jailbreak. It goes by other names in different areas, so for clarification it’s basically hide-and-seek in the dark, where “it” sends people to “jail”. If one of the hiding kids is able to get to the “jail” without “it” catching them, he/she can yell “JAILBREAK!” and everyone runs off to hide again.
3. The best movie I ever saw as a kid was…probably the first live-action Ninja Turtles movie. I saw tons of movies as a kid, but I can specifically remember waiting in line at the theater to see this one and I was definitely not disappointed.
4. I don’t do it much but I enjoy…reading. I read more than most people I know, but still not much considering that it’s one of my favorite things to do. I love reading, but it takes up so much time that I don’t have.
5. If I could lighten up a little, I’d let myself…attend a “Write-In” during National Novel Writing Month. “Write-In”s are basically when a group of writers were are participating in NaNoWriMo get together and hang out at a cafe or at someone’s house and just enjoy each others company while trying to write as much as possible. There are a couple in the next town over every year but I never go because it feels like a very un-adult thing to do for some reason.
6. If it weren’t too late, I’d…go away for college. The degree I got has served me well, so the university I attended was fine, but I always regretted not going away just to experience the whole “dorm life” thing.
7. My favorite musical instrument is…the guitar. It has always been a little difficult for me to play since my fingers are so short, but it’s more fun than the piano, and I just love the sound of a good acoustic guitar.
8. The amount of money I spend on treating myself to entertainment each month is…almost non-existent. In the past couple of months I’ve spent a bit of money on video games for the Vita my husband bought me, but normally I don’t really spending anything at all. If you work it out monthly over the course of a year it’s probably less than $10.
9. If I weren’t so stingy with my artist I’d buy her…some craft courses. There are lots of awesome-sounding writing courses on WANA International and Writer’s Digest, but I just can’t bring myself to spend money on my writing when I have no way of knowing if I’ll ever make any back.
10. Taking time out for myself is…almost impossible. When I was working out West I was accounted for 23-hours of the day, and when I’m home I can’t even sneak away for two minutes without the baby hunting me down and wanting something.
11. I am afraid that if I start dreaming…I’ll crash and burn. I’ve been allowing myself a hope and prayer for the past while, but it’s a tenuous grasp. I worry that I’ll put all this effort into something that I never get anything back out of.
12. I secretly enjoy reading…all these cheesy sexy-vampire-novels-that-are-marketed-toward-teenagers that are out these days. Don’t get me wrong, I still like my vampires to be scary-ass monsters that will rip your throat out, but there’s also an inherent charm to the sexy ones, especially if they’re sexy and dangerous.
13. If I had had a perfect childhood I’d have grown up to be…a writer, for sure. It’s what I’ve wanted since the third grade, so if everything had fallen into place perfectly, that’s definitely what I’d be doing today.
14. If it didn’t sound so crazy, I’d write or make a…series of novels based on all of my favorite video games from my childhood. Games like the Final Fantasy series, Chrono Trigger, the Breath of Fire series, and Secret of Mana all had such amazing story lines, I’ve always thought they deserved to be fleshed out and paid more attention to. I’d love to put 100% of my attention into these things, IF I had any belief that the respective copyright holders would ever allow me to publish them. For now, I’m just spending some of my writing time on the Final Fantasy VI one (a girl’s gotta dream).
15. My parents think artists are…artists? I really don’t know how to answer this one, since I’ve never really asked them. My parents are supportive; whether that reflects their actual attitudes toward artist or not, that’s all I really know.
16. My God thinks artists are…non-existent? I don’t have a God, so I doubt he thinks very much about anything at all.
17. What makes me feel weird about this recovery is…just an overall sense that it’s silly and pointless. I can honestly say that some of the tasks have prompted some “Ah-ha!” moments, but overall I just feel like it’s going to turn out to have been a huge waste of time.
18. Learning to trust myself is probably…one of the harder things I’ve ever tried to do. I might seem confident sometimes, but inwardly I’m pretty sure that I have no real talent and will never succeed in my goals.
19. My most cheer-me-up music is…mostly alternative rock from my younger years. Oddly, even when the lyrics are the exact opposite of “cheer-me-up”, things like the Offspring, GreenDay, and Blink 182 give me a little burst inside. That’s why I have tons of their songs on my phone.
20. My favorite way to dress is…jeans and a tank top. I don’t really like dresses because I hate having to sit properly, and I’m not a huge fan of shorts because I’m not a huge fan of my legs. I prefer tank tops to any other kind of top because they’re cooler (I get overheated strangely easy) and they show off some of the qualities I actually like about my body, like my shoulders and upper back.
So there’s a little piece of me, as per The Artist’s Way’s exercises. Did you learn anything?
What about you? Care to share your answers to some or all of these questions? 🙂