Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shop Happy!

I am positively giddy this morning knowing Montgomery's Junior League Holiday Market is now open! With monogrammed acrylic pieces, pewter, linens and gourmet foods for the ladies on my list, I get a bulk of my Christmas shopping done during this event each year. A few things will make this shopping experience even better ... .

1. Enjoying the Event with Friends! Emma and I plan to hit the Holiday Market today with girlfriends Stacey and Cathy. I wanted to start off our day of gift-buying with a little gift-giving of my own, so I have surprises for my shopping buddies.

2. Personalized Travel Mugs. I made these for Cathy and Stacey using design-your-own mugs from Dollar Tree. I traced the included pattern onto a fun pink-and-green print, cut out the insert with pinking shears, and added style with trendy monograms. Easy and inexpensive -- a busy bargain shopper's dream!

3. Fill My Cup. I can only think of one thing that would make these mugs any better, and that would be filling them with yummy goodness that celebrates the warmth of the season. I experimented with recipes over the weekend, and here's what we'll be sipping while we shop ... .

Pumpkin Spiced Lattes

Enjoy this delicious coffee drink guilt-free knowing your wallet and waist will thank you for saving money and calories making this at home.

3 cups skim milk
6 packets Splenda artificial sweetener
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
8 ounces double-strength brewed decaffeinated instant coffee
Whipped cream, to taste
Caramel syrup, to taste
1 pinch pumpkin pie spice

Heat milk in a heavy saucepan just until hot and bubbly. Combine the hot milk, sweetener, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice in a blender; blend on frappe setting until frothy. Pour the mixture into 6 coffee mugs to about 2/3 full. Then fill almost to the top with coffee. Garnish each latte with rings of whipped topping, drizzles of caramel and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

I can only think of one more thing that would make this shopping experience perfect ...

4. An Unlimited Budget! Although my husband probably can't approve that request, I will count my blessings anyway. My Christmas shopping list is long, but I'm grateful that it reflects a life blessed with so many people to love. As I fill shopping bags with pretty wares, my heart will be full as I reflect on the priceless gifts of love I am given each day. And although my spending will have limits, joy will not as I take in the blessings of a beautiful autumn day with friends.

With girlfriends, monogrammed gift ware, and a glimpse of the holiday fun still to come this year, I'm shopping happy today!

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