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Happy December Preparations!


I hope you and your family are enjoying the season.  My list of things to do is under control.  Even though we make many of our gifts, I love getting out to see the what the local retailers have, and I admit to giving in to a little impulse buying!  Consumer credit counselors receive an onslaught of phone calls every January from shoppers who have gone overboard with their credit cards. Below are some of the tips they share with their callers. A friend uses the cash/envelope system. Once the money's gone she's done shopping! I admire her resolve.  What is your way of not spending too much?  Email me with your good ideas. Have a great week.



What's Going On This Week?


If your family is anything like ours, every weekend on your calendar is quickly filling up.  Don't forget to check out all the wonderful events on the Events Calendar.   Check back often - we add additional events daily!  Our Parent Planner also offers a great way to save time - use it to choose activities you don't want to miss this season and then e-mail it to your friends! Our family went ice skating at the Monterey Fair Grounds.  Only one of us had ever been on ice.  It was a riot! 


Ice Skate at Monterey Fairgrounds 12/12 - 12/31/07

M-F noon-10pm; Sa & Su 10am-10pm 


Ride a beautifully lit holiday train 12/14, 15, 16, 21 & 22

through the streets of Santa Cruz as you sip hot-spiced cider, listen to carolers and meet Santa Claus. Reservations recommended. Departs Beach Boardwalk for its 60-minute roundtrip. 


Wilder Ranch Holiday Festival 12/15/07 11am-3pm
Celebrate the winter holidays as folks did in Californio, Victorian, and early 20th century Santa Cruz with crafts to do, games to play, cookies to decorate, and more.

Seaside Crafts at Seymour Center 12/16/07  1-3pm
Create fun crafts that feature the cool creatures of the tidepools. Make a seastar suncatcher, or create your own sea anemone! Scavenger hunt!


Toy Train Exhibit, Museum of Art & History, 12/18 - 12/30/07

Tues-Sun 11am-5pm 

Journey to the past with The Over the Hill Gang as they help train lovers make trains go, dump logs, blow smoke and go around corners with the whistle blowing! Very interactive and fun for kids all ages. Bring a book because you won't be able to get your kids to leave!


Christmas Train Nostalgia

 by Bill Makel


    When I was a kid about five or six years old and Christmas came around there was only one thing I was interested in getting, Lionel electric trains. I would prowl the department store train layouts for hours and just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story. I left some real obvious clues concerning what was needed to improve my little empire each year..... read more here

Did You Know...


.....that you can now include a photo with your FREE classified posting?You can find a babysitter, buy/sell gently used kid and baby items, find employment and more, and with our site getting over 100,000 hits per month, you can make it happen!  It's simple - click here to get started.

.....that Kids Picks is a fun place for you to help your kids tell us about their favorite things?  Take some computer time and submit your Kid Pick and a picture for us to post on the site!

.....that your non-profit organization can submit information on types of volunteers you are looking for?  The best news is that it's all FREE - post your information today and let families know how they can help your cause!



Avoid Over-Spending: Ten Tips


1. Decide on how much you want to spend. Credit counselors suggest using a low interest credit card for all your purchases. When planning the budget for this card, make sure to include miscellaneous holiday expenses such as decorations and postage.


2. One card may be enough. Plastic is fine for kids' toys, but having too much plastic in your wallet leads to the potential for overuse.


3. Stay with a 1-month payback. Set your budget (see item 1) stick to it, and don't budget or spend more than you can pay back in one month.


4. Don't give in to guilt. Stacey Tisdale, financial journalist for CBS News, says, "Some of us have tendencies to try and compensate for say, not spending the time we want with our children or significant others, by overdoing it when it comes to holiday spending. Ask yourself, will an expensive gift really alleviate the problem?"


5. Leave your emergency fund alone. Contrary to popular belief, the holidays are not and emergency. They come every year.


6. Avoid last-minute shopping. A mad dash to pick up gifts can often ruin a budget.


7. Try homemade gifts. It doesn't have to be in honor of "Martha', try coupons for services like taking out the trash, organizing the office, or laundry detail for a week. These gifts show creativity, are more personal, and cost a LOT less.


8. Avoid new store credit cards. While instant savings of 10-20% may entice, Counselors point out that unless the purchase is expensive (in which case you need to re-read items 1-7), a store credit card really isn't worth it and often have a very high interest rate.


9. Everyone shopped for? Stop shopping. Once everything and everyone on the list has been crossed off, put the credit card away, save gas and don't go back to the stores. Go with the "out of sight, out of mind" philosophy.


10. Save for next year. What? Yes, start saving early for next year!


The Consumer Credit Counseling Service can be reached at their website where they offer more credit advice and even immediate counseling services.

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Shop Locally for
Quality Food
for Your Family
Click on Shopper's logo
for this week's specials! 

Tyrolean Inn Restaurant

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Fine Dining by the Fireside
9600 Hwy 9, Ben Lomond
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Gift Making Classes
for Children Ages 5+
Saturday, Dec.  16 


 Grandparent Scrapbook,

Beaded Memory



Canvas Tote Bag 

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Hands on Crafts

with Jane Ann


 Winter Solstice

Stargazing and Storytelling


(Site Photos) Stars.jpgWelcome winter by joining us for an evening of stargazing and storytelling in celebration of the longest night of the year! Lisa Michel and Don Cerow of Starmyths will introduce the night sky and the stars that dance around Polaris. You’ll hear greek myths, observe stars through a telescope, and see the swan dive into the western ocean as she leaves us until next summer. Registered participants are invited to join us for music and warm beverages in the Museum gift shop for a holiday sale before the class from 7-8 pm.


December 21, 8pm
Museum of Natural History
1305 E. Cliff Dr.
Register online or call 420-6113

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 Cards that Give

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Santa Cruz, CA