Lori’s Favorite Things

Christmas & Holiday Gift Ideas 2018

I have a love-hate relationship with shopping. Sure, it’s fun to peruse the aisles at your favorite shop, click through their website, or thumb through their catalog (yes, I still get a few catalogs!) but there’s also the stress of getting the right gift for everyone on your list. Will they like it? Do they already have one? Will they return it the next day? (Or even worse — regift it?!)

Inspired by Oprah and her “Favorite Things” list, I put together a few of my favorite items for 2018 in hopes that you might find some fun gifts for the special people in your life this Christmas. You might even find a thing or two for yourself. Tis the season of giving, and hopefully this guide will help you do just that. 

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF WILLIAMS-SONOMA

Harry Potter Gift Set from William Sonoma, $119.95

This is the ultimate gift for the foodie Harry Potter lover. It includes cookie cutters for all of the Hogwarts houses, a Hogwarts scraper, towel, water bottle and a Snitch ice cube maker. How cute is that?! 

Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF L.L. Bean

Classic Lambswool Duffel Coat from L.L. Bean, $249.00

Soft and cozy, this “Paddington Bear” coat is a classic that will never go out of style. This is a higher price tag than what you might pick out at a local chain department store, but the quality is far superior. L.L. Bean used to have their lifetime guaranteed, but due to people abusing the system, they do longer will take your old Bean gear back. The good news, though, is that the quality hasn’t changed. Buy with confidence and enjoy this coat for a long time. Available in standard and plus sizes.

Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF LAND'S END

Women's Supima 3/4 Sleeve Jacquard Sweater from Land's End, $69.99

An updated version of the classic Fair Isle sweater that has been a favorite for years. This light-weight sweater is so soft and just the perfect for feeling cozy without all the bulk. 

Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF L.L.BEAN

Signature Cotton Fisherman Tunic Sweater from L.L. Bean, $109.00

Steeped in tradition of Ireland, this updated fisherman’s sweater is longer and sleek. It’s 100 percent cotton so you know it’s soft as it is fashionable. Wear it alone or with a colllared shirt underneath for preppier look. 

 Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF TARGET

Trendy & Affordable Moto Jacket from Target, $35.00

Moto jackets are EVERYWHERE right now. Some call them a clothing classic, but for me, they’re cute, but I can’t imagine where it for years to come. So when you find a trendy piece under $40, then it’s easier to take the plunge. The way this piece is affordable is because it’s vegan leather aka fake leather! (I keep seeing it called “vegan leather,” a way to rebrand fake leather that makes it hipper 🙂 Whether you’re buying this jacket for yourself or a friend, a smaller price point always makes it easier to click the “buy now” button.

 Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF TARGET

MasterChef Street Food of the World Recipe Book from Target, $23.79

There’s not much hotter than street food and food trucks right now, in the world of cooking. This recipe book will delight your favorite foodie as he/she tries these recipes, and shares the results with you! You had me at street food…

 Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF TARGET

Mini Donuts Recipe Book from Target, $12.99

Donuts have been an Instagram staple for a while now, but instead of only taking pictures of your food, why to create your own. Give this cook book and you’ll be a hero in two ways — (1) your friend/family will be delighted with their thoughtful gift and (2) they might even share their latest creations with you!

 Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF TARGET

Stainless Steel Measuring Cups from Target, $7.00

Any serious cook need serious tools and these stainless steel measuring cups do not come up short. They’re sturdy, easy to clean and will last forever. Say “goodbye” to the substandard plastic measuring cups that bend and break and say “hello” to many years of service. Any foodie would love to receive this practical gift. 

 Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF AMAZON

Ultimate Russian Piping Tips Set from Amazon, $11.99

That special someone will love pretending to be a contestant on the Great British Baking Show when they try out these trendy baking tips. Easily create elaborate cupcakes fit for a queen with these Russian Piping Tips (or should I say a czar?!). This set includes a lot of little extras that anyone will love, like a silicone piping bag, regular piping tips, instruction booklet and organizing case. Let the baking begin!

 Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF AMAZON

Dasein Women Vegan Leather Handbag Designer Purse Satchel Bag with Crossbody Strap from Amazon, $37.99

This bag looks and feels much, much more expensive than it really is. Any girl would LOVE to get this classic bag. When I saw a friend toting it, I thought for sure it was a Kate Spade. It was not. I was surprised when she said it was from Amazon. This bag is classic brown, but it comes it lots of colors.

 Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF AMAZON

Dr. Google Mug from Amazon, $11.99

I may be guilty of this! I do like to Google my symptoms! At the same time, I have many family and friends in the medical field that shake their heads at this annoying habit that more and more people are acquiring. What a funny gift to give to your doctor and nurse friends!

 Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF TARGET

Soft Suede Loafers from Target, $27.99

Nothing is more classic than a pair of loafers, and this updated version will make a great gift. Because they’re from Target, the price is right, so go sneakily find out her shoe size (and width) and snatch this hot present.

 Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF ULTA

NYX Warm Neutrals Ultimate Shadow Palette from Ulta, $17.99

This eye shadow sampler has high-pigmited shades that would look perfect in the fall and winter. The word “warm” implies it will only work on some complexions, but makeup artists have been using peachy shades lately on warms, neutrals and cools. This little gift will be perfect for the make-up lover on your list.

 Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF TARGET

Blush Beaded Bag from Target, $10

This cute little bag makes a great gift with its hint of ’20s-Great-Gatsby charm. It would make a great bag to go inside a purse or for makeup. 

 Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF AMAZON

Large Storage CF Card for Video from Amazon, $117.15

Making a video with a DSLR can open up a new world of creative possibilities with high definition 4k resolution, but all of that comes with a price…crazy-large files! Don’t let your friend run out of disk space when taping their child’s middle school drama (true story!). Instead, gift them this CF card that holds 128 gigs of storage. It may seem like a practical gift, but it is one that any photo-lover will love. (Of course, first check to see what kind of card your loved-one’s camera takes. Some take CF cads and some use SD cards. Some use both!)

 Buy it now

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF AMAZON

External Mic from Amazon, $66.00

If your friend or family member is serious about recording their children’s music recitals and choir performances with a DSLR, then they need a proper mic. This external mic from Rode is a great present that will make a world of difference in their videos. Have loved ones that are getting older in age? Gift this mic to record them and their memories.

 Buy it now

What are some of your favorite gift ideas? I’d love to hear what your favorite things are this holiday season. Reply below in the comments.

Easiest & Best DIY Laundry Detergent – Good for Front & Top Loaders

Two-minutes, two ingredients and less than $2 laundry detergent. Think making your own laundry detergent is a lot of work? We’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be. Learn how to make Lazy Girl’s DIY laundry detergent…that takes two minutes, has only two ingredients, and cost less than $2. Read on to learn more or watch the video!

Lazy Girl DIY Laundry Detergent

What you’ll need…

– Bar of laundry soap, like Zote or Fels Napa. I like the pink Zote because, well, it’s pink 🙂

– 1 cup of washing soda (This is different from baking soda and can be found in the laundry isle.)

Instructions

 

1. First, unwrap the soap, and cut it into long strips that will fit in your food processor.

 

2. Next, put the shredding disk attachment on your food processor. Shred each piece of soap one at a time.

 

3. Sometimes after shredding the soap, there a little piece at the end of the bar that doesn’t want to cooperate. Set those aside, and coarsely chop them up with a knife.

 

4. Then put those chopped pieces in a bowl. Take the shredded bits of soap and dump them into the bowl as well.

 

5. Next put the mixing blade into your food processor and put all of the soap back in. If you have a smaller food processor, you might only be able to fix half of the soap at a time.

 

 6. Next, add 1 cup of washing soda and dump it into the mix. (I’ve heard you can make your own washing soda by cooking baking soda in the oven, but I’m a bit too lazy to try that. I’ll stick to buying the washing soda, thank-you-very-much!)

 

7. Now, blend the washing soda and soap chunks together until it makes a course powder. Why are these two ingredients so special? You can put a lot of different things in laundry detergent, but you only really need two basic ingredients — soap and a water softener. In this recipe, the washing soda acts as the water softener. Softer water allows the soap to do its job better. The soap…well, it’s there to clean the clothes. You can add other things to your detergent, but that’s all you really need. I’ve tried many other detergents before settling on this one. We’ve been using this recipe for two years now, and we love it because it’s so simple, its inexpensive and it gets the job done.

 

8. And there you have it. I place my detergent in a pretty crystal cookie jar (because who doesn’t need a little boost of pretty when doing the laundry?!) and use a about a tablespoon for each load. To help ensure the detergent doesn’t dry out, I put this brown-sugar bear in the jar as well.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Let me know if you’ve used it and how you like it.

Watch the video on the Lori Garcia Studio’s channel on Youtube:

 

1-Minute DIY Foaming Hand Soap, That Smells Better Than the Original!

I love good smelling soap. We’ve proved — at least in our house — it helps reinforce hand washing in our kids. And as much as I love rich, thick, foaming hand soap, I sure don’t like shelling out all that money…especially for our favorites at Bath and Body Works.

Recently, though, I discovered this 1-minute trick that lets us have delicious-smelling foamy hand soap year round, for pennies. If you’re read other tutorials before THIS ONE IS DIFFERENT! This tip, will let you DIY your favorite Bath and Body Works soaps…and you won’t be able to tell the difference from the original!

Check out the video and see how simple it is or keep reading below:


1-Minute DIY Foaming Hand Soap, That Smells Better Than the Original!

Ingredients:

Foam Soap Dispenser

Tablespoon

Favorite Shower Gel

Food Coloring

Hot Tap Water, in a pourable measuring cup


Directions:

  

1. Open your foaming soap dispenser, and set the pump aside. Grab your favorite shower gel – we’re using the same brand and scent from Bath and Body Works, as our foaming soap. This way, our soap will smell the same as the original. This really is key to having your soap smell like the original.


2. Measure out a tablespoon of the shower gel and pour it into your foaming soap dispenser. If you like very fragrant soap, like we do, you can add a second tablespoon. The second tablespoon will actually make a stronger-smelling soap than the original Bath and Body Works foaming soap.


3. Next, you may want to add a couple of drops of food coloring to your foaming soap dispenser. That’s because when you water down the shower gel, it can water down the color. Food coloring is optional, but my family liked it better with it.


4. Lastly, we’re going to fill the soap bottle almost to the top, with hot tap water. You don’t need boiling water, just make sure it’s the hottest tap water you have. Hotter water will help dissolve the shower gel easier.


5. Then, all you have to do is tightly screw on the soap dispenser, and shake until the shower gel is dissolved.


And there you have it, luxurious, foaming soap, that smells just like the real thing. In fact, friends of ours didn’t even know it was a DIY version.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Until next time, I’m Lori and this is Lori Garcia Studios.

Product Review: Aldi Edition

Since I’ve been an Aldi shopper since my parents discovered them when I was teen in the ’90s and, Aldi has changed A LOT. Who remembers the turn-style you had to pass when you entered?

Oh Aldi! Luckily, that is not the case anymore.

If you have an Aldi close by, you either love them or hate them. For the most part, I love Aldi — an excellent place to buy basics on the cheap — but there are some items that are less than desirable. Butter, yes please. Peanut butter, no thank you.

I thought it might be fun to review some of their new items and give you my two-cents. If you’ve tried some Aldi items you LOVE or HATE, please comment below and let us know!

PurAqua Frut – Grade: B+

First up for bids, these flavored waters called PurAqua Frut.  These are bottles of flat, flavored water that are calorie free. I’ve tried all flavors and I think they taste good. I’m not a huge fan of flat waters — I like a little bit of bubbly with my flavored water — but as far as flat fruited waters go, they were good. My high schooler thinks they are cool enough to bring for lunch, not something every product at Aldi has.

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Baker’s Corner Peanut Butter Morsels – Grade: D

Peanut butter morsels or “chips” as I like to call them are a staple in our holiday baking. (I use them to make peanut butter fudge, that is to die for!) So when I saw these at my local Aldi, I got excited. Aldi products tend to be cheaper, some significantly cheaper, than local big box chains, so I had high hopes for these “chocolate” chips.

Unfortunately, the word “flavored” should have tipped me off. They sadly, were a disappointment. At first the peanut butter flavor was good, but it ended with a burnt after taste. I did try another couple…just to be sure…but nope, not worth it. I also did a test a few weeks later — just in case — but they are still a “no” for me.

Activ Energy AA Batteries – Grade: F

I have a little photography business and occasionally I use an add-on flash. True, the flash eats batteries pretty darn quickly, but these bad boys wouldn’t even fire up the flash. Not at all. I’ve used Rayovac, Energizer, Duracell and Sams’s batteries, and they all seem to work great, but these Aldi wanna-be’s left it lacking. All I can say is “never again!”

Let me know if you have had similar experiences with any Aldi products. Have you tried these three? Did you like them? What grades would you dole out? Let us know in the comments below!