Gift Ideas, Shopping, Super Deals

10 Great Gifts for Kids for Under $15


I am happy to report that I am way ahead of schedule on my Christmas shopping this year!  Generally speaking, I search for gifts that I think encourage learning, creativity, and family time; hence, things like science kits, books, puzzles, and board games almost always make it into my shopping cart.

My little bug (Christmas 2013)babychristmas(1)

Most importantly, I try to find things that I think the receiver will genuinely enjoy.  I also like to keep a budget of $15 per person (or less than $10 if I can help it) since I have a large family and holiday spending can easily get out of control.  This budget does not apply to my bug and my mom as I do like to splurge a little on them. 🙂

Christmas 2015DSC_0646 (2)

The items below are some of those that I’ve personally purchased this year for my bug, nieces, nephews, and children of family friends.  If any of these gifts interest you, I’ve posted links (just click on the pictures of the product or the product name) for the lowest-priced item I was able to find online at Amazon.

Here are some of the items I picked this year:

***Disclosure: The links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.***

1. Circuit Scribe Kit – $9.99

This is hands-down my favorite gift on this post.  This kit comes with materials, including a conductive ink pen, that allows you to create fully-functional electrical circuits.  This kit is too cool for school!  The box lists this as appropriate for ages 8 and up; however, my bug is 7 and this is something that we would do together anyway.  I could honestly see us playing with this even if he were as young as 6.  My bug and I love anything STEM related so this was a super-easy buy for me.

***UPDATE AS OF 12/1/2017***This product is currently unavailable on Amazon for $9.99; however, you can still purchase this product at the following address for the same price:

2. Pie Face! – $5.88


This game doubles as a great gift and family game, and the price is right!  It is a roulette-style game that will leave you with a face full of whipped cream.  This is a really fun game to play and also a great way to spend quality family time.  Best of all, the kids go insane to see grownups getting splatted.

3. Wet Head Water Roulette Game – $10.89


The concept of this game is very similar to Pie Face, except that you have a hat filled with water instead.  I love this game!  Imagine playing this game on Christmas day as a family (it’s always hot here in Texas!), or on any other day for that matter.

4. Family Feud Board Game – $12.94


This game is hilarious and is another great gift and family game.  I have literally had tears streaming out of my eyes from laughing so hard while playing this game, so I picked up this game for one of my friend’s kids who loves the show.  This is also one of those games I could see my family playing on holidays and family functions.

5. Creatibles DIY Eraser Kit – $10.08


This kit contains eraser clay that you first shape/mold and then bake to set.  Afterwards, you end up with erasers of your own creation.  This is a cute artsy gift or stocking-stuffer that doesn’t make a mess.  This is also another great way to spend quality family time together.

6. Faber-Castell Young Artist Learn to Paint Set – $14.99


I would first like to note that I did not purchase this specific set– for whatever reason, I could not find my set online.  This set, however, is not only similar but is also much better than the set I purchased, and it is still less than $15.  I love this set because it includes washable/non-toxic paint, and includes the materials a child will need to start painting right away.  It is just an adorable budding artist set.

7. Musical UFO (3 Bundle Science Set) – $15.70


I know that this bundle is slightly over $15 dollars; however, it is a 3-piece bundle that comes with 1 Musical UFO Project Kit and 2 Crystal Growing kits.  I plan to separate this bundle into a gift (Musical UFO) and 2 separate stocking stuffers (Crystal Growing kits).  The Musical UFO basically works like a Theremin which is an instrument that is controlled by the movement of your hand.

8. State the Picture – $14.44

State the Picture is a board game that is based on US Geography and was actually created by an 11-year old.   I love the concept of this game and it is a fun way to help your child learn the states.  Per the box, this game is recommended for children 8 and up; however, this gift is going under the tree for my 7 year old.  I am actually looking forward to playing this game with him.

9. Kaleidoscope Coloring: 500 Pieces to Color and Assemble – $14.92


This kit contains a puzzle, a coloring book, and markers.  The puzzle is blank (sans design) and is supposed to be colored in only after the puzzle has been assembled, making this a brain exercise as well.  I purchased this product for my 8 1/2 year old niece who really enjoys these kinds of activities.  Overall, this is a great gift for older children and adults as well.

10. Walkie Talkie Wrist Watch Set – $11.99

I loved walkie talkies as a kid, so much so that I probably would have lost my mind if these were available back then.  These walkie talkie watches include additional features like a compass, secret compartment, magnifying glass, and more.  This set would make a great gift for any kid, big or small.

I hope this post has given you some gift shopping inspiration. I’d love to hear about any gift ideas you have or any deals you’ve come across!


Easy Egg Bread

I come from a pretty large family– I have 4 siblings and we each have children/families of our own.  In addition to that, we have several lifelong family friends that are honorary siblings, so as you can imagine, we tend to have a pretty full house during the holidays with plenty of mouths to feed.  In order to make it easy on everyone, we typically have potluck-style meals where each family is in charge of bringing something– this year for Thanksgiving dinner, I volunteered to make bread and a few sides.

I baked several loaves, rings, and even an edible bread cornucopia:

Cornucopia fresh out of the oven!cornucopia

Braided Bread Ringsbread5

Braided Loavesbread6*Missing from above are about 6 additional loaves that I failed to get pictures of.

The bread was a hit– it was delicious, it looked amazing, and it was festive!  Best of all, I baked all of this bread using a simple recipe (only 7 ingredients!) and without the use of a bread machine!

I made 4 separate batches of dough– 1 batch to make the cornucopia, 1 batch to make several rings, and 2 batches to make 10 loaves of varying sizes.

What you’ll need:

  • Hand Mixer
  • Large Bowl
  • Small Bowl
  • Damp kitchen towel
  • Baking/Cooking Sheets
  • Parchment Paper (Recommended) or Baking Spray
  • Brush (for egg wash)
  • Oven


Most importantly, you’ll need ingredients!  Note that the recipe below is for one batch of dough:

  • 1 1/3 cups of water (warm)
  • 1 packet of dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 3 eggs (1 of these eggs will be used for the egg wash)
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 cups of flour (have additional flour on hand for dusting when kneading)


  1. In the large bowl, mix the warm water with the yeast and let it sit for a few minutes.  *I typically use this time to prepare the other ingredients into ready-to-add portions.*
  2. Add the honey, 2 eggs, vegetable oil, and salt to the water/yeast mixture, and mix well on the lowest mixer setting.
  3. Begin mixing in 1 cup of flour at a time with your hand mixer.  By the third cup, the dough will begin to form and may begin to “climb” up the beaters; if this happens, mix in the rest of the flour into the mixture using a spatula or your hands.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a floured surface.  Knead and gradually dust with flour as you go until the dough loses most of its stickiness.
  5. Roll the dough into a large ball.  Set the dough aside on the counter and cover with the damp towel.  Leave it to rest/rise for about an hour.  *You can place the dough into a greased bowl to rest if preferred; I prefer the counter-top because it leaves one less dish for me to wash :-)*
  6.  After resting, shape the dough and cover/let it rest for another 30 – 60 minutes.  *If you don’t mind a slightly denser dough and/or are pressed for time, feel free to move onto the next step.*
  7. Place the dough onto a cookie/baking sheet lined with parchment paper. *If no parchment paper is available, greasing the sheet will work just as well.*
  8. In a small bowl, mix 1 egg and 1 tbs of water using a fork to create the egg wash.  Brush generously on the shaped dough.
  9. Place your bread into the preheated oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F.

You will know that your bread is done when it has a rich golden-brown color, and sounds hollow to the touch.  Place the bread on a cooling rack, let cool for about 20 minutes, and enjoy!

My bread tray!bread4

My mom was so impressed that she insisted I take a picture of her and the main tray.  I just love her!mom&tray

The total cost of ingredients for the 4 batches I made was about $15 dollars.  About half of that amount was for the honey alone, but I was still left with a surplus of flour for future batches; hence, the cost could be trimmed down even more depending on the type of honey used, or forgoing the honey altogether and using sugar as a substitute.

This is one of my favorite bread recipes– it is such an easy bread to make and it is very versatile.  It is light and chewy, but sturdy enough to make a fairly large and stable cornucopia.  I can’t wait to make this bread again for our Christmas dinner this year.

I’d love to hear from you– let me know how this recipe works out for you, and any variations you tried!



This Suburban Elf goes on Sabbatical

Oh my gosh I am so excited to finally kickoff my blog!  I have been wanting to start a blog for several years now, but just couldn’t find the time.  Up until very recently, I had an extremely stressful job– I was working well into the night to meet deadline after deadline, I was on-call 24/7,  and my round-trip commute was over two hours per day.  On top of that, I am a single mom and my work was resulting in me spending less time at home with my family, and even less time on myself.  I had reached a point of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion and was not willing to submit to that life any longer.  I knew needed a break, and more importantly, my family needed a break. So I cut my living expenses, saved some money, and on November 15th, 2017, I resigned from my position to begin my “Sabbatical.”

After having spent years dreaming, I realized that this Sabbatical was going to be the perfect opportunity for me to start my blog.  While I hope that through this blog I might be able to share some handy tips and tricks to save you some time, money,  or maybe just to give you a little creative inspiration, the most important thing I hope to impart upon you is that time is forever fleeting; don’t forget to invest in yourself and the things that make you happy.  Because when you’re happy, you’re magic, and you make the world a brighter place.

I don’t know when I’ll go back to work and to be honest, I’m not giving it much thought right now.  Right now, I’m going to focus on re-calibrating my mind, body, and soul and  devoting my time to the main pillars of my happiness: my friends, my family, and my community…one project at a time.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll be back soon!


The Suburban Elf