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Tag Archives: Bell Mar

Can’t Thank Our Clients Enough!

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We are honored to have been voted one of  five Local Favorite Retailers in the City of Surprise and want to thank our shoppers and shippers for having faith in us and returning time and time again to purchase our products, use our services and to share life’s ups and downs in a friendly environment.  In our mind, that’s what being a local gift shop and post office is all about.

We accept this honor humbly along with what we both hope for and fear will be increased scrutiny and raised expectations.  Gifts To Go has intentionally developed slowly so as to get to know our patrons and to evaluate each step toward our ultimate goal of offering a comfortable, convenient gathering spot where life’s joys and sorrows are embraced within the context of local retail establishment.  So, while we’re proud today we’re also buckling down for the next steps along the development.  Thank you for your recognition and please continue to tell when we’re putting smiles on faces and if we should misstep along the way.






Chicken Fajita Recipe Fit For An Arizona SuperBowl Gathering

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Garlic Chipotle Dip
Hosting a SuperBowl Party in the Valley of the Sun this year?  You can’t miss with this delish and simple Chicken Fajitas recipe from our friends at Halladay’s Harvest Barn (coincidentally a New England small business in the heart of Vermont).

Start with a 20 minute marinade of: 1.5 pounds of cubed chicken breast meat, 1 Tbsp chopped garlic and the juice of a lemon or lime. I recommend the lime juice because it has a fresher taste.

Drain the marinade and saute the chicken in 2 Tbsp garlic oil (or add some garlic to your olive oil).  Set the sauteed chicken aside.

Next saute until tender strips of sliced red and yellow pepper in the oil.  Add 1 Tbsp Halladay’s Harvest Barn Garlic Chipotle Dip, 4 oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup salsa and 1/4 cup water. Simmer on low heat until thickened and remember the fresher the salsa, the better.  Add the chicken to re-heat and meld the flavors for 5 minutes.

Serve this fragrant dish atop a bed of greens with warmed tortillas and top with sour cream.

Add a glass of one of our fabulous Arizona brewed beers such as Four Peaks, Arizona Wilderness, San Tan Brewing or one of the many new micro breweries and you’ll host a memorable SuperBowl bash!

Need some Halladay’s Harvest Garlic Chipotle Dip mix?  Stop by our shop at 11340 W Bell Road, Suite 128, Surprise, AZ or Follow Us on Facebook for more gift, book and hostess ideas.

Press Release: Small Business Saturday Book Fest & Toy Drive Launch

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SURPRISE, Arizona (November 11,2014) Gifts To Go, located on the Bell Mar Plaza, announces a Small Business Saturday Book Fest and the launch of their annual toy drive to benefit the El Mirage Firefighter Charities on Saturday, November 29, 2014.

The Book Fest features discussions and autograph sessions with local authors, raffles and discounts. “Reading is fun,” says shop owner Tammy Fraser, “and it is going to be a fun day for everyone. We have great authors scheduled and will offer out-of-the-ordinary specials including discounts hidden inside books” she shared.

John L Ketchum, author of the popular John Bodie Detective Series (Vengeance in Vallejo, Karaoke Killer and Where’s the I in I and J’s?) and Aubrey Finley Patriot Series (2020 Patriots Revenge and soon to be released, 2021 The Search) will discuss his nine published novels ($15.00), along with his military and investigative careers from 9am to 11am. Mr. Ketchum, a retired Army Lt. Colonel and recipient of prestigious military awards including two Purple Hearts, also coordinates three writers groups and is an active participant in others.

During the 10am to noon time period, Laura C Browne will be available. Readers throughout the country may recognize Ms. Browne for her work as a business coach, corporate trainer, speaker and non-fiction author helping others achieve greater career success. She will focus on Annie Clark and the Pearls of Wisdom ($8.95), her delightful novel for girls ages 9-13 which has been praised by Publishers Weekly. Ms. Clark will donate a personalized copy of the book to the winner of a raffle held on November 29. The free copy will substitute a pre-teen’s first and last names in the role of Annie Clark in the title and throughout the novel. Additional personalized copies can be purchased for $49.95 and must be ordered in advance. Raffle tickets can be obtained by visiting Gifts To Go now through the Book Fest.

Multi-award winning time travel writer Ann Goldfarb will visit from noon to 2pm. Ms. Goldfarb, a former teacher, staff developer and school principal, is the author of seven mysteries for the teen to adult audience. Her books, including the recent The Time Borrowers ($11.95 to $12.95) are rich with science and history and include valuable study guides making them great selections for home and classroom reading.

Romance writer, Brenda Whiteside, will share the story behind the story of her six romance stories ($13.95 – $16.95) from 1pm to 4pm. In addition to novels Ms. Whiteside’s pens a frequent blog for her fans. Her works include Sleeping with the Lights On, Amanda in the Summer, The Morning After, Honey on White Bread and an anthology of short stories, “Warm Christmas Wishes”.

From 3pm to 5pm, Rev. Susan Henley, will share her spiritual expertise and books, Sara Beyond the Veil, A Spiritual Look at Dementia ($12.99) and Because of Sean, The Story of a Mother’s Courage ($13.99). Rev. Sue is an ordained Spiritual Peace Minister, counselor and Reiki Master. She can be found around the valley performing weddings, baptisms, funerals and helping her clients achieve a state of well-being.

The El Mirage Firefighter Charities have again partnered with Barnaby Street Shoppes, the retail incubator where Gifts To Go and the USPS Contract Postal Unit is located, to collect donations of new, unwrapped toys and books for local children’s holiday celebrations. Gifts To Go will provide an entry ticket to Laura C Browne’s raffle of a free, personalized copy of Annie Clark and the Pearls of Wisdom to persons who bring in toys and books for the Firefighter Charities.

Barnaby Street Shoppes and Gifts To Go/USPS Contract Postal Unit are found next to the 5 & Diner Delux at 11340 W Bell Road, Suite 128, Surprise, AZ. They are normally open Monday – Saturday from 9am to 5pm but have added Sundays from 10am to 1pm on November 30 and Dec 7, 14 and 21. Please direct questions to Tammy at 602 -403-0646.


Can’t make it to our Small Business Saturday Book Fest?  No worries, we’re adding all these great reads to our website so you can browse and purchase online. And, as you know our USPS Contract Postal Unit will get your online purchases out to you the day your order is placed!

Caped Crusader Hits The Streets…And The Envelopes

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BatmanBat Sheet

Another USPS stamp that evokes a favorite childhood memory.  I recall jumping off the school bus and racing into the house to watch the fabulous Batman and Robin on my grandma’s color TV with my uncle.  It was a daily after school ritual.  Eventually led to my uncle and me making plaster of Paris molds of the caped crusaders in grandma’s laundry room.  A delightful time for me but I recall it didn’t end so well for him as there was residual plaster  problems in the laundry room.

I believe I’ve seen only one of the modern day Batman movies as I never moved from the after school TV show  to either comic books or the ComicCon era.  Nonetheless I’m captivated with the newest USPS stamp release and thought it worthy of a bit of blogging attention.

The following text is taken from and speaks to the sheet details. “For 75 years, Batman has protected Gotham City from the forces of evil. Since his debut, he has become one of the most iconic super heroes in history. This year, the U.S. Postal Service® chronicles the evolution of the character, from his origins to present day.

This new issuance showcases eight unique designs in a sheet of 20 stamps. Four versions of the iconic DC Comics super hero are depicted from four eras of comic book history. In addition, there are four incarnations of the Bat-Signal.

The first row of stamps features Batman with his fists clenched. This muscular, determined Caped Crusader has spent the Modern Age of Comics defending Gotham City from its most notorious villains.  The second row of stamps displays Batman dramatically staring up at the Bat-Signal. By the Bronze Age of Comics, artists had encased the super hero’s spare black bat emblem with a yellow oval. The insignia became the crime fighter’s trademark.
The third row of stamps shows Batman swooping into the frame with his cape flying behind him. The image, from the Silver Age of Comics, accentuates the super hero’s signature glowing white eyes and utility belt. The bottom row of stamps highlights Batman as first envisioned by creator Bob Kane during the Golden Age of Comics. The super hero’s black cape and cowl and gray suit formed his iconic visual identity.

A column on the left side of the sheet includes four different circular stamps. Each is affixed with a different Bat-Signal, the spotlight Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon sent into the night sky to summon Batman.

The background illustration features a silhouette of Batman standing on a bridge with the skyline of Gotham City looming above him. The flip side of the sheet features two illustrations of Batman and text about the history of the character.

Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp sheet. ”

My favorite portion of the sheet is the left hand selvage side that shows a shadowy Batman in the central Gotham City, watching and protecting.  And, the four different circular Bat-Signals are cool additions to the sheet but I do caution all purchasers to be sure to avoid discarding these simple, round stamps as they appear at first to be paper-art stamps that child might use rather than true Forever stamps but they are in fact Forever stamps.


Stayin’ In Touch

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Stayin’ In Touch

It is so true that you can learn (and re-learn) the best things from just talking to other people.  A post office customer just purchased a book of stamps to send her grandchildren.  She fears their lives, filled with electronic gadgetry, move too quickly and much transpires throughout their days that she’ll never know about.  If she doesn’t send them ‘old-fashioned’ postage stamps and specifically ask them to write her a letter at least once a week or when they have something to share, she’ll miss out on the seemingly little events that shape their lives and personalities.  Her final comment “things change too quickly to keep up unless you make a concerted effort to keep up” rang true for me as I try to raise this Gifts To Go child.

So,I am now making a concerted effort to communicate two programs I’m running just for fun of it – One and Done and Friday Fun.

One and Done is a new category on my website at where a single new product is featured every Monday.  I’ll mark the product down and it will be available for purchase throughout the week unless it is sold out.  When it is gone, the category is Done until the following Monday.  Two hints about shopping my online store: 1)  shipping, using the United States Post Office of course, is always a flat $6 to any US address and 2) if you live near our retail location at 11340 W Bell Rd, Ste 128, Surprise, AZ, you can opt out of the shipping charge by clicking the choice to pick up your purchase in-store.

Friday Fun is a question I pose on Gifts To Go’s Facebook page every Friday morning between 8am and 9am.  Each week there is a prize given to the first person to answer correctly.  Generally the prize is a 15% or 20% discount shopping spree anytime before 5pm the following day.  I have to exclude local artwork, post office products and services, custom gift baskets and items already on sale but everything else is available for the discount. 

You are invited to share in the fun every Monday and Friday!  Enjoy!



Kiddos Summer Boredom Stressing You Out? Register for Not All Monsters Are Bad Storytelling & Painting Event

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NEWS from Gifts To Go



SURPRISE, Arizona (July 7, 2014) Conrad Storad, acclaimed Arizona author of more than 50 children’s science and nature books will debut his newest release, Monster in the Rocks, in the west valley on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at a children’s event.

The event will start at 1pm at the Barnaby Street Shoppes on the Bell Mar Plaza at 11340 W Bell Road, Suite 128, Surprise, Arizona. Described as a C.U.R.E (creative, unique, relaxing and educational) for summer boredom, this event is the collaboration of Gifts To Go and Painting 4 Fun, both resident businesses of Barnaby Street Shoppes.

Monster in the Rocks educates children about desert creatures, particularly the Gila monster, and reinforces the importance of staying safe by obeying moms and dads. The book also challenges stereotypes as the real troublemaker in this entertaining tale isn’t the Gila monster after all.

Mr. Storad will read to participating children at 1pm then sign a copy of the book for each child to take home. Children will then join an instructor led stroke-by-stroke class to create an acrylic painting of their own Gila monster on an 8” x 10” canvas.

Parents and guardians of children aged 4 and older are welcome to register for the event while seats are still available. The $25 cost of the event includes the educational storytelling with Conrad Storad, an autographed soft cover copy of Monster in the Rocks, painting instruction and the child’s Gila monster painting ready for hanging or display.

For more details or to register visit either the Gifts To Go or Painting 4 Fun Facebook pages. The Events section on these pages includes a Find Tickets link that provides the details. Alternatively, call Tammy Fraser at 602-403-0646 or Dianne Gibson at 623-889-4439 for more information.


Small Business Week 2014 & All The Tiny Businesses

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Today, Day Two of Small Business Week 2014, brings to mind that while I consider Gifts To Go a ‘micro’ business in that I’m the owner and THE employee, there are a few slightly more micro small businesses in operation.

Gifts To Go prides itself on promoting local authors and local artists and frequently describes them as smaller businesses than itself. I tend to think of authors and artists writing or creating art feverishly in their basements, dens, spare bedrooms or kitchen tables. I’m sure they are not always working at frantic speed as I’m sure there are writer’s cramp moments, toss it out the window moments and hours of product and self introspection.

I’ve been reading this week’s material from multiple ‘expert’ sources on promoting small, shopping small and the value of the backbone of the US economy. I agree with it and am glad to be a part of it. But it strikes me there are some unsung players in the small business realm.

Consider the Etsy store owner. Maybe she makes jewelry or greeting cards or organic dog treats – regardless of product type she’s working the small business dream and hopefully making a profit as she does. Likewise give some thought to the teen, trying to save money for college, who doesn’t drive or cannot afford insurance to drive a car, who walks dogs before and after school in his neighborhood. Again a wee sized business contributing to the US economy.

So, to the volumes of written material this week, I’d add a shout out to those like the Etsy store owner and teen dog walker, those who embody the spirit of entrepreneurship in the tiniest of business settings. A strong American economy depends on all organization sizes. National Small Business Week implores us to shop small and shop local — and I add a request that you look beyond the small shop doors. An internet purchase from an Etsy store or hiring the kid next door to wash your windows will have a similar positive economic impact.

Don’t need anything you could purchase from a small retailer in-store or online? Don’t despair. Instead of shopping, give them an even greater boost – refer the great small businesses to your family and friends. Do it publicly with a review on their Facebook page or write their name and address on a piece of paper to share with your neighbor. Be active this week in supporting the locally owned businesses; we’ll all appreciate your endorsements.

Speaking of being neighborly, I’m reaching out to my neighbors near Avenue of the Arts and Bell Road in Surprise to invite the Etsy store owners and Ebay’ers to drop their USPS packages off anytime Monday-Saturday from 9am – 5pm. My small business values your business.