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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Well, I feel really overwhelmed with reasons to buy things lately. This is both exhilarating (wheee!!! permission to shop!) and anxiety-producing (everything is SO expensive). We keep thinking of things to buy for our upcoming Road Trip! and Carla’s ninth birthday is fast approaching… but before I can properly deal with finalizing THOSE purchases, I need to pause and consider Father’s Day. 

My husband and father and father-in-law are ALL exceedingly difficult to buy gifts for. They all tend to buy the things they want when they want them, which means that they already HAVE everything. Plus, their interests (music, cars, golf) lend themselves to tchotchkes or wildly expensive investment pieces… and not much in between. Plus plus, to buy anything meaningful for their areas of interest requires an in-depth knowledge of a) that particular hobby and b) what they already have. Which results in me having No Idea Ever what to get any of them.

And yet! We must persevere! 

Sleep Buds: I’m going to start with the most expensive item, and that is because I can recommend it myself. My husband got me a pair of these sleep buds for Mother’s Day, and they are wonderful. They connect to an app on your phone that allows you choose soothing sounds and then you fall asleep with these soothing, noise-canceling sounds in your ears. They are wonderful for me because I am a very light sleeper. If you have a person in your life who has trouble falling asleep or who is a light sleeper or both, I highly recommend these. 

image from amazon.com

Puzzle: My husband loves puzzles. He also has a million puzzles, several of which he has yet to complete. But… it seems like puzzles are similar to books and video games, in that you can’t really have too many. In fact, it’s nice to have a pile waiting for you so you can look forward to a new one… and it’s nice to have a couple to choose from, depending on your mood. At least, this is how I am justifying buying my husband YET ANOTHER puzzle. This Ravensburger puzzle has a mystery-solving element that sounds fun – but which also sounds different from the (very fun) mystery-solving element of the Magic Puzzle Company puzzles (which my husband loves). 

image from amazon.com

Bike Computer: Since my husband got me such an extravagant gift for Mother’s Day, I feel sort of compelled to return the favor. And I think he might enjoy being able to track his speed and distance when we go biking. This Garmin bike computer looks like it tracks all sorts of fun data.

image from amazon.com

Speed and Cadence Monitor: Or maybe he would prefer these speed and cadence monitors instead. Still plenty of data he can nerd out to.

image from amazon.com

Breakfast Sandwich Maker: I keep going back and forth on this one. On the one hand, my husband said recently that we absolutely do not need another kitchen appliance. On the other hand, he really likes to make himself breakfast sandwiches on the weekend, and this breakfast sandwich maker would do ALL the work for him.

image from amazon.com

Pajamas: My husband loves his loungewear, and he could use another pair of pajama pants. I wonder if he would like this full pajama set. Then again, he just got me a set of pajamas for Mother’s Day, so I don’t want to seem like I am copying him.

image from Nordstrom.com

Exercise Shirt: Every time we go to the sporting goods store lately, my husband wanders over to the section of exercise clothes. He’s really gotten into working out recently, and I can’t decide if getting him an exercise shirt would reinforce that hobby or give him the impression that I think he SHOULD be working out. Seems dicey.

image from amazon.com

Coffee Equipment: My husband is a coffee connoisseur and therefore already has ALL the coffee equipment in the world. Chemex pour over coffee maker? Yes. Moccamaster drip coffee machine? Yeppers. Burr coffee grinder? Of course. But he doesn’t have this Vietnamese coffee maker, so I am definitely getting it for him. How are any of these different from anything else? I have no idea. 

image from nguyencoffeesupply.com

Books: My husband has ENOUGH books, but my father and father-in-law are both avid readers. Here are two recent releases that I’m considering for them: Sleepwalk by Dan Chaon and City on Fire by Don Winslow.

Baseball Stadium Map Glasses: While I’m not 100% sold on getting these beer steins with maps of iconic MLB stadiums, I do think it would be a really fun gift for a baseball fan. 

image from uncommongoods.com

Contour Gauge Tool: My father is a tool fanatic, and I think he would really enjoy this measuring tool that adjusts itself to the contours of the item being measured. Just watching the marketing video that accompanies the listing made ME want it. 

image from amazon.com

Radiohead T-Shirt: It’s been 25 years since OK Computer was released. For those of us who find that album to be both seminal and iconic, this t-shirt would be a really fun gift. 

image from amazon.com

Matching Kid/Dad Socks: While my husband does NOT need any more socks (Carla, recently, after pairing and putting a bunch of her father’s socks away in his drawer: “WOW, Dad has TOO MANY socks.”), the matching-socks-for-kids-and-dad gift is one that he and Carla have both LOVED in the past. I think they have three pairs of matching socks, and they find it so fun and hilarious to wear matching socks. If you have a kid of the age to find this wonderfully fun, I highly recommend it.

image from amazon.com

Digital Air Compressor: I got this portable car tire inflator for my husband this past Christmas; his car perennially has low air pressure in its tires and he was sick of stopping at the gas station all the time. (He tells me he hasn’t had a single instance of low tire pressure since receiving this gift.) I thought it was kind of a boring, practical gift, but my husband loved it.

image from amazon.com

Jokes Book: Another Christmas gift I am re-upping for Father’s Day is this book of dad jokes. My husband got a big kick out of it, and our daughter LOVES it. 

image from amazon.com

Unique Game: I got DropMix for my husband last Father’s Day and it has been a big hit. It’s a game that allows you to mix your own songs, based on a bunch of musical elements that play when you add cards to different sections of the game board. It is really fun, good for the whole family, and is technologically fascinating.

image from amazon.com

Candy Tasting Box: One of the best gifts I’ve ever given is this boutique tasting box from Sugarfina. SO FUN, like a little Father’s Day Advent calendar. But this three-piece Bento box would be fun, too.

image from sugarfina.com

What are you getting for the fathers in your life this Father’s Day?

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When I was a kid, my mom always did Easter baskets for us. I remember the green plastic grass. I remember a few jelly beans nestled in the bottoms of the baskets. I remember often receiving a white chocolate bunny, because my kind, thoughtful mother remembered that I didn’t like chocolate but still wanted me to have a bunny. (I have never liked white chocolate, either, but back then there weren’t all the options we have now. Plus, we didn’t have a Target or a Walmart in my hometown, and Amazon hadn’t yet been invented, so she was really limited to what she could buy in the grocery store. This makes it sound like I grew up one hundred years ago, doesn’t it?) The only other thing that I got reliably each Easter was a beautiful Easter dress. 

Oh, how I loved those Easter dresses! They invariably came in soft pastels – frothy milkshake pink, pale robin’s egg blue, duckling fluff yellow. They were always twirly, and often had things like petticoats and lace. I felt SO fancy when I went to church with my family. 

We don’t really DO Easter, these days. We don’t go to church (and I find myself growing fuzzy on the Easter Story details, which I should really brush up on). We do dye eggs, for Carla’s benefit, and we do buy candy. The Easter bunny still visits, which means we still hunt for eggs.

I think we have mainly stopped buying Carla Easter dresses – although I loved getting her fancy frocks when she was teeny. This year, she gets a Passover dress because we have been invited to a seder at a friend’s house.

image from carters.com

And we do Easter baskets. With the green plastic grass. I don’t put jelly beans in the grass though – a) I really dislike jelly beans, which is immaterial but needs to be stated, b) they tend to get lost in the grass year over year, which I find gross. To me, the only thing less appealing than a jelly bean is a stale jelly bean that may be five years old. 

We usually get Carla a chocolate bunny of some sort, and then a few other little candies. I don’t really like chocolate, but I DO like Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, which are not only the best Easter candy, but are by far the best iteration of the peanut butter cup. There is something about the specific ratio of chocolate to peanut butter that I find irresistible. 

image from target.com

I also like Sour Patch Kids, bunny-shape pleasant for the holiday but not necessary: 

image from target.com

And this year I asked my husband to include some cinnamon bears if he could find them. (He is doing the candy shopping this year, bless his heart.) 

image from target.com

My husband also likes Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. And the confusingly named Reese’s Pieces Eggs, which are VERY DIFFERENT and also I hate them. I would put Reese’s Pieces of any kind right down there with black licorice and jelly beans and those weird styrofoamy circus peanut candies. But to each his own! We are still able to enjoy a happy marriage despite our opposite feelings on the subject.

image from target.com

He will also enjoy some Cadbury Mini Eggs in his basket. 

image from target.com

For Carla, we also get an assortment of whatever candy she might like, which is ALL candy, honestly. But I also usually get her a few little things that aren’t candy. Often, I do socks or underpants, but we recently replenished both of those staples so I was able to focus on less practical and more FUN little gifties.

Some spring-y stick-on or clip-on earrings, like these darling bunnies:

image from amazon.com

Some books. She has been a huge fan of the Magic Bunny series, but she has all the books. So this year I ordered her the first of the Lucky Bunnies series. This appeals to me because bunnies are Easter-y. (I mean, secular Easter-y.)

image from amazon.com

I found this silly LEGO bunny in the dollar section at Target (although it was NOT a dollar):

image from target.com

Carla (and her father, honestly) are obsessed with these Extreme Dot-to-Dot books, so I ordered her another one:

image from amazon.com

This triceratops taco holder has nothing to do with Easter, secular or otherwise, but Carla is still really into dinosaurs (and tacos), and I think it will be a fun Easter basket filler:

Image from amazon.com

I’m not putting it in an Easter basket, but I did order myself some sunless tanner (I know I read about it on someone’s blog – let me know if it was yours!). Sunless tanner is one of those things I am VERY attracted to, despite the fact that they rarely work as promised and almost always smell nauseatingly chemical-y. I will let you know how this one works out.

image from amazon.com

And I ordered myself an Easter dress as well. It fits well enough, but I’m not 100% sure I love it enough to keep it. The model in the photo seems pretty young, but I can’t tell if the dress reads more Mother of the Bride in person. In case you aren’t sure, that’s not the look I’m going for. I would prefer Stylish And Springy Without Trying Too Hard.

image from Nordstrom.com

I also plan to buy myself some more irises this week. They are my all-time favorite flower, closely followed by tulips. I spotted some last week for $6 a bundle and paired them with a bunch of yellow tulips and the arrangement made me SO happy all week long. 

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We have houseguests for a few more days, so I am trying to think of things that my husband and I like, that are keto-friendly (or keto-adjacent), that aren’t wildly fussy, that don’t include any of the things my relatives are allergic to, and that are tasty. At least, tasty-ish

Why is this hard?

Dinners for the Week of April 11-April 17

  • Asian Chicken Salad: I think I will make this with slow cooker teriyaki chicken breasts, because I can throw those in the crockpot in the morning and don’t have to worry about them. I will have lots of fun things people can add to the salad: cashews, snow peas, shredded carrots, red bell pepper, crunchy chow mein noodles, mandarin oranges, scallions, tomatoes. But I feel like I should have something else on the side… just not sure WHAT. 
  • Slow Cooker Beef Stew: Let’s divert our attention away from chicken and toward beef, perhaps. This sounds good, plus I can make it in the slow cooker which I much prefer when I have guests. I am assuming there will be salad leftover to eat as a side. It is a bit hearty for APRIL, but then again, it is wet and raw outside so perhaps it is perfect.

Okay, beyond that we will do takeout, takeout, and more takeout. 

Yes, I know there is a holiday weekend looming. My relatives should be gone by then, which means that I don’t have to think too much about what to make. Plus, we have been invited to a Passover Seder, so there’s one night sorted. For Easter… I have no idea what to make. The only thing that sounds remotely appealing are these Lemon Cream Meringues, but that’s not really a dinner per se.

This parmesan crusted salmon sounds delicious… but my husband doesn’t love salmon. Maybe a beef tenderloin, possibly with this strawberry salad on the side?

If you are celebrating Passover or Easter this weekend (or both), what are you planning to eat?

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Here is where I am at the end of 2021: down, down, down.

After a year of prolific reading, I find myself unable to lose myself in a book. My comforting morning ritual of drinking tea has deserted me. Carla is about to embark on another round of remote learning – this time, with unknown duration (could be five days! could be more!). Christmas, instead of being a cheery time of fun gifts and family togetherness, was utterly draining. I have been summoned for jury duty; I was able to postpone it, due to remote learning, which is good, but now I have MONTHS to fret about the logistical nightmare of the whole thing, not to mention the idea of being in the giant jury room with dozens of other humans who may or may not be masked or vaccinated. And I am sunk deeper into a pit of self-doubt and -castigation than I ever have been before.

It’s wishful thinking to imagine that a year that held a lot of great things would end on a high note. And it’s naïve to think that a simple shift of the calendar will resolve any of these things. So here is where I am.

There are good things, too, of course. It was lovely to see my parents over Christmas. My husband’s call schedule was light toward the end, so our Christmas festivities were hardly disrupted. He is on vacation this week, so he and Carla and I have been having a quiet, pleasant time doing quiet, homey things like cleaning the basement, playing video games, and eating junk. We got a TON of holiday cards. (I think our card wall looks much fuller than in previous years, but my husband says he thinks we get this many cards every year.) (We received about 45 cards this year, so maybe next year I will remember to count.) While it seems as though everyone in the world currently has Covid, we have still, somehow, by pure luck, managed to avoid it. (SO FAR.) I am aware of my many blessings, I am. But that does not dispel the disconsolate fog that’s clouding everything at the moment.

Be assured that the remainder of this post will (likely) be less dismal. And, as always, I love to read your year-end recaps, so please let me know if you posted one as well.

(If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 202020192018201720162015201420132012201120102009. This yearly recap originated with Linda of All & Sundry.)

As usual, I reserve the right to delete ignore or scoff at any of the questions below.

  • What did you do in 2021 that you’d never done before?
    • Sent my manuscript out for beta reading.
    • Went on a paleontological dig.
    • Rejoiced as each new member of my family received a vaccine against Covid-19.
  • Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

As is my new tradition, I made some very loose aspirations for the year. Out of 19, I accomplished 10, which seems pretty decent, considering some of them were real reaches in terms of potential success.

  • Where did you travel this year? (This is my own recasting of a question I could never answer which was How many countries did you visit this year?)

This year, the only time I left the state was to visit my parents. My husband, daughter, and I also took a trip to a city on the opposite end of our state, which was nice but very hot and sticky. We have some travel planned for 2022, but who knows how that will turn out.

  • What would you like to have in 2022 that you lacked in 2021?

I mean, last year’s wish still holds true: A return to some sort of pre-pandemic normalcy, for myself and my country, and across the globe. More time alone with my husband. Dinner in a restaurant. The ability to travel without worrying about infection/infecting.

As long as we’re putting out our wishes, I would also like to have an agent in 2022. I know this is… a big ask. And will require a lot of work on my part. And will still probably not happen. And putting it out here makes me feel stupid and exposed. But it is what I want, more than anything unrelated to the pandemic, and I’m going to TRY.

  • What dates from 2021 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Moreso than even in 2020, I think, the days and weeks sort of ran together in 2021. Outside of January 6, I can’t remember a single specific date. A few key moments do stand out – like when I got my vaccinations and when Carla got hers – but I couldn’t tell you the dates.

  • What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting my manuscript out to beta readers.

  • What was your biggest failure?

I am not up to answering this one this year.

  • Did you suffer illness or injury?

No, thank goodness. My family and I have been so remarkably lucky during this pandemic.

  • What was the best thing you bought?

I’d say it’s a three-way tie between my new towels, our bicycles, and the artificial Christmas tree.

  • Whose behavior merited celebration?
  • Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
  • Where did most of your money go?
  • What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I was really excited about going to visit my parents with Carla (and really anxious). I was really excited that Carla got to attend summer camp and that she started third grade on time and made it until January without requiring remote schooling.

  • *Compared to this time last year, are you:
    • a) happier or sadder? 
    • b) thinner or fatter? 
    • c) richer or poorer? 
  • What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing (evergreen item). Exercising. Reading. Eating vegetables.

  • What do you wish you’d done less of?

Feeling sad. Eating my feelings. Wallowing in regret. Doomscrolling. 

  • How did you spend Christmas?

Christmas included the three of us, plus my parents and it was everything a Christmas should be. We have such thoughtful and generous friends and family members, and there were SO many gifts under the tree. We ate bacon and baked French toast and berries for breakfast and then my husband went into the hospital, but he was able to come home around two which wasn’t terrible. For dinner, my dad made his traditional spice roast, my mom made her traditional blueberry pie, I made goat cheese garlic mashed potatoes, and we all chipped in to make Caesar salad. Carla flitted from new toy to new toy and the adults watched football and cooked and ate and really, what more could you ask for?

  • Did you fall in love in 2021?
  • What was your favorite (new) TV program?

Instead of watching TV this year, I mostly chose to read. But that doesn’t mean I was completely cut off from television! My husband and I finally started watching Succession (and have just started Season 3) – we are OBSESSED with it, as everyone predicted. How can so many people be so completely and thoroughly awful? We also started watching Superstore, which is a very fun, 30-minute humorous diversion type of show. I also loved:

  • The Queen’s Gambit – Neither my husband nor I can remember if we watched this in 2020 or 2021. As he says, it was a long year. While I know nothing of chess, I did love this series about an orphan chess prodigy whose addictions threaten to keep her from achieving her ambition. It was a show where I kept expecting terrible things to happen to the protagonist… but the people who surrounded her were almost universally good, caring humans who wanted to lift her up and help her succeed.
  • Mare of Easttown – This is the show that inspired us to finally get HBO, and it was SO worth it. (Also, Succession.) Such a dark, gritty look at a detective who does everything to solve a case. Kate Winslet was stunning. And the heavy-handedness of the accents was quite amusing.
  • Only Murders in the Building – What a heartwarming little mystery series this was. Selena Gomez, Martin Short, and Steve Martin solving a murder in their luxury apartment building was every bit as goofy and fun as you would expect.
  • Maniac – A science-fiction series about grief and brokenness that took some very weird but always interesting turns. It reminded me a little bit of Palm Springs, so if you liked that movie I bet you would like this series. (I enjoyed the movie very much.)
  • Bodyguard – This was a heart-pounding thriller that stressed me out the way early seasons of 24 used to. It was really good, if you can stand that edge-of-your-seat, something-is-definitely-going-to-explode feeling. Also, it has nothing at all to do with the Whitney Houston film masterpiece of the early ’90s, in case you thought it was a serialized version of the movie as I did.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events – Carla has been listening to the audiobooks of this novel series, so we started watching the TV show as a family. It’s darling and fun, and I adore Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf.
  • *Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
  • What was the best book you read?

While I haven’t been able to read for most of this past month, which really, really stinks (it’s like being estranged from a dear friend), I had a very good reading year otherwise. In fact, I read 74 books this past year, which is a record for me. And so many of them were so good!!!!! 

  • A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne gets my top marks for this year. It was a beautifully crafted, incredibly chilling depiction of a would-be writer who will do absolutely anything to be successful. I loved the way the structure helped funnel the reader toward an ever-deeper, ever-more-sinister understanding of the main character.
  • The Great Alone was my first (and, so far, only) Kristin Hannah novel, and I loved it so much. The landscape, the isolation of small-town Alaska, the in-depth exploration of the dysfunction in one family were all so well done. I listened to this while out walking, often with tears streaming down my face.
  • Megha Majumdar’s debut A Burning was captivating and horrifying and gave a keen view of the inner-workings of life in Bombay and the lengths people go to achieve their ambitions.
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi was absolutely gorgeous – a series of linked short stories about two strands of a family separated by circumstance and slavery.
  • I finally read the second book in the romance duology by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, and The Heir Affair didn’t disappoint. It’s witty and charming, and the relationship and even the faux-royal setting feel real and relatable.
  • I loved Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir so much that I ended up listening to the audiobook a second time with my daughter. It was fun and exciting and at turns triumphant and devastating.
  • Anxious People by Fredrik Backman started a little slow for me, but turned out to be one of my favorites. The writing style, the juxtaposition of heartbreaking situations and the warmth of strangers, and the humor added up to a deeply satisfying novel.
  • Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro was at once so richly imagined and so startlingly spare in details that it stands out as unique among my reads this year. Themes of ambition and companionship, and the role material “things” have in our lives were explored with the fresh, simplistic-but-insightful eyes of the titular AI. It was gorgeous and left me wanting more.
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is a book that I found emotionally wracking, but also very hopeful and so well-written/well-characterized that I continue to think of it long after the fact.
  • Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes was such a satisfying and well-written romance. As a person who typically eschews romance novels, I was surprised by how much I loved this story about a relationship that grows between two people who are broken in very different ways.

You know my favorite genre is mystery/thriller, and I read some GREAT ones this year.  

  • Sophie Hannah’s Haven’t They Grown (published as Perfect Little Children in the U.S., which doesn’t seem quite as apt a title) was a close second. She comes up with the most bizarre and fascinating premises (in this one, the protagonist sees a former friend and her two children after many years apart – but the children have not aged a day) and I just love how she unravels a mystery and makes the explanation seem both surprising and inevitable.
  • The third Cat Kinsella mystery, Shed No Tears, by Caz Frear was another favorite. I just love tough, witty, personally-ethical-yet-morally-compromised Cat Kinsella as a character.
  • The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz was really enjoyable, too, although again more for the writing and the slow realization of the main character coming to understand his situation.
  • I loved Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club and, even more, its sequel, The Man Who Died Twice. The septuagenarian detectives and their relationships and struggles were lovely and charming and the books are packed with humor, puzzles, and heartbreak in equal measure. I cannot wait for the third installment.
  • What did you want and get?

Part of last year’s answer is true once again: For my family and friends to be safe and healthy this year. So far, so good. We are very, very lucky.

I am also so very glad that the vaccine was approved for kids Carla’s age, so I wanted for all my loved ones to get vaccinated and that has happened. Well. I don’t know that my niece has been vaccinated, but everyone else has.

  • What did you want and not get?

Well, last year’s answer still suffices: A refrigerator that doesn’t leak mysteriously and incessantly. New windows. Unity around a workable, scientifically-backed virus containment strategy. 

Things did NOT get back to “normal.” That was not unexpected and yet still deeply, powerfully disappointing. Disheartening. Dispiriting. Gutting.

  • What was your favorite film of this year?

Did I watch any movies this year? I can’t remember a single one, except Encanto, which we watched over the Christmas weekend, and which was very charming.

Oh, right – my husband reminded me that we watched Dune, which I was resistant to and ended up really enjoying. (Although I am annoyed that it was only PART of the story.)

  • What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
  • What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A coordinated, followed-by-everyone plan for enduring the latest stages of the pandemic. Finalizing revisions on my manuscript.

  • How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2021?

As in 2020, my fashion choices were all about comfort. Soft bras, soft pants, soft shorts, no makeup, no shoes. Let’s exchange our pajamas for some Daytime Leggings and then switch back in a few hours. That kind of thing. I did go out more. Not like out out, but out in the world, so I ended up buying a few pairs of new jeans. Two of those pairs are in the supposedly-once-again-fashionable straight leg/bootcut style and I kind of hate them, even though I loved that style when it was previously fashionable and resisted skinny jeans for years.

  • What kept you sane?

My husband. Exercise. My terrible, wonderful, unputdownable phone. Books and audiobooks. Carbs. Wine. Reading your blog posts. Long walks. Takeout. Writing here.

  • Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
  • Who did you miss?

My first and perpetual answer to this question will always be my friend who died. But in 2021, I don’t think I spent a lot of time missing anyone else. As an introvert, the forced isolation of the pandemic wasn’t particularly difficult on me, and I think the increased human interaction we’ve been inching toward this year was perfectly fine. Plus, we got to see both sets of parents AND my sister-in-law and niece, so I didn’t feel separated from my family. We are so very, very lucky.

  • Who was the best new person you met?

I cannot think of a single new person I met this past year.

  • Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021.

The only current “lesson” that I can come up with – the worst things you think about yourself are true, and other people think them too – is a direct reflection of my current mood, which hopefully is not a reflection of reality. So let’s go with last year’s slightly more uplifting offering:

“Despite everything, there is SO MUCH to be grateful for. Even when the big things are uncertain and scary and sad, there are plenty of tiny, wonderful joys to be counted and held up for inspection and treasured. I have made a point to consider all the blessings in my life this year – sometimes just FORCING myself to be grateful dammit – and I feel more aware of them, and of how full my life is even when it seems otherwise. I hope among all the wreckage of this year that you, too, have found some kernel of gratitude. Not because you SHOULD, but because it helps to have even a small glimmer of light to walk toward when everything seems so unbearably dark.”

  • Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“Go easy on me.” – Adele

Happy New Year, Internet. May 2022 bring us all happiness and health.

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I am sitting in my living room with a lovely view of the Christmas tree, lights glowing softly in the morning dim, and I am still feeling distinctly grinchy. What is my DEAL. We could easily blame my lack of spirit on the fact that I have to go to Costco today, the week before Christmas, because I have somehow allowed our toilet paper and paper towel supplies to dwindle to dangerous levels. Or perhaps we could point to the fact that my daughter’s school just informed us that winter vacation will begin a day early, so agitated are they about rising numbers of Covid cases in the system. And, worse, that the kids will be coming home with devices just in case we cannot return in January as planned, and need to remain remote for a while. Cue wailing and rending of garments. Of course of course I am glad that Carla’s school continues to take this pandemic so seriously. Of course I would rather keep her home than expose her unnecessarily. Of course I want to be a good community member. Of course we will be fine if we need to do a few days or weeks of remote learning. But. Anguished scream.  

However, even before this very unwelcome announcement from the school administration, I had been feeling distinctly dispirited.  Christmas music irritates me, unless it is a very specific and somehow highly elusive style of old-fashioned instrumental Christmas carols. I have wrapped maybe a dozen presents and am already SICK OF IT. I tried to read two separate Christmas books, both which came highly recommended by people I trust, and neither of them were a good fit for my reading style/current mood. We have NO SNOW, just wind, wind, and more wind. We finally put up the tree and the Christmas decorations, and somehow even they seem lackluster, even though they are the exact same decorations I put out every year.

I feel a certain level of frustration (with myself) over this lack of holiday spirit. Also, woe. I LOVE Christmastime, and I feel it slipping away from me, and I’m concerned that this is the last Christmas that will be Magical for Carla, which makes me want to swaddle myself in Holiday Joy that is on a high, dark shelf somewhere I cannot reach. Fretting about it does not help, of course; I cannot GUILT-TRIP Christmas spirit upon myself. I thought I could coax it to me with gentleness and patience, like getting a skittish cat to come up from under the couch, but so far that hasn’t worked either.  

The only Coping Thought that is working for me (currently) is that Christmas Spirit isn’t MANDATORY. There’s no law. I have done my best to do the things that will make Christmas happy for my loved ones and I can finish the last tasks I need to do but there is no law that I have to be cheery or feel awed by the season or cherish every moment. It’s disappointing, but trying to FORCE spirit upon myself is not working, so I am trying to let go. Maybe it will find me if I stop looking so hard.

In the meantime, here are a few utterly mundane updates on a variety of things. 

Christmas Tree Skirt: I ordered the Christmas tree skirt I loved from my recent post and it has since arrived. I like it even more in person than online. The fabric is kind of stiff and heavier than I anticipated, which I quite like; I don’t think presents are going to crumple it or displace it. (It did get some stubborn folds in it during shipping, but I think time and gift gravity will smooth those out.) I LOVE the red version, but I kind of wish I had the burlap one, too. Maybe someday I will be the type of person with two trees and I can get the burlap one as well.

Holiday To-Do List: Just two weeks ago, I was in a bit of a panic over all I had yet to complete. Here is a list of what I had yet to do:

I can make a nice tidy list of things we have yet to complete:

Address and mail holiday cards

Finalize purchases for Carla’s “rilly big box full of all craft stuf”

Wrap and mail gifts for sister-in-law and niece

Mail caramels to my brother and sister-in-law whenever they get here

Buy the final gift for my mother

Buy the final gift for my father

Buy all gifts for my mother-in-law

Buy all gifts for my father-in-law (including birthday gifts)

Buy all gifts for my aunt-in-law

And now, I have completed every single item on that list. Plus, I have wraps all the gifts and packed them in boxes and put them in the mail. All that’s left is to wrap gifts for my family (and on behalf of Santa). A good reminder that there is usually plenty of time to do what needs to be done. Also that panicking publicly on one’s blog is quite useful for stimulating action.

Box Office Breakdown: When last I showed you a photo of my office, it was cram-jammed with boxes. I was saving the boxes so that I had The Perfect Size for the gifts I needed to send to relatives. This was kind of ridiculous, considering I only needed four boxes. But they are gone now! Broken down (by my husband!!!) and recycled! 

My office is usable once again. Hooray!

Coffee Experiment: I ended my experimentation with drinking coffee after two days of drinking coffee. Coffee is not for me. Instead, I have been making matcha lattes with occasional forays into Christmas tea, which is a very gentle, fragrant way to enable the Christmas spirit to enter my soul should it choose to. 

I just ordered a box of Stash Christmas in Paris tea to try in addition to the Twinings. “Luxurious chocolatey flavor paired with lavender and mint”? Yes, please!

Anniversary Dinner: My husband and I decided that we just weren’t comfortable eating in a restaurant quite yet, so we got “fancy takeout” (this means I ordered short ribs and my husband ordered chicken Milanese and we also each got an appetizer, instead of getting our usual pizza/Indian food/Thai food takeout) and took it back to our house where we watched football while Carla was at a birthday party. It was a surprisingly fun, lovely way to spend our anniversary. Plus, we got (“got”) to wait in the lobby of the restaurant for a few minutes while the kitchen prepared our order, and observed all the unmasked people coming in to dine there, and listened to how snarky and unpleasant the three (three!) hostesses were, and witnessed a disgruntled diner gripe to one of the hostesses about how he’d been waiting at a table for fifteen minutes and no one had come to serve him yet, even though someone had waited on a table that was just seated. It gave me just enough taste of Being In A Restaurant to realize that I have no desire to be in a restaurant perhaps ever again. 

Also, I got flowers!!! (And chocolates. They are both from my mother-in-law, but that doesn’t dampen their beauty.)

Dog Gifting: Carla would like to make special holiday treats for all her neighborhood dog friends. I have googled “homemade dog treats” several times, which turns up lots of recipes, many of which include peanut butter. But then some websites say that dogs can be allergic to peanut butter. Or gluten. I feel like we would KNOW if any of the dogs on our gift list had special needs. That seems like the kind of information that comes up, when you are a dog person. Right? But maybe not? I don’t know. My best guess is that we should just pick a recipe, make it, distribute the dog treats, and then the owners will decide if they want to feed it to their dogs or throw them away. It definitely seems like the perfect “It’s the thought that counts” kind of situation. But I don’t know! I’m not a dog owner!

If you are a dog owner/expert, would you allow your dog to eat a treat containing peanut butter? Perhaps I should stick to a different “flavoring.” But the other flavors include things like banana and sweet potato. Do dogs like bananas and sweet potatoes? Am I overthinking this? I am overthinking this. 

Awkwardness: Thank you for your support and kindness in response to my post about being the most awkward human on the planet. I am mostly over it. I have since spoken to several of the moms involved in my big foot-in-mouth incident the other day, and they seemed friendly and normal and the subject never even came up. 

What are you up to, this last weekend before Christmas? If you also have to brave Costco, you have my solidarity and sympathy.

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Well, it looks like I will do anything to procrastinate doing actual tasks that I actually need to complete: folding laundry, making a meal plan for the week, wrapping presents, cleaning the menorah.

But right now my procrastination is manifesting in an Urgent Need for a tree skirt, so I am dragging you along with me. 

(I can afford to procrastinate a little, I think, because we were very productive this weekend and some of the Christmas panic has been assuaged. ALL gifts have been ordered. My niece’s and sister-in-law’s gifts have been wrapped, boxed, and mailed. The caramels arrived and are ready to be tucked in with other gifts and mailed to family. I procured some wintry stamps for my holiday cards (otters playing in the snow!). My husband inexplicably printed out only one sheet of address labels for our holiday cards [EDITED TO ADD: there was a printer issue! the printer refused to print any more labels after the first sheet] but I have stuffed, stamped, addressed and sealed all the cards going to those addresses. Plus, I made long-overdue hair appointments for myself and Carla, which was another thing to cross off the list.)

This is a glimpse of my kitchen table right now. Cards and caramels! What could be better?

(Now that I mentioned the haircuts, I have a question/fret: I will take a card with a cash gift in it to my hairdresser, but what do I do for the person cutting Carla’s hair? I *think* but do not know for sure that it’s a hairdresser I’ve used before, but maybe it is a brand new person? I should just bring a cash gift to her either way, right? This reminds me that I need to make a hair appointment for my husband and remind him to take a gift to his hairdresser as well.) 

Okay, back to the Christmas tree skirting issue. 

One of the things I have loved about living in this house is that we have room for a real live Christmas tree. We always had a live tree when I was growing up, so there’s some nostalgia involved. But I also love the piney smell, and I love walking up and down aisles of trees with my husband and daughter, looking for the exact right tree to welcome into our home. 

Of course, there are disadvantages to a live tree. Pine needles everywhere is the big one. Having to remember to water the thing every day is another. And I am constantly worried about fire; I am guessing that Christmas tree fires occur when a tree is put too close to a heat source, or when it’s underwatered and the lights are left on overnight, or other reasons I am not considering. I assume that they don’t randomly burst into flames. Yet it is one of my big sources of anxiety at Christmastime, and when January arrives I am VERY EAGER to get that bundle of tinder out of my house and onto the curb.

For my husband, live Christmas trees come with two major pain points: 1. Wrestling the tree into the stand, which is primarily his job; I help, but not a lot. 2. Putting on the Christmas lights. For some reason, he hates the adding of the Christmas lights with a fiery passion. I have tried to remove this task from his responsibility, and I am SURE that I have dressed the tree in lights by myself for the past several years. But I do it in a more haphazard way than he does (he is METHODICAL and NEAT) and that makes him grumpy, and it makes me grumpy to try to do something to alleviate pain for someone and to have that someone tell me I’m doing it wrong. 

So for the past few years, we have been strongly considering getting an artificial tree instead. This has been my husband’s thing; despite the shortcomings, I prefer a live tree. And I have been agreeable about getting an artificial tree, but have taken a bystander role in the process. And year after year, the sales bypass us, and we get a live tree instead. 

NOT THIS YEAR.

This year, we bought an artificial tree. It was… very expensive. One of my demands, should we get an artificial tree, was that it look as real as possible. So we got a pricey version that claims to be very realistic. One of my husband’s demands was that it come pre-lit, so we got that feature as well. 

We got it on a good sale, at least compared to its listed “everyday” price, but it was still… much more than I care to spend on anything, especially something I don’t want. But we are also paying for decreased grumpiness. I hope. I can imagine that setting up the thing will come with its own gripes and grumbles. 

My other demand was that we spring for a new Christmas tree skirt. No way are we going to have an unclothed Christmas tree, flaunting its naked stand for all the world to see. The old skirt was a circle of red felt that cost maybe $5 at Target a decade or so ago. Over the years, it had gotten very pilly and the Velcro clasps no longer worked quite as well. It was very good at catching excess pine needles and that’s the most I can say for it. 

So I am on the hunt for a new Christmas tree skirt, and I am humbled by both the multitude of options available to me and by the wide range of pricing options. I want a tree skirt I like, but – let’s be frank – a tree skirt’s duty is to provide a cushy little bed for gifts and to disguise the ugly base of the tree. It doesn’t NEED to be anything special. But it should be more special than circle of felt.(Spending $200+ on a tree skirt, which you absolutely CAN DO, is a Startling Expense TM Swistle for me.) 

I love this one from Target – I am partial to navy as a color. But… the rest of the Christmas décor is mainly red and white, so it seems a mismatch. And while I am tempted to re-do the entire décor theme to match, I am not so tempted as to actually expend the time/money required to make that a reality. While we are citing this skirt’s negatives, it is $45, which seems quite pricey for something that will be invisible for most of its work life. Also, it is made of linen, which makes me concerned it might require ironing, and I DO NOT IRON.

image from target.com

This burlap skirt with snowflakes seems much better, price-wise ($15.99 as of this writing). It’s simple and unobjectionable. It doesn’t make my heart sing, or anything, but how much work are we expecting a tree skirt to do?

image from amazon.com

Oh, this one with little reindeer around the perimeter is giving me a little happy jolt. It’s a little bit more — $22.99 as of this writing – but it’s very charming. And I could do the plain burlap or there’s a version with the field in red as well. Both are so cute and I love the little reindeer.

image from amazon.com

This red one with snowflakes is quite nice. And the description claims that it’s double layered and “durable.” Plus, boasts the description, “Easy to use, no need tedious operation, install in a minute.” Are other tree skirts… difficult to use?

image from amazon.com

I find this plaid skirt quite appealing. Although the white trim makes me a little nervous. Though… if we no longer have to worry about watering the tree or dealing with pine needle shed, maybe it won’t get as dirty as I’m envisioning? I am also wishing that Target would get on board with photographing the tree skirt in action.

image from target.com

Also pleasing, and also with worrisome white trim, is this version that says Merry Christmas. I like the way  it looks… but I don’t know if I like the words. And some of the close-up photos make it look like it could be too similar to my old red felt. 

image from amazon.com

I rather like this knitted tree skirt – the material looks a little more elegant than the felt, and I do like the reindeer. But it does say “Christmas” on it; not merry Christmas, just “Christmas,” which is a little joyless. Wait. Am I to read it as “deery Christmas”? I don’t know.

image from amazon.com

This quilted tree skirt is very simple and very lovely and I like the deep almost burgundy of the red, but oh dear – it looks like the smallest costs $79; that, I think, is above my personal tree-skirt spending limit.

image from balsamhill.com

Did you know there was such a thing as a tree collar? I did not, until I began this search. This burlap version is very simple and clean. Do I like the tassels? I don’t know. Why are they yellow? 

image from amazon.com

Oh! This red-with-reindeer tree collar is very festive! 

image from amazon.com

I very much like the look of this woven tree collar. But I do not care for the price. 

image from balsamhill.com

This wooden tree collar is very charming – I like it the best, I think – but it’s nearly $90 and it’s a lie, so I’m not going to be getting it for my particular tree.

image from amazon.com

I like this red metal tree collar quite a lot, and it’s currently on sale for an amount I could possibly be persuaded to spend ($51.50 down from $69). Something to think about, perhaps until the sale ends and it falls more firmly into the realm of “too expensive.”

image from potterybarn.com

I am also wondering if one needs a tree skirt in addition to a tree collar… in which case, I’ll stick with the tree skirt alone, thank you. 

After adding photos to this post, I went and put the burlap-with-reindeer tree skirt, as well as the same one but in red, in my amazon cart. It just gives me a happy little flutter! I will run it past my husband, make sure he doesn’t hate it, but I think it’s the one!!! All that’s left is to decide between burlap and red.

If you have a Christmas tree, what, if anything, do you do in terms of tree skirting?

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The grocery store was a madhouse this morning. Not unexpected, I suppose, considering it is the week of Thanksgiving here in the U.S. But still… I guess I hoped that it wouldn’t be too wild at 8:00 am. Oh well. I emerged unscathed (except for my checking account; hot turkey leg food is EXPENSIVE).

Iceberg lettuce, I am sure you will be relieved to hear, was on sale for $2.50 a head. (Sarcasm font.) Pancakes, of any size, are still completely absent from the frozen section – I need to see an in-depth investigative report on WHY frozen pancakes are a) so much hotter a commodity these days than in The Time Before, and b) so difficult to replenish/keep on the shelves. I read somewhere – oh yes; I googled what in the sizzling griddle is going on with pancakes, and found a tweet by some other miffed mother wanting some pancake clarity. The Eggo twitter account responded, which is kind of cool… but their response was both vague and unsatisfying:

Seriously. WHAT IS GOING ON WITH FROZEN PANCAKES. My grocery store doesn’t even have space for pancakes anymore. It’s not like there is a big gaping pancake hole indicating where the few boxes of pancakes had been before they were snatched immediately off the shelves by lucky pancake hunters… Instead, the waffle selection has swollen to disproportionate sizes, making it seem as though there were never any pancakes at all. When things like lunchables and pasta and flour were hard to come by, there was still space for them on the shelves. So I feel like there just are no pancakes. (I suppose my grocery store could just have gotten really adept at filling shelf gaps, to create the illusion of well-stocked shelves… but there was NO MAPLE SYRUP today, and where they should have been on the shelf was just a gaping nothingness, so…) I am assuming, based on absolutely no data at all, that pancake machinery is being used to support some other in-demand food stuff… but I can’t for the life of me think what it is. Or maybe Big Waffle is trying to eradicate pancakes from the planet. Whatever is going on, the pancake supply chain seems to have completely collapsed, at least in my area.

You may have surmised, based on the frenetic tone of the above, that I am still in the midst of my coffee experiment. Even though I am a regular drinker of both black tea and caffeinated soda, and even though I never notice an appreciable difference in personal caffeination (although if I skip my tea, I do get a headache, so obviously the caffeine is doing something), I feel like coffee is different. It’s like an injection of liquid energy, except not the kind of energy I can direct toward productive things like exercise or work; it’s more like squirrel energy, where my movements become rapid and jerky and I get easily distracted by acorns.

My husband, a legit coffee connoisseur, made me some of his good coffee this morning. He did so yesterday as well. (Saturday, and there is no reason for me to tell you this, but, squirrel, he slept in because he was coming off 12 straight days of work plus he was recovering from his Covid booster, so I drank my regular tea.) He grinds his own beans and has some sort of special drip coffee maker and I am supposed to believe that these things make the coffee much smoother. It is certainly much less bitter/nauseating than the pre-ground pumpkin coffee I drank last week when I began this experiment, but I am still suspicious. Coffee is coffee, right? I do find that I absolutely need to eat something before/during the coffee drinking, otherwise I feel very queasy indeed. This morning, I had a slice of apple cider donut blondie that my husband and daughter made yesterday. It is very tasty, but I have to warn you: it tastes NOTHING of apple cider. Which is deeply disappointing, because my husband had to reduce the apple cider by half and it took close to an hour to do so. Apple cider appearance or no, these blondies are soft and crumbly on the inside and crunchy around the edges and go very nicely with coffee. However, this may prove to be too much sugar for my stomach to handle in tandem with the squirrel surge of caffeine.

I apparently drink coffee much darker than I do tea.

Hey! This week is Thanksgiving, at least at my house, and I am looking forward to a very low-key day with just the three of us. I am making a turkey breast (America’s Test Kitchen recipe) (although I bought a couple of wing pieces to help enhance the drippings for the gravy), and my mother’s goat-cheese-garlic-mashed potatoes, and mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows for my daughter, and cranberry sauce, and apple crisp. It still sounds like a lot of food and cooking, but I don’t have to make dressing (my husband agreed to let me buy it, pre-made, from Whole Foods, where we are getting our turkey breast), and we can sit around in our pajamas all day if we want and I feel like this is going to be a nice break before the crush of the Christmas holiday.

(By the way, in searching for my Thanksgiving recipes, I came across last year’s post about Thanksgiving. And I have ZERO RECOLLECTION OF ANY OF IT. Apparently we didn’t do cranberry sauce or dressing last year, either? Apparently we did a family Zoom? Apparently we made something called an apple sharlotka? NO MEMORY OF ANY OF IT.)

Hanukkah begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I am dithering over whether to make sufganiyot again. I really liked them, and it was fun to share them with our neighbor. But they really are best when fresh out of the fryer, so I don’t know if it’s worth doing again. Carla expressed interest in making some cookies, so maybe I will look into that. And maybe we will save a Hanukkah baking project for the end of Hanukkah instead of the beginning.

Dinners for the Week of November 22-November 28

What are you most looking forward to eating this week? If you celebrate Thanksgiving, what will your celebration look like this year? And do YOU remember last year’s Thanksgiving? Why has it been erased so thoroughly from my brain? Is there some sort of insidious black hole that is devouring pancakes and memories?

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Shall we do another little shopping browse?

One of my favorite parts of shopping for Christmas is keeping an eye out for fun stocking stuffers. And I admit that I look out for stocking stuffers for myself, in addition for stocking stuffers for the rest of the family. If I plan ahead, I can stave off my tendency to panic buy a bunch of junk at the last minute.

First up, of course, is the miniature office supplies set I told you about yesterday. This is going to make Carla so happy. I remember having a set of mini office supplies when I was a kid, and I adored them. The teensy stapler most of all. (photo from target.com)

While at Target, I added a trio of rainbow leopard hand masks to my cart. I am picturing me, Carla, and my mother sitting around on Christmas day in ridiculous rainbow leopard print gloves, our hands transforming through the magic of the masks’ deep hydration. It will be silly and fun and I couldn’t resist. (photo from target.com)

I also went into Ulta, which often has good stocking stuffers. I loaded up on 5-for-$5 bath treats for Carla and my niece. (photo from ulta.com)

In Ulta, I lingered over the display of Essie holiday nail polish colors, and resisted buying the Bahama Mama for myself. But there’s no need for YOU to resist. (photo from amazon.com)

The Essie polish was $8.99, and I found an almost identical color (Zip Wine) in the Sally Hanson InstaDri for $5.99, which is only $3 less but that seems like a Big Difference when it comes to nail varnish. (photo from amazon.com)

But THEN, I found this three-pack of mini Essie polishes, which includes Bahama Mama AND Marshmallow, which was another color I was dithering over buying, and a third metallic color called Gadget Free. This will be a perfect stocking stuffer for my mom. (photo from amazon.com)

(Full disclosure: I was also eyeing the Essie Off Tropic while in Ulta… and then bought it later at Target.) (photo from amazon.com)

(And, after writing this, I really really wish I’d gotten the Marshmallow. It’s such a gorgeous creamy near-white, just the way that a melted marshmallow looks. So I may need to ease that into my online shopping cart for my own stocking.) (photo from amazon.com)

Speaking of things that I might sneak into my amazon shopping cart, I am thinking Carla is just the right age to get a big kick out of an old school Slinky. (photo from amazon.com)

These makeup headbands are adorable – and maybe having one would encourage Carla to wash her face more regularly! I could send the others to my sisters-in-law. (photo from amazon.com)

I love this hair and body glitter set for anyone who needs a little shimmer in their lives. (photo from petitenpretty.com)

As usual, the men in my family are more difficult to shop for.

I am pretty sure I’ve considered this magnetic wristband in the past for my dad, but haven’t gone through with it. Maybe this is the year; I do think he’d get a lot of use out of it! (photo from amazon.com)

My dad might also appreciate these molds for filled chocolates, which he makes each year around Christmastime. (photo from amazon.com)

My husband would find many opportunities to use this digital tire gauge. But I can’t tell if it would a Fun Gadget type of gift, or a Super Lame Practical Gift. (photo from amazon.com)

He, as I mentioned, loves fun socks. And these ASDR socks might appeal to his music-production side. (photo from redbubble.com)

I also love these pink synth socks. (photo from redbubble.com)

And these socks, featuring a rainbow of video game controllers. (photo from redbubble.com)

Oh my gosh – or these happy colon socks!  (photo from redbubble.com)

Okay, three pairs of socks are now on their way to me!

I think he would enjoy this book of Dad Jokes. Sometimes when Carla and I are in the kitchen and my husband is still upstairs, he will send us dad jokes via our Echo. (photo from amazon.com)

Speaking of which: if you don’t have an Echo, this Echo Dot is only $19.99 right now. That’s on the top edge of stocking stuffer pricing for me. (photo from amazon.com)

Carla specifically requested an electric pencil sharpener for Christmas. Perfect stocking stuffer. So proud that she has inherited my tendency toward practicality! (photo from amazon.com)

The pencil sharpener makes me think of Carla’s desk vacuum, which is an ideal stocking stuffer size and price and which would bring many, many people joy. (photo from amazon.com)

My husband got an extreme dot-to-dot book for Carla’s stocking. It looks VERY STRESSFUL to me, but she shares his logical brain, so perhaps she will love it. (photo from mindware.com)

On the opposite end of the stress spectrum, I just came across these Pop It bracelets! This would be perfect for Carla, who loves Pop Its and jewelry! If you know a child in elementary school, you probably already know what a HUGE fad Pop Its are these days, but this is something I haven’t seen before. (photo from amazon.com)

I am pretty everyone in our family is getting a bag of Bequet Sea Salt Caramels. They are SO soft and buttery and delicious. (photo from bequetconfections.com)

Qwirkle Rummy is another family favorite that’s perfect for stocking stuffing. (photo from amazon.com)

Speaking of family favorites, who wouldn’t love a Wick Habit votive in their stocking? They come in such a wide variety of fun scents, and they all smell SO GOOD. (photo from etsy.com)

It might be fun to find a lovely prism in one’s stocking, like this crystal suncatcher from JkkGifts. Rainbows would be useful in chasing away the winter gloom that sometimes come with a post-holidays crash. (photo from etsy.com)

And, from The Prism Emporium, these mini star prisms – which stick to your window – would appeal to my daughter and my niece. (photo from etsy.com)

You likely already know I have a soft spot in my heart for miniature things, especially when they are useful in the kitchen. These mini spatulas would be perfect stocking stuffers for the cookers on my list. I have some and use them all the time. (photo from amazon.com)

I am also loving these mini serving tools. And such bright, fun colors! (photo from amazon.com)

I want this mini grater quite badly. I suspect it would do a better job grating ginger than my microplane does. (photo from amazon.com)

Thinking of miniature items reminds me of this mini rice cooker, which I bookmarked after Swistle mentioned seeing a pink one at HomeGoods recently. SWOON. Maybe it wouldn’t fit in a stocking – not to mention it’s a teensy bit more than I like to spend on stocking stuffers – but it is SO CUTE. (photo from amazon.com)

Tell me something you’re hoping to see in your stocking, if stockings are a thing you do.

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