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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas gifts’

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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It has been a lovely quiet Sunday and Carla has been busy crafting and my husband has been at the hospital. We finally ordered our holiday cards, and I have nothing to do (besides laundry, which I am ignoring) but fret about all the holiday gifts I have yet to buy. Won’t you join me in moseying through a big unwieldy list of ALL the possibilities that we can narrow down at some point in the VERY near future? (Reminder that I use affiliate links in the amazon products.)

This is one of the silliest and yet most adorably charming things ever: a sweater for your mug. From Etsy shop ValKnittingShop, these cup cozies come in all different colors. I cannot imagine buying this for myself, and yet I would be DELIGHTED if someone bought it for me. The perfect gift. (photo from etsy.com)

The eight-and-nine-year-old set are obsessed with Cat’s Cradle these days. If you have a child in that age range in your life, perhaps you need to find them a Cat’s Cradle. Carla informs me that rainbow is the most popular color for the string, but that solid colors are good too. (photo from amazon.com)

And if your Cat’s Cradle enthusiast is, like me, completely new to the world of string figures, then perhaps you need an instructional book to go along with the string. (photo from amazon.com)

Fidgets are, of course, very popular lately. If you or anyone in your life doesn’t yet have a Pop It, that would make for an excellent stocking stuffer. (photo from amazon.com)

This magnetic rings fidget looks like a good way to keep active hands busy. Plus, it’s not a Pop It, which is a big bonus in my opinion. (photo from amazon.com)

Carla is obsessed with these Mini Brands toys lately. I don’t fully understand it – well, I guess I see the appeal of teeny tiny items based on real products; I would have loved those as a kid. And I guess I see how manufacturers would love to start brand recognition among the very young – but we got a bunch of them for Carla to shove in her stocking. (photo from amazon.com)

Am I the only person without a ring light? Perhaps. But this is on my own holiday wish list, and perhaps you know someone in your own life who needs one as well. (photo from amazon.com)

For those who are botanically inclined, these little bird-shaped self-watering bulbs are perpetually in my Amazon cart. I think they are too frivolous to buy for myself… but I would love to get them as a gift. (photo from amazon.com)

Here’s a set that looks like colorful mushrooms. (photo from amazon.com)

Or this terra cotta hippo head would be adorable peeking out between the fronds of a fern. (photo from amazon.com)

Carla is still Very Into Dinosaurs, and also crafting. This paint-your-own-dinosaur kit is the ideal combo, if you know someone with similar fixations. (photo from amazon.com)

Along the same lines, this dinosaur soap making kit looks very fun. I think I mentioned that Carla’s grandmother bought her something like this, and they made soap favors for her birthday party guests. She loved it. (photo from amazon.com)

On the dinosaur front: These Spinosaurus teeth would become one of her most prized possessions, I’m sure of it. (photo from boneroom.com, which I did not know existed until I read the comments under one of Swistle’s recentish posts)

Carla specifically requested a pottery wheel. Yikes. I don’t know if that’s something my mess-aversion can accommodate, but I’m sure she would love it and make all sorts of beautiful sculptures. (photo from mindware.orientaltrading.com)

After visiting her grandparents over the summer, Carla has been really into tools. She persuaded us to buy her a pair of needle nose pliers and some wire cutters. Her grandfather made her a small tool set a few years ago with hammer and screwdriver… but I wonder if there’s something a little more comprehensive? This Junior Carpenter Set looks like what I have in mind, but alas I think it’s too young for Carla. (And I’m not quite ready to get her a REAL drill yet.) (photo from walmart.com)

I was looking for something on Etsy and one of the auto-fill search terms was “Lisa Frank shoes.” Obviously I clicked on that immediately, and then became almost breathless with longing for the resulting footwear, from the CuzShesCrafty shop. (photo from etsy.com)

Carla and one of her friends did a lot of jumping rope during playdates this summer, and it reminded me of how great jump roping is. This jump rope is budget friendly (some are $100 and up omg WHY) and would fit great into a stocking. (photo from amazon.com)

When it comes to candles, I am a WickHabit fan (though her candles last so long it’s been awhile since I’ve bought anything new!), but the SkiinTones Etsy shop has some very beautiful sculptural candles that I love. (photo from etsy.com)

We went to a friends’ house for an outdoor dinner recently, and they had a zipline in their yard. Obviously, that works only for families with the right tree setup, but man would it be a fun gift if you can make it work. We cannot, and I am coveting a zipline anyway. (photo from amazon.com)

Outdoor fun makes me think of sledding (it is snowing right now) and from last year’s extensive research, I believe that saucers are best. This one – am trying to ignore the giant L. L. Bean logo – looks sturdy. (photo from llbean.com)

While I was looking at gift ideas for Carla, I came across this fully-stocked dress-up purse. The purse is so cute and it comes with everything the contemporary kiddo needs to emulate grown-ups. I would have DIED to have this as a kid; I’m pretty sure Carla would too, although I think she may have outgrown it. Maybe my niece would like it? (photo from amazon.com)

She has definitely not outgrown her obsession with LEGO. We are strongly considering the Hogwarts Astronomy Tower for her big gift this year. (photo from target.com)

I think she’d get a kick out of this LEGO chain reactions kit, too. (photo from amazon.com)

Carla requested a few board games this year, and it’s fun to look through her suggestions (circled in catalogs – do you remember doing that as a kid? I do; I loved it. So many possibilities!) and see which ones would be good for our family. LineUp looks really cute and it’s a strong contender. (photo from amazon.com)

Cat Crimes also looks adorable and fun. (I will go to great lengths to avoid playing Candy Land.) (photo from amazon.com)

She also loves playing Linkee (which is a perennial favorite) and Trivial Pursuit with us, but the questions are often a little over her head. I would love to find a trivia game that we can all play together. (There’s a family edition of Trivial Pursuit, but the reviews stink. And at one point, it looks like there was a kids’ version of Linkee, but it looks like it’s not made anymore and the websites I’ve seen it on are unfamiliar to me.) (photo from amazon.com)

Oooh! Here is a new twist on Scattergories – a family favorite around here – that looks really fun: Scattergories Categories. (It was VERY difficult not to type “cattergories.”) (photo from amazon.com)

This cute cooperative game looks perfect for my niece. (photo from amazon.com)

If you are looking for a fun family game that’s a little unusual, we got this DropMix music game for my husband earlier this year and it’s a lot of fun. You get to mix and match different beats and instrumentals from familiar songs. We love it. I’m probably going to get my husband the rock music expansion pack for Christmas this year. (photo from amazon.com)

Speaking of my husband, I am wondering if he would like a pair of fancy sneakers? I have heard great things about Allbirds shoes, and they look very chic PLUS they are washable. (photo from allbirds.com)

For those on your list who like sweets/consumables, this pack of mini cupcakes from Baked by Melissa look amazing and fun. (photo from bakedbymelissa.com)

Ditto these indulgent cookie gifts from Big Fat Cookie. I am drooling. (photo from eatmebigfatcookie.com)

Speaking of sweets/consumables… I got my husband a boutique tasting box from Sugarfina for Father’s Day, and it was a huge hit. It was also the perfect amount of candy: four or five behind each little door. Sadly, it’s sold out, but its success makes me very amenable to trying out one of their bento boxes. (photo from sugarfina.com)

My husband has received peanut butter for the past few gift-giving occasions. And twice I got him jars of Chai Spice Peanut and Almond Butter from Big Spoon Roasters because he LOVES it. (I like it, and I do not care for peanut butter.) I am eyeing this winter gift pack while I decide whether I’m weary of buying him peanut butter. Could be nice to split among several gift recipients, if you know multiple lovers of unusual nut butters. (photo from bigspoonroasters.com)

Oooh… or I could get him a jar of cinnamon almond butter. It’s less decadent (less pricy, but also a brand we see at the grocery store), but also makes me more inclined to get it as a stocking stuffer rather than as one of his primary gifts. (photo from amazon.com)

My husband’s primary gift, FYI, is a new Kindle Paperwhite. His existing Kindle is one of the first generations models, and doesn’t have the backlighting that the new Paperwhites offer. His is starting to be verrrrrrry slow when he tries to turn the pages, too, so I think it’s time for a new one. (photo from amazon.com)

Carla has started knotting her t-shirts, sometimes tying a corner into a knot, other times putting a tiny hair elastic around a little bunch of t-shirt. I saw this little gadget that helps make the perfect knotted twist. I kind of also want one for myself… (photo from twist-teeknot.com)

Carla would love this Secret Message Lab kit. I had something like this when I was a kid, and loved learning about and using secret codes and ciphers. (photo from blacktoystore.com)

I don’t take baths, but I do like a nice spa-like shower experience. My husband got me these shower steamers for my birthday or Mother’s Day last year, and I really really love them and plan to give them to both of my sisters-in-law. (photo from amazon.com)

Anthropologie has a shower steamer gift set, as well. A little pricier, but I wouldn’t expect any less from Anthro. (photo from anthropologie.com)

You know who DOES like baths? Carla. She would get a huge kick out of this geode bath ball, considering she also likes geodes and bath bombs! (photo from anthropologie.com)

There are many people on my gift list who would appreciate a bookmark. I love this Storiarts one featuring an Oscar Wilde quote. (photo from storiarts.com)

Or this gorgeous leather bookmark from Ox and Pine, which you can personalize with someone’s initials or a pertinent quote. (photo from oxandpine.com)

Carla and I have been tossing around the idea of her making homemade bookmarks for her friends and family this year. I found a kit that provides all but the artwork. This would make a great gift for a bookworm, too. (photo from amazon.com)

Oh my goodness – or these diamond painting bookmarks. The perfect mashup of diamond painting, which was a hit last year, and book crafts! (photo from amazon.com)

Carla did a brief unit on making comic books in school this fall, and really seemed excited about it. Uncommon Goods has a comic book making kit that she might enjoy. (Also available at Amazon.) (photo from uncommongoods.com)

Here’s a book of blank comic book templates that requires little more than imagination. (photo from amazon.com)

My sister-in-law recently bought these gel crayons for Carla (bonus: shaped like cats!) and they are awesome. (But messy.) (photo from worldmarket.com)

She paired them with this stand-up sketchpad, too. Carla found it quite delightful. Perfect combo for any young artist. (photo from amazon.com)

Carla would get so much joy out of this cat stationery set. Cat paperclips! Cat sticky notes! Cat pens! (photo from amazon.com)

Or this set has cat page flags as well, plus a little cat pencil case! (photo from amazon.com)

These little cat paper clips/bookmarks are marketed as “pliable.” Supposedly you can soak them in water for a few seconds and reshape them. I have no idea what that means, but it might be worth $7.99 to find out. (photo from containerstore.com)

Because Carla has been wearing clip on earrings – old ones, that I bought a million years ago for myself – I think maybe we should get her some of her own. These dangly cat earrings would please her greatly, I think. (photo from amazon.com)

I love this collection of clip ons – no cats, but there are so many other good options! Christmas trees! Snow flakes! Dinosaurs! The little seals with their little scarves! (photo from amazon.com)

I think I mentioned that my sister-in-law is hoping for an opal necklace. This one is so pretty (from Irin Skye) – although I’m not sure which initial to choose. Maybe hers, maybe her daughter’s. (photo from etsy.com)

This may not sound like a very exciting gift, but I am hoping to find a pack of these reusable cooking sheets in my stocking this year. I use aluminum foil and parchment paper all the time, and if these are good replacements, I will be delighted. (photo from amazon.com)

Along similar lines, I think I would get a lot of use out of these round silicone baking mats. ROUND. (photo from amazon.com)

Something that I long for constantly – especially when we have any sort of guests over – is mini tongs. I would use them for everything from cheese trays to taco bars. In my head, I was thinking of something in the wood family. (photo from amazon.com)

Or maybe simple silver. (photo from containerstore.com)

But these rainbow tongs are FANTASTIC. (photo from amazon.com)

As long as we’re ogling beautiful and largely unnecessary kitchen items, I’d like to give a shout out to these gold, leafy teaspoons. SO PRETTY. Surely we all know someone who needs them, right? (photo from anthropologie.com)

More practical but still something that would give me a tingle of joy: these odd-size measuring spoons. I would measure the spelt out of these. (photo from surlatable.com)

As a big fan of the resurgence of the charcuterie tray, I have been eyeing this fancy cheese board. Mainly because it has a RIM (no more cracker avalanches), but also because it has all these cute dip dishes and a little compartment to hold the cheese knives. Would they still manage to end up floating around my utensil drawer? Perhaps. (photo from amazon.com)

Would I be happy with a simple round, rimmed platter that I could repurpose as a cheese board? I think so, if it is as simple and lovely as this one from Crate and Barrel. (photo from crateandbarrel.com)

Or maybe this wooden serving tray. It has a rim AND handles! (photo from nordstrom.com)

When I think of charcuterie trays, I think of fun food options to add to them.  Like some delicious crackers. I’m partial to the kind that have fruit and nuts, like this cranberry and pistachio option. (photo from mouth.com)

Apple crisp crisps might be a fun alternative to crackers – I bet they would be tasty with cheddar or brie. (photo from igourmet.com)

Or perhaps some fancy olives. I love olives soaked in gin; maybe olives soaked in vermouth are just as good. (photo from igourmet.com)

This ginger honey would be fun to spread on sliced baguette… or drizzle over apple slices. (photo from mouth.com)

My mom loves pickled watermelon rind, an acquired taste and a hard-to-find delicacy, so I’m planning to give her a jar. (photo from igourmet.com)

There is also pickled watermelon, which may appeal to her as well. (photo from mouth.com)

My daughter is obsessed with capers. Maybe a two-pound jar all for her would be a fun treat? (photo from igourmet.com)

Something I NEED is a good quality silicone whisk. My husband got me a set of silicone whisks a few years ago, but water got into some of the handles and some of them broke so I am down to zero silicone whisks. Not a particularly FUN present, but a useful one. (photo from surlatable.com)

Going right on down the “not a particularly fun present, but a useful one” path, I think my mother-in-law needs a package of silicone straws. She hoards straws from Starbucks to reuse in her iced coffee each day, but the silicone ones have to be sturdier and more sanitary, and I’m guessing (hoping) they are better for the sea turtles. (photo from nordstrom.com)

I always love a good fancy hand cream. This year I specifically requested the Beautycounter hand cream trio. I’ve gotten it before and loved it, and this year there are new scents: Ginger and Earl Grey! Neroli, whatever that is! Lavender and Tonka! (photo from beautycounter.com)

This hand moisture pack looks like it would be fun and good for my dry, dry hands. Plus, it’s a nice stocking stuffer price. (photo from anthropologie.com)

I usually ask for some fancy nail polish for the holidays. Maybe this year I will ask for this peel-off nail lacquer? Sounds very satisfying to remove. (photo from anthropologie.com)

Someone – perhaps my sister-in-law, who knows these kinds of things? – says that these cooling facial globes are the new jade roller. They look very soothing.

As an alternative, Anthropologie has cooling eye gels, which would make great stocking stuffers for all the tired-eyed people in my family. (photo from anthropologie.com)

Ooooh they have lip gels, too! Would this finally put an end to my peeling lips??? Supposedly they “hydrate and smooth” as well as “help you relax and de-stress.” (photo from anthropologie.com)

I am in LOVE with this Little House of the Prairie book blanket from Litographs. The book text makes up the drawing on the blanket. (photo from litographs.com)

There’s a version with Robert Frost poems, too! My mom might need one of these. OH MY GOSH there is also a custom option and YOU CAN UPLOAD YOUR OWN TEXT.

Speaking of things my mom and I might both enjoy: these Scandinavian dish cloths are gorgeous and sustainable! Okay, I ordered one moose print and one woodland trees. The shipping is very reasonable! (photo from threebluebirds.com)

You know that I can’t resist a good dish towel, and I find this Ted Lasso “biscuits with the boss” dish towel from Moonlight Makers to be quite charming. (photo from etsy.com)

Oooooh this set of rainbow towels is so lovely! Who DOESN’T need these? (photo from anthropologie.com)

Sticking with the rainbow theme, I MUST have people on my list who need one or all of these little rainbow pots. SO CUTE. (photo from anthropologie.com)

While I don’t think I have room in my life for another vase (although this one is SO small and SO pretty), I am sure someone on your list needs to have this bud vase, right? (photo from anthropologie.com)

Speaking of things I don’t have room for: Mugs. I need another mug like I need another pickle jar. And yet I want this Ted Lasso mug from Journo Travel Goods very badly. (photo from etsy.com)

Or a Roy Kent mug from You Had Me At Cadeaux. Featuring Roy Kent’s gloriously cranky and deliciously handsome mug. (photo from etsy.com)

The same quote, on a mug from Byron Betts Store, without the face. (photo from etsy.com)

This quote (now on a rainbow-lovely mug from Little Canada Prints) is starting to make me quite teary, hearing it inside my skull in Roy’s fierce growl. I love it so. (photo from etsy.com)

To fill our new Ted Lasso mugs with something more interesting than hot brown water, might I suggest some of these micro-ground tea lattes from Tea Squared? I have no idea what they are or what they taste like, but they sound VERY interesting. Especially the pumpkin spice chai latte and the London foggy ones. (photo from teasquared.ca)

Carla marked several cooking/baking items in the catalogs she was trawling through. This surprises me, as she doesn’t show a whole lot of interest in doing things in the kitchen. Well. Maybe a “toy” would help encourage this interest. Perhaps something like this tiny baking kit. (photo from amazon.com)

Or this cooking challenge kit – which includes recipes, cooking challenges, and score cards. (photo from mindware.orientaltrading.com)

 

And she would definitely enjoy this knife set. I’m guessing my niece would as well. Knives all around! (photo from mindware.orientaltrading.com

Last year, Carla hung a wall calendar near her desk for the first time, and she really likes having one. I asked if she wanted one for next year, and she said without hesitation: “Yes, with kittens.” Maybe this one? (photo from amazon.com)

Or possibly this one, which has kittens AND puppies. (photo from amazon.com)

My husband, who has been very poorly represented on this list, alongside every other man in my family, egads I am terrible at giving gifts, likes socks. He has too many socks, in my opinion. But he LIKES them. And these light butter socks look soft and have the type of charming pattern he normally likes. (photo from nordstromrack.com)

He might also enjoy this basil scented body wash. I think I would enjoy him smelling of basil. (photo from nordstrom.com)

Or perhaps basil, lime, and mandarin. Also: sheesh, this is expensive. (photo from nordstrom.com)

He and the other men on my gift list might get some fancy soap. Poor men. BBQ tools, liquor, socks, and soap. That’s all I can think of for anyone male. (photo from nordstrom.com)

Or some cozy pajama pants. Jammies all around!

If you have a person in your life who also owns an Apple watch, I highly recommend this leather watch strap. I got one for my husband for his birthday, and he loves it. (photo from nordstrom.com)

My husband also enjoys a good puzzle. This multi-colored pine trees puzzle looks challenging (but not impossible) and it’s very pleasing to the eye. (photo from llbean.com)

We got this Times Square puzzle for my mother-in-law, and we’ve all been putting it together on my dining room table since September. It is VERY challenging, and perfect for your favorite puzzle fiend. (photo from amazon.com)

This smaller version might be a little less frustrating challenging. I’m getting it for my mother-in-law to do at her house. (photo from amazon.com)

And I think maybe my husband needs this puzzle with a Paris scene. Although, hmmm, I am 50% concerned I have already purchased this for him. (photo from amazon.com)

KP suggested, on my last post, looking for gifts for my parents as they go on their road trip. GENIUS. This would be a big splurge gift, but I think they would get a lot of use out of this iceless cooler, which would plug into the cigarette lighter. I suppose I need to make sure their car has a cigarette lighter, which seems like an old-fashioned amenity. (photo from amazon.com)

They might also appreciate a new atlas. Is that the most boring gift in the history of the universe? (photo from amazon.com)

Perhaps an Allersac sheet set, since they will be staying in multiple hotels on their drive? (photo from amazon.com)

Or, to really amp up the Christmas gift-opening enjoyment, perhaps this bed bug prevention suitcase liner? Nothing says happy holidays quite like hoping someone doesn’t encounter bed bugs on their journey. (photo from amazon.com)

One thing I KNOW they would like is an audio course – something like The Great Courses used to offer. But they prefer things on CD, and it doesn’t look like Great Courses offers CD options anymore. I suppose we could buy something and burn it to a CD (using an old computer, because new computers don’t have CD drives anymore). (I asked my husband about this and he doesn’t think it’s possible.) Or maybe I could find a couple of audiobooks on CD to buy them? I loved In the Heart of the Sea, and enjoyed the first half of The Mayflower before I put it down some months ago. (photo from amazon.com)

Childhood road trips with my dad meant car snacks, and he favored Necco wafers and spicy peanuts. Maybe he’d appreciate a package of Cajun peanuts? (very odd peanut photo from nuts.com)

Or these taco seasoned peanuts might be a fun flavor. (very odd peanut photo from nuts.com)

Not for imbibing on the road, of course, but I think I might get my dad a whisky tasting kit. I got him one a few years ago and he really enjoyed it. (photo from flaviar.com)

I think my dad would get a kick – and a lot of use – out of this 6-in-1 tool pen. (photo from amazon.com)

My brother, whom I have NO IDEA what to get, might appreciate this thermal phone case. (photo from amazon.com)

Or a boot dryer, for his ski boots. (photo from rei.com)

New gloves are always nice. My mom and my sister-in-law might find a pair of these fleece-lined wool gloves under the tree. (photo from orvis.com)

I am also eyeing this beautiful ceramic paint water cup from BNCA Pottery. My mom is an oil painter, and I feel like this would add substance and beauty to a necessary aspect of painting. (photo from etsy.com)

I have absolutely no use for this mini toaster oven, but I could not resist adding it to this list. If I had any college students to shop for, this would be a strong contender. It is SO CUTE. (photo from nordstrom.com)

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Now that my in-laws are gone, and I am released from all the effort of meal planning for people who aren’t my husband and cleaning up after two additional people in my home and trying to be friendly and social when I am neither, I can fully experience the weight that is the End of Year Crush. 

It seems that the instant Halloween ends, the year starts pell-melling faster than I can keep up, and I am feeling winded already.

We are blissfully free of Thanksgiving obligations this year. It’s just the three of us this year again, which is a relief. No entertaining or massive meal to be stressed over and undertaken. I mean, I am definitely making myself some goat cheese mashed potatoes, and I expect my husband will want dressing, and, in my opinion, you can’t make the really good, rich gravy without roasting at least some part of a turkey. But it will be easier and less anxiety-filled, it what I’m saying. HOWEVER, Hanukkah follows quickly on the heels of Thanksgiving, and then it will be Christmas, and then the calendar will flip over into 2022 before we can blink an eye. 

There are a couple of critical tasks that I need to complete in the next few weeks.

Holiday Cards

I forced my husband to take family photos for our holiday cards. He very reluctantly complied, and drove the thiree of us out to a beautiful autumnal setting and wore a nice outfit and took several photos with his fancy camera. And they are… fine. They’re just fine. I hate the way I look in them, but that’s fine. No one else will notice. No. One. They’re fine. 

Mpix had a good discount going over the Halloween weekend, and I made samples of multiple cards with the photos my husband took, and showed them to him. And he had a few tweaks and requests, which I made… and then we both promptly forgot about them until after midnight and the deal had ended. Sigh.

Well. We got a coupon for Minted, so I have already created some samples there. I just need my husband to go through them and choose his favorite and I will order those puppies SO FAST. 

Holiday Gifts

Presents are… not done, not by a mile. But I have the rest of November to stress about them. Except November is already HALF OVER OMG. I already ordered my husband’s big gift from me, and Santa Claus delivered two of Carla’s gifts early, so I feel okay about things. Despite all of your lovely advice when last I brought this up, I still have no earthly idea what to get any of our parents or our siblings. 

Our parents are particularly tricky because a) they have everything they want/need already and b) they don’t have a lot of room/desire for Things. Usually, I get my parents consumables, but they are going to be driving here for Christmas and then going on a road trip around the country, and I don’t know if a big gift crate of cheese will survive the trip back. Everyone reads books, but they all read CONSTANTLY so it is difficult to know what any one person has/hasn’t read yet. My husband and I received some of those mystery games you can play in a group last year; those are fun. Maybe everyone will get one of those. 

My sister-in-law mentioned that my niece might want a big craft mat like Carla has, so I think that will be one gift from us… but it’s not very fun. And my sister-in-law also showed me a picture of a beautiful opal necklace she liked on Etsy, so I might look for something similar to get her. 

My mother-in-law claims that she really likes the food I cook, which is so kind and such a compliment. For Christmas, she requested a collection of the recipes I use. Of course I would prefer to photograph some of the meals I make and create a real book for her, but I just don’t know if I have the time or the photography skills to get it done before Christmas. Well, we’ll see what I can do. Right now, I’m thinking this might be a better gift idea for Mother’s Day or her birthday.

That’s all the ideas I have. Beyond those meager half-formed thoughts, I am stumped. STUMPED. 

Oh! I had an idea for my husband and I wanted to run it by you. 

He taught himself how to create and produce music during the pandemic. You know. While also still being a physician, husband, and father. (During the pandemic I… dyed my hair a couple of times and refrained from killing anyone during remote learning. Does that count?) Anyway, his music is amazing and I am so proud of him and blown away by his talent. He created a title card for the first song he produced which features an artsy photo he took, the title of the song, and his artist name. So I was thinking of putting that title card on a sweatshirt from zazzle and ordering it for him. 

But I can’t commit to that idea! I keep going back and forth between “he will be so pumped and touched to have his music commemorated this way!” to “omg he will feel super awkward to wear a sweatshirt featuring his OWN music.” 

What do you think? Is it weird? No one will KNOW, of course. But I suppose there is a very small chance that someone might ask him about it, and then he might be embarrassed? I don’t know!!! Would Mark Ronson wear a sweatshirt featuring his own album art? Would Ryan Tedder? I don’t know!!!!!!!!! 

Without knowing my husband AT ALL, what would you suggest? Is it an ill-advised idea? Should I order myself a sweatshirt featuring his album art? That way it would be flattering but less self-aggrandizing? 

And if I don’t get him THAT, what do I get him??????

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Well, I am sitting here waiting for the exterminator to come do our quarterly bug roundup (I like to picture him ushering a bunch of creepy-crawlies down the stairs and out into the street and off into some buggy wonderland, Pied Piper style), and I neither feel like emptying the dishwasher nor trying to plan our meals for the week, so randomosity it is!

  • Speaking of our bug guy: I am mad at our pest control service. They are constantly bothering us to sign up for this quarterly “deal,” wherein you get a discount per service. And my husband and I had figured that we were calling the pest control on an as-needed basis about three times per year, so the math didn’t work out for us to do the quarterly plan. But, for some reason, we decided to sign up the last time they made their sales pitch. I don’t remember why, but it must have involved math. ANYWAY, we signed up in June, for the quarterly plan. They sent the bug guy, invoiced us… And the amount was DOUBLE what he’d quoted me. I emailed him back and said, “I thought the quarterly plan cost $X. Or is this invoice for the entire year in advance?” And he CALLED ME. I could not answer at the time, so emailed him back, reiterated my question, and said that email is much better than calling. He called me AGAIN. I remember I picked up the phone because I was waiting for another call, but there was some incredibly stressful thing going on, and he was being super confusing and not answering my questions directly, so I started frustration-crying on the phone. It was awful. The upshoot was that he didn’t want to submit a specific quote in writing, because “their rates change based on unpredictable factors.” *Picture me right now, sitting at my desk, blinking slowly and taking multiple deep breaths.* Anyway, because I cried at him, he emailed me this: “as discussed on the phone. The current charge is your initial charge with a discounted rate. 3 months after your initial treatment we offer a discounted quarterly rate ~$X + tax on a regular quarterly basis.” Which, I have to say, STILL MAKES NO SENSE. Does that mean that the quarterly discount only kicks in… later??? And also, I want to know what we are going to pay, every quarter!!!!! “~$X” is not specific enough!!!!! I immediately started asking my neighbors who they use, even though we have used this particular service multiple times per year for over a decade. The only reason I have decided not to switch services is that I adore the man who does the actual spraying of the bugs. He is a lovely, kind, gentle man who asks about my kid and is always super flexible about timing and is very efficient. He is the kind of guy you could call to come over IMMEDIATELY and take care of any issue. Plus, he is getting up there, age-wise, and I just picture us canceling our service and him being out of a job. (This is ridiculous; they have other customers.) So we are, for now, keeping our service. But I am STILL MAD. In fact, I feel riled up enough that I am once again thinking of finding a new service. EDITED TO ADD: I asked our bug guy if he knew what today’s appointment was going to cost me, and he said he didn’t; he leaves that to the other guy, who will send me an invoice. So I still have no idea how much it cost. I DO NOT LIKE THIS.
  • It is a good time for the bug guy to come, because it is Spider Season. And I know that spiders are good and lovely and take care of other bugs, but during this time of year they get very bold and decide to break the Spider Covenant of out of sight, out of mind. Do they think they add to the Halloween ambiance? There was a spider in Carla’s room the other day, and she came shrieking into the living room to have one of us rescue her from its clutches, but then my husband couldn’t locate the spider to remove it. (I would have squished it. Am mean.) Carla KNOWS that the spider is still there, probably on her bed, maybe building a little web inside her pillowcase. She does not believe us that the spider has likely moved on. She has been sleeping in our room ever since.
  • Oh, speaking of stupid things that make no sense (yes, I am still exercised about the bug service situation): Do you remember I told you, a long while ago, about this absolutely RIDICULOUS bank situation? In short (or, as short as I can very wordily go), we have a loan through a bank, and the bank is holding a big chunk of our money as collateral against the loan. This bank has a policy stating that you (we) need to add some nominal amount of money to the account annually, or you (we) are charged an inactive fee. Even though I don’t WANT to add money, not even $5, to that account because we cannot touch it until the loan is paid. And even though I don’t have any sort of bank card that would allow me to do so without going, in person, to the bank. And even though the bank is nowhere near my house or any place I ever go. So every year I get a statement charging us an inactive fee, and every year I call the bank and ask them to remove it, and they give me a spiel about how easy it would be to avoid the fee, just by making a single annual transaction! And how it could just be $5! And how they have all these branches! (None nearer than a 30 minute drive.) I persist, getting louder and more strident, and finally they agree to remove the fee, and I ask that they make a note for next year, and they say they can’t. Remember when I whined at great length about that? Well! Last year, we got a statement that showed the inactive fee… and then showed an instant refund!!!! I did not have to call! SOMEONE MADE A NOTE! That is my hope, at least. I suppose it could have been a Pandemic Nicety. Anyway, I’m waiting for the statement to show up this year, just to see what happens. I know you are on the edge of your seat.
  • I got myself a jump rope. Carla has one and it seems fun. Plus, it reminds me of middle school gym class, and how Jump Rope for Heart! was a big health movement back then. It IS good exercise, I think. I don’t know for sure because I have yet to try it. I’m… nervous? Afraid of hitting myself in the face? Or… enduring excessive boob-flop pain? Or… having a heart attack? I don’t know. Also, I am pretty sure this is an Outdoor Activity, so that’s another hurdle. The jump rope is currently on the floor of my office. Do you jump rope? And if so, how do I begin my jump rope journey? Perhaps I shall begin by taking it with me to Goodwill and leaving it there?
  • Listen, I KNOW it’s only October, but I also know that you are aware – as are we all – that shipping and supply chain issues are causing delays and snarl-ups all over the place. So I am thinking about Christmas. Fretting is a more accurate word than thinking, except there is also a lot of inertia because it is sooooo far away and I am just coming out of a four-family-members-have-birthdays period over the last six weeks, with the fifth still to come. I persuaded my husband to order a couple of things for Carla already (thank you, Target, for having a “buy $50 in toys, get $10” promotion at the exact right time). (We got her a carnotaurus and an LOL OMG doll that she requested.) But literally no one else in my family is thinking about the holidays right now, except maybe my parents whom I have already bothered on the topic. And lord knows WHAT I will get my husband; I just had to buy presents for his birthday and it was rough. I ended up buying him a couple of things I’d purchased previously, that’s how out of ideas I am. Well. At least Santa Claus will have something to deliver to Carla. If the rest of us get nothing, that’s fine. We need nothing anyway.
  • This Christmas situation illuminates one of the Major Differences between my family of origin and my husband’s. I emailed my mom and asked her to start thinking about Christmas, and she happily complied. In fact, I had received an email previously from my dad, asking what we want to eat for Christmas dinner. They are Plan Ahead People. They have everything planned out for the next… nine months, I’d say. While I am not (always) that much of a planner, I do prefer to know what’s coming down the pike. My in-laws, on the other hand, are Spontaneous People. (This is why I end up wrapping so many gifts that they send us at the last minute grumble grumble.) They are also Christmas List People, who prefer that we all submit and choose from a list of specific items. (My parents are Money Gifters, who then also usually wrap something small to accompany the money.) My in-laws also live in a different state, so we have to ship all gifts to them. (And I prefer to buy them and wrap them before shipping them.) This is a bad combination, even in years without shipping and supply chain issues (not to mention all the health issues that are obviously and justifiably requiring significant attention). But this year it may be that everyone gets a Suzanne Hopes You Will Like This But Maybe You Won’t present.
  • Do you have a go-to gift that you send to people who have everything/people who are difficult to shop for? There has to be a Good General Gift that most people enjoy, right? Except I can’t think of one, outside of consumables like chocolate/wine/cheese.
  • And also, what would YOU, personally, like to receive as a gift? Like, right now, what is the thing that you are coveting most? For me, it is a citrus squeezer. Mine broke, and I use a citrus squeezer ALL the time, so I have been mourning its loss near-daily. Okay, after writing that, I just ordered one – it’s stainless steel, so the paint won’t wear off and it’s dishwasher safe! It will arrive on Friday. SORRY, PEOPLE WHO BUY ME GIFTS.
  • I really, reallllllllly wish that we could alllll agree that we are grown ups and do not need gifts anymore. Seriously. We can get the kids presents, if we want, but no one else needs anything. I just don’t know how to broach that topic. Like, it seems like one thing to say, “I would like you to stop buying me gifts; I have everything I need” but a whole different thing to say, “I would like to stop purchasing gifts for you.” Yeah. Makes me sound like a dick. *Resigned sigh of gift anxiety forever and ever amen.* 
  • At least I don’t have to worry about Thanksgiving! My in-laws are hosting Thanksgiving at their house, in a different state, despite the fact that it is their year with us, and despite the fact that my husband and I established nearly a decade ago that we will not travel on holidays, and despite the fact that there is still an ongoing global pandemic that makes travel – especially crowded holiday travel – unideal. (And lest you think I am being heartless, they made these plans before all the health turmoil.) (I am still being a little heartless, but the whole thing irks me.) So! It will just be the three of us, here at home! My IDEAL! I suspect I will still need to make turkey and stuffing, since my husband likes those things. (Bleh.) I can probably get away with a small turkey breast, though, which will be nice. And I am delighted that I get to make a big vat of garlic goat cheese mashed potatoes to slowly coat myself in.
  • OMG I usually tip our bug guy but I FORGOT to get tip money and had none. He said goodbye at the front door, but then his shoes were at the back door, so we trekked through the kitchen, saying things like “keep safe!” and “see you next quarter!” But then at the back door, I had to wait as he put on his shoes and tied them and tried to make small talk about the weather while I was very blatantly NOT giving him a tip. And then he got his shoes on and walked through the garage and reminded me to close the garage door and we must have said goodbye/take care to each other at least four times all while I was not giving him a tip OMG it was so awkward. I hope he knows I will get him next time.

That’s it from me, Internet. After that grueling interaction, not to mention the anticipation thereof, I need to lie down for the rest of the day. (Kidding. Mainly.)

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Well, right on cue: despite my meticulous catalog of gift options and all my big plans of thwarting the inevitable onset of Stocking Stuffer Syndrome, now that we’re just under a week out from Christmas I am experiencing severe Pre-Christmas Panic that I haven’t purchased enough/the right gifts. What IS this and WHY does it happen? Especially THIS year when a) I have planned so well and so far in advance and b) I cannot do anything about it, aside from braving Target or Costco or the like during a pandemic which is a no from me dawg. Maybe focusing my anxiety energy on gift-related targets is more bearable than worrying aimlessly about Everything Else? The fact is, panic or no, IT’S TOO LATE NOW. 

Oh crumbs! I just realized I never ordered Carla a Rubik’s Cube to replace the one I broke. And glee of glees! It looks like Amazon is still confident it can ship one to me in a day (“a day”), unlike the Elsa styling head I keep fretting about, because I know she would like it, but it is TOO LATE – pretty much every version of the thing is unavailable to ship until January. INTO THE CART, RUBIK’S CUBE. There. Okay I also just bought my husband a pair of work slacks (do people say slacks anymore?) that I can pick up curbside. They were on sale. They are also very boring. Maybe too boring? Nope, TOO LATE, they are purchased. And I am hoping that the act of buying something, anything, even boring work slacks, will help allay the panic.

Let’s have some randomosity, shall we?

  • You know what it’s NOT too late for? Medicinal holiday baking. I have finally decided which holiday cookies to make! My husband found a copycat recipe for Levain Bakery’s chocolate chocolate chip cookies that we are going to bake. I think I will also make the zimtsterne, just because they are so pretty and festive. I have vague semi-plans to package some of the zimtsterne in the boxes I normally use for holiday chocolates and give them to our neighbors. Sharing the sufganiyot with our neighbor went so well, I kind of want to recapture that feeling. Unfortunately, all I’ve recaptured is the anxiety of even CONSIDERING interacting with our neighbors.
  • I haven’t tested the copycat recipe yet, but I CAN recommend the real thingLevain Bakery ships their cookies and I have been the recipient of said cookies in the past and it was delightful. Looks like it is too late to order them for Christmas, but if you ever need to send something delicious to someone in your life (that includes yourself), these are AH-MAY-ZING. They are huge and they freeze really well. 
  • In other baking news, I finally made the cranberry crumble bars I have been planning to make for over a week now. They were SO GOOD – the perfect combination of tart, gooey cranberries and lightly sweet crunchy shortbread crust with a teensy bit of very sweet lemony glaze on top. You use the same crust for the crumble on top, which sounds a little weird (to me) but is quite delicious. I sent a big plate full with my husband on Friday so he could share them with the surgical team, and he said everyone enjoyed them. Somehow I need to remember to make them next Thanksgiving because I like them better than our traditional pumpkin bars. 
  • My holiday card wall is looking a little sad, still. The cards are arriving in little drips, although one day we got a big surge of five. I hope it picks up before Christmas. I know the postal service is doing absolutely everything it can to move everyone else’s pandemic-related-panic-buying from one place to another, so I’m assuming more cards will arrive when they can. Of course it’s also possible that most people decided against cards this year – although most everyone I’ve spoken to seems to be of the “but now cards are more important than ever!!!!” perspective, so who really knows?
  • Speaking of the postal service, I finally stopped dithering and purchased gifts for the kind people who are delivering packages to our house ON THE DAILY. I saw an article about how postal workers aren’t allowed to accept cash or cash equivalents, which threw me for a loop. I have given Target and Starbucks gift cards with wild abandon in the past, so I kind of think maybe it would be okay to keep giving gift cards? Then again, KNOWING that it isn’t allowed is a different thing from blithely giving whatever I want out of innocence, so I dithered myself into complete paralysis. Until this week, when I finally decided that I could not give a gift card now that I KNEW it was prohibited. So I bought some of these little pandemic kits (which I could pick up curbside) and some fancy chocolates from a local small business and that was THAT. Practical plus yummy/treaty. Of course I am second guessing my choices now, but IT’S TOO LATE NOW. What’s done is packaged and waiting in our hall, except for the one gift we were already able to hand directly to the postal worker. Now all that’s left is to intercept the delivery people when they arrive; typically they don’t announce their presence in any way, and even if I know to listen for them they are often already back in their trucks by the time I fling open the door. What says “merry Christmas” better than a wild-eyed middle-aged woman running shrieking after your truck in her bare feet?
  • The pandemic kits I bought include one of those little no-touch door opener tool things. Do you have one of those? My husband got one from his hospital early on in the pandemic and he gave it to me. It is more useful than I anticipated, and I keep it in my purse and use it all the time. Hmmm. Maybe this would make a good stocking stuffer… This one at Amazon supposedly arrives before Christmas AND it has a little smart-screen tip you can use for credit card machines at the grocery store! 
  • This is totally not Christmas related AT ALL, but I cleaned my menorah and put that away, which is a nice if very small preview of the wonderful catharsis of putting away all the Christmas décor. We also have a menorah candle situation that annoys me. We ran out of candles on the seventh night (some people in our family can be a little too, um, enthusiastic about shoving the candles into the menorah), and I had to curbside pickup another pack of candles from Target. And now we will run out early NEXT year, too. I only hope I remember to buy extras before Hanukkah begins.
  • Also not a Christmas topic, and potentially alarming: the last two times I’ve been to the grocery store, there have been big bare spots on the taco shells shelf. And absolutely NONE of the Old El Paso regular-size taco shells. It’s all Stand and Stuff or Super Stuffer. It is perplexing. I haven’t been grabbing up big armsful of taco shells – yet – but I do grab a package every time, even if I’m not planning on tacos that week. (Although a week without tacos around here is, to be fair, rare.) I feel like I was just joking with someone about a hypothetical taco shell shortage, so perhaps I am to blame???? NEVER JOKE ABOUT TACO SHELLS, that’s the lesson here, folks. Well. Too late now.
  • This week’s haul from the grocery store included eggnog – which I like as long as it’s mixed with an equal amount of milk, otherwise it’s much too viscous – and Christmas beer, both of which are fun once-a-year things. I considered and rejected many other Christmas-specific items, including mulling spices, a stollen, and an enticing array of chocolate in Christmas shapes/colors. It is all so very tempting, though!
  • I am very tired of people in the grocery store not understanding the six-feet rule. It has been NINE MONTHS, people. There are signs everywhere, reminding us to give people plenty of space. There are regular announcements on the overhead speaker, reminding us to put six feet between ourselves and the people around us. We are all wearing masks as a big, blaring signal that THINGS ARE DIFFERENT NOW, YO. And yet, inevitably, I will be waiting patiently six feet away from a woman who is carefully evaluating every single onion in the bin so that I can grab some onions and be on my way, and some oblivious jerkface (I am assuming both the obliviousness and the jerkfacity) will squeeze in right next to her and start fondling the potatoes. In the immortal words of George Constanza, WE’RE LIVING IN A SOCIETY, and said society demands six feet between its members! 
  • As long as we are discussing things that I find pandemically perplexing: I have now gotten several emails about summer camp registration. First of all, it is December. Okay, so summer camp planning typically starts in January and I guess it’s not far enough from January for it to be an unconscionably early. But. BUT, and secondly, we are still in the midst of a pandemic. It seems kind of brazen to suggest that we start registering our kids for camps that are still many months away when we have NO IDEA what the status of the pandemic will be. Will everyone have gotten vaccines? Will the pandemic be under control? Will there be some new murder-hornet/zombie-mink-style horror to contend with? WHO KNOWS? The fact is, I am not ready to sign up for summer camp. Of course, the very fact that the camps are sending out the emails makes me a little edgy. I definitely don’t want to sign up today and send in a depost when anything could happen between now and next summer. But I also don’t want to wait until we KNOW what’s going to happen and find out IT’S TOO LATE to sign up. I can only hope that most other parents are giving these emails the ol’ squint eye and postponing thinking about it until at least March. 
  • Here is a Very Nice Thing: Carla’s last day before winter break was Friday, and the only assignment they had was to get together on Zoom and make a holiday present for their parents. I suppose that’s normal thing that teachers do with their kids before winter break, but it makes me feel especially weepy with gratitude this year because of all the extra forethought and planning it required, on top of all of the immense challenges of switching, mid-year, to an entirely new method of teaching. We owe these teachers so much. So. Much.
  • I painted my nails the other day for the first time in months. The polish is a sparkly turquoise-navy and I’m digging it. I wonder how long it will last, considering I wash my hands eight billion times a day.
  • Speaking of which, my hands are in rough shape. Unless I am super vigilant about applying hand lotion immediately after I wash my hands, they shrivel up and crack and my cuticles start peeling and there’s bleeding involved and it’s awful. I have hand lotion in the junk drawer in the kitchen, in my bathroom, and right next to my bed. I’ve had a rotation of hand creams, based on whatever is available to pick up at Target. Aveeno was my go-to lotion for most of the pandemic, but now that it’s winter, I don’t think it’s cutting it. I have Soap & Glory Hand Food by my bed, which is nice to use right before I go to sleep. But I’ve switched to O’Keefe’s Working Hands Hand Cream (this link goes to the 7 oz tube; it looks like Target only has the 3 oz size, and that is not enough hand cream) in the kitchen and in my bathroom and I think my diligence is starting to pay off.
  • My lips are a whole other situation though. It is the time of year where my normal multiple-times-daily application of Burt’s Bees lip balm is not enough to keep them smooth. I get this dry patch that I then pick at, which makes my lip bleed, and then my lips rush to repair the wound, which produces a thicker patch, which I then pick at, etc. etc. etc. until everyone is very glad indeed that I need to wear a face covering in public. What should I be putting on my lips instead? Vaseline? I see that O’Keefe’s makes a lip balm – maybe I should try that? Or this Aquaphor ointment gets good reviews. Oh! There is also a highly-rated Aquaphor balm (though it is PRICEY). What is the One True Lip Balm that will make my lips heal?
  • If you have a spouse/significant other, or if you are willing to pretend you do for this bullet point, would you find it odd if you received a gift card that was intended for both of you? Say your Aunt Sylvie sent you a Target gift card for $100 but it was made out to President and Vice President Yourname. (You are the President in this scenario.) You open it and you feel: _____ How? My husband and I have opposing views on this subject and I’m genuinely curious about others’ thoughts. 
  • My best friend from back home sent me a Friends couch ornament for Christmas. It is adorable AND it plays a quote from each character. I’m not crazy about the one for Phoebe – I’d rather hear her singing “Smelly Cat” – but it has Ross shouting “Pivot!” and Joey talking about a moo point, so overall I am very pleased with the choices. Carla loves to press the button and hear the quotes. She asked me what “pivot” means, which led to a definition plus an explanation of why Ross is yelling “pivot!” which led to watching the relevant clip on YouTube. And then I had to show her a few of my other favorite scenes, including my all-time favorite episode, which is the one where Rachel screws up the trifle. (The episode title is actually “The One Where Ross Got High.”) SO MANY great quotable moments in that episode. My favorite is when Ross and Monica’s mom says, “Rachel, no, you weren’t supposed to put beef in the trifle. It did NOT taste good.” 
  • Last-second addition to this post: I was going to schedule the post for Sunday morning and discovered that WordPress lists Sunday as the LAST DAY of the week on the calendar? What is THAT? Sunday comes FIRST! Every calendar I have ever seen orders the days from Sunday to Saturday. Yes, Monday is the first day of the work week, so it is kind of ridiculous, but this is The Way It Is Done. Even the song (to the tune of “My Darlin’ Clementine,” in case your toddler song repertoire is a little rusty) has the days in that order! Why, WordPress? What is the DEAL?

All right. That’s all I’ve got. How are you doing on this, the last Sunday before Christmas?

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What day is it, anyway? I have been off-kilter, day-wise, all week. And I just checked the date and was very surprised that it is somehow the 19th. I guess I think it should be Friday but also only November 15? Well. Time has taken on very strange and malleable properties this year. I should be accustomed to it, by now, but am very clearly NOT.

Last night was a 3:30 a.m. wake up night. I hate nights like that. They happen so frequently that I feel like I should have a better handle on them, or at least know how to get back to sleep. But somehow, in the dark, with the wind doing its best freight train impression outside my window, and the gate shrieking in protest, none of my getting-back-to-sleep techniques occurred to me at all. Instead, my brain decided to first fret extensively about the pandemic and how everything is so much worse than it was in March and yet no one seems to care, and so many people are dying and my loved ones have been spared so far but that extreme good fortune simply cannot hold for much longer. Well. I couldn’t go on thinking about THAT. So I forced my brain to choose a different line of thinking, and it decided to chart exactly how I am a failure, and how I am nearing forty and have not yet finished the book I have been working on for far too many years and how it is now too late and I should just give up in disgrace. Great second choice, brain. You dick.

This is when I pulled up Swistle’s archives on my phone and started reading old pre-Trump, pre-pandemic posts. Very cheerful and soothing. At around 5:00, I fell back to sleep.

That’s when I had a dream about being at some sort of ski resort where four little girls went sailing over a cliff and three of them died in a horrible, violent way. Really, truly gruesome. And in the dream, not only could I do nothing to help, but no one else seemed to register the horrific tragedy that had just happened in front of them, and everyone sort of shrugged and kept on skiing. Thanks, brain. 

So today I am fretful and draggy. Going to walk on the treadmill for a while would probably help, but the act of getting TO the treadmill seems unsurmountable. In terms of productivity level, I score a solid Low. I did have to go to Wal-Mart, for a “contact free” pickup, where I had to wait in a smallish area with another person for the staff member to go get my item. (A present for my niece. She lives in a different state, and I want to wrap her gifts and mail them to her because her mother does not need to wrap extra gifts.) (I do not need to wrap extra gifts either, but I have resigned myself to doing it as I have been doing for several years now. Grim it’s-not-really-as-big-an-imposition-as-it-feels-like face.) (I GET it. Sometimes it just much simpler – and MUCH less expensive! – to order from a website, often with free shipping, and have something shipped directly to your recipient rather than shipping it to your house, wrapping it, then paying to ship it to the recipient. And sometimes gift wrapping isn’t available through online retailers! I totally understand! Occasionally wrapping gifts on behalf of a family member is totally fine!) Then, after eleven minutes of standing around, counting the number of Wal-Mart staff members whose masks covered their mouths but not their noses (final count: 3 of 5), and telling two other staff members who approached me that yes, I was pretty sure I was already being helped, the staff person who’d gone to get items for me and the other shopper returned. He handed the other shopper his item. And then went to a shelf right beside where I was standing and fetched my item. Sigh. Well. I never considered Wal-Mart and efficient to be synonyms.

I was counting the minutes because I needed to get home for my microwave installation. (I made it home in time. And had enough time to wrap my niece’s gift and put it in a box to ship.) Turns out that our old microwave had been installed… badly, is the word I am coming up with. And it’s a good thing a) we never needed it repaired, because the way the previous owners installed it immediately voided the warranty and b) we never had a FIRE. Because they had “installed” it by cutting the wires of the microwave and basically hot-wiring it to the wall. Good times. But! The installation company put in an actual outlet and installed my new microwave correctly and it works and looks basically the same as the old one, so I am pleased. 

(The microwave installation people, by the way, were very nice. They wore masks. I kept the doors open while they were here and also wore a mask. They were gone in about forty minutes. But I asked one of them if they’d been extra busy during the pandemic, you know, just to make awkward conversation, and he said yes, and then went on a [very] little rant about how so many people are going SO OVERBOARD with precautions, and using too much hand sanitizer and wiping everything down, and people just need to chill out a little. Omg.) (After they left, I kept the doors open until the frightful wind started slamming them for me and I also washed my hands and wiped down the entire microwave and everything else they possibly could have touched.) 

What else can I fret to you about?

Oh yes. In Completely NOT Important In The Grand Scheme, Or Even In The Small Scheme, Really, Frets: I am worrying about Santa gifts. 

Let’s take a step back here and offer context: I grew up with Santa. I believed in Santa much longer than most children, in part because my parents were magicians at making Santa gifts appear beneath my watchful eyes, and in part because the magic was so special to me. My parents always gave us gifts, but Santa would give us the big, splashy gifts. A new bike. A Barbie Dream House. A new guitar. A kayak. Skis. (These were not all gifts for me, but various big Santa gifts I remember various members of my family getting over the year.) Anyway, they were the most exciting gifts. And it was such a delight to venture into our living room and see all these fabulous things that Santa had managed to sneak down our chimney. I have always sort of thought of Carla’s Santa gifts the same way. Santa got her a play kitchen one year. Santa brought her a Barbie Dream House a couple of years ago. Big, splashy gifts that really wow her.

My husband did not have the same experience growing up. He has never seen the gifts for Carla as “Santa gives the big gift,” but more along the lines of, it makes more sense to have a Barbie Dream House appear as from nowhere on Christmas morning rather than sit, wrapped, under the tree. And while we have discussed our different views on Santa gifts, and have very carefully said to one another that we know our own personal experience is not The One True Way, neither have we come up with a Defined Way to proceed.

With that context in mind:

As I mentioned in the Gift Guide post, we were planning on getting Carla a sewing machine for Christmas. In my mind, this was going to be her Big Gift from Santa.

But this year, another family member also had the idea to get Carla a sewing machine. And it’s a very generous gift, and very appropriate from this person. But now I am agonizing over giving up our “claim” on the sewing machine because a) now what does SANTA get for Carla? and b) what if the sewing machine doesn’t get here on time? Because this person has a lot going on this year, some very out-of-the-ordinary things that are occupying a lot of time and energy… Plus… even in normal years, this person has a very spontaneous, last-minute type of personality and gifts often arrive the day of a birthday/holiday/event or, sometimes, after the fact. In a year when shipping times and product availability are unreliable, I admit that I am extra concerned about gifts arriving in a timely manner. (That doesn’t give a lot of credit to the family member, I know, which is unfair.)

This is good practice in serenity and flexibility, isn’t it? I can only control my own actions, I cannot control the actions of others. Carla does not know she is supposed to get a sewing machine; she has not even asked for one. So if it doesn’t work out for Christmas this year, we could always get one for her next Christmas, or for her birthday. It will be fine. And, of course, Christmas is not ABOUT presents. It is about family togetherness, and the joy and satisfaction of generosity, and gratitude for all the blessings in our lives. (Yes, I realize Christmas foremost has significant religious meaning, but we are not particularly religious so it is much more of a secular holiday around here.)

And yet the anxious, catastrophize-y part of me is worrying and worrying this not-really-a-problem-problem to death, because I feel like there is tremendous extra pressure to Make Christmas Special this year. What if this is our last Christmas on earth? my doom-and-gloomful brain intones mournfully. What if one or all of us get sick and die and this is our final Christmas together? I realize, fully, that EVERY Christmas has the potential to be our last Christmas because terrible things happen all the time. But that very cheering reminder that this year is, in fact, no different from any other is not as comforting as one would hope.  Instead, it has plunged me deeper into despair and ignited within me a desire to counter that despair with retail therapy. A fleeting and overall ineffective therapy, yet a very appealing one. Except I don’t know what Big Splashy Gift to buy in place of a sewing machine, and I don’t know that I can get my husband on board even if I find one. 

I feel stupid and petty, stressing about these very inconsequential and privileged things when there are so many BIGGER and MORE IMPORTANT things to stress about. But that’s what this is, right? At least partly, it’s a reaction to how helpless I feel about everything else going on in the world. I am trying to regain control over my own little corner, and even that is proving difficult. 

I cannot be the only one wasting energy and angst on ridiculous things, right? RIGHT?

Okay, while you tell me about the inconsequential (or very consequential!) frets you are having right now, I am going to try to climb out of the pit of despair I have mired myself in. Or maybe take a nap.

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I had to double check that it truly is SEPTEMBER SEVENTEENTH SOMEHOW. This has long been a refrain of my life, the “where has time gone?!?!?!” theme, and yet it never ceases to astound me because WHERE has the time GONE?

Time has taken on even new depths of slippery-ness now that Carla is back in school. (She is SO HAPPY, internet. I know it could go remote at any moment, but for now she is SO HAPPY.) I keep jolting out of whatever I’m doing and thinking, “Where’s Carla?!” as though she’s still in the house somewhere and I’ve forgotten about her. Or I will look at the clock and think, “Oh my god! I need to go get Carla!” even though I may, in fact, have four hours yet before I need to pick her up. 

We have all these new things to do each day – make sure she doesn’t have a fever, answer some “do you have Covid or Covid symptoms?”-style questions via an app before 7:30, make sure she has a selection of masks to take to school with her – and it’s making me jumpy. I will be prepping her breakfast and think, “Oh no! I didn’t take her temperature yet!” Or we’ll be in the car line and I’ll yelp, “Shoot! I didn’t fill out the online form!” Or we’ll be just ready to step out the door and I’ll feel that sick sensation of having forgotten to wash her masks. When, in fact, I have plenty of time to take her temperature and I already filled out the form and she has plenty of clean masks.

And then there’s the new pickup time. The kids all have staggered arrival and departure times, and I need to pick Carla up at 2:45. Which is exactly the time I used to leave the house to pick her up. You are seeing the issue, right? Even though I have set my alarm for 2:30, so that I can leave the house right then to go get her, my brain is always going, “Pshaw, you have plenty of time!” because it still thinks I don’t need to LEAVE until 2:45. And then I’ll be puttering around doing lord knows what until I see that the clock says 2:37 and then I FLIP OUT. I have even included a little note that shows up when the alarm goes off, that says “PICKUP AT 2:45.” Still, my brain is convinced I have more time than I do. We live very close to Carla’s school, so I haven’t been late yet. But it’s been very very close. (I don’t know what would happen if I were late. Nothing, probably. But I like to FOLLOW the RULES.)

This is all part of adjusting to a new routine. I have set myself all sorts of alarms and reminders on my phone so I won’t forget any of the steps. Plus, we have purchased new whiteboards and listed out all the things Carla needs to remember each day (she can’t bring a backpack, but she does need masks and a water bottle) (she also has to take a shower immediately upon arriving home; I don’t know if this will help at all with germ containment, but it definitely helps move bedtime along more smoothly). We don’t have any after-school activities; our only commitment is one day a week, every other week, which helps significantly.  I think we have some good systems in place to help keep us on track. But it’s still early days, so I am feeling off-balance and afraid of making a mistake. 

When I was writing this post, I could not for the life of me remember the word for “commitment.” I was WRACKING my brain and coming up with nothing. Well, not NOTHING. The brain is very helpful, and was serving up all manner of wrong and not-even-remotely correct words. I am going to hope this isn’t a sign of aging but rather a keto-related brain fog, yes I have just started keto again and I don’t want to talk about it. Because I was in the car and unable to Google, I texted my husband. I am sure he lives for these urgent interruptions in helping seriously ill people. Obviously he knew the exact word I needed. He is a brilliant, wonderful man. This is the kind of thing that keeps a marriage fresh.

To change topics rather abruptly, Carla is very into LEGO right now. She’s always liked LEGO; she and her dad love to build scenes from Frozen and the like from sets. A few years ago, her grandmother even made her a big table-top sheet of LEGO that she can build on; it lives in our living room as a permanent part of our décor. But this summer, she’s gotten really into it. She used her allowance to buy a big tub of LEGO, rather than one of the build-something-specific kits, and she’s been busy building things and breaking things down and incorporating her creations into her imaginative play. I love that she finds it so absorbing. The other day, my husband and I watched football and Carla just… played with LEGO. The entire time. 

Aside from the important fact that CARLA enjoys LEGO, I like it because I feel like I can get points for playing with her while not actually playing. Listen, I love my child with the fire of all the stars in the universe, but I do not like playing with her. I do play with her. We play Barbies and we play restaurant and we play pet store and we play all sorts of things. But I do not enjoy it. I enjoy crafting and reading and going for walks with her. I enjoy doing things by myself. Playing, not so much. 

But with LEGO, I have carved out a very clear role for myself: that of Piece Finder. The way it works is that Carla will decide she wants to build something – a park or a hotel or a triceratops or whatever – and then she will tell me, “Find me all the green pieces.” Or, “I need all the 2×2 bricks.” Or, “I need this eye that looks like it’s closed so I can make my alligator wink.” And then I will sift through her giant tub of LEGO pieces and find what she needs. It is soothing and I am spending Quality Time with her and – most important of all! – she counts it as playing.

(“You never play with me!” has been a frequent tearful complaint these past six months, because creating lesson plans and taking her to the dog park and walking along as she rides her bike and watching her swing on the swingset and playing board games with her and taking her on hikes and teaching her how to bake banana bread and designing elaborate chalk obstacle courses with her and searching for bugs and watching Full House with her do not count as “playing.” Omfg.) 

We watched LEGO Masters starring Will Arnett (who normally annoys me, but whom I found rather endearing on this show??? even as he simultaneously sort of annoyed me????) together as a family. When it was airing live, earlier this year, I rolled my eyes at it. Carla kept wanting to watch the previews and I kept discouraging her from wanting to watch it. So lame, I thought. Grown ups playing with LEGOs? Ugh. But it turned out to be a really sweet, charming show featuring extraordinarily talented (and sometimes DEEPLY annoying) contestants and truly mind-blowing creations. The things these people can do with LEGO!!!! It makes me eager for Carla to pursue a LEGO-oriented career, like as a LEGO designer or builder or whatever you call them. How COOL would that be?????? (My husband and I agreed that the prize for winning LEGO Masters should be that you get to design something for LEGO. Or maybe get, like, an internship at LEGO or something. Because the contestants were SO creative and skilled with LEGO, it seems like the $100,000 prize was just not enough.) 

One thing that I found charming about LEGO Masters was that there is all this LEGO specific terminology. Like, I had no idea that LEGO is a plural noun. It’s not LEGOs, which I still have to correct myself from saying; it’s just LEGO. (I feel like kind of a dumbass saying LEGO as a plural. The same way I feel like a dumbass if I try to pronounce a foreign word correctly. Which, in both cases, is a stupid way to feel.) And the little LEGO pieces are called bricks. And they have ALL this lingo for different types of brick usage. It was super fun to learn.

One thing we did NOT learn, which would be intensely helpful: how to easily unpair bricks from one another. I spend a LOT of time breaking my thumbnails trying to get bricks apart for Carla’s various building needs. (We have a little orange thing that’s supposed purpose is for getting LEGO apart, but I do not know how to make it work. Most often, it slips and stabs me.) 

This post is not leading anywhere, so instead of leaving you in as completely abrupt a way as I switched subject matter earlier, I will say that we are now contemplating buying Carla a LEGO dragon. She requested one specifically, and I think it would be an excellent Christmas gift. She also wants 1,000 2×3 black bricks, but perhaps she will need to save up her allowance for that particular purchase.

We did get her a LEGO Advent calendar. There are several options in this category – like a Harry Potter version and a Star Wars one. We got her this one because it seemed a) the most Christmassy and b) it had the most options for actually building things; some of the others seemed to feature a lot of figures and not as many things you can put together. 

I can’t believe we’re thinking about Christmas already, but there you are. Well, I guess this post is ending where it began, with time slipping and sliding away. Before you know it, we’ll all be filling trash bags with scraps of wrapping paper and wondering how 2021 is right around the corner.

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I am assuming that you are spending all day, every day, scrolling through Gift Guides, right? There are so many gift guides, you don’t even have to THINK about what to give someone – you’ll just find it on a guide! I for one ADORE gift guides. Gift guides for book lovers… gift guides for foodies… gift guides for nerds… gift guides for survivalists… gift guides for native Iowans… Doesn’t matter WHAT the gift guide is, I will read it.

And this year, I’ve put together one of my own! I know Hanukkah is nearly over and Christmas is right around the bend, so it’s not particularly timely. It’s not well-organized and it’s long (hey, just like my blog posts!) and it doesn’t have any other theme than Things I’d Like to Give or Get. But I hope you have fun reading it. And hey – maybe you’ll find that elusive something that you’ve been looking for!

A couple of quick notes before we dive in:

There are not a lot of Gifts for Men on this list, I have to say. It’s slim pickins out there. If you’re to believe retailers, dudes like only five things: grilling, tools, shaving, farts, and bacon. I am chagrined to say that I have tools AND bacon on my list, but hey, those things are universal. (So are farts, but I get enough potty talk from the kindergarten set, so I am going to keep my gift list fart free.) (And I maintain that shaving is not GIFTWORTHY, it is an often-DAILY annoyance and should not be gift-e-tized. Whatever the “monetize” version of “gift” is.) But I didn’t even TRY to find men’s clothing options or look at tech stuff. Oh, right! That’s the sixth Category of Manly Giving: tech. I admit to total tech ignorance. My husband gives me a list of exactly what he wants and I choose from those items so I don’t get something wrong. I got him something slightly tech-adjacent for our anniversary and I am super nervous that it won’t be something he can use. Anyway, my anxieties are not part of this list. Moving on.

You will also note that some gifts on this list are Just For Fun. I am not going around spending a thousand bucks on a Scrabble wall hanging, for Pete’s sake. But it’s FUN. I wish I WERE the type of person who a) could afford to buy a Scrabble wall hanging and b) would have a room in which it fit perfectly with my décor.

Finally, I own a few of these things, some of them I want, some of them I just think are awesome. I get nothing for including these on the list except that the Amazon things include an affiliate link for which I get a few cents if you actually buy the product. (Prices and availability accurate as of the writing of this post.)

Enjoy!

 

First, here are the obligatory tools:

  1. This flashlight case strikes me as very practical for just about anybody.

Flashlight Tool Kit

photo from amazon.com

Emergency Flashlight Tool Case– Sharper Image, $49.99

  1. And for your handy friends, perhaps this magnetic wristband?

Magnetic wristband

photo from amazon.com

RAK Magnetic Wristband– Amazon, $16.99

Sticking with practical, here are some of my favorite kitchen tools:

  1. While I’ve mentioned this simple clip-on strainer before, it is so useful I have to mention it again.

Fave Things Clip Strainer Amazon

photo from amazon.com

Kitchen Gizmo Snap ‘N Strain Strainer– Amazon, $15.99

  1. My mother got this for me last Christmas. If you eat a lot of tacos or meat sauce, as we do, I think you’ll fall in love.

Meat Chopper

photo from amazon.com

ChopStir Meat Chopper– Amazon, $7.99

  1. I have waxed poetic about this one before. I use this rice/quinoa/couscous cooker ALL the time. It is SO easy.

Rice cooker

photo from amazon.com

Sistema Microwave Rice Cooker– Amazon, $12.45

  1. In the category of Things I’d Like to Own, I love this enormous cheese and crackers board.

Cheese & Crackers Board

photo from uncommongoods.com

Cheese & Crackers Serving Board– Uncommon Goods, $48

  1. Coasters fall into the category of things that I use often and always admire but that are priced way more highly than I think they ought to be. Which makes them perfect for gifting. These West Elm coasters are pretty.

Coasters WE

photo from westelm.com

Reactive Glaze Coasters– West Elm, $20 (down from $29)

  1. Salt is always a good gift. And it’s fancy salt, so it’s fun AND practical.

Salt Set

photo from worldmarket.com

Salt Journey 8-Piece Gift Set– World Market, $19.99

  1. So is super fancy jam.

Christmas Jam Quartet

photo from spoon.com

Christmas Quartet– American Spoon, $55.00

  1. You should probably add in a box of 15 croissants for your friend, to eat with the jam.

Croissants

photo from williams-sonoma.com

Classic Croissants – Williams Sonoma, $31.96

11. These breakfast molds sure are cute, if you have someone on your gift list who would eat pancakes or eggs. Unlike the unicorn fan in my household.

Unicorn Mold

photo from surlatable.com

Unicorn Breakfast Mold– Sur la Table, $10.00

Or there’s a feline version…

Cat Mold

photo from surlatable.com

Cat Egg Mold– Sur la Table, $10.00

  1. This pizza box oven is adorable.

Pizza box oven

photo from sharperimage.com

Pizza Box Oven– Sharper Image, $69.99 (down from $89.99)

On the less practical side, I love these location-themed gifts from Etsy.

  1. This travel ornament is perfect for friends who are big travelers, or for people who joined together in locations different from their home cities. (Hat tip to NGS for turning me on to this particular ornament!)

Travel Ornament

photo from etsy.com

Travel Ornament– Location Inspirations, $23.95-$55.95

  1. Or I love this wall print using the same idea.

Adventure Print

photo from etsy.com

Adventure Together Print– A Gier Design, $65.00-$272.00, depending on size

  1. Moving on, of course, to the Giant Wall Scrabble. This photo does not adequately show how giant it is.

Wall Scrabble

photo from potterybarn.com

 

Wall Scrabble– Pottery Barn, $949 (down from $999)

  1. And of course, while you’re busy playing wall Scrabble, you’ll have your robot bartender mix you a Manhattan.

Robot Bartender

photo from uncommongoods.com

Robot Bartender– Uncommon Goods, $1,150

  1. While we’re on the topic of things that are too expensive (for me), how about putting one of your parents’/grandparents’/spouse’s handwritten recipes on a cutting board? I would totally cry if I got this. (I have also seen these on Etsy.)

Cutting Board

photo from orvis.com

Bespoke Cutting Board with Handwritten recipe– Orvis, $169

  1. You could pair it with a really great cookbook. Here are two I’m eyeing:

GBBO Baking Cookbook

photo from amazon.com

Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking– Amazon, $35.62

  1. Or this one…

Ina Garten Book

photo from amazon.com

Cook Like a Pro by Ina Garten– Amazon, $20.99

  1. At Orvis, I am in love with this beautiful bowl.

Live Edge Bowl

photo from orvis.com

Live Edge Wooden Bowl– Orvis, $39-$49

 

  1. Somehow I have veered back into Practical Gift Territory (why am I so hung up on practicality?) with this supposedly easy-to-use tree stand.

Tree Stand

photo from orvis.com

World’s Easiest Tree Stand– Orvis, $119

The tree stand would be for my husband, which got me to thinking about gifts he’s actually liked – in particular, a couple of “of the month” clubs.

  1. We did Craft Coffee for MANY years – he loved that you could customize by flavor profile, grind size, etc. I don’t speak coffee so you’ll have to take my word for it that a genuine coffee enthusiast LOVED this club.

Craft Coffee

photo from craftcoffee.com

Coffee Club– Craft Coffee, $29.99-$299.88, depending on duration of membership

  1. For the past year or so, he’s been getting his other love, peanut butter, in the mail every month. One jar of plain peanut butter, one jar of fun/weird/fancy/flavored peanut butter, each from a different small batch distributor. It’s really fun! Except that we have a thousand jars of peanut butter in our house at any given moment. And I don’t like peanut butter.

PB Club

photo from amazingclubs.com

Peanut Butter Club– Amazing Clubs, $74.85-$275.40, depending on duration of membership

  1. Now this is more MY kind of club.

Gin of the Month Club

photo from spiritedgifts.com

 

Gin of the Month Club– Spirited Gifts, $225.00

  1. And of course you’d need to give some high quality tonic to go with all that gin.

Jack Rudy Tonic Trio

photo from orvis.com

Jack Rudy Tonic Trio– Orvis, $30

  1. I think you can assume if you know me in person, you’ll be getting a tea towel chosen to fit your personality at some point during our relationship.

Gin Tea Towel

photo from uncommongoods.com

Gin Lover’s Tea Towel– Uncommon Goods, $14.00

  1. I don’t normally advocate gifting art, but this is so pleasing.

Gin Print

photo from etsy.com

Gin and Tonic Wall Print– Everlong Print Co, $27.80-$59.56, depending on size

  1. This “tea” mug makes me giggle.

Gin Mug

photo from etsy.com

Gin Mug– We Are Paper Plane, $13.17

  1. Speaking of clubs, which we were a moment ago, Zingerman’s has some really drool-worthy ones:

Meat-and-Cheese-Club

cartoon from zingermans.com

Cured Meat & Cheese Club– Zingerman’s, $125 (3 months) or $250 (6 months)

  1. Do I wish I were the kind of person who needed a specialty Reuben kit? Yes, yes, I do.

Reuben

cartoon from zingermans.com

Legendary Reuben Sandwich Kits– Zingerman’s, $150-$200

  1. Mmmmm bacon.

 

Bacon Month

cartoon from zingermans.com

 

Bacon of the Month Club– Zingerman’s, $99-$400

  1. You don’t need to join a club to send the gift of bacon, though. I sent a bacon sampler to my dad for Christmas that’s less of a bacon commitment.

Bacon Sampler

photo from nueskes.com

Applewood Smoked Bacon Sampler– Nueske’s, $34.99

  1. And I am getting him this, as well, because it’s cute:

Bacon Pig

photo from surlatable.com

Bacon Bin Grease Holder– Sur la Table, $13.95

  1. Obligatory adorable bacon tea towel (and accompanying fried egg towel).

Bacon My Heart

photo from etsy.com

Bacon My Heart Tea Towel– A2D Creations, $17.95 (for two towels)

  1. And did you know there is a whole category of song lyric-pun tea towels?

Song Lyric Towels

photo from etsy.com

Song Lyric Towels– Kings Custom Design, $10.00 (for three towels)

  1. And there is also the song lyric-pun category in mugs…

Big Books Mug

photo from etsy.com

I Like Big Books Mug– The Scribble Studio, $22.95

  1. Might as well get something to put IN the mug. How about this fun variety gift for the tea lover in your life?

Tea Ornaments

photo from worldmarket.com

12 Days of Tea Ornament Gift– World Market, $14.99

  1. Or these tea drops, which I think are kind of like instant tea? I’m not sure, but I would love to try them!

Tea Drops

photo from amazon.com

Tea Drops Sampler– Amazon, $12.99

  1. I drink tea every day, so I feel the irresistible pull of a number of mugs. Here’s one for your Target-loving friend aka all your friends.

Target Mug

photo from etsy.com

Target Mug– The Bling Bling, $14.85

  1. And if you happen to know any writerly folks, I am SURE this will come in handy (she says, as she “overcomes writer’s block” by creating a massive and unnecessary gift guide).

Procrastinating Mug

photo from etsy.com

Procrastinating Mug– Unique Gift Ideas Shop, $17.95

  1. I am not sure how I would explain this mug to my five-year-old, but it makes me smile every time I see it.

Fox Sake Mug

photo from etsy.com

Fox Sake Mug– Lovely Panda Company, $20.00

  1. And, while I take issue with the comma placement on this one, I enjoy the message immensely:

Not Reading Mug

photo from etsy.com

Not Reading Enough Mug– Tea Please Co UK, $14.23

  1. Speaking of not reading enough, here’s a book I want. I bet you can think of someone who could benefit from Eleanor Roosevelt’s wise words.

Eleanor Roosevelt

photo from amazon.com

You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt– Amazon, $13.49

If you too are in the market for some good reading material, here are some books I read this year and loved and can recommend without reservation:

  1. So much tragedy in this novel spanning a life, but also a lot of humor, and somehow it works out to be very uplifting:

Invisible Furies

photo from amazon.com

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne – Amazon, $11.59

  1. I had NO IDEA that shipping tragedies was a whole sub-genre of books! This was fantastic. It reminded me a lot of the mini-series The Terror (which was itself based on a book), but it was GREAT. Engaging and different from my normal murder-mystery fare and really well-written.

North Water

photo from amazon.com

The North Water by Ian McGuire – Amazon, $10.87

  1. Every story in this collection is perfect.

Assassination

photo from amazon.com

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hillary Mantel – Amazon, $14.51

  1. This is non-fiction for writers and word nerds. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot – although I still disagree with the author’s position on en dashes.

World Without Whom

photo from amazon.com

A World Without Whom by Emily J. Favilla – Amazon, $14.27

  1. Of course, while you are – or, ahem, the person for whom you are buying a gift is – reading one of the above, you’ll need a fancy bookmark:

Personalized Leather Bookmark

photo from etsy.com

Personalized Leather Bookmark– Mayaa Co, $14.99

  1. Last summer, in a little gift shop in the woods, I found a beautiful bookmark for a friend. It was made of inlaid wood, and I loved it. Here’s something similar:

Wooden Bookmark

photo from etsy.com

Handcrafted Wooden Bookmark– R Moore Wood Creations, $7.95

  1. Or this beautiful laser cut option…

Wooden Bookmark Mitercraft

photo from mitercraft.com

Arches Design Laser Cut Wooden Bookmark– Mitercraft, $15.95

  1. What about some reader-friendly coffee, so you can get through one more chapter?

Readers Fuel Coffee

photo from bookloverscoffee.com

Reader’s Fuel Coffee– Book Lovers Coffee, $12.50

Does this list have enough kitchen towels yet? I didn’t think so. I really am a sucker for towels. Our first set of towels has been worn out, so I recently bought a pack each of kitchen towels from Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table. They are GREAT. And it’s so pleasing to have fresh, new towels hanging above my sink and filling up my laundry room cupboards.

  1. The Williams Sonoma are thick and fluffy, and, true to their name, very absorbent.

Towels WS

photo from williams-sonoma.com

 

Multi-Pack Absorbent Kitchen Towels– Williams Sonoma, $19.96 (for three towels)

  1. The Sur la Table towels are excellent multi-purpose towels, and I love the soft blue. (Although the towels come in many other colors.)

Towels SLT

photo from surlatable.com

Striped Kitchen Towels– Sur la Table, $14.95 (for three towels)

  1. Of course, I also have a deep fondness for amusing towels – which I never buy for myself, and which I therefore think of as Great Gift Fodder. I put this taco one on my wish list for Christmas this year.

Taco Tea Towel

photo from etsy.com

Taco Tea Towel– Kitch Studios, $10.00

  1. I mean, why isn’t this in my kitchen RIGHT NOW…?

 

Taco Dreams Tea Towel

photo from etsy.com

 

Taco Dreams Tea Towel– Paper Berry Press, $15.95

  1. Speaking of tacos, which we should be, always, here’s a way to celebrate someone’s taco adoration on something besides a tea towel.

Taco T Shirt

photo from etsy.com

Taco T-Shirt– Nine to None, $22.95

  1. Turns out the same Etsy store has a TON of cute T-shirts. I am very fond of this astrological T slash warning label; you must know someone who needs this, yes? (Other astrological signs available too.)

Pisces T Shirt

photo from etsy.com

Pisces AF T-Shirt– Nine to None, $22.95

  1. There is always this adorable tee for your bookish friend or family member.

Good Day to Read T Shirt

photo from etsy.com

It’s a Good Day to Read T-Shirt– Nine to None, $22.95

  1. This is cute – bees are great (and they are currently trendy from both environmental and subversive perspectives).

Save the Bees T Shirt

photo from etsy.com

Save the Bees T-Shirt– Nine to None, $22.95

  1. Speaking of bees, I would love this fancy bee shirt from Kate Spade.

Bee Pullover

photo from katespade.com

Bee Embellished Pullover– Kate Spade, $160 (down from $228) (oh no! This is now sold out in most sizes except for XXS and XS. BOO!)

  1. There HAS to be other bee-wear out there, right? Ah yes, here we are… A lovely navy tee with bees on it. Well, I have used all of my very extensive knowledge to try to get a photo of this shirt here for you and… I failed. So you will have to click to see it. Sorry.

Bee Print Top– Forever 21, $10.90

  1. Here’s a waterproof option for your bee-wear desires. I mean gifting.

Bee Raincoat

photo from nordstrom.com

Bee Print Joules Right as Rain Packable Hooded Raincoat– Nordstrom, $74.95

  1. And bee print rainboots to go with it!

Bee Welly

photo from nordstrom.com

Bee Print Molly Welly Rain Boot– Nordstrom, $72.95

  1. This is very much my personal style, but alas, I didn’t find it until after I sent out my gift list. Oh well. Perhaps you know someone who will give it a proper home?

Bee Bracelet

photo from nordstrom.com

3D Bee Open Bangle Bracelet– Nordstrom, $85.00

  1. I am not sure I would spend $17 on a keychain, but I do LIKE this one, and if I had a friend who was REALLY into bees, I would strongly consider it.

Bee Keychain

photo from papyrusonline.com

Bee Keychain– Papyrus, $16.95

  1. I really like the idea of bee footwear, and these Toms are really cute. To be fair, the critters featured aren’t all bees. I’m okay with it.

Bug Loafers

photo from toms.com

Embroidered Bugs Slip On Shoes– Toms, $34.99 (down from $59.99)

This makes me wonder why J. Crew isn’t ALL OVER the bee trend. That seems right up their sartorial alley.

Without a bee theme to adhere to, I admit that clothes are tough to give (and receive) as gifts. I’d much rather have a Stitch Fix gift card than a sweater I might not wear. But I couldn’t resist putting these – very practical – items on the list.

  1. Who doesn’t need a beautiful sweater coat? I could totally see myself, I mean, a friend, wearing this over the Pisces T-shirt, clad in the bee wellies, sipping from the fox mug, whilst gazing out over the ocean. It’s a lot of look, to be sure, but someone could pull it off. And that someone is me. I mean, your friend.

Fair Isle Sweater Coat

photo from orvis.com

Fair Isle Sweater Coat– Orvis, $169.00

  1. These are definitely on my own wish list. They will turn your favorite boots into warm, cozy winter wear. (Boots not included.)

Hunter Boot Socks

photo from hunterboots.com

Hunter Boot Socks– Hunter Boots, $50.00

  1. I don’t know about you, but I can never have enough leggings. I have it on good authority (whose, I don’t remember) that these are da bomb. (Do people still say “da bomb” anymore?)

Zella Leggings

photo from nordstrom.com

Zella High Waist Leggings– Nordstrom, $54.00

  1. Along with bringing back early ’00s slang, I am ALL FOR the return of the fanny pack. Especially when the options are so chic.

Belt Bag

photo from markandgraham.com

Belt Bag– Mark and Graham, $99.00

  1. I love this beautiful celestial necklace.

Star Necklace

photo from anthropologie.com

 

Night Sky Charm Necklace – Anthropologie, $58

  1. As we have moved on to accessories, I am a sucker for gadgets that are supposed to give you beautiful, bouncy curls, and this headband looks like a fun and easy way to achieve that.

SoCal Curls

photo from socalcurls.com

No heat waves – SoCal Curls, $18.99+

  1. And then there’s this fun ponytail holder. Give someone in your life the gift of that rockin’ pony, won’t you?

Pony O

photo from ponyo.com

Pony-O Hair Holder– Pony O, $14.96

  1. Luxurious hand cream is something I ask for every year and have received exactly once. This year, I bought some for myself and I love it.

Hand cream

photo from beautycounter.com

Holiday Hand Cream Trio– Beauty Counter, $30

  1. My husband really wants some thick socks for cold winter afternoons spent watching football. This L. L. Bean option looks like a decent possibility.

Socks LLB

photo from llbean.com

Boot Socks– L. L. Bean, $19.95

  1. I think he’d like these slipper socks… but he expressly said NOT slippers, so I can’t decide if these are out of the running yet.

Slipper socks

photo from llbean.com

Knit Slipper Socks– L. L. Bean, $34.99

  1. Maybe he really needs a cozy throw to snuggle under. And if he doesn’t, you probably know someone who does.

Throw

photo from eddiebauer.com

Cabin Fleece Throw– Eddie Bauer, $52.50

We have reached the Kid Friendly Options portion of this gift guide. If “kid friendly” means “appropriate for my particular kid, who is roughly five years old.”

  1. I have been eyeing this educational get-stuff-in-the-mail science kit, perfect for the aspiring scientist.

Science Club

photo from stevespanglerscience.com

Spangler Science Club– Steve Spangler Science, $19.99-$219.99, depending on duration of subscription

  1. Ooooh, and I can personally endorse Kiwi Crates, because Carla has been getting crates every month for over a year. She LOVES them. They satisfy her need to build and craft and my need to feel like I’m teaching her something. There’s a crate for pretty much every age range, too, so if you have a child in your life, I highly recommend this.

Kiwi Crate

photo from kiwico.com

Kiwi Crate – Kiwi Co, $19.95-$203.40 (for the 5- to 8-year-old kit) depending on how many months you sign up for

  1. Speaking of Carla’s – and anyone else’s – need to craft, I am loving Kid Made Modern. I have given the kits as gifts, we have some of their smaller kits (in fact, we gave Carla the Go Wild craft kit for Hanukkah), and I can’t get enough. I think Carla would LOVE this library of art supplies, and I bet any kid would feel the same.

Arts & Crafts Library

photo from kidmademodern.com

Arts & Crafts Supply Library– Kid Made Modern, $39.99

  1. We have several of these little Polly-pocket-style toys. I find that they are the perfect size to hide in my purse and use to distract Carla while I’m getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist/waiting for my oil to be changed/trying to chat with my husband over a much-needed dinner out. It’s a good in-the-car toy, too. It could make a great stocking stuffer for a kid in your life.

Shopkins Secret Lock

photo from amazon.com

Shopkins Secret Lock– Amazon, $8.25 (usually these are $9.99; you can get them at Target, too)

  1. Carla is deathly afraid of bandages, but these would be a great stocking stuffer for almost anyone else.

Unicorn bandages

photo from papyrusonline.com

Unicorn Bandages– Papyrus $9.95

  1. Speaking of stocking stuffers, I suggest filling someone’s stocking with a pile of tiny snowpeople. We got these a few years ago, ostensibly as Christmas decorations. Carla LOVES them – there is something pretty wonderful about a dozen mini snowpeople cascading across your bed or dresser. I can’t really imagine I paid $23 for them though – that seems steep. But I suppose worthwhile, considering we’ve already gotten at least three years of fun out of them. (I guess you have to imagine the other eight?)

Dozen snowmen

photo from amazon.com

One Dozen Plush Snowmen– Amazon, $22.93

  1. This stained glass sticker kit makes for a fun, quiet activity for kids during those looooooong winter days.

Stained Glass Kit

photo from amazon.com

Melissa and Doug Stained Glass Activity Kit– Amazon, $8.59

  1. Carla got this camera for her birthday and she loves it. It’s very sturdy and easy to use, and it takes videos in addition to photos and selfies. Perfect for the pint sized photographer in your life.

Kids Camera

photo from amazon.com

Vtech Kidzoom Camera Pix– Amazon, $29.82

  1. Carla saw one of these at Barnes & Noble the other day (although I can’t find it on their site), and fell in love. I mean, it’s a stuffed animal with those so-hot-right-now changeable sequins; what’s not to love?

Sequin Owl

photo from amazon.com

Large Plush Sequin Owl– Amazon, $18.99

It also comes in a smaller, less expensive version, even though the image makes it look identical in size…

Sequin Owl Small

photo from amazon.com

Small Plush Sequin Owl– Amazon, $9.99

I think books make the best gifts (you can never have too many!), but I don’t have many on my For Carla list this year.

87. However, I do really want to get her this Mrs. Piggle Wiggle box set.

Piggle Wiggle

photo from amazon.com

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle Set– Amazon, $27.89

If you are looking for book ideas for the three- to seven-year-old set, some of her current favorites include…

88. This perfect-for-cat-lovers book all about how similar we all are despite our differences.

Cat Book

photo from amazon.com

I Am a Cat by Galia Bernstein – Amazon, $15.61

  1. This beautifully illustrated poem about Cuba’s first female drummer.

Drum Dream Girl

photo from amazon.com

Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle and Rafael Lopez – Amazon, $16.31

  1. This two-book series about a sentient robot. (FYI, the story might not be appropriate for all kids. It references guns a few times, and some creatures get killed, which I wasn’t crazy about. But it was a good story and Carla was absolutely rapt through both books.)

Wild Robot

photo from amazon.com

The Wild Robot Hardcover Gift Set– Amazon, $21.88

  1. This gentle book that I loved as a kid; it’s still as lovely and imaginative as it was a billion years ago.

Sand Cake

photo from amazon.com

Sand Cake by Frank Asch – Amazon, $7.99

  1. This vividly illustrated book about being yourself.

Tiger Goes Wild

photo from amazon.com

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown – Amazon, $13.89

  1. And maybe a plush tiger to go with it…

Plush Tiger

photo from amazon.com

Aurora World Bengal Tiger Cub– Amazon, $10.94

  1. Or you could gift your favorite animal lover with four plush animals of your choice, with your donation in support of wildlife and nature…

Tiger WWF

photo from worldwildlife.org

Build Your Own Bucket– World Wildlife Fund, $75

  1. Also for the Big Cat lover, how about this gorgeous tiger puzzle…

Tiger Puzzle

photo from worldwildlife.org

Tiger Puzzle– World Wildlife Fund, $55

  1. Speaking of puzzles, my husband is a BIG puzzle fan, and this 2,000 piece beauty was a fun challenge (it’s enormous, though)…

Truffle Puzzle

photo from amazon.com

Springbok Tin of Treats Puzzle– Amazon, $24.99

  1. This puzzle also looks like it would fit my husband’s criteria: lots of discrete sections to work on, not a lot of blank space. Maybe you know a puzzle fan who has similar specifications?

Book Puzzle

photo from amazon.com

Vintage Book Covers Puzzle– Amazon, $17.99

  1. I may have also signed him up for a Puzzle of the Month club, which you may want to consider for the puzzle fanatic in your life. It’s such a good price for puzzles!

Puzzle of the month

photo from puzzlewarehouse.com

Puzzle of the Month Club– Puzzle Warehouse, $9.99 – $179.99

I see we have moved out of “kid friendly gift options” and into “family friendly gift options,” so might I suggest some games?

  1. My in-laws got Carla Operation for Hanukkah, and it’s just as fun – and challenging – as it was when I was a wee girl. (And it ENDS. Unlike some other kid games.) (I’m looking at you, Candyland!)

Operation

photo from amazon.com

Operation– Amazon, $11.83

  1. And we love Codenames and have gotten it for all our family members. It’s really fun.

Codenames

photo from amazon.com

Codenames– Amazon, $14.89

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Perhaps you are looking for some last-minute Christmas gifts? Or maybe you just like reading about what other people enjoy. In either case, here are some things that I am loving lately (and just to be clear, I am not getting ANYTHING in return for recommending any of these; I either bought them myself or received them as gifts):

Chef’n ZipStrip Herb Zipper

1-herb-zipper

Photo from surlatable.com

Okay, I didn’t realize this had such a ridiculous name. But it’s awesome. I got a bunch for people as stocking stuffers last year – including myself – and I use it ALL the time. It’s on sale for $6.36 at Sur La Table, if you have any people who like to cook on your Christmas list. 

Anthurium Plant

 

2-anthurium

Photo from homedepot.com

This summer, I was looking for a red lamp to add to my new office and I could not for the life of me find one I liked. But I DID find a really pretty plant with red leaf-like flowers (in a red ceramic pot) at my local Home Depot. I know, a plant does not have the same functionality as a lamp. But if you think of the lamp as more of an accessory, you will see how the plant fit the bill. ANYWAY. It is an anthurium plant, which seems to be a type of orchid. And it’s super easy to care for: I just put a few ice cubes in it each Monday and it remains lovely and shiny all week long. If you have someone in your life who isn’t great at caring for plants but who loves them AND has easy access to ice cubes, this could be the perfect gift. Okay, I am giving the Home Depot site the side-eye because I did NOT pay $32.99 for my anthurium. I can’t imagine paying any more than $15 for it. Maybe $20. I kind of want to dig through my old receipts just to prove it. Perhaps it is seasonally more expensive. If so, it would make an excellent Christmas in July gift.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling

3-kung-fu-girl

Photo from kvintners.com

Riesling is my favorite type of white wine. My mantra used to be, the sweeter, the better. But my palate might be changing or maturing or something (unlikely) and I have gravitated to drier wines of late. Kung Fu Girl is my current go-to. It’s probably what I would call semi-dry, so there is a hint of sweetness there. But it’s crisp and clean and also, bonus, I can usually find it for $10.99 at my local grocery store. I’ve also seen it at World Market, if you have one near you.

Lands’ End Shimmer Down Long Coat

4-coat

Photo from landsend.com

We live in an area of the country whose winters include snow and cold temperatures. And I happen to possess the variety of child who loves snow more than anything in life. So last year, my husband bought me a down coat from Lands’ End.  It was longer than I wanted it to be – it came all the way down to the tops of my boots (also from Lands’ End). And I felt like a marshmallow. BUT. It is AMAZING. I can be wearing a t-shirt-weight shirt and jeans, and as long as I have that coat on, I feel NOTHING. I can play in the snow with Carla for hours (or until her face is red and I have to drag her inside). I can even lie down in the snow and make snow angels and feel NOTHING. It’s truly the best. And Lands’ End has really good sales on a regular basis. It’s a bit pricy at $199, but if you get a code for 40% off, you’re looking at a much more reasonable $119 for a really great, really warm coat. Oh. I just now “got” why it’s called “Shimmer Down.” I say “got” because you CAN make a pun on “simmer down” just because the coat is made of down doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

UGG Tasman Genuine Shearling Gloves

5-ugg-gloves

Photo from amazon.com

Speaking of warm, these gloves are the softest, fuzziest, warmest gloves ever. Obviously, you can’t text with them on or anything. But I find they are perfect for driving before your car’s heater has kicked in. Or for, you know, being outside in general. They are pricey, at $140, but I looooooove mine so I think they might be worth it.

Bedford Cottage Eskimo Throw

6-eskimo-blanket

Photo from bedfordcottage.com

Perhaps you can tell that it is only 15 degrees here, based on these last three items. Well, I am in love with this faux fur throw, which is currently draped over my legs. It’s super soft and warm, but I also love it because it looks like it belongs on a chaise longue in some fancy catalog and makes me feel like the type of person you might refer to as “stylish” and “put together” and less like the type of person whose living room has seventy five Amazon boxes stacked in one corner and a bright blue toddler-height table with red, green, and yellow chairs in another corner and a giant bear from Costco behind the couch and the detritus of a Doc McStuffins vet station scattered across the hearth and pieces of a menorah puzzle strewn like tiny land mines about the carpet. You can buy it via the link above for $149, which I did not; I got it as a gift. But it’s possibly that you could find it elsewhere for less.

Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp 1.7-Liter Stainless Steel Cordless Electric Kettle

 

7-tea-kettle

Photo from amazon.com

I drink tea every day, and this water boiler has made it very very very simple. Just fill and press a button. And there are all sorts of temperature variations, so you can set it to the proper temperature for green tea… or black tea… or oolong… or whatever.  My husband – a coffee drinker – uses it too; on weekend for pour-over coffee. I really like that it maintains a specific temperature, too – just in case a toddler suddenly urgently needs you to come help her find proper socks. It cost $73?!?! Sheesh. That seems… excessive. Although it DOES do a nice job. And I really have no concept for how much these things do/should cost. 

Carole Hochman Ladies’ 3 Pair Ribbed Lounge Sock

 

8-costco-socks

Photo from costco.com

I grabbed a three-pack of these socks at Costco the last time we were there (what’s a trip to Costco without grabbing something that you simultaneously NEED URGENTLY and also had no idea you needed/didn’t need at all?) and they are sooooo soft and warm and cozy. They don’t look like much from the picture, but they are cushy and plush and I love them. Also: $5.99.

Laura Mercier Hand Crème Sampler

9-laura-mercier-hand-creme

Photo from amazon.com

Well, crud. I see this is either $51 through Amazon or not available. My husband got it for me last Christmas, and it was a PERFECT stocking stuffer. I wash my hands a bajillion times a day, so they get very dry. And there’s nothing less appealing than that powdery feeling of dry skin – well, I suppose cracked and bleeding finger webs are less appealing. I think it was, at one point, around $30 at Nordstrom. (And, keeping in mind that each of us is comfortable paying certain amounts for certain things and not for others, I find that $30 seems just on the high side of reasonable while $51 has me shaking my head emphatically NO.) I have just in the past month squeezed the very last glob of lotion from the very last sample and I would enjoy getting this again and again each year. Also, if you don’t want to gift someone ALL of the little lotions, you could certainly open up the box and give one sample to multiple people. Including, perhaps, yourself. Of course, all this is MOOT because it No Longer Exists. But I’m sure there are many other good hand lotion sets in the world.

Scrivener

10-scrivener

Photo from literatureandlatte.com

This may be a bit of a niche idea, but as a (would-be/trying-to-be/hopes-to-be) writer, I use this every single day. I never thought that I would like a writing platform more than I do plain old Microsoft Word. But I LOVE Scrivener. It’s very intuitive and user friendly AND it has a very simple tutorial on how to use it, just in case. It makes putting together your novel (or screenplay, I imagine) very simple. No more scrolling down in a long document, or opening multiple documents. You just create a new chapter or chapter-part inside an outline, and then you can move parts and pieces around with the flick of your mouse, OR read your entire manuscript in one flowing document. Plus, it allows you to assign (and customize) keywords to each bit of text, from which characters show up to things you need to research to plot points and dates – which you can then use to help you organize the manuscript in different ways, like, you can see at one glance every chapter featuring your villain. It’s fabulous and it’s only $45 and I love it so. If only it could do the writing for me…

Matymats Grippy Yoga Socks and Stargoods Yoga Gloves 

Photos from amazon.com

I have newly taken on yoga as part of my at-home exercise routine. Which means I have newly discovered that my feet and palms sweat when I do yoga. What can I say. The body is a mysterious wonderland. These socks and gloves help A LOT. No more sliding around while I’m trying to do downward facing dog or a triangle pose or other horrific contortion of limbs that my body is clearly not meant to perform. Both are about $15, but both come with multiple pairs of socks/gloves, which means I can match them to my sports bra. (No.)

 

Good luck with any last-minute shopping you are doing!

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