Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

I am sad and my foot hurts and I have too many things to do but instead I keep bouncing back and forth between reading awful news articles and researching gun control legislation, so I am going to distract myself by blogging for a few minutes. 

Today as I was putting away the groceries (this is the THIRD trip to the grocery store I have made this week, which is a testament to how important it is to MEAL PLAN in advance because I did not do that this week and now here we are), I came across a giant five-pound bag of sugar that I bought in 2020 during the height of the sugar/flour shortage. I remember spotting it at Costco, alongside enormous industrial sized bags of flour and snapping it up with glee and relief. It has remained in my basement lo these many years. 

Well, my sugar container is looking a bit wan, so I will use the five-pound bag to refill it. My sugar container does not hold five pounds of sugar, though, so… I’m not really sure what to do with the remainder. That’s what gallon-size Ziploc storage bags are for, I suppose.

(The reason I need to refill the sugar container is because I am making cupcakes. They were supposed to do double duty: 1. They were to be dessert for an evening with friends, who were scheduled to come for dinner this weekend. 2. They were to be a special birthday surprise for our neighbor, who has become one of Carla’s favorite people on the planet; when Carla found out it was the neighbor’s birthday, she insisted that we make cupcakes. Anyway, the friends are no longer coming but the neighbor is still having a birthday, so I am still making cupcakes.) 

Pulling out the five-pound bag of sugar did jolt me back, a bit, into those dark days of the early pandemic. Not that the days have gotten a whole lot brighter, in many senses, pandemic and otherwise. But things are different. We no longer buy two jars of pickles a week, for one thing. I still note that we are getting low on paper towels or toilet paper, but I don’t fret. I raised my eyebrows when I saw that cream cheese was in very low supply (and zero of the Philadelphia brand was available), but I didn’t grab more boxes than I need for the cupcake recipe. The peanut butter shelves were near-empty, but that’s because of the Jif recall, not because peanut butter is no longer available. (Our giant two-pack of Jif was in the affected batch; we’d already eaten one entire jar but the other was unopened.) I have been gradually and purposefully whittling down our supply of frozen meat, rather than rushing out to refill it. 

I know things are still far from pre-pandemic “normal.” The note about “only four packages of baby formula per person” at my Target is a glaring example of that fact. But I do worry less. 

On the illness front: I have given Carla a Covid test before school every day this week. She keeps waking up with a sore throat or sniffles (that do seem to magically disappear by the time we leave for school), and I just don’t want to take a chance. Plus, Covid is rampant in her grade, with four and five cases per class as of last week (except in Carla’s class, so far). We are five days out from the end of the school year, and it would be amazing if she could make it the whole way… but that seems increasingly unlikely. 

My family continues to wear masks in public, indoor spaces. I am accustomed to wearing one that I don’t really notice anymore how many people are or aren’t wearing masks. I haven’t been hassled. My husband thinks that our road trip later this summer will take us through a lot of areas where masking will be non-existent, and I wonder if we’ll be hassled then; we’ll see. Carla’s school went mask-optional a long time ago, and we allowed Carla to make her own choice about whether to wear one or not. She enthusiastically chose NOT. We have been urging her, as cases at school and in her grade have crept up, to reconsider, and I think she IS wearing a mask at least some of the time. But it’s hard to know. When you are eight, it is extremely difficult to understand abstract non-immediate consequences. 

We are in the very, very privileged position of not having any underlying health issues ourselves, and not having any immunocompromised people in our household or classroom/work situation to worry about so we are more relaxed than some. I don’t know much about Long Covid, so that does worry me a little. We are of course willing and happy to take stronger measures if necessary – like I am always happy to throw on a mask if a friend is wearing one, and I don’t insist on going out for coffee when it is perfectly acceptable to have coffee at my house. But I feel like we have reached a level of comfort and regularity with how we protect ourselves. More than ever, it feels like contracting Covid is inevitable. We have been so lucky not to have it (or to have had such mild cases it went through us undetected); that luck is bound to run out.  

We are looking at a nice long weekend ahead of us. I finally got some flowers into the flowerpots in my front and back yard, and that makes me feel much better about things. They were looking so dejected and depressed; now they have little bright spots of color. (Except for the pot that has been designated as Carla’s. She went with me to pick out the flowers, and she fell in love with some black petunias. She would have had all our pots full of black flowers if it were up to her. Instead, I bought her a black petunia and gave her her own pot. And then filled up the other flower pots with purple and yellow and pink.)

I am very disappointed that our friends are no longer coming. We haven’t seen them since February, and they are the kind of people whose social calendars fill up months in advance so the next time they can work us in is August. (In fact, we’d originally been scheduled to have them over for dinner in April, but they accidentally double-booked us and had to back out of that; late May was the first available option way back in March when they realized the issue.) So I am disappointed and cranky about that. Especially because I already bought – literally – ten Roma tomatoes so I can make salsa and five avocados so I can make guacamole. I guess my little family will be feasting on salsa and guacamole all weekend. Perhaps I can coax our neighbor to come over for a little birthday fiesta? 

In my planning for the dinner party, I totally forgot about the long weekend. So this morning I planned out our meals on the fly, mid-produce section. In addition to chips, salsa, guacamole, and strawberry cupcakes, here’s what we will be eating:

  • Ground Beef Tacos: Carla squealed with delight when I told her we will be having tacos. Same, Carla. Same.
  • Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Chicken, and Goat Cheese: I will be using regular strawberries this time, not pineberries. Also, I like to use a mix of spinach and arugula because I dislike spinach. Also also, I am going to make my favorite balsamic dressing instead of the raspberry vinaigrette. 
  • Steak Kebabs: This may end up being steaks and veggies instead because my husband has a very interesting aversion to cooking shish kebabs. Even if I am the one who threads the food onto the skewers AND grills the skewers, he is very… hesitant about it. I am choosing to see this quirk as cute.
  • Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas: This is what I planned to make for our friends. It’s fairly keto-friendly and always delicious.
  • Greek Chicken Chopped Salad: Unfortunately, I could not find any fresh oregano so I will need to go to the grocery store YET AGAIN. I will use that opportunity to buy more berries; I cannot get enough strawberries right now.

Salads and tacos. Sounds pretty great to me.

What are you up to this weekend? If you live in the U.S., are you doing anything special for Memorial Day?

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

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

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

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

image from carters.com

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

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

image from target.com

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

image from target.com

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

image from target.com

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

image from target.com

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

image from target.com

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

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

image from amazon.com

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

image from amazon.com

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

image from target.com

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

image from amazon.com

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

Image from amazon.com

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

image from amazon.com

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

image from Nordstrom.com

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

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

Why is this hard?

Dinners for the Week of April 11-April 17

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

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

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

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

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

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I am having a grumpy morning. Part of that is due to Carla having a surprise! day off of school (think broken furnace, frozen pipes kind of reason) when she was just off for FIVE CONSECUTIVE DAYS and part of it is that I got some feedback that was honest and thoughtful and nonetheless hurt my feelings and made me question my life choices and part of it is that I still don’t feel great after my booster.

I am going to tell you about my booster, for blog-record-keeping purposes, and for your own anecdotal-data collection purposes. But I want to be clear that I am GLAD I got my booster, and that a robust immune response is supposedly A Good Sign, so I am not complaining (well, a little) but instead reporting. I got my booster Sunday afternoon. I arrived at the pharmacy 15 minutes before my appointment, which is when I realized that I forgotten my vaccine card. (I did this with my second vaccine; now I have THREE vaccine cards SIGH.) The pharmacist was unfazed by my lack of physical vaccine card; I told her I had a photo of it on my phone and she was fine with that. She had me sit in a VERY little cubicle. She asked which arm I wanted and told me it was okay to take Tylenol later if I needed it; she said she’d gotten feedback that most people have a sore arm and feel a little achy starting about 6 to 8 hours post-booster. She injected me with the booster, applied a bandaid, and said goodbye.

I got the Moderna booster; my vaccines were Pfizer. By ten p.m.-ish I was starting to feel a little yucky, but that could have been the power of suggestion or the beginning of a long-weekend hangover. When I woke up Monday morning, I felt awful – achy and tired and shivery and off. My arm was very sore. My glands were swollen and painful to the touch. I had a fever of 100.9, so I took some Tylenol, fed Carla and drove her to school, and returned home and climbed into bed. I sleep for about an hour, but when I woke up, I stayed in bed, feeling yuckier and yuckier. At 2:30, I had a temperature of 101.7. When I picked up Carla, I felt so bad waiting in the car line that I kept running through little worst-case scenarios: would I pull over into the nearby parking spaces? Was my in-case-of-emergency friend still in the car line herself, so I could ask her to get Carla for me? Would we both get into her car? Did I have an extra booster seat? Did I have a mask? When I got home my temperature was 103.3, so I looked up whether I could take ibuprofen (the pharmacist had specified Tylenol, so I wasn’t sure). The CDC said I could take any NSAID, so I took some Advil and got back into bed. My bones and joints hurt. My skin stung – even the feeling of the fabric of my sweatshirt sliding over my stomach made me flinch. My eyes hurt. My neck and kidneys ached. I kept waiting for the time to switch over to 24 hours post vaccine, hoping either for the miraculous relief of my symptoms ending or for the sweet release of death. Neither came for me. As the night wore on, I felt slightly better. My skin stopped hurting, for instance. My fever was down to 100.6 when I went to bed

Today I feel MUCH better. My glands are still tender, but not quite as swollen. The site of the injection still hurts, both to the touch and with movement, but it’s not unbearable. My back hurts – but that could be from lying in bed all day. My head hurts and I feel a little wobbly. But no fever. My bones and skin are back to their normal state of only vocal when directly injured. 

AND – most important – I am BOOSTED. 

Carla gets her second vaccine in a few days (I set a reminder on my phone to remember her vaccine card!), and I am so excited for all of us to be vaccinated and boosted. It will be such a relief. And, frankly, even if we have to get boosted every six months and I have to have a day of yuck twice a year, it will be 100% worth it for the dip in Covid-anxiety I have enjoyed each time one of my family members has received a shot.  

Now, onto dinners this week.

Dinners for the Week of November 30-December 6

What are you eating this week?

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

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

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

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

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

I apparently drink coffee much darker than I do tea.

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

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

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

Dinners for the Week of November 22-November 28

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

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Shall we do another little shopping browse?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Typing that headline I had an image flash across my brain of myself, hovering over an aquarium, tending to a pet crab. That would be something.

Anyway, I continued to be crabby after I posted yesterday. At some point, I noticed that I had a canker sore on my upper gum line. And then I noticed another one on my upper lip right where it touches the bottom of my top tooth. And then as I was readying for bed, inspecting my face with all the critical attentiveness one musters for that act, I noticed that I have SEVERAL pimples. Hmm. Hmmmmmm. 

Aunt Flo no longer visits me each month (because of the birth control I take), so it can sometimes feel like I am delightfully exempt from her whims. But no. I still have hormonal ups and downs and APPARENTLY this is a down. Or an up. I’m not sure exactly what I’m saying but SOMETHING is amiss. 

Well. At least I can be (relatively) assured that the crabbiness will end. At some point. 

Today I went to Target. INSIDE of Target. I have been inside of Target once since last February. That was a Major Life Change, considering that I used to go about twice a month prior to the pandemic. My primary purpose was to buy Easter candy, which was extremely difficult to do via the curbside pickup option. But I also wanted to buy some birthday cards and a few other items – more stainless steel cleaning spray, more soap for Carla’s bathroom, some elastics for my hair (WHERE do they all GO?), some special mouthwash to address the stupid canker sores.

The last time I went to Target, also driven by Need of Holiday Candy, I found the whole experience to be very disquieting. This time it was much better! 

There was a staff member right inside the doors, wiping down the handles of the carts. That was nice, but they were using one of the wipes that used to be available to customers, and I don’t think I EVER saw any indication that those wipes were more than wet pieces of disposable cloth. Perhaps they are different now, who can say. I had remembered to bring my own Clorox wipe in with me, so I used it to re-wipe the handle. (I am aware that the chance of catching Covid from a surface is vanishingly small. And yet I was a germophobe long before this pandemic and my germophobia has, like my waistline, only amplified over the course of the past year.)

The $1 shelves were VERY picked over, as were the shelves that usher you into the store from the entryway. Usually they are stocked with chips or bags of candy or whatever; today they were mostly bare, except for a few dozen canisters of antibacterial wipes and a lone package of PopTarts.

The cleaning products aisles were, while not flush, adequately stocked. There were a few bare spots – none of my preferred wood polish, for instance – but they felt typical of pre-pandemic “needs restocking” levels, rather than “everyone is hoarding this item” levels. There was PLENTY of Clorox spray. And there was a whole new section of shelving filled with antibacterial wipes. (It seemed to me, going through the store, that anytime there were bare shelves, Target filled them with wipes. There were several end caps and mid-aisle shelves with wipes on them.) Including brand-name wipes, like Lysol and Clorox. Perhaps most amazing of all: I walked past them without putting a single canister of wipes in my cart. 

The soap section seemed well stocked. And the new-since-the-pandemic aisle of hand sanitizer was nearly full AND there was even some PURELL, which I haven’t seen in the wild in a year.  

An acquaintance who seems to Know Things said that the Suez Canal blockage might result in a toilet paper shortage, so I did get a package of toilet paper. Just a normal size one – not one of the 85-roll ones. 

As I was walking past the pharmacy, I overheard someone on the phone discussing the GoLytely shortage. (If you don’t know what GoLytely is, you will when you turn 50.) Of course I already knew about the GoLytely shortage – being married to a doctor FINALLY has some perks – but it was amusing to encounter it in real life. Also, I continue to find these random (and possibly totally unrelated to the pandemic) shortages FASCINATING.

Moving along to the grocery section: We did not need a lot of food items (I did just go to the grocery store), but I checked on pepperoni (none), Lunchables (only a handful, and of those, none that Carla would eat), frozen pancakes (YES! I grabbed two boxes), and taco seasoning (none of the canisters in my preferred brand, but plenty of packets). 

I DID find cinnamon bears. They tasted exactly the way I imagined/hoped/remembered they would. A very satisfying purchase.

The bag did not come ripped; I opened it IMMEDIATELY open arriving home, to quench my cinnamon bear thirst even before I photographed the bag for posterity.

I went a little wild in the gardening section. It’s been a long time since I tried to grow lettuce in my AeroGarden (it turns out that, despite my belief to the contrary and my best efforts, I am NOT a person who consumes enough basil and cilantro to make it worthwhile to grow ONLY those things), so I bought two varieties to try. I also saw some little mini tomatoes seeds and a package of sugar snap pea seeds; I have NO IDEA how I will grow them in my deer-infested yard, but I’m going to give it a go.

Then the Easter aisle. 

It was, as expected, VERY picked through. The Easter section takes up two half-aisles (four shelves total), plus a table at one end, plus six end caps, plus a separate row of shelving against the far wall. The two shelves and end caps were nearly completely bare. The table at one end had some items – mainly Peeps and Cadbury eggs – the kind with the goo inside, not the kind with the crunchy candy shell. The aisle with plastic fillable eggs and baking items was picked over but not empty. The shelving on the far wall had a haphazard selection of Easter basket items — Pez dispensers and children’s TV character-themed items — that had been well rummaged.

I was able to get my husband his requests (Reese’s Pieces eggs and Cadbury eggs, the crunchy shell kind) and I was able to find suitable candy for filling eggs for the egg hunt (individually wrapped things like Cookies and Crème bunnies, marshmallow eggs, and some Starburst minis) and for filling baskets (movie-theatre-style boxes of Sour Patch Kids and Nerds Gummy Clusters, some Snickers and Twix eggs, a box of yellow Peeps). 

I made the mistake of picking up and then putting down again the only bag of Cadbury eggs I could find… and then when I went back to get it, another mom had snapped it up. (There were three of us, picking through the wreckage.) I found two mini bags of the Cadbury eggs, and then saw an endcap near the checkout with a whole shelf of the large bags, so I got one of those as well. 

There were ZERO Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs in the store. ZERO. There were some with marshmallow or white chocolate on them – I didn’t really pause long enough to find out the details beyond the fact that they weren’t the Real Deal. And there were a couple of bags of mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. But NO EGGS. Luckily, I picked up two RPBEs (singles, not bags) at Walgreens the other day. But I am NOT SHARING THEM WITH MY FAMILY.

The main difference I found between Target-from-the-Before-Times and Target now was that the staff situation seemed to have improved dramatically. In the Before Times, it was very difficult to find a staff member at all, and if you spotted one, they were inevitably engaged in a heated and uninterruptible argument with the only other staff member in the store. But now I was approached not once but TWICE by staff people who asked me if I was finding everything okay. I mean, I don’t THINK I looked any more bewildered than usual, so I think they were just being proactively helpful. As I was walking to the checkout, one of the other moms from the Easter candy section called out, “I can’t find my cart!” and two staff people immediately descended upon her and one told her to wait there, she would get the cart for her. The checkout person was very nice and cheerful and non-invasive, AND she very carefully set aside my birthday cards so they wouldn’t get scrunched. It was a noticeable difference and one that I hope sticks around even in the After Times.

The checkout situation, despite the lovely staff person, has NOT improved, however. There were still only two checkouts open despite very long lines, made longer by carts full of Easter candy. I assume. That was the main contents of my cart, at least.

When I got home, I tested the cinnamon bears immediately after washing my hands. Then, later, I tested a Cookies and Crème bunny (delicious, especially the crunchy bits of cookie throughout) and a Hershey’s marshmallow egg (perplexing, with an odd spice taste that I couldn’t place – not cardamom, not anise, but… something). It amuses me, a bit, that I liked the Cookies and Crème Bunny as much as I did. Because I don’t really care for chocolate, the Easter Bunny always put something with white chocolate in my Easter basket. Very thoughtful of the Easter Bunny, really. But I do not care for white chocolate EITHER. It is possible that I like it less than actual chocolate.

In general, I’d say I gravitate more toward fruity candy. But my One True Candy – at least for the past few yearsdecade – has been the Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg. No other Reese’s Peanut Butter product can hold a candle to the OG RPBE. 

My husband has said, repeatedly, that Easter has the best candy options. His favorites, apparently, are Reese’s Pieces Eggs and Cadbury Mini Eggs. At some point, he must have liked Peeps because his mother always sends us more Peeps than a human should possibly own, let alone consume. (But that could be one of those misremembered Mom things; I would hazard to guess that my own mother would say I like white chocolate.)

Carla is easy. She likes anything sweet. 

Now I am interested in knowing about YOUR favorite Easter candy.

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