Saturday, December 16, 2017

Favorite Consumable Gifts

Thanks everyone for reading my post from Thursday regarding some of my favorite practical gifts. Many of you commented that receiving and giving consumables are well appreciated. I'm a fan of  gifts that have real usability and nothing speaks more to me than a little splurge of something I might not readily buy for myself. There is care needed in giving of consumable gifts. It can be real easy to get into a habit of finding a gift you think one person will like, then automatically buying same gift for multiple people. There still needs to be thought involved. I have a sister that loves chocolate covered macadamia nuts, not something a person just throws into their shopping cart on a regular basis. Another sister is deathly allergic to all tree nuts. See the problem? 

Killing siblings aside, a good consumable gift is one the recipient will enjoy, or minimally be able to use  in the company of others to enjoy, if you may not know their preferences particularly well. DD2 has four special extra music directors/teachers in her life right now. She'll give them each a coffee card with a box of candy, varieties she knows they like. She has had a grueling school year and has had several of her teachers reach out or she has come to them for extra help, a calm down, a "let's put this in perspective" conversation, or she just really enjoys the class. She wants to give each a thank you. She bought a box of mixed dark, milk, and white chocolate truffles for each of them. Hopefully, at least one type they will like, but they can share with their family, friends, or other school colleagues. 

Homemade gifts, particularly when a specialty of the gift giver are some of my favorite consumable items to receive. I make really good strawberry, mixed berry, and rhubarb mixed jams. I plan to give several jars this Christmas. When Sluggy, who happens to be doing a December give away  stopped in Minnesota on their cross country vacation, she shared with me a jar of her special pepper relish. As she said, it is so good on a brat, hot dog, or our favorites Italian Sausages. She lugged this to Utah and back to Minnesota-that is a thoughtful gift.

Refillable items, where the packaging is a gift of sorts, and contents are consumed may make people smile. These tins were to put aside a portion of my Puppy Chow and Chex Mix  before the first batches get all eaten, but equally could be used as a gift, and then refilled later for a subscription like gift. That was one of the raffle prizes at my work food shelf fundraiser holiday event. A colleague put two dozen cookies in a large Rubbermaid container with a card good for 6 refills throughout the year. Wasn't that clever?

It doesn't have to be food items. Think anything people like and use but needs to be replenished put together in bundles or individually as a thoughtful gift. Here's a short list of ideas:

  • Box of assorted greeting cards, and stamps
  • Stationary set and stamps-bring back old fashion real letter writing
  • Wrapping paper and bow bundle
  • Shampoo, conditioner, hair product,shower gel packs, or bought individually and bundled in a gift
  • Liquor
  • Small notepads, journal books, and a good pen or pack of pen
  • Hand soap with hand lotions
  • Bath spa items-bombs, milks, crystals, if you know the person is a bath taker
  • Make up palettes-This is a tricky one, but you may know what they want specifically
  • Car care kit-though I have to admit, this took the brunt of family jokes for a decade after this was one of DS's presents in college. A more mature recipient might not laugh at it so much. It was his version of getting a vacuum cleaner.
Feel free to continue this list in the comments. I try to remember though, the greatest gifts are those of love, time, and attention.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Feeling Good Friday-Really in the Holiday Spirit

We could have talked for hours, but left the restaurant at 7:15. It wasn't crowded, several tables were empty, so my friend and I didn't feel guilty extending our chat past our happy hour drinks and food. I hadn't seen L since August at the state fair, stupid dumb that we don't figure out more time. She and I met 26 years ago when we both started in the same field, but two different agencies. Two years later I joined her company where I stayed for 21 years, but she had left a decade before, to work for a national organization. That job let her telecommute for two years, then, she and her family moved to the DC area for four, before she resigned and came back to Minnesota. My son used to babysit for her two boys, before their move to DC. L has a nephew with the same name as my son. We spent tons of time together, to the point that her kids thought my kids were their actual cousins and were very confused to meet their real cousin. Good friends that you can pick up a conversation five months later and not skip a beet-that's what starts my feeling good Friday. 

  • My friend and I enjoyed festive cocktails-her a raspberry lemonade and me a vodka cranberry with a twist. In the alcohol area,second to my love of wine is a good vodka cocktail!
  • A second mandatory meeting, scheduled over our full day state meeting on Wednesday, could have spelled stress and chaos. We were able to adjust the first meeting agenda slightly, I left and returned, and both meetings were useful and productive.So productive, the part two meeting of the interruption meeting was cancelled. 
  • I'm thankful for antihistamines, honey, lemon, and vinegar. DD2 has had 12 hours of either choir rehearsal or caroling and has her big concerts on Saturday. Her voice is being stretched, but she's a trooper. 
  • The tub with the Christmas stockings and holders hadn't been brought in from the garage and I was worried it got buried (stupidly unlabeled) and we'd have to do without. DH found the bin and now our stockings are hung with care at the fireplace. I cropped out the TV. DH had to get to some cables, but he promised he'd move it away from this location, but yeah, this is how we live. 
  • I'm keeping focused on my mind, body, and spirit. I'm indulging, a bit but not too much. I'm trying hard to drink the needed water, get proper sleep, and meditation. It was a good week. 
How are you all coping with weather changes, holiday planning, and the general rush of life? Are you finding time for friends and family? Are you staying healthy?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Practical Gifts That Are Still, Well, Gifts

Nowhere should a vacuum cleaner be a gift. I'd rather have no gift than someone buying me a vacuum and calling it a gift. Even if I say, " I need a new vacuum," please dear loved ones, don't go there. Often DH and I will reduce, or keep gift giving simple so we can put the money towards a needed item. That I'm perfectly OK with. Anything cleaning related, while definitely will get used, all my insecurities about my horrendous house keeping skills shine through.

Other small appliances though, I have less angst about giving or receiving. In fact, many practical gifts, are wonderful to receive, particularly when they are given with thought to the recipient and the why of the gift.Here are a few of my favorite practical gifts I've received over the years.

My Cuisinart and Keurig Coffee maker. I've been limping along since the Cuisinart sprung a leak, but the Keurig is still going strong. Both were DH gifts. He knows I love my coffee. I need to start my days with a  hot cup. For the coffee lover, a coffee maker is a swell practical gift.I'm still on the hunt for the perfect replacement.  Elizabeth at, Reviews.Com sent me a link months ago for their review of coffee makers. Check out here. This isn't a sponsored post-just passing along for those in the market. Most of the makers reviewed exceeded my budget, but might be a purchase you  splurge on. 

A good immersion/single serving blender. I just got a new one from my sister-in-law for my birthday. We had been talking earlier in the summer about smoothies and frozen cocktails. I love them them both, but my big ninja is pain for just a one time use. Low and behold, a nice smaller number was gifted to me, very practical and appreciated.  

I have a tea kettle just like this, a gift from my niece that drew my name for Christmas one year. She added a box of tea and a coffee mug. Second to my love of coffee is my love of tea. Yes, a tea kettle in the time of microwaves or with the plug in electric models is not a necessity, but is practical if the power goes out as this could be used on my gas grill. Plus, you don't get that endearing whistle from the zapper or the electric model.

Perhaps I'm weird, but I love getting new socks as gifts. I personally am happy with any new socks-we are a family of sock losers and having new, matched, ready in my drawer alone is a treat. My favorites are themed socks, as they remind me of my mom and all her holiday socks. I don't know if my recipients love them like I do, but I've been on a hunt in stores looking at the clearance for the really nice thick boot socks. At full price, these are very expensive, and living in the north, a necessity. 

Add to this list are mittens (not gloves), hats, and scarves. If you have the talent to make these, even better loved and appreciated. While not quite as bad as socks, I have a habit of leaving things behind. Sometimes they show up, and sometimes not. New soft, comfy, and warm outer wear accessories feel like a hug from the gift giver. 

I keep referencing useful things for cold winters, but it is a reality. At my house, we are fortunate to lose power rarely and it seems to come back on in short order. We have a power company though in  Minnesota that will remain nameless (and we don't use) that seems to take hours to restore power whenever an outage occurs. Candles, pretty ones like this, or the battery operated ones, are useful, and gift worthy. The candle at the top is a citronella one, which adds a little light and perhaps a little bug deterrence so we can enjoy the yard and deck a bit longer once the sun goes down. 

Deep conditioning hand cream and lip balms. I have my generic go to's, but it is nice to have upgraded, gift quality items. Yes, I can buy my own and I do sometimes, but given in a pretty wrapped package, taking them out and using them feels like a bit of a spa day. Again, a must in the harsh winter climate. 

Perhaps not the most inspirational gift guide, but items I know I would like and I think my friends and family would be happy to receive. Shh, don't tell anyone, but most of these are on my giving list this year. What's your favorite, yet practical gift you've ever received?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Rubbish at Meal Planning

One day and I already all over the place with meal planning. When I got to the store yesterday, nothing seemed like what I was in the mood to cook plus prices weren't great so I sort of through my hands up and started over. It started with lunch and DH didn't feel like pizza but we had Subway coupons, so spent $18 on three foot long subs. I nibbled mine throughout the day, but DD2 barely touched hers, so that will be my lunch today. I'm working form home due to recent snow mixed with no reason to drive into the office.

  • Papa Murphys;s for lunch-pick up on our way home from church, and chicken wild rice soup for supper (LO)
  • Tuna Noodle hot dish, make today for DD2 to throw in the oven tomorrow
  • Tuesday-Leftovers
  • Wednesday-BBQ pork in crock pot, ready to shred for sandwiches, oven french fries
  • Thursday-DH to pick up chicken dinner for the two of them using one of our coupons 
  • Friday-Fried rice and chicken stir fry
  • Saturday-(LO) + Big pot of chili mostly to eat Sunday, DD2 has two concerts plus a holiday party and we're meeting friends after the concert
 What I bought and new plan:

  • Subway-picked up on our way home from church, and chicken wild rice soup for supper (LO)
  • Beef ravioli and sauce
  • Tuesday-Leftovers
  • Wednesday-Pork steaks were on sale for $1.99 pound, so will through then in the  crock pot,mashed potatoes (as I;ll probably make gravy instead of BBQ
  • Thursday-Frozen pizza (save the chicken meal)
  • Friday-Canned chowmein and rice
  • Saturday-(LO) Didn't buy chili fixings, but bought sloppy joe fixings+ , DD2 has two concerts plus a holiday party and we're meeting friends after the concert
 At least we will be fed with a lot less chicken, but more convenience foods. That's the disorganized way I roll sometimes.