Happy Holidays!!! Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas is not too far away. I was going to post something on the 100th day until Christmas, but alas life got in the way, and it was in October. Most people do not realize how close everything is until it is right upon them. This excludes my mother. She is brilliant in buying gifts way ahead of time and wrapping them to send to her children. When I was younger, I used to think this was silly. I wanted to get into the holiday shopping atmosphere. I still do, but my mother is right (as she is about most things); having presents under the tree during the entirety of December is lovely. So thank you Mom; I will continue to strive in your footsteps. (This year I mostly did not. 😉
I do love giving gifts. However, I try to give something that most people would not give themselves. I also love surprising people. Sometimes the gifts are spectacular but others they are just wonderful reminders of the love I have for them. I got the idea for this post from none other than Oprah, but I really like the idea. I have no idea where she gets the products or ideas, but I compiled a list of things that I loved using this past year. Most of them were gifts and I appreciated them so much. Some of these items I used to make my life easier, and during the holidays, we all need some of those things. I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I have for yourself or for another kindred spirit. Happy Holidays everyone!
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Readers, please read these books! This is the newest in the Stephanie Plum series. And they are laugh-out-loud funny. I am in the process of buying every one of them because I will read them again. Ms. Evanovich has a beautiful gift of making laughter. They are not difficult reads, nor deep and insightful, but you will laugh and laugh and laugh, which in today’s world is needed. The first book of the series is One for the Money, and is being made into a movie coming out next summer. I am unsure about the movie’s goodness, but the books are well worth an afternoon to yourself! But be forewarned, you will need a cupcake or donut handy. 😉
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
I love Jane Austen. And this book takes her fabulous and famous book and adds a bit of supernatural to it. Because I have read the original version, and watched the six-hour long movie many times, this version made me chuckle countless times. The author does a good job staying somewhat true to the general tone. I honestly thing Jane would have loved the additions he made. I highly recommend it to Austen fans simply because one can never have enough Jane Austen.
101 Things You Didn’t Know About Jane Austen by Patrice Hannon
If you love Jane Austen like me, this book is a treasure! I love it and enjoyed reading about my favorite author! There is also a pocket guide to Austen out there, but I have not read it so I cannot fully recommend it. However this book is fabulous and beautiful so it can be out on your coffee table!
How Easy Is That? By Barefoot Contessa
This book came out in October. Because I love Ina’s cooking and easy entertaining tips, I would highly recommend this book. I was able to flip through it at the bookstore. It looks fantastic! Ninety percent of her recipes I have made came out beautifully and delicious! And if you watch her shows, “How easy is that?” is one of her most favorite sayings.
Back to Basics by Barefoot Contessa
I bought this book this past year and have made tons of the recipes in it. Many I have featured here on this blog. The recipes include Sticky Buns, Sole Meunier, Lobster Corn Chowder, and Shrimp Scampi. Those, whom may feel intimidated by the “fanciness” of the recipes, don’t be. She was a scientist and has detailed instructions for everything!
During the dinners and brunches I have had this past year, these have come in handy. Everyone gets to pick out the charm they want, and no one will be sharing drinks unless wanting to. I was able to find tons on the Internet, and some at TJ Max or Marshall’s. Usually their price range is from $5-$20. They are a great gift for someone who has everything. And many times these can be used for any type of drink that has a stem on it.
Giada’s Cutting Board
This is available at Target. T bought it for me as a happy one shopping trip, and I have loved it!! It is very large and provides tons of space for chopping and dicing. The board does require a bit of maintenance, oiling it every so often, but I love having a large working area. Plus it is beautiful!!!
Nature’s Wick Candle
Target offers this lovely little candle in many different scents. It has a woodwick, which creates a wood burning sound, and soy wax. I bought the layered candle in Pumpkin Biscotti, Cinnamon Latte, and Bonfire Nights. The scents are wonderful and festive. I love this candle; I will buy many more before this season is finished. The candle is offered for about $12.
Hand Held Blender
Soups are so satisfying! But let’s be honest, blended soups can be a pain in the behind if you do not own one of these, which I do not. My mom bought one, and has used it multiple times. She loves it, and I trust my mom to know what works and does not. I think she has made a butternut squash soup, leek and artichoke soup, and possibly a baked potato soup. Though I have not bought one yet, I will be purchasing one at least by next January! 😉
A friend and I have an addiction to lattes. She shared with me a latte recipe to make at home when I visited two holiday seasons ago! I love it. The small amount of flavored creamer adds a small amount of richness to the drink. She also inspired me to buy my own espresso maker (stove top!). A couple of days ago I saw Bobby Flay use this milk frother on TV. It looked like the dandiest thing! I found it on Amazon.com for about $26. The glass container can be used to heat the milk in the microwave, then just use the lid to make the froth! Fabulous!!! And if Bobby Flay uses it, I think his recommendation is pretty reliable!
Cooking Light magazine
Great gift idea!!! A friend gave me this last year for Christmas and also this year as well! I love it. I highly recommend giving these as gifts. I have enjoyed cooking from this magazine. It includes a healthier point of view on food, but without being strict. All of the nutritional facts are included. Our favorite recipes from them are: Pumpkin Ice Cream Torte, Mushroom Patty Melts, Fontina Twice Baked Potatoes, and Caramel Apple Pie.
Entertainment Weekly magazine
This was also a gift from a friend. If you love movies and TV, this is a great magazine to have. I feel more connected to the entertainment world. The magazine introduced us to Raising Hope (excellent TV show). I truly have enjoyed receiving it every week. (I love getting mail!)
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
See the movie. It is a ton of fun and easily could be my most favorite movie of the year. The movie also includes an awesome soundtrack. Seeing the ex’s are enough to watch the movie (due to the fact that some of them have actually been action heroes)!
I bought on with a straw this past year. I love it, and take it with me every where I go. This holiday season, please keep yourself hydrated for health and beauty. Plus the dehydration headache does not add any holiday cheer. I bought mine at Kohl’s but there are available on Amazon.com.
I discovered yoga this past year. I love taking a time out, stretching, and breathing for a bit during a busy day. The yogadownload.com has twenty-minute podcasts available on iTunes. Longer sessions are available on their website for a couple of dollars. A yoga mat is anywhere from $10 to $30, available almost anywhere. As one instructor says, even if you just breathe deeply for twenty minutes, you will experience benefits than not doing it at all.
Yoga Pants by Old Navy
I bought these during one of their big sales. I bought two pair and have loved them. I was able to get them for about $5, but that was the clearance price. I love them!!! They are comfortable, not like other work out pants that are actually a size smaller than stated on the tag; and they have a small pocket in the inner left hip to keep keys or other small items. They also do not ride down, and I have stretch every way possible, so no showing anything off than what you desire to!!! I highly recommend them especially if you are looking into starting yoga. Regular sweat pans are fine, but these are fantastic!!!
Tresemme Dry Shampoo
I included this product primarily for yourself. It is supposed to give you one more day of not washing your hair. I have used it and enjoyed feeling fresh without having to completely wet my hair, dry it, and style it, which can take from about 20 minutes to hours. And how precious time can be during this time of year.
Charmed Bare Minerals Collection
I love Bare Minerals makeup. Last year their holiday collection was fantastic, and this year Leslie did not disappoint. The collection includes their new mascara, brushes, blush, eye shadow, and lip gloss. The collection is beautiful and festive. I feel very pretty putting it on and wearing it!
Shea Cashmere by Bath and Body Works
This collection came out a couple of years ago, but the soft scent and creamy texture is indulgent for the winter months. Buy this for yourself as a little treat while you are out holiday shopping! It comes in hand cream, lotion, body wash, and body butter.
Address Labels from Colorful Images
Colorful images produces many, many types of address labels. I prefer the circle (“dye cut”) ones to use as envelope seals as well. Many envelopes do not close properly and this takes care of writing your address and using tape to seal the envelopes. When you order a set of labels, you receive 144 address labels. This is a massive amount. The last time I ordered a set of labels was about three years ago. If you write a ton of letters, they should last you a year. Colorful Images also has many specials running throughout the year. After Christmas, they have the holiday labels for about $3 a set!!!! (I bought this years this past January J A set usually runs from $7-$9. And they ship pretty rapidly! I have loved mine tremendously! And at least one friend has bought some similar because she loves mine so much.