In case you haven’t seen them yet, these made me uncomfortable and made me laugh, respectively. (Thanks, Mr. Brad.)
What I’m most grateful for this Thanksgiving is that someone else is cooking. So instead of ordering turkey, I’m shopping for host gifts. Keeping a stash is less work than running an errand every time, but sometimes the cupboards are bare. So this is a mix of grab-on-the-go and order ahead, with some ideas on how to take a gift to the next level for someone who’s done something really nice for you. These are also my universal standbys for hosts who don’t like “stuff,” because all of them are consumable or easy to pass along.
Prince Vladimir Tea by Kusmi, $25
I’m all about tea, and you should try Prince Vladimir. I first had it over high tea at a schmancy hotel in San Francisco. It’s fragrant, caffeinated, and widely appealing even to folks who don’t usually love tea. This one is loose leaf, but the teabag version is a little cheaper.
Upgrade: Pack it with some steepers, a set of handmade mugs, or a pretty teacup.
Mt. Tam Triple Cream Brie by Cowgirl Creamery $18
This is the cheese version of homemade whipped cream. It’s so much creamier than all other cheeses, and they have it at my corner store. So while I don’t keep cheese in my cupboard, I do…
Upgrade: I buy silver plated cheese spreaders whenever I see them at garage sales or thrift stores (they’re like $3), but you can get new ones at Williams Sonoma or Sur le Table. Tape one to the top of a block of cheese with colorful Washi tape, and you’re Martha H. Stewart. If you want to go wild, throw in a little bag of raw almonds and a bar of nice chocolate.
Bulleit Bourbon, $27
If you know your hosts like whiskey, or booze in general, Bulleit is a solid mixing bourbon that’s also fine on the rocks. Makes great Manhattans, so…
Upgrade by throwing in a jar of:
Amarena Cherries, $16
These are nothing like maraschino cherries. The texture is dense, and the cherries have a rich, fruity flavor. Incredible in Manhattans, but also great as dessert topper.
I used to keep a bag of these on my desk because it satisfies every sweet craving. Chewy chocolate covered dried cherries, slightly salty crunchy hazelnuts, and so on. Then I kept pouring the whole bag into my face so I had to stop.
Upgrade: Recchiuti chocolate is ludicrously good, and they make options in every price range — all the way up to a giant box that’s a few hundred dollars, which makes a great gift for an entire office. They’re also little obscure, so people will think you’re their personal Willy Wonka.
I’ve been talking about these for years, they’re just so freaking cute. Are they any good? Well. They’re not great. I mean, it’s canned champagne? But they’re too perfect for a brunch, a picnic, a girls’ night out. They have telescoping straws stuck to the side. I mean.
Upgrade: Eh. If someone is cooking you Thanksgiving dinner, or letting you crash with them? Go with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot.
And let me know if you have any go-to host gifts. I’m always looking to increase the stash.
Happy Birthday, Mai. Thanks for bringing so much good stuff into my life. And then letting me ruin it by telling the whole Internet. I love you.
I sometimes make paper charts for my goals, so I can check things off as I go. This year, I’m using calendars to help implement some new habits.
I tend to like plain ones, so I can add my own imagery and color around a goal.
But I also love this celestial one because you can whisper reach for the stars!, and then look around to make sure no one heard you while you check off your goals with little gold stars.
On this one you can mark each day with a colorful icon, and at the end the tattooed lady is a bright tapestry of accomplishment. You go getter.
I did a Plain and Simple, 2014 Calendar Roundup on Pinterest with all my favorites, so go have a look if you also like to mark your progress with gold old pen and ink. Or if you just need a calendar.
And while you’re here, how do you track progress with new habits?
Did you know Disneyland makes light-up Mickey ears and glowing balloons that interact with their light show? Here are what Hank’s looked like during the World of Color. Such a cool idea, eh?
This is my little boy napping in our hotel room closet, and man I wish I were him right now.
It’s been a surreal few months — with Blogalicious, planning and throwing Camp Mighty, tons of business transition for Go Mighty, and an epic trip to Australia — the kind of period where you know life is about to hit full force, so you just keep your head above water while the current takes you.
Now Hank and I are here at Disneyland where he’s napping in the closet in preparation for his future at Hogwarts, and for a 10 p.m. wakeup call to see the Disney World of Color show. (So much for the steady bedtime I’m supposed to be enforcing like a drill sergeant, huh? But he’s only six once, and two weeks away from him in Australia has made me soft.)
I know I’ve been a little quiet on the surface lately, but my feet have been paddling like mad under the water, and so much good stuff is happening as a result. So thanks for checking back in with me and for being patient when you sometimes don’t find me where you expect.
When I get home, I plan to stay very still with a pot of tea, and a notebook, and a Pilot Precise V5 Rollerball. I will embroider things in bed under a coverlet. I will watch questionable reality TV my bathrobe, while I shop for things I won’t buy on the Internet.
You should come over. I miss you.
I just got back from Australia, so last night Hank and I were reading about how Koalas don’t drink much water.
Hank: “That’s because the leaves they eat have water. Most animals in dry places get their water from their food.”
Me: “… I did not know that.”
Hank: “Do you know that the human head weighs eight pounds?”
Ah, I kid about that last bit. Speaking of which, the Jerry Maguire little boy went all Anthony Michael Hall, amirite? Also, if you know what I’m talking about, that link will make you feel decrepit. I’ll just go find my movie glasses while you see if Viva Las Vegas is playing on AMC.
Anyway, Hank has been poring over science books and begging to film an experiment “show” since he was about four. Two years later, I finally figured teaching other kids about science would be a good way to remember vocabulary and concepts himself, durr, so we filmed a couple. We read about how everything works beforehand, and I had him explain it back to me, so he could narrate the video.
I know so much about convection now. Gentlemen.
I posted a couple videos on Go Mighty:
Holy crap. Did you have any idea Ivory soap and tea bags did this stuff? GAH! Particularly the tea bags. If you let me enter your home, I will now demand that you let me light a teabag on fire. I need you to see.
We’re doing three more experiment videos, so if you have any cool ones to recommend using household items, let me know.
And if you already knew about the soap? Why didn’t any of you tell me? I can hardly look at you.
This post is part of the Too Small to Fail initiative sponsored by Next Generation and the Clinton Foundation, whom I like very much. They’re trying to close the Word Gap by encouraging all of us to take small steps to improve kids’ chances in school — like talking to and making lots of eye contact with pre-verbal babies, and increasing one on one time with kiddos. More info here.
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