great gifts

Preparing for Winter – more blankets!

Preparing for Winter –  more blankets!

While I cannot claim the all out hardiness that our some of our snow blessed neighbors to the north can (Buffalo and Chicago, I do mean you), I did grow up in New England so I know how to prepare for winter. I know when to bring out the mittens and snow pants and when to wash them to put them away (not before April or you risk a spring snowstorm and it will be your fault (like my Red Sox superstitions which are true, too), it is a certainty that if you wash the winter stuff to early, you will actually cause a storm. so be a lamb and don’t.

Obviously you need good gear – waterproof mittens are the best – I like REI (and their outlet) for great last season deals (frugal, you know) and in addition to the scraper, and salt or sand in your car (and a small shovel if you can deal with the thought of actually having to use it) you should have jumper cables (even though I currently don’t), and car blankets. like lap blankets for a sleigh ride but better.

We use these to warm up when the car isn’t warm enough (no garage) and have ever since my kids were in car seats. I still have two oldish small baby blankets but recently decided to up my game (they are teenagers and have outgrown the baby blankets) and started shopping for cute blankets and got distracted by all the great choices. And I decided that the car wasn’t the only place I needed new blankets. I found some sweet fleece blankets from – Check out the gorgeous fleece and microfiber blankets and throws.

And since I am no where near ready for the holidays, I went shopping at not one, but two shops at house parties tonight, one was a Holiday Shop by local artists and the other was at the fabulous (and newly opened), I got some gifts there and some maybe something for me, too. More than maybe. Go to the website for better pics, I was shopping and enjoying snacks and taking pictures at the same time…that’s my excuse anyway.

Looks like I have some holiday shopping all wrapped up!

Last Minute Gifts – Day 12 of the 12 Days of Shopping

Last Minute Gifts (Because I’m So Together That I Have A Present Cabinet) and my gift is only homemade if you have a few pounds of butter in your house which I generally do…

Okay, it is a gross overstatement to say I have it together, but I do have a great Present Cabinet (there is also a Candy Cabinet but that is a different thing all together and for my personal consumption). How is it that someone who misplaces her keys, phone and often does not know the date is organized enough to pre-buy gifts for the unexpected but inevitable gift giving opportunity? Perhaps because I was scarred by an unequal gift exchange oh-so-many years ago and now have at the ready a gift for all occasions. Maybe I am a closet control freak. The possibilities are endless. While you speculate, here are some great gifts that you can throw together without looking like you threw it together in case you don’t even have time for a batch of cookies. Entirely possible, people!

Remember your wrapping station? No? Have one set up – paper, tissue, ribbon and scotch tape. You’re going to need it!

Each Includes: 3 boxes of Quinn Popcorn, Taza Chocolate Covered Almonds, 12oz Tipus Chai Tea Now

Don’t have a Present Cabinet? It’s okay, these are easy to find and put together ideas. Have some time – need it shipped? Check out the Because Movie Night Gift Box from Quinn Popcorn (my favorite popcorn and new shopping staple). Great pairing with the chocolate covered almonds and chai tea! Popcorn +Taza + Chai $34.99 –  Free Shipping On Orders Over $29. No chemicals! Here iis some info from their site…

Two years ago we set out to clean up microwave popcorn. Having just brought our first son, Quinn, home it was time to take this icon of adulterated food and transform it into something anyone can feel good about eating and sharing with friends and family. After a sleepless year our popcorn was finally ready for prime time!

First, we tackled the bag. Gone are the chemical coatings (PFOA, PFCs, Poly, etc.). We even pulled out the susceptor (gray metal/plastic patch). What’s left is a bag that’s made from paper and paper alone. Well, it is special paper that is pressed to make it grease proof. That wasn’t easy to figure out. Did we mention, it’s even compostable?

The ingredients got even more attention. We never use GMO ingredients or preservatives. The popcorn is organic. The expeller pressed oils are high in omega-3′s. Our ingredients all come together in 3 sweet, salty, unique, and delicious flavors. Plain and sim­ple, our mis­sion is to pro­vide you with the best bag of microwave pop­corn.

Family Movie Night

A box of Quinn popcorn (the vermont maple and sea salt is my personal fave)  and you can find it at  other local markets like Whole Foods and Shaws, and Wilson Farms.

Chocolate (your choice)

A movie  (Target has a great selection of DVDs starting at $5) and your local supermarket may have some holiday DVDs. It’s a Wonderful Life is always a good choice!

Switch out the movie and sub in a board game and you have a Family Game Night gift package.

Foodie Fun

Foodies in your midst? Measuring cups (again, cute ones at Target, Anthropologie, Sur La Table), a bowl, a wooden spoon and your favorite cookie recipe, add dry ingredients if you like! Roche Brothers Supermarket has a gorgeous Stonewall Kitchen section – great bowls and a Stonewall Kitchen mix with a pretty dishtowel. Yes, I do have most of these things in my house, no, do not call Hoarders.

Spices, really nice ones from Penzey’s or Sofra are wonderful gifts on their own.
I pick some up every time I go to Sofra (no, not really every time – that would be excessive).

In Boston? On Newbury Street? I found this gem of a store…Sabatino Tartuffi – gorgeous salts, sugar, honey, truffles and even a sweet skincare line. No, I did not buy out the store, there are some beautiful things left.

Still not the right gift? Really, a plant is lovely – try potted herbs (Trader Joe’s has a nice mix) adnd Whole Foods has a lovely lavender tree that Pragmatic Mom gave me last year and I let live for three entire weeks!

Since Pragmatic Mom often makes me look like I am standing still (unless I am overly caffeinated which does happen), see what she has in store as her homemade gift.



My Homemade Gift- fresh from The Boston Globe Magazine…


TIP Use a sieve to separate candy pieces from dust. Reserve dust for sprinkling on hot cocoa (or dipping the warm chocolate cookies in for added punch)

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 ounces candy canes

2 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (12 ounces)

In a small bowl, whisk flour and salt and set aside. Use a mixer to cream the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat to incorporate fully. Add the flour mixture and beat on low just to incorporate. Scrape dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, knead it once or twice, shape into a disk, wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 and up to 48 hours. We went for an hour and dough was a delight.

With the rack in the center position, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment to fit a 17-by-13-inch baking sheet. Rest the dough at room temperature for 15 minutes, then dust with flour and roll into a rectangle just smaller than the sheet and about ⅜ inch thick. Transfer the parchment and dough to the sheet, prick lightly with a fork, and bake until light golden brown and puffed, about 22 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through.

Meanwhile, place candy in a zippered bag and use a heavy pan to crush it, then shake in a sieve to remove dust from small pieces (you should have about 1 cup).

Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and immediately sprinkle the chocolate over the hot cookie. Let soften for 4 to 5 minutes, then spread the chocolate evenly over the cookie. This was fun – especially if you wait – don’t rush this step.

Immediately sprinkle with the crushed candy, pressing gently to adhere. Cool until set, about 90 minutes, then cut and serve (or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week). Yeah, you won’t have any left.

The 12 Days of Shopping

Saturday, December 1:  Make Your Own Gifts with granola two ways. Hers and Mine.

Sunday, December 2:  Kids Make Gifts Craft, Clove Fruit and Crafts.

Monday, December 3: Personalized Gifts, Hers and Mine.

Tuesday, December 4:  Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

Wednesday, December 5:  Tutors/Teachers

Thursday, December 6:  High Tech/Low Tech

Friday, December 7:  Hostess/Doing Good

Saturday, December 8:  Sanitation Engineers, Mail CarriersHairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer

Sunday, December 9:  Husband, Me (Our Own  List), CapabilityMom’s List

Monday, December 10:  Cats/Dogs

Tuesday, December 11:  Quick Gifts from Whole Foods and Gourmet Food Store

Wednesday, December 12:  ’Cause I Am So Together,  Last Minute Home Made Gifts, Homemade Ornament Crafts for Kids and Capability:Mom’s Homemade Gift

Low Tech or Kickin’ It Old School – Day 6 of 12 Days of Shopping

When Pragmatic Mom and I brainstorm on gift giving, it’s fun and interesting to see how many different ideas we can come up with together. I liked the low-tech or old school gifts, and found quite a few cool things this year..

Etsy is my go-to for cool on line handmade stuff – Here are a few links you’ll love.

Bowls and Serving – I made a Pinterest board of Bowls…maybe I have a problem?

Hostess and Gourmet


Handmade winter gear – don’t know how to knit? No problem.

Closer to home I found some great things at the SOWA Open Market like Zooguu  and Seven Acre Toys.





Don’t forget the Holiday Market at SOWA…and check out Pragmatic Mom’s High Tech Gift Ideas!







Here are more suggestions

Back to Basics – Day 6 of the 12 Days of Shopping – Going Low Tech and check out Pragmatic Mom’s post on high tech gifts.

in case you need some other ideas.

The 12 Days of Shopping

 Dec 1: Make Your Own Gifts Granola, Day 1 of 12 Days of Shopping – Granola versus Homemade and Personal – Granola from Flour and Barefoot Contessa.

 Dec 2: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

 Dec 3: Personalized Gifts (Fancy Address Stampers versus Pretty Papers Giveaway)

 Dec 4:  Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

 Dec 5: Tutors/Teachers

 Dec 6High Tech/Low Tech

 Dec 7: Hostess/Gifts That Give Back

 Dec 8: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?) and Emily Post’s Etiquette on this subject.

 Dec 9: Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List); Capability:Mom Husband/Wife

 Dec 10:  Dog/Cat

 Dec 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

 Dec 12: ‘Cause I Am So Together,  Last Minute Home Made Gifts:  Pragmatic Mom and Capability : Mom



Back to Basics – Day 6 of the 12 Days of Shopping – Going Low Tech

It has been a long two weeks. I have been stashing catalogs where ever I could hide them before my husband throws them out. I wanted them for this series of posts and my own personal use… Hmmm…perhaps that explains the immediacy with which these are normally dispatched into the recycling bin.

Alphabet Pillow from Uncommon Goods on Capability Mom blog's 12 days of shopping
Alphabet Pillow from Uncommon Goods

My assignment, go low-tech (Pragmatic Mom has the high tech gifts covered). These are my favorite low, and I mean low, tech gifts (thus the old school catalog finds).

I love the Uncommon Goods catalog – super cute and cool gifts in a great range of prices. Anything from Periodic Table of Elements Blocks for your budding science genius to door mats made out of flip flops or lobster rope.

Arts and Letters:


Paper Source's Unravels Pencils

For all ages:  Art Supplies like paper and colored pencils or journal and nice pen, books, wooden toys (yes, for all ages).

Green Planet Kids is a Newton store with a great selection of back-to-basic toys and there are these oh-so cool stocking stuffers from Paper Source (love these peel-y pencils).

Back to Basics: Homemade treats, prettily packaged, with recipe attached, maybe some clove fruit from Pragmatic Mom, little handmade lavender sachets (you can buy lavender in bulk and fill fabric squares with it, so nice), special keepsake ornaments (we give my mom one every year) or a The Hanukah Candle Kit.

Love You More Pillow - Paper Source


Cozy Comforts:

Cashmere socks, scarves or sweater, mittens, a favorite team sweatshirt or baseball cap, yoga or fitness gear, fleece from Northface for that particular teen, a Snuggie (I caved and bought these last year!)


C is for Chocolate – always! Get some sweet Lindt truffles and put them in a pretty container. Last year I found a template on Martha Stewart’s site for turning a candy bar into a Santa.

Books are a basic and always welcome (even if you know only one book the child has liked, a good bookstore or librarian can give you many more suggestions).

If you are looking for year round reading for kids, I really like the publications from Cricket MagazineMuse for ages 9-14 years and Babybug, Ladybug, and  Cricket for younger children. I also love Stone Soup for the tween age, too.

Upcycled Pom Hat
Upcycled Pom Hat - Uncommon Goods

The 12 Days of Shopping

I will be posting The 12 Days of Shopping jointly with Capability:Mom. Please visit her blog to see the other half of each post.

Dec 1: Make Your Own Gifts GRANOLA, Amazing Granola from Nigella Lawson versus Amazing Granola Bars from The Barefoot Contessa

 Dec 2: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

 Dec 3: Personalized Gifts (Fancy Address Stampers versus Pretty Papers Giveaway)

 Dec 4:  Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

 Dec 5Tutors/Teachers

 Dec 6High Tech/Low Tech

 Dec 7Hostess/Doing Good and Getting Something

 Dec 8: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?)

 Dec 9: Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List)Capability:Mom Husband/Wife

 Dec 10:  Dog/Cat

 Dec 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

 Dec 12: ‘Cause I Am So Together,  Last Minute Home Made Gifts:  Cookies Personalized Holiday Tags

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