Being from New England, our family has some serious life-long sports allegiances, and I’m guessing maybe your family does, too. And if you have little sports fans who are into Legos, you are going to love this. OYO Sports is a local Massachusetts company that makes licensed collectible mini-figures that fit with all major building sets (that means Legos) They’re collectibles but not precious collectibles which adds up to terrific gifts for my nephews (who are into both Legos and sports teams). Phew, I am all set with my shopping for them. Local company, check. Sports fans, check. Legos fans, check. Wow. I wish all of my holiday shopping was this easy. These cool sets and figurines are a great way to connect your sports fans with the fun of building and open ended play. And, yes, older fans are fans, too. Tough to think of a gift for Dad or Grandpa? A favorite player figure is a great start. Share the fun and get a family gift of the hockey set.
So for us? It’s the Patriots Trainer Cart, Pat Patriot (the mascot) and not to be missed Tom Brady and Gronkowski figures for one nephew, and Wally (the mascot), Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz figures and the Infield set for another. Don’t worry. I have it on good authority that they don’t read my blog – no surprises will be ruined.
Check out Oyo in nearby stores – available at local Target, Modell’s, Bob’s Dick’s and Kohl’s.
Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post but did receive some OYO Sports items to facilitate this review. And, yes, I am giving them to my nephews. All opinions are always,and always will be, unabashedly my own.
Today I started to read the Globe as I do each morning, and was brought up short. Brian McGrory’s column on Christmas In The City made me fly into action mode (those who know me knows that means to stand back). Here I am, writing about great gifts to buy for your father or father-in-law (admittedly, no small feat) and there is something much more pressing at hand. Go read about it here, I will wait.
You’re back? Good. All money raised goes to the event which is a winter wonderland for homeless children and their families and it is run entirely by volunteers. This is an amazing undertaking that should have huge corporate sponsors. Target? Martha Stewart? Macy’s?
So,Dad/Papa, you are buying a toy for a homeless child for Christmas. You are welcome. I know you don’t really need a putter or another scarf or something gadget-y. You are all set. So I am taking what I would have spent on your gift (Mom’s too) and spending it here at Christmas In The City. I’ll make you a certificate.
You want to help, too?
There are several ways to donate toys, online or at one of our drop-off locations.
You are stuck for some last minute gifts and your present cabinet is looking pretty bare. What do you do? Bake. Really there are some really nice simple (and quick) recipes. Grab some sweet paper or containers at Target, The Paper Source, Christmas Tree Shops…where ever you can find it.
Recently I got distracted and instead of writing made-over my linen closet the Martha way and put together a car caddy – yes, a car caddy. Then in a very un-Martha-like way, the water I had in my caddy leaked all over my carefully prepared perfect tote. Yes, I dried it all out and re-assembled it and it is a little less precious now. Sort of like me.
Here are some of my favorites from Martha, and yes, if it is okay to mention this… she follows me on Twitter! Yes, she does! I was so thrilled when I found out (I told only about sixty million people but was afraid that if I wrote about it she may unfollow me and what then? Sigh, I will have a Martha-less Twitter-stream) and she tweets herself in case you don’t think so – go here…@MarthaStewart on Twitter. Why does Martha Stewart care what I tweet? Maybe she doesn’t but I wrote about The Whisk Kid who she had on her Color Show last year (of course, Martha probably found her first but I wrote about her first – whee!) Martha should stay tuned for my sister’s handmade wrapping paper – Yes, where is that paper, K?
Here are paper cones with gingerbread caramels (For an unMartha-like cheat: you can make the cones – any paper will do – and put in store bought sweets). Honestly, none of the recipes are hard.Peppermint bark is a three ingredient sweet that even the busiest mom or most nervous baker (no baking – just melting and cooling required!)
We all know a real-life Martha – you know, the one who is always put together and who hosts a cookie swap effortlessly while also chairing the PTO fundraiser and bakes dreamy home-made confections that make you weep, or, at the very least, not want to share what she bakes? No? You always share? That’s nice…Well, we all have our Martha moments but some have it more than others.
A friend, who we will call KB (she was a ballet dancer and is lovely, graceful, willow-y and she bakes like a dream) gave me this recipe after the following exchange was repeated to her (laughingly, by me).
Me to then 7 year old daughter, “Honey, Let’s go bake cookies together because your mom makes the best cookies on the planet”
7 year old daughter to me, having just recently tasted the cookies from the recipe below, said quite seriously, “No, Mom, KB makes the best cookies on the planet.”
Here you go – You will thank me later!
KB’s Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies heretofore known as The Best Cookies on the Planet
Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over barely simmering water until melted and smooth (you can also put in glass microwave safe bowl and start with one minute in the microwave – increase time by 30 seconds intervals until melted). Remove from over water, cool to lukewarm.
Stir flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into medium bowl. Beat eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar and vanilla in large bowl until pale and thick, about 8 minutes. (Note: Start beating eggs AFTER chocolate is melted because it takes about 16-20 minutes for chocolate to cool to lukewarm). Fold in melted chocolate. Mix in dry ingredients in two additions.
Chill dough until firm enough to scoop, about one hour. Can be made one day ahead. cover, chill.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two large baking sheets. Shape dough by scant 2 tablespoonfuls into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar and place on prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until tops crack and cookies are just firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool. Makes about 30 cookies.
I have loved working with Pragmatic Mom on these posts – go see her last minute gift ideas here. Her make your own labels are as beautiful and easy to do as promised! Incredible! She is always fun and has great ideas, in fact, it was her idea to do this together which is really a Christmas present to me because she has a ton of daily readers and she shared my stuff with them – so nice – in real life and in virtual world. Thank, Pragmatic Mom – I look forward to more co-posting (like co-hosting but better) with you again soon!
The 12 Days of Shopping
I will be posting The 12 Days of Shopping jointly with Pragmatic Mom. Please visit her blog to see the other half of each post.
I love finding great hostess gifts, really. It’s fun and easy to create a signature gift. Anything Anne Taintor is fabulous.
There is the favorite I-don’t-know-what-to-bring-or-even-if-this-is-decent-because-I-am-re-gifting-it bottle of wine – it is what you do with it. The Dollar Spot in Target is filled with great wrapping paper, cello and gift bags. Deliver the wine with a bow or personalize it with your own art work (get out the Mod Podge!), ribbons or ornaments. I keep a stash of Target ornaments and papers that I use for package decorations. Affix the tag to ribbon or write your message on the package.
I also pick up pretty dishtowels throughout the year, holiday themed or not, you can use them as wrapping paper for wine, baked goods or tuck them into a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon and the dry ingredients and recipe for your favorite holiday treats.
Chocolate is always a favorite and you don’t have to spend a lot but feel free to upgrade, you can also go higher end both container and chocolate to make it even more special. I have found great containers at Target, Marshall’s, T.J. Max, Home Goods and The Container Store. The best chocolate (both in presentation and taste) I ever received was from this company, L.A. Burdick, and I may have eaten this box by myself, maybe.
Plant an Idea:
Pragmatic Mom likes to give a lemon cypress or a rosemary tree. I got one last year that I didn’t kill kept alive for three months finally succumbed to my inattention. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both have them for under $10. You could decorate it with little tiny presents or bows but they are gorgeous as is, smell terrific and you can tuck a favorite rosemary recipe in the card.
Spice It Up:
This is an item that I have long coveted – Dean & Deluca’s Spice rack. Cool, modern and a little geeky, which I love, of course. It is on the splurge side, so if you want to do this less expensively, pick up nice spices at your favorite local place like Sofra Bakery or you could head to Target for this cool Trudeau 16-bottle spice rack – $31.99. Still not what you are looking for? The Cheese Shop in Wellesley has spectacular food gifts and makes the best gift baskets. Also try Formaggio Kitchen – great cheese, chocolates and more in Cambridge and Hi-Rise Bakery – also Cambridge – for their own jams and a nice selection of wines (they package everything beautifully). Still not what you are looking for? Try Uncommon Goods, Black Ink or Just Next Door.
I almost forgot one of my favorite holiday haunts…Fastachi in Watertown – homemade chocolates, roasted nuts, specialty candy and nut butter (try the almond) – all prettily packaged, fresh and delicious.