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.
It is Camp Mom week and today we cleaned Mommy Car ( I am the best Mom ever!), bought a vacuum (more tremendous fun), had pizza at The Upper Crust (getting better), went to a (double) swim birthday party (decidedly better), had a terrific dinner from Whole Foods – the fresh pasta bar in Dedham at Legacy Place – watered all of the plants we said we would water for friends, walked the dog three or more times. I did do some work tonight – cleaned up twitter and messed with some social media.
What I did not do: choose a computer (mac or pc? desktop or laptop…suggestions welcome), buy a car or in any way darken the door of a car dealership, move my blog to wordpress.org…no change for you, dear reader, but it is a big deal for me.
Anyway, that’s all.
Update: I wrote this assuming that I had posted Epic Fail – a post I started a few days ago.
Well, Day 3 started at an obscenely early hour as I readied for a field trip with a 5:45 am drop off time. I also did not sleep well…Anyway – despite being in dire need of caffeine, I tried the suggested hot water with lemon (instead of my usual tea) and half an hour late had my first Joos™. This was followed by a bowl of dry Barbara’s Oat cereal and a banana.
I had a fairly substantial headache all morning (the Joos™ literature mentioned that caffeine withdrawal may cause headaches so I was somewhat prepared) but then a kind friend suggested I cave on the caffeine and made me a cup of black tea and soon I felt tremendously better. Not ready to go cold turkey, I guess.
Joos™ around two p.m. and some snack items – hummus – crackers and veggies. Delish. For dinner I had brown rice pasta and a simple red sauce – very good. The Joos™ booklet has great recipes but I am – so far – just going with prepared veggie stuff from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and it has all been wonderful.
I felt great with good energy until late in the day despite the early wake up and I slept really well – for a change!
Day 4 is a breeze. Maybe it is mental, maybe because I do start the day with tea (with soy milk as a treat, I know, I know, living the dream). I have some dry cereal and watermelon for breakfast and am off for the day. I turn down an offer to go for a frozen yogurt without a twinge of regret. I have Joos™ with me and drink it over the course of the morning, Lunch is golden beet salad with celery and onions from Whole Foods which is surprisingly delicious. I tried on dresses today and felt slimmer (whether I am or not is up for debate). I do also feel lighter and clearer today, still glad for the am cup of tea but not discounting that it is what is in the Joos™.
Dinner will be a red quinoa salad and more delicious beets and a veggie mix. I am making burgers for the family and may or may not have one (they are small, sliders actually) and look great. This may be in gross violation of the cleanse, do you think? Today is easier because I am casually incorporating it into my day instead of it being the focus. I am making healthy choices and totally discounting the usual suspects of consumption…now don’t get all jealous on me but I did get some kickin’ looking vegan cookies at the market…dare to dream.
A friend (http://www.pragmaticmom.com) let me borrow some great cookbooks a few weeks ago. While I have enjoyed reading them, I hadn’t yet tried any recipes. Finally, I decided to try something from a wonderful book called Roasting: A Simple Art, (Barbara Kafka). It has gorgeous photos and meals that feel just right for these cold, rainy, almost spring, days. I made cod which I still cannot believe is $11.99 per pound. I asked the nice guy at the fish counter at, where else, Whole Foods why it was so expensive. He said cod is now overfished and it was $13.99/pound yesterday. A more suspicious mind might wonder why the fish was discounted, but he had already assured me that the cod was delivered today. So, on to the lovely cookbook – page 271 – Simple single cod fillet because I am not yet ready to roast a whole fish (I may never be ready).
Simple single cod fillet
Serves 4 as a main course
1 3/4 to 2 pound cod fillet (1 3/4 inches at the thickest point) If not everyone likes fish, then you make Bell and Evan’s chicken patties for them from the freezer case (Whole Foods again) and get 1 to 1 1/4 lbs of the cod, or really, any thick fish would do).
1 tablespoon olive oil
Place rack in center of oven. Heat oven to 400 degrees (the recipe calls for 500 degrees but I am changing it because I am also making vegetables).
Place fillet in a baking pan. Rub fillet and pan with oil. Roast, skin side up for about 12-15 minutes for a pound (or about 10 minutes per inch – see above). There are great sauces listed to go with the fish but I am lazy and instead I added some sea salt and Herbes de Provence.
Since I made this with roasted vegetables (sweet potatoes and cauliflower) I started those earlier. The sweet potatoes (roasted whole) at 400 degrees for 1 hour and cauliflower takes about 20-25 minutes, So start the potatoes and add the cauliflower after about 35 minutes of cooking time. I don’t do anything to the potatoes (other than put them on a pan or foil so they don’t mess up my oven if they split) and for the cauliflower, just drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the fish in the oven after 45 minutes. The veggies are tried and true – the fish was new for me.
Served with a nice green salad and some cornbread from Whole Foods (told you I was lazy). Enjoy!