HOLIDAY GIFT HELPER

While waiting at the AT&T store the other day, I came across a website that has been more entertaining to me than Pinterest. You see, Pinterest is all this perfectly beautiful food, craft projects, closet organization, and lists of delightful and entertaining projects to do with your children over the weekend that include more than ten supplies you do not have on hand and will end with you feeling like a terrible parent. Who needs that? Nobody. What we need are gift ideas that don’t suck and that can be ordered online.

As I’ve been perusing my new addiction, fancy.com, I’ve come across some items I thought would either make GREAT Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers. In the interest of good deeds and the brotherhood of man, yadayadayada, I’m sharing the ideas I’ve found. They’re mostly very affordable and often are not alcohol related. (Gasp!)

Except this first one. This is a carry on cocktail kit, capable of making two delicious old-fashioneds.

image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there’s this – what guy doesn’t want a switchblade mustache comb? You can bet he won’t already have one, that’s for sure.

image

Selfie sticks are all the rage, but the next big thing? The bike selfie. This can’t possibly go wrong.

image

This is in honor of someone I know who apparently used to spend some time at work doing exactly this, only without the handy-dandy nap apparatus.

image

Know someone who’s artsy or a Warhol fan, or both?

image

Have a friend or family member who likes walking in the rain? Give them their own rainbow. Or color wheel. Whatever.

image

This heart shaped umbrella is adorable. Looks like a scene from a Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie. Yes, I’m old.

image

Goth coffee lover? Pirate pal? Try this spoon.

image

Okay, here’s another alcohol related gift. You know there had to be at least one more.

image

Personally, that glass is almost cool enough (no pun intended) to make me drink liquor straight like that. Almost.

Let’s just get the last wine-o gift out of the way. In my defense, it’s also coffee related.

image

Let’s say someone has had a few cocktails and is stumbling to the bathroom later that night, but doesn’t want to turn on that BRIGHT bathroom light. I give you the toilet light. The light also alerts the ladies to the potential for that horrible moment we’ve all experienced at some point in life. (Shiver.) Priceless.

image

I have no idea who to give these to, but I love them and you should too.

image

Everyone has that geek friend. Watch them go nuts for this. I thought it was a fancy belt buckle at first.

image

Just plain silliness? Yes, please. Pizza nails, anyone?

image

How about cupcake liners that tell your fortune?

image

And if you just give up and don’t purchase anything for your friends and family, distract them by wearing this.

image

I think I’ll buy 7 of these to wear every day of the week.

Thanks, fancy.com!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

COLLEGE FOOTBALL, HEAR ME SNORE

I missed a golden opportunity over the holidays to write about something very important to me. Something that is a special part of my life.  And by “special” I mean “sucky.”  I used to think women were exaggerating about being “football widows.” Now I think, “AMATEUR.” 

cat5

(This was my expression through much of the holiday.)

I’ve been married for ten years. Every year is the same, yet I seem to block out the pain in blissful forgetfulness until it happens again. Each year I look forward to the 2 weeks of vacation I’ve hoarded so I can spend time at home, relaxing and enjoying some well deserved time off. 

And then reality strikes.

This vacation time is not about me.

It’s not about this celebratory time of year, the birth of Christ, the First Noel, Away in a Manager, family, togetherness, or even food.   

It’s about College Bowl Games.

It’s about a living room that is rearranged to accommodate two televisions and three men. Instead of Christmas carols, the house echos with the hum of the DVR, chanting crowds and achingly repetitive marching band horn sections.

Do you know how many Bowl Games there are?

I do.

35.

Thirty-five games between December 21st and January 6.

Thirty-five games that my college football addicted husband HAS to watch.

He’s in nirvana.

Seriously. Who needs to watch the Valero Bowl? Russell Athletic Bowl? Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl?  WHO? 

It’s times like this I decide I am either the most boring, unattractive woman on the planet, unworthy of time or attention… or I am married to a crazy person. (I lean toward crazy because he says things like, “We’d spend plenty of time together if you’d sit and watch the games with me.”)

Right. That’s happening.

He DID participate in the actual Christmas morning and Christmas eve traditions. But other than that I didn’t really get to enjoy the pleasure of his company until January 5th, when there was just ONE conveniently timed game.

Between you and me, by then, I wasn’t sure that I even wanted his company any more.

Lucky me! We actually made it to breakfast and American Hustle before the GoDaddy Bowl.

So this is my official notice. I am NOT taking 2 weeks off during the holidays next year. As Pete Townshend says, “I won’t be fooled again.”

No. Next year, after the last whistle of the LAST bowl game of the season, I will return to my home where I will re-introduce myself to my husband and pry the remote control from his death-grip.

And I will enjoy two weeks at home without football.

Just in time for the Super Bowl pre-pre-pre-game shows.

* Disclaimer: I DID watch the BCS National Championship and it WAS exciting. Maybe that’s because it was the last one of the season and I was drinking champagne.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wine

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Somehow, my whole life has become food related.

“What did you do for Easter?”

We ate at the club.

“What did you do this weekend?”

Ate at that new restaurant.

“What did you do last night?”

Ate blue point oysters and fresh halibut.

“What are you doing for Mother’s Day?”

Eating at a buffet where I can continue to stuff my face with cheese, crab, shrimp and pasta salad until I explode. Oh, and after that, have a big heaping helping of prime rib, thank you.

For someone who exercises maybe five times a year, I need to tap the brakes on this.

Robert isn’t helping. This weekend he became totally obsessed with what we were going to do for dinner Saturday night. He started emailing me about it Friday afternoon.  By Saturday afternoon he was in bad shape. The good news is, he KNEW he was obsessing, but somehow couldn’t stop himself.

The same thing happened in France. We had restaurant reservations almost daily for lunch and dinner. Again, I’m not complaining, but this cannot be good. What to eat. Where to eat it. How best to photograph it so you can show people on Facebook.  “Look! I’m eating! Isn’t it amazing!”

IMG_0718

How about this?

IMG_0799-300

Annoyed yet?

002 *

What about now?

001

Okay, now I’m depressed I have so many food pictures to choose from.

I can tell you for a fact, there are only two people interested in what you are eating. You and your mother.

And your mother doesn’t really care. She’s just being supportive because for once it’s not a picture of you with a drink in your hand.

(There may be a few exceptions.)

Sandy and I are currently planning a trip to London. The good news is, we don’t make a big deal out of lunch and dinner plans. We’re usually too busy trying to view every castle within a 20 mile radius and then get off our feet. We know for certain we will be eating fish and chips. Other than that, I have no gastronomical expectations. (Fill in your own joke about English food here.)

Regardless, I’m sure a few pictures of menu items will appear on my Facebook timeline. Or Twitter. Or both. After a couple of pints I will no doubt decide there are people out there waiting with breathless anticipation to see what I’m eating during my vacation. Apologies in advance.

Bon appetit!

 

* Picture #3 above is Robert’s invention. The Meat Tower. Sausage and bacon rest upon a bed of hash browns with grilled onion, drizzled in maple syrup. Heart attack on a plate, but oh so good.

HOW I RESCUED THE EASTER BUNNY

Okay, so this is slightly late, so kill me. At least I’m not writing it at Thanksgiving!

For the past three Easters, I spent the Saturday before subjecting myself to what can only be described as one of the circles of hell. I accompany my mother, brother, sister-in-law and my precocious niece to the country club where an Easter egg hunt is held for the children. This is not an occasion for the faint of heart. However, as a PANK (*Profesional Aunt, No Kids), it is my duty and something I look forward to in some twisted way. As you might imagine, the club’s dining room is crawling with children.

dining room

Children anticipating candy, while eating candy. A D.J. blasts what I consider completely inappropriate music like, “Thrift Shop”, as 2-4 year olds bounce up and down to the rhythm. Frankly, between the decorations, the cupcake making tables, the screaming, running, and the 6- foot 5-inch easter bunny who bears a striking resemblance to Harvey, I don’t know how anyone comes away sane.

easter cookies

easter cookies 2

After 3 years I have the survival guide down. Enter room through whatever amazing decor they’ve appointed as the theme – either through a small doorway where you enter the looking-glass with Alice, or down the yellow brick road to join Dorothy and the Wizard. If you haven’t snagged a waiter proffering champagne in less than 30 seconds, you’re toast. The nerve endings behind your eyes start to flare and you’ll have a migraine for the rest of the day.

Champagne in hand, I make my way to the table where my family awaits. My niece waves shyly, then pretends she would rather not know me. Others have tried the same before, but she’s family, so not going to get away with it. It works well, this game of hard-to-get.

Niece

In an effort to win her to my side I stumble to the buffet tripping over small, darting, screeching objects, or children, I suppose, to get to the bacon. I return to the table and wave at my niece. Yes, bacon is her bliss. Just like her aunt.

Now, it’s the countdown to the Easter egg hunt as we look at our watches and stare at the Easter bunny while he poses for pictures. I’m on glass two of mimosa. Believe me, it wasn’t making a dent in the din. Of course there are moments when you look around and see all the children in their cute Easter outfits and can’t help but smile. Then you recall that for every sweet little boy or girl, there’s a wide-eyed maniac ready to knock them to the floor and take their candy. After stepping on their fingers. These little events just help prepare them for what’s coming, I suppose. Toughen up, you in the pastel pink sundress with your ponytails! Your mom just basically gave you handles for a hairstyle. Meet Tommy, who’s going to grab you by one of those and swing you right into a tizzy as he steals your painted eggs.

Before the hunt we visit the petting zoo. One day, I am going to get thrown out because I am going to dress down every parent whose child is lifting baby ducks by the head, nearly stomping on terrorized bunnies and playing tug of war over a lamb. I stand beside the fenced area where I gasp and cover my eyes waiting for something to keel over dead. Possibly me. Parents gather outside the fence taking pictures and chatting as they ignore little Brenda holding onto bunnies back legs as he attempts an escape. Those feet were definitely not lucky for him. “Play dead! Play dead!” I shout above the chaos.

photo (2)

Now, once beside the hunting grounds, I tried to prepare my niece for success – without telling her to knock people down. Instead, I pointed out the eggs that were on the ground immediately in front of the rope where we waited for the “go” sign. Which of THOSE THREE EGGS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU are you going to pick up first? I prodded. Those are really nice EGGS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU nudge-nudge. I BET YOU CAN GET TO THOSE IN TWO STEPS. Hello? Sarah is nodding, but her eyes are unfocused. Like when I try to point out a squirrel across the yard to Daisy and she stares at my finger instead.

easter egg coaching

(There, you can barely see me leaning over and coaching. You’ll know me by the champagne flute dangling in my hand.)

Sure enough, the rope dropped and I watched indignantly as Sarah raced past three, four, eight eggs before she heard us and stopped. PICK UP AN EGG! Her mother shouted. EGGS! RIGHT THERE!!! We all echoed, pointing madly in ever direction. LOOK AROUND! Her mother shouted again. I saw a little boy heading her way picking up eggs like an aardvark inhales ants and had to physically turn away in dispair. The three eggs right in front of us sat untouched. Sigh.

egg hunt

Seeing my lovely but directionally challenged niece had a decent collection in her basket by the end, I sauntered to the table set beside the hunting area where glasses and glasses of champagne called my name.

Back inside, I steadied my breathing and stepped once more into the breach. The giant Easter bunny was attempting to avoid a little boy who was determined to whack him in the head. Over and over again. In between polite, yet ineffective avoidance maneuvers, the bunny was giving hugs to the other children. The boy would put one hand on the bunny’s arm to brace himself, then launch into the air, smacking the giant bunny head, causing it to spin sideways or tip. As I watched in dismay, the bunny was stepping closer and closer to two plates that had been left on the ground by other demons, I mean children, whose parents had obviously no understanding of the concept of parenting and had abandoned their duties. After the fifth or sixth time he punched the bunny’s head – I was unable to control myself. I stepped up behind the child (probably 7-years old) and said, “HEY!”

He turned slowly to look at me, his eyes alight with his bunny bonking success. I squinted my eyes at him, doing my best Clint Eastwood in his prime, and shook my head slowly, “Don’t. Do. It. Again.” His eyes widened and he darted off. Quick as a bunny.

Aside from the momentary fear I was about to be assaulted by a bad parent and have a knock down drag out, I was pretty pleased.

I downed the last of my glass and walked off into the noonday sun.

And THAT’S how I rescued the Easter bunny.

easter bunny

*Reference to PANK does in no way indicate I don’t consider Derek and Austin my kids. I just didn’t get to do this sort of “little kid” thing with them.

CHRISTMAS: I’M NOT READY

20121222-174904.jpg

As usual, my dread of shopping has resulted in a last-minute frenzy. Amazon.com is my new best friend. I think we’ve probably placed a dozen orders, and they’re all due to arrive on Christmas Eve. Before 8:00 PM. This could cause problems since we have one of the three family tree events on Christmas Eve around 6:00. But I BELIEVE. I BELIEVE UPS will deliver. I have to believe that or I will be forced to consider the alternative: “Thank you so much for your thoughtful gift. Yours is in a truck en route to my house as we speak. I’ll drop it off sometime before New Year. You’re welcome.”

Second issue: We have lost the box of wrapping paper, ribbon and gift bags that I collected (hoarded) for the past 20 years. We have climbed into both attics, dug through every closet and looked through every pile in the garage. Nothing. I’m not too panicked about that yet as there are only two gifts that were actually purchased “live and in person,” so I’m not surrounded by unwrapped boxes. Yet. Worst case scenario? I either buy all new supplies or let my lazy side win and wrap all the gifts in newspaper. Wonder if everyone would believe I was suddenly concerned about the environment and was making a “statement”?

Nah. They know me too well. I’ll wrap the gifts in aluminum foil. They’ll resemble well-packaged leftovers.

It’s just that kind of year. I wouldn’t even have all the decorations out if not for Austin. He decided he didn’t like my minimalist Christmas (tree and wreath only), went into the attic while I was at work and dragged everything out. When I got home the stockings were hung by the chimney (with care) and the baby Jesus & Company adorned the side table in the den. If he does the same thing in reverse before January 2nd, I’ll consider my wildest Christmas dreams realized.

Okay, not really. But close. My wildest Christmas dream is being somewhere on an island, with warm temperatures and crystal clear blue water lapping at my toes as I sip a rum drink. Sigh.

20121222-175019.jpg

Instead, I’m going to enjoy the tried and true traditions of a drive with the boys (and Daisy) to look at Christmas lights, a late night viewing of White Christmas, (somehow I managed to convince Derek to watch it with me when he was younger and now it’s our tradition – often enjoyed by just the two of us), and the Christmas Eve candlelight service that always manages to make me well up when they dim the lights and the congregation sings the last stanza of “Silent Night.”

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Now, pass the eggnog. I’ve gotta’ get creative with the Reynolds wrap.

THEY CALL IT “HOLIDAY SPIRIT” BECAUSE IT MAKES YOU WANT TO DRINK

Due to medication and someone having the terrible judgment (sorry, Mom, but it’s true sometimes), I was left to my own devices in the mall. As the story goes, Mom met me at Northpark Center to generously purchase my early Christmas present, birthday present and perhaps Easter gift, all in one.

Once she departed, I drifted over to Brookstone where I bought a FABULOUS new cover and keyboard to go with my FABULOUS new ipad. So far so good except the part that I left out about how my iPhone charger “socket?” is corroded, which is highly unusual and caused my numero uno IT contact at work – to whom I immediately sent an email from the store – to respond to my email with probing technical questions like,

-Are you using some “odd ball” charger?
-Are you working on the beach at the ocean?
-Have you tried not breathing on it?

He has promised to help me Monday if I bring him a flaxen haired fair maiden and two pigs. Not necessarily in that order.

ANYWAY, off I go with my new stuff… oh, I forgot to say I moved the car because this mall is BIG and I HATE malls, so I moved my car closer to where the Brookstone was so I would have to deal with less people NOT GETTING OUT OF MY WAY. (Can you even imagine how stressed I am when not on 10 mg of Valium?)

I do the deal at Brookstone and stroll (or power walk with elbows jutting out to take up as much space as possible so I don’t get knocked over by people) to the nearest exit (right by Macy’s) and drive happily away. Until I am 5 minutes from home in my medicated stupor and realize I did NOT go into Macy’s (the other reason for going to the mall) and pick up my new black riding boots and scrumptious patten leather pumps. You see, I had purchased them days ago but had to wait to pick them up until after the 28th to save 25% – and so they “THE MAN, i.e. Donald Trump” could lure me back into the shoe department.

20121202-165938.jpg

Instead, I had to return to the mall on Saturday. Saturday. In December. A MALL. I searched – and I am not joking – 40 minutes for a parking space which I found far, far away from my destination and put on my game face. You’ll have to take my word for it. Game face is SUPER SERIOUS and has been known to make people clasp their small children a little closer.

Guess what happens at Northpark Center in December? Holiday Events. LOTS of them.

EVERYWHERE.

20121202-170356.jpg

I passed Santa’s Toy Shoppe Puppet Theatre, Gingertown Dallas, and the Holiday Performance Area. Not sure what was happening there, but it involved a choir, then I saw them shove a bunch of semi-nude dancers on stage. The only explanation I can come up with for the costumes was that the next group – possibly the Cirque Dreams Holidaze – had absconded with every sequin in the tri-state area.

I made my way back out of Macy’s and crossed the mass of humanity watching the latest festive performance. Then and there, a Christmas miracle happened.

I was speeding unencumbered toward the exit, when from behind me in the performance area, I heard the strains of… Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries – and I smiled in victory.