Holiday

Holiday Gift Ideas

Holidays are just around the corner and since everyone else has come up with his/her “gift ideas list”, I thought I’d share mine (all of these have been tested and approved by yours truly)!  (FYI:  I am not receiving any compensation for these links and/or recommendations.)

WOMEN

(1)  Lagos Sterling Silver “Love Knot” Earrings

(2)  Lagos Caviar Hoop Earrings

(3)  Whole Foods Gift Certificate

(4)  Prepared Meal and Fresh Flowers Delivered by Instacart

(5)  Barefoot Dreams Cozychic Luxe Laguna Jacket

(6)  Greg McKeown’s ESSENTIALISM:  The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

(7)  Museum membership or membership renewal

(8)  Donation to a charity in her honor

(9)  A basket of her favorite jam and/or honey

MEN

(1)  Patagonia’s Better Sweater Vest

(2)  Museum membership or membership renewal

(3)  Donation to a charity in his honor

(4)  Gift card to COMIXOLOGY

(5)  Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep

(6)  Canali Reversible Belt

(7)  Peter Millar Sweater

(8)  His favorite home-cooked meal and movie

(9)  Dinner at his favorite restaurant

CHILDREN

This list does not include gift ideas for children because there is such a range of preferences for parents and children themselves depending on their ages.  But from personal experience, books, Lego sets, and visits to the museums/zoos are always hits!

Holiday Gift Ideas

charliebrownholiday

For those of you who plan on taking advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday to shop for gifts, here are a few ideas to get you started:

(1)  Aromatherapy–Pregnant or not, many people appreciate a soothing scent.  Great for the office or home, male or female, this gift is perfect for just about anyone.  Ideas include diffusers, candles,  and/or soaps.

(2)  Philanthropic Causes–Donate to a worthy cause in honor or memory of someone important in your life and/or help create awareness of a charity.

(3)  Food–Food has always been my favorite things to receive as gifts.  Whether it’s a hearty batch of soup, a dozen boxed cupcakes, and/or a basket of trail mix, food is a sure crowd pleaser.

(4)  Classic Movies–Know someone who’s a fan of movies from the 80s, 50s, or any other decade?  Amazon has some great deals on DVD sets.

(5)  Activities–Recent studies show that money can buy happiness: it’s better to spend money on experiences instead of things.  Ideas include a cooking class, gym and/or workout class, art class, museum exhibit and/or event, etc.

(6)  Cold Weather Accessories–Many people I know (including myself) tend to lose gloves, ear muffs, and/or scarves every winter so it helps to have an extra set just in case.  Ideas include ear muffs, scarves, gloves, and/or hats.

Thanksgiving Menu

charliebrownthanksgiving

Hope everyone is geared up for Thanksgiving.  I am just recovering from three weeks of bronchitis and flu (on my last day of antibiotics) and it feels great to be blogging, again.  For those of you who have never tried Breathe Right nose strips, I highly recommend them (you can buy the regular version at any drug and/or grocery store but I’ve only seen the menthol version online).  They might even make great stocking stuffers and/or holiday gifts.

As for Thanksgiving, it will be a quiet one for us (with only a few weeks until the baby arrives).  This year, the menu will be provided by Whole Foods and a local Chinese restaurant:  Peking duck with scallions, Szechuan string beans, chicken corn soup, mashed maple sweet potatoes, mixed fruit platter, and strawberry cream cake.  Short, sweet, simple, and hits the spot.

Holiday Menu

complacency

So, it’s that time of year, again–Passover (and Easter).  Hubby and I are looking to a have a quiet evening and Seder for two on Monday and then are entertaining and hosting the second Seder for 8-10 people next Saturday.  Thank goodness for online ordering and food-to-go.

Everyone knows that we don’t keep kosher.  It’s just never been my belief that the path to salvation is through the food you eat (or don’t eat).  With that said, I am respectful of the high holidays by eating “neutral” foods (i.e., fish, fruit, and veggies, as well as anything else that’s not on the “black list” such as pork and shellfish).  So, this year (which will be my second time hosting Passover Seder [as I have been lucky enough to go to other people’s seders and just sit back and relax in previous years]), I’ve come up with the following menu (with the help of Whole Foods, Lotte, and Charlie Chiang’s):

Ginger matzah ball soup, Chopped chicken liver, Fresh celery (Seder plate), Fresh Parsley (Seder plate), Cut tropical fruit with sliced and blanched almonds,  Coconut macaroons, Chocolate covered matzah, Fresh clementines, Stir-fried spinach with garlic and shitake mushrooms, Hardboiled eggs, (Seder plate), Lettuce (Seder plate), Wasabi (Seder plate), Sashimi platter, and Roasted (Peking) duck

Not traditional (Ashkenazi or Sephardi) Jewish fare, but Chinese American Jewish fare :).  Lets face it–there’s a reason Jews eat lots of Chinese food.  Could it possibly be that (traditional) Jewish food doesn’t quite measure up?

I wanted to write this post today to inspire those who celebrate Passover and Easter (and/or other holidays) to do something different and create your own traditions.  Don’t be afraid to think and step out of the box and be creative and imaginative, and, most of all, be yourself!

Chinese New Year

lanterns

Chinese New Year is on 1/31 and this is the Year of the Horse.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the holiday, Chinese New Year is, in many ways, a combination of Christmas/Chanukah, Rosh Hashanah, Passover, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve.  Gifts are exchanged, often with symbolic meanings (cakes, fruit baskets, etc.).  Similar to Jews giving children gelt (often chocolate “gold” coins) on Chanukah, the Chinese give children little red envelopes of cash on Chinese New Year.  Food, of course, takes center stage during the holiday with classics such as fish, noodles, spring rolls, dumplings, seafood, tangerines, exotic fruits, etc. (all symbolizing good luck and prosperity, of course).

In addition, there’s lots of pre-holiday prep that goes on weeks beforehand.  Growing up, I remember my mother cleaning out the entire house, cars, refrigerator, etc.–all in preparation for a “clean slate” for the upcoming year.  There would also be new clothes for every one, new haircuts, issues and conflicts resolved,  etc.–all before New Year’s Day (which would vary from year to year per the lunar calendar).

All this talk about the holiday makes me think about how I’d like to pass tradition down to my children one day as “[c]ultures grow on the vines of tradition” (Jonah Goldberg).

Naughty or Nice

santa

“Have you been naughty or nice?”

I wake up to see a smile full of sharp, yellow teeth.  He’s standing at the foot of the bed with an axe covered in blood.  With a gasp, I bolt toward the door.  His long nails claw my hair as I run, almost tripping on the hardwood floor.  My heart pounds as I sprint toward the stairway.  If only I can make it downstairs.

“Have you been naughty or nice?”  His voice is close and I can smell his rotting breath behind me.  SLAM.  The axe crashes into the wall within an inch from my right ear.  The stairs seem a mile long.  Instead of taking one step at a time, I can take two or maybe even three.  I have to.  But would I make it?  I take a deep breath and jump over as many as I can.  I need to fly. 

The monster’s talons grab a hold of my left shoulder.  I fall back on a step and tumble down the remaining flight of stairs.  The back of my head hits the bottom of the staircase.  Lying there with my head throbbing, I see large eyes and a wide bear trap smile.

“Have you been naughty or nice?” he purrs as he raises the axe.

 

Pack Light

packlight

Since many people I know are out and about for holiday, I thought I would recommend the best toiletry and cosmetics bag I have ever used (a Chanukah gift for myself, as a matter of fact).  It’s the Tumi “Monaco” Travel Case.  Amazing, really–lots of compartments, easy-to-wipe-clean nylon, interior and exterior pockets, and it has a metal hanging hook.  Great for travel.  Plus, if you get it from Nordstrom, it has a lifetime warranty.  A great gift for anyone and everyone.