Last Gift Guide 2017

Sorry, my little friends, for being a bad bloggess this month. Does bloggess have two g’s or one? I have been terribly overwhelmed for the past couple of weeks, and when that happens, I can only handle the crisis that is immediately in front of me.

I have also been a terrible holiday shopper this month, so I have just a few recommendations for you. I’m sure that you are all much better parents and friends and aunts and cousins than myself this month, but just in case you are late, too, here’s what I’ve found or am thinking about or touched in the store or ogled in a magazine:

Teenager and Tweens — Bob Ross socks, Laptop, speaker, Exploding Kittens game, Alex and Ani college bracelets, Adidas hoodie, games for the Nintendo switch,

Technology – battery pack, travel charger, Charging Station, IMac,

Kitchen — Le Souk platter, alright, alright an Instant Pot, a Le Creuset dutch oven (much better), appetizer plates,

Hostess gift of the month — a gold and white planter with a succulent from IKEA

And now I must run off to handle the next crisis in front of me. I never ordered Christmas cards and now I’m feeling guilty about it. So, off to put out that fire. Maybe we’ll get them before the holidays. Maybe not.

I’ll be back later this afternoon, after the hair salon covers up the white streaks at my temple that make me look like Dr. Strange. Still need to answer two or three urgent work e-mails… Ugh.

40 thoughts on “Last Gift Guide 2017

  1. Husband and I were doing a gift count last night to make sure we had an equitable number/quality of gifts for the kids. Until we went through the closet stash, I didn’t remember half the items. It’s like I’ve been sleep shopping all month…

    I’m not totally satisfied with the big kids’ stuff. It’s a) weird (sis gave C Spock socks!!!) and b) there’s a lot of used stuff (like a 20+ year old keyboard from Craigslist) and c) maybe too practical (corduroy pants and red wool sweater for D) and e) *shudder* EDUCATIONAL, but it’s not that easy to buy for big kids. (The 5-year-old is getting a Frozen bike, her first real bike, so she’d be set even if she weren’t getting anything else.) Husband and I are planning to take the big kids to the new half price books store and turn them loose with a $15 allowance each to make up the fun gap between them and baby sister.

    We just do a photobook for the adults in the extended family, so our kids’ gifts are 80% of our Christmas shopping.


      1. A new saying: instead of “like a dog with a bone” it’ll be “like dave.s. with an Instant Pot”! Hah!

        …although I’m with Laura – the le Creuset dutch oven is THE most amazing piece of cookware I’ve ever owned. Why I waited to get one I’ll never know.


      2. Can someone explain to me what is so great about the Le Creuset dutch ovens? I cook on the stove with my stainless Farberware pots of a variety of sizes, and have roasting pans etc. for in the oven. The dutch ovens always seem to heavy to be worthwhile for either thing, and I don’t see too many recipes that call for transferring from stove to oven. Plus they are very expensive.


      3. Enameled cast iron is the same thing. I agree the stuff’s amazing. It holds heat very well, so the heat is more even on the dish. I wish I had known about it when I was setting up my first kitchen.

        Instructions will tell you to hand wash it, but I throw mine in the dishwasher with no problems. Le Creuset’s very expensive, but for my money you’d be doing just as well with:

        Martha Stewart’s line of enameled cast iron at Macy’s. On sale today (christmas season?)

        (I have a couple of pieces, and they hold up superbly.)

        Or, Ikea’s SENIOR casserole. (trying to limit links here.) (I admired it in the shop, but I already have my cast iron.)

        Or, any of the Lodge cast iron casseroles.

        So you don’t have to pay $360 for enameled cast iron dutch ovens. Around $50 – 70 is quite possible. If you still want Le Creuset, sometimes Marshalls or TJ Maxx will have some.


      4. Cranberry said:

        “So you don’t have to pay $360 for enameled cast iron dutch ovens. Around $50 – 70 is quite possible. If you still want Le Creuset, sometimes Marshalls or TJ Maxx will have some.”

        Oh my! That would be quite a score.


      5. There were quite a few in 2008. My theory was upscale kitchen shops closing or dumping inventory. There are far fewer kitchen shops around than there once were.

        Le Creuset also has colors that they introduce. Often it seems to me the stuff you’ll find in TJ Maxx/Homegoods/Marshalls are off-color lots. Sometimes, maybe there’s a scratch somewhere. In other words, it isn’t perfect. On the other hand, after a week in my kitchen, everything has a scratch somewhere. And nothing matches.

        You can get the same functionality from a well seasoned cast iron pot, with the added benefit of iron leaching into your food, which is a good thing. It’s just that it’s more tricky to keep a pot seasoned. You can’t just throw it in the dishwasher or leave it on a drying rack after handwashing. A dishwasher removes seasoning, and air drying causes rust.

        People obsess over this stuff, which is not healthy. On the other hand, it would be a lovely present for a group wedding shower present, as it lasts forever, and the brand has a great reputation.

        If I absolutely wanted the brand, I’d look on Ebay (auctions). Only bid on items other buyers are bidding on. Don’t buy anything with significant wear on the enamel on the cooking surface. Wear on the outside is just cosmetic, and could even be seen as “aging.”

        Cast iron is heavy. When I can’t lift it anymore I’ll pass it on to my kids.


  2. My cousin and I have had a present moratorium for years. And my sister and I just agreed we will give each others’ kids Amazon gift cards.

    Some of the other presents I have to wrap:

    Portal Game. I have been told Cake is a lie.

    Bears vs. Babies


    Dixit (Not wrapping but recommending. A storytelling game)

    I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

    A Legacy of Spiesé-ebook/dp/B06XBP2W3M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513696069&sr=8-1&keywords=le+carre

    The Whole Seed Catalog 2018 (not currently available online @ Amazon. Ha! It was admired by the Barnes & Noble clerk. I told him to buy his own copy before it sold out. How right I was!)

    Portable Charger for phones:

    Did you know it is quite possible for college students to buy a electronic tickets without paper backup, but for the phone to discharge before arriving at their destination?

    I recommend Amazon Charts. The list is much better than other bestseller lists, as it’s not affected by publishers pushing books into stores. I hate buying a book based on its “bestseller” status, only to find that it’s not that good. (It’s interesting how many “bestsellers” end up with very unimpressive reader reviews on Amazon.)

    As Amazon has access to Kindle data, there’s also a list of “most read” as well as “most sold.”


    1. I agree about “bestseller” lists. In addition to the books being pushed onto them, they’re often not very diverse. White guys reviewing white guy authors. Book Riot and it’s various podcasts have excellent book recommendations – ones that I never would have come across otherwise.


    2. Cranberry said:

      “My cousin and I have had a present moratorium for years. And my sister and I just agreed we will give each others’ kids Amazon gift cards.”


      I have a present moratorium with SIL.

      I send birthday gifts to my sis’s sons, but sis has let me off the hook for Christmas the last couple years because she usually forgets my kids’ birthdays.


    3. Husband just ordered “Duel” for D (age 12)–I expect it will be them playing. It’s a 2-player game, which is handy.

      Husband, C and D like Star Trek Fleet Captains:

      It’s a larger investment, and obviously best suited for the multi-Trekkie household, and in our case, best when mom takes baby sister out for a couple of hours.

      We also own three pairs of these:


      1. Thank you. A shame there aren’t any red shirts.

        Just ordered _I am a strange loop_ and _Goedel Escher Bach_ as well.


      2. Cranberry said:

        “Thank you. A shame there aren’t any red shirts.”

        I know! I’ve bought one in the past, though.

        It’s very off-and-on with colors and sizes with that item.


  3. I’ve been watching old Gilmore Girls lately, so bloggess reminds me of jamstress and cowherderess – two of my favorite additions to the lexicon.

    I second the Dixit recommendation – one of few games where a six year old can go up against a 75 year old and win fairly. The card game Ruckus is also excellent and in demand every year. Apples to Apples is another favorite. We also play Bingo with dimestore-type wrapped prizes, good for large crowds, so I got some new Bingo supplies.

    I’ve bought a few things from Uncommon Goods and liked them. A cool crackers and cheese board with a cracker-sized indentation in the shape of an ampersand, which is a hostess gift for the boyfriend’s parents, and a foot massager thing for my sister in law. (It’s some sort of Scandanavian reflexology thing, basically the bottom of a sandal used with stone balls you heat up in hot water.)


    1. Those Cook’s magazine cookbooks are very good. I got my wife the “Cooking for Two” book, since we are empty nesters. (Also, now that she is retired and I am still working, we have this total ’50s marriage where she makes dinner every night.)


    1. It was a cute concept. Other than that, like most novels, it wandered a bit at the end. It did not deserve the award it received.

      We like Star Trek, but we aren’t Trekkies.


      1. Scalzi is an absolutely genius self promoter, and a moderately gifted writer. He has put it together, with a blog and lots of attendance at conventions, into a rather rewarding career. I’m sure there are lots of scifi writers looking on and saying, ‘how did he DO that???’


  4. I think the correct word is blogress (with an “r”). Actor/actress, waiter/waitress, blogger/blogress. And I’m sure Hyman Kaplan (if you haven’t read those stories, you should) would agree.


    1. I read pretty much everything by Leo Rosten when I was in high school. This was before the Internet, so I’d wander the stacks of the library looking for anything to read.


  5. Did anyone else read Ann Patchett: “”?

    I went weirdly overboard for Hanukkah this year, and realized that I was shopping like Patchett describes, as a distraction.

    I’m not going to do a year of no shopping, but I am going to work harder to find other things to do than click “buy”.


      1. The guys that drive around my neighborhood with giant menorah on the roof the car would like to have a word with you.


      2. MH said:

        “The guys that drive around my neighborhood with giant menorah on the roof the car would like to have a word with you.”

        Oh, man.

        I never saw anything like that when I lived there.


      3. There’s an intermittently active group doing proselytization of slacker Jews. They always start with asking if you are Jewish. It’s probably just my imagination, but they never seem to ask me unless I haven’t been getting any exercise.


      4. MH said:

        “There’s an intermittently active group doing proselytization of slacker Jews.”

        I feel like “Slacker Jews” would be a great band name.


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