Sunday, December 18, 2011

Last Minute Solutions

I know -- just a few days to go and you're panicking.

Or maybe not! But last minute gift buying is how people get into trouble. You just buy what's there and often can spend much more than you wanted to. I encourage you to go out with a list and try to stick to it. And use cash or at least a debit card if you are one of the many in this current economy who are not in a place to handle large credit card bills come January.

There's still time to order online, though you may have to pay a pretty penny to get it delivered by X-mas. The good thing about New Years being so close is that a box arriving in the lull between X-mas/Kwanzaa and New Years Eve doesn't seem late, but kind of welcome... so if it gets there on Dec 28th, in most cases, it should be fine.

HERE'S A BIG TIP: When you order online, before you check out, open a new tab on your search engine and Google the store name + coupons. 90% of the time you will find a code in seconds that will save you $5, $10, 25% off your order, or get your free shipping! Just plug it into the field that will come up as promotional code and hit the apply button to see your total change for the better.

A great last minute gift that gives a lot of bang for your buck is a magazine subscription. Run don't walk to your nearest large news stand, or Barnes and Noble or Boarders where you can spend a rather pleasant bit of time acquainting yourself with the incredibly diverse collection of offerings. Each has a little card inside, which you can pilfer at no charge. Then you can either come home and look up the website or even call to expedite things.

The mag should send out a card announcing your gift, but at this late date, it doesn't matter. I suggest you buy a copy of the mag you want to give, roll it up and wrap it with a bow or put it in a shirt box in lots of tissue and wrap that. So you give the issue as the calling card for your gift to come. These can be as low as $11.95 and yet it gives ALL YEAR LONG. Best of all, they will think of you each month when it arrives. I think it's the best value out there.

Also, I still think the gift of music is a wonderful thing... and I suggest you make it yourself, putting together a play list of anywhere from 10-22 songs (whatever you have time for or your CD will hold). They key is to try to make one that's geared toward the tastes of the receiver. If they don't love Opera, don't go there. If you don't know their tastes, maybe that's not the thing to make for them, but if you CLICK HERE I wrote up a few ideas that will cost you little in time or money to make and give.

How about Theater tickets? Opera? Performance Art? The Circus? It doesn't necessarily have to be to a big production, depending on who you are giving them to...

And then there are books.  You can google best books of 2011 to get many lists if you are needing suggestions - try the New York Times lists, NPR's, Oprah's Book List, . I suggest a browse thru your local bookstore or asking a knowledgeable staffer to help you pick something generally good, if you are not 100% sure of the interest of your recipient. Worst case, good quality coffee table or photo book is a safe bet. If you MUST, you can give e-books... ugh (sorry, I try to be unbiased)....

Which brings me to --- gift cards. W
hile I'd prefer to give an actual gift, many really do appreciate these, more and more it seems. And when you get them to generic places like a bookstore (where they can also get CD's and DVD's and even candy and stationery items) or a general department store like Macy's is a  win/win.

Get creative with certificate at a restaurant or coffee shop they like to go to. For teens and college age, (and many grown ups, like ME) an Itunes card is a sure fire welcome bet. They may also like a card to Gap or Banana Republic or Abercrombie or Nike. If someone is a new home owner or a fixer upper type, how about one from Home Depot? Newlyweds go for Bed Bath and Beyond. Starting a new Business -- try an Office Depot or Staples GC. New Parents - ToysRUs or BabiesRUs. A Tech Head (or most men and boys )-- Best Buy, Circuit City, Academy Sports Store. If they have any Apple product, and Apple store card will make them think you're the coolest. There's also a card called Spafinder -- you buy a denomination and they check a website that lists many spas that it can be applied to in their area. It's good coast to coast. And don't forget the Starbucks Card... You can find racks of choices at any major grocery store chain, if not through the website or store itself.  IF TIME IS TIGHT, CALL THE STORE BEFORE YOU GO THERE to find out if they do...

There are also cards that can just be like cash -- AMEX or Master Card brands work like credit cards toward any purchase. Just read the fine print at the back for news of fees and expiration dates. Many cards are offering no expiration these days.

Fortunately, you can go to most CVS's or grocery stores to find all that I've mentioned.

Or, you can call any beauty salon or spa to buy a gift certificate over the phone and have it waiting at the Salon for your loved one to walk in and use. You can wrap a box with a Card inside that you make up saying as much if you want to hand them something.

You can always send food or flowers/candle centerpieces still. And I have often called a florist in the town someone lives in to get it done in 24 - 48 hours, rather than relied on the extra time and fees going through national services. Just Google the town and what you want and call. I have sent cakes, cookie assortments, hams and turkeys, champagne etc by calling a local grocery store and pleading my case to the MANAGER. I have given my card number on the phone or faxed a copy of it and my drivers lisc, and they can fax ore- mail a receipt if you need one. Where there's a will there's a way. At this time of year, though folks are busier, they also are in the spirit and try harder to make it happen. Get the names of who helped you in case something goes awry. I have had incredible things happen using this method, and often want to send THEM a thank you note!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Got Coffee? Give It!

Another item so good, I have to list it again...

PURE KONA COFFEE for the conniseur, the purist or YOU.

If you're a coffee lover, you know that pure 100% Kona beans are considered by many to be the best in the world. What you may have not know is that labels touting that they're Kona coffee often have only a percentage of true Kona beans in them.

I know a lovely couple on the Big Island who live on and run a small coffee farm with their daughter Athena. The climate and soil on their little patch of paradise is ideal for growing the best beans and they tend to every part of the process with great care and love. Their products are the handpicked, sundried, genuine 100% Kona beans. Check out my favorite if you're game - the American Roast: No smoother, tastier java will ever pass your taste buds.

If you're looking for a high end gift, ATHENA of HAWAI'I will send your bag in the beautiful
handmade box above - dark wood with a very shiny, multi-page booklet inside describing the coffee farm and the region of Kona. Especially good for the person who has everything. Or your business partners or the big boss.

And they ship everything fast and for FREE.

There is also this limited-edition, collectible tapa pouch, long used by ancients for wrappings and clothing.

Visit Athena of Hawaii - to learn more about these products, and CLICK HERE for their shop.

These are very friendly folks so if you have any questions or want to know more, drop them a line: or call (+USA) 1 808 328-0440.

On a Budget? Quick, Meaningful Homemade Gifts

  One of the blessings of this time of year is that the true meaning of Christmas can resurface -- the spiritual reasons, the contemplation of a year past and the hope a new one brings, spending time with family, breaking bread, and serving others who may be in even greater need. 

The true gift of these times is that we realize what is more important and identify what isn't, learn that we can indeed live with far less, while we need each other more... If there was ever a time to be filled with the true Spirit and meaning of Christmas, this time--right now-- is.

A return to things found and made to give as gifts require we give much more of ourselves, cause us to think more about the person we craft it for... and they are enjoyed in equal measure because of it. So what if you make something this year? There's still time for the below:

The Gift of Music:

My favorite thing to give and receive is a home made playlist or CD. Don't need fancy label making software or to buy name brand discs and cases...

I take my time thinking about the person and their tastes, and sometimes I give people something I think is good that might expand their usual fare. Today with Itunes and a laptop that can burn CD's (or an external CD maker) it's easy.  Type up the playlist by title and artist and print it out on some colored paper, then tape to the inside of a jewel case... or even give in an envelope or a paper case... OR you can compose a playlist on your computer, then put the list in a box, wrapped to give. When they open, you can download it to the device of their choice.

Go wild and make two discs or a collection, each for different moods or seasons. In the process, you will discover new or rediscover old music you love and remember the power that music carries. TIP: Find cheaper, non-name brand stacks of blank CD's at Office Depot or Staples.

"Spirit" Box
For Gratitude, Fears or Worries. There is plenty to be worried about these days, and often we feel helpless. Create a sacred box that your loved one can use to turn whatever's keeping them up at night or dragging down their day over and let it go...

Take any kind of box and cut out pictures of whatever you think will enhance the meaning of the box for the receiver... you can simply glue those on, or add decoupage (easily procured for a few bucks from your local craft store), You can paint it a soothing color. Or you might find a box at a flea market or garage sale. It could even be a basket, but I suggest it has a top. There is something theraputic about shutting the lid on the issue of the moment. Include a little pad of paper and if you'd like, a fountain pen (see here for one under $4), a cool pencil or something with colored ink.  Include  directions essentially saying: This box is to hold their troubles and questions, letters to people saying what they couldn't say in person, forgivenesses, etc... Write it on paper and put it in side, then let go and let the universe work it's magic. Make it as simple or elaborate (adding an inspirational quote or poem) as you like.

Appreciation Book:
I once made up a book for a friend... 25 reasons why -- take your pick: I love/admire/repect/appreciate/am crazy about you, want to be your friend, love living my life with you, can't live without you" for starters. It can go to a significant other, a dear friend, a mentor, your kids, grandkids, etc...

I made up a list over a few days of everything that came into my head on the topic. The best ones stood out and I chose from that list a smaller list. I arranged each in the order I thought worked and found a little notebook with a hard cover. Places that sell small photo albums or brag books work well - or make your own. You can go to town making little collages, writing on related or meaningful pictures, etc... but I just wrote the words on each plain white page, nicely, neatly maybe, but believe me, simple words are enough if you're not up for an art project.

A Year of Good Jar:
A jar that holds 365 little notes, quotes, etc... personalized for whomever the receiver is... I put one on this blog a few months ago (CLICK HERE to see) and I thought, this would be very easy to make CLICK HERE to see that example. This site will give you many other ideas besides the example I used that was for a sister.

Plain Ol' Photos
Yep, people still love photos, even though you might be able to see them all on Facebook, INSTAGRAM, SnapFish etc. Photos you can hold in your hand, frame, preserve in an album.

With many of our at-home computer printers able to do photos, that has become easier, or take pix on a little thumb drive to CVS or Walgreens and use their easy machines for a buck or so a pic (watch the circulars for weekly deals). If you don't want to do that you should be able to drop them off at your local Staples, Office Depot or Kinkos and have them do it all for you for not that much more.

You can give as is, include with a photo album, put them IN the album yourself and give that or frame (if you have a good eye you can find them cheap at drugstores, Walmart or discount places like Kohls, Loehmans, TJMaxx, etc...).

Not just any Recipes:
We all would like that recipe that grandma made, or mom, or aunt so and so.... or all of them. If you can get hold of those, you will be a HERO!  Food, like music, bring us back to different times and places immediately, so nothing could be more personal, more honoring of your own legacy than these kinds of gifts.

Write it out neatly (or type) on a card that's durable (or you can go to town and laminate it at any office supply store) and give it as is, in a card with a related memory, or in a box or book with blank spaces for them to add more.

The Gift of Make Believe, Fun and Play:
Superhero in a Box, for ages 3 and up, one size fits all somehow... Cool idea for any age.  It doesn't need to be Halloween, as you know, since kids ALWAYS love to dress up. Great for impromptu family theater, photo sessions, etc... as the day's festivities wind down and there's all that time and no school!

Even without being able to sew, you could make a bunny in a box by getting a little set of ears and a tail and a pink tee shirt including an eyebrow pencil to draw on whiskers. Red Riding Hood in a box? Fireman? Doctor? Or leave it to their imagination and just include masks, ears on headbands, face paint, temporary tattoos, colored hair sprays, and a big square of solid colored fabric to present endless possibilities!

And I don't even have to mention that there are adult versions of this one see hee.. the french maid, the fireman, etc...

Food, Glorious Food!
It is a time for eating, drinking and being merry... so even if you throw some cinnamon sticks and nutmeg into apple cider or wine and pour it into a mason jar, make rice chrispie treats (I dice up those red and green candied cherries you can find this time of year to make flecks of christmas color in them), put split peas and chicken bullion into a jar and tie an artfully written soup recipe around the lid with a pretty ribbon, or go to town cutting out cookies and decorating them, I guarantee it will be welcomed and consumed. I have popped my own corn and drizzled caramel on it and dipped mini pretzles into melted chocolate and let them dry on wax paper over cookie sheets and given those away. Also, hard candy recipes abound... with a little karo syrup and a thermometer and some tasty extracts, you can put some local stores out of business!

Hand Crafting:
It goes without saying that if you knit a scarf or afgan or booties, sew up stockings or a hat, bake clay or carve wood to make ornaments, or can whip up a cloth dollie, you HAVE to know it will be the BEST GIFT. Yes the world has become high tech, but nothing beats the time and thoughtfulness put into something made by the hands and heart. And yes, some of these take time and there are only about 9 days left til Christmas and Kwanzaa. But it's something to think about.

CLICK HERE for more DIY gifts posts on this blog!

If you have any ideas, please share them in the comment area! Hopefully this list got your wheels turning, and will revive your spirit a little. 

Gifts for the Spiritual or Religious

This was a favorite list from a previous year that I have updated as they are classic items I'd still recommend today....

Hardly a comprehensive list, here are just a few mentions:

The Priests -- A wonderful CD, many songs in latin. Like the three tenors with more of the haunting calm of gregorian chants. This was playing in a really hip housewares store in

Houston and I ran out and bought it for myself and a few people I know, none of whom are religious. You can listen at iTunes or on your next trip to your local CD store. If not, I've seen it in Barnes and Noble.

Shelia Chandra -- Roots and Wings: Ethereal, wonderful, echoing songs. Shelia uses her voice like an instrument. Good for the yogini too. Indian Western synth pop is their description, but it doesn't do justice to the haunting beauty of these atmospheric songs.

A Jewish Oddessy --A compilation of music put together by the international folks at Putumayo.

JEWELRY, etc..
James has a really clean, classy selection of high quality jewlery -- pendants, rings, bracelets, wall crosses. While it's Christian for the most part, there are some items that
feature hebrew lettering.

Heavenly -- Another place that offers lovely things - hearts, peace, animal themed as well. One friend ordered a prayer box necklace (see picture). It's a little box that you can wear around your neck that opens like a locket. She puts a prayer in there and wears it. She changes it depending on what she's facing in life.

I have recomended this site before -- Satyajewelry. High quality for very reasonable prices, with stones and symbols like OM, Lotus, Ganesh, etc... that have spiritual properties. Pictured is a very pretty Star of David necklace in brushed gold. 

One World Books and Treasures -- Unique, select gifts for those who don't subscribe to one faith or who promote interfaith. On home page, the column to left lists many categories, and they have books and CD's too.  CLICK HERE

A Mezuzah for the door frame is a nice gift if someone Jewish has moved into a new home or apartment. There are a mind boggling array of designs to be found in a religious store near you or on the internet.

The Seekers Guide by Elizabeth Lesser. I heard this was out of print (though seems new copies can be found through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or through their used booksellers links). A FABULOUS book for people who are looking to find some kind of spirituality, if not religion. The founder of the esteemed Omega Institute in upstate New York, Lesser reads like letters from an old friend, writing with ease and clarity about things that are usually hard to put into words. Covers all kinds of practices and paths. CLICK HERE

Spiritual Liberation by Michael Bernard Beckwith -- this is my teacher, who also appeared in The Secret, among many roles, the founder of Agape International in LA. He also has several CD's out of his entertaining, energetic "sermons". I recommend also a CD on Life Visioning, where he walks you through the process. CLICK HERE for that.

Or, CLICK HERE for an abundance of his work, as well as lots of New Thought and Metaphysical reading -- good for anyone seeking, those who are Unitarian Universalists, Unity, Religious Science, and the like.
The Life Recovery Bible -- The bible as a blueprint for the recovery process. Maybe something to puruse if you have someone on your list who is struggling to overcome (I also love You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, in book form, with CD's of sessions with Louise herself, or the new DVD she has made about the Principles).

The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary -- One of the basic books of Charles FIllmore's thinking (founder of Unity) on what names, events and symbols from the bible mean in a metaphysical sense.

How about a beautiful gift edition of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

The Gift by Hafiz, and Essential Rumi by Jalal al-Din Rumitwo incredible sufi poets, whose writings are so clear and relevant to today. You can also sign your loved one up to receive daily quotes from Rumi via e-mail.

Illuminata by Marianne Williamson -- An older book, but, a classic I think. A lovely collection of non-denominational prayers for every person and occasion.

The Greatest Words Ever Spoken --Steve K. Scott. New in hardcover this takes all the statements of Christ and categorizes them so your loved one can easily refer to what Jesus said about
many topics.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz -- if they don't already have this, it's a good, short, easy book to give to anyone. Described as "A practical guide to personal freedom" from self-limiting beliefs, this has been read by many and it's principles, if applied make for a more joyous life.

Simple Abundance -- A book that cultivated gratitude in the heart, 365 days of the year. If they already have it, try to companion Journal of Gratitude-- both by Sarah Ban Breathnach

Chop Wood, Carry Water by Rick Fields A zen-like classic, a guide to finding spiritual fulfillment in daily life. Also may like EveryDay Sacred, a woman's journey home by Sue Bender.

Look for anything by Mother Theresa, Pope Paul, Ghandi, Jimmy Carter, Pema Chodrin.

The Shack by William P. Young A recent bestseller about a man's journey to a shack after the death of a son and his reconciliation with a god he'd been angry with. CLICK HERE to get a better description and reviews, or to buy.

Christ the Lord series by Anne Rice The author of the famous Vampire Chronicles was called back to her Catholic faith and felt called to write her idea of Jesus's life in his childhood and adolescent years that we hear so little about. A radical departure from her former subject matter, a richly imaginative and descriptive read for anyone, regardless of beliefs. CLICK HERE

Charlton Heston Presents The Bible-- What better voice to hear speak these words? A&E did a documentary of this which you can google to find but also you can CLICK HERE. There is a companion book.

TIP: There's also DVD's/VHS's of the bible read aloud while the words (in extra large type) are projected on the screen. Just have to google a little to find them.

THESE ARE THE BEST!!! Meditation CD's by Jon Kabat-Zinn -- the creator of Mindlfullness Meditation, these tapes are GREAT for non-meditators, but those would benefit, especially for medical reasons. Series ONE (pictured) starts with two 10 minute guided meditations, one sitting and one lying down, progress to two 20 minute of the same, and then several themed hour meditations. Great for the experienced meditator too. CLICK HERE

As I mentioned, this list could go on to infinity. Just put some things here for anyone who is looking for a place to start. I'd love any and all suggestions in the comments re: any and all faiths, the simply spiritual and the still seeking...

Keep Scrolling down for many varied gift ideas or click the categories to the right! And keep an eye out for shopping tips highlighted in violet ink!

all photos respectfully borrowed from recommended wesbistes

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Buying For the Beach

If you are more about sunscreen than snow when the holidays come, then this might be right for someone you're taking with you.

A Tatami shopper, with red "leather" handles, which comes in two sizes and two silhouettes  -- meaning one has to be perfect for open market shopping, taking to the beach, packing up a picnic for a nice long drive or holding what you need for a quick overnight getaway.

  Large for $48 or medium for $38.

Electric Roaster - A Must Have!

This Thanksgiving, I discovered something fabulous. An 18-quart roaster oven. The perfect solution to roasting a turkey, ham or roast etc, while leaving the kitchen oven free for pies or all those side dishes.

Indinspensable at holiday time - and so much cheaper than putting in a second oven!

They are made by Nesco, Bella Cucina, Oster, etc... Some have a white or cream-colored porcelain finish, others are stainless steel, some have no-stick coatings inside, some have glass tops. Choose yours. Can be found online at Sears, Target, Best Buy, J.C. Penny and Macys. Shop around for the best price and features. Prices range from $39 -$200.

That Target link had this white one by Oster for $39.99 (pictured above) -- and the Macy's link has the stainless steel Bella Cucina at right for $39.99 (as of this publishing). The latter can make up to a 22 lb. turkey. I saw it with my own eyes --  it even browned it beautifully.

This is sure to be appreciated by your mom or grandma, the church, someone with a larger family or anyone you know who entertains or hates to clean the oven. Or, if you're like me, YOU WANT IT TOO.

All Occasion Cards in Nice Boxed Sets

The Spreading Good Cheer set; A little box filled with note cards for every occasion from Kate Spade.
Letter press designs on 100% cotton paper measuring  3 7/16 x 4  3/4 inches. 15 notes, 15 lined envelope, 3 of each: New Years, Valentines Day, Halloween, Birthdays and more for $39.00.

These look much better if you see the cards in zoom, which you can only see by clicking the hyperlinks. Can't do that here. But don't pass these up if your interest is piqued without at least doing that.

Or how about the All Occasion Box Set for $35? As above, it comes with dividers for: Thank You, Congrats and Get Well, Birthday and Just Because.

TIP: You can probably Google these to find them elsewhere but if you use the links I put in from, guaranteed delivery by Christmas ends at midnight tonight, December 15. These make a great gift for Birthdays, Mother or Father's day, or a hostess gift too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

From Your Turntable to Your Ipod

Haven't tried this but it's interesting enough to post here and let you make your own decisions. For that person who has one foot in their old record collection and one in the world of tech...

This is also Barnes and Noble's Deal of the Day... offering 25% off which I assume is for Today, December 14, 2011, only. But if you are seeing this after, you never know so, CLICK HERE to see. If you're a Barnes and Noble Member, you will also get FREE shipping.

This device transfers music right from your records directly onto your iPod with iProfile, and has a built-in dock for your iPod. So apparently you can make a transfer without even connecting your computer. Get one today for just $127.46. Normally about $169.

TIP: If you don't need this for a gift, it could also be something that you might find at a bargain on sale after December 25th...

Groovy Headphones

Supah-groovay, actually. Take a look:

The white with silver are pretty cool, but they also come in all black (pictured right), and black with silver metal. $100 from Nixon. I have not tested these out, but here are their stats so you can decide for yourself.

patent pending ball and socket design for unlimited range of fit
synthetic leather headband with collapsible hinges
memory foam ear cushions
unique full-size volume knob
removable braided cable
custom molded travel case for secure portability

Driver Type: 40mm dynamic
Frequency Response: 20 - 20,000 Hz
Sensitivity: 101 dB/V @ 1 kHz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Interface: 3.5mm stereo analog
Cable: 1.5m braided fabric
Weight: 251g

What Gift to Give if Your Loved One Has Dementia

"The holidays can be bittersweet time for caregivers. But there are ways to make them fun and relaxing for family members and patients."

The holiday season can be a more joyous time for everyone — even under the circumstances of celebrating with someone suffering from dementia or Alzheimers. You just have to know what to get. 
  • Gift ideas for the person with dementia include (some of these depend on their level of independence or if they have full time care): an identification bracelet; a stuffed animal to hug; a picture album filled with family pictures; exercise equipment (a stationary bike, jump rope, membership to a swimming pool); comfortable, easy care clothes; music, tapes or records -- especially familiar old tunes; radio; tickets to a musical or concert; favorite food; a low maintenance pet; home health equipment (safety bars for bath or shower); lap robe; bird feeders and taxi or town car charges.
Here are some more products found at The Alzheimer's Store or call 800.752.3238:
  • The Memory Phone allows a person to dial the phone by simply pushing a picture of the person they want to call.
  • A picture book explains Alzheimer's disease to young children 5-years old and up.
  • Aerobics for the Mind is a set of 100 cards, each with its own exercise in mental fitness.
  • The Fuzzy Wuzzy Bear, the world's softest and "cuddliest" Teddy Bear, provides nurturing for those in later stage dementia.
  • Sing-a-long video tapes provide hours of enjoyment for patient and caregiver.
"We select only products that satisfy real issues faced by people with age-related diseases and those caring for them," said Ellen Warner, co-founder of The Alzheimer's Store.

For another gift site CLICK HERE where you should be able to find:
  • Reflective Impressions is a spiritual and calming CD — 33 hymns and Bible instrumentals that not only provide beautiful music, but also fond memories.
  • Favorite Hymns - From "Amazing Grace" to "What a Friend," this beautifully illustrated book features verses from twenty four of the most popular hymns in large easy to read print.
  • Four Piece Puzzles: Each of these easy puzzles has only four large pieces. Simple to you and I, these puzzles can create a wonderful sense of accomplishment for those in the middle stages of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Swing 'N Sing is a fun-filled video exercise program, perfect for people experiencing dementia. It's mixed with nostalgic melodies — guaranteed to put a glimmer in the eye, a song in the heart and tapping in the toes!
What about their caregivers? Gift ideas for them could include: tickets to a show, concert, movie; "respite visits" to give the caregiver time off; offers to run errands for the caregiver; dinner out or dinner delivered to the home; books; housekeeping tasks done or paid visits by a housekeeping service; subscription to favorite magazine; coupon for 1 day (or more) at an adult day care; telephone gift coupon for long-distance calls.

  • TIP: Stay away from gifts that require a lot of care or attention. Be aware that expensive of fragile gifts may be broken or lost.
Be realistic as to how much holiday activities the person with dementia (and the caregiver) can handle. Holidays are stressful for everyone and caregivers may need to adjust expectations about how much holiday entertaining they can do. Avoid too much food, drink, and people.

Thanks go to First Time for the picture 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Great Gift: The BEST Chicken Pot Pie

OH - MA - GAH!

Yep, I'm afraid that's what your recipient will exclaim after the first (and the second and the third) bite of this amazing chicken pot pie from Harry and David. The digitized photo that I grabbed does it an injustice so please click the link to see it in it's proper delectable grandeur.

You can send one for $39.95 (up $10 from last year!!) but if you buy two you get 50% off the second, so that's  two for $59.92. This also makes a great option if you want to bypass the holidays, or are ordering too late to get it there in time. Last year I sent this out as a New Years gift, so they could enjoy it in the first few days of the new year. After all the cooking and baking and stress and effort of the holidays, it can be a really welcome thing to just pop something this delicious in the oven and wind down with that kind of celebratory meal.

Try sending it to yourself, as something you can bring to a pot luck or if you are going to someone else's place for the holiday meal. You'll be a star without having to go to the grocery store or make a mess in the kitchen.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Truly Unique Glassware

These glasses are just beautiful. There's something about the quality of the glass, how the light reflects off and through them. Each one in the set is different, with their own subtle design details -- besides being a lovely set, your guests will never mix up which glass is theirs.

They weigh almost nothing. Very delicate. These pictures don't do them justice, but it's what I have to show you.

You can get this set of stemless flutes (which is a real plus - I have a theory that we all break them because of that stem) and/or the shorter, wider wine or cocktail glasses - set of 6 for $78, Set of 12 for $138.

In case that link is out, you can find them at Napa Style HERE, though they are $99 for six. I will leave both links up in case the less expensive ones sell out. They are dishwasher safe but you will probably want to wash them by hand... 

Giving to a Lady Goth?

If you do, this website  - Heavy Red - has beautiful clothing and accessories for her... deliciously rich colors, looks well made and the styles have class.  If nothing more, the person who writes their descriptions should get an award.

How about this: the Alice Mourning Tea Dress? Can be worn as just the black dress which is very fitted and impressively detailed or with the full skirt for $115.

Or this, the French Lace Noir hoodie (yes, a hoodie), among several pretty ones in that section. $66

Perhaps a coat like this corseted Victorian Dalliance ($186)... 

Visit their site and see these and others plus skirts, shirts, hose, jewelry... even bathing suits.  
Each item has several different photos so you can get a good idea, since there is so much detail. 
Not all, but many items are available from XS to 3XL.

The Short List: Great Movies for Book Lovers

Everyone can use a movie for a gift or stocking stuffer. Better yet, they can use a set! These films, which are either films made from good books or are about writers and their lives, can be found on or Barnes and Noble.Find a title you like and Google for the best prices.

Henry and June: One of the many stories made of this great love affair between the erotic writer and diarist, Anias Nin, one of my favorites, and Henry Miller. 

Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle - About the famous Algonquin Round Table, and all the writers and artists that worked, loved, partied and left it, though the central character is the fabulous Dorothy Parker (well played by Jennifer Jason Leigh).

Wonder Boys - A dark but comedic film,  based on the 1995 novel of the same title by Michael Chabon, based on a writer dealing with his wife leaving him as he tried to deliver the novel he's been working on for 7 years. Starring Michael Douglas.

The Great Gatsby:
There's a new one being made with Leo DiCaprio, but I will forever see Robert Redford as Gatsby and Mia Farrow as Daisy...

Deconstructing Harry - A black comedy about Harry (Woody Allen) who is suffering from writer's block.  Characters and scenes from his best sellers come back to haunt him.

Capote: Bennett Miller’s picture from 2005, brilliantly played by the fabulous Phillip Seymour Hoffman -- a role that won him the Oscar. His relationship with - and reliance on - Harper Lee, writer of To Kill a Mockingbird, is explored, and well done.

Howl - Adocu-drama about Allen Ginsberg (James Franco), who talks about his life and art/ His most famous poem is illustrated in animation while the obscenity trial of the work is dramatized.

The Squid and the Whale: A true-story comedy/drama about the divorce of two writers and it's effect on their teenage writer son, Noah Baumbach, and his brother. Takes place in Brooklyn in the 80's. Touching.

Posession: Neil LaBute’s 2002 adaptation of A.S. Byatt’s Booker Prize-winning literary detective novel/love story where 2 hot scholars study a pair of Victorian-era poets who might have had an affair. Between the two parallel storylines, LaBute beautifully captures the eroticism of the written word — in both its writing (in the past) and its interpretation (in the present).

Dead Poets Society: Starring Robin Williams and a host of now-famous actors as fair unknowns. Set at a stodgy boys prep school, the romance of being young and hopeful about the future is awakened by their unusual professor (Robin Williams) and the poetry he teaches. 

Naked Lunch: David Cronenberg’s 1991 adaptation of William S. Burroughs’s novel. As expected from Cronenberg and Burroughs, it's a wacky, arty ride. 

Screenwriter Charlie Kauffman’s clever 2002 meditation on writing, film, fiction, and fact concerns his own aborted attempt to adapt Susan Orlean’s nonfiction book The Orchid Thief into a studio screenplay;

Finding Forrester: Sean Connery as William Forrester, a brilliant novelist turned Salinger-style recluse, brought out of a 40-plus year exile by a talented young writer. 

The Hours: A beautiful book made into a beautiful movie. 
The story of three very different people who share the feeling that they've been living their lives for someone else. Virginia Woolf (Kidman) struggles in 1920's London to begin writing her first great novel, Mrs. Dalloway, while attempting to overcome the mental illness that threatens to engulf her. Laura Brown (Moore), a young wife and mother in post-World War II Los Angeles, is just starting to read Mrs. Dalloway, and is so deeply affected by it that she begins to question the life she has chosen for herself. Then, in contemporary New York City, Clarissa Vaughan (Streep) is a modern-day mirror image of Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway as she plans what may be the final party for her friend and former lover, Richard (Harris), who is dying of AIDS.

Something's Gotta Give: One of my favorite movies - the story of a writer (Diane Keaton) who gets into a love triangle between a man her age (Jack Nicholson) and hot younger doctor (Keanu Reeves) as she writes to deal with it all. Great midlife love story with interesting people to watch. Great sets and wardrobe too.  

Shakespeare: Any movie done by Kenneth Branagh (Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, HenryV, Othello, Love's Labour's Lost, and As You Like It) is a wonderful way to discover the plays modernized yet if you have had trouble understanding them or not ever seen a version where the cadence of the actors really conveyed what Shakespeare meant. Branagh is gifted in bringing that out. If you are a classicist, you must see Hamlet with Lawrence Olivier: 
  1. Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, Sir Laurence Olivier's "Hamlet" continues to be the most compelling version of Shakespeare's beloved tragedy. Olivier is at his most inspired - both as director and as the melancholy Dane himself - as he breathes new life into the words of one of the world's greatest dramatists.
84 Charing Cross Road: A story about love and the love of books, this film features Academy Award winners Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins in stellar performances. Helen (Bancroft), a feisty New York writer, mails a letter to a small London bookshop requesting some rare English classics. Frank(Hopkins), the reserved English bookseller, answers her request, beginning a touching and humorous correspondence that spans two continents and two decades. Hanff's aloof British demeanor, but their mutual love of books forms a bond that deepens with each passing year. Their intimate, richly detailed letters draw us into their lives as they develop a lasting and extraordinary friendship.

Would love to hear your suggestions in the comments!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle

Introducing one of the greatest little gifts of all time... The iPod Nano. This .074 oz (21.1 gms) tiny, colorful little clip on square contains the world... Height: 1.48 inches (37.5 mm) X W: 1.61 inches (40.9 mm) X D: 0.35 inch (8.78 mm) including clip

  • It carries all your playlists, but also your podcasts and audio books.
  • Keeps your favorite photos so you can always have them on hand to show ppl - whether it's the grandkids or your last all-night rave pix.
  • It's a pedometer and fitness tracker. Great for runners too.
  • Acts as a watch, with your choice of  8 or more faces.
  • It comes with headphones... 
  • You can get FREE engraving on the back.
  • FREE shipping if you order online - or, in the order process, you can check your local store and they will let you know if you can pick it up in stock there. Both ways - FREE.
  • And it comes in all these colors above... 7 in all.
In a word: BEST! BUY! SOLD! DONE! As in... my work is done here. $149 for 16G. (8G should be enough unless your recipient wants to put all their songs, photos, podcasts and audio books on there).

NOW, if that's out of your price range, consider a Shuffle:

It's only 2G's and only holds songs, but that may be all someone you know wants. Great for music lovers who want something small and simple, without all the bells and whistles, perfect for working out. In the old days, it was just one long set of music but now you can load several playlists and click through them. While there's no display, you can press a button that will speak the name of the playlist, or song title, artist  you're hearing - in one of 25 languages.  It's $49 with headphones and USB plug  and FREE personalized engraving.

You can probably still order it online but this is one you can easily buy in this last week. Just give your local Apple store a call to make sure they have them in stock and head over there.


TIP: Remember that these need to connect to a computer to load - so if it's for grandpa or mom and they aren't into it, you can still load these up before hand with their favorite stuff, or have an enjoyable "date" with them do pick things out they'd like to have on there before you do it for them.

Shopping at ETSY: Win/Win

If you are looking for good prices on things made with quality, or something one of a kind that you know the Person-Who-Has-Everything on your list will definitely NOT have, check out Etsy. You'll also be supporting small business craftsmen and artisans and in these tough economic times, that's a very good thing for you and them.

Here's one shop, called JustBecauseJewelry that offers some very pretty things... like this pink and floral lampwork glass, crystal and sterling silver beaded bracelet for $50. A nice way to bring a little spring into the winter months.

The beads look outrageously beautiful.

All made with skill and attention to detail by Natalie Kiernan. Natalie can size bracelets to your specifications too. Click on her store name to see everything she offers. 

Kitten Ear Hat from Sundance

Ooooh is what she'll say when she opens this fuzzy cat-eared cap.

Made from soft, knitted acrylic, this comes in three colors - black, heather gray and off white as pictured, all with pink ears and pom poms. One Size, $75

Friday, December 9, 2011

For Book Lovers and Writers, On Etsy

How about author dolls, hand made and sold on Etsy? Visit Uneek Doll Designs and find 4.5 " tall (11.4 cm) dolls of a favorite author.

Here is one of two Mark Twain models, for $41
Maya Anjelou for $35

Find everyone from Dostoyevesky to Blume, Assimov to Thoreau, Shakespeare, Alcott, Shelley, Coward, Hawthorne, Balzac, Pushkin, Dafoe, Flaubert, Bombeck, and of course, the Brontes...the list goes on. There is even a Sappho doll.

Now your book lover can draw inspiration from putting this figure of their fave muse on their writing desk or they can amuse themselves during writer's block by having several and playing "salon"

This artist also has many other figures from history and the arts. CLICK THE LINK to see them all!

Wine Aerator from Williams Sonoma

This Twister aerator with decanter and stand from Williams Sonoma for $79.95 looks pretty cool for the wine lover - and from Williams Sonoma I imagine it's quality. I am just cutting and pasting what they say on their website, because it's complicated -- but I'm sure those in the know know what this is all about:

To reveal the full flowering of any red wine instantly, introduce maximum oxygen by decanting it through this easy-to-use spiral aerator into the matching glass decanter. The resulting difference in aroma and flavor is impressive.

  • Patented mouthblown, double-walled, 3-phase glass aerator instantly multiplies oxygenation.
  • Phase 1 catches any sediment while introducing oxygen as the wine flows by; phase 2 allows additional exposure to oxygen; phase 3 directs the wine through the spiral, dispersing it into the decanter. 
  • Mouthblown glass decanter is specially designed to hold the aerator.
  • Aerator has an integral stainless-steel sediment filter.
  • Includes a stainless-steel stand for holding and storing glass aerator.