Thursday, November 18, 2021

Things I Love Giving | Holiday Gift Guides

The holidays are upon us. Here are a few gift ideas in case you're stumped. Prices listed here reflect the sale price upon publishing this blog post. Cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season!

Gifts for the home bartender, cocktail enthusiast, or savvy entertainer. If you happen to be in the Charlotte area, just skip this list and head over to The Cocktailery at Atherton Mill on South Boulevard (tucked behind Anthropologie and Living Kitchen with an interior door front). Tamu Curtis has you covered and her selection is incredibly gorgeous, varied, and original. Several items of hers that can be shipped are listed here for those who are reading from afar. 

01 12-piece Bartender Cocktail Shaker set in silver ($55) I love the look of this set. I like the sleekness of the chrome tools against the warmth of the wood caddy. The price point is excellent for all of these pieces.
02 Olives & Pimentos cloth cocktail napkins ($40) These olive and pimento napkins by Spoonflower give off a midcentury vibe that would be perfect on your bar cart.
03 Infuse - Mezcal and Tequila Infusion and Tasting Set ($103) Know any tequila fans? Check out this gorgeous mezcal and tequila infusion set. I love it!
04 Camp Craft Cocktails in a Jar ($25 - $100) These are so fun! I just picked up one of these jars for a girlfriend's birthday. One jar makes 8 cocktails and the variety of flavors is excellent!
05 4-piece Stemmed Glass Mixing Set ($75) Wow! This set is absolutely stunning and so sophisticated. All your basic essentials --elevated.
06 Insulated Wine Tote ($12) These are so cute and affordable. Consider picking up several to gift-wrap a bottle of wine or spirits to take along to the holiday parties we might all get to enjoy this year. *crossing fingers so hard*
07 Complete Cocktail Smoking Kit ($105) Have you had a smoked cocktail yet? The fad came into fashion several years ago and now you can accomplish this stylish choice at home. You fancy!
08 The Drunken Botonist by Amy Stewart ($14) I had the pleasure of hearing Amy Stewart talk about writing this lovely book several years ago. It continues to be a favorite and is a staple among any home bartender's book shelf.
09 Palm Leaf Beverage Stirrers ($18)  Plants and sips. What's more to love? Follow the link to check out the sweetest pineapple version of these stirrers as well.
10 Subscription to Imbibe Magazine ($22/year - 6 issues) Does the cocktail lover in your life already have everything stocked? How about a subscription to Imbibe magazine? Talk about inspiration!
11 Gold-Plated Liquor Flask ($47) Not the same flask you tried sneaking into the prom way back when... this beauty is next-level. She'll look stunning in your coat pocket, purse, or displayed on the shelf.
12 Hamptons Golf Course cloth cocktail napkins ($40) Swanky, baby. I love the classic elegance of these fun cocktail napkins. Sure to elevate any gathering!
13 Mulling Spice Set ($65) Swoon. Mulled wine and spirits are an absolute favorite during the winter season. If you've never tried it --now's your chance. This would make a gorgeous gift!
14 Disposable Cotton Cocktail Napkins ($18) The perfect stocking stuffer for your entertainer! Who knew a little toilet paper roll of cotton napkins could be so charming and useful? Now you know! Get some.

Gifts for the hostess or home chef in your life. These thoughtful and beautiful gifts would be perfect for someone who enjoys hosting others, cooking, baking, or just relaxing in the kitchen. As with each of these lists, there are hundreds of specific choices for patterns, materials, and price-point. Use these suggestions as jumping off points or to trigger ideas of your own.

01 Turkish Kitchen Dish Towels ($17) These beauties come in several color choices and it was hard to pick just one to use in the graphic above. For this price, you could pick up a few!
02 Teak Wood & Marble Serving Board ($55) There are so many shapes and sizes of this style board on the market. This one is nice because it's a medium size and great for a gathering of just a few. You can have plenty of cheese and charcuterie on the board without it looking too empty.
03 Cheese Knives & Charcuterie Serving ($16) This simple and stylish set of every tool you need is a great price and could be nice in a stocking as well.
04 Lenox LX Remix 4-Piece Tidbit Plate Set ($60) Please, please, please, somebody buy these for me. I'm smitten.
05 Salt Cellar ($25) Do you have a salt cellar? Easily filled with kosher salt for cooking and finishing. This one from Rachel Ray is stacked so you can have several seasoning salts at hand.
06 Linen Dinner Napkins ($30) Obsessed. This mustard color is a favorite of mine --but really, it's the texture that is so lovely.
07 Sonder Los Angeles Oversized Walnut/Cherry/Maple Wood Board ($70) Wow. This board. Oversized this time --wonderful for larger gatherings.
08 Mango Wood Salad Bowl with Servers ($60) Again, this is a style of salad serving bowl that has been around for ages. There are lots of styles and colors on the market. I love the blue in this version and the price is nice.
09 Terracotta Pinch Bowls ($17) Such a great vessel to have on hand. You can fill these with dips, sauces, nuts, chutney, honey, or jams for your charcuterie board. If charcuterie isn't your thing, use them for soy sauce, coins, jewelry, or safety pins. You get the gist, these are useful!
10 Subscription to Cooks Illustrated ($27/year - 6 issues) Does your cook already have everything? The cupboards are overflowing?? How about a subscription to Cooks Illustrated?
1Gold Cheese Markers ($12) So cute! The bulky chalkboard markers are out. Time to update with this playful and delicate gold-scripted option.
12 Recipe Card Box ($30) While it's true that most of us are turning to our iPads and computer screens for recipes these days, there will always be a need to store those most-loved recipes and the old standard still holds up. The tin recipe box has come a long way from your grandmother's kitchen. 
13 Double Oven Mitt ($38) This print. I'm dead. Must have. Also... the functionality of this double mitt looks promising.
14 Half Baked Harvest Cookbook: Recipes from My Barn in the Mountains ($18) If you've spent any time around here, you already know I'm a big fan of Half Baked Harvest recipes. This book was one of the best sellers in 2021. And no, for anyone wondering (looking at you, family) I do not have a copy.

Do you know someone who loves to read? Well you know me --so the answer is YES! Here is a small sample of ideas to celebrate the person in your life who loves the written word --or having the written word read to them via audible selections (yes, please!).

01 Amazon Kindle Paperwhite ($139) I know your reader might be saying that they prefer the smell and feel of an actual book. Believe me, I get it. However, with the backlight, the look, and weight of this Kindle Paperwhite --traveling with a stack of books is a breeze! I love mine. And I still read plenty of "real" books too!
02 Colorful Mug for Tea or Coffee ($14) The perfect accompaniment to a great book? A steamy mug of tea or coffee. Also: WINE. You can put wine in one of these adorable mugs too! 
03 A Book Journal ($18) If your reader isn't already tracking and logging books they've read and titles that have been recommended via Goodreads, then this journal would be perfect. It's also just a beautiful way to catalog the stories that have had made the biggest impressions.
04 Printfresh Flannel Sleepset ($148) You know I love my Printfresh jammies. They are pricey. They are awesome. Now, there are flannel options! Follow the link for tons of fun prints and style options: short sleeves, nightgowns, sleep shirts, camis, shorties, and robes.
05 Bookshop Jigsaw Puzzle ($17) A break from reading to enjoy a puzzle that features more books?? I'm in! This jigsaw puzzle might be frustrating for some (maybe even me). 1000 pieces is ambitious for most. There are lots of great choices out there. So relaxing.
06 Cozy Socks ($13) Curling up with a good book? Make sure your toes stay warm. My family bought me these socks a couple years ago for Mother's Day. I love them. In case you can't see the image clearly enough, they read "Fuck off. I'm reading." Ha! The best.
07 Jane Austin Clothbound Classics ($115 - 7 books) A stunning addition to anyone's book shelf. These clothbound classics are timeless. The Jane Austin set is just one option of many. Check them out.
08 Reading Light ($20) A 4.7/5 star rating with almost 50K reviews! Let your spouse fall asleep when they're ready and you go ahead and just finish that chapter (or book!). However, if you had the Kindle, you wouldn't need this.
09 Apple AirPods Pro ($197) I know. I know. So steep. However, when I use these on the noise-cancelling setting as I'm listening to an audible book --it is incredible. I can blow out my hair with the dryer right next to my head and still have an excellent experience. I can't gush about these enough.
10 Golden Leaf Bookmarks ($10 set of 4) Great for the stockings of those "real" book lovers in your life!
11 Candles (set of 2 $34) Book? Check. Cozy socks? Check. Mug of something delicious? Check. Fantastic jammies? Check. Now... light a candle and get to the story.
12 Book Ends ($30) Beautiful. These geode book ends will make a statement: "I read books!" Just kidding. Well, not really...
13 Gift Certificate to a Favorite Indie Bookstore ($?) This one might be my absolute favorite on the list. I hope you have a independent book store in your neighborhood. Ours is Park Road Books. It's a sure thing.
14 Cozy Blanket ($33) How could I almost forget the cozy blanket? The ratings on this blanket are through the roof. Over 12,000 people love it. What's the deal? Does it massage your feet while you lay there? Let's get one and find out. I love it in pink.

Odds are, the teen in your life has a list going of some very specific items they would love to unwrap this holiday season. Here are a few more gender-neutral ideas to fill in the gaps or share with grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Again, I hope these ideas inspire some great gift-giving. Links are for convenience and ease.

01 The Original Comfy ($35) Hilarious and honestly worth stealing from them from time to time. Great for post-soccer games, watching TV on the couch, or throwing something warm over pajamas to lounge around in on the weekends. Several colors.
02 Portable Speaker ($50) Great for get-togethers, listening on a bike ride, or just hanging out in their room.
03 Delivery Box Subscription IPSY cosmetics ($12/month), Munch Addict snacks ($13/month), Escape the Crate puzzles/games ($26/month) There are so many great options on the market these are just a few ideas get the ball rolling.
04 Custom AirPods Case ($13) The font here is decidedly feminine; however, a quick Google search turns up lots of options. Be sure to order in time for the customization. 
05 Tickets (movies, theater/show, concert, sporting event) I love this one and the teens do too. Consider even an amusement or trampoline park season pass near you.
06 Games What Do You Meme ($20), Ticket to Ride ($36), Cards Against Humanity Family Edition ($25) Our family got way into games during quarantine and there's a reason why they've always been a standard family pastime. So many of them stand the test of time. Here are a few newer option on the market. Also: if you haven't already, teach your kids to play poker. It's a life skill.
07 Headphones ($20 -$100) I do value chatting in the car but sometimes silence in nice. These headphones are sure to come in handy for lots of situations --maybe even when the ear buds are just too uncomfortable from overuse.
08 Spirit Wear from school, favorite college or professional team (prices vary) Again, a great option with lots of choices. I love this idea for 5th and 8th graders especially because you can grab a sweatshirt from the school they're about to attend. Very cool move. 
09 Baggy Sweatpants ($24) or Sweatpants ($30) Boys or girls. These are the ''it" item of late, bruh. 
10 Iron Flask water bottle ($33) Try not to be put off by the name. The size of this insulated water bottle + all the color options and lid choices make it a winner.
11 Magazine Subscription Sports Illustrated ($20/year), Smithsonian ($12/year), National Geographic Kids ($30/year) I love a gift that keeps on giving. For younger tweens, try Sports Illustrated Kids. Branch out and find a magazine that covers a specific hobby or interest of your teen (baking, skate boarding, crafts, music). Again, endless possibilities.
12 Portable Phone Charger ($25) There's little more aggravating than when my teens are out and about and their cell phone dies. While the portable charger is handy to have --they have to remember to charge it up too. LOL Not sure it solves all the problems but it does solve some. 
13 Gift Cards (fast food, experience, favorite retail) No brainer.
14 Mini Projector for Phone ($80) This is just cool --especially for the kids who don't have TVs in their rooms. You can project the screen from your phone onto the wall for a movie theatre-like experience. So fun for hangouts and sleep overs.

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 11.11.21

Our US Military

Today on Veteran's Day and everyday, I am grateful for the service and sacrifice of those who have served and are currently serving our country in the armed forces. A special shoutout to these stud-muffins, from left to right: my grandpa Dale Gowin (WWII, Tank Commander - Normandy), my grandpa Robert Purse (WWII, Radio Reconnaissance - France & Belgium), and my dad Clyde Purse (Military Police K9 Unit - Korea).

Gertie & Elliott

We went to an amazingly fun 80s Halloween party this year! All the appetizers and food were from the 80s as well: spinach dip in a bread bowl (revolutionary!), loaded potato skins, Stoeffer's french bread pizza, sloppy joes... Gertie, Elliott, and E.T. left very stuffed and aching with all the belly laughs!

Frasier Fir Season

As soon as Halloween is over, Frasier Fir season begins. My friend Megan (Happy Anniversary, Megan and Thomas!) introduced me to this scent by Thymes and I'm forever ruined for any other holiday/winter scent. While it is definitely pine-tree-scented --FF is so much more than that (think: clean, crisp, layered, and perfect). I'll be burning these until Valentines Day! If you're at all interested in trying it or this is your reminder that it's time to restock --don't delay. These sell out every December!


My little meyers lemon tree is actually ripening! I'm over the moon. Now, if I can just harvest these cuties and transfer this baby to the screened porch before our first frost --I'll really be celebrating. Please send all your best wishes that this lovely is able to survive our winter on the screened porch. Where are my gardening friends? Do you think a little sheet over the top will do?

Lasagna Soup

The first time I had lasagna soup was in my friend Gretchen's dining room over ten years ago. It was a sensation that evening, and continues to delight my family today. The best thing about the soup is how easily it can be varied to suit your preferences (add veggies, serve without noodles, use beef or Italian sausage, kick up the spice, skip the cheese, DOUBLE the cheese...). Here is a fairly simple recipe you can use as a jumping off point. I like to double the protein and prepare my noodles separately. You do you.

Revlon's Hot Air Brush

Fascinated by some of the extremely pricey options of these blow-drying brush/wands, I read and watched lots of reviews before deciding to try this super-affordable Revlon version. This tool boasts a 4.6/5 stars on Amazon with almost 240K reviews. I bought it several weeks ago and wanted to test it out before deciding if I would recommend. And here it is. I love it! It even works beautifully on Piper's hair and she has a TON. (At the time of publishing this post, the price has been reduced from the $60 I spent to $35.) Tips: 1. Let your hair dry naturally until about 70-75% dry and then piece out small sections to wrap and smooth with this brush; 2. If you don't have a lot of time to let your hair dry naturally, use your traditional dryer to quickly rid most of the moisture from your roots before switching to this brush; 3. Pump up the volume between washes by using this on your dry hair at the crown; 4. Instead of winding the length of your hair around the brush, just lift from the root and roll over once as you drag the brush to the end.

The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit

We finally made it out to see the immersive Van Gogh show hosted by Blumenthal Arts. In Charlotte, the show is being held out at Camp North End --a very cool venue in its own right. Once inside the actual "performance," the 30+ minute movie runs on a loop with images shifting, alighting, and dancing across multiple screens and surfaces accompanied by music. It is a bit of a pricey ticket at about $50/adult and $30/kids up to 16YO but we were all captivated and felt it was worth the price of admission. The exhibit has been extended in Charlotte to run through January 2nd --so consider a family outing over the holidays.

Mossy-Green Floral Maxi Skirt

Loving this pocketed floral skirt with boots and sweater or t-shirt and sneakers. I wasn't sure about the fabric and it was hard to tell in the link what it would look like in-person. However, the reviews were numerous and positive so I thought I'd give it a try. Very happy that I did! I love the pleating and the elastic waist. It comes in several prints and colors. I'm tempted by the tiny polkadots in both coffee and pink!

Charcuterie-Building Class

It was a great night with friends learning some hot tips for putting together a beautiful charcuterie plate with one of the city's best: Queen Brie. I was over-served at the event (it happens) but did manage to recall a few key points: use both hard and soft cheeses; never stack your meats (instead, fold them for volume and texture); always think about adding color to your plate with the use of dried and/or fresh fruit, mustards and/or chutney, and edible flowers; fresh herbs like sage and rosemary add aroma and interest... and lots of other cool hot-takes that I missed or forgot due to the being over-served situation. If you're in the Charlotte area, you can sign up for her next workshops at this link.

(before we began --when my memory was still excellent)

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)