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Food, Links

Holiday Shopping 2012

One thing I enjoy post-Thanksgiving: Christmas songs on the radio. Generally, I really like ‘em. Except for that one dramatic tune “Christmas Shoes”. Have you heard that one? I hate it, sorry. The WORST holiday song, the bane of my family’s December, which I am guessing only Washington DC has to suffer through, is the song “Christmas Eve in Washington” by Maura Sullivan. Check it out if you dare.

One thing I am too scared to ever try post-Thanksgiving: Black Friday. Lovely Minnesota, home of the big corporations, saw Black Friday deals starting at 9 PM on Thanksgiving Day! Terrible. Buuuut, like many Black Friday shoppers, I can’t spend much this year. That doesn’t mean, however, that I can’t spend all of my time on the Internet looking at pretty things I will never buy! The following is a list of cool Christmas ideas I’ve seen floating around – some are perfect to make yourself, others are a special, fun gift that might be worth the splurge. Check it out.
Nail polish

This is not a beauty blog, but my sister and I have a long-standing tradition of buying each other nail polish for Christmas. I had no idea that nail polish colors could be “in season”, but I suppose that makes sense. This “fall polish season” I found a lot of colors to be dull and sweater-y. I’m also too old for magnetic nail polish. What’s a girl to do? I thought it’d be fun to combine colors from various years and create my own palette. I like the idea of using these to create an reverse French manicure that has a hint of sparkle. Old colors can be found on Amazon, on eBay, and sometimes in stores for fairly cheap. ($4-8)

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What to get the person that loves the ease of sipping out of a Mason jar, but might want to make something fancy every now and then? This gift lets you tote your drink with a little class, and there’s a handy pouring method for easy sharing. The Mason shaker came into existence via a Brooklyn-based duo on Kickstarter this summer. Currently you have to e-mail them to “procure” a shaker once it is in stock, but this is one cool item for $30 for that ironic somebody you know.

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(L) The American Swedish Institute, like most museums (but with added Scandinavian cool) has items that combine the best of functionality and design: this Sagaform ‘Club’ decanter is classically beautiful for flavored water, punch, or whatever else you might like. ($25) They have a better selection in the actual shop, including unique candle holders (I am obsessed with candle holders, don’t ask!)

(R) Coffee purists might want to take a look at Chemex, which produces glass coffee-makers. They take a little time and the right filter, but supposedly the coffee is free of any impurities, resulting in a clean taste. Plus, when not in use, this looks better chillin’ in your kitchen than the old behemoth coffee machine. ($35-43)

Photo: Jennifer Davick for Southern Living

Photo: Jennifer Davick for Southern Living

DIY, YO! DIY has come a long way since the era of homemade pot holders and burnt fudge, partially thanks to Pinterest. Some of the classics you can’t go wrong with, however – at  least in Minnesota, a pair of knit mittens or a scarf will never lose their value. (Pro-tip: If you’re in Minneapolis and can’t knit, the little Eastern-European store next to Kramaczuk’s has beautiful hand-knit winter accessories.) I’m not as crafty in the item department, but I do enjoy DIY holiday baking:

Cranberry, Orange, and Pecan Coffeecake  (pretty, indulgent)

Gingerbread with Stout (crazy moist and rich)

Stained Glass Cookies (remember making these as a kid?)

Kentucky Bourbon Balls (yes yes yes crack yes)

Homemade Caramel Corn (make this pop with a few trendy additions, such as sea salt, drizzled dark chocolate, or even candied ginger)

Apple Pie Infused Bourbon (complete with a personally decorated bottle)

Chocolate-covered Espresso Beans (put them in a glass container)

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(L) I’ve recently discovered Minnesota’s treasure trove of handmade candies, specifically caramels. Sweet Jules makes a dazzling array of flavors, from beer & pretzel to apple tart. I am impressed by the buttery mouthful that avoids being too oily. ($10.95 for a small box)

(R) I’m dying to get a jar of this for myself. Dave’s Coffee, based in Rhode Island, makes this unique coffee syrup by boiling down fresh roasted coffee and pure cane sugar. The resulting syrup is supposedly much, much better than the fake ones found in many grocery stories, and mixed with a glass of milk or poured over ice cream, it’s concentrated coffee perfection. Also comes in vanilla. ($10.99 per bottle)

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