Derby: Progressing! I can skate backwards now,and my transitions are getting better. Also Ian gave me wheels for my birthday ans they are AWESOME. Also Also My Jen is back in town so I get to go to skating WIF MY JEN.
Birthday: celebrated with excellent concert (Jeremy Fisher at the Black Sheep) and smashing dinner out, which I should write up with pictures. Short Version: Petite Bill's Bistro, go there, it's completely awesome.
Holidays: Just had early Christmas/Yule dinner with Ontario Inlaws. Cooked and baked All The Things.
I want to post recipes and know I won't do all of them, so I'm taking requests.
So. If you want to know how I make any of the following, comment and I'll write it up.
Leg of lamb with Tsardust seasoning served with onion-sour cherry sauce.
Onion and kale pie with sweet potato topping.
Spaghetti squash stuffed with moro beans, corn, and salsa.
Bourbon glazed Brussel sprouts.
Sherry-ginger baby spinach.
Garlic and cheese mashed potatoes.
Vegetarian mushroom gravy
* * *
Frosted gingerbread cookies
Thumbprint shortbread cookies with blackberry jam
I realised earlier today when kibbitzing about what to give my FIL that my theory of gift-giving can actually be expressed as a fairly simple formula. I offer it to that section of the world that is presently staring at a list of names wondering where the Hell to start for whatever it's worth.
Caveat 1: This formula assumes that the people you are giving gifts to basically deserve them.
Caveat 2: This formula assumes that you are giving GIFTS. Not gift cards, not money.
Caveat 3: Anytime I mention time or money I specifically mean "In proportion to your reasonable means." This formula is meant to make list-making simpler and pleasanter for people who have Hell's own time deciding what to give people, not to encourage anyone to break their back or their budget.
Caveat 4: It is somewhat less useful for deciding what to give children, but honestly, I generally give children I don't know well enough to choose for myself whatever their parents say they currently need or like.
Caveat 5: There's nothing especially original about any of this, and I do realise that. I was just feeling very pleased at having gotten it all nicely systematised in my head, and felt like it might be useful for people who hate winging it and like having systems to follow.
Ok, so. You have your list of names, you've set a budget, you need to make some decisions.
The first step is to pick the general type of gift: consider where your recipient is on the continuum between Young and Not Established and Old and Well-Established.
The closer someone is to the "University/FirstJob, First Apartment" end of the spectrum, the more durable the object. The nearer someone is to the "Retired, Smaller House/Apartment/Assisted Living" end of the spectrum, the more ephemeral the object.
The four month old on our list got Bunnykins. Bunnykins dishes, as you know, are built to feature in the archeology of the 189th century.
My Father-in-law got some really nice gloves. They will probably last him 3-5 years.
When my grandparents were alive, I used to get them really nice edibles, because not only did they not need anything, they didn't have ROOM for anything.
So now you have a list of names and beside each one it says SOCKS or FOOD or KNICKNACK or DISHES or LINENS or whatever.
The next step is choosing what SPECIFIC thing you're going to give them. Step one, if you don't already have the information you need to narrow things down, is research.
Snoop shamelessly. Find out their favourite colour, fabric, artist, jam flavour, brand of bath product, scent. Find out what they're allergic to. Ask their friends and family, or make some excuse to ask them, even if you have to resort to saying "I need to know your favourite colour/whether you prefer leather or suede/whether you like roses, lavender or jasmine and *you can't ask me why*."
The last step is Adding Specialness. A gift should be, well, gifty. You want to give them something that makes them feel that you regard them favourably and wanted to make them happy.
The two things that add specialness are
1) Quality. The way to keep this affordable is to keep the size of your gift down. Instead of a six-pack of decent socks, give them one pair of really lovely socks, that will look good with what you've seen them wear, of a quality slightly nicer than they would regularly buy themselves. Instead of an okay sweater, give them a really gorgeous scarf. A small bottle of really amazingly good hot sauce, or And so forth.
3) Effort. Track down the food or clothing or whatever that your friend from somewhere else adores and can't get locally and get it sent. Scour the thrift stores for pieces of your aunt's discontinued china pattern, or the used book stores for the no longer in print first two books of a series your dad really likes. Take a how-to book out of the library and make apple jelly for your mom. Get a friend or the lady at the store to teach you how to cast on and do garter stitch and buy three skeins of awesome yarn from the clearance section and knit your sister a scarf. Record yourself reading a book your grandmother wants to read but can't find in large print and give her the cds. Make a sampler from your music collection and give it to your co-worker with liner notes so she can find the artists she likes and buy their stuff.
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