Friday, December 7, 2007

A Post in Two Parts

Part 1 - The Trouble With Christmas Shopping

I'm not a big shopper, that is, I don't do much browsing. Well, I do in bookstores, but you already knew that. I'm just saying that I go shopping when I need to buy something, I walk in, pick it up and pay for it and that's the end of it. When a new season arrives, I go to a bunch of stores/websites, buy my child's clothing for the next 6 months and I'm done. Thus, the necessity of shopping, of browsing, for gifts for people for whom I'm not sure what to get, well it gets tricky for me. Mostly because I'm really good at finding things I'd like for myself.

Take, for example, the cool local craft show I attended recently. Every few years I'll make handmade gifts (hand-stamped stationary, jewelery, chocolate truffles, embroidered items) but it's a little late for that now. I figured the next best thing was supporting local crafters. See that cool bag with the gray and blue and red ribbon around it? Yep, that's mine now. I can't wait to use it this Spring. These folks make some terrific smelling soaps and bath salts - I threw a bar in for me. Here are some cute gifts for babies - fortunately I didn't need one myself. Look at these crazy cute animals - my little one is getting a gingerbread girl tree ornament - they look to be all gone. Then there is my new pin bought alongside my daughters new hair clip, my new chocolate lip get the picture.

I went to my favorite local gift shop, full of things you never knew you needed, and found these fantastic mugs. There is a cute red bird on the other side. I thought these would be great for my sisters....but wouldn't it be fun if we each had the same one? Of course it would. And it sort of matches my new bag, no? The thing is, I always tell people 'don't get me anything!'. What they don't realize is, I've already done it for them.

Part 2 - Why I Love Nigel Slater (again)

The 30-Minute Cook by Nigel Slater arrived the other day. I bought it from Abebooks for about 5 dollars. I just cannot get enough of this man's writing. I have three of his books on my nightstand right now. Really. I wish I could have all of his food knowledge and ideas inside my head or at the very least eat at his table for the next month. Here are my favorite 'Nigelisms' from this book:

"Chinese cooking is a doddle. Unless, of course, you take it very seriously."

"Hooray for the salsa."

"..avoid any chilli sauce made in Vietnam. If you value your tastebuds and sinuses, that is."

On coconut milk:
"You can use fresh coconut. If you have all day. You can use desiccated coconut. If you're desperate."

On coriander (cilantro for those of us in the US):
"After initially thinking it tasted of washing-up liquid I became addicted to the stuff."

"I had become a bit bored with broccoli."

I love this man. I'd love to watch him cook but don't think he's ever been on US television.

Sorry for such a disjointed post, I've been reading but haven't finished anything. I spent most of yesterday sitting in a house with a broken furnace waiting for repair. It was 52 degrees in the house and about 8 degrees outside. The only good news is, it wasn't the house I live in. There will be lots of crafting here this weekend, tonight there is an event at my daughter's school and tomorrow we'll be building a gingerbread house at her old preschool. Have a great weekend!


Nan said...

"I've already done it for them" is just hilarious. I laughed right out loud. I seem to always buy people what I like. Maybe these gifts should come with a tag saying, if you don't like it, give it back to me, and I'll give you $$. Ah, shopping. I haven't begun yet. But before you think that's awful, I really don't buy for many people, and they are all easy to shop for. And I haven't started cards either. I am just way too mellow about the whole time thing. Until suddenly it becomes the 20th of December and I wonder where the days went. Now I've got to click on your links and see all those pretty things.

Bookfool said...

You have excellent taste - I'd just buy everyone one of whatever you've gotten for yourself. So, get two and hold one for the holidays.

I loved that quote, too - the one that made Nan laugh.

And, I've just put The 30-minute Cook on my wish list. Slater sounds like loads of fun.

Literary Feline said...

Other than for books, I am not much of a shopper either. And when I do shop for gifts, like you, I tend to always find things for myself. Sometimes my husband feels bad about not spending as much on me as I seem to on him. Not only do I tell him it isn't about how much something costs--but in the end, I've already bought plenty of presents for me to make up for it if it did. ;-)

Tara said...

Funny you mention that Nan, (give it back to me), because I was looking at a Netflix gift certif. for my dad, and apparently if the receiver does not activate it within one year it reverts back to the giver - perfect! We just ordered our cards last week and have already been receiving them for a couple weeks. How do people do this so fast!!

Bookfool, Thanks (for what you said about my taste)! Nigel Slater is great! This is one of his older books, but still great; I think my favorites are Appetite and The Kitchen Diaries.

Literary Feline, "but in the end, I've already bought plenty of presents for me to make up for it if it did. ;-)" - exactly! Very well put.

Jill ONeill said...

You've pointed to some wonderful shopping resources (particularly the woman who makes custom bags)! This is so very useful.

Becca said...

What a really fun post - and all the links are lovely! I used to love Nigel Slater and then I read "Toast" ... and wondered if I did anymore. But his recipes and food knowledge are fabulous! Hope you have had a wonderful weekend.

Iliana said...

I can't believe that I used to love going shopping! Now, get me out of the stores. I've done most of my Christmas shopping on Etsy. Gotta love the crafting community. You bought some cute things - I want one of those mugs :)
Stay warm over there and have fun making the gingerbread house. Hope you'll take a pic :)

Tara said...

Hi Jill! I'm glad you think so. I may be calling on the bag lady to make me another one sometime! Her work is really beautiful.

Becca, what a nice thing to say! I also read Toast...he had a very sad childhood didn't he?

Iliana, I haven't bought yet on etsy, though I'm a big browser. I've already decided to do even more handmade gifts next year. I also used to love shopping. Now it's just irritating.

Lesley said...

I love those mugs. I'm always seeing cute cups and such that I have to stop myself from buying or otherwise I'd have a cupboard-full.

Sorry to hear about your furnace and hope it gets fixed quick!

Tara said...

Lesley, I could easily start a huge collection. I should have called the furnace a boiler, and it's now working - whew!

heather (errantdreams) said...

Those cookbooks sound delightful. And I envy your ability to find gifts for folks---I dread shopping because I never know what to get! I only shop when I really really have to.

Nan said...

That's great about the Netflix thing. We're giving it to someone and it's nice to know that if they don't use it, the money isn't wasted. I'm amazed the whole world doesn't have it already. One of the great joys in my life, that company. :<)

And you know what, the cards that are coming to you now are Advent cards. :<) You can wait till after Christmas and tell people they are REALLY Christmas cards.

Tara said...

Heather, have you ever reviewed anything by Nigel Slater? Oh, thanks for saying I am good at finding gifts, sometimes I am but more often not. I tend to just buy what I'd like for myself!

Nan, Netflix is wonderful, it was a remark you made that was the impetus for me to join and I'm glad I did. Whoever thought it up is brilliant. I like what you've said about my cards - thank you!

Bybee said...

I'm going to see if Nigel is on youtube.

I love all his comments!

Tara said...

Bybee, I watched Nigel on youtube a few weeks ago talking about his most recent book. It was so great to hear him speak! And sometimes I read his newspaper columns - I think it's The Observer.