9 Stores in 5 Hours OR How To Not Die While Christmas Shopping

Happy Holidays my merry readers.

I apologize if the title of this post excludes anyone but I celebrate Christmas and am therefore wildly unqualified to offer advice or insight into shopping for other winter time holidays (Hanukkah, Yule, Festivus, whatever you’re into). But here are some tips to help you maximize your Christmas shopping (which is to say get back to your couch to binge watch “The Witches of East End” sooner).

1. Plan Ahead!
This step is two-fold (I don’t f*** around when it comes to shopping). The first fold-do some research. Think about what you want to get for the people you are buying for and check out different stores online, most stores even have a handy link next to items that will tell you if it is in stock near you. This allows you to make a hit list of locations (and to find out store hours) and if you want to get really in depth map out your route. The second fold-make a list! I am not kidding make a list, I don’t care if it is a list of names, shops, specific items, reindeer, all the characters in the old timey Rudolph movie, just make a list (and then check it twice … a minute because you are paranoid you will forget something/one).

2. Set Aside Time
This seems like a no brainer but can be more difficult than it would first appear. There are a lot of holiday happenings going on and your friends will try to entice you away with cocktail hours and watching the Patriots losing to the goddamned Dolphins. DO NOT BE SWAYED! Designate a full day to get everything possible on your list, trust me you do not want to have to make five different trips for Christmas gifts, it is the WORST.

dolphins-interception
fifteen yards between us and victory…I can’t even

3. Attack, ATTACK!!
Show no mercy. There are things your loved ones need that you have to buy, I don’t care if you have to body check an eleven year old to get to that last Barbie Goes Clubbing Special Edition Doll just get it. You have put in the time and effort, you did research for God’s sake, get what you need and get out.

4. Drink Heavily
Did I mention add wine to your list? Because add wine to your list. After five hours, nine stores, and hauling all your crap a mile across a shopping center parking lot in the wrong shoes you will need it. While I usually advocate pre-gaming you should keep all drinking to a post-shopping event, you need your wits about you out there, middle-aged moms shopping for their children are nothing to mess around with.

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This is what five hours of shopping looks like at the end of the day, a lot less impressive when it is all unpacked but much of my gift giving requires assembly (stay tuned for a fun tutorial to make fancy presents).

If you forgot the wine check out this recipe for a delicious Hot Toddy.

Good luck out there readers, have a post-shopping cocktail for me and try not to get run over by a minivan nabbing a primo parking space.

-Audrey

P.S. Definitely don’t body check anyone “tis the season for civil court” you know?

 

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In a Jam With Lots of Cranberries

Hi there Readers.

Here in New England in addition to unpredictable weather patterns (it snowed a week ago and today it’s 61 degrees) the late fall is all about the Cranberry. We have more Cranberry bogs per capita than anywhere else in the country, according to this study I just made up. (Really though we do have a lot of them, there are about eight within a fifteen minute drive of my house and I do not live in a rural area)

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Tell me those don’t look delicious

A co-worker gave me a pound of cranberries that she got from her friend who owns a bog. The only things I have ever done with cranberries is to put them on a string to decorate a Christmas tree and use them as garnish in the whiskey punch I made for last Thanksgiving. Cooking them was so far off my radar that I wasn’t even sure it was a thing you could do.

But I wanted to bring something fun and homemade to my parents this year for Thanksgiving to remind them of their New England roots (they live in the south now) so I did what any girl would do and took to the internet!  I found many, many recipes for things like chutney and compote that required zesting and chunks of things and double straining and I was not into it. Where was a nice little recipe for something simple and delicious that would keep and travel well and have myriad uses?! It was over at willcookforsmiles.com that’s where. Using this brilliant and simple recipe that required only four ingredients I endeavored on my first foray into jam making.

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The Oh So Few Ingredients

1 lb Cranberries

1 cup fine sugar

1 apple peeled, cored and chopped

1 tbs lemon juice

Directions

1. Throw all the ingredients into a pot bring to a boil while stirring to prevent sugar from burning.

2. Reduce heat and simmer covered, stirring frequently, until mixture cooks down (about an hour)

3. Place in a blender and mix until smooth. Transfer to jars and let cool before refrigerating.

4. Eat half a jar with a spoon over your sink (this step is optional unless you are a blogger named Audrey in which case your body will just take over and demand that you eat this tart delicious jam)

and Voila

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lovely smooth jam that is extremely easy to make.

A couple of quick notes

-Fine sugar is somewhere in between granulated sugar and powdered sugar. Rather than buying a whole separate kind of sugar I just pulsed some granulated sugar in my blender.

-I would put the jam in the blender on a lower setting, it is extremely thick and if, like me, you have a blender with a motor that has less juice than your hair dryer, you will need to start it out slow with something like this.

-You can tell that cranberries are ripe based on their bounce-ability! It makes them super fun to pour into a pan. (This is a completely true fact and they do actually bounce test cranberries for ripeness.)

Until we meet again dear readers, have a cocktail for me!

-Audrey

(full recipe from willcookforsmiles http://willcookforsmiles.com/2012/12/homemade-cranberry-jam.html)