Wishing you a blessed holiday season filled with family, friends, and of course, fruitcake! Lots of love from myself, Scott, Penny and…uh…Jolie’s underbelly.
It’s no secret that my husband Scott likes to live life “by the seat of his pants”, for lack of a better term. Truth be told, the way he zooms through each day with a huge lack of planning, communication and organization skills happens to be one of the things I love about him.
His last-minute, “oops, I forgot!” air balances me out. I’ve grown accustomed to it over the past eleven years–which is precisely why things like the drama surrounding the White Elephant gift exchange at his office Christmas party last weekend no longer surprise me.
Doctor Scott works for: You guys knew about the gift exchange, right?
Scott: Oh, yeah…I think I saw an email about it. (Turning to me.) There’s a white elephant gift exchange.
Doctor Scott works for (snickering): In fifteen minutes.
Me (completely un-phased): I’ll be right back.
It was twelve degrees below zero, but I didn’t let that stop me from running outside to rummage through our car. I was on a mission to save the gift exchange! After five minutes of digging, I teetered across the icy parking lot in my heels (the same ones I broke my cankle in, mind you) hurrying inside with the two gifts I had scavenged.
In my right hand, an ugly Christmas sweater for dogs. I had purchased two matching ones for the girls at Target, but Penny’s was too small and needed to be exchanged. I was beyond thankful it had been waiting patiently in the car for such a gift-giving emergency as this.
In my left hand, one of my old bras from Victoria’s Secret that had been previously destined for the Goodwill. (Thank God this was a White Elephant exchange.)
Now, my only problem was finding a way to wrap these two “presents”. I explained my predicament to one of the servers inside the supper club — he emerged from the kitchen moments later with two large cardboard Oreo boxes and a roll of scotch tape. “It was the best I could do.” he offered.
Beggars can’t be choosers. I thanked him for accommodating me and quickly wrapped up the gifts, hoping they would suffice. As I returned to the banquet room, an Oreo box under each arm, Scott ran up to me with a confused smile spread across his face. “You got Oreos?”
“Heh,” I chuckled, “I wish these gifts were Oreos.”
Five minutes later, we had been assigned our presents. Scott’s dad, who works at the same clinic Scott does, strutted over to our table, a Scotch tape covered Oreo box in hand.
“You wouldn’t happen to know anything about this poor excuse for a wrap job?” he asked jokingly.
I politely giggled, trying my best not to let my facial expression reveal the complete and utter panic I was experiencing. My father-in-law was about to open my old leopard print push up bra with neon green spaghetti straps!!!
To my extreme relief, Scott’s Dad had selected the box containing the dog sweater. Perfect, actually, as he has an adorable little Yorkie at home who’s in constant need of extra layers during the winter. But the sweater didn’t stay put for long. Little did I know that the pale pink creation would be such a hot commodity! The sweater was stolen several times, finally ending up with a good friend of ours who recently adopted a Min Pin, just like Penny. I was delighted.
Yet what surprised me more than the popularity of the dog sweater was the apparently high demand for a leopard print push-up bra with neon green straps! It was a beautiful brassiere, and had only been worn once, but I didn’t expect it to get traded like hotcakes! Little did I know I share the same cup size as all of the ladies at the clinic! Back and forth it went, passing through the hands of several of Scott’s friends and co-workers. I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of it all, and was especially tickled when it ended up with a good friend of ours, who also happens to work alongside Scott everyday.
“How funny…she might wear my bra to work one day and you’d never know!” I giggled on the drive home.
“Katrina,” Scott corrected, “She didn’t end up with the bra. My stepmom did!”
That bra is probably worth at least fifty dollars. I must admit, it comforts me to know such a treasured, leopard print heirloom will at least get to stay in the family.
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It’s no secret — I’m a terrible gift wrapper.
Growing up, my siblings and I would wrap all the family Christmas gifts in blankets out of sheer laziness. While I no longer haphazardly fold linens around my presents, my skills with wrapping paper leave a lot to be desired.
This year, I wanted to change my ways. See how far my gift-wrapping ability could take me if I actually put forth some effort. Plus, there was something about the below zero temps outside that was giving me an unexplainable urge to craft. After taking a quick look on Pinterest for some inspiration, I headed off to Wal-Mart, a glint of holiday determination in my semi-tentative eyes. Could I actually wrap a present and make it look decent?
As it turns out, yes. Yes I could.
My supplies were simple — a large roll of plain brown craft paper, some cheap paper doilies (intended for serving cakes), a 3-pack of metallic sharpies, and a spool of yarn. I also used scissors and gift wrapping tape, which I already had on hand, along with some fresh tree clippings from our back yard.
While Scott reviewed my purchases–which he’s learned is often necessary after I “do” Wal-Mart–he didn’t seem too concerned. Until he saw the yarn, that is.
“Katrina!” he whined, “What on earth are you going to make with this yarn?”
Before I could defend myself, he continued.
“You know what? I don’t even want to know…just go amuse yourself. I hope it wasn’t too expensive.”
“Two bucks!” I shot back with attitude. “And just you wait! I’m going to make something amazing with that yarn, and you’re going to have to eat your words!”
Call it a Christmas gift wrap miracle — but for once in my life, I was actually….right. Upon seeing the finished product, Scott admitted he liked my work. “I’m just glad you didn’t try to knit anything!” he remarked. As much as it pains me to admit it, I couldn’t disagree with him on that point.
Wrapping the boxes with craft paper proved to be a little tricky, as it’s much thicker than traditional wrapping paper. It also doesn’t play nice with tape. Not only is the “magic invisible gift tape” quite visible on craft paper — you have to use it in abundance if you want everything to stay in place. Yet the imperfect wrap job almost adds to the rustic appeal of these simple brown packages, if you ask me.
Not one to store any sort of gift wrapping supplies at home, I love how versatile the craft paper is. It’s truly holiday, age and gender non-specific if you simply switch up the trimmings. Nixing the doilies and going with Tiffany blue satin ribbon would be adorable for a baby shower, and I love the idea of decorating the paper with some graphic, black sharpie sketches and tying it up with twine. You could add paint, chalk, glitter, decorative washi tape — the possibilities are endless! Bust most importantly, you aren’t stuck having to find a place to store twelve tubes of wrapping paper in an organized fashion.
As I stood back, admiring my holiday handiwork, Scott couldn’t help but to offer up one final sentiment.
“The presents look awesome — but now you’ve set the expectations waaaay too high. The kids are going to be super disappointed when the unwrap these and are left with a bunch of crappy souvenirs from Australia!”
Ummm….if I were a ten-year-old boy I would love a real, working boomerang and 16-ounce pack of spicy kangaroo jerky. Mmmkay, Scott?
With gifts for our nieces and nephew taken care of, my holiday checklist is nearly complete. In fact, my only remaining task is stopping by the mall to pick up a few last-minute gifts from the lefse booth!
And yes…the mall of Smalltown boasts a booth (open year round, of course) that is solely dedicated to selling lefse.
Yeah. You should be.
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For this month’s installment of the Fab Five, I’ll be featuring all my favorite goodies from my recent trip to Australia. Southern-hemisphere dwellers, you’re in luck! (Although you probably discovered these gems long before I did.) As for those of you up here with me? Let’s hope you don’t mind spending a small fortune on shipping….
1. Drinking Custard
I was completely crestfallen upon learning that drinking custard isn’t actually something you drink. (While I couldn’t find a photo online, I swear the label actually reads “Drinking Custard”. Back me up, Aussie friends?)
In contrary, this delicious sauce is intended to be poured over pies, crumbles, fruit, and if you’re me, pancakes. Think of it as a far superior alternative to cool whip. It is decadent, flavorful, and in my opinion, totally worthy of drinking on its own. (In secret, of course.)
I still can’t get over the fact that we don’t have this in the states. Surely, it would be an instant, pourable sensation! While I’m assuming it’s nearly impossible to ship, I did manage to find a super simple recipe if you want to whip up your own batch at home. Think of it as my Christmas gift to you.
2. Lorna Jane
Think Lululemon, only….less douchey? Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Lulu…but I think we can all admit that founder and former CEO Chip Wilson is kind of a jackhole. In contrast, Lorna Jane Clarkson–the founder of this Australian activewear brand–is an incredibly positive role model on multiple levels. The brand has a truly positive message–Move, Nourish, Believe–that feels legitimately empowering and genuine. As far as the clothing goes, the price and quality is right on par with Lululemon. I actually prefer Lorna’s stuff as they tend to embrace more color and pattern. (Those floral mania pants have my name written all over them. Also on my list? The 2014 Move Nourish Believe Journal.)
The good news? LJ has recently expanded to the United States! While they currently only have stores in California, you can shop till your blue in the face on their website. Did I mention the free site-wide shipping? Yes, please!
3. Weis Bars
I discovered this tasty little treat on a hot day in Surfer’s Paradise. And it was heaven. (If heaven tasted like mangoes, vanilla ice cream, and macadamia nuts, that is.) These ice cream bars are made in Queensland with love — and real fruit! Surprisingly, they also aren’t too much of a splurge in the calorie department.
Obviously, shipping these frozen nuggets of delight to the states is out of the question, (unless you’re, like, Oprah or something), but I plan on recreating them at home with a scoop of mango sorbet, splash of cream, and tablespoon of chopped up mac nuts. (Sorry…that’s the best I can do.)
Bonds. Bonds! How did I survive twenty-nine years without Bonds?
I learned about Bonds thanks to our Contiki tour guide, Carolyn. She informed us that all the ladies and gents in Oz swear by this Australian brand of underwear. “They are the most comfortable things you will ever invest in,” she claimed.
Turns out, Carolyn was right. I’ve since fallen madly in love with Bonds for the following three reasons:
- They ship to the U.S. Easy, peasy.
- By signing up for their free rewards program, you get twenty percent off every single thing you buy for, like, ever!
- They make granny panties suitable for someone under the age of 30. (And yes…I love me some granny panties.)
5. Dual Flush Toilets
I know, I know. Dual flush toilets exist in America. But they were absolutely everywhere in Australia. During my fifteen days down under, I don’t think I came across a single toilet that wasn’t dual flush. Congratulations, Australia — you have outdone us with your eco-friendly ways again!
Seriously, though. Think about how much water we Yankees waste every single day using a single flush commode. It’s
kind of really insane. Let’s face it — America needs more dual flush toilets. There. I’ve solved at least half of our nation’s problems!
While I have little control over the governments toilet mandates, I am able to made a difference at home. And Australia has inspired me to jump on the dual flush bandwagon and never look back! Sure — there will be a bit of an up-front investment, but I’m hoping to save a bundle on utilities in the future. Particularly as I work from home — so I’m here flushing away all the live long day.
(Oh how I long for the days when our utility bills were lower as both Scott and I were at offices all day.)
(And yes. I realize that’s a really weird thing to think about.)
There you have it. My five favorite things from the land down under! Any Aussie treasures I left out? Of course, an honorable mention is given to my beloved runner-ups: Tim Tams and Harry’s meat pies. (Sorry guys. You just couldn’t compete with drinking custard.)
Psst! Want to check out Fab Fives of months gone past? Be my guest!