Archive for ‘Love Those Lists’

December 21st, 2011

5 Last-Minute, Mostly Handmade, Gifts For Under $10

by Venomous Kate

Are you avoiding your phone, turning down invitations, and refusing to answer the door rather than get caught without a gift for someone at the last minute? If you’re willing to shell out for overnight shipping, it’s not too late to shop from my list of 10 Types of Great Gifts for Under $20.

But maybe, like so many of us, you’re in the giving spirit but so strapped for money you feel you can’t afford anything nice? Don’t fret. Here are five last-minute, mostly handmade gifts you can put together for under $10 a piece, and I’m not talking crap that someone will throw away, either!

1. A luxurious spa set for your lady friends.

Whip up some Gingerbread Body Scrub with a few spices from your kitchen, a neutral oil (olive oil works!) and some brown sugar for under $1. In another bowl, shake the same spices together with 1 lb. of Epsom salts ($1.50). Put both in pretty containers, print or write a nice tag, and put them in a box or basket with a loofah ($3) and a pretty ivory-colored pillar candle ($3) from Wal-mart. Voila, a treat for the senses and skin!

2. An art set for creative kids.

Pick up crayons ($0.50), watercolor paints ($1.00), and a ream of blank paper ($3.90) from the dollar store. While you’re there, grab five or six packets of unsweetened Kool-Aid or similar drink mix ($0.10 each). Make a batch of Kool-Aid Playdough and package it in small containers which you can get at the dollar store for $0.50, or well-scrubbed jars. (I save jars from pimientos and marinated artichoke hearts all year for this.) Put them all together in a box or basket and present it to the little artist to keep him/her entertained for hours.

3. Goodies for Guys.

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Guess what? The way to making him happy on Christmas starts there, too! If you’ve got a guy you need an inexpensive gift for, it’s as simple as finding a large container (oatmeal containers are perfect for this) or picking one up from the store. Make a batch of microwave fudge and some microwave peanut brittle. (Note: if he or anyone in his household has a peanut allergy, make the brittle with some other kind of nut like cashews, or even shelled sunflower seeds!) Alternate layers of them in the container, separating each with some wax paper, and put a label on it that declares it’s all his, because if there’s one thing guys like more than goodies it’s not having to share them!

4. Cocoa for Co-Eds.

College kids are a hungry lot, but many of their dorms don’t allow any kind of cooking more complicated than using a microwave. Know how many would turn down a box filled with yummy things to suit those midnight munchies? None! So whip up a batch of homemade cocoa mix (ingredients cost $4.70) and put it in a pretty jar. In a second jar, combine a box of angel food cake mix with a box of chocolate cake mix ($2.75), then attach a printed card telling them how to make Cake in a Cup by adding 1/3 cup of the cake mix and 3 tbsp. of water in a large coffee mug sprayed with Pam and microwave it for 90 seconds. Bonus points if you throw in a pretty mug for them to use, too!

5. Pamper The Parents.

Oh, sure, everyone knows how tough it is for couples to take time off from their roles as parents and reconnect with each other. And, of course, we all make noises about how important that is, but unless the couple has family living nearby or a reliable babysitter (do those even exist?), it’s just a lot of empty talk. So imagine how much the pair would appreciate if you gave them a $25 gift voucher (that’ll only set you back $10) from to a nearby dining spot AND you insisted on watching their kids while they went out for a nice dinner together… alone. As a mom who hasn’t had a Date Night with my husband in almost two years now, trust me, a gift like that is worth its weight in diamonds. Really!


August 27th, 2007

Yet Another List I’m Not On

by Venomous Kate

The W Magical List of Women Bloggers: notice anyone’s name missing?

Hmm. Maybe I’m not on there because I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why we actually need a list of women bloggers. That’s so… sexist!

March 30th, 2007

Insomnia Strikes

by Venomous Kate

The iPod didn’t arrive today. VH is coming down with a cold. That means the snoring is un-freaking-believable, and I feel too sorry for him to bop him on the head until he stops making noise. So, deprived of my ability to read in bed for 2 hours with absolute peace and quiet, I find I can’t sleep.

In the interest of marital harmony — and staying out of prison — I mosied downstairs to the sofa thinking I’d nod off there. VH has done it before, after all, so why not return the favor? Ten minutes later I remembered why: our sofa cushions are feather-stuffed, and I’m allergic to feathers. Usually it doesn’t bother me – I seldom spend much time on the thing – but it certainly rules out any chance of falling asleep on it.

So here it is, 1:37 a.m. and I’m on the deck where, surprisingly, I’m not sneezing. Oh, I’m a bit chilled, and I’m wishing I’d remembered to put down some plastic before sitting on the chair, considering the downpour of rain we had earlier. But at least I can’t hear the snoring out here provided the breeze keeps blowing the right direction.

Dear God, that man can snore!

All of which is to say that I’m awake well past my bedtime and that, my friends, means I’m grumpier than usual. Scary, isn’t it?

These are the times I find myself thinking “Big Empty Thoughts”™, like:

  • Why do guys get so freaked out when asked to pick up tampons at the store? Do they really believe the clerk actually thinks they are going to use them?
  • I had grapes earlier today. My son gave me a piece of “grape-flavored” bubblegum. Who the hell came up with the idea these two things taste remotely alike?
  • Why do so many people throughout the world want the Levi jeans, iPods, WiFi, MTV and freedoms that Americans have, then vow to kill us?
  • How is it that, as soon as I turned 35, every part of my body began to grow bigger and bigger… except my bladder?
  • If Oedipus’ father knew what was coming, would he have blamed his wife or himself?
  • I still have no answer to this one.
  • If Jesus were among us today, would he be Catholic or Protestant… and if the latter, which flavor? Would everyone of a different sect was going to hell?
  • Would Jesus use a Mac or a PC… and if the latter, would His system need virus protection?
  • Where is Melinda Doolittle’s neck?!?
  • While I’m on the subject of Melinda Doolittle — talented as she is — can I just say that I’m not buying the humble, blink-blink, grin shyly act anymore?
  • Oh, yeah, and how is it that someone who sang back-up for Michael McDonald, Anointed, Mandisa, Aaron Neville, Jonny Lang, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Alabama (band) and CeCe Winans really be considered “undiscovered talent,” much less an “amateur”?
  • I believe my male kitten, Pippin, is in love with me. Does that make me delusional… or him?
  • The rumors of trackbacks’ demise is greatly exaggerated. Trackbacks aren’t dead. Bloggers are just merely more egotistical and ignorant. The purpose of a trackback is to let you know that someone else is discussing something you’ve written — for the purpose of carrying on the Great Conversation. Bloggers now care more about being submitted to Digg or, and don’t frankly give a damn what others are saying so long as they get recognition.
  • Who the hell came up with that “counting sheep” idea for curing insomnia? I’m thinking a shepherd… who probably didn’t last long at his job.
  • Do members of PETA consider “counting sheep” wrong because it essentially objectifies the animal?
  • At some point, my second toe on my left foot grew longer than my big toe. That freaks me out. I can’t stop staring at it.
  • I’ve yet to read a 1,000+ page novel that didn’t suck for the final 300 pages.
  • Speaking of novels… if I bore myself while in the middle of writing one, doesn’t that mean I should stop?
  • How many other people have figured out that Tylenol P.M. is really just Tylenol and Benadryl?
  • Anyone else remember McDonald’s short-lived “I’d hit it” ad campaign? I still get grossed out thinking about Quarter Pounders now.
  • I think that girl on the Hardee’s Chili Burger commercial actually gets cuter when she asks her boyfriend to pull her finger.
  • I don’t look good in black anymore. Does this mean my favorite turquoise blouse is now my new black?
  • Leopard print can be terribly sexy or terribly trashy. Does that defy the Objectivists’ tenet about A and non-A?
  • And, finally, isn’t a double-standard best remedied by one side deciding they don’t care that a double-standard exists?


March 9th, 2007

I’m Such A Geek

by Venomous Kate

A couple of days ago, a birthday present that De Doc ordered for me through Amazon arrived. My birthday was in June, and his gift was a book that I’d been waiting for the author to complete. Now that Susan Wise Bauer’s History of the Ancient World has arrived, I’ve had little interest in doing anything else but reading.

I confess, I’m turning into a geek when it comes to ancient and medieval history.

This isn’t an entirely new thing. Back in college I’d initially majored in history, with an emphasis on ancient cultures. Then, as is so often the case in the study of history, I had two entire semesters of some of the most dull, uninspired and monotonous professors ever to have darkened this earth. Thus I became an English Literature major, and the rest is… well… history.

Nowadays, with a number of degrees under my belt, I have little interest in returning to college. (Well, that’s not necessarily true: I still dream of pursuing a doctorate in history but very much doubt that I will ever find the time or finances to do it.)

These days, I’m more into self-education which, until lately, had consisted of sitting in my stuffy little basement office pouring over one book after another, my Timetables of History close at hand (and becoming increasingly crowded with my own notes). The back wall of my office, once blank and uncluttered, has slowly morphed into my own world history wall chart made of constantly shuffling Post-Its because I hate the thought of making it a permanent addition to the wall. What if I move?

Lately, though, I’ve been hooked on the History Channel, which I now TiVo to watch when VH is busy with his computer game. But even that might not make me necessarily geeky… until the other evening while watching a show about the Goths when I realized I’d filled the position formerly occupied by Simon Cowell on My List with this man.

I’m such a geek.

January 22nd, 2007

Thanks for the Memories

by Venomous Kate

Dear Simon: You are off of my list.

January 4th, 2007

Who’re You Calling Annoying?

by Venomous Kate

Finally, a list I’m happy to be excluded from: John Hawkins’ 21 Most Annoying People on the Right in 2006. Then again, only one female made the list. I’d cry “chauvinist,” but I happen to agree with most of the names on there.

November 3rd, 2006

Your Tunes: The 50 Most Depressing Songs

by Venomous Kate

Over at NaNoWriMo there’s a forum seeking input on a good playlist to write chick lit. I gave my ideas, but that got me to wondering: what would you suggest? I’m not looking for grrrrrl power songs. Those make me want to go kick somebody’s ass, not sit down and write.

So what songs would you nominate as the 50 Most Depressing (non-Sucky) Songs? Submit ones that make it to my playlist and if my novel gets published I’ll be sure to include your name in the acknowledgments!

UPDATE: Please don’t suggest entire albums. (Ooops… just showed my age, didn’t I?) I’m looking for particular songs, folks.

October 5th, 2006

Love lists?

by Venomous Kate

It’s no secret how much I love lists: making them, reading them, ignoring them. With Listography, I can do that with my own lists, or with other people’s. Neat!