Holiday Gift Guide For The Food Lover In Your Life

I am a bad blogger this month, shame on me. I use to never skip days because I loved having my calendar perfect every MWF, but after traveling in the summer, a snowball effect has occurred.

Fear not, my last final is next Thursday and after that I will come equipped with all things food. I also kind of miss over-sharing my life with you.

This is my first year blogging and I have always wanted to do one of these guides. There are so many different styles and personalities so gift guides for ‘your best friend’ or ‘hunky man’ are out of the question for me. It also does not help that I am the worst shopper for people who I am close with.

However, food I know and food I love. And today is Friday! Score for me, because I managed to get two Friday Five’s in a role. Today is a good day.

Because I am a law abiding citizen, I am informing you that I signed up for affiliate links today from Amazon because I just had to pay the yearly fee for hosting. If anyone purchases the items from Amazon I link, I get pennies on the dollar so do not side-eye me and think I am shelling out! Mama has to make a little somehow. 😉

Five Things To Get The Food Lover In Your Life

Or me, because that would be lovely. Or at least show me a picture of what food related items you got so we can bond over them.

1. Personalized State Cutting Board

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How awesome are these cutting boards?! I see how some states might work better than others (cough Colorado vs. Hawaii), but this gift is practical and also a little unique compared to what you might normally find in your local mall.There are cheaper versions but I really like AHeirloom’s brand. All the boards are an inch thick and made with love from a married couple in Brooklyn, NY.

PS: Does anyone shop at malls anymore or is everyone doing their ordering online this year?

2. Kitchenaid Food Grinder

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Most home cooks or married couples (who put it on their registry) have this coveted piece of kitchen machinery and use it a few times to make cookies and bread before storing it away in the cobwebbed cabinet for infinity and beyond. This food grinder brings a whole new twist for the stand mixer and kicks it up to a whole ‘nother level. I hate eating ground chuck from grocery stores because of all the horror stories I have heard in my class; I can not imagine anything more satisfying than grinding your own meat.

Conversely, you can be a person like me and say a prayer to the cooking gods every night hoping a Kitchenaid makes its way to your doorstep the next morning. It has not happened yet so maybe I need to try harder.

3. A Thomas Keller Cookbook

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Maybe it is because I have a school-girl crush on my food idol or the fact that I got to meet him a few months ago, but this would be a wonderful gift and I will be happy to mail you my address if you care to send me one (just kidding, really). One of the houses I nanny for has Ad Hoc at Home and the pictures are visually stunning and it looks great in the kitchen. I almost thought to put it on the coffee table but that is just silly.

4. Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator

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I came to the conclusion that anyone that loves food loves wine as well, so this would be an awesome gift! The Vinturi aerator looks fancy and will make you seem like a wine connoisseur when your guest come over to eat your (freshly ground) home made meatballs, recipe adapted from Thomas Keller’s cooking book, while graze on cheese served on your new state cutting board.

Wow, I am good.

5. A gift certificate to your favorite gourmet restaurant.

I am not talking about the Olive Garden. If you live in a foodie city, this is the perfect gift to help your friends expand horizons. A lot of higher-end restaurants will have these available and make them quite nice to look at. A few years ago, I received one to Gary Danko for my birthday and I probably would not of thought of going without the kind gesture. Chances are you will become their new bff or they will spend it all at the bar. Win, win.

Last week’s Friday Five: The Five Best Christmas Songs Of All Time

And that’s it! I have about a million more ideas but this is a good start. This year I made it clear to everyone that I will be nice and cheap and just want slippers for Christmas. With my luck, I will end up with about 35 different pairs.

What are good gifts idea I can get my friends? I am absolutely clueless.

What do you realllllly want for the holidays? (I am trying to be politically correct).

Too Soon

Hello all, I am going to assume your Thanksgiving went just as planned.

My day consisted mostly of cider, football, pumpkin pie and The Godfather. I could not ask for anything more on such a relaxing day.

Are you one of those people that put up the Christmas tree a few days after Halloween? I will not judge you if you do that. However, I like waiting until the day after Thanksgiving to start bringing out the ornanments.I usually have to work the next day, but this year I have the day off. My co-worker and I did an awesome job last year, no?

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You should see our tree, Al adds a really nice touch.

I do not usually over-do it on the holiday cheer, but there is one thing that is truly magical in the month of December. Christmas songs! I love everything about them.

Because today is my day off, I wanted to stop by and say hi and give you a short list of my favorite Christmas songs. I gave Thanksgiving a chance and now it is time to sing carols! I have not done a Friday Five in awhile, so I figured it would be nice to bring it back. 🙂

Without further ado,

(My) Five Favorite Christmas Songs

1. Frank Sinatra- Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Call me stereotypical, but nothing is more inviting and warm than the old croony voice of Ol’ Blue Eyes himself. What I wouldn’t do to be able to attend one of his live concerts.

2. Dean Martin- Baby It’s Cold Outside

Tell me one person who can sing this better than Dean Martin and I will personally fly over to your location and bow to you. Because it can not be done. 😉

3. Eartha Kitt- Santa Baby

Marilyn Monroe who? Eartha Kitt, the original singer, kills this version. This song adds a little spice to the fuzzy-feel good Christmas list.

4. Nat King Cole- The Christmas Song

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire + Nat King Cole = enough said.

5. Tony Bennett- Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

To my recollection, this is the first song I remember actually knowing the words to. I tried to include most of my favorite artists and this fit the bill!

Don’t you feel all warm and cozy now? I am in the middle of making my holiday playlist now so I can listen in my car. It is going to be really fun for all my friends. 🙂

PS: The Christmas part of Godfather just came on, how fitting.

What is your favorite holiday song?

Do you even like Christmas songs?

Running Reflections

The first week of August is an exciting one. Not because of the Cardamone wedding, but because I started my first week of half marathon training!

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(Actually, can any of my running friends look at this and make sure I’m not fucking myself over toward the end? Thanks!)

Incase you forgot, I’m hoping to run the Santa Barbara Half Marathon in November and actually had to change the long runs from Sundays to Wednesdays due to my school schedule. I’ve spent the last few months doing light runs here and there. Unfortunately, my base training plan had many holes due to work scheduling and vacations where running outside wasn’t possible.

Since today is Friday and I haven’t posted a Friday Five in over a month, I wanted to tell you:

Five Things I Have Learned As A New Runner

I don’t have a million pictures of myself running (which would be kind of weird) so instead, you’re in for a Google Images treat.

1. Hydration is really important

Everyone says this, but I really noticed the difference in my speed and endurance depending how hydrated I was the day before and during my run. No, I don’t drink as slickly as Senator Rubio above, but I do try to keep a bottle around me at all times.

2. Working out isn’t an excuse to buy Lululemon

Every time I hit a PR (which comes really easy when you’re only running three miles), I convince myself that I earned something from Lululemon. Bribing myself is not the most financially responsible thing I have done, although I must admit…my butt has never looked better in workout pants.

3. It’s all in the head. Well, sort of…

Running is definitely more of a mental dilemma than a physical one after a certain point. I find myself doing really well until my mind starts to wander, How long have I been running? Wow, it’s only been 1.5 miles? Is my Garmin working? After my mind shifts from auto focus to actually paying attention to my body moving, it all becomes an awkward game of QWOP.

4. Keep your pace

I always start my running feeling like Usain Bolt and hit my peak pretty early on and slug out the last x amount of miles.

P.S.: I ran my fastest mile today! (7:37) I also wanted to throw up on the side of the road for the first time. Two new records on the same day, yay!

5. Running sucks until you get good at it

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After my first few runs, I wondered what kind of crazies there were in the world to actually enjoy putting one’s body through the most unenjoyable task ever. It made me go through a series of denial and distrusting other people’s recommendations for anything. I woke up one day feeling a little crazy myself. I actually wanted to put my shoes on and go on a run, and so this madness begun.

Last week’s Friday Five: Five Ways to Prepare and Eat Mangos

I feel bad for not showing you any food this whole post, so I will tell you about a dinner date I had yesterday with one of my best friends, V.

Haven’t seen her since I came back from China and missed my lady terribly, so I took a short road trip to Concord, U.S.A. When she got off work, we walked over to their downtown area and caught up on everything that’s been happening between us. Crazy how easy the conversation flows between us, it’s like she knew what was on my mind before I even opened my mouth.

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We had Indian for dinner, which made me a very happy girl because nobody ever wants to go eat curry with me.

Chicken Vindaloo and Palak Paneer, yum.

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And my first Fro-yo ever: tart frozen yogurt with almonds, almond roca, cheese cake, graham crackers, strawberries and oreos.

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Runners, what’s your tip for a newbie? Favorite froyo combos?

Mail That Never Fails

I never get mail. I love handwritten letters, post cards, coupons. I’ll even take a flyer or an appointment reminder from my doctors, but every day it leaves me a little empty. A nonexistent girl that doesn’t even live here gets more mail then me! I don’t know where she came from because we were the first ones to live in this house since it was built.

With that, imagine my joy when I had two things waiting for me when I came home yesterday!

Our garbage company gives out free compostable bins to encourage people to stop throwing away everything in the trash. Since I took over the trash bill for our house, I ordered one for each floor. I thought I was able to use the Whole Foods produce bags for a liner but they were too small, so now I have to buy bio bags. Ah, always one thing after another.

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Second, I finally got Jacq‘s wedding invite! It’s getting real! I haven’t even bought a dress for the outside wedding yet, I’ll have very little time after my trip from Asia so I’ll have to try to figure it out soon. I love her unique invitations. I see that the date is wrong, but she told me it was totally okay because they had some behind-the-scenes technical difficulties.

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A bonus picture of my dinner last night, sautéed kitchen sink veggies and 6 ounces of chicken.

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I also came across 18 mangos and became giddy and panicked at the same time. What the hell am I going to do with 18 mangos?!

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I had a few days to try them out different ways so here’s my favorite ways to eat these champagne mangos.

Five Different Ways to Prepare and Eat Mangos

1. Cut In Half

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My mom always cut them for me this way, so I thought it was really weird when I saw Chi eating them differently the first time. I feel like my way is the best, because it’s not as messy and you don’t waste any part of it. Simple cut the mango in half and use a knife to cut them into squares. Then, flip the mango! My kids love eating them like this.

2. Chile Con Limon

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This is how Chi grew up eating mangos, with chili powder and limes. I usually hate mixing my sweet and salty but I came around and love eating mangos with a little bit of spicy. I know Trader Joe’s does something similar too!

3. Popsicles

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What doesn’t say summer like mango and banana popsicles! I just bought the popsicle molds in the last few days and I’m already obsessed with seeing how many flavors I can come up with. I’m already dreaming of raspberry and strawberry banana popsicles. Mmmm.

4. Smoothie

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I took the leftover juice from the popsicles and just drank it straight. No preservatives, extra sugars (not that mango juice needs anymore) and so refreshing. I just want to spike the smoothie and lay out on a beach with my Raybans and towel.

5. Habanero Salsa

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You guys will need to say thank you to Chi for this one, he conjured this one up after an intense workout. I love the habanero flavor in the salsa with the queso fresco on top. If you guys are interested, I don’t mind posting the recipe!

Last week’s Friday Five: Five Snacks To Feed Hungry Boys During Sport Finals