Friday, December 15, 2017

Stocking Stuffing 101 (plus adult stocking stuffer ideas)

(This post contains affiliate links, but don't you worry! I only link items that I have actually bought myself or legitimately think are the bees knees.  I'm not here to push a buncha crap)

I love anything and everything about Christmas.  All of it.  But in regards to the actual gift portion of it all, stockings have been my hand down favorite for as long as I can remember. I was happy they came first Christmas morning and always took my sweet time opening it to make it last longer.
 It's a simple joy that I don't think everyone quite understands or appreciates.....but damn it they should!!  

Rockin' the local radio station shirt, PJ style

My broski inlaw  grew up in a religion that didn't celebrate Christmas.  It wasn't until he began dating my sister that he would celebrate it for the first time.  I didn't know this at first, but I specifically remember the moment I found out.  The first words out of my mouth were "So you've NEVER had a stocking before???"  With my mouth gaping open in disbelief.  Not "so you've never had a Christmas tree?" or "what are you most excited about?"  Nope.  My mind went straight to the sock and trying to wrap my head around the thought of living 30 years of my life without one. 

 As you can see this is serious shit in my world.

As much as I love opening them myself , I think I might love putting them together for others even more.  My deep love for stockings can definitely be attributed to (Spoiler alert: it's not Santa) my mom.  She always put so much time and effort into them and I took notice of it.  She wrapped almost everything in them.  Every chapstick, box of candy, toothbrush, even our cotton pads for our face were wrapped tootsie roll style and tied with curly ribbon.  The simple detail of wrapping each individual thing is what has made it so memorable for me.  Now as an adult I stuff a stocking for her every year and will continue to do so forever.  It only seemed right to turn the tables and now let her be on the receiving end of the tradition she created. Admittedly I've gotten a little carried away with them and they now go WAAAAY past just a stocking. I have to hand her a bag that holds the stocking plus the 4,056 things that don't fit inside.  And the bag may possibly weight around 15lbs...give or take.  But I just can't help myself!  I LOOOOVVVEE it!

So what do you put in a stocking anyway?   Glad you asked......

 An orange- growing up the toe of our stocking always contained an orange.  Once I got older and started stuffing them myself, I have gotten a little more creative and sometimes do avocados. But whatever you choose, a fruit in the toe is a must!

Nuts in the shell- the next layer on top of the orange was some form of nut in the shells.  Some years it was just peanuts, other years it was the fancier mixed nuts that you can buy in bulk.  You can even go wild and mix the is Christmas after all!

Individually wrapped candies- this is pretty self explanatory.  I always looked forward the to Reese's bells, or even better, the Reese's Christmas trees. We also always had a few candy canes hung over the edge of the stocking


Toiletries- every year as far back as I can remember we got a toothbrush, a travel sized toothpaste, and travel sized mouthwash.  Some years we got shampoo and conditioner but not all the time.  Then as we got older we would get cotton pads for cleaning our face, razors, and shaving cream. Deodorant, body wash, and face soap usually made an appearance too

Writing utensils- we always got new pencils and/or pens and when we were younger we would get fun erasers

Misc items: chapsticks, lotions, loofahs, nail files, emery boards, hair ties, and nail polish 

That about covers the items that I would deem "necessary" and can go across all ages.  In general I think kids stockings are inherently easier to fill.  Small toys, puzzles, coloring's just easier to find stuff .  I think people get sort of stuck though when it comes to adults so let me share some of the things I like to use

Snacks: Beef jerky, small boxes of Cheez Its (dollar tree usually has them. They are so much cuter than the small bags because they are an exact scaled down version of the regular sized box), peanut butter cups (not reeses, actual cups of peanut butter), trail and snack mixes, dried fruits, fun cereal, sunflower seeds, popcorn

Coffee and/or Tea - try to get fun new flavors they have never tried before. Bonus points if you get small bottles of flavored syrups

Small functional tools and gadgets- small flashlights, tool sets, keychains, air fresheners, lens cleaning spray or wipes, lens cleaning cloth, 

Alcohol-  yes please

Makeup and/or makeup removing wipes

Shaving cream brush, after shave, beard wax

Hairspray, gel, dry shampoo

Monkey butt powder

Foot spray

Shoe inserts

Face masks

Pumice stone

Funny socks


Sewing kit

Tide stick

Lint rollers

Card games 

Hot sauces

Now that you have been given a decent list to get started, where is the best place to go and get all this stuff?

Dollar Stores-  You can check off a massive amount of your list with one stop at the dollar store.  In fact, be careful or before you know it you'll be like me and be giving someone a $60's easy to do!

Grocery stores/Pharmacy type convenience stores-  these places are great to get the travel size items, but weigh out your options first.  Some items you can get at the dollar store in a full bottle for the same price as the travel.  All just depends on the look you are going for

World Market- they have a great selection of miniature items! I've gotten small coffee syrups, mini bags of coffee, mini bottles of hot sauce, vinegar, and olive oils, mini cheese wheels, as well as various international snacks

Asian/International Markets- if the person you are buying for is a foodie or even just a little adventurous, these markets are a really fun place to shop for stuffers.  You can just browse around and choose the items that jump out at you, or shop the aisles of specific countries that you think they might be interested in.  You may walk away with fun new snacks to try or even some ingredients to cook something new.  I highly suggest it!

Last but not least, I'm going to close this out with some items that are my top picks for this year.  If The Boy is reading this post I"mma need you to exit the page now.

I'll wait.


Get out of here man!

For reals.

Some of this stuff I bought you for go!!


First up is...... 

The WetBrush- I have crazy thick hair that is super knotty.  I bought this brush about 8 months ago or so and it such a LIFESAVER!! I love not having to rip through my hair's seriously the best! (HA! if you are still reading this, I made sure the first one wasn't for you)


Metal Straws- The Boy has a weird obsession with straws.  Like he will save them from QT and put them in the dishwasher and pull them out to put in our drawer.  It's weird.  So I decided to get him some metals ones to see how it goes

Frother- I don't know jack nothin about coffee.  I like it and I drink it daily.....but I'm talking Kcup, a squirt of Stevia, and a splash of heavy cream kind of coffee.  I don't go out for coffee and I don't drink anything too fancy.  A few months back when we went on a mini vacation The Boy ordered me a coffee from a nearby cafe.  I was like OMG why is this soooo good?? He said they frothed it....that's it lol  I guess I am easy to please.  So I came home and instantly started looking up frothers.  Since I don't know anything about anything coffee related I didn't want to get anything expensive to start, so I got this.  I have used it everyday since and I absolutely love it!  

Sphere Ice Mold- Great for drinky dranks

Poop Book- I'm on a mission to bring back the bathroom readers.  Let's not forget where we came from before phones. Will you please join me in my cause?


Phase 10- I had completely forgotten about this game until recently, but I REALLY want it again!  My friends and I went through a real serious phase (merp!) with this game while on a houseboat trip in 8th grade. We were OBSESSED!  I have probably only played it twice since then and it was at least 12 years ago, so I'm ready to get hooked all over again!


 Well I hope this post was helpful.  If I helped one person in this world discover the love that is the Christmas Stocking, then it was all worth it (did that sound convincing?)


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cabbage Patch Stew

If you're looking for a nice comforting bowl of stew to get you through the cold winter months, I've got you covered.


If you're like me and live in Arizona and you're looking for a  nice stew recipe to help you PRETEND that  it's winter when in actuality it's close to 80 degrees everyday well into December, then crank the AC and look no further because I've got that covered too.

This recipe takes me straight back to my childhood and is a family favorite.  Except maybe for my sister that threw it up once...maybe not her.....but the rest of us it give it a big thumbs up.

I had been telling The Boy about this recipe for years but had never made it for him.  I figured you can only rave about something for so long without making it before it just kinda gets awkward and kinda starts to sound like a big lie.  Seemed good a time as any to getting around to finally making a pot of it.  After pulling out my grandmas old school typer writer typed bright yellow recipe card, I decided to Google it just to see if other people make it too. 

I was surprised at how many results came up!  But then I started opening them up and one after another they were just all WRONG!

1. Some used kindey beans.....  Nope.
2.I saw lots that used tomato sauce or just canned diced tomatoes.... Hecks to the no!
3.And not a single one mentioned being served with mashed potatoes.  This is just sad

So basically, it's a good thing I'm here to correct such a travesty.  You're welcome.

1.You need to use ranch beans. Yes the ones with the black label that have that tasty sauce
2.Tomato soup is where it's at.  It adds a real richness and silky texture.  Just do it.
3.Serving them with mashed potatoes is a MUST.  Because....
      A.  Mashed potatoes.   Nuff  said
      B. There's just something about the two together that is just amazing.  The key is to make your potatoes true old school "mashed" and not whipped.  I'm not going to include mashed potatoes in the recipe because I (hope) know you can handle that on your own...right?
You want them buttery and on the thicker side....and personally I don't even mind a lump or two.  I like the contrast of the stew with the thick and almost a little dense mashed potato (from not whipping them full of air)  Serve a big scoop of it in the center of your bowl and put a little of each on your spoon and eat them together like so....

And for the love of god, PUH-LEASE do not mix it all together in one giant swirly mess like my cousins used to.  You'll ruin the magic

Cabbage Patch Stew

2lbs. ground beef
1 large onion, sliced
1/2c. diced celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small head cabbage, shredded (looking for about 6 cups)
1 26oz can Ranch beans
2 14oz cans condensed tomato soup
2 14oz cans green beans
Mashed potatoes for serving

Brown ground beef.  Sauté the onions, celery, and cabbage in the fat until softened. Drain off excess fat before adding minced garlic and let cook for one minute.  Pour in soup, beans, and enough water to cover.  Simmer on low for a minimum of 40 minutes, but the longer the better.  Salt to taste and pour in green beans just long enough to warm through as not to break them up into the stew.  Serve with mashed potatoes