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I don’t know about you guys, but I do a lot of my holiday shopping online – the ease just can’t be beaten. However, every year I always save a few things to go buy in person. It gives me an opportunity to enjoy some décor (hey, stores often have great holiday decorating), drop some change in the Salvation Army bucket and check things out in person. B and I have decided that every year we plan on buying Gracie a toy from a local toy store, and this year I think we might head over to Best Buy to oogle some electronics. One thing in particular they have this year? LG OLED TVs. You guys, these things are amazing. I could imagine one in my house. (Sadly, there is not one in my house. Santa?)
This baby has a curved screen and amazing contrast. I didn’t think amazing contrast mattered (or was noticeable) until I saw images on the LG OLED screen. These televisions have self-lighting pixels that are able to switch on and off individually, offering the first infinite contrast ratio. This, in my limited technology speak, a big deal and a gorgeous image. They also have 4 color pixels (as opposed to the standard 3) that allow for deeper colors. The television is only about as thick as a pencil (say whaaat). With this television you won’t need any extra tv streaming devices either- it has a web browser and you can hook it up to all your accounts – Netflix, Hulu, Amazon. Some of the models even have voice enacted remote, which, I don’t know, THE FUTURE IS HERE.
Of course an LG OLED television isn’t inexpensive ($3499 at Best Buy which is $500 off the manufacturer’s price) but if you are looking for a fantastic family gift, this one might be it.
Happy shopping and of course, happy #hintingseason.
The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free. (Daisy’s additional disclaimer: gift card, sadly no free televisions for me)
Listen, I know. I see the calendar, the turkey has yet to come and go. But I’m also working on Christmas. I like to start slow, buy stocking stuffers so they are tucked away and purchased saving me the “Oh, hmm, gotta fill that up don’t I?” panic on December 20th, when Amazon Prime shipping is the only option, but of course what you want is available for Prime. Always.
(Amazon links affiliate, all items I love or want for my own self, nothing is sponsored)
Anyway, if you too are in charge of filling a stocking or five, and you are looking for ideas beyond the typical “chocolate orange for the toe, socks for the mid section” and need a few more nifty things, look no further.
Portable battery charger. In today’s device filled world someone is always looking for a plug, a car charger, a something, please, get my phone over 20% battery. These suckers are awesome for traveling (you can watch a movie and your iPad isn’t dead when you land) or for the car/office when you are away from an outlet. They are also really nice to have during bad weather so you know that if you lose power for awhile, you can recharge your phone and stay in touch with loved ones or on top of the weather reports.
All Clad measuring devices. They are definitely more than the average person is going to spend on something for their own kitchen, but I think that is what makes them an awesome stocking stuffer. I have a set of these and I *love* them so much- worth the investment. They are so much better than the cheap ones from Target or Bed Bath and Beyond. There are measuring spoons and measuring cups in evens and odds.
Nielsen Massey vanilla items. If you are shopping for someone who loves to bake, all of the vanilla products by NM are amazing. I’m partial to the paste, which gives pale items (like cheesecake or ice cream) pale vanilla bean flecks within.
Gear Ties. These things come in a million sizes and colors and are awesome for anyone who likes to stay organized. These heavy duty reusable twisty ties are perfect for bundling up headphone cords, charging cords, cords behind a desk, closing a bag, etc. Awesome (again) for people who travel to keep your suitcase from looking like cord/bomb central in the x-ray machines.
Infrared thermometer. If you’ve ever watched an episode of Good Eats, you know that Alton Brown is always checking on the surface temperature of his pans/grill/etc with one of these things. My husband long admired it and it was an easy way to fulfill his inner gadget geek on Christmas morning. Warning: you will have an infrared beam pointed at every surface in your house for a few days. Once the initial glee wore off we do use it pretty frequently, particularly when cooking and grilling.
Fit Bit. Ok, I know, this is a little pricier than your typically $20-and-under stocking stuffer, but man if it wouldn’t fit nicely in a stocking. Fitness trackers are taking the world by storm (I suppose time will tell if they stick around) and I want the new FitBit something fierce. If you can’t wait for the pre-order, check out the old faithful model, the FitBit Flex.
Microplane. I think I recommend one of these every year, but honestly, they are just that amazing for anyone who likes to cook. The fine ones are awesome for zest, spices and hard cheese, the larger ones are perfect for a block of cheese.
Quirky Cordies. This is something on my list- I want one for my bedside table and my desk. Perfect for anyone who loves gadgets and has a lot to charge.
Ice molds. A few years ago everyone was all about whiskey stones (still very cool, B loves his) but now the new way to drink your sipping whiskey is with a huge ice cube the size and shape of a pool cue. Last year we gave a lot of these to friends in small gift exchanges and I realized around December 20th that B didn’t have any of his own so I ordered a pair for his stocking. We’ve used them all year and find them easy to fill/work with. They also make a great boo-boo ice cube for bumps and bruises.
Tie travel case. I know, another item for traveling. Truthfully though, when B travels for business or for a wedding he was always trying to figure out how to pack his nice ties without them getting rumpled. This inexpensive solution is just what he needs to pack them in his suitcase.
Gas gauge. Two summers ago it seemed like we ran out of gas for our barbecue at the most inconvenient times; always when dinner was halfway cooked and both of us were grumpy with the two solutions: finish it inside on the stove or run to the hardware store. I bought B a little gas gauge to help us know when we were running out. It isn’t 100% accurate (mostly near the end, you never know if you have enough for one more thing or if you’ll run out in 5 minutes) but we always know when we are running low and make sure our second tank is full and ready to be swapped out. B thought it was very cool when he opened it up on Christmas morning.
Jack Rudy fixings. If you have a cocktail lover on your hand, consider one of Jack Rudy’s accessories- tonic syrup, grenadine syrup, or bourbon cocktail cherries. These are specialty small batch items for making really delicious, high quality cocktails.
Focusing on happier times, lets take a look at last weekend.
As Chicago geared up for an arctic plunge (refuse to use the p-v-phrase, the one that rhymes with molar cortex) we spent the past weekend out and about without wearing hats, as one should do before the temperatures plunge and everything becomes frozen. Friday evening was spent just enjoying doing nothing other than recalculating our grocery budget after Gracie ate three breakfasts, two lunches, a hearty snack and two dinners, but otherwise uneventful. I made these beef/blue cheese/au jous/crispy shallot sandwiches in the crockpot and both adults in the house declared them a huge success (we paired them with roasted brussels sprouts/Gracie had her own separate dinner before the sandwiches were done, opting for two huge portions of smoked salmon + sides) for a chilly night, and we sat around in the living room watching television and being lazy sloths. Saturday morning, after a delightful breakfast (two full size waffles and a piece of bacon for Gracie, which she paired with a large cup of milk and another of water) we bundled up in our finest maize and blue and drove up to Evanston for some football.
This was Gracie’s first college football game, and while we had a great time, general consensus is: not again, until she is old enough to sit in her seat for more than 32 seconds. We picked up my cousin (attending Northwestern), parked, and hit up a tailgate where Gracie ate her weight in pretzels and tried her very first Doritos (big fan). Then we loaded her up in the Tula and went into the stadium where she was happy and content to do anything except sit in our seats. We gave up only 7 minutes into the game and instead spent the half wandering the concourse, yelling “Go Blue”, trying out some of the stadium fare (pretty delicious/upscale) and watching Michigan return to the locker room for half time. Although we didn’t watch much of the game, we did have a lot of fun and even got Gracie a certificate commemorating her first college football game (thanks Northwestern)! At this point we had a no-napper on our hands and we decided to beat the crowds and cold, pick up barbecue from Hecky’s and head on home. Gracie had a stick that she carried around all day (found while tailgating), jumped in leaves, watched the crowds and was pretty enthralled by it all. B wore his Michigan “themed” Loudmouth golf pants (his very favorite pants ever) and I got to tailgate, which is one of my very favorite hobbies (if one can call it that). All in all: November Saturday success, especially after we came home to see Tulane win and Notre Dame lose (not, uh, in the same game obviously). We even found time to watch Good Morning Vietnam, a Robin Williams movie I hadn’t seen but wanted to. It was worth staying up for!
On Sunday morning we got our grocery shopping out of the way so we could hit up the “Fall French Market” at the French International school in Chicago. I wasn’t sure what to expect but they promised kid activities and crepes, so we decided to check it out. Unfortunately the kid area was for those who were potty trained, so we meandered as much as Gracie could stand (a lot of no-touching booths), sampled some crepes and cookies, and bought some raffle tickets (the school is fundraising as they move to their new campus/oh wait schools are always fundraising, ha ha ha), and prevented Gracie from stealing decorations from the walls/lockers. Sometimes in a big city (with no family roots) it can be hard to find a sense of community, and attending something like a school market makes you feel like the city is just a little bit smaller. Despite not meeting pre-conceived expectations we had a good time and made it home in time for Gracie to eat a huge bowl of yogurt, with a side of salmon, before she took a (much needed) afternoon nap. I made a practice pie for Thanksgiving (man, pie skills….not my thing…) and B and I read with football on in the background. After a family supper (grilled flank steak, asparagus, mashed potatoes) we put Gracie down and spent the evening reading while keeping one eye on the shellacking of the Chicago Bears. It was one of those nice weekends with lots to do but plenty of downtime. Here is hoping for another one this weekend (and maybe Gracie’s eye will open up a little?)
On Tuesday I took the day off of work to hang out with Gracie. Daycare was closed and after watching the Today Show for a little bit I had grand plans of a long walk with the dog, perhaps a trip to the zoo (Gracie had been asking to visit the monkeys), and while she napped, an episode of Serial while I wrote a blog post about our fun weekend. As we came back from our walk it started to sprinkle and I started to hustle to get us all inside (so much for the zoo).
We live in a traditional Chicago style building with an elaborate front porch, about 5 steps from the sidewalk up. I got the stroller up the stairs from the sidewalk, and then, as I rushed, I must have let go without putting the brake on. I’ll question this 3 second window for the rest of my life, but in that moment, as it began raining harder, I dropped and then tripped over the dog leash. I then spent a moment picking myself up, getting the leash, grabbing the now wet dog, the wind was gusting, and then I turned back to get the stroller, except it wasn’t right there anymore and it was near the sidewalk. I have never felt such fear as I ran down, and as soon as I saw Gracie’s scrapes (she was conscious and just starting to wail) and the lump on her head, I just went into auto pilot. In the next few minutes I got us up 3 flights of stairs (I thought I left the stroller in the middle of the lobby, but turns out, I folded it up and tossed it in a corner), grabbed the diaper bag, and ran back out the back of our house to our car. She was awake but angry, and I wasn’t taking any chances with a head injury.
I called B, and made my way in the pouring rain to the Children’s Hospital. Gracie alternated between crying and trying to sleep, which terrified me. I was on the edge of hysteria but I just kept focusing on getting us there, parked. Once we parked I scooped her up out of her car seat and ran, through the rain, into the lobby, where a nurse took one look at us and began writing out a wrist band for Gracie. I just sort of half cried/yelled “My daughter fell down the stairs, help” and they whisked us back into a room.
We spent a long day at the hospital. The first attempt at a CT scan was a bust (she wouldn’t hold still) and she wasn’t perking up at all, so they ordered a sedated CT scan. While we waited we watched an endless loop of Disney movies on the in-room entertainment channels, Gracie on my chest, her not wanting anyone to come near us.
After her CT scan (which was awful, as she fought the sedation, and B and I stood in a cold hallway near the supply storage and just cried along with her), she was given pain medicine and a cup of milk, which was the beginning of her bounce back. We eventually learned she had no bleeding (yay!) but she had some small fractures in her eye socket. These types of fractures are evaluated by surgeons (although she does not need surgery) so we met with trauma, facial, and plastic surgeons along with ophthalmologists. Her eyes were dilated and revealed no internal damage. Her broken eye is swollen shut (and will be for awhile) and she’s pretty bruised. B and I felt a lot of love and support from our family and close friends (thank goodness for text messaging and hospital wifi) while we spent those long hours waiting.
Gracie perking up was really the only thing that made us feel better, and in the last few hours as the doctors debated an overnight observational stay she returned to her usual ways- asking for crackers, coloring, playing with blocks and bubbles (the child life team was amazing) and telling me “No Pozen, no Brave” (no Frozen, no Brave, i.e. I just want to play Mom) and saying hello to everyone who came in to see her. The doctors decided we could go home, although we have a lot of follow up visits in our future, to make sure everything is healing the right way. Our sweet friend Elizabeth ordered take out to be delivered at our house, so we even had a (very late) hot meal at the end of the day.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so terrible and guilty as I did in those hours at the hospital, and I’m still struggling with the idea that my absent minded/dumb/idiot/whatever you want to call it move led to something so serious. I’m thankful it wasn’t worse, but I’m aghast that it even happened. I’ve had a lot of smart people assure me it was just an accident – my Dad reminded me of a pretty fantastic home movie we have of him accidentally dropping me onto my head when I was about 3- and while I know it was accidental, it was still dumb and led to something terrible.
So now we wait for the swelling to go down (maybe a week?) and the bruising to fade (much, much longer) and we schedule doctors appointments and decide how many weeks to keep her out of gymnastics.
I didn’t really want to write about this, this terrible accident, but it also felt important to write the words out, admit that I made a mistake, reaffirm that the doctors did a great job and the prognosis is excellent. Writing is a way of working through things (both good and bad) and while I don’t think I ever want to re-read this, I’m hoping this is another step in forgiving myself for letting go of that handle.