Gift Ideas


Kate’s Holiday Gift
Ideas du Jour

As I’ve mentioned previously, my
Mother receives almost

every possibly conceivable catalog in the known Universe
.  And
for catalogs, official "Holiday" season started a month or two ago; these
means my Mom gets between five and ten catalogs a day (this is rather a
conservative estimate).

I thought I could provide a useful
service to those who haven’t access to such a cornucopia of Holiday gift
ideas.  And I shan’t waste time with the commonplace, mundane and
type of gift; I shall aspire to provide you with unusual,
ordinary and, yes, even bizarre ideas.  So here begins the
2005 Holiday Season Gift ADVENTURE.

Holiday Gift Idea #18

The OFFICIAL Blobby Farm

Lauds and honours to Blobby King 1

Mr. Man Jr., 8 LOVES YOU!

Useful AND aesthetically pleasing - what more could you ask?

This week 'Up-Chucking the Chucky-Muck'.

I smite you!


I’ve been dreadfully remiss and it’s a
tragedy and all that, blah blah blah.  You might take a look at these
handy gift idea sites, instead.  They are a many things that this
site is NOT, foremost being SUCCINCT.

But, as I mention in my blog entry, being Blobsessed, I insist on expounding
regarding the UTTER PERFECTION of the Blobby as a gift idea.

For instance, every year my Mom
chooses a gift for the women of the family – some sort of item of apparel
– slippers, shirts, pajamas, bathrobes, etc. – she’s really run the
gamut.  Last year, I managed to convince her that Blobbies made excellent
head gear.  So I got to choose a Blobby for each woman in the family! 
I chose a number of them from the excellent selection always available
from the Blobby Farmers, and was delighted to get a few custom requests,
too.  They were a HUGE hit, naturally.  My Grandmother keeps her Blobby ON
HER BED – an honour only afforded to The Earl of Chunk 1 (her Blobby) and two small
stuffed dogs (which are memorials to her seventeen-year-old poodle who
passed away last year).

And, as I also mentioned in
my blog entry, now the OFFICIAL Blobby Farm is open.   Perhaps I
should start with a FEW basics.

What is a Blobby?  In the words of
Blobby Farmers Maria and Chris:

Blobbies are.
. . well, they’re. . . uh, blobby little things. They are not intended
to represent other animals or things (although there are some cats,
tigers, and pigs floating around), but to be a nice alternative to all
the literal toys out there.

Blobbies are made using the best fleece, terry cloth, felt, and
polyseter fiberfill we can get our hands on, while still keeping them

Once upon a time, Maria was invited to a baby shower and she wanted
to give a gift that no one else would duplicate. Luckily, she has a
husband who stays awake in meetings by drawing pictures. One of these
pictures, combined with two remnants from the fabric store, turned into
the first Blobby: a blue-body and striped-pants wide-mouthed friend for
the yet-to-be-born Noah Simiskey. Since then, a vast collection of
fleece, felt, terry, faux fur, and other soft fabrics has built up in
Maria’s sewing room, and more and more of Chris’s drawings have gone 3-D
and full color.

There you have it.  And, as I have previously contended, Blobbies are
also excellent headgear.

You’ve your choice of three central merchandise categories:

Blobby Jr.’s
, and

Blobby Miscellaneous

This is fairly self-explanatory. 
are the full-sized creatures in all their Blobbulous glory. 

Blobby Jr.’s
are full of smaller Blobbulous glory (as they
are…smaller).  The

category contains mittens (pictured at the left), bibs,
finger puppets and buttons – basically, miscellany.

Here’s an important fact:  YOU HAVE TWO DAYS (INCLUDING TODAY) TO

Not only that, but there are FREE things on the

Blobby Farm
site.  For instance, you can peruse the
Newbraska Picayune
– a
very fine periodical in the style of… other fine periodicals.  You
can even send a festive holiday
My personal favorite is Holiday Picnic (you will NEVER see a finer
portrayal of Che Guevara by an animated snack cracker), but you could also
opt for the brand-new Keep Warm.  You can also get free
colouring pages AND

Get a Blobby even if it’s NOT a festive Holiday gift.  You shan’t
regret it.  If nothing else, go and READ THE DESCRIPTIONS of the
various Blobbies.  They are worth money in and of themselves.

Holiday Gift Idea #17

Stuff it in a sheep's stomach and you're good to go.

I see something a little ODD in this picture, and it has nothing to do with sheep innards.

Stuff, steam and serve!  Yum...

HAPPY Hogmanay!

GOTTA love the pyramid o' Haggis.

It's funny.

Scotch Haggis

I believe it’s time to jump to the BIG
stuff.  Let’s skip "sweets," "biscuits," specialty preserves – all
more standard fare.  Let’s get to the perfect gift for "extreme

Authentic Scottish Haggis, the National Dish of Scotland:
To enjoy Scotland’s National Dish one can either trek some 3000 miles across the “pond” or simply open a can of this authentic Scottish haggis. Made from an award-winning recipe that has been passed down for three generations, this traditional blend of lamb, pork, oats, and onion is similar to hash only a lot more versatile. 15 oz. can.

  • Makes a great stuffing, base for canapés, or anytime snack
  • For a true Scottish classic, serve with mashed potatoes and turnips
  • Heat in the microwave and serve

Introduce a delicious change of pace to your menu by serving Scottish haggis. $8.95 per can.

Oh, YES!  Put on yer kilt (and if ye
are one, wear it like a MAN – without any nancy underthings), paint yer
face blue and EAT SOME HAGGIS! 

The Gourmet Standard for Traditional Scottish Food in America
based in Texas (?), gives us this valuable serving information:


Neeps and
"Neeps and tatties" are Scottish names for rutabagas and potatoes
cooked the traditional Scottish way. They serve as the traditional
accompaniment to haggis and for good reason – the three dishes go
wonderfully well together. The tatties are mashed potatoes, and we
recommend using red potatoes, along with lots of sweet butter. (A feast of
haggis, neeps, and tatties is not the right occasion to get low-fat crazy.
Besides, you should give yourself permission to indulge yourself every
once in a while!) Neeps Scottish "neeps" are rutabagas (B. n. napobrassica).
The name comes from the Swedish "rotabagge", which is why this vegetable
is also called a "Swede" or "Swedish turnip" in England. Absolutely do not
use American turnips as a substitute, as the taste simply will not work as
well. To prepare the neeps, peel a fresh rutabaga and cut into 1" cubes.
Boil, drain, and whip them into a frenzy with some salt, pepper, and ,of
course, butter. If you have trouble finding rutabaga of any description in
your supermarket, we have some excellent canned rutabaga available at the
Caledonian Kitchen.

Haggis, a Breakfast of Champions: At many Bed and Breakfast establishments
in Scotland, haggis is served for breakfast as a part of the wonderful
"Full Scottish Breakfast". You can usually find eggs, porridge, bacon,
haggis, black pudding, kippers, tomatoes, scones, pastries, toast, as well
as all the great jams and marmalades Scotland is famous for in that
tremendous breakfast. Additionally, Haggis goes beautifully with scrambled
eggs or over toast points on a more continental style of breakfast

For Special Occassions, a Special Sauce: Ardvasar HotelOn the Isle of
Skye, we have stayed at the Ardvasar Hotel, a 250-year-old former coaching
inn on the Sleat Peninsula that offers reasonably priced accommodations,
good hospitality, and great food. While there we were introduced to a
wonderful sauce as an accompaniment to haggis. Whether or not the sauce is
traditional, it is decadently delicious, and we suggest that you try it,
as it is really quite simple to make. It consists of heavy whipping cream
blended with a small amount of Scotch (enough to suit your own taste),
preferably a good single malt. The heavier Islay malts are good for this
because you don’t have to use as much. This is not a waste of good Scotch!

Ideal Finishing Touches: Haggis, neeps, and tatties were NOT the food of
nobility. They were prepared and eaten in humble crofts in Scotland. They
are the food of the common man, but they also represent the crown jewels
of the culinary Folk Art of Scotland. Among the finishing touches to this
extraordinary meal would be an oat bread or any other whole grain brown
bread. Add a good pint of brown ale such as McEwan’s and you’ll have a
meal our Scottish ancestors would have relished. A bit of tea and homemade
Shortbread in front of a fire would be the perfect finish, as well as the
prelude to a round of good single malt.

Slainte! ! !

is a veritable Haggis wonderland with TWENTY-NINE Haggis-related items. 
I will get back to this.  First, I must point out what seems rather
an oxymoron.  Here’s a description from
What On Earth? catalog: 

Scotch Haggis:
It’s the traditional Scottish delicacy: a
hearty combination of sheep organs minced with oatmeal and flavorings,
boiled in the sheep’s stomach and served up piping hot. Each can offers
a whole authentic 15 oz. haggis. Extreme eaters will also adore Haggis
recipes included in our remarkable 34 page cookbook.  Haggis $8.95
per can.  Cookbook $9.95.

Did you catch that?  Vegetarian Haggis?  Isn’t that a
contradiction in terms?  Do you still boil or steam it in a sheep’s
stomach, or must you use pleather?  I do know several Brit
vegetarians (and who can blame them, what with Mad Cow Disease (bovine
spongiform encephalopathy), but VEGETARIAN HAGGIS? 

Some deeper research might provide some insight:


(by Trevor Datson)

LONDON (Reuters) – A tiny
Scottish firm has teamed up with a U.S. company to start the first
industrial-scale production in America of Scotland’s national dish —

Stahly Quality Foods, which employs just four people in the industrial
new town of Glenrothes, believes the joint venture with a Chicago-based
food processor can move 300,000 tins of the offal-based delicacy in its
first year.

The estimated 10 million Scots and people of Scottish descent that live
in North America offer an appetizing market.

But founder Ken Stahly’s first venture into the United States was
crushed by an import ban following the British foot-and-mouth disease
outbreak of 2001.

"We were constantly getting e-mails and calls asking ‘How can we get
haggis over here?’, Stahly said, as the Scottish diaspora across the
globe prepares to toast the national bard Robbie Burns with haggis and
whisky on January 25.

The U.S. launch is proving expensive for the firm.

"It’s cost us a fortune so far — the lawyers were charging us $290 an
hour just to draft things like confidentiality agreements that will
hopefully just sit in a drawer. But the potential is huge," Stahly said.

Haggis is prepared in a sheep’s stomach and is steamed or baked and
served hot, but can also be revived when cold with a dash of scotch.
Stahly will initially be offering two varieties from the Chicago plant
— traditional and vegetarian.

The recipes, like the identity of the U.S. partner, are a closely
guarded commercial secret, but most traditional haggis contains liver,
heart, tripes, oatmeal, suet and spices.

It also traditionally contains "lights," or lungs.

But "mad cow disease," or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which
can be transferred to humans as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD),
put a stop to that in commercial haggis production as lungs are deemed
"high risk material."

HAGGIS HUNT:  All of the ingredients used in the
Chicago plant will be sourced locally to avoid U.S. import restrictions
on British meat products — the irony being that BSE most recently
recurred in the United States.

Marketing could, however, prove a challenge. A recent poll of 1,000 U.S.
visitors to Scotland, by haggis makers Hall’s of Broxburn, found that 33
percent believed a haggis was an animal
hunted in the highlands.

But Stahly has launched a haggis recipe book which the founder hopes
will spread the word among American consumers, along with trade shows
and exhibitions,. If the venture proves a success, Stahly hopes to
expand the range, possibly in conjunction with a Scotch whisky company.
The marketing synergies are potentially huge.

But so are the bureaucratic pitfalls.

Three years after U.S. customs returned a batch of Stahly’s
Scottish-produced haggis on foot-and-mouth fears, British customs
authorities turned back a trial case sent from Chicago.

So is "Vegetarian Haggis" developed particularly for an American Audience? 
NO, actually. 
MacSween: The Haggis Specialists
are considered the "inventors" of
vegetarian Haggis:

How did it
all get started?
Poetry Library for their opening ceremony in 1984 – Would Mr Macsween
make a vegetarian haggis? A satisfactory recipe was devised and
widespread interest after the event, encouraged production on a
commercial scale. The vegetarian haggis was launched on the market to
cries of horror and amazement – the poems and letters are still flowing
and it is now ‘Vegetarian Society Approved’.

Unfortunately, we cannot get
MacSween Haggis,
considered a "premier" Haggis, in the US because of the aforementioned
import restrictions.  So let’s get back to

It appears that "
The Laird O Tha Haggis resides in the Dallas,
Texas area while his busy Factors [Factories?] warehouse and ship from
Natchitoches, Louisiana."  One of their twenty-nine Haggis-related
items is the


"Presentation Haggis Kit:"

Presentation Haggis Kit:
 Stuff, steam and serve! The
perfect alternative to our fresh frozen haggis at almost half the price!

"…Great chieftain o the puddin’- race!" Haggis was exalted by the
immortal Robert Burns, and – presented in its traditional form – it
continues to be the subject of tribute at Burns’ Night celebrations and
other Scottish gatherings. Salute it at your own tribute to the Bard of

Our Presentation Haggis Kit contains almost 6 pounds of tinned
Caledonian Kitchen Haggis and the same fibrous casing as our frozen
haggis and contains 30 3-oz servings. Stuff, steam and serve! Perfect
for the guests at your next event! Easy to follow preparation
instructions are included with each order.  $47.94 per kit.

Wow.  We all should do a "Burn’s Night" now (FYI: January 25th). 
I’m told you get to "greet the Haggis," recite poetry, and get smashed
with excellent Scotch Whiskey. 


carries a HUGE selection of tinned Haggis (vegetarian and beef – wait –
beef?), but they also offer gift sets such as:

Hogmanay Gift Set: Celebrate Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year, with the
Caledonian Kitchen!
 "Hogmanay is celebrated on 31st
December every year, usually in a most exuberant fashion. In Scotland,
particularly in more remote parts, customary first footing and Scottish
dances, or ceilidhs (pronounced "kayli"), take place. As they have for
centuries, fire ceremonies — torch light processions, fireball swinging
and lighting of New Year fires — played an important part in the
Hogmanay celebrations.

In the modern tradition, groups of friends or family get together and do
a tour of each others’ houses. Each year, a household takes it in turn
to provide a meal for the group. In many parts of Scotland gifts or "Hogmananys"
are exchanged after the turn of midnight."

Our gift set includes our famous Caledonian Kitchen Highland Beef
Haggis, Edinburgh Preserves’ Scottish Haggis Sauce and those always
difficult to find "Neeps"! All you provide are the tatties, wine or a
wee dram of whisky, or the traditional Het Pint, which is a combination
of ale, nutmeg and whisky!  $14.99

Sounds utterly (udderly?) festive.  I’ve really got to try Haggis. 
After all, like I’ve said, after you’ve eaten chicken feet most anything
seems possible.

Other Haggis sources include
Scottie’s British Pantry
(in Florida???):

Stahly Quality Foods Tinned/Canned Vegetarian Haggis 15oz/425g:

Stahly Quality Foods produce a range of haggis which are kept "whole"
within a tin. This results in a traditional dish which retains its
visual image with the advantage of a three year shelf life under ambient
conditions and can be enjoyed year round and world wide. Drambuie
liqueur is added to the traditional Scotch haggis to produce a taste of
Scotland fit for the connoisseur. Please note that our American haggis
is skinless.

As the number of vegetarians at home and abroad continue
to steadily increase, they need not miss out on the Scottish National
dish. The Vegetarian haggis combines fine Scottish ingredients,
including oatmeal, with a mixture of vegetables and herbs to produce a
tasty alternative for non meat eaters.  $8.19 per tin.

Also, the Celtic Isles Shop
(located in Ohio) offers the regular and vegetarian Stahly tinned Haggis
for $5.75 per can:

Traditional Skinless Haggis Made with the Finest Ingredients:

 Prepared in the U.S.A. for Stahly Quality Foods, Fife, Scotland KY6

(We’re told this is a first for a Scottish food prepared outside

Serving Suggestions: Traditionally,
haggis is eaten with mashed potatoes and turnip. For ultimate enjoyment
this dish should be washed down with a glass of Scotch Whiskey (we can’t
sell alcohol, our town is dry!).

The Celtic Isles Shop
also gives us a lovely page of "Haggis
," if you’re interested.

I think that covers it for now.  Only one last suggestion: I think

this T-shirt
is the appropriate attire to don when eating or serving

Holiday Gift Idea #16

England's FAVOURITE side dish, but consider that they probably don't have access to tater tots.







Batchelors Mushy Peas

Call me crazy (certainly wouldn’t be the
first time), but I think I would really LOVE this item.  Here’s the Vermont Country

England’s All-Time Favorite Side Dish, Mushy Peas:
In England fish-and-chips is best enjoyed with a traditional side of mushy peas. Now you can try the Brits’ favorite side dish thanks to these authentic mushy peas imported from Great Britain. Made from a unique dried pea not available in the U.S., this satisfying side dish tastes a lot like split pea soup, only subtler in flavor so as to complement and not detract from the main dish. 10.6 oz. can.

  • Serve as a side dish with any of your favorite meals
  • Heat on the stove or in the microwave

If you’re a big fan of split pea soup, then you must give these mushy peas a try.

Only $8.95 for three cans.  Peas are
my FAVOURITE!  And these peas are "unique" and "not available in the
U.S." so they are EXOTIC! Well, to tell the truth, it looks like you can

Mushy Peas
The London Market
for $1.53 a can, so I guess you CAN get them in the
U.S.  However, they are still IMPORTED and therefore still EXOTIC. 
EXOTIC must be spelled in call UPPERCASE letters to capture it’s essence,
of course.

sells Mushy Peas as well:

Batchelors Mushy Peas:
  Description: Mushy peas are
dried marrowfat peas which have been soaked overnight and then boiled.
Mushy peas are a great favourite of the north of England and are a
traditional accompaniment to fish and chips.  Price: $2.49

I am now seriously craving something that
I have NEVER TASTED IN MY LIFE.  Mushy peas honestly sound delicious
to me.  Anyone know a place with decent Fish n’ Chips?

Holiday Gift Idea #15

ANYTHING that accompanies cheese cannot be bad.

These are not to be confused with exploding 'Christmas Crackers' which are less tasty but more festive.

This PROVES that I do not own ALL the varieties of cheese plates in the World.

Cheese Fruit Accompaniments

Yes, it’s still Anglophile Culinary
Or weeks…  Just live with it.  I still haven’t
reached some of my most very favourite items!  But today we have some
WONDERFUL ones, because they ALL have to do with CHEESE! WONDROUS
CHEESE!!!  I won’t actually feature any cheese, itself, as you can
usually find a decent cheese monger and get some great cheese from the
U.K. locally (from superb "farmhouse" cheddars, Wensleydale, Sage Derby –
a personal favourite, to

Dorset Blue Vinney
).  I’ve opted instead for the "accompaniments"
Old Durham Road: English Country Living:

Cheese Fruit Accompaniments:
Fruit toppings to compliment
your favourite cheese as an appetizer, desert, or with afternoon tea;
it’s good food. 4oz.

Damson Plum


Lime & Chili

$10.50 each.

Of course one needs an elegant cheese
"vehicle," too:

A cheese tray is oft times the final course to an
English dinner, along with digestifs. These crackers are formulated to
compliment different degrees of cheese sharpness. 5.3 oz. Choose from

Natural Crackers
– Delicate Cheese.

Charcoal Crackers
– All Cheese.

Whole Meal Crackers
– Sharp Cheese. $5.95 per box.

I admit, "charcoal" sounds like a dubious
cracker choice (being used to light fires and pump stomachs and whatnot),
but if you call it a "digestif" instead of a cracker, then it suddenly
gains many positive cuisine points (there’s a system, you know).  I
think even "pond scum digestifs" might rate one or two cuisine points.

I have saved the VERY best for last. 
You cannot eat it, I grant you, and it costs $46.50 (plus shipping), but
one should have proper serving implements for their cheeses, cheese
fruit accompaniments AND various digestifs:

Cheesemonger Plate:
"Purveyors to Kings, Queens and
Discerning Mice, Thomas Moon and Sons, Cheesemonger, est 1890" is
portrayed on this ceramic cheese serving plate imported from England.
Based on an actual store, a Cheesemonger is one who trades in cheese, in
case you did not know. Can be used for cake, pizza and more. Heavy duty
ceramic. 13" dia.

It has DANCING MICE on it, for crying out
loud!  And it makes witty remarks about them!  Too good.

Holiday Gift Idea #14








Chivers Hartley Gooseberry Jam

I realize that I desperately need to step
up the pace with my Holiday Gift Ideas; shopping days are disappearing
right and left!  Nevertheless, I have just one little treat for today
(another Vermont Country

Tart Up Your Toast with Chivers Hartley Gooseberry Jam:
On our travels in England, we finally found the gooseberry jam you
requested. Ours is made by Chivers Hartley, whose name stands for
quality. Gooseberries are a tart and fragile fruit that makes tangy
preserves, cookie or tart fillings, and sauces. The plant grows best in
the British Isles because of the latitude and climate. 11.9 oz. glass


  • Contains 45% fruit
  • Gooseberries are rare in the States because of warm summers
  • Two jars for $11.90 (plus shipping)

Tangy gooseberry jam is made by Chivers Hartley, the premier condiment
firm in the U.K. since 1873.

I was attracted to this item for two
reasons. The first, "Tart up Your Toast" is a very clever double entendre.
Secondly, so help me, I just like saying GOOSEBERRIES a lot. Gooseberries,
GOOSEBERRIES, GOOOOSEBERRIES!!!!! It reminds me of Carol Channing
and "Raaaaaspberries!" in
Thoroughly Modern Millie
.  Oh – and thirdly (wait – THREE reasons
– no one expects the Spanish Inquisition?) – sorry – I LOVE to learn. 
And now I have stowed away this tidbit of erudition in my unusually
gigantic cranium: Chivers Hartley has been the premier condiment firm in
the U.K. since 1873.  I shall try to fit it into a conversation
post-haste!  "Speaking of condiments [which one does so often], did
you know that Chivers Hartley has been the premier condiment firm in the
U.K. since 1873?"  Yes, fascinating.

Even though (from this image, at least) this
jam looks somewhat like ectoplasm (45% fruit, 55% ectoplasm?), I think we

Holiday Gift Idea #13

Marmalade is happier than potatoes, especially in expensive crystal.








Lismore® Waterford® Dish

(With Marmalade)

I’ve sort of leaked into the second
installment of Anglophile Culinary Week!  It’s just that there
are SUCH culinary depths to be plumbed from the British Isles. 

As a counterpoint to my last admittedly
gloomy Gift Idea, and
because it is Thanksgiving (not that it has all that much to do the UK,
except a few unfortunate – and significant – connections*), I suggest we be ever-so-thankful that the
Irish Potato Famine is long over, and that currently Ireland’s economy is
robust – lots of jobs available (we shan’t quibble over any long-standing
issues of religious/civil war at the moment).

So, in contrast to the depths of poverty, I
offer a some luxury from Cashs of Ireland:

  What a perfect 5" dish for a variety
of uses …jams, nuts, candies! Cashs sends it with a free 8 oz. jar of
special Irish marmalade. New gift set for Fall 2005. Postage Free.

$45 and no shipping charge!  And, if
you can, take a closer look at that marmalade; it’s made from thin-cut
Seville Oranges and has whiskey in it.  Hurrah for decadence!

About the Lismore® design:

[It is] perhaps the most famous and collected Waterford design ever
made.  Its name comes from Lis (meaning fort) and Mor
(meaning big).  Lismore
is stunningly beautiful rising on the hill along the
Blackwater River.

Marmalade and Waterford – that should make up for potato fungus and
despair, right?

*If you want to read a wee rant on the subject, please visit my
Blog entry.


Holiday Gift Idea #12






DO NOT put this on a Christmas Card.


Potato Soup

I’ve been very negligent; I needed to
spend some quality time with my Grandmother’s cat while she is out of
town.  Thus, I’m going to put desserts aside, just momentarily.

Like I said, I’m fond of

The Vermont Country Store
– it’s charm personified.  But I have
found an item that gives me pause.  In and of itself, I’m sure it’s
very tasty.  It’s just what it symbolizes in my mind.

First of all, I should explain what it is:

Traditional Irish Potato Soup, Hearty Goodness in Mere Minutes:
Recently we were treated to some of the best Irish potato soup we’ve
ever tasted. We just assumed it came from Ireland, but were pleasantly
surprised to learn that it originated a little closer to home, in Maine.
Made in a traditional Irish manner, this rich creamy soup is loaded with
chunky potatoes and finely chopped celery and onion, and boasts a
homemade flavor that will satisfy the staunchest critic. 15 oz. can.

* Stick-to-your-ribs goodness
* Just add butter, milk or cream, and heat on stove

One spoonful and you’ll agree it’s the best Irish potato soup you’ve
ever had.  3 cans for $9.90 (plus shipping)

See, it DOES sound delicious.  HOWEVER
– I can’t look at Irish Potato Soup and NOT think of the
Irish Potato
Famine (1845 – 1851)
during which an estimated million and a half
Irish people lost their lives (not to mention the hundreds and thousands
of others forced into exile) because of "The Blight."  It started as

  The Famine began quite mysteriously in
September 1845 as leaves on potato plants suddenly turned black and
curled, then rotted, seemingly the result of a fog that had wafted
across the fields of Ireland. The cause was actually an airborne fungus
(phytophthora infestans) originally transported in the holds of
ships traveling from North America to England.

Winds from southern England carried the fungus
to the countryside around Dublin. The blight spread throughout the
fields as fungal spores settled on the leaves of healthy potato plants,
multiplied and were carried in the millions by cool breezes to
surrounding plants. Under ideal moist conditions, a single infected
potato plant could infect thousands more in just a few days.

The attacked plants fermented while providing
the nourishment the fungus needed to live, emitting a nauseous stench as
they blackened and withered in front of the disbelieving eyes of Irish
peasants. There had been crop failures in the past due to weather and
other diseases, but this strange new failure was unlike anything ever
seen. Potatoes dug out of the ground at first looked edible, but
shriveled and rotted within days. The potatoes had been attacked by the
same fungus that had destroyed the plant leaves above ground.

Yes, very horrific and depressing and not festive.  Therefore, I suppose this is
my very first AVOIDANCE Holiday Gift Idea.  NO POTATO SOUP FOR THE

Happy Holidays!

Holiday Gift Idea #11

NO relation to hematology.

Clotted by monks or nuns, perhaps?

Doubly - Devon?

No hematology here either.


I find it ill-advised to couple any term
that can be used with the word "blood" when speaking of food (this
includes "blood," itself, therefore I find the idea of "blood pudding" and
"blood sausage" rather unappetizing).  Hence, "Clotted Cream" sounds
vaguely clinical to me.  But, despite its special "clotted" texture,
theoretically it is quite delicious.

Let’s see what
Old Durham Road: English Country Living
has to say:

English Clotted Cream:
  This cream completes your list
at our tea shoppe. Just the right texture and sweetness on scones, or
use with our jellies. Refrigerate after opening.  5.6oz for $8.50

That’s a slightly vague description.

has MUCH more to say – an entire "Potted History," in fact:

"Double Devon
Cream" and Clotted Cream: A potted history.
  Both Devon
and Cornwall – counties in the South West of England – are famous for
their thick cream, which is mainly produced on farms, and in small

The most famous of all is ‘Clotted Cream’ which achieves its thick
clotted texture by heating cream of high-fat breed cows, such as the
Jersey type, in pans, traditionally made of copper but latterly
stainless steel, to about 190°f and allowing it to cool slowly. In the
farmhouses, the pans were heated crudely over a fire or stove and the
cream was rich in acid and aroma-producing bacteria. Dairy or factory
methods were much better controlled, using steam heated pans. The cream
is usually packed in shallow trays a few inches deep and forms a yellow
crusty surface. The consistency is thick and heavy, almost like treacle,
and is traditionally served by scooping the cream out into cups or small

Ah – "crusty."  Another word that
doesn’t generally abode well in regards to food ("crusty" bread an
exception, I suppose).  Nonetheless,
Coombe Abbey Clotted Cream
at these rates: 5.6oz, $5.25 and "mini" 1oz, $1.35
Coombe Abbey Double Devon
goes for: 16oz, $13.80 and 5.6oz, $5.25.

Let’s find out more about "Double Devon

The Vermont Country Store
(a favorite catalog of mine – always wholly or
partially printed in black and white – very charming) says:

Two Traditional British Toppings for Scones, Crumpets, More:
With just half the calories of butter, Double Devon Cream, made from the
purest pasteurized cream, is naturally sweet but won’t overpower the
taste of fresh fruit at teatime. Clotted Cream, with 60% more cream, is
even richer. Or try either delightfully smooth spread straight from the
jar instead of whipped creams for jolly desserts. Refrigerate for 12
hours before serving. Each comes in a 5.6 oz. jar.

They sell

Somderdale Double Devon Cream

Somerdale English Clotted Cream
for $9.95 per 5.6oz jar.

The London Market

Double Devon Cream
for $6.08 and

Clotted Cream
for $6.38.  They also sell a "large" version of

Somerdale Double Devon Cream
for $12.40 (extra shipping will be
charged because this item is from the "frozen and refrigerated" section).

Both these varieties of creams are
considered perfect as a topping for – you’ll never guess –

!!!  Perhaps you remember this blurb from
Old Durham Road: English Country Living): 

Spotted Dick:
  A delicious sponge cake pudding with
raisins (spots), in a new microwavable version, just add some of our
Devon Custard or
clotted cream topping for a tasty desert or tea time
snack. 300 grams/ 10 ½ oz

You may noticed the mention of "Devon
Custard" in the description as another pudding topping.  We’ll speak
of custard (and – if I’m feeling extra ambitious – other English Dessert
puddings) in the next entry.  One can handle only so much viscous
"liquid" in one day.

Happy Clots!


Holiday Gift Idea #10

Exhausted brewers yeast - the ingredient of KINGS.

Impregnated with Marmite.

What do you expect from a penal colony population?


I admit, I’ve never tried Marmite. 
In the interest of science, I probably should (I have eaten chicken feet at a dim
sum restaurant, after all).  But I have heard British Ex-patriots
YEARN for the stuff.  What is it? 
Old Durham Road: English Country Living
tells us:

  Rich in Vitamin B and niacin, Marmite is made
from exhausted brewers yeast after the brewing process. A British staple
that is spread thinly on toast, used in sandwiches and more, it adds a
pungent kick unlike anything else. 125 grams/ 4.4 ounces

That is probably why HAVEN’T tried it. 
They’ve bottled a brownish-coloured paste made from "exhausted brewers
yeast" and suggest that it one spread it on toast.  I’m
guessing I’d prefer my toast naked. has this

is a concentrated yeast extract paste, enjoyed at any time of the day,
whether on toast for breakfast, in sandwiches at lunchtime, or as an
added ingredient in stews and casseroles.

MARMITE spread is 100% vegetarian, but unlike some vegetarian meals,
MARMITE provides an excellent source of vitamin B12. This vitamin helps
to prevent anaemia. It also contains a good source of Riboflavin and
Niacin as well as an excellent source of Folic Acid.

MARMITE is good news for the nation’s slimmers. It contains virtually no
fat or sugar. A single 4g serving amounts to only 9kcal/35kJ typical
values. MARMITE has a distinctive savory taste, unlike anything else.

It remains a popular food for all the family loved equally by the
toddler of the family through to the Grandpa.

Anything that has to make quite so much
of its vitamin and mineral content – it makes me think of motels that can only
advertise themselves as "clean."  Then again, it’s good for
the nation’s "slimmers."

is a concentrated yeast extract paste, enjoyed at
any time of the day, whether on toast for breakfast, in sandwiches at
lunchtime, or as an added ingredient in stews and casseroles.

Call me ethnocentric, but I just cannot
get over the concept of yeast as an ingredient – a means to an end
not an entr
Just the same, let’s talk price. 

Durham Road
carries the

125g jar
for $6.95. 
The London Market
carries the

125g size and the 250g size
for $4.92 and $9.49, respectively.
has the 125g jar for
$4.30, the 250g size for $9.68, and the whopping one pound (500g) jar for

Then we have Twiglets. 
I thought this was a very charming name, but then I read this in

Durham Road

  A British favourite, made of knobby wheat
sticks (like a pretzel) impregnated with marmite to give them extra bite
and flavor. 125g/ 4.4 oz

For only $4.30 (plus shipping) one might
enjoy a knobby wheat stick IMPREGNATED with Marmite.

further expounds:

Jacobs twiglets
are very unusual snacks. They’re shaped,
textured and colored like small twigs with the flavor of marmite. Oddly
addictive. Jacobs twiglets are quite crunchy.  $5.06

"Unusual snacks" that are "oddly
addictive" and "quite crunchy."  Perhaps in "polite society" this is
considered a strong recommendation.  If you chance past
The London Market
, you might ask them.  Their

are $4.50.

Now we come
to Marmite’s Australian cousin, Vegemite.

– ‘as much a part of Australia’s heritage as
Kangaroos’. Remember spread it thinnnly…. rumor has it that one 4 oz
jar is worth over 100 servings.  Vegemite dates back to 1922 a
young chemist to develop a spread from one of the richest known natural
sources of the vitamin B group – Brewers Yeast.  $4.15

Thank you ever so much, 
I find it illuminating that this product was developed by a young CHEMIST
– not CHEF – CHEMIST.  I could choose here to make a crass
remark about the "penal colony mentality," but I shan’t. 

The London Market

, too, for $3.85.  So if you are feeling… yeasty (?),
wander into
The London Market
(563 South 700 East, Salt Lake City) or order from
the aforementioned UK specialty shoppes online for a trio of items
consisting of or "impregnated with" brown goo.

Holiday Gift Idea #9

Yes, Spotted Dick comes in a can, AND it's microwaveable!














I warned you all (and it was no idle
threat): It is Anglophile Culinary Week!  While some of you may
consider that an oxymoron – I have no response to that.

We must start with something TRULY unique
and delicious.  Also, I must choose something with a really funny
name.  The obvious answer is Spotted Dick (so help me, Google).

While I’ve not partaken of this delicacy
myself (I have given it as a "tasteful" gift several times, however), I
have it on good report from AUTHENTIC BRITISH PEOPLE that it is actually
quite scrumptious.

Here’s the catalog entry that reminded me of
it (from
Old Durham Road: English Country Living): 

Spotted Dick:
  A delicious sponge cake pudding with
raisins (spots), in a new microwavable version, just add some of our
Devon Custard or clotted cream topping for a tasty desert or tea time
snack. 300 grams/ 10 ½ oz

Durham Road
sells their

Spotted Dick
for $5.75 (plus shipping).  You can also purchase it
online from
Their Spotted Dick
is $4.95 (plus shipping).

If you are lucky enough to be in the Salt
Lake City area, you can pick up some

Spotted Dick
The London Market
, 563 South 700 East (right across the street from
Trolley Square).  This is where I’ve purchased

Spotted Dick
and other delights from the UK; it’s a very charming
little shoppe (you have to use the "e" here – you just must).  You
can also get

biscuits there (they are truly YUMMY – I like the milk
chocolate ones).  Oh – and their

Spotted Dick
is only $4.09 (plus Sales Tax).  And if you are not
in the Salt Lake City area, The
London Market
sells their wares on the Internet, too –

Spotted Dick
and all.

The whole raisin=spots in

Spotted Dick
, yet spots=pimples in British vernacular is a conundrum. 
But that’s a puzzle for another time.


Spotted Dick
is NOT to be confused with "Lumpy Dick," which,
evidently, is a delicacy from Wyoming (and the proper phrase to use when
testing a lavalier microphone).  Ask
Grettir about "Lumpy Dick."

Holiday Gift Idea #8

For the person who has EVERYTHING?





















Phone Style Flask

I must preface this gift idea by saying
it renders me almost speechless (which borders on earth-shattering). Well,
it does make me say, "WHAT IN THE HELL?"

I was perusing my Mother’s MASSIVE catalog
recently and saw this item.  I KNEW I’d have to use it as one of my
gift ideas, but I could not, for the life of me, remember what catalog it
was in (and I searched and SEARCHED for it).  Gee – could it be that
there was nothing in a catalog that would carry a flask disguised
as a CELL PHONE that appealed to my Mother and that particular catalog was

I KNEW I could find it on
the Internet.  And BOY HOWDY I found it on the Internet.  There
are actually web purveyors who sell this item BY THE DOZEN so you can give
it has an "executive gift" to the whole Board of Directors.  Indeed,
encourage ALL your high-level executives to get hooched-up more often. 
Then again, while I am by no means a proponent of rampant and/or constant
inebriation, I know from experience that meetings in MOST companies would
be significantly more entertaining if at least one or two of the attendees
was a little squiffy.  Whoever takes the minutes should DEFINITELY be
three-sheets-to-the-wind; that might make them worth reading.

I chose a particular vendor (from the
frighteningly long list) for this item, not because of the price (their
price is actually rather high at $44.99 plus shipping), but because of
what ELSE they sell.  This store, called

Victoria’s House of Accessories
(amusing in and of itself), evidently
"supplies the widest selection of trendy and fashionable clothing for
women and juniors."  They also carry fragrance and skin care, home
decor items, music boxes galore, a large selection of wedding presents,
and higher-end knick-knacks, such as authentic Capodimonte
Porcelein.  Yet there, amidst the Tealight Fountain, the iPod Nano,
and the Dora the Explorer Buenas Noches Doll, is the

Cell Phone Style Flask
.  Perhaps their buyer OWNS and regularly
imbibes from the flask.  SOMEONE there is plotzed, dipso and/or
crapulous, I assure you.

Cell Phone Style Flask:
  Our unique cell phone flask is
a fun gift for that hard to buy for executive, or for the person that
has everything. The cell phone style flask comes with a black leather
case and belt clip that makes it easy to bring with you anywhere. The
flask carries 4 ounces and measures 5" from the antenna to the base. The
Stainless Steel Flask is specially designed to carry alcoholic drinks.
It should not be used for beverages with an acid content, such as fruit
juices and cordials.

Here’s the thing: I’ve seen A LOT of flasks
in Mom’s Catalog Library (and a few in real life – though I’m not naming
names).  They are already designed to be fairly low profile
(easy to slip in a pocket or a bag – very unobtrusive).  So why not
choose something lovely as well?  How about a

nice piece with a Robert Burn’s verse
on it, or several beautiful
designs of

Celtic Birds
or a

sweet Irish Proverb
.  NOOOOOO – let’s have a flask that looks
EXACTLY LIKE A CELL PHONE.  The fact that cell phones are ubiquitous
these days and folks might find it a wee bit odd that you carry TWO phones
– no problem.  And they won’t think it at all suspicious when they
spy you tippling from the a CELL PHONE ANTENNA, nor will they think it’s
peculiar when they see you try to drink from your actual cell phone

Holiday Gift Idea #7

Jade rearing back horse.  Hah - they said 'rearing'.

This one isn't rearing.

This is no 'My Pretty Pony.'

I don't know about green horses...

This one is ANCIENT.

It's all inside, you know.

A lamp AND a horse - it's a twofer.


Let me dispel any confusion – this is NOT
a horse constructed of
Orange-Flavored Drink Mix
(the drink mix that went to OUTER SPACE). 
Rather, a "Tang Horse" is an artifact constructed during China’s Tang
Dynasty (618-907 AD) or a replica of such an artifact.  I should also
add that I cannot establish any connection between
Orange-Flavored Drink Mix
and China’s Tang Dynasty.  Go figure. 

Moreover, I didn’t take the time to locate
any bona fide Tang Dynasty horses, as I presume they’d be prohibitively
expensive.  So we’ll start with a replica that is, itself, an

Chinese Carved Jade Tang Horse:

It’s only $799 USD (plus $20 shipping). 
Wow – that sounds like a lot.  One could think of it this way: 
It’s only 301.023 Bahraini Dinar, 308.414 Omani Rial, or 474.326 Latvian
Lats.  That, at least, SOUNDS better.  Perhaps the non-antique
route is a better choice.

Here’s a lovely item from The
Museum Shop of The Art Institute of Chicago

Tang Horse:
  Typical of the ceramic styles that
developed during China’s Tang dynasty (618–907), this terra cotta horse
is produced from a two-piece cast-plaster mold. Faithful to traditional
techniques, the clay is fired and handpainted for the look of true
antiquity. Due to the handcrafted nature of this sculpture, no two are
alike and the finish will vary. Artwork from the Tang dynasty can be
found in our Department of Asian Art. 12" x 12", 3" x 6" base. This
item cannot be gift boxed.

Only $65 (plus shipping)!  Wait – it
cannot be gift boxed.  I think if you drop more than $50 on any
holiday present they should be able to gift box the damn thing.

The Smithsonian Catalogue has TWO options,
the first is $95 (plus shipping) and the second $150 (plus shipping) or
$85.50 (plus shipping) and $135 (plus shipping) if you are a Museum

Majestic Tang Dynasty Horse:
  This stunning ceramic
statue is hand painted in a mottled lapis hue. Lightly distressed to
replicate the look of an 8th century find, it will take pride of place
on mantel or étagère. 13 3/4"h. x 13 1/2"w. x 5 1/2"d. The Majestic Tang
Dynasty Horse is Evocative of Tang dynasty funerary equine sculptures
included in the Asian ethnological collections, National Museum of
Natural History.

Tang Horse:
  Our Tang Horse brings a regal, dignified
touch to a mantel or shelf. Cast in brass and finished in a verdigris
patina. 9 1/2"h. x 11 1/2"w. Our stately steed displays intricately
carved Chinese characters and evokes sculptures in the Asian
ethnological collections of our National Museum of Natural History.

I see.  NO gift wrap for the "Majestic
Tang Dynasty Horse
" but it is available for the "Tang
."  Art Schmart – I say.  Let’s get more "bang"
for our buck.  "Bang" rhymes with "Tang," after

Let’s try
Design Toscano
They have such a unique mix of "Historical Replicas" contrasted with

the "crowned
seductress" – 

©"The Dragon Priestess of Moldar" Sculpture
, and the "©
No Pausing Pooch

Ancient Tang Horse:
(c. 700 AD) Artist unknown. Foundry
cast iron atop a solid marble base.
Cast directly from an original
Chinese antique, our Tang Horse is a museum quality work that echoes
ancient dynasties. The most beloved of animals in Chinese art, this fine
work is foundry cast iron with an aged patina to be virtually
indistinguishable from a bronze. Capturing each symbolic detail of the
muscular steed and his trappings, it is mounted atop a solid marble base
for proud display in any collection.

$49.95 (plus shipping) AND it’s a DesignToscano.gif “Design Toscano

A replica crafted by our own artisans
available only from us. We are proud of the large number of objects that
bear this symbol of exclusivity.DesignToscano.gif

Wow – a "symbol of exclusivity." If you
peruse through this catalog, you might be tempted to think that some of
the items are, perhaps, vulgar, unauthentic, and wholly naked – and some
rude AND nude (i.e.

The ©“Picc-a-Dilly” Gargoyles
– "They have all the worst habits." 
This IS somewhat subjective: it all depends on whether or no you think
bum-picking is boorish).  I need to point out the
Design Toscano
carries truly impressive items, such as:

I, personally, have always been fascinated
with canopic jars, and they provide such nice storage for all your spare
organs.  Also, wee Stonehenge – that’s just splendid!  It’s much
better than the Stonehenge in
Spinal Tap; it is an
"accurately scaled archeological model."

Wait – I have located the ideal Tang Horse
gifts!  Good ol’
JCPenney Catalog

Ancient Tang Horse Replica – Closeout!
  A fortuitous
mingling of past and present: our stone-finished resin horse is a
beautifully detailed replica of an ancient Asian relic. 13×11-3/8"H.

Tang Horse Table Lamp:
Stone-finish resin table lamp in a
Chinese horse design. 29" H. 17×14" rectangular polyester shade is
charcoal with gold-tone leaves. 3-way switch. Uses one 100W bulb, max.
(not included). Wattage stated is maximum recommended. Lower wattage
bulbs may be used. Imported from China.

The Horse Replica was $79, but it is now a
mere $29 (plus shipping).  The Tang Horse Table Lamp (an ingenious
blend of aesthetic beauty and practical function, I must say) was $129. 
It is on sale for only $64.50 (plus shipping).  AND they offer expert
gift wrapping service.  Utter perfection!

Now the burning question: Why Tang Horses? 
The Brady Bunch,
naturally.  I saw one of the Tang Horse replicas in a catalog and had
a vague memory of a REAL Tang Dynasty Horse as an essential plot point on
The Brady Bunch
Upon investigation, it turns out that I was right, but the plot came from
A Very Brady Sequel,
not the original series.  Oh well.  That means I have
unwittingly admitted to seeing
A Very Brady Sequel
At least I know a Tang Dynasty Horse when I see one.  Here’s a brief
plot summary
of the film:   

A man claiming to be Carol Brady’s long-lost first husband, Roy
Martin, shows up at the suburban Brady residence one evening. An
impostor, the man is actually determined to steal the Bradys’ familiar
horse statue, a $20-million ancient Asian artifact.

Holiday Gift Idea #6

I'm in love with Yukon Cornelius.

Did YOU know that the Abominable Snowman's name was 'Bumble'?

Cheese Board (w/ Hand Spreaders)

It seems that this year is the 40th
Anniversary of the classic claymation
Rudolph the Red-Nosed
  Wait –
made in 1964 – the 40th Anniversary was LAST YEAR! 
Perhaps catalogs are not dependable research sources.  I was about to
tell my parents that they shared the year of their

Fortieth Wedding Anniversary
Rudolph the Red-Nosed
.  That was a close call.

Oh – wait – they DO acknowledge the correct
release date of the TV special.  It’s just that they (What
On Earth: A Collection of Fun Wear & Delightful Diversions
) still

40th Anniversary Animated Plush Dolls


Anniversary Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Animated Plush Dolls:

 Each of
these classic characters walks, rolls, or moves,

and of course Rudolph’s red nose glows. Heights range
from 13" Rudolph to 161/2" Yukon Cornelius; each plays a different tune
from the 1964 television classic. Each requires three AA batteries (not

Very festive, I must say (except that the
Hermey the Elf doll plays We Are Santa’s Elves, and I thought he
had lovely ballad in which he explains that he wants to be a dentist, which
I would deign the far superior choice.  Perhaps I am mistaken).

What On Earth has a
selection of other Rudolph wares, but it was, in fact, one particular
item that caught my eye.  And why?  CHEESE, naturally!!!

Bumble Cheese Board With Hand Spreaders:
  We all knew
that Bumbles sink and bounce, but nobody told us they’d make great
conversation pieces on a buffet. This festive cheese board comes with a
fabulous detail: spreaders for soft cheeses or dips with blue hands as
handles. Ceramic and stainless steel. 121/4" x 71/4"; spreaders are 2

I admit, it’s a touch macabre that one must
dismember Bumble in order to use the "spreaders."  However, he IS the
Abominable Snowman and has large frightening teeth (until Hermey performs
dental work on him) and he roars in a mean way and such.  Quite
possibly this is the logical consequence of being so abominable.

Holiday Gift Idea #5

Got your Goose?

I've always wanted a goose dressed as Uncle Sam; I'm patriotic that way.

Ah - a raincoat and hat.  That must be because geese HATE WATER.

The 'Schoolgirl' outfit really makes this set.

EVERY goose needs a coconut bra.

The Goose of Spring.

Perhaps 'I Shall wear purple...' is getting out of hand.

I'm honking 'Pomp and Circumstance' at this very moment.

A Goose
For All Seasons

Evidently, the resin dress-up goose is
the pièce de résistance of holiday gifts. Terry’s Village offers this rationale:

You’re never too old to play
dress up with a resin goose!

There seems to be at least selective
encouragement for this
reasoning, as identical or similar items are offered in a number of other
catalogs.  I, however, will stick with the selection of Geese and
Geese accoutrements in
Terry’s Village, as they seem to have the most
comprehensive collection. 

In the first place, you must get the
goose, reasonably priced at $19.95 and shipping (never shown "starkers," I should point out – what are they hiding?):

Resin Standing Goose:
  Both the young and
young-at-heart will enjoy playing dress up with this resin goose. 17
1/2"H x 16 1/2"L.

Now, you have a choice of various
"wardrobes" for your goose at $9.95 (and shipping) per set:

Seasonal Goose Clothing:
Each seasonal wardrobe includes
four two-piece outfits. Bunny, Uncle Sam, witch and Santa.

Seasonal Goose Clothing Set #2:
  Seasonal wardrobe
includes four two-piece outfits. Hat and scarf, raincoat, turkey and
leprechaun. Goose sold separately.

Seasonal Goose Clothing Set #3:
Each seasonal wardrobe includes four two-piece outfits. Wardrobe #3:
cowboy, flower, cupid and schoolgirl.

Seasonal Goose Clothing Set #4:
  Both the young and
young-at-heart will enjoy playing dress up with this resin goose. Each
seasonal wardrobe includes four two-piece outfits. Wardrobe includes:
tutu, hawaiian, strawberry, and ladybug.

But WAIT!  There is a money saving
offer that one should NOT ignore:

Goose With Four Season Wardrobe:
  Each seasonal
wardrobe includes four two-piece outfits.  Goose made of resin, 17
1/2"H x 16 1/2"W. This set includes the goose and four wardrobes (16

Indeed, "Buy the set and save!"  The

Goose With Four Season Wardrobe
(a $59.75 value) is yours for $49.95
(plus shipping)! 

OR you could opt for the

Goose with the classic Seasonal Clothes
for $29.95 (plus shipping),
which really doesn’t save much dough.  Maybe it saves on shipping

Resin Standing Goose with Seasonal Clothes:
Both the young
and young-at-heart will enjoy playing dress up with this resin goose.
This fashionable bird’s seasonal wardrobe includes four two-piece
outfits (bunny, Uncle Sam, witch and Santa). 17 1/2”H x 16 1/2”L.

Looking ahead, you might consider the

Spring Goose with Four Wardrobes
for $49.95 (plus shipping).  You
can also have the

Spring Goose Wardrobe
(Seasonal Clothing Set #5) for $9.95 (plus
shipping).  Sorry, no pictures available.

Of course, there’s always the "new" classic

Goose with Red and Wild Costume
for $24.95 (plus shipping):

Goose With Red & Wild Costume:
  When friends flock
together to kick up their heels, dress up our goose in a purple boa and
red hat accented with a red satin purse! 17 1/2"H x 16 1/2"W.

You can have the

Red & Wild Goose Costume
(sans Goose) for a mere $7.95 (plus

A present for all seasons, the

Goose with Graduation Costume
set is $24.95 (plus shipping):

Goose with Graduation Costume:
  What are the smartest
geese wearing this spring? A cap, a gown and a diploma of course. All
sized to fit our resin goose.

For $7.95 (plus
shipping) you can purchase the

Graduation Costume
, complete with tiny mortarboard.

By the way, if you were (as I was) sorely
disappointed that

Seasonal Goose Clothing Set #3
did NOT include pictures of all
the included ensembles, rest at ease.

I scanned the

Goose with Four Seasons Wardrobe
image from the

Terry’s Village
catalog.  Now you can see the beloved goose
surrounded by all SIXTEEN sets from

Wardrobe #1

Wardrobe #4

Just click on
the thumbnail-sized picture below and your can see the Goose in all its


You're never too old to play dress up with this resin goose!


Lastly, you must not forget this crucial

You’re never too old to play
dress up with a resin goose!

Holiday Gift Idea #4

Is it a blouse?  NO!  It's a Dicky!

Is it a cleverly-ornamented turtleneck?  NO!  It's a Dicky!

Is it blouse with a tastefully crocheted collar?  No!  It's a Dicky!

Is it a mock turtleneck?  No!  It's a Dicky!

Is it a blouse with a classy lace collar?  No!  It's a Dicky!

Is it a stylish crossover shirt?  No!  It's a Dicky!

Is it an Easter turtleneck?  No!  It's a Dicky!

Is this a precious ruffled shirt?  No!  It's a Dicky!

Is it a fashionable Holiday shirt decorated with wee poinsettias?  No!  It's a Dicky!

Is this a festive Irish Sweatshirt with a shamrock-bedecked mock turtleneck underneath?  No!  It's  Dicky!

Is this an exotic lace-encrusted blouse?  No!  It's a Dicky!

Is this a beautiful Holiday mock turtleneck?  HELL NO!  It's a Dicky!


The Dicky:
A Classic

As I’ve said before, it’s nice to know
that some things just never change.  For confirmation of that fact,
peruse the Miles
catalog, which, I just noticed, "Has been part of your life for 70
years (1935-2005)."  And you never even told me.  They have ALL
the classic doo-dads, tchotchkes and kitschy (but USEFUL, mostly) items in
categories from "Kids Korner" to "Kimball Klearance" that
one could envisage.  For instance, thirteen varieties of miniature
tea sets, scads of address labels, collectable thimbles AND two different thimble display cabinets,
sweatshirts festooned with kittens, snowmen, puppies, etc., personalized
items galore (particularly the ubiquitous personalized pencil),
toilet paper covers and caddies, toilet PLUNGER covers, kitchen "klassics"
from gravy boats and lace doilies to an olive spoon and a French style
bean cutter  – I could go on forever. They even carry The Farmer’s

I, however, have chosen to concentrate on
just one
particular item – practical AND aesthetically pleasing – that I, in my
lifetime, have owned and used (this dates me – OH how it dates me). 
This item is the "Dicky."  If you are very young, or, for that
matter, male, you may not be acquainted with the "Dicky."  And what
IS a "Dicky?"  Is it a shirt?  NO – it is not!  But
one may very easily be fooled into thinking that this is the case.  A "Dicky,"
which one wears under a sweater, sweatshirt or blazer, is the shirt that
ISN’T a shirt.  This clever article is the just the collar
portion of a shirt (with a "bibbed" front and back for stability and
modesty).  Do you want just your neck to be warmer?  Wear a "Dicky." 
Do you want to hide your décolletage without the added warmth of an entire
undershirt?  Wear a "Dicky."  Do you want to add a festive touch
to your kitten sweatshirt collection without firing up the ill effects of
your turtleneck phobia?  Wear a "Dicky."  

In this month’s
Miles Kimball printed catalog they only
had TWO "Dicky" choices (more than many reputable purveyors of fashionable
goods, but still, not enough variety to construct an entire "Dicky"
augmented wardrobe).  Online, however, they offers
TWELVE "Dicky" selections.  In essence, I find, they’ve facilitated
the opportunity for one to own (or give as gifts) the "Twelve Dickies of

On the FIRST Day of Christmas, impress your
true love with:

Blouse Style Dicky:
Comfortable, tailored accessory adds a
finishing touch to sweaters, jackets, or blazers. In colors to suit any
wardrob. 65% cotton/35% poly dicky has three-button closure. One size.
8" from the top button to the bottom, 13" across. Imported.

On the SECOND Day of Christmas, amaze your
true love with:

Elusive Dicky: I found and downloaded this picture of
these decorative "turtleneck" Dickies just a few days ago.  Today,
however, I cannot find them ANYWHERE on the
Miles Kimball
website.  If you can find them – notice that you have a choice of a
lovely winter snowflake and the oh-so-cute "red hat" – you ARE the

On the THIRD Day of Christmas, enchant your true love with:

Crocheted Lace Dicky:
Give your wardrobe a crisp, new look!
White lace dicky adds a soft, feminine touch to sweaters and blazers.
Easy care, machine washable, 100% cotton with crocheted lace trim.
Bibbed front and back are cut generously for extra comfort. Imported.

On the FOURTH Day of Christmas, charm
your true love with:

Mock Turtleneck Dicky:
  Never out of style, always
comfortable, and it looks great with about everything. Plain mock
turtleneck dicky, in colors to suit any wardrobe. Machine washable 50/50
cotton, polyester. Bibbed front and back, 12"L, 14 1/4" across. One
size. USA made.

On the FIFTH Day of Christmas, titillate
your true love with:

Lace Collar Dicky:
Add a feminine touch to any outfit
without the bulk of an added layer. Detailed in fine cut-work lace, this
wardrobe essential features three-button closure, so it slips on easily.
Machine washable, 35% cotton/65% polyester. 13"L x 11 1/2"W; one size.
Imported. White – no longer available.

On the SIXTH Day of Christmas, gratify your
true love with:

Cross Over Dicky:
  Enjoy the finished look of layering,
without the extra warmth. Lightweight knit, attractive crossover
styling. Bibbed front and back for tucking. 50/50 cotton/poly blend,
machine wash/dry, one size fits most. Made in USA. 9 1/2" x 1 x 14"W.

On the SEVENTH Day of Christmas, completely
bewilder your true love with:

Easter Dicky:
  Add Easter style to any sweatshirt,
sweater or blouse, without adding extra warmth. Choose from three
beautifully embroidered collar patterns: a cross with red lily, painted
eggs with "Happy Easter", or the Easter bunny. Mock turtleneck collar,
50% cotton, 50% polyester machine wash. One size fits most. Made in USA.

On the EIGHTH Day of Christmas, delight your
true love with:

Ruffled Edge Turtleneck Dicky:
Jackets, shirts, and sweaters
will look even better when you add this fashionable 50/50 cotton/poly
knit dicky. Comfortably cut, one size dicky has a long length to tuck
in. Stylish, feminine ruffled edge. US made. Machine wash/dry.

On the NINTH Day of Christmas,
astound your true love with:

Poinsettia Collar Dicky:
Embellished with pretty poinsettias
in red or green, our button-down dicky gives the stylish look of a polo
shirt beneath cardigans or pullovers. Adds comfort, too, with easy-on,
easy-off three-button front. Soft cotton/poly knit; machine wash, tumble
dry low. 15"L x 13 1/2"W. Made in USA.

On the TENTH Day of Christmas, entertain your true love with:

Irish Sweatshirt and Dicky:
  They’ll be no doubting you
love Ireland when you wear this Irish Sweatshirt and matching dicky.
Puff letters say "Irish" under a large gold-edged shamrock on this
medium-weight, long sleeved sweatshirt. Coordinating white mock
turtleneck dicky is filled with shamrocks. Both 50/50 cotton/poly,
machine wash, made in USA and imported.

On the ELEVENTH Day of Christmas,
seduce your true love with:

Venise Lace Collar Dicky:
  This crisp white lace dicky
gives a beautiful new look to your V neck and jewel neck sweaters
without the excess warmth of a blouse. Front and back bibs are
generously cut to stay put. Easy care, machine wash poly/cotton blend.

On the TWELFTH Day of Christmas,
utterly THRILL your true love with:

Holiday Turtleneck Dickies:
  Embroidered with a
single festive embellishment, our dickies add subtle holiday style to
anything you wear! They also add warmth and soft comfort beneath
cardigans, shirts, pullover sweaters, and knits. 50% cotton/50%
polyester interlock knit; machine wash. 20"L x 18"W. Made in USA.

Of course, if you are wholly overwhelmed by
this vast Dicky selection, or you want a suitable gift for a man (who
isn’t a cross-dresser), you could always opt for the

British Hot Water Bottle
at $8.99 (plus shipping).  Who wouldn’t
be pleased with that?

Holiday Gift Idea #3

No pony for YOU!

Bejeweled Minnie, Daisy and Donald PEZ® dispensers wait around for Mickey.

Grand Victorian Mansion

Junior Off-Roader

This ain't no WalMart Gift Card


for YOU

A month or so ago we received the
FAO Schwarz pre-holiday catalog. 
There, on the very first page, was the answer to the dreams of young girls
and boys of generations past and future: a REAL LIVE PONY.  I’m not
kidding.  For a measly $15,000 a REAL LIVE miniature pony would be
delivered to your door!  For your chunk o’ change you also received a
visit from someone who would give you care instructions and preliminary
riding lessons.  One unfortunate thing was that they recommended that
the miniature pony not be ridden by anyone over fifty pounds.  The
dreams of older children – instantly CRUSHED.

It turns out that the dreams of children of
ALL ages were to be trampled upon.  My Mom had recycled the
pre-holiday catalog (we’re all too fat for the pony), so I was trying to
find it on their online site
I could NOT find the REAL LIVE PONY – a $6,000 hand-carved rocking horse,
yes – REAL LIVE miniature pony, no.  I did some web research and soon
found the problem (though I admit FAO
and pretty much everyone on the web seems to want to keep
fairly low-key about this whole thing).  It turns out that
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of
wrote to FAO Schwartz
to voice their concerns and asked that the Holiday Catalog exclude the
pony.  And the Mighty Toy Giant acquiesced to the request:

Schwarz Acknowledges That Ponies Aren’t Toys

After learning that toy giant FAO Schwarz was offering a miniature pony
for $15,000 in its print and online catalogs, we wrote to the company to
voice our concerns and ask that the pony be pulled from the catalog. We
confirmed with management that the pony offer has been permanently

Never fear,
FAO Schwarz has plenty
of items guaranteed to please any little spoiled brats for at least
five minutes. 
Just peruse the "Luxury Gifts" section.  Here’s a good example
(though the price is almost chump change compared the the prices of the
other "luxury" items at a trifling $175 per piece – Mickey,
Minnie, Donald and Daisy are all immortalized in plastic and Swarovski®

Swarovski® Crystal Pez Dispensers: 
Individually handcrafted by the artisans at Katherine Baumann of Beverly
Hills, these Pez® dispensers feature America’s most famous cartoon
characters, immortalized in Swarovski crystal. Each is paired with its
own keepsake suede pouch and measures approximately 5" H x 2" L x 1" W. 
This product recommended for 8 yrs and above.  This product can be
shipped internationally.

Bejeweled dispensers for the discerning
eight-year-old candy aficionado – the World has been waiting for this.

Next, I was interested to see the
collection of ten different "Lilliput Play Houses."  The "Grand
Victorian Mansion," which costs $18,900 (not counting landscaping and
over-dressed children pictured here – I believe that little boy is wearing
"short pants" with his knee socks), comes in your choice of white,
lavender and light green.

Grand Victorian Mansion: 
This enchanting play home is straight out of a fairy tale. The
outside is picture perfect, including a wraparound porch, a stained
glass window, window boxes, a skylight, and doorbell and brass
doorknocker. The interior is decorated with a bay window with window
seat, sponge-painted walls, simulated hardwood floors, fireplace mantel
and an upstairs loft accessed by a ladder. This Victorian is truly grand
indeed. Assembly required.  This product recommended for 3 yrs – 8

Call 1-800-426-8697 to discuss the details of this special purchase with
a Personal Shopper.

Sorry, this product cannot be shipped outside of the United States. 
This product can only be shipped via ground.  Sorry this product
cannot be gift wrapped.

The "Fantastic
Transportation" section offers battery and GAS powered vehicles for the
discerning child on the go.  Take, for instance, the "Junior Off-Roader
Ride-on Car (Gas Powered" for $30,000 in your choice of yellow, black,
red, white and green.

Junior Off-Roader Ride-on Car
(Gas Powered):
  Driving the gasoline-powered Junior Off-Roader
is a perfect way to acquire early experience at the wheel. The Off-Roader
features an all-weather fiberglass body with a protective frame,
rack-and-pinion steering, dual hydraulic disk brakes, a manual emergency
brake, rubber tires, and full front and rear suspension. The vehicle
comes equipped with a a three-speed transmission, and tops out at 30
mph. It also has a removable, fully functional radio and tape deck, and
speakers on the side doors. Your young driver will be comfortable
cruising around in the adjustable upholstered leather seats.  This
product recommended for 7 yrs – 15 yrs.

Sorry, this product cannot be shipped outside of the United States. 
This product can only be shipped via ground.  Sorry this product
cannot be gift wrapped.

Again, NO GIFT
WRAP!  At least one needn’t assemble this item AND it has leather

Junior Off-Roader Ride-on Car
(Gas Powered):
  Driving the gasoline-powered Junior Off-Roader
is a perfect way to acquire early experience at the wheel. The Off-Roader
features an all-weather fiberglass body with a protective frame,
rack-and-pinion steering, dual hydraulic disk brakes, a manual emergency
brake, rubber tires, and full front and rear suspension. The vehicle
comes equipped with a a three-speed transmission, and tops out at 30
mph. It also has a removable, fully functional radio and tape deck, and
speakers on the side doors. Your young driver will be comfortable
cruising around in the adjustable upholstered leather seats.  This
product recommended for 7 yrs – 15 yrs.

Sorry, this product cannot be shipped outside of the United States. 
This product can only be shipped via ground.  Sorry this product
cannot be gift wrapped.

If you’re having
difficulty deciding on just the right thing for your snot-nosed little
monster (particularly if they hurl all their expensive presents back at
you and say, "I wanted a PONY!), and you just don’t have room for the
$250,000 "Dance-on Piano" – yes, just like the one in the store, now
available for YOU OWN HOME – just opt for a "Signature Gift Card" in your
choice of $50,000 or $100,000 denominations.

Signature Gift Cards: 
For a truly special FAO Schwarz experience, consider our Signature Gift
Cards, available in values of fifty thousand dollars and one hundred
thousand dollars.  As a recipient of a Signature Gift Card you will
be entitled to receive many special benefits, including:

  • On your first visit after receiving a Signature Gift Card, you will be
    transported to and from the store in a chauffeured limousine.
  • Our concierge will introduce you to your very own Personal Shopper who
    will assist you during your visit.
  • You will be registered with a "House Account" in your name, which will
    enable you to shop freely throughout the store.
  • If you wish you may make an appointment to experience private shopping
  • You will be escorted by one of our Toy Soldiers on a guided tour of the
  • You will be able to sample all the games in our Rec Room and ride our
    aviation-caliber Motion Simulator.
  • You will be treated to a tasting of the extraordinary desserts at FAO
  • To commemorate your day, you will receive a photo album capturing the
    highlights of your visit.

I think it’s the Toy Soldier escort that
really sells it (bless those poor out-of-work New York actors).  And
the way I see it, you could purchase the Victorian Mansion AND the Off-Roader
with b
bucks to spare, PLUS
you get dessert,
a Toy Soldier escort, a Personal Shopper, a limousine, a photo album, AND
you could request "private shopping hours" at 4:00 a.m. just to be

I believe that next holiday season
FAO Schwartz is offering up small countries to the dictatorship of one’s truly spoiled
children for a paltry $1,000,000.  For an extra $25,000 they can
re-name it ("Welcome to Tiffany Super Fairy Land!"). 

Holiday Gift Idea #2

Freudian SLIPpers

Psychologist Finger Puppets

What would Elmo think?



While perusing the
catalog the other day I found the "Freudian Slips," consisting of:
Freudian Slippers ($24):

Need a Shrink?
Who couldn’t use a bit of good old Freudian analysis? Or at least
some good old Freudian slippers! Walk in the master’s footsteps with
these plush, comfy slippers, or just lounge on the couch and talk about
your childhood. Psychological exam not included.

Psychologist Finger Puppets ($20):

Analyze This!
Go nuts with this wacky pack of puppets! You get Freud (the father of psychoanalysis), his daughter Anna Freud (a noted child therapist in Britain), Carl Jung (king of the collective unconscious ) and a red chaise longue
[lounge] so the shrinks can take turns shrinking each other. You and your friends can debate psychological theory, reenact the friendship and breakup of Freud and Jung, and just turn psychoanalytical theory on its head! The box converts to a puppet theater.

Too cool!  Cheap therapy, warm
feet AND puppet theatre!  The perfect gift for ANYONE! 

Then I noticed an intriguing note that I
should "see website" for an item called "Tickle Me Freud"
($20).  That was just too good to ignore.  Let’s see:  

Laugh Therapy. Tickle Freud and he lets his suppressed laughter burst out in a giant Freudian slip of hilarity. In fact his whole body has been known to shake in the throes of scarcely controllable laughter. A little psychoanalysis will reveal that he is particularly ticklish toward his feet. Imported.

Tra la, what fun.  I figure that for a mere $64 (plus shipping) you can conduct
your own therapy for a LIFETIME.  What a bargain!  Then again,
"Tickle Me Freud" LAUGHS HYSTERICALLY at everything.  I think this
might be a little demeaning in the course of therapy.  No one wants
to pay good money just to be RIDICULED.  That makes me sad. 
Maybe the "Freudian Slips" for $44 (plus shipping) are a better option. 
And there are always other alternatives, too.

The Christmas before last I received a
"Sigmund Freud Nodder" like
this one (bless you,
Bronwen).  How utterly comforting!  Now matter what you asked
him or told him he just nodded in sympathetic agreement.  I’m telling
you, inexpensive therapy (as such) should not be casually dismissed. 

In fact, get
this plush collection of "toys" (sans "Tickle Me Freud, if you
like), and add a tape recording that asks, "And how
does (did) that make you feel?" at regular intervals and one would be set
for life-long sound mental health!

Perhaps the fact that my shrink won’t return
my phones calls prejudices me the tiniest bit towards "alternative"
methods of therapy.  I need to locate my "Sigmund Freud Nodder" so
that I can ask it him just how rejected one should feel when one is
ignored (at least seemingly) by one’s own therapist.  I could
really use the sympathy. 

Wait!  I
also own

Therapist In A Box
.  Coupled with my

Mini Zen Gardening Kit
and my

Mini Water Garden Kit.
  I am set.  I just need to
avoid the idea of a "soothing"

at-home pedicure

Holiday Gift Idea #1

Pee-pee Teepees for the sprinkling wee-wee.












"Pee-pee Teepees for the sprinkling
wee-wee."  Yes indeed, for a mere $14 and
shipping, you can purchase small cotton tents for your male child’s
genitalia (machine washable, of course) from
.  Mind you, there are some items in this catalog that I
think are lovely and some that I find amusing and so on.  However, I
think that if you purchase these for your infant boy that you GUARANTEE a
significant amount of therapy for him later in life.  "Yes, I had to
wear pee-pee teepees for my wee-wee; it was so HUMILIATING." 
(Body-wracking sobs follow.)  Let’s see what the catalog has to say:

Why is it
that the act of diaper changing always seems to inspire an extra
"contribution" from the little one? Parents of baby boys have been
particularly vulnerable – until now. Just place a pee-pee teepee on his
wee-wee during diaper changes, and the hazard is averted. An ideal baby
shower gift, the five powder blue 100% cotton pee-pee teepees are
decorated with airplanes and arrive in a miniature cotton laundry bag.
Made in Canada.

No Kidding. 
I guess it never occurred to Canadian parents (don’t get me wrong – I LOVE
Canada, but these are a Kanuck creation) to cover the little one’s
"watering hose" with – say – a diaper wipe.  I have two younger
brothers and three nephews (and I did a significant amount of babysitting
of neighbor kids when I was young) and I don’t EVER recall being at a loss
for SOMETHING with which to cover a wee baby’s penis (Yup – I said,
"PENIS").  I never mused wistfully, "Alas, if only I had some
itsy-bitsy tents with which to cover this baby’s ‘sprinkling wee-wee’." 
In fact, all tents aside, I’d have been LOATH to say something as insipid
as "sprinkling wee-wee."  I’d have died first.  Now, I must
admit, you do have to think ahead and do the "quick cover" or the even
trickier "super-fast new diaper slide" when changing a little boy. 
Yes, if you forget, you get urinated on.  Leif was only about a half
an hour old when he surprised my friend and I by wetting us thoroughly
because we were not sufficiently quick to cover him.  And why


Cheese Wisdom

People who know nothing about cheeses reel away from Camembert, Roquefort, and Stilton because the plebeian proboscis is not equipped to differentiate between the sordid and the sublime.Harvey Day



In Memorium