Monday, November 30, 2009

Get in the spirit: It’s OK to shop now
As promised, here is Stocking Stuffer Report Part II, offering goodies to lift your spirits this holiday season:

Organize your shopping strategy
I may be weird to think the gift of organization is cool, but I’m excited about what’s up with Expo, the dry erase board leaders. Our staff is currently writing inspirational quotes on our board and some go through the trouble to draw a little image. I’ve stumbled into Expo click, a retractable version of the popular pen with low odor. I confess, I kind of liked the odor, but sensitive people should really be able to tell the difference. I like the starter kit with markers, a bottle of cleaner and an eraser. Think teacher gifts. With a pack like this, you’re ready to get the word out.

Pop fun
My current calorie-counting strategy for the holidays is to eat anything offered to me at parties, and eat popcorn every night. I could do that a long time, really. Walmart is offering $15 appliances designed to be hostess gifts, buy you may want to check out the slider grill, George Forman Quesadilla Maker or Mr. Coffee Cocomotion hot chocolate machine for yourself. I’m in love with the Presto Air Popper that is so powerful you must be warned to keep children away and avoid metal bowls that could burn you from the piping hot corn. I’d been making do with an ancient air popper, and find this one has a butter melter on top (oh, joy!). My variations have included olive oil, coconut oil and palm sugar and Chick Magnet Southwest Chicken Rub from Denny Mike’s BahBQue Made in Maine line. DennyMike also has a pungent slatherin’ sauce that comes in a flask-shaped bottle, which actually does fit in a stocking.

Cup double take
Seeing is not believing when it comes to the new Eco Cup. DCI makes I am Not a Paper Cup, an earth-friendly insulated travel mug that looks like what it proclaims not to be. The white porcelain cup with a silicone lid looks like a coffee house paper disposable. When you go to pick it up, it’s heavy. This makes people smile. It reminds me of a movie I saw about a bagel paperweight. I have the new DCI Eco Cup that has a brown band around the mug. It looks even more real, but you can help the earth using it again and again, while you get curious inquiries.

Reindeer udder?
A cow is on Dr. Hess Udder Ointment labels, but perhaps Santa’s reindeer could also get relief from chapped skin with this product that has been around about 100 years. When the company discontinued it, they found farmers and fans, who used the balm on their hands, wouldn’t let them stop, so now Dr. Hess has released a Baby Butts label for diaper rash. This past year Udder Sticks became available for on-the-go healing. Soldiers in Iraq are using it for dry skin and chapped lips and it’s also good for winter cuticle protection. Chemotherapy patients are also getting Dr. Hess’ relief. Over the years makers have added vitamin E and jojoba oil. This product goes on thick and has a bit of a grandma smell, but that’s comfort balm like you want working on you this winter.

“Return to Sawyerton Springs”
By Andy Andrews
I do seem to recall hearing Andy Andrews as a comic. Now I associate him with good, old-fashioned Americana, and that is a compliment in these troubled times. This book features tales from his Alabama childhood, with anecdotes about the time he asked his pastor father to borrow the car. Dad said he could, when he got a haircut. Andy reminded him that Jesus had long hair, and pops reminded his son that Jesus walked everywhere.
Andrews also as authored “The Traveler’s Gift” and “The Noticer,” which remind readers to shift perspective on what’s important in life.

Juan and the Jackalope
By Rudolfo Anaya, illustrated by Amy Cordova
What would a hero do to get rhubarb pie with frijoles and ice cream? The author based his race tale on stories from his uncle Juan in New Mexico, but the story takes a Texas turn. If you’ve heard any Mexican folklore, you’ll love this modern take on La Llorona, Kookooee and others. It starts off with a gathering of the children: “I’ll tell you a tale. You can read it now or check your e-mail.”

Senior yoga
I’m in awe of the fit senior citizens at the Port Arthur YMCA and admire their willingness to work to stay flexible and fit.
Seniors just starting out an exercise plan at home can use chairs for stability in Peggy Cappy’s CD “Yoga for the Rest of Us.”
It’s not that I ever did laugh at yoga, but I sure won’t now that I’ve tried “Yoga for the Rest of Us: Heart Healthy Yoga.” Sure it’s slow and steady, but if you do it right you can even feel a good, deep breath. She goes through the poses real slow like, so you can keep the pace. I’m not bendy enough for some of them, but I can tell that I could be, with just a tad of Cappy’s motivation. It’s simple stuff, and I enjoyed interviews at the end with students sharing the good energy and mobility they gained from yoga.

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