Month: December 2016

The Season of Giving In

I’m just going to come out and say it: I am not doing well. I am spent. I am drained. And now we are entering the season of giving? Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I am tapped out. I’m a mom of two boys, two and four years old. They are brilliant little crazed monkey lunatics. My heart is on my sleeve and in my throat every minute of the day. It’s exhausting. Strangers see my tight face in the grocery store as my boys have a screaming match in aisle 9 and offer me, “These are the days! You don’t want to miss them!” Seriously? Cause I gotta tell ya, if I ever have a moment to myself, I am daydreaming about dropping them both off at a highly-rated Charter school with after-hour yoga care while I, I don’t know, take a hike or finish reading a paragraph in a magazine or simply do the dishes without someone clinging to my leg or wiping their nose on my jeans. I’m also gut-wrenchingly …

13 Homemade Gifts that Don’t Suck

I’d guess I was about seven or eight when I made my dad an ashtray for Christmas. I’m pretty sure everyone in art class made their parents ashtrays for the holidays that year. We might even have been told to. Who knows. Mine was quite the specimen. It looked like I had taken a misshapen ball of clay, jumped on it with a pogo stick, dropped it and then fell on it. Oh – and stabbed it in with an eraser and etched a shamrock on the side with a pencil (because I actually did those things). Had my parents smoked, it at least would have been a practical gift – function not form and all. (In my defense, the glaze was spectacular. A nice emerald green. Ye olde Irish ashtray.) Let this be a lesson: Don’t do stupid homemade gifts. Don’t decoupage anything, don’t use papier mache unless you actually have talent, and – whatever you do – don’t bedazzle anything. NOTHING. Hear me? If you’re dying to express your creativity or don’t have …

The Art of Being a Flaker

‘Tis the season for accepting invitations to holiday parties and saying yes to merrymaking with friends, family and coworkers. ‘Tis the season for exclamatory declarations: “I’ll be there!” and “Can’t wait!” and “Count me in!” Also, ‘tis the time for emoji-laden last-minute cancellations. Ugh! I’m sorry, but I can’t make it after all. (😞😞😞😞) Unfortunately, I have… Please don’t hate me! 😞😞😞  I won’t be there tonight.😞😞😞  I’m soooooo sorry.😞😞😞 So many sad faces, so little time. But lack of time isn’t my excuse for not showing up when and where I say I will. The fact is, I am a flaker. Flaker \ˈflā-kər\ noun: someone who cancels plans at the last minute, someone who reneges on invitations, someone who doesn’t show up and doesn’t call first, etc. (i.e. I was supposed to go to this party downtown tonight, but my friend Penny is a flaker.) Mind you, my penchant for backing out or pulling up late isn’t relegated to social obligations. Flaking is a true way of life for me. Everyone thinks they’re a …

11 Gift Guides From a Few of Our Favorite Women Bloggers

We are smack in the middle of the alleged most wonderful time of the year, and I have one question: Are you still shopping? Because I am. And when I’m in this kind of cyber-December-retail mode, there is no enabler like the internet, home of gift roundups of every size and focus. Some of our favorite women online have made lists of the best gift ideas for anyone on your list. If you’re still out in the internet streets looking for the as-yet elusive perfect gift for anyone or everyone, I can help. Read on: 1. The gift guides at Petit Elefant include this one with great ideas for women. The Complete Works of Jane Austen in a beautiful hardcover boxed set and a blanket scarf from ModCloth are just two of the picks your sister, your mom, or your best friend are likely to love.   2. The gift guides at Girl of a Certain Age are a double treat—packed with cool presents, and fun to read. I’m loving her list of gifts that …

8 Gifts You Can Buy at the Drugstore Super Last-Minute

I know all of you smart people are done with your holiday shopping, and I’m proud of you, honestly. Every year, I fight my natural procrastinating tendencies; some years I win, some I lose. But even when I’m ahead of the game, I invariably find myself short one present on my way to a gift giving event with nothing but a drug store in front of me. This year, I decided to do something about that. Not buy my presents earlier, duh. I decided to plan for that moment, for me and for all of us. I plundered my own local drug stores to find gift suggestions for when you’ve literally waited until the last second to buy presents and you don’t want to look like the dummy you kind of are. 1. A digital camera CVS has a beefy photo and camera section where I found this cute Vivitar digital camera my own 9-year-old daughter uses. They’re small, durable and, best of all, inexpensive, so no need for monitoring, even with very young kids. …

Midlife Mixtape: Albums, Books and Other Music-Inspired Gifts

O Holy Night, it’s already end of November and I’ve done zero holiday shopping so far this year – whoops. Normally all that’s left for me buy by December 1 are the tangerines for the toe of the Christmas stocking (that go uneaten in favor of the chocolate, but at least I try for the healthy option.) Not this year –  2016 kept knocking me down every time I got up. Suck it, 2016. No tangerine for you. I do, however, have lots of ideas for Christmahannakwaanzukah gifts for the music lovers, book readers, and sense of humor-havers in your lives. Some caveats: I believe in paying creative people for their work, so I still buy albums and print books (for which the musician/author gets a much higher royalty percentage.) I encourage you to shop locally. And this year in particular, I’m trying to find products that are made in parts of our country where manufacturing jobs have been lost. Maybe if people weren’t so disaffected and hopeless about the economy, they wouldn’t have been …

Margit’s Note: Wait! One More Thing

We are in the 11th hour of 2016 with 11 more days left. (I don’t even want to ask, “Well what else could happen in 2016?” because, heaven knows, a ton.) So what’s left to do? Did you send out your holiday cards yet? Well, DID YOU. No judgment. No panic. They can be New Year’s Cards….again. Look, there’s no shame in waiting until the last minute. This column is usually pieced together the day before or very often the day of. LIKE TODAY. You’d never know, right? Don’t answer that. Panic-induced inspiration can be a beautiful thing. Pondering and meandering left behind, you’re only left with the core task at hand and it must be done. And who cares if you bought those gifts on Christmas Eve; no one’s the wiser and you got it done, didn’t you? Good things can happen at the end of the year: You spend money on your health savings account, you give final donations to worthy causes (a few we might suggest), you tip your mail carrier, you …

We Toast 2016: Some Good Things Actually Happened

Man, it has been a shitty year. From the music world alone, we lost Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen and Sharon Jones. We lost our chance at electing the first woman president of the United States. And, everyday, we get to watch our buffoon of a President Elect attempt to distract us from his disastrous cabinet appointments with the Twitter stream of a toddler. Good times! Still, throughout this terrible year, many wonderful things did bring us joy. We asked several TueNight contributors to write in with their toasts to some of their favorite moments of the year.   Mallory Kasdan 2016 has been marred by loss and violence constant enough to numb. So I’ve found it helpful to cling to art, and especially to music, as a salve. Released days after a disastrous and surreal presidential election, A Tribe Called Quest’s final album WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE THANK U 4 YOUR SERVICE is potent and prescient, calling out for justice and healing in these raw times. Phife Dawg, who died suddenly in 2016 …

7 Steps to Making a Successful Toast

It is an American tragedy, a weakness of our education system. We teach our children multiplication and division, a smattering of reading skills and how to use a condom, but never the ancient skill of the proper toast. Americans become tongue-tied when raising their glass at a colleague’s retirement dinner, a nephew’s graduation or a friend’s wedding. So let’s make 2017 the year we learn to make a toast. Of all the toasts in the toasting genre, the wedding toast is the most dangerous. It requires a bard’s wit and a magician’s sleight of hand. A wedding toast must be humorous and serious, spontaneous and heartfelt. It must celebrate our culture’s most sacred bond, marriage, with the most ephemeral of human emotions, love. Here is a handy guide to the steps of making a proper toast, using my own wedding from fifteen years ago as an example. Step 1: Establish the premise. As in any good story, from a dirty joke to David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, there is always a basic “hook.” It is same …

Cheers to the Ones Who Aren’t Drinking This New Year’s Eve

Krystal and Cristal — it was the tradition my husband and I shared for 15 years. For those unfamiliar, Krystal is a hamburger chain headquartered in Dunwoody, Georgia. And Cristal, well, you know that’s champagne. It’s a purposeful mix of “high-low,” born on our first New Year’s together when, without a reservation, my husband and I grabbed a sackful of Krystal burgers and champagne, December 31, 2001. The tradition evolved in subsequent years. We ate the burgers off Lenox china gifted to us for our wedding, then on a silver tray once at a dinner party, and then the tiny burgers were cut into quarters for our small son. This year, La Croix will be substituted for Cristal. Because this year, I quit drinking for good. It used to be that I would feel sorry for the person who wasn’t drinking. How could I have a New Year’s Eve? How could I have any kind of Friday — or Tuesday for that matter? This year’s toast is not about the things that I have lost. …

5 Champagne Cocktails To Send 2016 Off Properly

A little bubbly never hurt anyone, and Champagne cocktails are indisputably one of the more elegant ways to celebrate, especially during the holidays. But what could you add to Champagne to make it any better, you might ask? Well, fine Cognac for one — and why not? This year has been a doozy. Here are five bubble-driven drinks to set it right:   The French 75 Created around the time of Prohibition and ironically named after a WWI field gun, this drink packs a punch. When served in a flute, it can also make for an incredibly elegant and enticing toast. Though the French 75 was originally made with gin, I often prefer a rounder, richer choice of Cognac or, sometimes, bourbon. A lemon twist brightens the drink and adds a touch of class. Remember: Garnishes can make a room. French 75  1 oz Louis Royer Force 53 VSOP Cognac 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice 1/2 oz simple syrup Top with Champagne Directions: 1. Combine Cognac, lemon and simple syrup with ice into a cocktail shaker. 2. Shake …

Easy Recipes for Fancy Toast (Yes, Including Avocado)

There’s really no easier meal than toast. All you need is a piece of bread and a toaster, right? Technically yes, but it can, and should, be so much more than just a piece of bread. Toast toppings are just about endless, and whether you prefer a sweet or savory breakfast there’s a way for everyone to enjoy it. You can pretty much top a slice of toast with anything you have in your fridge already, it’s the combination of ingredients that may be new to you. Nothing complicated, nothing too fancy, no extra frills needed. You can prepare the rest of the ingredients in the time the bread is toasting for a five minute breakfast that’s easy, healthy and delicious. Remember though, toast doesn’t only have to be for breakfast. These make great snacks and even a light lunch with something extra on the side. Feed more than yourself with a “Toast Bar” and lay out multiple topping options for everyone to create their favorite combination. Let’s toast to toast!! Blueberry Cream Toast What …

Editor’s Note: We Raise Our Glass (You Bet Your Ass)

Salud! Sláinte! A votre santé! Gan Bei! L’Chaim! We couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the holiday season than a TueNight issue devoted to toast(s). It has been a doozy of a year. The last month, in particular, has left many of us on the floor, wondering where we are as a country and how we can possibly face what’s in front of us. But in the spirit of brighter futures, we decided to take time to celebrate the good that we have in our world right now. As we looked back on 2016, we thought about who and/or what we wanted to toast the most: YOU. The TueNight community. To all of you who have contributed your own stories this year. To everyone who came to the Pussy Party in November. To anyone who commented on our Facebook and Instagram posts or tweeted and re-tweeted. To those who commented on our stories and responded to our writers. To our survey participants. To every TueNight reader. There are far too many of …