Gifts to Buy Yourself

When I had a regular job (i.e., a regular paycheck vs. the wildly erratic income of a self-employed person), I loved to shop. I shopped with abandon all year long. Okay, not really. But I definitely spent way more on myself than I am willing to now. After ten years of working for myself it's impossible to look at a pair of pants without calculating how many hours I have to work to pay for them. And then descend into a never-ending spiral of questioning about whether the pants - THESE pants - will be worth it. Will they last? Will they stretch out in the butt after I wear them for a few hours? Will the tailor cut them too short and ruin them before they've even been worn once? How long do I have to keep them to make it worth my while? Will I lose weight or gain weight and make them unwearable before that time? WWQBS (What Would QuickBooks Say?) And then I just buy another pair of running pants and call it a day. But I digress.


THE POINT IS THIS: In those days - when I was more casual with my money -  I did a "thing" when I Christmas shopped - for every present I bought for someone else, I threw a few small things in for myself. And that made holiday shopping so much more enjoyable. It's also a way to please yourself instead of hoping someone else will do it. And I'm not sure that's such a bad thing. What if a miracle occurred and the universe did a reverse Christmas thing and you got to spend everything you usually spend on other people on things you really want for yourself? How much happier would you be? I know, right?


Here are my thoughts on ways to treat yourself this holiday season:


Guerlain Météorites Pearls are a blend luminescent face powders. You need this. I have the compact and the full-size set. They smell delicious and do amazing things for every skin tone. Every time you use them it is an escape from your everyday world into...I don't know...a walk down the Champs-Élysées or something. Actually, the Champs is not my favorite champs in Paris. My favorite champs is the Champs de Mars.


Go ahead and yourself that thing you've been wanting that will make your everyday world a little bit more efficient or [sucks breath in] more fun. My husband travels four or five days a week. On the weekends he cooks me an amazing breakfast - sometimes two or even three courses. We've been wanting a waffle maker for some time but we don't technically *need* a waffle maker. Until we bought this Waring Pro professional and found out that we do need a waffle maker. We've been making vegan waffles like crazy for weeks now and we love them. I'm glad a spent a little more than I had intended, because this $100 model is super easy to use and clean. No regrets. AND it's the gift that keeps on giving.


You might not want a waffle maker - but maybe you need a professional hairdryer so you can get ready for work in alot less time. Or maybe you need a new lamp because your bedroom is dark and it stresses you out while you read trashy novels. It's that thing you need but can't ask people to buy for you because it's too ridiculous. Whatever it is - go get it. 



When I'm stressed out I try to map out what would make me feel better. Do I need a good, healthy dinner? Some time with friends? A workout? It's usually all those things plus a massage. Because massage is the only thing I can do where I can be "checked out" while I recharge, it's usually my go-to stress reliever in times of trouble. The holidays are stressful. There's the shopping, the money, the relatives, the old family issues, the new family issues, the loneliness, the wanting. What are you going to do to get away from all that? If its a massage - book one. If it is something else, then do that.



Let yourself off the hook this holiday season.


Let yourself "off the hook." Without consulting anyone and without second-guessing yourself. Decide that you're not going to do whatever the things that make you miserable this holiday season. Stay in a hotel or with a friend instead of sleeping on a cot in your brother's moldy basement. Spend what you can afford on gifts instead of feeling pressured into spending to please others (because if they aren't pleased with what you have to offer - they never will be.) Stay home instead of driving six hours in snow and ice to have a miserable dinner with miserable relatives. Yes, you can.



Buy yourself a bottle of Apathy aromatherapy mood spray. It's a good scent to try if you're not sure which mood spray to purchase first. It's also my personal favorite. I love the pink grapefruit scent. Run a hot bath and mist the mood spray into the steamy air until you feel better. It really does help. One of the gifts I'm giving myself this year is a custom, off-label mood spray that is just for me - not for you guys. I think it's going to include eucalyptus and lemon essential oils.


How do you cope with holiday stress? Do you buy gifts for yourself? Have you changed the way you give to or spend time with family?



Gifts for People Who Are Hard to Buy For

There's always ONE. You've pretty well got your gift list buttoned down except for that *one* person who either has EVERYTHING or is incredibly hard to please. Here are a few gift ideas for people who are hard to buy for:
A set of four aromatherapy Anti-Bad-Mood Sprays would be a good gift (not just because I sell them) because they are something no one else has. These are fresh, clean, scents that will appeal to most people and the copy on the labels is really, really funny. The recipient can always stow them in the office restroom or guest bedroom or even...[sucks breath in]...split them up and re-gift them. You'd want to buy all four for a person you don't know very well - because you want it to be received as a joyous, funny gift, versus a direct message about their personal behavior. Put one of each in your shopping cart then use the coupon code ALL FOUR in the checkout area and you'll get $25 off a set of four. Great value. If you know someone well enough to choose a specific bottle - that works too.
Gift cards are great for poor people.
Gift cards are terrific presents - but only give them to poor people who will spend it (not hoard it) or rich folks that are the frugal kind of rich*.  Choose a major retailer like Amazon; iTunes; Starbucks, or Target that sells a diverse group of products in every price range. You want to give a person lots of fun items to choose from vs. forcing them to spend their own money to make up the difference on something they'd actually want.


A set of 3 premium car washes or even a voucher for a detailing service is something every car owner -- rich or poor -- will appreciate. EZPass, Metro, bus, and gas cards are also great gifts.

A few years ago, my friend Sue gave me this Edible Arrangements package on my birthday. Not because I'm hard to buy for -- I don't think -- but because she's AWESOME. It was my first experience with the company and I was really impressed - the fruit and the chocolate were both very high quality. It is entirely possible, by the way, to suck all the chocolate off the fruit without eating it. Not that I tried that. <-----shifty eyes----->  Some of the well-known brands are actually kind of...stale or yuck. If you're going to send food gift, stick with companies that you have tried and enjoyed.
The secret to every great party is repetition and or excess. You can use those concepts in holiday gift giving as well.
The secret to every great party is repetition and excess. Do one thing -- even a small thing -- over and over and over again and choose one element and do it to EXCESS. You can use these concepts in gift giving as well. A handmade Advent calendar is a great idea - and there are bajillions of ideas on Pinterest to spark  your imagination. It doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. The gift is in providing someone with a small, daily surprise. What about Eight Crazy Nights of Technical Running Socks? Use repetition to make a simple thing more powerful and fun. You might send twelve different coffee roasts, or hand-selected artisan vegetable boxes - but whatever you decide? Hand-pick it yourself. Subscription services are expensive and what's inside is often pretty lackluster. I once spent a bunch of money on a year of "emerging wines" subscription and I think the recipient pretty much hated everything in there.
Throw your concerns about your favorite person's dietary needs aside (except I would tell you to skip anything with nuts) and send a batch of beautifully wrapped homemade cookies, cordials, fudge, jams, whatever. Consider making an old family recipe for a relative. One year I made my Uncle a couple of loaves of my grandmother/his mother's homemade bread. A batch of homemade Chex Mix will go over really will with folks in Minnesota.  Martha has lovely pre-made cookie boxes and gift wrapping ideas to help you up your game. Even if they don't like it or can't eat it, there will always be someone they can share it with and everyone will be amazed by your handiwork.
*My experience has been that giving gift cards to people who can buy themselves whatever they want aren't the best choice. Someone once told me that the $100 gift card I gave her wasn't "enough to buy anything" at the store I chose. (Yes, the person really said that.) Other times I know the gift card has just been thrown on a pile; unused. Don't try to compete or spend at the same level as the other person. Don't buy wine for a wine snob or cheese for a cheese snob. Consider what they don't have - gifts that take time and care to make - or use repetition (see above) to make turn a simple gift into something of luxurious excess.
Do you have someone in your family that is hard to buy for? What gifts have gone over well? What gifts have met with a confused silence? What suggestions do you have for the person who "has everything?"


Holiday Gift Guide: The Office Edition and/or Gift Ideas for Procrastinators

During my cubicle years, most everyone would have said I was a social person. Back in my youth? If I forgot a colleague's birthday, it was definitely on purpose. (Now, I'm pressed to keep track of my own birthday.)  And my youth...I had absolutely zero desire to organize any kind of secret gift event for the office. Perhaps this was a sign of the shifting sands yet to come?

I don't really know. I remember signing up to participate, of course, and, of course, being super excited by all the amaaaaaaazing creative gift ideas I was going to pull off in my free time. You know. When I got home at 9 p.m. from my two-hour commute. Or 10 p.m. After I finished my evening classes. You know how this story is going to end, right?

It's going to end with an admission about how none of that ever happened and the night before the gift was due to be cubicle-delivered I just went to the People's Drug in Bethesda to shop the AS SEEN ON TV section; trying not to bump into a whole bunch of other people from the office doing exactly the same thing. Which is why I want to start this Office Edition Gift Guide off with:


The Clapper is the perfect gift for a colleague.


The Clapper. Seriously. Why? Because everyone secretly kinda wants one but is simply too ashamed to self-purchase. Do your colleague this favor and snap one up today. Don't go to People's Drug of Bethesda, though. Because they knocked it down and built a huge tower in its place.



If you don't like your colleague enough to spend $22.95 on a Clapper, then go with a more affordably-priced option: The Chia Pet. My personal fave has always been the Chia Barack Obama, and I think it goes without saying that Barry could use a little support right now. I mean, sure, this health care thing is a complete and total mess - but he's trying, you know? And anyone trying to do anything new with our government deserves a pat on the back just for that alone.

Which leads me to one of the newest products in the Anti-Bad-Mood Sprays' store - the "At least you're still TRYING" award ribbon. Just $4 and it's going to pin up nicely on the cubicle walls of any investment trading floor or hidden in the back office at Lululemon next to a picture of a kinda fat girl. It would also be a super add-on to a bottle of Passive or Aggressive aromatherapy mood spray.


This ribbon is perfect for passive-aggressive coworkers.


If the ribbon doesn't go over, you might try the "Sorry I am Such An Asshole" balloons. Also cheap, but funny! And really pretty perfect for work colleagues for so many reasons, at so many times of the year. Any balloon-selling florist or supermarket will be able to fill these with helium for you for less than a buck.


Sorry I am Such an Asshole Balloons for home or office.

It goes without saying that every office needs a set of aromatherapy Anti-Bad-Mood Sprays. Just for the SHARED RESTROOM alone. Or people microwaving fish. When I think back to my cubicle days I think, first, of the smells. Natural citrus, people. That's what it's all about. Start with the travel size mini mood sprays - under $10 and portable enough to slip into a pocket before you head into the stalls. Every office has That Guy. Mood Sprays smell good and help improve your mood - but they are also formulated to de-stink office kitchens; restrooms; and everywhere else.


Aromatherapy mood sprays in travel sizes.


Now, if you *like* your coworkers...consider giving them the gift of Reddit Gold.


If you don't know about reddit, then just keep scrolling to the next thing.


Another great gift for office colleagues is a Fridge Locker. As far as I can tell, 90 percent of submissions to PassiveAggressiveNotes[dot]com are sent by people who have had their lunch stolen from the office refrigerator.


Finally, a useful - but somewhat spendier gift - would be a white noise machine. A personal fave is this one from Hammacher Schlemmer. Just a glorified fan in a box, but it does help the creative mind who just needs quiet to f***ing concentrate and write.


So that's it! My 2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Office Edition. How about you? Do you give gifts at the office during the holidays? What did you give last year? What was the best item you've ever received?




Gift Ideas and Stocking Stuffers for the Vegan

Thanksgivingukkah and Christmas are just around the corner. Are you ready? My guess is you're not. Why? Because you're reading this blog post. Don't fret - there's still time! There are plenty of great gift ideas perfect for the Vegans in your life. Here is my hand-picked selection:

Monkey vegetable peeler is a perfect gift for your favorite vegan.

The Monkey Vegetable Peeler from Boston Warehouse is the perfect stocking stuffer! If you need to make the gift a little bigger add a bunch of organic rainbow carrots or some purple potatoes from your local whole foods market. The vegetables and the fun peeler will make your vegan very, very happy!



Vegans love to peel and eat vegetables but they still secretly crave chocolate just like everyone else. Fran Costigan's new book, Vegan Chocolate, is on everyone's list this year. Even if they're really skinny and they won't admit to craving chocolate. THEY DO. LOOK at that freaking inch of chocolate icing on the cake. Can you not feel your teeth vibrating from the sugar as you mentally sink your face into the...mmmmmmm [snaps back to reality...] Anyway, this book would make a great gift. And your vegan probably doesn't have it yet.


Veggie temporary tattoos are great stocking stuffers for vegans.

A set of temporary veggie tattoos is the perfect stocking stuffer! Flat and easy to mail, you could also insert them in a holiday card or with a gift card for that little something extra. Super fun - and just $5.


Mini mood sprays are certified vegan and portable for bad smells and unhappy people.


Mini mood spray packs are under $10 and the perfect, gift-able size. Certified vegan, these hand-blended aromatherapy sprays relieve everyday tensions and make a room smell great without adding any harmful chemicals. Plus? NO ONE has them. It's a unique, inexpensive gift that everyone will have fun with. 

The Cuisinart Rice Cooker/Steamer gets more action in our kitchen than any other device. Well, except the Vitamix. We use it for oatmeal almost every morning! We cook grains (rice, quinoa, bulgur, and so much more) in the bottom and steam vegetables on the top. Get the big one - the 8 cup size. Extra steamed vegetables and grains can be tossed with greens to make quick, easy meals for your favorite vegan.



If you're rich then buy your Vegan a Vitamix. QVC has good prices and lots of special extras as well as an Easy Pay plan just in case you're not rich. Like, if you got a Master's in Anthropology instead of going to Medical School like your super smart sister. And also got divorced a bunch of times. ANYWAY...this is the kind of gift you'd buy a vegan when you want to score major points or you need to make up for all the sh**ty things you said last year at Thanksgiving. Whatever the details, this will work.


A TofuXpress tofu press is one of those things every vegan wants, but technically doesn't really need (because you can, technically, press tofu between two dinner plates.) So, even though you, the vegan, press your tofu between two dinner plates, you kind of hate it and wish you had an excuse to buy a TofuXpress. But you never do because don't really like tofu THAT much so it doesn't seem worth it for an item you'd use just once in awhile. Type of thing. That's what makes it such a great gift for your favorite vegan. They want one, but they'll never drop the $40.

Shopping is one of my hidden talents. I'm putting together a series of gift guides for the important people in your life. Check out yesterday's gift guide for the Crazy Cat Lady and stop in tomorrow for the next installment!


Holiday Gift Ideas for the Crazy Cat Lady.

I'm a crazy cat lady and -- though I'm not ashamed -- I draw the line at wearing the clothes. As in, "You're never gonna see me in one of those cat print sweatshirts..." But that was before I saw this Pusheen t-shirt at ModCloth. I can't imagine a t-shirt that could possibly be more ME. A cat drinking a cup of coffee and penning a letter? I need this shirt. Oops - I mean, this would be a great gift for the crazy cat lady in YOUR life.


Pusheen the cat writing a letter and drinking coffee.


Another great gift for cat lovers is a Sonicare toothbrush. Anyone who *really* loves their cat spends an enormous amount of time sitting on the couch drinking coffee and tea in order to feed the spirit of pet togetherness. A sonic toothbrush keeps the coffee drinker's smile nice and white - and is well worth the investment for what you'll save in dental care. You can get a good deal on a Sonic toothbrush at Costco and many other stores.


Probably the most difficult thing for the crazy cat lady to cope with is the social shame of the multiple litter box smell. Ladies, all the Mood Sprays contain pure essential oils that will clean the air without harmful chemicals. Apathy will be the strongest and most effective option for the multi-cat owner. If your cat is particularly standoffish - you might try a bottle of The Antidote for Ego. The organic French lavender in Ego will calm the kitty crazies and give the uppity cat something to think about before rejecting your loving advances. Anyone who travels with a pet will enjoy a set of TSA friendly mini mood sprays, especially helpful when your pet poops or pukes in the car carrier or on the airplane.

Anti Bad Mood aromatherapy essential oil sprays deodarize cat litter boxes

If you're still struggling to find a thoughtful way to organize all the cat costumes you purchased at Halloween, consider investing a few dollars in this handy book by Lissanne Oliver. If you follow this blog you know I've been using Oliver's book Sorted! and have found it very helpful. She lives in Australia but the book is still affordable and ships fast enough to please the gift-giving families of any US-based hoarder. I recommend it for anyone who has a pile of stuff and no idea what to do with it.


Lissanne Oliver helps you figure out how to organize your hoard.


Most toys are a complete waste of money. The Cat Dancer, on the other hand, is the best $2 you'll ever spend. It doesn't look like much but your crazy cat lady's cat will love The Cat Dancer toy to the point of obsession. It's a simple twist of cardboard on the ends of a stiff wire that, when unrolled and moved through the air, looks like a flying insect.

Cat Dancer toy is great fun and exercise for your kitty.

What crazy cat lady wouldn't be touched by a set of custom postage stamps with pictures of her kitties? Choose her favorite Facebook shares and make some custom postage at or Zazzle. Now she'll have the chance to share her love with the WHOLE WORLD.

Photo stamps are a great gift for a crazy cat lady.Pet Food Nation changed the way I think about the cat and dog food industry. Some of the things that Joan Weiskopf writes about are difficult to hear but so important for understanding the challenge of pet nutrition in a competitive marketplace. I make several of the natural pet food recipes in this book for my pets (though five years ago I would have said that was CRAZY) and I've seen fewer hairballs and more satisfied bellies and it's alot cheaper. I know what you're thinking...and I thought the same thing...but cooking for your pets isn't actually all that hard once you get in the groove.


 A FURminator grooming tool thins your pet's undercoat and reduces the hairball "problem" around the house. Specifically, the throwing up on your pillow problem. It's a little more expensive than your average brush, but it really works. My cats don't enjoy it as much a regular brush but will tolerate it in short spurts, which is all you really need if you FURminate regularly.



I can personally vouch for everything on this Crazy Cat Lady Gift Guide - I'm not ashamed to out myself on the Internet or anywhere else. I love my pets! Any of these items will be a great gift for the pet lovers in your life. Are you a crazy cat person? What are some items you can't live without?

Check out my Instagram feed for up-to-the-minute posts about what my cats are doing RIGHT NOW.


Anti-bad-mood sprays™ Are a Return Hit for Holiday Gifts and Office Secret Santa

 Dwight Schrute prepares for the holidays. 

It’s that time again. Ugh. Your mother will, once again, yell across the Thanksgiving dinner table, "When are you two going to stop using birth control, already?!"

If you don't come up with exactly the right gift for Raul in accounting he'll see that you never get your expense checks back in time to pay the credit card bills.

A big hit last season, anti-bad-mood sprays™ are the perfect fit for this year's holiday gifts.

Aromatherapy mood sprays are an inexpensive, creative gift for office, family, friends

The Antidote for Ego™, Apathy™, Passive™ and Aggressive™ are custom blended sprays that battle common bad moods. Priced under $20 each, with eco-luxe packaging, they are perfect for everyone – the hostess, the office gift exchange, your family, your mailman.

“There really isn’t anyone who doesn’t need at least one anti-bad-mood spray™,” says Heidi Rettig, CEO of HR Products. “Everyone can use a bottle in a shared restroom to tamp down, um … smells. Stock up before the dysfunctional family members arrive for Thanksgiving dinner. There’s no shame in buying in bulk.”

The products are certified vegan and their essential oils are organically sourced, whenever possible. Apathy™ is the most popular product on the website. The scent of fresh peeled grapefruit, with a hint of green, naturally freshens the air and enhances memory and concentration.

“I ship more bottles of anti-Passive™ to New York City than anywhere else in our great nation,” Rettig says. “Something I wouldn’t have predicted based on my experience of the way New Yorkers behave in the taxi line outside Grand Central Station.”

Taxi Line at Grand Central Station, New York City.


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