My 2012 Christmas Shopping Guide

Written by Lotus on Wednesday, 28 of November , 2012 at 8:13 pm

It’s time for my annual guide to my favorite internet finds for Christmas! I’m a huge believer in avoiding malls at Christmas (and the other 364 days a year). As such, I do 95% of my Christmas shopping online. Here are a couple of my favorite online stores and items this year. – I love this site for stocking stuffers and other fun gifts. Some of my favorite items are the “Disappearing Civil Liberties” mug and the Stress Cupcake. This site has a lot of themed items that seem to have a cult following right now – bacon, mustaches, cupcakes, owls, Star Wars, robots, and the like. They also have a “Shop by Price” option that’s great if you’re looking for the last little “thing” to round out a gift. – As most people know, Amazon sells everything now. I’m a big fan of the Kindle, so I definitely recommend it. Amazon is also a good place to find items for someone who is obsessed with a sports team or dog breed. Another recommendation is my good friend Robert Davi’s CD, “Davi Sings Sinatra.” It’s great for any Sinatra fan or someone you want to introduce to the Sinatra songbook. A recommendation for any woman, is Jen Lancaster’s books. I love her writing style and her books always make me laugh. Finally, I am obsessed with popcorn with truffle salt. Good truffle salt has bits of truffle and is totally unrelated to synthetic truffle oil. There are a couple good brands available here. If you’re doing a gift basket or bag with a movie theme, include some truffle salt with microwave popcorn or a bag of kernels. – Birthdays are for the needs, Christmas is for the wants. Ok, maybe that varies from year to year. Anyway, Macy’s is a good place to start. They almost always have some sort of 10-20% off coupon code and free shipping over $99. On the “wants” list for most home cooks is any Le Creuset stoneware or cast iron. (Btw, you can sometimes find random Le Creuset pieces at TJ Maxx/HomeGoods for 60-80% off the regular price.) Another good gift from Macy’s – slippers. Everyone needs an extra pair of slippers. People with dogs need two extra pair of slippers. – I adore this New York-based chocolate store. Their motto is “stubbornly old-fashioned.” They are known for their chocolate molds like Santas, Christmas trees, toy soldiers and many more. Some of my other favorite items are the butter crunch, chocolate-dipped marzipan, and truffles. They also have several sugar-free items.

Homemade Food Gifts – If you’re on Pinterest you’ve seen lots of good ideas for homemade food gifts. Here are a few of my favorites. – One of my favorite shops on Etsy is this jeweler who makes great pieces out of recycled bullets. – This is a great site for personalized gifts. In addition to photo items, you can also make personalized stationary and cards. I’m all about encouraging people to write thank you cards. Among the photo gifts, some of my favorites are the iPhone cover, coasters and notepads. 

I’ll probably continue to add to this list over the next few weeks, so be sure and check back. Happy shopping!

UPDATE! — I just came across these cuffs via Pinterest.  Love the Tolkien one.  I also like this ammo mug for my favorite gun-nut.

I love this Twitter necklace.  If you want to get me one or follow me on Twitter I’m @LisaDeP.

Speaking of love, check out my friend Christian Josi’s Holiday collaboration with Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens. 

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Category: Christmas

Salted Caramel Sauce

Written by Lotus on Friday, 16 of December , 2011 at 11:51 pm



This year my favorite thing to give away is the salted caramel sauce.  I found the recipe on the Epicurious iPhone app.  However, I made a few adjustments (adding vanilla, butter, sea salt) to give it a richer flavor.  It’s great on ice cream.  Enjoy!

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan. Stir medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat. Carefully add whipping cream (you may want to stand back — mixture will bubble vigorously). Add butter, sea salt, and vanilla. Stir with small whisk over low heat until all caramel bits are incorporated and sauce is smooth.






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Category: Christmas,Food

My Annual Online Christmas Shopping Guide

Written by Lotus on Sunday, 4 of December , 2011 at 2:50 pm

In 2007, I titled my first online shopping guide “One for You, One for Me.”  This year?  Not so much.  Every year I make a list of those I’m buying for and try to keep track of what I’ve purchased.  About one week into the Christmas shopping season I’ve abandoned the list and just start buying whatever useful and useless things I think people would like.  And maybe one for me if it’s a good deal.  Like many people, this year I’m really keeping track so I don’t overspend and I’m doing away with “one for me.” 

This year my list of stores includes a few favorites, as well as some new finds.  Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Li-Lac SantaLi-Lac Chocolates
I learned about this company when two friends purchased it a few months ago.  They are legendary in New York.  You’ll find them in almost every New York travel guide as the best place for chocolate treats.  They are best-known for their molded chocolate figures like Easter bunnies, Santas and turkeys.  They also have a wide selection of other treats like bars, fudge, cream rolls and, my favorite, caramels.  Avoid the more well-known brands and surprise your friends with this New York favorite. (And feel free to send some my way!)

Homemade Gifts
‘Tis the season to save money when you can.  We all have people we don’t know that well that we have to shop for at Christmas.  Skip the “I don’t know you that well” gifts (candles, body lotion sets, etc.) and try some of these homemade ideas instead.  I really want to try the butterscotch sauce. Pair it with the perfect ice cream bowl (i.e. one that’s probably too big) and it will do more than collect dust in someone’s guest bathroom.

Perpetual Kid
This fun store makes it on my list every year.  I love them for stocking stuffers.  Some of my favorite items this year: Cupcake Handwarmer, Wonder Woman Apron, Personal Pie Maker, Jesus Shaves Mug and Animal Prints on Canvas Kit.  Full disclosure: I can’t name any of the things I actually bought this year because I don’t want to ruin surprises. 

Uncommon Goods
This is another site I included last year.  Favorites for 2011 include: Ticket Stub Diary, Tasting Plate, Knit Arm Warmers, Leaning Ladies BookendsCustom Paw Print Necklace (I wish this was available when I had a dog), Candle Shadow Projectors, Dream Bank, and Cheesemaking Kit.

My mom is very crafty and I love the idea of supporting people like her during the Christmas season.  Since the site is so extensive, I’ll just suggest some of my favorite sections: Pets, Crochet, and Geekery.

I love Amazon.  They have everything.  Search for a dog breed or sports team and find lots of fun gifts.  Of course, I hear they also sell books.  Some of my favorite books to give this season:


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LOTUS lives in Northern Virginia. NOTE: The views expressed on LOTUS blog are the author’s alone. Organizations listed on this blog are for identification purposes only.