Monthly Archives: November 2016

For Your Christmas Gift List, Go Unique.

As you contemplate what to get your friends, family and coworkers for Christmas, why not avoid the bland, boring, perfunctory, and/or plain?  Nothing says “I refuse to put any serious thought or effort into my gift decision making process,” than a $50 gift card or a tie or cash.  This year, take a risk and go unique and that internet machine makes it easier than ever to do just that.  Simply think about the recipient of your gift and what his/her interests and hobbies are and then take it from there.  With that in mind here are a few uncommon gift ideas (in no particular order…no ranking here, within a wide price range) and where to find them.

Chicken with Artichoke and SpinachHome-delivered meals – from MagicKitchen.com of course.  They (we?) offer a variety of meal bundles such as comfort food, home-style, soup for the soul, diabetic friendly, low sodium, senior, and gluten-free just to name a few.  All you need to do is determine the needs and/or desires (in terms of food) of the recipient, visit http://www.magickitchen.com/ and take it from there.

Simulated sunrise alarm clock – An extremely appropriate gift for those that suffer with the winter blahs, aka seasonal affective disorder.  This simulated sunrise clock gradually brightens the closer it gets to your wake-up time and it offers five calming, natural sounds to wake-up to as well.  It also works in reverse, as both the light and natural sound diminish as you drift off to la-la land.  Find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0093162RM/?tag=dodochristmas2016-20

Macaron making kit – NOT to be confused with the Americanized “Macaroon” (the almond-based confection), the French macaron is a to-die-for meringue-based cookie.  This kit provides the receiver with everything they need to make a variety of macarons, from “rose” to “Earl Grey” to “wasabi” (yes, I just wrote wasabi).  Check it out… http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/macaron-kit

3dpen3D writing pen — This hand-held 3D printer is perfect for the artist on your list.  It extrudes (or exudes, I’m not sure which) a warm plastic gel that hardens in a few minutes and allows the user to create works of art that have depth, height and width…hence 3D.  It comes with 50 plasta-gel refills of various colors.  Get it here:   http://www.hammacher.com/Product/Default.aspx?sku=89808&refsku=87427

642 Things to Write About – This notebook of writing prompts brings out the creative writer hiding in all of us.  It offers a series of prompts and space to pontificate.  Here’s a couple of examples: “You have been evicted from your home, but rather than live on the street you go to Ikea.  At night, you hide in the bathroom until the janitor leaves.  Write about your life.”  And “What is the sound of silence and when did you last hear it?” Read more here:  http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/642-things-to-write-about

Pac-Man video game console – This full-size arcade console will fill the owner’s home with the vintage “wocka, wocka, wocka” sound as players run from (or chase) blinky, pinky and those other two ghosts through the most famous of mazes.  The game, while a bit expensive, also comes with 12, pre-loaded classic arcade games such as Galaga, Dig Dug, and, of course, Ms. Pac-Man.  Fulfill your classic gamer’s wishes here: http://www.hammacher.com/Product/Default.aspx?sku=11801&PID=7101032&source=cj

Custom Bobblehead – Why collect bobbleheads of famous athletes when you can give any person on your list their own bobblehead?  Simply visit this site  http://www.1minime.com/ , pick a body-style (they have over 450 to choose from, such as: Scarface, a pimp, various athletes, the grim reaper, a ninja, a princess, a bride, rock star and couples too), upload a picture and they’ll take it from there.

cokemachineVintage-style Coca-Cola vending machine – This mini-fridge vending machine holds ten 12-ounce cans of your favorite beverage (not necessarily coke) and is perfect for an in-home bar, game room or the ever popular man cave.  It offers push-button vending…just remember to keep it well stocked.  https://www.sharperimage.com/si/view/product/Coca-Cola-Vending-Fridge/201599

A Listography Journal – An alternate way to journal, this series comes in a variety of titles that coerce the writer to reflect upon their life as they compile lists of their favorites and from either their present or past.  Titles include lists that deal with your favorite films, books, food, travel places, and things you’d like to do in the future.  Get writing here:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1452106517/?tag=dodochristmas2016-20

Teas from around the world – Give the gift of global teas to the tea lover on your list.  It contains a set of ten tubes of loose-leaf teas from various global tea-producing areas.  Each tube makes enough tea for 6-8 cups.  The teas range in flavor from Long Jing to bancha tea mixed with roasted rice.  Read more here:  http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/tea-from-around-the-world-set

DIY Computer – For the computer geek, er, genius in your life.  This computer kit comes with everything one would need to build a computer, to include a wireless keyboard, speaker, HD screen, and PCU.  It comes with a step-by-step instruction guide and gets the owner started on coding skills and making their own apps and games.  https://kano.me/store/uk/products/kano-complete

sockMembership in the sock-of-the-month club – Usually socks, well, suck as a gift.  However, many use socks to express their individuality, and this gift certainly will help them in that endeavor.  They offer a variety of socks from traditional to quirky, from no-show to over-the-calf.  The recipient can receive one or two pair of socks every month with a new design that have never been sold before.  Learn more here:  http://www.sock101.com/sock-of-the-month-club-s/1869.htm

Bacon flavored toothpaste – Nothing says fresh breath like bacon!  For the person that just can’t get enough bacon in their life, this is the gift for them.  This 2.5 ounce tube of pork goodness will leave the taste of breakfast in the user’s mouth for hours and cause people in the vicinity to develop a strange craving for crispy bacon.  Yes, this is a real thing and here’s the proof:  https://www.offthewagonshop.com/collections/weird-funny-gifts/products/bacon-flavored-toothpaste

Star Wars BB-8 robot – Modeled after the famous robot from The Force Awakens, this smaller version reacts to commands from either a Smartphone app or its owner’s voice!  It also has autonomous behavior that permits it to wander around on its own as well as an adaptive personality that allows BB-8 to develop a unique personality through interactions with its owner.  Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/Sphero-Star-Wars-BB-8-Droid/dp/B0107H5FJ6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471962679&sr=8-1&keywords=sphero+bb8&tag=goodhousekeeping_auto-append-20&ascsubtag=goodhousekeeping.gallery.399

wine-glassesMusical wine glasses – each glass in this set of two is actually capable of playing a note in the A-major scale.  The note it plays is dependent upon the level of wine in the glass.  Each note is clearly marked on the glass and all that’s required to get it to tone is a quick swipe around the rim of the glass with a wet finger.  A unique take on the toning bells idea, party goers can actualyl play songs which is made easier with the included downloadable sheet music.  See them here:  http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/major-scale-musical-wine-glasses-set-of-2

Wonder Woman apron – We all have a wonder woman in our life so why not let her know that with this colorful kitchen accessory.  It might not improve her cooking skills, but she’ll definitely look better (if that’s possible) while working on those meals.  Peruse it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00541NO4E/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00541NO4E&linkCode=as2&tag=tuckerheavy-20&linkId=TOPMX4MOVPHGBKZG

Mossy Oak pink camouflage duffle bag – Have a woman on your list that loves outdoor activities, like hunting or fishing, but still wants to exert her femininity?  Then this is her gift.  This 20-inch bag features the famous Mossy Oak camo accented with pink handles, zippers, shoulder and reinforcing straps.  See if it’s what she’s looking for here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009RUQC0G/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B009RUQC0G&linkCode=as2&tag=tuckerheavy-20&linkId=XCYP4P2VAYYGSMGE

Bluesmart carry-on luggage – With this innovative carry-on, the owner can track the whereabouts and condition of his/her bag through 3G and GPS technology.  It beams this info to a smartphone.  It also comes with a battery and two USB ports that can be used to charge a phone six times over.  This TSA approved luggage also features a water-resistant surface and a built-in scale.  Be amazed here:   https://www.amazon.com/Bluesmart-1-Smart-Carry-On-Luggage/dp/B00X5OUC1U/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=boost&srs=12034488011&ie=UTF8&qid=1447630729&sr=8-42&linkCode=sl1&tag=randallheavy-20&linkId=88e08fc43edcdb6ca1d2f6c087bbd695

stripedPlant Theatre funky veg kit – Who hasn’t wanted to grow multi-colored Swiss chard, purple carrots, red Brussels sprouts, or striped tomatoes?  Well, this kit provides its recipient with everything they’ll need to grow all of them (seeds, pots, and peat blocks).  The perfect gift for those who desire to create a psychedelic salad.  Here it is: https://www.amazon.com/Plant-Theatre-Funky-Veg-Extraordinary/dp/B00Q74B3D6/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1447636639&sr=8-11&keywords=gifts&linkCode=sl1&tag=randallheavy-20&linkId=cbf9f11b0a3ae61da87481d8e45753d2

Exploding Kittens card game – this family-friendly card game bills itself as a “card game about kittens and explosions and sometimes goats.”  I’ll leave the rest to your imagination, but if you’re curious you can check it out here: https://www.amazon.com/Exploding-Kittens-About-Explosions-Sometimes/dp/B010TQY7A8/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=randallheavy-20&linkId=4382a5fc7f6304a38277eda570e1ff6f

There you have it…20 unique gift ideas for just about everyone on your gift list.  So please, this Christmas, take a chance and give a gift that is truly as unique as you are.  I’ll just leave you with a quote from one of my favorite Hugh Grant movies, Four Weddings and a Funeral,  “Why be boring?”  Happy Holidays!

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Sweat the Small Stuff: 5 Small Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Life.

Yeah, I know the quote is usually “DON’T sweat the small stuff,” but sometimes the small stuff matters.  If you think about it, our entire lives are comprised of “small stuff,” in the form of the thousands of decisions we make on a daily basis.  Should I eat just one more?  Binge watch The Walking Dead or work on the house?  Wear these yoga pants or not?  Hit the snooze again?

These seemingly small decisions add up and become who we are.  So why not make a few small decisions that, when done consistently, can actually improve your life for the better?  That’s what I thought, you have no argument…and “I don’t have the time” counts as no argument.

  1. pedometerGet (and use) a pedometer – But just don’t wear it around and look at the total at the end of your day. Set benchmarks (or goals if you prefer) and break them!  Make small bets with your friends, family and coworkers.  For example: “I’ll bet all of you a tarantula that I take more steps than you over the weekend.”  Or create a contest with a prize for the winner.  For example: “whoever takes the most steps today gets the last MagicKitchen.com Panna Cotta.” Of course, there are plenty of pedometer apps for your phone, too.
  1. Breathe deep…the gathering gloom (sorry, I regressed to my teenage years when I kept trying to figure out those strange lyrics to “Nights in White Satin”). Research has shown that deep breathing exercises (just 5 minutes a day) reduces stress producing hormone levels, decreases anxiety, lowers blood pressure, and improves sleep.
  1. scrabbleDo a crossword, or Sudoku, or play Scrabble – In other words, exercise your brain as if it were a muscle (Is it a muscle? Or an organ?…Does it matter?). No, it doesn’t matter.  The brain ACTS like a muscle and the more you exercise it, the more efficient it gets.  Of course, the obverse is also true.  Your brain will atrophy like any other muscle if it remains sedentary for an extended period of time.  Studies have shown brain exercises can extend its cognitive reserve…aka its ability to withstand damage due to aging, such as dementia.  Learning new things, such as a musical instrument or foreign language does the trick as well.
  1. Read nutrition labels – Contrary to popular belief, ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to your nutrition (sorry for contradicting so many popular idioms in this post). Your body knows what you’re putting in it even if you keep it from your mind and the results (good or bad) happen regardless.  You might set that Snickers bar aside when you find out it has 280 calories, 14 grams of fat, 30 grams of sugar and contains trans fat.  Look at it this way, after eating that Snickers, you’ll have to run about 2.5 miles to burn it off (and that doesn’t even take into account the effects of the saturated and trans fat consumed).
  1. hug2Hug someone…just make sure it’s consensual. The hugging of loved ones reduces stress, anxiety, feelings of loneliness, and releases anti-depressant hormones such as oxytocin and serotonin.  Regular hugging has also been shown to aid in healing and recovering from illness.  Hugs also increase self-esteem, ease tension, teach the concepts of giving and receiving, and encourage empathy and understanding.  All these benefits apply equally to the hugger we well as the huggee.

So, to recap: work the heck out of that pedometer, breathe deep the gathering gloom (or just do deep breathing exercises), work the heck out of your brain, flip it over and read that nutrition label, and get and give plenty of hugs…and don’t forget to do all these things on a consistent basis.

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The Perfect Corporate Gift Idea: Healthy Meals

Business People Group Gift Box New Year Christmas Hat Corporate Present Party Holiday Flat Vector Illustration

Yes, it’s that time of year…the time to start thinking about gift ideas despite the fact that we’re still days away from Thanksgiving.  So why not combine the two things that most people enjoy about the holidays, food and gifts, by giving the gift of food?  And not just any kind of food, but healthy, delicious, chef-prepared food delivered right to your boss’ or coworker’s or employee’s or client’s door (either home or office door, your choice).  If this sounds like a great idea (and that’s because it is) then of course MagicKitchen.com can help you deliver the perfect corporate gift for the holidays.

Stuffed_BellPepperIn fact, many corporations use the holidays to give “the gift (of food) that keeps on giving the whole year” (a direct quote from Uncle Eddie in Christmas Vacation, btw).  They do so in the form of a recurring meal plan (usually lunch) for their employees.  And it’s way better than a one-year membership to the Jelly of the Month Club that Clark Griswold received from his Scrooge-like boss.  I mean, after all, jelly isn’t a stand-alone meal.  It requires something more to spread it on, like bread, crackers, fish or Brussel sprouts…hey, try it before you go “Ewwwww!”

Also, Jelly is not exactly a healthy option.  Many corporations are providing nutritious meals to their employees as a means to create a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.  Studies have shown that workers who regularly eat a healthy lunch have increased energy, morale and productivity.  More and more companies are incorporating healthy meals into their corporate wellness programs as they tend to lower absenteeism, decrease health costs, and assist in creating a culture of health and well-being.

And if they’re given in conjunction with the holidays, a meal program can be used to thank employees for all they’ve done over the course of the previous year, as a Christmas bonus…so long as they aren’t expecting a large cash bonus which they had planned on Chicken-ana-Luisausing to put in a family swimming pool.  Because if they are and they don’t get it, they might launch into an obscenity-laced tirade in which they make the unfortunate suggestion that someone abduct their less-than-generous boss as Clark Griswold did.

So if you’re interested in sending either a one-time meal or a full meal program as a corporate gift, then simply visit MagicKitchen.com’s corporate gift page here: http://www.magickitchen.com/menu/corporate.html and give the gift of delicious and nutritious food to any and all on your corporate gift list.  However, if one of them is named Griswold you might want to go with another option.

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Gluten-Free College Care Packages

too-busy-to-eatOne of the hardest things to do during your college years is to eat right. The Freshman 15 is real, feel the struggle. And when the person in question is gluten-intolerant, eating right gives the new student even more challenges.

Most college cafeterias don’t offer gluten free meals. Peer pressure, and trying to fit in, means that your son or daughter may try foods that they shouldn’t be eating, and suffering as a result. What’s the answer?

Beef Bourguignon- tender beef & mushrooms in wine sauce. -gluten free
Beef Bourguignon- tender beef & mushrooms in wine sauce.

One idea is to send frozen gluten free meals. MagicKitchen.com has been in the frozen food delivery business for 11 years, and they have two menus offering gluten free meals. A la carte means you can choose mains, sides and soups individually. Complete meals are a main course with a side or two. We offer one gluten free dessert as well, our pretty amazing Panna Cotta with Raspberry Sauce.

Meals can be heated up in a microwave, which most students have access to. Keep an eye out for the RC symbol, which means that the meal requires at least a toaster oven. That is usually because the product requires crisping or further cooking.

Although some colleges offer gluten free options, your student may find themselves without a lot of variety. Having some meals in the freezer will help keep them on track. They have so much to do and explore! Keeping on their diet sometimes falls down the list of things to do.

diet-in-collegeOther things your student can do:

  1. Start or join a club of gluten free dieters. Having a group allows you to get ideas on staying on the diet, of finding resources, and even the strength in numbers to talk to the cafeteria about expanding their menu.
  2.  Have “the talk” with your roommate. They will need to understand the idea of cross-contamination, and how to share the fridge. Here’s an article on how to start that talk: http://www.beyondceliac.org/living-with-celiac-disease/college/gluten-free-student-stories/Stories-and-Advice-from-Gluten-Free-Students/1328/vobid–17178/
  3.  Pick and choose carefully in the cafeteria. Here’s some more advice: http://www.celiacsatcollege.com/meals.htm

The most important thing is that they enjoy their college years and learn well. If you can help them by sending healthy meals, all the better!

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