The Grinch (probably the furry green storybook villian I relate to the most) may have stolen Christmas, but Teno Slater almost stole the Second Annual Bake and Destroy Holiday Gift Guide. For you see, my friends, my child is a jerk.
We recently relocated to a lovely new condo just a mile northwest of our previous apartment and it appears as though readjusting is harder on my little OCD-case than I’d anticipated. Now instead of our once-cozy little routine: mama comes home and starts dinner, daddy gets home and we all eat, play for an hour take a bath, read some stories and go to bed – our evenings are something like: mama shoves her way onto the overcrowded Brown Line and rushes home to start dinner, Teno pulls her pants down, screaming and crying because he wants her to hold him while she cooks, daddy gets home and is lucky to get three bites of food before Teno is dragging him into the living room to watch Fully Flared for the 3,000th time. Teno refuses to take a bath without mommy, who scrunches into the tub full of Thomas trains in her bathing suit, shivering because the water gets cold after the 45 minute mark. Teno refuses to wear pajamas, and is dressed for bed in a pair of jeans, a Threadless Kids shirt and socks. Teno runs around the house screaming for 2-4 hours, one or both of his parents end up in tears, Teno eventually cries himself to sleep in the middle of the living room after demanding to watch something totally inappropriate like True Romance or in tonight’s case, Grub Girl which daddy accidentally left in a drawer low enough for Teno to find. (There were no pictures, it’s a bootleg.)
Uh yeah, so long story somewhat short- Teno’s jerkiness makes baking basically impossible and blogging about it even more impossible. Tonight I actually uttered the words, “I may as well delete my blog.” Of course I’m not going to do that, and I’m sure this, like all the other terrible stages I thought were going to drive me insane, will pass and I will be back to baking and blogging about things other than why I am not blogging soon enough.
And on that cheery note- it’s time for the Second Annual Bake and Destroy Holiday Gift Guide! This year I find myself wanting two things: stuff people made and stuff that will help me make things. Every year in the past I’ve wanted a healthy mix of handmade items and things you can find at Target – and while I would never turn down a Sur La Table gift card or a new pair of Coach sunglasses – the kind of DIY/Obama era we’re in right now has really influenced this year’s list. It doesn’t hurt that almost everyone I know opened an Etsy shop full of wondrous things this year – things I don’t always get a chance to plug on Bake and Destroy. So please enjoy my hand-picked list of things no girl I’d hang out with would mind getting this holiday – and if you think of something else no baker and destroyer should be without, feel free to add it as a comment!
Let’s set the tone right now. Cake is awesome. The economy is crap, our babies are jerks, Bush is still in office for a few weeks with no signs of impeachment in sight, we haven’t had a pedicure in months. Who’s there for you? Cake. Whether it’s your mom’s delicious homemade pumpkin roll (a little should out to my mama) or an oversized piece of so-called birthday cake from Whole Foods that tastes like cornbread with frosting but for some reason you can’t stop eating it, even after it’s made you sick – cake is always awesome. I’ll warn you that most sizes of this shirt are sold out on Threadless, but if you start requesting reprints now you still have a shot at one.
If there happen to be any boys reading this, wondering if an assortment of colorful cupcake papers is really a good gift for their ladyfriend – I am here to tell you yes. In fact, the only thing better than a set of these amazing papers is two sets. I’ve been spending Teno’s college fund on these greaseproof papers from Confectionery House for two years now and my opinion hasn’t wavered. The fact that they put together this pack of about 200 only saves time at the checkout for me. They also just came out with colorful mini loaf papers, which are going to look awesome in the holiday cookie assortment plates I hope to get around to making before February.
If you happen to be baking for me this Christmas (or my birthday, which just so happens to be December 12th) consider picking up the Magical Forest Sampler from Bake It Pretty. Here’s a quick story for you: When I was a kid (not young enough to make the rest of this story OK, mind you) I read a book about a girl who discovered elves in her back yard and became obsessed with the idea that gnomes lived in mine. I built them a clay house and laid out little pieces of wild rhubarb for them to eat every day until finally my cats destroyed their houses and my sister started asking too many questions about why I was always messing with that stupid clay house.
Speaking of kids, if you know one who has an interest in baking, screw the Easy Bake Oven and get him or her this cute little kit from King Arthur Flour. Helping my mom in the kitchen was my favorite thing to do as a little girl, besides building gnome villages and recording the outgoing message on the answering machine. In his short time on this planet Teno has added way too much baking soda to I don’t know how many of my recipes and I’m going to keep letting him as long as he’s interested because cooking and an interest in making one’s own food is the first step in a healthy lifestyle. What? I don’t know, I just made that up.
If you’re anything like me, it’s not enough to just do something and be kind of good at it – you have to brag about it to the entire world. That’s where this necklace from Ball and Chain comes in. “Oh, what’s that on your necklace?” “This? It’s an oven.” “Cool, do you like to cook?” “Uh yeah, mostly I bake. I have a blog called Bake and Destroy, it’s pretty much awesome.” “Oh wow, I’ll have to check it out.” “Yeah totally.”
Baking pretty cakes is one thing, but taking good pictures of them is another. A cute cake stand helps, I should know. I have enough pictures of cupcakes on an ugly counter top to be crowned Miss Bad Cake Photo 2008. This one’s only $20 from Sweet Cuppin Cakes Bakery & Cupcakery Supplies.
I’m never offended by a great cook book recommendation, and I’m even less offended by being gifted a great cookbook. Tony will argue with me about this one, but I think books are the best present you can give. They last a lifetime, they’re always useful and sadly, buying one supports a dying art. Please, buy a cookbook before our kids start to think watching Rachel Ray is the only way to make something delish.
If you’re reading this, you may have gotten to the point I’m currently at – the point at which you’ve baked so much and eaten so many sweets that you kind of don’t even want to taste the things you make so much as you want to photograph them for Flickr. If you’re at the “cupcakes are just for looking” phase in your life, invest $14 in a Frosted Fake for yourself or someone you love. If my desk wasn’t currently covered in recycled PET Timbuk2 bags and half-empty Laken bottles I would totally have one of these as a paper weight.
In honor of our lovely new dwelling, I trashed the Texas Chainsaw Massacre poster that once graced the living room and replaced it with some original artwork from Caged Tomato. I’m a sucker for threatening kitchen imagery and food with arms and legs so Carrie’s digital collages and original drawings are right up my alley. Plus I happen to know her four-year-old has a pretty wicked Disney Princess habit and I’m happy to support it by buying the occasional happy hamburger man print.
If you’re saving a little money by making your own gifts this year, this recycled wallet by DeLuna Design is a pretty bitchin’ place to keep it. An ideal combo of kitchy kitchen and Earth-friendly found fabrics, and the fact that the DeLuna behind the designs happens to be one of my top-ten favorite co-workers gives these handmade bags a cozy spot on my short list of things that don’t make me angry this year.
Speaking of work… I wasn’t going to post these because we’re starting to run out of them and I haven’t had a chance to order any for myself, but I can’t make a list of cool holiday stuff and not tell you about Happy-Sacks! Hi, first of all they have the funniest name in the world and second, they’re an eco-friendly product that I would actually use. (You use them in place of Ziplocks -cool, right?) You can read all about them here in the product copy that I happened to write. Oh, and there are more of my picks for the Earth-friendly holidays here.
I have two more ideas for people who are making their own gifts this year – specifically, home baked gifts. My mom sent me a link to this printable cupcake gift wrap today, which is totally cute. I’ve been obsessing over the December issue of Martha Stewart Living and lying to myself about all the cookies and candy I’m going to make and give away somehow in the next two weeks. This is a much more practical method of wrapping said items than the insanely expensive German papers Martha suggests.
And as if one great idea for crafty gift-giving in one day wasn’t enough, Tony goes and buys me these sweet .pdf downloads from Wild Olive. I got two sets of recipe cards, which are not only stupidly cute in and of themselves, but they’re going to make the instructions on the baking mixes I tend to give away extra sweet. You can actually type your recipes up in the files before you print so you aren’t scratching your head later trying to figure out how many cups of “bloot” to add to your cupcakes.
Of course there are lots of other fantastical gifts out there for bakers and destroyers, too many to possibly list in one long-overdue blog. But be sure to check out some stuff from Cakespy, Alleged Medicine (by personal voodoo priest – you think I’m joking, but I have the 21 pennies in my pocket to prove you wrong,) Applenoggin, Circa Ceramics and Everyday is a Holiday for more gift ideas.