Presents! Presents! Presents!

And where the hell have YOU been?

Oh right.  I’m the one who disappeared.  Well, I’m back now so listen up.

I got PRESENTS!  Presents, presents, P R E S E N T S!  And I would like to take this opportunity to show them off.  Because we’re never too old to show off our stuff.  You’d think as an adult you’d grow out of that sort of thing, but no.  Adults still like to show off their stuff.  Especially scabs and scars.

No matter how old a person gets they never get too old to show off a good scrape.  And there’s nothing more insulting than someone who refuses to look at your bloody, puss filled elbow.

Bunch of sissies.

So.  Onto the showing off of the presents.  As the song goes … these are a few of my favourite things.


Every summer when we go to the cottage this cookbook is up there.   Taunting me.  The fella’s father’s wife owns it and normally cooks something from it when we’re there.  She uses the cottage for experimenting with complicated cooking.  I use the cottage as an excuse to eat hotdogs for 7 days straight.  All meals, all the time.

But there’s that thing in the back of my mind screaming that I’d love this cookbook for when I’m at home.  Everything she’s ever made out of it is delicious.  So some time in August I held this cookbook over my head and proclaimed it was the only gift I would accept for Christmas!  I did a little elf like dance and topped it off by barking like a dog.

Then I ate a hotdog.

I got the cookbook for Christmas.

It’s definitely not for the faint of heart or a quick Tuesday night meal, but if you’re looking for a cookbook with restaurant quality results this is the one you should get.

As far as I can tell, it does not include a single “true food“.  Much to the chagrin of the fella’s father’s.

Sunday Suppers

 Buy it in USA

 Buy it in Canada


Oh my.  I got a shockingly appropriate gift.  A screen printed Maple Syrup jug by Montreal artist Marianne Chenard.  I love it.  It is appropriate for me on a variety of levels, not the least of which is I make my own Maple Syrup.   My maple syrup is all bottled up from last year, so my niece (who gave me the jug) also gave me a can of pure Maple Syrup to fill it up with.  Come March or April I’ll be filling it with syrup from my own tree.  ‘Cause my life is perfect and nothing ever goes wrong and I knit my own slippers and make my own syrup.  On occasion I bark like a dog though.  So … my life is a balance of perfection and “Wow.  Freak. Sucks to be her“.

I love my jug.  There’s nothing better than having things you use every day be beautiful and artistic.

Maple Syrup Jug

 Buy it in USA or Canada


When I adding an extra nesting box to my coop this fall I hit a bit of a roadblock.  I needed to cut a hole in one of the coop walls.  The worrisome part was the fact that I needed to cut the hole for the nesting box right next to a wall.  What that means is the space was too small for a regular jig saw.  I needed something that would cut perfectly flat up against a corner.  If you understand the horrifying dilemma I was in, you’ll appreciate the brilliance of this gift.  If you’re staring blankly … please feel free to move on to the next gift.

I ran to my neighbours Jane and Grant to borrow a tool.  Can’t even remember which one.  When I ran back with it I mentioned the problem I was having and Grant, who installs Ikea kitchens for a living, handed me this little sucker.  I used it, immediately put it on my Christmas list, told the fella about it, dragged him to the hardware store, made him take a picture of it with his cellphone while I watched to make sure he did it and left it at that.  Then I crossed my fingers and hoped fella would be able to pick up on my subtle hints.

I got the Dremel for Christmas.


 Buy it in the USA

Buy it in Canada

 Who knew I needed THESE?!   Not me.  But I did!

So when the fella got them for Christmas from one of my sisters I quickly claimed them as my own.


 Buy it in the USA or Canada


O.K.  This *may* just be my favourite present.  If you have a small farm or backyard chickens or a … car wash business perhaps, THIS is the thing to buy.  It’s a heated hose that you can keep hooked up outside even in freezing temperatures.  It has a small heat trace running around it so the water will flow all winter long. No more lugging the chicken water bucket into the house, slopping chicken spit all over the floor, filling it up in the sink and sloshing it out of the kitchen into the freezing cold yard.

I didn’t even know such a thing existed.  Which makes for a GREAT present.

Heated Hose

 Buy it in the USA

 Buy it in Canada


Drinking Glasses in the shape of a milk bottle.  That say cat milk on them.  Not more I need to say about these really.

Drinking Glasses

 Buy it in the USA

 Buy it in Canada or the USA

It is now time for the Ta Da.

The final present I’m going to show you was given to me by one of my sisters.  The sister who likes to cook.  Not the sister who likes to build.  If I got the two of them together for a day or so in my backyard we’d have all the makings for a franchised chicken restaurant.

Anyhow .. the present.  Another cookbook.  This one will take a place of pride somewhere in the kitchen.  I present to you … The True Foods Cookbook.

True Food

 Buy it in the USA

Buy it in Canada



Thank you for putting up with the soft open of The Art of Doing Stuff.  Come next week I’ll be back into the full swing of actual posts and not resorting to talking about presents and scabs.

Although, I’ll probably still talk about scabs.  And toots too.  Now if you’ll excuse me all this talk of cookbooks and cat’s milk has made me hungry.  Time to whip up a microwaved hotdog on a piece of white bread.


  1. Janelle says:

    These are wonderful “do stuff” presents…cooking, sawing, watering, drinking, writing and…syrupping? Poof, it’s a verb. I love that you shamelessly demand specific Xmas gifts and that you remorselessly steal the gifts of others. You may be interested in what turned out to be my favourite gift this year…”Bossypants” by Tina Fey. Seriously funny!

  2. Judy says:

    I am SO a cat lady and very disappointed when I find that these glasses are no longer available. Where or where can I get these? I think since my cats feel that my water glasses are on the table just for them that I should drink from glasses that look like they’re made for my two black beauties.
    Anyone come across another site that sells these???

  3. Stefanie says:

    Syrup in cans & milk in bags?! I think this means a trip to Canada!

  4. mommynearest says:

    Oh, I so wanted the Dremel, it is on my Amazon wish list. Going to add the heated hose, what a good idea!

  5. Rebecca says:

    So send me the PO box address and you’ll get your very own used copy of Chickens. It’s the least I can do for so many entertaining reads. There’s an article called “Birds with Curves: Meet 5 Large Breeds,” but much to my husband’s chagrin, no centrefold.

  6. dana gault says:

    OMG do you not have True Food Kitchen restaurants in Canada? I am soooo spoiled because I live not far from the one in Scottsdale AZ, and it is to die for……but I would imagine your cookbook will yield the very same, impossibly delicious meals. Loved your gift recap. Happy, happy New Year!

    • Karen says:

      Dana. No, we don’t have the restaurants here. I made the kale salad and we love it. We’ve had it almost every night since I got the book. I just happen to grow the black kale it calls for in my front yard! We’ve had a couple of big snow falls though and I think my kale might finally be done for now though. – karen!

      • dana gault says:

        Well, it’s a trade-off, then, because while we have the restaurants, we can’t grow kale in Phoenix, unless by kale you mean cactus, which makes a s@*$%y salad!

      • Bobbi says:

        ok, anything with kale is amazing…’s about sharing a version of the recipe that won’t break any copyright laws ?

  7. as i was lugging the goats’ water pail in today (which i am not strong enough to carry well and they DO splash all over and i care less about the water in my basement than that i can never actually get the bucket that full) i was thinking i would become rich inventing a heated hose.


    but at least now i won’t have to lug those water pails anymore! thanks for the tip!

    • Karen says:

      Mine still isn’t hooked up. (needed to wait until the Christmas lights were shut off so I could use the plug they were in). It’ll be up and running tomorrow and I *can’t* wait! ~ k

  8. Barbie says:

    Welcome back Karen…..Missed you!!! Love all your gifts, especially that hose!! I am getting one….I love Laura W’s idea…backyard rink!

  9. Teresa Messick says:

    Love the Dremmel–have one! Love the True Food cookbook–need one! Love the pencils and the milk glasses–a little bit funky and totally unexpected! My hubs gave me the coolest garden hose. IT”S PURPLE! Yes, purple! With a matching purple metal long-reach nozzle. Watering the Garden of Eatin’ in the searing heat of July in Alabama will never be the same! Happy New Year and thanks for sharing your nifty-gifties!

  10. lori says:

    wow what great gifts you got!!
    I love them all. is the dremel you got the newest one? Saw it on TV the other night. It’s like a jig saw but you don’t have to be at the edge of the board to start sawing.( is that even a word?)
    going to have to check out the glasses~~
    Glad your back!~

  11. Annie says:

    It’s my birthday! I got cool presents too!
    Thanks for the post….. Your family is almost as cool as mine for picking out brill gifts!

  12. Rebecca says:

    My husband gave me a copy of Chickens magazine as a joke in my stocking. Said he couldn’t stop laughing at the store. I just kept thinking I bet Karen would like it. I should send it to her. But then I realized you probably don’t give out your address to random people on the internet, because you’re smart like that.

  13. rktrixy says:

    I thought I was getting the dremel, which was on my wish list. But I got the espresso maker which was also on the wish list. Totally surprised me, which is part of the point of a gift. And it’s yummy.

  14. PJR says:

    HI Karen,
    FYI, I also received a dremel multimax tool a few years ago for xmas and I love it. I use it waaaay too often and occasionally the brushes get stuck. If it happens to you just give it a few good whacks with a hammer, sometimes it works. I think mine just died for good. ;(

  15. jessica says:

    welcome back. missed your liveliness. you make me laugh. talking cookbooks ( that i have not bought but think look interesting after hearing interview with author on NPR ) is one called “inspired vegan” by Bryant Terry. i read a sample on amazon and when i come into a few bucks it may be purchased. happy new year!

  16. Susan says:

    I have two Dremel’s – cordless and corded, but not the saw one. Maybe for my birthday! The other gifts are very much you, so it’s obvious you’re very loved. I’m very loved, also. I got a set of three air brushes and an air compressor! I’ve set up a paint booth in the upstairs bathtub that we never use. LOL! I’m learning to use it with acrylics, but will be moving on to fabric paints and dyes shortly, to make my own designs. Other gifts were a safety rotary cutter handle, a sewing table, and some art brushes for when the air brush isn’t fine enough, or I’m not talented enough with it. I’m set for this year!

  17. Lynn says:

    WooHoo! I got a Dremel too this year to replace the one I killed last year! The cooler part of it was I was also given a remote drive for it. I know that I won’t use it every time I pull out the Dremel but it will come in handy when my goal is to drill a perfect hole in all of the 400 acorns I collected to make the perfect garland. I know you can relate! The kitty bottles were a gift last year by my sister – one of my clutzy children broke one – now I will go buy another because they are simply cuter in twos (the bottles, not the children!):)

    • Kathy says:

      I collected acorns thinking that I would use them for some “projects”. A friend of ours warned me that they would get worms. Sure enough – worms started showing up and the acorns went to the garbage. :>( Is there a way to prevent the worms?

  18. Shauna says:

    Awesome gifts Karen and great to have you back. My son actually received those same pencils from my Dad and I keep eyeing them thinking I can swipe them for own use.

  19. Janet says:

    I too…would love to have a Dremel. I’ve looked at them enough at the local HD when my hubby is with me…you’d think that would be a pretty good hint….I never thought to try an Elf dance….I wonder if they’d throw me out of HD? Anyway, why I didn’t just ask for one I don’t know. I’ll try that one of these days. I did get some cool stuff so as far a gifts, a good Christmas. Both my kids home…made it the best. So glad you are back, and Happy New Year!

    • Pati says:

      No, Janet, I know FOR A FACT they WILL NOT throw you out of Home Depot for doing the Elf Dance… I work there and we see MUCH MUCH WORSE than that !!! LOLOL

  20. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Looks like you had a great holiday..I hope you didn’t miss me too much..Love the cat lady glasses..the jug..never saw maple syrup in cans here..the True Foods you don’t have to wonder what to cook for the Fella’s Dad..Did the Fella get anything cool other than the pencils that you stole from him!!..So glad that you are’s hard to get through a day without your usual dose of craziness!!

  21. DianneT says:

    Welcome back, Karen!!

    Great gifts. Your family knows you well. You’d think most families would (know each other that is.) I love the cookbooks and the maple syrup jug. Happy New Year!

  22. carey says:

    show off. i got an xl big dog night shirt. first of all, i hate night shirts, and i am not an xl (yet). ah well, at least they tried. happy 2013!! if that is any kind of a sign, this year has to be better than last! lol!!

  23. Stacy.P says:

    Oh la la! I like presents! Due to apartment life I don’t really have any need for a heated hose or a dremel saw. All the other presents are LOVELY! I would <3 get any of them!
    Thanks Karen!

  24. Marion says:

    I almost bought those pencils for my husband!!! Crazy. I like how you’re displaying them. Glad you had a wonderful Christmas! Now get to work cooking and building things woman. Show us some scabs next week.

  25. Thera says:

    Great gifts! Love the glasses and the jug!
    I got (drum roll please)
    A coonskin hat which I love love love! In Europe it’s the fashion for women to wear it with the tail at the side (that’s my story and I am sticking to it).
    I also got a gorgeous sweater, an ereader, a fuzzy purse and a beautiful brooch.

  26. says:

    Great haul!

  27. Debbie Neal says:

    I can’t decide which of your gifts I like the most! The Dremel is super cool. I would get one just to see what I could do with it. We are crafty that way.
    The cat lady glasses are way up there though. My sis in law volunteers for the local shelter and traps cats so they can spay and neuter them and then they let them go so they can do their cat thing. I think she would love them!!

  28. Mary Werner says:

    Cat lady glasses ordered before they ran out since I know they will go fast (HA) and can now come back and tell you thanks and missed you. Checked back 1st and 2nd just in case you decided to type something on NY which you could have done with a hot dog in your mouth – I know – but glad you really did take time!

  29. Jodi T. says:

    Welcome back Karen!

  30. shuckclod says:

    Great gifts you got! I have to get those cat glasses :) I have a dremel too. The Syrup jug is so sweet. I love the beaver… Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait for the scabs, love gross stuff. No sissy here.

  31. Stefanie says:

    Cool gifts- but I’m floored by maple syrup in a can! Is this in Canada only?

    • Kathy says:

      I picked up on that too, Stefanie. I am wondering the same thing.

    • Karen says:

      We get Maple Syrup in glass bottles or cans. It’s mainly in glass bottles, but you can also always find it in a can. It’s fun either way. :) And here in Ontario our milk comes in plastic bags. ~ karen!

  32. Paul says:

    Sorry, I was so busy I didn’t notice you were gone :)

    I like the heated hose!

  33. Marika says:

    I’m so pleased you got a Marianne Chenard maple syrup jug. I went to her vernisage at a really great pottery studio in Quebec City in the spring. (Disclaimer** my friend and pottery teacher is one of the founders). We were all instructed to wear plaid flannel and there was maple taffy on snow outside. Was fun. Other gifts are cool too!

  34. JebberA says:

    Super nice gifties! Happy 2013 to you and your fella! Looking forward to a post about that sweater you’re knitting. If you show me yours I’ll show you mine.

  35. Phyllis Kraemer says:

    Glad you are back!!! I’m so glad that Valentine’s is just around the corner…I think I’ll ask Cupid for the heated hose…!! Santa did bring me an Ashley English book!…

  36. ev says:

    Nice gifts Karen. Getting something you REALLY wanted is great. My adult children heard me this year–a contribution to Heifer international! A fabulous gift! The “Sunday Suppers” book should be fun–we all will wait with bated breath as you report (and share!) the wonderful suppers you make from it! Happy New Year Karen!

  37. jane says:

    True food Kitchen was one of the highlights of. Our last trip to Newport Beach. Everything is delicious. Lucky you….

  38. Erica Filpi says:

    Nice loot. i don’t have any scabs to share, but I got a beautiful charm bracelet that includes my kids, boyfriend, dogs, and things that make me, well me… candles.. coffee cups (one decorated by my 19 year old that made me tear up)… gift cards… blankets… wine opener… wine glass… laptop. But the best present was just seeing my kids happy. Ahem, I won’t give up any presents though.

  39. magali says:

    you really made me want a hot dog.

  40. Violet says:

    Awesome goodies!

    This brings up a Stuff I desperately need someone *cough, cough* to explain The Art Of Doing for me…

    I love to make and fix things, and after years of friends saying, “You need a Dremel,” I finally bought one, along with a ton of add-ons. But I still have absolutely no idea what, exactly, a Dremel does or how to use it. I opened the boxes, sat drooling over all the bits and pieces, and just went, “Hunh … I have no idea what to DO with any of this.” That was six months ago. I know Dremels have a million different uses (because that’s what the Internet keeps telling me every I try to find out more), but that’s all I know. I’ve repaired washing machines, built tables, and snaked unimaginable things out of every kind of drain there is, yet I cannot seem to figure this little sucker out.

    Please, please, please, would you consider writing a post or making a video demonstrating some of the uses of a Dremel for us?

    • Janet says:

      I second this request…no one does a demo like Karen!

      • Violet says:

        True! And there’s always the possibility chickens might be involved! I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dremel has a feather-fluffing or beak-polishing doohickey.

        • Pati says:

          BRAVO ! Sounds like a great tutorial for another post! How bout it,Karen ??? Are you going to give your loyal subjects what they want or are we to languish about,only wishing we knew as much as you at the Dremel tool ???

  41. Tricia Rose says:

    I was underwhelmed by the Dremel, but from your enthusiasm I suppose it did the job. Mostly I’m impressed by how well your present-givers know you. Cat milk container! who’d have thunk it?

  42. Meg says:

    Happy New Year! And Merry Christmas! And thanks for the posts! Here’s to 2013 and enjoying your presents, and seeing posts with what kind of things you can cook and/or dremel!

  43. Bols says:

    You will have lots of fun with the Dremel. I have had the cordless miniDremel (yes, it’s a thing, as Susan Boyle would say) for years and years. In fact, I am on my second one. The second one (purchased about 10 years after the 1st one) is more powerful than the first one. Primarily, I use the Dremel for – he he he he – to give my dogs a pedicure. The cordless works better in that sense because I need to be able to sneak up on them when hey are cockroaching on the couch (greyhounds cockroach a LOT, if you didn’t know). Before they know it, one paw is done and then they realize they may as well let me do another one. The fourth one is usually a struggle but I am used to that.
    Anyway, so my little Dremel is my best friend. It is powerful enough for a few other jobs (I have a few of the additional attachments, too).
    Long live the Dremel!

    • Karen says:

      Bols – I actually do have a regular dremel. This Dremel is more like a saw. It’s all very exciting. ~ karen!

      • Pati says:

        I LUUUUUUURVE my Dremels ! I love woodworking and had the Multi-Max but wanted to Trio more so I exchanged it. I will get the Multi Max again eventually. I also have a regular Dremel. I had the battery-powered ones but like the corded ones better.

  44. Susan says:

    Nice gifts!!! Wanna trade families? I got a Staples “Easy” button, an enormous fake gem, and some makeup ( which I don’t wear) with instructions on how to use it. Next year I’m throwing out everything my family sends and buying my own stuff! Christmas presents aren’t supposed to make you cry!

    • Pati says:

      Awwwww…Susan, my heart just aches for you…that happened to me Christmas,2011. Wish I knew you…I would send you something. <3

  45. Kat says:


  46. Marti says:

    Cool glasses. Might get me off my “no matching glasses” kick at the house. But I have one question.

    The fella’s Dad is a doctor named Andrew Weil? Because I did not see that one coming.

  47. Raymonde says:

    Wow! I never heard of a heated hose! That is so brilliant!!! I also love those cat milk glasses!

    I also got great presents, but I’m much more excited about what I gave!!! A lot of hand knit and hand picked gifts, chosen and made over many months. They were all a huge success!!! I really got it right this year, yeah!!! :-)

    It would be interesting to know what presents you gave to your loved ones…

  48. Chris says:

    I’m so going to get those cat milk glasses!! They will go great with my husbands Dexter(tv show) drinking glasses. Can you see them on the dining table when we have company? Okay, maybe you can’t actually see my dining table but you get the idea.

  49. Laura Watt says:

    Whoa! heated hose?! Now that’s how to make a back yard rink.

  50. Mindy says:

    First of all, you stole my pencil holder idea. I’m sitting here looking at my pens and pencils poking out of the exact same glass frog. You’ll probably get famous for it. Hmpf.
    Second of all, your gifts are all awesome. I love that you got a tool. And cookbooks. And pretty containers. But I’d like to brag a little, too, if you don’t mind. I got a new camera. A fancy one. I’m graduating from a point and shoot and I’m pretty damned excited about it. It was on my wish list, but so was a new kitchen. And a million dollars. In my mind, they were all in the same category. So it was an ENORMOUS surprise. Now I just need to learn how to use it. And I’m waiting for the hubs to announce that we’re on a top ramen dinner budget for the next six months. :)

    • Karen says:

      Mindy – Congratulations on your new camera! One tip. If you can find one locally, take a class or two. I took a few courses and it was the best thing I did in terms of better understanding my camera. Secondly … I did a post on the pencil holder about a year ago. :) ~ karen!

      • Mindy says:

        I’m actually looking into classes at our community college. I think it would be so fun and a great way to learn things other than how to turn it on. Ha!
        Checked out the frog post….clearly great minds think alike….the holder and the show. :)
        Happy New Year, by the way.

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