Tag Archive for: christmas shopping

Gifts for Writers

by Sparkle Abbey

We wanted to do a little something different this year with
our December post. Most everyone knows writers love notebooks, pens, and basic
office supplies, but for those of you with a special writer in your life who
are stumped for gift ideas beyond the usual, we’ve got 5 suggestions ranging
from $10 to $500.

Aqua Notes –The best ideas come in
the shower…or when we’re folding laundry. With these bad boys, that special writer
in your life will never forget that amazing idea that popped into their head in
the middle of lathering up.  Possible
side effect:  A “To Do” list waiting for
that special someone who was waiting to use the shower.

Storiatrs Fingerless gloves
You’ve probably seen these on your Facebook Feed…or maybe you haven’t if you’re
not a writer. These fabulous gloves keep a writer’s hands warm, while keeping
their fingers free to fly across the keyboard. What makes these gloves special
is that they’re covered in text from classic novels.  Storiarts also carries scarves, T-Shirts and
pillow covers.

Coffee shop gift card
– You’ve seen the memes, “Coffee: The official Fuel of Writers,”  “One simply does not start writing without
coffee,” “Writer on deadline, please send coffee.” Not
only do writers love their coffee, they love their local coffee shops.  Writing at a coffee shop can be productive,
provides a time limit to meet their word count, and is great for people
watching. A gift card to their favorite coffee shop is always a winner!

Noise canceling
– Writers can be easily distracted, but once we’re in our fictional
world we’re great at blocking the real world around us. Help the writer in your
life focus on putting words on the page with a pair of noise cancelling
headphones. Whether they listen to music or peace and quiet, a pair of these
can help with their productivity. C/Net
ranked the best noise cancelling headphones of 2016. If those are out of your
price range, here’s a
list of options from Amazon

Standing desk
As a writer, we spend a lot of time BICHOK-ing (bottom in chair, hands on
keyboard). The medical community has shouted at us for years that too much
sitting is bad for our health. Maybe it’s time to consider a standing
desk.  Now, before you whip out that
credit card and spend a large sum of money on our well-intentioned suggestion,
you might want to consider gently probing your writer if this is something
they’re interested in. Swapping out sitting all day for standing all day isn’t
necessarily the best idea. It might be better to ease into it by alternating
between sitting and standing. There are a number of standing desks on the
market.  We suggest Googling “Height-Adjustable
Standing Desk”
and find the best option for your writer.

So those are our top 5 picks. 

Okay, we have one more idea. If these aren’t creative enought for you, check out Etsy
for some unique and fun ideas. Etsy has everything from bookmarks, to mugs, to

As for our fellow writers, if there’s a gift out there
you’re just dying to receive, let us know. We might be interested too!

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of two mystery authors (Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter). They are friends and neighbors as well as co-writers of the Pampered Pets Mystery Series. The pen name was created by combining the names of their rescue pets–Sparkle (Mary Lee’s cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog). If you want to make sure you’re up on all the Sparkle Abbey news, stop by their website and sign up for updates at sparkleabbey.com.

Feeling Blessed

By Sparkle Abbey

holiday season is in full swing. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday…all were
officially over in a swift five days. Unlike us, most of you have probably not
only finished your Christmas shopping, but have your gifts wrapped, and tucked
tenderly under your beautifully decorated Christmas tree.

were we doing while you stashing your presents under the tree the Saturday
after Thanksgiving? We were getting our hair done. Yes, we go to the same salon
and see the same hairstylist. Sheron has been taming our locks for almost ten
years now. While we were sitting under the dryer, in our deep conditioning
stage, we were talking about how we’ve gotten caught up in the business side of
writing and in the process have forgotten to share with you how much fun we
have behind the scenes. (No, we don’t have a photo of us with colored hair and
a plastic bag on our head. ) 

Colleen’s Turkey.
So before we get too caught up in the great hunt for the
perfect gifts, we wanted to spend a few more minutes to share some Thanksgiving Day
moments with our families. So here’s a few “behind the scenes” snapshots or our peeps. We ate fabulous food, created turkey themed
decorations, played games, and Skyped with loved ones who couldn’t be with us. 
Evie’s Turkey.
Group Selfie.

One of us even tried our hand at making dessert in a jar. We’ve
posted the recipe at the end of the blog. It turned out pretty darned good.
Maybe we’ve got a cooking mystery series in us after all. 

Serious gaming.

hope your Thanksgiving was filled with love, laughter, family, and friendship. We’d love to hear how you
spent your Thanksgiving. Did you stay home? Did you travel? Did your brave the
crowds and shop ‘til you dropped?
Pecan Jar Dessert

Yes, this is a photo of the actual dessert. Yum!


  • 12 Wide mouth ½ pint jars
  • 1 can (15oz) pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • (or 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon allspice)
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream, for serving


Step 1. Preheat oven to 350*F
Step 2. Lightly spray 12, wide mouth 1/2 pint jars with non-stick cooking spray. Place on large cookie sheet and set aside.
Step 3. In a large bowl combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, and spices. Whisk together until combined completely.
Step 4. Pour ½ C of the pumpkin mixture into each jar. Use a measuring cup for best results.
Step 5. Sprinkle heaping tablespoons of dry cake mix on top of pumpkin layer. Gently spread cake mix to cover pumpkin as evenly as possible.
Step 6. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped pecans on top of cake mix.
Step 7. Pour 1 tablespoon of melted butter on top of pecans. Jars should be filled almost to the top. Once baked, dessert will rise to fill jar.
Step 8. Bake jars on a large baking sheet (so they are easy to put in and out of the oven) for about 40 minutes. Test doneness with a toothpick. Inserted in the center of a jar, if it comes out clean, it’s done. Dessert should be golden brown.
Step 9. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

If desired, serving with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top.

Once cooled, the dessert will shrink some, leaving the enough room to seal jar with lid. If you’re going to give dessert away as a gift, jars should be completely cooled before sealing. Wrap with your favorite holiday ribbon. Sealed dessert will stay fresh for 5 – 6 days.

Recipe Source: Betty Crocker, Holiday Recipes booklet, 2000.

To stay up on the latest news, new releases or upcoming appearances, sign up for the Sparkle Abbey newsletter atwww.sparkleabbey.com 

All I Want for Christmas is Escada Couture Swarovski Crystal Jeans

by Susan McBride’s Second Cousin Once Removed, Tiffany Van Cleef Arpel

My dear cousin, Ms. Susan, has to get cracking on a book deadline, so I told her I’d fill in on the blog today, offering my always fabulous holiday shopping tips. If I’d left Susan to discuss the subject, she’d be all about “Take care to mind your budget, blah blah blah.” Budget? Hello! That word’s not even in my vocabulary, unless my stable hand says, “Hey, Tiff, can’t seem to get Appletini’s ass out of the stall, even when I try to budge it.”
Look, I’ve done my best to pick out truly reasonable items for everyone on your gift list (meaning: me, me, me!); so don’t panic, even if your trust fund is tied up in litigation because your money manager finally got caught running his silly ol’ Ponzi scheme. I know how to spot a bargain, particularly if it’s really sparkly. So without further ado, here are my awesome recommendations!  No need to thank me.

A pink leopard guitar for a piddly $9,900. It’s, like, musical art with a mahogany neck, rosewood finger board, and hand-applied Swarovski crystals. Do I know how to play the guitar? Heck, no! Well, not any better than Brittany Spears knows how to sing without Auto-Tune. But I’m a rock chick at heart so I’d just wear this puppy around my neck instead of pearls.

While you’re pretending to play that guitar, you’ll need to look hot, right? So how about a pair of Escada Couture Swarovski Crystal Jeans, available at Neiman Marcus for a mere $10,000. Honestly, you can never have too many jeans, and why not have some that glitter like the Vegas strip when you’re caught in the headlights of your boyfriend’s Lamborghini? Just be really careful about wiping sweaty palms on your thighs when you’re wearing these babies, as you can cut yourself up pretty good. (Don’t ask.)

If you like something simpler, you can always go with the Dolce & Gabbana Astrakhan Jeans, which are incredibly priced at $3,950. It’s like stealing, I swear.

For the very special woman on your list who likes things soft and fuzzy (and that’s me, me, me!), how about a lovely and practical Louis Vuitton mink scarf, a mere pittance at $1,710. It can double as a mink pillow if you stay at a hotel where the sheets smell too bleachy (yeah, Paris Hilton, and you can tell you dad I said so!).

Not into scarves? Then go for J. Mendel silver fox vest (price tag: $5,475). Though I’m afraid my arms would get cold, so, please, spring for both. You wouldn’t want me wandering into Donald Trump’s Christmas Eve bash hacking up phelgm ‘cuz I’ve got pneumonia, now would you?

The perfect outfit for any holiday party is the little black dress, and Miu Miu has the cutest ruffled one for a paltry $820. I know. What a deal, huh? And since you’ll only wear it once, you won’t feel like you’re getting ripped off or anything.

You’re probably saying, “Tiff, my God! What fantastico ideas! Surely you can’t have more?”

Ah, but I do.

Like this little gem: Faraone Mennella for Carolina Herrera citrine, rose quartz and pink tourmaline brooch. It’s understated yet pretty as my picture. “But what’s that cost, Tiff?” I hear you asking. To which I reply, “You can easily afford it AND the mortgage payments on your villa in Tuscany without selling off those Rembrandt etchings.” $14,000. Yes, that’s right. Unbelievable, huh? So make it two, please!

If you’re wondering about New Year’s Eve ‘cause you’d like to bring a bottle of bubbly to that party Skip and Bitsy Vanderhaven are throwing in Greenwich, my suggestion would be to take them a set of Hermes cocktail glasses (just $400 a glass) and the Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne 1990 ($231). I guarantee Skip and Bitsy will be your pals for life, or at least until they run out of the Cristal.
And, finally, the perfect holiday present. One that will never be returned or re-gifted. Here goes (drumroll, please, Ringo): a yoga retreat at Hotel Tugu in Bali. At $2,590 per couple x four nights, it’s even cheaper than the jeans!
So there you are, my darlings. Just have your valet and/or your personal assistant wrap ’em up, and you can call it a day. It was a lot easier than you thought, wasn’t it? Because life is too short to waste a lot of time in places called “The Galleria” when you could be at the spa, getting high colonics and Brazilian bikini waxes and your eyebrows plucked to smithereens.
If you need further inspiration, just repeat this ditty (my personal mantra): “Gucci, Pucci, Prada, Fendi, nothing’s wrong with being trendy.”
Ciao, babies…and happy shopping!
(Note from Susan:  Tiffany wrote this lovely piece for me a few years back so some of the prices may have changed, although I’m not sure if that matters much, if ya know what I mean.)