Boom This! Ezine for Boomers (and Wannabes) 12.03.04

Boom This! Ezine for Boomers (and Wannabes) 12.03.04

By Teri Flatley (
Volume 3 No. 24 December 3, 2004
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In This Issue

. Serendipity: The "It's Not Too Late! Gift Guide"
. Christmas Knits
. Last Minute Holiday Entertaining

Stuck for presents for Aunt Sue and Uncle Roy? Not sure what to give the teenagers in your life? You've come to the right place. This issue of Boom This! contains the ultimate guide for everyone on your gift list. And should you be turned off by some of these high-priced items, Kathleen Ganster writes about how she hand knits gifts for loved ones.

The "It's Not Too Late! Gift Guide"

If you haven't begun your holiday shopping yet, don't panic! What follows is the complete list of what's HOT this season for everyone on your gift list. You might even want to print this out and place it in a strategic spot where someone who buys for you will see it.

Gigantic TVs

. Plasma and flat-screen TVs are high on everyone's gift list this year. Since they come with price tags to match their size, it's best to do a little homework before you buy. (Boomer note: These beauties are so far removed from the first black and white TVs we had as kids. I can remember sneaking down on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons on our first set in the 50s, thinking that was the greatest invention ever.) To read a list of "steps to avoid" before purchasing home entertainment items, visit


. Everyone's a professional photographer these days - or wants to be - and digital cameras can make that happen. As with anything techno, though, you have to do even more homework. We were recently checking out some of the new digitals with interchangeable lenses and found them to be pricey and VERY heavy. Not something you would want to lug around while geocaching or touring the ruins of Pompeii. Figure out what the recipient will do with the camera first and then buy. You can also check out a list of things to avoid when buying a digital camera at


. Now this is a very nice gift for all ages on your gift list. I received one last year and absolutely love the thing. Younger people might want to be hooked up with Apple's iPod Mini, since it's lighter to carry around. But the regular-sized ones aren't too heavy, either. After downloading music from my computer to my 'pod, I use it to listen to music when I drive around or walk. No more need for all those CDs and cases littering up the car. You can browse through as many playlists as you have created with the easy-to-use controls and at the push of a button go from the Beatles to Showtunes to country to the Chairman of the Board. iPods come with lots of accessories these days and can even be used to download books and digital photos and.

DVD Sets

. There are tons of DVDs out there this year, ranging from old TV shows to the latest movies. The hottest set this year, though, might just be the first season's worth of the "Seinfeld" show. The cast of the hit show has been appearing on talk shows to promote the set, including a reunion visit on "Oprah." The Seinfeld show about nothing has held up well in the six years since it left the airways.


. Once thought to be a cop-out to "meaningful" shopping, these cards have earned a new respect from those who receive them. They may come in one size fits all but no one will mind. Choose from cards for favorite restaurants, video or tech stores, bookstores, or some that can be used just like a debit card, anywhere at all. Be careful to read the fine print that comes with each card so there are no surprises when your loved one tries to redeem it.


. Pink is the "it" color this season, as you will notice if you stroll through department stores. Pink combined with furry is an even more popular combination this year as shoppers can choose from ponchos and leather gloves to flip flops and handbags. Of course, the classic gifts like jewelry, perfume and chocolate never go out of style.


. See the fist item in this list. TVs are Big and Bad and any man worth his season tickets wants one. Throw in a stereo system and you have found the penultimate male gift. If your budget doesn't lend itself to spending this kind of dough, give him wine, spirits, a case of beer and/or tickets to his favorite sporting event.


. It won't surprise you to know that there is no must-have item for teenage girls on your gift list this year. They are way too diverse for that. Some ideas for girls include cell phones, CDs, gift certificates, magazine subscriptions, makeup, computer programs, game systems and clothes, clothes and more clothes (although picking these out without the teen's input could be disastrous).

For the young male teens, consider giving game systems, CDs (you will have to inquire about which artists) and baseball and football jerseys. A jersey with the name and number of Pittsburgh Steelers rookie QB Big Ben Roethlisberger is a must-have item this year, with good reason, of course (!).

For older boys, the X Box gaming system and especially the Halo 2 game are "in" this year. Money won't be turned down, either, by these guys who know what they want and where to get it.


. Sponge Bob and friends are a favorite this year as well as the perennial Barbie doll. What's old is new again as toy stores stock Cabbage Patch kids, My Little Pony and Ms. Pac-Man items for holiday sales. You will find these on shelves next to higher-tech toys for the younger set which reflect our society's love of gadgets no matter our age. Guess no one's ever too young for bells and whistles.

Christmas Knits
By Kathleen Ganster

I have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Of course the person diagnosing me is my 15-year-old daughter. But it's true. I really can't sit still and because of that, I knit. I knit while researching on the computer, at red lights, at the bus stop waiting for the kids, while I am watching TV or movies, while I am interviewing people on the phone for the articles I write. As you can imagine, that's a lot of knitting.

There is a good outcome from my addiction, though. I have been able to make a lot of Christmas gifts this year even though I actually started making gifts a long time ago. This past year I knitted my brother a cap to cover his scars from brain surgery. Of course, he had to have a matching scarf to go with it! And so did everyone in my family, all of whom have at least one Kathleen-made scarf.

This year, I am also into fingerless gloves which are incredibly cute; felted purses; little fancier purses; a lap throw for my dad and a couple of caps and a drawstring purse for my daughter. I started early which just means that I have time to find more and more things that need to be made before Christmas.

While some people may think making your own gifts saves money, that usually isn't the case. Last year I made one of my best friends a scarf that cost over $30 in yarn. What knitting gifts does do, however, is allow me to make a gift out of better material than I would be able to afford if I had to buy it ready made.

Knitting also allows me to give a bit of myself. My friend Betsy says this as well. When we knit, we think of the person we are knitting the gift for. With every knitted item, we are sending love, good thoughts and sometimes sweat and tears. I always say when you wear one of my scarves, it is like I am hugging you. I can't even begin to tell you the love and prayers that went into my brother's hat. And if there is a slight flaw or error, so what? It will just remind the recipient of me, flaws and all.

If you would like a simple scarf pattern to knit, please email me at and I will be happy to email it to you.

Last Minute Holiday Entertaining
By Rita Venturino

The holiday season can be very stressful especially when unexpected guests visit. You may be frantic wondering what you are going to serve to make your guests feel welcome. Be a hero and a kitchen diva by whipping up these quick and easy appetizers. Your guests will leave wondering how you knew they were coming!

Some essential staples to stock during the season:

. Italian bread - long and narrow. You can keep it in the freezer until you need it.
. Prepared pasta sauce-homemade or jarred.
. Fresh tomatoes.
. Fresh garlic-no "lazy garlic" accepted.
. Extra virgin olive oil.
. Fresh ground black pepper and sea salt.
. Italian seasonings-fresh if possible.
. Cream cheese-not fat free (reduced fat OK).
. Pesto-homemade or jarred.
. Crackers of choice.

With these few ingredients, you can whip up the following appetizers in minutes.

Bruschetta w/Chopped Tomatoes

. Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

. Defrost bread if frozen. Slice diagonally, then arrange on a baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Bake until dry but not brown.

. While bread is toasting:

~~ Peel garlic clove

~~ Dice two fresh tomatoes, draining and removing as many seeds as possible.

~~ Place tomatoes in a mixing bowl and add 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning or chopped fresh basil and salt and pepper to taste.

. When bread is toasty, remove from oven and rub the garlic on bread. It is amazing the garlic flavor that is released onto the bread.

. Top with diced tomatoes mixture.

Pesto Cream Cheese Spread

. Choose a decorative large serving plate to compliment the color of the pesto and cream cheese.

. Allow cream cheese to warm slightly at room temperature.

. Set the cream cheese on the serving plate and pour the pesto over the top.

. You can get really creative by garnishing with fresh holly if available or with diced fresh tomatoes.

. Arrange the crackers around the perimeter of the serving plate.

Oops! I almost forgot the vino.

These are a few quick and easy ideas to prepare you for that last minute visitor. If you need more ideas, please email me at

Rita offers many Italian menus at her cooking school which can be viewed by visiting The 2005 Winter/Spring class schedule will be published the week of December 20 for those of you lucky enough to live in the Pittsburgh, PA area. Get a jump on honing your culinary skills for 2005 by visiting Rita in her Italian kitchen.

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