Another year has come and another holiday gift guide needs to be made.
As usual, I am keenly aware of how easy to get caught up these days in consumer culture and the incessant shopping whirl that has been come to be known as “The Holiday Season.” I am caught in that deep chasm of a paradox that separates my need to engage in the spiritual preparedness of the season and the reality that I love giving and receiving gifts.
This year I waited to put up my decor until the first weekend of Advent and I hold off putting up the tree until Christmas Eve along with the nativity. This also means I get to keep it all up well past our consumer time table…until the Presentation of Jesus (or Candelmas). Yay!
This season I am trying to rekindle hope and engage further in the magic of the season. In the last few years that lies in the myriad of rituals that anchor the next few months. Lighting the Advent candles, praying at the foot of the nativity, seven fishes at Christmas Eve and marking the doors at Epiphany are just a few of the interesting rituals that lay ahead all through Feb. 2nd. These Catholic rituals bring a rhythm and mystical quality to each day that lies ahead.
With that said, in the spirit of gift giving (a wonderful thing) and the reality of knowing most of us will participate in our own way in this cultural phenomena, I offer you a few options that I own, will gift or have a longing for. When they can they are also in line with my vision of sustainability and locality when possible.
1. Do you love new culinary objects with an old vintage feel? Do you wonder how you might make fresh ground coffee when the zombie apocalypse comes and there might not be electricity? Then you just may fall in love with this Coffee Mill. I use it almost every day for fresh ground coffee in my french press. French presses rule for the coffee lover. Forget all that “pourover” nonesense!
2. If you need coffee with that, I have recently been enjoying Zeke’s. Their Monte Carmelo is to die for. I like my coffee deep and dark though. If you do too then you will love this. In the past I have gifted Zeke’s Coffee to my espresso loving brothers over at the Pittsburgh Oratory with their coffee delivery service.
I also highly recommend the coffee over at Building New Hope. Their mission is phenomenal and I have had the chance to see this firsthand while in Nicaragua years ago. This is real fair trade if you, like I, care about non-poverty wages for farmers.
3. Having just promoted the devious consumption of coffee, there is no way better to have your coffee than with a French Press and there is no way better to have your coffee than with a French Press and the Bodum Chambord.
4. Reusable Grocery Bags. Washable. Stuffable. Lightweight. Holds insane amounts of groceries and anything else. This has become my indispensable bag of choice.
6. If this PieBox invention isn’t the world’s best thing for bakers, what is? I want.
7. Reusable Snack Bags. If you are looking to cut down your plastic Ziploc consumption, these work really well and don’t leak.
7. The Le Creuset Dutch Oven in Cherry Red. It never leaves the top of my stove. It is magic. I gave away most of my other pans since you don’t need more than this.
8. Moms need this. Even as a single gal it has saved my life. The Instapot rocks. Who knew there was something better than just a slow cooker? 6 in 1 action. I use it for all my stocks now, steaming rice as well as a rice cooker as well as soups. This is just a drop in the bucket.
9. Looking for a unique gift for me? Err…or your neighbor? The food subscription service is booming and this one sends out little boxes of artisan food gifts.
9. Only available from November to December, the organic farm Chaffin Orchards has bright & juicy Satsuma Mandarin oranges that ship fast with wonderful customer service.
2. Having a dedicated e-reader that you can worry less about breaking works for kids and for you. It also saves trees. And backaches from carrying so many books. Oh, and it helps to prevent distraction. It is meant for reading!
3. There is so much fantastic young adult literature out there. I am always sharing my current faves in my sidebar if you ever need an interesting and age appropriate book for teens. Some of my/my students’ current faves that would be worth buying and keeping?
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (middle/high)
- Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (elementary/middle)
- The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth (high school)
- The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner (middle to high)
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid Set by Jeff Kinney
- The Complete Harry Potter Collection by J.K. Rowling (all ages)
Other Unique Local Artisan Gifts
1. The brilliant and crafty Shannon creates gorgeous and unique Swarovski jewelry over at Saya Papaya. Her attention to detail is impeccable and I love that part of her proceeds go to Animal Friends in Pittsburgh.
2. The talented young lady Moirin makes some of the most wonderful creams and lotions out there and they are all natural to boot. Her research is thorough and she really cares educating her clients and in crafting the small batch products in her line. Check her products out over at Bridget’s Apothecary.
I hope you have a lovely holiday. Thanks for bearing with my absence. I am returning healthier than ever (With two hearing aids to boot! Yay young hearing loss!) and my recipes will continue to reflect that pursuit.