This year, as always, I have selected a few items that are useful and affordable, and a few others that are decorative and a little bit pricier. If they don’t catch your fancy, I’d also suggest checking out my gift guides from previous years. I don’t repeat items so there are plenty of ideas there including organic seed sets, great gift certificates, tools, the best hose ever (p.s. see their ad at the side for 20% off), and more.
All photos are copyright to their respective shops.
Bogs Ultra High Boots $135: Davin has worn a pair of these over the last few seasons and he loves them (his are olive green). We originally thought they’d make a good spring garden boot, suitable for slogging through the early season muck, but since they are rated down to -40 degrees F, they have turned out to be a warm and durable winter boot as well. He wears them on long winter walks with the dog or days when it’s exceptionally cold and snowy. The handles make it easier to pull them on. Also available in women’s sizes. I hope to upgrade eventually myself as I am still wearing cheaper gardening rain boots that do not do double duty as winter wear.
It’s that time of year. Let’s do this!
Stay tuned as I’ll have more projects to make within the next month as well as my usual holiday gifts to buy.
Yee Olde Merry Basket of Preserves: A basket or box (tip: I look for good quality ones at thrift stores throughout the year), some tissue paper, a few jars of dried herbs and fruit, pickles, jam, ketchup, etc and you’ve got yourself a gift that anyone who eats food (as-in all of us) will enjoy. I give some version of this gift so often that some friends just flat out tell me what they want ahead of time. This is fine by me as it saves the guesswork.
For the Cook:
Schmidt Brothers – 15 PC. Knife Set with Block $165.32 CAD: This sleek knife set probably won’t cut it in a professional kitchen, but it is a good deal and well above average for the home cook who doesn’t mind putting in the extra care that is needed to preserve the beautiful acacia wood handles and block.
Cuisinart Cast Iron Enamaled Dutch Oven $60-130 US: If you want the best dutch oven that will last a lifetime, get a Le Cruset. You really do get what you pay for. But for those of us who can’t make that investment, a more affordable Cusinart pot is a reasonable alternative. I have two: a 3-quart and a 5-quart that I got on sale at Winners, the Canadian TJ Maxx. I honestly didn’t realize how useful these pots would be until I got them. The smaller of the two quickly became my go-to pot and is used daily, if not multiple times per day. The white enamel interior has suffered some staining from added use as a jam making pot (I hear that Le Cruset pots don’t stain as easily as they have more layers), but other than that it is in really good condition and I expect to get plenty more years out of it.
GreenPan Non-Stick Fry-Pan Set $82.77 CAD We’ve tried a handful of “eco-friendly” ceramic, non-stick pans over the years and like all cookware it comes down to this: you get what you pay for. All of the cheaper pans we tried were crap, losing their coating quickly with careful use, or simply not working at all. We bought a 2-piece set of GreenPans very similar to this about 3 years back and they’ve been great. Although, there is some noticeable wear and tear, it’s in keeping with what you’d expect with daily use. I do agree with some consumers that they can be difficult to clean, but beyond that we’ve been really happy with ours.
For the Home Baker
Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours by Kim Boyce $19.77 US: This is our go-to book when we are baking from a recipe at home. No other baking book has seen nearly as much use as this one. While I have been baking primarily with spelt flour for years now, when I bought it in 2010, this book really pushed me to start experimenting with other overlooked grains such as buckwheat and barley. I also like that many of the recipes aren’t sugar-heavy. P.S. I have tried all of the scone recipes and while I tend to cut back further on the amount of sugar used, they are all really exceptional. This book is worth it for those recipes alone
Brass Frond Earrings $45 US: This Australian jewelry designer makes gorgeous and sustainably produced wearable art that is inspired by nature. Her work reminds me of walking along a beach or through a field picking up little bits of water-worn glass and pebbles or beautiful leaves and putting them in my pocket to be rediscovered later. I love everything she makes and splurged on a pair of these simple oxidized silver twig earrings a few months ago so I can personally attest to the quality of her work.
Water Right’s Ultra-light Drinking Water Safe Polyurethane Hose $59.95 US: No, it’s not cheap, but it is worth the investment. I was convinced to take the plunge back in September when I had the chance to hold one in Margaret Roach’s garden. I could not believe how light, yet sturdy it was. A local shop had them on sale and I was lucky to get the last in my preferred colour, olive, as they had very nearly sold out the previous day to attendees at our workshop who were also sold upon seeing them in real life.
Okra Earrings in Sterling $54.00: I am always on the lookout for vegetable themed jewelry that takes advantage of their elegant beauty. These do that.
Wearable Planter Jewelry $20.00US: Months back everyone was sending me links to these wearable planter necklaces with the subject line, “This is SO YOU!” to which I thought, “But no plant can live in such a tiny pot!” And that upset me. “No, I’m sorry, but I will not hang a dead plant set inside a pretty little vessel around my neck, thank you very much.”
But time has passed and I’ve softened. So fine, you guys win. They really are SO ME. Especially the orange. And if you’re reading this site, they are probably SO YOU, too.
Give the Gift of Seeds About $20.00: I agree, seeds are one of the best gifts to give, especially on Valentine’s Day since the holiday is used to mark the beginning of planting season in some climates. You can’t go wrong with the Hudson Valley Seed Library — they have some of the most artistic packages around, and if you buy a gift membership, your loved one can choose the plants their heart (and stomach) desires most.
In Canada, Cubit’s Organics has a six-pack offer, with free shipping.