02 December 2008

A Few Of My Favorite Things, Part Five

As the countdown to holiday gift giving continues, I have a few more of my favorite things to share with you.

For the environmentally conscious on your list, may I suggest a basket from Juniper Ridge? Their organic, sustainably-harvested natural goodies smell just wonderful. Chef Jeff loves their Siskiyou Cedar soap; my favorite is Desert PiƱon. Wreaths, tea, smudge sticks, incense, sachets - you can give your recipient the true scent of the West.

For someone who isn't feeling very well, how about a package from Healing Baskets? They have some simply wonderful ideas for sharing comfort and helping you to say what's in your heart. They have specific items pertaining to cancer, divorce, loss, or the blues - touching and thoughtful items. You can choose to have them sent as a prepared basket if you so desire.

Not sure of someone's shoe size? Zappos offers free shipping, exchanges, and returns! I have purchased several pair of shoes and boots from them and their service is fantastic. They offer super-speedy delivery, even with the "standard" option (it always comes faster than they say it will!)

I didn't realize that walking around on farmland would be so traumatic to my feet. The Birkies and Keds were abaondoned after bouts of plantar fasciitis and twisted ankles. Next came waterproof workboots, which were great for a while, but the ground here is as tough as farm life, and the leather soon became too loose to offer any support. So what does the modern farmerette pick as her footwear of choice? Technical hiking boots with outstanding support! Oh geez, they're on sale now! Shoot! Well, I'd buy them at twice the price after wearing them - they are awesome and I can't recommend them highly enough. I have narrow, flat feet and they are the most supportive and comfortable shoes I've ever worn. They're standing up great to daily farm use.

Zappos also carries Ariat riding and western boots, which are lovely for any horse (donkey, mule) owner on your list.

Speaking of farm duds, I'm really pleased with the Lands' End jacket which arrived a few days ago. I can pretty much guarantee you that you will not be the least bit cold while wearing this coat, whether in Chicago, North Dakota, or Alaska! It's fantastic and super toasty... even without a bunch of layers underneath, even while standing still!

I now understand why Inuit coats have fur around the hood - the (fake) fur on this hood keeps the wind and snowflakes off of my face, kind of dispersing them before they can hit me. Love it. Another thing I really love about it is that it has a two-way zipper (very helpful when bending to fill chicken feeders or pick out the donkeys' hooves). It zips up past my chin, but no metal touches my face - just cozy polarfleece. Great design - nothing worse than a cold zipper on your chin or neck!

This jacket gets an A- - the minus being only for the fact that the pocket openings aren't angled. But as I'm usually carrying an egg basket or water bucket while wearing it, that's not a big deal. Sign up for the Lands' End e-mails before you place an order - they're offering great sales and free shipping bonuses these days.

For your favorite epicurean, what about a custom tea blend from Adagio? Choose their favorite flavors, name the tea, and then upload artwork for a custom label. Yum! (I believe you must create an account and be logged in to have access to this option in the "blends" section - yes, I just checked, you do.) Not sure what your tea lover likes? Adagio offers several samplers of "trial size" tea tins.

I have my own blend there - it's called Chocolat Framboise Caramel. Guilt-free indulgence.

Here's my favorite pic of the day: Molly sleeping.

When she's awake, Molly has a curly tail like a Husky. Sometimes, when she's very sleepy, or asleep, she forgets to keep it curled up.

I have already fallen behind on my holiday preparations. I have some caramels made and ready to be shipped to dear friends in Belarus, but my plum pudding has not yet been steamed, nor have I started on the liqueurs or sugar cookies (though I have received all my orders of cutters, decorations, and ingredients, thank goodness!)

Having Chef Jeff home for a long holiday weekend meant the kitchen was in a constant state of messiness, and I'm only now catching up on the cleaning, and making room to work.

I also have been a bit distracted by that DROPS alpaca shawl that I started - once I had a few rows completed, the pattern was easy to memorize, and I'm enjoying listening to Jaques Pepin's biography while sneaking in a few rows a day. The shawl is knit from the center top (10 stitches) downward and outward - my favorite construction method. The yarn is super soft, and not at all splitty - yay! Mine came from YDK, of course.

Have a lovely week!

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