Holiday Countdown - Gift Edition Part 1

I am such a sucker for putting together pretty gift sets. It's probably one of my favorite activities, and if I had to choose my dream job, it would probably be assembling beautiful gift packages for really, really, REALLY rich people.

For the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be putting together some holiday shopping ideas for those unique people in your life who may have stumped you this gift giving season. But since this blog is all about fantasy, I apologize if some of my finds are a tad expensive. I'm not saying you have to rush out and buy any of these things, but in my dream world, if I had endless amounts of money, and could spend it on others (in very frivolous ways), this might be it.

First up, this collection of finds is for the baker or taste maker, the person who practically lives in their kitchen but dreams about moving to Italy or the south of France, the one who loves to whip up their own jars of pickles in the early fall, and who generously spends all day making pasta by hand.

1. Kitten & Bear Jam - $12 - This local Toronto store makes jam in small batch quantities by hand, and they do not use any preservatives or commercial additives. As the shop states, all of their items are "made in the French confiture style in traditional hand-hammered copper preserving pans, they stand apart by their exquisite texture, interesting ingredients, and subtle balance of flavours." Since this spot is right around the corner from me, I indulge in their freshly made scones more frequently than I would like to admit. If you have never been there, for the love of god, go immediately. Each scone purchase comes with your choice of seasonal jam and clotted cream, and once you open up the heavenly warm scone in your hand, dollop on some topping, and feel the buttery richness in your mouth, you will never be the same. You can shop in store or online.

2. Herriott Grace - Rolling Pin - $70 - I am a massive fan of Herriot Grace. This father daughter duo create spectacular wood carved pieces that you will treasure forever. Made in Vancouver and available online.

3. Mjolk - Onion Basket - $60 - A large bamboo handmade basket, perfect for storing fruit or onions on the counter. Made by an artisan in Kyoto Japan. Available in store and online.

4. Rough Linen - Apron - $50 - A classic rough linen Belgian waiters apron, perfect for protecting your clothes on days when you have hot soup bubbling on the stove. Made in the US but ships to Canada.

5. Mjolk - Cast Iron Pan with Handle - $320 - Crafted by Japan's most important industrial designer Sori Yanagi. The stunning black pot features curved edges for easy pouring. Available in store and online.

6. Coolican & Company - Palmerston Stool - $490 - I first spotted Coolican & Company at IDS a few years ago. I instantly fell in love with their superb craftsmanship and incredible attention to detail. They have a small line of furniture and accessories, and this lovely handcrafted white maple stool is the perfect place to perch your tired legs when peeling a bucket of potatoes. Available online, contact the shop directly.

7. Elte - Picardie Tumbler - $2.96 (each) - These classic ribbed tumbler glasses are a standard in French bistros and are made of shatter proof glass that can withstand both hot and cold beverages. All that and coming in at less than $3, what's not to love?

8. Chapters Indigo - A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse - $34.49 - Famous food blogger and former model Mimi Thorisson welcomes us into her own kitchen in France. You will find spectacular photography featuring beautiful ingredients and seasonal family style meals. You can purchase this book online for 25% off, or in store at regular retail price.

9. L' Atelier St George - Pallares Solsona Kitchen Knife - $35 - A practical knife for daily use, yet so pretty that it will made food photographers salivate. Made in Spain, available for purchase in store and online.

Staying Hydrated in Style

When I'm on the hunt for a new product, it's never as simple as walking into a store, presenting my debit or credit card, and going home to unwrap my new package. How I wish I was one of those people, but no, unfortunately, I spend weeks looking for that perfect item, reading reviews, weighing props and cons, finally making my purchase, and then agonizing over my decision. My husband thinks I'm crazy, and he's probably right, but I can't help caring about all the little details. Why on earth would I spend money on something that I don't like? 

One of those types of purchases was our coffee maker. Ours was a basic old model, and when it finally broke down, we desperately needed a replacement. After weeks of research, of which we heavily relied on our Nespresso machine for our daily caffeine fix, I finally decided on the Krups KT600 Silver Art Collection Coffee Maker and I've never looked back. The thing is sexy, sleek, and the wood handle really warms things up. Literally.


But sometimes there are purchases you make, in the heat of the moment, that you instantly regret, or perhaps, you were gifted with something that is practical, but aesthetically, ehhhh. While I adore my SodaStream (received as a gift for a show I worked on) for fizzing my basic tap water on a daily basis, we really could never part, as soon as I saw the gorgeous Yves Béhar designed version, I wanted to chuck mine right out. Unfortunately, as much as I like beautifully designed kitchen products, I hate wasting things just as much. So for now, my old model sits beside my Krups coffee maker and they still hang out. But just imagine how good my Krups coffee maker would look sitting next to this guy.

Now onto my real dilemma. I'm looking for a new water filtration system, and I don't want a simple Brita. Nothing wrong with Brita....but I've never been a huge fan. I hate putting in those Brita filters, they always leave a residue and when you put them in they constantly pop up and down, the plastic handles are super annoying, and no matter what model I've tried, there's always something awkward about the spout. Are they even BPA free now?

We currently have a glass carafe from DWR, which came with it's own Binchotan charcoal stick. It's a beautiful design, and I love that it's glass, but unfortunately it doesn't hold very much water, and since you have to wait at least 6 hours for the charcoal to filter the water it's a real time suck.  So for now we've taken out the metal piece that fits inside and use it as a regular table carafe.


I wish I could do an under the sink model, but since we rent, that idea doesn't quite pan out. I've found a couple of doable ceramic models, but they would take up a massive piece of real estate on our already tiny countertop. I really thought that I might have to settle for something I didn't want, but then magically, I found the incredible Soma Water Pitcher. It comes in two different shapes and size, and really, I have to ask myself, how have I never seen it until now?

It's immediately wooed me with it's simple design. The only thing I would change about it is that it's plastic, and while shatter-proof and BPA free, I really wish it was glass. Granted, the smaller size is glass, but I know we would get tons more use out of this one. For the Soma pitcher and one filter (which is made out of coconut shell carbon and a plant-based casing), the price is a measly $39 US. If you want enough filters for a whole year, you can upgrade to a package that includes 12 filters for $149.

But since nothing is ever easy, I was really dismayed to learn that they don't ship to Canada. Yet. Apparently. That's what they have up on their website.

Come on Soma, hurry up! I need you in my life! I will happily be your first Canadian customer, so please, figure it out!