December 18, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Oh, the holidays. 

A time where we stress ourselves out about all the wrong things & overeat out of sheer anxiety.
Let me help you diminish some of that needless stress & 
assist you in finishing up that last minute shopping by giving you some ideas for those family & friends that are oh, so picky & oh, so into their hobbies.
The best part about this stuff is that you can get it all ONLINE.
That means less time shlepping around a department store & more time enjoying the REAL reason for the season:
Sitting around with friends & family, talking about the year that's soon to pass, & thanking the powers that be that we are alive, happy, & healthy for one more day.

If there is anything that has been more evident in the last couple of days, it's that you never know how long you have with people...so cherish each moment you can.

Happy Holidays!!



What to get the Die Hard Baker:
Everyone has one:  The friend that has waaaaay too many baking pans and mixer attachments in their kitchen.  They talk about Kitchen-Aid-this & the amount-of-protien-in-different-flour-types-that.  They appear to make brownies out of thin air and they study Martha Stewart as closely as a bible in Sunday school.  That friend...that wears an apron...on a Wednesday.  (I'm pretty sure I'm this person I just described...) What better way to say, "Hey, I like your free cookies and all but I have no idea what you are talking about" than by giving them one of these awesome baking-related gifts! These items will keep them busy baking & you busy eating. Win. Win.

Set of 3 Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extracts from Williams-Sonoma.com ~$32
These are my absolute favorite vanillas to use when baking.  They come in Tahitian, Mexican, and Madagascar Bourbon flavors & I have used them all with great success!  I definitely put my baker's stamp of approval on this one :)  This vanilla set allows even the most experimental baker to test out their recipes with each of these distinctly rich extracts.  And you know, the more they experiment, the more you get to "taste-test".  


How Baking Works by Paula Figoni at Amazon.com ~$30 
This book is THE book for the serious baker. I found it when I was looking for a "textbook" on how to learn to really bake. It is the perfect mix of chemistry & baking, explaining on a chemical level why things happen when you bake but not speaking over your head so that you don't know what the heck is going on.  My inner science nerd got super excited when I saw that they had actual experiments & quizzes after each chapter.  If you know anyone who didn't quite make it to culinary school but has a dream of being a pastry chef for realsies...I suggest you get them this book...& a big fat highlighter. It's that serious.


What to Get "The Photographer":
You know that friend...the one that is always taking pictures at every life event...EVER.  The friend who carries around their camera like a bad tourist cliche...when they've never left Los Angeles...EVER.
What better way to say, "Hey, I get it. You like taking pictures with your big fancy expensive camera that looks like a tiny mars space rover...& I'm secretly jealous of you..." than with these really unique & handy photography accessories?!  Now, if they would only take down that Instagram picture of you just waking up the day after New Years Eve...yikes...

Handmade Camera strap by Couchguitarstraps on Etsy ~$34.95
These camera straps are not only handmade & really comfortable, but the designers at Couch have taken special care to accurately re-interpret a Native American inspired design with a Southwestern color scheme.  Hipsters will love this. You will definitely win points with your friends...if hipsters actually gave a hoot about keeping score at all... 


The Brooklyn camera bag by ONA ~$329
So, I have this awesomely amazing camera that I saved & saved forever for (let's just say I baked my butt off for like, a year)...& you know where I keep it??  On my kitchen counter...like, next to the flour.  I'm terrified to take it out of my house & it almost never sees the light of day. What a waste, right? So now I have set my sights on saving & saving for this bag! "The Brooklyn" is made from real leather (quality over quantity my dad always said) & it has a spot for my notebook, my phone, & snacks!  I'm pretty sure your photographer friends will love this bag...or at least use it to carry around a good snack or two :)



What to Get "The Fancy Coffee Drinker":
I knew this person once (name withheld) that loved them some coffee...and when I say "love", it's not like a normal kind of love.  It was kind of borderline obsession.  They would snub their noses at Folger's & anything pre-ground or "blended".  They would go to great lengths to find the smoothest, richest, most obscure organic bean & didn't care how much it cost.  They also collected coffee & other coffee-related items like they were doomsday preppers.  So here's a couple of things to help accentuate their coffee experience & make their collection a little bit sweeter :)

Homegrown Monogram Mug by Anthropologie ~ $8
You know you have this friend: The one that walks around the office/house/street with a old worn out coffee mug firmly griped in one hand no matter the time of day.  These vintage inspired monogramed mugs allow the avid coffee drinker to identify their cup from across a room (not that they wouldn't be able to from aroma of their single-origin dark roast alone) & gives them that extra amount of style that I find most of these individuals just have to have.  Not that I judge or anything....just sayin'....it's a nice gift...


Donsuemor Madeleines & French Almond Cakes at Donsuemor.com  
~$15-30 per box (depending on size & type of product)
Right now, Donsuemor is offering 20% off all online orders by claiming THIS offer on Facebook!
As you can probably tell by my previous posts, I am absolutely addicted to these deliciously light but rich Madeleines & Almond Cakes made by Donsuemor!  They are a wonderful company from Southern California that I have seen grow immensely over the last couple of years!  They can be found in Fresh & Easy supermarkets, Costco, but most importantly, online!  These little buttery cakes are the perfect compliment to any coffee-afficionados cupboard.  My father (who is extremely picky & uh...opinionated) ate about 8 of these in a sitting last time I bought him some.  That's why this year, I am giving him two! The Almond Cakes in the background & the variety box of Madeleine's I opened to show you how pretty they are, should keep him (and any other coffee lover) happily dipping & snacking throughout the holidays! 

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