The Plums of New York, 1911
When we came across a print from The Plums of New York, a horticultural book published a hundred years ago, we knew we had to find the whole book. The plates are these totally bizarre and amazing photos of plums that have been printed over in color. They manage to seem really modern, beautiful and pathetic all at the same time. If you are willing to sacrifice the book, the prints make great gifts. The book is hard to find (we managed to find a copy on ebay) and expensive (but worth it). There is also a digital version of the book for you to look at HERE. The point is: old books are cool and make great gifts.
The bottom of this little apothecary bottle is etched to provide a strike-able surface. This is a pretty way to store your matches. DIY possibilities here.
Bakers twine is everywhere, and yes, it is cute. But did you know you can also get it in grey and black? Perfect for those of us who want it to be a little less cute. Great for wrapping gifts, especially homemade baked goods.
Bandaged Cheddar by Bleu Mont Dairy
Some people want diamonds, I want cheese. And I don’t know if there is a better cheese than this bandaged cheddar made in Wisconsin by Willi Lehner. It is crazy good. I might go as far as: life changing. I don’t know if this is distributed outside of the Midwest, but you can find it at Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park.
Such pretty baking dishes that will look great on a holiday table, or a weeknight dinner table. They are oven, microwave and dishwasher safe which makes them perfect.
Melissa Yen (formerly of Vella Cafe, for those of you in Chicago) is making syrups that can be used in a variety of ways, from soda to coffee to an ice cream topping. They are available at a bunch of gourmet shops in town. With flavors like Cardamom and Rose Water and Fig-Vanilla-Black Pepper, you really can’t go wrong.
Smoked salt is good to have on hand for finishing dishes. It is great used in a vegetarian version of my mac and cheese (to replace the bacon flavor) and also nice sprinkled on some sauteed collard greens. You’ll find other applications too (ice cream?)
New magazines are popping up all over—this one I love. All about domestic life: homes, flowers, shopping, cooking. I’ve been carrying the first issue around with me and enjoying the care put into this quarterly publication.
I don’t where to find this guy, but I love him.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West
I like having music playing when I cook. The new Kanye West album has been on repeat for the past couple of weeks. It is astonishingly good. He is many things, but one of them is a great artist.
Is it weird to give a plant as a gift? Maybe. Perhaps this is something you buy for yourself. Oxalis Triangularis is just incredibly beautiful and rewarding to care for. Unlike many plants, this one moves—a lot. The leaves open into a swarm of butterflies in the daylight and fold into origami packages at night. Incredibly beautiful perched on your kitchen window. (I like to keep the plant sparse, as pictured. It gets less charming as it fills out.)
I’m really into home fragrances (eww, I can’t believe I just typed those words–sorry), and this spray from Diptyque is my all-time favorite. It smells like a forest: clean, fresh, pine. Expensive, but lovely.
That’s all folks! Happy giving (and getting!).
December 3rd, 2010 at 8:43 am
Brilliant! Love this guide, so much good stuff. I kind of want all of it…for myself! Oops. Also, this rules: “Some people want diamonds, I want cheese.”
December 3rd, 2010 at 8:44 am
Smoked salt is a great idea! Not to get too of topic, but my favorite way to do mac and cheese is with the addition of truffled pecornio and a sprinkling of truffle salt on top–I’ll have to try it with the smoked salt now. Thanks for the ideas!
Caroline Shields @ carolineskitchentable says:
December 3rd, 2010 at 9:00 am
I need that match holder! So great. Jo Snow made my gift guide too! Great minds…
December 3rd, 2010 at 9:26 am
That’s my favorite plant so I’m delighted to see it getting some love here. It never dies. It sometimes goes dormant for a month or two (hey, we all need naps) but then it comes back.
Lisa (dinner party) says:
December 3rd, 2010 at 9:27 am
Tim, I want every single thing on this list! Although I already have an oxalis and the Kanye album–which I can’t stop listening to. Happy holidays :)
December 3rd, 2010 at 9:34 am
Yay, to undead plants! And to shared likes.
SMITH BITES says:
December 3rd, 2010 at 9:54 am
Tim ~ I am being very serious here – I wait all year for YOUR holiday list because it’s so eclectic and wonderful!! All things I want for myself but there are also gifts for people I love. Had no idea about the Ikea kitchen towels until they were on this list last year – have a drawer full of them now . . . and I’m still coveting the aprons you highlighted. Awesome job!
December 3rd, 2010 at 9:58 am
Smith Bites! That is very sweet. I am glad you enjoy the guides. Those IKEA towels remain a favorite of mine too (I wish they lasted longer!). Happy holidays!
December 3rd, 2010 at 10:28 am
This is hilarious: “I’m really into home fragrances (eww, I can’t believe I just typed those words–sorry).”
And i must agree with you about Kanye’s album. Loved his performance on SNL, too — when he is pressing like one button on the keyboard and all those crazy ballerinas are surrounding him. ONLY Kanye could get away with it. in conclusion: thanks for these ideas!!
December 3rd, 2010 at 10:39 am
Great guide, Tim! Always look forward to this.
December 3rd, 2010 at 11:07 am
beautiful! I love that you recommended Anthology Magazine. it’s one of my favorites!
December 3rd, 2010 at 11:17 am
That book is amazing! I am enamored by the pictures. Thanks for sharing, TIm!
December 3rd, 2010 at 11:51 am
When I grow up I want to be just like you :-)
Very cool stuff! Thank you!
December 3rd, 2010 at 12:18 pm
So happy to see Bleu Mont Dairy on the list. Wisconsin cheddar deserves the love. I was thinking about stopping off at Bleu Mont on my way home for Christmas … you’ve inspired me to commit to the plan!
December 3rd, 2010 at 12:24 pm
I think I saw that whale, or something similar, at Anthropologie but I couldn’t find it on their website.
And I think it’s perfectly acceptable to give plants as gifts. I guess it depends on who you are giving it to though, and if they would appreciate it.
December 3rd, 2010 at 12:26 pm
I adore your hiaku-like approach to life. A few, fine, well-edited and well-placed objects/words/thoughts, such as is your style, is beautiful.
sigh and swoon again.
December 3rd, 2010 at 12:32 pm
I was contemplating getting my mom a plant for Christmas actually–initially thinking maybe a lemon topiary but now I’ll have to see if Gethsemane carries oxalis triangularis!
December 3rd, 2010 at 1:07 pm
i want to GIVE every single fabulous gift you have labored over (obviously with love & creativity!) for this post….
i want to RECEIVE every single fabulous gift you have labored over (obviously with love & creativity!) for this post.
December 3rd, 2010 at 4:01 pm
Thanks for all of these kind comments, folks.
Annie, yeah, I believe Anthropologie would carry that whale. And yes, plants are nice gifts, especially if they are easy to care for and you know the person is a plant-friendly.
December 4th, 2010 at 12:25 am
I think you just created one of the best gift guides I’ve seen yet! At least they’re all the things I want on my wish list! That plant, it’s amazingly beautiful.
December 4th, 2010 at 10:41 am
The match holder and twine are perfect. So simple and elegant. Who knew twine could be elegant? I’ll definitely have to stock up for when I send out my treats. I totally agree with the music too. Usually I just let my Frankie Valli station on Pandora do the picking, but now that we’re in the holiday season I can’t listen to anything but Sufjan Stevens’ Songs for Christmas.
December 4th, 2010 at 7:20 pm
well, shoot. i pretty much want everything on this this (have Anthology already-hurrah for print!!). thank you for having exemplary taste, very much in line with my own :)
December 5th, 2010 at 4:36 pm
i concur with everyone here that your list is a beautiful one. i’m not having any luck with the links to the match holder or the stoneware bakers (which i’d seen in red at crate & barrel, but i love the muted colors of the ones you pictured and i’m not seeing those on their site).
if anyone can help i’d be much obliged.
December 5th, 2010 at 6:47 pm
Momo, bummer, but it seems like the matches sold out. Here is the shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/jensa?ref=pr_profile maybe you can contact and see if they will become available again? I also saw them for sale at this shop: http://www.fly-bird.net/index.html maybe you can call and ask? (they are not on website)
I called Crate & Barrel and it seems as though the bakers sold out online but may still be available in stores. Soooo, perhaps try calling a few stores and seeing if someone can ship?
December 5th, 2010 at 8:31 pm
I love your blog and I love these gift ideas. I know Willi personally and am a huge fan of the bandaged cheddar. We are pretty spoiled in Wisconsin with all the artisan cheeses we can choose from!
December 5th, 2010 at 11:27 pm
I love the new Kanye too. So good. I now have to find that plant because I love how it looks like butterflies swirling around the window (now if only I could have such a lovely window too).
December 6th, 2010 at 5:20 am
hi tim & momo,
i purchased my divine twine here:
December 6th, 2010 at 11:21 am
Great ideas. Everyone of these is a treasure.
Denise Michaels - Adventurous Foodie says:
December 6th, 2010 at 5:22 pm
What a fascinating array of gift ideas for Christmas. Love the idea of Divine Twine. I made a couple turkey breast roulades for Thanksgiving and I had to ask the butcher for twine to put the whole thing together because I didn’t know where to get it. He was very nice about it – but who wants to have to go to the butcher every time you need it.
December 6th, 2010 at 9:43 pm
The whale is (or was last year, at least) available at The New Stone Age in LA (http://newstoneage.wordpress.com/2009/11/29/holiday-gift-ideas-sparkling-sperm-whale-ornament/), but it doesn’t look like they have any way of purchasing online, but maybe you can call and they’ll ship one to you.
December 6th, 2010 at 10:50 pm
December 8th, 2010 at 6:16 pm
Where in the world can I find that plant? It is those most beautiful plant I have ever seen!
December 9th, 2010 at 2:21 am
That cheese looks delicious, I WISH they sold it in Philadelphia
December 10th, 2010 at 7:02 am
love this list!
December 12th, 2010 at 6:39 pm
Wow! I am so honored that Jo Snow Syrups made your gift guide. Thanks so much! I absolutely love the Bleu Mont Bandaged Cheddar. We carry it at Provenance Food & Wine where I also work. I tend to sample it out & to myself alot! And smoked sea salt. I could put it on everything. It adds such a great flavor….hmmmm…possible new syrup idea. I will have to start playing.
December 12th, 2010 at 7:42 pm
Thanks, Melissa! So good to know that Provenance sells the Bleu Mont cheddar! I also saw your syrups at Marion Street in Oak Park, which made me very happy! Keep up the good work…
Anna B says:
December 16th, 2010 at 4:05 pm
Whale was also available here, but is now out of stock, which is tragic, because it’s gorgeous and I want it:
December 17th, 2010 at 10:57 am
thanks for your follow-up comment. you’re the best!!!
December 30th, 2010 at 4:32 am
Oh! I love Willi Lehner! Cool guy. His blue and raw milk cheeses are really fantastic too. A few months back I toured his cheese cave, which was the coolest thing ever (- here’s my post on the visit if you’re interested – http://stresscake.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/field-trip-bleu-mont-dairy-in-blue-mounds-wi/) Great list – lots of interesting stuff. Thanks.
December 2nd, 2011 at 3:43 pm
Did you ever find the whale? I was just looking at an email from Anthropologie, and it looks like they might have it!
I know I am a year late, but sometimes later really is better that never.
December 2nd, 2011 at 7:08 pm
Christy! You are so sweet. I’ve always had the whale, I just didn’t know where the rest of you could find it. ; ) Now we all know, thanks to you!