Tag Archives: Christmas

Some quick thoughts on the lunacy of retail and Black Friday in Canada

I had one last Christmas gift to purchase.  As long time readers of the blog know, I do all of our Christmas shopping in the family.  When Wendy’s depression was much worse, it used to stress her out and ruin the holidays.  We make a budget, make a list and stick to it.  Today was our last big gift of the season.

Last night we got an email from the retailer who said that their Black Friday week sales were starting Wednesday.  What I wanted wasn’t on sale but it showed that they had low stock on it so Wendy and I decided to go over today.  Big signs for doorcrashers, promotional campaign online, extended store hours.  Everything.  The store was empty.

Why?  We all have to work.  Same with Black Friday.  Americans often have the four day weekend so they spend Thanksgiving Thursday with family watching football and eating.  Then they go to the malls on Friday and start Christmas shopping.  In Canada, our Thanksgiving is in early October.  It’s also a Monday.  So those sales and door crashers really don’t make any sense, even if they start on Wednesday of that week.

Then they do it all over again on Boxing Day.  Boxing Day sales make sense because people are shopping for themselves and it finishes Q4 off right but extending it now into the first week of January does not.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand Black Friday sales start people in the Christmas mood but ridiculous deals and early morning starts when people have to work?  That doesn’t work or make sense in Canada and you are losing money for really no reason.

Christmas and Holiday Gift Guide for School Aged Boys | 2016 Edition

Having raised Mark to the point where he is now in high school and with Oliver in Grade Two, I have some experience in Christmas shopping for school aged boys.  You can read my gift guide for teenagers here and my ideas for what to get a school aged boy below.   If you have any other suggestions or ideas, let me know in the comments.

Acer Iconia 7” Tablet

Acer Iconia 7” Tablet

This is a great little tablet that you can find everywhere for $100.  The best thing about this tablet versus one of the cheaper Kindle Fire tablets is that you can install Google Hangouts and Google Duo/Skype on it.  This means that for far less than a cell phone, your child can connect with you and family via text messages and video calling easily and affordably over a wifi connection. 

It’s also a good enough tablet to install some games, watch YouTube and connect to the families smart TV or Google Chromecast

While you are it, get a keyboard case and install the free Google Docs app and they get a surprising amount of school work done on it.

ZAGG Folio Case, Hinged with Bluetooth Keyboard for Android Tablets

Franklin Sports Indoor 2-in-1 Goal Set

Franklin Sports Indoor 2-in-1 Goal Set

There are a great gift.  Indoor hockey played on your knees has been a Canadian tradition for decades.  So has mothers complaining about having to patch the knees of pants.  Of course with them being sized or indoor use, they are perfect for when it is too cold to play outside.

Star Wars R2D2 Projection Alarm Clock

Star Wars R2D2 Projection Alarm Clock

How cool is this?  An R2-D2 that projects the time onto the walls. “Help me Obi-Wan, you are our only hope of waking up on time.”

LEGO Kids Star Wars Storm Trooper Mini-Figure Alarm Clock

LEGO Kids Star Wars Storm Trooper Mini-Figure Alarm Clock

A great option for the kid who struggles to wake up is the Lego Star Wars Storm Trooper alarm clock. Plus nothing helps you sleep well than knowing you are beside an elite trooper who lost a key battle to a bunch of Ewoks.  If your child is superhero fan more than Star Wars, there are Batman and Superman Lego alarm clocks for $30

The stories of Obi-Wan Kenobi / Darth Vader / Luke Skywalker by Ryder Windham.

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For the younger Padawans out there, there is the Jedi Academy series which Oliver has read countless times over the last year. 

Star Wars: Jedi AcademyStar Wars: Jedi Academy, Return of the PadawanStar Wars: Jedi Academy, The Phantom BullyStar Wars: Jedi Academy, A New Class

Nintendo New 3DS XL

Nintendo New 3DS XL

The New Nintendo 3DS XL system combines next-generation portable gaming with super-stable 3D technology and added control features. Take 3D photos, connect with friends, and enhance your gaming experiences with added amiibo support. The New Nintendo 3DS XL system plays all Nintendo DS games. Nintendo DS games will not appear in 3D.  

We gave Oliver one of these last year.  He loved it and it goes everywhere with him.

Wicked Audio Headphones

Wicked Audio Headphones

In the past we have gotten Oliver kid-safe headphones but as he has gotten older, he wants something cooler.  The Wicked Headphones provided decent sound quality but appeal to older children and teens much more.  Not only that but they are pretty affordable which means they get the headphones they want and it doesn’t break your budget.

Risk: The Game of Global Domination

Risk, The Game of Global Domination

Despite the game being for players 10 and older, Oliver has been loving the game for a couple of years. Instead of getting your child a game that only they will like for a year or two, why not start them playing some games the entire family can play for a lifetime?   So many days have been spent trying to take over the world and fighting each other on a global scale.  Both the boys, Wendy and myself love playing this together.

Monopoly: The Classic Edition

Monopoly: The Classic Edition

I was never a big Monopoly fan growing up but we bought this game years ago and this has been a family favorite for everyone.  Nothing is better than a winter day spent inside trying to be competing real estate tycoons.

Bachmann Trains Royal Gorge Ready-to-Run HO Train Scale Train Set

Bachmann Trains Royal Gorge Ready-to-Run HO Train Scale Train Set

Remember your first H0 model train set?  How about a set that is modelled after  Colorado’s oldest scenic line?  It combines rich history, spectacular views and stylish accommodations into a train that takes you on a 24-mile journey through the 1,000 Feet deep Royal Gorge. Passengers travel alongside the Arkansas River on a ribbon of rail for an up-close nature show deep in the canyon, observing bald eagles, blue heron, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and flora native to the gorge.

How much fun would any kid have opening this set on Christmas morning?

Hohner 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar

Hohner 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar

The Hohner is a handcrafted classical guitar with an Agathis top back and sides. This wood match-up creates a crisp texture to the overall sound of the instrument. The smaller scale of this instrument (considered 1/2 sized) is specially designed with the younger player in mind and is highly recommended for the players that are starting between the ages of 5-9. This instrument also comes equipped with light gauge nylon strings for easier fingering as to not discourage the first time player.

Utility Belt with Micro Spy Tools

There is a Micro Ear Light, Micro Listener, Micro Motion Alarm and Invisible Ink Pen on every surveillance mission

Utility Belt with Micro Spy Tools

The coolest utility belt that doesn’t belong to Batman.

Spy Gear Walkie Talkies with a 2 mile range

Spy Gear - Ultra Range Walkie Talkies

Because every great adventure needs a team and a two mile radius is very, very impressive.

Nikon Coolpix S33 Digital Camera

Oliver and his Nikon Coolpix S33 Digital Camera

This is Oliver’s Nikon Coolpix S33.  It is water resistant, ruggedized, captures Full HD video and takes really good photos.  It’s the best camera for kids on the market.

Nikon Coolpixx S33 Digital Camera

  • Waterproof up to 33 feet deep; shockproof up to 5 feet; freezeproof down to 14° F
  • 3x wide-angle NIKKOR glass zoom lens
  • 13.2-MP CMOS sensor
  • Full HD 1080p videos with stereo sound
  • Oversized buttons and easy menus

Toss in a compact camera case and an extra battery and they are all set.  While designed for kids, it is good enough for you to use in a pinch when you forget your camera or the battery runs out.

Star Wars Lego X-Wing Fighter

Star Wars Lego X-Wing Fighter

If you kid is a Lego and Star Wars fan (and who isn’t), they will love this Lego set of Poe’s X-Wing Fighter.

LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon

LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon

The debate over what is cooler, the Millennium Falcon or the X-Wing has been going on since 1979 and will continue on for years into the future but what we can all agree on is opening both of these on Christmas morning.

Nerf N-Strike Elite HyperFire Blaster

Nerf N-Strike Elite HyperFire Blaster

  • Fires up to 5 darts per second with fresh batteries
  • 25-dart drum
  • Fires darts up to 90 feet (27 meters)
  • Comes with 25 Elite darts
  • Includes blaster, 25-dart drum, 25 darts, and instructions.
  • Requires 4 D batteries (not included).

Christmas & Holiday Gift Guides

Christmas-Gift-Guide2-1[13]Christmas Gifts for the Men in Your Life | Women In Your Life | In-Laws| Teens | Elementary School Aged | Explorers and Adventurers | Cooks & Foodies

Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide for Teens | 2016 Edition

What do you get for the teenaged boy on your Christmas list.  The easy way out is cash and gift cards.  We aren’t going to take the easy route out.  We are doing this the hard way and come up with a list that any teenager would love.  Of course the guinea pig for this list is Mark.

Sennheiser HD 202 II Headphones

Sennheisser HD 202 II Headphones

There is a good choice that your teen has an iPod or phone that plays music already.  The music is great but one overlooked thing is what do you play it on.  Sennheisser headphones are a great bet.  The Sennheiser HD202 Stereo Headphones prove to be a low priced alternative to high-end studio headphones.  Sure they may be asking for Dre Beats but Sennheisser headphones offer superior sound at a far better price.  No wonder they are the number one best selling headphones this year on Amazon.

Personally Mark, Wendy and I all have a pair of these headphones and we all love them.  Great sound, they feel good, and are a fantastic price.

Brainwavz Delta In Ear Headphones

Brainwavz Delta IEM Earphones

If you are on a budget (and who isn’t) this Christmas, here are some fabulous looking and sounding headphones by Brainwavz at an affordable price.   Already named the best sounding headphones under $40 by the audiofiles at The Wirecutter, they offer one of the best values of this Christmas season.  And who doesn’t like a great pair of headphones for a really good price.

OontZ Angle 3 Ultra Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Cambridge SoundWorks OontZ Angle 3

One of the most popular and wished for items on Amazon.com.  Brought to you by Cambridge Soundworks, this Angle is the latest in a line of amazing and affordable speaker systems.   It comes in comes in many color options and is 5.3 inches wide, 2.7 inches high, and 3 inches deep. It weighs 9 ounces, which makes it a lightweight unit.  Not only that but it is waterproof meaning that it can go where your teen goes.  It’s worth checking out.

Turcom Graphic Drawing Tablet 8 X 6 Inches

Turcom Graphic Drawing Tablet 8 X 6 Inches

Tucom is making tablets affordable for use by anyone, not just artists. This high-quality Tursion drawing tablet is priced just right, so everyone can enjoy the benefits of a graphic tablet. It includes several software utilities, such as PenSigner and PenMail, which allows you to use handwritten signatures, adding a personal touch to what is usually thought of as an impersonal medium. Easy to install and to use,

We gave one to Mark last year for his birthday and he has loved it.  It works with almost any kind of Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 software has allowed him expand is skills and talents as an artist.

Quest Super Cruiser Artisan Bamboo Longboard Skateboard

Quest Super Cruiser Artisan Bamboo Longboard Skateboard

  • 44-Inch artisan bamboo longboard
  • Multi-ply Hardwood Maple and beautiful artisan bamboo deck
  • Rugged 7-inch aluminum trucks
  • Durable 70mm PU wheels
  • 44-Inch Artisan Bamboo Longboard
  • Multi-ply hardwood maple and beautiful Artisan bamboo deck
  • Rugged 7-Inch aluminum trucks
  • Durable 70mm PU wheels

    Kick tail

    Squier by Fender “Stop Dreaming, Start Playing” Set

    Squier by Fender "Stop Dreaming, Start Playing" Set

    If he wants to be a rock star, what better way to get him started than with a Squire guitar and amp by Fender?  It comes with an electric guitar, amp, bag, strap, cables, and picks.  Basically everything he will need to rock out in 2017.

    ALPS Mountaineering Chaos 2 Person Tent

    ALPS Mountaineering Chaos 2 Person Tent

    So many parents we talk to tell me that all their kid is sit inside and game all summer.  In part because that is where all of the money is spent.  Instead of a new Playstation 4 or a XBox One, why not get them some quality gear for the great outdoors?  This 2 person tent invites them to get outside, explore the world, and see what else is out there.  Whether it is a weekend at a nearby regional park or an overnight hike on a historic trail, give them the gear to go exploring in 2017.

    It is a roomy 2 person backpacking tent. It has a Hubbed Shockcorded Aluminum Frame that is strong and durable. The Full Coverage Fly will protect the tent from the worst weather and has 2 Doors and 2 Vestibules for stowing excess gear out side the tent. Each Vestibule has an Adjustable Vent to help with ventilation. And the no-see-um mesh panels on the roof and walls will help keep the tent comfortable. So much mesh that you could leave the fly off for stargazing should the sky be clear. Other features include fully taped Fly and Floor seams, aluminum stakes, sturdy #8 zippers,

    Mark has a great two person tent and has used with us while hiking and on school canoe trips.

    Tile Slim

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    If you kid is anything like mine, they lose things.  The Tile Slim aims to help that.  As thin as two credit cards, Tile Slim easily slides into your wallet, purse or pocket. Tile Slim can also be attached to a laptop, tablet, notebook or lunchbox. (Adhesives sold separately)  If something gets lost, use your smartphone to make your Tile Slim ring when it’s nearby but out of sight.

    Can’t find your phone? Simply double press the button on your Tile Slim to make your phone ring – even on silent! The easy-to-use, free Tile app remembers the last time and place it saw your Tile, so if you left it somewhere, you’ll always know where to look

    Energizer 90 Lumen Headlamp

    Energizer 90 Lumen Headlamp

    If they are going to explore, they are going to need to know where they are going at night.  For this, they will need a headlamp.  This affordable head lamp has four LED headlamp with three white LEDs and one red LED.  It has three modes: White (high & low), red for night vision and has 80 lumens of light output.

    Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Camping Stoves with Piezo Ignition

    Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Camping Stoves with Piezo Ignition

    Everyone has to start somewhere, and for beginning backpackers and campers there’s no better place to start than the Etekcity mini camping stove. There’s virtually zero setup and it’s extremely easy to use with no risk of fuel spills and no priming required.  Mark has one of these and it is the easiest stove I have ever used.  You just screw it into the fuel canister, turn it on, use the Piezo ignition system and away you go.

    Garmin eTrex 20x GPS

    Garmin eTrex 20x GPS

    The best selling sports GPS unit on Amazon is the new eTrex 20x.  While Mark isn’t about to walk the Pacific  Coast Trail, we do hike a lot in the backcountry and it is nice for him to be able to explore on his own.

    Yuneec Breeze

    Yuneec Breeze 4k drone

    Introducing Breeze, the flying camera designed with you in mind. Both convenient and compact, Breeze is controlled by your iOS or Android device with the Breeze Cam app and weighs just under 1 pound. Now capture aerial photos and video of your daily adventures effortlessly– and do it in stunning 4K Ultra High Definition. Simply take Breeze out of the box and let it fly.  It is an amazing gift for the aspiring film and an affordable 4k drone.

    LaCie Rugged 1TB Hard Drive

    LaCie Hard Drive

    Mark is a content creator.  If you teen is an film maker, photographer or musician, they need hard drive space and a lot of it.  An external and portable 1TB mini hard drive is the way to go.  The LaCie Rugged Mini Hard Disk shares features with the popular Rugged Hard Disk, like shock resistance, drop resistance, and a rubber sleeve for added protection. But with the Rugged Mini, it’s also rain-resistant and pressure-resistant — you can drive over it with a 1-ton car, and it still works! Its small size makes it perfect to take with you wherever you go and its Rugged exterior provides protection against accidental drops, shock, or pressure.  If you are looking for a less expensive (but none rugged option), check out the Seagate 1TB drive.

    Christmas & Holiday Gift Guides

    Christmas-Gift-Guide2-1[13]Christmas Gifts for the Men in Your Life | Women In Your Life | In-Laws| Teens | Elementary School Aged | Explorers and Adventurers | Cooks & Foodies

  • Kristy Dean

    I attended the funeral of my friend Kristy Dean today.  I got to know her through Jerry and Gloria Reimer and we like many others became her friend.  As Gloria said today, she crashed there for a night but stayed there for 10 years.  With Jerry and Gloria being godparents to Mark and Oliver and the closest thing Wendy and I have to parents, Kristy was close to us as well.

    Today her sister and Gloria gave stirring eulogies.  I came home and went looking through some photos and found some favorites.  I thought I would post some here and tell some stories.

    Kristy, Gloria and Wendy

    We spent most Christmas Day’s with Reimers and even if they were travelling, we always celebrated Christmas, even if it was early.  We also spent a lot of other holidays together.  Later on I hired her at the Salvation Army and The Lighthouse where she worked the front desk which if you know anything about shelters, is the most demanding part of the job.

    Hiring a friend is always challenging but Kristy was great and found that balance between giving me absolutely no respect as her boss and getting the job done.  I appreciate that in any front desk staff.

    She had changed a lot by the time she worked with me.  She was strong willed, loud, and could be defiant, all skills someone needs working with a challenging population.  She also took those strengths and used them to advocate for people.  Many time she would call me with a course of action she wanted me to take on Monday for someone who needed help. 

    Kristy was a quick thinker and good problem solver.  She understood the big picture and the system we were in well.  That made her a great employee but also someone I could talk with about the job because she understood the inherent frustrations in the system. 

    Kristy and Jacqueline Kroeker

    She was a passionate Edmonton Oilers fan and I am wearing a Calgary Flames watch while typing this so our friendship was based on either making fun of each other or just prolonged times of sadness when both Calgary and Edmonton sucked at the same time.  We went over the Reimers one time and Kristy just said, “I have nothing to bug you about.  It’s just pathetic how both of them are playing.”

    We did set that aside momentarily on Christmas Day and we would often exchange Edmonton Oiler and Calgary Flames merchandise on Christmas.  Just as we were both enjoying our gifts, the other would say something like, “I found it in the trash at Walmart.  They tried giving them away but no one wanted it.  I got you one.”  Those truces never lasted long.

    Kristy Dean and her Nikon

    I like to think I won the exchange at least once.  Kristy was a photographer and used a Nikon camera.  I bought her a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens mug.  The box hides the fact that it is a mug really well and Kristy thought I had bought her a $2000 lens.  I was like, “Umm, we aren’t that close of friends”. 

    So she then realized it was a mug and while laughing about it was still really happy.  The weird thing about this mug is that the top seals totally, there is no hole in the top which makes it really annoying.  She told me a couple of months later that it drove her crazy every single time she tried to take a drink from it.  She cursed my name every time and knew I would be pleased with that.  I was.

    Kristy Dean playing charades

    Kristy Dean playing charades

    The above photos of Kristy is my favorite of her.  It was Christmas Day 2013 and for some reason after Christmas meal at the Reimers, Jerry and Gloria had somehow talked us into playing charades.  The look on Kristy’s face is of her disgust with her losing team mates.   If I remember correctly, her disgust was appropriate.  Her team was horrible.

    Someone asked me today if Kristy was close to the boys.  She was close enough that when we brought Oliver home from the hospital, we stopped by Jerry, Gloria, and Kristy’s place before we stopped home.  She tormented Mark for a decade and he loved every minute of it.

    The day before she passed away, I was looking for something to get her for Christmas.  I was going to give her an Edmonton Oilers Goalie Mask because I thought it was cool and I knew she would love one.

    Edmonton Oilers Goalie Mask

    I decided to day that I am going to pick one up anyways. None of us are quite ready to leave her memory behind yet.

    Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide for the Cook (and foodie) in Your Life | 2016 Edition

    Okay, it is Wendy again.  Here is my second last Christmas Gift Guide for 2016 and the target audience for this one is cooks and foodies on your list.   It’s a series of things that I love that make life in the kitchen better from accessories to appliances and of course some cookbooks.  If you have any comments on things that I have listed or have things that I have missed, leave them in the comments.

    Wine Aerator

    Adding air and slowing down the pour of your wine enhances flavor and bouquet. This unique aerator by slows the flow and gently adds oxygen into the wine by funneling it through a series of channels inside.

    Wine Aerator

    Wondering if a wine aerator is worth the money and hassle? It depends on the kind of wines that you drink.

    Red wines intended to have earthy flavors or age for years in a cellar (and often cost more than $10 or $15) can get to their optimal flavor faster with aeration. Inexpensive and fruity red wines are often fruitiest and most enjoyable directly from the bottle and either don’t improve or taste worse with aeration. White wines (especially fruity white wines) generally don’t improve with aeration.

    Soapstone Whisky Chilling Stones

    Whiskey Sipping Stones

    Don’t let melting ice water down your drinks. Instead use cold frozen soapstones to keep your whiskey cold and preserve it’s rich taste.  Important if you plan to Drink Whiskey like a Sir.

    Silpat Premium Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat

    Silicone’s is both flexible and things won’t stick to it. It’s ideal for rolling pastry and cookies. It not only makes things easier on you but it means you can use less flour, resulting in a more delicate and tender product which means everyone wins.

    Silpat Premium Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat

    CucinaPro Pasta Fresh machine

    Nothing beats a plate of truly fresh pasta. And now it’s easy to roll out your own at home. Whether the craving is for spaghetti or fettuccine, this sturdy machine handles the job with efficiency and style. CuninaPro pasta maker looks great on the counter and is easy to use–there’s nothing to plug in as this is the tried-and-true hand-crank variety.

    CucinaPro Pasta Fresh machine

    The easy-lock adjustable dough-dialer rolls thick or thin pasta, and it comes with spaghetti and fettuccine cutters. Cutters for tagliatelle, ravioli and angel hair pasta are available separately

    Aerolatte Milk Frother

    Aerolatte Milk Frother

    This handheld kitchen gadget, battery-powered chrome milk frother makes a great gift for the coffee connoisseur in your life. This handy gadget works with both cold and hot milk to help you whip up coffeehouse-style drinks in the comfort of your own kitchen. Includes a 5-year warranty.

    Aeropress Coffee Press

    Aerobie Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker

    It makes one of the best cups of coffee you’ll ever taste. This innovative uses the ideal water temperature and gentle air pressure brewing to produce coffee and espresso that has rich flavour with lower acidity and without bitterness. It makes 1 to 4 cups of coffee or espresso (enough for 1 or 2 mugs), features a micro filtered for grit free coffee, and takes just 1 minute to make coffee (actual press time takes only 20 seconds).

    Belgium Waffle Iron

    Enjoy delicious fluffy Belgian waffles with the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker. Made with easy to clean non-stick grids to bake the perfect waffle with deep pockets to hold butter and syrup. The indicator lights let you know just when to add the batter and the removable tray and grids make for easy clean-up.

    Belgium Waffle Maker

    Oxo Kitchen Scale

    A scale is really necessary if you’re going to do serious cooking because wherever possible, you should measure your ingredients by weight, not by volume.

    Oxo Kitchen Scale

    A given mass of flour can vary a lot in volume, depending on things like humidity, temperature, and how long it’s been sitting. A weight indicator shows the capacity left on the Scale before maximum capacity is reached. Press the zero button to offset the weight of a container or to set the weight back to zero to add additional ingredients. The display features large, easy-to-read numbers which measure in 1/8-ounce and 1-gram increments and the platform can be removed for cleaning. The Scale has a 5-pound capacity and two AAA batteries are included.

    Cusinart Immersion Blender

    Cusinart Immersion Blender

    Don’t buy a cheap one–stick with Braun, Cuisinart, or KitchenAid. They aren’t cutting edge but if you don’t have one, you don’t know what you are missing. I use mine for my making Caesar Salad Dressing, mixing up packets of mix and pureeing soups

    Black and Decker Thermal Carafe Coffee Maker

    With a stylish design and durable stainless steel carafe, this 8-cup coffeemaker is perfect for home, office or practically anywhere you want hot, fresh coffee at the touch of a button. All this, plus an easy-clean control panel and dishwasher-safe removable parts for effortless cleanup. The advantage of the carafe is that you won’t be stuck with hot burnt coffee in case you don’t get it off the maker in time. The coffee will be as hot and fresh later as it is right now.

    Black and Decker Thermal Carafe Coffee Maker

    SuperStone / 11″ La Cloche Dome Baker

    SuperStone / 11" La Cloche Dome Baker

    The classic Superstone line of natural unglazed bakeware that produces spectacular results in your kitchen! This Superstone La Cloche dome baker allows air to circulate around the baker for uniform browning while the unglazed lid helps regulate moisture to create the crackly crust and light crumb of delectable breads baked in professional brick-lined ovens. Base of dome measures 11″ in diameter and 2″ high and measures 8″ high with the lid on.

    Of course now you need to learn how to make great bread.  Pick up a copy of The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking.

    Bodum Tea Press

    A lovely way to brew tea to your exact preference, the Bodum Shin Cha tea press combines elegant shaping with crafty functionality. The spherical glass pot features a stainless-steel plunge infuser inside and a stainless-steel lid. Fill the infuser with loose leaf or tea bags, add hot water, wait the desired amount of steeping time, then plunge. The plunger pushes the tea below the infuser holes, so brewing stops on a dime and tea does not over steep to the point of bitterness. To clean up, the unit goes safely in the dishwasher. With its glass spout, body, and handle, the Shin Cha showcases tea colors beautifully but does require somewhat careful handling.

    Bodum Tea Press

    Burr Coffee Grinder

    Burr Coffee Grinder

    For grinding larger quantities of coffee beans for a coffee-drinking crowd, Capresso’s commercial-grade Infinity grinder handles 8-1/2 ounces of beans at a time. Sixteen different settings–four each in the four categories of extra fine, fine, regular, and coarse–let you adjust the grind to the specific blend of coffee and method of brewing. The finest setting is ideal for preparing Turkish coffee, which is a rare feature to find in a grinder.

    A built-in timer sets the grind for anywhere between 5 and 60 seconds so you can walk away without having to constantly press a button to continue the grinding process. The Infinity has an advanced conical burr design made of steel that is usually only found on commercial grinders. This burr design slows down the gears and reduces the amount of friction and heat to preserve coffee’s flavour and aroma. The coffee container holds up to 4 ounces of grounds and remains sealed during grinding. For safety, the bean container also needs to be locked into place for the Infinity to operate. For easy cleaning, the bean container and upper burr lift off so you can clean the grinding chamber with the included brush and wipe down the exterior housing.

    Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler

    Yes you have a George Forman grill but this is so much more than that. The Cuisinart Griddler is actually five appliances in one. A hinged, floating cover and one set of removable and reversible cooking plates turn the Griddler into a contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, or half grill/half griddle. Dual temperature controls and indicator lights make this product easy to use.

    Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler

    Kitchenaid Convection Oven

    It’s a great replacement for the stove in the summer and a supplement to the oven when you are making a big meal or for parties. I am surprised how much cooking and baking I can do with it.

    Kitchaid Convection Oven

    Kitchenaid Stand Mixer

    Kitchenaid Stand Mixer

    The Professional 600 TM has a powerful motor that is crafted for commercial-style performance, the direct drive, all-steel gear transmission delivers unyielding power for professional results. The mixer can effectively mix up to 14 cups of all-purpose flour per recipe and produce up to 8 pounds of mashed potatoes. The Soft Start mixing feature helps minimize ingredient splatter and flour puff with gentle acceleration to selected speed after start-up. Electronic Speed Sensor monitors operation to maintain precise mixer speed. Commercial-style motor protection automatically shuts off the mixer when overload is sensed to protect the motor. Durable all-steel gears provide reliable service. The mixer includes a 6-quart-capacity stainless-steel mixing bowl with a contoured handle, as well as a professional wire whip, a burnished flat beater, a spiral dough hook, and a one piece pouring shield. Its multipurpose attachment hub with a hinged hub cover flips open to allow for easy installation of attachments. The Professional 600 Series bowl-lift design raises the bowl into the mixing position, and its solid, truly seamless one-piece motor head design is easy to clean and comes in a variety of fashionable colors.

    J.A. Henckels International Forged Premio 18-Piece Block Set

    J.A. Henckels International Forged Premio 18-Piece Block Set

    Here are the highlights

    Full tang extends the length of the knife, adding balance and strength

    Triple-riveted, ergonomic handle ensures comfort and control

    Satin-finish, stainless steel blade provides precise cutting, peeling and slicing

    18 Pieces Forged Premio Knife Block. Set Includes 3 inches paring knife, 5 inches serrated utility knife, 6 inches utility knife, 7 inches santoku hollow edge, 8 inches chef’s knife, 9 inches sharpening steel, 8 inches bread knife, 5 inches boning knife, kitchen shears.Stamped Steak Knives (8 Pieces) Hardwood Block

    Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature 19-Piece Knife Set with Block

    Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature 19-Piece Knife Set with Block

    If you are looking for a set of knives a step up in quality, check out the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature 19-Piece Knife Set with Block for $330. If you want to go nuts on a knife set, you will want to look at the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Pro-S 18-Piece Knife Set with Block

    Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Pro-S 18-Piece Knife Set with Block

    Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Pro-S 18-Piece Knife Set with Block

    The J.A. Henckels Twin Professional S (or Pro S) knife series features trustworthy quality and classic three-rivet styling–it’s a line of knives admired by both professional chefs and home cooks of all skill levels. The Twin Pro S line contains knives for all tasks, including the following open stock knife types: parer, bread, peeling, sandwich, utility, carving, steak, chef’s, Granton edge slicer, santoku, and others. Twin Pro S knives are also available in a range of block sets and gift sets, to be sure that your cutlery needs are covered.

    Cookbooks

    Last year I had all of these elitist trendy cookbooks that looked cool on the site but were not how I or anyone else I know cooks or entertains.  This year the selection is closer to not only I cook but they seem a lot more fun to give as gifts.  My friend Gloria gave me the best Christmas gift giving advice and that was to give out gifts that you would like.  I think that is so true with cookbooks.  Here is a selection of cookbooks I love and I would give out to my friends.  Hopefully there are some ideas there below for you as well.

    Gordon Ramsay's Sunday Lunch: 25 Simple Menus to Pamper Family and Friends Essential Company's Coming Guys' CookbookSouthern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ: The Complete Year-Round Guide to Grilling and SmokingGordon Ramsay's Home Cooking: Everything You Need to Know to Make Fabulous FoodGordon Ramsay's Fast Food: More Than 100 Delicious, Super-Fast, and Easy RecipesThe Dude Diet: Clean(ish) Food for People Who Like to Eat DirtyCravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to EatSkinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker RecipesCooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa CookbookMario Batali--Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USAThug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ckMexican Slow Cooker Cookbook: Easy, Flavorful Mexican Dishes That Cook ThemselvesThe Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on FlavorAlton Brown: EveryDayCook

    Of course the best part of giving a good cookbook is that you get to enjoy the results.

    Adjustable Rolling Pin

    Adjustable Rolling Pin

    After using a traditional rolling pin for many years, I gave this a try 3 years ago and I’ve never looked back. The changeable rings on the end guarantee perfectly evenly rolled pie crusts and cookie dough. It’s some clever engineering.

    Linden Sweden Baker’s 4-Tier Adjustable Metal Cooling Rack

    Linden Sweden Baker's 4-Tier Adjustable Metal Cooling Rack

    This is such a space saver. Instead of spreading cookie sheets and cooling racks out all over your counters, you can stack four of them on this handy rack. It folds flat for easy storage. I slip mine in my cabinet right next to my baking sheets.

    Mosa TW Whipped Cream Dispenser

    Mosa TW Whipped Cream Dispenser

    You can have real whipped cream in an instant, any time with this easy gadget. Simply fill it with heavy cream, add whatever sweeteners or flavoring you like, and it dispenses delicious whipped cream. No whisking, whipping, or mixing. The cream keeps in this container in the fridge for up to 10 days.

    Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Better Butter Keeper

    Mrs. Anderson's Baking Better Butter Keeper

    This magically keeps butter fresh for up to 30 days without refrigeration. That means you can always have soft, spreadable butter that’s ready to use. This always sits on my counter; I’ve been using it for years.

    Non Stick Steel Tortilla Pans

    Non Stick Steel Tortilla Pans

     

    I use these for baking oil-free tortilla bowls for taco salads. These make such a fun meal–the family loves them. They’re great for taco party buffets, too.

    Kitchen Mount Stand for iPads and Tablets 

    Kitchen Mount Stand for iPads and Tablets

    This is incredibly helpful for those of us who frequently access recipes on our tablets as we cook. It’s very easy to mount on walls or under cabinets and has quick release buttons making it easy to remove the tablet. The stand is highly adjustable and pivots and rotates to many positions. I love being able to have my tablet recipes at eye-level as I cook.

    Cuisinart Pro Custom 11-Cup Food Processor

    Cuisinart Food Processor

    I use this workhorse almost daily–don’t know how I’d cook without it.

    Breville Hemisphere Control Blender

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    You can spend a lot of money on a blender.  Or you can get this one which is incredibly powerful and less then half the cost.  It comes highly recommended as a “best buy” by Cooks Illustrated’s Test Kitchen.

    Cuisinart 2-qt. Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt Maker 

    Cuisinart Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker

    If you’ve never made ice cream or frozen yogurt, you may be surprised how easy it is with this awesome machine.  Make sure you purchase an extra freezer bowl so I can make back-to-back batches.

    If you are looking for more or past Christmas Gift Guides, check out my husbands excellent series of Christmas gift and idea guides that he posts each year on his website. If you think I am missing something, let me know in the comments below.

    Christmas & Holiday Gift Guides

    Christmas-Gift-Guide2-1[13]Christmas Gifts for the Men in Your Life | Women In Your Life | In-Laws| Teens | Elementary School Aged | Explorers and Adventurers | Cooks & Foodies

    Christmas Gift Guide for the Men in Your Life | 2016 Edition

    It’s Wendy.  I’m back to do my annual Christmas Gift Guide for the men in your life, whether that be your husband/boyfriend/father or even some grown children.

    Keeping Track of Time

    Let’s start with watches.  Nothing quite turns a boy into a man like a good watch.  Here are some great ideas any guys, whether that are always connected or love to get away from it all.

    Pebble Smart Watch

    Pebble Smart Watch

    It does almost everything an Apple Watch does at a fraction of the cost.  It also works with Apple iOS and Android devices.

    • Notifications at a glance: calendar events, text and emails, incoming calls, and more.
    • Includes Pebble Health, a built-in activity and sleep tracker with daily reports and weekly insights.
    • Built-in microphone for voice notes and quick replies (sending voice replies works with AT&T iPhone accounts and most Android apps including SMS, Hangouts, Gmail, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and hundreds more. iOS voice features for other carriers will be available in a future software update)
    • 9.5mm thin chassis with curved, ergonomic profile.
    • Marine Grade Stainless Steel bezel with PVD coating, matte and polished finishes.
    • Tough, 2.5D glass display
    • Tactile buttons for easy, eyes-free control.
    • Magnetic charging with cable that works in any USB port.
    • Vibrating motor for discreet alerts and alarms (wake yourself, not your loved ones).
    • Includes 22mm Silicone Strap and USB Charging Cable.
    • Battery life up to 7 days
    • Water resistant to 30 meters
    • Always on, color e-paper display with LED backlight

    Another popular option is the Fitbit Blaze Smartwatch.

    Invicta Men’s ‘Pro Diver’ Quartz Stainless Steel Casual Watch

    Invicta Men's 'Pro Diver' Quartz Stainless Steel Casual WatchLuxury and quality don’t always have to cost a fortune. The Invicta Pro Diver men’s dive watch features a 43mm wide and 12mm thick solid stainless steel case with a unidirectional rotating blue accented silver tone bezel and textured screw down crown. Invicta is powered by Japanese TMI PC32A quartz movement. This stylish watch also features a sharp looking blue dial with white accents silver tone luminous hands and dot hour markers along with the date display function, scratch resistant flame fusion crystal and water resistant to 200 meters. The Invicta Pro-Diver watch comes in an original Invicta gift box and is backed by a 5 years limited warranty.

    I bought one for Jordon for his 40th Birthday and it’s looks amazing and draws all sorts of attention whenever he goes out with it.

    Timex Men’s Atlantis 100 Watch

    Timex Men's Atlantis 100 WatchDiscover the sleek, streamlined design of the Timex Men’s Atlantis 100 Watch. Features include a 100-hour chronograph with lap or split in large digits, an easy-to-use 100-hour countdown timer, a 99-lap counter, a daily alarm, day and month calendar, and a two time zone setting ideal for traveling. Thanks to the Indiglo night-light system, the digital face is easy to read, even in low-light situations. A strong black resin case and stationary black resin bezel hold a durable acrylic window to protect the dial, while a black resin strap with a buckle clasp make this watch ideal for exercising. This versatile timepiece uses precise quartz movement and is water-resistant up to 165 feet (50 meters).

    Both Jordon and Mark have (different versions of this) watch and it is their everyday watch which is great for work, looks good if they are going out and tough enough when they are hiking the trail or we are camping.

    For even less money, check out the attractive, tough and affordable Casio Illuminator watch.

    Moleskine Weekly Planner

    Jordon has the 2016-2017 version and loves it.  What makes this dayplanner better than all of the other ones out there, it has your weekly calendar on one side of the page with a full page of notes on the other side.  It is a good enough planner to make Jordon give up Google Calendar and go back to pen and paper.

    Mokeskine Weekly Planner

    Parker Urban Rollerball Pen

    Parker Urban IM Rollerball Pen

    A great daytimer is nothing without a great pen.  This pen is nice and durable enough that he will always want it with him but affordable enough that he won’t be afraid to leave home with it.


    Getting Personal

    From there, let’s look at some personal gifts like an amazing shaving kit or as the British call them, a dopp kit.  You can spend a lot of money on a dopp kit of use an old pencil case.  Personally I find the Kenneth Cole Reaction Shaving Kit to be the perfect balance between the two and you get a bag he will use for the rest of his life while being a good value.

    Kenneth Cole Reaction Shaving Kit

     Gillette Fusion Proglide Power Razor With Flexball Handle TechnologyDon’t just get him a Dopp Kitt, inside it place some essential shaving products that he will love.  The market leader is the Gillette Fusion Proglide Power Razor With Flexball Handle Technology.  It’s a razor any man would love and if he doesn’t have one, it’s a great upgrade.

    Jordon has preferred the Schick Hydro 5 Power since it came out.  The blades are quite a bit less expensive then Gillette’s yet they last a long time and the shave is a great.  Schick Hydro 5 Power Razor for Men

    If you are looking to save some money up front and down the road, I recommend the Magnum M5 razor.  We got one for Mark and he loves it.  5 blades, good shave and a package of blades lasts a long time.

    Magnum M5 razor

     Kingsley Shave Soap Bowl with Lid Dark Wood: This will last for decades and he’ll think of you every time he uses it.

    Kingsley Shave Soap Bowl with Lid Dark Wood

    Henry Cavendish Himalaya Shaving Soap with Shea Butter & Coconut OilHenry Cavendish Himalaya Shaving Soap with Shea Butter & Coconut Oil: He may not admit how good this feels on his skin but he will appreciate it.

    Escali 100% Pure Badger Shaving Brush: The bristles on this brush are made from genuine pure badger hair, for a soft and luxurious feeling every time he shaves.

    Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Eau de Toilette Spray: For when he goes out and wants to smell nice but still let the world know he is still tough enough to conquer it.

    Slim Leather Wallet with ID Window

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    Jordon switched to one of these a few years ago and we later gave one to Mark for his birthday.  It easily holds a bank card, a couple of credit cards, drivers license, health card, and a few others without causing your pain if you sit on it or irritate you if it is in your front pocket.

    Kenneth Cole Reaction Leather Briefcase

    Kenneth Cole Reaction Leather Briefcase

    A great looking and affordable high quality leather briefcase.  He will take it with him everywhere.


    Out for an Adventure

    Victorinox Swiss Army EvoWood 14 Swiss Army Knife

    Jordon’s grandfather had a wooden pocket knife that he carried with him every day for his entire life.  This is the knife that your guy will carry will carry in his pocket each and every day of his life.

    Victorinox Swiss Army EvoWood 14 Swiss Army Knife

    Not only that but if the fate of the world does happen to depend on him, he will be prepared with the same knife that MacGuyver had with him.  If you are looking for a classic red Swiss Army Knife, check out this version.

    Gerber Bear Grylls Compact Scout Knife

    Gerber Bear Grylls Compact Scout KnifeJordon and Mark aren’t big fans of Bear Grylls (they one time watched him bite the head off a large frog for no real reason) but they love this knife.  It is small enough to carry in a pocket or toss in a bag that is ready and packed for adventure.  Jordon’s knife has  been used to make kindling for a fire, cutting some branches to cook with and is what he grabbed when we a wolf came into our campsite.   He also uses it for work and carries it pretty much everywhere.  If the guy you are shopping for takes pride in being self-reliant and the one that fix any problem, he needs a good knife.  It’s one of those gifts that not only will he appreciate but when he bails everyone out because he has it, you will too.

    Solo Stove & Pot Combo

    Solo Stove & Pot Combo

    Jordon has a Primus Classic Stove and Mark has a MSR Pocket Rocket stove but they fuel canisters.  This does not.  It burns twigs which are always around if you are camping and boils water in under 10 minutes..  It is a Gear of the Year winner from Backpacker Magazine and is ideal if the guy you are shopping for loves the outdoors.

    Pentax UP 10×21 Binoculars

    Pentax UP 10x21 Binoculars

    Jordon gave me a pair of these for Mother’s Day and a pair for Mark for his birthday.  Jordon keeps a small pair of binoculars in this bag all of the time for when we are hiking and they are great for watching Mark’s football games at SMF Field.  The 10 times magnification is great for almost everything and they are good for almost any kind of daylight viewing.


    Chilling out at Home

    We live in a small house in Saskatoon.  We don’t have the room for a vast sound system or home theatre system.  So if we are entertaining at home, we want a great room filling audio system in a small package and good headphones when we want to escape into our work or a great playlist.

    Let’s start with some headphones.

    Bose SoundTrue II Headphones

    Bose SoundTrue II Headphones

    Bose Sound True around-ear headphones II were engineered with advanced Bose technologies. They feature exclusive TriPort technology so your music sounds deep, clear and full of life.  The headphones feature a softly padded headband that distributes weight evenly across your head, and memory foam creates a gentle cushion around your ears. So they stay light and comfortable whether or not you are working in a co-working space or just relaxing to a long playlist at home.

    Sennheiser HD 202 II Headphones

    If the cost of the Bose headphones are too much, check out a long lasting resident of these gift guides, the Sennheiser HD 202 II Headphones are a great value.

    Sennheiser HD202II Headphones

    The HD 202 MK II closed, dynamic hi-fi stereo headphones are the ideal partner for DJs and powerful modern music, providing great insulation against ambient noise and a vivid, crisp bass response. The rugged lightweight headphones have a secure fit and can be used for both mobile sources and home (mini) hi-fi systems. When out and about, a convenient cord take-up lets you adjust the headphone cable to the required length.

    For when we want some room filling sound, we use our Bluetooth speakers.  It is discrete enough to never be noticed but has enough oomph to fill the room.

    Bose Wave Music System IV

    Bose Wave Music System IV

    This is the sound system you have been looking for.  For almost all of us, the first time we ever heard one of these, we went, “Oh, that is what the big deal is about.”  The latest Bose Wave System IV works with your home Wi-Fi network and Bluetooth devices so you can play almost anything you can imagine. Use it to stream millions of songs from music services like Spotify and Pandora, thousands of Internet radio stations and your stored music library. There’s also a CD player and AM/FM radio tuner. So you can hear whatever you want with room-filling sound-all from an easy-to-use system that now comes in a new design.

    It is the kind of gift that not only will he love but so will the entire household.

    Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot

    You really want an Amazon Echo

    I don’t know how to best describe Amazon Echo other than comparing it to either the computer on Star Trek or Jarvis from Ironman.  It is like Siri for your home.

    Setting up an Amazon Echo

    It started out as a music player but it keeps getting smarter and smarter.  Check this page out for what it can do now (and it keeps getting smarter in the future).  Of course if you aren’t looking to play music, check out the Amazon Echo Dot.   At $50 you can have them all over your house.  If two of them hear you, the closest one answers.  It connects with everything to your phone to your furnace.  Again with it being cloud based, the upgrades happen online so you aren’t a slave to adding new hardware all of the time.

    Anyone who owns a smartphone or tablet would probably enjoy owning a portable Bluetooth speaker. The best deliver sound quality that’s good enough for casual music listening, podcasts, and Internet radio. Portable Bluetooth speakers have a rechargeable battery that lets you easily take them all around the house or to the park or the beach. We’ve found they make hotel rooms feel more like home and long business trips much more bearable.

    UE Roll 2

    Here is what The Wirecutter has to say about the UE Roll 2

    The original UE Roll was our unanimous pick for best portable speaker when we tested 30 new models last year, and we feel just as strongly about its replacement, the UE Roll 2. Like the original, the UE Roll 2 sounds full, with smooth reproduction of everything from bass notes tUE Roll 2 Bluetooth Speakero cymbals, and it plays loud enough to fill a hotel room or a beach blanket with sound. It’s so watertight it will survive being dunked one meter underwater for 30 minutes. Seven months of worldwide traveling with the original Roll have only confirmed our love of this design. The only real downside is that it lacks a speakerphone function.

    Bose SoundLink Mini II

    Bose SoundLink Mini II Bluetooth Speaker System

    For those who want even better sound quality and louder volume and don’t need their portable Bluetooth speaker to be super-portable, the Bose SoundLink Mini II is worth the cost (roughly twice the price of the Roll 2). It’s shocking to hear how much better the SoundLink Mini II sounds than most of its competitors, with clearer voices and a fuller sound closer to what you’d expect to hear from a decent small stereo system. It also plays loud enough to drown out a small dinner party. At 1½ pounds the SoundLink Mini II is perfect for lugging along on family vacations or from room to room in the house but probably heavier than backpackers and business travelers will want to carry.

    Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbuds Headphones with Mic/Controller

    31KkJHBsooLThese are always dirt cheap and available everywhere so it’s easy to dismiss them as not that good but The Wirecutter’s blind hearing test of in ear headphones consistently rates these near the top of their rankings despite their low price.  So if you are on a budget but are looking for a great gift for a traveler, hiker, or someone who is always on the move, you can do a lot worse than a pair of these headphones.

    Harman Kardon Soundsticks III 2.1 Channel Multimedia Speaker System with Subwoofer

    Harman Kardon Soundsticks III 2.1 Channel Multimedia Speaker System with Subwoofer

    A 6-inch, 20-watt downward-firing powered subwoofer. Eight 1-inch full-range transducers. Plug-and-play compatibility with virtually any multimedia device. And stunning industrial design that perfectly matches the clarity of the sound. The Harman Kardon SoundSticks III desktop sound system brings a new level of excitement to music, games and movies with a minimum of wiring and looks spectacular doing it.


    Something to Watch

    Acer Iconia One 7” Tablet

    Looking for an affordable tablet?  The Acer Iconia One 7” Tablet is the one you are looking for.

    Acer Iconia One 7” Tablet

    Another slightly more expensive option is the Asus Zenpad 8” tablet.  Of course you will want a discrete case to carry it in.  I recommend this one that looks like a manila envelope.

    Manila Envelope 7" Tablet Case by Boxwave

    Jordon got one of these when he bought a Kindle a few years back.  They protect the tablet well and people smile whenever he pulls a tablet out of one.

    Apple iPad Mini 4

    If you want to go higher end, check out the Apple iPad Mini 4.

    Apple iPad Mini 4

    Capture the Action

    Why does he wants a drone?  Why do you want a drone?  Check out this video of a New Zealand family vacation which I love.

    How much fun would one of these be to document a family vacation or a long weekend away.  Our household is a big fan of Casey Neistat and his use of drones do such a great job of capturing his adventures and they are so easy to use.

    DJI Mavic Pro

    DJI Mavic Pro Drone

    One of the best drones one the market as well as more affordable than other options on the market.  Since it folds up, it is small enough to fit in a shoulder bag and carry with you always.  A 27 minute battery life gives you the time to capture all of the footage you want.

    Yuneec  Breeze Drone

    Yuneec Breeze Drone

    The Yuneec Breeze is another affordable drone that is designed for social media.  If the DJI Mavic is there to capture cities and adventures, the Yuneec Breeze exists to capture you.  It’s even easier to fly, works well inside and out, and has a 4k video camera to capture everything.

    It doesn’t have the performance that the DJI Mavic does but it costs about half as much.

    Around the House

    Survival Seed Vault

    So if you are convinced the world will end in 2017 or 2018, you probably already have this.  For the rest of us, this seed vault offers a wide variety of seeds to take you guys garden to the next level.

    Survival Seed Vault

    These 20 fruits and vegetables provide an excellent source of nutrients you need for a well-balanced diet. Each seed variety is individually sealed to remove air and moisture and will store for five years and even longer at temperatures below 75 F.

    What’s Inside the Survival Seed Vault:

    • Blue Lake Bush Beans <150 seeds
    • California Wonder Bell Pepper < 70 seeds
    • Market more Cucumber < 150 seeds
    • Scarlet Nantes Carrot < 800 seeds
    • Parris Island Cos Romaine Lettuce < 900 seeds
    • Golden Acre Cabbage < 530 seeds
    • Detroit Dark Red Beet < 260 seeds
    • Lincoln Sweet Pea < 100 seeds
    • Stowell’s Evergreen Sweet Corn < 260 seeds
    • Beefsteak Tomato < 180 seeds
    • Champion Radish < 320 seeds
    • Green Sprouting Broccoli < 500 seeds
    • Waltham Butternut Winter Squash < 100 seeds
    • Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach < 260 seeds
    • Yellow Sweet Spanish Onion < 145 seeds
    • Black Turtle Bean < 70 seeds
    • Hales Best Cantaloupe < 70 seeds
    • Snowball Cauliflower < 285 seeds
    • Black Beauty Zucchini < 50 seeds
    • Crimson Sweet Watermelon < 60 seeds

    Manly Cookbooks

    If you guy likes to cook, raise his game with one of these fun cookbooks this Christmas.  I picked a barbecue/entertaining focus because not only will this encourage him to help out around the house but he’ll have some friends over to eat all of the food he has proudly made.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

    Cooking with Beer CookbookGordon Ramsay's Sunday Lunch: 25 Simple Menus to Pamper Family and Friends Essential Company's Coming Guys' CookbookEat Like a Man: The Only Cookbook a Man Will Ever NeedBig Bob Gibson's BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue JointPaul Kirk's Championship Barbecue: Barbecue Your Way to Greatness With 575 Lip-Smackin' Recipes from the Baron of BarbecueSouthern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ: The Complete Year-Round Guide to Grilling and SmokingThe Hell's Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes from the KitchenGordon Ramsay's Home Cooking: Everything You Need to Know to Make Fabulous FoodGordon Ramsay's Fast Food: More Than 100 Delicious, Super-Fast, and Easy RecipesThe Dude Diet: Clean(ish) Food for People Who Like to Eat Dirty

    You might us well upgrade his cooking utensil game while you are it.

    Victorinox 8 Inch Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife

    Victorinox 8 Inch Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife

     

    A great all-round knife that at a great price. The Fibrox Pro 8″ Chef’s Knife is optimally weighted with high-quality, lightweight European steel that reduces hand and wrist fatigue, making it feel less like a knife and more like an extension of the hand. Perfectly suited for dicing onions, mincing shallots, chopping herbs, crushing garlic, slicing meats of all varieties, and shredding cabbage, its versatility will quickly make it his go-to knife.

    Cuisinart Deluxe Stainless-Steel Grill Set

    Cuisinart Deluxe Stainless-Steel Grill Set

    • Grill set includes chef’s spatula, grill tongs, silicone basting brush, 4 pairs of corn holders, cleaning brush, and extra brush head
    • Also includes aluminum storage case–perfect for the on-the-go griller
    • Durable stainless-steel tool construction
    • Elongated handles; convenient handle rings for hanging
    • Spatula has built-in bottle opener

    Time to Play

    DMI Bristle Dartboard in Oak Finish Cabinet

    DMI Bristle Dartboard in Oak Finish Cabinet

    All work and no play makes for a dull guy.  How about spicing up their games room with a dartboard, darts, and oak cabinet.

    Christmas & Holiday Gift Guides

    Christmas-Gift-Guide2-1[13]Christmas Gifts for the Men in Your Life | Women In Your Life | In-Laws| Teens | Elementary School Aged | Explorers and Adventurers | Cooks & Foodies

    Merry Christmas

    Merry Christmas to those of you who are searching the web looking for something to read.

    Quiet night around here.  It was my first day back at work after the unpleasantness of the previous week.  To be honest, I would have been far better off back in bed recovering.  I came home tonight in tremendous pain and I don’t think a lot was accomplished by me being at work but lessons learned.

    The best part of the day was that it was over at four.  Wendy picked me up and we came home and I went to be for a while.  She ordered pizza and let me sleep until around 6:00 p.m.  We opened our stockings, inside was one of these. 

    The Minnion, Kevin

    Kevin is now in charge of the wifi.

    Wendy gave me a new netbook (which is currently upgrading from WIndows 8.1 to 10).  I missed the entire Windows 8 experience and in the 5 minutes I played with it, I can see why so many of you hated it.  There was a new wireless mouse in there.

    The boys got me a netbook bag as well as some hiking stuff.  They also gave me a bunch of books on everything from war journalism to The Generals by Thomas E. Ricks, a book I have wanted since it was released and I read this article in The Atlantic.  It will make some great early 2016 reading.  

    All of them got together and gave me a Ricoh Theta S which should be a lot of fun.  If you have never heard of a Ricoh Theta S, it takes 360 degree spherical images, a kind of a virtual reality camera that is about the size of a Nintendo Wii controller.  It should be a lot of fun to explore with.

    Probably the gift I needed the most was a 500 lumen lantern that Oliver gave me for camping this summer.  On a day where July seems very far away and the idea of hiking into the mountains seems even further, I really, really appreciated it.

    Mark wrote about his day here.

    Christmas and Holiday Gift Guide for Your Brother in Law | 2015 Edition

    It is Wendy again with my second Christmas gift guide of 2015. So you may have heard of Jordon’s brother Lee.  Lee is a great brother to Jordon, great brother-in-law to me, and an even better uncle to Mark and Oliver.  If you have a brother-in-law like Lee, here is some Christmas and holiday gift ideas for him.

    Generation Kill

    Generation Kill on BLU-RAY

    Generation Kill is a television miniseries produced for HBO, based on the 2004 book of the same name by Evan Wright about his experience as an embedded reporter with the U.S. Marine Corps’ 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was adapted for television by David Simon, Ed Burns and Evan Wright.  Jordon and Mark loved it when they saw it.   So will your brother-in-law.

    Available at Amazon for $23

    Sennheiser HD 202 II Professional Headphones

    Sennheiser HD 202 II Professional Headphones

    The Sennheiser HD202II are closed, dynamic hi-fi stereo headphones. Good insulation against ambient noise and a deep bass response make them the ideal companion for DJs – or anyone who likes to listen to modern, powerful music without disturbing others. High efficiency drivers for maximum performance.  They are some amazing headphones for a really inexpensive price.

    DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Drone with 2.7K HD Video Camera

    71201aQ8O6L._SL1500_

    Get him a remote control quadcopter controlled using an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet.  You can record 2.7k Ultra high-definition live video streaming & recording to smartphone or tablet while flying which a wide variety of preprogrammed cinematic effects.  Plus it is a remote controlled helicopter.  How much fun will he have with that?

    Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint

    Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint

    Winners of the World Championship BBQ Cook-Off for six years in a row and with hundreds of other contest ribbons as well, nobody does barbecue better than Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama. Chris Lilly, executive chef of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and great-grandson-in-law of Big Bob himself, now passes on the family secrets in this quintessential guide to barbecue.

    From dry rubs to glazes and from sauces to slathers, Lilly gives the lowdown on Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q’s award-winning seasonings and combinations. You?ll learn the unique flavors of different woods and you?ll get insider tips on creating the right heat?be it in a charcoal grill, home oven, or backyard ground pit. Then, get the scoop on pulled pork, smoked beef brisket, pit-fired poultry, and, of course, ribs.

    Magellan eXplorist 310 Waterproof Hiking GPS

    71ju9cF0cbL._SL1500_

    The Magellan eXplortst 310 GPS receiver provides essential outdoor navigation with a high-resolution colour screen, waterproof design, paperless geocaching, and superior mapping, including preloaded World Edition and upload able map capability.  Jordon has one and loves it.  Your brother-in-law will love his as well every time that he leaves the road.  Make sure you include a Pelican 1050 waterproof case for $26.

    Dartboard in Oak Finish Cabinet

    Dartboard in Oak Finish Cabinet

    The board, which comes housed in a solid oak cabinet, is made of a high-grade, “self-healing” sisal that looks smooth and lasts for years. Scoring is handled by the pair of chalk scoreboards–one on the inside of each door–that make it easy to tally scores for several players at once. And below each chalkboard sits a shelf that holds a single set of brass darts (included), so you needn’t worry about misplacing the darts between games. It’s the oak cabinet that really stands out, however, thanks to its durable finger-joint construction and light oak finish.

    The cabinet not only hides your board from view when you’re not playing and protects your wall from errant darts when you are, but also looks great amidst both traditional and modern furnishings. The cabinet, which measures 18.5 by 20 by 2.5 inches (W x H x D) when closed.  Plus its better that he is throwing things at his walls rather than your walls.

    Dynamite Fire-Starter Crate

    Dynamite Fire-Starter Crate

    Invented in 1866 by Alfred Nobel, dynamite’s cylindrical shape perfectly fit down the drilling holes used in mining operations. When the charges were set, the now-famous phrase “fire in the hole” was cried to warn miners of the coming blast. Though the contents of this sturdy wood crate will not move mountains, they will start your fireplace. One look at the realistic “dynamite” crate will have family and friends looking twice. Each cedar wood crate contains 20, 8″L x 1-1/4″W, fire-starter sticks. They are made of paraffin and sawdust for a long, hot burn. Each stick will burn approximately 30 minutes setting ablaze even the most stubborn wood.

    Plus there is the joy that comes from yelling, “Fire in the hole” every time he lights a fire.

    JetBoil Personal Cooking System

    JetBoil Personal Cooking System

    If your brother-in-law is an outdoors type, help him a little extra fun to his outdoor cooking adventures with the Jetboil Flash personal cooking system. The all-in-one Flash combines an adjustable stainless-steel burner and a 1-liter FluxRing cooking vessel in a single compact unit.

    The all-in-one Flash cooking system boils 2 cups of water for cocoa, coffee, instant soup, or other meals.

    To use, simply add water or liquid to the 1-liter cooking cup and fix it to the burner. Within two minutes, the Flash will provide two cups of boiling water for cocoa, coffee, instant soup, or a gourmet freeze-dried meal. It’s easy, convenient, and fun. Plus, everything you need stacks and stores inside the FluxRing cooking cup, including the burner and fuel canister.

    Victorinox Handyman Swiss Army Knife

    Victorinox Handyman Swiss Army Knife

    If your brother-in-law is going to stop by and be helpful, he needs a knife that is up to the past.  The Handyman Swiss Army Knife is that tool.

    If the brother-in-law that you are shopping for is into camping and the outdoors, check out the Christmas and Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoorsmen and Adventurers  or my guide for the men in your life.

    So another Christmas Gift Guide is done.  Hope you find it useful.  To read all of the other Christmas & Holiday Gift Guides, check out the list here.  If you have comments or suggestions, let me know in the comments below.

    Click here for more holiday gift guides on jordoncooper.comHoliday Gift Guides

    Christmas and Holiday Gift Guide for the Important Women in Your Life | 2015 Edition

    Each year I put together some holiday and Christmas gift guides for the people in your life.  Wendy wrote the first one and here is my first one; a holiday and Christmas guide for the women in your life.  It could be your wife, maybe it is your mother or sister.  It could be a fiancee or a girlfriend.  Whoever it is, here is the guide.

    Wendy is hard to shop for.  She never makes a list until it’s too late and doesn’t really crave a whole bunch of things which makes Christmas (and birthday) shopping hard.  In case your wife is awesome like Wendy but hard to shop for, here are some Christmas gift ideas to consider and hopefully surprise her with.

    Let me know what you think in the comments below.

    Star K Heart Shape 8mm Love Pendant

    Star K Heart Shape 8mm Love Pendant

    The alluring Original Star K Heart Shape 8mm Love Pendant, crafted in 925 Sterling Silver. This design is set with 1 Heart Shape stone prong set (simulated emerald is shown but there are many other options), 1 stone prong set colorless Round Cubic Zirconia. This product measures 8 mm wide, 18 mm long and is a great looking while affordable necklace and pendant.

    Sterling Silver Infinity Created Blue Sapphire and Diamond Bracelet

    Sterling Silver Infinity Created Blue Sapphire and Diamond Bracelet

    • Bracelet featuring oval-cut gemstones interspersed with diamond-accented infinity links
    • All the diamond suppliers for this bracelet confirm that they comply with the Kimberley Process to ensure that their diamonds are conflict free.

    An elegant and timeless gift for the special women in your life.

    Women’s Grey Titanium Round-Cut Pink Sapphire Ring with Pink Anodized Channel

    Women's Grey Titanium Round-Cut Pink Sapphire Ring with Pink Anodized Channel

    Simple, but stunning—like her.

    Hudson’s Bay Fleece Blanket

    Hudson’s Bay Fleece Blanket

    Function and style combine with this fleece multi-coloured throw by the HBC Signature collection. It features a grip-tape handled carrying strap, signature colours and the softest fleece nap.  It looks great and will keep your loved ones warm.

    Teardrop Terrarium with Pebbles and Moss

    Teardrop Terrarium with Pebbles and Moss

    This is a fun gift.  It is an Air Plant with clear glass hanging terrarium wide with glass bottom. Kit includes pebbles, moss, glass globe and air plant.  The kit is a great addition to any room at any price.

    HP Steam 11 Netbook

    HP Stream 11.6-Inch Laptop (Intel Celeron, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB SSD, Violet Purple)

    Who says laptops have to be boring looking.  This is the HP Steam 11, a 11.6 inch laptop running Windows 10 for under $200.  It features:

    • Intel Celeron N3050 1.6 GHz Processor
    • 2 GB SDRAM
    • 32 GB Solid-State Drive
    • 11.6-Inch Screen
    • Windows 10

    Since it has a SSD and low energy processor, it is a completely quiet design with no noisy fans going off every time the computer starts to work hard.

    While the HP Steam 11 has gotten positive reviews, with only 32gb of hard drive space, you may want to add an external hard drive to the mix.  You can grab a 2 terabyte WD My Passport Ultra hard drive for well under $100 which will give her a lot of space for work, music, videos, and photos in a hard drive that can fit into her pocket.

    WD My Passport Ultra Hard Drive

    3-Piece Cheese Knife Set

    Jean Dubost Laguiole 3-Piece Cheese Knife Set is a great holiday gift for anyone who loves hosting a great dinner party and doing so in style.

    Jean Dubost Laguiole 3-Piece Cheese Knife Set

    This set of cheese service knives includes a spreader for soft cheeses like Montrachet a serving knife for Gruyere and Gouda and a cleaver for hard cheeses such as Parmigiano. Sparkling stainless steel handles carry the signature logo of the Laguiole ‘Bee’. A wooden gift and storage box completes this gourmet set.

    Olympus OM-D E-M10 II

    Olympus OM-D E-M10 II mirrorless digital camera

    I really want to recommend this camera.  I bought one for Wendy as soon as it came out.  Before it arrived in Saskatoon, there was a recall notice which has slowed up shipment of the camera while Olympus fixes old stock.   There are the highlights of the new system.

    Sporting a classic design and sleek form factor, the silver OM-D E-M10 Mark II from Olympus is a mirrorless Micro Four Thirds digital camera featuring refined stills and movie recording capabilities to suit working in a variety of day-to-day environments. A high-resolution 16.1MP 4/3 Live MOS sensor pairs with the TruePic VII image processor to facilitate up to 8.5 fps shooting and full HD 1080p/60 movie recording, with a top sensitivity of ISO 25600. In-camera 5-axis image stabilization compensates for up to 4 stops of camera shake to benefit working in difficult lighting conditions and a FAST AF system employs 81 contrast-detection areas for quick, accurate performance with dedicated subject tracking modes. The retro-themed body incorporates a range of assignable function buttons and dials, as well as a 2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder and 3.0″ 1.04m-dot tilting touchscreen LCD for clear image monitoring and playback. Besides the handsome appeal of the E-M10 Mark II’s design, its main assets lie in its versatility of shooting functions and performance to benefit photographers and videographers alike.

    Benefited by the range of imaging capabilities, the E-M10 Mark II also incorporates a variety of shooting modes to suit working in various situations. A Silent Mode utilizes an electronic shutter for perfectly quiet picture-taking, with shutter speeds up to 1/16,000 sec. available. Live Bulb and Live Time modes are well-suited to creative long exposure photography and a dedicated Live Composite mode lets you watch a long exposure gradually build up during the course of the shot. Built-in Wi-Fi allows you to pair the camera with your smartphone or tablet for wireless sharing and remote camera control, and an interval shooting mode can be used to produce in-camera 4K time lapse movies.

    The good news is that Olympus has put the existing and still excellent Olympus OM-D E-M10 on sale.  You can still get that and until it ships, I’ll link to it.

    Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker

    AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker

    Up her coffee game in one of two ways.  If she likes to kick it old school, check out the AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker.  Fast and convenient, the AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker makes one of the best cups of coffee you’ll ever taste. This innovative uses the ideal water temperature and gentle air pressure brewing to produce coffee and espresso that has rich flavour with lower acidity and without bitterness. It makes 1 to 4 cups of coffee or espresso (enough for 1 or 2 mugs), features a micro filtered for grit free coffee, and takes just 1 minute to make coffee (actual press time takes only 20 seconds).  It’s the number one selling coffee press on Amazon for a reason.

    BELLA Dots Collection 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker

    BELLA Dots Collection 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker

    Get her morning off to the right start with the Dots Programmable 12-Cup Coffee Maker. This fully programmable coffee maker brews coffee when and how she likes it, thanks to its countdown timer and brew-strength settings. If you can’t wait to take that first sip, the pause-and-serve feature lets you pour a cup while the coffee is still brewing. A permanent filter spares you the expense and waste of disposable filters, while the non-stick, stain-resistant warming plate makes cleanup fast and easy.

    BELLA Dots Collection 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker

    Did I mention that it comes in a variety of colours? No? Well they come in a variety of colors.

    Timex Women’s “Ironman Traditional” Sport Watch

    Timex Women’s "Ironman Traditional" Sport WatchWendy has sensitive skin and watches irritate her horribly.  So when I gave Wendy this Timex Ironman watch, she had some serious doubts over whether or not she could wear it.  A year later, she is still wearing it every day.  Because the watch and band are all one piece, it is an incredibly comfortable watch to wear.  Because it is from Timex, it takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.

    Invicta Women’s Collection Limited Edition Diamond Chronograph Watch

    Invicta Women's Collection Limited Edition Diamond Chronograph Watch

    If you are looking for something more formal, there is this stunning limited-edition watch from Invicta’s II Collection features white diamonds set on a polished stainless steel bezel complete with an opulent mother-of-pearl dial.  She’ll wear it for years.

    Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

    Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

    The R H Forschner by Victorinox Chef’s Knife features an 8-inch blade that is 2-inches wide at the handle. High carbon, stainless steel blade is hand finished at Victorinox in Switzerland by skilled craftsmen. A special tempering process is used to produce an edge that can be re-sharpened over and over again, so the knife can keep its original sharpness throughout the entire life of the blade.  There is a reason why it is the best selling chef’s knife at Amazon.

    Humans of New YorkHumans of New York

    Based on the blog with more than four million loyal fans, a beautiful, heartfelt, funny, and inspiring collection of photographs and stories capturing the spirit of a city

    Now an instant #1 New York Times bestseller, Humans of New York began in the summer of 2010, when photographer Brandon Stanton set out to create a photographic census of New York City. Armed with his camera, he began crisscrossing the city, covering thousands of miles on foot, all in an attempt to capture New Yorkers and their stories. The result of these efforts was a vibrant blog he called “Humans of New York,” in which his photos were featured alongside quotes and anecdotes.

    Omnia Bvlgari 2.2 oz. Eau De Perfume Spray For Women

    This is the newest, light, modern Oriental scent fragrance for women. Omnia by Bvlgari has fragrance notes of mandarin, saffron, Masala Tea and white chocolate blended together.

    Omnia Bvlgari 2.2 oz. Eau De Perfume Spray For Women

    Splash Tunes Pro – The Perfect Bluetooth Shower Speaker

    Splash Tunes Pro - The Perfect Bluetooth Shower Speaker

    We have tried a variety of shower radios over the years but they all kind of suck.  Lots of static, batteries wear out, and you are stuck trying to figure out what radio station to shower to.  With this one, the women in your life can leave their iPod or iPhone outside the bathroom safe from all of the humidity while streaming their early morning playlist to this Bluetooth speaker.  If they want to listen to the radio, they can still stream the TuneIn or local radio station app.  If you are lucky, they will let you use it and you can listen to ESPN in the shower.  Win, win, win.

    Sennheiser HD 202 Headphones

    Sennheisser HD 202 Headphones

    I bought Wendy a pair of these last year for Christmas.  They are the best selling over the ear headphones on Amazon and are consistently rated as one of the best pair of headphones you can get for the money.  A good pair of headphones gives you a time out from the day and is a great way to relax and shut out the outside world.   The difference between these headphones and the cheap pair that came with your iPhone or Android phone is significant.

    Bath Bomb Gift Set

    Bath Bomb Gift Set

    Treat her after a long day with  this bath bomb set.  There is the following scents

    • RELAXATION (Lavender)
    • DETOX (Vanilla)
    • ENERGIZE (Grapefruit)
    • DESTRESS, SINUS (Peppermint)
    • CONGESTION RELIEF (Eucalyptus)

    She’s love it and leave the bath feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

    Cenzo Duffle Vecchio Brown Italian Leather Weekender Travel Bag

    Cenzo Duffle Vecchio Brown Italian Leather Weekender Travel Bag

    Surprise her with a leather weekend bag made from Italian calf leather with brass hardware.  Make it an even bigger surprise and put something into the bag like tickets for a weekend getaway.

    Wendy suggested a new shaving kit when she did up the gift guide for men so I am doing the same here for women.

    Genuine Leather Hanging Toiletry Travel Bag

    Genuine Leather Hanging Toiletry Travel Bag

    The Genuine Leather Hanging Toiletry Travel Bag is a staple for the organized traveler. From its rich, 100% genuine leather exterior to its spacious interior compartments, this travel bag has it all! Designed to hold toiletry items of all shapes and sizes, this compact travel bag unzips to reveal two separate zippered compartments, two elastic pockets, and one large compartment. A stainless steel metal hanger extends from the top interior compartment, letting you hang the toiletry bag to maximize your counter space. The small exterior pocket is perfect for holding jewelry or any other last-minute item you might think of.

    In it make sure there is:

    Schick Hydro Silk Razor

    The Grammercy Tavern Cookbook

    The Grammercy Tavern Cookbook

    One of the best New York restaurants, a culinary landmark that has been changing the face of American dining for decades, now shares its beloved recipes, stories, and pioneering philosophy. Now they are sharing their famous recipes which means this is a gift for you both to use in the kitchen.

    Sephora Collection Beautiful Crush Blockbuster Palette 2015

    Sephora Collection Beautiful Crush Blockbuster Palette 2015

    While you are at it, get her a makeup set with this years top colors.  Makeup in 128 colors-72 eye shadows, 18 cream eyeliners, 32 lip glosses, and six blushes-allows for an almost infinite number of looks. The palette is organized vertically by color family and features a built-in mirror for super easy and foolproof makeup application every time.

    If she loves to cook, how about one of these amazing cookbooks this year?

    Crossroads: Extraordinary Recipes from the Restaurant That Is Reinventing Vegan CuisineA cookbook from acclaimed London restaurant Nopi, by powerhouse author Yotam Ottolenghi and Nopi head chef Ramael Scully.The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through ScienceGjelina: Cooking from Venice, CaliforniaTacos: Recipes and ProvocationsLucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian RecipesMennonite Girls Can Cook

    It’s always hard to shop for the women on your Christmas and holiday gift list but hopefully this made it a little easier for you, no matter who you are shopping for.  If you have any comments or think I missed something the world should know about, let me know in the comments.  Of course if the person you are shopping for is a cook, check out Wendy’s Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide for the Cook and Foodie.

    Christmas-Gift-Guide[2]

    Holiday Gift Guides

    Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide for Your Brother-in-Law | 2014 Edition

    It is Wendy again with my second Christmas gift guide of 2014. So you may have heard of Jordon’s brother Lee.  Lee is a great brother to Jordon, great brother-in-law to me, and an even better uncle to Mark and Oliver.  If you have a brother-in-law like Lee, here is some Christmas and holiday gift ideas for him.

    Generation Kill

    Generation Kill is a television miniseries produced for HBO, based on the 2004 book of the same name by Evan Wright about his experience as an embedded reporter with the U.S. Marine Corps’ 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was adapted for television by David Simon, Ed Burns and Evan Wright.  Jordon and Mark loved it when they saw it.   So will your brother-in-law.

    Available at Amazon for $23

    Sennheiser HD 202 II Professional Headphones

    The Sennheiser HD202II are closed, dynamic hi-fi stereo headphones. Good insulation against ambient noise and a deep bass response make them the ideal companion for DJs – or anyone who likes to listen to modern, powerful music without disturbing others. High efficiency drivers for maximum performance.  They are some amazing headphones for a really inexpensive price.

    Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Elite Edition Quadcopter

    Get him a remote control quadcopter controlled using an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet.  You can record 720p high-definition live video streaming & recording to smartphone or tablet while flying which a wide variety of preprogrammed cinematic effects.  Plus it is a remote controlled helicopter.  How much fun will he have with that?

    Pentax Q-S1 Camera

    It fires off five frames per second, records hi-def video, and shoots in Raw, a format that allows for maximum post-processing. But the QS-1s biggest selling point is also its most obvious: it’s the smallest interchangeable-lens camera in existence at around 7 ounces.  They can play pro everywhere they go.

    Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR Camera with 18-135mm IS STM Lens

    Canon just came out with their most anticipated camera of the year with the Canon 7D Mark II.  A camera that is designed for photographing sports and wildlife.

    The Canon EOS 7D Mark II GPS Digital SLR Camera features a refined APS-C sized 20.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor with Dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors for gorgeous imagery. It shoots up to 10 frames per second at ISOs ranging from 100-16000 (expandable to H1: 25600, H2: 51200), has a 65-point all cross-type AF system and features Canon’s amazing Dual Pixel CMOS AF for brilliant Live-View AF. It has dual card slots for both CF and SD cards, USB 3.0 connectivity and even has built-in GPS for easy location tagging.

    Includes Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Zoom Lens.

    Are you going to shell out $2149 for your brother-in-law or brother this Christmas?  That’s for you decide but let me tell you one thing.  If you get him this camera, he’ll love it.

    Winners of the World Championship BBQ Cook-Off for six years in a row and with hundreds of other contest ribbons as well, nobody does barbecue better than Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama. Chris Lilly, executive chef of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and great-grandson-in-law of Big Bob himself, now passes on the family secrets in this quintessential guide to barbecue.

    From dry rubs to glazes and from sauces to slathers, Lilly gives the lowdown on Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q’s award-winning seasonings and combinations. You?ll learn the unique flavors of different woods and you?ll get insider tips on creating the right heat?be it in a charcoal grill, home oven, or backyard ground pit. Then, get the scoop on pulled pork, smoked beef brisket, pit-fired poultry, and, of course, ribs.

    Magellan eXplorist 310 Waterproof Hiking GPS

    The Magellan eXplortst 310 GPS receiver provides essential outdoor navigation with a high-resolution colour screen, waterproof design, paperless geocaching, and superior mapping, including preloaded World Edition and upload able map capability.  Jordon has one and loves it.  Your brother-in-law will love his as well every time that he leaves the road.  Make sure you include a Pelican 1050 waterproof case for $26.

    Dartboard in Oak Finish Cabinet

    The board, which comes housed in a solid oak cabinet, is made of a high-grade, “self-healing” sisal that looks smooth and lasts for years. Scoring is handled by the pair of chalk scoreboards–one on the inside of each door–that make it easy to tally scores for several players at once. And below each chalkboard sits a shelf that holds a single set of brass darts (included), so you needn’t worry about misplacing the darts between games. It’s the oak cabinet that really stands out, however, thanks to its durable finger-joint construction and light oak finish.

    The cabinet not only hides your board from view when you’re not playing and protects your wall from errant darts when you are, but also looks great amidst both traditional and modern furnishings. The cabinet, which measures 18.5 by 20 by 2.5 inches (W x H x D) when closed.  Plus its better that he is throwing things at his walls rather than your walls.

    Dynamite Fire-Starter Crate

    Invented in 1866 by Alfred Nobel, dynamite’s cylindrical shape perfectly fit down the drilling holes used in mining operations. When the charges were set, the now-famous phrase “fire in the hole” was cried to warn miners of the coming blast. Though the contents of this sturdy wood crate will not move mountains, they will start your fireplace. One look at the realistic “dynamite” crate will have family and friends looking twice. Each cedar wood crate contains 20, 8″L x 1-1/4″W, fire-starter sticks. They are made of paraffin and sawdust for a long, hot burn. Each stick will burn approximately 30 minutes setting ablaze even the most stubborn wood.

    Plus there is the joy that comes from yelling, €œFire in the hole € every time he lights a fire.

    JetBoil Personal Cooking System

    If your brother-in-law is an outdoors type, help him a little extra fun to his outdoor cooking adventures with the Jetboil Flash personal cooking system. The all-in-one Flash combines an adjustable stainless-steel burner and a 1-liter FluxRing cooking vessel in a single compact unit.

    The all-in-one Flash cooking system boils 2 cups of water for cocoa, coffee, instant soup, or other meals.

    To use, simply add water or liquid to the 1-liter cooking cup and fix it to the burner. Within two minutes, the Flash will provide two cups of boiling water for cocoa, coffee, instant soup, or a gourmet freeze-dried meal. It’s easy, convenient, and fun. Plus, everything you need stacks and stores inside the FluxRing cooking cup, including the burner and fuel canister.

    Yes, you read correctly, get your brother-in-law a hydrogen reactor from Brunton.  Swap the hydrogen fuel cells in and out of the core for hours of power off-the-grid and on-the-go. Each is Capable of 6 iPhone recharges; 5v 2amp output Great to power USB devices like smartphones, tablet computers, UV water purifiers, rechargeable lights, portable game consoles, GPS transceivers and more.
    If your brother-in-law is going to stop by and be helpful, he needs a knife that is up to the past.  The Handyman Swiss Army Knife is that tool.

    If the brother-in-law that you are shopping for is into camping and the outdoors, check out the Christmas and Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoorsmen and Adventurers  or my guide for the men in your life.

    So another Christmas Gift Guide is done.  Hope you find it useful.  To read all of the other Christmas & Holiday Gift Guides, check out the list here.  If you have comments or suggestions, let me know in the comments below.

    Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide for your Wife, Girlfriend & other Important Women in Your Life | 2014 Edition

    Each year I put together some holiday and Christmas gift guides for the people in your life.  Wendy wrote the first one and here is my first one; a holiday and Christmas guide for the women in your life.

    Wendy is hard to shop for.  She never makes a list until it’s too late and doesn’t really crave a whole bunch of things which makes Christmas (and birthday) shopping hard.  In case your wife is awesome like Wendy but hard to shop for, here are some Christmas gift ideas to consider.

    Let me know what you think in the comments below.

    Star K Heart Shape 8mm Love Pendant

    The alluring Original Star K Heart Shape 8mm Love Pendant, crafted in 925 Sterling Silver. This beautiful design is set with 1 Heart Shape stone prong set , 1 stone prong set colorless Round Cubic Zirconia. This product measures 8 mm wide, 18 mm long and is a great looking while affordable necklace and pendant.

    iPod Nano 16gb

    Why would you get her a iPod Nano when she probably has a smart phone.  Two reasons.  Smartphones tend to fill up with apps and if you have a 8gb or even a 16gb iPhone, she may not have enough room to have much music on it.  The second reason is that she may have an Android or a Blackberry meaning that managing your music with iTunes is a pain in the neck.

    An iPod Nano gives her 16gb of storage in an extremely compact package.  It may not do everything that her phone or an iPod Touch does but it plays her music really well at an affordable price.

    Big Jambox

    Wendy has always loved music and has always wanted a massive stereo system.  Since we have a small home, the dream has never come true.  Lucky for Wendy there are some excellent compact speaker systems as options. Here are a few of them.

    I have traditionally recommended the Bose Wave home audio system.  It provides legendary sound, is $499 but has fallen behind the times.  It bugs me that even with the new version you have to add an optional and costly Bluetooth receiver to stream music wirelessly from your iPod.  Yet if the women you are shopping for still prefers CDs to iTunes, it is probably the best audio system you can get for her.

    For the iPod/Android crowd, I am suggesting you get her a Big Jambox.

    The Big Jambox turns any mobile device (phone, tablet, media player, computer) into a portable, hi-fi sound system that wirelessly delivers amazingly clear, full audio at any volume.

     

    Help keep her warm this winter with a faux fur blanket.  Perfect for outdoor, watching TV. Stay warm this winter and feel great with this faux fur throw. Unbelievably soft and plush. Dynamic decor piece to throw over a couch or chair, it serves as a fashionable, functional accent piece. Perfect blanket to cuddle up on a chilly evening without any of the guilt and cost of using real mink fur.

     
    This is a fun gift.  It is an Air Plant with clear glass hanging terrarium wide with glass bottom. Kit includes pebbles, moss, glass globe and air plant.  The kit is a great addition to any room at any price.
     
    Speaking of gardening

    The ultimate garden book “both a collection of gardens from around the world and a resource for those seeking inspiration on garden design and planting. Featuring over 250 permanent gardens by leading garden designers, horticulturalists and landscape architects, from the 14th century to the present day, and covering all key types and styles of garden, this well illustrated compendium combines images, text, key information and captions for each of the featured gardens, appealing to both amateur and professional gardeners, as well as garden designers.

    Samsung Chromebook 

    Samsung’s Chromebook laptop has been deemed by many to be a success. Lightweight, inexpensive and practical as everything operates off your Google Drive, the Chromebook is great for any career woman on the move.

    Chromebooks are great if you are comfortable with using Google Apps but if she is the type that wants to do more with a computer, check out the Acer Aspire E-11 Netbook.

    It runs Windows 8.1, has 2gb of RAM, and is totally silent as it is cooled passively.  No fans means no noise.  It’s only $200, runs iTunes, some games, Microsoft Office (or Open Office).  An amazing netbook for the money.

    Jean Dubost Laguiole 3-Piece Cheese Knife Set is a great holiday gift for anyone who loves hosting a great dinner party and doing so in style.

    This set of cheese service knives includes a spreader for soft cheeses like Montrachet a serving knife for Gruyere and Gouda and a cleaver for hard cheeses such as Parmigiano. Sparkling stainless steel handles carry the signature logo of the Laguiole ‘Bee’. A wooden gift and storage box completes this gourmet set.

     
    Initial jewelry is all the rage. The 14k Gold Circle Disk Letter "A" Pendant showcases a simple yellow-gold design. Resting from an 18-inch cable chain is a gentle yellow gold disk. A capital letter is engraved in the middle of the disk, to personalize the pendant. The simple design is a jewellery box must-have for accessorizing a day-to-day look. A wonderful gift for the holidays.
     
    Fast and convenient, the AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker makes one of the best cups of coffee you’ll ever taste. This innovative uses the ideal water temperature and gentle air pressure brewing to produce coffee and espresso that has rich flavor with lower acidity and without bitterness. It makes 1 to 4 cups of coffee or espresso (enough for 1 or 2 mugs), features a micro filtered for grit free coffee, and takes just 1 minute to make coffee (actual press time takes only 20 seconds).  It’s the number one selling coffee press on Amazon for a reason.
     
     

    Wendy works full time and then has to come home to a household of two sons and me.  In other words she puts up with days that make mine seem like a meditation retreat.  Give your wife a break from the chaos with these noise cancelling headphones.  If you are on a budget, check out the Sony MDR-NC7 Noise Cancelling headphones for about $40 or JVC HANC250 Noise Cancelling Headphones for about $120.

     
     
    I leant Wendy my noise cancelling headphones for a flight to Winnipeg.  She never gave them back.  She will love a pair of great sounding headphones.
     

    I’m a Mom
     

    She’ll love this mug.

    Timex Women’s "Ironman Traditional" Sport Watch

    Wendy has sensitive skin and watches irritate her horribly.  So when I gave Wendy this Timex Ironman watch, she had some serious doubts over whether or not she could wear it.  A year later, she is still wearing it every day.  Because the watch and band are all one piece, it is an incredibly comfortable watch to wear.  Because it is from Timex, it takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.

     
    The R H Forschner by Victorinox Chef’s Knife features an 8-inch blade that is 2-inches wide at the handle. High carbon, stainless steel blade is hand finished at Victorinox in Switzerland by skilled craftsmen. A special tempering process is used to produce an edge that can be resharpened over and over again, so the knife can keep its original sharpness throughout the entire life of the blade.
    If you are looking for an entire knife block set, check out the Zwilling J.A. Henckels 7-pc Knife Block Set for $120 which is almost $150 off.  The set includes an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 5-inch serrated utility knife, a 4-inch paring knife, and a 2-1/2-inch peeling knife, as well as a sharpening steel and a pair of shears. All components fit within an 11-slot hardwood block, which offers four extra slots for future knife acquisitions.  She’ll love it. You’ll love it.  You’ll pass them on to your kids.
     
     
    It brews the perfect cup of tea every time.  It is the most efficient, simple and clean way to steep tea. Simply add tea and water at the correct temperature, then put the tea maker on your favorite mug to drain.
     
     
    Like most people with a sense of humour, Wendy is a huge WKRP in Cincinnati fan.  Join everyone’s favorite radio DJ’s the rockin’ Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman) and the soulful Venus Flytrap (Tim Reid) as they weave through the inner-office antics of the crazy WKRP staff; including the station’s program director Andy (Gary Sandy), indecisive manager Arthur (Gordon Jump), advertising executive Herb (Frank Bonner) and, of course, the station’s lovely receptionist, Jennifer (Loni Anderson). So sit back and enjoy the sound of uproarious laughter as you watch all episodes of this iconic series.
     
    Of course the reason why it was so long of wait to be released was the hassle in obtaining the rights for the original music.  This set has 90% of the music in the set.  The missing music is the music industry being, well the music industry.
     
    Forget the fast food drive-through. With the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker, you can enjoy a hot, homemade breakfast sandwich in under 5 minutes. Simply place the ingredients inside, build the base of your sandwich in the bottom layer, place the egg on the cooking plate and close the lid. Slide the cooking plate out and your sandwich assembles itself. Open the lid and your hot breakfast sandwich is ready to eat. The included recipe book provides a variety of breakfast sandwich options, from the traditional egg, ham and cheese to the unique cheddar, apple, bacon and egg croissant sandwich.
     
    I have a Nike+ Fueband and when I use it, it works great.  It has been supplanted in both men and women’s minds by the FitBit Flex activity tracker.  It tracks steps, distance, and calories burned and shows you how you’re stacking up against your daily goals. At night, it tracks your sleep cycle, helps you learn how to sleep better, and wakes you silently in the morning. Access your stats anytime on your computer, tablet or from leading smartphones – both iPhone and Android.
     
    In the age of tablets, Kindles often get relegated in our minds.  If you are buying for a serious reader, there really is only one option and that is a Kindle.  Wired gave it’s predecessor the Kindle Paperwhite a score of 9/10 which is the highest score they have ever given.  Then they come out this year and say the Kindle Voyage is even better.
     
    Here is what you want to know: Yes, the Kindle Voyage is better than the Kindle Paperwhite. It’s thinner, faster, brighter, lighter, newer, has a better screen, has more memory (4GB vs last year’s Paperwhite’s 2GB) commands more magical elf armies, owns a Ferrari, and is nicer to your grandmother.

    iRobot Roomba 880 Vacuum Cleaning Robot For Pets and Allergies

    The iRobot Roomba 880 is the ultimate high performance robotic vacuum cleaner. Featuring the revolutionary new AeroForce Performance Cleaning System and AeroForce Extractors, it’s proven to remove up to 50% more dirt, dust, hair, debris and harmful allergens from all floor types and is virtually maintenance free.

    Of course the best part of this gift is that it saves you and her time, time that you can spend together.

    So there you go.  I assume I have forgotten, many, many ideas so let me know what I have forgotten the comments below.  You can check out the other Christmas and holiday gift guides while you are at it.

    Christmas & Holidays Gift Guide for Your Husband, Boyfriend and Important Men In Your Life | 2014 Edition

    Hi, it’s Wendy.  Every year I write a Christmas Gift Guide for those of you who are shopping for the men (boyfriends, brothers, husbands, fathers) in your life.  The highly organized of you out there are already searching for Christmas gifts (as evidenced by the increased page views of previous years Christmas Gift Guides) so I decided that I had better kick off the 2014 edition before I hand the rest of them of to Jordon (although I will return to author a post on Christmas gifts for the cook).  So here goes.  Let me know what you think of these gifts in the comments.

    iPad Mini with Retina Display

    I know recommending an iPad is like picking low hanging fruit but the new iPad Mini’s with a retina display is amazing.   The new retina display has over 3.1 million pixels, which is a million more than a HDTV.

    I never recommend that anyone uses the back camera of a tablet ever (you look ridiculous while using it as a camera), but the front facing camera of the iPad Mini with Retina Display is high definition and makes Apple Facetime (or Skype) video calls look fantastic which could be a killer feature if you or your loved one travels a lot.   Staying in touch is important.

    If the man you are Christmas shopping for is an iPhone or a Mac user, it’s an great addition (or upgrade) from a previous iPad (which may or may not support iOS 8)

    Nexus 7 from Google (7-Inch, 16 GB, Black) by ASUS Tablet

    If the man you are shopping for is an Android user, check out the new Nexus 7 from Google.  It thinner, lighter, and faster. It’s not quite as sharp as the iPad Mini but it has a whopping 2.3 million pixels in the palm of your hand.  So even if he has an older tablet, this is a great reason to upgrade with Google’s flagship Android tablet.  With 323 pixels packed into every inch, you can read text that’s sharper than the printed page, see images more vivid than the highest quality photo magazine, and watch videos come to life in vibrant 1080p HD.  He’ll love it.

    • He will love the technology, you will love the price.  It’s only $199 for the 16gb version on Amazon

    Whether you get him an Android or iOS powered device, he is probably going to want to chill out with it which means he will need a great set of headphones.  Money doesn’t mean quality (most people find Beats by Dre to be over priced and provide underwhelming sound despite their popularity).  Here are some highly recommended headphones from well respected electronics website, The Wirecutter which tests hundreds of headphones every year.

    Sony MDR-7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones

    Here is what The Wirecutter said about them:

    The MDR-7506 have been a studio staple for years, and there’s a great reason why: Not only do they have an even response across the entire frequency range, the 7506 have better sonic depth and dexterity than many headphones twice their price. Plus, they are durable, comfortable, and reliable. And at a current retail price of less than $90, their performance was better than some of the competition that cost almost twice as much.

    If you are on a budget, The Wirecutter recommends the Panasonic RP-TCM125K in ear headphones.  We got a pair for Mark and he loves them.  For only $15, they were one of the best technology purchases that Jordonor I have ever made.

    The Panasonic headphones won because they sounded the best. Hands down. They were everyone’s top choice in terms of sound fidelity. They have a nice overall balance with airy, mellow highs and present-but-not-dominating bass. They sound just as good listening to acoustic guitar as they do hip hop and rock. Nothing pierces, nothing muddies: every frequency plays well with the others. And as you’ll see with other contenders later, that’s not often the case in this price range.

    Ultimate Ears MINI BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

    So if your guy wants to share the music, movie, or game he is playing (let’s not share the game), you will want to check out the MINI BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Speaker by Logitech.

    Logitech’s UE Mini Boom works because it’s a speaker that you’ll actually use. It’s so portable it fits in a jacket pocket, but the sound it produces has enough power to clearly fill a room and preserve the most important aspects of the song being played. On top of that, despite retailing for substantially less than the original Jambox, pretty much every reviewer agrees that it performs better.

    The House of Marley Chant Bluetooth Audio System

    A smaller option with a fantastic looking carrying case and carabineer that allow you to take this speaker even more places and on more adventures.

    It’s small and protected enough to take with you on trips, back and forth to work or even take with you on a hike and day out of the city.

    The chant gives you around six hours of listening on a single charge which is perfect for an evening around the fire or chilling out with friends.

    Tivoli The Model One Bluetooth Table Radio

    If you know Jordon, you know that he is on 650 News Talk Radio twice a week with David Kirton on the Saskatoon Afternoon Show.  So I have to include a tabletop radio.  The Model One Bluetooth Table Radio has both an amazing tabletop radio experience with a Bluetooth speaker.

     

    It’s costly at $269 but it would look amazing on any bookshelf while providing brilliant sound to listen to the Saskatoon Afternoon Show on or to listen to the podcast later on that evening.  Even if the guy you are shopping for isn ‘ t a News Talk Radio fan, can you think of a better device to listen to ESPN Radio on while having a drink on the deck?  I can’t either.

    If he is more old school and doesn’t mind some cords to connect his iPhone to the speaker, check out the Sangean WR-11SE AM/FM Table Top Radio 40th Anniversary Edition.

     

    Pentax 8×21 UCF R Binoculars

     

    These are fantastic mini-binoculars.  While not as good as high end binoculars from Zeiss or even higher end Pentax, these are affordable and portable enough to take with you anywhere.  Jordon keeps a pair of Nikon Realtree Binoculars in his go-bag at all times.  If these had come out when he bought those, he would have picked these instead.

    Pentax QS-1

    Jordon is a photographer and loves his Pentax K-30 DSLR.  He bought a Pentax Q this summer and loved it.  It doesn’t replace his K-30 (it offers none of the lens options or the low light performance) but is so incredibly portable and easy to take with you no matter where he is going.  It’s not going to be the camera he takes with him to photograph Nuit Blanche or to shoot Mark’s football games but it has been great to take with him when we are heading out for a walk, exploring the city or just chasing after the kids.  Pentax/Ricoh’s website gives you an idea of lens options but according to Jordon, you really only need four.

    The best camera is the one that you have with you.  If a Pentax Q-S1 isn’t what you are looking for, then take a look at the popular Nikon 1 series of cameras. The Nikon 1 J4 camera with 1 NIKKOR 10-30mm lens and 30-110mm telephoto zoom lens is a great combo.

    Fujifilm X100T 16 MP Digital Camera

    At $1300 it isn’t cheap but you wouldn’t expect the best compact camera in the world to be inexpensive.

    The Fujifilm FinePix X100was a milestone camera in the industry as one of the first large sensor, prime lens cameras to achieve widespread popularity. Its classic look, obviously cribbed from a certain German camera maker, were justified by the excellent image quality its 35mm equivalent f/2 lens could produce. It was also a rare example of a camera its maker continued to develop, long after it hit the market.  The X100T is is the third generation X100 and is better than ever.

    Google Chromecast

    I bought Jordon an Apple TV last Christmas.  He loves it but if the Google Chromecast was available in Canada last year, I probably would have gotten him one of those.

    Here are the reasons he will love it.

    • Stream online video, music, photos and more to your TV using your smartphone, tablet, or laptop
    • Supports a growing number of apps including Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, ESPN, MLB.TV, Google Play Movies and Music, Plex, MLS, crackle, Vevo, Rdio. Allows to cast a Chrome browser tab.
    • Box includes Chromecast, HDMI extender, USB power cable, and power adapter. No remote needed.
    • Easy setup: Plug into any HDTV and connect to your home WiFi network
    • Works with Android phones and tablets, iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows, and Chromebooks

    Oh yeah, it is only $23 from Amazon

    Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg by Bartley Knives and Bryron Scott
     
    This was Jordon’s favourite book of 2014.  Desired and reviled, adulated and condemned, Winnipeg inspires intense and contradictory emotions from residents, visitors and people who have never even ventured within wading distance of the Manitoba capital. The city at the centre of North America inspires a profound sense of ambivalence, stuck as it is between a colourful and triumphant early history, a long period of 20th-Century decline and an uncertain if optimistic future.
    Stuck in the Middle finds photographer Bryan Scott and journalist Bartley Kives exploring the geography, design and reputation of the only city they have ever truly known, loved and hated. With vicious honesty and intense affection, Scott and Kives expose Winnipeg’s beautiful and conflicted soul for the rest of the world to admire and detest and ultimately ignore.  An amazing book for the photographer or urbanist on your Christmas shopping list.
     
    The Innovators, his follow-up to the massive (in both sales and size) Steve Jobs, is probably the widest-ranging and most comprehensive narrative of them all. Don’t let the scope or page-count deter you: while Isaacson builds the story from the 19th century–innovator by innovator, just as the players themselves stood atop the achievements of their predecessors–his discipline and era-based structure allows readers to dip in and out of digital history, from Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, to Alan Turing and the codebreakers of Bletchley Park, to Tim Berners-Lee and the birth of the World Wide Web (with contextual nods to influential counterculture weirdos along the way). Isaacson’s presentation is both brisk and illuminating; while it doesn’t supersede previous histories, The Innovators might be the definitive overview, and it’s certainly one great read.
     
    13 HOURS presents, for the first time ever, the true account of the events of September 11, 2012, when terrorists attacked the US State Department Special Mission Compound and a nearby CIA station called the Annex in Benghazi, Libya. A team of six American security operators fought to repel the attackers and protect the Americans stationed there. Those men went beyond the call of duty, performing extraordinary acts of courage and heroism, to avert tragedy on a much larger scale. This is their personal account, never before told, of what happened during the thirteen hours of that now-infamous attack.

    A new leather Dopp Kit ($34) with:

    He will love using the gift and you will love how he looks and smells after. (if the price of leather is too high, check out this great dopp kit from MEC)

    LL Bean Canvas Duffle Bag

    LL Bean’s Adventure Duffle now comes in soft yet rugged cotton canvas for a lasting combination of durability and classic style. It’s more or less the same great bag that people have been using since the 1940s.  It now has a water-resistant coating and comes in a variety of colors.  Meets airline carry-on size requirements if not over stuffed.  It’s a great gift for the traveller.

    Maglite

    Men love flashlights. It’s part of what makes them men. He needs a small one on his keychain, a tactical one (a universal one works too) to take with him on adventures and and a more heavy-duty one in your house and garage. You can’t go wrong with a classic Maglite. The LED bulb will last nearly forever, and heavy-duty aluminum casing gives it shock and water resistance.

    Stanley Thermos

    For times when he leaves the houses and has to do manly things, he will want an amazing travelling thermos. Made with stainless steel, the Stanley Thermos is rustproof and BPA free. The 8-ounce lid doubles as a cup for your coffee, hot chocolate, or soup. Oh, and it keeps its contents hot/cold for 24 hours. Need more convincing? Didn’t think so.

     


    Kiwi Shoeskine Kit

    A shoeshine kit makes the perfect gift; it’s something that no guy thinks to buy, but every guy needs. Buy a quality kit in a manly wooden box that has all the necessary accoutrements to keep your loved one’s shoes shining like a sheet of glass. Included in this set are two cloths, a tin each of brown and black polish, two sponge daubers, two 100% horsehair brushes, a shoe horn, and of course the handsome wood box.

    Atari Flashback

    Depending on how old the guy is you are shopping for, he may have grown up with an Atari 2600 gaming console.  He can relive his wasted youth with this flashback system.  92 built in games, the console and two controllers for under $50.  What’s not to like?

    Retron 3

    If he is younger and wasted his youth on a Sega Genesis or a Nintendo, check out this system.  No built in games but it is a completely redesigned Nintendo and Sega system in the same system.  Blades of Steel, Sonic the Hedgehog, Tecmo Super Bowl, and Super Mario all on the same console.

    Timex Expedition Analog/Digital Watch

    I know watches are passé now that we all have our smartphones (unless of course your watch is a smartwatch) but sometimes you don’t have your phone with you to whip out 20 times a minute.  Other times you just need to look like an adult.  In those times you need a watch that is rugged enough to survive and smart looking enough to wear out on the town.

    The Timex Expedition watches were inspired by the field watches issued to soldiers during the first half of the 20th century and look great with a wide variety of get-ups. While there are more expensive name-brand versions out there, if you’re looking for a simple, yet handsome-looking watch and can’t bear the thought of having to shell out over $150 or more, this is perfect.

    • Full size watch, 3 time zone settings for traveling, Maximum style and performance with water resistant leather strap
    • Water resistant up to 50 meters, Indigo night light for low light conditions, Metal case construction for enhanced durability
    • 24 hour chronograph with lap and split option
    • Daily alarm
    • Easy to use 24 hour countdown timer

    GoPro Hero 4 Silver Edition

    He has probably checked out the GoPro channel on YouTube (and made you watch some of them).  Whether he admits it or not, he wants one of these.  Here is why:

    • Built-In Touch Display: Frame your shots. Easily adjust settings. Play back videos and photos. Improved Camera Control: New dedicated button enables quick access to camera settings. Simplified menus make navigating settings easier than ever.
    • Fast, Powerful Photo Capture: Captures high-quality 12MP photos at speeds of up to 30 fps.
    • Built-In WiFi + Bluetooth: Delivers enhanced connectivity to the GoPro App, Smart Remote
    • Durable + Waterproof to 131′ (40m): Designed to withstand extreme environments and conditions. Wearable + Mountable: Enables immersive self-capture during your favorite activities. Compatible with all GoPro Mounts: 60+ mounts and accessories – and counting – for capturing a wide variety of perspective and activities. GoPro App + Software: Control your camera remotely. View and share your content. Easily create gorgeous GoPro-style videos.
    • Protune – Now for Video + Photos: Cinema-quality capture and manual control of color, ISO limit, exposure and more. Night Photo Lapse: Customizable exposure settings up to 30 seconds for single and Time Lapse Photos. Auto Low Light: Automatically adjusts frame rates for optimal low-light performance. High-Performance Audio: New Audio System captures clean, high fidelity sound and nearly 2x the dynamic range. Ultra Wide-Angle Glass Lens: Enables engaging, immersive footage of you and your world. Selecable FOV: Three FOV settings – Ultra-Wide, Medium and Narrow – allow for a broad range of perspectives. HiLight Tag: Mark key moments while recording for easy playback, editing, and sharing. QuikCapture: Power on and record automatically with the press of a single button. SuperView: Captures the world’s most immersive wide-angle field of view.

    Cast Iron Pan

    Cast irons pans last a lifetime, cook your food evenly, and even impart a low dose of iron to your food. He’ll be making you bacon and eggs every single morning with this thing.

    A Wax Seal

    If you get him a great pen, he may actually start writing hand written letters.  What would be better then sealing those letters with a wax seal.  The fascinating history of the wax seal that dates all the way to the Middle Ages. The practice has changed very little since that time, and it’s easy to do yourself to bring some class to your correspondence. This kit contains one brass seal engraved with a letter of your choice, and four sticks of their supple sealing wax.

    Speaking of writing, every man should keep a journal. If he is having trouble getting into this manly habit, perhaps what he needs is a journal so handsome and inviting it’s hard not to write in it.   Wrapped up in leather, this journal will have him putting pen to paper in no time. Perfect as a travelogue for all of his 2015 adventures.

    Another option is a 8×5.5 inch Moleskine Notebook and a great pen.
     
    The Parker I.M. Appeals to modern, stylish professionals seeking a high-quality writing instrument which makes it a great gift.  It’s also at a price that if it gets lost, it isn’t the end of the world.

    KA-BAR USMC knife

    First used by Marines during WWII, the KA-BAR USMC knife has since become standard issue among other branches of the U.S. military. And for good reason. He will feel 5x more manlier just holding it.

    Craftsman 94 Piece Mechanic Tool Set

    Craftsman is the gold standard when it comes to tools. This set comes with the Craftsman lifetime warranty, is made of alloyed steel, and better yet, will serve all your socket wrench needs. For the man in your life that isn’t terribly familiar with tools, this is a great set to have. It comes with two wrenches and 52 sockets, as well as a screwdriver with an interchangeable bit set.

    Pocket Compass

    If you know a man who spends a great deal of time outdoors, get him a nice pocket compass so he’ll never lose his way. Sure, GPS may be easier and more accurate, but batteries die and satellite connections can be disrupted. That’s when having a compass comes in handy. Get him one that he’ll pass on to his grandkids.

    AlpineSwiss Leather Card Wallet

    Jordon went to a super slim card wallet this year and has loved it.  This is the thinnest wallet on the market and just makes a man’s life better.

    Nest Programmable Thermostat

    The number one selling home product on Amazon.  No wonder, it is a gift that will quickly save you money.  The Nest Learning Thermostat learns what temperatures you like, turns itself down when you’re away and can be controlled from your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

    Rayovac Sportsman 240 Lumen LED Lantern

    With optimized beams, rubber grips, and tactical switches, Rayovac’s Sportsman lantern is ideal for use inside and out, whether you’re heading for the hills or camping out in your home during a power outage. Nicely compact and ultra-portable at just 7 inches tall and under 3.5 inches wide, the Rayovac lantern also provides an incredibly bright 240-lumen light that makes it a useful resource for outdoor adventures as well as for emergency preparedness.

    You can also find all of the rest of the 2014 Christmas Gift Guides online here.  There is a lot of great ideas for all of the important people in your life.  Good luck with your shopping and have a great holiday season!  Oh yeah, if I missed anything or you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments.

    Christmas Eve

    After a long day of work, we spent Christmas Eve at Lee and Brittany’s place in Warman.  They had come by the house earlier and picked up the boys and the presents so all we had to do was go home and then drive out to their place.  We had a nice non-traditional Christmas dinner (some of that tomorrow) and then opened up presents.  The key to Christmas Eve is to eat quickly and no small talk (Lee famously said to Mark one year, “Less talking, more chewing”) so we can get to the presents quicker.  The tradition of the last couple of years has been to even put off dessert post Christmas present opening.

    Wendy

    • I gave Wendy a Fujifilm Finepix JX600 compact digital camera.  She has been looking for a new once since her Fujifilm Finepix J10 camera needed a desperate upgrade.  This one will let Wendy take better photos, HD video, and yet still be small enough to take with her wherever she goes.  It also features 3D shooting options which means I will be asking to play with it.  I also lucked out in that it has the same battery that I just got Wendy for her old camera for our anniversary.  A nice bonus for her.
    Fujifilm Finepix JX600
    •  Times Ladies Ironman Triathalon WatchMark gave Wendy a ladies Timex Ironman Triathlon watch.  Wendy rarely remembers to put a watch on and is always taking it off.  The hope is that if we got her a watch she would love, she would actually wear it.  So far so good but it is early yet.
    • Oliver gave Wendy some earrings and a lightweight tripod so she can do some night photography.  Personally I think he just wants to stay up later and is using the tripod as an excuse to hang out with mom.  He also gave her a print of him and Mark out for a walk.
    • Santa Claus surprised her with an Olympus PEN ELP-2 interchangeable lens camera.  it was used but barely used.  Wendy has been looking at a Nikon J1, some Sony NEX series cameras and a Fuji X series camera but apparently Santa found her one with a 14-42mm lens.  I was a little nervous supporting a second lens family (yeah I know how funny that sounds) but there are some really affordable Micro Four Thirds lens that we can add that she will love.
    • The dogs partnered up with Santa and got her a 16gb memory card, a Crumpler One Million Dollar House camera bag, and a 37mm lens filter.  I think she liked the camera bag more than the cameras.  Story of my life.

    Olympis PEN EPL-2

    Mark

    • I gave Mark a Vivitar Action Camera.  He probably wanted a GoPro but I was on a budget and he is thrilled with it.  It comes with a headband, helmet mount, and bike mount.  Expect to see him doing things that will hurt himself soon on his YouTube account.  That’s quality parenting right there folks.
    Vivitar Action Camera
    • Santa Claus stopped by and gave him a Sony Xperia J cellphone.   Mark has had two other smart phones, the Samsung Galaxy 550 and then last year we gave him a HTC Desire C and he has taken very good care of them.  He loves the Desire C but it is seriously underpowered and really slow running Android and would not run some apps he really likes.  The Xperia J should speed up his life a little bit. 
    • Wendy gave him some 100 watt 2.1 computer speakers while Oliver gave him some portable X-Mini speakers.
    • The dogs gave him a pen and notebook set.
    • Lee and Brittany gave him a set of Huskie Athletics sweats and hoodie.  He’ll never take them off.
    • Wendy and I gave him a Canon 28-135mm DSLR lens mug.  It’s the closest thing he is coming to a DLSR camera this Christmas.
    • Since he is doing some winter camping at school, we gave him a couple of pairs of wool socks.  He is going to need them.

    Oliver

    • I gave Oliver a set of walkie talkies and some 4×30 compact binoculars.  He was thrilled because Mark has a pair of binoculars and I gave a pair to Lee as well.  As for the walkie talkies, what kid doesn’t love walkie talkies.  Oddly enough Wendy is thrilled with them because they do Morse code.  I hear beeping in my future.
    • Wendy gave Oliver, Little Big Planet 2 which has less puzzles to solve then the first one which means he won’t be bugging Mark about helping him solve them.  Of course we also got a great family game as we got him Little Big Planet Karting.  It should be fun.
    • Mark gave him Lego Batman 2 for his Nintendo DS.  Oliver loves Batman and insists that Mark is Robin.  Mark isn’t so crazy about that.  We also got Oliver a Batman bobble head.  Something to inspire him with.
    • Santa Claus dropped off a boom box for his room along with some CDs.  Apparently Santa knows that Oliver loves chilling to music with Mark.
    Memorex CD Player
    • Hutch got him an art set
    • Maggi got him a compact camcorder.  It’s only standard definition but if it was good enough to shoot Knight Rider in, it will be fine for Oliver.  He loves to make adventure movies with Mark so I can’t wait to see what he shoots.  The camcorder was being blown out at $10 and I tossed a 2 GB SD card in it.  At only 640×480 resolution, he should be able to record himself doing a “slow punch to the face” for days.  I guess I need to get him set up on YouTube (where he could be Mark’s second camera operator).
    A $10 Vibe Camcorder

    Lee

    • I gave Lee a full sized set of binoculars that should last him for decades.  Very similar to the ones that I have and similar to the ones my grandfather gave me.  The only thing that makes me sad is that they don’t come with leather hard cases like they used to (long before I was born).
    • The boys gave him a framed print of themselves being idiots while out on a walk.  It seems to sum both of them up so well.
    Mark and Oliver Cooper at Arlington Beach in 2013
    • We also got Lee, Bobby Orr’s autobiography.

    Brittany

    • Wendy gave Brittany a small cast iron pan with ingredients to make up brownies
    • Since Wendy loved the griddle I got her last year, she gave one to Brittany as well.

    Me

    Pentax f1.7

    Canon 17-135 lens travel mug

    I also got a Lowepro Classified 160 AW camera bag

    LowePro Classified 160 AW camera bag

    Well that’s enough from me tonight.  We are sleeping in tomorrow (as if) and then heading over to our friend’s Jerry and Gloria Reimer where we are enjoying Christmas dinner.  Then it is back to work on Boxing Day for Wendy and I.