Way to go WestJet. Â Incredible idea. Â Incredible video.
It is Wendy again with my second Christmas gift guide of 2014. So you may have heard of Jordonâ€™s brother Lee. Â Lee is a great brother to Jordon, great brother-in-law to me, and an even better uncle to Mark and Oliver. Â If you have a brother-in-law like Lee, here is some Christmas and holiday gift ideas for him.
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. Â Jordon and Mark loved it when they saw it. Â So will your brother-in-law.
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. Â They are some amazing headphones for a really inexpensive price.
Get him a remote control quadcopter controlled using an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. Â You can record 720p high-definition live video streaming & recording to smartphone or tablet while flying which a wide variety of preprogrammed cinematic effects. Â Plus it is a remote controlled helicopter. Â How much fun will he have with that?
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: itâ€™s the smallest interchangeable-lens camera in existence at around 7 ounces. Â They can play pro everywhere they go.
Canon just came out with their most anticipated camera of the year with the Canon 7D Mark II. Â A camera that is designed for photographing sports and wildlife. Â
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? Â Thatâ€™s for you decide but let me tell you one thing. Â If you get him this camera, heâ€™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.
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. Â Jordon has one and loves it. Â Your brother-in-law will love his as well every time that he leaves the road. Â Make sure you include a Pelican 1050 waterproof case for $26.
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. Â Plus its better that he is throwing things at his walls rather than your walls.
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, â€œFire in the holeâ€ every time he lights a fire.
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.
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 AdventurersÂ or my guide for the men in your life.
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 itâ€™s too late and doesnâ€™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.
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.
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.
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.
- They are available from Amazon and are $277. If cost or size are a factor, check out the Jambox Mini for $99.
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.
I bought Wendy an Olympus PEN last year and she loved it. Over the year we added a couple of lens (I recommend the Olympus 40-150mm, the Olympus 45mm f1.8 (Wendyâ€™s favourite lens), the Sigma 19mm, 30mm and 60mm prime lens) a new ThinkTank sling bag, and some other gear. The result was we took a couple of thousand photos over 2014 and had a great time together.
The advantage of a mirrorless camera system like Micro 4/3 system (which is used by Olympus and Panosonic) is the size of the cameras and the lenses. It means in practical terms that you take this camera places you would not take a DSLR. With 16 megapixel sensors, good (but not amazing) low light sensitivity (if you want great, you need a Sony A7s), you get amazing photos that you can enlarge to almost any size.
If you want something small but with a traditional DSLR form factor, take a look at the Olympus OMD E-M10 for $750.
If she is looking for more traditional DSLR, then look at the Canon Rebel T5i with the 18-135 lens. She will be impressed at how simple it is to create breathtaking photos with ease. The incredible image quality and performance starts with an 18.0 Megapixel sensor and Canon’s DIGIC 5 Image Processor. A continuous shooting speed of up to 5.0 fps allows for fast action capture. 9 cross-type AF focus points help ensure crisp focus throughout the frame, and the Hybrid CMOS AF system enables speedy and accurate autofocus when shooting in Live View mode. In addition, the camera is compatible with Canon STM lenses for smooth, quiet AF performance.
You get full HD video, the ability to plug in a shotgun or lavaliere microphone, and access to the enormous Canon EF-S lens family. You can get a kit with a 18-55mm lens but for the extra $200, the extra range of the 18-135mm lensis worth it.
The ultimate garden book â€“ 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 wellâ€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.
Samsungâ€™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.
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 lickinâ€™ and keeps on tickinâ€™.
It is only $27 at Amazon and if you ask Wendy, she will tell you it is worth five times that amount.
Here is what you want to know: Yes, the Kindle Voyage is better than the Kindle Paperwhite. Itâ€™s thinner, faster, brighter, lighter, newer, has a better screen, has more memory (4GB vs last yearâ€™s Paperwhiteâ€™s 2GB) commands more magical elf armies, owns a Ferrari, and is nicer to your grandmother.
The iRobot Roomba 880 is the ultimate high performance robotic vacuum cleaner. Featuring the revolutionary new AeroForce Performance Cleaning System and AeroForce Extractors, itâ€™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.
Hi, itâ€™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.
I know recommending an iPad is like picking low hanging fruit but the new iPad Miniâ€™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, itâ€™s an great addition (or upgrade) from a previous iPad (which may or may not support iOS 8)
- Starting from $399 at the Apple Store or only $345 at Amazon
If the man you are shopping for is an Android user, check out the new Nexus 7 from Google. It thinner, lighter, and faster. Itâ€™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 Googleâ€™s flagship Android tablet. With 323 pixels packed into every inch, you can read text thatâ€™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. Heâ€™ll love it.
- He will love the technology, you will love the price. Itâ€™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 doesnâ€™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.
Here is what The Wirecuttersaid about them:
The MDR-7506 have been a studio staple for years, and thereâ€™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 everyoneâ€™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 youâ€™ll see with other contenders later, thatâ€™s not often the case in this price range.
- So yeah, $15 gets you a lot. Find them at Amazon.
So if your guy wants to share the music, movie, or game he is playing (letâ€™s not share the game), you will want to check out the MINI BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Speaker by Logitech.
Logitechâ€™s UE Mini Boom works because itâ€™s a speaker that youâ€™ll actually use. Itâ€™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.
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.
Itâ€™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.
- You can get it at Amazon for $68
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.
Itâ€™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 isnâ€™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 canâ€™t either.
If he is more old school and doesnâ€™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.
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.
Jordon is a photographer and loves his Pentax K-30 DSLR. He bought a Pentax Q this summer and loved it. It doesnâ€™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. Itâ€™s not going to be the camera he takes with him to photograph Nuit Blanche or to shoot Markâ€™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/Ricohâ€™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 isnâ€™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.
At $1300 it isnâ€™t cheap but you wouldnâ€™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.
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
A new leather Dopp Kit ($34) with:
- Gillette Fusion Flexball ($12) or a Schick Hydro razor ($8).
- Escali 100% Pure Badger Shaving Brush
- Kingsley Shave Soap Bowl with lid ($10) and Taylor of Old Bond Street Jermyn Street Shaving Soap Refill ($20) or just go with the Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Cream Bowl ($15)
- Intuition for Men EDT spray ($80)
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 Beanâ€™s Adventure Duffle now comes in soft yet rugged cotton canvas for a lasting combination of durability and classic style. Itâ€™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. Itâ€™s a great gift for the traveller.
Men love flashlights. Itâ€™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 canâ€™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.
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? Didnâ€™t think so.
A shoeshine kit makes the perfect gift; itâ€™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 oneâ€™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.
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. Whatâ€™s not to like?
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.
I know watches are passÃ© now that we all have our smartphones (unless of course your watch is a smartwatch) but sometimes you donâ€™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 youâ€™re looking for a simple, yet handsome-looking watch and canâ€™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
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 irons pans last a lifetime, cook your food evenly, and even impart a low dose of iron to your food. Heâ€™ll be making you bacon and eggs every single morning with this thing.
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 itâ€™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 itâ€™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.
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 isnâ€™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.
If you know a man who spends a great deal of time outdoors, get him a nice pocket compass so heâ€™ll never lose his way. Sure, GPS may be easier and more accurate, but batteries die and satellite connections can be disrupted. Thatâ€™s when having a compass comes in handy. Get him one that heâ€™ll pass on to his grandkids.
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.
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.
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.
After a long day of work, we spent Christmas Eve at Lee and Brittany’s place in Warman. Â 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. Â We had a nice non-traditional Christmas dinner (some of that tomorrow) and then opened up presents.Â 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. Â The tradition of the last couple of years has been to even put off dessert post Christmas present opening.
- I gave Wendy a Fujifilm Finepix JX600 compact digital camera.Â She has been looking for a new once since her Fujifilm Finepix J10 camera needed a desperate upgrade.Â This one will let Wendy take better photos, HD video, and yet still be small enough to take with her wherever she goes.Â It also features 3D shooting options which means I will be asking to play with it.Â I also lucked out in that it has the same battery that I just got Wendy for her old camera for our anniversary. Â A nice bonus for her.
- Mark gave Wendy a ladies Timex Ironman Triathlon watch.Â Wendy rarely remembers to put a watch on and is always taking it off.Â The hope is that if we got her a watch she would love, she would actually wear it.Â 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.Â Personally I think he just wants to stay up later and is using the tripod as an excuse to hang out with mom. Â 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. Â it was used but barely used. Â 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. Â 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. Â I think she liked the camera bag more than the cameras. Â Story of my life.
- I gave Mark a Vivitar Action Camera.Â He probably wanted a GoPro but I was on a budget and he is thrilled with it.Â It comes with a headband, helmet mount, and bike mount.Â Expect to see him doing things that will hurt himself soon on his YouTube account. Â That’s quality parenting right there folks.
- Santa Claus stopped by and gave him a Sony Xperia J cellphone.Â Â 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.Â He loves the Desire C but it is seriously underpowered and really slow running Android and would not run some apps he really likes.Â The Xperia J should speed up his life a little bit.Â
- 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. Â He’ll never take them off.
- Wendy and I gave him a Canon 28-135mm DSLR lens mug. Â 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.Â He is going to need them.
- I gave Oliver a set of walkie talkies and some 4×30 compact binoculars.Â He was thrilled because Mark has a pair of binoculars and I gave a pair to Lee as well.Â As for the walkie talkies, what kid doesn’t love walkie talkies.Â Oddly enough Wendy is thrilled with them because they do Morse code. Â 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. Â Of course we also got a great family game as we got him Little Big Planet Karting. Â It should be fun.
- Mark gave him Lego Batman 2 for his Nintendo DS.Â Oliver loves Batman and insists that Mark is Robin.Â Mark isn’t so crazy about that. Â We also got Oliver a Batman bobble head. Â Something to inspire him with.
- Santa Claus dropped off a boom box for his room along with some CDs.Â Apparently Santa knows that Oliver loves chilling to music with Mark.
- Hutch got him an art set
- Maggi got him a compact camcorder.Â It’s only standard definition but if it was good enough to shoot Knight Rider in, it will be fine for Oliver.Â He loves to make adventure movies with Mark so I can’t wait to see what he shoots.Â The camcorder was being blown out at $10 and I tossed a 2 GB SD card in it.Â At only 640×480 resolution, he should be able to record himself doing a “slow punch to the face” for days.Â I guess I need to get him set up on YouTube (where he could be Mark’s second camera operator).
- I gave Lee a full sized set of binoculars that should last him for decades.Â Very similar to the ones that I have and similar to the ones my grandfather gave me.Â 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.Â It seems to sum both of them up so well.
- We also got Lee, Bobby Orr’s autobiography.
- 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.
- Wendy gave me an Apple TV.
- Oliver gave me a rather sharp used F 1.7 50mm lens for my DSLR.Â He also gave me a LowePro lens case to keep it in.
- Mark got me The Longer Iâ€™m Prime Minister by Paul Wells.Â (you can read a Toronto Star review here)
- Maggi collaborated with Oliver and gave me a Manfrotto compact tripod.
- Lee and Brittany gave me Battlefield 4. Â Now I have to go and fight the world myself.
- The dogs got me a lens! Â Err a coffee travel mug. Â Now I can pour myself a steaming cup of DSLR.
I also got a Lowepro Classified 160 AW camera bag
Well that’s enough from me tonight. Â 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. Â Then it is back to work on Boxing Day for Wendy and I.
In case you are shopping for the great outdoorsman, here are a list of suggestions for those who often prefer to outdoors rather than inside. Check out the other Christmas gift ideas that have been posted this season.
Straight from Ned Flanderâ€™s Leftorium, the MEC Left Handed SlingpackÂ $21 | Wendy has had a sling pack for years and just about jumped for joy when I told her that there was a left handed version available. She may have actually wept a tear or two.Â
Pelican 1050 waterproof caseÂ $18.68 | These are great camera/GPS/iPod cases. They are water proof, padded, floatable, and strong enough to take a lot of abuse in the back of your trunk or any backpack. While you may not use it when you head to the park, you will use them when you are packing for a trip and donâ€™t want your iPod, camera, or phone to be crushed. They are pretty much indestructible which means that of all of the things you have to worry about, this isnâ€™t one of them.
Vibram FiveFingers Komodo Sport ShoesÂ $70 – $130 | The typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. Like the rest of the body, to keep our feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised. The Vibram Five Fingers shoes are designed to simulate walking barefoot while protecting your feet like shoes do. If you have any questions, check out the reviews on Amazon.
Leatherman Skeletool CX $80 | Â Now you’re ready to lighten your load and boost your survival skills — with Leatherman’s Skeletool. At a mere 5 ounces the new, full-sized multitool keeps weight and volume to a minimum without sacrificing quality and true functionality, and that’s what the Skeletool is all about. Many multitools have multiple options, but theyâ€™re often heavier — and they’re loaded with more features than most people actually need on a regular basis. Conversely, pocket knives are light and streamlined, but they render themselves useless when the task calls for a more versatile tool. Enter the new Skeletool platform, offering minimal weight, compact size and endless capabilities. And with the Skeletool’s integrated, removable pocket clip, you can easily clip this tool onto a belt, a pack, or a vest — with no sheath or tote required.
Cammenga Lensatic CompassÂ $88Â | This is the Rolls Royce of compasses. Â It has been used by U.S. troops, foreign militaries, law enforcement, and special forces for years. A total of seven Tritium light sources provide readability in total darkness for 10 years without external power or the need to â€œrechargeâ€ using a flashlight.
Garmin Edge 500 Cycling GPS $249 |Â Â Sharpen your cycling performance with Edge 500, a lightweight GPS-based cycling computer for performance-driven cyclists. Loaded with data, Edge 500 tracks your distance, speed, location and elevation with high sensitivity GPS. Add an ANT+ compatible heart rate monitor, speed/cadence sensor or compatible power meter for a finely-tuned analysis of your ride.
Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking SystemÂ $99 | The Jetboil Flash cooking system utilizes the same efficient design as the now classic Personal Cooking System (PCS) but adds the additional convenience feature of an external temperature indicator. Designed to capture and focus heat more efficiently than traditional cooking systems, the Flash brings two cups of water to a boil in only two minutes. The lining also houses a color change window that alerts you to when the contents are hot. A sip-through lid further helps insulate the contents of the cooking cup and prohibits spills. The protective plastic bottom of the cup can be removed for use as a small bowl or measuring device. Â Â
If the Jetboil Personal Cooking System isn’t what you are looking for, check out the MSR Pocket Rocket stove $39 |Â The PocketRocket backpacking stove from MSR provides full cooking function in an incredibly efficient form. Barely noticeable in your pack, it delivers precision flame control from torch to simmer while the Wind Clip wind shield boosts efficiency in breezy conditions. The PocketRocket stoveâ€™s diminutive size is also the foundation of a solid emergency kit for home or trail.
Cabin: Two Brothers, Five Acres and a Dream in Maine by Lou Ureneck $17 | Â Confronted with the disappointments and knockdowns that can come in middle age-job loss, the death of his mother, a health scare, a divorce, Lou Ureneck needed a project that would engage the better part of him and put him back in life’s good graces. City-bound for a decade, Lou decided he needed to build a simple post-and-beam cabin in the woods. He bought five acres in the hills of western Maine and asked his younger brother, Paul, to help him.
Double Nest HammockÂ $65 | The DoubleNest allows room for one, two, three, or however you decide to pack 400lbs. The DoubleNest seats more than one person comfortably and is essential for family adventures. The DoubleNest still packs down to the size of a grapefruit, so there is no excuse to be without your ENO hammock.
Outdoor Coffee Press $40 | Â Now there is no reason to bring that horrible tasting Starbucks Via coffee with you when you go camping or hiking. Â Instead bring some fresh ground coffee or loose leaf tea with you and make some excellent coffee when ever you want with this outdoor coffee press. Â Of course you wonâ€™t bring a bean grinder with you on most trips but it gives you an idea of what it takes to make a good cup of coffee while on the road. Â Of course you need something to drink it from. Â You may want to check out some excellent stainless steel coffee mugs/beer mugs to drink from.
Zippo Hand Warmer $20 |Â The Zippo Hand Warmer is a rugged, metal hand warmer with a high-polish finish and a sleek, thin design so it easily fits into your pocket. The hand warmer is virtually odorless (great for hunters) and stays warm for up to 12 hours. Plus, it’s reusable with Zippo lighter fluid and includes a convenient filler cup and warming bag. Whether you’re skiing, tailgating at the game, hunting, sledding, or enjoying any other cold-weather activity, keep a Zippo Hand Warmer in your pocket and keep your fingers toasty warm.
Garmin eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS NavigatorÂ $168 |Â Garmin’s eTrex GPS series offers reliable satellite navigation, making it a favorite of hikers, hunters, and geocachers. The eTrex 20 is equipped with a high-sensitivity GPS receiver, a 2.2-inch color display, and ships with a worldwide basemap with relief. Add a wide array of detailed topographic, marine, and road maps, and start mapping out your next adventure.
Hennessy Hammock Expedition A-sym $143 |Â Next generation of Hennessy Hammock’s most popular model with all the key features including full velcro entrance seal, mesh pocket on ridgeline and webbing straps to protect the bark of trees. Â The rain-fly is polyurethane coated polyester ripstop or silicone impregnated nylon and may be tilted to any angle, rolled up above, removed or used separately. The No-See-Um mesh and hammocks fabric will deflect wind to provide a calm space inside. Large area of No-See-Um netting to provide ventilation and keep insects outside the hammock. When properly sealed, the entrance design also makes sure no bugs get into your hammock. Â All of this means that you can sleep almost anywhere.
The Black Diamond Orbit Lantern $25 |Â Designed for ounce-conscious backpackers and climbers, the Black Diamond Orbit lantern packs 45 lumens of bright, non-glaring light in an ultra-portable package. A DoublePower LED (1-watt) works with Black Diamond’s dual reflector system and frosted globe to illuminate everything from tent-bound reading to pre-dawn racking. A collapsible, double-hook hang loop attaches to tent ceilings and tree branches alike. Â Mark and I both have one and they are simply amazing. Â They are highly rated on REI, MEC, and Amazon.com and are loved by all that use them. Â Whether you are a camper, hiker, or even a family who needs a safety light in the car, these are a must have.
Filzer UFO LightÂ $8 |Â Alert vehicles and help keep track of your dog at night. The UFO light is designed specifically for runners, hikers and dogs. The light easily attaches to 1″ webbing, dog collars, clothing, etc… with a small carabineer. Five red LEDs put out highly visible red light in three modes – steady, flash and rotate. Its waterproof design makes it ideal for any weather.
If I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current editionÂ and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.
The StarPhoenix has compiled a (short) list of places to check out for Christmas lights here. Â If you know of a place that belongs on the list, you can submit your suggestion on the site.
If you are shopping for a foodie this Christmas (or even if you are not) here is my broad guide to great Christmas gifts for the kitchen. Itâ€™s a series of things that I love that make life in the kitchen better. If you have any comments on things that I have listed or have things that I have missed, leave them in the comments. â€“ Wendy
Inexpensive Christmas Gifts & Stocking Stuffers: Under $25
This uses evaporative cooling to keep butter at room temperature without spoiling. There’s a well for water, and then a butter dish that rests on top of it, and slowly wicks water through the ceramic. The upshot is that as long as you change the water every few days, you can keep butter in the dish for weeks which is awesome considering Saskatchewanâ€™s hot summers.
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $16
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $17
Gingerbread was so last year. Ninjabread cookie cutters make any cookie a lot more fun (and stealthily dangerous) to make and eat.
There cookie cutters are sure to be a hit all year round.
- Purchase from Amazon | $10
Silicon Pastry 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.
- Purchase from Amazon | $9
Thoughtful yet Inexpensive Christmas Presents: $25 to $50
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.
- Purchase from Amazon | $25
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. Made of heavyweight chromed steel, with an attractive wood grip handle, Villaware’s 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. The easy-lock adjustable dough-dialer rolls thick or thin pasta, and it comes with spaghetti and fettuccine cutters. Cutters for tagliatelle and angel hair pasta are available separately
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $29
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).
- Purchase from Amazon | $25
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.
- Purchase from Amazon | $35
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. 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.
- Purchase from Amazon | $25
Don’t buy a cheap one–stick with Braun, Cuisinart, or KitchenAid. They arenâ€™t cutting edge but if you donâ€™t have one, you donâ€™t know what you are missing. I use mine for my making Caesar Salad Dressing, pureeing soups, and chopped a lot of vegetables.
- Purchase from Amazon | $42
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 wonâ€™t be stuck with hot burnt coffee in case you donâ€™t get it off the maker in time. The coffee will be as hot and fresh later as it is right now.
Purchase from Amazon | $48
- Use for port, cognac or wine
- As you spin the decanter, its precious contents will also aerate to open up the flavour and allow your wine or spirits’ aromas to develop
- Heat-resistant glass globe decanter features decorative etching of the world map
- Includes glass decanter stopper and glass base
- Purchase at Amazon | $45
Cuisinart Electric Fondue Pot
I have had a couple of traditional fondue pots and they are really a pain to keep at the right temperature. This fondue pot solves all of that with electric temperature controls. Designed for use with oil, broth, chocolate, or cheese, the set combines powerful electric heat with easy temperature control and handsome but tidy construction. The 3-quart stainless-steel bowl is lined with nonstick coating for keeping heated foods from sticking, and the stand, bowl, ring, and temperature probe all assemble and disassemble easily. A combination of finishesâ€”brushed on the bowl and ring, mirror on the stand and handlesâ€”gives the unit a contemporary flair which will complement the great food you are sharing.
- Purchase at Amazon | $48
Lodge Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill
- Measures 19 by 10-1/4 by 8-1/4-inch; limited lifetime warranty.
- 2 Adjustable heights temper cooking speed; wash by hand
- Draft door regulates heat; coals accessible behind flip-down door
- Cooking grate measures 17-1/4 by 9-inch; seasoned and ready to use
- Rugged, charcoal, hibachi-style grill made of durable cast iron
This rugged, charcoal hibachi-style grill is perfect for picnics, tailgating and car camping or patio. A draft door regulates the heat. Coals are accessible behind a flip down door. Grill has two adjustable heights. Seasoned and ready to use.
- Purchase at Amazon.com | $65
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.
- Purchase at Amazon.com | $67
All-Clad One Quart Saucier
Little pans (especially high quality ones) tend to be overlooked as gifts but I use them a lot around the house in making things like gravy, au juice, or if I need a smaller portion of something. I never thought it was that important but now that I have one, I love it.
- Purchase at Amazon.com | $75
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.
- Purchase from Amazon | $83
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.
Purchase from Amazon | $84
Extravagant Gestures: $150 and Up
Itâ€™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. We have a toaster oven at the cabin as our main oven and while I miss the size of my oven, I am surprised how much cooking and baking I can do with it and how much we use it.
- Purchase at Amazon | $126
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.
- Purchase from Amazon.com| $400
Kitchenaid Food Processor
With its powerful motor, this convenient food processor quickly and easily slices, dices, chops, and purees, helping to reduce prep time in the kitchen. The appliance comes with a large 9-cup work bowl that makes it easy to create an entire meal from scratch. The unit’s extra-large one-piece feed tube accommodates whole fruits and vegetables and allows for continuous processing.
Accessories include a stainless-steel medium slicing disc (4 mm), a stainless-steel shredding disc, a chopping/mixing blade, a dough blade, and a detachable disc stem, plus a plastic spatula, a recipe/instruction book, and a how-to DVD. The unit’s compact build means it will fit comfortably on any countertop, and its brushed stainless finish adds a touch of elegance to any modern kitchen. All removable parts clean up easily by hand or in the dishwasher. The food processor measures 9-1/2 by 7 by 13 inches and carries a three-year limited warranty with a 10-year limited warranty on the motor.
- Purchase at Amazon | $135
Watch the video and then decide if the person on your list would love a subscription to Tonx at $19 per shipment. I think many people in all of our lives would say yes.
Purchase at Tonx | $19 every two weeks
I put together a list of gifts for the women in your life, from electronics to jewelry to stuff for the kitchen. Of course it tends to be slanted towards stuff that Wendy likes but hopefully it gives you some ideas as well. I know of one guy that just gives his wife a watch every single year. It doesnâ€™t matter how nice of a watch it is, after a decade of watches, you need to show some creativity.
Take a look around and if you have any better ideas, let me know in the comments. You can see all of the other Christmas Gift and Idea Guides here.
Tablets continue to be big and if she is thinking of upgrading her laptop, check out these tablets by Amazon, Apple, and Google.
Kindle Fire HDX
The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX packs a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 1,920-by-1,200 IPS LCD display for quick response and sharp images. One of the more interesting features is "Mayday," a tech support system where a live Amazon employee appears in a video window on your tablet.
The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX earned four-out-of-five stars in PCMag’s review, gaining points for its sharp screen, fast processor, and ease of use. If you are shopping for a reader or a person who loves to online shop, this is a great choice.
Googleâ€™s flagship tablet, this yearâ€™s version is thinner, lighter, and faster – Nexus 7 brings you the perfect mix of power and portability and features the worldâ€™s sharpest 7" tablet screen – putting over 2.3 million pixels in the palm of your hand. With 323 pixels packed into every inch, you can read text thatâ€™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.
Nexus 7 is made by ASUS and packs a serious punch. With a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragonâ„¢ S4 Pro processor and 2GB of RAM, everything runs faster (or at least faster than the Kindle Fire HDX)
iPad Mini 2 (now with Retina display)
iPad Mini 2 features a beautiful 7.9-inch display (now with retina display), iSight and FaceTime cameras, the A7 chip, ultrafast wireless, and up to 10 hours of battery life. And over 300,000 apps on the App Store made for iPad also work with iPad Mini. So it’s an iPad in every way, shape, and slightly smaller form.
If she is an iPhone or Mac user, the integration with iMessage makes the iPad purchase a no-brainer.
If you are just looking for an e-reader, check out the basic. Amazon Kindle ($69). At only $69, it has an e-ink screen, works well outside, and the battery lasts forever (mine lasts for weeks). It doesnâ€™t have any of the bells and whistles of a tablet but you canâ€™t beat it for reading. Not everyone has a desire to be online 24/7 which is why you still see Kindles all over campus and on commutes.
Wendy wanted one of these a couple of years ago and I was told not to get her one by some cooks that I know. They said she would only use it for cooking up eggs, sausage, and pancakes and that is exactly what she wanted one for. Since getting her one, she uses it several times a week and has become one of her favorite kitchen tools and has made cooking a lot easier. She doesnâ€™t know how she has gone without one. Even at the cabin, where space is at a premium, Wendy bought one for up there.
If space is a concern, check out this compact apartment sized griddle from Presto.
iPod Nano | iPod Classic
Both the 16 gig and 160 gig versions hold thousands of songs and videos and can be taken everywhere. I gave Wendy a 16 gig iPod Nano and she uses it all of the time. It now has a larger, 2.5-inch Multi-Touch display as well as FM radio. You can also watch movies and widescreen videos on the bigger screen. A perfect workout partner, iPod Nano tracks your steps, your runs, and burned calories and syncs to the Nike+ website to challenge friends. And with built-in Bluetooth technology, you can wirelessly connect to speakers, headphones, or car stereos.
The new iPod classic comes with 160GB of storage in the same compact size, making it the take-everything-everywhere iPod. It’s available in quintessential silver or striking black. iPod classic also has plenty of battery life (up to 36 hours of audio playback or 6 hours of video playback), good looks (a sleek, anodized aluminum design), and other great features (Cover Flow and Genius playlists for creating perfect playlists). You can even rent a movie from iTunes and watch it on the go.
Purchase iPod Nano from Amazon
JVC Xtreme Xplosive headphones
While headphones from Monster, Skull Candy, and Beats by Dre get a lot of attention, you may want to check out these excellent JVCâ€™s Xplosive Xtreme headphones. $16 gets you an attractive bass booming set of in ear headphones that are great for everyday use. Both Wendy and I have a pair and they get used all of the time with our iPodâ€™s and provide a great sound at a price that is affordable.
Sony MDR ZX300 Headphones
Boasting 30mm drivers, the Sony MDR ZX300 headphones are designed for use in and out of the studio. These MDR-ZX300 ZX Series stereo headphones feature high-quality audio components; pressure-relieving, urethane-cushioned earpads for greater comfort and a noise-reducing, supra-aural design.
We have three pairs of these in the house and they get used for everything from chilling out to music to editing podcasts. They are comfortable, inexpensive, and they look good.
Bose Wave Music
The famous Wave music system still sets the standard for quality audio and ease of use among one-piece, table top stereos. It looks great and will upgrade any home stereo system. If your wife or girlfriend is a music lover, this is gift you are looking for.
Its bold, detailed sound remains exceptional for a system of its size. Now, there’s even more to like. An advanced FM/AM tuner displays useful information like song titles and artists. Touch-top on/off/snooze controls and dual alarms make waking up a little easier–for both of you. You’ll appreciate these welcome additions, plus the same jaw-dropping sound, elegant finish and easy operation you’ve come to expect from this system.
X-Mini MAX II Portable Capsule Speakers
Developed in Singapore, the X-miniâ„¢ MAX II Capsule Speakerâ„¢ is expertly designed to be ultraportable and precisely engineered to deliver a superior sound. With a simple twist and lift, the avant garde capsule-shaped design unveils a pair of stereo speakers. These stylish speakers, which can also be used individually, pop open to reveal the patented accordion-like Bass Xpansion Systemâ„¢ (BXSâ„¢) which successfully mimics the resonance of a sub woofer.
The logical choice for the itinerant music aficionado, the powerful yet compact X-miniâ„¢ MAX II Capsule Speakerâ„¢produces high-fidelity sound at any pitch or volume and is perfect in all environments, be it the boardroom or kitchen.
Purchase from Amazon.com | $40
Timex Womenâ€™s Ironman Watch
Built to handle extreme activities, this timepiece is designed with a completely unique white resin design thatâ€™s wide at the case and narrow at the strap. The Ironman has everything you need: an easy-to-use 24-hour countdown timer countdown/stop (CS) and countdown/repeat; a one-hour chronograph with lap or split option; a daily/weekday/weekend alarm with five-minute backup; a 30-lap memory recall for workout review; a 99-lap counter. The oval dial has a white digital display with day/date/month calendar, an Indiglo night light, Night-Mode features, and two time zone settings. Powered by precise quartz movement, this Timex is water resistant to 330 feet (100 M).
Stylish enough for everyday professional wear, the Wenger Battalion II Diver stainless steel womenâ€™s watch is also rugged enough for extreme snow sports and scuba divingâ€“thanks to its water resistance to 200 meters (660 feet). The mid-sized, round silver watch case is topped by a blue-plated unidirectional rotating bezel with elapsed time markings and a luminous marker at the zero position. The shimmery royal blue dial face is complemented by luminous markers and hands (with red seconds hand), small minute indexes around the outer edge, and a date window between 4 and 5 oâ€™clock. Other features include a handsome triple-link stainless steel bracelet, knurled screw-down crown, classic Swiss Army insignia at 12 oâ€™clock, a scratch-resistant mineral crystal, and precise Swiss quartz movement.
Purchase from Amazon.com | $200
Fujifim JX600 Point and Shoot Camera
Why not upgrade her camera this Christmas with a Fujifilm JX600? It is a slim, stylish digital camera built to let you capture the moments that bring a smile to your face. With a 5x zoom, this 14MP camera has a CCD sensor to take crisp, clear images every time. Thin enough to pop in your pocket, it boasts advanced filter functions, takes stunning motion panoramas and records HD videos to preserve special moments long after they’ve happened.
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.
Purchase from Amazon | $67
Canon Rebel T5i Digital SLR Camera and 18-55mm Lens Kit
Photo enthusiasts rejoice! The new flagship of the spectacular Rebel Line, the EOS Rebel T5i, is here to renew your artistic side with amazing imaging features and full-featured functionality. Users will be impressed at how simple and intuitive it is to create breathtaking photos with ease.
The incredible image quality and performance starts with an 18.0 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor and Canon’s superb DIGIC 5 Image Processor. Combined with an extensive ISO range of 100â€“12800 (expandable to 25600 in H mode), the EOS Rebel T5i boasts crisp, detailed images, even in low-light situations. A continuous shooting speed of up to 5.0 fps allows for fast action capture. 9 cross-type AF focus points help ensure crisp focus throughout the frame, and the Hybrid CMOS AF system enables speedy and accurate autofocus when shooting in Live View mode. In addition, the camera is compatible with Canon STM lenses for smooth, quiet AF performance.
The performance doesn’t stop with photos. EOS Full HD Movie mode with Movie Servo AF makes shooting high quality movies easy, and the brilliant Vari-angle Touch Screen 3.0-inch Clear View LCD monitor II makes composing fun. Seven Creative Filters, now viewable in real time, puts composition control directly in your hands and is just one of the many features of the EOS Rebel T5i that is sure to renew your special personâ€™s creative soul.
If cost is a factor, check out Canonâ€™s still capable Canon EOS Rebel T3i for $599.
If you or the target of your affections lives in Toronto, Vancouver, Boston,Brooklyn, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle among others. They are $22 a poster which makes them a pretty cool value. Of course they donâ€™t have one of either Brandon, Manitoba or Georgetown, Guyana which makes them pretty much useless for Wendy but maybe you will have some better luck.
MEC Shoulder Bag
Wendy has had three different versions of one of MECs most popular bags. The latest version has the vintage look of aged canvas, plus pockets and a slot for your iPadÂ® or e-reader loaded with the complete works of Jack Kerouac.
- Front flap has pocket.
- Side pocket has VelcroÂ® flap and a drain hole for your umbrella.
- An outer pocket has a snap closure, one is zippered and has pen holder and inside pocket, the slot for iPad or e-book reader closes with Velcro.
- Padded back.
- Adjustable shoulder strap.
This could be the coolest version yet.
You can also find all of the rest of the 2013 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!
It’s that time of year again when people start searching the web for Christmas gifts for loved ones. For the last several years I have published a gift guide of what to get for your husband on JordonCooper.com and this year is no different. So without further ado (and I know how much we all hate ado), here is my Christmas gift suggestions for your husband/boyfriend/father (and all of the other men in your life). If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments â€“ Wendy.
Sony RX-100 II
If you are looking for the world’s best point and shoot compact camera, here it is; the Sony RX-100 II.
- It has a huge one inch sensor (which means better low light performance and more vibrant photos)
- It features an extremely fast F1.8 Carl Zeiss lens which again will mean excellent low light photos and action shots.
- Connection to your smartphone via Wi-Fi or if you have a new Android powered phone, NFC.
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $748
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $549
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $120
GoPro Hero 3+
You have probably seen one of the hundreds of amazing videos that have been posted to the GoPro YouTube Channel or seen one of the many thousands of more videos that have been posted over the last couple of years with these amazing cameras. While GoPro has competitors, none match the features that GoPro offers or any of the many mounts that GoPro has to secure the camera to your car, head, chest, poles, floatation devices, or bikes with ease. For $20-$30 you can literally mount a GoPro on anything.
The camera itself is a lot fun with a super wide angle view, HD video, slow motion video, and time lapse features that allow you to film your ideas. Jordon has one and has had a lot of fun over the years with it. Your guy will as well. An added bonus is that GoPro has released a free video editor so you can easily edit and upload your adventures.
- Purchase the Black Edition from Amazon.com | $399
- Purchase the Silver Edition from Amazon.com | $299
- Whatever edition you choose to get, you’ll need a Micro SD card. You can get a high speed card from Amazon.com for $23.
The bright f/1.8 lens lets you capture quality pictures not normally possible with a compact camera. Noise is kept to a minimum without boosting sensitivity, while camera-shake and subject motion are prevented due to high shutter speeds. And thanks to the large aperture, you can also create attractive "bokeh" blurred background effects.
With itâ€™s retro styling, itâ€™s also a camera guaranteed to be noticed even before you take those great photos.
- Purchase at Amazon | $249
Electronics is cool but so is writing stuff down with pen and paper and nothing beats a Moleskine notebook and a quality pen to do that with. You can find really nice Moleskine notebooks in any bookstore but for about half of that, you can find journals at your local Staples or office supply store.
- Purchase Moleskine notebook at Amazon | $29
- Purchase Parker Metro Fountain Pen at Amazon.com | $17
- Purchase Cambridge Business Notebook at Staples | $12
I purchased Jordon a pair of Bose IE2 in ear headphones last year. He put them in his ears and could not believe the difference between them and the $20 headphones he had used forever. As he said, "It’s like hearing my music for the first time again". For Father’s Day, I got him a pair of Bose AE2 headphones that go over the ear and the sound was even better. It’s easy to dismiss high end headphones as not being worth the money but I can really say that these are. Both are incredibly comfortable and bring a bit of luxury to your world no matter where you are listening to them at. Everyone needs a retreat and this does that. I can’t recommend them enough.
If you are looking for a less expensive option, check out JVCâ€™s Xplosive Xtreme headphones. $16 gets you an attractive bass booming set of in ear headphones that are great for everyday use.
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $16
For over the ear comfort and sound at a great price, check out Sonyâ€™s MDR-ZX100 headphones. We have a couple of pairs around the house and they are much loved and oft used.
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $15
Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff | Jordon grew up with Detroit cable television and for many in our city, they have a close affinity with Detroit. This is the story of what went wrong and is told from a personal perspective. Back in his broken hometown, Pulitzer Prizeâ€“winning journalist Charlie LeDuff searches through the ruins for clues to its fate, his familyâ€™s, and his own. Detroit is where his motherâ€™s flower shop was firebombed in the pre-Halloween orgy of arson known as Devilâ€™s Night; where his sister lost herself to the west side streets; where his brother, who once sold subprime mortgages with skill and silk, now works in a factory cleaning Chinese-manufactured screws so they can be repackaged as â€œMay Be Made in United States.â€
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $21
The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006- by Paul Wells | This is the book that every one of our friends is reading or wants for Christmas. In The Longer Iâ€™m Prime Minister, Paul Wells explores just what Harperâ€™s understanding of Canada is, and who he speaks for in the national conversation. He explains Harper not only to Harper supporters but also to readers who canâ€™t believe he is still Canadaâ€™s prime minister. In this authoritative, engaging and sometimes deeply critical account of the man, Paul Wells also brings us an illuminating portrait of Canadian democracy: â€œglorious, a little dented, and free.â€
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $20
Samsung 2.1 Channel 100-Watt Dual Audio Dock | If the guy you are shopping for is a music lover, you will want to consider this amazing Samsung wireless speaker dock. Incredible sound and rich, warm styling makes the Samsung DA-E750 wireless audio dock the perfect addition to your home. The unique vacuum tube amplifier technology lets you hear music the way it was meant to be heard. Compatible with both Samsung and Apple phones, this device lets you stream music using either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology, or load it from a USB memory stick.
- Purchase 100-Watt Dock from Amazon.com | $459
- Purchase 40-Watt Dock from Amazon.com | $249
- Purchase 10-Watt Dock from Amazon.com | $85
If your husband is a fan of the radio (nothing better than baseball on a summerâ€™s night over the radio), check out the SANGEAN WR-11 AM/FM Table Top Radio. Elegant simplicity combined with state-of-the-art performance sets the Sangean Model WR-11 AM/FM Table Top Radio head and shoulders above the competition. In true Sangean tradition, AM/FM reception is excellent providing clear and static free listening. Rotary dials adjust the volume, selects AM/FM bands, and precisely tunes your station selection displayed in a softly lighted analog display. An LED tuning eye assures youâ€™re achieving the best reception for your selected station. In addition, a stereo headphone jack and provision for an external AM and FM antenna is also provided. An AUX-In jack for playing your favourite MP3 music from your portable devices is available as well as a Record-Out jack for routing to your recording equipment or external devices.
Plus baseball just sounds better played on one of these radios.
- Purchase from Amazon | $85
X-Mini II Portable Capsule Speaker | Jordon gave me one of these last year and I thought it looked cute and didn’t think much more about it but they work fantastic. The big difference with the X-Mini II speakers is that you can link them together to create better sound as well as more volume. We take ours with us everywhere and its nice at the cabin or even in a hotel room on a vacation. There are some other two speaker options as well but you can find the X-Mini’s almost everywhere and they are about the same price.
- Purchase from Amazon | $20
Keep your belongings, and yourself, stylishly organized with Kenneth Coleâ€™s lovely messenger bag. Contrast stitching accents its rich leather body, while a short handle and long, adjustable strap keep your carrying options open. The flap closure opens up to reveal a roomy main compartment, complete with a full-length zipper pocket for your smaller necessities. Front gusseted pockets include a cell phone pocket to keep it handy and within reach.
Soft, Columbian full-grain leather and casual, but polished styling make this messenger the perfect bag for work and everyday. The interior is simple, but versatile enough to carry a laptop, papers, books, etc. There is even a cell phone pocket plus organizer features in the front gusset pockets.
- Purchase from Amazon | $68 (you save $180)
- Purchase from Red Canoe | $24.99
- Purchase from Red Canoe | $149.99
RCAF Dopp Kitt | Unlike many women who require a small suitcase for their toiletries, a traveling man needs only a few essentials to be happy. Nevertheless, a man needs a place to stow these items. Enter the Dopp kit. Now you can get a $5 shaving kit from Wal-Mart but that has no class What you want is something with personality and I think we can all agree, this dope kit has personality. Not only will it keep you guy’s stuff organized, it will be something he holds on to for years and years.
- Purchase from Red Canoe | $45
Sipping Stones is the aficionado’s choice for chilling a drink. It eliminates a common problem for all connoisseurs of fine whiskey: it cools your drink perfectly without the dilution from melting ice. Now all your favorite drinks are able to be served the way they were intended to be, perfectly pure and precisely chilled. Sipping Stones are non-porous meaning there is no odor or taste to tarnish your drink. And unlike ice, Sipping Stones provides a smooth chill that does not overwhelm the character of your beverage. Each set of Sipping Stones comes with nine finely crafted cubes made from soapstone, a safe alternative to ice. Sipping Stones is a great gift for anyone who loves the perfectly chilled beverage. Or you can use it as a conversation starter at your next party. Simply keep the Sipping Stones in your freezer until you are ready to chill your next glass of whiskey.
- Purchase from Amazon | $15
Finally, how much fun would any guy have playing with an AR Drone 2.0 quadcopter. Itâ€™s easy to fly, records in HD video and if he does crash it (you know he will), there is a large stock of replacement parts.
That being said, the automated features of the AR Drone 2.0 make it almost impossible to crash making it stable platform to fly, do stunts with or film video with. Take a look at the video below to see how it performs
Purchase at Amazon.com | $299
Netatmo Urban Weather Station
The Netatmo Weather Station contains a unique set of sensors to monitor your living environment and wirelessly transmits all your data to your Smartphone. The Netatmo App displays your Stationâ€™s indoor and outdoor measurements into clear and comprehensive dashboards, graphs and notifications. All of your data is recorded online and made permanently accessible for you, on your Smartphone or PC. Seamlessly measure, track and monitor your Weather and Environment, indoor and outdoor, at any time and from anywhere. The Netatmo App is available for free at the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. With the app you can:
- Connect multiple Stations to your Smartphone or computer
- Check the your Stations from any Smartphone or computer
- Share the info on your favorite social networks
We spend 80% of our time indoor, resting, playing with the kids or at the office. The Netatmo Station monitors your indoor air quality (CO2 concentration), and reminds you to ventilate, at the right moment. The Netatmo Weather Station allows city dwellers to monitor indoor air quality, get real-time updates on local Air Quality Index report and pick the best moments for outdoor activities.The Netatmo Weather Station also monitors noise pollution and measures home or office acoustic comfort.
- Purchase at Amazon | $180
Bushnell 10×42 Binoculars
Bushnell Powerview Roof Prism Binoculars are designed to provide high-quality optics in a versatile and durable format at an affordable price. Constructed with a rugged, shock absorbing rubber armor for a comfortable, non-slip grip and equipped with the roof prism system for increased durability, Powerview Binoculars are suitable for multiple applications from sports to nature viewing. The 10×42 Powerview Binoculars offer powerful 10x magnification with larger, light-gathering 42-millimeter objective lenses that will perform well anywhere you use them–from a bird watching hike to a stadium. Meanwhile the BaK-7 prisms and multi-coated optics provide high-level image resolution and clarity. Additional user friendly details include a center focus knob for easy adjustments, fold down eye cups, and a tripod adaptable base. Bushnell Powerview Binoculars carry a limited lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship for the original owner.
Purchase at Amazon.com | $69
Give the gift of great coffee. Tonx sources the best beans from exceptional coffee farmers who are as fanatical about tasty coffee as we are. To make the best cup, you have to start with the best ingredients. Tonx has years of experience finding and working with the best farmers in the world.
They then ship that amazing coffee to your house. It costs you $19 per 12oz shipment and you have a new shipment coming every two weeks. Thatâ€™s right, fresh coffee beans coming to your house every second week. How awesome is that?
Purchase from Tonx | Prices vary according to plan
He Likes Black Coffee | This is a mug for Jordon. Over the years I have given some cool (and not so cool) gifts but his eyes light up every time he sees a cool coffee mug. Of course there are some limitations. Your guy has to like black coffee but if he does, he will love this gift.
Purchase from Indigo | $10
I am biased because Jordon has been selling some amazing photographs of shots he has posted to The Daily but have you considered the gift of art this Christmas? Image Kind has hundreds of incredible artists selling amazing art on archival quality paper. Not only are you supporting local artists but you are getting someone you love something that they wonâ€™t get at your local big box store. Check out his Saskatoon, rural, and travel galleries. You may be surprised at what you will find there.
Am I missing anything? Do you have some great ideas I should be thinking of? Let me know in the comments.
You can also find all of the rest of the 2013 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!
Christmas for us started on the 23rd as we joined our good friends Gloria, Jerry, and Kristy for our traditional Christmas together. Â It was a bit different this year because of Gloria’s cancer but it was a fun night of exchanging gifts and hanging out. Â We gave some books (as is our tradition) but I gave Gloria a Sound Spa which should help her sleep while the boys gave her a plush blanket.
Because I like to make fun of Kristy, we gave her an Edmonton Oilers Snuggie. Â Because most of Kristy’s life is dedicated to a) staying warm and b) the Edmonton Oilers, she liked it.
Christmas Eve had Wendy working all day. Â This is the worst schedule she has ever had over a Christmas season and it hasn’t been a lot of fun for us as a family but that is the life of people working retail. Â I worked part of the day and then headed home to spend the rest of the day with the boys. Â We gave the boys two early gifts of some NHLPA hockey sticks so they could play some road hockey during the day. Of course it was freezing outside so instead of playing hockey, we just taped them up. Â While she worked, we packed up the Mazda and headed out to Warman where we spent the evening at Â Lee and Brittany’s place for a traditional Christmas supper of lasagna and fighting over who got the lasagna leftovers before opening gifts.
Lee is known to master such phrases as “less talking, more chewing” on Christmas Eve. Â While he loves lasagna, he loves presents more. Â In the past when Wendy was working, he would spend most of the day badmouthing Wendy and trying to convince Mark to open Christmas presents without his mom. Â He takes this whole Christmas gift opening seriously.
Of the delay in eating turned costly when Oliver was playing with Tika (Lee and Brittany’s dog) and fell nose first into the edge of the carpet. Â There was crying, rug burn, and blood all over the place. Â While Oliver’s new shirt paid a steep cost, all was okay. Â It wasn’t as if I didn’t expect blood, I just expected it over the lasagna.
Santa gave Mark a new HTC Desire CÂ Android Smart phonewhile I got him aÂ Fuji AV150 camera (and tripod). Â I had created a Instagram, Foursquare, and upgraded his Flickr to a pro account on Sunday. Â We made sure we had batteries, SD (and Micro SD) cards all ready to go. Â Now we have to download some apps which will mean some quality time on Google Play today. Â I gave him a 1932 Chevrolet Truck scale model to build, Oliver gave him some adventure and Star Wars blueprint books (and some Daytona 500 cologne). Â He also got a graphic novel story of Canadians in WWII as well as a book on how to create his own graphic novel
In his stocking he found a new watch, a big bottle of the worst cologne known to man, Brut 33 (Wendy wept tears of pain when I showed her the bottle) Â Mark also got some high quality headphones; both on the ear and in ear ones. Â The less I have to listen to 90s rock, the better.Â
Lee and Brittany gave him a Denver Broncos jersey with his name and number on it. Â Thank goodness Tim Tebow was traded before the season started. Â He was pretty excited with that. Â Almost as excited as Tim Tebow gets about everything.
He also got a Starbucks travel mug and gift card from myself. Â It’s a bit self-serving as he wanders down to The Lighthouse and takes me out for coffee. Â To keep all of his special memories safe, we gave him a small chest to keep some of life’s momentos.
All Oliver wanted was a pogo stick and I found him one from Santa on Amazon.com. Â I gave him a toy F-22 Raptor jet. Â I would have gotten his a F-35 toy but the price kept increasing until Stephen Harper told me not to get it for him. Â Mark gave him a rescue play set, a puzzle from the dogs, an Obi-Wan Kenobi lightsaber, and an Optimus Prime Transformer that talks. Â He is getting into hockey to I got him some mini hockey sticks and nets.
Lee and Brittany gave him a tricked out big wheel for Christmas. Â I immediately thought of this.
What’s scary is that I think Oliver would think that was a good idea.
His favourite gift by far was a Power Ranger that transforms into something else. Â He was quite jacked about it. Â
With the new iPod I gave Wendy for her birthday, I gave her a set of iHome speakers and some perfume. Â We got her an electric griddle and skillet (she asked for them), a new popcorn maker (which she was really excited about). Â Mark gave her a pink Zepco fishing rodÂ which she was horrified of. Â Lucky for Wendy, the fishing is horrible in our part of Last Mountain Lake. Â We also got her some high quality over the ear and in-ear headphones. Â If nothing else she will be able to tune us out for Christmas. Â The dogs gave her some new knives and a kitchen scale. Â Not sure where they got the money to get those.
Lee and Brittany gave her a gift card for Dutch Growers which made her day. Â She’s out right now waiting for spring to hit.
I bought Lee a Leatherman Skeletool multitoolÂ and case.Â Mark got him Red Dead Redemption for the PS3, while Oliver got him a George Reed collector’s edition figurine. Â Lee and Mark got into an argument a couple of weeks ago where Mark called his uncle, “Uncle Glitter” which has kind of stuck. Â Mark got him some glitter stickers for his new iPhone 5. Â Â “Uncle Glitter” didn’t seem to appreciate his nephew’s gift that much. Â
He tried to pull his knife on the Skeletool on Mark for bugging him but he couldn’t get it open. Â Once he got it open, he cut himself. Â
Brittany was given a nice fountain pen, two journals (one lined and one unlined), and an Indigo gift card. Â Because both Lee and Brittany are getting new iPhones, we tossed in some iTunes cards as well. Â Holding her Indigo gift card was Cooper the Bear which apparently has been a Sears mascot for years (a fact that I did not know). Â It just seemed to work well for us. Â Brittany is an english teacher and I just think an English teacher with a fountain pen is more intimidating. Â It was either that or do what the NRA is suggesting and that is to give her a firearm.
Wendy gave Brittany a soapstone statue of a couple from Ten Thousand Villages which I really liked. Â As much fun as it is to bug Lee, him and Brittany are a wonderful couple.
I wasn’t expecting too much but Wendy and the boys did a lot of planning and looking for good deals. Â Wendy gave me a trail GPS and a George Reed limited edition action figure, Oliver gave me a Toronto Blue Jays hat, Mark gave me Assasin’s Creed II and Red Dead Redemption. Â I also got a Leatherman Skeletool. Â To balance out my Tim Tebow action figure from last year, Wendy gave me a Peyton Manning action figure. Â Lee and Brittany gave me a remote control helicopter. Â It flies and crashes quite well around the house. Â Â Also because I don’t smell enough like David Beckham, I was given some of his cologne. Â Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Â To replace my old barbecue tools (that are showing some age), Wendy also got me a simple set of three barbecue tools which is all we really use.
The advantage to only periodically playing PS3 games is that I never own the new ones which means that Wendy can find me games for $10-$15 at Wal-Mart and it doesn’t matter since I haven’t played them. Â
I really had no more success than Lee in using my Leatherman today although no blood was spilled.
The photos can all be foundÂ here.
Today is being spent around the house setting up things, doing some reading, and then having a more traditional Christmas dinner. Â I had hoped to get get down to work but for the second day in a row, someone has swiped our power cords to the car which is frozen solid in this cold. Â We had planned to take a long walk downtown today with Mark’s new camera but as the song says, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. Â Hopefully your Christmas is a good one and you are enjoying the time with family and friends as well.
In case you are wondering how you can make a difference this Christmas, click here and see how you can partner with The Lighthouse and help those that are homeless and in our supported living facility this holiday season.
Each December, staff go all out and ask each of our residents what they want for Christmas. Â For many of them it is the first time they have ever been asked. Â We then go out in a blaze of Christmas shopping and purchase gifts for everyone that wants them. Â After a flurry of wrapping paper, Scotch tape, and bows, the gifts are given out on Christmas morning.
Partnering with The Lighthouse on this project allows you to make a big difference in not only making someone’s Christmas but also providing them with things that they need to make the transition from homelessness to their new home.
Every Christmas individual, organizations, and businesses ask shelters what they can do to help those that are homeless.Â Itâ€™s part of the holiday season.Â Long before people fought the crowds looking for Boxing Day sales, it used to be the day where people used to box up their food scraps and give them to the poor.Â While food scraps arenâ€™t needed these days, there are many in Saskatoon with real needs this Christmas.Â Here are some ideas on how you can help.
In putting together a list of things that people want, you need to realize that many people have lost everything except for the clothes on their back when they end up in the shelters and often have been in this state for a long time.Â On top of that, many shelters are busier over the holidays as people come inside over the holidays or find that they canâ€™t bear to stay where they are over.Â Toss in things like season affective disorder (the depression that many have over the holidays), separation from families and frustration over their state of housing, itâ€™s a busy and difficult time for shelter providers and any help that people can provide is appreciated. Â
For many being in a shelter allows them get a hot shower and cleaned up.Â Because of the numbers of people needing the services, shelters tend to buy in bulk and in individual packages for ease of distribution.Â Some simple luxuries like a bottle of body wash, shampoo, or conditioner have always been warmly appreciated as we have given them out.Â People tend to feel better about themselves when they feel and smell clean.Â
In shelters, the razors that are given out are of such low quality that I refuse to accept thanks when I give them out.Â Single blade, double blade, it doesnâ€™t matter as they are all horrible.Â Most men and women have to get two of them just to shave.Â There are good disposable razors on the market but what I suggest are the store brands sold by the department stores and pharmacies.Â They are higher quality and the replacement blades a lot cheaper. Â If you are inclined, toss in some shaving cream.Â It builds self-esteem and is another thing that help them as they take the steps towards finding employment, an apartment or just reintegrating back into society.
When the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban bought the team, he went out and bought the best towels that money could buy as he felt that a nice towel was a wonderful luxury.Â Visiting NBA players agreed as they took the towels from the Mavericks locker room and kept them despite their salaries.Â For most of the men and women that I work with in the shelters, none of them have a towel which means that on top of it being a constant need, it gives them something that they will need both in the shelter and when they move out on their own.
Many of the men that are in shelters are trying to work to get back out on their own. Which in the winter means a lot of work outside.Â While many donâ€™t have a lot of job skills, they head down to an temporary labour place which means a lot of jobs which are out of the cold. Work brings in money but also allows a lot of them to prove themselves.Â Things like winter gloves, toques, warm socks, insoles, hard warmers, or a fleece to layer are critical in working that first winter job and keeps them going until they get that first paycheck.Â I am always surprised to look back and see for many men, their pathway to housing started with a donation of winter work gear at Christmas.
Along side of the winter work gear, I include an insulated travel mug and a thermos.Â Itâ€™s hard to spend a day working in Saskatchewan winters and when men have been given these in the past, they talk about what a difference it makes on the job site.Â
You also have the essentials which are often underwear and socks.Â While Saskatoon is generous with itâ€™s donations to shelters with clothes, few donate underwear and socks because we tend to wear them out and toss them out. For 90% of the people that come into the facility I work at, they need socks or underwear, especially in winter.
Being homeless is hard anytime of the year but even harder over the holidays.Â In all of your giving this year, consider those that have nothing.Â It could be the start of something big.Â Just remember that before you go out and buy, call the shelter you want to give to, they will give you more refined list of ways you can help.