|Unique cutting boards made with salvaged Big Leaf Maple wood - pretty AND useful! - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
My Favorite Things are just a handful of items; they're just a few items I thought were showcase-worthy because at the heart of all great gifts is a story, whether it's in the product itself or the way you as the gift-giver came to discover it. And yes, they're all food-related, which makes sense for a food blog, but makes better sense for a recipient because heaven knows we all don't need more decorative dust-collectors. It's nice to get something we can consume and enjoy the experience without wondering where to put the thing, or if it's an object, it should be something you can use regularly, and kitchen-related items can be both artful and useful.
Which leads me to one particular item that I think brings a little beauty into your everyday life -- handmade cutting boards made from a local Northwest native species of tree called Big Leaf Maple. These are really special items because the particular tree that was used to harvest from was a massive 60 year old Big Leaf Maple tree in Olympia which fell in that huge winter windstorm back in 2009 -- if you lived in the area at the time, you probably recall that insane storm. We were without power for a week, so I sure as heck remember. But from the wreckage comes beauty, as the salvaged wood was made into cutting boards all shapes and sizes, with no board being exactly alike, given the nature of the reclaimed wood. The boards are cut down and left to dry age in a method called spalting, which enhances the wood's grain and develops unusual coloring patterns. They're sanded and treated with food grade mineral oil and are safe to serve items like cheese, crackers and prepared meats. It's not recommended to cut raw meat or chicken on, but that's fine because I would consider these boards more presentation serving ware than something you'd hack up a side of beef on. They're finished with a custom brand in the corner, the initials ML, which stands for the mother who owns the property, and the son who crafts each board.
|Display your favorite winter fruits on a schmancy Pacific Northwest cutting board! - Photos by Wasabi prime|
The boards would make a perfect Big Gift for someone special. What about stocking stuffers or little goodies to add to gift bags? Instead of one big centerpiece gift, I usually opt for a mishmash-melange of little finds that I've collected throughout the year like handmade soaps and lotions, flavored salts and sugars, cute mittens -- all wonderful finds that you can typically find at farmers markets. But, OH SNAP -- most farmers markets have closed up shop since it's off season. Luckily there are small craft shows that open for the holiday season -- find one and go to it, you will find all the little affordable gifts and stocking stuffers to your heart's content, and you'll be buying items from the person who made it, so they can tell you all about each piece. My favorite place to see what's going on locally is the bulletin boards in coffee shops -- the Starbucks has become the Town Hall for the 21st century. While you're waiting for that peppermint mocha with whipped cream and sprinkles, take a gander at the bulletin board for upcoming craft fairs in your neighborhood.
|A funny thing happened on the way out of the hardware store... - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
Granted, not everyone lives near Duvall, much less in Washington. Maybe raw honey isn't your thing, but the point is to always keep your eye open for discoveries. And small towns are perfect for these unexpected treasures, since shops are willing to sell unusual items like handcrafted jewelry and yes, food items. I guarantee you'll find more amazing treasures and trinkets shopping five small shops along the Main Street of a little town than you will browsing the mega aisles in a single Big Box Store. Think on a bigger level -- just by diverting a few of your holiday gift budget towards small, local businesses, you're a part of a growing collective that supports creating more jobs. It's holiday cheer that is priceless.
|That's one big, hot... rooster - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
Hot sauces are perfect gifts for people who love their food to bite back, and we have a lot of family and friends who I knew would dig this rooster the most. I went ahead and bought a case of the smaller bottles from their site -- 12 bottles = 12 mini gifts. Bazam. And how cluckin' awesome is that, when they included a nice little handwritten thank you note from "The Rooster Crew." Love it. And given its in-state proximity, I received my order within two days, no express shipping needed. I was able to dress up each bottle with a little gift tag, noting their delicious local-ness, and add them to gift bags and boxes full of homemade cookies or other goodies like local chocolates.
You don't have to run out and buy each item like on Oprah's Favorite Things. In fact, I hope you find your own Favorite Things this year. I wanted to highlight some discoveries I'm quite proud to show off, because they're a piece of home, they all come with a story, and no matter where you live, I know there are treasures waiting for you to discover and share with loved ones this holiday season. So keep a watchful eye out, whether you're in a hardware store or just having breakfast at your favorite neighborhood diner -- you can avoid the typical shopping snarls this year and never have to buy another Chia Pet again!