This year, Christmas falls two days before we pick up and move back around the world to the United States. In my family we never really celebrated the holidays in a very materialistic way. In fact, I usually gave my friends a tiny loaf of cardamom bread baked with a recipe handed down from the Scandinavian side of my family (here's a similar recipe originally from Gourmet). It mortified me at the time. Now, even though I spend more money on gifts, I think those little, brick-like loaves top anything else in terms of embodying the spirit of the season. I would love to make them again, giving some away and keeping the rest as a present for Jack and myself. Perhaps this is just the cheap-o in me, but it's easy to justify. A slice of cardamom bread, toasted, with a little butter is indescribably rich and comforting.
Christmas 2010 feels different in that it marks the beginning of this whole new chapter. We are moving to somewhere that hopefully we will stay (at least part time) for a long, long while and I feel like celebrating that. Furthermore, I feel like celebrating that in a very selfish, materialistic way. I want to buy things for myself and for our new life. I want things that come with lifetime guarantees, craftsmanship, and the promise of good years ahead. In that spirit, I've been craving both really (in some cases really really) nice things, or things that will help me grow and create the kind of life I want.
1. Herb Seed Collection. From Terrain. $24 "The vintage-style burlap bag comes filled with seven packets of heirloom herbs including: Genovese Basil, Cilantro, Thyme, Parsley, Chives, Italian Oregano, and Culinary Sage." When I think about things I might be able grow myself to eat, herbs are way up there. Fresh herbs can be so expensive (why is that?) and I think that these would be so rewarding to plant and eventually cook with. I imagine them going in a window box in a sunny kitchen. I hope we get to have a sunny kitchen.
2. Linnea's Lights Fir Candle. Also from Terrain. $28 "This Forest Fir candle evokes the scent of being in the middle of a dense, fir forest on a still winter's night." I'd love my house to smell like that. I also love the packaging on these.
3. Bezel Necklace Large with Moonstone. From Sarah Perlis Jewelry. $520 "8mm moonstone set in 22k gold bezel on delicate 16” 18k chain" My mom wears a pendant that is both moonstone and soapstone. It is so beautiful and I couldn't imagine her without it. Both my sister and I teethed on it. Despite the fact that this is prohibitive, I put it in because I've been feeling the need for a delicate necklace, and this is to remind me to save and wait for something as beautiful and precious as this. Because if I wear a necklace half as much as my mom has worn hers, it will be worth it.
4. A Guide to Green HousekeepingA Guide to Green Housekepping by Christina Strutt $13.82 I've heard and read really good things about this book. Both of us like to clean, but we seem to have a pretty high tolerance for grime at the same time. I'd love to be inspired to clean by what I read. Given that some household cleaners are undeniably noxious, I'd prefer to be working with something more natural from the beginning. We do get a fresh start whether we like it or not... and I'm sold at the mention that we will probably save money doing so (some of us have future gold necklaces to buy).
5. Maine by MCMC 10ml organic roll-on. $45 "Bulgarian rose absolute, local clary sage, wild Somalian myrhh and French seaweed absolute convey the fresh scents of sea, air, sun, pine, and the discovery of a single perfect beach plum rose. Dries down into the musky scent of sensual skin coupled with sun-dried grass." I love reading perfume descriptions... apparently even more than reading candle descriptions. This sounds like my happy place... which is firmly on the New England coast.
6. Pictorial Webster's Stamp Set . $12.89 Rubber stamps are a staple of my family's craft projects and I'm enthusiastic about building up my own collection. The ones from Cavallini and Co. are beautiful (and wood-backed) but these natural images win out.
7. The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. $23.10 I need a comprehensive cookbook, and one one that also motivates me to wake up on Saturday mornings and get my butt to the farmers' market. Voila... '“The Art of Simple Food” is intended to be Waters’s master class, the most straightforward utterance of her principles and a comprehensive touchstone cookbook' (from the NYT book review ).
8. Frye Melissa Short boot in Cognac. $268 I've actually spent a lot of money over the past couple years on boots of questionable quality and comfort. I gulp, but I think these will be worth it.
9. Staub Round Cocotte 2 3/4. From Williams Sonoma. $99.95 This does seem outrageous, but it is lifetime quality and perfect for the small, stewy meals we often make.
10. Dog Squall Jacket from Lands End. $24.50 Lyle has a handsome jacket but we're not sure where it is at the moment. As you saw, he recently posed naked in the snow. He hates the rain and sometimes gets cold. I also like the idea of a reflective strip for safety.