The gift-giving season is upon us, whether you celebrate Hannukah, Christmas, or Winter Solstice, and who better to give you unique gift ideas than Girl, Crafted! Here’s some of my favourite things from the past year (and beyond), both big and small. Note that because I do so love to support local, many of these favourites are Ottawa-based, but many of them have online shopping.
EASY ONLINE GIFT HUNTING:
Bauss.ca: for the memorable moment lover
In a nutshell, Bauss takes any sound clip, song, speech, laugh, etc., and makes it into a piece biometric of art. You can see my post about the one they did for us, where they combined our two departed dogs’ barks into one piece of art that reminds us always of our furry friends. Bauss’ pieces aren’t inexpensive, but given the range of cool things you can do—your dad’s speech from your wedding, a secret word for your loved one, a child’s laugh—I find it’s worth every penny. A special, memorable gift for someone you adore. Try out their website to see what a piece will cost, depending on size and the materials you choose.
Rekindled Lighting: for the vintage fanatic
Margaret Sommerville is the genius behind these incredible works of art and light. Rekindled Lighting repurposes old awesome things like handmixers and clarinets and makes some fabulous lamps from these items. The finished product is something incredible, worth passing down through the generations, and generally way more useful than the antique mixer/clarinet/film projector would have been otherwise. I featured Rekindled last spring in my review of the Handmade Harvest show, and I’m still in love with her today. Lamps range from about $60-$285.
Bombshell Revival: for the artsy chick
Kym Brown of Bombshell Revival is one of the coolest couturiers around. Kym uses a mix of recycled textiles and homemade printed fabrics to create incredible art scarves, gothy fascinators, and fashion-forward clothes. It would be hard to go wrong with one of her hats or scarves for the quirky fashion diva in your life. Prices range from $15 (funky hair clips) to $100 (art scarves), and up.
Embody: for the girl that`s totally unique
Embody Clothing is a new find for me. I saw them for the first time this year at the Signatures Craft Show in Ottawa, and I fell madly in love. If I could have Embody make every stitch of clothing I ever wear out of the house again, I would be a very happy girl. Embody is another upcycler/recylcer, and there’s a flair for the dramatic that is tempered nicely by clean lines, assymeticral zippers, and some neutral fabric pieces. I briefly covered them in my ‘best in show’ wrap-up of the Signatures Show. I don’t have a full run-down on prices, but I can tell you the ruffled skirts I was drooling over were about $95 at the show, and I would have sold my grandmother to have a whole closet full of this stuff. (Sorry, Grandma.)
BEST SHOPS IN OTTAWA
I can’t help loving what’s local, and Ottawa has got some great shops for gift-giving.
The Comic Book Shoppe: for the geeks, nerds, gamers, and fans
For the geek in your life, you can’t go wrong here. A girl-friendly, GLBTTQQ-friendly, kid-friendly, and clueless-friendly place, the Comic Book Shoppe is an easy place to find the perfect gift for that diehard fan. More than just comic books (though they have lots of those, too), the Shoppe boasts everything from Star Wars death star icecube trays, to My Little Pony tee-shirts, to Dr Who sonic screwdrivers, you can find something awesome to bring a smile to everyone’s faces. Popular this year are the Game of Thrones glassware, the Breaking Bad tees, and the Adventure Time hoodies. There’s also a Capital Geek Girls zone set up now, with favourite girly-geeky things curated for your easy girl shopping pleasure. Prices range from literally $1-and up. I’ve featured the Shoppe many times, as they are our HQ for the Capital Geek Girls; they never fail to impress with their wide array of kitsch, boardgames, and (my guilty pleasure) Tokidoki charms.
A Curious Shop: for everyone who's hard to shop for
If you missed the craft show season this year, A Curious Shop is your year-round substitute. Curious carries handmade and small-production goods from all over the world. Shop here for your hippy/earthy/artsy friends. Take home a new cardigan made from recycled sweaters, or a funky beaded bracelet; fall in love with their adorable plushies, and ask if they have any of the patchwork parasols left from India…I grabbed one this summer, and not only did I stop getting heatstroke, I started getting huge compliments. You can read more about them on this recent post I did.
Stroked Ego: for the fashionisto...is that a word?
For the dapper man in your life—or the girl who likes to rock a gender-neutral look—Stroked Ego is the place to go. They have some fantatic lush circle scarves right now, and their cufflink collection is out of this world: we’re talking mini gaming controllers, working compasses, you name it. Last year I got my boss some mini airplanes; he got me some soap I’m allergic to, but hey, there’s always next year to hope for an actual bonus. Popular and posh is their collection of razors and shaving brushes, as the ‘slow shave’ is back in style. You can check out a video on their ties and razors here. They also have an extensive and infamous array of underwear; if you’re tired of seeing your favourite fella in the gymsock-grey boxer-briefs from W-Mart, pick him up a stylin’ pair of underthings and heat up your Christmas eve.
|Cufflinks like you wouldn't believe, at Stroked Ego|
Handmade Bride: for something unexpected
I know, I know: TheHandmade Bride is not where you’d think to find Christmas gifts, but hear me out. Owner Meaghan has found some of the coolest ties in town and has stocked her store with them. Bowties and long ties, these babies are adorable. There’s also some fabulous jewellery, and some adorable retro 1950s circle dresses that are meant to be bridesmaid dresses, but they’re so perfect for any party, there’s no reason not to grab one. And of course, if there’s a bride-to-be in your life, it may be cool to see if you can contribute a little money to the gown of her dreams. Check out my post of their opening night. Prices for accessories and dresses range from about $30-$3000 (somewhere in the $200-$300 range for the 1950s dresses).
ADVENTURES AND SERVICES
Body Poets Massage Therapy: for the stressed and sore
Body Poets, located in downtown Ottawa, is my favourite massage studio. Owner Ellen is a fantastic therapist, but everyone here has a specialty. I’m particularly curious to try Amy’s visceral manipulation massage, and of course there’s the luxurious hot stone massages, as well. The studio is comfortable, professional, and easy to access even though it’s downtown. Body Poets has helped me with both general body relaxation as well as acute injury recovery. You can’t really go wrong here. Call and talk to the receptionist if you’re hoping to book something specific. Massages cost around $95 for an hour, and if you have benefits, you may be covered.
Ottawa Nutrionist Jodi Turner: Ottawa-Nutritionist.com: for the health-conscious friend
You may have seen Jodi giving facts and tips on CTV Ottawa Morning Live; Jodi is one of my favourite health care practitioners in all the land. For the loved one who’s looking to learn about sports nutrition, eating for a gastro issue, or learning to use food as natural medicine for changes in your physical self, Jodi’s services can’t be beat. Contact her directly to find out what she’s got to offer in upcoming workshops, or ask her to assemble a customize program for someone special.
Almonte Riverside Inn & Kitchen: for the foodie
If you’re visiting the Almonte, Ontario area, you must do dinner at the ARIK. Check out my post about our recent mini-vacation to Almonte, where we had a dinner at ARIK that, months later, we still talk about. I’m not kidding, we say things like, “This dinner is good…not ARIK good, but good…” Bonus: the chef’s specialty is vegetarian food, so while the menu is full of decadent things like duck liver and beef, there will likely be something for everyone in your dinner party. Idea: instead of the usual New Year’s nonsense, set up a special night at the Inn, have dinner, and then ring in the new year more intimately, enjoying the snow from the window of your room wrapped in nothing but a giant comforter.
Hotel Indigo Ottawa: for the overworked and underappreciated
I did a stay at the HotelIndigo Ottawa on my own, as a mini-staycation away from everything and everyone. I’d never done anything like that before, and now I recommend it to everyone. While you could definitely book a room at the Indigo for two, I actually suggest setting this up as a gift for your family-saturated friend or partner whose most precious commodity is time alone. Indigo’s styling is very modern—no horrid watercolour flowers, no quilted floral bedspreads—and the location in the heart of downtown means anything you want to do, eat, or buy is a quick step away. I heartily suggest you read my post, wherein I inform Indigo that I had such a great time, they should invite me to live on site as a truly ‘resident’ blogger. No response from them yet on this idea; I assume their marketing department is busily fleshing out the idea and preparing my permanent quarters.
Flo Glassblowing: for the creative (or wannabe creative)
I haven’t yet visitedFlo, but rest assured I’ll be there in the new year. Flo is a glassblowing studio that offers classes for ages 2-102, and it looks like a great learning activity. For about $25, a kid the age of my Max (9 years old) can learn to make a witch’s ball (glass orb), and now that he knows about it, he’s super excited to try it. Dad and I will be heading out to try making paperweights, as we’ve been planning a glassblowing adventure for years. Check out their website to see what’s happening.
FAVOURITE SPARKLY AND SUGARY THINGS
Pyrrha at Magpie: for the sentimental
Pyrrha is probably familiar to you; they’ve grown in popularity consistently over the last few years. In a nutshell, Pyrrha pendants are cast in silver or gold, from antique wax seals. Each one has a special meaning, and they’re highly wearable by all genders. I have two of them (one I bought for my 30th birthday, and one bought for me by my sweetheart for our anniversary), and I could have a dozen more without feeling like they were getting redundant. Magpie carries this precious collection in Ottawa; check them out in Westboro, the Glebe, or Rideau Centre. You can also do some shopping online, and if you don’t see what you want, either contact Magpie or go straight to the Pyrrha source. Prices range depending on the piece (I'd say averaging $150), so don’t be afraid to look around ‘til you find something that works for you.
I did a review of Sweet Secrets Confectionary, and I still can’t stop talking about them. Their specialty is various kinds of brittle, but I love love love their ‘honeycomb’, a sponge toffee made from honey instead of sugar. They pride themselves on avoiding the use of corn syrup in their treats, and if you don’t buy yourself one of their ‘sea turtles’ while you’re shopping for your family, you’re a total fool. These are affordable and easy stocking stuffers…just lock them up or you’ll eat them all before they ever get under the tree.
Mad Faux Cheese: for the gourmand (esp. the Vegan and the dairy-free)
If you’ve got a vegan (or lactose-intolerant, like myself) that tends to feel left out at the holiday feasting, bring along a couple rounds of Mad Faux Cheese’s cashew-based cheese rounds. I discovered them at the Harvest Food Show, and I have been ordering from them ever since. The best part: it’s so good, non-vegans seek it out. Their classic brie is still my favourite. Freezable, this cheese can keep in the freezer until the right time to give it over. Rounds are approximately $8.00 and can be ordered online for delivery to Auntie Loo’s Vegan Bakery in Ottawa.
Michaelsdolce Jam: for the tea-time lover
Michaelsdolce is, far and away, the best freakin’ jam you’re gonna find. I don’t know if I can even describe how awesome this stuff is. Go check out their flavours and see what I’m talking about; every one of them tastes exactly like the flavours in it…I know this seems self-explanatory, but most jam tends to just taste like a whole whack of sugar. I have a special adoration for their pear and vanilla, and what’s great is that they make some really tiny jars, so it’s easy to get a few flavours to test. You can serve these with cheese on toast rounds, or give the jam as gifts; either way, they’re a sweet addition to the holidays.
Thimble Cakes and Thimble Café: for the indulgent (who struggles with allergies)
If you frequent downtown Ottawa or Westboro, you may know Thimble Cakes; if you’re a southwest-ender like me, Thimble Café is nestled in Barrhaven. This nut-free, allergy-sensitive bakery and café is one of my go-to spots in town. If you’re vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, or gluten-free, you’ll find a treat here. They have some fabulous cupcakes, scones, and loaves; and their vegan chocolate cake makes me drool. They’re always experimenting with their recipes, so I find a new surprise everytime I try something—sometimes even when I try something I’ve already tasted—but it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll enjoy your treat. If you need a potluck addition for the Christmas feast, or want to be sure your poor allergy-ridden cousin gets something in her belly at the family gathering, head down to one of their locations and pick up some cupcakes.
If you’ve got a favourite product or shop, from any city or online, comment below! We just ask that it be an independent business, handmade, or small-production shop.