This week, we’ve been featuring Delcroix Academy: The Candidates by Inara Scott — and today, we’re delighted to have Inara stop by to guest blog here at Novel Novice. And since Christmas is just a couple days away now (have you been naughty or nice?) Inara is going to talk about the things she loves to give. Those of you who have really procrastinated on your holiday shopping will find this especially helpful. The rest of you can keep these ideas in mind for next year!
A Few of My Favorite Things
By Inara Scott
I wouldn’t try to compete with Oprah on this subject, but as I have (of course!) been shopping a lot lately, I thought I would share a few of my favorite things to give for holiday presents. I try to shop local and sustainable, something that, I know, isn’t always possible, but is relatively easy here in Portlandia, one of the coolest, funkiest green cities in the world. These gifts center around Portland, though all of these folks are obliging enough to mail things to you if you aren’t lucky enough to live here.
As part of my sustainability kick, my focus this year was on presents that are consumable, or would otherwise not litter counters, cupboards, and drawers with more STUFF. Note: I do not include bookshelves on this list of places where stuff resides. I do not consider books STUFF. Books are precious items that can be read and shared, donated to libraries, or even double as works of art. They are absolutely not stuff.
So here they are: Inara’s Favorite Gifties for the Holidays
1) COFFEE: Like 90% of people who live in Portland, I am addicted to coffee. My favorite coffees are locally roasted, smooth, and have a hint of caramel. (I say that so the wine snobs will have something to appreciate!) I look forward all year to the special Holiday Blend from the ladies at the Blue Kangaroo Coffee company. If you’re looking for something to serve with that 100th Christmas cookie, or slice of pumpkin pie, this is your best bet.
2) TEA: My favorite tea company, Numi, does not happen to be based in Portland (darn you, California!) but they are a wonderful company with a great ethic of sustainability and giving. I am partial to the rooibos (if I happen to be on your list – now you know what I like!). Another favorite purveyor of tea, which does happens to be a local to Portland, is the Tao of Tea. I like to give people a couple of boxes (or jars) of tea, and if I’m feeling really generous, I also include a couple of hand-made mugs. For a uniquely Portland experience, if you’re looking for stoneware (which I know appears to violate the NO MORE STUFF rule, but is so functional, I am giving it the okay) check out the Saturday Market – our weekly market of artisans and craftspeople.
3) CLEANING PRODUCTS: Um, what? Come again, sister? Yes, I say! We can give each other consumable, green, earth-friendly cleaning products. After all, do you know anyone who doesn’t use a sponge? Or had never seen the need to spray their counters? There are lots of green cleaning products, but the one I particularly want to recommend is this: a sponge covered in hemp, which makes it a biodegradable scrubby that ACTUALLY WORKS. I swear. They last about a month in my kitchen, but then again my standards are low. Your mileage may vary. But do not fear the Twist sponge. I can vouch for this product actually working.
4) BOOKS: Again, I emphasize that books are not simply STUFF. They are experiences wrapped in pretty covers, and are wonderfully reusable and consumable. As a proud resident of the City of Books, I have to recommend the most amazing independent bookstore in the world, Powell’s. And here’s the cool thing – if you really want to be green, you can order used books! Yay!
For a really unique gift, how about a signed copy of Delcroix Academy: The Candidates? (I heard this book is a great read for kids 10 and up – especially girls who want a little romance served with a side of superheroes). For a signed copy of The Candidates, call Julie at Wallace books: (503) 235-7350. She will let me know I need to come in to sign it, and for a few dollars, she’ll mail it right to you!
5) MUSIC: Ready for something new for your iPod? Check out the incredible, homegrown Portland Cello Project. My husband and I have been lucky enough to see them in concert twice, once in a very intimate setting while they were filming for a local public television show, Oregon Art Beat. These women and men are incredible; if you only have a few minutes today in your web surfing, take the time to watch the video for Denmark. It’s absolutely stunning, and has been nominated for a series of awards – we’re hoping it goes to the Oscars!
6) CHARITY: Of course, for the ultimate in non-stuff, how about making a donation to a worthy cause? Our favorite local charity is Mercy Corps. They have a program similar to Heifer International. You can donate livestock, or your money can go toward helping someone start a business, learn to farm, or buy a bicycle. You could send a soccer ball or bring yoga to young people who are recovering from violence and trauma. (My heart’s with that one!)
I’m sure you all have lots of other fantastic ideas for local, consumable, holiday presents. I’m always eager for new ideas – please share ‘em if you’ve got ‘em!