Holiday Gift Guide

Instead of the usual Friday 10 today is a Friday 15 full of gifts ideas. In the spirit of the site, there are simple luxuries and fancy splurges alike for food lovers, readers, and travellers. 

What I did not add, however, is one of my favourite gifts: an experience. This can be something as simple as a lunch with a loved one, a pass to their favourite place (a park? a museum?), or a weekend getaway. Sometimes making memories is far better than collecting things. 

  1. My Paris Kitchen Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz ($25.71 CAD hardcover) | A collection of beautiful recipes, stories, and photos from David Lebovitz's Paris. 
  2. Blood Orange Oolong by Sloane Teas ($17.00 CAD for 100g of loose tea) | Flavourful, fancy and festive tea packed in a tin that's pretty enough to display. I love their Heavenly Cream, too! 
  3. Twelve Assorted Macaron Happy Holidays Travel Box from Nadège Patisserie ($27.50 CAD) | Indulgent flavours perfect for celebrating the holidays: candy cane, whisky chocolate, champagne, chocolate, salted caramel, blackberry chocolate, cherry chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, cotton candy, cappucino, and matcha green tea. 
  4. Cashmere Blend Reading Socks from Indigo ($39.50 CAD) | Warm and cozy socks to make winter reading that much more indulgent. Would pair perfectly with a great book or a tea and mug. 
  5. Personalized Passport Holder by Tagsmith ($60 USD) | I love the natural leather color and the subtle initial stamping. If monogramming isn't your thing, they have a plain one as well. Also available in Bridle and Dark Brown.
  6. Terrain Mug glazed in Alabaster by Sam Nichols Pottery ($32.00 USD) | A classic hand thrown mug thats perfect for coffee or tea any time of day and any time of year.
  7. RazorPlus from myCharge ($49.99 USD) |  A thin, lightweight portable smartphone charger with USB port. Great for travel since it can give you up to 13 hours of talk time.
  8. National Park Blanket (shown in Rocky Mountain) from Pendleton ($199 - $239 USD) | Heirloom quality, beautiful historical patterns, and perfect for the outdoorsy among us. 
  9. iPad Mini Leather and Wool Case by cinnamon cocoon ($45.00 USD) | A blend of function and beauty. I bought one of these for my dad last year. Not only did he love it, but my mom loved it so much that she bought herself a laptop case. Lovely sellers and quick shipping (although it took awhile to make it halfway around the world) when I dealt with them. 
  10. Monarch Desk Calendar by Rifle Paper Co.  ($16.00 USD) | I used the 2014 Cities version this year and fell in love with it. I snapped up the 2015 Monarch version up as quickly as I could. The illustrations are so lovely and whimsical that it always brightens my day.
  11. GorillaPod Hybrid from Joby ($38.00 CAD) | A small go anywhere, wrap around anything flexible tripod. Grab the GripTight Mount (18.00 CAD) to use with iPhone and Android smartphones, too. 
  12. Kobo Aura H2O from Kobo ($179.99 CAD) | The first waterproof* and dustproof eReader. No need to "seal" your reader in two big ziplock bags at the beach or during a bath. (Everyone does that right?) *Up to 30 min in 1M of water with the port closed (Who is even reading underwater at all, let alone for 30 minutes?)
  13. Kenyatta Shaving Case from WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie ($295) | A definite splurge. But it’s so elegant—I would be happy to own one!—and it has a removable interior lining that makes clean-up easy. 
  14. Emile Henry Artisan Ruffled Pie Dish by Emile Henry ($49.95) | Perfect for the baker in your life. Not only is it hand-glazed, but each piece is cast, inspected and signed by hand. Plus, it's the prettiest pie plate I’ve ever seen.
  15. Fujifilm X-TI from Fujifilm ($1598.95 USD) | A major upgrade from the typical point-and-shoot. This mirrorless camera has the image quality but not the bulk of a DSLR. The most expensive gift, by far, but it's fantastic for amateur photographers and travellers who are serious about taking their photos to a new level. Want other recommendations in different price ranges? Check out the Wirecutter’s reviews of digital cameras

As always, have a happy weekend! 

Friday 10: It's All Gravy

It feels like yesterday we were celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving and here with are with American Thanksgiving right around the corner. I don't even want to think about how fast Christmas is approaching!

I have to admit that I like American Thanksgiving better. It always feels like a bigger holiday. Canadian Thanksgiving falls on a Monday, so people tend to have their big turkey dinner on the Sunday and then travel on the Monday. It just feels wrong and rushed to me. 

So in honor of my favourite Thanksgiving (shh! don’t tell the Canadians) next week, I’ve collected some delicious food links, some travel tips, and a couple of things to just get us all in the Thanksgiving mood. It’s all gravy today!

The Ham(ster) 

#1 Tiny, cute animals partaking in Thanksgiving dinner. ‘Nuff said. (Link for email subscribers!) 

#2 Thanksgiving recipes from each state (plus DC and Puerto Rico!) so you can try 52 new dishes: The United States of Thanksgiving via The New York Times. Ahh this reminds me why I always wear sweater dresses with leggings for holidays: elastic waistband + food, food food! = comfortably stuffed.

#3 How about a Thanksgiving playlist that is perfectly curated and timed to finished when your bird is done cooking? Check out Spotify’s Time for Turkey. Read more: Spotify Uses Science to Match Music with Thanksgiving Turkey Cooking Times via Epicurious 

#4 If you’re like me and you are getting tired of hearing about pumpkin everything (even if you don't have anything against pumpkin): Thanksgiving Pie Head to Head - Classic versus Salted Chocolate Pecan Pie via Serious Eats

#5 I made this cranberry sauce for pork tenderloin a few weeks ago and fell in love with it. Quick, easy, and delicious. I used orange juice and orange zest instead of cranberry juice. No more can-shaped gelatinous cranberry goop (although sometimes the goop is wonderfully nostalgic). via Pioneer Woman

The Histoire

#6 It seems like Southern Thanksgiving recipes are everywhere now, which might make you think that the South has always loved Thanksgiving. It actually took a long time to catch on and, later, for Southerners to put their own stamp of things: How Thanksgiving, “the Yankee Abolitionist Holiday” Won Over the South - via Serious Eats

The Travel

#7 If you’re going to be on the road, check out Google’s Seven Traffic Tips to Get You to the Thanksgiving Table. The basics? Avoid traveling Wednesday and try to come back on Sunday. 

#8 Whatever your mode of travel: Go early, be prepared for lines/waits/delays, make yourself comfortable and bring entertainment. I’m thinking a big cozy shawl like this, a good book—I’m finally starting Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Gardenand a sachet or two of luxurious tea

The Wildcards

#9 I stumbled on a description of barmbrack, a spicy fruity bread traditionally made in Ireland in autumn, on Saveur this week. A piece of cloth, a bean, a ring, and a coin are wrapped up in parchment and baked inside as omens for the person who finds them. I’m putting the recipe on my “must try” list for the winter. Lucky Charms via Saveur

#10 I’m going to end things with this beautiful video by Louis Schwartzberg on gratitude because being thankful doesn’t just come around once a year with a feast attached to it.  (Link for email subscribers!)

I’ll be traveling a bit myself next week, so I might be slower with the posting. If you’re out there celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope you have a very warm, happy, food-filled day. And even if you’re not celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope you also have a very warm, happy food-filled day—because why not?!

Safe travels and happy weekend! 

PS: I’d love to hear your favourite Thanksgiving recipes and traditions! Leave me a note in the comments.

Forêt de Compiègne

On the 11th hour (Paris time) of the 11th day of November, 1918, the Armistice ending World War I went into effect. 

It was in a quiet clearing of the Forêt de Compiègne in Picardy where French commander-in-chief Marshal Ferdinand Foch, on behalf of the Allied Powers, began talks with the Germans. They finally signed the armistice in the early hours of November 11th in Foch's train car, which came to be known and celebrated as the Compiègne Wagon. 

via  Wikimedia Commons  | Foch (second from the right) outside of the Compiègne Wagon, 11 November 1918

via Wikimedia Commons | Foch (second from the right) outside of the Compiègne Wagon, 11 November 1918

On 28 June 1919, the Treaty of Versailles, famously signed in the Hall of Mirrors, laid out harsh punishments to Germany. The were required to shoulder the blame for the war, reduce their armed forces, pay hefty reparations, and return Alsace and Lorraine to France. It was regarded by many Germans as humiliating and, along with the Depression, helped set the stage for the Nazi party to take power. 

via  Wikimedia Commons  | The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, 28th June 1919 by Sir William Orpen

via Wikimedia Commons | The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, 28th June 1919 by Sir William Orpen

Foch, however, did not think the treaty did enough to weaken Germany and protect France. He presciently stated, “This is not a peace. This is an armistice for 20 years.”

Twenty-two years later, in June 1940, the French Third Republic sent word to the Germans that they wanted to negotiate an armistice after the Battle of France. Hitler knew exactly where to hold the signing and had the Compiègne Wagon brought back to the exact spot of the 1918 armistice.

via  Wikimedia Commons  | A still from Frank Capra's film  Divide and Conquer.  Hitler (hand on hip) looks at the statue of Foch before the signing of the armistice on 22 June 1940.

via Wikimedia Commons | A still from Frank Capra's film Divide and Conquer. Hitler (hand on hip) looks at the statue of Foch before the signing of the armistice on 22 June 1940.

via  DIREKTOR  | Hitler at the Wagen von Compiègne

via DIREKTOR | Hitler at the Wagen von Compiègne

General Charles Huntzinger, who led the negotiations for France, signed the armistice on 22 June 1940.

The Forêt de Compiègne is open for visitors. It’s a massive 14,885 hectare park with 600 miles of beautiful trails for hiking and biking. In fact, Joan of Arc hid here in 1430 before being captured in the town of Compiègne. 

There is a replica of the Compiègne Wagon on display—the original was destroyed by fire in German during WWII at the Clarière de l’Armistice (Armistice Clearing).

A couple of other nearby sites include Château de PierrefrondsPalais de Compiègne, and the Museum of Historical Figurines.

Practical Information

Compiègne is located about an hour north of Paris and is easily reached by car or train.  Trains depart multiple times each day from Gare du Nord. The trip is generally around 40 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how many stops it takes. 


The Armistice Clearing is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm (except Tuesdays between 15 September and 31 March). 

I thought I'd share these two intertwined stories set in  Forêt de Compiègne in honour of Veterans Day/Remembrance Day/Armistice Day. I had never heard of the Compiègne wagon before and found it fascinating. It also reminded me that sometimes it's worth taking a look back to re-familiarize myself with history.

It can be easy to think you know everything and to forget to remember.