samedi 3 décembre 2011

Christmas gift guide

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Dear readers, it's been quite a week with a rotten cold, a trip to the dentist, an impending tax bill, a pile of admin and injuring myself with the bread knife. I really lost it yesterday morning and hurled a few things in frustration but am happy to say everything seems brighter today and that I'm on the mend. At least there were some good things; handing out the first Weihnachsplätzchen (Christmas cookies) to friends and going to see Polanski's brilliant Carnage in spite of a running nose.
I still haven't told you about my trip to the Finnish bazaar, Julia's Scandinavian spice cake or shared my selection of seasonal recipes but I'm somehow more in the mood for sharing my Christmas gift ideas. Besides, I'd prefer to do it before the brilliant Cup of Jo guide makes any further lists unnecessary. So here goes...

1. Cookbooks

I'm ashamed to say it but I rarely buy cookbooks because I'm too mean to spend €20-€30 on one thing, although somehow that never stops me from leaving Dussman with a couple of paperbacks and a DVD for more money. My collection stretches to about 10 which is why I often ask for them for Christmas. This year I've got my eye on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg after testing several recipes from it, all of them absolutely wonderful, especially this butternut squash curry. If we're discussing favourite cooks, Nigel Slater claims first place with me for his wonderful writing and recipes. Both volumes of Tender are now out in paperback, either individually or in a lovely set. Dan Lepard's new book, Short and Sweet, also sounds wonderful.

If you speak French, all of the Editions de Épure are beautifully designed and great value at just €6.50; my friend Julia's little booklet on cardamom would make a perfect gift for anyone, as would the one on marrons glacés, written by Pauline of Beau À la Louche which I'm dying to get.

2. For the home

I have a terrible addiction to Iittala for their moomin collection and classic kitchenware. This year they have the prettiest limited edition cups and bowls in the Kulku set which I couldn't resist, even though I was only able to afford a couple. They also do double packs of their lovely candleholders which make any room or windowsill so pretty. I covet the red which is sadly the most expensive.

If you're looking for something cheaper, how about this delightful owl mug with a lid to keep your drink warm which can also be used as a coaster so your desk stays free of tea stains.

Patoumi keeps taking photos of cakes on her pretty Marimekko plates which would look good on any dinner table but right now, these retro bowls (below) are a more afforable addition and available from Pomeranza Design Ranch in Prenzlauer Berg.

If you're as useless as I am at rolling out pastry to the correct thickness, this adjustable rolling pin should change that

Let's not forget out four legged friends! I'm really excited about seeing Oscar, Mungo, Jasper, Mingus and Jacob in a couple of weeks and have ordered them these new bowls from Debenhams to make breakfast time even better:
If you have a garden, you can help the birds with this chaming Silvester birdbox

3. Comfort

The patterned jumper from Gudrun and Gudrun, as worn by Sarah Lund in the Killing is the essential winter warmer but if you can't afford the original, H&M has a nice copy in either black or white.

Or if you just want to add some Scandinavian touches to your outfit, this pretty fairisle snowflake scarf from Accessorise would be prefect:

I wouldn't be without my electric blanket on these cold nights but a little added warmth is always welcome, like with this Moomins hot water bottle cover

In the Guardian today, Sali Hughes has a great gift guide for beauty products with the idea that less is more. As someone who has always dreaded receiving one of those bumper hampers full of products which gather dust in the bathroom, I couldn't agree more that it's much nicer to get just one high quality thing instead. I definitely won't be spending 35 quid on a lipbalm but the peppermint one from Crème de la Mer really does sound like heaven.

For smaller budgets, the large scented candles from National Trust would be lovely for bathtime and all the money goes to the worthy cause of looking after Britain's great houses and gardens.

Or if you've just got a few quid to spare, this Body Shop spiced vanilla soap is so lovely, looks expensive and only costs 2 pounds.
4. Books

Not surprisingly, books form the main part of my Christmas wishlist, although every year I tell myself it will be different after trying to cram them all into an overstuffed suitcase, worrying that it will exceed the airport weight limit and hauling it up four flights of stairs. But I never learn...Edmund de Waal's exquisite Hare With the Amber Eyes is now available in an illustrated version to give you a better idea of the netsuke and places he's describing. On a student's recommendation, I recently bought Tom Rob Smith's Child 44 and was unable to put it down for 2 days. Its follow-up, The Secret Speech, is on my list but there's also Agent 6 out now in hardback to complete the trilogy. Tove Jansson's The Winter Book always makes a wonderful gift, as does Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I'm also intrigued by Diego Marani's New Finnish Grammar about a mysteriously wounded man sent to Helsinki. In Provence, I regretted not buying a copy of Le Club des Incorrigibles Optimistes, set in Paris in the 60s, and hope to get around to it in 2012.

If biography is more your thing, what about Lives Like Loaded Guns about Emily Dickenson and her family. As a huge Diane Keaton fan, I'm also dying to get my hands on a copy of her new book, Then Again.

Art lovers would be thrilled with the catalogue of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at the National Gallery if you can't get in or if you're feeling really generous (or have generous friends), the stunning Art Museum from Phaidon puts all other books to shame.

5. Music and film

If bittersweet, whistful and charming films in crisp black and white or vibrant colours are your thing, then the wonderful Complete Jacques Demy Collection is for you. All the famous ones like Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, les Parapluies de Cherbourg and Bay of Angels are there, along with lesser known gems.

Or you might prefer the Eric Rohmer Moral Tales set instead which I love. Three of the best films I saw this year, Of Gods and Men, Pina and the Illusionist are now out on DVD and Tamara Drewe will remind you just how peaceful the English countryside can be. French film fans shouldn't miss Two in the Wave, a documentary about the friendship between Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut. I'm also finally hoping to get around to watching Matthieu Amalric's On Tour. And who could forget the Killing?

I love music but am unfortunately, hopelessly out of touch with the latest things. However, Jeff Bridges' new album is on my list as is the cd of music from Woody Allen's films.

17 commentaires:

  1. I glad to hear that you are feeling better now...

    I love your list! I'd love to get 90% of the things you presented here.



  2. The Hare with the amber eyes is one of my favorites! Aren't you sweet to recommend things... I am just starting to get in the mood for shopping... you have helped get me in the right mood!

  3. J'aime bien ta liste de Noël ;-) Il y a beaucoup de choses dedans qui me font envie aussi, à commencer par les belles assiettes Marimekko que je reluque sans cesse sur le blog de Patoumi, les jolies tasses littala à pois (j'aurais tellement aimé aller à cette vente finlandaise !), le rouleau à épaisseur variable qui est si pratique et le très chic opus de Pauline sur les marrons glacés... merci pour ces belles idées de cadeaux ! J'espère que ton mjuk pepparkaka aux cranberries était réussi. Bises et bon dimanche berlinois à toi.

  4. Great post!
    But first of all, I hope you're on the mend. Sounds like you had a ghastly time of it there for a while.
    Love the cat dish and the owl mug....doubt I can find those over here. :( But such fun looking at your shopping ideas. I can imagine your list would be chock full of books...that does not surprise me. I agree about cookbooks, I never buy them anymore, but put them on my Amazon wish list and hope for the best.
    Feel better!

  5. Lovely eclectic and unique guide. The dish with the cat illustrations is my favourite. I think we have quite similar tastes.

    Quandary: I don't know whether to call you Emily or Vanessa?! I called you Vanessa earlier in the year, and now Emily. Which do you prefer?

  6. @Rosa - Thanks for your wishes. I'd love to see what's on your list.
    @Deana - It was so much fun putting the list together actually so I'm glad you like it. Ah, I'm so glad you know The Hare with the Amber Eyes; it was a Christmas present last year and I love every minute of reading it. It seems extravagant but I think I'll have to get the illustrated edition.
    @Julia - Ravie que ca te plaise! A Berlin il y a maintenant un magasin Marimekko que j'évite en ce moment de peur de me ruiner! La soirée Iittala était vraiment chouette, surtout avec la réduction de 10% mais je ne pouvais pas acheter tout ce que je voulais. Ces jolies tasses sont vraiment parfaites pour Noel. Le gâteau aux cranberries était une grande réussite, merci beaucoup pour la recette et bon dimanche breton à toi.
    @Barbara - Thanks for such a lovely message, it feels good to be on the mend at last. I'll have a look for stockists in the U.S for those items and get back to you, aren't they adorable? Amazon wishlists are such a great idea and it's so nice to get something from them.
    @Amber - I know, as soon as I saw the dish I simply had to get it for our mob. You can call me either name, Emily's my first name and Vanessa's my middle one. Originally I only used Vanessa and wanted to change to Emily but thought it might be confusing if I did it at once so that was a compromise.

  7. What a tempting list! I absolutely adore the mugs, the owl one in particular. Now I know in which direction to turn when inside the malls!
    Hope you get rid of that nasty cold soon. Take care.

  8. Tout d'abord j'adore ta bannière elle est joliment hivernale ;-) Moi aussi j'aime beaucoup ces petits livres de cuisine des éditions de Épure. Et ta liste de Noël est vraiment très jolie et elle donne envie !

  9. J'espere que tu vas mieux et que cette evocation de Noel t'auras fait du bien. J'ai entendu parler de The hare with amber eyes aussi, ca me tentait bien.
    Evidemment, les petits livres de l'Epure aussi, ils sont tous tellement tentants!
    Pour le reste, tous ces objets me donnent le tournis (en fait, j'en ai deja tant chez moi, des objets...).

  10. That owl mug is a real hoot...Ugh, did I really just say that? :)

  11. @Suman - I'm feeling better every day so hopefully will be back to my usual self very soon. Fingers crossed you find something nice at the mall.
    @Alice - Merci beaucoup, j'avais envie de changer avec la saison un peu; contente que ça te plaise! Les livres des éditions de L'Épure sont très chouettes - beaux, pas chers et vraiment quelque chose pour tout le monde.
    @Gracienne - Oui, ca va beaucoup mieux merci. Ces derniers temps était un peu triste mais cette période avant Noel me fait toujours du bien. The Hare with the Amber Eyes est un livre vraiment merveilleux et émouvant et avec des images, ce sera encore plus beau. J'adore qu'il faut couper les pages des livres de l'Epure et toute la collection me tente. J'ai déjà pas mal de tasses et aussi tendance à les accumuler mais c'est toujours difficile d'y résister.
    @Tracy - I actually love such terrible puns!

  12. Emily Vanessa, this is a complete list. I am going to watch Two in the Wave tonight. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. Also, I just cannot stop looking at the black & white image at the top of your music and film section.

  13. @Denise - I really hope you like the film. It has one or two flaws but I still find it fascinating. Jeanne Moreau in the Bay of Angels is amazing; in fact her face always fascinates me.

  14. well, I have to say, this is certainly one of the nicest gift guides I've read so far. I'm having 'gift guide fatigue'. so many blogs are saturated with them lately. They're nice, but this one seems more personal and appealing. Plus I'm Jewish, so this time of year doesn't generally mean frenzied present buying for me :)

    and oh my, Scandinavian spice cake!

  15. I hope you are feeling better. An excellent gift list, the Kulku mugs are very appealing.

  16. @Hila - Oh, that's a big compliment so thanks! I must admit that many gift guides put me off and I only like a few such as Cup of Jo or Design Sponge. For me it's not important how much you spend but that you get something nice and personal. This mass buying is awful; seeing people's faces in stores when they just pick something up for the sake of buying.
    @P.K - Yes, I'm a little better every day and my sinuses are almost clear so here's hoping there's nothing else I can catch. The mugs are such a joy, I bought one in each colour plus matching bowls and use them every day. Must more inspiring than the same Ikea stuff everyone has.

  17. The gift ideas are perfect, I could really use some of these for gift shopping for the Holiday.