It's already that time of year - time to find fun, useful and unique gifts for your friends, family and favorite RVer. The Goddess is here to help! Here are a few gift ideas for the 2014 holiday season:
For the Food Lover
Outdoors Glacier Stainless Martini Glass from GSI - a company selling innovative camping gear. Try their stainless steel martini glass - it won't break, holds 6 ounces and is dishwasher safe. Store it in the freezer for an icy-cold cocktail every time. Available at amazon.com.
Speaking of drinks... Pour Mason started as aKickstarter campaign to produce an aluminum-coated nickel alloy pour-over coffee filter designed to screw onto a wide-mouth Mason jar. The filter is light-weight, won't break and is perfect for the java-loving hipster on your list. Made in Brooklyn, NY and available atamazon.com and Red Rooster.
Before I get off the beverage topic - do you have a Bloody Mary lover on your list? Forget celery sticks - give them a straw made of beef jerky for the newest and coolest garnish at the tailgate party. Benny's Original Meat Straws are made in the USA with 100% USDA beef (and sodium nitrate). Five to a package, about 7.5 inches long, regular or chipotle flavor. Available at Benny's or amazon.com.
Serious camp cooks will appreciate two 6000 btu gas burners and a 3000 btu gas oven from Coleman - the Portable Stove-Oven Combo is large enough to hold a 12-inch pizza. Matchless lighting system, wind blocks, individual controls for each burner and oven, glass door to oven and side handles. Uses individual propane tank or bulk tank with appropriate adapter. Coleman also makes a carrying case (sold separately). Available from Coleman, REI and amazon.com:Your friend who is always going to the Farmer's Market will love this insulated shopping bag, especially designed to organize and protect produce. The light-weight bag is made in America by Cabaggage, and features a multi-layer storage system that allows delicate veggies and fruits to make it home without bruising. Adjustable handles. Available in three pretty colors from Cabaggage.com.
2014 was a great year for cookbooks - several popular chefs published their long-awaited tomes. Here are my four favorites:
Anything Ina Garden makes is delicious and easy. Her recipes always work and she isn't afraid of a little butter. Her latest book, Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, is filled with more great recipes - each with instructions for serving now and notes for making the dish ahead.
David Lebovitz began his career at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and now lives in Paris. His blog is always interesting (he travels quite a bit) and his latest cookbook, My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories, is a joy to read. Yes, the recipes are great and the photography (his own) gorgeous, but the real joy is reading the introduction to each recipe. After living in France for ten years, his "American in Paris" perspective is very entertaining.
Mimi Thorisson is a beautiful woman with Chinese and French ancestors, raised in Hong Kong and married to a man from Iceland, living in a chateau in the French countryside with seven (!) well-dressed children and 14 dogs. Her popular blog, Manger, is filled with stories of French country life - with exceptional accompanying photographs by her husband, Oddur Thorisson. Her cookbook, A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse, captures the best ingredients as they come into season in the Medoc region of France.
Lenny and Lisa gave me Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook for my birthday - along with a two pound bar of Mast Brothers chocolate and a bag of cocoa nibs - and I went right to work on the "Steaks with Nibs & Peppercorns" recipe. I've made it twice now. Most of the recipes are for desserts and the book goes into great detail about chocolate from the two very obsessed-about-chocolate brothers.
Gifts for Kidstoy motorhome as a doll house on wheels. Also available in 5th wheel, trailers, C-Class configurations and more. Ages 3+. I know, I know, I know... I keep mentioning MagnaTiles, but I'm telling you again. Leo plays with these things for hours. The 100 piece set will make any child thrilled. Once you start building a structure with your kids or grandkids, you will get hooked on these great math + science + creativity tiles as well. Ages 3+.
For the Traveler
Know someone (you?) who is always draining the battery on their cell phone? Give them this great lipstick-sized instant charger from Jackery. The reusable and rechargeable Mini Premium will quickly charge a smartphone (or other devices) and you can use the phone during charging. Charge on the go, in your purse, golf cart, on a plane - anywhere. Weighs 2.7 ounces and comes in several colors. Available at amazon.com.After Corkcicle discovered a huge break-thru in traditional insulation technology, they developed the Vinnebago insulated thermos. The Vinnebago will keep your cold beverages stylishly chilled for up to 25 hours; hot beverages hot for 12 hours. The Vinnebago holds 25 ounces - a full bottle of wine - and is safe for poolside use (no glass!). Corkcicle also sells a "drink-through" chiller for glass beer bottles - theChillsner. Available through Corkcicle and amazon.com.
For the person who has almost everything... how about a leather-handled flashlight? FANCY! Offered by Pendleton Woolen Mills, the Henley Brands flashlight features high-intensity LED bulbs and comes in a vintage-looking gift box. Available at Pendleton Woolen Mills.
Tired of that bulky wallet in your back pocket? Heading overseas or into The Big City for the day? Carry just what you need (in your front pocket) with the HuMn minimalist wallet. The RFID-secure panels keep your identification and credit card information safe from scammers and your cash on-hand. Made of aluminum and then Bright Dipped in a variety of colors, sizes and styles. Also available in carbon fiber. For men or women. Made in Portland, Oregon - from HuMn Wallet.
Full-time RVers would appreciate a National Parks Pass. The American the Beautiful pass is $80 and covers "entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. A pass covers entrance and standard amenity fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children age 15 or under are admitted free". Good for one year.
Gift cards take up little room in a RV and are always welcome. How about aCamping World Gift Card or paying for a few nights at a campground with a KOA Gift Kard? Or buy your favorite RVer a gift card for fuel, available at most national chain truck stops and service stations. Too impersonal? How about a gift card or certificate for their favorite restaurant? If someone on your gift list supports a favorite charity or organization, maybe they would appreciate a donation made in their name - and you get the tax donation. Win-Win.
Think of the Laundry Pod as a salad spinner for clothes. Extremely portable and uses human power - no electricity. Add water, soak, spin, rinse. Available nationwide at Sears, Bed, Bath & Beyond and online from amazon.com.
Do you hike with a dog? Bring along 100% grain-free energy-packed complete K9 meal bars bars from TurboPup. Using only human-grade ingredients and American-grown food, a TurboPup bar will give your best friend sustained energy. The company was founded and owned by a female Iraqi veteran! Bacon or peanut butter flavors. Available at specialty pet retailers or online from TurboPup.
Traveling from home to an unfamiliar spot in your RV with your dog can lead to enough confusion, but what if your pup escaped or ran off? Even if your dog is just a roamer or prolific escape artist, the Tagg Pet Tracker is a GPS device that attaches to your dog's collar. From their website: "Tagg allows you to define a safe zone around your home and instantly receive text and email alerts when your pet leaves that zone. Use the power of GPS to know if they get out and quickly find them to bring them back safely. Tagg also monitors their activity and fitness by measuring the amount of activity in their day. Tagg attaches to your existing collar and converts it into a GPS dog collar!" Yes, there's an app for that! It's like a canine pedometer as well. $8 month tracking fee. Available from directly from Tagg, amazon.com and PetCo.
Until my next holiday season, I remain, your gifted correspondent.