Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Day 12: For the animal lover and the philanthropist

By Giselle Wedemire

Today is the last day of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping) Gift Guide. We hope we've helped to inspire you to shop locally, and we hope we've alleviated at least a little bit of the stress that comes with Christmas shopping. For our last day, we'd like to talk about gifts that give back.

If the overt commercialization of the holiday season has gotten you down, but you've still got an animal lover to shop for, supporting an animal shelter is a great way to do some good while giving a really thoughtful gift. 

Donating to any charity is always a fantastic way to spread joy and, unlike traditional gifts, that joy has a ripple effect that spreads to improve the life of more than just the recipient of your gift. And, since these gifts can all be purchased online -- and they require no shipping time like most other gifts you buy online -- they make for great last-minute gift ideas. (You know, just in case the sad state of mall parking lots have scared you away from the idea of going out to shop this close to Christmas.)

For the animal lovers and philanthropists in your life, we suggest gifting a donation to any one of these great local animal rescues/shelters with these gift ideas:

  • ARF's Dog Secret Santa ($75)

Screenshot via ARF

Monday, December 22, 2014

Day 11: For the home cooks and the couples who need a date night

By Giselle Wedemire

With just one day to go, we are in the homestretch of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping) gift guide. While we've been pinpointing and spotlighting local stores we at Picky Bitchez love, we figured we'd shed some light on one of our favourite eateries in town.

The Coup has made a name for itself as an outstanding organic vegetarian restaurant. And it's only gotten better since its renovations this past spring. With a number of vegan and gluten-free options on the menu, we think The Coup is the kind of place you need to go at least once in your lives (though going more often than that is certainly advisable).

But one of the coolest things about The Coup is that the next time you sit down to a nice meal there, you can also get some of your Christmas shopping done! Here are some quick gift ideas that you can score the next time you pop in for a bite:

For the couple who is in desperate need of a date night: The Coup gift certificates (available in increments of $25, $50, or $100)

Photo via The Coup

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Scrumptious Shortbread

By Casey Knoll

I absolutely love Christmas baking -- it's a great way to have fun, and to create 
affordable gifts for your friends and family.

This year, my mom's friend introduced me to gluten-free shortbread. I was never a huge fan of shortbread, but this recipe changed my mind. It's quick, easy, and absolutely delicious.

My mom's friend found this recipe on a blog by Amanda Farquharson. If you give these a try, let us know! 

What you'll need:
3 cups white rice flour
1 cup corn starch
1 cup icing sugar
1 pound of salted butter, softened
Cherries or sparkles (optional)
What you'll need to do:
  • Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
  • Sift the dry ingredients together.
  • Cut the butter into quarters then halve again. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry mixture until you are able to form a ball of dough.
  • Dust a cool surface with rice flour and place the ball of dough on the flour. Knead until the edges crack.
  • Form golf ball sized balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. (I use a Silpat mat or parchment paper)
  • Press down with a fork and decorate with sparkles or candied cherries.Bake approx. 20 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Let sit for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. 

Day 10: For the bohemian

By Giselle Wedemire

Filled with incense, vegan leather handbags, and books on yoga, Wanderlust Trading Company is a bohemian's wonderland. And that's why we've chosen it as our Day 10 pick in our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping) gift guide. 

With three locations in town, Wanderlust stands out as a beacon of light for the urban hippies of Calgary, which is exactly why we love this business. If you've got a bohemian to shop for this holiday season, forget buying them patchouli oil and scope out these Picky Bitchez-approved gift ideas instead: 

  • Yoga: The Poetry of the Body: A 50-Card Practice Deck ($29.99) 

Photo via ALibris.com (because of all the pictures I took at Wanderlust, this one never turned out :(

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day 9: For the bookworm

By Giselle Wedemire

In an effort to avoid big-box stores and malls this Christmas season, we've been highlighting local businesses you might want to patronize while doing your holiday shopping. Today is Day 9 of our twelve-day gift guide, and we've chosen Shelf Life as our pick for the perfect place to shop for the book lover in your life.

As a bookworm, I can wholeheartedly say that one of the best gifts you can ever give a book lover is -- you guessed it -- a good book. The key to pulling this off is to know the person you're shopping for and to shop for their books accordingly. If they're a diehard romantic and you give them a copy of Everyone Poops, chances are your gift won't go over well. The same goes for if they're a devout Catholic and you present them with a copy of Christopher Hitchens' The Portable Atheist.

However, if you put in the time and effort to pick out a fantastic book for the bibliophile on your list, they will love and cherish you (and that gift) for a loooong time. Trust me. 

Now, you probably know the tastes of your book lover better than I ever could, so I'll leave you to it. But if you've got a bookworm to shop for who's also a Picky Bitch, then I think I've got you covered with these suggestions.

For the book worm: Bunner's - Simple & Delicious Gluten-free Vegan Treats by Ashley Wittig and Kevin MacAllister ($24.99)

Photo via HarperCollins.ca

Friday, December 19, 2014

Day 8: For the daredevils and adrenaline junkies

By Giselle Wedemire

We're on Day 8 of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping), and today is all about the daredevils. You know the type: they're the ones who are always up for anything, and are always looking for new and exciting things to try.

Bearing these traits in mind, aside from getting them a motorcycle or a bungee jumping class, what could be a better gift idea for a daredevil than a new tattoo?

For the daredevil: Aeonian Tattoo Inc. gift certificate (available for purchase in any dollar amount you'd like)

Photo via The Spokesman. Photo credit: Creative Commons

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Day 7: For the sweet tooth

By Giselle Wedemire

We are now on Day 7 of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping) gift guide, meaning we are more than halfway done! In case you didn't get a chance to score any gift-worthy gluten-free goodies at last week's vegan holiday bake sale, we've got you covered.

If you've got a Picky Bitch with a sweet tooth to shop for this Christmas, you might want to hit up Bliss & Co. Cupcakes and Desserts for a dozen (or two) cupcakes that can be stored in the fridge until Christmas Day.

For the picky sweet tooth: a JOY pack (a half-dozen regular-sized gluten-free cupcakes, $24.95) or HOHO mini-pack (one dozen mini gluten-free cupcakes ($24.95)

Photo courtesy of Alex Staines/Bliss & Co.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 6: For the DIY fan

By Giselle Wedemire

Few things beat the feeling you get when you make something with your own two hands. For fans of DIY, that feeling is probably pretty common, though no less rewarding, than it is for the rest of us. However, if you're shopping for a DIY fan (or a lover of organic, handmade skincare products), look no further than our pick for Day 6 of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping).

Neal's Yard Remedy, the English purveyor of luxurious, organic skincare and cosmetics, has found a home in Calgary, which is one of only two Canadian retail outlets for the upscale British brand. Established in 1981 and known for its potent and scrumptious blends of organic essential oil, Neal's Yard Remedy (NYR) products are jam-packed with natural ingredients to help soothe and pamper you from head to toe.

Photo via NealsYardRemedies.ca

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Day 5: For the natural beauty, SNL fan, amateur cook, and crazy cat lady

By Giselle Wedemire

If the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter ever had a tchotchke-filled sister, it would be Kricket's. This quaint store has practically everything you could ever want or need, as far as little giftables go, and can be a great one-stop shop for almost everyone on your list. (Just don't get one of their hilariously crude or off-colour Christmas cards for your grandma.)

With so many options in this tiny store, it was definitely hard to narrow down our top picks for Day 5 of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping), but we hope you can appreciate the few items we've picked out for some of the weirdos eclectic people on your shopping list.

For the SNL fan: Stefon glass ($14.95) or mug ($15.95)
Photo via Kricket's (Facebook)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Day 4: For the product junkie

By Giselle Wedemire

Welcome back to our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping), where each day we spotlight one great Calgary business where we think you should do your holiday shopping. We're now on Day 4, and one of the local stores we've recently fallen in love with is Altruistic Company.

Nestled in the heart of Mission, Altruistic Company is a one-stop shop for beauty product junkies that is stocked almost entirely with the vegan and gluten-free brand 100% Pure. It's also one of the few places in Canada you can score this fantastic brand, and with everything in there smelling so yummy, it's hard to leave with just one thing in your shopping bag. 

But that's alright because for the month of December, you'll receive a gift with any purchase you make (which means you can either score an extra (free) gift for your loved one, or you can gift yourself the free treat!).

For the product junkie in your life: 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Day 3: For the workaholics and stressed students

By Giselle Wedemire

We're now on our third day of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping), and we've got to admit that the holidays are a stressful time for everyone. However, I would argue that they're particularly hard on workaholics and students of all walks of life. After all, both workaholics and students are trying to fit in as much work as possible into a finite amount of time before surrounding themselves with those near and dear to them. 

For these folks in particular, it's important to indulge in a bit of 'me time' during the holidays, and that's where a great Thai Aroma Oil massage comes in handy. 

Photo via Flickr

Thai Aroma Oil massage gift certificates ($85+)

A true gem in Calgary's massage parlour scene, Baan Thai Massage works absolute magic on sore muscles and stressed minds.

Using coconut oil and organic essential oils for one to two hours, the massage therapists at Baan Thai work to melt your tension and stress away. And, depending on your personal preferences, your masseuse can customize whether your massage will allow for deep relaxation and/or deep-tissue therapy.

No matter what your workaholic/stressed student decides on in the massage room, they'll leave feeling calm, cool, and relaxed. They might also feel like they're walking on air and they'll have a really hard time walking out the door (I know this from personal experience when I stumbled home while intoxicated by my intense feeling of relaxation), but it's definitely worth it.

You can find Baan Thai Massage at 8 - 2100 4 Street SW, or online at BaanThaiMassage.ca.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Day 2: For the little ones, cat lovers, and ugly sweater fans

By Giselle Wedemire

It's the second day of our 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping), and I have a confession to make: I harbour an unhealthy obsession with Blame Betty's merchandise. I'm always checking on their latest stock online, and I find myself craning my neck to ogle their display window whenever I walk past their store. 

Tucked away on 17th Avenue SW, they provide retro-loving Canadians with the opportunity to live life like true rockabillies. If you had to boil the store down to a few choice interests, they'd be comprised of two parts pin-up culture, one part Mad Men-esque wardrobes, and one part zombie thriller movie.

You could easily spend all day ogling their vintage-inspired products, but here we've selected a few gift ideas that go above and beyond the usual awesome offerings:

For the cat lover:  Kitty Anti Pop heels by T.U.K. Shoes ($69)
Photo via BlameBetty.com

Friday, December 12, 2014

Day 1: For the foodie with a big heart

By Giselle Wedemire

Our first pick for the Picky Bitchez's 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping) is a destination -- or an event -- rather than an actual store. We know we're breaking our own rules here, but with an all-vegan holiday bake sale in town, we really couldn't resist.

On Dec. 13, Calgary will be hosting its very first vegan holiday bake sale, and it promises to be just as amazing as the annual vegan bake sale held in the city every May. We are so excited about this event, and we think that with all the sweet (and savoury) vegan treats up for grabs, they'd make for a fantastic gift.*

Photo via Calgary Vegan Bake Sale Team/Facebook

The 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping): A Picky Gift Guide

By Giselle Wedemire

Welcome to the 12 Days of Christmas (Shopping)! As of today, there are just 12 shopping days separating us from the gift giving bonanza that is Christmas Day. (We're not even thinking of including Dec. 24 in this count because in our minds, Christmas Eve is a day for lounging in your PJs while drinking hot chocolate and watching holiday movies.)

If you haven't completed (or even started) your Christmas shopping, then I'd say that that tight feeling you're currently experiencing in your chest is probably the beginning of an anxiety attack. But fear not!

Photo via ChristmasStockImages.com