My older brother and sister-in-law, Jazz and Karen, live a blissful existence at the foot of the Teton Mountains, Idaho side. Shopping for them is easy. They like pretty much everything. One of my first gift-buying priorities is to get something that mails easily.
They love traveling (from backcountry Utah to Italian sidewalk cafes), skiing, Frisbee golf and relaxing to the Grateful Dead. Such is the fodder for gift ideas.
Jazz in particular is a great cook. I love cruising the cooking stores, but I never remember what he has already. Karen, a ski instructor and graphic artist, is a free spirit with a flare for things with a flare. She likes things with sun images and jogging. Jazz and Karen gave Martha and me a wonderful wedding gift this year -- they made a beautiful basket out of red willow sticks they found near their home.
As I go holiday shopping, I am looking to find something to fit with the basket/bowl theme.
For about $25
For Karen: I made my own small gift bag of minor indulgences: a tube of jasmine-scented holiday bath confetti ($7), a set of bright silver pinecone-shaped candles, very festive, ($8), and a small travel kit of Burt's Bees products, including mini-containers of rosemary mint soap, carrot day cream, citrus facial scrub, bath oil, lip balm, body lotion and more ($12).
Where available: The Electric Fetus, 2000 4th Ave. S., M-F 10- a.m.-9 p.m., Sa 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Su 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
For Jazz: Here's a head-to-toe gift idea. What better way to spend a winter day than reading a good book with warm feet. (No, you're not reading the book with your feet; you know what I mean.) My favorite book this year was "I Thought My Father Was God" ($15), which grew out of National Public Radio's story project. It's an anthology of short, personal vignettes, some funny, some sad, from regular people across the country. Add a pair of Wigwam wool sox for comfort ($10).
Where available: You can get both at Calhoun Square, the book at Borders (M-Sa 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Su 9 a.m.-6 p.m.) and the sox at Sox Appeal (M-Sa 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Su noon-6 p.m.).
For about $50
For Karen: For someone who doesn't like shopping, I like shopping at The Tibet Store. It's where I found a sparkly little box for Martha's engagement ring. For Karen, I found a sarong with smiling suns ($15), and if she doesn't wear it she could use it as a decorative cloth. To follow up on the basket/bowl theme, I found a small metal Tibetan singing bowl, which makes a contemplative sound ($35, mallet included).
Where available: The Tibet Store, 2835 Hennepin Ave. S. (M-Sa 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Su 11 a.m.-6 p.m.)
For Jazz: OK, forget everything I said about the gift being easy to mail. I found a very fun salad, pasta, whatever bowl -- a thick, clear glass bowl, about 20 inches wide, that sits on a cast iron stand ($55). What a classy way to serve the chips to the guys in the fantasy football league. Go Bloody Heroes!
Where available: Tidbits, 3010 Lyndale Ave. S., Tu-Sa 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (Su noon-5 p.m.)
For about $100
For Karen: To make sure the sister-in-law is safe and comfortable while jogging the highways and byways of bustling Driggs, Idaho, how about a highly reflective blue/gray jogging vest ($65) and a long-sleeved t-shirt with "Cool Max" fabric to wick away the sweat ($35).
Where available: Running Room, 2801 Hennepin Ave. S. (M-W 9:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Th-F 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Sa 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Su 11 a.m.-5 p.m.)
For Jazz: To free his time to perfect the cranberry chicken-a-la-wing-ding flamb, I would get him a Zojirushi combination rice cooker and vegetable steamer ($80). It makes a maximum of about 15 cups cooked rice at a time, more than ample. For the holiday homer, add the Chicago Metallic popover pan ($20). I love popovers. Now, he'll have to make them when I visit.
Where available: Calhoun Square, 3001 Hennepin Ave. S. (M-Sa 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Su 11 a.m.-6 p.m.)