Every year, Hubby asks what I want for Christmas, and every year, I draw a blank. It’s not that I don’t have a wish list, but it’s so unusual that I don’t consider most of the items as Christmas gifts. I already have most of the gadgets that I need, and I know that the ones I do want are out of our price range. I don’t need jewelry, and while I could use an updated wardrobe, I’m a little afraid to send Hubby clothes shopping for me. So, I finally sat down and came up with this list of things that I actually do want Hubby to get me for Christmas.
Natural fiber yarns – Now, I’ll admit that most of my yarn stash comes from Michaels, but it’s really hard to find nice, natural fiber yarns at the big box stores. I either end up with yarns that are 100% natural, but not very soft or pretty, or yarns that pretty and soft, but partially synthetic. I like soft, pretty yarns for most of my knitting, but these usually aren’t cheap or easy to find. One of my favorite places to find natural fiber yarns are on Craftsy. Their prices are pretty decent, especially if you catch one of their yarn sales. They also have a really nice selection of gauges and colors. They also offer a variety of knitting and crochet patterns and classes.
Antique Butter Bell Crock – When it comes to spreading on rolls or toast, I prefer my butter to be soft, but not melted. That can be a tricky consistency to achieve in Florida because either the butter melts or mold starts to grow on my butter dish. It’s gross, but it’s true. Butter dishes also aren’t very conducive to holding homemade butter. Of course, you can use plastic containers for storing homemade butter, but they aren’t very stylish. Enter the butter crock. Butter crocks are an old fashioned way of storing butter at room temperature. The butter itself is actually stored in the lid, with water stored in the base. The butter is submerged upside down in the water when the lid is closed, which keeps the butter soft and fresh.
Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven – While I love anything cast iron, I really want a camp Dutch oven. Why? Well, I love campfire cooking. While I’ve used my regular cast iron Dutch oven in the campfire, it isn’t ideal. The camp oven has legs that keep it up out of the coals and allow the bottom to get better heat distribution. It also has an inverted top, which allows coals to be stacked on top. By controlling the coals on top and bottom of the oven, you’re able to control the temperature inside of the oven, which is a must if cooking any breads in your Dutch oven.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home – If you’ve never experienced the awesomeness that is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, I’m not sure if I can explain why this book is high on my wish list. Jeni is an ice cream genius. Who else would have thought of combining cherries and goat cheese in an ice cream? Unfortunately, I live in Florida, so I can only enjoy Jeni’s amazing ice creams when I’m visiting Ohio. With this book, I could have access to her unique flavor profiles from home, plus play with the recipes to make my own creations. I do love making my own ice cream, but I’ve learned that getting creamy ice cream at home is not an easy task. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home promises to make the process simple and fool proof. I really want to put it to the test.
Presto Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker – I love my big All American Pressure Canner, but it isn’t the most practical thing for cooking meals. I’ve done roasts in it, and it’s worked well, but it’s huge, heavy, and difficult to clean. I really enjoy pressure cooking, especially when it comes to cooking a roast on short notice, but I want something smaller for every day use. This 6-quart stainless steel pressure cooker from Presto would be perfect. It’s big enough that it could easily fit most of the roasts I usually work with, but small enough to be manageable on my stovetop, and most importantly, when cleaning in my kitchen sink.
KitchenAid Food Grinder, Rotor Slicer & Shredder, and Sausage Stuffer – I really want the food grinder so I can grind pig fat really fine for making lard, but why not buy a package and get more for my money? The sausage stuffer will be really nice since my butcher doesn’t make sausage links. The rotor slicer and shredder will also be nice for shredding and slicing vegetables and cheeses. I have my food processor, but it runs out of room pretty quickly when shredding vegetables for salads. This attachment would allow me to shred a lot of vegetables into a large bowl underneath.
Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving – The Ball Blue Book is considered to be THE canning resource. The recipes have been tested and the guidance lines up with current USDA guidelines. If you’re new to canning or even a seasoned pro, this is a book that should be in your library. I’m a little embarassed that I don’t own it yet. I plan to start doing a lot more canning, and I want to have the Blue Book by my side when I do.`
Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 – I realize this probably doesn’t seem like much of a homesteading gift, but I’m in need of an upgrade. First of all, I currently have a 1st generation Nook and a 1st generation Kindle. Neither will run the educational apps I would like to use for homeschooling Farmboy. I also have to keep both charged because some of his books are on the Nook and others are only in Kindle format. We are pursuing the Charlotte Mason method of teaching, which means our dependence upon books will just increase. I would like to have as many of those books in electronic format as possible. I like that the Samsung Galaxy Tab will run both the Nook and Kindle Apps, so I can have all of the books on one device. I can also have access to my own homesteading books, like The Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils and From Scratch. The fact that this tablet allows for additional storage is a huge plus since I tend to use the Nook and Kindle to play movies for Farmboy when we’re traveling.
Fitbit Charge HR – Again, I realize this doesn’t seem like a homesteading gift. Between the animals, kids and house, I really don’t need a wrist band to tell me that I’m active. However, I still struggle to stay in shape. I’ve been able to lose weight, but not as quickly as I’d like, and I’m far from being tone. Homesteading can be very physically demanding, so staying fit is really important. I’ve started going to the gym and would really like to have a heart rate monitor to help gauge my workouts. I like that this Fitbit doubles as a heart rate monitor, plus it tells time, tracks my activity and tells me how well I’m sleeping. That’ll be fun with a breastfeeding baby still waking me up overnight. I tried using my phone to track my activity level, but it would quickly burn through the battery. This battery is supposed to last for 5 days on one charge.
These are products I already own, but highly recommend as Christmas (or anytime) gifts.
Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries – Got kids? Then you’ll need batteries this Christmas. Eneloop batteries don’t get hot like other rechargeables, so they can be used in electronics that otherwise don’t allow rechargeable batteries. I was first introduced to them when looking for batteries for my SLR camera’s flash. They hold a charge longer and are guaranteed to be chargeable at least 1500 times. I’ve slowly been replacing all of our rechargeables with Eneloop batteries.
Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing – I just bought this book and am really enjoying it. I have some holiday ham’s curing right now that will soon be ready to smoke. This book also contains two different bacon recipes that I’m looking forward to trying. The book just contains a ton of information about salting, curing and smoking meat. If you raise pigs or just enjoy pork, he has ways to use just about every part of the pig. There are also recipes for beef and duck that I want to try.
T-Fal Programmable Bread Machine – I never thought I’d like a bread machine, but I don’t know what I’d do without this one. It may not be the best gift for the bread purist in your life, but it’s perfect if you’re looking for an easy way to cut commercially produced bread from your life. The gluten doesn’t always develop perfectly, but you don’t have to babysit the dough either. You can even put the ingredients in the night before and program it to have fresh bred when you wake up. All things considered, this bread machine is darn near perfect.
KitchenAid Pasta Roller Set – My pasta making skills are still a work in progress, but these rollers and cutters certainly make the job a lot easier. They attach to and are powered by my KitchenAid mixer, which leaves both of my hands available to feed and catch pasta.
Hamilton Beach Food Processor – I received this food processor as a baby shower gift after my Cuisinart food processor finally bit the dust. It has done a great job with just about everything I’ve thrown at it so far. I don’t recommend using it for chopping pig fat. See meat grinder above. I like how the pieces fit together. I haven’t had any issues with dry ingredients getting stuck in crevices and keeping pieces from fitting properly.
Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker – I love this slow cooker. My old Crock Pot was burning my food if left to cook all day, even when on warm. I couldn’t actually set it on warm manually and I certainly couldn’t customize the programs. With this slow cooker, I can set it on High for 2 hours or Low for 4 hours. I can cook something on the stove and use the slow cooker to keep it warm. The lid locks for mess-less transfer to pot-lucks and the temperature probe makes cooking roasts a piece of cake.
Lodge 5-Piece Cast-Iron Cookware Set – I’ve had this set for 2 years, and I use it for 99% of my stovetop and oven cooking. It’s a nice, heavy set that keeps it’s seasoning well. I can use them to start a dish on the stove and finish it in the oven. I’ve used them over the campfire. The Dutch oven is perfect for soups. Really, I don’t know why I didn’t buy this set sooner.
Bamboo Tea Storage Box – My father-in-law got me this tea box last year for Christmas, and it has been a lifesaver. I have a small addiction to Traditional Medicinals herbal teas. The cabinet where I store my tea was a mess. Boxes of tea fell out every time we opened the cabinet door. This box is almost big enough to house all of my tea bags, but I refuse to buy a second box. I’m just working on drinking a lot more tea. My tea box keeps my collection neatly organized and looks great when I pull it out for guests.