December, for me, is bundling up in the dark and following little paper lanterns through the Japanese garden to find hot apple cider and carolers huddled around the fire pit.
It's a choir concert in a 100-year-old Anglican church with my big coat just over my shoulders.
It's taking out my favourite wooden reindeer and setting it on the mantel.
It's eating as many treats as possible that feature marzipan.
And it's thinking about those I love and what they might like for Christmas. Maybe, a soft white camisole from Germany for a friend or the present that Scott always wants: wool socks.
What are your favourite things to give and receive at Christmas?
Here are a few of mine. A good number of the companies are based in Edmonton (because this city makes a lot of wonderful things), but they're almost all available online.
Beautiful, beautiful wooden lamps handmade in a little studio in South Carolina. Watch this New York Times video for inspiration.
Earrings from Prairie Smoke Glassworks. I have a little pair that are white glass studs with tiny blue squares and they're one of my favourite things. I found them at Tix on the Square in Edmonton, which sells a lot of local artists' work.
This belt solves so many problems: it lies flat against my jeans and is ethically made.
You might shop local for groceries, but have you thought about where your underwear comes from? I've just discovered this little Toronto company and they're fantastic – and fun.
A pure white beeswax candle, or a lavendar honey soap from Meadow Sweet Honey. (Find them at the Old Strathcona Farmers' Market.)
Passion paradou. Raspberry noir. Apricot caramel. Sometimes, I think that all I really want for Christmas is one huge box of these chocolates. They're handmade with a short shelf-life, so go to the shops in Calgary and Edmonton.
It still surprises me that aprons wear out. There seem to be a lot of nice denim ones around lately. I especially like the Japanese style that crosses at the back . . . but my favourite seller on Etsy stopped making them. Seen any other good ones?
The Swedish coffee and baking book, Fika. Full of simple line drawings and ideas for the most important snack of the day.
Everyone likes thinking about houses and how we make them into homes. The Not So Big House is my favourite book about this.
Finally: a splurge. This looks like a gorgeous leather bag made by Edmonton shoe company Poppy Barley. Can you imagine how lovely it would be in brown?
one year ago: shortbread peppermint pattie cookies
two years ago: annie's sun-dried tomato dip
three years ago: cheese ball!