Archive for the ‘Gift Ideas’ category

Pretty Good Gift Idea: Heart By Way of Tummy

December 24, 2008

cookingSo you’re down to the wire and you have no idea what to give the hardest person in the world to shop for. But you just know it can’t be another gift card because you’ve given this person a gift card every year for umpteen years. Here’s one area where you can almost certainly not go wrong: food. Glorious food. Hey, we all gotta eat, right? Most of us even have to (or want to?) make it for ourselves. Especially these days, people are getting back to basics, making meals at home, eating in comfortable settings with those they know and love. So here’s the pretty good idea: Pick up a great book from River City Books’ cooking section — they are not all strictly recipe books — and pair it with, say, a gift certificate from the local food co-op. The book provides the plan. The certificate provides the tools. Many books in the cooking section help us eat healthfully while still inspiring meals that warm the tummy, which is important to many of us. It is important to me, too. Or will be. Right after the holidays.

Note that RCB will be closed tomorrow, Dec. 25. Happy holidays to all!


Pretty Good Gift Idea: For The Best Friend

December 23, 2008

deweyToday’s pretty good gift idea is one you can give to your friend that he or she can in turn give to his or her best friend. Wait. I know what you must be thinking: this bird is batty! No, I am not really suggesting that on top of the shopping list, the cookie baking, the turkey basting, the tree trimming and the shoveling (oh, the shoveling) that you should also volunteer to come up with gifts for other people’s people. Actually, I am thinking of the fuzzy four-legged friends in our lives.

If you are buying for a dog or cat lover you might want to consider perusing River City Books’ pet section for one of the many great books about pet rearing/animal tales and then couple it with a treat or gift certificate to a local pet supplier. A few that come to mind: Dewey, a true story about a cat that saved an entire Iowa town. Or marleyso I am told. I am also told a movie is in the works. Of course, you can go tried and true: Marley & Me, which, of course, already has the movie mojo. One book I picked up the other day is “Do Dogs Laugh?” I haven’t gotten too far into it yet (been a little busy, ya know) but it looks like it will help me figure out a few things about the terrier in my life and about dogs in general (I have much to learn). Not too long ago I saw a Cesar Millan title on one of the store’s many bargain tables. I can’t vouch that it’s still there. But his books are worth checking out. They don’t call him the Dog Whisperer for nothing.

Two more options — just because I’m hot, and you never know when that might happen again. The first is Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform by Carleton College graduate Karin Winegar and the second is Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog. This time of year we all could use more freethinkers, whether or not they are canines.

Pretty Good Gift Idea: Mark the Days

December 22, 2008

calendars2Sometimes I need a gift to wow someone. I mean, really blow them away with my creativity and maybe even show them that my wallet does, in fact, open up. But quite often, especially in these economic times, I want to give a small gift that shows I am thinking of you but not going overboard to the point where the person thinks “gee, I didn’t know we were such good friends.”

In these situations I remember that the old neighborhood bookstore has calendars galore, including wall, page-a-day and engagement options. Themes include (but are not limited to) animals, children, gardening, farming, landscapes, nature, art, photography, quilting, sailing, unique places, and spirituality.

Calendars are a pretty good gift idea because they are snazzy, they don’t cost much and everyone needs at least one (and most need two, — one for home, another for office). On Saturday I was in the store and talked to a gentleman who purchased four of those fancy new Carleton College-produced calendars, the ones that include all kinds of great shots of Northfield. If you haven’t seen them yet, stop on by the store. I know you’ll like ’em. And they are an especially good gift option for the friend who relocated to a lesser place.

Pretty Good Gift Idea: Beer

December 19, 2008

beer-bookPerhaps there’s someone on your gift list that likes beer. It is, technically speaking, possible. I mean, some people, I have heard, do like a brew now and then. A little. Once in a while. But what do you give the beer aficionado? Slapping a bow on a sixpack and sliding it under the tree crosses a line that makes many of us feel, well, a little like Clark W. Griswold’s cousin Eddie. But aha! Down at the old neighborhood bookstore, they have a solution: Land of Amber Waters by Doug Hoverson, winner of a Minnesota Book Award. Starting with Minnesota’s first brewery in 1849, Hoverson, a certified beer judge and award-winning homebrewer, tells the story of the state’s beer industry from small-town breweries to large companies such as Schell’s and Grain Belt. The book also highlights today’s beer culture, including new wave of brewpubs. Pair this book up with a gift certificate to one of Northfield’s fine pubs and there you go! Last time I checked, too, RCB had a couple of signed copies on hand.

Pretty Good Gift Idea: Tunes for All

December 17, 2008

Well, actually, this post’s header lies. This isn’t one pretty gift idea — it’s several. And they all come courtesy of River City Books bookseller and music maven Kevin Krein. I have multiple music lovers on my shopping list and, um, I pretty much stopped knowing what was on the radio in 1989. Kevin’s the one to turn before zipping over to RCB’s impressive wall of CDs. Recently, I was smart enough (shuddup!) to take a few notes.

Here’s his roundup of gift-worthy tunes, with an eye on finding options for every sort of ear:

Giving the gift of music during the holiday season can be both thoughtful and dangerous. Thoughtful in the sense that you thought that someone on your holiday shopping list might like an album by an artist they have enjoyed in the past. Dangerous in the sense that if you’re buying blindly for someone without knowing their tastes, come Christmas morning, they could shoot you a dirty look like they’ve just unwrapped an ugly sweater or a package of athletic socks.

A lot of albums were released in 2008. Here are some of them, sorted by genre/demographic to please even the most picky listeners this holiday season.


Pretty Good Gift Idea: Crafty Combo

December 15, 2008

knittersThis one comes from as reliable a source as they have down at the old neighborhood bookstore: Sue de Malignon (I call her Sue D. because my French isn’t so good), who has been there as long as there has been a there there. Not only is Sue the store’s clothing expert and moderator of the River City Books book club (I went last time and learned a lot and laughed even more), she is also a whiz when it comes to wrapping gifts. I am telling you, you should buy something while she’s working just so you can give a gift that has been wrapped by her. Really doesn’t matter what’s inside because she’ll wrap it with such artistry that the person who receives it may not have the heart to open it up.

In her spare time, Sue came up with this gift idea: Buy a knitting, craft or design book — her recommendations include Home by Design by Sarah Susanka and The Knitter’s Bible by Clarie Crompton — and couple it with an item or gift certificate from Digs. Or, just as good, Sue added, would be a beading book (Complete Beading by Jema Hewitt is a good one) with a gift certificate from Glass Garden.

It’s a great idea — and an even better one if you have Sue wrap it for you. Say it with me: Wrapping is always free at RCB!

Pretty Good Gift Idea: More Harry

December 11, 2008

rowling-bookPssst! Did you hear? J.K. Rowling just published a new Harry Potter book!

OK, I know it’s not the dreamed-of Book Number 8, but, I guarantee the Harry Potter fan — or fans, plural — in your life will not be disappointed to open his or her stocking and find this slim but essential book inside.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers’ attention in the book known as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, thanks to Hermione Granger’s new translation from the ancient runes, comes a stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by Rowling. Never before have Muggles been privy to these richly imaginative tales: “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump,” and of course, “The Tale of the Three Brothers.”

This book is a welcome addition to the store of knowledge about the world and the magic that Rowling created. Not only that, you can feel good knowing that purchasing this book will do more than satisfy Harry hunger pangs. From every sale of this book, the book’s publisher, Scholastic, will give its net proceeds to the Children’s High Level Group, a charity co-founded in 2005 by Rowling. CHLG campaigns to protect and promote children’s rights and make life better for vulnerable young people.

So your gift will go in two different directions for the single payment of $12.99. I’d say that’s pretty good.