The Sweetest Crumb

Gifts and Guilt

I just got back from a quick trip to Whyte Avenue and have to say that today’s -9°C felt like the warmest day after the cold spell we’ve been having in Edmonton. Now that Christmas is over, and the weather is apparently warming up, I wanted to share some of the great things I got during the holidays from friends, family and my wonderful boyfriend, Sean… So, in no particular order, here they are:

White Jacket Required book – by Jenna Weber

I opened up this book on the 26th and am already done! I am actually a pretty slow reader and this may be the fastest book I’ve ever gotten through (other than perhaps the Harry Potter books which I love) so that must be saying something! I’ve been following Jenna’s blog – Eat Live Run for quite some time and really enjoyed reading about her journey through culinary school as well as the personal struggles she overcame. Since I would love to attend a patisserie program one day, the book definitely appealed to me. I recommend it for anyone interested in pursuing a culinary career, but am also pretty sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed the read nearly as much if I wasn’t already a constant follower of the blog and a big fan of Jenna Weber.

Duchess Supplies – lavender compound, violet/lavender extract, pistachio extract and powdered food colourings

Most people who know me, know that I love Duchess Bake Shop in Edmonton. “Love” may not even be a strong enough word since I would be entirely happy if someone locked me in there and I got to live at Duchess. Everything made there is completely perfect. Sean and my best friend got me a nice stash of supplies from there for Christmas: some powdered food colourings and extracts. I am really excited to try them out in macarons, creme brûlée and cocktails!

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook!

Obviously, I love and am inspired by other food bloggers and the Smitten Kitchen blog is fantastic! Most of the recipes in this book are different from those posted on the blog and I can’t wait to make them!

Paderno kitchen set

To facilitate all the baking and cooking, my mom got me and Sean a gorgeous set of Paderno kitchen stuff – pots, bowls, measuring cups and spoons, etc. I cannot tell you how excited I am to donate the old stuff away and have measuring cups on which the measures haven’t rubbed off from use, leaving you to guess if you’re looking at a 1/4 cup or 1/3 cup.

Now all the above things are completely me and I know I will use them again and again. They were thoughtful gifts, purchased by the people who know me best, and I completely appreciate them (along with a few other great gifts I didn’t blog about since they are not food-related, like tickets to the Rhianna concert and luxurious Kevin Murphy shampoo I asked for). But I was also saddened this Christmas by how material the holiday is becoming – it seems to me like people just want more gifts to open, to pull out of their stockings and stack under their trees; like they show love through giving gifts and feel loved through receiving gifts.

In my family we do not have a huge tradition of giving tonnes of gifts. We get a few gifts for each other, often confirming that the person receiving the gift does actually want the item first. We definitely do not gift for the sake of gifting. Since I grew up in a household where we do not receive heaps of generic gifts like candles, soaps, chocolates, etc., it seems very wasteful to me and makes me fairly uncomfortable and guilt-ridden to receive these things I know I will not use. I know someone spent their hard-earned money on purchasing these items for me and I will never use them, while there are countless people in the world and even our community who are in need of basic necessities. That’s why this year Sean and I made a point of asking as many people as we could not to get us any gifts or alternatively just to donate to Mark. I thought this plan was full proof! Somehow, though, me and Sean spent about an hour yesterday night going through all the things we had received and figuring out who we could find that could use them or what organization to donate them to. I have no idea how our plan failed? Maybe everyone just thought we were being polite when we asked them not to get us anything? At this point I am a little confused about how to get those who are used to a huge gift-exchange Christmas to respect our desire to minimize waste and the modern-day material aspect of Christmas. Does anyone have tips on limiting the random gifts you receive during the holiday season and the guilt associated with them?



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