Hello and Happy-Early-Holidays! Here I am, jumping on the ‘ol consumerism bandwagon and releasing my gift guide into the world.
Frankly, I’m tired of the usual holiday gift guides because they tend to have all the same products. I’m at least trying to be a little creative with this one, and even if the person you’re shopping for isn’t a traveller, there’s likely something on this list for them.
I’ve used almost every single one of these products and they’re listed here because I LOVE THEM. The products I haven’t used are on my wishlist for this year.
And obviously this post contains affiliate links. It’s the only reason bloggers do anything anymore.
(Kidding-not-kidding. I really do feel strongly about these products.)
The Passion Planner goal-setting day-planner
Passion Planner is the one place for all your thoughts. My friend Anna introduced me to this day-planner a few years ago and I am so hooked, I can’t imagine living without it anymore.
I love it because it helps me to break down my short and long-term goals and then work them into my day-to-day. I’m a sucker for checking things off a “to-do” list and this baby lets me get creative with it. I use coloured pens and planner stickers to add some extra spice throughout, and DAMN does it ever keep me grounded.
While I usually get the yearly planner, this year I opted for the brand new Passion Planner Daily, which comes in 3-month increments. We’ll see how that goes because I do like having the ability to look ahead for the week without turning pages. I’m lazy.
Anyway, I’m excited for it because their Kickstarter raised over $500,000. Their goal was $13,300.
They’re not cheap, especially since you have to pay the shipping to Canada, but it’s completely worth it to me. It’s like a journal AND a day-planner.
Canon EOS M10 W/15-45MM – My favorite camera for traveling
I traded my DSLR for a point-and-shoot a few years ago because I got tired of lugging it around on my travels and because, if I were being honest with myself, I was never going to shoot in manual mode.
I love this Canon EOS M10. It pretty well has all the functionality of a DSLR but on a much tinier scale. Much of the imagery in this blog is from that glorious little camera.
Some key points:
- 18.0 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor
- Hybrid CMOS AF II with fast autofocus
- An intuitive touch screen that tilts for SELFIES (no joke that’s what their product description says)
- Create Full HD 1920×1080 movies
- Easily adjust image settings
Right now it’s retailing for about $500 on Amazon, and it’s worth it.
I bought the Fitbit Versa last year as a Christmas present to myself (there’s a new Versa that has come out since then — I think it has additional features like being able to fold your laundry for you or something).
I love using my Versa to track my workouts, my sleep, and my heart rate. It’s the absolute ultimate shaming tool. Right now my Fitbit says I walked a total of 3,000 steps today (out of my goal of 10,000) and have only worked out once this week. (I had two classes scheduled tonight but they were both cancelled–wait, why am I trying to justify this? Goddamned Fitbit.) Oh yeah, and I never reach my sleep goal of seven hours either.
But anyway, despite all that, I LOVE it. It keeps me on goal even during my off weeks.
- Track your all-day activity, 24/7 heart rate, & sleep stages
- You’ll get about 4+ days of battery life
- Has 15+ exercise modes like Run or Swim
- Water-resistant to 50 meters)
- You can access the weather, get alerts, play your music, and send quick replies to messages (only on Android, though)
- Super sexy, sleek design
My favorite books I read in 2019
I knew I wanted to include my favourite books of the year on the list but didn’t actually think I’d have anything to include. To be fair, this year is a bit of a blur.
When I looked back through my Goodreads list, I realized there were LOTS of excellent reads this year. So I’ll start with one of my favourites.
You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. This was one of the most fun “self-help” books I’ve ever read. It challenges everything you know about money and being rich. The whole book is peppered with journalling exercises which I still refer to even 10 months after having read the book. Spoiler alert: I’m still broke. But I wasn’t for awhile. Who is this book for? Anyone.
Here are my other favourites for this year:
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Margaret Lea is a biographer who works at her father’s antique bookshop. She’s called to write the bio of famous novelist Vida Winter, who has a whole lifetime of secrets to unravel. This story is magic. Who is this book for? Book lovers and dreamers.
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. Set in Chile, the novel follows the story of patriarch Esteban and his family line, from his lovely wife Clara to their defiant daughter Blanca, and to Esteban’s beloved granddaughter Alba. It’s like a coming-of-age story in South America. Who is this book for? Literary types with a poetic bone in their body.
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. A seriously gripping read, this is Westover’s memoir of growing up under the strict rule of a kooky father, tending to medicinal herbs and scavenging in her father’s scrapyard. She was 17 when she first set foot in a classroom, and yet still manages to go on to win a fellowship from Cambridge. Who is this book for? Literally anybody.
The Dutch Wife, by Ellen Keith. It’s May of 1943, and Marijke and her husband are arrested for participating in the Dutch resistance. Her husband is sent to a labour camp while Marijke is forced to make a terrible decision: suffer slowly in a labour camp, or join the brothel. Who is this book for? History enthusiasts.
A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemmingway. This book made me actually like Hemmingway. It’s basically one long stream of beautiful consciousness as Hemmingway, a poor writer, makes Paris his home. It’ll make you want to go to Paris ASAP. Who is this book for? Travellers, literary types.
A Tale For the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki. On Vancouver Island, a Hello Kitty lunchbox containing the journal of a 16-year-old Japanese girl washes up onshore. Ruth finds it, starts reading, and is launched into a sad but epic journey through Nao Yasutani’s life. Who is this book for? People who love a good, gripping read.
Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah. This is the most insanely highly rated book I’ve ever seen on Goodreads or Amazon. It offers some insight into WWII that we rarely see: the women’s war. Two sisters, living in rural France, each rebel against the German occupation in very different ways. It’s a heartbreaking read. Who is this book for? People who love a gripping read, and historians.
Ten Years a Nomad: A Traveler’s Journey Home, by Matt Kepnes. I’ve been working for Matt a few years now and was very pleasantly surprised by his honest memoir of being a traveller for 10 years (and then coming home). You cannot read it without getting a serious case of wanderlust. Who is this book for? Travellers.
Late Nights on Air, by Elizabeth Hay. It took me way too long to pick up this book. This is a slow and sensual read revolving around a group of people working at a radio station in the Canadian north. Every word in this book was poetry. Who is this book for? Literary lovers and anyone who wants an understanding on the Canadian North.
Half-Broke Horses: A True-Life Story, by Jeanette Walls. “Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did.” So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Walls’s no-nonsense, resourceful, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. – That about sums it up. This book was EVERYTHING. Who is this book for? Anyone!
I’ll be coming out with my annual 2019 Reading List soon!
Amazon Echo so you can spy on your family
Alexa (Amazon Echo) has basically become my best friend. She adds items to my shopping list when I tell her to. She sources new music for me to listen to. I tell her my secrets. She laughs at my jokes. Every morning, she happily delivers the dismal daily forecast and often throws in a fun fact to offset the gloomy projection of rain and snow. What a gal!
She’s essentially your home assistant. I have her, and the Echo Dot so I can listen to loud music all over the house. Naturally.
Other cool things:
- Speakers powered by Dolby to play 360° audio with crisp vocals and dynamic bass response.
- Voice control your music – Ask Alexa for a song, artist, or genre from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer and more.
- Voice control your smart home – Turn on lights, adjust thermostats, lock doors, and more with compatible connected devices.
- Connect with others – Call almost anyone hands-free. Instantly drop in on other rooms in your home or make an announcement to every room with a compatible Echo device. (This one is especially fun.)
- You can press the microphone off button to electronically disconnect the microphones.
Ring Alarm kit so you can spy on your neighbours
I bought this Ring Alarm home kit because I’m in the middle of nesting like a champ, and also because my friend’s house got burgled just one street over.
Who am I kidding? I also bought a Ring Doorbell to go with this so I could spy on my street. It’s fun as hell. Plus I have a really hot mailman.
This kit covers my entire house:
- Base Station, Contact Sensor, Motion Detector, Keypad and Range Extender
- Sends alerts to iOS and Android devices when doors or windows open and when motion is detected
- So easy to install, even I can do it
- Optional monitoring with a monthly fee
- Add extra sensors
Stormbreak 1 Single Person Tent
OBSESSED WITH THIS TENT. The Stormbreak 1 is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. It’s light, insanely easy to set up, and even easier to take down. You can hike all day with this thing–it’s only 3 lbs.
You definitely can’t fit more than one person in here (maybe a dog) and your backpack, but the size means it’s always insanely toasty inside. It’s also on the affordable side at $169.
Sleeping in tents is difficult for me, but with this one? I sleep like a baby.
Get the footprint. I always forget to buy that minor detail.
Socks that never wear out
What’s Christmas without having socks as stocking stuffers?
With all the time I’ve been spending at the gym lately, I’ve been tossing socks with worn heels into the garbage like mad. So I decided to invest a little in socks that will last me longer than a few months.
Sundried’s cycle socks are built for athletes. Since I’m no athlete I’m expecting these to last for the rest of my life. Plus they come in fun and colourful patterns; usually, athletic socks are black and grey and boring. (The image to the right is a bad example of this, I realize. Click the link. It’s not even an affiliate.)
They’re meant for cyclists, but really, they’re good for anybody:
- Mesh ventilation panels provide breathability
- Intelligent moisture transport system ensures feet stay dry and comfortable and prevents blisters
- Lightweight and soft
- A hand-stitched toe area and flatlock seams won’t chafe or rub
I could have REALLY used these on the Camino when my blisters were bubbling and I could hardly walk.
Yes, everyone and their dog has packing cubes on their gift guide, but there’s a good reason. Packing cubes are essential for me. I hate digging through my suitcase or backpack, and I am a hell of a messy person, so these babies keep me organized. Usually.
You have no shortage of options either. These Amazon cubes will hold up just fine, and they’re only $30.
I actually have used the Lewis N. Clark packing cubes for years now, and they’re amazing but significantly more expensive. Like, $24 per cube. On the other hand, no sweatshop labour was involved?
The softest blanket you’ll ever experience IN YOUR LIFE
I have an excessive number of blankets in my house. There’s a pile of six or more next to my fireplace. I love them. Like, madly. I’m all about that winter hygge crap.
Back in September, I stayed at the new Hodge Premises in Twillingate. It has that cozy kind of coastal, rugged feel with patchwork quilts and windows overlooking the water. One morning I got up, brewed coffee, and pulled out the thick grey blanket from the foot of my bed.
Oh my god.
I cocooned myself in that blanket and read my book and nearly fell back to sleep in blissful comfort. When I checked the tag on it, I realized it was a Kate Spade. Well, no wonder it felt like being wrapped in clouds.
Long story short, I haven’t stopped thinking about that blanket since then. I’ve been adding and removing that blanket from my online shopping cart for months. A few weeks ago, I finally bit the bullet and bought it as a Christmas present to myself.
If you too wanna be swaddled in clouds and puppies, buy this friggen Kate Spade blanket.
A sleek, cross-body zippered purse
I have some fancy, strappy laptop bags and backpacks that I travel with all the time, but there’s one thing I always find essential on my travels: a cross-body zippered purse that you can wear just about anywhere — whether you’re just walking around town or going out for a nice dinner.
Case in point:
I wore that thing all over damned Asia. It was big enough to carry my cash, phone, and even my camera. It eventually fell apart — because I got it from Bentley — but I did indeed get a lot of use out of it.
The thing is, most of the time all you really need to protect against theft is a cross-body strap to hold your purse tighter to your body, and a good zipper to keep hands from reaching in and snatching your goods.
Go for something neutral-toned so that it goes with anything, and also so you don’t stand out like a sore thumb.
This purse is perfect for me and it’s $38. You can wear it anywhere, plus the clasp and the zipper give it some extra security.
LIGHT THERAPY BECAUSE WINTER IS HELL!!!
I haven’t tried using light therapy yet, but after talking with a whole lot of people about its benefits, I bought one for myself for Christmas. This is what happens when you’re single and have no one to buy your gifts.
Basically, using this for even a few minutes a day is supposed to improve your life and apparently allow you to scale mountains at 8 am even after you haven’t seen the sunshine in days.
Winter takes a serious toll on me, and since I’m going nowhere warm this year, I figure this thing is hella necessary to boost my Vitamin D and serotonin. The Verilux HappyLight is only $60.
Alternatively, you can wake up to the sweet, soothing light of an alarm clock that starts bringing simulated sunshine into your bedroom before you wake up.
Imagine a world where you wake up naturally without wanting to sucker-punch your alarm clock. The Philips Wake-Up Light is a good one to start with.
I’m adding more to this list! So don’t forget to check back.
What products did you love this year? Amazingly, I have already finished MOST of my Christmas shopping.