GIFT GUIDE | Holiday Gift Ideas for a Man Friend

GIFT GUIDE | Holiday Gift Ideas for a Man Friend

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Holiday Gift Ideas for a Man Friend

As much as I love the process of coming up with a highly thought out gift, there isn’t always time for that.  Often the days leading up to Christmas do not lend to extensive planning when it comes to gifts. With that said, here are some holiday gift ideas for a man friend that are on both sides of the spectrum. Some are highly thoughtful and some are highly useful. It is a great move to strike a balance between the two.

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UNDIES

When talking about holiday gift ideas for a man friend, underwear should be in this conversation. This gift is guaranteed to be completely utilized and won’t be returned. SAXX is the way to go when you want both style and comfort in men’s underwear. I have it on good authority, aka a few men who are picky about their undergarments who swear by this brand. I can see why, the SAXX Vibe Boxer Brief is the softest pair of underwear I’ve ever felt. It’s a CLOUD. They’re also known for their ballpark pouch and anti-roll waistband, both of which are the definition of comfort. The SAXX Thermoflyte Tights are a great option too. The lining is incredibly soft and cozy! They’re perfect for a base layer for snowboarding or even as the main layer if when running in the winter. I was tempted to keep them!

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FANCY BOOZE

One cannot go wrong with fancy booze. Rather than getting the commercial brand liquors, why not dig a little deeper and find something craft? Canada is ripe with exceptional small batch distilleries and Dillon’s is a recent favourite I have come across. They have a selection of flavoured gins, interesting bitters, and other highly delicious spirits. Try their ginger or cranberry bitters for holiday inspired cocktails. Their unfiltered gin and absinthe are also a great addition to any growing liquor cabinet.

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BAR TOOLS

Naturally with fancy booze must come exceptional bar tools. When I want a cocktail set that is both attractive and includes every piece you could ever imagine, I turn to Crate & Barrel. There are so many options from the bar tool set in four different metal finishes or creating a personalized set piece by piece. In addition to the bar tool set, a stainless steel cocktail shaker and cocktail picks will round out the collection.

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WOODSY GROOMING

Pro tip: find holiday gift ideas for a man friend that you might actually want to use at their place as well. This could be a controversial notion but as long as it’s something they love too, then this is perfectly fine. All three of these products smell like a woodsy dream. Schmidt’s Cedarwood + Juniper soap smells like showering outside in the Pacific Northwest. Lush’s Smuggler’s Soul gorilla perfume has sandalwood base notes and is also very woody smelling. Lastly, Kevin.Murphy Free.Hold is a styling paste that smells of bergamot, so dreamy.

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CUSTOM EMBROIDERY FROM LEVI’S

Fact: a customized denim jacket is the most thoughtful gift. At least that rings true in this list of holiday gift ideas for a man friend. Across Canada (and the usa) Levi’s have opened Tailor Shops. This is the second trip I have made to the Levi’s Tailor Shop West Edmonton Mall location for embroidery. This time, it wasn’t for myself. Inspired by my favourite man friend’s Sun tarot card, Kaye was able to recreate the particular card on the back of a black Levi’s denim jacket. The result: a one of a kind gift! For more information on that, check out this post about my experience getting Customized Denim at the Levi’s Tailor Shop Edmonton.

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FLOWER SUBSCRIPTION

Lastly, gender roles are meant to be flipped around whenever the opportunity presents itself. Send your man friend flowers! Better yet, send him a flower subscription from Them Blooms! They’re an Albertan florist who delivery almost everywhere in the province. This month’s bouquets include: cedar, pine, fir, cones, skimmia, ilex berry, BC roses, and white stock. It smells like forest heaven; the box is so fragrant when first opened.

photographs – Sandy Joe Karpetz

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FOOD COMA | Dinner at the Drake Devonshire

FOOD COMA | Dinner at the Drake Devonshire

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Dinner at the Drake Devonshire

Out east, there’s a thing called “the Drake effect.” The boutique hotel has the power to transform communities around it. When I lived in Toronto, The Drake Hotel was so far down Queen West, I considered it to be the end of the line. We went anyway to see the parade of musicians playing there. I saw Makeout Videotape, Mac Demarco’s band before he became his name, the first time I went. It was worth the trek. That basement venue was intimate and dark – both things you want as a university student. I digress. Walk by now and the seediness of the area has disappeared. They even have an adorable general store! That magic is not just in Toronto alone. Enter Drake on the lake, their property in Prince Edward County. While we didn’t spend the night, we did have dinner at the Drake Devonshire. Here’s what you can expect:

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THE AMBIENCE

To begin with, the stunning 13 room boutique hotel in Wellington, one of the many adorable towns that make up Prince Edward County, opened its doors in 2015. Originally, it was the estate of W.P. Niles, owner of the the W.P. Niles Seed Company and Wellington Electric Light and Power Company. The property is steps away from Lake Ontario and the whole restaurant overlooks it. There is not one bad seat in the house! There is a piece of art in every corner, you will never run out of intriguing things to look at. In addition to the lovely surrourndings in the mansion turned hotel/restaurant, the servers are extremely friendly.

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THE DRINKS

Prince Edward County is wine country. Naturally, the wine list at the Drake Devonshire was impressive. It even included a selection from local wineries in the area. It doesn’t end there, however, their cocktail list is just as great. We had two standout favourites. The first one is the Strawberry Sake Spritz, a delightful blend of strawberry infused sake, combined with lemon, ginger, and sparkling wine (pictured above). Our second choice, and a great non-alcoholic option is the Wanderlust which included grapefruit, mint, cucumber, cranberry, lemon, and seltzer. Can confirm is was very refreshing.

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THE FOOD

To begin with, the food can be perfectly described in one word: yum. The dinner started with a charcuterie spread of cheese, fruit, and bread. Then the oysters arrived. At which point I swear I blacked out from seafood bliss. Just kidding! We proceeded to order a bunch of sides because we could not resist roasted vegetables. Our favourite dish was unanimously the Miso Cauliflower topped with black garlic pest, creme fraiche, cashews, pecorino, and cilantro. The brussel sprouts were grilled to perfection and topped with house kimchi and pumpkin seeds. Without a doubt, definitely order the truffle fries should you stop by for a cocktail, you will not regret it. But maybe just have Dinner at the Drake Devonshire while you’re at it! Here is the Devonshire’s Dinner Menu so you can start drooling and planning now.

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THE DETAILS

The devil may be in the details, but dinner at the Drake Devonshire has the details on lockdown. I got lost looking at the art that was in every corner. Waiting for a table? No problem. Play table tennis in their games room to pass the time or take some goofy shots in the photobooth. Or forget dinner and buy a s’mores package to enjoy on the lake around their fire pit. Without a doubt, every corner of this property is Instagram worthy. They even have a neon vacancy sign that I immediately fell in love with.

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You can have dinner at The Drake Devonshire at:


The Drake Devonshire – Instagram / Twitter / Facebook / Website

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FOOD COMA | The Welcome Diner

FOOD COMA | The Welcome Diner

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My love of the past run deeps. So deep in fact, I made my sister walk in the desert heat to check out a restaurant that I had seen a cute photo of on Instagram. I steered us down the wrong road by walking on a bike path along a freeway (I swear I usually have a great sense of direction) and finally got us on the right road just as we were both becoming very hangry. I often am swayed by a great photo on the ‘gram, that’s how I discovered Sketch in London. Happily, I am able to report that the majority of my quests that spawned from an attractive photograph have turned out pleasant and have been well worth it. The Welcome Diner is another one of those success stories.

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The building, a classic example of Googie architecture, was fully restored by The Welcome Diner in 2016 and if you happen to walk in the right direction, it’s very close to the Hotel Congress. If you’re into classic cars with futuristic design, the space age, and anything midcentury modern, you will definitely be able to appreciate the restoration and design of this diner! It was originally built for the Sambo’s Restaurant chain by Ronald Bergquist in 1964. It is everything I want out of a sixties diner – chrome for days, spacious booths, and the friendliest staff around.

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Let’s talk about the food. THE FOOD! It was all so delicious! I suppose that’s what happens when a diner has a farm-to-table ethos and scratch cooks everything. Of course I had to try the biscuit eggs benedict – can confirm it was yum. Katie had the roasted vegetables which looked like the perfect southwestern breakfast fare. She confirmed it was also yum. Will we return? Short answer: EMPHATICALLY YES.

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No classic diner decor would be complete without a few black & white photographs from the original restaurant. Bonus points if those photos happen to be of a streaker who looks like a 70s dad.

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You can find The Welcome Diner Broadway at:

902 E Broadway Blvd
Tucson, AZ
85719

HOURS
Sunday – Thursday
8:00 am — 10:00 pm
Friday – Saturday – 8:00 am — 12:00am

The Welcome Diner – Instagram / Twitter / Facebook / Website

FOOD COMA | The Shameful Tiki Room

FOOD COMA | The Shameful Tiki Room

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Allow yourself a minute to adjust your eyes to a dimly lit tiki dream bar. Good, now we can get started.  As you may or may not be aware of, I am on a tiki tour of the world. The allure of the kitsch is strong within me and I have made a point of seeking out establishments old and new of the Polynesian variety. From Arizona to Japan, the tiki always finds me; beckons me with its warm glowing blow fish lights. How thrilled was I to find out that there was a tiki bar in Vancouver? One cannot express the joy of discovering The Shameful Tiki Room. If you aren’t into the garish decor that is the essence of all things tiki or fruity n boozy cocktails that are often ablaze with an artful flame, perhaps you should exit out of this browser now. If all of that sounds like a real keen time to you, scroll on!

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Does this drink come with a side of flame? That’s the only question I ever want answered when at a tiki establishment. I *believe* this was the Zombie cocktail which was rated 4/4 barrels – the maximum alcohol content; there’s a limit of 2 per customer if that’s any indication of the level of potency. This is what I would classify as a “floor licker” beverage. It tastes super good but don’t drink it too fast otherwise you’ll be on all fours in no time.

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What’s better than a flaming drink for one? A FLAMING DRINK FOR TWO! I’ll admit I was incredibly intrigued by this indulgent drink solely due to its name: the Mystery Bowl. Who doesn’t love a good mystery? I’ve always been a huge fan of Nancy Drew so this seemed like a natural progression, really.

There are so many more fantastic cocktails to be had! We paced ourselves as to insure that we would be leaving the bar upright. Check out their extensive “grog” list here. They also serve food as well which we did not have room for so it still remains a mystery to me. Check out the chow here.

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You can find The Shameful Tiki Room at:

4362 Main Street
Vancouver, BC

HOURS
Sunday – Thursday
5:00pm — 12:00am
Friday – Saturday 5:00pm — 1:00am

The Shameful Tiki Room – Instagram / Twitter / Facebook / Website

FOOD COMA | Elderflower Gin Fizz

FOOD COMA | Elderflower Gin Fizz

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It’s Wednesday; it’s time for a drink. As the balmy summer weather continues to drift away with the biting autumn wind, it’s time to bundle up and drink something refreshing that reminds us of warmer days gone by. Enter: the Elderflower Gin Fizz, a twist on the average gin n soda classic. A little citrusy, a little floral, and a lot of nice.

I first enjoyed this tasty treat when I was living in London. It was my first Christmas away from home and I found solace when I wandered around Oxford Street admiring every holiday window display – Liberty of London’s in particular. While browsing the shoe hall in Liberty, eyeing the most decadent and out of my budget footwear, a shopping event was taking place. A server offered me a cocktail and I readily took it. Hello I’m living in a foreign country because I ran away from my problems, please give me a free drink.

The second I tasted this elixir, I imagined myself as an elderly spinster draped in furs talking about my youth; a perfect picture of Ms Havisham. I knew I had found my favourite drink. I chased down the server to find out what it was… elderflower! I had a vision of myself as an elderly flower, it was kismet.

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I went to The Grocery, my local shop in Shoreditch to find this exquisite elderflower cordial and I discovered the Belvoir Fruit Farms, a company based in the Lincolnshire countryside – how British. They create the loveliest cordials, presses, and effervescent drinks. Every one has been a taste sensation and I am SO PLEASED they are launching in Canada! Fingers crossed we get a Whole Foods in Edmonton one day. #daretodream

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INGREDIENTS

HOW TO MAKE

  • Place mint leaves in glass with ice
  • Mix gin, cordial, and a squeeze of lime in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Double strain into glass over ice and mint leaves
  • Top with soda water
  • Take a sip and imagine yourself as a fur clad elderly lady with the most interesting stories
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Optional: add a dash of curious Chloe cat for extra cuteness points

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FOOD COMA | Reposado Margarita

FOOD COMA | Reposado Margarita

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Allow me to let you in on a little secret: the best margaritas do not come from a pre-made bottle. It’s shocking, I know. I have tried to dress up pre-mixed margaritas in a nice glass but so many of them have a taste I would liken to nail polish remover. The funny thing is, an exceptional margarita is one of the simplest drinks I have ever made. It’s time we start paying the most ordered drink in America the respect it truly deserves! Wanna hop on this tasty train? Keep scrolling for details:

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A delicious margarita begins, of course, with the base liquor – tequila. In my travels, I have learned that it is better to stick to smaller run batches of tequila as they are made of 100% agave and NO FILLER! Thus, the bottle is pure flavour country and nothing suspect. One of my favourites is Espolon. Not only are the illustrations on the bottle amazing (hello day of the dead skeletons) but it tastes incredible. The reposado begins its life as blanco tequila and then it’s aged 3-5 months in lightly charred American oak barrels giving it that flavour and golden colour. Yum.

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A good salt rim is also key in this drink, in my opinion. While I was in Iceland, I came across this brand of salt, Nordur. They have created this company around sustainability, renewable energy, and tradition. I was originally lured in by the packaging, which is typical consumer Sandy for you, but I was moved by their dedication to the craft while being aware of the ecosystems around them. This salt is so delicious and perfect for rimming a margarita because it’s both salty and sweet with the blueberry flavouring.

It’s time to choose your own adventure: If you want to find out more about the company, browse right here. If you want to find out more secrets to the best margarita ever, continue scrolling my dude.

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Other ingredients: Cointreau or Triple Sec, Agave Syrup, and limes

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 oz of Espolon Reposado
  • 1 oz of Cointreau Triple Sec
  • 1 oz of Agave Syrup
  • 1 oz of fresh lime juice

HOW TO MAKE

  • rim glass with lime wedge and flavoured salt (Nordur preferably)
  • pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice
  • shake vigorously
  • double strain into glass over fresh ice
  • add a lime wedge garnish on rim (optional)
  • sit back and enjoy some sipzzzzzz
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If that wasn’t interesting enough, let’s briefly touch on the legend of the margarita just for fun. One story credits a Texas socialite, Margarita Sames for inventing the margarita cocktail at her home in Acapulco in 1948 by using 3 parts tequila and 1 part lime juice. A lesser known tale is that a bartender in Tijuana created it to impress actress Rita Hayworth. Either way, many thanks to either of them for allowing me this opportunity to waste away again in Margaritavilla a la Jimmy Buffet styles.

photographs – sandy karpetz

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