Holiday Gift Ideas, by Sarah Latimer

For so many of us who are inspired to give gifts this time of year to let our loved ones know we care, we are running out of time. However, if you have access to Amazon (and money/available credit), you still have time and I have a few recommendations.

For The Homestead Gardener On Your List- Garden Rocker or the Hula Ho

I look for ways to do things as comfortably as possible while also being efficient. There are two products that have been great tools, for efficiency and for saving my back and knees. They may be well appreciated by someone on your gift list.

Bending up and down is difficult on my back, so when I’m going to work low to the ground or in the soil itself, I prefer to have a comfortable, low seat from which to do this. If I sat on the ground, I’d crush some plants, as my rows are narrow in order to maximize the produce grown in my limited garden space. I don’t want to have to get the tractor out to haul a wheelchair-like device to my garden in order for me to work in my garden comfortably. Something large would require that I waste precious garden space on wide rows to accommodate such a device, too. I want something light and easily transportable that allows me to comfortably sit and do the work that needs to be done low to the ground, whether it is working the soil or tending to vines and plants.

One of the best gifts I’ve received in awhile has been the Garden Rocker, because it fits my needs perfectly. The Garden Rocker is a sturdy, lightweight seat that sits on a single pedestal atop a small, curved base. The footprint is small, so it doesn’t threaten my plants. It’s called a rocker because of its curved base, allowing you to lean from side to side or forward and twist and turn it around without having to pick it up. The seat is contoured for comfort, and some models have cushions attached to the seat. Another option is to buy the hard, contoured seat and either make or buy a washable bar stool pad that has a drawstring to hold it in place around the seat. The seat is thinner than most bar stools but wide enough to be comfortable, measuring approximately 16 x 12. Your feet help to stabilize you, but you do have to be careful with this. While it has a protrusion on the back to reduce the danger of falling backward, it does not eliminate the danger of this happening altogether. You do have to use good sense and not lean backward or lean too far to the side on a wet slope. Also, it is wise to hang onto it as you sit down. I have tipped over twice when I positioned it on a wet slope and sat down without holding onto it. I didn’t quite understand what had happened the first time, but I well learned my lesson the second time as I analyzed the situation and determined not to let that happen again. I was fine, because this little rocker seat is not that far off the ground and my garden is nice and soft. I just didn’t like that I crushed a few tender plants. Fortunately, it was early in the season and I was able to replant and not lose benefit from that garden space for the whole season. That’s really the only negative I can think of and it really has to do with proper use rather than any defect in the product.

It’s been comfortable and sturdy for me, and I’m not a small woman either. According to the manufacturer, it is rated to handle up to 350 pounds. The height of the seat is adjustable, so whether you are tall or short, you can use one of the four height settings to suit your individual needs. For those who prefer a rolling version, the same manufacturer make the Rolling Garden Rocker that is $46 with free shipping for Amazon Prime members.

In my opinion, the Garden Rocker is well worth every penny, at under $50 for a cushioned version and under $39 for the contoured plastic version. I started out with the plain, contoured plastic version and have used it heavily for the past two growing seasons with no problems. It has even been left out in some intense weather and has shown no damage. I fully expect to get good use from it throughout many more growing seasons.

Another tool for working the garden to control weeds is the Hula Ho*, which is on sale in this off season, for only $24. The Hula-Ho seems like a simple concept. It merely drags lightly under the soil’s surface to disturb roots of young weeds without pulling dirt out of its position. It is so easy to maintain the exposed areas between rows during the garden season using the Hula Ho or to eliminate young weeds that begin growing in the garden bed in the fall or early spring, using this simple tool. You just lightly drag it through loose soil to lift roots and small, tender plants that are beginning to grow where they should not. It’s so much easier than having to pull weeds by hand or hoe and then reposition the soil, which is a process than often results in digging beyond necessary depths and exposing soil to air and thereby unnecessarily risking the loss of moisture and nutrients.

For the Herbal Tea Drinker- Teablee Stainless Steel Extra-Fine Tea Infuser for Loose Leaf Tea

This little infuser is the best I’ve found. If you’ve been following my articles for awhile, you know I enjoy tea for both health and comforting pleasure. Many of the teas that I enjoy are homegrown or purchased in loose tea form. I sometimes buy mixed teas, but usually I buy loose teas and tea flavorings in bulk, and I try to grow or locally source as many of our teas and tea flavorings as possible, so that should TEOTWAWKI occur we will still be able to continue to enjoy tea in our homestead. These loose teas can be put into paper tea bags, which are very convenient, especially for travel or for gift giving, but I don’t have a local (or even a good USA-based) supplier for fine paper tea bags. I have tried tea balls, tea spoons, and many infusers. Most of the fine infusers are a plastic mesh, which eventually gets crushed and stained. The fine metal mesh tea balls get bent up. The solid tea spoons are often small and operate on springs so that it is difficult to get all of the tea inside where none will sneak out and the leaves can expand. Plus, I do not enjoy having floaties in my cup! Everything I’ve tried thus far has either seemed to work for awhile but not been very durable in my high use kitchen or has been unable to keep the floaties out, that is until I found the Teablee Stainless Steel Extra-Fine Tea Infuser. It is solid enough that it doesn’t get bent up in my tea utensil basket (or even in the dishwasher!), and it does not allow floaties to escape. It is the best of all worlds for the tea drinker. The teablee infuser is made by a family-owned company and their products are manufactured in the USA, too! This infuser comes in a nice gift-quality box and is priced at under $15 with free shipping for Amazon prime members!

For the Knife Enthusiast- The Rawles Voyager Tanto-style Knife by Cold Steel

This knife is almost always by my side and just can’t be beat. If you can find one, get it! We’ve given a few away as gifts to very special people, and each and every person who has received one has repeatedly thanked us for it and said they’ve never had a better knife. Several have said that they’ve downright tried to abuse the thing and it still is performing well. I don’t abuse mine; I respect it, because it is razor sharp and dangerous, especially for anyone who might try to harm me. It has been used many times for all kinds of purposes, from cutting rope to cutting flowers and vegetables out of the garden. I’ve even used it in my camp kitchen to slide tomatoes and such. I can slice some beautiful tomatoes with that sharp blade, even after using it on paracord! I have no doubt that if you can find one of these knives, your knife enthusiast will appreciate it, whether they are survival minded or not. Believe me, it is no sissy kind of a knife! Its blade is 5.5 inches in length. Pat Cascio provided a thorough review last year and provides all of the details about the Tri-Ad locking mechanism and excellent blade metal and handle material. Check it out!

For the Humanitarian and Friend of Israel- Items Made in Israel or Donation to Those Who’ve Lost Everything In Recent Terrorism Fires

You can make purchases from Israel or make a direct donation in support of families who have lost everything in the recent fires in Israel by going to the United with Israel website. The website says, “Israelis were in shock as blazing wildfires raged throughout the land. Caused in part by arson terror, the fires forced nearly 100,000 Israelis to evacuate their homes. Communities were destroyed. Lives ruined. Help fight incitement and provide relief to Israel’s neediest victims. The time to support Israel is is right now! Meuchadim Im Yisrael is an Israeli non-profit organization (Reg# 580549137). Online donations from the USA are tax-deductible, processed through Americans United with Israel (501c3, Tax ID# 45-2517014).

At this time of year, our gifts should be more from the heart than ever, and this is one way to do just that in honor of our Lord and His people! At SurvivalBlog, we support Israel! Of course, if there are people (especially the older widows and the orphans) in your own neighborhood and community in need, do not forget them either!

As you go about making your final purchases to spread some joy, I hope these suggestions will help you. God bless you. Until next week, keep prepping and pressing on.