Idle Hands: Ultimate gift ideas for the contemporary consumer

This weekend Idle Hands 2015 will takeover St. Anthony’s Hall just off of Preston. Each year, this craft show demonstrates why it stands out in a sea of maker shows, craft shows, markets, and the like. A carefully curated selection of vendors, this edition is not to be missed. Here our editors have selected the vendors they’re most excited about and some suggestions to get your gift giving juices flowing. Go check out the event this Sunday, November 29th, from 10am until 5pm and get a jump on the holidays.

Unik Printshop Mix & Match Magnet set


For anyone with a fridge, someone you don’t know that well, or that person who is impossible to shop for.

Assembly Home Goods, cosy raw silk goose down pillows


For trendy friends who take pride in their home.

The Sweetest Digs Cactus Print


For the cutesy, arty, plant lover.


Shirley Liu aka Bliue, laptop cover


For anyone in your life with a laptop. Period.

Wrap Me Up: An Ode to Winter Dressing

Words by Natasha Grodzinski

When I woke up two days ago, there was frost on my neighbour’s roof. I’ve tried to deny it, tried to ignore it, but there’s no way to escape it.
Winter is coming.

And when you experience winter in Ottawa, you know you’re in for four and a half months of snow piles and frozen fingertips.

Cold weather is an undisputed part of our national identity. Evan Esar famously said, “Canada’s climate is nine months winter and three months late in the fall.” When Europeans first came to Canada, one of their biggest challenges for settlement was surviving the winter.

But we’re built for winter, aren’t we? We’re Canadians. It’s supposed to be part of our constitution to withstand the howling and biting northern winds. I find even after hundreds of years of living here, we’re still not used to it. We wait for a heated bus with shaking anticipation. We run into warm coffee shops and stamp our boots inside to rid ourselves of the snow clinging to our feet.

We huddle close, and we huddle up.

Growing up in Canada, one of the first things I learned was how to dress for winter. My first snowsuit experiences were à la A Christmas Story. I was barely able to move. Halloween turned into a game of, “What costumes can we fit over this parka?” Getting ready to go tobogganing was an olympic sport all on its own.

If summer is about shedding layers, winter is about building a bunker. It’s about burrowing yourself into wool, leather, cotton; just about anything warm you can get your hands on. More often than not, I find myself wrapped in a plaid blanket, surveying my cold student house like a weathered king surveying his barren land.

I need a good coat. That is my ultimate goal every winter. Find the coat that will keep you alive without making you look like the Michelin Man. In the 4th grade, I did not succeed in the second venture. I had a silver, puffy coat. It kept me nice and toasty for a few months before it started to bleed feathers. My friends called it The Incredible Puff CoatTM .

For most of my childhood, I wore my sister’s hand-me-downs. She was older, and growing at a much faster rate than myself (or that was until high school, when I victoriously surpassed in height.) I wore the Northern Reflections parkas for kids, the OshKosh snow pants and hats knitted by my grandmother.

As I got older, I started to buy myself coats. I went to vintage stores, to independent stores, to chains, all in the search of finding an affordable poly-wool blend to keep me safe from the elements. I find I’ve favoured ones at least two sizes too big; perfect for fitting as many layers underneath them as I can. During my second year of university, I wore a men’s coat for the winter, one found after an hour of digging in Value Village. It had a hole in the lining and cost me $20. Every time I put it on I felt like Humphrey Bogart.

Scanned by Frederic. Reworked by Nick & jane for Dr. Macro's High Quality Movie Scans website: Enjoy!
Dr. Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans

Usually, the coats I buy are black. I’m unsure if it’s a colour preference, or if I’m obsessed with looking like a vampire. There I go, lumbering down Bank Street in the middle of a snow storm: black coat, white hair and pale face.



Every coat I’ve owned, I’ve loved. Even the puffy coat. They represent a timeline of my winters in Canada, and when I remember the coat, I remember events associated with it. That thick peacoat was the one I wore my first winter away from home. That parka was the one I brought to Sault Ste. Marie with me. In the process of keeping myself warm, I’ve created a lineage of outerwear.

And while I do not necessarily love winter (for me, it just lasts too damn long), I love my coats. This coming winter, I have a calf-length wool peacoat. Of course, it’s black. When I see frost again, I will be ready for it. Grudgingly so, maybe, but I’ll be ready.


Festibière brings two cities together for the love of Beer

This past weekend, Le Festibière d’hiver hosted some of Quebec’s best microbreweries and local talent for the fourth annual Winter Beerfest. Festibière joined together with the Museum of History and LaChapelle Fiat to bring the best Quebec microbrews around to help aid in warming both cities up from the inside out.

This was the first year they opened their doors to the local brewmasters at Beaus, who have worked diligently over the last eight years to release their beer as widely as possible. Being able to sell in La Belle Province is huge for the Vankleek company and they’re releasing their products into the Quebec market starting this month, with Festibière as their celebratory launch to that effect.

This is a big step for Festibière to include an Ontario brand. They have typically limited their microbrews to those based in Quebec, and with the addition of Beau’s they may be more willing to include other local Ontario microbreweries. In their initial press release, General Manager Michael O’Farrell was quoted as saying “More and more of our neighbours from Ontario are attending the Beerfest. It is therefore natural for us to offer a selection of their beers. We can’t ignore the great variety and quality of the products found right on the other side of the river!”

O’Farrell has a point- it doesn’t make sense to exclude Ontario brands. Ontario and Quebec are different provinces, but the amount that Ontarians and Quebecers frequent each other’s cities makes it even more laughable when festivals segregate their brands. I admire their commitment to celebrating brands that are specifically French, but just four years into Festibière they seem to have come to the conclusion that their focus should be on local microbreweries in a wider geographical sense, and not those brewed on one particular side of the border.


While they’ve included an Ontario microbrew brand, Festibière didn’t do many favours for their Ontario brethren in terms of travel to the Festival. The Festibière website lists The Museum of History as the location for the event, but OCTranspo does not recognize the address (100 Rue Laurier) as a destination, nor does it list the Museum of History as a landmark. The Museum of Civilization was renamed years ago in 2012, but neither transportation website has caught up to the change. If you Google The Museum of Civilization you will still be routed to The Museum of History, listed as Musée Canadien De L’Histoire in French. So, no one calls it the Musée de la Civilisation since it was renamed in 2012, only OCTranspo and STO when you’re trying to find it via their websites. You will have to know to type in ‘Musée de la Civilisation’ in order to be taken to the Museum of History on both, and Festibière does not make this confusion any easier by showing pre-planned routes or bus route numbers like The Museum of History does.

Festibière did do those in Gatineau a solid by connecting with STO for free service to and from the festival, saving those who would normally drive from having to make the choice between driving home and having more beer. This is very generous of the STO, but a further improvement would be putting the correct museum title to accompany the route information on their website on how to connect by bus when travelling from Ontario.

Festibière had made some additions to their programming as well as beer selection. They had local musicians for entertainment and a new self-serve beer station called the Randall was on hand for those with adventurous taste buds. They included hoppy blends and spiced versions of old favourites. There was even an amazing view of parliament next to a giant bonfire to keep people warm while the beer kicked in and Martin de Board, who is the Executive Chef for Distinction by Sodexo had his team at the event serving delectable gourmet appetizers to pair with the many microbrew selections. Both nights had Beer and Cheese pairing workshops hosted by the Festibiere president Mario D’Eer leading up to the Singer/Songwriter Bonfire event. People gathered around a giant bonfire to be entertained by local Singer/Songwriters as the Billy Love Band played through and were followed by O.S.N.

All in all, Festibière was a success. The festival organizers had taken feedback received from last years attendees to better the festival this year. You can hardly fault a festival that not only listens to its demographic, but improves itself based on their suggestions. Cups were bigger and filled properly, the site itself was better organized and everything to see remained open. I look forward to seeing next years beer selection, and more incredible food and entertainment!

Holy crap, it’s winter! feat. Drake General Store

Our local holiday buyers guide brought you a mixture of items made by local, national, and international brands—all made of quality materials, all made ethically, and all deserving to be featured here. These are items readily available within Ottawa and the surrounding region. We encourage you to support local businesses, makers, designers, and curators. HAPPY NEW YEAR! Stay warm, stay cosy!

Today we’ll be featuring six gifts available for purchase at the Drake General Store.
You can find them at the Rideau Street Hudson’s Bay or visit their website.

Arborist Onesie
These onesies come in their very own carrying pouches and are great for under your ski suit, staying at home, or even under your clothes when the hard winter weather hits.
Sizes fit up to +6′ height.

Mountie Toque
The Mountie print is limited edition and is an official licensed RCMP product available exclusively at Drake General Store. One size.

Cross Enamelware Oslo Stacking Bowls
These bowls keep freshness with a snap lid and are great for leftovers or lunches.

Also available: Copenhagen Side Dish $29, Helsinki Milk Pan $32, Stockholm Measuring Cup $29.

Double Old Fashioned Glass
Gold trim and beautiful illustration make this cocktail glass the coolest of its kind. Sold individually.

Homie Doormat
Just in time for the winter conditions, this doormat is a great gift for anyone who would rather keep the slush outside and give their guests a warm, quirky welcome.

Hangover Tea
Rough night? Sip on this wonderful pineapple scented tea blend of green mate tea with notes of mango, citrus peel + sunflower blossoms. 80g, contains caffeine-like stimulant mateine.

Holiday Buyers Guide: Boogie + Birdie

Our local holiday buyers guide brings you a mixture of items made by local, national, and international brands—all made of quality materials, all made ethically, and all deserving to be featured here. These are items readily available within Ottawa and the surrounding region. We encourage you to support local businesses, makers, designers, and curators. Avoid the big box stores this season, give gifts with meaning and uniqueness, and earn extra points for it, to boot!

Today we’ll be featuring six gifts available for purchase at Boogie + Birdie.
You can find them at 256 Elgin Street or visit their website.

Love My Local Cheeseboard
Bamboo cheeseboards carved in the shape of Canada and our ten provinces. They are all designed, produced, and finished in beautiful British Columbia.

Alpaca Blanket
Made in Ecuador, these incredibly soft blankets are available in an assortment of colours!

Past Ottawa Prints
Typographic neighbourhood prints from local artist Alexandre Laquerre are a unique way to admire your surroundings. These are an especially cool gift for someone who loves to support local & appreciates graphic design.

Dapper & Darling Earrings
Handcrafted here in Ottawa, these earrings bring some sparkle to your holiday season! Available in four assorted colours.

So Comfy Mittens
Handmade in Sarnia, Ontario, these fleece lined mittens are made of upcycled materials so they really are one-of-a-kind!

VersaTile Coasters
Turkish marble tile coasters designed and produced in Almonte, Ontario! Featured here are some of Ottawa’s most popular neighbourhoods.
$32 (set of four)