Vintage-Inspired Gifts for the Homemaker

Vintage-inspired gifts for the homemaker on your list!

1. A Mini History Lesson:
Radical Dishtowels

ABOUT: “As a family, we’ve always been interested in the amazing stories of history’s radical thinkers and campaigners, and how much hope these stories can inspire relative to the politics of today. We didn’t have much business experience. But we realized that there must be other people with progressive values out there who wanted to give gifts that actually mean something, make you think, and give you hope. We all loved the idea that you might come across a design in someone’s kitchen, and that it would spark a conversation about an idea or philosophy. As a teacher, I imagined that children might see a design and ask, “Who was she?” Together we made the decision to start our very own Radical Tea Towel Company. We do all the designs ourselves, and get them manufactured in the UK with ethical partners.” Read the full story, here.

PRICE RANGE: $

SOCIAL IMPACT: Made ethically in the UK, the main impact is in the message on the towel. What a fun way to strike up a conversation about something important, even controversial.

WHAT WE LIKE: This is such a unique idea. I’ve seen some cool tea towels, but never anything like this. They cost a bit more than the average tea towel, but are still inexpensive enough I could justify buying it if I had a place to have it visibly hanging in my kitchen.

2. Placemats and Doormats Inspired by Vintage Tiles:
Hidraulik

Tusset Floor Mat.

ABOUT: “The first hydraulic tiles were produced in Barcelona in the mid nineteenth century.   The creativity and durability of these attractive yet functional handmade floors caught on quickly and their use spread across Europe and beyond.”

The brand is carried by Locus Vie, a distribution company for home decor products in North America.  They focus on small European design companies that are looking to make an entrance into the North American market, and you can find local retailers via their site.

PRICE RANGE: $$-$$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: The site says that they are “phthalate-free and recyclable, for an eco-friendly conscience”. While made in Spain, there are many local shops, usually small ones, that carry some of these designs.

WHAT WE LIKE: They have a vintage vibe but are super practical. They make great door mats or a runner for a high-traffic hallway, they are easy to clean and can cover up ugly rental flooring. They are a bit on the pricey side for the larger ones (I saved up and watched for sales for years before I finally got one), but a set of the placemats could make a lovely gift, and they work well inside or out!

3. Textiles Based on Traditional Indigenous Designs
Indigo Arrows

Copper and Black Moons Lumbar Pillow
This Copper and Black Moons Lumbar Pillow is currently sold out, but it’s my favourite and I had to share.

ABOUT: “For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples in Manitoba, including my Anishinaabe ancestors, created beautiful patterns to adorn their pottery collections and host of bone tools. Most of the surviving pieces are held by museums now, but I think the world needs more than exhibition- we need these patterns in our homes provoking thought; we need them bridging gaps; and, we need them inspiring our loved ones. The Indigo Arrows line picks up where my ancestors left off.

Destiny Seymour is an Anishinaabe interior designer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She graduated with her master’s degree in Interior Design from the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba. She worked at local architecture firm in Winnipeg for over 10 years as their interior designer before starting her own design business in 2016.

Destiny started designing artisan textiles for interiors that respectfully reflects local Manitoban Indigenous peoples and their history after struggling to find materials that she could incorporate into design projects. Her company, Indigo Arrows, now offers a range of table linens, pillows, and blankets that showcase patterns from local Indigenous pottery and bone tools that date from 400 to over 3000 years old. These patterns are picking up where her ancestors left off.

Destiny formed Woven Collaborative in 2018, an Indigenous led design studio with fellow designer Mamie Griffith. Their design practice takes a critical look at the representation of Indigenous cultures within spaces. Their design mission is to respectfully reflect local Indigenous cultures & identity within architectural forms, interior spaces, furniture, and textiles. Their design process acknowledges community engagement, inclusiveness, and collaboration when creating new works.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: These beautiful linens are handmade, individually hand-printed in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 100% linen using non-toxic ink. This Indigenous-run company is making something that is simultaneously modern and traditional: these designs look like something you’d find in a magazine today while many of them are actually thousands of years old. Destiny names them in her ancestral language, Anishinaabemowin, and the pieces have a little description of what the word means and its significance, so it’s a nice little learning moment as well.

WHAT WE LIKE: If I had seen these without the context I would have thought they were totally modern, but when I read the history I knew they were perfect for this post: vintage-inspired doesn’t have to mean “old looking”, and it doesn’t have to be a perfect reproduction of something either. It also made me realize that a lot of the modern “boho” things you see in chain stores have (whether intentionally or not) designs that were used historically in Indigenous art, and so why not support the maker who shares that history? Promote the use and creation of something that comes from generations of artisans rather than buy a knock-off mass produced in China? And honestly, while some fellow artists may not have the money for a $100 decorative pillow, I think we all know that given the work that goes into it, that’s a steal. A lot of these are less expensive than things you’d find at Crate & Barrel or West Elm, and you can shop guilt-free knowing you’re supporting the artist who made them, not some faceless corporation.

4. Retro Canadian Pillows:
Persnickety Designs

Each pillow features a bright, bold design on each side: it’s like 2 pillows in one!

ABOUT: Peggy McEwan is a Toronto-based artist with a background in classic animation. These pillows are what she calls “comfortable art”, and they come in a range of retro designs – Toronto landmarks, old movie stars, vintage maps – there’s something for everyone.

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: You’ll be supporting a local female artist!

WHAT WE LIKE: I’ve been eyeing several of these for years, but found they were usually a little out of my price range. However, that was when I came across them in stores – I just realized you can buy from her site at about half of what I’d always seen them for before, and I may have to redo all my cushions! I love pop art but you don’t find a lot of it locally made, so I’m happy to add these to my already massive pillow collection.

5. True Vintage Serving-ware
Ethel 20th Century Living

This mid century piece is a great way to hint, “invite me over more!”

ABOUT: “Ethel – 20th Century Living is a vintage furniture, lighting and accessories store in the East Danforth neighbourhood in Toronto.

After helping to establish “Retro Row” in Leslieville 20 years ago, Ethel was starting to show her age. After the store changed ownersip in October 2009, it conducted business in the original location for 3 more years, and in May 2012, Ethel moved to Corktown. In the fall of 2016, we decided to close our bricks and mortar location at 327 Queen St. East, and now, two years later, we have a new home at 1781 Danforth Ave.

Owner Shauntelle LeBlanc has re-established Ethel’s brand as a store for outstanding vintage modern furniture, lighting & accessories. The store’s focus is on affordable vintage because you should enjoy your furniture, feel free to put your feet up on it and certainly not feel like you’re living in a museum (or magazine spread…unless that’s your thing, and in that case, Ethel is cool with that too).

We’re a proud Canadian indie boutique, and along with classic American & Scandinavian design, you’ll also find Canadian Mid-century pieces here. Sure, we all love Eames, Nelson & Knoll, but have you heard of Russell Spanner, Lotte Lamps or Clairtone? 

Vintage is nearly always one of a kind so our merchandise is constantly changing. You might find a complete Brady Bunch kitchen in here, or maybe a film noir detective movie set, complete with tanker desks & typewriters. Ethel has a little bit everything, from gondola sofas and teak dining sets to oddball pieces like 80s Russian propaganda posters and vintage tiki mugs.

Along with 20th century furniture, lighting and accessories, we also carry new products by RetroVerte, Umlaut Brooklyn, and more.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: A local, female-run boutique selling vintage – sustainable in many ways.

WHAT WE LIKE: There are MANY vintage shops in the city (though sadly, not as many as there once were) and I have my favourites for various things. Ethel’s is where I go for mid century. You can rely on finding a lamp, vase, serving piece etc. from the 50s-60s there, likely in whatever colour you’re looking for. She often has a selection of small retro furniture as well, like card tables and chairs.

Have something you think should be on our list?
Let us know in the comments.

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Vintage-Inspired Gifts for the Makeup Lover

Vintage-inspired gifts for the makeup & beauty lover on your list!

1. Glamorous Faux Lashes:
Besame Cosmetics

Fashion photography's reluctant poster boy - BBC Culture
For years I wondered how I could accomplish this look without filling my eyes with melted wax.
Bésames Decades of Lashes: 1920s,30s,40s,50s & 60s styles

ABOUT: “Longing to bring back the simple glamour of her grandmother’s beauty routine, designer and cosmetics historian Gabriela Hernandez started Bésame Cosmetics.  Founded in 2004, Bésame Cosmetics has gained a cult following with our meticulously designed, historically inspired, and highly pigmented cosmetics that surpass expectations.  

Our simple yet luxurious formulations are made with pride and a labor of love for Gabriela, each one being 100% cruelty-free and created for sensitive skin. They do not contain gluten, parabens, or mineral oils. Owned and operated by Gabriela and her family, all products are produced locally in California with Gabriela overseeing every batch. All Bésame products are long-wearing, minimal waste, and packaged to be displayed proudly.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: While Bésame is based in the US, it is still a female-lead, family run business, and they create cruelty-free makeup in a range of shades meant to suit all skin colours. Buying from the US can get a little pricey, but luckily our very own Gigi’s House Of Frills carries some of their products, so be sure to check her out before ordering online. Then you can support local as well!

WHAT WE LIKE: Bésame has a wide range of vintage beauty products and all of them are great, but I chose to share these because they are unlike anything I have ever seen. It’s not hard to find a vintage shade of red lipstick, and a fair number of companies make a powder that can give you that Hollywood glamour look, but this is the only place I have seen faux eyelashes made to suit a decade, and when I saw the 1920s ones, my mouth dropped open. I’ve been wanting a way to emulate that style since my early teens.

2. Cosmetics Made With Authentic Vintage Recipes:
LBCC Historical

1936 Velour Setting Powder Matte Face Powder Vintage Face image 4
Face powder made from the exact 1936 recipe, this one is perfect for pale skin.

ABOUT: “Welcome to our shop. We specialize in researching and reproducing historical Apothecary & Cosmetics products. Our recipes are extracted from the historical archives and were used by our ancestors. We carry everything from historical hair care, to ancient salves that will heal even the worst wounds and sore muscles. Our ingredients are 100% top quality, natural, and almost always organic. If you have any questions or have a historical family recipe that you want replicated please feel free to inquire.

In my spare time ( which isn’t very often) I replicate Historical clothing for museums, forts, and interpreters. I specialize in custom orders and authentic recreations for your reenactment and museum needs. I have been replicating historical clothing and reenacting for 25 years. If you find a picture of a museum piece, please feel free to inquire if I am taking orders. I have pieces in many Museums and Forts across the US and world wide.”

PRICE RANGE: $

SOCIAL IMPACT: This small, female owned and operated business is preserving vintage and antique recipes, the products they make come in reusable or recyclable materials, and they are cruelty free and mostly organic.

WHAT WE LIKE: I’ve talked about this brand before as I have many good things to say about them. I love that they use the real historic recipes and the reproduction labels make for an adorable addition to a vanity table. At the moment all their face powders are for lighter skinned folks (I suspect those recipes are easier to find), but they are frequently adding new products, and their other categories do have a little something for everyone.

3. A Vintage Beauty Parlour Experience:
Vintage Mrs Ree’s Beauty Parlour

ABOUT: “Mrs Rees’ Vintage Beauty Parlour is a  Glamorous Old-Hollywood style salon for Ladies. This is a salon created around old ideals when women went to the Salon and men went to Barbershop… It’s a place to feel comfortable while receiving the highest quality services with the best products in world. It’s a time to relax and pamper yourself ~ it’s a place you can feel at home! Its a piece of luxury where YOU are the centre of my attention! You’ll go back in time in atmosphere but be pampered with all the latest techniques and products… it’s an experience you won’t forget and will want to share with all the girls you know!”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: Another woman-led business, they use natural, earth-friendly products.

WHAT WE LIKE: I had to go hunting for this place, so I don’t know much about it, but I’m glad it exists. There are several British stylists I follow online and wish I could see to do my hair, but for some reason the same is very hard to find in Canada. This is a bit of a stretch on a list about makeup, I know, but I think this could be a whole “night out” experience with a friend: do each other’s makeup, go get your hair done, special memories for sure.

4. Vintage Beauty Supplies:
Makeup Compacts

1960s Revlon compact  vintage midcentury face powder compact image 1
This one is from CinnamonGirlStuff on Etsy, but vintage compacts can be found al over.

ABOUT: A vintage compact is a lovely gift because you have such a variety to choose from. You can look on Etsy or eBay, or stop in just about any vintage shop and find one to your liking. Prices and styles range so you’re sure to find something for your someone.

PRICE RANGE: $-$$$ (there are highly collectible ones out there that can cost a pretty penny, but I would plan on spending between $20-$60 for a nice one for the average person).

SOCIAL IMPACT: Go green by shopping vintage! And if you can, support a local business.

WHAT WE LIKE: If you carry a purse, you can use a compact. And if you change your purse with your outfits, you can probably use several. They can also sit and look lovely on a nightstand or vanity, and while these are traditionally an item for women, there’s no fitting or anything that needs to be considered, so really this can be a gift for anyone!

5. Reusable Makeup Removers:
Handmade by AVO

Black Flower Reusable Organic Cotton Rounds Organic Facial image 1
I chose these for the pretty vintage floral pattern, but you can get these many places or make them yourself!

ABOUT: These small, washable pads are made to replace one-use cotton pads that are very non-eco-friendly. You can find them many places, often with pretty patterns like these, or even make them yourself.

PRICE RANGE: $

SOCIAL IMPACT: They keep cotton pads out of the landfill, and require so little fabric you can make them with scraps, helping to cut down on textile waste as well.

WHAT WE LIKE: I actually prefer these to cotton pads because they don’t tear up and leave bits of fluff on your eyelashes. When I first saw them my only concern was how often I’d need to clean them, but honestly they’re usually so cheap I would get a weeks worth, change daily, and toss them in with whatever laundry you have at the end of the week. I’ve been meaning to make some with some of my vintage scraps – I’ll post them when I do!

Have something else you think should be on our list?
Let us know in the comments.

Vintage-Inspired Gifts for the Fashion Lover

Vintage-inspired gifts for the fashion lover on your list.

1. Vintage With An Indigenous Twist:
Resist Clothing Co.

Shirts and sweaters in a variety of colours feature this vintage postcard inspired look.

ABOUT: “RESIST Clothing company (formerly Our Feather Clothing Co.) started in 2020. It was created by Mitch Gegwetch (Ojibwe/Anishinaabe and a member of Sagamok First Nation). 

RESIST is a premium streetwear brand. We never cheap out on our inventory. We promise, our products are worth every penny, if you disagree, we offer a 30-day money back guarantee, no questions asked. “

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: “We are native owned and operated. Our company is certified by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. A certification only obtained by proof of the company owner’s status. View CCAB listing here.

Our mission is to build an authentic Native clothing brand that amplifies the presence and voices of Indigenous people. 

We do this by creating unique designs on high quality garments that grab your attention and provoke thought or reflection. 

We also stay true to our native roots and operate the brand ‘in a good way’ by sharing our profit with Indigenous charities that protect and uplift our Indigenous Communities.”

WHAT WE LIKE: This streetwear brand features designs by Native artists with a focus on community and sustainability. Plus, they follow a unique “quadruple bottom line approach” that places importance on more than just profit. Bonus, the prices are really good.

2. Loungewear and Lingerie:
Gigi’s House of Frills:

Golden Apricot "Hi-Craft" Cold Rayon Slip Size 40 XL #147
Gigi’s offers both true vintage (like this) and beautiful vintage-inspired and reproduction pieces.

ABOUT: “Gigi’s House of Frills is a dream realized for owner…Gigi!

After many moons of dreaming of a shop full of all of the vintage inspired brands and one of a kind true vintage lingerie pieces, Gigi decided to make it reality!

Our little brick and mortar boutique is located in Gigi’s hometown: Toronto. That’s Ontario, Canada for those of you not familiar!

Gigi’s little shop of frills has been operating since November 6th 2015, and there’s no greater joy than bringing you the latest in retro and pinup lingerie, cosmetics and hosiery alongside all of the wonderful vintage treasures we find just for you!

We strive to offer you superb customer service and aim to make lasting relationships with our lovely clients!

Come see everything Gigi’s has to offer, including local designers such as With Love Lingerie and Inspiration Vintage, world renown vintage cosmetics brand, Besame cosmetics and much, much more true vintage lingerie and hosiery!

You can visit Gigi’s in Toronto at 731 Dovercourt Road, just south of Bloor Street West.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: Lingerie is lovely, but a lot of the things you pick up at LaSenza or Victoria’s Secret are cheaply made and not built to last. Plus, they tend to come in a very limiting number of sizes. Gigi’s carries local brands like Inspiration Vintage as well as big ones like Dita Von Teese that are well-made and unique. She also carries authentic vintage, and you know how much we like to reuse!

WHAT WE LIKE: We love Gigi’s. She was one of our sponsors for The Rear Window and did a phenomenal job helping us find the perfect under things for a true vintage look. This small local shop is female run by one of the nicest and most open-minded women you’re likely to ever meet, so don’t be afraid to go in and ask for help picking out a perfect little something – she has products for people of all shapes and sizes AND has a handy sizing chart on her website if you want to make sure there’s something for you before you go.

3. True Vintage Clothing:
Victory Girl Vintage

1940s Printed Rayon Long Sleeve Dress Size Medium image 1

ABOUT: Curated vintage clothing from the 1910s-70s. You can shop online through her Etsy shop, or visit her in-store at 29 Kensington Ave., Toronto.

PRICE RANGE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: This female-run local small business sells beautiful vintage clothing and accessories – hurray for sustainable clothing!

WHAT WE LIKE: Everything she carries is beautiful. Seriously. I’ve been in dozens upon dozens of vintage shops and there’s always something that you go, eh, kinda ugly, but not here. This woman has amazing taste, and while her prices are a little higher than some vintage stores in the city, they are fairly priced: everything is in great shape and very wearable.

4. Vintage Fashion Mags:
Gaddabout Vintage

ABOUT: “One of the best curated stores in Toronto. Gadabout is the old curiosity shop only better! It’s filled with items from the late 1800s through the late 1970s. Curios, nostalgia, ephemera – oodles of paper, incredible vintage posters, tons of fabulous vintage clothing and accessories for men and women. Amazing textiles. It is a well-known haunt for wardrobe, prop and set decorators for film and theatre production. Gadabout does not carry furniture. If it’s small, cool, enigmatic, it’s probably in the store. The store contains a myriad of drawers all labeled and organized with items ranging from spats and opera glasses to slide rulers and office supplies. There’s even a whole area of vintage housewares.”

PRICE RANGE: $-$$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: Gadabout is another female-run store and it carries a bit of everything. Here you can get the kinds of vintage ephemera that so often are tossed in the trash, but that really are treasures. They rent items, so if you’re doing a show or a film you can check them out for props.

WHAT WE LIKE: This place has everything. Really, I mean it. If you’re a fan of “smalls” like I am, expect to spend several hours rooting through the dozens of drawers and boxes filled with papers, pins, pens – you name it. The clothing prices are a little higher than where I tend to shop when I’m dressing a show, but this is where I go when I need something good and fast: I can always leave with the thing I need.

5. An Exploration of Vintage Fashion:
The Fashion History Museum

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From the Portraits of Mali exhibit.

ABOUT: “When Toronto fashion collector Alan Suddon unexpectedly died in 2000, the 10,000 piece collection he had amassed over forty-years, and that featured important nineteenth-century Canadian clothing and twentieth-century French couture, was purchased privately with a promise that it would someday go to an institution. However, much of the collection was sold off or destroyed via poor storage conditions over the next 15 years. The best surviving pieces were eventually auctioned off internationally with a small remainder selectively donated to Canadian museums, of which the Fashion History Museum received about 200 pieces. The collection that should have been Suddon’s legacy and a museum’s prize collection had been damaged, dismantled and all but forgotten.” The Fashion History Museum has a long and detailed history which you can read in full on their website.

PRICE RANGE: $

SOCIAL IMPACT: As with any museum, the FHM preserves our history and makes it available to the public.

Their mandate is: “The Fashion History Museum connects the history of fashion with the world that created it. What we wear is a subconscious human expression, guided by habit and need, that reflects aesthetics, culture, identity, politics, economics, and technology. The museum collects, preserves, researches, and exhibits historical garments and accessories that illustrate these connections to better understand our past, present, and future.”

WHAT WE LIKE: The beautiful outfits, unique exhibits and wide-range of clothes from different times and cultures.

Bonus Listing Kingpin Hideaway

Unfortunately his shop had to close due to COVID, but Jonathan “Kingpin” Hagey still has a whole host of gorgeous menswear and accessories, you just need to book an appointment to see it. His selection of high-end suits, shoes and accessories cannot be beat, and this man knows everything there is to know about vintage menswear (and about a lot of other fun vintage things too). It can be hard to buy something like a suit as a gift (at least if you’re trying to keep it a surprise), but he has ties, cufflinks and other little accessories that would make excellent presents, or, for a truly special gift, you can hire him as a personal stylist. If you have a gentleman friend who loves vintage fashion but doesn’t know how to dress himself, bring him to Jonathan. He will pick out something that suits your body, style, and pocketbook, all while giving you the history of the piece and all the new things he’s picked up at auction. Be sure to follow him on Instagram – I for one eagerly await the return of his Hideaway.

Have something you think should be added to our list?
Let us know in the comments.

Vintage Inspired Gifts for the Foodie

Vintage-inspired gifts for the foodie in your life!

1. Vintage Sodas & Sweets:
Nostalgia & Co.

Some of the retro sodas available at Nostalgia and Co. His stock varies, so call ahead if you’re looking for something specific.

ABOUT: This Cambridge, Ontario shop is packed full of reproduction and retro inspired products. From 1950s diner booths to Elvis clocks, gag gifts, t-shirts – you name it. But what brings me out there every time I’m headed to KW is the wide selection of vintage sodas and candies. It’s near impossible to find this stuff in Canada, and the shipping and duties make bringing it in from the US costly, but Nostalgia & Co. has classics like Moxie, Frostie, Brownie and more right there in their cooler. Plus, they’ve got a wide selection of vintage candies. So, shopping for someone with a sweet tooth? Why not make a gift basket? Or fill that stocking up with something sweet?

PRICE RANGE: $ (for drinks and snacks) $-$$$ (other items)

SOCIAL IMPACT: This place has been around a long time, which is difficult to do when you sell novelties like this. I got my first ever record player from them for my 16th birthday (before vinyl became popular again and it was easy to find a new turntable, back then it was the only place we could find one that didn’t cost $500+), and I visit there whenever I’m in the area. They really know their product, and I’m always in favour of supporting local specialty stores.

WHAT WE LIKE: That they have such a wide range of “new vintage”. Being able to try a pop that was popular when my grandparents were the age I am now is something I really enjoy, and there’s no where else you can get this variety without going to the US.

2. Recipes from First Peoples and Settlers:
Out of Old Ontario Kitchens

49th Shelf is a website for Canadian literature that links to places to buy the work, including small, local shops.

ABOUT: “Out of Old Ontario Kitchens is a window into the past, exploring the stories of the First Peoples and settlers. It pays homage to all those who trapped and fished and hunted; to those who cleared the land and planted crops; and most importantly to all those women — our mothers and aunts, our grandmothers and great-grandmothers and great-great grandmothers — who got up and lit the fire; who toiled and stirred and cooked and baked and who kept families alive through long hard winters, through plagues and depressions, famines and wars. Work every bit as important as agriculture, commerce, mining, politics, and the development of infrastructure.

With over a hundred historically sourced recipes as well as scores of old photographs, early artworks, botanical prints, and illustrations, Out of Old Ontario Kitchens is both a visual and virtual feast. If you want to know what life was really like in early Ontario, come to the table with us. Food stories are, after all, the real stories of our lives.” Get a copy for a special someone and encourage them to add to their own list of family recipes.

PRICE RANGE: $

SOCIAL IMPACT: Lindy Mechefske is a Kingston-based writer and food columnist for Canada’s oldest newspaper, the Kingston-Whig Standard. You can support a female Canadian author, learn more about our history (from a range of backgrounds), and if you find a local shop using 49th Shelf, support a local business as well!

WHAT WE LIKE: Admittedly, I haven’t read this yet, but the reviews look great and I like the concept – I’ll update after we get a copy!

3. A 50s Diner Experience:
Fran’s

Fran's menu from 1950
A 1940s menu from their early days.

ABOUT: “It all began in 1918 when Francis Deck and his brother opened Deco refreshments in Buffalo New York. Deco quickly grew to more than 50 locations when Francis decided it was time to expand. In 1940, Francis “Fran” Deck, along with his wife Ellen Jane move to Toronto and open a modest 10-seat diner at Yonge and St. Clair.” – check out their history page for the full story. A date to Fran’s is fun and affordable, and great to pair with something like an old movie at the Revue.

PRICE RANGE: $

SOCIAL IMPACT: While Fran’s now has several locations, each one still really feels like a ‘mom & pop shoppe’. They serve big portions for low prices which I know is especially appreciated by the college and university students that frequent the diner all times of the day and night. Still family owned and operated, they have a long history in the city that I think was well-earned, and that we should help continue.

WHAT WE LIKE: Their “Big Breakfast” and their milkshakes. The fact that you can easily split a meal and still have plenty of food. The big, comfy booths and the fact that you can get a milkshake at 2am.

4. A Cute Retro Apron:
Black Market Vintage

ABOUT: Does your foodie like to cook? Keep them clean with a fun vintage apron. The one here is from Black Market but you can find them at most vintage shops (check Kensington Market or along Queen St.) as well as on Etsy. There’s tons of styles and colours to choose from so with a little looking you’re sure to find something that suits your someone.

PRICE: $-? (there is a huge range of prices when it comes to vintage, and of course period, style, quality and a whole host of other things affect pricing. IMHO? Don’t spend more than $40 on an apron, and that’s for one that is mint and stylish. Everyone used to have them, they aren’t hard to find, and if I were looking for myself I’d be checking the $20-30 range).

SOCIAL IMPACT: Reusing old textiles is always important, and aprons are great because they can be used until they are literally falling apart (at which point they make great rags!). Buy from a local vintage shop, ideally one you can walk or bus to, and you’ve got a green gift.

WHAT WE LIKE: Housewives of the 50s and 60s didn’t just wear aprons to keep clean, they had fancy lace ones for when guests arrived. Yes, we can analyze the sexist undertones of that, but personally, putting on a cute apron makes me more likely to clean, and anything that does that is good in my books. Plus, aprons are good for people young and old, any gender – easy gift for someone you know likes to cook, but that you know nothing else about. Hello secret Santa!

5. A Retro Inspired Slowcooker:
Swan

Retro Series Range Slow Cooker SF17021BN, BLUE, hi-res image number NaN
Swan makes a bunch of retro looking appliance, similar to SMEG, but MUCH cheaper.

ABOUT: Swan makes high-end cookware at affordable prices in a range of retro colours and styles. The benefit of a crockpot is you can dump in the ingredients in the morning and come home to a hot cooked meal.

PRICE: $-$$

SOCIAL IMPACT: Not much to new appliances or shopping at the Bay, but if a crockpot helps you eat out less it’s good for you, the environment, and your pocket book.

WHAT WE LIKE: It’s cute and practical. Some appliances I would happily buy used, but old crockpots and toasters I would avoid. Today’s power-cords are safer and the appliances use less energy.

Got something you think should be on our list?
Let us know in the comments.