This site is an archive of For the latest information about Susy and her adventrures, visit the Cultivate Simple site.
Thank you for all your support over the years!

Uncommon Gifts

January 20th, 2012

Mr Chiots and I have been working on simplifying our lives, which means we try not to buy things we don’t need. This presents a problem when it comes to buying gifts for each other. As a result, our gifts are usually things we’re buying anyways or things we need for our business. For example, I got a new camera lens for Christmas. We’d been debating on buying it, and it’s for our business more than it’s for me personally. I also got a few pairs of wool socks, that was it, simple and useful. Both items I needed and would have purchased eventually. Mr Chiots received some glass straws and Klean Kanteen Steel Pint Glasses from me.

You may be wondering why these particular gifts were chosen. Mr Chiots is a HUGE fan of chocolate milkshakes from Hartzler’s Dairy in Wooster, OH. Every time we’re driving by he pulls into the parking lot and asks “you said you needed butter right”. When I say “No”. He says, “Oh well, since we’re already stopped I may as well get a milkshake!” The only downside to their milkshakes is the straws, they are too small, filmsy and collapse when using them.

When I saw these glass straws on, I knew he’d love them, nothing flimsy about these. Stainless steel pints were added and now he can get a milkshake whenever he wants without worrying about the styrofoam cups or plastic straws. We have already managed to reduce the amount of garbage we produce to one small kitchen bag every two weeks, and now without the countless milkshake glasses it will be even less!

We haven’t used the cups yet as they just arrived Wed, but the straws are a big hit – Mr Chiots loves them. Although, he said because they don’t collapse he drinks his milkshake faster and says he’s going to have to start ordering bigger ones!

I’m thinking these stainless steel glasses might get a little cold when filled with a milkshake, so a felted wool or cork koozie might be in order to complete the gift.

What’s the most perfect gift you’ve ever received?

26 Comments to “Uncommon Gifts”
  1. kristin @ going country on January 20, 2012 at 6:52 am

    This Christmas/birthday season, it’s a tie between the kid carrier pack my mom sent so A. could hike around with Cubby (and often leave me behind–thank you, mother, for the hour of alone time occasionally) and the SodaStream machine so I can make seltzer instead of buying it. Also from my mom.

    My mom straight-up asks us exactly what we want and then buys it, no matter how practical and boring (see: the Tingley boots she gave A. and I for Christmas last year). Which is why she gets the best gifts.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  2. Stone Soup on January 20, 2012 at 7:35 am

    A long time ago, when I was teaching First grade in a private school a student came into the classroom with a brown paper shopping bag with a stuck on bow half falling off. The bag was crumpled a little torn and worse for the wear, but inside were the most delicious, ripe and juicy honeybells that I had ever eaten! I had not been introduced to honeybells before, was I in for a treat! My student had picked them at his grandparents house in florida and brought them back to me. It was the sweetest gift ever, literally and I have been ordering them every year since!

    Reply to Stone Soup's comment

    • DeeDee on January 20, 2012 at 8:56 am

      Honeybells are my favorite!!!!!!

      Reply to DeeDee's comment

  3. Joan on January 20, 2012 at 8:13 am

    When I was a kid I was crazy about horses (still am!). For Christmas when I was 14, my parents gave me a horse. No present will ever match that!

    Reply to Joan's comment

    • Susy on January 20, 2012 at 8:29 am

      That’s quite a gift – we have a niece that’s crazy about horses too!

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • cherise on January 21, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      Joan-that is so cool! For my 10th Christmas I got a horse too! I had been asking for one since I was 5. You’re so right that nothing will ever match that Christmas gift. I’ve had horses ever since (35 years!), even if some years they have been technically someone else’s. My sister and I joke that it’s a gene that you’re born with. You’ve either got it or you don’t.

      Reply to cherise's comment

  4. daisy on January 20, 2012 at 9:31 am

    I love the practical nature of your gift-giving.
    What a blessing being able to drink milkshakes!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  5. Greg on January 20, 2012 at 10:15 am

    These look pretty cool! Fun gift idea.
    My favorite line was definitely, “countless milkshake glasses”… ha! Countless? In two weeks??? Nice work, Brian! :)

    Reply to Greg's comment

  6. DebbieB on January 20, 2012 at 10:52 am

    The most wonderful gift I’ve ever received was an electric bedwarmer. It’s like a heating pad, but designed to be used for hours, and has a variable setting. I suffer from poor circulation in my extremities, and if my feet are cold, I’m unable to sleep. My thoughtful (and cold-loving) husband gave me the blanket hesitantly, thinking I’d sneer at such a “practical” gift. On the contrary, I was thrilled that he’d carefully selected something that would make me so comfortable. It’s designed to go UNDER the fitted sheet, at the foot of the bed. He remembers to put it on every night, an hour before we go to bed. No matter what the temperature of the house (we like to keep it cool), the foot of my side of the bed is always toasty when I slip my feet under the covers. He’s a keeper!

    Those glass straws are so cool – I’m wondering how easily they’d shatter, though, with normal use. My guy loves using a straw in his soft drinks, but is a little ham-handed. :)

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

    • Susy on January 20, 2012 at 11:16 am

      They seem very strong and not fragile at all. I think the fact that they’re round and fairly thick makes them strong. I suppose if you dropped it on a cement floor it might break, but the borosilicate glass, glass will withstand a lot (it’s what all those vintage Pyrex are made out of).

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Dusty on January 20, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Love the gift giving ideas.. but I’m more interested in how you all manage to only generate one small bag of garbage every two weeks?? I think that is just amazing! My best efforts so far generate one big bag every four days (three people), and we recycle. I’m going to have to pay more attention, see if I can reduce that!

    Reply to Dusty's comment

  8. Susy on January 20, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I have a lot of people ask about that as I’ve mentioned it before. I should do an article showing everything that goes into our garbage can during the week.

    We don’t produce much trash because we don’t really buy much, our food comes from the garden, our freezer, or the farmer’s market – no cans, bags, bottles or boxes.

    If we could somehow figure out how to get our meat in glass containers we’d be able to get down to one bag a month I think, as meat packaging from the freezer is what produces the most garbage for us. I could also reduce this quite a bit if I could get companies to quit sending me mailings with those annoying plastic window envelopes as I have to rip out the plastic window and throw it in the garbage. We get a few of these each day.

    We also recycle, so we have a few small bins of recycling each month, mostly paper from junk mail that we get and paper from our business.

    Reply to Susy's comment

    • Dusty on January 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      Thanks for the information!

      Maybe by the end of this summer our waste will be greatly reduced as I plan on canning everything. Also will be raising more of my own meat so that will help as well.

      I use paper (including junk mail) and cardboard in the garden or compost it.

      Reply to Dusty's comment

  9. Grannie M on January 20, 2012 at 11:38 am

    The best gift I ever received was from my husband for Christmas several years ago. He gave me a garden fork. I didn’t even know I wanted one, but have loved it since the day I got it. It’s my true work horse.

    Reply to Grannie M's comment

  10. Justin on January 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    My grandmother had a set of aluminum cups when I was little. I think they were some sort of promo item that she bought with something in them (similar to old jelly jars). What I remember is that they were such a great conductor that they held all drinks (even water) really really cold. On the down-side, they sweated on the outside something fierce and made the water taste slightly metallic.

    Wonder how your stainless steel ones will compare. They sound neat!

    Reply to Justin's comment

  11. itchbay on January 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    That’s such a great gift — practical and personal!

    We’re also non-garbage-makers. We have the smallest bin they offer, and we only put it out every couple of weeks. That’s what comes from eating from the garden, composting, and making smart decisions like bringing your own cups to get milkshakes!

    Reply to itchbay's comment

  12. Domestic Executive on January 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I really admire your low levels of waste. We recycle, compost and feed scraps to the chickens but there is still always a plethora of packaging that ends up in the bin. Look forward to your article as this might prompt some rethinking.

    Reply to Domestic Executive's comment

  13. tj on January 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    …Oh the best gift I ever received is a hand held garden tool with three tines on one end and a pickaxe type head on the other end with a hammer like handle. I got it for Mother’s Day long ago from my stepson and my husband. I love that thing. Other than that we really don’t do the gift exchange thing, we usually just buy something we’ve both been wanting for the house or whatever. :o)

    …Love the glass straws altho’ I’d be wondering about germs and whatnot hanging out inside ’em. Do you think a simple rinse takes care of all of that or do you have another method for cleaning ’em? Very neat tho’.

    …Cute how Mr. Chiots finagles his way into getting a shake. Just like a kid. :o)

    …Enjoy your weekend!

    …Blessings :o)

    Reply to tj's comment

    • tj on January 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      …Oh, and btw, thank you for introducing me to my dream home via Pinterest. I fell in love with it and can’t stop thinking about it. My husband is already giving me that “shut up already about the farm in Vermont” look. lol… ;o)

      …Anyway, you & I have the same tastes in homes. I couldn’t believe it when I saw all the ones you chose – love them! :o)

      Reply to tj's comment

      • Susy on January 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm

        As far as germs go – you won’t find me fretting about germs. As long as you’re eating a healthy diet your body can handle any germs. Germs also prefer a moist environment so I’m not too worried about them on the straws. We give them a scrub after each use with a pipe cleaner and back into the glovebox of the car they go for the next milkshake.

        Too funny that you’re falling in love with all the houses I’m pinning. I’ve been looking at them over and over trying to decide which ones we want to walk through when we head out there in a few weeks. We really want a old house that needs some love.

        to Susy's comment

  14. Joshua on January 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    We got tired of the waste of disposable straws about a year ago and bought some glass straws. They’re great! They came with a narrow brush that could be used to clean them.

    Reply to Joshua's comment

  15. KimH on January 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Hmn.. thats hard to say to be honest.. I’ve been very blessed & gifted with some really neat gifts in the last 13.5 years.

    One year when I was about 5 years old I wanted a set of nesting plastic pink & yellow flower power luggage and I got it for Christmas.. I was a happy little girl. ;)

    My honey is a wonderful gift giver.. after spending most of my life with non-gift givers, its rather shocking sometimes… Not that my family didnt gift each other.. we did thru the year, whenever.. but birthdays & Christmas were not about gifts..

    I think the most touching my heart gift he gave me was a Craftsman rear-tined tiller for Mothers Day about 10 years ago.

    I lived in Texas and was planning on moving up here and because there was no place to have a garden here and no room to store it, I had to sell it. I loved that tiller. My grandmother gave me the money to buy it and it was my most prized possession besides her mothers sewing machine & her great grandfathers mustache mug.. so it killed me to sell it.. but I sold it to my next door neighbor & good friend who told me I could come visit it whenever I wanted to.. haha. I cried for a week I must have told m’honey about it then.. We never mentioned it again to my knowledge.

    A couple years after moving here, I found out there was a community garden and I signed up for one, cuz I really needed that garden.. and on Mothers Day that year, he came pulling in the driveway and with eyes shining & like a kid in a candy store, he says to me, “Come see what I got you for Mothers Day!” I did & there was that gorgeous thing.. I just started bawling.. haha.. So so silly.. but so so sweet to me.. ♥

    My other most favorite was he gave me a Canon 20D DSLR for Christmas right after they came out.. I couldnt believe it. Shocked me to my tippy toes. ;) I still use it today.. no need to upgrade, since it does everything I need it to. :)

    M’honey is a sweetheart & a great gift giver! ♥♥

    Reply to KimH's comment

    • Susy on January 20, 2012 at 6:27 pm

      Very sweet! The 20D is a great little camera, I loved mine – just got rid of it as we were looking to upgrade to one that did video for the Ethel videos.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  16. Corner Garden Sue on January 20, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Those are cool gifts. We have cups we use when we go out for coffee.

    My Larry pretty much buys whatever he wants, throughout the year, so whatever his last big purchase was, is his Christmas gift. In this case, it was a new motorcycle and lots of accessories for it. He was content with that. He bought me a book on native plants, which was cool, because he knows I am learning as much as I can about them, and finding homes for as many as I can, mostly in the front yard. I had told him not to get me anything, because I am making extra payments on the loan we took out to remodel our kitchen almost 2 years ago. I am determined to be debt free in the next year.

    Reply to Corner Garden Sue's comment

  17. Texan on January 21, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    We drink from stainless steel or glass as well. No plastic. I have never seen the glass straws, they are neat.

    Reply to Texan's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

Read previous post:
Make it Green Please

My mom's always had amaryllises blooming around Christmas ever since I can remember. It was no different this year, she...