Tak­ing life in the slow lane

When choos­ing hol­i­day gifts this year, con­sider these for peo­ple look­ing to ease up on daily stresses

The Observer (Sarnia) - - LIFE -

The world is fast and fu­ri­ous. Why not slow it down for the hol­i­days?

Ways to achieve that lofty goal are plen­ti­ful. Some ideas on how to give the gift of slow liv­ing:

➊ The Art of Slow Grow­ing

For loved ones with a green thumb, and those who as­pire, set them up with seeds and ev­ery­thing else they need to get their hands in soil and plant. The shop Smart Seeds Em­po­rium on Etsy of­fers a way to grow a liv­ing sculp­ture, the Queen Vic­to­ria agave plant. With a spi­ral of deep green leaves, it grows slowly and can reach a foot tall and wide. Ma­ture plants, con­sid­ered hardy and drought tol­er­ant, can cost up to $1,000. For less than $7, gift 20 seeds. Queen Vic­to­rias can live for sev­eral decades and spike red­dish-pur­ple blooms. This Etsy seller of­fers a va­ri­ety of rare, ex­otic seeds from the around the world as well, but the queen seeds hail from the United States. Able to ship in­ter­na­tion­ally.

➋ Walk­ing sticks

For peo­ple who as­pire to walk more, ap­pre­ci­ate the woods, get out to the lo­cal park trails or get just an hour out­side to get the blood flow­ing, do it in style with a walk­ing stick or cane. In ad­di­tion to spe­cialty mak­ers and hik­ing stores, big­ger chains are in on the idea. Bed Bath & Be­yond car­ries walk­ing sticks in var­i­ous lengths and colours at many price points. A site called Fash­ion­able­canes. com is full of op­tions, in­clud­ing a hazel walk­ing stick hand­crafted in Ire­land. (Canes can be shipped in­ter­na­tion­ally, too.) An­tique canes and sticks are all over eBay if your gift re­cip­i­ent likes retro.

➌ The Slow Home Pod­cast

The pod­cast is hosted by the Aus­tralian Brook McAlary, a mother of two. She’s a 30-some­thing writer from the Blue Moun­tains near Syd­ney who suf­fered se­vere post­na­tal de­pres­sion in 2011. That’s when she de­cided to em­brace min­i­mal­ism and sim­plic­ity in her life. In ad­di­tion to the pod­cast, she has writ­ten two books: Slow: Sim­ple Liv­ing for a Fran­tic World (Source­books) and Des­ti­na­tion Sim­ple: Ev­ery­day Rit­u­als for a Slower Life (Head of Zeus).

➍ Defy the in­stant pot

The multi-use pres­sure cooker has been all the rage. Slow it on down with a sim­ple, sin­gle-func­tion slow cooker. Con­sider a stoneware in­sert, make sure the lid is tight fit­ting and look for easy, in­tu­itive con­trols. Also, it would be nice if the han­dles stayed cool. The idea is to make it easy but more im­por­tantly slow, pro­vid­ing the best aro­mather­apy of all: Eight hours of pot roast waft­ing through the house.

➎ My Calm Blan­ket

Do you know some­body who feels they’re fail­ing at sleep? The folks at MyCalmBlan­ket have bor­rowed a tool used to soothe anx­i­ety and other sleep dis­rupters — a weighted blan­ket. The cotton in­ner blan­ket uses glass beads to pro­vide mild pres­sure based on body weight. The blan­ket, which mea­sures 48 by 72 inches (1.2 by 1.8 me­tres), should weigh seven to 12 per cent of the sleeper. For a per­son who weighs 80 to 100 pounds (36 to 45 kilo­grams), for ex­am­ple, a 10-pound (4.5 kg) blan­ket would do. An outer du­vet, in a grey square quilted de­sign, is made of minky, a soft polyester velour. The cre­ators cau­tion that the blan­ket should not be used by any­one who likely would not be able to re­move it on their own. Buy­ing the right weight is key other­wise. It comes in four weights, from 10 to 25 pounds (4.5 to

11.3 kg). Search around be­cause many other weighted blan­kets are avail­able. This one, in­tended for use year-round by one per­son at a time, costs US$169.99 for the 10-, 15- and 20-pound (4.5-, 6.8- and 9.1-kg) ver­sions, and US$199.99 for the 25-pound (11.3-kg) blan­ket. For Cana­dian con­sumers, an al­ter­na­tive is hush­blan­kets. ca, which also of­fers weighted blan­kets, start­ing at about $189.

➏ Bud­dha boards and sand gar­dens

A to­ken gift or ac­tu­ally pretty

Zen? Your gift re­cip­i­ent may get a tickle out of one of these ei­ther way. Bud­dha Boards come in a range of styles and sizes now. They pro­vide a sur­face for cre­at­ing fleet­ing de­signs with wa­ter, a bam­boo brush, a bowl and a stand to catch drips in­cluded. Mini Zen sand gar­dens are a world onto them­selves, with lit­tle tools, bridges, rocks, trees and Bud­dha stat­ues avail­able. One com­pany, Zen Life, of­fers a set of eight sand stamps in flo­ral, spi­ral and poly­gon shapes. $43.55 on Ama­zon.ca.

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