What Does “Gourmet” Mean?

The word “gourmet” is thrown around a lot these days. It is used to describe food, coffee, restaurants, cookware, and even pet food. The funny thing is that “gourmet” is not technically an adjective: it is a noun! By definition, a gourmet is a person with a sensitive and discriminating palate, and who is knowledgeable in the appreciation of haute cuisine. A gourmand is someone who simply enjoys foods in large quantities while an epicure is similar to a gourmet in refinement, but tends to indulge to the point of excess. Recently the term foodie has been introduced into our vernacular, and it is intended to be a conversational synonym for gourmet. The word “gourmet” has French roots and originally meant “a wine merchant’s assistant,” implying that such a person would have a refined palate for delicious things that were not eaten primarily for nourishment. For much of history, however, the word has carried a negative connotation, especially one of a gluttonous nature. Even in present day discussions, some camps feel that “gourmet” is a haughty, expensive enterprise while others use the word to indicate fine foods of high quality and excellent preparation. So what does this all mean? Obviously we use the word “gourmet” frequently when describing our different foods and gift baskets. I tend to use it when wanting to convey quality of ingredients, refinement in taste, and distinction in appearance and preparation. “Gourmet” is simply one of those words that is undergoing its own evolution in our language and whose usage is still largely a matter of personal...

Top 10 Silly Holidays

There are numerous holidays that aren’t necessarily big gifting holidays. Sometimes these holidays are so silly, the thought of having the day as a holiday is a gift in itself. So to help spread the holiday cheer and perhaps my juvenile enjoyment of the obscure, here is a list of my top 10 favorite odd holidays: January 14th – Clean Off Your Desk Day. I use this holiday as an excuse not to have to clean off my desk the remaining 364 days of the year. January 27th – Chocolate Day. I admit that this holiday should never be classified as “silly.” To the contrary, I cannot be serious enough about chocolate. This is a day to indulge! February 20th – Love Your Pet Day. This holiday is like Christmas for my dog. She gets treats all the time, but she gets showered with gifts on this fun holiday. March 1st – Share a Smile Day. I typically smile quite a bit, but I think people thought I was flirting with them at the grocery store this year. I might have to re-think my strategy for celebrating this holiday. June 16th – National Fudge Day. Again, serious business. Need I say more? July 27th – Parent’s Day. My son thinks this holiday is unfair since we also have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I say, it’s a perfect day for presents so bring it on! August 5th – Sister’s Day. I don’t think this holiday is silly. I’m just using it to give a shout out to my two sisters, Cheryl and Shannon. Hayyy girls! September 28th – Good...

All Hands on Deck

Working at GiftTree means you are a team player. During the holidays especially, all departments jump in where needed. The owners are taking customer calls, and the IT department is making gift baskets. It truly is a time for camaraderie and holiday spirit. I was able to spend a Saturday in December working in our warehouse putting together The City Block Snack Tower. I folded the boxes, put the snack items in the corresponding box, tied the bow (only briefly), and got it ready for shipping. I was able to spend time with co-workers that I don’t get to see often. In fact, I got to know our accountant Liz better because she was there helping as well. I am not used to standing all day, so my back kind of hurt after 8 hours, but all in all it gave me an appreciation for our production team. They work hard at making sure each basket leaves our warehouse looking perfect. There are no machines or robots doing the work. It’s all done by hand by people that really care about our customers and how well the gift is received. I did learn that you have to have a unique gift to tie bows…which is probably why I was not put on bow...

Adolescent Dog Desires to Learn New Tricks

Okay, let’s be honest, the only things my dog really desires are tennis balls and never ending fields to chase them in. My dog defines his breed better than any other retriever I’ve ever met! He eats, sleeps and breathes retrieving; he literally moves his legs like he’s running when he’s asleep! So, I don’t think he’s really interested in learning any new tricks but I would love it. My dog has a great personality, good temperament, he’s mellow (unless there’s a tennis ball around) and he’s pretty well trained in most areas and there’s the hitch. I can’t walk my dog on a leash. This of course is my own fault for not investing the time to train him. He would rather eat the leash than be led around by it and I would rather have him running free by my side than be restraining him on a leash. Normally this works out well for us. We live on a quiet dead end street with a cul de sac. Outings for us consist of open fields, mountain tops and wooded groves. He’s not a city dog by any means. The problem is, I’m moving to the city. All be it the very small “city” of downtown Vancouver, Wa, but it’s still full of traffic. So, now I find myself needing to train him to walk nicely on a leash and it seems nearly impossible! I’ve read all the books and done all the research but he’s just not having it! I will continue with my struggle; there’s no quitting on this one but if anyone out there has...

Brandy – My Favorite Gift

Brandy Brown, Customer Service Representative There are many gifts that I love at Gift Tree. One that I think is really cool is the Around the World Wine Chest. I’m kind of into that nautical look and I adore things like this. The trunk has that old world map print on it that can be displayed long after the goodies are gone. And believe me, the goodies will not last long. I have tasted many of the goodies in this basket and they are delicious! One other gift that I really like is the Engraveable Ice Cream Holder. My Dad loves his ice cream. He has a bowl of ice cream every night, occasionally sharing with his dogs. So, when the Ice Cream Holder came to Gift Tree, I thought what the perfect gift! So, for his birthday, he will be getting his own ice cream holder with his name engraved on the front. The designers at Gift Tree are always coming up with new gifts and designs, so if you ask me next week what my favorite gift is, I’m sure it will...

Harley

I recently lost a very good friend in my life. He was always there to greet me at the door with big hugs and kisses. He listened to every word I had to say and never judged me. If I needed to take a walk, he was always a willing partner. He was a Black Lab named Harley. He was about 12 years old when we lost him and it was a great loss to our family. I think about him everyday and I miss seeing him. I have so many pictures of him stuck in photo albums but I realized just the other day that I don’t have any pictures of him displayed in frames. I decided that needed to change! One of the new gifts that we have at Gift Tree is a Pet Loss Frame. Alongside the picture of your pet, there’s a poem that is guaranteed to make you tear up. You can also have your pets name engraved below the picture! It’s such a neat idea that I just had to get one. It’s now sitting on my mantle so I can see Harley every day. What a great way to commemorate your best...

Good Looking Green Thumbs

If you or someone you love want to have a figurative green thumb but not an actual one the Burt’s Bees Gardener’s Kit is the perfect solution. It combines wonderful tools to make your flower and nail beds radiate with beauty. This gift comes with a handy canvas carrying case for your pruner, floral snips, spade, cultivator, and trowel. The Burt’s Bees hand salve, cuticle crème, cotton gloves for overnight care, and various hand crème’s revitalize hard working hands. This is a great gift for gardeners of all...

Corporate Panache

The moment I laid eyes on the Double Wine Tote with Wines & Accessories, I knew it was going to be a big hit with our corporate gifts customers. The leather tote is reminiscent of old world society, evoking images of dashing gentleman’s clubs and elite societies. Upon opening the tote, you are presented with the full spectrum of the contents all at once, and believe me when I say that “WOW” is the first word that will come to mind. Two very tasteful wines and all of the accoutrements to enjoy the wine tasting experience are provided of course, but more importantly the overall quality of the gift will speak volumes to the receiver of their importance in your eyes. This is truly a superb...

Going Green with Dagoba

My brothers both work in the environmental field and are hyperaware of all of the ecologically sound products on the market. A few years ago I had the unique joy of one-upping them: I gave them a box of Dagoba chocolate bars. At first they shrugged the gift off, but I was quick to correct them that these were ecologically-sound, organic, sustainably grown, non-GMO, and non-irradiated chocolates. Oh the look on their faces. Now they not only feast on Dagoba, but they give Dagoba gifts to their bosses. This last holiday season The Mediterranean was the gift of choice since it features a Dagoba chocolate bar front and center, plus it fits the bill in a green themed basket. About Dagoba: started by an enterprising 30 year old with a taste for chai and chocolate, the Oregon-based company is now the premier ecologically-sound, organic chocolate producer in the States. They strongly focus on equity, ecology and community. Their products range from classic chocolate bars to blends and infused creations, chocolate nibs, and drinking...

A World of Thanks

A friend of mine just called looking for a gift to send a colleague of hers. She basically wanted to thank her attorney for all she does for her and her new business. I made a few suggestions of my favorites. My friend decided to order “A World of Thanks” because not only is the trunk it comes in a great keepsake, but some of the items in the trunk actually say Thank You, which was the message she wanted to get across. This gift can really say thank you for a number of different reasons. It can be between a company and a client, a company and employees, or between friends. It’s impressive enough to be corporate, but fun enough to be...

Soggy Dog

All of us that live in the Pacific Northwest know one thing for sure; it’s wet here!! If you own a dog then you’re no stranger to the wet meanderings of your pooch through sodden backyards and mud puddles. My dog literally seeks out the biggest puddles he can find just to run and splash through them! Since it rains here for about eight months out of the year, as a dog owner, you don’t want to be caught without a towel. I keep one in my car, at my backdoor, front door and since I have the luxury of bringing my dog to work with me, I keep one in my office too. GiftTree recently started carrying the most fabulous product for my towel dilemma. The Soggy Dog -The Ultimate Drying Towel makes drying off my pooch a breeze. The pockets on each end fit my hands perfectly and allow me to really get in there and get my dog dried off quickly and easily. I no longer have to wrestle trying to get the towel not to slide around as my oaf of a dog wiggles about. I just make him sit and start drying. This towel also makes cleaning and drying your dogs paws super easy since the corners of the towel essentially glove your hands in soft terry cloth. It’s a great discovery for dog owners...

The Hardest Part of Writing a Wedding Invitation

Since family dynamics have long since changed from 1950’s and there are more extended families due to divorces and multiple marriages, the first and most difficult step of writing any wedding invitation is deciding who will be doing the inviting. Traditionally the brides’ parents pay for the wedding so the invitation reads something along the lines of, “Mr. And Mrs. John Smith request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter, Shannon Elizabeth to Steven Michael Collins son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Collins.” These days’ invitations are bit more challenging and many couples have opted for a more casual tone. Some of the more casual invitations may say, “Shannon and Steven would like to ask you to join them in celebration as they join hands in matrimony.” This alleviates any offense that may arise when you only mention your current stepmother and not your first or second stepmother! For more ideas you can go to www.ehow.com and search for “how to write a wedding...

Wendi – My Favorite Gifts

Wendi Estrada, Operations Manager I’ve worked at GiftTree for over 5 years now and I would have to say my “favorite” gift has changed throughout the years. I do believe our current line of gifts is high end and very unique. I have a few different favorites. One new area we are delving into here at GiftTree is personalized gifts. I think our Engraved Chopsticks are a wonderful gift. It is a set of two very stylish chopsticks that are engraved upon. Great for weddings, birthdays and “just because gifts.” I recently bought a set for my sister and she thought they were a great gift. In the baby gift baskets category, I have a couple of different faves. First one being the Twilight Turtle (we have one of these at my house). It’s just a fun nightlight, great gift for younger kids. Both my 2 year old and my 5 year old like the Twilight Turtle. And who could resist the Little Froggy Bath Tote? Cute! Frogs go well for either boy or girl and the red leather tote is great for storage later. If you need a gift for your mom or someone who enjoys tea, the Duet Tea Set by Tea Forte is a gorgeous gift. The teas are wonderful and the cups and tea bag holders are very stylish. I do have one more gift that I really enjoy and I think it would be very impressive for the recipient and that is the Vintage Wine Barrel. This gift is very unique in the gift basket market and unlike many baskets I think it is...

Can You Bee-lieve This?

Burt’s Bees has long been one of my favorite products, and the Mommy and Baby– Cute as Can Bee basket is simply fantastic. You not only get a ton of Burt’s Bees stuff for new mom and baby, but NOW there is the option to personalize the ribbon on the basket. You can add the newborn’s name or date of birth, or anything you want. How neat is that? The ribbon is quality enough that you can save it in your baby’s scrap book as a memento. A great gift basket just got...

Tea for Two

Guest Blogger: Doug When was the last time you invited a friend over for tea? Have you ever? I myself did this recently, and we really had a lot of fun. Rituals can be so rewarding and sharing them with a friend even more so. I really wish I’d had our Duet Tea Set by Tea Forte for my afternoon with my friend. I’m the kind of person who’d want to try a different one than my companion, and take a sip of theirs, but I have a feeling Lisa would want us both to try the same kind each time we meet, so we can compare notes and share the same experience. What’s cool about the Duet Tea Set by Forte is that it has tried and true teas like Earl Grey and Mint, but also mysterious flavors like Black Currant and Oasis. I want to try that one based on its name alone. Speaking again of ritual, the preparing of tea is kind of a fun one. First, I start with cold, filtered water and the best teapot I can afford. Preferably one made of a ceramic. Plastics and cheap metals make the water taste odd (in my opinion at least). Then, I boil the water and add honey to the bottom of the cup if desired. I have no exact science to back this up, but I swear this helps the honey sweetness get more distributed and that’s good enough for me! I would have loved to have had the cup covers that come with this set. I usually steep my tea with a saucer over...

MarieBelle Chocolates

Even though she has only been in business since 2000, Maribel Lieberman has re-invented the art of gourmet chocolate. Her signature line of chocolates combines the finest ingredients and artisanal techniques, and her products are immediately recognizable by their brown and blue packaging. With an endorsement from Oprah, MarieBelle chocolates are rapidly becoming a household name. We are excited to offer a selection of chocolates and cocoas in our MarieBelle Signature Collection. With chocolate bars like Mocha Hot Chocolate and Aztec Hot, these fine confections will quickly become a staple in your “chocoholic’s”...

Wine-a-Rita!

With the summer months quickly approaching, you can practically hear the bottles of Chardonnay and Pinot Gris as they clatter in ice buckets or clang against the refrigerator door in homes everywhere. Hot summer months mean chilled whites, right? Think again. In our Napa Experience Wine Gift Basket, we offer a delightful product called Wine Glace that turns your wine into a Wine-a-rita. Made in the same fashion as your standard margarita, Wine Glace is added to water, wine, and ice, and then mixed in your blender. The result is a colorful and delicious concoction that will surprise your friends and dinner guests. Mix with Merlot for a full bodied wine-a-rita, Zinfandel for a lighter taste, or a fruit wine for an even sweeter...

A Gift Worth Giving

These days there are gift registries for everything, baby showers, graduations, wedding showers, weddings, etc. By the time you actually go print out the registry and locate the item you can’t believe the how humdrum your gift is going to be. I mean after all nothing says Congratulations, all the best in your marriage like a waffle iron! Sending the The Dom Perignon Experience is a sophisticated gift that you don’t even have to leave your home to order. Not to mention a wonderfully aged quality product that is synonymous with the word Champagne. It also comes with two elegantly shaped keepsake champagne flutes, perfect for orange juice or mimosas to go with those...
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