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2011 Milwaukee Gift Edition - Oracular Spectacular Holiday Gift Guide

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A couple of years ago for the holidays, I featured my Oracular Spectacular Gift Guide.  A lot of the gift ideas are still good for this year as well. However, if you looking for gift a little bit closer to home, check out this year's Oracular Sepctacular Gift Guide - The Milwaukee Edition.  These unique and special gift ideas all come from Milwaukee companies and organizations.  From food to books to technology, this guide is your ticket to finding that ideal gift with a Milwaukee twist.

Bolzano Artisan Meats - "SalamME Four Pack"

I just recently learned about Bolzano Artisan Meats. Bolzano Artisan Meats is the first company in Wisconsin to bring back the lost art of dry curing, and one of the only in the nation to make products from locally raised heirloom hogs as rare as our Hereford hogs from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  What is even great about Bolzano is that they are located in my neighborhood of Riverwest in Milwaukee.  The best way to get a sample of this local company as to offer is their Bolzano's SalaMe Four Pack. For $52.00, one gets four 12 oz assorted salamis.  The four types are the Old School Salami, Pamplona Runner, Fin Oh Kee Oh Na Fennel Seed Salami, and Figgy Puddin Salami.  You can find more on these types on the their site. Bolzano Artisan Meats also ships anywhere in the United States.

Boswell Bookstore - The Flavor of Wisconsin: An Informal History of Food and Eating in the Badger State

We follow Bolzano, with another foodie related gift idea. This time is available from the local bookseller Boswell Bookstore. The book is a 2009 revised edition of The Flavor of Wisconsin published by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. It was originally published back in 1981.

The Wisconsin Historical Society published Harva Hachten's The Flavor of Wisconsin in 1981. It immediately became an invaluable resource on Wisconsin foods and foodways. This updated and expanded edition explores the multitude of changes in the food culture since the 1980s. It will find new audiences while continuing to delight the book’s many fans. And it will stand as a legacy to author Harva Hachten, who was at work on the revised edition at the time of her death in April 2006.

Carmex - New Skin Products (Healing Ointment, and Lotions)

The company known for their addictive lip balm, makes products for your skin, just in time for the dry and cold winter. Carmex, based out of Franklin, Wisconsin, created a relatively new skin care line.  You can get either healing lotion, cream or an ointment.  The lotion is great for dry skin, like my skin, and  has Aloe and vitamin E. The Carmex Healing Cream features 9 ingredients  that helps very dry, and cracked skin.  The great thing about Carmex Healing Cream is that it is concentrated, which means you only need a little to help with your dry skin. Carmex also has a healing ointment for that really rough and dry skin. Carmex Healing Ointment helps restore and repair the driest and roughest skin.

City Tins - Milwaukee Edition

This could be one of the  most unique and very local of all the gifts on the list.  This is gift is perfect for that foodie who likes to try different local restaurants.  Milwaukee's City Tins have created a unique way to sample some of Milwaukee's best restaurant. For $25, the City Tin is a unique pack of 20 Milwaukee dining gift certificates, each for $10 off your tab. Printed on cardboard coasters, they're creatively designed and emblazoned with great photography and come in a metal tin with a "dinner spinner," which promises to help solve your dining dilemma. Coasters aren't subject to black-out dates, and only one coaster can be used per table. A minimum purchase of $25 is required. City Tins also has Madison edition.

Restaurants include Beans & Barley, Crazy Water, Cafe Manna, Blue's Egg, Meritage, Water Buffalo, Hinterland, Pastiche, Cafe Benelux, Juniper 61, Maxie's, Trocadero, Le Reve, Swig, Centro Cafe, Tess, Via and Transfer, Cafe Hollander, Lulu Cafe, and La Merenda.

Cog Magazine Subscription - Magazine For Biker and Bike Lovers


Cog has to be one of the most beautiful and well-designed magazines about biking culture in the world and it is published right here in Milwaukee.  So if you have a biker or bike lover on you gift list, this is a must have item.  For $30, you a get year of Cog Magazine, which comes out 4 times a year.

COG is a visual journal captured from behind the bars of city bikers and messengers around the world.

Eco Hatchery - Eco Starter Kit

How about a gift that is environmentally friendly and can help the person save money at the same time?  The Eco Starter Kit from Milwaukee's Eco Hatchery is the gift to do just that. What is the Eco Hatchery?

Cutting through all the green "noise" that often stops well-intentioned people in their tracks, we created a series of Eco Kits. Inside are energy efficiency and conservation products that have a significant and measurable impact on improving the carbon footprint at home, where energy use accounts for over 20% of all the carbon dioxide generated nationwide.

This Milwaukee-based company have created kits to help people to become more green in how they live and save money at the same time.  The Eco Hatchery have created a special Eco Starter Kit. For $97.50, you can give the tools need to help conserve water and energy, lower utility bills, in one's home. The kit also include a step by step activity guide to live a little greener. The Eco Starter Kit inlcudes:

Step-By-Step Instruction Book with A-Z Recycling Resource Guide
Supporting Online Tools to Track Progress and Create a Personal Roadmap
Energy Monitor
Refrigerator Coil Brush
Refrigerator Thermometer
Removable Weatherization Sealer
Outlet and Light Switch Sealers
Water Pipe Insulation Sizing Samples
Premium Compact Fluorescent Bulb, Instant-On
Home Lighting Renovation Tool
Reusable Shopping Tote
Natural Soy Candle with White Tea Scent
Reusable Stainless Steel Bottle
Water Quality Test Kit
Toilet Leak Detectors
Faucet Aerators
1 Ton Carbon Offsets (in support of renewable energy projects)

Milwaukee Based Etsy Stores

If you want something a little more personal an unique, check out the Milwaukee section of the popular arts and craft retail site Etsy.  There are a lot of amazing gift ideas from Milwaukee artists that you can't find in any store.  You can find everything from apparel to jewelry to art. My favorite Milwaukee Etsy shop isVinyville. Vinyville creates one-of kind laptop decals like 'Snow's Revenge.'

Glorioso - Gift Baskets

Here is another gift for that foodie in your life. This time it comes from the Milwaukee-based Italian market Gloriso located on the eastside.  Besides having a great store with some amazing items, they also sell some really unique gift baskets. Glorioso has 6 gift baskets to choose from inlcuding the Mama Mia Gift basket.  For $100, you get two bottles of wine, two cheeses, salami, artisanal pasta, Italian cookies and more.  Presented in a beautiful wooden box emblazoned with the Glorioso name and crest. Check out the other gift baskets via their website.

Great Lakes Distillery - Artisan Brandies

Great Lake Distillery, Wisconsin's first distillery since prohibition, has some a unique gift for that special drinker in your life. Great Lake Distillery offers special artisan brandies. These brandies are created in very small batches and come in three flavors:

Grappa: Grappa is a brandy made from pomace (the solid remains of the wine making process). Their Grappa is made from a pomace consisting of Marechal Foch and Millot grapes grown in Wisconsin.

Kirschwasser is a brandy distilled from cherries. Kirschwasser is distilled from a cherry wine produced by Wisconsin's von Stiehl Winery using Door County grown Montmorency and Balaton varietals.

Pear Brandy Eau-de-Vie is distilled from Pears. The Pear Brandy tastes like you just cut a pear. It has a great aroma and terrific flavor of fresh Bartlett pear.


Heavy Rotation - Galaxy Forest Long Sleeve Shirt For Women

Milwaukee's Heavy Rotation are known for their original and uniquely design apparel for women, men and children. The item that caught my ey was the Galaxy Forest long sleeve shirt for women, which they have back in stock just in time for the holidays. The  grey shirt depicts a subtle woodland scene.  Perfect for that lady in your life. Heavy Rotation is also responsible for putting on the Urban Garage Sale at Turner Hall this year, which is great place to find that unique Milwaukee gift.

Milwaukee Beer Soap - Variety of Flavors

Milwaukee is known for beer.  Giving beer can be a unique gift, but giving soap made out of beer  is really unique gift.  Milwaukee Beer Soap is a company that craft unique soaps made out of beer. The soaps are made by Milwaukee Ale House brew master James Olen. Milwaukee Beer Soap comes in five fagrants including Clean & Sober, Cranberry Spice, Honey Weiss, Oatmeal Stout, and Solomon's Bay Rum.  What a great way to cure a hangover.  You can order Milwaukee Beer Soap from Groom For Men.

Milwaukee Empty Bowls Cookbook

Milwaukee Empty Bowls is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that uses art to heighten hunger awareness and raise funds that help food pantries and meal programs in Milwaukee. We create hand-made bowls that are offered to the public at our main event in October. A $20 donation includes a bowl and delicious soup and bread made and donated by over 50 area restaurants and bread shops. 

They are offering a new cookbook to support their cause.  Milwaukee Empty Bowls is having a cookbook release party on Thursday, December 20 at Roman Coin on the east side from 5pm - 9pm. If you attend the release party, you can get the cookbook for only $20. The cookbook features over 65 recipes from local restaurants that donated soup to their event this past October. It also features stories about pottery donors, and some wonderful photos. If you can't make it to the cookbook release party on December 8, you can grab the cookbook online at their site for $25.  Check out our story we did on Milwaukee Empty Bowls for our Make A Difference campaign.


Minion Games - The Manhattan Project

This gift idea is for the game player.  Minion Games is a Milwaukee-based board game maker based in Greenfield. Minion Games recently ran a Kickstarter campaign for their most recent game called The Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project is a low-luck, mostly open information efficiency game in which players compete to build and operate the most effective atomic bomb program. Players do not "nuke" each other, but conventional air strikes are allowed against facilities.

The Manhattan Project is available for pre-order for only $49.99 via Minion Games' website.

Pabst Theater Gift Cards

This is a no-brainer for that music lover on you list.  The Pabst Theater, Riverside Theater and Turner Hallare three of the best music venues in Milwaukee.  The venues bring some of the most exciting artists to Milwaukee including The Decemeberists, Bon Iver, and more.  You can get the gift cards in increments of $15, $20, 25, $50, $75, and $100. If you purchase a $100 worth of gift cards, you will get a $20 gift card free, and the cards work at all three of their venues.

Penzeys Spices - Ethnic Milwaukee Spice Gift Box

Here is another gift idea for the foodie on your list. This time is comes from Milwaukee's Penzeys Spices.  Give the taste of Milwaukee with their Ethnic Milwaukee spice gift box. The box features 4 1/2 cup spice jars, which is based on the rich cultural culinary heritage of Milwaukee.  The gift box includes Old World Seasoning, Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle, Galena Street Rib Rub, and Fox Point Seasoning. The Ethnic Milwaukee Spice gift box costs only $26.95.

Rishi Tea - Green Tea Gift Set

What better way to stay warm this holiday season with some tea from Milwaukee-based Rishi Tea.  They offer many gift sets, but my favorite is their Green Tea Gift Set. For only $45.00, you get a can of their Sencha tea, a can of Dragon Well tea, and a lovely Tsuki teapot.

Rishi Tea’s Green Tea Gift Set features our Organic Japanese steamed Sencha green tea and Organic Chinese pan-fired Dragon Well green tea, plus our charming Tsuki teapot from Japan. This tea set is great for introducing someone to the wonderful complexities of green tea. Japanese Sencha is known for its rich umami character, while Chinese Dragon Well is softer with a roasted chestnut aroma.

Snap Stylus for your iPad

This gift idea, just like the Manhattan Project, started as a Kickstarter campaign.  After reaching their goal on Kickstarter, they started selling the Snap Stylus for $20 for one, $35 for two.  Certain apps on the iPad work better with a stylus.  This Milwaukee company developed this stylus not only to work great with an iPad, but the stylus magnetic so it can attach directly to your iPad. Perfect those who looses things like a stylus.  

Stone Creek Coffee - Happy Holidays Gift Pack

You might not have an tea drinkers on your list, but I'm pretty sure you have some coffee drinkers on the list. Why not get them a Happy Holidays Gift Pack from Milwaukee's Stone Creek Coffee. This great gift features four half pounds of freshly roasted coffee: Holiday Blend, Milwaukee Blend, Cream City Blend and French Roast. The Happy Holidays Gift Pack only costs $26.00.

Well, that concludes my Milwaukee edition of the Oracular Spectacular Gift Guide. If you have any suggestions, please post them in the comment section.  I hope this helps with your holiday shopping this year.