If you are still doing some shopping, here is a list of my favorite finds of 2005. There may be some tips for last minute great gifts.
* My No.1 favorite new place to eat is JW Desserts on Whidbey Island. This well-known cake maker has finally expanded from being a take-out and special-order dessert place to a sit-down lunchtime restaurant. The soups and desserts are obvious favorites.
Visit this place in Clinton, totally worth the ferry trip, and order a few things to sample as much as you can in one sitting. They have gift certificates and make delightful special-occasion surprises. Ask to see their book of photographs.
* My next favorite find is the best place to sleep. A year ago, I was content with a Tempurpedic pillow, but now I’m on the Tempurpedic mattress and it’s everything they promise and even a bit more. I’m a “swimmer” in my sleep and for the first time I’m not moving all night. Sweet dreams.
* If you like to walk, take a long walk in the fur-lined Merrill shoe. It is like having slippers on your feet all day but their shoes can go for long walks on the road. They come in fun colors, though my family drew the line at the purple ones.
* It is hard for me to rave about the next item because the darn little thing gets so much positive press already. But I can’t leave it out cause I’m a big fan, too. I love my iPod. The iPod allows you to carry an encyclopedia of music in the palm of your hand.
It doesn’t skip when you run. If you still don’t have one, use any excuse to get or give this treat. My daughter and I bought factory refurbished models and they are every bit as good as brand new. They were wrapped like they were brand new, but Apple sold them at a substantial discount.
* Here’s one for the dogs in the readership. Don’t miss Paws Gourmet in Edmonds. At a fair this summer, I met the two women who started this company. My dog Romeo sampled their homemade dog treats and now he won’t settle for anything less.
They have a great Web site, pawsgourmet.com, for ordering gifts and often appear at local festivals with their yummy treats.
* In 2005, I finally made the drive to see the Japanese Garden of Portland, Ore. My neighbors have been telling me about it for a few years. If you’re sprucing up your own garden at home, there is plenty of inspiration. Even if you don’t make the trip to Portland, they have a lovely book of photographs any gardener would appreciate.
* One more excellent thing in 2005 has been to work out with a trainer. I grew up in the era when girls didn’t work out in the gym and TV exercise guru Jack La Lanne was encouraging women to try to exercise.
Everything I learned to do in a gym, I did on my own. It is not the same as working out with a trainer. I am seeing results I couldn’t find on my own.
If you’ve secretly felt like it was too much money to invest in your body, do what I did: After a quick calculation, I realized I spend more to maintain my car every year than to maintain my body.
* Finding new ways to get involved in great causes is always uplifting. This year, my daughters and I are doing things with the Red Cross. They have so many ways to involve people in learning skills and preparing for disasters.
In a world that seems to be on tender footing, working toward preparedness provides some measure of hope. There are many ways to make a difference and share your inner gifts to make our world better.
* If you are looking for a great book to share at your holiday table, I highly recommend “The Gift of Nothing” by Patrick McDonnell. Great for all ages.
Sarri Gilman is a freelance writer living on Whidbey Island. Her column on living with meaning and purpose runs every other Tuesday in The Herald. She is a therapist, a wife and a mother, and has founded two nonprofit organizations to serve homeless children. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.