Friday, July 22, 2011

The Picnic Basket

A couple of years ago, my mom was piling stuff up for Good Will, including her old picnic basket.

I've been seeing this picnic basket all my life and it always meant good things to me. As a child I loved the idea of picnics - eating outdoors, eating mostly without silverware and being together with my family.

On an impulse I asked my Mom if I could have the old picnic basket, and she said, "Of course, but do you really want that old basket?" Visions of lazy picnics and sunny days danced in my head. So I brought it home.

I took this photograph of it a couple of days ago. It's a good, old-fashioned picnic basket: simple, practical and well-made. No, it doesn't keep cold things cold, or hot things hot. It doesn't have a drain in the bottom, or wheels. It doesn't have flashing lights and wouldn't float worth a darn.

But... it holds everything you need, and it's solid as a rock even after 50 years. It holds all the food, even casseroles and odd shaped bowls, and dishes and cutlery. It holds a picnic blanket (I have a Sage Green Modern Design Blanket in there.) It holds books, and crayons and notebooks. And when the handles are folded down, it makes a fine low tabletop.

It is clearly something my mother would buy. My Mom never bought cheap stuff - she just didn't believe in it. If she wanted something, she saved up and bought the very best she could get. And then she took care of it.

You may wonder why on earth I'm writing about this picnic basket and my Mom.

I think it's because she's had such a profound impact on me, and by extension on Gilden Tree. What it means is that I don't want us to sell something that my Mom wouldn't have wanted to buy.
I want every product we sell to be well-made and to do what it's supposed to do. I want it to be the best quality we can make it. I want it to be amazingly good.

I know you can buy cheaper stuff, much cheaper in fact. But if Gilden Tree is going to offer you something, I hope it will be something you'll hang onto. Something you'll take care of and maybe - just maybe, something one of your own kids will rescue from the Good Will pile one day.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Foot Care Tips for Diabetics

For people with Diabetes, summer can present a real challenge - but by using a little common sense, you can still enjoy the beach, the pool and the great outdoors.

Over time, the feet of a diabetic lose sensitivity and may not be able to "feel" as well as the feet of a person without Diabetes. They also take longer to heal from infections and injuries, so you need to protect them from the elements: sun, hot pavement, rough surfaces and sharp objects.

Little problems can become big ones if you don't take care of them. The California Podiatric Medical Association says "Most [serious foot health issues] begin as minor injuries that were left untreated."

So enjoy the summer and protect your feet by following these common-sense tips:

1. Wear real shoes and clean socks. Avoid sandals, flip-flops and going barefoot - it's just not worth the risk to your feet. Clean, unwrinkled socks and comfortable shoes will mean you can enjoy the outdoors safely. (The American Diabetes Association also recommends that you buy shoes at the end of the day, when feet are the largest.) Going swimming? Wear water shoes that hug your feet and be sure to check them frequently for debris.

2. Shake out your shoes before you wear them, in case there's any gravel or other objects in them. Check with your hands to be sure that nothing in your shoe will rub against your feet. (Good advice anytime!)

3. Wash feet daily with warm water and gentle soap, and moisturize with a good foot cream like Gilden Tree's Nourishing Foot Cream. Always dry feet gently first and don't moisturize between your toes.

4. Inspect your feet daily, using a hand mirror if necessary. Look for bruises, cuts rashes, blisters or anything which looks odd.

5. Schedule regular appointments with your podiatrist - especially if you plan a lot of outdoor activities. If you have any doubts or concerns about your feet, do check with your doctor. Better safe than sorry!

6. Control your blood sugar, and don't smoke. Goes without saying but especially important in the summer.

All the pleasures of summer are waiting for you, if you just use a little common sense and take good care of your feet!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Father's Day Gift Guide

Stumped for a Gift Your Dad Will Like?

Want to get something extra-sweet and extra-special for your Dad or the man who's been like a Dad to you this Father's Day? Forget it.

Sorry, but most of the men I've spoken with said their favorite gifts were the practical ones they received; ones they could use every day, that actually served a particular purpose or that they could eat. Okay, the odd hip flask was a cool gift or the retro cocktail shaker, but those somehow don't seem like Father's Day gifts to me.

So what can you do? Think outside the traditional gift box. Here are four of my favorite Father's Day Gifts:

1. Does Dad love to work outside, but have really dry hands from doing so? Get him a great new shovel, or garden fork or whatever he's been eying, and include some heavy duty salve, or some Shea Butter Balm. Throw in a home-made certificate for a hand massage and you're good to go.

2. Are your Dad's feet a wreck? Get him a terra-cotta Foot Scrubber and a Foot Cream. And include a massage certificate, except this time for the feet. Ignore his protests that he doesn't want anyone touching his feet - he would secretly love to be spoiled a little, and he'll be hooked within 10 seconds of the first touch.

3. Does he cruise around the house in a pair of disreputable boxers? Maybe it's time for him to get a robe of his own. But make sure you get a robe that's comfortable and practical - there's nothing worse than a "luxury" robe that's too hot to wear, or gets musty-smelling because it doesn't dry quickly.

For summer, our most popular robe is the Classic Waffle Weave Kimono Style Robe. These robes are very generously sized, they're super-comfortable and they wash and dry like a dream. (They were actually developed for use in a spa and look just as good on a man as they do on a woman.)

4. Another great option are the new Waffle Weave Towels. These 100% cotton towels are soft, absorbent and dry quickly. They're available in two styles, Classic Waffle Weave Towels, and Modern Design Waffle Weave Towels, in a range of colors and sizes.

Need Gift Wrap? Gilden Tree offers gift wrap for just $5.00, and a free gift message. Items are placed in a nice brown kraft gift box, and tied with a real green ribbon. See? That was easy, wasn't it?


Graduation Gift Guide

Choosing a Great Gift for Graduates is Easy!

Graduation, leaving home and going away to college are big steps in anyone's life, and it's a big financial commitment.

Traditionally, a watch or piece of fine jewelry would be a treasured graduation gift. But these days, more practical items may top the list for most grads, as they watch their pennies for tuition.

Being independent and making your own decisions can be as challenging as it is exhilarating, but you can help ease that transition by helping your graduate be prepared.

For most students, dorm life is their first experience in communal living. Habits which made sense in the privacy of your own home are simply impractical in shared living spaces.

What do you wear to and from the bathroom, especially if you share a large bathroom down the hall? How many towels do you really need? What kind of robe or shower wrap is appropriate where men and women may be housed on the same floor? It's not always easy to anticipate.

So, here are our recommendations for the most practical and appreciated graduation gifts:


A robe should be comfortable, easy to care for, quick-drying and a little more generously sized. (Many freshmen gain a few pounds that first year as they adjust to a changed diet.) Steer away from anything too short, revealing or see through.

An ideal solution would be Gilden Tree's kimono style Waffle Weave Robe, or shawl collar Waffle Weave Robe. These robes are comfortable, attractive, dry quickly, and wash and dry well.

For more full-figured students, you may want to consider a Full-Figured Waffle Weave Robe, designed to look and feel just like the regular kimono style robe, but redesigned especially for full-figured folks.

Shower Wraps:

These are a godsend for just after the shower, and for applying makeup and doing your hair. Most dorms have either a communal bathroom with rows of sinks, or a suite type arrangement, where one bathroom is shared amongst 4 or more people.

In either case, sink and mirror time is always at a premium, and being able to get ready without having to go back to the room and get dressed first is very convenient. All shower wraps should be longer than the knee, with a good front overwrap and should wash and dry well.

I recommend our Waffle Weave Shower Wraps, or our super-soft Velour Shower Wraps. Both are soft, comfortable and secure across the chest with a series of snaps, so they're very adjustable. Once again, full-figured versions are available in Velour and Waffle Weave, and we've just added an Extra-Small Velour Wrap, too. 

Most dorm rooms have miniscule closets and limited towel bars in the bathrooms, plus you may not want to leave your towel hanging in the bathroom for everyone to use, so it's smart to avoid thick, heavy, terry-cloth towels. Aim for a slightly thinner, more quick drying towel and avoid having damp towels draped over every available surface.

Often students will only do laundry once a week or perhaps only twice a month. A minimum or four to six towels should be included, and the same number of hand towels to use as a hair towel for girls. If your student uses them, plan to get at least a dozen wash cloths.

A great new option are waffle weave towels. These 100% cotton towels are light, soft and very absorbent, plus they dry very quickly, even in humid climates.  You may be able to go with fewer towels because they won't get musty like terry towels.

Gilden Tree offers towels in two styles: Modern Design and Classic Waffle Weave, in a range of sizes and fun colors.


Monogramming is a wonderful way to personalize a gift, but be careful to choose a style that your student will enjoy. You may love a classic monogram in a curly Olde English letter style, but your graduate may want something a little more low key.

A pretty safe bet is to go with a clean, modern letter style in the same color as the item being monogrammed (white thread on a white robe, etc.) Single initials are very popular right now and should always be the first initial of the student's first name.

Avoid using nicknames that are babyish or silly - no matter how much you love them. Your student is doing his or her best to appear mature and together and a "Punkin'" monogrammed robe defeats the purpose.

The Real Gift:

The most important gift you can possibly give your student is your attention. Don't forget to check in with them from time to time, via email, phone or mail while they're away at school.

My mom sent my brothers and I letters, little gifts and home-baked cookies "packed" in popcorn. The taste of home and the feeling of being loved are something I've never forgotten. Even if they say they don't need it - they need it. So don't forget that most important gift of all - your time and attention.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Shall We Dance? Foot Care For Dancers

April is National Foot Health Month!

All dancers whether ballroom, bebop, ballet, boogie-woogie or belly know that a lot is riding on their feet - and we can learn a lot from them about foot care tips and routines that really work.

Perhaps one of the most demanding types of dance is Pointe Ballet, which looks so graceful and so uncomfortable both at the same time. Here's a great article from e-how about foot care for serious ballet dancers.

The author recommends "soaking in Epsom Salts after dancing, and applying thick moisturizing foot balms on your heels and areas where corns, blisters and calluses may develop. Do this every day, if possible, and even before getting your feet ready to wear pointe shoes."

We've worked with a lot of dancers over the years - and two crucial products are our Revitalizing Foot Soak Crystals, which feature Epsom Salt, Sea Salt and Shea Butter, and 95% Shea Butter Balm, an incredibly rich balm that melts into dry skin.

And of course, if you have any serious issues like bleeding or significant pain, you should visit your podiatrist. With just a couple of products, you can be sure to keep your dancing feet healthy and tip-top!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Foot Care for Runners

April is National Foot Health Month!

Although it's still pretty chilly, serious runners are already out in force, and they need to be especially careful about foot care to enhance performance, prevent injury and protect their feet both while they run and afterward.

Amongst runners, there's a lot of discussion about calluses, preventing blisters and moisturizing. Calluses are a natural way for your feet to protect themselves against rubbing that's not serious enough to cause a blister. So in a way, they're good, but allowed to grow too large, they can alter the way your foot fits in a shoe, and you can still get a blister there.

The key seems to be finding a balance, and the Foot Scrubber is excellent because unlike a razor or a grater style callus remover that can cut off too much, you only remove a little each time.

Another issue is the problem with feet getting hot and sweaty during a run, which can exacerbate blisters. We have heard of people using petroleum jelly to coat their feet, but really prefer 95% Shea Butter Balm, as it seems to provide a better barrier to moisture.

It's also important to keep your feet well moisturized - and Gilden Tree Nourishing Foot Cream is excellent. The main ingredient is Certified Organic Aloe Vera, which helps reduce swelling and inflammation, and can help soothe burning.

One of our favorite bloggers on running is Jon Vonhof of He's written an excellent book, "Fixing Your Feet", now in its fifth edition. Jon has a common sense approach to taking care of your feet and is easy to read and follow.

Whether you're a serious runner or a casual jogger, don't forget to start taking care of your feet now!