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Posts Tagged ‘homemade gifts’

Christmas Cookies Like fog rolling in and stealing the sun, winter doldrums came and swept over me. Even though it’s not officially winter yet, I’ve been feeling kind of blue these last couple of weeks. Realizing this, I knew I desperately needed a special kind of therapy – cookie therapy. Luckily, a friend sensed my mood and we set up a “therapy session.” Baking and decorating cookies with reckless creativity and chatting and laughing made my case of wintertime blues disappear.

#1 – The Cookies
The cookies featured in the photo above are my holiday version of my Valentine’s Day Cookies. Click the link for the recipe and directions. These decorated shortbread cookies are cheerful to look at and delicious to devour!

#2 – Edible Gifts
60 Ideas For Homemade Edible Gifts If Chocolate-Covered Bacon, Earl Grey Kumquat Marmalade, or Parmesan Black Pepper Biscotti sound delicious to you, just think how impressed your friends will be when you give them one of these edible gifts. PopSugar’s post Over 60 Ideas For Homemade Edible Gifts is filled with intriguing and interesting ideas. Some of them take advance planning such as making homemade limoncello or vanilla extract.

#3 – In The Mirrored Room
Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room - the Souls of Millions of Light Years Away Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama created an art installation called the “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” that is both breathtaking and surreal. Lucky New York City folk can visit this amazing installation until December 21st at the David Zwirner Gallery. How I wish I could step into that room!

#4 – Finding Courage
How to Find Courage In the Wizard of Oz, the Cowardly Lion sought to find courage, not knowing it was already within him. Each day we face a variety of struggles, most of which we deal with and then we move on with our lives. To do this requires courage. Like the Cowardly Lion, many of us don’t realize that we already possess the courage we need to face issues. We just need to uncover it. While reading an online magazine this morning, I came across an article by Steve Keating called How to Find Courage. Although it was written by a business man for a target audience, its message is applicable for everyone.

#5 – Never Too Late
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Go Now and Spread Joy!

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Dog Enjoying Car Ride His eyes close as the sun shines on his face and the wind blows through his hair. My dog’s face reflects sheer bliss during a recent car ride. Dogs live in the present moment and savor all of life’s little blessings. Simple things bring them joy: pats on the head, kind and encouraging words, treats to treasure, naps in the sun, running free, being loved. How is it that animals with brains the size of a human two-year-old can figure out the essence of happiness? Perhaps, we should let the world go to the dogs?

#1 – Dogs And Cats
11 Differences Between Cats and Dogs During the Holidays What do dogs and cats think about the holidays? If you’re a dog or a cat owner you’ll get a chuckle out of this BuzzFeed photo series called 11 Differences Between Cats and Dogs During The Holidays.

#2 – More Gift Ideas!
65 Homemade Christmas Gifts From week to week the number of homemade gift ideas on the Internet keeps increasing. This week I found 65 Homemade Christmas Gifts, which provides a wide-ranging collection of ideas and links. My favorite idea? There’s too many to choose from!

#3 – The Right Box

Gift Box Template Maker An obscure cabinet in my house contains boxes of all sizes. Because so many of them are crammed into a small space, I don’t dare remove one box, lest I create a box avalanche. I was elated to find the site Free Template Maker. Using the template maker, I can make small boxes to my exact specifications any time I want. All I have to do is plug in the dimensions and a template is made. Plus, I can re-purpose the cardboard from boxes in my cabinet that are missing lids or bottoms to make new custom boxes. The only limitation to this template maker is that your box template must fit on your printer paper. If you need a larger size, you can probably take a copy of the file on a flash drive to a copy service and have a larger template printed.

#4 – Go With The Flow
Learning To Go With The Flow
“There’s so much to do and so little time.” “Arghh, that person just stole my parking space!” “Look at how long the line is!” “What do you mean you’re all sold out?” Do any of these statements sound familiar to you? If they do, you might want to take a brief refresher course on how to go with the flow. 12 Practical Steps for Learning to Go With the Flow by Zenhabits provides the tips you need.

#5 – Is It A Waste?
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
Marthe Troly-Curtin

Now Go and Spread Joy!

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Lemon Tea Sugar Scrub Cold winds, dry heat, yard work, cooking, cleaning, etc. all contribute to making your skin rough and dry. Without spending a fortune and in only a few minutes, you can make a deliciously moisturizing scrub for your face and body. Keep containers of this wonderful scrub near your kitchen and bathroom sinks or your shower stall for whenever your skin needs a little tender loving care. To give away as gifts, put the scrub in cute jars, add labels, and tie on little spoons or scoops. Its fresh natural fragrance appeals to both guys and gals!

Lemon Tea Sugar Scrub
The Big-Ass Book of Crafts by Mark Montano

INGREDIENTS AND SUPPLIES
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons Epsom salt
10 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
3 green tea bags
1 lemon to zest
Grater or zester
Large mixing bowl
Beautiful container

DIRECTIONS
1. Grate your lemon rind and set aside the zest.

2. In the large mixing bowl, combine and mix the sugar, Epsom salt, and loose tea (just rip open the bags and sprinkle the leaves in).

3. Add in the olive oil and mix.

4. Add the honey and combine well.

5. Add the lemon zest.

6. Mix everything in the bowl, then fill up your container.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Instead of using tea bags, I used loose-leaf green tea that I had at home. I estimated the amount of leaves that would be contained in three tea bags and I crumbled them into a bowl.

2. The next time I make this, I think I will try using a lemon-infused olive oil.

3. Little jars of this scrub make lovely hostess gifts or party favors.

ENJOY!

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DIY Gift Book Life is a series of bridge-crossings. We come to points in our lives where chasms, sometimes shallow and sometimes deep, appear before us. Questions swirl in and around our souls. Do we dare cross to the other side or do we stay in place? Will we be okay if we cross over to the unfamiliar and the unknown? Do we have the resolve and strength it takes to step onto the bridge? To cross a bridge is to make a commitment. It means we’ve decided to let go of where we stand and move forward.

As I watched a friend deal with back-to-back life-chasms, I witnessed the exhausting decisions she was forced to make. She bravely crossed one bridge after another, until she came to a big one: to sell her home, to leave behind memories, and to start anew. Knowing that this was a monumental step for her and knowing the memories that the house held for her, I gave her the only thing I could think of – a “bridge” book. My concept of this book was to link her memories with inspiration for the future. I accomplished this by taking photographs of beautiful and meaningful areas surrounding her home and paired them up with inspirational quotes. After informing her real estate agent about my project, I took most of the photos during an open house. On occasion, when I knew the lighting would be perfect in her garden, I’d sneak into her yard and snap a few more! With my friend’s permission, I’d like to share a few pages of her Bridge Book with you:

The Bridge Book: A n Inspirational Book for Moving On

Introductory Page

The Bridge Book: An Inspirational Gift For Someone Moving On

The Bridge Book: An Inspirational Gift For Someone Moving On

The Greenhouse: A Husband’s Hobby

The Bridge Book: An Inspirational Gift For Someone Moving On

Liquid Amber: A Father’s Gift

The Bridge Book: An Inspirational Gift for Someone Moving On

The Bridge

The Bridge Book: An Inspirational Gift For Someone Moving On

The Bridge Book: An Inspirational Gift For Someone Moving On

The Bridge Book: An Inspirational Gift For Someone Moving On

Closing Page: A New Beginning

As we cross the bridges that lie before us, may we remember to always move forward and to only look back for inspiration.

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kids in Santa hats
Eleven years ago my husband and I took our kids for their annual holiday portrait. Getting them attired for this event was never an easy task, especially the older they got. As we sat and waited for our turn at the photo studio, my family watched other portraits being taken. By the time the photographer called our names, my kids were more than ready to go home. The photographer must have read “Photography Poses 101” or something like that, because he put my kids through the normal repertoire of poses and then uttered, “Okay, you’re done.” That’s when my oldest son said, “Can we get in that?” For an hour he’d been watching little kids being photographed with all sorts of props, but one prop, in particular, caught his imagination – a large plastic pair of Santa pants. The photographer paused to think about the question for a minute. I could tell he thought this prop was only for little kids, but he finally said “Okay.” My three kids voluntarily donned Santa hats and giggled as they crammed into the pants. The boys laughed while they pulled Santa’s suspenders over their shoulders. Everyone in the studio stopped to look at them and we all laughed at the silly sight. What a joyful moment it was and I remember it like it happened yesterday.

#1 – 82 Blessings
Children embody hope, unconditional love, and wonderment. Because children are gifts to be cherished and they are our gifts to the world, we need to nourish them and care for them physically and emotionally.  From the blog Finding Joy comes a list of 82 Blessings for Kids. Read the entire list for the children in your life and for the child in you.

#2 – Looking for Butterflies
butterfly In an article titled Finding Joy, author Karen Kleiman, MSW, LCSW, based her essay on the saying, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over . . . it became a butterfly.” Although she writes articles on healing postpartum depression, her words and the saying apply to anyone coping with issues. She writes about looking for the “butterflies” in life: What is a butterfly? It’s a moment of pure joy. It’s an instant in time when everything feels right. It’s a thing or a look or a feeling, a sense or an energy that grabs us from behind, often when we are not looking. Most of the time, it is fleeting. Sometimes, it rests right in front of us. We cannot see it if we do not look for it. If we aren’t mindful, we will miss it; it will be gone. If we find it, it’s exquisite.

#3 – Finding Joy In My Kitchen
white chocolate popcorn White Chocolate Popcorn, anyone? This and other tasty edible gifts can be found via links from the blog Finding Joy In My Kitchen.

#4 – Enjoy the Moment and the Music
No hip hop dancing was performed during this flash mob in Sabadell, Spain. More than 100 members of symphonies and choirs participated in this event which has been called by some people, “The most beautiful they have ever seen.”

#5 – Be Joyful
“Now and then it is good to pause in our pursuit of Joy and just be Joyful.”
Anonymous

Have a joyous holiday!

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Tucked away in a cabinet are holiday beverage napkins that read, “We Like To Give Homemade Gifts For Christmas. Would You Like One Of Our Kids?”  Whatever prompted me to purchase those particular napkins is a mystery to me. It’s true, I like to give homemade gifts. But even on my worst parenting days, I’ve never considered giving away any of my kids! I can only guess that a combination of the “HOLIDAZE” that normally takes over me at this time of year and too many “Calgon-take-me-away” moments of motherhood had something to do with it! This upcoming holiday season, my kids can rest assured that my homemade gifts will be in the forms of food mixes and baked goods. Food mixes, such as this one for corn bread, are gifts of time-saving convenience and are much appreciated by busy hostesses. Make this corn bread mix, put it in a cute airtight container, type and print up the instructions, and tie them on with a festive holiday ribbon. A voucher for some of your favorite homemade chili would make a great accompanying gift!

California Corn Bread Mix
Adapted from a recipe by Diane Phillips

Ingredients:
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder

Directions:
In a large bowl, stir all the ingredients together. Store the mix in an airtight container.

Instructions to be included with the mix:

California Corn Bread
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the corn bread mix in a large mixing bowl, and add the eggs, milk, and butter. Blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour into a well-greased 8-inch baking pan and bake for 30 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

Enjoy!

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