Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Homemade Christmas- Part 3.

Our gifts to the majority of people on our list were of four kinds.  We baked goodies, I knitted, and my husband burned Cd's and DVD's for people.  The kids worked on art work to give too.  We baked approximately 10 dozen cookies, 9 loaves of different breads, and made different kinds of holiday candy barks.  Now, I understand that the stuff that goes into baking can get rather expensive.  I try to offset this by collecting coupons and stalking up slowly on baking supplies from September onward.

There's a little history behind all this baking.  Not so many years ago, I wasn't a bad cook or baker, but I honestly didn't know HOW to do either.  Can you believe it?  However, I am really passionate about great food and baked goods.  I firmly believe that the best cooking and baking in the world can be done in your own kitchen.  IF you are willing to try and fail, eventually the successes come!
Turtle brownies, anyone?
I really am not trying to brag, but I love spending my days in the kitchen!  I love making food that makes my family bust out ear splitting grins, and I love giving baked goods to people.  It's so much nicer to receive a freshly baked loaf of bread as a gift than, say, a box of oreos.  (Not knocking oreos- we eat them by the fistful here in this house.) Here is a list of the recipes I used to bake with this year:

Goodies!-Molasses Gingerbread
-Pumpkin Bread
-Molasses Spiced Cookies
-Nutmeg Sugar Cookies
-Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies
-Holiday Bark

I do know that sometimes, there is just NO TIME to bake.  So, please don't feel like your gifts are lessened!  Christmas is about giving, period.  Whether it is homemade or store bought, just the fact that you are taking the time and energy (and money) to let someone know you appreciate them is more than enough.  Never lessen yourself by thinking less of what you can or can't do.

Moving on, I knitted a TON.  I learned how to knit about two years ago, when I was still pregnant and on bed rest with our son.  It took time, trial and error, help from friends, books, videos, etc. I am so happy I learned how to knit though!  I love thinking of things that are just for different people, whether it's a set of potholders in their favorite colors, a toy for a kiddo, a blanket, etc. 
The beginning of Eva's cupcake purse.
I knitted each of our children a couple things.  I knitted them hats, scarves, and gloves.  I also knitted a couple toys, including a cupcake purse for my daughter. She's going to freak out in delight because she has wanted a cupcake purse OR hat forever.  It's in her favorite shades of blues and lavenders and I put a pair of cool knitted socks in it for her.
YARN! Yarn for potholders, hats, scarves galore! Eva's rainbow hat!
Over these two years of knitting, I've amassed a huge stash of yarn by watching for sales, using coupons, and also because a lot of friends have gifted me their leftover yarn.  So I had a rainbow of colors to work with for gifts for people.  I use a lot of patterns from Ravelry and I have used them with huge success. Also, Amy Gaines makes well written, thorough patterns that are incredibly user friendly.  Check out her cool books on Amazon too!
I use a lot of patterns from Ravelry and Amy Gaines. Her site is-
Nolan and I have a huge library of DVDs and music.  We love movies and we both have really varied tastes on music.  So, as corny as it may or may not be, we made people mixed Cd's, burned them DVDs we knew they wanted, and just used what we have to be able to give more!  Luckily, most of the people on our gift giving list also love music and movies, and have the same tastes as we do, making our job easier!

One of the coolest gifts we made this year, was a book for each of our children.  I made each of them a simple picture book, literally put in a binder.  I'm no great artistic talent but we both can draw and paint a little.  I just made each page about Eva or Owen, things they like, their families, things we hope for them.  What kid wouldn't want a book all about them?

We had also both received a few gift cards and gifts we just honestly couldn't use or knew we wouldn't use.  I know re-gifting seems to be a huge faux pas, but honestly? If someone else has better use for a gift cards to Batteries Plus (or wherever), why NOT give it to them?  We received two games for the kids we already had.  We decided to go ahead and donate or gift to other kiddos we knew didn't have them.
Oodles of snow flakes that we made together!
Eva got to do something very special this year.  Eva really wants to be an artist, so I had her draw and paint original 'art' on canvases I found for less than a quarter at a yard sale to give to people.  She had also received a cool friendship bracelet making kit for her birthday, and she and I got to spend time together making a few bracelets for her friends.  It was a great way to spend time together and make something personal for her pals!

When it comes down to it, I know people are short on time and short of cash during the holidays, sometimes.  I just want to say that however you give is your choice.  It's giving that matters most of all.  But, I wanted to present the fact that we couldn't afford to do expensive store bought things, so with ever batch of cookies, set of pot holders, or bracelet made, we were making it out of love and creativity.

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