Wednesday, December 9, 2009

So it's getting close to Christmas and you're getting nervous

First of all, it's the end of the first week of December, so I think it is safe to say...hurricane season is over! We had only a couple of high heart beat moments and, along with many of the islands, escaped anything close to serious. Thanks, El Nino and the universe for sparing us and many who have seen too much devastation in the last years. And now, on with our regularly scheduled programming! Let the holiday games begin.


Somewhere, in the weird tradition of present giving at Christmas time, between going in debt and saying the hell with it, is this pretty lovely happy medium that yes, takes time, yes, takes thoughtfulness and yes, is hugely appreciated for being something NOT to be stuck on a shelf or returned.

I don't need to elaborate when stating the obvious, that the economy has been in the toilet for awhile now and affects most of us (yes, you lucky or corrupt ones, we know you're out there and don't need a MUST buy us gifts and support other corporations this year - I personally want a digital SLR camera and plan on begging asking for donations for one right here on this blog in the very near future - keep it in mind). But if you can still pay your mortgage/rent you can afford to make some of these gifts for the ones you love. If you can't do about making a card and sending it via the Post Office? People don't get enough letters these days and you can find the price of stamps in your couch cushions.

Maybe this should be on Free Range Friday. but time is getting short and procrastination is too often the name of our game plan. Lucky for us, the gift giving part of Christmas here isn't until the first week in January so we have LOTS of time to be slow to gift. But for the rest of you...

Here is one sample of a bunch of great holiday cookie ideas. It is from a blog I'm growing to really enjoy, Closet Cooking. Who wouldn't want a dozen Cranberry, Pistachio and White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies ?

1/2 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/8 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried pistachios
1/2 cup white chocolate (coarsely chopped)

1. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl.
2. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
3. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl.
4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
5. Mix in the rolled oats, cranberries, pistachios and white chocolate.
6. Place the dough onto a cookie sheet one table spoon at a time.
7. Bake in a 350F preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.

Now how hard is that? Not so difficult! And someone will be absolutely delighted to be the giftee, trust me. Check out the rest of the recipes too; they look fantastic.

Next is one suggestion from the Old Farmer's Almanac newsletter...the only *expensive* thing is the dried fruit and if you get 2 GALLONS of the stuff, think about how many cute little canning jars you can fill up with that...basically this gift will cost pennies each, look pretty and taste yummy. Tie a ribbon around it and attach a tea bag and wa la...instant breakfast!

(The photo here, from shows Chocolate Chip cookies in a jar, another gift idea). Now, get to playing!

Christmas Granola

Yield: 2 gallon-size plastic bags or containers
  • 6 cups oats (old-fashioned, not quick oats!)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup wheat germ (buy "toasted")
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut (buy a bag of "flake unsweetened")
  • 1/3 cup flaxseed meal (whole ground) or sesame seeds
  • 1 cup pecan pieces (optional)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Dried chopped fruit--cranberry, apricot, etc. (Try "berries & cherries" Mariani brand)
Use a big roasting pan--or two 8 x 10 pans (or 9 x 10)
Spread the oats in pan and bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
Mix up dry ingredients in one bowl (excluding fruit) and wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then mix together, and put in pan.
Bake 20 minutes at 325 degrees. (After 10 minutes, stir.)
Remove from oven, drop in fruit, and stir very, very lightly.
Let sit, cool until very cold, take spatula, and chunk up a bit.
Store in fridge.
Ok, here are a few *not just food* gift making sites to check out and now you are on your own. Or even better, get some friends and/or family together and give a gift to yourself...time with loved ones, doing something fun!

Not Made of Money

Instructables (a really fun site with some wild projects)

Pioneer Thinking (no, it's not Little House on the Prairie)

And here's another something that is free to enjoy and get you in the spirit...


  1. are you baking my cookies yet?

  2. Oh great, now you ruined the surprise and I'll have to think of something else.

  3. while i mught be slow, i'm efficient. i just got to this page. more of mj, how freakin delightful...

  4. How freakin' nice to read that!

  5. Thanks MJ. I am into the sewing, crocheting, baking craziness that happens this time of year. However, I decided that I would make a $20 donation to the Heifer Foundation in the name of my grandaughters. For that amount, I was able to purchase a clutch of chicks (is that the right term?) for a family in need of a source of protein.
    Another fun source of gift makeing is:
    Let me know if you'd like me to ship some of the snow we're getting, in case it will help you get into the season! Mery Merry

  6. Heifer is a great group! Also, the Grameen Foundation (| Combining the power of microfinance and technology to defeat global poverty).

    I had no idea you were so crafty, June! What a fun sort of craziness.

    No snow please, but you could toss some pine needles my way, I need the smell BAD!

  7. oh, and thanks for the craftzine tip!