Saturday, December 12, 2009

Handmade Holiday

Money is tight around my house. We've had to make certain sacrifices as a family for me to be able to stay home with the boys again, and the very first thing to go were frivioulous purchases and the extra money that would normally go towards them. We buy in bulk, we at home rather than go out, we use coupons, and Mikes picked up a second part time seasonal job to make Christmas a little better this year.

Better?? Yeah, I said better. I was so stressed out over whether or not we would have enough money to buy the kids presents and be able to put a decent amount of stuff under the tree for them and also be able to buy everyone elses presents (family, teachers, bus driver ect.) that I completely lost any bit of Christmas cheer that I had.

I made a vow to myself to quit stressing out and give as many handmade gifts as I could, because really the way I was acting wasnt fair to my family, especially Brayden and Gage who only see the magic of the season. I want to amplify that while they are young and still believe, not drag them down.

So thanks to a few wonderful friends, a bit of research, a few of my own crafting skills, and a whole lot of love I've complied a bunch of wonderful homemade gifts for everyone, and made my life easier in the process. - Not to mention that the love and thought put into a handmade gift can't be bought at your local mass merchandiser!

Handmade for the Holidays -

In addition to coptic stitched journals (or drawing books as far as my kids are concerned) here are a few other things that I'm making this year

Chocolate Chunk Hot Cocoa Mix (courtesy of Real Simple Magazine)

What You Need:
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup sugar
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine the cocoa, sugar, and chocolate. Store in an airtight container. Keeps at room temperature for up to 4 months.

Handwrite instructions on a gift tag or label:
“In a small saucepan, whisk ¼ cup cocoa mix with ¾ cup milk. Bring to a bare simmer. Serves one.”

Tie a ribbon around the container, looping it through a measuring scoop and the gift tag with the instructions

Yule Have A Ball Ornaments (courtesy of the fabulous AlyGatr)

Check out her amazing tutorial over at the Mama Dramalogues to learn how to make some of these gorgeous ornaments!

Not only did I make some to give away, but I also made a few to hang on our tree as well and have gotten lots of compliments on them, plus they are customizable to the colors of your tree!

Apple Pinwheels
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 8-ounce bar cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1/2 cup apple jam/preserves
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons Sugar in the Raw

1.Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and granulated sugar until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour, mixing until just incorporated.

2.Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and gently knead it 2 to 3 times, just to bring it together. Form the dough into two 1-inch-thick squares. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3.On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll one of the dough squares into a 9-by-12-inch rectangle. Spread half the jam over the dough. Cut the dough crosswise into thirds, making three 9-by-4-inch rectangles. Starting from a long side of each rectangle, roll into logs. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough.

4.Heat oven to 350° F. Slice the logs into 1-inch pieces and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1½ inches apart. Brush with the egg and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

5.Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.


Christopher And Tia said...

Amanda, I didn't know you were staying home with the kids again? I remember when you had posted about going back to work... you changed your mind?

Handmade gifts is the way to go! I stressed over the exact same things. We bought most of the gifts for the kids, from garage sales. Almost all of them, actually. With the exception of a rainbow brite treasure chest I'm making for Elie. And for my parents, rum balls, muddy buddies, peppermint bark, and photo projects of their grand kids that I put together. We might have enough money to go get my mom a snuggie, but... for the most part everything is homemade.

And those are the best kind of presents, I think.

Your family will love every bit of effort that you put towards giving this year. Bless your worried little heart for stressing over it all. It will turn out so much more loving than I bet you imagined it.

ElegantSnobbery said...

What an awesome collection of homemade goodies!! Your family is going to love it, and I always believe handmade is the way to go!!

Lizzie said...

What fantastic ideas. I think I will try some of these. :) May you have a wonderful season this year.

Nen said...

I'm trying to do a lot of handmade gifts as well... bags, PJ's and such... but I definitely think I may try a couple of the ones you suggested! I still have a couple of people to make things for... this might be perfect! Thanks for sharing!

Megara said...

this is a fantastic post... i love homemade gifts, and usually bake something to give to all my aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc who i never know what to buy for and want to give them something from the heart that i put some love into. i think these pinwheels would be perfect!

Fern said...

Great idea on the handmade gifts. Love it! :)

BlueTerracotta said...

Handmade gifts are the best! Your recipes look great. We love getting homemade jams and baked goods from family. I make Christmas cookies for my inlaws every year and this year I'm making bird brooches for my husband's mother and four sisters! Have a lovely holiday!