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rainbowgardener
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Christmas presents

It's almost November. For those of us who make most of our Christmas presents, it's definitely time to be working on it.

So I thought I'd start it off with something about things I have made for Christmas and hope other people would chime in with their own ideas:

home made soaps and candles scented with my essential oils

heat/cool neck packs (I don't know what to call these, but like this:

https://www.mainewarmers.com/neckwarm.htm )

Mine are filled with rice with sage and lavender mixed in. When you
heat the pack, it gives off fragrance from the herbs, very soothing.

Jars of herbs

Packets of home grown seeds

Home made herbal teas, mostly from my herbs (see recipes I have posted
elswhere)

Garden / flower photos framed for hanging

Baked goods in re-used cookie tins, including a variety of biscottis

Various knitted things, scarves, sweaters, placemats

Hand lettered plaques with nice sayings or poems (either on wood or just
framed paper)

Jellies/ syrups

Haven't done it yet, but I thought this year I would try lotions and/or bath
oils with the essential oils.

When I did tea bags, I put them in nice handpainted wooden boxes.

Last year I gave my son a nice wooden box full of mom's favorite recipes.

Many of the smaller things get combined into gift baskets (baskets are very cheap at thrift stores)

So what are you making for Christmas? :)

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tomf
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On our road there are four families and there is a tradition of giving a homemade gift to each other at Christmas. My wife bakes some thing nice usually cookies. I like the idea of seeds and plants as we all like to garden. Some times some one will make some thing and just come by with some, I have such nice neighbors. A week ago one made truffles, mmm good.

DeborahL
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Homemade gifts are my favorite. A jar of good jam over perfume? YES ! A quilt over a gift card? YES ! Crocheted/knitted anything over store bought sweater? YES !
And my address is... :D

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applestar
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I was about to post this as a separate thread but here might work, too?
I'll post a serious reply later on -- OK?

:>

My kids were playing and trying to sing "The 12 Days of Christmas" got stuck. So I was looking for the lyrics and stumbled upon this....


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbejNNCTr7k&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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Fig3825
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It's been a long time since I made someone something for Christmas. I have some natural talent when it comes to certain things - I've never studied auto mechanics but I have replaced brakes on a car and put a starter in one and was successful. I've never studied computer science but I'm quite savvy with computers, network setup and the like. I never took any art or woodworking classes, but was able to make this for my father for his birthday just a few months ago:

Sorry for the link, but I don't have these images hosted anywhere.

[url=https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150338082787982.356143.532032981&type=1&l=e96b3387b9]Banjo Stand[/url]

My father liked it so much he tried to get me to start a business making them and selling them to his banjo playing friends... I can assure you that while I was proud of my creation, I have no desire to spend another week hand sanding ANYTHING. :wink:

DeborahL
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Wow, I'd say those are great gifts !

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rainbowgardener
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Made 4 jars of lavender jelly tonight, some of which will end up Christmas presents...

Had a couple different sets of overnight company lately and served pancakes with purple basil syrup for breakfast. Very nice, people liked it, we've gone through most of one of those jars already...

DeborahL
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Basil syrup? Is it sweet ?

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rainbowgardener
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DeborahL wrote:Basil syrup? Is it sweet ?
Yes indeed, very sweet. For how much basil is infused into it, it really doesn't taste very strongly of basil. If you weren't told what it was, you might not be able to identify it. It tastes a little fruity, which is probably from the fruit pectin used to jell it .

I'll post the recipe in the recipes section, it is easy and works well for something to do with all that basil.

DeborahL
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I saw the recipe and thank you !

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rainbowgardener
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Currently up to 30 of my little canisters filled with 9 different herbal tea blends. Each with a label with my rainbow logo, the name of the tea blend and "a rainbowgardener product." Very cute.

Seeing how this is going, a little bit bigger canisters would have been good, but the next bigger size up was almost twice as big and four times as expensive. Maybe next year....

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rainbowgardener
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Very nice idea, my thing for herbs could be combined with your idea, to make herb bread (sage and rosemary sounds good and I have tons of sage I harvested). How do you wrap the bread to keep it fresh? I sometimes give baked goods like biscottis in re-used cookie tins. Do you think you could bake bread right in the cookie tin? ('Course then it would rise up over the top, so you'd still have to wrap the top, unless you did something pretty flat like corn bread, to be able to still use the lid.)

gumbo2176
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My wife and I do the same. She'll take different chocolates and melt it, use her candy molds and make Christmas themed candies. I'll sometimes bake herb breads, tons of chocolate chip cookies or make a nice batch of home made pepper jelly.

I think people appreciate something made by you more than something just picked up at a store-------but that's just me.

For the elderly that are in the family, I'll give them a card and offer a day of my time to fix things around the house, wash and wax a car, etc. That is the best gift I can think of for them.

DeborahL
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Gumbo, I'm a caregiver for seniors, and I know first hand what a welcome gift of your time really means.
Great gift !

gumbo2176
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DeborahL wrote:Gumbo, I'm a caregiver for seniors, and I know first hand what a welcome gift of your time really means.
Great gift !
You know what kills me?? Many of these seniors have grown grandchildren much younger than I am that they've helped financially to a fairly large degree over the years. These very same grandkids are not around to even do the slightest of chores for them to show some gratitude for the old folks sacrifices.

I guess I'm just getting more and more jaded in my interpretation of the younger generation as I, myself age. I won't lump all of the younger people in the same basket, but from what I've seen personally, I better have good insurance and hope my pension pays for my care in my old age.

DeborahL
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Yes, sadly, what you describe is very common. To a low income senior, getting a leaky faucet fixed, car washed, window screen repaired, or whatever really is a blessing. So is home grown produce and a good cooked meal.
If you can, getting caregiving insurance is a good idea for your golden years.

DeborahL
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Awesome, Marlingardener ! I'm going to ask my church about something like this !

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Runningtrails
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Homemade soap and baking. I gave my elderly inlaws muffins last year, four different kinds and a dozen of each kind - bagged and ready for the freezer. They have everything they could possibly need and 8 kids to get presents from. They eat a lot of muffins and really appreciated them for the freezer! Baking is a chore when you get close to 90.

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rainbowgardener
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Made up my first (small) gift basket today, with 4 little canisters of different herbal tea blends, one of my little personalized heart shaped tea strainers, and two different bars of homemade soap (lavender-mint, and lavender-vanilla). Other ones will have more different things in them, but it's a start!

tea strainer:



https://www.hansonellis.com/heart-tea-infuser.html

Mine have lavender ribbons and are personalized to say RainbowGardener Organic Teas. I'm becoming rainbowgardener in real life too! :)

DeborahL
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That's a great gift, RunningTrails !
Rainbow, my address is... :D

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rainbowgardener
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"it's starting to look a lot like Christmas..."

[img]https://i602.photobucket.com/albums/tt102/rainbowgardener/2011-Christmas.jpg[/img]

My Christmas basket production line! No two are exactly alike, but they mostly have 4 or 5 little canisters of herbal tea blends (an assortment), one or two bars of soap, one of the little tea infusers. Some have jars of basil jelly, some have spice jars of garden herbs, etc...

I'm now making rainbowgardener labels to stick on things to tell the variety (e.g. Organic Soap Lavender-Vanilla) and a brochure that tells the ingredients of the tea blends (for interest and in case someone might be allergic to something). They will be ready soon except for the baked goods, too early for that yet.

After Christmas all that will be cleaned up and put away and that will revert to being my seed starting area.

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rainbowgardener
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I've been pricing this stuff, just to get an idea of the value of what I'm giving away. Discovered that the company I bought the tea canisters from sells them filled for about $3.00 each. On Amazon, lots of people are selling bars of hand made organic soap for $9 to $12 each!

Man.. I should go into business! I figure the soap base bought in bulk costs me about $0.75 per bar and the rest is food coloring and my home made essential oils. I buy the little blue glass vials the oils are stored in for 60 cents each and the other cost for the oils is just all the energy use of my stove to distill them. The tea canisters cost me 60 cents each and almost all of what is in them came from my garden. (Of course the reason this works is that my time in doing all this is valued at zero!)

DeborahL
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I am so impressed by all the effort that goes into these gifts ! They look wonderful too.

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rainbowgardener
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Thank you! After all the labels are on, a brochure stuck in and any last minute treats added (maybe some of my lavender chocolate brownies just saran wrapped), the whole basket will be wrapped in saran wrap, stick a bow on top and they will be good to go!

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lorax
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I do edibles baskets, both as a business and for gifts. This year there are four kinds of maple-leaf cookies (gingersnap, mocha, chocolate chip, and maple walnut shortbread), three kinds of oatmeal cookies (classic, chocolate, and raisin), chocoholics, handmade pickles and sauces, salad dressings, nanaimo bars, and of course brandy-soaked Christmas cakes!

This is a sample basket; it's what went out to friends last year. This year's includes even more goodies.

[img]https://www.panaderiacanadiense.com/Images/Products/Baskets/Canasta-Grande-col.png[/img]

DeborahL
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You're both super talented ! I have no idea how to can, dry, arrange beautifully, zilch.
I'd rather receive one of these gifts than store stuff any day !
Once a friend made me a quilt and I just was stunned at the work that she put into it.

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rainbowgardener
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Christmas dinner menu

Thought I would tack this on to here. Here's the menu for our Christmas Eve dinner:

green salad
parmesan crepes with black mushroom sauce
asparagus with lemon butter
galub jamun (indian cookie balls in a rose-water saffron syrup)
white wine

Incidentally back around Thanksgiving time someone asked about what from the garden would be in our Christmas dinners. I said I thought I was doing well to have stuff from the garden in my Thanksgiving dinner, no way at Christmas time. But in fact we've had a mild season so far and there will still be fall planted greens for the Christmas Eve salad!

DeborahL
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That was me who asked. I should have said anything from the garden, foods fresh or preserved, and gifts.
The cookies sound wonderful !

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PunkRotten
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Wow RBG and Lorax make wonderful gifts.

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rainbowgardener
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Here's some of my new ideas for this year's gift baskets (I don't like to give people the same stuff every year):

Home-made wine

Home-made paper/ note cards

Pressed flowers

Photography

Herbed vodka, oil, vinegar

Planted cuttings/ seedlings

Potpourri

Garden imprinted candles

Herbal sugars

Wreaths

Home-made bath salts

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lorax
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RBG, have you ever made Limoncello or Arancello? I ask because if you've got access to citrus fruits (Lemons or Oranges), it's absurdly easy and a slightly nicer touch than simple herbed vodka (in fact, it's a beautiful aperetif liqueur).

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rainbowgardener
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nope, don't even know what they are, but I'm always willing to be educated, sounds interesting. :)

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lorax
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They're sweet aperetif liqueurs made in the following way:

The zest of fully ripened lemons (for limoncello) or completely orange oranges (for arancello) is stripped off (I use [url=https://www.outofthefryingpan.com/gadgets/images/citrus.zester.jpg]one of these[/url]) and extracted in glass bottles into high-proof vodka until the spirit turns a nice sunny yellow (lemons) or orange (oranges). The general thought is around a dozen regularly sized citrusses for every litre of vodka; I generally say that when my extraction bottle is completely full but not packed with zest, it's ready for the booze.

Once that's good and colourful, the zest is strained out, the liquor is filtered (I use a coffee filter), and [url=https://cocktails.about.com/od/mixology/r/simple_syrup.htm]simple syrup[/url] to taste, then additional neat vodka to bring the proof back up (again, to taste).

It's delicious - I associate the flavour of Limoncello with bright sunshine at the height of summer, since it's very like drinking very strongly alcoholic fresh lemonade. Limoncello and Arancello are meant to be served neat and very cold, the same way that you'd serve akvavit.

Edit - it's also between $30 and $80 a bottle for the really good stuff up there in the states, which makes it ever so much more rewarding as a gift.



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