Posts Tagged ‘Gifts’

We have a few neighbors and friends that like to garden. One of them brought us some fresh onions the other day.

fresh onions

fresh onions

They were beautiful. A beautiful gift.

What treat are you enjoying from your garden or local farmer’s market?

Sincerely, Emily

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It seems that my list of bookmarks on my computer just keeps getting longer and longer, and I just keep adding to it. The bookmarked things ranges for herb websites to blogs of all sorts, recipes and crafty things I would like to try. (ya, I have heard of pinterest, and I should probably use it more, but it seems I get lost in time when ever I log in there)

Every time I bookmark something it ends up at the bottom, and the bottom seems to be pages and pages down there, so I started working on organizing the bookmarks and as I did that I came across things I had forgotten about (what a concept!)… so I decided to try to either do something, like a craft, each week or try a recipe or read a certain blog I bookmarked but never got back to.

I have a lot going on right now, so I picked a few simple things that wouldn’t take up too much time. I started with a bookmark. I figured it would be perfect for my niece that had a birthday this week. This was a super frugal gift, because I used some of those left-over scraps of paper that I save. I found the original on The Girl Creative.Book marks 1I tweaked the pattern for me and simplified it. The original bookmarks are cute, but my niece is 11, and I wanted something a bit more tailored for her.Book marks 3I picked out some designer card stock/scrap-booking papers that I thought that she would like (blues and greens) and made a few. Another niece likes hot pink and animal prints, so I made a few for her at the same time.Book marks 5This was a quick and easy project for me to do and it felt good actually getting around to one of those things I had bookmarked off the internet.

Do you have a long list of bookmarked things? How do you organize them?

Do you ever have things you want to try? Do you ever get around to them?

Sincerely, Emily

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Last fall when my niece was visiting us, we spent some time making cards (and doing many other things too.) At the end of our visit there was a lot of paper scraps and supplies spread all over my work table upstairs. My niece picked up a few smaller pieces of paper and asked about making some little cards with the left over scraps. What a great idea!

The tiny Valentine cards I sent to my two nieces were born from that idea. Using up the left over scraps.

paper scraps

I never throw my scraps away. They tend to come in handy at some point in my card making, and here I was digging through the plain paper scraps and designer paper scraps to make tiny cards. Now they have come in handy again.

For these tiny cards I used a heart-shaped punch and simply punches out the heart shape from the designer paper. I chose papers I thought each niece would like and tailored it to them with the colors. They can use these cards anytime of year to write a little note to a friend and it will be something special. YOu can even punch a hole and add a ribbon to turn it into a gift tag. The next time I do this I will cut the cards to size and punch out the design and also add a stamped element and let them each assemble their own like I did for my niece in this post.

Tiny Cards

Whether you use scraps of designer paper, old maps, scraps of fabric or even cards that you have received in the mail, this is one way to create another neat little card. A perfect way to reuse and recycle. I know I will be making more of these and including them in different gifts that I send to them.

Do you save scraps of paper or fabric with the hopes to use it later? Do you ever get around to using it?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.


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Are you inspired by all the great handmade gifts our writers have been making? We like to cook things for the ones we love as well! Here’s some handmade recipes for holiday giving!


Of course, sweets are the mainstay of homemade holidays, but this year I decided to go savory. Every year I grow tomatillos, make pints and pints of salsa verde, and then it sits on the shelf because no one eats it. Naturally, this year I decided I’ll make it in half-pint sizes, and then use it for gifts. I made 20 half-pints. When I went to check for this photo, I was down to 11; I think my husband has been eating it because of the nice small sizes. I used Rick Bayless’ wonderful recipe, and grew everything myself except the limes. By the way, this stuff is great on pizza!Salsa


Well, Xan has me drooling over her salsa verde.

With the successful zucchini growing season this fall, I (Sincerely, Emily) knew exactly what some people were going to be getting this year for gifts! Zucchini Relish!  I started making this recipe back in the fall of 2009 with a few zucchini from my garden (before the nasty borer got to it!) and more from the farmers market. Now I am thrilled I can use all of my own, homegrown zucchini for the recipe. I have not harvested my horseradish yet, or I would have used that too!) I found the recipe over at Homesteading in Maine and I also have the zucchini relish recipe posted (with permission) over at my blog too.

Zucchini Relish 2We love this relish on sandwiches in place of mayo.


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Short days, wet patio, warm blankets and hot mulled cider: it’s Fall, y’all which means TIME TO KNIT!

I’ve got two new knitting books checked out from the library for inspiration and am trying my hardest to finish this last pair of socks so that i can dig into Christmas projects and some warm clothes for personal use. On my list to make this season: mug coozies, leg warmers, fingerless mitts, mittens and a bunch of baby things like socks, bonnets and toys. I love knitting stuff for others, and love it even more when i get all those gift projects finished and can work on stuff for me! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

After all, knitting for yourself is the best way to learn. If you keep giving away all your finished knits, you have no idea how they wear: comfie, itchy, good, bad, long lasting, etc. My last project was an experiment that failed, and i’m okay with that. Plus, now i have yarn available for another project after i rip out this non-cowl.

What sort of projects are you looking forward to working on this fall? Do you knit, quilt or sew? Do you like making things for yourself or others more?

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It was a matter of course that the lucky one whose holiday (birthday) came around could expect a present from everyone in the house; and of course, one didn’t just go to the store and buy with cold money something turned out by a factory with no relationship at all to the young sister or brother. A loving heart and gifted fingers can produce a wonderful of little miracles.

Maria Augusta Trapp The Story of the Trapp Family Singers

One of the things I love about Chiot’s Run being in a northern climate is winter. I love the reduction in the amount of activity starting mid-November. This is perfect timing for those of us that like to spend time making holiday gifts for friends & family. This year I was wondering if I’d end up having time to make a lot of holiday gifts because I got a new part-time job at the beginning of October. Lucky for me, the job is one in which I’m encouraged to be creative and to make videos about the creative things I’m doing. Thus, it has allowed me to not only make some wonderful Christmas gift, but to make how-to videos and write blog posts about it. Here’s a round up of all the crafty things I’ve been making & doing for my holiday gifts this year.

Of course I talked about my calendars before, which everyone is excited to receive once again. This year I purchased 15 of these and just about everyone on my list is getting one.

I also made photo canvases featuring some of my photos for some of the members of my family (and I made some for myself as well). This is such a wonderful project and I had a lot of fun doing it. I made a how-to video for the Your Day Blog at Ethel, head on over & watch the video if you want to see how it’s done.

I also made a bunch of these little chalkboard and wooden tile gift tags for my gifts that I’m planning on saving and reusing year after year. A batch of these would make great gifts too or you could use them as ornaments for your tree. Using scrabble tiles to spell out words like NOEL and PEACE would be lovely as Christmas tree ornaments. Head on over to the Your Day Blog and watch this video about how I made these.

There are also a few gifts coming from my kitchen. Every year I make up a few batches of caramel corn and hand them out to all the people we come in contact with throughout the year; this includes the friendly people at the bank, library and post office. We certainly appreciate that all these folks do their jobs so well throughout the year we want to make sure they know how much we appreciate it!

I didn’t make all my gifts myself. The boy from the farm we get our raw milk from were making suet bird feeders this summer and selling them to raise money to be able to attend their uncle’s wedding. I purchased a bunch of these to give to everyone on my list as well. They used fallen branches from the farm and suet from their pastured cows. The suet is in the freezer and I’ll stuff the feeders a day before I give them out. I’m going to make some nice tags for them explaining where I got them and put a nice ribbon on them for gifting (I’m not about to wrap them since they’re so beautiful as is). I might tie a pine sprig to the top.

What gift under your tree have you crafted with your own hands?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, maple sugaring, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Your Day Magazine and you can follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

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As the holidays approach, I’m finding myself making mental timelines for gift-making. I’ve got lots of little homemade gifts in mind for this year, which is good because I’m pretty sure several of my family members follow this blog so they still won’t know what’s coming their way – just what might be.

The importance of a time-line when crafting gifts at home is that sometimes they take weeks to prepare. Jennifer’s post earlier this week is a perfect example of this; when making extracts from scratch it takes weeks for them to be ready!

Now, before I start, I’d like to (once again) stand up tall and proudly proclaim that I know I eat too much sugar. I have had a sweet tooth since I was an itty bitty, and I know that as a born-in-the-80s-midwesterner a lot of that comes from being conditioned by various marketing. Did you hear there are scientists who have now published papers on the highly addictive qualities of sugar? (Duh!) There are so many endorphin-producing addictive substances out there; I’ve just made sugar my addiction of choice. I do have a few guidelines for my sweet tooth, now that I’m older (and wiser? eh… maybe that’s a stretch); I only eat sweets that I’ve really thought about eating and I have to be aware of what I’m eating. I don’t impulse-eat sweets (salty snacks might be another matter). I also limit how much I eat at a time, and I try to spend my sugar-points wisely… I’d rather eat a freshly baked s’mores tartlet made from local and whole ingredients than an over processed ChipsAhoy!, that’s for sure!

I spent this morning working on some herbed sugars, and while it doesn’t take long for these sugars to be ready for use, the longer they “mellow”, the more infused the flavor will be. I figure by making them early like this, I can be sure they’ll be pleasantly infused and ready to gift by the holidays. Herb infused sugars are wonderful when used in baked goods and to top oatmeal (or grits!), and many people like to stir them into their tea or coffee to add a sort of ethereal high note of herb-scent to their brew.

My absolute staple herbed sugar is Lavender. Now, not everybody likes the taste/smell of lavender. It imparts a fairly floral taste to things when used heavily, and it can really turn people off of a baked good if they’re not a fan. I have found that when putting lavender into baked goods it works well to use lavender sugar because it helps to evenly distribute the flavor into the dry ingredients.

The simplest way to make a batch of lavender sugar is to crush dried culinary lavender into the finest flecks you can manage and then simply stir it into sugar (I always use cane sugar for this, and have found a few unbleached, fair trade, organic varieties that I really like.) This morning I used a mortar and pestle to crush my lavender, but in the past I have used a food processor and I think it worked a little better since it really pulverized the little blossoms into a fine dust. I prefer to use this method when making herbed sugars for people likely to use them in teas – I can’t think of many people who like to pick lavender blossoms out of their teeth. The mortar and pestle version works well for use in baked goods though, as the larger flecks tend to be less noticeable once baked into things.

I finished my little sugars off by putting them into small faceted jars for storage. You can also gift them in little waxed-paper envelopes, if you make sure they are stored in a dry place.

Some other herbs that work well with this method are cardamom, citrus zest, rosemary, mint and sage. (I was just reading that some people use monarda for this as well – I’ll have to try that one! I also want to try rose and maybe hibiscus as well.) You can also infuse herb scents into your sugars by tying fresh herbs into small cheesecloth sachets and covering them in sugar for at least 2 weeks. Just make sure your herbs are washed and their surfaces are dry so that you don’t invite any nasties to grow on their surfaces.

If you wish to flavor your sugars with extracts instead, that’s even easier! First, find a resource for all natural (organic, if you desire) extracts. These can be pricey and often entail shipping from long distances, which is why I tend to stick to making my sugars with actual herbs. Basically you can just put a cup or two of your sugar into a food processor and add the extract one drop at a time, pulsing between drops, until you get the desired strength.

Another popular flavored sugar is Vanilla sugar! I’m going to steer you back over to Jennifer’s post again, here. If you find yourself making vanilla extract, this is a fantastic way to reuse your vanilla beans and seeds after draining and drying them from your homemade extract. Jenn’s post also has some great resources for beans, which I have just checked out and I am totally going to do some experiments with various types of vanilla beans this holiday season. (I’m kind of geeking out about doing some sort of scientific trial!)

Anyway, vanilla sugar is easy. Simply slice your vanilla beans lengthwise, flatten and scrape the seeds from them. I used Bourbon beans, one bean per ten ounces of sugar (roughly 1 1/2 cups), and the scent wafting through my kitchen was enough to make me sit and muse for fifteen minutes before I remembered what I was supposed to be doing.

Stir the pasty-sticky-seeds into your sugar and don’t worry when they clump up. As the sugar draws the moisture from the seeds and redistributes it as sugar often does (is this capillary action? I know we have some scientist-readers… why does it do this?) Store your seedy sugar and the bean remnants in a jar and shake vigorously after a few hours. Let this sit for 2 weeks or so and then remove the beans and stir the seeds to evenly distribute.

Voila! Vanilla sugar!

So now I’m musing… what else can I flavor my sugars with? I wish there was a way I could impart the taste of apricots to my sugar, without using flavorings. Hmm… It probably wouldn’t be shelf stable, but hey – I’ll give it a shot!

Can you think of any other herbs that would be tasty when infused in sugar?

Want to read more from Tanglewood Farm? Check out Emily’s blog over at A Pinch of Something Nice where she writes about her experiences with her gardens and her livestock, her quest to become a cottage foods bakery and her adventures in leasing a small 19th century cottage and orchard in SE Michigan.


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One can give only so many scarves as holiday gifts. One gets tired of knitting scarves over and over again…


So this year I’ve created knitted jewelery for the ladies in my life. It’s been a really fun project and I thought I’d share it here with you first. (It will also be available on Ravelry later today if you like to keep track of your projects there.) Hemp cording was used in place of yarn, but I’m also using jewelery wire and embroidery floss to create some more delicate looking pieces.




Needles and Yarn: Choose your needle size and “yarn” gauge according to how tightly you’d like the finish project knit. A larger needle will result in larger holes between stitches. I used hemp jewelery cording; the black was knit with a size 3 needle, the tan with a size 7.

Slip on clasp for closure as you would beads.

Co2 leaving plenty of lead for jewel or charm.

row 1: k1, M1, M1, k1

row 2 :K1, yo, k2, yo, k1

rows 3,4,5 : k1, yo, knit to last stitch, yo, k1

row 6 : k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1

row 7,8 : k2tog, yo, knit to last 2, yo, k2tog

row 9 : k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1

row 10 : make stitches to continue row to the back of neck. Make last stitch extra loose to make closure for the necklace.

row 11: knit across, binding off in process. When you come to the end of the pattern, make the same number of stitches as you did on the right side. Allow closure clasp to remain on last stitch before continuing down to next row.

row 12 : (this row will bring you back down to row 11) k1, binding  off until you come to end of row.  Bind off last stitch by sewing through one stitch of original pattern.

Wrap extra CO lead to tie onto charm and pull through to make a knot. Add a dab of glue if you think it’s necessary.

tan hemp

Et Voila! A simple and pretty necklace great for any gift-giving opportunity.

Jennifer can be found over at Unearthing this Life where she blargs about living life in the slow lane.

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The other day I was making an egg in my cast iron skillet and thought about how I’ve always wanted to make myself a little hot handle holder for it. I had a few minutes to spare, so I grabbed by scrap basket and pulled out some felted wool sweater scraps. You don’t need a ton of fabric, so all those little bits that aren’t enough for other projects are perfect for this.

I cut out 2 pieces a little larger than my skillet handle and selected some thick blue thread. I wanted it to have that folky handmade look, so I hand sewed the word “eat” on the top and used the blanket stitch for the sides. This project only took me about 15 minutes from start to finish. This is a quick and easy gift you can make in the evenings while watching TV. Felted wool is perfect because of it’s insulation value and it’s fire resistant nature, although you can use other fabric just make sure you add enough padding to make it heat proof. I’m making up a bunch of these for all the ladies on my gift list, perfect for everyone because I don’t know anyone that doesn’t own a cast iron skillet! Just make sure the receiver knows they shouldn’t leave this on the handle while it’s on the lit burner.

I also decided to make a little felted wool cat for my pets. I cut out 2 triangles and two half teardrops and a long skinny piece for a tail (roll this between hands to make it kind of felt together so it doesn’t come apart). I sewed them together and stuffed them with those teeny tiny pieces of scrap wool that aren’t big enough for anything.

This project took me about 15 minutes as well. The cats loved it so much I could barely get a photo of it, they kept stealing it. These would be fabulous gifts for the cat lover on your list, make them a dozen little felted wool mice for their furry friends. You could also stuff with catnip or catmint from the garden if you have some for a little extra fun.

What are some great handmade gifts you’re making this year? Do you have any great ideas for using up little bits of scrap fabric?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.

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I love love love receiving and giving handmade/homemade gifts. There’s nothing more wonderful than the beauty of something that someone took the time and the effort to make for me. I also love taking the time to think of the perfect gift to make for someone else. With my family we celebrate “homemade” holidays. My sister often will give me jams/jellies or frozen corn for the holidays. Every time Mr Chiots and I enjoy some corn with our meals we are very appreciative of the time she spent doing this for us. My mom also gives jams and jellies which Mr Chiots LOVES on toast and freshly baked bread. This past year my nieces & nephew made me these wonderful stepping stones for my garden. Normally I’m not a garden ornament kind of person, but these are truly lovely and I love seeing them peeking out from between the plants.

I also love to make gifts. I know that I can make something that’s personalized to the tastes of my friends and family. This past year for Christmas I made our best friends a Frand Lloyd Wright mission style tree skirt to go with their mission inspired home. They have always had a very country kind of quilted tree skirt that they got for their wedding and I knew they would love something a little more in tune with their grown-up tastes. After searching around I found an image of an octagonal stained glass lamp that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for one of his clients. I knew it would be a perfect design for a tree skirt. I bought some velvet and some ribbon and set to work.

I even customized the tag so they would know where the design came from. They loved the gift and they love knowing that it’s a one of a kind piece that fits beautifully into their lovely home. I always like to include a tag that lets people know the gift was handmade. I do this to hopefully inspire them to make homemade gifts as well, and nothing sets off a homemade gift like a beautiful thoughtful card explaining the gift.

This past year for Christmas I made doll bedding for my nieces doll bed (which my sister found a garage sale for a few dollars and was giving them for Christmas). Mr Chiots even got involved by knitting little matching afghans for their doll beds. He learned to knit just for this project. They certainly loved seeing the photo of their uncle Brian knitting!

Our little nephew Orin requested a cape, and I knew right away that a store bought one would not fit his personality. So a reversible custom cape was made complete with wristlets and a mask to disguise himself. I don’t know if his reaction would have been as good had his cape not had his name on it. My sister said the next morning he was up early running around in his cape, and nothing else.

Now’s the time of year to start thinking about your homemade Christmas gifts. When you’re making homemade gifts you sometimes need a little extra time to come up with ideas and time to make them. I’ve started working on a few of mine already and I’m still trying to come up with good ideas for others. There’s nothing worse than realizing two weeks before Christmas that you haven’t thought of anything to make yet for a specific person. (I think one of Kim’s purses made from a sweater would be a great gift idea)

Do you appreciate handmade/homemade gifts? Do you have a favorite handmade/homemade gift you’ve recieved?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.

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