i didn’t want to leave the blog so gloomy over christmas, but it turns out to be another gloomy day. my aunt ellen passed away this morning after struggling the last few months with an aggressive form of brain cancer. i dedicate this post to you aunt ellen. ellen was a happy, beautiful, and lovable person. she was giving, creative, and a great cook. RIP in aunt ellen. my heart goes out to my uncle mike and cousins joni and anthony.
before all this sad stuff happened, i was actually getting in the christmas spirit. i have been kind of a grinch in the past and i haven’t spent christmas with my family in two years. last year, i even spent it by myself. oddly enough, i still got in the spirit and reflected on what it meant for me. i think it prepared me for spending it with my large family again. being so large, we don’t always exchange gifts and the kids usually do so with just the kids. since, i have no kids and didn’t have anyone to buy for ( my parents are always saying don’t get them anything), well, i just couldn’t settle for that this year. i was in the giving spirit, feeling excited to give and to create gifts. plus, while i was at home trying to nurse little lola i started recording all those good christmas movies like love actually, the holiday, the family stone, and scrooged and i was getting in the christmas spirit. just a few of my favs.
i decided that i would make gifts this year for the adults and find some silly gifts for the kids, but some pretty cool native american stuff too. i made little medicine bags for the little ladies and found some really cool geode rocks for the boys you crack yourself at the local gem store by my new house. i have to admit, i am excited to see what’s inside.
my sister did something similar a few years ago making all sort of yummy homemade treats. i was trying to figure out what to do that would be cheap and still “classy” hopefully using things from around the house that i already had. check out the recipes and techniques below! only thing is, if my siblings read my blog they know what they are getting for christmas, sorry guys!
chocolate bark with almond, dried cherries, lavender, and sea salt
got a bag of chocolate chips and some nuts laying around the house? melt the chocolate in a double broiler on the stove. spread it into a square shape on some parchment paper. top with any toppings you might have in the house. i tend to always have nuts and some sort of dried fruit. i used semi-sweet chocolate topped with roasted almonds, dried cherries, culinary lavender, and sea salt. let the chocolate harden and break or cut into pieces. package as you please.
orange and lime zest sugar
roasemary, sage, thyme sea salt
other easy on the wallet ingredients are sugar and salt. herbs are a bit more pricey, unless you grow them yourself (man, i miss that LA garden), but citrus is a pretty cheap way to go! i infused sugar with lime and orange zest and sea salt with rosemary, sage, and thyme. i luckily had some herbs leftover from other recipes. i chopped em up and layered them with the sea salt in a cute little jar. set aside in a cool dark place to infuse. for the sugar, zest your citrus and layer the sugar and citrus as well in a jar. you can use the inside of the fruit to make a compote or jam as well…never letting it go to waste! i thought the lime/orange zest sugar would be a tasty add to a cup of coffee. the salt, good on most anything savory and hearty. you could also do a lime zest salt for margaritas!
rosemary infused olive oil
lavender body oil
infused oils! easy as pie. i found the oil dispenser at world market. heat up olive oil with rosemary just until the oil gets warm. set aside to cool and pour into a container. for the essential oils, i have been wanting to make these for a while now. on my europe trip a few years ago i bought some essential lavender oil. i also had some jojoba, almond oil, and vitamin e around for personal use. i combined all four of these ingredients into bottles that were actually from lola’s meds from a few years ago. i obviously sterilized the hell out of them. i just love the brown glass and eye dropper tops. i clearly, save a lot of bottles!
i also had a bottle of vodka hanging around for quite sometime. i decided this was another easy and cheap thing to do since i didn’t have to buy any vodka. to make i combined one bottle of vodka with the zest of 5 lemons in a container. set in a cool dark place to sit for 5 days. strain the zest from the vodka. next, combine 1 1/2 cups of sugar with 3 cups of water and boil until the sugar dissolves. let it cool and add to the vodka. jar it as you like. again, i had these bottles hanging around the house.
holiday music mix
make a playlist. it could be christmas tunes, it could just be anything the person likes. i made a playlist of christmas music since i was in the spirit.
below is a bad picture of the little medicine bags i made for my nieces.
and my gift to you…a christmas music playlist on spotify. click the link below to listen. some of my favorite xmas tunes from john denver, dolly parton, low, bird and the bee, she and him, neil diamond, aimee mann…just to name a few.
merry christmas guys! i hope your families are healthy and happy!