}]; Noreen's Kitchen: 12/01/2014 - 01/01/2015

Monday, December 15, 2014

Giving With Heart: The Best Gift Of All!

The time for gift giving is upon us.  Some of us are facing dire economic times and things may not seem very festive because we feel like we simply can't afford to give as much as we would like to or as much as we have given in the past.  I think we all need to re-evaluate our giving and spending habits!  Yes, without a doubt, it is lovely and wonderful to spoil those we care about and indulge them and lavish them with expensive things that they want and desire.  However, I think the time is upon us when we need to regroup and take stock and rethink how we do things.  We should be taking a page from the books of our forebears and our grandparents who lived with much less but seem to have lived much happier and simpler lives. 

Giving does not have to mean giving a lot of expensive stuff.  This should be a happy and festive time to share of ourselves and give from the heart.  It may seem trite and obvious, but a homemade gift is really the very best gift you can give.  Of all the gifts I have ever received,  I count the homemade, handmade ones to be my most treasured possessions.  A clay dog and A clay bear that my girls made when they were small and even though they have seen better days, they sit on my dresser.  A flower pot filled with tattered silk roses and a Popsicle stick recipe holder that I received one Mother's day.  A plaster "fish dish" that sits on my shelf and is where we put the money when the pizza delivery guy comes on "order out" pizza nights.  The special spice rack that you see behind me in every video introduction that my loving husband Rick fashioned out of my grandmother's cutting board.  A "scrap" afghan that my Mommom crocheted when I was small that is  full of so many colorful sections that she called it her "Joseph's Coat" afghan after the Bible story. 

Then there is the newest addition to this list which I am certain will continue to grow, is a gift I received this year, for my birthday.  You see, my family knows that my birthday is not exactly my favorite day.  I don't usually want to celebrate it, opting for a small observation.  My husband and my children always seem to find interesting ways to say Happy Birthday to me.  This year, my girls took a Mason jar and used a chalkboard sticker and some ribbon and some post it notes.  They wrote "10 Things We Love About You" on the outside of the jar and they each wrote five post it notes with messages of how they loved me.  Some were funny and some were sweet and some were simply touching in a very deep way, helping me to know that somewhere along the line, I did a pretty darn good job of being a mom.  This gift is certainly priceless. 

Giving should be from the heart, not from the wallet.  We live in a world where we always want the biggest, the best and newest stuff, and often when we get it, we find out that it isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Then the next big thing comes along and we start the process all over again.    Down size your expectation and reel in your idea of greatness and you can be a little happier.  Think smaller and simpler not bigger is better. 

Give a pan of brownies or a loaf of homemade bread with a jar of jam.  How about some hot cocoa mix or a beautiful bowl of seasonal fruit?  If you have some simple tools, you can use scrap lumber or even palate wood to fashion, rustic handmade keepsakes, like my spice rack.  You can take an inexpensive tile and pop some silicone bumpers on the bottom to make a beautiful cheese board or trivet.  Costs literally pennies and when wrapped up and given will be used and appreciated for years to come.  Every time a hot casserole comes out of the oven and placed on that trivet, the recipient will thank you and think of you!   The possibilities are endless!   Don't even get me started on what you can put inside of a Mason jar!  That is what we will be talking about next week!

If you keep a food storage and you want to keep your gifting on a strict budget, what better time to start rotating some of those number 10 can items than during the holidays?  How about a jar full of brownie mix done up right with nuts and toffee chips?  Pop a pretty ribbon on that jar and a tag with instructions on how to prepare it and that is a gift that can be made on a cold February evening when the snow is coming down.  Then you will be remembered as well as praised for such a delicious gift!  Make a delicious breakfast in a jar by layering some oats and dried fruit such as freeze dried apples or dried cranberries or bananas along with a handful of pecans or walnuts and again a bow, a tag and instructions on how to make some delicious fruit and nut oatmeal.  This is easily achieved when you step back and take a look at what you have chosen to store.  If you are like I am, you could make anything you like from sweet to savory.  Breakfast, lunch or dinner can be gifted!  Make a great basket up with a jar of homemade pasta sauce, a box of pasta and some homemade seasoning.  A jar of chili and a bag of homemade corn muffin mix, add water, stir and bake.  Who would not love receiving any of these gifts?

I have compiled a cook booklet with 12 "Gifts in a Jar" recipes to help you do this yourself!  You can down load it from my website here:  "Noreen's KItchen Gift's In A Jar Cook Booklet"

I can hear some of you saying, "I don't have a food storage and I don't craft, and I don't do anything cool what can I do?"  You don't have to make everything  yourself to make a heartfelt gift.  You can spend time with the people you love helping them to achieve a goal or complete a task.  You can simply spend more time, making a difference in the lives of the ones you care about.  The truth of the matter is,  all the stuff, is just stuff.  Memories are made when we spend time together.  Remember this above all else. 

So this year, give from the heart.  Give simply and give lovingly.  Embrace the idea of giving something that is useful and consumable, like food or drink.  This encourages people to share and sharing is what this season is all about! 

I hope this encourages you to fear not and know that giving great gifts need not be expensive when you take a bit of time to think about what really matters!

You can see how I made some of the gifts in a jar here: