december baking tally

29 12 2009

*yikes*  For someone who was planning on making two Christmas treats only this year… there seemed to be a lot of activity around my kitchen during the past few weeks.  I was honoured and thrilled a few weeks ago when a friend asked me to assist her with baking desserts for a Christmas Banquet for a community which our church supports by hosting weekend breakfasts, sewing classes, family hair day… and numerous other activities and practical giftings – located in a lower income area of the city, consisting of many single-parent families… it was truly a treat, so to speak, to participate and serve this community through the yumminess of goodies.  And, so….. the baking began!  After that — well, I was kind of on a roll and there were a few other Christmas events on deck.  Not all baking successes, mind you — there were a fair number of mishaps, crispy bottoms, and complete failures.  So, for my records, here is a tally of Christmas Baking 2009:

4 batches Cranberry Bliss Bars = ~128 bars

2 batches Pecan Cranberry Squares = ~60 bars

6 Pumpkin Pies

2 Cranberry Cherry Buckle cakes

1 Best Banana Bread loaf

1 dozen Raspberry Bran muffins

2 pans Red & Green Rice Krispie Squares (cut into star and candy cane shapes)

6 1/2 dozen Oatmeal Chocolate Chew cookies from the Nutfree Gourmet cookie dough

2 dozen Oatmeal Raisin cookies

2 dozen Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk cookies

2 batches Christmas Granola

3 batches Parmesan Biscotti

2 batches Honey Spiced Nuts

a LOT of Chocolate-dipped pretzels

Skiers French Toast for Christmas Day breakfast

No wonder I’m exhausted!

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give meaning

10 12 2009

I wanted to follow up on a guest blog that I posted on Lovable Labels’ blog: Label Me Crazy! Taking a reduce-reuse perspective, I commented on a few tips to minimize the traditional holiday paper pile-up…. from holiday postcards to recycling kids’ art as gift wrap… making fabric gift bags to buying alternative Christmas gifts – gifts that don’t need flashy gift wrap.  I have really settled in to contemplating alternative gift giving.  My boys are still very young and our nuclear family is still in its infancy so it’s a perfect time to start traditions.  At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the priceless gift of salvation that he gave us.  Santa Claus (and I’m referring to the iconic jolly man in the red suit) is incidental.  To me, he’s kind of like Mickey Mouse – cartoonish, fun, you can get your picture taken with him and we might pretend that he gave you a present, but he’s just a character in a story that, coincidentally, is told at the same time as when we celebrate the coming of God to earth.  I just don’t want them to grow up anticipating presents, presents, presents under the tree.  I want them to learn early on that at Christmas we give – and we are intentional about being creative and giving to those who have more need than we do.

So, here are a few great ideas for alternative gift giving:

Buy Nothing Christmas – I think this initiative has had the greatest impact on me so far.  “Buy Nothing Christmas is a national initiative started by Canadian Mennonites but open to everyone with a thirst for change and a desire for action.  Buy Nothing Christmas is a stress-reliever, and more people need to hear about it… The point is to get people thinking. It’s an idea whose time has come, so get out there and make a difference!”  These guys have hit the proverbial nail on the head (and I’m not partial because I have a Mennonite heritage!).  If you go to their website and click on “alternatives” you will discover over 50 special gifts you can give that require little or no spending.  I have one of my own which I’m keeping under “wraps” … if you will pardon the pun!

TOMS Shoes – I think this is really cool.  “TOMS Shoes was founded on a simple premise: With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One. Using the purchasing power of individuals to benefit the greater good is what we’re all about.”  When Blake Mycoskie, Founder of TOMS shoes was in Argentina in 2006, he realized that he wanted to help children who wore no shoes to protect their feet.  Today, when you purchase a pair of TOMS shoes, another pair will be given to a child who has no shoes.

World Vision – “Canada’s Most Meaningful Gifts.”  For $30 you can give 3 soccer balls to children in an underdeveloped country or for $100 you can gift immunizations to a community.  It costs roughly $15,000 to drill a well that will provide up to 11,000 litres of clean water a day.  You can purchase a share in a well project for $2500.  We have friends who are raising money for this special gift by selling bottled water for $10 a piece… something you could bring to a party as a hostess gift.  How awesome to have a global impact and demonstrate ways our children can connect with children overseas.

My challenge to you: come up with one way this year to simply change your perspective on gift giving and re-orient to the meaning of Christmas.  Engage your creative side!