Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's The Thought That Counts, Right?

Each year at Christmas I like to make gift baskets with some homemade goodies for friends & family.  I go to the Dollar Tree & pick out a basket or container of some sort ($1 each!) and then I fill them with cookies, chocolate dipped pretzels, hand-made soaps, etc.

This year I got the idea to include something different.  I found a recipe for home-made syrup via someone's blog earlier this year (and I can't remember whose it was).  It is buttery & yummy!
Home-made Pancake Syrup
1 cube butter (about 2 Tb)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Bring butter, sugar, baking soda, and buttermilk to a boil for 1 minute.  Turn off heat and stir in vanilla.  (Note:  I have found it easier to wait to add the baking soda until the first 3 ingredients have already come to a boil.  The baking soda interacts with the acidity in the buttermilk and creates foaming.  Then I continue the boil for 1 minute.  You will want to use a large saucepan because it increases greatly in volume after adding the baking soda.)

Why not make and can a big batch & include these in the baskets?

I even got my friend Jamie in on the action.  It was gonna be great.  We were going to whip up a big batch, can it, and decorate the jars.

Easy peasy.   

Except that I didn't stop to check if canning was even possible until AFTER I had made the batch & had everything in jars.

Then I did some online research and found that canning items with dairy products is NOT recommended.  I was reading that it can actually be very dangerous for people to try this at home and that there have been deaths because of improperly canned products.

Well OK then.

We still ran them all through a cycle in the canner.  We figured if the jars sealed....great that might help the syrup last a little longer.  But, after it all cooled down we put them all in the refrigerator...and we had to hand them out to our friends and family immediately instead of waiting for Christmas.

 My friend Jamie

 Look at all those jars!

 These would have looked so cute in gift baskets.

 I used some tags from my scrapbooking stuff (which rarely get used) to label.

Also, here's another idea I wanted to share earlier this month but I'm just now getting around to it.   A mentor mom shared this idea at our MOPS group.  It's just Hershey kisses wrapped in a long strip of plastic wrap with tied between each piece.

The idea is to include enough candies in the strip for the # of days left until Christmas.  We started with 20.  I made 3 for each boy who is old enough to eat Hershey kisses.  Each day the children give a kiss or hug to get a 'kiss'.  We've also made it so that the children tell me one thing that they know about Christmas or about God before they give their kiss/hug.

At my son's suggestion I took this same idea to create an orange garland.  I had purchased a bag of tangerines that ended up being really sour & noone was eating them.  I hated to let them go completely to waste, so I sliced them, laid them on a cookie sheet, and let them dry on top of one of our radiators.

Edison was the one who thought it would be cool to wrap them in plastic wrap the same way we did the candies and tie ribbon in between.  The result was this garland...
The picture doesn't really do it justice...and I have since draped it somewhere else, but it really turned out pretty cute.

Have a great day!

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