A homemade Christmas

I confess to being a bit of a Christmas nut.  I love so much about the season; the sights, the smells, the songs and the food.  With my family scattered as a child, it was one of the times my family entertained.  I remember one particular Christmas in Colorado where we had a blizzard that culminated with our cul-de-sac having festivities at our house since no one could drive anywhere.  It’s always been for me my most favorite of holidays.

One of the best things for me is gathering Christmas gifts to give.  I love to give them.  I have, over the years with kids, on occasion bought the gift card when either shipping fees overwhelm me or when the recipient is truly wanting cash, but most of the time I am on the hunt for the perfect gift for those I love.  With little kiddos at home and working on a single income by choice, the “perfect gift” has to fall within a certain price range.  For the last 2 years I have done well finding online clearance deals to store and use for presents, but they are typically kids gifts.  Adult gifts are harder in a smaller price range.  I have always wanted to make things for gifts for Christmas for friends and family, but often don’t plan or prepare far enough in advance to make what I would like.

Except for this year.  With my successful adventures in canning, and finding out others like what I’ve canned, I’m gearing up for a homemade Christmas gift-giving this year.  The first is my mind-blowing discovery of homemade vanilla extract.  Does anyone else go nuts buying small amounts of good vanilla for eight dollars?  This is revolutionary.  I’m making a large batch and gifting it out.  The beauty of it is if you put a part of the bean in the gift-giving jar, the recipient can occasionally add more vodka to the container as they use it, allowing them to use that single jar of vanilla extract for up to a year!  How cool is that?

My other homemade gifts are going to follow my new-found foodie kick.  On the menu are canned homemade peach pie filling and apple pie filling.  I am so excited to give this out so they can be enjoyed in pies, on waffles or pancakes, oatmeal or over ice cream.  I was bummed that I missed the end of our blueberry season, since I had several who liked my blueberry syrup but hopefully these will be just as well received.

My last gifts, for the few enjoyers of a good alcoholic beverage, are going to get this sweet little concoction.  Beautiful right?  I will have to make my own in the next week or two, so I can (ahem) try it before giving away, but I’m looking forward to both a pretty and delightfully unique gift for the few in mind for this treat.

It may be 90 degrees here in Southwest Florida, but it’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas.


Sleeping Beauty

Occasionally I haunt my children while they sleep with a camera. It’s one of the few times, with their faces relaxed and silliness gone for a moment, that I can still see the baby face and see the coming features of my young men and lady. Time is racing by even as each day can slow to a crawl. I am both saddened by the coming end of my kids as little ones, and yet thrilled and eager to see what the coming ages bring.

It’s a new season of raising kids…gone are the diapers, strollers, baby toys and baby-proofing. It’s best friends, crushes, jokes, and constant questions instead. It’s sleep-overs, play dates without me, and “Can I do chores for some money”? Yet, in the quiet of the night, with all my sleeping beauties dreaming…I can still hear the baby giggles, cries and the happy sounds of their snuggles. Sleep, little beauties, sleep.


I have a sick and twisted confession to make.  I’m really bummed Tropical Storm Isaac flopped for our area.  It’s probably a common hidden thrill  for many who live in areas that are frequently battered by hurricanes.  I thrill of hearing the storm, the winds, the wonder what it will all look like after.  I’m like a dog on the hunt, hourly watching the tracking updates to see where it’s going, how bad is it likely to get, etc.  If we are going to put up shutters for the risk, I kinda want to know that it’s worth the trouble.  I know, I know.  It’s sick.  There are dozens of storms that have done severe, crippling damage…one of them I was full term in my first pregnancy through.  I vividly remember making the decision to stay home instead of going to the hospital, filling up tubs in case I went into labor.  I didn’t and was escorted in to my scheduled C-Section 3 days later with armed National Guard at the hospital doors.  There’s a fine line between a thrilling “hurricane party” storm and one that is a nightmare but in the end today, I cannot deny I was bummed that we didn’t even get tropical storm winds.

We’ll be slowly taking down the shutters and my thoughts and prayers will be for the Gulf Coast where they may be getting a much larger storm.  I certainly don’t wish disaster on anyone, no matter how much I’m twisted about being in a storm myself.  It is my hope that Tropical Storm Isaac will not be a major damaging effect for you all.  God bless and keep safe!