Monday, October 24, 2011

Holiday Gifts on the Cheap

It's almost the end of October.  I took inventory of the gifts I have on hand for the upcoming holidays.  I listed all the people and have 30+ people to give gifts to.  That is a lot but that's the way it goes with a large family - grand kids, kids and their spouses, brothers and sisters, mom, and a few friends.  Girl and boy get more gifts from me than the other grand kids because they don't have parents to provide for them.  Throughout the year I purchase things for people if I see something that fits them perfectly and is not too expensive.  For example, last year a niece going off to college got a first aid kit.  This year she is going to get mace that looks like a tube of lipstick. She can carry it when she runs. 
Not everyone gets purchased gifts.  In fact, most get home made gifts. 
One of my favorites is hand towels and kitchen towels.  I buy the cheapest of the cheap hand towels at Walmart/Kmart/Target.  I get them on sale during the January white sales.  At the same time I get end of season holiday fabric.  I cut a strip of the fabric, fuse interfacing on it and then sew it to the hand towel.  I also have college team fabric and do the same thing.  It makes great gifts for under $3.00 each.  I am going to do the same this year.  Perhaps when I get one done I'll post a picture.
I also bake fruit and vegetable breads as do most survivalists, gardeners, and preppers.  Examples are zucchini bread, banana bread, and our fall favorite chocolate chip pumpkin bread.  You can bake these in a pint size wide mouth straight sided canning jar.  Grease the side and bottom of the jar as you would a cake pan.  Do not bring the grease too close to the rim or get any grease on the rim of the jar.  Make your recipe as normal and pour your batter into the jar rather than baking it in a loaf pan.  You will need to experiment to know how much to pour in.  You want the top of the loaf to come just below where the lid would be if the lid were on.  Do not bake with the lid on! 
As soon as it is done baking take it out of the oven, wipe off the rim, then put on your canning lid (that you have prepared in hot water) and loosely tighten the ring. If you put in too much batter and the loaf bakes up higher than the top of the jar don't worry!  Just cut off the top of the bread so it's below the rim.  Let the jars sit on the counter to cool.  Soon you will start to hear that familiar ping of the sealing lids.   The cake or bread will last a long time, even until the next year, although I'm sure it will be eaten long before then.
That's two of the gifts I'm giving this year.  More to come soon.

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