Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Homemade Gifts and Blessings

We were so blessed today.
When Ri, T.Lynn, and I went to pick up our milk this afternoon, Mrs. Diary Farmer met us out front with a big bag of of grapefruit and oranges. I was so tickled. Then a couple of the girls called me (they were very excited) and told me that Grandma's pastor and his wife had stopped by and brought us some packages the church had made up for their shut-ins. I kind of understand bringing something for Grandma, but I never would have expected them to bring a package for everyone in the family, plus one extra. There were apples, oranges, tangerines, boxes of raisins, and of course candy in each of the packages. Just look at all this fruit!
Mmmmmmm! See, I told you - we are very blessed.
Isn't that beautiful? Maybe I should start giving out fruit. I sure do like getting it as a gift.

Homemade gifts are another good idea. We almost always give out several homemade gifts each year. Sometimes it's just packages of baked goodies, but those always seem to be greatly appreciated as well.
Here are some things we made this year.
Ri cross stitched a couple of bread cloths. The other was
the same pattern, she just made the line in green instead of red.
You can find the bread cloth material for as little as $5, and it doesn't take much thread. You can pick up an inexpensive basket; I've found red and greeen ones in the Christmas stuff, just the perfect size for a bread basket for as little as $1, and have a cute little gift for under $7. Or you could just wrap it around a loaf of cinnamon, or banana nut bread. We're doing that this year.
I knitted some dishcloths. I used this pattern.
I made all of the dishcloths above from the spool on the right, which started life the size of the one on the left. These large spools of cotton yarn costs less than $7 (and no, I don't mean it was $6.99). The colored yarn for the stripes was $1.99 for a small skein. You don't have to make the stripe, or you could make all the stripes out of the same color if you wanted to save a little money. I plan on keeping various colors around to use many times. A couple of the stripes were made from leftover yarn I had from other dishcloths I've made in the past. It takes very little of the colored yarn, so I have no idea how many of the stripes you could make from one skein. I have already made eight dishcloths, and I'll be able to make a few more out of the rest of the spool, so each dishcloth would cost less than $1 to make.

In years past I've also made cross stitched dish towels, embroidered pillowcases, dresses (for little girls, not for women because that would require fittings), decorative pillows, and the occasional craft. I also like to make cross stitched bibs, or hooded towels for baby gifts. A few times Ri has worked with me and we made matching sets that would have a hooded towel and a washcloth, or a towel and a bib, and once we made a set with all three. Home canned food is also a good gift idea. We've given away jelly, preserves, and apple butter, and this year I'll be giving my older brother some of the apple pie filling we canned because he really enjoyed the pie we made at Thanksgiving. After eating a piece he asked me for the recipe, but I told him that the only part of the recipe I could really give him was the crumb topping. The filling was some we had canned and my recipe makes 7qts of pie filling (add to that the fact that I don't really measure all the spices out - I just add and taste), so trying to cut it down for just one pie would probably be a shot in the dark. To make it a little more special, I decided to mix together the dry ingredients for the crumb topping and put it in a ziploc baggie with instructions on the outside, and then put that together with one of the jars of filling in a gift bag. All he'll need is a pie crust and a little butter and he'll be able to have another apple pie, this time hot out of the oven. 

Years ago I remember hearing my step-mother say that she loved to receive handmade gifts because she knew the person that made it had thought about her everytime they picked up the piece to work on it. That kind of stuck with me and I try to get around to making a few things every year.
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