15 Homemade Holiday Gifts
With the holiday closing in on us, I am sure many of you are doing the last minute gift scramble so prevalent in these final days before Christmas. Rather than throwing money at the wall and going with whatever it sticks to, instead of just grabbing another gift card from the big box stores, why not get creative and craft up some beautiful, thoughtful homemade gifts this year?
Drop the cottonball snowmen, leave the popsicle sticks in the popsicles and leave the salt dough for the kids. Finally put away, I repeat, put away the glitter. Spread the holiday cheer with some of my favorite sweet (but sometimes savory) and simple handmade holiday gifts.
It’s pumpkin spice season and before we dive head first into all the fall baking and making, let’s get down to the basics. Homemade pumpkin pie spice takes but 5 minutes to make and while buying a pre-made blend is just as time effective, I often find the pre-made blends aren’t made to my liking. It’s also more cost effective to make your own, especially considering you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry, already.
Other benefits of making your own: You can also make it in smaller batches, if you prefer, to keep it fresher, keeping it’s strong flavor, for longer. You can tweak the blend to make it to your liking. Adding even more cinnamon or nutmeg if you prefer, dropping the allspice if that’s not your thing, you can fully customize this spice blend to be your own.
I have a very serious question for all of you… how in the heck is September almost over? Actually, make that two questions, I also want to know where the summer has gone? The Autumnal Equinox is just two days away and I honestly feel like summer just began. It probably doesn’t help that it has been a very busy summer and I have been traveling for most of this month. 12 days in a row were spent away from my home as I explored Maine, visited my family in New York, then returned home to quickly leave a mere 12 hours later, to visit a ranch and explore the adorable small town, Julian, CA.
I always find the end of September and the start of October to be a highly charged time for me, with lots of energetic shifts. Not only is change in the air with the start of a new season, but the fall equinox celebrates the equality of light and dark. As the sun shines directly on the equator, we experience (nearly) equal hours of daylight and darkness, all across the world! How cool is that? Because of this, the shift into fall focuses our energies on balance and as a libra, this equanimity is vital to my very existence. I thrive in the balance and I find myself at my best, most aware and most creative at this time.
Over the past few weeks I have had many reminders, presenting themselves in many different forms, to “honor yourself”. It’s easy in the busy time of summer to get lost in a sea of plans, to constantly be honoring promises to others and to fill the long days with socially-charged commitments. Summer is so focused on putting ourselves and our creations out into the world, feeding them and encouraging their flourishing growth in all the light surrounding us. I find as we transition toward darker days, the need to pause, to go within and to harvest our creations from these previous months. This time of rebalancing of our lives is the best for shifing our focus toward honoring our self. Armed with this knowledge of this time, the readings, reminders and messages, I have been able to focus on my energy inward these past few weeks. I have started to give myself the room to honor me and it has given me the space to see much more clearly.
Beyond this balance and the start of this energetic shift, with this new season I also very much enjoy the very literal harvest taking place, of the foods we eat and are creating. Apples and winter squashes, warming spices, stews, soups and baked goods. After our trip to Julian, CA at the end of last week, a town known for it’s apples, I was feeling inspired to create an apple pie with the beautiful apples we brought back. I planned to create a grain-free pie reminiscent of the slice of delicious gluten-free Apple Boysenberry Crumb Pie I had from a small bakery off Main Street. As I finished the last few bites of this pie, I dreamt of filling my own kitchen with the spicy, comforting aroma that filled this tiny little gold-mining town. Sadly, mother nature had other plans for me with her 100 degree summertime-like temperatures. While I really wanted to create this pie to share with you, I couldn’t imagine turning my oven on and slaving over peeling apples and rolling out dough. I chose to instead create another recipe, honoring the swing season. This special, but brief time where summer and fall meet.