DIY Gifts: Baking Mixes in Jars

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I’m being a good girl and starting to upload all my back logged projects. Yesterday it was the Gingerbread Cookies in a Jar. So since I’m in the ‘jar’ing mood, I thought I’d carry it on by posting these DIY Foodie Gifts in a Jar.

As you all may or may not know, I was staying with a friend in Vancouver a few weeks ago. And since she was going to put up with me, my husband and my rowdy boys for a full week I had to find an exceptional hostess gift.

I could have gone and gotten her something for the house or a gift card, but I didn’t know what her house looked like (it was my first visit) and I wanted to show her in advance how much I appreciate the mess she would be dealing with by having us over.

So, I made two personalised food baskets full of random goodies and treats. I’ll share the full baskets with you later but for now I’ll start with four of the baking ‘mixes in jars’.

My friend is not a big baker but she has two girls and I know she likes the idea of doing baking activities with them. So I thought ready-packed baking mixes would be perfect for them. And subsequently I spent a week on the net and Pintrest trying to find the perfect recipes. I settled on the following:

Bakeralla’s Cowboy Cookies

Peppermint Stick Cocoa from My Recipes

Quick Bread in a Bottle from Sunset

– Gingerbread Cookies – my own recipe

I didn’t have time to create and print professional labels so I settled for the hand-written variety. But once I added ribbons and assorted decorations they turned out pretty great. They are also extremely easy to make, are quiet impressive and can be easily customised to a favourite recipe or ingredients.

Just keep in mind that a multi-ingredient recipe with a variety of colours and textures usually looks best.

And needless to say, my friend loved them.

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Gingerbread Cookie Mix Gifts

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This is super late. But we’ve already established that I’m a lazy, procrastinating, ADD, disoriented mom, right?

Anyway, here are the gifts Adam gave to his teachers for Christmas. It took me awhile to figure out what to get them because I’ve never done this before. Do I get just gift cards? Or a gift basket? Something personal? Something practical? Bake them something? It was a huge stressful dilemma, which annoyed my husband to no end because everything to me is a huge stressful dilemma.

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Anyway I decided to combine a little of everything. I wasn’t too comfortable with providing something %100 baked. What happens if they think it tastes awful? I also felt gift cards on their own were way too impersonal. So I did a little of both.

I made gingerbread cookie mix jars with really cool copper cookie cutters from Chapters. I also included a $15 gift card from Starbucks in case they hate cookies. Because which teacher doesn’t need gallons of coffee? I know I would, if I had to deal with 22 7-year old kids day in and day out.

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And yesterday we got these thank you cards back. I know they’re standard etiquette and all, but it still warmed my heart when adam proudly read them to me.

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Holy Absence, Batman!

Inside the bathroom door at the Science Centre

Inside the bathroom door at the Science Centre

I’ve been absent for the past couple of weeks for the Christmas break. It was my decision (my husband forced me to) to spend some uninterrupted time with my family (his words not mine) and enjoy the moment.

But now that the moment has passed, I am so thankful that my winter break is over and Adam went off to school today. Although we went to Vancouver for a week in the middle, time off spent at home stuck with two rowdy boys is no vacation for me. So, my break starts now; I’ve shipped one kid off to school and one husband off to work and if I could just find something for the other kid, I’d be in heaven. Even though I have a house that resembles a pig-sty to clean and a ton of errands and tasks on my to-do list, I’m still so glad to be back.

Today I opened the blogger-sphere to find a mountain of reading from my favourite bloggers to catch up on and many stories to tell. I have so much to say that I actually don’t know where to start and will probably just end this post right here and now and start fresh tomorrow morning.

I will, at least, start leaving you with random pictures from my Vancouver trip.

And before I forget and say it any later than it already is;

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The Tale of the Fake Santa Claus

Adam & Santa at my DH's Family Christmas Party.

Adam & Santa at my DH’s Family Christmas Party.

I have a moral dilemma that has been pestering me for days now and I don’t know what to do.

You see, we don’t celebrate Christmas. We have our own holidays and they’re fun and exciting and as cheerful but there is nothing like Christmas with Santa, the lights, the gifts and excitement to get any kid in a frenzy.

So in recent years when Adam had asked us if we celebrate Christmas we told him no, but we have Eid, Ramadan and so on. And since he was in society that didn’t make that big of a deal over Christmas – he was okay. Until we moved here. And the question came up again.

“Mommy do we celebrate Christmas? Is Santa real?”

Oh what to do, what to do? Technically we’re not opposed to Christmas as a holiday. Come on it’s fun, it’s crazy, what’s not to like. We just like to foster identity and independence in our kid. We want him to be proud of who he is and what he has while accepting other people, customs and religions and helping them celebrate their beliefs. So while we don’t celebrate Christmas we still tell people Merry Christmas and hand out Christmas gifts to the relevant people in our lives. But Santa?

We have a strict no lying to the kids rule. I refuse to mislead them. But I also don’t want him going to his friends in class, telling them that Santa isn’t real and breaking their hearts. In the end we told him that we believe that he’s not real but other people believe that he is, and everyone is entitled to believe what they want.

Fast forward a few weeks to yesterday, last day of school, Adam came home so excited saying;

“Mommy, you know, I’m sure Santa is real. My teacher told me so” and not teacher would lie. H went up to his baby brother and told him,

“Jo, Christmas Eve is coming and Santa is going to visit and bring us gifts. We’re gonna have so much fun”. He then turned to me and said “Santa is real, right mommy?”

“Ugh, Umm, We’ll talk about this later.” I back-tracked quickly. The coward’s way out, I know, but I really didn’t know what to say. And more

I don’t know why I have this dilemma.

My husband alter that night told me he will not lie to Adam. I told him I didn’t lie, I just avoided the truth (which is something I’m very good at) to buy us some time.

Although when Christmas Eve comes along and there is no Santa and no presents I don’t know what he’ll think.

Tis The Season to go Shopping

It’s the week before Christmas, and it’s C-R-A-Z-Y with a capital crazy. Anyway, I don’t celebrate Christmas or at least I didn’t foe several reasons. First off if it’s for religious reasons,  I’m not Christian, and in previous years most of my Christian friends who I’d celebrate with were Orthodox Christian and their Christmas lies on January 7th. Second off culturally it didn’t belong as a part of Egypt where I spent the last 20 years of my life. Although the past few years I’ve seen a boom in Christmas themes and decorations all around Cairo, but that is pure commercial. It’s a call to buy, buy, buy. And therefore I ignored it. But now that I’m back in Canada I remembered the Christmases of my childhood and how magical they were and I’m beginning to soften. Me and my DH were even debating on getting a tree next year.

Anyway I digress. It’s the week before Christmas and everywhere is packed. So why does that bother me if I don’t celebrate Christmas? Well because I still have to get Christmas gifts for aDam’s teacher. Also I’m off to Vancouver soon and I need to bring a gift since I’ll be destroying staying at my friend’s house.

I pondered several times on what to get her and mentally crossed off every item in my list. I haven’t seen her house yet, so I don’t know her style sense – and if I’d ask her she’ll just tell me no gift. I could get toys for the kids but I feel that I need to make more of an effort and anything else in mind is too impersonal or just doesn’t fit.

And then I got it. I would make a baked goodies gift basket. I would both bake stuff and package pretty mixes for her to bake. I would also include gifts for the kids and a nice cake plate or cookie platter or something from Pier 1 (did I mention I love Pier 1), I also thought about DYI-ing a number of things to include but then I decided that I was going overboard. Which I have a tendency to do.

Anyway it took me 4 hours, 4 pages of scribbles, blood-shot eyes from staring at my computer screen for so long plus a three page shopping list at 6 different stores to plan what I would do.  But I was finally done and it was off to the busy, busy stores.

Finished my first stop without a hitch and headed to Walmart where I proceeded to squeeze, dodge and duck myself and Jo past hordes of followers for an hour and a half. Feeling a sense of accomplishment, I headed up to the cashier and spent another 15 minutes ringing my purchases.

“How would you like to pay?” asked the awesome and friendly cashier lady

“Debit please.”

In my card goes through the slot, beep, beep, input pin, beep, beep, declined.

What?

“Can I try again, please”

“Sure, honey.”

I re-do all the beeping and again a big fat ‘Decline’ comes through

The lady is starting too look at me as if me and Jo are a two band shoplifting gang and I meekly ask if I could try one more time.

But again I get the big fat rejection of a decline.

I ask her to hold my stuff while I head off to the ATMs, hoping that it was the machine, not me. But unfortunately the ATM decides to side with the cash register and refuses to give me my money.

I pick up the phone and call the bank and after another 15 minutes of verifying my contacts, the bank guy tells my tat my card has been comprised and that I would have to drive all the way to downtown before 4 (it was 3pm and my kid was due home in 20 minutes) to pick up a new debit card.

So now my 2 hours of torture shopping with Jo were useless. I have to drive 40 minutes to downtown tomorrow, pick up a new card and start all over again.

Oh how I love Christmas (I actually do love Christmas 🙂 ).