A Handmade Christmas

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There is something about the holidays that brings out the creativity in me.  I enjoy making gifts for loved ones.  It slows the holiday frenzy down and I can savor time at home instead of rushing around. It’s fun to gather a group of friends to create together over a glass of warm cider, hot chocolate or wine.   Most of these ideas from the archives can come together in very little time and are easy on the budget.  Click on the highlighted link to get the instructions.   I hope you will find a spark of inspiration to create handmade gifts for everyone on your list.   Priceless.

Hot Chocolate On a Stick

The best hot chocolate ever and so adorable to wrap!

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Cranberry- Pecan Dark Chocolate Bark with Candied Orange for Gifting

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‘Tis the Season!  Candy bark is the workhorse of edible gifting. This dark chocolate bark comes together in minutes and looks fabulously decadent wrapped  for gift giving. Sweet cranberries and crunchy toasted pecans are enveloped in dark chocolate  to give the bark texture and a nice contrast in flavors.  Hidden inside is the surprise bite of candied orange peel to make the bark more interesting.  Strewn on top are more cranberries, pecans and the crowning touch:  a dusting of Fleur de sel.  The finished bark is beautifully festive.  For presentation, I filled cellophane bags with the bark and tied them with a cranberry~colored velvet ribbon. These were nestled inside themed birchbark paper cones with a sprig of evergreen tucked in(instructions for making the cones at the end). To save time, you can use commercially available candied orange peel or candied ginger.

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Dark Chocolate Dipped Apricots with Pistachios and Orange

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If you’re looking for a healthy but delicious Valentine treat, these dried apricot halves dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with chopped pistachios and orange zest are super quick, easy to make and hard to resist.  They make a great gift and are a gluten free treat any time of the year.

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Favorites of 2014

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The journey as a blogger has been wondrous but a lot of hard work.  My writing, photography and technological skills are continually evolving.  It never ceases to amaze me to see the map of the world light up in 88 countries where my little blog is being discovered and read in far away places or right around the corner from home.  Hearing from readers that I am a source of inspiration to them with a recipe, a project or a story inspires me to continue publishing the blog.  I thought I would end the year highlighting the most popular posts of 2014 as decided by you, dear readers.  Thank you for your enthusiastic support.  It means the world to me.  You can click on each highlighted title to access the link to read the original post.   Happy New Year! Continue reading

Snickers Banana Bread~A homemade gift from the kitchen

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There is nothing like a homemade gift from the kitchen. A banana bread loaf is a great offering as it can be served for breakfast during a busy season of entertaining.  It can easily be frozen by  the recipient to be enjoyed long after the holiday season, if preferred.  Adding your favoirte candy bar chopped up into the batter of your go-to  recipe is an indulgent addition befitting the holidays.  In this recipe I  added chopped Snickers bars as they have peanuts, caramel and chocolate, perfect partners for banana bread!  Decadent?  You bet!  At the end of the post I will share several wrapping ideas for the gifting of banana bread loaves.image Continue reading

Cranberry Almond Cookies with Double Chocolate Glaze

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As good as they are gorgeous!

As good as they are gorgeous!

These cookies are one of my favorites yet I have never encountered them anywhere.  I like to make them during the holidays when fresh cranberries are available but they are good anytime..  The red chunks of fruit and the white and dark chocolate drizzle make them attractive on a cookie platter.  Their texture is moist with the nice crunch of the toasted almonds. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Granola and 6 Great Gift Wrap Ideas

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Granola is easy to make and fun to personalize.  Although I have a favorite recipe I played around  to create a Thanksgiving version, minus the turkey, of course!  This blend is chock full of cranberries, pecans, pumpkin seeds, good-for-you chia seeds and is flavored with pumpkin pie spice and maple syrup. YUM!  image Continue reading