As the days shorten and the chill in the air turns our thoughts to home and hearth, take joy as winter approaches. It is indeed a more ‘peaceful’ time on the farm…gardening chores are mostly done, animals are ‘bedded’ down for the winter, winter woolies are taken out of storage… It is a well-deserved quiet season to reflect on friends and family.
As Christmas-tyme draws nearer, simplify your gift-giving with heartfelt hand-made gifts. If you favor ‘collectables’ as I do, such as crockery, wooden bowls & trugs, baskets, linens, anything made from tin – you get the idea – fill them with something that you’ve hand-stitched, knitted, ‘put up’ from the garden, jams and jellies, herb vinegar & oils with herbs from the garden…or whatever your particular talent or speciality!
Here’s a few ideas to use as a springboard to get your creative juices flowing:
For that special cook, a mason jar filled with your very own herbal ‘bouquet garnis’ for flavoring soup and stews. Prepare a blend of your fav dried herbs. Place 1 tablespoon of the mix in the center of a square of cheesecloth, tie with kitchen string and attach a tag describing the contents and a recipe or two?
A vintage canister filled with a special tea blend – add some of your own dried herbs, naturally!
Herbal bath salts presented in a pretty recycled cut glass jar. Use 1 cup sea salt, 1 cup Epsom salt, 1 Tablespoon baking soda, and dried lavender buds (a few drops essential oil optional) makes a relaxing bath. Or, add mint for a ‘re-energizing’ bath soak.
A fragrant potpourri in a bowl: 1 cup dried lemon verbena or lemon balm, 15 bay leaves, 1 crushed cinnamon stick, whole cloves, allspice and dried rind of lemons or oranges. Add a few sprigs of pine or cedar ‘greens’, pinecones, and such from the yard! Hint: Make sure they’re de-bugged – place in a zip-lock and freezer overnight!
An old stoneware bowl filled with new potatoes and your fav recipe for potato soup, potato salad, scalloped potatoes, etc.
Fill a bowl with spicy pomanders. To pomander fruit, select firm oranges, lemons, limes, apples, etc. Draw (or freestyle) a simple geometric design onto the fruit with a water-soluble pen. Use a wooden skewer if necessary to lightly pierce your design on the fruit, wash off the ink, and insert whole cloves. Add row after row of cloves until your design is complete. Makes a wonderful fragrant centerpiece or for wreath embellishments and lasts for weeks.
A bar of your home-made soap and a hand-knitted wash cloth, with or without a vintage ironstone soap dish, tied with ribbon or raffia makes a lovely gift! Who doesn’t use soap????
An old fluted tin lined with a pretty towel and parchment paper, filled with fresh-baked cookies! Don’t forget to add a tag with the recipe!
Pinecones dipped in bees-wax, add a cotton wick and arrange in an old wicker basket as fire-starters for the hearth.
No matter, it’s the heartfelt thought and warm sentiments in gift-giving…leave a comment if you have a special hand-made ‘gift’ idea or two to pass along!