Friday, October 25, 2013

Handmade Holiday-It Is Not Too Soon

As I scanned Lisa Robertson's Facebook page, this stunning display of Mums caught my eye. The  glorious range of Fall colors make even the most gray day light up.Lisa Robertson Facebook Page

Do you know what else it does? It marks the visual reminder, to me, to get in Holiday Gear. Not to obsess over Handmade gifts, but I am a slow worker and some things need to be in the queue. Thanksgiving tends to get lost in the Christmas/Hannukah madness. Such a special day needs to be returned to its original intent, not as the gateway to the commercialization of Christmas/Hanukkah.

Our first snow flurries drifted down this afternoon. Just a few, like a fluffy white reminder.
With American Thanksgiving only a few weeks away I am reminded that Hostess gifts need to be planned, sourced and sewn. Years ago I made embroidered bread basket liners. Well received with a special basket filled with dinner rolls, I am thinking this might be a good repeat option. A special Tea Towel is also well received.
sweet basil
Sweet Basil in crumbled and whole leaf form, dried, packed and ready to go.
I am fortunate to spend Thanksgiving with Son and DIL. I contribute but they do the big cook. We have a rather large group in attendance that includes 4 families, assorted friends and friends of friends and anyone any of us drag along. We should wear Pilgrim clothes!

Next week I will show you my Handmade Holiday Hostess Gift of Choice. This Friday I want to  remind you to make a list if you have not already done so. By prioritizing your projects you are less  likely to get frantic as the Holiday approaches.

For family I like to present freshly dried herbs from my garden. I just picked the last parsley. After drying I pack the herb in little jars or in pottery for that special collector. Because time is required to dry the herbs properly, now is a good time to start. I will harvest the last of the Rosemary today.
  1. Step number one, after picking of course, is cleaning. I rinse each stem under running water then immerse them in a sink full of slightly warm water. To each sink of water I add 1/8 cup of Kosher salt. Many years ago a wise lady told me that this process discourages any unwanted critters who may be hanging out under the leaves. Swish and soak, drain and rinse again. I let them air dry on baking sheets with towels to drain off most of the water. 
  2. In small batches, on paper towels I put them in the microwave for 30 seconds. Depending on absorbed moisture a second 30 second cook is usually necessary. But be careful here. Do not over-dry, a burnt aftertaste will result. (ask me how I know this!) 
  3. Next, on baking sheets lined with either paper towels or linen-no lint kitchen towels, spread the almost dried herbs in a single layer for the final dry. Usually this takes one to two days. The microwave step really reduces the over all drying time.
  4. Next cfhoose your container. I purchase these little glass jars at IKEA by the dozens. Yes, I really do and I like to label them with a P-Touch. The cook will appreciate that. If you have a recipient who collects pottery why not add a small piece to her/his collection at the same time? A charming Mason Jar crowned with a lid trimmed with ribbon or fabric is always welcome.
* ps,    I am a bit of a germ-a-phobe so let me explain how I pre-treat my sink before the soak. I scrub all sides, drain and drain cap with an abrasive sponge. (new sponge) Then rinse and spray with Clorox Clean up Spray. I let that dry on the surface, it leaves a cloudy residue by the way.  Then with very hot water I rinse away all traces of the Clorox before filling the sink. If this sounds a little over-the-top I will refer you to a recent Dr. Oz show where some poor womans 'clean' sink was cultured and you be running for the Clorox, just saying.


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