Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas Craft - Handmade Cookie gift container!

Every Christmas one of the things I look forward to the most is baking.  Even though Christmas time is so busy and we're all running around going to parties, catching up with old friends and family, shopping and cooking, sometimes it's nice to slow down and bake!

Every year I'm a part of a Cookie Exchange with friends, where we each make many dozens one type of cookie.  Then we get a dozen of everyone else's cookie that's a part of the exchange.  It's fun because you're only baking one type of cookie, but end up with 4 or 5 types back, depending on how many people are in the exchange.  But this post isn't about Cookie Exchanges, it's about an idea for making a festive container to hold the cookies and give them as an edible gift!

Since I've been supplementing nursing with formula and solid foods I've had a lot of formula containers that I thought I could reuse for something.  At Christmas time I thought, why not use them to hold edible gifts like cookies or candies.  By using the container you can keep the cookies, etc. fresh and give them in a cute container that the person can keep.  So here's how I did it:

Step 1: Clean the empty formula container and rip off the label.  I left the sticky strip on the container that held the label on because it would help to hold on the Christmas paper in the later step.

Step 2: Cover the container, not including the top in white glue.

Step 3: Cut out a piece of Christmas wrapping paper to fit the tin.  Wrap the paper around the tin and make sure it sticks well to it and has the least amount of wrinkles as possible.  It's easier when you have better quality, thicker paper, because then you'll have less wrinkles.

Step 4: Optional -I painted a light coat of gold paint on top of the wrapping paper because the paper had a few wrinkles I wanted to minimize.

Step 5: Decorate the top with any Christmas-related crafty felt or "bling" or anything like that in Christmasy colours like red, green, gold or silver.  I chose to glue on some red and green stars, and "bling" that I picked up at the Dollar store.

Step 6: After waiting for everything that was glued on to dry and set, all you have to do is add some tissue or wax paper into the tin and put in your edible gift - cookies, chocolate, bark, etc.

And there you have it!  A nice handmade container to display the great baking you did and that is part of the gift!  You upcycled a container that would have ended up in the garbage and made it cute and useful.  Merry Christmas!!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Easy & Quick Christmas Craft! Photo ornament!

I love making crafts, using my creativity and reusing or upcycling things I have around the house so they don't get wasted.  Since I have started feeding my son solid food (mush!) I have so many small glass baby food jars around the house.  I've recycled a number of them and then kept some for a future project when I got inspired and had an idea finally.  The jars sat on my kitchen counter for around a month until I thought, I don't have to use the whole jar, why not just the top? And then I thought of adding in a photo of my son's first portrait sitting when he was 5 months old, and from there I made a Christmas ornament.

Step 1: Paint the jar top with a "Christmasy" colour of your choice, red, green, metallic...I chose gold since that was a paint colour I had on hand and it's a colour commonly used to decorate at Christmas time.  I just picked up that paint at the Dollar store.  Paint at least 2 coats to ensure the boring original silver and any writing on the jar top is fully covered.

Step 2: Cut the photo you intend to use into a circle that will fit the jar ornament.  Make sure the photo you choose makes sense with the size of the jar top.  The faces should be a good size so you can see them from far away, so not to small or too large.

Step 3: After you have let the paint dry fully, fill up the jar top with something you have on hand, such as a few pieces of cardboard or pieces of folded paper, etc.  I used a piece of styrofoam that I cut to fit the jar top.  After filling up the jar top up to the rim, spread some glue on it.

Step 4: Glue the photo on the jar top.  In order for the photo to fully adhere I put something heavy like a book on top of the ornament and waited about an hour before going to the next step.

Step 5: I glued some small coloured "bling" around the edge of the ornament to partially frame it.  I used red and green Christmas colours.

Step 6\: Cut a piece of  ribbon that is long enough to wrap around the jar top and have some ribbon leftover to create a loop that can help you hang the ornament on the tree.  I added a small bell to make the loop look more festive when it is on the tree.

And "tada" you have a personalized photo ornament you can be proud to add to your tree or give as a gift.  I think I'll make one every year with the annual portrait I'm going to get of my son!  So happy crafting and let me know if you make this craft and how it goes!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Taste of the Season Niagara Wine Tour: Part 2

After much travel to twenty-eight different and unique wineries in Niagara on the Lake, I was full, feeling no pain and ready for the cold weather and holiday season.  On our 1 hour ride home, thankfully driven by our designated driver, we talked about the highlights of all the different pairings and which ones stood out for us.

Since I've been going on this wine tour annually I've learned a lot more about wine, but still haven't caught up to his knowledge and I'm all about how does it taste to me, do I enjoy it, is it paired well with the food.  The pairings I like are mainly based on an immediate emotional and physical reaction, not analyzing the wine or food too much.

My Top 3 Pairings

3. Cattail Creek Estate Winery - 2009 Pinot Noir paired with Wild Mushroom and Pancetta Ragout, topped with crispy onions- What can I say?  I'm a sucker for crispy onions...and bacon or pancetta, so this sounded great from the start.  I like mushrooms, if they're not the regular white, button kind, so the fact that wild mushrooms were part of this recipe also made it great.  It was such a great combination of flavours, and textures and when paired with a red wine made it even better.  The earthy flavours of the mushrooms with the salty pancetta and crispy onions were more than enhanced by the wine.  At first glance, since the only meat in this recipe is the pancetta, I thought a white wine would be a better choice, but after tasting it, the Pinot Noir was a perfect choice!  Now I have to learn how to make crispy onions!

2. Riverview Cellars Estate Winery - 2011 Riesling paired with Vegetarian curry - When I think of white wine pairings I think of pairing it with chicken, fish or vegetarian meals.  Seeing this pairing of vegetarian curry and white wine peaked my interest because it sounded like a great idea from the start. It was fabulous because the vegetarian curry had just the right amount of spiciness and the white wine was crisp with a little sweetness so it was refreshing after the spicy curry.  I'm going to try to recreate this recipe at home because I liked it so much!

1. Inniskillin Wines - 2008 Vidal Icewine paired with Asian Inspired Chicken Wings- Sometimes the pairings that sound the simplest turn out being the best, as with this pairing, in my opinion.   We arrived at the winery when they were making fresh wings, just out of the kitchen which was even more of a treat and I'm sure added to their fabulous taste.  The wings weren't greasy and they had a tangy, salty, sweet glaze on them, but they weren't over sauced.  Pairing the wings with the Icewine was ingenious because it highlighted both the sweet and salty flavours.  The Icewine was fabulous and complemented by a specially made Icewine glass.  The glass would allow for you to drink the Icewine and have it hit the back of your mouth not the tip of your tongue, which would make it come across as too sweet.  It was such a well done, not over done pairing.  I'd love to have the recipe to the wings too!  

Most Unique and Memorable - The most unique and memorable treat at the tour was the Ice wine slushie at The Ice house!  It was so decadent because ice wine is so sweet and the perfect chill just makes it better. So and ice wine slushie was such a cold, sweet treat.  At The Ice House you could get your pairing with a tasting of ice wine in a regular cup or as a slushie.  I chose the slushie!  Next time I serve Ice wine at home I'll have to try to make it a slushie and the Christmas season may just be the time to try this out!

All in all, there were so many great pairings and wines this year and I can't wait until next year.  I might try out the Wine and Chocolate festival in February or wait for the Wine and Herb festival in May.  All I need is to get a babysitter again and start planning and dreaming!