Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is such a beautiful day of the year regardless of the weather! For a brief moment in time, we cease normal daily activities and concentrate on love, family, and friends.  We focus on the meaning of Christmas.

Many of us are blessed to spend Christmas with the people we love the most.  When our loved ones can't be with us, we call them, Zoom or Skype with them so we can still share that day with them.  We stay connected with them while we open gifts, sing Christmas carols together, or even eat our separate meals together.  

We also reflect on memories of Christmas's past and the loved ones who are no longer with us.  The memory of them is a tremendous treasure even when our hearts are still breaking.  This reality, perhaps more than any other, prompts us to embrace the loved ones still here with us, hold on a little tighter, and remember to say "I love you!"  

Christmas is also a time for forgiveness and reconciliation.  After all, the real reason for Christmas is the celebration of the gift of redemption and salvation. 

"And the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of the great joy which shall be for all the people: for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord'."  Luke 2:10-11  


On this Christmas day, may you and your family be blessed and your hearts touched by the Creator who loves you with a love that surpasses all understanding.

 

We Wish You All A 

Very Merry Christmas! 

 

 

 




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Thursday, December 24, 2020

Review of Christmas Season 2020


 Christmas 2020 will soon be "Christmas past" and it certainly has been one for the books.  We will remember it as the year of the pandemic, the year without large family gatherings, the year of wearing masks, the year without Christmas parties, and the year of live stream church services.  And yet....it has not been a year without joy for me.  I may have had to look a bit to find it in other activities but as this Christmas season draws to a close I find  that I feel peace even in these crazy times.

Photographing our Decorations

I thoroughly enjoy my photography hobby and this year has given me a lot of time to take classes on photography and Photoshop.  I used some of my new found skills to photograph our holiday decorations.  Here are a few of my favorites. The first two are our tree and the outside of the house.  On both of them I used some new filters I learned how to use on a Photoshop online class.



The next two photos were made for a photography challenge on a group that gives us a weekly theme and we come up with creative ideas.  The theme for this week was "bubble wrap".



Watching Christmas Movies New and Old

I have enjoyed watching movies I have not watched for sometime and also I've found a few new Christmas movies to enjoy.  Last week fellow reviewer Sam Monaco wrote a review on Bing Crosby and White Christmas and it inspired me to rewatch that classic Christmas movie.  Here is a link to Sam's review. Bing Crosby

I also watched a movie that was new to me, although it came out in 2013.  It is called The Christmas Candle and has a delightful story of a minister who comes to a church in a small English village.  

The True Meaning of Christmas


The photo above depicts one of our Christmas decorations.  It is one of my favorites.  It is a cross that holds within it the scenes from the first Christmas.  As in every Christmas it is important to keep our hearts on the seasons true meaning.  

Luke 2:11

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

King James Version (KJV)

May you and your family experience Peace and Joy during this Christmas and throughout the coming year! 



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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

Keto and other low carb diets are increasingly popular, as the health benefits become better understood and more widely known. As someone who has lost a significant amount of weight (nearly 60 pounds) on a ketogenic diet and kept the weight off by maintaining a healthy, low-carb lifestyle, I'm reviewing my favorite gift ideas for anyone on your list who is trying to watch their carbohydrate intakes, or has plans to start a low carb or keto diet in the near future (perhaps once upcoming holidays, events, special occasions, or other celebrations—such as their, or your, birthday, graduation, anniversary, engagement party, wedding, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Valentine's Day, etc.). 

This special occasion or holiday gift guide is filled with thoughtful presents for any occasion that will support the health, wellbeing, and weight loss goals of the people you care about. There's no time like the present to give someone—including yourself—the gift of good health!

Main image: glitter background with text "The Best Gifts for someone on a Low Carb or Keto Diet"
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved.

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Gift Ideas for Keto Diet or Low Carb Newbies

If someone on your list has just started a low carb or ketogenic diet, or is planning to start on a specific date or after a certain holiday celebration or other special event, these gift ideas can help get them off to a good start.
  • A book that explains and helps them succeed on a keto diet by a respected and knowledgeable author. Keto: The Complete Guide to Success on The Ketogenic Diet, including Simplified Science and No-cook Meal Plans by Maria Emmerich and Suzanne Ryan's books Simply Keto and Beyond Simply Keto are all excellent choices.
  • A reliable, accurate and reliable digital food scale to help them weigh and track their calories, carbs, and other macros. I recommend looking for one that has a convenient tare function (which zeroes out the weight of a plate, bowl, cup, or other container before adding the food to be weighed), weighs in pounds, ounces, kilograms, and grams, registers additions accurately in very small increments, has a large, easy-to-read display, a smooth, easy-to-clean surface, and is made by a company that stands behind its products. I highly recommend the Nicewell 22 Lb. Digital Kitchen Scale. It meets all the aforementioned criteria, has a smooth, wipe-clean, durable stainless steel and tempered glass surface, and has a wide measurement range of 0.1 ounce/2–3 grams to 22 pounds/10 kg, added in 0.1 ounce/1 gram increments. Mine also has been much more reliable than the two previous digital food scales I've owned (from well known brands), and the flat surface lets me weigh food on a large plate or in a large bowl, without taking up a lot of valuable kitchen counter space. At less than $37 (as of this writing), its high accuracy and excellent features compared to cheaper models make it a very good value.
  • A selection of low-glycemic, keto-friendly sweeteners. Since each person's palate, digestive system, and metabolism are different, figuring out which types of keto-friendly sweeteners taste best to them, which ones cause them to experience an unpleasant aftertaste or noticeable cooling effect, which ones cause them gastrointestinal distress, and which ones elevate their blood sugar or knock them out of ketosis. Some people are much more sensitive than others to certain types of sweeteners. So, for someone who is just starting out, especially if they have a sweet tooth, a range of different types of granulated, powdered, and brown sugar replacements would likely be a welcome gift. 
  • One of the best articles to help you understand the differences and which keto sweeteners are best for specific uses is Carolyn Ketchum's "The Ultimate Guide to Keto Sweeteners" on her All Day I Dream About Food website. My favorite sweetener by far is BochaSweet "The Supreme Sugar Replacement," which tastes virtually identical to cane sugar, has no aftertaste, and comes in both granulated and powdered (confectioner's sugar) forms. It's also more expensive than other keto-friendly sweeteners, so it's a luxury a keto newbie might not splurge on to buy for themselves. 
  • An accurate and reliable digital body weight scale to help them track their weight loss progress. Our house is old and has settled, so the wood floors aren't perfectly level. As a result, I never had a scale that reliably displayed the same weight reading five minutes apart, until I bought myself the Etekcity High Precision Digital Body Weight Bathroom Scale with Ultra Wide Platform and Easy-to-Read Backlit LCD. In addition to its accuracy, I also love the big, easy-to-read, backlit digital display and the extra-wide, rock-steady platform (since my balance isn't that great when my feet are too close together). It measures within a weight range of 18–440 pounds (8–200 kg) in increments of 0.2 lb. /0.1 kg. Best of all, it costs less than $30!
  • A journal where they can track their progress against their goals in whatever way is most helpful to them—tracking food, exercise, sleep, water intake, body measurements, blood pressure, mood, how their clothes fit, how they're feeling, etc. Many food and exercise journals track just 90 days, and have limited (or no) flexibility in what you can track and in what format. I suggest choosing one like Eat Better, Feel Better, Live Better: A 52-Week Food Journal, which will allow your gift recipient track the things they care about most for an entire year. Even though I've used the Carb Manager app since the day I switched to a low carb keto lifestyle, I would have really benefited from also using a journal like this one where I could track more than just numbers.

Fun Gifts for Low Carb and Keto Enthusiasts

If your you're shopping for someone who is loving their low carb lifestyle, they're sure to love any of these.

Gifts for Someone Who Loves Cooking or Baking

Learning to cook without grains, rice, potatoes, or other starchy vegetables takes effort. Learning to make sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free baked goods has an even steeper learning curve! Companies are coming out with more—and better tasting—low carb and keto foods and ingredients all the time. 

In addition to the excellent digital food scale I mentioned previously, there are other types of kitchen tools and equipment I find myself using since adopting a healthier, low carb approach to eating.

Here are some gift ideas that would be welcome in any low carb kitchen.
  • A couple of really good, reliable low carb or keto cookbooks. Some that I can recommend highly are Carolyn Ketchum's cookbooks, especially The Ultimate Guide to Keto Baking (my low carb baking bible), and The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen, filled with foolproof, seriously yummy recipes to suit a wide variety of tastes; Maya Krampf's The Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Cookbook (simple, delicious recipes with no more than 10 ingredients); Southern Keto: 100+ Traditional Food Favorites for a Low-Carb Lifestyle by Natasha Newton for anyone who loves Southern food; and all of Maria Emmerich's cookbooks, especially Keto Restaurant Favorites and Keto Comfort Foods. If your gift recipient has or will be getting an air fryer or an Instant Pot, Maria also has written low carb cookbooks for using both those popular kitchen appliances.
  • A vegetable spiralizer for making zoodles (zucchini noodles) and cucumber spirals. If your gift recipient is eating low carb but not following a strict keto diet, butternut squash noodles and carrot spirals can also be enjoyed in moderation, and add important nutrients including antioxidants, carotenoids, and Vitamin A, among others. 
  • A mini waffle iron for making chaffles. Chaffles are individual size, high-protein, low carb mini waffles, made from beaten egg, shredded mozzarella or other cheese, almond flour, and other ingredients, depending on the flavor. They're a favorite staple for many who follow a keto or low carb diet. There are myriad chaffle recipes, both sweet and savory. Chaffles are great topped with butter and sugar free syrup for breakfast, and can be used as a bread alternative for sandwiches, as a base for individual pizzas, or as a dessert, topped with keto-friendly ice cream, syrup, and/or whipped cream. They're quick and easy to make. They also freeze well and can be popped into a toaster or toaster oven for a grab-and-go meal or snack.

    Last year, about six months into my keto diet journey, I put the popular, very inexpensive DASH Mini Waffle Maker on my Christmas wish list, so I could see what all the chaffle buzz was about. It makes perfectly fine chaffles, and would be a great stocking stuffer. However, if you can afford a higher-end chaffle maker for your gift recipient, I would definitely recommend choosing one like the Cuisinart WAF-300 Belgian Waffle Maker with Pancake Plates, which can make as many as four (and as few as one) chaffles (or Belgian waffles, for household members who aren't watching their carbohydrate intake), and has an attractive, brushed stainless steel top cover; removable, dishwasher-safe, nonstick waffle plates (as well as a pancake plate that makes four perfectly round pancakes); lights that indicate when the unit has finished preheating and when the chaffles, waffles, or pancakes are done; and an audible alert beep. Although it has a large footprint, this waffle maker can be stored upright to save space, and comes with a set of tongs, a recipe book (for non-keto household members), and a 3-year limited warranty. I would love to receive this terrific piece of equipment as a gift for my keto kitchen (hint, hint)!
  • A selection of sugar free syrups made with a low glycemic sweetener, such as monkfruit, allulose, erythritol, and/or stevia. I love ChocZero syrups and have bought them in nearly every flavor they make (the current selection sold depends on the season). They're high in dietary fiber, low in net carbs, and extremely versatile. I use them often as toppings for low-carb pancakes, waffles, or chaffles. (I think ChocZero makes the best-tasting, low glycemic maple, maple pecan, and vanilla maple syrup on the market. Some people prefer the Lakanto maple flavored syrup, which is thinner and has a stronger maple flavor that I don't care for. To each his or her own!) ChocZero's line of syrups are also great for pouring over keto ice cream (Enlightened's yummy Keto Collection flavors are my favorites), and I love using these syrups for flavoring tea, coffee, hot chocolate, etc. They don't dissolve readily in cold liquids, so for cold drinks, I just dissolve a tablespoon or two of ChocZero syrup in two or three tablespoons of microwaved hot water, let it cool for a few minutes, and then stir the diluted syrup into it to my cold drink, along with a bunch of ice cubes. I also love Sukrin Gold syrup, which  has a taste and consistency surprisingly similar to honey, and is also sugar free and high in fiber.

    Make sure to tell your gift recipient to wipe the opening (and the surrounding area) of the ChocZero or Sukrin Gold syrup bottle with a hot, damp dishcloth right after they use the syrup. Otherwise, any residue in or around the opening will harden, and can make the lid/cap difficult to open next time. Also explain that these syrups should stored at room temperature, not in the refrigerator.

Low Carb and Keto Treats, Snacks, and Baked Goods

For many people, one of the hardest things about switching to a very low carb diet is having to give up their favorite starchy, salty, high carbohydrate snacks and baked goods, like pretzels, potato chips, cheese puffs, taco chips, crackers, and breads, rolls, and hot dog, hamburger, or sandwich buns, as well as sweet treats like candy, cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, and muffins. 

Although a very or moderately strict keto diet can help reduce or eliminate a person's addictive cravings for sugar, carbohydrates, and highly processed foods with little nutritional value, many of us who choose to follow a ketogenic diet for more than a few months find that including small to moderate amounts of healthier, low carb alternatives to the foods we used to crave makes this way of eating much more sustainable over the long term. So, unless your recipient follows a very strict keto diet (or plans to), they probably would be delighted to receive a gift of keto and low carb treats from you. 

Here are some delicious edible gift ideas.
  • Pork rinds. These light, crunchy snacks are a great keto friendly alternative to starchy potato chips. Crushed pork rinds are also a terrific substitute for bread crumbs!
  • Cheese crisps - you can make these yourself by placing squares of sliced Parmesan, muenster, Fontal, or other good "melting cheeses" two inches apart on a large nonstick griddle, heating them until they melt, spread out, and get bubbly, and letting them cool, or you can buy ready-to-each cheese crisps in single-serving bags. The two commercial brands of cheese crisps I've tried are Whisps and HighKey Keto Cheese Crunch, which are both good, but much more expensive than making them yourself.
  • Moon Cheese crunchy keto puffed cheese snacks - the high protein, low carb answer to Cheez Doodles and Utz Cheese Balls. They make five flavors: Cheddar, Gouda, Pepper Jack, Bacon Cheddar, and Garlic Parmesan. If you don't know your gift recipient's favorite type of cheese, there are also 5-pack and 10-pack variety assortments that include all five flavors.
  • Low carb crackers - it's hard to find ones that don't taste like cardboard, but the Fat Snax Almond Flour Crackers get excellent reviews, and there is a variety pack option that includes all three flavors: Cheddar, Sea Salt, and Everything (seasoned similarly to an "everything" bagel). They're also expensive (currently $14.99 for a bag of three on Amazon). 
  • Sugar free chocolate candy and chips sweetened with keto-friendly sweeteners. If your favorite "recovering carboholic" is also a chocoholic, they would surely be thrilled to unwrap a few of these delicious, low carb treats. Some of my personal favorites include HighKey's milk chocolate pecan caramel clusters (they taste exactly like the iconic turtle candies) and dark chocolate almond caramel clusters (absolutely incredible!); ChocZero's Keto Bark in a wide assortment of seasonal and year-round flavors; their peanut butter cups in white, milk, and dark chocolate, and their no sugar added dark, milk, and (my favorite) white chocolate chips; Good Dee's dark chocolate chips; and Lily's stevia-sweetened chocolate bars (especially the 70% cacao bars, like their sea salt extra dark chocolate bar). 
  • Keto cookies. I'm absolutely crazy for HighKey mini cookies, so much that I keep multiple bags of every flavor they make (so far—they keep adding new ones!) in my pantry, including their crisp mini almond and chocolate chip biscotti. Each serving of 5 to 8 cookies (depending on the flavor) has 3–5 grams of protein, 9–14 grams of fat, 1–3 grams of dietary fiber, and only 1–3 net carbs and 110–150 calories, They've also just come out with larger, individually wrapped coconut macaroons and cocoa coconut macaroons, which have just 1 net carb and 90 calories each, plus 1 gram of protein, 7–8 grams of fat, and 5 grams of dietary fiber, and are chewy, filling, and absolutely scrumptious. 
  • Sugar-free, grain-free baking mixes for making great-tasting, quick and easy keto treats with wholesome, high quality ingredients. There are so many wonderful mixes on the market, it's hard to choose just a few to include in this gift guide. In recent months, I've share my reviews of some of my favorite low carb and keto cupcake and muffin baking mixes and several flavors of Good Dee's low carb cookie mixes here on Review This Reviews. Good Dee's coconut snack cake mix absolutely delicious. In fact, I decided to use it as the cake layer for my birthday cake this year, which I split, filled, and iced with cream cheese frosting, topped with toasted unsweetened coconut and fresh raspberries. My husband, who also loves baked goods but doesn't follow a low carb diet, liked it so much that he asked me to make the same cake for his birthday the following month! If your gift recipient is more interested in savory baked goods, one of the key ingredients in my keto cheddar cheese and chive biscuits recipe is HighKey's excellent buttermilk biscuit mix. Livlo also has a very good biscuit mix. 

Gift Baskets

Arranging several related items to create an attractive composition inside a tissue paper-lined basket, wrapping it in a large sheet of cellophane, and tying it with a big bow is a simple way to create an impressive gift. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination! Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Keto Pasta Party Basket

For someone who loves pasta, having to give up delicious, starchy, comfort food favorites like spaghetti and linguine on a ketogenic diet can be a difficult sacrifice. Imagine their surprise when they open your gift basket and see four bags of delicious, nutritionally dense, low carb, Gnooda keto pasta, a couple of large jars of Yo Mama's Original Marinara Sauce (no added sugar and just 4 net carbs per 1/2-cup serving), a wedge of good, imported Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, and a festive red Microplane fine cheese grater so they can grate fine shreds of salty, cheesy goodness over the plates or bowls of warm pasta! To make it extra special, you could line the basket with a classic red and white checkered tablecloth, reminiscent of a typical Italian trattoria, wrap bright red, white, or green cloth napkins around the marinara sauce jars, imported cheese, and cheese grater, and add a couple of red, green, or white pillar candles, jar candles, votives, or tapers to help your gift recipient create the right ambiance for their pasta party, even (or, perhaps, especially if they're dining solo).  

Gnooda keto pasta is made from nutrient-dense lupin flour and fresh eggs, using age-old Italian pasta making techniques. A one-cup serving of cooked Gnooda pasta contains a whopping 22 grams of protein, 15 grams of fiber, 7 grams of fat, and only 3g of net carbs and 165 calories. As of this writing it is only available in the radiatore shape, and can only be purchased in four-bag increments directly from the company's website, Gnooda.com. Also, Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce is a good alternative if you can't get Yo Mama's Original Marinara Sauce.

Fit and Fabulous Basket

Fill a gift basket with things to support their fitness goals, and tailor the contents to their favorite form of exercise. For example:
  • For someone who enjoys playing tennis, your basket might include a new can of tennis balls, a new sun visor or sweatband, a few pairs of breathable, low cut, cushioned athletic socks, a high SPF, broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen (see my review of EltaMD® and Colorescience® mineral-based physical sunscreens), and some packets of low carb, sugar free, powdered electrolyte drink mix. 
  • For someone who doesn't have the time to get to the gym on a regular basis or travels a lot, you could fill a large gift basket with a nice-looking, breathable, lightweight T-shirt and leggings, a digital fitness tracker, and a canister of low carb, sugar free, powdered electrolyte drink mix (my favorite is Key Nutrients' Cherry-Pom Electrolyte Recovery Plus Replenishment Drink). Depending on how much you want to spent, you could also include a gift card to Amazon, Dick's Sporting Goods, or another sports equipment store for them to pick out a piece of at-home or on-the-road workout equipment, such as a medicine ball, a set of dumbbells or free weights, or a set of resistance bands they can use both at home and on the road.
  • For someone who hates to exercise but loves to dance, put together a "it's my (dance) party" basket, featuring a jazzy, comfortable, lightweight T-shirt with a matching or coordinating leggings or yoga pants and sweatband (the crazier and more fun and festive, the better), and a fun, upbeat, easy-to-follow dance workout, like Body Groove's Delicious Dance DVD Collection, Dance Your Heart Out DVD Collection, or Young at Heart DVD

Relax and Unwind Basket

Most people associate certain foods with comfort, and when we're feeling extremely anxious, stressed, upset, sad, hurt, or overwhelmed, many of us have the urge to soothe those feelings with familiar and, often, unhealthy "comfort foods." Unfortunately, giving into the impulse to "eat our emotions" can be self-sabotaging for someone who is trying to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle, and after the short-lived immediate gratification, they usually feel even worse after consuming a pint of ice cream or a bowl of macaroni and cheese. So, if someone who is following a low carb diet (or has any other type of dietary restrictions) is going through a rough patch, one of the ways you can support them might be to give them something other than food that can help them escape their troubles and help them feel better (even if it's only a temporary reprieve) without sabotaging their health and wellness goals. Here are some gift ideas to include in a customized "relax and unwind" basket: herbal teas; a mug with a personalized saying or image that has a special meaning for the recipient; traditional or flameless LED wax candles (preferably with one of the person's favorite scents); music to help them relax or lift their spirits; a soft, cozy robe, sweater, or throw; a guided meditation recording or DVD; an electric heated neck, shoulder, or back massager. 

One of my favorite herbal teas is the lovely, floral Republic of Tea Organic Elderflower and Green Rooibos Super Herb Tea. Also consider some of the herbal teas reviewed by my fellow contributors on Review This Reviews, including Louanne's Arbonne Essentials Herbal Detox Tea review and Pure Peppermint herbal tea review, Cynthia's Aveda Comforting Tea review, and BarbRad's Lifestyle Awareness Teas review

We have flameless LED candles in every room of our house, some that we purchased and others that we received as gifts. Our favorites by far are the Luminara real wax flameless LED candles. Their LED "flames" are signicantly more realistic than their competitors', thanks to Luminara's proprietary moving flame technology, which has been imitated but never equaled (at least, not so far). Ours have interchangeable remote controls, any one of whicht can turn all the Luminara candles in a room on and off with a single click (even though we've purchased them at different times, and from different stores), which is extremely convenient, considering how many candles we have. For the Luminara candles in our bedroom, we use the optional timer feature, which is on a 5 hours on/19 hours off cycle. (We set them to turn on at 6 pm and turn off at 11 pm, so we can go to bed by candlelight.) They're more expensive than other brands, but we think they're well worth the higher price.


Are you or someone you know following a keto diet or low carb lifestyle? If so, what other gift ideas would you add to this Low Carb and Keto Gift Guide ? I'd love to see your suggestions!

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide by Margaret Schindel


Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

My First Year on The Keto Diet


Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas)

My Personal Keto Testimonial

How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating


Read More Reviews About Health and Wellness by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

Read More Reviews About Gifts by Our Review This Reviews Contributors




 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

How to Make A Christmas Cookie Gift Set...Without Baking

How to Make A Christmas Cookie Gift Set...Without Baking

When you think of Cookies at Christmas, what comes to mind? Probably a few good recipes and some great memories. What about a great Christmas cookie cookbook? A beautiful children's picture book? A Christmas apron or a cookie jar or a plate or even a coffee mug? That's what you'll find on this page. No recipe, just my tribute to the yummy Christmas cookie and a host of ideas for you to use to create a cookie themed gift set with no baking required though obviously fresh cookies would be a fabulous addition to any cookie gift set.

A COOKIE COOKBOOK


Rose's Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum

ROSE'S CHRISTMAS COOKIES


Let's start with this beautiful cookie cookbook by Rose Levy Beranbaum who is famous for her many beautiful baking books. Almost too beautiful to use, this one would make a very impressive Christmas gift for anyone who loves to bake. Find your copy of Rose's Christmas Cookies on Amazon by clicking here.

OUR CHRISTMAS COOKIES


One year I did the unthinkable. I didn't make our traditional Christmas cookies. My sister-in-law visited and she baked and that meant we had plenty of sweet treats in the freezer. I simply did not need to bake and so I didn't. I thought nothing of it and no one said anything, until a few months later when one of my sons referred to the Christmas when they didn't have any of their favorite Christmas cookies. I felt so bad and I will not be repeating that faux pas ever again though this Christmas, Christmas 2020, the year when we cannot have people drop by to say hello, I will definitely be cutting back since there are only two of us to eat cookies.

With the exception of that well-remembered year when I did not make any cookies, we normally have three kinds of cookies on hand at Christmas: the best-ever ginger crinkles, the best ever M&M cookies with Christmas colored M&Ms and the best-ever brownie bites. They're all easy, they're all yummy and they all freeze beautifully. Best of all, they offer a nice variety and when I put a plate of cookies out and I am fairly comfortable that I can please not only my family but anyone who drops in during the holidays.

The Best-Ever Brownies Recipes
Love chocolate? How about brownies? If you are looking for the best brownie recipe, you will find it here. Actually, you will find three of the best brownie recipes here. The first is for miniature Brownie Bites. They are perfectly simple,...

The Best-Ever Ginger Crinkles Molasses Cookie Recipe
We love these ginger crinkle cookies. There's nothing like their slightly crispy exterior and chewy interior with a cold glass of milk!

The Best-Ever M&M Cookies Recipe
This best-ever M&M cookie recipe makes irresistible cookies. Don't bake them unless you are prepared to eat them until they are all gone. 

A CHILDREN'S COOKIE BOOK




Paul Galdone's The Gingerbread Boy

Here are three great cookie-themed picture books for children. The first is not actually a Christmas story as The Gingerbread Boy makes his break for freedom in a season that definitely is not winter at least in my part of the world. Paul Galdone's version shown here is one of the classic versions and was my family's favorite. Featuring a barnyard full of critters and one foxy fox, the gingerbread man is unfortunately and as always undone in the end. You can find my complete book review of The Gingerbread Boy here or read more about the book on Amazon by clicking right here.

Christmas Cookies: Bite Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

The second book, Christmas Cookies: Bite Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, introduces your young child to new vocabulary words like 'tradition' and 'celebrate' in the context of good manners in certain social situations. It is a beautiful combination of wisdom and artistry. You can read my review of Christmas Cookies: Bite Size Holiday Lessons here or you can read more about it on Amazon by clicking here.

If You Take A Mouse To The Movies by Laura Numeroff

The third and final book, If You Take A Mouse To The Movies, is a special Christmas edition featuring that cookie-loving mouse that was created by Laura Numeroff in If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. The Christmas version has all sorts of extras including a CD and recipes. You can read my review If You Take A Mouse To The Movies here or you can buy it on eBay by clicking here. At the time of writing this post, I was unable to find it on Amazon.

A COOKIE APRON


Christmas Cookie Baking Team apron

An apron is such a practical and affordable gift idea. If you or someone you know spends a lot of time in the kitchen at Christmastime, you (or they) should definitely own a Christmas apron and there are so many great ones available. I love this Christmas Cookie Baking Team apron from Etsy and the fact that it can be personalized for all of the members of your baking team.  You can find it on Etsy by clicking right here.

A CHRISTMAS COOKIE JAR


A Christmas Cookie Cookie Jar

Nothing could be more fun than a cookie jar especially when it is full of cookies. I found this beautiful but simple glass cookie jar on Amazon. I love the idea that it will hold your Christmas treats and, when they are gone, go in your dishwasher for easy clean-up. You can find it on Amazon by clicking here. Gift it empty or even full of your favorite Christmas cookies.

A COOKIE PLATE


Waechtersbach Santa's cookies plate

This Waechtersbach Santa's cookies plate is perfect for leaving cookies out for Santa or simply serving cookies throughout the month of December. It would make a fine tradition for any family.  We love using the same plate every year. To find this plate and a few other Christmas-cookie themed ones, look to eBay  by clicking right here.

A COOKIE MUG


Disney's Mickey Mouse Cookie Coffee Mug

Yes, there's such a thing as a cookie mug and I don't mean a mug with the image of a cookie on it but rather a mug that has a pocket for holding your cookie. This is a fun one featuring Disney's Mickey Mouse and promising to deliver holiday cheer. Find it on Amazon by clicking here.

A COOKIE BAKING SET

A children's cookie baking set
Finally, I will close with this fun Stephen Joseph Christmas child-sized baking set, which you can find on Amazon by clicking here. Whether you offer it on its own or team it up with some of the other great gift ideas on this page, the choice is yours. Maybe you could create a set for the family with this set for the children.

So how about it? Is there something sweet in this batch for you? Are you a smart cookie who likes to assemble gift sets cookie themed or otherwise?  

Life is
what you bake of it!
Brenda, Treasures By Brenda

More Christmas Reading:








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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Dog Christmas Cards

As a dog lover I love seeing dog-inspired Christmas cards and as a Zazzle affiliate I know I'm not alone as I sell quite a few dog-inspired Christmas cards every year.


Card designs by Christmas Holidays on Zazzle



My most popular dog Christmas card features a pug, but this year I've sold quite a few dalmatian Christmas cards designed by fellow Zazzlers.

If you're wondering what this Zazzle is that I speak of then let me tell you about it.   Zazzle is a website where designers from around the world can upload their designs to various different products such as cards, t-shirts, mugs even yoga mats!

Buying something from Zazzle means you are helping a designer to provide for their family.   Some people 'Zazzle' alongside a 'day job', others do it alongside being a stay at home parent, yet more people do it as they have a disability that means they are unable to work outside of the home.   A few are able to survive solely on their Zazzle income.

I have brought a few products through Zazzle and I have always loved their quality.   You can see a selection of dog-inspired Christmas cards on this site - Dog Christmas Cards - from a selection of different designers.

Check out how I created my popular Pug Christmas card on this post - designing a pug Christmas card.

Here's a collection of my own dog-inspired Christmas cards that you can find on Zazzle:





Something else that I love about Zazzle is that you can personalize the cards - many people will upload their own dog photos to send out with their cards or even write a verse for the cards. Have you ever used Zazzle for any products?    I would love to hear about your experience.





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Saturday, November 14, 2020

Using a Lightbox as an Advent Calendar - Yes or No?

Today I'm going to review an alternative to the usual advent calendars as a way to countdown to Christmas - a lightbox!


Forget the advent calendars and try adding a lightbox underneath your tree for a fun countdown. You can get your own...

Posted by Christmas Tree Ideas on Wednesday, November 13, 2019


Now when my daughter was younger I brought a fabric advent calendar that had little pouches I would fill each year - she used the same advent calendar every year and loved it. My friend had a wooden advent calendar that was shaped like a Christmas tree and her kids would take turns opening it - she also used to get them a chocolate advent calendar each so that no one went without something during the countdown!

It was only last year after my daughter moved out that I saw the post that you can see above - a lightbox to countdown the days seemed like a great idea. I'm interested to know what other people think though - a small gift or chocolate every day for the kids or just a countdown display under the Christmas tree?


Let me know if you're a Yes or a No!


If you vote advent calendars then check out a few here:

Farm Advent CalendarFarm Advent Calendar

DIY or Reusable Advent CalendarsDIY or Reusable Advent Calendars

The Great Christmas Countdown is onThe Great Christmas Countdown is on

Christmas Lego Advent CalendarsLego Advent Calendars




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Monday, October 12, 2020

Hallmark Christmas Movies 2020 Reviewed

Ready, set and Hallmark! It may be Fall, but Fall means the start of the Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.



Yes, unabashed Hallmark fan here and my absolute favorite Hallmark movies are the Christmas movies. I reviewed my Top Ten Hallmark Christmas Movies in 2018 and while those are my favorite I have added a few as new Hallmark Christmas movies which have debuted.

Christmas In Rome, Christmas Town, Christmas At The Plaza were favorites for 2019.

What's In Store For Hallmark Christmas 2020?


Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas begins Friday, October 23rd. The Hallmark Channel Movies and Mysteries has also joined the Christmas fun with its' Miracles Of Christmas movies also beginning October 23, 2020.

In all there will be 40 new Christmas movies for 2020: 23 on the Hallmark Channel and 17 on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel.

Hallmark Favorites Return For 2020


I'm looking forward to the return of favorite Hallmark stars for the Christmas season!


  • If I Only Had Christmas, starring Candace Cameron Bure
  • Christmas Waltz, starring Lacey Chabert
  • Chateau Christmas, starring Merritt Patterson and Luke Macfarlane
  • Cross Country Christmas, starring Rachael Leigh Cook
  • Christmas Tree Lane, starring Alicia Witt and Andrew Walker
  • Cranberry Christmas, starring Nikki DeLoach and Benjamin Ayres
Where to Find Hallmark Christmas Movies?
If your cable subscription does not include Hallmark or you have cut the cable cord, Hallmark Channel is available with the Hallmark Everywhere App

A monthly plan is also available with the Hallmark Movies Now service for $4.99 a month. A seven day free trial is available to give the channel a no obligation spin.


More Hallmark Christmas Movies Reviewed

Debbie Macomber's Mr. Miracle Hallmark Movie Review by Cynthia

Pick of The Hallmark Christmas Movies

Flashback to A Christmas Detour



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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Wishes from Our Contributors










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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Six Easy Christmas Tree Alternatives

Alternatives to Standard Christmas Trees


There are alternatives to putting up a fully decorated Christmas Tree. When time, health or motivation gets in the way of decorating the way you used to, check out these options:

1. Christmas Tree Art Drapes

You have to check these out; they're gorgeous. These drapes are full floor to ceiling curtains featuring 3D holiday scenes. The entire drapes are an art canvas, except instead of being on canvas, the art is on cloth. If you have a large window or sliding patio door, remove your existing drapes and put these up for the holidays. 

2. A Tabletop Christmas Tree

A tabletop tree is the easiest way to bring a little cheer into your home during the holidays. One of ReviewThisReviews writers, Dawn Rae, provides several creative suggestions here. Of course, tabletop trees can also be used to accessorize a fully decorated home. They also make an excellent hostess gift.

3. Freestanding Cardboard Christmas Trees
When you need a simpler
decorating plan

Of course, this particular choice is better utilized as party decor. However, there are several ways to incorporate cardboard trees into the home. For those who like to feature multiple trees but don't have the energy to go all out, these fun designs are an alternative. Also, you can use them as a way to add a safe festive feel to a child's room or playroom. 

4.  Christmas Tree Wall Decals

If you have a little more energy and enjoy decorating the walls, then you'll love this idea. Wall decal Christmas Trees are a fun way to add festive art to a room. When the holidays are over, simply remove them. Since they have more of an artsy animated look to them, they're ideal in a room where the kids tend to gather, even their bedroom. How nice would it be to read holiday bedtime stories with a fun Christmas Tree decal front and center in the little one's bedroom?

5. Pull Up Christmas Trees

These are an absolute must for people who don't have time for anything elaborate during the holidays! They fold completely flat into a storage bag. You may have to buy the storage bag separately. When the holiday season rolls around, unzip the bag and pull up the pre-lit, even pre-decorated Christmas Tree. That's right, most of them come fully decorated. A couple of these trees will eliminate a ton of work yet still give your home or office that lovely holiday feel.

6. Christmas Trees or Decor Featured on a Rug

If the wall, a tabletop, or draperies are out of the question, how about a bit of the holiday spirit on the floor? These holiday-themed area rugs feature various scenes that you can easily incorporate into your home. The nice thing about a carpet is the ease of taking it out and putting it away. Feature a festive rug in your foyer, one in the kitchen or living area, and add a small table-top tree or Christmas tree ornament, and your decorating is finished. You've decorated without a lot of effort. With a rug, there are no boxes to unpack or carry; store it in a closet or under a bed until the season is upon us.

As we get older, decorating the way we used to can become challenging. Our hearts may want to go all out, but our bodies won't let us. So don't hesitate to seek out something easier that works for you and your life. These days, there's something beautiful about going 'small.' It's like getting back to the basics and focusing on what Christmas is really about; love.



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Friday, December 28, 2018

Fabulous Heavy Duty Gift Wrap Storage Bag Reviewed

Fabulous Gift Wrap Wrapping Paper Storage Bag Reviewed
Last year, I purchased a fabulous gift wrap storage bag from Current catalog.  I didn't know if I would like it or not, but the price was right and I had very little to lose by trying it.  I knew if it worked for me, I would be thrilled to have a protective way to store my wrapping paper from year to year.

As it turns out, this is one of the best purchases I have ever made!

Like most gift givers, I spend a lot of money on wrapping paper.  I love to have pretty gifts under the tree.  Or, an attractively wrapped gift for birthdays and other occasions.  However, I don't like dirty or ripped paper and I often end up buying new wrapping paper annually for Christmas or even if I have only one gift to wrap.  I have always known that it was a waste of money to buy a whole roll for one gift, but I won't give a gift unless it is attractively wrapped.  I have been known to even re-wrap a gift if I don't think it is pretty.

Gift Wrap Clear Vinyl Storage Bag - 8-1/2" x 31" Long

Gift Wrap Clear Vinyl Storage Bag - 8-1/2" x 31" Long

 

Clear Wrapping Paper Storage Bag

https://amzn.to/2URIYFZ
There are several things I really love about this wrapping paper storage bag.  To start with, I love that it is clear and I can see the paper being stored without opening the bag.  I really do hate having to hunt for a specific wrapping paper just to wrap a gift.

I also love that it keeps my wrapping paper clean and pretty, ready to be used immediately.  When I stored my wrapping paper in the shipping box, not only could I not see what was inside without opening the box, but the paper would often get creased or even torn when the box was moved around.

Since I store my Christmas wrap in my attic, I am especially thrilled that no attic dwellers or debris can get inside the bag and be my special Christmas surprise. 

This storage bag is large enough to hold 8 - 10 rolls of wrapping paper, depending on their size.  As you can see in the photo, it will hold the longer wrapping paper rolls too, or you could use that top space for bows, ribbon, tape, and other wrapping supplies.

I absolutely love the handles!  The top handle makes it easy for me to carry down the attic stairs and the reinforced double handle on the sides make it easy for me to carry from room to room.  The zipper top allows easy access, plus keeps the storage bag closed up tight when not stored.  

I sure wish I had this wrapping paper storage bag sooner!  I carefully select our annual Christmas paper and I wish some of our older paper was still in good enough condition to use.  It would be a tremendous money saver to be able to use the leftover paper.

I should add that I also have a separate gift wrap storage bag for birthday wrapping paper.  I keep it in our hall coat closet for extremely easy access.  I just reach in and grab the bag when I need to wrap a gift.  The only way it could be easier, or better, is if the gift would wrap itself.

The featured wrapping paper storage bag is available on Amazon or directly from Current catalog.  Both are linked below for your shopping convenience. 

Wrapping Paper Storage Bag
Click Here to Buy from Amazon










For More Gift Wrapping Reviews, Check Out These Articles 




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