Showing posts with label Gifts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gifts. Show all posts

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.

Gift Ideas for Keto Diet or Low Carb Newbies

  • 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 Advice to Maintain Your Keto Diet Weight Loss

The Best Low Carb Keto Cinnamon Muffins

The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate Review

Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

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




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Friday, December 11, 2020

A Fabulous Anti-Theft Designer Backpack Reviewed

Backpack Review

I stopped carrying a purse decades ago. For many years, I simply carried my wallet & keys in my jeans pockets. However, during the last year or so, I have enjoyed keeping my iPad with me so I would hear Ring camera notifications, could check maps, or simply read articles on the internet. It is really nice to have my iPad with me in the car or when I visit friends or family.  

I also like to keep my Propel water with me at all times.  Plus, my car now has a fob instead of a key.  A fob is more bulky in pockets than a key.  Sometimes I hook the fob on my jeans belt loop, but that is not very attractive and I don't always wear pants with loops. 

Unfortunately, now that I carry my iPad, my key fob & water everywhere I go, I need something to carry it all in instead of trying to carry them in my hands.  I tried a tote, but I really prefer having my hands free.  So, I went in search of a backpack.

I found exactly what I wanted and my parents gave it to me for my birthday!  Now that I have carried my backpack for a few months, I love it and can recommend it for many reasons.

 


My Westbronco Anti-Theft Backback - A Great Gift

It is hard to know where to start when reviewing this backpack.  Not only is it attractive, but it has a lot of wonderful features that recommend it over other backpacks.  Here is a list of the features that really matter to me.

 
  • Anti-Theft - the zipper opens in the back instead of the front
  • Attractive & Soft PU Leather
  • Water Resistant
  • 3 Pockets Inside (1 is a zipper pocket)
  • 2 Side Pockets (perfect for my water bottle)
  • 2 Exterior Zipper Pockets (on front side under the fold)
  • Top Attached Handle for Grab & Carry
  • Backpack Straps, plus a separate Detachable Shoulder Strap
  • Available in Several Colors 
  • Great Size for Women 

 WESTBRONCO Women Backpack PU Leather Anti-Theft Fashion Designer Backpack Ladies Shoulder BagCheck Price

 

The backpack came in a dust cover which is an awesome storage bag when I am not using it.  It truly does keep the dust off of the backpack while waiting for our next adventure.

I highly recommend this backpack for anyone who needs to carry several small items and doesn't like carrying a purse.  The problems I have had with backpacks in the past are eliminated by having the entry zipper against my back instead of accessible to anyone standing behind me.  I also prefer this smaller size that is big enough to hold an iPad, wallet (in the interior zippered pocket), key fobs, cellphone, water bottle and more.  I can even add my Kindle Fire so I can play my games when I am away from home.  

This backpack would also make a great overnight bag!







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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Baking Clay a Hobby for All Ages and Stages of Life - A Gift Review

This year I will learn a new Hobby!  I will share it with the world and my granddaughter!

If we have learned anything this year, it's that our hobbies will keep us from climbing up the walls when we can't do the things that we are used to doing.  Pandemics and the need to keep ourselves isolated from harm, can do some strange things to people's psyches.  Don't fall into that trap or let the isolation rule you.  Learn to do something new and interesting to keep the depression/isolation at bay.



Crafting has long been a way to fill in "spare time" or do something that we enjoy.  It could be knitting, crocheting, baking or a host of other activities that will keep our minds and hands busy.  Photography, painting, leather crafts and paper crafts all fit that bill. You will find a host of "Hobbies" on Review This Review right here!

Today I'd like to offer another way to do that and it could be a way to connect with our children and grandchildren.  Time spent together is always time well spent.

Getting ready for the holidays is another way that we connect with each other.  This year though we may not be able to do quite as much of that as we would like to do.  But don't despair, there are other ways of connecting that will give you just as much pleasure.  You might even find in years ahead, that this was one of the best ways to connect with our loved ones.

So let's get on with it, shall we?

One of my Granddaughters this year has made a request that I really like.  Not only because she asked for this, but it will let her creativity and imagination come out in something physical!



Using her hands to create something that is in her mind, will help her and us to appreciate what a crazy imagination and vision she has.  There is no right or wrong with creating what is in your mind's eye.   Purple Polka Dotted Cats or Dogs are acceptable!  It is a place where everyone can let loose and show the rest of the world what is happening in your own personal space.  So what is it that will let her do this?

Well, it's not new, although it is much improved from the last time I looked at this product, and I like it much better than Play Doh (sorry playdoh)!  It allows you to create and  oven dry your creation, so that it is a finished product!





I love this oven dry clay, that comes in so many different colors (that's one of the improvements)!  This starter kit has 46 different colors of Oven Bake clay!   It is neatly organized in a container that keeps the clay and tools all in one place!  It has a whole range of tools and  findings (earrings, necklaces and brooches) so that her creative side can be "showcased" in something she has made for someone special in her life.  Mom, Grandma or friends can be "gifted" with one of a kind creations made by yours truly.  Or she can make something for herself!

But here's the twist!  I'm ordering two of these sets.  Why?  Well, one will be for my granddaughter and the other one for me!  When she and I are ready we will Facetime or Zoom and I will create something for her and hopefully she will create something for me!  I know she will enjoy this exercise in creativity and I will wear whatever she makes with the pride!  

You can bet that every time we are together (media wise) I will don my granddaughters gift so that she knows how much I enjoy her talents.  Hopefully the feeling will be mutual when she sees what I make for her.

These are the gifts that make hearts sing and add to memories that just can't be exchanged for "things" that you can buy.  I imagine that we will spend a great amount of time sharing our creativity and the joy of making something that no one will be able to copy!  One of a kind gifts that provide something to do and teach a new talent to young and old minds alike are winners in my book!

When all of the pandemic is over (hopefully soon) and we are able to come together again, I'm sure we will laugh about our "seeing" each other in all our creative glory!







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Monday, December 7, 2020

Reviewing Gift Ideas for People Who Crochet

People who learn to crochet often get hooked (pun intended) and always desire more yarn,
more supplies, and more time to crochet. We joke about our excessive hoards of yarn but would go shopping for more in the blink of an eye. My dream is to someday go on a Crochet cruise vacation (yes, those existed prior to social distancing limits) and if anyone would like to gift me a crochet cruise I'd happily accept. However, there are many great ideas for crochet gifts with smaller price tags. 



Crochet Gifts

There are so many gifts that can be given to someone who crochets. From Tshirts and mugs with messages that make yarn lovers smile to items that make the process of crocheting easier there is something for every crocheter. I've compiled a few samples in this review. 

Crochet sets. There are sets that include a little bit of everything. This set by BeCraftee is a good example: case, stitch markers, yarn needles, a set of hooks, and more. This is a great option and would be an appreciated gift. 

Crochet Set by BeCraftee

Yarn Bowls. What are yarn bowls?  They are wonderful "bowls" (usually made of wood or ceramic) that hold the balls of yarn that is currently being used. Why is this important? Because nothing is more irritating than knots in your yarn while you are crocheting or the balls of yarn rolling off the table or your lap while you are working. A yarn bowl holds the ball of yarn in one place while allowing it to spin freely while crocheting. A very functional item that is also a pretty gift.

Yarn Bowl by Athena's Elements


Round Knitting Looms.  Round looms aren't quite knitting or crocheting. With a bit of yarn, a hook, and a round loop almost anyone can make cute hats! I love my round knitting looms and use them when I want to add a bit of variety to my crafts or take a break from a large crochet item. I love my round looms so much that I wrote a separate review and you can see that here.

Round Loom Knitting Set

T-Shirts. This is a T-shirt that people who crochet will understand. There are others to chose from, with a variety of yarn and crochet messages. Some messages are funny, some a bit naughty, but this one fits me (and many people who crochet) perfectly!

T-shirts for Crocheters


Coffee Mugs. There are some really funny, and some really bawdy, coffee mugs with messages that suit crocheters perfectly - including a coffee mug that matches the T-shirt listed above. The message on this mug made me laugh and sums up 2020 perfectly.

Crochet Coffee Mug

Crochet Books

There are many books about crochet; stitch and pattern books galore! One of the best crochet books ever isn't about the stitches or patterns, it is about a young crochet phenom named Jonah Larson. You may have seen him on social media or talk shows with celebrities. I had. Even so, I didn't fully know his story. This book about this young man is a wonderful story and would make a wonderful gift. You can read my full review here

Hello Crochet Friends by Jonah Larson


This list is a small sample of the many pattern and crochet stitches books:

A to Z of Crochet: The Ultimate Guide for the Beginner to the Advanced Crocheter

Cats in Hats: 30 Knit and Crochet Hat Patterns for Your Kitty


Gift Cards !!!!

Does my list of options make your head spin? Are there too many options? If so, you can never go wrong with gift cards. Amazon offers many crochet and crafting items. Joann Fabrics and Michaels are two of my favorite crafting stores. All of these cards are available through Amazon - which is an convenient way to give long-distance gifts. I especially like (giving and receiving the Amazon gift cards in the holiday tins. Others prefer the digital/emailed gift cards.

Gift Cards

Crochet Stocking Stuffers

Like many people who crochet, I feel that I could always use more hooks, stitch markers, measuring tapes, round counters, and other small items. These items make excellent stocking stuffers.

Dedicated Scissors or Yarn Cutter. There is nothing more annoying than crocheting and having to get up to look for scissors. I eventually bought a pair of dedicated scissors that are supposed to be used for crochet only. However, they still sometimes wander off. Also, I have found that pointed scissors in my project bag sometimes snag the yarn. So, my crochet scissors are currently blunted tipped scissors (like child's school scissors). I would very much like some of the ornamental "embroidery" scissors or this yarn cutter pendant by clover! Such a great idea. And ends the frustration of not being able to cut yarn when I need to.

Yarn Cutter by Clover


Locking Stitch Markers. Stitch markers are such a little thing but such a huge help. They are small, plastic pieces that work very much like a safety pin. But because they are plastic they do not snag your yarn. I never knew how much I needed stitch markers until I bough some. Now I can't do without them. I like them so much that I wrote a review that you can read here

Locking Stitch Markers


Counters. Another little gadget that helps keep track of rows or rounds, that I'm not sure how I managed without for all of those decades of crochet, is a counter. No more misplaced slips of paper trying to track what row or round I'm on in the pattern. Such a helpful tool to have.

Click Counter

 

Vacations for People Who Love Yarn

Cruises: Prior to 2020 and related pandemic restrictions, I was trying to determine how I could go on a crochet cruise. Mikey from the Crochet Crowd provides some of my favorite online video crochet tutorials. I was THRILLED when they began offering crochet cruises. Currently, of course, cruises are not being offered. But I am including this link for future reference. 

Fiber Festivals: An internet search for "Fiber Festivals" provides a list of festivals where yarns and crafting supplies are the focus. During normal times (when travel and gatherings are not restricted), you could plan a day trip to a local festival or a full vacation that includes a festival in the area you are visiting. 

Farm/Ranch/Fiber Mill Tours: Many people who love yarn crafts also want to know more about the fiber animals, spinning, dyeing: all of the steps in the process of creating natural yarns. Again, an internet search can locate Farms, Ranches, and Mills that are open for tours and sales of the fiber. In just a few moments, I located Mountain Meadow Mill (sheep/wool in Wyoming) and Mountain Hollow Farm Store and Studio (cashmere goats/yarn, classes, and more in Tennessee)





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Friday, December 4, 2020

Stocking Stuffers for Crafters & Sewing Enthusiasts Reviewed

As I was making my gift list for Christmas this year, I couldn't help but think how I wish "Santa" would fill my stocking with craft and sewing supplies. Yes, I have a craft room full of supplies, but when it comes to sewing or crafting fun, I can never have enough. 

As I mentally filled my stocking, I thought of several items I would wish to have added to my stocking.  The first thing that came to mind was small clipping scissors. 

The last time I was sewing, I looked in my machine drawer for my thread clipping scissors and could not find them.  I had to set my fabric aside, get up and get scissors from my sewing basket.  That was fine, but I hate breaking from any task.  It seems like it takes so long to get back to where I was, physically and mentally, after a break.

I also seem to easily misplace measuring tapes.  I would love to have a retractable measuring tape!  At one time in my life, I had one, but I have no idea what happened to it.  

As I continued to daydream about this fabulous stocking full of craft & sewing supplies, I added one item that I have always wanted to my list, an iron finger.  In case you are wondering, that is a tool that can be placed under or between fabric for smooth ironing.  It has one end that is shaped like a spatula with a pointed corner to push and hold fabric corners in place when ironing.  I really need an iron finger

I know I am not alone.  I personally know several crafters and sewing enthusiasts. Besides a love for all things sewing and crafting, we also share the insatiable desire for more.  Before my wondrous daydream ended, I had a jumbo stocking filled with awesome supplies that I am not sure how I have survived without.  

If you have a crafter or sewing enthusiast on your gift list, you may want to consider filling a stocking or gift basket with supplies.  I am certain it will be their favorite gift received.  Well, second to an enormous engagement ring. 

 

Recommended Craft & Sewing Supplies for Crafters & Sewing Enthusiasts
to Fill Stockings or Gift Baskets 

As an avid crafter, as well as a nonprofessional seamstress, I have a list of supplies I always need, as well as a list of things I would love to have.  Many of the items on my list are small enough to fit in a stocking.  Of course, a picture of a larger gift (like a new embroidery machine) would also be a fabulous surprise tucked inside a stocking.

If you don't sew or craft, some of these items may look or sound odd, but they will certainly be appreciated by the crafter or seamstress in your life.

  • Needles  (assorted sizes)
  • Sewing Machine Needles    
  • Straight Pins (with pretty heads for fun) 
  • Wristband Pin Cushion
  • Quilter's Thimble (even if they don't quilt, these thimbles are awesome) 
  • Needle Threader
  • Soft Measuring Tape
  • Retractable Measuring Tape
  • Seam Gauge
  • Wood Handle Seam Ripper
  • Small Clipping Scissors 
  • Thread (basic colors are always needed) 
  • Bobbins and/or Bobbin Case
  • Magnifiers 
  • Stitch Witchery
  • Iron Finger

 

     For The Crafter  (in addition to all of the above)

  • Assorted Bags of Beads
  • Assorted Ribbon 
  • Assorted Bags of Rhinestones
  • Assorted Bags of Pipe Cleaners, Wiggle Eyes, etc
  • Aleene's Crafter's Glue

You will be amazed by what wonderful crafts are inspired by the assorted bags of beads, rhinestones, pipe cleaners, ribbon, etc. listed above.


Additional Unexpected Craft & Sewing Gift Suggestions

Fingernail files (emery boards) are also something I keep in my craft room and sewing basket.  Some fabrics snag easily and they always seems to find that one nail that is starting to break.

Top off the stocking or gift basket with a sewing or crafting Christmas tree ornament.  Long after the supplies are used up, the recipient will have the ornament to remind them of your thoughtful gift that was clearly selected just for them.   

 Old World Christmas Ornaments: Spool Of Thread Glass Blown OrnamentsCheck Price Inspired Silver - Crafter Charm Ornament - Silver Pave HeartCheck Price Enesco Sew Happy It's Christmas Ornament, MulticolorCheck Price

 

 

For Shopping Convenience, I have created a Gift Idea Board on Amazon.  

Simply Click the Collection Of Your Choice Below

  

 






House of Sylvestermouse




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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

Fun for Christmas or anytime of the year for someone who loves to bake cookies!


Finally, I will close with this fun 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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