It's December. Snow (or rain) falls incessantly. The temperature drops. We've entered the final month of 2014. It's been a good year, 2014. Not necessarily the best, but a meaningful, memorable year. I've made friends, learnt more about myself and find myself inching towards new discoveries and revelations.
I've got this craving for new knowledge, fresh, fulfilling knowledge of the way of life. I stand by my values, as always, whilst pursing ideas and wisdom.
Christmas is on nigh, when celebrations are celebrated for the sake of celebrating, for bringing smiles, for respecting tradition. We live in uncertain times, in times where there's turmoil, where conflict rages on, but most of us being safe and sound in our beds. That's something to be thankful for. Thanksgiving is over, I am aware, but that doesn't mean that we can't bear that thought in our heads and toast to this good year.
Meanwhile, I've got something up my sleeves - Christmas Round-Ups. I've been around the place, gathering information and inspiration alike. What I've seen this year is the same, yet different. Old bases, new takes on things. There's the cheesy, the cuddly and the cool. And so, with the stay-at-home season staying in, here are some activities to banish the onset of boredom.
The kitchen remains as the heart of the house, ovens and stoves emanate warmth. As such, here are some things to do with friends, family or the self where all cluster, laugh and make, to revel in the sense of being. Molly's done it again, with these edible terrariums, which make for perfect gifts (or for you to admire and then eat). Meanwhile, breathtaking desserts - cake and pie to stun by Linda and Kelsey respectively. Cookies to nosh on, and a fresh (boozy) take on cocktails, ideal for some warm tea. Lastly, some spice-ry granola to share by yours truly (or to keep and crunch on).
- Gingerbread Terrariums - My Name is Yeh
- Gingerbread Bundt Cake - Call Me Cupcake
- Spiced Chocolate Shortbread - Gather and Feast
- Gingerbread Eggnog Pumpkin Pie - Thumb in Plum
- Kahlua Eggnog Cocktail - The Chic Site
- Spiced Maple Nut Granola - Chockywoky (see below!)
Also, some other craftwork to keep hands busy - glittery pine cones to spruce up the house, a hand-drawn tree for those wanting to save space / take a unconventional twist, or a chalkboard calendar to make for an interesting dinner topic. Also, gifting's important too, so an advent calendar to make faces smile, gift wraps which pop, and a tag to round it all off.
- DIY Gold Leaf Pine Cone - The Sweetest Occasion
- Hand Drawn Christmas Tree - Style Me Pretty
- Rudolph Advent Calendar - A Bubbly Life
- Hanging Chalkboard Calendar - Hank and Hunt
- Star Pinata Gift Wrapping - A Subtle Revelry
- DIY Acrylic Gift Tags - Design Sponge
And now, granola. A classic staple, recognized for it's simplicity, and even more so for flavor. This one's burnished, golden and crunchy, sticky sweet with maple syrup, but never overly so. Spice and ginger aid in this weather, where there's always a need for the 'oomph' in food to warms the toes.
Mix this combination up roughly, and bake it for about 20 minutes to half an hour. The oven will return to you a sheet of golden hued grains, glistening with maple syrup. The temptation to stir and scoop up a spoonful will be there, but resist it. Instead, add your fruits and wait for it to harden into shards of gloriously crisp bites, then break them up gently (or you could grab the biggest piece and eat that first). Seal them in an airtight jar, or in little brown bags as gifts (I've got a tutorial down below). This granola is addictive, as a matter of fact, I finished the entire batch in 3 days, no kidding.
Spiced Maple Nut Granola
makes approx. 0.75 L
1 c oats
1 c puffed cereal
1/3 c whole walnuts
1/4 c whole hazelnuts
1/3 c maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1-2 cinnamon sticks
1/3 c dried figs, approx. 5
1/4 c crystallized ginger
1-2 tbsp oil / cooking spray
1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
2. In a bowl, combine oats, cereal, walnuts, hazelnuts, salt and spices.
3. Stir in the maple syrup until it is a sticky mess and spread evenly over a greased baking sheet. Drizzle over oil or spray with cooking spray.
4. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until crisp and golden.
5. Meanwhile, chop up the figs and ginger. Spread it evenly over the freshly baked granola.
6. Let the granola cool for 10 minutes or so before gently breaking them up and storing in an airtight container. Enjoy.
Now, the gifting. Nothing speaks of 'homely' as much as brown bags, I think. I've always associated the scent of brown bags as a soothing, sweet papery scent. Anyhow, I've got these lined up for you, a simple piece of craft which you can make when the granola's in the oven. Making your own packaging for a gift can really take things a long way, so trust me when I say that a little gesture can go a long way.
Brown Bag Granola Pack
makes 2 bags
2 brown bags
2 ziploc bags
twine / ribbon
2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
1. Seal your granola in the ziploc bags to keep things clean.
2. This step is optional. Poke a small hole through the bottom front of the bag and enlarge it, so that the contents of the bag are visible.
3. Tape on your prepared card to the back of the bag, on the other side.
4. Fold the top of your bag twice and cut two slits through the second fold, as shown below. Place your granola in the bag.
5. Weave your twine / ribbon through the holes, the two ends facing the back of the bag. Tape those two ends to the bag.
6. Close the fold and stick a cinnamon stick through the twine on the front, if you wish.
- to be continued -