Search Results for: almonds gift

5 Christmas Gifts You Can Make

Wondering if you could make some of the gifts that you’ll be giving this Christmas?  Here are some things that I’ve done over the years, and that folks have seemed to enjoy receiving. You can click on each photo to go to the instructions for that project.

1.  Pot Holders from Old Jeans


2. Candied Almonds


3. Cloth Gift Bags


4. T-Shirt Headbands


5. Peppermint Bark

Have a favorite project or recipe you like to make and give  at Christmas time? Tell me about it in comments, or better yet, share a link to a post describing it.  I’d love to hear your favorite homemade gift ideas.  And if you found this post helpful, please feel free to pin it.

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Recipe: Candied Almonds

These wonderful sugared almonds take 5 minutes to mix up.  They are the perfect thing to tie in a small sack on top of another gift, or to give when you need just a small thank you gift for someone.  You might even want to keep some on hand in case someone drops by with an unexpected Christmas gift and you would like to bless them in return. Just be sure to make enough that your family can nibble on them too!

I’ve adapted this from a recipe I originally found at the Robin’s Nest.

Almonds- (1)

Candied Almonds

2 pounds raw almonds (or pecans), about 7 cups
1 egg white
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon water
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt

Separate the egg, setting aside the yolk for a different purpose. Beat water and egg white until frothy. You can do this by hand or with a mixer. After mixture is frothy, add almonds and stir by hand until they are all well coated with the egg white mixture. In a separate small bowl mix sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour sugar mixture over top of almonds and stir by hand until well coated.


Spread nuts evenly on a dry baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour in a 225 degree oven, stirring half way through the time. Remove from oven and scoop onto some foil or waxed paper to cool.

Package in one or two-cup quantities in clear cellophane bags decorated with curly ribbon, or perhaps in another pretty gift bag.

All bagged up ready to go
Other Homemade Gift Ideas:
Candied Oranges
Cranberry Pumpkin Bread
Homemade Marshmallows

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September spending challenge, update #1

Almond ButterAfter just 6 days of eating out of the pantry and freezer, I can already find things in the freezer SO much more easily. I hadn’t realized how often I’ve been frustrated trying to find things in my overly crammed space. We’re eating much more variety than usual, just because I’m trying to use things that have been ignored for awhile.  Tuesday we had enchiladas for dinner made with trout.  Odd, but pretty good.  The trout was caught by some of the kids in June and has been languishing in the freezer ignored since then.  About time we did something useful with it.  I confess, however, that I gave the last dabs of the trout to the chickens, and they gobbled it down, little omnivores that they are.

For Wednesday dinner we had turkey dinner.  John’s mom is in the process of moving, and while cleaning out her freezer, gifted me with a turkey.  It was the most enormous bird I’ve ever cooked– 30 pounds.  We’ve had sandwiches several times since then, I froze several baggies full of cooked meat, and still there’s turkey in the fridge to eat.  A nice problem to have!

For quite a while at breakfast we’ve been in the habit of eating eggs, but as the weather cools a little, the hens are slowing down in their laying, and since I don’t want to go to the store too soon, I’ve been doing some alternative breakfasts.  Wednesday was french toast made with multiple bread loaves that had been stuck back into the freezer with just a few slices left on them. Thursday morning we had polenta with flax seed and cranberries.

I’ve also been making a concerted effort to can a lot this week  (that and school account for my almost-absence around here).  So far this week we canned 22 quarts of applesauce and about 8 quarts of tomatoes.  And still there are so many apples to deal with.  I think I’ll be asking our grown kids to do a bit of picking off the trees to help me out.

Here’s what we ate.

Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Tacos
Dinner: grilled pizza and watermelon

Breakfast: Pancakes and apples
Lunch: Tuna sandwiches and cucumber-tomato salad
Dinner: Hamburger veggie chowder and watermelon

Breakfast:  smoothies and eggs
Lunch:  Veggie chicken stir-fry
Dinner: Trout enchiladas

Breakfast: French toast
Lunch: fish sticks, leftover rice, carrot sticks, apples
Dinner:  turkey, sweet potatoes, cuke-tomato salad

Breakfast: polenta with flax seed, cranberries and apples
Lunch:  turkey veggie wraps
Dinner: turkey fajitas

Breakfast: Eggs, toast and apples
Lunch: Turkey sandwiches
Dinner: Chicken sandwiches, grilled cabbage, fresh applesauce, fresh raspberries

I have to say, it’s been a dog of a week.  Tons of driving kids everywhere, plus we started school again, and with the canning and our fair share of cranky kids, it has been SOOOO very tempting to grab a pizza or burgers or something easy several different evenings.  But we’ve resisted so far- haven’t even been to the grocery store yet.  So far we’ve run out of milk, potatoes, bananas, peanut butter, cinnamon, and sour cream.  The milk and the potatoes are the first things I’m buying when I next go to the store, I think. 

As far as peanut butter  (which hubby is really missing) I decided to try something new– making almond butter, since we have a lot of almonds from my sister whose husband grows them.   I roasted about 4 cups of almonds on a flat skillet, then tossed them into the food processor with half a cup of olive oil, a half a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 cup of honey.  Lo and behold, it made perfectly excellent almond butter.  My hubby is now at peace with the lack of peanut butter in the house.

How did the week go at your house?  If you’re doing the spending challenge, I’d love to hear how your week went.

Women of Faith weekend

A few months ago I entered a giveaway for a pair of tickets to a Women of Faith conference anywhere in the US.  I was surprised to actually win, and quickly hatched up a scheme to combine the conference with a visit to my sister Bekah who lives near Sacramento.  When our husbands both agreed to our plot, I gleefully bought a plane ticket ($5 thanks to FF miles) and we began looking forward to a good visit.

Friday morning at the crack of 3:30, John and I were up so that I could get to the airport for my 5:20 AM flight.  We got out the door late—it’s hard to hurry that early! On the way to the airport I realized I’d left my camera battery home, but it was now too late to go back for it.  Yikes.   Disappointing both because of the conference and because my sister had asked me to get some family pictures while I was there.

I decided to see if we could get a battery in Sacramento, and if not, well, the pictures might have to go by the wayside this weekend.  Rebekah met me at the Sacramento airport, and from there we drove to Arco Arena where the event was being held.  She had a little anxiety about leaving her little 10-month-old Gracie for the two days of the conference, but was glad to have been able to leave Grace with her daddy.

The event center  was huge—I later heard there were 10,000 women there—a fact that I’d have to believe judging by the bathroom lines alone.  Even with most of the men’s rooms being converted to ladies’ rooms, the waits for a bathroom were LOOONG.  In a related note, did you know that men’s restrooms do not have purse hooks in the stalls?  Go figure.

Each session generally began with a few songs of praise and worship music—lots of fun.  Then there was a good variety of speakers, all  of whom were a delight.  Humorous, entertaining and insightful.

I won’t try to relay every message of every speaker, but I wanted to share some of the thoughts that are still with me after mulling over the weekend.

Patsy Clairmont encouraged us to wake up each day ready to say three things:  yes, thank you, and no.

  1. Say Yes to the gift of the new day and to wherever God’s leading you today.
  2. Thank God for what He’s given you. (A thankful woman is a beautiful woman.)
  3. Be ready to also say no.  Don’t be guilted into doing things that are time-stealers and things not on the list of priorities that God has for your life.

Avoid being misguided by emotions.  Remember- feelings don’t have brains.  With God’s strength, your mind can win out over your emotions.

We also need to guard our words.  A soft answer doesn’t only turn away the wrath of others.  It can also turn away our own wrath.  Sarcasm—so often and so flippantly used these days– is just anger in a clown suit.  It can produce momentary humor and lasting pain. Offensive words create distance in relationships and destroy the safe haven we can have in our homes.  Guarding our words keeps our home a safe haven.

When we are struggling with anger, sometimes we blame people for our misbehavior.  Really they’re just exposing the deficiencies we already have and that God is already working on.  We need to own our behavior instead of blaming it on others—and then ask God to help us make changes in how we respond to other’s difficult behaviors.

Andy Andrews spoke of the tremendous importance of teaching our children—and especially our sons– two simple things:  to shake hands well, and to smile while they are speaking.  He said that these two things will do more to promise success to our kids in life than a college degree, because they speak of a willingness to reach out and connect with people that is not always seen in young folks these days.  Teach your sons these things, and also teach them to work hard, and they will be successful in life.

Sandi Patty told the story of wanting to be a singer and a dance at Disneyland as a teen, and how disappointed she was when she was not chosen.   She felt like God had said no to the deepest dreams of her heart.  A few years later she ended up singing in the Bill Gaither band, and of course she went on to have a long and hugely successful  career as a Christian music singer in her own right. Way back in her teen years, when she’d been so sure God was saying no to her dreams, he wasn’t really saying no.  He was saying yes to a dream that she couldn’t even see yet, but that was so much greater than her first dream. Has that happened in your life?   I know it has happened in mine.

A touching story was told by Patsy Clairmont about a time when her adult son was ill and near death in the hospital.  She and her husband were desperately in need of comfort and went to a lounge to sit and pray and regroup their thoughts.  She heard singing in the distance, a hymn whose words were an enormous comfort.  She followed the sound to a bathroom.  There a woman was scrubbing the floor on her hands and knees, singing her heart out to her Savior, with no idea that her words were throwing a lifeline to some desperately hurting people.

Then and there Patsy prayed:  God that I might do my work with a full heart and a song on my lips for the joy of your heart and the good of your people.  That is my prayer as well—to be an encouragement and a life-giver with words and actions wherever I go.  I came away from this conference deeply inspired and very much renewed.


In the midst of all the conference-going  Rebekah and I also managed to visit every camera store in Sacramento, to finally find the needed camera battery/charger combination, because of course I’d left my charger home as well!  Note to anyone who lives in or near Sacramento—Pardee’s is a wonderful camera store/camera museum.   If we’d had more time, I could have spend some serious time—and money—there!

Rebekah ended up going to pick up baby Gracie part way through the afternoon on Friday– the event center had a wonderful mother-baby lounge with big screen TV’s that let you hear all the speakers.  Plus there was easy access to a balcony area where we could sit and be an actual part of the audience some of the time.   I greatly enjoyed the chance to cuddle with my little niece, since I haven’t really had much time with her til now.

Sunday morning I got to attend church with Rebekah and her family, and this afternoon as soon as I get this post up and baby Gracie wakes from her nap, she and I will be going out to rake almonds with Rebekah and her almond-farmer husband Ken, who are at the tail end of almond harvest for the year.  They are hoping to get the last of the almonds off the ground and into storage this week! I will be adding pictures to this post probably sometime on Monday Tuesday, so check back and then you can see my weekend  as well as reading about it!

Baking Week: Almond Bark Extravaganza

Monday Baking
You can also:


Yesterday after spending most of the day running errands and visiting a friend, the kids and I got together for a short but productive goodie party.  In a couple hours’ time we made four different items.  The production of this grouping of goodies went really smoothly, partly because I had good help, but also because it is a nice mix of baked and freezer-set items.  Also, none of the recipes are especially complicated.  My 5 and 7 year old girls made the candied almonds almost entirely by themselves, and two of my 11 year old kids made the bread.

These goodies were quick to make and will be a lot of fun to share!


Almond Bark Haystacks

  • 1  20-ounce package chocolate flavored almond bark
  • 1 12-ounce package dark chocolate chips
  • 2 cups dry chow mein noodles (like these)
  • 4 cups raw almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt almond bark and chocolate chips in a double boiler.  (My double boiler was a metal mixing bowl set in a pot containing a couple inches of water.) When chocolate is nearly melted, put almonds and chow mein noodles in the microwave for a minute or two, just long enough to warm them.  Add almonds, noodles and salt to the melted chocolate and mix until all the surfaces are covered with chocolate.  Spread a cookie sheet with wax paper.  Using a spoon, scoop small ‘heaps’ of the chocolate mixture onto the cookie sheet, just as you would with cookie dough.  A couple tablespoons is about right– these goodies are rich!  When the cookie sheet is full of ‘haystacks’, place it in the freezer for half an hour or so, to let the chocolate harden.

almost forgot — more craftiness

Here’s what I made started while my kids were hard at work on their snowflakes. I got the idea from Jenni at One Thing, and (when I finally finished it 3 days later) I was pleased with how it turned out.

Oh, and on another craft-copying note, remember the Robinznest candied nuts recipe that I mentioned awhile back? I made it (using 10 lbs of almonds!!) and it turned out wonderful. My family and I highly recommend it. The younger kids were disappointed to learn that I planned to give at least half of that sweet goodness away. I reminded them that a sure sign of a good gift is if you’re tempted to keep it yourself.