Another holiday to celebrate and to decorate for…I LOVE it! Holidays and their celebrations have been a huge part of my life since I was a little girl watching my grandmother wrestle with a very large spray painted white tree branch while securing it in a large can full of paster of paris. Why the plaster of paris? She was making an Easter tree of course, where she was to hang eggs that she had dyed and then blown out their contents. I remember surprising my great aunt, Auntie who was covertly wrapping Easter basket contents while hiding in the bathroom, in little clusters of purple cellophane tied with bits of satin ribbon. My memories are strong and after loosing them for a bit while in college and in the early years of my marriage, they were reawakened by the birth of my children and have not been forgotten since. A neighbor who became a close friend of mine in the townhouse development we lived in our early years while we were both raising children of the same age together, once stated when she came into the house for playgroup, “Is there a holiday you do not decorate for Meg? It’s only President’s Day weekend!”
When I left home to head to college, part of the celebration of a holiday were the packages that my mom sent to me and my cousins in college, on their birthdays, when they had babies and “to this day.” She has not stopped mailing her packages. Packages of interesting contents, found treasures and goodies that she thinks the recipient might enjoy that sometimes brings the recipient a perplexed look. I took her lead when my no longer younguns took their departures from home base. Our daughter graduated in May from college, got a big time job in NYC where she now lives as an adult. That is, until she called about two weeks ago to ask if I was still planning on sending her a Valentine’s Day package for she was really missing those chocolate chip scones I make every year at this time.
So I assembled a package filled with homemade goodies and sweet treats that I had picked up bit by bit on my many grocery shopping trips for the family.
My care packages have elicited a few comments from the postal clerk at the counter who as they weigh them have commented, “Something smells good in here,” in response to the Halloween package that went out to two of my fledgling adults that contained a very fragrant chocolate chip pumpkin bread. Another one caused the clerk to ask if I had a bowling bowl in the package. When they ask the question, “Do you need additional insurance,” it makes me smile for who needs additional insurance for the edibles that have no real value contained inside except for the love they are prepared with? That is a priceless commodity. One little tip that I have come across when you send these packages that are as heavy as a bowling ball is to use flat rate shipping boxes at the post office. They have a small, medium and large size in the front of every post office and they are a flat rate for each size no matter the weight. I always grab a few to keep at home so I am not running around looking for a box last minute. Sometimes, if the package is small and light, it is a better value to mail in your own box.
I always make the above mentioned chocolate chip scones and every year I add a different treat or two to the repertoire.
This year, I tackled raspberry linzer cookies. I have always wanted to to make these favorites, but have resorted to a raspberry linzer tart for they are much easier to make. This year was the year to dive in and it really is not difficult, you just need more time…and we all have lots of that, right?
Besides going into that care package, they are being gifted to the awe inspiring grandmother who wielded the tree branch and whose favorite is raspberry jelly.
Another treat that I tackled whose recipe I have torn out of magazine after magazine over the years, is homemade marshmallows. They always look so pretty and I really was dying to taste the difference between the store bought ones. I have to be honest with you in that this choice was a challenging one. The first batch never set and after making the second, I realized that was probably due to an expired pack of unflavored gelatin that I must have used. You will find out about the marshmallow mishap further on in this post. I have posted a link for the recipe of the successful batch below which I pulled from the Martha Stewart website, of course.
Add some homemade hot chocolate mix packaged up pretty that I made before Christmas and have used all through the holidays and into the Super Bowl, and you have a cute little gift.
The bags are small cellophane ones picked up at the craft store and tied with bakers twine. If you make these marshmallows, package them separately.
The see through window bags we get in bulk from U-Line and the spoon tags and cute little milk jar glass I found in the dollar section at Target. We do have some awesome milk jug type glasses coming in for the Spring Barn Sale!
The bottom line with the treats that you make is their packaging. It really does not take much to elevate them to gift giving status.
Some ribbon to tie around some see through bags,
some pretty candy that are in coordinating colors
and some cute gift tags that you can either purchase or make yourself. I am always on the look out for clearance items like these and found these cute little numbers at World Market while on vacation in North Carolina.
The card is the culminating part of the care packages and or gift and I have always been a sucker for stationary. Love these vintage inspired ones from Punch Studio that I found, again on clearance, at Barnes and Noble.
After packaging up all of the sweet treats I had to set up a cute little stylized photo shoot of product that we have in for our upcoming spring sale. With Maggie, taking photos, this is what we came up with.
To fill the adorable white pitcher, we cut out heart shapes from pretty paper that echoed the colors of the vintage table cloth. We then glued them together with a skewer inserted between the two hearts.
Assembled in the white pitcher, they created the pop we were looking for in our tableau, with our handmade German siding frames setting the color palette brushed two shades of a pale pink. Rose quartz is the pantone color of the year and here we added pops of it all with our pastel batter bowls.
We added some other goodies and I think we made a pretty scene. What thinks you?
One of the downsides of all of this prettiness and the making of the goodies is that they look so darn appealing and yummy that you cannot resist eating them. Keeping them from my clan at home before they eat all of the gifts, treats and props is also an issue. Case in point as Aidan walked in from school and promptly bit into one of the scones on the counter asking with his mouth full, “Am I not supposed to eat these yet?” They know better now, after polishing off whole trays of “props” before they were even put on stage!
We added a late afternoon cup of tea and this shot is a wrap! Now it is time to hit the gym, for Maggie was not around to shoot the Mardi Gras goodies except for the after. There has been way too much cookie nibbling and sweet munching around here. Guess it is okay, for the barn repointing project is now complete and we will all be getting a work out moving everything back in next week.
Unfortunately, she was there to shoot the marshmallow mishap…
Note to self, when the recipe calls for a stand up mixer, buy one. For beating the batter for 12 minutes might result in one taking ones hand off the bowl to change hands, thus causing the bowl to spin out of control dumping half the batter all over ones self and anything around it. Have you ever cleaned up MARSHMALLOW batter? It’s main ingredient is sugar…
So may your Valentine’s Day surround you with ideas to show those you care about, just how much you care!
Happy Valentine’s Day
Raspberry Linzer Cookies recipe:
Chocolate chip scones and hot cocoa mix recipe in this link: