Mid-December Recap

How is December flying by so quickly? It’s already mid-December. I can’t believe Christmas is next week! Are you done with your Christmas shopping yet?

I’ve been a bit MIA on the blog recently, due to lack of time because I’m working now and because the holiday season is always packed with adventures (what I actually mean is feasts). Activities lined up every single weekend until my parents come to town (yay, this weekend!). I’m especially excited about this year because we’re renting a cabin in Tahoe in between Christmas and New Years for my family and my in-laws. Don’t know if we’ll be skiing yet but there’ a high possibility!

Since my last post, I’ve had 3 holiday parties. One that consists of all you can eat Brazilian BBQ. And two other parties where I was one of the main head chefs (think pounds and pounds of prime rib). Here are some fun recaps from pics on my iPhone.

Here at Espetus in sequins and fur – my favorite combo!

Dinner

And now for the church Christmas parties – here are the goods. The Costco employees even commented on how much food we had in our carts!

Goods

And look at these awesome veggie trees – you simply buy a styrofoam cone, wrap it in plastic wrap to keep it from crumbling, and skewer veggies onto the cone with toothpicks. I carved stars from pineapple as toppers (remember to soak your pineapple in salt water so it doesn’t brown).

Veggie Trees

Crab cakes galore! I definitely made over 100 crab cakes.

Crab Cakes
Use my crab cake recipe here

And MEAT!

Prime Rib
My perfect prime rib recipe here

And here’s my little sweetheart guarding the presents. “You shall not open the presentz!”

Chubs' Present

I’m also taking my parents to The Christmas Story musical on Christmas Eve. Each year, Neighborhood church in Castro Valley hosts a broadway-like musical for only $5 per ticket. It’s such a great form of entertainment and good price too! Tickets are going fast so order ahead, and constantly check their site to see if there are new musicals on the horizon – totally worth the cost.

What are you most excited for during this Christmas season?
Jay

  

DIY Wine Bags & Giveaway!

Congratulations to Connie for winning this giveaway! Please check your email for shipping information. Thanks to those who participated. It’s an easy DIY, so you can still own these wine bags!

—–

I love making gifts for people. I enjoy spending time getting creative and thrifty! Since Christmas is coming up, I’ve been busy coming up with ideas for presents. Repurposing things for gifts is my hobby. That’s a hobby right?

For instance, I love using paper grocery bags for gift wrap. I like using string or baking twine for bows. It’s also time to bust out those cassette tape pom poms!

Since my wedding, I’ve had a bunch of burlap laying around. While I was drifting off to sleep, I came up with the idea of making wine bags with the burlap (I tend to come up with the best ideas while I’m about to fall asleep. I have a journal to jot down my thoughts since I’ll wake up and totally forget). These make fantastic gift bags, and it’s great if you’re hosting a wine tasting party!

Tis the season of giving, so here’s another giveaway! Just comment on this post for a chance to win.

Bags

Materials:

  • 60 inch width by 30 inch length sheet of burlap
    • As long as you have 10 inch width by 30 inch length for each bag, you’re good to go
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine
    • For the no sew approach, you’ll need double sided tape
  • Ribbon

Burlap
You need burlap, minus the cat! For some reason kitties love burlap

Here’s the tutorial:

DIY Wine Bags

CRAFTER’S TIP:

  • Burlap can be hard to manage. What I typically do to ensure I’m cutting straight is take one strand of burlap and pull the entire string through. It will create a straight line to serve as a cutting guide (numbers 2 & 3 in the tutorial above).
  • For the new sew approach, use double sided tape to tape down the edges after ironing.

For the mystery tasting party, each wine was put in the burlap bags so that all labels and types were hidden. Guests were asked to taste each and rate aroma, body, taste, and finish. After adding up the scorecard, you find out which wine you like most. It’s so fun when you find out that sometimes the cheapest wine is actually your favorite!

I created a scorecard for the wine tasting party. Feel free to use this template! Download it here.

Pens
Scorecards and pens, with glasses ready to go

Cheese
Cheese is necessary on any and every occasion

Bottles
Wine bags are numbered and hidden

PartyEnjoying at this point!

Tasting

For a chance to win three wine bags, comment on this post!

Cheers!
Jay
—–
Only one entry per email. Email must be valid. Shipping address must be in the United States. This giveaway ends at 11:30pm PST on 12/10/13. Winner will drawn and announced on Wednesday, 12/11/13 at 12:00am PST via blog and email provided.

  

Advent Conspiracy & Fair Trade

Why do we celebrate Christmas? Truly think about that question.

Christmas tree

As a follower of Christ, I celebrate Christmas because it marks the birth of our Savior. Jesus came down to earth to walk with sinners and eventually paid for our debts. But for some reason, Christmas is about wish lists and presents. We rack our brains trying to figure out the “best gift.” But is there ever such a thing as the perfect gift? To be honest, if you wanted something really badly, don’t you just purchase it for yourself anyway?

This past Sunday at church, I was asked to share about Advent Conspiracy. This is a movement to bring Christmas back to what it really means, the birth of Jesus, not the consumption of goods. It’s hard for me to completely give up the idea of presents because I really do love giving presents. It’s usually the one chance I can buy gifts for people and show them a bit of love.

I recently entered into a Pinterest contest hosted by Global Partners to showcase fair holiday gifts. Then I thought to myself, I can buy fair trade Christmas presents, a gift with a huge story and a huge impact. With fair trade products, you are breaking cycles of poverty and paying for someone else’s dignity and independence. When you buy these products, you’re making the world a little bit better, sometimes in the poorest and darkest countries in the world. God called us to love the poor, the marginalized, and the outcasts. Purchasing fair trade is an action that can display faith.

Ultimately, buying fair trade is a way to live out the Gospel.

I made some stickers to be stuck on credit card to remind people to purchase thoughtfully this season. They look like the “activate your credit card” stickers. Maybe you’re interested in giving these stickers to a few friends, colleagues, and/or your congregation. Feel free to print them out on sticky paper, and stick it onto your credit cards! Download the sticker template here.

Activate

I’m posting a fair trade gift guide for those of you that need some ideas – consumables, gifts for women, men, and the little ones. See some of the awesome things I found online. There’s a range of costs so you can buy something that is within your budget.

Consumables
1 Divine Chocolate Holiday Gift Set (6 items) $39.99 // 2 Choice Tea Sampler (12 ct) $3.49 // 3 Canaan Fair Trade Infused Olive Oil 2-pack $28.99 // 4 Alaffia Spa Gift Set $30.00 // 5 Thanksgiving Coffee 4-Pack $48.00 // 6 Trade As One Gift of Good (one-time gift) $99.00

Women
1 Sweetheart top from Mata Traders $37.99 // 2 Aquamarine studs from Given Goods Co $109.00 // 3 Arrow clutch from Sseko Designs $65.99  // 4 Lace and leather pouch from Hearts $14.00 // 5 Camera strap from Fotostrap $85.00 // 6 Stationary from Noonday Collection $18.00 // 7 Print from Sevenly $24.00

Gifts for men
Blackwood sunglasses by SOLO eyewear $78.00 // 2 Bottle opener and horseshoe magnet from Sevenly $28.00  // 3 Men’s chukka boot from Oliberté $140.00 // 4 Watch from Fair Indigo $55.90 // 5 “To My Health” flask from Sevenly $34.00 // 6 Print from Sevenly $24.00

For the Kids r1
Alpaca baby beanie from The Little Market $28.00 // 2 Balancing monkeys from Rosie Hippo $23.00 // 3 Wooden fruit set from Rosie Hippo $20.00 // 4 Wooden stable from Bella Luna Toys $179.95 // 5 Wooden marble run from Bella Luna Toys $94.95 // 6 Knit donuts from Rosie Hippo $19.00 // 7 Cotton receiving blanket from Rosie Hippo $14.00

Are there any products that are your favorite? Do you have any fair trade items you’re putting on your wish list? Perhaps now you can buy a bit more consciously this year.

Let’s bring Christmas back to what it truly means – Jesus and giving for good.

In His Love,
Jay
—–
For even more fair trade ideas, check out my Pinterest board