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This is the first year that I’m being hard-core about homemade gifts.

collection of jars

I’m totally going to toot my own horn right now: I’ve eaten enough of my own canned goods to know that they’re pretty tasty. There are some talented canning bloggers out there who have yet to steer me wrong. I’ve also not hospitalized anyone, and the few “test” jars I’ve given to friends and family have received great reviews, so I’m going bigger. Almost everyone who receives a gift from me this year will receive at least one jar of something I’ve canned this year.

Like so many other bloggers, including Ring Finger Tan Line, who gave me a box of her goodies a couple weeks ago, I’m sending boxes of goodies to college buddies and family members. Those lucky people will get an assortment of sweet and spicy roasted almonds, jams, pickled peppers, and candied clementines.

pickled pepper close-up

I haven’t published posts about everything I’ve canned this year, but here is a round-up of the various jars my friends and family will be receiving, just in case you’re wondering which recipes I wound up deeming “gift-worthy.” Enjoy!

As you can see, things are pretty heavy on the peach-strawberry side this year. I may try to get in a batch of something with apple or pear before the weekend, to mix things up a bit, but it’s also nice to have the taste of summer when it’s cold outside. (If you’re not in Austin, that is.)

jar labels

Now, let’s talk about packaging. I went pretty simple with my jars this year. I tried the whole “fabric under the ring” thing, but it just isn’t me. Instead, I got craft paper gift tags, plus a stamp, from a  craft store, and stamped each label with the “Homemade for the Holidays” stamp. On the back of the tag, I either signed my name or suggested ways to use this particular preserve. Then, I tied a bow around the ring with raffia and attached the gift tag. For the lids, I wasn’t a fan of my Sharpie scrawl on metal, so I cut out circles out of craft paper (tedious, but pretty) and used adhesive spray to attach the paper to the lid. Then, I labeled the jar with the  contents and the month/ year I packed the jar.

Maybe next year I’ll get even braver and there will be a Christmas giveaway!

You guys, I won something on the internet! The illustrious Laura from Ring Finger Tan Line, a blog I started following a couple of months ago, held one of those awesome foodie giveaways. The gift was the same box of homemade goodies she’s sending to her college buddies, and included hot cocoa mix, homemade marshmallows, spiced nuts, chocolate bacon (yes, you read that right), and homemade cheek highlighter.

Plus, since RFTL and I are in the same city, she hand-delivered it to me! I got to meet a real, live Austin food blogger, in the wild, AND her mom. I’m pretty sure I was a total nerd– meeting a blogger I follow is a little like meeting a celebrity for me– but D assures me I was super cool. This is why I love him. But no, I was a total nerd. Ah, well.

Anyway, let me show you my loot! The photos are not up to my usual standard (ha), but in my defense, I really felt like I needed to take photos right this second, despite the fact that it was stony dark, because I  promptly tore into everything. Laura has pretty pretty pictures over on her blog, if you’d like to see them.

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{ hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows }

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{ chocolate-covered bacon }

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{ sassy christmas card }

Thanks, Laura!

This scarf hasn’t gotten very far, but this is the easiest pretty stitch I know. I’ve done a traditional 2 x 2 rib stitch before, but this one is way prettier! I’m knitting it on a super-soft, super bulky alpaca yarn that Handsome bought me for Christmas last year. He intended me to learn to crochet with this yarn, but crochet has eluded me so far.

(Note to family and friends: many of the crafts posted here are destined to be wrapped in Christmas paper and opened in December. Act surprised.)

It’s pretty simple: Cast on any number of stitches, as long as it’s a multiple of 3, plus 1. I did 22 stitches (7 x 3, + 1). Row 1: Slip the first stitch purlwise, , knit 1, purl 1, *knit 2, purl 1,* repeat from * until last stitch, knit this stitch. Repeat until scarf is desired length!

Because I am knitting my super chunky yarn on needles that are the teensiest bit too small, my scarf is going to be super warm, but will also probably require 3 skeins of yarn to finish. However, had I used a regular bulky yarn, it would probably be a one skein project.

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