Edible Gifts

parish christmas biscuits

The photo above shows the shortbread and soul cakes which i made for our recent Parishes meeting to add a little festive something.

Edible gifts can be a great present at this time of year, be it a tin of biscuits for a group of people (makes a change from the usual chocolate selection box where everyone leaves the coconut ones) or a few choice treats in a pretty box or bag. Here are some recipes which i recommend

Chocolate Brownies recipe from BBC Good Food (tried and tested and someone declared they were the best he had ever tasted – i used dark chocolate all the way through though swapping it for the milk and white in the recipe)

Chocolate Truffles recipe from BBC Good Food – a bit messy to make but utterly delicious. I made some a few weeks ago and added cherry liquor although i wasn’t really sure you could taste it

Shortbread – recipe can be found on this previous blogpost. From experience with my oven i cook them on the top shelf but see what your oven is like

I like the idea of making fudge although I’ve never tried it and they would look lovely in these pretty snowflake bags from Lakeland

lakeland festive bags

 

Book review catchup

Ive got through around 60 books since my last review (although 20 of them were an Agatha Christie audiobook spree) so theres a lot to be catching up on, including the ones I never reviewed last winter. So coming soon is the continuation of the Jenny Colgan, Hester Browne and Amanda Grange fest, a brush with the Recency fluff of Georgette Heyer, John Dies at the End and what happened to him afterwards, discovering Cecelia Ahern, Zombies and my recent obsession with Teen Dystopia.

Although I’ve got behind on my reviews I have been tweeting a lot of what I have been reading with photos which you can see by going to my twitter feed on the right, and they are in my Good Reads feed also

Christmas Charity

Bunsen_and_Beaker_as_the_poor_collectors

Christmas is a time when people’s minds turn to giving to charity, however with such a wealth of organisations how do you decide where to give. Some people have personal experience of a loved one in need through either illness or circumstance, whereas others would just like to help the world in what way they can. At this time of year, despite all the bustle and commercialism it is also a time to think about peace and goodwill. Above Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker play the charity collectors in The Muppet Christmas Carol (image source). Here are just a few ideas for helping others this Christmas. Please click on the organisation links to read more about how these charities help people.

RNLI christmas card

The RNLI is an organisation I have great respect for. These volunteers provide a 24h on call search and rescue service, saving lives of those at sea and also during flooding. Each year they sell a range of christmas cards. Of course the ones of them rescuing Santa I like the best. They even do a personalised children’s book of the big Santa rescue

There may be something local you can take part in. This year I have been donating sweets to the local foodbank. The food bank collects donations of non perishable food, which is used to supply emergency supplies to people in crisis. They have a shopping list (so that people don’t end up with just baked beans) and at this time of year they are looking for a few special items such as sweets for the children… oh and toothpaste too. The internet is a good place to search for your local branch, however many supermarkets, churches, organisations such as the WI and businesses have collection points.

Although Christmas is supposed to be a happy festive time of year, there are some people for whom life can be very difficult through sadness, loneliness or depression. Charities such as MIND and the Samaritans are there for people in need

charity shop purchases

Rather than just buy someone that random bath stuff gift, have a think about what they like and have a look in your local charity shop. A gift doesn’t have to be new. You may find the book they have been wanting to read, or a particular china figurine that you know they collect, or nice crockery or just something completely random that you know they will like.

mapaction logo rgb - blue

And if you want to help those in crisis abroad, give a thought to Map Action who provide humanitarian aid to disaster areas through information mapping. Map Action deploys rapid response unit of trained GIS (Geographic Information Systems) volunteers to areas which have suffered from disasters such as typhoons, cyclones, disease outbreak, flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes and provide aid work in conflict torn countries. When disaster occurs the first thing people need to know is What and Where. Which transport routes are open or blocked, where is the outbreak, where the power is still in operation, location of health facilities, population densities, the list goes on. Their most recent deployments have been to Liberia and Sierra Leone assisting in the Ebola outbreak. Please take a look at their website and see how the collection and dissemination of information can help save lives.

There are many many other ways to help, not only by donating money but purchasing merchandise or getting actively involved yourself.