Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 Ways of Giving: Adopt a Family

I've been working hard on this way of giving, so hard that my brain hasn't been focused on any other fun ways of giving!

But this is my favorite EVER way of giving during this season. 

I have been doing angel trees since I was a little tot.  When we were young my parents would bring us to this store next to Ben Franklin in Nevada and pick out an angel.  We got to buy fun and practical gifts for the angel based on what she wanted and needed. 

In high school and college, I helped with the City of Ames angel tree.  I would call families to tell them they had been selected for the angel tree, I'd get an angel, buy gifts, help wrap the gifts at the police station, deliver gifts, be at the station coordinating gift pick-up... I got a bunch of friends together to package Christmas dinners in big brown paper bags for all the families.  I was REALLY involved, and I loved every minute of it. 

The last few years, I've decided to rally the troops, and with a little help from my parents and my grandparents, I provided gifts for a family in need through the Adopt a Family program with the Boys and Girls Club. 

I got a family of 4.  A 70 year old woman, an 18 year old girl, 16 year old boy and a 7 year old girl. 

They all wanted coats and shoes, and no one but the girl put anything on their wish list that wasn't clothes!  But I got a little creative and got some AWESOME gifts for everyone in the family. 

For the little girl, I got her a Barbie! It's been so long since I bought a Barbie... it was so much fun. 

Here are some pics of the loot.  It isn't all there, but you get the idea!

I got the coats and some of the clothes and shoes at Burlington Coat Factory.  They are NAME BRANDS and they weren't expensive at all!  Also, the older woman and the boy needed 3X, and they were just as inexpensive as the normal sizes at Burlington.  SCORE! 

Anyway, enough of the random store promotion. 

I had so much fun doing this project, and I'm sad it's over, but now maybe my brain can handle thinking of some other fun ways of giving before the big day!  (Christmas)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

12 Ways of Giving: Helping my Mom

So, my second way was so enjoyable that I almost didn't consider it a way of giving.  But let that serve as a valuable lesson, and party of the purpose of this whole project...  Giving can be fun!

I got off a little early because I was working Saturday, so I headed to Ames to help my mom get ready for her wine tasting party.  If you don't know anything about Wine Shop At Home, check out her page.  It's like a tupperware party but with wine instead of tupperware.  Who doesn't want wine showing up at their doorstep?

So I got to Ames around 2:30 and got cooking right away.

I frosted some sugar cookies that my mom had made.

And then I started on the mini pumpkin cupcakes.

While those were in the oven, I made some olive pinwheels.

Now, you can find a sugar cookie recipe anywhere, and pumpkin cupcakes are a dime a dozen... But these olive pinwheels were DELISH, and not a ho-hum appetizer.

Here's how they go...

Olive Pinwheels (from Pepperidge Farms)

  • 1 pkg. (17.3 ounces) Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed (but still cold, I left a sheet out and it stuck together)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  •   3 tbsp. olive tapenade
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F.  Stir the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork or whisk.
  2. Unfold 1 pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface.  Roll the pastry sheet into a 10x10-inch square.  Spread half the tomato paste on the pastry.  Top with half the tapanade.  Sprinkle with half the mozzarella cheese and half the Parmesan cheese. Starting at one side, roll up like a jelly roll, only to the center.  Roll up the opposite side to the center. Brush between the rolls with the egg mixture, then press the rolls together.  Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet.
  3. Cut each roll into 20 (1/2-inch) slices, making 40 in all.  Place the slices, cut-side down, onto baking sheets.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Brush the slices with the egg mixture.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.  Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.
I made a few adjustments to my second roll, I only used the olive tapenade and parm cheese.  I actually liked those a little better.  The tomato paste brings out the olive flavor, but the ones without tomato sauce are much tamer and probably more universally accepted.

I will say, both my dad and uncle, who according to my mom  and aunt HATE olives, liked both of them.

It was a fun night, and I got to do what I love doing must, cook!