December 7, 2009

'Tis better to give... Neighbor gift ideas

Today and Wednesday I thought I would share some ideas for crafts and books that make great holiday gifts! Friday I have a special surprise for you, so stay tuned!

Neighborhood Gifts

Every year I give a little something to each of the families on our block. Okay, I don't actually make something for every single house (there are 16) because some of our neighbors are reclusive and others are just... odd. But our normal, friendly neighbors always get a knock on the door the week before Christmas to be greeted by three smiling faces and something yummy.

Once that something was decorated Bready Bears - warm, yeasty rolls that look like adorable teddy bears. Last year when my husband worked for Anheuser-Busch, we gave everyone a bottle of high-quality beer and a bag of homemade beer bread mix. It was a big hit. I put the mix and the beer bottle in a paper bag and tied it up with raffia, attaching a note with baking instructions and Christmas wishes. The packages looked adorable and I'm sad I didn't take a picture. (This was before I blogged and began taking pictures of everything!)

This year I'm getting a little more ambitious and planning on making peanut brittle. My husband's aunt Susie sends us some every year and it's to die for. She gave me the recipe when I was first married, but I've never had to attempt to make it myself. This is the year I'm going to do it! If you're feeling adventurous, go ahead and fix your own batch. Link back to me and let me know how it turned out!

Susie Mountcastle's Peanut Brittle

2 cups sugar
2 cups raw peanuts
2 t baking soda
1 cup white karo syrup
2 T butter
1 t vanilla
  1. Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil.
  2. Add the 2 cups sugar and 1 cup Karo syrup.
  3. Stir and cook on high until dissolved. Boil until it spins a thread (when spoon is held up, drip will spin thread - about 10 minutes).
  4. Add peanuts and cook slowly on medium to med-high heat until it turns golden brown - about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Add butter and stir until it melts.
  7. Add vanilla and soda.
  8. Stir quickly and pour onto 2 well-greased (buttered) cookie sheets.
  9. Let cool.
  10. Break apart and enjoy! (Or put into tins for your neighbors. Your choice. :)

The Book - If I Found a Wistful Unicorn: A Gift of Love by Ann Ashford

I am so excited that this book is back in print! First published in the 70s, it's one of the sweetest little books. The story is a series of scenarios and questions to the reader, including the title:
If I found a wistful unicorn
and brought him to you all forlorn,
would you pet him?
The questions are poignant and funny:
If my wart decided yesterday
to be a dimple anyway,
would you notice?
They all lead to the final statement:
If any of these you say you'll do
I'll never have to ask of you,
do you love me?
The illustrations are simple, beautiful water colors, with hidden surprises (such as a unicorn) in every one. I've given this book to the children of several of my closest friends. It's a simple message of love and friendship for the friends I love! Order a few of your own and share the joy!


  1. Oh yum-o I love peanut brittle but I've never once thought about making it! You have lucky neighbors:)

  2. Thank you for your kind comment. I am an avid reader myself. I created a reading corner in my home for my kiddos! I think you would really like it after spending some time on your cite! Check it out at

    I am a follower now!

  3. I do so enjoy all of your wonderful ideas. I'll have to check this book out.


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