Pacific Northwest

November, 2005
Regional Report

Soothe Aches and Pains

Along with holiday cheer, winter can bring aches and pains. You can create a comforting, reusable heat pack to give as a gift. Just fill a sock with uncooked white rice and tie a knot in the end. Decorate it by tying a strip of fabric or ribbon around the knot and add a card explaining how to use it. Or, sew a small pillow-like square from two washcloths, a folded hand towel, or any fabric scrap. Fill it with uncooked rice and sew up the end, like a bean bag. Make it any size you want. This homespun heating pad holds heat for up to 30 minutes after just 2 or 3 minutes on high in the microwave. It can be reheated again and again. Your gift of warmth will soothe away holiday stress.

Create Warm Wishes

Those small legumes, grains, dehydrated vegetables, and bouillon in your cupboard will make a great soup to simplify someone's busy day during the holidays. Layer them in a pint jar and include instructions to make the cook on your list grateful that dinner can be so easy. In a clean, thoroughly dry, pint canning jar, layer any combination of roughly 1/4 cup of any small dry legumes, grains, or dehydrated vegetables. I use lentils, diced potatoes, split peas, chopped onions, diced carrots, sliced mushrooms, millet, rice, barley, or alphabet macaroni. After layering the dry ingredients attractively in the jar, add 1/4 cup bouillion (any flavor), and top with a jar lid and ring. To dress it up, screw the ring over a fabric scrap covering a small batting scrap, then tie a ribbon or piece of yarn around the ring. Attach instructions, which should read: "Combine the jar's contents with 6 quarts boiling water. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until legumes are soft, about one hour. If desired, add fresh meat and vegetables after cooking for about 30 minutes."

Make a Simple Log Bird Feeder

I save small limbs when we prune, cut them into 12-inch lengths, and drill holes all around the entire log. In the winter I fill the holes with a mixture of peanut butter and birdseed, add rope or chain for hanging, and place it out in a tree. It's very popular with birds and looks quite natural in the landscape.

Flavor Vinegar With Herbs

Make up your own flavored vinegars by using your favorite herbs and/or spices. The possibilities are endless. Place the herbs and vinegar in a covered jar or bottle and let it set in a cool place, out of direct sunlight, for two to three weeks. Shake the bottle occasionally.

Make a Sachet

Make a sachet from a small piece of fabric with a simple ribbon tie. Fill it with any of the following that you've harvested from your garden: rose petals, lemon thyme leaves, lemon verbena leaves, and lavender flowers. Or you can use cotton balls with vanilla powder and cinnamon sticks, or orange peels and cloves.

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