DIY Gifts of Tea

Image by Rebecca Angel

After water, tea is the most popular drink in the world. Here in America, the number of tea enthusiasts is growing every year. Chances are there is someone on your gift list this holiday season that geeks out about tea. So here are some ideas to make them squeal like a tea kettle in delight.

A Whole Buncha Bags: This is a good one if you are planning on giving out a tea present to several people. Buy lots of different kinds of tea that come individually wrapped. Then give each tea person on your list an assortment. The fun of this present is presentation: inside a pretty teapot, clothes-pinned on a wreath, tucked in a knitted cozy, or nestled in an elegant box. You can expand by including a tea mug, jar of honey, spoon, and a book like the classic: The Book of Tea.

Weekly Tea Gram: Who doesn’t love getting real mail? And so sweet if you have someone who lives far away. Each week, mail this person a different kind of tea. Tea bags are so light and thin, you won’t need more than the normal postage stamp. Make it a seasonal gift lasting three months, buy a 12 pack of pretty greeting cards, and put it on your calendar so you don’t forget to do the mailing!

Personal Tea Blend: For teaists on your list, nothing but loose-leaf will do. Go to your local tea shop, or if you are not lucky enough to have a teashop, buy some online. Your grocery store should have the rest of the recipe items in the spices section. Put some thought into your tea person and what they might like. Put the blend in a Mason jar decorated with ribbon and label with their name as the blend, along with a teaspoon and tea brewing bags. Here are some examples. They make about 20 cups of tea.

Thea’s On Holiday:
2 ounces black tea
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 Tablespoons dried orange peel

Ayla’s Healthy Zen:
1.5 oz green tea
1/4 cup dried berries
.5 oz raspberry leaf
.5 oz nettle

Emma’s Treat
2 oz Rooibos tea
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 Tablespoons cacao nibs
2 Tablespoons coconut flakes (unsweetened)
After mixing these together, be sure to let it air dry before packaging.

Peter’s Night Cap
2 oz chamomile flowers
2 Tablespoons cinnamon pieces
1 Tablespoon ginger
.5 oz anise hyssop (or dried licorice pieces—not candy)

Tea-infused Salts. These go for about $20/lb in the store, but are really easy and inexpensive to make yourself! The recipe is 1/2 the amount of flavoring to the salt. Again, packaging makes all the difference in a gift. Small glass bottles are the best for this one so you can see the pretty colors. The salts can be used as a finishing touch for soups, stews, grilling, or just some scrambled eggs. Any salt will do, but coarse salt looks nicest. Make all three for a colorful presentation:

Matcha Green Tea for a green color and light flavor
Lapsang Souchong for a dark color and smokey flavor (Russian Caravan works great too)
Rooibos Chai for a red color and spicy flavor.

Be sure to make extra of everything so you can enjoy the tea yourself!

Eat Like a Geek: Bonfire Night

In the United Kingdom, November 5th is known as Bonfire Night. Across the country, bonfires are lit and firework displays held to commemorate the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot way back in 1605.

There are many different foods associated with Bonfire Night although few of them could be called healthy. Among them are toffee apples, treacle toffee, and baked potatoes cooked within the fire itself, but perhaps the most classic Bonfire Night food is parkin.

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French Toast Taquitos? Yes, Please!

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Image: Oh Bite It!

Thanksgiving is over, but that doesn’t mean all the holiday cooking is done. It’s not all about sitting down at a table with the family for a giant feast, either. Christmas morning is always a big deal in our house with quite a spread, and this year I’m thinking that spread will include these French Toast Taquitos.

The recipe comes to us from Just Bite It! who knows how to make your mouth water. You start off by cooking some sausage links and then rolling them in pieces of flattened bread with the crusts cut off, because crusts are icky. The whole thing then gets dunked in the traditional egg and milk mixture before it’s all fried up until golden and delicious.

You can sprinkle this with cinnamon or powdered sugar or go nuts and use both. I plan to go nuts. There will also be real maple syrup, not that fake stuff because no one wants imitation maple product on their breakfast. Oh, yes, these most definitely are happening in my house on Christmas morning.

You can see the full recipe over at Just Bite It! and have everyone smiling the next time you make breakfast for the family.

Ten Hour Slow Cooking: Pork and Three Bean Chili

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It took me a long time to accept it, but the fact is that as a household, we just don’t have the time available to us that we would if I were a stay-at-home-mom. My husband and I both have full time jobs, and we have two children under four. This presents some challenges, and of course being the GeekMom that I am, these challenges are something that I attack with order, lists, and technology.

One of the life- and time-savers in my repertoire is my slow cooker. It may seem like an obvious option for the working mom, but I have found that most recipes out there do not rise to the challenge. The four hour recipe is most common, but as I leave the house at 7 a.m. and return close to 5 p.m., it is the ten hour recipe I need. I can switch the cooker on as I leave in the morning, turn it off as I walk in, and waste no time cooking that should be spent with my sons. I have no desire to get a timed slow cooker and let the raw food sit at room temperature for six hours before it starts to cook. Likewise I have no desire to spend thirty minutes at night or in the morning, pre-cooking food for the slow cooker, or to come home and spend twenty minutes adding ingredients for a burst of “high” cooking. Continue reading Ten Hour Slow Cooking: Pork and Three Bean Chili

Eat Like a Geek: Peppermint Toads

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My daughter recently had a Harry Potter themed birthday party. The festivities of the day are for another article, but part of the Honeydukes gift bags were homemade Peppermint Toads.

My husband and I are foodies. Why do something food related halfway when you can do it right? This includes candy recipes that call for those Wilton flavored discs that are used as candy coating. Why make candy if you are going to use those? Continue reading Eat Like a Geek: Peppermint Toads

Throwing a Wonder Woman Baby Shower

Wonder Woman Diaper Cake / Photo: Kelly Knox

Last year I helped with hosting a much less traditional baby shower for my friend, who happens to be a geek like me. If you’re new to the whole baby shower thing, or you’re looking for ideas for your nerdy gal pals, here are a few how-tos for throwing a baby shower with a Wonder Woman theme.

Choosing the Theme for a Baby Shower

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