It’s that time of year again – giving, giving, giving, receiving, receiving, receiving. Yet I challenge you to ask yourself and your loved ones to name one gift they gave or received last year that was a true gift from the heart. I may be getting old but the commercialism of the season wears me out, not just financially but emotionally as well. Some people are very helpful and send me their links to gifts they want while others resort to Elfster, a personal online shopping site because Heaven help us if you get a gift you don’t want. (Hey, I am not perfect, I have been known to exchange a gift or two in my day – sorry Mike for my rudeness – I still cherish the floral yellow dishes I picked out over the baby blue rimmed stoneware.) But this is my column and therefore, my soapbox to climb upon and pontificate the true meaning of the season.
In the famous words of John Wesley “Do all the good that you can, by all the means that you can, in all the ways that you can, in all the places that you can, at all the times that you can, to all the people that you can, as long as you ever can.” This doesn’t leave a lot of room for “I want lists” and panic last minute shopping runs.
How can we live by this? Let’s break it down, “Do all the good that you can by all the means that you can.” Some would think that is just about money but there are a lot of ways you can do good and it doesn’t cost you a dime. Doing good can be a handshake, or a smile, or listening, or a hug. A compliment can be doing good, a kiss if appropriate – there are lots of ways to do good. Or in my words, these are ways to be a good person.
How about “In all the ways that you can, in all the places that you can?” Ah, now this might be where money comes in a little. See that mom struggling to make ends meet at the grocery store? Maybe slip the cashier a $20.00 and ask that it be applied to her checkout balance. How about that teen at McDonalds going to the drive through scraping together quarters for a coke and fries? Pick up the tab at the window and say “Its on me.” Grab a few gift cards and hand them out randomly as you see the need.
And lastly, “In all the places that you can, to all the people that you can, as long as you ever can?” This is going to cost you nothing but time. Visit the school and read a book to kids in the library, take your well-behaved dog to the nursing home, have coffee with a neighbor that is homebound. Give of yourself and your time to as many people as you can as long as you ever can.
All these ideas will bring you not just joy but also energy. Giving is invigorating. With much love, Sandy
Peanut Butter White Chocolate Crock Pot Candy
1 (16 oz. pkg.) vanilla candy
coating (like CandiQuik)
1 (12 oz. bag) white chocolate chips
1 (16 oz. jar) lightly salted peanuts,
1 (10 oz. bag) peanut butter chips
Set your Crock Pot or slow cooker on low. Add the vanilla candy coating, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and 1 1/2 c. of the peanuts. Be sure to reserve the rest of the peanuts for topping the candy.
Let the ingredients melt together in the Crock Pot for 60-90 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Prepare a mini-muffin pan with mini-muffin paper liners. Once the chocolate is completely melted, begin spooning the chocolate into the cups until nearly full. Top each chocolate with the reserved peanuts.
Let the chocolates cool to set. Cool at room temperature for at least one hour. To speed up the cooling process, place the chocolates in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
Store the chocolates in an airtight container until ready to serve. Chocolates freeze well in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container.
Layered Peanut Butter and Chocolate Fudge
Peanut Butter Layer:
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. butter (2 sticks)
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
Chocolate Fudge Layer:
1 (10 oz. bag) semi-sweet chocolate
chips (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 (14 oz. can) sweetened
2 Tbsp. butter
Line a 9×9” square pan with parchment paper. Secure with binder clips to help keep the paper in place.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt together the butter and peanut butter. Microwave for 60 seconds. Stir, then microwave for another 30 seconds until melted, stirring well.
Add in the vanilla and stir to combine. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Mixture will become very thick. Press into the bottom of the lined pan. Set aside.
For the chocolate fudge layer: In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and butter. Microwave for 60 seconds. Stop and stir well. Microwave for another 30 seconds and stir until smooth and melted. Pour over the peanut butter layer. Spread evenly with a spatula, making sure all sides are evenly covered. Refrigerate the fudge for at least 2 hours (you can freeze for 1 hour) to let the fudge set before cutting into squares.
1 cup decaffeinated instant tea
2 cups orange-flavored drink mix
1 (3 ounce) package powdered
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
In a large bowl, combine instant tea powder, orange drink mix, lemonade powder, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Mix thoroughly. Store in a sealed jar.
To use, mix 3 to 4 tablespoons of mix with 1 cup hot or cold water. Adjust to taste.