Giving Back with Christmas in a Shoebox

Ever year when Christmas comes up I think “Oh I could no should do this charity thing.” Every time I think I get into it later. Every year I am too late. This year I really want to do it because honestly is there anything holding me back besides my laziness? My perfect happy world where I pretend I have oh so many problems, stress and burdens? No I don’t! I have a family, a roof and food on the table, even a job and free time to do things I love. I can go out at night without being scared and more often than not I take all that for granted. Isn’t it time to give back. Time to show some appreciation. Time to share at least my wealth.

Christmas in a Shoebox giving back

As I said this thought is not new. Last year I was too late for the “Weihnachten im Schuhkarton” project. This year I am right on time. It starts today. If you are not familiar with it keep on reading.

It is pretty simple: You pack up a shoebox of gifts for a child who might have never opened a present before. There are a few ground rules like only new stuff, differentiate between boy/girl and age, and no war associated toys. Then drop it of with a 8€/9$ donation at one of the many places world wide. Voila you are done.

And even if that is too hard: You can just do it online by sending the donation via payable right now.

Not that hard. Read about the Christmas in a Shoebox project in more detail here in German / English.

Last year 11 million boxes were packed. The most boxes were packed in the U.S. but what kinda blew my mind was that Great Britain hold second place. Before Canada and all German Speaking Countries. So I looked a bit closer – because sometimes I am a numbers nerd – and realised that over half a million packed boxes looks a lot on paper it is still only 1-2% of the population. However it also makes me quite sad that Germany comes in at 0,44%. I don’t know something just doesn’t feel right there. Is this country really so self absorbed? I hope not.

Anyhow maybe you want to join me in this little thing (you can do so until November 15th). I went shopping for the first items today. I am still pondering the budget I set myself on but here is a list of things that might work for a 5-9 year old girl:

  • coloring book
  • diary with lock
  • pens, crayons, water color
  • chalk for street art
  • skipping rope
  • doll
  • stuffed animal – check
  • beads
  • necklace
  • tooth brush & tooth paste
  • headband
  • mittens
  • scarf
  • Hot chocolate powder
  • some chocolate
  • gummy bears

Happy October to you,

Tobia

If you are interested in this project read last years report.

Disclaimer: This post contains links to the Operation Christmas Child. Due to current (German) law this needs to be labelled advertising. However I was not paid to talk about it, I just think it’s a nice little project to do.

Christmas tree decorating habits

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Lot’s of people have there Christmas tree already put up. In Germany maybe not als long as in the US. In my family the tree was brought to the house late on the 23rd or in the morning of Christmas Eve. For us it has always been a real tree. And those need to unfold a bit before being decorated.

When I grew up my mom used to decorate the tree. Usually after she was done with preparations in the kitchen and when my dad took over to prepare his part of the Christmas dinner. (but that is a story for another day.) We children didn’t get to see the tree until Christmas Eve after church. What was usually early evening.

Our tree was rather traditional with some silver balls, wooden toys, straw stars and some chocolate rings with sprinkles (who knows which ones I mean?!). Also there were some more wrapped chocolate figurines. And we had real candles. We had the tradition of undecorating the tree after New Years when we were allowed to pick one of the candies daily from the tree.

I do not know how long this practices lasted. There was a year when I had an idea for a different decorated tree and suggested it to my mom. That was the year when tradition changed and my mom and I started to decorate it together. The “new” tree was decorated mainly by natural things: dried fruits, pinecones, nuts, cinnamon sticks, star anise and such. What we kept was the real candles. Instead of the Christmas balls we used apples. My parents still do that and when I spent Christmas with them, that is the tree I am seeing. And often it is still my “chore” to decorate.

natural christmas treeTo be honest I can hardly remember the first version of the tree and I doubt my little sister knows we once had a different tree.

As you can see the concept of changing up the Christmas decoration yearly as some people do is rather foreign to me – not that I don’t admire that.

So it comes to no surprise that in my own home and with my own tree I also follow the same theme year in and year out. My tree now is always silver and white. Over all it is a rather simple version of a tree. It all starts with white and silver balls. (We received those as a wedding gift by my aunt to be always reminded of snow. I thought that was one great gift.) And then I add my real candles. I have never had a tree with electric lights and wouldn’t even know how to get them on there. In the first years I created one new ornament every year and added them to the tree. I am now at a point were I do have enough and can’t hang all. I do collect some cute little ornaments like my silver bells or my little pottery trees.

white silver christmas treeSince we are usually spending Christmas Eve and Christmas with family I decorated my tree on the 23rd. But I will not light candles before Christmas. It just doesn’t feel right.

I usually take down the tree around January 6th. Often I am a bit lazy though. Because one disadvantage of using real candles is that it will make a huge mess. I have to clean all my glass balls and the candle holders and often the floor. It’s not done in an hour. But it is worth all the trouble to me.

The whole tree decorating business is quite different with everyone. I know a lot of people who do it like I have done all my life and the tree is only being put up Christmas Eve. But I feel like in recent years the trees are being decorated earlier and earlier. Some beginning of Advent some when ever it suits.

I got a real cultural shock when I spent my year in the U.S. and was rather perplex when right after Thanksgiving Dinner a big box was open, a fake Christmas tree unfolded and ornaments put up. It was so weird seeing the tree 5 weeks leading to Christmas. What I really enjoyed though was all the presents being collected underneaths. I liked that tradition a lot and adopted that. What really blew my mind though was when Christmas Day right after everyone open the presents the big box was put out again and the tree put back in the attic. I was really dumbfounded with that. For me Christmas was just beginning and here my host family was done with it. If someone asks me I often say that I didn’t really had a Christmas in 1999.

It is so interesting how everyone is having so different traditions and rituals. So if you have a few minutes to spare please let me know how your tree looks like and when you are putting it up.

Wishing you a wonderful Merry Christmas and the best of times with all your loved ones,

Tobia

Little Beech Nut Bells in Red and White – Tutorial

creative DIY_beech nut bells decoration

Yes, I think the Holiday Season has started for me. Today I want to share another tutorial for this those cute beech nut bells in red and white with you.

I really don’t know how I came up with the idea. I think I was talking one of my walks through the park or my favorite cemetery and just saw those beech nuts lying all around on the ground. Don’t they look like little calyx or bells? And then weeks later I was shopping and came across those festive little red bells.

➢ KEEP ON READING

Pine Needle Wreath – Advent Wreath 2017

pine needle advent wreath | adventskrank aus nadeln

Hey there,

Writing my advent wreath posts is the sole reason this blog exists. Yes, pretty sure it is true. This year I want to share a Pine Needle Wreath with you. Not a regular pine wreath but one made of needles.

You may wonder what the difference is? Oh there is one! Mainly time. But lets start from the beginning!

➢ KEEP ON READING

Spicy Chai Cookies – My all Time Favorite

You know how much I love this season by now. And I might have mentioned here and there that I am totally baking crazy.

spicy chai cookies the best

I remember one year where I bought 12 kg of flour and baked it all in one weekend. It was insane. I am not doing that anymore but I am still baking way too much. I mean there are just so many fun recipes out there. But than there are the all time favorites. And the repertoire gets larger with every year…

baking spree
I have this unwritten rule with myself: For every known/proofed/favorite recipe I bake there must be an unknown one. This way it is not getting too boring but at least 50% of the cookies taste good.

One year I made 12 different cookies. So it was a surprise the other day when I realized there is not one Christmas Cookie Recipe on this blog. Time to change that and today I spill my most favorite recipe of recent years.

Spicy Chai Cookies

spicy chai cookies

While I love cookies and sugared goodies this time of year it just sometimes gets too much. And that is when those cookies come in. They change up the cookie jar with it’s spicyness and a bit savory taste.

What you need:
∗ 125 g butter, soft
∗ 75 g sugar – I usually use about 50 g
* 1 pinch of salt
* 1 egg
* 4 bags of Yogi tea / chai tea – I only use the ones based on black tea and found this one to be the best
* 1/2 tsp grounded pepper – sometimes I add more
* 100 g brittle
* 250 g flour
* 1 egg yolk
* 2 tbs milk
* 2 packs of vanilla sugar

Directions:

1. Whisk butter, sugar and salt until smooth. Add the egg.

2. Cut open tea bag and put into a bowl. Add half of the tea, pepper, 50g of brittles and flour to the butter mix. Knead until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and let the dough rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Try not to eat too much dough.

3. Preheat oven to 160-180°C. Roll dough onto floured surface and either cut cookies with knife or use a cookie cutter. Put cookies on baking sheet lined with baking paper.

4. Mix egg yolk and milk and coat cookies. Add remaining brittles and vanilla sugar to the remaining tea and cover cookies. Bake for about 7-10 minutes until golden and crunchy.

spice cookies

This makes for approx. 100 cookies. And they usually don’t last long. Unfortunately! My supply this year is already gone. Maybe I make another batch.

What is your favorite cookie recipe? Please share I always want to try new recipes.

Happy baking

Tobia