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Awake at the Whisk: December 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010


Eco Holiday Tip: Re-Using Gift Wrap

Eco Holiday Tip: Re-Using Gift Wrap

There’s always one in every crowd: the Gift Wrapping Saver. As friends and family gather to tear open packages, the Gift Wrapping Saver painstakingly slides a finger under each piece of tape to gingerly separate it from the paper, unfolding the wrapping along every crease, until (seemingly) hours later the gift beneath is unveiled.

I am a Gift Wrapping Saver. I watched my grandma do this for years. As a little kid, I was never patient enough. I wanted to move quickly through my pile of presents and find the treasures inside. But as an adult, my pile of presents is much smaller. Now, I don’t mind savoring the moment by gently and slowly opening each gift.

Plus, I just hate wasting all that paper!

Golden amber packages set with wired bows. Ruby red presents tied in twine. Gleeful green gifts giddy under twirly ribbon. I love the many colors, the classic designs, and the frilly décor. So why not use it again and again?

This year, as I boxed up the various local food gifts I purchased at my farmers’ market—three berry jams, golden popcorn kernels, richly earthy olive oils, and gently seasoned nuts—it would have felt quite contrary to reach for a clean roll of newly minted, plastic-wrapped gift paper.

Instead, I pull out a worn roll of paper saved from Christmases past. With bits of tape still clinging to the edges, crease marks where a box once hid, these papers remind me of former Christmas memories, and entice me for the new ones to come.

Tip #6: hide any imperfections in the paper
on the back side or bottom of gift.
I spread the array of colors and patterns before me and select just the right paper for each gift. When I’m done, each one looks brand new. I doubt anyone ever guesses I have reused paper that is sometimes as many as six years old.

Here are my tips for making used gift wrap look new again:

  1. Tie on ribbons and bows. This dresses up the gift, and the bows themselves can be placed strategically to cover up any minor tears in the paper.

  1. Make gift tags. Like a bow, gift tags can be used to cover up any damage to old paper. Homemade gift tags also create a personal touch.

  1. Fold over the edges of the paper when you wrap. This will hide the old taped edges and make the paper look new again.

  1. As you unwrap this year’s gifts, lay the paper flat as you remove it from the package. Pile up the many pieces, laying each one flat on top of the other. When you’re done, use an old roll of wrapping paper to roll the used paper around. I like to create two rolls—one for the very large pieces, and a second for the odd and smaller sizes.

  1. Save your bows and fancy ribbon. Many of them can be used again and again.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010


Sugar Plum Punch Recipe

Sugar Plum Punch
Looking for a festive holiday cocktail? How about this Nutcracker-inspired Sugar Plum Fairy Punch! Created by the fine folks at Lounge ON20, this cocktail is an ode to the tart and sweet tastes of the season. It blends cranberry juice with homemade plum rosemary syrup. Top with beautifully sugar-coated black grapes, and you have a cheerful holiday drink.

This punch celebrates the upcoming Nutcracker performance from Pamela Hayes Classical Ballet studio. Lounge ON20 owner Ali Mackani will be dancing in the delightful holiday classic, so his restaurant stirred up this beverage in a nod to the show. If you're interested in seeing The Nutcracker this year, order your tickets soon. The ballet only runs for one weekend: December 17-19!

Sugar Plum Fairy Punch Recipe
Use a Martini Shaker and add the following ingredients except for the Champagne / Sparkling wine.
Add Ice and Shake for 10-15 seconds. Strain in a fluted Champagne glass. Top with Champange / Sparking wine.
Garnish with  Frozen Sugar Coated Black Grapes (seedless)  - Cheers

1 oz. vodka 
1 oz. Plum Wine
1 oz. Rosemary - Plum Simple Syrup
2 oz. White Cranberry Juice
.25 oz. St Germain 
.25 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
Splash of Champagne / Sparkling Wine 

Rosemary - Plum Simple Syrup Recipe
1/2 lb Seedless Black Grapes
8 oz. Sundried Plums
1 sprig of Rosemary
48 oz of Water 
3 cups of Sugar
In a sauce pan add all ingredients and slowly bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. Stain mixture. 

Frozen Sugar Coated Black Grapes
Use seedless Black Grapes
Spear two or three grapes onto a toothpick.
Roll in Sugar and place grapes on parchment paper and freeze.

Kid-Friendly Non-alcoholic Version
5 - 6 oz. White Cranberry Juice
1 oz. Rosemary - Plum Simple Syrup
.25 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 - 2 oz. of Sparkling Apple Cider
Garnish with Frozen Sugar Coated Black Grapes (seedless)

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