Giving Thanks – Weekly Stroller Hikes E-Newsletter (1)

Giving Thanks

The holiday season is upon us! As my sibling, Craig, gears up for Black Friday, planning on spending little money (but lots of energy) buying presents for family and friends, Max and I work on homemade gifts. We’ll spend as little money and as much energy as Craig, but avoid the crowds, and end up with a unique product that can’t quite be bought anywhere. Interested in doing the same? You might like our list of homemade gifts from this year and years in the past:

Four-Grain Spicy Pancake Mix (All the dry stuff in a pretty jar, with directions)

Chilled Cookie Dough Rolls (Spicy Vegan* Finnish Ginger Cookies in a roll, with directions) or Frozen Cookie Dough (Vegan* Ginger Chocolate Cookies in pre-dropped, frozen tablespoons – freeze the raw cookies in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then fill a pretty Chinese To-Go Box and tape on directions.) * Why vegan? No egg means less of an issue of bacteria-laden dough for your recipient, plus you don’t have to worry if your wee one tastes the dough during assembly of this gift.

Beeswax Candles (Buy beeswax sheets at some craft stores** and use sturdy wicks in the center; roll your sheet around the wick, and you’re done! Beeswax sheets come in all colors, so you can mix and match or cut out fun shapes for some pretty designs.) ** Call ahead or order online – these can be hard to find.

Pipe Cleaner Ornaments or Napkin Rings (Push beads onto pipe cleaners; you can twist together several pipe cleaners to make an asterisk, for a star or snowflake shape, or keep them long to make icicles. Twist a pipecleaner with white beads and one with red together to make a candy cane. Less orderly beads on pipe cleaners can be wrapped in a circle to make a napkin ring.)

Wine Glass Charms (Push beads onto little metal jewelry rings – for older toddlers only.)

Fabric Shopping Bags, Aprons, or Napkins (Buy iron-on transfers, fabric pens and fabric crayons. A lot of craft stores sell plain canvas or cotton/cotton-polyester fabric bags, aprons, and kerchiefs, if you don’t want to sew your own. Your wee one can decorate, then you can make the design permanent with the iron.)

Magnets (Buy pre-cut wood or foam shapes at the craft store, then let your wee one paint, color, glue on embellishments, and so on. Magnets get glued on the back when your design is dry. If your gift recipient is a beer drinker, you can save bottle tops and glue on magnets for a super-easy gift. Big buttons can also be glued directly on magnets as gifts to crafty folks.)

Chip Clips (Buy wooden spring-loaded clothes pins and embellish them as with magnets, above)

Paperweights or Garden Charms (Liza came up with this one for this summer’s camping trip. Paint a smooth, clean river rock. If you want your garden charms to last outside, be sure to use paints that are not water-soluble.)

Salt or Sugar Scrubs in a pretty jar (You can find recipes for these online. I am a fan of the all-salt scrubs, as I fear ants invading my bathroom. You can mix dried herbs (like rosemary or lavender), essential oils (like lavender or orange), or even whole spices (like cloves or allspice) with kosher salt in a jar, with enough oil (a kind that will keep well at room temperature, like olive) mixed in to make a very thick paste. Add directions for bathing use (not cooking) to the lid.)

Wrapping Paper, Cards, or Framed Art (This time of year, find leaves to rub (put beneath paper on a firm surface, then color the paper with crayon) or stick to classic art with crayons, pens, pencils, or paints. Stamps (homemade with potatoes or other dipped veggies, or store-bought) help cover a lot of volume in no time, if you’d like to make wrapping paper. You can also cut out great art pieces from your wee Picasso and matte them on clean white paper or cardstock to make postcards or cards. Avoid powder-based paints, as they will often become powdery upon drying.)

If you’d like recipes or more details for any of these, please reply to this e-mail (admin@…). Want to share your own ideas? We’ll compile them for an upcoming newsletter! Maybe one or more of these can fill your days at home this week, if the rain or cold keeps you from venturing outside.

Here are this week’s events (you’ll notice that the holidays this week have several cancelled):

Every Tuesday at 9 am Loren and little Angelo will lead a hike around Almaden Lake and down Los Alamitos Trail. Meet at the water dragon by the big playground near the bathrooms and swimming beach in the main parking lot near the intersection of Coleman Avenue and Almaden Expressway. No dogs allowed! Any baby transport or stroller will work. For more information about the area or directions, see The Los Alamitos Creek Trail Webpage ( If you’re running late, call Loren at 831-227-6737.

Saturday, November 28th join Jennifer and little Kayla at 5 pm for a near-Full Moon Hike at Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch Park near Gilroy. What a treat to share sunset and witness some critters settling down to rest, while other creatures come alive at night! We’ll hike Martin Murphy Trail, a 2 mile paved loop, with excellent vantage points for seeing stars and looking for bats flying to catch insects, while offering plenty of safe space for toddlers and children to hike with us. Jennifer will alert you to nature at dusk and beyond, by the light of the moon. All family members welcome! This is a Santa Clara County Play Here ( activity. Register at the Santa Clara County Website or by calling or e-mailing Carrie Grisenti at 408-355-2240 or Carrie.Grisenti@…, or just come out to join us! To get to the trailhead, drive towards Gilroy on Highway 101. From the Highway 101 exit at San Martin Avenue, drive East for 2 miles on San Martin Avenue. The Harvey Bear Ranch entrance to the park is on the left, a quarter mile East of Foothill Avenue, on San Martin Avenue. Call Jennifer at 408-470-0463 if you’re running late. The event is free, but a parking fee may apply.

Enjoy getting crafty and giving those crafts in thanks to loved ones!

-Debbie and little Max

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