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Giving from the Heart

Although I love to cook and am in the fifth year of my small bakery, many of you may not know that my actual day job is as a high school counselor. I am fortunate enough to be able to work with some amazing young people. I fill my days with one-on-one sessions discussing future plans, academic endeavors, college aspirations and social resolutions. The relationships I form with my students is not only beneficial for them, but it also inspires me to continue to aspire towards my dreams on a daily basis.

With it being the end of the school year, it is that time when students start to give their teachers small tokens of appreciation. This past week, I was lucky enough to receive such a gift; I have to say, it is probably the best teacher gift I have EVER received. Was is flashy and expensive? No. Was is thoughtful and personal? Yes. So what was this amazing gift? A lovely young lady and her family gifted me a watering-can flowerpot filled with freshly picked strawberries.

Although simplistic in material value, the thoughtfulness behind the gift got me to thinking, "What are my favorite gifts to give?" Without a doubt, I am a homemade, personalized gifter at the core. I am constantly on the search for new ideas of how to show affection beyond a store-bought item.

Below are some of my all-time favorites and new additions:

Christmas Truffles
  • Candy: Every Christmas, there is a huge request for my traditional homemade candies. I use the same fudge recipe my mother taught me as a little kid. The basic recipe creates a melt-in-your-mouth, rich chocolate that is AMAZING! However, I also mix it up with different variations. Throw in some nuts, peanut butter swirl, marshmallows, anything you like....possibilities are truly endless. In addition to fudge, there is always room for coconut macaroons and peanut butter balls. I even experimented even further this year and created some new truffle recipes. No matter what I make, a simple package of cellophane bags with ribbon or festive takeout boxes is the perfect finishing touch.

Candy Bar Cookies
  • Baked Goods: In addition to candies, another sweet treat I love to package up and give includes various baked goods. Sometimes it is as simple as mini-loaves of sweet breads and pies. Other times I love to use large tins and fill them to the brim with cookies including chocolate chip, peanut butter, white chocolate cranberry, candy bar, and chocolate chunk. Since cookie recipes typically form large batches, choosing 3 varieties and then doing a mix-and-match tin allows you to throw together several gifts in very little time. The great thing about giving cookies is that you can make one tray, place them in the break room with a nice note and then the gift for the entire department is complete!

  • Quilts: This is something completely new for me. I have always wanted to make quilts, but was always too scared to try my hand at the craft. Recently, a very dear friend found out that she and her husband was expecting a brand new baby. I wanted to be able to give them something heartfelt that could be treasured by the family and baby. So what did I do? I decided to finally face my fears and make a quilt. Now that I have made one, I have found myself already starting on another one, no longer crippled by my fear of failure. 

By receiving the beautiful bucket of strawberries from my dear student, I was reminded of my love for giving from the heart. During this time of year when the harvest is plentiful, look around you and find the beauty in nature. Give a gift of fresh fruit, a basket of vegetables or even a bouquet of flowers. I assure you that the recipient will love it more than anything money can buy!


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