Sunday, November 20, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child is a great opportunity to give a box full of gifts to a child in another country who normally would not receive a gift on Christmas. Samaritan's Purse has been doing this for about twenty years, and this was my second year participating in the project.

The idea is so simple: pack a shoe box full of gifts (from hygiene products to clothing to toys), indicate the appropriate gender and age for the gift, and drop off the gift. Samaritan's Purse then sends the gift to a developing country to bless a child during the Christmas season with a box full of gifts along with a message of the Good News!
Jason and I had so much fun shopping together for our shoe box gifts. I bought for a girl between the ages of 5-9. I packed my box with a toothbrush/toothpaste, hair clips, lip glosses, stickers, crayons, a harmonica, watch, princess purse, jelly belly's, socks, and a shirt.
Jason shopped for a boy between 10-14. He bought a toothbrush/toothpaste, harmonica, jelly bellys, shirt, hat, and (his pride and joy) a glow in the dark neon football!
I'm pretty sure all the boxes have been collected for this year, but if you're looking to give back next Christmas season, this is a great opportunity.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cooking Class Completed!

Well, it's been a light year when it comes to checking items off my 30 before 30, but I completed my second item of this year...I took a cooking class!

My friend's mom was hosting a beginning cooking class through the Livermore Rec Center. That sounded like a fit for me. Plus, it was pretty inexpensive compared to other cooking classes I had researched. She sent out an email about the class in August, and I totally forgot about it until a few days before when she sent out another email asking if I was still interested.

So, I jumped on board! The cooking classes were held each Thursday during the month of October for 2.5 hours each.

Here is a brief summary of each class:

In the first class we made puffed pastries. I couldn't believe how easy they were to make. We sampled one filled with cream cheese and salsa that can be served as an appetizer, and then we made dessert puffed pastries filled with a vanilla pudding and topped with chocolate. Delicious! I will definitely be making these in the future. We also made a crook pot pulled pork that was marinated in beer. We roasted garlic and carmalized onions and added those to our sandwiches. So flavorful! We also learned how to cut up a chicken. I've decided to continue to go with the pre-cut chicken...

Class two was on focused on fish and biscotti. We made a chocolate almond biscotti, which is great for the holidays. We also made two different fish recipes.

The third class was pie class! We each made a pie from scratch. This was my first time making a pie, so I was very excited! Some made apple pie, others pumpkin. I went with apple because neither Jason or I like pumpkin much...and apple is Jason's very favorite. My sister's have both made apple pie for Jason...but as his wife, I had failed to do so. Until a few weeks ago! Apple pie is actually quite easy to make. The hardest part is the crust, which I might cheat on in the future and go with the pre-made :) Part of the reason why the pie was so easy was because our teacher had a food processor that slices the apples up in seconds. Might need to invest in one of those - we used it all the time in our class. Here is my first pie:
Our last class was a mixture of a bunch of things. We made sushi, baked brussel sprouts (definitely were covered in olive oil, butter, and seasoning), more fish, and practiced with pie crust again (focused on doing a lattice top, which is how I made my pie). We took home our pie crusts so that we could make another pie...which is easy once the crust is done.

It was a great class, filled with yummy food, and lots of cooking/baking tips along the way. Glad to check another item off my list!