GOTexan Holiday gifts, wines, food, recipes, and decorating ideas

I like the idea of helping local/state companies and artists by buying their products and promoting them for gift giving.  Here are a few to check out:

food:

Mary of Puddin Hill is just a few minutes from where I live and very famous too http://www.puddinhill.com/

Here are great GO Texan gift ideas, as well as recipes, holiday decorating ideas, and free e-zine subscriptions

http://www.agr.state.tx.us/gt/channel/render/items/0,1218,1670_19176_0_0,00.html

The 2009 Holiday Gift guide is here:

http://click.engagemail.net/?ju=fe3016717664017b761d72&ls=fdee16787d6406797310767c&m=fefe1779756005&l=fea315707664077d70&s=fe2116777d670c7d7c1d70&jb=ffcf14&t=

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Alpacas in the United States

Alpacas arrived in the U.S. in a “short” window of time between  1984-1998.  They were carefully selected from the South American herds.  After that the U.S. shut down any more importation. Each animal was issued a pedigree registration number and certification,  and DNA blood testing is performed to ensure accuracy of lineage in each newly born alpaca.

They are a camelid and two kinds of alpacas: huacaya (fluffy teddy bear look) and the suri (long penciled “dreadlocks”). Some close relatives of the alpaca are the vicuna, guanacos, llamas and huarizo (offspring of a male llama, female alpaca).

Camelids can be found throughout the world. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Asia are examples.   Alpacas are a modified/pseudoruminant with a three compartment stomach instead of four (i.e,cattle, goats, sheep, deer).

In the United States the fiber industry is being developed and several mills have been started to process the camelid fibers into yarns or clothing.  All fiber can be used, but the identified coarseness determines how the product is used (fine clothing, socks, mittens, or  rugs, etc.)  Breeding for improved fiber is a goal of most alpaca owners and breeders.

A Handmade Christmas: Success

We got a very nice thank you from my husband-the-architect’s boss and wife, who appreciated very much the “food basket” we gave them for Christmas.  We decided to be very observant of the economy and focus on gifting from local suppliers. 

We found (accidentally stumbled upon) a little country store in Farmersville, TX,  that actually has rented  space in a storage facility. The facility is not fenced so it is easy to enter, and their space faces out to the fairly busy Highway 78.  They have made nice signs and the big roll-up door is open all the way where they have set up simple tables and shelves inside to display the  many wares.  They have a commercial refrigerator like the stores, with clear doors and have some fresh produce and milk,locally supplied  eggs,  etc., to choose from.  But mostly it is jams, jellies,  honey, salsas, nuts,  that is supplied from area farmers, and fruits like oranges and apples that are much larger and nicer than the stores. 

We endorsed and supported our area farmers this Christmas with our purchases.  Then to get such raving appreciation was a good feeling.   Plus, they like the products so much they are going to get some products by the case to gift to their friends.  How about that?  You never know how one action will affect someone, and in this case, it was several people: the boss and their friends, the store, and the farmers.

We packaged up the products in a very nice sturdy basket with a strong handle to adequately support all the jars. The baskets were unused in our attic, so we recycled them. I made some very nice hanging kitchen handtowels 

My handmade Christmas themed hanging kitchen towel

My handmade Christmas themed hanging kitchen towel

 to include in the gift as a cover over all, kind of like Little Red Riding Hood’s basket of goodies for grandma.

It was nice of them to let us know how much they loved the gift and we will be sure to do more of the same gifting in the future. 

Be sure to look up products for sale in your area under Local Harvest, the link is in the left column.  When inside, enter your zip or city,state, etc. You can see all the products categorized and sign up for regular updates too.

Farmer’s markets become more popular

I’ve mentioned before in previous blogs about sites like LocalHarvest ,http://www.localharvest.org/, that can be researched online to find a farm near you selling goods you may want to buy. Take a look and see all the kinds of things offered. Some places ship goods, or you can search by zipcode for a farm or market near you.  The usual things like milk, eggs, beef, lamb, chicken, or the unusual like honey and lavendar are waiting to be enjoyed.  The economy and uncertainty of where some of our food comes from makes it even more necessary to see what is homegrown in your state or nearby town. 

Sign up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) offered by a farm near you.  For a small fee they will sign you up as a customer; once they fill their quota of customers they will close the sign up for the year or season.  They have to make sure they have enough goods for their customers so they won’t have so many they can’t fill orders. 

Right now people are ordering their holiday turkeys.  See where the nearest pumpkin farm is.  Who is marketing fall vegetables.  Need compost?  Look no further.  How about handmade soaps or fragrances?  The list of services is endless.  Some take their products to a weekly farmer’s market.  The popularity of farmer’s markets means you should find one near you most weekends.   Take a look and enjoy food and goods from your community.