Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Secret Santa Revealed: Part One

I'm  part of an awesome team on etsy--the Blogging Business Artisans, brand new in October!  We have lots of fun events planned.  One of these was a Secret Santa Swap.  Participants signed up stating their likes and dislikes.  Sharla of beaded tail (with some help from her husband) made the assignments.

I was Secret Santa to Athena of Miss Millificent's Mesdamoiselles.  

Here are some of her likes:
Hunter and dark green, deep purples and reds, black.  Day of the Dead/Dia de Los Muertos stuff. Fabrics.  Notepads and pens. Coffee and sugars. Chocolate and peanut butter! 
and some dislikes:
Hard fruity candies, fruits, nuts.

Now the fun began!  
For starters, I knew that she had visited Asheville, NC and liked the yummy chocolates at the Chocolate Lounge.  Since my daughter lives there and I was visiting, she and I chose some yummy chocolate truffles we knew Athena would like. (While we were there, I admit, we bought a few truffles for ourselves.  ssshhhh.....don't tell!)
photo © French Broad Chocolates
Next, since I know that Athena loves to sketch, I bought a Strathmore sketchpad and altered the cover.  This was fun.  I researched Dia de los Meurtos.  I then wrote a description and printed this out on dark green cardstock which I affixed to the sketchpad cover.  Next I drew a sugar skull coloring it in with colored pencils.  After gluing this down, I then made a hat of cardstock, ribbon, and fabric.  I tried a new (for me) technique of burning the edges of the fabric to keep it from raveling.  Inside the back and front covers, I glued a recipe for making sugar skulls.  I paired this book with an artist's pencil. 

One more item to round out this gift.  In early December I went to Christmas in the Village in Waynesville, Ohio with a few friends--a yearly tradition.  I met Melissa of La Crema Coffee Company, a small business that roasts and packages gourmet coffees.  With Melissa's help I selected a little package of medium roast coffee called "Cranky Before Breakfast."  I thought this would appeal to Athena's fun sense of humor as well as her love for coffee. 
photo © La Crema Coffee Company
I wrapped some of the items in tie dyed tissue and added eyelash yarn ties, thinking perhaps Athena could use these materials in her creative endeavors.  I thoroughly enjoyed putting this gift together.  It was so much fun!  You can read Athena's reaction HERE.

Want to know what other BBA members received?  Of course you do!  Check out our BLOG to find out!
If you want to know more about the Blogging Business Artisans, click the links at the top of our BLOG or find us HERE on etsy.

Día  de  los Muertos
A ritual known today as Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.  Day of the Dead is celebrated  in  Mexico  and in certain parts of the   United  States and Central America.  Families build altars in their homes, dedicating them to the dead.  They surround these altars with flowers,  food, and pictures of the deceased. They light candles and place  them next to the altar.  Sugar skulls, made with the names of the dead person on the forehead, are eaten by a relative or friend.   The skulls were used to honor the dead, whom the Aztecs and other    Meso-American civilizations believed came back to visit during the monthlong  ritual.    Unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, the natives viewed it as the continuation of life.  Instead of fearing death,  they embraced it.   To them, life was  a dream and only in death  did theybecome truly awake.

Sugar Skulls
Supplies and Ingredients:
plastic skull molds
mixing bowl and spoon
1 piece of cardboard, approximately 5" x 5"
2 cups of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of meringue powder
2 teaspoons of water

Mix the sugar and meringue powder together in the bowl.
Sprinkle the water in and continue to mix until the sugar is completely moistened and
becomes the consistency of moist sand. 
Scoop some of the mixture into the mold and pack it evenly and firmly. 
Place the piece of cardboardon top of the mold and quickly flip it over so the sugar skull pops out.
Make all the skulls in this manner.
Let dry for 24 hours in a dry place.
Supplies and Ingredients:
1 pastry bag or zip closing plastic bag
plastic cups
electric mixer
2/3 cup of water
1/2 cup meringue powder
2 pounds of powdered sugar
concentrated food coloring (the kind professional cake bakers use)

Blend the ingredients with an electric mixer until the peaks form in the icing.  
If using assorted colors, scoop the white icing into separate bowls and add a dab of different
colored food coloring in each one. Mix again.
Scoop the icing into the bag.  if using plastic, snip the corner. 
Continue until you have several bags of different colors as desired.
Seal and refrigerate until use.
*Makes four small skulls.

Stayed tuned for Part Two--what I received!

photos by me, French Broad Chocolates, La Crema Coffee Company © 2009-2012 


  1. It's so wonderful to see all the thought and care put into the Secret Santa gifts! I just love this team! :) All those gifts were perfect for Athena!

  2. Your gifts for Athena are so thoughtful! It was sweet of you to include things from Asheville for her. Can't wait to see what you got.

  3. Those chocolates....wish they were fat free:)

  4. cute idea to split your Secret Santa experiences in two posts! Chocolate and coffee - that will keep her going! {:-D

  5. I just love everything you got me- they were perfect for me! And I'm really glad you put in the sugar skull recipe, because that's something that got misplaced and lost last year. I could gush on and on about the presents, they're all so great-- thank you so much! :)


Your comments make my day! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!