Shaatra weighs in on:Gifting with Glamor– How to present that present
with a pop of pizzazz.

This month’s expert:Gitty Israel, owner of The Swag Bag, Custom Favor Bags for
All Occasions and All Things Party.

Want your Hanukah gift to have the perfect presentation this holiday? “If it’s the unexpected, go for it!” says Gitty Israel, owner of The Swag Bag. As for actual giftwrap, “There are so many fabulous wraps out there you can use for a sharp, unusual look!” Gitty points out. But even something like newspaper with a bold color accenting it can do the trick in a striking way. “Anything around you, anything in a 99-cent store, can be repurposed to make your present look awesome. Use twine instead of ribbon. Feathers, crystals, and branches can go a long way. Got a spare belt buckle? Bangle? (Costume, of course!) Run a ribbon right through these around-the-house items for a creative effect. Those cheap fake flowers, adds Gitty, may seem tacky in the store, but snipped and pasted on a gift, will look breathtaking.

About It!

You can forget about incorporating too many colors into your gift’s presentation. Sticking to one or two colors with a hint of another will keep your gift wrap looking sharp and sophisticated. “Less is more,” says Gitty. (She notes children’s gifts as an exception, as those can be real fun with a burst of many bright shades.) How to choose? Gitty recommends choosing colors opposite one another on a color wheel for colors that really “go.” Orange and blue, turquoise and navy, pink and green, or gold and black are some sharp possibilities.

How would you recommend wrapping an irregular-shaped gift?

Gitty: “Out of the box” is best, quite literally. Sometimes, the best way to gift that gift is to avoid wrapping it up altogether. Instead, display your present (using Glue Dots) on a “stage” of wrapped foam. Use clear cellophane and adorn your masterpiece by the stage or use gathered cellophane with added embellishments. And the sky’s the limit with those: metallic dreidels, Hanukah gelt or any glittery objects will give your gift that dazzling finish. If it will be presented at or after a party, I find it cute and easy to accent a displayed gift with a theme-related knickknack. For example, a Lego figurine keychain fastened to a gift can really finish off a party’s theme in an adorable way.

Shopping List

Gitty highlights several items that will make your gift wrapping experience a lot simpler:

Sharp scissors– If you’re fighting with a plastic flower or ribbon or strip of twine, snipping and slicing for all your worth, then you know your scissors are not sharp enough.

Glue Dots– Glue Dots are utterly useful little objects, especially when it comes to packaging that present or gluing items down in a displayed gift. (See Q & A) You’ll be stuck on these little dots once you try them!

Double-sided tape– Using double-sided tape will lend your gift wrapped item that professional, perfect finish. “Hem” the edges of the wrapping paper by folding it over once (about one inch) prior to folding it onto the actual gift box, pasting each fold down with two-sided tape.

Food for Thought –
Gifts and the Law

Hanukah parties, birthdays, weddings, housewarming celebrations – all perfect venues for gift-giving. Appreciation in the form of gifts and tips to a bus driver, waiter, or teacher may be welcome, too. But be careful – gifts to government officials, policemen, judges, and the like may not be welcome, or legal, for that matter, as they are construed as bribery. The legalities of gift-giving are comprehensive and are laid down to members of these groups right from the outset of their careers.


By Miriam Sasson
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Forget about it!

Forget about… pouring water on your yeast. When mixing a dough batter, there’s a   procedure to follow. First, pour the warm water and then add the yeast. What’s the difference, you ask? The yeast is very fragile and damages easily when water falls upon it. So if you want your yeast to perform best, remember: it’s always water before yeast.

Go for it!

I love this smooth kitchen trick! When using your Bosch or Kitchen Aid to form dough, whip out your Pam spray and expose your dough hook to its oily mist. This will prevent your dough from creeping its way up your hook. And the extra bonus? Easy cleanup, of course!

By the Number

4.8 Miles: The distance an average adult would need to walk at 3 MPH to work off a piece of cake he ate on impulse.

We’re all familiar with how it happens. You’re standing awfully close to the dessert table at an engagement party. The chocolate layer cake smiles at you tantalizingly and you, your resistance low, help yourself to an average slice. In a few, short bites, you have just consumed almost 300 calories! If you want to walk those calories off, get out your sneakers, and prepare for at least an hour-long trek.. Ditto for ice-cream; walking off just one scoop will take approximately one hour, or 3.2 miles.

There’s nothing like cold, hard numbers to tell it like it is, huh?

Item of the Month

How about this for an “herbal remedy?”

With the Fresh Love Stainless Steel Herb Scissors, you’ll have your herbs and garnishes ready in no time! The five-blade scissor gets the nitty-gritty chopping and mincing done super-quickly. With nothing more than a few quick snips, the results are neat and uniform. The most convenient part? The scissors come with a cleaning comb so you can clean the hard-to-reach places in one fluid motion. This nifty kitchen tool can be purchased for approximately $20.00.

Q and A

How long can my baking powder last in my cabinet?

The amount of time your baking powder spends in the cabinet affects its potency. After about six months, you’ll want to replace that orange cylinder for a new one. It’s a good idea to label your Arm and Hammer with the date as soon as it debuts on your cabinet shelves. If you’re wondering if your baking powder is fresh, test it. In a small bowl, place a half a teaspoon of the powder and pour ¼ cup of hot tap water over it. If you see lots of bubbling, your baking powder is good to go. If not, throw it away; after all, you want your dough to rise properly, don’t you?

Food for Thought

In 1835, Lord Marcus Sandys asked drugstore owners Lea and Perrins to duplicate an Indian sauce he’d tasted in Bengal, India. The two whipped up a blend of veggies and fish, but relegated it to the cellar because of its poor smell and flavor. Fast forward to two years later, when they reencountered the sauce while cleaning out the cellar. They tasted it and, to their surprise, it was delicious! It’s no coincidence this “accident” happened in Worcester, England.

Nearly two centuries later, Worcestershire Sauce is still a beloved steak sauce. Interestingly, the original recipe hasn’t changed much. Anchovies in brine, garlic, tamarinds, chilies, shallots, and sugar are still a part of the sauce. (It’s noteworthy to add that kosher grocery stores carry a fish-free version of the sauce, which can be used in meat recipes.) Remarkably, authentic Worcestershire Sauce is still aged for two years before being preserved and landing on supermarket shelves.

(Source: 10,001 Food Facts, Chefs’ Secrets & Household Hints by Dr. Myles H. Bader)

By Miriam Sasson
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