Showing posts with label Gifts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gifts. Show all posts

Saturday, June 1, 2013

DIY Post-it or Sticky Notebook Holder

I wanted to make a little gift to give a few friends here, so I made these quick Sticky Notebook Holders. I think they turned out quite cute, and everyone I gave them to seemed to like them. These little notebooks are an easy, quick, and frugal gift. Here is a quick look at how I made them.

Homemade Post-it or Sticky Notebook Holder

  • Post-it or other sticky note pad(s)
  • Cardstock, scrapbook paper, gift bag, or other decorative paper
  • Button(s)
  • Needle and thread
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick (optional)
  1. First I cut out long rectangles out of the gift bag I was using for my decorative paper. I cut the rectangles slightly wider than the sticky notes and almost three times as long (about 4 inches by 9 inches). The exact dimensions of your rectangle will of course depend on what size sticky note pads you are using.
  2. Fold the rectangle to fit sticky note pad. I tried to make folds to wrap around each side and then back around the front again halfway (at approximately 3.5 inches, then 0.25 inch further, then 3.5 inches, then 0.25 inch, leaving about 1.75 inches). Again your dimensions will depend on the size of your note pads.
  3. Then I sewed a button onto the front cover. I sewed it onto the piece that went all of the way across the front and then tucked the half under it like a tab.
  4. Lastly I stuck the sticky notepads into the cover. I used a glue stick to make sure they stayed.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

DIY Edible Chocolate Play Dough Gift (Special Preschool Age Activity and Treat in One!)

This year I decided at the last minute on February 2 that we would actually celebrate Groundhog's Day with some activities this year. Yeah, I'm kind of random like that. So (among other things that maybe I'll talk about another time) I mixed up some chocolate edible play dough on a whim, and we made chocolate groundhogs. They were tasty.

The boys loved the play dough so much and they have been asking for it ever since. So I decided one of their Valentine's presents would be edible chocolate play dough and M&M's to decorate their creations with. This activity is great because it is so easily customizable for any holiday. You could also challenge a young child to make certain shapes or an older child to make letters and spell words out of the play dough to make it more educational.

Whether you need a last minute Valentine for your kids, an activity and treat in one for any other holiday, or just something to do on a rainy day, I think this will be a hit.

Homemade Edible Chocolate Play Dough Recipe

  • 1 cup peanut butter (you could probably substitute sun butter for those with allergies, but I haven't tried)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup powdered milk or oat flour (I used homemade oat flour and it worked great)
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder (of course you can just leave it out for a non-chocolate version)
In a mixing bowl stir and knead all ingredients until well combined to form a soft dough. If it turns out too dry, you can add more peanut butter or milk (if you are going to use it very soon) one tablespoon at a time.

Store in an airtight container. And since I made it ahead of time,  just to be safe I am keeping it in the refrigerator until I give it to them in two days.

I am packaging it up with some M&M's which are a huge treat at our house. I think any colored candy or even dried fruits and nuts could work well though.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

DIY Infant Gowns and Onesies

I mentioned before how we were having a hard time finding newborn clothes we liked and that I ended up sewing an newborn wardrobe for Baby # 3. The staples of this wardrobe are probably the infant gowns and onesies I made.

For the gowns I ended up using this pattern and tutorial. I upcycled clothes as well, making these gowns basically free to make. I even was able to re-purpose elastic so I didn't have to pay for anything other than thread. For a few of the gowns I re-purposed very soft sweaters instead of t-shirts, and I thought that worked well also. I didn't put elastic in the bottom of the sweater type gowns, but simply used the bottom hem of the sweater that was already more tightly woven and stretchy.

Instead of using designs already on t-shirts, I chose to applique and embroider them. This took longer for sure, but I was able to make very custom baby clothing this way. And I think they turned out really cute. I think these could also make really great baby shower gifts.

For the onesies, I could find a 0-3 month pattern on the internet, so I ended up simply folding the gown pattern into a onesie pattern. Probably tracing an existing 0-3 onesie would be even easier, but I didn't have any in that size here. I sewed the onesies together in similar fashion to the gowns, just finishing the contoured bottom with a tiny rolled hem all around and adding snaps. After I had sewed a bunch of onesies, I embroidered and appliqued these as well.

Upcycling clothing

Gown pattern folded into a onesie pattern

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

DIY Chocolate Ganache

This week, I am sharing some of my all time favorite foods in honor of my birthday. Chocolate ganache is a favorite way to eat a favorite food, chocolate. This chocolate ganache recipe is great for using in place of or over traditional frosting. It looks really elegant, but is quite simple to make. Make a thicker ganache by decrease the amount of cream, or increasing the amount of chocolate. A thicker ganache makes a great filling for cake, and a super-thick ganache is the base for chocolate truffles.

This could even make a great unique gift for a chocolate loving friend, as it is far better than any store-bought chocolate sauce out there for ice cream.

Homemade Chocolate Ganache Recipe
  • 6 oz chocolate chopped or (1 cup) chocolate chips (use whatever % of cacao that you prefer to eat plain because there is no additional sweetener in this recipe)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
    1. Chop the chocolate and place in a heat safe mixing bowl.
    2. In a saucepan, heat the cream to just simmering, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Once the edges begin to bubble, pour over chocolate.
    3. Let is sit a few minutes so the chocolate begins to melt, and then stir until well combined and smooth.
    4. Chill in the refrigerator until desired consistency or until ready to serve.
    5. Pour over cake, ice cream, or other dessert.
    6. Enjoy!

      Sunday, April 8, 2012

      DIY Scottish Shortbread

      My husband loves shortbread. I used to think it was a rather boring cookie, but now he has me convinced how wonderful they are. The difference is baking them with 100% real butter. With just three ingredients these are really simple cookies, but you can totally taste the difference if you make them with anything besides all butter. Personally, I think it is a waste of time now to even attempt shortbread with margarine, somethings you can't taste the difference, but this isn't only of those recipes. I think these make great food gifts as well because not everyone makes them, and they don't have any nuts or chocolate in them if someone has allergies.

      Homemade Scottish Shortbread Recipe

      • 1½ cups flour
      • ¾ cup butter
      • ⅓ cup sugar
      1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and cut in butter with a pastry cutter. Mixture will be very crumbly and resemble pie crust crumbs.
      2. Press into an ungreased 9x9 (for thick shortbread) or 9x13 (for thin shortbread) pan. Recipe can easily be doubled to fill a jelly roll pan nicely.
      3. Bake at 350F until edges just begin to brown. Time varies widely on baking these by oven and thickness of the cookies from 5–15 minutes, so you really just have to watch them carefully.
      4. Allow to cool before cutting so they are not too crumbly. We also love melted chocolate drizzled on top after they have cooled.

        Saturday, January 14, 2012

        DIY Cookie Puzzles

        I thought that cookie puzzles sounded like a really cute stocking stuffer, but they could also make a sweet Valentine, Easter present, party favor, or small gift for any other occasion. When we were making sugar cookies together, I cut out a few huge heart shapes. Then I simply cut these large cookies into a few pieces using a butter knife. I separated the pieces slightly and then baked the cookies as usual. Putting colored sugar on top before you bake them or frosting them after they have been baked and cooled would be cute as well. Varying the shapes and colors used could make these appropriate for any occasion. I simply wrapped these in plastic wrap, but you could package them up in cut cellophane bags, small boxes, or small cookie tins too.

        Thursday, January 12, 2012

        DIY Oreo Truffles Pops

        Kids seem to think everything is better when it comes on a stick, and sometimes this keeps both them and their food slightly cleaner. So for some pretty easy stocking stuffers, I took a few of the Oreo Truffles that I had made and made them into Oreo Truffle Pops. I simply made up a batch of Oreo Truffles and then poked a stick into the bottom. Actually, I used some of the tiny straws that sometimes come with our bags of milk here because I am cheap and have no idea where to buy lollipop sticks here. But if you happen to have a Michaels or Hobby Lobby nearby, you should be able to buy actual lollipop sticks if you want to.

        You could also try inserting the stick before freezing the chocolate filling and then dipping them in chocolate. Then you can poke the stick into a piece of styrofoam to hold it upright while it drys, similar to cake pops. This would make them more round but a little more tricky to work with. My little kids don't care if their chocolate lollipop has a flat bottom or not, so I just went the easy route of inserting the stick after they had already been coated in chocolate and hardened.

        Wrap in cellophane or plastic wrap, and tie with a pretty twist tie or ribbon, and you will have a beautiful stocking stuffer, Valentines treat, party favor, or small sweet gift for any other occasion.

        Thursday, December 29, 2011

        Year In Review

        Aaron Examining Christmas 2010
        For the past two years, I have put together Year In Review DVDs of our best pictures and videos that we have taken throughout the year. First, I go through and label all of the pictures or videos we really want to save and remember. I copy the best ones into a Year In Review folder. This give us a way to look at the best pictures or videos we've take in a certain year quickly. We have then burned DVDs to give as gifts to parents and grandparents. It is an easy and inexpensive gift, except for the time involved. I have found it good to give myself this year end deadline for organizing these memories as well, and I know at least my Grandma watches them over and over again.

        This year, I think that we are going to have a family movie marathon for New Year's Eve, featuring ourselves. I think we'll watch the slideshow of the Year In Review pictures and as many home videos as our little guys want to watch. They always love to watch themselves and family on video anyway, and I think this will be a great way to review all the things that have happened in 2011 on New Year's Eve. Maybe we'll make this a new tradition.

        Tuesday, December 13, 2011

        DIY Amazingly Delicious, No Corn Syrup, Salted Caramels

        So, I've told you just how crazy I am about good caramel. Well I was eating a spoonful of this amazing sauce and noticing that the jar was soon going to be gone. I began to think to myself that this year I would try to make chewy salted caramel candy at Christmastime. Some for me to enjoy and (so I don't eat it all in one sitting) some to give away as gifts. These caramels make great gifts and stocking stuffers. So I began searching through tons of recipes for caramel online, but I only found two recipes that didn't use corn syrup. I too think that caramel is best when the sugar is caramelized separately before any other ingredients are added. But the honey isn't great here though, and I have almost as much trouble caramelizing anything but pure white sugar by itself as I do baking caramel corn. I almost always end up with burnt sugar instead of caramelize sugar, which is not nearly as tasty or desirable. So mixing it with brown sugar seems like a recipe for failure for me personally. So I took some of this process and came up with my own recipe, with just 4 ingredients. I guess it could be 3 if you don't like salt in your caramel, but just a little sea salt makes the flavors so much better that you really should consider adding it. There are more pictures of melting sugar and adding ingredients to it in these two posts.

        Homemade No Corn Syrup Salted Caramel

        • 2 cups sugar
        • 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) butter
        • 1 cup heavy cream
        • Sea salt to taste
        Use caution when working with boiling sugar and caramel so you don't burn yourself.

        1. Begin by placing sugar in a medium to large saucepan over low heat. You need a bigger saucepan than the amount of ingredients because the caramelized sugar will bubble and foam up a lot when you add the butter and cream, and you don't want to get burned.
        2. Melt all of the sugar, completely stirring and swirling the pot as necessary to keep it from burning. Be aware than too much stirring can make the final product a little lumpy.
        3. Once all of the sugar is melted, add the butter carefully, and stir to combine. Some of the caramel may harden and seize, but just keep stirring it over low heat until it melts into liquid again.
        4. Then add the cream a little at a time because this is when the mixture will really bubble up. The caramel will harden again, but just keep stirring over low heat until it melts. Add sea salt to taste, but don't taste the syrup without cooling a tiny bit in cold water first; you'll get a really bad burn.
        5. Now, you just need to cook this mixture until it reaches hard ball stage on a candy thermometer (250-266 F at sea level with an accurate thermometer) or by using the cold water method where you drop a small amount of the syrup into cold water to see if it forms a ball that depresses slightly when taken out and squeezed.
        6. Now, you can pour this mixture into an 8x8 silicone baking pan or one lined with a silpat (or possibly even parchment paper), and allow it to cool.
        7. Cut into squares or desired pieces, and wrap individually with parchment paper or plastic wrap.
        Makes 64 one inch square caramels.

          DIY Amazingly Delicious, No Corn Syrup, Caramel Sauce

          I absolutely love really good, homemade caramel. Next to chocolate, it is probably my favorite flavor sweet; although really good coffee is definitely up there too. But there is something about homemade caramel that is so different than store bought. I think it is the pure caramelized sugar, butter, and cream without anything else added that makes it so good. Anyway, this caramel sauce is incredibly amazing. It is great on apple pie, on or in ice cream, on in brownies, in coffee, or just eaten with a spoon. This sauce would make a great gift in an ice cream sundae kit, paired with another dessert or coffee, or a great stocking stuffer or hostess gift all by itself.

          Homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe

          • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
          • 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) butter
          • 1 cup heavy cream
          1. Begin by placing sugar in a medium to large saucepan over low heat. Even though this recipe only makes about 1 pint of sauce altogether, you need a much bigger saucepan because the caramelized sugar will bubble and foam up a lot when you add the butter and cream, and you don't want to get burned.
          2. Melt all of the sugar completely, stirring and swirling the pot as necessary to keep it from burning. Be aware that too much stirring can make the final product a little lumpy.
          3. Once all of the sugar is melted, add the butter carefully and stir to combine. Some of the caramel may harden and seize, but if you just keep stirring it over low heat, it will melt into liquid again.
          4. Then add the cream a little at a time because this is when the mixture will really bubble up. The caramel will harden again, but just keep stirring over low heat until it melts. Cook and stir until the mixture is well combined, and then turn off heat, and allow to cool. Cooking down the mixture a long time will result in wonderful chewy caramel candy, but if you are looking for sauce, you may not find that quite as wonderful.
          5. Pour over your favorite dessert or into a glass jar, and refrigerate for later.


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