Tag Archives: gift

DIY Tea & Honey Gift Set

18 May

I have always hated coffee, and I’ve always loved tea. Of course, growing up in the south meant super sweet, super strong iced tea. (In case you’re wondering, outside of my mom’s house and local, out-of-the-way barbecue joints, the best place to get a good sweet tea is Bojangles, the second best is Chick-Fil-A, and the third is McDonald’s. I have opinions on this.)

As an adult, I still enjoy a good glass of sweet tea, especially when I’m eating barbecue or fried chicken. But I’ve expanded to hot tea, and I really enjoy a classic cup of black tea as well as various herbals. My rising interest in tea began with a search for a healthier alternative to the Coke I’d been having daily, and then really took off as I started watching BBC shows. (When every character has at least one cup of tea per episode, I just start thinking, “Well yes, a cuppa would be quite nice.”) Nowadays, take me to a nice little tea shop, and I’ll be lost for hours.

I wanted to share my love for tea with others, so I put together this adorable little tea set as gifts for my coworkers one Christmas. They would make excellent small gifts anytime of the year — for teacher appreciation, hostess gifts, anything. I think these particular pieces would serve better for occasions needing multiple sets, so you can order in bulk, but do whatever works for you.

Here’s what you need:

Tea supplies

1) Tea – Oliver Pluff & Co’s Signature Earl Grey is my absolute favorite right now – I drink a cup every morning. I’ve also purchased looseleaf tea from The Spice & Tea Exchange and from Teavana, and I’ve ordered tea and herbs (lavender, lemongrass, ginger, fennel) online. The cool part about this project is that you can blend your own flavors!

2) Press ‘N Seal Tea Bags – I found some on Ebay.

3) Sweetener of your choice – For this project, I used these super awesome honey lollipops. They come in delicious flavors like ginger, jasmine, or lemon. I would also recommend mini jars of honey. Savannah Bee Company has my favorite honey.

4) I found both the green chevron gift bags and the gray & white baker’s twine on Pick Your Plum.

Now all you have to do is assemble! Read the notes that came with your tea purchase or just do a little googling to figure out how much tea to put in your tea bags. Each tea is different, and each tea drinker has their own preference. But a good general rule of thumb is a heaping teaspoon per six ounces of water. However, most Americans use coffee mugs rather than traditional tea cups, so they pour considerably more than six ounces, resulting in a pretty weak cup of tea. So for my tea bags, I went with two flat teaspoons per tea bag. Not too much, not too little, IMHO.

Looseleaf Tea

Seal your tea bags with an iron. I actually have a hair straightener that I have dedicated solely to crafting purposes, which is way more easy to handle than a big iron. My bags sealed within 5 seconds.

IMG_3120

I recommend placing your tea bags within a plastic bag to keep the tea airtight before placing in your gift bag. A zip-top bag would be fine. I put 5 tea bags in a 6×3.75″ clear treat bag that I picked up at AC Moore and sealed them shut with cute washi tape I got from Pick Your Plum.

IMG_3122

The bag of tea bags and the honey stick went into the gift bag, tied shut with baker’s twine. I didn’t get a picture of it, but I also wrote the name of the tea (including info about caf/decaf!) and instructions for steeping time on the blank side of a business-card-size piece of pretty scrapbook paper and added that to the gift set.

Tea & Honey Gift Set

Go forth and give! I think anyone would appreciate this lovely little gift set.

Linking Up With:

Let It Shine from Still Being Molly
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately

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DIY Bubblegum Valentines

4 Feb

Okay, I just spent the majority of my designated blog-post-writing time trying to think of some sort of pun to name these:

V Day Gum

As a self-proclaimed pun-lover, I’m ashamed. I’ve seen a million candy Valentine puns lately, and my mind is just drawing a blank on this one. Oh well. They’re still cute.

I won’t lie, I generally get pretty excited about seasonal decor. I even have a Valentine Pinterest board. But so far I’ve kept all that stuff mostly under wraps. I haven’t made any heart garland for Valentine’s Day, decorated gourds for Halloween, or red-white-and-blue centerpieces for July 4th. We didn’t even decorate for Christmas this year! I think maybe it’s because I feel like it’s a bit odd or a waste of time when it’s just me and the BF at home. Maybe one day when we have kids I’ll spend hours making adorable seasonal crafts with them.

In the meantime, I restrain myself to mostly food-oriented projects, and the little bit I do unleash is usually targeted at my coworkers. So I made these adorable little bubblegum valentines.

Yum Gum

I had a jar of bubblegum, so I pulled out all the Valentine colors — red, pink, and white. Four gum-balls in mixed colors went into bags I had leftover from making teal thank-you cookies. I cut a strip of white cardstock to fold over the top of the bag. I used my lace edge punch to create a lace border on the front and then stamped “you’re so sweet.” and two hearts in red ink. Fold the bag over, slip the paper on top, and staple shut.

you're so sweet.

Super easy and super cute. Making enough for my coworkers took about a half hour while I watched TV. I just hope they appreciate how hard I worked on these. ;)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! And if you think of a good pun, let me know.

Linking up with:

Microwave Chocolate Pecan Toffee

24 Dec

It’s Christmas Eve! For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope you’re ready to enjoy a wonderful day. I have kind of mixed results on my holiday preparedness this year. I had most of my gift shopping done early, but we didn’t decorate our place at all. Once it got close to the holidays and we still hadn’t done anything, the BF and I agreed that it was kind of silly to put a lot of effort into decorations when it’s just the two of us here and we’ll be spending much of our holiday time at our parents’ houses. So instead of going all out, I just put little tiny star ornaments on our bamboo plant. That works, right?

O Christmas Bamboo O Christmas Bamboo...

All I have left to do is bake! Today, I’ll definitely be making a couple apple pies — one for each family’s house — and the apple cinnamon baked oatmeal. After I talk to my brother and sisters, that plan might be slightly expanded. After all, it’s not Christmas without coconut balls.

If you still need something to add to your family’s dessert table or something to take to a holiday party, try this amazing toffee. It’s super easy, so you’ll be able to get it done in between wrapping those last-minute presents and blow-drying your hair.

The only thing better than a delicious candy recipe is an easy delicious candy recipe. I had never made toffee before, and for some reason, I had it in my head that it’s a difficult thing to make. But it wasn’t at all. It was actually super simple. And DELICIOUS. Toffee is kind of like a hard caramel. Yum!

YUM

Somehow this recipe came to me through a long chain: a friend of the stepmom of an ex-boyfriend of a friend. So who knows where it first came from, but I’m glad it arrived in my inbox.

I made a few batches of toffee as gifts for volunteers who helped out with a big work event. It was quick and easy:

Microwave all the toffee ingredients together.

Step 1

Pour it on a pan and spread the chocolate chips over top that.

I have no idea what's up with that weird shadow.

Let it cool/harden, and then break it up into bite-sized pieces.

DONE

I packaged them up in cute little boxes that I got from AC Moore and tied some ribbon around them. Adorbs.

Packages tied up with string...

The only downside to this recipe is that it can get a little expensive. It doesn’t really make a ton of toffee, especially if you’re trying to fill a box, so I had to make quite a few batches. With butter, chocolate, and nuts… not the cheapest.

But it’s so delicious and good-looking, it makes an excellent gift. After I packaged all the pieces up, I collected all the leftover little pieces that were too small to load into the boxes, chopped them up even smaller, and packaged them in a jar as Toffee Crunch Ice Cream Topping. Yum!

Toffee Crunch Ice Cream Topping... It's a little frosty from the fridge, but dang if I'm not craving a bowl of ice cream now.

Well, all that’s left is the recipe. Hope you enjoy it. Happy Holidays!!

Microwave Toffee with Chocolate and Pecans

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Coat the sides of a large mixing bowl with butter and place the remaining butter in the bowl. Add sugar, salt, and water; do not stir. Microwave on high for 11 minutes or until mixture begins to turn light brown. Pour onto a greased cookie sheet.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over the toffee and let stand 1 minute. Spread chocolate over the toffee to form a melted layer, and sprinkle with pecans. Chill until firm.

Break into bite-size pieces. Package or serve. Yields about 1 pound.

Delicious delicious toffee

Linking up for:

Dolla Dolla Bills

30 Apr

I saw this cute idea on Pinterest for giving the gift of cash-ola. My little sister’s birthday was coming up, and what 17-year-old doesn’t prefer cash to… well… pretty much anything else?

I wrapped up an empty tissue box in super cute paper, folding the top edges into the original hole in the box. I used a lot of double-sided tape so it would be a little neater.

I taped 20 one-dollar bills together end-to-end. I rolled them up and stuffed them into the box, leaving the one on the end sticking out. I folded and taped a piece of coordinating paper over the first bill and used a permanent marker to write a birthday message. Because the hole was a little smaller than a bill, it actually stayed put, and I didn’t have to worry about it falling in there.

Tissue Box

I flattened the birthday message tag against the box and then tied a pretty coordinating ribbon over the whole box. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of this part, probably due to my inability to use the camera on my phone. But overall, it was cute in a really pretty package. You’ll just have to believe me about how nice-looking it was.

The birthday girl pulled the first bill out and everyone was surprised to see more and more follow! She was excited to be rolling in the dough, so to speak. Though I think the best part was when my four-year-old nephew exclaimed, “That’s so much money, [enough] FOR A CAR!”

Dollars

Teal “Thank You” Cookies

10 Apr

Omigosh, y’all. I have been so super busy lately (work, life, you know the drill)… I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted. I will have more updates soon, but in the meantime, here are some great pictures from my most recent baking adventure.

I made these cookies as tokens of appreciation for our volunteers. And it’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so I made them teal – the color of the sexual violence awareness ribbon.

COOKIES!

I used a basic sugar cookie recipe – this one’s the best because it’s tasty but also doesn’t spread too much when they bake. My sister and cousin stayed with me over the weekend to hang out and because my sister wanted to “learn how to cook.” It worked out great to have a team in the kitchen since this is a somewhat labor-intensive project. And it turns out my cousin is an experienced baker, so she did a lot of the rolling and cutting of the dough. And she was super resourceful! I realized I didn’t have a rolling pin (I had always borrowed Betsy’s), and she came up with the brilliant idea to use a wine bottle. Perfect.

We used a flower cookie cutter for a slightly more interesting shape than a plain circle. The rounded edges were way easier to frost than those pointy snowflake cookies. After they baked and cooled, I topped them with some royal icing that I tinted with teal gel food coloring. (Remember – a little bit goes a long way.) Last, I sprinkled them with silver sanding sugar.

Close up

Since these were gifts for volunteers, I decided to package them up all pretty. First I placed each cookie into a clear treat bag (6 x 3.75 in – I picked them up at AC Moore). I cut strips of teal scrapbooking paper into 3.75 x 3 inches, folded them in half hotdog-style, then stamped them with a “Thank you so much” stamp. I folded the top of the bag down, slid the folded paper over top, and stapled it shut. ADORBS.

Pretty Packages

We packaged up a cookie, a mini candle, and a coupon to a local restaurant and gave them out at our volunteer appreciation party. A fun project and a great little thank you gift.

Now for an inspiring photo to end this post: Cookie Monster Cupcakes.

DIY: Memory Game

13 Feb

Generally speaking, I’m not a sharer. Or a feeler. I have a hard time explaining my emotions in words. If I must, I prefer to convey my feelings by picking a somewhat expressive song and playing it loudly. Though according to the BF, after long silent treatments, I share my feelings “suddenly and without warning.” It’s true. It takes me a while to warm up to talking about my feelings, which is odd since I talk nonstop about everything else. But once I work up the guts to say whatever it is, I generally explode before I lose my nerve.

Like a few years back, when the BF and I were facing college graduation and hadn’t worked out any plans yet. Sitting in his Jeep, I was having trouble saying out loud that I loved him, and I’d really prefer us to move in together and not go our separate ways. I finally shouted, “LOOK, I just want you to change all your life plans and be with me, OKAY? GEEZ.” His response? He smiled real goofy and kissed me. I muttered, “oh god,” and walked away.

All this is just to explain to you that I really don’t do things like the project I’m about to show you. It’s not my style. This is just so freaking adorable, and I hate love hate being adorable. It’s so… barf-inducing sweet. I usually buy him some chocolate and maybe a shirt from the Gap. I’ve only done something cuter than this one time, and I’m certainly not going to tell you what that was.

Okay, enough stalling, this is what a made: A personal deck of Memory cards. Barf. But really, these are pretty amazing. They also took a loooong time, which I will be certain to convey upon presenting these to my beloved.

Funny part? I'm terrible at this game.

I took a deck of red playing cards and cut a whole bunch of coordinating scrapbook paper to cover up the number side. Then I cut a whole bunch of images from the interwebs. Of course, all in multiples of two so I’d have matching sets for my Memory game. I actually made way more than this picture shows, but you get a nice sample here.

B-t-dubs, I got most of the images from reusableart.com. It’s old stuff, which means there is no copyright. And it worked out pretty well for me since I was going for a vintage look.

I picked images that had meaning for us. For example, I picked this crane because that’s the BF’s spirit animal: balance, stability, and integrity. And by “that’s his spirit animal,” I mean that I spent ten minutes taking online quizzes on his behalf until I got an answer I liked and could find a good picture for.

BF's Spirit Animal: Crane

And I picked this cat riding a bicycle because that’s my spirit animal. Ha.

My Spirit Animal: Clumsy Cat on a Bike

I’ll admit, I made a few just because they were pretty, like this awesome owl:

I have some Christmas cards that say "Happy Owlidays." Lurve.

Last, I made a title card. I used a 1 1/2″ circle punch to cut a hole out of the center of some cardstock. I centered this over the Ace of Hearts and then stamped the title. I was pretty pleased that our initials rhyme with “memory.”

Every time I look at this, I say it to myself in measured syllables: "A and E. Mem-or-ee."

I got everything to stick together with liberal amounts of Mod Podge. I laid out my cards how I wanted them on top of some wax paper. A layer of Podge on the card, then paper, a layer on the paper, then picture, a layer over everything.

Prep

Podge

Stick

Once I got the final layer of Podge on there, I used an old gift card to spread it even. It removed brush strokes and also flattened any air bubbles out from under the paper. I folded my wax paper in half over top of them and loaded all my cookbooks on top to make sure they stayed flat while they dried.

Scrape

Cover & Flatten

And there you go! Tied up with a bit of string, it made a very adorable Valentine’s Day gift. But use your imagination! This project could be done with a million different themes for a million different occasions.

Deck of Love Cards