Wish List Wednesday: Valentine’s Day Gifts for your man or woman [DIY, inexpensive & thoughtful]

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Happy Wednesday!

This week is going fast since the office was closed and this weekend is the NBA All-Star Break…and I am NOT complaining about it!

Today’s post is for those of us who aren’t so into Valentine’s Day, but still would love to do something thoughtful for our significant other. This Wednesday post is a little non-traditional as in there aren’t links for every idea. Hope this helps you last-minute shoppers!

1 – 52 Reasons Why I Love You – I’ve seen this gift on Pinterest a ton and it’s super cute. It’s so cheap and easy and all the materials you need could be found at the drug store or even the Dollar Store. Just come up with 52 reasons, type or write them on a sheet of paper you can glue to the cards, use some binder rings to bind them and you’re done!

2 – Love Letter Board with Candy – This is another Pinterest favorite and there are a TON of versions on the website you can use. Or, you can get creative and write your own – just use one of the previous ones that uses the candy ‘terms’ for your love letter. Another one that can be sourced at the drug store or Dollar Store!

3 – A Cuddle Kit for 2 – I LOVE this one! Grab all the goodies – and extra candy or snacks you and your love enjoy during movie nights and enjoy a night in!

4 – Memory Balloons – When I was writing this post, I asked Jason what some of his favorite gifts that have been clearly homemade were his favorites and he mentioned this one. One year, I think when we had been together for five Valentine’s Days, I bought five balloons and attached a weight and card to each. Each card had the number of the year we’d been together and my favorite memory from that year. I also made him a chocolate cake [the best recipe!] with a heart made out of pink M&M’s on the top and dropped everything off at work. It was one of his favorites…even if he was a little embarrassed at the office!

5 – Swedish Fish Gift – This is one I may use this year as Jason LOVES Swedish Fish! This one is so easy and so cute and can be done for a ton of different candies. Again, Pinterest is your BFF on this one – search the favorite candy of your significant other and Valentine’s Day and you’ll have lots of ideas to choose from!

6 – Date Jar – Such a fun idea! Those this may take a LITTLE more time than some of the others, I love this idea. Each color popsicle stick determines the type of date –

7 – Coupon Book – Another classic DIY gift, there are a million templates online, but be creative and personalize some of them. If your guy or gal loves breakfast in bed, include that – or if there is a restaurant you hate but they love, promise to eat a meal there together. This one is easily personalized and can make a person feel so so special!

8 – Dessert surprise! – This wouldn’t be the best Valentine’s surprise for Jason because I try to do this from time to time normally, BUT make a special trip to get a treat that your significant other loves. For Jason, that’s Emeril’s banana cream pie. I’ve thought about trying to make it, but, I know my limits! If I’m downtown for a meeting during the day or something, I’ll stop by and pick a piece up to bring him at work. It’s always a welcomed gesture –and, since we don’t eat there more than a few times a year since it’s such an expensive night out, it’s a luxury surprise for sure!

9 – Basket of Favorites – The picture of the next gift idea is one I helped a co-worker put together for one of her staff members as a thank you. It’s so easy to make and personalize to really spoil the person on the receiving end. Collect candy, gift cards and other items, hot glue them to a dowel and find a great container to put them all in. Here’s an easy tutorial (I’ll admit, I didn’t use floral tape when I made mine) – it’s SUCH an easy gift to be as creative or simple as you wish!

10 – Book his or her favorite day! – Similar to the coupons and spoiling your significant other by promising to put on a smile and participate in their favorite outing, activity or heading to their favorite restaurant, this one is a way to really show you care. For us, usually this means me either tagging a long while Jason bowls, or, on the rare occasion, bowling with him. A lot of times, your loved one may not suggest their favorite activities or places because he/she knows it’s not on your list – surprise them by already having everything set! A simple, but sweet and thoughtful gesture.

11 – Cook his or her favorite meal – I feel like I am guilty of always deferring to this, but, homemade lobster ravioli is always a hit. If your significant other has a favorite meal at a restaurant that’s not TOO far outside of your comfort zone to make, gift it a shot. If you can, find a way to incorporate hearts – like the heart-shaped cookie cutter I used to make raviolis – or make a heart-shaped cake. Again, it’s the thought that counts with this one — well, if the house is still standing when you’re done in the kitchen!

I hope these ideas help if you’re looking for a last-minute idea that’s thoughtful, simple and doesn’t break the bank!

What are your Valentine’s Day plans?

Have a great day!

-Lindsey

 

For the Dogs: Homemade Peanut Butter Treats

Happy Tuesday!

Anyone else feeling like this?

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We were so lazy during this three-day weekend, it’s going to be a challenge getting going this morning!

Today’s post is all about the pooches. When I have time, I love making homemade snacks for Jersey and JoJo. I like knowing exactly what ingredients are in them and it also makes me feel like I’m doing something extra special for them, even if they have no idea!

The recipe I’m sharing today is what I used to make one of the two homemade treats that Jersey and JoJo gave to their doggy friends for Christmas. I even included a shot of the gifts all packaged up — they were fun to put together.

This recipe, and the second that I’ll share on a different day, were like doggy crack. Jersey would go outside to “do her business” like 10 times a day, which is unusual. Well, it didn’t take too long to figure out she just wanted to “earn” a treat. Such a stinker!

Homemade peanut butter treats with oats

Recipe from A Cozy Kitchen

Ingredients

-1/2 cup of peanut butter (I used the creamy kind)

-1/4 cup honey

-1 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil (or olive oil) I really wanted to find a recipe that included coconut oil since it’s good for dogs… and humans!

-1 cup chicken broth

-1 cup rolled oats

-1 cup whole wheat flour

-1 cup all-purpose flour

Directions

1-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2-Whisk together peanut butter, honey, oil and chicken broth.

3-In a separate bowl, combine flours and oatmeal.

4-Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

5-Place dough on flour dusted surface. Roll or press dough out to about 1/4” inch thick.

6-Use a small bone cookie cutter to cut out cookies. On A Cozy Kitchen, she used larger cookie cutters for larger dogs (5″ dog-bone shaped); I used 1″ little hearts so they were pretty small.

7-Put cut-out cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet.

8-Bake for 14-16 minutes.

9-Transfer to a cooling rack.

10-Give a sample to your favorite taste-testers!

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Don’t they look delicious? Ha ha! A few of the dogs we gave them to (I’m talking to you, sweet Mackie!) were a little picky and all the dogs LOVED them!

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Oh, and isn’t my sous chef just the cutest?

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Hope your furbabies or favorite doggy friends enjoy them!

Have a great day and thanks for reading!

-Lindsey

 

Wish List Wednesday

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Over the weekend, I was working on this post and realized how many great holiday sales were happening online…still!

The items in red are holiday clearance items that are about 75% off. H&M, Pier 1, World Market, Nordstrom and Macy’s had some great deals. If you like metallics, looking in holiday clearance sections is a great place to find gold and silver accent in addition to Christmas decor. (I may have to buy some of those wine glasses — gorgeous!)

I’ve only bought one set of sconces in my life, but two very different ones caught my eye on H&M’s site. I love the black-framed distressed-looking mirror–so pretty–and the gold star sconces are gorgeous. SUCH great prices, too. The dinner plates and serving piece from World Market look like watercolors, so I loved them immediately.

The ‘Push for Champagne’ frame is from Beauty Appeal, an Etsy store, owned my friend Aly. Her stuff is awesome — I received one of the necklaces as a Christmas gift from her sister-in-law and I LOVE it — she does custom pieces, too!

I had to throw the basketball court rug from H&M in there, too. I’ve seen it online and just love it — is it terrible that I want to buy it in case we have a baby boy someday?!

Happy shopping!

Have a great day!

-Lindsey

MIA + Recipe: Candy Cane Cupcakes

Happy Monday, everyone!

My sincerest apologies for being MIA for the last week and a half. I knew the week leading in my my trip to Chicago would be busy, but it was more of a bear than I thought. On top of that, with the weather fluctuating so much, I caught a cold that only worsened during my trip.

Upon arriving home, I spent as much time as I could resting up and finally went to the doctor on Friday morning after about 10 (!!!) days of coughing and feeling crappy. I knew I wasn’t to the point where it could be pneumonia yet, but I was scared it would head that direction as I started noticing that I was out of breath. The doctor said it was viral, but gave me a steroid shot (never had one…they are AMAZING!), antibiotics, a course of steroids and an inhaler. I’m finally feeling better and have a voice back (mostly). It just started out as the typical reaction to the temperatues drastically changing so much, but I’m glad they gave me something to keep it from progressing.

I’ll do a separate post later, but the trip to Chicago was AMAZING! It wasn’t the sites or the activities, but the quality time with some of my favorite friends over a five-day period were absolutely perfect. It makes me so happy to see them so happy!

So, now that you’re caught up, we’re FOUR days from Christmas. EEK! Definitely not prepared, but we’re getting there…minus the fact that we don’t have a tree. At this point, I’m just saying screw it, but it definitely doesn’t feel like Christmas without it — and usually, we are such Christmas people. Jason’s just been working so much and has now caught a cold, so he’s just not into it. All that matters is my mom will be here, the puppies will be spoiled and we’ll hopefully have a great group for dinner on Christmas day!

On to the cupcakes!

A few years ago, for my work gift, I made everyone little boxes with four cupcakes. It was a TON of work, but one of my favorite gifts I’ve done. With the numbers now, it would sadly be too difficult to do, but I have hung on to this recipe and use it almost every year. Such a great holiday cupcake!

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Candy Cane Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

From Baking Bites, makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk (low fat is fine)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 tsp peppermint extract

1 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp red food coloring

Directions:

1-Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

2-In a large bowl, mix together eggs and sugar until mixture is light and creamy and the sugar has mostly been dissolved.

3-Stir in milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and peppermint extracts. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

4-Pour into wet ingredients and whisk just until batter is smooth.

5- Measure out one cup of batter and place it back in the medium bowl. Add red food coloring to this bowl and whisk to incorporate.

6-Put a spoonful (approx 2-3 tsp) of the white batter into the center each cupcake paper and let it spread slightly on its own.

7-Put a spoonful of red batter in the center of the white. It will push out the other batter and, as it sits for a moment, will also spread itself.

8-Alternating spoonfuls of the two batters and trying to keep the amounts as even as possible (after the first layer, I used smaller amounts of red and white with each spoonful), repeat the technique until all the batter has been used up.

9-Bake for about 15 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of each cupcake comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.

10-Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

 Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

4-oz cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp milk

2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar

green food coloring (optional, but recommended for the holidays)

Directions:

1-In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and butter.

2-Beat until smooth, then mix in vanilla extract, milk and 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar.

3-Beat until very smooth, then gradually blend in additional sugar until frosting is fluffy, thick and easy to spread.

4-Beat in up to 1/2 tsp green food coloring to dye the frosting, if you wish.

Note: Frosting can be spread onto the cupcakes or piped on using a piping bag.

Sorry, again, for the absense! Looking forward to a week of holiday-related posts!

Have a great day!

-Lindsey

 

 

 

Recipe: Chocolate Mint Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream

Today, I’m excited to share one of my favorite holiday cupcake recipes. I LOVE baking all year round, but especially during the holiday season — peppermint is one of my favorite flavors and these chocolate mint cupcakes are amazing!

Side note: One year, I couldn’t find peppermint extract ANYWHERE on Christmas Eve (I know, I know… waited until the very last minute). Best place to look — stores that carry groceries, but aren’t grocery stores. Target and Walmart were the only places I had any luck that year!

I found these receipes a few years ago and modified them a bit. I wish I could share a link to the original, but it’s been so long since I found it!

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Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

(Makes about 18 cupcakes)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

3/4 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3/4 cup warm water

1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

 

Instructions:

1-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.

2-Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

3-Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, water, and peppermint extract, and beat with a mixer on low speed until smooth.

4-Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.

5-Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

6-Let cupcakes cool in tins on wire racks for 10 minutes.

Note: Undecorated cupcakes will keep, covered, for 1 day, or frozen for up to 2 months.

Mint Buttercream Frosting (Simply Recipes)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tbsp milk

1/4 – 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

2 cups powdered sugar

 

Instructions:

1-Beat the butter at medium speed until creamy.

2-Beat in milk and mint extract.

3-Slowly add in the powdered sugar on low speed, stopping every once in a while to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until light and fluffy.

4-Taste and add more mint extract if it isn’t minty enough.

5-Also add more powdered sugar if it isn’t sweet enough for your taste.

Note: I usually put a little more than 1/4 tsp of the mint extract and exactly 2 cups of sugar.

Easy peasy and so delicious!

Have a great day!

-Lindsey