How to Buy a Good Gift: Valentine’s Day edition

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Buying a gift for someone is something that a lot of people find to be really stressful. I happen to love buying or making gifts for people, it’s always an amazing feeling when someone REALLY likes what you got them.

For Valentine’s Day, there seems to be a lot at stake. But keep in mind, any gift you give does not have to be something that screams hearts and candies. Only you can decide on your budget, but there are a few good tips to keep in mind to make sure you get someone something that they’ll love you for.

These may seem like no-brainers, but sometimes simple things get lost when you’re wracking your brain.

Think of their hobbies – So simple. What does this person like to do? My boyfriend likes beer, so I could easily get him beer. Or something beer related for his homebrewing adventures, for example, I had a custom tap handle made for him a couple of years ago to put onto his kegerator.  If your other half likes to hit the gym, you could get them a fitness tracker… for a Valentine’s Day couple-y twist, get one for both of you and work out together!

Figure out what they do they do to treat themselves – Valentine’s Day is not just for chocolates anymore! If your boo likes spicy stuff, put together a sriracha pretzel mix or a specialty hot sauce. If you have a health food nut, hit up your local Whole Foods or Health Food store and pick up an assortment of healthy snacks. Does your girl love to take baths? Lush makes some serious bubble bars and bath bombs that are to die for. Or you can make your own. Or you can make a nice body scrub yourself. I know whiskey can be a real love for some, why not get a really nice bottle of aged whiskey or a sampler pack of a few kinds. You can get gourmet coffee blends.

If you want to get a floral arrangement, branch out. Red roses are the sign of the holiday, but what is your girl’s favorite flower? It makes a much more of an impact if you make the gift personal.

If you must do chocolate (I know I can destroy a box of chocolates), forego the cheap box of chocolates at the grocery store or drug store. Opt for a local chocolatier. In Delaware, there’s a lovely family owned chocolate company called Govatos that has been churning out chocolate for over 100 years. Pair it with a favorite bottle of wine! …Or just get a whole bunch of wine!

Go for a Cuteness Attack! – Make a little scrapbook of your adventures and give it to them. I use Walgreen’s photo book making service, but there’s always Shutterfly. Make cheesecake conversation hearts (they are so cute I just can’t stand it! I know I still like getting stuffed animals as Valentine’s Day presents. It’s something my mom used to do for me as a kid.

Plan an activity to do together. Giving an item is all well and good, but giving an experience can leave a lasting impression. What you do entirely depends on your budget and how long you’ve known the person. You don’t want to come on too strong! Instead of going out to dinner, recreate the high class dining experience at home for a more personal touch and some savings! If you live in the DE, PA, MD, NJ area, go to Longwood Gardens and check out Orchid Extravaganza! You could also take a weekend trip to a romantic place like a cabin in the mountains. Pick something that just the two of you can enjoy together!

XOXO,

Caitlin

New Recipe!

I tried out a new recipe last night and thought I’d share. I’d never made beef lo mein, but it was pretty simple, so I’d make it again! 10984568_10203665406610965_2354417078597066401_n

I got the recipe at Mom’s Dish. One thing I’d recommend is to really make sure you’re not cooking it too long, my meat got a little tough. It takes a few pans and pots, but it’s worth the time, enjoy!

-Caitlin

Sweetie Scrub

Whenever I think about “Scrubs,” my initial thought is “I don’t want no Scrubs!” I had to put that aside however, because unlike a guy that can’t get no love from me, a sugar scrub is all kinds of fantastic. Sugar scrubs really exfoliate your dead skin, which is perfect for the winter cold and dry skin that often accompanies it.

Sugar scrub can be the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for a friend or coworker, it’s easy to make and smells divine! After I used it I had half a mind to just dig in and eat some.

To make some of your own…

Vanilla Cinnamon Scrub
Makes one jar

1/2 cup of coconut oil
1 cup of granulated sugar (I made one with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 granulated sugar too)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Items to mix

I had trouble getting the coconut oil out of the jar, since it’s solid, so I popped it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Make sure to take the lid off, it’s a no-brainer but I wanted to mention it just in case.

Mix well! Spoon into desired container, I chose fancy little 8oz mason jars and added a pretty fabric on top with a little bow, gotta make it look festive!

Both versions of the scrubs

I wasn’t as big of a fan as the brown sugar one because the molasses smell was a little strong, but if you like molasses, it’s perfect! I did a little quality control on the all granulated sugar scrub and it worked – and smelled – like a dream! Just be careful if you’re going to use it in the shower because things can get slippery.

Happy Crafting!

-Caitlin

A Valentine's Day Scrub for your Sweetie! Easy to make and smells delicious!

Boo Bark

I hope everyone’s January is going well! Luckily, the weather has held out so far and we haven’t had any brushes with a polar vortex or snowmageddon. Since it’s the middle of January, I figured now would be a good time to start getting some ideas ready for Valentine’s Day. Most of the time i like to put a personal touch on my gifts, I feel like it means more that way and since the holiday is about showing love for other people it just makes sense. Last year, I painted a canvas green and drew a celtic knot “H” for my boyfriend to hang on the blank wall of his bedroom above his bed. He loves anything Irish and green and I thought the H would be a nice representation of his family name.

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A couple of years ago I used a silicone mold to melt down several different colors of crayons to make my niece some chunky heart shaped crayons that were easy to hold and fun to look at.

This year, I wanted to start off with a festive snack! I decided to bring back a dessert that my mom used to make when I was a teenager. Before you get the idea that this is going to be some fancy affair, you should know my mom hates to cook or bake. I moved out of her house last July and she hasn’t touched the oven since. I’m not sure where she found the recipe initially but it uses the stovetop AND the oven and was always something that I couldn’t help but scarf down. They’re dangerously addicting, I swear!

VDay Bark

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Baby season

A lot of my friends are having babies in the upcoming months! This is the first year that I’ve really had multiple friend babies due, and I normally like to make some/most of the gift so I have a lot of crafting to do!

This weekend, I went to a baby shower for two of my friends whose baby girl is due in the beginning of March.

I made several things for this shower and I
wanted to share what I came up with!

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Cure for Cold Hands

I just lost the one pair of gloves I had in my house.

Now, I don’t know about where you are, but in Delaware it’s really cold right now, so not having gloves has kind of been an issue. My hands are already cold to begin with, my boyfriend says I’m like a super villain (Ms. Freeze 🙂 ) the way I suck the warmth from everything with my cold hands – and feet too! With actual winter like temperatures starting to roll in, my hands get like ice, especially in the morning when I’m on my way to work. I haven’t had the time to go out and get myself a good pair of gloves, so I thought in the mean time I could whip up some hand warmers to take the edge off of my frost bitten hands. These are super easy to make and can be whipped up in no time. They fit perfectly in a coat pocket and you can make them bigger or smaller depending on the hands you’re trying to warm. After you make yourself a pair, make one or two for family and friends!

Items

What you’ll need:

Scissors
Thread
Needle
Pins
Coordinating fabric – I used a cotton print and a solid flannel, you won’t need much, can easily use scraps
Rice – 1/2 to 2/3 cup

To start, iron your fabric and cut out squares, two from each fabric. I made each of mine 3.5″ square, but if you have bigger hands or you’re making some for a child, you can adjust as needed. I have very small hands, so this size worked for me.

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Next, pin your fabrics right sides together making sure to leave a two inch opening on one side so you can turn it right side out later.

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Now it’s time to do some machine sewing! Thread up your machine and start sewing with a 1/4″ seam allowance right after the second pin for your two inch opening and make sure to back stitch. Continue sewing all the way around your square until you get to your last pin and back stitch again.

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Once you’ve finished sewing, trim your threads, clip your corners, and turn right side out. I used a turner to do this to get the corners nice and crisp.

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It’s time to fill your warmers with rice. For the size I made, each warmer took 1/4 cup of rice. If you’re having trouble getting  the rice in, use a funnel or make a makeshift one like my boyfriend did for me out of an envelope 🙂

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This next part is a little tricky. If you don’t mind seeing seams, you can head over to your sewing machine, turn your raw edges under and stitch them. I like things to look a little neater so I decided fold the fabric at the opening over and close it up with a ladder stitch. The graphic below explains it better than I could, but it’s easily my favorite hand stitch. After you’re done stitching, you pull it tight and it closes like magic. Invisible magic.

ladder stitch

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After everything’s been pulled tight I secured the stitch with a little knot slipped through the end of the sewing machine stitches.

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Snip off the thread after the knot and you’re done!

To use them, pop them into the microwave 20-30 seconds, depending on how powerful your microwave is, slip them in your pockets and stay toasty warm!

-Caitlin

hw

New Year and New Crafts

I wanted to start off the year with some creativity. I was sick all of winter break and I wanted to get back to using my brain again. In the middle of some present making, I had the time to make a couple of items. The first was a gratitude jar. I’ve seen these popping up on Pinterest and Facebook, so I thought I’d make one of my own. The premise is that every day (or whenever) when something good happens or something makes you happy you write it on a slip of paper and put it in the jar. At the end of the year, you open it up and read about what an awesome year you had!

10409564_10203439422201496_7089937805555287768_nI decorated mine fairly simply, with metallic Sharpie markers and a bit of yarn. I’m into this turquoise-y color right now so I wanted to find a way to incorporate it, so I used the yarn and the paper to bring it in with the gold and silver of the markers.

My next order of business was to make a new wreath for my office door. I’ve been making them throughout the year for each season/holiday and now that Christmas is over but it still feels too early for Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d make an interim one that could be used at any time of year if I wanted to sub it in. image1IMG_1213IMG_1214

I’ve got more to make this week, so more pictures will be posted soon!

-Caitlin