A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family
A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: For the Ladies (Part 2)

Happy Monday and welcome back from the weekend. Ours was a little bit relaxing, a little bit busy. We found our Christmas tree Saturday and began decorating the house, all while listening to a little classical Christmas music and enjoying a few of these. (Warning: they’re terribly addictive). Kev talked me into what I thought was a Charlie Brown tree of sorts while we were at the Christmas tree farm, but it turns out that the odd ball of a lengthy, gappy tree is sort of growing on me (when we initially brought it into the house it was three feet too tall). I’ll share when it’s finally up and you can tell me what you think.

Today I’m sharing part 2 of my gift guide for the ladies! Here’s a link to part 1, and a link to the gift guide series on the blog just for fun.

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: For the Ladies | PepperDesignBlog.com

bamboo bath caddy | chevron iPhone case | two tone block planter
pendant necklace | ‘Rita’ painting | instagram magnets
chevron latte mug | hand printed vine linens

I’m starting this guide off with what I secretly hope will be a diy present from the mister (hint, hint) – but one that would be an equally sweet, purchased treat for any lady. What am I referring to? That beautiful bamboo bath caddy up there in the left corner. So simple and yet so perfect for a book and a glass of wine, no? Kevin is fond of working with various planed raw planks that we find at the lumberyard, maybe he can find one that is about, oh, 3′x1′ to go with that great bathroom that he built.

Following along the planter craze that I’ve started in our household, I have a few standing planters that I’m eying this season – including this wood + white version that feels both very organic and very fresh. Speaking of fresh, (but in a different way) how pretty is this beautiful ‘Rita’ painting?

If you’re searching for a finicky friend, a simple long necklace like this guy is a win (love the unusual shape of the pendant). I’m still a huge fan of the wallet + phone covers but I couldn’t resist this chevron case a gift idea.

I discovered Stickygram earlier this year and have some magnet ideas in the hopper (made from Instagram photos – very easy) for Liv. This chevron latte mug is more of what I have in mind for a close girlfriend (would be great paired with a pound of my favorite roasted coffee beans). Possibly a diy project like this?

I am also a sucker for all things block print. Both this hand printed linen vine design and this charcoal dots version have landed on my boards this year. Linens in general are beautiful and practical gifts for friends, family and neighbors. Pair with a favorite cookbook for something extra special

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: For the Ladies | PepperDesignBlog.com

hand carved bowl | dance 2 printsequined pillow cover
mint & gold necklace | porcelain bird feeders | chevron pullover sweater
plaid button down | charcoal dots handprinted napkinsbooties

Our neighbor (the one who built the girls’ awesome bookcases) makes beautiful wooden bowls and vases out of stumps and other found woods. Sometimes Liv and I stop by his workshop (which is just two houses down) on the walk to preschool in the mornings and I’ve come to appreciate the beauty in the natural wood pieces. This piece isn’t by him, but a hand carved bowl like that one would make a beautiful gift for a family member for displaying or using.

Speaking of displaying, I recently picked up a sequined gold pillow that looks a lot like this one from Target and love how it sparkles on our guest bed year round – but especially how it looks on the couch this time of the year next to our Christmas tree. I can’t seem to find my exact pillow online.

Art is a gift that will always be loved - this print is a colorful (but quite generic) gift idea that I think would be a favorite by many. Another crowd pleaser? The sculptural porcelain bird feeders with their bright pop of color on the inside. I would love, love two for the pepper tree in our backyard.

I personally bought myself a two strand (contact the etsy designer for a custom listing) version of this mint & gold necklace last year and I wear it all of the time. I can vouch for how beautiful and fun it looks in person.

Raspberry red and plaid are two colors (patterns? styles?) that I’ve been leaning towards. This button down and this chevron pullover sweater are perfect. Speaking of style, how great are these ankle booties? A versatile color that can be worn with black, brown and everything in between.

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And there you have it! That concludes four inspiration boards of thoughtful and unique gift ideas for the ladies in your life. Be they sisters, friends, the babysitter… I hope these help when hunting down something special for that special someone.

Here’s that link to the first two boards (part 1) and again a link to all of the gift guide series previously posted on the blog. Happy Monday.

Friday Guest Blog Interview: Elise of enJOY it

Friday Guest Blog Interview: Elise of enJOY it | PepperDesignBlog.com

Happy Friday, all. I have a special guest that I’d like to introduce today, as well as a new blog that I think you will love. I started following Elise a few months ago when I realized how much we had in common – Elise is a San Diego local, graduate from USC in business (same time as me, though we’ve never met), married a military man, digs house plants and Kilim rugs ;), has a baby girl just a couple of weeks older than Taylor.

Friday Guest Blog Interview: Elise of enJOY it | PepperDesignBlog.com

 She is a crafter by nature and her journey there is an inspiring one (one that I also really connected with having graduated with a a more corporate-minded degree before floating over to something with a little more of a creative edge), Elise’s expertise is in beautiful handmade goods and helpful online tutorials & workshops. Her home is full of inspiration and I’m so happy she’s agreed to share some of her thoughts on home design and favorite inspiration today.

Friday Guest Blog Interview: Elise of enJOY it | PepperDesignBlog.com

Friday Guest Blog Interview: Elise of enJOY it | PepperDesignBlog.com

Jump on over to the full interview (with my five usual questions) to learn more about Elise and her home.

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Homemade Kahlua

Guys, this recipe is good. I mean really good.

I was gifted a delicious bottle of homemade Kahlua last year, and ever since I’ve been meaning to learn how to make this sweet & cinnamony coffee-flavored liqueur.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

Best made into a White Russian (Kahlua + vodka + cream or half & half). Cream + coffee + rum + cinnamon + sugar, I don’t know what flavor combination gets much better than that, especially this time of the year!

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

When I began searching for Kahlua recipes online, I came across too many to count – and too many variations that all sounded delicious. So in the spirit of trying something new, I created my own using my favorite mix of ingredients from several recipes around the web.

Homemade Kahlua

Makes about 64oz, or enough to fill four of the 16oz bottles that I shared yesterday. For my own gifts this year, I doubled this recipe to create eight 16oz bottles.

Ingredients:
~1 liter bottle of rum (you might use a bit less depending on the size of your final bottles)
1 c water
2 c sugar
1 lb whole coffee beans
Rind of half of an orange
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole vanilla beans (cut and split)

Fill each bottle by splitting the ingredients evenly amongst the bottles you’re using – for example, each of my smaller 16oz bottles received roughly 1/2 a vanilla bean, 1/2 a cinnamon stick, 2 orange rind slices, 1/3 lb coffee beans, 2/3 c sugar, 1/3 c water and ~5-6oz rum.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

I used the end of a wooden spoon to help mix all together.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

(The above photo is before all of the rum was added).

Then seal and store your bottles in a dark place, shaking ingredients 1-2 times a week for 2-3 weeks. The longer they sit, the more delicious they get!

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

When they emerge, they should be a beautiful amber color.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

You could strain out the coffee beans, cinnamon stick, vanilla and orange for a pure liquid:

Homemade Kahlua

But I actually liked the look of some of the whole ingredients left in the bottle (plus it will continue to marinate in the cupboard of your giftee). And the floating beans makes for a pretty addition to that above mentioned White Russian.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

Label your bottles with hang tags or sticker labels (I used shipping label sticker paper for mine). Here’s the download if you’d like to use it (remember to use the link and NOT the image below – that’s a low quality version just for looks). The red in these labels will be a much stronger cranberry red on regular paper and a darker, mulberry red when printed on sticker paper.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com-13_400

I ended up rounding the black corners after cutting these out, too. I think it gives a nice, polished look. You could also sign your name under the dotted line after ‘Merry Christmas’ to personalize it.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

So that is the easiest way to make this delicious drink! But I will share with you one more variation that – if you have time – will make it a bit sweeter.

As I began experimenting with this recipe, I actually tried creating a simple syrup first out of all of the ingredients.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

Here’s how that’s done: bring all ingredients (with exception of alcohol) to a simmer in a sauce pan. Cook down the simple syrup until it’s about the consistency of light cough syrup (that’s a bad description – maybe a very watery honey sounds prettier?).

Fill up your glass bottles halfway with alcohol and then add this new simple syrup as well (with all of the whole ingredients, aka coffee beans, cinnamon sticks, orange rinds, vanilla beans) and put into pantry.

This time the infusion will start out a bit darker, and will continue to get cloudier over the next couple of weeks.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

We did a taste test between the two and I preferred the sweeter, slightly spicier version of the Kahlua better (made with the simple syrup), but Kevin and my mom opted for the more recognizable taste of traditional Kahlua from the first batch.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

Either way – you’ll love the result! This really is a delicious recipe.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

PS here’s a link to yesterday’s easy diy vanilla extract, and a link to all of the handmade gifts from this blog (including that rosemary olive oil and lavender lemon sea salt that is equally yummy). 

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