Here’s a quick DIY gift to share today that I just finished and put under our tree. I can’t remember where this idea stemmed from – possibly a Pinterest post? or an excess of cupcake supplies in the kitchen? perhaps from something I’ve seen at the store? – but either way this was a fun and easy gift to assemble and one I hope the recipient will think is thoughtful and fun (especially for the baker!).
I made two versions of this gift, one that was smaller and is packaged more as a hostess gift, stocking stuffer or little favor, and the other as a meatier version with plenty of cupcake treats.
The larger kit contains a colorful mix of mini taper candles, cupcake liners in a variety of shapes and sizes, sprinkles (repackaged in little bead containers), specialty nonpareils, mini cookie cutters (perfect for fondant or cupcake pops) and lollipop sticks (more cupcake pop!). You could also include icing tubes, food coloring, marzipan flowers, toothpick toppers or a little cupcake book for decorating inspiration. I found my cardboard box right here.
I like the idea of sticking to a rough color scheme (mine below is sort of pink, orange and yellow) to keep the contents looking a little planned. But it could be equally fun to go crazy with color! Or design a kit based off of a specific event, like a graduation with school colors, a bridal shower theme or a holiday.
The mini kit contained some of the above but in a more edited form.
I found the clear-topped cupcake boxes at Michaels, it’s kind of fun to peek inside!
One more gift to cross off of the Christmas list and one more handmade project that I’m really digging. Now on to the rest!
PS You can find the line up of this year’s handmade projects by sorting all posts here.
Tags: Christmas, Crafty Solutions, Desserts, DIY, Parties & Entertaining
Posted in Crafty Solutions, DIY, Gift Guides, Handmade Gifts, Holidays, Parties & Entertaining | 8 Comments »
This weekend I finished my first batch of handmade Christmas presents. Warning friends and family – you may or may not be gifted one of the several projects that I’m planning to feature over the next two weeks. If you are, pinky swear you’ll act surprised.
This first gift is inspired by our love of cooking. Kevin and I are the type that really dig those usual (and sometimes a little crazy) gifts of thyme-infused syrup, lemon sea salt, curry pistachio paste, pickled potatoes… you know, the weird stuff that you can experiment with in the kitchen. This actually happens to be my favorite find of all time, I keep containers of it in our pantry and add it to almost every finished dish. Especially raw avocados. Mmmm.
My goal was to make something unique – and not too crazy – for kitchen use for friends and family. Actually, many of my homemade ideas this year stem from some sort of favorite cooking or bartending technique.
Pretty, inexpensive and not too time consuming! The trifecta of handmade gifting. I really enjoyed spending this past Saturday morning decorating for Christmas with this delicious fragrance roaming through the house in the background. A homemade gift that I highly recommend.
The infusion will now sit until Christmas, soaking up all of that wonderful rosemary goodness while the oil becomes the perfect base for salad dressings and marinades, or drizzled alone over sliced heirloom tomatoes or crusty bread.
Rosemary Infused Olive Oil
Materials for six 8oz bottles: 15-20 fresh rosemary sprigs, one half gallon of olive oil, small glass bottles with a sealable lid
A quick note on materials. You really could swap out any fresh herb in exchange for rosemary (or even lemon, garlic or roasted veggies, for that matter – though you’ll want to read up on how to prep these to avoid bacterial growth). Olive oil is completely subjective to taste but I’ve read that original (and not extra virgin) is ideal for taking on infused flavors. I imagine EVOO would work great as a substitute in a pinch. I considered ordering a fancy gallon of olive oil online and then I read the rave reviews and blind taste testing results for Costco’s very own and was sold. It’s supposedly one of the best! Finally, any glass bottle will do (even canning jars) and I’ve heard that Ikea carries a nice selection as well.
One big secret here is to use fresh herbs, preferably those that you grow just under your window sill (or in your front yard, we have waaay too much rosemary in our front yard, but it does smell fresh and yummy year round).
I found my little glass bottles at Save-On-Crafts after searching and searching (my kind sister noticed my dilemma over Thanksgiving and a day later she pointed me to a pinterest link for these adorable bottles! Thanks sis.) and was pleasantly surprised at the quality, price ($1.29 each!) and adorable little corks. When the bottles arrived, they received a thorough dishwasher washing and were allowed to completely dry.
The rosemary, mind you it’s straight from the garden where bugs live and children play, was cut down to sprig size and thoroughly rinsed. The whole bunch was left to soak in a water bath for about an hour. This is a sure fire way to uncling any unnecessary flavoring, if you know what I mean, from the sprigs. Followed by a few more rinses.
Once the rosemary is thoroughly washed, allow it to thoroughly dry (either out on the counter or by speeding up the process on a low temp in the oven). This is especially important for the rosemary sprigs that will go straight into the bottles (rather than the infusion) – any type of moisture allows for the possibility of mold. Update: my very first batch began showing mold at the very top of the rosemary in several jars after two weeks. I did a bit of research and realized that by soaking the rosemary I had allowed too much moisture into the bottle. For my second round, I let my rosemary dry out for several days so that no water was present during bottling.
To prep my infusion, I poured half of the olive oil and half of my clean rosemary into a large pot on low heat. To keep the olive oil from frying the herbs, ensure all goes in at the same time and that the oil is not spattering when you dust a little water over its surface, the oil should be luke warm. Let the mixture sit and infuse for 5-10 minutes, there’s no science to this process but you’ll know that much of the flavor has been steeped out of the herbs when they begin to wilt and turn a different shade of green. Turn heat off and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, use the other half batch of fresh rosemary to fill your glass bottles. You don’t want to reuse the same rosemary in the above process, this rosemary is now a sad shade of green and will droop in your bottles.
I used a small liquid measuring cup to scoop out the rosemary infused olive oil from the pot to pour slowly into each bottle. It’s okay if some rosemary leaves and even sprigs are transferred with the oil. Fill each bottle half way with warm, infused olive oil and half with your remaining fresh olive oil.
Pouring over a foil lined cookie sheet makes clean up a breeze. Simply scrunch up the mess when you’re done, no gooey oil to sop up.
Oh it smells sooo good.
Cork well and let sit for 1-2 weeks for a full infusion. If you’re planning on gifting right away, the oil will still be deliciously infused after just a few days, but mention to the giftee that if they let it sit in the cupboard for a full two weeks the olive oil will reach its peak.
I made these labels on my computer at home and printed on brown card stock. A little stamp in the background adds a subtle handmade touch. Do you use Illustrator? You’re welcome to my template if you’d like, just shoot me an email since I can’t post ai files directly on the blog.
Update: So thrilled there are so many of you who would like to try this out! I’ve made a generic pdf template without the ‘Love, Morgan & Kevin’ that you can download here, you could always leave it blank or write in your own name on the printed version. Of course I’m also happy to share the .ai file, too!
A couple of snips, a grommet and some twine later, and my rosemary infused olive oil project is finished.
Did I mention it’s delicious with just plain bread and salt? Oh man.
Tags: Christmas, Crafty Solutions, Parties & Entertaining, Recipes, Tutorial
Posted in DIY, Handmade Gifts, Holidays, Parties & Entertaining, Recipes | 9 Comments »
It’s that time of the year again! December has officially arrived and my list for gift giving is beginning to fill up and up. Just as I did last year (if you’re in need of a few more ideas, check out this round up too), I thought that I might share several of the kid-related presents that have caught my eye, either for one of those kids on my list, as an idea for Liv or because it’s just too cute!
Ladies and Guys Gift Guides to come.
I always have a lot of fun shopping for girls and this year was no exception. This multi colored trapper hat is a happy and fun accessory for winter and this sequin cardigan is perfect for holiday parties and special gatherings. I’ve always been a huge fan of little striped and polka dotted tights on Liv and these are adorable (though I wish the stripes extended all the way to the top? Does that bother anyone else when dressing their wee little one?). This peacoat is a total splurge but I had to include it. When Old Navy comes out with their version, I’d love to be on the must-know list.
I found these moccasins in Spain and was so thrilled to have stumbled across them again on Amazon! They are the most comfortable shoes that Liv wears almost every day. They have a zipper on the inside (critical for getting boots on toddlers), are super durable and absolutely adorable with leggings, tights or skinny jeans. (Now they make them for infants, too!)
For the boys, I’m digging this baby huxley polo and these Livie & Luca cowboy boots (possibly my favorite find). Big fan of cute, out-of-the-ordinary hats like this moose beanie (sort of resembles a reindeer, right? and would be adorable for this winter!) and check out these cool shades for little men, now they can look just like daddy. This boy’s button up cardigan is a stylish winter staple.
Back to the toys, and I have plenty that have caught my eye after much internet and catalog trolling.
I still can’t get enough of the phenomenon of these cute bouncy toys that have taken over the market these past couple of years, and I’m sure kids can’t either! Unconventional (and absolutely adorable) stuffies like this corduroy lion always win me over, perfect for a new baby (the same company makes an elephant, alligator, horse, cat, you name it).
Liv is currently enamored with the idea of cutting her own food! This wooden set by Melissa & Doug is perfect for toddlers. And I wish I had thought of this next idea! Chalkboard placemats! Perfect for active kids at the dinner table.
You may know well my love of wooden toys from previous posts, this little buggy is perfect for toting around baby dolls, toys, play food supplies (pretend grocery store shopping?) and anything else your little ones might like to carry. Speaking of wooden toys, I would love to make Liv a little dollhouse next year, but this foldable version is a great alternative to tote around to Grandma’s house and for playdates. Take the guesswork out of learning to tie shoes, and for those that are just about that age this toy seems like a fun way to practice.
Kiwi Crate is such a clever idea and would make the perfect gift from a Grandma or Aunt to a child for Christmas. It’s a subscription based program with a new box filled with 2-3 craft projects arriving each month – a fun reason to sit down and have a little family craft time! You might have caught Liv building her little gingerbread house on Instagram (you can follow us @morganspenla) earlier this month, Kiwi Crate was kind enough to send us a holiday kit. Use this link to get $5 off your first $20-per-box subscription.
Last but not least in the above collage, this extreme DIY wall coaster (a marble run that flips and zips over 16 feet) looks like a lot of fun! A great idea for kids that love to connect and build.
Family board games are a must – here’s one that prompts storytelling and the imagination for kids of all ages. Toys that get the kids outside are also a favorite of mine, this chalk trail for a kid’s bike seems like a lot of fun – attach chalk and draw/bike away! Here’s a cool spin on the ever popular deer head – but in the form of an upcycled sweater moose! This would be great in a nursery. And a gummy bear nightlight? So cool.
Another find for picky (or easily distractible) eaters… construction zone placemats. Talk about constructive eating! I would have loved this ticket stub booklet as a little girl and I’m sure most 8-12 year olds will think it’s awesome. A great way to corral train, plane and museum souvenirs in (ticket stubs are free!) and to track family vacations.
Liv is getting a new kitchen for Christmas, and these sugar cookie accessories are on the top of my wishlist! How cute is that little oven mitt and those build-it-yourself wooden desserts? (I can’t decide which of us would dig playing with these more…). Healthy fruit pops and wintery desserts are just an ice mold away. Love me some great toy storage, these felt bins are awesome.
This is probably a given , but we LOVE Olivia books in our house! And this little paperback travel pack is perfect for carrying around. This adorable owl find is even customizable (ps check out the cool whale by the same company).
I was never great about putting bows and headbands on Liv as a baby (and now I regret it because she refuses to put anything in her hair), but this company has developed a non-painful solution to the traditional clips and headbands (the imprint many left always made me wary).
This little book buggee is perfect for kids like Liv that tote armfuls of books from room to room. Especially those kids that love pull toys! And finally, last but not least, lincoln logs are reborn as simple Kubix plank wood blocks, these look like so much fun.
Happy shopping! Enjoy the rest of your gift list making this December and hopefully these inspire a few ideas for your favorite people this holiday season. I also have a trove of handmade ideas that I’m working on and I can’t wait to share them here as well.
Tags: Christmas, Gift Guide
Posted in Gift Guides, Holidays | 7 Comments »