Tag Archives: gift

Mama’s Famous Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread2 So my mom’s famous chocolate chip banana bread is actually from a recipe! She does make a few tweaks to the recipe (like the addition of chocolate chips!!!) and she uses honey instead of brown sugar for a moist bread. I gotta give the woman some credit. She also has a secret trick–after she butters the loaf pan, she dusts a little sugar on pan so when baked, the outside of the bread has a sugary crunch. So good.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread This bread takes me back. Way back. I’ve been eating this bread since I was a wee thing. Home to me smells like freshly baked banana bread. Unfortunately, I don’t eat it now because of the wheat, but I love giving it as a gift. A small loaf of bread is such a good gift, don’t you agree?¬†This is also a great recipe to use up those too brown bananas. It’s super versatile, ya’ll.

This recipe makes two small loafs or one large loaf.

Banana bread recipe Notes: Try honey instead of brown sugar, add 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of nuts and make sure to dust that pan with sugar! We don’t want to be too healthy ūüôā

Do you have recipes that remind you of home? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

love,
melanie

 

 

Last Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts

I, just like every human on earth, am guilty of waiting until the last minute to do things. There’s ¬†something about that last minute pressure that really puts the heat on. This year I actually purchased George‘s Valentine’s Day present early and had it shipped to the house. And¬†he opened it before I got home! It was an honest mistake, but I was so mad! I can’t ever surprise that dude. Anyway, now I’m rushing to make something small to give him so he actually has something to open tomorrow.

Here’s a couple ideas for those last minute Valentine’s Day gifts:

rp_Nuts-about-you-1024x616.jpg This Valentine’s Day printable is super-cute. You don’t even have to make the nuts recipe if you don’t have time. You can just attach it to a bag of nuts! Click here for the printable.

how to make vanilla extract If you’ve got a honey that loves to cook, homemade vanilla extract would be a great gift. Maybe they’ll get the hint to make you those cookies you’ve been wanting. Click here for the how to.

infused liquors Infused liquors are so easy to make and instantly elevate a drink. I’d let the liquor infuse for a few days, but it’s a gift that you both could enjoy this weekend. Click here for the tutorial.

gifts for male teachersIf your darling isn’t a drinker, then a personalized mug filled with coffee or chocolates would make a cute gift. Just make sure you don’t put it in the dishwasher! Click here for the details.

Here’s to homemade Valentine’s gifts! And waiting until the last minute!

love,
melanie

 

Frugal Fridays: Use brown lunch bags to wrap gifts

Drumroll please! I’m starting a new feature on the blog. On Fridays I’m going to post one frugal tip!

I would usually take Friday off from the blog, but one of my New Year’s resolutions goals¬†is to hang out more with ya’ll! But don’t worry. On Fridays we’re going to take it easy. Doling out those tips out — easy and cheap. Just how Fridays should be.

Up first is one of my favorite DIYs from my wedding and a project that I used again over the holidays to wrap gifts: Use brown lunch bags to wrap gifts. 

The bags look rustic and you can even print stuff on ’em with your home printer! Check out that post for a how-to.

How did you creatively and frugally wrap your presents this year?

let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

Handmade Holiday Challenge: Look-alike American Apparel Circle Scarf

Handmade Circle Scarf This is the last of my Handmade Holiday Challenge items. I made one more scarf, but I knitted it and it turned out a bit wonky. Don’t craft and drink wine, ya’ll. It wasn’t really “blog worthy.”

But I am proud of this circle scarf I made for my sister. At Thanksgiving, she said something about wanting a circle scarf from American Apparel like the one I have. The scarf is super basic and I knew that I could make it for cheaper than the $28.00 American Apparel version.

I purchased two yards of jersey knit fabric at Hobby Lobby. The best thing about working with jersey knit is that you don’t have to finish the ends. The fabric just sort of rolls at the ends. The worst thing with working with jersey knit is trying to sew the ends together. I suggest using a zig-zag stitch (if you don’t have a serger) and testing on your fabric first. I had to take out my stitches more than one because the fabric puckered. Here’s more tips on sewing on jersey knit.¬†I used those when creating my scarf.

For this project I only had to sew the short ends of the fabric together (thank god) to create this scarf. I actually think I like this one more than my American Apparel scarf. I’ll be making one for myself soon.

How did your presents turn out this year? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

An Easy Way To Wrap a Gift: Use Hot Glue!

wrap a present with hot glue I’m embarrassed to admit that I still have pumpkins sitting outside of the ol’ Airstream. With everything that has been going on, our home looks downright Scroogy this year. But the one thing that has been putting me in the Christmas spirit is putting on some holiday music and wrapping gifts. I think wrapping is almost as important as the gift itself. I hate putting a ton of effort into buying a meaningful gift and then throwing it into the cheapest bag I can find. No, I believe in wrapping.

I love wrapping gifts in brown paper because you can use it for every occasion. I got this paper and the bow at the Dollar Store. I did all my wrapping for $2.00. I’m also digging the contrast of the rustic brown paper and the glitter bow.

wrap with hot glue close up And can we talk about my new tip! I wrapped all my presents this year with hot glue. I hate the way tape musses up a perfectly wrapped gift. If you want to replicate this technique, just make sure you either use a box (not the gift’s box) or fold the paper over so you don’t glue on the gift. (See the example above.)

What is your best gift wrapping tip? Leave ’em in the comments!

love,
melanie

Handmade Holiday Challenge: Customized Ukulele

customized ukulele Some of my favorite childhood memories involve some sort of musical accompaniment. My sister, my best friend and I used to make up all kinds of songs. I distinctly remember a song about dirty clothes sang to the tune of Baby Love by The Supremes.

Back of the customized ukulele For Christmas I want to give the joy of music to my niece. But in my true fashion, I couldn’t just give her a plain ol’ ukulele. I had to customize it.

First I bought this relatively inexpensive ukulele from Amazon. Originally I had planned to cut out vinyl decals to add to the body of the ukulele. But George, my super talented husband, really liked the idea of customizing the ukulele and volunteered to hand letter it. He used a white paint markers for the base, then created texture with a black paint marker.

customized ukulele detail It’s kind of adorable. Maybe my niece will be the next Dolly Parton. I’m at least going to win best aunt award this year.

How are your handmade gifts coming along?

love,
melanie

Handmade Holiday Challenge: Vanilla Extract

how to vanilla extract First up on my handmade holiday challenge we have (drumroll please!) vanilla extract! I know, it’s not super exciting, but it is actually a thoughtful gift for my mom. My mom is an excellent baker and cook. She has intuition in the kitchen like no one I’ve ever met. She could take some peanut butter and beef jerky and turn it into a four course meal.

The last time I was at home we popped into “William and Sonomas” (as she calls it) and I caught her buying a 12 dollar bottle of vanilla extract. I was worried that some baking kingpin was making her run all of his errands. A 12 dollar bottle of vanilla? That’s extortion.

vanilla extract Anyway, for Christmas I thought I’d make real vanilla extract for her gift. It’s amazingly easy and way cheaper than the William and Sonomas version.

Wash and thoroughly dry bottles with a tight fitting cap. I got these from Michael’s for $1.16 a piece! Split your vanilla beans with a knife and put them in the bottle. Pour bourbon, rum or vodka into the bottle. Swig a little of each. I chose vodka (left) and bourbon (right) for my extract. The vodka version shouldn’t have much extra flavor, but the bourbon will add a bit of smokiness to your baking. Rest in a cool, dark place for 1 month. Enjoy or gift!

Are you getting to work on your holiday gifts? Join my challenge and let me know about in the comments!

love,
melanie