December 22, 2013

gingerbread men

I've been baking batches and batches of holiday cookies. Most recently I've been making gingerbread men and women and other fun holiday shapes. These were so fun to make and decorate with icing. 
I used the same gingerbread recipe I used for these Halloween skeleton gingerbread cookies.

 I had lots of help from my little elf. He loved rolling out the dough, using the cookie cutters and decorating the cookies with icing. He especially loved the dipping of the gingerbread men in milk and eating them until falling asleep in a gingerbread oblivion.
Any special holiday cookies you make? Enjoy!

December 19, 2013

gift guide for brothers and boyfriends

Christmas is less than a week away and if you are looking for last minute gift ideas for your brother, male friend, or boyfriend I put together a few ideas that might help. Similar to my sisters and friend guide I posted last week I buy similar items for the men in my life:

1. Gift cards or subscriptions
  •  For the Music Lover: Spotify subscription and iTunes gift cards
  •  For the Gamer: Game Stop gift cards or a subscription to Steam. Steam delivers a range of games straight to a computer.
  •  For the Man Who Has It All: Birch Box Subscription. These are great because they will receive a box of goodies for men (think shaving scream, lotions, tech accessories) every month. Subscriptions are available for 6 months and 12 months. Start them off with 6 and see if they like them. Who doesn't love receiving a package in the mail.

2. Technology
  •  For the Music Lover: Marshall headphones
  •  For the Gamer: The newest gaming systems are Nintendo Wii U and Playstation 4
  •  For the Movie Watcher: Google Chromecast. This allows for you to easily stream movies and music from your computer or mobile device (iPhone) to your TV. Perfect for those who love watching YouTube videos and want to see it on a bigger screen.

3. Food and Drinks. Every man I know loves food, well everyone I know does. They might like spicy food, sweets, cheeses, meats. A great gift could be a subscription or a basket of their favorite kind of goodies.
  •  Ham: Honey Baked Hams. Honey Baked Hams are known for their classic spiral hams, but they also have a monthly gift club. You can buy a three-month gift and have a ham sent in December, a Turkey in January, and Cheesecake in February. Something really different, but useful.
  • Sausage and Cheeses: Hickory Farms
  • Around the World Beer Sampler Basket: Gourmet Gift Baskets. This is the perfect gift basket for a beer lover. The beers come from different parts of the world, you can send it to yourself to hand to him on Christmas day or have it sent to him directly.

4. What they need. Some men don't know what they need, but we do, they might need new socks, undershirts, a hat and gloves for the winter, slippers because their always end up looking like they were ran over by a truck.

5. Something fun. I think it's important to give a fun, spontaneous gift that they aren't expecting. Tech gadgets are always fun, accessories like men bracelets, or even some shows in their nearby city.
  • Ray-Ban Sunglasses. These are awesome because they come in the classic style and they are foldable.
  • Men Bracelets from Black Feather
  • Dvds of the entire season or two of their favorite show
  • Video games
  • Movie tickets
  • Concert or Comedy tickets

December 14, 2013

diy gift wrap

This year I did not want to buy gift wrap and trust me it was so hard not to because there are so many beautiful gift wrap choices everywhere. Every year I like to choose a theme. One year was black and white, another year white wrapping and red bows. Many people choose their wrapping as a reflection of themselves. This year I wanted to be more eco–conscious. I usually re-use ribbons I received from presents, but this year I wanted to make eco-friendly wrapping paper.

Every year we throw 4 million tons of wrapping paper and shopping bags away in the trash. During the holidays there is a 25% increase of waste produced. That's 5 million extra tons.  If every family wrapped just three presents in re-used materials we would be able to save an equivalent of 45,000 football fields. Additionally, the cost of wrapping paper reaches 2.6 billion worldwide. I think we can all do better.

I gathered the tissue paper from packaging materials from all the online shopping I have done recently and in the past and I collect them all year and put them in a huge bag. I also collect it from family and friends.

Amazon for example piles long thick brown paper (like 10 feet) in their boxes. Though very wrinkly I laid them on the floor and flattened them out as much as I could.

Next, I grabbed a cork from an empty wine bottle dipped it in acrylic paint and made dots all over the paper.

I made a few sheets with white dots, green dots, red dots and gold dots. I love that these are eco-friendly and handmade by me. That makes this gift wrap very special this year. I hope this gives you a few ideas for this holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

December 11, 2013

gift guide for sisters & friends

Beanies | Sweater | Watch | Nail Polish | Rings | Boots | Book  | Eyeshadow

I can't believe Christmas is only about 2 weeks away. I am so glad I started decorating at the end of October, so I could spend as much time in the holiday spirit. 

I put together a small grouping of gifts recommendations for girls and women in your life, like friends and sisters. Isn't the gold glitter watch from Kate Spade so cute? The new Urban Decay Naked eye shadow was just released, but number 2 is my favorite, but this would make a great gift for someone who loves makeup.

Before shopping I make a list of everyone I am buying gifts for. I write a few things down for each person. I usually buy 4 different categories of gifts:

- Gift cards to favorite stores, favorite restaurants, grocery stores, and monthly subscriptions. There are so many new subscriptions available like: music (spotify is great), and even subscriptions to monthly make-up boxes from places like From The Lab and Ipsy. Ipsy is cool for women who love to follow YouTube make-up artists, because they are the ones who help decide what's in the boxes and they make videos showing how to use it.

- Books and more books. I think it's important to read and there are so many inspiring books that we can all learn from. I give books that I have read or have read great reviews on and hand pick books for people on my list. I can't wait to read Billy Crystal's new book. He makes me laugh so much.

- Fun. I also like to pick up something fun that makes me think of them and/or I think they will love, like make-up, an album, jewelry.

- Need. Something they really wanted or really need. I make notes to hear what people need and want and make sure to get them that because doesn't everyone want to get that special gift they really wanted and left hints about all year, but didn't want to buy it themselves.

I hope this helps! Happy holidays!

December 9, 2013

on my desk - unbreakable by jenni rivera

My mom sent me this book to read about the late Jenni Rivera a few months ago. If you don't know, Jenni was popular Mexican American singer from California and who unfortunately past away in a tragic plane crash last year. She was working on this book before she past away. It's sad to read it knowing that the very last pages were written just days before her death.

Coincidentally, I write this on the anniversary of her death. In the book we read personal journal entries where she describes her upbringing, her large family, her journey on becoming the well-known singer she became, thanks in part to her father, an actress, fashion designer and the many other hats she wore in life. She accomplished so much in such little time. She went through quite a bit of devastation and heartache, but was a tough and inspirational woman and nothing stopped her from becoming successful. It's an easy read and I finished it in about 2-3 days. You can find it online or at your local bookstore in the biography section.

December 5, 2013

hershey kiss peanut butter blossoms

One of my favorite cookies to make for the holidays are peanut butter blossoms. They are quick and easy to make. This weekend I made a few batches to give.
1/2 cup of butter (softened), 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar , 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1 large egg (egg white), 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, Hershey kisses, 1/4 cup granulated sugar to roll cookies in.

I followed Kerry from Baker's Girl recipe. You can find it here.

These are so delicious with a glass of milk or cup of hot chocolate. I bake them all the time during the holidays to have them around to eat as a sweet treat while wrapping gifts and listening to Christmas music. They also make great gifts to give. I put them in clear boxes and tied a bright red bow and everyone always loves them.


December 1, 2013

freebies - printable holiday gift tags roundup
These stunning birds are beautiful gift tags made by artist Rebecca Kallem. 
Click here to download them. I almost fell over when I saw these.

These beautiful watercolor gift tags are from Oana Befort. Click here to visit her page to
download her gift tags.

These adorable gift tags are from Kelli Murray. You can visit her page here to download the gift tags.

These vintage inspired gift tags are from My Girl Thursday. Visit her page here to download and print.
Click here to print these and more cute gift tags from Bora Illustrates
These cute tags are from Sea Urchin Studio
Pauline (aka Muffin) from Sweet Muffin made these with calligraphy.
Click here to download them from her blog.
Tags from Love vs. Design

I am already gift wrapping gifts and need tags. Every year I usually make my own So many beautiful tags and I only shared a few from such wonderful, creative and generous women from all over the web.


November 20, 2013

christmas decorating

I pulled out all my Christmas decorations and started working on the tree right after Halloween a few weeks ago. I still have quite of bit to work, but having the tree up, some decorations out, and playing Christmas music around the house is getting me in the spirit of the holidays. 
One of my favorite gifts and decorations is my tree skirt. My mom gave it to me so I cherish it and it has my favorite birds embroidered on it, cardinals and chickadees. I also have these birds and others all sitting on my Christmas tree.

I hope your getting into the spirit of the holidays. A few people have told tell me that they just aren't feeling the spirit of the holidays, and my advice to them is the spirit of the holidays aren't going to just come out of nowhere, you need to make that spirit come to life. Maybe it's listening to music, making holiday cookies, decorating even if you aren't in the mood to. When you do those things you are awakening the spirit of the holidays in you and around you.