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Monday, December 5, 2016

You know I love easy, clever gifts with a pun.  I also love gifting things that can get used.  A kitchen tool is a great gift for someone who enjoys cooking.  This little idea is perfect for a hostess gift for the holiday season or for a teacher's gift as well.

(Affilate links are included in this post). Print out this tag and tie onto a grater of your choice.  I used this one.

You can make this gift as big or small as you'd like by adding things to go with a grater.  
I added a sprig of cedar branches and some cinnamon to keep it festive.

This tiny, tiny grater is super cute as well.

You could add lemons with a zester/grater or add a packet of cocoa to go with cinnamon stick.

You could give a big hunk of fancy cheese with a cheeseboard or cutting board with a box grater.

And did you know there are hundreds of different styles of graters to choose from?

Just take a look at these beautiful ones I found on Amazon.
(These are affiliate links to help you locate products.)

Looking for some more easy gifts?  Click here.

Check out my Chocolate Lovers Gift Guide
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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Got chocolate? 

Do you have a chocolate lover on your Christmas list this year? Need some fun chocolate ideas?  I've gathered up my favorite chocolate gifts on the web that any chocolate lover would approve of.  From classy and traditional to unique and fun.  It's the perfect Chocolate Lovers Gift Guide. Check it may even find a gift for you! 
(This post contains affiliate links to help you locate products.)

1.  The European classic:
merci Chocolates

Not only are these delicious chocolates, but they come in a sleek flat box perfect for secret gift giving.  Whether you're discreetly leaving a hostess gift at someone's home, or dropping a package into someone's bag when they're not looking.  (Am I the only one who does this?)  You can also click here and personalize a holiday label to print out and place on top of the package...or use the chocolate tag that I created at the end of this post.  Order a few merci boxes to have on hand for that unexpected visitor that drops by.

2.  A Pacific Northwest Favorite:
Frango Mints

These silky smooth mint chocolates are like none other.  Since 1918 these chocolates have been made in Seattle and are truly a Christmas treat.  My mother-in-law makes a frozen dessert that almost matches the taste of these chocolates.  Mmmm!  I may need to get my hands on the recipe to share with you?!  Place a bow on top of this hexagon box and hand deliver.  It makes quite the statement, doesn't it?

3. My favorite chocolate treat:
Dark chocolate covered almonds

Yep, I graduated from Peanut M&M's long ago.  I now adore these almonds covered in dark chocolate.  And don't you feel you're making a better choice when you feed your chocolate addiction with an almond or two?  No?  Buy these elegant almonds in bulk and package up in cellophane bags with a chocolate brown ribbon.  Add my Christmas Chocolate tag or a 'Nuts About You' printable tag to this gift.

4.  For the Ultimate Chocolate Baker
Belgian Dark Chocolate Baking Block

So, this might be the gift of the lifetime?!  It was for me!  When this large block of chocolate showed up on my porch, my family was in heaven!  From it came some amazing goodies including chocolate fondue, chocolate chip dipped cookies and Christmas dipped marshmallows.  This block of chocolate is what chocolate lovers dream about!  Seriously!  It would be the ultimate gift with this cookbook as well.

5.  To survive winter:
Starbucks Hot Cocoa Double Chocolate

Well, this one doesn't even need an explanation!  We've all had those tasteless, watery hot chocolate packets that make you cringe, but this cocoa is pure goodness.  The delicious double chocolate taste is perfect after a cold afternoon of outside sledding.  Now-- if we could just get some snow this winter!  These canisters make perfect neighbor gifts, too.  Wrap up a color-coordinated scarf around it and hand deliver.

6. Something for my Christmas Wish List:
Chocolate Pen Draw & Mold
Take a look at this fun toy!  Fill pen with melted chocolate and doodle away.  Perfect for spelling names on cookies and treats. 
Where was this tool when I needed it?  A perfect gift for kids, too. Include a package of plain sugar cookies and a bag of chocolate for melting to make a complete gift ready to give.  

7.  For the Chocolate Learner:
Chocolate Smarts Board Game

This one is for the chocolate lover who has everything.  A board game that teaches you chocolate knowledge as you play!  Who wouldn't want to sound more knowledgeable when talking about chocolate?  My chocolate vocabulary needs some work...'light, white, milk and dark' doesn't sound very sophisticated, does it?

8.  For the kid in all of us:
Chocolate Bar Maker

Move over Easy Bake Oven...look at this!  A kit to make your own chocolate bars.  Melt chocolate and pour into the molds.  Add sweets and sprinkles and let harden.  Wrap them up to give to friends or eat them yourself.  What a fun gift for kids and teens, just include lots of fun sprinkles to this gift.

9. For old-fashioned chocolate fun:
Hershey's T-Shirt

What a cute, classy gift this would make tied up with a few Hershey bars to go with it and this Hershey's Kiss Lip Gloss.  You could make an entire chocolate gift basket adding in lots of dark chocolate colored gifts.

10.  For chocolate viewing:
Chocolat Movie or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


For adults or for kids, both of these are perfect movies for chocolate lovers.  Remember, when you gift a chocolate movie, be sure to include some chocolate to eat!

And of course you'll need a Chocolate tag to attach to these items.

Click here to print your own chocolate tags.

 What would you add to this list?

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

It's just a little nutty around here!
My niece recently found out that she was no longer allergic to nuts!  (I've never heard of allergies that go away, have you?)
As a family who loves nuts and cooks with nuts, this was VERY, VERY exciting!
To celebrate her 11th birthday she chose to go out to eat at a restaurant that throws peanut shells on the floor!  
Don't you love that?  You know I totally get into themes and this one required a clever, little nut gift.  You know, all those yummy nut treats that she's never had before.  

I whipped up some 'nut tags' to attach to the box.
This gift theme would work perfect for college students, too.

And then, AH (Awesome Husband) and apparently Awesome Uncle wrote my niece this little note on the back of the tag.

Dear Alex,
     I'm so excited to 'pecan' your life and see what a great person you are becoming.  Makes me want to bounce off
the 'wal(nut)' and 'almond-st' shout for joy!  Hope you have an awesome birthday.  We'll 'cashew' at the next one.
Love your Nutty Uncle

Click here to print your own NUT tags.

Here's some more NUT ideas for you.
Nutty Thanks to You.

A Nutty Teacher's Appreciation

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Hope it's not too nutty!

Linking up to: TheCraftyCorner, 

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

When you think of an African safari, you automatically think meatballs, right?!?  Who would ever put safari and meatballs together?  I mean, do they even eat meatballs in Africa?

Did you see our African Safari Party?  Click here if you missed it.
I served meatballs because I knew we would have a bunch of men and teenagers at the party.  I just happen to know that men and teenagers LOVE meatballs.  To make the meatballs go with the party theme, I threw in pineapple.  You know, tropical fruit...African safari.  Alright, maybe a stretch?

Well, those Pineapple Meatballs were the hit of the party... besides the fun safari decor, right?  Those teenagers kept going back and back and back again to get their fill.  The adults kept asking for the recipe, so here it is.  It's so simple that I'm a bit embarrassed to have a whole blog post about them.

In a crockpot stir together:
-1 16oz. can of pineapple chunks or tidbits with liquid
-1 24oz. bottle of ketchup
-1 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup real maple syrup (make sure it's REAL maple syrup)
-1/4 cup soy sauce
Add in 2 (20oz) bags of Trader Joe's Party Size Mini Meatballs.  Cook on low for at least 3 hours.

These Trader Joe's meatballs in the party size are the best!
Of course you could make your own meatballs, but then this recipe could no longer be called quick and easy, now would it?

To download a printable version of the recipe-- Click here.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Our family is going to Africa!
We're traveling to Arusha, Tanzania to visit our friends who are working with World Vision.  We'll be with a World Vision team of 12 other people (adults and teens) for 10 days. We're so excited!

Our team wanted to have a little gathering to talk about our trip.
This 'gathering' was to take place at our home, so of course that meant I needed a party theme...

Not only will we be seeing many World Vision projects in Tanzania, but we're going on an African safari together as well.
Which gave me the perfect theme...

It's a Safari Party!

I transformed our kitchen table into a safari themed appetizer and dessert party...and it only took a few decor items.  Most of these were found around my house.
(This post contains affiliate links to help you locate products.)

-old globe (found at a garage sale)
-raffia (from a dress up Hawaiian costume)
-bamboo trays (found at Goodwill)
-dark wooden tiers and iron food stands (I have a collection of these picked up from various places.)
-woven paper storage basket
-zebra wrapping paper
-animal print scrapbook paper
-fake banana leaves (found at Joann's Fabrics and Crafts)
-giraffe print ceramic travel mug
 (Can't find the exact mug online, but this one is close.)

I cut a wide strip of the zebra wrapping paper to make a runner down the center of my table.  (Wrapping paper is my favorite way to make table runners...super easy.)
As a centerpiece, I laid out the raffia skirt and turned the woven basket upside down to bring some height to the globe and vase. The banana leaves were placed in a dark vase behind the globe with a few dark sticks that I already had.

The little chalkboard easel was found at Michaels, but this is a close match.
It was a perfect way to display how many days left until we leave!


My giraffe printed mug worked well for holding forks.  The wild animal napkins brought in more of the giraffe pattern and added the leopard/cheetah pattern to the party.

On the globe, I placed a star on the country of Tanzania.  It seems so far away, I can hardly believe we're going there!

The food was placed around the table for guests to easily help themselves.  And yes, the food went with our know me well.

Simple animal crackers were placed in cheetah printed cupcake liners.  I placed a sheet of scrapbook paper underneath and added a chalkboard label.

Tropical fruit is a must at any Safari party.  I chopped up cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon into tiny squares.  These were displayed in glass parfait cups 
(no longer available at Pier 1), that I use all the time.
Mini forks were stuck in each one and I wrote Melon Cups on the chalkboard label.

One of the biggest hits at this party was the Pineapple Meatballs. (Click here for the recipe.)  Everyone loved the pineapple tangy sauce these meatballs were drenched in.  Bonus: they're so easy to make!

I served a few other treats, you might have seen in the pictures...tropical picks (mango, pineapple and sausage on a pick) and also coconut macaroon cookies.  I then tried my hand at a zebra cake--another big hit of the party!

This was a square, double layer, white and chocolate cake.
White buttercream frosting with black marshmallow fondant for the zebra stripes finished it off.

I tried to make the inside look like a zebra, but it didn't quite turn out the way I had hoped.  The guests didn't mind a bit!  The idea came from here.
Also served was Tanzanian coffee.

And that was our little Safari Party!

Now, the hard part...what to pack?!

 Want to see more of my themed parties? Click here.

Linking up to:  CraftyCornerLinkParty
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