Monday, December 16, 2013

Giving Gifts that Give Back!

It's the holiday season! My favorite time of the year! The time for GIVING (and there's still time to buy gifts). I love to double give. What do I mean by ddoouubbllee give? Well, I am glad you asked. I love to shop at charities for all my Christmas presents. So that not only am I getting people awesome presents, I am giving back too! 

Here are my TOP 3...

#1.  BeadforLife

I have mentioned this charity multiple times in previous posts because they are so awesome! You can find everything you need to know on their website, including a breakdown of the money you spend and where it goes! Brilliant! Anyways, to sum the non-profit organization up, women in Uganda are taught to make products in order to sustain a healthy living and give back to their communities. What started out as just basic jewelry made with paper beads (recycled) turned into an expansion of products (from shea butter products, to elaborate colorful jewelry, to ornaments, picture frames, etc.). All at affordable prices. You can even host a Bead Party!

Burgundy Suede Jacquard Women's Nepal Boots
TOMS (or Shoes for Tomorrow) is a pricier for-profit charity with giving being its main mission. It is well worth the cost. The concept behind Toms is called "One for One." It started out with every pair of shoes purchased, a pair would be given to a person in need. They've expanded to eyeglasses and even funding surgeries. They are constantly adding new projects, which you can read about on their website. My fiance got me their Nepal boots (pictured - better than UGGs - Am I right?) as an early Christmas present!!! They also carry Vegan products, eye wear, and apparel. P.S. There are always coupons available online for free shipping and other discounts!

 #3. Arbor Day Foundation
I am a huge treehugger, so of course this charity is on the list. Want an inexpensive gift for coworkers or just to add a little something extra to your holiday cards? Why not add the gift of a tree? The cards cost about the same as a regular card except that a tree will be planted in a National forest in the receiver's honor! They even have everyday cards for all year round! So visit this site and build your own forest!!!

Bonus: Country Rabbit Crafter on Etsy
6 oz Bunny Poo (Mango Papaya) Soy Candle
As an owner of 2 buns (that's rabbit speak for 2 rabbits), I approve this shop! If you buy the Bunny Poo Candle (It's really Mango-Papaya) then a portion of the profits go towards bunny rescue organizations in the US. This shop has been approved by the House Rabbit Society (adopt a bun today!!!)!

I hope you find this blog post helpful with your holiday shopping. Feel free to share your charities! Happy giving :)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Fudge Bites

Yummy Holiday Nom Noms!

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Shredded coconut
2 Candy canes, crushed
Holiday Sprinkles/Sugar Pearls (Sprinkles stick better)

1. In a saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips with the condensed milk. Stir until smooth.
2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. 
3. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours (don't leave in any longer than this, or rolling the chocolate will be extremely difficult).
4. With clean hands, roll into 1 inch balls. 
5. Roll chocolate in either coconut, crushed candy canes, or sprinkles to decorate. Can also leave some plain.
6. Chill for 1 hour to set.
7. Store in airtight container. Can freeze or share immediately. I think they make perfect accents to giving friends Holiday cookies!

Jewel Cookie recipe found here.
Pumpkin Cookie recipe found here.

Happy Baking and Happy Holidays!!!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Three Cheese White Pizza

Quick and Easy Vegetarian Pizza!!!

3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped  (can use 1-2 teaspoons minced garlic to save time)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1 prepared thin pizza crust (to save on time)

1. With the oven rack in its lowest position, preheat the oven to 450F. 

2. Mix ricotta Parmesan cheeses together in a small bowl. 

3. Saute garlic, broccoli, salt, rosemary, and red pepper together (until broccoli is tender). 

4. Cover pizza crust in mozzarella.

5. Spread broccoli on top of mozzarella.

6. Drop rounded spoonfuls of ricotta on top of broccoli. 

7. Bake for 10 minutes (or until cheese is melted)

8. Serves 8. 

Happy eating :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Happy Beaujolais Nouveau 2013!

Sorry, I am a couple of days late! Beaujolais Nouveau was November 21st this year, and I decided to share a bottle with friends after a day of wedding dress shopping! And YES I may have found my dress!!!

Anyways, Beaujolais Nouveau is an annual celebration that takes place on the third Thursday of November. You can break international law if you happen to try the wine early - just so you are aware - though I do not know what the repercussions are. Its purpose is to allow wine enthusiasts the opportunity to assess the quality of Europe's vintage.

The wine is made from the Gamay grape grown in the Beaujolais region of France. It is generally sweet because it isn't given much time to ferment and it is low in tannins. The Gamay grape usually provides a light-to-medium bodied wine with fruity cherry flavors. This year's harvest was later than usual due to France's rainy spring which could impact the taste of this year's Beaujolais.

I tried this year's Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages Nouveau. Visually, the wine was a pretty purple. The drips/legs suggest 12% alcohol content. On the nose I smell spiced plum and violets. On the palate, it was very balanced with a plum/berry flavor and a floral finish. 'Tis a good harvest!

Happy Drinking :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cute DIY Save-the-Dates from Recycled Wood!

Tree Slice Save-the-Date Magnet!
As soon as I said YES, I started using pinterest and stumbleupon to find wedding ideas. I prefer internet browsing since it involves less paper. I, also, really hate buying magazines to tear out maybe one useful article. Anyways, I came across this idea to make a tree slice magnet. At first I was like awesome, it goes with our Adirondack wedding, but then I was like bummer it is not very treehugger (more like treekiller). 

Yes a Ferngully reference!
Anyways, I tried to search for an alternative Save-the-Date, but I really liked the magnets. So, I researched for a tree-friendly alternative, and I found a friendly Ebay seller. He was selling various wood slices, and I was curious how he had so many, so I emailed him. Turns out he cleans up fallen trees after storms then cuts them up. Can you say RECYCLED!?! I also lucked out that I could just purchase them and not go through the whole bidding war.  Anyways, you probably want the instructions

1.5-2" wood slices (I got 100 for $15)
wood burning kit ($10 online)
pencil (super cheap!)
hot glue gun and glue (already had)
magnetic strip (already had, but I think I found it cheap on Amazon)

Step 1: Draw your design with pencil onto the wood slice (I had to go with M + S because S + M looked wrong!)

Step 2: Get fiance to wood burn the design for you (Not bad for a Lefty)

Step 3: Glue magnet to back (I also wrote with thin sharpie on the back "Made from Recycled Wood")

Step 4: Come up with pretty packaging design with the rest of the info

P.S. You don't have to do this just for save-the-dates! How cool would it be to burn a Victorian silhouette into one of these! Or any design really, be creative, and feel free to share!

Happy Crafting!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

DIY Boutonniere


I'm BACK! Sorry for the semi-long absence. Life has been extremely busy. Since, my last post: I 1) gave my sister's baby shower, 2) became aunt x2 (second niece), 3) left one job, and 4) started a new job as a FORENSIC SCIENTIST (finally!!). Plus I've been busy with all this wedding planning. At least I got some blog's topic...BOUTONNIERES (which I have to keep re-typing because the spelling is not staying in my long term memory). 

While I got my husband-to-be to work on our save-the-dates (such a good guy), I made 1 out of 9 boutonnieres for the wedding. Why so many you ask? Well, I need one for the handsome groom, 6 for his groomsmen, 1 for my tomboy bridesmaid (she wants to wear a suit), and 1 for my bridesman. Since, I don't want to be overwhelmed I am going to make a few at a time instead of one large batch. I now have 349 days until my last name becomes Hickey (boo lol). 

So to keep with the Tree Hugger theme I've decided to make the boutonnieres with recycled paper. To go one step beyond, I am using fair trade recycled paper along with beads from the organization, Bead for Life. If you want to know more about Bead for Life you can visit their website by clicking on the the previous link. The purpose of using the beads is to match the bridesmaid jewelry that I gave them. You can check it out in this post

I opted to make paper boutonnieres not only to help out these organizations, but so that people from our wedding party will have cute keepsakes as well. I however am not creative enough to come up with a flower template so I used the instructions on this website and just eyeballed it. I made the flowers a lot smaller than this happy crafter. Then, I added my own flair to them. 

To start you will need:
1. Fair Trade Recycled Paper (okay you can use any paper, but please recycle!)
2. Hot glue gun and some glue
3. Scissors
4. Stem Wire
5. Stem Tape
6. Bead for Life beads (or any beads you want)
7. Bead Wire
8. Hemp
9. Pearl head pins (when the time comes)

Once you've gathered your supplies you can start assembling your boutonniere, YAY!!!

I started by following the directions on the aforementioned website. I cut the petals, curled the edges, and started gluing them to the stem wire (smallest to largest). For added flair, I found some some fabric leaves to attach. Next, I wrapped the stem wire and leaf's wire with stem tape and secured with more glue. I strung 4 different colored beads on the bead wire and wrapped it around the flower. I finished the look with a hemp bow.  



Happy Crafting and Wedding Planning :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tea Themed Cupcake Baby Shower Favors

It's the final countdown until my sister's baby shower! Less than one week away, and I am scrambling to finish the favors. I had special ordered one part of them, and it took over a month to get here! After assembling the first one, I just had to take pictures and share them with you guys. They turned out adorable!

What you need:
1. silicone teacup bake& serve cupcake (they came in packs of 4)
2. recipe to make one cupcake
3. "It's a girl/boy" Hershey kisses
4. personalized "a baby is brewing" teabags
5. ribbon
6. some sort of wrapping to hold it together

First, I assembled the teabags and put them to the side.

Next, I separated the "teacups" from their sets of four. 

Next, I put the teabags in the "teacup" and filled the rest of the cup with the Hershey kisses.

Then, I wrapped the "teacup" in this sparkly mesh I found (at A.C. Moore), and tied it off with a pink ribbon.

I finally tied on a recipe for one cupcake. I edited  the recipe card with Microsoft paint.

And voila! Adorable :) Perfect for a "Tea/Cupcake" themed Baby Shower.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Baby is Brewing: Tea Bag Covers

I am in the process of making favors for my sister's baby shower. Since her baby shower is going to involve a tea party I decided to decorate some tea bags. Note: these aren't the only favors (I have a bigger idea, I am just waiting on my special online order to arrive, then I will share my idea).

Scrapbook paper
Paper cutter (quicker and straighter than scissors)
Stapler (staples)
Printer paper
double sided tape

1. Measure 90mm x 150mm rectangle from scrap book paper

2. Fold the sides so that a tea bag can fit (see below)

I am using lipton tea because it helps the rain forest!

3. Fold the paper hamburger style (yes back to elementary terminology)

4. Fold the corners

5. Fold the top down slightly 

6. Staple it together (and call it bad weather...sorry Jack Johnson just popped in my head)

7. Staple some leftover paper to cover the lipton tea tag (now it matches the bag cover)

So cute, but not done yet

8. Now make it personal by adding a note, "A Baby is Brewing...insert baby's name"

9. Add to favor bag ...
Maybe buy cheap tea cups, fill with candy and add on top as a favor.
Get personalized travel mugs, fill with candy, and adhere to cup
You can see my idea in a future blog :)
Happy Crafting :)

Diaper Cakes


Baby Shower #1: Jungle Themed
So, my sister and her husband are in the baby making business. This means that there is another baby shower to be had. I threw together a diaper cake for her first one (pic above), and everyone wanted to know how I made it. So, since I had to make another one I decided to take a few pics and blog about it.

Paper towel tube
Piece of cardboard
Hot Glue Gun (glue sticks)
Ribbon and bows
Rubber bands
A whole lotta diapers (this cake used 96)
Whatever else you want to decorate it with (this is a simple diaper cake...I may add more to it later)

 1. Roll up diapers into cylinders and use a rubber band to hold them together. It is important to keep the rubber bands in the middle of the diapers for the entire cake making process. It will make it easier to hide them later.

2. Hot glue the paper towel tube to the cardboard piece (my rabbit go a hold of the paper towel tube, but that's okay, I can still use it).

3. Place a rubber band around the tube and stick some rolled diapers between the rubber band and tube.

4. Use rubber bands to create a matrix by wrapping around already secured diapers and adding more diapers.

5. Keep building the matrix until the bottom layer is as big as you want.

6. Add the second layer by placing a rubber band around the paper towel tube and then placing diapers between the band and tube.

7. Continue to build the matrix until the second layer has a slightly smaller diameter than the bottom layer.

8. Add the third layer the same way as the second. Again making the diameter slightly smaller than the layer before. It's starting to look like a tiered cake. Yay!

9. Now, add one rolled diaper in the top center. It will sit directly on the paper towel tube, and it will create another tier.

10. If you have any left over diapers just shove them in any of the tiers between diapers and rubber bands and squish them in there to keep the circular shape.

 11. Tie decorative ribbon around the middle of each tier to hide the rubber bands.

12. Add a bow to the top of the cake.

13. Add any other decorations you feel fit. Maybe the baby shower is also jungle themed or duck themed or tea party themed. Get creative. Or you can add some pacifiers and rattles. Or just leave it plain and simple like this one (pic below).

Total cost to make: $30 ($25 for diapers alone). Definitely cheaper than ordering one already made. Also, to save on diapers go to there are always diaper coupons.

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Quick Penne Rosa Recipe

After a long day at work, followed by my chiropractor/physical therapy, I stopped at Trader Joes. I wanted to buy fresh vegetables and make something new for dinner. I like the penne rosa at Noodles & Company so I decided to make my own recipe. Bear with me as I was trying to come up with a recipe to serve 2 and have leftovers for lunch the next day (slight adjustments to the amount of pasta and vegetables will give you plenty for a dinner party). This is a very basic meal and has room for improvement.

Noodles & Company

Note to self: Get a better camera. 

Anyways, here are the instructions...

whole wheat penne
extra virgin olive oil
crushed red pepper
freshly chopped basil leaves
alfredo sauce
tomato sauce
freshly diced tomatoes
sliced white mushrooms 
baby spinach
crumbled feta cheese

1. Cook penne pasta according to directions. I added salt to the water prior to boiling to add flavor and make it boil faster (science fact! Salt lowers the boiling point and thus the water will come to a boil faster). I also added some olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking. Prepare the rest while the water is boiling and everything should be done when the pasta is ready (I am all about efficiency). 

2. In a sauce pan, combine 2 parts alfredo sauce with 1 part tomato sauce (yay it's all pink and pretty)! Add chopped basil leaves and some crushed red pepper for flavor. Want more flavor? Add some ground pepper, minced onion, and some garlic powder (or just add Italian seasoning). Set heat to low and stir frequently.

my bunny loves when I have fresh basil, om nom nom

3. In a frying pan, saute the mushrooms in olive oil. Then add the spinach and let it cook down. Finally add the tomatoes and heat through. The amount varies based on how many you are cooking for. I used half a bag of spinach, 4 mushrooms, and 1 tomato. This was enough for 4 small servings. 

4. Once, the pasta is drained, scoop into a dish. Add a couple spoonfuls of the vegetables. Drizzle on the sauce, and sprinkle some crumbled feta on top. Take a terrible looking photograph (or maybe a better one than I did) and Voila! Dinner is served.

Happy eating :)