Category Archives: Seasonal Madness

Caramel Apples ~ Tis the Season

This time year apples are everywhere and they come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and flavors. Visit  your local grocer, farm or market for the freshest apples you will find all year.

Although they are great to bite into all by themselves they present so many options for preparation and devouring.  Pies, cakes, sauces, butters, breads, caramelized and candied.  Those last two mentioned are such an incredible treat for children and grown ups alike.


Caramel apples can be as easy as a trip to your grocery, pick the apples and purchase a small kit which typically includes the sticks, caramel and instructions.  I am including in this post two recipes for making your own.

One very quick and easy way to prepare them is to use the individually wrapped caramels you usually find in the sweets isle.  This time of year your grocer may have them conveniently placed near the apples in produce.

The one item I would change is keep it fun and in the season.  Go outside and find your own sticks instead of the craft or lollipop sticks.  They need to be small yet sturdy enough to hold your apple up so you don’t drop your sugary goodness on the ground.


  • 6 apples
  • 1 (14 ounce) package individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
  • 2 tablespoons milk


  1. Remove the stem from each apple and press a craft stick into the top. Butter a baking sheet.
  2. Place caramels and milk in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave 2 minutes, stirring once. Allow to cool briefly.
  3. Roll each apple quickly in caramel sauce until well coated. Place on prepared sheet to set.
With this next one, you need to get a little bit more involved but the flavor is just out of this world.
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 Granny Smith or Red Delicious apples
  • 1 cup toasted pecans (optional), coarsely chopped


  1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and coat it with cooking spray.  In a medium saucepan, bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil over high.  Reduce to medium-high and simmer, undisturbed, until caramel is golden brown, 8 minutes.   Remove from heat and carefully stir in cream (mixture will sputter, be very careful and keep little ones away). Transfer to a small bowl and let cool 5 minutes.
  2. With a paring knife, make a small slit in top of each apple. Insert an ice-pop stick, lollipop stick or branch,  1 inch deep into each slit. Dip apples into caramel, swirling to coat.  If you are using nuts or other sprinkling type goodies, now is the time to add them and transfer to your waxed paper coated baking sheet.

FamilyFun Magazine’s Spooktacular Halloween Ideas

The Halloween bash for young ghoulies and goblins should be light and bright, fun and festive. Little chefs will love getting their hands dirty and be a part of the creative process of making their own party foods.

FamilyFun Magazine shared a few of their tastiest Halloween treats with us. For larger photos of their Spooktacular food and recipes, see the slideshow below.

Apple Lollipops!

Made with a melon baller, these tiny treats capture all the fun, flavor, and spirit of the season. Plus, they’re the perfect size for little hands.

What To Do

apple-lollipopsLine a couple of plates with parchment paper (you’ll need these for chilling the pops), then peel several Granny Smith apples. Use a melon baller to scoop out mini apple “balls.” Pat them with a paper towel, getting them as dry as possible. Insert a lollipop stick and get ready to dip! (Be sure to pat dry again before you dunk.) Our top flavor combos:

  1. Turtles

Dip apples in melted chocolate. Place on the parchment paper–lined plate and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes until set. Melt chewy caramel candies (we used Kraft’s) according to package directions, adding water to thin as necessary. Let cool slightly—piping hot caramel will melt the chocolate—then spoon over the apples. Immediately press chopped pecans on top. Chill for 10 minutes more.

  1. S’mores

Microwave marshmallow crème (like Marshmallow Fluff) at 50 percent power for 30 seconds, then dip apples. Chill for 10 minutes. Drizzle apples with melted chocolate and then roll in graham- cracker crumbs. Chill again for another 10 minutes.

  1. Confetti

Dip apples into melted white candy melts. Immediately roll in rainbow sprinkles. Chill for 10 minutes.

  1. Peanut Butter Cup

Microwave together 1⁄2 cup peanut butter chips and 1 Tbs. butter at 50 percent power for 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until just melted and smooth. Dip apples. Chill for 10 minutes. Dip apples in melted chocolate. Chill for 10 minutes more.

  1. Cinnamon Spice

Dip apples in melted white candy melts and immediately sprinkle on cinnamon sugar. Chill for 10 minutes. Melt chewy caramel candies according to package directions, adding water to thin as needed. Spoon the caramel over the apples. Chill for 10 minutes more.

These are best enjoyed the same day! 

Cyclops Skewers

cyclops-skewersHalloween can be healthy too! Thread segments of fruit (we used pineapple, kiwi, watermelon, strawberries, and clementines) onto 4-inch bamboo skewers; push on a melon ball last. Press in mini chocolate chip pupils and carrot strip antennae.

Peeper Punch

peeper-punchAdd ½ tsp. water and a blueberry into the wells of a cake-pop pan. Freeze. Cover with water, and freeze again. Pair with your favorite punch.

Bark With A Bite

bark-with-a-biteThis treat comes together fast: Melt a package of candy melts according to package directions, then spread onto parchment paper. Press in various candies; let cool. Break to serve.

One package makes about nine servings.

Cereal Balls


  • 3 Tbs. butter, plus extra
  • 1 (10-oz.) package marshmallows (or 4 cups miniature marshmallows)
  • 6 cups cereal (like Fruity O’s)
  • Candy eyes Prepared frosting 


  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows; stir until melted. Remove from heat.
  2. Add the cereal and stir until well coated.
  3. Use a buttered #12 scoop (1⁄3 cup) to portion out balls, then round them with oiled hands. Place on parchment or wax paper to set.
  4. Glue on candy eyes with frosting.

Pasta Pie


  • 1 (16 oz.) package rigatoni
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, divided
  • 2 (24 oz.) jars pasta sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 to 3 mozzarella cheese sticks, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • Black olives


  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain. Mix in 1 Tbs. olive oil and let cool.
  2. While the pasta is boiling, brush the inside of a 9-inch springform pan with olive oil. In a separate bowl, mix ½ cup Parmesan with the sauce.
  3. Add remaining Parmesan to the rigatoni and toss until the pasta is coated.
  4. Tilt the pan against a pot or bowl, then layer the pasta into the pan until it is filled. Adjust as needed so that they stand on their ends, then set the pan on its bottom. Pour on half the sauce, and cover with plastic wrap. Then tap the pan on the counter to work the sauce inside the pasta.
  5. Remove wrap, add remaining sauce, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove; top with shredded mozzarella.
  6. Bake 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden. Remove, add mozzarella rounds, and put back in for 2 minutes or until they are just barely melted.
  7. Slice ends from olives (or punch with a straw). Press olives into the melted cheese. Allow the pie to rest for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove the outer ring and slice to serve.


Centipede Bread

centipede-breadPlace prepared French-bread dough (we used Pillsbury) onto a parchment-covered baking sheet, curving it as you go. Poke chow mein noodles into the sides and add black olive circles for eyes. Brush with olive oil; bake per package instructions. 


franken-dipCombine 2 cups shelled edamame, 2 tsp. soy sauce, 2 tsp. sesame oil, 2 Tbs. neutral oil (like canola), 2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar, ½ tsp. grated fresh ginger, and 1 garlic clove in a food processor, adding a little water if necessary. Garnish with black sesame seeds and serve with blue corn chips, rice crackers, and more.

Made with a melon baller, these tiny treats capture all the fun, flavor, and spirit of the season. Plus, they’re the perfect size for little hands.

All images and text provided to us by Family Fun Magazine follow them on Facebook

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Food Network’s Spirited Candy Corn Cocktail

When planning the neighborhood Monster Bash that really knocks your guests socks off,. it’s important to have a bit of variety. The ultimate Halloween Soiree takes more concentration and time than a simple dinner party.  Visualizations and decor  need to be considered, costumes and sound effects and music.

When planning appetizers, cuisine and beverages, the cocktails really take some thought and planning as they are usually out of the norm for this type of event and keeping in theme is important.

When it comes to bewitching recipes, Food Network is one stop shopping. Follow the link below and spend some time browsing.

Food Network's Candy Corn Cocktail

candy-corn-cocktailYields: 2 drinks


For the infused vodka:

  • 1/2 cup candy corn
  • 1 1/2 cups vodka

For the cordials:

  • 2 ounces orange liqueur
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 large egg white
  • Candy corn, for garnish


  1. Infuse the vodka: Combine the candy corn and vodka in an airtight container; set aside for at least 3 hours, then strain.
  2. Make the cordials: Add 4 ounces of the candy corn vodka, the orange liqueur, lemon juice and egg white to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds. Strain into 2 chilled martini glasses and garnish with candy corn.



Check out the full list of Food Network’s “Spooky” Halloween Cocktails

“Out of this World” Hallowe’en happenings in Derry and Strabane

This year’s Hallowe’en celebrations in Derry and Strabane promise to be “Out of this World” when the City and District throws a party like no other as it celebrates 30 years of being spooktacular.


Derry / Tourism Ireland

The official “Best Hallowe’en Destination in the world” is gearing itself up for the best celebration yet with a packed programme of events and activities for revellers of all ages to enjoy and participate in.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock, speaking at the launch of the City of Bones Hallowe’en programme for Derry~Londonderry and Strabane said this year’s festival programme has lots to offer. She commented: “This year we have a fantastic line up of events and activities for everyone to enjoy. We are expecting an influx of visitors and in particular young families coming to the City and District looking to enjoy our unique Hallowe’en experience and to be part of our world famous Hallowe’en celebrations. A lot of work goes into the festival every year and Derry City and Strabane District Council is delighted to have a programme of events that includes street animation, storytelling, tours and trails, street markets and lots of spooktacular happenings, for the entire community to enjoy,” she commented.

Among the key highlights of the festival include a welcome return of the Awakening of the Walls when the ancient City Walls will come to life with music, animation and light, creating a realm of fantasy fire and flame from Friday 28 to Sunday 30th October from 6-8pm each night.

Other highlights include spooky Gothic organ recitals at the Guildhall on the evening of Sunday 30 October, terrifying haunted tours at the Tower Museum, Weird and Wonderful Witches Tales at the Guildhall, a Hallowe’en panto at Strabane’s Alley Theatre, Monstrous Halloween workshops and Stotytelling at Strabane Community Library and family entertainment including mask making workshops and arts and crafts at the Craft Village.
New to this year is a Made in Derry Halloween focused food tour on Saturday 29 October from 12-4pm where you can adorn your favourite Halloween costume and eat and drink your way around the city centre and sample delights from over 30 different food and drink producers and venues.

On Hallowe’en night Monday 31 October, both Derry and Strabane will host an evening of fun and entertainment when the City of Bones Street Carnival Parade will make its way along Derry’s Queen’s Quay from 7pm followed by a fabulous Fireworks Finale at 8pm, while in Strabane, the Upper Main Street car park will be transformed into a family friendly fun area from 7-8.30pm and a fireworks display over the River Mourne at 8pm.
Jacqueline Whoriskey is the Council’s Festival and Events Manager. She says preparations are at an advanced stage for this year’s festival with Council pulling out all the stops to make sure the 30th anniversary of the festival is truly special for the people of Derry~Londonderry and Strabane.

“Preparations are well underway and we are delighted to have up to 600 carnival participants taking part in workshops and rehearsals for the Carnival Parade.  The “Out of this World” theme encourages people to be creative and think outside the box for their costumes and we are really looking forward to seeing some magical creations and designs taking part. We are delighted with the variety of the programme and the fact that cultural venues, shops and theatres in both Derry and Strabane have come up trumps in terms of organising events and activities to complement our festival,” she added.

Other highlights happening in and around the Council area over the Hallowe’en holidays include the Castlederg Apple Fair, Hallowe’en Fun Fair at Ebrington and a horror movie week at the Nerve Centre, as well as treasure hunts and spooky bat and ghost tours at Creggan Country Park while the Riverwatch Aquarium will play host to a series of fantastic ghoulish events including a Shark Night and a Barn Owl Prowl. Gray’s Printing Press in Strabane will host an day of Bewitching Tales while Trick or Treat tours will leave from the Alley Theatre and the Riversdale Leisure Centre will host a Hallowe’en Pool Disco.

To find out more about all the events taking place in the City of Bones in the run up to and during Hallowe’en check out the full programme at follow this link.

Courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

Drink and Be Scary with UncommonGreen’s Spooky Literature-Themed Glassware

dracula-literatureHalloween is one of the few times a year adults get to be kids again. Throw a spooktacular costume party and enjoy your favorite drink with UncommonGreen’s literary-themed rocks glasses showcasing the classic horror novels Dracula and Frankenstein.

Accentuate your Halloween-inspired cocktails with these thoughtfully designed glasses featuring the famous opening lines and first-edition cover artwork of these timeless books, including the signatures of their famous authors, Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley. Or, up the ante for the best costume contest by giving these chillingly beautiful pieces away as prizes or favors. Either way, your guests will appreciate the added touch to the festivities and find themselves constantly admiring the sophisticated homage to two of frankenstein-literatureliterature’s most well-known horror stories.

In addition to Dracula and Frankenstein, UncommonGreen’s Literature Glassware collection commemorates works from many of the greatest writers who ever lived, from James Joyce to Jane Austen. Perfect for the English majors in your life and those who simply love a good read, UncommonGreen’s Literature Glassware is unlike anything else out there in the novelty barware and gift market.

UncommonGreen is an established visionary leader in the barware industry and has completely transformed the conventional drinking glass into a brilliant experience that makes beverages more fun to prepare, serve, and drink.

UncommonGreen began in 2009, when designer Brian Johnson wanted to make everyday products that featured artistry paired with functionality, practicality, sustainability, and style. When his three college friends, Dave Reddy, Neil Angis, and Colin Woodworth came on board, they decided to focus their vision on great design that can make the world a better place to live. Creating exceptional goods with a conscience, the UncommonGreen uses materials and packaging from the US, and employs Earth-friendly practices to create their unique form of art.

Fresh Treats for Halloween

strawberries-om-om-fruits-red-82978-largeHalloween is just around the corner and are spending the week sharing party tips, tricks and ideas.

Today’s “witchy” post are fresh ideas the little ghouls and goblins in the fam will love helping to assemble. Strawberries are the center of today’s Halloween treats.

We received a strawberry huller from Trudeau, and this little beauty removes the bitter core and stem in one simple step. We couldn’t wait to give this a whirl and it is as quick and simple as the video below displays.

halloween-witch-hats-berries-dot-comChocolate-Covered Strawberry Witch Hats by

  • 12 oz. dark melting chocolate (available at most grocery stores in baking section)
  • 16 oz. fresh strawberries
  • orange icing
  • chocolate wafers

Follow link for full recipe and instructions


halloween-strawberry-ghosts-cnn-dot-comWhite Chocolate Strawberries

Simple and delicious! Dip strawberries in melted white chocolate and decorate with “eyes” of choice.

Follow the link for recipe

Follow Trudeau on Facebook and find them at

Fresh Design Ideas for the Holidays

HD Christmas DecorAs Halloween decorations are being taken down and stored in boxes for next year, decorating for the Thanksgiving and Christmas season works it’s way up the to-do list. Boxes stored in the garage, storage closet or extra room are begging to be opened and plundered for family favorites and treasures of years past. Each trinket pulled from colored tissue offers it’s own memory and sweet story. Baskets of scented pine cones, a simple wreath and beautifully colored ribbons adorn the rooms.

Putting a fresh face on the holiday season isn’t always easy. Using the exact same decor each year, we may not realize that while we make the house look festive and reflective of the season, we may neglect to infuse the personalities of the entire family.

Begin with the Basics

What counts most in any room, says interior designer Alexa Hampton, are balance, color, contrast and proportion. This is equally true when pulling together holiday decorations.

A few Examples

hd christmas decor IIIIf your family puts up a large tree at the end of the living room, the other end of the room should feature something equally heavy, although dissimilar. A garland wrapped around the stair rail or perhaps draped over a large mirror makes a tremendous impact.

White or ivory walls call for accents in deep purple and red.  Bright pillar candles in glass cloches on a hallway table and brightly colored flowers on the mantle piece. Another option would be to go tonal with white-on-white displays such as white hydrangeas interspersed with a few lemons and and limes for a casually elegant ambiance.

Choosing Colors

It’s your home, your style and should be indicative of that to everyone who walks in. When it comes to your theme for the holidays, think about your favorite color palettes. What color makes you happy? Whatever it is, claim it a yours ad create something fabulous.

hd Christmas Decor IIBegin outside and work your way in 

Make sure your guests feel welcomed every time they arrive at the front door by putting something uniquely “you” on it. If you lean toward the conventional, try a square wreath rather than a circle, or one made of feathers. Festive and modern, either should set the tone for what awaits inside.

For those who want something more unusual, Morse suggests making or buying a large wood replica of the first letter of your last name or a silhouette of your pet. Spray it a cheery color and hang it up with a poufy plaid ribbon. If greenery says “the holidays” to you, gather a bunch, and then wrap it in paper and tie with a big bow as though fresh from the florist shop. Then hang. If you’re hosting several get-together’s, suspend a framed chalkboard written with a special greeting for each, the type of party it is, directions to the pond where you’ll be skating or simply “Cheers!”

Other simple ideas

  • Have the kids cut out snowflakes from construction paper in white or a color that coordinates with their bedrooms.  Tie on various lengths of ribbons in the color of their choice and then, using double-face tape, affix to the ceiling.
  • Don’t forget the bathroom, especially the one used by guests. A bowl of lavender plus a sprig of it tied to the shower head look special and add a delicious scent.
  • Drape glittering tinsel around dining-chairs and add a smattering of silver stars and bells at the back for pizzazz. Or wrap them with ribbon, a tree ornament or name card tied at the back with a bow.

Sally Morse is the Director of Creative Services at Hunter Douglas and we are thankful for the tips and ideas sent our way. For more information and ideas, visit their site, follow Hunter Douglas on Pinterest, Facebook and download the Art of Window Dressing iPad app on their site.





Take a Breath, Slow it Down, Savor the Holidays by Ginger Johnson

Ginger Johnson of Women Enjoying Beer

Ginger Johnson of Women Enjoying Beer

It’s easy to get caught up in commercialism, more so at this time of year. So I wanted to use the column this week to help you take a breath, slow it down, and savor the remaining days of another it-went-too-fast-year.

Take a breath. It seems sometimes we overload ourselves with tasks, commitments and obligations that we really don’t need to execute, however intentional or unintentionally. Step back when you feel like the days are flying too fast, take five minutes and look at what is really eating up the minutes and hours. Is it the stuff you want to and really need to do? Or do you, like me sometimes, plug in stuff that didn’t need to be there in the first place.

Slow it down. Managing life is a daily event. Made up of so many facets that they seems to blur one into another, days fly by for better or worse and everything in between.

Photo: Ginger Johnson

Photo: Ginger Johnson

A few ways I try to slow life down is to first look at my hardcopy printed date book. I Ask myself, “What can I remove that’s not critical, that I can either eliminate or postpone?” Then I act on the ones that are easily erased (yes, I use paper and pencils and erasers).

I also build in spans of time reserved for what’s truly critical, enjoyable, and necessary. This helps me better dedicate and execute my days. Do I make it all work, all the time? No, yet I get closer to what I want my life to be sometimes: slower.

Savoring. We’re guaranteed one go-round. How long or short that life cycle is, there’s no telling, though we can help mitigate many factors. One of those factors is how we use and respect our own time. Being and staying (or getting) healthy is a dominant factor we all must recognize in order to really enjoy and savor this life.

Get rid of the junk that clogs you up, step away from toxic people and negativity, and recalibrate what’s important to you. If it was before and is no more, great! If it was before and remains the same, good too. If it’s not showed up on your radar before, well, that’s called change and growth.

As the beer contributor for Your Home, I’m compelled to compare the three steps above to beer.

Take a breath…and a smell. The beauty of what beer has to offer begins with the colors, aromas and flavors it offers. Take your time with beer. It’ll reward you tenfold.

Slow it down and share. One great way to slow down is to share beer with friends. Getting together with people we want to be with will reduce the speed of our consumption since we love to talk, chat, and catch up.

Savor.  Beer is meant to be savored, not slammed. Hopefully you’ve been reading these articles for a while and realized that beer has so much to give us that we should want to take the time to savor, fully embrace it and enjoy.

I hope you’re celebrating your home and the people you care about all year round, not just at this time of year. I hope you’re taking a breath, slowing down, and savoring the whole crazy and beautiful time of year known as The Holidays.

Whatever and however you celebrate, I wish you and yours a lovely, tasty, and happy season ~


Go Here: Stay Home! Leave the travel for another less frenetic time, take back your time graciously to better enjoy life.

Try This: Volunteering is giving the precious gift of time and it’s always the season to do so. Call your charitable organizations of choice and find out how the gift of your time can help them reach their goals.

Snow vs Palm Trees: Why We Love Being Home at Christmas by Kendra Thornton

Kendra Thornton

Kendra Thornton

Around this time of the year, you can sense the Christmas season approaching without even looking at your calendar. People walk with a livelier step, eager to find the right gifts to place under their trees. The warm and joyous sound of familiar Christmas music fills the air. Chicago is a perpetual winter wonderland throughout the holiday season. Excitement, fun and holiday cheer are guaranteed.

Tradition Is Everything 

In my house, we celebrate our own unique traditions each year. Being Norwegian, my side of the family is focused on celebrations involving foods like lefse and kringla, which we make together as a family. On Christmas Eve, we partake in a tradition that usually leaves us laughing hysterically; all participants much propel a raw oyster down their throats at the same time. After the coordinated “oyster shoot,” we all enjoy a delicious, hot bowl of homemade oyster stew. Finally, we make a toast. This event features a Scandinavian spirit called Akvavit, which is quite potent and burns on the way down. As we toast, we all yell “skol,” an exclamation that’s roughly translated to “cheers” in English.

Christmas and the Kids 

My children enjoy ice-skating, decorating the Christmas tree in our large bay window, helping me cook our huge Norwegian dinner, and decorating the freshly baked cookies we leave out every Christmas Eve. The task wouldn’t be complete without settling down to relax with a steaming mug of hot cocoa. Another favorite tradition is making “reindeer dust” and sprinkling it around the outside of each child’s window just before bedtime. According to those who know, it helps Santa’s reindeer find your house, so they can make their special delivery. This final Christmas Eve touch is so exciting and special to my kids.

Kendra's Snow Angels

Kendra’s Snow Angels

We Dream of a White Christmas

My former job allowed me to travel all over the world, but although it sounds cliche, there’s simply nothing that compares to being home for the holidays. I’d never want to spend Christmas away from my loved ones or the fluffy, white blanket of snow I associate with the season’s magical atmosphere. I recently read an article on Gogobot’s blog about comparing holiday seasons in warm and cold climates. I’ve been to hot climates during the winter season, but I just can’t imagine how their sand and palm trees could hold a candle to snow, evergreens and the need for frequent infusions of hot cocoa.

From Our Family to Yours

Perhaps your corner of the world holds a special holiday magic for you and your family. Any climate can offer a certain charm when it inspires warm memories of good times. A cold Christmas works best for my family and me. We’ll be staying in town this Christmas and enjoying the company of all our relatives again, just as we did this past Thanksgiving. We wish you and your family an amazing holiday season full of your favorite recipes, the laughter of your loved ones and memories to last a lifetime.

 Editors Note:  You can find more from Kendra Thornton on Twitter at @Kendra Thornton and at


Gifts Baskets: Create one-of-a-kind gift baskets filled with locally sourced items

The view from my windows reflect a white winter world. The air is crisp and refreshing to all winter lovers.  Although I’m a warm-weather type of girl I do enjoy the holiday season. I love creating special things for my friends and loved ones, as I’m sure many of you do as well.

With the holiday season around the corner many of us are trying to figure out what to give to all those special people. The options are endless if you prefer to purchase your gifts. But many people enjoy making home-made gifts for friends and loved ones. But what do you make? How about Gift Baskets? I suggest you create one-of-a-kind gift baskets filled with locally sourced items.

gift baskets photo: Here Comes The Stork Wagon Gift Set stork-wagon-pink-large.jpg

We are in the heart of the gift giving season and us crafty people are always looking for that extra unique gift that we can hand make for those special people in our lives. Gift Baskets are a fun and super easy way to create a one of a kind gift. Although we need to look out of the box, or should I say ‘basket’ and look around for unique and original ‘containers’ to hold the gifts! Here a few ideas that you can expand on… just remember, be creative and have fun, that special person will know that you spent extra time in this gift of love!

gift baskets photo: Gift Baskets Picnics.jpg

Gift for the Localvore~
Container: Go to the local Farmers Market that you know the recipient attends and purchase a shopper bag from the market if they have one or purchase a large shopping type basket from the Basket Vendor there. If the market has neither of these, then purchase one from Bolga Baskets– a wonderful basket that is hand made in countries by the poor-
Contents: Again, patronize the local farmers market and purchase items from the vendors there to fill the container. You can often get gift certificates from vendors and this will allow them to purchase what they like- especially from meat, egg, dairy and produce vendors- things that won’t keep in a ‘basket’but need to be included! You can also include a gift certificate from a local restaurant that purchases and uses locally sourced items. Get a copy of your area’s Edible Communities publication.  Go to to find an Edible Publication near you!

Gift for the gardener~
Container: large Terra Cotta or Clay pot, Garden Caddy Bag, Old Wooden tool box from Antique or thrift shop, Wicker basket.
Contents: Hand tools- trowel, shovel, scratcher, weed digger; gardening gloves, pad for kneeling, few cute garden name tags, garden step stone, several seed packs- include veggies, flower and herbs, gift certificate for a seed catalog with the catalog- my choice would be Baker Creek Seed, gardening book- my personal choice would be “Tomatoes Love Carrots” by, Louise Riott, gardening magazine- my first choice would be Organic Gardening published by Rodale,

gift baskets photo: cupcakes QY3QL46LTVCL8QET6CWB_L.jpg

Gift for the baker~
Container: big ceramic or stoneware bowl, large cookie sheet, 9×13 baking dish, large enamel ware bowl.
Contents: Bag of flour, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, other flavored chips, sprinkles, sugar, vanilla, almond and maple extracts, salt, baking powder and soda, walnuts, pecans, rolling-pin, hot pads, glove and towel set, cookie cutters, cookbook, gift certificate for a class at a local shop.

Gift for the cook~
Container: Enamelware Roaster, Stainless Steel Stock Pot, Cast Iron Skillet.
Contents: Several types of salt and pepper- Pink Himalayan, White pepper corns and grinder, several rubs, spices, cooking utensils, hot pads and glove, cookbook for using LOCAL ingredients, gift certificate for a local cooking class- check out for local classes.

Gift for the griller~
Container: Roaster.
Contents: Grilling tools, rubs, several Bar-b-que sauces- pick up some at your local Farmers Market, hot pads and gloves, salts & peppers and grinder, cookbook for grilling and a gift certificate to a local grocery store.

Gift for the sewer~
Container: sewing basket, wicker basket.
Contents: Scissors, sewing needles, variety of thread, pins, measuring tape, seam ripper, buttons, couple spools of decorative ribbon, rotary cutter and mat, thread organizer, sewing machine needles, gift certificate to a local store for a class. If you want to go all out, get them a sewing machine too!

basket of quilts

Gift for the Scrapbooker/ Stamper~
Container: Any type of Scrapbook Tote, Large wicker basket.
Contents: oh my where do I begin- this is one of my personal fave’s!!! Paper Card Stock Stack pads- 12×12, stickers, ribbons, stamps & pads, paper-cutter, adhesives, markers, chalks, pencils, any other accessories you can find. Scrapbook magazine and even better a subscription, gift certificate to a local scrapbook/stamping store for a class! I think it would be easiest to stick with a theme for the contents. If you really want to go all out for a gift, pick up a die cut machine and a cartridge.

gift baskets photo: 19 kit1png.png

Gift for the shopper~
Container: Large pretty shopper bag, large Wicker basket meant for shopping. Contents: Gift certificates to a few local shops in town taking into consideration what the ‘shopper’ enjoys shopping for! Nice pair of walking shoes, directory of shops, thrift stores or whatever else she likes, GPS.

gift baskets photo: 5 wgh146l.jpg

Gift for the reader~
Container: Wicker Basket, cloth bag.
Contents: several books by favorite author, Readers journal, gift certificate to local bookstore, a few handmade book marks, magazines that would interest the person, mug with coffee, tea and cocoa packs, lap blanket to cozy up with while reading. If the recipient is a techie, get them an e-reader.

gift baskets photo: Cat Birthday CatBirthday.jpg

Gift for a pet~
Container: Dog or Cat bed.
Contents: new dishes for food & water, home-made treats- go to your local farmers market and find a treat maker and support local, toys, sweater, new leash & collar, gift certificate for a grooming at a local pet salon.

gift baskets photo: Java Giant JavaGiant.jpg

The point I hope I’ve made here is when you’re trying to decide on what to give, try source out LOCAL items.  This time of year doesn’t have to be a stress induced manic moment.  Relax with a cup of tea or coffee, grab a note pad and pen and start jotting down the people who you’re giving too. Think about what they like and start making your list! You’ll have as much fun putting them together as they will opening them!

Happy Day,

« Older Entries