How to Impress Your Friends With A Quick Gift that Doesn’t Break the Bank

Written by Sarah. Posted in cooking, DIY, food, gift, holiday, party, recipe

Holiday gifts are such a challenge for crafters. It seems like a no-brainer to make a gift but in the end it’s an expensive, time-consuming, soul-crushing experience. Sobs between sips of heavily-spiked eggnog, fingers crooked and bleeding after hours and hours of work. It’s not worth it. Sorry, family and friends. You’re all lovely people and you deserve great gifts but it’s just not possible.

My mom’s family is diverse and pretty large. I can’t afford to buy the kind of presents that they deserve for each and every one of them and I like to think that, since they are all grown adults, they buy themselves the things that they really want. I try to give everyone the same gift (so it’s equal) which presents another challenge. It’s really difficult to find something that they would all like and use or put in their homes. I refuse to give weird pieces of crap also known as “decorations” or “tchotchkies” because I don’t think I’d like to receive any. We don’t have the same taste and that’s ok, let’s just not pretend that we do.

So I like to gift them with food. Everybody likes to eat and generally everyone cooks or bakes at least enough to get by. Buying food gifts can get expensive (gift baskets, fancy chocolates, liquor) so I try to keep everything DIY. I’ll be the first person to tell you that DIY gifts do not mean free or cheap but when it comes to food, you can keep it relatively inexpensive while staying fun and thoughtful. Besides, DIY gifts are like a present for the gifter as much as they are the giftee. Making gifts is fun and rewarding even when it’s exhausting and all of your hair has fallen out.

hot chocolate mug

Last year I put together these hot chocolate mugs. They were really fun and adorable and probably cost less than $5 for each mug. If you cut the marshmallows as I suggest below (using a biscuit cutter that’s just slightly smaller than the opening of the mug), you’ll be able to sip the cocoa through the marshmallow the way you would with whipped cream. It’ll be like a cloud keeping it hot and yummy. This is my favorite part.

While packaging everything up in this “I thought of you and hope you enjoy a cozy evening courtesy of me!” kind of way is lovely and gifty, the key to this present is the marshmallows. People that have never made marshmallows before think that they are witchcraft. They’ve never given any thought to where marshmallows come from (marshmallow trees?). They will be very impressed with you.

hot cocoa gift

Here’s how to do it!

What you will need:
Cute mug*
Cellophane gift bag
Gift tag
Biscuit cutter (that is just a little smaller than the opening of the mug)
Peppermint marshmallows
Hot cocoa mix

1. Make your marshmallows. While they’re setting up, put together the hot chocolate mix.
2. Line the mug with one of the little gift bags. Pour in hot chocolate mix to fill about 3/4 of the mug.
3. Now that the marshmallows have set, use the biscuit cutter to cut them into circles. Dust them lightly in confectioners sugar and place two or three over the hot chocolate mix. Close the bag and secure with ribbon.
4. Add a gift tag with instructions for the cocoa mix and maybe even include a recipe in case they want more.

Ta da! Merry Christmas!

Next week, I’ll be sharing a few more quick and inexpensive DIY gifts so stay tuned!

What’s your favorite DIY gift to give? How do you gift food?

* The mugs are the most expensive part of the gift. You can pick up adorable Christmas themed mugs at the dollar store or you can go all out and buy a hand-thrown piece on Etsy. Let your budget be your guide. (I used these CB2 mugs because I loved that they came with a little spoon. I believe they’ve been discontinued but here they are on ebay. $3 per mug! ) But this mug will become your relative’s new hot chocolate mug and when you see them next Christmas they will say, “Every time I drink hot chocolate in that mug I think of you!” Awww! Choose wisely.

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Summer in the City

Written by Sarah. Posted in food, holiday, life, movies, new york city, party, photos, summer, travel

It’s already August which means that the summer is almost over. I haven’t posted much about what I’ve been up to. I feel like I focus so much on the work I’m doing here and I would like to inject a little more personal fun stuff because why not! I’ve been looking back over my photos of all of the fun I’ve had and I sometimes have to wonder is this my life I’m living? Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of work, heavy lifting, and anxiety (I’ve learned that going to sleep early is a necessity. Even when it means skipping out on some fun) that goes on in the day to day but I somehow manage to pack a lot of adventures in to a little bidget and less free time.

Jon’s parents threw a big July 4th bar-b-que and my family got to join us for a day of drinking and swimming. And I made a tart. It was
really wonderful having so many people that I love celebrating together.

After seeing War Horse and getting a special backstage tour from our friend Holly, we dined at Strip House and joined Ashley and Andrew to
watch the fireworks in a special private party that we threw for ourselves atop Hearst Tower. What a view!

We picked cherries. Which was delicious and adorable. We picked vegetables which was hot but so rewarding especially as city folk. We ate at Googa Mooga and we went to a lot of brunches (but not enough, never enough).

We saw a movie in the park with Andrew and Holly. I’d never done that before and I can tell you it was because of the heat and the crowds but it was so much fun!

Jon and I joined Ashley in seeing OK Go. Ashley and I have seen them about once a year since we were 14. It’s still magical. We still sing every lyric and dance like crazy. It’s amazing that we are still who we are and they are still who they are after all of this time.

This past weekend was my friend’s bachelorette party which meant lounging and drinking on the beach with my closest girl friends from way back. It’s so wonderful to see that we are all living it up and I’m so proud of us for all being successful ladies!

As our friend Alex said, quoting White Knuckles, “Nothing ever doesn’t change, but nothing changes much.” It’s been a wonderful summer.

What have you done this summer? Are you still packing in memories before it’s over?

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Yarn Bombs and Hot Tea

Written by Sarah. Posted in art, Brooklyn, design, DIY, holiday, knits, new york city, party, photos, summer, yarn

Some of you might have forgotten that Saturday was International Yarn Bombing Day. Did you do any crafty vandalism? While I thought about yarn bombing my own fire escape (wonder what my neighbor would say…), I was actually stuffing my face with bar-b-que at the Big Apple Bar-B-Que Block Party. I can’t say no to free food festivals.

But, while I was in Williamsburg on Friday, I saw a yarn bomb by Hot Tea. When I read this article on Gothamist, well, be still my heart! Check out this fantastic yarny art by New York’s newest yarn bomber. While I love Olek’s use of crochet in her bombs, Hot Tea’s work is really awesome. I love the geometric patterns and very cool utilization of straight lines.

More photos on his flickr!

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Have a Brunch-filled Weekend!

Written by Sarah. Posted in art, food, instagram, life, new york city, party, photos

It’s been a long week, huh? It’s dark out at 4:30, I’m having a fierce knitting vs. vacuuming battle, and I just burnt my hand on the toaster. That being said, I’m so excited for this weekend! It’s my mom’s birthday and I have all kinds of fun errands planned!

Here’s a photo of the ceiling at The Whitney. Last weekend we had a big brunch party at Untitled. It was wonderful. The place is super cool and small and not too expensive. It’s a great brunch atmosphere and the perfect lead-up to a fun afternoon at the museum.

How cool are those lamps? What are your plans for the weekend?

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The Burgerlution World Premiere!

Written by Sarah. Posted in blog spotlight, life, movies, new york city, party

Hey there! I’ve been away again. And not making socks. This time it was down to business! Jon and I can’t believe that our little baby is all grown up and ready for the world to see! Our amazing brunch buddy Ashley stepped up to the plate and helped us complete the film. And, oh my god, she really made it come together!

Well, guess what! No sooner than we finish the film, we found out that it’s official, we’ll be kicking of the New York City Food Film festival with our premiere!!! The Burgerlution is part of the Cheers to Burgers and Beers event which includes fresh-made burgers and hand-crafted beers!

Come out and celebrate the world premiere October 13th at Tribeca Cinemas. More information and tickets here!

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Summer Colors

Written by Sarah. Posted in cooking, holiday, party, summer

Hey there! Here’s something to feast your eyes upon this morning. Jon took this photo of the grill on July 4th.

Don’t these peppers just look delicious and bright? The colors are amazing. Thinking of them sizzling away on the grill is getting my taste buds going! Yummy!

I have a few more photos from the 4th coming soon!

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Fizzy Weekend for All!

Written by Sarah. Posted in party, summer

Happy weekend everybody! Looking forward to mine. I’ve made some rainy day back up plans which are just as exciting as my sunny weekend plans

Just want to kick off the weekend with a summery weekendy photo. I got to celebrate my graduation last weekend with my family and some old friends I haven’t seen in a while. It was so much fun! I really loved the look of all of the Brooklyn Summer Ale we put in an old metal bucket. Not only do I think Brooklyn Summer is the most delicious beer ever, but I love the cheerful color they chose for the label.

Wishing you lots of fantastic fizzy drinks for the weekend! What are your plans?

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Celebrate with Ice Pops!

Written by Sarah. Posted in holiday, new york city, party, want

Yesterday was the first day of summer! I hope you all celebrated the solstice with lots of summer goodies. I may or may not have had a hamburger (obviously I had one!). Anyway, today let’s kick off the season with my favorite summer treat: Ice Pops!

I plan on doing a lot of ice-pop-making this summer but I don’t have any recipes to share today. I love the idea of popsicles. Everyone likes them, young and old. Even a pack of FlavorIce will get people together. And there is no better way to beat the New York City heat than with a yummy ice pop! This post is all about the icon of the ice pop. The shape and colors of summer all represented in a tasty dessert!

First off, this adorable card by Two Pooch Paperie.

I fell in love with these adorable tea towels from Crate and Barrel. Perfect for a barbecue!

How about wearing this cute retro headscarf from Telulah Blue Burlesque to your next pool party?

Finally, I’d love to hang this print by Hello Poster Show on the wall of my future beach home!

You look ready for a cool treat! What’s your favorite summer dessert?

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Written by Sarah. Posted in DIY, holiday, party

Hello, World! I hope you had an amazing holiday weekend (if, of course, this weekend was a holiday for you). I had a wonderful stay-cation which included well-deserved massages, long-overdue manicures, and lots of grilling and wine! I hope you all saved your corks from all of the partying you did because I have some fun wine-centric projects!

A few weeks ago, at brunch, I snapped a quick photo of this cute cork table. The table is a frame lined with wine corks and topped with a piece of glass. Pretty simple idea but super cute result!

It got me thinking and here are some other wine-spired projects.

First is this bath mat. Very fun! There is a great tutorial for making your own at CraftyNest.

Next up, this cool cork ornament posted at Green Wedding Shoes.

And lastly, this handy trivet from Whole Living. Very easy to make!

I’m excited to start crafting these corks! But the first step is collecting them so bottoms up!

What cork designs have you seen? I’d love to hear some more!

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Congrats, Ashley!

Written by Sarah. Posted in life, party

Last weekend I got to celebrate my good friend Ashley’s graduation. I am so proud of her. I just wanted to share some photos of the party because we had so much fun!

Ashley and I have been friends since I met her in fourth grade. She and I both went to school in New York City so we have been able to spend a lot of big events together. It’s really cool that we are passing this milestone together! Doesn’t she look beautiful?

Her family is just so much fun. It was so great capturing how excited they were for her!

I love this photo of the girls’ tattoos. Ashley, her sister, and her mom all have them!

I wish I could’ve captured the party even more. I was having too much fun enjoying it myself!

I’m so pleased that we got to spend time with some of my friends that I haven’t seen in a long time! I love picking up where we left off.

I am so happy that Ashley and I live close enough now that we can see each other more often. I feel so lucky to have a great friend that I know will always be there whether we’re getting tipsy at brunch or helping each other through bad break ups. Every girl needs a best friend!

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