Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last Minute handmade gift ideas

I often find myself making last minute gifts during the holidays - they are perfect for those friends who have everything and are nice to have around in case there are any unexpected guests during the holidays! Here is what I did this year:

1) Flavored liquors make for pretty gifts when packaged in corked bottles! You can get the recipes for these on my blog here. There is still time to make the Chai Whisky which only needs 24 hours to infuse! I used frosted glass cosmetic bottles that I had left over from some R&D but you can find Cork top bottles at most craft stores. Mason jars would also be lovely for packaging. You can make up sticker labels, or a raffia tie with a tag and the name of the infusion would be perfect too!

2) Handmade chocolates are always a hit! Get some nut and dried fruit trail mix and add to melted chocolate to make fruit and nut bars. Trader Joe's Omega Trail mix works well! Wrap in tin paper and a cigar band label or tag label.Good quality chocolate can be found at most health food and natural food stores or get melting chocolate from the your local craft store.  
how to to temper chocolate

For chocolate clusters get some raw nuts, candy them (great recipe here), and then dip the nuts into chocolate and spoon onto parchment paper until set! I made some yummy ones with white chocolate, candied almonds and freeze dried blueberries from Trader Joes! They go great with a blueberry vodka spritzer! (wink)
3) You can NEVER go wrong with homemade marshmallows! I used an easy recipe from the NPR website and the book "Make the Bread Buy the Butter". I added some cardamom to mine, or you can add a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder for chocolate marshmallows or even some peppermint extract! Bags can be found at your local craft store.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sales and Giveaways

Here are just a few deals around the web I wanted to share!
Product Body is giving away 2 soaps of your choice and a new Bath Tea
Enter the Product Body Giveaway

Lotion bar Cafe is giving away a $25 gift certificate to their shop!
Enter the Lotion Bar Cafe Giveaway

Christmas Cupcake soap is on sale at Platypus Dreams

Lillian Skincare is having a sale on all Vanilla Mint Products!

Use code "Welcome" for free shipping on your first order through rep Ellen's at Mark cosmetics! I used these products for my wedding makeup and LOVE it!

Be sure to check out the Holiday Gift guide at the Rikrak Studio

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Infused Liquors Part One: Recipes & Method

 Grapefruit Lavender Gin,
Blueberry Lemon & Rosemary Vodka and Chai Whisky

A couple of years a go my friend Nikole gave me a jar of vanilla beans with instructions on how to make your own vanilla extract. I was thinking about her and remembered the gift which was the inspiration for these infused liquor recipes! I am thinking I will give them as gifts to my friends who drink alcohol and are looking for something adventurous to try!

In Part One I will show you how to make the infusions and in the second part I will show you some packaging ideas and recipes!

32 oz widemouth Glass containers with lids
Small Food Processor
Mortar & Pestle
Herbs, dried fruit, spices and citrus peels

Prepare ingredients by dry toasting and grinding herbs with Mortar & Pestle, chop or food process dried fruit and bruise fresh herbs and citrus peels. Add the ingredients to your glass jar and fill with liquor. Tightly seal and label. Store in a warm dark place and shake twice a day for 24 hours to one week depending on the strength of the herbs. Strain liquor with a coffee filter and fill glass storage containers.

Grapefruit Lavender Gin
Peel of one Grapefruit
1/4 cup of Organic Dried Lavender
30 fl. oz. of Gin

1) Peel the Grapefruit rind being careful to avoid the white bitter parts and add to your jar along with the Lavender Buds. 2) Add the Gin. Let sit in a warm dark place for 1 week. Shake the jar twice per day.

Blueberry, Lemon and Rosemary Vodka
1/4 cup Dried Wild Blueberries (Trader Joes)
Peel of one Lemon
sprig of fresh Rosemary bruised or 1 Tablespoon dried and chopped
30 fl. oz. of Vodka

1) Peel the Lemon rind being careful to avoid the white bitter parts and add to the jar. 2) In a food processor pulse the blueberries and a few ounces of the vodka until the blueberries start to break down. You do not want to form a paste, just break them up a bit. 3) Add the Blueberries and vodka to the jar along with the rosemary and remaining vodka. Let sit in a warm dark place for 1 week. Shake the jar twice per day.

Chai Whisky (or Bourbon)
2 Tablespoons Cardamom Pods
1 Tablespoon White Peppercorns
2 Cinnamon Sticks broken up into about 1 inch pieces
1 Tablespoon fresh Ginger chopped (dried pieces are ok or 1 Teaspoon ground)
1/2 Teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon ground Cloves
2 Vanilla Beans washed and broken into 1 inch pieces
30 fl oz Whisky or Bourbon

1) Toast the Cardamom, Peppercorns and Cinnamon until the spices start to pop. BE CAREFUL - the Peppercorns with go up like popcorn if they get too hot! 2) Transfer to a Mortar and Pestle and grind to a coarse consistency just to release the oils. You will have a lot of large pieces of Cinnamon. 3) Chop the Ginger if necessary and add all of the ingredients to your jar and fill with Whisky or Bourbon. Let sit in a warm dark place for 24-48 hours. Shake the jar twice per day.

Stay tuned in a week or so for packaging tips!

For Organic Herbs and Spices:


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