Christmas On A Budget: FOOD!

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Today’s topic is one of my favorites. I think giving (and recieving!) food is one of the best gifts out there! It’s not too expensive, it’s practical, and pretty much everybody loves a sweet treat. I make my friends and family a gift basket of homemade foods every year!

I happen to love to bake, but I can understand the intimidation of baking. However, I fully believe that if you can read, you can bake. Obviously, some recipes are easier than others, but for the most part following a recipe is super easy! Just take your time, and make sure you read each step. If you’re a really newbie baker, I recommend reading through the whole recipe at least twice before starting so it’s a bit familiar. And don’t forget to double check that you have ALL the ingredients! There is nothing more frustrating than getting halfway through a recipe and realizing you’re missing a key ingredient….not that I’ve done that or anything. *Cough*

Below are some of my favorite baking recipes to give as gifts! These are all links to my personal recipes, a lot of which are old blog posts! Therefore, please ignore all the funky footer stuff going on at the end of some of them, and the poor food photography (with lack of watermarks). 😉

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1. Banana Bread. I think this tops my list of gift-giving food. It is a staple of my yearly gift basket.


2. Peanut Butter Buckeyes. A simple, quick, and delicious treat!


3. Molasses Cookies. A bit time intensive, but they are my all time favorite cookie!


4. Zucchini Bread. Less sweet than the above banana, this bread is a savory classic.

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5. Pumpkin Spice Cookies. More of a fall treat, but so delicious!


6. Peanut Butter Blossoms. This is my classic Christmas cookie. My mum made them every year growing up, and it doesn’t feel like the holidays without them!


7. Lemon Bar Brownies. This recipe has a bit more to it than the others, but is still pretty easy! And absolutely delicious – I get raves about these.


8. Chocolate Pie. This is one of the richest chocolate mousse pies I’ve ever had, and it’s so simple to make.


Now that you’ve whipped up some yummy goods, lets talk presentation. Packaging up your lovingly homemade goods into a gift basket just adds a punch of holiday cheer! My biggest money saving tip for this? The dollar store. I go there every year to stock up on my food ‘gift wrap’. As I prefer a rustic Christmas look, I always start with a basket but really, pick any container that suits your fancy. I wrap my breads in plastic wrap, place cookies or other treats in cute boxes (or baggies), then add some ribbon or bows around the basket and call it a day! Cheap, easy, and pretty to boot.


Crunched for time, or truly doubting your baking ability? No problem! Make Food In A Jar! To me, this is one the best gifting concepts of all time. I love to give soup jars! Here are some of my faves from around the internet, and they make great last-minute gifts too.

(Click the pic to take you straight to the how-to!)

Cul-de-sac Cool shares five different cookie-in-a-jar recipes, with the free printable label tags to go with!

Our Bower shares this yummy looking Multigrain Chicken Soup in a jar.

The Frugal Girls shares a yummy looking Hot Chocolate in a jar! Be sure to check their French Vanilla Hot Chocolate too! (My hubs may be getting this in his stocking!)

Sassy & Sweet shares this Spice Tea in a jar.

Hope you found a new gift to give someone today. Next week for Christmas On A Budget: From Kids, and For Kids!

Life In Photos #20

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Edgar watching the living room antics from up on high. The bookshelf is definitely a favorite cat spot.


I had a brinner party for some friends this week and it was a good time. I love to make food for people! Lots of laughter, as seen by my hubs about-to-burst-out-laughing face. 😀

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She was watching a new episode of My Little Pony, and there was a ‘scary bad guy’. She’d pull the blanket over her head when it was too frightening – so cute!

eli snuggled

My grandmother gave me this blanket which was handmade by one of my great great aunts. Eli loves it. He goes out of his way to sit on it and if you’re using it, he will find a corner just to rest on. Blanket love.

Instagram RoundUp

Completely forgot to do an Instagram roundup last week, oooooops.


Going clockwise. . .

1. Finished the bookmark for my hubs! He loves it. 😀
2. I’ve been posting lots of bookish photos on Instagram as I’m taking part in a Book Photo Challenge for August.
3.We had a big game weekend at my BFF’s house and it was a blast. This is a shot from Lords of Waterdeep – one of our faves.
4. I’ve been back into making omelets for the little and the hubs in the morning (not a huge egg fan myself).

Life In Photos #9

Happy Easter to everyone! Although my little family isn’t religious, we still have an egg hunt and basket for our little miss, and then dinner with the family in the evening. I hope however you celebrate that it’s a wonderful day!


The little’s Easter basket. New comics, a couple handmade lovelies (from Sugar Crumbs and Crafteroni & Cheese), some toys and treats – she’s a happy kiddo!


Lately she has been all about this book of fairy tales. Brings it all around the house reading to her toys and stuffies. So cute!


Last night I had the house to myself and whipped up some easy Brinner – sweet potato homefries and scrambled eggs. Om. Nom.


We went on an adventure in the woods on Friday and this was my absolute favorite shot of the day. I have such a love for partial black and whites – I seriously would love to have a room for just photos of that nature!

– Kayly

Local Love: Farmer’s Market

Last weekend was the final winter Farmer’s Market in Tilton, which is about a half an hour haul south of us. We decided to drop in and shop a bit since it was the last weekend for this huge market!

I love this market. There are so many vendors, so much to look at and take in, and even live music which my little miss loved dancing to! We definitely splurged on goodies, but since it was the only winter market we’d been to, I was quite alright with that. Plus, SO many delicious, local, homemade yums!


My first pick was this Pinto Bean and Sweet Potato Dip from Thompson Goat Farm. They actually specialize in Goat Milk Soap and Raspberry products, but she had a sample bowl of this dip out and it was so tasty! I’ve been eating it with sweet potato chips, which I know sounds redundant flavor-wise, but it is so delicious! I even mixed it with a bit of salsa for tacos – YUM!

Next we picked out our sweets from Rollin’ In The Dough. Is that a fabulous name for a bakery or what?! Also, their sweets are just delicious, and so reasonably priced. Especially since most of them are so huge, they are two servings worth. Unless you’re my hubs, who got a cinnamon roll the size of his face and downed it in one sitting! I didn’t even get a picture, haha! But I did get a bite, and it was so fab.


My pick was this delectable looking raspberry bar. I don’t know if the picture really shows it, but this was big. I cut it in half and got two desserts out of it!


Can you tell she was excited for her pick? This half cock-eyed smile was the best photo I could get as she was literally bouncing in her chair with excitement. This was definitely a multi-serving cookie for her! She was so excited each day once she remembered that it was her dessert.

After that we picked up dinner for that night. Homemade raviolis from Valicenti Organico. Holy. Cow. This was truly the most delicious dinner I’ve had in a long time. I was initially hesitant about getting some, as I’m not a huge ravioli fan. But, I also realized that it had been years since I’d had any, and that the only kind I’d ever had had come out of a can. So I figured I’d give it a whirl, and I am so glad I did.


The hubs selected Brandied Lobster filling, as lobster ravioli is one of his favorite dishes.


I opted for Brown Butter and Sage Roasted Sweet Potato. It kinda made me drool just thinking about it.

Talk about scrumptious. I loved both flavors, and even the little miss ate them both! She ate lobster ravioli! I about had a heart attack.

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They had these pamphlets at their booth which are filled with simple sauce recipes that pair great with their pastas and ravioli flavors. I used a simple Sauteed garlic and butter sauce for the lobster ravioli, and a red sauce for mine. I even got two servings out of mine as it was just too much for one night for me! (The hubs powered through his though, and he said he certainly has no regrets, haha!)

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We paired it with slices of fresh Honey Whole Wheat bread from The Bread Peddler. I’ve had his breads before from back when I was doing a local farmer’s market for my baked goods, and it is scrumptious. The perfect balance of moist and crusty outside, not too dense – excellent. I actually love it with a cup of tea; no butter, not toasted, just plain yummy bread! But it also makes excellent sandwiches. It’s so good in fact, that we managed to eat it all this week before I ever remembered to take a picture of it! But it looked like this.

*Image via The Bread Peddler Website*

Delicious right?

I can’t wait for summer markets to open! Yes, I know, that’s not until June but I can be excited anyway! Spring has finally started to arrive here. The temps have been in the 40’s, the snow is rapidly disappearing, and I am so ready. We have so many outdoor plans this year and I just want to get started!


Rainbow Cupcakes

A quick blog update – I finally added some new work to the Pure Inspiration page – please go take a look, there is so much awesome art there! Hopefully there will be more soon – I need to carve out a chunk of my time in August dedicated to finding more awesome art!

This past Sunday I celebrated one of my dearest friends 25th birthday. She’s now joined me in the Quarter of a Century Club. We’ve been best friends since we were 11 – it’s crazy to think that it’s been 14 years!! Anywho, I just had to make her some rainbow cupcakes – I’ve been dying to try them out. They’re a little time consuming, but extremely easy to do, and so much fun to look at when they’re finished! So let’s dive right in.


1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter (I use a vegetable oil spread, and it works just fine)
2 eggs
2tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk (I ended up adding a couple tablespoons more for a better consistency)
Icing dyes in all the colors of the rainbow (I would definitely use icing dyes, NOT standard food coloring. These give you extremely vibrant color, whereas regular food color comes out very dull I find)


In a small bowl, whisk flour and baking powder together.


In a larger bowl, mix butter and sugar


and whisk until creamy.


Add in eggs and vanilla.


Mix until smooth.


Add half your flour and milk, and stir until combined.


Add in the remaining halves of the flour and milk, then stir until thoroughly combined. If your batter is a bit thick (mine was at this point) add in milk until desired consistency is reached.


Divide batter into six bowls. (I busted out my camping bowls in case the icing dye stained the bowls – it did not just as an FYI.)


Mix in about 1/8 -1/4 tsp of each color dye and combine thoroughly.


Lay a layer of your violet batter on the bottom, making sure it spreads to the edges of the cups. (I use silicone cups as they are reusable – less waste and saves money!). Then, keep layering each color on top in backwards rainbow order (ie; blue next, then green, etc). I used about a half tablespoon for each layer.


All the colors layered in – ready for the oven.
Bake at 350F for 20 – 25 minutes.
Let cool completely before frosting them!

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The finished product! So vibrant – I just love them.

Ready to eat!
Unfortunately I was in a super rush when these were done and I totally forgot to take pictures of them all together before frosting them. DOH. Also, as you may have noticed, I didn’t have my little miss help with these. Although the dye doesn’t stain dishes, it absolutely does stain skin and clothes (I looked like I dipped my hand in a rainbow at the end of this). And while I don’t mind mess, that’s pushing it! So I’d leave the little ones out of this recipe. These do not stain once baked though, so you don’t have to worry about rainbow teeth!

So as you can see, these are pretty simple and just SO CUTE! If my little miss has an art party for her birthday theme this year, I’m totally making them again. They are just vibrant and fun.

The party was totally stellar, as always. A great gathering of friends, with some great food to boot. The birthday girl is into archery, so she had a course set up for her archer friends to shoot with her, and I tagged along for photo ops.

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The birthday girl being a total badass.

Until next time!
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