Chocolate-Cherry Cake

Our January is filled with lots of celebrations so we have many reasons to eat decadently and I get a chance to try a variety of recipes since we do not want to eat the same dessert for each “moment”. That would just be plain boring.

And kooky.

We have 3 birthdays (out of a family of 5) this month so we started the string of birthdays with a Chocolate-Cherry Cake that is a family recipe. It was moist and the chocolate was not too rich…it was delish!

Follow the links below for the cake recipe and for the cherry frosting – the combo was meant to be!

Why, you could even say that it is a “perfect pair”…

 

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Chocolate-Cherry Cake

Maraschino Cherry Frosting

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Soup and Soup Mugs Make a Perfect Pair!

Is there a better season to give the gift of soup? (to yourself, perhaps…)

You can find all sorts of fun soup mugs, so have fun looking around for the perfect gift. I love the big oversized mugs that at one point were called the “Friend’s” mug when they were made famous from that show and their coffee shop moments. (Yes, I loved that show.)

Every once in while I like to switch it up a bit and use a large shallow bowl. It makes me feel sophisticated.

And whether you give one or a whole set, it will warm someone’s heart….(get it?)!

Any way you serve it, a soup gift for this time of year is fun. Add a soup starter kit, your own homemade soup or grab some from a local sandwich shop or grocery store.

And don’t forget the dipping bread!

(All below are from Kohl’s)

http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1877187/certified-international-top-hat-snowman-4-pc-soup-bowl-set.jsp?pfm=rrrecs-pdp-gtab1

$61.99 for Certified International Top Hat Snowman 4-pc. Soup Bowl Set

or, if you want a deeper bowl…

http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1877068/certified-international-top-hat-snowman-4-pc-ice-cream-bowl-set.jsp?pfm=rrrecs-pdp-gtab1

$53.99 for Certified International Top Hat Snowman 4-pc. Ice Cream Bowl Set

(Since it is technically called an Ice Cream Bowl, no sense fighting it – clean out your soup bowl and make a big ‘ole ice cream sundae!)

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or how about soup-to-go?

http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1609913/corningware-french-white-20-oz-mug-with-vented-cover.jsp

$9.99 for CorningWare French White 20-oz. Mug with Vented Cover – available in 4 colors

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Fresh Nutmeg and Grater

There are many token gifts that I have received that I never would have picked up for myself but I LOVE them and am so happy with them! Using my little nutmeg grater and fresh nutmeg recently made me think of the person who gave it to me (that’s one of the extra gifts about receiving gifts) and also how much I love it.

I feel quite trendy using it and there is just something about the taste of fresh nutmeg…so creamy and fresh…just grating it is an experience in itself.

Mine looks like this spice grater from Amazon but I am not sure where mine came from – it was a gift after all. (You could also look at any kitchen store)

http://www.amazon.com/Microplane-40016-Classic-Black-Grater/dp/B00004S7V9/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1414093306&sr=8-6&keywords=nutmeg+grater

$8.95 for Spice Grater

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Here is what fresh nutmeg looks like…I never knew until I received my gift…

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Don’t forget to pick up some fresh nutmeg to go with your grater gift – they make a “Perfect Pair”!

http://www.amazon.com/Spice-Hunter-Nutmeg-Organic-1-8-Ounce/dp/B0001M11RS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414093407&sr=8-1&keywords=fresh+nutmeg

$4.45 for The Spice Hunter Nutmeg, Whole, Organic, 1.8-Ounce Jar

Bath and Body Holiday/Winter Wall Plug-ins and Fragrance Bulbs

These make great gifts! The holiday selection of wall plug-ins will get better, this is what they have online at the moment.

There are always sales and deals going on so look for those..

http://www.bathandbodyworks.com/product/index.jsp?productId=47201696&cp=12586994.12936197.4147324

$9.50 (but there are always sales so wait for those!)

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http://www.bathandbodyworks.com/product/index.jsp?productId=47201706&isCrossSell=true&cp=12586994.12936197.4147324

$8.50

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Add a winter or holiday fragrance and you have a great token gift and a “Perfect Pair”!

http://www.bathandbodyworks.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=4147326&cm_sp=LN-_-Fragrance+Plugs-_-Fragrance+Refills&cp=12586994.12936197

Fire and Wood Stove Gifts from Plow and Hearth

http://www.plowhearth.com/large-resin-burlap-sack-container.htm

$49.95 – $99.95 for Resin Wood Burlap Sack Holder (small or large)

This looked like a fun gift for those who enjoy their fires. Add a box of Fatwood for $14.95 and you have a fabulous gift and …a Perfect Pair!

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http://www.plowhearth.com/suede-hearth-utility-gloves.htm

$19.95 for Suede Hearth Utility Gloves

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Click here for the large assortment of woodstove “Steamers”…http://www.plowhearth.com/woodstove-steamers.htm

$79.95 for the above Adirondack Chair and Fire Pit Wood Stove Steamer (I am from the Adirondack area so this one caught my eye…there are many more though!)

Tea & Honey…A Perfect Pair! From Republic of Tea

http://www.republicoftea.com/pumpkin-spice-black-tea-bags/p/V20008/

$11.50 for 50 tea bags, Pumpkin Spice Tea

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http://www.republicoftea.com/hot-apple-cider/p/V00683/

$11.50 for 36 tea bags, Hot Apple Cider Tea

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http://www.republicoftea.com/caramel-black-hicaf%26amp%3b%238482%3b-tea-bags/p/V20147/

$13.00 for HiCaf (that means lotsa caffeine) Caramel Black Tea

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Pick a tea and add a honey…you have a perfect pair!

http://tea.republicoftea.com/search?view=grid&w=honey+for+tea&=

$11.99 for Honey for Tea, 3 flavors: Vanilla Bean, Chai Spice or Lemon Crème

or

http://www.republicoftea.com/rare-hawaiian-organic-white-honey/p/V01042/

$17.95 for Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey

Beaded White Coffee Cup & Coffee Shop Grind – “Perfect Pair”

http://www.target.com/p/threshold-beaded-coffee-mug-set-of-4-white/-/A-14172109

$13.99 for set of 4, Threshold Beaded White Coffee Cup from Target

Add a bag of coffee from your local coffee shop and you have a “Perfect Pair”!

Fall Gift Idea and Perfect Pair – Bath & Body Wall Scents

Flash Sale!

Ok, now that I have your attention…I just saw that these are on sale today only. They are part of my winter holiday token gift ideas but they are not offering winter scents and designs yet. They will be on sale again, I know that for sure, so keep them in mind for holiday gifts. You can usually find a sale plus free shipping deals and 20% off. Not bad!

But…if you need a gift for the upcoming fall season, oh my, you should see the fabulous smells…apples, cupcakes, pumpkins, caramel and leaves. And wait ’til you see the fall plug-ins!

Perfect for guys and gals!

The scents are on sale for $3.00 –

http://www.bathandbodyworks.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=32191436&cm_sp=LN-_-%243+Wallflowers+Fragrance+Refills-_-%243+Wallflowers+Fragrance+Refills&cp=4090263.4090364

Farmstand Apple

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Pumpkin Cupcake

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Pumpkin Caramel Latte

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Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin with Bats

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Marshmallow Fireside

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Sweater Weather

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Caramel Pumpkin Swirl

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Banana Nutmeg Bread Pudding
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Mahogany Teakwood

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Ok, now add a decorative wall plug and you are done! Doesn’t that feel good?

$9.50 for Moon & Bats Nightlight

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$5.50 for White Conical Nightlight Plug

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$9.50 for Fall Leaves Wallflower Plug

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$9.50 for Classic Owl

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$7.50 for Zigzag Shade, in case whimsy is not on the gift list!

Plugs can be found here…

http://www.bathandbodyworks.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=4147324&cm_sp=LN-_-Wallflowers+Refills%3A+%243-_-Fragrance+Plugs&cp=12586994.12936197

Antique Style Metal Pie Rack from Farmhouse Wares

Who wouldn’t love to have this rack in their kitchen filled with delicious pies? This is a really fun and creative gift for someone who enjoys baking and entertaining. They could swap out the pie plates for plates of cookies or other goodies too.

Pair the pie rack with some new pie plates or even one filled with a pie that you make and you have a “Perfect Pair”!

It could also make a fabulous wedding gift…

http://www.farmhousewares.com/antiquestylemetalpierack.aspx

$44.95

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http://www.farmhousewares.com/creamwarepiedish.aspx

$12.95 for Creamware Pie Dish

Cookie Cutters & Sprinkles – Holiday Gifts and “Perfect Pairs”

I know that I said I was not ready for fall gift ideas, so I am certainly not ready for the winter holidays. BUT…now is a great time to get started thinking about the winter holidays and being able to get ahead on some of your shopping is a great gift for you.

I had a request for great gift ideas for the workplace that were around $10 and I got excited to begin my mission.

Throughout the next few months I will share some fabulous ideas for gifts in all price ranges that cover various holidays and gift giving moments from the token gift to the extravagant.

I have cookies and baking on the brain because I am in full bake sale mode this weekend. A really fun gift is to pair a cookie cutter (or a few) with a jar of sprinkles. This gift can be as simple or as grand as you want to make it – that’s a beautiful thing!

You will notice a few other ideas besides winter holidays but I couldn’t help myself.

http://www.coppergifts.com/cookie-cutters/pc/Cross-Tin-Cookie-Cutter-Set-111p3502.htm

$6.99 for Cross Tin Cookie Cutter Set

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http://www.coppergifts.com/cookie-cutters/pc/Mini-Snowfall-Tin-Cookie-Cutter-Set-111p2650.htm

$7.99 for Mini Snowfall Tin Cookie Cutter Set

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http://www.coppergifts.com/cookie-cutters/pc/Gift-Package-Cookie-Cutter-111p1507.htm

$13.90 for Gift Package Shaped Cookie Cutter

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$14.95 for Haunted House Cookie Cutter

$13.90 for Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter

http://www.coppergifts.com/cookie-cutters/pc/showsearchresults.asp?pageStyle=H&resultCnt=36&keyword=large+house&type=1&submit.x=0&submit.y=0

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This is a cute gift for the “Awareness” type campaigns. A cookie in the colors for the specific campaign make a great gift to-go! This particular set is for Breast Cancer Awareness.

http://www.coppergifts.com/cookie-cutters/pc/Awareness-Ribbon-Cookie-Decorating-Set-5-piece-36p4621.htm

$22.40 for Awareness Ribbon Cookie Decorating Set, 5 Piece

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Add a bottle or two of theme or holiday colored sprinkles to your cookie cutters and you have a perfect “token” gift! These would be great for school groups, cookie exchanges, workplace gifts, church groups, your buddies…you name it.

They also make a “Perfect Pair”!

http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?id=C207E4EA-B52C-ABA3-7105571712F91141&killnav=1

$9.49 for 4-Pack of Holiday Sprinkles

Soothe their Soul…and their Feet

I have been in the mood for coziness, relaxing and soothing lately.

I suspect I am craving it because it is NOT on the “to-do” list. I have been finishing the Road Trip Ramblings which, chronicled my recent Road Trip with my kids and I have been busy creating recipes for summer gifts because I am feeling the pressure that summer is “almost over”.

I also have a family birthday party to plan, am trying to figure out how to pickup the house so that it feels organized-before the season changes and I am overwhelmed by the change of clothes, decorations and school business again. I also really really want to sit and enjoy looking through the 2 foot pile of magazines and catalogs that has grown like a weed in the last 2 months and is my major source of inspiration for the gift ideas that I share with you. That stack was supposed to be part of the fun of running my blog, but it is outta hand now and it feels more like homework.

So, I really want to curl up on the couch with my iced coffee, some super cozy socks (because even though it is supposed to be summer, it really has not been that warm here in my world) and relaxing jazz playing in the background.

Know anyone on your gift list that feels the same way?

Then they just might be thrilled to get these gifts…it’s a “Perfect Pair”!

http://www.northstyle.com/itemdy00.aspx?ID=1,3043&T1=ND510+CREM+L

$29.95 for Cozy Lounge Socks from NorthStyle

Don’t your feet just drool looking at those socks?
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http://www.amazon.com/Smooth-Jazz-at-Midnight/dp/B000063RTY

$15.98 for “Smooth Jazz at Midnight” CD

Since my relaxing moments usually can’t happen until everyone in my world has gone to sleep, a CD about music at midnight seemed fitting…

Snazzy Summer Table Accessories from Crate & Barrel

I love all things “garden”, except weeds and bugs.

How fabulous are these Seed Packet Plates? They are on sale too!

Procrastination CAN pay off!

http://www.crateandbarrel.com/set-of-6-seed-packet-plates-with-crate/s665607

$19.95 for set of 6 Seed Packet Plates with Crate, sale price

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http://www.crateandbarrel.com/cherry-tomatoes-dishtowel/s190149

$5.95 for Cherry Tomatoes Dishtowel

Love it!

Make a “Perfect Pair” using the plates above and this towel – what a great summer gift!

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http://www.crateandbarrel.com/cherry-lapkin/s158472

$5.95 for Cherry Lapkin

“Tea-rrific” Gifts from Stonewall Kitchen…a “Perfect Pair”

Ok, so the Stonewall Kitchen catalog has sent me on a crazy gift sharing binge just like the Crate & Barrel catalog did. They just really hit the mark in my eyes this season with their goodies and I needed to pass on those fabulous ideas.

Pair one of their tea concentrates with a fun tea towel and you have a gift that is “Tea-rrific” and a perfect pair!

Come on, you know that made you smile…

http://www.stonewallkitchen.com/shop/speciality-foods/beverages/coffee/F5356.html

$9.95 for Tea Concentrates (Half & Half is black tea and lemonade or Blueberry Green Tea)

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$7.95 for Lobster Tea Towel

$7.95 for Pasta Italiano Tea Towel

$5.99 for Forced Bulb Tea Towel, sale price

$7.95 for Coastline Tea Towel

$7.95 for Panini Tea Towel

$4.98 for Cornucopia Tea Towel, sale price

Here is a great way to pick up that fall season gift you will need at a fabulous price…thinking ahead!

Find all of the above tea towels and more at this link

http://www.stonewallkitchen.com/Shop?actn=quickadvancedsearch&numdisp=1000&keyword=tea+towel&searchtype=all&wildcardtype=right&viewall=&filter1=&filter2=&categorypeers=&cgychildren=&actwhennew=&searchCategory=&searchPrice=&searchAttribute1=&searchAttribute2=&searchAttribute3=&sort=&indextype=1

Perfect Pair – Cattail Bird Feeders from Terry’s Village

http://www.terrysvillage.com/cattail-bird-feeder-yard-stakes-a2-96_15540.fltr?prodCatId=163875

$17.98 for set of 2 / sale price

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Add a bag of special bird seed and this Perfect Pair would make a unique gift for someone who enjoys their garden or the spring bird song around!

These Cattail Bird Feeders are large enough so that you can fill them up and enjoy the wildlife.

Perfect Pair – The Hedgehog and the…Travel Soap?

Who would have thought that these two would make a Perfect Pair but they do.

The Hedgehog Dryer Buddies can be a great gift for use at home, but pair them with the Travel Laundry Soap Sheets (both items from the Current Catalog) and you have a far out travel gift.

http://www.currentcatalog.com/LB05.html?AS=1&keyword=hedgehog

$6.99 / for 2 Hedgehog Dryer Buddies: sale price

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http://www.currentcatalog.com/602446.html?AS=1&keyword=laundry

$3.99 for 50 Travel Laundry Soap Sheets

Perfect Pair – 12 inch Toast Tongs and a Delicious Loaf of Bread

I love to give a single gift. To me, the simplicity of that one gift can mean more than a whole pile of gifts.

But I also love to give gift pairs – two gifts that are made for each other. Sometimes they come together easily but often it takes thought and creativity. Ahhhhh the challenge.

So, I have created a gift category called “Perfect Pairs” where I will share my ideas on gifts that go so well together. To start the category I decided on toast tongs and some tasty bread.

A while ago I discovered 12 inch toast tongs and I wondered where they had been all my life. Our kitchen uses a toaster oven over a toaster (do I have to mention the versatility?) and I was forever struggling to get my toast out with the 6 inch tongs. I either burned my hand or had to put too much energy into getting a pot holder. For some reason the toast just always seemed to end up toward the back of the toaster oven.

I use them everyday and want to share them with the world. They would make a great gift in my opinion but a toast tong by itself seems like a lonely gift.

Ah ha! It needs to be paired with another gift – a Perfect Pair. What would be a more perfect match than a delicious loaf of bread? Nothing. They are made for each other.

And think of the possibilities.

Short on time or interest for baking? Pick up a savory or sweet bakery bread or quick bread.

Feel like puttin’ some love into it? Make a delicious bread to give. I love quick breads for the very reason that they are quick, but also versatile (there’s that word again). They are on the top of my list for recipes that can be “tweaked” easily.

This “Perfect Pair” would make a great hostess/host gift.

or

You could purchase multiple toast tongs and make a fabulous take home gift for guests at your dinner party or brunch. Instead of going crazy making breads galore for a crowd you could…

-make mini loafs

-purchase that delicious bakery bread mentioned above

-attach a recipe card to the toast tongs so guests can make their own bread

-get the guests in on the action and have each guest bring a bread to share. They can take a different bread home with them along with a toast tong, and even a recipe card for a bread that you served at your gathering.

Oh, I can see the toast tongs being passed out already! How exciting!

Before I get too carried away with all of the excitement let me share the details…

Here are some 12 inch toast tongs that I like…thin and flexible but longgggggg.

http://www.amazon.com/Reusable-Bamboo-Tongs-Carbonized-Brown/dp/B0077D1PL6/ref=sr_1_4/191-4334331-7547501?ie=UTF8&qid=1397501941&sr=8-4&keywords=bamboo+tongs

$7.88 for set of 3
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To get you in the mood, I am sharing a few of my quick bread recipes too. Feel free to “tweak” them with your own add ins!

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/spice-bread-with-maple-butter
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http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/pecan-lemon-loaf

You can “tweak” this Pecan Lemon Loaf using the following flavor combos instead of Lemon Pecan:

– Orange and Walnut
– Lime and Macadamia Nut

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