Tag Archives: homemade

Homemade Gifts For Everyone On Your Shopping List

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Homemade Gifts For Everyone On Your Shopping List

Hello!! While store bought presents are always nice, I think we can all agree that there’s something about a homemade gift that just hits different. Homemade gifts are special because someone took the time to craft, cook, or create something just for you. It’s a one of a kind gift that can’t be replicated on any website and that means a lot. Today, we’re going to discuss some homemade gift options as the countdown to the holiday season draws closer so you can wow everyone on your shopping list:

Sweet Treats:

The holiday season is the perfect time to indulge in your sweet tooth before New Year’s resolutions for a healthier lifestyle begins. Chocolate, caramel, or candy apples, trays of cookies, cakes, or homemade chocolate truffles are all an easy and delicious way to go. This will also help your giftee with their holiday feast because dessert will already be taken care of!

Scrapbooks/Photo Albums:

Does your giftee have a million vacation or family photos on their phone that never got printed? Then, a scrapbook or photo album will be a much appreciated gift! Let your crafty side take over with fun backgrounds, cute stickers, and your own happy memories of your giftee to share. Your present will make a lovely addition to any shelf or coffee table and will be able to be enjoyed whenever your giftee feels like taking a stroll down memory lane.

Tech Savvy:

Are you fairly tech savvy and have a business owner as a giftee? How about using your skills to create a social media page or business website for them? Your handiwork will assist in helping their business grow throughout the new year. If your giftee already has a site or social media page, you could offer to manage or update it to keep things fresh and relevant.

Pet Parents:

Do you have some pet parents to shop for? You are in luck because there are so many great homemade options to create. Customized pet bowls, snuffle mats, and homemade treats are all excellent places to start. Or, perhaps your giftee owns a small animal who needs fresh veggies in their diet? You could make a small indoor garden with pots containing herbs and leafy greens. Your favorite Lil Red rabbit owner would definitely love something like that!

Game/Movie Night Bundle:

Does your giftee enjoy hosting movie or game nights? If so, a bundle to assist in their next event could be very easily arranged. In a small gift basket, you could provide all of the fixings for a fun night in. A DVD or board game, snacks, or a homemade throw blanket to snuggle up in will further enhance the festivities. You also just might secure an invite to their next get together. Score! PS: This option can also be modified for a date night if you are shopping for a couple.

No matter what you choose to create for a homemade gift, you are already winning the holidays. I just know that your giftee will appreciate your thoughtfulness and generosity!

What is the best homemade gift that you have received? What kind of gifts have you made before? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Crunch Time Holiday Shopping Tips

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Crunch Time Holiday Shopping Tips

Hello!! I have a huge amount of people on my holiday gift list and I began doing my shopping around the end of August. Because I always allow myself an early start for Christmas present purchasing, I consider now to be my “crunch time” moment – even if we’re not even halfway through November! I consider it a GREAT SUCCESS when all of my shopping is done by early December and I am well on my way to achieving it. To help me out in the fourth quarter, I have been utilizing these tips:

Stop, Look, and Listen:

The information you can get from your giftees simply by listening to them is amazing. For example, my dad volunteered to me the other day that one of his bird baths broke when we were watching his bird feeders from the window. BOOM, that’s one gift down. If gift info isn’t being given freely, you can ask prompting questions or tell stories to get more intel without being super obvious. For example: “Do you ever feel like everything in your house isn’t working?” This could give you a whole litany of things needed from a busted coffee pot to hiring a maid service for the day. Sometimes, it takes some good old fashioned detective work to figure out the perfect present!

Gift Cards Galore:

I have never understood why people call gift cards a “thoughtless” gift because nine out of ten people (Including myself!) freaking love them. Gift cards are great because you can buy exactly what you want and still think of the person who gave you the card. Not to mention that gift card purchases can be beneficial to you too. At my grocery store, Giant Eagle, they have every gift card under the sun available and it gives me rewards points towards my next grocery order. This is all the better if you buy your gift cards during a double or triple point day.

Survey Sites:

I have been a faithful user of the survey site InboxDollars for years. The work is slow going but every couple of months, I get a ten dollar Amazon gift card for my trouble. While this isn’t a huge win, every little bit helps and I always put those earnings towards gift shopping. If you are running low on holiday shopping cash, a couple of days doing surveys or whatever the website is offering like playing games or watching videos can give you a helping hand.

Homemade Gifts:

My favorite gifts of all are homemade ones and there are so many options that are probably cheaper than what you planned on purchasing. I, personally, love receiving Mason jars that are filled with the ingredients to make cookies or soup. Or, if you’re skilled in the kitchen, you could make a tray of holiday treats for your giftees. Paintings, crocheted or knitted accessories, or services like shoveling snow from the driveway won’t cost you anything but your time and will be very well received.

Shop Wisely:

While it can be tempting to wait until Black Friday deals to shop, it can also be a double edged sword. Yes, you might be paying less but what you really want for someone might not be available anymore. This is all up to your discretion but do so wisely. You want to give yourself ample time for presents to be shipped to you as well as time to make an exchange if the item is damaged or not what you wanted. If you have deals on your mind, it might be helpful to use the Honey or Capital One shopping apps so you know that you are always getting the best price for your purchase.

In my world, the Christmas countdown is on and I am SO ready to be done shopping lol. These are the tips that I have been using and it works for me so, hopefully, they will work for all of you too. Happy shopping!

Are you a last minute or early holiday shopper? What homemade gifts do you like to give? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

First Attempt At Homemade Alfredo Sauce

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First Attempt At Homemade Alfredo Sauce

Hello!! I love to cook and try out new recipes and during my last curbside order, Johnny requested fettuccine Alfredo for dinner. I have never made it before but I figured that it couldn’t be that hard! As per ushe, I consulted Pinterest for a recipe and settled on one by Self Proclaimed Foodie. Although I wasn’t blown away with the end result, it was still pretty good. Check it out:

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^^^ Obsessed with my tomato butter! YUM!

The Alfredo sauce recipe by Self Proclaimed Foodie only had four ingredients to it – butter, garlic, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese. I went with this recipe for its simplicity but I think it was a little too simple for my liking. Even after adding parsley, salt, pepper, and way more garlic than necessary, it tasted really bland overall. I definitely plan on making Alfredo sauce again but I think that I will find another recipe for it.

During my next attempt at Alfredo sauce, I will also be steering clear of the Kraft Parmesan cheese! I didn’t even think about buying the thinly shredded kind, which probably would have made a big difference. The Kraft cheese didn’t fully melt down and that gave the sauce a slightly gritty texture. It didn’t make as much of a difference once it was poured over pasta but taste testing from the pot left a lot to be desired!

On the bright side, Johnny ended up really enjoying his requested dinner so that made me happy. I just hate when something I make doesn’t turn out exactly how I want it so here’s to a more flavorful and creamy sauce next time around!

What recipe do you recommend for homemade Alfredo sauce? Have you tried cooking anything new recently? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Homemade Salsa Recipe

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Homemade Salsa Recipe

Hello! My dad’s magnificent garden has been providing an endless supply of tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, and herbs. I tried to ease the burden of putting a dent in his harvest by making some spaghetti sauce. It turned out a bit lackluster but at least I used eight tomatoes with it lol! This past week, my dad and I made salsa together and came up with our own recipe. It turned out great! Check it out:

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Our Recipe:

  • 22 small to medium tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a red onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 of a green pepper, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves pressed garlic
  • 2 cubanelle peppers, finely chopped
  • Very small pieces of serrano pepper – *Warning* they are very hot
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Several sprigs of cilantro
  • Salt and cayenne pepper to taste

I had an absolute blast making this salsa with my dad! I couldn’t tell you the last time we collaborated in the kitchen and it was so much fun to make salsa magic together. The day before we made our concoction, my dad scoured different recipes but we decided to just wing it and see what happens. We delegated different tasks to each other, taste tested along the way, and ended up being really happy with what we came up with.

Salsa is a cool thing to make because you can adjust it as you go to your liking. Whether you want more heat, extra onions, or super garlicky is your prerogative. My dad and I agreed on something more mild after tasting the extreme heat of the serrano peppers from his garden. This was an excellent call because not only was my mouth on fire but my hands burned until the evening just from chopping them. Not to mention the suffering I experienced when I had to take my contacts out. Ouch!!

Minus the serrano incident, I couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon with my dad. We definitely plan on making our salsa again and I hope that all of you enjoy the recipe too!

Do you like to follow recipes or wing it? What do you have growing in your garden? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Accessory Story: Homemade Cuff Edition

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Accessory Story: Homemade Cuff Edition

Hi! For those of you who don’t know, my big girl job is as an independent provider for people with special needs. I have four clients who I see throughout the week and all of them bring so much joy into my life. Each of my clients has their own unique hobbies and I always like to encourage them, especially when there isn’t much else to do right now except hang out at home and perfect their crafts.

Speaking of crafts, one of my clients is very handy when it comes to making homemade jewelry and she created this cuff just for me. Check it out:

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Two of my clients enjoy playing music like the drums and piano and my other two love to craft. Sometimes we will make bracelets, color pictures, or make our own holiday cards. The creator of my new bracelet can often be found working on her dream journal or making jewelry for her loved ones and I was so tickled when she handed me her masterpiece the last time I was at work.

My friend is incredibly generous and she is always thinking about what she can do for others instead of herself. It’s such an admirable trait and she loves being the reason that someone smiles or their day has been “made”. I think everyone can take some notes out of her book and I am proud to have something that she put together with her little old provider in mind. ❤

What is a character trait that you admire? What is your favorite hobby? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Butternut Squash Risotto Recipe

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Butternut Squash Risotto Recipe

Hello! For the past few months Lil Red has spent a majority of her time indoors due to the coronavirus. When you have no access to the outside world, it is way harder than you can imagine to create daily content! Ever since lifewithlilred began over five years ago, I have always encouraged guest bloggers on my page – especially now!

This is why I am so grateful to my sweet friend, Alice, from Alice Rambles for reaching out to me with a tasty recipe for butternut squash risotto. This recipe combines a bunch of my favorite things and I am looking forward to trying it myself. After checking this post out, do be sure to give Alice’s page some love and if you are interested in guest posting on lifewithlilred, please email me at: sarah.mush6794@gmail.com .

Now, let’s get to it:

Butternut Squash Risotto

Hi everyone, my name is Alice (from Alice Rambles). Sarah has very kindly offered to let me write a guest post for her blog, and I thought today I’d share one of my favourite easy recipes – butternut squash risotto!

In the UK, butternut squash are harvested throughout summer and autumn, so this dish not only uses fresh, seasonal vegetables, but it also reduces our food air miles which is always a great thing to consider. This recipe is also easy to adapt for vegetarian and vegan diets and serves four people.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 50g butter (or vegan alternative)
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 300g arborio risotto rice
  • 150ml white wine
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock
  • 50g Parmesan cheese (or vegetarian/vegan alternative), finely grated
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful of sage (fresh or dried)

 

Equipment:

  • Large baking tray
  • Medium saucepan
  • Large wide saucepan or deep frying pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Ladle

Method:

  • Heat your oven to 200°C/gas mark 7. Mix your chopped squash with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and sage. Spread it over the baking tray and roast it for 30 mins, until it’s soft on the inside but slightly coloured on the outside. Mash half of the squash into a rough puree, and leave the other half whole.

  • Next, heat up your stock in the medium saucepan – bring it to the boil first, and then lower to a simmer. In the wide saucepan, melt the butter on a medium heat, then add the onion and cook it slowly until it is soft, but not coloured.

  • Stir the rice into the buttery onions, and keep stirring until the rice is shiny and the grains are starting to become transparent.

  • Pour in the wine, stir it through and simmer until it has all evaporated. Turn the heat down to low, then start adding the stock (one ladle at a time) and stir continuously.

  • Keep going until you’ve used up all of the stock – at this point the risotto should be thick and creamy, with the rice still retaining a bit of bite to it.

  • Stir the squash puree through the risotto, then add the grated Parmesan.

  • Serve, and garnish with the remaining chunks of roasted squash.

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And there you have it, so simple! This recipe is great for when you fancy a nice warming meal and, of course, you can mix it up by adding your own herbs, spices, and flavours if you wish. If you’d like to see more of my posts then do check out my blog (Alice Rambles), and let me know if you give this recipe a try!

Thank you so much again to Alice for sharing her delicious recipe with all of us! What is your favorite kind of risotto? What is one of your favorite seasonal dishes? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Four Fantastic Reasons To Take Up Crafting

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Four Fantastic Reasons To Take Up Crafting

If you’re in the market for a relaxing activity that promises endless hours of fun and satisfaction, you should definitely consider crafting. Why? If the four reasons below don’t convince you, trying your hand at something crafty certainly will. Next time you’ve got some time on your hands, do yourself a favor and give crafting a try:

Curiosity:

One thing that defines all crafty folk is curiosity. You get a kick out of working out how to go about creating something out of its component parts, and it’s not just the intellectual knowledge you hunger for, but the experience. If you’re naturally curious, crafting offers endless opportunities to discover new processes, get your head around intricate designs, and get to grips with different materials. Whether you’re into embroidery or woodwork, once you get started, you’ll discover an endless world of complexity to uncover for yourself.

Be a Gifting Goddess:

Everyone has that friend who reliably produces the most jaw-dropping gifts, which they then reveal were made by hand! With a little crafting expertise, you can be a gifting goddess too. No matter what area of crafting you’re into, chances are you’ll be able to whip up a gift for someone special. If you’re into knitting, woolen gifts always go down as a treat (even the once cringe-worthy Christmas jumper is having a revival these days!). Or, if you’re a baker or cook, why not gift a batch of homemade cookies or a tasty jar of preserves? If you’re new to your craft and are not quite up for full-on gift production, consider other crafty ways to personalize your shop-bought gifts. You could make your own cards, or invest in a punch board and create your own personalized gift bags.

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Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

Crafters Are Forever Young:

Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks? Research has consistently demonstrated that taking up new habits can have a positive impact on the sharpness and adaptability of your mind. Learning new things creates brand-new neural pathways, which work against the natural deterioration of the brain that comes with age. While it doesn’t matter what new things you do, crafts are a great choice because you’re unlikely to get bored with an endless array of new techniques and skills waiting to be mastered.

New Communities:

While crafting can be a rewarding solitary activity, crafters should be aware of the danger of becoming reclusive. If you’re looking for ways to get out there more, getting into a new craft will open up new worlds for you, socially. Learning from others is the best excuse to meet people, and a quick glance online will give you a sense of the local crafting communities available. Even if there are no craft events coming up, you’ll find a thriving online community sharing tips and inspiration, so there’s no need to feel alone. Crafters can be a shy tribe but remember: there are no strangers out there… only friends you haven’t met yet.

Whatever your reasons for taking up crafting, don’t forget the most important benefit of all: crafting simply makes you feel good! Who cares how good your results are. What matters is that you’re enjoying yourself. 🙂

Featured Image By: Jasmin Schreiber on Unsplash

Scarf Series: Knitted With Love Edition

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Scarf Series: Knitted With Love Edition

Hi everyone and happy Hump Day! This is a special edition of my Scarf Series, because the one that I’m discussing today is one of a kind. My newest scarf was handmade by my mom! Despite my mom having no artistic talent in regards to drawing or painting, her creativity shines through in a different manner. She is an expert in her craft of bread baking and always uses the phrase “kneaded with love” so Knitted With Love only seemed like an appropriate title for this post. Take a look:

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Literally no one in my family even knew that my mom knows how to knit until last month when she had a stay in the hospital. The lovely JANE decided that she would like to spend some of her time there knitting, so we took a trip to the absolutely darling Harps & Thistles Yarn Emporium to pick out some materials for her to work with.

At first, I was ambivalent about my mom making me a scarf, because I already have so many and my sister specifically said that she wanted one, so I wanted my mom to focus on that, instead. But then, my mom and I laid eyes on the gorgeous mustard yellow tweed yarn that you can see above. It was the perfect shabby chic, collegiate cool palette and my prior sentiments of “you don’t have to make me a scarf if you don’t want to” instantly turned to “can you PLEASE make me a scarf?!”.

While my mom was away, it was always so exciting to get a text or hear her say on video chat that she was working on my scarf. And when she finally returned home, which was amazing in itself, it was made even more special to see the fruits of her labor for her two girls with a rose pink and mustard yellow scarf. It hasn’t been cold enough in Ohio to wear scarves, any more (Which is great!), but I did get to wear my home made scarf one time and I loved every minute of it. I can’t wait to get more use of it next winter!!

What is your favorite craft to do? Did someone teach you how or were you self taught? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah