These are a few of our favorite things…

Raindrops on roses
And whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings…

With all the gift giving coming up, we thought it would be fun to gather with friends and celebrate our favorite things. Little treats and splurges that make our lives wonderful. Each guest was invited to bring ONE of their favorite items, priced under $20 and wrapped up nicely, to share in a gift exchange.

The more sparkle, the better?

We enjoyed crisp Belgian waffles with fresh fruit and flavored syrups. Hot tea with cold cream and pomegranate mimosas. And of course, each other’s company!

What would you bring?

Soaps, teas, facial oils, sparkling wine, incense, crystal balls, good books, cozy socks? Cream-colored ponies, warm mittens, lively houseplants, scented candles?

Here are some treats shared by our friends:

To Sip & Savor:

  • A big mug to savor your favorite tea, coffee, or as one guest likes to use hers for: CEREAL! {“You’ve never had cereal until you’ve eaten it out of a mug.” –Lori} These bubble mugs are from Polish Pottery, one of our friend Andrea’s go-to stores for gift giving. Check to see if you have a store local to you, or you can purchase online.
  • Roasted rosemary cashews, purchased from a local deli (although you could certainly make your favorite treat!) {Nancy brings these to any special gathering for an unexpected treat.}
  • Gourmet chocolate bars from ethical sources, like Askinosie Chocolate in Springfield, MO {I love that they pay fair wages and don’t exploit children. –Lyndsey}
  • Cocktail ingredients, including Luxardo cherries and Bittermilk No.3 Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour Cocktail Mix {All you need to add is some Jameson. –Miriam}
  • Favorite teas like Harney and Sons Tea – Hot Cinnamon Spice {I love this flavor so much I buy it in bulk! –Erica}
  • Gift cards to your favorite coffee shop {You gotta love coffee! –Missy}
  • And a Milk Frother to take your drinks to the extra level! {“They don’t seem like much, but they are the BEST things to have! –Christa}

For the Home

  • Iridescent Votive Candle Holders {I’m so obsessed with opal glass right now. –Stephanie}
  • Fairy Lights & battery operated tea lights {So your house can feel hygge all the time. –Stephanie}
  • Houseplants! {Specifically, a split philodendron} {“Can you have too many plants?” –Alex}
  • Bottle Brush Trees {“I’m obsessed! I have these for all seasons. –Ricci}
Ricci’s Christmas collection of Bottle Brush Trees

For pampering your pretty self

For the hostess with the mostess

So next question…what are some of your favorite non-thing things?

  • Reading by firelight
  • Late night dinner with friends
  • Sunny autumn walks
  • Skipping work to have tea (and mimosas) with friends
  • Breaking out the holiday decorations each year
  • Looking through old photos
  • A well-loved cookbook and making recipes from it
  • Doing something creative
  • Working on a jigsaw puzzle
  • A long hot bath
  • Going to the movies
  • The smell of brownies baking
  • Driving around looking at Christmas lights
  • Warm towels out of the dryer

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Working Girl Cake

I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to Cakes. Birthday cakes, baby cakes, wedding cakes, cookie cakes, naked cakes, drip cakes, vintage cakes, meringue cakes…you name it, I’ve pinned it. I have the best intentions of making Nicole and I the most grandiose, sparkling and macron themed birthday cake, but then every year our birthday pops up OUT OF NOWHERE and I just make us cocktails.

This past weekend I hosted a baby shower and I had all intentions of making the most grandiose sparkling blueberry drip cake, and then as everything else, the date popped up OUT OF NOWHERE. Bound and determined to still make a cake, but knowing I didn’t have time with my 438 jobs I currently have, I had a creative working girl solution.

I found an inspiration photo on Pinterest.

Then, I ordered (from a local grocery store) a 3 tiered chocolate cake that was just iced. No piping. No decoration. Just iced. It was $17. That is the greatest time and mess saver and I will never, ever bake a cake again after coming up with this genius plan.

blankcake.jpg

Then, I made a ganache. It’s easy. Equal parts chocolate and heavy whipping cream. Melt slowly in the microwave with 25 second increments until melted and smooth.

ganache

Next, the drizzle. Spoon it around the edges of the cake to give it the drip look. Mine got a bit wonky on some spots, but that’s the charm of home made.

drizzle

Then, fill in the top.

berries

Since it was a baby boy shower, I decided to top the cake with blueberries and blackberries. Just pile them on. No rhyme or reason.

final

Tada! They will think you worked days in the kitchen, when in reality, it was more like 15 minutes. And all under $25. They will love it. Here’s proof.

alldone

***

If you are a more tactile, flip-through-the book kind of baker, here are some of my favorites from my home collection:

Butter Celebrates!: Delicious Recipes for Special Occasions

Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes From a Little Neighborhood Bakery

How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking

The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook