Two Last Minute Gifts From The Kitchen

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Two fun gifts that require very little time, but pack a big punch! Don’t forget to package them in reuseable containers!

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Everything Bagel Topping Mix
makes 2 cups

What you need:
1/3 cup black sesame seeds
1/3 cup onion flake
1/3 cup garlic flake
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1/3 cup flake salt

What to do:
In a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add all the ingredients and stir together. Cook, stirring constantly until spices start to become fragrant. Remove from heat to a bowl and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Uses:
•Sprinkle over a poke bowl •Top a fried egg •Mix into coleslaw •Sprinkle on a salad •Season roasted vegetables
•Make a compound butter •Sprinkle on a bloody mary •Sprinkle on avocado toast •Season popcorn •Sprinkle on mac and cheese.
•Sprinkle on fried rice •Sprinkle over white rice •Sprinkle over a hot dog •Season grilled vegetables
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Tipsy-Spiced Cherries

What you need:
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cinnamon sticks
1 stem fresh rosemary (optional)
1 ¼ cups Gosling’s Black Seal® Rum
12 ounces frozen Sweet Black Cherries, thawed

What to do:
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar and 1 ¼ cups water. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the cayenne pepper, cinnamon sticks, rosemary (optional) and rum. Cool slightly. Add cherries and let stand 30 minutes. Remove rosemary stem. Store in airtight jars and refrigerate for 3 days before using. Will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 months.

Uses:
•Spoon over ice cream •Make a Rum Old Fashioned •Use cherries for a Tipsy Black Forest Cake •Spoon onto chocolate mousse.

 

DIY: Felt Fortune Cookie Ornaments

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Tie on a package or holiday tree or my favorite…a Chinese takeout container filled with homemade sprinkle fortune cookies! 
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Felt Fortune Cookie Ornaments
makes 1

What you need:
Felt Scrap (6″x 6″), I like to use a heavier weight felt
Ribbon, I used a printed holiday ribbon but you can use a blank ribbon and write your own message on it
Embroidery thread
Adornments like small beads and pom poms
Needle
Scissors
Pencil
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Step 1: Cut the felt. 
Using an item that is a 6-inch diameter (I used a bowl), trace around it with a pencil onto the piece of felt. Cut out circle.
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Step 2: Cut the ribbon.
Cut a piece of ribbon that is 2-inches larger than the circle.
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Step 3: Fold the Fortune Cookie. 
Place the ribbon (fortune) in the middle of the felt circle and fold in half. Hold/pinch the half circle at the top of the arch with two fingers. Use the other hand to push the bottom flat side in toward the top causing a crease and creating the fortune cookie shape. At this point you can hold the two ends together. If you need a more guided tutorial, watch my video HERE at :46.
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Step 4: Sew ends together. 
Using the needle and colorful embroidery thread, sew a stitch to keep the ends of the fortune cookie together. At this point, you have officially made a Felt Fortune Cookie! I love this idea for a place card or to use hundreds of them for a fun tablescape!
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Step 5: Make it an ornament (if you like). 
Using your needle and thread, knot one end and thread through the top of your fortune cookie. Thread on a bead and pom pom and tie a loop at the top.
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Hang your ornament on a holiday tree, tie it on a present or do what I LOVE TO DO and let it adorn a colorful Chinese takeout container that’s filled with easy to make SPRINKLE FORTUNE COOKIES.
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DIY: Candy Cane-inspired Holiday Table

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

A simple red and white candy cane inspired this fabulously festive (and fun) holiday table! It checks all the boxes…inspirational (yes), attainable (YES, anyone can do it) and affordable (yes, minimal dollars spent).

Here’s How You Can Do It!
Step 1: Make a Tablecloth (create a woven ribbon “tablecloth”)
Lengths of inexpensive holiday ribbon were cut to run the length of the table and taped securely under the edge. My table was white so I love the idea of using the white as part of the pattern, so I left space between the ribbons. Then going the width of the table more of the same ribbon was cut as well as widths of a coordinating bandana ribbon. Then the ribbon was woven (under and over/alternating) into the already taped ribbon. Once each piece has been woven, adhere under the edge with tape.
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Step 2: Make a Centerpiece (we made “kissing balls” out of starlight mints). I hot glued starlight mints onto a varying sizes of styrofoam balls that had been painted with red craft paint (optional). You could also use other soft candy and pin the candy to the styrofoam ball with long straight pins.  Soooo much fun drama. The balls were placed on old milk glass as holders for elevation and some just on the table.
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Step 3: Set the table.
Since the woven ribbon tablecloth and centerpieces are so over-the-top, I wanted to keep the place setting fairly neutral. I used hand thrown white dinner plates, simple white-handled flatware, clear tall cut-glass water glasses and pink champagne glasses. To bring the bandana ribbon into the rest of the setting, I used a ric-rack trimmed red bandana from the Yum Yum Smile Shop as each napkin. For the name card, I wrote my guests name on white paper cut into a tree shape and tied it onto a peppermint stick with red and white baker’s twine.
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Finally, add a little extra candy cane flare with candy canes as glass “garnishes”.
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DIY: BIG WOW Handmade Holiday Garland on a Budget

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Location: The Paxton House

Need a show stopping garland for your staircase bannister? I did this recently for a holiday launch party for my Yum Yum Smile Shop culinary salon line at The Paxton House in Thomasville, GA. Decorating is easy when you start with a beautiful place like The Paxton House –an historic inn that is modern and colorful and cool like its owners Carol and Charlie. The goal was to create a big WOW when guests arrived that was inspirational, attainable and affordable (the three most important things when I set out to design an event). I used solid colored wrapping paper and stuck with pink ribbon to coordinate with the Yum Yum Smile Shop feel, but you could use anything! I’d love this in paper of big buffalo plaid checks or vintage holiday papers or fancy metallic papers. Your imagination is the most important thing you’ll need, the rest is easy. Here’s how I did it.

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What you need: 
Yardage of ribbon for bannister wrap and packages (I used two different colors of satin ribbon, but you could use all the same color)
Empty Cardboard Boxes (varying in size), The lighter the box the better!
Wrapping Paper
Fresh Greenery with long branches, I gathered various kinds of greens from the garden. (you could use artificial…but why?) (PS, you’ll need a lot)
Scissors
Tape

What to do:
1. At the top of your bannister, tie one end of a roll of satin ribbon and working your way down the steps, TIGHTLY wrap the ribbon around the bannister. Tie it securely at the bottom of the bannister.
Note: I used satin ribbon so I wouldn’t harm the historic staircase in any way. If you wrap the ribbon tight enough around the bannister, it will stay secure enough to hold the weight of the boxes and greens very easily.
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2. Determine how many packages you’ll need for the size of your bannister and based on the size of your boxes. Wrap your packages and tie each with a satin ribbon that has been tightly crossed in the back and brought to the top to tie in a bow. You’ll need the ribbon secure to the package when attaching to the bannister.
3. Cut one 18″ piece of ribbon for each package you wrap. (you may need more for larger boxes, but wait until you get that far)
4. Working from the top and smallest to largest box, use the extra piece of ribbon you cut and thread it through the cross of ribbons on the bottom of the package. Then, thread it through the ribbon you have tightly wrapped around the bannister. Wrap it around the bannister and tie it off in a tight bow to hold the package in place (make sure to tie them off going different directions, they will naturally fall into place). You may see this ribbon, so make it pretty!
5. Continue tying packages onto the bannister (leaving a few inches in between and increasing the spacing as you move down the bannister).
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6. Thread your greens through the ribbon wrapped around the bannister in between the packages. Trim any long branches so they don’t stick out. Also, add a few greens to the top of your packages, it will look like the greens are growing all over the gifts! Make sure to go down the steps and look at the greens from all angles. Fill in any holes you see with greenery.
7. As a bonus (which I didn’t have time to do for this event). I would love to see a stack of packages at the bottom of the steps (on the bannister side).
8. Not only was this a gorgeous and inspiring focal decoration, it served as a great “backdrop” for party pics from the event! Here’s my hostess Carol Whitney in her pink velvet blazer. The coolest innkeeper in all the land.
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DIY: Blueberry Baseball Centerpiece

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Location: The Loft at Straton Hall Events

When you have a box full of baseballs leftover from a previous event and your “Pork and Berries” dinner needs a centerpiece…you make blueberry baseballs! #homerun

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Blueberry Baseball
makes 1

What you need:
1 Baseball
Newspaper
Scissors
Blue, white, and black paint
Masking Tape
White glue
Water
Paintbrushes
Paper Towels
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What to do:
1. Mix equal parts white glue and water in a small bowl. While that mixes, cut the newspaper into half inch strips. Then, cut the strips into small 1-2 inch pieces. Use the masking tape to create a “lip” on one side of the blueberry…this will be the top of your blueberry. Paint the mixture onto the baseball, place one piece of newspaper on the baseball. Continue one by one until ball is completely covered. Allow to dry completely.
Pro Tip: We made a “stand” out of rolled up foil for the balls to dry on.
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2. Mix white, black and blue paint together to make a perfect blueberry color. Cover the entire baseball blueberry in the blue color. Allow the blueberry to dry completely. Save leftover paint, you’ll use it soon!
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3. Mix black paint with a slight amount of white paint. Using a thin brush, paint a primitive star in the lip at the top of your blueberry. Allow to dry.
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4. Add a bit more white to the saved blueberry blue paint mixture. Wet a paper towel and dip it into a slight bit of paint and pat the color all over the sides of the blueberry. Let dry overnight.
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Thats it! Gather some trimmings from your Blueberry Bush (or any tree outside), lay the branches down the center of your table. Add in your blueberry baseballs and fresh blueberries if you like.
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