Valentine’s “Fishing” Gift for Him

IMG_0940Men are notoriously hard to shop for, and my man is no exception.  I was lucky this Valentine’s Day in that I had a good idea for one gift, and a few “maybe” ideas.  I decided the best way to turn the “maybes” into good V-Day gifts was to match them with something I love about my partner.  And since my partner likes to fish, I thought it would be fun to present them like a fishing game, having him fish for his gifts, even though none of the gifts was actually related to fishing.  😉  The finished product is shown above.  There is some red tissue paper in there but I sort of stuffed it down to cover the gifts and so it wouldn’t just fly up when he pulled out his first gift.  I numbered the papers in order from smallest (in value and excitement level) to largest.  I tied or taped one end of jute to the gift, and taped the corresponding note to the other end of jute and hung them outside the bag.  I underlined the key word in each clue:


My partner isn’t easily impressed or really into this cutesy stuff, but he actually had a fun time reading the clues, guessing the gift, then fishing them out.  I am filing this idea away for other recipients/occasions, as I think the clues and guessing really add to the gifts, even if they are all small and inexpensive.


Merlot Cupcakes

cupcakeAnyone who knows me knows I have a thing for cupcakes.  I like to bake them, eat them, just seeing a cupcake puts a smile on my face!  I try to make at least one batch a month, and I prefer “different” flavors beyond basic chocolate or vanilla.  I like the idea of drunken – or adult – cupcakes, maybe because they combine two of my biggest vices, alcohol and cupcakes!  I’ve made some great margarita ones in the past (bring on the tequila!) that I will most likely make again around Cinco de Mayo.  About a month ago, I was trolling Pinterest (again) and came across this recipe and decided that they would be perfect for Valentine’s Day.

I used this organic cake mix and followed the directions on the box for the milk, oil, and eggs, then added in chocolate chips.  You’ll notice I didn’t add wine to the cakes themselves.  I made a batch for a party in January and followed the linked recipe exactly, adding wine in place of the other liquids.  When I tasted the cake, I didn’t taste wine at all.  My partner, who doesn’t really like wine (I know, right?!?!) said he tasted it and didn’t want anything to do with them after that.  So because to me I felt like not tasting the wine sort of “wasted” it (I used good wine in the recipe), and because my partner was disappointed that he tasted it TOO much, I did not add it in the batter this time.  But I do follow the merlot icing recipe because you DO taste the wine, even for someone with quite an immunity such as myself ;), and it is delicious.  I leave the icing off of a few for my partner and he gobbles them up.  Since I made these as a valentine for friends, I topped each one with a conversation heart, which I had plenty left over from my conversation heart vodka. P.S.- Although I am a cupcake addict, I’m not a great decorator, for me flavor trumps presentation, so I will probably never post a beautifully decorated cupcake that I’ve made, please bear with me on the photos.  🙂

DIY Valentine’s Cocktail Mix Gift


I love themed gifts, and I throw myself fully into all the greeting-card holidays as an excuse to theme away!  For Valentine’s Day, I like to do small but meaningful gifts for my friends and family.  I get lots of good ideas off of Pinterest, since I am a Pinterest troll. 😉 I found a great recipe here for conversation heart infused vodka, and decided that would be my Vday gift this year.



The original recipe calls for a bag of conversation hearts in the brand of your choosing.  I got lucky when I went shopping and saw that Brach’s is selling a bag of only “reds.”  They are actually white, and three shades of pink, but whatever.  Less colors/flavors means less sorting, higher number of hearts of each flavor, and less waste of colors that don’t taste as good.  I started sorting out of the bag, but as the three shades of pink look similar, it was easier to dump them on a white paper towel and sort from there.  When they are all on a white surface, the differences in the colors was more apparent.  Once they were all sorted, I attempted to discern the flavors.  The bag says they are cherry, watermelon, raspberry, and strawberry, but there isn’t a key as to which color is which flavor.  I looked on the Brach’s website and even googled it, to no avail.  It took me two rounds of tasting to come up with the following key, and to be honest, I still am not sure which is raspberry and which is strawberry, they were THAT similar:

White- Cherry

Light Pink- Watermelon

Orange-y Pink- Raspberry

Hot pink- Strawberry



I am giving away one batch, and taking the other three to visit my family for a pre-Valentine’s party.  The batch I am giving away I’m gifting in a mason jar, as pictured.  The recipe calls for 20 hearts per half cup of vodka, I did 3/4 cup to 30 hearts.  I used decent “middle shelf” vodka as it was on sale at my local ABC store.  I also got some cute paper straws from Target, and tags with hearts on them from Michael’s. (See top picture for completed look).  I put the flavor on the front of the tag, and a suggestion to strain it and add to sparkling wine on the back of the tag.  That’s how I plan to consume it with my family.  You can shoot it as is, but it’s a bit sweet for my taste.  One bag of the “reds” was enough for at least two batches of each flavor, but I am saving the other half for another treat.  I actually thought it looked cooler before the hearts dissolved (see below), but they do eventually disappear and turn the liquid the color of the hearts, leaving just a little sediment, which is why I recommend straining before serving.