Tag Archives: recipes

Thanksgiving Host & Hostess Gifts

For many people, Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. I love holidays, so it’s hard for me to have just one favorite, but Thanksgiving is a great choice. Whether your gathering is large or small, family or friends (or both!), it’s a time to be loved, be thankful and hopefully enjoy really, really great food.

From the turkey, to the stuffing, the cranberry sauce and all the trimmings, getting ready to entertain at Thanksgiving should probably be an Olympic sport! So in honor of your host or hostess, these are my favorite gifts this Thanksgiving.

8 Thanksgiving Host & Hostess Gifts

1. Fresh Seasonal Wreath

Magnolia Woodsy Wreath

A fresh seasonal wreath is a beautiful and unexpected twist on the traditional gift of flowers. Plus, there’s the added bonus that a well-made wreath should last through the December holidays.

Many local florists will create and customize a fresh seasonal wreath, or you can order a handmade artisanal wreath like this one, available from Creekside Farms: Magnolia Woodsy Wreath

2. Donate a Wreath

Wreaths Across America

I have a special place in my heart for the Wreaths Across America organization. In 2014, they placed a fresh wreath on all 226,525 graves at Arlington National Cemetery and a total of 700,000 wreaths at locations worldwide.

You can sponsor a single wreath for as little as $15. Wreaths can be sponsored in honor of/memory of a servicemember, or simply sponsor a wreath in thanks for the freedom to spend this Thanksgiving day with your loved ones.

Don’t forget to express this thanks, and share your sponsorship of a wreath, in a handwritten note to your host or hostess.

Available from Wreaths Across America: Sponsor a Wreath

3. Bring the Sauce

Wigle Whiskey

Create a little gift basket with the makings of a signature cocktail. And don’t forget to include the recipe! Thanks to Miss Martha Stewart, you can put the sauce in ‘cranberry sauce’ with her Cranberry Old Fashioned.

I always advocate using craft spirits and in Pittsburgh we have the very popular Wigle Whiskey.

Available from Wigle Whiskey: Organic Pennsylvania Bourbon

I love the combination of orange and cranberry and Wigle’s orange bitters should really enhance the orange zest in Martha’s recipe!

Available from Wigle Whiskey: Organic Pomander Orange Bitters

4. Fabulous Hand Soap

Lemon Verbena Hand Wash from Maison Apothecare

If your host or hostess has been spending a lot of time in the kitchen preparing the nosh and nibbles, a gentle and great smelling hand wash is a perfect choice. I recently purchased this lemon verbena hand soap and I LOVE it!! It smells amazing and it doesn’t dry out your hands.

Available from Maison Apothecare: Lemon Verbena Hand Wash

5. Honeyed Walnuts

Honeyed Walnuts

There is just something about a honey bear!

This little guy is filled with whole walnuts soaked in 100% natural Amish honey. A special treat delicious on cheese, ice cream or fresh fruit…and I’m pretty sure even eating them right out of the jar is fabulous.

Available from Alex’s Meats: Honey Bear Walnuts

6. Bring the Conversation

Table Topics from UncommonGoods

Whether you’re attending a family Thanksgiving or a gathering of friends, it’s always good to have some conversation starters in your back pocket. And ok, so this cube likely won’t actually fit in your back pocket, but it does come in a variety of themes (Foodies, Family and Happiness, just to name a few) and each cube contains 135 conversation starters.

Available from UncommonGoods: Table Topics

7. Exotic Sea Salt

Breakaway Matcha Tea Sea Salt

A fun treat to spice up their kitchen pantry. Matcha tea is definitely one of the ‘it beverages’ right now. Put an unexpected twist on it with this hand-blended combination of matcha tea and French sea salt. Even the packaging is extraordinary with the use of a beautiful violet-black glass jar.

Available from Breakaway Matcha: Breakaway Matcha Salt

8. Herbal Tea

Tea: Red Rooibos Chai Masala

Give your host or hostess a gift to enjoy after the guests have gone home and they can sit back and revel in the beautiful gathering they created. This unexpected twist on Chai is made with red rooibos tea instead of black tea with the addition of vanilla for a hint of natural sweetness.

Available from Miss Tea Organics: Red Rooibos Chai Masala

Gift Ideas That Are Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

9 Pumpkin Spice Gift Ideas

It’s that time of year, you can smell it in the air…that’s right, it’s time for EVERYTHING pumpkin spice.

And while just the words “pumpkin spice” are fodder for countless internet memes and eye rolls, we all have those friends who genuinely and passionately looove their PSL and all things pumpkin spice.

So in honor of my college roomie and all of the other PSL (that’s pumpkin spice latte, if you’ve been living under a rock 😉 ) fanatics out there, I am dedicating this list of gift ideas to Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice. These are not gag gifts to mock your PSL-loving friends. There is nary a pumpkin pie spice pringle, pumpkin spice breath freshener, or pumpkin spiced pumpkin seed (clever Trader Joes, clever) on this list.

I give you simply, pumpkin spice awesomeness to delight and surprise your pumpkin spice loved ones.

9 Gift Ideas That Are Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

1. Pumpkin Body Scrub

Body Scrub from Simple Sugars

Let’s start with a little pumpkin pampering.  Lani at Simple Sugars has a passion for creating all-natural skincare products with the highest quality ingredients. This featured autumn scent is not just loaded with pumpkin antioxidants, it will leave your skin “glowing brighter than a jack-o-lantern on Halloween”!

Available from Simple Sugars: Pumpkin Body Scrub and Pumpkin Facial Scrub

2. Pumpkin Spice Creamed Honey

Pumpkin Spice Creamed Honey from Vintage Bee

Honey is such a universal sweet treat and this is pure raw honey blended with organic pumpkin and spices. You can add it to your coffee for a luxurious take on PSL, spread it on toast, drizzle on a sweet potato (yum!!) or even glaze a ham. You can pumpkin spice your whole pantry 😉

Available from Abe’s Market: Vintage Bee Pumpkin Spice Creamed Honey

3. Pumpkin Porter Ale Candle

Pumpkin Porter Ale Candle from 1820 House Candle Co.

There are no shortage of pumpkin spice candles available in stores, but those just don’t compare to the sense evoking awesomeness of true artisans like Melissa at 1820 House Candle Company.

The Pumpkin Porter Ale candle is a combination of  “heirloom pumpkins, cardamom and a bit of boozy spice.”

Available from 1820 House Candle Company: No. 19 Pumpkin Porter Ale

4. Pumpkin Whiskey Men’s Aftershave

Jack O Lantern Pumpkin Whiskey Aftershave

First of all, can I just say how much I love this packaging! If Andy used aftershave I’d buy this just for how it would class up our bathroom 🙂

Inside the bottle is where the real magic lives. Jenni at the Nevermore Body Company creates this aftershave with fabulous skin pampering ingredients like witch hazel and green tea extract, finishing it with the scent of sweet pumpkin and whiskey.

Available from Etsy: Jack O Lantern Pumpkin Whiskey Aftershave

5. Pumpkin Hot Sauce

Sgt Pepper's Picante Pumpkin Hot Sauce

Sgt. Pepper puts some real spice into their love of Pumpkin Spice. This sweet and spicy hot sauce is a blend of chipotle peppers and pumpkin puree. Pour it over some cream cheese or baked brie and stand back when the PSL fanatics come running.

Available from The Carolina Sauce Company: Sgt. Pepper’s El Chipotle Picante Pumpkin Hot Sauce

6. Pumpkin Pie Tea

Pumpkin Pie Tea: Tupelo Honey Teas

I am a big fan of Danielle from The Tea Loft here in Pittsburgh. For fall she has created a chai blend that includes sweet cinnamon and nutmeg.

Where is the pumpkin you ask? Be sure to check out her recipe for including agave, pumpkin puree and whipped cream in her freshly brewed tea!

Available from Tupelo Honey Teas: Pumpkin Pie Tea Blend

7. Pumpkin Marmalade

Mandarin Pumpkin Marmalade from Earth & Vine

I think I was hungry when I created this list 🙂 This 100% all natural marmalade combines sweet mandarin and earthy pumpkin into silky bliss.  They offer several amazing serving suggestions on their website, but I say we all pass ‘Go’ and head directly for the Mandarin Pumpkin Monte Cristo Sandwich. Make that little bit ‘o heaven for your PSL loving friend and watch them swoon.

Available from Earth & Vine Provisions: Mandarin Pumpkin Marmalade

8. Pumpkin Spice Olive Oil

Pumpkin Spice Olive Oil: Queen Creek Olive Mill

The Queen Creek Olive Mill in Arizona creates this limited edition festive oil for the Fall Season. It would be a great addition to any gift basket, cheese plate or as a hostess gift during the Fall holidays.

Available from Queen Creek Olive Mill: Pumpkin Spice Olive Oil

9. Pumpkin Spice T-shirt

Pumpkin Spice is My Catnip: tshirt

I couldn’t resist including this t-shirt in my gift list. I think this is a great analogy for what these scents do to our pumpkin spice loving friends.

Available from HUMAN: Pumpkin Spice Catnip T-shirt


Now let’s all sit back with our own steaming cup of pumpkin spice latte and update our giftbug registries. 93 days until Christmas!

Gift Guide For The Bacon Lover

September 5th is International Bacon Day. One of the best smelling holidays of the year – I mean, are there many things that smell better than bacon cooking?? 🙂

And most of us love bacon (I think even vegetarians love bacon, they just have great restraint.) And so for the people who love bacon and the people we all know who loooooove bacon, a gift guide for the bacon lover.

Bacon makes everything better

9 Gift Ideas For the Bacon Lover In Your Life

*because 8 ideas just wasn’t enough

1. “B is for Bacon” Onesie

Onesie: B is for Bacon

If  “A is for Apple”, I think on balance it’s okay if “B is for Bacon.” Start ’em young with this onesie.

Available from Zulily: ‘B is for Bacon’ Bodysuit – Infant

2. Outlaw Soaps: Bacon, Whiskey and Coffee Set

Outlaw Soaps

For those who can’t stand to be away from their bacon, we bring you bacon that you can take in the shower. It looks like bacon, it smells like bacon, but it tastes nothing like bacon. So don’t eat the soap! These handmade bars do not actually contain any meat. They are in fact vegan (but maybe don’t tell the bacon lover that part.) These soaps will leave the skin silky smooth and dare we say, “bacony-delicious and kissable.”

Available from ThinkGeek: Bacon, Whiskey and Coffee Soap

3. T-shirt: Love, Peace & Bacon Grease

Tshirt: Love, Peace & Bacon Grease

For those who want to wear their love of bacon proudly on their chest.

Available from Etsy: Love, Peace & Bacon Grease T-shirt

4. Maple Bacon Morning Coffee

Maple Bacon Coffee

Caffeinated bacon. A medium roast, maple bacon flavored coffee, made with Direct Trade beans from Nicaragua.

Available from Boca Java: Maple Bacon Morning Coffee

5. Cast Iron Bacon Press

Williams Sonoma Bacon Press

Adorable and functional…and heavy enough to even be a weapon if someone’s trying to steal your bacon.

Available from Williams-Sonoma: Cast-Iron Bacon Press

6. Bacon Bouquet

Our Best Bites blog: Rose Bouquet DIY

The world would be one step closer to perfection if bacon roses grew in the ground (heck, I might even garden.) But luckily the world gave us blogs like Our Best Bites to create easy step-by-step instructions for creating this bouquet of meaty love.
*Some (and by some, I mean all) assembly required*

DIY Instructions Available from Our Best Bites: How to Make a Bacon Bouquet

7. Bacon Infused Vodka

Bacon Vodka Bloody Mary Recipe

Their tagline pretty much says it all: Pure. Refreshing. Bacon.

*Click on the image for a larger view of their Bloody Mary recipe*

Bakon Vodka is available from many local distributors, or can be purchased via mail-order from select distributors. Click here for for information.

8. Cookbook: 101 Things To Do With Bacon

Cookbook: 101 Things to Do With Bacon

With recipes like Bacon Reubens, Skillet Bacon Cornbread, Crispy Bacon Fried Rice, Maple Bacon Drumsticks and Chocolate-Glazed Bacon Brownies you will always have options (approximately 101 of them) to celebrate your bacon lover.
*Also recommended for getting out of the doghouse.

Available from Amazon: 101 Things To Do With Bacon

9. T-shirt: I Like Pig Butts

Tshirt: I Like Pig Butts

Yes, I know. I KNOW. I know bacon doesn’t exactly come from the butt of the pig (thank you Good Eats for all of those chalkboard diagrams.) But(t), I’ll bet you a dollar that your bacon lover will love this shirt.

Available from Etsy: I Like Pig Butts T-shirt

Let us know about any favorite bacon gifts that didn’t make our list and don’t forget to update your giftbug registry with all of this bacon-y goodness.


Margaritas and Pool Toys – A Gift List

For anyone who follows my Instagram feed, you may have noticed my recent trip to Oklahoma to do some dog sitting for my cousin Andrea and her fiance Mark. This was a team effort with my Aunt Randy and my other cousin Paula. We took very good care of the puppies – in fact we’ve been accused of spoiling them.

photo of a spoiled Tucker

Now, while we took our duties seriously, we also seriously enjoyed the backyard pool and perfecting our margarita recipe 🙂

So as I sit here back in Pittsburgh, missing my time lounging by the pool with a margarita in hand – I’m inspired to create this latest gift list. I might even share our margarita recipe with you 😉

Margaritas and Pool Toys – A Gift List

1. Bocce Splash

bocce splash pool game

If you love lawn bocce (and who doesn’t?!), you’ll love Bocce Splash. In this aquatic version of the backyard classic, the ‘jack’ or target is floating on the surface of the pool and players skip their bocce disks across the surface of the water attempting to land them on the floating target. I was admittedly pretty bad at this game, but that didn’t diminish the fun factor!

Available from Creative Kidstuff: Bocce Splash

2. Cornhole – The Pool Version

Chuck-O Splash - a pool game

Cornhole? Yes, that’s what I called it. If, like I once was, you are unfamiliar with this oft used term from the tailgating lexicon – it’s your basic bean bag toss. The pool floating version is a lot of fun – and I was pretty good at this one 🙂 It’s actually much harder than your traditional backyard or tailgating version, as the target likes to float away, especially when hit with projectile bean bags.

Available from Wayfair: Chuck-O Splash

3. Pool Jousting

Inflatable Pool Joust Set

Gladiators Ready!

I missed out on playing with this one, but it looks AWESOME 🙂 I’m making a return visit next year just so I can hit my cousin Paula in the head with an inflatable jousting stick while floating on a plastic log. Does family fun getting any better than that??

Available from Urban Outfitters: Joust Pool Game

4. Pool Darts


“The classic lawn game – now for the pool!” Based on the game of lawn darts or jarts, the darts are tossed underhand in an arching motion towards the floating target. My success at this pool game? Let’s just say that I won’t be going pro anytime soon – but it’s definitely a blast to play.

Available from Amazon: Jarts Splash

5. Margarita Drink Rimmer

Margarita drink rimmer

“Fab-u-lous!” is the word I would use to describe this little invention. Part of a margarita’s magic is that tart-salty combination of the lime juice in the margarita and a perfectly salted glass rim. This little dandy would be a welcomed addition to any margarita lover’s bar setup.

Available from Lime Tree Cove: The Barmaid Drink Rimmer

6. Margarita Glasses

margarita glasses from crate and barrel

Handcrafted, recycled and rustic, these classic margarita glasses give a new purpose to glass from recycled tequila bottles. And it doesn’t hurt that Crate and Barrel describe them as ‘generously sized’ 🙂 Time to whip up a batch of ‘ritas!

Available from Crate and Barrel: The Garcia Margarita Glass

7. The Margarita Recipe

A margarita recipe

Here it is, friends. There’s no denying that it’s a slightly unusual recipe, to begin with one of our party-goers isn’t a big tequila fan (so you could certainly swap out the vodka for more tequila). I encourage you to try it our way first, and let me know what you think!

If you saw something on this list that brings out the kid in you (the pool jousting kit, perhaps), don’t forget to update your giftbug registry. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a pool of your own but, say maybe your neighbors do, we think you’ll be more likely to get a return invite when you show up bearing fun pool toys like these!

Grown-up Gifts for Dad

Father’s Day is just a week away. And if you’re like me, it’s been more than a few years since you could get away with a nice macaroni necklace or your cute face emblazoned on the side of a coffee mug. So what to get Dad when you’re a grown-up? We’ve got you covered with these great ideas for Father’s Day gifts from adult kids.


5 Ideas for Father’s Day Gifts from Adult Kids

1.  A Hulu Plus Gift Subscription

huluCatch Dad up on all of the great shows that you’ve loved over the years. Now that he has all of this free time and no more karate tournaments or soccer matches filling his evenings – he can get sucked into the addictive world of JJ Abrams’ Lost.

The Perfect Gift for TV Lovers – a Hulu Plus gift subscription

2.  The Good Liquor

Cocktail Recipe - Old Fashioned

Does your Dad have a favorite cocktail? Introduce him to a local distiller of his signature spirit. Small batch distilleries are popping up in cities of all sizes. In Pittsburgh, hometown of giftbug, we have a number of talented artisans brewing their local spirits:


Maggie’s Farm Rum – a great summer mojito
Boyd & Blair Vodka – shaken not stirred for a classic martini
Wiggle Whiskey – the perfect start for my Dad’s fave – the Old Fashioned

3.  Indestructible Work Pants

Duluth Trading Co. - Firehose Work Pants

It seems every time I call home (and my folks will say that’s not often enough), my Dad’s outside working on something. Whether it’s mowing the lawn, changing the oil in one of his toys or fixing something that leaks or creaks, there’s always something to keep him busy and dirty.

This Father’s Day, buy your Dad the last pair of work pants he’ll ever need. Field tested and heroically tough – apparently tougher than an angry beaver.

4.  Grown Up Adventures

If Dad’s the adventurous type, how about surprising him with something unexpected!



5.  Adult Humor

Comedian Don Barnhart Did your dad endure endless knock-knock jokes and hours of G-rated movies? Repay his restraint with tickets to a local comedy club or improv.



Of course, if all else fails, you can always pick up another tie.

Do your parents have just as hard a time picking out gifts for you as you do for them? Make it fun again (for everyone) and create your own gift bug registry.