Dog Treats: Gingerbread

Your pup wants to be apart of Christmas traditions too, that is why I am sharing Jackers favorite Gingerbread Biscuit recipe. It's quick and easy to make and every pup on your street is sure to go crazy for them.

Gingerbread Dog Biscuits
1.5 cups flour* (see notes below)
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup molasses


1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Cover cookie sheets in parchment paper.
3. Mix together all ingredients.
4. Let rest for 15 minutes.
5. Roll out onto a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick.
6. Using holiday themed or bone-shaped cookie cutters (large or small) cut out the cookies.
7. Place on baking sheet and bake for 12-20 minutes depending on size and crispness.

NOTES: You can use all-purpose flour, wheat flour (I do not it gives Jack BAD gas) or oat flour (which is oatmeal broken up in a food processor). I use half all purpose and half oatmeal flour.

** The above recipe is for treats only and should not replace your dog’s regular meal plans. Always check with your veterinarian regarding new additions to your dogs diet.

Simple Sprinkle Cookies

There's a small Italian bakery near my parents house. While they have absolutely amazing cakes, I am a huge fan of their holiday sprinkle cookies. If you know me you know I am a firm believer that anything is better with sprinkles. At a cookie exchange a few years ago one of the girls shared their Italian Sprinkle Cookie recipe with me, and I have been making it ever since. This year I thought I would share the amazing recipe with all of you.

Sprinkle Cookies
1.5 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
dash of salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 egg white, lightly beaten
multi-colored sprinkles


1. Beat butter, and sugar on medium-high for 3 minutes.
2. Add vanilla, almond and egg; beat until smooth.
3. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat until just combined.
4. Use a cookie scoop drop into balls onto a parchment lined baked sheet.
5. Press each ball into disks.
6. Chill disks for 40 minutes (I placed my cookie sheets outside -it's freezing out).
7. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
8. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush tops of cookie disks with the egg white and press into sprinkles.
9. Return cookies to baking sheet.
10. Bake for 10 minutes or slightly brown on the bottom (time varies based on oven) rotating the cookie sheet halfway through.
11. Allow to cool before serving.

How To: Properly Wrap a Present

In high school I worked as a sales assosicate at a Hallmark store. While working at the store I learned a lot about presentation, and how to make gifts look absolutely beautiful. Boxes are probably the easiest things to wrap, so if you’re giving an awkwardly shaped gift, putting it in a box first is the easiest solution. The hard edges allow you to create a tidy and professional-look. Here is how Hallmark taught me how to wrap a gift.

Step 1: Place the box face down on the paper, and pull up the short side and secure it with a piece of tape.
 Step 2: Fold the other side in about an inch.
 Step 3: Secure the folded side to the paper that you already secured down.
Step 4: Turn the present right way up and fold down the overhanging paper against the side of the box that remains exposed.
Step 5: Press in two side folds, smoothing the edges to give a clean finish. Next fold the bottom flap up to cover all the edges creating an envelope effect.
 Step 6: Secure with tape. Turn over and repeat the process for the other side.

How To: Make a Blanket Scarf

Blanket scarves have been trendy for the past few years, and it looks like the trend is here to stay for awhile. While roaming around Joann Fabric I found some absolutely gorgeous fabric that would make a beautiful scarf, and decided to buy two yards and create my very own blanket scarf - all you have to do is fray the edges.

Material List: 
2 yards of your chosen fabric. I used cotton flannel from Joann Fabrics (7.99 /per yard)
Measuring Tape

Step 1: Cut down the width of the fabric to 25” wide (x72” long).  Use the fabric’s plaid grid as a guide when cutting your fabric to help you create straight, clean cuts. 

Step 2: To create on the ends of the scarf, simply remove the fabric’s weft yarns (the yarns that run left to right) along the short side of the fabric. I used a needle to release the yarns. Continue removing yarns until you reach your desired fringe length. I decided on 1 ½” fringe. 

Step 3:
Repeat step 2 on the opposite end of the fabric. You should now have fringe on both of the short sides of the scarf.

 {I cut on the white line}

 {How I pulled up the yarns}

Coffee Swirl Yogurt Bread

One of my favorite family traditions is Christmas morning while unwrapping gifts, my mum would always have a beautiful array of breads, coffee cake, cookies and more. Despite the fact that my brother and I are no longer little, we still enjoy past traditions. We both now bring goodies to add to our Christmas morning breakfast and this year I will be sharing my coffee swirl yogurt bread. If you know me, you know that I absolutely HATE the taste and smell of coffee. However, this bread does not smell or taste anything like coffee - not to mention it's super addicting.

Coffee Swirl Yogurt Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
dash of salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup butter; softened
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup international instant coffee mix (any flavor)
1. Heat oven to 350.
2. Grease and flour the bottom only of a loaf pan.
3. Mix flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder; set aside.
4. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy.
5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6. Beat in flour mixture alternately with yogurt, beating until smooth after each addition.
7. Remove 1 cup of the batter, stir in dry coffee
8. Pour half of the plain batter into the pan.
9. Drop coffee batter by spoonfuls onto batter in pan.
10. Add remaining plain batter.
11. Swirl batters deeply with handle of a spoon for marbled design.
12. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about an hour).
13. Cool 10 minutes.
14. Loosen sides of loaf from pan and set on a wire rack.
15. Cool completely before slicing.

How To: Make the Traditional Tiffany Bow

Besides the little blue box (and what’s inside of it of course) one of my favorite things about receiving a gift from Tiffany & Company is their signature bow. I have never been able to recreate the signature Tiffany bow- that is until now. Over the weekend my mum sat down with me and I took pictures as she recreated the iconic bow on Christmas presents. The bow is actually really simple to create with the steps below.
Step 1: Leaving at least half a box's length of ribbon at the bottom of the box, place the ribbon at the center of the bottom of the box and hold with your thumb.
Step 2: Wrap the ribbon once around the box. Place the second piece of ribbon under your thumb as well.
Step 3: Fold the ribbon over your thumb to go around the box at a 45 degree angle. Keep going until you go around the box once.
Step 4: Tuck the ribbon under and back across the ribbon you were holding with your thumb.
 Step 5: Center and tighten the ribbon.
Step 6: Now just like you learned in elementary school make two "bunny ears" and tie them together. Play with your bow until you like how it looks. 

DIY Shortbread Sugar Cookie Bouquet

Impress your friends and family this Christmas with a cookie bouquet. They look super cute as a centerpiece or just sitting out for your guest to snack on. Not to mention they're so simple to make! You'll want a container to put the cookies in as well as foam for the sticks to go into. Don't forget to add rice to the bottom of the container so it doesn't fall over. Add tissue paper to fill in the bouquet. Below you will find my family's recipe for Shortbread Sugar Cookies.

{roll your dough out between two dowel rods} 
{this insures that all of your dough will be the same thickness}
mine were about a 1/2 inch thick
{don't forget to flour your cookie cutter before each cut!}
To insert the stick: Using a spatula transfer the cookie to the cookie sheet. Insert the cookie stick into the bottom of the cookie. Rotating it gently to get it in. Do not handle the cookies by the stick until they are completely cooled.
Shortbread Sugar Cookies
• 1 cup butter 

• 1 cup sugar 
• 1 large egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon almond extract 
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in egg, vanilla and almond. Sift baking powder with flour and add flour mixture to the creamed mixture one cup at a time. The dough will be very stiff. Blend the last cup of flour in by hand. Do not chill the dough. Roll and cut out your shapes. Insert the sticks and bake 8-10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Place cookies on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Be sure not to touch the sticks! Decorate the cookies to your liking.

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers for Him

Husband, boyfriend, brother, dad, let’s face it guys are the worst to shop for. In an effort to help you this holiday season I have decided to share some fabulous stocking stuffer ideas that are perfect for the hard to shop for man on your list.

Corkcicle Chillsner
Anchor Bottle Opener
Knit Tech Gloves
Woven Scarf
The Squad
Packing Cube Set
Food Thermometer

Traditional Pittsburgh Baklava

I spent a few years in Pittsburgh, and while living there I learned some of their traditions. One of them being you can't have a Christmas cookie display without Baklava. Of course, I had to learn how to make this delicious Baklava so I could carry on the tradition no matter where I was living. I figured now would be the perfect opportunity for me to share this amazing recipe with you. What cookie traditions do you have?

1 pound phyllo sheets
3/4 cup melted butter
2 cups finely chipped walnuts
1/ 2 cup sugar
1 /2 tsp. cinnamon
3/ 4 cup sugar
3/ 4 cup honey
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. If phyllo is frozen thaw and separate according to package. Keep pastry that is not being used covered with a clean damp dishtowel (this prevents it from drying out). Place half of the pastry sheets in a greased 15x10 glass baking dish; one by one, brushing each sheet quickly all over with melted butter.
2. Combine nuts, 1 /2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over buttered pastry. Place remaining sheets on top.
3. Score the baklava in the shape you desire (triangle or diamond). Bake at 400 degrees until brown and crisp. 20-30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine remaining 3/ 4 cup sugar, honey, 1 cup water and lemon juice, bring to a boil. Boil syrup for about 20 minutes, stirring constantly until it becomes thick syrup. Cool for 15 minutes and pour over baklava.

2019 Metro Detroit Christmas To-Do List

The holiday season is a little tougher on me this year, you see last year Meeme (my grandma I was ridiculously close to) unexpectedly passed away on Christmas day. Recently, when I have walked into certain stores I have randomly started to cry – as things remind me of her. I am doing my best to make the most of the season, and have made a list of things that I would like to do around the Metro Detroit area. This year I am keeping it small and simple, as I don't want to get completely overwhelmed. What's on your Christmas to-do list.

Check out the lights:
Sherman Woods, Port Huron
Lake Shore Drive - Grosse Point Shores
Big Bright Lightshow – Rochester

Take a step back in time with Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village

Visit the Edsel and Eleanor For House

Head to Downtown Detroit
Go ice skating at Campus Martius
Shop the Holiday Market
Go for a horse drawn carriage ride

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers for Her

Growing up, my brother and I’s stockings were always overflowing, and of course I have kept that tradition going. To be honest, stocking stuffers are my favorite, you never know what you’ll get which makes them a lot of fun to put together. I love throwing in essentials like warm fuzzy socks and underwear and a couple splurge-worthy items like makeup brushes. I’m big on the little things meaning the most, and stockings really let the little things shine.

Michigan Mittens
Car Scentportable Holder
Mini Naked Manicure Kit
Fuzzy Socks
Cuticle Cream
Lip Duos
Single Wick Candle

Gift Guide: Made in Michigan

Small Business Saturday is tomorrow, therefore there is no better time to shop Made in Michigan products then now! I decided to make a list of some of my absolutely favorite brands for you to check out.

Michigan Mittens
Pop Daddy
Marcia's Pickled Munchies
Blake's Products
Dave's Sweet Tooth Toffee