The Ultimate Gift Guide 2019

Are you struggling to find the perfect gift this holiday season? Well me too! Just Kidding! I would like to think I have come up with the ultimate gift giving guide to help you narrow down your Google searches and hopefully you land here and impressed with the choices I have given you.

New/ Expected parents, I have probably listed this one first because let’s face it, I am still in this category and my toddler is not old enough to “ask” for things so this is my list of things I would hope he asked for to make mommy and daddy’s life easier.

Let’s talk about this portable high chair from the Paper Store,

highchairThis highchair is an easy on the go  chair with how innovative, practical, and portable it is. I loved this thing and still use it today! It cleans so easily and perfect to have just in the back of your car for “just in case” purposes. Not only that it’s so lightweight and fold’s up just like a lawn chair.

This highchair is usually listed at $69.99 at the  Paper Store but if you purchase The Paper Store’s 2019 Exclusive Cardinal Ornament (Only $3.99, in store or online) they will take 20% off your entire order, that’s a $14 savings on a great gift!

Another awesome gift idea for the parents of a toddler and a toddler that just wants to be involved in the kitchen or whatever their parents are doing. The Adjustable Kids Learning Stool, Kids Kitchen Step Stool with Safety Rail-Solid Hardwood Construction from Amazon 

stool

I love this stool for so many reasons! It grows with the child from ages, 18 months to 60 months!

It helps elevate your baby to counter height. Kids can help out in kitchen: baking, mixing, preparing food, cleaning up, or other hands-on situations. It will make your kitchen full of fun! You could also put it in washing room so kids can brush teeth by themselves. It’s 4 feet high and has settings that can help accommodate the average height of a 12 month baby up to a toddler of 6. It’s made from solid hardwood and carefully coated with durable, nontoxic, lead-free coating. Fences around big standing platform(19.5*13 inch), so kids won’t fall out from high place. The dimensions are, 19.5″L x 14.8″W x 37″H. And they are offering a 30 days free return and life time free parts guaranteeThe price point is a little steep at $130 but this isn’t a one season gift, this is something that can be used day after day!

The Home Bodies: Nothing says “home body” like a warm comfy Sherpa weighted blanket! I love anything Sherpa and then you go and add a weighted blanket to it and now I don’t want to leave my bed or couch. Walmart has a great selection and plus their black Friday deals are insane! blanket

Weighted blankets may be used to help people with anxiety, insomnia, ADHD, or autism to relax, sleep, and wake feeling refreshed.

 

 

 

 

Moms: As a mom I never knew how much I would love a set of new and stylish… towels. There I said it! I love when my kitchen and bathroom display adorable linens that go with my decor! I found the most amazing, soft, and stylish towels at Olive and Linen. Their linens are actually Turkish Towels and I am obsessed! Turkish towels are flat woven, lightweight towels that are both beautiful and functional. IMG_7635_395f4640-5a1f-45d4-bddd-c6276b2560e0_1024x1024Also known as peshtemal, fouta or hammam towel, Turkish towels are more compact and versatile than terry looped towels. They can be used as a bath, beach or kitchen towel as well as a picnic blanket, scarf, sarong, tablecloth and even curtains. They are the ultimate go to piece that you will reach for everyday. Olive and Linen are having a great Black Friday deal, everything is up to 75% off with free shipping!

 

Dad’s: Self Charging Wallet. Say that 10 times fast. This ultimate gift for dad or really anyone will have them thanking you for the thoughtfulness. For the minimalist traveler or just someone thats phone is always dying, this slim case has been designed in tannery leather that softens over time. A modern take on the classic wallet, the updated find has four card slots, one cash slot and holds a full charge to keep you connected during busy work-to-play days. It’s also ready for foil-debossed personalization. slim-leather-charging-wallet-c

The wallet is listed for $79 and to add the personalization it’s only an additional $10 but if you use the code: “Friends” you will get $15.80 off your total and it will only be $77.85 with FREE shipping! What a steal!

 

 

 

 

Long Distance Friends/Loves: So you are far away but still want to show each other you are on each other’s mind. The perfect gift for people who are long distance is the awesome, Long Distance Friendship Lamp found at Uncommon Goods

lightsOn the website you have the option to get one ($99) or two ($198), but what I really love about these lamps are that they, light up loved ones’ lives—across town or across the world.  The function is still the same: Touch yours, and theirs emits the same glow to send a little “thinking of you.” Creating a group? You can also assign colors, so each person gets their own special hue.

Grandparents: The truth is grandparents typically don’t “need” or “want” anything than to be around their grandchildren, so to make them feel near their grandchildren all the time the best gifts for them would be anything personalized. You can find a ton of gift idea’s with personalization on the website, Etsy.  For instance, this blanket that was personalized is so adorable and is one of the great personalized gifts offered on Etsy. il_794xN.2101987871_quml

Etsy connects people looking for unique goods with independent sellers around the world. When you shop on Etsy.com, you can choose from millions of handmade, vintage, and craft supply items created and curated by millions of independent sellers. This is one of the reasons why I tend to use Etsy because I love supporting small business’ and local artist. Local Artist and Small Businesses don’t necessarily need to be the people right outside your home, these are people all across the world and Etsy allows you to support small by doing so.

The Give Back/Stylish gifts:  Have you heard of Pura Vida? Well two Southern California friends—Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman—took a college graduation trip down to Costa Rica in the summer of 2010, they came across two artisans whose colorful string bracelets captured the simple beauty of Costa Rica. Sadly the artist were struggling to survive on their artisan wages, living with their family in a single room with three beds. Desperate to find some way to help, Griffin and Paul asked the artisans to make 400 bracelets to take home with them, they put the bracelets on display in a local boutique, selling out completely within just a few days. And it hit them: These pieces were more than just simple friendship bracelets.3F9A2520_1200x1200_crop_center

I love these bracelets and not just what they mean and stand for but because they are so stylish! Pura Vida is having an awesome Black Friday sale, everything is 50% off! I also have a coupon code: DanielleGiordano20, this code will also give you 20% off your entire order!

 

 

 

 

Child(ren) Gifts:  Let’s be real for a second, toys are what every child wants for Christmas, but lets be practical this holiday season. Toys come and go, they break, pieces get lost, and ultimately, that toy isnt “fun” anymore. But do you know what is fun and what a child may cherish? Experience gifts!

What is an experience gift you may ask yourself, well an experience gift is one that provides a child a memory. From museum memberships to sporting passes, you can give your kids more than just another object for their playroom. It can create memories, help build skills and provide fun for the entire family.

Need some ideas? Here is a few to think of as options,

  • 1. Children’s theater season passes
  • 2. Trampoline jump passes
  • 3. Zoo membership
  • 4. Full session for new sport (gymnastics, football camp, etc.)
  • 5. Trip to the bookstore to pick out new books
  • 6. Local + national state park passes for a year
  • 7. Plane ticket to visit someone special (grandma, aunt, etc.)
  • 8. Pass to an art museum
  • 9. Cooking class for kids
  • 10. Tickets for child + friend for a local play
  • 11. Pottery making classes
  • 12.  Out of country airfare + accommodation (if you want to be truly indulgent)
  • 13. Swim lessons
  • 14. Aquarium yearly pass
  • 15. Subscription box
  • 16. A train ride to somewhere they’ve never been
  • 17. Musical instrument + lessons
  • 18. Flower or herb seeds to plant a garden
  • 19. Ballet classes + tutu
  • 20. Ceramic painting class

 

I hope the gift guide can assist you with coming up with the perfect gifts for your loved ones this holiday season. If you are not interested in purchasing gifts, I will be posting some awesome DIY gift idea’s in next weeks blog post. Check back!

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!

 

Baby “Flurry” … the winter “Baby Sprinkle”

Have you all heard of a baby shower for the second child? Well if not, its typically called a sprinkle. Get it, a baby shower for the first child and a baby sprinkle for the second?… Well, have you heard of a baby flurry? Probably not. It’s my take on a baby sprinkle that takes place in the cold winter months when it normally won’t sprinkle rain it will snow flurry.

My sister is pregnant with my littlest niece and the last time she had a baby was 5 years ago so she needed the necessitates again, bodysuit onesies, socks, bibs, hooded towels, the whole nine EXCEPT the big stuff like the crib and stroller and those things. So my mother and I decided lets throw a small intimate baby shower. So while I was looking up with theme ideas I thought a winter wonderland theme would be adorable and than I thought about calling the shower a flurry instead because of the winter theme.

Now that we have a theme, we needed to get the decorations and get the menu straightened out. I headed over to my local Hobby Lobby and saw that all their Christmas decorations were 50% off! So I did a happy dance in the aisle and I stocked up on as much silver glittered decorations, snowflakes, and lights I can get my hands on.

This theme does allow you to get pretty much all winter decor that you can possible think of PLUS I was able to use my own decor that I have for the holiday season and since I was buying some new things I would be able to incorporate in my holiday decorating too. A nice win for me! For the centerpieces we made wreathes with shatter proof ornaments and for the party favor we gifted snowflake ornaments.

The menu was your typical Italian American cuisine, except instead of getting it catered my mom, who once owned an Italian deli and market, opted to make all the dishes. I also decided instead of your typical salad, we would offer a salad bar so the guests could create any type of salad they would want with all the sides they can think of. The food was a hit and everyone raved about it. The salad bar will probably make its return to other parties that I plan and put together because it was easy to prepare and set up.

The Flurry was extremely successful, it was so nice to see all of our family and friends come together to celebrate the newest upcoming arrival of our family member. I do suggest having a second shower/sprinkle/flurry for the mom to be because a lot of the time these events take place years after the first child was born and unfortunately not all moms keep the items from their first child and they have to start from scratch again.

For Holiday gift ideas and decor check back to our previous blog post 

“What do you want to do?” “I don’t care, whatever you want to do” … Date Night Tips

Do you ever struggle to come up with something different than the typical dinner and movie date? I mean that is a classic date idea, I love anytime someone feeds me and I get to be quiet and watch a movie but the truth is, I sometimes fall asleep during the movie, especially if I am really full from dinner. It’s not so much a buzz kill to me but maybe to the person I am with, they probably wouldn’t be too excited while I am catching some Z’s while the new Marvel movie is playing, well truthfully, I love Marvel movies so I probably wouldn’t be catching up on my sleep during that one.

My husband and I are tired of the “what do you want to do?” “I don’t care, whatever you want to do” conversation. After a while, things get old and we fall into the same routine. Well this chick decided to spice things up a bit, don’t worry this is a PG post.

Last Valentine’s Day I made my own unique 52 Date Idea’s, so basically it gave us an idea for a date every week and take the “fun” out of being indecisive. Can you hear my sarcasm?

datejar

My husband loved this idea, not only did it get him off the hook on not being spontaneous and romantic but it took out the arguments or the repetitious date nights we have had in the past. Some of the date idea’s are your typical date nights but also are daytime dates and activities you wouldn’t necessarily think of being a date, for instance “Drive to a part of your town you never drive through and take a photo to document” this forced us to get out of our comfort zone and do something we may not think to do.

A few other Date Idea’s are below, feel free to use them for yourself and get out of that rut on trying to come up with new date nights.

1. Create a meal together and eat it only using toothpicks

2. Create a Scavenger hunt for each other

3. Go to a museum and pick out your favorite art

4. Make homemade pizza together

5. Go to the Dollar Movie or a Matinee

6. Go to the Drive-inn

7. Have a game night

8. Go to a local band performance for a night out of dancing and music

9. Grab a Groupon/LivingSocial Deal and go out to a restaurant you’ve never been before

10. Ice skating

11. Go to your local gun range and have a “friendly” competition

12. Stay at home Spa Night

13. Go bowling

14. Do a DIY project together

15. Write down questions about each other that you want to know and then take turns asking them to each other. (Tip: Don’t write yes or no questions)

You should definitely, make it a point to complete all 52 date idea’s before the year is up, it’ll be an accomplishment that you both will feel great about AND you created memories together!

 

Follow me on Instagram for more DIY tips and tricks and if you create this Date Night Jar, make sure you tag me in your post, I would love to see! #UrbanHippieCT

The Best Beef Chili for a Crowd

Have you ever cooked for a crowd? Or maybe you just decided it was too much preparation so you opted for getting the party catered. Well I decided for my son’s first birthday that maybe it would be easier to make the food all myself. Yes, you read that right, I decided to cook all the entrees AND dessert for my sons first birthday for 75 people. I am not exactly sure what award I thought I was going to win by doing this but I did it. And if I do say so myself I did a fan-tastic job, well so I was told. Maybe they we’re being nice or maybe it was true but I do know one of the entrees that I made that went SO fast that I knew it had to be THAT good. It was my beef chili.

Like I mentioned, I thought cooking for the party would be easy and to some extent it really was. My husband and I decided that since the party was going to be right smack in the middle of October we should do fall themed meals, different types of soups and two types of chili, beef and vegetarian. As I mentioned above, my beef chili went so fast I barely have any left overs AND I made it with 30 POUNDS of beef in a 160 QT pot! The video below will provide you a realistic look at how much chili there was.

This recipe was so good and everyone, kids and adults loved it so much that I walked away from that party with barely any left overs. I made the big pot of chili and also provided all the toppings for the Chili Bar. Below is the recipe for the chili and the options for the toppings, you may not be looking to feed 75 people and you can scale this recipe down to the number attendees you will have at your own party.

 

 

Ingredients

  • 30 pounds ground chuck
  • 8 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 green pepper, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 (14 1/2-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 10(8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 3 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 cup chili powder
  • 4 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 4 (16-ounce) cans light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (optional)

Toppings: (Optional)  sour cream, shredded Cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, sliced ripe black olives, avocado, and chips.

How to Make It

Step 1

Cook ground chuck, in batches, in a large skillet over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, stirring until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain. Put back in pot, stir in onions, next 12 ingredients, and, if desired, beans. Cook, covered, at HIGH 3 to 5 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard bay leaf. Serve with desired toppings.

 

Step 2

To freeze: Let chili stand 30 minutes. Evenly divide chili mixture into 3 (1-gallon) zip-top plastic freezer bags; seal and lay each bag flat. Stack bags of chili in freezer. Freeze up to 1 month. Thaw frozen chili overnight in refrigerator or defrost in microwave. Pour thawed chili into a 9-inch square baking dish. Cover tightly with heavy-duty plastic wrap, and fold back a corner to allow steam to escape. Microwave at HIGH 6 to 7 minutes or until bubbly, stirring after 3 1/2 minutes.

Wedding Bliss & Interior Design

Good morning all! It’s been a couple of months since my last blog post, I am terribly sorry for the delay, it’s been a crazy couple of months. In the 5-6 months since my last blog entry I have gotten married, expanded Urban Hippie LLC, and have be enjoying a beautiful summer with my family.

Just to give everyone a recap, Urban Hippie LLC specializes in, refurbishing and creating home décor, bath essentials, and apparel. We recently have started taking on jobs for interior design. We are able to come into your home or place of business and transform it to your vision and also use your current pieces and restore them into new decor. I am loving these amazing opportunities and feel so fortunate that people love our style and work that UH is being sought after.

Another incredible update is that Urban Hippie LLC has been featured in THREE publications for our work at a May wedding we supplied decor for! This has been such a huge honor to be recognized across the country. We offer decor for special event as well as making timeless bridal brooch bouquets that last not only during your special day but for years to come.

The publications that have featured us are, Borrowed & Blue , Modern Weddings, and in September we will be featured in Glittery Bride! (I will post the link when it becomes available.)

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Our gorgeous Brooch Bouquet that was created for our May wedding

 

If you are interested in interior designer work or wedding decor and bridal brooch bouquets, we are now offering all 3 services! Inquire today for a free quote!

 

 

Swap this Cookie for that Cookie

I absolutely love the holiday season and everything that comes with the holidays, the music, the lights, and of course the FOOD!

Over the years the holiday traditions have changed/ evolved and with that the holiday traditions you grew up with are either no longer or have expanded along with family members. I know for me on Christmas Eve it was hosted at my grandparents home, than over the years my parents would host, and then most recently about 3 years ago, I started hosting at my house with my fiance and his family members too.

Over the years family dynamic has changed and the different traditions have emerged. I recently have decided since the holiday season is a challenging one to try to get everyone together that I would start a new tradition, a Cookie Swap or Cookie Exchange.

I started doing some “pintrest homework” how to host the perfect Cookie Exchange.

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Here are some of my tip’s on hosting.

  • Make a digital invite, almost everyone has Facebook now adays or an email. Save money and send the invites out digitally!
  • Request your guests to make ingredients/ directions cards so if there is an allergy a guest will know
  • Don’t know how many cookies to have your guest bring, basically that is up to you but what I did was ask my guests to bring 6 dozen cookies, I had 6 women come so each of them brought a dozen of each cookie home

All of your guests want some kind of guidance!  Some are pros and some are baking for the first time.  Usually, you get someone that breaks the rules, but it’s okay.  As long as you let all of your guests know what you expect, it will all go smooth.

  • Decorate your home, at this time I am sure your home is decorated for the holidays so you may not have to do too much
  • When guests arrive with the cookies have them set up all the cookies in a designed area on the table, I had chalkboard labels to display each cookie name. This makes it easier for guests to know which cookie is which and make it easier for grabbing and voting!
  • Provide a festive drink, you can do hot cocoa, but I just stuck with wine.
  • Provide food/appetizers, while they are eye balling all of those cookies before the trade!  You may choose whether you want your guests to taste the cookies or not at all. Depending upon your budget, you may serve some light appetizers, other sweets, or even a meal. I choose an array of pickings.
  • If you are having a contest, give your guests voting ballets for the categories to vote
    • provide prizes or winner ribbons.

Some Prize Categories can be,

  • Most Amazing Display
  • Prettiest Cookie
  • Most Unique Cookie
  • Most Outrageous Holiday Outfit
  • Door Prize (Ask each guest to bring ONE cookie cutter.  Collect all of the cookie cutters and give them away as a prize!)

Some Idea Prizes can be,

  • Cookie Cookbook
  • Cookie jar
  • Cookie baking sheet
  • Cookie cooling racks
  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon and/or spatula
  • Measuring cups and/or spoons
  • Cookie cutter(s)
  • Cookie sprinkles
  • Pretty apron
  • Rolling pin
  • Parchment paper
  • Oven mitts

Now the time has come to exchange/ swap the cookies!

  • Take a moment to ask each of guests to share a story of the cookie recipe they brought, or their adventures of baking them.  Also, your guests may love to share some of their family holiday traditions.  This gives the others new ideas for their families!
  • Time to trade and exchange the cookies!  I hand each of my guests an aluminum disposable to go container with lid– found at any kind of dollar store.  I line each of them with holiday decorated tissue paper and now my guests are able to go around and fill up their containers!

I hope you all find this information helpful on planning a holiday cookie exchange party! If you are thinking of hosting one, take some bits and pieces from my experience of hosting and make them your own. Enjoy your time with you family and friends, this gathering should be a fun time to kick back and show your baking skills!

. . . .

The cookies I had made were Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies, below is my recipe

Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1 (11 oz.) bag caramel bites
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream/milk
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate baking bars
  • sea salt, for sprinkling on top
Instructions:
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium size bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric or stand mixer, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and vanilla extract until combined.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing between each egg.
  4. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. DO NOT OVERMIX!
  5. Using a spatula, stir in chocolate chips until combined.
  6. Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough into balls about 1 Tablespoons each and place onto prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
  8. Immediately after taking cookies out of the oven, using handle of a wooden spoon, make indentation into center of each cookie. Let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet.
  9. In a medium-sized bowl, combine caramel bits and heavy whipping cream. Microwave for 1 minute, stirring until caramel is completely melted. Spoon 1 teaspoon of caramel into each indentation.
  10. In a medium-sized bowl, microwave chocolate baking bars for 30 seconds, stirring after each 30-second intervals until chocolate is completed melted. Drizzle chocolate over cookies and sprinkle with sea salt.

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