Am I really a “healthy living blogger?” (Holiday Crafting, Baking, & Gifting)

Thinking-Out-Loud

I’m a healthy living blogger. At least that’s what the business cards I ordered say.

What does that mean? Balance.

Lately, I’ve posted about cookie swaps, craft events, blogger meetups (food bloggers and general blogging), and today’s post is about holiday gifting.

So after some thinking, I decided that I can still be a healthy living blogger. How? This is all a part of finding balance and living life healthier.

Crafting is healthy and therapeutic, as is baking. Joy the Baker found a post that supports this theory. If you read this post, no wonder I picked it up in 2010 when I was anorexic/exercise bulimic and depressed.

Crafting and baking yield something satisfying, almost immediately.

Giving breeds happiness. See, it’s #4.

So I mixed them up and for the holidays, I crafted and “baked” my way to holiday gifting.

Cake batter chocolate bark Everyone will want these so make a few extra batches. Take care and don’t rush because you’ll burn the white chocolate, fail to let the white chocolate melt and glue onto the dark chocolate, and the sprinkles will fall off. I used Ghirardelli (2 bags for $5).

DIY Sharpie initial mug I used Sharpie paint pens! Michaels always has a ridiculously good coupon. The mug was $2 from Michaels too!

Ceramic tile coasters This was a 5AM project. It took an hour to Mod Podge. Then I went to work and came home to put on the EnviroTex seal… now they have to dry for 72 hours?! I used paper from Paper Source that I got from a co-worker.

Cards I’ve never had personalized cards made. I usually go and pick out the best one.

When I had more time (at TJ Maxx)…

When I was in a crunch and Target’s selection was lacking…

Gift wrap I never quite plan ahead enough for gift wrap so I just pick the best ones at the store. I look for quality paper (TJ Maxx and Marshalls have good ones) because I hate struggling with ripped paper.

Other gifts: chocolates from Trader Joe’s, local food items (from all those craft events), and Starbucks because it’s a staple and I got 3 of them as gifts.

What are your go-tos for people you must get gifts for but aren’t sure what to get them? I’m usually a pro at getting good gifts. :) However, this is a struggle when the other person doesn’t talk as much as I do.

What’s your favorite holiday DIY?

LA Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars

What’s this? Another cookie swap? That’s right y’all. This time I got to meet up with some bloggers in person! We met up at Blacktop Coffee in Los Angeles.

The LA Food Bloggers is run by Christine, Maryanne, and Ellen (who got sick that day).

We discussed melted and creamed butter, shared ideas, expressed our passions, and got to know each other in general.

Christine made lemon madeleinesI need a madeleine pan!

Maryanne made the perfect brown sugar chocolate chunk cookies with hazelnut and sea salt. They were not too sweet and went perfectly with the coffee at Blacktop Coffee.

Sarah of Honey & Limes brought walnut thumbprint cookies with a strawberry jam, and her roommate made Speculoos cookiesThey almost matched in size.

Veronica from Collard Greens & Caviar made her grandmother’s Bromont Avenue Tea Cakes.

I made peppermint bark cookie bars.

I can’t say this recipe is 100% original because I fell in love with the cookie bars from Chelsea, the blogger behind the KaTom blog.

You can pretty much put any kind of chocolate-y candy in this to spice things up. This time, instead of using Ghirardelli dark chocolate peppermint bark, I picked up some Dove Promises because they were cheaper.

Melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and vanilla. Then crack in the egg.

Mix in the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Butter a 8×8 or 9×9 square pan then spread the batter in. I used my hands to even it out. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Let it sit for awhile then cut into 16 squares.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of broken peppermint bark *I used a Ziploc bag and a rubber mallet.
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Melt the butter in a microwave for 30 seconds.
  • Transfer butter to a medium-large mixing bowl. Use the residual to butter a 8×8 or 9×9 square cake pan.
  • Add brown sugar and vanilla. Mix with a rubber spatula.
  • Stir in the egg.
  • Slowly stir in the flour, 1/2 a cup at a time.
  • Sprinkle on the baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • Fold in the candy pieces.
  • Press into the cake pan.
  • Bake for 23 minutes. Seriously.

Treat Yourself Tuesday: Renegade Craft Fair LA & Exploring A New LA Neighborhood

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This weekend, I headed to LA for a [food] blogger meetup. The girls selected Blacktop Coffee and an area that was unbeknownst to me.

And just a few streets down was the Renegade Craft Fair. Of course, I knew about it and had intentions of going.

We didn’t buy anything but got a nice walk, made some free crafts (thanks Martha/American Made), and was inspired to do more crafting.

I picked Asheville for my Mod Podge house.

Because we were starving after eating only cookies for breakfast, my cousin Catherine and I walked over to Grand Central Market for eggslutThe line was insane though. There were tons of other places to eat, and yes, it did feel like I was in New York architecturally and with diverse food, deli counters, and it was packed!

I decided on Wexler’s Deli‘s O.G. pastrami sandwich, a really greasy sandwich.

Cat wanted French toast, or as she says “triangle bread,” from Valerie.

L.A. is so spread out that I’m not even sure where downtown really is. LA has its beach cities and grungy downtown/Garment District but there are pockets of crafty, hipster (let’s be real, I like that stuff) spots that I really enjoy.

So far, this area of Los Angeles was quite impressive: Grand Park near the Civic Center and the Arts District where Blacktop Coffee is located.

If you’ve been to L.A., where is your favorite area or neighborhood?

If you live in or have been to New York City, where should I go visit? I went once and want to go again so ideas!