Category Archives: Gifts

Homemade Twix Bars

Homemade Twix Bars | Revamperate Homemade Twix Bars | Revamperate Homemade Twix Bars | RevamperateRecently, I made these homemade butterfingers bars, and they were so popular that I thought it would be fun to make more candy. These Twix candy bars can be as easy or as difficult as you want them to be, depending on whether or not you make everything from scratch, and they make a nice last minute gift for someone! Plus, you know, they taste pretty good. Parts of this recipe you can make from scratch or purchase as a time-saver, such as the shortbread and caramel.

First, you’ll need to make shortbread with these ingredients (or you can buy shortbread cookies):

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

You’ll also need:

  • 1 bag of caramel candies (I used Kraft brand)
  • 1 bag chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon of water

Start out by making the shortbread by creaming together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Once it’s completed mixed, slowly mix in the flour. It may begin to get really thick and hard to turn. If so, pull it onto a piece of wax paper and kneed with your hands until it’s soft and combined. With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough onto the wax paper until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Using a ruler and a sharp knife, cut the dough into rectangles. You should be able to get 20-24 3×1 inch pieces out of the dough. Leave the pieces on a cookie sheet in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Bake on 325 degrees for about 25 minutes until the edges begin to brown. Remove immediately and cool on a cooling rack.

Turning to the caramel middle of the candy – melt the caramel candy on low heat with 1 tablespoon of water, stirring constantly with a spatula so it doesn’t burn. When all of the pieces are melted remove the pan from heat, and use the spatula to spread caramel onto the shortbread while it’s hot. The caramel will harden on top if the cookies shortbread pretty quickly.

In a separate bowl, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave on defrost mode for 30 seconds, removing it to stir and continuing to microwave and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. If it’s too thick, add a small amount of vegetable oil.Homemade Twix Bars | Revamperate Homemade Twix Bars | RevamperateUse a fork to carefully dip the caramel-covered cookies and chocolate and let them dry on a sheet of wax paper. Then they’re ready to eat! Store the Twix bars in an airtight container on the counter or in the fridge for several days. Note, the caramel hardens in the fridge, so let them sit out for a few minutes before eating so the caramel has time to soften slightly. Enjoy!

You can also see this shortbread recipe in my sweet and salty pretzel shortbread bars.

I’ll be going off the grid for the rest of the week to celebrate Thanksgiving in Northern California with Andrew’s family. When I come back, you can expect to see lots of lots of Christmas ideas. I’m honestly so excited!

This is the first Thanksgiving I’ve been able to enjoy in at least five years because I always worked in retail during the holidays, and before that, my sister worked in retail, so my family got used to not really celebrating Thanksgiving. We’ve always been more into celebrating Christmas, so it’s really wonderful to be able to spend this week around family. Happy Thanksgiving!

Salted Pretzel Almond Bark

Pretzel Almond Bark | Revamperate Pretzel Almond Bark | Revamperate Pretzel Almond Bark | RevamperateFor the days your sweet tooth needs some satisfaction but your mind keeps talking you out of it, you can still find a way to compromise. With this incredibly easy salted pretzel almond chocolate bark, you not only get a nice combination of sweet and salty but can snack without feeling super guilty. This sweet and salty bark makes a nice gift or just a good midnight snack.Pretzel Almond Bark | RevamperateTo make a small batch (about 10 pieces), you’ll need:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 handful of small pretzels
  • 1 handful of sliced almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (optional)

First, lay out a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet. In a small bowl, microwave the chocolate chips on defrost mode for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until the chocolate is completely melted. Pour the chocolate onto the wax paper and use the back of a spoon to spread it out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick, if not a little bit thicker.

Take a handful of pretzels and use your hands to crunch them into smaller pieces. Spread over the chocolate and gently press the pieces down. Do the same with the almond slices, pushing down slightly to press them into the chocolate. Place the salt in your hands and evenly sprinkle it around the chocolate. It adds a little extra salt if you want it. Otherwise, the pretzels also give it a saltiness.Pretzel Almond Bark | Revamperate Pretzel Almond Bark | Revamperate Pretzel Almond Bark | RevamperateLet the chocolate sit for a while, or put the sheet in the fridge to speed up the hardening of the chocolate. When it’s hard enough, use your hands to break it into pieces.

That’s all there is to it. Pretty easy, right? Package it up for a cute holiday gift or snack on it yourself. Enjoy!

Terracotta Pots: 3 Ways

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I’m not really allowed to own plants – they tend to live short lives under my care. To compromise my desire for plants and my lack of adequate plant care, I’ve taken on succulents. They’re small, which allows for easy placement, and they’re relatively inexpensive, which my small budget appreciates. The plants only cost a few dollars, and small terracotta pots with their corresponding trays are even less.

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Here, you see three ways to dress up terracotta pots with only a couple shades of paint, making it an easy weeknight project that you can finish in less than an hour.

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I gave the pink and gold one to my mom for Mother’s Day a while back, but the other two still sit on my dining room table. Amazingly enough, the plants are still alive and well. Let’s hope I can keep them that way!

DIY Personalized Gift Wrap

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IMG_5105I don’t know about you, but I find good wrapping paper expensive and hard to come by. Target (my go-to store for everything) generally has a pretty limited selection, and the good stuff can be pricey. Plus, I don’t always need an entire roll for small items.

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IMG_5088 Enter scrapbook paper and leftover scraps – you can wrap gifts with cheap, patterned scrapbook paper or dress up boring old wrapping paper with personal touches. If you’ve ever tried to nicely wrap something for an adult male’s birthday, you may notice that it’s really hard to find paper that is both not girly and not boyish. Using $.50 scrapbook paper, you can wrap small items with so much more variety than your average grocery or department store has to offer.

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For slightly larger items, take some plain colored paper, or perhaps even the white side of patterned paper, and use paint and a stencil to add the first letter of their name or even their full name. Similarly, dress up plain paper with stamps, watercolors and other embellishments!

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For an added touch, add ribbons and bows (I like to believe that even boys appreciate these things). Even though wrapping paper gets ripped off, people usually appreciate a nicely wrapped gift. Well, I do at least.

With Andrew’s birthday and my aunt’s falling on the same day, we planned a trip to Arizona on the river. Not only did I personalize my wrapping, I made Andrew go on a scavenger hunt around my aunt’s house to find his gifts. We had a wonderful weekend away full of lots and lots of celebrating. His actual birthday is tomorrow, so the celebrations don’t end here!

DIY Wedding Card Box

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My coworker is getting married in June, and when she showed me the card box she wanted to rent for the wedding, I insisted I could make her one instead. It was a long and daunting process because I had never tried something like this before, but I’m glad to see that it’s finally finished! This is a fairly long tutorial because it includes a lot of small details, but they are all important for making the project a little easier for you.

To do this project, you’ll need:

  • At least two layers of thick cardboard boxes, such as hat boxes
  • Fabric, stretchy is best
  • Spray adhesive – I recommend Elmer’s Craft Bond brand
  • Tulle
  • Embellishments
  • Cutting tool and scissors
  • Glue gun

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First, measure your fabric by placing the side of the box on the fabric and cutting one to two inches from the edge. It is always better to have too much leftover fabric than not enough because you can easily cut off the excess. Most likely your boxes will have tops like mine do. To measure fabric for the tops, lay the top flat on the fabric and cut a large circle around it, leaving at least one to two inches of space from the edge of the top. Set aside for now.

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If using only two tiers, place the smaller tier on top of the larger tier. It should be centered in the middle. Using a pencil, trace the outline of the smaller box onto the top of the larger box. This will give you an idea of how large of a hole to cut between the boxes.

Using your cutting tool, cut approximately one inch into this outline on the larger box top. Cut a circle as best you can. The boxes are made of a heavy paper mache-like cardboard, so they are not easy to cut. The circle doesn’t have to be pretty because you’re going to cover it. Be sure to leave at least one inch all the way around so that your smaller box will have space to rest around the hole in the large box.

Based on the size of the hole you just created, you need to create a similar hole in the bottom of the smaller box that is at least one to two inches from the edge. If it helps, use a ruler to measure about one inch into the box to begin cutting a role or use any additional smaller tiers to measure the size. Remember that the holes in your boxes need to be large enough for an average envelope to fall through them, but you need to leave enough space for the boxes to fit together on top of the holes.

Next, use the cutting tool to cut a five inch slit centered in the top of the smaller box. This will be where people drop their cards. Try to open it up to approximately 5 inches by half an inch so an average card will easily slide through.

When everything is cut, you can begin gluing on the fabric. I tried at least three different kinds of spray adhesive doing this project and learned that Elmer’s Craft Bond works the best by far. It’s easy to find at Michael’s (and it’s coupon-eligible!). Also an important tip – wear gloves when doing a project like this with spray adhesive. It takes days to scrub off otherwise!

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Take off the tops – you will cover these separately. Lightly cover the surface with spray adhesive  and slowly attach the fabric, leaving the extra fabric hanging over the top and bottom. Next, you’re going to glue the fabric into the inside of the box and to the bottom. Using your scissors, make small slits from the edge of the fabric into where the fabric meets the box about one inch apart. Do this for both the top and bottom. Even if the fabric is stretchy, gluing down the edges is difficult without these slits. Spray the adhesive into top, inside edge of the box all the way around and smooth the slitted pieces of fabric down onto the adhesive. Use the same technique for the bottom.

Repeat for all tiers.

Next, you’ll need to use your scissors to cut holes where the holes in your boxes are – the large hole in one and the long slit in the other. Leave space for the excess fabric to fold inside like you did with the other edges. For the edges of the tops, use the same technique as before, cutting slits to glue it inside. You will likely notice that the fabric bunches up around the edges, regardless of this slit-and-glue technique. This is pretty unavoidable for a round top. After everything is finished, you can add embellishments to the sides to cover up this imperfection.

When everything is glued down and glued to the insides, you can use a glue gun (the heavier duty, the better) to glue the smaller tier to the larger tier, ensuring that is centered. It will stick but can come apart if you pull on it too much, so be careful when moving it.

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Then you can start adding embellishments! I used a piece of tulle to tie around the middle into a knot, cut the ends and added a broach to the center of it. My coworker also found this great rhinestone ribbon that you can easily cut to be the correct size, so we sprayed it with adhesive and placed it around the edges of the tops and around the slit in the top to hide any imperfections.

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And with that, it’s finished! She was really happy with the outcome, and this tutorial allows you to simply take the top off to get the cards out, making things a little easier. It’s fragile but reusable for many years to come!

Girl Scout Tagalong Cookie Truffles

IMG_3741 Who doesn’t love Girl Scout cookies, right? I grew up as a Girl Scout, so I’d always try to beg my mom to buy enough to survive on for the rest of the year. Even know, during Girl Scout cookie season, I will always have a cookie-stocked pantry. Hence the dawn of baking with Girl Scout cookies. Of all the things I could do with them, I decided to make truffles.

This recipe only makes ten truffles, so double up if you want more!

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6 or more Tagalong cookies (or knockoffs)
1/4 cup peanut butter
Bar of baking chocolate
2 1/2 ounces cream cheese

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First, grind up the cookies in a food processor. Move the mixture to a bowl and use the back of a spoon to crush any remaining crunchy pieces. Because of the soft chocolate coating, the cookies would not grind very finely in my ancient food processor. Add in approximately 1/4 cup of peanut butter and 2 1/2 ounces of cream cheese. Use a spoon or spatula to mix everything together. It should be somewhat smooth but still thick.

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Form balls with your hands and place them on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper or aluminum foil. Then melt the bar of baking chocolate according the instructions on the package. Dip each ball into the chocolate and lay back on the cookie sheet. Refrigerate until the chocolate has solidified.

While their cooling, microwave a tablespoon of peanut butter in a small bowl. 30 seconds is all you need. Mix it well. It should be very thin. Using a spoon, gently pour a little bit of the peanut butter over the truffles and put them back in the refrigerator.

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Ta-da! All done and they taste delicious…obviously, since they’re made with Girl Scout cookies.

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Stud Earring Jewelry Box

IMG_3643 I’ve only had my ears pierced for a little over a year now, but I quickly started collecting earrings. I love earrings and find myself looking at them everywhere I go. At first, I would put all of my studs in a small glass catch-all bowl I picked up at IKEA. Then I accumulated more and more earrings, and it would take me five minutes to dig through the bowl to find what I was looking for. A while back, I came up with one earring storage solution with my lace earring tree for longer, dangly ones, but the studs were another story. Finally, I found a solution – a jewelry box. It sounds so obvious now, and it was one of the easiest projects that I’ve made.

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You’ll need a shallow, wooden box that is wide enough to fit a pencil. I found the perfect one at Michael’s for just $5 (plus a coupon)! You will also need approximately eight unsharpened pencils, a hot glue gun, approximately eight pieces of felt, and some craft paint with paint brushes.

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First, I painted the box white. I wanted something simple to blend in with the rest of my room since my dresser is already really crowded. While you wait for it to dry, cut the sides of the felt to match the width of the inside of the box. Mine was 8.5 inches wide. I chose black to stand out against the white, but my black or dark colored earrings blend in a little too well. I’d suggest a different color. Using the hot glue gun, glue the pencil to the very end of the felt and begin rolling it so that the felt curls tightly around the pencil. Glue the end of the felt to the wrapped portion. This should fit somewhat snuggly inside the box. Do that to all of your pencils. I used eight total because of the size of my box, but for the last roll, I cut the felt so that the roll would be thinner than all of the others. The last roll needed to be thinner to fit inside the box without making the others too crammed together, and without the last roll there was too much space.

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Then add in your studs and enjoy! It’s quick, easy and very efficient. And I live for efficient!